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Links 13/2/2019: Plasma 5.15.0 and a Look at Linux Mint Debian Edition Cindy

GNOME bluefish



  • 2018 Members Choice Award Winners
    Desktop Distribution of the Year - Linux Mint (14.93%) Server Distribution of the Year - Slackware (25.69%) Live Distribution of the Year - antiX (24.70%) Database of the Year - MariaDB (44.59%) Browser of the Year - Firefox (57.63%) Desktop Environment of the Year - Plasma Desktop (KDE) (29.43%) Window Manager of the Year - Openbox (24.64%) Audio Media Player Application of the Year - VLC (24.10%) Digital Audio Workstation of the Year - Ardour (33.33%) Video Media Player of the Year - VLC (65.00%) Video Authoring Application of the Year - KDEnlive (41.67%) Network Security Application of the Year - Wireshark (20.25%) Host Security Application of the Year - AppArmor (31.25%) Network Monitoring Application of the Year - Nagios XI (30.51%) IDE of the Year - Visual Studio Code (19.08%) Text Editor of the Year - vim (24.92%) File Manager of the Year - Dolphin (25.68%) Open Source Game of the Year - SuperTuxKart / 0 A.D. tie (16.51%) Programming Language of the Year - Python (32.51%) Backup Application of the Year - rsync (43.36%) Log Management Tool of the Year - Logwatch (43.75) X Terminal Emulator of the Year - Konsole (20.94%) Browser Privacy Solution of the Year - uBlock Origin (31.21%) Privacy Solution of the Year - GnuPG (27.88%) Open Source File Sync Application of the Year - Nextcloud / Syncthing tie (25.93%) IRC Client of the Year - HexChat (47.67%) Universal Packaging Format of the Year - Appimage (38.89%) Single Board Computer of the Year - Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (58.43%) Virtualization Application of the Year - VirtualBox (56.79%) Container of the Year - Docker (57.63%) Orchestrator of the Year - Kubernetes (74.19%) Linux/Open Source Podcast of the Year - GNU World Order (20.00%) Secure Messaging Application of the Year - Signal (40.00%) Video Messaging Application of the Year - Skype (44.90%) Raster Graphics Editor of the Year - GIMP (79.49%) Linux Desktop Vendor of the Year - System76 (55.17%) Linux Server Vendor of the Year - Dell (32.69%) Email Client of the Year - Thunderbird (61.54%)

  • Desktop

    • Run Linux On Windows 10 ARM Laptops With This Open Source Project
      Back in December 2017, Microsoft launched Windows 10 On ARM — a new operating system designed to run Windows 10 on laptops powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips. While the computers designed for this version of Windows have failed to make an impact on the market, they’ve surely attracted the attention of the open source community.

      Just recently, I came across a project named aarch64-laptops on GitHub. It’s a result of the desire of some Linux enthusiasts to bring distros like Ubuntu to ARM-running laptops. Currently, the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS images are available for Asus NovaGo TP370QL, HP Envy x2, and Lenovo Mixx 630.

    • Chrome OS 72 brings improved support for Android, Linux apps and more
      Chrome OS 72 is starting to roll out to users with a wealth of changes, including a tablet mode, improvements for Android apps and plenty more.

      For one, Chrome OS 72 brings native Google Assistant and Android Pie to more Chromebooks. Those features initially came with Chrome OS 71 but were limited to the Pixel Slate.

      Speaking of the Slate, it and Chromebooks like it now have access to a tablet mode that should improve usability.

    • Google Outs Chrome OS 72 with Android Improvements, Picture in Picture Support
      Google promoted the Chrome OS 72 operating system to the stable channel, a release that introduces several improvements to make your Chromebook experience better, more secure, and enjoyable. The Chrome OS 72 release introduces numerous improvements, especially for dealing with Android files. Among these, we can mention external storage access support for Android apps via /storage dir and MediaStore APIs, and the ability to search app shortcuts for Android apps in the Launcher.

      To find an app shortcut, you need to right-click or long-press on an Android app. Chrome OS 72 also introduces Picture in Picture (PiP) support and touchscreen support in tablet mode for the Chrome web browser, and the ability to view saved Google Drive through from Backup and Sync in the Files app under My Drive/Computers.

  • Server

    • The Modern Software Platform
      This is the first post in an ongoing series which will explore the changes, improvements, and additions we’re planning for the next big release of Red Hat OpenShift, version 4.0. Check in each week for more information that will prepare you for the shift to 4.0.

      From the time the fledgling Kubernetes community met at the Google office in Seattle for our first face-to-face meeting in the fall of 2014, I’ve believed that Kubernetes was a project that would transform how we build and run software. Over the last few years, we’ve seen countless others come around to that point of view (most enthusiastically, some grudgingly). At the same time, the public cloud providers have continued the massive investments in infrastructure and services that make IT and software easier, simpler, and available at a scale that few people anticipated when the decade began.
    • Red Hat CloudForms 4.7 released
      There's an old, wise IT statement: "Never fix what's broken." Of course, there's an equally true tech management thought, which goes: "You snooze, you lose." So, trying to satisfy both the tortoises and hares of IT, Red Hat's newest version of its old-school CloudForms management tool comes ready to integrate with Red Hat's DevOps program of choice: Ansible Tower.

    • Blog: Building a Kubernetes Edge (Ingress) Control Plane for Envoy v2
      Kubernetes has become the de facto runtime for container-based microservice applications, but this orchestration framework alone does not provide all of the infrastructure necessary for running a distributed system. Microservices typically communicate through Layer 7 protocols such as HTTP, gRPC, or WebSockets, and therefore having the ability to make routing decisions, manipulate protocol metadata, and observe at this layer is vital. However, traditional load balancers and edge proxies have predominantly focused on L3/4 traffic. This is where the Envoy Proxy comes into play.

      Envoy proxy was designed as a universal data plane from the ground-up by the Lyft Engineering team for today’s distributed, L7-centric world, with broad support for L7 protocols, a real-time API for managing its configuration, first-class observability, and high performance within a small memory footprint. However, Envoy’s vast feature set and flexibility of operation also makes its configuration highly complicated – this is evident from looking at its rich but verbose control plane syntax.

      With the open source Ambassador API Gateway, we wanted to tackle the challenge of creating a new control plane that focuses on the use case of deploying Envoy as an forward-facing edge proxy within a Kubernetes cluster, in a way that is idiomatic to Kubernetes operators. In this article, we’ll walk through two major iterations of the Ambassador design, and how we integrated Ambassador with Kubernetes.

    • RIP Dr Peuto, Zilog and Sun's bright SPARC
      The 16-bit Z8000 was the big brother of the 8-bit Z80, used in the first wave of low cost microcomputers like the Spectrum and TRS80, but had a starring role in its own right. As a 16-bit CPU it powered several Unix systems, including Commodore, Olivetti and Onyx, as well as Zilog's own System 8000 machines.

      Astonishingly, the ambitious project began in early 1976, long before the personal workstation was a market.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.20.8
      I'm announcing the release of the 4.20.8 kernel.

      All users of the 4.20 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.20.y git tree can be found at: git:// linux-4.20.y and can be browsed at the normal git web browser:

    • Linux 4.19.21
    • Linux 4.14.99
    • Linux 4.9.156

    • Removing Profanity from the Source Tree
      Linus Torvalds recently stepped away from kernel development temporarily in order to think about how to be less harsh with developers in certain situations. Simultaneous with his departure was a patch introducing a new Code of Conduct into the kernel source tree. The effects of this are beginning to be felt.

      Jarkko Sakkinen recently posted a patch to change a kernel comment containing the word "fuck" to use the word "hug" instead. So the code comment, "Wirzenius wrote this portably, Torvalds fucked it up" would become "Wirzenius wrote this portably, Torvalds hugged it up".

      Steven Rostedt replied to this, saying that the code in question had changed so much that the original comment was out of date, and it should just be removed entirely. He said, "that will be an accurate change with or without CoC."

      Jonathan Corbet remarked, "I'd much rather see either deletion or a rewrite over bleeping out words that somebody might not like." And Jiri Kosina agreed, saying, "turning comments into something that often doesn't make sense to anybody at all is hardly productive."

      Sergey Senozhatsky pointed out that Linus was the author of the original self-deprecating comment. He asked, "Linus has made a comment, in his own words, about his own code. Why would anyone be offended by this?"

    • Google's Chrome OS "Wilco" Driver Working Towards Mainline Linux
      For years now Google has been designing their own embedded controller (EC) for use within Chromebooks / Chrome OS devices.

      But after about five years of the "ChromeOS EC" (cros_ec), there is a new embedded controller they have been working on. Coming soon to the mainline Linux tree will be the kernel support for a new ChromeOS "Wilco" Embedded Controller.

      Wilco is Google's new embedded controller wired up over an eSPI bus. The new driver doesn't yield much to get excited about, however, but great that Google continues working on their own ECs and they are backed by open-source firmware and first-rate Linux support given their Chrome OS usage.
    • Radeon VII (Vega 20) Firmware Support Lands In Linux-Firmware.Git
      In addition to needing a recent version of the Linux kernel and Mesa (ideally, Linux 5.0 and Mesa 19.0 if enjoying the very best performance and features) for using a Radeon VII graphics card on Linux, you also need to have the necessary firmware binaries manually installed if not using the Radeon Software for Linux driver package. Those firmware bits are now in the linux-firmware.git repository.

    • Queued Linux Patches To Better Track AVX-512, Allowing For More Optimal Task Placement
      After going through several rounds of patch review in recent months, a patch series providing for tracking AVX-512 usage of tasks and exporting it to user-space is poised to be part of the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel.

      As using complex AVX-512 operations can lead to lower turbo frequencies for those cores, the Linux kernel will be providing better tracking of AVX-512 usage of tasks that is readable by user-space for programs doing their own task placement. If keeping AVX-512 usage to particular core(s) and not intermixing them with non-AVX tasks, better performance can be achievable due to the differing turbo frequencies of CPUs when running Advanced Vector Extensions.

    • Qualcomm FastRPC Driver Going Mainline For Offloading Tasks To The DSP
      The latest Qualcomm driver working its way to the mainline Linux kernel is the FastRPC driver and should arrive with Linux 5.1.

      FastRPC is an in-kernel IPC mechanism for clients to make remote method invocations across DSP/APPS boundaries. The intent of Qualcomm FastRPC is allowing tasks to be easily offloading to the DSP hardware, such as easily punting work from the Snapdragon processor to the Qualcomm Hexagon on capable SoCs.

    • Benchmarks

      • GCC 8/9 vs. LLVM Clang 7/8 Compiler Performance On AArch64
        With Clang 8.0 due out by month's end and GCC 9 due for release not long after that point, this week we've been running a number of GCC and Clang compiler benchmarks on Phoronix. At the start of the month was the large Linux x86_64 GCC vs. Clang compiler benchmarks on twelve different Intel/AMD systems while last week was also a look at the POWER9 compiler performance on the Raptor Talos II. In this article we are checking out these open-source compilers' performance on 64-bit ARM (AArch64) using an Ampere eMAG 32-core server.

  • Applications

    • Better Bluetooth sound quality on Linux
      Over a year ago I got my first serious Bluetooth headphones. They worked with Fedora well, they paired, connected, sound was directed to them. Just the sound quality was not overwhelming. I learnt that because of limited bandwidth of Bluetooth a codec with audio compression has to be used. There are quite a few of them to pick from: AAC (very widely supported because it’s the only one iPhone supports, partly freely available), AptX (also very widely supported, but proprietary), AptX-HD (enhanced AptX with a higher bitrate, also proprietary), LDAC (probably the best codec available, highest bitrate, available in Android, supported mostly by Sony devices), MP3 (also possible, but supported by virtually no devices). And also SBC which is a native Bluetooth, first generation compression codec with rather bad sound quality.

      My headphones supported SBC, AAC, AptX, AptX-HD, LDAC, so all the advanced codecs. Sadly on Linux it fallbacked to the basic SBC because no other was available for Bluetooth, and headphones for €200 produced rather underwhelming sound. I mostly listen to music on Spotify. Listening to it on my headphones meant transcoding OGG 320 kbps to SBC and losing a lot of sound quality.

    • PulseAudio Plugin Allows For Better Bluetooth Audio Quality On Linux
      Right now on most Linux distributions when using higher-end Bluetooth headphones, the low-end SBC audio codec ends up being utilized by default which is subpar for the potential audio quality of the more expensive headphones. Fortunately, there are PulseAudio modules that allow for the higher-end codecs to be used.

      The low-complexity sub-band codec "SBC" is what ends up being used by default as it's native to Bluetooth and not proprietary or encumbered by patents. But newer headphones on the premium end of the spectrum also support LDAC, AptX-HD, and others with higher bit-rates yielding better audio quality.

    • Top 10 Best Linux Media Server Software
      Did someone tell you that Linux is just for programmers? That is so wrong! You have got a lot of great tools for digital artists, writers and musicians.

      We have covered such tools in the past. Today it’s going to be slightly different. Instead of creating new digital content, let’s talk about consuming it.

      You have probably heard of media servers? Basically these software (and sometimes gadgets) allow you to view your local or cloud media (music, videos etc) in an intuitive interface. You can even use it to stream the content to other devices on your network. Sort of your personal Netflix.

    • Skrooge 2.18.0 released
      The Skrooge Team announces the release 2.18.0 version of its popular Personal Finances Manager based on KDE Frameworks.

    • Essential System Tools: QJournalctl – Graphical User Interface for systemd’s journalctl
      This is the latest in our series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems. The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For this article, we’ll look at QJournalctl, a Qt-based Graphical User Interface for systemd’s journalctl command. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table at the summary page of this article.

      For many years system and kernel logs were handled by a utility called syslogd. Most Linux-based operating systems have since moved to systemd, which has a journal. It’s a giant log file for the whole system. Various software and services write their log entries into systemd’s journalctl. To view the output, there’s the command-line journalctl utility.

      journalctl is a systemd utility. If your system doesn’t use systemd, you’ll have little interest in this utility. But given most popular Linux distros have adopted systemd, it’s likely you’ll need journalctl at one stage or another. It’s common sense to understand the system you’re running, and this utility will help you in this process.

    • BleachBit 2.1 Beta
      Designed for Linux and Windows systems, it wipes clean thousands of applications including Firefox, Internet Explorer, Adobe Flash, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, and more. Beyond simply deleting files, BleachBit includes advanced features such as shredding files to prevent recovery, wiping free disk space to hide traces of files deleted by other applications, and vacuuming Firefox to make it faster. Better than free, BleachBit is open source.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • 6 Months With Linux: The Ugly Truth About Gaming Without Windows

        While I admire the work developers are doing to create open source driver solutions, no gamer in their right mind would want to use Nouveau instead of Nvidia's proprietary driver. And Nouveau doesn't have Vulkan support, which rules out a considerable number of games with Steam Proton and Lutris.

