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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 4 min 56 sec ago

Links 18/1/2019: Mesa 18.3.2, Rust 1.32.0

Friday 18th of January 2019 05:19:11 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • New Deepin Linux Gets Even Better With Touchscreen Gesture Support

      Easily the most welcome new feature is enhanced touchscreen support, especially during a time when 2-in-1 devices are becoming more popular. And in many Linux distributions, touchscreen functionality is a bit of a weak point. Deepin 15.9 adds support for multiple touch gestures including click, double click, a long press to bring up the context menu, as well as sliding up and down.

      Also added is an onscreen keyboard plugin, available from the dock.

    • Popular open source laptop maker Purism announces new series

      Hackers and hustlers who have been looking for fully open source laptops have often turned to Purism, a small but feisty distributor that pairs high-end hardware with completely open software. The laptops are generic enough to ensure that you won’t be locked down by Windows or any other closed-source players but high-end enough for programming work.

      The best thing? Both laptops feature a physical on and off switch to control the Wi-Fi, camera, and microphone, thereby ensuring complete privacy when talking biz. The laptops are excellent for folks specifically interested in security as users can manage everything from the OS to their crypto wallet with complete transparency.

    • The best Linux apps for Chromebooks

      Being able to install Linux apps on Chrome OS opens up some fascinating new possibilities — particularly if you’re an advanced user.

      After all, while a Chromebook’s standard combo of web apps, Chrome apps, and Android apps is more than sufficient for most folks’ needs, some of us still require (or maybe just prefer) traditional local programs for certain specific purposes. The presence of Linux apps on Chrome OS means we can have our cake and eat it, too — by enjoying the speed, simplicity, and security of a Chromebook while also embracing the occasional heavy-duty desktop app.

  • Server
    • Modern web applications on OpenShift: Part 3 — Openshift as a development environment

      Welcome back to the final part of this multipart series about deploying modern web applications on Red Hat OpenShift. In the first post, we took a look at how to deploy a modern web application using the fewest commands.

      In the second part, we took a deeper look into how the new source-to-image (S2I) web app builder works and how to use it as part of a chained build.

      This third and final part will take a look at how you can run your app’s “development workflow” on OpenShift.

    • Survey Indicates Container Security Concerns Limit Adoption

      A new survey indicates that 60 percent of IT pros working with containers experienced at least one container security incident in the last year.

    • SUSE teams with Intel & SAP on persistent memory in the datacentre

      SUSE has announced support for Intel Optane DC persistent memory with SAP HANA.

      Persistent memory is typically defined as any method or apparatus for storing data structures such that they can continue to be accessed using memory instructions or memory APIs even after the end of the process that created or last modified them – and that often means ‘when the power is off’.

      Running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, SAP HANA users can now use Intel Optane DC persistent memory in the data centre.

    • Red Hat Shareholders Greenlight $34B IBM Acquisition

      IBM’s $34 billion deal to acquire Red Hat took a big step closer to completion, as Red Hat shareholders nearly unanimously approved the deal on Wednesday.

    • How VMware Is Advancing Kubernetes Cloud-Native Technology With Heptio
    • Top 5 Linux Server Distributions

      However, in the name of opening your eyes to maybe something a bit different, I’m going to approach this a bit differently. I want to consider a list of possible distributions that are not only outstanding candidates but also easy to use, and that can serve many functions within your business. In some cases, my choices are drop-in replacements for other operating systems, whereas others require a bit of work to get them up to speed.

      Some of my choices are community editions of enterprise-grade servers, which could be considered gateways to purchasing a much more powerful platform. You’ll even find one or two entries here to be duty-specific platforms. Most importantly, however, what you’ll find on this list isn’t the usual fare.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.20.3
    • Linux 4.19.16
    • Linux 4.14.94
    • Linux 4.9.151
    • Linux 4.4.171
    • Ditching Out-of-Date Documentation Infrastructure

      Long ago, the Linux kernel started using 00-Index files to list the contents of each documentation directory. This was intended to explain what each of those files documented. Henrik Austad recently pointed out that those files have been out of date for a very long time and were probably not used by anyone anymore. This is nothing new. Henrik said in his post that this had been discussed already for years, “and they have since then grown further out of date, so perhaps it is time to just throw them out.”

      He counted hundreds of instances where the 00-index file was out of date or not present when it should have been. He posted a patch to rip them all unceremoniously out of the kernel.

      Joe Perches was very pleased with this. He pointed out that .rst files (the kernel’s native documentation format) had largely taken over the original purpose of those 00-index files. He said the oo-index files were even misleading by now.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Check Out the 2019 Linux Foundation Events and Expand Your Open Source Experience

        The Linux Foundation just recently announced its 2019 events schedule, featuring all your favorite events as well as some brand-new ones to cover the latest technologies. Make plans now to speak or attend and expand your experience with open source.

      • The Role of Hyperledger in the Development of Smart Contracts

        Businesses constantly look to improve. A great part of that improvement is optimizing the costs-to-revenue ratio, which obviously favors revenue. Developing decentralized applications (dApps) with smart contracts has opened exciting avenues for businesses. Blockchain developers are exploring this practical aspect of smart contracts to create dApps that solve several issues current businesses struggle with: too many intermediaries, too much time, and too many conditions attached to executing a business transaction.

        The sum of these issues comes down to spending too much money on completing business contracts. Expectedly, the solution would be to reduce most of the complicated aspects to do business in a more affordable way than ever before.


        The Hyperledger is different from other blockchain endeavors. It not only offers a dApp platform for creating practical solutions but it also provides collaborative partnership and unique smart contract technology as well as rich resources such as plug-in tools and frameworks that businesses can use in the process of dApp development. In the spirit of Linux, it also features a very active online community.

        Despite the permissioned blockchain model, it’s important to keep in mind Hyperledger’s open-source software orientation, which means the platform offers its newly developed code to partners for free. Apart from the membership fee, there are no additional fees for licenses and royalties. In a way, seeing blockchains as completely open or partially open networks is similar to the conundrum associated with the different benefits of open-source and proprietary software.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Mesa 18.3.2

        Mesa 18.3.2 is now available.

        In this release candidate we have added more PCI IDs for AMD Vega devices and
        a number of fixes for the RADV Vulkan drivers.

        On the Intel side we have a selection ranging from quad swizzles support for
        ICL to compiler fixes.

        The nine state tracker has also seen some love as do the Broadcom drivers.

        To top it all up, we have a healthy mount of build system fixes.

        Alex Deucher (3):
        pci_ids: add new vega10 pci ids
        pci_ids: add new vega20 pci id
        pci_ids: add new VegaM pci id

        Alexander von Gluck IV (1):
        egl/haiku: Fix reference to disp vs dpy

        Andres Gomez (2):
        glsl: correct typo in GLSL compilation error message
        glsl/linker: specify proper direction in location aliasing error

        Axel Davy (3):
        st/nine: Fix volumetexture dtor on ctor failure
        st/nine: Bind src not dst in nine_context_box_upload
        st/nine: Add src reference to nine_context_range_upload

        Bas Nieuwenhuizen (5):
        radv: Do a cache flush if needed before reading predicates.
        radv: Implement buffer stores with less than 4 components.
        anv/android: Do not reject storage images.
        radv: Fix rasterization precision bits.
        spirv: Fix matrix parameters in function calls.

        Caio Marcelo de Oliveira Filho (3):
        nir: properly clear the entry sources in copy_prop_vars
        nir: properly find the entry to keep in copy_prop_vars
        nir: remove dead code from copy_prop_vars

        Dave Airlie (2):
        radv/xfb: fix counter buffer bounds checks.
        virgl/vtest: fix front buffer flush with protocol version 0.

        Dylan Baker (6):
        meson: Fix ppc64 little endian detection
        meson: Add support for gnu hurd
        meson: Add toggle for glx-direct
        meson: Override C++ standard to gnu++11 when building with altivec on ppc64
        meson: Error out if building nouveau and using LLVM without rtti
        autotools: Remove tegra vdpau driver

        Emil Velikov (13):
        docs: add sha256 checksums for 18.3.1
        bin/ rework handing of sha nominations
        bin/ warn when commit lists invalid sha
        cherry-ignore: meson: libfreedreno depends upon libdrm (for fence support)
        glx: mandate xf86vidmode only for “drm” dri platforms
        meson: don’t require glx/egl/gbm with gallium drivers
        pipe-loader: meson: reference correct library
        TODO: glx: meson: build dri based glx tests, only with -Dglx=dri
        glx: meson: drop includes from a link-only library
        glx: meson: wire up the dispatch-index-check test
        glx/test: meson: assorted include fixes
        Update version to 18.3.2
        docs: add release notes for 18.3.2

        Eric Anholt (6):
        v3d: Fix a leak of the transfer helper on screen destroy.
        vc4: Fix a leak of the transfer helper on screen destroy.
        v3d: Fix a leak of the disassembled instruction string during debug dumps.
        v3d: Make sure that a thrsw doesn’t split a multop from its umul24.
        v3d: Add missing flagging of SYNCB as a TSY op.
        gallium/ttn: Fix setup of outputs_written.

        Erik Faye-Lund (2):
        virgl: wrap vertex element state in a struct
        virgl: work around bad assumptions in virglrenderer

        Francisco Jerez (5):
        intel/fs: Handle source modifiers in lower_integer_multiplication().
        intel/fs: Implement quad swizzles on ICL+.
        intel/fs: Fix bug in lower_simd_width while splitting an instruction which was already split.
        intel/eu/gen7: Fix brw_MOV() with DF destination and strided source.
        intel/fs: Respect CHV/BXT regioning restrictions in copy propagation pass.

        Ian Romanick (2):
        i965/vec4/dce: Don’t narrow the write mask if the flags are used
        Revert “nir/lower_indirect: Bail early if modes == 0″

        Jan Vesely (1):
        clover: Fix build after clang r348827

        Jason Ekstrand (6):
        nir/constant_folding: Fix source bit size logic
        intel/blorp: Be more conservative about copying clear colors
        spirv: Handle any bit size in vector_insert/extract
        anv/apply_pipeline_layout: Set the cursor in lower_res_reindex_intrinsic
        spirv: Sign-extend array indices
        intel/peephole_ffma: Fix swizzle propagation

        Karol Herbst (1):
        nv50/ir: fix use-after-free in ConstantFolding::visit

        Kirill Burtsev (1):
        loader: free error state, when checking the drawable type

        Lionel Landwerlin (5):
        anv: don’t do partial resolve on layer > 0
        i965: include draw_params/derived_draw_params for VF cache workaround
        i965: add CS stall on VF invalidation workaround
        anv: explictly specify format for blorp ccs/mcs op
        anv: flush fast clear colors into compressed surfaces

        Marek Olšák (1):
        st/mesa: don’t leak pipe_surface if pipe_context is not current

        Mario Kleiner (1):
        radeonsi: Fix use of 1- or 2- component GL_DOUBLE vbo’s.

        Nicolai Hähnle (1):
        meson: link LLVM ‘native’ component when LLVM is available

        Rhys Perry (3):
        radv: don’t set surf_index for stencil-only images
        ac/nir,radv,radeonsi/nir: use correct indices for interpolation intrinsics
        ac: split 16-bit ssbo loads that may not be dword aligned

        Rob Clark (2):
        freedreno/drm: fix memory leak
        mesa/st/nir: fix missing nir_compact_varyings

        Samuel Pitoiset (1):
        radv: switch on EOP when primitive restart is enabled with triangle strips

        Timothy Arceri (2):
        tgsi/scan: fix loop exit point in tgsi_scan_tess_ctrl()
        tgsi/scan: correctly walk instructions in tgsi_scan_tess_ctrl()

        Vinson Lee (2):
        meson: Fix typo.
        meson: Fix libsensors detection.

      • Mesa 18.3.2 Released With Many Fixes As Users Encouraged To Upgrade

        With the Mesa 18.2.8 release at the end of December being the last release of that driver series, users should really consider upgrading to Mesa 18.3. Fortunately, Mesa 18.3.2 is out this morning with dozens of fixes.

        This point release to Mesa 18.3 is quite big as it’s arriving a few weeks late due to the holidays and the release manager having been ill. Mesa 18.3.2 has more than six dozen changes including the new Vega 10/20 PCI IDs along with the new VegaM ID too, Gallium Nine fixes, Intel Icelake fixes, Meson build system updates, a few Broadcom VC4/V3D fixes too, and rounding out with a few RADV Radeon Vulkan driver fixes too.

      • Nouveau Open-Source Driver Will Now Work With NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti On Linux 5.0

        Among the many Linux 5.0 kernel features is initial open-source NVIDIA driver support for the latest-generation Turing graphics processors. Missed out on during the Linux 5.0 merge window was “TU102″ support but now that is coming down as a fix for the 5.0 kernel.

        Back in December, Ben Skeggs of Red Hat posted the initial Turing support for Nouveau in the form of the TU104 (RTX 2080) and TU106 (RTX 2060/2070) but was lacking coverage of the TU102, which is for the flagship RTX 2080 Ti and TITAN RTX. He wasn’t able to test the support at the time and thus left it out. Skeggs has now been able to verify the TU102 support is working and that patch is now on its way to the mainline kernel tree.

      • Quake 2 Gets Real-Time Path Tracing Powered By NVIDIA RTX / VK_NV_ray_tracing

        For those Linux gamers with a NVIDIA RTX “Turing” graphics card, there’s finally an interesting open-source workload to enjoy that makes use of the RTX hardware and NVIDIA’s VK_NV_ray_tracing extension… A real-time path tracing port of the legendary Quake 2 game.

        While Quake II recently saw a Vulkan port, university students have now done an “RTX” port for Quake 2 with the new Q2VKPT project.

    • Benchmarks
      • Mesa 19.0 RADV vs. AMDVLK 2019.Q1.2 vs. Radeon Software 18.50 Linux Vulkan Performance

        With the latest AMDVLK Vulkan driver improvements back to coming out on a weekly basis by AMD and Mesa 19.0 development progressing ahead of its feature freeze later this month, here is a fresh Linux gaming benchmark comparison of the AMD Radeon Vulkan driver options on Linux. Tested this round with a Radeon RX 590 and RX Vega 64 was the latest Mesa 19.0 development state for RADV, this week’s new AMDVLK 2019.Q1.2 driver snapshot, and the Radeon Software 18.50 proprietary driver while running a slew of Vulkan-powered Linux games and DXVK.

      • WLinux & WLinux Enterprise Benchmarks, The Linux Distributions Built For Windows 10 WSL

        Making the news rounds a few months back was “WLinux”, which was the first Linux distribution designed for Microsoft’s Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on Windows 10. But is this pay-to-play Linux distribution any faster than the likes of Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Debian already available from the Microsoft Store? Here are some benchmarks of these different Linux distribution options with WSL.

        WLinux is a Linux distribution derived from Debian that is focused on offering an optimal WSL experience. This distribution isn’t spun by Microsoft but a startup called Whitewater Foundry. WLinux focuses on providing good defaults for WSL with the catering of its default package set while the Debian archive via APT is still accessible. There is also support for graphical applications when paired with a Windows-based X client. For this easy-setup, quick-to-get-going Linux distribution on WSL, it retails for $19.99 USD from the Microsoft Store though often sells for $9.99 USD.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Plasma 5.15 Beta

        Today KDE launches the beta release of Plasma 5.15.

        For the first release of 2019, the Plasma team has embraced KDE’s Usability & Productivity goal. We have teamed up with the VDG (Visual Design Group) contributors to get feedback on all the papercuts in our software that make your life less smooth, and fixed them to ensure an intuitive and consistent workflow for your daily use.

        Plasma 5.15 brings a number of changes to our configuration interfaces, including more options for complex network configurations. Many icons have been added or redesigned. Our integration with third-party technologies like GTK and Firefox has been made even more complete. Discover, our software and add-on installer, has received a metric tonne of improvements to help you stay up-to-date and find the tools you need to get your tasks done.

      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Desktop Environment Enters Beta, Promises Numerous Improvements
      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Beta Released With Some Grand Improvements
      • Help Test KDE Plasma 5.15 Beta

        KDE’s flagship project Plasma has a new beta out. There’s now three weeks to sort out the bugs to make the release a work of perfection. We need your help.

        Plasma has a new testing release out with a final release due in three weeks. We need your help in testing it and reporting problems.

        KDE neon Developer Git-Stable Edition now has Plasma 5.15 beta and can be used for testing.

      • On Wallpapers

        I’ll be switching to releasing new wallpapers every second Plasma release, on even-numbered versions.
        This is just a post to refer to for those who have asked me about Plasma 5.15 and a new wallpaper. Since I started working on Plasma 5 wallpapers, there has always been a number of factors determining how exactly I made them. After some agonising debate I’ve decided to slow the wallpaper release pace, because as time has gone on a number of things have changed since I started contributing them [....]

        LTS Plasma versions & quality. While it may seem irrelevant to wallpapers, LTS stands out to as the place where we really need to pour love and care into our designs. With each new wallpaper I’m pushing things a bit harder and a bit further which means taking more time to create them, and I’m realising that at the quality I want to drive out LTS wallpapers with, it might take 3 to 5 dedicated days to produce a final product. That’s not including post-reveal tweaks I do after receiving feedback, or the wallpapers I discard during the creation process (for each wallpaper released, it’s likely I got halfway through 2 other designs). In other words, it’s becoming less sustainable.

        The wallpapers aren’t crap anymore. It’s no secret, my first wallpapers were rough. When a new wallpaper was finished there were real quality incentives for me to take the lessons learned and turn-around a better wallpaper. Nowadays though most new wallpapers are visually pleasing and people don’t mind if they stick around for a bit longer. I know a lot of people even go back to previous wallpapers. Adding to this, it’s gotten easy to get older wallpapers; OpenDesktop, GetHotNewStuff both serve as easy access, and we now have some of the most popular default wallpapers in the extended wallpapers package. While new wallpapers are always nice to have, it’s no longer bad to keep what we’ve got.

      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Beta Wayland Run Through

        In this video, we look at KDE Plasma 5.15 Beta the Wayland Session. Please keep in mind that it is still in development and the Xorg session is perfect.

      • Qt 5.13 Might Add QTelemetry For Opt-In Anonymous Data Collection

        The next release of the Qt5 tool-kit might introduce a potentially controversial module to facilitate anonymous data collection of Qt applications.

        The addition of Qt Telemetry has been under code review since last September. There was some reviews taking place and code revisions happening but since November that review dried up.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME’s Builder IDE Goes Through Its Biggest Code Refactoring Ever

        The lead developer of the GNOME Builder integrated development environment, Christian Hergert, has just led his project through its largest code re-factoring yet. Builder 3.32 coming out in March with GNOME 3.32 features more than 100k lines of code changed with various underlying improvements as well as some new features for developers.

      • GNOME Software 3.31.2 Debuts With Flatpak Improvements, Many Fixes

        Now available for testing ahead of GNOME 3.32 in March is GNOME Software 3.31.2, the first development release for this “app store” / software center seeing its first release since v3.31.1 last October.

        Given the time since the prior development release, GNOME Software 3.31.2 has a lot of fixes and other improvements in preparing for the 3.32.0 stable release.

  • Distributions
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Tumbleweed Starts Year with New Plasma, Applications, VIM, curl

        This new year has brought several updated packages to users of openSUSE’s rolling release Tumbleweed.

        Three snapshots have been released in 2019 so far and among the packages updated in the snapshots are KDE’s Plasma, VIM, RE2, QEMU and curl.

        The 20190112 snapshot brought a little more than a handful of packages. The new upstream Long-Term-Support version of nodejs10 10.15.0 addressed some timing vulnerabilities, updated a dependency with an upgrade to OpenSSL 1.1.0j and the versional also has a 40-seconds timeout that is now applied to servers receiving HTTP headers. The changelog listed several fixes for the highly configurable text editor with vim 8.1.0687, which should now be able to be built with Ruby 2.6.0 that was released at the end of December. Google’s re2 20190101 offered some performance tweaks and bug fixes. The fast real-time compression algorithm of zstd 1.3.8 has better decompression speed on large files. There was a change in the yast2-firewall package, which arrived in the the 20190110 snapshot, that allows new ‘forward_ports’, ‘rich_rules’ and ‘source_ports’ elements in zone entries with yast2-schema 4.1.0.

    • Slackware Family
      • Uploading 15 GB of new Slackware Live Edition ISO images

        The squashfs modules in the XFCE ISOs are compressed with ‘xz’ to keep them as small as possible (so they will fit on a CDROM medium). All of the other ISOs are compressed with ‘zstd’ which gives the Live OS a speed boost of ~20% at the cost of 10% increase in the ISO size.

    • Fedora
      • How Do You Fedora: Journey into 2019

        Jose plans on continuing to push open source initiatives such as cloud and container infrastructures. He will also continue teaching advanced Unix systems administration. “I am now helping a new generation of Red Hat Certified Professionals seek their place in the world of open source. It is indeed a joy when a student mentions they have obtained their certification because of what they were exposed to in my class.” He also plans on spending some more time with his art again.

        Carlos would like to write for Fedora Magazine and help bring the magazine to the Latin American community. “I would like to contribute to Fedora Magazine. If possible I would like to help with the magazine in Spanish.”

        Akinsola wants to hold a Fedora a release part in 2019. “I want make many people aware of Fedora, make them aware they can be part of the release and it is easy to do.” He would also like to ensure that new Fedora users have an easy time of adapting to their new OS.

        Kevin is planning is excited about 2019 being a time of great change for Fedora. “In 2019 I am looking forward to seeing what and how we retool things to allow for lifecycle changes and more self service deliverables. I think it’s going to be a ton of work, but I am hopeful we will come out of it with a much better structure to carry us forward to the next period of Fedora success.” Kevin also had some words of appreciation for everyone in the Fedora community. “I’d like to thank everyone in the Fedora community for all their hard work on Fedora, it wouldn’t exist without the vibrant community we have.”

    • Debian Family
      • Understanding Debian: The Universal Operating System

        “And my final test as to whether or not Debian succeeded was: could the founder step away from the project and could the project keep going because that is the only point at which you know that the project has basically taken a life of its own.” ~ Ian Murdock

      • Week 5: Resolving the blocker

        This post is about my work on the subscription feature for Debian derivatives – first of the two main issues to be resolved within my internship. And this week’s topic from the organizers is “Think About Your Audience”, especially newcomers to the community and future Outreachy applicants. So I’ll try to write about the feature keeping the most important details but taking into account that the readers might be unfamiliar with some terms and concepts.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Flavours and Variants
            • How to replace Windows 7 with Linux Mint

              Many of you are Windows 7 users. I get it. Windows 7 just works. But the clock is ticking for Windows 7. In less than a year, Windows 7′s free support ends.

              Come that day, you’ll have a choice: You can either run it without being certain you’ll get vital security patches (that would be really stupid), or you can pay for Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESUs) on a per-device basis, with the price increasing each year. We don’t know how much that will be, but I think we can safely assume it won’t be cheap. Or, you can migrate to Windows 10. And, yes, for now, you can still update to Windows 10 for free from Windows 7.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • CNC milling with open source software

    I’m always looking for new projects to create with my 3D printer. When I recently saw a new design for a computer numeric code (CNC) milling machine that mostly uses 3D printed parts, I was intrigued. When I saw that the machine works with open source software and the controller is an Arduino running open source software, I knew I had to make one.

    CNC milling machines are precision cutting tools used in creating dies, engravings, and models. Unlike other milling tools, CNC machines can move on three axes: the Z axis moves vertically, the X axis moves horizontally, and the Y axis moves backward and forward.

  • Attackers Leverage Open Source in New BYOB Attack [Ed: A "phishing site impersonating the Office 365 login page," but hey, let's blame "open source"]

    An attack leveraging the open-source Build Your Own Botnet (BYOB) framework has reportedly been intercepted by Israeli cybersecurity firm Perception Point’s incident response team. According to the team, this appears to be the first time the BYOB framework has been found to be used for fraudulent activity in the wild.

    While these tactics and techniques have historically been limited in used to financially backed advanced persistent threat (APT) groups, they are now more easily accessed by novice criminals, in part because of the more widespread popularity of plug-and-play hacking kits, researchers said.

  • Try ‘Puffer’: An Open-Source Free Live TV Streaming Service By Stanford

    A new free TV streaming service called “Puffer” has been launched as a part of a nonprofit academic research study by a group of Stanford researchers.

    The team, led by Francis Yan, a doctoral student from the computer science department at Stanford Universty, aims at improving Internet transmission and video-streaming algorithms by using AI.

  • Empowers MarketAxess to Innovate and Inform Trading Strategies, the open source leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), today announced that its open source platform, H2O, provides critical machine learning capabilities to MarketAxess, the operator of a leading electronic trading platform for fixed-income securities and the provider of market data and post-trade services for the global fixed-income markets. MarketAxess’ Composite+, powered by H2O open source, delivers greater insight and price discovery in real-time, globally, for over 24,000 corporate bonds. Composite+ has won several awards for its use of AI including the Risk Markets Technology Award for Electronic Trading Support Product of the Year and the Waters Technology American Financial Technology Award for Best Artificial Intelligence Technology Initiative.

  • 2019 AI Trend To Watch: Open Source and RAPIDS

    Nvidia aims to increase its GPU platform usage by offering open source tools to help accelerate machine learning workloads.

  • How to Preserve Your Privacy on Android Without Tearing Your Hair Out

    It can seem intimidating, but you can gain some semblance of mobile privacy with a few quick tweaks.


    If you had unlimited time and some familiarity with the Android platform, you could go to extremes like rooting to disable system components, flashing custom ROMs, or even building your own privacy-focused ROM. For most people, that’s not feasible. Not only are such activities incredibly complex, but they also make your phone less useful.

    The fact of the matter is, most Android users want access to the Play Store, Google apps, and high-security apps (e.g. banking) that rely on Google’s TrustZone system. However, you can make some simple but not always obvious changes to Android phones to preserve your privacy.

  • Blast from the Past: Retrieving Old Game Source Code

    Way back in 1985, I created games on the ZX Spectrum/Timex and CBM-64. A friend and I set up a small software house, and in addition to creating our own games, we also (and more lucratively) converted games for other publishers from CBM-64 to other formats.

    During this period, I wrote several original games in Z80 and 6502 assembler. I kept their sources on 5 1/4″ floppy disks, but after a few years I lost the floppy drive that could read the disks, and they were shoved in a cupboard. Somewhere between house moves, I lost the disks for all time.

    Fast-forward to this past December. In a store, I spotted a cheap game console for roughly $100 (get a look at this absolute unit, sold under the brand name “RetroPi”). It came with 18,000 games for various old computers and consoles, including SNES, ZX Spectrum and CBM-64. The hardware was a Raspberry PI clone in a case, and included Nintendo-type game controllers, along with HDMI and USB power cables.


    I priced out the hardware for the console, and reckon it would cost about $70 for the Pi, controllers and cables, so I don’t feel ripped off… especially as it gave me a chance to play “Legend of Zelda” and “Secret of Mana” for the first time in 25 years via the SNES emulator!

  • How Open Source Culture Is Battling Skepticism Successfully

    The software industry has also witnessed vital changes. One of the biggest methods of evangelising this grown lies in open sourcing. One may think open source is just about free software and data, but, that is not the only thing; open source is about the code that becomes publicly available for people to modify and use it.

  • VLC, that magic open source video player, might be making a play for more consoles

    Speaking to VentureBeat, Jean-Baptiste Kempf revealed that VLC had reached three billion downloads to date and will continue to push HDR support as much as they can via the AV1 format, and further support VR videos.

    As far as gaming devices go, Kempf says that in addition to their already existing Xbox app they’re also interested in releasing VLC for the Switch, Roku devices and the PS4. As VentureBeat points out these aren’t a top priority given that only 12 people actually contribute to the VLC project, but it’s something they’re thinking about.

  • Mastodon is crumbling—and many blame its creator

    It’s 9am on a Tuesday, early morning by’s standards. Few have logged on to the microblogging social network, and it shows: A follower feed filled with more than 31 users updates at a snail’s pace. It’s much slower than one would expect on Twitter. But then again, isn’t Twitter. It runs off a decentralized social media software called Mastodon, and is part of a much larger network of Mastodon communities.

    Over on Twitter, users post jokes about President Donald Trump, this time of a fast food feast he prepared for the Clemson Tigers football team amid the ongoing government shutdown. But the words “Trump” and “shutdown” only appear once each on’s “local timeline,” which shows posts on the site and any other connected “instances,” or Mastodon communities. It’s even more barren on this reporter’s home timeline: No one is talking about hamberders.

    Posting works differently on than Twitter. It’s much more like living in a queer house, one that prefers to talk about political theory over current events. Some users chat about democratic socialism and queer identity, while others talk about games, music, fandom, or their difficulties navigating trans healthcare. One user posts a message that reads “re: hrt” with a few lines about their hormone replacement regimen hidden underneath, accessible only via the “show more” content warning (CW) button next to it. Another boosts a post praising Tallahassee by the Mountain Goats, calling it a “visceral experience.” has just over 2,000 users. Over on Mastodon’s flagship community,, there are over 300,000 users. But despite the larger userbase, discussions are even less political. On the community’s local timeline, one user troubleshoots installing a Linux distribution. Another shares a news story about a man who tried to turn his home into a restaurant. A third links to an article about Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford. Here, Trump is not the sun; tech, gaming, and the occasional NSFW post largely prevail. It’s as if the outside world doesn’t exist.

  • The Best Open Source Software in 2018 (Users’ Choice)

    LibreOffice is a free and open source office suite written in C++, Java, and Python. It was first released in January 2011 by The Document Foundation and has since known to be the most reliable open source office suite.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Announcing Rust 1.32.0

        The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.32.0. Rust is a programming language that is empowering everyone to build reliable and efficient software.

      • Rust 1.32 Released With New Debugger Macro, Jemalloc Disabled By Default

        For fans of Rustlang, it’s time to fire up rustup: Rust 1.32 is out today as the latest feature update for this increasingly popular programming language.

        The Rust 1.32 release brings dbg!() as a new debug macro to print the value of a variable as well as its file/line-number and it works with more than just variables but also commands.

      • Is It Time to Rewrite the Operating System in Rust?

        Bryan Cantrill explores Rust, explains why it has captured the imagination of so many systems software engineers, and outlines where it might best fit in the deep stack of operating system software.


        Bryan Cantrill is the CTO at Joyent, where he oversees worldwide development of the SmartOS and SmartDataCenter platforms. Prior to joining Joyent, he served as a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems, where he spent over a decade working on system software, from the guts of the kernel to client-code on the browser.

      • Julien Vehent: Maybe don’t throw away your VPN just yet…

        At Mozilla, we’ve long adopted single sign on, first using SAML, nowadays using OpenID Connect (OIDC). Most of our applications, both public facing and internal, require SSO to protect access to privileged resources. We never trust the network and always require strong authentication. And yet, we continue to maintain VPNs to protect our most sensitive admin panels.

        “How uncool”, I hear you object, “and here we thought you were all about DevOps and shit”. And you would be correct, but I’m also pragmatic, and I can’t count the number of times we’ve had authentication bugs that let our red team or security auditors bypass authentication. The truth is, even highly experienced programmers and operators make mistakes and will let a bug disable or fail to protect part of that one super sensitive page you never want to leave open to the internet. And I never blame them because SSO/OAuth/OIDC are massively complex protocols that require huge libraries that fail in weird and unexpected ways. I’ve never reached the point where I fully trust our SSO, because we find one of those auth bypass every other month. Here’s the catch: they never lead to major security incidents because we put all our admin panels behind a good old VPN.

      • Reflections on a co-design workshop

        Co-design workshops help designers learn first-hand the language of the people who use their products, in addition to their pain points, workflows, and motivations. With co-design methods [1] participants are no longer passive recipients of products. Rather, they are involved in the envisioning and re-imagination of them. Participants show us what they need and want through sketching and design exercises. The purpose of a co-design workshop is not to have a pixel-perfect design to implement, rather it’s to learn more about the people who use or will use the product, and to involve them in generating ideas about what to design.

        We ran a co-design workshop at Mozilla to inform our product design, and we’d like to share our experience with you.


        Our UX team was tasked with improving the Firefox browser extension experience. When people create browser extensions, they use a form to submit their creations. They submit their code and all the metadata about the extension (name, description, icon, etc.). The metadata provided in the submission form is used to populate the extension’s product page on

      • Firefox Nightly: These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 51
      • WebRender newsletter #36

        Hi everyone! This week’s highlight is Glenn’s picture caching work which almost landed about a week ago and landed again a few hours ago. Fingers crossed! If you don’t know what picture caching means and are interested, you can read about it in the introduction of this newsletter’s season 01 episode 28.

        On a more general note, the team continues focusing on the remaining list of blocker bugs which grows and shrinks depending on when you look, but the overall trend is looking good.

      • Happy BMO Push Day!
  • Databases
    • Unlock Hybrid Everything with MariaDB Platform X3

      As customers, we expect businesses to provide us with useful information. And as our expectations rise, so too must the usefulness of the information. For example, it’s useful to know a product is on sale. It’s more useful to know that it will be sold-out within hours. It’s also useful to know the balance on my credit card. But it’s even more useful to know if it’s going be higher than the automated payment I scheduled.

    • MariaDB Platform X3 combines transaction processing and analytics

      With MariaDB Platform X3, an organization may use a single database both for conventional customer-facing workloads (transactional, or OLTP) and internal business-intelligence workloads (analytical, or OLAP). The same data is available for either kind of work and is kept automatically in sync between the two sides.

      MariaDB Platform is priced at a flat per-node cost, regardless of whether nodes are OLTP or OLAP. This allows for more flexible deployments, where the number of nodes in a given deployment can be moved freely between OLTP and OLAP workloads as demand changes.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • Bash shell utility turns 5.0

      A few months prior to celebrating the 30th birthday of the Bash command language interpreter, the GNU Project has released Bash 5.0, featuring bug fixes and new shell variables.

      As we look forward to the release of Linux Kernel 5.0 in the coming weeks, we can enjoy another venerable open source technology reaching the 5.0 milestone: the Bash shell utility. The GNU Project has launched the public version 5.0 of GNU/Linux’s default command language interpreter. Bash 5.0 adds new shell variables and other features and also repairs several major bugs.

      New shell variables in Bash 5.0 include BASH_ARGV0, which “expands to $0 and sets $0 on assignment,” says the project. The EPOCHSECONDS variable expands to the time in seconds since the Unix epoch, and EPOCHREALTIME does the same, but with microsecond granularity.

    • Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp pose privacy risks, warns free software guru Richard Stallman

      Think twice before posting anyone’s photo on Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram, says free software guru Richard Stallman. As a few among the strongest centralised surveillance mechanisms in the world, even with a picture of the back of head, they would be able to track where you go and what you do, he added.
      The software guru’s lecture titled Education Freedom Day lecture, organised by International Centre for Free and Open Source Software and Society for Promotion of Alternate Computing and Employment (SPACE) in Thiruvananthapuram, had first bewildered information technology professionals and academicians when he asked them to “switch-off the geo-location feature of your smartphone, if you are taking my photos”.
      He said that 90% of the 1,000 free applications in Google Play stores can spy, according to the latest studies and asked why should the fleshlight application be linked to the server. Even the data on the sex toy go to the server, with its thermometer readings sharing the time of contact. He argued that owners of the firms who spy on a user’s personal data should be jailed. Richard Matthew Stallman, according to Wikipedia, “is an Amercian freedom activist and a computer programmer. He campaigns for software to be distributed in such a manner that a user receiving it, likewise receives with it the freedom to use, study, distribute and modify that software”.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Red Hat drops MongoDB over concerns related to its Server Side Public License (SSPL)

      It was last year in October when MongoDB announced that it’s switching to Server Side Public License (SSPL). Now, the news of Red Hat removing MongoDB from its Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora over its SSPL license has been gaining attention.

    • The Need for Sustainable Open Source Projects

      The point of the article is a lot of companies that support open source projects, like RedisDB, are moving to more closed source solutions to survive. The cloud providers are called out as a source of a lot of problems in this article, as they consume a lot of open source software, but do not really spend a lot of time or effort in supporting it. Open source, in this situation, becomes a sort of tragedy of the commons, where everyone thinks someone else is going to do the hard work of making a piece of software viable, so no-one does any of the work. Things are made worse because the open source version of the software is often “good enough” to solve 80% of the problems users need solved, so there is little incentive to purchase anything from the companies that do the bulk of the work in the community.

    • MongoDB’s licensing changes led Red Hat to drop the database from the latest version of its server OS

      After MongoDB decided last year that it was changing the license for its open-source database to a more restrictive version, Red Hat decided it would no longer include MongoDB in the latest version of its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system.

      The change apparently went unnoticed until a Hacker News thread took off earlier today, but it was included in the release notes for RHEL 8.0, which was released in beta last November. In those notes, Red Hat states “note that the NoSQL MongoDB database server is not included in RHEL 8.0 Beta because it uses the Server Side Public License (SSPL).”

    • Red Hat drops MongoDB over SSPL; MDB -3%

      Amazon responded by launching DocumentDB, a managed database that’s compatible with existing MongoDB applications and tools. DocumentDB works with MongoDB version 3.6, which predates the SSPL license.

    • Governance without rules: How the potential for forking helps projects

      The speed and agility of open source projects benefit from lightweight and flexible governance. Their ability to run with such efficient governance is supported by the potential for project forking. That potential provides a discipline that encourages participants to find ways forward in the face of unanticipated problems, changed agendas, or other sources of disagreement among participants. The potential for forking is a benefit that is available in open source projects because all open source licenses provide needed permissions.

      In contrast, standards development is typically constrained to remain in a particular forum. In other words, the ability to move the development of the standard elsewhere is not generally available as a disciplining governance force. Thus, forums for standards development typically require governance rules and procedures to maintain fairness among conflicting interests.

  • Programming/Development
    • Django 2.2 alpha 1 released

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

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

    • Eliminating PHP polyfills

      The Symfony project has recently created a set of pure-PHP polyfills for both PHP extensions and newer language features. It allows developers to add requirements upon those functions or language additions without increasing the system requirements upon end users. For the most part, I think this is a good thing, and valuable to have. We’ve done similar things inside MediaWiki as well for CDB support, Memcached, and internationalization, just to name a few.

      But the downside is that on platforms where it is possible to install the missing PHP extensions or upgrade PHP itself, we’re shipping empty code. MediaWiki requires both the ctypes and mbstring PHP extensions, and our servers have those, so there’s no use in deploying polyfills for those, because they’ll never be used. In September, Reedy and I replaced the polyfills with “unpolyfills” that simply provide the correct package, so the polyfill is skipped by composer. That removed about 3,700 lines of code from what we’re committing, reviewing, and deploying – a big win.

    • Polonius and region errors

      Now that NLL has been shipped, I’ve been doing some work revisiting the Polonius project. Polonius is the project that implements the “alias-based formulation” described in my older blogpost. Polonius has come a long way since that post; it’s now quite fast and also experimentally integrated into rustc, where it passes the full test suite.

    • Serious Python released!

      Well, Serious Python is the the new name of The Hacker’s Guide to Python — the first book I published. Serious Python is the 4th update of that book — but with a brand a new name and a new editor!

    • Radeon GCN Compiler Backend Merged Into GCC 9 – To Allow OpenMP/OpenACC Offloading

      The long-in-development AMD “GCN” back-end for the GNU Compiler Collection that allows targeting recent generations of Radeon GPUs for compute offloading has been merged into the upcoming GCC 9 release.

      This AMD Radeon GCN back-end is what has been in development for many months by Code Sourcery / Mentor Graphics with the ultimate goal of allowing Fortran/C/C++ compute work to be offloaded Radeon graphics processors via the OpenMP and OpenACC APIs, similar to the NVPTX offload support within GCC already for NVIDIA GPUs as well as Xeon Phi offloading on the Intel front.

    • Getting Started with MySQL and Python

      For any fully functional deployable application, the persistence of data is indispensable. A trivial way of storing data would be to write it to a file in the hard disk, but one would prefer writing the application specific data to a database for obvious reasons. Python provides language support for writing data to a wide range of databases.

    • Webinar Recording: “Live Development of a PyCharm Plugin” with Joachim Ansorg
    • How to implement Download Manager in python
    • “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.” – Differentiating between bugs and non-bugs using machine learning
    • Beyond the “hello, world” of Python’s “print” function
    • Leaving Mozilla and (most of) the Rust project
    • RcppArmadillo
  • Science
  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Trump Administration Backs Slow-Motion Right-Wing Coup In Venezuela

      A slow-motion coup by right-wing opposition forces is underway in Venezuela. It has the support of President Donald Trump’s administration, and if successful, President Nicolas Maduro will be undemocratically removed from power though he was re-elected last May.

      Juan Guaido of the Popular Will Party in Venezuela was elected to lead the National Assembly, Venezuela’s congress. He said on January 11 that he was ready to replace Maduro.

      “The constitution gives me the legitimacy to carry out the charge of the presidency over the country to call actions. But I need backing from the citizens to make it a reality,” Guaido stated.

      On January 15, the National Assembly called Maduro’s presidency “illegitimate” and passed a resolution indicating the body no longer believes he has any legal authority.

      Trump administration officials immediately voiced their support. Vice President Mike Pence, who called Guaido, indicated the United States supports the effort to “declare the country’s presidency vacant.”

      “The Maduro regime is illegitimate,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared, echoing the rhetoric of opposition forces in Venezuela. He said America was hopeful it could be a “force for good” and help those who oppose Maduro “restore a real democracy to that country.”

    • Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran

      The United States’ international windbag, Secretary of Defense (read: War) Mike Pompeo has been acting the imperial blowhard throughout the Middle East. With his boss busy denying that he’s a Russian agent, watching advisors and cabinet members come and go with dizzying alacrity, and dodging porn-star accusations, Pompeo is trotting through the Middle East, sounding war drums.

      It seems that Iran, which has long been in the crosshairs of U.S. gunboat ‘diplomacy’, remains firmly targeted. In Cairo, Pompeo promised a “…campaign to stop Iran’s malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world”.

      It is with a firm shake of the head that this writer reads such statements, wondering how anyone with even a modicum of intelligence can take such pronouncements seriously. If one is to discuss ‘malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world’, shouldn’t one look, first and foremost, at the United States?

    • Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East

      If you’re an American, he’s still out there among the “maybe” candidates. But if you live in the Middle East – whether you’re Arab or Israeli, Muslim, Jew or Christian – you should keep your eye on Bernie Sanders.

      He’s no shoo-in, of course – certainly not after his pitiful handover to the awful Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election. I still remember shouting “No!” myself when I heard his fans cursing his decision to stand down in favour of Clinton. But the guy just might have the guts, even the courage, to stand up to the ally to whom the US always gives groveling, uncritical, slavish, immoral support.

      Note how at this point I don’t need to identify Israel as the ally in question. Nor did I have to mention in my first paragraph that Sanders is one of the two most prominent Jewish members of the US Senate. In fact, Sanders wears his origins, race, religion, social background and integrity so easily that he comes across, even to a cynical European still living in a pre-Brexit world (just), as a patently nice guy. Unlike Donald Trump, he’s sane. But unlike Obama, he’s not so goody-two-shoes or optic-obsessed to think that he can fandangle voters with ageing good looks and the right heart.

      It’s one thing for a black candidate to go for the black vote in the US, but for an American Jew to go for the American Jewish vote is a very different matter.

    • War Whores

      From the beginning of recorded history through the end of WWII the term “war” was understood as armed conflict between states or governments. This definition obtained through the Korean and Vietnam wars, gradually losing precision by adoption of such terms as “conflict” and “insurgency”, presumably so as not to dignify grossly unbalanced contests with the glorious name bestowed on mutual slaughter by giant, equal adversaries.

      Since Vietnam–with the shameful, degrading brutality involved in the Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti and other “police actions”–and signally since the Iraq/Kuwait Turkey Shoot, the old, abused term has lost any solid relation to its original meaning and is pathetically applied to any violent rape by the American War Machine of any putative “enemy”, regardless of the incommensurate forces involved, often when the victim–not even a legitimate adversary–has no capacity at all to strike back or defend itself.

      This suits the psychopaths who govern us perfectly, which is no surprise considering what they are. The system of War Capitalism that owns their contemptible, diseased souls can only burgeon and grow fatter by extortion of literally uncountable sums of our money, every dollar diverted from any beneficent use in our society or the least social profit for our people.

      Schumpeter said it best and it can’t be too often repeated: “Created by the wars that required it, The Machine now creates the wars it requires.”

      The tragedy–no surprise, either–is that the American people are so deeply steeped in the pretty poison of Exceptionalism that they are, if not overtly, then tacitly, fully behind the mindless military vandalizing and brutalization of people just like them in all essentials: powerless, no better and no worse.

    • Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump

      Donald Trump and his “war cabinet” have struck again. In the wake of record defense spending; the creation of a Space Force that would violate the Outer Space Treaty agreed to fifty years ago; the abrogation of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty from thirty years ago; and the chaos of random decision making for use of force, the Trump administration is returning to the madness of President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” idea with costly and ineffective ideas regarding missile-defense technologies.

      Trump’s Pentagon is reviving ideas that were abandoned after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, including weapons that can shoot down missiles from space and high energy lasers that can destroy missiles shortly after they are launched, the so-called boost phase. Trump plans to go further than Reagan by deploying missile defense in Europe and Asia to protect U.S. forces and regional allies. Congress was skeptical of Reagan’s “Star Wars” in the 1980s, but the current Congress has been unwilling to challenge the outrageous national security policies of the Trump administration.

      Unlike Reagan’s “Star Wars,” which was designed to protect against a strategic attack from Russia or China, Trump’s version is oriented to stopping an attack from so-called rogue nations such as Iran or North Korea. According to the Washington Post, the United States would put high-powered lasers on drones flying off the Korean coast and create a third ground-based missile interceptor site in the United States to defend against Iran. The North Korean and Iranian scenarios are quite fanciful, but then again the exaggeration of the threat from the Soviet Union and China in the 1980s was equally far-fetched.

    • The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?

      Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has joined with the chorus of Western countries supporting Canada’s protestations against the “arbitrary,” and “politically motivated” death sentence imposed by a Chinese court on Canadian drug smuggler Robert Schellenberg.

      Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland praised Pompeo’s “recognition of the principle that we are speaking about.” She argues that the application of the death sentence to a Canadian national in this case is “inhumane”, and represents a, “way of behaving which is a threat to all countries.”

      Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, echoed Freeland’s cry of victory for having won US support. “I hope they continue to back Canada in this particular dispute,” MacNaughton said.

    • “Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency

      As Trump projects his Imperial power in the direction of our southern border, demanding to reinforce its security by building a wall, the real threat to America’s safety – weather terrorism (Bruno Latour’s term for the biospheric backlash aimed at the vast hubris of humanity) – goes unheeded. Trump’s posturing with regard to establishing a national emergency to facilitate wall building, obscures a genuine emergency in just one more case of the Fake eclipsing the Real.

      The president is supported in this passive, climate change denialism by the misdirection of the mainstream (and much of the alternative) press, which expends an immense amount of journalistic energy impugning him. We know he’s an intensely solipsistic president who uses political issues sociopathically – for their sole value in aggrandizing his sense of self-worth. Can we move on? That logorrheic energy might better be used in raising the issue of weather terrorism to a scare factor in excess of his bogus issue of illegal immigration. Ironically, south of the border emigration is itself a climate change phenomenon. Most of those making up the migrant caravans originate in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, countries whose lands are devastated by drought, giving their farming families little choice but to seek a life elsewhere.

      Violent acts of extreme weather come and go with virtually no political will to prepare for them or mitigate their consequences. Existential crises, it seems, must be matched with the pre-existing Imperial-Fossil-Capital agenda to warrant a meaningful response. Rising sea levels, global warming exacerbated hurricanes, storm surges, floods, drought and wildfire are the real dangers at our borders, along 12,383 miles of coastline, in our cities, on our islands and farmlands, in our wilderness and hinterlands. Yet they elicit little in the way of a concerted public outrage at the failure of a supine federal government to make efforts to protect against them.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • US subpoenas Ecuadorians over alleged Manafort Assange visit

      Six diplomatic staff at the Ecuador embassy in London have been issued subpoenas by the US Department of Justice, which wants to question them in the wake of a story published by The Guardian claiming that former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, visited WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.
      In a statement, WikiLeaks said the questioning was scheduled for 18 January US time (which would be approximately 19 January Australian time), adding that it had been made in 7 January.

      It said the request had been made to the Ecuadorian authorities who had approved it, despite it being “highly unusual to permit foreign interrogations of former diplomatic officials over their diplomatic work, or to provide foreign investigators information about those who have been afforded political asylum in relation to them”.

    • Hacker behind ‘Football Leaks’ arrested in Hungary

      Since 2015, the Football Leaks website operated a-la WikiLeaks, publishing secret documents that it claimed it obtained from anonymous sources. The site, a mere blog, made the documents available for everyone, but also to teams of investigative journalists across Europe.

      The documents helped reveal the football world’s shady inter-club player transfers that included shell companies and a slew of intermediaries that siphoned off huge bonuses from each player transaction.

    • US officials to ask Ecuador embassy staff about Assange visitors

      US investigators will on Friday begin to question diplomatic staff who were stationed at the Ecuadorian embassy in London during WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s years-long stay about his visitors, according to the whistleblower group.

      It follows international subpoenas from the US Department of Justice, which is probing a report that President Donald Trump’s disgraced former 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort held secret talks there with Assange, Wikileaks said.

      The Justice Department, which declined to comment on the matter, wants to talk to six staff members from the embassy and will start to interview them in the Ecuadorian capital Quito on Friday, it added.

      Britain’s The Guardian newspaper claimed in November that Manafort — who was convicted of multiple charges including bank fraud and money laundering in two separate cases last year — met Assange on several occasions from 2013 to 2016.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Scientists Call for ‘Global Agricultural Revolution’ and ‘Planetary Health Diet’ to Save Lives—and Earth

      The commission brought together 37 experts in agriculture, environmental sustainability, human health, and political science from 16 countries. Over three years, they developed the “planetary health diet,” which aims to address the global food system’s devastating environmental impact as well as mass malnutrition.

      Noting that more than 800 million people worldwide “have insufficient food, while many more consume an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death and disease,” co-lead commissioner Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University said the “world’s diets must change dramatically” to reverse the damage that’s been done.

      “To be healthy,” he explained, “diets must have an appropriate calorie intake and consist of a variety of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal-based foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and few refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugars.”

    • The Fox in Charge of the Henhouse: Activists Decry Trump’s EPA Pick, Coal Lobbyist Andrew Wheeler

      Senate confirmation hearings began Wednesday for former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, whom President Trump has nominated to become administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler has been the acting head of the EPA since Scott Pruitt resigned in July amid an onslaught of financial and ethics scandals. We speak with Heather McTeer Toney, national field director for Moms Clean Air Force and former Southeast regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration. We also speak with Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

    • New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice

      Another country has banned the cruel practice of ritual slaughter––kosher slaughter, sanctioned by Jewish law and halal slaughter, sanctioned by Islamic law. In both practices, cattle, sheep, goats and poultry have their throats cut while they are fully conscious and capable of experiencing great fear and pain.

      Starting in 2019, Belgium will no longer grant exemptions from humane slaughter laws (that require an animal be stunned before it is killed) for ritual slaughter, joining Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Slovenia which also outlaw the practice.

      Other European countries are considering tightened slaughter laws. The Netherlands, for example, has considered a law that states that no more animals can be killed for kosher and halal meat than “necessary to meet the actual need of the religious communities present in the Netherlands” and that if an animal is not “insensitive to pain” within 40 seconds of slaughter, it must be put out of its misery and shot.

    • Battery boom aids climate change battle

      Billions of dollars are being invested worldwide in the developing battery boom, involving research into storage techniques to use the growing surpluses of cheap renewable energy now becoming available.

      Recent developments in batteries are set to sweep aside the old arguments about renewables being intermittent, dismissing any need to continue building nuclear power plants and burning fossil fuels to act as a back-up when the wind does not blow, or the sun does not shine.

      Batteries as large as the average family house and controlled by digital technology are being positioned across electricity networks. They are being charged when electricity is in surplus and therefore cheap, and the power they store is resold to the grid at a higher price during peak periods.

    • Haiti by the Numbers

      Years since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti: 9

      Estimated number of aftershocks that measured 4.5 or greater: 59

      Number of people who died in the earthquake, according to Haitian government: 316,000

      Number of people displaced: 1,300,000

      Number of people who remained in internally displaced persons camps, as of September 2017: 37,867

      Estimated population of Canaan, a barren hillside north of the capital, pre-earthquake: 0

      Estimated population of Canaan now: 300,000

      Minimum number of new homes necessary to meet demand: 500,000

  • Finance
    • Backing Teachers, Sanders Says LA Strike Exposes National Need for ‘Revolution in Public Education’

      Tens of thousands of public school teachers and support staff with the Los Angeles Unified School District—the second-largest district in the country—continued the city’s first strike in three decades on Thursday.

      The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) kicked off the long-promised strike on Monday over unmet demands for higher payer; smaller class sizes; more special education staff, bilingual education instructors, nurses, counselors, and librarians; and stricter regulation of the city’s many charter schools.

    • The L.A. Teachers’ Strike Is About So Much More Than Wages

      Los Angeles public school teachers began a historic strike on Monday, for the first time in 30 years. Members of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) walked out of contract negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that had dragged on for nearly two years. The specific battle is being fought over LAUSD’s refusal to tap into its record $1.86 billion reserve in order to reduce class sizes, hire more support staff, including counselors and nurses, improve infrastructure and more. But more broadly speaking, the L.A. teachers’ fight is symbolic of a bigger struggle to maintain and expand quality public education for all Americans and to secure the rights that the critical stakeholders—teachers, students, parents—have within that system.

      The L.A. teachers’ strike comes after several high-profile fights last spring in states like West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, where educators tired of poverty-level wages fought for raises and won. But the L.A. strike is broader than those others, not just in terms of the sheer size of the district and the union, but in the demands the union is making. Although LAUSD has offered a 6 percent raise over two years (not nearly enough of what teachers deserve), teachers want an overall better experience for their 600,000 overwhelmingly nonwhite students. They want more nurses and counselors, smaller class sizes and a halt to the expansion of charter schools.

    • LA Teachers Strike: Black Smoke Pouring Out of LAUSD Headquarters

      LAUSD has taken over $100 million in revenue losses in the first four days of the strike, since the district is paid for each student who attends and few are attending. At my high school, for example, attendance Thursday was down to 128 students–a mere 6% of the total student body. As in several previous days, we had almost half as many students on our picketline as were in school.

    • WaPo Misses the Story: Either Scott Walker Doesn’t Understand Taxes or He Lies to Fifth Graders

      Ocasio-Cortez is right on this point and Walker is wrong. He either does not understand how our income tax system works, or is deliberately lying to advance his agenda. Either way, the Post should have pointed out that Walker was wrong.

      Many people are confused about the concept of a marginal tax rate. (The higher tax rate only applies to the income above a cutoff.) Opponents of high marginal taxes on the rich try to take advantage of this confusion in the way Scott Walker did with his class of fifth graders. It is the media’s responsibility to try to inform people about how the tax system works and to expose politicians who misrepresent the issue.

    • Bitcoin Interview: Edge Wallet’s Paul Puey on the Future of Money

      CCN had a chance to speak with Paul Puey, founder of Edge Wallet and veteran crypto entrepreneur. Edge Wallet was previously called Airbitz. In the early days of crypto, Airbitz was a Bitcoin-only wallet that featured a directory of brick and mortar businesses which accepted Bitcoin. It was one of the only mobile wallets which allowed the user to own their private keys without having to see them.

      While it was very popular as Bitcoin wallets go, the era of Ethereum and beyond made it necessary to adapt to people who expect to be able to use more than one cryptocurrency.

    • An Education in Fraud

      Most investors couldn’t have seen it coming, but those in the business were thrilled. The day after The Trump was given the keys to the best playroom he’d ever had, the stock in Strayer Education, Inc., the company that owns the for-profit Strayer University, jumped almost 20%. Stock in other for profit universities enjoyed a similar increase. Investors were prescient. Betsy DeVos was named Secretary of Education.

      A fan of school choice, charter schools, and a major supporter of the Republican party, Betsy was a great choice for the position, even though she had no experience in the realm of education, other than her passionate support for the reportedly less than successful charter schools in Michigan.

      After Betsy was confirmed by the Senate, she made up for her own lack of knowledge about the world of education by hiring people who had been closely identified with the for-profit college business. Among them was Julian Schmoke, who was placed in charge of the unit that investigates fraud in higher education. From 2008 to 2012 Mr. Schmoke was associate dean of the College of Engineering and Information Sciences at DeVry University. That university engaged in assorted fraudulent activities, for which it paid more than $1 million in fines and penalties.

      Another Betsy hire was Robert Eitel who, prior to joining the Department, had been at Bridgepoint Education. That institution was fined $30 million on account of deceptive student lending practices.

      According to a report by the Associated Press, Betsy took steps designed to improve the lives of the for-profit colleges, while making it more difficult for defrauded students to be made whole. As she explained, if a former student borrows money from the government to attend a for-profit college that defrauds the student, and the debt is forgiven or reduced, the cost of the forgiveness lands on the backs of the taxpayer. The defrauded students should, she believes, share in bearing some of the pain of having been defrauded. It should not all land on the backs of the taxpayers since they were not the ones defrauded. Happily for students, Betsy did not have the last word.

    • A Question of Loyalty

      When asked in an interview during the last Indyref where his loyalty would lie if Independence won, then Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael replied without hesitation that of course he was a Scot and he would be loyal to Scotland. Where, I wonder, would Fluffy Mundell’s loyalties lie? The border is a short hop for him. Colonel Ruthie Davison has always had her eyes on high office at Westminster, and I expect she would be quickly down the A1. As for Labour, I don’t suppose anyone in England especially wants Richard Leonard. To be fair, I suspect Gordon Brown is not going anywhere and would reconcile himself to being the Scot who, in his own mind, saved the World. Wouldn’t it be lovely if J K Rowling upped sticks and went to be closer to her beloved Tony Blair?

      With Scotland in the EU and England outside, would Andrew Neil be allowed to “queue jump” and stay as a top Tory at the England and Wales Broadcasting Corporation? Or would he fall victim to a hostile environment? Surely the mighty Laura Kuenssberg would demand a larger field for her snide right wing jibes than her home country?

    • Facebook Employees Think They Are Robbing Unsuspecting Children & Parents

      Every year several unsuspecting children end up spending hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars from their parent’s credit cards while playing online games on Facebook. Now, the company’s internal documents have revealed that even Facebook’s own employees believe the company is inappropriately making money off such children and their parents.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Steve King Isn’t the Only Elected Official Pursuing a White Supremacist Vision for America

      itch McConnell says racism has no place in the Republican Party. The evidence, however, demonstrates that’s not true.
      Last week, U.S. Rep. Steve King, Republican from Iowa, posed a question to a New York Times reporter that laid bare his racist ideology: “White nationalist, white supremacist, western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” He didn’t stop there. In the same interview, he expressed resentment toward the record-breaking gender and racial diversity of the 116th Congress: “You could look over there and think the Democratic Party is no country for white men.”

      His words were not taken out of context, as he now argues. Nor is such racism new for him. During the Republican National Convention in 2016, King responded to a critique about older white men dominating the Republican Party by questioning the contributions that people of color have made to civilization. “I’d ask you to go back through history, and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about – where did any other sub group of people contribute more to civilization?” he said on an MSNBC panel.

      “Than white people?” host Chris Hayes asked.

      “Than western civilization itself that is rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world,” King replied. He was clear about his beliefs then and now.

      I won’t waste space rebutting his ignorance by describing the incredible advances and discoveries made by people from African, Asian, and other cultures that were not white or Christian. These facts would not make a difference to King, who has chosen the path of deliberate ignorance. But he cannot use his ignorance to hide who he is.

