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Links 12/2/2019: PyPy 7.0.0, HHVM 4.0.0 and CVE-2019-5736

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  • Desktop

    • Open source project aims to make Ubuntu usable on Arm-powered Windows laptops
      Back in December 2017, Microsoft and Qualcomm announced a partnership to pair Windows 10 and Snapdragon Arm processors for ultra-thin LTE-connected netbooks with a 20+ hour battery life. This Windows-on-Arm initiative has faced several stumbling blocks, with the the first-generation HP Envy x2 and Asus NovaGo criticized for poor performance and app compatibility in Windows 10, due in large part to an inline x86 emulator for apps written for Windows on Intel or AMD processors.

      Now, a group of programmers and device hackers are working to bring proper support for Ubuntu to Arm-powered Windows laptops, starting with first-generation Snapdragon 835 systems, like the HP Envy x2 and Asus NovaGo. The aarch64-laptops project on GitHub provides prebuilt images for the aforementioned notebook PCs, as well as the Lenovo Miix 630.

    • It's Becoming Possible To Run Linux Distributions On The HP/ASUS/Lenovo ARM Laptops
      We've been looking forward to the possibility of having a nice 64-bit ARM Linux laptop with decent power and nice build quality. Several major vendors having been rolling out Windows ARM laptops powered by Qualcomm chips and the like with decent specs and quality, unlike some of the cheap ARM Linux laptop efforts we've seen. For those Windows ARM laptops, headway is being made in being able to run Linux on them.

      A Phoronix reader pointed out the aarch64-laptops on GitHub effort that is spinning Ubuntu Linux images that work on some of the more prominent Windows ARM laptops. Prebuilt images are currently available for the ASUS NovaGo TP370QL, HP Envy x2, and Lenovo Mixx 630.
    • Now you can run Linux on (some) ARM laptops designed for Windows 10 on ARM
      The first Windows 10 laptops and tablets with ARM processors shipped in 2018… to mixed reviews.

      The Asus NovaGo, HP Envy x2, and Lenovo Miix 630 are relatively thin and light devices with long battery life and support for 4G LTE. But they’re also relatively sluggish computers... especially when Windows has emulate x86 architecture to run software that wasn’t designed for ARM chips.

      But that’s Windows. What if you want to run a different operating system on these computers? Up until recently there hasn’t been a good way to do that. But now the folks behind the AArch64 Laptops open source project on github have come up with a way to install Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on some of the first Windows 10 on ARM laptops.

    • Dark Mode on Apple’s macOS? Linux did it First
      Last year, Apple introduced the highly anticipated “dark mode” feature on their macOS (Mojave) desktop operating system. Many Apple fans regarded it as a cool and useful enhancement to their desktop user interface. It allowed users to turn on the system-wide dark color scheme and encouraged third-party app developers to offer a dark mode for their Mac apps. If you are thinking that Apple is the first to use this feature on the desktop, think again.

      As far as I can remember, Linux is the first desktop OS that lets users easily customize the UI and provided plenty of dark theme options. I think Ubuntu started the trend in using darker themes out of the box several years ago, and they did it in a more elegant way when compared to other Linux distros. Elegant in a way that the dark scheme UI was consistently used and built-in apps were using dark themes.

    • Best Chromebooks you can buy today
      With the rise of Android and Linux app support on Chrome OS, the possibilities for a high-end Chromebook have never been greater. Combined with the new tablet form factor, Chrome OS is becoming quite the all-in-one operating system. Let’s take a look at the best Chromebooks on the market today.

  • Server

    • Measuring user experience success with building blocks
      PatternFly is an open source design system used by Red Hat to maintain visual consistency and usability across the product portfolio. When the PatternFly team started work on PatternFly 4, the next major version of the system, they focused a large part of their effort on evolving the visual language. But how would users respond to the new look and feel?

      To get the raw and unfiltered feedback the team needed, Sara Chizari, a UXD user researcher, planned a reaction study with a fun twist and then headed to Red Hat Summit in San Francisco.

    • Backup partners target Red Hat Ceph Storage
      Red Hat Ceph Storage provides object, block and file data services for organizations modernizing their hybrid-cloud and data analytics infrastructures. With the release of Red Hat Ceph Storage 3.2, improved performance and functionality is driving new storage use cases in the modernized datacenter.

      In addition to data security and integrity, organizations must consider their strategy around data protection, backup and archiving. Whether you are backing up your enterprise application data as part of a disaster recovery strategy, or you are performing deep archives of sensitive records, rich media, or regulated data, Red Hat works with industry-leading backup, recovery and archiving partners to certify Ceph as a backup target for your most important data.

    • Effortless API creation with full API lifecycle using Red Hat Integration (Part 1)
      Nowadays, API development with proper lifecycle management often takes days if not weeks to get a simple API service up and running. One of the main reasons behind this is there are always way too many parties involved in the process. Plus there are hours of development and configuration.

    • Announcing Kubernetes-native self-service messaging with Red Hat AMQ Online
      Microservices architecture is taking over software development discussions everywhere. More and more companies are adapting to develop microservices as the core of their new systems. However, when going beyond the “microservices 101” googled tutorial, required services communications become more and more complex. Scalable, distributed systems, container-native microservices, and serverless functions benefit from decoupled communications to access other dependent services. Asynchronous (non-blocking) direct or brokered interaction is usually referred to as messaging.

      Managing and setting up messaging infrastructure components for development use was usually a long prerequisite task requiring several days on the project calendar. Need a queue or topic? Wait at least a couple weeks. Raise a ticket with your infrastructure operations team, grab a large cup of coffee, and pray for them to have some time to provision it. When your development team is adopting an agile approach, waiting days for infrastructure is not acceptable.

    • Settling In With IBM i For The Long Haul
      If nothing else, the IBM i platform has exhibited extraordinary longevity. One might even say legendary longevity, if you want to take its history all the way back to the System/3 minicomputer from 1969. This is the real starting point in the AS/400 family tree and this is when Big Blue, for very sound legal and technical and marketing reasons, decided to fork its products to address the unique needs of large enterprises (with the System/360 mainframe and its follow-ons) and small and medium businesses (starting with the System/3 and moving on through the System/34, System/32, System/38, and System/36 in the 1970s and early 1980s and passing through the AS/400, AS/400e, iSeries, System i, and then IBM i on Power Systems platforms.

      It has been a long run indeed, and many customers who have invested in the platform started way back then and there with the early versions of RPG and moved their applications forward and changed them as their businesses evolved and the depth and breadth of corporate computing changed, moving on up through RPG II, RPG III, RPG IV, ILE RPG, and now RPG free form. Being on this platform for even three decades makes you a relative newcomer.

    • Kiwi TCMS 6.5.3
      We're happy to announce Kiwi TCMS version 6.5.3! This is a security, improvement and bug-fix update that includes new versions of Django, includes several database migrations and fixes several bugs. You can explore everything at!

    • How to explain Kubernetes Operators in plain English

    • The State of High-Performance Fabrics: A Chat with the OpenFabrics Alliance
      The global high-performance computing (HPC) market is growing and its applications are constantly evolving. These systems rely on networks, often referred to as fabrics, to link servers together forming the communications backbone of modern HPC systems. These fabrics need to be high speed and highly scalable to efficiently run advanced computing applications. Often, there is also a requirement that the software that runs these fabrics be open source. It turns out that this description of high-performance fabrics is increasingly applicable to environments outside classical HPC, even as HPC continues to serve as the bellwether for the future of commercial and enterprise computing. Fortunately, the mission of the OpenFabrics Alliance (OFA) has recently been updated to include accelerating the development of advanced fabrics and importantly to further their adoption in fields beyond traditional HPC.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Linux Action News 92
      A week of nasty security flaws, and a lack of patches... For some of us. Raspberry Pi opens a physical store, our thoughts on the new LibreOffice interface, and the new round of nasty flaws hitting all versions of Android.

      Plus new disk encryption coming to Linux, Intel releases their open source encoder for future video on the web, and more.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.0, Canonical Update, openSUSE Board Elections, Woman and Girls in Science, European Astro-Pi Challenge
      The release candidate 6 for the highly anticipated 5.0 Linux kernel was just released. You can view the changeset for 5.0-rc6 here. Canonical issued an update (USN-3878-3) and a formal apology for a recent kernel update regression that prevented systems with certain graphics chipsets from booting. A stable version of Chrome OS 72 was just released on Friday which introduces better access to external storage, touchscreen optimizations for tablet mode and more.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Gain Valuable Kubernetes Skills and Certification with Linux Foundation Training
        Quick, what was the the most dominant technology skill requested by IT firms in 2018? According to a study from job board Dice, Kubernetes skills dominated among IT firm requests, and this news followed similar findings released last year from jobs board Indeed. The Dice report, based on its available job postings, found that Kubernetes was heavily requested by IT recruiters as well as hiring managers. As SDX Central has reported: “Indeed’s work found that Kubernetes had the fastest year-over-year surge in job searches among IT professionals. It also found that related job postings increased 230 percent between September 2017 and September 2018.”

      • ODPi Announces New Egeria Conformance Program to Advance Open Metadata Exchange Between Vendor Tools
        ODPi, a nonprofit Linux Foundation project, accelerating the open ecosystem of big data solutions, today announced the ODPi Egeria Conformance Program, which ensures vendors who ship ODPi Egeria in their product offerings are delivering a consistent set of APIs and capabilities, such that data governance professionals can easily build an enterprise-wide metadata catalog that all their data tools can easily leverage.

        Egeria is one of the open source projects under the ODPi umbrella. ODPi aims to be a standard for simplifying, sharing and developing an open big data ecosystem.

      • Open Mainframe Project Advances Modern Mainframe with Production Ready Zowe 1.0
        The Open Mainframe Project (OMP) announced today that Zowe, an open source software framework for the mainframe that strengthens integration with modern enterprise applications, is now production ready less than six months after launching. Any enterprise or solution developer can access the Zowe 1.0 source code or convenience build and incorporate it into their products or services with the agility and scalability of a cloud platform.

        Hosted by The Linux Foundation, the Open Mainframe Project is comprised of business and academic leaders within the mainframe community that collaborate to develop shared tool sets and resources. OMP launched Zowe, the first-ever open source project based on z/OS, last August to serve as an integration platform for the next generation of tools for administration, management and development on z/OS mainframes.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Pixman 0.38 Released With Meson Build System Support
        Pixman 0.38 is out this morning to kick off a new week of open-source software releases. Pixman is the pixel manipulation library used by the X.Org Server, Cairo, and other Linux software projects.

        The Pixman 0.38 release isn't the most exciting update and in fact only a handful of changes over Pixman 0.36 from last November, which itself was the first update to this library in three years. Pixman doesn't see too much activity these days thanks in part to more software using Vulkan and OpenGL to benefit from GPU hardware acceleration. The two primary changes of Pixman 0.38.0 is introducing Meson build system support and implementing floating point gradient computation.

      • Vulkan 1.1.100 Released Ahead Of Vulkan's Third Birthday
        Vulkan 1.1.100 was published this morning as the latest version of this high-performance, multi-platform graphics and compute API.

        While the patch version rolled over to 100, that's about as exciting as this update gets to Vulkan API with no major changes to mark this milestone. There aren't any great new extensions or major changes to this version number, but just some documentation/specification clarifications and corrections.

      • Sway 1.0 Close To Release For This Very Promising Wayland Compositor
        Out today is the second release candidate of the feature-packed Sway 1.0 Wayland compositor that continues to be inspired by the i3 window manager.

        Since last week's Sway 1.0 RC1, the compositor entered its feature freeze until the stable release happens. As such, in today's Sway 1.0 RC2 update is just a variety of bug/regression fixes.

        The Sway 1.0 development over the past number of months has brought a lot of improvements and new features from multi-GPU support, support for new Wayland protocols, video capture support, integration around the WLROOTS library, tablet support, and many other additions.

      • NVIDIA's VDPAU Picks Up HEVC 4:4:4 Support
        While NVIDIA is no longer active promoting their Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix "VDPAU" in favor of the cross-platform, CUDA-focused Video Codec SDK with NVENC/NVDEC, the VDPAU library still sees some rare activity from time to time.

        As the first commits since November, last week libvdpau added support for the HEVC 4:4:4 profile to the VDPAU API. This support for H.265 4:4:4 video decoding was added to the libvdpau API and presumably will be exposed by the NVIDIA proprietary driver shortly if it's not already in place with its own VDPAU library build.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • 21 Excellent KDE Plasma Widgets
        After desktop hopping for many years, I’m fairly settled on KDE Plasma 5. It’s a lightweight and responsive desktop which is full-featured and beguiling to the eye. In my opinion, one of the aspects that stands KDE Plasma head and shoulders above its desktop peers is extensibility. Plasma lets you configure the desktop to your specific preferences.

        KDE Plasma widgets (also known as plasmoids) are a smart way of customizing the desktop. There’s an abundance of widgets available that act like building blocks, constructing a desktop that’s perfect for your needs and requirements. I’ve tried the vast majority of KDE Plasma widgets. In this article, I recommend 21 of them. There should be something for everyone. And there’s a few fun widgets along the way!

