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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 41 min ago

Links 21/3/2019: Wayland 1.17.0, Samba 4.10.0, OpenShot 2.4.4 and Zorin Beta

12 hours 9 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Google is winning in education, but Apple and Microsoft are battling for market share

      Apple used to have the most devices in U.S. schools, but Google soared to the top after the release of the Chromebook in 2011. In 2018, Chromebooks made up 60 percent of all laptops and tablets purchased for U.S. K-12 classrooms, up from just 5 percent in 2012. Microsoft is second at 22 percent, followed by Apple, with 18 percent of shipments to U.S. schools in 2018, according to data from Futuresource Consulting.

  • Server
    • Portworx Boosts Cloud-Native Data Security and Disaster Recovery

      ortworx announced the latest edition of its namesake cloud-native storage and data management platform on March 20, providing users with new security and disaster recovery capabilities.

      Portworx Enterprise 2.1 integrates a new feature the company has dubbed PX-Security, which provides granular role-based access controls that go beyond what are natively available in the open-source Kubernetes cloud-native container orchestration system. Data backup is being enhanced with the new PX-DR disaster recovery feature that provides low latency resiliency for critical data recovery.

      “Kubernetes alone can’t meet all of an enterprise’s application needs,” Murli Thirumale, co-founder and CEO of Portworx, told eWEEK. “There are needs around security monitoring, and particularly data storage and data management that are needed to really allow adoption of containers and Kubernetes orchestration across a wide set of application platforms.”

    • A Look Back and What’s in Store for Kubernetes Contributor Summits

      As our contributing community grows in great numbers, with more than 16,000 contributors this year across 150+ GitHub repositories, it’s important to provide face to face connections for our large distributed teams to have opportunities for collaboration and learning. In Contributor Experience, our methodology with planning events is a lot like our documentation; we build from personas – interests, skills, and motivators to name a few. This way we ensure there is valuable content and learning for everyone.

    • 3 Reasons Every Enterprise Should Use Kubernetes

      As those who follow me online know, I’ve long been a fan of Kubernetes—and it’s clear I’m not alone. Kubernetes is less than five years old and it’s become the de facto container management system across the globe. In fact, back in Forrester’s cloud predictions for 2018 experts were already declaring Kubernetes the victor in the “war for container orchestration dominance.”[1] Its popularity has only grown since then and CIOs across industries are considering it the gold standard for container management, especially when it comes to supporting their DevOps efforts.

    • Three Ways Long Term Service Pack Support (LTSS) Makes the Life of Enterprise IT Easier
    • Knative: What developers need to know

      Knative is not just a hot topic in software development, it’s a whole new way to look at services and functions. As a developer, what do you need to know to take advantage of this cutting-edge technology? Are there important design or implementation considerations? Let’s take a look.

    • Quarkus 0.12.0 released

      Quarkus, a next-generation Kubernetes native Java framework, was announced in early March, and now Quarkus 0.12.0 has been released and is available from the Maven repository. The quickstarts, guides, and website also have been updated, and 213 issues and PRs are included in this release. That’s quite a few updates, but in particular check out the new metrics, health check, and Kafka guides. Also, this release requires GraalVM 1.0.0-RC13 for Building a Native Executable.

    • How Service Meshes Are a Missing Link for Microservices

      “We are coming to all those communities and basically pitching them to move, right? We tell them, ‘look, monolithic is very complicated — let’s move to microservices,’ so, they are working very, very hard to move but then they discover that the tooling is not that mature,” Idit Levine, founder and CEO of Solo.io, said. “And actually, there are many gaps in the tooling that they had or used it before and now they’re losing this functionality. For instance, like logging or like debugging microservices is a big problem and so on.”

      Levine, whose company offers service mesh solutions, also described how service meshes were designed to “solve exactly this problem,” during a podcast episode of The New Stack Analyst hosted by Alex Williams, founder and editor-in-chief of The New Stack, with Janakiram MSV, a The New Stack Correspondent and principal of Janakiram & Associates.

      One of the first things organizations notice when migrating away from monolithic to microservices environments is how “suddenly you’re losing your observability for all of the applications,” Levine said. “That’s one thing that [service meshes] is really big in solving.”

      Then there is security. Making sure that applications and microservices are secure involves different dynamics than monolithic security does in a number of ways. “Are microservices allowed to talk to each other or are they not?” Levine said. “How you do all this policy about who’s allowed to talk to whom and if it’s secure” is a major consideration.

      Routing can also pose problems. “It’s about making sure that the pipe is available to all those microservices with all of the connections,” Levine said. “This is one of three problems any organization will have once they try to move to microservices — and that’s exactly why service mesh is needed because it’s solving those problems.”

      The early development of service meshes can be traced back to when Google, IBM and other firms created Istio, Levine noted. “And the reason I believed that they did it is because they looked at their Linkerd and they just said, ‘yeah, the idea is very solid but the implementation is not the best.’”

      The issue, Levine said, was how the Java code “was very, very heavy and then there was a lot of overhead in the performance and the installation and the overall solution.”

    • Google Open Sources Sandboxed API

      Google on Monday announced that it has made available its Sandboxed API as open source in an effort to make it easier for software developers to create secure products.

      It’s not uncommon for applications to be affected by memory corruption or other types of vulnerabilities that can be exploited for remote code execution and other purposes. Using a sandbox ensures that the code responsible for processing user input can only access the resources it needs to, which mitigates the impact of a flaw by containing the exploit to a restricted environment and preventing it from interacting with other software components.

      While sandboxing can be highly useful, Google says it’s often not easy to implement. That is why the internet giant has decided to open source its Sandboxed API, which should make it easier to sandbox C and C++ libraries. The company has also open sourced its core sandboxing project, Sandbox2, which can be used on its own to secure Linux processes.

    • BMC Touches Clouds with Job Scheduler

      Clouds are growing quickly as IT executives look to find more flexibility and cut costs by adopting cloud and software as a service (SaaS) applications. But most enterprises aren’t getting rid of all their on-premise systems, which means somebody needs to connect those cloud and on-premise systems. One of those “somebodies” is BMC Software.

    • Midnight Commander Comes To IBM i

      IBM i professionals who work extensively with files in the IFS will be happy to hear a new software utility has been ported to the IBM i PASE environment that could save them a bunch of time. The open source software, called Midnight Commander, gives developers and administrators a handy command line experience that can help speed up tasks, especially when giving commands to large number of files stored on remote machines.

      Midnight Commander was originally developed in 1994 as a file utility for UNIX, which was beginning to emerge from software labs to challenge minicomputer platforms of the day, such as the AS/400, as well as early Windows operating systems. Miguel de Icaza, who’s known for founding the Mono project (among others), is credited with creating Midnight Commander, but over the years development of the product has become a group effort.

      The utility, which is distributed via a GNU license from www.midnightcommander.org, was largely modeled off Norton Commander, an MS-DOS utility developed in the 1980s by Norton. But Midnight Commander has evolved into its own thing over the years, and the resemblance to that old Norton product today largely is only in the name.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Episode 59 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we’ll talk about some big releases from the GNOME desktop environment, Sway window manager, distro releases from Lakka, KNOPPIX and UBports’ Ubuntu Touch. I’ve got a couple of announcements for this show, TuxDigital and a Linux Conference I will be attenting so be sure to check out that segment. We’ll also check out some new releases from Audacity, Mesa drivers, NetworkManager, TLP project and more. We’ll also look at a new file sharing service provided by Mozilla. Then we’ll discuss some news from the Linux Foundation, Debian and Humble Bundle. All that and much more on your Weekly Source for Linux GNews.

    • FLOSS Weekly 522: Railroader

      Railroader is a security static analysis tool for applications that use Ruby on Rails. Railroader will examine custom code to look for potential problems, and warn about them. Railroader can’t find every vulnerability, but it’s a great tool to help find problems before they hurt anyone. It is a static analysis tool – that means it does not try to run the application users are analyzing. Railroader is an OSS fork of the Brakeman project, which has gone proprietary

    • LHS Episode #276: Logical Volume Management Deep Dive

      Hello and welcome to Episode 276 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode, the hosts take a relatively in-depth look at the world of Logical Volume Management under Linux. LVM is a method for creating redundant, scalable and highly available disk volumes that can span multiple physical drives and media types. The topic is more immersive than could be covered in one episode but this should be a good initial primer for anyone looking to explore what LVM can offer. Thanks for listening.

    • Going Linux #365 · Listener Feedback

      We hear from George about Windows and printers. Roger and Gord also comment on printers. Many questions as always, and a report of problems installing the Software Center.

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 801
  • Kernel Space
    • 5.1 Merge window part 1

      As of this writing, 6,135 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline repository for the 5.1 release. That is approximately halfway through the expected merge-window volume, which is a good time for a summary. A number of important new features have been merged for this release; read on for the details.

    • Controlling device peer-to-peer access from user space

      The recent addition of support for direct (peer-to-peer) operations between PCIe devices in the kernel has opened the door for different use cases. The initial work concentrated on in-kernel support and the NVMe subsystem; it also added support for memory regions that can be used for such transfers. Jérôme Glisse recently proposed two extensions that would allow the mapping of those regions into user space and mapping device files between two devices. The resulting discussion surprisingly led to consideration of the future of core kernel structures dealing with memory management.

      Some PCIe devices can perform direct data transfers to other devices without involving the CPU; support for these peer-to-peer transactions was added to the kernel for the 4.20 release. The rationale behind the functionality is that, if the data is passed between two devices without modification, there is no need to involve the CPU, which can perform other tasks instead. The peer-to-peer feature was developed to allow Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) network interface cards to pass data directly to NVMe drives in the NVMe fabrics subsystem. Using peer-to-peer transfers lowers the memory bandwidth needed (it avoids one copy operation in the standard path from device to system memory, then to another device) and CPU usage (the devices set up the DMAs on their own). While not considered directly in the initial work, graphics processing units (GPUs) and RDMA interfaces have been able to use that functionality in out-of-tree modules for years.

      The merged work concentrated on support at the PCIe layer. It included setting up special memory regions and the devices that will export and use those regions. It also allows finding out if the PCIe topology allows the peer-to-peer transfers.

    • Intel Posts Linux Perf Support For Icelake CPUs

      With the core functionality for Intel Icelake CPUs appearing to be in place, Intel’s open-source developers have been working on the other areas of hardware enablement for these next-generation processors.

      The latest Icelake Linux patches we are seeing made public by Intel is in regards to the “perf” subsystem support. Perf, of course, is about exposing the hardware performance counters and associated instrumentation that can be exercised by user-space when profiling performance of the hardware and other events.

    • What is after Gemini Lake?

      Based on a 10 nm manufacturing process, the Elkhart Lake SoC uses Tremont microarchitectures (Atom) [2] and features Gen 11 graphics similar to the Ice Lake processors [3]. Intel’s Gen 11 solution offers 64 execution units, and it has managed over 1 TFLOP in GPU performance [4]. This can be compared with the Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 which offered a peak throughput of 0.94 TFLOPs [5]. Code has already been added in the Linux mainline kernel [6] suggesting a possible Computex announcement and mid to late 2019 availability [7].

    • Systemd’s Nspawn Lands OCI Runtime Support

      Merged this morning into the systemd code-base was a big feature addition that’s been in the works for the better part of one year by Lennart Poettering and other developers.

      Merged into the systemd tree is now the OCI runtime support for nspawn. Systemd’s Nspawn, their tool that can be used for starting an OS within a lightweight container, now has support for the OCI run-time specification.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Linux Foundation Adds a Project for Building Data Best Practices

        The Linux Foundation today added a new project, called DataPractices.org, which acts as a template for data best practices. The project will offer open coursework for data teamwork in an effort to create a vendor-neutral community to establish these practices and increase data knowledge.

        The project was initially created by data.world, a data catalog platform for data and analysis, as a data practices manifesto. The manifesto contains the values and principles that create an effective, modern, and ethical approach to data teamwork. According to Brett Hurt, data.world co-founder and CEO, the main goal of the project is to “raise the level of data literacy across the ecosystem.”

        Data teamwork, said Hurt, is a method for bringing together “your data practitioners, subject matter experts, and other stakeholders by removing costly barriers to data discovery, comprehension, integration, and sharing.” He added that this method enables companies to “achieve anything with data, faster.”

        Under the Linux Foundation, DataPractices.org will continue and further the work started by data.world’s manifesto. The manifesto is up on the Linux Foundation’s website (and available to sign) and contains a number of values and principles.

      • The Kodi Foundation Officially Joins Forces with The Linux Foundation

        Ever since the first line of its code was written, there was the idea of creating Kodi (known as XBMC back in the day) based on open-source principles. This means that the source code of this application is available for anyone to access, see, review, and edit as they see fit. And now, the Kodi Foundation has joined the Linux Foundation in a not-as-surprising move as these organizations share the same core values.

        In a freshly-published blog post, Kodi’s development team explains the reasons why it has joined the Linux Foundation as an Associate Member. This move will allow Kodi’s team to work with similar organizations, spread their reach, and to improve their own software in the long run. The Linux Foundation has both corporate members and individual supporters, with companies like Google, Microsoft, Huawei, Intel, IBM, Oracle, Samsung, and many others on board.

      • Cloud Native Computing Foundation Announces Kingsoft Cloud as Gold Member

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation® (CNCF®), which sustains open source technologies like Kubernetes® and Prometheus, today announced that Kingsoft Cloud has joined the Foundation as a Gold member.

        Kingsoft Cloud, a unit of Kingsoft Group, is a leading global cloud computing service provider. According to recent research from IDC, Kingsoft is among the top three cloud computing companies in China. The company offers a broad portfolio covering cloud server, physical cloud host, relational database, object storage, load balancing, VPN, CDN, cloud security, cloud DNS, and more, as well as cloud-based solutions for the government and enterprises in vertical industries.

        “By joining CNCF, we look forward to contributing to a more holistic integration of open source technologies across real-world business scenarios,” said Liu Tao,General Manager for Product Center of Cloud Computing and Partner of Kingsoft Cloud. “Becoming a Gold member will not only increase our power to innovate with cutting-edge technologies, but the practical experience Kingsoft Cloud brings can help the CNCF community deploy its projects across commercial application scenarios.”

    • Graphics Stack
      • Intel’s Iris Gallium3D Driver Lands Support For Fast Color Clears

        Intel’s Iris Gallium3D driver may now see slightly better performance in some scenarios thanks to fast color clears support having landed.

        The Iris driver continues picking up new features and optimizations ahead of its debut next quarter in Mesa 19.1 as the next-generation successor to Intel’s long-standing i965 “classic” Mesa driver. The Iris Gallium3D driver is focused on supporting Broadwell “Gen 8″ graphics and newer.

      • NVIDIA 418.56 Linux Driver Released With GeForce MX230 / MX250 Support

        Out for GDC week is the NVIDIA 418.56 Linux driver as the latest stable update to their current long-lived driver release branch.

        New hardware support with the NVIDIA 418.56 Linux driver is support for the GeForce MX230 and MX250.

      • Radeon GPU Analyzer 2.1 Adds Vulkan Support In Its GUI, Other Debug Improvements

        AMD has launched a new version of its open-source Radeon GPU Analyzer (RGA) software under the GPUOpen umbrella.

        The Radeon GPU Analyzer allows the offline compiler and code analysis for DirectX/OpenGL/Vulkan/OpenCL code with various nifty features catered towards AMD GPUs. This is an important tool for game/graphics developers trying to study performance bottlenecks or other issues happening on Radeon hardware.

      • SVT-AV1 Can Now Achieve 1080p @ 60 FPS AV1 Video Encoding On Select Configurations

        The performance out of Intel’s SVT video encoders for offering great CPU-based video encoding performance for the likes of HEVC / AV1 / VP9 continues maturing quite nicely. Since discovering Intel’s open-source work at the start of February and benchmarking it several times since, its performance has continued to improve particularly for the SVT-AV1 encoder.

        The work on SVT-AV1 is notable considering all of the other CPU-based AV1 video encoders have been notoriously slow. As of the latest performance optimizations in their Git tree, when using the 8th level encoding pre-set, SVT-AV1 should be capable of achieving up to 1080p @ 60 FPS when using a Xeon Platinum 8180 processor. That’s quite a beefy CPU, but the results are impressive when considering where the SVT-AV1 performance was even at one week ago.

      • wayland 1.17.0

        Wayland 1.17 is released, with no changes (except the version) since RC1.

      • Wayland 1.17 Released With Updated Protocol & Other Improvements

        Wayland release manager Derek Foreman has officially announced the release of Wayland 1.17, the first official update since last August.

        Wayland 1.17 isn’t the most exciting release for end-users but does have some low-level improvements in tow. Wayland 1.17 has some memory leaks plugged and other fixes to its scanner code and tests, the wl_seat protocol has been updated to require keymaps be private and perhaps most notable with Wayland 1.17 is support for internal server error messages. These internal server error messages allow for notifying clients of internal bugs as up to now there was no way of notifying clients of internal server errors. This is an interesting contribution to Wayland by Canonical’s Christopher James Halse Rogers.

  • Applications
    • Samba 4.10.0 Available for Download

      This is the first stable release of the Samba 4.10 release series.
      Please read the release notes carefully before upgrading.

    • Samba 4.10 Released With Pre-Fork Process Model Improvements, Full Support For Python 3

      For those using Samba as the open-source re-implementation of SMB/CIFS and allowing for file/print sharing with Microsoft Windows systems, Samba 4.10 is now available as the project’s latest feature release.

      Samba 4.10 marks the first release where it has full support for Python 3 finally in place. Python 2 also remains supported but this is expected to be the last Samba release with full support for Python 2. Python 3 will be used by default where present.

    • 15 Best Free Linux Wiki Engines

      A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. A Wiki engine is a type of collaborative software that runs a wiki system. This facilitates web pages being created and edited using a web browser. This type of software is usually implemented as an application server that runs on one or more web servers.

      The content is stored in a file system, and changes to the content are typically stored in a relational database management system (such as MySQL), although some simple wiki engines use text files instead.

      Wikis try to make it as simple as possible to write and share useful content, using intuitive page naming and text formatting conventions. Wikis are usually (but not always) wide open and assume a cooperating community. However, with spam bots prevalent, most wiki engines have lots of anti-spam measures such as page permissions, Access Control Lists, host blocking, blacklists, and CAPTCHAs in place.

      To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 15 high quality free Linux wiki engines. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wishes to share information with others.

    • Michal Čihař: translation-finder 1.1

      The translation-finder module has been released in version 1.1. It is used by Weblate to detect translatable files in the repository making setup of translation components in Weblate much easier. This release brings lot of improvements based on feedback from our users, making the detection more reliable and accurate.

    • OpenShot 2.4.4 Released | Keyframe Scaling, Docking, and More!

      I am proud to announce the immediate release of OpenShot 2.4.4, the absolute best version yet! This is going to be a long post, but here is a quick summary for those who are short on time. This release brings huge performance and stability improvements, along with some major bug fixes, lots of polish, and many new features.

    • OpenShot 2.4.4 Released With Better SVG Rendering, Preview Performance

      OpenShot 2.4.4 is the latest update to this long advancing open-source non-linear video editing solution that competes with the likes of Kdenlive and Shotcut.

    • Proprietary
      • Nuvola: Desktop Music Player for Streaming Services

        Initially I thought that it wouldn’t be too different than simply running the web app in Firefox, since many desktop environments like KDE support media controls and shortcuts for media playing in Firefox.

        However, this isn’t the case with many other desktops environments and that’s where Nuvola comes in handy. Often, it’s also faster to access than loading the website on the browser.

        Once loaded, it behaves pretty much like a normal web app with the benefit of keyboard shortcuts. Speaking of shortcuts, you should check out the list of must know Ubuntu shortcuts.

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Wine or Emulation
    • Games
      • Stadia is about the future of YouTube, not gaming

        Yesterday, Google announced plans for a new game-streaming service called Stadia. Besides the logo, the controller, and a single game — Doom Eternal — the announcement left us with more questions than answers. Primary in my mind has been the query of why Google needs to be in the gaming business at all. Isn’t it enough to dominate web search, ads, and browsers, smartphone operating systems, and maps? What part of our lives does Google not want to know about? And then it dawned on me that we might be looking at it from the wrong perspective: what if Stadia isn’t a case of Google aggressively entering a new business sphere, but rather a defensive one to protect its existing kingdom?

      • Google Stadia’s Grand Vision for Gaming Clashes With America’s Shitty Internet

        Slow speeds, usage caps, and overage fees could mar the long-awaited arrival of game streams.

      • Slow Broadband, Usage Caps Could Mar Google Stadia’s Game Streaming Ambitions

        I can remember being at E3 in 2000 and being pitched on the idea of a sort of “dumb terminal” for gaming. As in, you wouldn’t need a computer or game console in your home, since all of the actual game processing would be accomplished in the cloud then streamed to your TV via broadband. Most of these early pitches never materialized. Initially because cloud computing simply wasn’t fully baked yet, but also thanks to America’ shoddy broadband.

        Cloud-based game streaming is something the industry has continued to push for, though nobody has yet to truly crack the market. Onlive probably tried the hardest, though again a lack of real cloud horsepower and sketchy residential broadband prevented the service from truly taking off.

        Undaunted, Google took to the stage at the Game Developers Conference to unveil Stadia, a looming game streaming platform that will let gamers play top-shelf games on any hardware with a Chrome browser. Google insists that the service, when it launches this summer, will be able to drive games at up to 4K resolution and 60 frames per second seamlessly between multiple devices with no need for game consoles, high-end PCs, loading times, or installs. The whole presentation is available here:

      • Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney on PC store moderation: ‘We’re not in the porn business’

        Last year, Valve announced a hands-off approach to Steam that would allow anything onto the platform “except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.” In addition to the Rape Day controversy, that policy has pushed Valve to take hardline stances on content revolving around child exploitation, school shootings, and most recently around tributes memorializing the New Zealand shooter. Sweeney, it seems, does not see the value it trying to protect content that pushes up against that amorphous line.

      • Linux Gaming Report and Purism Librem 15 | Choose Linux 5

        Jason goes deeper down the rabbit hole by exploring the state of Steam gaming on 9 different Linux distributions. Find out how Fedora compares to Pop!_OS.

        Plus, first impressions of Purism’s brand new Librem 15 v4 laptop.

      • Objects in Space released for Linux on Steam, needs you to disable Steam Play

        While the Linux version has been up on GOG for a little while, Steam was left a bit behind. Now the Linux version on Steam has been officially announced and released but there’s an issue with Steam Play.

      • First-person roguelike ‘Barony’ released the Myths & Outcasts DLC recently, also now on GOG

        Barony is a game I hadn’t honestly touched in a very long time, which all changed with the Myths & Outcasts DLC that released last month giving new ways to play. It’s also now on GOG, so that’s great.

      • Chasm, the adventure platformer from Bit Kid just had a big update giving more variety

        Chasm, the crowdfunded adventure platformer continues to see great post-release support with the latest big free update out now.

        While it’s not a personal favourite of mine (I much prefer Dead Cells honestly), it’s still a reasonably good game overall. In fact, it’s far better than a lot of action/adventure platformers and it does look great.

      • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive now has much better queue times for Danger Zone

        Following on from the tweak to Danger Zone to focus more on duos, Valve are still tweaking their Battle Royale mode in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as well as the game as a whole.

        Firstly, for Danger Zone you should now see much better queue times for matchmaking. Before this patch, I could easily see queue times around 3 to 5 minutes (often the latter) even with a lot of people online which is not ideal and frankly that makes me (and no doubt others) get bored and look to play something else. Since this patch has dropped, I’ve played a good 30-40 matches and not a single one has hit even 2 minutes queue time (under 1 minute mostly now!) which is a pretty huge improvement.

        • SteamOS is alive with a new beta and updated drivers, also a new Steam Client Beta is out

          Valve haven’t given up on their home-grown Linux distribution yet, with SteamOS seeing another beta update. Additionally, there’s another Steam Client Beta update about.

          As far as updates to SteamOS go, the last time they actually announced anything was with the 2.170 update back in January but they have actually been doing multiple newer builds since then you can see here. Just today, they officially announced the SteamOS 2.183 beta and the gist of it is this…

        • Oxygen Not Included from Klei Entertainment to leave Early Access in May with new content

          Oxygen Not Included, the incredible space-colony sim from Klei Entertainment is leaving Early Access in May and they’ve detailed some of what’s coming and future plans.

          Before I get started, I just want to mention how much I love Oxygen Not Included. It fills me with wonder as much as it charges me with rage at times, especially when all my people are sick and throwing up everywhere or urinating in our clean water. It has a fantastic style to it too, although Klei games always look good (Don’t Starve being another example of this). It’s quite amusing to rename your people too, makes it quite hilarious when someone you know well goes around wrecking the place. Every game is a new challenge, every cavern you dig into might have something awesome and it’s just good fun.

        • Kingdom Rush Origins expanded again recently, the Forgotten treasures expansion is out

          Kingdom Rush Origins, the excellent tower defense game from Ironhide Game Studio is seeing some great updates, with another campaign named Forgotten treasures now up.

        • Google Announces Stadia Cloud Gaming Service Powered by Linux and Vulkan

          Google announced today during the GDC (Game Developers Conference) 2019 conference a new cloud-based video game streaming platform called Stadia.
          With Stadia, Google aims to take on Nvidia’s GeForce NOW and Valve’s Steam Link game streaming services by offering users select and original titles developed in-house, as well as instant access to your games library, which you’ll be able to stream virtually anywhere in up to 4K HDR resolutions at 60 frames per second.

          “To build Stadia, we’ve thought deeply about what it means to be a gamer and worked to converge two distinct worlds: people who play video games and people who love watching them. Stadia will lift restrictions on the games we create and play—and the communities who enjoy them,” said Phil Harrison, Vice President and GM, Google Stadia.

          Stadia promises to be an advanced game streaming powered by Google’s globally connected network of data centers that combine server class CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage to deliver 24/7 gaming to players around the world and unlimited resources to game developers who want to create original and gorgeous games.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs
      • GNOME Desktop/GTK
        • Parental controls hackfest

          Various of us have been meeting in the Red Hat offices in London this week (thanks Red Hat!) to discuss parental controls and digital wellbeing. The first two days were devoted to this; today and tomorrow will be dedicated to discussing metered data (which is unrelated to parental controls, but the hackfests are colocated because many of the same people are involved in both).

        • GNOME Bugzilla closed for new bug entry

          As part of GNOME’s ongoing migration from Bugzilla to Gitlab, from today on there are no products left in GNOME Bugzilla which allow the creation of new tickets.
          The ID of the last GNOME Bugzilla ticket is 797430 (note that there are gaps between 173191–200000 and 274555–299999 as the 2xxxxx ID range was used for tickets imported from Ximian Bugzilla).

          Since the year 2000, the Bugzilla software had served as GNOME’s issue tracking system. As forges emerged which offer tight and convenient integration of issue tracking, code review of proposed patches, automated continuous integration testing, code repository browsing and hosting and further functionality, Bugzilla’s shortcomings became painful obstacles for modern software development practices.

          Nearly all products which used GNOME Bugzilla have moved to GNOME Gitlab to manage issues. A few projects (Bluefish, Doxygen, GnuCash, GStreamer, java-gnome, LDTP, NetworkManager, Tomboy) have moved to other places (such as freedesktop.org Gitlab, self-hosted Bugzilla instances, or Github) to track their issues.

        • Metered data hackfest

          We’re now into the second day of the metered data hackfest in London. Yesterday we looked at Endless’ existing metered data implementation, which is restricted to OS and application updates, and discussed how it could be reworked to fit in with the new control centre design, and which applications would benefit from scheduling their large downloads to avoid using metered data unnecessarily (and hence costing the user money).

          The conclusion was that the first step is to draw up a design for the control centre integration, which determines when to allow downloads on metered connections, and which connections are actually metered. Then to upstream the integration of metered data with gnome-software, so that app and OS updates adhere to the policy. Integration with other applications which do large downloads (such as podcasts, file syncing, etc.) can then follow.

    • Distributions
      • New Releases
        • Zorin OS 15 Enters Beta with Flatpak Support, Based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS

          The development team behind the Ubuntu-based and user-friendly Zorin OS GNU/Linux distribution announced that they are working on the next major release, Zorin OS 15, which entered beta testing today.

          Based on the long-term supported Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system series, Zorin OS 15 promises a revamped user experience that has been modeled to suit everyone’s needs, not only those who are migrating from a Microsoft Windows operating system, but also power users and advanced Linux users.

          “Creating a Linux desktop operating system that’s designed for everyone – not only the engineers & power users – has always been the mission of Zorin OS, ever since the first release nearly 10 years ago. Zorin OS 15 takes this decade-long effort and amplifies it to the next level,” said the Zorin OS team in today’s announcement.

        • Windows 7 nagging you to move to Windows 10? Upgrade to Linux instead with Zorin OS 15 Beta!

          Well, folks, it’s happening — Windows 7 will soon be unsupported. Yes, the last Microsoft operating system to truly be loved by users will soon be dead. Microsoft would love for these users to switch to Windows 10, but understandably, not everyone wants to. After all, the user interface is a mess, and there are spying concerns with overly aggressive telemetry.

          If you are still on Windows 7, Microsoft will soon begin warning you that support is ending. I actually don’t hate Microsoft for nagging these users — quite the opposite. The company informing users that the Windows 7 operating system will soon be dangerous to use should be celebrated. Thankfully, Windows 10 is not the only path — Linux is a great option these days. In fact, one of my favorite distributions for Windows switchers, Zorin OS, has a new Beta out today. You should definitely give it a go.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts
      • Fedora
      • Debian Family
        • DebConf20 Conference to Be Hosted in Haifa, Israel, for Debian GNU/Linux 11

          port city built in tiers, Haifa is found in the northern area of Israel, extending from the Mediterranean sea till the north slope of the Carmel Mountain National Park. Haifa it’s the third-largest city in Israel after Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and it is close to the biblical city Nazareth where Jesus studied and prayed.

          In 2020, the Debian Project will celebrate 12 years since the first DebConf Debian developer conference, so they decided to choose Israel instead of Lisbon, Portugal, for next year’s DebConf20 event despite the extensive discussions between the DebConf team and committee due to Israel’s political system.

        • Bits from Debian: DebConf19 registration is open!

          Registration for DebConf19 is now open. The event will take place from July 21st to 28th, 2019 at the Central campus of Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná – UTFPR, in Curitiba, Brazil, and will be preceded by DebCamp, from July 14th to 19th, and an Open Day on the 20th.

          DebConf is an event open to everyone, no matter how you identify yourself or how others perceive you. We want to increase visibility of our diversity and work towards inclusion at Debian Project, drawing our attendees from people just starting their Debian journey, to seasoned Debian Developers or active contributors in different areas like packaging, translation, documentation, artwork, testing, specialized derivatives, user support and many other. In other words, all are welcome.

        • Jonathan Carter: GitLab and Debian

          As part of my DPL campaign, I thought that I’d break out a few items out in blog posts that don’t quite fit into my platform. This is the first post in that series.

          When Debian was hunting for a new VCS-based collaboration suite in 2017, the administrators of the then current platform, called Alioth (which was a FusionForge instance) strongly considered adopting Pagure, a git hosting framework from Fedora. I was a bit saddened that GitLab appeared to be losing the race, since I’ve been a big fan of the project for years already. At least Pagure would be a huge improvement over the status quo and it’s written in Python, which I considered a plus over GitLab, so at least it wasn’t going to be all horrible.

          The whole discussion around GitLab vs Pagure turned out to be really fruitful though. GitLab did some introspection around its big non-technical problems, especially concerning their contributor licence agreement, and made some major improvements which made GitLab a lot more suitable for large free software projects, which shortly lead to its adoption by both the Debian project and the Gnome project. I think it’s a great example of how open communication and engagement can help reduce friction and make things better for everyone. GitLab has since became even more popular and is now the de facto self-hosted git platform across all types of organisations.

        • Lucas Nussbaum: Call for help: graphing Debian trends

          It has been raised in various discussions how much it’s difficult to make large-scale changes in Debian.

          I think that one part of the problem is that we are not very good at tracking those large-scale changes, and I’d like to change that. A long time ago, I did some graphs about Debian (first in 2011, then in 2013, then again in 2015). An example from 2015 is given below, showing the market share of packaging helpers.

        • Antoine Beaupré: Securing registration email

          I’ve been running my own email server basically forever. Recently, I’ve been thinking about possible attack vectors against my personal email. There’s of course a lot of private information in that email address, and if someone manages to compromise my email account, they will see a lot of personal information. That’s somewhat worrisome, but there are possibly more serious problems to worry about.

          TL;DR: if you can, create a second email address to register on websites and use stronger protections on that account from your regular mail.

        • Daniel Pocock: Don’t trust me. Trust the voters.

          Any reply in support of my nomination has been censored, so certain bullies create the impression that theirs is the last word.

          I’ve put myself up for election before yet I’ve never, ever been so disappointed. Just as Venezuela’s crisis is now seen as a risk to all their neighbours, the credibility of elections and membership status is a risk to confidence throughout the world of free software. It has already happened in Linux Foundation and FSFE and now we see it happening in Debian.

          In student politics, I was on the committee that managed a multi-million dollar budget for services in the union building and worked my way up to become NUS ambassador to Critical Mass, paid to cycle home for a year and sharing an office with one of the grand masters of postal voting: Voters: 0, Cabals: 1.

          Ironically, the latter role is probably more relevant to the skills required to lead a distributed organization like Debian. Critical Mass rides have no leader at all.

          When I volunteered to be FSFE Fellowship representative, I faced six other candidates. On the first day of voting, I was rear-ended by a small van, pushed several meters along the road and thrown off a motorbike, half way across a roundabout. I narrowly missed being run over by a bus.

          It didn’t stop me. An accident? Russians developing new tactics for election meddling? Premonition of all the backstabbings to come? Miraculously, the Fellowship still voted for me to represent them.

        • Derivatives
          • Canonical/Ubuntu
            • Design and Web team summary – 15 March 2019

              This was a fairly busy two weeks for the Web & design team at Canonical.

              [...]

              We maintain the Vanilla css framework that most of the websites at Ubuntu and Canonical use. Here are a few patterns and websites that were updated.

    • Devices/Embedded
    Free Software/Open Source
    • Turris: secure open-source routers

      One of the other things it is doing is creating open-source home routers. It started because CZ.NIC wondered about how safe home users are from network attacks. Are there active attacks against home users? And, if so, how frequent are they and what kinds of attacks are being made? To figure out the answer, the organization created Project Turris to create a secure router that it gave away. These routers would monitor the network and report suspicious traffic back to the project. They also served as endpoints for some honeypots that the project was running.

      CZ.NIC wanted to make the Turris router “the right way”, he said, so the organization made it all open source. The router has automatic security updates and users are given root access on the device. It also sported some “interesting hardware”, Hrušecký said; it had a two-core PowerPC CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 256MB of NAND flash.

      Based on the information provided by the Turris routers, CZ.NIC researchers started publishing reports about what they were finding. That led some people to ask if they could get the routers themselves, because they felt that other router makers were “not doing things right”. That led to the creation of commercial Turris routers: the Turris Omnia (which was reviewed here in 2016) and the upcoming Turris Mox. Those routers will still allow people to participate in the research if they choose to.

      Building the routers with free and open-source software (FOSS) is really the only way to go, he said. The project knew that it was not going to be able to compete with small, cheap routers, so it created routers with lots of capability that would allow them to run lots of different kinds of services. FOSS makes it easy to get started on a project like this because there is lots of available software that can be easily integrated into the OS.

      These routers allow users to do whatever they want and people believe they are more capable than they truly are, Hrušecký said. That means they break things in “really creative ways”. Sometimes they will make custom changes, completely outside of the OS framework, which get overwritten with the next automatic update. These are “tricky problems” to handle; the project would not have if it locked its users out. At some “dark moments” he understands why some companies do that.

    • 4 questions Uber’s open source program office answers with data

      It’s been said that “Software is eating the world,” and every company will eventually become a “software company.” Since open source is becoming the mainstream path for developing software, the way companies manage their relationships with the open source projects they depend on will be crucial for their success.

      An open source program office (OSPO) is a company’s asset to manage such relationships, and more and more companies are setting them up. Even the Linux Foundation has a project called the TODO Group “to collaborate on practices, tools, and other ways to run successful and effective open source projects and programs”.

    • Baidu open-sources NLP model it claims achieves state-of-the-art results in Chinese language tasks

      Baidu, the Beijing conglomerate behind the eponymous Chinese search engine, invests heavily in natural language processing (NLP) research. In October, it debuted an AI model capable of beginning a translation just a few seconds into a speaker’s speech and finishing seconds after the end of a sentence, and in 2016 and 2017, it launched SwiftScribe, a web app powered by its DeepSpeech platform, and TalkType, a dictation-centric Android keyboard.

      Building on that and other previous work, Baidu this week detailed ERNIE (Enhanced Representation through kNowledge IntEgration), a natural language model based on its PaddlePaddle deep learning platform. The company claims it achieves “high accuracy” on a range of language processing tasks, including natural language inference, semantic similarity, named entity recognition, sentiment analysis, and question-answer matching, and that it’s state-of-the-art with respect to Chinese language understanding.

    • The New York Times has released an open-source tool to let you manage all your internal knowledge more easily

      Library is a wiki at heart, but it uses the familiar Google Docs as its backend and editing interface, easing maintenance for a wide population of users (“we wanted to meet people where they already were, rather than trying to teach them something entirely new”).

    • We Built a Collaborative Documentation Site. Deploy Your Own With the Push of a Button.

      Our solution to this problem has worked well for us. We hope others will find value in the technology we built, so we’re releasing Library to the open source community.

    • Events
      • foss-north 2019: Community Day

        I don’t dare to count the days until foss-north 2019, but it is very soon. One of the changes to this year is that we expand the conference with an additional community day.

        The idea with the community day here is that we arrange for conference rooms all across town and invite open source projects to use them for workshops, install fests, hackathons, dev sprints or whatever else they see fit. It is basically a day of mini-conferences spread out across town.

        The community day is on April 7, the day before the conference days, and is free of charge.

    • Web Browsers
      • Chrome
        • Google Releases Chrome 73 Update for Linux, Windows, and macOS

          Google has just released an update for Chrome 73, the major update of the browser that was shipped to all supported platforms earlier this month.

          Now at version 73.0.3683.86, Google Chrome comes with under-the-hood improvements on Windows, Linux, and macOS, and you can download it using the links here.

        • Google will implement a Microsoft-style browser picker for EU Android devices

          We don’t have many details on exactly how Google’s new search and browser picker will work; there’s just a single paragraph in the company’s blog post. Google says it will “do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones. This will involve asking users of existing and new Android devices in Europe which browser and search apps they would like to use.”

        • EU hits Google with fine for abuse of AdSense service

          The European Commission has hit search giant Google with a third fine, related to abuse of its AdSense advertising service, and told the company to fork out €1.49 billion (A$2.38 billion) for breaching EU anti-trust rules.

        • The EU fines Google $1.69 billion for bundling search and advertising

          Google and the EU’s European Commission are making all sorts of announcements lately. Fresh off the revelation that Google would implement a browser and search-engine picker in EU-sold Android devices, Google’s advertising division is getting slapped with a fine next, to the tune of €1.5 billion ($1.69 billion). The European Commission’s latest antitrust ruling says that Google’s bundling of its advertising platform with its custom search engine program is anti-competitive toward other ad providers.

      • Mozilla
        • Sharing our Common Voices

          From the onset, our vision for Common Voice has been to build the world’s most diverse voice dataset, optimized for building voice technologies. We also made a promise of openness: we would make the high quality, transcribed voice data that was collected publicly available to startups, researchers, and anyone interested in voice-enabled technologies.

          Today, we’re excited to share our first multi-language dataset with 18 languages represented, including English, French, German and Mandarin Chinese (Traditional), but also for example Welsh and Kabyle. Altogether, the new dataset includes approximately 1,400 hours of voice clips from more than 42,000 people.

          With this release, the continuously growing Common Voice dataset is now the largest ever of its kind, with tens of thousands of people contributing their voices and original written sentences to the public domain (CC0). Moving forward, the full dataset will be available for download on the Common Voice site.

        • Mozilla GFX: WebRender newsletter #42

          WebRender is a GPU based 2D rendering engine for web written in Rust, currently powering Mozilla’s research web browser servo and on its way to becoming Firefox‘s rendering engine.

        • Firefox UX: Look over here! Results from a Firefox user research study about interruptions.

          The Attention War. There have been many headlines related to it in the past decade. This is the idea that apps and companies are stealing attention. It’s the idea that technologists throw up ads on websites in a feeble attempt to get the attention of the people who visit the website.

          In tech, or any industry really, people often say something to the effect of, “well if the person using this product or service only read the instructions, or clicked on the message, or read our email, they’d understand and wouldn’t have any problems”. We need people’s attention to provide a product experience or service. We’re all in the “attention war”, product designers and users alike.

          And what’s a sure-fire way to grab someone’s attention? Interruptions. Regardless if they’re good, bad, or neutral. Interruptions are not necessarily a “bad” thing, they can also lead to good behavior, actions, or knowledge.

    • Databases
      • How to use Spark SQL: A hands-on tutorial

        In the first part of this series, we looked at advances in leveraging the power of relational databases “at scale” using Apache Spark SQL and DataFrames. We will now do a simple tutorial based on a real-world dataset to look at how to use Spark SQL. We will be using Spark DataFrames, but the focus will be more on using SQL. In a separate article, I will cover a detailed discussion around Spark DataFrames and common operations.

        I love using cloud services for my machine learning, deep learning, and even big data analytics needs, instead of painfully setting up my own Spark cluster. I will be using the Databricks Platform for my Spark needs. Databricks is a company founded by the creators of Apache Spark that aims to help clients with cloud-based big data processing using Spark.

      • Scaling relational databases with Apache Spark SQL and DataFrames
    • LibreOffice
      • LibreOffice 6.2.2 Office Suite Released with More Than 50 Fixes, Download Now

        While LibreOffice 6.1 is still the recommended version for those who want a more stable and well-tested LibreOffice office suite, LibreOffice 6.2.2 is here for technology enthusiasts and early adopters who want to get a taste of the latest new features and innovations in the free and open-source office suite used by millions of computer users worldwide.

        “LibreOffice 6.2.2 represents the bleeding edge in term of features for open source office suites, and as such is not optimized for enterprise-class deployments, where features are less important than robustness. Users wanting a more mature version can download LibreOffice 6.1.5, which includes some months of back-ported fixes.,” said Italo Vignoli.

      • The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2.2

        The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2.2, the third release of the LibreOffice 6.2 family targeted at tech savvy individuals: early adopters, technology enthusiasts and power users.

        LibreOffice individual users are supported by a global community of volunteers: https://www.libreoffice.org/get-help/community-support/. On the website and the wiki there are guides, manuals, tutorials and HowTos. Donations help us to make all these resources available.

        LibreOffice users are invited to join the community at https://www.libreoffice.org/community/get-involved/, to improve LibreOffice by contributing back in one of the following areas: development, documentation, infrastructure, localization, quality assurance, design or marketing.

    • BSD
    • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
      • FSFE Newsletter March 2019

        This month’s newsletter highlights the new project the FSFE recently joined and the funding opportunities it offers, that you may want to take advantage of. You can get the latest updates on the Copyright Directive reform and the hottest news regarding Article 13, as well as a short summary of what else has happened during the past month. In the Editor’s choice section this month you can find interesting news on developments with the Radio Equipment Directive, and find out who else have expressed their support for our “Public Money? Public Code!” campaign and what they have to say about it.

    • Licensing/Legal
      • FOSS vs FRAND is a collision of worldviews

        Of late there have been a number of interventions sponsored by the world’s largest and most profitable tech patent holders to muddy the waters about open source and FRAND licensing of patents in standards by arguing contentious minutiae like the intent of the authors of the BSD license. This is happening because of the clash of industries I wrote about in 2016, with companies fundamentally based on extracting patent royalties unable to imagine any other way of doing business so mistaking the issue of FRAND as being about license compliance rather than as it being an obstacle to the very purpose of open source in commercial software — collaboration with others.

      • Motivations and pitfalls for new “open-source” licenses

        One of the bigger developments of the last year has been the introduction of licenses that purport to address perceived shortcomings in existing free and open-source software licenses. Much has been said and written about them, some of it here, and they are clearly much on the community’s mind. At FOSDEM 2019, Michael Cheng gave his view on the motivations for the introduction of these licenses, whether they’ve been effective in addressing those motivations, what unintended consequences they may also have had, and the need for the community to develop some ground rules about them going forward.

        In the past year we have seen several unusual new licenses, the Server Side Public License (SSPL), the Commons Clause license addendum, the CockroachDB Community License, and the Confluent Community License among them. All either perturb the historical copyleft norm of “you must distribute derivative works under the same license” by extending the scope past what’s covered under the definition of a derivative work, or they exclude some historically permitted form of activity such as building similar works or making money. These developments have been of concern to many; talks at FOSDEM and the immediately-following Copyleft Conference with titles like “Redis Labs and the tragedy of the Commons Clause”, “Who wants you to think nobody uses the AGPL and why”, and “What is the maximum permissible scope for copyleft?” leave little room to doubt how many people are mulling over them.

    • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
      • Open Hardware/Modding
        • Ender 3: Open Source 3D Printer Reviewed By A 3D Printing Noob

          3D printing has been all the rage lately with both professionals and prosumers accomplishing incredible things from printing patient organs for surgery practice to printing robotic arms and quad-copters. As with all things, there has been a trickle-down effect that’s led to even the most inexperienced being able to obtain this revolutionary technology.

          Here we will explore my adventure from having never touched a 3D printer to assembling and operating my own Creality Ender 3.

    • Programming/Development
      • Trip Report: C++ Standards Meeting in Kona, February 2019

        A few weeks ago I attended a meeting of the ISO C++ Standards Committee (also known as WG21) in Kona, Hawaii. This was the first committee meeting in 2019; you can find my reports on 2018’s meetings here (November 2018, San Diego), here (June 2018, Rapperswil), and here (March 2018, Jacksonville). These reports, particularly the San Diego one, provide useful context for this post.

        This week marked the feature-complete deadline of C++20, so there was a heavy focus on figuring out whether certain large features that hadn’t yet merged into the working draft would make it in. Modules and Coroutines made it; Executors and Networking did not.

        Attendance at this meeting wasn’t quite at last meeting’s record-breaking level, but it was still quite substantial. We continued the experiment started at the last meeting of running Evolution Incubator (“EWGI”) and Library Evolution Incubator (“LEWGI”) subgroups to pre-filter / provide high-level directional guidance for proposals targeting the Evolution and Library Evolution groups (EWG and LEWG), respectively.

      • Comparing Machine Learning Methods

        When working with data and modeling, its sometimes hard to determine what model you should use for a particular modeling project. A quick way to find an algorithm that might work better than others is to run through an algorithm comparison loop to see how various models work against your data. In this post, I’ll be comparing machine learning methods using a few different sklearn algorithms.

      • Python Sets: Cheat Sheet
      • Unique sentinel values, identity checks, and when to use object() instead of None
      • The [IBM-sponsored] RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: January 2019
      • This Week in Rust 278
      • Speed: Default value vs checking for None
      • Book Review: Mission Python
      • How To Create A ‘Hello, World!’ Application With Django

        Django is a high-level full stack open source web framework written in Python, that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design. Django comes with lots of advance functionalities baked in which saves developers a lot of time. The simplicity Django offers lets developers focus more on writing the app instead of rewriting the same wheel. Since it’s release in 2003 Django has proven to be the most productive framework for Python developers to know more about Django read: Django – Web Framework For Perfectionists

        In this article, we will create the traditional “Hello, World!” app, which will basically display the string ‘Hello, world!’ in the browser. This might be your first Django app so pay close attention to the core principles of Django which we will discuss later in the article.

      • Announcing Public Anaconda Package Download Data

        I’m very happy to announce that starting today, we will be publishing summarized download data for all conda packages served in the Anaconda Distribution, as well as the popular conda-forge and bioconda channels. The dataset starts January 1, 2017 (April 2017 for Anaconda Cloud channels) and will be updated roughly once a month. We hope these data will help the community understand how quickly new package versions are being adopted, which platforms are popular for users, and track the usage of different Python versions. For example, this dataset can be used to see how the Python 2 to 3 transition has been progressing for the past 2 years:

      • [Older] BPF: A Tour of Program Types
      • How to Be a Tech-Savvy

        Learn how to write a program:
        You cannot make anything new in the computer world without programming skills. You can create windows, apps, websites, a desktop application using programming languages. Some programming languages that you can learn in your beginning level of becoming tech-savvy is Java, C, C++, Html, CSS, JAVASCRIPT, PHP, PYTHON. You can enhance your programming skills by sitting home by taking online tutorials.

        Use a Linux or Unix Operating System:
        If you want to be a tech- savvy I recommend using Unix operating system because a techy person mostly uses the Unix operating system in the world. Unix operating system is open source anyone can use it, and you can view its code too. So, it will help in enhancing your programming skills and learning about technical skills.

      • JDK 12: The new features in Java 12

        The production release of Java Development Kit 12, based on Java SE (Standard Edition) 12, is now available. JDK 12 builds are available from Oracle for Linux, Windows, and MacOS.

        [...]

        Open source builds are provided under the GNU General Public License v2, with Classpath Exception. Commercial builds of JDK 12 from Oracle can be found on the Oracle Technology network under a non-open source license.

      • Python dictionary “addition” and “subtraction”

        A proposal to add a new dictionary operator for Python has spawned a PEP and two large threads on the python-ideas mailing list. To a certain extent, it is starting to look a bit like the “PEP 572 mess”; there are plenty of opinions on whether the feature should be implemented and how it should be spelled, for example. As yet, there has been no formal decision made on how the new steering council will be handling PEP pronouncements, though a review of open PEPs is the council’s “highest priority”. This PEP will presumably be added into the process; it is likely too late to be included in Python 3.8 even if it were accepted soon, so there is plenty of time to figure it all out before 3.9 is released sometime in 2021.

      • Debugging and Profiling Python Scripts [Tutorial]

        Debugging and profiling play an important role in Python development. The debugger helps programmers to analyze the complete code. The debugger sets the breakpoints whereas the profilers run our code and give us the details of the execution time. The profilers will identify the bottlenecks in your programs. In this tutorial, we’ll learn about the pdb Python debugger, cProfile module, and timeit module to time the execution of Python code.

        This tutorial is an excerpt from a book written by Ganesh Sanjiv Naik titled Mastering Python Scripting for System Administrators. This book will show you how to leverage Python for tasks ranging from text processing, network administration, building GUI, web-scraping as well as database administration including data analytics & reporting.

    Leftovers
    • Science
      • Beeps and melodies in two-way radio

        Lately my listening activities have focused on two-way FM radio. I’m interested in automatic monitoring and visualization of multiple channels simultaneously, and classifying transmitters. There’s a lot of in-band signaling to be decoded! This post shall demonstrate this diversity and also explain how my listening station works.

    • Hardware
      • The Modern Workstation — A Litmus Test for Today

        The same is not true at the high-volume low end of the market, where workstations today at a component-level share much of the same technology and chips that drive the general PC marketplace. Under the hood of most workstations less than $2,000 are the same pieces of silicon-powered machines branded as high-performance PCs. CPUs are often the same Intel Core brand and even if the GPU is branded NVIDIA Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro, the silicon die at the heart of the graphics card is the same silicon driving sibling GeForce and Radeon consumer products. At this point, we can no longer point a finger at one or two hardware components in a box and conclude that the machine should be classified as a high-end desktop or a low-end workstation.

        Is the low-end workstation a marketing scam perpetrated by OEMs looking to increase their margins at the expense of customers? No, that’s a myth long dispelled, with most buyers understanding that while the make-up of the workstation has changed, its value as the premier tool for 3D visual computing is clear. However, there needs to be a different, legitimate means to cleanly differentiate the two, as the definitions or preconceptions formed in the 80s and 90s no longer apply.

    • Health/Nutrition
      • About a third of medical vaccine exemptions in San Diego came from one doctor

        A single San Diego doctor wrote nearly a third of the area’s medical vaccination exemptions since 2015, according to an investigation by the local nonprofit news organization Voice of San Diego.

      • How Rhode Island’s Emergency 911 System Failed Baby Alijah

        Barbara’s son had just gotten out of the shower and gone back downstairs to where his 6-month-old son was napping when she heard a scream. Then came the pounding of feet on the stairs of their home in Warwick, Rhode Island.

        Conner handed her Alijah, who was limp.

        Barbara tried to stay calm as she carried her grandson into the living room. She’d watched medical shows on TV where they did CPR on babies.

        “He’s turning purple!” Barbara shouted as her daughter, Jessica, spoke to a 911 operator. (We’re not using last names at the family’s request to protect their privacy.)

        “Do we give him mouth-to-mouth? What do we do?” Jessica, the baby’s aunt, asked the 911 call taker at one point.

        She never got a good answer.

        The call taker asked the same questions repeatedly, wasting crucial time. She gave incorrect information. And she failed to recognize that the baby was in cardiac arrest, meaning his heart had stopped and he was not breathing, according to three emergency medical experts who reviewed a recording of the 911 call obtained by Barbara and provided to The Public’s Radio.

        The call on that Friday morning in February 2018 lasted nearly four minutes, at which point emergency medical services personnel arrived. During the call, the 911 operator never instructed the family in how to perform a basic, potentially lifesaving, treatment: cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.

      • WaPo’s ‘Hard-Line’ Stance Against Medicare for All

        The phrase “hard-line,” as commonly used in the Washington Post, is almost always a pejorative. Often it references official enemy states like Iran (5/4/18, 5/9/18) or North Korea (1/18/19). In a recent Post (3/11/19) article, however, reporter Paige W. Cunningham used the term to refer to a different kind of enemy: proponents of Medicare for All.

        Among the “hard-line liberal groups and unions” the article refers to in its headline and lead is the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of approximately 100 national disability organizations. The “hard-line” groups include much of the grassroots movements for healthcare justice in the country: National Nurses United, Social Security Works and the Center for Popular Democracy. These orgs—described elsewhere in the piece as “advocates on the far left”—are devoted to such “hard-line” positions as universal healthcare, protecting senior citizens and empowering voters and activists. The Post is concerned that these groups provided input to Rep. Pramila Jayapal as she wrote the Medicare for All legislation (H.R. 1384) she introduced in February.

        In fact, what the Post describes as “hard-line” and “far left” is actually a very popular position. Medicare for All has long polled well among the public at large, especially Democratic voters. A Reuters poll from 2018 (The Hill, 8/23/18) showed 70 percent of the public, 85 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans support Medicare for All. That poll is the high water mark, but the policy polls well in most other polls as well (Politico/Harvard, 1/7/19).

        [...]

        The implication from Cunningham—who has been critiqued for parroting right-wing talking points by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters (2/15/18)—is that there are acceptably mainstream policies like the ACA, backed by acceptably mainstream groups like CAP. Jayapal and others, on the other hand, are going “a step (or steps) too far” with Medicare for All, “as it would upend health coverage for tens of millions of Americans”—according “to some progressives.”

        Assuredly “some progressives” disagree with the Medicare for All policy. It is also true that “some conservatives” agree with the policy. In fact, you can put the word “some” before virtually any demographic group and be correct. Given the volume of information about this issue available, it is hard to believe the Post could not be bothered to put these vague terms in context. Who are these progressives? Voters or politicians? Do they get money from the industry? There was no information about any of that.

      • Boston City Council Passes Groundbreaking Food Justice Ordinance

        Food justice advocates heaped praise on Boston Monday after the city’s legislative body unanimously passed an ordinance that boosts the local economy and environment as well as workers, animal welfare, and healthful eating.

        “With this passage, Boston has loosened the stranglehold that corporations have over our food system, especially in schools,” said Alexa Kaczmarski, senior organizer at Corporate Accountability, following the vote on the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP).

        “This will have ripple effects throughout the entire nation,” she added.

        The GFPP, sponsored by Boston City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu, affects public food purchasers, the largest of which is the Boston Public Schools, which has a $18 million food budget.

      • Strawberries, Spinach Top ‘Dirty Dozen’ List of Pesticide-Contaminated Produce

        Which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are most contaminated with pesticides? That’s the question that the Environmental Working Group answers every year with its “Dirty Dozen” list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides after being washed or peeled.

    • Security
      • The Many Flavors of Linux

        Linux is not as popularly used in both the security- and user-focused computing worlds as other OSes such as Windows and macOS, but it can still be used for both. In fact, depending on your needs, there are many different flavors of Linux you can use.

        And the different versions have key differences between them. Aside from security user-focused distros, there are what can be considered unique Linux distros that have their own specific uses, weird as they may be. This article will detail some of the many flavors of Linux available today and will leave you with a better understanding of their differences, and you will be in a better position to select the distro of Linux for your needs.

      • Putty 0.71 Fixes Weakness That Allows Fake Login Prompts

        The latest version of PuTTY SSH and Telnet client adds protection against spoofing the terminal authentication prompt to steal login info. Recently released, the update comes after a 20-month hiatus and fixes a total of eight security issues.

        An attacker taking advantage of this weakness could allow authentication on a malicious server with no password and at the start of the session send the text PuTTY shows when prompting for the private key passphrase.

      • VLANs and More Added to AccessEnforcer UTM Firewall

        AccessEnforcer Version 4.1 also updates firewall’s operating system to OpenBSD 6.3. OpenBSD is one of the most secure operating systems in the world. Version 6.3 provides additional mitigations against the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities and also mitigates against return-oriented programming and other memory corruption attacks.

      • Norwegian aluminium firm slowly recovering from ransomware attack

        Norwegian aluminium maker Norsk Hydro says it has made some progress restoring its systems back to normal after being hit by Windows ransomware known as LockerGoGa on Monday evening.

      • Spammers Send Junk Mail to Thousands of Printers

        Spam has been with us since the very first days of email, but a Russian marketing agency recently took things a stage further by sending good old-fashioned paper-based junk mail over the internet.

        The company claims to have advertised a graphic design course for its client Skillbox using a software bot that searched for online printers. It printed a one-page promotion on every device it found, directing them to a website boasting about its exploits.

        The website for the company’s marketing campaign, which I am deliberately not linking to here, explains that “by the 2024″, it is “94% likely” that bots will replace accountants, auditors, and financial analysts by the million. Consequently, it says, accountants (or anyone else worried about being replaced by AI) should learn graphic design instead. The stats come from a five-year-old Oxford Martin School report, but that needn’t concern us here.

        What’s more interesting is another statistic: 600,000. That’s how many printers the marketing agency claim to have clogged up with advertising, according to this report from Graham Cluley.

        [...]

        It wouldn’t be the first time that someone had spammed printers online. In December, a hacker calling himself TheHackerGiraffe spammed 50,000 printers promoting popular YouTube celebrity PewDiePie. Other incidents have been much darker. Nazi nerd Andrew Aurenheimer, a.k.a. Weev, sent white supremacist messages to every printer in North America that he could find instead of using Shodan, he used Masscan, which is a mass IP port scanner.

      • Android clampdown on calls and texts access trashes bunch of apps

        Android looks a little less open now that Google has begun to enforce draconian new rules on accessing a phone’s call and text logs.

        Developers have been forced to remove features or in some cases change the fundamental nature of the application. One example is BlackBerry’s Hub, an email client which also aggregated notifications from a variety of apps and presented them chronologically in a timeline. This application has lost its ability to includes calls and texts in that timeline.

        Exceptions created by Google don’t seem to be honoured, developers complained. One said that an enterprise archiving app – a category specifically exempt from the clampdown – has been broken.

        Another developer, Miroslav Novosvetsky of MobileSoft, rued that he might have to withdraw his Callistics usage monitor app altogether.

      • The martian packet case in our Neutron floating IP setup

        A community member opened a bug the other day related to a weird networking behavior in the Cloud VPS service, offered by the Cloud Services team at Wikimedia Foundation. This VPS hosting service is based on Openstack, and we implement the networking bits by means of Neutron.

        Our current setup is based on Openstack Mitaka (old, I know) and the networking architecture we use is extensively described in our docs. What is interesting today is our floating IP setup, which Neutron uses by means of the Netfilter NAT engine.

        Neutron creates a couple of NAT rules for each floating IP, to implement both SNAT and DNAT. In our setup, if a VM uses a floating IP, then all its traffic to and from The Internet will use this floating IP. In our case, the floating IP range is made of public IPv4 addresses.

    • Defence/Aggression
      • NZ declares massacre video “objectionable,” arrests people who shared it

        Distributing objectionable materials online comes with stiff legal penalties. One man—the 44-year-old owner of an insulation company with alleged neo-Nazi sympathies—has been arrested and charged with two counts of distributing objectionable materials in violation of New Zealand’s Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act. He is being held without bail and could be sentenced to as much as 14 years in prison for each offense.

      • 4chan, 8chan blocked by Australian and NZ ISPs for hosting shooting video

        Telstra and Optus also blocked the sites in Australia. Besides 4chan and 8chan, ISP-level blocking affected the social network Voat, the blog Zerohedge, video hosting site LiveLeak, and others. “The ban on 4chan was lifted a few hours later,” AAP wrote.

      • Telcos block access to websites continuing to host Christchurch terror footage

        Vodafone said while blocking requests normally came from the courts or law enforcement agencies “this was an extreme case which we think requires an extraordinary response”.

      • Telcos caught in social media crackdown

        The ISPs’ decision to block access to websites was controversial as they acted to censor content without instruction from either the Australian Communications and Media Authority or the eSafety Commissioner, and most smaller service providers have decided to keep access open.

      • Theft from lorries is becoming a growing problem

        Checks carried out by South and Southern Jutland Police reveal that almost three out of four tarpaulin lorries crossing the border have had holes cut in their coverings.

        The holes have been cut by thieves to check the lorry’s load for anything worth taking.

      • Stoking Fear: We Must Remember How the Iraq War Was Sold

        It was 16 years ago this month, on March 19, 2003, that U.S. forces began a misguided and illegal “shock and awe” military assault on Iraq. The enormous costs of that invasion and subsequent occupation are all too clear today. Thousands of American soldiers and coalition allies were killed and many more suffered horrific, debilitating injuries; among the U.S. casualties, a disproportionate numberwere underprivileged youth. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians died, andmillions were driven from their homes. To this toll we can also add the emergence and growth of the monstrous Islamic State (ISIS). And our Iraq War expenditures—past, present, and future—total trillions of dollars, a massive drain on crucial domestic programs for those in need.

        Many painful lessons can still be drawn from this devastating war and its ongoing aftermath. Among them, the tragedy represents a distressing case study in the manipulative use of fear—what I call “It’s a Dangerous World” appeals—by disingenuous leaders who insist that disaster awaits if we fail to heed their policy prescriptions. Unfortunately, dire warnings from influential figures can short-circuit our critical thinking and propel us toward action even before we’ve examined the evidence or considered the consequences and alternatives. Psychologically, we’re soft targets for these tactics because, in our desire to avoid being unprepared when danger strikes, we’re often too quick to conjure catastrophe—the worst outcome imaginable—regardless of how unlikely it may be.

        These “It’s a Dangerous World” appeals were employed by the George W. Bush White House throughout the Iraq War. They began with repeated claims months before the invasion that Saddam Hussein—the country’s brutal dictator—had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

        In August 2002, for example, Vice President Dick Cheney told attendees at the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville: “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

        Two months later, President Bush presented this frightful image to an audience in Cincinnati: “Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

      • On Ilhan Omar, Assad Fetishism, and the Danger of Red-Brown “Anti-Imperialism”

        Perhaps no elected official has ever been subjected to the level of vitriol, threats, and attacks that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the first Black Muslim woman ever elected to Congress and one of only two Muslim women there, has. And while we cannot be surprised that Omar was mercilessly attacked by the Israel Lobby and its various appendages and mouthpieces for speaking plainly about Israel’s policies and its influence in US politics, the degree of viciousness was appalling.

        Omar was variously described as disloyal to the US, an adherent of sharia law, and an anti-semite. These attacks came from both Democrats and Republicans, and were themselves intended to stoke further animosity in the media and social media. They were designed to cow the Somali-American Omar, intimidate her into silence so she won’t speak openly about apartheid Israel’s crimes, or grill and publicly humiliate war criminals like Elliott Abrams in the way she did, or assert any independent voice in the oversight of US foreign policy.

      • America’s Senior Generals Find No Exits From Endless War

        Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed that famed saying when summing up the Obama administration’s military intervention in Libya in 2011 — with a small alteration. “We came, we saw, he died,” she said with a laugh about the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, that country’s autocratic leader. Note what she left out, though: the “vici” or victory part. And how right she was to do so, since Washington’s invasions, occupations, and interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere in this century have never produced anything faintly like a single decisive and lasting victory.

        “Failure is not an option” was the stirring 1995 movie catchphrase for the dramatic 1970 rescue of the Apollo 13 moon mission and crew, but were such a movie to be made about America’s wars and their less-than-vici-esque results today, the phrase would have to be corrected in Clintonian fashion to read “We came, we saw, we failed.”

        Wars are risky, destructive, unpredictable endeavors, so it would hardly be surprising if America’s military and civilian leaders failed occasionally in their endless martial endeavors, despite the overwhelming superiority in firepower of “the world’s greatest military.” Here’s the question, though: Why have all the American wars of this century gone down in flames and what in the world have those leaders learned from such repetitive failures?

        The evidence before our eyes suggests that, when it comes to our senior military leaders at least, the answer would be: nothing at all.

      • Public Health Challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean

        The dramatic health situation in Venezuela, where the national health system has all but collapsed, invites an assessment on how Latin America and the Caribbean are doing regarding the health status of the population. While in the last decades, Latin America and the Caribbean have experienced measurable gains in several health indicators such as life expectancy, infant survival, and prevalence of infectious diseases, the Venezuelan people’s health status has deteriorated considerably.

        Most countries in these regions, however, still face daunting challenges due to sprawling urbanization, environmental problems, and increasing levels of obesity that affect all ages, but particularly children. In the Caribbean, for example, obesity has increased by almost 400 percent in the last two decades, affecting also the infant population.

        Prevalence of HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue, tobacco and substance abuse, chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and physical and mental disabilities continue to exact a heavy toll in most countries.80% of NCDs deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Although the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the adult population of Central and South America has stabilized somewhat at 0.6 percent, the Caribbean, with an HIV infection rate of more than two percent, is the second most heavily infected area in the world after sub-Saharan Africa.

        With little change in maternal mortality rates during the last decade, the gap in this indicator between Latin American and Caribbean countries, on one hand, and the United States and Canada, on the other, is still substantial. The risk of dying during pregnancy, childbirth and post labor is 50 times greater in developing countries than in Canada and the U.S.

      • Boeing Debacle Shows Need to Investigate Trump-era Corruption

        Once considered the “world’s gold standard for aircraft safety,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was conspicuously slower than the rest of the world to take appropriate action after a tragic airline crash in Ethiopia credibly called into question the safety of the Boeing 737 Max 8.

        That there were problems with Boeing’s software was not unknown to the FAA. Pilots in the U.S. had reportedly expressed concerns that the software limited their control of the planes.

        After the Lion Air crash last fall in Indonesia, Boeing undertook a fix but the implementation of the update was delayed thanks in part to Trump’s border wall shutdown. Shockingly, the FAA deemed these delays “acceptable” because there was “no imminent safety threat.”

        America’s precipitous downfall — from world leader in safe aviation to dangerous laggard — demonstrates how deeply Trump-era corruption has infected our government and underscores the pressing need for broad congressional oversight.

        Happily, there are now lawmakers empowered and willing to investigate. This week, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) who chairs the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, announced the committee would investigate the FAA’s approval process for the 737 Max 8s. Critically, DeFazio emphasized his willingness to issue subpoenas.

    • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
      • Judge Blocks Oil, Gas Drilling Over Climate Change

        A judge blocked oil and gas drilling across almost 500 square miles (1,295 sq. kilometers) in Wyoming and said the U.S. government must consider climate change impacts more broadly as it leases huge swaths of public land for energy exploration.

        The order marks the latest in a string of court rulings over the past decade — including one last month in Montana — that have faulted the U.S. for inadequate consideration of greenhouse gas emissions when approving oil, gas and coal projects on federal land.

        U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras in Washington appeared to go a step further than other judges in his order issued late Tuesday.

        Previous rulings focused on individual lease sales or permits. But Contreras said that when the U.S. Bureau of Land Management auctions public lands for oil and gas leasing, officials must consider emissions from past, present and foreseeable future oil and gas leases nationwide.

      • ‘Triumph for Our Climate’: Judge Blocks Fracking on 300,000 Acres of Public Land

        “This ruling is a triumph for our climate,” Jeremy Nichols, director of WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program, said in a statement.

        “To limit greenhouse gas emissions, we have to start keeping our fossil fuels in the ground and putting an end to selling public lands for fracking,” added Nichols. “This decision is a critical step toward making that happen.”

        U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras’ landmark decision was focused on the Trump administration’s land sales in Wyoming, but environmentalists said the ruling could have national implications.

        “It calls into question the legality of the Trump administration’s entire oil and gas program,” Nichols told the Washington Post. “This forces them to pull their head out of the sand and look at the bigger picture.”

      • The Government Is Hiding Its Plans for Anti-Pipeline Protests

        Federal and state responses to public records requests raise concerns of a crackdown on First Amendment-protected speech.
        President Trump likes to build things — apartment buildings, casinos, golf courses, walls — and among his first acts as president was to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline over the objections of environmental and Indigenous activists and local landowners.