    • ‘Terrible News’ for GOP as Survey Shows Generation Z Shaping Up To Be Most Progressive Ever

      From their strong belief that humanity played a central role in causing the climate crisis to their overwhelming dislike of President Donald Trump, the young Americans who have been classified as Generation Z—comprised of those between the ages of 13 and 21—could be even more progressive than the slightly older millennial generation, according to a Pew Research Center survey published Thursday.

      “Gen Z looks a lot like millennials politically, which is terrible news for Republicans,” Acadia University lecturer Jeffrey Sachs wrote in response to Pew’s survey, which found that 70 percent of Gen Zers disapprove of Trump, 54 percent believe the planet is warming because of human activity, and 70 percent believe the government should be doing more to solve the nation’s problems.

      “This data suggests there is a reason why Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets so much heat from conservatives—she and this new congressional class not only represent the demographic changes that scare some, but she embodies the ideological trends, too,” argued Anthony Michael Kreis, visiting assistant professor of law at Chicago-Kent College.

    • ‘We Have Monsters Leading America’: Trump’s DHS Locked Up More Children Than Previously Known

      Confirming the fears of human rights groups, the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported on Thursday that thousands more children were separated from their parents at the southern U.S. border by the Trump administration, long before it first publicly unveiled the family separation policy last spring.

      “The total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is unknown,” reads the report, and the inspector general found that children were separated over a longer period of time as officials “observed a steep increase in the number of children who had been separated from a parent or guardian” by the Department of Homeland Security starting in July 2017—nearly a year before the administration officially announced its family separation policy in May 2018.

    • Trump Administration Likely Split Up Thousands More Migrant Families

      It seems likely that thousands more migrant children were split from their families than the Trump administration has acknowledged, in part because officials were stepping up family separations long before the border policy that prompted international outrage last spring, a government watchdog said Thursday.

      It’s unclear just how many family separations occurred at the U.S.-Mexico border. Health and Human Services, the agency tasked with caring for migrant children, did not adequately track them until after a judge ruled that children must be reunited with their families, according to the report by the agency’s inspector general.

      Ann Maxwell, assistant inspector general for evaluations, said the number of children removed from their parents was certainly larger than the 2,737 listed by the government in court documents. Those documents chronicled separations that took place as parents were criminally prosecuted for illegally entering the country under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.

    • Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers

      “Over the past three decades,” reported Steve Reilly in a June 2016 USA Today article, Donald Trump “has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits.” Many of these lawsuits, Reilly notes, “involve ordinary Americans…who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.” Dishwashers, plumbers, bartenders, painters, waiters, real estate brokers, lawyers–this broad swath of workers Trump routinely relied on to build his wealth, and yet he didn’t see fit (it is alleged) to compensate them for the work that they had done. Trump, it seems, thought he was entitled to their unpaid labor.

      But that’s not all.

      “Trump’s companies,” Reilly continues, “have also been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage.”

      While, admittedly, all of this is old news, Donald Trump’s anti-labor practices are actually instructive regarding the current #TrumpShutDown. Like his refusal to pay his former employees, for example, Trump’s shutdown is his willingness to sacrifice working women and men for his own personal gain. The shutdown also expresses his sense of entitlement–to which the lawsuits attest–to the unpaid labor of others, as well as his disregard for the fact that the workers upon whom he relies need to pay their rent, their gas and electric bills, their water bills, their student loan debts–even their transportation to the local food bank. And like his treatment of his former employees, Trump’s shutdown reveals an inability on his part to “relate” to any workers struggling to make ends meet.

    • ‘Our Nation’s Capital Has Officially Become a Playground’: Trump Sends ‘Childish’ Letter Canceling Pelosi’s Overseas Trip

      A day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for the delay of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address due to security concerns caused by the government shutdown, Trump responded on Thursday with a letter of his own informing Pelosi that he has “postponed” her planned congressional delegation trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan.

      “Our nation’s capital has officially become a playground,” declared CNN reporter Jim Acosta as he detailed the “childish” contents of the president’s letter in a television appearance shortly after it was made public.

    • Ocasio-Cortez Is on the Financial Committee, and Banks Are Afraid

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s assignment to the powerful House Financial Services Committee has triggered a fresh round of handwringing, this time with some merit. Banks are afraid of her — and they should be. The addition of Ocasio-Cortez, an outspoken advocate for financial reform, to the committee represents one of the greatest challenges to big banks’ interests since the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Though she joins other strong voices like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, on the committee, Ocasio-Cortez will give a voice to her generation, which came of age in the financial crisis.

      Now under the leadership of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), the Financial Services Committee is considered one of the House’s most active committees and wields great influence. The committee is described as a “magnet for campaign contributions,” and its members hold tight relationships with the industries they are tasked with overseeing. Public disclosures show that the financial, insurance and real estate sectors spend at least twice as much on campaign contributions to the committee’s members as any other sector. Both Rep. Sinema (D-Arizona) and Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) received over $1 million in contributions from Securities and Investment donors in the last congressional cycle.

      By contrast, Ocasio-Cortez will join the committee as an independent, unbought politician. She boasted the largest number of small donors of any 2018 midterm candidate, with nearly 62 percent of her war chest coming from small donations. She’s built her brand and reputation on standing for working-class interests and, along with some other prominent Democratic candidates, has publicly eschewed big donors and corporate money.

    • Protesting Outside GOP’s ‘Lavish Retreat,’ Federal Workers Demand End to Shutdown Amid Growing Calls for Strike

      Amid growing calls for federal workers to walk off the job in protest as President Donald Trump continues to hold their paychecks hostage and downplay their financial hardship, government employees rallied outside of the Washington Nationals’ ballpark in the frigid D.C. weather on Thursday to demand an end to the government shutdown as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his fellow Republicans held a “retreat” inside the stadium.

      “Clearly McConnell thinks his lavish retreat is more important than 800,000 families,” declared the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), one of several unions that took part in the demonstration.

      Facing severe economic pain from the shutdown—which is now the longest in U.S. history—the workers called on McConnell to immediately allow a vote on House-passed legislation that would reopen the government and put an end to the pervasive financial anxiety and safety risked posed by the lapse in federal funding.

      “It’s past time for McConnell to call the vote instead of partying with his colleagues at Nationals stadium,” the AFL-CIO wrote on Twitter.

    • 10 Things We All Lose If Bernie Chooses Not to Run in 2020

      But perhaps the threshold question is what if he does not run? What policy issues would be off the table? What demands for transformation would be watered down? The answer is that most progressive initiatives Sanders and his supporters have championed will never see the light of day.

      Many of us have waited a lifetime for a leader with so deep a commitment to fundamental change to come along and galvanize our existing movements. While there will be a large and diverse field of candidates, the opportunity to elect someone who has dedicated his life to economic and social justice also gives us the chance to bring forth a more perfect union – one genuinely of the people, by the people, and for the people.

      Without Bernie in 2020, what follows is just a partial catalog of what disappears or is seriously compromised.

    • Facebook finds and kills another 512 Kremlin-linked fake accounts

      Two years on from the U.S. presidential election, Facebook continues to have a major problem with Russian disinformation being megaphoned via its social tools.

      In a blog post today the company reveals another tranche of Kremlin-linked fake activity — saying it’s removed a total of 471 Facebook pages and accounts, as well as 41 Instagram accounts, which were being used to spread propaganda in regions where Putin’s regime has sharp geopolitical interests.

      In its latest reveal of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” — aka the euphemism Facebook uses for disinformation campaigns that rely on its tools to generate a veneer of authenticity and plausibility in order to pump out masses of sharable political propaganda — the company says it identified two operations, both originating in Russia, and both using similar tactics without any apparent direct links between the two networks.

    • President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”

      It is possible that President Donald Trump never suspected this, but among his many yet never-acknowledged talents is that of being a novelist. A novelist in the Latin American tradition of magic or “magical realism.”

      Magical realism is a style of fiction writing that combines a realistic view of the modern world while also adding some magical elements. Writer and literature professor Matthew Strecher defined magical realism as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.”

      Magical realism has been often associated with Latin American authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende. Now President Donald Trump has joined the rank of these illustrious authors. His assertion that there is a serious national crisis at the U.S.’s southern border with Mexico seems to challenge reality, making it too strange to believe.

      According to official data, the number of people caught trying to cross the southern border peaked at 1.6 million in 2006 and have been in decline since then. According to the Customs and Border Protection, there were 303,916 apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border for fiscal 2017, the lowest in more than 45 years.

      In magical realism, writers reveal the magical element in the real world and the supernatural blends smoothly with the familiar world. This was notably done by Gabriel García Márquez in his seminal work, One Hundred Years of Solitude. When President Trump says that he has already started building the wall in the border with Mexico he is bending reality. So far, Congress has only appropriated money for bollard fencing, replacement fencing, or secondary fencing. What started in California is bollard fencing that had already been planned in 2009.

    • Russia’s federal censor says Facebook and Twitter have responded to data-localization demands

      Last month, Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, sent formal letters to Facebook and Twitter, demanding that the social networks report on their compliance with Russian regulations requiring companies to store Russian users’ data on servers located inside Russia. If they refused, both companies faced small fines of 5,000 rubles ($75), though Roskomnadzor was careful to point out that it has no current plans to block the social-media giants.

      On January 18, the agency announced that it has received answers from both Facebook and Twitter. The agency says it is currently reviewing the information and will issue a statement on January 21.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Twitter Bug Exposed Android Users’ Private Tweets For 5 Years

      Twitter users who tweet from their Android devices should review their settings now — especially if they have tweeted at any time between 2014 and 2019. Apparently, a bug has been plaguing Twitter since 2014 which exposed the tweets of some Android users that were supposed to be private.

    • New GitHub authorization expands agency access to open source resources

      Government IT offices now have access to a vast range of open source software resources and developers since GitHub gained FedRAMP operating authority for its Enterprise Cloud, according to a new special report.

    • NY Court Tells NYPD It Can’t Hide Surveillance Of Protesters Behind A Glomar Response

      Another lawsuit over the NYPD’s surveillance of First Amendment-protected activities continues. Records requests by Black Lives Matter offshoot Millions March detailing surveillance methods used by the NYPD against protesters have been met with the usual opacity by the PD. It has done what it always does in cases like these: throw FOIL exemptions around and stonewall the hell out the request. The PD has also added a few Glomar responses to the mix, refusing to confirm or deny the existence of sought records.

      Fortunately, the judge presiding over the case — Arlene Bluth — isn’t in a charitable mood. Greeted with the NYPD’s incessant opacity, the judge has called bullshit — repeatedly — over the course of a 14-page ruling [PDF]. The plaintiffs are seeking records related to the NYPD’s use of surveillance tech targeting cellphones. It is well known the NYPD owns and has access to Stingray devices. What these records would show is the use of Stingrays in an untargeted manner — either to gather cellphone identifiers indiscriminately or simply to disrupt phone service during protests by funneling all phones in the area into the NYPD’s cell tower spoofer.

    • Decipher Podcast: Nate Cardozo

      Dennis Fisher talks with Nate Cardozo, senior information security counsel at the EFF, about a proposal from the UK’s spy agency, GCHQ, that would insert a backdoor into encrypted communications by adding a “ghost”, or invisible third party, to two-party conversations.

    • How The GDPR Is Still Ruining Christmas

      Late last year, I wrote about how the GDPR almost ruined Christmas in one German town, where it was determined that the annual tradition of kids putting their wishes on a tree in the center of town (to be fulfilled by local town officials) would violate the GDPR. Some people did figure out a “workaround” involving some pointless bureaucracy in getting parents to first sign “consent” forms to allow the town to do the same thing they’ve always done for years without a problem.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Attorney General Nominee Seems Willing To Let The DOJ Jail Journalists Over Published Leaks

      Jeff Sessions did everything the president wanted him to do: roll back civil rights investigations, get tough on immigration, amp up the War on Drugs, blame everyone but law enforcement for spikes in crime. It didn’t matter. The president shitcanned Sessions because he recused himself from the DOJ’s investigation of Trump’s Russia-related activities.

      His replacement, William Barr, is undergoing the formality of a confirmation hearing. It’s assumed there’s no way he can blow it. But he’s trying.

      Barr would be no improvement over the departed Sessions. Barr thinks marijuana should be illegal everywhere. He’s a fan of expanding executive power. As attorney general under George Bush Sr., he ordered phone companies to comply with DEA demands for millions of call records originating in the United States, laying the groundwork for the NSA’s Section 215 collections.

      He also doesn’t seem to care much for the First Amendment. As attorney general, he pushed for a Constitutional amendment banning the burning of American flags in the wake of a Supreme Court decision offering First Amendment protection for this form of expression.

      Thirty years later, Barr seems just as reluctant to respect the First Amendment. During the confirmation hearing, Sen. Amy Klobuchar lobbed what should have been a softball to the AG nominee. Moving on from the appalling murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by members of the Saudi government, Klobuchar asked if the Justice Department would jail journalists for doing their jobs.

    • Rochester Could Break Through the Thin Blue Line Protecting Abusive Police

      How the city could create New York’s first independent review board with the power to discipline officers.
      We know what happens when we allow police to police themselves. Too often, they escape punishment when they abuse the people they are supposed to protect. A lack of meaningful police accountability not only skirts justice, but people’s lives are in danger when officers who repeatedly harm civilians keep their jobs.

      The Rochester City Council in New York introduced a draft bill this week that addresses this fundamental problem. The bill would create a civilian-controlled Police Accountability Board with the power to investigate complaints from residents and to discipline officers who the board determines have abused people. Rochester would be the first municipality in New York State — and one of just a handful in the country — with a civilian board that has the power to discipline officers.

      Most civilian review boards only have the power to make recommendations for what consequences officers should face, with final disciplinary decisions usually left up to the chief of police. Rochester already has a civilian review board, but that board lacks the authority to conduct its own investigations or to impose punishments. This bill would change that.

      The Rochester bill is part of a national trend towards creating independent mechanisms for oversight and accountability of police. This trend encompasses calls for the appointment of special prosecutors to investigate police killings, inspector generals to oversee police policies, and even legislation that takes decisions about acquiring surveillance tools out of the hands of police departments.

    • Sex trainers Nastya Rybka and Alex Leslie allegedly arrested in Moscow airport

      The Bell reports that Anastasia Vashukevich, a model and sex trainer who goes by the name Nastya Rybka, and her colleague Alexander Kirillov, better known as Alex Leslie, have been arrested in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. They and their travel companions had been deported to Russia from Thailand. While other sources have not yet confirmed The Bell’s report, the outlet has been in contact with the pair’s friends and relatives.

    • Russia’s Federal Protective Service wants to hide its procurement deals from prying eyes

      Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO) has drafted legislation that would grant it secrecy privileges awarded to the Defense Ministry and Federal Security Service, allowing the agency to classify its procurement contracts. If the law is adopted, the FSO could conduct these deals on closed electronic platforms, according to Vedomosti.

      A source in Russia’s intelligence community told the newspaper that federal officials believe current transparency levels could leak information about the technical equipment used to secure government communications. The deputy director of Transparency International Russia, however, warns that this could open the door to even more corruption.

    • Native American Communities Bear Brunt of Shutdown with Medicine Shortages & Suspended Food Programs

      We look at the widespread impact of the government shutdown on Native American communities, as the Indian Health Service goes understaffed and a federally funded food delivery program to Indian reservations has halted. Democratic members of Congress held a hearing Tuesday on the effects of the shutdown on health, education and employment in Native communities. We speak with Mark Trahant, editor of Indian Country Today and member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

    • Russian police arrest two more human rights activists on suspicious drug charges

      A year after the suspicious arrest of Chechen human rights advocate Oyub Titiev, two activists connected to Alexey Navalny and Mikhail Khodorkovsky have been arrested in the city of Pskov, MBK Media reports. Leah Milushkina and her husband, Artyom Milushkin, have been charged with selling drugs in large quantities, their attorney Tatyana Martynova told MBK. Mediazona reports that Milushkina is the local coordinator of Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia movement in Pskov while Milushkin works in Navalny’s local headquarters.

    • Judge Acquits 3 Chicago Officers of Laquan McDonald Cover-Up

      A judge on Thursday acquitted three Chicago officers of trying to cover up the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald, dismissing as just one perspective the shocking dashcam video of the black teenager’s death that led to protests, a federal investigation of the police department and the rare murder conviction of an officer.

      In casting off the prosecution’s entire case, Judge Domenica Stephenson seemed to accept many of the same defense arguments that were rejected in October by jurors who convicted officer Jason Van Dyke of second-degree murder and aggravated battery. He is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

      The judge said the video showed only one viewpoint of the confrontation and that there was no indication the officers tried to hide evidence.


      In her ruling, the judge rejected prosecution arguments that the video demonstrated officers were lying when they described McDonald as moving and posing a threat even after he was shot.

      “An officer could have reasonably believed an attack was imminent,” she said. “It was borne out in the video that McDonald continued to move after he fell to the ground” and refused to relinquish a knife.

      The video appeared to show the teen collapsing in a heap after the first few shots and moving in large part because bullets kept striking his body for 10 more seconds.

    • Judge Acquits Cops in Laquan McDonald Cover-Up Trial

      When Police Officer Jason Van Dyke let loose a hail of gunfire on 17-year-old McDonald, murdering him in October of 2014, the police code of silence quickly sprang into action. Van Dyke’s partner, officers on the scene, investigating detectives, and their superior officers all collaborated to manufacture, record and promote a false story: that Van Dyke shot McDonald in an act of justified self-defense.

      Meanwhile, a video that revealed the lie behind the police’s cover story was kept secret by high-ranking city and county officials, including then Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, for more than a year — until it was released by a Cook County judge in November 2015 in the wake of the publication of an autopsy report that showed that McDonald had been shot 16 times.

      The reaction was seismic: Outraged people took to the streets, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired, Mayor Rahm Emanuel publicly admitted that there was a police code of silence and Alvarez was defeated at the polls. Later, the Mayor’s Police Accountability Review Commission and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division each issued scathing condemnations of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) racist policies and practices.

      To top things off, Emmanuel recently announced he will not seek another term.

    • Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General

      Many Senate Democrats are throwing in the towel on the nomination of William Barr for Trump’s Attorney General (a prospect assured by Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, declaring his personal vote against Barr). Let’s ask why?

      One would think that Senate Democrats would be appalled at Barr’s long-time unyielding conduct and writings asserting that the President can start any wars he wants even if Congress votes against it! An example of this is the constitutionally undeclared criminal invasion of Iraq by George W. Bush. Barr was also George H.W. Bush’s Attorney General and has been a long-time defender of executive branch lawlessness.

      One would think that Barr’s insupportable drive for more corporate prisons and more mass incarceration would upset these Senators.

      One would think that Barr’s view of the separation of powers, which has meant separating Congress from its constitutional powers and handing them over to the “unitary presidency,” would alarm these Senators. (Didn’t James Madison believe that Congress would jealously guard its authority vis-à-vis any new emergence of a modern King George III?)

      One would think that Barr’s inflexible position giving Presidents—including the embattled Donald Trump—effective immunities for obstructing justice and from blocking ongoing investigations, including limitless pardons even of himself and his family, would infuriate the Democrats.

    • Strike! Barbara Ehrenreich Calls on TSA Workers to Walk Off Job in Protest of Government Shutdown

      The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is now on Day 27. As 800,000 workers continue to go without pay, federal employees around the country are rising up to demand an end to the shutdown, which has run public institutions ragged and left hundreds of thousands financially strapped. We speak with Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the best-seller “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.” She is calling for TSA workers around the country to strike.

    • The ‘Shameful’ Answer to #WheresMitch? Not Ending Shutdown, But Voting on Extremist Anti-Choice Bill

      Freshman members of Congress and others who have been demanding to know the whereabouts of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in recent days got their answer on Thursday, as McConnell held a Senate vote not on whether to reopen the government, but on a bill that would restrict abortion rights for low-income women.

      The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (S.109) would have permanently restricted federal funds from going to abortion care, codifying the Hyde Amendment so the Senate doesn’t have to pass it—as it has since 1976—in annual appropriations bills. The legislation would have also banned abortion care in federally funded medical facilities and barred healthcare plans subsidized under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from covering abortions.

    • Center for American Progress, a Liberal Think Tank, Fires Two After Media Leaks

      Two staff members from The Center for American Progress (CAP), a leading Washington think tank, were fired amid concerns that they were involved in leaking internal emails to the media, The Intercept reported Wednesday. Other CAP staff, who spoke to The Intercept anonymously, believed these emails “reflected improper influence by the United Arab Emirates within the think tank.”

      The emails, which The Intercept says were not leaked by the fired employees, revealed that CAP staff members argued over how CAP should respond in a public statement to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and U.S. citizen who, according to a C.I.A. report, was killed on the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

      Initially, according to The Intercept, CAP’s public statement both condemned the killing and called for specific consequences for Saudi Arabia. Then, as The Intercept reports, “Brian Katulis, a Gulf expert at CAP, objected to the specific consequences proposed in an email exchange with other national security staffers.” Demands for Saudi Arabia to face specific consequences as a result of its role in Khashoggi’s killing were cut from the statement, replaced with a general, milder request to “take additional steps to reassess” U.S.-Saudi relations.

    • Russian activist faces police charges for posting video on Facebook that shows her civic movement’s logo

      Police in Krasnodar are pressing misdemeanor charges against Yana Antonova, a pediatric surgeon and the regional coordinator for the “Open Russia” protest movement, because she shared a video on Facebook showing an appeal to the State Duma asking for federal subsidies to build 10 new schools in the city. What was the problem with the video? It featured Open Russia’s logo.

      According to Radio Liberty, Antonova is being charged with “carrying out the activities of an undesirable organization” and faces a fine as high as 15,000 rubles ($225).

    • Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal

      Donald Trump comes under fire from the neoliberal establishment whenever he does something digestible. I am amazed the liberals are mad at him so often, considering 99.9% of the time he is doing something awful. Anytime Trump has a unique thought about the vicious imperialist structures, the crippling trade deals, or the draconian CIA, the neoliberal establishment loses their heads. Now Donald Trump, in spite of his nefarious history, is attempting to stop sex trafficking. This somehow is his greatest crime and “leftists”, “liberals” and “feminists” of all stripes are losing their heads.

      Donald Trump’s latest delinquency: The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act, which puts 430 million in federal funds towards preventing human trafficking. I wrote about Donald Trump’s denial of asylum to domestic violence victims here. .On the Douglass act, one has to be happy that this prevention attempt is getting some much-needed funding. Domestic violence shelters and other government resources are already hurting under the government shutdown and through Trump’s budget cuts in general. If Trump will fund anything, it’s the police. But with no other alternative in sight, and the Democrats surely to blow it again to Trump in 2020, the Douglass act will save some lives.

      Now there is opposition to the bill by all sorts of people. The first argument against: free speech and a tyrannical government. I always wonder what people’s worst-case scenarios are for the big government complaints. Is your theoretical (hopefully, theoretical) right to buy a prostitute really more important than someone’s right not to be bought by you? I mean is the government really going to inflict something worse than ownership of another human being? Trafficking is already a dire situation. Sorry, we shouldn’t consider buying another human being to be an expression of free speech. Maybe the First Amendment believed that, but that was written by slaveholders. We should believe that buying another human being is wrong and we should know that the United States is willing to support it precisely because our society was founded on such principles of freedom that relied on ownership of others.

    • A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment

      The first Saturday of 2019 didn’t start well for Rahaf al-Qanun, the Saudi teen, who wanted to make a dash for freedom in Australia via Thailand.

      The forces of “order” blocked her path in the Thai capital.

      On the second Saturday, January 12, she landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Ontario. Chrystia Freeland, the foreign minister of Canada, was among those who welcomed her to her new homeland.

      What catapulted this unknown Saudi teen into stardom is an incredible story of freedom and its glorious victory with the help of Twitter, journalists and ordinary people with smartphones all over the world.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Sudden Vacancies At Some International Agencies, Industry Sees New Top Officials, Lawyers Engage In Firm-Hopping

      While the World Bank Group and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are looking for new leaders following the unexpected resignations of their heads, the International Telecommunication Union re-elected its secretary general. The European Patent Office got two new vice-chairs, and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) a new president, both starting in January. Associations for the creative industry and the pharmaceutical industry also elected new top officials, and lawyers continued to practice firm-hopping.

    • Trademarks
      • Supermacs Beats McDonalds To Have ‘Big Mac’ Trademark Cancelled In Europe

        You may be surprised to find that a search of our story archives involving fast-food giant McDonald’s returns pretty scant posts here at Techdirt. Regardless, the company is known to be quite protective on trademark matters, often times using the trademarks it holds to swat at legitimate competition, pretending at potential public confusion that doesn’t really exist. Given the size of the company’s legal war chest, these bullying efforts are typically successful.

        But not always. One victim of this bullying was Supermacs, an Irish fast-food chain with an appropriately Irish name. Supermacs has for years wanted to expand throughout Europe, but was largely unable to due to McDonald’s claiming that its trademark registration for “Big Mac”, the name of its famous sandwich, meant that any attempt by Supermacs to expand into Europe would cause public confusion. This is typically where the story would end. Instead, Supermacs went on the offensive and decided to try to get McDonald’s “Big Mac” trademark cancelled entirely so that it could no longer be wielded as a bully-stick. And, much to this writer’s surprise, Supermacs won.

      • EUIPO cancels McDonald’s ‘BIG MAC’ trade mark due to lack of genuine use

        Can the word EU trade mark (EUTM) ‘BIG MAC’ owned by McDonald’s be revoked for non-use? The answer is ‘yes’.

        The EUIPO Cancellation Division provided it further to an application for revocation filed by Irish company Supermac (Cancellation No 14 788 C).

    • Copyrights
      • Latest EU Copyright Directive Still Demands Internet Companies Wave Magic Wands

        The whole thing remains an utter disaster that is moving forward even as no one is left who really seems to support it. The public doesn’t want this shit. The big entertainment companies are now asking for Article 13 to be set aside. The big internet companies have always been against it. And yet it rolls ever forward, with a bunch of clueless, technically illiterate bureaucrats basically saying “well, if we just say big companies should do this without allowing any negative consequences to happen, surely they can figure it out…” and tossing it over the fence.

        This is not how sane policy is made. This is how you fuck up the internet.

      • Activists Publish ‘An Illegal Book?’ to Defend Popcorn-Time News Site in Court

        A seized domain name of a website that provided information about the Popcorn Time software, has resulted in an intriguing legal battle. Several organizations, including Electronic Frontier Norway informed a local court that the seizure went too far. To prove their point, EFN published “An illegal book?” which consists of a printout of the site in question.

      • Copyright’s Safe Harbors Preserve What We Love About the Internet

        How is the Internet different from what came before? We’ve had great art, music, film, and writing for far longer than we’ve had the World Wide Web. What we didn’t have were global conversations and collaborations that millions can participate in. The Internet has lowered barriers to participation in culture, politics, and communities of interest. Copyright’s safe harbors for intermediaries are essential to making this possible. But today, those safe harbors are under threat from laws like Article 13 of the EU’s proposed Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive. And some voices in the U.S. want to gut the safe harbors here.

        In the U.S., the safe harbors of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protect Internet companies of various kinds against the possibility of massive copyright infringement damages when one of their users copies creative work illegally. In return for that protection, Internet companies have to take some concrete steps, like adopting and enforcing a repeat infringer policy. Some companies—the ones that store user-uploaded content—have to register an agent to accept and act on takedown notices from rightsholders (the familiar “DMCA notices”). The law is explicit that Internet companies aren’t required to surveil everything uploaded by users to find possible copyright infringement. It also provides a counter-notice process for users to get non-infringing uploads put back online.

        This system is far from perfect. At EFF, we spend a lot of time calling out abuses of the DMCA notice and takedown regime—abuses that the law makes far too easy. We’ve also fought to make the penalties for improper takedowns a meaningful deterrent. But for all our criticism of the existing safe harbor, it is vital to preserving many of the things we all love about the Internet—especially the ease of participation that it enables.

Links 17/1/2019: ZFS Debate Returns, AWS Pains Free Software

Thursday 17th of January 2019 05:31:00 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Elementary OS Challenge Day 1: Filling In The Audio App Gap

      So, elementary OS 5 ships with a perfectly serviceable Music app visually reminiscent of a stripped-down iTunes, but there are better alternatives inside the AppCenter.

      Melody by Artem Anufrij ($3 or pay what you want) doesn’t do everything under the sun, but what it does do works fast and works well.

      Melody feels modern without feeling bloated, and also offers a sorting option that I appreciate: the ability to view your music library by artist, and then chronologically by album. It also remembers the position of your currently playing track if you close and reopen the software.

    • Android-x86 8.1 Officially Released, Lets You Run Android 8.1 Oreo on Your PC

      The Android-x86 Project announced the general availability of the Android-x86 8.1-r1 stable release, a GNU/Linux distribution that lets you run Google’s Android mobile operating system on your PC.
      After entering development last year in June, the Android-x86 8.1 release, which is based on the latest Android 8.1 Oreo mobile operating system, saw two RC (Release Candidate) builds that allowed testers to try the upcoming OS on their PCs. Three months after the last RC build, the Android-x86 8.1 release is now finally stable and ready for mass adoption.

      Software rendering is also possible on unsupported GPU devices with OpenGL ES 2.0 support via SwiftShader, and Android-x86 8.1 also comes with support for hardware accelerated codecs on devices powered by Intel HD and Intel G45 graphics cards series. For newer Intel and AMD GPUs, this release adds experimental Vulkan support available via Advanced options on the boot menu.

    • The 15-minute Chromebook tune-up

      As far as computers go, Chromebooks are almost shockingly low-maintenance. Google’s Chrome OS operating system updates itself silently and automatically — as do most of the core apps associated with the platform — and it doesn’t get gunked up and slowed down over time, as traditional operating systems tend to do. There’s no antivirus software to fret over, either, and little in the way of complicated settings or compatibility concerns. By and large, things “just work” — like, for real.

    • Ten Years After – Part II – Opening Worlds

      “My college room mate my freshman year did me a big favor by introducing me to Virtual Box, so the few times I needed Windows software, I had the environment I needed to run it. But those times were few and far between. Of course it helped to have a room mate that used Linux too. I was actually surprised to find out how many students did use Linux and Chromebooks. I didn’t encounter a fraction of the problems you said I might run into”.

      However, Trella told me that during her graduate work, there were a couple of specific softwares she needed for chemistry, that required a bit more horsepower than a Virtual Box environment and five gigs of RAM. I’ve passed that software onto those who might be able to get the right people to look at it. But other than that, she did just fine with her Linux computer throughout her college career.

    • Chrome OS Linux apps to gain access to Android ‘Play files’ folder

      Chrome OS is rapidly becoming a serious player in the Linux field. Now, Google seems to be further integrating the Linux app support with the existing Android app support by allowing the Chrome OS Linux apps to access files from the separated ‘Play files’.

      To keep things naturally secure, among other reasons, Chrome OS keeps its native files, the ‘Play files’ used by Android apps, and the ‘Linux files’ available to Linux apps neatly separated. If you wish to work on something with an Android app then switch to working on it from a Linux app, you currently need to copy the file from one container to the other.

      Google’s Chromium team is working to allow users to break down that barrier, according to a work-in-progress commit posted last week to the Chromium Gerrit source code management. The goal of the work is to allow users to share contents of the ‘Play files’ folder with Linux apps, just as can currently be done with the Downloads folder.

    • What is a Google Chromebook?

      You’ve probably seen the term Chromebook mentioned on the internet, and you might be wondering what they are, and how they differ from regular laptops.

      In this guide we’ll explain what a Chromebook is, list the pros and cons of the devices, and help you decide whether or not a Chromebook is right for you.

      If you’re after in-depth buying advice on specific models, check out our Should I Buy a Chromebook? and Best Chromebook guides.

    • What’s your favorite desktop Linux distribution?

      So, for our annual poll, we pulled the top 15 distributions according to DistroWatch over the past 12 months. It’s not scientific—but it’s something to start with, and we had to cull it down somehow.

      Did your favorite distribution fall short of the cut-off point? Let us know what it is in the comments. And no matter what distro you choose, be sure to let us know why it’s your favorite. What’s so great that makes it your distribution of choice?

    • The Top 4 Ways Your Linux Computer Can Earn You Money

      Computers, whether they run Linux or not, as a rule, don’t tend to be cheap. However, what if I was to tell you that you can offset at least some of that cost by using the machine itself? Well, you can, and below you can find out exactly how to do this.

    • What Should We Expect from Linux in 2019?

      There are a lot more questions about what the open source community will do this year like would Ubuntu finally have stable support for fractional scaling? Will snap apps finally blend in perfectly with the UI of the distros they run on by default? Which distros will be the most innovative?

      Which features will you like to see any Linux distros and open source apps this year? Do you have any hints or inside information on the cool improvements to come? Tell us all about it below in the comments section.

  • Server
    • Leveraging OpenShift or Kubernetes for automated performance tests (part 3)

      This is the third of a series of three articles based on a session I held at EMEA Red Hat Tech Exchange. In the first article, I presented the rationale and approach for leveraging Red Hat OpenShift or Kubernetes for automated performance testing, and I gave an overview of the setup. In the second article, we looked at building an observability stack. In this third part, we will see how the execution of the performance tests can be automated and related metrics gathered.

    • Ansible vs. Puppet: Declarative DevOps tools square off

      DevOps aims to drive collaboration between development and operations teams, but software quality drives DevOps adoption more than any other factor. As this comparison of Ansible vs. Puppet shows, software quality dramatically influences DevOps tools.

      Software quality tends to be an organizational goal or a staff function, not the dominion of a dedicated group with broad responsibility to implement its decisions. Effective software quality efforts involve everyone from development to production users to ensure real value.

    • An Introduction to the Machine Learning Platform as a Service

      Machine-Learning-Platform-as-a-Service (ML PaaS) is one of the fastest growing services in the public cloud. It delivers efficient lifecycle management of machine learning models.

      At a high level, there are three phases involved in training and deploying a machine learning model. These phases remain the same from classic ML models to advanced models built using sophisticated neural network architecture.

    • SUSE Partners with Intel and SAP to Accelerate IT Transformation with Persistent Memory in the Data Center

      SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications is the FIRST enterprise Linux optimized for Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory with SAP HANA® workloads.

    • Puppet on DevOps: practitioners (not managers) are the new champions

      With a foundation in open source, Puppet is championing a world of what it calls ‘unconstrained software change’… presumably an even more intense version of Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD).

    • Architectural learning curve for the private cloud

      Just about everybody is familiar with Docker; about half as many know Kubernetes. But how about Istio? Docker and Kubernetes may be the foundation of your private cloud, but it turns out they might not be enough.

      Here are some very interesting and easily accessible numbers from Twitter: Docker has 304,000 followers and Kubernetes has 121,000. On the other hand, Helm, Istio and Prometheus Monitoring have fewer than 15,000 followers each.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Systemd 241 Paired With Linux 4.19+ To Enable New Regular File & FIFO Protection

      The Linux 4.19 kernel brought the ability to disallow the opening of FIFOs and regular files not owned by the user in world-writable sticky directories in the name of security. Had this ability been around previously it could have prevented a number of CVEs going back a long time. In helping ensure this functionality gets utilized, Systemd 241 will now set these sysctl options to enable the behavior by default.

      The restricted O_CREAT of FIFOs and regular files is not enforced by the kernel by default as it could be considered a breaking change but with systemd 241+ it sets the fs.protected_regular and fs.protected_fifos sysctls to enabled for having said functionality, similar to systemd’s enforcing of hardlink/symlink protection. This protection is for avoiding unintentional writes to an attacker-controlled FIFO or regular file. That Linux 4.19 kernel commit notes at least a handful of security vulnerabilities that could have been prevented by this functionality with those CVEs going back to at least the year 2000.

    • The rest of the 5.0 merge window

      Linus Torvalds released 5.0-rc1 on January 6, closing the merge window for this development cycle and confirming that the next release will indeed be called “5.0″. At that point, 10,843 non-merge change sets had been pulled into the mainline, about 2,100 since last week’s summary was written. Those 2,100 patches included a number of significant changes, though, including some new system-call semantics that may yet prove to create problems for existing user-space code.

    • A setback for fs-verity

      The fs-verity mechanism, created to protect files on Android devices from hostile modification by attackers, seemed to be on track for inclusion into the mainline kernel during the current merge window when the patch set was posted at the beginning of November. Indeed, it wasn’t until mid-December that some other developers started to raise objections. The resulting conversation has revealed a deep difference of opinion regarding what makes a good filesystem-related API and may have implications for how similar features are implemented in the future.
      The core idea behind fs-verity is the use of a Merkle tree to record a hash value associated with every block in a file. Whenever data from a protected file is read, the kernel first verifies the relevant block(s) against the hashes, and only allows the operation to proceed if there is a match. An attacker may find a way to change a critical file, but there is no way to change the Merkle tree after its creation, so any changes made would be immediately detected. In this way, it is hoped, Android systems can be protected against certain kinds of persistent malware attacks.

      There is no opposition to the idea of adding functionality to the kernel to detect hostile modifications to files. It turns out, though, there there is indeed some opposition to how this functionality has been implemented in the current patch set. See the above-linked article and this documentation patch for details of how fs-verity is meant to work. In short, user space is responsible for the creation of the Merkle tree, which must be surrounded by header structures and carefully placed at the beginning of a block after the end of the file data. An ioctl() call tells the kernel that fs-verity is to be invoked on the file; after that, the location of the end of the file (from a user-space point of view) is changed to hide the Merkle tree from user space, and the file itself becomes read-only.

    • Pressure stall monitors

      One of the useful features added during the 4.20 development cycle was the availability of pressure-stall information, which provides visibility into how resource-constrained the system is. Interest in using this information has spread beyond the data-center environment where it was first implemented, but it turns out that there some shortcomings in the current interface that affect other use cases. Suren Baghdasaryan has posted a patch set aimed at making pressure-stall information more useful for the Android use case — and, most likely, for many other use cases as well.

    • ZFS On Linux Landing Workaround For Linux 5.0 Kernel Support

      Last week I reported on ZFS On Linux breaking with Linux 5.0 due to some kernel symbols sought by this out-of-tree file-system driver no longer being exported and the upstream developers not willing to adjust for the ZoL code. That’s still the case but the ZFS On Linux developers have a patch so at least the file-system driver will be able to build on Linux 5.0.

      This ZOL + Linux 5.0 issue stems from a set of functions used by this ZFS Linux port for vectorized file-system checksums no longer being exported. The kernel developers don’t want to re-export the functionality since as Greg Kroah-Hartman put it, “my tolerance for ZFS is pretty non-existant.”

      Since that Phoronix article last week, Greg KH followed up on the mailing list with, “Sorry, no, we do not keep symbols exported for no in-kernel users.” Longtime Linux kernel developer Christoph Hellwig also suggested users switch instead to FreeBSD if caring about ZFS.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Generations of GeForce GPUs in Ubuntu

        If you are running an Ubuntu system with an older GPU and are curious about upgrading but unsure if it is worth it, Phoronix has a great review for you. Whether you are gaming with OpenGL and Vulkan, or curious about the changes in OpenCL/CUDA compute performance they have you covered. They even delve into the power efficiency numbers so you can spec out the operating costs of a large deployment, if you happen to have the budget to consider buying RTX 2060′s in bulk.

      • Intel To Eventually Explore Offering A Graphics Control Panel For Linux Systems

        Intel’s Linux graphics driver stack has never offered its own vendor-specific driver control panel GUI like is common among all major graphics vendors on Windows, but instead they’ve opted for the command-line experience and making use of common interfaces with what’s offered by the different desktop environments for resolution handling, multi-monitor setup, etc. But moving forward they may end up bringing a new graphics driver control panel to Linux.

      • Mesa 19.0 Deprecates GNU Autotools Build System In Favor Of Meson

        Last month was a proposed patch that would have killed the Autotools build system within Mesa. Developers have decided for the upcoming Mesa 19.0 release not to eliminate this GNU Autotools support but rather to mark it as deprecated and require an extra flag in order to make use of it.

        Hitting Mesa Git master today was the patch deprecating Autotools support within Mesa in favor of the Meson build system. It hasn’t been determined when the Autotools scripts will be removed themselves, but for now if wanting to enable the support you need to pass –enable-autotools to acknowledge the fact that it’s been deprecated.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Builder 3.32 Sightings

        We just landed the largest refactor to Builder since it’s inception. Somewhere around 100,000 lines of code where touched which is substantial for a single development cycle. I wrote a few tools to help us do that work, because that’s really the only way to do such a large refactor.

        Not only does the refactor make things easier for us to maintain but it will make things easier for contributors to write new plugins. In a future blog post I’ll cover some of the new design that makes it possible.

        Let’s take a look at some of the changes in Builder for 3.32 as users will see them.

      • GNOME Software Package Manager to Feature Better Flatpak Support for GNOME 3.32

        GNOME Software, the app used for installing, updating, and removing software from your GNOME-based GNU/Linux operating system, will get a major revamp in functionality for the upcoming GNOME 3.32 desktop environment.
        A new development snapshot of GNOME Software 3.32 landed this week with lots of improvements for the Flatpak universal package format, allowing new permissions for Flatpak updates and displaying permissions for installed Flatpak apps. GNOME Software also now shows correct version numbers for installed Flatpaks.

        The update mechanism for Flatpak apps was switched to use a single transaction, allowing the GNOME developers to share more code with the flatpak command-line utility, and it looks like GNOME Software 3.32 will offer better support for installing Flatpak repository files, also known as flatpakref, and for Flatpak plugins.

  • Distributions
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
    • Fedora
      • Fedora Still Needs Help Testing The New Zchunk Metadata Support

        Fedora has been working on transitioning to Zchunk for its DNF metadata due to its good compression ratio while being delta-friendly and leveraging the existing work of Zstandard and Zsync/casync. The metadata has been offered in Zchunk for some weeks while more client testing is needed before landing that support in Rawhide and in turn for Fedora 30.

        The goal of this Zchunk metadata for Fedora is to speed-up DNF operations by needing to download less metadata. While the server bits are in place, additional client testing is desired before landing the updated packages in Fedora Rawhide where it will affect all users on this development build of Fedora ahead of the Fedora 30 release due out in the spring.

      • NOTICE: Epylog has been retired for Fedora Rawhide/30

        Epylog is a log analysis code written by Konstantin (“Icon”) Ryabitsev, when he was working Duke University in the early 2000′s. It was moved to FedoraHosted and then never got moved to other hosting afterwords. The code is written in early python2 syntax (maybe 2.2) and has been hacked to work with newer versions over time but has not seen any major development since 2008. I have been sort of looking after the package in Fedora with the hopes of a ‘rewrite for Python3′ that never got done by me.

    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Deepin 15.9 Released with Touchscreen Support, Various Fixes

          There’ll little else like Deepin Linux in the distro ecosystem. It has its own bespoke desktop, custom apps, and is a true standout in a sea of (sometimes) broadly samey desktops.

          The first major update to the China-based distro this year, Deepin 15.9 features a number of improvements, optimisations, and refinements.

        • deepin 15.9 Linux distribution is here with new multi-touch gestures and improved power management

          Since Microsoft will be ending Windows 7 support in less than a year, many computer users will have to decide if they will move onto the much-maligned Windows 10. Alternatively, depending on their needs, they could opt for a Mac or Chromebook. But what if you are happy with your current computer and don’t want to buy new hardware? In that case, Linux can save the day. The excellent Netrunner, for instance, is a great option for Windows switchers that fear a change of user interface.

          If you are open to moving away from the traditional Windows-like interface, another superb Linux distribution to consider is deepin. If you aren’t familiar, deepin is a very stable operating system that focuses heavily on appearance. Quite frankly, it puts Windows 10 to shame in that regard — its “Deepin Desktop Environment” is far superior to the dated and boring interface found on Microsoft’s latest operating system. Today, deepin 15.9 becomes available for download with a huge list of changes, including new multi-touch gestures and improved power management.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Notepad++ Snap App Review

            Notepad++ is a lightweight and popular programmer’s text editor, originally developed for MS Windows Operating System, and now available on Snap Store for Linux users.

            The program is developed using C++, hence, the name Notepad++. Its official website claims to save more CO2 emission by utilizing fewer resources and CPU. Nonetheless, Notepad++ comes equipped with many useful features like syntax highlighting, buffer restoring, automatic code indentation, etc.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Get started with CryptPad, an open source collaborative document editor

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

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

  • SalesAgility Launches SuiteCRM 7.11

    SalesAgility has released SuiteCRM 7.11 with several bug fixes, new workflows, Elasticsearch, and Google calendar synchronization.

    Elasticsearch is an open-source RESTful search engine to centrally store and index data. SuiteCRM will now provide users a faster and more scalable way to perform full text searches via Global Search on larger data volumes than before.

  • The essential guide to open source virtualization platforms

    Open source virtualization platforms offer adopters the chance to reduce licensing costs and avoid vendor lock-in, while still providing robust virtualization features.

    IT administrators who adopt open source might have less support than they would from a major vendor, so they must be adept at troubleshooting or garnering help from open source communities. Open source virtualization adopters might also consider vendors such as Red Hat that can provide support and integration services.

  • Events
    • Richard Stallman to speak at MSU-Bozeman
    • 2019 Linux Foundation events include ELC shows in San Diego and Lyon

      The Linux Foundation announced its 2019 schedule of events, including new events about Ceph and gRPC. The Embedded Linux Conference will co-locate with the Open Source Summit in San Diego on Aug. 21-23.

      Now’s the time to schedule your plans for Linux events, most of which occur under the umbrella of the Linux Foundation. The LF has revealed its 2019 calendar for conferences, including two new events: Cephalocon, which will explore the world of the Ceph storage standard and gRPC Conf, which covers gPRC Remote Procedure Call technology. In 2018, Linux Foundation events attracted more than 32,000 attendees from more than 11,000 organizations across 113 countries. The LF expects 35,000 participants in 2019.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Has Axed Firefox Test Pilot

        If you were a fan of the Mozilla Test Pilot programme, I’ve some bad news to share: it’s being axed.

        Mozilla has announced that is closing the Test Pilot programme effective January 22, 2019.

        Launched three years ago, the Test Pilot programme was a playground in which Mozilla could test innovative new Firefox features and experiment with new or unusual types of browser functionality.

        Successful tests often ‘graduated’ from playground to product, going on to be incorporated in to Firefox itself (screenshots, containers, activity stream). Others popular tests became standalone products or made freely available add-ons (notes, lockbox).

      • L10n report: January edition
  • Databases
    • MongoDB “open-source” Server Side Public License rejected

      MongoDB is open-source document NoSQL database with a problem. While very popular, cloud companies, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM Cloud, Scalegrid, and ObjectRocket has profited from it by offering it as a service while MongoDB Inc. hasn’t been able to monetize it to the same degree. MongoDB’s answer? Relicense the program under its new Server Side Public License (SSPL). Open-source powerhouse Red Hat’s reaction? Drop MongoDB from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8.

      Red Hat’s Technical and Community Outreach Program Manager Tom Callaway explained, in a note stating MongoDB is being removed from Fedora Linux, that “It is the belief of Fedora that the SSPL is intentionally crafted to be aggressively discriminatory towards a specific class of users.” Debian Linux had already dropped MongoDB from its distribution.

  • CMS
    • WordPress Partners with Google News to Launch Open Source Platform for Newsrooms

      On January 14, 2019, WordPress announced the launch of Newspack by WordPress, an Open Source Platform for Newsrooms which will begin operations in mid-2019 with backing from ConsenSys, Civil media and others.

    • Automattic announces Newspack to help news organizations publish and monetize

      WordPress, the open-source project that lets you create websites on, is already a solid content management system (we use it at TechCrunch). But it becomes more difficult to use once you want to monetize your content using subscriptions, metered paywalls and user accounts. WordPress doesn’t have a native solution for that.

      That’s why Automattic is working on a platform for news organizations — think about it as a version of WordPress specifically designed for news organizations. The company wants to help local news organizations more specifically, as those media companies don’t necessarily have a ton of development resources.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • An Absence of Strategy?

      I keep starting articles but not finishing them. However, after responding to some correspondence recently, where I got into a minor rant about a particular topic, I thought about starting this article and more or less airing the rant for a wider audience. I don’t intend to be negative here, so even if this sounds like me having a moan about how things are, I really do want to see positive and constructive things happen to remedy what I see as deficiencies in the way people go about promoting and supporting Free Software.
      The original topic of the correspondence was my brother’s article about submitting “apps” to F-Droid, the Free Software application repository for Android, which somehow got misattributed to me in the FSFE newsletter. As anyone who knows both of us can imagine, it is not particularly unusual that people mix us up, but it does still surprise me how people can be fluid about other people’s names and assume that two people with the same family name are the same person.
      Eventually, the correction was made, for which I am grateful, and it must be said that I do also appreciate the effort that goes into writing the newsletter. Having previously had the task of doing some of the Fellowship interviews, I know that such things require more work than people might think, largely go either unnoticed or unremarked, and as a participant in the process it can be easy to wonder afterwards if it was worth the bother. I do actually follow the FSFE Planet and the discussion mailing list, so I’d like to think that I keep up with what other people do, but the newsletter must have some value to those who don’t want to follow a range of channels.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • GPL Cooperation Commitment: Promise of Collaborative Interpretation [Ed: IP Kat perpetuates the Microsoft-connected (and funded) lie that GPL “popularity has dropped dramatically during the past decade,” citing Jono Bacon and Microsoft-funded ‘analysts’, proxies like Black Duck. To this date, in light of the GitHub takeover, Microsoft managers are badmouthing the GPL and many anti-GPL ‘studies’ are based on this Microsoft site alone.]

      GNU General Public Licence version 2 (GPLv2) was written in the early nineties to ensure compliant distribution of copyleft-licensed software. Even though its popularity has dropped dramatically during the past decade, it nevertheless continues to be one of the most widely used and important open source licences.

      Notedly, GPLv2 was drafted by non-legal free (as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer”) software enthusiasts and yet it has necessitated legal interpretation and application in accordance with IP and contract law principles. For nearly two decades, compliance and enforceability of the licence by its users has had to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty with respect to its terms.

    • HMD releases source code for Nokia 8 Sirocco

      HMD has released the source code for Nokia 8 Sirocco and it is now available for download on the official Nokia website.

    • HMD released the source code for Nokia 8 Sirocco

      The Open source releases webpage was refreshed once more, now with the source code files for beautiful Nokia 8 Sirocco.

    • AWS mixes toxic cocktail for open source

      There is currently a crisis unfolding in the open source world, with a number of companies changing their licensing to protect revenue. This has arisen due to a potentially toxic situation where public cloud providers have introduced managed services based on free open source products.

    • MongoDB “open-source” Server Side Public License rejected

      MongoDB is open-source document NoSQL database with a problem. While very popular, cloud companies, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM Cloud, Scalegrid, and ObjectRocket has profited from it by offering it as a service while MongoDB Inc. hasn’t been able to monetize it to the same degree. MongoDB’s answer? Relicense the program under its new Server Side Public License (SSPL). Open-source powerhouse Red Hat’s reaction? Drop MongoDB from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8.

    • Amazon Ditches MongoDB, Launches Rival

      The rationale given by Amazon is that customers find it challenging to build performant, highly available applications on MongoDB that can quickly scale to multiple Terabytes because of the complexity that comes with setting up and managing MongoDB clusters. Amazon DocumentDB implements the Apache 2.0 open source MongoDB 3.6 API by emulating the responses that a MongoDB client expects from a MongoDB server, allowing customers to use their existing MongoDB drivers and tools with Amazon DocumentDB.

      However, there’s a lot that’s not included in that view of the situation. Amazon and AWS has in the past been criticized for taking open-source software, doing some work on it then rebranding it without necessarily playing fair with the original developers. The thinking seemed to be that just having Amazon using your software was enough of a reward.

    • AWS has broken open source software

      Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other infrastructure as a service companies have broken the standard open source revenue model. The former model was that you wrote software to solve a problem you were having. This was usually a problem being experienced by many people. You could earn a decent living supporting the software you created since you were the creator of the software. People would come to you with questions or pay you to create additional functionality.

      Let’s say you created software to store lots of information in computer memory and retrieve it quickly. This is something that many other people would like to do too. Rather than write their own software they will use the software and pay you for support when they have questions or issues.

      If Amazon Web Services (AWS) or other infrastructure as a service companies decide to use your software, suddenly users of your software have a decision: do they pay Amazon to support the software or do they pay you for support. In general, most companies will choose Amazon since they are a well-known commodity and that is the decision with the least risk.

    • Why I Just Sold Most of My MongoDB Stake

      The “Death Star” has reared its head for MongoDB. Not the Death Star from Star Wars , but the company that cable mogul John Malone once compared to that ominous space station: Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) .

      Amazon Web Service’s huge cloud infrastructure has allowed the company to expand into databases over time, but its efforts had been limited to the Aurora SQL database and the DynamoDB database. Dynamo is a nonrelational database closer to MongoDB; however, DynamoDB was not open-source, like MongoDB.

    • Open Source Software At A Crossroads

      Last week, AWS announced on its blog the launch of DocumentDB, a MongoDB-compatible database. As some pundits have pointed out, this is clearly a reaction to MongoDB, Inc.’s new and highly-restrictive license called the Server Side Public License (SSPL)—a move which the publicly-traded MongoDB made in order to protect its revenue position.

      Earlier last year, Redis Labs learned a hard lesson in community relations management when it took a less dramatic step: while offering its Redis database under a permissive license, it changed the licensing on its add-on modules to the “Commons Clause”, so service providers would need to pay for their use. While communication could have been clearer, the action itself is similar in intent to what MongoDB did, and to what many other open source companies have attempted or plan to attempt to do.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Call for Humanitarian Design Challenges

      All designs and documentation of the solution will be freely published online as Open Source, to the benefit of you, users and other stakeholders, future (student) teams and anyone interested.

  • Programming/Development
    • gVisor: Building and Battle Testing a Userspace OS in Go

      Adin Scannell talks about gVisor – a container runtime that implements the Linux kernel API in userspace using Go. He talks about the architectural challenges associated with userspace kernels, the positive and negative experiences with Go as an implementation language, and finally, how to ensure API coverage and compatibility.

    • Rust bindings for GStreamerGL: Memoirs

      Rust is a great programming language but the community around it’s just amazing. Those are the ingredients for the craft of useful software tools, just like Servo, an experimental browser engine designed for tasks isolation and high parallelization.

      Both projects, Rust and Servo, are funded by “>”>Mozilla.

      Thanks to Mozilla and Igalia I have the opportunity to work on Servo, adding it HTML5 multimedia features.

      First, with the help of Fernando Jiménez, we finished what my colleague Philippe Normand and Sebastian Dröge (one of my programming heroes) started: a media player in Rust designed to be integrated in Servo. This media player lives in its own crate: servo/media along with the WebAudio engine. A crate, in Rust jargon, is like a library. This crate is (very ad-hocly) designed to be multimedia framework agnostic, but the only backend right now is for GStreamer. Later we integrated it into Servo adding an initial support for audio and video tags.

      Currently, servo/media passes, through a IPC channel, the array with the whole frame to render in Servo. This implies, at least, one copy of the frame in memory, and we would like to avoid it.

      For painting and compositing the web content, Servo uses WebRender, a crate designed to use the GPU intensively. Thus, if instead of raw frame data we pass OpenGL textures to WebRender the performance could be enhanced notoriously.

    • proc-macro-rules
    • Analyzing Robinhood trade history
    • What should be in the Python standard library?

      Python has always touted itself as a “batteries included” language; its standard library contains lots of useful modules, often more than enough to solve many types of problems quickly. From time to time, though, some have started to rethink that philosophy, to reduce or restructure the standard library, for a variety of reasons. A discussion at the end of November on the python-dev mailing list revived that debate to some extent.

      Jonathan Underwood raised the issue, likely unknowingly, when he asked about possibly adding some LZ4 compression library bindings to the standard library. As the project page indicates, it fits in well with the other compression modules already in the standard library. Responses were generally favorable or neutral, though some, like Brett Cannon, wondered if it made sense to broaden the scope a bit to create something similar to hashlib but for compression algorithms.

    • A new free-software forge:

      Many projects have adopted the “GitHub style” of development over the last few years, though, of course, there are some high-profile exceptions that still use patches and mailing lists. Many projects are leery of putting all of their project metadata into a proprietary service, with limited means of usefully retrieving it should that be necessary, which is why GitLab (which is at least “open core”) has been gaining some traction. A recently announced effort looks to kind of bridge the gap; Drew DeVault’s (“the hacker’s forge”) combines elements of both styles of development in a “100% free and open source software forge”. It looks to be an ambitious project, but it may also suffer from a lack of “social network” effects, which is part of what sustains GitHub as the forge of choice today, it seems.

      The announcement blog post is replete with superlatives about, which is “pronounced ‘sir hat’, or any other way you want”, but it is a bit unclear whether the project quite lives up to all of that. It combines many of the features seen at sites like GitHub and GitLab—Git hosting, bug tracking, continuous integration (CI), mailing list management, wikis—but does so in a way that “embraces and improves upon the email-based workflow favored by git itself, along with many of the more hacker-oriented projects around the net”. The intent is that each of the separate services integrate well with both and with the external ecosystem so that projects can use it piecemeal.

      There are two sides to the coin at this point; interested users can either host their own instance or use the hosted version. For now, the hosted version is free to use, since it is still “alpha”, but eventually one will need to sign up for a plan, which range from $2 to $10 per month, to stay on the hosted service. There are instructions for getting to run on other servers; it uses nginx, PostgreSQL, Redis, and Python 3 along with a mail server and a cron daemon.

    • Wing Python IDE 6.1.4

      This minor release fixes using typing.IO and similar classes as type hints, improves handling of editor splits in goto-definition, fixes failure to install the remote agent, and fixes failure to convert EOLs in the editor. See the change log for details.

    • Create Panda 3D Game Project

      Hello, do you still remember that I have mentioned to you before that I will start another game project alongside the new pygame project? Well, I have not decided yet which game framework should I use to build the python game. Yesterday I had just came across Panda 3D which is a very attractive game framework that we can use to create the python game.

    • Top technical skills that will get you hired in 2019

      Landing the perfect IT job is never easy, but certain technical skills can smooth the way, especially if they’re in high demand. Job search platform Indeed has analyzed the fastest-growing terms used by job seekers when searching for tech jobs in 2019, and the results represent some significant changes over last year.

      “When people look for new jobs, they often use search terms that describe cutting-edge skills associated with the jobs they want,” says Daniel Culbertson, economist at Indeed. “On the employer side, the highly specialised tech talent who have these proficiencies are in great demand.”

    • 5 open source Go tools for tuning up your Golang mastery

      Love programming in Go? It’s hard not to fall in love with it, we know! Today we browsed through some Golang tools on GitHub and picked some of our favorites from the list. Far from exhaustive, this list highlights some of the best in show.

    • Executing Shell Commands with Python
    • Introduction to Python
    • Convert video from one format to another with python
  • Slack’s new logo is a penis swastika

    Behold the Brostika! Like the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo, Slack’s new brand has a negative-space surprise in store. The bars point the “lucky” left way, at least, rather than, well, to the right.

  • Fortnite made an estimated $2.4 billion last year

    While much of Fortnite’s revenue comes from selling character skins and emotes, SuperData says that 34 percent of all US players also purchased a seasonal “battle pass,” a feature that has since made its way to other online games like PUBG and Rocket League.

  • Engage more and dictate less in 2019

    “Says easy, does hard.” That’s a Southern expression I’ve really grown to appreciate. And it’s especially relevant this time of year, when people are making their 2019 resolutions. Change of any kind—either personal or organizational—can be easy to conceptualize in the abstract. But making that change, actually doing the work of changing, is much more difficult.

  • Science
    • Consequences of Trump’s ‘Egregious’ War on Science Mount as People and Planet Suffer

      With the Trump administration regularly putting its right-wing ideology ahead of scientific data and the common good, scientists are taking stock of the tangible damage President Donald Trump has done to the environment and public health as a direct result of the War on Science, two years into his term.