        The vast majority of my recommendations can be installed using the Plasma Add-On Installer (see image below). There’s a few that need a bit of effort to install, but I’ll provide details to get them working. This can involve downloading the widget’s source code, compiling that code, and installing it. Widgets can also be installed from a local file.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.55 Released for KDE Plasma 5.15, Improves Android Notifications
        Just in time for the February 12 release of the highly anticipated KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop environment, the KDE Frameworks 5.55.0 open-source software suite is now available with dozens of improvements, updates, new features, and countless bug fixes. First and foremost, the Breeze icon theme received lots of new icons, so you should see a pleasing refresh after updating your KDE Plasma desktop to KDE Frameworks 5.55.

        Moreover, the exiv2extractor utility received support for BMP, GIF, WebP, and TGA image formats, taglibwriter received support for additional mimetypes, the KIconThemes, KService, KXMLGUI, and Solid components are now built without D-Bus on Android, KNotification received Android notification channel support and support for Android API level < 23, and KTextEditor got a bunch of improvements too.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.55 Released With Android Notifications, KWayland Fixes

      • KDE Plasma 5.16 Desktop to Improve Multi-Screen Support, System Settings Pages
        Renowned KDE developer Nate Graham published another weekly report on the new features and improvements he and his team worked on for upcoming versions of the KDE Plasma desktop environment, as well as the KDE Applications and KDE Frameworks software suites. The good news is that the issue is already fixed in KDE Plasma 5.15.

        First and foremost, the developer reveals the fact that a KDE Plasma bugfix release will be available this week to address a critical issue in the latest KDE Plasma 5.14.5 desktop environment which prevents users from updating their system via the Plasma Discover package manager.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • antiX MX 18.1 Distro Released with Latest Debian GNU/Linux 9.7 "Stretch" Updates
        Based on Debian GNU/Linux 9.7 "Stretch," antiX MX 18.1 updates the mx-installer, which is based on gazelle-installer, to address bug that lead to crashes during installation of the GRUB bootloader, adds support in mx-repo-manager to lists even more repository mirrors, and improves MX-PackageInstaller and MX-Conky.

        Another important area improved in antiX MX 18.1 is the antiX live-USB image, which now features persistence up to 20GB of disk space, as well as much better UEFI boot capabilities, especially when running it on 64-bit UEFI systems. The devs consider creating a "full-featured" antiX live-USB for 32-bit UEFI systems as well.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • OpenMandriva 4.0 LX Beta Run Through

      • OpenMandriva 4.0 Enters Beta with Linux 4.20, KDE Plasma 5.15 & LibreOffice 6.2
        The OpenMandriva project finally kicked of 2019 with the beta release of their upcoming and long-anticipated OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 operating system. A few months in the works, the OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Beta release is now ready for public testing, shipping with lots of updated packages and numerous improvements. The Live ISO image got refreshed a bit and it now features new entries for language and keyboard preference in the boot menu and the KPatience card game.

        Also added in the Live ISO image is the KBackup utility as a replacement for draksnapshot to help users backup directories or files, Dnfdragora GUI package manager as a replacement for rpmdrake, Plasma Software Updates applet for applying packag updates using PackageKit, and KUser tool for managing users and groups as a replacement for userdrake.

        Among the main components included in OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Beta, we can mention the KDE Plasma 5.15 Beta desktop environment, which is accompanied by the KDE Frameworks 5.54.0 and KDE Applications 18.12.1 software suites, as well as Qt 5.12 application framework. Updated apps include the recently released LibreOffice 6.2 office suite, Mozilla Firefox 65, digiKam 6.0, and Krita

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 30 Will Get Bash 5.0 But Yum's Death Sentence Postponed To F31
        Fedora's Engineering and Steering Committee approved new work around the in-development Fedora 30.

        Originally Fedora 29 was going to drop the old Yum package manager bits now that the DNF package manager has been in good shape for years and is largely a drop-in replacement to Yum. That didn't happen for Fedora 29 and just recently was proposed to drop Yum 3 for Fedora 30, but with that change coming in late and some tooling bits not ready in time, that has been diverted to Fedora 31. FESCo approves of dropping Yum 3 for Fedora 31 and is hoping it will be removed right after Rawhide branches for F30, giving plenty of time to fix any issues that may come up or other unexpected problems.
      • Fedora 31 Should Be Out Around The End of November
        While Fedora 31 was once talked about to never happen or be significantly delayed to focus on re-tooling the Linux distribution, they opted for a sane approach not to throw off the release cadence while working on low-level changes around the platform. A draft of the release schedule for Fedora 31 has now been published and it puts the release date at the end of November.

        Rather than delaying or cancelling the Fedora 31 release, it will go on like normal and the developers will need to work in their changes to the confines of their traditional six month release cadence.

      • Draft Fedora 31 schedule available
        It’s almost time for me to submit the Fedora 31 schedule to FESCo for approval. Before I do that, I’m sharing it with the community for comment. After some discussion before the end of the year, we decided not to go with an extended development cycle for Fedora 31. After getting input from teams within Fedora, I have a draft schedule available.

        The basic structure of the Fedora 31 schedule is pretty similar to the Fedora 30 schedule. You may notice some minor formatting changes due to a change in the tooling, but the milestones are similar. I did incorporate changes from different teams. Some tasks that are no longer relevant were removed. I added tasks for the Mindshare teams. And I included several upstream milestones.

    • Debian Family

      • An Everyday Linux User Review Of Debian 9
        Over the past few months I have been working my way through the top Linux distributions and writing a review for each one.

        Thus far I have covered Manjaro, Linux Mint, Elementary, MX Linux and Ubuntu. These reviews are based on the top 5 distributions as listed at Distrowatch. Number 6 on that list is Debian which is the distribution I am reviewing here.

        The list of distributions at Distrowatch include every distribution that you may or may or not have heard of and it is worth pointing out that not every distribution on the list is suitable for everybody’s needs. For example Kali is very popular with penetration testers and security experts because it comes with a whole range of tools for testing networks and for searching for vulnerabilities. Kali however is not suitable for the average Joe who primarily uses their system for web browsing and casual gaming.

        The Everyday Linux User blog is about looking at Linux distributions from the point of view of an average computer user. What this means is that it isn’t specifically for developers, for hackers, for artists, musicians or video bloggers. The reviews are aimed at showing off a standard desktop operating system that by and large should be easy to install, easy to use and should either provide a good variety of applications or the ability to easily install those applications.

        With this in mind whilst reviewing certain distributions I will state where that distribution is or isn’t necessarily suitable for the Everyday Linux User.

      • Derivatives

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Google open sources ClusterFuzz
    The fuzzing software is designed to automatically feed unexpected inputs to an application in order to unearth bugs.

    Google originally wrote ClusterFuzz to test for bugs in its Chrome web browser, throwing 25,000 cores at the task. In 2012, Google said that ClusterFuzz was running around 50 million test cases a day on Chrome. So far it’s helped find some 16,000 bugs in the web browser.


    ClusterFuzz has been released under version 2.0 of the Apache License.

  • Google open-sources ClusterFuzz, a tool that has uncovered 16,000 bugs in Chrome
    Ever heard of “fuzzing”? It’s not what you think — in software engineering, the term refers to a bug-detecting technique that involves feeding “unexpected” or out-of-bounds inputs to target programs. It’s especially good at uncovering memory corruption bugs and code assertions, which normally take keen eyes and a lot of manpower — not to mention endless rounds of code review.

    Google’s solution? Pass the fuzzing work off to software. Enter ClusterFuzz, a cheekily named infrastructure running on over 25,000 cores that continuously (and autonomously) probes Chrome’s codebase for bugs. Two years ago, the Mountain View company began offering ClusterFuzz as a free service to open source projects through OSS-Fuzz, and today, it’s open-sourcing it on GitHub.

  • 2018 Open Source Yearbook: Download the PDF
    The 2018 Open Source Yearbook is the 4th annual community-contributed collection of the past year's top open source projects, people, tools, and stories.

    Submit the form below to download the free PDF to read the complete collection.

  • Events

    • Last week of early birds!
      We do have some parts of the schedule fixed: the trainings and some initial speakers.

      The trainings are open enrollment courses at a bargain price, where parts of the dividends goes to financing the conference. This year we have two great trainers: Michael Kerrisk of manpage and The Linux Programming Interface fame, and Chris Simmonds, the man behind the Mastering Embedded Linux Programming book and a trainer since more than 15 years. The trainings held are: Building and Using Shared Libraries on Linux and Fast Track to Embedded Linux. These are both one day courses held in a workshop format.

    • 2019
      Along with a number of other Canonical staff I recently attended 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. I consider this the major Australia/New Zealand yearly conference that covers general open source development. This year the theme of the conference was "Linux of Things" and many of the talks had an IoT connection.

      One of the premium swag items was a Raspberry Pi Zero. It is unfortunate that this is not a supported Ubuntu Core device (CPU a generation too old) as this would have been a great opportunity to show an Ubuntu Core device in action. I did prepare a lightning talk showing some Ubuntu Core development on a Raspberry Pi 3, but this sadly didn't make the cut.

    • Video: Speeding up Programs with OpenACC in GCC
      In this video from FOSDEM’19, Thomas Schwinge from Mentor presents: Speeding up Programs with OpenACC in GCC.

    • Tobias Mueller: Speaking at FOSDEM 2019 in Belgium, Brussels
      This year I spoke at FOSDEM again. It became sort of a tradition to visit Brussels in winter and although I was tempted to break with the tradition, I came again.


      I had two talks at this year’s FOSDEM, both in the Security track. One on my work with Ludovico on protecting against rogue USB devices and another one on tracking users with core Internet protocols.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Change look & feel of Firefox pinned tabs
        Here's a curious corner case for you. About a year ago, Firefox Quantum introduced a whole bunch of radical changes in how it works and behaves, the biggest among them the switch to WebExtensions. This move made a lot of friendly, powerful extensions not work anymore, including a range of tab management addons. On the upside, Firefox also brought about the integrated tab pinning feature. It works nicely. But.

        Pinned tabs will detach from the tab bar and position themselves to the left, somewhat like a typical desktop quicklaunch icon area. So far so good, but the corner case be here! As it happens, the pinned tabs are relatively narrow, which means quick stab 'n' open action isn't quite possible. You need to be accurate positioning your mouse cursor, and that could slow you down. There does not seem to be a trivial option to change the width of the pinned tabs. Hence this guide.

      • Mozilla Open Letter: Facebook, Do Your Part Against Disinformation
        Is Facebook making a sincere effort to be transparent about the content on its platform? Or, is the social media platform neglecting its promises?

        Facebook promised European lawmakers and users it would increase the transparency of political advertising on the platform to prevent abuse during the elections. But in the very same breath, they took measures to block access to transparency tools that let users see how they are being targeted.

        With the 2019 EU Parliamentary Elections on the horizon, it is vital that Facebook take action to address this problem. So today, Mozilla and 32 other organizations — including Access Now and Reporters Without Borders — are publishing an open letter to Facebook.

  • LibreOffice

    • Community Member Monday: Khaled Hosny
      With LibreOffice 6.2 now available, we return to our regular chats with LibreOffice community members! Today we’re talking to Khaled Hosny, who is working on the software’s font handling and user interface…


    • FSF Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report now available
      The Annual Report reviews the FSF's activities, accomplishments, and financial picture from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017. It is the result of a full external financial audit, along with a focused study of program results. It examines the impact of the FSF's events, programs, and activities, including the annual LibrePlanet conference, the Respects Your Freedom (RYF) hardware certification program, and the fight against Digital Restrictions Management (DRM).

      "Software filters the information we receive about the world, the messages we put out into the world, and even the way we physically move in the world," said FSF executive director John Sullivan in his introduction to the FY2017 report. "If the software is not free 'as in freedom'... the consequences for the rest of us will be loss of democracy, privacy, security, freedom of speech, freedom of movement -- and even loss of life."

      The FSF publishes its financials and annual report as part of their commitment to transparency. Along with its strong financial health, accountability and transparency are the reasons the FSF is a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity.

    • FSFE Planet has been refurbished
      If you are reading these lines, you are already accessing the brand-new planet of the FSFE. While Björn, Coordinator of Team Germany, has largely improved the design in late 2017, we tackled many underlying issues this time.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Closing AGPL cloud services loop-hole: a MongoDB approach
      The problem comes with software-as-a-service. Large cloud or hosted services providers have found ways to commercialise popular open source projects without giving anything back, thus limiting software freedom intended by the licensors. The business model primarily focuses on offering managed services, e.g. customisation, integration, service levels and others, to a freely available open source component and charging a fee for this. Open source projects do not usually have the scale to effectively withstand such competition by providing similar offerings. To say the least, this pattern incentivises the writing of the software in closed source code.

      AGPL is not enough to capture such a services scenario. Commercial entities rarely modify open source components and, if they do, releasing corresponding source code to such modifications does not affect their proprietary interests or revenue flow.

  • Programming/Development

    • Tryton Unconference 2019: In Marseille on the 6th & 7th of June
      We will go in the sunny city of Marseille in south of France on the 6th and 7th of June. Contrary to previous editions of the Tryton Unconferences the coding sprint will be organized during the two days preceding the conference.