        The pipeline would carry massive amounts of crude oil from Canadian tar sands through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, threatening the environment and private property as well as adjacent Native American land, sacred sites, and water sources along the way.

        The pipeline has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge pending required environmental impact assessments, but if they’re completed, it is possible that construction could begin in the coming months — and many tribes and activists are at the ready to protest. That’s their right under the First Amendment, but there seems to be mounting evidence — from a new law in South Dakota to new documents from our Freedom of Information Act litigation — that the government wants to suppress protests even before they begin.

        [...]

        So far, we know that dozens of federal-state planning meetings have taken place, and we discovered that an interagency task team was specifically convened to plan for Keystone XL protests.

        Despite that, the government has not disclosed any documents that reflect what was decided during these planning meetings, how many more took place, whether they’ve continued through today, or anything about what this interagency team has been up to. Nor has the government disclosed any information about collaboration with TransCanada or private security contractors.

        In one particularly absurd exchange, we wrote to the Department of Homeland Security to help it understand the type of documents we were seeking. We sent them a copy of an unclassified report from 2017 that had been published in the press on “Techniques, Tactics and Procedures Used in Recent US Pipeline Attacks by Suspected Environmental Rights Extremists.” In response, DHS provided us with a redacted version of the very same report we had sent them!

      • Green Groups Call Out Big Banks for Pouring Billions Into Fossil Fuel Industry

        The call-out came in Banking on Climate Change (pdf), published Wednesday as the tenth annual fossil fuel report card from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Honor the Earth.

        “This report is a red alert,” declared RAN climate and energy researcher Alison Kirsch. “The massive scale at which global banks continue to pump billions of dollars into fossil fuels is flatly incompatible with a livable future.”

        “If banks don’t rapidly phase out their support for dirty energy, planetary collapse from man-made climate change is not just probable,” Kirsch warned. “It is imminent.”

        According to the report, the top four funders of coal, oil, and gas companies from 2016 to 2018 were all U.S. banks: JPMorgan Chase ($195.66 billion), Wells Fargo ($151.6 billion), Citi ($129.49 billion), and Bank of America ($106.69 billion).

      • Rivers gain legal protection from misuse

        So Old Man River is getting a day in court: a growing international initiative is seeing to it that rivers gain legal protection against pollution and other forms of exploitation, in a move which insists that they have rights just as people do.

        There are hopes that protecting rivers (and one lake) in this way could in time be extended to living species and to other features of the natural world.

        The first river to win this legal safeguard is the Whanganui in New Zealand, which in March 2017 gained recognition as holding rights and responsibilities equivalent to a person. (The country had in 2014 already granted legal personhood to a forest.) The river – or rather, those acting for it – will now be able to sue for protection under the law.

        The Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act 2017 recognises the river and all its tributaries as a single entity, Te Awa Tupua, which has rights and interests and is the owner of its own river bed. The river can both sue and be sued. The Act also acknowledges the river as a living whole that stretches from the mountains to the sea.

      • Greens demand ExxonMobil lobbyists be removed from European parliament

        Greens in the European Parliament have demanded that access badges of ExxonMobil lobbyists be removed. The call comes as representatives of the oil giant refuse to attend a public hearing in the European Parliament today which will, for the first time, address climate denial in the EU, and focus on the prominent role Exxon Mobil has played. When representatives of Monsanto refused to attend a similar hearing they had their access badges revoked and Greens are demanding the same action be taken against ExxonMobile.

        Currently around 220 lobbyists linked to ExxonMobil have direct access to the European Parliament through their EU badge together with many more unregistered lobbyists. This is despite the fact the corporation stands accused of funding public misinformation campaigns and slowing down political attempts to move towards progressive policies on energy. Internal company document have also revealed that the corporation has known about the realities of climate change for decades. The company helped to found and lead the Global Climate Coalition of businesses opposed to the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and funded organizations critical of the Kyoto Protocol.

    • Finance
      • Fortnite Billionaire Pledges $100 Million for Game Developers

        Sweeney isn’t requiring grant recipients to use either the Unreal Engine or the Epic Store. “There are no commercial hooks back to Epic,” Sweeney said. “You don’t have to commit to any deliverables. This is our way of sharing Fortnite’s unbelievable success with as many developers as we can.”

      • Man Charged With Setting Up Bogus Websites to Scam Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke Donors

        Authorities say Dupont claimed to be raising money for “roughly 10 individual Senate candidates,” Gillum’s 2018 campaign for governor of Florida, and causes including immigrant aid, NBC wrote. To do so, they alleged, he set up at least three bogus PACs and about 15 websites, including Beto4Senate.org, Sanders2016Campaign.org, GillumForFloridaGovernor.org and ImmigrantChildrenUnited.org.

      • California con man set up bogus websites for Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke to defraud donors, prosecutors say

        John Pierre Dupont, 80, is accused of setting up at least three bogus political action committees, or PACs, and several websites that purported to be raising money for roughly 10 individual Senate candidates, a candidate for governor and for progressive causes, according to a criminal complaint.

        Instead of passing along the cash to the candidates or campaigns, Dupont used it to pay his rent, a parking ticket, and to cover the costs of a $25,300 Mercedes-Benz sedan, according to prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.

      • Neo-Nazis Bet Big on Bitcoin (And Lost)

        Bitcoin also failed for the neo-Nazis as a funding channel, because cryptocurrency is still too hard to use. “Nobody would go to the effort to get a bitcoin wallet to give them the 10 bucks a month that they were more than happy to give them.” One neo-Nazi podcaster found a credit card processor that was fine with the content of his show but said he was untouchable for another reason: He was considered a money laundering risk because he dealt in cryptocurrency.

      • Social Democratic Nations Rank Happiest on Global Index (Again). US Ranking Falls (Again).

        The social democracy of Finland was once again ranked number one on the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, released on Wednesday, while the corporate-dominated United States fell one place to rank at 19th.

        For the seventh year in a row, the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network released a report ranking 156 countries according to measures including income, freedom, trust in government, and social support.

      • Ending the NCAA’s Shameless Exploitation of ‘Student-Athletes’

        When Zion Williamson’s foot broke through the sole of his Nike shoe on February 20th, the sporting world stood still.
        The consensus number one player in college basketball was playing in the biggest game of the season — North Carolina versus Duke — and suffered his startling injury in the opening minute. Williamson’s sprained knee cost Nike $1.1 billion in stock market valuation the next day.
        The injury came on the doorstep of March Madness, the NCAA’s most profitable event of the year — to the tune of $900 million in revenue.

      • EU Leaders Open to Brexit Delay, But May Faces Storm at Home

        European Union leaders meeting for a Brexit summit are likely to grant Britain a short extension, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday, if the U.K. government can win parliamentary support next week for its divorce deal.

        But the early signs of that happening were not good. British Prime Minister Theresa May angered many legislators with a televised speech late Wednesday blaming a divided Parliament for an impasse that has left Britain eight days away from crashing out of the bloc. One lawmaker slammed her remarks as “toxic.”

        May has a tough day ahead as she arrives in Brussels to lobby her European partners to extend the Brexit date from March 29 until June 30 to push through the agreement she reached with the EU in November.

        Her deal has been roundly rejected twice by the U.K. Parliament, and EU leaders are being asked to take the risk that May can convince the lawmakers next week.

        That looked more uncertain after her speech on the eve of the summit, in which May told a Brexit-weary public: “You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side.”

        May accused lawmakers of “infighting, “political games” and “arcane procedural rows,” but acknowledged no personal role in creating the impasse.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
      • Kidfluencers’ Rampant YouTube Marketing Creates Minefield for Google

        Siwa encapsulates many of the things that made YouTube the world’s most-watched video site. She dances, sings and screams excitedly into the camera, drawing millions of viewers, mostly young girls. The 15-year-old kidfluencer also highlights how YouTube’s success with children has created an ethical and perhaps even legal minefield for its owner, Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

        [...]

        “The uptick in sponsored content and child influencers is very overwhelming,” said Dona Fraser, director of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, an industry watchdog funded by companies including Google. “This has exploded in front of our eyes. How do you now wrangle every child influencer out there?”

        The Federal Trade Commission warned dozens of Instagram influencers in 2017 that they weren’t disclosing properly when a company was paying them to peddle a product.

      • Using Networks To Govern Network Problems

        Today, botnets and the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that can accompany them, are considered among “the most severe cybersecurity threats.” Botnets have caused extensive economic harm to businesses, banks, hospitals, and government agencies around the world. Furthermore, botnets are used to spread political propaganda aimed at distorting democratic elections. In fact, U.S. government officials concluded that the Russian propaganda campaign has not stopped since the 2016 election and the magnitude of the issue is expected to grow. Yet, a time-tested framework for addressing the problem already exists. Governing complex internet-based problems is best accomplished by a network of stakeholders similar to the way the internet is currently governed.

        In her Nobel Lecture, Elinor Ostrom emphasized the necessity to study human economic behavior in any complex system. She added that no “one size fits all” policy solution would work for a highly complex socio-economic issue, but approaches created by a disperse, spontaneously self-organized group are far more innovative. This is the essence of polycentric order as defined by Elinor and Vincent Ostrom. A polycentric order has multiple overlapping decision-making centers comprised of individuals equipped with necessary knowledge and expertise to create better outcomes for issues of high complexity.

      • After Trump

        Centrist liberalism is dead, and Trump is a disaster. But progressives can use what he’s done to remake America and its place in the world

      • ‘Momentum Is Shifting’: MoveOn Calls for Democratic Presidential Candidates to Boycott AIPAC Conference

        MoveOn, a progressive advocacy group with millions of members, is calling on Democratic presidential candidates to boycott AIPAC’s annual conference.

        “It’s no secret that that AIPAC has worked to hinder diplomatic efforts like the Iran deal, is undermining Palestinian self-determination, and inviting figures actively involved in human rights violations to its stage,” Iram Ali, campaign director at MoveOn Political Action, said in a statement.

        Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are among the confirmed speakers for the event, which begins Sunday.

        None of the Democratic presidential candidates are listed as speakers at the conference, and there is no indication that any of them plan to attend. But MoveOn’s demand for a boycott will nevertheless “give a clear insight to 2020 candidates on where their base stands instead of prioritizing lobbying groups and policy people who rarely step outside of D.C.,” said Ali.

        Anna Zuccaro, a spokeswoman for MoveOn, told Politico that the boycott demand is “a clear sign that momentum is shifting.”

      • Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for 2020

        To understand Beto O’Rourke as a candidate, it’s vital to go beneath the surface of his political backstory. News watchers are already well aware of the former Texas congressman’s good looks, charisma, youthful energy and fundraising prowess. But most remain unaware of an inconvenient truth that could undermine the O’Rourke campaign among the people who matter most—the ones who’ll be voting to choose the Democratic presidential nominee next year.

        O’Rourke is hardly eager for those upcoming voters to realize that the growth of his political career is rooted in an alliance with powerful Republicans that began 15 years ago. Or that he supported raising the minimum age for Social Security in 2012. Or that—during six years in Congress, through the end of 2018—he often aligned himself with Republican positions.

        If facts matter, such weighty facts could sink the “Beto for America” presidential campaign. Since his announcement, information gaining traction nationwide runs directly counter to the Beto brand.

        “Before becoming a rising star in the Democratic Party,” the Wall Street Journal reported a week ago, “Beto O’Rourke relied on a core group of business-minded Republicans in his Texas hometown to launch and sustain his political career. To win their backing, Mr. O’Rourke opposed Obamacare, voted against Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader and called for a raise in the Social Security eligibility age.”

        Meanwhile, a Washington Post news article—under the headline “Beto O’Rourke’s Political Career Drew on Donations From the Pro-Republican Business Establishment”—also foreshadowed a bumpy ride on the campaign trail. In the eyes of most people who don’t like the GOP, key points in the Post’s reporting are apt to be concerning.

      • Trump’s Sly Encouragement of Lawless Violence

        Racism is not natural. Babies — black, brown, white — explore the world and each other with wonder, not hate. Racism has to be taught. It is learned behavior. To assume that a person is inherently superior or inferior to another based upon race is unnatural and ungodly. Racism is used for political manipulation and economic exploitation. In a land founded on the belief that all men are created equal, slavery could not be justified without a racism that depicted slaves as sub-human.

        These basic truths need restating in this terrible time. Across the world, we see the rise of racism, anti-Semitism and islamophobia, and its violent expression. Parishioners in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, are gunned down; worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue are attacked and killed. Now the murders in the mosques in New Zealand. Christians, Jews and Muslims must now stand as one and resist the rise of hate, and the hate-filled propaganda that feeds it.

        In this, Donald Trump can no longer duck responsibility. When an American president speaks, the world listens. When Barack Obama was elected, it sent hope across the world. Blacks were elected to parliaments for the first time across Europe. Some hoped a new era of peace and reconciliation might begin.

        Yet his election incited a harsh reaction as well, a new trafficking in hate, fear and violence. Donald Trump used his celebrity to claim that Obama was illegitimate, literally un-American. He had relished spreading racial fears before. When five young men were falsely arrested in New York City, Trump took out newspaper ads calling for the death penalty, inciting fear of young African-American males. When DNA testing proved their innocence, Trump simply denied the truth. His campaign for president was stained by his race-bait politics: slurring immigrants as rapists and murderers, promising to ban Muslims, denouncing a judge of Mexican descent, born in Indiana, as too biased to rule on the case involving students defrauded by Trump University.

      • Broadway’s “Hamilton” and the Willing Suspension of Reality-Based Moral Consciousness

        Despite the incredible degree of media hype surrounding the show, even prior to its 2015 Broadway debut, I remembered reading a number of strongly argued and intensely passionate negative reviews of Hamilton for profound historical distortions. These reviews particularly showed up on one of my favorite political websites, CounterPunch.

        Attending Broadway productions was a rarity for me and admittedly I was reluctant to look a Broadway gift ticket “in the mouth,” so-to-speak. I was also growing weary of my far-left political stances causing strain among family, friends and coworkers. I never could seem to align with the political (and now, it seemed, cultural) consensus of the vast majority of “normal” pro-establishment liberals. Actually my marginalization had begun with the early Obama years, steadily intensifying — me and my ilk being regarded as ideological “extremists” with the ever-hardening polarization of what used to constitute “the American Left.”

        Of course, why would any of my loved ones begin to expect a discouraging word, even from me, about a show that had swept the 2016 Tony Awards, won a Grammy, a Pulitzer Prize, and was the only work of art ever to receive a Kennedy Center honor.

        I decided to forego revisiting those trouble-making Hamilton reviews before seeing the show.

      • Let’s Impeach Trump If He Continues the Yemen War

        Earlier this month, the Senate passed a War Powers resolution to cut off U.S. military support for the Saudi-led assault on Yemen. The resolution is expected to pass in the House, but President Trump has vowed to veto the measure as the administration doubles down in its support for the coalition.

        Such a state of affairs means those of us working to end the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history need to escalate our tactics. There are many opportunities for potential escalation.

        One thing we could do is push to override the veto: We could force the votes on this issue to take place, but doing so is arguably not that much of an escalation if we don’t have a plausible story for how we could successfully find these votes.

      • Trump Is Livid Because He Can’t Fire All the Investigators

        We have been dealing with the ongoing reality of President Donald Trump for 789 days. Before the American carnage of that fateful January day when he turned the oath of office into a slur, we had to deal with Candidate Trump for two grinding years, TV Star Trump since 1988 and Grifter Trump since all the way back to 1971, the year of my birth. Talk about being born under a bad sign.

        Over the span of that half-century, the public at large has gotten to know Trump’s moods and temperament with an intimacy that is rare for most public figures. Whether he was firing people on The Apprentice or cheating on his wife on the front page of the New York City tabloids, the word “subtle” has never shared the same postal code as the brutish, base, benighted bunko artist currently polluting the White House.

        Without doubt, a callus has formed over most people’s Trump receptors since he came down that escalator in June of 2015, a fact which is both positive and negative. It is positive because it means folks have begun tuning out his frantic nonsense for the sake of their own emotional equilibrium, but negative because that same nonsense is becoming normalized in the public sphere. “Oh, that’s just Trump being Trump” is an ever-growing sentiment that may come to doom us all.

        That callus is what makes Trump’s most recent free-swinging exercise in focused bedlam genuinely astonishing. In the span of six days, the man somehow managed to lower his personal bar even further, despite the fact that his bar was already so far down an Etruscan shrew could step over it without brushing its belly fur. “Beneath the bottom of the barrel” is becoming an expression without meaning. This house has no floor, and for the last few days, that callus has been a thoroughly imperfect prophylactic against the onslaught.

        It started after Trump responded to the Senate vote against his emergency declaration on Thursday by threatening the political left with violence by cops, soldiers and bikers, and continued through Tuesday with a blitzkrieg of vengeful grievances that ranged from the petty to the downright peculiar. Of course, Trump’s chosen platform for the majority of his klaxon whine festival was Twitter, which I am verging on putting in the same “Things I Wish Never Existed” category as shingles, unrepentant foot odor and Mitch McConnell.

      • Meet Trump’s Other Partners on His Attempted Moscow Tower — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

        This week on “Trump, Inc.,” we’re exploring President Donald Trump’s efforts to do business in Moscow. Our team — Heather Vogell, Andrea Bernstein, Meg Cramer and Katie Zavadski — dug into just who Trump was working with and just what Trump needed from Russia to get a deal done. (Listen to the podcast episode here.)

        First, the big picture. We already knew that Trump had business interests involving Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign — which he denied — that could have been influencing his policy positions. As the world has discovered, Trump was negotiating to develop a tower in Moscow while running for president. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress about being in contact with the Kremlin about the project during the campaign.

      • Is Kamala Harris The Centrist We Need?

        In 2016 Bruce Dixon recounted that the Democrats have employed a sheepdog in all the recent past elections: “1984 and 88 the sheepdog candidate was Jesse Jackson. In 92 it was California governor Jerry Brown. In 2000 and 2004 the designated sheepdog was Al Sharpton, and in 2008 it was Dennis Kucinich. This year it’s Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.” The purpose of the sheepdog is to shepherd radical and progressive voters back into the Democratic Party.

        Bernie Sanders was excellent at playing the sheep, but almost in spite of himself, he was better at playing the dog. Bernie is a loyal company man, but his individual ideas remain too sane to be ignored. The policies he advocated for are being taken up by an assemblage of politicians in local and national races. For this reason we should give Bernie more credit than the typical sheepdog. Even as he props up the carcass of the Democratic Party, Bernie has helped breath life into new ideas such as socialism, Medicare for all, 15$ an hour minimum wage and free college tuition.

        Progressivism cannot coexist with the current corporate duopoly structure. This contradiction has not yet been resolved. But Bernie has helped to mainstream the idea that such a contradiction exists. Bernie then is not just “a good boy” in the sheepdog sense of the word, but a man who has brought some good in his own right.

      • Florida Lawmakers Attempt to Weaken Voter Rights Restoration

        On Tuesday, Florida lawmakers advanced a bill that could severely restrict one of the most impactful expansions of the right to vote in over four decades. The legislation, which passed out of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, is a slap in the face to the overwhelming majority of Florida voters, who voted just months ago to restore voting rights to people with past felony convictions. Now, lawmakers are attempting to make the restoration of voting rights contingent on the full payment of all fees and court costs. This would heap financial obligations on people involved in Florida’s criminal justice system and essentially reserve the restoration of voting rights to Floridians who have the financial means to pay.

        In November 2018, Florida voters approved Amendment 4, a constitutional amendment that automatically restored the right to vote to more than 1.4 million Floridians who have completed their sentence, including parole or probation. It was a shining example of voters using direct democracy to expand democracy. But even though nearly 65 percent of Florida voters approved the measure, lawmakers have suggested they might limit the amendment’s reach through legislation. This week’s bill would do just that.

        In fact, this new bill would make Florida’s rule regarding repayment of financial obligations even more restrictive than it was before Amendment 4’s passage. While the clemency procedure under then-Governor Rick Scott was terribly restrictive and arbitrary, it did not require the payment of all fees and costs as a condition for restoring voting rights.

        As a nation, we long ago shunned the practice of making voting contingent on wealth. Unfortunately, the practice continues, as a handful of states prohibit individuals who owe court debt from voting. This practice will be particularly harmful in Florida. Since 1996, the Florida legislature has added more than 20 new categories of legal financial obligations for criminal defendants, while simultaneously eliminating exemptions for those who cannot pay. Florida’s criminal justice system purposefully levies excessive court costs and fees as a means to underwrite the state’s criminal justice costs, trapping poor Floridians in cycles of debt.

    • Censorship/Free Speech
      • @DevinNunesLawyers (Video)

        Well, California Rep. Devin Nunes’ marketing campaign to boost the visibility of the Twitter account of Devin Nunes’ Cow succeeded fabulously. In the five hours or so that has passed since I took the screenshot of the @DevinCow page for this animation, the parody account has added around 70,000 followers. Before Nunes sued his imaginary cow’s Twitter account, it had a grand total of 1,204 followers.

        Nunes seems to have no grasp of satire, parody, free speech and, um, intelligence. (Which is a tad ironic given that he is the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee.) This story is about more than just a little Twitter dispute and a frivolous lawsuit, Nunes is one of President Trump’s staunchest defenders and errand boys in Congress.

      • A human rights advocate explains Russia’s new limits on free speech

        On March 18, Vladimir Putin signed two new laws penalizing Internet users who publish fake news or posts that show disrespect to the Russian government. Users who violate the new regulations would not face a criminal sentence, but they would be made to pay administrative fines. The two laws were approved two and a half months after the partial decriminalization of Article 282 of Russia’s Criminal Code. Certain parts of that law, which penalizes “inciting hate and enmity,” were shifted from their original, criminal status to become administrative regulations after a series of criminal charges were brought against social media users in response to provocative posts. Pavel Chikov, who leads the international human rights group Agora, told Meduza about the consequences of Article 282’s partial decriminalization and discussed the laws the Russian government may now use to limit freedom of speech.

    • Privacy/Surveillance
      • IBM used Flickr photos for facial-recognition project

        IBM has been accused of using Flickr photos for a facial-recognition project, without the full consent of people in the images.
        The company extracted nearly one million photos from a dataset of Flickr images originally compiled by Yahoo.
        Many people pictured were probably unaware of how their data had been used, according to an NBC News report.
        IBM said in a statement that it had taken great care to comply with privacy principles.
        But one digital rights group said IBM’s actions represented a “huge threat” to people’s privacy.
        “None of the people I photographed had any idea their images were being used in this way,” a photographer told NBC News.
        Photos selected by IBM were listed under a Creative Commons licence, which generally means the images can be widely used with only a small number of restrictions.

      • Who Defends Your Data? Report Reveals Peruvian ISPs Progress on User Privacy, Still Room for Improvement

        Hiperderecho, the leading digital rights organization in Peru, in collaboration with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, today launched its second ¿Quien Defiende Tus Datos? (Who Defends Your Data?), an evaluation of the privacy practices of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that millions of Peruvians use every day. This year’s results are more encouraging than those in 2015′s report, with Telefonica’s Movistar making significant improvement in its privacy policy, responses to judicial orders, and commitment to privacy. Five out of the six ISPs now publish specific, detailed policies on how they collect and process personal data. However, the report also revealed that there is plenty of room for improvement, especially when it comes to user notification and Peruvian ISPs’ public commitment to privacy.

        Internet access has grown significantly in Peru in recent years, particularly through mobile networks. Movistar (Telefónica) and Claro (América Móvil) are the main players, making up 70% of the Internet market. For landline connections, these two ISPs connect more than 90% of users in Peru; Movistar alone has 74.4% of them. The report also evaluated four other telecom operators: Bitel, Entel, Olo, and Inkacel. Every day, these users provide these companies with specific information about their movements, routines, and relations – a treasure trove of data for government authorities, who can use unnecessary and disproportionate measures to access it. This constant threat from State authorities demands public awareness and oversight.

        That’s why this new Peru report aims to push companies to counter surveillance measures that are conducted without proper safeguards, and to be transparent about their policies and practices.

      • Tulare Police Department says it didn’t know it was sharing data with ICE, apologizes

        The police department’s announcement comes days after the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California released documents showing 80 law enforcement agencies across the country – including the Tulare Police Department – were sharing license plate location data with ICE.

      • IBM supplied surveillance gear to Davao while Duterte was mayor and cheering on the city’s police-linked death-squads

        In 2012, IBM signed a multi-million-dollar deal to supply high-tech surveillance gear to the Duterte regime, a program that IBM boasted of when attempting to sell surveillance gear to other cities. IBM also produced sales literature boasting of having sold its “Face Capture” facial recognition program to the city (the city’s promotional material also features police using this tool), though now IBM claims it never supplied facial recognition tools to Davao.

      • Uber drivers demand their data

        Under European law, any “data subject”, or person about whom data are being collected, has the right to access that information. But do gig workers? Four British Uber drivers think they do, arguing that it will help them to improve their performance, understand how Uber’s algorithms assign jobs to them and get a precise measure of the time they spend working for the ride-hailing platform.

        Uber has declined to provide comprehensive data that the drivers have requested access to over the past two years. The requests, made separately, are now bundled up as one with Ravi Naik, a lawyer who is also handling data-protection cases against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and online advertising companies. Uber supplied a limited dataset containing the origin and destination points of the drivers’ trips and some location data. The drivers say that the firm did not offer an explanation for its decision. Uber says it offered a detailed explanation but declined to say what it was.

    • Civil Rights/Policing
      • Civil Rights And Faith Leaders To FBI: Take White Nationalist Violence Seriously
      • Supreme Court Maintains Congress Granted Homeland Security Secretary Broad Power To Detain Immigrants Without Bail

        The United States Supreme Court ruled the government has broad executive power to detain immigrants previously convicted of a crime and deny them a bail hearing prior to deportation proceedings.

        In a 5-4 decision [PDF], the majority, led by Justice Samuel Alito, argued Congress granted sweeping authority to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen when it passed the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

        The justices maintained Congress was concerned “deportable criminal aliens who are not detained” would continue to “engage in crime and fail to appear for their removal hearings in large numbers” so lawmakers mandated arrest without bail or parole.

        Attorneys, including lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union, contended the government did not have the authority to detain immigrants without bail years after they were released from prison and had served a sentence for any offenses. There was a temporal limit to the government’s authority.

        But Alito wrote, “As we have held time and again, an official’s crucial duties are better carried out later than never.”

      • Washington Prison Management Software Setting People Free Too Early, Keeping Other People Locked Up Too Long

        The previous bug miscalculated “good time” credits, resulting in thousands of premature releases. This time around, buggy code is screwing up calculations for inmates who have violated their parole. A few have benefited from the problem. But most of the cases being reviewed involve inmates who have been jailed for too long.

        The previous calculation error resulted in two homicides by an inmate who was released too early. This time around, it’s far more likely inmates who have served their time aren’t being released. Either way, there’s life and liberty on the line and the Department of Corrections is showing little sense of urgency when addressing these problems.

        [...]

        And if it’s not working now, there’s a good chance the DOC’s software will never function properly. Part of the problem is the legislature itself, which complicates sentence calculations by adding new wrinkles with each legislative session. According to the Seattle Times, at least 60 bills in the pipeline could affect sentencing guidelines, increasing the chance of new calculation errors developing.

        Software may be the only way to handle a job this complex. But those overseeing the software’s deployment have shown they’re not too interested in proactive maintenance of this complex system. Problems are eventually solved, years after the fact. That sort of responsiveness is unacceptable when guidelines are being constantly altered by new legislation.

      • ‘A naked man is always more submissive than one wearing clothes’

        Russian senators are entertaining the idea of resurrecting the country’s vytrezviteli (sobering-up centers, or drunk tanks) and empowering the police to lock up people caught intoxicated in public. Under the new proposal, those who spend a night in the tank would be forced to pay for their stay, though lawmakers have yet to draft a mechanism for extracting these payments. Russia’s first “haven for the inebriated” appeared in 1902, but drunk tanks weren’t common until the Soviet era, when the standard procedure involved a medical exam, a cold shower, and a few hours of sleep in a shared room, for which residents were charged a fee. Police guards often allowed violence, and anti-government demonstrators were sometimes locked up here during the USSR’s “Era of Stagnation,” from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s. As the Federation Council moves forward with its initiative, Meduza translates journal entries published by the project Prozhito, written by people who had brushes with the drunk tanks of the Soviet Union.

      • Harvard Profiting From Photos of Slaves, Lawsuit Says

        Harvard University has “shamelessly” turned a profit from photos of two 19th-century slaves while ignoring requests to turn the photos over to the slaves’ descendants, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

        Tamara Lanier, of Norwich, Connecticut, is suing the Ivy League school for “wrongful seizure, possession and expropriation” of images she says depict two of her ancestors. Her suit, filed in Massachusetts state court, demands that Harvard immediately turn over the photos, acknowledge her ancestry and pay an unspecified sum in damages.

        Harvard spokesman Jonathan Swain said the university “has not yet been served, and with that is in no position to comment on this complaint.”

        At the center of the case is a series of 1850 daguerreotypes, an early type of photo, taken of two South Carolina slaves identified as Renty and his daughter, Delia. Both were posed shirtless and photographed from several angles. The images are believed to be the earliest known photos of American slaves.

        They were commissioned by Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz, whose theories on racial difference were used to support slavery in the U.S. The lawsuit says Agassiz came across Renty and Delia while touring plantations in search of racially “pure” slaves born in Africa.

        “To Agassiz, Renty and Delia were nothing more than research specimens,” the suit says. “The violence of compelling them to participate in a degrading exercise designed to prove their own subhuman status would not have occurred to him, let alone mattered.”

      • Jordan Peele Makes Cutting Commentary Extra Scary in ‘Us’

        Surely more than once while dreaming, you’ve been aware that you’re in a dream, inside it and outside at the same time. Sleep scientists call such self-aware reveries “lucid dreams.”

        So when I describe “Us,” Jordan Peele’s intelligent and unnerving new film, as a “lucid nightmare,” you’ll get my drift. It’s a nightmare you are immersed in while watching yourself watch it.

        Like Peele’s directorial debut “Get Out,” the new film—a variation on the theme of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”—is simultaneously a horror movie, a satire of horror movies and an American parable. It takes place in Santa Cruz, Calif., and chronicles a home invasion of the summer house owned by the Wilsons, played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, as the intruders freak out their pubescent daughter and pre-teen son.

      • In Praise Of Jonathan Daniels and Ruby Sales: Greater Love Hath No Man Than This

        In Selma, Daniels worked on voter registration, tutored black kids, tried to integrate a local church and lived with a black family, the Wests. Rachel West Nelson: “He was a part of our family…He was a part of every black family in Selma in those days.” When racists accused him of being a “white nigger,” he said he was. When he was refused work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee – Stokely Carmichael argued they’d have to spend their time protecting him from the KKK, but later praised Daniels’ “abundance of strength that comes from the inside…People realized that with the strength they got from Jon Daniels they had to carry on, they had to carry on” – Daniels joined the Southern Leadership Christian Conference. “Sometimes we confront the posse, and sometimes we hold a child,” he wrote. “Our life in Selma is filled with ambiguity… (groping) through the bramble bush of doubt and fear…In this, (it) is like all the world: it needs the life and witness of militant saints.”

      • All Southern States are Not the Same: Mississippi’s Challenge

        Virginia over the past several years has become more purple while Mississippi has remained deep red. Democrats won more legislative and congressional seats in Virginia. As I pointed out in my last piece, that trend was kicked off by a successful constitutional based lawsuit against the racially based gerrymandering that the Virginia legislature had created. Court cases are one of the three primary tools available to make government’s more accountable.

        Unlike Virginia, there is no court ruling pending nor cases filed challenging Mississippi’s gerrymandered state or federal district boundaries. A seasoned research and legal staff are required to file effective lawsuits against a state legislature’s gerrymandering. In Virginia’s case the fair redistricting advocacy groupThe Princeton Gerrymandering Project provided relevant data analysis, which specializes on election and political law, and Kevin Hamilton, a litigator from the law firm Perkins Coie, brought the case representing the interests of African-American voters.

        They are not involved with Mississippi’s situation. And the other the most likely institution in Mississippi to have available legal staff would be the ACLU. However, Mississippi’s ACLU has focused on directly stopping excessive force abuses against the black community; they filed a federal class-action lawsuit against county deputies who used unconstitutional tactics to target black people. As a result, the courts are not currently looking at any cases that would overturn Mississippi’s racially biased gerrymandered districts.

        Mississippi allows citizen initiated constitutional amendments, but none is currently being planned around redistricting or expanding voter access. Past progressive initiative efforts have failed at the polls. In 2001, a vote to change the state flag by eliminating the Confederate emblem was rejected by nearly two-thirds of voters. Reflecting that same conservative culture, another amendment in 2011 requiring a strict Voter ID law passed. However, that year an amendment supporting an extreme anti-abortion failed. And although the last citizen initiated promoting greater government accountability, in this case by increasing funding for public education, failed in 2015, it almost passed.

      • Women Who Worked with Billionaire Philanthropist Michael Steinhardt Say He Asked for Sex

        Sheila Katz was a young executive at Hillel International, the Jewish college outreach organization, when she was sent to visit the philanthropist Michael H. Steinhardt, a New York billionaire. He had once been a major donor, and her goal was to persuade him to increase his support. But in their first encounter, he asked her repeatedly if she wanted to have sex with him, she said.

        Deborah Mohile Goldberg worked for Birthright Israel, a nonprofit co-founded by Steinhardt, when he asked her if she and a female colleague would like to join him in a threesome, she said.

        Natalie Goldfein, an officer at a small nonprofit that Steinhardt had helped establish, said he suggested in a meeting that they have babies together.

        Steinhardt, 78, a retired hedge fund founder, is among an elite cadre of donors who bankroll some of the country’s most prestigious Jewish nonprofits. His foundations have given at least $127 million to charitable causes since 2003, public filings show.

      • And Now Algeria

        It has now been nine years since protests broke out across the Middle East and North Africa. After citizens took to the streets, the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen all were deposed during the Arab Spring. What about Algeria – the tenth-largest country in the world, the largest in Africa and a country with the tenth-largest reservesof natural gas? Up until now, there has been no change of government since 1999, no calls for revolution despite a gross inequality of wealth and no overthrow of its leader. Understandably, Algeria has been off the media’s radar.

        The country has been ripe for revolution. Economic conditions have worsened since the 1980s with declining oil prices. There has been high unemployment. Between 1988 and 1995, for example, the percentage of the population below the poverty line increased from 8 to 14 per cent. Almost 70 per cent of the poor live in rural areas.

        For four consecutive Fridays, hundreds of thousands of Algerians have protested throughout the country. Revolutions can spread, such as in 1848 in Italy, France, Germany and Austria. While during the Arab Spring Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hasni Mubarak in Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Ali Abdullah in Yemen left power, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has remained president of Algeria. Although there were protests in Algeria in January and February 2011, he and his followers have dominated Algerian politics for two decades.

        The government has provided stability. The 1991 to 2002 Algerian civil war was a devastating armed struggle between the Algerian Government and Islamic rebels. The total number of dead has been estimated at around 200,000, during what has been called the “dark decade” in Algerian history.

        Memories of how the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was poised to win an election in 1992 when hundreds of thousands took to the streets have been omnipresent and reason to accept the important position of the military. Bouteflika, his circle, and the army, with obvious support from the West, have provided a buffer against fundamentalist radicalization and ensured that there would not be another “dirty war” or takeover by groups like ISIS.

      • Optional Fatherhood Liberates Christians From Abortion Jihad

        Moneyed men can usually win the silence or compliance of troublesome women by paying them off. It’s news when this traditional strategy fails, as with Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and CBS chief Leslie Moonves. And even these recentlyfallen exceptions succeeded for decades in wielding their wealth and clout to keep women they’d misused at bay. Donald Trump did the same, casually tossing out hundreds of thousands of dollars to stifle at least two extra-marital flings who were threatening to tattle. His money squelched them long enough for him to win the presidency.

        An Alabama teen didn’t have such a cushion of cash when his girlfriend became pregnant a couple years ago. He wanted to be a father, she didn’t want to be a mother. In defiance of his wishes, she got an abortion.

        Last year the state’s voters approved a constitutional amendment affirming “the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children.” It also specified that the state constitution provides no right to an abortion.

        This year the fatherless teen found a local judge willing to recognize that amendment as basis for the legal personhood of the departed fetus. The judge accepted a wrongful death lawsuit by the thwarted father against his girlfriend’s abortion clinic.

        Lacking the money to induce her to comply with his preference, the young man turned to the one resource he could employ—the law. The case just began and is far from resolved, but it has flashed onto media screens nationwide and beyond.

        Right-to-lifers are in ecstasy over this. They believe he will win his case in Alabama courts, although the Supreme Court would likely reverse these lower court rulings. But if Justice Ginsburg would only be agreeable enough to shuffle along to her reward, then a Trump-appointed replacement will give the court the extra vote conservatives need for a majority to uphold the fellow’s wrongful death plea.

      • Retiring the Statue of Liberty

        I remember him (barely) as a thin, bald, little old man with a white mustache and a cane. As I write this, I’m looking at a photo of him in 1947, holding the hand of little Tommy Engelhardt who had just turned three that very July day. They’re on a street somewhere in Brooklyn, New York, Tommy in shorts and a T-shirt and his grandfather, Moore (that wasn’t his original name), wearing a suit and tie. It’s hard to imagine him as the young Jewish boy from the Austro-Hungarian Empire who ran away from home — somewhere in modern-day Poland — after reportedly “pulling the Rabbi’s whiskers” in a dispute. By his own account, he spent two desperate years working to scrape together the money for passage alone in the steerage of a ship from Hamburg to America and finally made it here in the early 1890s with the equivalent of a 50-cent piece in his pocket. And he was a lucky man.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
      • 4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll

        More than sixty-seven percent of respondents said they are concerned Internet content will be blocked or censored, while 63.5 percent said they fear customers will receive different services and web speeds.

      • Cable lobby seeks better reputation by dropping “cable” from its name

        Cable lobbyists don’t want to be called cable lobbyists anymore. The nation’s top two cable industry lobby groups have both dropped the word “cable” from their names. But the lobby groups’ core mission—the fight against regulation of cable networks—remains unchanged.

        The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) got things started in 2016 when it renamed itself NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, keeping the initialism but dropping the words it stood for. The group was also known as the National Cable Television Association between 1968 and 2001.

      • The World Wide Web — not the internet — turns 30 years old

        Is that a dial-up modem ringing in your ears, or are you just looking at today’s Google Doodle? It might be both, because March 12 marks a special moment in the history of the internet: the birthday of the World Wide Web.

        The series of tubes we know and love as the web is now a sprightly 30 years old. The www you see in your browser’s address bar when you access a URL, a.k.a. the web, a.k.a. what helps keep you tethered to your screens, is barely a millennial; indeed, the web is 18 years younger than email and two years younger than the GIF.

        Wondering what the difference is between the World Wide Web and the internet? Rethinking your ability to explain what the web actually is? Strap in, because the answers are fun and inspiring, and there’s no time like a birthday to time-travel through internet history.

    • DRM
      • California Becomes 20th State To Push ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation

        A few years back, frustration at John Deere’s draconian tractor DRM culminated in a grassroots tech movement. The company’s crackdown on “unauthorized repairs” turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company’s EULA prohibited the lion-share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for “authorized” repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.

        The John Deere fiasco resulted in the push for a new “right to repair” law in Nebraska that not only proposed protecting the consumers’ right to repair their own tech, but protected independent, third-party repair shops from efforts by many major companies to monopolize repair (Apple and game console vendors like Sony and Microsoft usually come first to mind). This push then quickly spread to multiple other states, driven by a groundswell of consumer annoyance.

    • Intellectual Monopolies
      • Qualcomm may seek declaration of having met FRAND obligations, gets minor adjustment of Korean antitrust fine, wholesale acquittal in Japan

        There’s three pieces of news regarding Qualcomm’s antitrust issues, none of which has huge impact in its own right, but the combination of the three warrants an update.

      • Reports of Qualcomm’s Imminent Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

        Last week, the first patent jury trial between Qualcomm and Apple concluded, with the jury deciding that Apple had infringed three Qualcomm patents and awarding Qualcomm damages. Outside of Qualcomm’s hometown jury in San Diego, though, things aren’t going so well for Qualcomm.

        [...]

        Qualcomm takes a disproportionate share not only of mobile patent licensing revenue but of all patent licensing revenue. Just looking at cell phones, Qualcomm receives approximately 70% of all cellular patent licensing revenue. That 70% represents approximately 25% of all patent licensing revenue worldwide. That includes licensing revenues for life-saving drugs, for advances in computer processors and networking, for advances in clean energy, automobiles, airplanes, for every invention under the sun—every advance created by every other industry. 70% of all cellular patent revenue and 25% of all patent licensing revenue is a strong signal that Qualcomm has leveraged its position in the market to charge royalty rates far out of sync with those charged by everyone else, to the detriment of consumers and competition.

        In the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) case, Qualcomm’s lawyers claimed that those royalty rates were earned by the quality of Qualcomm’s patents. And one jury seems to have agreed. But what happens when Qualcomm puts its patents in front of experts? The ITC found that only one claim of one patent was infringed, after Qualcomm started out asserting 6 patents. And the PTO found that, out of 33 challenges to claims of Qualcomm’s patents, 97% of those challenges were reasonably likely to prove the patent invalid. That’s not a group of high quality patents—and those are the ones Qualcomm picked as the most likely to be valid and infringed.

      • Dutch Discovery: to beer or not to beer

        … that is the question in recent ‘Dutch discovery’ proceedings in a patent dispute between beer giants Anheuser-Busch Inbev (‘ABI’) and Heineken. Well, sort of: the legal question was if ABI would be granted access to documentation seized at Heineken’s premises in the Netherlands. The Hague Court’s Preliminary Measures Judge answer did all but refresh the parts ABI tried to reach.

        To get back to the title of this post, ‘Dutch discovery’ is also not really spot on. In the Netherlands there exists no U.S. style pre-trial discovery. Dutch ‘discovery’ is to shoot first (by securing information on the basis of an ex parte court order), and discover later (in follow-up inter partes access proceedings). Other European states allow for similar measures to preserve evidence (partly thanks to the EU Enforcement Directive). And the funniest thing about Europe? It’s the little differences. While, like in France, we got the metric system, a Dutch discovery still tastes a little different from a saisie–contrefaçon.

        A Dutch discovery starts off with a seizure (well, often: there are some options to request an order to produce information in pending proceedings). A party seeking evidence to (further) substantiate its infringement claim, can request the court permission to seize documentation and samples and make a detailed description of products and processes at the alleged infringer’s premises. In short, to receive permission from the court – to be precise: one judge, the Preliminary Relief Judge – the patentee should make the alleged infringement sufficiently plausible and specify the in documentation it seeks to secure. If granted, the patentee is not (yet) allowed to access the secured information (which will be stored at a custodian).

        [...]

        The Hague Court’s Preliminary Measures Judge dismissed ABI’s access request. In particular noteworthy is how the Judge considers the ‘legal interest’ requirement while balancing the interests of ABI and Heineken. The Judge notes that in summary proceedings such as these (in Dutch: kort geding), there should always be a balancing of (urgent) interests. The patentee (i.c. ABI) has an interest in getting access to documents to determine if initiating actual infringement proceedings makes sense, while the alleged infringer (i.c. Heineken) has an interest in the protection of its trade secrets. Factors to consider in that regard are the value of the trade secrets and that access, if granted, is irrevocable, while it is – according to the Judge: “commonly known” – notoriously difficult to prove the misappropriation of trade secrets (for example of those acquired via access proceedings).

      • Patent case: Natural Alternatives International Inc. v. Creative Compounds LLC, USA

        Claims for methods of administering beta-alanine to increase muscles’ working capacity were valid treatment claims, not merely directed to natural laws. Claims for the supplement products and means of making them were directed to specific formulations, not natural phenomena.

      • Inventors, Licensing Groups Back US Withdrawal From Standards-Essential Patent Pact

        Standards-essential patents (SEPs) are those deemed vital for all parties to comply with a new standard, requiring the patent-owner to licence them under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The temptation for a company who owns a patent on a technology that is necessary for a standard can be to charge higher prices. The groups argue in a 15 March letter that the 2013 statement may have been well-intentioned but has been serving to weaken patents.

        [...]

        Invoking the US Constitution, the groups argue that “if standard development organizations refuse patent holders the right to exclude others who reject a license offered on reasonable terms from using their inventions, effectively creating, in the words of the AAG [Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim], a compulsory license.”

      • Network Monitoring and

        At the close of trial, the jury issued its verdict favoring the patentee and awarding $23 million in reasonable royalty damages that were then doubled by the D.Del. Judge Robinson based upon the adjudged willful infringement. On appeal, a 2-1 Federal Circuit panel has sided with the patentee on eligibility, but rejected the enhanced damages.

        The eligibility outcome here fits expectations with the majority opinion penned by Judge Stoll and joined by Judge O’Malley while Judge Lourie stood in dissent.

        SRI’s asserted claims are directed to methods of “hierarchical event monitoring” used within a computer network. U.S. Patent 6,711,615. The basic approach is (1) using a “plurality of network monitors” to detect “suspicious network activities”; (2) generate a report at the network monitor levele; and (3) a “hierarchical monitor” “automatically receiving and integrating the report.” The specification makes clear that the “integrating” step might be simply looking for commonalities in the intrusion reports or might further involve “countermeasures.” The specification does not appear to define “hierarchical monitor” other than contrasting them with peer-to-peer.

      • Trademarks
        • CJEU applies Louboutin, clarifying notion of ‘shape, or another characteristic, which gives substantial value to the goods’

          In light of the principles of legal certainty and the need to protect legitimate expectations, the CJEU ruled that Article 7(1)(e)(iii) EUTMR in its new formulation would not have retroactive effect.

          In Louboutin C‑163/16 the CJEU had considered that the concept of ‘shape’ is usually understood as a set of lines or contours that outline the product concerned. In particular, the application of a particular colour in a specific position of a product would not mean that the sign at issue consists of a ‘shape’ – within the meaning of Article 7(1)(e)(iii) of the EUTMR – where it is not the form of the product or part of the product that registration of the mark seeks to protect, but only the application of that colour in this specific location.

          However, unlike a sign relating to a specific colour, the sign in the present case contains lines and contours which together make up the two-dimensional and decorative motifs affixed to goods such as fabric or paper.

        • EU Agrees To Accede To Controversial WIPO Agreement Raising GI Protection

          European Union member states today agreed to accede to an agreement negotiated under the World Intellectual Property Organization that raises protections for geographical indications, products whose names derive from a particular regions with certain characteristics. Joining the so-called Geneva Act establishes a GI register for agricultural and non-agricultural products and appears to have the effect of requiring EU members to protect registered GIs of other members.

          It was unclear at press time what impact this will have for non-EU nations selling products in the EU. Intellectual Property Watch will seek to provide a fuller analysis of this action shortly.

      • Copyrights
        • Europeans should tell Parliament to vote NO to copyright filters

          It’s the end of the line for the EU’s proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. The dramatic negative effects of upload filters would be disastrous to the vision Creative Commons cares about as an organisation and global community. The continued inclusion of Article 13 makes the directive impossible to support as-is.

          Last month the Parliament, Council, and Commission completed their trilogue negotiations and reached a final compromise on the copyright directive text. Soon thereafter the EU Member State Ambassadors and the Parliament’s legal affairs committee gave a green light, now leading to a final vote in the plenary session of the Parliament scheduled for March 26.

          Next week all 751 MEPs will get a chance vote on whether to adopt the copyright directive, or send it back to the drawing board.

        • Tell The EU Not To Wreck The Internet

          As we noted earlier this week, a bunch of sites are taking part in an internet blackout today and urging their visitors, especially those in the EU to contact their MEPs, asking them to sign the pledge not to vote for Article 13. As the page notes, Article 13 is bad for the public, bad for creators and bad for innovation.

          Because this is being pushed (misleadingly) as being good for creators, I wanted to go into a bit more depth as to why that’s wrong and why this will be bad for most creators. Over the past two decades, contrary to what some lobbyists will tell you, the internet has been an incredible boon to creativity and creators. The internet has made it easier to create, to promote, to distribute, to build a fan base, and to monetize your works than ever before in history. The idea that the internet has somehow harmed creators is a laughable myth. What the internet did do was change the model by which creators could make money. Historically, outside of the absolute fringes, it required you to get “accepted” into the club by a giant gatekeeper — a giant gatekeeper most creators couldn’t even get in front of, let alone sign a deal with. And, since that was the only path to success, those gatekeepers signed insanely bad deals with creators. They would own your copyright, not you. They would be in charge of what you created. They would be in charge of the relationship with fans. They would control how the content was distributed. You might have some input, but it was theirs now.

          And, yes, they might give you an “advance,” but it was structured as a loan. You would need to use that advance to pay for everything having to do with the creation of your work — and then the gatekeeper would bill against that “advance” for any revenue that came in. The amount of money you actually made would be tiny — and the likelihood of ever actually “recouping” the advance is so slim, that record labels were known to not even keep records because they knew they’d never have to give you another dime.

          Compare that to the world today, with the internet. In the modern world, any content creator can just go online. They can create using tools available online. They can upload their content for free at a ton of different sites. They can reach a worldwide audience. They can promote. They can build a fanbase. They can make money from a bunch of different platforms. And they retain their copyright. They retain control. They don’t have some giant company telling them what to do or keeping every penny that comes in.

        • South Africa Moves Forward With Creator Rights Agenda

          By Sean Flynn, Associate Director, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, American University Washington College of Law

          South Africa took another step toward enactment of a Copyright Amendment Bill focused on improving the lot of creators. On March 20, the committee of jurisdiction in the National Council of Provinces voted 6-3 in favor of reporting the bill to the full house next week without amendment. The full house is likely to pass the bill, clearing the last hurdle before the President can sign the bill into law.

          South Africa and Singapore appear to be on the forefront of a new wave of explicitly pro-creator copyright reform, often at the expense of publishers and collective management organizations. Understandably for this reason, the South Africa bill has drawn considerable opposition from publishers and collective management organizations.

        • Italian Supreme Court clarifies availability of safe harbours, content of notice-and-takedown requests, and stay-down obligations

          In 2001 the Milan Court of First Instance found Yahoo! liable for hosting user-uploaded unlicensed audiovisual content owned by Radio Televisive Italiane (RTI) on its videosharing portal.

          In 2015 the Milan Court of Appeal reversed the first instance decision and held that Yahoo! would qualify as a hosting provider eligible for the safe harbour protection under the relevant national provision corresponding to Article 14 of the E-commerce Directive.

          RTI appealed to the Supreme Court (it should be noted that an appeal to this court is only possible insofar as the lower court has erred in its application of legal provisions: in this sense, the Italian Supreme Court is not a court on the merits), claiming – among other things – that Yahoo! could not qualify for protection under the safe harbour, it being an ‘active host’.

          The Supreme Court reviewed relevant case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), including the most recent decision on Article 14 of the E-commerce Directive – that is SNB-REACT [commented on The IPKat here] – and the decision in Ziggo [The Pirate Bay case, commented here], in which the CJEU acknowledged the possibility for a provider to be directly liable for copyright infringement.

        • Merkel party’s delegation to the European Parliament embarrasses itself with idiotic tweet displaying total digital-economy incompetence

          However, each MEP will be free to vote for or against anything. This week the political groups are just preparing their official recommendations, and given that the current version of the copyright bill resulted from a “trilogue” (interinstitutional negotiations between EU Council, European Commission and European Parliament), it’s normal that the major political groups in the EP officially recommend to their MEPs that they vote in favor. That said, there definitely is a problem because southern European center-left parties are inclined to support the bill.

          Comparing the current situation to the one we faced in 2005 before the plenary vote on software patents, there’s certainly a wider gap now. However, there will be massive protests on Saturday. In my previous post I provided a list of demonstrations (which has even grown since) and mentioned that I’m going to be one of the speakers at the Munich demonstration. Should those demonstrations have major impact, then there’s still a chance that Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party (Christian Social Union, CSU) may prefer to avoid holding a vote so shortly before EU elections in May.

          The CDU and CSU delegation to the European Parliament has embarrassed and disqualified itself to the extent that no citizen could possibly trust them to understand the issues in the slightest. There are people in the CDU and CSU with a far better grasp of digital policy issues, but they’re active in national politics, not in the European Parliament.

        • Unknown Nintendo Game Gets Digitized With Museum’s Help, Showing The Importance Of Copyright Exceptions

          Roughly a year ago, we wrote about how museums were requesting an exception to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions in order to preserve online games. While the Librarian of Congress has already allowed for exceptions for preserving non-online games, the request led to pushback by the Entertainment Software Association, which indicated preserving online games would be copyright infringement. Nintendo is a member of the ESA and the gaming giant was at the same time going around to ROMs sites all over the internet and either threatening them with legal action or scaring them into shutting down. This happened all while Nintendo also released several retro consoles, essentially cashing in on the nostalgia that the emulation sites had kept alive for the past decade or so.

          All of which is to say this: Nintendo is not generally friendly to the idea of preserving Nintendo games via digitization that it does not control itself. Standing in contrast to that is the recent discovery of an otherwise essentially unknown Nintendo game from 30 years ago that, upon discovery, was swiftly digitized for posterity.

        • The Best of Europe’s Web Went Dark Today. We Can’t Let That Be Our Future.

          With confusing rhetoric, the Directive’s advocates have always claimed that they mean no harm to popular, user-driven sites like Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap. They’ve said that the law is aimed only at big American tech giants, even as drafters have scrambled to address the criticism that it affects all of the Internet. Late in the process, the drafters tried to carve out exceptions for “online encyclopedias,” and the German government and European Parliamentarians fought hard – though ultimately failed – to put in effective exceptions for European start-ups and other competitors.

          Very few of the organizations and communities for whom these exceptions are meant to protect are happy with the end result. The Wikimedia Foundation, which worked valiantly to improve the Directive over its history, came out last week and declared that it could not support its final version. Even though copyright reform is badly needed online, and Wikipedians fought hard to include positive fixes in the rest of the Directive, Article 13 and Article 11 have effectively undermined all of those positive results.

        • Article 13 must go: No desperate last-minute witchcraft can turn it into magic pixie dust

          As we draw close to the finish of this long and exhausting legislative process, a few things are clear. One is that Article 13 does mean upload filters – no one can seriously deny this. Another is that Article 13 will not only harm freedom of expression on a massive scale, but it will also seriously damage the region’s already struggling digital economy. That’s the urgent message of a new open letter from 130 EU businesses. No amount of tweaking, tricks or supposed ‘fixes’ will turn this flawed technology into the long hoped-for magic pixie dust. The only solution is to drop Article 13 from the agreed text completely.

          Please use what little time is left before the final vote next week to join the Great 2019 Web Black-out on Thursday; to participate in marches across Europe in support of the open Internet on Saturday; and, above all, to contact your MEPs to ask them to vote for the removal of Article 13.

Team UPC (Unitary Patent) is a Headless Chicken

15 hours 49 min ago


Mike the Headless Chicken

Summary: Team UPC’s propaganda about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has become so ridiculous that the pertinent firms do not wish to be identified

THE European Patent Office (EPO) is 100% mute when it comes to UPC/UPCA. António Campinos has not mentioned it even once this year. Team UPC is another matter.

Notice this thing about Team UPC which we’ve been saying for about a year (every now and then). Team UPC spreads baseless rumours. It knows it is lying, but it doesn’t want to be held accountable for these lies. So in order to advance UPC, based on falsehoods, it’s increasingly hiding behind anonymous names/pseudonyms.

“Team UPC spreads baseless rumours. It knows it is lying, but it doesn’t want to be held accountable for these lies.”Yesterday we wrote about the latest from Bristows, which already speaks about UPC robes (for judges) and venues as if the FCC does not exist, Brexit never happened, and UPC is just about to kick off. Yesterday (later on in the day) they also published an exact copy, word by word, knowing nobody reads the blog. Bristows, the firm, published its blog post, for a fee, in another site or two (as usual over the past year or so). Then it published it a third time with different wording and an added picture (Italian flag). It is again hiding behind “Kluwer Patent blogger”, as if nobody will know who wrote it…

Team UPC is an appalling bunch; they’re antidemocratic, they’re manipulative liars, they’re censors and they’re anonymous cowards who hide behind fake names. This has become increasingly so in recent years because the only way to promote UPC is to intentionally lie about it. Even IAM (the patent trolls’ lobby, paid to promote the UPC) could no longer sustain all this chronic lying and virtually threw in the towel. Team UPC will never give up. “An overview of the INPI’s measures to reduce the patent backlog” is the title of some self-promotional piece that IAM has just published regarding Brazil. They want us to think that speed matters more than accuracy/quality. Well, go tell that to law firms that make business out of monopolies and lawsuits. Bogus patents don’t worry them as it’s their clients that pay the price.

“The EPO has become stuffed/stacked with so many phony European Patents and it’s starting to show.”Last but not least, we’ve just noticed Daniel Rowe of Dehns (Team UPC) taking note of EP 2429542, which the Enlarged Board of Appeals will look into. “In an appeal from a decision of the Examining Division on EP 2429542,” he explained, “this point is being challenged and the question has now been referred up to the Enlarged Board of Appeal.”

It’s about “double patenting” — the sort of thing patent maximalism leads to. The EPO has become stuffed/stacked with so many phony European Patents and it’s starting to show. If these patents are really that bad, why should they be decided on in courts outside the country of the accused/defendant? Why should the same people who grant these bogus patents have leverage over the branch that rules on them? No separation of powers?

António Campinos Makes Up Claims About Patent Quality, Only to be Rebutted by Examiners, Union (Anyone But the ‘Puff Pieces’ Industry)

16 hours 59 min ago
“EPO CQI pilot scheme improved patent quality, claims president”

Summary: Battistelli’s propagandistic style and self-serving ‘studies’ carry on; the notion of patent quality has been totally discarded and is nowadays lied about as facts get ‘manufactured’, then disseminated internally and externally (as above)

SEVERAL years ago Battistelli spent millions of euros, budget of the European Patent Office (EPO), bribing the media. This was an ethical breach on many levels. He did the same to academia, both in Europe and in the US (well outside the scope of the EPO’s members). We’re still seeing the effect of it; a lot of the media keeps silent about EPO scandals and crimes. Some of it actively yanks out fluff and PR. We’d rather not link to it this year; it would serve no positive purpose and we’ve already mentioned the earliest pieces about the so-called ‘results’ for 2018 [1, 2]. These had been published before the EPO even formally announced these, indicating there was prior coordination between the EPO’s PR people and media giants, such as Bloomberg. One might even call that “collusion” (media lending itself for PR purposes, as happened in the Battistelli days, e.g. Financial Times). The EPO is virtually above the law, so bribes to journalists aren’t even up there in the list of top offenses. We already wrote dozens of articles about this one aspect alone.

A reader has sent us the latest nonsense from the EPO. It’s a message passed around internally (late on Friday, i.e. the usual timing, probably for strategic purposes). We wonder if this mention of SUEPO (posted yesterday) can be regarded as endorsement of the rebuttal, the original, or both. In the same update SUEPO included “BARDEHLE PAGENBERG’s Contribution to the Public Consultation: EPO Strategic Plan 2023″ — a ‘contribution’ to itself. It’s pushing software patents agenda or as the FFII’s President put it about a day ago (quoting and responding): “Computer implemented inventions, recently in particular artificial intelligence” #swpats “Comvik should serve as guidance for differentiating patentable inventions from abstract ideas, which should be free from monopolies” software is abstract dude…”

Totally awful patent applications are being sent to the Office, containing many of the usual buzzwords (which the Office invites and recommends in events and written guidelines). The Office, which is granting patents on anything that contains such buzzwords, oughtn’t be surprised by an increase in applications. After all, who wouldn’t want a monopoly, even a bogus one that presumably holds EU-wide (unless or until tackled in court)?

There’s this new article from IPPro Magazine’s Barney Dixon (unlike his colleague, he doesn’t just do puff pieces). President António Campinos is evidently resorting to pseudoscience and lies (he’s no scientist, he’s a former banker). Here is the introduction and rebuttal, which SUEPO links to:

The European Patent Office (EPO)’s Collaborative Quality Improvements (CQI) pilot scheme has already resulted in quality improvements of 37 percent of cases, the office’s president has claimed.

[...]

An examiner close to the situation told IPPro that there were some issues with the results of this meeting.

First off, the examiner said that the large improvement percentages were “unverifiable”, as staff representation was not involved.

The examiner added: “Only management has an overview so it seems we have to take their word for it.”

Secondly, the examiner questioned the statistical validity of the figures put forward. They said: “How was the alleged increase in quality measured? Which methodology was used? What exactly was compared with what, to then be able to claim quality improvement?”

“Improvement in 37 percent of cases, as alleged, means nothing if one does not know what is considered as improvement … Quality measurement is a serious business.”

The EPO was contacted regarding the matter but declined to comment.

Writing with tongue-in-cheek expressions and in a totally sarcastic fashion, one reader spoke of “improved patent quality, claims president,” adding that: “It’s best to take what Campinos says with a pinch of salt…”

As we pointed out earlier this month, Campinos has begun lying in his writings just like Battistelli did. And he hasn’t even been in the Office for 9 months!

Here are the lies in full:

15.03.2019 Outcome and main issues

Dear Colleagues,

This week I held a meeting with participants of the Management Advisory Committee. To keep you informed on our ongoing discussions, you will find a brief summary below on two particularly important themes. Firstly our preparations to make sure the Strategic Plan 2023 (SP2023) is based on extensive input continue well. The MAC received updates on the progress of the preparation of both the Financial Study and the Staff Survey report and I would like to underline that all staff will have access to the findings of both sources of information. I will also be communicating on the outcome of the One-to-One meetings separately.

Secondly, while we are currently developing the SP2023 to make improvements over the next four years, we are already starting to implement schemes intended to improve both the work place and the patent granting process. In this MAC, we therefore received an update on the development of a new Ad Hoc Teleworking Scheme and the initial results of the Collaborative Quality Improvements pilot.

Inputs for the Strategic Plan

Financial Study – An overview of the progress of this on-going study gave us good hope that it will be ready on time, as scheduled. The purpose of the study is to give us an accurate assessment of the Office’s current financial situation and how it is expected to evolve in the future. Four scenarios will be presented from “Conservative” to “Optimistic” based upon the evolution of a set of various external factors, which determine the economic environment in which our organisation operates and which we cannot influence. The consultant will also provide a number of takeaways – or conclusions – and identify a series of levers, which are measures under the influence of our Office and which can be managed to help steer our financial future. The outcome of the Financial Study will be made available to all staff. An internal communication plan is being prepared so that all our departments will have access to comprehensive information and can ask their questions to obtain clarification where required on this sometimes complex issue.

We are convinced that greater financial sustainability for our organisation can be achieved through careful management of the various elements which can have a financial effect on our organisation. While we have already increased our operational and financial performance over recent years, the issue of financial sustainability is ongoing. We are now aiming to manage these questions based on a solid plan to address our liabilities for the years to come and so these questions do not have to be revisited in the near future.

Staff Engagement Survey – Following the closure of the survey on the 1 March with an 85% participation rate, we will soon have another invaluable source of information containing the views of the staff. The results will be delivered directly by the survey provider, Willis Towers Watson, at the beginning of April.

As well as being published on the Intranet, the consultant will be providing both Office-wide and DG specific results through a series of presentations at different sites. Further information on the presentations and the specific timing will be provided shortly but it is planned that all staff will be able to access the presentation either in person or by VICO (or similar means).

New Schemes

Ad hoc Teleworking Scheme – The MAC received an update on an Ad hoc Teleworking (AHTW) pilot scheme under development. By complementing the current Part-Time Home Working Scheme, it will provide more opportunities for staff members to work remotely on an occasional basis. It aims to contribute towards a more flexible working environment that can help balance the various professional and private demands faced by our staff members.

The main elements of the scheme were discussed, as well as the criteria for evaluating the success of the pilot. While the exact details are still to be finalised it’s anticipated that approximately 200 employees will initially take part, starting in April and following consultation with the GCC. We have every confidence that the scheme will prove a win-win for the Office and our employees.

Collaborative Quality Improvements (CQI) – Some staff may recall that we intend to encourage greater collaboration (broken link) among staff and departments to see whether it can yield benefits, such as increased transparency and the spread of knowledge and best practice. In the last couple of months, based on already existing collaborations used in many teams, DG1 has implemented a pilot that aimed to enhance quality in the patent granting process through greater collaboration within divisions and in teams. In the MAC yesterday, VP1 presented the findings of the first few weeks of operation and already the results are extremely encouraging.

Overall, quality improvements were reported in 37% of cases. The exercise is proving particularly useful for increasing the quality of examination, in which consultations led to quality improvements in 46% of the cases. Efficiency gains were also registered in 20% of all cases and the consultations were judged to be useful or very useful by the participants in the vast majority of cases (72%).

Although these are initial results, they are providing an extremely useful insight into the way in which greater collaboration can help contribute to greater quality, and confirming the findings of teams already using an enhanced collaborative approach. But other metrics being recorded also show a range of additional benefits, such as improved confidence among participants in their judgements, a sense of shared ownership and job satisfaction.

All members of the MAC would like to convey their thanks to everyone involved in the CQI initiative and look forward to hearing more about the pilot in the weeks to come.

Other Business

In other business, a statistical overview on different key figures from the patent granting process and some social indicators were presented, showing some positive trends that included an increase in applications and a reduction in the backlog. Finally, the timing of the rewards process was also discussed. More information on the rewards process will be communicated to all staff on 15 April.

I look forward to updating you in due course on the outcome of the next MAC. In the meantime, and following the Strategic Quality Board held in February, I will also be reporting on next week’s meeting on engaging our users in quality.

António Campinos
President

We’re probably the first and perhaps only site to publish this text (other than the intranet). Making it public may make rebuttal by anyone easier. Are puff pieces based on it going to come in the form of a public ‘study’?

Links 20/3/2019: Google Announces ‘Stadia’, Tails 3.13

Wednesday 20th of March 2019 09:07:09 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Server
    • Google Open-sources Sandboxed API, a tool that helps in automating the process of porting existing C and C++ code

      Yesterday, the team at Google open-sourced Sandboxed API, a tool that Google has been using internally for its data centers for years. It is a project for sandboxing C and C++ libraries running on Linux systems. Google has made the Sandboxed API available on GitHub.

      Sandboxed API helps coders to automate the process of porting their existing C and C++ code in order to run on top of Sandbox2, which is Google’s custom-made sandbox environment for Linux operating systems. Sandbox2 has also been open-sourced and is included with Sandboxed API GitHub repository.

      Christian Blichmann & Robert Swiecki, from Google’s ISE Sandboxing team, said, “Many popular software containment tools might not sufficiently isolate the rest of the OS, and those which do, might require time-consuming redefinition of security boundaries for each and every project that should be sandboxed.”

    • Google open-sources its Sandboxed API tools for isolating application processes

      Google LLC has open-sourced a new tool for developers that lets them sandbox C and C++ libraries that run on Linux-based operating systems.

      Developed internally by Google, the Sandboxed API has been used in its data centers for several years already, the company said in a blog post Monday announcing the move. Google has made Sandboxed API available to download on GitHub, together with its documentation that describes how to get it up and running.

    • Init Container Build Pattern: Knative build with plain old Kubernetes deployment

      With Kubernetes evolving at supersonic speed and seeing a lot of adoption in the enterprise world, the developer community is now looking for solutions to common Kubernetes problems, such as patterns. In this article, I will explore a new Kubernetes pattern using Init Containers.

      Let’s start with the use case that gave birth to this problem: Quarkus—Supersonic and Subatomic Java—has excited the Java developer community with its amazing speed and all new native build artifact for Java applications. As one of those excited developers, I want to quickly build and deploy a Quarkus application on to Kubernetes.

    • KubeEdge, a Kubernetes Native Edge Computing Framework

      Open source edge computing is going through its most dynamic phase of development in the industry. So many open source platforms, so many consolidations and so many initiatives for standardization! This shows the strong drive to build better platforms to bring cloud computing to the edges to meet ever increasing demand. KubeEdge, which was announced last year, now brings great news for cloud native computing! It provides a complete edge computing solution based on Kubernetes with separate cloud and edge core modules. Currently, both the cloud and edge modules are open sourced.

      Unlike certain light weight kubernetes platforms available around, KubeEdge is made to build edge computing solutions extending the cloud. The control plane resides in cloud, though scalable and extendable. At the same time, the edge can work in offline mode. Also it is lightweight and containerized, and can support heterogeneous hardware at the edge. With the optimization in edge resource utlization, KubeEdge positions to save significant setup and operation cost for edge solutions. This makes it the most compelling edge computing platform in the world currently, based on Kubernetes!

    • Red Hat Security: The Product Security Blog has moved!

      Red Hat Product Security has joined forces with other security teams inside Red Hat to publish our content in a common venue using the Security channel of the Red Hat Blog. This move provides a wider variety of important Security topics, from experts all over Red Hat, in a more modern and functional interface. We hope everyone will enjoy the new experience!

    • From virtualization to emerging workloads: How Red Hat and NVIDIA are driving enterprise innovation

      Innovations like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and other emerging workloads present a vision of IT’s future, one where intelligent solutions can more effectively analyze and address evolving business needs. But this vision can be limited by current IT infrastructure, which can often require significant investments in order to enable new workloads.