      Public health organizations and former government officials told the Guardian Wednesday about ways in which hostility toward science within numerous federal agencies have led to funding cuts for vital programs, dangerous regulatory rollbacks, and a severe lack of transparency on scientific facts from the government.

    • Turns out the science saying screen time is bad isn’t science

      A new study is making waves in the worlds of tech and psychology by questioning the basis of thousands of papers and analyses with conflicting conclusions on the effect of screen time on well-being. The researchers claim is that the science doesn’t agree because it’s bad science. So is screen time good or bad? It’s not that simple.

      The conclusions only make the mildest of claims about screen time, essentially that as defined it has about as much effect on well-being as potato consumption. Instinctively we may feel that not to be true; technology surely has a greater effect than that — but if it does, we haven’t found a way to judge it accurately.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Could Trump’s Government Shutdown Cause Outbreaks of Wildlife Disease?

      The current U.S. government shutdown could worsen ongoing wildlife disease outbreaks or even delay responses to new epidemics, according to federal insiders and outside experts who work with federal wildlife employees.

      The shutdown — initiated by the Trump administration on Dec. 22 over a financing dispute for the president’s promised southern border wall — has already gone on to be the longest federal shutdown in U.S. history. It has halted virtually all work by federal employees in several agencies, including those tasked with caring for the nation’s wildlife.

      When the government is functioning normally, wildlife biologists on national parks and wildlife refuges investigate unusual wildlife deaths and send samples to federal labs that specialize in testing deceased animals for several types of disease. During this shutdown, however, monitoring and testing capabilities have been limited. Following federal shutdown contingency plans, the four major agencies tasked with testing for, responding to and monitoring wildlife disease outbreaks have significantly cut their staff, response and research activities. These agencies include the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service.

    • Congress Considers Bill to Defend Freedom of People With Disabilities

      On January 15, disability justice activists celebrated the reintroduction of the Disability Integration Act (DIA). This monumental piece of legislation is an important step forward for the full civil rights of those with disabilities.

      The DIA would ensure that people with disabilities have the right to live in their homes and receive services to do so. Insurance companies and state governments would be barred from discriminating against people with disabilities through imposing what is essentially segregation. Far too many of those with disabilities are forced into nursing homes and other institutions rather than given in-home supports they need, which are often less expensive than institutionalization.

      Once they are in nursing homes, people almost entirely lose their freedom: the freedom to choose not only where they live, but what they eat, who they spend time with, if and when they go out and return home, and more. They’re also at a higher risk of abuse by the staff.

      Many people live in nursing homes simply because there isn’t any accessible and affordable housing available to them. Access to housing is one of many barriers people with disabilities face. Under the DIA, the failure of a public entity to ensure “affordable, accessible, and integrated housing” to allow people with disabilities that require Long Term Services and Support, such as home health aides and attendants, to live in the community would be considered “discrimination.” There is also a provision that addresses how some forms of long-term support are only given based on tenancy in certain types of housing such as public housing.

      Even for those who are receiving services that allow them to live at home, there are still limitations placed on their freedom. Many programs require that individuals only receive help while they’re at home. Clients typically cannot choose the schedule on which their services are provided. These restrictions can diminish access to employment, education and community activities. Help with daily tasks, such as shopping, cooking for both the client and their dependents, or travel to medical appointments may not be available. Service providers can also refuse to help with tasks in the home. The DIA would address each of these issues.

    • The Government Shutdown Expands the Ranks of ‘Underwater Nation’

      Another 380,000 federal workers have been furloughed, including Coast Guard employees that are being encouraged to take on babysitting gigs and organize garage sales. They saw their last paycheck on December 22 and are scrambling to pay rent, mortgages, alimony, and credit card bills, let alone the groceries.

      The average federal employee isn’t wealthy, taking home a weekly paycheck of $500, according to American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing affected workers.

      The vulnerability they feel isn’t unusual. A majority of the U.S. population is living with very little by way of a savings cushion.

    • European Council Advances SPC Waiver For Generics; Negotiations Coming

      The European Union Council of member states has approved a mandate for negotiations with the EU Parliament concerning a draft regulation aimed at boosting EU-based generic and biosimilar manufacturing for export by providing an exception to the extended intellectual property protection granted by special protection certificates (SPCs). The mandate brings the draft regulation a step closer to adoption, and it also suggests that Parliament’s recent amendments to the regulation are likely be key areas of debate in the negotiations, which are expected to begin in the coming weeks.

  • Security
    • Oracle Patches 284 Vulnerabilities in January Critical Patch Update

      Oracle released its first Critical Patch Update for 2019 on Jan. 15, providing patches for 284 vulnerabilities.

      The January 2019 CPU addresses security vulnerabilities found across the Oracle software portfolio, including ones affecting database, middleware, Java, PeopleSoft, Siebel and E-Business Suite applications. Thirty-three of the vulnerabilities are identified as being critical with a Common Vulnerabilities Scoring System (CVSS) score of 9.0 or higher. CVSS is a standardized method for helping organizations understand the impact and severity of software vulnerabilities.

    • Microsoft Rolls Out New Updates for Different Versions of Windows 10, Includes Small Bug Fixes

      Just a week ago, Microsoft released its Patch Tuesday updates for all the supported versions of Windows 10. And now, the company has come up with new updates for Windows 10 versions 1709, 1803, and 1703. The cumulative updates released by the company do not include any security patches but has quite a few changes that have been rolled out. Here are the updates that Microsoft has rolled for the three versions of Windows 10.

    • Only XRP Private Keys That Used Software From Before August 2015 Are Vulnerable

      Ripple (XRP) software libraries published before August 2015 potentially rendered private keys which signed multiple transactions vulnerable, Ripple announced in a statement released on Jan 16.

      Recent research jointly conducted by the DFINITY Foundation and the University of California revealed that a portion of Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Ripple addresses are vulnerable.

      As is known among cryptographers, the security of Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithms (ECDAs) employed by the aforementioned cryptocurrencies is highly dependent on random data, which are known as nonces. The research further explains:

    • Major Security Breach Discovered Affecting Nearly Half of All Airline Travelers Worldwide

      According to ELAL, the bug stems from their supplier Amadeus’ ( online booking system, which controls a staggering 44% market share of airlines operating worldwide, including United Airlines, Lufthansa, Air Canada, and many more. While booking a flight with ELAL, we received the following link to check our PNR:

      By simply changing the RULE_SOURCE_1_ID, we were able to view any PNR and access the customer name and associated flight details.

    • Kubernetes flaw shows API security is no ‘set & forget’ deal

      When a report surfaced last month detailing a ‘severe vulnerability’ in Kubernetes, the popular, open-source software for managing Linux applications deployed within containers, many of us will have wondered what the deeper implications of this alleged flaw could mean.

      Although the flaw was quickly patched, it allowed any user to escalate their privileges to access administrative controls through the Kubernetes API server.

    • WordPress to show warnings on servers running outdated PHP versions
    • Top 10 app vulnerabilities: Unpatched plugins and extensions dominate
    • This Clever New Ransomware Attempts To Steal Your PayPal Credentials

      Meanwhile, PayPal offers two factor authentication which, when turned on, can offer a vital extra layer of security should your password and username be compromised, Moore says.

    • A deep dive into the technical feasibility of Bloomberg’s controversial “Chinese backdoored servers” story

      These denials also don’t add up: Bloomberg says it sourced its story from multiple (anonymous) sources who had direct knowledge of the incidents and who had been employed in the named organizations while they were unfolding. Bloomberg stood by its reporting, and implied that the idea that all these sources from different organizations would collude to pull off a hoax like this.

      Faced with the seemingly impossible task of sorting truth from hoax in the presence of contradictory statements from Big Tech and Bloomberg, technical experts began trying to evaluate whether the hacks attributed to the Chinese spy agencies were even possible: at first, these analyses were cautiously skeptical, but then they grew more unequivocal.

      Last month, Trammell Hudson — who has developed well-regarded proof-of-concept firmware attacks — gave a detailed talk giving his take on the story at the Chaos Communications Congress in Leipzig.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Let’s Expose Congress Members for the Warhawks They Are

      As the nation continued to reel from President Trump’s shock decision last month to remove all U.S. troops from Syria, news came Wednesday that an unknown number of U.S. soldiers were among at least 15 killed in a bombing in northern Syria. Amid such continued violence, one would think the president’s withdrawal would have ever more urgency. And yet, just about everyone in Washington has attacked his decision to pull out.

      The reflexive hatred for Donald Trump that dominates the national conversation is bad for the U.S., especially when it comes to foreign policy. This is not to say that the president isn’t a flawed figure; after all, I’ve spent the better part of two years critiquing most of his policies. Still, when the man demonstrates prudent judgment—as in his recent calls to pull U.S. troops out of Syria and Afghanistan—he should be applauded. But that’s unlikely to happen in a divided America, as long as an interventionist, bipartisan consensus runs the show in Washington.

      Some call it the deep state, others the swamp—but the terminology hardly matters at this point. This forever-war crowd of congressional members, media pundits, arms industry CEOs and semiretired generals holds the reins on foreign policy in ways that are counter to the war-exhaustion instincts of both Trump and the American public. And it has to stop.


      But the militarist elites don’t care what the people—especially Trump’s supporters—want. As far as they’re concerned, they alone know what’s good for America. Or so they’d have us believe. In reality, whether they’re election-obsessed legislators or ratings-obsessed media moguls, these interventionists all serve the same corporate masters. They play politics even when lives—both of U.S. troops and countless civilians—are at stake. That goes for pugnacious Republicans of the Lindsey-Graham mold, as well as hypocritical media celebrities like Rachel Maddow and her Democratic fan club. On the ostensible left, we’re even seeing an entire generation of born-again hawks rise in opposition to any and all de-escalation, even if those same liberal politicians and pundits would likely celebrate the same decision were it made by President Obama.

    • Europe’s Strategic Humanitarian Aid: Yemen vs. Syria

      The Syrian conflict will soon be into its ninth year, and the Yemen conflict into its fifth year. Both are major humanitarian disasters, with millions displaced amid unimaginable suffering. An estimated half a million have been killed in Syria, and over 100,000in Yemen.

      The West is deeply involved in both conflicts – supporting the opposition in Syria and the Kurdish areas, and providing arms and political support for the Saudi Arabian and Emirati led war on Yemen.

      The humanitarian aid provided to both crises is indicative of where priorities, Europe’s in particular, lie.

      From 2015 to 2018, the European Union (EU) and European countries have provided some $1.56 bnin aid to the UN Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (YHRP), while providing roughly fifty percent more for Syria during the same period, $3.2 bn.

      In 2018, $4.03 bn was pledged (globally) to the UN’s YHRP. This is less than half the amount pledged to the UN’s Syria Humanitarian Response Plan, $8.96 bn. Furthermore, the Syria campaign received more funding for 2018 than the entirety of the Yemen conflict, some $8.6 bn (2015-2018). Over the same period, $12.6 bn was pledged for Syria. This is a huge difference, despite the number of people affected in both conflicts being similar.

      There are 5 million Syrian refugees and 6 million internally displaced, while 80 percent of Yemen’s 22.2 million people – a population on par with Syria’s 23 million – are in need of humanitarian or protection assistance, with 11.3 million in acute need.

      At a country level, Europe has been more ‘generous’ regarding the Syria campaign than for Yemen, despite 21 EU countries selling $86.9 bnin arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE (in 2015 and 2016), some 55 times more than the aid provided,as shown in figures I compiled for Middle East Eye.

    • China: An Ancient Country, Getting Older

      Saudi Arabia, rolling dunes, endless desert, little rain. Northern China. Verdant hills, green fields and this time of year, heavy snow. Yet there is less water available in northern China per head of population than in Saudi Arabia.

      With a fifth of the world’s population, China has about 7 per cent of the planet’s fresh water.

      Even the quality of what is available is poor. Tap water is undrinkable without being filtered heavily. Industrial waste and the flow of pesticides from fields contribute massively to pollution. At least 10, 000 petrochemical plants dot the banks of the Yangtze River. China has about 88,000 reservoirs but at least 40 percent are in a poor condition.

      Things are not much cleaner above ground. Massive strides have been taken too combat air pollution in northern China but it is still a cause for concern. The first two weeks of January have seen more polluted days, where levels of particulate matter 2.5 (often referred to as PM 2.5, because their diameter is 2.5 microns), exceed World Health Organization guidelines, than clear ones. Correct, enough of the science. But PM2.5 levels are a main topic of conversation in Beijing. It is not uncommon for conversations in shops or the train queues to mention PM2.5 levels.

    • America Has Its Gunsights on Venezuela

      Imperialism is a word that is rarely used these days. It is relegated to histories of colonialism in the distant past. There is little understanding of the suffocating way that financial firms and multinational businesses drive their agenda against the development aspirations of the poorer nations. There is even less understanding about the muscular attitude of countries such as the United States, Canada and the Europeans against states that they deem to be a problem.

      The gunsights were once firmly on West Asia and North Africa—on Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran—but now they are focused on Latin America—on Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. These countries face economic sanctions and embargoes, threats of annihilation, covert operations and war. The definition of imperialism is simple: if you don’t do what we tell you to do, we’ll destroy you.

      Pressure on Venezuela has been intense. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the overthrow of the Bolivarian government, led by Maduro. Sanctions have been ratcheted up. Economic warfare has become normal. Threats of a military invasion are in the air.

    • Ground Zero Nagasaki

      Landing at Nagasaki Airport last November, I joined a line of Japanese men, women, and children waiting to disembark from our plane. Most were likely returning home on this holiday weekend or arriving to visit family and friends. I wondered how many of them remembered or thought about the nuclear annihilation of this city 73 years ago — within, that is, their own lifetimes or those of their parents or grandparents.

      From the airport, I took a bus along the jagged coast through small mountain villages toward Nagasaki, entering the city from the north on a route used by rescue and relief workers on August 9, 1945, and by bewildered family members racing into the smoldering city to search for their loved ones. For months after the bombing, no public transportation could penetrate the ruins of this northern part of the city. My bus, on the other hand, moved seamlessly into a metropolis that showed no sign of its obliteration three-quarters of a century ago.

      Much of Nagasaki and the world have, of course, moved on from that terrible morning when a five-ton plutonium bomb plunged at 614 miles per hour toward the city of 240,000 people. Forty-three seconds later, it detonated a third of a mile above Nagasaki’s Urakami Valley. A super-brilliant blue-white flash lit the sky, followed by a thunderous explosion equal to the power of 21,000 tons of TNT. The entire city convulsed. Within hours it was engulfed in flames.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • “I’m Sure Dinosaurs Thought They Had Time, Too’: Over 12,000 Students Strike in Brussels Demanding Bold Climate Action

      An estimated 12,500 students walked out of their classrooms in Brussels, Belgium on Thursday to join the country’s second youth-led climate march in the past week, demanding that government leaders from across Europe take bold action to help stem the global climate crisis.

      Carrying signs reading “Act now before it’s too late,” “The planet needs you to give a damn,” and “I’m sure the dinosaurs thought they had time, too,” young people at the Marche Pour le Climat chanted, “We want change!” as they marched through the city in the rain.

    • Public Takeover of PG&E: A Radically Common-Sense Proposal

      California’s large investor-owned utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), announced it would be filing for bankruptcy by the end of the month after being faced with $30 billion in damages related to a series of fires over the past two years, including last fall’s deadly Camp Fire, which was allegedly sparked by the utility’s old, faulty transmission lines.

      That fire killed 86 people, destroyed 14,000 homes in the town of Paradise, and stands as the deadliest and most destructive fire in the state’s history.

      PG&E’s bankruptcy forces a critical choice for new California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state leaders. They could opt to bail out PG&E, or break up the gargantuan company into presumably more manageable pieces.

      Or they could do the right thing and take the utility into democratic, public ownership.

      A public takeover is not outlandish, but rather, is a common-sense proposal for the future of Californians. With the company’s value dropping precipitously, this is a key moment for the state to step in, take over, and design a utility system that centers affordability, reliability, resiliency and leadership on climate change. Public ownership could also help secure the priorities that bankruptcy puts up in the air — such as pensions, union contracts and renewable energy investments — that the for-profit utility might not value saving as much as it would CEO bonuses.

    • Could a Green New Deal Save Civilization?

      The public champions of the Green New Deal (GND) in the U.S. include Democratic progressive representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Deb Haaland, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Antonio Delgado. The idea is also supported by writer-activists Naomi Klein and Van Jones; by the Green Parties in the US and Europe; and by the Sierra Club,, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Climate Mobilization. The proposals currently circulating in Washington aim to provide 100 percent renewable energy in 10 to 20 years while supporting job retraining and aiding communities impacted by climate change. Some proposals also include a carbon tax (often with a fee-and-dividend structure that would rebate funds to low-income people so they could afford more costly energy services), incentives for green investment, public banks, measures to re-regulate the financial system, and the first steps toward a global Marshall Plan.

    • ‘Step Up or Step Aside’: Youth Climate Leaders Occupy Schumer’s Office to Demand Support for Green New Deal

      Keeping up the pressure on the Democratic leadership to embrace bold and popular solutions that are aligned with the science, youth climate leaders on Thursday occupied the D.C. office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) to demand that he either show true leadership by supporting a Green New Deal or “step aside.”

      “Real climate leadership means a commitment to bold climate action and a just transition. It means a Green New Deal,” a 16-year-old New Yorker named Jordan declared during Thursday’s demonstration, which comes just weeks after young climate campaigners demonstrated at the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

    • World’s coffee under threat, say experts

      The first full assessment of risks to the world’s coffee plants shows that 60% of 124 known species are on the edge of extinction.

    • ‘A Disgrace’: Bernie Sanders Takes Trump EPA Pick to Task for Claiming Climate Change Not ‘Greatest Crisis’ Facing Planet

      When Sanders asked Wheeler if he believes climate change is a “global crisis” that requires “unprecedented” policy changes, the EPA nominee responded that the warming planet is an “issue” but repeatedly refused to call it a “crisis.”

      “I believe that climate change is a global issue that must be addressed globally,” Wheeler said. “I would not call it the greatest crisis, no sir.”

      According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world must cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 by to avert global catastrophe.

      “The person Donald Trump has nominated to lead the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t believe climate change is a “crisis,” Sanders wrote on Twitter following Wednesday’s hearing. “That is not only a disgrace, it is incredibly dangerous to the future of our planet.”

    • As Planet Heats Further, Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is ‘Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe’

      While WEF has made a habit of recognizing the threat posed by the human-made climate crisis in its Global Risks reports—for which it has garnered some praise—author and activist Naomi Klein was quick to challenge the narrative presented in the latest edition (pdf), pointing out that many of the polices pushed by the very people invited to the exclusive event have driven the global crisis.

      “Sleepwalking? Nah. The policies of global deregulation, privatization, unending consumption, and growth-worship that you advanced so aggressively in order to construct the Davos Class marched us here,” she tweeted. “Pretty sure your eyes were wide open.”

    • In Hoax Letter Calling Out Climate Inaction, Pranksters Urge Asset Manager Behemoth to Ditch ‘Zombie Funds of the Apocalypse’

      Because “generating sustainable returns into the future requires that we have a future,” the head of the world’s biggest money manager, BlackRock, sent a letter Wednesday to investors saying it would start to consider as “sin stock” companies that fail to align their business models with the goals of the Paris climate accord.

      Or so a group of climate-minded activists would have you believe.

      The pledge to better address the climate crisis was not actually made by BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink but by activists who say in their hoax letter that such a move would not only be economically wise but would help save the only planet we have.

      “Everything called for in our fake letter are steps BlackRock could take while still remaining model capitalists,” said fake letter co-author Jeff Walburn of the Yes Men—activists whose previous targets have included the DNC, Dow Chemical, and Pfizer. “These slightly less extinction-oriented moves would make more money for investors and ensure their customers have a stable economy to profit from down the line. This is hardly a radical push; but it’s a push we need, for the sake of humanity’s survival and, yes, its asset owners.”

      In the fake letter, sent to multiple news outlets—duping at least one—and posted to a website made to look like the real BlackRock site, Fink supposedly declares “that the biggest contributor to uncertainty is also the greatest threat to the long-term stability of our economy and our investors’ assets: climate change. Companies must address climate risk factors or fail in their fiduciary duty.”

      “We spent much of 2018 mapping near-term climate risks that will affect municipal bonds and real estate, and we’re going to scale that methodology across all of our investments,” it states.

    • That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal? It’s Malignant

      A burgeoning save-the-climate effort called the Green New Deal, explains Vox’s David Roberts, “has thrust climate change into the national conversation, put House Democrats on notice, and created an intense and escalating bandwagon effect. … everyone involved in green politics is talking about the GND. … But WTF is it?”

      Roberts goes on to give a good summary, but no one can fully answer that question until someone puts a complete plan down on paper. We do know that the vision as it’s being described by its fans (and it seems to have nothing but fans in the climate movement) explicitly draws its inspiration from the New Deal that the Roosevelt Administration launched eighty-four years ago in an effort to end the Great Depression.


      The Green New Dealers nevertheless are holding out the promise of prosperity and sustainability through growth. Without asking where the energy to fuel that growth will come from, they predict that with heavy investment in renewable infrastructure, the U.S. economy will expand rapidly so that lower-income households can look forward to more, better jobs and rising incomes.

      Unlike the World War II stimulus, this new green stimulus will not be accompanied by any planned allocation of resources or limits on production and consumption in the private sector. But that is what’s needed. Given the necessity for an immediate, steep decline in greenhouse emissions and material throughput, such planning and limits are needed even more now than they were during World War II.

    • Uniting for a Green New Deal

      Support is growing in the United States for a Green New Deal. Though there are competing visions for what that looks like, essentially, a Green New Deal includes a rapid transition to a clean energy economy, a jobs program and a stronger social safety net.

      We need a Green New Deal for many reasons, most obviously the climate crisis and growing economic insecurity. Each new climate report describes the severe consequences of climate change with increasing alarm and the window of opportunity for action is closing. At the same time, wealth inequality is also growing. Paul Bucheit writes that more than half of the population in the United States is suffering from poverty.

      The Green New Deal provides an opportunity for transformational changes, not just reform, but changes that fundamentally solve the crises we face. This is the time to be pushing for a Green New Deal at all levels, in our towns and cities, states and nationally.

    • More vegetables, less meat for all our sakes

      An international panel of health scientists and climate researchers has prescribed a new diet for the planet: more vegetables, less meat, fresh fruit, wholegrains and pulses, give up sugar, waste less and keep counting the calories.

      And if 200 nations accept the diagnosis and follow doctor’s orders, tomorrow’s farmers may be able to feed 10 billion people comfortably by 2050, help contain climate change, and prevent 11 million premature deaths per year.

      A commission sponsored by one of the oldest and most distinguished medical journals in the world today provides what it calls the first scientific targets for a healthy diet, from a sustainable food production system, that operates within what its authors term “planetary boundaries.”

      The commission is the result of three years’ consultation by 37 experts from 16 countries, among them experts in health, nutrition, environmental sustainability, economics and political governance.

    • The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Three

      The Green Party should seek, within the policy initiatives of the Green New Deal, to strengthen worker rights. As Whitney Webb writes in Corporations See a Different Kind of “Green” in Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal,” the Democratic Green New Deal (hereafter DGND) actually contains within its policy proposals further neoliberal assaults on worker rights and austerity measures, both of which have fostered the growth of white nationalism historically in American politics.

      Along with Improved Single Payer Medicare for All, the Green Party states they would also pass the Employee Free Choice Act, otherwise known as “card check,” which makes union organization easier. They should furthermore repeal the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 while amending the 1926 Railway Labor Act so to return the right to strike to railway and airline workers. The Green Party goal is to guarantee a living wage job for every American willing and able to work. To do this, the national party would establish a full employment program that will create 25 million jobs by implementing a nationally funded, locally controlled employment initiative. This would also include measures to create fair trade treaties and strengthen workplace safety laws. Job training would be in combination with a guaranteed tuition-free public college education and granting of student debt forgiveness. They would reform tax codes and laws to assure fair taxation, distributed in proportion to one’s ability to pay. And finally, we would provide all Americans with decent, accessible, affordable, and sustainable housing and democratically run, publicly owned, not-for-profit utilities

      Another distinction is the role of anti-imperialism within the coordinates of the Green New Deal. The DGND makes no reference to de-linking the American dollar’s value from the Saudi Arabian oil barrel’s price on the international exchange market. Unless a serious effort is made to disconnect the link between the dollar and Saudi oil, otherwise stated as eliminating the petrodollar, it is fundamentally against the best interests of the American government to engage in any sort of project that would reduce the worldwide value of Saudi oil. American capitalism since the termination of the Bretton Woods system during the Nixon administration has been one that only can be maintained by the perpetuation of a fossil fuels-based economic system. Sustainable energy policy from Democratic Party that does not take on this issue will not take on what actually drives climate change.

      Furthermore, owing to the precarious nature of the House of Saud’s grip on that country’s government, American foreign policy towards Saudi Arabia has always been extremely militarist and imperialist. From the start of the Cold War, when Saudi Arabia and Israel were positioned in the region as two poles that would oppose secular Arab nationalism, to contemporary times, with the ongoing genocidal war on Yemen and the jingoistic bipartisan saber-rattling towards Iran, the House of Saud has exchanged the security of American oil supplies for allowance of the most reactionary type of absolute monarchism on earth. Saudi Wahhabism has been a fundamentalist current promoting anti-Black racism, misogyny, trans/homo/bi-phobia, and feudal judicial practices across the Islamic world. The Saudis have been a key player in American imperial policy across Asia and Africa.

    • In Facing Mass Extinction, We Don’t Need Hope. We Need to Grieve.

      In 2015, my best friend, Duane French, came down with pneumonia and was taken to the hospital. Pneumonia on its own is bad enough, but for someone who has been quadriplegic for more than forty years, it is also life threatening. I met Duane when I first moved to Alaska in 1996, then I became his personal assistant. Duane is now one of the oldest living quadriplegics on the planet and he has always been one of my heroes. He broke his neck in a diving accident when he was just fourteen and spent his adolescence in a rehabilitation hospital with mangled Vietnam veterans returning from the war. Duane decided not to allow something like a broken neck and confinement to an electric wheelchair stop him from working to help pass the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since then, he has run more than one state government division that assists people with disabilities.

      Struggling to breathe, Duane was moved to the ICU shortly after being admitted to the hospital. His partner, Kelly, his personal assistant Sakhum, and I took twelve-hour shifts by his bed. Three weeks went by as one antibiotic after another failed. Duane’s heart rate was over one hundred beats per minute for weeks on end. He was barely eating, and he began spending more and more time wearing a breathing mask.

      Knowing the odds were heavily stacked against him, I sat at his bedside and gave him my full attention. When he slept, I watched his chest rising and falling, savoring the fact that he was still alive. When it was my turn to rest, I would go to bed in Kelly and Duane’s guest bedroom back at their home, knowing that Duane was still alive. But he continued to decline and, as he did, every moment with him was an ever more precious gift. It was easier for me to sit by his bed than anywhere else on Earth. My heart was breaking; yet I did not want to miss one single second of Duane’s life. I had no idea if he would survive, and that became less relevant as each moment I had with him became increasingly inestimable.

      Duane’s condition grew worse. There appeared to be nothing left to do. The nurse administered morphine to calm his struggles to breathe.

    • Tax the Rich, Fight the Climate Crisis

      Following the 2018 midterm elections, national media missed one piece of very good news. By a margin of almost two-to-one, tens of thousands of Portland, Oregon, voters approved an imaginative clean energy initiative that offers a model for the rest of the country — at the ballot box, but also in our classrooms.

      Work on Portland’s Clean Energy Fund began in February of 2016 in a church basement when representatives of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), Verde (a community-based environmental organization), the Coalition of Communities of Color, the NAACP, and 350PDX (the local affiliate of met to discuss how work to fight climate change could simultaneously address racial and economic justice and create living wage jobs. The initiative was the first ballot measure in Oregon’s history launched and led by people of color. And it’s what we need a lot more of: conversations, activism (including curriculum) that lead people to recognize that the “just transition” away from fossil fuels can also be a move toward a society that is cleaner, more equal, and more democratic.

      The Clean Energy Fund will be supported by a tax — technically, a surcharge — of 1 percent on corporations with gross retail receipts nationally of $1 billion and at least $500,000 in Portland. Food, medicine, and healthcare are exempt. A 1 percent tax on the 1 percent. Corporations affected include big retailers like Walmart, Target, J. C. Penney, and Best Buy, but also the media behemoth Comcast, which dominates Portland’s cable market. Organizers estimate that the tax will raise $30 million a year. The money will go to a fund dedicated to clean energy projects — renewable energy and energy efficiency — targeted explicitly to benefit low-income communities and communities of color. The fund will also support regenerative agriculture and green infrastructure projects aimed at greenhouse gas sequestration and sustainable local food production.

      An important component of the new initiative will be creating clean energy jobs that “prioritize skills training, and workforce development for economically disadvantaged and traditionally underemployed workers, including communities of color, women, persons with disabilities, and the chronically underemployed.” Workers will be paid more than $20 an hour, at least 180 percent of minimum wage.

  • Finance
    • The world is swimming in $244 trillion of debt

      Put another way, global debt is now more than three times the size of the world economy. The level of debt around the world has topped 318% of global gross domestic product, just below the all-time high of 320% in mid-2016. These elevated levels come despite a “cyclical pickup in global growth” over the last two years, the IIF said.

    • After Selling Kidney To Buy iPhone, Chinese Man Bedridden With Organ Failure

      The man suffered renal failure in his second kidney after having one removed. It is said that it was due to the unsanitary conditions where the surgery took place.

    • A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality

      January 15th marked what would’ve been Dr. Martin Luther King’s 90th birthday.
      Most known for his famous “I Have Dream Speech,” King envisioned a future in which deep racial inequalities — including deep economic inequality — was eradicated. He worked tirelessly towards that mission.
      Over 50 years after his assassination, sensational media stories have focused heavily on the black unemployment rate, which has reached historic lows.
      President Trump was quick to claim credit for this improvement last year, tweeting: “Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!” (The rapper had recently criticized the president for a racist statement about African countries.)

    • Turkish Court Jails Journalist For Telling The Truth About A Politician’s Offshore Tax Shelter

      Truth is no defense against allegations of defamation — not in Turkey where criminal defamation law is just one of the government’s many weapons deployed against critics. Journalist Pelin Ünker has been sentenced to more than a year in jail by a Turkish court for publishing undeniable facts.

    • Disappointing photos show what living in San Francisco on a tech salary really looks like

      In the nation’s most competitive real-estate market, it can be next to impossible to find affordable living accommodations. The housing crisis has left thousands struggling and has done nothing to help the city’s homelessness epidemic.

      It costs $3,360 on average for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. That means when the average starting tech salary of $91,738 is taken into account, some techies are shelling out a good portion of their paycheck solely on rent.

    • Income Share Agreements: A Student Debt Promise Falling Short Of Reality – Roosevelt Institute

      With outstanding student debt at $1.5 trillion, policymakers and education providers are looking for ways to make college more affordable. Though many argue for enhanced public investment to reduce tuition, others are turning to debt alternatives like income share agreements (ISAs). Through these contracts, universities (often with funding from private investors) contribute to a student’s education in exchange for a cut of their future income over a set number of years. Recently, journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin advocated for ISAs in The New York Times, calling one ISA-funded education program a “radically new approach to funding education” that could work for students, “not just for schools and bill collectors.” However, our forthcoming research indicates that the ISAs that are emerging throughout the country may not match up with their promise and instead put students at risk.

      To many, ISAs are a potential silver bullet for the student debt crisis. The appeal is that ISAs would allow students to reduce their risk compared to loans. Loans stick students (and often, their families) with all of the risk if their education doesn’t pay off. Through ISAs, funders only make money if the students do, and students will never owe more than their earnings can support. In reality, however, funders can shape ISAs to quietly push much of the risk back onto students by crafting contracts that work to their advantage, avoiding consumer protections laws and aggressively marketing the alleged advantages of ISAs.

      The program touted by Sorkin’s recent column, Lambda School, offers little public information about the terms of its ISAs, so it is difficult to assess its impact on consumers. Instead, we looked at Purdue University’s “Back a Boiler” program — perhaps the most prominent and acclaimed ISA programs in the United States. Back a Boiler illustrates how ISAs are not a solution to the high cost of higher education but rather another avenue for students to become trapped in debt. As a non-profit university with a vested interest in students’ success, Purdue’s ISA has been heralded as a model both for other universities and for legislative proposals, but our research uncovers major problems with Back a Boiler.

      First, Purdue’s program includes less favorable terms for students in less profitable majors. In other words, if a student’s major increases the risk that the funder won’t recoup their investment — e.g., perhaps a student is more likely to become a teacher than an investment banker — then the ISA contract is adjusted accordingly. These students owe a greater percentage of their income for a longer period of time than peers in other, “more profitable” majors. Instead of sharing the risk of lower earnings, Purdue bakes that risk into the terms.

    • Machiavellianism and Brexit

      A Cabinet Office source tells me today No. 10 is considering agreeing a second referendum with three choices: No Deal Brexit, May’s Deal or No Brexit. It would be by alternative vote, ie you rate your preferences 1, 2. The thinking is that the first round might go No Deal 23, May’s Deal 37, No Brexit 40. The second round would then go May’s Deal 60, No Brexit 40.

      They claim there is opinion poll evidence to support this. But I see a flaw. It is predicated on the current situation, where a lot of Remainers are prepared to support Brexit, to respect the referendum result. But surely a second referendum would release that psychological constraint and the overwhelming majority of Remainers would seize the opportunity to try and ditch Brexit?

      The advantage of the ploy from May’s viewpoint is that it presents her “deal” as the only alternative to No Deal or No Brexit, and in an AV vote the compromise position is always boosted. What is more it keeps the numerous other options for deals outwith her red lines – eg EFTA, Single Market, Customs Union, EEA – all off the ballot paper. This limited choice referendum thus appeals to May as “out-maneuvering” the opposition parties. The idea is to sucker them in to talk on a second referendum, then produce this slanted one.

    • Outsourced and Forgotten: No Relief for Federal Contract Workers

      As the government shutdown drags on, 800,000 federal workers continue to be furloughed or are working without pay. Even if they receive back pay at the end of the shutdown, it will be a case of “too little, too late”: Delayed pay cannot redress lost housing, late payment fees on bills or credit cards, unpaid child care bills, or the daily struggles of living paycheck to paycheck when those checks are delayed indefinitely.

      But large numbers of people who do the work of the federal government are not directly employed by the federal government; they do work that the government has outsourced to private companies. Many of these workers may end up receiving no back pay at all.

      These are the women and men who staff customer service lines, process payments, maintain properties, serve meals and provide tech support through government contracts with private employers. The number of affected workers is literally impossible to pinpoint, even for the government agencies signing the contracts. For every direct federal worker, we hire almost two more to execute such contracts, for a total of more than 3.7 million contracted employees, according to 2015 research estimates. Untold thousands of these employees have been locked out of work for temporarily shuttered agencies like the Departments of Transportation (with its $9.1 billion in contracts), Treasury ($13.9 billion in contracts) and Agriculture ($16.9 billion).

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • ‘Putin’s chef’ wanted to buy St. Petersburg’s leading investigative news outlet, but the owner of ‘Maxim’ magazine beat him to it

      On Friday, January 11, media magnate Viktor Shkulev chaired the morning planning meeting at Fontanka’s newsroom in St. Petersburg, introducing himself as the outlet’s new owner. A source on Fontanka’s editorial staff told Meduza that Shkulev brought a new logo and a new subheader for the website, changing “Petersburg Internet Newspaper” to “St. Petersburg Online.” According to Meduza’s source, Shkulev said Fontanka would “need to remain equidistant from all political forces,” while making an extra effort to attract male readers (“the beast with the prized fur”) beloved by advertisers.

      Viktor Shkulev is the president of the Hearst Shkulev Publishing company, which publishes the Russian-language edition of Maxim, the country’s most popular men’s magazine, as well as the women’s publications Elle, Marie Claire, and Psychologies. The total audience for the company’s publications was 18.2 million people in 2016. Shkulev, however, isn’t just in the magazine business: since 2012, he’s been developing a series of city websites and has bought shares of regional media companies. In the past few years, he’s acquired online-publications in Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Perm, Novosibirsk, Sochi, and Novokuznetsk, amassing an empire that reaches 19 million people.

    • DNC Rules Chair: How the 2020 Caucuses Could Change

      James Roosevelt III has been the co-chair of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee since 1995. In late December, the DNC issued its 2020 Delegate Selection Rules, which require states holding presidential caucuses, like Iowa and Nevada, to offer same-day registration and a way to participate without being present—either by mail or online. I reached out to Roosevelt about modernizing the caucus process and the challenges posed, starting with 2020’s first event in Iowa.

    • ‘Where’s Mitch?’: Ocasio-Cortez and Fellow Democrats Search High and Low to Demand McConnell Hold Vote to End Shutdown

      With the economic pain and dire safety risks caused by the record-long government shutdown becoming clearer by the day, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and a group of her fellow freshman House Democrats marched to the Senate building on Wednesday to hand-deliver a letter demanding that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately hold a vote to reopen the government.

      After searching for and failing to find McConnell in the Republican cloakroom, his office, or on the Senate floor, the Democrats left copies of their letter on McConnell’s desk and in his personal office.

    • GOP Congressmen Meet With Holocaust-Denying Troll Chuck Johnson

      Johnson, a former Breitbart reporter, has denied the magnitude of the Holocaust, expressing doubt that gas chambers were real and questioning whether six million Jews were really killed—a figure that has been well-documented by scholars and historians. He also ran crowdfunding efforts for white supremacist causes, including the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.


      Despite his unsavory past, Johnson has had access to other members of Congress before. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) invited Johnson to the 2018 State of the Union address, and once arranged a meeting between then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

    • Trump Is Over If You Want It

      Hey peeps, good news! The tinpot tyrant resigned by writing a note on a napkin in the Oval Office! He was felled by a women-led, multi-racial grassroots resistance targeting not just Trump but those who enabled him, turning the tide with an array of actions from sticky “sippy-cup sit-ins” of lawmakers’ offices by mothers with young children to a “wall of floof” created by young women in multi-layered quinceañera gowns to blockade government buildings. Outsmarted and out-classed, Trump fled to Yalta. Meanwhile, a grim Mike Pence was sworn in for a “clipped-duck” term, world leaders breathed sighs of relief, and progressives celebrated 64 groundbreaking bills, including Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, free college tuition and election reform. Amidst the stunning turnaround – #byebye45 – major news outlets took a remorseful look back at Trump’s rise to power and offered a collective mea culpa: “Our bad.”

      Across D.C. on Wednesday, the news of Trump’s demise – “UNPRESIDENTED” – was trumpeted on the front page of the Washington Post. Alas, it was in fact a fake Post created by activist collective The Yes Men, along with authors Onnesha Roychoudhuri and L.A. Kauffman.

    • Trump’s Flailing will get More Desperate and More Dangerous

      Since the striking victories of Democrats up and down the ballot in 2018, President Donald Trump has been flailing more and more wildly.

      He’s setting new records for the length of the government shutdown, watched his defense secretary resign after suddenly announcing the withdrawal of troops from Syria, forced his attorney general to resign, found it difficult to find a permanent replacement for his departing chief of staff, and tweeted that he is “all alone in the White House.”

      Quietly, the unrelenting investigation of Robert Mueller becomes ever more ominous. Now the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives will probe the corruption of this most corrupt administration, from Trump’s business dealings to the corporate lobbyists who are running entire departments in the interests of their once and future employers.

      While Trump issues insult after insult against opponents — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — he reveals just how desperate he is.

      Essentially, Trump now has three choices. He can stay in office and be impeached. The evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors is building each day, from trampling election laws by payoffs to keep his mistresses quiet to blatant self-enrichment that surely offends the Constitution’s ban on emoluments, to open and secret efforts to obstruct justice.

      Democrats will no doubt wait for special prosecutor Mueller to issue his report. They will wait to see if Republicans, alarmed by their sinking poll numbers, begin to separate themselves from Trump. Sen. Mitt Romney’s blast at Trump may be an early warning of what’s likely to come.

    • Trump vs the Constitution: Why He Cannot Invoke the Emergencies Act to Build a Wall

      The more President Trump changes his mind about declaring a national emergency to build his wall the less likely it is that he has the authority to do it. But even if he had declared a national emergency immediately, it is unlikely the Constitution or congressional statute allows him to do it. That is perhaps why Trump has not invoke emergency powers to build the wall–basic principles of American law suggest he lacks the authority to do it.

      The US Constitution is a power conferring document. There are no extra-constitutional powers. Before the president or any branch of the national government does something it needs to trace authority back to the explicit text of the Constitution or the power must be necessarily implied. In the case of the president, his authority comes from Article II of the Constitution, or he may be delegated some additional authority to him from Congress via Article I.

      Under Article II section 1, executive power is vested in the president. Under Article II, section 3, the president shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed. Through either of these clauses the president can issue an executive order and declare a national emergency, but what does that really mean? Does it mean presidents can ignore existing law or do whatever they want for whatever reason? Doubtful. President’s cannot manufacture an emergency and then invoke undefined powers to ignore the law or the Constitution; this idea violates the very idea of rule of law and the concept of American constitutionalism.

    • Referendum 2020: A Green New Deal vs. Racist, Classist Climate Genocide

      Perverse as it may seem, I as a climate justice activist am extremely glad the corrupt corporate, militarist Democratic Party leadership has repeatedly expressed its contempt for the Sunrise Movement’s much-needed, potentially game-changing call for a Green New Deal. Three recent, egregious instances of that contempt are 1) Chuck Schumer’s criminally insane promotion of Trump-supporting fossil fuel puppet Joe Manchin to be lead Democrat on a powerful Senate energy committee, 2) Nancy Pelosi’s predictable castration of Sunrise’s hoped-for committee to legislate a Green New Deal, and 3) Pelosi’s equally predictable construction of an insurmountable barricade to a Green New Deal by her ardent embrace of a pay-go budget provision, recently adopted by House Democrats.

      What makes me so glad is that Democrats’ corrupt Schumer-Pelosi leadership has taken no time whatsoever to show its cards: it clearly seeks to kill a Green New Deal. Or, at minimum, to weaken it beyond recognition, so the leadership game of serving Wall Street and Silicon Valley, the military-industrial-surveillance complex, and the Israel lobby can continue unimpeded. Absolutely clueless that the youth climate movement is different and won’t be bought off with lip service, Democrats’ leadership has already provoked the Sunrise Movement to strengthen its resolve.

      Deeply heartened by Sunrise’s refusal to be taken lightly, I see clear hope that the movement is willing to get radical and use “nuclear” political weapons against the adamantine anti-climate obstinacy of the Democratic leadership. As a veteran activist strategist, I have one such “can’t miss” weapon to propose: making the 2020 election a referendum between Democrats’ Green New Deal and Republicans’ racist, classist climate genocide. If taken up by a popular presidential hopeful like Bernie Sanders, or by a climate-obsessed one like Washington governor Jay Inslee, this stark referendum could sound the well-deserved death knell for today’s beyond-criminal Republican Party. And spell endless, politically suicidal woe for any corporate Democrat who dares oppose it.

    • Just Another Brick in the Wall of Lies

      It’s time to bring back the original Nightline. For those of you too young to remember, Nightlinewas born almost 40 years ago during the “Iranian Hostage Crisis.” Each nightly broadcast began with the words “The Iran Crisis: America Held Hostage” that would eventually be followed by the numbers of days that had elapsed since their seizure. This continued for 444 days. After the release of the hostages, the program began to devote more of its thirty minutes to probing in depth a single political or social issue. Over the years, having to compete with talk-over-shouting-matches-on-demand cable and the click-bait internet, the once venerable news program has since degenerated into little more than an infomercial for the exploits of Lindsay Lohan and R. Kelly, providing the latest celebrity gossip, politically safe human-interest stories, and the 411 on films and TV shows produced by Disney, its parent company.

      The revival of Nightline – and hopefully corporate tele journalistic due diligence – would be motivated by another national crisis: the fact that as of January 13th, for the last 723 days, America has been taken hostage by homegrown radical extremists, although the true dimensions of this siege did not become clear until their righteous leader decided to shut down the government and hold Americans ransom to pay for his Wall. Of course, Trump being Trump, the magnitude of his hostage crisis far exceeds the 52 Americans seized by Iran, as it includes some 800,000 federal workers and their families and promises to impact the lives of millions more the longer it continues.

      Yet for all its current chest beating about the truth and protestations against being labeled fake news, the corporate mainstream media has not learned the lessons of its past. Had it done so, it would not have provided Trump with prime-time national coverage to bamboozle the nation with more drivel about his Great Wall. Recall that these self-avowed defenders of democracy and Diogenesian seekers of truth and honesty are the same networks that in 2014 refused to provide President Obama the airtime to promote his own immigration plan because, according to a “network insider” cited by the Washington Post (November 21, 2014), they thought it was “overtly political,” as if, some four years later, Trump’s was any less so (and by almost any measure far more so). Then again, their denial may have been motivated by other less high-minded considerations: As the Post’s Jaime Fuller reported, November also “happens to be ‘sweeps’ month, when programming tries and encourage more viewers to turn in by promising more exciting content. Presidential sweeps don’t always ensure the exciting cliffhangers and plot twists that networks are looking for.” Did I mention that Diogenes was a Cynic?

      Apparently, these networks, still under the sway of the former reality TV star, who as presidential candidate and President boosted their sagging ratings, believe his address would have the same impact, albeit it turns out the ratings were less than stellar, with the Democratic rebuttal drawing slightly more viewers. Despite the fact that Trump is, as the New York Times’s Roger Cohen recently dubbed him, the “Michelangelo of bullshit artists” (a more fitting description, I think, would be the Dali of deception, since his masterworks dabble in surrealistic distortions of reality), the media, conflicted patron of the arts that it is, continues to provide him its canvas free of charge.

    • White House Denounces Rep. Steve King’s Racist Remarks

      Comments by Republican Rep. Steve King about white supremacy are “abhorrent,” the White House said Wednesday as bipartisan condemnation of King continued.

      White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders praised a move by House Republicans to strip the nine-term Iowa lawmaker of his committee assignments.

      King told The New York Times last week that, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

    • Giuliani Claims ‘I Never Said There Was No Collusion’ Between Trump Campaign and Russia (Yes, He Did)

      Giuliani previously garnered attention last summer, when he said during interviews that he’s not even convinced collusion with a foreign government that is trying to influence a U.S. presidential election is actually a crime.

      Trump, for his part, has called Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt.” The president has also tweeted: “Russian Collusion with the Trump Campaign, one of the most successful in history, is a TOTAL HOAX” and “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

      Giuliani’s interview comes after a court filing revealed last week that Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort gave 2016 presidential campaign polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political consultant who was previously an interpreter for his country’s military and is said to have ties to its intelligence services.

      The interview also comes amid speculation about when Mueller’s report will finally arrive and who will get to see it. Trump’s legal team reportedly may try to block it from being released to Congress and the public, but Giuliani denied that to Cuomo on Wednesday, claiming the president’s lawyers just want the opportunity to see it first and respond.

    • Facebook deletes hundreds of fake groups created by staff at Kremlin media outlet

      On January 17, the head of Facebook’s Cybersecurity Policy announced the removal of 364 pages and accounts that originated in Russia and operated in the Baltics, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Europe. According to Facebook, the administrators and account owners represented themselves as independent news pages and general-interest pages, but were really “linked to employees” of the Russian media agency Sputnik, frequently posting about topics like “anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and corruption.”

      Apparently, seven of the targeted Facebook pages belonged to Sputnik’s foreign newsrooms. In a public statement on Thursday, the Russian state media agency said Facebook’s decision is “unequivocally political censorship.”

    • In First Floor Speech, Ocasio-Cortez Condemns Trump Shutdown as ‘Erosion of American Democracy’

      “It is actually not about a wall, it is not about the border, and it is certainly not about the well-being of everyday Americans,” Ocasio-Cortez said of the shutdown, which is now in its fourth week with no end in sight. “The truth is, this shutdown is about the erosion of American democracy and the subversion of our most basic governmental norms.”

      “It is not normal to shut down the government when we don’t get what we want. It is not normal for public servants to run away and hide from the public that they serve,” the New York congresswoman declared, referencing her unsuccessful search for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the Senate building on Wednesday. “And it is certainly not normal to starve the people we serve for a proposal that is wildly unpopular among the American people.”

    • Mitch McConnell Begins to Feel the Heat for Government Shutdown at Home

      Federal workers’ protests outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office in Lexington, Ky. are raising questions about how long the Republican leader can continue his support of President Trump in the face of the longest government shutdown in US history.

      Government workers from the Federal Medical Center, US Penitentiary in Lexington and the Federal Correctional Institution of Manchester assembled outside McConnell’s office this week to protest the shutdown, according to local CBS affiliate WKYT. The protesters made it clear that their objective was for McConnell, and Congress overall, to vote to re-open the government.

      “They don’t even know if they can make it to work, yet they’re required to work,” Jerry Jackson Jr, a union president in Big Sandy, told the network.

      “What do we pay now? Do we pay the mortgage, do we save gas money to get to work, what do we do? Do we buy the groceries? So now the times are starting to get tough,” Stephen Creech, a union president in Manchester, also observed.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • YouTube updates policies to explicitly ban dangerous pranks, challenges

      Pranks and challenges have always been popular on YouTube, but now the Google-owned company has set stricter guidelines for such content. A new YouTube support page details the company’s updated policy surrounding “harmful and dangerous” content to explicitly ban pranks and challenges that cause immediate or lasting physical or emotional harm.

    • Russia’s Constitutional Court decides to ease limits on foreign involvement in the media — a bit

      Russia’s Constitutional Court issued a decision today regarding Article 19.1, a law that governs mass media. The law prohibits foreigners from founding or controlling media outlets in Russia, but the Court ruled that it requires correction. The new ruling indicates that the prohibition itself is just “because that sort of influence might threaten the security of state information,” but the Court also decided to clarify what rights foreigners do have if they own shares in Russian media companies.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Integrating Network-Layer Privacy Protections With Cryptocurrencies

      Some of the emerging methods for deanonymizing users of cryptocurrencies stem from mapping network traffic to unveil IP addresses and making connections between identities. Privacy concerns around network-layer tracking by government surveillance programs and other avenues for unveiling identities across the Internet have led to several important developments to preserve privacy.

      The Tor Network and The Invisible Internet Project (I2P) are two of the leading overlay networks for users to protect their privacy over the public medium of the Internet. Other solutions include Mixnets, which are routing protocols using chained proxy servers to mix input messages.

    • 2019: The Push For Bad Faith, Loophole-Filled Privacy Legislation Begins

      We’ve talked at length about how the telecom industry has spent the last few years pushing phony, loophole-filled net neutrality legislation.

      Why would the telecom sector do that? They know their successful lobbying assault on net neutrality rules rests on shaky ground. Next month’s court battle could easily reverse the FCC repeal, highlighting how the agency engaged in all manner of dubious behavior to kowtow to the telecom sector. They also know that thanks to the shifting winds in Congress and rising public anger, there could soon be growing support for a net neutrality law. Therefore, they want to pass their own, shitty, loophole-filled law to pre-empt tougher, better, state or federal protections.

      The same thing is happening on the privacy front. Like the successful lobbyist attack on net neutrality, the cross-industry assault on the FCC’s fairly modest broadband privacy rules back in 2017 pissed off those who were actually paying attention to it. Especially because those rules could have helped mitigate the growing roster of location data scandals by giving consumers greater control over how their location data is collected and sold.

    • Most Facebook users don’t know that it records a list of their interests, new study finds

      Seventy-four percent of Facebook users are unaware that Facebook records a list of their interests for ad-targeting purposes, according to a new study from the Pew Institute.

    • Facebook Algorithms and Personal Data

      [...] But how well do Americans understand these algorithm-driven classification systems, and how much do they think their lives line up with what gets reported about them? As a window into this hard-to-study phenomenon, a new Pew Research Center survey asked a representative sample of users of the nation’s most popular social media platform, Facebook, to reflect on the data that had been collected about them. [...]

    • Most Users Still Don’t Know How Facebook Advertising Works

      In response to questions about its targeting practices, Facebook has said that anyone can use the platform’s ad preferences menu to see and control how Facebook has categorized them. But a new survey from Pew Research Center suggests that the vast majority of US users isn’t aware that Facebook tracks their interests and traits this way. When respondents found out, most said they were uncomfortable with the assumptions the social network had made.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • These Hungarian Students Are Fighting for Their Country’s Democracy

      One of the first things I learned, as an outsider who just came to Hungary this year, is that it is not just CEU that is under attack from Fidesz but all Hungarian universities and academic institutions. The Corvinus University of Economics is being privatized; the country’s textbook makers have all come under state control; the largest and best humanities university (called Eötvös Lorand University, or ELTE) in the country is being defunded; certain degrees (including my field, gender studies) have been banned; conferences on migration have been banned—and that is simply what has made it to press in the few Hungarian media outlets not controlled by strongmen of Orbán.

    • William Barr Is a Trojan Horse

      Compared to Brett Kavanaugh’s sullen, bombastic performance last September, this week’s Judiciary Committee hearing for William Barr, nominee for the post of attorney general, was almost a soporific affair. It was, in a way, a throwback to an age when nominees held in their rage and clotted grudges were not verbally vomited all over the conference table.

      Of course, nothing about the Barr hearing was humdrum because it took place within the context of the chaos presidency of Donald Trump. The stakes for this nomination — political, legal and constitutional — are as high as the tape measure can reach. At stake is the extent of presidential powers, the security of Robert Mueller’s ongoing collusion investigation and the eventual availability of his final report, the integrity of the office of the attorney general and the Justice Department at large, the care and feeding of the noxious carceral state, and freedom of the press.

      As far as surface performance goes, Barr comported himself as well as can be expected. No surprise there, as he has been through Senate confirmation hearings three times before, most notably when he was named to be George H.W. Bush’s attorney general at the ragged end of that administration. This was old hat for a veteran DC insider. The tableau of his family seated behind him – his librarian wife and three grown daughters, all lawyers, plus a grandson named Liam who ladled cuteness all over the proceedings – lent Barr an aura of stability, like some weathered old oak.

      Appearances are often deceiving, however, and beneath that respectable veneer lurked a man with strong ideas which would not sit well with a public that has spent two years enduring Trump’s tyranny of mayhem-enriched overreach. When you give your hand away at a poker table, it’s called a “tell.” Barr’s tell appeared on the occasions when he refused to give straight answers to serious questions.

      For most of the hearing, Barr gave very Republican answers to a wide variety of questions because he is very Republican, but did so quietly. The committee members by and large seemed to welcome this. Sen. Diane Feinstein’s line of questions on Tuesday essentially boiled down to asking him, “Do you promise to be awesome, please?” Barr said he would.

    • What We Learned From William Barr’s Confirmation Hearing

      Trump’s pick for attorney general signaled that his Justice Department will match the poor civil rights record of Jeff Sessions.

      On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned William Barr, President Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, on his views on the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference, the criminal justice system, and immigration. Senators also addressed other key issues — including privacy, marijuana, voting rights, abortion rights, and LGBTQ civil rights — in their questioning.

      While the ACLU does not take a position on nominations, we have raised concerns about his record, including his past work involving warrantless surveillance, mass incarceration, and civil liberties abuses.

    • State Duma refuses to resume cooperation with PACE, increasing chances that Russia could leave the Council of Europe

      Federal lawmakers in Russia say they are opposed to sending a delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for this year’s Winter Session in Strasbourg, rejecting an invitation from General Secretary Wojciech Sawicki.

      On January 17, at a plenary session of the State Duma, all four represented political parties endorsed an announcement refusing to resume cooperation with PACE until Russia’s voting rights are restored in the organization.

      According to the Duma’s statement, more than half the judges now working in the European Court of Human Rights were elected without the participation of a Russian PACE delegation, “calling into question the legitimacy of the ECHR’s rulings related to Russia.”

    • The FBI Says Its Photo Analysis Is Scientific Evidence. Scientists Disagree.

      At the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, a team of about a half-dozen technicians analyzes pictures down to their pixels, trying to determine if the faces, hands, clothes or cars of suspects match images collected by investigators from cameras at crime scenes.

      The unit specializes in visual evidence and facial identification, and its examiners can aid investigations by making images sharper, revealing key details in a crime or ruling out potential suspects.

      But the work of image examiners has never had a strong scientific foundation, and the FBI’s endorsement of the unit’s findings as trial evidence troubles many experts and raises anew questions about the role of the FBI Laboratory as a standard-setter in forensic science.

      FBI examiners have tied defendants to crime pictures in thousands of cases over the past half-century using unproven techniques, at times giving jurors baseless statistics to say the risk of error was vanishingly small. Much of the legal foundation for the unit’s work is rooted in a 22-year-old comparison of bluejeans. Studies on several photo comparison techniques, conducted over the last decade by the FBI and outside scientists, have found they are not reliable.

    • Our Pointless, Very American Culture of Shame

      Puritanism’s obsession with guilt and shame, Nathaniel Hawthorne believed, was America’s original sin. We haven’t made much progress since “The Scarlet Letter.”

      Do the crime do the time, goes the cliché. In the United States, when the time ends the shaming begins.

      It starts when you look for a job. At least 65% of Americans have a felony or misdemeanor criminal record that makes them ineligible to work for the more than 90% of companies who run background checks to weed out applicants with a record. As for the few ex-cons who slip through this electronic dragnet, they are required by shaming laws to tell prospective employers about their checkered past. (Some states have slightly liberalized the requirement with laws like New York’s “Ban the Box” law, which requires disclosure only at the job offer stage.)

      The only social benefit to convict-shaming is the shaming itself. “The irony is that employers’ attempts to safeguard the workplace are not only barring many people who pose little to no risk, but they also are compromising public safety. As studies have shown, providing individuals the opportunity for stable employment actually lowers crime recidivism rates and thus increases public safety,” notes a 2011 report by the National Employment Law Project. But capitalism is dog-eat-dog. Each company looks out for itself, society be damned.

      I dug into the issue of convict-shaming after an op-ed I wrote for the Wall Street Journal calling for automatic expungement of records of people previously convicted of buying recreational marijuana in amounts that would now be legal prompted a discussion online. Some readers agreed with me that it’s absurd to keep punishing people for acts that are now legal. Others felt that if it was a crime at the time a criminal is still a criminal.

      In most countries most employers do not conduct criminal background checks and there is no legal or ethical expectation that ex-cons reveal that they have committed a crime.

      A person is convicted, sentenced to prison time and/or to pay a fine, serves the term and coughs up the money. Isn’t there a logical contradiction between release—which assumes an inmate no longer presents a danger to society—and public shaming? I am thinking of one of the most extreme examples of convict-shaming, Megan’s Law. Based on the false assumption that sex offenders have a high rate of recidivism, these statutes require that released inmates register in a database and notify local police and their neighbors of their address.

    • The Wall Already Exists — In Our Hearts and Minds

      My favorite album of all time is Pink Floyd’s The Wall. It should be re-released given the current (manufactured) crisis. I’m not surprised that Roger Waters is planning a show on the border to protest Trump’s continued government shutdown over funding for an ill-defined barrier that has come to represent everything wrong with his presidency: lies, false promises, fear, racism, and simplistic solutions.

      It’s important to emphasize that the wall is more symbol than reality. Setting aside the fact that the nearly-2,000-mile border is already teeming with armed men and barriers of various kinds, a Trumpian “wall” already exists: the (abstract) wall that blocks many Americans from seeing migrants from Central America and Mexico as people just like them.

      While Trump was rightly condemned for misappropriating the Game of Thrones slogan “Winter Is Coming” by taking the font and changing it to “The Wall Is Coming,” the underlying analogy is eerily correct. Although — spoiler alert — the (mythical) wall is destroyed by undead invaders (who only advance during winter) at the end of the show’s last season, for thousands of years it served to separate the living not only from the undead but also from each other. In a reversal of reality, those living south of the wall disparaged the northerners as “wildlings,” portraying them as amoral, violent, and uncivilized, while the northerners denounced their southern brethren for their cloistered arrogance. Sound familiar?