    • Argonne Looks to Singularity for HPC Code Portability
      Scaling code for massively parallel architectures is a common challenge the scientific community faces. When moving from a system used for development—a personal laptop, for instance, or even a university’s computing cluster—to a large-scale supercomputer like those housed at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, researchers traditionally would only migrate the target application: the underlying software stack would be left behind.

      To help alleviate this problem, the ALCF has deployed the service Singularity. Singularity, an open-source framework originally developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and now supported by Sylabs Inc., is a tool for creating and running containers (platforms designed to package code and its dependencies so as to facilitate fast and reliable switching between computing environments)—albeit one intended specifically for scientific workflows and high-performance computing resources.

    • Mitogen v0.2.4 released
      Mitogen for Ansible v0.2.4 has been released. This version is noteworthy as it contains major refinements to the core libary and Ansible extension to improve its behaviour during larger Ansible runs.

      Work on scalability is far from complete, as it progresses towards inclusion of a patch held back since last summer to introduce per-CPU multiplexers. The current idea is to exhaust profiling gains from a single process before landing it, as all single-CPU gains continue to apply in that case, and there is much less risk of inefficiency being hidden in noise created by multiple multiplexer processes.

    • Introducing kids to computational thinking with Python

    • The Factory Method Pattern and Its Implementation in Python

    • PyDev of the Week: Paolo Melchiorre

    • Create a filter for the audio and image files with python

    • Some simple CodeWars problems

    • PyPy 7.0.0 released
      All the interpreters are based on much the same codebase, thus the triple release.

      Until we can work with downstream providers to distribute builds with PyPy, we have made packages for some common packages `available as wheels`_.

      The `GC hooks`_ , which can be used to gain more insights into its performance, has been improved and it is now possible to manually manage the GC by using a combination of ``gc.disable`` and ``gc.collect_step``. See the `GC blog post`_.

    • PyPy 7.0 Released - The Alternative Python Interpreter Now With Alpha 3.6 Support
      PyPy, the popular Python implementation alternative to the de facto CPython and often faster thanks to its JIT compiler, is up to version 7.0 as of this morning.

      PyPy 7.0 continues offering Python 2.7 support via its Python2 interpreter and there is still PyPy3.5 as the Python 3.5 support target. New to the game is an alpha of PyPy3.6 that provides Python 3.6 features but not yet considered a stable release.

    • PyPy v7.0.0: triple release of 2.7, 3.5 and 3.6-alpha
      All the interpreters are based on much the same codebase, thus the triple release. Until we can work with downstream providers to distribute builds with PyPy, we have made packages for some common packages available as wheels.

      The GC hooks , which can be used to gain more insights into its performance, has been improved and it is now possible to manually manage the GC by using a combination of gc.disable and gc.collect_step. See the GC blog post.

    • Easier Python paths with pathlib
      Working with files is one of the most common things developers do. After all, you often want to read from files (to read information saved by other users, sessions or programs) or write to files (to record data for other users, sessions or programs).

      Of course, files are located inside directories. Navigating through directories, finding files in those directories, and even extracting information about directories (and the files within them) might be common, but they're often frustrating to deal with. In Python, a number of different modules and objects provide such functionality, including os.path, os.stat and glob.

      This isn't necessarily bad; the fact is that Python developers have used this combination of modules, methods and files for quite some time. But if you ever felt like it was a bit clunky or old-fashioned, you're not alone.

    • AVR ATMEGA328P support in avr-gcc
      I can save €£0.40 per device if I move from the ATMEGA328P to an ATMEGA328PB, given that I am expecting to use around 4000 of these microcontrollers a year this looks like a no brainer decision to me… The ATMEGA328P has been around for a few years now and I did check that the device was supported in avr-gcc *before* I committed to a PCB. The device on the surface appears to be a simple B revision, with a few changes over the original part as described in Application Note AN_42559 – AT15007: Differences between ATmega328/P and ATmega328PB. There are potential issues around the crystal drive for the clock (but I am pretty sure that I have done the appropriate calculations so this will work – famous last words I know).

    • Django 2.2 beta 1 released
      Django 2.2 beta 1 is now available. It represents the second stage in the 2.2 release cycle and is an opportunity for you to try out the changes coming in Django 2.2.

      Django 2.2 has a salmagundi of new features which you can read about in the in-development 2.2 release notes.

    • Episode 15: Learning Python
    • Less than 2 Days to Go on wxPython Book Kickstarter
    • Python IDEs and Code Editors
    • Python Architecture Stuff: do we need more?
    • How to write a Python web framework. Part I.
    • Computational Musicology For Python Programmers - Episode 198
    • Python Community service award Q3: Mario Corchero
    • Python Programming in Interactive vs Script Mode
    • A Steady Leader of the Python Community, Alex Gaynor, Receives Community Service Award
    • Zato: A successful Python 3 migration story

    • 6 lessons we learned building Measure, a contributor relationship management system
      At its core, Measure is, for lack of a better term, a contributor relationship management system. Measure consists of easy-to-understand widgets that can be arbitrarily displayed to build dashboards. It allows you to visualize and understand how people, both as individuals and as organizations, are interacting with open source projects on GitHub. It produces metrics that focus not only on code but also on contributors.

    • Asm-goto Support Added To LLVM, Helping Out Clang'ing Kernel Efforts
      LLVM has merged its support finally for supporting "asm goto" with this inline Assembly support needed for building the Linux x86/x86_64 kernel.

      The LLVM asm-goto support was merged over the weekend while patches are pending against Clang to add the necessary bits to the C/C++ compiler front-end.

      This satisfies a eight year old bug / feature request for handling "asm goto" by LLVM. This addition is notable since it's now one less barrier for being able to build the mainline Linux kernel off a vanilla LLVM/Clang compiler on x86_64 as an alternative to GCC. Unfortunately, some items still need to be addressed in reaching this mainline support goal.

    • Facebook Releases HHVM 4.0 With PHP No Longer Supported
      HHVM, formerly known as the HipHop Virtual Machine and what was born at Facebook as a higher-performance PHP implementation only to shift focus to running their own PHP-derived Hack programming language, has reached version 4.0 as it officially no longer supports PHP.

      HHVM 4.0 doesn't drop support for executing PHP scripts entirely, which will likely happen in their next release when dropping the PHP tag. But in this release already they have removed functionality from PHP arrays that are not present in Hack arrays, deprecation of references, and dropping functions that inspect or alter the caller frame.

    • HHVM 4.0.0
    • 12 Best Android Development Courses


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Patent Policy Regulation and Public Health
      This paper analyzes the impact of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement on social welfare, when the effects on public health are taken into account.

    • US Military Fuel Tanks Threaten Aquifer in Hawaii
      A massive complex of 20 U.S. military storage tanks is buried in a bluff called Red Hill that overlooks Honolulu’s primary drinking water supply, 100 feet below.

      The walls on the 75-year-old jet fuel tanks are now so thin that the edge of a dime is thicker. Each of the underground tanks holds 12.5 million gallons of jet fuel; 225,000,000 gallons in total.

      In 2014, 27,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked through a weak spot on a tank that had been repaired with a welded patch. The welding gave way and the fuel entered the the water supply.

    • John Dingell Kept the Faith, From the New Deal to ‘Medicare for All’
      The veteran congressman, who has died at age 92, always understood that health care is a right.

    • Daily Dose of Protest: Heavy As Lead – Leyla McCalla
      Back in April 2014, the Flint water crisis began when the decision was made to switch from a treated water to an untreated water source for the sake of saving money. This resulted in lead contamination that adversely affected over 100,000 residents. Residents in Flint, Michigan still do not have clean drinking water.

      Even though this crisis may be the most publicized incident, there are several communities that grapple with lead contamination.

    • Trump’s Pledge to Defeat AIDS Is Belied by His Policies
      In his State of the Union address, President Trump pledged to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. In that same speech, he also pledged brutal new measures to punish and vilify people who migrate simply seeking safety for themselves and their families.

      The death of Roxsana Hernandez shows, quite simply, that he cannot do both.

      Hernandez was an HIV-positive transgender woman from Honduras who presented herself at the border last May for asylum. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers took her into custody, and in under a month, she was dead. A private autopsy revealed evidence that she may have been beaten while handcuffed in detention, and that her death, resulting from dehydration and complications related to HIV, was entirely preventable.

      The Trump administration’s actions violently exacerbated the conditions that led to Hernandez’s death. His policies promote violence, sexual assault and denial of health care for trans women of color, particularly immigrants already in dangerous situations that they are migrating to escape. Addressing HIV requires an understanding of and commitment to addressing the conditions trans women of color face — not a denial of our existence and humanity.

      A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study estimated that one in four Latina trans women are HIV-positive, and that a shocking 44 percent of Black trans women live with HIV. Trans women of color are 49 times more likely to contract HIV in our lifetimes than the general population, and violence and migration play large roles in many of our stories. Yet our voices, leadership and needs are rarely centered in government strategies to address the crisis.

    • Trump Administration Salutes Parade Of Generic Drug Approvals, But Hundreds Aren’t For Sale
      The Trump administration has been trumpeting a huge increase in FDA generic drug approvals the past two years, the result of its actions to streamline a cumbersome process and combat anti-competitive practices. But nearly half of those newly approved drugs aren’t being sold in the United States, Kaiser Health News has found, meaning that many patients are deriving little practical benefit from the administration’s efforts.

      The administration’s aggressive push to approve more generics is designed to spur more competition with expensive brand-name drugs, and drive prices lower, President Donald Trump noted at a White House event last month. The Food and Drug Administration has approved more than 1,600 generic drug applications since January 2017 — about a third more than it did in the last two years of the Obama administration.

      But more than 700, or about 43 percent, of those generics still weren’t on the market as of early January, a KHN data analysis of FDA and drug list price records shows. Even more noteworthy: 36 percent of generics that would be the first to compete against a branded drug are not yet for sale. That means thousands or even millions of patients have no option beyond buying branded drugs that can cost thousands of dollars per month.

      “That’s shockingly high,” said former congressman Henry Waxman, who co-sponsored the 1984 law that paved the way for the generic approval process as we know it today. He said he’d like to know more, but suspects anti-competitive behavior is at least partly to blame and that revisions to the so-called Hatch-Waxman Act might be needed.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday

    • SS7 Cellular Network Flaw Nobody Wants To Fix Now Being Exploited To Drain Bank Accounts
      Back in 2017, you might recall how hackers and security researchers highlighted long-standing vulnerabilities in Signaling System 7 (SS7, or Common Channel Signalling System 7 in the US), a series of protocols first built in 1975 to help connect phone carriers around the world. While the problem isn't new, a 2016 60 minutes report brought wider attention to the fact that the flaw can allow a hacker to track user location, dodge encryption, and even record private conversations. All while the intrusion looks like ordinary carrier to carrier chatter among a sea of other, "privileged peering relationships."

      Telecom lobbyists have routinely tried to downplay the flaw after carriers have failed to do enough to stop hackers from exploiting it. In Canada for example, the CBC recently noted how Bell and Rogers weren't even willing to talk about the flaw after the news outlet published an investigation showing how, using only the number of his mobile phone, it was possible to intercept the calls and movements of Quebec NDP MP Matthew Dubé.

      But while major telecom carriers try to downplay the scale of the problem, news reports keep indicating how the flaw is abused far more widely than previously believed. This Motherboard investigation by Joseph Cox, for example, showed how, while the attacks were originally only surmised to be within the reach of intelligence operators (perhaps part of the reason intelligence-tied telcos have been so slow to address the issue), hackers have increasingly been using the flaw to siphon money out of targets' bank accounts, thus far predominately in Europe...

    • Doomsday Docker Security Hole Uncovered
      Red Hat technical product manager for containers, Scott McCarty, warned: "The disclosure of a security flaw (CVE-2019-5736) in runc and docker illustrates a bad scenario for many IT administrators, managers, and CxOs. Containers represent a move back toward shared systems where applications from many different users all run on the same Linux host. Exploiting this vulnerability means that malicious code could potentially break containment, impacting not just a single container, but the entire container host, ultimately compromising the hundreds-to-thousands of other containers running on it. While there are very few incidents that could qualify as a doomsday scenario for enterprise IT, a cascading set of exploits affecting a wide range of interconnected production systems qualifies...and that's exactly what this vulnerability represents."

    • Doomsday Docker security hole uncovered

    • It starts with Linux: How Red Hat is helping to counter Linux container security flaws
      The disclosure of a security flaw (CVE-2019-5736) in runc and docker illustrates a bad scenario for many IT administrators, managers, and CxOs. Containers represent a move back toward shared systems where applications from many different users all run on the same Linux host. Exploiting this vulnerability means that malicious code could potentially break containment, impacting not just a single container, but the entire container host, ultimately compromising the hundreds-to-thousands of other containers running on it. A cascading set of exploits affecting a wide range of interconnected production systems qualifies as a difficult scenario for any IT organization and that’s exactly what this vulnerability represents.

      For many Red Hat end users, it’s unlikely that this flaw gets that far. IT organizations using Red Hat Enterprise Linux to underpin their Linux container and cloud-native deployments are likely protected, thanks to SELinux. This vulnerability is mitigated by the use of SELinux in targeted enforcing mode, which prevents this vulnerability from being exploited. The default for SELinux on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 is targeted enforcing mode and it is rarely disabled in a containerized environment.

