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Links 25/2/2019: Linux 5.0 RC8 and Second Mageia 7 Beta

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Free Software/Open Source

  • CAST Software creates index for Software Heritage open-source repository
    Software Heritage, a non-profit dedicated to building a universal archive of source code, has some 88 million open-source projects with 5.6 billion source files in its repository. Lev Lesokhin, EVP of strategy and analytics at CAST, described it as “the largest repository out there. The patents we acquired with this technology that we bought has a patent for an index to search through Software Heritage, to be able to go backwards and find the provenance, the origin, of any component in this repository. Without this index it’s a brute-force search that’s like impossible to do,” Lesokhin told SD Times.

    The index, when connected to the company’s software intelligence platform CAST Highlight, will be able to identify third-party source code and detect any risks that might be associated with it, the company said.

    “The lack of software intelligence around open-source versioning and licensing puts many companies in danger of losing valuable IP, as most executives are unaware of their risk exposure,” CAST founder and CEO Vincent Delaroche said in the announcement. “Business leaders should be aware when open source and other external components in code expose their organization to non-compliance, legal action and possible loss of proprietary IP.”

    CAST Software has always been about software intelligence, and last October, built SCA capabilities into its Highlight product, Lesokhin said, enabling the company to go after WhiteSource and Black Duck in the open-source software analysis market, Lesokhin said.

  • Events

    • Open Source is where innovation happens
      New Delhi [India] Feb 22 (ANI): The second edition of Open Source Summit was organised in New Delhi by Bharat Exhibitions and it was a roaring success.

      "Open Source is where all the innovation happens", said Peter Lees, Chief Technologist

      Director of Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific, SUSE, while speaking at the inaugural session of the

      "Open Source Summit, 2019".

      According to him, all the new technologies, all the new ideas and all the new approach have their foundation in open source.

  • Web Browsers

    • CERN recreated the original WorldWideWeb browser for you to try out

      30 years ago next month, engineers at CERN issued a proposal for a new program to help with managing information within the organization called “Information Management: A Proposal.” After some revisions, the proposal laid out the framework for a program that would provide an interface to the user to present information, utilizing links to allow users to browse the information systems at the organization. CERN engineer Tim Berners-Lee developed the system on a NeXT computer, which he called WorldWideWeb, which became the forerunner to the modern internet.

    • Mozilla

      • The Rust Programming Language Blog: Changes in the core team
        With Rust 2018 having shipped, this is a natural time of transition. While we’ll miss Nick and Aaron’s contributions to the core team, we are very excited for them to be focusing on something new, and we’re very happy that they are still going to stay involved with Rust. We’re also looking into growing the core team to help with the work ahead.

      • Mozilla VR Blog: Bringing Firefox Reality to HoloLens 2
        Our Mixed Reality program at Mozilla is focused on bringing the best browsers, services, and tools for developers to ensure that users have a safe, private experience with open, accessible technology. Alongside our desktop and standalone VR browser efforts, this prototype of Firefox Reality for HoloLens 2 will ensure that the immersive web works for all users, regardless of device they are on.

      • Mozilla Future Releases Blog: Exploring alternative funding models for the web
        The online advertising ecosystem is broken. The majority of digital advertising revenue is going to a small handful of companies, leaving other publishers with scraps. Meanwhile users are on the receiving end of terrible experiences and pervasive tracking designed to get them to click on ads or share even more personal data.

        Earlier this month, we shared our perspective about the need to find a better web ecosystem balance that puts publishers and users at the center of the online value exchange. For users, we began our efforts with curbing pervasive tracking as we believe that this is necessary to protect privacy as a fundamental human right. For publishers, we believe that these same measures will help shift long-term ecosystem incentives which are currently stripping value from publishers and fueling rampant ad fraud. However, it is important to acknowledge that such change can take time and that publishers are hurting today.

        That’s why we’ve turned our attention toward finding a more sustainable ecosystem balance for publishers and users alike. But unlike other companies that would explore possible solutions behind closed doors, we’re transparent and experiment with new ideas in the open, especially when those ideas could have a significant impact on how the web ecosystems works, or fundamentally change the value exchange we have with the people who rely on our products and services. In 2019, we will continue to explore new product features and offerings, including our ongoing focus on identifying a more sustainable ecosystem balance for both publishers and users.

      • Exercising software freedom on Firefox

        I’m becoming a minority in another way: I use Firefox. And Firefox uses GTK+. That means I can use Emacs keybindings in Firefox.

        Ah, but there’s a rub. Firefox binds C-n (or as most people would call it, “ctrl-n”) to new window. This is probably okay for people who don’t have the intersectionality of Emacs keybindings everywhere and Firefox. But for me, it’s intolerable. If I want to move a cursor down, I have to instead perform a very unnatural-feeling motion of moving my right hand to the arrow keys and hit the arrow down button. For those accostumed to using arrow keys, imagine if every time you pressed the down arrow Firefox would open a new window. Imagine software reacting so at odds to your habituation.

        Up until Firefox 56 there was an easy workaround. You could download extensions that would let you configure Firefox’s keyboard shorcuts, including disable some of them. I used to do this. The world, however, marches on and so does Firefox. Many extensions cannot do what they once did and the easy fix was gone.

  • Network

    • ATIS brings open source oneM2M support to embedded mobile IoT modules
      The enhanced OS-IoT platform allows sensor applications to run directly on the NB-IoT mobile module without the need for an additional external microcontroller to act as an application processor.

    • ATIS Brings Open Source oneM2M Support to Embedded Cellular IoT Modules
      ATIS today announced that it has successfully demonstrated a cellular IoT module using the ATIS OS-IoT software accessing cloud-based oneM2M standard services over Vodafone’s Open Lab Narrow-Band IoT (NB-IoT) test network. The global oneM2M standard defines a common, interoperable platform for IoT systems, providing application-independent building blocks that fulfill core tasks of secure data collection, management and distribution. The NB-IoT standard, defined by 3GPP, provides economical and efficient support of narrow-bandwidth communication services to IoT applications with wide geographic coverage by adding IoT optimizations to mobile cellular networks. The demonstration shows how applications built on the Open Source OS-IoT platform can use oneM2M and NB-IoT standards together to provide IoT capabilities suitable for global markets.

    • Open Mobile Evolved Core is part of the larger CORD project
      In 2017, Sprint worked with Intel Labs on an open source mobile core dubbed C3PO–Clean CUPS Core for Packet Optimization with CUPS meaning Control and User Plane Separation. Now, Sprint took that work and used it to seed an Open Networking Foundation project that has resulted in what the group call the Open Mobile Evolved Core (OMEC).

      Sprint’s initial work focused on seven network functions: serving gateway, packet gateway, deep packet inspection, child protection filtering, carrier-grade network address translation, static firewall and service function chaining classification. OMEC is based on 3GPP Release 13 and supports a wide range of evolved packet core and charging functions.

      Ron Marquardt, Sprint vice president of technology, said in a statement, “We plan to conduct field trials using OMEC for edge applications this year, and we’re thrilled to be working with the ONF to build a broader community to leverage and build upon OMEC.”

    • IoT roundup: Outer space, the building is getting smart, and trucking
      The goal is to provide truly global, ends-of-the-Earth LoRaWAN coverage to any IoT device on the platform. Registered devices connect to a satellite for connectivity back to a home network. The company launched its first “nanosatellite” in 2018, and boasts that companies ranging from Fortune 500s to small startups have jumped at the chance to register devices for the Project Galaxy network.

    • Open Networking Summit (ONS)

    • Ericsson joins O-RAN Alliance
      Ericsson will also focus on the upper-layer function as specified in 3GPP to provide interoperable multivendor profiles for specified interfaces between central RAN functions, resulting in faster deployment of 5G networks on a global scale.

  • LibreOffice

    • 5 free alternatives to Microsoft Word
      LibreOffice Writer, like OpenOffice, is a completely free and open-source product that offers word processing, support for .doc and .docx file formats, and all the tools the average Microsoft Word user will need in a word processor.

      LibreOffice Writer and OpenOffice Writer are similar in a lot of ways: Interface style, file format support, lack of cloud integration and real-time collaboration, and general word processing features. Both are solid choices for those looking for a free alternative to Microsoft Word, and selecting one over the other largely comes down to preference.

      One aspect of LibreOffice stands out, and it isn't what's in the app—it's the community-driven nature of the platform. Collaborating with users and developers to improve the product is front and center on LibreOffice's website, and that focus has grown LibreOffice into a thriving community of users and coders that keep making it better.

    • LibreOffice Asia Conference 2019, Tokyo: Call for Proposal is open
      LibreOffice Asia Committee calls for proposals of talks for LibreOffice Asia Conference 2019, Tokyo held at the Nihonbashi Tokyo Tower (Cyboze, Inc. Tokyo office) on May 25th (Sat) and 26th (Sun).

      LibreOffice Asia Conference is the event to gather LibreOffice users and contributors (such as development, translation, PR/marketing, quality assurance, or else) in the Asian region to exchange each knowledge. In there, we will discuss LibreOffice business such as support and training, the current status of migrations for LibreOffice and its standard format ODF, how to use, development, and any other community activities around Asia in it. This year’s Tokyo conference is the first Asia Conference.

      We will also invite various guests includes some of the board of directors of The Document Foundation which is the charitable Foundation to be a home of LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • New open-source bioinformatics tool identifies factors responsible for diseases
      Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have developed and tested a new computational tool, Candidate Driver Analysis (CaDrA), which will search for combinations of factors that are likely to cause a specific disease. CaDrA recognizes that diseases are complex and likely induced by multiple causes. It is now available free to members of the research community.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Legislators Take Another Stab At Eliminating Fees For PACER Access
        Last year's bill died after being referred to the House Judiciary Committee, most likely trampled underfoot by Congressional hearings and wall-related legislation. Either that or it's tough to get Congress members excited about eliminating fees they already don't have to pay. There have been no successful attempts to curb PACER fees, much less turn it into a free service. We know this because PACER still charges $0.10/page for documents and dockets as if it were an aged librarian keeping close tabs on the Xerox machine. It has been nearly 20 years since PACER opened its doors to the public. Since its inception, prices have increased, fee collections have steadily ticked upward, and almost none of that money is being spent trying to lower access costs or update the archaic system that punishes the public for expressing an interest in court proceedings. The only thing PACER has really done over the last twenty years is attract legislation and lawsuits. While it did create an online portal for court documents that can be accessed from anywhere in the world, that's about all it's done with the time and money the US court system has had at its disposal. It's not that this step wasn't important. It was a huge step forward. Since then, the PACER system has been characterized by its inertia.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Flux Engine Reads Floppies
        It is a bit of a paradox that we are storing more and more information digitally, yet every year more and more of it is becoming harder to access. Data on a variety of tapes and disks that were once common, is now trapped on media due to lack of hardware to read it. Do you have a ZIP drive? Do you have a computer that it will work with? Floppies are problem too. You might think you beat the system just by having a USB floppy drive. While these do exist, they typically won’t read oddball formats. That is, except for Flux Engine, an open source USB floppy drive.

  • Programming/Development

    • Trip report: Winter ISO C++ standards meeting (Kona)
      A few minutes ago, the ISO C++ committee completed its winter meeting in Kona, HI, USA, hosted with thanks by Plum Hall, NVIDIA, and the Standard C++ Foundation. As usual, we met for six days Monday through Saturday, including most evenings. This and the previous meeting were the biggest ISO C++ meetings in our 29-year history, and this time we had a new record of 13 voting national bodies represented in person: Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States. For more details about our size increase, including how we adapted organizationally to handle the load, see my San Diego “pre-trip” report and my San Diego trip report.

    • Coroutines & Modules Added For C++20
      The ISO C++ committee has wrapped up its winter meeting in Hawaii that also served as the last meeting for approving new features for the upcoming C++20 revision to the C++ programming language.

      At this week's meeting, the last of the C++20 features were considered while at the next meeting in the summer will be taking care of some loose ends and then taking C++20 to the international comment ballot.

    • Redox OS Exploring Coreboot Payload, Other Improvements
      It's been a while since last having anything significant to report on Redox OS, the Unix-like operating system written in the Rust programming language and pursuing a micro-kernel design, but fortunately this open-source OS is still moving along and they have some interesting plans moving forward.

      Lead Redox OS developer Jeremy Soller tweeted that "it's time for Redox OS to become a Coreboot payload." It looks like Redox OS is working on native Coreboot payload support for this interesting Rust operating system rather than first needing to use one of the bootloaders as a Coreboot payload before hitting Redox OS.

    • rpick
      I spent some time doing my first non-humor program in Rust, rpick. It's still a simple program, but I find it useful because I have a very hard time making simple decisions such as which restaurant to go to, or which album to listen to next. rpick uses a Gaussian probability model to pick from an ordered list of candidates, ordered from least recently chosen to most recently chosen. It has a higher chance of picking the less recently chosen items, while still allowing some fun room for the roll of the dice to surprise you. It's coming soon to a Fedora release near you.

    • How to write a Python web framework. Part II.

    • Data from dingbats: copying down
    • Git v2.21.0
      The latest feature release Git v2.21.0 is now available at the usual places. It is comprised of 500 non-merge commits since v2.20.0, contributed by 74 people, 20 of which are new faces.

      The tarballs are found at:

      The following public repositories all have a copy of the 'v2.21.0' tag and the 'master' branch that the tag points at:

      url = url = git:// url =

      New contributors whose contributions weren't in v2.20.0 are as follows. Welcome to the Git development community!

      Alessandro Menti, Arti Zirk, Brandon Richardson, Chayoung You, Denis Ovsienko, Emilio Cobos Ãlvarez, Erin Dahlgren, Fabien Villepinte, Force Charlie, Frank Dana, Issac Trotts, Katrin Leinweber, Laura Abbott, Patrick Hogg, Peter Osterlund, Shahzad Lone, Slavica Djukic, Yoichi Nakayama, Zhilei Han, and Tanushree Tumane.

      Returning contributors who helped this release are as follows. Thanks for your continued support.

      Ãvar ArnfjÃrà Bjarmason, Alexander Shopov, Ben Peart, Brandon Williams, brian m. carlson, Carlo Marcelo Arenas BelÃn, Christian Couder, Christopher DÃaz Riveros, David Turner, Derrick Stolee, Elijah Newren, Eric Sunshine, Eric Wong, Fangyi Zhou, Jean-NoÃl Avila, Jeff King, Jiang Xin, Jimmy Angelakos, Johannes Schindelin, Jonathan Nieder, Jonathan Tan, Jordi Mas, Josh Steadmon, Junio C Hamano, Kevin Daudt, Kim Gybels, Kyle Meyer, Linus Torvalds, Luke Diamand, Martin Ãgren, Masaya Suzuki, Matthew DeVore, Matthieu Moy, Max Kirillov, Nguyán ThÃi Ngác Duy, Olga Telezhnaya, Orgad Shaneh, Peter Krefting, Phillip Wood, Pranit Bauva, Ralf Thielow, Ramsay Jones, Randall S. Becker, Renà Scharfe, Sebastian Staudt, Sergey Organov, Stefan Beller, Stephen P. Smith, Sven van Haastregt, SZEDER GÃbor, Thomas Braun, Thomas Gummerer, Todd Zullinger, and Torsten BÃgershausen.


      Git 2.21 Release Notes ======================

      Backward Compatibility Notes ----------------------------

      * Historically, the "-m" (mainline) option can only be used for "git cherry-pick" and "git revert" when working with a merge commit. This version of Git no longer warns or errors out when working with a single-parent commit, as long as the argument to the "-m" option is 1 (i.e. it has only one parent, and the request is to pick or revert relative to that first parent). Scripts that relied on the behaviour may get broken with this change.

      Updates since v2.20 -------------------

      UI, Workflows & Features

      * The "http.version" configuration variable can be used with recent enough versions of cURL library to force the version of HTTP used to talk when fetching and pushing.

      * Small fixes and features for fast-export and fast-import, mostly on the fast-export side has been made.

      * "git push $there $src:$dst" rejects when $dst is not a fully qualified refname and it is not clear what the end user meant. The codepath has been taught to give a clearer error message, and also guess where the push should go by taking the type of the pushed object into account (e.g. a tag object would want to go under refs/tags/).