      One answer to this challenge is through workload acceleration, which uses specialized computational resources, like graphic processing units (GPUs) to tackle intense computing tasks. Established in scientific and research computing, GPUs such as those offered by NVIDIA are now catching the attention of enterprise IT as a technology that can accelerate compute-intensive operations found in data science and AI, extending their reach to a broader range of end users.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Intel Working On Some Interesting Coreboot Improvements: Multi-CPU Support, SMM

      Last week during Facebook’s Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit, some interesting details were revealed by Intel and their work on this open-source hardware initialization effort alternative to proprietary BIOS/firmware.

      One is that Intel is working on multi-CPU support within Coreboot for multi-socket server platforms. The code for this has yet to be published.

    • Handling Complex Memory Situations

      Jérôme Glisse felt that the time had come for the Linux kernel to address seriously the issue of having many different types of memory installed on a single running system. There was main system memory and device-specific memory, and associated hierarchies regarding which memory to use at which time and under which circumstances. This complicated new situation, Jérôme said, was actually now the norm, and it should be treated as such.

      The physical connections between the various CPUs and devices and RAM chips—that is, the bus topology—also was relevant, because it could influence the various speeds of each of those components.

      Jérôme wanted to be clear that his proposal went beyond existing efforts to handle heterogeneous RAM. He wanted to take account of the wide range of hardware and its topological relationships to eek out the absolute highest performance from a given system.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Sysdig Joins the Linux Foundation’s New Foundation to Support Continuous Delivery Collaboration
      • Linux Foundation Launches Red Team Project

        The Linux Foundation has launched a new project aimed at incubating open source cybersecurity tools. The Red Team Project’s main goal is to make open source software safer to use.

        The aim is to create cybersecurity tools for areas including cyber range automation, containerized pentesting utilities, binary risk quantification, and standards validation and advancement.

        [...]

        Current tooling from the project start with a Linux Exploit Mapper (LEM) that scans a Linux system for local exploits and maps them to known exploit code. When exploits are discovered using the mapper, they are curated, tested for efficacy and ease-of-use using a variant of the STRIDE scoring mechanism. An Ansible role called cyber-range-target is used to deliberately downgrade OS packages to a version vulnerable to a given CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposure) for assessment purposes. The project also provides a Red Container. This offers containerized pentesting tooling, which can be launched from whole OSes or containerized environments like Kubernetes.

      • DataPractices.org Becomes a Linux Foundation Project

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced DataPractices.org, the first-ever template for data best practices, will now be a hosted project under the Linux Foundation and offer open courseware for data teamwork.

        Datapractices.org was initially pioneered by data.world as a “Manifesto for Data Practices,” comprised of values and principles to illustrate the most effective, modern, and ethical approach to data teamwork. As an open project under the Linux Foundation, Datapractices.org intends to maintain and further develop a collaborative approach to defining and refining data best practices. The project will also facilitate collaboration and development of open courseware to guide organizations interested in aligning their data practices with the values (inclusion, experimentation, accountability, and impact) and principles of DataPractices.org.

        As a part of the Linux Foundation, DataPractices.org intends to enable a vendor-neutral community to further establish best practices and increase the level of data knowledge across the data ecosystem. The project’s new open courseware is available to anyone interested in data best practices—including novice practitioners, data managers, corporate evangelists, seasoned data scientists, and more. The project also welcomes expert practitioners to help refine and advance the courseware.

      • datapractices.org joins the Linux Foundation to Advance Best Practices & Offers Open Courseware Across Data Ecosystem

        The Linux Foundation has announced datapractices.org, a vendor-neutral community working on the first-ever template for modern data teamwork, has joined as an official Linux Foundation project.

        DataPractices.org was pioneered by data.world as a “Manifesto for Data Practices” of four values and 12 principles that illustrate the most effective, ethical, and modern approach to data teamwork. As a member of the foundation, datapractices.org will expand to offer open courseware and establish a collaborative approach to defining and refining data best practices.

    • Graphics Stack
      • RADV Vulkan Driver Gets Patches For VK_KHR_8bit_storage

        The Mesa Radeon “RADV” Vulkan driver has a series of patches pending for introducing VK_KHR_8bit_storage support.

        Rhys Perry of the Nouveau crowd worked on the VK_KHR_8bit_storage support for RADV back in February while it’s now being carried forward by Valve Linux developer Samuel Pitoiset. The VK_KHR_8bit_storage extension as implied by the name allows for using 8-bit types in uniform and storage buffers as well as push constant blocks.

      • xf86-video-ati / xf86-video-amdgpu 19.0.1 Released To Better Deal With DP MST Displays

        Radeon DDX wrangler Michel Dänzer of AMD has announced the releases today of xf86-video-amdgpu 19.0.1 and the xf86-video-ati 19.0.1 release for older Radeon hardware.

        The lone change with the xf86-video-amdgpu X.Org driver update is support for the RandR output tile properties in better dealing with DisplayPort Multi-Stream Transport (DP MST) displays. This was the change that landed last week in these X.Org drivers and ushering out these new point releases to ship this support finally — years after the support was added to the X.Org Server and xf86-video-modesetting.

      • Nvidia ray traces the heck out of Quake II… launching for free in April

        Nvidia has been working behind the scenes on Q2VKPT with creator Christoph Schied to build Quake II RTX: a cutting-edge reimagining of the old school classic. While Schied has been working on a ray-traced version of Quake II for some time, and doing a grand job of it too, Nvidia has lent its expertise to bring the classic shooter into 2019 and utilise all that ray tracing has to offer.

    • Benchmarks
      • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Linux Benchmarks

        Last week NVIDIA announced the GeForce GTX 1660 as the newest RTX-less Turing GPU but costing only $219+ USD. The GTX 1660 is a further trimmed down version of the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti that launched several weeks prior. After picking up an ASUS GeForce GTX 1660 Phoenix Edition, here are Linux OpenGL/Vulkan gaming benchmarks compared to a wide assortment of AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards under Ubuntu.

        The GeForce GTX 1660 features 1408 CUDA cores (compared to 1536 with the GTX 1660 Ti) while having a 1785MHz boost clock frequency and 1530MHz base clock frequency. The GeForce GTX 1660 opts for 6GB of GDDR5 unlike the 6GB GDDR6 used by the GTX 1660 Ti, which means only around 192GB/s of video memory bandwidth compared to 288GB/s with the Ti model. The other specifications are largely in common with the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and the other Turing GPUs aside from lacking the RT/tensor cores.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Latest MATE 1.22 Linux Desktop Is Out Now

      Latest version contains plenty of critical bug fixes and various features too. In the latest release, plenty of work has been done so that MATE 1.22 can work with Wayland display backend system.

      Wanda the Fish now works properly on HiDPI displays. Good news for the metacity themes lover as support for metacity-themes has finally been upgraded to version 3 in the macro window manager. The session manager now properly terminates all processes on systemd. Also the Tabs in pluma now have the ability to be switched with keyboard shortcuts and mouse scrolling. A few new key shortcuts have been added, including support for different types of media keys like Bluetooth, WiFi, touchpads, and global killswitches.

    • Sway – A Tiling Wayland i3-Compatible Compositor

      I have covered window tiling editors/managers previously with apps like herbstluftwm and Tilix so check them out if you haven’t already.

      Sway is a free and open source tiling Wayland compositor that is compatible with the i3 window manager, uses the same configuration syntax, and works with most of the software designed for i3.

      Sway makes use of all the available space on your screen and automatically adjusts window sizes as you open more apps and you can navigate between apps with your keyboard.

      App windows can be arranged horizontally, vertically, stacked, or tabbed and you can change their size as well as split windows into containers of several windows all without touching your mouse. You could, however, use your mouse to rearrange windows and even take windows out of the tiling grid and manipulate them.44

    • The Greenfield Wayland Compositor Can Now Run Apps Directly In Your Web Browser

      Greenfield is the nearly two year old effort providing an in-browser, HTML5 Wayland compositor. This open-source project has allowed for remote Wayland applications to run in browsers while running from remote hosts. Greenfield though can now run applications directly inside a user’s web browser via Web Worker threads.

      Erik De Rijcke who masterminded Greenfield announced that applications can now run directly in browsers thanks to Web Workers. But in order to do so, the application must be using JavaScript or WebAssembly. Among other hinderances, this also currently requires a custom Wayland buffer protocol to be supported by the application as well. But once working, all the work is done in the client’s web browser rather than running remotely on a web server.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Google Removed the KDE Connect App from the Play Store (Update: It’s Back)

        The official KDE Connect Android app was briefly removed from the Google Play Store for “violating” app permission policies.

        Google yanked the phone-side companion app, which works with desktop tools like GSconnect, from its Android app store on March 19. It said the app did not adhere to its new rules on apps that can access to SMS messages.

      • Shallot – Qt-based file manager with plugin interface

        We recently published a comprehensive roundup of the best 15 Qt file managers, finally plumping on Krusader and Dolphin as our recommended tools to manage your file system.

        A few of our readers have emailed us requesting we take a spin of Shallot. Never one to disappoint, here’s our take on this file manager. It’s Qt-based with a plugin interface. We compare Shallot with the 15 Qt file managers.

        Shallot is billed as a file manager with the maximum degree of flexibility and customizability.

      • Making the Most of your Memory with mmap

        Sometimes it seems that we have nearly infinite memory resources, especially compared to the tiny 48K RAM of yesteryear’s 8-bit computers. But today’s complex applications can soak up megabytes before you know it. While it would be great if developers planned their memory management for all applications, thinking through a memory management strategy is crucial for applications with especially RAM intensive features like image/video processing, massive databases, and machine learning.

        How do you plan a memory management strategy? It’s very dependent on your application and its requirements, but a good start is to work with your operating system instead of against it. That’s where memory mapping comes in. mmap can make your application’s performance better while also improving its memory profile by letting you leverage the same virtual memory paging machinery that the OS itself relies on. Smart use of the memory mapping API (Qt, UNIX, Windows) allows you to transparently handle massive data sets, automatically paging them out of memory as needed – and it’s much better than you’re likely to manage with a roll-your-own memory management scheme.

        Here’s a real-life use case of how we used mmap to optimize RAM use in QiTissue, a medical image application. This application loads, merges, manipulates, and displays highly detailed microscope images that are up to gigabytes in size. It needs to be efficient or risks running out of memory even on desktops loaded with RAM.

      • KDAB at QtDay 2019

        On the 1st and 2nd of April, KDAB will once again be sponsors at this fast-growing Qt event in Italy: QtDay 2019.

        The biggest Qt event in the region, now in its 8th year, contrary to what its name suggests, QtDay 2019 boasts a full two days of technical talks and workshops, each day with two to three tracks.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Parental controls & metered data hackfest: days 1 & 2

        I’m currently at the Parental Controls & Metered Data hackfest at Red Hat’s office in London. A bunch of GNOME people from various companies (Canonical, Endless, elementary, and Red Hat) have gathered to work out a plan to start implementing these two features in GNOME. The first two days have been dedicated to the parental control features. This is the ability for parents to control what children can do on the computer. For example, locking down access to certain applications or websites.

        Day one began with presentations of the Endless OS implementation by Philip, followed by a demonstration of the Elementary version by Cassidy. Elementary were interested in potentially expanding this feature set to include something like Digital Wellbeing – we explored the distinction between this and parental controls. It turns out that these features are relatively similar – the main differences are whether you are applying restrictions to yourself or to someone else, and whether you have the ability to lift/ignore the restrictions. We’ve started talking about the latter of these as “speed bumps”: you can always undo your own restrictions, so the interventions from the OS should be intended to nudge you towards the right behaviour.

        After that we looked at some prior art (Android, iOS), and started to take the large list of potential features (in the image above) down to the ones we thought might be feasible to implement. Throughout all of this, one topic we kept coming back to was app lockdown. It’s reasonably simple to see how this could be applied to containerised apps (e.g. Snap or Flatpak), but system applications that come from a deb or an rpm are much more difficult. It would probably be possible – but still difficult – to use an LSM like AppArmor or SELinux to do this by denying execute access to the application’s binary. One obvious problem with that is that GNOME doesn’t require one of these and different distributions have made different choices here… Another tricky topic is how to implement website white/blacklisting in a robust way. We discussed using DNS (systemd-resolved?) and ip/nftables implementations, but it might turn out that the most feasible way is to use a browser extension for this.

      • GNOME ED Update – February

        Another update is now due from what we’ve been doing at the Foundation, and we’ve been busy!

        As you may have seen, we’ve hired three excellent people over the past couple of months. Kristi Progri has joined us as Program Coordinator, Bartłomiej Piorski as a devops sysadmin, and Emmanuele Bassi as our GTK Core developer. I hope to announce another new hire soon, so watch this space…

        There’s been quite a lot of discussion around the Google API access, and GNOME Online Accounts. The latest update is that I submitted the application to Google to get GOA verified, and we’ve got a couple of things we’re working through to get this sorted.

      • Some Quick Graphics/Game Tests With GNOME 3.32 On Clear Linux

        For about one week already Intel’s rolling-release Clear Linux distribution has been shipping with GNOME 3.32. Here are some quick graphics and gaming benchmarks comparing GNOME 3.30.2 to 3.32.0.

        Using a Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics card, I tested Clear Linux between its releases having GNOME Shell 3.30 and the move to GNOME Shell 3.30.2. On both builds of Clear Linux, Linux 5.0.1 was in use along with X.Org Server 1.20.4 (they aren’t yet defaulting to a Wayland session), and Mesa 19.1-devel.

      • More GNOME Shell / Mutter Performance Optimizations & Latency Reductions Still Coming

        Over the course of the GNOME 3.32 that is nearly complete as well as GNOME 3.30 there was a lot of measurable performance fixes and enhancements to improve the fluidity of the GNOME desktop as well as addressing various latency issues. While in some areas these performance improvements make a night and day difference, work isn’t done on enhancing GNOME’s performance.

        One of the developers leading the charge on enhancing/fixing the performance of GNOME Shell and Mutter in particular has been Canonical’s Daniel Van Vugt. While he’s already made great strides in fixing issues himself, reviewing and collaborating on other patches, etc, the job isn’t done. Van Vugt shared there’s still some big ticket work pending.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • KDE neon 5.15 review – Speed bumps ahead

        KDE neon 5.15 is a decent distro. But it’s not quite as pain-free as some of its predecessors, and I’ve hit a bunch of highly disappointing errors and bugs that simply shouldn’t be there. The network and phone experience needs to be better, smoother. There ought to be no crashes. Regressions are bad.

        Then, the upgrade process is robust and tight, the system is beautiful, and it purrs like a tiger – do tigers purr actually? You get the idea. Very sleek, very slick. Fast. You have a wealth of great software and a well-designed desktop environment that blends the bleeding-edge with pro-thought and good speed, and without being utterly beta. I’m quite happy overall, but I don’t like the lack of consistency between the live media and the installed system. Some of this feels rushed. A good release, but ultimately not calm enough for everyday use. Well, I guess that’s what LTS is for. 7/10. That would be all for today.

    • New Releases
      • LinHES R8.6 Released

        The LinHES Dev team is pleased to announce the release of LinHES R8.6!

        LinHES R8.6 updates MythTV to 30-fixes as well as updates to the kernel, system libraries, graphics drivers and many other parts of LinHES.

        Release notes and upgrade instructions can be found here.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • SUSE Enterprise Storage 6 Beta Program

        SUSE Enterprise Storage 6, the upcoming release from SUSE, enables IT organizations to seamlessly adapt to changing business demands while reducing IT operational expense with new features focused on containerized and cloud workload support, improved integration with public cloud and enhanced data protection capabilities. This release of SUSE Enterprise Storage will be available for first customer ship in early June. However, you can download a BETA version today and give release 6 a test drive. It is built on the upstream Ceph release: Nautilus and updated to run on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP1 BETA. There are a lot of new features in SUSE Enterprise Storage 6.

      • From Paris with Love

        Last week, I had the great pleasure of being among the team representing SUSE at HPE’s Technology and Solutions Summit (aka HPE TSS) in Paris. HPE’s largest and most comprehensive technical and solutions knowledge transfer event is aimed at presales consultants and solutions architects from HPE and their partners, bringing together teams from within HPE and their partner community all with the aim of sharing knowledge about their products and services.

        Around 3,000 delegates converged upon the City of Lights to learn, exchange ideas and have a little fun in the city that is home to Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, the legendary Eiffel Tower, and of course the many creperies serving up delicious treats to hungry visitors!

    • Fedora
      • F29-20190319 updated Live isos released

        The Fedora Respins SIG is pleased to announce the latest release of Updated F29-20190319 Live ISOs, carrying the 4.20.16-200 kernel.

        This set of updated isos will save considerable amounts of updates after install. ((for new installs.)(New installs of Workstation have 1.2GB of updates)).

        This set also includes a updated iso of the Security Lab.

        A huge thank you goes out to irc nicks dowdle, Southern-Gentlem for testing these iso.

    • Debian Family
      • Debian members afraid to make or propose change, says leadership contender

        Michlmayr made the comments as part of his platform for the leadership elections; he and four others are contesting for leader of the project, with the campaigning period running until 6 April. Nominees also take part in online debates as part of pushing their claims to the post of leader.

        He said that he had not been active in Debian of late but believed that the role of DPL should have three sides to it: administrator, facilitator and leader.

        Having been the DPL in 2003 and 2004, Michlmayr said he was familiar with the role. “If I didn’t believe in Debian, I wouldn’t run in this DPL election. I acted as DPL before and know how difficult being the DPL can be sometimes. Yes, I see severe problems in Debian, but I firmly believe that together we can solve them!” he added.

      • Derivatives
        • Tails 3.13 is out

          This release fixes many security vulnerabilities. You should upgrade as soon as possible.

        • Tor-Powered Tails 3.13 Anonymous Linux OS Adds Extra Security and Latest Updates

          Powered by the Linux 4.19.28 kernel, the Tails 3.13 operating system is now available with latest TOR technologies to help you stay hidden while surfing the Internet, including the Tor Browser 8.0.7 anonymous web browser and Tor 0.3.5.8 client and server for the anonymous Tor network.

          However, probably the most important addition in the Tails 3.13 release is the updated Intel microcode to version 3.20180807a.2, which adds an extra security measure against more variants of the well-known Spectre, Meltdown, and L1TF (Level 1 Terminal Fault) security vulnerabilities.

        • Septor 2019.2 – changes

          Tor Browser is fully installed (8.0.7)
          System upgrade from Debian testing repos as of March 19, 2019

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Debug ACPI DSDT and SSDT with ACPICA Utilities

            Using acpidbg on Ubuntu 18.04 x64 can be quite handy; however, the Linux kernel with ACPI_DEBUGGER is not always available, such as on Ubuntu for ARM. In such cases, acpica also provides a set of utilities, named acpica-tools, for ACPI debugging.

          • NVIDIA Jetson Nano is a $99 Computer Built for AI, Powered by Ubuntu

            Sold as a complete compute solution, the Jetson Nano Developer Kit wants to let embedded designers, researchers, and DIY makers harness the power of AI, all at an affordable price.

            A NVIDIA’s JetPack SDK provides a ‘complete desktop Linux environment based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS’, replete with accelerated graphics, NVIDIA CUDA toolkit support, and more.

            NVIDIA say developers will find it “easy” to install leading open-source Machine Learning (ML) frameworks like TensorFlow, Caffe and Keras. Frameworks for computer vision and robotics development like OpenCV and ROS are also available via the SDK.

            The JetPack 4.2 SDK [shipped on the microSD card] provides a complete desktop Linux environment for Jetson Nano based on Ubuntu 18.04 with accelerated graphics, support for NVIDIA CUDA Toolkit 10.0, and libraries such as cuDNN 7.3 and TensorRT 5,” Nvidia says of the nimble Nano dev kit.

            But how powerful is it?

          • Vertical rhythm and spacing in Vanilla Framework 2.0

            Vanilla, the CSS framework behind Canonical’s suite of products and services, has undergone significant changes over the last 12 months. We’ve introduced vertical rhythm, a new type scale, consistent white space in and between elements, and adjustable information density.

          • Ubuntu 19 04 Desktop Tour of New Features
          • Flavours and Variants
            • Pop OS 18.10 Linux Gaming Report: System76 Nails It For Nvidia And AMD Users

              Pop!_OS is, in my opinion, a seriously underappreciated Ubuntu-based operating that distinguishes itself in a couple major areas — in addition to its utter simplicity and slick installer. It was created primarily to be the accompanying OS for the variety of custom Linux desktops and laptops produced by System76, and they’ve added some features I prefer not to live without regardless of what hardware I’m using.

              First, Pop!_OS is one of the only distros I’ve tried that elegantly handles Hybrid graphics (that’s Intel CPU + Nvidia GPU as seen in laptops like the ThinkPad X1 Extreme) out of the box. Moreover, System76 ships two versions of Pop!_OS: one designed for Intel/AMD, and one designed for Nvidia GPUs. The Nvidia ISO installs the proprietary driver so that users don’t need to add a repository by hand and install it later.

            • And the next version of Zorin OS is…

              After a long development cycle, we’re excited to introduce the Beta of the next major version of our operating system: Zorin OS 15. Creating a Linux desktop operating system that’s designed for everyone – not only the engineers & power users – has always been the mission of Zorin OS, ever since the first release nearly 10 years ago. Zorin OS 15 takes this decade-long effort and amplifies it to the next level. Every aspect of the user experience has been re-considered and refined in this new release, from how apps are installed, to how you get work done, to how it interacts with the devices around you. The result is a desktop experience that combines the most powerful desktop technology with the most user-friendly design.

              This is a pre-release Beta version which we have created to get your feedback & bug reports on what we’ve built so far.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Managing changes in open source projects

    Why bother having a process for proposing changes to your open source project? Why not just let people do what they’re doing and merge the features when they’re ready? Well, you can certainly do that if you’re the only person on the project. Or maybe if it’s just you and a few friends.

    But if the project is large, you might need to coordinate how some of the changes land. Or, at the very least, let people know a change is coming so they can adjust if it affects the parts they work on. A visible change process is also helpful to the community. It allows them to give feedback that can improve your idea. And if nothing else, it lets people know what’s coming so that they can get excited, and maybe get you a little bit of coverage on Opensource.com or the like. Basically, it’s “here’s what I’m going to do” instead of “here’s what I did,” and it might save you some headaches as you scramble to QA right before your release.

  • Women win all open board director seats in Open Source Initiative 2019 board elections

    A person discussed six female candidates in misogynistic language on Slashdot, which is a tech-focussed social news website. The post also then labeled each woman with how much of a “threat” they were. Slashdot immediately took down this post “shortly afterward the OSI started seeing inappropriate comments posted on its website”.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Improves Web Browser Security in Firefox 66 Update

        Mozilla released the Firefox 66 update on March 19, providing users of the open-source web browser with new features that enhance user experience and improve security.

        Among Firefox 66′s new features is one that blocks websites from auto-playing sound, which can be an annoyance. Also, the search feature within the browser has been improved with enhanced capability to search across multiple open tabs on a user’s system. Additionally, security gets a boost in the new browser release with patches for multiple vulnerabilities and an expansion of the number of web content loading processes.

      • Firefox 66: The Sound of Silence

        Firefox 66 is out, and brings with it a host of great new features like screen sharing, scroll anchoring, autoplay blocking for audible media, and initial support for the Touch Bar on macOS.

        [...]

        Starting with version 66, Firefox will block audible autoplaying video and audio. This means media (audio and video) have to wait for user interaction before playing, unless the muted property is set on the associated HTMLMediaElement.

      • Firefox 66 Released, This is What’s Changed

        Mozilla Firefox 66 is available to download for Windows, macOS and Linux desktops and Android devices.

        The browser update comes with a selection of interface tweaks, bug fixes and performance improvements across all operating systems. A few Linux-specific changes also feature.

        For more details on what’s new in Firefox 66, read on!

      • Firefox Quantum 66 blocks audio autoplay, improves scrolling behavior and adds option to search all tabs

        Android users gain the sound-blocking feature and scroll anchoring support, plus users can now open files from external SD cards and other storage. Firefox Quantum 66.0 and Firefox for Android 66.0 are both available now as a free, open-source download for supported versions of Windows, Mac, Linux and Android.

  • LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice Conference 2020: Call for Locations

      Once a year, the LibreOffice Community gathers for a global community event: the LibreOffice Conference, or LibOCon. After a series of successful events – Paris, October 2011; Berlin, October 2012; Milan, September 2013; Bern, September 2014; Aarhus, September 2015; Brno, September 2016; Rome, October 2017; and Tirana, September 2018 – the venue for 2019 is Almeria, Spain.

      To ease the organization, TDF Board of Directors has decided to open the call for location for 2020, to give the 2020 event organizers the opportunity of attending the conference in Almeria in September 2019. The LibreOffice Conference takes place between September and November, with a preference for September.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • LLVM 8.0.0 released

      I’m pleased to announce that LLVM 8 is now available.

      Get it here: https://llvm.org/releases/download.html#8.0.0

      This release contains the work on trunk up to Subversion revision
      r351319, plus work on the release branch. It’s the result of the LLVM
      community’s work over the past six months, including: speculative load
      hardening, concurrent compilation in the ORC JIT API, no longer
      experimental WebAssembly target, a Clang option to initialize
      automatic variables, improved pre-compiled header support in clang-cl,
      the /Zc:dllexportInlines- flag, RISC-V support in lld. And as usual,
      many bug fixes, optimization and diagnostics improvements, etc.

      For more details, see the release notes:

      https://llvm.org/releases/8.0.0/docs/ReleaseNotes.html

      https://llvm.org/releases/8.0.0/tools/clang/docs/ReleaseN…

      https://llvm.org/releases/8.0.0/tools/clang/tools/extra/d…

      https://llvm.org/releases/8.0.0/tools/lld/docs/ReleaseNot…

      https://llvm.org/releases/8.0.0/projects/libcxx/docs/Rele…

      Special thanks to the release testers and packagers: Amy Kwan, Bero
      Rosenkränzer, Brian Cain, Diana Picus, Dimitry Andric, Kim Gräsman,
      Lei Huang, Michał Górny, Sylvestre Ledru, Ulrich Weigand, Vedant
      Kumar, and Yvan Roux.

      For questions or comments about the release, please contact the
      community on the mailing lists. Onwards to LLVM 9!

      Thanks,
      Hans

    • LLVM 8.0.0 released

      Version 8.0.0 of the LLVM compiler suite is out. “It’s the result of the LLVM community’s work over the past six months, including: speculative load hardening, concurrent compilation in the ORC JIT API, no longer experimental WebAssembly target, a Clang option to initialize automatic variables, improved pre-compiled header support in clang-cl, the /Zc:dllexportInlines- flag, RISC-V support in lld.” For details one can see separate release notes for LLVM, Clang, Extra Clang Tools, lld, and libc++.

    • LLVM 8.0 Released With Cascade Lake Support, Better Diagnostics, More OpenMP/OpenCL

      After being delayed the better part of one month, LLVM 8.0 officially set sail this morning.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Install Fests: What to Do about the Deal with the Devil

      Install fests invite users to bring their computers so that experts can install GNU/Linux on them. This is meant to promote the idea of free software as well as the use of free software. In practice, these two goals conflict: users that want to reject nonfree software entirely need to choose their computers carefully to achieve that goal.

      The problem is that most computers can’t run with a completely free GNU/Linux distro. They contain peripherals, or coprocessors, that won’t operate unless the installed system contains some nonfree drivers or firmware. This happens because hardware manufacturers refuse to tell us how to use their products, so that the only way to figure out how is by reverse engineering, which in most cases has not yet been done.

      This presents the install fest with a dilemma. If it upholds the ideals of freedom, by installing only free software from 100%-free distros, partly-secret machines won’t become entirely functional and the users that bring them will go away disappointed. However, if the install fest installs nonfree distros and nonfree software which make machines entirely function, it will fail to teach users to say no for freedom’s sake. They may learn to like GNU/Linux, but they won’t learn what the free software movement stands for. In effect, the install fest makes a tacit deal with the devil that suppresses the free software movement’s message about freedom and justice.

      The nonfree software means the user sacrifices freedom for functionality. If users had to wrestle with this choice, they could draw a moral lesson from it, and maybe get a better computer later. But when the install fest makes the compromise on the user’s behalf, it shelters the user from the moral dimension; the user never sees that something other than convenience is at stake. In effect, the install fest makes the deal with the devil, on the user’s behalf, behind a curtain so the user doesn’t recognize that it is one.

      I propose that the install fest show users exactly what deal they are making. Let them talk with the devil individually, learn the deal’s bad implications, then make a deal—or refuse!

      As always, I call on the install fest itself to install only free software, taking a strict stance. In this way it can set a clear moral example of rejecting nonfree software.

      My new idea is that the install fest could allow the devil to hang around, off in a corner of the hall, or the next room. (Actually, a human being wearing sign saying “The Devil,” and maybe a toy mask or horns.) The devil would offer to install nonfree drivers in the user’s machine to make more parts of the computer function, explaining to the user that the cost of this is using a nonfree (unjust) program.

    • RMS article: “Install fests: What to do about the deal with the devil”

      Stallman explains that, because of obstacles deliberately devised to thwart back engineering, not all computers can function properly with a completely free distro. And that a choice, therefore, often has to be made, between freedom and convenience, between installing a fully free distro that won’t function as intended, and installing a nonfree distro that will. He argues that this choice should be made by the informed user alone, not silently by the install-fest volunteer.

      Stallman appeals to install fests to forgo the “tacit deal with the devil” that suppresses the free software movement’s message about freedom and justice, and to take advantage of the teachable moment, to introduce the user to the “moral dimension” of their computing choices. He suggests a number of things an install-fest could do (implement visual demarcations that help users understand when they’re about to “forfeit their freedom,” give technical advice regarding free software and free hardware, encourage users to lobby offending manufacturers) in order to “retain full moral authority when it talks about the imperative for freedom.” Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, and, ultimately, better no devil at all.

    • About Musix’s removal from our list of endorsed distributions

      The maintainer of Musix requested that it be removed from our list of endorsed distributions, as the distribution is no longer maintained.

      In 2018 we updated our list of free GNU/Linux distributions to add a “Historical” section. We retired BLAG Linux and GNU at that time, as it was no longer maintained. We are sad to announce today that Musix will also being moving to the Historical section, as it is likewise no longer maintained. Founded in 2004, Musix was on the list of free GNU/Linux distributions for over a decade. The list helps users to find operating systems that come with only free software and documentation, and that do not promote any nonfree software. Being added to the list means that a distribution has gone through a rigorous screening process, and is dedicated to diligently fixing any freedom issues that may arise.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • MOREbot Introduces Kids to Robotics Using 3D Printed Parts

        MORE Technologies last week launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise US$20,000 for development of its open source robot ecosystem.

        The company will fund the project if it reaches its goal by April 21. As of this writing, $6,485 of that $20,000 goal has been pledged.

        The MOREbot project teaches real tech skills to the next generation of innovators and problem solvers using MOREbot — a series of open source, customizable robotics kits designed for classroom or home use.

        MOREbot is an expandable modular STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning robotic ecosystem. All robot parts are 3D printed, which makes it very affordable, according to the company.

      • gym-gazebo2 toolkit uses ROS 2 and Gazebo for reinforcement learning

        The first gym-gazebo was a successful proof of concept, which is being used by multiple research laboratories and many users of the robotics community. Given its positive impact, specially regarding usability, researchers at Acutronic Robotics have now freshly launched gym-gazebo2.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • Selling Used Panties Online Is Harder Than You Think

    “The education business is killing me, I am selling panties to buy groceries,” she admitted. This admission turned out to be an opening: To Charlotte’s surprise, the friend replied with a confession that the PR firm was a front, and that she was actually working as an escort. She offered to teach Charlotte the ropes.

  • Science
    • University of Illinois at Chicago Missed Warning Signs of Research Going Awry, Letters Show

      For a year, the University of Illinois at Chicago has downplayed its shortcomings in overseeing the work of a prominent child psychiatrist who violated research protocols and put vulnerable children with bipolar disorder at risk.

      But documents newly obtained by ProPublica Illinois show that UIC acknowledged to federal officials that it had missed several warning signs that Dr. Mani Pavuluri’s clinical trial on lithium had gone off track, eventually requiring the university to pay an unprecedented $3.1 million penalty to the federal government.

      UIC’s Institutional Review Board, the committee responsible for protecting research subjects, improperly fast-tracked approval of Pavuluri’s clinical trial, didn’t catch serious omissions from the consent forms parents had to sign and allowed children to enroll in the study even though they weren’t eligible, the documents show.

      The IRB’s shortcomings violated federal regulations meant to protect human subjects, putting it in “serious non-compliance,” according to one of five letters from UIC officials to the federal government the university turned over to ProPublica Illinois after a nearly yearlong appeal for the documents under open records laws.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • ‘We Already Spend More Than Medicare for All Would Cost Us’ – CounterSpin interview with Diane Archer on Medicare for All

      : The March 11 Washington Post headline told readers that the Medicare for All bill, recently introduced by Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, “reflects influence of hard-line progressive groups.” Not quite a hit piece, but something very like it, the article said “a slew of groups further to the left” shaped the bill, which would “upend health coverage for tens of millions of Americans,” and “cost many times more than the ACA.” Which is why, the Post claims, “To some progressives, this is a step (or steps) too far.”

      Words like “upend” and “drastically” do their work. And at one point, “advocates on the left” are counterposed with “most health policy experts.”

      “Supporters of the Jayapal bill insist there’s a groundswell of grassroots enthusiasm” for overhauling the country’s healthcare, the piece says—without reference to any of various polls that would indicate precisely that.

      The thing is, public support for a fundamental change in the way we do healthcare persists, despite years of this sort of elite media treatment—perhaps because for most Americans, healthcare is not a partisan debate, but a crisis.

      Joining us now to talk about how Medicare for All would respond to that crisis is Diane Archer. Founder and former president of the Medicare Rights Center, she is president of Just Care USA. She joins us now by phone from here in New York. Welcome to CounterSpin, Diane Archer.

    • Sweetened Drinks Linked to Higher Mortality Risk

      While sugary beverages seem to be the worst offenders, artificially sweetened drinks might also associated with health problems, an observational study suggests.

    • Kale, Strawberries, and Spinach Top List as Report Shows Nearly 70% of US Produce Contain Dangerous Pesticide Residue

      The majority of conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables contain pesticide residues that are not eliminated even after washing and peeling the food, scientists revealed Wednesday.

      The findings came in an annual report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The study includes analysis of more than 40,000 samples of produce including kale, apples, spinach, and other popular fruits and vegetables that Americans buy every day. Pesticides were found in nearly 70 percent of the non-organic foods the study included.

      The samples EWG analyzed had been tested by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) itself. The government found 225 different pesticides on popular fruits and vegetables.

      Strawberries, spinach, and kale were among the most-contaminated produce according to EWG’s list of the “Dirty Dozen.” Among the 12 fruits and vegetables found to contain the most residues, several tested positive for two or more pesticides. Some of the kale samples contained as many as 18 different chemicals.

      “We were surprised kale had so many pesticides on it, but the test results were unequivocal,” said EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin, who suggested that shoppers purchase organic versions of the Dirty Dozen, if possible.

    • A Second U.S. Jury Finds That Roundup Causes Cancer

      The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company’s glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff’s cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

    • Jury Finds Monsanto’s Roundup Guilty of Causing Cancer
    • Another Guilty Verdict for Monsanto as Jury Finds Roundup Was ‘Substantial Factor’ in Causing Man’s Cancer

      “Today’s verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people,” Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook said in a statement, referring to the active ingredient in Roundup. “As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up.”

      Edwin Hardeman, the plaintiff in the case, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) in 2015 after using Roundup to kill poison oak and weeds on his property for over 20 years. In 2016, Hardeman sued Monsanto, which was acquired by the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer last year.

      “The decision by Bayer to purchase Monsanto, a company with a long history of environmental malfeasance, could go down as one of the worst business decisions ever made,” said Cook. “The day of reckoning for Bayer and its cancer-causing weedkiller is getting closer.”

      The jury’s verdict comes just months after Monsanto was ordered to pay over $200 million in damages to a former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, who said Roundup caused his cancer.

      Michael Baum, an attorney who represented Johnson, told Buzzfeed that the jury’s verdict in the Hardeman case is “a huge win for all Roundup-induced NHL claimants and a devastating loss for Bayer/Monsanto.”

    • Latest Science Debunks Claim That Marijuana Significantly Harms Brain

      Claims that cannabis use is associated with lower cognitive functioning are largely based upon the findings of a single longitudinal study. The paper, published by Madeline Meier and a team of Duke University researchers in 2012, reported that the onset of cannabis use in early adolescence was associated with an average decline of eight IQ points by middle-age.

      However, a critique of Meier’s study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, opined that the reported differences in IQ were consistent with socioeconomic differences among the study’s participants and likely were not attributable to marijuana use. (This criticism is hardly surprising as data has historically shown that those of greater economic means tend to test higher on IQ tests than those who are poorer, and critics have also raised questions as to whether the test itself may possess inherent racial biases.) It countered that the Duke team likely “overestimate[d]” the impact of marijuana on IQ and opined that the “true effect [of cannabis exposure] could be zero.”

      This criticism is given additional merit by the fact that several later and better controlled studies have failed to replicate Meier’s initial findings. For example, a British study of more than 2,000 teens reported that cannabis exposure prior to the age of 15 “did not predict either lower teenage IQ scores or poorer educational performance … once adjustment is made for potential confounds.”

  • Security
    • 40 Linux Server Hardening Security Tips [2019 edition]
    • Why Trust Is Key for Cyber-Security Risk Management

      “Trust” is an often-overused term, but according to Rohit Ghai, president of RSA Security, trust is the key to understanding and managing digital risk.

      In a video interview with eWEEK, Ghai discusses his views on trust, where the concept of an artificial intelligence “digital twin” fits in and why there could well be a need to redefine industry cyber-security categories to better reflect how risk management technologies should work. He also provides insight into how RSA Security’s products, including Archer, Netwitness and SecurID, fit together to help organizations provide trust and manage risk.

      “As long as we pay attention to the idea of risk and trust co-existing and taking a risk orientation to security, I think we’ll be fine,” Ghai said. “Trust is important. We are living in an era where people are losing faith or trust in technology, and we have to act now to restore it.”

    • IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 129 is ready for testing

      The next release is available for testing – presumably going to be last release in the 2.21 series before we bring some bigger changes. This update has a huge number and significant changes for IPsec as well as many updates to the core system and various smaller bug fixes.

    • Superuser accounts: What they are and how to secure them

      Most security technologies are helpless in protecting against superusers because they were developed to protect the perimeter – but superusers are already on the inside. Superusers may be able to change firewall configurations, create backdoors and override security settings, all while erasing traces of their activity.

      Insufficient policies and controls around superuser provisioning, segregation and monitoring further heighten risks. For instance, database administrators, network engineers and application developers are frequently given full superuser-level access. Sharing of superuser accounts among multiple individuals is also a rampant practice, which muddles the audit trail. And in the case of Windows PCs, users often log in with administrative account privileges –far broader than what is needed.

    • Education and Science Giant Elsevier Left Users’ Passwords Exposed Online

      It’s not entirely clear how long the server was exposed or how many accounts were impacted, but it provided a rolling list of passwords as well as password reset links when a user requested to change their login credentials.

    • Norwegian aluminium firm goes manual after Windows ransomware attack

      Norwegian aluminium maker Norsk Hydro has been under what it describes as “an extensive cyber attack” that has affected several areas of the company’s operations. The malware affecting the firm is believed to the LockerGoga ransomware that attacks Windows systems.

    • “Severe” ransomware attack cripples big aluminum producer

      Norsk Hydro of Norway said the malware first hit computers in the United States on Monday night. By Tuesday morning, the infection had spread to other parts of the company, which operates in 40 countries. Company officials responded by isolating plants to prevent further spreading. Some plants were temporarily stopped, while others, which had to be kept running continuously, were switched to manual mode when possible. The company’s 35,000 employees were instructed to keep computers turned off but were allowed to use phones and tablets to check email.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Microsoft Office Is The Most Exploited Software By Cybercriminals[Ed: Microsoft software is designed for back doors, not for security, and that still shows.]

      list of the top 10 most exploited vulnerabilities in 2018 has revealed that Microsoft Office was the favorite victim of cybercriminals. Microsoft Office vulnerabilities appear 8 times in the list with one Adobe Flash Player vulnerability and an AndroidRAT cyber vulnerability being the only mobile device flaw in the list.

    • Mirai botnet returns with sights set on enterprise IoT devices

      Researchers from Unit 42, the threat intelligence group of Palo Alto Networks, found the new variant targeting LG Supersign TVs and WePresent WiPG-1000 Wireless Presentation system, both of which are used by businesses with networks offering larger amounts of bandwidth.

    • Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #203
    • PuTTY in your hands: SSH client gets patched after RSA key exchange memory vuln spotted

      Venerable SSH client PuTTY has received a pile of security patches, with its lead maintainer admitting to the The Register that one fixed a “‘game over’ level vulnerability”.

      The fixes implemented in PuTTY over the weekend include new features plugging a plethora of vulns in the Telnet and SSH client, most of which were uncovered as part of an EU-sponsored HackerOne bug bounty.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Joint Chiefs Chairman: Google ‘Is Indirectly Benefiting The Chinese Military’

      “We have an American company that does not want to do work with our defense department which is one thing, but they’re happy to help the Chinese, at least the Chinese government that is, the Chinese military, at least indirectly, I think that’s just extraordinary,” he added.

    • Whose Blood, Whose Treasure?

      Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed that famed saying when summing up the Obama administration’s military intervention in Libya in 2011 — with a small alteration. “We came, we saw, he died,” she said with a laugh about the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, that country’s autocratic leader. Note what she left out, though: the “vici” or victory part. And how right she was to do so, since Washington’s invasions, occupations, and interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere in this century have never produced anything faintly like a single decisive and lasting victory.

      “Failure is not an option” was the stirring 1995 movie catchphrase for the dramatic 1970 rescue of the Apollo 13 moon mission and crew, but were such a movie to be made about America’s wars and their less-than-vici-esque results today, the phrase would have to be corrected in Clintonian fashion to read “We came, we saw, we failed.”

      Wars are risky, destructive, unpredictable endeavors, so it would hardly be surprising if America’s military and civilian leaders failed occasionally in their endless martial endeavors, despite the overwhelming superiority in firepower of “the world’s greatest military.” Here’s the question, though: Why have all the American wars of this century gone down in flames and what in the world have those leaders learned from such repetitive failures?

      The evidence before our eyes suggests that, when it comes to our senior military leaders at least, the answer would be: nothing at all.

      Let’s begin with General David Petraeus, he of “the surge” fame in the Iraq War. Of course, he would briefly fall from grace in 2012, while director of the CIA, thanks to an affair with his biographer with whom he inappropriately shared highly classified information. When riding high in Iraq in 2007, however, “King David” (as he was then dubbed) was widely considered an example of America’s best and brightest. He was a soldier-scholar with a doctorate from Princeton, an “insurgent” general with the perfect way — a revival of Vietnam-era counterinsurgency techniques — to stabilize invaded and occupied Iraq. He was the man to snatch victory from the jaws of looming defeat. (Talk about a fable not worthy of Aesop!)

      Though retired from the military since 2011, Petraeus somehow remains a bellwether for conventional thinking about America’s wars at the Pentagon, as well as inside the Washington Beltway. And despite the quagmire in Afghanistan (that he had a significant hand in deepening), despite the widespread destruction in Iraq (for which he would hold some responsibility), despite the failed-state chaos in Libya, he continues to relentlessly plug the idea of pursuing a “sustainable” forever war against global terrorism; in other words, yet more of the same.

    • WATCH: Video Details Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s Ties to ‘Murderous’ Right-Wing Militias Ahead of Trump Meeting

      An in-depth video report detailed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s growing list of scandals and deep ties to Brazil’s “most violent, lawless, and murderous paramilitary gangs” just before Bolsonaro is set to meet with his right-wing American counterpart Donald Trump in the White House Tuesday afternoon.

      “The facts around this trip are vital for the American media—and especially the American press covering the White House—to understand, so that they can report properly and question Bolsonaro during his trip to the White House about the realities of his presidency,” said The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, “rather than the branding and perception the Brazilian government is trying to sell around the world.”

      The image Bolsonaro is attempting to convey is one of a “strong” and “honest” leader, Greenwald said, but recent revelations have severely undermined this narrative while raising disturbing questions about the Brazilian president and his sons.

    • Empire of Absurdity: Recycled Neocons, Recycled Enemies

      There are times when I wish that the United States would just drop the charade and declare itself a global empire. As a veteran of two imperial wars, a witness to the dark underside of America’s empire-denial, I’ve grown tired of the equivocation and denials from senior policymakers. The U.S. can’t be an empire, we’re told, because – unlike the Brits and Romans – America doesn’t annex territories outright, and our school children don’t color its colonies in red-white-and-blue on cute educational maps.

      But this distinction, at root, is rather superficial. Conquest, colonization, and annexation are so 19th century – Washington has moved beyond the overt and engages in the (not-so) subtle modern form of imperialism. America’s empire over the last two decades – under Democrats and Republicans – has used a range of tools: economic, military, political, to topple regimes, instigate coups, and starve “enemy” civilians. Heck, it didn’t even start with 9/11 – bullying foreigners and overturning uncooperative regimes is as American as apple pie.

      Still, observing post-9/11, post-Iraq/Afghanistan defeat, Washington play imperialism these days is tragicomically absurd. The emperor has no clothes, folks. Sure, America (for a few more fleeting years) boasts the world’s dominant economy, sure its dotted the globe with a few hundred military bases, and sure it’s military still outspends the next seven competitors combined. Nonetheless, what’s remarkable, what constitutes the real story of 2019, is this: the US empire can’t seem to accomplish anything anymore, can’t seem to bend anybody to its will. It’s almost sad to watch. America, the big-hulking has-been on the block, still struts its stuff, but most of the world simply ignores it.

      Make no mistake, Washington isn’t done trying; it’s happy to keep throwing good money (and blood) at bad: to the tune of a cool $6 trillion, 7,000 troop deaths, and 500,000 foreign deaths – including maybe 240,000 civilians. But what’s it all been for? The world is no safer, global terror attacks have only increased, and Uncle Sam just can’t seem to achieve any of its preferred policy goals.

    • The Taliban Is Ascendant as Afghanistan Hangs in the Balance

      The tables have turned. The Taliban, the militants who sheltered the 9/11 attackers and earned the wrath of America, are now meeting their arch-nemesis in Doha, Qatar. Conducting the talks is Zalmay Khalilzad, a senior diplomat of Afghan descent who is currently serving as the U.S. State Department’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation.

      Since August 2018, the two parties have met five times. Last Tuesday, Ambassador Khalilzad tweeted: “Just finished a marathon round of talks with the Taliban in Doha. The conditions for peace have improved. It’s clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides.”

      It had been hoped that the peace talks would reach some positive conclusion by spring and a cease-fire announced. This has not happened. Ambassador Khalilzad has returned to Washington for further consultations.

      [...]

      Taliban authority is inevitable if the leadership in Kabul is kept out of the talks. Without his government’s participation, Ghani would have no say in the implementation of the final settlement and the power-sharing arrangement that is worked out. Moreover, once the U.S. forces are out of Afghanistan, it would be a walkover for the Taliban.

      Taliban leaders have already been discussing their future plans. Theirs would be an Islamic state, but they have moderated their tone somewhat, not wishing to revive memories of the ideological state they created from 1996 to 2001. Yet their extremist anti-female and anti-culture stance and militancy invites skepticism given their past record while in power.

      They have also promised to cultivate cordial and friendly relations with Islamabad. This is to be expected. After all, Pakistan has been a friend that has provided them support and helped them break out of their isolation. Islamabad’s role in paving the way for the Doha talks has been acknowledged by Washington.

    • Trump Praises Brazil’s Far-Right Leader at White House

      President Donald Trump praised Brazil’s new far-right leader Tuesday as he welcomed him to the White House, saying the man who’s been described as the “Trump of the Tropics” has done “a very outstanding job.”

      Trump said President Jair Bolsonaro had run “one of the incredible campaigns,” saying he was “honored” it had drawn comparisons with his own 2016 victory. And he predicted the two would have a “fantastic working relationship,” telling reporters as he opened a joint press conference that they have “many views” in common.

      The two leaders were expected to discuss a range of issues during their first sit-down, including expanding trade relations, increasing U.S. private-sector investment in Brazil and resolving the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela. Both are fierce critics of Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

      As they sat down for talks, Trump also said that he supports Brazil’s effort’s to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and is “very strongly” looking at U.S. support for Brazil’s effort to gain certain NATO privileges.

      “We’re very inclined to do that,” Trump told reporters, describing the relationship between the two countries as better than ever.

    • US Killing Civilians With ‘Impunity’ in Hidden War on Somalia: Report

      A human rights group is accusing the United States of waging a shadow air war in Somalia that is killing civilians with abandon.

      Amnesty International issued its findings on the African war Tuesday evening in a report titled The Hidden US War in Somalia (pdf).

      The U.S. has been covertly engaging in conflicts in Somalia for decades, but in April 2017, the Donald Trump administration upped airstrikes and attacks targeted at the rebel group Al-Shabaab.

      The human rights advocacy group studied five of more than 100 strikes on Somalia over the past two years and found that 14 civilians were killed in the attacks. Eight others were injured, the report says.

      “These five incidents were carried out with Reaper drones and manned aircraft in Lower Shabelle,” Amnesty said in a press release, “a region largely under Al-Shabaab control outside the Somali capital Mogadishu.”

      The U.S. military denied to Amnesty that any civilians have been killed as a result of American operations in Somalia.

      However, Amnesty’s report claims its methodology is sound and that the evidence is overwhelming.

      “The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law,” the organization said, “and some may amount to war crimes.”

      In comments provided to the media, Brian Castner, the group’s senior crisis advisor on arms and military operations, claimed that the continued airstrikes are also a sign of the Trump administration’s aggressive use of military action across the world.

      “The civilian death toll we’ve uncovered in just a handful of strikes suggests the shroud of secrecy surrounding the US role in Somalia’s war is actually a smokescreen for impunity,” Castner said.

    • Bloomberg’s Armsmaker-Funded Columnist Wants You to Know: Military Spending Is Woke

      Progressives are told to love the Pentagon budget (Bloomberg, 3/17/19) by a pundit whose connection to the military/industrial complex isn’t disclosed.

      You may not know it, but bloated Pentagon budgets are actually “progressive.” Or so says a recent opinion piece in Bloomberg News (3/17/19), “Progressives Should Learn to Love the Pentagon Budget,” by Hal Brands.

      Bloomberg identifies Brands as the “Henry Kissinger Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.” “Kissinger” is ominous enough, but surely Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments is some innocuous, wonky academic institution, no?

      In a piece explicitly defending bloated military budgets, however, perhaps it would be useful to know what exactly the “Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments” is. We can start by reading this section taken directly from their website (unabridged):

    • Venezuela Tops CIA’s Agenda for Brazil’s President

      On his first visit to the U.S., President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro eagerly receives his instructions from the CIA and Trump’s foreign policy team. Alex Main of CEPR analyzes the visit

    • California governor joins 18 states in outlawing death penalty

      California Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., signed an executive order Wednesday placing an indefinite moratorium on capital punishment, saying it goes against Californians’ “values.”

      Newsom said the death penalty has been meted out unevenly, often discriminating against the poor and people of color. He added that he personally opposes the measure.

    • Countdown to “Full Spectrum Dominance”

      The US is formally committed to dominating the world by the year 2020. With President Trump’s new Space Directive-4, the production of laser-armed fighter jets as possible precursors to space weapons, and the possibility of nuclear warheads being put into orbit, the clock is ticking…

      Back in 1997, the now-re-established US Space Command announced its commitment to “full spectrum dominance.” The Vision for 2020 explains that “full spectrum dominance” means military control over land, sea, air, and space (the so-called fourth dimension of warfare) “to protect US interests and investment.” “Protect” means guarantee operational freedom. “US interest and investment” means corporate profits.

      The glossy brochure explains that, in the past, the Army evolved to protect US settlers who stole land from Native Americans in the genocidal birth of the nation. Like the Vision for 2020, a report by the National Defense University acknowledges that by the 19th century, the Navy had evolved to protect the US’s newly-formulated “grand strategy.” In addition to supposedly protecting citizens and the constitution, “The overriding principle was, and remains, the protection of American territory … and our economic well-being.” By the 20th century, the Air Force had been established, in the words of the Air Force Study Strategy Guide, to protect “vital interests,” including: “commerce; secure energy supplies; [and] freedom of action.” In the 21stcentury, these pillars of power are bolstered by the Cyber Command and the coming Space Force.

    • Re-Targeting Cuba: Why Title III of U.S. Helms-Burton Act will be a Horror Show

      Embarked upon overthrowing Venezuela’s socialist government, the U.S. government now renews efforts to squash Cuba. The U.S. record of implacable hostility features terror attacks, military invasion, germ warfare, internal subversion, and almost 60 years of U.S. economic blockade. Devoid of natural resources ready for U.S. plunder, Cuba offends by having defended socialism and national independence. Now Title III of the U.S. 1996 Helms Burton Act joins an arsenal of weapons employed in what Cubans regard as genocidal aggression.

      Helms Burton is complex but centers on tightening the economic blockade; preparing for a transition government; and by means of Title III, inflicting suffering and destabilization. The latter is taking place now in Venezuela, by other means.

      Title III opens the door for the former owners and the heirs of properties nationalized by Cuba’s revolutionary government to bring actions in U.S. courts to gain compensation for what they lost. Persons or companies presently occupying such properties, or profiting from them, and who are located in third countries, would be required by the courts to pay off the aggrieved parties. These live in exile, mainly in the United States. The courts would lack enforcement capabilities.

      In 1966, when the law was introduced, the European Union and other critics insisted that the U.S. government delay implementation of Title III. It did so and for the next 23 years, at six month intervals, the United States did announce one six-month delay after another. But a new era dawned on January 16 when the State Department declared that this time suspended implementation would end at 45 days. Something was up.

    • War Crimes in Yemen?
    • Trump’s $174 Billion Budget Lie

      Over the past week, the Trump administration put out their proposal for the federal budget for fiscal year 2020, which starts in October of this year.

      With this budget, Trump is trying to have his cake and eat it too: he wants to claim that he’s adhering to strict spending limits favored by deficit hawks in his party, but there’s just one problem.

      His budget leaves a spare $174 billion in extra Pentagon lying around in plain sight, while claiming that it doesn’t count toward spending limits.

      This isn’t a new trick. Congress has been passing extra money to the Pentagon in just this way for years.

      But the Trump administration is taking it even further. The $174 billion in extra funds that Trump is asking for is more than double what Congress passed last year.

      If Trump pretends that the Pentagon is also subject to strict spending limits, he can argue that his more than $50 billion in cuts to programs like the Environmental Protection Agency and Legal Aid are honest attempts to control federal spending.

    • When They Don’t Ignore, US Media Often Disparage Palestinians’ Right of Return

      For many years, US corporate media have consistently failed to adequately inform audiences about the Palestinian right of return.

      Even though the refugees are a crucial reason that the issue of Israel/Palestine remains unresolved, only a small portion of the coverage addresses the right of return. I used the media aggregator Factiva to search the databases of three major US newspapers: the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. In a combined search of these three publications, Factiva returns results for 45,285 pieces that mention the Palestinian issue over the last ten years. Of these, only 624 contain the phrase “right of return.” In other words, since March 2009 these outlets have published 44,661 articles that bring up the Palestinian question while omitting a phrase that is absolutely integral to it, and one of the main reasons that it remains unresolved.

      To put it another way, only 0.01 percent of coverage of Palestinians or Palestine in the last ten years in the Times, Journal and Post informs its audience about the right of return or even mentions it at all. That these are US media outlets writing for largely US audiences underscores the seriousness of this hole in the coverage, because US tax dollars are used to prevent the Palestinians from exercising this right.

      When the right of return is mentioned in media, pundits and other journalists often baselessly call its legitimacy into question. In the Wall Street Journal, Michael Weiss (2/1/11) referred to it as the “Palestinians’ so-called ‘Right of Return.’” The Post’s Jennifer Rubin (10/2/14) opted for the same formulation, criticizing Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, because he wouldn’t “give up the so-called right of return.”

    • White nationalism, born in the USA, is now a global terror threat

      The recent massacre of 50 Muslim worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand is the latest confirmation that white supremacy is a danger to democratic societies across the globe.

      Despite President Donald Trump’s suggestion that white nationalist terrorism is not a major problem, recent data from the United Nations, University of Chicago and other sources show the opposite.

      As more people embrace a xenophobic and anti-immigrant worldview, it is fueling hostility and violence toward those deemed “outsiders” – whether because of their religion, skin color or national origin.

    • White Supremacy Is a Genuinely Global Threat

      White supremacy — the belief that white people are somehow superior to people of other racial backgrounds, and should therefore politically, economically, and socially rule non-white people — isn’t going away any time soon.

      It’s been deeply woven into the fabric of our culture, systemically and institutionally ingrained into this country’s DNA. It’s at the root of every racist act. It’s metastasized into the soil of this land and beyond, shaping our nation — and our world — as it stands today.

    • The war on terror in our communities

      Let’s make visible the domestic war on terror and work to end it once and for all.
      As an anti-war activist and mother, for many years I’ve been acutely aware that we have been at war my teenage daughter’s entire life. March 20 is the 16th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. We are now living in a time when an entire generation of young people — including new Marine recruits and newly registered voters — have grown up with war as a routine condition. And most of the public is unaware that more than 244,000 civilians have been killed and that the U.S. continues to conduct “counter-terror” activities in 80 countries.

      The endless “war on terror” has multiple fronts, no clear conditions for ending, and has become so normalized as to be almost invisible. Yet perhaps even more obscured is the war on terror within the U.S., that targets and criminalizes entire communities – particularly Muslims, immigrants, and Black and brown people. As Deepa Kumar, professor of media studies at Rutgers University, has written, when the U.S. goes to war, “the end goal is to win consent for an imperial agenda through a process that orchestrates fear of the enemy within and preempts criticisms of empire-building.”

    • Trump Administration Fails to Roll Back Support for Landmark Women’s Rights Agreement at United Nations

      The U.S. delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) tried and failed to roll back support for a landmark 1995 document that has long provided a blueprint for developing the rights, health, and safety of women and girls worldwide.

      According to draft documents acquired by The Guardian, the U.S. delegation came into this week’s CSW meetings intending to “water down” commitments to the health and well-being of women and girls as well as remove the word “gender” from the commission’s documents. At issue is the 1995 Beijing declaration and platform for action, a landmark blueprint outlining priorities for the global empowerment of women and girls, including protection from gender-based violence and access to basic reproductive health care. While the agreement is non-binding, advocates often use it to pressure governments into loosening restrictions on women’s lives.

      Tarah Demant, director of Amnesty International’s gender, sexuality, and identity program told Rewire.News that U.S.-led efforts to undercut support for the Beijing declaration failed late Monday.

    • Trump & Bolsonaro Join Forces to Back Regime Change in Venezuela & to Attack Media as “Fake News”

      Brazil’s far-right president and former Army captain Jair Bolsonaro visited President Trump at the White House for the first time on Tuesday. During the visit, Trump announced he would designate Brazil a major non-NATO ally, opening the door for Brazil to receive more U.S. military aid. Trump also suggested Brazil could even become a member of NATO. Both leaders criticized what they called the “fake news” and discussed increasing efforts to remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from office. We speak with Maria Luísa Mendonça, director of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights in Brazil. She is a visiting scholar at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

    • ‘Military Keynesianism is Back!’: Democrats and Trump Agree on Pentagon Increase, Quibble on Details

      The Trump administration unveiled the details of its proposal to the public on March 12. At $750 billion, the military seeks to receive $36 billion more than last year’s record $714 billion budget—an increase that experts say is aimed at China and Russia. Democrats have signaled that the increase is a nonstarter, but their counter-offer of $733 billion isn’t exactly a difference in more than degrees, Matt Taibbi wrote in Rolling Stone.

      “The Democrats want to lower Trump’s number,” said Taibbi, “but still give the Pentagon a raise.”

      The budget increase marks a new direction on a number of levels. Trump is breaking with tradition on federal spending by increasing the military budget while slashing social services. That’s deceptive, wrote Lindsay Koshgarian, program director at the budget research organization National Priorities Project.

      “If Trump pretends that the Pentagon is also subject to strict spending limits,” Koshgarian said, “he can argue that his more than $50 billion in cuts to programs like the Environmental Protection Agency and Legal Aid are honest attempts to control federal spending.”

      Pentagon spending proposed in the new military budget will double the discretionary war funds the military uses while cutting the standing Pentagon budget by $71 billion. The sharp increase in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, or “war funding,” is adding to the so-called “Pentagon slush fund.” It’s just a way of getting around budget caps, said Taibbi.

      “OCO funding is mainly used as a means to increase military spending above caps designated by Congress,” Taibbi explained. “Thanks to the Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress can only spend a certain percentage of overall appropriations on defense versus non-defense programs. In 2018, the cap was roughly 54 percent.”

      The increase in spending appears set to pass Congress. That’s “appalling” in a chamber now controlled by Democrats, journalist David Dayen wrote on Twitter.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Tulsi Gabbard: The U.S. Government’s Treatment of Wikileaks Will ‘Have a Chilling Effect on Investigative Reporting’

      This is a followup to similar statements she’s made about WikiLeaks before. During an event in New Hampshire, she said the stolen information that WikiLeaks published had “spurred necessary change.” During her Concord meet and greet she said: “Obviously the information that has been put out has exposed a lot of things that have been happening that the American people were not aware of and have spurred some necessary change there.”

      Her response was an answer to a question about President Donald Trump’s administration seeking to prosecute Julian Assange. Just this week, Chelsea Manning was jailed for not answering questions from a grand jury about Assange. She refused to testify before a grand jury investigation regarding WikiLeaks, AP shared. She said she objected to the secrecy of the grand jury process and had already shared everything that she knows. Because prosecutors granted her immunity for her testimony, she said she couldn’t invoke the Fifth Amendment to defend her right not to speak.

      The emails from the DNC shared by WikiLeaks did indeed ultimately bring about some changes, including lesser power to superdelegates in 2020. Donna Brazile, former DNC chairwoman, has said that the DNC primary in 2016 was “rigged” against Bernie Sanders. Brazile herself had even leaked some debate questions to Hillary Clinton before her debate with Sanders. Brazile has said that the DNC worked closely with Clinton’s campaign in 2016 because it needed the money, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz let Clinton’s campaign help cover the DNC’s debt in exchange for some level of control, the Miami Herald reported. The DNC is supposed to be impartial during Democratic presidential primaries, but Brazile said that was not the case.

      In July 2016, Wasserman Schultz stepped down as chair of the DNC after WikiLeaks published DNC emails that showed the organization strongly favored Clinton over Sanders during the primary. Brazile briefly served as interim chair before Tom Perez took over.

    • Attempts to prosecute Julian Assange on account of his publishing activities set a dangerous precedent against the freedom of the press throughout the world

      For more than 8 years, WikiLeaks’ founder and editor, Julian Assange has been under various forms of restrictions upon his liberty without charge in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Despite a Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruling in December 2015 (opinion No. 54/2015) that Mr Assange was being arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released. The UK has not only refused to comply with this decision, but senior government representatives, including the Prime Minister, have condemned the decision.

      On 21 December 2018, UN human rights experts repeated the demand that the UK abides by its international obligations and immediately allows Mr. Assange to walk free from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been for over 6 years, fearing arrest by British authorities if he leaves, and extradition to the United States of America.

    • Daniel Ellsberg Calls Chelsea Manning “an American Hero”

      Two years after being released from prison where she had served seven years for exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Chelsea Manning was jailed once again for refusing to answer questions before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

      “I will not comply with this, or any other grand jury,” Manning declared in a written statement. “Imprisoning me for my refusal to answer questions only subjects me to additional punishment for my repeatedly-stated ethical objections to the grand jury system.”

      Noted whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg praised Manning. “Chelsea Manning is in jail again, this time for resisting a grand jury system whose secrecy and lack of witness rights makes it prone to frequent abuse,” Ellsberg told Truthout. “She is also resisting its current abuse, as it is used to attack freedom of the press by pursuing criminal charges for publication of the very war crimes and corruption she courageously revealed to WikiLeaks nine years ago.”

      Manning wrote, “The grand jury’s questions pertained to disclosures from nine years ago, and took place six years after an in-depth computer forensics case, in which I testified for almost a full day about these events. I stand by my previous public testimony.”

    • Russian journalists find 50,000 court rulings between 2017 and 2018 that mostly duplicate previous convictions

      In a new report, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta studied 780,000 verdicts issued by Russian courts between 2017 and 2018, and found that 50,000 of these rulings were at least 80-percent copied from decisions previously issued by the same judges.

      Mostly copied verdicts are most common in rulings against defendants convicted of illegally acquiring and possessing narcotics. Of 136,000 such convictions, Novaya Gazeta’s study found nearly 25,500 verdicts (19 percent) that were largely copied from previous rulings. In terms of percentage, the most common copied verdicts were discovered in unpaid alimony cases (28.9 percent of 370 rulings) and draft dodging (26 percent of 294 rulings).

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • The Surprising Clue to Reducing Human-Elephant Conflict: Minerals

      The increasing human population and global intensification of agriculture have had a major impact on the world’s natural ecosystems. This, as we’ve seen, has had devastating effects for populations of mega-herbivores such as African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana).

      Elephants and other animals with vast home ranges have found themselves forced into increasingly smaller geographical areas, often restricted by fencing or other human activities. These smaller areas are then, in turn, under huge pressures to meet the animals’ nutritional needs. This can cause animals to alter their movement patterns and search for new sources of food, potentially causing human-elephant conflict.

      Due to their vast food consumption — as much as 600 pounds a day for an adult bull — and sometimes destructive behavior, African savanna elephants can rapidly cause significant damage to crops and vegetation and pose a risk to human life and infrastructure. When elephants and humans come into conflict like this, people may feel the need to retaliate. All too often in these conflicts, the elephant ultimately loses. Human-elephant conflict will only worsen in the coming years due to continued increase in the global human population to 9.7 billion by 2050, the associated growth of agriculture, and a predicted reduction of 200–300 million hectares of wildlife habitat worldwide.

      To understand more about these conflicts — and how to prevent them — my colleagues and I conducted a review of existing research to understand how nutritional needs dictate the movements and migrations of elephants and other large species. Our paper was published recently in Peer J.

    • England Could Run Out of Fresh Water in 25 Years

      England faces an “existential threat” if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country’s Environment Agency warned Tuesday.

      In a speech at the Waterwise Conference in London, the agency’s Chief Executive James Bevan explained that the twin pressures of climate change and population growth could cause England to run out of fresh water within 25 years. Bevan referred to the point at which demand would outstrip supply as the “jaws of death,” NBC News reported.

      “Self-evidently, avoiding something called the jaws of death is by and large the sensible thing to do. So how do we do that?” Bevan asked the crowd.

    • The Future of Climate Authoritarianism Is Now

      It was the kind of headline one might encounter in the science fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin or Kim Stanley Robinson. Last month, citing a new study from the British science journal Nature, Quanta Magazine’s Natalie Wolchover explored the possibility of human-caused global warming forging a world without stratocumulus clouds by the end of the century. This would raise the temperature of the planet an additional 8 degrees Celsius (14.4 F)—double the increase for which we’re currently on pace.

      “To imagine 12 degrees of warming,” Wolchover notes, “think of crocodiles swimming in the Arctic and of the scorched, mostly lifeless equatorial regions during [prehistoric times].”

      While the scenario outlined in Quanta and the greater threat of feedback loops remain purely hypothetical, for the time being, the age of climate chaos we have entered is all too real. By 2050, the U.N. projects that there will be as many as 200 million climate refugees across the globe. That number could climb to as high as 1 billion if we fail to take radical action to reduce carbon emissions. To put those numbers in perspective, the Syrian civil war that has so roiled the West had produced 5 million refugees as of 2016. As David Wallace-Wells observes in his haunting “The Uninhabitable Earth,” we are not witnessing a “new normal” but something far more terrifying: “That is, the end of normal; never normal again.”

    • Hear the Song of the Earth While You Still Can

      “You have to understand,” said Cherokee elder Stan Rushworth as he sat across the table from me at a downbeat Santa Fe breakfast joint last week. “All this,” he continued with a sweep of his arm that encompassed the café, the high-end boutique selling Native-themed knickknacks next door, the city, the state and indeed the entire country from sea to shining sea, “is occupied territory to us.”

      At Stan’s right arm sat my friend Hannah, an artist who moved to Santa Fe from New England 10 years ago. To Stan’s left was Truthout’s climate reporter Dahr Jamail, who was in town to deliver a lecture on anthropogenic climate disruption for the Lannan Foundation. Stan was there for Dahr. I was there to introduce Dahr at the beginning of the lecture and then get out of the way. Little did I realize how transformative the experience would be, beginning at that table over a plate of huevos rancheros and a cup of coffee.

      We were there together because of Dahr’s new book, an essential yet harrowing read titled “The End of Ice.” The lecture he would give that night detailed his long journey around the world to places where climate change is not an argument, but an indubitable, constantly evident fact. From the retreating glaciers of Denali to the methane bombs lurking beneath the permafrost just south of the Arctic Circle to the dying coral of the Great Barrier Reef and beyond, Dahr saw and touched and tasted the climate of this world even as it radically shifted before his eyes.