    • Patch this run(DM)c Docker flaw or you be illin'... Tricky containers can root host boxes. It's like that – and that's the way it is
      Aleksa Sarai, a senior software engineer at SUSE Linux GmbH, has disclosed a serious vulnerability affecting runc, the default container runtime for Docker, containerd, Podman, and CRI-O.

      "While there are very few incidents that could qualify as a doomsday scenario for enterprise IT, a cascading set of exploits affecting a wide range of interconnected production systems qualifies...and that’s exactly what this vulnerability represents," said Scott McCarty, principal product manager for containers at Red Hat, in a blog post.

    • Kubernetes, Docker, ContainerD Impacted by RunC Container Runtime Bug
      The Linux community is dealing with another security flaw, with the latest bug impacting the runC container runtime that underpins Docker, cri-o, containerd, and Kubernetes.

      The bug, dubbed CVE-2019-5736, allows an infected container to overwrite the host runC binary and gain root-level code access on the host. This would basically allow the infected container to gain control of the overarching host container and allow an attacker to execute any command.
    • Red Hat announces container flaw CVE-2019-5736

    • Thunderbolt preboot access control list support in bolt
      Recent BIOS versions enabled support for storing a limited list of UUIDs directly in the thunderbolt controller. This is called the pre-boot access control list (or preboot ACL), in bolt simply called "bootacl". The devices corresponding to the devices in the bootacl will be authorized during pre-boot (and only then) by the firmware. One big caveat about this feature should be become obvious now: No device verification can happen because only the UUIDs are stored but not the key, so if you are using SECURE mode but enable preboot ACL in the BIOS you effectively will get USER mode during boot.

      The kernel exposes the bootacl via a per-domain sysfs attribute boot_acl. Every time a device is enrolled, boltd will automatically add it to the bootacl as well. Conversely if the device is forgotten and it is in the bootacl, boltd will automatically remove it from the bootacl. There are is small complication to these seemingly straight forward operations: in BIOS assist mode, the thunderbolt controller is powered down by the firmware if no device is connected to it. Therefore when devices are forgotten boltd might not be able to directly write to the boot_acl sysfs attribute. In a dual boot scenario this is complicated by the fact that another operating system might also modify the bootacl and thus we might be out of sync. As the solution to this boltd will write individual changes to a journal file if the thunderbolt controller is powered down and re-apply these changes (as good as possible) the next time the controller is powered up.

    • Django security releases issued: 2.1.6, 2.0.11 and 1.11.19

    • Django bugfix releases: 2.1.7, 2.0.12 and 1.11.20
    • Linux Miner Removes Competing Malware From Infected Systems [Ed: As if the worst that can happen to already-compromised (because these were vulnerable) machines is Turf Wars. They keep sticking "Linux" in headlines...]

    • New Linux Crypto-Mining Malware Kills Other Malicious Miners Upon Installation [Ed: Media keeps calling "Linux" all sorts of malicious things that are not Linux.]

    • Good Guy Malware: Linux Virus Removes Other Infections to Mine on Its Own [Ed: The "Linux" section of SoftPedia is now composed by a longtime Microsoft propagandist, Bogdan Popa, who uses the section to spread FUD about "Linux"]

    • Hackers Are Using Windows .EXE File To Infect MacOS

    • Protecting the Logical Security of a Network Environment
      Microsoft Has Made Home Users More Vulnerable by Removing Local Security Policy Editor

      For years, Microsoft Windows provided two key methods for implementing logical security: Local Security Policy Editor (Group Policy Editor in the server environment) and the Advanced Firewall. Unfortunately, Microsoft has now removed the Local Security Policy Editor from Windows 10 Home edition. Microsoft provides it only in the Professional edition, which is a huge security mistake.

    • Runc and CVE-2019-5736
      This morning a container escape vulnerability in runc was announced. We wanted to provide some guidance to Kubernetes users to ensure everyone is safe and secure.
    • Reasonably secure Linux
      Put a lock on your door and they get in through a window. Lock the window and they’ll just smash it. Put bars on the windows and they pick your door lock. Deadbolt the door and they will trick their way in pretending to be the gas man. An analogy, how quaint! Computer security can, at times, feel like an arms race between global superpowers. Yet at least with the Linux kernel and open source everything’s out in the open. Indeed, there’s an entire world of developers whose livelihoods depend on the FOSS ecosystem being secured.
    • Meaningful 2fa on modern linux
      So there are a few parts here. AD is for intents and purposes an LDAP server. The <product> is also an LDAP server, that syncs to AD. We don’t care if that’s 389-ds, freeipa or vendor solution. The results are basically the same.

      Now the linux auth stack is, and will always use pam for the authentication, and nsswitch for user id lookups. Today, we assume that most people run sssd, but pam modules for different options are possible.

      There are a stack of possible options, and they all have various flaws.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • U.S. appeals court to revisit open carrying of guns
      A federal appeals court has decided to reconsider its recent decision that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right to openly carry guns in self-defense.

    • How Washington Funded the Counterrevolution in Venezuela
      On February 4, more than a dozen European countries recognized the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as the country’s legitimate president. This decision came almost two weeks after the United States, Canada, and most countries in Latin America backed Guaidó’s claim to the presidential office. Despite continued Chinese and Russian support for Nicolás Maduro’s government, the international community is quickly isolating it, as never before.

      A strange coalition of left- and right-wing political parties has formed to assist Guaidó, and knee-jerk support from both pundits and politicians who profess concern about the country’s humanitarian crisis has generated an allegiance to this little-known politician and his call for Maduro’s resignation. Many of Guaidó’s supporters have cited Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution as grounds for his assumption of the presidency, arguing that the unfair nature of the 2018 presidential election has rendered the Maduro government illegitimate.

      There is no question that Venezuelans are suffering and want to see a change in governance. Maduro is wildly unpopular, even among the working class, and many have grown tired of the economic crisis that has exploded under his watch. This doesn’t mean, though, that citizens necessarily support the opposition or, worse, US military intervention. Many continue to identify as chavista, and even those who have shed this identification continue to acknowledge that the Bolivarian Revolution once improved their livelihoods. Those improvements, though, have largely evaporated under Maduro.

      Since some of the most powerful countries in the world have now decided to back Guaidó, there is good reason to ask who he is, what sort of future he represents for Venezuela, and whether domestic support for Guaidó’s call for Maduro’s resignation equals support for him as leader of the country.

    • AP Exclusive: Undercover spy exposed in NYC was 1 of many

    • Trump Says ISIS is Defeated, But He Ignores the Much Bigger and More Troubling Picture
      President Trump says that in the coming week the US and its allies will announce that they have captured all of the land previously controlled by Isis. He claims that US-led forces “have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by Isis in Syria and Iraq … we will have 100 per cent of the caliphate.“

      The prediction has sparked a sterile and misleading debate about whether or not Isis is finally defeated, something which will remain unproven since the movement is unlikely to run up a white flag and sign terms of surrender. The discussion has – like all debates about foreign policy in the US – very little to do with the real situation on the ground in Syria and Iraq and everything to do with the forces at play in Washington politics.

    • Trump’s at War With Intelligence…and For Once He’s Right
      In the end, after consulting his conscience, Kirkman changes his mind and goes the military route. “He made the hard decision but the right one,” the advisor exults. “I think the president’s back.”

      It’s a truism in Washington as in Hollywood that military might makes the man. Mind you, Designated Survivor is a liberal TV fantasy about the White House. Tom Kirkman decries America’s treatment of Native Americans, pushes for gun control, and reaches across the aisle time and again to forge bipartisan consensus. He is thoughtful, patient, and committed to doing the right thing.

      And yet, when he cuts U.S. troop presence overseas by half, his advisors see it as a sign that he’s lost his moral compass. Only when he shakes off his paralyzing grief can he see that, as Barack Obama once argued in his Nobel Peace Prize speech, nations sometimes “find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”

      That’s how deep the imperial impulse resides in the American psyche.

    • Where Is Elizabeth Warren’s Fire in the Realm of Foreign Policy?
      As Americans spend the next two years debating who should be the next president of the United States, domestic issues are likely to take the forefront of media discussion. Should we establish a single-payer health care system? How should we address climate change? What should the US’s immigration policy look like?

      But in each of these areas, the composition of Congress is likely to be more decisive in terms of the actual policy the next president enacts. However, there is one role the next president will play where the individual sitting in the Oval Office will make almost all of the important decisions: that of the commander-in-chief.

      The presidency has become increasingly more powerful in determining the course of the foreign affairs of the country, particularly since Congress has stepped back from its traditional role of asserting war powers. Almost every day, the president is briefed on international threats and covert operations, and a massive overseas menu of life-or-death choices. As President Barack Obama showed, the modern White House can even engage in an extensive war of choice — as he did in Libya — without the consent of Congress.

    • Greenwald: How Can Democrats Support Trump’s Push for Regime Change to Seize Venezuela’s Oil?
      The U.S. and Russia have proposed opposing draft resolutions at the U.N. Security Council as the leadership crisis in Venezuela deepens. The U.S. is calling for elections in Venezuela and for international aid deliveries to be allowed to enter the country. The Russians called out international intervention in the affairs of Venezuela and the threat of foreign military action. The Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro is accusing the United States of attempting to stage a coup. We speak to The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald about the actions of Washington and of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

    • WATCH: Parkland Survivor Slams USA Today for Giving Mass Murderer Notoriety He Killed to Achieve
      In response to USA Today's feature on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, published as the one-year anniversary of the deadly attack approaches, survivor and gun control advocate David Hogg called on media outlets to "stop making mass shooters famous" by including coverage and commentary on them in their reporting on shootings.

      "The real people in these shootings that should be remembered after shootings are people like Chris Hixon and Aaron Feis and others," said Hogg, naming two teachers who were killed in the shooting. "The heroes in these situations, and the victims like Joaquin Oliver and others at my school...Those are the people whose stories should be remembered."

      USA Today's story, published Sunday, included a section with a photo and biographical details about the shooter who killed 17 people and injured 17 more on Valentine's Day last year.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Met still waiting as Assange offers sicknote to end seven-year detention
      The “deteriorating health” of the UK's most high-profile refugee may trigger a legal clash with the Met Police over an outstanding historical arrest warrant.

    • Julian Assange is Dying in Darkness While The Washington Post Pats Itself on The Back
      During Sunday’s Super Bowl, American and many international viewers witnessed the debut of an advertisement for the Washington Post. The Tom Hanks narrated advertisement spoke of the ideal values of honest journalism, before paying tribute to journalists who had lost their lives in recent years, including the Saudi born Jamal Khashoggi who had worked for the Washington Post prior to his murder inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

    • What is extradition?
      The problem, at least for the requesting state, is that extraditions are not fool-proof or fast. Governments can refuse to comply, as Hong Kong did last year at the urging of the Chinese government when it turned down an American request for the extradition of Iat Hong on charges of hacking the computers of two American law firms and trading on the information. Those facing extradition can evade arrest. Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks fame, has been at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012. He claimed asylum there after Sweden issued an international arrest warrant following allegations of rape and sexual assault, and also feared onward extradition to the United States in relation to the leaking of diplomatic cables. (The Swedish investigation has now been dropped—and Mr Assange denies the allegations of assault—but he still risks arrest by the British for breaching the conditions of his bail.) And those with deep pockets and good lawyers can launch legal battles that drag on for years. Rakesh Saxena, an Indian citizen, fought extradition to Thailand from Canada for 13 years. All of which suggests we will not soon see the end of another extradition story in the news, that of Meng Wanzhou of Huawei. She is under house arrest in Vancouver while Canadian authorities consider an American request to hand her over to face trial on fraud charges linked to American sanctions against Iran.

    • The Londoner: Aussie concerns for sickly Julian Assange

    • Julian Assange could be given ASYLUM in Switzerland after vote held in Geneva
      The Geneva City Parliament adopted a motion to give the controversial Wikileaks founder a safe haven in the country nearly seven years after he first entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

      An hour-long debate was held in the Swiss city this week to discuss how whistleblowers can be protected.

      At the end of the debate, right-wing People’s Party politician Eric Bertinat proposed a measure to offer the Wikileaks founder asylum – something that was backed by the majority of the chamber.

    • Geneva politicians vote to propose Julian Assange asylum
      The Geneva city parliament has adopted a motion demanding that the Swiss government offer asylum to controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The somewhat surprising resolution was the result of an hour-long debate on Wednesday evening, framed in the context of providing better protection for whistleblowers. The text was proposed by Eric Bertinat of the conservative right People’s Party - a party not usually known for backing acts of “civil disobedience”, in the words of Social Democratic politician Albane Schlechten. Nevertheless, the proposition picked up enough support from left-wing politicians to withstand opposition from the centre-right Radical Liberals.

    • Australian workers and youth support March rallies in defence of Julian Assange
      Over the past days, workers, students, young people and retirees have expressed their support for Socialist Equality Party (SEP) rallies in defense of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in Sydney on March 3 and in Melbourne on March 10.

      Many of those who have spoken to SEP campaigners have backed the demand, upon which the demonstrations have been called, that the Australian government immediately use its diplomatic powers and legal discretion to secure Assange’s return to Australia, with a guarantee against extradition to the United States.