        This means Nvidia gamers need to install the proprietary driver. Fortunately, Linux distributions like Pop!_OS, Ubuntu and Mint made this a straightforward process. But is it?

      • Suffered crashes in CS:GO Danger Zone? They should now be fixed on Linux
        Valve has finally fixed the issue in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Danger Zone crashing for Linux gamers.
      • Wraithslayer looks like a pretty fun boss battle game, coming soon
        Wraithslayer could be an interesting one, a back to basics 2D action boss battler that's releasing soon.

      • Unreal Engine 4.22 Preview 1 now available
        Unreal Engine 4.22 will be releasing soon with a number of fixes and updates. In the meantime, the first Preview is now available for download from the Epic Games launcher.

        Preview 1 includes support for real-time ray tracing, Editor Utility Widgets, Blueprint indexing optimizations, virtual production updates, Oculus Quest support and the Unreal Audio Engine is now on by default for new projects.

        A full list of the upcoming changes to this build are available on the Unreal Engine forums. We invite you to provide feedback on Preview 1, and all subsequent releases. Please keep in mind that Preview releases are intended only to provide a sample of what is going to be released in the update and are not production-ready.

      • Unreal Engine 4.22 Preview 1 Released With Real-Time Ray-Tracing
        Unreal Engine 4.21 back in November was a big update for Linux gamers in that this game engine now defaults to the Vulkan renderer and also had various other fixes. With today's Unreal Engine 4.22 Preview 1 release, there are no Linux/Vulkan-specific changes mentioned, but some other interesting changes in general.

        The release notes as of Unreal Engine 4.22 Preview 1 don't indicate any Vulkan or Linux focused changes, but aside from that there is some interesting changes. Arguably most interesting is having experimental support for real-time ray-tracing and path tracing though sadly that's limited for now to Direct3D 12 with DXR and not yet any Vulkan ray-tracing support.

      • Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus officially released for Linux, more content on the way
        Bulwark Studios and Kasedo Games have officially released Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus for Linux after having a 'soft launch' in December last year.

      • The Humble Great GameMaker Games Bundle is out with some sweet Linux games
        It's almost midweek, time to refresh that gaming collection of yours with The Humble Great GameMaker Games Bundle that has some Linux games available.

      • Fun platformer 'Million to One Hero' where you can make your own adventures is releasing soon
        Million to One Hero from Spanish developer Over the Top Games seems like a very promising platformer and they've announced the release is this month.

        We previously highlighted the game earlier this month, at that time they did not have a release date available. They've since announced that it's going to be available on Linux right at release, which will be on February 27th.

      • Barotrauma, a co-op submarine adventure set on Jupiter's moon Europa is promising, has a demo
        For those after a more sci-fi take on the co-op submarine adventure, Barotrauma seems like it could be quite fun.

        Currently in a closed-beta before an Early Access release on Steam, you can actually grab an earlier version direct from their website here. They're not taking on any more for the closed-beta, so the demo should still give a small glimpse into what's possible.

      • JUMPGRID is a fantastic 2D dodge-em-up that will give your fingers a workout
        Did you enjoy Super Hexagon? JUMPGRID is a brand new dodge-em-up with simple and addictive gameplay. Note: Key provided by the developer.

      • Moving the player object in Pygame
        In the last chapter we have created the animation effect for the player object and in this chapter, we will move the player object in the x-axis. We will leave the wall and boundary collision detection mechanism to the next chapter. In the last chapter we have already linked up the keyboard events with the game manager class and in this chapter, we only need a slight modification to move the player across the scene when the left or the right arrow key has been pressed. One of the problems with the pygame event module is that we need to activate the repeated event detection process by our-self with this single line of code before the module can send the repeated keypress event (which means when someone is holding the same key on the keyboard) to us.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma 5.15.0
        Today KDE launches the first stable release of Plasma in 2019: Say hello to Plasma 5.15.

        For the first production release of 2019, the Plasma team has embraced KDE's Usability & Productivity goal and has been working on hunting down and removing all the papercuts that slow you down.

        With this in mind, we teamed up with the VDG (Visual Design Group) contributors to get feedback on all the annoying problems in our software, and fixed them to ensure an intuitive and consistent workflow for your daily use.

        Plasma 5.15 brings a number of changes to the configuration interfaces, including more options for complex network configurations. Many icons have been added or redesigned to make them clearer. Integration with third-party technologies like GTK and Firefox has been improved substantially.

        Discover, Plasma's software and add-on installer, has received tonnes of improvements to help you stay up-to-date and find the tools you need to get your tasks done.

      • KDE releases a new version of the Plasma desktop environment
        Say hello to Plasma 5.15, the newest version of KDE's acclaimed desktop environment.

        This February release of KDE Plasma comes with a wide range of new features and improvements. The main focus of developers has been stamping out all minor problems and papercuts of the desktop, aiming to make Plasma smoother and easier to use.

        Plasma's configuration interfaces have been redesigned, expanded and clarified to cover more user cases and make it simpler to adapt Plasma to everybody's needs. Plasma has also improved the integration of non-native applications, so Firefox, for example, can now optionally use native KDE open/save dialogs. Likewise, GTK and GNOME apps now respect the global scale factor used by high-DPI screens.

      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Desktop Environment Officially Released, Here's What's New
        Six months in development, the KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop environment comes with a lot of changes to make your Plasma experience more enjoyable. These include various refinements to the configuration interfaces, new options for complex network configurations, redesigned icons, improved integration with third-party technologies and apps, and a much-improved Discover package manager.

        "For the first production release of 2019, the Plasma team has embraced KDE's Usability & Productivity goal and has been working on hunting down and removing all the papercuts that slow you down," reads today's announcement. "With this in mind, we teamed up with the VDG (Visual Design Group) contributors to get feedback on all the annoying problems in our software, and fixed them to ensure an intuitive and consistent workflow for your daily use."

      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Released With Wayland Improvements, Fixes To "Annoying Problems"
        The KDE community is out with their first big update to the Plasma desktop for 2019.

        Plasma 5.15 is a big update for KDE and among the many changes include:

        - Many Wayland improvements. There is support for more Wayland protocols, support for Wayland virtual desktops, and touch drag-and-drop support.

  • Distributions

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Engaging the openSUSE community
        And that the openSUSE community should have a better ‘Marketing strategy’ (for the lack of a better term) to make the Contributor Journey a smoother experience. To try to get the roadblocks out of the way for the people that want to be informed or be involved. It is an area where I could see myself contributing to in the future.

    • Debian Family

      • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #198

      • Markus Koschany: My Free Software Activities in January 2019
        Welcome to Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Nautilus Exif, PDF And Audio Metadata Tag Columns Extension For Ubuntu
            These metadata tags added by the Nautilus Columns extension are not only useful for a quickly look at some particular audio, pdf or image information from the Nautilus list view, but also to sort some files by a particular metadata tag column to easily identify the files you're looking for.

            Nautilus Columns is currently maintained by Spanish blogger Atareao, and it only supports English, Spanish and Galician languages.

            Judging from the extension code, it's also supposed to support some video formats as well, but no information was shown for such files on my Ubuntu 18.10 desktop, so it probably needs some fixes in this area. Audio, PDF and Exif metadata was displayed with no issues on my Ubuntu 18.10 desktop.

          • Ubuntu Developers Seem To Be Really Pursuing ZFS Root Partition Support On The Desktop
            Earlier this month I reported on how Ubuntu developers indicated they were looking at ZFS support on the desktop as part of their work developing the new Ubuntu desktop installer GUI. It's quite clear now that they are indeed pursuing the work to allow Ubuntu desktop installs via their work-in-progress installer to support ZFS root installations.

            As outlined in the aforelinked article, the developers indicated they were looking at "zfs on the desktop" after they had already been supporting ZFS as a standard offering for Ubuntu servers for a while and making the ZFS On Linux packages readily available. But their current Ubuntu desktop "Ubiquity" installer doesn't allow easily setting up a ZFS root partition with this out-of-tree file-system support.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 565

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 565

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • No, you can't take open-source code back
    Some people are still unclear about what it means or what happens once they've published their program under an open-source license. In the most recent example, mikeeusa, the author of an obscure game called GPC-Slots 2, claimed he was rescinding the program's GPLv2 license from some people and "from anyone who adds a 'Code of Conduct' anywhere near my code (to 'fight sexism'.)."

    While this specific case doesn't really matter -- the text-based casino game hasn't been updated in over a decade and appears to have no players -- the issue of whether one can block users from using code once it's been placed under the GPLv2 bothered enough people that it's been one of the hottest stories on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML) for over a week.

  • What Return of the Jedi taught me about open leadership
    No matter where you are in an organization, you can benefit from observing others and learning from them. We can all learn lessons from someone else.

    I like to look for leadership lessons wherever I go. Sometimes I learn a few tips on public speaking by watching a skilled presenter. Or I'll learn how to improve my meeting management style by reflecting on meetings that go well.

  • Is your enterprise’s open source strategy risky?

    Accurately evaluating this risk means developing a thorough understanding of an open source solution’s licensing terms, the health of its ecosystem, and the business models of the commercial organisations attached to the solution.

  • Events

    • CIB visiting FOSDEM 2019
      A new edition of FOSDEM (Free and Open source Software Developers‘ European Meeting) just ended. Our CIB LibreOffice team this year was represented by Thorsten Behrens, Michael Stahl and Marina Latini.

      The event is held annually during the first weekend of February, at the „Université Libre de Bruxelles„. For our team, attending FOSDEM means to be involved in a full week of meetings and collateral events related to LibreOffice and other open source communities.

    • Cloud Foundry Building the Future
      Whether you’re a contributor or committer building the platform, or you’re using the platform to attain your business goals, Cloud Foundry North America Summit is where developers, operators, CIOs and other IT professionals go to share best practices and innovate together.

    • Linux Kernel Maintainer Summit
      The Linux Kernel Maintainer Summit brings together the world’s leading core kernel developers to discuss the state of the existing kernel and plan the next development cycle. This is an invite-only event.

      Linux Kernel Summit technical tracks are offered at Linux Plumbers Conference 2019 and are open to all LPC attendees. More information, including how to register, will be available in the coming months.

    • Announcing the first round of Red Hat Summit keynotes
      For the past 14 years, Red Hat Summit has delivered inspirational, educational and actionable content, industry-shaping news, and innovative practices from customers and partners from around the world and across industries. As we prepare for Red Hat Summit 2019, we wanted to share some of the exciting keynotes you can expect from our main stage.

      Attendees will hear keynotes on the future of enterprise technology from several Red Hat leaders including: Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO; Paul Cormier, president of Products and Technologies; DeLisa Alexander, executive vice president and chief people officer; Chris Wright, vice president and chief technology officer; and Stefanie Chiras, vice president and general manager, Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

  • Web Browsers

    • Best web browser: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera go head-to-head

      Let’s take a look at the four major browsers (including Edge) to see how they stack up in early 2019. You might be surprised to find that our favorite overall this year is Opera. Read on to find out why.

    • Mozilla

      • Making the Building of Firefox Faster for You with Clever-Commit from Ubisoft
        Firefox fights for people online: for control and choice, for privacy, for safety. We do this because it is our mission to keep the web open and accessible to all. No other tech company has people’s back like we do.

        Part of keeping you covered is ensuring that our Firefox browser and the other tools and services we offer are running at top performance. When we make an update, or add a new feature the experience should be as seamless and smooth as possible for the user. That’s why Mozilla just partnered with Ubisoft to start using Clever-Commit, an Artificial Intelligence coding assistant developed by Ubisoft La Forge that will make the Firefox code-writing process faster and more efficient. Thanks to Clever-Commit, Firefox users will get to use even more stable versions of Firefox and have even better browsing experiences.

      • Jingle Smash: Choosing a Physics Engine
        The key to a physics based game like Jingle Smash is of course the physics engine. In the Javascript world there are many to choose from. My requirements were for fully 3D collision simulation, working with ThreeJS, and being fairly easy to use. This narrowed it down to CannonJS, AmmoJS, and Oimo.js: I chose to use the CannonJS engine because AmmoJS was a compiled port of a C lib and I worried would be harder to debug, and Oimo appeared to be abandoned (though there was a recent commit so maybe not?).

      • Retailers: All We Want for Valentine’s Day is Basic Security
        This has been the case with smart dolls, webcams, doorbells, and countless other devices. And the consequences can be life threatening: “Internet-connected locks, speakers, thermostats, lights and cameras that have been marketed as the newest conveniences are now also being used as a means for harassment, monitoring, revenge and control,” the New York Times reported last year. Compounding this: It is estimated that by 2020, 10 billion IoT products will be active.

        Last year, in an effort to make connected devices on the market safer for consumers, Mozilla, the Internet Society, and Consumers International published our Minimum Security Guidelines: the five basic features we believe all connected devices should have. They include encrypted communications; automatic updates; strong password requirements; vulnerability management; and an accessible privacy policy.

      • Anyone can create a virtual reality experience with this new WebVR starter kit from Mozilla and Glitch
        Here at Mozilla, we are big fans of Glitch. In early 2017 we made the decision to host our A-Frame content on their platform. The decision was easy. Glitch makes it easy to explore, and remix live code examples for WebVR.

        We also love the people behind Glitch. They have created a culture and a community that is kind, encouraging, and champions creativity. We share their vision for a web that is creative, personal, and human. The ability to deliver immersive experiences through the browser opens a whole new avenue for creativity. It allows us to move beyond screens, and keyboards. It is exciting, and new, and sometimes a bit weird (but in a good way).

        Building a virtual reality experience may seem daunting, but it really isn’t. WebVR and frameworks like A-Frame make it really easy to get started. This is why we worked with Glitch to create a WebVR starter kit. It is a free, 5-part video course with interactive code examples that will teach you the fundamentals of WebVR using A-Frame. Our hope is that this starter kit will encourage anyone who has been on the fence about creating virtual reality experiences to dive in and get started.

  • LibreOffice

    • Tabbed Toolbar waste vertical space
      With default settings the standard toolbar need 110 px vertical space (menubar + 2 toolbar height), tabbed toolbar need 100 px and Groupedbar compact 72 px. So the default toolbare need most vertical space.

  • CMS

    • Drupal 6 - Security Support Continued
      Believe it or not, I just upgraded my old Drupal 6 instances serving e.g. my blog [1] to Drupal 6 LTS v6.49.

      Thanks a lot to Elliot Christenson for continuing Drupal 6 security support.

  • Funding

    • Paying money for things

      Sometimes it’s hard to make money from software. How do you make money from something that can be copied infinitely?