      The Amazon rainforest, the lungs of our planet, is disappearing at a rate of 1.5 acres per second. You can no longer get a 30-year mortgage in Miami because the ocean is coming, and that city’s freshwater aquifer is in mortal peril. The Great Barrier Reef will be a graveyard in as little as 10 years. These are but some of the things we learned that night in Santa Fe.

    • Rat Poison Linked to Several Deaths of San Francisco’s Iconic Parrots

      Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.

    • ‘They Have Lied for Decades’: European Parliament To Scrutinise Exxon’s Climate Science Denial

      With millions of students taking to the streets and oil majors increasingly facing litigation, the fossil fuel industry is finally being held to account for its contribution to the climate crisis.

      This week, the EU is taking this accountability up a notch, with ExxonMobil’s decades-long denial of climate science facing the scrutiny of MEPs and the public at a hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday.

      During the two-hour session, scientists, campaigners and a historian will examine the history of climate denial and in particular the misinformation spread by Exxon, with MEPs able to ask questions about the role and behaviour of the oil major.

    • Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact

      A report published today names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris Agreement’s adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.

      The top four banks that invested most heavily in fossil fuel projects are all based in the U.S., and include JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America. Royal Bank of Canada, Barclays in Europe, Japan’s MUFG, TD Bank, Scotiabank, and Mizuho make up the remainder of the top 10.

    • Reaching New Heights

      Mapping out hurricane evacuation routes and floodplains are just two cases in which it is critical to know accurate land heights. That’s because heights tell us which way water will flow. How we calculate heights based on mean sea level today is good, but it’s complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. But National Geodetic Survey experts are working to make it better, faster, and cheaper.

    • Early-Season Wildfire Threatens Homes, Buildings in Oregon

      An early-season wildfire near Lyons, Oregon burned 60 acres and forced dozens of homes to evacuate Tuesday evening, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) said, as KTVZ reported.

      The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.

    • Failing Students on Climate Change

      Last Friday hundreds of thousands of students around the globe walked out of classrooms to demand that our political leaders take concrete steps to address the deadly threat of climate change. They are right, of course, that the generations of their elders, from millennials to baby boomer grandparents, have failed in our responsibility to preserve a livable future for our ever more crowded, ever more polluted and ever more endangered planet.

      And while that’s a sad statement to make, it is an undeniable truth and a shameful guilt that should cause every one of the “elders” to think long and hard about whether they’re making the world better or worse for our young people.

      The movement, characterized by various identifiers such as #fridaysforfuture, #schoolstrike4climate and #climatestrike, is vast and growing. The strikes by young people staring an unlivable future in the face are now massive, but were inspired by a 16-year old Swede, Greta Thunberg, who has now been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. As Thunberg famously addressed the United Nations climate conference in Poland earlier this year: “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you’re stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”

      Truer words were never spoken. Just look at what these young people are up against. Here in the United States, the second-largest producer of greenhouse gasses in the world, we have a president who not only doesn’t believe 97 percent of the world’s scientists who acknowledge human-caused climate change, he demands that we exert “energy dominance” by drilling, fracking, pumping and burning more fossil fuels than any nation on the planet.

      For decades our citizens have been told it was necessary to exploit every manner of fossil fuel because our national security relied on “energy independence” from foreign sources. It was bogus then and it’s bogus now. Had we spent a fraction of what has gone into subsidizing fossil fuel production on renewable resources, we would have true national security with independent distributed energy from solar panels, tidal generators and wind power. Instead, we got massive coal-fired power plants hooked to vast electrical grids that are susceptible to interruption and destruction by even the most primitive of means, to say nothing of their vulnerability to the sophisticated hacking of utility computer systems.

    • Global Kids Strike

      Children’s crusades do not necessarily end well. During the years of armed missions to the Holy Land, when Jerusalem meant something to the sacredly inclined in Europe, children were encouraged to take to the rough and dangerous road as it wound its way towards Palestine. In 1212, a boy of 12 is said to have begun preaching at Saint-Denis in France. God had supposedly taken some time to communicate a pressing wish: Christian children were to head to the Holy Land and liberate it from the Infidel. How they would do so was not clear.

      They subsequently starved, suffered deprivation, were killed and enslaved on route to their destination. The modern student movement against climate change stresses another Jerusalem, that there will be nothing to salvage if nothing is done now. We are all, in short, for the chop if climate change is not arrested. As an Oakland high-schooler by the name of Bruke told Wired, “My GPA isn’t going to matter if I’m dead.” And much else besides.

      To such movements can also be added other acts of striking in peaceful protest. Tens of thousands of US students did so in 2018 swathed in the grief and despair of gun shootings, the most immediate being the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The National School Walkout of March 14 and the March for Our Lives ten days later had a biting clarity of purpose: students and staff were entitled to feel secure in the teaching and learning environment. The movement was characterised by much eloquence wreathed in anger and tears, not least of all Emma Gonzalez, who chided those political representatives “who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been ever done to prevent this”.

    • Oceanic carbon uptake could falter

      Scientists can now put a measure to the role of the waves as a climate shock absorber: they estimate that oceanic carbon uptake by the deep blue seas has consumed 34 billion tonnes of man-made carbon from the atmosphere between the years 1994 and 2007.

      This is just about 31% of all the carbon emitted in that time by car exhausts, power station chimneys, aircraft, ships, tractors and scorched forest, as human economies expand and ever more fossil fuel is consumed.

      This confident figure is based on a global survey of the chemistry and other physical properties of the ocean by scientists from seven nations on more than 50 research cruises, taking measurements of the ocean from the surface to a depth of six kilometres.

      The researchers report in the journal Science that they already had the results of a global carbon survey of the oceans conducted at the close of the last century, and had calculated that from the dawn of the Industrial Revolution – when humans started using coal, and then oil and gas – to 1994, the oceans had already absorbed 118 billion tonnes.

    • Coal Tax Cut Endangers Funds for Black Lung Treatmen

      Former coal miner John Robinson’s bills for black lung treatments run $4,000 a month, but the federal fund he depends on to help cover them is being drained of money because of inaction by Congress and the Trump administration.

      Amid the turmoil of the government shutdown this winter, a tax on coal that helps pay for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was cut sharply Jan. 1 and never restored, potentially saving coal operators hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

      With cash trickling into the fund at less than half its usual rate, budget officials estimate that by the middle of 2020 there won’t be enough money to fully cover the fund’s benefit payments.

      As a surge of black lung disease scars miners’ lungs at younger ages than ever, Robinson worries not only about cuts to his benefits, but that younger miners won’t get any coverage.

    • Study: Americans Are Happy to Let Wind Turbines Be Their Neighbors

      That’s the conclusion of a University of Delaware (UD) study published in Nature Energy Monday. UD Prof. Jeremy Firestone and undergraduate Hannah Kirk looked at data from a survey of people who lived within eight kilometers (approximately five miles) of a wind turbine. They found that around 90 percent of them preferred the wind turbine over an alternative plant located at a similar difference, whether it was fueled by coal, natural gas or uranium.

      Firestone said the study offered a more realistic gauge of American’s energy preferences.

      “We’ve looked at social acceptance of wind projects examining factors such as effect of landscape change, sound and place attachment. In those studies, the ultimate question is whether a community member supports or opposes a local project — that is, wind power or nothing,” he explained in a UD press release. “But that’s not the societal choice, which is instead, among wind power, solar, coal or natural gas. Even when residents might have less than positive attitudes toward a local project, the majority appear to conclude that their local wind power project is better than the alternatives.”

    • ‘The Trend Is Unmistakable’: New Analysis Shows Heat Records Broken Twice as Often as Cold Ones

      A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the United States have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts’ warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.

      The study was conducted by The Associated Press, which reviewed nearly a century’s worth of data and spoke with climatologists who confirmed the reporters’ conclusions about more frequent hot days and fewer cold ones align with scientific peer-reviewed findings. According to the experts, “the trend is unmistakable.”

      “We are in a period of sustained and significant warming,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt, “and—over the long run—will continue to explore and break the warm end of the spectrum much more than the cold end.”

    • Restoring Tropical Forests Isn’t Meaningful if Those Forests Only Stand for 10 or 20 Years

      Tropical forests globally are being lost at a rate of 61,000 square miles a year. And despite conservation efforts, the global rate of loss is accelerating. In 2016 it reached a 15-year high, with 114,000 square miles cleared.

      At the same time, many countries are pledging to restore large swaths of forests. The Bonn Challenge, a global initiative launched in 2011, calls for national commitments to restore 580,000 square miles of the world’s deforested and degraded land by 2020. In 2014 the New York Declaration on Forests increased this goal to 1.35 million square miles, an area about twice the size of Alaska, by 2030.

    • The Secret to Funding a Green New Deal

      As alarm bells sound over the advancing destruction of the environment, a variety of Green New Deal proposals have appeared in the U.S. and Europe, along with some interesting academic debates about how to fund them. Monetary policy, normally relegated to obscure academic tomes and bureaucratic meetings behind closed doors, has suddenly taken center stage.

      The 14-page proposal for a Green New Deal submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., does not actually mention Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), but that is the approach currently capturing the attention of the media—and taking most of the heat. The concept is good: Abundance can be ours without worrying about taxes or debt, at least until we hit full productive capacity. But, as with most theories, the devil is in the details.

      MMT advocates say the government does not need to collect taxes before it spends. It actually creates new money in the process of spending it; and there is plenty of room in the economy for public spending before demand outstrips supply, driving up prices.

      Critics, however, insist this is not true. The government is not allowed to spend before it has the money in its account, and the money must come from tax revenues or bond sales.

      In a 2013 treatise called “Modern Monetary Theory 101: A Reply to Critics,” MMT academics concede this point. But they write, “These constraints do not change the end result.” And here the argument gets a bit technical. Their reasoning is that “the Fed is the monopoly supplier of CB currency [central bank reserves], Treasury spends by using CB currency, and since the Treasury obtained CB currency by taxing and issuing treasuries, CB currency must be injected before taxes and bond offerings can occur.”

    • Flooding of Nebraska Air Force Base Illustrates Security Risk Posed by Climate Change

      The historic flooding that devastated Nebraska last week has also submerged one third of an Air Force base, offering a further illustration of the threat posed to national security by climate change.

    • Nebraska flooding shows (again) how extreme weather can threaten national security

      A massive winter storm created a “bomb cyclone” over parts of the country last week, and dumped snow and rain on Nebraska. Rain slicked off frozen ground, snow melted, and ice thawed on rivers — kicking off devastating floods that killed at least two people in the state and destroyed hundreds of homes. “This was a monster, no question about it,” Greg Carbin at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center told the Omaha World-Herald.

    • Orangutan shot 74 times goes blind while her baby starves to death

      Rescue workers in Aceh, Indonesia, found Hope with dozens of bullets in her body and her one-month-old infant was by her side, malnourished and dehydrated

    • US Government Knew Climate Risks in 1970s, National Petroleum Council Documents Show

      A series of newly discovered documents clarify the extent to which the U.S. government, its advisory committees and the fossil fuel industry have understood for decades the impact carbon dioxide emissions would have on the planet.

      The documents obtained by Climate Liability News show how much the National Petroleum Council (NPC), an oil and natural gas advisory committee to the Secretary of Energy, knew about climate change as far back as the 1970s. A series of reports illuminate the findings of government-contracted research that outlined the dangers associated with increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    • Climate Change: Now Will the Older Generation Step Up?

      On Friday, the youth spoke. And they spoke loudly. In excess of a million young people skipped school and colleges and marched around the globe demanding urgent action on climate change. They did so in over a hundred countries.
      Listening to one young activist about why their generation cares so much about climate change, they replied: “it is the urgency of the problem. It is our future at stake.”
      So will the older generation quicken the fight against climate change in response to Friday’s climate strike? You would hope so. In response to Friday, António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, wrote: “My generation has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change. This is deeply felt by young people. No wonder they are angry.”
      He added: “These schoolchildren have grasped something that seems to elude many of their elders: we are in a race for our lives, and we are losing. The window of opportunity is closing – we no longer have the luxury of time, and climate delay is almost as dangerous as climate denial.”
      Guterres is right to say we are losing the battle, but the fight is not yet over. The status quo can change. It does not have to be this way. There are already millions of people who are committed to climate action, who every day, either professionally or personally make a difference in fighting climate change. But collectively, the pace is glacial and not near fast enough as the science demands.

    • Transformative Climate Action Is Possible—If Polluters Stay Away

      Last year was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in “the number of Americans who say they worry ‘a great deal’ about climate change.”

      That was before the release of two reports in the fall by scientists commissioned by the United Nations and the U.S. federal government. Both reports painted a dire picture of the coming climate catastrophe and a clear timeline. They warned that if we don’t take drastic action to cut emissions globally, we will face global catastrophic effects of climate change. According to the U.N., we have about a decade. That’s no time at all.

  • Finance
    • The Green New Deal: A Strategy for a More Equal United States

      The Green New Deal often gets portrayed as simply a program for climate protection. But the Green New Deal — as proposed in a new congressional resolution from Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey — stands just as boldly as a strategy to counter America’s grotesque and growing inequality. The resolution they’ve introduced calls for “a new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal era.”

      Such a mobilization, notes their resolution, provides “a historic opportunity to create millions of good, high-wage jobs, virtually eliminate poverty in the United States, provide unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security for all U.S. persons, and counteract systemic injustices.”

      The Green New Deal resolution outlines a vision of what we need to do to address the dual crises of climate change and runaway inequality. What policies and programs could help us realize that vision? My recent Labor Network for Sustainability discussion paper — Eighteen Strategies for a Green New Deal: How to Make Climate Mobilization Work — lays out a comprehensive strategic framework that draws on the experience of the original New Deal and the homefront mobilization for World War II. This framework envisions a Green New Deal active on a variety of fronts.

      The Green New Deal will use the powers of government to rectify past and present injustices. Green New Deal jobs protecting the climate will be available to those individuals and groups who’ve been denied equal access to good jobs, with job recruitment programs that include strong racial, gender, age, and locational affirmative action to counter our current employment inequalities.

      Green New Deal programs will also require standards for local hiring and minority business enterprises and provide job ladders within and across employers so those who currently face only dead-end jobs won’t face only dead-end jobs in the climate-protection economy.

      Green New Deal projects will remedy the concentration of pollution in marginalized and low-income communities and counter the deprivation of transportation, education, health, and other facilities in poor neighborhoods.

      The Green New Deal will ensure full employment. The original New Deal used the tools of what came to be known as macroeconomic or Keynesian economic policy to steer the economy as a whole. That New Deal employed budget deficits and other fiscal policies as well as low interest rates and other monetary policies to fight unemployment.

    • Trillion Dollar Wall Street Bailouts, Bernie Sanders, and the Washington Post

      Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post Fact Checker gave Bernie Sanders two Pinocchios yesterday for saying that the Wall Street banks got a trillion dollar bailout. Kessler raises several points of contention. First, whether the Wall Street banks actually got that much money. Second, whether it can really be called a bailout, since the government made a profit on the loans. Third, that the bailout was necessary to keep the financial system running.

      Taking these in turn, Kessler points out that the money that went from the TARP to the Wall Street banks, the congressionally approved bailout, was in the low hundreds of billions, far less than $1 trillion. He does note that a much larger amount of loans went from the Federal Reserve Board to the banks, however the piece points out both that the Fed is nominally independent of the government and that many of these loans were short-term, so that rolling them over would count twice. (If a bank got overnight loans for $1 billion for a week, this would count as $7 billion.)

      Sanders seems on pretty solid ground here when including the Fed loans. First, the reason the Fed has the power it does is because it is the central bank of the United States. It is true, that when it was established in 1913 it was set up as a mixed public-private entity, with the banks having a direct voice in setting policy. However, its ability to print an essentially unlimited amount of money is due to the fact that it is the central bank of the United States. All the other major central banks (e.g. the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, The Bank of Japan) are fully public institutions. The fact that the United States allows private banks to have a voice in setting Fed policy doesn’t really change the fact that it is a government institution and therefore loans from the Fed should be seen as coming from the government.

    • Trump Budget Ends Medicaid Expansion, Axes Affordable Housing Programs

      On Monday, the Trump administration released full details of its 2020 budget request, the general outlines of which were released last week. The initial release called for cuts to nearly every federal agency, with deep cuts to the State Department, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and others. Only the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs would receive substantial increases.

      With this week’s release, the administration provided a fuller picture of its anti-government, pro-military vision for the U.S. The long list of cuts targets programs for the poor, middle-income Americans, the environment and peacekeeping.

    • UNESCO Report Shows World’s Most Vulnerable and Poor Paying More Than Rich for Clean Water

      The 2019 edition of the World Water Development Report, entitled Leaving No One Behind, was published Tuesday by UNESCO. (Graphic: UNESCO)

      Globally, those who are poor or marginalized because of their identities pay far more than the rich to acquire clean water.

      That’s according to the new World Water Development Report (WWDR 2019), which is published annually by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s World Water Assessment Program (UNESCO-WWAP). This year’s report, entitled Leaving No One Behind, was unveiled Tuesday at an ongoing session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

      Access to safe, affordable, and reliable drinking water and sanitation facilities such as toilets and showers are internationally recognized human rights.

      But as the report lays out (pdf), “billions are being left behind” in their access to both, often due to factors such as gender, age, poverty, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities, religion, socio-economic class, and geographic location.

    • Ukania’s Great Privatization Heist

      Margaret Thatcher was very good at telling tall tales. Ukania’s tragedy is that far too many Brits fell for these tales.

      Probably the biggest of these tales concerned the notion of a share-owning democracy.

      The idea here was simple, but utterly misguided – sell off the publicly-owned enterprises, and everyone will be able to buy shares in the newly privatized companies. By buying however many shares you want, you will become a part of Thatcher’s great British share-owning democracy.

      Many of us knew at that time that it was never going to be like this at all. As Marx noted, the stock exchange, where the shares of the newly privatized companies would of course be traded, is “where the little fish are swallowed by the sharks and the lambs by the stock-exchange wolves”.

      The wealthy have always used their resources to acquire a monopoly on company shares. So when the public enterprises were put on sale at rock-bottom prices by Thatcher and her cronies, the wealthy rushed to collar the majority of the share offerings, the ensuing demand drove-up the price of the shares, and in so doing put nearly all of them beyond the reach of Joe and Jill Normal.

      So what actually happened to the “great British share-owning democracy”?

    • With Help of Democrats, Regulators Move to Gut ‘Last Line of Defense’ Against Wall Street Gambling

      “At issue is the supplementary leverage rule, which was adopted in the aftermath of the 2008 collapse as a last line of defense against financial excess,” HuffPost’s Zach Carter reported Tuesday. “Four out of five top officials at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission want the Fed to lower leverage requirements by changing the way the officials treat derivatives.”

      Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee and a banking regulation expert, condemned the plan to gut post-crisis protections as “another example of Trump regulators listening to Wall Street’s wish list.”

      “Between this, the banking deregulation bill passed last year, and other changes proposed by the Fed and [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency],” Porter added, “we can expect Too Big to Fail banks to get riskier and have less of a cushion to guard taxpayers from bailouts.”

      The plan to weaken post-crisis leverage requirements on the nation’s six largest banks—backed by Schumer appointees Rostin Behnam and Dan Berkovitz—was presented to the Fed last month, according to HuffPost.

      Gregg Gelzinis, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress told HuffPost that the proposal would “only increase the likelihood of another crash.”

    • “Say It Ain’t So, Joe:” the Latest Neoliberal from the War and Wall Street Party

      Like an annoying rash that could become dangerous, the Wall Street and war wing of the Democratic Party is back for yet another reprise in its run in the 2020 presidential primary and election. Think these representatives of wealth and war and power went away with the mid-evening swing toward doom of the New York Times polls on election night 2016? Think again… Hillary Clinton has been supplanted by Joe Biden. Power and wealth will not give up because those forces have an almost psychopathic hold on a wing of the Democratic Party, like an out-of-control vehicle careening to certain doom down a mountainside.

      In the 1970s, Biden was a fierce opponent of school busing toward the end of eliminating segregation in schools (”As Joe Biden Hints at presidential Run, Andrew Cockburn Looks at His ‘Disastrous Legislative Legacy,’” Democracy Now, March 13, 2019).

      During the 1980s and 1990s, Biden became a law and order legislator, teaming up with none other than Strom Thurmond and Bill Clinton to put people away and fueling the epidemic of mass jailing. Readers know the result that those “crime” fighting sprees had on the black community.

      Then, during the confirmation process of Clarence Thomas, Biden refused to call witnesses that would have supported Anita Hill’s testimony about Thomas.

    • The Real College Admissions Scandal

      In what’s being called the largest college admissions scam ever, a number of wealthy parents, celebrities, and college prep coaches have been accused of offering large bribes to get rich students into Ivy League schools, regardless of their credentials.

      The parents facing charges allegedly paid up to $6.5 million to get their kids into college.

      Shocking as it is, this is hardly a new phenomenon in higher education. Wealthy and privileged students have always had an upper hand in being accepted to prestigious universities.

      They’re called “legacy preferences.”

      “Many U.S. colleges admit ‘legacies,’ or students with a family connection to the university, at dramatically higher rates than other applicants,” The Guardian explains, because “they are widely seen as a reliable source of alumni donations.”

      Some of our countries most prominent figures have benefited from legacy preferences. When applying to Harvard, future president John F. Kennedy noted that his father was an alumnus. And although his academic record was unspectacular, he was admitted into the Ivy League school.

    • Calls for Breaking Up Tech Giants Grow Louder After EU Hits Google With $1.7 Billion Antitrust Fine

      “Google is dominant when it comes to online advertising brokerage market, with market shares in Europe of above 70 percent,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner for competition. “Google abused its dominance to stop websites using brokers other than the AdSense platform.”

      Former New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout celebrated the penalty. “Europe is cracking down on Google’s corrupt business model,” she tweeted. “The abuse of power is real. But the tide has changed.”

      “The U.S. should act too,” Teachout said, pointing to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) plan to break up tech giants. While unveiling her plan this month, the senator and 2020 presidential candidate charged that companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook have “ too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy.”

      In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute, concurred with Teachout and Warren. “Breaking up big tech isn’t the only solution,” he said, “but it’s the necessary first step to actually addressing the problem of big tech.”

    • May Asks for Delay of Brexit Until June 30

      France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has set three criteria that Britain must meet if British Prime Minister Theresa May is to be granted a Brexit extension.

      Speaking at the National Assembly ahead of the meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday where May’s request for an extension to the country’s departure date from March 29 to June 30 will be discussed, Le Drian warned that the country would likely crash out of the bloc without a deal if the conditions are not met.

      He said that the May must convince leaders that “the purpose of the delay is to finalize the ratification of the deal already negotiated” and that the deal agreed last November “won’t be renegotiated.”

      He also said that the short delay request has to be conditioned on the U.K. not participating in the European parliamentary elections from May 23-26.

    • 68% Want to Hike Taxes on the Rich to Help the Poor, Survey of 21 OECD Nations Shows

      A large majority of residents in the world’s leading capitalist nations responded with a resounding “yes” to a survey asking whether they support hiking taxes on the rich to fund social programs for the poor.

      Most residents in all 21 countries included in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) survey published Tuesday said their governments should “tax the rich more than they currently do in order to support the poor.”

      In the United States, over 50 percent of those polled said they support hiking taxes on the wealthy to help the poor. Average support for the idea among all 22,000 people surveyed was at 68 percent.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Democrat Beto O’Rourke raises $6.1 million during first 24 hours as a 2020 presidential candidate

      Beto O’Rourke raised $6.1 million during his first 24 hours as a presidential candidate, his campaign said Monday, in what amounts to be the largest initial fundraising haul of any 2020 Democratic contender who has disclosed their figures to date.

      The former Texas congressman took in $6,136,763 in online contributions from all 50 states within the day after announcing his White House bid, according to his campaign. O’Rourke did not, however, reveal how many individual donors contributed to his campaign or their average donation. Still, his initial fundraising haul surpasses the $5.9 million one-day total Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont raised last month after announcing his campaign, with donations averaging just $27 — a figure mirroring the average donation size he repeatedly touted in his first bid for the White House in 2016. The other closest 2020 Democratic contender to disclose his or her complete first-day fundraising total was Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who raked in $1.5 million from 38,000 donors in 24 hours — the average online contribution was $37 — a number that, at the time, raised eyebrows.

      “In just 24 hours, Americans across this country came together to prove that it is possible to run a true grassroots campaign for president — a campaign by all of us, for all of us, that answers not to the PACs, corporations and special interests but to the people,” O’Rourke, who has ruled out PAC donations of any kind, said in a statement announcing the total.

    • Rep. Devin Nunes Sues Internet Cow For Saying Mean Things About Him Online

      Last year, Devin Nunes co-sponsored the Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act. Twelve days ago, he voted for a House Amendment “to express a sense of Congress that free speech should be protected.”

      And yesterday, he sued an internet cow for making fun of him.

      By now you may have heard, as first reported by Fox News, that Rep. Devin Nunes — who spent two years making a total mockery of the House Intelligence Committee — has decided to sue Twitter and some satire accounts, and a real political commentator for a variety of “offenses” from defamation to shadow banning. The complaint, filed in a local court in Virginia, is not yet available anywhere but Fox News’ posting of it (so you can click the link above, but we can’t embed it yet).

      Let’s just get the first part out of the way: the complaint is utter nonsense. It is a complete joke. It makes a total mockery of the judicial system and its an embarrassment that Nunes thought this was a good idea. We’ll get into the details in a moment, but rest assured, we see a lot of really dumb lawsuits, and this one is up there on the list of truly special ones.

    • After three decades, Nazarbayev is quitting Kazakhstan’s presidency, but the ‘national leader’ will retain enormous influence

      On March 19, Nursultan Nazarbayev addressed the nation of Kazakhstan and announced that he is stepping down as president — a title he’s held since 1990. “As the founder of the independent Kazakhstani state, I see my future task as ensuring that a new generation comes to power that will continue the country’s ongoing transformation,” Nazarbayev said.

      The new head of state is Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the speaker of the Senate and a professional diplomat who headed the Foreign Ministry from 1994 to 1999 and again from 2002 to 2007, before serving as U.N. deputy secretary general from 2011 to 2013. According to Kazakhstan’s Constitution, Tokayev will take over Nazarbayev’s current term, serving until the next scheduled elections in the spring of 2020. The only formal limit Tokayev faces on his normal presidential powers is that he cannot initiate constitutional amendments before he is elected.

    • The Military-Industrial Complex: Trump’s Ties to Boeing in Spotlight Amid Probes of 737 MAX 8 Jets

      The Trump administration’s close ties to Boeing are facing new scrutiny in the wake of deadly plane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia involving the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet. President Trump has publicly praised Boeing hundreds of times in his two years in office and participated in efforts to sell its planes, including the 737 MAX series, to countries and airlines around the world. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg praised Trump’s support at a dinner last August at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who was appointed by Trump, spent 31 years as a Boeing executive. And Trump’s former U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, has been nominated to the Boeing board of directors. We speak to William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. His recent piece in The Nation is titled “A Former Boeing Executive Is Now Running the Pentagon.”

    • Fulfilling Vow to Run 2020 Campaign Differently, Sanders Campaign Claims 70% of Top Leadership Now Women

      Facing previous criticism that his campaign team during his 2016 presidential run was “too white” and “too male,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) received praise on Tuesday after it was reported his campaign has hired a diverse slate of high-caliber women for key posts on his 2020 leadership team.

      As journalist Natalie Gontcharova of Refinery29 was the first to report, the Sanders campaign now claims that “every single one of its teams — management, political, policy, organizing, communications, advance, digital, and fundraising — has women, and predominantly women of color, in leadership positions. Overall, the national leadership team is around 70% women.”

    • What does 30 years in power look like? Follow Kazakhstan’s outgoing president from the Soviet Communist Party Congress to his handshake with Donald Trump
    • Everyone Must Condemn Trump’s Sly Encouragement of Lawless Violence

      Racism is not natural. Babies — black, brown, white — explore the world and each other with wonder, not hate. Racism has to be taught. It is learned behavior. To assume that a person is inherently superior or inferior to another based upon race is unnatural and ungodly. Racism is used for political manipulation and economic exploitation. In a land founded on the belief that all men are created equal, slavery could not be justified without a racism that depicted slaves as sub-human.

      These basic truths need restating in this terrible time. Across the world, we see the rise of racism, anti-Semitism and islamophobia, and its violent expression. Parishioners in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, are gunned down; worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue are attacked and killed. Now the murders in the mosques in New Zealand. Christians, Jews and Muslims must now stand as one and resist the rise of hate, and the hate-filled propaganda that feeds it.

      In this, Donald Trump can no longer duck responsibility. When an American president speaks, the world listens. When Barack Obama was elected, it sent hope across the world. Blacks were elected to parliaments for the first time across Europe. Some hoped a new era of peace and reconciliation might begin.

      Yet his election incited a harsh reaction as well, a new trafficking in hate, fear and violence. Donald Trump used his celebrity to claim that Obama was illegitimate, literally un-American. He had relished spreading racial fears before. When five young men were falsely arrested in New York City, Trump took out newspaper ads calling for the death penalty, inciting fear of young African-American males. When DNA testing proved their innocence, Trump simply denied the truth. His campaign for president was stained by his race-bait politics: slurring immigrants as rapists and murderers, promising to ban Muslims, denouncing a judge of Mexican descent, born in Indiana, as too biased to rule on the case involving students defrauded by Trump University.

      As president, Trump has used his position to continue to foster hatred and racial division: the Muslim ban, the “wall” and the continued slander of immigrants, African nations as “s–thole countries.” In Charlottesville, he equated Nazis marching through the streets with tiki torches, chanting “Jews will not replace us,” with those protesting Nazism and racism; “good people,” he said, on “both sides.”

      He’s also fanned the flames of violence. He told his followers at a campaign rally in 2016 that if they beat up a young protester, he’d pay their legal fees. He talked about “Second Amendment people” — gun owners presumably — taking care of liberal judges or of Hillary Clinton, if she appointed them. He encouraged police officers to rough up suspects.

      Now, as he appears more and more unhinged, he did an interview with the right-wing Breitbart news in which he suggested that his people “play it tougher,” intimating that if he didn’t get his way, brown shirt violence might follow: “I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

    • Alabama Prisoners Associated With Anti-Violence Program Put In Solitary, Launch Hunger Strike

      Eight Alabama prisoners have followed in the footsteps of incarcerated activist Robert Earl Council by initiating a hunger strike, arguing they, like Council, were arbitrarily placed in solitary confinement.

      Council, who has organized with other prisoners for years with the Free Alabama Movement, ended his hunger strike on March 14 after refusing food and liquids for one week. He was assured by Commissioner Jeffrey Dunn that he would be moved to general population.

      According to Unheard Voices OTCJ, which is supporting these prisoners, they were part of a group of 30 men, who were awoken at 2:00 in the morning on February 28 and found they would be transferred hundreds of miles away to the Holman Correctional Facility.

      At Holman, the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) placed 22 of the men in general population and sent eight to solitary confinement without initiating any disciplinary action or notifying them about any rules violations.

      Unheard Voices received a statement from the hunger strikers announcing their action would begin at 12:01 AM on March 18 “in protest of being held in solitary without just cause.” They said their “loved ones and community members are mobilizing outside support, and more folks are expected to join the strike.”

    • ‘McConnell Is Afraid of Democracy’: Progressives Push Senate Majority Leader to Stop Blocking Vote on HR1

      Progressives are ramping up their pressure campaign against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in an effort to force a vote on the “For the People Act” when Congress returns from recess.

      The bill, also known as H.R. 1, passed the Democratic House earlier this month without support from a single Republican. In a move that outraged pro-democracy organizations, McConnell vowed to stop the bill from getting a vote in the Senate.

      Asked why he is blocking the legislation, McConnell said, “Because I get to decide what we vote on.”

    • ‘A Poll Tax By Any Other Name’: Florida GOP Undermines Newly-Restored Voting Rights For 1.4 Million People

      Civil rights advocates Tuesday slammed Republicans in Florida for passing a bill that would severely undermine a law approved by voters last year that restored voting rights to residents with felony convictions.

      Four months ago, Florida voters passed Amendment 4 in a state referendum to allow many of the state’s former felons to vote. But on Tuesday, the Republican-controlled House Criminal Justice Subcommittee passed CRJ 3 in a party-line vote.

      While the passage of Amendment 4 was celebrated by voting rights advocates nationwide, the new GOP measure would undermine the hard won victory by requiring former felons to pay all court fees in order to have their right to vote granted.

      Critics including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Public Citizen denounced CRJ 3 as a poll tax.

    • Bernie Sanders Makes the Case for His Electability

      On the trail, Sanders is quick to note that some of his policy ideas have moved from the fringe to the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

    • Meet the Press Chuck Todd and the Boeing Blackout

      That crash has not been mentioned once on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd in the twenty episodes since.

      On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, crashed after taking off from Addis Ababa killing all 157 passengers and crew on board.

      That crash has not been mentioned once on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd in the two episodes since.

      Two Boeing plane crashes, 346 people dead and no mention on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

      And it’s not as if Meet the Press with Chuck Todd doesn’t do disasters. They do. For example, on the March 17, 2019 episode of Meet the Press, the March 15 Christchurch, New Zealand massacre, which killed 50, was a major topic of conversation throughout the show.

      What might explain this discrepancy?

      Boeing is at the center of both crashes and is now under criminal investigation.

    • Special Counsel Zeroed In on Cohen Early, Documents Show

      Hundreds of pages of court records made public Tuesday revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller quickly zeroed in on Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, in the early stages of his Russia probe.

      The heavily blacked-out records, released by a judge at the request of news organizations, show that Mueller was investigating Cohen by July 2017 — much earlier than previously known.

      That was two months after Mueller was appointed to investigate Moscow’s election interference and practically a year before an FBI raid on Cohen’s home and office.

      The full scope of Mueller’s interest in Cohen is not clear from the documents, which include search warrant applications and other records. More extensive files from the special counsel investigation remain under seal in Washington.

      But the documents made public Tuesday show that Mueller’s investigators early on began looking into possible misrepresentations Cohen made to banks to shore up his financially troubled taxi business.

    • Jailed Birds of a Feather May Sing Together

      From childhood we learn that you can know somebody by his or her company. Our present president, Donald Trump, values loyalty. He favors people who like what he likes and who think like him. For his closest helpers, he has chosen people who have appeared devoted (or related) to him and who have endorsed goals he has championed. Many, however, have landed in jail and more may be on the way to the same destination, including even the man for whom they were backers or fixers.

      Now in the third year of the Trump presidency, we can tote up some of the results. Many of Trump’s cabinet picks have been accused of serious ethical breaches such as using government planes for private entertainment ventures. It now appears that the current EPA administrator, then lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, consulted secretly with then Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in 2017 on omitting areas rich in coal and uranium (plus sacred Native American sites and unique dinosaur fossils) from the redrawn borders of two national monuments in Utah.

      Whether those whom Trump gave major jobs were actually competent for their assigned task seems to have been irrelevant. The only apparent rationale for choosing a brain surgeon to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development was that he had lived in one or more homes. As HUD secretary, Dr. Ben Carson has done little except to sign off on some expensive office furniture allegedly ordered by his wife. On the other hand, some appointees do know their assigned domain, if only from the perspective of an industrial owner or lobbyist. The ex-governor of carbon-rich Texas, Rick Perry, was notorious for vowing to demolish the Department of Energy even before Trump asked him to head it.

    • Trade Bill – Green win protects current standards

      The government are due to amend the Trade Bill today to protect existing standards for animal welfare, workers rights and the environment in future trade agreements. They have submitted a slightly tweaked version of the amendment put forward by Green Party Baroness Jones.

      Jenny Jones’ amendment on the Trade Bill was debated two weeks ago and she received a lot of cross party support from Labour. She has also met the Minister to discuss it. It contains the current protections for the standards we have. But the Government had seemed reluctant to accept it, even though the Prime Minister had committed herself to not weakening existing standards in future trade agreements. At the moment it would be possible for Ministers to use statutory instruments to change the rules on this, but this amendment would guarantee these minimum standards were kept for rolling over all the trade deals that we currently have as a result of EU membership.

    • Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: Requiem for a Fictional Party

      Do you remember the Democrats, dearest motherfuckers? Not the neoliberal, gutter capitalist, Clintonista kind or even Bernie’s brand of drone-strike socialists, but the peace loving hippie kind. The doves who tried to end the Cold War and marched against the draft and stuck flowers in the barrels of National Guard rifles. The liberal lions who took on the war machine, who made love not war, who couldn’t hug their children with nuclear arms, and braved the perils of grassy knolls and brainwashed Arabs to bring just one ounce of sanity to Capitol Hill. Sure they were corny and preachy and a little grabby in cocktail party coatrooms but they had character and cojones and conviction. What ever happened to those liberals, before their bleeding hearts were eaten whole by those nasty neos? Where have all the flowers gone? Tell me, dearest motherfuckers, do you remember the Democrats?

      Yeah, me neither, and here comes another one of my famously merciless reality checks. With the exception of few fantastic McGovern hiccups, they never actually fucking existed. The Democrats have always been a war party, even back when the Republicans were still Lindbergh worshiping isolationists. Don’t get me wrong, the Dems were always big on that Feed the World-style, Kumbaya charity shit, but there chief staple was usually more white phosphorous than whole grain granola. Both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam; all started by Democrats. Even the Republican crusades in the Persian Gulf initially passed with broad Democratic support and lingered into holocausts with broad Democratic indifference. Much like the Republicans relationship with putting America first, the Democrats only get in touch with their hippie-dippie side when it serves their partisan needs, with Yemen as your latest rule-proving exception.

    • 16 Years After US Invaded Iraq, Anti-War Groups Demand No Regime Change in Venezuela

      Anti-war voices are marking the 16th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with a demand the U.S. government not take a page out of the same playbook and unleash similar catastrophe and carnage in Venezuela.

      “Thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives because of a war entered into under false pretenses,” said Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, in a statement. “Surveying the foreign policy challenges of the present, from Iran, to North Korea, to Venezuela, we must not repeat the mistakes of the past. Regime change has a disastrous track record.”

      Codepink also marked the anniversary of when the U.S. “illegally, immorally, and unconstitutionally invaded Iraq.”

      “We can’t do the same to Venezuela!” the organization said.

      The U.S. is backing self-declared interim president Juan Guaido and imposing economic sanctions. The Trump administration has also warned that “all options are on the table” in terms of Venezuela.

    • Why Did Bush Go to War in Iraq? The Answer Is More Sinister Than You Think

      Sixteen years after the United States invaded Iraq and left a trail of destruction and chaos in the country and the region, one aspect of the war remains criminally underexamined: why was it fought in the first place? What did the Bush administration hope to get out of the war?

      The official, and widely-accepted, story remains that Washington was motivated by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme. His nuclear capabilities, especially, were deemed sufficiently alarming to incite the war. As then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “We do not want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

      Despite Saddam not having an active WMD programme, this explanation has found support among some International Relations scholars, who say that while the Bush administration was wrong about Saddam’s WMD capabilities, it was sincerely wrong. Intelligence is a complicated, murky enterprise, the argument goes, and given the foreboding shadow of the 9/11 attacks, the US government reasonably, if tragically, misread the evidence on the dangers Saddam posed.

      There is a major problem with this thesis: there is no evidence for it, beyond the words of the Bush officials themselves. And since we know the administration was engaged in a widespread campaign of deception and propaganda in the run-up to the Iraq war, there is little reason to believe them.

      My investigation into the causes of the war finds that it had little to do with fear of WMDs – or other purported goals, such as a desire to “spread democracy” or satisfy the oil or Israel lobbies. Rather, the Bush administration invaded Iraq for its demonstration effect.

      A quick and decisive victory in the heart of the Arab world would send a message to all countries, especially to recalcitrant regimes such as Syria, Libya, Iran, or North Korea, that American hegemony was here to stay. Put simply, the Iraq war was motivated by a desire to (re)establish American standing as the world’s leading power.

      Indeed, even before 9/11, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld saw Iraq through the prism of status and reputation, variously arguing in February and July 2001 that ousting Saddam would “enhance US credibility and influence throughout the region” and “demonstrate what US policy is all about”.

    • Why is the Kremlin replacing multiple regional governors right before Russia’s fall elections?

      On March 19 and 20, three Russian regional leaders all handed in their resignations. Even more regional government heads are expected to join their colleagues from Chelyabinsk Oblast, Kalmykia, and the Altai Republic and resign in the coming weeks. Russian political experts argue that this series of resignations stems from high disapproval ratings among certain regional governors and conflicts in the Russian provinces that may cause difficulties for the Kremlin in September’s nationwide elections.

      The “bundled” resignations that are a staple of pre-election season in Russia have begun in earnest: Chelyabinsk Oblast’s Governor Boris Dubrovsky, Kalmyk government head Alexey Orlov, and Altai Republic leader Alexander Perdnikov have all tendered their resignations. Russian media sources also reported that Governor Marina Kovtun of Murmansk Oblast has already drafted an announcement in preparation for leaving her post, while Orenburg Oblast’s Governor Yury Berg denied that he would also resign. That list of names may grow in the coming days.

    • Time for the Electoral College to die: Can the popular-vote compact save America?

      For many years, I was a relatively strong believer in the wisdom of the Electoral College as our method of choosing a president. Foolishly, I thought the intent of the Constitution’s framers was a smart one — specifically Alexander Hamilton’s express intent to build a procedural roadblock in the path of would-be villains and populists.

      In fact, Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68 that the Electoral College was intended to obstruct presidential candidates with “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity,” a pair of traits that ought to sound familiar to anyone who followed Donald Trump’s despotic rise to power.

      Of course the Electoral College has never functioned as intened at any point in American history. It utterly failed to live up to this mandate in 2016, allowing Trump to ooze through the cracks despite his obvious treachery and criminality — and despite the fact that he lost the national popular vote by nearly three million.

      In the face of history and our founding documents, the Electoral College was yet again revealed to be nothing more than a pointless technicality — a turnkey rather than a last line of defense against Trump and his “talents for low intrigue.” Consequently, I’ve changed my mind. It’s time for the Electoral College to die, and a growing list of states are busily plunging knives into its back.

      The latest state to join the process of killing the Electoral College is Delaware, where the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact passed the state legislature and is on its way to the governor’s desk.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Sen. Josh Hawley is making the conservative case against Facebook

      After years of escalating scandals, Congress is looking for ways to crack down on the size and power of tech companies like Facebook and Google. On the Democratic side, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has taken the lead by calling for new antitrust regulations that would break up the companies and usher in a new era of anti-monopoly action. Republican concerns have been harder to pin down, often veering off into deplatforming conspiracies or conflicting theories of free speech, but no less aggressive.

      Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, has emerged as a surprising Republican voice on those issues. The youngest working lawmaker in the Senate, Hawley has taken a lead on the ongoing investigations into Facebook, joining with Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in February for a letter probing the company’s teen data collection practices, and penning legislation with Democrats that would extend more rigorous privacy protections for children. He’s also been outspoken in calling for changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, often seen as the central legal protection for online platforms.

      On February 28th, The Verge sat down with Sen. Hawley at his temporary office on Capitol Hill. Hawley and his staff currently work in the basement of the Dirksen office building with other junior senators as they await a more permanent place to set up shop. Despite the temporary nature of the office, Hawley was surrounded by reminders of his home state, including a map of Missouri and its state flag.

    • Facebook blocked Trump’s social media director because they thought he was a bot

      Trump White House social media director Dan Scavino got a personal apology from Facebook, after some features on his account were blocked for a few hours on Monday. The social media firm says its automated systems identified his activity as likely being that of a bot.

    • Facebook apologizes after mistaking Trump social media director for a bot

      In a statement issued soon after the president’s tweet, a Facebook spokesperson explained, “In order to stop automated bots, we cap the amount of identical, repetitive activity coming from one account in a short period of time, such as @mentioning people. These limits can have the unintended consequence of temporarily preventing real people like Dan Scavino from engaging in such activity, but lift in an hour or two, which is what happened in this case.”

    • ECHR Judgement: Høiness v. Norway

      The domestic courts’ refusal to impose liability on an Internet forum
      for anonymously posted comments was not in breach of Article 8

      In today’s Chamber judgment1in the case of Høiness v. Norway (application no. 43624/14) the
      European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

      no violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human
      Rights.

      The case concerned the domestic courts’ refusal to impose civil liability on an Internet forum host
      after vulgar comments about Ms Høiness had been posted on the forum.

      The Court found in particular that the national courts had acted within their discretion (“margin of
      appreciation”) when seeking to establish a balance between Ms Høiness’s rights under Article 8 and
      the opposing right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the news portal and host of the
      debate forums. Moreover, the domestic court

    • ‘Russia Today’ staff face 5-million-ruble penalties if they criticize the network on social media

      The autonomous nonprofit organization “TV-Novosti,” which technically owns the Russia Today television network, reportedly requires staff to sign strict non-disclosure agreements that prohibit reporters, camera operators, and other employees from discussing anything happening at RT with outsiders or criticizing the network in interviews or on social media. According to documents obtained by the website Znak.com, these NDAs remain in force not only while staff are employed at RT, but also for 20 years afterwards. Offenders can be forced to pay RT five million rubles (more than $77,670) in compensation. The agreements bear the signature of TV-Novosti CEO Alexey Nikolov.

      The non-disclosure agreements describe confidential information as anything pertaining to TV-Novosti in terms of “production, technical aspects, finances, managerial hierarchy, or otherwise.” This applies to the organization’s internal structure, performance indicators, how the organization and staff operate, and its work style and methods, including any information learned at workshops or about partners. Staff are also prohibited from divulging information about their own NDAs.

    • @DevinCow Now Has More Twitter Followers Than Devin Nunes

      Yesterday we wrote about the completely ridiculous lawsuit that Rep. Devin Nunes — a real live Congressional Representative — filed against Twitter, a political communications expert, and two satirical fake Twitter accounts: one pretending to be his cow, and one pretending to be his mom. As we noted, in the lawsuit itself, Nunes’ lawyer points out that the satirical cow had a grand total of 1,204 followers when the lawsuit was initiated. For reference, Devin Nunes’ own Twitter account has ~394,000 followers. When we did our post yesterday, @DevinCow was up to 106,000. And now?

    • Police are reportedly investigating several news websites that criticized Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin

      Police in Moscow have reportedly opened a criminal investigation in response to defamation charges filed by Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, against Internet publications that have criticized his job performance. Sources in law enforcement told the newspaper Kommersant that Rogozin singled out the websites Rospres.org and Kompromatural.ru.

      According to Kommersant, Rogozin originally complained to the Attorney General’s Office. Deputy Attorney General Viktor Grin then referred the matter to a preliminary investigative unit in the Interior Ministry, which decided in late February to launch a formal criminal inquiry. The case is now reportedly being investigated by a special group led by Police Lieutenant Colonel Pavel Milovanov. Sources told Kommersant that officials have already established that the offending websites use equipment and domain names located in the United States and the Netherlands.

    • Terrified Of The Internet, Putin Signs Laws Making It Illegal To Criticize Government Leaders Online

      Russia’s efforts to clamp down on anything resembling free speech on the internet continues unabated. Putin’s government has spent the last few years effectively making VPNs and private messenger apps illegal. While the government publicly insists the moves are necessary to protect national security, the actual motivators are the same old boring ones we’ve seen here in the States and elsewhere around the world for decades: fear and control. Russia doesn’t want people privately organizing, discussing, or challenging the government’s increasingly-authoritarian global impulses.

      After taking aim at VPNs, Putin signed two new bills this week that dramatically hamper speech, especially online. One law specifically takes aim at the nebulous concept of “fake news,” specifically punishing any online material that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.” In other words, Russia wants to ban criticism of Putin and his corrupt government, with experts telling the Washington Post that the updated law effectively removes the pesky legal system from what was already a fairly draconian system….

    • Florida College Asked Local Sheriff To Declare Faculty Member’s Artwork Obscene

      Cops may not know art, but they know what they don’t like. Blowing past the First Amendment to give their official opinion on art critical of law enforcement is never an acceptable “solution,” but it’s one that happens nonetheless.

      Last year, a high school decided it would rather demonstrate its subservience to local law enforcement than stand behind its students and their First Amendment rights. Photos of a painting of a cop in Ku Klux Klan hood pointing a gun at a black child appeared in the school newspaper. Instead of running the article, a teacher ran down to the cop shop to offer a profuse apology on behalf of “99.9% of the teachers at the school.” Returning to school with the aftertaste of boot polish still lingering in his mouth, he engaged a full-on tongue kiss with the town’s mayor, who offered his own profuse (and cowardly) apology to the offended police department.

      Now, as Sarah McLaughlin of FIRE reports, another institute of learning has decided the best approach to controversial artwork is to display its soft underbelly to law enforcement as quickly as possible. A faculty member’s artwork was deemed “controversial.” This is an unsurprising development. Controversy and artwork have enjoyed a long and healthy relationship for many, many years.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Trump administration requests nearly $86B for spy budget

      The Trump administration wants nearly $86 billion for its intelligence programs in fiscal 2020, a 6 percent jump from last year.

      Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Monday revealed that the administration wants $62.8 billion for its U.S. intelligence agencies, while the Pentagon released its $22.95 billion request for its military intelligence program (MIP).

      Details of the so-called black budget are secret, but the funds cover a range of expenses including spy planes and satellites, intelligence gathering through spies and informants, and cyber weapons.

      The higher request comes despite the fact that President Trump has had a contentious relationship with his intelligence agencies since taking office.

      Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI Director Christopher Wray made headlines in January with their congressional testimony on global threats, in particular because their statements appeared to conflict with Trump’s policy agenda.

    • EFF Submits Consumer Data Privacy Comment to the California Attorney General

      The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) requires the California Attorney General to take input from the public on regulations to implement the law, which does not go into effect until 2020.

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed comments on two issues: first, how to verify consumer requests to companies for access to personal information, and for deletion of that information; and second, how to make the process of opting out of the sale of data easy, using the framework already in place for the Do Not Track (DNT) system.

    • Here’s Why You Can’t Trust What Cops and Companies Claim About Automated License Plate Readers

      In response to an ACLU report on how law enforcement agencies share information collected by automated license plate readers (ALPRs) with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, officials have been quick to deny and obfuscate despite documentary evidence obtained directly from ICE itself through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit

      Let’s be clear: you can’t trust what ALPR company Vigilant Solutions and its clients says. It’s time for higher authorities to conduct an audit.

      Through years of research spanning California (and beyond), EFF has discovered that agencies that access ALPR data are often ignorant or noncompliant when it comes to the transparency and accountability requirements of state law. Furthermore, their agreements with the vendor Vigilant Solutions often include “non-disparagement” and “non-publication” clauses that contractually bind them to Vigilant Solutions’ “media messaging” and prevent agencies from speaking candidly with the press. Meanwhile, training materials created by Vigilant Solutions explicitly recommend that police leave ALPR out of its reports whenever possible.

    • Uber used spyware to surveil and poach drivers from Australian rival service Gocatch

      A senior source at Uber has confirmed to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners programme that Uber Australia illegally deployed an in-house piece of spyware called Surfcam in order to spy on drivers for a rival rideshare company called Gocatch; Uber was able to compile lists of drivers’ emails, car registration numbers and other details and it used these to poach Gocatch drivers and turn them into Uber drivers.

    • Only politicians get exemption from encryption law

      The Federal Government’s encryption law spreads its net far and wide in society, but exempts one class of person — politicians — from its tentacles, according to an analysis of the law by lawyer and consultant Matthew Shearing.

      “This Bill (which is now law) has a number of small but powerful provisions tucked away in its 220 pages – but none might raise more eyebrows than the provision regarding members of Parliament,” Shearing pointed out in his analysis which came to iTWire’s notice after InnovationAus editor James Riley mentioned it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Attorneys and Reporters Interrogated at Border About Political Beliefs In ‘Outrageous’ Violation of Rights

      Rights advocates are issuing fresh warnings of intimidation and repressive tactics in the wake of new reporting about U.S. border patrol agents detaining and interrogating journalists and immigration lawyers, including questions about their political beliefs.

      NBC News reported Monday that at least one journalist and four immigration lawyers were stopped at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stations near the border in Texas and Arizona in an apparent attempt to identify individuals in the area who oppose the Trump administration.

      [...]

      As Common Dreams reported last year, a change in the Immigration and Nationality Act more that 70 years ago resulted in a 100-mile zone near all U.S. borders—where 200 million people live—in which Americans officially do not have constitutional rights protecing them from warrantless searches and demands by CBP agents.

      The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held up the rule over the objections of the ACLU and other rights groups. The ruling has resulted in incidents like Levy’s and Ruiz’s detentions, as well as those of a documentary filmmaker and two other lawyers.

      Esha Bhandari, an attorney with the ACLU, rejected the notion that the CBP can legally seize reporters’ and lawyers’ phones and detain them without cause within the 100-mile zone.

    • Among Questions Raised by Pompeo’s Faith-Based Only Press Call: ‘How Many Muslim Reporters Invited?’

      A secretive State Department briefing restricted to all but faith-based reporters is raising questions among reporters about access and press freedoms.

      On Monday evening, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a phone briefing for reporters from the religious press. Secular news agencies—including the main networks and newspapers—were not invited to participate in the call.

    • ICE Officers Forging Signatures, Deploying Pre-Signed Warrants To Detain Immigrants

      Oxley forged signatures of supervisors. Other ICE officers didn’t go that far. Many simply phoned up the supervisor who was supposed to be reviewing the warrants — you know, to ensure they were compliant with the Constitution — and then signed them on their behalf. In all the cases reviewed by CNN, no one was following the rules.

      The President claims the “crisis” at the southern border warrants a national emergency declaration. The job ICE does is, apparently, too important to be done correctly. The agency is cooking the books to make it appear as though the nation is overrun by dangerous immigrants. Simultaneously, ICE threw manpower and funding at creating a fake college so it could sweep up immigrants and visitors attempting to comply with the law.

      This warrant process that can barely be called a “process” is resulting in the illegal detention of immigrants who haven’t violated the law. The Fourth Amendment is supposed to limit government wrongdoing, but ICE officers appear to believe civil rights are inconveniences to be routed around. It wants to make the fun part of the job — rounding up people and detaining them — more efficient.

    • ACLU: The U.S. Is Acting Like an Authoritarian Regime by Barring ICC Officials Probing War Crimes

      The Trump administration has barred International Criminal Court investigators from entering the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday that the U.S. will start denying visas to members of the ICC who may be investigating alleged war crimes by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. In September, national security adviser John Bolton threatened U.S. sanctions against ICC judges if they continued to investigate alleged war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan. A 2016 ICC report accused the U.S. military of torturing at least 61 prisoners in Afghanistan during the ongoing war. The report also accused the CIA of subjecting at least 27 prisoners to torture, including rape, at CIA prison sites in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania. We speak with Jamil Dakwar, director of the Human Rights Program at the American Civil Liberties Union.

    • Facebook Revamps Its Ad-Targeting System To Stop Discrimination

      Facebook has been under users’ scrutiny for various reasons; one of them is discrimination caused by the ads on the platform. To curb this, the social networking site is revamping its ad-targeting system for housing, employment and credit ads.

      The new ad-targeting system will no longer discriminate against users on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion.

    • Facebook Changes Its Ad Tech to Stop Discrimination

      The settlement resolves five separate cases that had been brought against Facebook over discriminatory advertising since 2016, following a ProPublica investigation that revealed Facebook let advertisers choose to hide their ads from black, Hispanic, or people of other “ethnic affinities.” Lawsuits soon followed. The most recent case was an EEOC complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union in September, alleging that Facebook allowed job ads to discriminate against women.

    • Facebook Settles Suits Over Ad-Targeting Discrimination

      Facebook settled five lawsuits alleging that its advertising systems enabled discrimination in housing, credit and employment ads. For the social network, that’s one major legal problem down, several to go, including government investigations in the U.S. and Europe over its data and privacy practices.

      As part of that settlement, Facebook says it will overhaul ad targeting for housing, credit and employment ads so they can’t be used to discriminate on the basis of race and ethnicity, gender and other legally protected categories in the U.S., including national origin and sexual orientation. The social media company is also paying about $5 million to cover legal fees and other costs.

      Facebook and the plaintiffs — a group including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Fair Housing Alliance and others —called the settlement “historic.” It took 18 months to hammer out. The company still faces an administrative complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in August over the housing ads issue.

    • Facebook Won’t Let Employers, Landlords or Lenders Discriminate in Ads Anymore

      Facebook advertisers can no longer target users by age, gender and ZIP code for housing, employment and credit offers, the company announced Tuesday as part of a major settlement with civil rights organizations.

      The wide-ranging agreement follows reporting by ProPublica since 2016 that found Facebook let advertisers exclude users by race and other categories that are protected by federal law. It is illegal for housing, job and credit advertisers to discriminate against protected groups.

      ProPublica had been able to buy housing-related ads on Facebook that excluded groups such as African Americans and Jews, and it previously found job ads excluding users by age and gender placed by companies that are household names, like Uber and Verizon Wireless.

    • Facebook Settles Civil Rights Cases by Making Sweeping Changes to Its Online Ad Platform

      The ACLU expects other social media and advertising platforms to follow suit in recognizing that civil rights laws apply online.

      The ACLU, along with our client Communications Workers of America and other civil rights groups, announced a historic settlement agreement with Facebook that will result in major changes to Facebook’s advertising platform. Advertisers will no longer be able to exclude users from learning about opportunities for housing, employment, or credit based on gender, age, or other protected characteristics.

      This policy change follows years of work by civil rights advocates — including a legal challenge from the ACLU, the Communications Workers of America, and the civil rights law firm Outten & Golden LLP. In September, we collectively filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of CWA and individual job seekers against Facebook and a number of companies that targeted certain ads for jobs to younger male Facebook users. These charges joined other litigation asserting race discrimination in job, housing, and credit ads and age discrimination in job ads.

      Most Facebook users were likely not even aware that this type of exclusionary ad targeting was happening. Some 30 years into the digitization of our daily lives, we’re still coming to grips with the fact that the vast trove of data we hand over with each and every “like,” search, post, or click — often without our knowledge or consent — will be used to target advertisements to us.

      This kind of data mining is ubiquitous on Facebook, which attracts advertisers by touting its targeting tool’s power to show users only the ads Facebook or advertisers think they’d be interested in, based on how individualized data describes them. But there’s a discriminatory flip side to this practice. Ad-targeting platforms can be used to exclude users on the basis of race, gender, or age as well as interests or groups that can serve as proxies for those categories (think “soccer moms” or “Kwanzaa celebrators”).

    • Following protests against migrant workers in Yakutsk, dozens of bus drivers stay home from work and kiosk vendors are told to shut down for their own safety

      In Yakutsk, where protests against migrant workers have continued for the past two days, between 80 and 90 buses didn’t run their routes on March 19. According to Andrey Sharygin, the director of Yakutsk’s Unified Dispatch Service, most of the drivers are foreigners.

      “With just 420–430 buses in total, this hits us pretty hard. Right now, we’re trying to figure out what happened. The drivers are reporting technical issues, and some say they fear for their safety,” Sharygin told the website SakhaDay, adding that crew foremen and route directors are covering for many missing drivers.

      Sergey Maximov, the head of the public utility “Yakut Passenger Trucking Company,” confirmed to Ykt.ru that roughly 80 buses missed their routes on the morning of March 19. By midday, he says, about 40 lines were still out of service. “I emphasize that this is happening only with commercial public transportation. All our shuttle vans are on schedule,” Maximov told the news agency Interfax, adding that some drivers stayed home on Tuesday because they “fear reprisals.”

    • ‘Terrible News’: US Supreme Court Rules for Indefinite Detention of Immigrants

      A Supreme Court ruling Tuesday stating undocumented immigrants with criminal records can be detained indefinitely by U.S. authorities at any time after an initial arrest—even years later—generated outrage and disappointment from advocacy groups around the country.

      The case, Nielsen v. Preap, was decided by a majority of 5-4. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought the suit against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to the Supreme Court in October 2018.

      The case rested on whether or not the government can detain immigrants convicted of crimes at any time after their sentences and for any amount of time.

      A law passed by Congress in 1996 allowed for the detention of undocumented immigrants after their sentence was served, but that law had largely, until now, been interpreted as only applying immediately after sentencing. Tuesday’s ruling means that application parameter no longer exists.

      “For two terms in a row now, the Supreme Court has endorsed the most extreme interpretation of immigration detention statutes, allowing mass incarceration of people without any hearing, simply because they are defending themselves against a deportation charge,” Cecilia Wang, ACLU deputy legal director, said in a statement. “We will continue to fight the gross overuse of detention in the immigration system.”

    • The Trump Administration Is Detaining Migrant Children in Clandestine Shelters

      The federal government is relying on secret shelters to hold unaccompanied minors, in possible violation of the long-standing rules for the care of immigrant children, a Reveal investigation has found.

      The Office of Refugee Resettlement, the government agency that cares for unaccompanied minors, has never made the shelters’ existence public or even disclosed them to the minors’ own attorneys in a landmark class-action case.

      It remains unclear how many total sites are under operation, but there are at least five in Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia, holding at least 16 boys and girls for the refugee agency, some as young as 9 years old.

      Minors being held at the clandestine facilities initially were placed at known shelters around the country but later were transferred to these off-the-books facilities that specialize in providing for youth with mental health and behavioral challenges.

      The refugee agency’s standards for transferring youth in its care state that the agency “makes every effort to place children and youth within the ORR funded care provider network,” but makes room for out-of-network transfers, adding that “there may be instances when ORR determines there is no care provider available within the network to provide specialized services needed for special needs cases. In those cases, ORR will consider an alternative placement.”

    • Officer’s Body Cam Fails To Capture Footage Of Woman Shooting Herself In The Head While Her Hands Were Cuffed Behind Her

      The police department has 356 cameras and deploys “40-60 per shift.” The department has 525 officers so it seems the odds were in favor of there being multiple cameras on the scene. But the only footage recorded didn’t capture the incident. Multiple police cruisers were on the scene, but the Chesapeake PD decided to eliminate dash cams when it acquired body cameras, removing one more impartial witness.

      With the official word from the state, the Chesapeake PD closes the book on an extremely dubious “suicide.” Whether this is just a bunch of lies or some very terrible police work, the end result is the same: someone in handcuffs ended up dead. The odds that this person decided to escalate a traffic stop to a successful suicide attempt are incredibly low. Something fucked up happened that afternoon and the police department hasn’t even attempted to explain how something like this might have happened. Since the medical examiner has spoken, the Chesapeake PD has decided it’s no longer obligated to provide an explanation.

    • Black Sites for Kids: Rights Advocates Outraged Over Child Immigrants Being Held at ‘Off-the-Books’ Detention Facilities

      Immigrant rights advocates were horrified Tuesday by a new report which confirmed that the Trump administration is sending some immigrant children to clandestine facilities that are not known to their families and lawyers and are not equipped to provide care to vulnerable minors.

      An investigation by Reveal on Monday showed that at least 16 young immigrants—as young as nine years old and in need of mental or behavioral health treatment—have been sent by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to “off-the-books” facilities outside the network of federally-funded detention centers. The administration is housing immigrant children with an even greater degree of secrecy than was previously known, in violation of U.S. law.

    • Christian Charity Gave Over $50 Million to Hate Groups, Report Reveals

      The National Christian Foundation is America’s eighth largest public charity, but it doesn’t build houses, educate children, feed the hungry, or provide other goods or services one might commonly associate with a charity. It’s also not a household name like the Red Cross, but that doesn’t prevent it from having vast influence. According to a new investigation from Sludge, the far-right, evangelical NCF “has donated $56.1 million on behalf of its clients to 23 nonprofits identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups.”

      These nonprofits include multiple anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate groups. In fact, as reporter Alex Kotch points out, Inside Philanthropy has said that NCF “is probably the single biggest source of money fueling the pro-life and anti-LGBT movements over the past 15 years.”

      In addition to not being a direct service charity, the NCF is also not a conventional foundation that a wealthy donor uses as a vehicle to grow and then give away their money to multiple other charities over time. Instead, it’s a donor-advised fund, offering its Christian donors “expert guidance and creative giving solutions,” Kotch writes.

    • What Republicans and Billionaires Really Mean When They Talk About ‘Freedom’

      America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism. We’d be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom.

      The Oregonian reported last week that fully 156,000 families are on the edge of homelessness in our small-population state. Every one of those households is now paying more than 50 percent of its monthly income on rent, and none of them has any savings; one medical bill, major car repair or job loss, and they’re on the streets.

      While socialism may or may not solve their problem, the more pressing issue we have is an entire political party and a huge sector of the billionaire class who see homelessness not as a problem, but as a symptom of a “free” society.

    • Lady Liberty Gets Probation

      After Trump put people in cages, Okoumou said of her action, “I had had enough. We have gone so low as a country I had to climb as high as I could to raise consciousness.”

    • Police in Yakutia detain several people for acts against migrant workers, following a rape case that has put the region on edge

      Police in Yakutsk detained the organizer of an unscheduled protest on March 17 against migrant workers, after he used instant messengers to invite others to join his demonstration. A court later fined the man 20,000 rubles ($310) for organizing and staging the event without advance notice.

      [...]

      The region’s police department denies rumors that three men from Central Asia were recently murdered in Yakutsk, as well as claims that 20 migrant workers were attacked and hospitalized.

      Demonstrations against migrant workers started in Yakutsk after a Kyrgyz man was charged with kidnapping and raping a local woman. On March 17, roughly 200 people attended an unplanned protest in the city. The next day, the city’s mayor and the region’s governor hosted roughly 6,000 people for a town hall meeting, where they promised to crack down on illegal migrant workers, relying in part on massive police sweeps of local businesses.

    • Border Patrol and ICE Routinely Violate Immigrants’ Religious Rights

      Seizing rosaries, forbidding turbans, and serving pork sandwiches to Muslims are just some of the reasons we’re demanding an investigation.
      One pork sandwich every eight hours for six straight days. That’s the only food that Border Patrol provided to Adnan Asif Parveen, a Muslim immigrant who was detained in South Texas in January because his work permit had expired and was pending renewal. Mr. Parveen reportedly informed officials that his religion forbids him from eating pork, but they didn’t care. All he could eat were the slices of bread from the sandwich.

      Mr. Parveen’s experience was not an isolated incident. While President Trump and his administration have repeatedly proclaimed their commitment to religious liberty, in practice, this has only translated to religious freedom for some. Detained immigrants are apparently not among them. Detained immigrants from various faiths — Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and Christians — have reported incidents in which Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement brazenly violate their religious-freedom rights.

      Take, for instance, Border Patrol’s treatment of Christians. Despite the agency’s “Religious Sensitivity” policy, which directs officers and agents to “remain cognizant of an individual’s religious beliefs while accomplishing an enforcement action in a dignified and respectful manner,” officials have seized rosaries from Catholic immigrants. One janitor found so many rosaries discarded by Border Patrol officials that he was able to create and photograph an entire collection of them. Immigrants have had their Bibles confiscated at the border, including Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist men represented in a lawsuit filed last year by the ACLU.

    • Lawmakers in Colorado Should Abolish the Death Penalty

      The death penalty is a broken tool riddled with bias that must be abandoned. A new bill in Colorado can do just that.
      In July 2012, Coloradans were devastated by the now-infamous murder of 12 moviegoers in the town of Aurora. Despite the trauma and grief that crime caused, a local jury three years later refused the prosecutor’s request to impose the death sentence against the convicted perpetrator. At the time, The Denver Post observed, “The death penalty in Colorado has effectively expired. And it didn’t happen because of bleeding-heart lawmakers or activist judges. It happened because juries themselves wanted no part of it.”

      Coloradans turned their back on the death penalty in one of the state’s darkest hours this century. They were right to do so. Now, with a new bill, the state has the chance to abolish the practice once and for all.

      The problems with the death penalty are well known and damning. The practice is irreparably biased; it delays justice for victims’ families and draws out their suffering; and it devours millions of law enforcement dollars that would be better invested where they could actually protect the public — which the death penalty does not. The death penalty is so broken that even law enforcement officials have little faith in it.

    • Leader of Russia’s notorious Tambov gang sentenced to 24 years total for murder and organizing a criminal group

      A St. Petersburg court has sentenced Vladimir Barsukov, born Vladimir Kumarin, to 12 years in a high-security prison for founding a criminal society. Barsukov is known as a leader of the so-called Tambov gang, which rose to be one of the most notorious criminal organizations in Russia beginning in the late 1990s. The gang leader had previously been sentenced to 23 years for murder and will spend a total of 24 years behind bars. His accomplice Vyacheslav Drokov received an identical sentence for founding a criminal society and will spend 21 years in a prison colony overall. The sentences come amid an effort on the part of the Putin administration and the State Duma to make holding leadership positions in criminal groups a crime in its own right even for non-founders.

    • Federal Judge Tosses Cops’ Lawsuit Against A Councilmember Who Said The Police Dept. Had Committed Murder

      A federal judge in Washington just reminded two Seattle police officers that a politician saying unkind things about law enforcement is not defamation.

      [...]