      * "git checkout [<tree-ish>] path..." learned to report the number of paths that have been checked out of the index or the tree-ish, which gives it the same degree of noisy-ness as the case in which the command checks out a branch. "git checkout -m <pathspec>" to undo conflict resolution gives a similar message.

      * "git quiltimport" learned "--keep-non-patch" option.

      * "git worktree remove" and "git worktree move" refused to work when there is a submodule involved. This has been loosened to ignore uninitialized submodules.

      * "git cherry-pick -m1" was forbidden when picking a non-merge commit, even though there _is_ parent number 1 for such a commit. This was done to avoid mistakes back when "cherry-pick" was about picking a single commit, but is no longer useful with "cherry-pick" that can pick a range of commits. Now the "-m$num" option is allowed when picking any commit, as long as $num names an existing parent of the commit.

      * Update "git multimail" from the upstream.

      * "git p4" update.

      * The "--format=<placeholder>" option of for-each-ref, branch and tag learned to show a few more traits of objects that can be learned by the object_info API.

      * "git rebase -i" learned to re-execute a command given with 'exec' to run after it failed the last time.

      * "git diff --color-moved-ws" updates.

      * Custom userformat "log --format" learned %S atom that stands for the tip the traversal reached the commit from, i.e. --source.

      * "git instaweb" learned to drive http.server that comes with "batteries included" Python installation (both Python2 & 3).

      * A new encoding UTF-16LE-BOM has been invented to force encoding to UTF-16 with BOM in little endian byte order, which cannot be directly generated by using iconv.

      * A new date format "--date=human" that morphs its output depending on how far the time is from the current time has been introduced. "--date=auto:human" can be used to use this new format (or any existing format) when the output is going to the pager or to the terminal, and otherwise the default format.

      Performance, Internal Implementation, Development Support etc.

      * Code clean-up with optimization for the codepath that checks (non-)existence of loose objects.

      * More codepaths have become aware of working with in-core repository instances other than the default "the_repository".

      * The "strncat()" function is now among the banned functions.

      * Portability updates for the HPE NonStop platform.

      * Earlier we added "-Wformat-security" to developer builds, assuming that "-Wall" (which includes "-Wformat" which in turn is required to use "-Wformat-security") is always in effect. This is not true when config.mak.autogen is in use, unfortunately. This has been fixed by unconditionally adding "-Wall" to developer builds.

      * The loose object cache used to optimize existence look-up has been updated.

      * Flaky tests can now be repeatedly run under load with the "--stress" option.

      * Documentation/Makefile is getting prepared for manpage localization.

      * "git fetch-pack" now can talk the version 2 protocol.

      * sha-256 hash has been added and plumbed through the code to allow building Git with the "NewHash".

      * Debugging help for http transport.

      * "git fetch --deepen=<more>" has been corrected to work over v2 protocol.

      * The code to walk tree objects has been taught that we may be working with object names that are not computed with SHA-1.

      * The in-core repository instances are passed through more codepaths.

      * Update the protocol message specification to allow only the limited use of scaled quantities. This is to ensure potential compatibility issues will not get out of hand.

      * Micro-optimize the code that prepares commit objects to be walked by "git rev-list" when the commit-graph is available.

      * "git fetch" and "git upload-pack" learned to send all exchanges over the sideband channel while talking the v2 protocol.

      * The codepath to write out commit-graph has been optimized by following the usual pattern of visiting objects in in-pack order.

      * The codepath to show progress meter while writing out commit-graph file has been improved.

      * Cocci rules have been updated to encourage use of strbuf_addbuf().

      * "git rebase --merge" has been reimplemented by reusing the internal machinery used for "git rebase -i".

      * More code in "git bisect" has been rewritten in C.

      * Instead of going through "git-rebase--am" scriptlet to use the "am" backend, the built-in version of "git rebase" learned to drive the "am" backend directly.

      * The assumption to work on the single "in-core index" instance has been reduced from the library-ish part of the codebase.

      * The test lint learned to catch non-portable "sed" options.

      * "git pack-objects" learned another algorithm to compute the set of objects to send, that trades the resulting packfile off to save traversal cost to favor small pushes.

      * The travis CI scripts have been corrected to build Git with the compiler(s) of our choice.

      * "git submodule update" learned to abort early when core.worktree for the submodule is not set correctly to prevent spreading damage.

      * Test suite has been adjusted to run on Azure Pipeline.

      * Running "Documentation/doc-diff x" from anywhere other than the top-level of the working tree did not show the usage string correctly, which has been fixed.

      * Use of the sparse tool got easier to customize from the command line to help developers.

      * A new target "coverage-prove" to run the coverage test under "prove" has been added.

      * A flakey "p4" test has been removed.

      * The code and tests assume that the system supplied iconv() would always use BOM in its output when asked to encode to UTF-16 (or UTF-32), but apparently some implementations output big-endian without BOM. A compile-time knob has been added to help such systems (e.g. NonStop) to add BOM to the output to increase portability.

      Fixes since v2.20 -----------------

      * Updates for corner cases in merge-recursive. (merge cc4cb0902c en/merge-path-collision later to maint).

      * "git checkout frotz" (without any double-dash) avoids ambiguity by making sure 'frotz' cannot be interpreted as a revision and as a path at the same time. This safety has been updated to check also a unique remote-tracking branch 'frotz' in a remote, when dwimming to create a local branch 'frotz' out of a remote-tracking branch 'frotz' from a remote. (merge be4908f103 nd/checkout-dwim-fix later to maint).

      * Refspecs configured with "git -c var=val clone" did not propagate to the resulting repository, which has been corrected. (merge 7eae4a3ac4 sg/clone-initial-fetch-configuration later to maint).

      * A properly configured username/email is required under user.useConfigOnly in order to create commits; now "git stash" (even though it creates commit objects to represent stash entries) command is exempt from the requirement. (merge 3bc2111fc2 sd/stash-wo-user-name later to maint).

      * The http-backend CGI process did not correctly clean up the child processes it spawns to run upload-pack etc. when it dies itself, which has been corrected. (merge 02818a98d7 mk/http-backend-kill-children-before-exit later to maint).

      * "git rev-list --exclude-promisor-objects" had to take an object that does not exist locally (and is lazily available) from the command line without barfing, but the code dereferenced NULL. (merge 4cf67869b2 md/list-lazy-objects-fix later to maint).

      * The traversal over tree objects has learned to honor ":(attr:label)" pathspec match, which has been implemented only for enumerating paths on the filesystem. (merge 5a0b97b34c nd/attr-pathspec-in-tree-walk later to maint).

      * BSD port updates. (merge 4e3ecbd439 cb/openbsd-allows-reading-directory later to maint). (merge b6bdc2a0f5 cb/t5004-empty-tar-archive-fix later to maint). (merge 82cbc8cde2 cb/test-lint-cp-a later to maint).

      * Lines that begin with a certain keyword that come over the wire, as well as lines that consist only of one of these keywords, ought to be painted in color for easier eyeballing, but the latter was broken ever since the feature was introduced in 2.19, which has been corrected. (merge 1f67290450 hn/highlight-sideband-keywords later to maint).

      * "git log -G<regex>" looked for a hunk in the "git log -p" patch output that contained a string that matches the given pattern. Optimize this code to ignore binary files, which by default will not show any hunk that would match any pattern (unless textconv or the --text option is in effect, that is). (merge e0e7cb8080 tb/log-G-binary later to maint).

      * "git submodule update" ought to use a single job unless asked, but by mistake used multiple jobs, which has been fixed. (merge e3a9d1aca9 sb/submodule-fetchjobs-default-to-one later to maint).

      * "git stripspace" should be usable outside a git repository, but under the "-s" or "-c" mode, it didn't. (merge 957da75802 jn/stripspace-wo-repository later to maint).

      * Some of the documentation pages formatted incorrectly with Asciidoctor, which have been fixed. (merge b62eb1d2f4 ma/asciidoctor later to maint).

      * The core.worktree setting in a submodule repository should not be pointing at a directory when the submodule loses its working tree (e.g. getting deinit'ed), but the code did not properly maintain this invariant.

      * With zsh, "git cmd path<TAB>" was completed to "git cmd path name" when the completed path has a special character like SP in it, without any attempt to keep "path name" a single filename. This has been fixed to complete it to "git cmd path\ name" just like Bash completion does.

      * The test suite tried to see if it is run under bash, but the check itself failed under some other implementations of shell (notably under NetBSD). This has been corrected. (merge 54ea72f09c sg/test-bash-version-fix later to maint).

      * "git gc" and "git repack" did not close the open packfiles that they found unneeded before removing them, which didn't work on a platform incapable of removing an open file. This has been corrected. (merge 5bdece0d70 js/gc-repack-close-before-remove later to maint).

      * The code to drive GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF command relied on the string returned from getenv() to be non-volatile, which is not true, that has been corrected. (merge 6776a84dae kg/external-diff-save-env later to maint).

      * There were many places the code relied on the string returned from getenv() to be non-volatile, which is not true, that have been corrected. (merge 0da0e9268b jk/save-getenv-result later to maint).

      * The v2 upload-pack protocol implementation failed to honor hidden-ref configuration, which has been corrected. (merge e20b4192a3 jk/proto-v2-hidden-refs-fix later to maint).

      * "git fetch --recurse-submodules" may not fetch the necessary commit that is bound to the superproject, which is getting corrected. (merge be76c21282 sb/submodule-recursive-fetch-gets-the-tip later to maint).

      * "git rebase" internally runs "checkout" to switch between branches, and the command used to call the post-checkout hook, but the reimplementation stopped doing so, which is getting fixed.

      * "git add -e" got confused when the change it wants to let the user edit is smaller than the previous change that was left over in a temporary file. (merge fa6f225e01 js/add-e-clear-patch-before-stating later to maint).

      * "git p4" failed to update a shelved change when there were moved files, which has been corrected. (merge 7a10946ab9 ld/git-p4-shelve-update-fix later to maint).

      * The codepath to read from the commit-graph file attempted to read past the end of it when the file's table-of-contents was corrupt.

      * The compat/obstack code had casts that -Wcast-function-type compilation option found questionable. (merge 764473d257 sg/obstack-cast-function-type-fix later to maint).

      * An obvious typo in an assertion error message has been fixed. (merge 3c27e2e059 cc/test-ref-store-typofix later to maint).

      * In Git for Windows, "git clone \\server\share\path" etc. that uses UNC paths from command line had bad interaction with its shell emulation.

      * "git add --ignore-errors" did not work as advertised and instead worked as an unintended synonym for "git add --renormalize", which has been fixed. (merge e2c2a37545 jk/add-ignore-errors-bit-assignment-fix later to maint).

      * On a case-insensitive filesystem, we failed to compare the part of the path that is above the worktree directory in an absolute pathname, which has been corrected.

      * Asking "git check-attr" about a macro (e.g. "binary") on a specific path did not work correctly, even though "git check-attr -a" listed such a macro correctly. This has been corrected. (merge 7b95849be4 jk/attr-macro-fix later to maint).

      * "git pack-objects" incorrectly used uninitialized mutex, which has been corrected. (merge edb673cf10 ph/pack-objects-mutex-fix later to maint).

      * "git checkout -b <new> [HEAD]" to create a new branch from the current commit and check it out ought to be a no-op in the index and the working tree in normal cases, but there are corner cases that do require updates to the index and the working tree. Running it immediately after "git clone --no-checkout" is one of these cases that an earlier optimization kicked in incorrectly, which has been fixed. (merge 8424bfd45b bp/checkout-new-branch-optim later to maint).

      * "git diff --color-moved --cc --stat -p" did not work well due to funny interaction between a bug in color-moved and the rest, which has been fixed. (merge dac03b5518 jk/diff-cc-stat-fixes later to maint).

      * When GIT_SEQUENCE_EDITOR is set, the command was incorrectly started when modes of "git rebase" that implicitly uses the machinery for the interactive rebase are run, which has been corrected. (merge 891d4a0313 pw/no-editor-in-rebase-i-implicit later to maint).

      * The commit-graph facility did not work when in-core objects that are promoted from unknown type to commit (e.g. a commit that is accessed via a tag that refers to it) were involved, which has been corrected. (merge 4468d4435c sg/object-as-type-commit-graph-fix later to maint).

      * "git fetch" output cleanup. (merge dc40b24df4 nd/fetch-compact-update later to maint).

      * "git cat-file --batch" reported a dangling symbolic link by mistake, when it wanted to report that a given name is ambiguous.

      * Documentation around core.crlf has been updated. (merge c9446f0504 jk/autocrlf-overrides-eol-doc later to maint).

      * The documentation of "git commit-tree" said that the command understands "--gpg-sign" in addition to "-S", but the command line parser did not know about the longhand, which has been corrected.

      * "git rebase -x $cmd" did not reject multi-line command, even though the command is incapable of handling such a command. It now is rejected upfront. (merge c762aada1a pw/rebase-x-sanity-check later to maint).

      * Output from "git help" was not correctly aligned, which has been fixed. (merge 6195a76da4 nd/help-align-command-desc later to maint).

      * The "git submodule summary" subcommand showed shortened commit object names by mechanically truncating them at 7-hexdigit, which has been improved to let "rev-parse --short" scale the length of the abbreviation with the size of the repository. (merge 0586a438f6 sh/submodule-summary-abbrev-fix later to maint).

      * The way the OSX build jobs updates its build environment used the "--quiet" option to "brew update" command, but it wasn't all that quiet to be useful. The use of the option has been replaced with an explicit redirection to the /dev/null (which incidentally would have worked around a breakage by recent updates to homebrew, which has fixed itself already). (merge a1ccaedd62 sg/travis-osx-brew-breakage-workaround later to maint).

      * "git --work-tree=$there --git-dir=$here describe --dirty" did not work correctly as it did not pay attention to the location of the worktree specified by the user by mistake, which has been corrected. (merge c801170b0c ss/describe-dirty-in-the-right-directory later to maint).

      * "git fetch" over protocol v2 that needs to make a second connection to backfill tags did not clear a variable that holds shallow repository information correctly, leading to an access of freed piece of memory.

      * Some errors from the other side coming over smart HTTP transport were not noticed, which has been corrected.

      * Code cleanup, docfix, build fix, etc. (merge 89ba9a79ae hb/t0061-dot-in-path-fix later to maint). (merge d173e799ea sb/diff-color-moved-config-option-fixup later to maint). (merge a8f5a59067 en/directory-renames-nothanks-doc-update later to maint). (merge ec36c42a63 nd/indentation-fix later to maint). (merge f116ee21cd do/gitweb-strict-export-conf-doc later to maint). (merge 112ea42663 fd/gitweb-snapshot-conf-doc-fix later to maint). (merge 1cadad6f65 tb/use-common-win32-pathfuncs-on-cygwin later to maint). (merge 57e9dcaa65 km/rebase-doc-typofix later to maint). (merge b8b4cb27e6 ds/gc-doc-typofix later to maint). (merge 3b3357626e nd/style-opening-brace later to maint). (merge b4583d5595 es/doc-worktree-guessremote-config later to maint). (merge cce99cd8c6 ds/commit-graph-assert-missing-parents later to maint). (merge 0650614982 cy/completion-typofix later to maint). (merge 6881925ef5 rs/sha1-file-close-mapped-file-on-error later to maint). (merge bd8d6f0def en/show-ref-doc-fix later to maint). (merge 1747125e2c cc/partial-clone-doc-typofix later to maint). (merge e01378753d cc/fetch-error-message-fix later to maint). (merge 54e8c11215 jk/remote-insteadof-cleanup later to maint). (merge d609615f48 js/test-git-installed later to maint). (merge ba170517be ja/doc-style-fix later to maint). (merge 86fb1c4e77 km/init-doc-typofix later to maint). (merge 5cfd4a9d10 nd/commit-doc later to maint). (merge 9fce19a431 ab/diff-tree-doc-fix later to maint). (merge 2e285e7803 tz/gpg-test-fix later to maint). (merge 5427de960b kl/pretty-doc-markup-fix later to maint). (merge 3815f64b0d js/mingw-host-cpu later to maint). (merge 5fe81438b5 rj/sequencer-sign-off-header-static later to maint). (merge 18a4f6be6b nd/fileno-may-be-macro later to maint). (merge 99e9ab54ab kd/t0028-octal-del-is-377-not-777 later to maint).