      These sentiments stand in stark contrast to the actions of the federal Liberal-National Coalition government and the Labor Party, which have participated in the US-led vendetta against Assange. They are also an indictment of the Greens, pseudo-left organisations such as Socialist Alternative and the entire media establishment, which have abandoned Assange amid stepped-up attempts to prosecute him for WikiLeaks’ exposures of war crimes, illegal diplomatic intrigues and mass spying.

    • CN Radio: Australian Ambassador Tony Kevin’s Plan to Free Assange
      Tony Kevin, a former Australian ambassador, defends Julian Assange & WikiLeaks & reveals a plan to get him safely from Ecuador’s London embassy back to Australia. He is interviewed by CN Editor Joe Lauria for Unity4J.

    • John Pilger to speak at March 3 Sydney rally to defend Julian Assange
      The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) is pleased to announce that highly respected journalist and filmmaker John Pilger will address the March 3 demonstration at the Martin Place Amphitheatre in Sydney, which will demand that the Australian government immediately act to secure the freedom of persecuted WikiLeaks’ publisher and Australian citizen Julian Assange. The following week, on March 10, the SEP will hold a demonstration at the State Library in Swanston Street, in the centre of Melbourne. Both rallies will be live-streamed via Facebook to a world audience. John Pilger is a trustee of the Courage Foundation, which is committed to the defence of persecuted journalists and whistleblowers. Pilger has been, and remains, at the forefront of the fight to defend Julian Assange. On June 17, 2018, he delivered a widely circulated speech at the rally organised by the SEP at Sydney Town Hall Square. He told the audience present and watching online: “Assange’s ‘crime’ is to have broken a silence. No investigative journalism in my lifetime can equal the importance of what WikiLeaks has done in calling rapacious power to account.”

    • Julian Assange's lawyers appeal to WikiLeaks publisher's native Australia for aid amid impasse

    • OAS Requests Info on Assange's Asylum Conditions in Ecuadorian Embassy in UK
      The Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry said it had been asked by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (part of the Organization of American States), to provide the information related to the WikiLeaks founder's asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in light of the recently filed motion asking the commission for protection.

    • Wikileaks Publishes Crucial Papal Letter on Order of Malta Affair
      Wikileaks today published a confidential letter confirming that Pope Francis strongly opposed the Order of Malta distributing contraceptives as part of its humanitarian work and that he wished the issue be “completely resolved.”

      In the letter, dated Dec. 1, 2016, and addressed to Cardinal Raymond Burke, the patron of the Order of Malta, the Holy Father stressed that the Order “must ensure that the methods and means it uses in its initiatives and healthcare works are not contrary to the moral law.”

      He added that if, “in the past, there has been a problem of this nature, I hope that it can be completely resolved.”

    • Wikileaks takes a swipe at the famously secret Vatican
      Wikileaks, the tell-anything anti-secrecy organization, on Wednesday, Jan. 30, took aim at one of the world's most secretive institutions, the Vatican, releasing a small collection of documents about a power struggle involving Pope Francis, a leading traditionalist cardinal, and a medieval Catholic order of knights.

      The documents offered little new about a fight that two years ago was widely covered in the media. Their contents seem especially paltry at a time when the Vatican is embroiled in full-fledged scandals on multiple continents. But the release represented the first time Wikileaks has turned its spotlight on the often-acrimonious internal affairs of the Holy See, and some Vatican watchers wondered whether more damaging secrets might start to escape the city-state walls.

    • Wikileaks Releases “Pope’s Orders,” Private Letters & Documents from Inside The Vatican
      Believed to comprise of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of individuals, controversially so, dating back to the Middle Ages the Order of Malta has always been known to affiliate with various outside groups and/or political associations, such as the Free Masons. However, this is something that the Catholic Church has always condemned and on through to today, the Vatican continues to do as much as possible to dissuaded the Order of Malta from their outside affiliations and activities – unsuccessfully at that.

    • WikiLeaks releases documents on Knights of Malta controversy
      Internal documents relating to the public crisis that led to the resignation of the grand master of the Knights of Malta in 2017 were released by WikiLeaks.
    • Wikileaks docs suggest Cdl. Burke followed Pope’s directives in Knights of Malta condom scandal
    • WikiLeaks Releases Documents on Vatican Power Struggle

    • WikiLeaks releases documents on Knights of Malta controversy
      Internal documents relating to the public crisis that led to the resignation of the grand master of the Knights of Malta in 2017...
    • Catholic controversy exposed by Wikileaks
      This letter concerns the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, also known as the Order of Malta or the Knights of Malta, originally founded in Jerusalem during the Crusades in 1099. As the name indicates, it has been widely recognised as a sovereign entity in itself despite theoretically being subject to papal authority as a Catholic institution.

      This ambiguous status cuts to the heart of the dispute as it reached a fever pitch after Pope Francis forced the abdication of Matthew Festing as Prince and Grand Master of the Order in January 2017. A month earlier Festing had dismissed the Order’s Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager.

    • ‘Opportunistic, xenophobic’: WikiLeaks mocks Rachel Maddow’s latest Russia scare story

    • Shot at Assange says volumes about media’s self-importance
      It was comical to see Renée Loth work herself into a lather, outraged that Julian Assange could be considered a “journalist,” which thus would impugn “mainstream reporters” such as herself (“Assange may be a hero to some, but he’s no journalist,” Opinion, Feb. 1). Loth maligns Assange and his kind as being “more like couriers,” disseminating data and facts, unlike intrepid Globe journalists who provide “expert analysis.” This really amounts to the left’s belief that the public cannot be trusted with the truth, with the facts, and it is up to the storytellers at places like the Globe to colorize and spin stories to comply with their ideology. Real journalists indeed.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • 'Now Is the Time to Be Bold and Unapologetic': Progressives Building 'Unprecedented Political Coalition' Around Green New Deal
      Progressive organizers are mobilizing behind the Green New Deal resolution—unveiled last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocastio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)—with renewed energy to build "an unprecedented political coalition" to radically transform the nation's energy system and address the climate crisis while also facilitating a just transition to a new, greener economy.

      Since initial backers hailed the introduction of the historic resolution as a huge accomplishment on Thursday, a growing number of labor, economic justice, racial justice, indigenous, environmental, and community organizations have lined up behind the bold proposal and vowed to pressure lawmakers to pass it. The youth-led Sunrise Movement, which has spearheaded grassroots organizing in favor of the deal, is planning more than 600 congressional office visits this week to garner support.

    • Energy Transfer Pipeline Projects on Hold in Pennsylvania After String of Violations
      Plans for a pipeline network to export petrochemical ingredients from fracked gas wells in Pennsylvania hit a major roadblock, as state environmental regulators announced Friday that they were suspending all permit reviews for pipeline builder Energy Transfer until further notice.

      “There has been a failure by Energy Transfer and its subsidiaries to respect our laws and our communities,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who has supported fracking in the state, said in a statement when the suspension was announced. “This is not how we strive to do business in Pennsylvania, and it will not be tolerated.”

    • Polar bears unable to reach the ocean have invaded two Russian villages

    • Insects are going extinct eight times faster than other animals
      “Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” says a study published in the journal Biological Conservation. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”

    • New Legislation Aims to Avert Arctic Giveway to 'Corporate Polluters' Sneaked Into GOP Tax Scam
      Conservation groups are cheering the introduction on Monday of a measure to stop fossil fuel extraction in a section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

      "This bill calls a halt to the administration's headlong rush to sell off this special wilderness to corporate polluters," said John Bowman, senior director for federal affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "And it preserves the fundamental human rights of the Gwich'in people whom these lands have sustained for thousands of years, and who—among two-thirds of all Americans—oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge."

    • Scientists Warn Crashing Insect Population Puts 'Planet's Ecosystems and Survival of Mankind' at Risk
      "If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet's ecosystems and for the survival of mankind," report co-author Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, told the Guardian. Sánchez-Bayo wrote the scholarly analysis with Kris Wyckhuys at the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.

      Calling the current annual global insect decline rate of 2.5 percent over the last three decades a "shocking" number, Sánchez-Bayo characterized it as "very rapid" for insects worldwide. If that continues, he warned: "In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none."

      Isn't this a bit alarmist? Anticipating that concern, Sánchez-Bayo said the language of the report was intended "to really wake people up," but that's because the findings are so worrying.

      Not involved with the study, Professor Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex in the UK, agreed. "It should be of huge concern to all of us," Goulson told the Guardian, "for insects are at the heart of every food web, they pollinate the large majority of plant species, keep the soil healthy, recycle nutrients, control pests, and much more. Love them or loathe them, we humans cannot survive without insects."

    • 'Mass Invasion': Russian Islands in State of Emergency as Hotter Planet Drives Polar Bears to Hunger
      As human activity continues to drive the climate crisis that is causing rapid ice loss at both poles and in other cold regions, destroying the habitats of animals who live there, Russian islands in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago have declared a state of emergency in response to a "mass invasion" of dozens of starving polar bears who have been "chasing people and entering residential buildings."

      With rising temperatures increasingly destroying the bears' Arctic habitats, interactions with humans are becoming more common. As Liz Greengrass, a director at the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, told CNN last year: "Polar bears are reliant on seals for food and seals rely on sea ice. Global warming is melting the ice so it has a chain reaction on how polar bears can survive."

    • Arctic Refuge Protectors: An Open Letter from Teachers and Scholars
      Fossil fuel development in the Coastal Plain would devastate an Arctic nursery of global significance. It would violate human rights, jeopardize food security, and threaten the health and safety of Indigenous communities. It would contribute to the escalating crises of climate change and biological annihilation. The Arctic Refuge is an irreplaceable ecological treasure. Its fate should not be decided on an expedited timeline that prioritizes outcome over process to benefit the oil industry and its allies.

      Ever since drilling proponents snuck an Arctic Refuge leasing provision into the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Trump administration has been moving aggressively to rush through the required Environmental Impact Statement. During the scoping phase of the EIS, the BLM held only one public hearing outside of Alaska—in Washington, DC, on a Friday night in mid-June 2018. Still, a large number of people showed up to voice their concerns about the ecological, cultural, and climate impacts of drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

      Dismissing the concerns raised by the public and Indigenous peoples and “relying on outdated and incomplete science,” the BLM hastily assembled a draft EIS and released it on December 20, 2018, the day before the longest government shutdown in US history began.

    • How Removing One Maine Dam 20 Years Ago Changed Everything
      More than 1,000 people lined the banks of the Kennebec River in Augusta, Maine, on July 1, 1999. They were there to witness a rebirth.

      The ringing of a bell signaled a backhoe on the opposite bank to dig into a retaining wall. Water trickled, then gushed. The crowd erupted in cheers as the Edwards Dam, which had stretched 900 feet across the river, was breached. Soon the whole dam would be removed.


      Building the Edwards Dam was never a popular idea. Even in the 1830s there was concern that the robust fisheries of the lower Kennebec River would be wiped out. But the cheerleaders of industrialism prevailed, and the dam was built in 1837 to bring power to local mills.

      The consequences were immediate.

      The dam’s construction shut the door on the migration of nearly a dozen sea-run fish species that used to swim up more than 40 miles from the Atlantic Ocean in search of prime spawning habitat in the Kennebec and its tributaries.

      “The river was transformed from being a thriving producer of millions of fish such as shad, herring, striped bass, Atlantic salmon, sturgeon and alewives and supporting a wide cornucopia of other species ranging from otters to eagles — into a wastewater drainage system,” Jeff Crane, a dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Saint Martin’s University, wrote in a paper published in 2009.

    • Global Poll Reveals Surging Fear of Climate Crisis and US Power Under Trump
      While a rapidly rising number of people across the globe are worried about the climate crisis—prompting warnings from scientists, demands for robust action, and sweeping legislative proposals such as the Green New Deal—there are also mounting concerns about the United States in the era of President Donald Trump, according to new polling from the Pew Research Center.

      The survey results, released Monday, show that while U.S. power and influence still isn't the primary worry among people beyond the United States, concern about it has skyrocketed since Trump took office. As Pew's report (pdf) noted, "In 2013, only a quarter across 22 nations saw American power as a major threat to their country, but that jumped substantially to 38 percent in 2017, the year after Trump was elected president, and to 45 percent in 2018."

    • The World Is on the Brink of Widespread Water Wars
      Mark’s words should be a call to attention, and a call to action. The plight of farmers in Australia illustrates a larger reality: As planetary temperatures continue to increase and rainfall patterns shift due to human-caused climate disruption, our ability to grow crops and have enough drinking water will become increasingly challenged, and the outlook is only going to worsen.

    • Leading Progressive Organizations Back Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey’s Green New Deal Resolution; Plan to Assemble Unprecedented Coalition.

    • Food webs alter as warmer seas change colour
      The Blue Planet is to get a little bluer as the world warms and climates change. Where the seas turn green, expect an even deeper verdant tint, new research suggests.

      Since humans began increasing the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – by burning the fossil fuels that have provided the energy for both economic growth and a population explosion – the oceans have warmed in ways that affect marine life. They have grown ever more acidic, in ways that affect coral growth and fish behaviour.

      But when US and British scientists tested a model of ocean physics, biogeochemistry and ecosystems – intending to simulate changes in the populations of marine phytoplankton or algae – they also incorporated some of the ocean’s optical properties. Since green plants photosynthesise, they absorb sunlight, and change reflectivity.