      The lawsuit is done. Dismissed with prejudice. These cops paid for the chance to learn that people saying unkind things is not actually defamation, especially when the person saying these things never names names. Thanks to this stupid lawsuit, Seattle taxpayers will be doubling up paying for these officers’ actions. First, they paid for the city’s defense of Councilmember Sawant’s non-defamatory statements. They’ll be asked to foot the bill again in the near future to defend these officers from a lawsuit brought by the family of the man they killed.

    • The Roots of Police Violence in Chicago: How Cops Have Targeted Communities of Color for Decades

      We look at the long history of police brutality against Latinos in Chicago. Latinos, especially immigrants, have faced police violence and killings for decades, and have a long history of fighting back against brutality through community organizing and activism. But their stories have received little news coverage. We speak with Lilia Fernández, a professor of history and Latino studies at Rutgers University and the author of “Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago.” We also speak with Flint Taylor, an attorney with People’s Law Office and author of “The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago.”

    • Kamala Harris’ Record as Tough-On-Crime Prosecutor Far From Progressive – Documentary Report

      Democrat and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris says she supports a Sanders-style progressive agenda, but given her record as AG of California, can she be trusted to enact it if elected?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • How the Chaos of Studying Subatomic Particles Inspired the Creation of the Web

      30 years ago this month, Tim Berners-Lee penned his original proposal for what would become the World Wide Web.

    • For Africa, Chinese-Built Internet Is Better Than No Internet at All

      The Chinese telecommunications company Huawei has made huge inroads in Africa in recent years even as the United States urges its allies around the world to avoid working with the firm over cybersecurity concerns.

      Huawei has built about 70 percent of the continent’s 4G networks, vastly outpacing European rivals, according to Cobus van Staden, a senior China-Africa researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs. The construction is often accompanied by loans from Chinese state banks, which are approved faster and with fewer conditions than loans from international institutions.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Natural Alternatives International, Inc. v. Creative Compounds, LLC (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      Last week, in Natural Alternatives International, Inc. v. Creative Compounds, LLC, the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California granting a motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by Creative Compounds, LLC that the asserted claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,965,596, 7,825,084, 7,504,376, 8,993,610, 8,470,865, and RE45,947 are not patent eligible. In reversing the District Court, the Federal Circuit found that Creative Compounds had failed to demonstrate that the asserted claims were not patent eligible in view of Natural Alternatives’ proposed claim constructions.

      The patents at issue, which are owned by Natural Alternatives International, Inc., relate to dietary supplements containing beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is an amino acid, which together with the amino acid histidine, can form dipeptides that are found in muscles, which in turn are involved in the regulation of intracellular pH during muscle contraction and development of fatigue. Variations in dipeptide concentrations affect the anaerobic work capacity of individual athletes. The asserted claims relate to the use of beta-alanine in a dietary supplement to increase the anaerobic working capacity of muscle and other tissue.

      Natural Alternatives has asserted the patents at issue in multiple suits in the Southern District, including against Creative Compounds. Creative Compounds responded by moving for judgment on the pleadings, which the District Court granted. The District Court determined that all of the asserted claims were directed to patent ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and lacked an inventive concept sufficient to render the claims patent eligible. Although the District Court indicated that it had accepted Natural Alternatives’ proposed claim constructions in performing its eligibility analysis, the Federal Circuit, applying those same proposed claim constructions, determined that “the complaint’s factual allegations, together with all reasonable inferences, plausibly establish the eligibility of the representative claims.”

    • Symantec Corp. v. Zscaler, Inc. (N.D. Cal. 2018)

      In a suit by Plaintiff Symantec Corp. (“Symantec”) against Defendant Zscaler, Inc. (“Zscaler”), Symantec alleged that Zscaler’s cloud-based security products infringe seven of Symantec’s patents. Zscaler moved to dismiss infringement claims for four of the patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,285,658 (the ’658 patent), 7,587,488 (the ’488 patent), 8,316,446 (the ’446 patent), and 8,316,429 (the ’429 patent), on grounds that the claims of the patents are directed to patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Earlier this month, Judge Jon S. Tigar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted the motion in part, denied the motion in part as moot, and held the remainder of the motion in abeyance pending briefing on Symantec’s assertion of assignor estoppel.

      The ’658 patent claims relate to a system for managing network bandwidth based on data contained in packets flowing in various Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) protocol layers (e.g., network layer, transport layer, and application layer). The ’488 patent claims relate to filtering and dynamically rating Internet content. The ’446 patent claims relate to a system for blocking unwanted software downloads. And the ’429 patent claims relate to extracting and categorizing encrypted Internet communications between clients and hosts servers without having to decrypt network traffic between those clients and host servers.

      During pendency of the motion to dismiss, the parties stipulated to dismiss the infringement claims with respect to the ’658 patent with prejudice, and thus the Court denied the motion with respect to the ’658 patent as moot. The Court also holds the motion in abeyance with respect to the ’446 and ’429 patents until the parties’ cross-motions for partial summary judgement on the basis of assignor estoppel are resolved. Additionally, the Court noted that it would not consider the motion with respect to the ’429 patent because the PTAB recently instituted inter partes review of the asserted claims of that patent.

    • Google Patents now includes Unified PTAB and District Court litigation data

      This collaboration incorporates all PTAB and district court litigation from Unified’s Portal and its new BigQuery deployment into the events area of Google’s patent search for any patent which has been in dispute. Unified is only entity providing completely free, public accessibility to this information. For example, a Dominion Harbor Patent US6014089 was recently found mostly invalid and the PTAB information can be seen in the events section.

    • Unified files IPR against US 9,014,494 owned by Velos Media, LLC

      On March 18, 2019, Unified filed a petition (with Baker Botts serving as lead counsel) for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent No. 9,014,494, owned by Velos Media, LLC (Velos), as part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its SEP Video Codec Zone.

      The ’494 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is one of the largest families known to be owned by Velos. Including this petition, Unified has now challenged patents representing 29% of Velos’ total known U.S. assets.

    • Patent case: Final term to claim patent infringement in arbitration against generic applicants,Portugal

      The Constitutional Court held that the 30-day period to initiate mandatory arbitration proceedings against applicants for authorization to introduce generic medicines onto the market is a final (or expiration) term.

    • Physical-Realm: The Federal Circuit’s New Machine-or-Transformation

      Note here, that the court did not give itself Bilski-style wiggle-room by suggesting that its physical-realm identity offered a “clue” to eligibility. Rather, the court held that the invention was not in the physical-realm (other than its use of computers) and therefore was abstract. Now, to be clear, I believe that the InvestPic decision could be interpreted a different way. However, the easiest reading of the case is that the court meant what it said – the claim is directed either to something abstract or something physical.

    • Copyrights
      • More than 130 European businesses tell the European Parliament: Reject the #CopyrightDirective

        The EU’s Copyright Directive will be voted on in the week of March 25 (our sources suggest the vote will take place on March 27th, but that could change); the Directive has been controversial all along, but it took a turn for the catastrophic during the late stages of the negotiation, which yielded a final text that is alarming in its potential consequences for all internet activity in Europe and around the world.

        More than 5,000,000 Europeans have signed a petition against Article 13 of the Directive, and there has been outcry from eminent technical experts, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on free expression, and many other quarters.

        Now, a coalition of more than 130 EU businesses have entered the fray, led by file storage service NextCloud. Their letter to the European Parliament calls Article 13—which will lead to mass adoption of copyright filters for online services that will monitor and block user-submitted text, audio, video and images—a “dangerous experiment with the core foundation of the Internet’s ecosystem.” They also condemn Article 11, which will allow news publishers to decide who can quote and link to news stories and charge for the right to do so.

        Importantly, they identify a key risk of the Directive, which is that it will end up advantaging US Big Tech firms that can afford monitoring duties, and that will collect “massive amounts of data” sent by Europeans.

        March 21st is an EU-wide day of action on the Copyright Directive, with large site blackouts planned (including German Wikipedia), and on March 23, there will be mass demonstrations across the EU. Things are getting down to the wire here, folks.

      • Europe-wide street protests to take place Saturday against Article 13 of EU copyright reform bill (I’ll speak at the Munich demonstration)

        Tomorrow (Thursday, March 21), the Conference of Presidents (= political group leaders) of the European Parliament will set the schedule for next week’s Strasbourg plenary session, with the plenary debate on the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (“EU Copyright Directive”) most likely to take place on Tuesday (March 26) and the vote later that day or the next day. In light of various developments, most notably a position paper by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany (= Merkel’s party) on the subsequent transposition of the EU directive into German law, I’m convinced the best and smartest thing to do for the Parliament, its largest parties and even for the EU as a whole would be to postpone the vote into the next legislative term. Certain discontinuity effects would be felt, with hundreds of new MEPs on board, but even the burdensome implications of a postponement would be preferable over a situation in which the important final two months of this year’s EU election campaign would be overshadowed by public outrage over a rubberstamping of, above all, the ill-conceived Article 13.

        But normally the vote will take place next week, and then the best thing to do would be for a majority of MEPs to vote to delete Article 13 so the process can continue. In fact, the EU Council (where the governments of the Member States cast their votes) could adopt the bill without Article 13. A new legislative process for Article 13 would be warranted. It’s not just “one little article.” Even by the narrowest definition, we’re talking about 1,200 English words, making it almost as long as the Declaration of Independence–but if you include the directly-related Article 2 and, especially, the Article-13-specific recitals 37 and 38, the total length is at a level with the original (prior to amendments) U.S. Constitution.

      • Will Copyright Directive Destroy the Open Internet?

        The participants are founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales, Executive Director of Estonian Human Rights Centre Kari Käsper, member of Czech Pirate Party Marcel Kolaja, Google Public Policy and Government Relations Manager Milan Zubíček, UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye and MEP Yana Toom. Moderator is Ahto Lobjakas, political analyst, columnist and radio host.

        The internet is a platform for information: it does not differentiate between “good” and “bad” and both spread at an equally fast rate. Recently there have been more calls to control content online. To ensure that creators are paid for their content online and stop exploitation by big tech companies the use of technologies is proposed. This is at stake in the Copyright Directive, a controversial law which soon will be voted in the European Parliament.

        Ahead of the vote, MEP Yana Toom is organizing a conference with experts and stakeholders to discuss what the implications of this law are. As the Directive promises to pay creators more, but there are concerns about the impact on freedom of speech. Furthermore, many claim that the law will destroy the open internet as we know it: banning memes, snippets of news and create obstacles for online creativity through upload filtering.

      • Is Transformative Use Eating the World?

        Fair use is copyright law’s most important defense to claims of copyright infringement. This defense allows courts to relax copyright law’s application when courts believe doing so will promote creativity more than harm it. As the Supreme Court has said, without the fair use defense, copyright law would often “stifle the very creativity [it] is designed to foster.”

        In today’s world, whether use of a copyrighted work is “transformative” has become a central question within the fair use test. The U.S. Supreme Court first endorsed the transformative use term in its 1994 Campbell decision. Since then, lower courts have increasingly made use of the transformative use doctrine in fair use case law. In fact, in response to the transformative use doctrine’s seeming hegemony, commentators and some courts have recently called for a scaling back of the transformative use concept. So far, the Supreme Court has yet to respond. But growing divergences in transformative use approaches may eventually attract its attention.

        But what is the actual state of the transformative use doctrine? Some previous scholars have empirically examined the fair use defense, including the transformative use doctrine’s role in fair use case law. But none has focused specifically on empirically assessing the transformative use doctrine in as much depth as is warranted. This Article does so by collecting a number of data from all district and appellate court fair use opinions between 1991, when the transformative use term first made its appearance in the case law, and 2017. These data include how frequently courts apply the doctrine, how often they deem a use transformative, and win rates for transformative users. The data also cover which types of uses courts are most likely to find transformative, what sources courts rely on in defining and applying the doctrine, and how frequently the transformative use doctrine bleeds into and influences other parts of the fair use test. Overall, the data suggest that the transformative use doctrine is, in fact, eating the world of fair use.

      • The Rise and Rise of Transformative Use

        I’m a big fan of transformative use analysis in fair use law, except when I’m not. I think that it is a helpful guide for determining if the type of use is one that we’d like to allow. But I also think that it can be overused – especially when it is applied to a different message but little else.

        The big question is whether transformative use is used too much…or not enough. Clark Asay (BYU) has done the research on this so you don’t have to. In his forthcoming article in Boston College Law Review called, Is Transformative Use Eating the World?, Asay collects and analyzes 400+ fair use decisions since 1991

      • Internet Blackout Coming To Show The EU Parliament It’s Not Just ‘Bots’ Concerned About Article 13

        Last week Glyn mentioned that the German Wikipedia had announced plans to “go dark” this Thursday to protest Articles 11 and 13 of the EU Copyright Directive. And now it appears that a whole bunch of other websites will join in the protest (including us). While we won’t go completely dark, we’ll be putting up a banner in support of the many websites that do plan to go dark — and we’ve heard that an awful lot of websites will be joining in. Supporters keep trying to dismiss these complaints as just being “bots” or the big internet companies, but lots of others will be showing that this is about the broader internet this Thursday. This is just one of many protests happening this week, with in-person protests happening all through the EU this coming weekend as well.

      • Report: In Bollywood, Movie Piracy Is Largely Carried Out By Rival Publishing Houses

        To hear it from the film industry writ large, a certain picture is painted in one’s head when film piracy is discussed. That image is of a person, typically young, perhaps living in Mom and Dad’s basement and covered in Cheetos dust, illicitly downloading film after film for their personal enjoyment, cackling evilly all the while. And, hey, personal downloading that amounts to infringement is certainly a thing.

        But it’s not the only thing. In India, where Bollywood has often put out the same old story about the evils of piracy, and where the government recently ramped up criminal penalties for recording or transmitting films and audio, one newspaper has comments from within the industry that suggest much of the film piracy in question is specifically enabled by rival publishing houses.

      • The European Copyright Directive: What Is It, and Why Has It Drawn More Controversy Than Any Other Directive In EU History?

        Not really. It’s true that filters—and even human moderators—would struggle to figure out when a meme crosses the line from “fair dealing” (a suite of European exceptions to copyright for things like parody, criticism and commentary) into infringement, but “save the memes” is mostly a catchy way of talking about all the things that filters struggle to cope with, especially incidental use. If your kid takes her first steps in your living room while music is playing in the background, the “incidental” sound could trigger a filter, meaning you couldn’t share an important family moment with your loved ones around the world. Or if a news photographer takes a picture of police violence at a demonstration, or the aftermath of a terrorist attack, and that picture captures a bus-ad with a copyrighted stock-photo, that incidental image might be enough to trigger a filter and block this incredibly newsworthy image in the days (or even weeks) following an event, while the photographer waits for a low-paid, overworked moderator at a big platform to review their appeal. It also affects independent creators whose content is used by established rightsholders. Current filters frequently block original content, uploaded by the original creator, because a news service or aggregator subsequently used that content, and then asserted copyright over it. (Funny story: MEP Axel Voss claimed that AI can distinguish memes from copyright infringement on the basis that a Google image search for “memes” displays a bunch of memes)

      • CC Search: A New Vision, Strategy & Roadmap for 2019

        At A Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain at the Internet Archive, I teased a new product vision for CC Search that gets more specific than our ultimate goal of providing access to all 1.4 billion CC licensed and public domain works on the web. I’m pleased to present that refined vision, which is focused on building a product that promotes not just discovery, but reuse of openly-licensed and public domain works. We want your feedback in making it a reality. What kinds of images do you most need and desire to reuse when creating your own works? Along that vein, what organizational collections would you like to see us prioritizing for inclusion? Where can we make the biggest difference for you and your fellow creators?

      • YouTuber “Golden Modz” Settles Lawsuit Over Fortnite Cheats

        The popular game YouTuber “Golden Modz” has admitted to posting copyright-infringing videos that displayed Fortnite cheats and hacks. Brandon Lucas, owner of the channel, agreed to an undisclosed settlement and a permanent injunction that prevents him from promoting Fortnite cheats going forward. The “Golden Modz” channel remains online and appears to have switched focus to GTA V.

CEN and CENELEC Agreement With the EPO Shows That It’s Definitely the European Commission’s ‘Department’

Wednesday 20th of March 2019 10:18:44 AM


Bundesarchiv, Bild 141-1880 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Summary: With headlines such as “EPO to collaborate on raising SEP awareness” it is clear to see that the Office lacks impartiality and the European Commission cannot pretend that the EPO is “dafür bin ich nicht zuständig” or “da kenne ich mich nicht aus”

YESTERDAY we wrote about the EPO‘s affinity for patent trolls — an affinity that António Campinos (like Iancu at the USPTO) has totally failed to hide. The same goes for software patents in Europe. Whose interests are served by the EPO? Certainly not Europe’s. Maybe some law firms’. Maybe some of these have branches or even headquarters in Europe.

“When it comes to immunity, i.e. legalising or at least tolerating white-collar crimes, the European Commission would rather say it lacks authority over the EPO.”A couple of rather shallow puff pieces have come out, one from WIPR (World Intellectual Property Review) that adds nothing new. No analysis. “According to an EPO press release issued yesterday, March 18, the memorandum will see the European Committee of Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) work together to increase knowledge on the relationship between patents and standardisation.”

Why not just copy the entire press release and be done with that? “Copypasta” is always a lot cheaper than pretense of journalism. Knowing what I know about WIPR (from insiders), the management there has an agenda and spreading propaganda for patent parasites is part of the business model. “News” is just the cover. Over at IPPro Magazine, a piece that’s borderline puff piece has also been published to say:

The European Patent Office (EPO), the European Committee of Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) have agreed to cooperate on standard-essential patents.

The trio signed an agreement to work together to provide industry and stakeholders support on SEPs.

All three organisations will now work together to extend knowledge regarding standardisation and patents.

The EPO said this latest agreement complements its ongoing cooperation with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the European Commission.

Later they’ll keep insisting that the EPO has nothing to do with the European Union and the European Commission. When it comes to immunity, i.e. legalising or at least tolerating white-collar crimes, the European Commission would rather say it lacks authority over the EPO. When it comes to serving parasitic firms that impose software parents through SEP/FRAND thickets? Oh, then the European Commission is “all in”.

Decisions Made Inside the European Patent Organisation (EPO) Lack Credibility Because Examiners and Judges Lack Independence

Wednesday 20th of March 2019 09:35:54 AM

What good is “justice” one reaches while pressured to rule in a particular way (to appease senseless patent maximalists)?

Summary: The lawless, merciless, Mafia-like culture left by Battistelli continues to haunt judges and examiners; how can one ever trust the Office (or the Organisation at large) to deliver true justice in adherence or compliance with the EPC?

Patents on life/nature and algorithms are rotting away at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). They just wait to expire. Nobody wants to assert these in court even if they get granted (more new examples in our daily links), knowing that 35 U.S.C. § 101 is lurking around the corner and SCOTUS isn’t changing its mind.

How about Europe?

As we've just noted, Team UPC tried bypassing the existing court system, but this has failed spectacularly. There’s no legal basis for changing a functional system with one associated/stained by the banana republic known as EPO. For the time being, lenient (on patents) rulings come from the Boards of Appeal, which repeatedly complain that they lack independence and fear the President of the Office. It’s a constitutional crisis unprecedented in that context.

Over at JD Supra (site for law firms to post their self-serving ‘articles’), Cooley LLP’s Steve Cuss and Colm Murphy speak of “The EPO’s Approach to the Patentability of Plant-Related Inventions” — a subject we’ve been covering a lot in recent months because it resurfaced in the media after the Boards of Appeal had issued a controversial decision. The highest European authorities declared such patents null and void; why does the corrupt European Patent Organisation keep granting and then justifying these? Can any judges “internal” to the EPO challenge that? Cuss and Colm started with the following introduction: (marked as press release, not article)

Last month, the European Patent Office (EPO) issued the much anticipated Written Decision associated with case T1063/18. We have previously written about this case in our alert “EPO May Return to Patenting Plants Obtained by an Essentially Biological Process”, where we discussed how the EPO’s approach has appeared to flip-flop between either excluding or not excluding claims directed to plant products that have been obtained by an essentially biological process. T1063/18 firmly adopts the stance that claims directed to such products are patentable. However, whether this position will be maintained by the EPO is unclear.

As we previously reported, the EPO announced the take-home message of this Decision in an earlier press release, such was the interest surrounding the Decision. The now-issued Decision is consistent with that announcement and provides the Board’s reasoning. The Board also provides an explanation of when, in its opinion, this issue should be referred to the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA); i.e. when the EPO’s approach should be reconsidered.

This Decision is the latest development in a long-running debate relating to the patentability of plant-related inventions under the European Patent Convention (EPC). Broadly speaking, three separate points of law have been the subject of debate since the EPC was adopted. These are: i) when product claims directed to plant varieties are patentable, ii) when methods for the generation of plant products are patentable, and iii) whether plant products are patentable even if they have been obtained by unpatenable methods. To put the latest decision in context, we describe this background below.

Common sense alone should convince the vast majority of EPO examiners that things have gone too far. Why are pigs being patented? Are they inventions? Did humans invent pigs? Remember that recent 'Teffgate' as well. Did Europeans invent something that always existed and Africans have practiced for thousands of years? Is that novelty? It’s an outrage, it’s not novelty. It’s a scandal that such patents — European Patents nonetheless — get granted in the first place.

Regarding opposition procedures, which are also overseen by the corrupt management of the EPO, GenomeWeb has just published this:

Streck said today that the European Patent Office earlier this month upheld a European patent it holds on blood collection tubes for noninvasive prenatal testing, following opposition proceedings by Roche.

Shades of Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos?

Take it to courts. The courts outside the EPO. There can be no patent justice inside the EPO because the whole structure got corrupted and people who ignore the rules and break laws now reign over judges. These judges cannot do what’s right without risk of becoming unemployed. António Campinos has offered no reprieve or compensation to Judge Corcoran, who apparently sank into deep depression after he had rejected software patents and got in trouble for passing around what everyone else in the EPO passed around as well (truthful information about corruption).

Team UPC Buries Its Credibility Deeper in the Grave

Wednesday 20th of March 2019 09:00:23 AM

Hogan Lovells participated in UPC lobbying quite a lot last year [1, 2, 3, 4]

Summary: The three Frenchmen at the top do not mention the UPC anymore; but those who promote it for a living (because they gambled on leveraging it for litigation galore) aren’t giving up and in the process they perpetuate falsehoods

EARLIER today we saw Hogan Lovells’ Emma Fulton speaking of the UPC as though it exists. It’s a self-promotional JD Supra ‘article’ in which she wrote: “Given that the UPC’s jurisdiction is supposed to be exclusive for SPCs based on unitary patents or European patents that have not been opted out, it is curious that the Patent SI seems to contemplate that the comptroller also has jurisdiction to hear such challenges. However, this will only become relevant in practice if there is a “no deal” Brexit on 29 March and the UPC comes into force with the UK as a member.”

“This is much more than laughable; the problem is, people pay this firm a lot of money for legal advice (we guess about 200 pounds per hour) and they’re being lied to. Moreover, this firm keeps lying to public officials; it’s their lobbying strategy.”There are three issues with that statement/paragraph; first of all, by all indications there will be extensions and thus no answer about the UK’s status any time soon. Moreover, there are those two old lies right there. UPC isn’t happening (they pretend the only uncertainty concerns British participation) and the UK cannot participate either way. Team UPC likes to always interject Milan as a contingency, failing (intentionally) to note that it would require a wholly new ratification process.

So basically, the above is wrong; the premise is fundamentally wrong. The post is about supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) — another bunch of nonsense that Team UPC (and notably Bristows in the UK) likes to promote.

Speaking of which, desperate for an illusion of progress, Bristows has just brought up Milan again. “The Italian Ministry of Justice announced in 2016 that a local division of the UPC will be in Milan (in an existing court building at via San Barnaba 50),” writes Gregory Bacon this week, but so much has happened since. UPC is now dead. Here they are talking about robes and venues!

This is much more than laughable; the problem is, people pay this firm a lot of money for legal advice (we guess about 200 pounds per hour) and they’re being lied to. Moreover, this firm keeps lying to public officials; it’s their lobbying strategy.

The EPO Has Sadly Taken a Side and It’s the Patent Trolls’ Side

Tuesday 19th of March 2019 06:05:49 PM

The European Patent Office is all about money, not science, and it undermines the basis of its very existence

Summary: Abandoning the whole rationale behind patents, the Office now led for almost a year by António Campinos prioritises neither science nor technology; it’s all about granting as many patents (European monopolies) as possible for legal activity (applications, litigation and so on)

THE António Campinos-led European Patent Office (EPO) is promoting software patents in Europe (it just tells applicants to call these “AI” and other nonsensical, grossly-overused terms). It amasses such applications and then grants bogus patents that courts will almost certainly reject (or would; if the defendant could afford a day in court). Quality of patents isn’t at all mentioned in those ‘results’ that we rebutted or put in context last week. The media, including some of the Battistelli-paid media, keeps relaying that PR. We decided not to link to it this year (like we did in prior years) because it’s a familiar script or spiel. Facts don’t matter; writing these puff pieces is a simple “copypasta” from the EPO.

We have meanwhile noticed that the EPO is again promoting FRAND/SEP agenda. Truly nasty agenda, no doubt, but not surprising as they support patent trolls rather than scientists/scientific progress. It is very much consistent with what Battistelli did and judging by who Campinos chooses to meet (lawyers’ societies, not scientists) we know nothing will change. The EPO said (warning: epo.org link, via) it is looking to “enhance the support they provide to industry and stakeholders in Europe and beyond in the field of standard-essential patents.”

“It is worrying but not surprising that the EPO continues to do this; does anyone still believe that Campinos intends to turn anything around?”EPO ends with the ICT nonsense (ICT means “algorithms” a lot of the time, at least at the EPO): “In view of the growing use of ICT-related technologies in the more traditional technical fields, the ICT standards – as well as the patents considered essential for their implementation – are becoming increasingly important in this context.”

FRAND for code/interoperability shims means software patents. FRAND is a misnomer (each word in the acronym is a lie) and we’ve been writing about it for over a decade, even back when it was called “RAND” (one euphemism/lie fewer). There’s a new press release about it below (just sent to us by a reader):

The question if Open Source Software can be combined with a FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) regime is often at the centre of the debate. Possibly, this question though is not the deciding one, as such a legal compatibility would require that Open Source developers would collaborate under such a regime.

OpenForum Europe is very excited to publish the Opinion Paper by OFA Fellow and President of the Open Source Initiative, Simon Phipps. In this paper Simon posits that the core issue of Open Source Software and FRAND is not a legal one, but that Open Source developers will not collaborate under a FRAND regime.

So yes, it’s about software. It’s about something that can be infinitely replicated free of charge.

“EPO publishes blockchain conference report,” the EPO wrote yesterday, linking to that “blockchain” nonsense which we mentioned some days ago. “This study provides a comprehensive picture of current trends and emerging leaders in self-driving vehicle technologies,” the EPO wrote separately (also yesterday); it’s another newer buzz-phrase/acronym (buzzwords), "SDV" (often means algorithms for vehicle navigation). They like using the physicality of a car to give the impression that the invention is concrete. Similarly, as per Monday’s press release from Israel, here is the EPO granting a patent on “robotics” when in reality this likely deals with computer programs responsible for handling the robot (in addition to imaging modalities whose physical properties have little to nothing pertaining to navigation). From the press release:

XACT Robotics Ltd. today announced that the European Patent Office (EPO) will grant a patent expanding the Company’s patent portfolio to include the use of its robotic system in ultrasound-guided interventional procedures.

That’s basically patenting a computer program. But “with unparalleled accuracy and consistency…”

Whatever. Marketing buzzwords. Or promotional language…

It is worrying but not surprising that the EPO continues to do this; does anyone still believe that Campinos intends to turn anything around?

Yesterday the EPO wrote another bit of nonsense. They call it “EPO Academy” (a big word), but scholars don’t want to work there anymore and academia is ignored in favour of law firms. All that seems to matter to the EPO is money; not scientists’ financial welfare but rather the Office’s and law firms’. What would the public have to say about such an institution? Does it serve Europe?

Where the USPTO Stands on the Subject of Abstract Software Patents

Tuesday 19th of March 2019 05:38:52 PM

The Office hands out fool’s gold

Summary: Not much is changing as we approach Easter and software patents are still fool’s gold in the United States, no matter if they get granted or not

THIS is a very quick update regarding the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The gist of it all? Well, nothing is changing, certainly not at the courts. We have been watching closely all sorts of case outcomes; all have them bar few have reached the predictable kind of outcome.

Watch out as patent maximalists aren’t telling the whole story. They habitually ignore or hide everything which doesn’t fit their agenda.

Robert Schaffer and Joseph Robinson over at Watchtroll have nitpicked or cherry-picked a Federal Circuit (CAFC) case regarding the patent troll PersonalWeb ‘Technologies’ because it is a rarity; it is a high court’s reversal after a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) after a successful inter partes review (IPR). We also noticed (yesterday) that patent maximalists hope to compel SCOTUS to reconsider a case that resembles Alice (basis of 35 U.S.C. § 101) while cherry-picking a CAFC case similar to Mayo. We said we’d not cover pertinent American patent cases, so for the time being we’re just observing and adding those to our daily links. It is very much possible if not highly likely that nothing at all will change; the US government was simply asked to comment about a pending appeal and there’s no guarantee SCOTUS will go ahead; even if it does, this might simply serve to double down on Alice, even further strengthening the precedent.

Links 19/3/2019: Jetson/JetBot, Linux 5.0.3, Kodi Foundation Joins The Linux Foundation, and Firefox 66

Tuesday 19th of March 2019 05:22:42 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Ten Years After Part III – A Storied Conclusion

      Old habits are indeed hard to break, and especially if you don’t really understand the reason why those habits have to change. The idea of a software repository just didn’t make sense to most of our Reglue kids at first. I cannot count the times when I went to troubleshoot a problem on a Reglue computer to find the desktop riddled with .exe files of failed installations.

      What isn’t really surprising is that the kids did eventually pick up the whole installation process on their Linux machines, and mostly came to prefer it. But the parents? Not so much. I wish I had recorded some of the calls I got from irate parents or guardians because they couldn’t install XYZ software on the computer. It didn’t take me long to make sure to make sure that Mom or Dad were present when I explained that part during the orientation. At times, I had to remind those adults that the computer and software was engineered for the benefit of the student, not as a household computer. I mean, get TurboTax on your own machine. It helped some, but still….Adults, right?

      [...]

      By far the most vocal complaints concerned “needed” software not being available on Linux. We might as well just call out The Terrible Two. Photoshop and Microsoft Office. Now remember, the bulk of my work was done between 2005 and 2009. I never offered any excuses for Photoshop. The Gimp isn’t Photoshop, no matter how you twist or turn it and trying to tell someone who uses Photoshop scholastically or professionally that The Gimp can replace Photoshop is a fools errand. Sure it can do a lot of what Photoshop can do but it’s those pesky little items that The Gimp lacks that everyone got all bunched up over.

  • Server
    • VMware demos hypervisor running on a network card

      VMware has demonstrated Linux running on a network card.

      Speaking at the VMware user group convention in Sydney today, Chris Wolf, chief technology officer, global field and industry demonstrated a VMware’s ESXi hypervisor and a Ubuntu guest VM running on a Mellanox SmartNIC.

    • Aurora Will Be The First Exascale Supercomputer Of America

      The exascale supercomputer has the ability to make use of high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) in various areas such as cancer research, climate modeling, and veterans’ health treatments, and more. Aurora will be specially designed to analyze the large amount of data generated by DOE-owned equipment like particle accelerators, telescopes, and other detectors.

    • Intel Xe Graphics Being Part Of The First US Exascale Supercomputer Is Great For Linux

      Announced on Monday was that the US Department of Energy in cooperation with Argonne National Laboratory will see the “Aurora” supercomputer as the first US Exascale SC coming online in 2021 and featuring Intel’s highly anticipated Xe Graphics.

      The Intel Xe Graphics are expected to put Aurora over the edge in being the first exascale super computer at least within the United States. Aurora will also feature Optane persistent DIMMs and next-generation Xeon processors. Intel is partnered with Cray on this design for the half a billion USD super computer.

    • Career advice for engineers: Step away from the keyboard

      Over the course of my career, I’ve had two to three major mindset shifts in how I approach my work. At first, I just focused on engineering—trying to know the most about whatever language or libraries I was using, being very “trivia” focused, and ultimately ignoring the concerns of others in an effort to just write good code. This wasn’t to say I didn’t try to get along with my coworkers or help them out, but my efforts to improve were all about me; after all, the team and the company do better as I become better. And to be fair, this approach isn’t totally unfounded in its merits. As engineers, we must constantly evolve, learn more, and improve because the industry is getting harder with bigger problems that need more technical solutions every day. This approach worked well enough for me for the first half of my career, where I was junior enough to have such selfish (albeit well-meaning) motivations.

      Then I took a job where I worked with more engineers in one office than I had worked with in my entire career to date. This job nearly broke me. I went from being one of the better people in my role to barely scraping by… for nearly two years. I struggled to succeed, I constantly felt outclassed by the people around me, and many days I couldn’t figure out why they even hired me (a feeling, it turns out, that some of my co-workers shared). But there was no big epiphany, no single defining moment that turned it around. Just a series of hard, abject failures from which I had two choices—give up or learn and grow. I did my best to do the latter. As I moved back to a smaller startup, I saw firsthand just how important it is to cement a culture, from the ground up, based around these lessons.

      My final mindset shift happened when I transitioned into management after the startup was acquired by a larger company. I didn’t choose to be a manager; management chose me, in that I was offered the position. I was also told that, while everyone really believed in me, the ultimate reason they chose me was that they felt it would be less tumultuous to promote someone from within than hiring someone from outside. We had a very aggressive timeframe after the acquisition, and my new company didn’t want to risk things by bringing in an outside leader who didn’t have the team’s trust. I found that this phase reinforced everything I had learned before about being effective in an engineering role—and turned up the dial on how hard I need to apply these lessons every minute of every day.

    • Why you should take the jobs no one else wants

      So often, we describe open organizations as places overflowing with highly engaged people—places where leaders emerge spontaneously to tackle urgent problems, where people opt-in to challenging initiatives they know they can influence and drive, where teams act with initiative and few top-down mandates.

      And it’s all true. I see it regularly at Red Hat.

    • OpenShift 4 ISV Operators

      In Red Hat OpenShift 4, the Operator Hub provides access to community and certified operators that facilitate the deployment and configuration of potentially complex applications. In this video, we take a look at creating and scaling a Couchbase cluster using the operator shipped with OpenShift 4.

    • We did it again – Our HA solution is SAP Certified

      One of the main differences is that the new setup is now also supported for clusters with more than two nodes (n>2). We recommend to use an odd number of nodes to guarantee that always a majority of the cluster could proceed after cluster separations.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 5.0.3

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.0.3 kernel.

      All users of the 5.0 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.0.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.0.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.20.17
    • Linux 4.19.30
    • Linux 4.14.107
    • Linux 4.9.164
    • Dataspaces and Paging in L4Re

      The experiments covered by my recent articles about filesystems and L4Re managed to lead me along another path in the past few weeks. I had defined a mechanism for providing access to files in a filesystem via a programming interface employing interprocess communication within the L4Re system. In doing so, I had defined calls or operations that would read from and write to a file, observing that some kind of “memory-mapped” file support might also be possible. At the time, I had no clear idea of how this would actually be made to work, however.

      As can often be the case, once some kind of intellectual challenge emerges, it can become almost impossible to resist the urge to consider it and to formulate some kind of solution. Consequently, I started digging deeper into a number of things: dataspaces, pagers, page faults, and the communication that happens within L4Re via the kernel to support all of these things.

    • Virtio Network Device Failover

      Support for Virtio Network Device Failover which has been merged for linux 4.17 presents an interesting study in interface design: both for operating systems and hypervisors. Read on for an article examining the problem domain, solution space and describing the current status of the implementation.

    • Linux 5.1 will come with Intel graphics, virtual memory support, and more

      The team at Linux has put in a lot of efforts on Linux RC 5.1. Last week, Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, announced that the two-week long merge window for Linux 5.1 is finally coming to an end. The first Release Candidate of Linux kernel 5.1 is finally ready for testing.

      Let’s have a look at the changes and new features which will be coming in Linux RC 5.1.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Kodi Foundation Joins The Linux Foundation to Help Grow the Open Source Movement

        The Kodi Foundation was proud to announce today that it finally decided to join The Linux Foundation in their attempt to enrich the Open Source software ecosystem.

        As of today, The Kodi Foundation, the makers of the free, open-source, and cross-platform media center software known as Kodi (formerly XBMC), is now an Associate Member of The Linux Foundation in attempt to contribute their code to the Open Source software community and help similar projects evolve.

        “It seemed natural for us to join, given the fact that we are strong believers in the benefits of open-source software. We strongly believe that open-source is the best way to achieve awesome things. That was and still is what moves Kodi forward,” stated The Kodi Foundation in a press release.

      • The Kodi Foundation joined the Linux Foundation

        The Kodi Foundation is very proud to announce that it has joined the Linux Foundation as an Associate Member. It seemed natural for us to join, given the fact that we are strong believers in the benefits of open-source software.

        We strongly believe that open-source is the best way to achieve awesome things. That was and still is what moves Kodi forward. Ever since XBMP, where this project started, a small group of like-minded individuals from different backgrounds have worked together to achieve a goal, taking advantage of each other’s merits and talents.

      • Community Demos at ONS to Highlight LFN Project Harmonization and More

        A little more than one year since LF Networking (LFN) came together, the project continues to demonstrate strategic growth, with Telstra coming on in November, and the umbrella project representing ~70% of the world’s mobile subscribers. Working side by side with service providers in the technical projects has been critical to ensure that work coming out of LFN is relevant and useful for meeting their requirements. A small sample of these integrations and innovations will be on display once again in the LF Networking Booth at the Open Networking Summit Event, April 3-5 in San Jose, CA.

    • Graphics Stack
      • NVIDIA Shows Off Quake II Path-Traced Using Vulkan RTX/Ray-Tracing

        ne of the demos NVIDIA is showing off this week at their GPU Technology Conference is Quake II being path-traced using a Vulkan port of the game and adapted to handle VK_NV_ray_tracing functionality paired with the latest GeForce RTX GPUs.

        Q2VKPT is a path-traced version of Quake II started by a former NVIDIA intern and is rendered using Vulkan and does support Linux.

      • Orbital: A PlayStation 4 Emulator That Is Emulating The PS4′s AMD GPU Using Vulkan

        Orbital is an open-source project providing a virtualization-based PlayStation 4 emulator that is still in its early stages but what interests us is its technical details including the use of Vulkan/SPIR-V.

        Orbital leverages QEMU and other open-source components. At this stage it’s not running any PS4 games but is able to boot into safe mode on PS4 5.xx kernels.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • MATE 1.22 Released – Inching Towards Wayland Support, Better Systemd Integration

      MATE 1.22 features many updates around adapting MATE-Panel to work with Wayland, a full revamp was done to the MATE display widget, upgraded metacity-themes handling, the session manager now properly terminates all processes on systemd, more programs have been ported to Python 3, and a variety of other improvements. Some of the smaller changes include more keyboard shortcuts, more compression formats being supported by Engrampa, the Caja file manager can display desktop notifications on long-running file operations, and various bug fixes as well as translation updates.

    • MATE 1.22 Linux Desktop Is Here With Improvements And Fixes: Update Now

      The MATE project started as a fork of GNOME 2 long back in 2011 following the poor reception of GNOME 3. Since then, it has come a long way and the latest MATE 1.22 release continues to improve the different desktop components.

      The biggest change in this release is Wayland-related work. The developers have reworked tons of code to make sure that things work with the Wayland backend. Specifically, it involves a complete revamp of the display applet to control the monitor in a better way.

      [...]

      If you’re currently running some other desktop environment on your distro and you wish to try out MATE 1.22, you can follow their detailed guide on their website. For instance, you can install MATE in the following manner on Ubuntu.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Linux Distribution Review: elementary os

        In the world of Linux, there are a number of distros for various purposes. Some target the new Linux users, some target advanced users. Some of the distros are also for specific fields, for example, medical, science, and even hacking!
        Today, our topic of discussion is elementary OS. For general users, elementary OS is one of the finest distros out there. It aims to be modern, fast and beautiful without sacrificing simplicity and flexibility. You’ll find a ton of similarities with both Windows and MacOS, especially from MacOS. The interface and other tweaks mimic MacOS a lot.

        Currently, the latest version of elementary OS is version 5.0, codenamed Juno. It’s a BIG upgrade over the previous version Loki (version 0.4.1).

        Let’s check out the current latest elementary OS and what you can expect from it. It’s easy to grab and install in your machine right now! Learn how to install elementary OS.

    • Solus Screencasts
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • SUSE Inches Towards Independence

        SUSE has completed its move from Micro Focus to EQT, a growth investor firm. As the focus is shifting towards moving up in the stack, towards the cloud, there is a consolidation happening in the market. While Red Hat has become a unit of IBM, SUSE is heading towards becoming an independent entity, again.

        Many would argue that post-IBM acquisition of Red Hat, SUSE has become the ‘biggest’ Linux vendor. While Linux is still the core of SUSE business, the company has built a massive portfolio of emerging technologies like cloud, containers, and IoT.

        “Current IT trends make it clear that open source has become more important in the enterprise than ever before,” said SUSE CEO Nils Brauckmann. “Our genuinely open, open source solutions, flexible business practices, lack of enforced vendor lock-in and exceptional service are more critical to customer and partner organizations, and our independence coincides with our single-minded focus on delivering what is best for them.”

      • Managing Linux in the Cloud

        SUSE Manager extends the ideals of DevOps to the cloud environment, unlocking a world of rapid deployment and automation.

      • Where next for SUSE?

        Where next for SUSE? The company mentioned its independence no less than 12 times in a recent notice to the press. Flush with investor money, can the business finally steer its own ship to success?

      • SUSECON 2019: These Industry Kingpins Have Something to Say

        I really learned a lot at this event. The access to people who know their stuff is something I did not expect. They are really helpful!

        I loved it. It was interesting and fun. Very good to meet other people and exchange experiences.

    • Fedora
      • Contribution opportunity! Quick docs!

        Quick docs are meant to be short articles on the official Fedora documentation site that cover commonly used workflows/tools.

        Unlike wiki pages which are generally unreviewed, information on quick-docs follows the PR (peer-review + pull request) process. So the new information that is added there is more trustworthy and should be too, given that quick docs is listed on the official Fedora documentation website.

      • Introducing flat-manager

        A long time ago I wrote a blog post about how to maintain a Flatpak repository.

        It is still a nice, mostly up to date, description of how Flatpak repositories work. However, it doesn’t really have a great answer to the issue called syncing updates in the post. In other words, it really is more about how to maintain a repository on one machine.

        In practice, at least on a larger scale (like e.g. Flathub) you don’t want to do all the work on a single machine like this. Instead you have an entire build-system where the repository is the last piece.

    • Debian Family
      • Jonathan Carter: Running for DPL

        I am running for Debian Project Leader, my official platform is published on the Debian website (currently looks a bit weird, but a fix is pending publication), with a more readable version available on my website as well as a plain-text version.

        Shortly after I finished writing the first version of my platform page, I discovered an old talk from Ian Murdock at Microsoft Research where he said something that resonated well with me, and I think also my platform.

      • Derivatives
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Events
    • foss-north 2019: Training Day

      The 2019 incarnation of foss-north is less than a month away. This year we’re extending the conference in two directions: a training day and a community day. This time, I wanted to write about the training day.

      The training day, April 10, is an additional day for those who want to extend
      the conference with a day of dedicated training. I’m very happy to have two experienced and well known trainers on side: Michael Kerrisk and Chris Simmonds. Both has years of training experience.

      Michael will teach about the details in dynamic linking. The topic may seem trivial, but when you start scratching the surface, there are a lot of details to discover such as how to handle version compatibility, how symbol resolution really works, and so on. You can read more about the Building and Using Shared Libraries on Linux training here.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Open Source Doesn’t Make Money Because It Isn’t Designed To Make Money

        We all know the story: you can’t make money on open source. Is it really true?

        I’m thinking about this now because Mozilla would like to diversify its revenue in the next few years, and one constraint we have is that everything we do is open source.

        There are dozens (hundreds?) of successful open source projects that have tried to become even just modest commercial enterprises, some very seriously. Results aren’t great.

        I myself am trying to pitch a commercial endeavor in Mozilla right now (if writing up plans and sending them into the ether can qualify as “pitching”), and this question often comes up in feedback: can we sell something that is open source?

        I have no evidence that we can (or can’t), but I will make this assertion: it’s hard to sell something that wasn’t designed to be sold.

      • Today’s Firefox Aims to Reduce Your Online Annoyances

        Almost a hundred years ago, John Maynard Keyes suggested that the industrial revolution would effectively end work for humans within a couple of generations, and our biggest challenge would be figuring what to do with that time. That definitely hasn’t happened, and we always seem to have lots to do, much of it online. When you’re on the web, you’re trying to get stuff done, and therefore online annoyances are just annoyances. Whether it’s autoplaying videos, page jumps or finding a topic within all your multiple tabs, Firefox can help. Today’s Firefox release minimizes those online inconveniences, and puts you back in control.

      • This Week In Servo 127

        In the past week, we merged 50 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

      • Passwordless Web Authentication Support via Windows Hello

        Firefox 66, being released this week, supports using the Windows Hello feature for Web Authentication on Windows 10, enabling a passwordless experience on the web that is hassle-free and more secure. Firefox has supported Web Authentication for all desktop platforms since version 60, but Windows 10 marks our first platform to support the new FIDO2 “passwordless” capabilities for Web Authentication.

      • Firefox 66 Arrives – Blocks Auto-Playing Sounds, Hides Title Bar By Default For Linux

        Mozilla this morning released Firefox 66.0 as the latest version of their open-source, cross-platform web browser.

        Firefox 66.0 is now blocking automatically playing sounds, there is an improved search experience, a smoother scrolling experience, better performance for Firefox extensions, Pocket improvements, and there is also a Linux-specific fix around Firefox freezing when downloading files.

        Another notable change for Linux users is the system title bar is now hidden by default to match the GNOME design guidelines.

      • Version 66.0, first offered to Release channel users on March 19, 2019

        Firefox now prevents websites from automatically playing sound. You can add individual sites to an exceptions list or turn blocking off.

      • Firefox 66 Now Available, the Kodi Foundation Joins the Linux Foundation, Nextcloud Founder Writes Open Letter against the EU Copyright Directive, Tetrate Hosting First Server Mesh Industry Conference and SiFive Announces HiFive 1 Revision B Dev Board

        Mozilla announces the release of Firefox 66 this morning. With this new version, Firefox now prevents websites from playing sound automatically, has an improved search experience, smoother scrolling and much more. You can download Firefox from here.

      • Firefox 66 Released with Compatibility for GNOME Desktop, Improved Performance

        Mozilla released today the Firefox 66 web browser for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows with new features and various performance improvements.
        As you might already know from our previous reports, Firefox 66 is the first release of the web browser to hide the system title bar by default when running on top of the GNOME desktop environment. If you look at the screenshot attached below, you’ll see that Firefox now respects the GNOME guidelines and looks much better.

        Also for Linux users, the Firefox 66 release addresses an issue that prevented the web browser from downloading files without freezing. Furthermore, Mozilla improved the overall performance of its open-source web browser and reduced the crash rates to double the web content loading processes from 4 to 8.

        As far as the new features go, Firefox 66 implements a mechanism that blocks websites from automatically playing audio and video content, which can be very annoying in some situations. Mozilla gave users the ability to choose which websites will be allowed to play multimedia content by adding them to a whitelist.

  • BSD
    • DragonFlyBSD Looking To Pursue 64-Bit ARM Port With Code Bounty

      While NetBSD has more than a half-dozen tier-one supported architectures and dozens more of tier two ports, DragonFlyBSD has been largely centered on x86_64 since their dropping of 32-bit x86 a while ago. Arm has largely remained off their radar but there seems to be some growing interest around seeing DragonFlyBSD on AArch64.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Your guide to LibrePlanet 2019, March 23-24!

      Are you planning on joining us for LibrePlanet 2019, coming up this weekend, March 23-24, at the Stata Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)? If you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time — registration is open through Tuesday, March 19 at 10:00 EDT, and we also welcome walk-ins (space permitting)! Remember, students and Free Software Foundation (FSF) associate members get in gratis.

      We also hope you’ll join us for the Friday night open house at the FSF office, here in Boston — you can pick up your badge early to skip the line Saturday morning (more details below).

  • Public Services/Government
    • Will this new openness to open source heed past lessons?

      We set out to demonstrate how open source could work in the NHS for both vendors and users, and to dispel many of the myths that existed about open source. We created the NHS Open Source Foundation (now The Apperta Foundation), a not-for-profit designed to act as a custodian for quality assured NHS open source software, adapting the model developed by OSERA in the US for VistA.

      We identified a number of issues which we worked hard to address.

    • France’s economic council wants a greater European role for free software

      The European Union should encourage the use of free software, for example by setting quotas in public procurement and financing its development, says France’s Economic, Social and Environmental Council (Conseil économique, social et environnemental, or CESE). The constitutional consultative assembly sees free software, sharing and reuse as strategic parts of the European digital culture.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Release of Opinion Paper on Open Source and FRAND by OFA Fellow Simon Phipps

      The question if Open Source Software can be combined with a FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) regime is often at the centre of the debate. Possibly, this question though is not the deciding one, as such a legal compatibility would require that Open Source developers would collaborate under such a regime.

      OpenForum Europe is very excited to publish the Opinion Paper by OFA Fellow and President of the Open Source Initiative, Simon Phipps. In this paper Simon posits that the core issue of Open Source Software and FRAND is not a legal one, but that Open Source developers will not collaborate under a FRAND regime.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • SiFive Rolls Out RISC-V HiFive1 Rev B Development Platform, $49 USD With FE310-G002 SoC

        SiFive has announced an upgraded Freedom Everywhere SoC as well as the HiFive1 Revision B developer board using this FE310-G002 SoC.

        The HiFive1 Revision B isn’t to be confused with their HiFive Unleashed more that retails for $999 USD and is more akin to the traditional Arm developer boards we see that offer video output and other features. The HiFive1 is a mini development board without video output and can be connected to Arduino-compatible accessories and designed for real-time embedded use-cases. But this small embedded development board is available for $49 USD.

      • Lessons in Vendor Lock-in: 3D Printers

        One interesting thing about the hobbyist 3D printing market is that it was founded on free software and open hardware ideals starting with the RepRap project. The idea behind that project was to design a 3D printer from off-the-shelf parts that could print as many of its own parts as possible (especially more complex, custom parts like gears). Because of this, the first generation of 3D printers were all homemade using Arduinos, stepper motors, 3D-printed gears and hardware you could find in the local hardware store.

        As the movement grew, a few individuals started small businesses selling 3D printer kits that collected all the hardware plus the 3D printed parts and electronics for you to assemble at home. Later, these kits turned into fully assembled and supported printers, and after the successful Printrbot kickstarter campaign, the race was on to create cheaper and more user-friendly printers with each iteration. Sites like Thingiverse and YouMagine allowed people to create and share their designs, so even if you didn’t have any design skills yourself, you could download and print everyone else’s. These sites even provided the hardware diagrams for some of the more popular 3D printers. The Free Software ethos was everywhere you looked.

  • Programming/Development
    • Python 3.4.10 is now available

      Python 3.4.10 is the final release in the Python 3.4 series. As of this release, the 3.4 branch has been retired, no further changes to 3.4 will be accepted, and no new releases will be made. This is standard Python policy; Python releases get five years of support and are then retired.

    • Python 3.5.7 is now available
    • Python 3.5.7 and 3.4.10 released
    • Python 3.4.10 is now available

      On behalf of the Python development community, I’m proud–if slightly
      sad–to announce the availability of Python 3.4.10.

      Python 3.4.10 was released in “security fixes only” mode. It only
      contains security fixes, not conventional bug fixes, and it is a
      source-only release.

      Python 3.4.10 is the final release in the Python 3.4 series. As of this
      release, the 3.4 branch has been retired, no further changes to 3.4 will
      be accepted, and no new releases will be made. This is standard Python
      policy; Python releases get five years of support and are then retired.

      If you’re still using Python 3.4, you should consider upgrading to the
      current version–3.7.2 as of this writing. Newer versions of Python
      have many new features, performance improvements, and bug fixes, which
      should all serve to enhance your Python programming experience.

      We in the Python core development community thank you for your interest
      in 3.4, and we wish you all the best!

      You can find Python 3.4.10 here:

      https://www.python.org/downloads/release/python-3410/

      One I completely finish the Python 3.4.10 release process, I will retire
      as Python 3.4 Release Manager. I’ll still be Python 3.5 Release Manager
      for another eighteen months or so.

      Python 3.4 is OVER!

      //arry/

    • Python 3.5.7 is now available

      On behalf of the Python development community, I’m chuffed to announce
      the availability of Python 3.5.7.

      Python 3.5 is in “security fixes only” mode. It only accepts security
      fixes, not conventional bug fixes, and the release is source-only.

      And you can find Python 3.5.7rc1 here:

      https://www.python.org/downloads/release/python-357/

      Best wishes,

      //arry/

    • 20 Most Useful Tools for Programmers and Developers

      Programming can be a very hectic task, especially if you are handling a complex project. Sometimes even small projects can give you a hard time. Have you ever found yourself at the verge of giving up in the middle of a project?

      There are different programming tools that can simplify the coding process and improve your levels of productivity. Here are the 20 most helpful tools for programmers.

    • 10 Programming Languages That Are In Demand Among Top Hiring Companies

      Coding continues to be one of the most in-demand skills in the job market. Many professionals are considering getting into the field. Possessing the required skills in coding can open doors to some of the highest-paying jobs. One of the main questions that professionals have before getting started is about finding out which programming language to choose and what steps to take to get into coding. The best way to get started is by first understanding which languages are presently in demand, to make this easy online learning platform Simplilearn says that it has come up with a list of ten programming languages that developers and coding enthusiasts should look out for in 2019 to upskill themselves for a bigger paycheck and to excel at their job roles.

    • Google open-sources project for sandboxing C/C++ libraries on Linux

      Google has open-sourced today a project for sandboxing C and C++ libraries running on Linux systems. The project’s name is the Sandboxed API, a tool that Google has been using internally for its data centers for years.

      The Sandboxed API is now available on GitHub, together with the documentation needed to help other programmers sandbox their C and C++ libraries and protect them from malicious user input and exploits.

      For ZDNet users unfamiliar with the term, “sandboxing” refers to running an app or source code inside a “sandbox.”

    • What’s new in OpenMP 5.0

      A new version of the OpenMP standard, 5.0, was released in November 2018 and brings several new constructs to the users. OpenMP is an API consisting of compiler directives and library routines for high-level parallelism in C, C++, and Fortran programs. The upcoming version of GCC adds support for some parts of this newest version of the standard.

      This article highlights some of the latest features, changes, and “gotchas” to look for in the OpenMP standard.

    • Radicle – A P2P Stack for Code Collaboration

      Not too long ago I wrote an article about Codeanywhere, a cross-platform cloud IDE that features code collaboration. I recently came across an experimental project that is bound to change collaboration workflow and it goes by the name of Radicle.

      Radicle is a free and open-source P2P stack for code collaboration designed to be offline first, cryptographically secure, and programmable. It is written in a similarly-named programming language which is a deterministic Lisp derivative designed for creating P2P software.

      Radicle aims to transform the code collaboration experience by giving programmers a platform that encourages experimentation as they shape their workflow around specific contexts or projects.

    • Plotting the average directional movement index rating line with python
    • Get only the latest live match from NBA with python
    • Django Authentication — Login, Logout and Password Change/Reset
    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 13 – Bitwise Operators (Basics)
    • Qt 5.13.0 Beta1 released

      I am happy to announce that Qt 5.13.0 Beta1 is released today. As earlier we release updates as Beta N regularly until we are ready for RC. Current estimation for RC is 7th May 2019, see the schedule from 5.13 wiki.

      Beta1 (and later releases) can be installed by using online installer as usual. Commercial users can found online installer from their Qt Account and Opensource users from download.qt.io. We are not planning to blog next Beta releases or RC so please follow mailing lists to get the notification when new ones are available. And of course you can use maintenance tool’s update option to check if there is update already available.

    • Qt 5.13 Beta Released

      The first beta of the Qt 5.13 tool-kit update is now available for testing. The Qt Company still hopes to ship Qt 5.13.0 in May and for that to happen they will be issuing multiple betas until they are ready for the release candidate phase.

      Qt 5.13 is bringing Lottie support as a technical preview feature, experimental Qt WebAssembly, Qt 3D support for importing/exporting OpenGL texture handles, Wayland Compositor updates, Qt Automation enhancements, and a range of other features.

Leftovers
  • Hardware
    • Why foldable smartphones are more fad than forever devices

      I’ve been a part of many industries and, without fail, each industry eventually resorts to gimmicks to sell a product. In some instances, the gimmick convinces consumers that the new product and is the must-have of the industry.

      [...]

      The smartphone industry is no stranger to such snake-oil salesmanship. We’ve seen pop-up selfie cameras, Samsung Air View, built-in projectors, the HTC kickstand, the Amazon Fire Phone, the Ubuntu Phone, LG Modules, smart scroll, Alcatel disco lights, Blackberry Storm, Samsung edge display, KnockOn Password, HTC U11, and Pixel squeezable sides.

      The point being, the smartphone industry is keen on bringing to light a plethora of gimmicks to try and woo users away from their current devices.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • What’s the world’s most widely used herbicide doing to tiny critters?

      As the active ingredient in Bayer’s Roundup herbicide is increasingly scrutinized for human health impacts, scientists say it also could be altering the wildlife and organisms at the base of the food chain.

      Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in history. Farmers in 2014 sprayed enough of the chemical to cover every acre of cropland in the entire world with nearly a half-pound of the herbicide, according to a 2016 study published in Environmental Sciences Europe.

      Long thought to be relatively benign to non-target plants and animals, evidence is growing that glyphosate, the active ingredient of Roundup, may impact the metabolism, growth and reproduction of aquatic creatures and could be altering the essential gut bacteria of animals such as bees.

      Such impacts could have serious unexpected impacts on the tiny critters that form the base of the animal food chain, say environmental researchers, who warn the ecological impacts are likely to grow as glyphosate levels build up in the environment.

      “No herbicide in the history of the world has ever been used this heavily. It’s a completely unprecedented case,” Charles Benbrook, an agricultural economist and author of the 2016 study, told EHN.

    • Let Big Pharma Build the Wall

      Allow me to present a modest proposal that should serve to resolve all this anxiety and confusion about where to get the money to build THE WALL along our southern border with Mexico: Let Big Pharma build THE WALL.

      Seriously. This idea should make President Trump deliriously happy. It’s capitalism friendly. Everyone knows you can always trust business to do a better job than government (see Boeing 737 Max 8). Big Pharma has the money and none of the pesky budget problems that bog down our Democratic form of government. And they’ll have even more Benjamins if we follow up construction of a big beautiful wall with appropriate regulations to enable better management of cross border traffic.

      Here’s the thing. Walls serve two functions. Walls keep things/people out, and they keep things/people in. We already have 280 miles of vehicle fencing (that doesn’t stop people) and 374 miles of pedestrian fencing (that doesn’t stop determined people) along our 1,954 mile border with Mexico.

      Our current border security practices and the existing sections of wall are failing to keep people out, but they fail even more miserably at the second function of walls: keeping people in. Big Pharma can’t be happy about that.

      NPR cited a US government trade report that estimated nearly 1 million Californians travel to Mexico every year for healthcare services, including prescription drugs.

      Reportedly 9,000 US citizens cross the border every day from Yuma, Arizona, to Algodones, Mexico, where there is a pharmacy, dentist or eye doctor on every corner. Most of them presumably are not there to enjoy the scenery, which differs far less from the desolate environment on the US side of the border than the drug prices do.

    • 36 Beagles Saved as Controversial Pesticide Test Halted

      A controversial pesticide test that would have resulted in the deaths of 36 beagles has been stopped, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the company behind the test announced Monday. The announcement comes less than a week after HSUS made the test public when it released the results of an investigation into animal testing at Charles River Laboratories in Michigan.

      “We have immediately ended the study that was the subject of attention last week and will make every effort to rehome the animals that were part of the study,” Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDupont, said in a statement announcing its decision.

    • Pregnant women shouldn’t have to choose between a job and a healthy baby

      Pregnant women in low-income work often face an unappealing choice: lose their job or perform duties that endanger their health and that of their baby.

      Walmart, the biggest private employer in the U.S., is a case in point. In 2007, the retailer fired Heather Wiseman for carrying around a bottle of water – despite a doctor’s note saying it was necessary for her pregnancy. A decade later Walmart forced Whitney Tomlinson to take unpaid leave after she revealed her pregnancy-related lifting restrictions.

      These aren’t isolated cases. A 2018 New York Times investigation found that some of the largest American companies – including Walmart, AT&T, Merck and Whole Foods – “systematically sideline pregnant women,” “pass them over for promotions and raises” and “fire them when they complain.”

  • Security
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • US Huawei Blackballing Efforts Stall Due To Lack Of ‘Actual Facts’

      During the Trump era, the US government has dramatically ramped up claims that Chinese hardware vendor Huawei is a nefarious spy for the Chinese government, blackballing it from the U.S. telecom market. From pressuring U.S. carriers to drop plans to sell Huawei phones to the FCC’s decision to ban companies from using Huawei gear if they want to receive federal subsidies, this effort hasn’t been subtle.

      While Huawei should never be confused with a saint (what telecom company would be?) there’s several problems with the effort. The biggest being that despite a decade of hand-wringing and one eighteen month investigation by the US government, there’s still no public evidence Huawei uses its network gear to spy on Americans. That’s not sitting well with countries we’ve asked to join along in the fun.

    • Sorry, Linux. We know you want to be popular, but cyber-crooks are all about Microsoft for now

      Eight out of the ten most exploited vulnerabilities tracked by threat intelligence biz Recorded Future in 2018 targeted Microsoft products – though number two on its list was, surprise surprise, a Flash flaw.

      The most exploited vuln in the firm’s hall of shame was a remote code execution flaw in Windows’ VBScript engine that could pwn users who opened a booby-trapped web page with Internet Explorer.

      “Exploit kits associated with this vulnerability were noted to spread the malware Trickbot through phishing attacks,” said Recorded Future in a report published today.

      The Flash vuln was none other than one exploited by North Korean state-backed hackers – first detected by South Korea’s CERT, which discovered a flood of booby-trapped MS Office documents, web pages, spam messages and more.

    • Two-thirds of Android antivirus apps are worthless or worse

      Yes, you may as well change your wallpaper to say “no viruses allowed:” it’d be just as effective as the 170 antivirus products that detected fewer than 30 per cent of the 2000 malicious apps installed for testing purposes.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Tunisian Children Pay for Jihadist Parents’ Sins

      Truthdig is proud to present this article as part of its Global Voices: Truthdig Women Reporting, a series from a network of female correspondents around the world who are dedicated to pursuing truth within their countries and elsewhere.

      “I lost them forever. I can’t get my grandchildren back from Syria.”

      Tahia Sboui cries as she talks about her son’s children living in a Syrian camp after their father, a Tunisian Islamic State (IS) fighter, was killed. He had been fighting in Boukamal, a city in eastern Syria.

      Sboui, who lives in Kairouan in central Tunisia, tells the distressing story of how she fought for months to bring her grandchildren home but ultimately lost contact with them.

      Sboui’s grandchildren are among the estimated 200 Tunisian children and 100 Tunisian women detained in refugee camps and prisons in Libya, Syria and Iraq, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). A recent HRW report says these IS family members are being held in squalid—and sometimes violent—conditions and that “Tunisia officials have been dragging their feet on helping bring (them) home.”

      The Tunisian women and children are part of a larger problem that began in 2016 as IS started to suffer military defeats in the region. Currently, an estimated 2,000 children and 1,000 women from 46 nations are detained in Iraqi and Libyan prisons and in Syrian camps. Repatriating these detainees has been painfully slow—hampered by fear of terrorism at home and by a complex web of international relations.

    • The trials and travails of small business owners in Crimea, five years after annexation

      Five years ago, the boldest and bravest entrepreneurs from across Russia flooded Crimea. Shackled by international sanctions, most major businesses stayed away, and the new territory promised to be a land of opportunity for the go-getters undeterred. Existing local businesses also hoped for windfall profits, following annexation by Ukraine’s relatively wealthier neighbor. The past five years have shown, however, that the business climate today is bleaker not only than it was when Ukraine controlled the peninsula, but also in comparison to Russia on the other side of the Kerch Strait. Meduza visited Crimea to learn more about its business environment, and discovered that outsiders are still largely unwelcome.

    • White Nationalists Have Infiltrated the Military, Report Reveals

      Patrick Casey came to the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on a mission. Casey, Executive Director of Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group that was involved in the Unite The Right Rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, believes diversity is harmful to the United States and aims to create a “white supermajority.” He told NBC in an interview at CPAC that his organization aims to “To take over the GOP as much as possible.”

      If Identify Evropa hasn’t taken over the GOP as Casey hoped, his organization, HuffPost reports Monday, has made inroads in another key institution: the military. Seven members have been identified as Identity Evropa members, according to HuffPost’s investigation.

      HuffPost identified these members through leaked online chat logs from a server on Discord, a chat app popular among alt-right groups, which Identity Evropa members have used to communicate with each other for years. The independent media group Unicorn Riot first published the logs last week.

      In its investigation, HuffPost found that “Two Marines, two Army ROTC cadets, an Army physician, a member of the Texas National Guard and one member of the Air Force all belong to … Identity Evropa.”

      After Unicorn Riot released the chat logs, another anti-fascist collective, Identify Evropa, reviewed them and used biographical details from the posts, which were written under pseudonyms, to begin to determine their actual identities. HuffPost then used that research to continue its own, and verified the identities of seven service members. Their messages, HuffPost reporter Christopher Mathias writes, “indicate that they hold deeply racist and anti-Semitic views and participate in Identity Evropa propaganda campaigns, posting stickers and flyers in cities and on college campuses.”

    • The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save Brexit

      The prosecution of a single paratrooper for allegedly murdering two out of the 13 innocent civil rights marchers in Derry in 1972 has provoked inevitable criticism from knee-jerk defenders of the British army.

      They stubbornly refuse to admit that the greatest recruiting sergeant for the Provisional IRA during the Troubles were the killings carried out by British army troops on Bloody Sunday. The wounds in the nationalist community in Northern Ireland opened on that day have never closed and, thanks to the meagreness of the judicial response to the massacre, they never will do.

      “Massacre” is certainly the right word to use since the 12-year-long Saville Inquiry, published in 2010, concluded that none of the 28 people shot dead or wounded by the soldiers as they took part in a protest march against internment without trial posed any threat to those troops or “was armed with a firearm”.

      All this happened 47 years ago, but the delay was the result of a whitewash by the Widgery tribunal followed by decades of stone-walling by the government. The passage of time has not mitigated what happened or diminished its continuing effect on the present.

    • Truth, Freedom and Peace Will Prevail in Rwanda

      I would first like to thank the International Women’s Network for Democracy and Peace honouring me with this Award that bears the name of a great patriot and fighter for freedom, peace and democracy, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. But I would also like to congratulate the Network for its extraordinary work. Like Victoire, you and your work inspire us to keep the faith in this struggle. You are contagious and I thank very much for being so.

      In less than a month we will be commemorating the 25th anniversary of what was the worst terrorist attack of the 1990s, and what has become the biggest political and media scandal of the last quarter of a century. It is a scandal that gets worse every day that goes by.

      You know what I’m talking about: the shooting down on April 6, 1994 of the plane carrying two African heads of State and their entourage. If that plane had not been shot down, we would not be here; Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza would never have been jailed; and very likely Rwanda could have hoped to live in peace over the past 25 years, Rwanda and its neighbours, and particularly the Congo and Burundi.

      The crime committed was threefold. 1) the shooting down of the plane; 2) the cover-up and the lies about that crime; and 3) the unspeakably devastating consequences.

    • Venezuela Beneath the Skin of Imperialism

      Twenty-Five minutes into the Mission Impossible film starring Tom Cruise, there’s a scene of a high-jacked train. Amongst the high-jackers their conversation reveals an exquisite U.S. imperialistic Machiavellian monologue, past and present: “you are defined by who you hate” and “once you know who you hate, everything works.” It is probably one of the most defining mental state descriptions of the mode of operandi by U.S national security advisors towards Venezuela for the past 20 years.

      The application of hate as an instrument of control puts at risk; innocent, political neutral bystanders and everyone else. It is a stored surplus for any power-seeking malevolent intentions to acid strip away any reasonable doubt to question authority and imperial rule. It is the perfect rationale that best camouflages racism, bigotry, cruelty and vengefulness. Its coiled tension when released can cause irreversible damage. Hence, the grip of hate can evolve into violence and evil acts of destruction. It points to an emotional/calculating path of insanity that goes in many directions and can be as permanent as U.S Imperial hegemony with different levels of undiscriminating forms of punishment.

      The Jekyll and Hyde character of empires according to its national security excuses and interest will determine the degree of humane rights violations and destruction with no regrets or remorse what so ever. Past U.S presidents have made it very clear as did H.W Bush during an international incident, “I will never apologize for the United States of America. I don’t care what the facts are.” U.S Imperialism draws its adrenaline from the logic of a biblical syndrome as the chosen one to lead as a divine favor to the world. Not to say the least the rewards that come plundering and domination. The banality of hate normalizes everyday practices with justifications that conceal the inhibited ability to a face-to-face discussion without the vantage point of might or superiority.