    • Git 2.21 Released With Performance Improvements, Human Date Option
      Git maintainer Junio Hamano has just announced the release of Git v2.21.0 with more than 500 commits since the previous release from more than six dozen developers.

      Git 2.21 continues working on performance improvements for large repositories, a configuration tunable was added to force the HTTP version to use for fetching/pushing, a new --date=human type, introducing a new UTF-16LE-BOM encoding type to use UTF-16 with BOM in little endian byte order, updates to git-multimail, BSD port updates, and dozens of fixes.

    • Most Popular Open Source Projects In Python Programming
      Machine learning and software development make up a large part of all the open-sources projects created with the help of Python. In recent years, these projects caused the creation of many working places for programmers interested in open-source development. Naming the most popular such open-source projects written in Python, it is necessary to mention TensorFlow, Keras, Scikit-learn, Flask, Django, Tornado, Pandas, Kivy, Matplotlib, and the Requests.

    • Most popular programming language frameworks and tools for machine learning
      More than 1,300 people mainly working in the tech, finance and healthcare revealed which machine-learning technologies they use at their firms, in a new O'Reilly survey.

      The list is a mix of software frameworks and libraries for data science favorite Python, big data platforms, and cloud-based services that handle each stage of the machine-learning pipeline.

    • GitLab considers moving to a single Rails codebase by combining the two existing repositories
      The team at GitLab is now considering to move towards a single Rails repository by combining the two existing repositories. Although the GitLab Community Edition code would remain open source and MIT licensed and also the GitLab Enterprise Edition code would remain source available and proprietary.

    • $1.1 billion GitLab hires two new executives as it takes on GitHub and prepares to go public in 2020
      As it prepares to go public in November 2020, $1.1 billion code-sharing startup GitLab announced on Tuesday that it is hiring two new executives into its highest levels of leadership.

      Michael McBride, who was previously at the security company Lookout, is joining GitLab as Chief Revenue Officer. Todd Barr, who was most recently at Red Hat, joins as Chief Marketing Officer.

      "The company grew tremendously," McBride told Business Insider. "We're in a new chapter of growth that is global. We're serving markets all over the world. It's also very horizontal. That scope is a new sort of stage for us."

      McBride and Barr both see challenges ahead for GitLab in terms of competition, as companies like Microsoft's GitHub and Atlassian are delivering similar products. GitLab, like its rivals, helps large teams of programmers all work on the same code at the same time, making it possible to build ever-larger software products.

    • Diving into Merkle Trees

      This is a transcript of my talk on Diving into Merkle Trees that I will give at Lambda Days and ScaleConf Colombia. Slides and video should be up soon!

      Introduced in 1979 by Ralph C. Merkle in his Thesis: Secrecy, Authentications, and Public Key Systems, the Merkle Tree, also known as a binary hash tree, is a data structure used for efficiently summarizing and verifying the integrity of large sets of data enabling users to verify the authenticity of their received responses.


  • Science

    • Are we on the road to civilisation collapse?

      He was right in some respects: civilisations are often responsible for their own decline. However, their self-destruction is usually assisted.

    • One in ten people now use cryptocurrency: Survey

      There are a growing number of businesses now offering cryptocurrency as a payment method, with retailers and food outlets now accepting it. Prices are falling and major sports teams are even partnering with crypto-exchanges. Yet, as people show interest in using cryptocurrency to both invest and spend their money, their funds are vulnerable to being stolen from cryptocurrency wallets, insecure exchanges and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). There have been high profile incidents where sums of up to $530 million worth of digital tokens have been stolen.

    • Age below 20 or above 50 more susceptible to fake news: Report

      An extensive survey based study titled, ‘Countering Misinformation (Fake News) in India’ by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Factly has found that people below the age of 20 or those above the age of 50 are most susceptible to be swayed by fake news.

      The report is based on an extensive survey covering 891 respondents, along with structured interviews of 30 interviewees from the Technology & Internet Service Providers, Government officials, Law Enforcement, Media & Influencers, Fact Checkers, Academia Political Parties.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Generics discuss fallout from major pharma patent cases
      Legislation funded by big pharma' politicians to ban more #generics

    • Agribusiness's secretive plans to unravel food safety and worker protections
      As Congress and the public debate the pros and cons of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), or New NAFTA, behind the scenes and in the shadows transnational corporations are doubling down on their plans to weaken and eliminate public protections through a related entity, the secretive Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC). This little-known council has the mission of promoting trade by “reducing, eliminating or preventing unnecessary regulatory differences” between Canada and the United States. Since the RCC’s inception, agribusiness—including factory-farmed livestock producers, the feed industry, and chemical and pesticide manufacturers and linked transportation businesses—has had a seat at the regulatory cooperation table. Their focus, without exception, has been advocating the scaling back and even elimination of important safety protections in both countries. In the U.S., recommendations made by the RCC feed directly into regulations enacted (or eliminated) by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, among others.

      Cross-border regulatory cooperation activities aimed at eliminating so-called “non-tariff barriers” to trade—standards that can increase the cost of importing products that don’t meet another country’s health and safety protections, or prevent the import altogether—began following the signing of the original NAFTA. Initially, informal working groups were established to harmonize pesticide and other regulations. The RCC was formally created in 2011 by an Executive Order from President Obama, and proceeded to establish work plans to harmonize U.S. and Canadian regulations in 23 policy areas, including meat and plant inspections, food safety, workplace chemicals, chemicals management, rail safety and transport of dangerous goods. The RCC was revitalized in June 2017 by the Trump and Trudeau administrations with a new Memorandum of Understanding.

    • African-American women with HIV often overlooked, under-supported
      The face of HIV in the United States has long been white gay men, even though the epidemic has had a devastating and disproportionate impact on African-American communities.

      This is especially true among women; 60 percent of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in women in 2017 were African-American. Yet, African-American women’s voices are notoriously absent from the national discourse on HIV.

      Largely invisible to a fractured health care system, these women are often breadwinners and matriarchs whose families count on them for support and care.

      Treatments to help people who are HIV-positive manage their illness and survive into older age have improved greatly, yet the unique health needs of African-American women living and aging with HIV – estimated at about 140,000 – are often ignored.

      While many are actively taking medication and receiving care, some do not know their HIV status. After diagnosis, many have difficulties managing their HIV, which can contribute to their other health challenges.

    • Pro-Choice Bills Could Cement Illinois as the Midwest’s Abortion Care Oasis
      Illinois Democrats recently introduced legislation to secure and expand reproductive rights, changes that could have far-reaching effects, as people travel to Illinois to secure abortion care that is difficult to access in neighboring states.

      And one part of that legislation could help providers cope with that influx of out-of-state patients by expanding the number of medical professionals who can provide in-clinic abortion services.

      The two bills proposed last week in the Illinois General Assembly would repeal decades-old statues intended to criminalize abortion providers and require parental notification for minors to receive abortion care. The measures have large Democratic support in the general assembly where Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers.

      “It’s pushing back against a deliberate strategy of the anti-abortion movement of stigmatizing and siloing women’s reproductive health care, and these bills are saying we need to treat reproductive health care like any other health care,” Colleen Connell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, told Rewire.News.

    • Judge in Monsanto Roundup Trial Is Already Hindering Testimony
      Anyone concerned about probable carcinogens in the environment needs to keep an eye on the trial of Edward Hardeman v. Monsanto Company, which begins on February 25, in the Federal District Court in San Francisco. A bellwether for future challenges against the company, the federal court has grouped hundreds of plaintiffs into this multidistrict litigation case. The plaintiffs have sued Monsanto claiming to have contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) after being exposed to Roundup, the company’s glyphosate-based herbicide. While there are an estimated 9,300 lawsuits against the chemical giant because of Roundup, Hardeman will be only the second NHL trial against Monsanto ever.

      Judge Vince Chhabria has already granted an unusual motion by Monsanto to split the Hardeman trial into two phases. Characterized as “unheard of” by the plaintiffs, this way of trying a case is called bifurcation, consisting of a first phase that would have the jury determine if there is a preponderance of scientific evidence that Roundup caused Hardeman’s cancer. If the jury finds this to be true, they will then be allowed to decide if Monsanto knew of and attempted to hide the dangers of Roundup. To do this, they will be shown internal Monsanto documents that reveal how the company ignored or tried to discredit legitimate science and scientists, ghostwrote scientific studies and manipulated regulators. (I saw this evidence firsthand, because I was a juror on the first ever NHL trial, Dwayne Lee Johnson v. Monsanto.)

      Monsanto’s attorneys asked the judge to bifurcate the upcoming trial because they think that jurors will be swayed by the emotions brought forth from seeing the documents exposing systematic corporate malfeasance. This is not the first time Monsanto has inferred that a jury might, or might have, reached a verdict based on emotions.

      After the historic $289 million award to the plaintiff in Dwayne Lee Johnson v. Monsanto on August 10, 2018, defense attorneys asked Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos to toss the jury’s nearly unanimous verdict claiming, in part, that they were “inflamed” by some of the rhetoric in the plaintiff’s closing argument.
    • Paid family leave is an investment in public health, not a handout
      Most Americans – on both sides of the political aisle – say they support paid parental leave. However, we haven’t yet found the political will to make it happen. In part, that’s because the discussion always seems to start with the question, “How do we pay for it?”

      That question goes only halfway, though. As a researcher who focuses on stress and health within families, I believe there’s a more important question to ask: “How do we pay for the lack of parental leave?” In other words, how does the stress of a rapid return to work affect parents, and in turn, cost society as a whole? Recently, I sought to answer this question by delving into research on the many changes that new parents experience in the first weeks, months, and years after the birth of a new child – and the possibility that all these changes might not just compromise children’s well-being, but also put parents’ long-term health at risk.


      I reached out to Stanford economist and family leave policy expert Maya Rossin-Slater to help digest the body of research on health and family leave. Together with developmental neuroscientist Diane Goldenberg, we reviewed existing studies and proposed future directions for research and policy in a recent paper published in American Psychologist.

      Psychologists already know that the transition to parenthood is a high-risk time for mental health problems like anxiety and depression. New parents are about twice as likely to report clinically significant depression as are adults at other life stages.

      Physical health risks may worsen during this time as well. For example, obesity: many mothers gain in excess of physician-recommended weight guidelines during pregnancy, and may struggle to lose this weight after birth. New fathers also gain weight: “Dad bod” is real.

    • Does “Special Ed” Serve Students? Disability Activists Say No.
      As a child born with cerebral palsy in the 1950s, Gail Cartenuto-Cohn had one option when she was old enough to go to school: enroll in an isolated public program specifically for kids with disabilities. There was no interaction with nondisabled kids, and there were just three classrooms: one for kindergarten through second grade, another for grades three through five, and a third for sixth through eighth.

    • As Industry Ramps Up Efforts to Kill Medicare for All, New Tool Shows 'Why We Desperately Need, and Can Absolutely Afford, #SinglePayer'
      They've recently joined to form the Partnership for America's Health Care Future (PAHCF), with Lauren Crawford Shaver, a veteran of Clinton's 2016 campaign, at the helm. Politico previously reported on the coalition, as did The Intercept.

      The group's focus is not on extending healthcare to all Americans but keeping the Affordable Care Act, and with members including powerful groups like the American Medical Association, Federation of American Hospitals, PhRMA, and HCA, PAHCF's "reach is undeniable," as the Times notes. Seeing legislative proposals, such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal's (D-Wash.) Medicare for All Act, fast approaching, the group is ready to "step up the tempo," the Times reports.

      Indeed, last week, it announced a six-figure digital campaign "to inform the American public about ways to protect and strengthen our nation's existing healthcare system, while warning them that a one-size-fits-all health care program—whether called Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in, single-payer or public option, will lead to higher taxes and less patient choice for every American family." A recent analysis, however, showed that a single-payer system would slash healthcare costs, boost systemic efficiency, and expand coverage.

    • ‘These Women’s Lives Mattered’: Nurse Builds Database Of Women Murdered By Men
      In February 2017, a school nurse in this Dallas suburb began counting women murdered by men.

      Seated at her desk, beside shelves of cookbooks, novels and books on violence against women, Dawn Wilcox, 55, scours the internet for news stories of women killed by men in the U.S.

      For dozens of hours each week, she digs through online news reports and obituaries to tell the stories of women killed by lovers, strangers, fathers, sons and stepbrothers, neighbors and tenants.

    • Parents say a Russian pediatrician gave kids fake vaccines and tests for years
      On February 21, several Moscow doctors publicly announced a set of frightening accusations made against one of their colleagues, the pediatrician Yevgeny Likunov. The parents of Likunov’s former patients accused him of fraud: they said the pediatrician forged their children’s test results and gave them fake vaccines either by merely pretending to perform injections or by using an insulin syringe to inject saline solution instead of an actual vaccine. Meduza spoke with Likunov’s colleagues and patients and discovered that he has been deceiving patients for several years, all while hosting talk shows about health and appearing in the news media as a medical expert.

    • Trump Administration Attacks Vital Healthcare in New Rule
      “This rule will be deadly. It will restrict reproductive and sexual rights, putting the lives of all people at significant risk, especially women of color and low-income women who are under-insured or uninsured.

    • Trump Sets Up Abortion Obstacles, Blocking Funds Over Referrals
      The Trump administration on Friday set up new obstacles for women seeking abortions, barring taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from making abortion referrals. The new policy is certain to be challenged in court.

      The final rule released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department also would prohibit federally funded family planning clinics from being housed in the same locations as abortion providers, and require stricter financial separation.

      Clinic staff would still be permitted to discuss abortion with clients, along with other options. However, that would no longer be required.

    • What You Need to Know About Trump’s Attacks on the Federal Family Planning Program
      Reproductive health advocates are bracing themselves for the finalization of the Trump administration’s Title X “domestic gag rule.” The anti-choice policy would ban providers receiving Title X funds from referring patients for abortion services and force abortion providers under the program to physically separate abortion services from other family planning services.

      But what is the Title X family planning program, and why do the administration’s policies threaten access to reproductive health care?

      In order to provide public funding and support to family planning services nationwide, the federal grant program commonly referred to as “Title X” was created as part of the Public Health Service Act, signed into law by Republican President Nixon in 1970. With Title X, Nixon made good on his campaign promise that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”

      Around the 1960s, when courts were ruling to allow the use of contraception in the United States, new research found that access to family planning and contraceptive services could help prevent unplanned pregnancies, according to the Guttmacher Institute. More studies revealed the long-term socioeconomic benefits of preventing unplanned pregnancies and the health benefits of spacing pregnancies. The problem was that access to care was largely determined by income. The first federal grants to address this issue and support family planning services for low-income women came in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty efforts. Nixon’s Title X followed.

  • Security

    • Cyber-Mercenary Groups Shouldn't be Trusted in Your Browser or Anywhere Else

      Browsers rely on this list of authorities, which are trusted to verify and issue the certificates that allow for secure browsing, using technologies like TLS and HTTPS. Certificate Authorities are the basis of HTTPS, but they are also its greatest weakness. Any of the dozens of certificate authorities trusted by your browser could secretly issue a fraudulent certificate for any website (such as or A certificate authority (or other organization, such as a government spy agency,) could then use the fraudulent certificate to spy on your communications with that site, even if it is encrypted with HTTPS. Certificate Transparency can mitigate some of the risk by requiring public logging of all issued certificates, but is not a panacea.

    • This is bad: the UAE's favorite sleazeball cybermercenaries have applied for permission to break Mozilla's web encryption

      Now Darkmatter has applied to Mozilla to become a "Certificate Authority," which means they'd get the ability to produce cryptographically signed certificates that were trusted by default by Firefox and its derivatives, giving them the power to produce cyberweapons that could break virtually any encrypted web session (though Certificate Transparency might expose them if they're careless about it).

      And since Moz's root of trust is used to secure Linux updates, this could affect literally billions of operating systems.

    • Spectre is here to stay: An analysis of side-channels and speculative execution

      As a result of our work, we now believe that speculative vulnerabilities on today's hardware defeat all language-enforced confidentiality with no known comprehensive software mitigations, as we have discovered that untrusted code can construct a universal read gadget to read all memory in the same address space through side-channels.