    • Greens: Time to put HS2 out of its misery
      The Green Party has responded to news the Government is considering scrapping HS2, ahead of a broadcast of Channel 4’s Dispatches tonight.

  • Finance

    • $2.2 Billion and Climbing: How Litecoin Surged 10% Overnight to Become the 4th Largest Cryptocurrency
      Litecoin (LTC) has increased by more than 10 percent in value in the past 3 hours from $33 to $38, becoming the 4th largest currency in the global crypto market.

      EOS, which secured its position as the 4th most valuable cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ethereum since 2018, was surpassed by Litecoin.
    • Yosemite X Announces New Open Source Blockchain With No Cryptocurrency Coin Needed
      Yosemite X has recently announced the launch of their public blockchain. What gives them an edge is that they did not rely on the need for a native token. According to the claims made, their goal is to resolve the hindrance caused by volatile tokens, which is known to result in poorly operating businesses.

      To prevent the aforementioned, the team trusts that stablecoins is the way to go (i.e. tokens that are pegged to government money). This has supposedly been done through the blockchain’s built-in YOSEMITE Standard Token Model, which ensures that the token is interoperable.
    • OECD pushes for a global minimum corporate tax rate by 2020, but is it wishful thinking?
      For more than five years, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been trying to get countries to reach global consensus on its plan to end multinational tax avoidance.

      Since the 2013 publication of the OECD/G20 Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS) plan, nations including Australia, frustrated with the glacial pace of change pushed by the Paris-based institute, have introduced their own laws to try and get a greater share of the tax pie.

      The problem that the OECD has tried to solve — without much success to date — is how to bring the international tax system in line with changes in the digital era which have seen the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook test the boundaries of global tax rules.
    • Research: Mere 10% Of Ethereum (ETH) DApps Are Active Daily
      Decentralized applications (DApps) were long hailed as one of the leading use cases for blockchain technologies. Through smart contracts, whether it be on Ethereum, EOS, Tron, or otherwise, the worlds’ current processes could be put on a blockchain, thus creating a society built on decentralization.

    • The End of the Age of Billionaires
      Every month or so there’s a stunning new headline statistic about just how stark our economic divide has become. Understanding that this divide exists is a good start. Appreciating that a deeply unfair and unequal economy is problematic is even better. Actually doing something about it — that’s the best. As 2020 presidential hopefuls start trying to prove their progressive bona fides, serious policies to take on economic inequality are at the forefront. These ideas don’t stand much of a shot of becoming law in the Trump era, of course. But if the balance of power shifts, so too does the potential for these paradigm-shifting new programs. Let’s take a closer look at the problems they’ll have to address. A new billionaire is minted every two days, according to a recent Oxfam study. As a result, the top 0.1 percent owns a greater share of the nation’s wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. The richest dynastic families in the United States have seen their wealth expand at a dizzying pace. The three wealthiest families — the Waltons, the Kochs, and the Mars — increased their wealth by nearly 6,000 percent since 1983.

    • When Politicians Say “Free Trade,” They Mean Upward Redistribution
      In Washington policy circles, being a supporter of free trade is pretty much comparable to saying you believe in evolution. All reasonable people say they accept the doctrine and agree that tariffs and other forms of protectionism are evil and dirty.

      While there are good arguments for free trade as an economic policy, in the real world what passes for “free trade” is pretty much any policy that redistributes income upward, even if it is directly at odds with free trade. I have long harped on patent and copyright protection, both because I think that these government-granted monopolies are bad policy (at least in their current form), and because they are 180 degrees at odds with free trade.

      The rationale for patents and copyrights is they provide incentives for innovation and creative work, but there is a rationale for every form of protectionism. This doesn’t change the fact that patent and copyright protection are still forms of protectionism. And, the imposition of stronger patent and copyright protections, which has been a central component of every trade deal for the last quarter-century, is a very costly form of protectionism.

      Needless to say, the beneficiaries of this protectionism tend to be in the high end of income distribution. The list includes folks like Bill Gates, the pharmaceutical industry and the entertainment industry.

      But, this is hardly the only situation where the “free traders” depart from free trade. The Export-Import Bank, which provides loans and loan guarantees to exporters, has generally received strong support from self-described free traders.

      On its face, this is difficult to understand, since the bank is providing an explicit subsidy to exporters by allowing them to get loans at below-market interest rates. In the textbook, government subsidies for exports are 180 degrees at odds with free trade.

      It is also important to note that the vast majority of the bank’s loans and guarantees benefit a very small number of companies such as Boeing, Caterpillar and GE. In some years, Boeing alone has accounted for close to 90 percent of its loans.

    • 'For Our Students and For Our Profession': Denver Educators Strike for First Time in 25 Years
      "We will strike Monday for our students and for our profession, and perhaps then DPS will get the message and return to the bargaining table with a serious proposal aimed at solving the teacher turnover crisis in Denver," said Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA), in a statement Saturday, after the union rejected Denver Public Schools' latest offer to reform compensation.

      Outside the district's schools on Monday, many students braved the cold to join their teachers in demanding fair pay. Demonstrators carried signs reading "On strike for our students" and "I'd rather be teaching but I can't afford it." Many chanted, "What do we want, fair pay! When do we want it? Now!"

    • Rahm Emanuel’s Non-Apology Apology for Being a School Privatization Cheerleader
      Rahm Emanuel’s recent op-ed in The Atlantic may be one of the dumbest things I have ever read.

      The title—“I Used to Preach the Gospel of Education Reform. Then I Became the Mayor”—seems to imply Emanuel has finally seen the light.

      The outgoing Chicago Mayor USED TO subscribe to the radical right view that public schools should be privatized, student success should be defined almost entirely by standardized testing, teachers should be stripped of union protections and autonomy and poor black and brown people have no right to elect their own school directors.

      But far from divorcing any of this Reagan-Bush-Trump-Clinton-Obama crap, he renews his vows to it.

      This isn’t an apologia. It’s rebranding.

    • ‘The Distribution of Income Depends on How We Structure the Economy’
      One in three GoFundMe campaigns in this country are for medical expenses. One in five households have zero or negative wealth. Millions of people are one paycheck away from hardship. And this is the same society in which there are people who can’t remember how many houses they own, or are puzzled about why furloughed federal workers would be going to food banks.

      Inequality is a life or death issue, which makes it especially disconcerting that some folks with media megaphones seem proudly ignorant of the basic mechanisms by which resources are distributed. Some myths and misunderstandings are being thrown into relief as we’re seeing a strikingly bold (for recent times) conversation about progressive taxation, occasioned by proposals from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others. But if the present debate goes further than we’re used to, does it go far enough?

    • Google now pays more in EU fines than it does in taxes
      INTERNET GIANT Google now pays more in European fines than it does in taxes., the firm's fourth-quarter earnings have revealed.

      Google owner Alphabet company reported Q4 revenues up 22 per cent to $39.28bn, while annual revenues were up 23 per cent to $136.8bn.

      The company also took the time to separate out "European Commission fines" in its consolidated statements of income in the company's accounts. These increased from $2.7bn in 2017 to $5.1bn in 2018, with a further €50m already set to be added to the bill for its first quarter and 2019 accounts, thanks to French data protection authority CNIL.

      That compares to a provision for income taxes of just $4.2 billion for 2018, or 12 per cent of its pre-tax income.

    • America's Egregious Economic Inequality in a Single Statistic
      As egregious as America’s economic inequality may appear, the reality is somehow even worse. Those are the findings of the University of California, Berkeley’s Gabriel Zucman, whose latest research reveals that the .00025 percent now own more than the bottom 60 percent. To put that statistic in perspective, 400 individuals control more wealth than 150 million combined.

      “After a period of remarkable stability in the 1950s and 1960s, the top 0.1% wealth share reached its low-water mark in the 1970s, and since the 1980s it has been gradually rising to close 20% in recent years,” Zucman writes. “U.S. wealth concentrations seem to have returned to levels last seen during the Roaring 20s.”

      The numbers tell the story of our neoliberal age. Citing data from the World Inequality Database, whose executive committee includes Zucman and “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” author Thomas Piketty, among other economists, The Washington Post reports that those in the lower economic bracket mentioned above saw their share of the nation’s wealth dip from 5.7 to 2.1 percent between 1987 and 2014.

      While the U.S. offers a dramatic data point, this ongoing redistribution upward is a worldwide phenomenon. According to an Oxfam International report published last month, the combined wealth of the world’s billionaires is growing $2.5 billion per day while the poorer half of the planet grows progressively poorer. Just 226 individuals are now worth as much as 3.8 billion ($1.4 trillion). At the same time, the total number of billionaires—2,208—has nearly doubled since the global financial crisis of 2008.

    • Trump Wants Socialism for the Rich, Harsh Capitalism for the Rest
      “America will never be a socialist country,” Donald Trump declared in his State of the Union address. Someone should alert Trump that America is now a hotbed of socialism. But it is socialism for the rich. Everyone else is treated to harsh capitalism.

      In the conservative mind, socialism means getting something for doing nothing. That pretty much describes the $21 billion saved by the nation’s largest banks last year thanks to Trump’s tax cuts, some of which went into massive bonuses for bank executives. On the other hand, more than 4,000 lower-level bank employees got a big dose of harsh capitalism. They lost their jobs.

      Banks that are too big to fail – courtesy of the 2008 bank bailout – enjoy a hidden subsidy of some $83 billion a year, because creditors facing less risk accept lower interest on deposits and loans. Last year, Wall Street’s bonus pool was $31.4 billion. Take away the hidden subsidy and the bonus pool disappears.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • He Lies (Again) and El Paso's Pissed
      The Great Pretender's ongoing hysteria about a wall to keep out his fictional “tremendous onslaught” of brown people is happily, increasingly running into its own wall - knowledgeable people in border areas pushing back and arguing #WallsDontWork.” The resistance ranges from officials in the border town of Nogales, Arizona taking down his newly installed, flesh-slicing, maximum-security-prison-flavored coils of razor wire on an existing border fence - WTF on the U.S. side yet - universally blasted as “inhuman” to New Mexico's governor withdrawing most National Guard troops from the border, condemning Trump's "charade (of) fear-mongering" and even making a wild video in which she hurls herself through multiple walls to show what she thinks of the whole ignoring-real-problems-to-build-a-stupid-racist-wall thing.

      Monday, Trump heads to El Paso, where he won 25.7% of the 2016 vote and enraged everyone in a SOTU speech falsely declaring it a hell-hole of crime - a reality officials say only exists in "Sicario," given they boast one of the lowest crime rates of any big city. The sheriff: "Trump continues to give a false narrative."
    • Trump Aims to Turn Border Debate His Way With El Paso Rally
      President Donald Trump is trying to turn the debate over a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border back to his political advantage as his signature pledge to American voters threatens to become a model of unfulfilled promises.

      Trump will hold his first campaign rally since November’s midterm elections in El Paso, Texas, on Monday as he faces a defining week for his push on the wall — and for his presidency and his 2020 prospects. Weakened by the disastrous government shutdown and facing a fresh deadline Friday, Trump is trying to convince people that that he’ll continue to push to build his long-promised wall, even though there’s no way it would be anywhere near complete by the time voters have to decide whether to give him another term.

      A bipartisan group of lawmakers was negotiating ahead of Friday’s deadline, but on Sunday people familiar with the talks said the mood among the bargainers had grown sour amid an impasse over migrant detention policies. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.
    • Does Kamala Harris Deserve to Call Herself a Progressive?
      “I think [marijuana] gives a lot of people joy and we need more joy in the world,” said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., on The Breakfast Club radio show Monday, explaining that she supports legalizing the drug. It was a fairly lighthearted interview with the 2020 presidential candidate, but as Addy Baird writes in ThinkProgress, Harris the presidential candidate’s views on marijuana are “basically unrecognizable compared with the Harris of just a few years ago.” In 2010, while running for attorney general of California, she came out against legalization, claiming it would, according New York Magazine, encourage “driving while high.”

      Harris’s progressive shift since 2016 on this and a number of issues, including criminal justice and health care, has, as Briahna Joy Gray writes in The Guardian, “left some progressives skeptical,” especially since her change of heart is not, according to Gray, ideologically consistent.

      Since announcing her presidential run, Harris told a CNN town hall that “I feel very strongly about this, we need to have ‘Medicare for All’, ” before backtracking the next day, saying she did not necessarily mean eliminating private insurance entirely.

      “There’s a persistent tension,” Gray continues, “between the firmness with which Harris commits herself to her catchphrases and the shallowness of her political commitments (and her record).” Gray notes that Maya Harris, Kamala’s sister and policy adviser, also advised Hillary Clinton in 2016, and that year, Clinton said in a speech that a single payer health care system would “never, ever come to pass.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • How sex censorship killed the internet we love
    • A new wave of Internet censorship may be on the horizon
      Of chief concern in the UK are several initiatives within the Government’s grand plan to “make Britain the safest place in the world to be online”, known as the Digital Charter. Its founding document proclaims “the same rights that people have offline must be protected online.” That sounds a lot like Open Rights Group’s mission! What’s not to like?

      Well, just as surveillance programmes created in the name of national security proved detrimental to privacy rights, new Internet regulations targeting “harmful content” risk curtailing free expression.