    • Government Mistakenly Wanted to Deport U.S. Veteran, Says ACLU

      A Marine veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder was held for three days for possible deportation before federal authorities learned that he was a U.S. citizen born in Michigan, lawyers said Wednesday.

      Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, 27, lives in the Grand Rapids area. He was released on Dec. 17 from a detention center in Calhoun County after personal records were provided to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

      “Why did they think he was a noncitizen? Did they get him confused with someone else? Who knows,” ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman said. “This is an individual who’s incredibly vulnerable with a mental illness.”

      ICE released a statement Wednesday evening saying Ramos-Gomez told its officers he was “a foreign national illegally present in the U.S,” and the agency took him into custody on Dec. 14. ICE said it released him three days later after receiving documentation suggesting he was a U.S. citizen.

    • Haiti’s Forgotten Women and Children

      I lived in Haiti in 2010, arriving six weeks after the January earthquake. I initially worked at a children’s hospital, where I was assigned to a ward full of toddlers, all but one of whom were female, most of them abandoned. I was to change diapers, feed and bathe the children, and do whatever else the staff nurses needed.

      On my third day, a woman from an American nongovernmental organization (NGO) came to our wing and ordered the Haitian nurses about in a troubling manner. She instructed them to prepare the children for photo shoots. She then walked through the ward as a photographer clicked away, while she picked up children and pulled every Princess Diana pose in the book.

      I was disturbed by this scene, as were the nurses, who told me that they could not ask this woman to stop, for fear of losing their jobs. So I intervened and reminded her that she was violating U.N. regulations regarding the safety and privacy of the children. The woman explained that she planned to use these pictures as promotional material for her orphanage in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I reminded her again that these children were considered refugees and that she had no right to take their photos. Long story short, that was the shortest-lived job I ever had. I was shown the door two hours later.

    • Steve King Stands for Everything MLK Fought Against

      If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive, he would have turned 90 years old on Tuesday. Instead, he was felled by an assassin’s bullet that terrible day, April 4, 1968. After a long-fought struggle, his birthday was finally celebrated as a national holiday in 1986. Many states, from New Hampshire to South Carolina to Arizona and beyond, delayed implementing the holiday, exposing the intractability of institutional racism.

      Another King was in the news on MLK Jr.’s birthday this week: Steve King, a racist Republican congressman from Iowa. This King added to his extensive record of racist comments by telling The New York Times last week, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization – how did that language become offensive?” Commenting on the diversity of the new 116th Congress, he added, “You could look over there and think the Democratic Party is no country for white men.” His remarks have sparked a backlash from his own party, which stripped him of his committee assignments. Some Republican members of Congress, along with many Democratic members, are calling on him to resign, as are the editorial boards of prominent Iowa newspapers.

      The House of Representatives, under Democratic control, passed a resolution — on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday — rejecting “White nationalism and White supremacy as hateful expressions of intolerance.” It mentioned Steve King’s comments to The New York Times, but did not expressly condemn him or his words. The resolution passed by a vote of 424-1. Steve King himself voted for the resolution.

    • Iran Newspapers, Minister Criticize U.S. Arrest of Newscaster

      Iran kept up its criticism Thursday of the FBI’s apparent arrest of an American anchorwoman from Iran’s state-run English-language TV channel, with its foreign minister saying “she’s done nothing but journalism.”

      The hard-line Vatan-e Emrooz paper criticized the detention of Press TV’s Marzieh Hashemi as “Saudi-style behavior with a critical journalist.” That’s a reference to the Oct. 2 assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

      Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Press TV that “we have a right to continue to look after her interests” as Hashemi, born Melanie Franklin in New Orleans, also holds Iranian citizenship.

    • Blogger outside Khabarovsk is arrested after sharing video that allegedly shows cops attending a mobster’s funeral

      On January 8, reputed mobster Yuri Zarubin was laid to rest in the town of Amursk, about 150 miles outside Khabarovsk. That same day, Twitter user Mikhail Svetlov shared footage of the funeral procession, recorded by a local woman. Svetlov claims the ceremony blocked road traffic (though the woman who filmed the procession says this isn’t true). A few minutes after this content went up on Twitter, a user named VictorKvert2008 wrote that Zarubin’s pallbearers allegedly included the city’s district attorney and the chief of police. According to the news agency Rosbalt, another Amursk resident wrote online about the funeral and planned to share his own footage of police officers participating in the procession, but he decided not to publish the video, after threats from the authorities.

    • What About Open Borders?

      There are things that go unquestioned in the national discussion. Because this is a country wrapped in fear and self-importance, the basic, unchallenged premise determining how we behave, how we spend our money, is that we need to protect ourselves . . . from The Enemy.

      There’s always an enemy lurking at the core of our fear that is simplistic and human. The “enemy” is not, for instance, global warming, except in an abstract and basically meaningless sense, the defeat of which would require a collective global effort. Nor is the enemy nuclear disaster or accident, which could be addressed by (heaven forbid) disarmament.

      Such solutions have enormous complexities, of course, but these complexities are not part of the national conversation, let alone the actions of government. Instead, we choose to arm—that is, to simplify—our fears, via bloated military budgets and, as is now becoming overly apparent in the age of Donald Trump, turning our “border” into a sacred fetish.

    • House Subcommittee Report Highlights ‘Culture Of Fear And Retaliation’ In Federal Prisons

      Wardens and other senior officials in the federal prison system engage in gross misconduct, avoid consequences by disrupting investigations and disciplinary proceedings, and encourage a “culture of fear and retaliation,” according to a report from a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

      The deep-seated abuses documented in the report [PDF] have appeared in other government oversight records going back to at least 2004, yet according to the report, “the culture apparently remains.” That culture may impact some efforts to bring relief to federal prisoners via reforms like the First Step Act, which will be implemented this year.

      The report was submitted during the last Congress by Republicans on the Subcommittee on National Security and is dated January 2, 2019.

      “These measures of protection have given management at many [Bureau of Prisons (BOP)] facilities a disturbing level of impunity,” the report states.

      The subcommittee found 12 complaints against five wardens that were opened and closed on a single day. Complaints against senior staff included assaults on prisoners, falsifying records, creating a hostile work environment, embezzlement, harassment, and retaliation. None of the people who lodged complaints were notified of their outcome.

      Misconduct was “largely tolerated or ignored altogether.” The names of specific facilities and personnel were not published in the report.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC Wants Delay In Net Neutrality Trial Due To Government Shutdown, But Isn’t Likely To Get It

      Again, this legal fight is going to be very interesting to watch, as it’s the first time the FCC will have to defend the various bizarre behaviors it engaged in during the repeal, including making up a DDOS attack (apparently to concoct an alternative explanation for the outrage-driven FCC website outage), blocking FOIA and law enforcement inquiries into those bogus comments the FCC refused to do anything about, or why its flimsy justifications for the repeal were pushed in perfect synchronicity with big telecom lobbyists.

      If you were staring down the barrel of that particular gun, you’d probably want a delay too. Should the FCC lose, the agency’s 2015 rules could be restored. If it wins, the FCC and its friends in the telecom sector need to find a way to prevent some future FCC or Congress from simply passing new rules, which is why they’ve been pushing bogus net neutrality laws even Congress hasn’t been dumb enough to buy into quite yet. Get your popcorn ready.

  • DRM
    • Why Does Everyone Else Want To Stop Netflix Password Sharing, When Netflix Is Fine With It?

      Except, that assumes that everyone using a shared password would otherwise buy, which is ludicrous. And, again, the companies whose actual existence depends on this, both insist that it’s not having any impact, other than acting as free marketing for them to later sign people up long term. Incredibly, the reporter at the Independent includes that bogus “study” and other quotes about how password sharing is “too expensive to ignore,” but doesn’t bother to check to see HBO or Netflix’s opinion of whether or not this is actually a problem.

      It really is a shame that so many people automatically default to the idea that people sharing access to content must automatically be “a problem” that must be “stopped.” The companies who dominate this space don’t see it as a problem, and just because some company’s PR team got the ear of a reporter, that doesn’t change reality.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • The FTC has rested its likely-winning case with a final hand grenade destroying a Qualcomm mantra

      Yesterday (Tuesday, January 15) was Day 6 of the FTC v. Qualcomm antitrust trial in San Jose (Northern District of California), which will continue in Judge Lucy H. Koh’s court on Friday, January 18.

      When FTC lead counsel Jennifer Milici said “Your Honor, the FTC rests its case,” you could have heard a pin drop even if there had been thousands of people in the audience, provided that all of them would have been reasonably knowledgeable. That’s because seconds before that procedural notice, former Qualcomm licensing president Marvin Blecker had been confronted, in a videotaped deposition, with an internal email in which a colleague confirmed to him that Qualcomm’s chip division had actually held product shipments to a customer who had not yet accepted Qualcomm’s license terms.

      It had been Qualcomm’s mantra all the time that they had never actually carried out the “No License-No Chips” threat against existing customers. They couldn’t deny that they wouldn’t accept a new customer prior to taking a license from them. And an Apple witness said that after Apple sued Qualcomm (in January 2017), Qualcomm refused to even discuss a potential 5G product partnership with Apple. But again, Qualcomm’s lawyers had over and over again–you could set your watch by them–elicited testimony from current and former Qualcommm executives that the company had never carried out the threat of holding chipset shipments to an existing customer due to disagreements on licensing.

      In the seconds before resting its case, the FTC made them all look like…well, I don’t want to use the harsh words that I actually think would be warranted here, so let me just call them “unreliable witnesses and lawyers you better don’t trust in this context.”

    • Copyrights
      • Nearly 100 European Authors Demand ‘Proportionate’ Remuneration In EU Copyright Directive

        With negotiations for the European Union Copyright Directive apparently approaching an end, a group of some 95 screenwriters and directors joined the intensive lobbying efforts with a letter today urging that a principle of “proportionate” remuneration to them be enshrined. The letter spells out several elements they argue are key to ensuring European audiovisual authors are able to “make a living from our craft and creativity.”

      • The EU’s Copyright Directive Charm Offensive Pats Europeans On the Head and Tells Them Leave it Up to the Corporations

        In a new Q&A about the Directive, the European Parliament – or rather, the JURI committee, which, headed by Axel Voss, spearheaded the shepherding of Article 13 and 11 through a skeptical Parliament, sets out a one-sided account of the most far-reaching regulation of online speech in living memory, insisting that “online platforms and news aggregators are reaping all the rewards while artists, news publishers and journalists see their work circulate freely, at best receiving very little remuneration for it.”

        The author of JURI’s press release is right about one thing: artists are increasingly struggling to make a living, but not because the wrong corporations are creaming off the majority of revenue that their work generates. For example, streaming music companies hand billions to music labels, but only pennies reach the artists. Meanwhile, a handful of giant companies make war with one another over which ones will get to keep the spoils of creators’ works. In a buyers’ market, sellers get a worse deal, and when there are only five major publishers and four record labels and five Internet giants, almost everyone is a seller in a buyers’ market.

      • Poland, Take Action Now: Tell Negotiators to Oppose Article 13 and 11

        (Almost) everybody hates these ideas. Not only have four million Europeans signed a petition opposing the Directive’s passage in the current form; it has also been roundly condemned by Europe’s largest movie companies and sports leagues and the Internet’s most esteemed technical experts, including the Father of the Internet Vint Cerf, and the inventor of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

      • Sweden — and You! — Can Save the Internet from the Copyright Directive
      • Luxembourg: Save the Internet from the Copyright Directive
      • Belgium: Say No To Article 13 and 11
      • Germans Can Help Save the Internet from the Copyright Directive!

        Write to Germany’s EU Negotiators and say No to Article 13 and 11

        We had hoped that the EU and national government negotiators would delete Article 13, the “censorship machines” rule that requires online platforms to hand their users’ videos, texts, audio and images to black-box machine learning filters that would unilaterally decide whether these infringed copyright and thus whether they would be censored or allowed to be published.

        Instead, the current text goes to enormous lengths to obscure its mandate for AI filters. The new language says that filters “should be” avoided, and that companies can escape liability if they use “best practices” to fight infringement. But the rule also says that the limitation of liability doesn’t apply where there is “economic harm”—meaning that a user has any commercial content—and it also requires “notice and staydown,” which means that once a platform has been notified that a given file infringes copyright, it must prevent all of its users from ever posting that content again.

      • Google Shows What Google News Looks Like If Article 11 Passes In The EU Copyright Directive

        While much of the focus concerning the EU’s Copyright Directive have been about Article 13 and the censorship and mandatory filters it will require, an equally troubling part is Article 11, which will create a “snippet” tax on anyone who aggregates news and sends traffic back to the original sites (for free) without paying those news sites. This is dumb for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is that this plan has been tried in both Germany and Spain, and failed miserably in both places. Indeed, studies in Spain showed that this law actually did tremendous harm to smaller news sites (which the EU insists this law is designed to help). The latest version we’ve seen in the EU Copyright Directive is even worse than the laws in Germany and Spain in that it is so vague and so unclear that it is possible to read them to say that using more than a single word will make the aggregator liable for the tax.

        In Spain, as you may recall, when that law was passed, Google responded by turning off Google News in Spain entirely, saying that it was impossible to remain in the country under that law. As they noted (and which everyone pushing for these laws always ignores), Google actually doesn’t put any advertisements on Google News. It’s not monetizing it (despite lies from supporters of these laws that Google is “profiting” off of their work, when Google is actually sending traffic for free). So there were some questions about what Google would do with Google News in Europe if Article 11 becomes law.

      • Vimeo ‘Fined’ €8.5m For Failure to Remove Copyrighted TV Content

        Vimeo has been ordered to pay Italian broadcasting giant €8.5m in compensation after failing to take down copyrighted TV shows. The Rome Court of Appeals also ordered the US-based video service to prevent future uploads of the content or face 1,000 or euros in fines for each offense.

      • Star Wars Theory’s “Vader” Fan Film Hit With Copyright Claim (Update)

        A ‘Vader’ fan film published by the “Star Wars Theory” YouTube channel has been hit with a copyright claim. While the channel’s owner was told that he could not monetize the production, the video is now running ads for Warner/Chappell, which owns the rights to the original Star Wars theme music. The issue angered many Star Wars fans but the music publisher doesn’t plan to back down.

      • Rightsholders Call for Suspension of Article 13

        A group of prominent representatives of the audiovisual and sports sectors, including the MPA and the Premier League, are calling for a suspension of the current Article 13 negotiations. The companies suggest that a case currently before the EU Court of Justice may give them a ‘better deal’ than the copyright reform proposal.

      • EU Copyright Directive to Turn Google into Ghost Town

        The EU Copyright Directive has made a lot of waves lately given that many fear that some of its provisions will lead to increased censorship, with almost 4.5 million Europeans signing a petition to stop Article 13.

        This article was the one that attracted almost everyone’s attention seeing that it will require large online platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to always keep an eye out on what their users are uploading and block all copyrighted items such as videos, images, and text.

        The other controversial article part of the EU Copyright Directive is Article 11, a provision which will force news aggregators to pay the copyright holders a fee for every news item they link to.

        Google, one of the most heated critics of the two provisions, is now testing a new search engine results page (SERP) template where the EU Copyright Directive is applied to the listed search results “to understand what the impact of the proposed EU Copyright Directive would be to our users and publisher partners,” according to Search Engine Land.

US Patent Lawyers Will Need to Change Profession or End up Becoming Abundantly Redundant, Unemployed

Thursday 17th of January 2019 11:04:50 AM

Last year: Number of US Patent Lawsuits Was More Than 50% Higher Half a Decade Ago

Summary: In the age of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) and 35 U.S.C. § 101 it’s too risky to sue with dodgy patents; moreover, the Federal Circuit‘s growing adoption of Alice means that no recent cases have given hope to patent maximalists and litigation frequency has fallen again (at double-digit rates)

FOR THOSE who still wonder why we don’t write much about the USPTO anymore (we still cover EPO affairs), it’s to do with the decline of patent litigation in the US. It seems to still accelerate though anti-PTAB front groups continue to cherry-pick numbers and pretend that the Office can influence courts; it’s the other way around [1, 2].

“Over the past few years many such shops have shut down or have been taken over/merged. The father of patent trolling died along with his ‘business’ and the world’s biggest troll, Intellectual Ventures, is shedding off ‘assets’.”We’ve taken note of the demise of the litigation capital in Texas and currently the European Patent Office is failing to create an alternative to it in Europe (the UPC is failing). After litigation had already fallen sharply (it used to be a half higher half a decade ago, i.e. around the time of Alice) we learned that as per the “Docket Navigator database on January 14, some 3,600 cases were filed in 2018 – down 11.5%,” as Managing IP put it. It’s pretty clear that the patent litigation ‘industry’ has collapsed in the US. It’s good for people who actually make/innovate stuff; not so good for litigators and trolls. Over the past few years many such shops have shut down or have been taken over/merged. The father of patent trolling died along with his ‘business’ and the world’s biggest troll, Intellectual Ventures, is shedding off ‘assets’. If we don’t cover US patents as much as we did last year, this is why. So far this week Watchtroll has already attacked both SCOTUS and PTAB. It also liaised with IBM for some more software patents propaganda, reaffirming our fears for Red Hat's fate.

Links 16/1/2019: Deepin 15.9 Released and Mozilla Fenix

Wednesday 16th of January 2019 11:59:34 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Linux Tools: The Meaning of Dot

    Let’s face it: writing one-liners and scripts using shell commands can be confusing. Many of the names of the tools at your disposal are far from obvious in terms of what they do (grep, tee and awk, anyone?) and, when you combine two or more, the resulting “sentence” looks like some kind of alien gobbledygook.

    None of the above is helped by the fact that many of the symbols you use to build a chain of instructions can mean different things depending on their context.

  • Desktop
    • Entroware Unleash Hades, A Powerful Linux Workstation

      British Linux computer company Entroware has unveiled its latest Linux-powered offering — and it’s something of a beast!

      The Entroware Hades is the company’s first workstation PC to offer AMD processors and multi-GPU configurations.

      The base model comes equipped with an octa-core AMD Ryzen 1900X, Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 (2GB) and 16GB RAM and a 120GB SSD.

    • Introducing The Elementary OS 5 Linux Community Challenge

      The basic premise of the elementary OS Challenge is simple: ditch Windows, macOS or your current Linux OS of choice and exclusively use elementary OS 5 Juno as your daily driver for two weeks. Explore the curated AppCenter and the bundled software to get all of your working and playing done. For email, for music, for coding, for gaming, for whatever.

      We’ll be taking this journey together, which hopefully means a two-way conversation to discuss the successes, discoveries, questions and potential stumbling blocks we encounter along the way.

    • Purism Upgrades Librem 13 And 15 Linux Laptops Without Raising The Price

      Purism also adopts coreboot, an open source replacement for a PC’s traditional (and proprietary) BIOS, thus diminishing the risk for certain security flaws. It also serves to better compliment PureOS, the company’s own Linux distribution which it bills as a “fully auditable operating system.”

    • CTL Announces $300 Rugged Chromebook Tablet for the Education Market

      The Chromebook Tablet (seriously though, why can’t get rid of the “book” in that title?) education revolution is here. Acer started it, ASUS got in on it, and now CTL is getting in the game. Here’s the skinny.

      You’d be forgiven if your first thought was “…who is CTL?,” because honestly, they’re not as well known as some of the other companies that are active in the Chrome OS market. Still, they make some fantastic Chromebooks and Chromeboxes (see, we don’t say “Chromebook Desktop,” so why aren’t they called Chrometabs?) designed to be more robust than the average Chrome OS device.

    • Chrome OS will soon let you search for and install Linux apps from the launcher

      We’ve talked a lot about Chrome OS‘ ability to install various Linux applications. From supporting the ability to install Debian packages to some kernel modules being backported so that older Chrome OS devices can support Linux apps. There has been a lot of activity in this area in the last 12 months. This added support is a big deal for a lot of people with some saying it’s the biggest change to Chrome OS since the added support of Android apps. Now, some new details have been discovered that suggest Chrome OS will soon let you search for and install these supported Linux apps directly from the launcher.

    • Chrome OS Launcher May Soon Be Able To Search For And Install Linux Apps

      The entire Crostini (Linux apps on Chromebooks) effort has moved along quite quickly when you think about it. In just 6 short months, we’ve gone from not having an official option for Linux apps (though Crouton is and was an amazing effort) to seeing a majority of Chromebooks gain baked-in access to Linux on Chrome OS.

      While we’re still eagerly awaiting a few big, missing features (audio and GPU acceleration), the core pieces are falling into place quite nicely and many users are already finding great workflows with their favorite Linux apps on Chrome OS.

    • Chrome OS may let users find new Linux apps from the App Launcher

      Chrome OS has always been based on Linux, but with its new beta support for Linux apps, the system has been opened to a wealth of powerful new applications otherwise inaccessible. The problem is, unless you’re already a Linux guru, you likely have no idea what those Linux apps are. Google is looking to fix this by making Linux apps you can install discoverable from the Chrome OS app launcher.

      In a new commit posted last night to Chromium’s Gerrit source code management, we see our first signs of returning behavior for Chrome OS’s app launcher. From the handy search tool, you will be able to search for Linux apps beyond just the ones you already have installed.

    • Chrome OS may allow Linux software to be installed from the launcher

      Chrome Story discovered a commit on the Chromium repo which adds the ability to search for and install Linux packages from the Chrome OS launcher. The bug tracker description reads, “Add APT search into Chrome OS App Launcher, so that uninstalled Linux packages and Apps can be searched for and installed via the App launcher.” The feature doesn’t appear to be live on Chrome OS Canary yet, but the flag will be called #crostini-app-search.

  • Server
    • Using Linux containers to analyze the impact of climate change and soil on New Zealand crops

      New Zealand’s economy is dependent on agriculture, a sector that is highly sensitive to climate change. This makes it critical to develop analysis capabilities to assess its impact and investigate possible mitigation and adaptation options. That analysis can be done with tools such as agricultural systems models. In simple terms, it involves creating a model to quantify how a specific crop behaves under certain conditions then simulating altering a few variables to see how that behavior changes. Some of the software available to do this includes CropSyst from Washington State University and the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia.

    • MAAS 2.5 : Growing the ecosystem and support for KVM micro-clouds

      Our latest release makes for a very exciting point in the MAAS evolution. As datacenter (DC) infrastructure grows at unparalleled scale fueled by new applications and services such as connected autonomous cars, augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) and IoT, the need for automated bare metal provisioning has never been more important. Multi-access edge computing and the ongoing shift to 5G will continue to drive cloud architectures ranging from small clusters deployed at actual radio towers all the way to thousands of nodes running in core data centres.

      The agility and speed of discovering, allocating and also repurposing bare-metal servers will be crucial to new services and an automated physical infrastructure lifecycle management. MAAS 2.5 brings new capabilities and improvements to how this can be achieved in a repeatable and reliable way.

    • Container Storage Interface (CSI) for Kubernetes GA

      The Kubernetes implementation of the Container Storage Interface (CSI) has been promoted to GA in the Kubernetes v1.13 release. Support for CSI was introduced as alpha in Kubernetes v1.9 release, and promoted to beta in the Kubernetes v1.10 release.

      The GA milestone indicates that Kubernetes users may depend on the feature and its API without fear of backwards incompatible changes in future causing regressions. GA features are protected by the Kubernetes deprecation policy.

    • Happy Birthday, Chef!

      With Chef, you can automate the way your infrastructure is configured, deployed, and managed. When you’re operating with a single machine, configuration management can be fairly simple. But what happens when your organization scales up? That’s where Chef comes in and saves the day — and a whole lot more.

      Chef ensures your configurations are standardized and continuously enforced in every environment and at any scale. It allows your infrastructure configurations to be testable, portable, and auditable, saving your organization time and monetary resources. You could say Chef is a superhero with all the saving it does.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Foundation
      • Yahoo Japan and EMQ X Join the OpenMessaging Project

        The OpenMessaging project welcomes Yahoo Japan and EMQ X as new members.

        We are excited to announce two new members to the OpenMessaging project: Yahoo Japan, one of the largest portal sites in Japan, and EMQ X, one of the most popular MQTT message middleware vendors. Yahoo Japan and EMQ X join Alibaba,, China Mobile Cloud, Qing Cloud, and other community members to form a standards community with 13 corporation members.

        OpenMessaging is a standards project for messaging and streaming technology. Messaging and Streaming products have been widely used in modern architecture and data processing, for decoupling, queuing, buffering, ordering, replicating, etc. But when data transfers across different messaging and streaming platforms, compatibility problems arise, which always means much additional work. The OpenMessaging community looks to eliminate these challenges through creating a global, cloud-oriented, vendor-neutral industry standard for distributed messaging.

      • The Linux Foundation Announces 2019 Events Schedule

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced its 2019 events schedule. Linux Foundation events are where the creators, maintainers and practitioners of the world’s most important open source projects meet. In 2018, Linux Foundation events attracted more than 32,000 developers, architects, community thought leaders, business executives and other industry professionals from more than 11,000 organizations across 113 countries. New events hosted by the Linux Foundation for 2019 include Cephalocon and gRPC Conf.

    • Graphics Stack
      • AMDVLK Weekly Code Drop Brings A DXVK Fix, VK_EXT_debug_utils Support

        AMD developers maintaining their official Vulkan driver have carried out another weekly code push to the open-source AMDVLK code-base.

        Overall the changes for this week’s worth of AMD Radeon Vulkan driver changes is fairly small, but there is a DXVK fix, one new Vulkan extension wired up, and a lot of low-level driver work.

      • NVIDIA 415.27 Linux Driver Released With GeForce RTX 2060 Support

        With NVIDIA today officially shipping the GeForce RTX 2060 as the new $349 USD Turing graphics card, the 415.27 Linux driver was released today to officially support this new graphics card.

        The GeForce RTX 2060 actually works with former 415 driver series releases, but would just be identified as a NVIDIA “Device” as opposed to the GeForce RTX 2060. The product string is now in this driver plus any other small tweaks to officially support this lowest-cost RTX Turing graphics card to date.

      • Mesa 18.3.2 release candidate

        The candidate for the Mesa 18.3.2 is now available. Currently we have:
        – 78 queued
        – 3 nominated (outstanding)
        – and 0 rejected patches

      • Mesa 18.3.2 Is Finally En Route With 78+ Changes

        It’s been more than a month since the debut of Mesa 18.3 and the emergency 18.3.1 release while due the holidays and the release manager being sick, the next point release fell off the tracks. Mesa 18.3.2 is now being crafted and should be out in the next few days. Given the time since the previous release, Mesa 18.3.2 is heavy on fixes.

        Emil Velikov announced the release today of Mesa 18.3.2 RC1 and plans for officially releasing this point update in the next day or two. This release candidate has 78 patches queued over the prior update.

      • Khronos Exploring New Industry Standard For Heterogeneous Communications

        From VR to autonomous vehicles to edge computing, The Khronos Group continues working on new industry standards for today’s expanding compute landscape. Today the organization announced they are soliciting industry feedback and creating an exploratory group for a new, open industry standard around High Performance Embedded Computing (HPEC).

      • Broadcom’s V3D Gallium Driver Picks Up New Features Ahead Of Mesa 19.0

        Lead VC4/V3D driver developer Eric Anholt of Broadcom has landed a batch of improvements to the next-generation V3D driver in Mesa 19.0.

        The latest round of work that was merged on Monday evening include SSBO / atomic counters support, support for the ARB_framebuffer_no_attachments OpenGL extension, support for more compute shader intrinsics, and other items.

      • AMDGPU Changes Begin Queueing Ahead Of Linux 5.1 Kernel Cycle

        The drm-next-5.1-wip branch has been created by open-source AMD developers as they begin vetting the changes they plan to submit to DRM-Next for inclusion in the Linux 5.1 kernel cycle when it kicks off around the start of March.

        With it just being over one week since the Linux 5.0 merge window ended and with this branch having just been setup the other day, there are just over 100 changes so far in this proving grounds for Linux 5.1 AMDGPU though nothing really dramatic.

    • Benchmarks
      • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760/960/1060 / RTX 2060 Linux Gaming & Compute Performance

        The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 is shipping today as the most affordable Turing GPU option to date at $349 USD. Last week we posted our initial GeForce RTX 2060 Linux review and followed-up with more 1080p and 1440p Linux gaming benchmarks after having more time with the card. In this article is a side-by-side performance comparison of the GeForce RTX 2060 up against the GTX 1060 Pascal, GTX 960 Maxwell, and GTX 760 Kepler graphics cards. Not only are we looking at the raw OpenGL, Vulkan, and OpenCL/CUDA compute performance between these four generations, but also the power consumption and performance-per-Watt.

      • 10GbE Linux Networking Performance Between CentOS, Fedora, Clear Linux & Debian

        For those curious how the 10 Gigabit Ethernet performance compares between current Linux distributions, here are some benchmarks we ramp up more 10GbE Linux/BSD/Windows benchmarks. This round of testing was done on two distinctly different servers while testing CentOS, Debian, Clear Linux, and Fedora.

        This is the first of several upcoming 10GbE test comparisons. For those article we are testing some of the popular enterprise Linux distributions while follow-up articles will also be looking at some other distros as well as Windows Server and FreeBSD/DragonFlyBSD. CentOS 7, Debian 9.6, Clear Linux rolling, and Fedora Server 29 were the operating systems tested for this initial round.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Essential System Tools: Krusader – KDE file manager

        This is the latest in our series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems. The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For this article, we’ll look at Krusader, a free and open source graphical file manager. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table at the summary page of this article.

        Krusader is an advanced, twin-panel (commander-style) file manager designed for KDE Plasma. Krusader also runs on other popular Linux desktop environments such as GNOME.

        Besides comprehensive file management features, Krusader is almost completely customizable, fast, seamlessly handles archives, and offers a huge feature set.

      • Plasma ergonomics – Lessons in life

        The bugsy trends aren’t unique to Plasma – this is the desktop all over. The agile thingie, the curse of quality and usability everywhere. Even looking at something like Windows, there are far more annoyances in Windows 8.1 than there were in Windows 7, and then a whole order of magnitude more still in Windows 10. These could be seemingly small things – and there sure ain’t enough testing to begin with – but they can mean a world to the end user. And if Plasma wants to be top dog, it needs to do everything better than the competition. Today, I uncovered a fresh handful issues, and that’s just a couple of extra months of rigorous usage. It will be interesting to see what happens a year or two down the road. Well, my Plasma journey continues. Stay tuned.

      • KDE Students Excel during Google Code-in 2018

        After many years of successful Google Code-in participation, this year we did it again! KDE attracted a number of students with exciting tasks for their eager young minds.

        Google Code-in is a program for pre-university students aged from 13 to 17 and sponsored by Google Open Source. KDE has always worked to get new people involved in Free and open source (FOSS) projects with the aim of making the world a better place.

        This year was no different. Our students worked very hard, and some of them already have their contributions committed to the KDE codebase!

        We designed tasks in a way that made them exciting for all students. Students who were not skilled in programming took on tasks of writing blogs or documentation. To help students who had no experience with FOSS or with the community, we set up introductory tasks for IRC and mailing lists, both of which are essential in FOSS as communication channels.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME 3.32 Desktop to Feature a Revamped Theme, Beta Coming Early February

        The GNOME Project is currently working hard on the next major release of their beloved desktop environment for Linux-based operating system, GNOME 3.32, due for release in Spring 2019, and they recently unveiled some changes to the default theme.

        GNOME’s Matthias Clasen talks in his latest blog article about some of the theme changes coming to the GTK+ 3 toolkit, which is the core of the GNOME desktop environment, revealing the fact that the upcoming GNOME 3.32 desktop environment would feature a revamped default Adwaita theme with more modernized elements.

        It’s been a while since GNOME’s default theme Adwaita saw some changes since it was completely revamped and modernized three years ago as part of the GNOME 3.16 series, but Clasen explains that it is a challenge to update Adwaita as most GTK+ apps are still using the stable GTK+ 3.x series and any major change could cause issues.

      • GNOME’s New GTK Theme is Ready for Testing

        Cast your minds back to December and, amid all the baubles and wrapping paper, you may recall us sharing some screenshots of a refreshed version of the Adwaita GTK theme, used by GNOME.

        Now, GNOME’s Matthias Clasen has spilled the beans on the refresh. In a post on the GTK blog Clasen reveals plans to test the improved Adwaita theme over the next three weeks and gather feedback on the changes.

        He describes the refresh as a ‘limited set of theme changes’, and moots their inclusion in a future GTK 3 release (feedback dependant).

  • Distributions
    • Blue Collar Linux: Something Borrowed, Something New

      Sometimes it takes more than a few tweaks to turn an old-style desktop design into a fresh new Linux distribution. That is the case with the public release of Blue Collar Linux.

      “The guidance and design were shaped by real people — blue collar people,” Blue Collar developer Steven A. Auringer told LinuxInsider. “Think useful and guided by Joe and Jane Whitebread in Suburbia.”

      Blue Collar Linux has been under development for the last four years. Until its public release this week, it has circulated only through an invitation for private use by the developer’s family, friends and associates looking for an alternative to the Windows nightmare.

    • Testing openSUSE, Manjaro, Debian, Fedora, and Mint Linux distributions on my new laptop

      Due to the recent unfortunate demise of a couple of my computers I found myself in need of a new laptop on rather short notice. I found an Acer Aspire 5 on sale at about half price here in Switzerland, so I picked one up. I have been installing a number of Linux distributions on it, with mostly positive results.

    • Reviews
      • Netrunner 19.01 Blackbird overview | The Bird has landed

        In this video, I am going to show an overview of Netrunner 19.01 Blackbird and some of the applications pre-installed.

      • What’s New in MX Linux 18 Continuum

        MX Linux 18 codename Continuum has been released, this release features Xfce 4.12 as default environment include xfce4 component, based on Debian 9.6 scratch and powered by Linux Kernel 4.19 series, which means that it offers support for the latest hardware components available on the market.

        MX Tools graphical tool to make user easy to access most system tasks was improved. selectable themes for installed system grub boot menu and Plymouth boot-splash via MX-boot-options, system-keyboard and system-locale options allow easy access to configuration of system default keyboard and locales management.

      • Microsoft is killing Windows 7, so you should switch to Netrunner 19.01 ‘Blackbird’ Linux distro now!

        Windows 7 is an excellent operating system. It is a no-nonsense computing experience that just works. There are no ugly live tiles or forced updates. Conversely, Windows 10 is largely trash. Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft’s latest operating system isn’t all bad, but it has many poor design choices, and the intrusive telemetry makes it feel like you are being spied on when using your own computer. Worst of all, it has proven to be very buggy — it has been deleting important user files! That is scary stuff…

        Many Windows users passed on both Windows 8.x and Windows 10, opting to stay on Windows 7. You know what? I don’t blame them. Unfortunately, starting today, the Windows 7 death clock begins ticking away. You see, in exactly one year, Microsoft will end support for Windows 7. While the operating system will still function, it is foolish to use an unsupported OS. These folks will have to decide if they want to “upgrade” to Window 10 or opt for something entirely different. Today, Netrunner 19.01 “Blackbird” — a Linux-based operating system that is reminiscent of Windows 7 — is finally released. If you don’t want to run Windows 10 on your PC, you should definitely give Blackbird a try before the Windows 7 support ends.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Video: Five Things to Know About SUSE Linux Enterprise for HPC

        The need to analyze massive amounts of data and transaction-intensive workloads are driving the use of HPC into the business arena and making these tools mainstream for a variety of industries. Commercial users are getting into high performance applications for fraud detection, personalized medicine, manufacturing, smart cities, autonomous vehicles and many other areas. In order to effectively and efficiently run these workloads, SUSE has built a comprehensive and cohesive OS platform. In this blog, I will illustrate five things you should know about our SUSE solutions for AI over HPC.

      • Managing compliance for Linux systems with SUSE Manager

        Many industries and governments require compliance with security standards to ensure security, identity, confidentiality, and data integrity. These standards specify a minimum security level and also mandate measures such as logging and auditing to reveal any hints of unauthorized use. Some of the most widely adopted standards are:

    • Slackware Family
      • New VLC and Flash

        AV1 is a new video codec by the Alliance for Open Media, composed of most of the important Web companies (Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, Mozilla…). AV1 has the potential to be up to 20% better than the HEVC codec, but the patents license is totally free. VLC supports AV1 since version 3.0.0 but I never added the ‘aom‘ decoder/encoder to my vlc package, since ‘aom’ is the reference implementation of the video format and it does not really perform.
        The VideoLAN and FFmpeg communities are collaborating on ‘dav1d’ to make this a reference optimized decoder for AV1. Now that ‘dav1d’ has an official release I thought it would be cool to have in the VLC package. Mozilla and Google browsers already have the support for AV1 video playback built-in, so… overdue here.

      • KDE Plasma5 – Jan ’19 release for Slackware

        Here is your monthly refresh for the best Desktop Environment you will find for Linux. I just uploaded “KDE-5_19.01” to the ‘ktown‘ repository. As always, these packages are meant to be installed on a Slackware-current which has had its KDE4 removed first. These packages will not work on Slackware 14.2.

        It looks like Slackware is not going to be blessed with Plasma5 any time soon, so I will no longer put an artificial limitation on the dependencies I think are required for a solid Plasma5 desktop experience. If Pat ever decides that Plasma5 has a place in the Slackware distro, he will have to make a judgement call on what KDE functionality can stay and what needs to go.

    • Fedora
    • Debian Family
      • What Are Various Debian Installation Discs

        Ever got confused by the amount of disc made available for downloading on Debian servers? Worry not, if this is your approach looking around the Internet for an explanation why and what are those various discs for installing Debian on your beloved computer, you are at the right place. I’ll try to be quick and concise so you can get on with Debian installation within 2 minutes read

      • Derivatives
        • Deepin Linux 15.9 Released with Support for Touchscreen Gestures, Faster Updates

          Packed with all the updates that have been released through the official channels since Deepin 15.8, the Deepin 15.9 update is here to add support for multiple touchscreen gestures, including click, double click, long press to open the context menu, as well as slide up and down, an on-screen keyboard, and faster updates thanks to a new Smart Mirror Switch function.

          The Deepin 15.9 release also brings some performance optimizations by making power management more efficient and convenient to laptop and desktop users alike. “Whether your computer is connected to power supply or not, you can easily change the monitor and computer suspend time for different scenarios,” explained the devs in today’s announcement.


          deepin is a Linux distribution devoted to providing beautiful, easy to use, safe and reliable system for global users.

          deepin is an open source GNU/Linux operating system, based on Linux kernel and mainly on desktop applications, supporting laptops, desktops and all-in-ones. deepin preinstalls Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE) and nearly 30 deepin native applications, as well as several applications from the open source community to meet users’ daily learning and work needs. In addition, about a thousand of applications are offered in Deepin Store to meet users’ various needs. deepin, developed by professional operating system R&D team and deepin technology community (, is named from deepin technology community, which means deep pursuit and exploration of the life and the future.

          In deepin 15.9, many known bugs are fixed and the existing functions are optimized. Compared with deepin 15.8, deepin 15.9 adds support for touchscreen gestures and onscreen keyboard, optimizes the using frequency algorithm for application sequence in Launcher mini mode, and introduces a new function – Smart Mirror Switch, hoping to bring users more stable and efficient experiences.

          Since deepin 15.8, deepin have used a rolling update strategy to release the updates on a regular basis. That is to say, deepin 15.9 covers all the system updates after deepin 15.8.

        • Deepin 15.9 Released With Usability Improvements, Bug Fixes

          The popular China-based Deepin Linux distribution derived from Debian and featuring its own Qt5-based desktop environment is out today with version 15.9.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Get started with Cypht, an open source email client

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

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

  • SuiteCRM Announce the Release of SuiteCRM 7.11
  • Open Source for Enterprise Trends in 2019

    We know that open source is well established as the place where software innovation happens. Today enterprises are looking at open source even more closely for pro-active, adaptive and innovative technologies to deliver better customer experience. As we move into 2019, we see open source technology further making its mark in some of the key trends we are already experiencing.

  • Open source search engines attract developers
  • Alibaba Acquires Open Source Firm Data Artisans for $130M
  • Apache Flink Advances Enterprise Apps Aspirations With Alibaba

    There are a lot of different types of tools that are needed to enable modern enterprise apps. The ability to process data streams in real-time is one such needed tool and it’s what the open source Apache Flink project enables.

    Apache Flink is an open-source stream processing framework for distributed, high-performing, always-available and accurate data-streaming applications. The lead developer and commercial organization behind Flink has been data Artisans, which was created by the core developers behind Flink itself. Data Artisans and by extension Apache Flink are getting a major vote of confidence, thanks to Chinese internet giant Alibaba.

  • Google Summer of Code mentor projects sought
  • Genode To Focus On Making Sculpt OS Relevant & Appealing In 2019

    The Genode operating system framework based on a micro-kernel design and various original user-space components continues going strong a decade since its start. But it hasn’t achieved too much appeal outside of its niche even when it began working on “Sculpt” as an operating system for general purposes use-cases and supporting common PC/laptop hardware. But they hope to change that in 2019.

    Genode has published their 2019 roadmap and for this year they want to make “Sculpt OS relevant and appealing for a broader community.”

  • How Enterprise IT Pros Can Contribute to Open Source Projects

    Undoubtedly, your company uses open source software. But the powers that be might express reluctance when developers want to create or maintain projects on company time. Here is a roadmap to help you convince them otherwise—starting with an internal open source project office.

    Open source innovation has a methodology all its own, and it doesn’t follow traditional business processes. The big difference is that open source development is collaborative rather than competitive. This attitude may come naturally to IT people, but not to managers and rarely to people in the C-suite….

    To change the corporate attitude about permitting developers to be embedded in open source projects, you need to get other departments to see the benefits in their own terms.

    One way to handle this is by finding allies outside software development circles. For instance, human resources execs could be on your side if you can convince them that companies that support open source development are more attractive to prospective employees. A CFO who is motivated by financial cost savings can “do the numbers” for you to, for argument’s sake, demonstrate that investing in a developer who spends 20 hours weekly working on an open source project is still more cost effective than purchasing a not-quite-right IT application.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Augmented Reality and the Browser — An App Experiment

        We all want to build the next (or perhaps the first) great Augmented Reality app. But there be dragons! The space is new and not well defined. There aren’t any AR apps that people use every day to serve as starting points or examples. Your new ideas have to compete against an already very high quality bar of traditional 2d apps. And building a new app can be expensive, especially for native app environments. This makes AR apps still somewhat uncharted territory, requiring a higher initial investment of time, talent and treasure.

        But this also creates a sense of opportunity; a chance to participate early before the space is fully saturated.

        From our point of view the questions are: What kinds of tools do artists, developers, designers, entrepreneurs and creatives of all flavors need to be able to easily make augmented reality experiences? What kinds of apps can people build with tools we provide?

        For example: Can I watch Trevor Noah on the Daily Show this evening, and then release an app tomorrow that is a riff on a joke he made the previous night? A measure of success is being able to speak in rich media quickly and easily, to be a timely part of a global conversation.

      • Adios, Amigo

        Firefox Test Pilot is flying off into the sunset on January 22nd, 2019. Currently active experiments will remain installed for all users, and will be available on after this date. Non-extension experiments like Firefox Lockbox and Firefox Send will continue in active development as standalone products. In fact, both products will have significant launches in the near future. Stay tuned for updates in the coming months.

      • Evolving Firefox’s Culture of Experimentation: A Thank You from the Test Pilot Program

        For the last three years Firefox has invested heavily in innovation, and our users have been an essential part of this journey. Through the Test Pilot Program, Firefox users have been able to help us test and evaluate a variety of potential Firefox features. Building on the success of this program, we’re proud to announce today that we’re evolving our approach to experimentation even further.

      • Mozilla Fenix: New Android browser’s intriguing details start to surface

        The new non-Firefox browser for Android is apparently targeted at younger people, with Mozilla developers on GitHub tagging the description, ‘Fenix is not your parents’ Android browser’.

        Fenix mockups found by Mozilla contributor Sören Hentzschel and Ghacks suggest the makers of Fenix are turning the Firefox Android browser on its head, currently toying with the idea of putting the URL bar and home button down at the bottom of user interface.

        News of Fenix as a possible replacement surfaced in the middle of 2018 after someone spotted the new Mozilla mobile project on GitHub. Activity on the project has picked up in recent months.

      • Firefox Fenix for Android mockups

        Mozilla is working on a new web browser for Android to replace the currently available Firefox for Android mobile browser.

        Firefox users who use the browser on Android may have noticed that development slowed down in recent time. Updates are still released regularly but they address issues such as slowdowns, crashes, or security issues for the most part.

        The core reason for that is that Mozilla’s working on Fenix, a new mobile browser for Android. Fenix is based on Android Components and GeckoView. In other words, Fenix will be powered by built-in components on Android and Mozilla’s GeckoView.

      • Keep Smart Assistants from Spying on You with Alias, Security Advisory for Old scp Clients, Major Metasploit Framework Release, Mozilla Working on a New Browser for Android and VirtualBox 6.0.2 Is Out

        Mozilla is working on a new Android browser called Fenix. According to ZDNet, this “new non-Firefox browser for Android is apparently targeted at younger people, with Mozilla developers on GitHub tagging the description, ‘Fenix is not your parents’ Android browser’.” In addition, mockups suggest that Fenix developers are “currently toying with the idea of putting the URL bar and home button down at the bottom of user interface.”

  • SaaS/Back End
    • Community collaboration makes for some great OpenStack solutions

      If you follow the evolution of OpenStack, you know how it’s finding its way into all sorts of workloads, from high-level research to car manufacturing to all-new 5G networks. Organizations are using it for everything from the mundane to the sublime and sharing what they’re learning with the OpenStack community.

      Some of the examples offered up at the recent OpenStack Summit Berlin showed that OpenStack is a full-fledged part of the IT mainstream, which means there are a wealth of ideas out there for your own implementation.

  • Moodle
    • In 2019, Nothing Will Bolster Collaborative Open Source, User-Centered Design & Development In Learning Like The Moodle Users Association

      In LMS and learning technologies, there are few like the Moodle Users Association. Across the spectrum, developers and entrepreneurs keep looking for community engagement. When they do, the usual ideas come to mind. Surveys or social media interactions seem enough to call it a day. In some cases, large participants can influence the development roadmap and single-handedly affect the experience for everyone. Moodle offers all these avenues of interaction. But it also offers the MUA Process Development Cycle, a unique process of transparency and effectiveness that continues to polish and grow and audience. People with little more than a good idea and willingness for effort can make great impact.

    • The 101 on Moodle

      We have all sorts of management systems to help make our work and lives easier to, well, manage. While content management systems help us organise our blogs, portfolios and social media, learning management systems (LMS) get our virtual education filing system sorted in one nook of the Web. One can liken Moodle to a ‘virtual classroom without the germs and threat of detention’.

  • BSD
    • Trident 18.12-RELEASE Available

      This version is based off the 18.12-stable branch of TrueOS (FreeBSD 13-CURRENT), using the new TrueOS distribution framework with several add-ons by Project Trident itself. The packages with this release were created from the TrueOS ports tree as-of January 7th. We are planning to release regular updates to packages every week or two depending on the state of the ports tree at any given time. In this release, both the Chromium and Iridium browsers have also been fixed and function normally again.

      18.12-RELEASE has been a long time in development, and we wish to say a bit “Thank You!” to everybody who has been helping test out the pre-release versions, find issues, submit fixes both to us and to upstream FreeBSD/TrueOS, and in general being a wonderful and supportive community! We look forward to continuing to work with all of you in making Project Trident amazing!

    • Google Is Hiring More LLVM/Clang Developers

      Android and Chrome are among their software now shipping in production that relies upon LLVM Clang rather than GCC or other alternatives, among other Google software projects. LLVM/Clang is also used by various internal projects at Google. Over the years Google developers have contributed back many improvements to upstream LLVM ranging from their Lanai processor back-end to security improvements to other language tooling on LLVM to performance optimizations.

    • LLVM 9.0 Is Now Open For Development, Releasing In Late 2019

      The code for the upcoming LLVM 8.0 release (Clang 8.0 included) is now branched and the release candidate process will begin shortly. That means LLVM 9.0 is now open for development on its master branch.

      Developers behind this compiler stack are planning to get out of the official LLVM 8.0.0 release by the end of February. The first release candidate is imminent and one or two more can be expected in February based upon how the testing proceeds.

    • 2019 OSI Board Elections

      The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is managed by a member-elected Board of Directors that is the ultimate authority responsible for the organization. The Board’s responsibilities include oversight of the organization, including its operations, staff and budget; setting strategic direction and defining goals in line with the mission, and; serving the community through committees and working groups. The eleven person Board is composed of Directors elected by OSI Individual Members (5) and Affiliate Members (5). The General Manager of the OSI also serves on the Board as a Director (ex officio). The results of elections for both Individual and Affiliate Member Board seats are advisory with the OSI Board making the formal appointments to open seats based on the community’s votes.

      As a true corporate board, Board members must agree to, and comply with, the OSI Conflict of Interest Policy, and all Directors are expected to participate regularly in monthly Board meetings, any special meetings that may arise and the ongoing discussions related to the OSI specifically and open source generally.

    • Purism Supports Software Freedom Conservancy

      We live in a dangerous world where privacy and security are more important than ever. In order for software to be trusted, the source code must be available to verify — a simple trust and verify model. Purism is proud to release all of our source code under Free Software licenses that not only empower users but are vital to protect their privacy and security. We favor licenses with strong copyleft like the GNU General Public License version 3, and will release software under the GPLv3 or an FSF-approved license we inherit. Our code can be studied, verified, and shared, whether you use our Librem line of products or not.

      Software Freedom Conservancy is a vital and important part of the Free Software ecosystem that we at Purism and billions of people worldwide rely upon. Without organizations that protect and enforce the terms expressed in software licenses, our digital rights are at risk. Conservancy continues to play a central role in legal battles to safeguard these freedoms.

    • FSF Blogs: The FSF is 5,000 members strong — thanks to you

      Your support is just what we need to push the free software movement to new frontiers. Our ever-growing base of members, donors, and activists are the backbone of our work and free software. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to raise over $440,000 for software freedom. With the 488 new members, we now have more than 5,000 active FSF members. Thanks to you, we’ll be able to expand the staff of the FSF, increasing our organizational capacity, ability to work on issues that matter, and build the community; certify more Respects Your Freedom products to ensure that your devices run free software out of the box, and continue enforcing the GNU General Public License and leading other copyleft efforts; build our technical infrastructure and provide greater support for the many projects that rely on the FSF; create new items for our catalog of cool new swag and engaging publications from the GNU Press Shop; ramp up the fight against DRM; and create a better future for free software.

    • Software user should advocate user freedoms: Richard M Stallman

      Stallman will also deliver a lecture at Technopark on Wednesday.

    • Arm Posts Initial Ares CPU Tuning Support For GCC, Helps SPEC Performance By ~1%

      Arm continues plumbing the open-source GNU compiler toolchain support for their next-generation “Ares” high-performance server/HPC core.

      Back in November they presented the initial Ares compiler patches for GCC. Those patches presented Ares as an ARMv8-based design that has statistical profiling, dot product, and FP16 extensions by default. We’ve also seen other Ares toolchain patches by Arm developers like the recent GNU Assembler support.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Fedora Decides To Not Allow SSPLv1 Licensed Software Into Its Repositories

      Back in October, MongoDB announced the Server Side Public License v1 (SSPLv1) as their new license moving forward for this document-oriented database server over their existing AGPL code. SSPL was met with much controversy upon its unveiling and Fedora’s legal team has now ruled it an invalid free software license for packaged software in its repositories.

      The intent of MongoDB developing the Server Side Public License was to ensure that public cloud vendors and other companies using their software as a service are giving back to the community / the upstream project. SSPL v1 was based on the GPLv3 but lays clear that a company publicly offering the SSPL-licensed software as a service must in turn open-source their software that it uses to offer said service. That stipulation applies only to organizations making use of MongoDB for public software services.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • ANAVI Thermometer open source temp and humidity sensor board

        Anavi Technology has this month launched a new product via the Crowd Supply in the form of the ANAVI Thermometer, an ESP8266-powered, open source, wireless dev board equipped with temperature and humidity sensors. The Anavi Thermometer Development board is fully compatible with the Arduino IDE, PlatformIO, and Home Assistant via the MQTT messaging protocol. Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the open source dev board and its features.

        The development team behind the ANAVI Thermometer explain more about its hardware and specifications:

  • Programming/Development
    • Samba 4.10 RC1 Released: Adds Offline Domain Backups, Now Defaults To Python 3

      Samba 4.10 release candidate 1 was announced today as the open-source SMB implementation with support for Windows Server and Active Directory domains.

      The Samba 4.10 release is bringing export/restore features for Group Policy Objects (GPO), pre-fork process model improvements, support for offline domain backups with the samba-tool domain backup command now supporting an offline option, support for group membership statistics within a domain, Python 3 is now considered the default Python implementation while Python 2 support is retained, JSON logging improvements, and other work.

    • newt-lola

      Bison and Flex (or any of the yacc/lex family members) are a quick way to generate reliable parsers and lexers for language development. It’s easy to write a token recognizer in Flex and a grammar in Bison, and you can readily hook code up to the resulting parsing operation. However, neither Bison nor Flex are really designed for embedded systems where memory is limited and malloc is to be avoided.

      When starting Newt, I didn’t hesitate to use them though; it’s was nice to use well tested and debugged tools so that I could focus on other parts of the implementation.

      With the rest of Newt working well, I decided to go take another look at the cost of lexing and parsing to see if I could reduce their impact on the system.

    • Kano Scores a Disney Partnership, Announces a Star Wars Kit for Later This Year

      Kano creates killer little sets to teach kids how to code and beyond (like the awesome Harry Potter Coding Kit), and today the company is announcing a Disney partnership. The first product will be a Star Wars kit.

      While other info is scant at the time, Kano says the Star Wars kit will be out “in the second half of 2019.” Alex Klein, Kano’s CEO and co-founder, only teased other details, saying that “Collaborating with Disney is a blessing. We can combine connected, creative technologies with some of the most memorable stories ever told.”

    • GDA and GObject Introspection: Remember 1
    • No really, pathlib is great
    • Top Seven Apps Built With Python
    • Turn video into black and white with python
    • Happy Mu Year 2019!
    • Python 101: Episode #42 – Creating Executables with cx_Freeze

      In this screencast, we will learn how to turn your Python code into a Windows executable file using the cx_Freeze project.

    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #351 (Jan. 15, 2019)
    • How To Learn Go Programming Language

      First appeared in November 2009, Go is a statically typed, compiled programming language designed at Google. You might have just heard about this programming language in the past couple of years but recently, Go has started to gain significant popularity in the coding world.

      Being light-weight, open source, and suited for today’s microservices architectures, Go is an amazing choice for a language. Also known as Google’s Golang, this language was developed by some of the brilliant minds from Google who created the C programming language. Today, it is one of the fastest growing languages and it’s absolutely a great time to start learning and working with GO.

    • Review: The 6 best JavaScript IDEs

      Back in the ancient days when Java Swing was new and exciting, I enjoyed using Eclipse for Java development, but soon moved on to other Java IDEs. Five-plus years ago, when I did some Android development with Eclipse, I found the experience OK, but poky. When I tried to use Eclipse Luna with JSDT for JavaScript development in 2014, it constantly displayed false-positive errors for valid code that passed JSHint.

    • A Complete List of The Best Data Science Programming Languages

      Data science is one of the fastest-growing fields in America. Organizations are employing data scientists at a rapid rate to help them analyze increasingly large and complex data volumes. The proliferation of big data and the need to make sense of it all has created a vortex where all of these things exist together. As a result, new techniques, technologies and theories are continually being developed to run advanced analysis, and they all require development and programming to ensure a path forward.

    • PyFilesystem is greater than or equal to Pathlib

      I was reading a post by Trey Hunner on why pathlib is great, where he makes the case that pathlib is a better choice than the standard library alternatives that preceded it. I wouldn’t actually disagree with a word of it. He’s entirely correct. You should probably be using pathlib were it fits.

    • How to build an API for a machine learning model in 5 minutes using Flask

      As a data scientist consultant, I want to make impact with my machine learning models. However, this is easier said than done. When starting a new project, it starts with playing around with the data in a Jupyter notebook. Once you’ve got a full understanding of what data you’re dealing with and have aligned with the client on what steps to take, one of the outcomes can be to create a predictive model.

      You get excited and go back to your notebook to make the best model possible. The model and the results are presented and everyone is happy. The client wants to run the model in their infrastructure to test if they can really create the expected impact. Also, when people can use the model, you get the input necessary to improve it step by step. But how can we quickly do this, given that the client has some complicated infrastructure that you might not be familiar with?

    • What is Small Scale Scrum?

      Agile is fast becoming a mainstream way industries act, behave, and work as they look to improve efficiency, minimize costs, and empower staff. Most software developers naturally think, act, and work this way, and alignment towards agile software methodologies has gathered pace in recent years.

      VersionOne’s 2018 State of Agile report shows that scrum and its variants remain the most popular implementation of agile. This is in part due to changes made to the Scrum Guide’s wording in recent years that make it more amenable to non-software industries.

    • This Week in Rust 269
    • Async IO in Python: A Complete Walkthrough

      Async IO is a concurrent programming design that has received dedicated support in Python, evolving rapidly from Python 3.4 through 3.7, and probably beyond.

      You may be thinking with dread, “Concurrency, parallelism, threading, multiprocessing. That’s a lot to grasp already. Where does async IO fit in?”

      This tutorial is built to help you answer that question, giving you a firmer grasp of Python’s approach to async IO.

  • VR’s 300m-euro engines that couldn’t

    The paper explained that the Vectron locomotives’ automatic access control systems have not performed as expected in the local rail environment, but for unknown reasons unexpectedly activate the emergency brake system. The defect is so serious that it has short-circuited commissioning of the new engines for use on commuter and freight trains.

  • Science
    • How We’ll Forget John Lennon

      Last month Hidalgo and colleagues published a Nature paper that put his crafty data-mining talents to work on another question: How do people and products drift out of the cultural picture? They traced the fade-out of songs, movies, sports stars, patents, and scientific publications. They drew on data from sources such as Billboard, Spotify, IMDB, Wikipedia, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the American Physical Society, which has gathered information on physics articles from 1896 to 2016. Hidalgo’s team then designed mathematical models to calculate the rate of decline of the songs, people, and scientific papers.

      The report, “The universal decay of collective memory and attention,” concludes that people and things are kept alive through “oral communication” from about five to 30 years. They then pass into written and online records, where they experience a slower, longer decline. The paper argues that people and things that make the rounds at the water cooler have a higher probability of settling into physical records. “Changes in communication technologies, such as the rise of the printing press, radio and television,” it says, affect our degree of attention, and all of our cultural products, from songs to scientific papers, “follow a universal decay function.”

      Last week I caught up with Hidalgo to talk about his Nature paper. But I also wanted to push him to talk about what he saw between the mathematical lines, to wear the social scientist’s hat and reflect on the consequences of decay in collective memory.

    • Men React to Repeated Painful Experiences Differently than Women Do

      A painful experience is not one you are likely to forget—you don’t need to a trunk slammed onto your finger multiple times to realize that it’s a situation you’d like to avoid. According to a study published Thursday (January 10) in Current Biology, one painful ordeal in a particular setting is enough to make pain less tolerable in that same place in the future—but only if you’re male.

    • China’s Moon Lander Grows The First Plant On Moon

      Despite the challenges, this experiment is a giant leaf for mankind (pun intended) as it suggests that humans have realistic chance of growing plants during space missions for food and other resources.

      It could also relieve the cargo load for long term missions to Moon and other planets. While growing full-fledged extraterrestrial farms is beyond our capacity at the moment, this milestone makes the idea seems more achievable.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Desalination Is Booming. But What About All That Toxic Brine?