      Right now there are 3 software tools that I pay for. Each one is supplied by a small company, and each one charges a monthly or annual fee. I prefer software with this business model because it creates an incentive for careful, ongoing maintenance and improvement. The alternative (pay a large fee, once) encourages a model that is more like “add many new features, sell the new version and then move onto something else”.

    • Here's why investors are throwing money at startups that give away their software for free

      OSS Capital founder Joseph Jacks, whose venture capital firm focuses on open source startups, reckons that there was roughly $70 billion in mergers and acquisitions, private equity and IPOs involving open source last year. And he estimates that there's been another $2 billion in funding for commercial open source startups in the past year, as startups like Confluent, Neo4j, HashiCorp and GitLab raised money.

  • BSD


    • FSFE Newsletter - February 2019

      This month's Newsletter is introducing our new expert policy brochure "Public Money? Public Code" and reflecting the importance of source code availability for trust and securitys...

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • EU's New 'Open By Default' Rules For Data Generated By Public Funding Subverted At The Last Minute
        In December last year, the European Parliament proposed a version of the text that would require researchers in receipt of public funding to publish their data for anyone to re-use. However, some companies and academics were unhappy with this "open by default" approach. They issued a statement calling for research data to be "as open as possible, as closed as necessary", which would include some carve-outs.

        According to Science|Business, that view has prevailed in the final text, which is not yet publicly available. It is now apparently permissible for companies and academics to invoke "confidentiality" and "legitimate commercial interests" as reasons for not releasing publicly-funded data. Clearly, that's a huge loophole that could easily be abused by organizations to hoard results. If companies and academic institutions aren't willing to share the fruits of their research as open data, there's a very simple solution: don't take public money. Sadly, that fair and simple approach seems not to be a part of the otherwise welcome revised PSI Directive.

  • Programming/Development

    • Next C++ workshop: Recursion (14 February at 19:00 UTC)
      Improve your C++ skills with the help of LibreOffice developers! We’re running regular workshops which focus on a specific topic, and are accompanied by a real-time IRC meeting. For the next one, the topics is recursion. Start by watching this presentation:

    • IBM Is Looking At Adding AIX Support To LLVM / Clang
      While IBM has their own in-house XL C/C++ compiler for their AIX operating system and GCC is also supported there too, IBM engineers are looking at adding AIX support to LLVM/Clang.

      As a move that's "about time", IBM engineers are looking at adding support for LLVM and the Clang C/C++ compiler to their AIX operating system. Besides having another C/C++ compiler option, having LLVM working on AIX will open more code to running on AIX given the growing number of open and closed-source systems leveraging the LLVM compiler stack.

    • Django bugfix release: 2.0.13

    • Python, For The love of It - part 2

    • small stuff about python3 print()

    • Introducing Cloud Playground: Even More Hands-On Training Features

    • Algorithms != Programs and Programs are not “One size fits all”

    • Return the list of the number and its power with python

    • PyPy 7 speeds up Python 2.7, Python 3.5, and Python 3.6 alik
      PyPy, the Python runtime that uses just-in-time compilation to achieve major performance improvements over the stock CPython distribution, is now available in version 7.0 releases supporting Python 2.7, Python 3.5, and Python 3.6. According to a post on the official PyPy Status Blog, all three versions use “much the same codebase, thus the triple release.” The Python 3.6 interpreter is “the first official release of PyPy to support Python 3.6 features, although it is still considered alpha quality.” Most of the improvements to PyPy over the last release involve memory management and interfacing with external C code built for Python. CPython provides programmatic hooks into its garbage collection subsystem. PyPy 7 goes a step further, running the garbage collector in incremental steps to prevent the garbage collection process from bringing programs to a halt for too long.

    • PyCon: Hatchery programs at PyCon 2019!
      The PyCon Hatchery program was introduced last year to allow for the addition to PyCon of new tracks, summits, demos, or any other imaginable events which share and fulfill the mission of the Python Software Foundation.

      The Hatchery program was first run as a trial in 2018, welcoming the PyCon Charlas as it’s inaugural program. This year we are happy to have built upon that trial and are delighted to have received so many proposals and to have accepted many more events!

    • The day you start to use rc builds in production - Kafka 2.1.1 edition
      tl;dr If you want to run Kafka 2.x use 2.1.1rc1 or later.

      So someone started to update from Kafka 1.1.1 to 2.1.0 yesterday and it kept crashing every other hour. It pretty much looks like, so we're now trying out 2.1.1rc1 because we missed the rc2 at So ideally you go with rc2 which has a few more fixes for unrelated issues.

    • Mike Driscoll: Creating a Calculator with wxPython
      A lot of beginner tutorials start with “Hello World” examples. There are plenty of websites that use a calculator application as a kind of “Hello World” for GUI beginners. Calculators are a good way to learn because they have a set of widgets that you need to lay out in an orderly fashion. They also require a certain amount of logic to make them work correctly.

    • Downloading Files using Python (Simple Examples)
      Also, you will learn how to overcome many challenges that you may counter such as downloading files that redirects, downloading large files, multithreaded download, and other tactics.

    • Hypha Spike: Persistence 1
      2019/02/12: This is a Work In Progress (WIP). I will be live-updating this post as I work on the spike. If you want to get streaming updates without having to refresh your browser, open the DAT version in Beaker Browser and toggle the live reloading feature. Please feel free to talk to me about this on the fediverse as I work on it, perhaps via Mastodon.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Anti-vaxxers plan to subvert changes to vaccination laws

      Eliminating non-medical vaccine exemptions isn't enough; CA medical exemptions tripled.

    • Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet
      "This study shows that organic works," said study co-author Kendra Klein, PhD, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. "We all have the right to food that is free of toxic pesticides. Farmers and farmworkers growing our nation's food and the rural communities they live in have a right not to be exposed to chemicals linked to cancer, autism and infertility. And the way we grow food should protect, not harm, our environment. We urgently need our elected leaders to support our farmers in making healthy organic food available for all."

      The study tested the urine of four diverse American families in Oakland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Baltimore after eating their typical diet of conventional food for six days and then after a controlled diet of all organic food for six days.

    • Can Russian children get vaccinated without their parents’ permission?
      In late January, the writer Andrea Phillips pointed out that children in the United States had been posting frequently on Reddit to ask how they could receive immunizations without their parents’ permission. U.S. law on the matter varies from state to state, but it typically prohibits children under 18 from requesting health care on their own. In some cases, exceptions can be made. For example, some states allow doctors to determine whether they believe a child is mature enough to make decisions about their own treatment.

      English-language media coverage on the issue has been extensive. Much of it has focused on the case of Ethan Lindenberger, an 18-year-old American whose story was first reported by the pop science publication Undark.

  • Security

    • Apple sued because two-factor authentication is inconvenient

      Class-action lawsuit, filed by one Jay Brodsky in California takes issue with the fact that two-factor authentication (2FA) can't be disabled after two weeks of use, which "imposes an extraneous logging in procedure that requires a user to both remember password; and have access to a trusted device or trusted phone number." Yep, that's 2FA alright.

    • Apple being sued because two-factor authentication on an iPhone or Mac takes too much time

      The suit, filed by Jay Brodsky in California alleges that Apple doesn't get user consent to enable two-factor authentication. Furthermore, once enabled, two-factor authentication "imposes an extraneous logging in procedure that requires a user to both remember password; and have access to a trusted device or trusted phone number" when a device is enabled.

    • 617M Hacked Accounts Up For Sale To Make “Life Easier” For Hackers
      A hacker is selling 617 million stolen accounts online collected from 16 popular websites on Dream Market Cybersouk which can be accessed on the Tor network.

      As reported by The Register, the data can be purchased for less than $20,000 Bitcoin and comprises of account holder names, passwords, and email IDs. Buyers need to crack the hashed, one-way encrypted passwords before using them.

    • 620 million accounts stolen from 16 hacked websites now for sale on dark web, seller boasts
      Some 617 million online account details stolen from 16 hacked websites are on sale from today on the dark web, according to the data trove's seller.

      For less than $20,000 in Bitcoin, it is claimed, the following pilfered account databases can be purchased from the Dream Market cyber-souk, located in the Tor network:

      Dubsmash (162 million), MyFitnessPal (151 million), MyHeritage (92 million), ShareThis (41 million), HauteLook (28 million), Animoto (25 million), EyeEm (22 million), 8fit (20 million), Whitepages (18 million), Fotolog (16 million), 500px (15 million), Armor Games (11 million), BookMate (8 million), CoffeeMeetsBagel (6 million), Artsy (1 million), and DataCamp (700,000).

      Sample account records from the multi-gigabyte databases seen by The Register appear to be legit: they consist mainly of account holder names, email addresses, and passwords. These passwords are hashed, or one-way encrypted, and must therefore be cracked before they can be used.

    • Researchers Warn of Malicious Container Escape Vulnerability
      A new serious vulnerability in container technology was publicly reported on Feb. 11, one that could potentially enable an attacker to gain unauthorized access to the host operating system.

      Container technology led by the Docker engine has become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to build and deploy applications into isolated segments, on top of a server operating system. At the core of the modern container technology stack is a low-level component known as runc, which spawns and runs containers. The new CVE-2019-5736 vulnerability is a flaw in runc that could enable a malicious container to escape the confines of its isolated process segment.

    • PyPy v7.0.0, Vulernability Affecting runc and Container Technologies, Ubuntu for ARM-based Windows Laptops, antiX MX v18.1
      A vulnerability was just discovered (CVE-2019-5736) affecting runc and the management of container technologies which include Docker, cri-o, containerd, Kubernetes, etc. Learn more about this security hole and the ways it is being patched here.

    • Container Bug Allows Attackers to Gain Root Access on Host Machine
    • Apple acknowledges UCR grad student for locating flaws in OS security, receives international recognition

    • How to Protect Sensitive Financial Data from Ransomware with Next-Gen Cloud Infrastructure

    • Container Escape Flaw Hits AWS, Google Cloud, Linux Distros
      A vulnerability recently addressed in runc could allow malicious containers to gain root-level code execution on the host.

      Introduced in 2015, runc is a lightweight, portable container runtime that includes all of the code used by Docker to interact with system features related to containers. The runtime is used in most containers out there, including cri-o, containerd, Kubernetes, Podman, and others.

    • CVE-2019-5736: runc container breakout

      I am one of the maintainers of runc (the underlying container runtime underneath Docker, cri-o, containerd, Kubernetes, and so on). We recently had a vulnerability reported which we have verified and have a patch for.

      The researchers who found this vulnerability are: * Adam Iwaniuk * Borys Popławski

      In addition, Aleksa Sarai (me) discovered that LXC was also vulnerable to a more convoluted version of this flaw.

      == OVERVIEW ==

      The vulnerability allows a malicious container to (with minimal user interaction) overwrite the host runc binary and thus gain root-level code execution on the host. The level of user interaction is being able to run any command (it doesn't matter if the command is not attacker-controlled) as root within a container in either of these contexts:

      * Creating a new container using an attacker-controlled image. * Attaching (docker exec) into an existing container which the attacker had previous write access to.

      This vulnerability is *not* blocked by the default AppArmor policy, nor by the default SELinux policy on Fedora[++] (because container processes appear to be running as container_runtime_t). However, it *is* blocked through correct use of user namespaces (where the host root is not mapped into the container's user namespace).

      Our CVSSv3 vector is (with a score of 7.2):


      The assigned CVE for this issue is CVE-2019-5736.

      [++]: This is only the case for the "moby-engine" package on Fedora. The "docker" package as well as podman are protected against this exploit because they run container processes as container_t.

      == PATCHES ==

      I have attached the relevant patch which fixes this issue. This patch is based on HEAD, but the code in libcontainer/nsenter/ changes so infrequently that it should apply cleanly to any old version of the runc codebase you are dealing with.

      Please note that the patch I have pushed to runc master[1] is a modified version of this patch -- even though it is functionally identical (though we would recommend using the upstream one if you haven't patched using the attached one already).


      Several vendors have asked for exploit code to ensure that the patches actually solve the issue. Due to the severity of the issue (especially for public cloud vendors), we decided to provide the attached exploit code. This exploit code was written by me, and is more generic than the original exploit code provided by the researchers and works against LXC (it could likely be used on other vulnerable runtimes with no significant modification). Details on how to use the exploit code are provided in the README.

      As per OpenWall rules, this exploit code will be published *publicly* 7 days after the CRD (which is 2019-02-18). *If you have a container runtime, please verify that you are not vulnerable to this issue beforehand.*


      It should be noted that upon further investigation I've discovered that LXC has a similar vulnerability, and they have also pushed a similar patch[2] which we co-developed. LXC is a bit harder to exploit, but the same fundamental flaw exists.

      After some discussion with the systemd-nspawn folks, it appears that they aren't vulnerable (because their method of attaching to a container uses a different method to LXC and runc).

      I have been contacted by folks from Apache Mesos who said they were also vulnerable (I believe just using the exploit code that will be provided). It is quite likely that most container runtimes are vulnerable to this flaw, unless they took very strange mitigations before-hand.

      == OTHER NEWS ==

      We have set up an announcement list for future security vulnerabilities, and you can see the process for joining here[3] (it's based on the Kubernetes security-announce mailing list). Please join if you distribute any container runtimes that depend on runc (or other OCI projects).

      [1]: [2]: [3]:

      -- Aleksa Sarai
    • Linux container bug could eat your server from the inside – patch now!
      If you’re a fan of retro gaming, you’ve probably used an emulator, which is a software program that runs on computer hardware of one sort, and pretends to be a computer system of its own, possibly of a completely different sort.

      That’s how your latest-model Mac, which has an Intel x64 CPU, can run original, unaltered software that was written for a computer such as the Apple ][ or the Nintendo GameBoy.

      One advantage of emulators is that even though the running program thinks it’s running exactly as it would in real life, it isn’t – everything it does is controlled, instrumented, regimented and mitigated by the emulator software.

    • Latest Linux Crypto-Mining Malware Terminates Other Malicious Miners on Installation [Ed: The issue here isn't "Linux" but machines already compromised by something else]

    • Security updates for Tuesday

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Facts Don’t Interfere With Propaganda Blitz Against Venezuela’s Elected President
      The Miami Herald (2/8/19) reported, “Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro continues to reject international aid—going so far as to blockade a road that might have been used for its delivery.“

      The “Venezuelan leader” reporter Jim Wyss referred to is Venezuela’s elected president. In contrast, Wyss referred to Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s “interim president.”

      Guaidó, anointed by Trump and a new Iraq-style Coalition of the Willing, did not even run in Venezuela’s May 2018 presidential election. In fact, shortly before the election, Guaidó was not even mentioned by the opposition-aligned pollster Datanálisis when it published approval ratings of various prominent opposition leaders. Henri Falcón, who actually did run in the election (defying US threats against him) was claimed by the pollster to basically be in a statistical tie for most popular among them. It is remarkable to see the Western media dismiss this election as “fraudulent,” without even attempting to show that it was “stolen“ from Falcón. Perhaps that’s because it so clearly wasn’t stolen.