      The Digital Charter’s remit is staggeringly broad. It addresses just about every conceivable evil on the Internet from bullying and hate speech to copyright infringement, child pornography and terrorist propaganda. With so many initiatives developing simultaneously it can be easy to get lost.

      To gain clarity, Open Rights Group published a report surveying the current state of digital censorship in the UK. The report is broken up into two main sections - formal censorship practices like copyright and pornography blocking, and informal censorship practices including ISP filtering and counter terrorism activity. The report shows how authorities, while often engaging in important work, can be prone to mistakes and unaccountable takedowns that lack independent means of redress.
    • UK Cop Calls Up 74-Year-Old Woman To Ask Her To Stop Tweeting Mean Things
      The policing of tweets continues in the UK. The literal policing of tweets.

      Because there's apparently not enough people being stabbed on a daily basis, local law enforcement agencies have decided making house calls over reports of "hateful" tweeting is a worthwhile use of resources. This fairly recent law enforcement tradition dates back to at least 2014, but in recent weeks police have ramped up efforts to... well, it's unclear exactly what the endgame is.

      Irish writer Graham Linehan was recently visited by a Scottish police officer over supposed harassment of a trans rights activist. There didn't appear to be any actual harassment. Instead, it appeared the alleged harassee wasn't satisfied with the Mute and Block options offered by Twitter, and decided to file a formal complaint about speech he didn't like.

      The end result was a stupefying mix of force and futility. The officer asked Linehan to stop engaging with Adrian Harrop (the offended party). Linehan refused to do so. The officer left and Linehan got back on Twitter to talk about this bizarre waste of everyone's time.

    • Google Caves On Russian Censorship
      Late last year, we were among those disappointed by leaked news from Google that it was toying around with a censored search engine for China -- a country that the company had mostly left nearly a decade ago. After loud complaints both from people outside the company and many within, reports in late December said that the company had quietly halted efforts to build a censored Chinese search engine.

      But now... the company may be dipping its toe in the evil pool again, as it has apparently agreed to cooperate with Russia's censors. This is a battle that's been going on for some time. Over the last few years, Russia has passed a number of internet censorship laws, and there have been lots of questions about how Google and other tech giants would respond. A year ago, we noted that Facebook/Instagram had decided to cave in and that ratcheted up the pressure on Google.

      It should be noted that Russia has been on Google's case for a while, and the company had been resisting such pressure. Indeed, the company actually shut down its Russian office a few years back to try to protect itself (and its employees) from Russian legal threats.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Chicago Public Schools Monitored Social Media for Signs of Violence, Gang Membership
      In January 2017, after a social media analyst for the Chicago Public Schools reviewed the Facebook profile of a Roosevelt High School student and began to suspect he might be in a gang, a police officer was summoned to the school to conduct an intervention. There wasn’t any imminent threat of violence, but the officer and a school district security official met with the student. They asked if he was in a gang.

      “That is my business,” the student replied, according to a report from the intervention.

      The officer, a member of the Chicago Police Department’s Gang School Safety Team, told the student he needed to be more respectful. The student said he was not in a gang but did hang around gang members.

      The officer asked for their names, but the student wouldn’t give them. The officer asked if the student was considering joining a gang. He said he wasn’t sure. The student, the report concludes, “seemed to not be motivated and provided very short answers.”

      Over the past four school years, more than 700 CPS students have been called into interventions like this one based on social media activity that points to their possible gang involvement. The interventions are one result of a $2.2 million award the district received in 2014 through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, which provides grants for violence prevention efforts.

    • Facebook Has A ‘Game Of Thrones’ Culture: Former Executive
      A former Facebook executive says that the highest levels of leadership at the company have a “Game of Thrones” like culture.

      In an interview with CNN’s Laurie Segall, ex-Facebook security chief Alex Stamos, explained how the inner workings of Silicon Valley’s social media giant reminded him of the HBO show which is famous for its political games and the backstabbing nature of the characters.


      However, Stamos believes that the root cause of this “Westerosi court” influence lies with Mark Zuckerberg as CEO. He further added that “Facebook wasn’t measuring the bigger impact and thinking about the ways people could twist it to be misused. And in the end, that is Mark’s responsibility.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The ACLU Report on CIA and Torture
      It would be difficult to understate the overall effect that 9/11 had on the way that the U.S. government views potential threats, and the freedoms and rights of the overall American public.

    • How The Report Turned a 6,700-Page Torture Investigation Into a Political Thriller [Ed: Now we have televised revisionism of "a 6,700-Page Torture Investigation" (never released to the public) done by the foremost CIA contractor, Amazon.]
      For more than six years, the former Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones led an investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs after 9/11, sifting through thousands of pages documenting torture, abuses of power, and the lack of accountability during the George W. Bush administration. But when Jones talks about his experience, he doesn’t come off as a cynic about the United States. “Over the years, you travel a lot, you talk to a lot of foreign governments, you talk to a lot of citizens,” he said Monday at the Sundance Film Festival, reflecting on a career that also included a stint as an international FBI agent. The United States is “a beacon, whether you want us to be or not … The building of post–World War II institutions, we’re responsible for that. In the War on Terror, we slipped.”

      Jones is the subject of a new film written and directed by Scott Z. Burns called The Report, which debuted at Sundance on January 26 and has already been acquired by Amazon for a reported $14 million. A frequent collaborator of Steven Soderbergh, Burns is best-known for his meticulous, fact-based screenplays for films including The Informant! and Contagion. In his new movie, Burns takes Jones’s 6,700-page report and somehow boils it down to a comprehensible narrative. Adam Driver stars as Jones, while Annette Bening plays his boss, Senator Dianne Feinstein. Burns and Jones spoke with The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, in Park City, Utah, on Monday about the making of the film, the delicate political lines it crosses, and the Obama administration’s role in trying to suppress the report.

    • British doctor nicknamed the 'godfather of modern torture' worked in secret CIA wing
      A Scottish doctor nicknamed 'the godfather of modern torture' who worked in a secret wing funded by the CIA has been made the focus of a new documentary.

      Dr Ewen Cameron took part in the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals and went on to create horrifying torture methods used in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and Northern Ireland.

      The new documentary - Eminent Monsters - will premier at the Glasgow Film Festival next month and tells the story of the scientists who advanced the study of torture.

    • Scots doctor became the 'godfather of modern torture' working in secret wing funded by CIA
      Dr Ewen Cameron’s name belongs alongside the likes of Kelvin, Watt, Fleming, Bell and Clerk Maxwell – in that he’s a Scot whose work in science changed the world.

      But although there is no doubting his impact, the psychiatrist born in Bridge of Allan is rarely celebrated, for obvious reasons.

      Cameron is one of the godfathers of modern torture, whose work has been utilised in places like Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Northern Ireland, the Philippines and Chile, to name just a few.

      In the 1950s, Cameron, who was working in the United States and Canada, was funded by the CIA to develop and research sensory deprivation (blindfolds, hoods, earmuffs) and sensory overload (high-decibel white noise, shouting or aggressive music). Both have been cornerstones of moder “enhanced interrogation” ever since.

    • Dennis Marek: What we don't know about torture

    • Peter Jackson’s Cartoon War
      When director-producer Peter Jackson’s World War I film, “They Shall Not Grow Old,” which miraculously transforms grainy, choppy black-and-white archival footage from the war into a modern 3D color extravaganza, begins, he bombards us with the clichés used to ennoble war. Veterans, over background music, say things like “I wouldn’t have missed it,” “I would go through it all over again because I enjoyed the service life” and “It made me a man.” It must have taken some effort after the war to find the tiny minority of veterans willing to utter this rubbish. Military life is a form of servitude, prolonged exposure to combat leaves you broken, scarred for life by trauma and often so numb you have difficulty connecting with others, and the last thing war does is make you a man.

      Far more common was the experience of the actor Wilfrid Lawson, who was wounded in the war and as a result had a metal plate in his skull. He drank heavily to dull the incessant pain. In his memoirs “Inside Memory,” Timothy Findley, who acted with him, recalled that Lawson “always went to bed sodden and all night long he would be dragged from one nightmare to another—often yelling—more often screaming—very often struggling physically to free himself of impeding bedclothes and threatening shapes in the shadows.” He would pound the walls, shouting “Help! Help! Help!” The noise, my dear—and the people.


      There is no mention in the film of the colossal stupidity of the British general staff that sent hundreds of thousands of working-class Englishmen—they are seen grinning into the camera with their decayed teeth—in wave after wave, week after week, month after month, into the mouths of German machine guns to be killed or wounded. There is no serious exploration of the iron censorship that hid the realities of the war from the public and saw the press become a shill for warmongers. There is no investigation into how the war was used by the state, as it is today, as an excuse to eradicate civil liberties. There is no look at the immense wealth made by the arms manufacturers and contractors or how the war plunged Britain deep into debt with war-related costs totaling 70 percent of the gross national product. Yes, we see some pictures of gruesome wounds, digitalized into color, yes, we hear how rats ate corpses, but the war in the film is carefully choreographed, stripped of the deafening sounds, repugnant smells and most importantly the crippling fear and terror that make a battlefield a stygian nightmare. We glimpse dead bodies, but there are no long camera shots of the slow agony of those dying of horrific wounds. Sanitized images like these are war pornography. That they are no longer jerky and grainy and have been colorized in 3D merely gives old war porn a modern sheen.

    • Negotiations Hit Snag as Shutdown Deadline Approaches
      With a Friday deadline approaching, the two sides remained separated over how much to spend on President Donald Trump’s promised border wall. But rising to the fore on Sunday was a related dispute over curbing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, the federal agency that Republicans see as an emblem of tough immigration policies and Democrats accuse of often going too far.

      The fight over ICE detentions goes to the core of each party’s view on immigration. Republicans favor rigid enforcement of immigration laws and have little interest in easing them if Democrats refuse to fund the Mexican border wall. Democrats despise the proposed wall and, in return for border security funds, want to curb what they see as unnecessarily harsh enforcement by ICE.

      People involved in the talks say Democrats have proposed limiting the number of immigrants here illegally who are caught inside the U.S. — not at the border — that the agency can detain. Republicans say they don’t want that cap to apply to immigrants caught committing crimes, but Democrats do.

    • The Uses of a Well-Regulated Militia by an Unregulated President
      A young friend is seriously considering joining her state’s National Guard. She’s a world-class athlete, but also a working-class woman from a rural background competing in a rich person’s sport. Between seasons, she works for a local farm and auctioneer to put together the money for equipment and travel.

      Each season, raising the necessary money to compete is a touch-and-go proposition, so she’s now talking to the National Guard. If, after basic training, she joins the Army’s World Class Athletes Program as a reservist, her service will essentially consist of competing in her sport. She’ll get an annual salary, health care, college tuition -- all to do what she loves and wants to do anyway. What could possibly go wrong?

      Well, she could end up fighting in one of this country’s forever wars.

      That’s what happened to thousands of National Guard troops and reservists when Washington discovered its all-volunteer forces were woefully inadequate for the project of occupying Iraq after the 2003 invasion. As then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously explained, Washington went to war with the Army it had, “not the Army you might wish you have.” So the National Guard filled in the gaps, supplying up to 41% of the troops deployed there by 2005. By 2011, more than 300,000 Guards had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as well.

    • Oh good, Donald Trump is back: A rally near the border and bizarre new "facts" on immigration
      Steve M at NMMNB helpfully pointed out that many Americans say they want to migrate too. That number is up from 10 percent during the Obama years to 16 percent today. That adds up to about 52 million people. Yet only about 9 million Americans actually live abroad.

    • Black Lives Matter Is Making Single Moms Homeowners
      In May, Tiffany Brown and her children will move into a new home in the historic Black neighborhood of West Louisville, Kentucky.

      A single mother of three, Brown has spent most of her adult life in public housing. Her first shot at homeownership comes courtesy of a new project by the Louisville chapter of Black Lives Matter to help provide permanent housing to transient families and low-income single-mother households like hers.

      She had recently relocated to Section 8 housing because of involuntary displacement in her previous location, the result of ongoing practices of segregation and unequal access to housing based on race.

      The BLM project means Brown and her children not only have access to affordable housing, but now can finally own their home—at no initial cost to them. Her only financial obligations will be to pay the taxes and utilities on the home. She has no mortgage.

    • In Twitter Thread, Rep. Jayapal Rips Trump's "Wild Claims and Lies" on Manufactured Border Crisis
      Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) took to social media on Monday to debunk President Donald Trump's "wild claims and lies" about asylum-seekers at the southern border.

      The congresswoman's morning Twitter thread comes as another Democrat—California Gov. Gavin Newsom—refuses to be part of Trump's "political theater" and is set to order the withdrawal of the majority of the state's National Guard troops now at the border.

    • Report Shows ICE Almost Never Punishes Contractors Housing Detainees No Matter How Many Violations They Rack Up
      ICE continues to make its own case for abolishment. The agency busies itself with neglecting detainees when not acting as the extension of major corporations to shut down infringing panties/websites. ICE is too big and it's getting bigger at a rate it can't sustain. To achieve the ends the President has set down for it, it's wearing itself thin trying to find the dangerous immigrants Trump keeps talking about or the bound-and-gagged women he insists are being brought across the border by the truckload.