      This is the controversial idea behind large-scale desalination—great, big, expensive facilities that turn saltwater into a liquid that won’t kill you. The classic criticism of desal is that it takes a tremendous amount of energy to process seawater, and we really shouldn’t be burning any more fossil fuels than we need to be. But a less chattered-about problem is the effect on the local environment: The primary byproduct of desal is brine, which facilities pump back out to sea. The stuff sinks to the seafloor and wreaks havoc on ecosystems, cratering oxygen levels and spiking salt content.

    • Americans more likely to die of opioid overdose than car crash, says council report

      More than 49,000 people died due to opioid overdoses in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Last fall, the Senate passed legislation to combat the opioid crisis.

    • Another Misdemeanor Deal in Flint Water Investigation

      Seven people now have resolved their cases with misdemeanor pleas.

      Flint’s water was contaminated with lead when the city switched sources in 2014 and didn’t treat water to reduce corrosion. A former state health director and a state doctor are awaiting trial on involuntary manslaughter charges related to a Legionnaires’ outbreak that was blamed on the water.

    • Michigan’s ex-drinking water regulator takes deal in Flint water investigation

      It’s a break for Liane Shekter Smith, who was facing felony charges, including involuntary manslaughter, in an investigation of Flint’s lead-tainted water and a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

      Smith pleaded no contest Monday to disturbance of a lawful meeting and agreed to testify against others, if necessary. Special prosecutor Todd Flood praised her “candor and truthfulness.” Defense attorney Brian Morley says the case likely will be dismissed in six to 12 months.

    • Flint water investigator calls for independent oversight of Michigan DEQ

      What happened in Flint can happen anywhere, Hall said. In light of emerging public health concerns over PFAS contamination across the state, he said it’s clear that questions of water quality in Michigan aren’t going anywhere. Hall considers Flint to be a “canary in the coal mine” that illustrates the risk that every American community faces given what he calls the fundamental lack of environmental protections ensured by state and federal law.

    • A Trump County Confronts the Administration Amid a Rash of Child Cancers

      Their questions led them to an old industrial site in Franklin, the Johnson County seat, that the federal government had ordered cleaned up decades ago. Recent tests have identified a carcinogenic plume spreading underground, releasing vapors into homes.

      Now, families in a county that voted overwhelmingly for President Trump are making demands of his administration that collide directly with one of his main agendas: the rolling back of health and environmental regulations.

    • Benefits of limiting toxins obviously outweigh cost — except at Trump’s EPA

      When they thought no one was looking on the Friday before the New Year, Trump’s EPA decided to cheat the American public in favor of polluters, by exaggerating the price tag of environmental regulations while minimizing their benefit.

      In rolling back the tight Mercury and Air Toxics Standards finalized under President Obama, the Trump administration created a fundamental shift in the federal regulatory framework as it seeks to undo each building block of environmental regulation developed over EPA’s 49-year history.

    • Some Fear Groundwater Near Georgia Military Bases Is Toxic

      “Given that there are concentrations of these compounds on site, over time they’re going to move off of the site. That’s just common sense,” said Jamie DeWitt, an associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at East Carolina University. “No contaminant obeys property lines.”

      Nationwide, the Air Force has acknowledged contaminating drinking water in communities close to its bases in more than a dozen other states.


      The contamination, which is linked to a class of chemicals known collectively as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, was laid out in a series of site inspection reports completed by the Air Force last year.

    • Wild monkeys with killer herpes are breeding like crazy in Florida

      A quick reminder: there’s a band of feral monkeys running wild in Central Florida that carries a type of herpes lethal to humans. The mischievous simians—who are not shy around people—can transmit deadly disease with just a scratch, nip, or fling of poo.

      Last year, experts warned that the rhesus macaques are a public health threat. It now seems that the monkey business is likely to get worse, with a wildlife expert revealing that their population is set to double in the next few years.

    • Will Michigan Governor End State Funding for Anti-Choice Clinic Network?

      Real Alternatives, a network for so-called crisis pregnancy centers has reaped millions of taxpayer funds from Republican-controlled legislatures and GOP governors. The funds include nearly $2.6 million from Michigan over the past five years to run the Michigan Parenting and Pregnancy Support Program, which it received while failing to provide health services to pregnant people, according to the Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit group focused on public accountability.


      Not only does Real Alternatives use taxpayer funds in support of anti-choice pregnancy clinics that seek to dissuade people from seeking abortion care, but it has time and again failed to meet goals for service, according to a complaint the Campaign for Accountability filed Monday. Real Alternatives, after pledging to administer 8,000 visits and serve 2,000 people in Michigan in its first year of operation, “only managed to oversee a mere 785 visits and serve only 403 women,” per the complaint. In over four and a half years, Real Alternatives has only provided service for 3,771 pregnant people, according to the Campaign for Accountability.

      Real Alternatives has prioritized “payments for ineffective advertising and pay increases for its executives, with no comparable increase in the number of women being served,” according to the Campaign for Accountability. The organization charged that Real Alternatives “appears to be skimming state funds by withholding 3% of [state] funding intended for subcontractors for its own private, unspecified use, even though RA’s administrative expenses are separately provided for in the [state] contract.”

    • Two New Lawsuits Allege Surgical Errors During Heart Transplants at St. Luke’s in Houston

      Two new lawsuits have been filed against Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center by patients who say they suffered serious injuries as a result of surgical errors during heart transplants at the troubled Houston hospital.

      The suits, both filed Friday in Harris County District Court, bring to five the number of malpractice complaints involving heart transplants that have been leveled against St. Luke’s or its doctors since a Houston Chronicle and ProPublica investigation last year documented deaths and unexpected complications in the once-renowned program.

      In August, the federal government cut off Medicare funding for heart transplants at St. Luke’s, citing its failure to make changes needed to improve outcomes. The hospital is appealing.

      In one of the lawsuits filed last week, Lazerick Eskridge alleges that Dr. Jeffrey Morgan sewed a major vein closed during his heart transplant in February 2017, causing blood to back up into his head and requiring an emergency repair in the operating room. That led to several serious complications and resulted in a three-month hospital stay, according to the lawsuit.

  • Security
    • An ancient OpenSSH vulnerability

      ities in the scp clients shipped with OpenSSH, PuTTY, and others. “Many scp clients fail to verify if the objects returned by the scp server match those it asked for. This issue dates back to 1983 and rcp, on which scp is based. A separate flaw in the client allows the target directory attributes to be changed arbitrarily. Finally, two vulnerabilities in clients may allow server to spoof the client output.” The outcome is that a hostile (or compromised) server can overwrite arbitrary files on the client side. There do not yet appear to be patches available to address these problems.

    • 36-Year-Old SCP Clients’ Implementation Flaws Discovered

      A set of 36-year-old vulnerabilities has been uncovered in the Secure Copy Protocol (SCP) implementation of many client applications that can be exploited by malicious servers to overwrite arbitrary files in the SCP client target directory unauthorizedly.

      Session Control Protocol (SCP), also known as secure copy, is a network protocol that allows users to securely transfer files between a local host and a remote host using RCP (Remote Copy Protocol) and SSH protocol.

      In other terms, SCP, which dates back to 1983, is a secure version of RCP that uses authentication and encryption of SSH protocol to transfer files between a server and a client.

      Discovered by Harry Sintonen, one of F-Secure’s Senior Security Consultants, the vulnerabilities exist due to poor validations performed by the SCP clients, which can be abused by malicious servers or man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attackers to drop or overwrite arbitrary files on the client’s system.

    • scp client multiple vulnerabilities

      Many scp clients fail to verify if the objects returned by the scp server match those
      it asked for. This issue dates back to 1983 and rcp, on which scp is based. A separate
      flaw in the client allows the target directory attributes to be changed arbitrarily.
      Finally, two vulnerabilities in clients may allow server to spoof the client output.

    • Software Security is a Civil Right!
    • Security isn’t a feature

      As CES draws to a close, I’ve seen more than one security person complain that nobody at the show was talking about security. There were an incredible number of consumer devices unveiled, no doubt there is no security in any of them. I think we get caught up in the security world sometimes so we forget that the VAST majority of people don’t care if something has zero security. People want interesting features that amuse them or make their lives easier. Security is rarely either of these, generally it makes their lives worse so it’s an anti-feature to many.

      Now the first thing many security people think goes something like this “if there’s no security they’ll be sorry when their lightbulb steals their wallet and dumps the milk on the floor!!!” The reality is that argument will convince nobody, it’s not even very funny so they’re laughing at us, not with us. Our thoughts by very nature blame all the wrong people and we try to scare them into listening to us. It’s never worked. Ever. That one time you think it worked they were only pretended to care so you would go away.

      So it brings us to the idea that security isn’t a feature. Turning your lights on is a feature. Cooking you dinner is a feature. Driving your car is a feature. Not bursting into flames is not a feature. Well it sort of is, but nobody talks about it. Security is a lot like the bursting into flames thing. Security really is about something not happening, things not happening is the fundamental problem we have when we try to talk about all this. You can’t build a plausible story around an event that may or may not happen. Trying to build a narrative around something that may or may not happen is incredibly confusing. This isn’t how feature work, features do positive things, they don’t not do negative things (I don’t even know if that’s right). Security isn’t a feature.

      So the question you should be asking then is how do we make products being created contain more of this thing we keep calling security. The reality is we can’t make this happen given our current strategies. There are two ways products will be produced that are less insecure (see what I did there). Either the market demands it, which given the current trends isn’t happening anytime soon. People just don’t care about security. The second way is a government creates regulations that demand it. Given the current state of the world’s governments, I’m not confident that will happen either.

    • Metasploit, popular hacking and security tool, gets long-awaited update

      The open-source Metasploit Framework 5.0 has long been used by hackers and security professionals alike to break into systems. Now, this popular system penetration testing platform, which enables you to find, exploit, and validate security holes, has been given a long-delayed refresh.

      Rapid7, Metasploit’s parent company, announced this first major release since 2011. It brings many new features and a fresh release cadence to the program. While the Framework has remained the same for years, the program was kept up to date and useful with weekly module updates.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Bellevue’s Polyverse brings on significant “strategic investors” as it raises $2M for its secure Linux product and courts the Pentagon

      Polymorphic Linux fools memory-based attack software, a growing type of attack that takes advantage of vulnerabilities in widely used software, as opposed to older methods of delivering malware onto a network through a compromised email attachment. It does this by “scrambling” some of the basic system information those in-memory attacks use to target Linux applications, creating a unique version of Linux by producing “individually unique binaries that are semantically equivalent,” according to Polyverse material.

      “If you’re running the same software the Russians have, you’re in trouble,” Gounares said. “They’re getting your copy of Linux, they are studying it, they are finding those flaws, and today those economics favor them” given how many machines they can access if they discover a zero-day flaw in something as widely used as Linux or Windows, he said.

    • Microsoft scores five-year $1.76bn contract with the Pentagon

      The $1.76bn (£1.57bn) deal was announced by the Pentagon as an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity arrangement – in other words, between now and the end of January 2024, Microsoft will offer what is needed, payable on a per task basis, across different cost centres.

    • Nine defendants charged in SEC [cracking] scheme that netted $4.1 million

      Two of the defendants, federal prosecutors in New Jersey said, breached SEC networks starting in May 2016 by subjecting them to hacks that included directory traversal, phishing attacks, and infecting computers with malware. From there, the defendants allegedly accessed EDGAR (the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system) and stole nonpublic earnings reports that publicly traded companies had filed with the commission. The [intruders] then passed the confidential information to individuals who used it to trade in the narrow window between when the files were stolen and when the companies released the information to the public.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #194

      Here’s what happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday January 6 and Saturday January 12 2019…

    • ES File Explorer Has A Hidden Web Server; Data Of 500 Million Users At Risk
    • The Evil-Twin Framework: A tool for testing WiFi security

      The increasing number of devices that connect over-the-air to the internet over-the-air and the wide availability of WiFi access points provide many opportunities for attackers to exploit users. By tricking users to connect to rogue access points, hackers gain full control over the users’ network connection, which allows them to sniff and alter traffic, redirect users to malicious sites, and launch other attacks over the network..

      To protect users and teach them to avoid risky online behaviors, security auditors and researchers must evaluate users’ security practices and understand the reasons they connect to WiFi access points without being confident they are safe. There are a significant number of tools that can conduct WiFi audits, but no single tool can test the many different attack scenarios and none of the tools integrate well with one another.

      The Evil-Twin Framework (ETF) aims to fix these problems in the WiFi auditing process by enabling auditors to examine multiple scenarios and integrate multiple tools. This article describes the framework and its functionalities, then provides some examples to show how it can be used.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • New federal rules would let drones fly at night and over crowds

      The Federal Aviation Administration proposed Monday to relax rules governing commercial drone operations. Since 2016, the FAA has allowed the commercial operation of unmanned aerial vehicles weighing less than 55 pounds under certain limited circumstances. New rules proposed this week would relax two of the restrictions in the 2016 rules: drones will now be allowed to operate at night, and they’ll be able to operate over people.

    • Russian Federal Penitentiary Service employee still at work after driving car into mother and two children

      On September 4, 2018, an employee of the Federal Penitentiary Service, or FSIN, in the Russian republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia ran his car into three pedestrians at approximately 40 miles per hour. 31-year-old Murat Botashev, a junior inspector in a pretrial detention facility, claimed that he was hurrying home after work, but one witness to the incident testified that Botashev appeared to be racing another car. Mediazona described the crash and its consequences in a detailed report.

      Elina Khapaeva was walking with her two young children when Botashev’s Lada Priora hit them. The children, described as six-year-old Rustam and four-year-old Veronika in Mediazona’s report, were severely and permanently injured. Their mother will require plastic surgery. To protect their privacy, the children’s real names have not been revealed.

    • ‘Meduza’ fact check: The secretary of Russia’s Security Council says there was only one terrorist act in the country last year. Is he right?

      “Terrorist activity in this country has decreased by more than 20 times over the course of five years. In 2018, five crimes motivated by terror and one terrorist act were committed in this country. This decrease in the threat of terror is related to the meticulous work of special services and law enforcement in our country, which has resulted in the prevention of 36 crimes motivated by terror as well as 20 terrorist attacks,” said Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, in an interview with The Russian Gazette. Patrushev believes these statistics demonstrate that Russia is in a more stable situation than Europe, where “terrorist activity has increased.”


      The best-known case in which a terrorist attack was reclassified under a different statue in Russian law was a shooting at Kerch Polytechnic College. Vladislav Roslyakov, a student at the college, triggered several improvised explosive devices there and fired at those who remained inside. Twenty people were killed as a result of the attack, and more than 40 were injured. Roslyakov committed suicide after the shooting.

      In the hours following the attack, Russia’s Investigative Committee brought forward terrorism charges. However, after law enforcement determined the attacker’s identity, the Committee reclassified its investigation under a different statute that governs the murder of two or more people. The Committee wrote that its decision was based on “the general picture of the crime.”

    • Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion

      It’s a messy, though typical picture. US President Donald Trump wants to pull out forces in Syria. When announced in December, jaws drooped and sharp intakes of breath were registered through the Washington establishment. Members of the military industrial complex were none too pleased. The President had seemingly made his case clear: US blood and treasure will not be further drawn upon to right the conflicts of the Middle East.

      His national security advisor, John Bolton, prefers a different message: the US will not leave north-eastern Syria till the militants of Islamic State are defeated and the Kurds protected. If this was a message of intended confusion, it has worked. The media vultures are confused as to what carrion to feed upon. The US imperial lobby is finding the whole affair disruptive and disturbing. Washington’s allies attempt to read the differences between policy-by-tweet and policy by representation.

      Trump’s pre-New Year announcement suggested speediness, a rapid removal of US forces supposedly indispensable in Making America Great Again. Once made, US troops were to leave in a matter of weeks – or so went a certain wisdom. “They’re all coming back, and they’re coming back now,” ventured the president. But Bolton suggested otherwise. US personnel, he suggested, would remain in al-Tanf to counter Iranian influence. Timetables could be left to the talking heads.

    • Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic

      President Trump’s unexpected December 19 twitter announcement ordering a 30-day timetable for the withdrawal of the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria and 7,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan provoked a bipartisan panic in Washington. Defense Secretary “Mad Dog” James Mattis, “the butcher of Fallujah,” resigned in protest stating, according to the New York Times, that “Leaving Syria in 30 days would jeopardize the fight against the Islamic State, betray our Syrian Kurdish Arab allies on the ground, and cede the eastern part of the country to the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies.”

      The former commander of American-led troops in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010, General Stanley McChrystal, warned that “Trump’s approach to national security was reckless.” Eight years earlier the same McChrystal, working under the Obama administration, pilloried then Vice President Joseph Biden for publicly revealing that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and other Gulf State monarchies had systematically provided weapons to and trained Al Qaida and other terrorist groups to invade Syria for the purpose of removing the Bashar Assad government. Biden soon after apologized for his “indiscrete” statements but never repudiated their validity.

      Brett McGurk, U.S. representative to the so-called global coalition fighting ISIS, also resigned from Trump’s team stating “Fighters with ISIS were on the run, but not yet defeated as Trump had said.”

      Pressing the panic button to the hilt, New York Times reporter, Vivian Lee opened her December 26 article with: “Turkey is threatening to invade Syria to eradicate Kurdish fighters. Syrian forces are rolling toward territory the Americans will soon abandon. Israel is bombing Iran-backed militias deep inside Syria and Russia could soon move to crush the last vestige of the Syrian anti-government insurgency.”

      Joining the chorus of Trump naysayers was none other than former State Department Director of U.S. Policy Planning,

    • UK government fighting to keep details of counter-extremism radio shows secret

      The British government is attempting to prevent publication of material that would show how counter-extremism propaganda is being channelled covertly through radio dramas broadcast in the UK.

      Lawyers for the government are resisting an attempt to force disclosure of documents that would expose the role the Home Office’s secretive Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU) has played in the creation and production of supposedly independent radio shows.

      RICU, part of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) within the Home Office, is known to have been producing and disseminating communications for around a decade as part of the British government’s controversial Prevent strategy. The unit goes to great lengths to obscure the extent of its operations.

      Government lawyers are arguing that any disclosure – under the UK’s Freedom of Information Act – that revealed details of RICU’s secret involvement in radio drama would jeopardise national security.

      “The relevant information clearly concerns matters which have the potential to expose the United Kingdom and its citizens to a national security threat,” they said in a submission to the Information Tribunal, the court that is set to rule on an appeal in the case.

    • Suspect arrested in terror attack allegedly planned for Putin’s visit to Serbia

      Armin Alibashich, 21, has been arrested in the Serbian city of Novi Pazar on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, the Serbian news outlet Blic reported.

      Alibashich was allegedly stopped because his backpack looked suspicious. A rifle with an optic sight was found inside. A search of the young man’s home revealed components of improvised bombs and symbols related to the terrorist group ISIS.

    • US Army Documents Reveal Massive Support For ‘Long Road Home’ Miniseries, Possible Fraud At Military’s Entertainment Liaison Office

      The National Geographic drama series, “The Long Road Home,” tells a version of the story of the battle for Sadr City in 2004, a key moment in Iraq War, and newly-released emails and other documents from the United States Army detail the extensive military support for the TV series and how the Pentagon repeatedly bent its own rules on providing assistance to entertainment productions.

      Until April 2004, Sadr City was one of the quietest areas of Baghdad and coalition troops stationed there saw little action. That all changed on the night of April 4, known as ‘Black Sunday.’ Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of a prominent Shia militia, had his newspaper shut down by Paul Bremer, leader of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

      A few days later, one of al-Sadr’s top lieutenants was arrested. This sparked a vicious retaliation from the Sadrist movement, which ambushed a routine U.S. Army patrol in Sadr City and then attacked the forces sent in to retrieve them. It was a harbinger of what was to come, as the multi-form insurgency against the Western occupation of Iraq rapidly grew in size and violence in the following years.

    • Trump Wants to Punish California Wildfire Victims by Withholding FEMA Funds

      Just after California Governor Gavin Newsom delivered a fiery inauguration speech that positioned the state firmly against the worst elements of the Trump administration, the president swiped back via his favorite medium: Twitter and empty threats.

      Trump claimed that he told FEMA to “send no more money” to the state, which is recovering from the worst wildfires in its history; 2018 was a hot, dry, deadly and scorched year.

      But the president’s hatred for California isn’t new. And, more broadly, conservatives make a point of regularly sniping at the state and “San Francisco values” — whatever that’s supposed to mean.

    • ‘US Administrations Have Been Intervening in Venezuela Since at Least the Early 2000s’ – CounterSpin interview with Alexander Main on Maduro’s reelection

      When it comes to Venezuela, elite US media don’t hide their feelings. And their feelings are all the same. Headlines on last year’s reelection of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro differed only in tone, including the disdainful: “As Venezuelans Go Hungry, Their Government Holds a Farcical Election,” from the Economist; the decisive: USA Today‘s “Maduro Is Turning Venezuela Into a Dictatorship,” or Foreign Affairs’ more somber version, “Venezuela’s Suicide; Lessons From a Failed State.” There’s Forbes’ vaguely threatening “Why Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela May Wish He Lost the Presidential Election,” and Foreign Policy’s unashamed “It’s Time for a Coup in Venezuela.”

      But they’re all pretty much variations on a theme that’s hard to unhear, given that media bang it out so loudly and repeatedly. Here to help us sort fact from froth is Alexander Main. He’s director of international policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He joins us by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome to CounterSpin, Alex Main.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Journalism Is Dangerous Work

      The unnerving sense of insecurity surrounding the field of journalism is more intense, of course, in places like Somalia and Saudi Arabia. But US journalists are increasingly finding solidarity with colleagues struggling to expose the truth in other countries. In an era of soft oppression and anti-media demagoguery, no journalist anywhere can afford to let their guard down.

    • WikiLeaks takes on The Guardian for alleging ties to Paul Manafort: ‘Legal action will now commence’

      Bolstered by online donors fronting the money for legal costs, WikiLeaks on Monday announced its plans to pursue a lawsuit against The Guardian newspaper over an article that alleged the antisecrecy group had ties to President Trump’s former election campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

      “WikiLeaks fund to sue the Guardian for publishing fabricated front page stories has hit $50,000. Thanks to all 1270 donors so far. Legal action will now commence (but more is required to complete),” WikiLeaks said on Twitter.

      Published by The Guardian on Nov. 27, 2018, the article alleged that Manafort held “secret talks” with WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange during the 2016 U.S. presidential race, essentially creating a direct link between Mr. Trump’s election campaign and the website responsible for releasing stolen documents damaging to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

      No other outlets have corroborated The Guardian’s claims, and WikiLeaks and Manafort separately flatly rejected the article as false and libelous.

    • ‘Perfect accuracy’: WikiLeaks hits back at ‘neocon’ app NewsGuard, which labeled it untrustworthy

      NewsGuard claims to help combat fake news online and defend against “disinformation” but its links to the US government have caused some to call its objectivity into question.

      In a tweet responding to the news that Microsoft has partnered with NewsGuard to add it as an extension to its Edge web browser by default, WikiLeaks claimed the news-rating app was “pushing US security state news imperialism across the world” and reminded users that WikiLeaks has a “perfect” record on accuracy. Since its beginnings, no documents published by WikiLeaks were ever found to be inauthentic.

    • ‘Real journalists act as agents of people, not power’

      I had spent much of 1971 based in Calcutta reporting on the seven million refugees coming from what was then East Pakistan. Their journey was along what we reporters called a “corridor of pain”. The previous year, I had witnessed the devastation caused by the great tidal wave that engulfed the unprotected Bay of Bengal. What had struck me was the lack of real concern by the government in Islamabad, which sent the army to impose martial law on the people of East Bengal.
      This was a dangerous corner of the world for ordinary people and dissenters from the colonial power that touched all their lives; it was also an inspirational place where, it was clear to me, a free Bangladesh was struggling to be born.
      I like Bengali people; I admired their resilience and warmth and wit. In the summer of 1971, a young idealistic lawyer, Moudud Ahmed (who later rose to high office in Bangladesh), led me at night across the Radcliffe Line that divided India from East Pakistan. We marched behind an armed guide bearing a green and red Bangladeshi flag and we listened to people’s moving accounts of Pakistani atrocities and saw their destroyed villages.
      My subsequent report in the London Daily Mirror and my colleague Eric Piper’s photographs provided substantial evidence that the Islamabad government was waging genocidal war in Bengal.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • The U.S. Oil and Gas Industry Is Drilling Us Towards Climate Disaster

      As the 116th Congress commences, in the wake of dire reports from climate scientists, the debate over U.S. climate policies has taken a welcome turn towards bold solutions. Spurred on by grassroots pressure from Indigenous communities, the youth-led Sunrise Movement, and communities from coast to coast fighting fossil fuel infrastructure, Capitol Hill is alive once again with policy proposals that edge towards the scale required to address the crisis we’re in.

      A new study released today by Oil Change International and 17 partner organizations makes it clear that managing a rapid and equitable decline of U.S. fossil fuel production must be a core component of any comprehensive climate policy.

    • Studies Show Ice Melting and Ocean Warming Both Happening Much Faster Than Previously Thought

      A multitude of new climate studies has painted a picture of the numerous factors that are simultaneously leading to rising sea levels, which could increase by more than 10 feet by the end of the century.

      Scientists at University of California, Irvine found significant acceleration in the melting of ice across Antarctica, compared with how fast the ice was melting in the 1980s.

      On social media, author and co-founder Bill McKibben was among those who issued a reminder that despite daily news regarding the Trump administration, the climate crisis remains “the biggest story” affecting the entire planet.

    • Virginia Air Board Member Who Approved a Controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline Permit Has Links to a Dominion Gas Partner

      A member of a Virginia state permitting board who last week approved a highly controversial certification for Dominion’s planned Atlantic Coast pipeline has business ties to a company currently collaborating with Dominion on a related gas project, DeSmog has found.

      William (Trip) Ferguson joined three other Air Pollution Control Board members to unanimously approve a permit for Dominion’s Buckingham compressor station. The planned station, which will propel the natural gas as it moves through the 600-mile interstate pipeline, will be built in Union Hill, a largely African-American community settled by free blacks and emancipated slaves after the Civil War.

      The plan has sparked a years-long opposition campaign by activists and concerned residents of Union Hill. Last week’s final approval was met by outrage, as protesters — many chanting “Shame! Shame!” — accused the governor-appointed board of foisting a noxious infrastructure project onto a reluctant community while ignoring critical environmental justice concerns.

      Now, a DeSmog investigation raises questions about the degree of Ferguson’s impartiality when approving this project.

    • The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two

      Legislators in Washington are currently proposing a Democratic Green New Deal (hereafter DGND) project that continues to implement neoliberal policy, including anti-union measures and fiscal benefits for the 1%. (cf. Corporations See a Different Kind of “Green” in Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” by Whitney Webb, 12/18/18, Mint Press News) This would most likely include either quasi-privatization of infrastructure, known in popular press discourse as public-private partnerships, or outright privatization, passed off in public relations as a fair exchange of infrastructure ownership for installation and maintenance of renewable energy implements and devices, such as solar panels or windmills.

      It also appears that the DGND includes within its framework further weakening of labor union and worker protections. Whitney Webb writes “Another indication that there is nothing ‘progressive’ about the Ocasio-Cortez-backed plan is the fact that it is stocked with neoliberal buzzwords that are catnip to modern-day American robber-barons. For instance, the plan states that it must ‘include additional measures such as basic income programs, universal health care programs and any others as the select committee may deem appropriate to promote economic security, labor market flexibility and entrepreneurism…’ [emphasis added] The term ‘labor market flexibility’ is a neoliberal buzzword that disguises a corporation’s ability to hire and fire at will as an exercise in ‘flexibility’ as opposed to an exercise of corporate power. As Investopedia notes, ‘A flexible labor market is one where firms are under fewer regulations regarding the labor force and can, therefore, set wages, fire employees at will and change their work hours.’”

      This is another opening for the Green Party to take advantage of. Right now, the pseudo-alternative press outlets that function as auxiliaries and free public relations agents of the Democratic Party’s Progressive caucus, from Vox to Jacobin Magazine to The Nation, are promoting a multi-media meta-narrative that articulates an argument for a Popular Front with the Democratic Party to oust Donald Trump in 2020.

      While there certainly are undeniable and painful aspects to the Trump administration that have fascistic features, one element missing from all of these social democratic venues and reporters/analysts is a true socio-political diagnosis of fascism as a symptom and outgrowth of austerity policies. This is probably because austerity has been most successfully and brutally promoted in the past decade by the political candidates these social democratic venues have regularly and unfailingly endorsed. The Democrats willfully enable the growth of fascist political trends with financial policies that incubate white nationalism within the public over an immiseration that has a very real material basis. This immiseration is borne out in metrics regarding suicides, birth rates, substance abuse rates (most notably being the opioid epidemic), and the precarity of finances that demonstrate many are living paycheck-to-paycheck and are one major accident away from bankruptcy. While this loss of quality of life does not mean that so-called whites are in any way close to facing the kinds of struggles that African Americans and Indigenous people deal with, it does demonstrate that the ‘wages of whiteness,’ as W.E.B. Du Bois explained white privilege, are coming up short and no longer delivering in the fashion they once did.

    • The World Will End in Fire

      Proclaiming that the end is nigh has now become the labor of the very opposite of a deluded religious devotee. And the question framed by Robert Frost of whether the world will end in fire or ice is no longer in dispute. The world will soon end in fire, possibly the fire of the Pentagon’s “usable” nuclear weapons, certainly the fire of anthropogenic climate collapse. Not only will the world not end in ice, but the vanishing of ice from the earth is helping to rapidly render this planet uninhabitable for humans and many other species.

      As we observe up-close in Dahr Jamail’s new book The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption, great masses of ice are melting away. Glacier National Park will soon lack any glaciers. Greenland, that ice-covered land falsely labeled green and distorted by northern prejudice to appear larger than Africa on most western maps, is being transformed into something you can spray through a hose . . . or drown in. Ice that most of us have never seen, but upon which our lives depend, is disappearing, not just quickly, but at a rate that is constantly becoming quicker, and even quicker, and quicker still.

      The permafrost in the Arctic, Jamail tells us, is thawing and releasing methane, and could at any moment release methane equivalent to several times the total carbon dioxide released by humans ever. Barring that catastrophe, the feedback loops or vicious cycles are real and underestimated. When the glaciers melt, the streams warm up or dry up, ecosystems collapse, forests burn, and the glaciers melt more. By 2015, forests in California had become climate polluters rather than CO2 reducers. Jamail finds that every single worst case scenario predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) regarding temperature, sea level, severe weather, and CO2 in the atmosphere has fallen short. In fact, Jamail explains why the IPCC is generally not just excessively conservative but 10 years out of date. That figure places the IPCC’s late-2018 report claiming that humanity had 12 years left in which to change its ways and avert disaster in a harsh light.

    • Natural gas is now getting in the way; US carbon emissions increase by 3.4%

      But it appears that emissions have increased 3.4 percent in 2018 across the US economy, the second-largest annual increase in 20 years, according to Rhodium Group’s preliminary data. (2010, when the US started recovering from the recession, was the largest annual increase in the last two decades.)

    • Without Trump, local governments spend millions to protect against climate change

      Frustrated by what they see as the Trump administration’s decision to de-emphasize the danger posed by climate change, local government officials, non-profit leaders and university researchers are busily forging ahead with limited resources in a piecemeal approach they say is better than nothing. They’re hardening buildings, digging bigger storm drains and changing zoning laws to keep homes from being built in low-lying areas prone to flooding.

    • India’s love for hydroelectric power is misplaced: It isn’t renewable, river flow is erratic and mega dams dangerous

      Due to the variety of reasons discussed above, governments across the world are progressively becoming more cognizant of the adverse impacts of dams. Many countries, such as the United States of America, Brazil, China and Peru, are now actively taking steps to de-commission existing dams, or to abort plans for commissioning future dams. Similarly, it has been recommended that unsafe and unproductive dams in India should be de-commissioned.

      Policymakers should desist from shifting the goalposts by re-classifying large hydro as a source of renewable energy. In view of the large environmental and social costs of energy from large hydro, it may be more prudent at this juncture to reduce dependence on large hydro, and if required, signal this through a reduction in the NDC target of 175GW to 125GW.

    • Hazy figures cloud Indonesia’s peat restoration as fire season looms

      Activists have also questioned figures that suggest the target of restoring 24,000 square kilometers (9,300 square miles) of peatland by the end of 2020 has been almost achieved, saying there’s little transparency about the bulk of the required restoration, being carried out by pulpwood and plantation companies.

    • Breakthrough as world’s largest palm oil trader gives forest destroyers nowhere to hide

      The world’s largest palm oil trader, Wilmar International, has published a detailed action plan to map and monitor all of its suppliers. If implemented, this would put the palm oil giant, which supplies 40% of the world’s palm oil, one step closer to finally eliminating deforestation from its supply chain and would have a major impact on the rest of the industry.

    • WHO study likens palm oil lobbying to tobacco and alcohol industries

      The palm oil industry is deploying tactics similar to those of the alcohol and tobacco industries to influence research into the health effects of its product, a study published by the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

      Evidence of the health impact of palm oil is mixed, with some studies linking consumption to several ailments, including increased risk of death from heart disease caused by narrowing arteries, the report said.

    • MPOC lambasts WHO over negative remarks on palm oil lobbying

      The authors of the study, published in the WHO’s bulletin, claimed that they found nine pieces of research showing overwhelmingly positive health associations, but four of them were authored by the MPOC.

      Kalyana said back in the 1980s, palm oil was said to pose a risk for heart disease because of its higher saturated fat content and the industry had to step in and sponsor a global research to learn the truth.

    • Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds

      Scientists say the world’s oceans are warming far more quickly than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change because almost all the excess heat absorbed by the planet ends up stored in their waters.

      A new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science, found that the oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago. The researchers also concluded that ocean temperatures have broken records for several straight years.

    • What warmer oceans mean for the planet

      Our oceans are much warmer than we previously thought, according to a new study. They are also heating up faster than was believed, driven by climate change caused by humans.

    • ‘No Life Without Water’: Kabul Faces Water Crisis as Drought, Population Strain Supply

      Water is not only scarce in Kabul, but most of it is undrinkable, according to the National Environmental Protection Agency.

      Around 70 percent of the city’s groundwater is contaminated by waste and chemicals from leaky household septic tanks and industrial plants that can cause diarrhea or other illnesses if the water is not boiled or purified properly.

    • Government resolves to cancel land titles in wetlands

      The minister’s pronouncement comes barely two months after authorities in Masaka halted all activities taking place in wetlands, forests and other water catchment areas.

    • Study: Number of monarch butterflies in California declined by 86 percent in one year

      The group’s most recent count, over Thanksgiving weekend, recorded less than 30,000 butterflies — an 86-percent decline since 2017 alone.

    • We’re losing monarchs fast—here’s why

      The epic 3,000-mile monarch butterfly migration may become a thing of the past. Each fall, monarchs travel from their summer homes in the northern U.S. and Canada to winter habitats in California and Mexico. But the 2018 Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count found that the number of west-coast monarchs spending the winter in California had plunged to only 20,456 butterflies—a drop of 86 percent since last year. And the number of eastern monarchs overwintering in Mexico this year has dropped 15 percent since last year, for a total decline of more than 80 percent over the past 20 years, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

      This year’s count is only the latest in a string of bad news for the charismatic butterfly that makes one of the longest known insect migrations. The culprit? Humans. The twin forces of human-caused climate change and habitat loss are now threatening North American monarch butterflies with extinction.

    • Meteorological Institute confirms 2018 was hottest year in Finland’s history

      In a bulletin released by the Institute this morning, they reveal that overall, 2018 was a full 2 degrees warmer than usual as an average. Meanwhile, the peak temperature of the year, which was recorded as 33.7 degrees Celsius in Vaasa on 18 June, was one of the highest ever reached.

    • Fewer Americans are biking to work despite new trails, lanes and bicycle share programs

      Around the country, city transportation officials wish there were more bicyclists like Dandino, as they seek to cut traffic congestion, promote health and identify alternatives to cars. But after rising for several years, the percentage of commuters turning to bikes has declined for the third year straight, U.S. Census Bureau figures shows.

    • Washington Could Become the First State to Compost the Dead

      The method is called “recomposting” and claims to be cheaper and more environmentally friendly than traditional burial or cremation. It involves rapidly decomposing a body and converting the remains into soil. That nutrient-rich material can then be used to grow trees, flowers, and other new life.

      The alternative practice hinges on a bill that state senator Jamie Pedersen plans to introduce next month, according to NBC. It would legalize recomposting in Washington where burial and cremation are currently the only acceptable ways to dispose of human remains.

    • These species went extinct in 2018. More may be doomed to follow in 2019.

      A disturbing trend is that mainland species are starting to go extinct, rather than island species: “Ninety percent of bird extinctions in recent centuries have been of species on islands,” said Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s chief scientist and lead author on the paper.

      “However, our results confirm that there is a growing wave of extinctions sweeping across the continents, driven mainly by habitat loss and degradation from unsustainable agriculture and logging,” he said.

    • Top Oil Lobbyist Wants Government Open to Keep Rolling Back Environmental Rules

      Although the partial U.S. government shutdown, now marching into its fourth week, isn’t hurting the oil and gas industry, according to Mike Sommers, the head of the American Petroleum Institute (API) says he wants the shutdown to end so that the Trump administration can get back to actively helping the industry by meeting federal deadlines for rolling back environmental regulations.

      Nevertheless, there are signs the Trump administration is still at work on that fossil fuel-friendly agenda in some places, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), despite the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

    • A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s on Us

      The ancient cinder cone I’m perched on reminds me that St. Paul was, oh, so long ago, one of the last places woolly mammoths could be found in North America. I’m here doing research for my book, The End of Ice. And that, in turn, brings me back to the new reality in these far northern waters: as cold as they still are, human-caused climate disruption is warming them enough to threaten a possible collapse of the food web that sustains this island’s Unangan, its Aleut inhabitants, also known as “the people of the seal.” Given how deeply their culture is tied to a subsistence lifestyle coupled with the new reality that the numbers of fur seals, seabirds and other marine life they hunt or fish are dwindling, how could this crisis not be affecting them?

      While on St. Paul, I spoke with many tribal elders who told me stories about fewer fish and sea birds, harsher storms and warming temperatures, but what struck me most deeply were their accounts of plummeting fur seal populations. Seal mothers, they said, had to swim so much farther to find food for their pups that the babies were starving to death before they could make it back.

      And the plight of those dramatically declining fur seals could well become the plight of the Unangan themselves, which in the decades to come, as climate turbulence increases, could very well become the plight of all of us.

    • Trump’s Border Wall Threatens Rare Butterflies and Native Bees

      Numerous experts have expressed fear that the wall would have devastating effects on birds, jaguars, fish, butterflies and potentially thousands of additional species.

      Now a new research project reveals that dozens of beautiful native bee species, most of which are rarely seen in the United States, could also be hurt or wiped out by the border wall. Bees perform crucial work as pollinators of plants that feed birds and other animals. If their numbers are reduced or species are lost altogether, it could cause a cascade of harmful environmental impacts.

      The bees, identified by nature photographers Paula Sharp and Ross Eatman along with a team of scientists, were found at the National Butterfly Center, a nonprofit that works to conserve and study wild butterflies in Mission, Texas. The Trump administration plans to build the border wall through more than half of the privately held 100-acre property.

    • Bernie Sanders: As World Faces Climate Crisis, 95% of EPA Workers Furloughed During Trump Shutdown—’How Insane Is That?’

      Bundled up in a winter coat, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stood outside the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, D.C. to raise alarm that the arm of the government “that should be leading the effort in this country and around the world to combat climate change” is barely operating due to President Donald Trump’s temper tantrum over border wall funding.

      In a video shared to social media on Tuesday, the senator called on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to stop blocking votes on legislation approved by the House that would end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

      While pointing to warnings from scientists that without an urgent transition away from burning fossil fuels, “the planet that we will be leaving our children and grandchildren will be increasingly unhealthy and uninhabitable,” Sanders noted that during the shutdown, 95 percent of EPA employees are furloughed and many are considered “nonessential.”

    • Warmer waters leave Irish anglers fishless

      Unusually high temperatures in 2018 have left many Irish anglers frustrated as fish struggle to survive in the Emerald Isle’s lakes and rivers, with the rising heat also causing an increase in methane emissions.

      Now changes in climate could threaten the anglers’ activities, putting in jeopardy what is a multi-million euro leisure industry.

      Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), a state agency, says that a heat wave across Ireland in the summer of 2018 caused temperatures in the country’s lakes and rivers to rise to what it describes as lethal levels for a number of freshwater fish species.

      The IFI’s findings, reported in the Irish Times newspaper, indicate that the two most affected species were salmon and trout – both prized by the freshwater fishing community.

      “The 2018 summer water temperatures need to be considered in the context of climate change predictions”, Cathal Gallagher, the IFI’s head of research, told the Irish Times.“If temperatures continue to increase, sensitive cold water fish species will be at risk.”

    • With US ‘Drilling Towards Disaster,’ Report Warns Anything Less Than Urgent Green New Deal Will Be ‘Too Little, Too Late’

      These are just two alarming findings from a report (pdf) published Wednesday by Oil Change International (OCI), which warns that—unless radical action on the scale of a Green New Deal is taken—U.S. fossil fuel production could single-handedly imperil the world’s ability to adequately confront the climate crisis before it’s too late.

      “Our findings present an urgent and existential emergency for lawmakers in the United States at all levels of government. The oil and gas industry is expanding further and faster in the United States than in any other country at precisely the time when we must begin rapidly decarbonizing to prevent runaway climate disaster,” said Kelly Trout, senior research analyst at OCI and co-author of the report, which was produced in collaboration with, Friends of the Earth, and over a dozen other progressive organizations.

      “This report should be a wake-up call for elected officials who consider themselves to be climate leaders,” Trout added. “We need a complete overhaul of our economy with a Green New Deal, and that overhaul must include standing up to the fossil fuel industry in order to take us off this path of devastation for our climate and communities. Anything less than a full, swift, and just managed decline of fossil fuel production is too little, too late.”

      Titled “Drilling Towards Disaster,” OCI’s report estimates that the continued expansion of massive fossil fuel extraction and pipeline projects throughout the U.S. under President Donald Trump has put the nation on track to account for 60 percent of global growth in fossil fuel production between 2019 and 2030—the year by which United Nations experts say the world must cut carbon emissions in half to avert planetary catastrophe.

    • Former Coal Lobbyist Andrew Wheeler Faces Senate Confirmation as EPA Administrator

      Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief — and now Trump cabinet nominee — Andrew Wheeler heads into Senate confirmation hearings at 10 a.m. EST Wednesday, as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history has left the EPA mostly shuttered.

      Wheeler, a former coal, petrochemical, and LNG (liquefied natural gas) lobbyist, has run America’s top environmental agency since ex-EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigned this summer under at least a dozen internal investigations.

      The Pruitt investigations — now abandoned, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General reported in November — ranged from concerns Pruitt tried to use EPA staff to help arrange a potential Chick-fil-A franchise deal for his wife (and to help him buy a used Trump Hotel mattress), enlisted environmental law enforcement staff as his own unjustified 24/7 personal security detail (and to pick up his dry cleaning), and a $50 per night condo deal struck with a lobbyist.

      Wheeler now faces confirmation hearings before the Republican-controlled Senate, as he did during his confirmation hearing to become deputy administrator. He won 53 votes at that time, including the votes of three Democrats, two of whom were voted out in 2018. Nonetheless, Senate Republicans would have enough votes to approve Wheeler’s confirmation even if he draws no bipartisan support.

    • Keeping Global Warming Below 1.5°C May Still Be Possible With Immediate Action, New Study Shows

      While that goal is described by some as “daunting,” critics of the Paris accord—which is backed by every nation on Earth except the United States under President Donald Trump—and its recently established rulebook have concluded that neither go far enough. Beyond those squabbles, though, there is a general consensus among the world’s scientists that tackling the climate crisis requires “rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented” societal reforms.

      Specifically, the new research shows that if carbon-intensive infrastructure is phased out from this point forward, there is a 64 percent chance of keeping global temperature rise within this century below 1.5°C. However, the window of opportunity is closing quickly. According to the report, “delaying mitigation until 2030 considerably reduces the likelihood that 1.5°C would be attainable even if the rate of fossil fuel retirement was accelerated.”

      “It’s good news from a geophysical point of view. But on the other side of the coin, the [immediate fossil fuel phaseout] is really at the limit of what we could we possibly do,” lead researcher Christopher Smith, of the University of Leeds, told the Guardian. “We are basically saying we can’t build anything now that emits fossil fuels.”

      While the findings suggest the world still has the option to meet the Paris agreement’s ambitions, there are some limitations to the research. As the Guardian pointed out, “the analysis did not include the possibility of tipping points such as the sudden release of huge volumes of methane from permafrost, which could spark runaway global warming.”

  • Finance
    • China’s growth data may mask economic risks: research group

      Economists in China and abroad have long suspected data is massaged upward, often noting that full-year gross domestic product hits Beijing’s pre-set targets with suspicious regularity.

    • “A Fight for the Soul of Britain”: Theresa May’s Brexit Deal Goes Down in Historic Defeat

      Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal was crushed Tuesday in the biggest defeat for a sitting British government in modern history. After months of build-up, May’s plan for withdrawing Britain from the European Union was voted down 432 to 202, fomenting political uncertainty about the future of Britain, as well as May’s leadership. On Wednesday, Parliament will vote on a no-confidence motion in May’s government. We speak with Paul Mason, New Statesman contributing writer, author and filmmaker. His latest piece for the New Statesman is titled “To avoid a disastrous failure, Labour must now have the courage to fight for Remain.”

    • Steny Hoyer Deploys ‘Republican-Lite Talking Points’ to Oppose 70% Tax Rate on Ultra-Rich That Most Americans Want

      Speaking to the news outlet Cheddar, Hoyer scoffed and smirked when asked on Tuesday whether he would support the proposal—even as he undermined his own point, admitting that a 70 percent tax rate for the rich has in fact existed in the U.S. in the past.

      Despite his stated view that “we need to get the deficit down” and “pay for our priorities and our needs,” Hoyer claimed that asking Americans making more than $10 million per year—as Ocasio-Cortez proposed—”is not reasonable to attain either politically or frankly, I think, from a policy standpoint.”

      Justice Democrats communications director Waleed Shahid compared Hoyer’s statement to “mealy-mouthed Republican-lite talking points in place of a vision of Democratic governance.”

    • Student veterans deserve better than the DeVos agenda

      Periodic crackdowns by Congress over the years have made it harder for unscrupulous providers to prey on veterans and waste taxpayer dollars. One important requirement was to ensure schools weren’t being paid to leave students to learn on their own. But this could soon change, as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos embarks on an ambitious — and scary — effort to deregulate higher education and open the floodgates of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid to those who care more about making a quick buck than making sure students get what they’re paying for.

    • How Cities Make Money by Fining the Poor

      That night, Tillman says, she conducted an informal poll of the 20 or so women in her pod at the Alcorn County jail. A majority, she says, were incarcerated for the same reason she was: an inability to pay a fine. Some had been languishing in jail for weeks. The inmates even had a phrase for it: “sitting it out.” Tillman’s face crumpled. “I thought, Because we’re poor, because we’re of a lower class, we aren’t allowed real freedom,” she recalled. “And it was the worst feeling in the world.”

      No government agency comprehensively tracks the extent of criminal-justice debt owed by poor defendants, but experts estimate that those fines and fees total tens of billions of dollars. That number is likely to grow in coming years, and significantly: National Public Radio, in a survey conducted with the Brennan Center for Justice and the National Center for State Courts, found that 48 states increased their civil and criminal court fees from 2010 to 2014. And because wealthy and middle-class Americans can typically afford either the initial fee or the services of an attorney, it will be the poor who shoulder the bulk of the burden.

    • It’s Time For A Homes Guarantee

      Our nation is in a full-blown housing emergency. Today, a person working full time in a minimum-wage job cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment – anywhere in the United States. More than half of all Americans spend a third or more of their income on housing. Only one in five households that qualify for federal housing assistance receives it.

      And right now, thanks to President Trump’s irresponsible government shutdown, hundreds of thousands of households may face eviction and homelessness.

      So we have to ask again, with even greater urgency, the question we put to HUD Secretary Ben Carson when we confronted him in Las Vegas last spring: “Where will we live?”

      This is the humanitarian crisis we should be talking about: the one that’s right under our noses, and is growing larger every day. Most people – especially low-income families and communities of color – live one emergency away from an eviction. More than three million families and individuals are already experiencing homelessness, including over one million children.

    • Unpaid federal workers get help from food banks during government shutdown
    • The 2019 government shutdown is just the latest reason why poor people can’t bank on the safety net

      I conduct a lot of in-depth interviews with people like a woman I’ll call Angie as part of my work as a political scientist who studies poverty and public policy. When I asked the low-income mother of two, who works multiple jobs but still struggles to care for her family, about her experience with government assistance programs, she expressed dismay over benefit cuts.

      “The people who make these rules … they don’t have any poor people in their family,” she told me. “That is why they are willing to chop so many services for the poor.”

      People living in poverty are now bracing for that kind of chopping as a result of the partial government shutdown that began in December. By the three-week mark, most safety-net benefits were still being funded. But should the impasse drag on, that could change.

      In my view, the added economic hardship brought on would highlight an enduring aspect of American public policy: Government benefits can be unreliable. They can be cut or eliminated arbitrarily.

    • Arne Duncan’s Attack on Los Angeles Public Teachers Shows He Doesn’t Care About Real Student Needs

      Literally tens of thousands of Los Angeles public schoolteachers and support staff are on strike this week, demanding that the wealthy elites who run LA’s school district address the desperate need for more resources and supports for their students. But just weeks before the strike began, former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote an op-ed in The Hill essentially telling educators to back off their demands because there’s not enough money to fund them – even though those public school educators live in one of the wealthiest states in the nation.

      Let’s be clear. Arne Duncan has never taught a day in his life. He sent his children to an elite private school with small class sizes and great resources. He landed his job as CEO of Chicago Public Schools through insider ties—where he pushed policies that hurt our public school students’ access to the very same resources his own children had. He’s pushed endlessly for school privatization, and he’s been a national proponent of the teacher blame game as a way to dodge the real need for more resources for public education. Now he wants to silence Los Angeles teachers who are demanding the very supports for their students that Duncan’s children received—in a state with the fifth largest economy on the planet.

      “We need the opposite of what [Arne] Duncan brought to the table in Chicago and what he proposes in Los Angeles.”

    • 3 Reasons to Pay Attention to the LA Teacher Strike

      The first mass teacher labor action of 2019 is unfolding in California as the United Teachers Los Angeles walked out for the first time in 30 years.

      This strike, which began on Jan. 14, isn’t just important to people in Los Angeles. Here are three reasons the nation should pay attention.

      1. The Los Angeles case is different

      The Los Angeles strike stands out because of the size of the district.

      With 640,000 students, and about 500,000 enrolled in the district’s public schools, Los Angeles represents the second largest school district in the United States. The only bigger district is New York City.

      The Los Angeles strike involves 34,000 teachers. To compare, the statewide 2018 teacher strike in West Virginia – where I am researching teacher strikes and teacher shortages – involved about 20,000 teachers and affected approximately 270,000 students.

      Also, the political context is different. When West Virginia teachers walked out of the classroom, they were battling a conservative state legislature in a largely rural, majority-white state. Los Angeles is urban, far more diverse, and located in a state that has voted mostly Democratic in presidential elections since 1992.

      Los Angeles Unified School District’s student population is 73 percent Latino, 10.5 percent white, 8.2 percent black and 4.2 percent Asian. The district serves over 150,000 students whose first language is not English.

      The situation for the Los Angeles teachers union is also different in several ways. For instance, it is engaged in an active fight against the rapid growth of charter schools. Los Angeles is home to the largest number of charter schools in the U.S. with 277.

      Since 2008, the charter industry in Los Angeles has grown 287 percent. According to the Los Angeles teachers union, this is effectively siphoning US$550 million per year from the district’s traditional public schools.

    • LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”

      So said Kirk Douglas as Spartacus, the leader of the renowned ancient slave revolt, in the movie Spartacus. The closer we came to a strike, the more furious the conservative establishment’s attacks on United Teachers of Los Angeles became. Their fear is palpable.

      Teachers are supposed to submit to the massive underfunding of our schools and tackle the problems in our usual way–self-sacrifice. This means working insane hours, trying to do what can’t be done, and spending our own money to buy what Los Angeles Unified School District will not. It means being blamed for the district’s shortcomings and the negative effects poverty has on our overwhelmingly impoverished student body.

      Finally, we said “No.”

      Our strike is so obviously popular that teachers unions’ more sensible opponents have refrained from attacking us, instead mouthing platitudes about “what’s good for the children.” But not so with the more open enemies of unions, teachers, and public schools.

    • ‘This Model of Education Is Not Sustainable’

      The Los Angeles teachers are on strike for the first time since 1989, demanding a change to conditions that have become intolerable. They’re demanding reduced class sizes; more counselors, nurses, and psychologists; less testing; a cap on charter schools; and an increase in statewide, per-student funding to raise California from its current, dismal rank of 43rd in the nation for such spending. Before voting to strike, they spent 20 months bargaining with the superintendent, Austin Beutner, who was chosen by LA’s elected school board, only to hit a stalemate on the major demands. A few months earlier, Beutner had accused the union of bargaining in bad faith, but to talk to the teachers—about the experience each day of teaching in LA’s schools, about their reasons for striking—was to understand that they had put their faith in a school system that continued to fail them.

    • #TacosForTeachers: crowdfunding to feed LA’s teachers as they strike against privatization and austerity

      Teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (America’s largest district) are walking the picket line this week in the pouring rain, demanding an end to the billionaire dark-money backed privatization movement that funnels public education funds to the shareholders of racially segregated, underperforming charter schools.

      The Democratic Socialists of America have started a GoFundMe to provide taco truck meals to the striking teachers. It was originally intended to raise $1,000 and feed a couple schools’ worth of teachers, but it’s reached $24,000 as of this writing.

    • “Public Education Is Not Your Plaything”: L.A. Teachers Strike Against Privatization & Underfunding

      Los Angeles public school teachers are on strike for the first time in three decades. On Monday morning, tens of thousands of teachers braved pouring rain on the picket line for the strike’s first day. Some 20,000 people marched through downtown Los Angeles, demanding smaller class sizes, higher pay, the regulation of charter schools and more nurses, counselors and librarians. Over 31,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles are striking. We speak with Cecily Myart-Cruz, strike leader and National Education Association vice president at United Teachers Los Angeles, and Eric Blanc, a reporter covering the strike for The Guardian and Jacobin. He is author of the forthcoming book “Red State Revolt: The Teachers’ Strike Wave and Working-Class Politics.”

    • Caroline Lucas: We need a People’s Vote no matter who’s in Number 10

      Responding to events in Parliament tonight, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said:

      “This is game over for Theresa May. But it’s only the end of the beginning of this whole Brexit saga.

      “MPs don’t want Theresa May’s deal, they rightly reject no deal, and they can’t have a fantasy renegotiation.

    • Ocasio-Cortez Forced to Explain Marginal Tax Rates to ‘Far-Right Former Governor’ Scott Walker

      “What Walker leaves out of the story,” joked Washington Post political reporter Dave Weigel, “is that the student had already made $9,999,990 on house work that year and the extra $10 pushed him into the top bracket.”

      “How is it even possible that you don’t know how marginal tax rates work?” the progressive advocacy group Credo Mobile asked Walker.

      And while the Patriotic Millionaires, a group wealthy individuals which advocates for higher taxes on people in their tax bracket, offered to share their resource materials to Walker so that he might better understand how the marginal rate works, their progressive allies at the Tax March also wanted to help.

      “Hey Scott Walker, it’s clear that you don’t understand marginal tax rates and we can’t have you mis-informing America’s children,” the group tweeted. “Check out our newest explainer video, it will get you up to speed.”

    • Britain’s May Faces No-Confidence Vote After Brexit Plan Crushed

      British lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce deal with the European Union on Tuesday, plunging the Brexit process into chaos and triggering a no-confidence vote that could topple her government.

      The defeat was widely expected, but the scale of the House of Commons’ vote — 432 votes against the government and 202 in support — was devastating for May’s fragile leadership.

      It followed more than two years of political upheaval in which May has staked her political reputation on getting a Brexit deal and was the biggest defeat for a government in the House of Commons in modern history.

      Moments after the result was announced — with Speaker John Bercow bellowing “the noes have it” to a packed Commons chamber — May said it was only right to test whether the government still had lawmakers’ support to carry on. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn quickly obliged, saying May’s government had lost the confidence of Parliament.

      Lawmakers will vote Wednesday on his motion of no-confidence. If the government loses, it will have 14 days to overturn the result or face a national election.

    • Richard Wolff: The Next Economic Crisis Is Coming

      Every time I sit down with economist Richard Wolff, he demonstrates why the field of economics is so necessary in the cultural critique of our American empire. In my recent interview with him, we discussed why the thriving economy touted by President Donald Trump hasn’t translated into real gains for the majority of Americans. We also went over what is hidden by the economic indicators that allow the financial industry to celebrate while so many Americans are still suffering.

      Professor Wolff talked with me on my show “Redacted Tonight: VIP” on RT America. Enjoy this excerpt from the interview.

    • As Poll Shows Majority Back 70% Tax Rate for Ultra-Rich, Ocasio-Cortez’s “Radical” Proposal Proves Extremely Mainstream

      Conducted by The Hill in partnership with the market research firm HarrisX, the poll found that 59 percent of the U.S. public supports raising the marginal tax rate on the richest Americans to 70 percent. The poll also found a “surprising amount of support” for the proposal among Republicans, with 45 percent backing the idea along with 71 percent of Democrats.

      “Oh? What’s that? The majority of Americans respect when you break down reasonable policy proposals that are designed to combat runaway income inequality and help fund priorities they value most?” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter in response to the new survey. “We can win public sentiment, stand our ground, and not be scared by GOP [mis]information.”

      “I don’t think it’s surprising,” Ocasio-Cortez said of the poll results in an interview with The Hill. “What we see, overall, is that the vast majority of Americans know that income inequality is one of the biggest issues of our time.”

    • Wednesday Papers: Theresa May’s Brexit plan falls by 230 votes

      Financial Times: Theresa May’s Brexit deal suffered a crushing defeat on Tuesday night in the House of Commons after MPs rejected the Prime Minister’s flagship policy by an overwhelming 230 votes.

      The Independent: The pound plunged and then rallied against the euro after Theresa May’s Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by Parliament; sterling fell 0.74% against the euro to hit €1.1133 but it then recovered, rising 0.37% to €1.1257.

      The Daily Telegraph (Comment): We risk talking the UK economy into recession with all those Brexit scare tactics.

      The Independent: The International Air Transport Association has warned of potentially higher air fares, and reiterated that some flights from the UK could be cancelled if the country crashes out of the European Union.

    • Racism Poisons the Entire Brexit Debate

      It appears sadly impossible not to comment on Brexit at the moment; the astonishing scale of the government defeat in Parliament yesterday and the appalling self-serving behaviour of politicians on all sides compels attention.

      The first and most obvious point is this; had Theresa May any honour, she would simply resign after her major political objective was rebuffed so dramatically by the legislature. But honour appears to be entirely out of fashion, so I shall not refer to it again today.

      Parliament now appears ready to vote that it has confidence in the government when, clearly, it does not. This is because MPs wish to keep their jobs and careers intact. So from hereon the UK proceeds under the lie that it has a government which has a majority in Westminster for its views.

      Even more remarkably, Theresa May has no intention of seeking a proposal that could command a majority. She seeks to move forward with cross-party discussions which exclude the leadership of other parties. She also insists that such discussions must be limited by her infamous “red lines” – but within those constraints, there is no deal materially different to the deal Parliament has just rejected which will ever be available.