    • Why Does the United States of America Want to Overthrow the Government of Venezuela?
      Since 1998, the United States of America has tried to overthrow the government of Venezuela. What threatened the government of the United States since then was the Bolivarian dynamic set in motion by the election of Hugo Chávez as president of Venezuela that year. Chávez won the elections with a mandate from Venezuela’s workers and poor to overhaul the country to tend to their long-neglected needs.

      Venezuela, with the world’s largest proven oil reserves, had enriched the U.S.-based oil companies and its own oligarchy. Venezuela’s key oil minister in the early 1960s (and architect of OPEC—the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso rightly called oil the “devil’s excrement.” It promised so much and delivered so little. Chávez arrived as the embodiment of popular hope. He threatened the oil companies and the oligarchy, which is why the United States tried to overthrow him.

      The first attempt at a coup came in 2002, when the United States egged on the military and the oligarchy to overthrow Chávez. They failed. He was supremely popular, the Chavista base eager for change that would improve their lives. They had no faith in the United States or the oligarchy, both of whom had suffocated them for the past century.

      Never has the Monroe Doctrine—which the United States invoked to control the American hemisphere—done much good for the millions of people from the southern tip of Argentina to the northern reaches of Canada. It has helped along the big corporations and the oligarchs, but not the ordinary people—the base of the Chavistas.

    • The Most Dangerous Weapon Ever Rolls Off the Nuclear Assembly Line
      Last month, the National Nuclear Security Administration (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission) announced that the first of a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons had rolled off the assembly line at its Pantex nuclear weapons plant in the panhandle of Texas. That warhead, the W76-2, is designed to be fitted to a submarine-launched Trident missile, a weapon with a range of more than 7,500 miles. By September, an undisclosed number of warheads will be delivered to the Navy for deployment.

      What makes this particular nuke new is the fact that it carries a far smaller destructive payload than the thermonuclear monsters the Trident has been hosting for decades -- not the equivalent of about 100 kilotons of TNT as previously, but of five kilotons. According to Stephen Young of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the W76-2 will yield “only” about one-third of the devastating power of the weapon that the Enola Gay, an American B-29 bomber, dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Yet that very shrinkage of the power to devastate is precisely what makes this nuclear weapon potentially the most dangerous ever manufactured. Fulfilling the Trump administration’s quest for nuclear-war-fighting “flexibility,” it isn’t designed as a deterrent against another country launching its nukes; it’s designed to be used. This is the weapon that could make the previously “unthinkable” thinkable.

      There have long been “low-yield” nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nuclear powers, including ones on cruise missiles, “air-drop bombs” (carried by planes), and even nuclear artillery shells -- weapons designated as “tactical” and intended to be used in the confines of a specific battlefield or in a regional theater of war. The vast majority of them were, however, eliminated in the nuclear arms reductions that followed the end of the Cold War, a scaling-down by both the United States and Russia that would be quietly greeted with relief by battlefield commanders, those actually responsible for the potential use of such ordnance who understood its self-destructive absurdity.

      Ranking some weapons as “low-yield” based on their destructive energy always depended on a distinction that reality made meaningless (once damage from radioactivity and atmospheric fallout was taken into account along with the unlikelihood that only one such weapon would be used). In fact, the elimination of tactical nukes represented a hard-boiled confrontation with the iron law of escalation, another commander’s insight -- that any use of such a weapon against a similarly armed adversary would likely ignite an inevitable chain of nuclear escalation whose end point was barely imaginable. One side was never going to take a hit without responding in kind, launching a process that could rapidly spiral toward an apocalyptic exchange. “Limited nuclear war,” in other words, was a fool’s fantasy and gradually came to be universally acknowledged as such. No longer, unfortunately.

    • Not-So-Veiled Threat of War as John Bolton Says Iran May Not Have 'Many More Anniversaries to Enjoy'
      In video posted to the White House's official Twitter page on Monday, Bolton echoed false assertions and repeatedly debunked claims by the Trump that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons and described the Iranian government as the "central banker of international terrorism."

      Responding to Bolton's video, Sen. Chris Murphy warned in a tweet on Tuesday that Trump's hawkish national security adviser is knowingly lying to build momentum for a U.S. military attack on Iran.

      "Here Bolton says Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. This simply isn't true. The intelligence says the opposite and he knows it," Murphy wrote. "He is laying the groundwork for war and we all must be vigilant."

    • Senate Committee Grills Navy Official Over 2017 Collisions, Seeking Data to Prove Conditions Have Changed
      A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday called on Navy officials to provide hard data showing they have improved conditions on their ships in the months since two destroyers were involved in back-to-back collisions that left 17 sailors dead.

      The senator, Angus King of Maine, made the demand of Adm. Philip Davidson, the top military commander in the Pacific, days after ProPublica published an investigation into the deadly mishaps in 2017, the Navy’s worst accidents at sea in four decades. The investigation showed that the Navy’s most senior leaders, uniformed and civilian, had failed to act on repeated warnings that the 7th Fleet, based in the Pacific and renowned as the largest armada in the world, was at risk — its sailors poorly trained and overworked, its ships in physical decline.

      The Navy since the accidents has pledged a host of reforms, from improved staffing to better training.

      “I want real numbers. I don’t want general ‘We’re working on staffing’ or ‘We’re working on more training,’ because these were avoidable tragedies,” King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. “I would like to see specific responses from the Navy. Not promises and not good feelings.”

      Davidson was in charge of ensuring that the Navy’s fleets were properly manned at the time of the collisions, and he personally drafted a reform plan. He praised the Navy’s track record by pointing out that most ships were not colliding.

      “The fact of the matter is 280-odd other ships weren’t having collisions,” Davidson said. “More than a dozen of those ships were performing exceptionally well.”

      King interrupted Davidson.

    • Juan Guaidó: The Man Who Would Be President of Venezuela Doesn’t Have a Constitutional Leg to Stand On
      Donald Trump imagines Juan Guaidó is the rightful president of Venezuela. Mr. Guaidó, a man of impeccable illegitimacy, was exposed by Cohen and Blumenthal as “a product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers.” Argentinian sociologist Marco Teruggi described Guaidó in the same article as “a character that has been created for this circumstance” of regime change. Here, his constitutional credentials to be interim president of Venezuela are deconstructed.

      Educated at George Washington University in DC, Guaidó was virtually unknown in his native Venezuela before being thrust on to the world stage in a rapidly unfolding series of events. In a poll conducted a little more than a week before Guaidó appointed himself president of the country, 81% of Venezuelans had never even heard of the 35-year-old.

      To make a short story shorter, US Vice President Pence phoned Guaidó on the evening of January 22rd and presumably asked him how’d he like to be made president of Venezuela. The next day, Guaidó announced that he considered himself president of Venezuela, followed within minutes by US President Trump confirming the self-appointment.

    • Canada vs. Venezuela: The Murky Background
      Following the closed-door, Feb. 4th meeting of the Lima Group in Ottawa, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland was holding a press conference to issue “the Ottawa Declaration for Venezuela” when suddenly protestors swarmed in front of her podium, unfurled a banner and began chanting “Hands off Venezuela!” As security guards removed the protestors, Freeland deftly moved off-script to say that the Lima Group’s plans for Venezuela would uphold “the kind of democracy which political protestors in Canada do enjoy and I’m sad to say that political protestors in Venezuela do not.”

      It was a bizarre statement for a variety of reasons – including the recent RCMP arrests of 14 peaceful land and water-protectors in Indigenous territory in B.C. – but especially because Freeland’s words coincided (but conflicted) with current mainstream media claims of massive protest marches taking place in Venezuela against president Nicolas Maduro and in favour of opposition figure Juan Guaido, who emerged from obscurity to declare himself interim president on January 23.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • HUD’s System for Processing Public Records Requests Died During the Shutdown
      The partial federal shutdown ended weeks ago, but one lingering effect turns out to be citizens’ ability to get public records from a government agency.

      The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s public records management and tracking system has been offline since early January, when a contract to run it lapsed.

      Four Freedom of Information Act officers at HUD said the lack of a system has drastically slowed their ability to process requests and has presented challenges in tracking the dozens of them the agency receives each week.

      Members of the public can no longer submit requests via HUD’s website or track their status. Late last week, the agency updated its website to include new instructions for filing a FOIA request via email, fax or mail.

      “We knew the government was going to go dark during the shutdown, but we did not anticipate that the machinery would literally be removed while it was shut down,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, a nonprofit ethics watchdog that has filed numerous Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against federal agencies during the Trump administration.

    • Meme showing Julian Assange posing with UK newspaper is doctored

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Senate Backs Massive Public Lands, Conservation Bill
      The Senate on Tuesday approved a major public lands bill that revives a popular conservation program, adds 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expands several national parks and creates four new national monuments.

      The measure, the largest public lands bill considered by Congress in a decade, combines more than 100 separate bills that designate more than 350 miles of river as wild and scenic, create 2,600 miles of new federal trails and add nearly 700,000 acres of new recreation and conservation areas. The bill also withdraws 370,000 acres in Montana and Washington state from mineral development.

    • New York Like Arkansas? Bay Area Like L.A.? Warming May Make It Feel So
      The climate in New York City in 60 years could feel like Arkansas now. Chicago could seem like Kansas City and San Francisco could get a Southern California climate if global warming pollution continues at the current pace, a new study finds.

      In 2080, North Carolina’s capital, Raleigh, could feel more like Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, while the nation’s capital will have a climate more akin to just north of the Mississippi Delta, if the globe stays on its current carbon pollution trend. Miami might as well be southern Mexico and the beautiful mornings in future Des Moines, Iowa, could feel like they are straight out of Oklahoma.

      That’s according to a study Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications that tries to explain climate change better.

    • Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe
      It is hard not to notice a stirring of consciousness regarding humanity’s dire ecological predicament beginning to seep into the mainstream these days. How can it not? Year after year records are shattered. Month after month scientists continue to be shocked and demoralized by more and more evidence of rising seas, a climate careening into a chaotic and terrifying unknown, and countless species succumbing in a biosphere perpetually under siege. Even the corporate media which has been designed as a mouthpiece of capitalist interests cannot completely veil our collective crisis. Unsurprisingly, the ruling class has begun to react, not in a way that meaningfully addresses the death cult of the current socioeconomic order, but to ensure its survival albeit with a greener face. Their cynical approach to what is the biggest existential crisis of our age is using youthful optimism and justified outrage and terror to cloud their machinations.

      One such prominent youth these days is Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish girl who delivered a rousing speech at the UN Climate Change Conference and before the world’s wealthiest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Indeed, her speech was inspiring and I do not doubt her passion or honest devotion to climate activism for a minute, but to ignore the powerful machine looking to co-opt her message would be a grave mistake. For instance, Thunberg has been given interviews in the corporate press, has been endorsed by a tech start-up company (We Don’t Have Time), and has been lauded by industry for promoting “sustainable development.”

      Now certainly Thunberg is not the one manipulating any of these actors, and she should not face any kind of criticism for her part in addressing the greatest existential issue of our times. But it should be clear that most people who get interviews in the corporate media are generally not deemed to be a serious challenger to the status quo political/economic order. Corporate approved dissent is a form of censorship that gives the illusion of a lively debate, but essentially establishes a firm line in the sand when if comes to radically questioning or opposing the capitalist framework itself. And if finance companies are behind something we can be pretty sure that they are primarily in it for the money. In addition to this, the term sustainable development is a meaningless on a planet that is literally on the edge of a cliff, but under the dominant economic dictatorship of money the co-opted mainstream environmental movement has pumped out these tropes making them a form of collective social conditioning.

      And this ties into the notion of personal responsibility. Solutions to our environmental crisis have been reduced to “life style changes” which have also become the en vogue activism of the day. It is a line of thinking that is accepted and even endorsed by corporations, banks and neoliberal governments because it poses no real challenge to their power or their ongoing destructive practices. To the mainstream, tweaking one’s lifestyle is all that is needed. Buy an electric vehicle or use a bicycle. Don’t take a plane on your vacation. Buy reusable bags. Choose organic only. Go vegan. Buy reusable straws. While there is nothing wrong with doing these things in general, they must be understood as individual choices that are based on privilege and that have little impact in addressing urgent crisis our biosphere is facing right now.

    • World is halfway through its hottest decade
      Here is a climate forecast that climate scientists, meteorologists, politicians, voters and even climate sceptics can check: the next five years will be warm, and will probably help to complete the hottest decade ever.

      They will on a global average be at least 1°C higher than the average temperature of the planet 200 years ago, before the accelerating combustion of fossil fuels.

      That is because the planet is already midway through what may well prove to be its warmest 10 years since records began on a planetary scale in 1850. There is even a possibility that within the next five years, the global temperature rise could tip 1.5°C above the long-term average for human history.


      Climate is what people can reasonably bank on; weather is what they get. The forecast is significant because it is evidence of swelling confidence in the understanding of global warming and climate change science.

      Climate researchers began warning at least 40 years ago of the potentially calamitous consequences of climate change: they were, at the time, unwilling to link any single weather event – flood, drought, windstorm or heat wave – to long-term global warming as a consequence of the steady increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, released from power stations, factory chimneys and vehicle exhausts.

    • Green Party responds to IPPR report on climate change
      The Green Party of England and Wales have today responded to the report – This is a Crisis: Facing up to the Age of Environmental Breakdown - released by the Institute for Public Policy Research.

    • Ambitious Danish island ends fossil fuel use
      Tackling climate change is urgent. It’s too urgent to be feasible, say some critics. But as one Danish island ends fossil fuel use, its story shows it may be time to think again.

      In five years, by 2023, the UK Met Office says, global warming could temporarily rise by more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the target agreed by 195 governments in 2015. So the world needs to switch fast from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

      The island of Samsø, off Denmark’s east coast, has wasted no time. Between 1998 and 2007 it abandoned its total dependence on imported fossil fuels and now relies entirely on renewables, mainly wind and biomass. It’s been singled out as the world’s first 100% renewable island by the Rapid Transition Alliance (RTA), which says Samsø can teach the world some vital lessons about changing fast and radically.

    • Meduza explains the controversy surrounding a pipeline that could cut Ukraine out of Europe's gas business
      On February 12, European Union officials will discuss the status of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is currently being built from the Russian town of Ust-Luga to the German city of Greifswald along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The United States and many European countries oppose the project, but it seems Russia and her main ally in this undertaking — Germany — are nearly at the finish line, following a compromise reached late last week in the EU. Meduza takes a closer look at Nord Stream 2 and why it’s fueled so much international tension.