    • Experts Find Serious Problems With Switzerland's Online Voting System Before Public Penetration Test Even Begins

      The public penetration test doesn’t begin until next week, but experts who examined leaked code for the Swiss internet voting system say it’s poorly designed and makes it difficult to audit the code for security and configure it to operate securely.

    • A Decryption Key for Law Firm Emails in Hacked 9/11 Files Has Been Released

      The release of the files was part of an extortion scheme against The Dark Overlord’s hacking victims, and followed the group’s established technique of stealing information and then approaching media outlets with the files in an attempt to exert further pressure on the group’s targets. The Dark Overlord also distributed a set of encrypted folders, ready to be unlocked at a later date, and which they claimed contained more 9/11-linked material.

      Now, around two months after the first data dump, someone has released another encryption key for the third layer of stolen material, which appears to contain thousands of emails, at least some of which are between different law firms.

    • B0r0nt0K Ransomware Wants $75,000 Ransom, Infects Linux Servers [Ed: This is misleading. This relies on the servers being compromised some way else.]
      A new ransomware called B0r0nt0K is encrypting victim's web sites and demanding a 20 bitcoin, or approximately $75,000, ransom. This ransomware is known to infect Linux servers, but may also be able to encrypt users running Windows.

      In a BleepingComputer forum post, a user stated that a client's web site was encrypted with the new B0r0nt0K Ransomware. This encrypted web site was running on Ubuntu 16.04 and had all of its files encrypted, renamed, and had the .rontok extension appended to them.

    • New backdoor Trojan affecting Linux servers [Ed: This, again, relies on the server already being cracked.]

    • Securing Container Images in the DevOps World
      According to 451 Research, the application container market will experience significant growth over the next five years. In its “2017 Cloud-Enabling Technologies Market Monitor & Forecast report,” the research firm noted that “annual revenue is expected to increase by 4x, growing from $749m in 2016 to more than $3.4bn by 2021, representing a CAGR of 35%.”

      Automating deployment is a must-have capability for SMBs and enterprises. Leveraging container automation has reshaped how quickly and effectively an organization can leverage internal and external virtual environments.

    • Will This Vulnerability Finally Compel Bitmain to Open Source Its Firmware?
      As if Bitmain’s year hasn’t been rough enough, having posted big losses and laying off entire departments, its flagship product now has a firmware vulnerability.

      A few weeks ago, Bitcoin Core contributor James Hilliard discovered an exploit in Bitmain’s S15 firmware. The pseudonymous Twitter user 00whiterabbit, also known simply as “john,” subsequently wrote exploit code based on Hilliard’s findings. A video proving that the exploit code worked was shared on Hilliard’s Twitter account last week.

      Hilliard is offering to disclose the vulnerability to Bitmain but under one condition: Bitmain would have to comply to the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL), the popular open source license that the Chinese mining giant is currently breaching, and open source its firmware.

    • Deep dive into Electrum hack reveals 70% of network was controlled by attackers

    • Pragmatic Political Campaign Security

      Election campaigns cannot exist without money. Being robbed blind is an existential threat to a campaign. This is actually a counterintuitive point for information security professionals. To cripple a candidate’s campaign it’s easier to just steal their money, rather than craft an effective information operation. The 419 hackers who just want to take the money are a very real risk (they target everyone, even small campaigns), and actually present an existential threat.

    • Google Says Spectre Flaws Cannot Be Defeated By Software Alone

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 135 - Passwords, AI, and cloud strategy
      Josh and Kurt talk about change your password day (what a terrible day). Google's password checkup (not a terrible idea), an AI finding new spice flavors we expect will one day take over the world, and we finish up on a new DoD cloud strategy. Also Josh burnt his finger, but is going to be OK.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • From Karl Lagerfeld to George H. W. Bush: When Is It "Too Soon" to Criticize the Dead?
      The passing of legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has once again raised the question: “When is it too soon to publicly discuss the less-than-positive legacy of a dead person?”

      To me, the answer depends on a single factor: How much power the person wielded in life. The more powerful the individual, the more influence they had on the world around them, the more their words and deeds are fair game to be raised, discussed and analyzed. And, let us be clear: I do not mean salacious details about the private life of the dead, or some minor social infractions. I mean actions and public statements that were of broad social significance

      The same day it was announced that former US President George H. W. Bush had died, I tweeted out the fact that, as the former head of the CIA, Bush had overseen the support of military dictators in Latin America who had murdered, in the most horrific fashion, thousands of innocent civilians. This tweet was spurred by the spread on Twitter of a letter Bush had left in the Oval Office for then-incoming President Bill Clinton, a letter many on the social media platform held up as evidence of both Bush’s fundamental decency and the loss of civility in US politics in an age of Trump. Such a definition, I tweeted, would likely strike the families of those killed with the support of the CIA as somewhat ironic, if not perverse.

    • Dreaming Their Sweet Dreams: a Peace to End Peace
      The setting for Margaret MacMillan’s lecture “Making peace is harder than waging war” could not have been better. Held in the Ottawa war museum’s lower floor, the LeBreton Gallery, one is enclosed in, surrounded by WW II bulky Canadian tanks and scary heavy artillery. Looking up, one cannot miss a Canadian jet ready to explode into space. Upstairs, the haunting “Victory 1918: the last hundred days” in the last days of its exhibit.

      Margaret MacMillan is a tall, regal women who has, rightly so, established herself as one of the world’s leading historians of the first world war and the peace talks in Paris, 1919. Her award-winning book, Paris 1919: six months that shook the world (2001) sweeps us into the multiple worlds of the Paris peace conference. A world teeming with plots and parties, proposals and counterproposals about, as it turned out, how the British and French empires ought to divvy up the smashed-up world map of 1914 and subvert Woodrow Wilson’s endless plotting to create a league of nations. MacMillan’s lecture theme—the conditions of peace were not present for peace to occur—startles us out of any dreams of war-no-more coming soon to a nearby theatre.

      In fact, Kant’s famous short text, “Perpetual peace: a philosophical sketch,” penned in 1795, offered humankind a profound statement of what conditions had to be present for perpetual peace to come. Gripped by a sense of war’s horrors, Kant thought that if we could not create a league of nations that constrained war, we would “destroy each other and thus find perpetual peace in the vast grave that swallows both the atrocities and their perpetrators.” WW I was a vast grave that swallowed up 9.7 million military personnel and 10 million civilians. What would Kant have thought 125 years down the road? Does his ghost hover over all discussions of a world of unity and peace beyond nation-state self-interest and contestation—whispering encouragement in the collective ear?

    • Who Was Behind the Plan to Give Saudi Arabia Nuclear Power, and What Was Their Agenda? — “Trump, Inc.” Extra
      For a year, “Trump, Inc.” has been digging into the 2017 inauguration. That reporting led us to look closely at the man Donald Trump picked to run the event, Tom Barrack, a wealthy businessman who’s been friends with Trump for decades.

      As we were finishing our Barrack episode — just out this week — the House Oversight Committee released a report detailing how the Trump administration pursued a plan to export nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

    • Twenty-First Century Indian Wars
      The American war against its indigenous people is incessant, interminable and indefensible. From the Pequot Wars blessed by the English Puritan John Winthrop to the present day destruction of native culture and community in the name of resource extraction, there are very few episodes in human history more bloody, brutal and relentless. The recent attempts by indigenous Americans to defend their lands and culture against the rapacious designs of the energy industry on Canada and the United States exist as blatant reminders of this history. When members of various indigenous nations represented their peoples (along with allies) in the Idle No More protests that began in Canada in 2014, the response from the authorities was swift, occasionally brutal, and mostly dismissive of the native people’s claims and demands. A very similar scenario played out in the US Midwest during the direct actions against the DAPL pipeline at Standing Rock.

      Nick Estes, author of Our History is the Future, makes this very clear. Given the history of their treatment at the hands of the European invaders and their descendants, Estes’ book title takes on a double meaning. The history of genocide is as much a potential future for the Native Americans as is the history of their resistance a hopeful response to the genocidal legacy. A member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and co-founder of The Red Nation, Estes participated in the Standing Rock resistance. It is within the resistance at Standing Rock that Estes bookends his history of indigenous history in North America, especially the land known as the United States.

    • Trump Administration Escalates Regime Change Operation Against Venezuela With ‘Humanitarian Aid’ Delivery Attempt
      The United States government, with the support of Latin American governments in countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Chile, escalated a regime change operation against Venezuela by attempting to force the delivery of “humanitarian aid.”

      Opposition groups targeted three border bridges that Venezuelan government forces had no trouble defending, which was possibly the plan. The spectacle of force deployed to block what much of the world views as legitimate aid would help the opposition stir more sympathy for overthrowing President Nicolas Maduro.

      Trucks carrying aid on the were set on fire on the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge that connects the towns of Cucuta, Colombia, and Urenas, Venezuela, gave the opposition the kind of horrifying imagery it wanted. The blazing trucks were immediately blamed on Venezuela national guard forces.

      “Masked thugs, civilians killed by live rounds, and the burning of trucks carrying badly-needed food and medicine,” John Bolton, national security adviser to President Donald Trump, tweeted. “This has been Maduro’s response to peaceful efforts to help Venezuelans. Countries that still recognize Maduro should take note of what they are endorsing.”

      But it was not exactly clear what happened to the trucks. A number of members of the armed forces defected and crossed the bridge into Colombia. They may have been involved in firing upon the trucks that erupted in flames.

    • What War Films Never Show You
      Critical acclaim has poured in from all corners for the BBC production They Shall Not Grow Old, a technical and emotional masterpiece on the First World War — the war Woodrow Wilson said would “make the world safe for democracy.”

      The way the film brings old footage, and therefore the soldiers, to life is almost magical and powerfully moving. But because of how director Peter Jackson defined his film, a critical element is virtually invisible: the wounded.

      Jackson distilled the stories of 120 veterans who spoke on some 600 hours of BBC audio tape done in the 1960s and ‘70s. His goal was to have “120 men telling a single story…what it was like being a British soldier on the Western Front.” He artfully presents it, using no narration other than the archive of BBC interviews.

      But since dead men tell no tales, nor do the severely wounded often live into their 70s and 80s, the film narrows its focus to the camaraderie and adventures of young men growing up with shared experiences of tinned rations, trench life, and rats. The dead flit across the screen in graphic but limited numbers of colorized photos of corpses.

      The wounded receive mute witness with brief footage of gas attacks, and a classic photo of seven British troops carrying one wounded comrade through the knee-deep mud of Passchendaele.

      Jackson’s team brilliantly turned herky-jerky, silent, monochrome youths into breathing, talking, living color, with compelling stories. But because of his cinematic goal, this assured award-winner misses the depth of feeling and realism it could have projected by giving similar treatment to the agony of the wounded.

    • 'We Refuse to Create Technology for Warfare and Oppression': Microsoft Workers Demand Company End Army Contract
      Declaring to chief executives that they refuse "to become war profiteers," a group of Microsoft workers on Friday demanded the company cancel a contract with the U.S. Army that they say would "help people kill" and turn warfare into a "video game."

      Their open letter is addressed to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and president and chief legal officer Brad Smith, and, according to the "Microsoft Workers 4 Good" Twitter handle, which posted the document, it got over employee 100 signatures in its first day.

    • How Kushner and other Key Trump Officials Plotted to Give Saudis the Atom Bomb in Return for Billions
      The House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform has issued a Report on a plot to make billions of dollars by selling Saudi Arabia sensitive American nuclear technology that could allow the Kingdom to develop nuclear weapons. The scheme required breaking US law, which forbids technology transfers that might allow nuclear proliferation.

      The plot was pushed by a “company” formed for this express purpose called IP3 International, which doesn’t seem to have actually existed except as a sort of shell for lobbying the Trump administration. IP3 was, according to the committee, helmed by “General Keith Alexander, General Jack Keane, Mr. Bud McFarlane, and Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt, as well as the chief executives of six companies— Exelon Corporation, Toshiba America Energy Systems, Bechtel Corporation, Centrus Energy Corporation, GE Energy Infra structure, and Siemens USA—“ All “signed a letter to Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The letter presented ‘the Iron Bridge Program as a 21st Century Marshall Plan for the Middle East.'”

    • Warning 'Every Option Is On the Table,' Pompeo Stokes Fears of Military Force in Venezuela
      Unrest and fears of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela continued on Sunday as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated the Trump administration's warning that "every option is on the table" and that it would galvanize a "global coalition to put force behind the voice" of those calling for the ouster of President Nicolás Maduro.

      Pompeo made the comments on "Fox News Sunday" hours after he tweeted that the "U.S. will take action against those who oppose the peaceful restoration of democracy in #Venezuela," an apparent reference to those who do not back a regime change to opposition leader and self-declared acting president Juan Guaido.

    • ICJ Delivers Chagos Advisory Opinion, UK Loses Badly
      Earlier this afternoon the ICJ delivered its Chagos advisory opinion. Briefly, the Court found that the separation of the Chagos archipelago from the British colony of Mauritius was contrary to the right to self-determination and that accordingly the decolonization of Mauritius was not completed in conformity with international law. As a consequence, the Court found that the UK’s continuing administration of the archipelago, which includes the largest US naval base in the Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia, is a continuing internationally wrongful act, which the UK was under an obligation to cease as soon as possible. The Court was almost unanimous – its decision not to exercise discretion and decline giving an opinion was made by 12 votes to 1, while its findings on the merits were made by 13 votes to 1 (Judge Donoghue dissenting). The AO and the various separate opinions is available here.

      Here are some key takeaways.

      First, on the issue of the exercise of discretion/propriety to give an opinion, the key issue here was whether, in answering the questions posed by the General Assembly the Court would be effectively deciding on a bilateral dispute between states over territorial sovereignty, which one of them (the UK) did not consent to (for more background on this issue see Dapo’s earlier post here). Here Judge Tomka joined Judge Donoghue in thinking that the Court should have declined giving an opinion, consistently with his prior position in the Kosovo AO. The Court effectively gets around this problem by labeling the advisory proceedings as being about decolonization, an issue in which the UNGA has a longstanding interest, rather than about sovereignty. Technically, the Court is right, except that its finding on the illegality of the decolonization process inevitably impacts on the British sovereignty over Chagos – either the UK really has no sovereignty over the islands at all, or it is the sovereign but is obliged to relinquish that sovereignty to Mauritius as soon as practicable. The situation is comparable to some extent to the South China Sea arbitration, in which the arbitral tribunal technically avoids issues of sovereignty but by deciding on the nature of certain maritime features, and their (in)ability to project maritime areas, it effectively completely demolishes China’s claim to these areas.

    • How Britain forcefully depopulated a whole archipelago
      There are times when one tragedy tells us how a whole system works behind its democratic facade and helps us understand how much of the world is run for the benefit of the powerful and how governments often justify their actions with lies.

      In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the British government of Harold Wilson expelled the population of the Chagos Islands, a British colony in the Indian Ocean, to make way for an American military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island. In high secrecy, the Americans offered the British payment for the islands in the form of a discount on the Polaris nuclear submarine system.

      The truth of this conspiracy did not emerge for another 20 years when secret official files were unearthed at the Public Record Office in London by lawyers acting for the former inhabitants of the coral archipelago. Historian Mark Curtis described the enforced depopulation in Web of Deceit, his 2003 book about Britain's post-war foreign policy.

      The British media all but ignored it; the Washington Post called it a "mass kidnapping".

      I first heard of the plight of the Chagossians in 1982, during the Falklands War. Britain had sent a fleet to the aid of 2,000 Falkland Islanders at the other end of the world while another 2,000 British citizens from islands in the Indian Ocean had been expelled by British governments and hardly anyone knew.

      The difference was that the Falkland Islanders were white and the Chagossians were black and, crucially, the United States wanted the Chagos Islands - especially Diego Garcia - as a major military base from which to command the Indian Ocean.

      The Chagos was a natural paradise. The 1,500 islanders were self-sufficient with an abundance of natural produce, and there was no extreme weather. There were thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a railway and an undisturbed way of life - until a secret 1961 Anglo-American survey of Diego Garcia led to the expulsion of the entire population.