    • Angela Merkel Says There’s Still Time for Brexit Negotiations

      Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila is urging all British citizens living the Nordic country to immediately register at Finland’s immigration service to make sure they receive a living permit in case of no-deal Brexit.

      Sipila told Finnish news agency STT Wednesday that the temporary permit will be issued so that the 5,000 Britons currently living in the country of 5.5 million can continue their stay if Britain exits the European Union without a deal.

      He said the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit has increased as a result of the British parliament’s decision to reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal Tuesday.

      The Finnish government’s social benefits office Kela said there may be major changes to what social benefits British citizens in Finland may be entitled to in case of a Brexit without an agreement, but did not provide details.

    • How Illinois Bet on Video Gambling and Lost

      WITH THE LAST STREAKS OF DAYLIGHT fading on a mild October evening, the cars pulled up in waves at Piero’s Italian Cuisine, an old-school Las Vegas hotspot known for its osso buco.
      Cadillacs with tinted windows. Taxis and rideshares. A black Bentley limousine and a white minivan. Men and women emerged, most casually dressed, there for the first of a series of posh, private events hosted by the video gambling industry during the 2018 Global Gaming Expo, North America’s largest gambling trade show. They included gambling executives, lobbyists — and about a dozen Illinois lawmakers.
      The politicians had flown to Las Vegas to learn about the latest developments in the gambling industry and to discuss its expansion in Illinois, including proposals that would, among other items, license six new casinos in the state, legalize sports betting and increase the wagering limit on video gambling machines. The plans, lawmakers have said, would brighten the state’s gloomy financial picture without having to raise taxes or cut spending.

    • How We Analyzed Video Gambling in Illinois
    • Do You Know Someone Struggling With Video Gambling? ​Help Us Understand Video Slot and Poker Addiction in Illinois.
    • Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World

      World Bank president Jim Kim is an ex-leftist who claims that in the mid-1990s he wanted to shut down the Bank. At the time, it was an entirely valid, realistic goal of the 50 Years is Enough! Campaign and especially the World Bank Bonds Boycott. Kim’s co-edited Dying for Growth (2000) book-length analysis of the Bank’s attacks on Global-South public health offered very useful ammunition.

      However, not only did Kim subsequently make an ideological U-turn, as we see below, but more importantly, among the casualties of the 9/11 attacks were many such movement-building efforts aimed at a common international enemy. The global justice scene faded quickly as a result of new divisions between social activists and U.S. labor patriots, the shift by internationalists into anti-war mobilizing, and the ascendance of NGO-led World Social Forum talk-shopping. Other more hopeful recent leftist waves also ebbed: Latin America’s Pink Tide and 2011’s Occupy moment in many sites across the world. Perhaps the recent revival of social-democratic politics in the two core (Anglo-American) sites of neoliberalism will make this post-2001 lapse appear as an only temporary setback.

      If so, one inevitable site to identify neoliberalism’s coldest logic – and sometimes most brute-force muscles – is the World Bank, an institution often engaged in self-delegitimization. So if activists across the globe do not currently have a central site of resistance, nevertheless countless battles are being waged at any given time against Bank projects and ideology. The battle over its leadership is worth close attention.

      After founding an impressive NGO (Partners in Health) and pursuing Harvard anthropology and public health scholarship during the 1990s, Kim went on to run the World Health Organization’s AIDS division (very well indeed, helping get generic medicines to millions), and then Dartmouth College (not so well). Improbably, in 2012 he then became World Bank president due to his proximity to Bill and Hillary Clinton. But he made mistake after mistake for six and a half years at 18th & H Sts, NW Washington, alienating all kinds of different constituencies. In the wake of his sudden resignation last week, practically no one has a good word to say about Kim.

    • ‘Change Is Coming!’ Congressional Dems Join Sanders in Proposing Bill to End ‘Starvation Wages,’ Ensuring $15 Per Hour for All Workers

      The bicameral Raise the Wage Act would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, where it’s stood since 2009, to $15 by 2024. The proposal would also bar employers from paying tipped workers below the minimum wage and stipulate future pay increases for low-wage workers to keep up with median wage growth and cost of living.

      The House bill has 181 co-sponsors, while 31 Democrats joined Sanders in co-sponsoring the Senate version.

      “Just a few short years ago, we were told that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour was ‘radical.’” said Sanders in a statement. “But a grassroots movement of millions of workers throughout this country refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. It is not a radical idea to say a job should lift you out of poverty, not keep you in it. The current $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage is a starvation wage. It must be increased to a living wage of $15 an hour.”

      The grassroots movement the senator referred to was the group Fight for $15, which began its fight for a minimum wage increase in 2012 and has since grown into a global movement in hundreds of cities. Fight for $15 celebrated the bill’s introduction, with members gathering in Washington, D.C. as the legislation was proposed.

    • Masters of Our Domain: Foxconn and State Minions Seize Land

      A government’s right of eminent domain is typically used to condemn and buy up property that stands in the way of projects purportedly serving direct public needs, such as roads or large-scale public transit. But in Wisconsin, the rationale has been harnessed at the expense of the public good.

      The village of Mt. Pleasant, for example, is using Wisconsin’s eminent domain laws to force out homeowners on land coveted by the Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn for a television and computer-screen plant in southeastern Wisconsin, about twenty miles south of Milwaukee. The nearly four-square-mile project is already slated to receive up to $4.5 billion in state and local subsidies. It will also be exempt from paying taxes due to Wisconsin’s existing laws, will benefit from an exemption to smog control regulations (thanks to former EPA chief Scott Pruitt), and the waiving of water quality protections for wetlands and Lake Michigan.

    • Amazon Dash Buttons Ruled Illegal In Germany For… Making It Too Easy To Buy Stuff

      You can count me among those who don’t see the value in those Amazon Dash buttons that got plenty of attention a few years back, allowing those who had the little single-button devices to re-order some consumable product with the push of a single button. Even if lots of people made fun of them at launch, Amazon has expanded them to many more brands. So, even if I don’t see the value, it appears plenty of people do. Except, in Germany, they’re now illegal, because apparently some people are upset that they make things too easy to order.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Inside Megyn Kelly’s troubled exit from NBC

      The former Fox News host lasted just 18 months at NBC News, but Page Six learned during the course of her negotiations that the sticking point over her exit deal was not her astronomical salary — but her non-disclosure agreement to keep quiet about the network and its staff, which she eventually signed.

    • White House Shifts Shutdown Strategy, Attempts to Bypass Pelosi

      Shifting strategy, the White House invited rank-and-file House Democrats to lunch Tuesday with President Donald Trump, bypassing Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team in an effort to get centrist and freshman lawmakers on board with funding Trump’s long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall.

      Pelosi approved of lawmakers attending the meeting, telling her team that the group can see what she and others have been dealing with in trying to negotiate with Trump to end the partial government shutdown, now in its 25th day with no resolution in sight.

      Pelosi predicted that after meeting with Trump the lawmakers will want to make a “citizen’s arrest,” according to the aide, who wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity.

      Lawmakers invited to the White House include centrist Democrats from districts where Trump is popular, including freshmen.

    • Once a ‘Laughingstock’ on Voting Rights, Reform Package Moves New York Toward More ‘Inclusive Democracy’

      Voting rights advocates celebrated Monday night as state lawmakers in New York—long considered a “national laughingstock” on voting rights—took a major step toward creating a “strong, inclusive democracy” by passing election reform legislation.

      The legislative package—which Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated he will sign into law—includes provisions on early voting; the consolidation of state and federal primaries to one day; same-day registration; pre-registration for teenagers; portable registration; and “no excuse” absentee voting.

    • Trump’s Government Shutdown Furthers Native Genocide

      As the US government shutdown goes into day 25, it is now the longest US shutdown ever. While many are suffering from this crisis created by Trump’s demands for his wall, Indigenous people are faring the worst. Treaty-guaranteed rights to health care, food and other services are going unmet, endangering the lives of Native people.

      Indian Health Services (IHS) and the USDA Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations aren’t receiving the necessary funds to operate. Indian Health Services provides medical care to members and citizens of state and federally recognized Indigenous nations within the occupied US. While the reservation-based Indian Health Services facilities have received some funds, all urban Indian Health Services facilities have gone unfunded. This is particularly devastating, given that 70 percent of Native people are urban-based.

      Kerry Hawk Lessard, a Shawnee descendant and executive director of Native American Lifelines — an Indian Health Services agency that serves Native people in the Baltimore and Boston metropolitan areas — has had to make some heartbreaking decisions. Lifelines serves its communities through the purchase of care reimbursements for medical expenses, dental, behavioral health, and cultural and community-based services. Before the shutdown began, Indian Health Services owed two months of reimbursements totaling $130,000 to Lifelines, according to Lessard. The agency had to immediately operate on its reserves and suspend services when the shutdown began. “You have this right to health care that your ancestors paid for with land and blood and genocide,” Lessard told Truthout.

    • Democrats’ Attacks on AOC Are Silly and Self-Defeating

      A number of Democratic lawmakers appear to be ganging up on Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, accusing her of undermining unity in her own party. But underneath their lectures about being a team player lies a deeper concern: that she might have the power to remold the party in her own image.

      In a much-talked-about Politico article published on Friday, close to a dozen Democratic members of Congress and staffers criticized the Bronx-born freshman for her brash political style. It was a remarkable report—Ocasio-Cortez has barely been in Congress two weeks, and several of her colleagues were willing to express blunt rebukes of her, many of them on the record. “She needs to decide: Does she want to be an effective legislator or just continue being a Twitter star?” said one Democratic lawmaker.


      Ocasio-Cortez isn’t a normal freshman. She toppled a Wall Street-backed ten-term incumbent who was the fourth-most powerful Democrat in House leadership, and did it with virtually no money or political experience. A democratic socialist, she quickly revealed a preternatural ability to discuss left-wing ideas as if they were mere common sense, earning praise from scholars as Reaganesque in her ability to communicate. Telegenic and media savvy, she goes viral without a hint of effort, and is pioneering novel forms of political engagement like the Instagram town hall. And as a young Puerto Rican woman, she has become the iconic face of a rapidly diversifying Democratic caucus that’s beginning to look more like the constituencies it represents.

      While Ocasio-Cortez’s critics say she only represents one district and nothing more, her ability to bend the news cycle to her will day after day, to generate weird, obsessive criticism from right-wing media, and to electrify the left nationwide suggests that her message is resonating far more widely.

    • A Democrat Who Votes With Trump 69% of the Time Should Be Primaried

      In the 2018 midterm election, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley upset long-time incumbent Democrats who had grown out-of-touch with their deep blue districts, progressives revealed enormous energy for change in the Democratic Party primary electorate.

      The result: A former bartender from the Bronx now has more Twitter followers than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and is reshaping the Democratic Party and another is bravely taking to the floor of Congress to condemn Trump’s government shutdown. When new members know there’s a progressive base they need to respond to, they embrace progressive policies.

      Democratic voters are not afraid of primary challenges, so the party shouldn’t be either. A 2018 poll conducted by the progressive think tank Data for Progress and data analytics firm YouGov Blue showed that 54% of Democrats agree that, “Democrats should provide a clear, positive agenda to contrast with Trump and the Republican culture of corruption. Primary elections ensure the strongest Democrats emerge to advance that agenda.”

    • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Jumps Into 2020 Presidential Race

      Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand entered the growing field of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders Tuesday, telling television host Stephen Colbert that she’s launching an exploratory committee.

      “It’s an important first step, and it’s one I am taking because I am going to run,” the New York senator said on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” She listed a series of issues she’d tackle as president, including better health care for families, stronger public schools and more accessible job training.

      Gillibrand, 52, has already made plans to campaign in Iowa over the weekend, more than a year before the leadoff caucus state votes.

    • As With Any Animal That Is Rabid: Bobby Rush Is Really Not Down With Steve King Or White Supremacy

      We’re glad that after 27,624 abhorrent remarks over nine terms in Congress, Iowa Rep. Steve “Anchor Babies” King’s GOP colleagues finally noticed he’s a racist and moved to strip him of his power on House committees. Their disingenuous protestations – from Kevin McCarthy intoning “that language has no place in America” to Mitch McConnell tsk-tsking he “has no tolerance for such positions” – struck many as the rhetorical equivalent of issuing thoughts and prayers to combat racism. Nonetheless, King took the criticism with the grace of any Nazi, blasting a “political decision that ignores the truth” and whining about the “assault on my freedom of speech.” Observers were unmoved – “Your hood is showing…Eat shit, corn Hitler” – maybe because they’ve witnessed his atrocities over 20 years in office as he fought to restrict abortion, uphold “traditional marriage,” make English Iowa’s official language, keep races separate, protect civilization from “somebody else’s babies” and liken those babies to “dirt,” all while deeming Obama a “very urban” son of Kenya and displaying a Confederate flag on his desk. Given all that, many wondered what a white dude had to say to get fired.

      Now we know: In the wrong political moment, he had to gripe that what’s wrong with white supremacy anyway? King’s final-straw offense moved the Congressional Black Caucus to demand early on he be stripped of his committee roles. Then came the rare, fire-and-brimstone call for censure from senior Caucus member and longtime Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush, who denounced King’s “pattern of despicable comments” and declared, “This must come to a screeching halt right now.” To be clear, this is not Rush’s first rodeo: A former Black Panther Defense Minister, he co-founded the Illinois Panthers in 1968 and took over as leader after the 1969 murder of Fred Hampton by Chicago police and the FBI. A few years ago, Rush got thrown off the House floor for wearing a hoodie to protest the killing of Trayvon Martin; he still cites his revolutionary roots, is clearly done with the scummy likes of King, and used as radical language as one is likely to hear in the genteel, euphemistic confines of Congress when he said of King,“He has become too comfortable with proudly insulting, disrespecting, and denigrating people of color. As with any animal that is rabid, Steve King should be set aside and isolated.”

    • Warning of ‘Catastrophic Event,’ Air Traffic Controllers Union Official Says Flying ‘Absolutely’ Less Safe Due to Trump Shutdown

      “Each day that this shutdown continues, the situation gets worse and worse,” Trish Gilbert, executive vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told CNN in an interview. “There are several complicated, complex layers in our system to ensure that it maintains the critical safety components that we all rely on when we fly. What we don’t want to see is a catastrophic event occur, and for us to come to you and say we told you that controllers are working longer hours, and now they don’t have their support staff.”

      “They’re going to work unpaid, so they’re not sleeping at night,” Gilbert said of air traffic controllers. “They’re looking for other jobs; maybe they’re driving Uber before or after their shift. This is unacceptable.”

      Asked if people should be concerned about flight safety as the shutdown continues with no end in sight, Gilbert answered in the affirmative, declaring: “I would say it is less safe today than it was a month ago, absolutely.”

      “We do not have the professionals on the job. We are working with bare-bones crews. We have controllers there doing what they do very, very well, but how long can you expect them to do it without all of the systems behind them to keep the system safe and the planes in the air?” Gilbert continued. “This is a horrible game of chicken that we’re in the middle of, and we need to get out of it, and we need to get out of it today.”

    • Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.

      The historical ties of Mexican immigrants to the U.S., specifically the Southwest, distinguishes people of Mexican origin from other immigrant groups, especially those from Europe. While Mexican immigrants continue to be demonized and characterized as “criminals,” “drug dealers,” “rapists,” “illegal aliens” and “invaders” by American leaders and millions of white citizens, they have essentially become “foreigners in their own land.”

      In his infamous article, “The Hispanic Threat,” the late Dr. Samuel P. Huntington of Harvard claimed that Latinas/os in general and individuals of Mexican origin in particular represented an existential threat to the U.S. By studying history, however, we can easily dismiss racist labels and false narratives by small-minded American leaders, scholars and citizens. Moreover, we can learn the true history about the actual invaders. For instance, in progressive history books, like Dr. Ronald Takaki’s A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, we learn that white Americans gradually migrated into what is now known as Texas during the 1820s. While the Mexican government allowed for whites to settle in this foreign territory, the authorities did so under the assumption that the Americans adopt Mexican customs, learn Spanish and intermarry with the native population. This originally occurred without much conflict, which reveals the openness of the Mexican government and its people towards foreigners.

      By 1826, according to Takaki, then-President John Quincy Adams offered the Mexican government $1 million for Texas, where the Mexican government refused. Once Mexico outlawed slavery in 1830, however, American slaver owners, along with other white settlers, rebelled and formed The Republic of Texas in 1836. By 1845, it was annexed into the United States.

      It appears to me that the white settlers or gringos took the Mexicans literally when the hosts generously said, “Mi casa es su casa.”

    • Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell

      I just listened to Joe Biden’s seventeen-and-a-half minute 2003 eulogy for his political friend Strom Thurmond, the former Dixiecrat segregationist from South Carolina who became a Republican in 1964. It’s clear Biden liked the man, who he worked closely with to pass crime bills in the early 1980s. As Thurmond’s replacement as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden went on to push the now-controversial bill he proudly touts as “the 1994 Biden Crime Bill.” This is the bill about which, in 2015, former President Bill Clinton told an NAACP convention concerned about the mass incarceration of African Americans: “I signed a bill that made the problem worse. And I want to admit it.” According to a 2015 NY Times story, “Today, about 2.2 million Americans are locked up in federal and state prisons and local jails, twice as many as when Mr. Clinton took office.”

      Biden’s long eulogy is full of warmth and wit and, for a liberal like Biden, driven by a spirit of forgiveness and, more important, a pragmatic sense of political synthesis between the dead man’s racist past and what Biden claims as his political mission, the pursuit of civil rights. He had been asked by Thurmond himself to give it. The problem is, when we forgive past shortcomings or evils in order to get over hurdles to make change possible so we can move on to better things, there needs to be true atonement, or it can’t work. And even if one argues that Strom Thurmond in old age was ready to atone in some way and to really move on, it’s crystal clear from the current state of Thurmond’s chosen Republican Party — still notorious for its cynical Nixonian “southern strategy” — that honest atonement is far from the order of the day; that, in fact, a dishonest, dog-whistle reanimation of that racist past is still alive in the heart of Thurmond’s Republican Party.

      In 1981, when Biden and Thurmond began to work together, Thurmond, who had been in politics since 1933, may have become a kindly old man with very real personal desires to atone. And the savvy, new Senator Joe Biden, 40 years his junior, may have figured out how to exploit those personal issues in order to accomplish legislation he found advantageous to his own and Democratic power needs. But this is 2019, and in the current political environment, Joe Biden’s clearly documented instincts for appeasing the conservative right to juice-up eroding Democratic power would be a coward’s way of regaining power. What’s needed is a new, courageous and pragmatic vision.

    • Trump Violates Law by Taking Putin Notes

      The Washington Post has reported that Trump “has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter, and ordering the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials.

      As a result, U.S. officials have said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years.

      This is unprecedented in Presidential history, and truly chilling. After all, fourteen U.S. intelligence agencies have already concluded that Russia interfered with the 2016 elections, and Trump and his campaign is under investigation for possible conspiracy and obstruction of the probe.

      Without a written record, there is no way for the American public, Robert Mueller, or even top Trump national security advisors to know what he discussed with Putin on multiple occasions, what promises he may have made to the Russians, or even what instructions he may have received from Putin.

    • ‘Like I said: A puppet’: Hillary Clinton repeats her allegation that Trump is working on behalf of Russian interests

      Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, reiterated her claim that President Donald Trump is a “puppet” of Russia in a rare tweet addressing Trump on Monday.

      “Like I said: A puppet,” she added to a retweet of a now viral video from an October 2016 presidential debate in which she first asserted that Trump was a “puppet” of Russia.

      When Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin had “no respect” for Clinton, she hit back by saying, “that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president,” prompting Trump to reply, “no puppet, you’re the puppet!”

    • A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons

      Unlike the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, given the essential place and nature of debate in the Commons, is expected (procedurally at any rate) to be a kind of neutral referee in recurrently adversarial situations.

      The Speaker of the House of Commons does not have to come from the party that wins the general election– speakers are elected by the entire House, and any MP can be a candidate in this election.

      Historically, though no longer, the Speaker’s position has sometimes been deadly for its holders: seven Speakers of the Commons have been executed.

      Incidentally, some of my American friends, upon being informed by me of this piece of arcane Ukanian parliamentary history, and knowing that the US retains the death penalty, say this would be a fate befitting the recently retired Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, the widely-denounced hypocrite Paul Ryan, and several others as well.

      John Crace, the superb parliamentary sketch-writer of The Guardian, said in a recent piece that many Tory Brexiteers would have the current Speaker, John Bercow (a Tory who has been in this position since 2009), meet the same fate as his seven executed predecessors.

      Given that their role is to enforce routine rules of procedure, Speakers of the Commons rarely have the chance to make momentous interventions.

    • Did ‘The Sopranos’ Anticipate the Rise of Trump?

      In “The Sopranos’ ” controversial and relentlessly scrutinized final episode “Made in America,” Tony’s misfit son AJ makes a reluctant announcement: he’s going to fight in Afghanistan because he believes the Army will improve his career prospects. “My ultimate goal is to qualify for helicopter pilot training,” he tells an incredulous Tony. “Afterwards go to work for Trump or somebody. Be their personal pilot.” (AJ ultimately accepts a position at “Little” Carmine Lupertazzi’s production company, which is developing a movie about a private detective who gets sucked into the internet.)

      Twelve years later, the U.S. is still fighting in Afghanistan and Donald Trump has improbably ascended to the White House, his family’s criminal undertakings offering their own source of fascination for the American public. To borrow a phrase from “Sopranos” character Bobby Baccalieri, maybe Quasimodo predicted all this. Either way, the series has proved remarkably prescient in its assessment of America as a culture and a society.

      “I think the thematic heart of the show—corruption, consumption and waste—are subjects that are on people’s minds to a far greater degree now than they were in the late ’90s,” New York Magazine’s Matt Zoller Seitz tells Truthdig. “And I hate to be so blunt, but we have a kind of gangster president.”

      In their new book, “The Sopranos Sessions,” Seitz and co-author Alan Sepinwall offer a critical reexamination of the HBO drama—one that explores how the series revolutionized serial television, aesthetically and thematically. “The show’s mercurial unpredictability was electrifying,” they write in their introduction. “Pre-Sopranos, TV was widely dismissed as a medium for programs that didn’t ask the viewer to think about anything except what was coming on next, and that preferred lovable characters who didn’t change and had no inner life. The ideal network series was filler between commercials.”

    • Applause as AOC, Porter, Pressley, and Tlaib Head to House Financial Services Committee

      Following outrage last week after Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) shut out progressives from some of the chamber’s most powerful committees, news that freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) are headed to the Financial Services Committee was met with applause.

      Congratulating the quartet, Social Security Works called it “scary news for Wall Street and great news for the rest of us!”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Roku defends hosting Infowars

      Roku has been receiving angry tweets from users over the past few days after many noticed that Infowars continues to be available on the TV streaming device, as first reported by DigiDay. Infowars, known for its hateful content, was effectively de-platformed last year after being booted from Apple’s App Store, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, dramatically limiting its ability to reach viewers.

    • Roku explains why it allowed Infowars on its platform

      Because of Jones’ claims, the Sandy Hook families have received death threats and have been continually harassed, even offline. Jones has also promoted other theories that led to violence, like Pizzagate.

    • Infowars Must Turn Over Internal Documents to Sandy Hook Families, Judge Rules

      The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are relatives of five children and three adults who were killed, and one F.B.I. agent who responded to the shooting. Their complaint said the families have faced “physical confrontation and harassment, death threats, and a sustained barrage of harassment and verbal assault on social media.”

    • Court To Revenge Porn Bro Suing Twitter: You Agreed To Twitter Picking The Courtroom Every Time You Created A New Alt Account

      Craig Brittain’s $1 billion lawsuit against Twitter is still rolling slowly towards its inevitable dismissal. Bringing with him his usual legal expertise — which includes badly misreading the Knight Institute v. Trump decision and asking for some weird hybrid judgment/injunction/perma-unbanning — Brittain has so far forced Twitter to… move his case to another venue. (via Eric Goldman)

      Twitter invoked the forum selection clause of its terms of service — terms Brittain agreed to time and time again as he created new accounts only to have them permanently suspended later. The terms say Twitter can move your lawsuit to its preferred venue (California federal court) and if you don’t like it, well… you can just not use Twitter and/or sue Twitter.

      Brittain’s attempt to avoid having his Arizona lawsuit moved to California contains some rather novel legal arguments.

    • Texas Speech Pathologist Fired for Refusal to Sign Pro-Israel Oath

      A 2018 report shows that American citizens are actively being stripped of their First Amendment rights. As Glenn Greenwald, reported, 26 states have enacted Israel loyalty oath requirements for contract workers, and 13 other US states have similar bills pending. Greenwald’s reported cited figures from Legal Palestine, an independent organization that protects the civil rights of people in the US who speak out for Palestinian freedom.

      The laws allow the state governments to sanction and impose limits on citizens who participate in political boycotts of Israel. The First Amendment is supposed to protect citizens from being punished for expressing their political beliefs, Greenwald reported, but for Bahia Amawi, a children’s speech pathologist in Texas, this has not been the case.

    • St. Petersburg court upholds customs seizure of Masha Gessen’s new book about modern-day Russian ‘totalitarianism’

      In November, Russian lawyer Sergey Golubok received a letter from the Pulkovskaya customs agency asking whether a book he had ordered on Amazon contained “signs of propagandizing certain views and ideologies.” The book in question was journalist and political analyst Masha Gessen’s The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which won the 2017 National Book Award for nonfiction. After the book was temporarily seized and then returned to Golubok, he filed a legal complaint about the incident. Kommersant reports that while the attorney’s complaint was unsuccessful, the accompanying court proceedings revealed how Russian customs services decide whether to search incoming packages.

      Golubok argued that the customs agency’s actions violated his right to private correspondence: the Russian Constitution prohibits government agents from opening private mail without a warrant. However, customs representatives successfully argued that a package is “a good or commodity” rather than a letter and therefore does not fall within that right. Golubok has appealed the court’s decision, and his appeal will be heard on January 22.

    • UK Welcomes Extremists, Bans Critics Of Extremists

      We have also seen time and again how extremist clerics such as the Pakistani clerics Muhammad Naqib ur Rehman and Hassan Haseen ur Rehman have been allowed to enter the UK despite their track records of supporting the murder of people merely suspected of having blasphemed against, or apostasised from, Islam. Nevertheless, while the UK government continues to allow clerics such as these to enter Britain, it develops an ever-growing banned list of people who are not Muslim but who have been critical of aspects of Islam. It is almost as though the UK government has decided that while extremist clerics can only rarely be banned, critics of such clerics can be banned with ease.

    • European Court of Human Rights Promotes Human Wrongs

      Unfortunately, while good news is coming from Dublin, the same cannot be said for Strasbourg, where the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) — a supranational judicial body entitled to scrutinize the compliance of national pieces of legislation with the European Convention of Human Rights — recently upheld the criminal conviction of an Austrian woman, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff. Her “crime” was supposedly having defamed the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Our Devices Getting Creepier, Nosier and More Invasive, by Daily Editorials

      In a March 8, 2017, story, the Daily Telegraph of London reported that TVs, like computers, are “being hacked and turned into spying tools.” TV manufacturer Vizio has been accused of spying on its customer base, and Wikileaks released documents that appeared to show the CIA had technology to transform smart TVs into “bugging devices.”

      Meanwhile, Jon Webb of the Evansville Courier & Press in Indiana reported on Jan. 2 that such voice-activated assistant devices as Amazon Echo and Google Home “eavesdrop on you all the live-long day.” He described an incident last spring when an Echo employee recorded a conversation between a husband and wife in Portland, Oregon — and proceeded to send a recording to one of his co-workers.

      The product is supposed to be activated when someone says the word “Alexa.” Amazon claimed in a statement that its product “woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like ‘Alexa,’” and continued to misinterpret the discussion to the point of unintentionally sending off a recording. Was it an accident? Perhaps, but it’s unnerving that something like this can happen.

    • Ajit Pai Refuses To Brief Congress On What He Plans To Do About Wireless Location Data Scandals

      So last week yet another location data scandal emerged for the wireless industry, highlighting once again how carriers are collecting your location data, then selling it to a universe of sometimes shady partners with little to no oversight or accountability. Like the Securus and LocationSmart scandals before it, last week’s Motherboard report highlighted how all manner of dubious dudebros (and law enforcement officers) have been abusing this data for years, and the Ajit Pai FCC has yet to so much as mention the problem, much less spend a single calorie addressing it in any meaningful way.

      Shortly after the scandal broke last week, Frank Pallone, the Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, asked Pai (pdf) to brief Congress on the steps the agency was taking to address the wireless sector’s long-standing failure to adequately address location data abuse. Pai’s response? Yeah, no thanks.

    • Ajit Pai Refuses to Brief Congress About Why Bounty Hunters Can Buy Cell Phone Location Data

      Last week a Motherboard investigation revealed that cell phone providers and location aggregators have allowed real-time smartphone location data to be sold to bounty hunters, landlords, and used car salesman, among others. Soon after the story broke, Frank Pallone, the Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, asked Pai for an emergency briefing on the issue. Monday, Pai refused that request, according to Pallone’s office.

    • Ajit Pai gives carriers free pass on privacy violations during FCC shutdown

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai refused a Democratic lawmaker’s request to immediately address a privacy scandal involving wireless carriers, saying that it can wait until after the government shutdown is over.

      A Motherboard investigation published last week found that T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are still selling their mobile customers’ real-time location information to third-party data brokers, despite promises in June 2018 to stop the controversial practice.

    • Federal Judge Says Compelling People To Unlock Phones With Their Fingerprints/Faces Violates The 5th Amendment

      The advent of biometric “passcodes” — fingerprints and facial recognition — appear to be leaving those who choose these methods with fewer Fifth Amendment protections. A handful of courts have ruled fingerprints and faces aren’t “testimony.” Much as officers can collect fingerprints and mugshots without a warrant following an arrest, they can also apply fingers and faces to locked phones to get to the data inside.

      But it’s not as simple as some court decisions make it appear. Even passwords can be considered testimonial, as they may indicate ownership of a locked device or compel production of evidence to be used against the device’s owner. The passcode argument has gone both ways in court, which usually comes down to the individual judge’s definition of “foregone conclusion.” Does the foregone conclusion refer to the device’s ownership or the evidence contained in it? The latter is harder to prove, and raising the burden of proof to this level tends to result in courts finding the compelled production of passwords to be a Fifth Amendment violation.

    • Vizio Admits Modern TV Sets Are Cheaper Because They’re Spying On You

      The problem is that this trade off isn’t really providing value to the end user, in large part thanks to the TV sector’s terrible security and privacy practices. For one, navigating the TV sector’s historically terrible GUIs to actually find and opt out of this data collection is often a nightmare. Usually opting out is first intentionally named something nebulous, then buried deep in a sea of terribly-designed menus. And even then, opting out can often result in you losing access to some core set features you might actually use. That’s only a good deal if you enjoy annoyance.

      Then there’s the fact that the TV sector routinely does an absolutely terrible job at the security and privacy practices needed to protect this data. We’ve seen vendors like Samsung get busted hoovering up and collecting living room conversations, then shoveling this data off to a nebulous assortment of third-party clients. Numerous set vendors have similarly been busted collecting this data then transmitting it to the cloud without adequate encryption. Vizio itself just struck a $2.2 million settlement with the FTC for secretly tracking and selling the usage habits of around sixteen million Vizio owners for around three years.

      So yes you’re maybe paying a bit less up front for a cheaper set, but you’re paying for the deal out the other side of the equation in a way that’s not even entirely calculable. Even then, higher-end TV set vendors do this same thing, kind of deflating the claim that this is only being done by necessity among lower-end vendors trapped by tight margins. In reality, the same disregard for privacy and security that has infected the internet of broken things space is on proud display in the TV business, resulting in hardware that’s easily exploitable by everyone from run of the mill hackers to intelligence services. Is that a bargain, really?

    • With Facial Recognition Technology at ‘Crossroads,’ 90 Groups Urge Amazon, Google, and Microsoft Not to Collude With Big Brother

      The letters come in response to recent public statements by the tech giants’ leaders regarding concerns about government misuse of such products, and reporting that the FBI is piloting Amazon’s Rekognition technology—which the company has also pitched to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), one of the agencies charged with implementing the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies.

      Despite CEO Jeff Bezos’ admission that Amazon’s technology could be misused, the company has appeared more willing to profit from the U.S. government’s effort to achieve Big Brother status while Google and Microsoft have been more cautious.

      Last month, Google indicated that it will continue to develop artificial intelligence (AI) programs but will not sell facial recognition technology to governments—at least, until the potential dangers are mitigated to a degree that satisfies the company’s decision-makers.

      Microsoft President Brad Smith, meanwhile, wrote a blog post in December charging that facial recognition technology “brings important and even exciting societal benefits but also the potential for abuse.” Smith called for “governments in 2019 to start adopting laws to regulate this technology” but also pledged to be proactive in creating safeguards to address concerns about abuse.

    • Democrats aren’t buying a proposal for big tech to write its own privacy rules

      But the “bargain” would also preempt state laws like California’s new privacy act, and repeal every other existing piece of federal privacy legislation, including landmark laws like Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Every sector- or issue-specific privacy law would be removed, and state and local lawmakers would be unable to draft stricter, more specific regulations in the future.

    • Facebook’s Privacy Problems Get Real in Germany

      The country’s Federal Cartel Office intends to ban Facebook from collecting user data from third parties, the newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported. This will also prohibit data sharing between WhatsApp and Instagram, which Facebook owns. Germany is concerned that Facebook users didn’t know they agreed to be tracked across the internet when they signed up for the firm’s offerings.

    • German antitrust watchdog to act against Facebook: report

      The Federal Cartel Office, which has been investigating Facebook since 2015, has already found that the social media giant abused its market dominance to gather data on people without their knowledge or consent.

      The Bild am Sonntag newspaper said the watchdog will present the US company with its ruling on what action it needs to take in the next few weeks.

    • Rosenstein, DOJ exploring ways to more easily spy on journalists

      For months now, the Department of Justice (DOJ) quietly has been working on a revision to its guidelines governing how, when and why prosecutors can obtain the records of journalists, particularly in leak cases.

      The work has been supervised by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office, especially since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions departed, but is not wrapped up.

      The effort has the potential to touch off a First Amendment debate with a press corps that already has high degrees of distrust of and disfunction with the Trump administration.

      Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker is aware of the effort but has not been given a final recommendation. Sources close to Whitaker say he will await final judgment but, in recent days, has developed reservations about proceeding with the plan.

    • Feds Can’t Force You To Unlock Your iPhone With Finger Or Face, Judge Rules

      A California judge has ruled that American cops can’t force people to unlock a mobile phone with their face or finger. The ruling goes further to protect people’s private lives from government searches than any before and is being hailed as a potentially landmark decision.

      Previously, U.S. judges had ruled that police were allowed to force unlock devices like Apple’s iPhone with biometrics, such as fingerprints, faces or irises. That was despite the fact feds weren’t permitted to force a suspect to divulge a passcode. But according to a ruling uncovered by Forbes, all logins are equal.

    • Huawei founder claims no user data will be given to govt

      Huawei chief executive and founder Ren Zhengfei says the company will under no circumstances allow the Chinese Government to access customer data.

    • Mullvad vs. NordVPN: Two popular VPNs do battle

      Before you plunk down your cold hard credit card number, however, there are many questions to ask. Can you trust the company? What are the speeds like? Is there a desktop app and is it easy to use? How many country locations are there, and can you still watch Netflix while connected?

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Gearbox CEO allegedly mocked ex-lawyer’s Christianity with slurs, “ridiculing” gifts

      Callender’s claim matches a timeline he outlined in his December countersuit against Gearbox: that Callender did not depart the company as a voluntary “resignation.” Instead, Callender alleges he was forced out after Pitchford began crafting a “false narrative about Callender’s employment.” His December lawsuit has roiled the video game industry in part because it included sensational allegations. One of those—about a lost, unencrypted USB stick full of industry secrets and pornography left behind at a Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament—was confirmed (in part) by Pitchford himself.

    • Thailand: Allow Fleeing Saudi Woman to Seek Refuge

      Al-Qunun said she fled while her family was visiting Kuwait, which unlike Saudi Arabia, does not require a male relative’s approval for an adult woman to depart the country. She said that she was fleeing abuse from her family, including beatings and death threats from her male relatives, who also forced her to remain in her room for six months for cutting her hair.

    • Saudi woman ‘trapped at Bangkok airport trying to flee family

      She told the BBC that she had renounced Islam, and feared she would be forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia and killed by her family.

    • The Hague Comes of Age

      I am delighted by the acquittal of Laurent Gbagbo at the International Criminal Court. As I explained at the time in a series of articles, Gbagbo was ousted as President of Ivory Coast by a corrupt election and an armed insurgency, both funded by Western oil interests, chiefly but not solely by Trafigura plc.

      Gbagbo was guilty in western eyes of failing to do what left wing African leaders are supposed to do, allow himself to be quickly butchered and his supporters massacred. So Gbagbo ended up at the International Criminal Court as a war criminal, while Big Oil’s puppet, Alassane Ouattara, is now comfortably ensconced in the Presidential Palace of Ivory Coast, and getting very rich indeed.

    • Court Blocks Trump’s Plan to Add a Citizenship Question to 2020 Census

      A federal court has blocked the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, stating that it constitutes an “egregious” violation of federal law. The ruling deals a serious blow to the administration’s plan to use the 2020 census to attack the financial and political resources of immigrants and communities of color.

      In a decision released Tuesday, Judge Jesse M. Furman determined that the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, “would undermine the proposition—central to the rule of law—that ours is a government of laws, and not of men” and that it violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in many different ways — “a veritable smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut APA violations.” In the end, Judge Furman concluded that if the Trump administration got its way and a citizenship question was put on the census, “hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of people will go uncounted in the census.”

      In particular, Judge Furman ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious” pursuant to the APA, which governs federal agency action. As demonstrated at trial, Secretary Ross decided to add a citizenship question in the early days of the Trump administration and only after did it “set out to find a ‘legal rationale’ to support it”— a reverse engineering process that both directly contravenes the APA and goes against the story that Secretary Ross has told for months. During the course of our litigation, we obtained documents that revealed that Secretary Ross lied to Congress about the origin of the citizenship question, testifying that he added the question because the Department of Justice had requested it in order to better enforce the Voting Rights Act (VRA). However, as litigation revealed, Secretary Ross actually started considering a citizenship question almost 10 months before DOJ made its request, and he had even compelled Commerce Department staff to push DOJ to make the ask in the first place.

      It’s no wonder that Judge Furman determined that Secretary Ross’s March 2018 memo officially adding the question, his sworn testimony before Congress, and the information he initially provided in our lawsuit was “materially inaccurate.”

    • Census Citizenship Question? The Answer Is No, Federal Court Says

      The United States census has not asked respondents whether they are American citizens since 1950. In March 2018, Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross brought it back, in a list of potential census questions submitted to Congress. Almost immediately, immigrants’ rights organizations filed multiple lawsuits challenging the question.

      On Tuesday, the first ruling came down, addressing two of the lawsuits. Judge Jesse M. Furman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the Trump administration to remove the question from the census. Ross, according to Furman, committed multiple violations of federal procedural law, setting up the possibility of appeals that could take the citizenship question all the way to the Supreme Court.

    • In Rebuke of Trump’s Effort to ‘Weaponize’ 2020 Census Against Immigrant Communities, Federal Judge Strikes Down Citizenship Question

      Civil liberties and immigration rights advocates are applauding a ruling decision by a federal judge New York on Tuesday after the court struck down the Trump administration’s attempt to insert a citizenship question in to the 2020 Census.

      Ruling on a lawsuit filed by the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), the ACLU, and other groups, U.S. District Judge Jess Furman said that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census, acted illegally when he requested that the question be added.

      Ross had previously claimed that the Justice Department (DOJ) had originally requested the question, which was to read, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” But the lawsuit filed by the groups revealed that Ross had actually consulted with former White House strategist—and open white supremacist—Steve Bannon. Ross’s addition of the question violated the Administrative Procedures Act, the judge ruled.

    • Muslim group enraged over naming of man-eating tiger
    • Cleared In Blasphemy Case, Asia Bibi To Still Spend Christmas In Custody

      But the ruling ignited days of violent demonstrations that paralysed large swathes of the country, with enraged Islamists calling for her beheading, mutiny within the powerful military and the assassination of the country’s top judges.

    • ‘She confessed… how can we forgive her?’: Asia Bibi’s former neighbours still want her put to death
    • Oxford Street terror attack plotter ‘resisted’ de-radicalisation

      A man who planned to drive a van into 100 people in London was working with a government de-radicalisation programme at the time, a court has heard.

    • ‘Let the West Burn’: Norway Reveals Radicalization in ‘Quran Schools’ Abroad

      The Norwegian police have raised concerns about the ongoing radicalization process in so-called ‘Quran schools’ in Somalia, where kids from immigrant families residing in the Nordic country are sent, often against their will, by parents to avoid being “westernized.”

    • New York Muslims have a new security patrol group
    • ‘French prison turned our son to ISIS’

      According to them, when he was released from prison, he and other young people like him were told they would receive an amount of 80,000 euros for establishing a Muslim cell. He would recruit operatives and send them Islamic messages in the spirit of ISIS.

    • Ugandan Christians live in fear of minority Muslims on quest for conversions

      “Ali convinced me to convert and become a Muslim, but I declined. They started pushing me on the ground threatening to kill me if I don’t accept Islam,” he said. “One of the attackers hit me with a sharp object on my neck, and I became unconscious. I remember them saying they have killed me.”

    • Ohio hospital condemns ex-resident who said she would give Jews ‘the wrong meds’

      A hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, said it has fired a doctor after it emerged that she had been making anti-Semitic remarks for years on social media.


      On January 2, 2012, she wrote that she would “purposely give all the yahood the wrong meds,” using the Arabic word for Jews. She also repeatedly expressed hope that “Allah will kill the Jews.”

    • Triumph of Conventional Wisdom: AP Expunges Iran/Contra Pardons from Barr’s Record

      A president facing a major scandal, just as the highest-profile trial is about to begin, pardons the indicted or convicted officials around him to effectively stop the investigation that’s closing in on his own illegal conduct.

      Trump soon? We’ll see. But this actually describes what President George H.W. Bush did in 1992.

      The Iran/Contra scandal revealed, among other things, that the Reagan/Bush White House had secretly sold missiles to Iran in exchange for hostages held in Lebanon, using the proceeds to fund right-wing forces fighting the leftist Nicaraguan government in violation of US law.

      On Christmas Eve 1992, just as the indicted former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger was about to face trial, Bush pardoned him and five others, including former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and and former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane. The New York Times (12/25/92) reported this as “Bush Pardons 6 in Iran Affair, Averting a Weinberger Trial; Prosecutor Assails ‘Cover-Up.’”

      The attorney general for Bush who approved the pardons, William Barr, is now being nominated for the same position by Trump. Is this background relevant? Though current news columns are rife with speculation that Trump might likewise protect himself by pardoning his indicted or convicted associates, the dominant US news wire service doesn’t seem to think so.

    • William Barr’s Deep State Resume: Cover-Ups, Covert Ops, and Pardons

      “I started off in Washington at the Central Intelligence Agency and went to law school at night while I was working at CIA,” recalled William Barr in a 2001 oral history for the University of Virginia.

      Trump’s nominee to be attorney general has what Trump might call “deep state” credentials. Barr came to Langley in 1973. He was a 23-year-old graduate of Columbia with a master’s in political science and Chinese studies. His resume shows he toiled at the CIA by day and attended George Washington University law school at night. The Watergate scandal was ravaging the agency’s reputation and destroying the presidency of Richard Nixon.

    • William Barr Is a Danger to Civil Rights

      When William Barr served as attorney general in the early 1990s, the war on drugs and the public panic it generated was reaching a fever pitch. In the years that followed, intensifying law enforcement and mandatory minimum sentencing for drug crimes caused prison populations to explode, devastating communities of color and making the United States the most incarcerated country on the planet. Now, president Trump has nominated Barr to serve as attorney general again.

      Has Barr changed since the early 1990s? Civil rights groups demanded to know in the lead-up to the confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Now they do.

      While it appears that some of Barr’s views have evolved, his testimony revealed a proponent of heavy policing and mass incarceration. He also dodged questions about voting rights cases and parroted the limited interpretation of civil rights law that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions used to roll back protections for LGBTQ people and transgender students established by the Obama administration.

      During the hearing yesterday, Republicans and even some Democrats appeared pleased by Barr’s performance, particularly after he repeatedly pledged to allow special counsel Robert Mueller to finish his investigation of Russian election meddling and the Trump Organization. Civil rights groups and progressive Democrats, still frustrated by Sessions’s tenure, were anything but pleased.

      “William Barr had the opportunity today to prove to all of us that he could be the independent, fair Attorney General America needs right now. He failed,” said Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for policy at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, in a statement on Tuesday.

    • William Barr Hearing: Senators Press Barr on Criminal Justice Overhaul

      Senators pressed President Trump’s choice to run the Justice Department on his expansive views of executive power and how he’ll protect the special counsel.

    • Trump’s Attorney General Nominee: ‘I Will Not Be Bullied’

      Vowing “I will not be bullied,” President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general asserted independence from the White House on Tuesday, saying he believed that Russia had tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, that the special counsel investigation shadowing Trump is not a witch hunt and that his predecessor was right to recuse himself from the probe.

      The comments by William Barr at his Senate confirmation hearing pointedly departed from Trump’s own views and underscored Barr’s efforts to reassure Democrats that he will not be a loyalist to a president who has appeared to demand it from law enforcement. He also repeatedly sought to assuage concerns that he might disturb or upend special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as it reaches its final stages.

      Some Democrats are concerned about that very possibility, citing a memo Barr wrote to the Justice Department before his nomination in which he criticized Mueller’s investigation for the way it was presumably looking into whether Trump had obstructed justice.

      Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Barr the memo showed “a determined effort, I thought, to undermine Bob Mueller.” The nominee told senators he was merely trying to advise Justice Department officials against “stretching the statute” to conclude that the president had obstructed justice.

      Though Barr said an attorney general should work in concert with an administration’s policy goals, he broke from some Trump talking points, including the mantra that the Russia probe is a witch hunt. Trump has equivocated on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and assailed and pushed out his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for recusing because of his work with the Trump campaign.

    • Bill Barr Must Not Be Sessions 2.0 on Civil Rights

      The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to begin confirmation hearings on Tuesday for William Barr, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Justice. Given that the president is holding the country hostage over his vanity project at the Southern border resulting in the longest ever government shutdown, it is no surprise that Barr’s nomination has largely flown below the radar.

      The limited media coverage surrounding Barr has focused on his deeply troubling attacks on the Mueller investigation and his expansive views on presidential power. Considering how Trump is undermining the rule of law and our democracy, these are crucially important aspects of Barr’s record to question. But at tomorrow’s hearing, senators must also interrogate Barr about his commitment to a critical duty of the Justice Department: enforcing federal civil rights laws.


      Based on what we know, senators will have plenty to explore in Barr’s record. As attorney general, Barr endorsed a draconian approach to law enforcement that helped build the system of mass incarceration we have today, which continues to decimate poor Black and Brown communities. Yet, he denied evidence of racial disparities, telling a reporter, “Our system is fair and does not treat people differently.” It was untrue then and it is still untrue now. Barr later backed a 1992 Justice Department report, The Case for More Incarceration, as the prison population in the United States soared. The report irresponsibly stated, “We are incarcerating too few criminals, and the public is suffering as a result.” He also co-chaired a commission in the mid-1990s that recommended abolishing parole.

      This is all particularly alarming because it appears that Barr was strident even for the time. And his views do not appear to have evolved — even as the country has. In 2015, Barr signed a letter opposing the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which would have modestly reduced mandatory minimum prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders. Ending mass incarceration is now a popular and bipartisan issue, so much so that even the most recent and highly polarized 115th Congress overwhelmingly passed a law last month that makes important improvements to the federal prison system. That law, the FIRST STEP Act, will be implemented by the Justice Department. Senators must press Barr on whether he will fully and faithfully carry out that charge.

    • Trump Attorney General Nominee Raked in Millions from Corporate Industries He’ll Oversee

      Donald Trump’s pick for Attorney General is going up for confirmation this week – and his nomination is just the latest example of the extent to which the Trump administration is captured by corporate America, despite its populist posture.

      William Barr is Trump’s nominee to replace Jeff Sessions as the head up the U.S. Department of Justice. Barr previously served as Attorney General for George H.W. Bush, after which he began a 25 year career in the corporate world. Much of this time was spent as the top lawyer for telecommunications company GTE and then, after GTE’s merger with Bell Atlantic to form Verizon, as the top lawyer for Verizon.

      Media outlets like the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have reported on Barr’s dedicated service to the corporate world – with a particular focus on his GTE/Verizon days, as well as his roles at Time Warner (he’s been a board member since 2009 and clashed with the DOJ over the proposed Time Warner-AT&T merger) and Caterpillar (he represented the company in the face of a recent DOJ probe).

      Barr has been a board member of three corporate giants over the past ten years: Time Warner (as mentioned), but also Dominion Energy (2009-present) and Och-Ziff Capital (2016-2018). As a director of these companies, Barr has raked in over $4.68 million during the past decade in cash payments and stock options – and very likely close to a million more than that, since three of his recent years of compensation are so far undisclosed, but probably fall in the range of $290,000 to $300,000, based on precedent. (This calculation also doesn’t take into account gains that Barr may have seen from increases in the value of his company stock rewards over the past decade’s stock market boom).

    • Watch: Devastating New ‘Land of the Free’ Music Video Decries Violence and Cruelty of Trump’s America

      “Incarceration’s become big business,” he notes, “And we got more people locked up than the rest of the world.” Written partly in response to mass shootings that have become all too common in this country, he asks, “So how many daughters, tell me, how many sons, do we have to have to put in the ground, before we just break down and face it: We got a problem with guns?”

      In a message posted to Facebook, Flowers recalls how his grandmother and her family fled to U.S. “from Lithuania to escape the USSR’s oppression,” opting to work “in dangerous coal mines, rather than endure tyranny at home.” Condemning “too many examples of racial injustice to ignore,” including the tear-gassing of migrants at the border, he concludes: “I see my family in the faces of these vulnerable people… you’ve gotta believe that we can do better.”

    • Rep. Steve King Stripped of Committee Duties Following Racist Remarks

      Veteran Republican Rep. Steve King will be blocked from committee assignments for the next two years after lamenting that white supremacy and white nationalism have become offensive terms.

      King, in his ninth term representing Iowa, will not be given committee assignments in the Congress that began this month, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Monday night. King served on the Agriculture, Small Business and Judiciary committees in the last Congress, and he chaired Judiciary’s subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.

      McCarthy, R-Calif., called King’s remarks “beneath the dignity of the Party of Lincoln and the United States of America.”

    • After Career Full of Racist Remarks, GOP Finally Gets Around to Punishing Rep. Steve King

      Progressives on Tuesday expressed relief that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was booted from his House committee assignments following his latest racist comments, but also noted that the GOP’s decision to penalize King is long overdue, following nearly two decades of openly bigoted remarks.

      The move by Republicans—who have a long history of championing the racist and xenophobic policies King also supports—comes just days after a New York Times interview was published in which King asked why terms like “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” are considered offensive. As punishment, King will no longer be allowed to serve on the House Judiciary or Agriculture committees.

      As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) noted, “Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.”

      Like other progressives, the New York Democrat expressed approval of King’s punishment, writing on Twitter that his removal from the committees will have far-reaching consequences for his career in the current Congress, and that his constituents will likely take note.

    • Who’s Afraid of AOC?

      Norman Solomon and Jaqueline Luqman join host Paul Jay to discuss whether the call from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to primary establishment Democrats weakens the party

    • Can the Trump Administration Use Asset Forfeiture Funds to Build the Border Wall?

      Hawaiian vacation. Margarita machine. Sparkles the Clown. Are we going to add Trump’s border wall to the list of “ridiculous things” that civil asset forfeiture funds have been spent on?

      It seems so if left up to this administration.

      On Friday, two congressional Republicans told the Associated Press that the administration had been looking at civil asset forfeiture funds to finance the border wall’s construction. And it’s easy to see why. The federal government’s forfeiture fund currently has $3.7 billion in cash, but over $7.6 billion in assets. For the Trump administration, what could be more tempting than liquidating this slush fund to build the wall it wants a new influx of $5.7 billion for?

      This scheme exemplifies all that is wrong with civil asset forfeiture, which occurs when law enforcement takes property away from someone based on the mere suspicion it is connected to a crime. To be clear — because people can’t believe this is a thing — you do not have to be arrested or convicted of a crime to have your property seized and taken under civil asset forfeiture.

      And once forfeited, local law enforcement in many places can use this money for almost anything it wants. This is how civil forfeiture has earned the nickname “policing for profit.” And this is why the Trump administration thinks forfeiture funds are on the table for a border wall.

    • Europe’s future? A new Austrian decline

      Two years ago, the cardinal archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, did not go easy with either the words or the date of the 333th anniversary of the Turkish siege of Vienna. The most important Austrian Catholic prelate feared the possibility of “an Islamic conquest of Europe”, calling it “the third Islamic attempt to conquer Europe”.

    • Belgium Bans Religious Slaughtering Practices, Drawing Praise and Protest

      “They want to keep living in the Middle Ages and continue to slaughter without stunning — as the technique didn’t yet exist back then — without having to answer to the law,” she said. “Well, I’m sorry, in Belgium the law is above religion and that will stay like that.”

    • ‘The Stuff of Movies’: A Battered Wife’s Journey from Islam to Christian Pastor

      But Muslim immigration has also made Sweden a home for dangerous radicals, and Parsan told us she has received death threats and lives with the knowledge she could be killed.

      Parsan said Sweden “…is a free country. But it’s dangerous, too.” She says she sometimes wonders if she will be killed by Islamists in Sweden.

    • Pork restaurant to change billboard for mosque goers

      Taoyuan City Councilor Shu Tsui-ling (舒翠玲) said that her office had received multiple complaints about the sign since the restaurant opened.

    • French Prisons: Incubators of Terror

      Before his murderous rampage, Chekatt already had 27 convictions in three different countries – France, Germany and Switzerland – for crimes including armed robbery. But while in prison in France in 2015, French intelligence believes he was radicalized.

      “During a stay in prison, he was noticed as much for his violence as for his religious proselytism,” noted one report. As a result, he was carded “Fiche S” by French intelligence concerning potential dangerousness.

      But after the December terrorist attack, France’s future concerning “gangster-jihadistes” continues to appear bleak.

    • Only hell awaits if non-Muslims lead, Hadi says in piece calling for Islamic supremacy

      “Don’t ever take the infidelic West as an example, because the best of them will still end up in hell, since their kindness is without any faith to Allah and the End Times,” he wrote.

    • Egypt university expels female student for hugging male friend

      Egypt’s Al-Azhar university on Sunday said it had expelled a female student after she appeared in a video hugging a male colleague, accusing her of undermining the school’s reputation.

    • PrimaMedia co-founder sues journalist who accused him of sexual assault

      Aleksey Migunov, co-founder of the media conglomerate PrimaMedia, announced that he is suing Sibir.Realii journalist Yekaterina Fedorova for defamation or, as it is described in Russian law, for the “protection of [his] honor and dignity.” On January 3, Fedorova publicly accused Migunov of physically and sexually assaulting her in her home on October 13. She has since continued to answer questions about that evening.

    • Arizona Activists Face Jail Time for Providing Life-Saving Aid to Migrants Crossing Sonoran Desert

      As the longest government shutdown in U.S. history heads into its 25th day and President Trump continues to crack down on immigrants, we look at how the Trump administration is criminalizing humanitarian aid at the border. In Tucson, Arizona, activists with the humanitarian group No More Deaths go to trial today facing charges for a slew of federal crimes, all due to their efforts to leave water and food in the harsh Sonoran Desert to help refugees and migrants survive the deadly journey across the U.S. border. The charges were filed last year in January, just a week after No More Deaths published a report accusing U.S. Border Patrol agents of routinely vandalizing or confiscating water, food and other humanitarian aid, condemning refugees and migrants to die of exposure or dehydration. We speak with Paige Corich-Kleim, a humanitarian aid worker and volunteer with No More Deaths, and Ryan Devereaux, a staff reporter at The Intercept. His latest piece is titled “Arizona Judge in No More Deaths Case Had Secret Talks with Federal Prosecutors.”

    • Trump’s Fascist Politics Treat Children as Disposable

      We live in an age in which the welfare of children is no longer a measure of the degree to which a society lives up to its democratic ideals. In an age of growing fascism, those in power no longer view children as the promise of a future but as a threat to the present.

      In particular, poor Black and Brown children are being treated as what Teju Cole calls “unmournable bodies.” Rather than being educated, many are being imprisoned; rather than living in communities that are safe and clean, many are relegated to cities where the water is poisoned and the police function as an occupying army.

      In the age of Trump, children of undocumented workers are stripped of their humanity, caged in internment camps, sometimes sexually abused and subjected to the unethical grammars of state violence. Sometimes they lose their lives, as did two children from Guatemala who died while in custody of Customs and Border Protection: seven-year old Jakelin Caal and eight-year-old Felipe Gómez. In this way the dual logic of disposability and pollution becomes the driving force of a machinery of social death.

      Removed from the sphere of justice and human rights, undocumented children occupy a ruthless space of social and political abandonment beyond the reach of human rights. This is a zone in which moral numbness becomes a central feature of politics, power and governance. How else to explain Republican Congressman Peter King responding to the deaths of these two children by praising ICE’s “excellent record,” stating that since there are “only two children that have died,” the death count is a testament to how competent organizations like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actually are. This is a fascist discourse marked by the rhetorical tropes of hate, demonization and violence.

    • Judge Recommends Vacating The Sentence Of One Of The FBI’s Handcrafted Terrorists

      Nearly 13 years after the FBI managed to turn a California cherry picker into a international terrorist, one of its self-created terrorists is about to be turned back into regular California resident, albeit one missing more than a decade from his life.

      Hayat went to Pakistan in 2003 to visit his mother and get married. The FBI and prosecutors insisted he went there to train to be a terrorist. When he returned to the US, he was arrested and indicted. Prosecutors tacked on some lying to federal agents charges because of course they did, pushing Hayat’s sentence to 24 years.

      This conviction was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals but Hayat’s motion to vacate his sentence has found some sympathy from a federal magistrate judge.

    • Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go

      The New York Times reports that “[i]n the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.”

      That’s an interesting way of putting it, but let’s try another:

      Enraged at the firing of their director, and suspecting the firing might portend a threat to their place and power in the American political establishment, FBI officials went to war with the president of the United States. They redirected taxpayer money and government resources away from anything resembling a legitimate law enforcement mission, putting themselves instead to the task of drumming up a specious case that said president is an agent of a foreign power.

      This is exactly the kind of bovine scat subsumed by the recently popularized term “Deep State” — an entrenched bureaucracy, jealous of its prerogatives and bent on the destruction of anyone and anything it perceives as dangerous to those prerogatives.

      I’m far from the first writer to point out that this latest news reflects nothing new. Yes, it’s over the top, but it pretty much sums up what the FBI does, and what it has done for the entirety of its 111 years of existence. It attempts to protect “America” — which it defines as the existing establishment in general and itself in particular — not from crime as such, but from inconvenient disruption.

    • ‘DC Has Been Consistently Out of Touch With the Reality of the Borderlands’

      Only the easily surprised can be surprised that, gifted by the networks with a primetime platform with which to explain what emergency at the US/Mexico border necessitates the extended partial shutdown of the US government, Donald Trump delivered familiar hate-mongering and falsehoods, all in service of his notion of a “border wall,” which, it’s been recently reported, was intended as just a sort of mnemonic device advisers gave Trump as a candidate to remind him to “talk tough” on immigration.