    • Guest Post -- Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels: Capture Methods & Patent Trends [Ed: Some patent monopolies that merely exacerbate global warming]
      While there are multiple methods for incorporating CO2 capture into the fossil-fuel based power generation processes currently utilized, the approach that is most amenable to existing infrastructure is a post-combustion approach where the flue gas exiting a coal or natural-gas fired power plant, consisting primarily of CO2 and water vapor, is subjected to a CO2 capture process. Currently, this is most frequently performed using aqueous solutions of chemical compounds with amine functionalities, such as monoethanolamine, in a CO2 capture unit, also known as a CO2 scrubber. During the operation of a CO2 scrubber, post-combustion flue gas is sent through an adsorption column that contains the lean amine solution, where lean indicates low CO2 content. The lean amine undergoes a reversible chemical reaction with CO2, resulting in the formation of rich amines, which are composed primarily of carbamate or bicarbonate.3 Rich amines are then transferred to a desorber system that converts rich amines back to lean amines via competitive water adsorption using steam. This process releases CO2, which can be collected for later conversion steps.

    • The End of Ice: Dahr Jamail on Climate Disruption from the Melting Himalayas to Insect Extinction
      A new report finds at least a third of the Himalayan ice cap will melt by the end of the century due to climate change, even if the world’s most ambitious environmental reforms are implemented. The report, released by the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment earlier this month, is the culmination of half a decade’s work by over 200 scientists, with an additional 125 experts peer reviewing their work. It warns rising temperatures in the Himalayas could lead to mass population displacement, as well as catastrophic food and water insecurity. The glaciers are a vital water source for the 250 million people who live in the Hindu Kush Himalaya range, which spans from Afghanistan to Burma. More than 1.5 billion people depend on the rivers that flow from the Himalayan peaks. We speak with Dahr Jamail, independent journalist and author of the new book “The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption.”

    • 'We Have Entered the Age of Environmental Breakdown': Report Details World on Edge of Runaway Collapse
      The two-part transformational response envisioned by the authors would mean a socioeconomic overhaul "to bring human activity to within environmentally sustainable limits while tackling inequalities and providing a high quality life to all" as well as major steps to boost resilience to the impacts of environmental breakdown, including improvements to "infrastructure, markets, political processes, social cohesion, and global cooperation."

      However, as lead author Laurie Laybourn-Langton emphasized to the Guardian, even considering a response that matches the scope of the crisis requires first raising public awareness: "People are not frank enough about this. If it is discussed at all, it is the sort of thing mentioned at the end of a conversation, that makes everyone look at the floor, but we don't have time for that now... It's appearing more in media, but we are not doing enough."

    • Because Society 'Leaps Forward' When People Take Action, UK Headteachers Union Backs Student #ClimateStrike
      As students across the United Kingdom prepare to join the global "climate strike" movement later this week by walking out of class, the nation's union of headteachers—representing principals, headmasters, and other school leaders—has endorsed the coordinated actions as a demonstration to be "applauded."

      The National Association of Head Teachers in a statement offered their support to students in at least 30 towns and cities nationwide who have vowed to strike.

      "Society makes leaps forward when people are prepared to take action," a spokesperson for the union said. "When you get older pupils making an informed decision, that kind of thing needs to be applauded. Schools encourage students to develop a wider understanding of the world around them, a day of activity like this could be an important and valuable life experience."

    • Fatal Rail Accident 'Eerily Similar' to Lac-Mégantic Oil Train Disaster
      The only way to have a rail accident that is “eerily similar” to the Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster that killed 47 people and wiped out the small Quebec downtown is if a massive regulatory failure did not address the causes of that 2013 tragedy.

      Which is exactly what has happened. And is why a fatal train accident on February 4 in Field, British Columbia, was dubbed “eerily similar” to the one in Lac-Mégantic by Garland Chow, a professor and transportation expert at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

    • Youth Movements Changing Tactics in the Face of Climate Crisis
      Back in 2015, a group of youth warriors bravely filed a lawsuit against the federal government for failing to protect their right to life and liberty by willfully ignoring the dangers of climate change. Last month, the 21 plaintiffs of Juliana v. United States gathered under the same roof for the first time in quite a while at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. The group convened with leaders of the most powerful movements of our time to share their experiences and discuss what need to be done to address our climate crisis.

      The youth plaintiffs were joined at the “Changing Tactics in the Face of Climate Emergency” by leaders of the most vivid movements of our time, lifting up organizing systems that are multiracial, where women hold primary positions of power and political leadership. Vic Barrett, one of the youth plaintiffs, was on the panel with Julia Olson, the executive director of Our Children’s Trust and the legal representation in the lawsuit, communications manager Thanu Yakupitiyage, and Sara Blazevic, the co-founder and managing director of the Sunrise Movement.

      Sunrise is building the power of youth to urge the country to take climate change seriously while reclaiming democracy. Addressing the crisis, Sunrise says, means ending the influence of fossil fuel profiteers on American politics and creating good jobs to update national infrastructure. The group skyrocketed to national headlines after occupying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to demand Congress pass a Green New Deal. Blazevic told the crowd that Sunrise organizers had dedicated months of time to winning back the House of Representatives for Democrats. “We thought they owed us more than lip service on the biggest issue facing our generation,” she said.

      “We need to transform our entire economy to prevent [the climate crisis] and we also have an incredible opportunity to create millions of good jobs and actually increase equity and justice in this country in the process,” Blazevic said. “Sunrise is protesting to bring the crisis to the forefront of the minds of every American and bring the urgency of those fires, floods and droughts we hear the plaintiffs talk about from our television screens to our politicians’ scripts.”

  • Finance

    • Governments in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh & Nepal look up to India’s digital transformation

      A recent industry report stated that almost half of the Fortune 500 companies that existed in the year 2000 have now shut down. There is a huge transformation of business happening at every level; not just related to IT. [...]

    • Sweden's Cashless Experiment: Is It Too Much Too Fast?

      In 2018, only 13 percent of Swedes reported using cash for a recent purchase, according to a nationwide survey, down from around 40 percent in 2010. In the capital, Stockholm, most people can't even remember the last time they had coins jingling in their pockets.


      Another concern is that the majority of local bank branches have stopped letting people take out cash or even bring cash into the bank. Even Sweden's central bank — the Riksbank — which largely supports the transformation of the country's payment system, has also argued that going completely cashless can be risky.

    • Universal income study finds money for nothing won’t make us work less

      The experiment ended on 31 December 2018 and preliminary results were published this morning. It compared the income, employment status and general wellbeing of those who received the UBI with a control group of 5000 who carried on receiving benefits.

    • Denver Teachers Strike over Bonus-Based Pay System, Demanding Reliable Salary Plan & Better Wages
      Public school teachers in Denver, Colorado, are striking for the second day, after negotiations between the teachers’ union and the school district failed to reach a contract over the weekend. The Denver Classroom Teachers Association is demanding an increase in teachers’ base salaries rather than putting money in incentives and bonuses. The Denver teachers walked out Monday following 15 months of negotiations over a controversial bonus-based pay system that educators say leaves them unable to predict their salaries and guarantee financial security. The starting salary for a Denver teacher for the 2019-2020 school year is $43,255, according to The Denver Post. This is the district’s first teacher strike in 25 years. We speak with Henry Román, a Denver elementary school teacher and president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association.

    • SEC’s Action Against Decentralized Exchange Raises Constitutional Questions
      A recent public statement from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission implied that those engaged in writing and publishing code might need to worry about running afoul of securities laws. In its statement about the cease and desist order against the co-founder of decentralized cryptocurrency exchange EtherDelta, the SEC indicated that someone who simply “provides an algorithm” might be found to be running a securities exchange. In the order itself, the SEC stated that EtherDelta’s creator had violated securities laws because he “wrote and deployed” code that he “should have known” would contribute to EtherDelta’s alleged violations. EFF today sent a public letter reminding the agency that writing and publishing code is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and that the courts don’t take kindly to government agencies requiring people to obtain licenses before exercising their free speech rights.

      EtherDelta was founded by Zachary Coburn. The SEC charged Coburn with running an unregistered national securities exchange, and he settled and agreed to pay over $300,000. While EFF takes no position on whether other aspects of EtherDelta violated the law or SEC regulations, EFF urged the SEC to clarify its dangerously broad language regarding potential liability for merely writing and publishing code.
    • A tax on wealth is long overdue
      What if the final blow for French President Emmanuel Macron came not from the yellow vests but from US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts? Warren, who announced her candidacy for president on Saturday, has proposed what will doubtless be one of the key points of her campaign — the creation of a genuine federal progressive wealth tax.

      Carefully calculated by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, the Warren proposal sets a rate of 2 percent on fortunes valued between $50 million and $1 billion, and 3 percent above $1 billion. The proposal also provides for an exit tax equal to 40 percent of total wealth for those who relinquish their American citizenship. The tax would apply to all assets, with no exemptions, with dissuasive sanctions for people and governments that do not transmit appropriate information on assets held abroad.
    • Universal income study finds money for nothing won’t make us work less
      The most robust trial of universal basic income yet shows that it boosts well-being and doesn't decrease employment, as some had feared
    • America’s Widening Inequality of PlaceYou’ve heard me talk...
      You’ve heard me talk about inequalities of income and wealth and political power. But another kind of inequality needs to be addressed as well: widening inequalities of place.

      On the one hand, booming mega-cities. On the other hand, an American heartland that’s becoming emptier, older, whiter, less educated, and poorer. Trump country.

      To understand what’s happening you first need to see technology not as a thing but as a process of group learning – of talented people interacting with each other continuously and directly, keying off each other’s creativity, testing new concepts, quickly discarding those that don’t work, and building cumulative knowledge.

      This learning goes way beyond the confines of any individual company. It now happens in geographic clusters – mostly along the east and west coasts in places like Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Boston and suburban Washington D.C.

      Bright young college graduates are streaming into these places, where their talents generate more value–and higher wages–together than they would separately.


      California, now inhabited by almost 40 million people, gets two senators – as does Wyoming, with just 579,000.

    • Beyond Corporate Power
      The problem is not that the corporations are “out of control,” the problem is that the corporations are so much “in control.” By seeing neoliberalism as Free Market Fundamentalism (FMF) rather than Corporate Power we underestimate the challenges ahead. FMF does not help us to know what tactics and strategies are best because it cannot tell us about the enemy we face: Corporate Power.

      If the corporations have merged with the state, then the liberal-regulatory state is finished and our faith in its ability to protect us is a poor substitute for self-knowledge and self-determination. Instead, we should realize that we are finally on our own. Mass movements making revolutionary demands and organizing projects aimed at building independent people power will have the best chance at overthrowing the corporate power.

      The tension between seeing the problem as FMF or as corporate power will only be resolved by the highest stakes gamble imaginable. Can we dismantle corporate power and stop climate change through normal electoral means or will revolutionary upheavals provide the answers we need?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • National Enquirer parent company AMI asked Justice Dept. if it should register as foreign lobbyist

      Remember that weird glossy magazine that came out last year promoting Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman? Daily Beast called it Saudi propaganda, and it was.

      AMI, the parent company of The National Enquirer, produced it.

    • National Enquirer's parent firm asked U.S. if it should register as foreign agent for Saudis

      The company that publishes the National Enquirer was concerned enough that it may have acted as an agent of Saudi Arabia that it asked the Department of Justice last year whether it needed to register as a foreign lobbyist, a person with knowledge of Saudi Arabia's lobbying efforts in the United States confirms to NBC News.


      But in its letters to the Justice Department in May and June 2018, AMI acknowledged that it had asked a Saudi adviser to submit content for the magazine, given the adviser an early draft to review and then made changes to the final version that were suggested by the Saudi adviser.

    • Tencent Buys Stake In Another U.S. Social Network -- Reddit

      Reddit also started to sell cost-per-click ads, cost-per-impression ads, promoted posts, and video ads. Its revenue surpassed $100 million in 2018, according to CNBC, fueled by a 22% jump in engagement and 30% increase in total views. However, Reddit's heavy dependence on venture capital suggests that it isn't profitable, and its workforce of roughly 350 is based in pricey San Francisco.

      Tencent will reportedly invest $150 million in Reddit, which would make it one of the social platform's top stakeholders. Publisher Condé Nast acquired a majority stake in 2006, and that stake now belongs to its parent company, Advance Publications. Reddit still operates independently from both companies.

    • Reddit valued at $3 billion after raising $300 million in latest funding round

      The series D funding round saw a $150 million investment from Tencent and the company’s former investors, including Sequoia, Fidelity, Tacit and Snoop Dogg.

    • 50,000 Heck*ng Facebook Ad Variants?!

      So, I just slid on over to the Facebook Ad Archive to see some of the ads the Harris campaign had been running recently (note this was running for only about 24 hours). And, as I’ve highlighted above, there are really about 8 pieces of the ad you can tweak to create your total number of ad variants, that you then bulk upload and let the Facebook robots sort out for you, culling the ones that don’t generate the most response (most of them), and displaying more the of the ones that do, generating happier customers for Facebook, and vast numbers of email signups and filthy lucre for the political advertiser.

    • 83% Of Consumers Believe Personalized Ads Are Morally Wrong, Survey Says

      A massive majority of consumers believe that using their data to personalize ads is unethical. And a further 76% believe that personalization to create tailored newsfeeds -- precisely what Facebook, Twitter, and other social applications do every day -- is unethical.

      At least, that's what they say on surveys.

    • Trump supporter attacks BBC cameraman at El Paso rally

      He has claimed journalists are "the enemy of the people" and slammed the "fake news" for reports he deems unfavourable.

      Mr Skeans said the man almost knocked him and his camera over twice before he was wrestled away by a blogger.

    • BBC cameraman victim of ‘violent attack’ during Donald Trump rally

      Mr O’Donoghue said Mr Trump’s 2020 election campaign, which he thinks has begun, will be as “hostile and ill-tempered and divisive as the one we saw last time”.

    • BBC cameraman suffers ‘incredibly violent attack’ during Trump rally

      Rod Skeans was filming a rally in El Paso, Texas, when he was suddenly shoved by a Trump supporter who got onto the reporters’ platform.

    • White House Correspondents Condemn Attack on BBC Cameraman at Trump Rally

      Olivier Knox, the president of the WHCA, condemned the attack and said that they were “relieved that, this time, no one was seriously hurt. The president of the United States should make absolutely clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable.”

    • BBC Journalist Violently Attacked at Texas Rally After Crowd 'Whipped Up Into a Frenzy' by Trump's Anti-Press Rhetoric
      A BBC correspondent shared on social media a video of his colleague being attacked at President Donald Trump's rally in El Paso, Texas Monday night, laying blame with the increasingly anti-press rhetoric the president spouts at his public appearances, including at this one.

      Around the time Trump told the crowd that a wall at the southern U.S. border would cut down on violent crime in the U.S., cameraman Ron Skeans was violently shoved by a Trump supporter wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat. The attacker was filmed shouting, "Fuck the media!" as he stormed the press area.