    • The Banality of Empire
      This month freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar questioned Trump’s nominee for envoy to Venezuela, Elliot Abrams. While her interrogation was somewhat tepid in regard to American imperialism (she said “no one disputes” that the US goal has always been to support democracy and defend human rights), she did bring up the role of the US in the massacres in El Salvador in the 1980s. Massacres in which Abrams is implicated. It was also instructive in that it provided a visual to how deeply debased the American political landscape actually is. Abrams is a Presidential pardoned liar who provided cover for some of the most heinous war crimes of the 20th century. That he has reemerged again to lead a coup against the democratically elected government of yet another Latin American country is testament to the banality of American Empire and how uninterested it is in its own history or unending brutality and corruption.

      The history of US imperialism in this region, like so many others around the world, is one drenched in blood. In 1954 a mercenary army hired by the United Fruit Company and assisted by the US government staged a military coup which overthrew the democratically elected, reform oriented, government of Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas was installed as the new president of Guatemala and thus began a military dictatorship that would span the latter half of the 20th century. The indigenous Maya of the country had long been viewed as sub-human by the ruling, Spanish descended, elite, a supremacist stain that remains to this day. Some Mayans and others protested their oppression under this neo-fuedalistic tyranny, but all Mayans were collectively punished, culminating in a multi-stage genocide that took the lives of at least 200,000 people and created millions of refugees. It was a presage to the current migrant crisis in North America.

      Israel was also complicit in the genocide, supplying arms and training mercenaries. In fact General Rios Montt, the military general who is largely blamed for directing the genocide, gave his personal thanks to both the US and Israel for assisting him conducting the systematic rape, torture and slaughter of the country’s indigenous population. Trained at the infamous School of the Americas Montt, who died in April of last year, was an evangelical Christian minister and a personal friend of ultra-conservative televangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. This is instructive since we now have Christian dominionists like Pence and Pompeo at the helm. Montt was also unquestioningly supported and praised by President Ronald Reagan. “President Ríos Montt,” Reagan said, “is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.”

    • The Coup Has Failed and Now the US Is Looking to Wage War in Venezuela
      Venezuela’s opposition is calling on the United States and allied nations to consider using military force to topple the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is heading to Bogotá, Colombia, today to meet with regional leaders and Venezuela’s self-proclaimed president, opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The meeting follows a dramatic weekend that saw the Venezuelan military blocking the delivery of so-called humanitarian aid from entering the country at the Colombian and Brazilian borders. At least four people died, and hundreds were injured, after clashes broke out between forces loyal to Maduro and supporters of the opposition. The United Nations, the Red Cross and other relief organizations have refused to work with the U.S. on delivering aid to Venezuela, which they say is politically motivated. Venezuela has allowed aid to be flown in from Russia and from some international organizations, but it has refused to allow in aid from the United States, describing it as a Trojan horse for an eventual U.S. invasion. On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Maduro’s days in office are numbered. We speak with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, who has recently held secret talks with Trump’s special envoy Elliott Abrams.

    • Britain’s Paintball Strategist
      The eyebrow-raising was not surprising, because Williamson was referring specifically to President Macron, which is not exactly what diplomacy and international relations are all about. But Williamson is not content with insulting and threatening Britain’s allies in the European Union. He goes further afield, such as when he declared last year that “Frankly, Russia should go away and should shut up,” which was probably the most fatuously immature statement by a British defense minister since the post was created in 1936.

      In a speech to the Royal United Services Institute on February 11 he rejoiced that Britain’s Brexit calamity provided an opportunity to demonstrate military prowess. He told his audience that “Brexit has brought us to a moment. A great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality, and increase our mass.”

      Williamson has decided that Britain’s armed forces will be sent around the world because “the UK is a global power with truly global interests” and “wherever I go in the world I find that Britain stands tall.”

      Please stop laughing.

      The uncomfortable but undeniable truth is that Britain is not a global power, or anywhere near one, and that if Williamson imagines that Britain “stands tall” around the world he has a serious problem with comprehending height and foreign sentiment.

      It’s what might be called the paintball mentality.

    • Another Russian federal agent is attacked in the street
      Someone in Moscow walked up to a federal agent on February 24, punched him in the face, and stole his wallet. According to the Moskva news agency, the 41-year-old victim serves as a Federal Security Service (FSB) local department chief in Khabarovsk. He says the attacker ran away with his badge, bank card, and 24,000 rubles (about $370) in cash. Local police are still trying to identify the assailant.

      Earlier in February, unknown men in Moscow attacked FSB Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Budagotsky, throwing a bottle at his service vehicle and then beating him up. Budagotsky serves in the agency’s “Department K,” which investigates economic crimes.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Endangered Wildlife Are Getting Dosed With Rat Poisons
      People who consider rodents to be pests often turn to an array of products, known as anticoagulant rodenticides, which are marketed to lethally “solve” the issue with poisoned bait. But researchers have been collecting evidence for years showing that it’s not just nuisance rats that can end up dead.

      Some of the most recent studies, conducted in California, found that everything from Pacific fishers to bobcats to northern spotted owls often become victims of rodenticides. The list of potentially affected wildlife is long — basically anything that preys on a rodent could be at risk, because the poisons are so toxic they travel up the food chain, and in some cases, can remain in an animal’s body for years. It can even leapfrog in utero from one generation to the next.

      “If you have a very poisoned rat, you’re going to have a very poisoned hawk,” says Kelle Kacmarcik, director of wildlife solutions and advocacy at WildCare, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Marin County, California.

      And that’s a huge problem.

    • "Realists" Are Courting Global Devastation
      In a recent confrontation with representatives of the Sunrise Movement, Senator Diane Feinstein referred to herself as a “realist” when challenged to support the Green New Deal.

      She’s not alone. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi referred to the GND as a dream, and nearly every article about it alludes to it being unrealistic, while the pundits pile on with charges of political doom for the Dems if they support it.

      Ponder this for a moment. We are faced with a planet wrecking problem – something that, if left unchecked, could literally lead to the deaths of billions of people, the extinction of nearly half of all species, and the destruction of the ecological systems which allowed for the development of civilization – and the people who want to do something about it are labelled unrealistic, and those who advocate ineffective half-measures are considered “realists.”

      This tells us a great deal about the state of our politics, and none of it is good.

      For starters, it tells us that our entire political process has been overtaken by monied interests. The Constitution and its principles have been discarded in exchange for campaign funds and a revolving door that allows politicians to cash in on public service.

    • The Hard Lessons of Dianne Feinstein’s Encounter with the Young Green New Deal Activists
      One imagines that Senator Dianne Feinstein would like a do-over of her colloquy with some young people on Friday afternoon. A group of school students, at least one as young as seven, went to the senator’s San Francisco office to ask her to support the Green New Deal climate legislation. In a video posted online by the Sunrise Movement, she tells them that the resolution isn’t a good one, because it can’t be paid for, and the Republicans in the Senate won’t support it. She adds that she is at work on her own resolution, which she thinks could pass. Then, when the group persists in supporting the Green New Deal, which was introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Feinstein responds, “You know what’s interesting about this group? I’ve been doing this for thirty years. I know what I’m doing. You come in here and you say, ‘It has to be my way or the highway.’ I don’t respond to that. I’ve gotten elected, I just ran, I was elected by almost a million-vote plurality,” she continued. “And I know what I’m doing. So, you know, maybe people should listen a little bit.”

      Well, maybe. But Feinstein was, in fact, demonstrating why climate change exemplifies an issue on which older people should listen to the young. Because—to put it bluntly—older generations will be dead before the worst of it hits. The kids whom Feinstein was talking to are going to be dealing with climate chaos for the rest of their lives, as any Californian who has lived through the past few years of drought, flood, and fire must recognize.

      This means that youth carry the moral authority here, and, at the very least, should be treated with the solicitousness due a generation that older ones have managed to screw over. Feinstein’s condescension, though it’s less jarring in the video of the full encounter, which also shows gracious moments—including one when she offers a young person an internship—echoed that of Nancy Pelosi, from earlier this month, when the Speaker of the House talked about “the green dream, or whatever they call it. Nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”

    • The Kids Might Save Us All
      I became involved in climate advocacy when I realized how dramatically my son’s life would be affected by climate change if we don’t do anything. He was three years old when I started to imagine what his world would be like when he graduates from school, when he gets his first job, when he wants to start a family, and when he’s ready to retire. In different ways, the impacts of climate change will affect all of these moments. Climate change will disproportionately affect my kid’s generation, and all future generations. And that terrifies me. I want my little boy to inherit a beautiful, healthy world — not just to grow up in, but also to grow old in. There are a lot of other issues I care about, but if we don’t address climate change, and soon, the rest won’t matter. At first I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do with my outrage and my worries. But I was lucky enough to meet like-minded individuals who were already fighting for a healthy planet and a hopeful future for humanity. Together we founded a local climate advocacy group and organized our first annual climate rally in Northern Virginia.

    • Newly Uncovered Documents Show Pruitt Spent Nearly $900,000 on Personal Security for Travel

    • Green New Deal Is Feasible and Affordable
      There are three main ideas of the Green New Deal Resolution introduced by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey.

      The first is to decarbonize the US energy system -- that is, to end the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning coal, oil and natural gas, in order to stop global warming.

      The second is to guarantee lower-cost, high-quality health coverage for all.

      The third is to ensure decent jobs and living standards for all Americans, in part by making colleges and vocational schools affordable for all.

      The right wing and corporate lobbies are already hyperventilating: It is unachievable; it will bankrupt us; it will make us into Venezuela.

      These claims are dead wrong. The Green New Deal agenda is both feasible and affordable. This will become clear as the agenda is turned into specific legislation for energy, health care, higher education, and more.

      The Green New Deal combines ideas across several parts of the economy because the ultimate goal is sustainable development. That means an economy that delivers a package deal: good incomes, social fairness, and environmental sustainability. Around the world, governments are aiming for the same end -- a "triple-bottom line" of economic, social, and environmental objectives.

    • In the Arctic Refuge, a Life Force Hangs in the Balance
      A lot has been written lately about the possibility of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

      This is hardly new. In 2001, as George W. Bush and his Interior Secretary Gail Norton were pushing to open up the Refuge, a photographer friend and I flew from the Canning River at the western edge of the Refuge to Prudhoe Bay. In 60 miles, we’d traveled from the largest protected wilderness area in the United States to one of the largest industrial complexes in the world, measuring over 200,000 acres.

      Prudhoe Bay resembled Gary, Indiana in the 1980s, its giant stacks coughing smoke and fire. It was a stark reminder that wilderness and oil have long had an uneasy relationship in Alaska.

      Although politicians and oil companies have been trying to get at the Refuge’s reserves for decades, their most recent attempt might be the most daring.

    • The fight to #StopTMX continues as feds approve their own pipeline
      The NEB’s new report focused on the impacts of marine shipping (including on the highly endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales) which was excluded from the original review. It was one of the 2 factors that caused the Federal Court of Appeal to quash the pipeline’s approvals and permits in their August 2018 ruling. The other was the inadequate consultation with affected First Nations, which the government says it is addressing through a new round of consultations that began in October.

      The new report states that the proposed project will have significant “adverse environmental effects" on orcas and Indigenous culture, significant climate pollution, and significant damage in the event of a worst-case oil spill, and recommends approval in the face of these. Alongside the approval, the report recommends 16 conditions aiming to better protect marine life.

      This report delivery also technically starts the clock on a 90-day deadline for Trudeau's cabinet to decide whether the project will proceed, but this is something officials are already signalling could be pushed back.

      Earlier this week, the National Energy Board (NEB) also rejected a motion supported by environmental groups, First Nations, municipal governments, and community groups to include climate impacts in its new review of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMX). The motion was asking the NEB to adopt the same climate impact standards it had already adopted for Energy East, that were a key factor in TransCanada finally abandoning the project.

    • After 40 Years of Government Inaction on Climate, Have We Finally Turned a Corner?
      In 2015, 21 young people sued the U.S. government for promoting the fossil fuel industry even when it was aware of the dangers of climate change. In Juliana v. United States, the youths accused the government of endangering their future well-being thereby violating the government’s public trust responsibility and their constitutional rights.

      The U.S. government has repeatedly tried to stop this case from moving to trial. Courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have denied or refused to rule on government challenges. The case is currently before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on yet another motion to dismiss.

      The suit centers on whether the government actively promoted the use of fossil fuels despite being aware of evidence that such action endangered the future of the planet. The youths, represented by the nonprofit Our Children’s Trust, retained experts to contribute supporting reports for the suit, including from environmental lawyer and climate policy expert James Gustave Speth. He reviewed what each administration from Carter to Trump knew about climate change and alternative energy and what actions were taken. Speth concluded in his report, which was filed in 2018, that every administration “continued full-throttle support for the development and use of fossil fuels.” This pattern is “the greatest dereliction of civic responsibility in the history of the Republic,” he wrote.

    • 'Stop Funding Climate Change!': Jamie Dimon Interrupted for Important Planetary Message
      Climate activists interrupted JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on Saturday to make a clear demand: "Stop funding climate change!"

      Dimon was the key speaker at a morning session of the National Governors Association's (NGA) annual winter meeting, taking place in Washington, D.C. The session (pdf) was to "offer governors unique insights into the intersection of public policy and the modern economy."

      As Dimon was speaking, activists affiliated with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the D.C. chapter of rose to ask, "How is [climate change] not one of your policy priorities?" and repeatedly said, "Jamie Dimon, stop funding climate change!"

      Dimon continued to talk over the activists, who stood and held a banner reading, "Chase: Stop profiting off dirty energy and rights abuses."

    • Can YouTube Solve Its Serious Climate Science Denial Problem?
      “Will the temperature resume an upward trend? Will it remain flat for a lengthy period? Or will it begin to drop? No one knows, not even the biggest, fastest computers.”

      The video — with the clickbait title “What They Haven’t Told You about Climate Change” — has been watched more than 2.5 million times on the Google-owned video platform.

    • Vandana Shiva: We Must Fight Back Against the 1 Percent to Stop the Sixth Mass Extinction
      New research 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. A report released earlier this month by the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment warns rising temperatures in the Himalayas could lead to mass population displacements, 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 a billion-and-a-half people depend on the rivers that flow from the Himalayan peaks. We speak with world-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr. Vandana Shiva about climate change, seed sovereignty and her new book, “Oneness vs. the 1%.” Shiva is an Indian scholar, physicist, and food sovereignty and seed freedom advocate. She was was born in Doon Valley in the Himalayan foothills.

    • Extinction Rebellion
      There is one desperate chance left to thwart the impending ecocide and extinction of the human species. We must, in wave after wave, carry out nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to shut down the capitals of the major industrial countries, crippling commerce and transportation, until the ruling elites are forced to publicly state the truth about climate catastrophe, implement radical measures to halt carbon emissions by 2025 and empower an independent citizens committee to oversee the termination of our 150-year binge on fossil fuels. If we do not do this, we will face mass death.

      The British-based group Extinction Rebellion has called for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience on April 15 in capitals around the world to reverse our “one-way track to extinction.” I do not know if this effort will succeed. But I do know it is the only mechanism left to force action by the ruling elites, who, although global warming has been well documented for at least three decades, have refused to carry out the measures needed to protect the planet and the human race. These elites, for this reason alone, are illegitimate. They must be replaced.

      “It is our sacred duty to rebel in order to protect our homes, our future, and the future of all life on Earth,” Extinction Rebellion writes. This is not hyperbolic. We have, as every major climate report states, very little time left. Indeed, it may already be too late.

      In Britain, Extinction Rebellion has already demonstrated its clout, blocking roads, occupying government departments and amassing 6,000 people to shut down five of London’s bridges last Nov. 17. Scores of arrests were made. But it was just the warm-up act. In April, the group hopes, the final assault will begin.

  • Finance

    • Cowboy Welfare
      The Federal Government just reduced its grazing fee to $1.35 an AUM for ranchers with grazing privileges on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service lands. Grazing on other public lands According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service is often higher as is grazing on private lands that typically runs $22.60 an AUM or more.

      Furthermore, the price of grazing privileges on public lands has not kept up with inflation. The current formula for setting grazing fees was established in 1966 when the cost per AUM was $1.26. If you adjust for inflation, the minimal cost should be $9.47.