      It seemingly doesn't have the manpower to even capture just dangerous foreigners. Instead of using its resources more carefully, it's doing things like setting up fake colleges to capture dangerous criminals immigrants seeking educational opportunities. And it's continuing to outsource its responsibilities while taking an apparent hands-off approach to third party detention.

      ICE's Inspector General released a report last summer stating the agency was failing to inspect detention facilities often enough or well enough. It found contractors performing government work were doing the job poorly. Detainees weren't being interviewed properly or given translators to overcome speech barriers. In some cases, detention personnel were not giving detainees access to services like phone calls to the ICE officers handling their cases. In some facilities, dangerous detainees were intermingled with non-criminals. In almost every case, ICE issued a waiver for deficiencies it actually observed. As far as the OIG could tell, dozens of deficiencies went unnoticed thanks to ICE's inability (or unwillingness) to perform mandatory inspections.

    • Prosecutors Seek New Sentence in Laquan McDonald Case
      Prosecutors on Monday asked Illinois’ highest court to review the less than seven year prison sentence for the white Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald — an unusual move in what was already a rare case.

      Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and the special prosecutor who won a murder conviction against former officer Jason Van Dyke, Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon, said they believe Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan improperly applied the law last month when he sentenced Van Dyke to six years and nine months in prison. Raoul and McMahon filed a request with the Illinois Supreme Court seeking an order that could ultimately result in the court forcing Gaughan to impose a longer sentence.

    • The Supreme Court Is Playing Favorites With Religion
      Last week, the Supreme Court permitted the state of Alabama to execute a Muslim man, Domineque Ray, without his religious advisor present. The court’s 5-4 decision reversed an emergency lower-court order that had temporarily delayed the execution because of grave concerns that Alabama’s practice of allowing only the state’s Christian chaplain to be present in the execution chamber unconstitutionally favored Christian prisoners.

      Without even acknowledging those concerns, the court issued a brief, callous decision that is, as Justice Kagan noted in dissent, “profoundly wrong.” It is also the latest example of a disturbing trend of religious favoritism, in which minority faiths — particularly Islam — are given second-class legal status.

      The Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that the “clearest command” of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause “is that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.” The strict rule against denominational preference lies at the heart of American religious liberty, and it dates back to the founding of our nation. The constitutional framers recognized that “religion is too personal, too sacred, too holy, to permit its ‘unhallowed perversion’ by a civil magistrate.” When the government officially favors one faith over others, it intrudes on matters of conscience and religious autonomy, fosters religious division and animosity, and tramples our national commitment to equality among faiths.

    • Apple and Google Caught Hosting Saudi Govt App That Tracks Women
      Afew days ago, the Insider published an article regarding the existence of Absher: an app that tracks movements of women. The report also included the story of a teen that successfully evaded Saudi Arabia.

      The Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused Apple and Google of helping “gender apartheid” in Saudi Arabia by harboring such a sinister app on the Google Play Store as well as App Store.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Sprint Sues AT&T Over Its Fake 5G, Says AT&T's Tricking Consumers
      Big telecom operators haven't been exactly honest when it comes to the looming fifth-generation wireless standard (5G). Eager to use the improvements to charge higher rates and sell new gear, carriers and network vendors are already dramatically over-hyping where the service is actually available, and what it can actually do. Some, like AT&T, have gone so far as to actively mislead customers by pretending that its existing 4G networks are actually 5G. AT&T took this to the next level recently by issuing phone updates that change the 4G icon to "5GE" on customer phones, despite the fact that actual 5G isn't really available.

      In a country with functioning regulatory oversight, a competent regulator would at least issue a statement pointing out that misleading consumers in this fashion is false advertising. Instead, AT&T executives, FCC regulatory capture in tow, have quite literally expressed glee at the consternation their 5G head fake is creating among consumers and competitors alike...

    • EU should resist Washington's coercion on 5G
      As US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland is tasked with helping to maintain good ties between the United States and the EU. However, he has been busy lately trying to sabotage relations between the EU and China.

      Sondland told media group Politico that the US and EU should overcome their current trade tensions and join forces against the Chinese to "check China in multiple respects: economically, from an intelligence standpoint, militarily" and "we want to keep critical infrastructure in the Western world out of Chinese malign influence".

      Sondland is just one of many US diplomats lobbying and coercing allies to ban China's Huawei Technologies from its 5G networks, to advance US commercial and geopolitical interests.

      "Someone from the Politburo in Beijing picks up the phone and says,'I wanna listen in on the following conversation, I wanna run a certain car off the road that's on the 5G network and kill the person that's in it,' there's nothing that company legally can do today in China to prevent the Chinese government from making that request successfully," Sondland was quoted as saying.

    • Enough of the 5G Hype
      Wireless carriers are working hard to talk up 5G (Fifth Generation) wireless as the future of broadband. But don’t be fooled—they are only trying to focus our attention on 5G to try to distract us from their willful failure to invest in a proven ultrafast option for many Americans: fiber to the home, or FTTH.

      A recent FCC report on competition found that the future of high-speed broadband for most Americans will be a cable monopoly. Without a plan to promote fiber to the home, that’s not likely to change. In fact, because the 5G upgrade relies on fiber infrastructure, even 5G will be possibly limited to areas that already have FTTH – meaning, they already have a competitive landscape and, therefore, better service. The rest of us get monopolistic slow lanes.

      Regulators and policymakers focusing only on 5G wireless are setting us up to fail. Only aggressive promotion of competitive high-speed wireline infrastructure can ensure that the 68 million Americans that currently have access to only one high-speed ISP will have options (and, in turn, the ability to vote with their wallets if service is slow), and that the 19 million Americans with no access at all can leapfrog into the 21st century of broadband access.

  • DRM

    • Review of Igalia’s Multimedia Activities (2018/H2)
      EME is a specification for enabling playback of encrypted content in Web bowsers that support HTML 5 video.

      In a downstream project for WPE WebKit we managed to have almost full test coverage in the YoutubeTV 2018 test suite.

      We merged our contributions in upstream, WebKit and GStreamer, most of what is legal to publish, for example, making demuxers aware of encrypted content and make them to send protection events with the initialization data and the encrypted caps, in order to select later the decryption key.

      We started to coordinate the upstreaming process of a new implementation of CDM (Content Decryption Module) abstraction and there will be even changes in that abstraction.

    • MiUnlockTool unlocks Xiaomi phones' bootloader on macOS and Linux
      MiUnlockTool is a third party bootloader unlock utility which runs on Linux and macOS. The official Xiaomi tool for unlocking bootloader is Windows only.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • South Korea's Supreme Court vacates 2009 antitrust fine imposed on Qualcomm by the Korea Fair Trade Commission: unrelated to 2016 ruling
      So let's put all of this into perspective. The old 2009 matter, which apparently took almost a decade to make its way up to South Korea's top court, was about incentive payments by Qualcomm "to Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. between 2000 and 2009 on condition that they only use Qualcomm chips for certain smartphone models" (quoting Yonhap). That decision was affirmed by the Seoul High Court in 2013 for its anticompetitive effect. According to Yonhap, the Seoul High Court determined the incentive payments "effectively forced Korean buyers [= Samsung and LG] from exploring other deals with [Qualcomm's] competitors," and the Seoul High Court took particular issue with some of what was paid to LG because it "undermined fair competition."

      Today, however, South Korea's Supreme Court determined that LG's share in the (presumably Korean) smartphone market in the years 2006-2008 was "well below the 40 percent level," which in the top court's opinion makes it "less likely" that these exclusive dealings had anticompetitive effects.

      So what's the actual impact of this decision to vacate the 2009 fine, apart from being unrelated to the 2016 case (in which the fee is almost four times as high)?

    • Apple has already defeated Qualcomm's first ITC complaint with a workaround in iOS 12.1 and later, blessed by Qualcomm's CTO
      Qualcomm's patent enforcement campaign against Apple, which started in the spring of 2017, has produced some headlines but no real results. What Qualcomm wanted was to gain leverage over Apple well in advance of the Apple & contract manufacturers v. Qualcomm trial that will take place in San Diego in April. Qualcomm furthermore wanted to demonstrate the strength of its patent portfolio to the industry at large. But it has failed to achieve the former (practically zero leverage over Apple), and with respect to the latter, the very opposite is the case: the longer Qualcomm keeps litigating against Apple without real results, the less its royalty demands for non-standard-essential patents (a premium of 1.75% as Qualcomm charges 5% for its entire portfolio vs. 3.25% for only its standard-essential patents) will be accepted by the rest of the industry going forward.

      On Friday, Dr. Ron Katznelson, a former Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of California in Qualcomm's home town of San Diego, told the United States International Trade Commission (USITC, or just ITC) in a public-interest statement that there are dozens of alternative technologies to the asserted claim 31 of U.S. Patent No. 9,535,490 on "power[-]saving techniques in computing devices." That's the one Qualcomm patent an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) deemed Apple to infringe, though the ALJ recommended (for public-interest considerations) that no import ban be ordered.

      Dr. Katznelson was right. Qualcomm's sole remaining patent-in-suit in the investigation of its first ITC complaint against Apple is apparently as useful as having a fence on only one side of a property: anybody can just walk around it.

    • Why China’s impressive patent rates don’t tell the whole story [Ed: China just games the patent system by granting lots of rubbish one. Corrupt WIPO is OK with it.]
      Figures released last month by UHY Hacker Young showed that China is leading the way in global patent filing for AI and blockchain, with the US trailing close behind. According to the report, China was responsible for 73 per cent of AI and 32 per cent of blockchain patent filings with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in 2017.

      These two technology areas were, presumably, chosen because they are two of the most exciting sectors of emerging innovation. However, it’s wrong to assume that China’s vanguard position for patent applications in these fields necessarily means they really are leading when it comes to innovation. These figures, while impressive at first glance, should be viewed in the right context.

      Taking a step back, it is worth noting that the total number of patent applications in China in all sectors has dramatically increased over the past decade. Between 2008 and 2017, the number of patent applications filed in China rose from 204,000 to 1.3m: a staggering increase of 600 per cent.


      A lack of quality is also indicated in the hesitancy of Chinese companies to file counterpart patent applications in foreign markets, demonstrated by figures ranking China in fifth place globally. Any organisation seeking to protect its innovations with a patent needs to file an application in each territory it wishes to protect their invention. If the majority of Chinese patents filed have no protection outside of the country, we therefore have to question their potential on a global scale. It’s, therefore, another indicator that quality is falling foul to a game of numbers with the Chinese IP system.

      The lack of quality over quantity is very likely to be mirrored in the high number of blockchain and AI filings as, globally, China is the largest patent filer in both these sectors.

      Meanwhile, legal checks and balances have arguably tapered any attempts by the US to mirror China’s IP window dressing. The decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, a supreme court case in 2014 – which increased the benchmark for what can be considered ‘patentable’ – had a direct effect on lowering the total number of patent applications, and causing only a slight increase in those for trademarks. If such measures were introduced in China, without state encouragement, you can only speculate how many applications would be filed – and succeed.

    • Trademarks

      • Monster Energy Loses Appeal On Monsta Pizza Trademark Ruling
        Monster Energy, maker of caffeinated liquid crank, has a long and legendary history of being roughly the most obnoxious trademark bully on the planet. It faces stiff competition in this arena of bad, of course, but it has always put up quite a fight to win that title. The company either sues or attempts to block trademarks for everything that could even possibly be barely linked to the term "monster" in any way. One such case was its opposition to a trademark registration for Monsta Pizza in the UK. Pizza is, of course, not a beverage, but that didn't stop Monster Energy from trying to keep the pizza chain from its name. It lost that opposition, with the IPO pointing out that its citizens are not stupid enough to be confused between drinks and pizza.

        And that should have been the end of the story, except that this is Monster Energy we're talking about, so of course it appealed its loss. Its grounds for appeal amounted to "Nuh-uh! The public really might be confused!" Thankfully, Monster Energy lost this appeal as well.

    • Copyrights

      • Article 13 Was Purposefully Designed To Be Awful For The Internet; EU Moves Forward With It Anyway
        As was widely expected, even if it's unfortunately, on Friday evening the EU Council voted to move forward with the latest draft of the EU Copyright Directive, including the truly awful "compromise" version of Article 13 hacked out by the Germans and the French. This happened despite the fact that there's basically no one left who supports this version of Article 13. The public is widely against it. The internet companies are against it. And, perhaps surprisingly, even the legacy copyright companies -- who pushed so hard for this -- are still angry about the result, which they insist is too lenient on the internet.

        I've been left scratching my head over why the copyright holders are still pushing for more here. To be clear, the version that the EU Council approved last week would fundamentally change the internet in a massive way. It would, effectively, make it nearly impossible for any website to ever host any user-generated content. In nearly all cases it would require expensive and problematic upload filters. In the few "exceptions" to that, it would still require a massive amount of concessions from internet platforms to avoid liability.

      • Nearly 4,000 Pirate Sites Are Blocked by ISPs Around The World

        The Motion Picture Association has provided a fresh overview of worldwide pirate site blocking efforts. At the moment, close to 4,000 websites are blocked in 31 countries. The movie industry group notes that site blocking, while not perfect, has proven to be an effective enforcement tool.

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