      Factchecking is fine as far as it goes, but were media to devote less attention to rhetoric and more to the reality of life as lived along the US southern border, any conversation about walls could at least be grounded in an understanding of the barriers that already exist, with significant impacts on the community and the environment.

    • How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?

      One hardly gets beyond the alarming statistic when a culprit is identified –“The Arabs”. Maybe a suppressed guilt is behind Nepalis’ litany of hardships which “Arabs” and by implication Muslims inflict on their four million compatriots. “Look how Nepali workers are mistreated!” “Someone should protect them.” “Hundreds arrive home in boxes!” “No human rights there.”

      With no check on exaggerations and misinformation, prejudice continues unabated.

      There’s abundant sympathy for exploited countrymen, while any suggestion that conditions within Nepal could be responsible for the exodus is absent. Don’t overseas remittances actually help workers’ families? There’s no acknowledgment of the benefits of employment, anywhere. Consider how many businesses, from rental properties to food services, are sustained by families receiving remittances. Kathmandu has hundreds of low cost private schools enrolling children of overseas workers seeking a better chance for the next generation. Where are the anecdotes of returned workers investing what they’ve saved to lift themselves out of an otherwise hopeless cycle of poverty?

      All we hear are stale, decades-old, stories of “Arab exploitation”, stories that help conceal Nepal’s failure towards its citizens. Let’s be honest: workers look overseas for redress because of hopeless conditions at home.

    • Chili’s Denied Meagan Hunter a Promotion Because She Needed to ‘Dress More Gender Appropriate’

      The ACLU is taking action against Chili’s, which discriminated against a server for not fitting her boss’ idea of what a woman should look like.
      Meagan Hunter loved her job as a server at Chili’s Grill & Bar in Phoenix, Arizona — and she excelled at it. She was thrilled when her supervisors suggested that she apply for a new training program to become a manager.

      In order to learn more about the opportunity, she attended a seminar on Chili’s Certified Shift Leader program. She wore a men’s button-up shirt, fitted slacks, and boat shoes — an outfit similar to what male managers at Chili’s wear. So she was surprised when her general manager told her that the district manager had seen her at the seminar and commented that she was “inappropriately dressed.”

      Meagan tried to overlook the comment. But after she interviewed for the promotion, the general manager doubled down on the criticism of her clothes. “We really want to hire you,” he told her. “However, we need you to dress more gender appropriate.” Incredulous, she asked, “Are you telling me that I need to have my breasts hanging out to be successful in your company?” He responded, “Not in those words.”

    • I’m Out of a Job Because My Boss Didn’t Think I Look Like a Woman
    • Rebuke of Trump’s Census Plan Gives Immigration Activists Hope

      Concrete, steel or transparent barriers — President Trump doesn’t care how the wall is built, as long as he can continue to build walls on the US-Mexico border and between Americans. Now his attempt to build a wall around the immigrant community that already resides within the country is backfiring as a New York federal judge shot down his proposed citizenship question for the 2020 census.

      By seeking to deter undocumented immigrants from participating, the Trump administration is rigging the census in a blatant attempt to gerrymander districts to support his racist, anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ vision of the United States. The citizenship question — which is still to be considered by the Supreme Court in February — is also a signal to immigrants that they are being watched, tracked and hunted. Borrowing from war tactics used throughout the centuries, the Trump administration’s proposed citizenship question is an insidious attempt to encircle and isolate immigrants, walling them off from the support of their neighbors and larger community.

      The census is just one of many battlefronts. The Trump administration is continuing its march on communities of color through a barrage of racist policies and tactics designed to inspire fear and treat Black and Latinx communities as criminals. Indeed, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s adoption of a zero tolerance approach through Operation Streamline provides the administration cover to criminally prosecute migrants en mass — trying up to 70 people at one time.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Verizon charges new “spam” fee for texts sent from teachers to students

      Remind—the company that offers the classroom communication service—criticized Verizon for charging the new fee. Remind said its service’s text message notifications will stop working on the Verizon network on January 28 unless Verizon changes course. (Notifications sent via email or via Remind’s mobile apps will continue to work.)

    • Where There’s No Distance or Gravity

      Even if the networked world seems to start breaking up (as we’re already seeing with China), at a deeper level that world arises from a simple protocol, TCP/IP, that isn’t going away soon.

      And even if TCP/IP gets replaced, the genie it liberated from the digital bottle won’t stop giving everyone with a decent connection the experience of being together in a world without distance or gravity.

      We also won’t stop wanting to live in what John Updike (in the 1960s!) called “the age of full convenience”. We can get full convenience only from networks that are completely free (as in freedom) and open to whatever.

    • Online presence vital for business: jobs report

      The vital importance of an online presence in today’s business landscape was driven home in 2018, with jobs aimed at developing, populating, promoting and marketing websites among the fastest growing areas of online work last year, according to a newly published report on the job market.

    • Comparing secondary authoritative DNS service providers

      A secondary authoritative DNS (sometimes called “slave DNS”) service provider is a DNS name server that clones and hosts your primary DNS server over the DNS Zone Transfer Protocol (AXFR). There are a number of managed DNS service providers that offer this service, and I’ve put together a little feature comparison.

      A secondary DNS server is often referred to as a “backup name server” or “backup DNS”. However, in reality every authoritative name server can be expect to receive an equal distribution of DNS query traffic. DNS was designed to be decentralized and you can increases your domain zone’s availability and resilience to service outages by replicating it onto multiple name servers.

      I’ll start off with a feature comparison matrix for a few hosted secondary DNS name server providers. The matrix also outlines the feature requirements I think are important. I’ll go into more details on each of these later in the article.

  • DRM
    • Millions of customers will now pay more for Netflix—here’s how much

      Netflix’s most popular plan, which lets users stream HD content on two screens simultaneously, will now cost $13 per month. That’s an 18-percent increase from its previous $11 monthly price. Netflix’s premium plan, which includes HD and UHD streaming on up to four screens simultaneously, will now cost $16, up from $14 monthly. The most affordable Netflix option, the “basic” plan, increases by $1, from $8 per month to $9.

    • Device ‘Ownership’ Is a Civil Liberties Issue

      We’re taking part in Copyright Week, a series of actions and discussions supporting key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day this week, various groups are taking on different elements of copyright law and policy, and addressing what’s at stake, and what we need to do to make sure that copyright promotes creativity and innovation.

      The technology you rely on to interact with the world and express yourself should ultimately obey you, not the company that made it. If the devices in our pockets, on our bodies, and all around us are going to help us advance our own values, it has to be possible to control and customize them so they don’t just do whatever their manufacturer envisioned.

      A sad fact of modern technology is that many “smart” devices use their smarts to act as their manufacturer’s spy and digital enforcer. They monetize your private data and are designed not to empower you, but to maximize the profits you bring to their manufacturer.


      Section 1201 makes it unlawful to bypass access controls on copyrighted works–even when those access controls are inside a device you own, controlling access to your copy of a work. Congress intended to prevent infringement by stopping people from, for instance, descrambling cable channels they hadn’t paid for. But secure digital systems often use access controls, such as encryption, and if you don’t have the digital keys to look at and modify the code in your devices, then breaking that encryption can get you into legal trouble, even for devices you’ve bought and own.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • China patent flood stifles foreign filer freedom

      Corporate concern is growing over freedom to operate capability in China after a surge of domestic patent applications into the country’s IP office, according to in-house counsel.

      Eight in-house lawyers from medical device, telecoms, manufacturing, confectionery and automotive companies say the increasing number of design patents and utility models being filed at China’s National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA, formerly known as SIPO before a restructure last year) by Chinese companies is making it difficult to keep up with potentially important prior art in the region.

    • Qualcomm and Apple bridged the wide gap between their FRAND perspectives through complicated arrangements

      Yesterday (Monday) was Day 5 of the FTC v. Qualcomm antitrust trial in San Jose (Northern District of California). In a first summary shortly after the court session, I provided an overview of how, after most of the day had gone extremely well for the FTC, Qualcomm got what athletes call a “second wind” and made tremendous headway against one of the FTC’s three expert witnesses, Michael Lasinski. This is now a follow-up post with a focus on negotiation dynamics and deal structures, which was the #1 topic on Friday.

      Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams was first to testify on Monday morning. He was a member of the team that created the original iPhone, and has interacted with Qualcomm ever since. What we learned from him contributed to a better understanding of Qualcomm’s dealings with other companies.

      In an antitrust case pitting the U.S. government against a patent-wielding U.S. chipmaker, Apple obviously plays an important role–but many observers of this proceeding appear to miss the grand picture by focusing too narrowly on that company. Only one of the FTC’s four key issues is specifically about Apple: exclusivity arrangements. Even that one is ultimately about a pattern, just that the related agreements between Apple and Qualcomm are the only manifestation of that pattern at issue in this case.

      At the moment, Apple appears to be Intel’s only customer. Qualcomm elicited testimony from Intel’s Aicha Evans confirming that at certain points she wasn’t even interested in a couple of potential customers. There may have been any number of reasons for that as Intel needs to ramp up its baseband chip business step by step, but there’s no reason to assume that Intel wouldn’t be interested in growing its business in this field and in having a broader customer base.

    • Trademarks
      • Infamous Pinkerton Detectives Claim Red Dead Redemption’s Use Of Historically Accurate Pinkertons Is Trademark Infringement

        Take 2 Interactive is no stranger to fighting bogus complaints about “infringement” concerning how it represents characters in its various games. Most of these fights have been over its flagship franchise, the Grand Theft Auto series, where the developer often enjoys poking fun at pop culture and society through settings and characters that are an amalgam of several stereotyped individuals. This has resulted in entitled celebrities and property owners attempting to sue over trademark and publicity rights in the past, with Take 2 typically coming out victorious by pointing out that its work is that of parody and covered by fair use.

        This is now happening with a different game but the basic story remains the same. In this case we have the added insanity of a rather infamous company trying to profit off of its infamous history. Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations sent a cease and desist notice to Take 2 after Red Dead Redemption 2 was released due to the game including characters who were a part of the company during ye olde olden times. In response, Take 2 filed suit.

    • Copyrights
      • Set-Top Box Anti-Piracy Code Neutralized By [Crack]

        Last month, IPTV set-top box manufacturer Infomir announced cooperation with rightsholders to block access to ‘pirate’ streams. It now appears the system to block allegedly infringing portals can be circumvented, either with a DIY technique or by downloading custom firmware.

      • Article 13 Suspense Builds as Finish Line Nears

        This coming Monday, lawmakers hope to reach agreement on the final text of the controversial Article 13. Whatever direction the proposal goes, there’s bound to be some disappointment. Opponents fear invasive censorship, while proponents see it as a lifebuoy for the music industry.

      • We’re gonna party like it’s 1923

        Co-hosted with the Internet Archive, this celebration will feature keynote addresses by Lawrence Lessig and Cory Doctorow, lightning talks, demos, multimedia displays and more to mark the “re-opening” of the public domain in the United States. The event will take place at the Internet Archive.

        In preparation for this event, we asked a few Creative Commons community members to provide reflections on some of their favorite works that have entered the Public Domain this year!

      • The Public Domain Is Back, But It Still Needs Defenders

        After twenty years stuck in Mickey Mouse’s shadow, the public domain is finally growing again. On January 1st, thousands of works became free for the public to distribute, perform, or remix. Every book, film, or musical score published in 1923 is now in the public domain. This policy win, like the public domain itself, belongs to everyone.

        How can you use the public domain? You could preserve and distribute books. Or you could, say, add zombies to a literary classic. You can choose between a faithful or radical production of a play without fear of a legal fight with the heirs of the playwright. Technology blog Techdirt has a contest to create games out of new public domain works. The only limit on the use of the public domain is the limit of human creativity.

        The public domain has benefits beyond remixes of high-profile works. Copyright terms are extremely complex. Figuring out whether something is in the public domain or not can require knowing if it was a corporate work or not, knowing whether it was registered and renewed or not, or knowing when the author died. For many works, it is impossible for archivists to answer any of these questions. That’s why clear cut-off dates are important. They give preservationists certainty.

        When Congress first passed the copyright law in 1790, it provided for a 14-year term with an optional 14-year renewal period. Since then, Congress has ratcheted the term upwards many times. In 1998, Disney and others got a 20-year extension without much public opposition. But advocates for the public interest in copyright policy have since become more informed and better organized.

      • The Copyright Law of Interfaces

        There is value in standardization of these interfaces – it allows people to write one program that will work with multiple systems. Duan uses two good examples. The first is HTML/CSS programming, which allows people to write a single web document and have it run in any browser and/or server that supports the same language. The second is SMTP, which allows email clients to communicate with any email server. The internet was built on these sorts of interfaces, called RFCs.


        In other words, standards will define the commands that must be sent, but there’s not a language based implementation (e.g. public, static, integer, etc.). As with the sample line above. Most say: send x command to do y. And people writing software are on their own to figure out how to do that. And you can bet the implementing code looks very similar, but there’s something different about how it is specified at the outset (a full header declaration v. a looser description). So, the questions this raises are a) does this make standards less likely to infringe, even under the Federal Circuit’s rules (I think yes), and b) does this change how we think about declaring code? (I think no, because the code is still minimal and functional, but Oracle presumably disagrees).

        Secondarily, I don’t think the article considers the differences between Oracle’s position (now – it changed, which is one of the problems) and that of a contribution to standards. Contribution to a standard is made so that others will adopt it, presumably because it gives you a competitive advantage of some sort. By not being part of the standard, you risk having a fragmented (smaller) set of users. But if Oracle doesn’t want others adopting Java language and would rather be limited, then that makes the analogy inapt. If Google had known this was not allowed and gone another way, it may well be that Java is dead today (figure that in to damages calculations). But a fear of companies submitting to standards and then taking it back is to me different in kind from companies that never want to be part of the standard. (Of course, as noted above, there is some dispute about this, as Sun apparently did act as if they wanted this language to be an open standard).

        A final point: two sentences in the article caught my eye, because they support my view of the world (confirmation bias, of course). When speaking of standard setting organization policies, Duan writes: “To the extent that a copyright license is sought from contributors to standards, the license is solely directed to distributing the text of the standard. This suggests that copyright is simply not an issue with regard to implementing interfaces.” Roughly interpreted, this means that these organizations think that maybe you can copyright your API, but that copyright only applies to slavish copying of the entire textual document. But when it comes to reuse of the technical requirements of the standard, we filter out the functionality and allow the reuse. This has always been my position, but nobody has argued it in this case.

      • Openness, Mapping, Democracy, and Reclaiming Narrative: Majd Al-shihabi in conversation

        Majd Al-shihabi, the inaugural Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellow, is a Palestinian-Syrian systems design engineer focusing on the role of technology in urban systems and policy design. He is passionate about development, access to knowledge, user centered design, and the internet, and experiments with implementing tools and infrastructures that catalyze social change. He studied engineering at the University of Waterloo, in Canada, and urban planning at the American University of Beirut, in Lebanon.

      • Hollywood Asks EU To Drop Article 13 Entirely, Because It Might Possibly Have A Tiny Compromise For The Internet

        Earlier today, we had a post detailing the completely ridiculous “defense” of Articles 11 and 13 in the EU Copyright Directive that the EU Parliament’s JURI Committee released. It was so full of misleading statements, outright lies, and contradictory arguments that it would have been hilarious, if it wasn’t trying to justify changing the entire internet for the worse. However, those of us who think that the EU should drop Article 13 (and Article 11) entirely now have a very unlikely ally: the legacy entertainment industries, who were the ones lobbying heavily for Article 13 in the first place.


        As we had noted last month, as the negotiations moved forward on Article 13, the TV, sports and film industries — calling themselves the “creative sectors” — have been suddenly freaking out and asking the negotiators to hit the brakes, or at least carve them out of Article 13. They were doing this for all the wrong reasons of course. Specifically, negotiators had begun to consider a very, very limited (and ridiculously weak) safe harbor for internet platforms, that if they followed a few key steps, they’d be able to avoid having massive liability foist upon them if they let any users sneak through an upload of infringing content (they’d still have to pull it down quickly after it was uploaded, but they wouldn’t be facing billions in fines).

        And, now with Article 13 just about finalized and it looking absolutely terrible in almost every single way… Hollywood is going for broke and now calling for negotiations on Article 13 to be suspended entirely. Again, they’re doing this for totally the wrong reasons, but considering that absolutely no one wants Article 13 at this point, shouldn’t EU negotiators just drop it?

      • ‘Catastrophe for Free Expression’: Critics Warn EU Reforms a ‘Dire Threat’ to Internet as We Know It

        “The new EU Copyright Directive is progressing at an alarming rate,” Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) special adviser Cory Doctorow wrote on Monday, describing the rules package as a “catastrophe for free expression.”

        “This week, the EU is asking its member states to approve new negotiating positions for the final language. Once they get it, they’re planning to hold a final vote before pushing this drastic, radical new law into 28 countries and 500,000,000 people,” Doctorow added, calling on residents of European nations to pressure their representatives to stop the directive.

        While the vast majority of the rules in the sprawling Copyright Directive are “inoffensive updates to European copyright law,” Doctorow points out, two specific measures—Article 11 and Article 13— “pose a dire threat to the global internet.”

      • Even the Rightsholders Think Europe’s Article 13 is a Mess, Call for an Immediate Halt in Negotiations

        With only days to go before the planned conclusion of the new EU Directive on Copyright in the Single Digital Market, Europe’s largest and most powerful rightsholder groups — from the Premier League to the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and the Association of Commercial Television in Europe — have published an open letter calling for a halt to negotiations, repeating their message from late last year: namely, that the Directive will give the whip hand to Big Tech.

        Article 13 — which still mandates copyright filters for big platforms, despite months of obfuscation — is the brainchild of the music recording industry, who invented the idea of the “value gap” as a synonym for “when we negotiate with YouTube for music licenses, we don’t get as much as we’d like.”

        Seen in this light, the unworkability of Article 13 is a feature, not a bug. Putting Google on the hook to give in on license negotiations or be forced to do the impossible is a powerful negotiating stick for the recording industry to hit Google with.

        The problem is that this tool will not only be wielded by record executives against Google: it will allow any of the Internet’s two billion users to claim copyright over anything (including the record industry’s most popular works) and improperly collect license fees, or simply block the material from public view.

        That’s not the only problem, though. In the course of negotiating Article 13, European lawmakers made concessions that make the proposal (barely) coherent and affordable by Google (though not, importantly, by Google’s small European competitors, who stand to be squashed flat by the dancing elephants of Big Tech and Big Content).

      • Movie Company Tries But Fails to Expose Pirates Through a DMCA Subpoena

        The makers of the film “London Has Fallen” tried to expose the personal details of alleged pirates on a Comcast connection. Instead of filing a regular lawsuit, the company opted for a DMCA subpoena shortcut. This effort failed, with the court noting that it has long been established that these subpoenas are not available in file-sharing cases.

      • Article 13 is almost finished – and it will change the internet as we know it

        The negotiators have reached agreement on the core of Article 13, which will change the internet as we know it: They want to make internet platforms directly liable for any copyright infringements their users commit.

      • Swedes! Poles! Germans! Luxembourgers! The world is depending on you to save the internet from the EU!

        The new Copyright Directive contains two deal-breaking clauses: the first, Article 11, gives news sites the power to charge (or refused to offer) a license fee for anyone who wants to link to their stories and include more than a single word from the story to accompany the link. Open access news sites can’t opt out of this regime, putting the whole idea of public-interest, open-access news in jeopardy.

Brexit Has Failed, But So Has the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Wednesday 16th of January 2019 10:18:34 AM

Summary: Even though all signs indicate that the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will never become a reality spin is to be expected from Team UPC, still looking to profit from more litigation and expanded scope

Last night there was that historic vote on the Brexit deal; the overall outcome was predictable and the “unknown” was the extent to which the deal would be voted down as well as the steps to follow (there’s still lack of clarity about that). But regardless, the UPC died and with it the possibility that some bizarre courts will allow software patents in defiance of national patent laws.

As recently as yesterday the European Patent Office (EPO) was promoting software patents in Europe ‘dressed up’ as “blockchain” — citing the usual nonsense from António Campinos. Of course this is a violation of the EPC, but the EPO is an outlaw institution that disregards courts’ decisions and constitutions. The EPO’s patent extremism has deepened under the new administration.

“Of course this is a violation of the EPC, but the EPO is an outlaw institution that disregards courts’ decisions and constitutions. The EPO’s patent extremism has deepened under the new administration.”Bird & Bird LLP’s Oliver Jan Jüngst, Anna Wolters-Höhne and Annika L. Schneider (Team UPC) have just commented on the Düsseldorf decision that we mentioned in passing last week and so far we haven’t seen any response from Team UPC to what happened last night.

Published yesterday in two publications, JD Supra and Lexology, was an article titled “Effect of a “No-Deal” Brexit on IP in the UK” (by “IP” they mean copyrights and patents — two entirely different things). Latham & Watkins LLP’s Deborah Kirk and Terese Saplys perpetuate lies about unitary ‘patents’ — in effect treating the UPC as inevitable even though it’s dead. This is the background:

On 19 February 2013, 25 of the 28 EU member states (excluding Croatia, Poland, and Spain) accepted the European Commission’s proposal for “enhancing the patent system in Europe” and signed the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC). To date, 16 EU member states, including the UK, have ratified the UPC, which now only requires Germany’s ratification to take effect. When the UPC becomes effective, it will hear cases relating to European patents and a new type of patent: the unitary patent. The European Patent Office, which is not an EU institution, will administer both types of patents.

Notice the tense. They don’t say “would” or “if”; they perpetuate those same old lies. Further down it speaks of “two possible outcomes regarding the UPC in the context of Brexit…”

The first: “The UPC does not come into force before exit day: If Germany fails to ratify the UPC, by operation of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 the UK will not enshrine in national law the underlying EU legislation and it will never take effect in the UK.”

Aside from the odd use of the word “fails” — as if rejecting something unconstitutional is a “failure” — they make it seem like a question of timing, not outcome. Moreover, they make it seem as though the only uncertainty is associated with UK participation rather than the UPC as a whole.

“Conspicuously missing is the option that’s already becoming a reality: UPC falls flat on its face, so Britain has nothing ‘unitary’ to ever consider, let alone participate in.”To them, the second possibility is as follows: “The UPC comes into force before exit day: The UK government’s technical notice on patents implies a degree of uncertainty in this scenario, stating simply that the UK will explore whether it is possible to remain in the UPC and unitary patent system following Brexit. In the event that the UK needs to withdraw from the framework, the technical notice advises that businesses would not be able to use the UPC and the unitary patent system to protect their inventions within the UK. The UK will grant an equivalent patent to any existing unitary patents to ensure their continued protection in the UK. Businesses could still use the UPC and unitary patent to protect their inventions within the contracting EU countries, but would need to maintain equivalent UK patents (and enforce these in UK courts) to protect their inventions in the UK.”

Conspicuously missing is the option that’s already becoming a reality: UPC falls flat on its face, so Britain has nothing ‘unitary’ to ever consider, let alone participate in. This is the sort of lie we see almost every week in some so-called ‘articles’ from British law firms. They’re playing psychological games for lobbying’s sake.

IBM, Which Will Soon be Buying Red Hat, is Promoting Software Patents in Europe

Tuesday 15th of January 2019 06:33:57 PM

Summary: Even days apart/within confirmation of IBM’s takeover of Red Hat IBM makes it clear that it’s very strongly in favour of software patents, not only in the US but also in Europe

IT HAS been bad enough that US courts got targeted by IBM, which actively lobbies to water down 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the impact of Alice (SCOTUS). We wrote many articles about it. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) uses the word “customer” to refer to companies like IBM — the same thing the Battistelli-appointed António Campinos does.

They totally distort what patent offices are and what they exist for.

“IBM is using OIN to stonewall opponents of software patents and pretend that Free software developers can and should coexist with them.”As we last noted earlier this week, at the European Patent Office (EPO) patent quality is nowadays just “speed of granting”. It’s just a patent-granting machine. Examination is being narrowed. Calling the speed of granting “quality” is like judging the quality of fine dining in some restaurants by how quickly the food gets served (by that yardstick, junk food or deep-fried “fast food” is of the best “quality”).

Ever since Campinos came to the EPO they’ve been calling algorithms “AI” every day; it’s how they promote software patents in Europe.

We have meanwhile noticed that UPC and software patents boosters speak to IBM. They’re constructing their typical kind of propaganda — lobbying with puff pieces that neglect opposition (not even hiding the agenda and it’s clear who’s sponsoring it). Once again, under the guise of ‘harmonisation’ (the word UPC fanatics like to throw around) and using words like “clarity” (the same thing they say in relation to the US), Patrick Wingrove of Managing Intellectual Property pushes this piece. Watch how IBM promotes abstract patents under the guise of “AI”; Even in Europe, in violation of the EPC…

Lawyers from IBM and other artificial intelligence-focused businesses have welcomed the EPO’s new guidelines, but say kinks in the examination approach to the technology in Europe and elsewhere need to be ironed out and then harmonised


Shaw at IBM says her company would welcome clarification of AI patenting laws to eliminate ambiguity, such as those associated with patentable subject matter and inventorship.

“It’s always helpful in any guidance issued by patent offices to include a range of pointers and examples, such as the useful output from the EPO and JPO,” she says. “That is especially true in some areas where case law within AI has not yet built up.

IBM needs to quit doing this. Red Hat is being sold to an enemy of Free software if it carries on pushing in this direction. Someone wrote yesterday (linking to our coverage about Finjan): “In the security space, it did them [IBM] well in the sense of selling patents to outright troll Finjan, which in turn used them to lift $12M out of FireEye’s pockets.”

IBM is using OIN to stonewall opponents of software patents and pretend that Free software developers can and should coexist with them. We suppose that this is the future of Red Hat as well.

Team UPC on Dead UPC: Choosing Gowns for Corpses

Tuesday 15th of January 2019 06:07:48 PM

The emperor is naked, but look at those shoelaces…

Summary: The campaign of lies, long waged by Team UPC in order to manipulate politicians and courts, hasn’t stopped even in 2019 (IAM threw in the towel, but some of Team UPC is still ‘embalming’ UPCA)

SEVERAL months ago we saw comments about the European Patent Office (EPO) conducting job interviews for jobs that do not exist because of a longterm hiring freeze intended to reduce the number of patent examiners. Years prior to that Team UPC was advertising jobs that did not exist, as we repeatedly pointed out in past years (e.g. [1, 2]).

“Robert Burrows is now promoting this illusion that UPC is about to start and the only decision left to be made is what people will wear.”I am not a lawyer, but I believe faking news might not be a crime, whereas faking job openings might be. There’s accountability and the advertiser can be sued.

About 3 years ago Team UPC at IP Kat was pretending that a venue had been chosen for the UPC (in the UK) and that the court’s operations were imminent. Basically, they were choosing venues/courts even before a Brexit referendum (months earlier than that); there were psychological games and publicity stunts — ones whose nature was thankfully documented (I had been writing about the UPC and its predecessors for about a decade). Months ago Team UPC spread fabricated rumours, trying to induce pressure on the FCC (German Constitutional Court).

And now this from Bristows and EPLIT:

The patent attorney organisation, EPLIT (European Patent Litigators Association), has posted here a short survey asking members whether representatives before the Unified Patent Court (UPC) should wear uniform robes (and the reason for the answer) and, if so, what colour.

Excuse me? Robert Burrows is now promoting this illusion that UPC is about to start and the only decision left to be made is what people will wear. Maybe tomorrow they’ll even present the UPC’s lunch menu. Just about everything and anything to spread the illusion (maybe targeting German constitutional judges) that a decision has already been made and they’re just a ‘nuisance’ standing in the way.

Links 15/1/2019: MX Linux MX-18 Continuum Reviewed, Mageia 7 Artwork Voting

Tuesday 15th of January 2019 03:48:28 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Entroware Launches Hades, Its First AMD-Powered Workstation with Ubuntu Linux

      With Hades, Entroware debut their first AMD-powered system that’s perfect for Deep Learning, a new area of Machine Learning (ML) research, but also for businesses, science labs, and animation studios. Entroware Hades can achieve all that thanks to its 2nd generation AMD Ryzen “Threadripper” processors with up to 64 threads, Nvidia GPUs with up to 11GB memory, and up to 128GB RAM and 68TB storage.

      “The Hades workstation is our first AMD system and brings the very best of Linux power, by combining cutting edge components to provide the foundation for the most demanding applications or run even the most demanding Deep Learning projects at lightning speeds with impeccable precision,” says Entroware.

    • Linux hardware vendor Entroware has unleashed Hades, their first AMD CPU desktop

      For those looking to splash out a bit on a new desktop, the Linux hardware vendor Entroware have unleashed Hades, a powerful new desktop computer with Linux pre-loaded.

      This is their first AMD Ryzen powered desktop with multiple choices between the CPU and GPU, although they’re still only providing NVIDIA GPUs with the Hades. For those looking at the ultimate performance, they’ve gone with the AMD Threadripper so it really is a bit of a beast.

    • Chromebook owners may soon be able to choose which Linux distro to use

      Midway through 2018, Google wowed many Chromebook users by allowing them to run desktop Linux apps on Chrome OS. Though this support currently works through a virtualized Linux, based on Debian, Google has been continuously improving the support. Features like graphics acceleration are lined up for future addition. And the company isn’t stopping there. It now plans to allow device managers to choose a Linux distro on which it runs.

    • Librem laptops now at Version 4

      We are excited to announce Version 4 of our Librem laptops! Our Librem 13 and Librem 15 will now be upgraded with a 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7500U Processor with integrated HD Graphics that still works with coreboot. In addition, the Librem 15 display will be upgraded to 4K resolution. Upgraded models are available now for purchase whether you pick Librem 13: the road warrior or Librem 15: the desktop replacement.

    • Purism Announces 4K Librem 15 Linux Laptop, Updated CPU and GPU for Librem 13

      Purism is known for manufacturing and shipping security and privacy-focused laptops powered by Linux-based operating systems. They have their own GNU/Linux distribution called PureOS, based on the popular Debian GNU/Linux distribution, which they ship pre-installed with all their Librem laptops.

      The company announced today a new hardware promotion where you can buy the Librem 13 and Librem 15 high-end laptop series with updated CPU and graphics, including the 7th Generation 3.50GHz Intel Core i7-7500U processors with two cores and four threads, with integrated Intel HD Graphics 620.

    • Purism Announces New Laptops Based On 7th Gen Intel CPUs, 4K Option

      hile Purism remains very busy with their Librem 5 smartphone efforts, today they have announced their fourth version of the Librem 13/15 laptops.

      With Version 4 of the Librem laptops, they have upgraded the Librem 13 and Librem 15 to Intel 7th Gen CPUs… Yes, 7th Gen from 2016. Granted, that’s done in order to retain Coreboot compatibility with their hardware, but a bit sad to see such dated processors used while the Librem 13 pricing starts off at the same $1399 and the Librem 15 at $1599. In particular, Purism is going with the i7-7500U which is dual-core plus Hyper Threading Kabylake in comparison to Intel’s newer Core i7 mobile parts being true quad-core processors plus Hyper Threading, among power efficiency improvements, etc.

    • Purism Announces Version 4 of Its Laptops, KDE Frameworks 5.54.0 Now Available, Debian 10 Default Theme Chosen, Linux Kernel 5.0-rc2 Is Out and Mozilla to Disable Flash in Firefox 69

      Purism announced the fourth version of its Librem laptops today. The Librem 13 and 15 will be “now be upgraded with a 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7500U Processor with integrated HD Graphics that still works with coreboot. In addition, the Librem 15 display will be upgraded to 4K resolution. Upgraded models are available now for purchase whether you pick Librem 13: the road warrior or Librem 15: the desktop replacement.” Note that the base cost will remain the same despite these updates (the Librem 15 is $1599, and the Librem 13 is $1399).

    • Purism’s newest Librem laptops ship with newer (but still old) chips

      Purism’s first smartphone is set to launch this year, but the corporation got its start making laptops that ship with free and open source software and privacy-oriented features like physical kill switches for the mic, camera, and wireless radios.

      Now Purism is updating its laptop lineup with new models sporting upgraded processors. And by upgraded, I mean the Librem 13 and Librem 15 laptops now ship with a 7th-gen Intel Core i7-7500U processor… a chip that was first released in late 2016.


      These are obviously laptops for a niche market — folks willing to pay a premium for privacy, security, and software freedom. But if you’re in that market, I suppose it’s nice to have the option to pick up a model with a new(er) processor… even if it’s a little overdue (Purism had originally planned to make the switch to 7th-gen Intel chips in 2017) .

      The Purism Librem 13 version 4 features a 13.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel matte display, an Intel Core i7-7500U processor, and at least 4GB of RAM and 120GB of solid state storage (it supports up to 16GB/6TB (2TB NVMe + 4TB SSD).

    • Exclusive: Dell Opens Up About Its Linux Efforts And Project Sputnik

      The XPS 13 was pivotal in my personal switch to using Linux full-time, but I’m not a developer. I initially received the XPS 13 as a review sample with Windows 10. It ticked all my boxes for being a lightweight machine with a dazzling display to use for writing, research and general everyday use. It became exponentially better once I installed Ubuntu 18.04 on it because the sound and Wireless connections were more stable than Windows, updating the machine was a nag-free experience and the operating system was elegant and stayed out of my way.

      I bring this up because prior to being immersed in the world of Linux, I may not have considered buying a “Developer Edition” of the XPS 13 — or any other Dell offering with that name attached to it. It doesn’t necessarily have a consumer-friendly name, yet it’s an ideal device for non-developers who want a rock solid, reliable (and yea, pretty sexy) laptop without the bloat and instability of Windows 10.

      Couldn’t Dell shift more of these units if its Ubuntu-powered XPS 13 shipped under a more mainstream name?

    • APEX in Android Q: What Could Be The Biggest Thing Since Project Treble

      The idea behind APEX by itself is rather common in everyday GNU/Linux distributions: package updates targeting specific sections of the Linux library set. But that’s something Google never tried to do given that Android has used a RO (read-only) partition where all the system libraries and frameworks are stored versus the usual RW (read-write) partitions used in most Linux distributions, rendering the standard upgrade process unsuitable.

    • Chrome OS 73 finally lets you add top-level folders other than Downloads

      While Google has had a rudimentary file manager for Chrome OS for years, it has long lagged behind the functionality of those on other desktop-class operating systems. Starting with Chrome OS 73, however, Google will make a major step forward in catching up, as it allows users to add top-level folders as they choose.

    • Google is Adding ‘Apt Search’ to the ChromeOS App Launcher

      Chrome OS’s ability to run Linux apps continues to mature.

      Having recently revealed plans to let device managers specify a Linux distro for use with the feature comes word of another key feature tasked with making ‘Linux (beta) for Chromebooks’ more user-friendly.

    • Linux Steam Integration 0.7.3 Released With Annoyance Fixes

      Solus founder Ikey Doherty who is back working for Intel on the Clear Linux team and brought the Linux Steam Integration (LSI) into that fold has issued a new release of this software for improving the Steam integration on Linux.

  • Server
    • Kubernetes vs. Docker: A Primer

      The differences and similarities between two of the most influential open source projects of 2018.

      Kubernetes versus Docker is a topic that has been raised numerous times in the cloud computing industry. Whether you come from a non-technical background and need a quick introduction or if you need to make a business decision, I hope that the following few words will clarify this matter once and for all.

      We need to look beyond the hype that surrounds both Kubernetes and Docker. What these words mean is important to grasp before running your business on top of them.

    • VR Development Guide: Choosing the Right Engine

      Creating virtual 3D worlds has been a dream of programmers for many decades. Virtual reality, once a faraway fiction, is becoming a reality. Failures such as Nintendo’s infamous Virtual Boy are now a distant memory, and major successes including PSVR and Google Cardboard have become the norm for the emerging technology. In fact, Statista projects incredible growth for virtual reality, estimating that the market will expand to $40 billion by 2020.


      If you’re looking for the lowest cost possible, you’ll want to investigate completely free engines. Video game engines such as Godot may be serviceable, but virtual reality compatibility is not completely assured. You’ll have to devote more time and resources into editing the engine your needs.

      Completely open source virtual reality-ready engines are also available for use. Apertus VR is one such example. It’s a set of embeddable libraries that can easily be inserted into existing projects. OSVR is another virtual reality framework that can help you begin developing your own virtual reality games. Both OSVR and Apertus VR are fairly new creations, however, and you may experience bugs and other issues you would not encounter with Unity or Unreal.

    • 10 Database ‘Must-Haves’ for Microservices in 2019

      A monolith application can have one database for all functions; however, in a microservices architecture, different services can each operate within its own separate database, which can lead to a dramatic increase cost. An open source database gives users the chance to download a free copy, play with the database and see if it is a right fit before making a major financial commitment. Thanks to the flexibility open source options offer, it’s no wonder Gartner predicts open-source-based database products will account for more than 20 percent of total database revenue by 2020. To ensure success, the key is to make sure the open source option is top quality, reliable, and validated by an industry leader.

    • Eight Application Design Principles to Cope with OpenShift Maintenance Operations

      Most Red Hat OpenShift maintenance operations follow the same pattern: one or more nodes are temporarily taken off the cluster to perform the required maintenance and then they are re-added to the cluster when complete. This cycle repeats until the maintenance operation has been performed on all nodes..

      In order to gracefully remote a node from the cluster, that node must first be drained. Draining the node means killing all of the pods in it, until the node is completely empty.

      In this post, we will look at a set of design principles that facilitate applications coping with this necessary OpenShift maintenance pattern.

    • CES 2019 | IBM unveils first commercial quantum computer

      At CES, IBM unveiled the world’s first quantum computer that commercial customers have access to. Although there is still a long way to go before the technology can really be used by everyone, this is a huge step forward.

    • DevOps for the hybrid cloud: Red Hat Ansible Tower 3.4

      With the growth of the cloud and containers, DevOps has become increasingly important. Old-school sysadmin methods and means simply aren’t up to managing server instances that can spin up at a moment’s notice when needed. Red Hat knows that better than many companies, so its latest release, Red Hat Ansible Tower 3.4, goes even further in automating today’s IT stack.

    • The Slow But Inevitable Shift To Cloudy Infrastructure

      Architectural transitions for layers in the IT stack at hyperscalers can happen in a matter of years, and cloud builders and HPC centers can move at almost the same speed. But for the vast number of enterprises, it takes a long time to change their stacks, in part because they are more risk averse and in part because they have more – and more diverse – applications to support to run their businesses.

      This, we think, is one of the reasons why the transition from bare metal to cloudy infrastructure is taking so long in the enterprise, even as it has long since taken over at the hyperscalers and cloud builders and is making significant headway – mostly due to the advent of containerized environments that are significantly less heavy than clusters that are virtualized with full-on hypervisors – in the HPC realm.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Linux Thursday – Jan 13, 2019 – Lingering Cough Edition
    • Episode 50 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, Linus Torvalds announced that the Linux 5.0 Kernel is coming soon. We got some Linux Mobile news from UBports Ubuntu Touch and Purism Librem 5. Then in App News, Bash 5.0 is out and we’ll check out some new interesting apps like a new Password Manager and subtitles syncing tool. In distro news, we’ll look at some news from Clonezilla Live, Funtoo, and Fedora. Later in the show we’ll check out some Security News for Metasploit and a new 2FA phishing tool. Then we’ll finish out the show with some Linux Gaming news for Super Tux Kart and A Story About My Uncle. All that and much more!

  • Kernel Space
    • Linus Torvalds Says Things Look Pretty Normal for Linux 5.0, Releases Second RC

      Linux creator Linus Torvalds announced today the general availability for testing of the second RC (Release Candidate) of the upcoming major release of the Linux kernel, Linux 5.0.
      According to Linus Torvalds, things are going in the right direction for Linux kernel 5.0 series, which should launch sometime at the end of February or early March 2019, and the second Release Candidate is here to add several perf tooling improvements, updated networking, SCSI, GPU, and block drivers, updated x86, ARM, RISC-V, and C-SKY architectures, as well as fixes to Btrfs and CIFS filesystems.

      “So the merge window had somewhat unusual timing with the holidays, and I was afraid that would affect stragglers in rc2, but honestly, that doesn’t seem to have happened much. rc2 looks pretty normal. Were there some missing commits that missed the merge window? Yes. But no more than usual. Things look pretty normal,” said Linus Torvalds in a mailing list announcement.

    • AMD Raven 2 & Picasso AMDGPU Firmware Binaries Added To Linux-Firmware

      Now available via the official linux-firmware tree are the AMDGPU firmware binaries needed for initializing the forthcoming Raven 2 and Picasso AMD APUs.

      Since a few months back AMD posted the initial open-source driver support for Picasso APUs as well as Raven 2 APUs. That kernel driver support was merged for the Linux 4.20 kernel and the necessary IDs are also present now in the Mesa drivers for rounding out the driver support. But for making this open-source driver support are also the necessary firmware bits needing to be in place.

    • ZOL 0.8 Nears With RC3 Release – Big Update For ZFS On Linux

      ZFS On Linux (ZOL) 0.8 is going to be a big release… No, a huge release. But for ensuring it’s going to be a successful release, a third release candidate was just issued for further vetting of all the new code.

      ZFS On Linux 0.8 is bringing a lot of new features including native encryption support, device removal, direct I/O, sequential scrub, pool checkpoints, and a lot of other new features for the first time with this Linux port of the Sun/Oracle ZFS file-system.

    • Intel Sends Out First Batch Of Display/Graphics Driver Updates For Linux 5.1 Kernel

      While the Linux 5.0 kernel won’t even debut as stable until around the end of February, as is standard practice, it’s open season for new feature improvements of the changes developers want to end up queuing into the “-next” branches ahead of the Linux 5.1 cycle. The Intel open-source driver developers on Monday sent in their initial batch of graphics driver changes for this next kernel cycle.

      Rodrigo Vivi of the Intel Open-Source Technology Center sent in their initial Linux 5.1 Intel DRM driver material today to DRM-Next for its vetting until the Linux 5.1 merge window at the start of March.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Lczero Neural Network Chess Benchmarks With OpenCL Radeon vs. NVIDIA

        Yesterday I posted a number of Lczero chess engine benchmarks on NVIDIA GPUs using its OpenCL back-end as well as its CUDA+cuDNN back-end, which offered massive performance gains compared to CL on the many tested NVIDIA GPUs. With the CUDA+cuDNN code performing so much better than OpenCL, some wondered whether NVIDIA was intentionally gimping their OpenCL performance. Well, here are results side-by-side now with Radeon GPUs on OpenCL.

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Picks Up Memory Budget Information For Mesa 19.0

        With Mesa 19.0 entering its feature freeze this week, the race is on for developers to land their last minute additions to this next quarterly installment of Mesa. Valve developer Samuel Pitoiset has landed support in the Radeon “RADV” Vulkan driver for the new memory budget extension.

      • VKD3D Tapping Vulkan Transform Feedback For Direct3D 12 Stream Output

        Wine’s VKD3D project for working towards Direct3D 12 support mapped atop the Vulkan graphics API now has patches for utilizing transform feedback in order to implement Direct3D Stream-Output functionality.

        Similar to the DXVK support that was added last year when VK_EXT_transform_feedback was first introduced, VKD3D now has patches pending for similar Direct3D Stream Out functionality by utilizing this Vulkan extension.

    • Benchmarks
      • PlaidML Deep Learning Framework Benchmarks With OpenCL On NVIDIA & AMD GPUs

        Pointed out by a Phoronix reader a few days ago and added to the Phoronix Test Suite is the PlaidML deep learning framework that can run on CPUs using BLAS or also on GPUs and other accelerators via OpenCL. Here are our initial benchmarks of this OpenCL-based deep learning framework that is now being developed as part of Intel’s AI Group and tested across a variety of AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards.

        Over the weekend I carried out a wide variety of benchmarks with PlaidML and its OpenCL back-end ofr both NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards. The Radeon tests were done with ROCm 2.0 OpenCL and it was working out fine there without any troubles while also working fine with NVIDIA’s OpenCL driver stack. Benchmarks were done with a variety of neural networks, both training and inference, etc.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • More GNOME Performance Optimizations Being Tackled Thanks To Canonical

        While there has already been a lot of exciting GNOME performance improvements so far during the GNOME 3.32 cycle, even more could be on the way with there still being a number of open merge requests for enhancing the performance of the GNOME desktop.

        Since Ubuntu switched from Unity back to GNOME, Canonical has been contributing more upstream patches to the GNOME stack. Ubuntu/Canonical developer Daniel Van Vugt in particular has been spearheading many of the desktop performance initiatives. He has landed a number of improvements in recent months but he has many open merge requests still to be addressed.

      • Canonical Patches GNOME Bluetooth Vulnerability on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Update Now

        Security researcher Chris Marchesi recently discovered a security vulnerability, documented as CVE-2018-10910, in the BlueZ Linux Bluetooth stack, which made it incorrectly handle disabling Bluetooth visibility, allowing a remote attacker to possibly pair to Bluetooth devices.

        Canonical was quick to release today patched versions of the BlueZ components for the long-term supported Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system series, addressing the security vulnerability, which might also affects all of the derivatives of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, including Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, and Ubuntu MATE.

      • GNOME Security Internship – Update 3

        As of now we allow a single keyboard even if the protection is active because we don’t want to lock out the users. But Saltarelli left a comment making me notice that an attacker would have been able to plug an hardware keylogger between the keyboard and the PC without the user noticing.

        To prevent this now we display a notification if the main keyboard gets unplugged and plugged again.

      • Theme changes in GTK 3

        Adwaita has been the default GTK+ theme for quite a while now (on all platforms). It has served us well, but Adwaita hasn’t seen major updates in some time, and there is a desire to give it a refresh.

        Updating Adwaita is a challenge, since most GTK applications are using the stable 3.x series, and some of them include Adwaita-compatible theming for their own custom widgets. Given the stable nature of this release series, we don’t want to cause theme compatibility issues for applications. At the same time, 3.x is the main GTK version in use today, and we want to ensure that GTK applications don’t feel stale or old fashioned.

      • GNOME Developers Are Testing A Revised GTK3 Theme

        GNOME developers are currently testing some changes to the Adwaita theme as a minor refresh to GTK3 applications.

        With the default GTK3 Adwaita theme not having been revised in a while, developers are looking at making some minor enhancements to “ensure that GTK applications don’t feel stale or old fashioned.” They are testing some changes over the next few weeks and are looking at merging a revised theme into the GTK 3.24.4 release.

      • GTK+ Developers Are Testing An Updated Adwaita Theme

        Along with the GTK+ 3.24.3 release, the GTK+ developers have released an updated, more vibrant Adwaita theme as “a trial”, with the possibility to include it in a future GTK 3 release.

  • Distributions
    • Solus 4 and Budgie 10.5 Desktop Will Finally Be Released in Spring 2019

      It’s been a year since the former leader of the Solus Project, Ikey Doherty, promised us the release of Solus 4, but after many trials and tribulations the team is now stable and ready to continue from where they left off. According to experience lead developer Joshua Strobl, the Solus 4 release is on its way very soon, as soon as Budgie 10.5 desktop environment hits the streets.

      “I’m hoping that Budgie 10.5 will be ready for release in the next few weeks, which also means Solus 4 will also be released, finally moving us away from the Solus 3.x release and subsequent ISO refresh and opening the door to our previously announced change in our In Full Sail blog post to how we release new versions of Solus,” said Joshua Strobl.

    • 2019: To Venture Ahead

      Solus is a project which does not shy away from continuously improving and rethinking entire aspects of our architecture and experiences on our quest for technical excellence, whether that is introducing new tooling and experiences or changing existing ones. 2019 is going to be a transformative year for Solus.

      To make it easier to discover what we’re going to be working throughout the year and the time-frames for when development of those items will occur, we are going to be breaking up these sections into quarters, and within each quarter the projects themselves.

    • Solus Plans For A Busy 2019 With Budgie 10.5/11, Solus 4, Sol & Ypkg 3

      The Solus project has laid out some of their grand plans for the year from their GTK-based Budgie desktop environment to seeing the release of the highly anticipated Solus 4 Linux distribution to working on new software components further out in the year.

    • Top 5 Best Ubuntu Alternatives

      If you asked younger Linux users to tell you what their first Linux distribution was, we bet that Ubuntu would be the most common answer. First released in 2004, Ubuntu has helped establish Linux as a viable alternative to Windows and macOS and convinced millions that not all good things in life cost money.
      If you asked younger Linux users to tell you what their first Linux distribution was, we bet that Ubuntu would be the most common answer. First released in 2004, Ubuntu has helped establish Linux as a viable alternative to Windows and macOS and convinced millions that not all good things in life cost money.

    • MultiBootUSB

      There is a new tool available for Sparkers: MultiBootUSB.

    • Reviews
      • MX Linux MX-18 Continuum – Time x Space x Fun

        MX Linux MX-18 Continuum is a pretty good distro. It has a lot of really cool points, and some superbly nice and unique ones, too. It looks good, it gives you everything out of the box, it comes with a fast installation that will preserve your data, and you get the excellent MX Tools and Package Installer as a bonus. It’s also rock stable, very frugal, the performance is dog’s bollocks, and consequently, you get a really neat battery life. Overall, it’s better than its predecessor in most areas.

        But then, there were also some problems. Mostly cosmetic, just like in the past. But I am not happy about things not working – media playback from the phone, topmenu plugin, those kind of things. By now, I’m expecting perfection. I know it’s hard making always better and smarter products, but it’s the only way. All in all, Continuum is a great distro, don’t get me wrong, but it must not let complacency and randomness spoil its game. 8.5/10 this time, and if you’re looking for a nice distro to test and try, this is by far one of the more refreshing and fun systems I’ve used in a long time. Just be on the lookout for an odd bug. Lastly, we shall soon commence testing on the old Nvidia-powered machine. And that would be all.

      • MX Linux 18 “Continuum” Review
    • Screenshots/Screencasts
    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • Mageia 7 Artwork Voting

        The artwork contest is now closed, firstly, all of the people that gave their time to make and submit so many excellent pieces deserve our thanks, it is really appreciated, they will make Mageia 7 look excellent.

        So now we need to start voting on which of these images we want to have included, primarily for the signature background, but also as additional background and screensavers.

        As we have so many images to choose, there are two votes, one for the background and one for the screensavers, in both cases you can choose up to 20 images that you like, to vote, just put an “x” in a new column next to the image you want.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Looking for a reason to attend SUSECON? I’ve got 5!
      • SUSE Linux for Arm is now available for all customers

        Subscriptions for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for Arm and SUSE Manager Lifecycle for Arm are now available directly to customers through the Corporate price list or through the SUSE Shop
        Previously, SUSE subscriptions for the Arm hardware platforms were only available to SUSE Partners due to the relative immaturity of the Arm server platform. Now that we have delivered four releases of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for Arm and have customers running SUSE Linux on Arm servers as diverse as the tiny Raspberry Pi and the high performance HPE Apollo 70 servers, we are now ready to sell subscriptions directly to customers.

      • And the Race is On! 2018-2019 openSUSE Board Elections Enter Campaign Phase

        Marina is a very active Italian openSUSE Advocate, involved in the Project since 2009, deeply involved in LibreOffice. She relocated to Munich last June, where she is working for CIB mainly on its LibreOffice team as Senior Migrations & Deployments Engineer. You may read more about Marina on her Wiki User page.

        Marina joins an already impressive line-up of Quality Candidates who announced they were stepping up during the past week, adding to what will be very tough decisions for the Voters in the upcoming Elections. Official openSUSE Members in Good Standing are qualified to vote in the Elections, and they will have to make difficult choices for who should take the three open Board Seats, choosing between Marina, incumbent Christian Boltz aka cboltz, Dr. Axel Braun aka DocB, incumbent Sarah Julia Kriesch aka AdaLovelace, Sébastien Poher aka sogal, Vinzenz Vietzke aka vinzv, and Nathan Wolf aka futureboy and CubicleNate on IRC.

        Sarah and Sébastien’s run for the Board was announced in last Wednesday’s openSUSE News, while the Candidacies of Christian, Dr. Braun, Vinzenz, and Nathan were announced in the next day’s news article.

    • Fedora
      • Updating release schedule tasks

        One thing that I noticed as I got settled in to this role last summer is that the Fedora release schedule tasks look a lot like they did when I first started contributing almost a decade ago. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. but I suspect it’s less because we’re still getting releases out in the same way we did 10 years ago and more because we haven’t captured when reality has drifted from the schedule.

      • PHP with the NGINX unit application server
      • Contribute at the Fedora Test Day for kernel 4.20
      • Deepin Desktop Option Approved For Fedora 30

        Last month we mentioned that Fedora 30 was possibly picking up a Deepin Desktop Environment option for this Qt5-based desktop developed by the Deepin Linux distribution.

        Assuming the packaging work remains in good shape, the Deepin desktop option will be found in the May release of Fedora 30. The Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee (FESCo) has formally approved of Deepin being offered by Fedora 30.

    • Debian Family
      • “futurePrototype” will be the default theme for Debian 10

        After the Debian Desktop Team made the call for proposing themes, a total of eleven choices have been submitted, and any Debian contributor has received the opportunity to vote on them in a survey. We received 3,646 responses ranking the different choices, and futurePrototype has been the winner among them.

      • Here’s the Default Theme and Artwork for Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster”

        Created by Alex Makas, the “futurePrototype” artwork set was selected the winner of the artwork proposals for Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” and will be used as the default theme for the upcoming operating system. The “futurePrototype” artwork set consists of a wallpaper, login theme with the Debian Buster logo, as well as a theme for the GRUB bootloader.

        “After the Debian Desktop Team made the call for proposing themes, a total of eleven choices have been submitted, and any Debian contributor has received the opportunity to vote on them in a survey,” said the Debian team in an announcement. “We received 3,646 responses ranking the different choices, and futurePrototype has been the winner among them.”

      • Debian 10 Buster Enters Transition Freeze, New Theme Announced

        Debian 10 “Buster” continues moving along for its hopeful stable release later in 2019. The first freeze is now underway while the new artwork/theme for Debian 10.0 has been decided.

        12 January marked the transition freeze for Debian Buster. New transitions and big ticket changes are no longer permitted. Coming up next month on 12 February will be the soft freeze after which only “small, targeted fixes” will be allowed into the Buster archive. Finally, on 12 March is when the full freeze will take place for Buster. Once that full freeze is in place, changes need to be manually reviewed and approved by the release team. Details on the Buster freezes can be found here.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, December 2018

        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • CasparCG Server for TV broadcast playout in Debian

        The layered video playout server created by Sveriges Television, CasparCG Server, entered Debian today. This completes many months of work to get the source ready to go into Debian. The first upload to the Debian NEW queue happened a month ago, but the work upstream to prepare it for Debian started more than two and a half month ago. So far the casparcg-server package is only available for amd64, but I hope this can be improved. The package is in contrib because it depend on the non-free fdk-aac library. The Debian package lack support for streaming web pages because Debian is missing CEF, Chromium Embedded Framework. CEF is wanted by several packages in Debian. But because the Chromium source is not available as a build dependency, it is not yet possible to upload CEF to Debian. I hope this will change in the future.

      • Derivatives
        • Debian-Based Netrunner 19.01 “Blackbird” Officially Released with New Dark Look

          The development team behind the Netrunner Linux project announced today the official release and general availability of the Debian-based Netrunner 19.01 operating system.

          Dubbed Blackbird, Netrunner 19.01 comes ten months after the Netrunner 18.03 “Idolon” release with a fresh, dark new look and feel with a more 3D-looking design, which was created using the Kvantum theme engine and the Alpha-Black Plasma theme. The new theme comes with some bling too as there’s now a light glow for the “Minimize all Windows to show Desktop” function.

          “Around this time of the year, we thought we could try something more vivid and colorful to lighten up the shortened days. So instead of going with the previously used “material look”, we thought of something different. Blackbird ships with a new Look and Feel Theme called “Netrunner Black” that is based on a dark, yet not too harsh contrasting visual,” reads today’s announcement.

          In addition to the new dark look and feel, the Netrunner 19.01 “Blackbird” release adds support for Web Apps, which are links to websites that can be easily added as launchers from the applications menu, the Plasma-Integration addon to the Mozilla Firefox web browser, which enables media controls and visual feedback for downloads, as well as Plasma integration for GTK+ apps.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • VLC is adding AirPlay support and will reach 3 billion downloads

    VLC, the open-source video player app, is announcing two major milestones from CES today. The development team, Videolan — along with Jean-Baptiste Kempf, one of the lead developers — told Variety at CES that it’ll be adding AirPlay support, allowing users to transmit videos from their iPhone (or Android) to their Apple TV.

  • Faucet: An open source SDN controller for high-speed production networks

    Thanks to open source software, we can now take control over and modify the behavior of almost every component in an IT system. We can modify everything from the networking stack in the kernel all the way down to web server code in user space to make improvements or implement new features.

    The final hurdle to having complete control over our hardware and software stack is the physical network hardware. These devices are usually built from the open source tools we love, but they are presented as black boxes that can’t easily be modified by network operators.

  • Getting started with Sandstorm, an open source web app platform

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

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

  • Key Resources for Effective, Professional Open Source Management

    At organizations everywhere, managing the use of open source software well requires the participation of business executives, the legal team, software architecture, software development and maintenance staff and product managers. One of the most significant challenges is integrating all of these functions with their very different points of view into a coherent and efficient set of practices.

  • An open source world

    HotPicks is one of, if not the most popular section of Linux Format and while the reader survey tells me that, I don’t actually understand why! My gut feeling is that people love the choice, variety and freedom HotPicks delivers every issue. I guess the truth is the sheer variety of open source means it can be hard to discover the best tools for the job and HotPicks offers a way to discover the best each issue… so say hello to our HotPicks Special!

    It’s a guide to this vast open source world and isn’t that what this magazine is here for? So we’re running a best open source software list for 2019. We’ve not done anything like this for over two years, so it’s more than time we help people discover new software that’s just waiting for an apt install to download. The availability of open source is a curse and blessing. It makes some see it as free of value while the sheer abundance makes it hard for others to cut through the noise and get to the tools they need.

  • Open source may be the key to securing IoT [Ed: The writer is selling insecurity and FOSS FUD for a living]

    As a society, we like things that are smart. Your TV, phone, thermostat, even your water bottle now tracks your habits and interacts with you via applications.

    We demand that our connected devices do more for us, collecting data to help us make more informed decisions, offer us more options, and just be downright better. Unfortunately, far too often in the quest to gain more features from our various devices, security concerns are lost along the way.

    Internet of Things (IoT) devices face risks that the industries producing them are generally unprepared to deal with. Time after time, we see new breaches that target vulnerabilities in IoT products which should make us increasingly cautious about buying them, with good reason.

  • Events
    • Why teachers should get out of their comfort zones and into the open

      If ever there was an experience that brought the above quotation home for me, it was my experience at the All Things Open conference in Raleigh, NC last October. Thousands of people from all over the world attended the conference, and many (if not most), worked as open source coders and developers. As one of the relatively few educators in attendance, I saw and heard things that were completely foreign to me—terms like as Istio, Stack Overflow, Ubuntu, Sidecar, HyperLedger, and Kubernetes tossed around for days.

    • A design chat with ’19 UX speakers

      At the end of January, Red Hat’s User Experience Design team heads to Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic, to attend, the 11th annual, free, Red Hat sponsored community conference for contributors to open source.

      This trip marks our team’s first appearance at the Brno conference, and we’re excited to see interest in user experience from the open source development community. I sat down with some of the team to talk a bit about why UX matters and how development teams can shift their thinking to build more usable and intuitive user experiences.

    • Girlscript Summer of Code Is Here

      Heard of Open Source but don’t know how to begin? Wish to work on real projects but don’t know where to get started?

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Moving to a Profile per Install Architecture

        With Firefox 67 you’ll be able to run different Firefox installs side by side by default.

        Supporting profiles per installation is a feature that has been requested by pre-release users for a long time now and we’re pleased to announce that starting with Firefox 67 users will be able to run different installs of Firefox side by side without needing to manage profiles.