      Compounding this already subsidized cost is that since 1966, the average cow and calf are considerably larger, and require more forage. As a result, an AUM or the amount of vegetation needed to sustain a cow and calf in 1966 is now considerably less, but most grazing allotments have not been adjusted to reflect these changes in the size (appetite) of cattle.

      Due to failure to keep up with inflation, the price paid to graze on public lands is estimated by one 2015 study to be more than a billion dollars annually and covers only 7% of the real costs of administrating these lands.

    • New York Times Provides Cover for Austerity Cranks
      It’s not uncommon to read news stories that quite explicitly identify economic mismanagement. For example, news reports on the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe routinely (and correctly) attribute the cause to the poor economic management by its leaders. We will see similar attributions of mismanagement to a wide range of developing countries.

      One place we will never see the term mismanagement or any equivalent term applied is in reference to the austerity imposed on the euro zone countries by the European Commission, acting largely at the direction of the German government. In fact, major news outlets, like the New York Times, seem to go out of their way to deny the incredible harm done to euro zone economies, and to the lives of tens of millions of people in these countries, as a result of needless austerity.

      A decade ago, it would at least have been an arguable point as to whether austerity, meaning budget cuts, in the wake of the Great Recession, was reasonable policy. There was some research suggesting that the boost to confidence from lower budget deficits could spur enough investment and consumption to offset the impact on demand of reductions in government spending.

      Since then, however, we have far more evidence on the impact of deficit reduction in the context of an economy coming out of recession. There have been numerous studies, most importantly several from the International Monetary Fund’s research department, which show that lower deficits in this context slow growth and raise unemployment.
    • What’s behind the teacher strikes: Unions focus on social justice, not just salaries
      For the past few years I’ve been studying teacher unions and teachers strikes throughout the Americas. My research has taken me from the Mexican state of Oaxaca – where teacher protests in 2006 led to both violent repression and a broad-based social movement for direct democracy – to the streets of São Paulo, Brazil, to coal-mining towns in West Virginia.

      I’ve learned that certain conditions prompt teacher unions to adopt new forms of activism and take up broader issues of social justice that go beyond how much teachers are paid.

      Now is such a time in the United States.
    • Why Bay Area Tech Workers Should Support the Oakland Teachers
      As Bay Area tech workers and activists, we see clearly that the struggles faced by tech workers are fundamentally connected with those faced by the teachers who are on strike in Oakland.

      When one section of the working class fights and wins, it raises the hopes and expectations for all working people. Now that the strike wave that swept through Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona is coming to Silicon Valley’s own backyard, it’s time for us to show up, support the striking teachers and learn from their struggle.

      Many of the social and economic forces that are impacting teachers also directly impact tech workers.

      The already sky-high cost of housing means that even relatively well-paid tech workers (who are not the majority of tech workers) spend a significant portion of each paycheck on renting a place to live. The striking teachers point out that Oakland rents have increased 32 percent since 2014, and wages have not risen at the same pace.

      There are other ways the teachers’ struggle impacts workers in tech. Educators are having a harder time doing their jobs, which means that raising a family in the Bay Area becomes a choice between scrambling for access to better schools or sending the kids to private or charter schools (schools that are run privately but receive state funding).

    • ‘Serial Forger of Documents’ Craig Wright Attempts to Patent Smart Contracts for Bitcoin
    • Neil deMause on Amazon’s Retreat, Nina Besser Doorley on Women’s Healthcare Restrictions
      This week on CounterSpin: Corporate media aren’t in the business of challenging the idea that corporations are benevolent social actors who bring benefits to the communities lucky enough to have them. So even if Amazon didn’t own a major newspaper, there was no reason to expect much by way of deep media criticism of the company’s search for a second “HQ”—even as that led to cash-strapped US cities falling over one another to offer tax breaks and subsidies to a corporation that paid zero federal taxes last year on profits of over $11 billion. Surprisingly, some media followed the lead of community organizers and questioned the deal—questions Amazon pulled out over rather than engage. More surprisingly, the deal’s end didn’t end the questions. We’ll hear that story from journalist Neil deMause, author of, most recently, The Brooklyn Wars.

    • Need a Good Bitcoin Client?
      Bitcoin is a decentralized peer-to-peer payment system and digital currency that is powered by its users with no central authority, central server or middlemen. Instead, managing transactions and issuing money are carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is controlled by all Bitcoin users around the world.

      Bitcoin is a digital currency that enables instant payments. It offers a path to lower payment processing and more secure transaction. It has often attracted attention for its popularity in black markets, and for its volatility in its value. However, there is a growing number of organizations and individuals that use Bitcoin for mainstream transactions, attracted to the lower payment processing charges, and the ability to receive micropayments, payments much smaller than what the traditional financial system can handle.

      In exchange for its low-cost peer-to-peer system, Bitcoin’s network contains no recourse if bitcoins are lost or hacked. Consequently, security is a vital concern with Bitcoin. How to store Bitcoins is therefore a very important decision for a Bitcoin user to make. Desktop bitcoin clients offer a reasonably secure and advanced way to store. Bitcoin supports native wallet encryption so that people who steal your wallet file do not obtain access to your Bitcoins.

    • What States Can Do to Reduce Poverty and Inequality Through Tax Policy
      States have an opportunity to act to close the loopholes that hide and protect the wealth of the top 1%, remedy the impact of the new federal tax law that lowers taxes on the wealthy, and make critical investments in infrastructure, energy systems, and programs that create broader opportunity and shared prosperity. Concentrations of wealth are distorting our economy and undermining our democracy and civic health. State Administrations and State Legislatures can act to close the loopholes, put a brake on economic inequality and concentrations of wealth, and generate significant revenue.

    • Cuba’s leaders adopt social media, not democracy

    • Trump Threatens a Second Embargo of Cuba
      The Trump administration is threatening to unleash a flood of lawsuits involving Cuba, which no U.S. president has ever done. It has set a deadline of March 2 to announce whether it will create, in the words of the National Lawyers Guild, “a second embargo” of Cuba — “one that would be very difficult to dismantle in the future.”

      Trump may give current U.S. citizens standing to sue in U.S. courts even if they were Cuban citizens when the Cuban government nationalized their property after the 1959 Revolution. They would be able to bring lawsuits against U.S. and foreign companies that allegedly profit from the nationalized properties.

      In accordance with international law, the Cuban government had offered compensation to U.S. nationals for the taking of their property, as I explain below. If Trump permits myriad new lawsuits to proceed, it would unleash a tsunami of litigation that would harm U.S. companies and punish the Cuban people even more.

      For 59 years, the United States has maintained a cruel embargo against Cuba. “The embargo on Cuba is the most comprehensive set of U.S. sanctions on any country, including the other countries designated by the U.S. government to be state sponsors of terrorism — Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria,” according to the U.S. government.

    • Ocasio-Cortez: Living Wage for Staff Is 'Common-Sense' Policy Not 'Communism'
      Add Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) paying a living wage to staffers to the ideas Fox News considers "communism."

      On Sunday, "Fox & Friends" host Pete Hegseth railed against a report that Ocasio-Cortez will start staff salaries at $52,000 a year and cap salaries at $80,000 a year. The cap will allow the Congresswoman to pay interns $15 an hour, a pledge she made in December.

      "Everyone's between 52 and 80," said Hegseth. "It's actually socialism and communism on display."

      Hegseth's comments came on the heels of a Saturday tweet by Fox News contributor Dan Bongino, who took issue with the fact that Ocasio-Cortez’s office is funded by taxpayers. "She's NOT paying this 'living wage,' YOU are," wrote Bongino.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams Stepping Down From Board

      Williams, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone started the San Francisco-based social media company in 2006 that is known for its original 140-character limit on messages. He served in various roles, including chief executive officer, chief product officer and chairman before giving up day-to-day responsibilities in late 2010. He started Medium in 2012. Twitter went public in 2013.


      Williams has apologized previously for Twitter’s potential role in helping Trump get elected, adding that the election results underscored his concern that social-media platforms are helping to “dumb the entire world down.”

    • The Death Of Local News Is Making Us Dumber And More Divided

      It began with the death of your local hometown newspaper. It’s been compounded by an online media industry that’s too busy laying off existing reporters to spend much time expanding local reporting. Now the last bastion of local journalism, local TV broadcasters, are increasingly being hoovered up by giant companies for which real journalism isn't much of a priority.

      A new joint study out of Stanford and Emory University indicates that this shift is having a profoundly-negative impact on the American public, public discourse, and the democratic process. The researchers found that the erosion of quality local reporting is not only leaving America less informed, but more divided than ever before.

    • Democrats Might Oppose Trump’s National Emergency, But They’re Hardly the Resistance
      In a letter to Members of Congress yesterday, Nancy Pelosi wrote in response to Trump’s emergency declaration, that, "The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated” and that “We have a solemn responsibility to uphold the Constitution, and defend our system of checks and balances against the President’s assault.” Though this challenge is important to ending the emergency declaration, like the 1.4 billion dollars afforded to the government to build a wall, neither democrats or republicans are willing to address the fact that the US is manufacturing an immigration crisis through the violence it conducts spanning the globe from South and Central America to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

      According to the UNHCR, there are 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world and 57% of refugees worldwide come from three countries: South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria. For anyone paying attention, its no coincidence that two of the three countries have the highest numbers of refugees are Afghanistan and Syria—countries that have born a large brunt of the US’ War on Terror.

      There are 2.6 million Afghan refugees alone—an appalling figure that stands as a reminder that this is the US’ longest running war in it’s history. But as old as the war in Afghanistan is, it's as new as the “virtual invasion,” Trump referenced in his speech is. Yet, the response from Congress has not been to end the violence directed at other countries that has caused forced migration—it is simply to call the legality of Trump’s actions into question. The irony of course is that for countries on the receiving end of the US’ violence, a “virtual invasion,” might be preferable than an actual one that leaves behind instability, death, and destruction—violence that both parties have supported.
    • We Need a New Standard for When Politicians Should Step Down
      In the 400th year since chattel slavery began in the colony of Virginia in 1619, the Commonwealth has been under severe duress, with its heads of state embroiled in controversies descended from the colony’s founding sin.

      For weeks, Democrats and Republicans statewide — and nationwide — have called for the resignations of Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring, for the racist act of wearing blackface as young adults (a claim Northam denied after initially admitting to being in a photo that surfaced weeks ago).

      Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax also drew demands for resignation, after sexual assault and rape allegations were brought against him by two different women. (Fairfax denies the allegations.)

      Virginia constituents (including myself) have been vocal in the debate over whether the men should step down. Complicating matters, next-in-line GOP House Leader Kirk Vox would take office if all three stepped down, restoring Republican control of the state after the party lost badly in the last elections.

      The firestorm in Richmond has since calmed. Out of fear of being branded a “racist for life,”Northam announced a “Racial Reconciliation Tour” as a way to save face and remain governor.

    • Trump Vows Veto as Democrats Try to Block Emergency Order
      Democrats controlling the House have teed up a vote next week to block President Donald Trump from using a national emergency declaration to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, accelerating a showdown in Congress that could divide Republicans and lead to Trump’s first veto.

      The Democrats introduced a resolution Friday to block Trump’s declaration, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would vote on the measure Tuesday. It is sure to pass, and the GOP-run Senate may adopt it as well. Trump quickly promised a veto.
    • Manafort 'Brazenly Violated the Law' for Years, Mueller Memo Says
      Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort committed crimes that cut to “the heart of the criminal justice system” and over the years deceived everyone from bookkeepers and banks to federal prosecutors and his own lawyers, according to a sentencing memo filed Saturday by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.

      In the memo, submitted in one of two criminal cases Manafort faces, prosecutors do not yet take a position on how much prison time he should serve or whether to stack the punishment on top of a separate sentence he will soon receive in a Virginia prosecution. But they do depict Manafort as a longtime and unrepentant criminal who committed “bold” crimes, including under the spotlight of his role as campaign chairman and later while on bail, and who does not deserve any leniency.

      “For over a decade, Manafort repeatedly and brazenly violated the law,” prosecutors wrote. “His crimes continued up through the time he was first indicted in October 2017 and remarkably went unabated even after indictment.”
    • The Bitter Fruit of Trump’s China Bashing: Anti-Asian Racism
      Donald Trump’s New Cold War with Beijing has caught Chinese foreign students at U.S. universities in its crosshairs.

      The Trump administration has tightened restrictions on their visas, accused them of spying for the Chinese state and its high tech giants, and in the process whipped up a climate of Anti-Asian racism.

      Trump’s policies yielded bitter fruit most recently at Duke University. The chair of the graduate program in biostatics, Megan Neely, in the wake of complaints from a faculty members about Chinese grad students “speaking Chinese (in their words VERY LOUDLY)” in the student lounge and study areas, wrote an email scolding students for speaking their native language.

      She told students to “commit to using English 100 percent of the time” while in department buildings or “any other professional setting.” Even worse she warned them that if they didn’t it might impact their ability to get internships and jobs: “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep these unintended consequences in mind when you choose to speak Chinese.”

      This was not the first time that Neely had criticized students for speaking a language besides English in their private time. Last year she sent a message to all the biostatistics students saying, “I don’t like being the language police [but] … speaking in your native language in the department may give faculty the impression that you are not trying to improve your English skills and that you are not taking this opportunity seriously.”

    • How Bernie Can Win Over Black Voters (Video)
      Jacqueline Luqman and Prof. Lester Spence discuss how Sanders might distinguish himself and contend with Black candidates such as Corey Booker and Kamala Harris, Watch the full conversation in the video player above and read the transcript below.

    • State of Money in Politics: Billion-dollar ‘dark money’ spending is just the tip of the iceberg
      Secret donor-funded “dark money” spending reported to the Federal Election Commission has officially exceeded $1 billion according to a new analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, and that barely begins to scratch the surface of political spending by groups that don’t fully disclose their donors.

      Along with another billion dollars spent by partially-disclosing groups that keep some donors hidden or are funded by dark money sources, spending by groups that don’t fully disclose donors has exceeded $2 billion since the 2006 election cycle.

      Direct dark money spending by groups funded entirely by anonymous donors hit nearly $150 million reported to the FEC for the 2018 election cycle alone. That doesn’t include additional money funneled to other groups spending in elections or spent on political ads couched as issue advocacy and digital advertising that remains largely untouched by FEC disclosure requirements. Dark money has hardly waned. Instead, it has begun manifesting in new forms that are often harder to track and quantify.

      More than half of all 2018 election spending by outside groups, excluding party committees, was by groups that do not fully disclose their donors.
    • How I Learned to Let Communities Guide Our Local Reporting Projects
      The journalism event we’d planned for months in East St. Louis, Illinois, was hours away. And I couldn’t get rid of the nerves churning in my stomach.

      So I did what I do when I’m anxious: overprepare. I made a Walmart run to stuff food and supplies in my car, not really sure how many people would attend. My ProPublica Illinois colleague Derrick Clifton and I stuck flyers in door handles at a federally subsidized housing complex. We chatted with people there, telling them why we were in town.

      I was in Illinois to bring our findings on the crumbling state of federally subsidized housing to the residents actually impacted by it. Our partner, Molly Parker, of The Southern Illinoisan, had spent months investigating housing issues in East St. Louis. The Southern Illinoisan was part of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network — our initiative to support local investigative journalism.
    • Say Goodbye to Mitch McConnell’s America
      We stand today upon the fulcrum of history, a crossroads at midnight with a blood moon rising. Down one road lies fire, flood, famine, failure and the final triumph of greed. What awaits down the other road is unknown, terra incognita, a mystery to be solved one gentle step at a time. As a species, we tend to recoil from what we do not know, often choosing the awful alternative simply because it is familiar. Now, even that poor option is a suicidal indulgence leading inexorably to our common doom.

      Everyone, from leader to laborer, is a teacher delivering a simple lesson: how to be, or how not to be. We go to school on the words and behavior of others, and it falls to us as individuals to either absorb what those others teach us by being who they are, or to cast their lessons aside in search of more worthy instruction. As bad lawsuits make bad law, however, bad people make worse people by example. We are often childlike in our emulation of what we see, and if we only see scoundrels, well … that script writes itself.