      [...]

      The self-inflicting pain caused by U.S Imperialism is transferred over to the uncritical and consciously naïve citizen: the political neutral bystander, the innocent, and everyone else. Be it left or right, center left or center right, liberals and democrats the absence of an ethical complicity with any victim of empire ventures is complicit with its system. For hate allied with injustice, racism and depravation of basic human needs is a blinding factor that can and has subjected the innocent, the uncritical and consciousness naïve citizen to participate in direct or indirect horrendous acts of human rights violations by allowing it to happen. Under such circumstances hate can be best described when it crystalizes into what Arendt describes as the banality of evil.

      Imperial propaganda, its motives and its persuasive ways are hidden in the colonial details (fine print). There are plenty of historical facts that counter the conjured lies by unscrupulous governments. If anything, taking a closer look at the facts and moving away from any biases towards the global South in this case Venezuela, is an important step to take. It will assist our co- responsibility we owe to ourselves and to others with justice, truth, fairness and dignity for all.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Damage Deepens as Swollen Rivers Inundate Midwestern Towns

      Hundreds of homes flooded in several Midwestern states after rivers breached at least a dozen levees following heavy rain and snowmelt in the region, authorities said Monday while warning that the flooding was expected to linger.

      About 200 miles of levees were compromised — either breached or overtopped — in four states, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said. Even in places where the water level peaked in those states — Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas — the current was fast and the water so high that damage continued to pile up. The flooding was blamed for at least three deaths.

      “The levees are busted and we aren’t even into the wet season when the rivers run high,” said Tom Bullock, the emergency management director for Missouri’s Holt County.

    • Energy and Corporate Trade Associations Spend $1.4 Billion on PR Campaigns

      How much money have the fossil fuel industry’s powerful trade association allies spent to convince the American public that its products are beneficial and necessary — and to stymie progress on climate change that could harm its financial interests?

      To find out, Climate Investigations Center researchers analyzed the public relations expenditures of these trade associations going back to 2008, using data from publicly-available federal Form 990 tax records. The expenditures provide unique insight into fossil fuel trade association priorities and the willingness of public relations firms to represent socially harmful industries.

    • The day the Earth’s climate went berserk

      If you had been in what were then called the Dutch East Indies on 10 April 1815, the day would have been etched indelibly on your memory: it was the day the global climate went berserk.

      Many parts of the world are already feeling the effects of a changing climate. Island nations in the Pacific are seeing their lands eaten away by rising sea levels.

      Whole communities of people in Arctic regions are threatened by rapidly expanding ice melt. The foundations of houses are being swept away. Traditional hunting grounds are being lost.

      Wolfgang Behringer is a climate historian who seeks to draw parallels between what is going on now and events long ago. In particular Behringer, a professor of early modern history at Saarland University in Germany, looks at how changes in climate can influence and shape events – political, economic and social.

    • California Superbloom Is One Town’s #PoppyNightmare

      The hillsides dyed orange with poppies may look like something out of a dream, but for the Southern California town of Lake Elsinore, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare.

      The town of 66,000 people was inundated with around 50,000 tourists coming to snap pictures of the golden poppies growing in Walker Canyon as part of a superbloom of wildfires caused by an unusually wet winter, BBC News reported. The visitors trampled flowers and caused hours of traffic, The Guardian reported.

    • Fire Continues at Texas Petrochemical Plant as Company’s History of Violations Gets Renewed Scrutiny

      A petrochemical plant near Houston continued to burn for a second day on Monday, raising questions about the quality and safety of the air.

      The Deer Park facility is owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), which said the fire broke out at roughly 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Seven tanks are involved, the company said, and they contain naptha, xylene, “gas blend stocks” and “base oil.”

      “It’s going to have to burn out at the tank,” Ray Russell, communications officer for Channel Industries Mutual Aid, which is aiding the response effort, said at a news conference. It could take “probably two days” for that to happen, he added.

    • Rigorous Report Proves Lack of Need for Williams Fracked Gas Pipeline
  • Finance
    • An Indian Software Firm Calls $480 Million Hostile Bid a ‘Grave Threat’

      India is witnessing its first hostile takeover attempt of a software developer, a move the target says is a “grave threat” to its future.

      Larsen & Toubro Ltd., Asia’s second-largest engineering firm by value, agreed to buy 20.3 percent of Mindtree Ltd. for about 32.7 billion rupees ($480 million) and plans to acquire a controlling stake for as much as 107.3 billion rupees. V.G. Siddhartha, the largest shareholder in Mindtree through Coffee Day Enterprises and affiliated entities, agreed to sell the original stake for 980 rupees apiece.

    • Ola Raises $300 Million to Step Up Battle With Uber in India

      The deal values Ola at about $6 billion, said a person familiar with the matter, asking not to be named because the figures are private. The Bangalore-based company, which had been valued at $4.3 billion according to CB Insights, will continue to raise funds and has term sheets from other investors, the person said. Last month, Ola announced an investment of more than $90 million from Sachin Bansal, co-founder of local e-commerce pioneer Flipkart Online Services Pvt.

    • New Jersey becomes second state to ban cashless shops and restaurants

      On Monday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill banning cashless retail stores and restaurants in the Garden State. Murphy’s signature makes New Jersey the second state in the US to ban cashless stores, after Massachusetts banned them in 1978.

      More recently, New Jersey’s move follows that of Philadelphia, which banned cashless stores earlier this month. Philadelphia’s legislation was a reaction to a growing number of stores that only accept credit cards or require customers to pay with an app, like Amazon’s new Amazon Go stores.

    • Socialism Curiously Trumps Fascism in U.S. Political Threat Reporting

      Don Veto Trumpleone was saying in not-so veiled ways that efforts to impeach or un-elect him will be met with white police- and military-state violence and carnage from right wing-thugs. If “the Left” (as FOX News and the Republicans absurdly describe everyone to the portside of Mitch McConnell) tries to remove him from office through constitutional means, Trump was boasting, then forces of repression and right-wing aggression will rightly come to his defense

      This warning was consistent with Trump’s toxic history of promoting violence against his political enemies. It matches his creepy embrace of authoritarian rulers around the world and his longstanding suggestion that any effort to bring an end his presence in the White House would be illegitimate. From the beginning of his presidency, Trump has been using the hoax of immigrant voter fraud to set up a cancellation of the 2020 election or a refusal to recognize its results.

      His ugly Ameikaner base will back any such moves.. More than half (52%) of Americans who identify as or lean Republican would support postponing the 2020 election “to ensure that only eligible citizens could vote if it was proposed by President Trump.” (The mendacious neoliberal warmonger Hillary Clinton wasn’t all wrong when she called the president’s backers “a basket of deplorables.”)

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • In a First, Palestinians Challenge Israel’s Settlement Enterprise—in a US Court

      Airbnb has yet to implement that policy, as listings in dozens of Israeli settlements offering “biblical views,” a “rustic caravan,” and a “Judean desert lookout” are still active. However, this has not deterred the settlers from pursuing their suit, which is directed at the company’s intention to take down the listings. The settlers argue that removing their listings would violate their right, as Jews or Israelis, under the US Fair Housing Act, to serve either as rental hosts or renters. The Fair Housing Act, a critical piece of civil-rights-era legislation passed in 1968, prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of national origin, religion, ethnicity, gender, and other protected categories of identity.

    • Is Beto O’Rourke Learning How To Troll The Media?

      Roughly two hours later, O’Rourke’s campaign announced that it had raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours after launch — more than any other Democratic candidate including Sen. Bernie Sanders, who raised $5.9 million.

      Presumably, this was intentional on the O’Rourke campaign’s behalf. Having some good news in its pocket, it waited to announce its fundraising haul until a busier news cycle (Monday morning instead of Friday afternoon) and until the media narrative surrounding his launch had begun to overextend itself. O’Rourke’s $6.1 million in fundraising is important unto itself — more money allows a campaign to hire more staff, open more field offices, run more ads and compete in more states — but it sounded like an even bigger deal to journalists who had begun to hear whispers of fundraising totals that would fall well below that.

    • Has Media Literacy Been Hijacked?

      “What are they doing here?” The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) and NewsGuard were listed as exhibitors at the 2019 International Critical Media Literacy Conference (ICMLC) in Savannah, Georgia, last month. NewsGuard is a for-profit venture aimed at tackling fake news through a browser extension (already on Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome) that rates a news outlet’s trustworthiness based on crowd-sourcing. NAMLE is the largest media literacy organization in the United States. Both share a dependence on corporate funding. NAMLE is currently collaborating with Google and others on MediaWise, a “research-based curriculum to be taught in classrooms and a teen-led fact-checking initiative.” NewsGuard, a project started by Steven Brill, founder of the American Lawyer magazine, and Gordon Crovitz, a former publisher of the Wall Street Journal, relies on investment from corporations and foundations. Critical scholars are typically suspicious of the conflicts of interest that result from corporate funding. Thus, NAMLE and NewsGuard’s presence at ICMLC, which is partially due to the inclusive nature of ICMLC, was surprising as it was indicative of a larger effort to hijack media literacy in the United States.

    • In The NOW and CNN

      In this Project Censored Show we discuss how the video-news service In The Now had its Facebook page suspended after a CNN story accused the host of being biased in favor of Russian government positions due to receiving funding from RT. We discuss why CNN tried to hamper another news organization?

    • Time for Change at NewsGuild?

      The 21,000-member NewsGuild, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), is a rarity in organized labor. It’s one of the few national unions that lets all members vote for its top officers, instead of choosing them at a convention limited to local union delegates.

      Unfortunately, this democratic union, which has recently experienced major growth, may be dimming its luster among journalists in newly organized workplaces by excluding some from a leadership vote that begins this week.

      The good news is that 3,000 staff members of sixty publications or “new media” outlets have won the right to negotiate with management in the last four years.The bad news is that two-thirds of them are still engaged in protracted struggles for a first contract, at papers like the Los Angeles Times.

    • To Ensure Every Vote Counts, Elizabeth Warren Says Amend the Constitution and ‘Get Rid of the Electoral College’

      During a CNN town hall Monday night in Mississippi—where GOP laws and suppression tactics have disproportionately harmed black voters—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said the best way to strengthen voting rights nationwide is to amend the U.S. Constitution and abolish the Electoral College.

      “I believe we need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and to make sure that vote gets counted,” the Massachusetts senator and 2020 presidential contender said to applause. “We need to put some federal muscle behind that, and we need to repeal every one of the voter suppression laws that [are] out there right now.”

      “We need to make sure that every vote counts….Come a general election, presidential candidates don’t come to places like Mississippi,” Warren continued. “My view is that every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College, and every vote counts.”

    • GAO Urges Federal Government to Reveal Key Information on Political Appointees

      The Government Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog agency, is urging the federal government to make information about thousands of political appointees — including their names, titles and federal salary disclosures about their assets, debts and past salaries — publicly available. The GAO’s report, which was released Friday, noted that ProPublica’s Trump Town is the only place people can access much of this information.

      The report portrayed such information as crucial to holding appointees to high standards. “Strong ethics programs are critical to ensuring public trust in government and the integrity of actions taken on the public’s behalf,” it states. “Political appointees, in particular agency heads, have a personal responsibility to exercise leadership in ethics. … [M]embers of the public need access to information on who is serving in political appointee positions. Otherwise, they are limited in their ability to discern whether appointees are performing their duties free of conflict.”

    • Day of Wrath

      I continue to see this repackaged antisemitism appearing everywhere, but perhaps most disturbingly on the left. And it seems tied into a growing cultic response regards the multiple environmental crises. And thirdly, I see the retreat, from so many on the left, to a tacit or even overt endorsement of Democratic Party candidates or office holders. Often from people who claimed they were done with the Democrats, wanted to see them destroyed, etc. But are now describing the new “socialist” (sic) dems as, well… socialist. Suddenly, Tulsi or Omar or AOC are treated with comfortable amnesia. It is more proof, if any were needed, that marketing and advertising works.

      There is no hope in anyone who cannot unequivocally reject all US actions against Venezuela. Unequivocally means stopping the liberal slandering of Maduro. He is the elected president. He represents Venezuela. He has also presided during a time of near constant pressure from U.S. funded and backed fascist opposition. Not to even mention sanctions. All the “mistakes” liberals claim Maduro has made were reactions to either covert attempts at destabilization, or outright assaults on his life. The U.S. has been attacking Venezuela for 18 years, and for the entirety of Maduro’s presidency. But still, there is a constant liberal commentary about his “mistakes”, how he has created chaos and poverty. This is another example of that casual unconscious racism for which the American bourgeoisie is so famous.

      It is time to demand this faux left stop the revanchist position of white saviour — of knowing what decisions to make. I cannot find words for how sick I am of the condescending and subtle but indelible racism of white American liberals. No more perfect stage for this subject position can be found than Maduro and the Bolivarian revolution. And for the record none of the Democrats listed above passed the Venezuela test.

      So why do so many on the left flock to these manufactured sheepdogs of the DNC? AOC and Omar and Bernie have all called Maduro a dictator, and all mediated their anti intervention remarks (some retracting them) with calls for “empowering” the Venezuelan people (because, I guess, voting in free elections is not empowering). All endorse the idea that the U.S. in its strategies for Venezuela, have only good intentions. In fact both Omar and AOC have smeared all official US enemies, from Maduro to Assad to Iran. They are imperialists who have no problem with the slaughter of the global south. They are unambiguously pro Imperialist.

    • Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention

      Still smarting from their Wisconsin gubernatorial loss, Scott Walker’s chief publicist/polemicist, Christian Schneider, advanced an Op-Ed last week in the Washington Post in response to the Democratic Party’s Milwaukee placement of their 2020 convention. The Op-Ed reads like an attempt to position Walker for a political comeback. Milwaukee’s convention threatens Walker’s political future, because despite Milwaukee’s failings, many parts of the city are presently thriving. Walker built his political brand attacking Milwaukee’s progressive past and blowing hard into his dog whistle that called racist voters to his side. John Dean, Richard Nixon’s former chief counsel has called Scott Walker “more Nixonian than Nixon.” A humorless man bereft of the vices that make people interesting, Walker only knows and cares about the algebra of power. It is clear his only goal is to recapture political office. Having only barely lost the 2018 gubernatorial contest by 30k votes, he sees his return readily within reach. The Democrats’ convention will counter his narrative of a city taking the rest of the state down that Walker has disgracefully crafted in the past. Thus, last week, in a typical Nixonian move, Schneider was given the task of taking down the convention, thus leaving Walker above the fray to smile and declare the news of the convention good for the city.

      Scheider’s Washington Post Op-Ed attacking Milwaukee and the convention presented 3 themes: 1) Wisconsin leans conservative, not progressive, therefore don’t expect this convention to do the Democrats any favors for the 2020 Presidential contest. 2) Governor Walker delivered a set of policy victories that show progressive policies will be unpopular in Wisconsin. 3) That Scott Walker should take the victory lap for landing the Dems’ 2020 convention, since he supported funding construction of the conference venue.

    • Turning Algeria Into a Necrocracy

      These are wealthy men with a coterie of friends in both the army and the millionaire-heavy merchants who have villas in Switzerland and apartments in central Paris. And they all know of the crimes beyond description to which the “pouvoir” is heir. They have the files. Men associated with the dreadful years of the 1990-98 civil war – the “eradicateur” General Toufiq, for example – have already been pushed aside with the help of Said Bouteflika.

      So for the moment, Bouteflika must be kept alive. Does he wish to be? It scarcely matters. He must be kept alive until the succession is decided – through a glass darkly – by those around him.

      Support free-thinking journalism and subscribe to Independent Minds

      If there are moments of full sanity, we must assume that perhaps power still has the effect of rejuvenating those who are politically dead. But why did Mubarak hold on when millions of Egyptians demanded his removal? Why do these wretched men not retire, gently, diplomatically, in a dignified way? They surely do not fear death. Presidents attract assassins. Retired presidents do not.

    • ‘Why Educate the Public When You Can Give Billionaires Tax Cuts’: Trump Budget Would Slash All Federal Funding for Media, Arts, Libraries, Museums

      “For the third time in as many years, the White House has proposed a federal budget that would shutter the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting—which supports PBS and NPR—and the Institute of Museum and Library Services,” the Washington Post reported on Monday. “Like last year, the plan provides small appropriations for each agency to facilitate its orderly demise.”

      Framed by the Trump White House as “wasteful or unnecessary spending,” the budget’s proposed cuts to the arts, libraries, and humanities programs would total $897 million.

    • After 30 years in power, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev is resigning

      Nursultan Nazarbayev, the first and only president Kazakhstan has ever known, announced in a national address on Tuesday that he is resigning from office.

      “I have decided to terminate my powers as president. This year will mark 30 years I have spent at our nation’s highest post. The people gave me the opportunity to be the first president of an independent Kazakhstan,” he said, according to the news agency Interfax.

    • Republicans Who Voted Against Trump Are Not “Heroes”

      It has been a bruising run of days for Donald Trump. It began last Thursday with kicks to both kidneys, delivered by a cadre of his Republican Snuggle Bunnies in the House and Senate. The first, from the House, was a rare and resounding show of unity from that chamber when they passed a nonbinding demand that the Mueller report be made public.

      The motion was carried by a thumping margin of 420-0, yet still had to gum its food for lack of teeth — but even its purely symbolic nature was still too powerful for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who blocked the demand upon its arrival in the Senate. Why? He wants another investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails first, because of course he does.

      Later that day, 12 Republican senators broke ranks and voted with every Democrat to nullify Trump’s emergency declaration, joining the 13 House Republicans who also voted with the Democrats to nullify it. Trump, in response, threw a tantrum that was incredible even by his lofty standards. In an aftermath interview with Breitbart, he went so far as to threaten the political left with violence from police, soldiers and biker gangs because he didn’t get his way.

      White supremacist terrorism in New Zealand derailed his rant, affording Trump the opportunity to offer victims of that attack something he called “warmest sympathy” (“thoughts and prayers” are apparently only available to stateside victims of white supremacist terrorism). The vote, however, stood, and Trump quickly deployed the first veto of his administration. Personally, I hope it tasted like ashes.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Etinosa: I’ll not cut my live video because somebody decided to go naked – MC Galaxy

      “Please, I beg you don’t call in naked because I won’t cut my live video because of you so please.

    • Devin Nunes sues Twitter for letting ‘Devin Nunes’ Mom’ and ‘Devin Nunes’ Cow’ insult him

      According to Nunes, Twitter’s importance gives it “a duty to exercise ordinary and reasonable care” in policing defamation. “Twitter’s use of its platform as a portal for defamation by political operatives and their clients runs contrary to every tenet of American democracy,” the suit says. “A candidate without Twitter is a losing candidate. The ability to use Twitter is a vital part of modern citizenship,” because “Twitter is not merely a website: it is the modern town square.” He’s requesting $250 million in damages for Twitter’s alleged negligence.

    • GOP Rep. Devin Nunes sues Twitter for $250 million

      Shadow banning is described as purposely making a user’s content undiscoverable to everyone except the original poster, without their knowledge; Twitter had repeatedly denied ever shadow banning any user. His lawyers allege Nunes was shadow banned in 2018 “in order to restrict his free speech,” adding that access to Twitter “is essential for meaningful participation in modern-day American democracy” and a “candidate without Twitter is a losing candidate. The ability to use Twitter is a vital part of modern citizenship.”

    • 76 per cent of Brits have no idea about impending porn block

      Yougov, the polling firm that brought us surveys on such hot button issues as how Santa would vote and whether eating breakfast cereal for dinner is weird has brought out another key insight: 76 per cent of the population is blissfully unaware of the incoming turbulence to their busy masturbating schedule.

      Interestingly, that includes a slight majority in those who consume online porn “every or most days” (47-53) and those who enjoy mucky movies one-to-three times per week (48-52). Presumably the latter are slightly better informed, as they use those extra hours to pick up a newspaper.

    • Jeremy Wright needs to act to avert disasters from porn age checks

      The government rejected Parliamentary attempts to include privacy powers over age verification tools, so DCMS have limited possibilities right now. Last summer, BBFC consulted about their draft advice to website operators, called Guidance on Age Verification Arrangements. That consultation threw up all the privacy concerns yet again. BBFC and DCMS agreed to include a voluntary privacy certification scheme in response.

      Unfortunately, there are two problems with this. Firstly, it is voluntary. It won’t apply to all operators, so consumers will sometimes benefit from the scheme, and sometimes they won’t. It is unclear why it is acceptable to government and the BBFC that some consumers should be put at greater risk by unregulated products.

      There is nothing to stop a an operator from leaving the voluntary scheme so it can make its data less private, more shareable, or more monetisable. It’s voluntary, after all.

    • Cook County Judge Blocks ProPublica Illinois From Publishing Details of Child Welfare Case

      In an unusual move, a Cook County Juvenile Court judge has barred ProPublica Illinois, as well as other media, from publishing any information that could identify families involved in a child welfare case.

      Patricia Martin, presiding judge of the child protection division of juvenile court, issued the order Thursday forbidding news organizations from publishing the names, addresses or any demographic information that would identify the children or the foster parents in a case ProPublica Illinois has been investigating — a rare instance of a judge acting prior to publication.

      Martin has scheduled arguments on her order barring publication for April 5.

      The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a First Amendment right to publish without government interference in numerous cases.

      Martin issued her order in response to a motion from Bruce Boyer, a professor at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law and director of the Civitas ChildLaw Clinic, where attorneys, with assistance from law students, represent children in child protection cases and other matters.

      Boyer represents the children involved in the case ProPublica Illinois is investigating. He told the judge he wants to protect their privacy. Martin, in her order, also has blocked all media from court proceedings in the case.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Nearly 40 advocacy groups press lawmakers over NSA call records program

      Nearly 40 civil rights and civil liberties groups on Monday pressed lawmakers to end the controversial National Security Agency (NSA) call records program and look into whether the government is abusing its other broad surveillance authorities.

      Privacy activists have long argued that elements of the USA Freedom Act — which allows the government to access records on U.S. citizens without a warrant during terrorism investigations — should not be reauthorized.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Puzzling number of men tied to Ferguson protests have died

      Two young men were found dead inside torched cars. Three others died of apparent suicides. Another collapsed on a bus, his death ruled an overdose.

    • 1 Year After Uber’s Fatal Crash, Robocars Carry On Quietly

      And now more than ever, the denizens of this blooming ecosystem are quick to emphasize the difficulty of making their technology work. That the vehicles have to be safe not just when they’re ready for commercial service, but while they’re testing.

    • The Saudi hit squad linked to the Khashoggi murder reportedly asked for a performance-related bonus for torturing and kidnapping so many people

      The hit squad’s day-to-day duties included the kidnap, detention, and torture of critical Saudi clerics, intellectuals, and activists, the officials said.

    • Federal Court Blocks Washington State’s Unconstitutional Cyberstalking Law

      When legislators craft unconstitutional laws, it’s a safe bet the first people to abuse them will be members of the government. We’ve seen this happen with outdated criminal defamation laws and the new wave of “Blue Lives Matter” legislation. Attempts to curb online evils like cyberbullying and revenge porn tend to disregard the First Amendment. If they’re not challenged, they go on to be tools deployed by government officials to silence critics.

      That’s what happened in the state of Washington. A vociferous government critic found himself targeted by a displeased politician who used the state’s cyberstalking law to obtain a very restrictive protective order to silence his online nemesis. As the federal court notes in its decision [PDF], the speech the critic engaged in is the very reason for the First Amendment’s existence.

    • Why Unions Matter to You

      As I travel around the country, I tell people: if you have a job, join a union. And if you don’t have a union, start one.

      You see, it all comes down to the balance of power between business and workers.

      You strengthen the middle class by strengthening unions.

      In the mid-1950s, unions were strong, and wages grew in tandem with the economy. Nearly one third of all workers in the United States were unionized.

      This gave workers across America – even those who weren’t unionized – significant power to demand and get better wages, hours, benefits, and working conditions.

      Yet starting in the 1980s and with increasing ferocity since then, private-sector employers have fought against unions.

    • Women Marchers and Absentees

      A week ago I walked over to Berlin’s central square, Alexanderplatz (nick-named “Alex”) to join in observing International Women’s Day. Berlin, alone among Germany’s 16 states, has declared it a paid holiday, compensating for the fact that the city-state has fewer religious holidays than all the others. A third of the city was once part of the (East) German Democratic Republic, which always marked the day; that may also have contributed to the decision. This was its first year.

      There have already been attempts to commercialize it, á la Mother’s and Father’s Day. But maybe not here at Alex, I reflected: perhaps more would now hear of the German Socialist (and later Communist) Clara Zetkin, a champion of women’s rights (and for all working people), who played a major role in getting a special day of militancy designated in Copenhagen in 1910. A few might even learn of its inspiration – a strike by ten thousands of brutally exploited needle-trades workers in New York in 1908, mostly Jewish immigrant women, who defied weeks of hunger and police violence.

      Frankly, I expected a rally like so many I had joined: for Mumia Abu Jamal, the Easter Peace Marches against war and weapon shipments, against a Trump-Bolton-Adams putsch against Venezuela – with many recognizable friends and fellow fighters, the dedicated “old faithful”, often well-on in years – a courageous bunch but far too few!

      Then – what a surprise! The wide square was jammed with thousands and thousands, mostly young women, maybe 20 % young males, and only a light seasoning of grayheads and graybeards. During an hour’s wait before marching off with sound trucks and big banners I squeezed through the crowd, hunting for a familiar face. I finally found another old-timer, a refugee from Pinochet’s Chile who settled here. Always active, she was currently busy fighting right-wing attempts to seize Berlin’s Venezuelan Embassy. But she took part today, and we were glad to meet.

    • “Lords of Chaos” Brings a White Nationalist’s Book to the Big Screen

      While it happened throughout Europe and the U.S., it was particularly strong among the völkisch movements in Germany that were trying to wrestle with identity around a newly formed nation and a reaction from the countryside to the homogenizing influence of urban life and advancing industrial technology.

      Heathenry, the pagan religions of Germany and Nordic regions, was imbued with a new significance not possible before the modern concept of race took hold. Through this, the Germanic gods were seen as archetypes for the genetic kin of Northern Europe, and monstrosities like the rise of the Third Reich were a certain Odinic spirit taking over the psyche of its people.

    • Blowing the whistle on sexual violence by Hirokawa Ryuichi, a prominent Japanese human rights journalist

      “Those who have power invariably attempt to conceal their victimization, so it is a journalist’s job to go and report to the whole world what they are hiding,” veteran photojournalist Hirokawa Ryuichi said in an interview with author Ochiai Keiko in the Spring, 2019 edition of Tsuhan Seikatsu.1 Tsuhan Seikatsu is a triannual magazine published by mail-order company Catalog House that often runs politically progressive articles on topics such as nuclear power and militarism.

      Ironically, the issue appeared shortly after weekly Shukan Bunshun (January 3 & 10, 2019) went on sale on December 26, 2018. There, journalist Tamura Hideharu, a former Asahi Shimbun reporter, published an article that presented seven women’s testimonies concerning sexual harassment and sexual violence by Hirokawa, the founder of the photojournalism monthly DAYS JAPAN.2 Hirokawa was long a charismatic figure in the realm of progressive journalism. Now, for the first time, journalist Tamura has been able to tell the world what Hirokawa has been hiding.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Myspace apparently lost 12 years’ worth of music, and almost no one noticed

      Myspace has apparently lost most or all of the music files uploaded by its users before 2015, and it told users that the data was corrupted beyond repair during a server migration. Myspace apparently admitted the problem to concerned users seven or eight months ago, but so few people noticed that there wasn’t any news coverage until the past 24 hours.

      Myspace, the once-mighty social networking site, has existed since 2003 but has been fading into obscurity for the past decade. Many musicians used to rely on Myspace to spread their music, and over the years it hosted 53 million songs from 14.2 million artists.

    • MySpace loses all music uploaded between 2003 to 2015 after server migration

      Onetime social networking pioneer MySpace has fessed up to losing all the music its users uploaded between 2003 and 2015.

      The data loss followed a server migration, with the company admitting the loss on its website admitting that “any photos, videos and audio files” more than three years old are probably gone for good.

    • China’s great firewall and the war to control the internet

      But more and more, people who develop or distribute software for tunnelling through the firewall are being arrested. The crackdown is largely down to China’s president Xi Jinping.

  • DRM
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Will Brexit have an effect on pending litigation?

      It seems to be a more and more realistic scenario that the UK may leave the European Union on March 29, 2019 without an agreement. A lot has been written about the ef-fect of such a “hard Brexit” on trade in general and –more interesting to us working in the patent field- on the future of the Unified Patent Court. But what effect, if any, will it have on litigation, in particular litigation which is already pending in Germany?

      In Germany, the loosing party has to reimburse the winner the costs of the litigation i.e. statutory attorney’s (and patent attorney’s) fees and court fees. Although in com-parison to other jurisdictions German the costs of patent infringement litigation is considered to be rather reasonable, nevertheless the overall exposure to costs over three instances can be quite significant, it can exceed 1 Million Euro.

      The cost award as such is part of a judgement on the merits. The sum to be reimbursed will be determined in a separate cost reimbursement proceeding which eventually will result in an enforceable court order (Kostenfestsetzungsbeschluß).

    • Trademarks
      • Monster Energy Loses Trademark Opposition As UK IPO Mentions That The Letter ‘M’ Isn’t Distinctive

        Monster Energy: is there no trademark opposition they can’t lose? The drink company, which might be more well known at this point for its trademark bullying than its beverages, has been handed loss after loss after loss after loss in trademark oppositions to everything from industrial paint manufacturers to the NBA and on to other beverage companies. Why the company spends so much time opposing trademarks is literally anyone’s guess, but the losses all amount to the complete lack of potential confusion in the disputed trademark applications, as well as Monster Energy believing it can control words and images that it most certainly cannot.

        The latest of these, in yet another opposition Monster Energy lost, has the UK’s IPO explaining to Monster Energy that it cannot prevent other companies from using the letter “M” prominently in their logos.

        [...]

        I continue to be baffled as to how paying all of these billable hours, or the salaries and benefits for the in-house legal team, just to handle the load of trademark oppositions that routinely end up as losses, makes any financial sense.

      • Bad faith in registering a trademark when there was a pre-existing relationship and the registrant “hijacked” the mark

        The issue of bad faith in connection with trademark prosecution is a vexing one that continues to challenge practitioners in various jurisdictions. Kat friend Shawn Poon reports on a recent example, this time from Singapore.

    • Copyrights
      • 8 Best Kodi Alternatives In 2019 For Streaming Movies And TV Shows

        The XBMC-owned Kodi is quite popular amongst cord cutters as a media player that also doubles up as a free streaming app thanks to the large number of add-ons available for it. Kodi is known for its media playback capabilities and the options it provides for managing libraries. However, it disappoints in the interface which looks rather boring and lacks elements to make the media player snappy.

        XBMC recently released Kodi 18 Leia, which brings improvements in playback functionality and a couple of other exciting features, but not many changes have been introduced to the interface. If you’re someone who is searching for a replacement to watch free movies and TV shows, here are the best Kodi alternatives that you can install in 2019.

      • As Recording Industry Announces Massive Growth, Why Do We Need Article 13 Again?

        A key claim by those who support Article 13 is that it’s necessary to get “fair compensation” for artists on the internet. Whenever more specifics are needed, supporters almost always point to musicians, and talk about “the value gap” and how internet companies are taking all the money and recorded music has been destroyed by the internet and all of that. And, of course, if you’ve followed the rhetoric in the last 20 years since the introduction of Napster, you’d believe that the recorded music business is in a never-ending death spiral. Of course, as we’ve pointed out, the “recorded music business” is just one segment of the larger music business, and nearly all other aspects of it (especially live music) have continued to grow pretty consistently each year.

        But, a funny thing has happened in the past few years that undermines the doom and gloom message: the recorded music business has been growing. Rapidly. And it’s entirely due to the internet and all of the various services that the RIAA had been slamming for years. Indeed, it did seem notable when the RIAA put out its latest revenue numbers for 2018, showing the incredibly rabid growth over the past four years of the recorded music business.

      • ISP Grande Loses Safe Harbor Over ‘Utter Failure’ to Terminate Pirating Customers

        Texas-based Internet provider Grande Communications has no right to a safe harbor defense in its case against several RIAA backed record labels. The ruling from the Texan federal court puts the ISP at a severe disadvantage for the upcoming trial, where it’s accused of being liable for copyright infringements allegedly committed by its users.

      • Reddit Admins Issue Formal Warning to /r/piracy, Totally Out of the Blue

        After never directing a single complaint to the popular /r/piracy discussion forum, Reddit Legal has now issued its moderators with an official warning concerning its future. Almost no evidence has been provided but apparently 74 complaints in recent months triggered the warning. Reddit has a quarter of a billion monthly users.

Links 18/3/2019: Solus 4, Linux 5.1 RC1, Mesa 18.3.5, OSI Individual Member Election Won by Microsoft

Monday 18th of March 2019 10:46:41 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Server
    • What is BTCPay Server? Free & Open Source Bitcoin Payment Processor

      Bitcoin’s potential as a decentralized, P2P digital currency is, in many cases, limited by the extension of the application and design space around the legacy cryptocurrency. Particularly in regards to merchant adoption, legacy payment processing services remain much more straightforward to use.

      Bitcoin is an invention of money, not explicitly payments. However, furthering its adoption as a means of payment will go a long way in bolstering its prominence among the mainstream.

    • ArcShell offers modular automation development with Bash

      ArcShell is an open-source modular development framework for building automation solutions using Bash. It runs on most Unix and Linux hosts. It’s easy to install, easy to distribute, and easy to build upon. New capabilities are added every week, and the project is actively maintained.

      I am the founder of Arclogic Software and the developer of ArcShell. I have been building automation and monitoring solutions from scratch for two decades.

      I am frustrated by the lack of unified solutions to the kinds of problems everyone writing scripts encounters. The answers I find are often not up to date, portable, buggy, and generally not usable for one reason or another. In August of 2016, I left a long stint working in IT services to pursue the goal of solving that problem by building ArcShell.

    • Red Hat Summit Labs Highlights 2019

      Red Hat Summit is a fantastic opportunity to learn about technologies that impact your business, and to deepen your understanding of Red Hat’s products it’s hard to beat the labs at Red Hat Summit.

      Summit labs are two-hour, hands-on sessions that walk through specific products or solutions. Everything needed to complete the labs is provided by Red Hat, from laptop/workstation to content and remote access to a pre-built environment.

      Instructors help students walk through the labs step by step. Red Hat labs are proctored by Red Hat engineers, and are an opportunity to not only learn about technology, but also to meet some of the people building the technology.

    • Entry Power S812 Gets A New – But Still Short – Lease On Life

      Despite the fact that Moore’s Law increases in performance in CPUs have been slowing for years, for many customers, the growth in the throughput performance of processors as more cores and threads are added to a Power9 chip have outstripped the capacity growth requirements for many IBM i shops. For many of these customers, a single core Power7, Power7+, or even Power8 processor did the trick just fine, and is better suited to their needs than an entry Power9 machine with just one core running IBM i.

      We would argue – and have argued many times – that what IBM needs to do is make the Power chip cores and the IBM i and Linux licenses that run on them cheaper so more customers will consolidate X86 Linux workloads onto Linux partitions on Power and, wherever possible, port X86 Windows Server workloads to Linux on Power and pull these in, too. This would mop up all of that extra capacity, and provide a more integrated, hybrid system than is possible over the network, and give Power Systems a nice jolt in the arm, too.

    • The What and the Why of the Cluster API

      Early in the evolution of the Kubernetes project, there was a desire for configurability, as different environments had varying constraints. This flexibility gave way to a myriad of assertions, and opinions, that initially fragmented the community around installation paths. However, it was clear to the community that there were a set of common overlapping concerns, or a lowest common denominator. In order to address these specific concerns, kubeadm was born as a composable bootstrapping tool for Kubernetes clusters.

    • College student with ‘visions of writing super-cool scripts’ almost wipes out faculty’s entire system

      Monday has once more reared its ugly head, but brings with it the charming face of Who, Me?, El Reg’s weekly look at cringeworthy events of readers’ pasts.

      This week, we meet “Ted”, who tells us of a time many years ago when he was at a local college taking a course in computing.

      “At the time, we were one of the first to go through a new curriculum that combined both hardware and software engineering,” Ted said.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • How usable is desktop Linux on ARM?
    • gnuWorldOrder_13x12
    • Linux Action News 97

      We try out the latest GNOME 3.32 release, and why it might be the best release ever. New leader candidates for Debian emerge, we experience foundation inception, and NGINX is getting acquired.

      Plus Android Q gets an official Desktop Mode, the story behind the new Open Distro for Elasticsearch, and more!

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 5.1-rc1

      It’s Sunday, and two weeks have passed, and everything is normal. You
      all know the drill by now – the merge window is closed, and things are
      supposed to calm down.

      The merge window felt fairly normal to me. And looking at the stats,
      nothing really odd stands out either. It’s a regular sized release
      (which obviously means “big” – , but it’s not bigger than usual) and
      the bulk of it (just over 60%) is drivers. All kinds of drivers, the
      one that stands out for being different is the habanalabs AI
      accelerator chip driver, but I suspect we’ll be starting to see more
      of that kind of stuff. But there are all the usual suspects too – gpu,
      networking, block devices etc etc.

    • Linux 5.1-rc1 Kernel Released After A “Fairly Normal” Merge Window
    • Linus Torvalds Kicks Off Development of Linux 5.1 Kernel, First RC Is Out Now
    • Linux kernel 5.1 development started

      Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, announced that development has started on Linux kernel 5.1.

      “It’s Sunday, and two weeks have passed, and everything is normal,” said Torvalds.

      “You all know the drill by now – the merge window is closed, and things are supposed to calm down.”

      Torvalds said that the merge window for Linux kernel 5.1 was “fairly normal” with no big outliers or oddities.

      As a result, the first Release Candidate of Linux kernel 5.1 is now ready for testing.

    • The Big Features Of Linux 5.1: IO_Uring, Intel Fastboot Default, Goya AI Accelerator, New Hardware

      The two-week long merge window for Linux 5.1 is expected to close later today so here is a look back at all of the changes and new features coming with this next version of the Linux kernel.

    • Graphics Stack
      • NVIDIA 418.49.04 Linux Driver Brings Host Query Reset & YCbCr Image Arrays

        NVIDIA has issued new Vulkan beta drivers leading up to the Game Developers Conference 2019 as well as this next week there being NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) nearby in California.

        The only publicly mentioned changes to this weekend’s NVIDIA 418.49.04 Linux driver update (and 419.62 on the Windows side) is support for the VK_EXT_host_query_reset and VK_EXT_ycbcr_image_arrays extensions.

      • Nouveau NIR Support Lands In Mesa 19.1 Git

        It shouldn’t come as any surprise, but landing today in Mesa 19.1 Git is the initial support for the Nouveau Gallium3D code to make use of the NIR intermediate representation as an alternative to Gallium’s TGSI.

        The Nouveau NIR support is part of the lengthy effort by Red Hat developers on supporting this IR as part of their SPIR-V and compute upbringing. The NIR support is also a stepping stone towards a potential NVIDIA Vulkan driver in the future.

      • Vulkan 1.1.104 Brings Native HDR, Exclusive Fullscreen Extensions

        With the annual Game Developers’ Conference (GDC) kicking off tomorrow in San Francisco, Khronos’ Vulkan working group today released Vulkan 1.1.104 that comes with several noteworthy extensions.

        Vulkan 1.1.104 is the big update for GDC 2019 rather than say Vulkan 1.2, but it’s quite a nice update as part of the working group’s weekly/bi-weekly release regiment. In particular, Vulkan 1.1.104 is exciting for an AMD native HDR extension and also a full-screen exclusive extension.

      • Interested In FreeSync With The RADV Vulkan Driver? Testing Help Is Needed

        Since the long-awaited introduction of FreeSync support with the Linux 5.0 kernel, one of the missing elements has been this variable rate refresh support within the RADV Vulkan driver.

        When the FreeSync/VRR bits were merged into Linux 5.0, the RadeonSI Gallium3D support was quick to land for OpenGL games but RADV Vulkan support was not to be found. Of course, RADV is the unofficial Radeon open-source Vulkan driver not officially backed by AMD but is the more popular driver compared to their official AMDVLK driver or the official but closed driver in their Radeon Software PRO driver package (well, it’s built from the same sources as AMDVLK but currently with their closed-source shader compiler rather than LLVM). So RADV support for FreeSync has been one of the features users have been quite curious about and eager to see.

      • The-Forge Rendering Framework Refactors Input, Adds Other New Features

        The-Forge, a cross-platform rendering framework that is open-source and has supported Linux and Vulkan since 2016 and worked on a variety of interesting rendering features like more advanced “Tress-FX” support, rolled out two new releases this month.

        After The-Forge 1.23 rolled out in February with a new cross-platform ray-tracing interface (including Linux/Vulkan support), they continued their rendering quest by releasing versions 1.24 and 1.25 so far this month.

      • Mesa 18.3.5 Mesa 18.3.5 is now available. This release predominantly focuses on the ANV and RADV Vulkan drivers. See the shortlog below, for more details. -Emil Alok Hota (1): swr/rast: bypass size limit for non-sampled textures Andrii Simiklit (1): i965: re-emit index buffer state on a reset option change. Axel Davy (2): st/nine: Ignore window size if error st/nine: Ignore multisample quality level if no ms Bas Nieuwenhuizen (4): radv: Sync ETC2 whitelisted devices. radv: Fix float16 interpolation set up. radv: Allow interpolation on non-float types. radv: Interpolate less aggressively. Carlos Garnacho (1): wayland/egl: Ensure EGL surface is resized on DRI update_buffers() Danylo Piliaiev (1): glsl/linker: Fix unmatched TCS outputs being reduced to local variable David Shao (1): meson: ensure that xmlpool_options.h is generated for gallium targets that need it Eleni Maria Stea (1): i965: fixed clamping in set_scissor_bits when the y is flipped Emil Velikov (8): docs: add sha256 checksums for 18.3.4 meson: egl: correctly manage loader/xmlconfig cherry-ignore: add 19.0 only anv/push buffer nominations cherry-ignore: add gitlab-ci fixup commit cherry-ignore: ignore glsl_types memory cleanup patch cherry-ignore: add explicit 19.0 performance optimisations Update version to 18.3.5 docs: add release notes for 18.3.5 Eric Engestrom (1): egl: fix libdrm-less builds Francisco Jerez (1): intel/fs: Implement extended strides greater than 4 for IR source regions. Ian Romanick (2): intel/fs: nir_op_extract_i8 extracts a byte, not a word intel/fs: Fix extract_u8 of an odd byte from a 64-bit integer Ilia Mirkin (1): glsl: fix recording of variables for XFB in TCS shaders Jason Ekstrand (10): intel/fs: Bail in optimize_extract_to_float if we have modifiers compiler/types: Add a contains_64bit helper nir/xfb: Properly align 64-bit values nir/xfb: Work in terms of components rather than slots nir/xfb: Handle compact arrays in gather_xfb_info anv: Count surfaces for non-YCbCr images in GetDescriptorSetLayoutSupport spirv: OpImageQueryLod requires a sampler spirv: Pull offset/stride from the pointer for OpArrayLength glsl/list: Add a list variant of insert_after glsl/lower_vector_derefs: Don't use a temporary for TCS outputs Jose Maria Casanova Crespo (1): glsl: TCS outputs can not be transform feedback candidates on GLES José Fonseca (1): scons: Workaround failures with MSVC when using SCons 3.0.[2-4]. Juan A. Suarez Romero (3): genxml: add missing field values for 3DSTATE_SF anv: advertise 8 subpixel precision bits anv: destroy descriptor sets when pool gets reset Kenneth Graunke (1): intel/fs: Fix opt_peephole_csel to not throw away saturates. Kevin Strasser (1): egl/dri: Avoid out of bounds array access Lionel Landwerlin (1): intel: fix urb size for CFL GT1 Marek Olšák (5): radeonsi: add driconf option radeonsi_enable_nir radeonsi: always enable NIR for Civilization 6 to fix corruption driconf: add Civ6Sub executable for Civilization 6 tgsi: don't set tgsi_info::uses_bindless_images for constbufs and hw atomics radeonsi: compile clear and copy buffer compute shaders on demand Mauro Rossi (2): android: anv: fix generated files depedencies (v2) android: anv: fix libexpat shared dependency Ray Zhang (1): glx: fix shared memory leak in X11 Rhys Perry (2): radv: bitcast 16-bit outputs to integers radv: ensure export arguments are always float Samuel Pitoiset (8): radv: write the alpha channel of MRT0 when alpha coverage is enabled radv: fix writing the alpha channel of MRT0 when alpha coverage is enabled radv: fix clearing attachments in secondary command buffers radv: fix out-of-bounds access when copying descriptors BO list radv: don't copy buffer descriptors list for samplers radv: properly align the fence and EOP bug VA on GFX9 radv: fix pointSizeRange limits radv: always initialize HTILE when the src layout is UNDEFINED Sergii Romantsov (2): dri: meson: do not prefix user provided dri-drivers-path d3d: meson: do not prefix user provided d3d-drivers-path Tapani Pälli (3): nir: initialize value in copy_prop_vars_block anv: retain the is_array state in create_plane_tex_instr_implicit anv: destroy descriptor sets when pool gets destroyed Timothy Arceri (1): glsl: fix shader cache for packed param list Yevhenii Kolesnikov (1): i965: Fix allow_higher_compat_version workaround limited by OpenGL 3.0 pal1000 (1): scons: Compatibility with Scons development version string git tag: mesa-18.3.5
      • Mesa 18.3.5 Released With Intel/Radeon Vulkan Driver Fixes

        The Mesa 18.3 series will soon be winding down with the Mesa 19.0 release now stable since last week, but out today is 18.3.5 as the latest update.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • MATE 1.22 released

      After about a year of development, the MATE Desktop team have finally released MATE 1.22. A big thank you to all contributors who helped to make this happen.

    • MATE Desktop discussion forums are closing

      For sometime now the forum moderators have struggled to keep up with the pace of discussion, combatting spam and new registrations. The original forum administrators are no longer actively participating in the MATE Desktop forums either.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Slimbook & Kubuntu – Combat Report 6

        Here we are gathered, for another episode of drama, thrill and technological escapades in the land of Tux. Starring one Slimbook Pro2 in the main role, with a trusty sidekick called Bionic Beaver of the Kubuntu clan. We’ve had quite a few episodes so far, and they tell a rather colorful story of progress, beauty and bugs.

        Over the past few months, I’ve detailed my usage of the laptop and its operating system in serious, real-life situations, with actual productivity needs and challenges. This isn’t just a test, this is running the machine properly. Many things work well, but then, there are problems, too. Of course, you can read all about those in the previous articles, and again, for the sake of simplicity, I’m only going to link to only the last report here. If you’re truly intrigued, I’m sure you can find your way around.

        [..].

        I believe the Slimbook – with its Kubuntu brains – is slowly settling down. The one thing that is certain is that system updates bring in small tweaks and fixes all the time, and it’s a shame that we can’t have that from the very first minute. On the other hand, the system is stable, robust, and there are no regressions. I am quite pleased.

        But there are still many things that can improved. Small things. The nth-order fun that isn’t immediate or obvious, and so people don’t see it until they come across a non-trivial use case, and then things start falling apart. This is true for all operating system, it’s only the matter of how much. Plasma has made great strides in becoming semi-pro, and I hope it will get better still. Onwards.

      • Krita Interview with Svetlana Rastegina

        I prefer software with an open source license. One of my friends suggested to try it and it met my needs.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Geary 3.32 Released with New App Icon, GNOME 3.32 Support

        A major new version of the Geary e-mail client is now available for Linux users to download.

        Now, you’ll forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu upon reading that as it’s only been a couple of weeks since the release of Geary 0.13 (itself the first update to the email app this year).

        But there’s a reason why a new release has appeared so soon after the last…

      • The GNOME 3.34 Release Date is Set

        The GNOME 3.34 release date is set, and the full release schedule for the new development cycle finalised.

        It won’t be easy for developers to top the recent GNOME 3.32 release, which has been met with near-universal praise for its performance patches and feature refinements.

        But follow it they must.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Review: Kubuntu versus KDE neon

        Often times when I’m browsing open source forums I run into variations of the query “Why do we need KDE neon when we have Kubuntu?” Or, possibly the inverse: “What is the benefit to running Kubuntu when we have KDE neon?” Sometimes the question is more neutral: “What is the difference between running Kubuntu with backports and running KDE neon?”

        These are fair questions. While Kubuntu tends to be seen as being more geared toward end users and KDE neon tends to be regarded as being a way for curious testers to try out the latest KDE technology, there is a lot of overlap between the two projects. Both are based on Ubuntu, both feature recent releases of the KDE Plasma desktop, and both stick pretty close to a vanilla KDE experience. This got me wondering if there is much of a difference between the two projects from the end-user’s point of view. Are they basically the same experience with slightly different configurations, or are there practical differences in play that would make a users choose one over the other?

        I decided to find out. I downloaded a snapshot of the User edition of KDE neon and a copy of Kubuntu. Since KDE neon is based on Ubuntu long-term support (LTS) releases, specifically Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, I opted to download Kubuntu 18.04.2 in order to make sure the base operating systems were as close to the same as I could get. Then I started comparing the two side-by-side.

    • New Releases
      • Solus 4 Fortitude Released

        We are proud to announce the immediate availability of Solus 4 Fortitude, a new major release of the Solus operating system. This release delivers a brand new Budgie experience, updated sets of default applications and theming, and hardware enablement.

      • Solus 4 “Fortitude” released

        Version 4 of the Solus distribution has been released. “We are proud to announce the immediate availability of Solus 4 Fortitude, a new major release of the Solus operating system. This release delivers a brand new Budgie experience, updated sets of default applications and theming, and hardware enablement.” LWN reviewed Solus in 2016.

      • Solus 4 ‘Fortitude’ Linux distro available with choice of Budgie, GNOME, MATE, or KDE Plasma desktop environments

        GNOME is the best overall desktop environment, and deepin is the most beautiful Linux distribution, but there are many other options out there. That’s one of the things that makes Linux distributions so much better than Windows 10 — you can choose from various user interfaces to find one that is best for you. Microsoft and Apple force you to use the environment of their choosing, limiting the overall customization options.

        Today, yet another Linux-based operating system gets a major version update. Solus 4 “Fortitude” can be downloaded immediately, and it is chock full of improvements. While this distro largely focuses on the Budgie desktop environment, you can also opt for GNOME, Mate, or KDE Plasma (in testing).

      • Solus 4 “Fortitude” Officially Released, It’s Now Available for Download
      • Linux Desktop News: Solus 4 Released With New Budgie Goodness

        After teasing fans for several months with the 3.9999 ISO refresh, the team at Solus has delivered “Fortitude,” a new release of the independent Linux desktop OS. And like elementary OS did with Juno, it seems to earn that major version number.

        Perhaps the most notable upgrade is the appearance of Budgie 10.5, even before it lands on the slick desktop environment’s official Ubuntu flavor next month. I first experienced Budgie during my review of the InfinityCube from Tuxedo Computers, and I found a lot to love about it.

        Budgie 10.5 is playing catch-up in some areas, but it introduces welcome improvements across the board, including the Raven notification center, Sound panel, and significant additions to desktop customization.

      • Solus 4 Officially Released With Updated Budgie Desktop, Linux 4.20 Kernel

        Solus 4 has officially set sail as the latest version of this popular desktop Linux distribution that is known for its “Budgie” desktop environment, borrowing some performance optimizations from the likes of Clear Linux, and various usability enhancements and more to enhance its desktop experience.

        Solus 4 “Fortitude” was released on Sunday as a big update and is packing an updated GTK-based Budgie desktop, Firefox 65, LibreOffice 6.2, the Linux 4.20.16 kernel, GNOME MPV 0.16, and Mesa 19.0.

      • Solus 4 ‘Fortitude’ Linux Distro Is Finally Here As A Major Release

        When the Solus Project shipped Solus 3.9999 ISO refresh in November 2018, the company made it clear that the release simply included new updates and security fixes.

        For those who were eagerly waiting for new features to be shipped, Solus 4 ‘Fortitude’ is finally here with a polished Budgie look, updated applications, and better hardware support. So let’s tell you about all the new changes in brief.

      • Solus 4 ‘Fortitude’ Released with Significant Improvements

        Finally, after a year of work, the much anticipated Solus 4 is here. It’s a significant release not just because this is a major upgrade, but also because this is the first major release after Ikey Doherty (the founder of Solus) left the project a few months ago.

        Now that everything’s under control with the new management, Solus 4 Fortitude with updated Budgie desktop and other significant improvements has officially released.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts
    • Fedora
      • Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Use Fedora Linux

        These are some of the major reasons why you should use Fedora. It might not be popular as Ubuntu or comes with advanced tools by default as Kali Linux or user-friendly as Linux Mint, but it has a solid base when it comes to latest features and security. Another fact is, anyone, can build a Linux distribution but you should not use one run by a single or few people. Fedora is backed by RedHat, one of the most reputable names in Linux industry and hence you will have peace of mind.

      • Fedora 29 Linux Gaming Report: The Nvidia, Radeon And Steam User Experience

        Gaming on Linux. Depending on who you talk to, getting stuff like Steam up and running and graphics drivers installed can be a tedious exercise, or ridiculously straightforward. That’s because people don’t really game on Linux. They game on Fedora, Manjaro, Ubuntu, Deepin, Solus. They game on Debian-based distributions or Arch-based distributions. Each with their own philosophies on free (as in open source and freely distributed) versus non-free (Steam and proprietary Nvidia drivers) software. Each with their own approaches to stability, affecting which versions of drivers are available out of the box.

        While there are certain procedures and best practices that persist across any distro, the variances can be daunting for new users. And that’s the jumping-off point for this series.

      • Firefox Wayland By Default Diverted To Fedora 31

        The plans to ship the Wayland-ized Firefox by default in Fedora 30 have been thwarted and will now have to wait until Fedora 31 to try again.

        For a while now there’s been the firefox-wayland package available for Fedora users to try the Wayland-native version of Firefox rather than having to run through XWayland when firing up this default web browser on Fedora Workstation. With Fedora 30 the developers were hopeful the Wayland Firefox version was finally in good enough shape to ship it by default, but that’s not the case.

    • Debian Family
      • Laura Arjona Reina: A weekend for the Debian website and friends

        Last weekend (15-17 March 2019) some members of the Debian web team have met at my place in Madrid to advance work together in what we call a Debian Sprint. A report will be published in the following days, but I want to say thank you to everybody that made possible this meeting happen.

        We have shared 2-3 very nice days, we have agreed in many topics and started to design an new homepage focused in newcomers (since a Debianite usually just go to the subpage they need) and showing that Debian the operating system is made by a community of people. We are committed to simplify the content of and the structure of www.debian.org, we have fixed some bugs already, and talked about many other aspects. We shared some time to know each other, and I think all of us became motivated to continue working on the website (because there is still a lot of work to do!) and make easy for new contributors to get involved too.

      • Daniel Pocock: Happy St Patrick’s Day, IFSO AGM and meeting sock puppets

        Now Debian has similar problems to FSFE: undemocratic behaviour by the leaders, censorship and then, for fear of retribution, it looks like some people stop using their real names when posting on the debian-project mailing list and other people may erroneously be accused of not using real names. With over five thousand people subscribed to the list, I don’t feel that two people with similar names is a compelling example of sock-puppeteering and some of the accusations are uncomfortable for multiple people. Even fewer people dare to open their mouth next.

        This brings us to another of the benefits of setting up local associations like IFSO: people can meet face to face more often, maybe monthly and then nobody is wondering if they are corresponding with a sock puppet. FSFE’s 27 members (what they call the “General Assembly”, or other people regard as a cabal) only officially meets once per year. It has become too big to function like a board or have regular meetings but too small to have the credibility that would come from acknowledging all volunteers/fellows as equal members.

      • Derivatives
        • Whonix VirtualBox 14.0.1.4.4 – Unified OVA Downloads – Point Release

          This release introduces unified ova downloads. Rather than a separate Whonix-Gateway ova and Whonix-Workstation ova download, from now, there is only a single Whonix ova which includes both Whonix virtual machines (VMs), Whonix-Gateway and Whonix-Workstation.

          This will reduce the steps users are required to apply (one download less / only one instead of two downloads), improve usability, make Whonix downloads more standardized compared to other software downloads, and simplify our infrastructure maintenance work. The Whonix split VM design (separate Whonix-Gateway and Whonix-Workstation) is remains unmodified. Only the process of setting up Whonix was simplified.

          Instructions for import and verification of Whonix VMs are not yet updated but remain very, very similar.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Canonical Releases Important Linux Kernel Patch for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Update Now

            The new Linux kernel security update is here to address five security issues discovered by various security researchers in the Linux 4.4 kernel used in the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system series and official derivatives that aren’t using the Linux 4.15 HWE (Hardware Enablement) kernel from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver).

            These include a flaw (CVE-2017-18241) in Linux kernel’s F2FS file system implementation, which incorrectly handled the noflush_merge mount option, and multiple integer overflows (CVE-2018-7740) in the hugetlbfs implementation. Both issues could allow local attackers to crash the vulnerable system through a denial of service.

          • Canonical Says Ubuntu 14.04 Extended Security Maintenance Begins April 25, 2019

            Released five years ago on April 17th, 2014, the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) operating system series will reach its end of life next month on April 30th. Following on the success of the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) operating system series, Canonical announced some time ago that it would offer its Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) commercial package to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS users as well.

            Canonical said it would reveal more details about when the ESM (Extended Security Maintenance) offering is available for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr), so the company now announced that users who want to continue using the operating system and still receive security updates after the April 30th end of life, can purchase the ESM package beginning April 25th, 2019.

          • The path to Ubuntu Core

            At Canonical, helping customers overcome their challenges is what we do every day. In the IoT world, a common challenge we encounter is customers who are interested in transitioning to Ubuntu Core and the snapcraft.io ecosystem, but are unsure how to begin. This post covers the recommended approach.

            In most cases, it’s relatively easy for someone to see the advantages of Ubuntu Core when they’re first introduced to it. The transactional updates, immutable system design, simplified development and powerful update controls have most people going “you had me at transactional!”

            However, we all know the devil’s in the details. Shortly after the “eureka!” moment, there is often an anticlimax, as the newly minted Ubuntu Core believer starts to consider their current product state. For teams of harried software developers on a fixed budget, both in terms of time and money, making changes to the underlying components can feel impossible. Staring down the barrel of one or more projects with aggressive delivery schedules, the last thing you want to do is start changing things. To borrow from a quote often attributed to Walt Kelly, updating your device OS and packaging platform can feel like an “insurmountable opportunity.”

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • FOSS: On the Road to Nowhere

    I started using free and open source software 20 years ago. In many ways, I’m delighted in how it has developed and spread. I can use KDE’s Plasma, the most advanced desktop on any platform, and it’s been 15 years since I needed to buy software for my professional work. From being an outlying oddity, FOSS has become the norm — so much so that invitations for bids often specify that the resulting software must be open source.

    Yet I can’t help thinking that FOSS as a whole has lost its sense of shared values. Nor do groups that might provide those shared values, like the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the Linux Foundation, seem capable of providing the leadership that could provide those shared values.

    Oh, I’m aware that projects and foundations continue to provide leadership on a local scale. I am aware, too, of the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Leadership Summit, which helps to promote cooperative development. What is missing, though, is often the sense of everyone working towards the same goals for shared reasons.

  • A free, open source XR platform

    At the center of Monado is a fully open source OpenXR runtime for Linux. It is the component in the XR software stack that implements the hardware support, it knows how to process non standard input from HMD devices and controllers, it knows how to render to those devices and it provides this functionality via the standard OpenXR API.

    But Monado is not just a runtime – beyond an open standard and an open source codebase, we want to build an ecosystem encompassing the various XR actors from the open source community and the XR industry. If you are an XR enthusiast, an open source hacker, a hardware vendor or already a major player in the XR industry, check out Monado and join our effort to make Linux a fully XR enabled platform.

    For existing XR industry leaders, Monado can greatly reduce maintenance and development costs by providing a base XR platform allowing them to focus on value-add and differentiation.

  • Khronos Releases OpenXR 0.90, Solus 4 Fortitude Now Available, Geary 3.32 Released, Linux Kernel 5.1-rc1 Is Out, Opera Announces Opera 60 Beta

    Khronos today released the OpenXR 0.90 provision specification. From the press release: “OpenXR is a unifying, royalty-free, open standard that provides high-performance access to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)—collectively known as XR—platforms and devices. The new specification can be found on the Khronos website and is released in provisional form to enable developers and implementers to provide feedback at the OpenXR forum.” And following the release of the OpenXR 0.09 provision specification, Collabora announced Monado: “at the center of Monado is a fully open source OpenXR runtime for Linux. It is the component in the XR software stack that implements the hardware support, it knows how to process non standard input from HMD devices and controllers, it knows how to render to those devices and it provides this functionality via the standard OpenXR API.”

  • OpenXR 0.90 Released For AR/VR Standard – Monado Is An Open-Source Implementation

    Last year we were expecting The Khronos Group to introduce OpenXR 1.0 for this standard to address fragmentation and provide interoperability in the VR space followed by AR. That debut last year didn’t happen although they did show off the first demonstration at SIGGRAPH. This week though at GDC they are announcing the OpenXR 0.90 provisional specification release.

    The OpenXR 0.90 provisional specification is now available today. Yes, v0.90 and not 1.0… This caught me by surprise too when being briefed last week. This provisional specification ended up incorporating not only VR support but also AR (augmented reality) into the design. They are hoping for more feedback from AR/VR developers before officially declaring 1.0 especially with the AR support squeezing in when originally they only anticipated to get that in post-1.0.

  • 2019 OSI Board Election Results

    The OSI recently held our 2019 Board elections to seat six Board Directors, two elected from the affiliate membership, and four from the individual membership. We would like to congratulate, Pamela Chestek (nominated by The Document Foundation), and Molly de Blanc (nominated by the Debian Project) who captured the most votes from OSI Affiliate Members. We would also like to congratulate, Elana Hashman, Hong Phuc Dang and Carol Smith for securing Individual Member seats on the Board. Due to a tie for the fourth Individual Member seat, between Christine Hall and Mariatta Wijaya, a run off election will be required to identify the final OSI Board Director.

    [...]

    Affiliate Member Election Results (two open seats)

    29 Pamela Chestek (The Document Foundation)
    28 Molly de Blanc (Debian Project)
    18 Bruce Perens (Open Research Institute)
    13 Charles-H. Schulz (Open Information Security Foundation)
    12 Olawale Fabiyi (American International University West Africa)
    12 Kate Stewart (Linux Foundation)
    9 Lior Kaplan (Debian Project)
    8 Frank Matranga (Rensselaer Center for Open Source)
    7 Rowan Hoskyns-Abrahall (Joomla / Open Source Matters, Inc.)
    3 Hugh Douglas-Smith (Joomla / Open Source Matters, Inc.)

    Individual Member Election Results (four open seats)

    199 Carol Smith
    172 Elana Hashman
    143 Hong Phuc Dang
    104 Christine Hall*
    104 Mariatta Wijaya*
    92 Duane O’Brien
    90 Chris Aniszczyk
    81 Van Lindberg
    77 Justin Colannino
    76 Samson Goddy
    64 Luke Faraone
    55 Marc Jones
    44 Ian Skerrett
    33 Brendan Hickey
    32 Gustavo G Marmol Alioto
    23 Tobie Langel
    17 Rakesh Ranjan Jena
    16 Dave McAllister

  • What OpenDSP Means to the Future

    Open source software to standardize grid-edge technology.

  • These Emulators Bring WWII Cipher Machines Like Enigma To Your PC

    Alan Turing, the popular mathematician and computer scientist, developed Bombe, a device used for cracking Enigma codes and played a major role in World War II.

    GCHQ isn’t the first to bring emulators of code-breaking devices. If CodeChef’s emulator looks tedious, you can try this web-based Enigma emulator from Summerside Makerspace or this Enigma Simulator desktop app by Terry Long.

    Do give these online emulators from WWII a try and tell us about your experience in the comments section.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Welcome Lindsey Shepard, VP Product Marketing [Ed: Hiring from Facebook (under criminal investigation for privacy infringement crimes) for VP role. Worst Mozilla hire since it put a Microsoft person -- yes, the company that puts back doors in everything and is most cooperative with the NSA (started PRISM) -- in charge of "security".]

        Most recently, Lindsey headed up corporate-level marketing for Facebook Inc., including leading product marketing for Facebook’s core products: News Feed, News, Stories, Civic Engagement, Privacy and Safety. Before joining Facebook, Lindsey led marketing at GoldieBlox, a Bay Area start-up focused on bridging the gender gap in STEM.

      • A Homepage for the JavaScript Specification

        Ecma TC39, the JavaScript Standards Committee, is proud to announce that we have shipped a website for following updates to the JavaScript specification. This is the first part of a two-part project aimed at improving our information distribution and documentation. The website provides links to our most significant documents, as well as a list of proposals that are near completion. Our goal is to help people find the information they need in order to understand the specification and our process.

        While the website is currently an MVP and very simple, we have plans to expand it. These plans include a set of documentation about how we work. We will experiment with other features as the need arises.

        The website comes as part of work that began last year to better understand how the community was accessing information about the work around the JavaScript specification. We did a series of in-person interviews, followed by a widely distributed survey to better understand what people struggled with. One of the biggest requests was that we publish and maintain a website that helps people find the information they are looking for.

      • A look at Mozilla’s data science tooling, Google’s Season of Docs, and more news

        Mozilla released Iodide, a new tool for publishing data science. Still in very early alpha, Iodide is a tool designed to help scientists write interactive documents. It is similar, but not exactly equivalent to Jupyter Notebooks or R Markdown in RStudio. Brendan Colloran shares all the technical details in a post on the Mozilla Hacks blog.If you want explore Iodide yourself, Mozilla has a demo site available.

      • QMO

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, March 29th, we are organizing Firefox 67 Beta 6 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on: Anti-tracking (Fingerprinting and Cryptominers) and Media playback & support.

        Check out the detailed instructions via this etherpad.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Licensing/Legal
    • AWS’ contribution to Elasticsearch may only further entrench the open source vendor and cloud war

      Last week, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced it was launching an open source value-added distribution for search and analytics engine Elasticsearch. As AWS evangelist Jeff Barr put it, the launch would “help continue to accelerate open source Elasticsearch innovation” with the company “strong believers in and supporters of open source software.”

      Yet for industry-watchers and those sympathetic to the open source space, this has been seen as the latest move in a long-running spat between the developers and software vendors on one side, and the cloud behemoths – in particular AWS – on the other. So who is right?

      Previous moves in the market have seen a lot of heat thrown in AWS’ direction for, as the open source vendors see it, taking open source code to which they have not contributed and selling software as a service around it. MongoDB, Confluent and Redis Labs were the highest profile companies who changed their licensing to counter this threat, with reactions ranging from understanding through gritted teeth to outright hostility.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Andes Technology Strengthens the RISC-V EasyStart Alliance to 15 ASIC Design Service Partners

        As the first public CPU IP company in Asia, specializing in low-power, high-performance 32/64-bit processor IP cores and SoC design platform, Andes Technology Corporation (TWSE:6533) created a RISC-V promotion program called the “EasyStart” in July, 2018. The goal of the RISC-V EasyStart program is to help Andes’ design service partners catch the emerging opportunity in RISC-V based SoC design and development. The expanding global alliance now has 15 members and is on the way to its target 20 members in the near future.

        The alliance in alphabetical order includes Alchip, ASIC Land, BaySand, CMSC, EE solution, INVECAS, MooreElite, PGC, SiEn (Qingdao) Semiconductor, Silex Insight, Socle , XtremeEDA and 3 unnamed partners. These companies cover foundry process technologies from 90nm to 10nm and some provide both SoC design and turn-key service. The alliance partners will use Andes qualified V5 RISC-V processor cores to provide their end customers total RISC-V design service solutions.

  • Programming/Development
    • RQuantLib 0.4.8: Small updates

      A new version 0.4.8 of RQuantLib reached CRAN and Debian. This release was triggered by a CRAN request for an update to the configure.ac script which was easy enough (and which, as it happens, did not result in changes in the configure script produced). I also belatedly updated the internals of RQuantLib to follow suit to an upstream change in QuantLib. We now seamlessly switch between shared_ptr<> from Boost and from C++11 – Luigi wrote about the how and why in an excellent blog post that is part of a larger (and also excellent) series of posts on QuantLib internals.

      QuantLib is a very comprehensice free/open-source library for quantitative finance, and RQuantLib connects it to the R environment and language.

    • 10 Python image manipulation tools

      Today’s world is full of data, and images form a significant part of this data. However, before they can be used, these digital images must be processed—analyzed and manipulated in order to improve their quality or extract some information that can be put to use.

      Common image processing tasks include displays; basic manipulations like cropping, flipping, rotating, etc.; image segmentation, classification, and feature extractions; image restoration; and image recognition. Python is an excellent choice for these types of image processing tasks due to its growing popularity as a scientific programming language and the free availability of many state-of-the-art image processing tools in its ecosystem.

      This article looks at 10 of the most commonly used Python libraries for image manipulation tasks. These libraries provide an easy and intuitive way to transform images and make sense of the underlying data.