      Correspondent Gary O'Donoghue shared footage of the attack, saying it followed Trump's "goading" of the crowd against journalists and others he considers opponents.
    • Russian lawmakers just passed legislation designed to kick soldiers off social media
      Lawmakers in the State Duma have passed the second reading of legislation banning soldiers from using any electronic recording devices and from talking online about their military service. In the bill’s explanatory note, the authors say the law is necessary because soldiers’ posts on social media have allowed investigative journalists to write about the actions of Russian troops in Syria. The legislation would also reduce the information available about fighting in eastern Ukraine, hazing in armed forces, and military training exercises. Read Meduza’s report on this legislation from September 2018.
    • Bernie 2020 Campaign Has Corporate Democrats Running Scared
      Bloomberg News supplied the typical spin in a Feb. 8 article headlined “Sanders Risks Getting Crowded Out in 2020 Field of Progressives.” The piece laid out the narrative: “Sanders may find himself a victim of his own success in driving the party to the left with his 2016 run. The field of Democratic presidential hopefuls includes at least a half-dozen candidates who’ve adopted in whole or in part the platform that helped Sanders build a loyal following . . .”

      Yet Bernie is also being targeted as too marginal. The same Bloomberg article quoted Howard Dean, a long-ago liberal favorite who has become a hawkish lobbyist and corporate mouthpiece: “There will be hardcore, hard left progressives who will have nobody but Bernie, but there won’t be many.”

      So, is Bernie now too much like other Democratic presidential candidates, or is he too much of an outlier? In the mass media, both seem to be true. In the real world, neither are true.

      Last week, Business Insider reported on new polling about Bernie’s proposal “to increase the estate tax, the tax paid by heirs on assets passed down by the deceased. Sanders’ idea would lower the threshold to qualify for the tax to $3.5 million in assets, down from the current $11 million. The plan would also introduce a graduating scale of tax rates for the estates of wealthier Americans, eventually reaching a 77 percent marginal rate for assets over $1 billion.”
    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is under fire because she’s right
      The big guns are out for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the charismatic first-term legislator from New York.

      In an apparent swipe at Ocasio-Cortez, Donald Trump used part of his rambling State of the Union address to say he was “alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country.”

      Billionaire former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz cited Ocasio-Cortez’s support for a 70 percent tax rate on income above $10 million a year as one reason he may decide to run as an independent for president, and not as a Democrat.


      Dr. Martin Luther King used to teach that “cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”

      Politicians worry about donors. They hear from lobbyists, from special interests, from corporations that can spend unlimited money in political campaigns without revealing it.

    • 'Ah, Yes,' Says Ocasio-Cortez of Trump After Jab at Green New Deal, 'A Man Who Can't Even Read Briefings Written in Full Sentences'
      Responding to a comment President Donald Trump reportedly made to Breitbart News denigrating the Green New Deal resolution she introduced to Congress last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) late Monday night offered no quarter to buffoonery of the president and reminded people on Twitter the president is a person who famous for not reading things and someone who fails to prove basic comprehension of complex (and simple) subjects on a near constant basis.


      Though perhaps a low blow, Trump—despite making claims he's "like, really smart" and a "stable genius" with a "very, very large brain"—is notoriously heckled for not being that bright. As Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman wrote in 2017: "Trump has many serious flaws, including incorrigible dishonesty, rampant narcissism, contempt for women and a fashion sense that makes him think that hairstyle of his is flattering. But nothing compares to his most prominent, crippling and incurable defect: He's dimmer than a 5-watt bulb."
    • Resisting the Weaponization of Ignorance in the Age of Trump
      Ignorance now rules the U.S. Not the simple, if somewhat innocent ignorance that comes from an absence of knowledge, but a malicious ignorance forged in the arrogance of refusing to think hard about an issue. We most recently saw this exemplified in Donald Trump’s disingenuousness 2019 State of the Union address in which he lied about the amount of drugs streaming across the southern border, demonized the immigrant community with racist attacks, misrepresented the facts regarding the degree of violence at the border, and employed an antiwar rhetoric while he has repeatedly threatened war with Iran and Venezuela. Willful ignorance reached a new low when Trump — after two years of malicious tweets aimed at his critics — spoke of the need for political unity.

      Willful ignorance often hides behind the rhetoric of humiliation, lies and intimidation. Trump’s reliance upon threats to impose his will took a dangerous turn given his ignorance of the law when he used his speech to undermine the special council’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He did so with his hypocritical comment about how the only things that can stop the “economic miracle” are “foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” to which he added, “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.” According to Trump, the Democrats have a choice between reaching legislative deals and pursuing “ridiculous partisan investigations” — clearly the country could not do both.

      William Rivers Pitt is right in claiming that in one moment Trump thus tied “the ongoing Robert Mueller investigation inextricably to terrorism, war and political dysfunction.” As Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim point out, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added to this criticism by “accusing Trump of an all-out threat to lawmakers sworn to provide a check and balance on his power.”

    • The Last Time the U.S. Wanted a Wall, 70,000 People Were Sterilized
      Since his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has been advocating for the construction of a wall along the southern U.S. border. Amid continuously fanning the flames of racism and xenophobia, from the moment of his election to the present, this has been one campaign promise that keeps eluding him. In a desperate attempt to construct his wall, Trump even forced a government shutdown.

      While many might think this policy suggestion is new, historical examination reveals it has been proposed at least once before. Over 100 years ago, a group of wealthy white men advocated creating a wall around the entire United States to keep out those they called “degenerates,” “defectives” and the “unfit.” But this was only part of their advocacy.

      These individuals were part of a movement that promoted eugenics, which, over the course of the 20th century, led to the forced sterilization of more than 70,000 individuals. To understand Trump’s call for a border wall, we must understand the history of a movement that advocated for a wall before Trump was even born.
    • This Country Belongs To The People
      In need of a reprieve from the El Paso derangement - journalists attacked, babies executed, teachers as losers, fictional numbers, a Green New Deal that will ban cows and end “a little thing called air travel” - let us honor Abraham Lincoln, born on this day in 1809. So was Charles Darwin, another moral and intellectual giant, but he's happily escaped the fate of our idiotpretender comparing himself to him, probably 'cause he's never heard of him. We take enormous solace in Beto and his ilk. But we also celebrate the enduring wisdom and self-evident truths of Lincoln, whose prescience in this time and place resonates more than ever. To wit:

      "If you want to test a man's character, give him power."

      "No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar."

      "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."

      "The time comes upon every public man when it is best for him to keep his lips closed."

    • Disappointment (and a Little Hope) in First Foreign Policy Test of the New Congress
      The “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019,” which passed on a 77 to 23 vote, also increases unconditional taxpayer-funded arms transfers to Israel, strengthens military ties with the autocratic Kingdom of Jordan and endorses state government efforts to punish socially conscious businesses that choose to boycott illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

      Besides receiving near-unanimous support from Senate Republicans, a slight majority of Democrats also backed the contentious bill, introduced by Republican Senator Marco Rubio as the very first bill (S.1) placed before the Senate this session.

      Yet, in a surprising development with possible future political implications, seven out of the eight Democratic Senators running or considering running for President voted no.

      In a rebuke to arms control analysts who have long argued that the Middle East has been overly militarized, Congress is insisting there are not enough armaments in the region and the United States needs to send even more. In reauthorizing the U.S.-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act and pledging more than $33 billion in additional arms and weapons systems to Israel, the bill has sent a clear message of bipartisan support for continuing the arms race in a violent and unstable region.

    • The Moderates
      A multibillionaire met his first appointment of the day, a political candidate looking for a donation to his party before an upcoming election. “So just where do you stand on taxes”, the billionaire inquired of his guest as they were waiting for the pheasant soufflé to arrive.

      “Well, Sir, our party doesn’t believe that wealth creators should be taxed at all”.

      “Excellent”, the billionaire said as he rubbed his gnarled fingertips together in glee. “May I ask what your stance is on fossil fuels?”

      “We are wholly committed, Sir, to extracting every last drop of them. We fully intend to push pipelines wherever we damn please. Preferably up the asses of the Chinese, if you’ll pardon my French. As for the so-called endangered species and coral reefs, they can complain to the Board of Extinction . As far as we’re concerned, they can get in line behind the autoworkers, licensed taxi drivers, and brick-and-mortar retail staff.”

      After a hearty, minute-long chuckle, the billionaire composed himself and barked, “Nuclear Disarmament!”

    • Will Trump Resign Before the 2020 Election?
      As Donald Trump gave his 2019 “State of the (Dis)Union” speech, an unasked question haunted the event – will he be forced to resign before the 2020 election? Much media attention is focused on “Russia Gate” and the Mueller investigation as well as the dozen or so investigations getting underway by the new Democrat-controlled Congress. However, Trump’s real threat may come from the investigations of his – and his family’s – business practices being separately undertaken by the governments of New York, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and Maryland.

      Trump’s leading biographer, David Cay Johnston, pulls no punches in his assessment of Trump’s questionable business practices. “He comes from a family of criminals,” Johnston explains. “His grandfather made his fortune running whorehouses in Seattle and in the Yukon Territory. His father, Fred, had a business partner named Willie Tomasello, who was an associate of the Gambino crime family. Trump’s father was also investigated by the U.S. Senate for ripping off the government for what would be the equivalent of $36 million in today’s money.” Following the family line, Johnston notes, “Donald got his showmanship from his dad, as well as his comfort with organized criminals.”

      Since the 2016 presidential campaign and election, a growing number of business scandals have undercut Trump’s self-promoted image of a successful real-estate tycoon. The dubious practices of Trump University (TU) shadowed him during the primary and, shortly after he took office, the case was settled with Trump agreeing to pay a $25 million settlement to resolve outstanding suits.

    • The Kids Are Alright In Denver
      Proclaiming their school district "can't put students first when they put teachers last" and "I'd rather be teaching but this is important," Denver teachers stayed out on strike into a third day to protest some of the country's lowest wages, an arbitrary merit pay bonus system, corporate-driven privatization and other "reforms" they say fail to meet the needs of either teachers or students, especially low-income kids of color. The long-gestating strike, one of a record number last year by educators, has garnered support from Democrats like Warren, Sanders, and Harris as well as Democratic Socialists, who have set up a strike solidarity fund. Officials say about 2,630 teachers, or roughly 60%, went out on Monday; perhaps galvanized by Little Donnie Douchebag's ignorant "loser teacher" crack in El Paso, both more teachers and more supporters joined them Tuesday as talks dragged on. Meanwhile, three-quarters of the district's 92,000 students showed up at school; many left because classrooms were chaotic, unskilled subs were giving them busywork, or they wanted to join the picket lines.

      To an impressive extent, like the gun reform and climate change movements, students - notably working class kids of color - have taken the organizing lead. In the days before the strike, over 1,000 high schoolers held discussions, protests and sit-ins to support union demands; once picket lines went up, students at one school walked out en masse and at another they held a rowdy pro-strike dance party. Officials are pushing back: Tuesday, administrators were trying to ban students from school as "agents of a media source" for sharing protest photos; the kids say they're "just trying to get the word out." They've also "started to feel our power," blasting "people in charge (who are) turning a system that’s supposed to be for us (into) a way to make profits for themselves.” Junior Jhoni Palmer is supremely cogent on the subject: “I don’t understand how not paying Denver teachers is helping us students of color. What we really need is more funding and a better curriculum." In a wealthy state and a country that seems always able to afford war, she adds, "We know the money is there - but it’s just not going to those who need it."

    • “Second Shutdown” Theatrics: Heads Trump Wins, Tails America Loses
      Unless Congress and the Trump administration reach a new spending deal by February 15, the federal government will go back into “partial shutdown” status. As of February 10, congressional negotiators seem to be nearing agreement on a deal that includes about $2 billion in funding for President Trump’s “border wall” project. Trump, as before the recent shutdown, is seeking $5.7 billion.

      My prediction: There are three ways this can come out. One is highly unlikely, and both of the other two would constitute a victory for Trump and a loss for Congress in general, even more so for congressional Democrats, and most of all for the American people.

      Let’s get the unlikely outcome out of the way first: There’s probably not going to be another shutdown. Trump is going to sign whatever deal lands on his desk.

      If the deal includes the $5.7 billion he’s demanding (it won’t), he’s obviously the winner. Expect a lavish White House Rose Garden signing ceremony, even if there’s snow on the ground.

      If the deal offers a lesser amount (it will), congressional Democrats will have lost anyway, by buckling on their previous opposition to funding the wall at all. That’s a bad outcome for a new Democratic majority in the House. It signals a lack of political will to take on the Republican agenda.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Twitch Streamer Claims She Was Banned for Saying There Were Two Genders

      During a recent YouTube broadcast, which can be seen above, Helena detailed the situation, stating that the comments in question were in regards to her belief that “there are only two genders.” This did not go over very well with everyone in the community, which led to Twitch informing Helena that her partnership had been terminated. In the same email, it was noted that this was not the only cause for her account being banned, as the streamer had previously been reported twice “for hateful conduct in the last two months.”

    • Russian court orders report of illegal fishing by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to be deleted
      A court in Sochi, Russia, has ordered the investigative outlet The Insider to delete a 2018 article that exposed illegal hunting and fishing in a Caucasian nature preserve, Svobodnye Media reported. Fishing, hunting, and gathering are all prohibited in the area, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

      The Insider’s report accused Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of participating in illegal fishing on the preserve. The preserve’s director, Sergei Shevelev, sued the publication for defamation. He demanded that the article be replaced with a public denial and requested 100,000 rubles ($1,518) in damages. The court reduced that amount to 10,000 rubles ($158).
    • Stephen Cohen on War with Russia and Soviet-style Censorship in the US
      On stage at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C. this past week was Princeton University Professor Emeritus Stephen Cohen, author of the new book, War with Russia: From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate.

      Cohen has largely been banished from mainstream media.

      “I had been arguing for years — very much against the American political media grain — that a new US/Russian Cold War was unfolding — driven primarily by politics in Washington, not Moscow,” Cohen writes in War with Russia. “For this perspective, I had been largely excluded from influential print, broadcast and cable outlets where I had been previously welcomed.”

      On the stage at Busboys and Poets with Cohen was Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation magazine, and Robert Borosage, co-founder of the Campaign for America’s Future.

      During question time, Cohen was asked about the extent of the censorship in the context of other Americans who had been banished from mainstream American media, including Ralph Nader, whom the liberal Democratic establishment, including Borosage and Vanden Heuvel, stiff armed when he crashed the corporate political parties in the electoral arena in 2004 and 2008.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Hearing Wednesday: EFF Asks Court to Unseal Phone Tap Order That Was Among Hundreds of Questionable Wiretaps Approved By California Court
      EFF Client Targeted As Record Number of Wiretap Orders Raised Questions About the Legality of Riverside County’s Wiretapping Process Riverside, California—On Wednesday, February 13, at 10:00 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will ask a state court to unseal a wiretap order issued against individuals with no criminal records to learn why the phones were tapped and whether the warrant authorization process was legitimate.