      Which brings us to a most valuable teacher: a privileged, compromised, cowardly, racist, sexist, hate-swaddled, power-mad, greed-gorged, double-dealing, fathomless void where all integrity goes to die. I speak, of course, of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If Donald Trump is the Devil waiting at that moonlit crossroads to tune our guitar at the cost of our souls, Mitch McConnell drove him there and paid for the gas.

    • One-party rule in 49 state legislatures reflects flaws in democratic process
      Across the U.S., Republicans control 30 statehouses and the Democrats control 18. That is the largest number of one-party controlled state legislatures since 1914.

      Minnesota is currently the only state where there’s not one party in control of the state legislature – Republicans have a majority in the state Senate chamber, while Democrats hold the state House chamber.

      The Democrats’ so-called “blue wave” in the 2018 midterm elections was not big enough to put a major dent into the Republican’s control of state legislatures.

      As a scholar of state politics, I believe partisan gerrymandering is a major reason why the Democratic wave fizzled as it reached the states. It is also why Democrats will likely have a difficult time regaining control in states as the redistricting process begins in 2020.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube Filters At It Again: Pokemon YouTubers Have Accounts Nuked Over Child Porn Discussions That Weren't Occurring
      It's clear at this point that the automated filtering and flagging done by YouTube is simply not good. Whatever legitimacy the platform might want to have by touting its successes must certainly be diminished by the repeated cases of YouTube flagging videos for infringing content that isn't infringing and the fact that the whole setup has been successfully repurposed by blackmailers that hold accounts hostage through strikes.

      While most of these failures center around ContentID's inability to discern actual intellectual property infringement and its avenues for abuse, YouTube's algorithms can't even suss out more grave occurrences, such as child exploitation. This became apparent recently when multiple Pokemon streamers had their accounts nuked due to discussions about child pornography that never occurred.

    • Win in Washington State: Judge Strikes Down Unconstitutional ‘Cyberstalking’ Law Chilling Free Speech
      Great news out of Washington state: a federal judge has ruled that the First Amendment protects speech on the Internet, even from anonymous speakers, and even if it’s embarrassing.

      EFF has been fighting this statute for a long time. It’s a prime example of how sloppy approaches to combatting “cyberstalking” can go terribly wrong. As we explained in an amicus brief filed in this case by EFF and the ACLU of Washington, the law could potentially block the routine criticism of politicians and other public figures that is an integral part of our democracy.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Guess who's working on a health data-slurping digital tool? Bzzt! Nope, it's the UK Department for Work and Pensions
      The UK's Department for Work and Pensions is drawing up plans for an internal service that allows it to automate slurps of medical data on claimants to dole out health-related benefits.

      In an ad posted on the UK's Digital Marketplace, DWP said the work was currently in alpha and it now wanted a supplier to deliver a technical proof of concept to expose NHS data to the department's systems.

      The aim, it said, is to cut down the time and cost involved in gathering information the department needs to make a decision about "the right support" for someone with a health condition or disability.
    • The Microphones That May Be Hidden in Your Home
      Google apologized Wednesday to customers who purchased its Nest Secure home-security system. The device is equipped with a microphone that has gone unmentioned since it went on sale in 2017. Earlier in February, Google announced on Twitter an upcoming software update that activated the microphone, making the Nest Guard responsive to voice commands and Google Assistant technology. The tweet startled users, who were never told the system could pick up sound.

      “Have I had a device with a hidden microphone in my house this entire time?” one user asked.

      Missing from the Nest account’s response was the word yes, but to be clear: Yes.

      “We included a microphone in the Nest Guard with features such as the Google Assistant in mind. It has not been used up to this point, and you can enable or disable it at any time using the Nest app,” the company wrote on Twitter.

    • Report: Code of Practice for the use of personal information in political campaigns: ORG response
      Activity, which relates to elections or referenda, in support of, or against, a political party, a referendum campaign or a candidate standing for election.

    • Facebook Grew Too Big to Care About Privacy

      Two years ago, a Yale Law School student published what became an influential paper about how antitrust law should apply to one of America’s superstar technology companies, which don’t fit the conventional mold of Standard Oil monopolists.

      Now, another academic paper from a former advertising technology executive and Yale law graduate is arguing that Facebook Inc. abuses its power. Titled in part “The Antitrust Case Against Facebook,” its author, Dina Srinivasan, offers a deeply researched analysis of Facebook’s pattern of backtracking on the user data collection that allowed the company to become a star. Once Facebook was powerful and popular, Srinivasan says, it was able to overrun objections about its data-harvesting practices.

    • Report: Apps are sharing sensitive data with Facebook without informing users

      The Journal found 11 apps with tens of millions of users among them that were sharing the information with the social network, with little to no disclosure to its users.

    • Huawei Frightens Europe's Data Protectors. America Does, Too

      As the U.S. pushes ahead with the “Cloud Act” it enacted about a year ago, Europe is scrambling to curb its reach. Under the act, all U.S. cloud service providers from Microsoft and IBM to Amazon -- when ordered -- have to provide American authorities data stored on their servers regardless of where it’s housed. With those providers controlling much of the cloud market in Europe, the act could potentially give the U.S. the right to access information on large swaths of the region’s people and companies.

    • California Data Privacy Proposal May Give Law Tough New Teeth

      The strongest data privacy law in the country may be about to get sharper teeth, and lobbyists representing the tech industry think it’s a disastrous idea.

      Companies that amass user data could be the target of mass class-action litigation from California consumers if they’re accused of violating the California Consumer Privacy Act, under a proposed amendment to the law filed Feb. 22.

      The measure would allow consumers to sue such companies, including Facebook Inc. and Google Inc., for monetary damages should they be accused of breaking the law. If approved, the measure would dramatically raise the stakes of adhering to the statute and shape the conversation around federal regulations being considered by Congress.

    • Facebook is shuttering its Onavo VPN app over teen privacy scandal

      Last month, it was revealed that Facebook was targeting teenagers with a 'market research' app that offered $20 per month in exchange for allowing it to intercept web traffic and hoover up the data.

      Onavo, purchased by Facebook in 2013, was at the heart of the app, enabling web traffic to be redirected through Facebook servers, and now Facebook has decided that the jig is up.

      The VPN app will be shut down at a later date, but will immediately cease being used as a source for data mining. Questions had been asked about why it was such a data hog long before the truth came out.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • China’s social credit system shows its teeth, banning millions from taking flights, trains

      Annual report shows the businesses and individuals added to trustworthiness blacklist as use of the government system accelerates

    • Malcolm: We Want Freedom
      This week marks 54 years since the assassination of El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X, militant radical, fiery orator, Muslim leader, evolving but unceasing advocate for justice and what Ossie Davis called "our own black shining prince," who rose from poverty to fight relentlessly against racism and oppression through the 1950s and 60s until his death at 39. Arguing "wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it," Malcolm spoke "the naked truth" as he saw it on behalf of people of color in hopes, he wrote in his seminal autobiography, his “life’s account might prove to be a testimony of some social value.” And it did, via ongoing reinvention and an unlikely narrative arc: The face of the fierce black nationalist whose complex, shifting, fight-fire-with-fire message terrified many white Americans, especially those in power, landed on a 1999 Black Heritage Stamp issued by the postal service of the government he long and passionately resisted; at the stamp's unveiling he was lauded as "a modern-day revolutionary, a man who dreamed of a better world, and dared to do something about it."

    • Russian government accuses ‘The Times’ journalist of immigration violation
      Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs requested that the British newspaper The Times explain why one of its journalists, Janice Turner, entered Russia using a tourist visa. Turner published a column that criticized the culture of Russia’s capital on February 14.

      On Facebook, the Ministry of Internal Affairs wrote that Turner did not apply for a journalist’s visa and the accreditation required to work as a journalist in Russia. The Ministry accused the British journalist of deluding Russian immigration officials and violating Russian laws.

    • Russian committee to investigate torture of Jehovah’s Witnesses despite denying two days ago that any torture occurred
      Russia’s Investigative Committee will investigate reports that members of the religious group Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is officially banned in Russia, were tortured in the Siberian city of Surgut.

      Local Investigative Committee employee Oleg Menshikh told Interfax about the committee’s intentions. He said, “We have still received no official notice of any torture. However, given the stir that has arisen after these reports were published in the media, a decision has been made to undertake a preliminary investigation.”

    • New Election Ordered in North Carolina Over Actual Real-Life "Voter Fraud" Allegedly Carried Out by GOP Campaign
      Further proving that the real "voter fraud" that exists is voter suppression, North Carolina was forced to call for a new election after facing evidence that the 9th congressional district's 2018 Republican candidate had paid a political operative to commit fraud on his behalf.

      As of Friday, President Donald Trump and others who have spent years decrying so-called "voter fraud" were silent on the development.

      Mark Harris, who ran in November against Democrat Dan McCready, announced at a hearing before the Board of Elections that he believed public confidence in the election results, which had him leading McCready by 905 votes, had been "undermined" so severely that a new election was necessary.

    • Just Another Nigger: My Life in the Black Panther Party
      Just Another Nigger is Don Cox’s revelatory, even incendiary account of his years in the Black Panther Party. He participated in many peaceful Bay Area civil rights protests but hungered for more militant action. His book tells the story of his work as the party’s field marshal in charge of gunrunning to planning armed attacks—tales which are told for the first time in this remarkable memoir—to his star turn raising money at the Manhattan home of Leonard Bernstein (for which he was famously mocked by Tom Wolfe in Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers), to his subsequent flight to Algeria to join Eldridge Cleaver in exile, to his decision to leave the party following his disillusionment with Huey P. Newton’s leadership. Cox would live out the rest of his life in self-imposed exile, where he began writing these unrepentant recollections in the early 1980s, enjoining his daughter to promise him that she would do everything she could to have them published—with the title he insisted upon, a nod to W. E. B. Du Bois’s remark that “In my own country, for nearly a century I have been nothing but a nigger.”

    • The Emperor’s New Wall
      President Donald Trump will continue trying to fund his border wall. If he succeeds, the human cost will make the final price tag much higher than $5.7 billion.
    • El Chapo and the Path Taken
      A couple of months ago my wife reminded me that season four of Narcos and season three of El Chapo were up and running on Netflix. Although I hadn’t written anything about the El Chapo series, it seemed like a good opportunity to cover both since they dealt with the drug cartels in Mexico that were very timely given El Chapo’s trial. In addition, they are about the best entertainment available on Netflix. The two series are closely related since they deal with the Sinaloa cartel that El Chapo ruled over. In season four of Narcos, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán is only a bit player. Primary attention is on Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (Diego Luna), the founder of the cartel for which El Chapo served as a sicario (hitman). Another important character is Kiki Camarena (Michael Peña), the DEA agent who was tortured and killed by Gallardo’s henchmen in 1985. His death became a cause célèbre that led to the first in a series of escalations of the drug war.

      The series ends with Gallardo being arrested in 1989 and sent to the Altiplano maximum security prison, where the 73-year old gangster is still locked up. Season three of El Chapo picks up where Narcos left off. Joaquín Guzmán (played by the unusually named Marco de la O) reigns over a coalition of gangs that have only come together because of his use of the carrot and the stick. The carrot? The right to profit handsomely by the export of drugs to the USA through his advanced transportation system that has nothing to do with refugees trekking through the desert. The stick? Getting a bullet in the head if they decline.

    • Daily Dose of Protest: Guns – Quelle Chris
      Quelle Chris is a Detroit based indie rapper who is known for his eclectic brand of socially conscious hip-hop. In 2018 he and his partner Jean Grae released the well-received Everything’s Fine, which was one of the best protest albums of 2018. He is following it up with a solo album Guns, which is due out March 29, 2019.

      In a statement posted on the album’s Bandcamp page, Quelle Chris describes the motivation behind the album: “Guns is an arsenal of both sounds, styles and subjects. At its core it’s about things that can be weaponized for good or evil, including ourselves. The words we say, what we fear, how we love, how we live, what we ingest, what we believe in, who we idolize, shit like that. Somewhat a sonic study of the question “do ‘guns’ kill people or do people kill people?”

    • Rule by Fiat: National Crises, Fake Emergencies and Other Dangerous Presidential Powers
      Who pays the price for the dissolution of the constitutional covenant that holds the government and its agents accountable to the will of the people?

      We all do.

      This ill-advised decision by President Trump to circumvent the Constitution’s system of checks and balances by declaring a national emergency in order to build a border wall constitutes yet another expansion of presidential power that exposes the nation to further constitutional peril.

      It doesn’t matter that the legal merits of this particular national emergency will be challenged in court.

      The damage has already been done.

      As reporter Danny Cevallos points out, “President Donald Trump only had to say ‘national emergency’ to dramatically increase his executive and legal authority. By simply uttering those words … Trump immediately unleashed dozens of statutory powers available to a president only during a state of emergency. The power of the nation’s chief executive to declare such an emergency knows few strictures — it was designed that way.”

      We have now entered into a strange twilight zone where ego trumps justice, propaganda perverts truth, and imperial presidents—empowered to indulge their authoritarian tendencies by legalistic courts, corrupt legislatures and a disinterested, distracted populace—rule by fiat rather than by the rule of law.

      This attempt by Trump to rule by fiat merely plays into the hands of those who would distort the government’s system of checks and balances and its constitutional separation of powers beyond all recognition.

      This is about unadulterated power in the hands of the Executive Branch.

    • FBI Scientist’s Statements Linked Defendants to Crimes, Even When His Lab Results Didn’t
      A man stepped into a rural South Carolina bank a few days before Christmas in 2001, aimed a gun at tellers and stole $7,800 from the drawers. Witnesses couldn’t identify the robber. The surveillance video was too grainy to help investigators.

      More than three years later, FBI agents narrowed the investigation to a suspect. They believed John Henry Stroman robbed the bank. But during questioning, Stroman told them the security footage instead showed his brother, Roger. How could investigators prove one brother was the robber and not the other? Agents shipped the video and pictures of both Stromans to the FBI Laboratory in July 2005.

      The package went to Richard Vorder Bruegge, one of the bureau’s image examiners.

      In his report, Vorder Bruegge wrote that John Henry Stroman and the robber had similar “overall shape of the face, nose, mouth, chin, and ears.” But Vorder Bruegge stopped short of declaring a match, saying the video and pictures were too low resolution for that.

    • A Teenage War Resister in Israel
      Hilel Garmi’s phone is going straight to voicemail and all I’m hoping is that he’s not back in prison. I’ll soon learn that he is.

      Prison 6 is a military prison. It’s situated in the Israeli coastal town of Atlit, a short walk from the Mediterranean Sea and less than an hour’s drive from Hilel’s home. It was constructed in 1957 following the Sinai War between Israel and Egypt to house disciplinary cases from the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF.

      Hilel has already been locked up six times. “I can smell the sea from my cell, especially at night when everything is quiet,” he tells me in one of our phone conversations. I’m 6,000 miles away in Chicago, but Hilel and I have regularly been discussing his ordeal as an Israeli war resister, so it makes me nervous that, this time around, I can’t reach him at all.

      A recent high-school graduate with dark hair and a big smile, he’s only 19 and still lives with his parents in Yodfat, an Israeli town of less than 900 people in the northern part of the country. It’s 155 miles to Damascus (if such a trip were possible, which, of course, it isn’t), a two-hour drive down the coast to Tel Aviv, and a four-hour drive to besieged Gaza.

      Yodfat itself could be a set for a Biblical movie, with its dry rolling hills, ancient ruins, and pastoral landscape. The town exports flower bulbs, as well as organic goat cheese, and notably supports the Misgav Waldorf School that Hilel’s mother helped found. Hilel is proud of his mom. After all, people commute from all over Israel to attend the school.

    • Pope’s ‘Wrath of God’ Promise on Sex Abuse Doesn’t Appease Survivors
      Pope Francis closed out his extraordinary summit on preventing clergy sex abuse by vowing Sunday to confront abusers with “the wrath of God” felt by the faithful, end the cover-ups by their superiors and prioritize the victims of this “brazen, aggressive and destructive evil.”

      But his failure to offer a concrete action plan to hold bishops accountable when they failed to protect their flocks from predators disappointed survivors, who had expected more from the first-ever global Catholic summit of its kind.