    • PyDev of the Week: Bruno Rocha

      This week we welcome Bruno Rocha (@rochacbruno) as our PyDev of the Week! Bruno works for Red Hat and participates in the Python, Flask and Rust communities.

    • HTTP Method and Accept headers

      Zato 3.1 includes new means to manage access to REST services based on input Method and Accept headers in HTTP requests – here is how they can be employed in practice.

    • Text Processing in Rust

      This article is about text processing in Rust, but it also contains a quick introduction to pattern matching, which can be very handy when working with text.

      Strings are a huge subject in Rust, which can be easily realized by the fact that Rust has two data types for representing strings as well as support for macros for formatting strings. However, all of this also proves how powerful Rust is in string and text processing.

      Apart from covering some theoretical topics, this article shows how to develop some handy yet easy-to-implement command-line utilities that let you work with plain-text files. If you have the time, it’d be great to experiment with the Rust code presented here, and maybe develop your own utilities.

    • Plotting the Chaikin AD line graph
    • Create a sports score application with python
    • WadC 3.0

      A couple of weeks ago I release version 3.0 of Wad Compiler, a lazy functional programming language and IDE for the construction of Doom maps.

      3.0 introduces more flexible randomness with rand; two new test maps (blockmap and bsp) that demonstrate approaches to random dungeon generation; some useful data structures in the library; better Hexen support and a bunch of other improvements.

    • Rcpp 1.0.1: Updates

      Following up on the 10th anniversary and the 1.0.0. release, we excited to share the news of the first update release 1.0.1 of Rcpp. package turned ten on Monday—and we used to opportunity to mark the current version as 1.0.0! It arrived at CRAN overnight, Windows binaries have already been built and I will follow up shortly with the Debian binary.

      We had four years of regular bi-monthly release leading up to 1.0.0, and having now taken four months since the big 1.0.0 one. Maybe three (or even just two) releases a year will establish itself a natural cadence. Time will tell.

    • Django 2.2 release candidate 1 released

      Django 2.2 release candidate 1 is the final opportunity for you to try out the salmagundi of new features before Django 2.2 is released.

      The release candidate stage marks the string freeze and the call for translators to submit translations. Provided no major bugs are discovered that can’t be solved in the next two weeks, Django 2.2 will be released on or around April 1. Any delays will be communicated on the django-developers mailing list thread.

    • Qt 3D Pairs Nicely With Vulkan & NVIDIA RTX To Make A Beautiful Path Tracer

      Not to be confused with Apple’s Quartz graphics layer, a new open-source project called Quartz by developer Michał Siejak is producing stunningly beautiful results while being powered by the Vulkan graphics API, making use of Qt 3D, and NVIDIA RTX support within this path tracer.

      Michał Siejak open-sourced his “Quartz” project this past week and it’s the latest open-source Vulkan project catching our eyes. Quartz is a path tracer designed around NVIDIA RTX (and, yes, does require a NVIDIA GPU) and delivering stunning results as an open-source path tracer that works on Windows and Linux. Beyond that, it offers a JavaScript/ES7-like description language for interacting with this path tracing renderer. The ES7-based description language is based on Qt5′s QML.

    • Plotting Absolute Price Oscillator (APO) Line with Python
    • Montreal Python User Group: Montréal-Python 74: Call for speakers – Virtual Echo
    • Wes McKinney’s Career In Python For Data Analysis
    • How to Build a Python GUI Application With wxPython
Leftovers
  • The Only Hope Is To Be the Daylight

    Belatedly, we mourn the passing of WS Merwin, masterful poet as well as fierce environmentalist and defender of justice, who died in his sleep Friday at 91 at his home on Maui, where over decades he and his wife built an 18-acre palm forest “as fearless and graceful (as) the power of imagination and renewal.” The former Poet Laureate and award-winning author of over 20 books held fast to “an intellectual and moral consistency,” exploring loss, war, nature and age in stirring language that grew increasingly spare and grave; in Worn Words, one of his final poems, he lauded “the late poems/that are made of words/that have come the whole way.” Still, the son of a Presbyterian minister who became a lifetime Buddhist insisted, “What we know is nothing in comparison with what we don’t know.” Wisdom, he once said, is “the question that you cant answer.”

    Merwin revered the natural world and tirelessly raged against those destroying it through war, colonialism or industrialization. Nonetheless, he also mindfully chose to listen and give often-tender thanks, arguing in 2014′s Living With the News that “the only hope is to be the daylight.” He held fast to that principle even when distant from nature, remembering wars, funerals, the rich, “the police at the door, the beatings on stairs…the animals dying around us…the forests falling faster than the minutes/of our lives: “with the cities growing over us/ we are saying thank you faster and faster/with nobody listening we are saying thank you/thank you we are saying and waving/dark though it is.”

  • Who is responsible for preserving indigenous languages?

    Columnist and University of South Africa’s Professor Vuyisile Msila says using English as a universal language should not lead to the extinction of indigenous languages and instead, English should be used as a tool to preserve every other language.

    Speaking at the Mariam Tladi Reading and Book Club gathering over the weekend, Msila emphasised the importance of everyone playing their role in preserving indigenous languages and ultimately using them to grow economies and social development.

    “It should fall on all institutions; families, schools, governments etc. It should be the responsibility of everyone in society.”

  • Health/Nutrition
    • VA’s Private Care Program Headed for Tech Trouble, Review Finds

      As the Trump administration prepares to launch a controversial program to expand private medical care for veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs is developing a software tool to determine who’s eligible.

      But the tool is so flawed, according to an independent review obtained by ProPublica, that it threatens to disrupt the health care of about 75,000 veterans every day.

      “This degradation goes against the spirit of the Mission Act to improve the veterans experience and quality of care,” the review said, referring to the 2018 law that authorized the program to expand private care. The program is supposed to start in less than three months.

    • ‘Illuminating Exchange on Health Care’ Reveals Beto Doesn’t Think Insurance Industry Motivated by Greed

      Beto O’Rourke is attracting criticism from Medicare for All proponents after the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said he doesn’t believe the existence of the for-profit insurance industry is a “function of greed” during a campaign stop in Iowa over the weekend.

      O’Rourke, the former Texas Congressman who lost a narrow Senate election to Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) last November, made the remark in Independence, Iowa, during a barnstorming tour of the first in-the-nation caucus state. O’Rourke jumped into the crowded Democratic primary for president last Thursday, raising a record $6.1 million in his first 24 hours.

    • “Off the charts” arsenic levels detected in Western Pennsylvania groundwater

      New data shows arsenic at levels 372 times greater than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s threshold for safety in groundwater an hour northwest of Pittsburgh.

      The cancer-causing pollutant is leaching from a former coal ash landfill at the New Castle Generating Station, according to a new report. Of the 265 power plants throughout the U.S. that are investigated in the report, New Castle Generating Station ranked number five of the 10 most contaminated sites.

      The study, conducted by the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice, used industry-reported data from more than 4,600 groundwater monitoring wells located around the ash dumps of 265 coal-fired power plants, or roughly three quarters of all coal plants in the country. Of those sites, 91 percent were contaminated with unsafe levels of toxic contaminants like the ones found at the New Castle site.

    • Delay, Delay, Delay: Restrictive Laws Force Later-Term Abortions

      Many were horrified by news accounts of an 11-year-old girl in Argentina who, 23 weeks pregnant, underwent a procedure like a C-section rather than the abortion she had sought weeks earlier. The girl had been raped by the boyfriend of her grandmother, with whom the girl had been living. In language that will be hard to forget, she wanted doctors “to remove what the old man put inside me.” Lucia (a pseudonym) was placed in state care a week after her pregnancy was discovered because “self-inflicted lesions” indicated suicide attempts.

      Argentina law allows abortions in the case of rape or to protect the life of a pregnant person. In the U.S., Lucia might still have been in elementary school. Her pregnancy was discovered long before fetal viability, when the fetus/baby would have a reasonable chance of surviving outside the womb. Some news reports said 16 weeks, others 19. But government-created delays caused the pregnancy to progress to the point where there were calls to “save both lives.” Doctors performed a procedure similar to a C-section, even though the infant was unlikely to survive. The baby died after 10 days in intensive care. Two children, then, were harmed by the abortion delay.

      It’s easy to think that would never happen in the U.S. But which part? Certainly, such a rape can and does happen here. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately one in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18 in the U.S.

    • Beating the Pharma Shell Game: When Health Rights are at Stake

      A Harvard-Politico poll taken after the 2018 elections showed that both Republican and Democrat voters cite prescription drug pricing as the top priority for this new Congress. A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey reveals that nearly one in three US adults don’t take their medicines as prescribed at some point each year because of the cost. The same survey shows 80% of Americans agreeing that the price of medicines is unreasonable. Elected officials at the federal and state levels are reacting to this rising level of voter frustration by lining up to propose significant reforms.

      But Big Pharma did not get big by rolling over when challenged. The industry that tops the lists for US campaign contributions and lobbying dollars is aggressively countering the criticism with a classic tactic: a shell game designed to distract our attention elsewhere.

      [...]

      Big Pharma’s gambit to deflect attention and blame is dishonest and inaccurate. But that does not mean it may not be successful. Already, that same Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed that a majority of Americans agree with the line that the PBMs are a ‘major factor’ contributing to the prices of prescription drugs.

      People who are outraged by skyrocketing drug prices, including the lawmakers who are looking to respond to the crisis, cannot afford to be fooled by this shell game. They can avoid the distractions if they focus on these three questions, which highlight the real problem.

      One: Who is making the money? The goal of a shell game is to confuse the ‘mark’ by showing a lot of rapid movement and bewildering options. The pharmaceutical industry puts out its own reports and videos depicting a convoluted drug pricing process and downplaying the companies’ role in it. The industry also spends millions of dollars funding patient ‘advocacy’ groups that widely distribute their own versions of the self-labeled ‘complex’ system.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 137.5 – Holy cow Beto was in the cDc, this is awesome!

      Josh and Kurt talk about Beto being in the Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc). This is a pretty big deal in a very good way. We hit on some history, why it’s a great thing, what we can probably expect from opponents. There’s even some advice at the end how we can all help. We need more politicians with backgrounds like this.

    • Is Huawei a security threat? Seven experts weigh in

      Regardless of how the suit shakes out, it will hardly be the last volley in the ongoing battle. Is the US right to target Chinese equipment makers like Huawei, or has the company, as it maintains, been unfairly maligned? The Verge convened experts, from prominent China-watchers to Sen. Marco Rubio, to give their views.

    • Should you be concerned about LastPass uploading your passwords to its server? [Ed: Wladimir Palant says what I have been saying for years. Alas, it fell on some deaf ears. LastPass is a dangerous trap. Very bad, and not even for convenience. Faith-based security.]

      I’ve written a number of blog posts on LastPass security issues already. The latest one so far looked into the way the LastPass data is encrypted before it is transmitted to the server. The thing is: when your password manager uploads all data to its server backend, you normally want to be very certain that the data visible to the server is useless both to attackers who manage to compromise the server and company employees running that server. Early last year I reported a number of issues that allowed subverting LastPass encryption with comparably little effort. The most severe issues have been addressed, so all should be good now?

      Sadly, no. It is absolutely possible for a password manager to use a server for some functionality while not trusting it. However, LastPass has been designed in a way that makes taking this route very difficult. In particular, the decision to fall back to server-provided pages for parts of the LastPass browser extension functionality is highly problematic. For example, whenever you access Account Settings you leave the trusted browser extension and access a web interface presented to you by the LastPass server, something that the extension tries to hide from you. Some other extension functionality is implemented similarly.

    • User Account Review | Roadmap to Securing Your Infrastructure

      One of the topics you may not often think of as being all that important to security is user accounts on systems. We spend so much time on other things — like managing firewall rules, system patching, analyzing report data, etc. — that user accounts are often a neglected topic.

      At a previous employer, I performed many security-focused audits for organizations needing to meet regulatory compliance. As part of these audits, I would review systems for best practice and general housekeeping. You can tell a lot about an administrator by the state of their environment. Too often I would find accounts that had not logged in for years or may have never logged in. Why do you need those accounts if they’re not being used?

    • Brace yourselves: New variant of Mirai takes aim at a new crop of IoT devices [Ed: Install FOSS firmware and brace yourselves for the latest scaremongering from Mr. Goodin (sued for his dramatisation, exaggerations, and distortions)]

      A newly discovered variant contains a total of 27 exploits, 11 of which are new to Mirai, researchers with security firm Palo Alto Networks reported in a blog post Monday. Besides demonstrating an attempt to reinvigorate Mirai’s place among powerful botnets, the new exploits signal an attempt to penetrate an arena that’s largely new to Mirai. One of the 11 new exploits targets the WePresent WiPG-1000 Wireless Presentation systems, and another exploit targets LG Supersign TVs. Both of these devices are intended for use by businesses, which typically have networks that offer larger amounts of bandwidth than Mirai’s more traditional target of home consumers.

    • Routed IPsec VPNs are landing in IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 129

      The forthcoming Core Update will have some brilliant changes to our IPsec stack.

      These changes were required for a project that Lightning Wire Labs has been doing and are potentially a little bit niche. We have backported these as well from IPFire 3 where this feature is even more advanced and – to me – a lot more exciting, too.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • It Wasn’t Just Khashoggi: Saudi Crown Prince’s Brutal Drive to Crush Dissent

      At least some of the clandestine missions were carried out by members of the same team that killed and dismembered Mr. Khashoggi in Istanbul in October, suggesting that his killing was a particularly egregious part of a wider campaign to silence Saudi dissidents, according to the officials and associates of some of the Saudi victims.

      Members of the team that killed Mr. Khashoggi, which American officials called the Saudi Rapid Intervention Group, were involved in at least a dozen operations starting in 2017, the officials said.

      Some of the operations involved forcibly repatriating Saudis from other Arab countries and detaining and abusing prisoners in palaces belonging to the crown prince and his father, King Salman, the officials and associates said.

    • Saudi crown prince launched covert campaign to silence dissenters prior to Khashoggi killing: report

      American officials with knowledge of classified reports told the Times that the group of operatives which killed and dismembered Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October carried out several other missions against dissidents.

    • On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle

      British photojournalist Alan Gignoux and Venezuelan journalist-filmmaker Carolina Graterol, both based in London, went to Venezuela for a month to shoot a documentary for a major global TV channel. They talked with journalist Paul Cochrane about the mainstream media’s portrayal of Venezuela compared to their experiences on the ground.

      Paul Cochrane (PC): What were you doing in Venezuela, how long were you there and where did you go?

      Alan Gignoux (AG): We went in June 2018 for a month to shoot a documentary; I can’t disclose what channels it will be on right now, but it should be on air soon. We visited the capital Caracas, Mérida (in the Andes), Cumaná (on the coast), and Ciudad Guayana (near the mouth of the Orinoco river).

      PC: How did being in Venezuela compare to what you were seeing in Western media?

      Carolina Graterol (CG): I am a journalist, I have family in Venezuela, and I knew the reality was very different from what the media is portraying, but still I was surprised. The first thing we noticed was the lack of poverty. Alan wanted to film homeless and poor people on the streets. I saw three people sleeping rough just this morning in London, but in Venezuela, we couldn’t find any, in big cities or towns. We wanted to interview them, but we couldn’t find them. It is because of multi disciplinary programmes run by the government, with social services working to get children off the streets, or returned to their families. The programme has been going on for a long time but I hadn’t realized how effective it was.

      PC: Alan, what surprised you?

      AG: We have to be realistic. Things look worn down and tired. There is food, there are private restaurants and cafes open, and you could feel the economic crisis kicking in but poverty is not as bad as what I’ve seen in Brazil or Colombia, where there are lots of street children. Venezuela doesn’t seem to have a homeless problem, and the favelas have running water and electricity. The extreme poverty didn’t seem as bad as in other South American countries. People told me before going I should be worried about crime, but we worked with a lady from El Salvador, and she said Venezuela was easy compared to her country, where there are security guards with machine guns outside coffee shops. They also say a lot of Venezuelan criminals left as there’s not that much to rob, with better pickings in Argentina, Chile or wherever.

    • Serbia President Vows to Defend Law and Order Amid Protests

      Serbia’s president pledged Sunday to defend the country’s law and order a day after opposition supporters stormed the national TV station, protesting what they called his autocratic rule and biased grip on the country’s media.

      The opposition clashes with police on Saturday and Sunday in Belgrade, the capital, were the first major incidents after months of peaceful protests against populist President Aleksandar Vucic. The demonstrators are demanding his resignation, fair elections and a free media.

      As Vucic held a news conference Sunday in the presidency building in downtown Belgrade, thousands of opposition supporters gathered in front demanding his resignation and trapping him in the building for a few hours.

    • The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition

      In the early 1970s, a handful of Sandinistas were in the mountains of Nicaragua fighting to overthrow the 40-year U.S.-backed, brutal dictatorship of the Somoza family. When a powerful volcanic eruption struck Nicaragua in 1971, Sandinista Omar Cabezas later recounted, they told the peasants whom they encountered that God was punishing them for not getting rid of Somoza.

      After the Sandinistas triumphed in 1979, the U.S. waged a bloody war to take back the country with a terrorist paramilitary force called the contras, who regularly murdered civilians. President George H.W. Bush made it clear during the Sandinistas’ second election in 1990 that, although he was not God, he would continue to punish Nicaraguans with a trade embargo and war if they did not get rid of the Sandinistas. Weary of war, hyperinflation, and economic collapse, Nicaraguans voted for the opposition: The Sandinistas lost.

      Today the Trump administration is repeating the collective punishment strategyin Venezuela with a crippling financial embargo since August 2017 and, since January, a trade embargo. The financial embargo has prevented any measures that the government might use to get rid of hyperinflation or bring about an economic recovery, while knocking out billions of dollars of oil production. The trade embargo is projected to cut off about 60 percent of the country’s remaining meager foreign exchange earnings, which are needed to buy medicine, food, medical supplies, and other goods essential to many Venezuelans’ survival.

      Seeking to foment a military coup, a popular rebellion, or civil war, the Trump administration has made it clear that the punishment will continue until the current government is ousted. “Maduro must go,” said U.S. Vice President Mike Pence yet again in early March.

    • The World’s Most Dangerous Divide

      In the beautiful and terrifying novel The City of Devi, communal hatreds escalate in India and Pakistan until the two countries feel compelled to threaten each other with nuclear weapons. At least, it starts out as a threat. Pakistan vows to take out Mumbai, and India will level Karachi. But everyone involved knows that nuclear war doesn’t really work that way.

      “Nuclear bombs are like potato chips,” the author Manil Suri writes, “nobody can stop at just one. Every scenario predicts that a country under attack will launch all its weapons at once to avoid losing them.”

      The populations of the two cities panic. A great exodus takes place as residents flee by car, by train, even by foot, and the wealthy try to snag the last berths on the outgoing ships. A woman and a man traverse this chaos in search of the object of their affections: it’s love in the soon-to-be-ruins. They hope against hope that the bombs won’t fall. And then an accident happens, as they so often do, and Pakistan mistakenly launches one missile at Mumbai. And India retaliates with four strikes on Karachi.

    • ‘Clear Similarities’ in Boeing Crashes, Ethiopia Minister Says

      Preliminary information from the flight data recorder of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed a week ago and killed 157 people shows “clear similarities” with an earlier disaster involving the same kind of Boeing aircraft in Indonesia, Ethiopia’s transport minister said Sunday.

      The disclosure came as thousands marched in the capital of Addis Ababa, accompanying 17 empty caskets at a funeral for the Ethiopian victims of Flight 302. The caskets were empty because authorities have said that recovering and identifying the remains will take months.

      The crash of Ethiopian Flight 302 on March 10 and that of a Lion Air plane in Indonesia in October — both of them Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners — have prompted the United States and other countries to ground the aircraft.

    • Under Fire After Pair of Crashes, Filing Shows Boeing CEO’s 27% Raise Brought Pay to $23.4 Million in 2018

      As the aerospace giant and weapons manufacturer Boeing faces international outrage and government scrutiny following two deadly plane crashes in the last five months, financial filings showed the company’s chief executive received a 27 percent raise in 2018.

      Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s chairman and CEO, brought home $23.4 million in total compensation last year, up from $18.5 million the previous year. When stock options are included, Muilenburg pulled in around $30 million, according to Boeing’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing.

      Muilenburg’s raise is part of a broader trend of soaring CEO pay following President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, which disproportionately benefited the wealthiest Americans.

      According to a Wall Street Journal analysis on published Sunday, the median pay of 132 top CEOs climbed to $1 million per month in 2018.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Manning and the New Inquisition

      The U.S. government, determined to extradite and try Julian Assange for espionage, must find a way to separate what Assange and WikiLeaks did in publishing classified material leaked to them by Chelsea Manning from what The New York Times and The Washington Post did in publishing the same material. There is no federal law that prohibits the press from publishing government secrets. It is a crime, however, to steal them. The long persecution of Manning, who on March 8 was sent back to jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury, is about this issue.

      If Manning, a former Army private, admits she was instructed by WikiLeaks and Assange in how to obtain and pass on the leaked material, which exposed U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, the publisher could be tried for the theft of classified documents. The prosecution of government whistleblowers was accelerated during the Obama administration, which under the Espionage Act charged eight people with leaking to the media—Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Stephen Kim, Manning, Donald Sachtleben, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou and Edward Snowden. By the time Donald Trump took office, the vital connection between investigative reporters and sources inside the government had been severed.

      Manning, who worked as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009, provided WikiLeaks with over 500,000 documents copied from military and government archives, including the “Collateral Murder” video footage of an Army helicopter gunning down a group of unarmed civilians that included two Reuters journalists. She was arrested in 2010 and found guilty in 2013.

    • Before WikiLeaks, US Government Threatened Press Freedom With Grand Jury Investigations Into Pentagon Papers

      Chelsea Manning has been jailed for contempt in a county detention facility in Alexandria, Virginia, for over a week. She refused to testify before a federal grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks.

      The grand jury investigation has existed in some form since late 2010, and as the government holds Manning in jail, hoping this will coerce her to answer questions, prosecutors threaten press freedom by pursuing charges against WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange and other individuals who have worked on WikiLeaks publications.

      While President Barack Obama’s administration ran up against First Amendment protections that discouraged them from bringing conspiracy charges, President Donald Trump’s administration is apparently convinced it can circumvent these protections and still cobble together a conspiracy case.

      But it is not the first time a grand jury investigation launched by the United States government targeted journalists and undermined press freedom.

      When David House, a founding member of the Chelsea Manning Support Network, was subpoenaed and appeared before the WikiLeaks grand jury in June 2011, he contended President Barack Obama’s administration was employing “fear tactics” honed by prosecutors under Richard Nixon’s presidency.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • On Paying for a Green New Deal with Modern Monetary Theory

      Much of the Democratic Party, including almost the entire pack of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, has embraced the concept of a Green New Deal (GND). This is an ambitious plan for slashing greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time creating good-paying jobs, improving education, and reducing inequality.

      At this point, the specific policies entailed by these ambitious goals are largely up for grabs, as is the question of how to pay for this agenda. One way of paying for it, borrowing from the economic doctrine know as Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), is that we don’t have to.

      Modern Monetary Theory argues that a government that prints its own currency is not constrained in its spending by its tax revenue. Some on the left have argued that we can just print whatever money we need to finance a GND. This claim does not make sense.

      The logic of MMT’s claim is that, since the US government prints its own currency, it is not constrained by revenue from taxes, or what it borrows in credit markets. It can always just print the money it needs to cover its spending.

      If the government wants to spend another billion dollars paying workers to build roads or paying contractors for steel, who is going to turn down its money? They will just be happy to get the money, end of story.

      The limiting factor is that, at some point, this process can lead to inflation. If an economy has a substantial amount of excess capacity, meaning that there are a large number of unemployed workers and idle factories and other facilities, the additional spending due to printing money will just put some workers and factories to use. There should still be plenty of competitive pressure to limit wage and price increases.

    • Fire at Houston-Area Petrochemical Plant Rages as Company’s History of Violations Gets Renewed Scrutiny

      A petrochemical plant near Houston continued to burn for a second day on Monday, raising questions about the quality and safety of the air.

      The Deer Park facility is owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), which said the fire broke out at roughly 10:30am Sunday. Seven tanks are involved, the company said, and they contain naptha, xylene, “gas blend stocks,” and “base oil.”

      “It’s going to have to burn out at the tank,” Ray Russell, communications officer for Channel Industries Mutual Aid, which is aiding the response effort, said at a news conference. It could take “probably two days” for that to happen, he added.

    • ‘Maria! Maria! It Was Maria That Destroyed Us!’: The Human Story of the Hurricane

      Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017. One-and-a-half years later, many of the island’s more than 3 million U.S. citizens continue to be forgotten and ignored by the federal government.

      Earlier this year, Stan Cox and I stayed in the Sierra Brava neighborhood of Salinas, Puerto Rico, for three weeks. We spent part of that time documenting the post-Maria situation there.

    • Lawmaker Who Compared Green New Deal to Genocide Rakes in Oil Money

      The lawmaker who compared the Green New Deal to genocide last week has taken major campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies. Rob Bishop, a Republican congressman from Utah, expressed his opposition rather cryptically after a news conference in which Republican lawmakers called for hearings on New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s plan to address climate change.

      “For many people who live in the West, but also in rural and urban areas, the ideas behind the Green New Deal are tantamount to genocide,” Bishop said. When a reporter asked him to elaborate, he said: “I’m an ethnic. I’m a Westerner,” and also: “Killing would be positive if you implement everything the Green New Deal actually wants to.”

      The oil and gas industry has been Bishop’s top source of campaign cash throughout his career, accounting for $500,000 in donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He has taken significant campaign contributions from oil and gas industry giants like BP, Anadarko, Halliburton and Chevron, according to campaign finance data from the political research organization MapLight.

      The Green New Deal resolution seeks to get rid of carbon emissions and pollution while investing in high-paying jobs and strengthening labor laws. The legislation proposes a completely renewable energy system and clean transportation infrastructure to fight against the clock when it comes to climate change. It has nothing to do with targeted violence against an ethnic or religious group.

    • Two Dead, Hundreds Evacuated as ‘Historic’ Flooding Swamps Midwest

      Flooding caused by last week’s bomb cyclone storm has broken records in 17 places across the state of Nebraska, CNN reported Sunday. Around nine million people in 14 states along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were under a flood watch, CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis said.

    • Green New Deal aims for triple payback

      If you haven’t yet heard of the Green New Deal, chances are that you soon will. To its growing band of supporters, it looks like an idea whose time has come.

      Just suppose we could see a way to transform the global economy, society and even the environment so that they met real needs, and promised to go on doing so far into the future. Well, we can. And it’s growing simpler all the time, futurologists say.

      The bad news? Inertia and resistance. Too few of us think we really need a transformation. Too many are actively trying to prevent one. No change there then − except that the balance may be starting to shift, thanks largely to science and money − and ordinary people who are refusing to go on as we are.

      Supporters of the Green New Deal say we don’t have to look very far ahead for results − no further than about mid-century.

    • Over 1,000 Feared Dead After Cyclone Slams Into Mozambique

      More than 1,000 people were feared dead in Mozambique four days after a cyclone slammed into the country, submerging entire villages and leaving bodies floating in the floodwaters, the nation’s president said.

      “It is a real disaster of great proportions,” President Filipe Nyusi said.

      Cyclone Idai could prove to be the deadliest storm in generations to hit the impoverished southeast African country of 30 million people.

      It hit Beira, an Indian Ocean port city of a half-million people, late Thursday and then moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi with strong winds and heavy rain. But it took days for the scope of the disaster to come into focus in Mozambique, which has a poor communication and transportation network and a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy.

    • ‘Everything Is Destroyed’: 90% of Mozambique Port City Wrecked by Tropical Cyclone Idai

      Hundreds of people were killed and many more remain missing after a tropical cyclone destroyed 90 percent of the port city of Beira, Mozambique, before moving on to Malawi and Zimbabwe—eliciting fresh demands for bolder efforts to battle the climate crisis that is making extreme weather more common and devastating.

      An initial assessment from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Monday found that 90 percent of the city and the surrounding area “is completely destroyed” after experiencing a direct hit from Cyclone Idai last Thursday.

    • At Least 150 Dead, 1.5 Million Impacted as Cyclone Idai Slams Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe

      At least 150 people have died in a cyclone that devastated parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi over the weekend, The Associated Press reported Sunday. Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people since it hit Mozambique’s port city of Beira late Thursday, then traveled west to Zimbabwe and Malawi. Hundreds are still missing and tens of thousands are without access to roads or telephones.

    • Whale Dies After Swallowing 88 Pounds of Plastic Bags

      Yet another whale has died after ingesting plastic bags. A young male Cuvier’s beaked whale was found washed up in Mabini, Compostela Valley in the Philippines Friday, CNN reported. When scientists from the D’ Bone Collector Museum in Davao investigated the dead whale, they found it had died of “dehydration and starvation” after swallowing plastic bags―40 kilograms (approximately 88 pounds) worth of them!

    • A Global Strike for Climate Change: 1.4 Million Students Walk Out of Class Demanding Action

      Up to 1.4 million children around the world took part in a global climate strike on Friday to demand world leaders do more to address the dangers of climate. The mass protests were sparked by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has skipped school every Friday to sit outside the Swedish parliament to demand leaders act on climate change. Democracy Now! was in the streets of New York City on Friday with the young activists. We speak with 18-year-old Alysa Chen, one of the organizers of the walkout at New York City’s Bronx High School of Science.

    • ‘Off the Charts’: Catastrophic Flooding Wallops Midwest

      Nebraska residents are bracing for more record-breaking river levels as major flooding continues to affect portions of the Midwest.

      The still-unfolding catastrophe caused at least three known deaths across the region.

      The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said Sunday that 17 locations across the state had been hit by record flooding, and more records could be broken over the next two days. Flooding in some areas may continue until next weekend, the agency added.

      “Major to historic river flooding is expected to continue across parts of the Missouri and Mississippi River Basins,” the National Weather Service warned Monday, “due to rapid snow melt the past few days.”

      Suggesting the still-unfolding catastrophe is a sign of a “hot new world,” climate activist and author Bill McKibben tweeted, “The Midwest flooding is off the charts—at places in Nebraska, the Missouri is four feet higher than it’s ever been before.”

    • Some Carmakers Put Their Faith in the Trump Administration. It’s Costing Them.

      “Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.” This is something that everybody has to learn at some point. Lately, the lesson has hit home for a group of American automakers.

      Over the last several weeks, officials from the Trump administration have been meeting with representatives from big carmakers like GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler, in hopes of getting them to publicly support the president’s proposed freeze on Obama-era fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks. But even though some of these companies might want those standards to be relaxed to some degree, they’ve been forced to watch — and wince — as the administration speeds headlong into a legal brick wall. And honestly, what sort of automaker would ever endorse that kind of driving?

    • Silicon Valley’s Farm Bot Is as Dystopian as It Sounds

      How’re you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen… Angus? Not the cattle breed, but the 1,000-pound “farmer of the future.”
      Angus is a robot, toiling away on an indoor hydroponic farm that’s soilless as well as soulless. Programmed by a multimillion-dollar Silicon Valley start-up named Iron Ox, Angus’ homestead is an 8,000-square-foot concrete warehouse in a San Francisco suburb.
      The farm bot is more of a heavy lifter than a heavy thinker, wheeling around the warehouse to lift, move, and hand off large pallets produce to another robot that, so far, hasn’t earned a name. The human overseers of this robotic animal farm don’t wear John Deere caps, but clean-room hair nets, apparently to prevent anything organic from contaminating the edibles or the bots.
      Started by a Google engineer, Iron Ox hopes to install duplicates of its faux farm in metro areas across the country. “If we can feed people using robots,” he says, “what could be more impactful than that?”
      How about this: Reconnecting our food system to nature, a democratic economy, and humans?
      The roboticists brag that local warehouses can provide fresher lettuce than the mega farms ship from thousands of miles away. But local farmers markets already do that, and the consumer dollars stay in the community, rather than being siphoned off to Iron Ox and the Wall Street financiers of Angus robots.

    • European Moves to Restrict Palm Oil Have Enraged Malaysia and Indonesia

      “Don’t expect us to continue buying European products,” Malaysia’s former plantations minister Mah Siew Keong told reporters in January last year. His comments came just after he had accused the EU of “practising a form of crop apartheid.”

      A few months later Luhut Pandjaitan, an Indonesian government minister close to President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, warned his country would retaliate if it was “cornered” by the EU.

    • Exxon’s Climate Denial Comes Under Scrutiny in EU Parliament on Thursday
    • Environment Remains Under Siege Two Years Into the Trump Administration

      Two years into his presidency, Donald Trump has racked up some high-profile policy failures. There’s no wall spanning the length of our southern border, no denuclearization underway in North Korea, and ethics scandals have swamped his administration.

      But when it comes to environmental policy changes, the administration’s record of success has been remarkable.

      The Trump team has effectively stalled or reversed at least 78 major environmental rules, including broad national policies aimed at stemming and monitoring air and water pollution, curbing toxic substances in the environment, protecting wildlife, and conserving public lands.

      The administration has taken particular aim at stopping or slowing Obama-era directives and regulations aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas pollution that’s altering the climate. Trump lifted the previous administration’s coal-mining moratorium on federal lands, rolled back its curbs on both smog-causing and climate-heating pollution from oil and gas operations, power plants, and other industrial operations, and threw into doubt standards that would improve the fuel efficiency of cars, pickup trucks and SUVs.

    • Trump’s ‘Emergency’ Border Wall Threatens My Home

      For some people who live along the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump’s attempt to declare a national emergency and extend the border wall is worse than a wasteful, unconstitutional stunt. It’s an attack on their way of life that threatens to desecrate their loved ones’ graves.

    • What Norway’s Big Divestment Decision Means for Fracking, Tar Sands and Global Oil Exploration

      Norway’s sovereign wealth fund — a state-owned investment fund worth approximately a trillion dollars — recently announced it was divesting from oil and gas exploration companies around the world. Not surprisingly, many oil and gas stocks declined following the announcement.

      While this is good news for the climate, this was simply a smart business decision. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, known as the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), primarily exists due to Norwegian oil production. And the fund will continue to be a major investor in companies like Exxon.

      It appears it’s just cutting its losses on money-losing endeavors like fracking in America, tar sands oil production in Canada, and frontier exploration by UK companies in Africa and South-East Asia.

    • Wolves and Jaguars Are Already Threatened by Border Razor Wire As Trump Vetoes Bid to Block Emergency Wall Funding

      President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency Friday, overturning Congress’ vote to block his national emergency declaration to fund a border wall that environmental advocates say would put 93 endangered species at risk. However, the president’s decision came the same day as an in-depth report from UPI revealing how razor wire placed at the border in the last four months already threatens wildlife.

  • Finance
    • Gentrification, School Closings, and Displacement in Chicago

      Beginning in 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled an ambitious plan to shutter 330 underperforming public schools. The plan was soon whittled down to 54 schools citywide. Parents fought back in Bronzeville, an African American neighborhoodon Chicago’s South Side. If these schools were as terrible as Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials claimed, then why did parents and other residents use every tool at their disposal, including hunger strikes, to keep them open? Eve Ewing, a University of Chicago’s School of Social Service assistant professor, who was born, raised and still lives in in the city, documents one community’s struggle against the fallout from gentrification in Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side.

      The starkly different perceptions of what a neighborhood school means to a community can be chalked up to the perniciousness of segregation and structural racism. CPS officials had resorted to steep budget cuts, whittling away at the schools year after year. As families moved out of the area seeking better neighborhood schools, the student population dwindled. The school district finally fell back on a devious argument. The buildings, the officials said, were underutilized. But the Bronzeville schools also did not have enough assistant principals, counselors, or teachers. As one teacher told Ewing, who taught in Bronzeville before the closings: “People will take everything you have, then blame you for having nothing.”

      But where school system officials saw educational failure, parents saw vital African American institutions that had served families for generations. Parents developed close relationships with teachers and other school professional—and some of them lived in the neighborhood. These families knew the teachers, participated in events at the schools, and continued school-based get-togethers after children graduated. The schools were like community centers, and teachers were familiar faces in the area.

    • Federal Reserve Board Policy and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate

      Last week’s job report, in spite of the slow job growth for February, was actually pretty good news. As many of us pointed out, the most likely reason that the Labor Department reported only 20,000 new jobs in February, is that the economy reportedly added 311,000 jobs in January.

      There is always a substantial element of error in these numbers. If we envision that there is some underlying rate of job growth of say, 180,000 a month, if we get a number like January’s strong figure, it is reasonable to expect that job growth in subsequent months will be slower. Either the rapid growth in January was due to error in the survey, or alternatively many businesses may have decided that January was a good time to hire. In both cases, it is reasonable to expect slower growth in future months.

      If this just sounds like hand waving to cover up a bad story, consider that the non-seasonally adjusted change in employment in February was a plus 827,000 jobs. In other words, if we just looked at the raw data, the economy actually added a ton of jobs in February. Of course, the economy always adds lots of jobs in February. In 2018 it added 1,236,000 and in 2017 it added 1,030,000. This is why we have seasonal adjustments. But the adjustment is never perfect, and it is one of the factors that leads to error in the headline numbers that get so much attention.

      So we should not be too troubled by the weak job growth reported for February. However, as I noted in my jobs report, there was a drop in average weekly hours, which could presage lower hiring in future months. Also, several sectors, notably construction (both residential and non-residential) and manufacturing seem to be weakening, so there are some grounds for concern about slowing growth, apart from the 20,000 jobs reported for February.

    • The Gentrification of Payments

      A slow-moving phenomenon is unfolding all over the world. It will have serious consequences, but very few people are consciously aware of it, perhaps because it involves something seemingly banal and benign: the spread of digital payments. This phenomenon is not only occurring in the major cities of economically advanced nations, but also in poorer countries, often promoted via the “financial inclusion” programs of international development organizations in partnership with major financial institutions.

      The rise of digital payment (sometimes going under names like “e-money”, “plastic money” or “mobile money”), and the associated phasing out of physical cash, gives financial institutions and governments a new means of financial monitoring and control on an unprecedented scale. As I will argue, this can be seen as the gentrification of payments.

      The term “gentrification” usually refers to the neighborhood process in which a marginalized community — often characterized by informal economic networks, street markets and a rough edgy vibe — finds their environment gradually diluted by the influx of wealthier newcomers who price them out and use their community as the setting for new formal markets.

    • Federal Authorities Raided Trump Fundraiser’s Office in Money Laundering Probe

      Federal authorities raided the office of Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy last summer, seeking records related to his dealings with foreign officials and Trump administration associates, according to a sealed search warrant obtained by ProPublica.

      Agents were authorized to use the megadonor’s hands and face to unlock any phones that required fingerprint or facial scans.

      The Washington Post reported in August that the Justice Department was investigating Broidy. The sealed warrant offers new details of federal authorities’ investigation of allegations that Broidy had attempted to cash in on his Trump White House connections in dealings with foreign officials. It also shows that the government took a more aggressive approach with the Trump ally than was previously known, entering his office and removing records — just as it did with Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

      Broidy served as a major Trump campaign fundraiser and was the national deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee until he resigned in April 2018, when it was revealed he had agreed to secretly pay off a former Playboy model in exchange for her silence about their affair.

      The search warrant cites three potential crimes that authorities are investigating: conspiracy, money laundering and violations of the law barring covert lobbying on behalf of foreign officials. To obtain a search warrant, authorities have to convince a judge that there’s a probable cause they will find evidence of those specific crimes.

    • The U.S. college admission scandal: when brands, brand equity and status “break bad”

      Key to understanding a brand is that it creates an emotional connection between the mark identifying the brand and the consumers for whom the brand is intended. David Aaker extended the notion to “brand equity”, which includes the following features: (i) brand loyalty; (ii) brand awareness; (iii) perceived brand quality: and (iv) brand associations. Taking these notions together, connecting to a brand means creating an emotional bond with what the brand is believed to embody.

      But over time, the notion of a “brand” extended beyond the commercial context and become a synonym for virtually any sign that creates an emotional connection between it and some real or imagined good or service. How far this process has gone can be seen with respect to the well-publicized scandal over alleged criminal actions in the U.S. college admissions process.

    • Brexit chaos as speaker rules May must change her plan to get another vote

      Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans were thrown into further turmoil on Monday when the speaker of parliament ruled that she could not put her divorce deal to a new vote unless it was re-submitted in fundamentally different form.

    • The Real College Admissions Scandal Is Structural Inequality

      The indictments last week of a number of prominent people for paying bribes to get their children into elite colleges was perhaps more amusing than shocking. The fact that rich people are often able to buy their kids into schools is hardly a secret. After all, who believes that Donald Trump would have been accepted at the University of Pennsylvania, or his son-in-law Jared Kushner would have been attending Harvard, had it not been for their wealthy fathers?

      We also know about all the ways in which people who are affluent, but not super-rich, give their children a huge advantage in the college admissions process. These kids go to the best schools, either public or private, that prepare students to get into and attend an elite college. They also can count on help from tutors if they have difficulty in their classes and to improve their scores on standardized tests.

      In addition, the children of the affluent can count on being able to learn and master a musical instrument, which can make an applicant more attractive to an elite school. They may become expert at a less popular sport, like fencing or horseback riding, which can also make them appear well-rounded on a college application.

      And, if we’re making the comparison with more working–class children or those in a low-income household, the children of affluent families need never be concerned about work while they are in school. Nor do they need to worry that their families face eviction from being unable to pay the mortgage or rent.

      For these reasons and more, we already knew the children of the upper middle–class enjoy an enormous advantage in applying to elite schools over those with less money, even if their parents couldn’t afford to buy the school a new building. What we learned with the college admissions scandal is that there is a “side door” through which rich, but not super-rich, people could get their kids admitted to elite schools for which they would not otherwise be qualified.

    • School Daze: Use That Bribe Scandal to Fight for Debt-Free College

      This will come as no surprise to most sentient human beings but we have an education crisis in this country that begins with the Cheeto Benito in the White House and trickles down all the way to households in which a child has never had a storybook read to them.

      That my generation, as a wise man once said, is the first to teach the next generation less than we know goes beyond a sad commentary on our growing collective ignorance to reflect a society in which the best education is too often reserved for the scions of the high and mighty, the children of the very wealthy.

      As for the rest, there seems a willful effort among many of those in political power to look askance at knowledge or expertise and to keep the rest of the populace as dumb as or dumber than they are. In the minds of our president and his pals, perhaps this makes for a more complaisant albeit angry voter. But it certainly does not yield a better citizen.

      Last week’s revelation of a big college bribery scandal among the rich and famous is further proof of the vast inequality between rich and poor and the plutocracy’s willingness to game the schools for themselves while ignoring the educational plight of everyone else. Parents, including Hollywood notables Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, allegedly used wads of cash to cheat on their kids’ entrance exams or to buy and fake their way into university sports scholarships claiming non-existent athletic prowess. FBI Special Agent Joseph Bonavolonta told NPR, “Some spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million for guaranteed admission. Their actions were, without a doubt, insidious, selfish and shameful.”

    • US general alleges Pakistan $10bn in debt as result of China’s “predatory economics”

      Pakistan is at least $10bn in debt to China for work carried out on the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), one of the centrepieces of the China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to evidence given to the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.

      General Joseph Dunford, chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the debt was evidence of Beijing’s use of “predatory economics” to expand its global influence.

      He said: “Pakistan owes China at least $10bn for the construction of Gwadar Port and other projects … China is diligently building an international network of coercion through predatory economics to expand its sphere of influence.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Being Better Than Republicans Is Not Good Enough

      Progressives often applaud the idea of “speaking truth to power.” But this concept is hazardous. If taken literally and deployed as a single-minded strategy, it can divert attention from the crucial need to take power away from those who abuse it. Political movements don’t get very far if they depend on appealing to the moral scruples of the powerful.

      While noting that “power without love is reckless and abusive,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out that “love without power is sentimental and anemic.” All too often, progressive activists don’t realize their own potential power when they rely on ethical arguments to persuade authorities. Appealing to the hearts of people who run a heartless system is rarely effective.

      Humane principles are low priorities in the profit-driven scheme of things, as the devastating impacts of economic inequality and militarism attest. By and large, rapacious power already knows what it’s doing — from Wall Street and the boardrooms of mega-corporations to the Pentagon and the top echelons of the “national security” state.

      Speaking truth to power is fine, but it’s far more important — and potentially transformational — to focus on public education efforts, agitation and organizing that speaks truth about power while challenging it. Only by mobilizing to take power can we realistically hope to overcome and dismantle the dominant power structures.

      In 1967, when Dr. King was describing “love without power” as “sentimental and anemic,” the most meaningful efforts to express love for Vietnamese people involved striving to stop the U.S. government from killing them. Speaking truth to powerful elites could be helpful, but for Americans the moral imperative was to speak truth to each other in a process of trying to end the war.

    • Will McConnell buck the voters?

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has built a career on weakening our democracy. Nothing seems to bring out the passion in the famously stoic McConnell more than opposing pro-democracy reforms.

      Well, now he has the challenge of a lifetime. The House of Representatives has just passed HR1, the For the People Act, the most sweeping pro-democracy and anti-corruption measure of the past 50 years. McConnell has denounced HR1 and pledged that he will block it from coming to the floor of the Senate.

      But if McConnell is so eager to hold a vote on the Green New Deal, a legislative proposal that he strongly opposes, why is he so committed to blocking Senate consideration of HR1? Could it be that he thinks Republicans will have a hard time voting against pro-democracy reforms? Is he worried that voters may hold accountable defenders of the current corrupt political system?

    • ‘Political Reptilian Brains’: Cuomo Blasts Democrats and the Left

      In a far-ranging interview Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo criticized fellow Democrats and what he called an anti-business mentality in his state that he believes was part of a political miscalculation which cost the state an Amazon facility in New York City.

      Cuomo’s remarks came during a 33-minute interview with Alan Chartock, chief executive officer of NPR affiliate WAMC.

      Throughout the conversation, Cuomo repeatedly decried what he defined as a “political reptilian brain” on the part of politicians to act based purely on “fight or flight” instincts and placed much of the blame for his current problems with his party on said response.

      The governor leveled particular criticism at some of his fellow New York Democrats—including, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Jimmy Vielkind, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Democratic state Sen. Mike Gianaris, the state Senate Majority Leader. All three opposed the Amazon headquarters project in Queens, which ended when the company pulled out citing an unfavorable political environment.

    • ‘One of the World’s Most Respected Intelligence Services’: Bolsonaro’s Bring-Your-Son-to-the-CIA Day

      Nearly 55 years after the CIA backed a coup d’état that overthrew Brazil’s democratically-elected government, the nation’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro raised eyebrows on Monday with an unusual and unannounced trip to the spy agency’s U.S. headquarters.

      Bolsonaro is officially in town to meet with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, the Brazilian’s first bilateral meeting with a head of state since taking office in January. His visit to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia was revealed by his son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, in a tweet on Monday morning.

    • ‘Total Embarrassment’: WaPo Rebuked for Failed Fact-Check of Sanders on Trillion-Dollar Wall Street Bailout

      Kessler took issue with a line the Vermont Independent and 2020 presidential contender often includes in his stump speeches: “Not one major Wall Street executive went to jail for destroying our economy in 2008 as a result of their greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior. No. They didn’t go to jail. They got a trillion-dollar bailout.”

      Dismissing the trillion-dollar figure as “a nice round number” that is “not borne out by the facts,” Kessler added up the amount of aid major banks received through the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

      Even under an expansive definition of Wall Street, Kessler asserted, the bailout amounted to “just over $500 billion—or half a trillion.” Under the Post’s vaguely defined scoring system, Kessler rewarded Sanders with two “Pinocchios.”

      But Sanders’ team and other critics were quick to argue that Kessler’s focus on TARP funds was overly narrow and neglected emergency loans from the Federal Reserve that amounted to trillions of dollars in bailout money that kept Wall Street afloat.

      “If anything, Senator Sanders has underestimated the size of the post-crisis bailouts,” Arianna Jones, a spokeswoman for Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, told the Post. Jones pointed to several studies and news reports showing that Fed loans exceeded a trillion dollars and may have been as high as $29 trillion.

      “Sorry, Wall Street got a MULTI-trillion bailout,” tweeted Warren Gunnels, Sanders’ staff director.

    • Washington Post Fact-Checker Creates His Own Reality

      Because we have a president who says anything that pops into his mind and expects it to be accepted as the absolute truth, fact-checking has become a popular news genre for certain journalists. Sometimes, those people could look within to focus more on fact-checking themselves before fact-checking others. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, for example, has somehow made a career for himself rating politicians’ statements based on the unscientific and unquantifiable method of “Pinocchios.” Even the idea that falsehoods exist on a scale seems not particularly journalistic.

      On Monday, Kessler gave independent Vermont Sen. and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders two Pinocchios for a statement that was correct, and that Sanders’ staffers then backed up with evidence.

    • Neither Debs Nor Brandeis, Or Why it is a Mistake Now to Exaggerate Differences on the Left

      The piece below is a critical response to a recent piece published in Jacobin, the widely-read publication that bills itself as “a leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture. The print magazine is released quarterly and reaches over 30,000 subscribers, in addition to a web audience of 1,00,000 a month.” I hoped to publish it in Jacobin , but its editors were not interested in the piece, which runs counter to their editorial perspective. So I sent it to Dissent, which bills itself as “ one of America’s leading intellectual journals and a mainstay of the democratic left.” Its editors were not interested in running a critique of a piece published in Jacobin. As a long-time editor myself, I have total respect and admiration for the above-mentioned editors, who do a fine job of piloting their journals and advancing the missions of those journals. At the same time, as someone who believes that real dialogue on the broad left is important, it is of some concern that each of these fine journals seems satisfied to proceed in relative disregard of the other. Fortunately, Public Seminar exists as a space for such dialogue across the broad liberal and democratic left. Such spaces are as important now as they have ever been.

      In his recent Jacobin piece, “You Can Have Brandeis or You Can Have Debs,” Shawn Gude insists that it is important to be clear about who is a socialist and who is not. He maintains that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders “draw their lineage from distinct political traditions,” and that “Warren’s political tradition is the left edge of middle-class liberalism; Sanders hails from America’s socialist tradition. Or, to put the distinction in more personal terms: Warren is Louis Brandeis, Sanders is Eugene Debs.” His essay’s subtitle accurately underscores the point: “Don’t confuse the two.”

      Gude sees Warren as “a regulator at heart who believes that capitalism works well as long as fair competition exists,” and sees Sanders as “a class-conscious tribune who sees capitalism as fundamentally unjust.” He draws a convincing genealogy linking Warren to Brandeis, both legal scholars and activists concerned to regulate the abuses of corporate capitalism, and both liberals (and not radicals or socialists).“Brandeis” he argues, “put his ideals into action in 1910 when he helped settle a New York garment workers’ strike. Brandeis, advancing his conception of ‘industrial self-government,’ assisted in setting up three boards with worker representation that handled labor-management disputes and oversaw labor conditions.” Debs, on the other hand, was an anti-capitalist sought to create a “cooperative commonwealth” centered on labor solidarity, struggle, and empowerment. “Power had to be ripped from the employer class through voting and strikes and class unity. No amount of fair-minded bargaining, no amount of cool reasoning, could close the structural gulf between workers and capitalists.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark

      According to CNN Business, “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter struggle to deal with New Zealand shooting video.”

      “Deal with” is code for “censor on demand by governments and activist organizations who oppose public access to information that hasn’t first been thoroughly vetted for conformity to their preferred narrative.”

      Do you really need to see first-person video footage of an attacker murdering 49 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand?

      Maybe not. Chances are pretty good you didn’t even want to. I suspect that many of us who did (I viewed what appeared to be a partial copy before YouTube deleted it) would rather we could un-see it.

      But whether or not we watch it should be up to us, not those governments and activists. Social media companies should enable our choices, not suppress our choices at the censors’ every whim.

      If Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube had been primary news sources in 1915, would they have permitted us to view footage (rare, as film was in its early days) of New Zealanders’ desperate fight at Gallipoli?

    • Putin has signed into law Russia’s ‘fake news’ and ‘Internet insults’ bans

      Vladimir Putin has signed two controversial new laws, despite widespread public controversy. The legislation penalizes Internet users and online media for publishing “unreliable” information of social significance or spreading “obscene” criticisms of the Russian government, its symbols, or some of its members.

    • Russia’s Putin signs law banning fake news, insulting the state online

      President Vladimir Putin has signed into law tough new fines for Russians who spread what the authorities regard as fake news or who show “blatant disrespect” for the state online, an official portal for legal information showed on Monday.

      Critics have warned that the legislation could create a mechanism for state censorship, but lawmakers say the new measures are needed to combat false news reports and abusive online comments.

      The legislation grants authorities the power to block websites if they fail to comply with requests to remove information that the state deems to be factually inaccurate.

      Under the new law, individuals can be fined up to 400,000 rubles ($6,100) for circulating false information online that leads to a “mass violation of public order”.

    • Court Dismissed Lawsuit Brought Against Social Media Companies Alleging An Anti-Conservative Conspiracy

      Alt-right sideshows Laura Loomer and Larry Klayman sued Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Apple for [checks filing] participating in a government-enabled conspiracy to deplatform Freedom Watch/Loomer in order to further a leftist agenda, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Their complaint alleged violations of the Sherman Act, DC’s public accommodation law, and the First Amendment. In support of these allegations, the plaintiffs offered vague theories about “public platforms” and some misreadings of pertinent court precedent. (via Eric Goldman)

      After a round of motions, the court has ruled in favor of everyone being sued. The decision [PDF] makes it clear none of the arguments made by the plaintiffs hold water, much less achieve complete coherence. The only thing the court agrees with is that Loomer and Freedom Watch have standing to bring the suit. But standing is only worth something when your arguments have merit.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Beware the Tech Industry’s Latest Privacy Trojan Horse

      A tech startup is pushing a set of state bills disguised as medical data privacy measures — but they’re really focused on profits not patients.

      Did you hear the story about the do-gooder tech company that is pushing new state “privacy” bills across the nation?

      The pitch by that company, Hu-manity.co — which is so effective its Oregon bill was introduced with more than 40 co-sponsors — is that patients’ health information is being sold for big money without their consent and without providing them any compensation. The solution these bills propose is to prohibit such information from being sold without patients’ permission and without giving them a cut of the profits when their information is sold. Sounds like a big win for privacy and consumers.

      Only it’s not. Beware the tech industry’s latest privacy Trojan Horse.

      If these bills were purely designed to prevent the sale of patient’s personal information without their express permission, the ACLU would wholeheartedly support such “opt-in” privacy measures. But that is far from these bills’ goal.

      Hu-manity.co’s real goal is to use state legislation to create a new way for data sellers to profit off of consumers’ personal information. The current bills being pursued are limited to medical patients, but future iterations are likely to cover a broader range of consumers.

    • ICE Has Access To ALPR Databases, Bypasses Internal Restrictions By Outsourcing Searches To Local Cops

      ICE has been wanting full access to the billions of license plate records stored in ALPR databases for years. The DHS first floated the idea more than five years ago. It was reined in briefly in response to public backlash and Congressional criticism, but the idea of a national ALPR database was never truly killed off.

      ICE was the agency sending out quote requests for a national database access. A few minimal protections were put in place, but all that was holding ICE back was logistics. The contract was finalized at the beginning of last year, hooking ICE up with ALPR records gathered by the hundreds of plate readers operated by local law enforcement agencies. Now, all that third party work is paying off.

      [...]

      As the ACLU points out, these informal requests allow ICE to bypass the internal processes that are supposed to ensure access to this wealth of plate/location data is justified. The communications contained in these documents show ICE repeatedly ignoring these requirements.

      At this point, everything will have to be fixed in post. Cops have been utilizing plate readers for years and Vigilant has been storing the billions of plate records generated every year for just as long. The DHS never needed to build a national license plate/location database. One was being built while it put on its little charade about respecting rights and citizens’ freedom to move around the country without being surveilled.

      The ACLU is demanding legislators enact more privacy protections for this data and engage in some actual oversight, but that ship has been sailing for years. ICE’s access was an inevitability. It enacted privacy protections just so it could ignore them by asking local law enforcement to perform database searches. And it was all sold to the public with assurances ALPR tech would hunt down car thieves, kidnappers, and violent criminals. In reality, it’s being used to track people who’ve overstayed their visas.

    • Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, Fourteen Eyes Countries – Understanding Surveillance Groups

      Today we’re going to help build your understanding of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes surveillance groups, what countries participate and what surveillance information they share.

      [...]

      Five Eyes is an international surveillance agreement made between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The pact allows for complete intelligence sharing between the nations, including documents relating to citizen surveillance and logs of online activity.

      The Five Eyes alliance has wartime origins that stretch back to the 1940s, though the greatest deals were struck during the cold war era in the decades that followed. Back then, most activities were related to monitoring suspicious individuals with direct connections to international threats. With the proliferation of online technology, however, the agreement continued and extended to include nearly every member of the countries in question.

    • How Cambridge Analytica Sparked the Great Privacy Awakening

      Cambridge Analytica had purchased Facebook data on tens of millions of Americans without their knowledge to build a “psychological warfare tool,” which it unleashed on US voters to help elect Donald Trump as president. Just before the news broke, Facebook banned Wylie, Cambridge Analytica, its parent company SCL, and Aleksandr Kogan, the researcher who collected the data, from the platform. But those moves came years too late and couldn’t stem the outrage of users, lawmakers, privacy advocates, and media pundits. Immediately, Facebook’s stock price fell and boycotts began. Zuckerberg was called to testify before Congress, and a year of contentious international debates about the privacy rights of consumers online commenced. On Friday, Kogan filed a defamation lawsuit against Facebook.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Black Lives on Trial

      March 18, 2018. Sacramento, California. Two police officers, Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, respond to a 9-1-1 call about an individual breaking car windows. They track the suspect down. They see the suspect is holding a gun. Or a tool bar. They fire twenty rounds.

      Seven bullets enter Stephon Clark’s body from the back. One hits his chest.

      Clark, a 22 year-old black man in his grandmother’s backyard, falls to his death.

      Turns out what he was holding was not a gun or a tool bar, but a cell phone.

      Almost a year goes by. On March 2, 2019, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announces that no criminal charges would be filed against Mercadal and Robinet. The officers had not broken the law.

      Schubert proceeds by pointing out that Clark had recently been accused of assaulting the mother of his children. He had exchanged threatening text messages with his fiancé. He had looked online for information on penalties for domestic violence. He had searched the internet about suicide methods. He had drugs in his system the night of the shooting.

    • The Myth of White Meritocracy

      The recent college admissions cheating scandal involving parents accused of committing bribery and fraud to get their children into elite schools raises two issues: the myth of meritocracy for the privileged and the continued denigration of affirmative action for the less-privileged.

      While most of society will publicly denounce what these parents did, it is in some ways nothing new. People with power and privilege have always done whatever they can to maintain it, while claiming that they simply worked hard and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. Then they tell everyone else to do the same, a message specifically targeted toward historically oppressed groups.

      Meanwhile, affirmative action has been called everything from welfare to reverse discrimination. It is more accurately defined, to quote the National Conference of State Legislatures, as “admission policies that provide equal access to education for those groups that have been historically excluded or underrepresented, such as women and minorities.”

      As a black woman, I have experienced misapprehension and resentment about affirmative action firsthand. When I was in graduate school, a white male student and I were having a discussion on race. He told me he couldn’t get a scholarship when he was an undergraduate because undeserving black students were taking all the scholarship money. He blamed this on affirmative action.

    • Protest Condemns ‘Horrible Politics of Division’ as Fascist Jair Bolsonaro Arrives in US to Meet With Trump

      As Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrived in Washington, D.C. on Sunday ahead of a planned meeting with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, demonstrators rallied outside the White House to condemn the “horrible politics of division” deployed by both leaders to gain power and harm vulnerable communities.

      The U.S. trip represents Bolsonaro’s first bilateral meeting with another head of state since his inauguration in January, which followed a presidential campaign filled with fascistic threats and attacks on the LGBTQ community, women, and people of color.

      Since taking office, Bolsonaro has moved quickly to curtail the rights of marginalized people, privatize Brazil’s public services, and open the Amazon to business exploitation.

    • Chechen human rights icon Oyub Titiev sentenced to four years for controversial drug-possession conviction

      Chechnya’s Shalinsky District Court has convicted human rights activist Oyub Titiev of illegal drug possession, sentencing him to four years in a penal colony settlement.

      Titiev, who heads the Chechen branch of the human rights organization Memorial, was arrested in January 2018. Police say they found 200 grams of marijuana in his car, but Titiev maintains that the drugs were planted in his vehicle.

    • Will Decentralization of Neo-Nazism Spur More Right-Wing Terrorism?

      For the first time in decades, it is possible that there will be no U.S. neo-Nazi party large enough to hold public rallies. In a story worthy of a plot-twisting HBO special, Black civil rights activist James Stern convinced the leader of the largest U.S. neo-Nazi party, the National Socialist Movement (NSM), to officially make him their president in order to help protect the party from a lawsuit. Afterward, he said, “As a Black man, I took over a neo-Nazi group and outsmarted them,” and that he intends to dismantle the group from within.

      The NSM is important for opponents of the far right to watch because it is the largest open neo-Nazi group in the United States. As such, it is the furthest stop for a public, organized group on the right wing of the political spectrum. And after the 2018 collapse of the Traditionalist Worker Party, another large fascist party, the NSM has been the only neo-Nazi group able to hold public demonstrations of even a moderate size.

      This, in combination with several other recent events, marks the third major blow dealt to the white nationalist movement since 2016. The first was the wave of deplatforming after Charlottesville. (“Deplatforming” refers to the practice of cancelling digital and other services for certain political groups; for example, when PayPal cancels the accounts of racist groups.) The second was the March 2018 meltdown, when the Traditionalist Worker Party collapsed after a leadership sex scandal, and “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer’s college tour ended after a disastrous finale in Michigan.

    • How Disability Rights Advocates Turned Back the Trump Administration’s Attack on Students of Color

      Rules designed to help children of color and children with disabilities will go into immediate effect.
      Earlier this month, in response to a lawsuit from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, a national disability rights group, a federal district court ruled that the Trump administration violated federal law when it delayed a Department of Education rule designed to protect students of color and students with disabilities.

      Children of color are significantly more likely to be identified as needing special education than their peers. According to the department and decades of research and data, there is a “strong concern” that many of these children have been improperly identified to their detriment.

      Congress addressed the problem of significant disproportionality in both the 1997 and 2004 reauthorizations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under the law, states are required to identify school districts with significant disproportionality in identification, placement, and discipline and take actions to address the disproportionality.

      But states had broad discretion in how to define significant disproportionality, and as a result, relatively few districts were identified as disproportionate by states, despite overwhelming data showing a disproportionality problem. Accordingly, the department issued regulations in 2016 to better understand the extent of and address racial and ethnic overrepresentation in special education.

    • Can Prosecutors Dismiss Jurors for Agreeing With the O.J. Simpson Verdict?

      California’s highest court ruled that the O.J. verdict question was “race neutral.” The Supreme Court now has a chance to weigh in.
      Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on executions in California has highlighted the pernicious role race has played in who gets the death penalty in that state. In a case now awaiting review, the U.S. Supreme Court will have an opportunity to examine whether discriminatory tactics in jury selection in a California capital case can stand.

      It has long been settled that prosecutors may not dismiss citizens from a jury because they are Black. But can they dismiss them because they supported the verdict in the O.J. Simpson case? The California Supreme Court treated a prosecutor’s invocation of a juror’s views on the O.J. Simpson verdict as a “race-neutral” reason that justified the dismissal of a Black juror. If the rule forbidding race discrimination in the selection of jurors is to have any real effect, such reasons cannot be accepted as race-neutral without further inquiry.

      As everyone — except, apparently, the California Supreme Court — knows, opinions about the verdict in O.J. Simpson’s trial in the late 1990s divided overwhelming along racial lines. A CNN poll following the verdict showed that just 41 percent of white respondents agreed with the verdict, compared with 88 percent of Black respondents.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • The Internet Archive is working to preserve public Google+ posts before it shuts down

      Google is set to begin deleting data from its beleaguered social network, Google+ in April, but before that happens, the Internet Archive and the ArchiveTeam say that they are working to preserve public posts on the platform before they vanish forever.

    • Verizon Confirms That Yes, 5G Will Cost You Extra

      By now we’ve established that while fifth-generation (5G) wireless will result in faster, more resilient networks, the technology has been over-hyped to an almost nauseating degree. Yes, faster, lower latency networks are a good thing, but 5G is not as paradigm-rattling as most wireless carriers and hardware vendors have led many in the press to believe. 5G is more of a useful evolution than a revolution, but it has become the equivalent of magic pixie dust in tech policy circles, wherein if you simply say “it will lead to faster deployment of 5G!” you’ll immediately add gravitas to your otherwise underwhelming K Street policy pitch.

      Throughout all of the hype, carriers have been really hesitant to discuss what’s perhaps the most important question: how much will 5G cost? After all, next-generation connectivity is only going to help boost broadband competition if it’s both ubiquitous and affordable, two things the US wireless industry has never really been known for. And now that the carrier lobbyists have effectively convinced the Pai FCC to neuter itself, that question has only become more important.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Flex Joins Open Invention Network Community
    • Guest Post — Antibody-Drug Conjugates: Further Patents on Linkers [Ed: Saying "something is difficult" hence I want a patent even when such patents pertain to nature and life itself]

      As evidenced by the flurry of intellectual property activity surrounding ADC linker chemistries and the growing proportion of ADCs in the clinical pipeline, it is likely that innovations in linker stability and selectivity will continue to provide novel opportunities for the biopharmaceutical industry. Considering the intense research efforts and potential for overlap for ADCs, novel developments and adept patent claiming can be fruitful areas of investment for organizations seeking to advance the field of linker chemistry.

    • Qualcomm Wins First U.S. Jury Trial Against Apple
    • U.S. Court Rejects Alvogen’s Patent Challenge for Celgene’s Cancer Drug
    • Infringement, Unbound

      Patents are intended to strike a delicate balance — to encourage innovation by rewarding past invention without unduly hindering future progress. In order to achieve this balance, patent rights are bounded by limitations on subject matter, term, and scope. Like fence posts, scholars tell us, these limits serve as important signals — to both the patent owner (staking her claim) and to “neighbors” (who can create without infringing, using the fence posts as a guide). But what happens if these carefully-drawn boundaries are later loosened by enforcement rules in unpredictable ways? At first glance, that appears to be what is happening in recent years. In response to sophisticated technology and a global cross-border marketplace, patent enforcement doctrines are changing. For example, courts and lawmakers sometimes relax application of the requirement that all elements of a claim must be met in the United States when the infringer is engaged in a cross-border act. And manufacturers and retailers may be held liable for the infringement of their customers as “indirect” infringers.

    • Proximate Cause and Patent Law

      The U.S. Supreme Court’s WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp. decision provides the opportunity to open a policy space for proximate cause in patent litigation. As the country’s highest Court has pushed patent law, as well as other statutory torts, in the same direction as other civil causes of action, the full adoption of proximate cause in all monetary forms of recovery appears to be inevitable. At this time, a full adoption of this complex, multidimensional requirement will allow the patent system to resolve several troubling existing problems, including the appropriate extraterritorial reach of the system. Properly implemented, proximate cause in patent law can resolve other difficulties that are explored in this article. These include accounting for the social benefits of infringing implementations, the multiple serial plaintiff problem, and the problem of patent infringement actions brought against end-user consumers as some examples. As the patent system joins other civil causes of action in implementing proximate cause, it is likely that other problems can be implemented and resolved so long as the standard is modified to account for the unique policy problems of the patent system.

    • Broadened Claims and Written Description

      In its original decision in the case, a 2-1 appellate panel upheld a jury’s $140 million verdict in favor of the patent holder Sprint. Time Warner petitioned for rehearing on two grounds: (1) damages apportionment; and (2) written description requirement. In response, the appellate panel has slightly modified its original opinion — but only to better explain its damages decision. As such, the $140 million verdict remains.

    • The invention here is a treatment claim — that is therefore patent eligible.

      Earlier this week I wrote about a separate Natural Alternatives reexamination appeal pending before the US Supreme Court on the issue of improper priority claims.

      The case at hand focuses on patent eligibility. Natural Alternatives sued Creative for infringing six of its patents covering various forms of the naturally-occurring compound beta-alanine and its use as a muscle-building supplement. The district court dismissed the lawsuit on the pleadings for lack of eligibility — finding that the claims were directed toward a product of nature (beta-alanine) and a law of nature (that taking beta-alanine in sufficient quantities builds muscle).

      On appeal the Federal Circuit has sided with the patentee. In an opinion written by Judge Moore and joined by Judge Wallach, the court explained that we shouldn’t take the law-of-nature prohibition too far since “[w]e live in the natural world, and all inventions are constrained by the laws of nature.”

      [...]

      The court considered the fact that beta-alanine occurs in nature and is very longstanding part of the human diet. In the end, however, the court found that the law “expressly permits patenting a new use of an existing product.” Here, the patentee argues that “the quantities being administered” do not exist in nature.

      At this point in the analysis, claim construction became important. At the pleadings stage, the district court agreed to follow the patentee’s proposed construction that would require that the dosage “elevate beta-alanine above natural levels to cause an increase in the synthesis of beta-alanylhistidine in the tissue.”