      The order was among hundreds of questionable wiretaps issued by a single county in 2015, which accounted for over half of all reported wiretaps from California, and over one-fifth of all state wiretaps issued nationwide. The individuals were never notified that their phones were being tapped, despite a law requiring such notice within 90 days of the wiretap’s conclusion, and were never charged with any wrongdoing.

      EFF and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP represent a targeted individual whose phone was ordered tapped by Judge Helios J. Hernandez. The judge authorized a record number of wiretaps during the 2015 calendar year, not a single one of which resulted in either a trial or conviction. After a series of stories in USAToday uncovered Riverside County’s massive surveillance campaign and questioned the legality of the surveillance, watchdogs warned that the wiretaps likely violated federal law.

    • Lauri Love begins legal battle to retrieve computers seized by the NCA
    • Minnesota Judges Spent Only Minutes Approving Warrants Sweeping Up Thousands Of Cellphone Users
      Given the scope of the area covered and the imprecise nature of location data, each warrant has the potential to generate a ton of false positives -- people who happen to live, work, or travel through these busy areas. If a map had been provided, there's a good chance judges would have taken a little longer considering these requests.

    • Apple, Google slammed for sporting app that allows Saudi men to track women

      According to a report in Insider on Friday, the app called 'Absher' lets men to give women permission to travel, and also get SMS when a woman uses her passport at the border.

      For making the apps available on Google Play and Apple's App Store, the US-based tech giants have been accused of facilitating misogyny and helping "enforce gender apartheid".

    • Apple and Google accused of helping 'enforce gender apartheid' by hosting Saudi government app that tracks women and stops them leaving the country

      Apple and Google have been accused of helping to "enforce gender apartheid" in Saudi Arabia, by offering a sinister app which allows men to track women and stop them leaving the country.

      Both Google Play and iTunes host Absher, a government web service which allows men to specify when and how women can cross Saudi borders, and to get close to real-time SMS updates when they travel.

    • When Did Mark Zuckerberg Learn Facebook Targeted Children?
      “These findings point to a problematic culture of putting profits ahead of your users’ financial wellbeing and raise serious concerns regarding the company’s willingness to engage responsibly in its interactions with children,” U.S. Sens. Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal wrote in their joint letter to Zuckerberg.

      The Reveal story was based on more than 135 pages of internal Facebook memos, secret strategies and employee emails that paint a troubling picture of how the social media giant targeted children as it looked to grow revenue from games such as Angry Birds, PetVille and Ninja Saga.

    • What would happen if Facebook was turned off?

      Those booted off enjoyed an additional hour of free time on average. They tended not to redistribute their liberated minutes to other websites and social networks, but chose instead to watch more television and spend time with friends and family. They consumed much less news, and were thus less aware of events but also less polarised in their views about them than those still on the network. Leaving Facebook boosted self-reported happiness and reduced feelings of depression and anxiety.

      It also helped some to break the Facebook habit. Several weeks after the deactivation period, those who had been off Facebook spent 23% less time on it than those who had never left, and 5% of the forced leavers had yet to turn their accounts back on. And the amount of money subjects were willing to accept to shut their accounts for another four weeks was 13% lower after the month off than it had been before. Users, in other words, overestimate how much they value the service: a misperception corrected by a month of abstention. Even so, most are loth to call it quits entirely. That reluctance would seem to indicate that Facebook, despite its problems, generates lots of value for consumers, which would presumably vanish were the network to disappear.

    • Govt wants encryption bill powers for anti-corruption bodies

      The Federal Government will try to push amendments to the encryption law on Wednesday to give anti-corruption bodies the right to use its powers, while Labor will try to get an amendment through to define a systemic weakness.

    • India Seeks Access to Private Messages in WhatsApp Crackdown

      In the latest skirmish, the government is targeting Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp, the popular messaging service increasingly important to its parent’s bottom line. Frustrated that the service has been used to incite violence and spread pornography, the government is pressing WhatsApp to allow more official oversight of online discussions, even if that means giving officials access to protected, or encrypted, messages. Facebook has refused, risking punitive measures or even the possibility of a shutdown in its biggest market.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • U.S. Islamists Cry Martyr

      CAIR and other American Islamist groups are now using Khashoggi's terrible fate to attack Saudi Arabia, and steer American politicians towards the agendas of Western Islamist movements and those financing it — particularly the Qatari regime.

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

      When mysterious operatives lured two cybersecurity researchers to meetings at luxury hotels over the past two months, it was an apparent bid to discredit their research about an Israeli company that makes smartphone hacking technology used by some governments to spy on their citizens. The Associated Press has now learned of similar undercover efforts targeting at least four other individuals who have raised questions about the use of the Israeli firm’s spyware.

    • Nearly 15,000 Counter Trump Event With El Paso Rally to Reject 'Hatred and Bigotry'
      Less than a mile away from the El Paso, Texas stadium in which President Donald Trump delivered what critics described as a bigoted and lie-filled case for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as many as 15,000 Texans rallied and marched Monday night in a powerful display of opposition to both the wall and the broad anti-immigrant agenda it represents.

      "This is the strong and resilient border community I proudly grew up in," Cynthia Pompa, advocacy coordinator with the ACLU's Border Rights Center, said as the "March for Truth" kicked off early Monday evening. "No boots. No detention beds. No border walls. No more dollars for DHS."

    • One Minute to Midnight
      Late last month, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists unveiled its “Doomsday Clock” for the 26th time since its creation in 1947, declaring that the hands on the clock would remain where they had been at the last setting, in 2018. Rachel Bronson, the bulletin’s president, described the environment in which the bulletin assesses the threats faced by the world today (which have expanded beyond nuclear to include climate change and cyber) as the “new abnormal,” and noted that no one should take comfort from the fact that the hands of the clock have not moved.

    • Presidential Primaries Are Racist. Period.
      More than a year out from the 2020 presidential Democratic primary, hopefuls have begun to put their names in the hat as the best bet in kicking Trump out of the White House. The US left is ready to do battle, no matter how fresh the wounds of the 2016 election may still be.

      Whether or not opposing Trump should be Democrats’ one and only concern is a conversation worth having; but before the Democrats have that conversation, there is something more urgent to consider: candidates must fight through an inherently racist presidential primary cycle.

      For instance, Sen. Cory Booker and Tom Steyer are already spending valuable political capital in Iowa testing the waters. Presidential 2020 hopefuls Senators Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand and others have likewise been reaching out to campaign staffers in Iowa, who are suddenly a hot commodity.

      What could be so important about Iowa? It’s not super politically representative of the nation as a whole, unlike, for example, the very purple state of Virginia. It doesn’t have massive amounts of voters; its population is 3.1 million and it has only six electoral votes. So, what’s the catch? Iowa is the most important stop in any primary run because the state holds the very first caucus, and the winner of the Iowa caucus is most often the winner of the primary. Let’s take an honest look at the state.

    • Anti-corruption activist is beaten to death outside Moscow
      An anti-corruption activist has been beaten to death in a town outside Moscow. Late on February 11, masked assailants attacked Dmitry Gribov, the regional head of the Combatting Government Corruption Center, crushing his head with metal rods. The incident reportedly occurred in Vinogradovo, north of the capital.

    • California Court Says New Records Law Covers Past Police Misconduct Records
      The battle over public records in California continues. A new law made records of police misconduct releasable to the public, kicking off predictable legal challenges from law enforcement agencies not accustomed to accountability. These agencies believe the law isn't retroactive. In essence, they think the passage of the law allows them to whitewash their pasts by only providing records going forward from the law's enactment. None other than the law's author, Senator Nancy Skinner, has gone on record -- with a letter to the Senate Rules Committee and the state Attorney General's office -- stating the law applies retroactively.

      This has been ignored by the state AG, who has stated in records request denials that he believes the law can't touch pre-2019 misconduct files. This is exactly what agencies challenging the law want to hear. Unfortunately for them, they've just been handed a loss by a California court.

    • Key Supporter Of FOSTA, Cindy McCain, Misidentifies 'Different Ethnicity' Child; Claims Credit For Stopping Sex Trafficking That Wasn't
      In the wake of 9/11, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in New York City hired an ad agency, Korey Kay & Partners, to come up with a "creative exercise" in dealing with the post-9/11 world. They came up with slogan "If you see something, say something" and plastered it all over subways. Incredibly, the MTA trademarked the term (despite its lack of "use in commerce") and later licensed it to DHS (insanely, the MTA has been known to threaten others for using the slogan). However, despite now sounding like common wisdom, the program has been an utter disaster that has not stopped a single terrorist, but has created massive hassles for innocent people, and law enforcement who have to deal with busybodies freaking out about "weird stuff."

      Take, for example: Cindy McCain. The wife to the late Senator John McCain, recently decided she had seen something and had to say something. Specifically, as she herself claims, she was at an airport and saw a woman with a child of a "different ethnicity."
    • Moscow State University student officially detained after repeated arrests and alleged torture
      A district court in Moscow has ordered Moscow State University graduate student Azat Miftakhov to be held under guard until March 7 or later. Prosecutors said Miftakhov, who is suspected of anarchist activity, participated in a 2018 attack on the Moscow office of Russia’s ruling political party, United Russia.

      Miftakhov, a student of mechanics and mathematics, was first arrested on February 1 after a raid on multiple Moscow residences. He was accused of planting an explosive device near a gas line, but the device was found to be fake, and Miftakhov claims it was planted.
    • Russian Supreme Court chief doubles down on Jehovah’s Witnesses ban
      The Chair of Russia’s Supreme Court, Vyacheslav Lebedev, argued today that the country’s ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses is not motivated by religious animus. His statement came several days after an elder in the organization was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of organizing an extremist group.

    • Latest allegations of sexual assault show how the legal system discourage victims from coming forward
      Virginia’s Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is refusing to resign after denying charges by two women who have said that he sexually assaulted them.

      The first woman to come forward was Vanessa Tyson, a politics professor at Scripps College. She initially contacted The Washington Post after Fairfax’s election in December 2017, alleging that Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004.

      The Post stated it did not publish a story at that time because it “could not corroborate Tyson’s account or find similar complaints of sexual misconduct.”

      So Tyson’s story did not make national headlines until this week, when it was first published by the conservative blog Big League Politics.

      The second woman to come forward is Meredith Watson, who alleges Fairfax raped her while they were both students at Duke University in 2000. According to a statement written by her attorneys, Watson told a dean at the school about the rape, and the dean “discouraged her from pursuing the claim further.”

      On Feb. 9, Fairfax asked the FBI to investigate their allegations. While it’s not clear that the FBI will investigate, the controversy raises important questions about how the legal system deals with cases of sexual assault.

    • New Mexico Governor Orders National Guard Away From Border
      Editor’s note: Yesterday, California’s governor joined New Mexico in withdrawing National Guard troops from the US-Mexico border. He announced the withdrawal of almost 400 of California’s troops. While the United States suffered through an excruciatingly long State of the Union address on Tuesday, an interesting piece of news quietly dropped: New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grishman ordered most of the National Guard recalled from the border in her state.

      It was a sharp rebuke to the president, who has been heatedly insisting that the U.S.-Mexico border is a hotbed of crime that can only be controlled with a wall — or metal barrier. Trump has wasted considerable resources on security theater at the border, and the governor’s move signaled that she was disinterested in being used as a pawn in the ongoing conversation about border security.

      Some of the slightly over 100 troops posted at the border will be left in place for humanitarian work, with the governor noting that groups of migrant families in very poor health are in need of medical attention. Troops being used as law enforcement, however, will be sent home — and not just to New Mexico.

    • Shutdown Deal Corners Trump — But He Could Still Wreak Havoc
      Another week, another adult dose of whiplash chaos. Is that even a thing? It is now.

      Sunrise on Tuesday morning brought news that the “shutdown committee” had cobbled together a bipartisan agreement “in principle” to avoid yet another government closure. According to reports, the deal will include $1.375 billion for 55 miles of border fencing and caps the overall number of detention beds Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be allowed to maintain. Democrats dropped their demand to cap the number of immigrants who could be detained within U.S. borders.

      There is no steel and concrete border wall present in the existing deal, a fact that represents yet another stinging defeat for Donald Trump should he accept the proposal as it stands. Speaking at a Monday night rally in El Paso, Texas, the president feigned ignorance of the proposed deal and the wall it vividly lacks, choosing instead to whip up the partisan crowd with his standard-issue lather of lies and exaggerations. “They say that progress is being made with this committee,” Trump told the audience at one point. “Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway.”

      That does not bode well.

    • 'We Will Be That Lantern on the Shore': Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley Rally With TPS Holders Outside Trump White House
      Immigrant rights advocates and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders from Nepal and Honduras—joined by Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.)—rallied outside the White House on Tuesday morning to protest the Trump administration's moves to revoke protected status from people residing in the United States due to dangerous conditions in their home countries.

      Critics charge that the ongoing efforts to end TPS are motivated by President Donald Trump's racism against "non-white, non-European immigrants." The TPS holders, activists, and lawmakers who turned out for the March for TPS Justice despite the winter weather called on Congress to "take action to #SaveTPS and create permanent protections that give residency to immigrant youth and TPS holders."

    • Showdown in El Paso: Trump and Beto’s Dueling Rallies and the Uncertain Future of the Wall
      On Monday night, while Donald Trump was holding his campaign rally at the El Paso County stadium to tout his plan for a border wall, about 7,000 citizens in the diverse, Democratic-leaning city marched in the streets, holding an ebullient celebration of the diversity, cultural richness, and, yes, safety, of their border town.

      Former Congressman and progressive rock star Beto O’Rourke made a speech at the end of the march, which CBS broadcast live, apparently straight from someone’s shaky iPhone camera. O’Rourke extolled the virtues of his diverse community and denounced the cruelty and senselessness of the Trump Administration’s attacks on migrants and refugees.

      “In El Paso, we are secure because we treat one another with dignity and respect,” O’Rourke said at the event. “We know that walls do not save lives. Walls end lives.”

    • ‘Policing For Profit’ Is Alive and Well in South Carolina
      An investigative series finds that police have amassed millions through civil asset forfeiture, mostly affecting the poor and people of color. In Conway, South Carolina, a 72-year-old widow hides inside, her curtains drawn, fearing that local law enforcement will attempt to take away her home for a third time. Ella Bromell has never been convicted of a crime. So how has her house been at risk of seizure for over a decade?

      The answer is simple, but the process is obscure, discriminatory, and all-too commonplace: civil asset forfeiture.