      In his final remarks to the summit, Francis noted that the vast majority of sexual abuse happens in the family. And he offered a global review of the broader societal problem of sexual tourism and online pornography, in a bid to contextualize what he said was once a taboo subject.

      But he said the sexual abuse of children becomes even more scandalous when it occurs in the Catholic Church, “for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility.”

      Francis summoned the bishops from around the world to the four-day meeting to impress upon them that clergy sex abuse and cover-ups aren’t just a problem in some countries but a global problem that threatens the very mission of the Catholic Church.

    • Mississippi Players Kneel in Response to Confederacy Rally
      Eight University of Mississippi basketball players knelt during the national anthem Saturday before a victory over Georgia in response to a Confederacy rally near the arena.

      With the teams lined up across the court at the free throw lines, six players took a knee and bowed at the start of the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Two other players later joined them.

      “The majority of it was just that we saw one of our teammates doing it and didn’t want him to be alone,” Ole Miss scoring leader Breein Tyree said. “We’re just tired of these hate groups coming to our school and portraying our campus like we have these hate groups in our actual school.”

      The Confederacy demonstration took place a few hundred feet from the arena. In the aftermath of violence at a similar rally in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Oxford community has been on alert.
    • Illinois Prison Phone Rates Are Lowest Following Grassroots Activism
      “There were a lot of times my sons tried calling me,” recalled Annette Taylor, who regularly receives calls from her two sons in prison, “but there was no money on the account.” Those were some of the “hardest calls,” she said. “I would worry something was wrong.”

      Families of those incarcerated have long complained about the high cost of phone calls from prison. A national campaign pressured the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to intervene in 2015, but the agency’s regulations have since been reversed by the Trump administration.

      In Illinois, the price of prison phone calls was just drastically reduced, making it much easier for Taylor and others like her to stay in contact with their loved ones. Just a few years ago, Illinois had the most inflated rates in the country. According to a renegotiated contract, the cost of a call from prison is now just under a penny a minute. Illinois is now the state with the lowest costs in the country.

      Taylor’s group, the Ripple Effect (Reaching Into Prisons with Purpose and Love), a prison pen pal project located in Champaign, Illinois, was involved early on in the campaign to reduce the rates. “It’s such a blessing for my family,” Taylor told Truthout in an email exchange. “Now, one of my sons calls too much!”

    • Corporate-backed groups seek more pro-business judges in the Deep South
      Back in 1994, after the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that oil giant BP owed back taxes to Plaquemines Parish, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) urged its member corporations to contact the justices to complain. A few months later, after a LABI-backed candidate won the state Supreme Court election, the court unanimously overturned its ruling against BP — a decision that drained millions of dollars in tax revenue from Plaquemines Parish and its schools.

      Before intervening on BP's behalf, LABI had been complaining about the influence of trial lawyers in judicial elections and threatening to exert more political pressure over judges. LABI had already established four corporate-funded political action committees to exercise its clout in the state legislature; in the mid-1990s, the PACs began giving large contributions to their preferred judicial candidates.

      In 1996, LABI took its judicial influence operation to the next level: It began rating judges based on whether they ruled for or against corporate interests. After national media reported on LABI's aggressive tactics, the group ceased evaluating every justice and stopped pressuring them to rule a certain way in specific cases.
    • What are Torts? They’re Everywhere!
      What exposed the Tobacco industry’s carcinogenic cover-up? The lethal asbestos industry cover-up? The General Motors’ deadly ignition switch defect cover-up? The Catholic Church’s pedophile scandal? All kinds of toxic waste poisonings?

      Not the state legislatures of our country. Not Congress. Not the regulatory agencies of our federal or state governments. These abuses and other wrongs were exposed by lawsuits brought by individuals or groups of afflicted plaintiffs using the venerable American law of torts.

      Almost every day, the media reports on stories of injured parties using our legal system to seek justice for wrongful injuries. Unfortunately, the media almost never mentions that the lawsuits were filed under the law of torts.

      Regularly, the media reports someone filing a civil rights lawsuit or a civil liberties lawsuit. When was the last time you read, heard, or saw a journalist start their report by saying…“so and so today filed a tort lawsuit against a reckless manufacturer or a sexual predator, or against the wrongdoers who exposed the people of a town like Flint, Michigan to harmful levels of lead in drinking water? Or lawsuits against Donald Trump for ugly defamations or sexual assaults”?

      I was recently discussing this strange omission with Richard Newman, executive director of the American Museum of Tort Law and a former leading trial attorney in Connecticut. He too was intrigued. He told me that when high school students tour the Museum, their accompanying teachers often admit that they themselves never heard of tort law!

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Blockbuster Gizmodo investigation reveals probable masterminds of the massive anti-Net Neutrality identity theft/astroturf campaign

      Despite the mountains of evidence that the real comments were almost entirely in support of Net Neutrality, the FCC said it would give both bots and humans equal weight in its deliberations, and then it shut down the commenting system and stonewalled the States attorneys generals who were investigating the fake comments as a criminal matter.

      Now, Gizmodo writers Dell Cameron and Jason Prechtel have done incredible work, using freedom of information act requests to correlate the precise moment at which known-fake comments appeared in the FCC's comment system with the API keys used to submit comments a few seconds before the fake comments were registered, and were thus able to produce a high-confidence guess about the identities of the astroturfers who violated federal laws and defrauded the US government and the American people in order to help Ajit Pai kill Net Neutrality.

    • How an Investigation of Fake FCC Comments Snared a Prominent D.C. Media Firm

      What was most curious, however, is that each of these people had supposedly submitted the very same comment; a veritable word salad of telecom industry talking points. In particular, the comment was a rebuke of the Obama administration’s exercise of “unprecedented regulatory power” in pursuit of net neutrality, a policy which it accused of “smothering innovation, damaging the American economy, and obstructing job creation.”

      Internal FCC logs reviewed by Gizmodo for the first time offer clues as to why the matching comments led investigators in October to the doorstep of CQ Roll Call, a company that, while running an august newsroom in the nation’s capital, is also in the business of helping lobbyists construct digital “grassroots” campaigns aimed at influencing policymakers, and specifically, those controlling the FCC’s rulemaking process.

  • DRM

    • Scribd Files Complaint Against DRM Circumvention Tool

      Scribd has filed a complaint targeting a tool that allows users to permanently download books, audiobooks, magazines, and other digital content from its publishing platform. Scribd Downloader does require the user to have a Scribd subscription to operate fully, but the company says the tool breaches the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA.

    • Right to Repair Legislation Is Officially Being Considered In Canada

      A newly-proposed bill could become the first legislation to ensure individuals and independent shops can repair brand-name devices in North America.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Federal Circuit Continues to Narrow the Eligibility Standards for CBM Review of Patents Under the AIA
      In its recent ruling in IBG LLC v. Trading Techs. Int’l, the Federal Circuit vacated determinations by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) on patents relating to a graphical user interface (“GUI“), holding that the patents were “not … technological inventions” and were therefore ineligible for Covered Business Method Patent Review (“CBM review”).

      The petitioners challenged the validity of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,766,304, 6,772,132, 7,676,411, and 7,813,996 (the “Asserted Patents”) via multiple CBM review proceedings, including CBM2015-00161 and CBM2016-00035. The Asserted Patents share the same specification and are related to a GUI for a trading system that “reduc[es] the time it takes for a trader to place a trade when electronically trading on an exchange, thus increasing the likelihood that the trader will have orders filled at desirable prices and quantities.”

    • E-Trading Patents Are “For Technological Inventions,” Not Subject To CBM Review
      In a nonprecedential per curiam decision, the Federal Circuit vacated the PTAB’s final written decisions in five covered business method (“CBM”) reviews on four related e-trading patents as “arbitrary and capricious” because those patents are “for technological inventions” and therefore not subject to CBM review. In reaching this conclusion, the Federal Circuit considered as instructive its prior decision upholding the eligibility of two of the challenged patents under 35 U.S.C. €§ 101.

      Trading Technologies (“TT”) owns four patents that share the same specification and claim methods and apparatus for electronic trading. The patents describe a graphical user interface (“GUI”) for a commodity trading system that includes “a dynamic display for a plurality of bids and for a plurality of asks in the market for the commodity and a static display of prices corresponding to the plurality of bids and asks.” For two of those patents, the Federal Circuit previously affirmed a district court’s decision upholding the patent eligibility under €§ 101.

      The PTAB instituted CBM reviews on all four patents. Under AIA €§ 18(d)(1), the PTAB may institute CBM review only on a patent that “claims a method or corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service,” but not on “patents for technological inventions.” In instituting CBM reviews, the PTAB held that the TT patents are not “for technological inventions.”

    • Contours of Apple-Qualcomm dispute: Apple emphasizes antitrust, FRAND, patent exhaustion -- Qualcomm says contracts are contracts
      On April 15, the Apple & contract manufacturers v. Qualcomm trial will start in San Diego (Southern District of California), and the stakes are high.

      This is a key month for pretrial filings. I've gleaned from the parties' joint pretrial brief on disputed contract terms that Qualcomm charges a 5% patent royalty on iPhone repairs performed by Foxconn and wants an extra $1.3 billion from three of Apple's four contract manufacturers as a late "processing and handling" charge. Beyond the joint pretrial brief, the parties have also filed literally dozens of motions, and yesterday (Saturday) they filed a total of more than 1,100 pages (!) relating to, and including, their proposed jury instructions and verdict forms.

      It's obviously impossible to discuss everything in detail. The purpose of this post is to provide a bird's-eye view of the parties' priorities in the upcoming trial. Those priorities are reflected by what Apple writes about its plans for its case-in-chief, by what the parties would like to go into or be kept out of the jury instructions, and by their preferences for the order of items on the jury form as well as what should be put before a jury in the first place (as opposed to being decided by the judge).

    • Walker-Process Antitrust Case is Back Before the Federal Circuit
      The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over any “appeal from a final decision of a district court of the United States . . . in any civil action arising under . . . any Act of Congress relating to patents.” 28 U.S.C. €§ 1295(a)(1). “Arising under” jurisdiction clearly include patent cases, but it also includes a “special and small category” of cases that don’t directly arise under the Patent Act, but involve patents decisions at such a deep level that it should be deemed a patent case. In drawing these lines, a clear data point came in Gunn v. Minton, 133 S. Ct. 1059 (2013). In that case, the Supreme Court was faced with a patent attorney malpractice case that would require determination of various fundamental patent law issues. In its decision, the court nevertheless ruled that it did not arise under the patent laws because the patent issues were not “substantial.” In particular, the court wrote that “[a]lthough such cases may necessarily raise disputed questions of patent law, those cases are by their nature unlikely to have the sort of significance for the federal system necessary to establish jurisdiction.”

    • UnionPay Joins the Open Invention Network Community
      Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history with more than 2,800 members, announced today that UnionPay has joined its community. As a leading multinational financial services corporation that provides card, mobile, and online payment technologies to merchants and consumers, UnionPay agrees with the concept of open innovation and patent non-aggression in Linux and open source.

      “The online, mobile, and card-based financial services industries are experiencing significant growth, driven by global leaders that recognize the benefits of shared innovation, which enables them to build robust, feature-rich products and services for their customers,” said Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN. “We are pleased that UnionPay has joined our community and committed to patent non-aggression in Linux and adjacent open source technologies.”

    • Copyrights

      • Artists Against Article 13: When Big Tech and Big Content Make a Meal of Creators, It Doesn't Matter Who Gets the Bigger Piece
        Article 13 is the on-again/off-again controversial proposal to make virtually every online community, service, and platform legally liable for any infringing material posted by their users, even very briefly, even if there was no conceivable way for the online service provider to know that a copyright infringement had taken place.

        This will require unimaginable sums of money to even attempt, and the attempt will fail. The outcome of Article 13 will be a radical contraction of alternatives to the U.S. Big Tech platforms and the giant media conglomerates. That means that media companies will be able to pay creators less for their work, because creators will have no alternative to the multinational entertainment giants.


        The initial versions of Article 13 required companies to build copyright filters, modeled after YouTube's "Content ID" system: YouTube invites a select group of trusted rightsholders to upload samples of works they claim as their copyright, and then blocks (or diverts revenue from) any user's video that seems to match these copyright claims.

        There are many problems with this system. On the one hand, giant media companies complain that they are far too easy for dedicated infringers to defeat; and on the other hand, Content ID ensnares all kinds of legitimate forms of expression, including silence, birdsong, and music uploaded by the actual artist for distribution on YouTube. Sometimes, this is because a rightsholder has falsely claimed copyrights that don't belong to them; sometimes, it's because Content ID generated a "false positive" (that is, made a mistake); and sometimes it's because software just can't tell the difference between an infringing use of a copyrighted work and a use that falls under "fair dealing," like criticism, commentary, parody, etc. No one has trained an algorithm to recognise parody, and no one is likely to do so any time soon (it would be great if we could train humans to reliably recognise parody!).
      • Street protests are mounting against Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive: more participants than last week
        Toward the end of an eventful week on the EU copyright reform front, during which the EU Commission was forced to apologize for calling dissidents a "mob" and the most controversial part of the bill--Article 13--almost got blocked in the EU Council, it's clear that the only EU institution that can still prevent a digital disaster is the European Parliament. But I'm increasingly hopeful as there are ever more signs of the people showing their elected representatives that it would be unwise for them to approve the most controversial piece of Internet legislation in history--and to do so shortly (less than two months) before European Parliament elections.

        The Commission at least apologized for inappropriate language. I'm still waiting for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany--Merkel's party--to apologize for incorrectly attributing to "bots" the genuine outrage of countless humans of flesh and blood. Those people have voting rights or will reach that age soon, and Merkel's party risks making itself extremely unpopular among an entire generation of voters.

        I'm writing this post as I'm watching a livestream of today's anti-Article 13 demonstration in Cologne, Germany. Thousands of mostly young people--at least twice as many as a week ago, despite the demonstration having been announced only three days (!) ago--are taking to the streets of Cologne as speak, and just the livestream I'm watching has more than 10K viewers at the moment (and it's not even the only one--all streams combined had more than 30K viewers).
      • Investigating the Higbee & Associates Copyright Trolling Operation
        The moment I saw Higbee’s demand letter to Daniel Quinn I knew I was dealing with a troll. Although I’ve recently joined the #resistance, I spent the first five years of my career defending Silicon Valley companies against mass copyright trolls. Higbee is new to me, but I know this game.

        I immediately scanned his demand letter for problems. There were many — Michael Grecco’s power of attorney authorization isn’t even signed! — but I’ll focus on three major ones.


        They’ve refused to answer my questions, responding only that “[we] will not be conducting the pre-litigation discovery you want.”

        There’s only so much our ongoing investigation can accomplish short of litigation, discovery, and the power to issue third-party subpoenas to Fox and Yahoo/Flickr. But at the moment, based only on the information I have, I’m severely concerned that Higbee & Associates is failing to exercise due diligence and conduct reasonable investigations before issuing its boilerplate demand letters.

        Theodore Sell’s belated admission that they cannot seek statutory damages and attorneys fees supports their lack of diligence; so does Mathew Higbee’s contention last Thursday that “We never intentionally pursue private non-commercial infringements.” Daniel Quinn runs a private, non-commercial, hobbyist scifi review blog; Higbee & Associates has been chasing him with threats of litigation and demands for $20,000 - $80,000 in damages and attorneys fees for months.

      • UK ISP Will Ban Two Million Kids From Accessing Pirate Sites

        Not-for-profit Internet service provider LGfL, which supplies broadband to 3,000 UK schools, has agreed to block access to a huge number of pirate sites. The initiative will rely on a database of domains provided by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, preventing students from accessing pirated content.

      • Frontier demands $4,300 cancellation fee despite horribly slow Internet

        Frontier Communications reportedly charged a cancellation fee of $4,302.17 to the operator of a one-person business in Wisconsin, even though she switched to a different Internet provider because Frontier's service was frequently unusable.

      • NBCUniversal Repeatedly Flags as a “Pirate” Site

        NBCUniversal works hard to remove pirated content from the Internet. In recent years it has sent more than 30 million takedown requests to Google alone. Among the targeted websites is, the creators of the Mainline and uTorrent file-sharing clients. While the site doesn't appear to host any infringing content, NBCUniversal keeps asking Google to remove URLs.

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