    • Supreme Court Shows its Interest in New Eligibility Case

      In this case, the Supreme Court has requested input from the U.S. Government — requesting the views of the U.S. Solicitor General (CVSG). The SG’s office will likely submit its brief in December 2019 — so we have a nice wait on this question presented:

      The question presented is whether patents that claim a method of medically treating a patient automatically satisfy Section 101 of the Patent Act, even if they apply a natural law using only routine and conventional steps.

      Although Hikma did not declare all method-of-treatment claims automatically patent eligible. It appears that the court has doubled-down in Natural Alternatives Int’l. Inc. v. Creative Compounds, LLC (Fed. Cir. 2019) (“These are treatment claims and as such they are patent eligible.”).

    • WIPO Election: Who Will Run To Be The Next DG?

      WIPO did not respond to a request by press time, but it does not appear that there is a timeline set up yet for the 2020 election. Based on the past, it seems likely that candidates will start being made official in fall of 2019, with the election in spring of 2020. Note that none of the people listed in this article confirmed their intention to run for director general.

      [...]

      Meanwhile, a seemingly new arrival on the whisper circuit is Dámaso Pardo of Argentina. Pardo is the head of Argentina’s Instituto Nacional de la Propiedad Industrial (INPI) and current chair of the important WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP).

      It might possibly be considered that Argentina also has the head of a UN agency in Geneva. Lelio Marmora has been Executive Director of UNITAID since 2014.

    • Drawings cannot be used to limit scope of protection

      On 12 February 2019, the Barcelona Court of Appeal (Section 15) issued an interesting judgment clarifying the role played by “drawings” for the purpose of interpreting the scope of protection of a patent. This judgment has reversed a judgment of 12 December 2017 from Barcelona Commercial Court number 1 which, according to the Court of Appeal, unduly relied on a drawing illustrating a preferred embodiment of the invention to limit the scope of protection of the claims. In particular, in paragraph 12 of this recent judgment, the Court of Appeal concluded that:

      “12. We cannot accept that conclusion, since it is based on an interpretation – incorrect, in our view – of the purpose of a patent’s drawing. The defendant claims that, according to the drawings, the plug stem or closure cannot be inserted through the upper part because there is simply no room; therefore, it can only by inserted through the lower part of the inlet channel (or central valve).

    • Trademarks
      • Apple Objects To Norway Political Party’s Logo Claiming Potential Customer Confusion Over Trademark

        Apple has a long and storied history of playing make believe that only it can, in any way, use the image of an apple in any sort of branding. Despite trademark laws around the world generally being built on the notion that branding must be used in commerce, must be in a related industry, and must cause or have the potential to cause confusion in the public, Apple’s lawyers have generally demurred on the subtle aspects of these laws. This has led to disputes with small German cafes, with Chinese food manufacturers, and with pharmacies. It can be said without question that such disputes initiated by Apple are specious at best, but it can at least be said in Apple’s defense that each of those cases involve a foe that was a private, commercial business.

    • Copyrights
      • Trying to understand Article 13

        As IPKat readers know, next week the European Parliament will vote on the draft Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market.

        This blog is happy to host the following analysis of one of the most debated provisions in that draft legislative instrument, ie Article 13, as offered by Katfriend Prof Dirk Visser (Leiden University). The text of the full analysis is available here.

        [...]

        Following that, the OCSSPs must allow either the uploader or the rightholder to complain, and have a human make a decision. That decision can then be appealed through an ‘out-of-court redress mechanism’, to be provided by the Member-States. And that decision can then be contested in a regular court.

        Furthermore, it is imaginable that start-ups might try to remain below the thresholds of an annual turnover of EUR 10 million and the number of monthly unique visitors of 5 million, in order to avoid being considered an OCSSP.

        It is quite certain that OCSSPs, and the rightholders involved, should not wait until the date of entry into force of the Directive before organising ‘stakeholder dialogues to discuss best practices for the cooperation’ between them.

      • 9 Best Pirate Bay Alternatives Working When TPB Is Down [March 2019]

        What do the fans do when The Pirate Bay is down due to an error or federal action? They have to accept the hard truth and look for some alternatives to The Pirate Bay or ripoffs like thepiratebay3.org.

        Commonly known as TPB, the popular torrent site has been around for almost 15 years currently running on thepiratebay.org domain. When its founders were arrested back in 2013, The Pirate Bay was outperformed by KickAss Torrents which itself had to bite the dust later (here are some KAT alternatives). Eventually, TPB was able to regain its throne and currently tops the list of the best torrent sites for 2019.

      • The best torrent clients

        As much as streaming platforms are fantastic for watching all forms of media and cloud providers make transferring files between people relatively quick and simple, many people still rely on torrents for sharing content with friends and fans all over the world.

        We’ve trimmed the wheat from the digital chaff and have picked out a few of our favorite torrent clients to give you the best sharing experience. Before you go any further, it should be noted that torrents are sometimes used for illegal piracy, and Digital Trends does not condone that use in any guise. For help on getting started with torrents, check out our beginner’s guide.

      • How an Anti-Piracy Crusading Movie Studio is Keeping Piracy ‘Alive’

        Aussie movie studio Village Roadshow has a reputation of being a staunch anti-piracy advocate. However, the company is also known for delaying local movie releases for weeks, knowing that this may trigger pirates. That may also be the case with the “The LEGO Movie 2″ as a high-quality copy leaked onto various pirate sites before the Australian theatrical release.

Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Continue Their Patent War, Including the War on Linux

Monday 18th of March 2019 07:46:54 AM

There’s “truce” as long as Microsoft receives billions of dollars from its rivals for its “Linux patents”

Summary: Microsoft is still preying on GNU/Linux using patents, notably software patents; it wants billions of dollars served on a silver platter in spite of claims that it reached a “truce” by joining the Open Invention Network and joining the LOT Network

THE parasites and predators are still at it. They’re exploiting software patents wrongly granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and they go after Microsoft’s rivals.

“Microsoft and Bill Gates are culpable as Intellectual Ventures effectively came from them and was bankrolled by them.”Days ago we saw the Intellectual Ventures-armed Dominion Harbor losing yet again. As it turned out, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) helped squash fake patents of this Microsoft-connected patent troll, owing to an inter partes review (IPR) which came from Unified Patents. In their own words (from Friday):

On March 13, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. First Class Monitoring, LLC IPR2017-01932 invalidating claims 1-5, 7, 9, 10 and 16-22 of U.S. Patent 6,014,089 owned and asserted by First Class Monitoring, LLC, a Dominion Harbor subsidiary and a well-known NPE. The ’089 patent, directed to transmitting data via conventional SMS messages over a control channel of a personal communications system transmission protocol, has been asserted against various financial services companies such as Citigroup, Bank of America, USAA, JP Morgan, and PNC.

Microsoft’s patent troll Intellectual Ventures, as it turns out yet again, is still engaging in blackmail in Eastern Texas. Even directly (not the likes of Dominion Harbor). As per the media (also Friday):

A jury in a federal district court in Texas has awarded a patent firm $1.5 million in a dispute with an Old Republic International Corp. unit in a patent infringement case.

The Tyler, Texas, jury on Wednesday decided in favor of Bellevue, Washington-based Intellectual Ventures II LLC, which buys, licenses and develops patents, in its dispute with Old Republic unit Sioux City, Nebraska-based Great West Casualty Co. in Intellectual Ventures II LLC v. Great West Casualty Co.

According to the January 2015 complaint in the case, Great West infringed one of Intellectual Ventures’ patents in connection with its online services and other systems.

Microsoft and Bill Gates are culpable as Intellectual Ventures effectively came from them and was bankrolled by them. To whose benefit?

“It seems clear that Microsoft has not changed. It was all PR, just smoke and mirrors for the cameras.”The Eastern District of Texas is also leveraged yet again against Taiwanese companies. Also from Texas: “Taiwanese Manufacturer of Smartphones Subject to Personal Jurisdiction in Texas in Patent Infringement Case Because of its Allegedly Purposeful Efforts to Serve the US Market Even Though all US Distribution was Orchestrated Independently…”

We already noted the other day that Microsoft goes after another Taiwanese company and it’s about a deal they signed 6 years ago, involving patents Microsoft claims Android and Chrome OS (GNU/Linux) to have infringed. It is starting to seem rather clear that Microsoft joined OIN only after extorting the lion’s share of OEMs that ship Linux-powered products. If they stop paying, Microsoft will sue them. Some “truce”, eh? Here is what Bloomberg wrote about this Microsoft patent extortion as recently as yesterday:

A lot has changed at Microsoft Corp. in the five years since Satya Nadella took over as chief executive officer. But sometimes the past comes roaring back, this time in the form of a patent suit that has gotten nasty.

Microsoft last week sued Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. for failing to pay royalties on intellectual property owned by Microsoft as part of a 2013 deal. Microsoft says Hon Hai, which is also known as Foxconn Technology Group, owes it missed payments and interest. In its filing with a California court, Microsoft alleges that for the past three years, Hon Hai hasn’t submitted the royalty reports required by the 2013 agreement and has refused to submit to an independent audit, which the agreement stipulated in the event of a dispute.

Foxconn’s billionaire chairman Terry Gou earlier this week accused Microsoft of a personal attack on him and his company, terming it a “wrongful” attempt to extract royalties on Android mobile operating software. While Hon Hai is the party named in the lawsuit, Hon Hai only makes iOS devices, and it is Foxconn’s Hong Kong-listed unit FIH Mobile Ltd. that makes Android phones for Huawei Technologies Co., Xiaomi Corp. and other vendors, according to Gou and FIH CEO Calvin Chih.

The amount in question is not significant, according to a person familiar with the dispute who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. But neither side wants to back down. Gou doesn’t want to pay and Microsoft wants to make a point that a deal is a deal.

So Satya Nadella is just another Steve Ballmer. His mask keeps falling off. There have been a lot more articles about this (we mentioned only a few of the earlier ones), including “Foxconn CEO: Microsoft’s real target is Huawei” (from the patent trolls’ lobby), “Foxconn lashes out at Microsoft over royalties” (Asian media), “Foxconn rejects Microsoft patent lawsuit” (British media) and “Foxconn rejected patent infringement lawsuit by Microsoft”. Here’s the side of the story which Western media does not like to tell, preceded by Microsoft’s usual nonsense:

Microsoft, in its statement, said that it had signed a contract with the Foxconn’s parent company Hon Hai in 2013 and the lawsuit is relevant to the audit and royalty reporting terms of that contract.

As Microsoft take serious approach towards fulfillment of its contractual obligations, so it also expects other companies to be following their contractual commitments seriously too; and Microsoft is working to resolve the disagreement with Hon Hai because of the importance of relationship with the company, Microsoft said in a statement.

Foxconn was previously operating as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, and got the global attention after starting assembling iPhones for Apple.

[...]

At the news conference Gou said that Software companies not to bully the manufacturers, and questioned in a Facebook post earlier on Tuesday, why they would not claim from software using vendors to pay for patent royalties.

This is about software patents and about Linux-based operating systems. It seems clear that Microsoft has not changed. It was all PR, just smoke and mirrors for the cameras.

Director Iancu Generally Viewed as a Lapdog of Patent Trolls

Monday 18th of March 2019 07:14:49 AM

Summary: As Director of the Office, Mr. Iancu, a Trump appointee, not only fails to curb patent trolls; he actively defends them and he lowers barriers in order to better equip them with bogus patents that courts would reject (if the targets of extortion could afford a day in court)

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is run by a patent maximalist. It’s not entirely new/s and more people/groups speak about it.

Being a patent maximalist, he opposes Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), which generally reduce the number of patents and may, in turn, impact confidence in US patents. He also dislikes most Federal Circuit decisions, hence he chooses to ignore these. He does not like 35 U.S.C. § 101 or Alice (SCOTUS), hence he attempts to rewrite the rules.

“Being a patent maximalist, he opposes Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), which generally reduce the number of patents and may, in turn, impact confidence in US patents.”As if squashing bad patents (like software patents) is a bad thing, IAM has just published this inane tweet about PTAB and the USPTO amplified the latest nonsense from its Director, Mr. Iancu. Well, Iancu used to work for patent trolls (and his firm had worked for Trump also… before he got this USPTO job from Trump), so why should we not expect this attitude? As quoted/paraphrased here, Iancu said: “We should focus on addressing areas of patent abuse, but it is counterproductive to use pejorative terms like ‘patent troll’ that paint with a broad brush.”

“Yes, we wouldn’t want to hurt the feelings of people who extort money with bogus patents that should never have been granted,” Professor James Bessen wrote about patent trolls, alluding to the above. Bessen had spent years of his career conducting studies on the economic impact of trolls before he wrote several high-profile articles on the subject. Bessen is highly regarded and is considered reliable, credible.

“Iancu is, to them, like an insider or a “mole”. He’s also a proponent of software patents (and has been for a long time).”Nothing (none of the above) surprises us. We foresaw this all along, even before Iancu got the job. Patent trolls are loving it. Iancu is, to them, like an insider or a “mole”. He’s also a proponent of software patents (and has been for a long time).

We kindly take note of this new article from Anders Fernstrom and Christopher Hutter (Cooley LLP, representative of many patent trolls), which uses the term “Computer-Related Patents” and says that Iancu’s “USPTO Revised Patent Eligibility Guidelines Significantly Eases Path to Obtaining” them. They’re missing the point, perhaps intentionally, that actual patent courts would reject virtually all of these patents. So the USPTO is handing out duds — worthless patents that only have use outside the courts, e.g. in the hands of trolls who engage in extortion campaigns against small businesses.

“The truth of the matter is, what we saw at the EPO now happens at the USPTO. Judges are being ignored and besieged for the Office to just grant lots of bogus patents that mostly trolls can exploit (outside courts).”Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz’s Caleb Pollack and Nathan D. Renov have also just published “USPTO’S Revised Software Eligibility Guidelines Give Applicants Hope and Examiners More Ability to Allow Applications” (which courts, once again, will reject).

Days ago we noticed this ‘ad’ from Knobbe Martens, a litigation giant, disguised as an ‘article’. It said “Strategies for Obtaining Patents on AI Inventions in the U.S. and Europe” (they’re calling software patents “AI”; they’re bunk, void and invalid both in Europe and the US).

“At the end of the day, the trolls’ lobby seems very much eager to lower patent quality; Iancu is 100% with them.”The truth of the matter is, what we saw at the EPO now happens at the USPTO. Judges are being ignored and besieged for the Office to just grant lots of bogus patents that mostly trolls can exploit (outside courts).

The patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, has just published this article about “new research” (possibly from Koch-funded 'scholars' who push the Koch's patent agenda). Behind IAM’s paywall: “Academic calls for Congress to act on 101 “to restore investor confidence” with private equity and VC players clear that doubts over patentability…”

We can imagine which scholars those are, but the paywall makes it hard to be sure. At the end of the day, the trolls’ lobby seems very much eager to lower patent quality; Iancu is 100% with them.

Links 17/3/2019: Google Console and IBM-Red Hat Merger Delay?

Sunday 17th of March 2019 09:54:27 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Proposing a ‘Declaration of Digital Independence’

    THIS MESSAGE IS mainly for the leaders and enthusiasts of the broad-based movement toward decentralizing content, but especially social media. I’m not trying to start a new project or organization—after all, decentralization is what I am encouraging. I’m partly trying to start a conversation among individuals, to get them thinking and talking—but on a massive scale. But I’m also trying to inspire people to action, to come together and go the last mile to achieving robust and extremely widespread decentralization.

  • How To Get Started on Mastodon and Leave Twitter Behind

    Close your Twitter account, delete your old Tweets, pack your bags, and head over to Mastodon’s wild world of federated microblogging.

  • [SUSE:] Why the future of IT transformation is open source

    For many organisations, undergoing IT transformation means re-investigating and overhauling existing information technology to support various new technological aspects of the organisation such as digital transformation and changes in IT infrastructure. Today, open source technologies are providing viable, cost efficient and leading-edge solutions, with more organisations and businesses adopting open source to support their IT transformation goals.

    [...]

    Research by SUSE found that 95 percent of IT leaders believe SDI is the future for the data centre. Businesses that are focused on the future of their organisations and transformation strategies
    will need to address a multifaceted IT world which encompasses traditional data centres, SDI and cloud environments.

  • The secret sauce behind smart city efforts

    Why should technology be open source? Why is open source important?

    DP: Open source technology is developed by a community of developers, and benefits from collaborations among highly-skilled talents and professionals to facilitate more, and better ideas. More importantly, open source isn’t a company or a product. It’s a methodology that ensures greater innovation and collaboration.

    Today, open source is the preferred choice for organizations that want to become more agile and flexible. It offers a wide range of benefits, from improved security to freedom from vendor lock-in. Industries across the spectrum in the region – even those traditionally regarded as being very private and guarded such as the public sector and financial services – are now embracing open source approaches to realize innovation and drive transformation. Beyond its positive impacts on business, open source innovation has also led to greater citizen participation and contribution in government initiatives around the world. Open source methodologies have the potential to fundamentally transform how countries are run, and at the same, enrich the lives of citizens in so many ways, technologically and culturally.

  • How PC/GEOS found a 5th life as an open source DOS shell

    For those who cut their teeth on computers like the Apple II and Commodore 64, GEOS brought a Mac-like GUI to comparatively lower-powered, 8-bit home computers. The team behind GEOS developed GeoWorks for PC in 1990. GeoWorks was also the basis of America Online for DOS. Substantial amounts of GeoWorks were written in fine-tuned x86 Assembly, making it decently more performant on Intel 386-based computers than Windows 3.0, which was released the same year. This high performance in constrained environments gave GeoWorks a protracted lifespan.

  • MyEtherWallet launches an open-source blockchain explorer to promote innovation
  • MyEtherWallet (MEW) Launches Open Source ETH Blockchain Explorer on Testnet

    Popular Ethereum wallet service MyEtherWallet (MEW) has launched an open-source blockchain explorer named EthVM (virtual machine) on the Ropsten testnet. EthVM will compete directly with leading Ethereum block explorer Etherscan.io.

    According to a press release published on Monday, March 11th, MEW seeks to offer a comprehensive solution to Ethereum developers while at the same time designed to provide a seamless and simple interface for blockchain users (especially beginners).

  • Launches Open Source Blockchain Explorer for Ethereum
  • MyEtherWallet Launches New Open Source Ethereum Blockchain Explorer
  • Neha Narkhede: Open Source Isn’t A Business Model, It’s A Distribution Strategy [Ed: It's neither. It's about the software licence.]
  • A software market prediction: it’s all about open source

    Over the course of 2019, the big battleground in the software market is going to be around open source and specifically around how it’s used.

    “You’re starting to see the battle lines drawn up between the Mongos, the AWSs and Redis,” confirms Jim Rose, CEO at CircleCI.

    At the moment, you have these open source communities/companies that have built very valuable software that is “being taken off the shelf “and implemented for money by all of the cloud vendors.

  • The Year of Open RAN

    Mobile operators are seeking to transform their networks to keep up with the demands of Industry 4.0 – as wireless connectivity requirements evolve from connected devices to connected everything – people, places, and things. Navigating the open source landscape can be a challenge as there are a number of open ecosystems that have emerged to help define how next-generation networks will be built to support 50+ billion connected devices and new 5G services and applications.

  • Cincinnati Bell division CBTS bows new open source reference architecture

    C

    CBTS is putting elements of the Open Networking Foundation’s SEBA reference design into play with a new reference architecture called COI.

    [...]

    “One of the things is that R-CORD has been tough for the carriers to do themselves,” said Lee Doyle, principal analyst of Doyle Research, in an interview with FierceTelecom. “They’re (CBTS) trying to jump on a new market opportunity and we’ll see if there’s a substantial market for that or not.

    “The market is extremely nascent right now. There are a lot of people who are trialing R-CORD, but we’ve all seen that before with NFV. Just because you’re trialing it doesn’t mean you’re using it.”

  • Events
    • OpenStack Foundation Announces First Open Infrastructure Summit in…

      The 20th Open Infrastructure Summit—formerly known as the OpenStack Summit—is headed to the Shanghai Expo Center the week of November 4, 2019. China is the one of the largest markets for OpenStack based on the number and scale of users—including China Mobile, China UnionPay, China Railway, the State Grid Corporation of China—and developers who contribute to the open source software project. Contributors and users from 30 open infrastructure projects will attend and speak at the event.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Vivaldi vs. Firefox: A user’s perspective

        However, it has yet to win over the spot as my default browser. For that, I rely on Firefox. But why? I decided to use both browsers side-by-side for a few weeks to find out what it is about Vivaldi that prevents me from making the switch on a permanent basis. The end results, surprisingly, had me even more confused as to which I should be running (I’ll confess what tipped the scales in a moment.).

        [...]

        At this point, Vivaldi does a good job of mimicking the efficiency of Firefox. There’s little more customization to be done. And yet, Firefox is still my default. Why? What is it about Firefox that makes me select it over Vivaldi? Unfortunately, the answer lies in one particular aspect that is not likely to change.

        You see, as an advocate of open source software, with all things being equal I will always go with the open source option. Now, if Vivaldi had the upper hand over Firefox with a particular feature or usability that I couldn’t get with the open source equivalent, I’d happily set Vivaldi as my default (as I’m not a purist). But until said time, the open-source browser remains as my default.

        What does that say? Simple. With a few quick tweaks, Vivaldi is as efficient and solid a browser as Firefox. Outside of being open source, there is nothing Firefox can do that Vivaldi cannot mimic. Truth be told, if we’re looking at a feature-for-feature comparison, Vivaldi easily comes out on top.

        Now, if Vivaldi were to shift to an open source license, I’d kick Firefox off that “Default” curb and go about my day, humming Spring’s melody. Until then, Vivaldi will only come out to play for testing, or when Firefox Nightly (which is the version I use at the moment) has problems with a particular site.

      • Cameron Kaiser: TenFourFox FPR13 available

        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 13 final is now available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). I added Olga’s minimp3 patch for correctness; otherwise, there are no additional changes except for several security updates and to refresh the certificate and TLD stores. As usual it will go live Monday evening Pacific time assuming no difficulties.

        I have three main updates in mind for TenFourFox FPR14: expanding FPR13′s new AppleScript support to allow injecting JavaScript into pages (so that you can drive a web page by manipulating the DOM elements within it instead of having to rely on screen coordinates and sending UI events), adding Olga’s ffmpeg framework to enable H.264 video support with a sidecar library (see the previous post for details on the scheme), and a possible solution to allow JavaScript async functions which actually might fix quite a number of presently non-working sites.

  • Databases
  • CMS
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
  • BSD
    • Well, it’s been a while – falling in love with OpenBSD again

      When the Mac laptop came out without an ESC key (it was on this gimmicky little one row display at the top of the keyboard that could be reconfigured based on your application), as a long-time VI user (the commands are programmed into my spinal cord, I really have no choice now) I was disgusted. That forced me to recognize that I wasn’t Apple’s target market. They wanted average computer users who didn’t care if they were on the latest and greatest chipset and they were getting more and more closed and “un-upgradeable” every day.

    • EuroBSDcon 2019: Lillehammer, Norway

      The Call for Talk and presentation proposals for EuroBSDCon 2019 is now
      open.

      EuroBSDcon is the European technical conference for users and developers
      of BSD-based systems. The conference will take place September 19-22
      2019 in Lillehammer, Norway. The tutorials will be held on Thursday and
      Friday to registered participants and the talks are presented to
      conference attendees on Saturday and Sunday.

      The Call for Talk and Presentation proposals period will close on May
      26th, 2019. Prospective speakers will be notified of accepteance or
      otherwise by June 3rd, 2019.

  • Licensing/Legal
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Stop Child Abuse Before it Happens with New Open Source Geospatial Machine Learning Tools
    • Orchestra | An Open-Source Robotic Process Automation System

      Orchestra is an open source workflow management system that uses the Robotics Process Automation to support teams and improve how people do analytical and creative work. By having the machines do repetitive parts of a project, developers can spend much more time working on some of the more engaging tasks.

    • Open Data
      • Open data needed to address agriculture’s problems
      • Exclusive: Meet the UK’s ‘Data Diplomat’

        “It’s not about what data can do for diplomacy. It is how diplomacy can possibly remain relevant unless we embrace data.”

        So says Graham Nelson, the founder of the UK Foreign Office’s Open Source Unit (OSU). He is fresh from delivering a seminar on data-driven policymaking at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

        It’s been a long day, but he becomes visibly more animated when talking about his work: helping governments around the world use data to solve their most defining challenges. “I am really excited by the potential for data to do so much good,” says the mathematician-turned-diplomat. He shares how data is an indispensable tool for governments today, and how it can help agencies examine the impact they are really making.

        [...]

        It certainly helps that governments today “have got much better access to commercial satellite data and meteorological data than we would have had before”. “There are some really easy ways that countries thinking about setting up on this journey of using data can start,” Nelson points out.

    • Open Access/Content
      • Healthcare Design Studio Releases Repo of Free, Open Source Visualizations

        GoInvo, a digital health design consultancy headquartered in Arlington, Massachusetts, today announced the release of a repo featuring over 20 open source health visualizations and graphics (https://www.goinvo.com/vision/health-visualizations) available to all for use or modification, under a Creative Commons Attribution v3 license or MIT license.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • HiFive1 Rev B wireless open source RISC-V development platform

        A new version of the HiFive1 wireless development platform has been rolled out via Crowd Supply this month announcing that the latest HiFive1 Rev B by SiFive is now powered by the FE310-G002 and offers wireless connectivity via the on-board Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module. Priced at just $49 the HiFive1 Rev B development board is now available to preorder and will start shipping during the middle of next month April 2019. The price includes free shipping throughout the United States and worldwide shipping is available for an additional $12.

        “The FE310 is the first open source, commercially available RISC-V SoC. SiFive has contributed the FE310 RTL code to the open source community. Now you can see what’s inside the chip. The USB debugger has been upgraded to Segger J-Link, with support for drag & drop code download. In favor of driving GPIO directly from the FE310, the HiFive1 Rev B supports 3.3 V I/O only.”

  • Programming/Development
    • Open source JTAG switcher improves multi-processor designs

      Debug tools supplier Lauterbach has released its JTAG Switcher VHDL source code into the public domain under the MIT Open Source License…

    • 5 Best Open Source IDEs for Java Programming Language

      Whether you are an experienced Java programmer or you are just getting into the game, you will definitely use an Integrated development environment (IDE). A Java IDE is software that houses all the necessary tools, libraries and other resources that are needed for Java programming.

    • 11 Free Resources For Learning C/C++ Programming

      C/C++ has been declared “dead” a million times over the years as Java and Python continue to grow in popularity, but still the language persists. It is one of the most widely used programming languages in most technical fields, powering backend systems that these other languages run on the front end and is also embedded into the programming of just about every machine and electronic device out there. Whether it’s engineering, high-end game programming, or robotics, C/C++ is a must, which is why we compiled 11 free resources for learning C/C++ programming to help you get started.

    • CIDLib C++ dev tool goes open source

      CIDLib, a general-purpose C++ development environment, is now open source. Note that it does use some third-party code, including a version of the Scintilla engine as the CML language source editor and parts of the standard JPEG libraries to provide JPEG file format support.

      CDLib is not based on standard C++/STL libraries but has a far lighter use of templates than what has been commonplace, making it more debuggable, developer Dean Roddey said.

    • SAP Open Sources Java SCA Tool
    • 5 Best Open Source IDEs For Python Developers

      Python is one of the best future-oriented programming languages out there. All thanks to its versatility and large developer community. Python allows you to solve complex problems in fewer lines of code. Either you want to make a career in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning or Data Science, you will always see python developers are being preferred over others.

      However, all these things are next to impossible in lack of a good Integrated Development Environment or IDE. If you are from a programming background, you definitely know how important it is to choose the right IDE. It doesn’t only enable you to write code faster but also helps in debugging. Today, I will share some best IDEs for Python developers that you can use to make your job simpler and easier.

    • Further modifying the Bollinger Bands features
    • ut the power bar on the game scene
    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxix) stackoverflow python report
Leftovers
  • The German capital wants drivers to stop killing cyclists

    Berlin’s population is growing and the economy is doing well. More workers mean that once-quiet streets are getting congested. Rising rents are pushing residents out of the centre, increasing the number of car-commuters and making trains and buses more crowded. More Berliners would no doubt like to get out and feel the breeze in their hair—if they were less worried about being mown down by motorists.

  • Science
    • Going Dark to Reconnect to the Night Sky

      Light pollution has raised increasing alarm in recent years. Research estimates that 99 percent of Americans live within its glare, and that 80 percent of us no longer experience the once-common view of the Milky Way. Health experts point out that excessive exposure to artificial lighting also disrupts the human circadian rhythm, increasing our susceptibility to obesity, depression, dementia, cancer, and other health problems.

    • Who invented the dishwasher, windshield wiper, caller ID? Women created these 50 inventions.

      On May 5, 1809, Mary Kies became the first woman to receive a patent in the United States. (It was for her technique of weaving straw with silk.)

      Of course, women inventors existed before this time, but the property laws in many states made it illegal for women to own property on their own. This led some women to apply for patents in their husbands’ names if they decided to apply at all.

      As of last year, only 10 percent of U.S. patent holders were women, although women account for half of doctoral degrees in science and engineering. This disparity is due in part to the the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office being more likely to reject patents with women as sole applicants.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • U.S. Hospitals And Insurers Might Be Forced To Reveal The True Prices They Negotiate

      Almost 60 percent of people with employer-sponsored health insurance carry plans with deductibles of more than $1,000. That means more people are exposed to high health care charges for hospital visits. In addition, patients complain frequently of surprise bills they receive after a hospital stay. Those surprise bills often arise when a patient is treated by out-of-network doctors who happen to be working in hospitals that do participate in the patient’s insurance network.

      Congress is already considering bills to address such surprise billing practices.

      Nickels, the representative of the hospital association, says consumers have no need to see the prices insurance companies pay hospitals, just as they don’t need to see what a grocery store pays for cases of Coca-Cola.

    • It costs less than $60 to have a baby in Finland. How?

      Finland’s healthcare system has helped give it the lowest maternal death rate in the world — and it’s available to everyone for next to nothing.

    • Finnish Commercial Gardeners seek Legalization of Medicinal Cannabis to make Finland a Leading Cannabis Export Hub

      Finnish gardeners want to tap into this new export opportunity. The executive director at Market Garden Association Jyrki Jalkanen said that the export potential for this growing cannabis industry is worth billions of euros globally. He added that they want to explore whether commercial gardeners can tap into this huge export market.

    • Teen who got vaccinated against parents’ wishes testifying before Congress
    • Millions in Nigeria Lack Access to Clean Water

      According to aid agencies, 60 million Nigerians, or 33 percent of the population, do not have access to clean water.

      But water and environmental experts like Joseph Ibrahim say that figure may have been underestimated.

    • Long-Term Fate of Agent Orange and Dioxin TCDD Contaminated Soils and Sediments in Vietnam Hotspots

      The soils, tropical climate, and network of canals and rivers of southern Vietnam have created one of the most diverse tropical jungles and intensely cultivated landscapes of Southeast Asia. This paradise has a long history of numerous wars, foreign occupations, and most recently the Second Indochina War (aka the Vietnam War 1965-1972) which defoliated rain forests and ancient wetland mangroves and left behind contaminated soil and sediment hotspots. During this war, the United States (US) military sprayed 80 million liters of Agent Orange contaminated with the dioxin TCDD in a guerrilla war against communist insurgents.

    • Monsanto’s Roundup Weed Killer Found In Top Beer And Wind Brands

      PIRG tested five wines, 14 beers and one hard cider for the study. The wine brands were Barefoot, Beringer, Frey (organic), Inkarri Estates (organic), and Sutter Home. The beers tested were from Budweiser, Coors, Corona, Guinness, Heineken, Miller, Peak (organic), Sam Adams, Samuel Smith (organic), Sierra Nevada, Stella Artois, Tsingtao and New Belgium. Ace Perry Hard Cider was also tested.

      The study determined that popular beers like Coors, Budweiser, and Corona Extra contained an average of roughly 28 parts per billion (ppb). Tsingtao, the outlier, contained a whopping 49.7 ppb.

    • Microplastics Have Been Found in Our Deepest Ocean Animals

      Though the trenches ranged in location from Japanese to Chilean waters, all of them were within the “hadal zone,” meaning they were at least 6,000 meters under the sea. The study even includes amphipods collected at Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, which is the lowest known point in the seabed at 10,890 meters below the ocean surface.

      Despite such remote habitats, Jamieson’s team found plastic and synthetic fibres such as nylon, polyethylene, and polyvinyl alcohol in the guts of most amphipods they examined. “Of the 90 individual amphipods examined, 65 individuals (approximately 72 percent) contained at least one microfibre or fragment,” the team concluded.

      [...]

      “Once the microplastics enter the hadal food chain, there is a strong possibility that they will be locked into a perpetual cycle of trophic transfer,” the team cautioned.

    • A New FDA Commissioner Could Be a Disaster for Reproductive Rights

      It isn’t very often that we find ourselves saddened when a member of the Trump administration decides to resign. But when FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb leaves his position, it could spell disaster for progressives — especially those who support reproductive rights.

      Unlike many of the government officials serving President Donald Trump, Gottlieb — while by no means a moderate — wasn’t totally unqualified for his job. And, even more importantly, he didn’t appear to be using his office to push forward the policies most important to zealous religious groups or letting his own personal dogma influence his work.

      In a Department of Health and Human Services full of far-right social conservative bigwigs, Gottlieb was surprisingly more interested in public health than pushing Christian dominionist ideology.

    • 5-pound bags of Pillsbury flour recalled

      Hometown Food Company has recalled certain Pillsbury Unbleached All-Purpose flour products which may be contaminated with salmonella.

    • Establishment Democrats Are Undermining Medicare for All

      The Democratic establishment — deep in the pockets of the health industry — wanted to make sure any blue wave election in 2018 would help sink, rather than support, the growing movement for a single-payer health care system. The recent decline in co-sponsors of the House Medicare for All legislation is, in part, a byproduct of this strategy and a reminder of the great obstacles corporate Democrats have put in front of the single-payer movement.

      In 2018, there were 124 cosponsors for the Medicare for All bill in the House (then H.R. 676), representing 66 percent of the Democratic Caucus. This was celebrated widely as a high-water mark for the legislation. So was the release of Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All bill in the Senate, which also got a record 16 co-sponsors, including prominent Democrats who are running for president.

      Given that the Democrats gained 35 seats in the 2018 midterm and Medicare for All has been polling extremely high among Democratic voters — a survey by Reuters from August 2018 showed around 85 percent of Democrats supported the policy — many were hopeful that the number of cosponsors would rise even higher in the current Congress.

      Despite this hope, when Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced the new flagship Medicare for All bill (H.R. 1384), the amount of co-sponsors decreased considerably to 106, down to 47 percent of the caucus. So why, if Democratic voters are moving left on health care, is this not reflected in Congress? Where did all the co-sponsors go?

    • Unsafe levels of lead found in drinking water around S.C. ‘There’s no accountability’

      Small South Carolina water systems struggle to decrease the amount of lead in locally piped tap water. More than 40 small water systems have exceeded the lead standard since 2011.

    • Michigan’s Lead in Drinking Water Protections Under Attack

      So, it is quite surprising that the Lead and Copper Rule is being challenged in court by Michigan water providers. Think about that: our lead in drinking water protections are being challenged by water system leaders who have seen the horrors of poisoned water in Flint and who know of ongoing lead releases in water systems throughout the state. Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan through the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Mayor Dennis Wright through the City of Livonia, and the southeast Michigan regional body known as the Great Lakes Water Authority have banded together to try to overturn the new rule in court.

      Although NRDC didn’t secure everything we were looking for in the updated Lead and Copper Rule, we strongly supported the new rule. That is why we filed a friend of the court brief challenging key points being put forth in the lawsuit. The full brief is available here but the main takeaways are:

    • New study finds pollution inequity among races

      Hispanics breathe in 63 percent more than the pollution than they make, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For African-Americans the figure is 56 percent. White Americans are exposed to 17 percent less air pollution than they make.

    • Air Pollution Is Killing Millions More People Than We Thought

      Deaths caused by air pollution appear to have overtaken those caused by smoking, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal. In 2015, air pollution was thought to be responsible for 8.79 million deaths, compared with the 7.2 million caused by tobacco smoking, the study—which focused on Europe—found.

      An additional 790,000 deaths in Europe were likely caused by air pollution, with between 40 to 80 percent of those associated with cardiovascular disease, according to the study. Fine particulate matter could be shaving 2.2 years off the life of the average European, likely due to a combination of densely populated areas and poor air quality, the authors of the study warned.

  • Security
    • DARPA Builds Open Source Voting System
    • DARPA Is Building a $10 Million, Open Source, Secure Voting System

      The system will be fully open source and designed with newly developed secure hardware to make the system not only impervious to certain kinds of [intrusion], but also allow voters to verify that their votes were recorded accurately.

    • DARPA Is Building an Open Source Voting Machine
    • DARPA is building a $10 Million open-source voting system
    • DARPA is trying to build an unhackable open source voting system
    • A new rash of highly covert card-skimming malware infects ecommerce sites

      Group-IB has dubbed the JavaScript sniffer GMO after the gmo[.]il domain it uses to send pilfered data from infected sites, all of which run the Magento e-commerce Web platform. The researchers said the domain was registered last May and that the malware has been active since then. To conceal itself, GMO compresses the skimmer into a tiny space that’s highly obfuscated and remains dormant when it detects the Firebug or Google Developer Tools running on a visitor’s computer. GMO was manually injected into all seven sites, an indication that it is still relatively fledgling.

    • Nasty WinRAR bug is being actively exploited to install hard-to-detect malware

      Nasty code-execution bug in WinRAR threatened millions of users for 14 years
      The flaw, disclosed last month by Check Point Research, garnered instant mass attention because it made it possible for attackers to surreptitiously install persistent malicious applications when a target opened a compressed ZIP file using any version of WinRAR released over the past 19 years. The absolute path traversal made it possible for archive files to extract to the Windows startup folder (or any other folder of the archive creator’s choosing) without generating a warning. From there, malicious payloads would automatically be run the next time the computer rebooted.

    • How a wireless keyboard lets [intruders] take full control of connected computers

      The attacks can be carried out by anyone who is within range of an affected keyboard set and takes the time to build the hardware that exploits the replay and injection flaws. Normally, that distance is about 30 feet, but the use of special antennas could extend that range. That leaves open the possibility of attacks from hackers in nearby offices or homes.

      Friday’s SySS advisory said that there is currently no known fix for the vulnerabilities. It said company researchers privately reported the vulnerability to Fujitsu. The disclosure timeline is: [...]

    • Security researchers reveal defects that allow wireless hijacking of giant construction cranes, scrapers and excavators

      Using software-defined radios, researchers from Trend Micro were able to reverse-engineer the commands used to control massive industrial machines, including cranes, excavators and scrapers; most of these commands were unencrypted, but even the encrypted systems were vulnerable to “replay attacks” that allowed the researchers to bypass the encryption.

    • [Older] Attacks Against Industrial Machines via Vulnerable Radio Remote Controllers: Security Analysis and Recommendations

      In our research and vulnerability discoveries, we found that weaknesses in the controllers can be (easily) taken advantage of to move full-sized machines such as cranes used in construction sites and factories. In the different attack classes that we’ve outlined, we were able to perform the attacks quickly and even switch on the controlled machine despite an operator’s having issued an emergency stop (e-stop).

      The core of the problem lies in how, instead of depending on wireless, standard technologies, these industrial remote controllers rely on proprietary RF protocols, which are decades old and are primarily focused on safety at the expense of security. It wasn’t until the arrival of Industry 4.0, as well as the continuing adoption of the industrial internet of things (IIoT), that industries began to acknowledge the pressing need for security.

    • How Ethereum Applications Earn A+ Security Ratings

      More than 1.2 million ethereum applications have used a little-known security tool to help them avoid the costly errors arising from self-executing lines of code known as smart contracts.

      Launched by ethereum technology startup Amberdata back in October, the free tool is available for anyone in the general public to interpret the security of active applications on the ethereum blockchain. Smart contracts with bugs that have been exploited have led to huge losses, even to the tune of hundreds of millions.

      The automated service scans for common vulnerabilities found in smart contract code and generates a letter grade rating (e.g. A, B, or C) for the security of a decentralized application (dapp).

      The feature is one of the many tools encouraging best practice and increased transparency between dapp developers and end-users in the ethereum ecosystem.

    • How to protect your router

      Currently, there are a variety of open source and OpenVPN capable routers to choose from, but the most popular models are the Linksys AC3200 and the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900.

    • Fighting Crypto Hacks: Company Tackles Security Issues in Ethereum Smart Contracts

      A decentralized, open-source crypto platform based on the Ethereum protocol named Callisto Network offers users free-of-charge smart contract security audits. The company wants to support them in the battle against cyber criminals and help developers solve security issues in Ethereum codes.

    • Just Android things: 150m phones, gadgets installed ‘adware-ridden’ mobe simulator games

      Android adware found its way into as many as 150 million devices – after it was stashed inside a large number of those bizarre viral mundane job simulation games, we’re told.

      The so-called Simbad malware was built into mobile gaming titles such as Real Tractor Farming Simulator, Heavy Mountain Bus Simulator 2018, and Snow Heavy Excavator Simulator, according to infosec research biz Check Point today.

    • Google sinks more than 200 Android apps infected with SimBad adware

      The adware campaign made use of malware dubbed SimBad, which sits within a malicious software development kit called ‘RXDrioder’ and can perform actions after an infected Android device is booted. SimBad then connects back to a control and command server where it receives instructions from the malicious actors controlling it.

    • How To Secure Privileged Access In An Organisation
    • Open-source 64-ish-bit serial number gen snafu sparks TLS security cert revoke runaround
    • 25% of software vulnerabilities remain unpatched for more than a year [Ed: How about back doors in proprietary software? These can never be patched, they're there by design and the user cannot change the code ]
    • Shmoocon 2019, Conor Patrick’s ‘Building And Selling Solo: An Open Source Secure Hardware Token’
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Preventing Civil War and US Intervention in Venezuela

      For almost two months now, Venezuela has been caught in a tense stand-off between the incumbent government of Nicolás Maduro and the US-backed right-wing opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who proclaimed himself president in January and who has since been trying to force Maduro from office with the active support of the Trump administration and various right-wing regional leaders. Over the next weeks, ROAR will be publishing a series of interviews with Venezuelan activists and intellectuals to help share local perspectives on the origins of the current crisis, the risks of an escalation in the conflict, and possible ways out for radical-democratic forces.

      The first interview, published below, is with the Venezuelan sociologist and left-wing intellectual Edgardo Lander, who is a Professor Emeritus at the Central University of Venezuela and a Fellow at the Transnational Institute (TNI). Lander was a critically constructive supporter of former president Hugo Chávez, and served as a consultant to the Venezuelan commission negotiating the Free Trade Area of the Americas. He was one of the organizers of the 2006 World Social Forum, and is currently involved in TNI’s New Politics program. In this interview, he calls on the international left to recognize the complexity of the situation, and not to conflate the need for firm opposition to the ongoing US intervention with unconditional support for the Maduro government.

      As the perceptive reader will notice, Lander’s position differs in several important respects from the reading offered by the Venezuelan sociologist and former government minister Reinaldo Iturriza in our second interview, published here. We offer these different perspectives on the assumption that the critical and intelligent reader will be able to make up their own mind as to which reading they find most persuasive, and which position they are most comfortable to align themselves with. We are currently preparing two more interviews with Venezuelan activists that we hope to publish over the next weeks. We consider these grassroots perspectives particularly important in the present context, given the international media’s systematic inattention to (and active marginalization of) the voices of ordinary Venezuelans.

    • Demands That Trump End Economic War and Attempts at Regime Change at #HandsOffVenezuela March on Capitol Hill

      Denouncing the “strangling” of the Venezuelan economy via sanctions and demanding the Trump administration allow the South American country to determine its own fate, pro-democracy protesters marched through Washington, D.C. on Saturday to demand, “Hands Off Venezuela!”

      The demonstration came seven weeks after the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, rebuking President Nicolas Maduro, who won re-election last May.

      U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company followed, on top of the $30 million per day earlier U.S. sanctions have cost the country.

      Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin was among the prominent anti-war advocates who spoke at a rally on Capitol Hill before hundreds of protesters from all over the country began their march through the streets.

    • Lawyer: U.S. Navy Veteran Held in Iran Sentenced to 10 Years

      A U.S. Navy veteran from California has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran, his lawyer said Saturday, becoming the first American known to be imprisoned there since President Donald Trump took office.

      Though the case against Michael R. White remains unclear, it comes as Trump has taken a hard-line approach to Iran by pulling the U.S. out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

      Iran, which in the past has used its detention of Westerners and dual nationals as leverage in negotiations, has yet to report on White’s sentence in state-controlled media. Its mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    • On This Day: Hundreds dead in My Lai massacre

      On March 16, 1968, about 300 Vietnamese villagers died at the hands of U.S. troops in what came to be known as the My Lai massacre.

    • Exposure of Another Pro-War Lie Doesn’t Make Media More Skeptical of Pro-War Claims

      Listeners will likely know by now, that the late February story, complete with vivid video footage, about the forces of elected Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro burning trucks that were trying to bring the besieged country food and medicine was false. Weeks later, the New York Times (3/10/19) reported that the humanitarian trucks were not set on fire by Maduro’s forces, but instead by anti-Maduro protestors who threw a Molotov cocktail. The Times outlined how the fake story took root, passing from US officials to media that simply reported their claims as fact with no investigation—and does any of this sound familiar?

      Folks like CNN‘s Marshall Cohen noted the Times debunking as if it were just an interesting development—a “classic example of how misinformation spreads,” Cohen said in a tweet. Except, as The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald pointed out (3/10/19), it was Cohen’s own network, CNN, that led the way in spreading the lie around the world.

    • Isis jihadi ‘returned to Sweden to treat war wounds’

      An Isis jihadi fighter returned to his home in Sweden to have wounds to his shoulder treated for free at a state-run hospital, before returning to the front line in Syria, Sweden’s Expressen newspaper has reported.

    • ‘She said she’d blow herself up first’: Hope dims on Yazidis

      She was sold 17 times. One of her owners, a Swede, would lock her in the home for days without food while he went to fight. Another man, an Albanian, stomped on her hands in his military boots, after she scolded him for buying a 9-year-old slave girl.

    • Warped ISIS brides vow to raise a ‘generation of jihadis’ after fleeing terror group’s last stronghold

      A handful of captive Yazidis have also been released from Baghuz but hundreds more may still be inside as human shields.

    • Moroccan beats wife for living western-style life
    • Words Can Incite And Spread Violence – Asia Bibi Knows It Best

      In recent weeks, and in light of reports that Asia Bibi was to find refuge in Canada, a new phenomenon emerged of calls to violence wherever Asia Bibi is to be found.

    • Saudi Arabia: Women’s Rights Activists Charged

      Human rights organizations began reporting in November that Saudi interrogators tortured at least four of the women, including with electric shocks and whippings, and had sexually harassed and assaulted them.

      “The Saudi prosecution is bringing charges against the women’s rights activists instead of releasing them unconditionally,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Saudi authorities have done nothing to investigate serious allegations of torture, and now, it’s the women’s rights activists, not any torturers, who face criminal charges and trials.”

    • ULMWP Spokesperson: The UN must stop Indonesian military attacks in West Papua

      West Papuans beg for UN intervention as 2,650 Indonesian commandos hunt down freedom-fighters and the Jakarta government blocks emergency food water and medical supplies to highland villagers

    • More Indonesian troops sent to West Papua

      According to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), an additional 650 Indonesian commandos were deployed along with an extra 2000 troops on March 12 to the Central Highlands of West Papua to fight the West Papua National Liberation Army.

      The Indonesian government has been blocking all emergency food, water and medicines supplied by local churches and NGOs to the central highland districts of Nduga, Kenyam, Yigi, Mbua, and Mapunduma for the past three months.

      The ULMWP said the 650 additional commandos have been deployed to “hunt and kill West Papuan freedom fighters” and “eliminate the independence movement”.

    • Humanitarian concerns grow as violent conflict worsens in West Papua

      But even elected Papuan leaders in government pushing for a de-escalation of military operations risk a reprimand or threat of prosecution from Indonesia’s military.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Australian winter will disappear by 2050, ANU team claims

      A tool that analyses climate data, developed by a team from the Australian National University School of Art and Design along with their colleagues from the ANU Climate Change Institute has shown that by 2050 winter, as we now know it, will no longer exist.

    • Trump Administration Shortcuts Science To Give California Farmers More Water

      Farmers will only get more water after federal biologists complete an intricate scientific analysis on how it would affect endangered species. But an investigation by KQED finds that analysis will be done under unprecedented time pressure, with less transparency, less outside scientific scrutiny, and without, say federal scientists, the resources to do it properly.

      [...]

      The internal emails also show the new environmental rules will receive less outside scientific review than before, which eliminates public involvement. Peer review, in which independent scientists assess other researchers’ work, is a core practice of science, and previous biological rules have received that scrutiny.

    • The US Is Only Decades Away From Widespread Water Shortages, Scientists Warn

      Thanks to advances in dams, tunnelling, and pipelines, stability in water usage has been maintained since then despite a growing population, the team says, but with reservoir construction peaking in the 1960s, those adaptations won’t keep delivering the same way in the future.

    • Norway’s wealth fund to divest from fossil fuels

      Egil Matsen, Deputy Governor said: “This advice is based exclusively on financial arguments and analyses of the government’s total oil and gas exposure and does not reflect any particular view of future movements in oil and gas prices or the profitability or sustainability of the oil and gas sector”.

    • Cambodian Farmers Struggle Against Changing Climate

      In this part of Banteay Meanchey province, farmers remark on the lack of rain, during the wet season as well as the dry season. Cambodian farmers grow rice in both seasons. Cambodia’s rainy season typically arrives in May and ends in October and dry season runs from November until April.

    • Every ninth species in Finland endangered, says new report

      The fifth in a series of assessments, the report determined that conditions are worsening for Finland’s flora and fauna, as 11.9 percent of the species examined can now be determined threatened. This number is an increase from the 10.5 percent that was concluded to be at risk in 2010.

    • New estimate – every ninth species in Finland is threatened

      A new assessment of threatened species indicates an increasing loss of biodiversity in Finnish nature. Of the 22 000 species evaluated, 11.9% were classified as threatened, compared to 10.5% in the previous assessment. All species groups include threatened species, and the highest proportion can be found among birds and bryophytes (mosses). The primary cause of threat is the decline and deterioration of natural habitat. Much can be done to stop this development, but urgent action is needed.

    • Finland Publishes the Most Comprehensive Red List of Ecosystems in the World

      The results of the extensive assessment for the Red List of all of Finland’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems were published in December 2018. The threat status of ecosystem or habitat types in Finland was now evaluated for the second time, using this time the new assessment methodology called IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria.

    • Climate change and population growth are making the world’s water woes more urgent

      The first thing to recognise is that the 70% figure is largely irrelevant to the debate. The sea it represents is salty, accounting for 97.5% of all the water on Earth. A further 1.75% is frozen, at the poles, in glaciers or in permafrost. So the world has to rely on just 0.75% of the planet’s available water, almost all of which is subterranean groundwater, though it is from the 0.3% on the surface that it draws 59% of its needs (see chart). This report will argue that misuse of water may indeed lead to a series of catastrophes. But the means to dodge them are already known, and new technologies are constantly evolving to help.

    • We could have less than 5 years to save the North Atlantic right whale

      The North Atlantic right whale is not only one of the rarest whale species in the world, it is the one most at-risk. While the days of commercial whaling may be over, human activity remains their biggest threat. Once numbering in the tens of thousands, there are fewer than 415 right whales left alive today. Among remaining right whale, fewer than 100 are breeding females. At best, we have only five years to reverse this course before it’s too late. Without committed and immediate action, the species will become functionally extinct in just two decades.

    • Oceans Are ‘Spiking a Fever’ With Record Heat Waves

      Global warming is gradually increasing the average temperature of the oceans, but the new research is the first systematic global analysis of ocean heat waves, when temperatures reach extremes for five days or more.

      The research found heat waves are becoming more frequent, prolonged and severe, with the number of heat wave days tripling in the last couple of years studied. In the longer term, the number of heat wave days jumped by more than 50% in the 30 years to 2016, compared with the period of 1925 to 1954.

    • World Wildlife Day 2019: The 15 Biggest Threats to the World’s Oceans

      The news followed the revelation that over half the world’s oceans are being industrially fished. A 2018 study, published in the journal Science, found that commercial fishing covered a bigger area than global agriculture.

      This massive disruption to ocean ecosystems can be caused by such diverse threats as overfishing, agricultural chemical offspill and global warming driving up sea temperatures. While threats to rainforests and other land environments have long been known, public awareness about the precarious state of the ocean are a more recent revelation, thanks in part to cultural phenomena like the BBC’s Blue Planet series.

    • Zinke fingered in Bears Ears corruption probe over uranium mining interests

      An energy firm linked to ” When the review concluded, Trump shrank the monument by 85%. Some 100 uranium claims that were previously *inside* the monument’s protected boundary were suddenly on the outside.

      Now, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) says Democrats plan hold a hearing on March 13, to look into that shady review.

    • On March 15, the Climate Kids Are Coming

      On March 15, tens of thousands of high-school and middle-school students in more than 30 countries plan to skip school to demand that politicians treat the global climate crisis as the emergency it is. Shakespeare made the Ides of March famous with his soothsayer’s warning in Julius Caesar, but ancient Romans actually saw it as a day for settling debts. What bigger debt is there than the theft of a livable future? At the March 15 School Strike 4 Climate, young people will call in that debt and, in the United States at least, demand real solutions in the form of the Green New Deal championed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    • Bird extinctions ‘driven’ by global food trade

      About 100 bird species are predicted to go extinct based on current farming and forestry practices, according to a new global analysis.

      This number has increased by 7% over the first ten years of this century alone, say scientists.

    • Meet Alexandria Villaseñor, the Teen Activist Who’s Spent 12 Fridays Outside the United Nations Striking for the Climate

      All this work is leading to March 15, when activists around the world are hoping for a global student strike. Youth Climate Strike U.S., an organization Alexandria is affiliated with, has strikes already planned in dozens of states to support Fridays for Future and School Strike for Climate — some states already have multiple strikes in the works, Alexandria says.

    • Last year’s cereal harvest the smallest in 26 years

      The year 2018 was the second consecutive poor harvest year in Finland. Last year, drought reduced the total yield, particularly in Southwest Finland and surrounding areas. In addition to cereals, the broad bean harvest was much smaller than normal. In 2017, heavy rainfall reduced the total yield.

    • ‘Why Go to School When You Have No Future?’: A Q&A With a 13-Year-Old Climate Striker

      Now, Villaseñor is one of the leaders of the New York City climate strike—one of more than 1,000 strikes across at least 70 countries that will take place tomorrow. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager who began the #FridaysforFuture in front of the Swedish parliament building last year, children and teens like Villaseñor have started to call on adults to cut fossil-fuel emission in half within the next 10 years. While Villaseñor is often the only climate protester in front of the UN, she’s not not alone in her fight. Through social media, Villaseñor has connected with other student activists in Chile, the United Kingdom, Australia, Uganda, and elsewhere. This—as the March 15 strike will make clear—is a global movement.

    • What are the school climate strikes?

      The strikes signal a shift in green activism, with those who will be particularly affected by climate change taking the lead. The protests take place amid a lawsuit that has been filed by a group of American children against the federal government, arguing that it was violating their constitutional right to life, liberty and property by allowing activities that contribute to climate change. Although some politicians have criticised the school strikes as disruptive, others, including Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, back them. This could be because children’s fears for the future carry a certain moral weight; last month Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic senator, was roundly criticised after a video of her lecturing a group of young climate activists went viral. For many, Greta Thunberg has become a beacon of hope. But as she told the Davos crowd in January, that was never her plan. “I don’t want you to be hopeful,” she said. “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”

    • Tribes Accuse Corps of Withholding Pipeline Study Records

      Tribes battling the Dakota Access oil pipeline in court are accusing the Army Corps of Engineers of withholding dozens of documents that could bolster their case that the pipeline could unfairly impact them.

      Many of the records that attorneys for the four Sioux tribes allege are missing relate to the pipeline’s crossing beneath the Lake Oahe reservoir on the Missouri River in the Dakotas, which the tribes rely on for drinking water, fishing and religious practices. Fears of a spill into the river sparked prolonged protests in 2016 and early 2017 that drew thousands of pipeline opponents from around the world to southern North Dakota.

    • Climate Change Is Here—and It Looks Like Starvation

      This year, CARE highlighted the fact that almost all of these crises can be traced in large part to climate change. In Sudan, unpredictable rainfall has meant “frequent droughts,” occasional flooding, and “extreme hunger.” In the island nation of Madagascar, “at the frontline of climate change,” cyclones and drought have put 1.3 million people at risk of hunger and, according to UNICEF, a staggering 49 percent of the country’s children have been left stunted by malnutrition. In the Philippines, 2018’s fiercest storm, “super-typhoon” Mangkhut, fed by the heat of the warming oceans, displaced more than a million people. In Niger, desertification has spurred violence and displacement, just as it has in Chad, where nearly half the population is now chronically malnourished. The major source of fresh water in the region, Lake Chad, has shrunk to one-twentieth the area it once covered. In Haiti it was drought again, plus three devastating hurricanes over two consecutive years, leaving nearly 3 million people in need of immediate aid.

    • It’s Happening: Study Confirms Our Oceans Are Already Losing Vast Quantities of Fish

      Data collected from 1930 to 2010 has shown that sustainable fish stock declined 4.1 percent on average over that time period. In some regions, including the East China Sea and the North Sea, the drop was as high as 15-35 percent.

      Both climate change and overfishing are to blame, the team of researchers says. They did also find that a small number of fish populations actually increased – because previously colder waters became more habitable for them.

    • The World Is Losing Fish to Eat as Oceans Warm, Study Finds

      Scientists have warned that global warming will put pressure on the world’s food supplies in coming decades. But the new findings — which separate the effects of warming waters from other factors, like overfishing — suggest that climate change is already having a serious impact on seafood.

      Fish make up 17 percent of the global population’s intake of animal protein, and as much as 70 percent for people living in some coastal and island countries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

    • Why We Should Not Be Surprised That Murdoch Tabloid’s Favorite Sydney School Pupil Didn’t Join Climate Strike

      Somewhere in the order of 150,000 students went absent from classes in Australia on Friday afternoon for the global “School Strike 4 Climate” marches.

      In what might be seen as an afternoon practical lesson in democracy, free speech, and civic engagement, students from cities and towns across the country and the world marched, chanted, and held placards aloft.

      One of the biggest marches in Australia saw 25,000 students on the streets of Sydney, the home of the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Daily Telegraph.

      But one student in particular caught eye of The Daily Telegraph — a 17-year-old, Year 12 pupil called Joanne Tran, who wrote an article for the newspaper explaining why she would not be marching.

    • A Future Without Fossil Fuels?

      “Kingsmill Bond” certainly sounds like a proper name for a City of London financial analyst. He looks the part, too: gray hair expertly trimmed, well-cut suit. He’s lived in Moscow and Hong Kong and worked for Deutsche Bank, the Russian financial firm Troika Dialog, and Citibank. He’s currently “new energy strategist” for a small British think tank called Carbon Tracker, and last fall he published a short paper called “2020 Vision: Why You Should See the Fossil Fuel Peak Coming.” It asks an interesting question: At what point does a new technology cause an existing industry to start losing significant value?

      This may turn out to be the most important economic and political question of the first half of this century, and the answer might tell us much about our chances of getting through the climate crisis without completely destroying the planet. Based on earlier technological transitions—horses to cars, sails to steam, land lines to cell phones—it seems possible that the fossil fuel industry may begin to weaken much sooner than you’d think. The British-Venezuelan scholar Carlota Perez has observed that over a period of twenty years, trains made redundant a four-thousand-mile network of canals and dredged rivers across the UK: “The canal builders…fought hard and even finished a couple of major canals in the 1830s, but defeat was inevitable,” as it later was for American railroads (and horses) when they were replaced by trucks and cars.

      Major technological transitions often take a while. The Czech-Canadian academic Vaclav Smil has pointed out that although James Watt developed the coal-powered steam engine in 1776, coal supplied less than 5 percent of the planet’s energy until 1840, and it didn’t reach 50 percent until 1900. But the economic effect of those transitions can happen much earlier, Bond writes, as soon as it becomes clear to investors that a new technology is accounting for all the growth in a particular sector.

      Over the last decade, there has been a staggering fall in the price of solar and wind power, and of the lithium-ion batteries used to store energy. This has led to rapid expansion of these technologies, even though they are still used much less than fossil fuels: in 2017, for instance, sun and wind produced just 6 percent of the world’s electric supply, but they made up 45 percent of the growth in supply, and the cost of sun and wind power continues to fall by about 20 percent with each doubling of capacity. Bond’s analysis suggests that in the next few years, they will represent all the growth. We will then reach peak use of fossil fuels, not because we’re running out of them but because renewables will have become so cheap that anyone needing a new energy supply will likely turn to solar or wind power.

    • Why Students of Color Are Stepping Up to Lead Climate Strikes

      Kawika Ke Koa Pegram has lived his entire life in island communities and is all too familiar with what sea level rise looks like firsthand. Pegram, a 17-year-old junior in high school, recently moved back to Hawai‘i—where he was born—from the Philippines. Two years later, Hurricane Walaka hit the state.

      “It was one of the worst storms the island has seen in modern history,” he remembers. “It had floods that went up to your knees and legs.” Pegram says he had seen that degree of flooding before, but this storm was different: It actually sunk an entire Hawaiian island.

      Pegram is one of more than 60 student leaders who have stepped up to lead climate strikes in cities and towns across the country on March 15 as part of a global school strike for climate action modeled after the example of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. An estimated 50 percent of U.S. student leaders are students of color. This representative leadership is making the strike relatable and accessible to more students.

      Pegram first began environmental organizing just a few weeks ago. After seeing on Twitter that the global climate strike movement was coming to the United States, he tracked down the U.S. Youth Climate Strike website and emailed its leaders. “They got back within an hour. And within a few hours, I was in it,” he says. Pegram is now heading the state of Hawai‘i in staging school strikes and storming the Capitol in Honolulu on Friday.

    • ‘The Youth Have Spoken:’ Young New Yorkers Join Global Climate Strike (Photo Essay)
    • Organic Farms Are Under Attack From Agribusiness, Weakened Standards

      The certified organic label has helped save many generational farms and enabled people like me, who do not come from agricultural backgrounds, to become successful farmers. Organic farming has brought environmental benefits — healthier soils, freedom from toxic pesticides and herbicides — to 6.5 million acres in the U.S.

      Organic shoppers are willing to pay a little extra for food that is free from chemical residues. But the organic label is in trouble after reports of fraudulently labeled food made national news. On top of that, agribusiness pressures and National Organic Program (NOP) actions have weakened standards. Yet at a time when farms are in distress, family-scale farmers need a label with integrity. They need a label that provides public support from people who understand that small-scale farmers are an endangered species.

      In the 1980s, I was one of the organic farmers who helped launch organic certification. Farming and non-farming members of the Northeast Organic Farming Association worked together to write standards for a label that identified the real organic food that non-farmers wanted to buy — for which they were willing to pay enough to keep the small farms in business.

      In retrospect, it has become clear that we were very naïve. It did not occur to us to consider the many ways our clear, simple statements could be twisted by people who were willing to cut corners to increase their bottom line and steal markets by underselling the farmers who observed the standards faithfully.

    • Trump’s budget follows flurry of lobbying from fossil fuel, charter school and other interests

      Industries and organizations that stand to gain from the budget spend millions of dollars lobbying the U.S. government each year.

      From cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education, to a 5 percent increase in the military budget, the Fiscal Year 2020 budget will delight economic conservatives wanting cuts to social spending and dismay liberals aiming to preserve environmental regulation and welfare programs.

      While the budget will likely gain no traction on Capitol Hill, the document unambiguously presents the priorities of the administration. It calls for a 31 percent cut in the EPA, an 11 percent cut at the Department of Energy, and a 12 percent cut at the Department of Education.

      At the Department of Energy, a 70 percent decrease in funds for the department’s office of renewable energy coincides with increased investment in nuclear energy, coal and fossil fuels. The budget for the Office of Fossil Energy Research and Development will increase by $60 million, and the Office of Nuclear Energy’s budget will surge by $67 million.

      The proposed cuts have received condemnation from liberal environmental groups such as the League of Conservation Voters, which spent tens of millions to elect Democrats in 2018

      “This isn’t a budget for a better America, it’s a budget for a sicker, dirtier America,” said Carol M. Browner, board chair of the League of Conservation Voters and a former EPA administrator.

    • Why Unions Must Bargain Over Climate Chang

      Union contract negotiations include mandatory and permissive subjects of bargaining. Employers are required by law to negotiate over mandatory subjects—wages, benefits and working conditions. Permissive subjects, such as decisions about which public services will be provided and how, have historically been the purview of management. We only negotiate over how managerial decisions affect members’ jobs. Employers may voluntarily agree to negotiate permissive subjects, but unions can’t legally strike over them.

      In recent years, some unions have embraced “bargaining for the common good,” which use the union campaign to win broad, righteous public benefits. The best current example of this is the Los Angeles teachers’ strike, which opposed the underfunding, privatization and overcrowding of schools—all of which hurt students. Common good goals often bump against the constraints of what is legally bargainable. For instance, does a demand from teachers’ unions that school districts use district-owned property to fund and build affordable housing for teachers affect working conditions? While shortages of affordable housing affect teachers very directly, how school districts use their land and invest their money is normally considered a managerial prerogative.

      But last fall’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a game-changer. It concludes that humanity has 12 years to cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius—and avoid civilization-threatening consequences of climate change. There is a lot of space between projected best- and worst-case future scenarios. It’s the difference between bad and apocalyptic. That space represents hundreds of millions of people dying. Avoiding worst-case scenarios, in strictly scientific terms, requires everyone to do everything, immediately.

    • Native American Church Works to Conserve, Sustain Peyote

      “After Amada’s passing, the peyote distribution system lost heart and seemed to be about monetary compensation,” said Iron Rope, former chairman of the Native American Church of North America (NACNA) and today chairman of the NAC of South Dakota. He is concerned that the remaining three or four peyote dealers in Texas — all non-Native — don’t give “the medicine” the reverence they should.

      “They don’t make prayerful offerings when they harvest,” Iron Rope said. “We’ve heard reports about intoxicated harvesters. Sometimes, the medicine that comes to us was mushy or small, and the harvesting technique was not one that would allow regrowth.”

      Careless and sometimes illegal harvesting, along with increased land and resource development in Texas, has led to a decline in peyote’s quality and availability. Prices have gone up, and church members worry the cactus, now listed as a vulnerable species, could become endangered.

    • FDA allows genetically engineered ‘Frankenfish’ salmon to be imported to US

      The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it is lifting an import alert that stopped genetically engineered salmon from entering the US.

  • Finance
    • Zimbabweans Go for Alternatives as Bread Becomes Unaffordable

      Bread in Zimbabwe now costs $2 a loaf, or higher, making it beyond the reach of many in the poverty-stricken country.

    • A fifth of Americans say they have zero savings

      About 21% of working Americans said they aren’t saving any money at all, Bankrate found in a survey. Among those who are saving, a majority are putting away less than 10% of their income.

      Over the past several decades, household savings in the US have been trending downward. By the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ measure, Americans were saving 7.6% of disposable income in December. Before the 1980s, that rate had mostly been in the double digits.

    • American prosecutors uncover a huge university-admissions scam

      There is also an entirely legal way to corrupt the elite admissions system, which for some reason generates less outrage. Mr Singer grasped this dynamic: There is a front door “which means you get in on your own” and a “back door” secured by multimillion-dollar donations to universities, he explained in a recorded call to a client. What Mr Singer did—for 761 buyers, he claimed—is create a “side door” by bribing university officials and faking test scores that would achieve the same result at one-tenth of the cost. In effect, his scheme granted mere multimillionaires access to the billionaires’ entrance.

    • China recruits Westerners to sell its “democracy”

      Finally, there is the odd experience of meeting supposed colleagues who are in fact complete strangers, meaning foreigners employed by Chinese state media, or by obscure Western news outlets that channel Chinese propaganda. Some ask planted questions at press conferences. Others pop up in the state media lauding China’s political system. Xinhua, China’s official news agency, this year put out a video entitled “Chinese democracy in the eyes of an American”. A fresh-faced young man from Chicago, Colin Linneweber, strolls around Tiananmen Square while opining that “it’s widely acknowledged that a key to China’s success is its system of democracy”, and praising the country’s “stability”. He then presents mini-profiles of delegates with such day jobs as farmer, migrant worker and postman, whose proposals for making China better became law. It is tempting to be quite cross with such Westerners. Ordinary Chinese who start praising democracy on the square, a ghost-haunted, massively policed spot, would be instantly arrested. Stability comes at a price, what is more. China’s one-party rule involves more than the absence of messy things like real elections or a free press. It requires active, unsleeping maintenance by state-security agents tasked with tracking, threatening or jailing any who challenge the Communist monopoly on power.

    • Donald Trump Touts Benefits of Trade Pact That Hasn’t Even Been Agreed Yet

      However, before the deal can go into effect from the U.S. side, it must be approved by Congress. Some representatives have voiced their objections to the international treaty, making its approval less than certain.