      Civil asset forfeiture grants law enforcement officers the authority to take possession of property simply because they suspect that the property was used to commit a crime. Property owners don’t have to be suspected, charged, or convicted of criminal conduct for law enforcement to take their belongings. But, of course, property doesn’t commit crimes.

      Perhaps it’s unsurprising that a system built on such a silly legal fiction is so corrupt and abusive. So even though Bromwell has never been convicted of a crime, her home is at risk because neighbors sell small quantities of drugs on her front yard while she is away or sleeping without her consent.

    • Chicago Activists Demand Candidates For Mayor Back Civilian Police Accountability
      The chant “16 shots and a cover-up” is one that has echoed through the streets of Chicago for several years. It refers to the killing of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager killed by a white Chicago police officer. McDonald’s death came less than three months after Michael Brown, another black teenager, was shot dead in St. Louis by a white police officer and sparked national protests. The grim details of McDonald’s death laid buried for more than a year. But as they emerged, details amplified an already deafening call for police accountability both in Chicago and America, one which shaped elections and shook seats of power.

      “There are 34 sitting alderman that are worried about their reelection. I’m here to let them know that we don’t give a fuck about your reelection,” declared Tanya Watkins of Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation during a demonstration outside Chicago City Hall in October.

      Watkins was with hundreds who gathered for the verdict in the trial of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was later sentenced to a little more than six years in prison on second-degree murder charges for killing McDonald.

      “We hope this will reverberate through this police department,” said Watkins. “We hope that they will understand that we won’t stop until we win.”

    • Giving Trump Far Too Much in Shutdown Deal, Progressives Warn Democrats 'Throwing Immigrants Under the Bus'
      After Democratic negotiators dropped their demand for a limit on how many immigrants the Trump administration can detain and agreed to provide over $1.3 billion for fencing and other barriers at the U.S.-Mexico border, immigrant rights advocates warned on Tuesday that Democrats are conceding far too much to President Donald Trump and handing "Nativist Republicans more money to jail and deport immigrants."

    • ‘MBS Has Ushered in an Era of Unprecedented Crackdowns and Repression of Political Speech’ - CounterSpin interview with Sarah Aziza on Saudi repression of women
      You actually saw reporters swarming on the photo-op of Saudi women driving. And one can see why: It’s both a symbolic and a material change that seems to say that Saudi Arabia, under the influence particularly of Mohammed bin Salman, is on the road to reform. But subsequent and even previous events should tell us that that’s not really the story here. What should we know about bin Salman as liberator of Saudi women?

    • Appeals Court Rules Key Anti-Age Discrimination Protections Don’t Apply to Job Seekers, Only Employee
      In a decision last month, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has sharply limited a federal law that protects workers who are 40 and older from age bias by ruling that key provisions only apply to those who already have jobs, not those seeking them.

      The 8-4 decision, written by Circuit Judge Michael Scudder, a Trump administration appointee, said the “plain language” of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act shows that in enacting the measure, Congress aimed its sweeping prohibition against discrimination at employees but “did not extend that same protection to outside job applicants.”

      The ruling prompted a fierce dissent from Circuit Judge David Hamilton, an Obama administration appointee, who accused the majority of taking a “deliberately naïve approach” to the law and “closing its eyes to fifty years of history, context and application.”

      The ADEA’s anti-discrimination language originally matched that of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which covers race, gender, religion and other categories. And for much of the last half-century, federal courts have treated provisions of the two laws as largely interchangeable.

      The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by an Illinois lawyer, Dale Kleber, who was 58 in 2014 when he applied for a senior attorney position with CareFusion Corp., a unit of medical device maker Becton Dickinson & Co., but was passed over for an interview. The job eventually went to a 29-year-old candidate.
    • Roaming Charges: Back in Blackface

    • Activists at the Local and Global Levels
      Mickey interviews two activists who work at the local and global levels, respectively. High School student Lucia Garay explains how she became motivated to work for social justice, and the challenges that young people face even in a “liberal” region. Then Steven Jay returns to the show to explain his latest project,

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • This net neutrality rule has real consequences for cellular data bills

      A lack of net neutrality rules can have real-world consequences on wireless data prices, according to a new study by The new data from dozens of countries in the European Union suggest that when a country allows zero-rating programs, it ends up seeing an increase in wireless prices over time.

    • What Happens If Russia Cuts Itself Off From the Internet

      The [Internet] was invented in the United States, and US companies now control a significant portion of the infrastructure that powers it. It’s possible that Russia simply wants to gain more autonomy over Runet, but Russian president Vladimir Putin could also be seeking to beef up his cyberwar capabilities or to further censor the online information available to his citizens. While its motives are fuzzy, what’s clear is that Russia has been preparing for greater [Internet] independence for years. In fact, it first proposed disconnecting from the global net back in 2014.

    • Russia Is Considering An Experiment To Disconnect From The Internet

      The bill would require Internet providers to make sure they can operate if foreign countries attempt to isolate the Runet, or Russian Internet. It was introduced after the White House published its 2018 National Security Strategy, which attributed cyberattacks on the United States to Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

    • Russian lawmakers pass first draft of Internet-isolation legislation
      The State Duma has passed the first reading of legislation co-authored by Senator Andrey Klishas that would allow the federal authorities to take control over the connection points linking Russia to the global Internet. Ostensibly as a defensive measure, lawmakers want to build the technical infrastructure necessary to sustain the Russian segment of the Internet in isolation from the rest of the world.

    • Russia plans to 'unplug' from internet

      The test will mean data passing between Russian citizens and organisations stays inside the nation rather than being routed internationally.

    • Zero Rating Actually Costs Broadband Customers More, EU Study Finds
      For years now we've discussed how large ISPs have (ab)used the lack of competition in the broadband market by imposing completely arbitrary and unnecessary monthly usage caps and overage fees. ISPs have also taken to exempting their own content from these arbitrary limits while still penalizing competitors -- allowing them to use these restrictions to tilt the playing field in their favor. For example an AT&T broadband customer who uses AT&T's own streaming service faces no penalties. If that same customer uses Netflix or a competitor they're socked with surcharges.

      The anti-competitive impact of this should be obvious.

      But large ISPs have muddied the water by claiming that zero rating is the bits and bytes equivalent of a 1-800 number for data or free shipping. Customers who don't understand that usage caps are arbitrary nonsense from the get go often buy into this idea that they're getting something for free. And Ajit Pai's FCC has helped confuse the public as well by trying to claim that this model is somehow of immense benefit to low income communities.

      Guess what: it's not. Studies from Mozilla have shown that zero rating isn't some mystical panacea. You might recall that Facebook has spent years trying to offer a walled-garden internet service to developed nations where select content is "zero rated," something that was banned in India when regulators realized that letting Facebook determine which content was most widely accessed was a decidedly stupid idea. Facebook's altruism on this subject was ultimately revealed to be a ham-handed attempt to dominate advertising in developing nations.

    • Internet freedom expert says Russia lacks the means to pull off an isolated Web like China's
      On February 12, 2019, the State Duma has passed the first reading of legislation that will allow the federal authorities to take control over the connection points linking Russia to the global Internet. Ostensibly as a defensive measure, lawmakers want to build the technical infrastructure necessary to sustain the Russian segment of the Internet in isolation from the rest of the world.

      In an interview with Meduza, Internet freedom activist and “Roskomsvoboda” technical director Stanislav Shakirov argues that Russia lacks the domestic investment infrastructure to develop its own tech startups the way China does. Not only are Russian Internet users accustomed to having their pick of Western online services, but Russia's domestic market isn’t big enough to sustain competition in isolation, and its unfriendly business climate remains a major hindrance, Shakirov says.

    • Google Fiber Leaves Louisville As Alphabet Retreats From Telecom
      When Google Fiber launched in 2010, it was lauded as a game changer for the broadband industry. Google Fiber would, we were told, revolutionize the industry by taking Silicon Valley money and disrupting the viciously uncompetitive and anti-competitive telecom sector. Initially things worked out well; cities tripped over themselves offering all manner of perks to the company in the hopes of breaking free from the broadband duopoly logjam. And in markets where Google Fiber was deployed, prices certainly dropped thanks to Google Fiber market pressure. The free marketing courtesy of press coverage was endless.

      That was then, this is now.

      In late 2016 Alphabet began getting cold feet about the high costs and slow return of the project, and effectively mothballed the entire thing -- without admitting that's what they were doing. The company blew through several CEOs in just a few months, laid off hundreds of employees, froze any real expansion, and cancelled countless installations for users who had been waiting years. And while Google made a lot of noise about how it would be shifting from fiber to wireless to possibly cut costs, those promises so far appear stuck in neutral as well.

  • DRM

    • IP and the Right to Repair
      I thought this was an interesting and provocative paper, even if I am skeptical of the central thesis. I should note that the first half of the paper or so makes the normative case, and the authors do a good job of laying out the case.

      Many of the topics are those you see in the news, like how laws that forbid breaking DRM stop others from repairing their stuff (which now all has a computer) or how patent law can make it difficult to make patented repair parts.

      The treatment of trade secrets, in particular, was a useful addition to the literature. As I wrote on the economics of trade secret many years ago, my view is that trade secrecy doesn't serve as an independent driver of innovation because people will keep their information secret anyway. Thus, any innovation effects are secondary, in the sense that savings made from not having to protect secrets so carefully can be channeled to R&D. But there was always a big caveat: this assumes that firms can "keep their information secret anyway," and that there's no forced disclosure rule.

      So, when this article's hypothesized right to repair extended to disclosure of manuals, schematics, and other information necessary to repair, it caught my eye. On the one hand, as someone who has been frustrated by lack of manuals and reverse engineered repair of certain things, I love it. On the other hand, I wonder how requiring disclosure of such information would change the incentive to dynamics. With respect to schematics, companies would probably continue to create them, but perhaps they might make a second, less detailed schematic. Or, maybe nothing would happen because that information is required anyway. But with respect to manuals, I wonder whether companies would lose the incentive to keep detailed records of customer service incidents if they could not profit from it. Keeping such records is costly, and if repairs are charged to customers, it might be better to reinvent the wheel every time than to pay to maintain an information system that others will use. I doubt it, though, as there is still value in having others repair your goods, and if people can repair their own, then the market becomes even more competitive.

    • Intellectual Property Law and the Right to Repair
      In recent years, there has been a growing push in different U.S. states towards legislation that would provide consumers with a “right to repair” their products. Currently 18 states have pending legislation that would require product manufacturers to make available replacement parts and repair manuals. This grassroots movement has been triggered by a combination of related factors. One such factor is the ubiquity of microchips and software in an increasing number of consumer products, from smartphones to cars, which makes the repair of such products more complicated and dependent upon the availability of information supplied by the manufacturers. Another factor is the unscrupulous practices of large, multinational corporations designed to force consumers to repair their products only through their own offered services, and ultimately, to manipulate consumers into buying newer products instead of repairing them. These factors have rallied repair shops, e-recyclers, and other do-it-yourselfers to push forward, demanding a right to repair.

      Unfortunately, though, this legislation has stalled in many of the states. Manufacturers have been lobbying the legislatures to stop the enactment of the right to repair laws based on different concerns, including how these laws may impinge on their intellectual property rights. Indeed, a right to repair may not be easily reconcilable with the United States’ far-reaching intellectual property rights regime. For example, requiring manufacturers to release repair manuals could implicate a whole host of intellectual property laws, including trade secret. Similarly, employing measures undercutting a manufacturer's control of the market for replacement parts might conflict with patent exclusivity. Nonetheless, this Article’s thesis holds that intellectual property laws should not be used to inhibit the right to repair from being fully implemented.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Owner Of Harry Caray's Restaurants Finds You Can't Just Trademark A Widely Used Hashtag
        As someone who spends a great deal of time writing about trademark law and trademark disputes, I am often repeating that trademark law was put in place specifically to keep the public from being confused as to the source of affiliations of a particular good or service. This is a necessary repetition, as far too many people think that trademark law was designed to allow opportunists to lock up language for commerce simply because they thought to do so. While the USPTO has historically been far too lenient on trademark matters, it is a fact that a mark that doesn't function to inform the buying public as to the source of a good or service is an invalid mark.

    • Copyrights

      • Fix the Gaping Hole at the Heart of Article 13: Users’ Rights

        What’s significant there is the mention of users’ rights. Discussions about them have been conspicuous by their absence most of the time the EU’s Copyright Directive has been under development. That is truly scandalous, and highlights just how one-sided the proposed legislation is. It is all about giving yet more rights to the copyright industry, with no regard for the negative impact on everyone else. That overriding consideration is so extreme that the dire consequences Article 13 will have on the Internet in the EU were first denied, and then ignored.

        One of the most obvious manifestations of that indifference to the facts, and contempt for EU citizens, concerns memes. As we explained some months back, it is not true that memes will be unaffected by Article 13, as many politicians have insisted. There is no EU-wide copyright exception for memes: in some countries memes would be covered by some of the existing exceptions, in others not.

      • Article 13 Negotiations Move Ahead, Artists Slam Labels For Disrespecting Them

        EU governments will press ahead with Article 13 based on the deal struck by France and Germany, despite calls by music labels and other content groups for it to be scrapped. Meanwhile, representatives for artists are hitting back at their paymasters for "disregarding" their interests.

      • Article 13 is Not Just Criminally Irresponsible, It’s Irresponsibly Criminal
        In a previous editorial, I pointed out that at the heart of Article 13 in the proposed EU Copyright Directive there’s a great lie: that it is possible to check for unauthorised uploads of material without inspecting every single file. The EU has ended up in this absurd position because it knows that many MEPs would reject the idea of imposing a general monitoring obligation on online services – not least because the e-Commerce Directive explicitly forbids it. Instead, the text of Article 13 simply pretends that technical alternatives can be found, without specifying them. The recently-issued “Q and A on the draft digital copyright directive” from the European Parliament then goes on to explain that if services aren’t clever enough to come up with other ways, and use upload filters, then obviously it’s their own fault.

        Imposing legal obligations that are impossible to fulfil is deeply irresponsible law-making. But there is another aspect of Article 13 that is even worse: the fact that it will encourage a new wave of criminality. It’s hard to think of a greater failure than a law that increases lawlessness.

        The problem arises once more from the flawed idea of forcing companies to install upload filters. Just as EU lawmakers seem unable to grasp the fact that online services will be obliged to conduct general monitoring in order to comply with Article 13, so their lack of technical knowledge means that they don’t understand the tremendous practical challenges of implementing this form of general monitoring.

      • Project Brand Integrity Aims to Purge Ads From Pirate Sites

        The Trustworthy Accountability Group, an anti-piracy certification program operated by giants including Google, Facebook, Disney and Warner, has launched Project Brand Integrity in Europe. With the assistance of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and Europol, the aim will be to purge ads from pirate sites.

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