      • This Week In Servo 123

        In the past three weeks, we merged 72 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

      • TenFourFox FPR12b1 available

        TenFourFox Feature Parity 12 beta 1 is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). As before, this is a smaller-scope release with no new features, just fixes and improvements. The big changes are a fix for CVE-2018-12404, a holdover security fix from FPR11 that also helps improve JavaScript optimization, and Raphael’s hand-coded assembly language AltiVec-accelerated string matching routines with special enhancements for G5 systems. These replace the C routines I wrote using AltiVec intrinsics, which will be removed from our hacked NSPR libc source code once his versions stick.

        Unfortunately, we continue to accumulate difficult-to-solve JavaScript bugs. The newest one is issue 541, which affects Github most severely and is hampering my ability to use the G5 to work in the interface. This one could be temporarily repaired with some ugly hacks and I’m planning to look into that for FPR13, but I don’t have this proposed fix in FPR12 since it could cause parser regressions and more testing is definitely required. However, the definitive fix is the same one needed for the frustrating issue 533, i.e., the new frontend bindings introduced with Firefox 51. I don’t know if I can do that backport (both with respect to the technical issues and the sheer amount of time required) but it’s increasingly looking like it’s necessary for full functionality and it may be more than I can personally manage.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • ‘Cloudera brand going nowhere,’ says CEO Reilly

      As expected, the newly merged Cloudera and Hortonworks will operate under the Cloudera brand, and is aiming to start moving customers to a new, unified Cloudera Data Platform, while also committing to hybrid and multi-cloud deployments and remaining ‘100% open source’.

      Back in October last year the rivals announced that they would be merging via an “all-stock merger of equals” bringing together two once red-hot heavily VC-backed unicorns that have both struggled to effectively monetise their open source-backed data solutions.

      At the time it was not known how the new company would be branded, but it has now been confirmed it will be called Cloudera, with the Hortonworks branding hitting the scrapheap.

    • Alibaba Acquires Open Source Firm Data Artisans for $130M

      Berlin-based Data Artisans provides distributed systems and large-scale data processing solutions for enterprises. The startup offers its dA Platform, which consists of Apache Flink and dA Application Manager. Its customers include Netflix, ING and Uber. The Chinese e-commerce giant has been working with Data Artisans since 2016 and is one of the biggest users of Apache Flink.

  • Databases
    • Comparing 3 open source databases: PostgreSQL, MariaDB, and SQLite

      In the world of modern enterprise technologies, open source software has firmly established itself as one of the biggest forces to reckon with. After all, some of the biggest technology developments have emerged because of the open source movement.

      It’s not difficult to see why: even though Linux-based open source network standards may not be as popular as proprietary options, they are the reason smart devices from different manufacturers can communicate with each other. In addition, many argue that open source development produces applications that are superior to their proprietary counterparts. This is one reason why the chances are good that your favorite tools (whether open source or proprietary) were developed using open source databases.

  • LibreOffice
    • First Quarter Without Work For TDF

      I did pour volunteer work for LibreOffice and its antecessor for about sixteen years. I worked in different roles for the open source project during this long periode. The project consumed a lot of my spare time. But then I experienced a ‘nice’ communication experience inside the community, that showed me a lack of respect for my project work, its value and also for my person. Thus I decided to completely stop my pour volunteer work within the project three month ago. The LibreOffice extensions and templates website ( lost its maintainer and project reviewer since that time.

    • Community Member Monday: Mohamed Trabelsi and Jim Raykowski

      I’ve been living in Kobe, Japan for three years now. I was Master student at Kobe Institute of Computing for two years, then I did internship for six months at iCRAFT Corp, a Japanese IT company in Kobe. And now I work as a Network Engineer at the same company.

      Outside of work, I’m usually playing soccer, watching movies, traveling around Japan with some friends and family, and going for some volunteering activities nearby.

    • Report on the New LIbreOffice Help Pages Online Editor

      The Javascript editor used is CodeMirror and was carefully selected by Mike Saunders who also set the initial confguration for working with XML and our XML dialect XHP, as well as configured the autocompletion features.

      The XHP snippets were originally designed for the KDE Kate editor and ported to the online editor.

    • LibreOffice 6.2 community focus: Localisation

      Last week, we talked to the design community about their preparations for the upcoming LibreOffice 6.2 release. Today we hear from Sophie Gautier, who helps out with localisation (l10n) – that is, translating the software’s user interface, documentation and website into other languages…

  • CMS
    • What I learned at WordCamp about the new WordPress Gutenberg editor

      I am one of the 75 million (or so) WordPress users. Are you?

      There’s a good chance you are (or will be), as it has been one of the most popular content management systems (CMSs) for many years—32.6% of all websites are powered by WordPress, according to W3Techs. The latest version, WordPress 5.0, released on December 6, 2018, includes the new Gutenberg editor, which takes a new approach to content creation in the software.

      I recently attended WordCamp Toronto, where many of the speakers focused on Gutenberg. WordCamps are a series of one-day, community-driven, and informal WordPress conferences held around the world. Here’s some basic information you need to know.

    • Google Partners With Automattic to Setup a Publishing Platform For Their News Initiative

      Automattic, the parent company of, has received $2.4 million in funding for Newspack initiative. Half of the funding has come from Google through its Google News Initiative that the company launched last year. The remaining funding came from multiple investors that include Lenfest Institute of Journalism, ConsenSys, Civil Media, and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

      The main aim is that journalists should be more focused on writing news rather than the design of the website. Automaticc will work in collaboration with News Revenue Hub and Spirited Media. The collaboration will help to find out new features that can help in the success of publishers. Constant feedback will be taken regarding Newpack so that the product can turn out to be a hit for everyone.

    • Worked On The Migration Of A Second Plone Addon

      I finished my migration of a first Plone addon some a week ago sucessfully and started with migration of a further addon, collective.dexteritytextindexer to Python 3 compatibility. I was able to migrate the source code of the addon itself, but run into issues with the behaviors test script. The tests ran successful on Plone 4.3 to 5.2 and Python 2.7, but failed on Plone 5.2 on Python 3.

  • Healthcare
    • A national electronic health record for primary care

      Selecting open-source software may avoid dependence on the owners of a proprietary product, because the source code will remain freely available and any vendor can provide support and customization services to users. Examples of open-source electronic health record software in use currently include OSCAR, developed at McMaster University and widely used in Canada, and OpenEMR, developed through a collaboration in the United States.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
    • Open Source Startup ‘Tidelift’ raises $25m in series B funding

      It’s always a great thing to know that more startups are now trying to tackle open source sustainability.

      Well, if you didn’t know already, Tidelift is a startup which aims to support the developers and maintainers by monetizing the open source software while also helping them to secure it and improve it.

  • BSD
    • Linux vs BSD: Is BSD better than Linux?

      Well, the world of operating systems isn’t that tiny. There is yet another class of operating system, which most users don’t know about, or haven’t used it ever in their life. It is BSD. BSDs are yet another class of operating system which is also popular among some individual users, or some organizations with some unified goal. If we keep the scene of Windows out of the picture, for now, most users might consider BSD and Linux to be quite similar, with some small differences, or do not have any conception about BSD altogether. And if you are on the verge of installing a new operating system on your computer, which is going to be better for you!

  • Licensing/Legal
    • arter97’s custom kernel and vendor images greatly improve the Xiaomi Mi Pad 4’s performance

      Xiaomi (and a lot of Chinese OEMs) have had a difficult time complying with the rules of the GNU GPL when it comes to releasing the kernel source code for their Android products. The company said they would start doing this 3 months after the release of a new product, but that wasn’t the case with the Xiaomi Mi Pad 4. The device launched in June of last year and, as of October, they had yet to comply with the GPL. Thankfully, they finally released it (a month after we reported on their tardiness) and it has helped developers work their magic on the device.

    • Amazon Web Services’ DocumentDB Takes Aims At MongoDB Workloads

      DocumentDB uses version 3.6 of the MongoDB application programming interface (API) to interact with MongoDB clients.

      That version, dating back to 2017, is covered by the open source Apache licence, a move intended to circumvent MongoDB’s new licensing structure, based on the specially created Server Side Public License (SSPL).

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • EdX Starts the Process to Release “Ironwood”, the Next Version of its Open Source Platform

      The first step will be to create the master branches in the appropriate repos – edX Architect, Ned Batchelder announced. This task is expected for January 18th.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Palitra open source retouching module for photographers

        Photographers looking for an affordable, configurable, open source retouching module may be interested in the new Palitra hardware created by Bitgamma and now available to purchase via the Crowd Supply website from just $25. Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the Palitra photographic retouching hardware and its features.

        Palitra has been designed to be used for photo retouching, vector art creation, general image manipulation, debugger control, as an addition to your IDE, controlling your media player, video editing, music creation, sound engineering or any task that relies on multiple keyboard shortcuts.

      • ULX3S: An Open-Source Lattice ECP5 FPGA PCB

        The hackers over at, a Zagreb Makerspace, have been hard at work designing the ULX3S, an open-source development board for LATTICE ECP5 FPGAs. This board might help make 2019 the Year of the Hacker FPGA, whose occurrence has been predicted once again after not quite materializing in 2018. Even a quick look at the board and the open-source development surrounding it hints that this time might be different.

  • Programming/Development
    • Insert audio into a video with python and FFmpeg
    • Python Testing with pytest: Fixtures and Coverage
    • Creating GUI Applications with wxPython Kickstarter
    • Probabilistic Programming in Python
    • Teaching Digital Archaeology With Jupyter Notebooks
    • State of C Programming Language in 2019

      In four years’ time, C will reach its 50th birthday, an anniversary also shared with PL/M and Prolog. Unlike those two, C remains immensely popular, it’s in the top ten of virtually every programming language popularity survey.

      Linux is mostly written in C. Python‘s CPython implementation, Perl, Matz’s Ruby, about half of R, the MyISAM code for MySQL and even the first Java compiler were all written in C. The kernels of most operating systems (including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android) all feature C.

      Now we have a new C standard, C18, that was ratified a few months ago. A mere 198 Swiss Francs will buy the ISO/IEC 9899:2018 standard, all 520 pages of it; you can view the final draft of it for free, though, on (PDF) to get a sense of the document. It’s only really of use if you are a compiler writer who wants to be 100 percent conformant, or just curious.

    • Remove audio from video with Python and FFmpeg
    • Dockerizing Python Applications

      Docker is a widely accepted and used tool by leading IT companies to build, manage and secure their applications.

    • Improve Your Code With Atomic Functions

      In your studies, you may have encountered the terms “atomic function” and “Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY)”. Today, I’m going to demonstrate how these concepts work together to provide easily maintainable, easily testable, and beautiful code.

      In your studies, you may have encountered the terms “atomic function” and “Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY)”. Today, I’m going to demonstrate how these concepts work together to provide easily maintainable, easily testable, and beautiful code.

    • So… let’s talk Pyramid

      Last year, I started working on a project that I truly believe(d) might change the world (cliche, right?). Like most developers, my first instinct at the outset was to make certain crucial decisions about the overall architecture of the project in view. First question that came to mind was the language to use for the backend of the web app, at least at the outset.

      To be clear, I am quite a Pythonista as I love everything about the language. Although I’m pretty much familiar with Java, Javascript and a little bit of Elixir, I knew there was no way I could go wrong with Python since I was going to be the only developer working on the project for months and I needed to churn out code quickly.

    • Speed Up Your Python Program With Concurrency

      If you’ve heard lots of talk about asyncio being added to Python but are curious how it compares to other concurrency methods or are wondering what concurrency is and how it might speed up your program, you’ve come to the right place.

    • The starting of new pygame project

      Hello, welcome back, due to busy managing the offline business as well as writing article for another website, therefore, no post had been created in the past few days.

    • Qt 6 To Begin Early Stages Of Development In Git

      While Qt 6.0 isn’t due out for the better part of two years still, early patches planned for Qt 6 are expected to begin taking shape within a Git staging branch.

      Lars Knoll laid out plans today to have a Qt 6 branch start for qtbase, since that’s where most of the early stage Qt6 development will begin taking place. Already he’s been collecting some patches from fellow developers and at least having this branch early will serve as a basis for staging until the Qt 6.0 development really heats up.

      The current Qt5 “dev” code would regularly merge into the Qt6 code-base, functions planned for removal in Qt6 would need to be first marked as deprecated by the Qt5 code, and binary compatibility breakage can begin.

    • Intel Looking To Drop Their Nios II Backend From LLVM

      One of the lesser known compiler backends/targets by the LLVM compiler is Nios II, which is for the 32-bit embedded FPGA processor designs.

      Of course, Intel acquired Altera back in 2015 and has been focusing upon the Intel Stratix hardware as their current FPGA focus. For Nios II coverage there’s long been an out-of-tree GCC-derived compiler while the LLVM back-end hasn’t received much attention. It seems the LLVM support for Nios II isn’t widely used as the Intel developers are now looking to drop this back-end.

      In fact, the Nios2 LLVM back-end with being broken for months before it was noticed. Additionally, the experimental target has never been full-featured to the extent that the Intel compiler developers would rather just drop the code.

    • Apple Opens Up Swift/C LSP Based On Clangd

      Built atop LLVM’s clangd server, Apple recently open-sourced SourceKit-LSP as a language server protocol for Swift and C-based languages. This allows for better integration with various IDEs and development tools.

      Language Server Protocols are a standardized protocol for communicating between integrated development environments / IDEs and servers providing various programming language specific features. These LSPs can be re-used by different development tools / editors while providing the necessary functionality for code completion, code formatting, syntax highlighting, and other features that are language-specific and better off re-used across projects rather than needing to be re-implemented each time.

    • Writing Golang as a Python Dev

      I’ve gone through the Golang tutorial once before but in the last month or so, I fully dove into it. I started by writing a simple hello world web application. I found the implementation of the webserver so neat that most of the uses I’d have for a framework is redundant. The in-built libraries already take care of handling most of the use-cases I have. I did a couple of views and a couple of templates. It seems to be working well.

      As someone coming from Python, I keep tripping over types. I started my professional career with PHP and then moved to Python. Both of these languages aren’t very strongly typed by default. So it’s been fun to find errors and fix them. I learn more and more that I can’t be lazy.

  • Science
    • How science is fighting nonscience

      This sense of duty is now brewing a steady myth-busting movement in India where scientists, academics and other groups like the Breakthrough Science Society (BSS) are resorting to hard data, petitions and marches to tame the rabidly mutating beast called ‘pseudo-science’.

    • Pakistan Demands Google Take Down Petition For Academic Freedom… Saying It Represents Hate Speech

      That doesn’t seem to be hate speech, now, does it? So, once again, we have “hate speech” rules being used in an attempt to punish people the government doesn’t like.

      This, of course, is not a defense of “hate speech,” but this pattern is undeniable. The nature of hate speech is such that it is frequently used by the powerful against marginalized groups. And, by definition, marginalized groups are rarely in power in the government, so it frequently does little to actually protect such groups. However, when there is no real definition of “hate speech” and it is quickly turned into “anything we don’t like,” it enables powerful governments to silence and punish anyone.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Salt-free drinkable water comes at a cost

      Around the arid world, some 16,000 desalination plants are now purifying seawater and brackish aquifers, producing 95 million cubic metres of fresh, salt-free drinkable water daily. This is almost half the daily flow over Niagara Falls.

      But there is a potentially-polluting price to pay: for every litre of fresh water, the same desalination plants produce around 1.5 litres of toxic brine. That adds up to enough in the course of a year to cover the whole of the US state of Florida to a depth of more than 30 cms.

      A new study urges nations to explore better solutions – and new ways to exploit the minerals in the wastewater and support efforts to advance the declared UN sustainable development goal of reliable, safe water on tap for everybody in the world.

      A second study confirms that the sustainable development goal of clean water and sanitation for everybody by 2030 is likely to cost around $1 trillion a year – and up to 8% more if the advances are matched by efforts to contain climate change and limit global warming to the agreed UN target of well below 2°C above historic levels by 2100.

    • Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?

      In a Washington Post column Megan McArdle suggests that we pay people to donate their kidneys as a way on increasing the number of donors and reducing the number of people who must rely on dialysis. Needless to say, to many folks it is attractive to get market relationships into ever more aspects of our lives. However, if we are interested in getting more kidneys, rather than just getting more money for the health care industry, this is likely a bad way to go.

      There was a great study done a few years back with child care centers in Israel. As it was, the vast majority of parents picked up their children on time because they knew that being late meant a teacher had to stay late. The study examined what happened if centers charged a small fee to parents for being late to pick up their kids. It turned out that the fee significantly increased the frequency with which parents picked up their kids late.

    • As Corporate Power Threatens Americans’ Right to Water, Groups Offer UN Body List of Issues to Raise With US

      When it comes to ensuring the human right to clean water, the United States has a long way to go.

      That’s the thrust of a new letter (pdf) to the United Nations Human Rights Committee as the body gets ready to review how the U.S. is faring in its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty seen as part of the “International Bill of Human Rights.”

      “Since the U.N. recognized the human right to water in 2010, things have not become substantially better for people struggling in the U.S. with unsafe water, high bills, or the effects of industrial pollution from fracking and factory farms,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Civil and political rights must encompass the human right to water, which is increasingly under threat by corporations that seek to use and abuse our water supplies for profit.”

      The letter, submitted by Food & Water Watch and co-signed by the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise, and In the Public Interest, was sent Monday, the deadline for organizations to send to the committee areas they feel should be included on the “List of Issues Prior to Reporting.” As the ACLU has explained, “In 2017, the U.S. agreed to receive a List of Issues Prior to Reporting from the U.N. Human Rights Committee which will form the basis for the U.S. government’s periodic report to the committee.”

    • St. Luke’s in Houston Replaces Its President, Other Top Leaders After Series of Care Lapses, Recent Deadly Error

      Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center has ousted its president, its chief nursing officer and a top physician following numerous reports of substandard care, including a recent mistake that led to a patient’s death, the Houston hospital announced Monday.

      The departures come in the wake of a yearlong investigation by the Houston Chronicle and ProPublica that documented an outsized number of deaths and unusual complications following heart transplants at St. Luke’s. In August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services terminated federal funding for heart transplants at the hospital, citing its failure to make changes needed to improve outcomes.

      The news organizations also reported on poor outcomes following heart bypass surgery, repeated complaints about inadequate nursing care, a recent rise in the number of deaths after liver and lung transplants, and a physician’s allegation that he was retaliated against after raising concerns that some of his patients had received unnecessary medical treatments in intensive care units.

      The hospital board’s decision to replace top management comes in direct response to a recent error in which an emergency room patient died after receiving a blood transfusion with the wrong blood type, the hospital said in a news release announcing the changes.

    • ‘Do As I Say, Not As I Do:’ Rand ‘Socialized-Medicine-Is-Slavery’ Paul Headed to Canada for Some Surgery

      Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of the most vocal libertarians in Congress, is reportedly headed to Canada later this year to receive hernia surgery and it’s pretty clear that a lot people on Monday are going to be calling him out for this.

      While building a career on promoting the libertarian myth of what Paul and others like to call the “free market,” the “irony of it” was just too rich that he would travel to Canada, which enjoys a socialized, single-payer healthcare system, to have the procedure performed.

    • ‘Make No Mistake. People Will Die’: Backlash Against ‘Relentless War on Medicaid’ Waged by Trump

      Following reporting that the Trump administration is planning an attack on Medicaid by seeking key changes in how the program is financed—changes it wants to make without Congressional approval—Democratic lawmakers and healthcare advocates are warning the proposal means healthcare for millions of Americans will be threatened as states will be forced to “make draconian cuts.”

      The plan, Politico reported Friday citing “three administration sources,” would involve states being able to opt for block grants instead of receiving open ended funding as they do now, for supposedly “more flexibility to run the low-income health program that serves nearly 75 million Americans, from poor children, to disabled people, to impoverished seniors in nursing homes.”

    • Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?

      There have been several pieces in recent weeks about the drop in birth rates in recent years. Birth rates declined in the recession and they have not recovered even as the economy has improved.

      As these pieces point out, economics plays a big role in the drop in birth rates. Young adults often are having difficulty finding and keeping jobs that provide a decent wage. This was certainly true in the downturn, but it is still often the case even now with the unemployment rate at 50-year lows.

      In addition, the United States badly lags other rich countries in providing support to new parents. We are the only wealthy country that does not guarantee workers some amount of paid parental leave or sick days. While many companies offer these benefits, millions of new parents, especially those in lower paying jobs, cannot count on any paid leave. (It is important to note that many states and cities have required paid family leave and/or sick days in the last two decades, making up for the lack of action by the federal government.)

      Child care is also a huge problem for young parents. Quality care is often difficult to find and very expensive. This leaves many young parents, especially mothers, struggling to provide care for their children even as they hold down a job.

      These are real and important policy concerns. People should be able to have children without undue hardship. We also want to make sure that children have decent life prospects. Having parents that are not overstressed and access to good quality child care are important for getting children on a good path is school and their subsequent careers and lives.

      For these reasons, leave policy and child care need to be near the top of the policy agenda. However, the fact that people are having fewer kids is not a good rationale for supporting these policies. A stagnant or even declining population is not a public policy problem.

      The pieces noting the prospect of a declining population usually treat it as self-evident that this is a bad development. It isn’t. The prospect of fewer traffic jams and less crowded parks and beaches does not sound especially scary.

      There are some who see a declining population as a threat to the United States status as a world power. It’s not clear that this is especially true. Indonesia ranks 4th in world population with 270 million people, more than four times the population of the United Kingdom, but Indonesia does not usually get listed among the world’s most powerful countries. More importantly, many of us don’t necessarily like everything the United States does as a world power, so doing somewhat less of it may not be a bad thing.

      If we focus on the economics of a stagnant or declining population the standard story is that we will have a smaller number of workers to support each retiree. This is true, other things equal, but also not an especially big deal.

    • Protecting Birth Control for Millions of Women, Judge Blocks Trump’s “Insidious” Coverage Rollback

      “Because of this injunction, women in 13 states can still access birth control under the ACA,” Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood, wrote on Twitter. “Birth control is critical healthcare that helps millions lead the lives they want. We should be finding ways to increase access, not limit it.”

      Women’s rights groups were quick to point out that the fight to protect birth control throughout the entirety of the U.S. continues, as the judge rejected a request to block the rules nationwide.

      Celebrating the judge’s decision as “excellent news,” Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) noted that it is only a limited and “temporary reprieve” and declared that “we must keep fighting to protect birth control coverage.”

      “These rules from the Trump administration were some of the most insidious in its ongoing effort to undermine women’s health,” DeGette wrote.

      The judge’s ruling protects contraceptive coverage in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

      As Amanda Michelle Gomez of ThinkProgress pointed out, “A similar lawsuit is playing out in a Pennsylvania federal courthouse—meaning, there’s a chance for another court to issue a nationwide injunction.”

    • Where Abortion Fights Will Play Out In 2019

      With Democrats now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, it might appear that the fight over abortion rights has become a standoff.

      After all, abortion-rights supporters within the Democratic caucus will be in a position to block the kind of curbs that Republicans advanced over the past two years when they had control of Congress.

      But those on both sides of the debate insist that won’t be the case.

      Despite the Republicans’ loss of the House, anti-abortion forces gained one of their most sought-after victories in decades with the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Now, with a stronger possibility of a 5-4 majority in favor of more restrictions on abortion, anti-abortion groups are eager to get test cases to the high court.

    • The Return of Reefer Madness

      Nationwide, marijuana legalization is becoming more normal. Colorado’s dispensaries are hailed as an economic success story, and other states are following suit—New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated he’ll support legalization after New York City’s choice to gradually decriminalize the drug. The trend is global: Canada recently joined Uruguay in fully legalizing cannabis, and Lebanon is also mulling legalization.

      Marijuana legalization has always had its opponents—including the alcohol lobby, which wants to protect its monopoly on legal intoxicants, and the prison/industrial complex, which fears a decrease in the number of nonviolent drug offenders who keep jail cells full. Now the reactionaries have another champion athwart history: former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson.

  • Security
    • Cyber security threats will keep getting worse in 2019: claim

      Following a high level of systemic security breaches in 2018, security incidents will keep getting worse in 2019 with identify theft, phishing scams and personal data breaches hitting a new high, according to predictions from one global VPN service provider.

    • Home Affairs perpetuating myths about encryption law: CA chief

      A document issued by the government-funded Australian Cyber Security Growth Network, aimed at providing “information to industry about key economic concerns” over the encryption law that was passed in December, has been dismissed by the Communications Alliance as a bid by the Home Affairs Department to perpetuate myths about the legislation.

    • Document on ‘key perceptions’ of encryption law based on small sample

      The Australian Cyber Security Growth Network, a government body, has issued a document on what it claims are “key perceptions” about the Australian encryption law — officially known as the Assistance and Access Bill 2018 — among industry stakeholders.

    • We are now closer to the Y2038 bug than the Y2K bug

      We crossed the boundary 42 minutes ago. Sorry I’m late. perl -e ‘use Date::Parse; print localtime((0×80000000 + str2time(“1 jan 2000 0:00 GMT”)) / 2) . “\n”;’ Wed Jan 9 17:37:04 2019

    • Windows 7 Only Has One Year of Security Patches Left

      Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 7 with security updates on January 14, 2020. It’s like Windows XP all over again—but much worse. Many more people are sticking with Windows 7 than stuck with XP.

    • Data Of PM Modi’s Website Compromised, Hacker Claims

      he well-known French security researcher and hacker, who goes by the name of Elliot Alderson on Twitter, has claimed that the website of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been hacked. In the past, he has also highlighted the underlying security issue in Aadhaar app and database.

    • Multiple Critical Security Vulnerabilities Discovered In Linux Systemd

      Researchers have discovered some serious security flaws threatening Linux. These vulnerabilities exist in Linux systemd component. According to the researchers, the vulnerabilities pose a risk to all systemd-based Linux distros.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Researchers Reveal Play With Docker Security Vulnerability
    • Linux’s Systemd Hit With Three Security Holes
    • Government Shutdown Means Government Website Security Certs Aren’t Being Renewed

      As Netcraft notes, some of those sites you can’t even get around the security warning, such as certain DOJ sites:

      In a twist of fate, the domain — and all of its subdomains — are included in Chromium’s HSTS preload list. This is a prudent security measure which forces modern browsers to only use secure, encrypted protocols when accessing the U.S. DoJ websites; however, it will also prevent users from visiting the HTTPS sites when an expired certificate is encountered. In these cases, modern browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox deliberately hide the advanced option that would let the user bypass the warning and continue through to the site.

    • Vulnerabilities found in building access system used by schools, governments

      Tenable Research discovered four zero-day vulnerabilities in PremiSys access control system from IDenticard (PremiSys IDenticard). The first, a hardcoded backdoor account, “allows attackers to add new users to the badge system, modify existing users, delete users, assign permission, and pretty much any other administrative function.”

      The ability to “give an attacker unfettered access to the badge system database, allowing him/her to covertly enter buildings by creating fraudulent badges and disabling building locks” is troubling considering tens of thousands of customers, ranging from K-12 schools, universities, government agencies, medical centers, and Fortune 500 companies, rely on IDenticard for secure key card access.

    • Open-Source Metasploit Framework 5.0 Improves Security Testing

      Among the most widely used tools by security researchers is the open-source Metasploit Framework, which has now been updated with the new 5.0 release.

      Metasploit Framework is penetration testing technology, providing security researchers with a variety of tools and capabilities to validate the security of a given application or infrastructure deployment. With Metasploit, researchers can also test exploits against targets to see if they are at risk, in an attempt to penetrate the defensive measures that are in place. The 5.0 release of Metasploit introduces multiple new and enhanced capabilities, including automation APIs, evasion modules and usability improvements.

      “As the first major Metasploit release since 2011, Metasploit 5.0 brings many new features, as well as a fresh release cadence,” Brent Cook, senior manager at Rapid7, wrote in a blog post.


      Metasploit 5.0 now also brings improved usability for security researchers to test multiple targets at scale.

      “While Metasploit has supported the concept of scanners that can target a subnet or network range, using an exploit module was limited to only one host at a time,” Cook wrote. “With Metasploit 5.0, any module can now target multiple hosts in the same way by setting RHOSTS to a range of IPs or referencing a host’s file with the file:// option.”

      Usability also gets a boost with improved performance, including faster startup and searching capabilities than in previous versions of Metasploit. Additionally, with Metasploit 5.0, researchers are now able to write and use modules in any of three programming languages: Go, Python and Ruby. Overall, development for Metasploit 5.0 benefited from an updated process that included a stable branch that is used by Rapid7 and other distributions for everyday use and an unstable branch where new development can be rapidly added before it’s ready for broader consumption.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • The Memo That Helped Kill a Half Million People in Syria

      A memo sent to Hillary Clinton that WikiLeaks made public in 2016 has not gotten the attention it deserves. Now is the time. After President Donald Trump tweeted that he was pulling American troops out of Syria, Clinton joined his vociferous critics who want more war in Syria.

      “Actions have consequences, and whether we’re in Syria or not, the people who want to harm us are there & at war,” Clinton tweeted in response to Trump. “Isolationism is weakness. Empowering ISIS is dangerous. Playing into Russia & Iran’s hands is foolish. This President is putting our national security at grave risk.”

      Actions indeed have consequences.

      The memo shows the kind of advice Clinton was getting as secretary of state to plunge the U.S. deeper into the Syrian war. It takes us back to 2012 and the early phase of the conflict.


      The time stamp on the email is “2001-01-01 03:00” even though Clinton was still a New York senator-elect at that point. That date is also out of synch with the timeline of nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

      But the body of the email gives a State Department case and document number with the date of 11/30/2015. But that’s incorrect as well because Clinton resigned as secretary of state on Feb. 1, 2013.

    • Investigators find evidence tying last July’s murder of three Russian journalists in Africa to ‘Putin’s chef’

      Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s investigative project Dossier Center has reportedly completed a five-month study of the circumstances surrounding the murder of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic, concluding that a local gendarme is likely involved in the triple homicide. The suspect allegedly followed the journalists, and remained in constant contact with their driver and with someone who works at one of Evgeny Prigozhin’s companies. Meduza retells the independent television network Dozhd’s summary of the report.

    • Who’s Running John Bolton to Start a war with Iran? He worried even Mad Dog Mattis

      National Security Adviser John Bolton lied his face off when he told Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on his recent Mideast junket that he was sure Iran’s leaders are dedicated to acquiring deliverable nuclear weapons. Nuclear security expert Joe Cirincione shredded Bolton over his false assertion, which is contradicted by UN inspectors and US intelligence.

      Bolton made sure to tell Netanyahu this so that Netanyahu could quote Bolton in his own fantasy-filled and inflammatory speeches urging an attack on Iran.


      Mattis reportedly felt it would have been legitimate to strike back against the Iraqi militia inside Iraq, but unwise to initiate a cross-border conflict involving a state.

      Ironically, when Mattis first met Bolton, he joked that he had heard that he was “the Devil.” He appears to have been making fun of normal people concerned about Bolton’s excesses. So then toward the end of his tenure Mattis found out that we weren’t wrong about Bolton, and he had been foolish to be so insouciant.

    • The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters

      I hate television “experts”, the infamous “analysts” who know all – and support all – about the military, the televisual ex-generals with vain presidential ambitions and the infamous American “think tank” personnel whose right-wing, pro-Israeli beliefs are carefully shielded from viewers by the US networks who employ them. I always characterise the antiseptic and pseudo-academic institutions to which they belong as the “Institute for Preposterous Affairs”.

      The Fisk “IPA” contains hundreds of robotic folk who will churn out claptrap about “key players”, “stakeholders” and “moderate allies” and, of course, “world terror”. They turn up on CNN, Fox and Russia Today. And, of course, the BBC.

      But William Arkin was always a bit different. This ex-US marine intelligence author of ground-breaking work on secret CIA “black sites” and equally secret US weapons dumps (nuclear and non-nuclear) has a respectful audience at both Harvard and Maxwell US Air Force Base. And when he quits, I take notice.

      Here’s a guy the Reagan administration wanted to send to prison for revealing the location of US and Soviet nuclear weapons, and who – in his own words – “had to fight editors who couldn’t believe that there would be a war in Iraq”. He’s just resigned his job as a talking head. Goodbye NBC News. That’s what I call a real story.

      And here’s what Arkin told his colleagues about the American military when he left NBC last week. “There is not a soul in Washington,” he wrote to them, “who can say that they have won or stopped any conflict. And though there might be the beloved perfumed princes in the form of the [David] Petraeuses and Wes Clarks, or the so-called warrior monks like James Mattis and HR McMaster, we’ve had more than a generation of national security leaders who have sadly and fraudulently done little of consequence.

      Arkin’s draw – for me, at least – is that he doesn’t suck on the rubber tube of Wikileaks or social media whistle-blowers. He prefers to dig down through the pages of dull, boring real military information available in serious army and air force journals and official government documents. I came across his work when a reader in Japan sent me pages from Arkin’s book Code Names: Deciphering US Military Plans, Programs, and Operations in the 9/11 World.

      I was investigating just how Israel was able to maintain its massive aerial bombardments of Lebanon and Gaza without running out of “smart” bombs, cluster munitions and air-to-ground missiles. Even Nato ran low on ammunition in the 1999 Serbian War. But not Israel when it was blasting its enemies – including lots and lots of civilians – in the Middle East.

    • Lessons From Rojava

      This holiday season was unusually kind to the anti-imperialists among us or at least it could have been. Trump shocked the world the week before Christmas by actually putting America first for a change and calling for the immediate withdrawal of the some 2000 troops still illegally occupying North Eastern Syria. Regardless of his motives, which I’m sure had very little to do with anything vaguely resembling the Christmas spirit, it’s hard to deny that this executive decision would have been a decisive win for peace.

      Hard but not impossible. The doves of the progressive left have enthusiastically jumped through their own pinched assholes to stomp on McGovern’s grave with talking points straight out of Karl Rove’s playbook. Sadly, their onslaught of non-stop pro-war agit-prop, aided and abetted by the double-speak of Mad Man Bolton and the other rabid war junkies of Trump’s own administration, may have worked. The perpetually spineless Trump has moved the goal post for the pull-out from 30 days to 90 days to 3 months to ‘maybe later, we’ll see…’

    • Extraplanetary Extravagance

      If you think our government’s war policy has become out-of-this world cuckoo, consider the spaciness being proposed by the cosmonauts on Spaceship Trump.

      Spending $700 billion a year on maintaining the five branches of the U.S. war machine (not counting the costs of actually fighting all the wars they get into) isn’t enough, they now tell us. So prepare to soar — militarily and budgetarily — into a boundless war theater where none have gone before: Yes, outer space!

      It seems that Captain Trump himself woke up one morning and abruptly announced that he was bored with the fusty old Army, Air Force, etc., so he wanted a shiny new sixth military branch to play with.

      Queue the space music sound effects — we’re getting a “Space Force” to carry America’s war-making power to a cosmic level.

      Trump’s loyal lieutenant, Mike “Yes-Man” Pence, promptly saluted, calling Trump’s whim “an idea whose time has come.” America’s military leaders rolled their eyes at this folly, but they’ve since snapped to attention and are preparing to launch Cap’n Trump’s grandiose space dreams.
      In a melodramatic speech, Pence declared that the new Space Command will “seek peace, in space as on Earth.” Hmmm… that’s not very comforting.

    • The Russian Embassy’s (rather conspiratorial) theory of the Skripals’ poisoning

      The Russian Embassy to the United Kingdom has published a press release in response to local media reports about the lives of Sergei and Yulia Skripal since their poisoning. According to The Telegraph, the two Russians are no longer being held in isolation, but medical experts have continued to observe them closely.

      The Russian Embassy pointed to a different detail of the Skripals’ case that has come to light in news reports. “To this day, the investigation has not permitted the public to know where S. and Y. Skripal were and what they did after they left home on the morning of March 4 and drove toward the laboratory at Porton Down with their telephones apparently turned off,” the press release claims.

      British media outlets had already reported in the spring that the Skripals’ telephones were turned off for four hours on March 4. At around the same time, police forces used local sightings of the Skripals’ car to propose and publish the route they may have taken. The vehicle was sighted in the London Road neighborhood, which is located between Salisbury and Porton Down.

      The embassy’s press release does not mention the fact that London Road is also the location of the cemetery where Sergei Skripal’s wife, Lyudmila, and his son, Alexander, are buried. The cemetery was closed for a month after the attack on the Skripals and tested for toxic substances. No traces of the chemical weapon Novichok that was allegedly deployed against the Skripals were found in the cemetery.

    • FBI arrests Russian national for illegal defense trade in Florida

      Vladivostok businessman Dmitrii Makarenko owns six companies, including one currently constructing Kalina Mall, a large new shopping complex in the city. A man by the same name was arrested in the Northern Mariana Islands on December 29 and charged in the United States with money laundering and conspiracy to export defense articles without a license.

      The Guam Daily Post reported that an indictment and an arrest warrant were issued against a Russian citizen named Dmitrii Makarenko on June 15, 2017, in a Florida district court. Makarenko allegedly placed multiple orders for military-grade defense equipment such as ammunition primers, night vision devices, and thermal vision devices to be acquired by his co-defendant, Vladimir Nevidomy. According to the indictment, Nevidomy was born in Ukraine and lived in Hallandale Beach, Florida. He also owned a corporation called Primex Group, Inc., in Miami-Dade County. Nevidomy procured military-grade items from U.S. vendors and shipped them to Russia for Makarenko, the indictment states. Nevidomy entered a guilty plea in June and was sentenced to 26 months in prison.

    • Love in a Cold War Climate

      It’s not a Hollywood movie. That’s clear from the start. Cold War (2018), the feature film made by the Polish-born director, Pawel Pawlikowski, is in black-and-white. The characters have names like Wiktor, Kaczmarek and Mazurek, and the actors include Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot and Borys Szyc to give just a few from a large cast of characters. There isn’t a James, a Barbara or a Marilyn among them, though Kulig turns in a credible performance as a kind of Polish Marilyn Monroe who makes her way up the ladder of success and then throws it all away.

      No American or British director has made a movie titled “Cold War,” but many American and British directors have taken slices from the big Cold War pie and hurled them at the big screen, some with logic and beauty. Think of Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949), which is set in Vienna right after the end of World War II and that stars Orson Welles as Harry Lime, the American hustler and human rat out to make a profit at everyone else’s expense.

      Think also of Stanley Kubrik’s Dr. Strangelove (1964) with Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and Sterling Hayden, which persuaded audiences to laugh at the nuclear apocalypse and not cower under it.

    • How the West uses mainstream liberalism to promote mass murder

      Women now occupy the three top positions of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). They also manage four of the country’s five largest arms contractors. And they oversee the country’s nuclear stockpile.

      NowThis described the CIA’s new appointments as “another stride towards progress”. MSNBC ran with the headline The military-industrial complex is now run by women while asking “who runs the world?” with an apparent sense of pride. Politico, meanwhile, called women taking over of the “military-industrial complex” a “watershed” moment.

    • Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East

      A black rubber inflatable boat was found abandoned earlier this week on the shingle at Dungeness on the Kent coast. Eight men, reportedly Iranians or Kurds, were later found close to the beach or in the nearby village of Lydd.

      An Iranian living in south London was later charged with helping the migrants to cross the Channel illegally from France to the UK.

      Sea crossings by small numbers of asylum seekers are highly publicised because the short but dangerous voyage makes good television.

      The number of migrants over a period of months is in the low hundreds, but politicians believe that the impact of their arrival is high, as was shown by the home secretary, Sajid Javid, rushing back from holiday and declaring the crossings “a major incident”.

      Nobody forgets the effect of pictures of columns of Syrian refugees, far away from UK in central Europe, had on the Brexit referendum in 2016.

    • Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness

      You have to wonder if the Department of Homeland Security is insecure or just lame.

      On New Years’ Eve, I was about to board a flight to Hamburg, when a pair of its officers stopped me to ask a few questions. My mistake was not to demand to know their names, their jobs, and if I was under arrest. Instead, I calmly answered their irrelevant queries. Nothing they asked related to anybody’s homeland.

      The three pieces of paper that one officer handed to me did not concern me or my travel plans. They were sections of the United States Code regarding “subversive activities” at US military sites. I was headed here to Germany to attend the appeal court hearing of a nuclear weapons abolitionist, Gerd Büntzly, whom I joined in 2017, along with three other US citizens, in a protest at the German Air Base Büchel. There are 20 US nuclear weapons at the base (so-called B61-3s or B61-4s) but it’s a German base. The US Air Force just works there under the name “702nd Munitions Support Squadron” to cynically guard, support and train German pilots in use of the US H-bombs upon order of the president. A US flag flies over the base’s entrance next to its German counterpart.

      Gerd, 68, a music teacher, violinist, and orchestral arranger from Herford, Germany, intends to testify at his own appeal that nonviolent resistance at the Büchel base is a lawful act of crime prevention, because Germany and the United States deploy US nuclear bombs in violation of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and other treaties both countries have ratified.

      The NPT prohibits any transfer of nuclear weapons to or from other states that have signed it. To rationalize its nuclear lawlessness, the United States claims: (1) Its hydrogen bombs in Germany are under USAF control at the base until war starts; and (2) The NPT doesn’t apply in wartime (Ha!) when the bombs would be transferred to German Tornado fighter jets flown by Germany’s Tactical Air Force Wing 33 in Büchel. Talk about subversive activities at a military base.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Hard drugs & messed mind: Assange defense hints at origins of ‘conspiracy theories’ by Louise Mensch

      Julian Assange’s legal defense team has questioned the testimony of Russiagate conspiracy theorist, Louise Mensch, recalling her confession of taking “hard drugs” in the past that could apparently affect her accusations.

      Monday’s tweet from the team defending Julian Assange slammed former UK conservative MP turned conspiracy theorist Louise Mensch. The attached article is apparently aimed to remind followers of what exactly the Wikileaks legal team thinks of the woman, who’s been smearing Assange for years.


      The article is an Evening Standard story from 2012 which details Mensch’s admission that she had taken “class A” drugs in her 20s while working in the music industry which “messed with [her] head.” The defense campaign has previously fact-checked Mensch’s “insane” claims against Assange, many of which were shown to be patently false.

    • The U.S. government has amassed an ‘abundance’ of internal WikiLeaks Data

      The U.S. government has an ‘abundance of data to work with’ if it chooses to pursue a case against Wikileaks Founder, Julian Assange, including internal Wikileaks data.

      The data, covering the majority of the organization’s period of operations, from 2009 through 2017 has been seized by the federal government through search warrants, subpoenas, equipment seizures, and cooperating witnesses, as reported by Design, technology and science website, Gizmodo.

    • Guarding You From The News: NewsGuard Warns Against Reading WikiLeaks

      Purported “fake news” detecting browser extension NewsGuard has a biased system for rating news sources, unfairly giving WikiLeaks a purely negative review and a red X while verifying Fox News with a green check mark and little to no criticism.

      Sputnik previously reported on Microsoft’s launching of the app back in August 2018, noting at the time that it was purported to be “Enhancing digital media literacy and transparency” by Microsoft Vice President for Customer Security & Trust Tom Burt, who called it a “powerful tool to reduce the impact of disinformation campaigns.”


      The page describes WikiLeaks as “A publisher of confidential corporate and government documents, usually acquired from leakers and hackers. WikiLeaks has published government secrets as well as sensitive personal information, and strategically published hacked emails, traced to the Kremlin, that hurt Democrats ahead of the 2016 presidential election.”

    • WikiLeaks hits $50,000 in donations, enough to start suing Guardian over Assange-Manafort ‘scoop’

      WikiLeaks says it has collected enough funds to file a lawsuit against the Guardian for publishing an uncorroborated story about alleged meetings between former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Julian Assange.
      The whistleblowing website has thanked all its supporters who contributed to its GoFundMe campaign, launched on November 27 following the publication of an article by the Guardian, which claimed that US President Donald Trump’s disgraced former campaign manager Paul Manafort had held secret talks with Julian Assange at least three times in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where the Australian has been holed up since 2012.

      The donations have recently hit the $50,000 threshold, enabling the whistleblowing site to formally launch proceedings against the renowned British newspaper, WikiLeaks said, calling on its supporters to keep the money flowing.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • A Farewell to Glaciers, Coral Reefs and Rainforests

      Dahr Jamail, staff writer at Truthout, has been writing about the global emergency of climate change for nearly a decade. In his latest book, The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Destruction, Jamail shares his firsthand accounts of returning to beloved spaces in the natural world. He observes the drastic ways in which they’ve been destroyed due to humanity’s relentless burning of fossil fuels, and mourns over how many of them are unlikely to recover over the duration of human existence.

    • EPA Criminal Action Against Polluters Hits 30-Year Low

      The Environmental Protection Agency hit a 30-year low in 2018 in the number of pollution cases it referred for criminal prosecution, Justice Department data show.

      The EPA said in a statement that it is directing “its resources to the most significant and impactful cases.”

      But the 166 cases referred for prosecution in the last fiscal year is the lowest number since 1988, when Ronald Reagan was president and 151 cases were referred, according to Justice Department data obtained by the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility advocacy group and released Tuesday.

    • The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party

      While these are important principles to advocate for, they remain simply slogans without economic policy propositions to present a concrete illustration of what the Green Party is advocating for. Slogans remain slogans unless they are elaborated upon by concrete material demands using those particular lenses of analysis so to provide an example of the eco-socialist praxis promoted in the Green Party’s 2016 platform document. Reparations and restorative justice for these genocides cannot be addressed solely with a jobs program. However, it does provide some preliminary coordinates. Furthermore, recall the words of Combahee River Collective, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression,” meaning that the liberation of Black and Indigenous is the kernel of emancipation for all.

      Furthermore, we need to be conscious of the explicitly racialized nature of the Roosevelt New Deal. In order to maintain his political coalition, Roosevelt intentionally crafted the balance of power in that coalition to favor the fascist southern Dixiecrats. He added measures to all of his New Deal programs to maintain the allegiance of southern politicians and voters. For instance, the National Labor Relations Act, which legalized the right to unionize and created the National Labor Relations Board to adjudicate labor disputes, intentionally excluded the majority of Black and Brown workers by barring domestic (butlers, maids, cooks, nannies, etc.) and agricultural workers from the right to form a union.

    • Warming may mean sea levels 30 cms higher

      The world’s oceans are warming increasingly fast. The planet could face sea levels 30 cms higher in 80 years.

      While 2018 was probably only the fourth warmest year for global surface temperatures, it is likely to have been the hottest year ever for the oceans. The previous such year was 2017, and before that 2016.

      And if global warming follows the pattern predicted by computer simulations, then at present rates the extra temperature of the oceans will cause a thermal expansion – warm water is always less dense than cold water – by 30 centimetres by the end of the century.

      That is 30cms of sea level rise on top of all the extra rising sea water delivered by melting ice caps and glaciers on the world’s continents.

    • Jenny Jones responds to Government’s new air pollution strategy

      Green Party Baroness Jenny Jones, who has put forward a Bill to make clean air a human right, said:

      “Air Pollution is a public health emergency responsible for hundred of thousands of premature deaths, but this new government strategy continues the same slow motion progress of the last two decades. As much as I welcome the long term goals of meeting World Health Organisation guidelines, I’m more concerned that we are nine years behind meeting the pollution limits for NO2 that we set ourselves back in at the turn of the century.

    • The Green New Deal Is Happening in China

      One of the Trump administration’s talking points about global warming is that we’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while the countries that remain in the Paris accord are not. Well, the first part of this story is clearly not true, as data for 2018 show a large rise in emissions for the United States. The second part is also not very accurate, as most other countries are taking large steps to reduce emissions.

      At the top of the list is China. The country has undertaken a massive push to convert to electric powered vehicles and clean energy sources.

      China’s progress in this effort is truly extraordinary. In the case of electric cars, it has used a carrot-and-stick approach where it offers consumers large subsidies for buying electric cars while also requiring manufacturers to meet quotas for electric car production as a percent of their total fleet of cars. It has also invested in the necessary infrastructure, ensuring that there are a large number of charging stations widely dispersed across the country so that drivers don’t have to worry about being unable to recharge their cars.

      The result has been a massive increase in the sale of electric cars. Electric car sales are projected to be 1.1 million this year, almost equal to sales in the rest of the world combined. The country expects sales to continue to rise rapidly, with annual sales hitting 11.5 million in 2030. By comparison, electric car sales are expected to be just 480,000 in the United States this year, less than half the number in China.

      There is a similar story with solar and wind energy. China added more solar capacity last year than the rest of the world combined. In 2018 it already surpassed the goal it had set for 2020. It is now looking to double its capacity over the next two years.

      China also has almost as much wind power capacity as the rest of the world combined. Its capacity is more than three times as great as in the United States. However, even with the extraordinary growth in clean energy, wind and solar together still account for less than 20 percent of China’s generation capacity and less than half the amount of electricity produced by burning coal.

      China’s enormous progress in promoting electric cars and clean energy should tell us a great deal about the potential in these areas in the US.

      Nonetheless, China’s enormous progress in promoting electric cars and clean energy should tell us a great deal about the potential in these areas in the United States. While China’s economy has grown rapidly over the last four decades, on a per person basis its income is still less than one-third that of the United States.

      This means that a relatively poor country was able to make massive gains in reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared with its baseline growth path. The focus on electric cars and clean energy also did not impair the country’s growth in any obvious way.

    • New Year, New Books: The 14 Best Environmental Books of January

      Books coming out this month look at saving snow leopards and killer whales, Buddhist and Muslim solutions to climate change, and new ways to grow food.

    • Wood burners and open fires face restrictions in new clean air plan

      Wood burning stoves, open fires and farms all face new restrictions as the government sets out what it calls a “world leading” plan to tackle air pollution.
      In their Clean Air Strategy, published today, the government promises to set a “bold new goal” to reduce particulates across much of the country by 2030.
      But green groups say the scheme is vague and severely lacking in detail.
      They believe the plan proposes nothing new to tackle roadside dirty air.
      The new strategy, which is focused on tackling air pollution in England, has been launched just days after the family of a nine-year-old girl who died from asthma were given permission to apply for a fresh inquest into her death.

    • A Call for the Food Movement to Get Behind the Green New Deal

      The final months of 2018 will likely be remembered as the decisive moment when the global grassroots awakened to the life-or-death threat posed by global warming. With violent weather and climate disasters becoming the norm, and international scientists finally shedding their customary caution to report that we must drastically slash (by at least 45 percent) global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, hundreds of millions of ordinary people across the world seemed to simultaneously wake up.

      Young climate activists under the banner of the Sunrise Movement in the U.S. and the Extinction Rebellion.

      in the UK and other countries, sat in at politicians’ offices. They blocked streets and roadways. They emanded immediate and bold action.

    • ‘Shameful’: Colorado Supreme Court Denounced for Siding With Big Oil Profits Over Public Health in Youth-Led Suit

      “It is so disappointing for the youth and the people of Colorado to hear the decision from the Colorado Supreme Court today,” said Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, an 18-year-old plaintiff in the youth-led suit against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).

      “To know that the judges in the highest court of my state believe that the interests of the oil and gas industry come before the public health, safety, and welfare of my fellow Coloradans is shameful,” Martinez added. “But I want you all to know that this fight for climate justice is far from over. My fellow plaintiffs, youth around the world, and I will continue to stand up for our right to a healthy future.”

      Emma Bray, a 19-year-old plaintiff from Denver, said in a statement the ruling will not stop the growing youth movement for bold climate solutions.

      “Not a single person, company, or corporation can silence the young generation’s voices,” Bray declared. “We will continue the fight for our Earth and our future, despite the mountains we need to climb and the setbacks that we will overcome. Regardless of the court’s decision in our case, the fight will continue.”

  • Finance
    • Labor in the Age of Trump

      Without going into the long history of how the Democratic Party slowly co-opted union leadership (with some exceptions), the labor movement is at an existential crossroad. If it stays the course, protesting, rallies, lobbying their congress member, backing the Clintonites and not the Sanders’s disciples in elections, it will soon die as quickly as President Reagan busted PATCO. What is happening now with the shutdown is the crucible of life and death for labor in America.

      800,000 workers are furloughed or working without pay. We see on the news the individual horror stories of these workers. Their future isn’t just uncertain, it has been forever changed. So many others have yet to fall into the abyss that awaits them, even with a quick settlement at this point. This is not the time to show one’s outrage by singing from the same psalm books. Joe Hill would not have it. Nor Mother Jones or E.V. Debs! Where are they today? They were the mythical heroes of the past; leaders who inspired us to do what? We don’t sing in our taverns great leftist labor songs. Very few prominent, stirring movies. Matewan, Norma Rae. Some others, yes, but it just isn’t our culture. And it has brought us to today.

    • On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years

      UTLA has never denied that part of the money needed has to come from Sacramento, and has made efforts towards this end. But we demand that LAUSD meet us halfway. LAUSD can’t resolve the entire problem, but it can resolve some of it. When it is willing to do that, our strike will end.

    • LAUSD Teachers’ Strike: Day 1
    • Tens of Thousands of L.A. Teachers Cut Class to Strike

      On an average day in Los Angeles, a mere hint of drizzle can throw the whole city disproportionately out of whack, to put it mildly. Not so on Monday, when even heavy showers couldn’t deter some 30,000 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) public-school instructors from cutting class and taking to the streets in the first teachers’ strike the city has seen in 30 years.

      The L.A. strike is the latest in a series of collective actions orchestrated over the last 11 months by educators around the country, which thus far have included statewide teachers’ strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona, as well as walkouts in Colorado, Washington, Kentucky and North Carolina. Last summer, 98 percent of LAUSD members were spurred to vote in favor of striking after failing to reach agreement with district officials about issues such as inadequate pay, overflowing classrooms and a glaring lack of full-time nurses and librarians and other key staffers in L.A.’s public schools.

      More to the point, as one striking member of the LAUSD put it in a Huffington Post piece, “We’re walking out because we feel like we’re part of a rigged game set up to undermine public education.” This take on the state of the nation’s educational system may be bleak, but it’s apparently not rare—and projections are looking dire for teachers, their students and other members of the extended public-school community. In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that “[t]eachers and other public education employees, such as community college faculty, school psychologists and janitors, are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate on record,” according to government data.

    • LA Teachers Strike Is About Charter Schools and High Stakes Testing

      On Monday more than 30,000 teachers at 900 schools in Los Angeles, California, will be on strike.

      And unlike the wave of teachers strikes last year in red states like West Virginia, this time educators are taking to the streets due to the policies of Democrats.

      At issue are things like lowering class sizes and providing more nurses, librarians and counselors.

      But behind these issues lies one of the most important facts about our country.

      When you get right down to it, there is very little difference between many Democratic policymakers and their Republican counterparts.

      You think Betsy Devos is the opposite of Arne Duncan? Wrong.

      You think Barack Obama is the opposite of Donald Trump? Wrong again.

      Though there are differences, those often amount to differences of degree.

    • Beginning Walkout, Los Angeles Teachers Find Support From Sanders—But Not Corporate Democrats

      As more than 30,000 educators and supporters prepared Monday to protest the Los Angeles school district’s overcrowded classrooms, low teacher salaries, and refusal to hire sufficient support staff, observers noted how the lines being drawn reflect divisions within the Democratic Party regarding education policies: corporate-backed privatization versus strengthening public schools.

      Education Secretary Betsy DeVos attacked teachers across the country for going on strike last year over their chronically low wages, claiming Oklahoma teachers were allowing “adult disagreements” to get in the way of “serving the students”—ignoring the fact that educators there walked out of classrooms last April largely because funding cuts had left schoolchildren with dilapidated textbooks and insufficient supplies.

      But the fight over the future of education and teachers’ rights in Los Angeles is revealing rifts among Democrats and progressives, with former Education Secretary Arne Duncan also expressing support for the school district while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stands firmly on the side of the educators.

    • LA Teachers Demand Moratorium on Charters as Strike Begins

      About 33,000 unionized teachers in the nation’s second-largest school district are walking out of classrooms across more than 1,000 Los Angeles schools today in their first strike in 30 years. The teachers are demanding much more than simply higher pay, smaller class sizes and additional support staff such as nurses, counselors and librarians. They’re also calling for a moratorium on new charter schools in the district.

      Schools are remaining open despite the strike, with the district reassigning more than 2,000 administrators and hiring more than 400 substitute teachers to take the place of striking teachers.

      The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) and the Los Angeles Unified School District remain at an impasse over critical issues affecting working conditions in classrooms serving more than 640,000 students. The strike, originally slated for last Thursday, was moved to today after the school district raised a legal technicality over whether the union had provided adequate formal notice. The LA Superior Court on Thursday agreed that it had, paving the way for today’s strike.

      The union balked at the district’s last-ditch offers last week to change their contract, noting that the alteration could end up actually increasing class sizes after one year. The negotiating team for the school district, led by District Superintendent Austin Beutner, said it agreed to provide $130 million to increase support staff to schools and to rein in class sizes.

      The district has offered teachers a 6 percent raise spread out over the first two years of a three-year contract. However, the union’s demand is a 6.5 percent raise, and it also takes issue with the fact that the district’s offer of a wage increase would be contingent upon cutting future teachers’ health care benefits.

    • LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”

      It is possible that they’re simply too disorganized to be capable of making UTLA a real contract offer. To be fair to LAUSD, they have had an unstable superintendent situation, some of which wasn’t their fault.

      We started negotiations for this contract back in April of 2017 when Michelle King was the superintendent. She went on medical leave due to cancer late that summer, and Vivian Ekchian became acting superintendent. King stepped down in January. The Los Angeles Times said “Because senior officials have praised her performance, Ekchian is likely to be a candidate for the permanent job.”

      However, the billionaire-funded charter lobby poured money into some of the school board elections, and we ended up with pro-charter majority, who then appointed Beutner, who took office in May. Ref Rodriguez, once the leader of the charter school-backed majority that took over the board, resigned and pled guilty to a felony. It’s been a chaotic situation Then again, by now they’ve had plenty of time to get organized.

    • Nation’s Largest Mental Health Organization Urges Supported Housing Reforms

      In 2014, Garaufis issued an order to move as many as 4,000 people out of adult homes — group living arrangements where mentally ill people were found to have suffered neglect and financial exploitation at the hands of home operators.

      ProPublica and Frontline spent more than a year examining the proposed alternative, known as supported housing — independent apartments where adult home residents were expected to live on their own with minimal support from social service agencies. We found that some of the most vulnerable people who made the transition slipped through the cracks, including six whose deaths raised questions and two dozen more who were not able to care for themselves, ending up in unsafe or inhumane living conditions. We showcased the journey of Nestor Bunch, who was hospitalized multiple times and beaten nearly to death while in supported housing.

    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Old Man’ By Stella Donnelly

      Lyrics such as, “We sat there silently while you kept your job. And your place and your six-figure wage” highlight the current reckoning taken place. Survivors, who were formerly silent, are now speaking out. The systematic structures that gave the powerful cover are collapsing.

      The chorus poses the potent questions, “Oh, are you scared of me, old man? Or are you scared of what I’ll do?” It then adds the stinging denouncement, “You grabbed me with an open hand. The world is grabbin’ back at you.”

      The fact that women are empowered to speak up not only gives past survivors an opportunity to seek long-awaited justice, but Donnelly also highlights that it is the survivors speaking out, who will help protect the future for younger women (“Cause it’s our words that’ll keep our daughters safe”).

    • As Gov’t Shutdown Drags On, IRS Continues to Aid the Rich & Corporations While Targeting the Poor

      As 800,000 federal workers remain furloughed or working without pay in the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, we look at how the Trump administration has restarted a division of the Internal Revenue Service to help corporate lenders. The Washington Post reports that an appeal from the mortgage industry has resulted in hundreds of IRS staffers returning to the agency to carry out income verifications for lenders. This process earns the $1.3 trillion mortgage banking industry millions of dollars in fees. We speak with Paul Kiel, a reporter for ProPublica and contributor to the series “Gutting the IRS.” His recent piece for the series is titled “Who’s More Likely to Be Audited: A Person Making $20,000—or $400,000?”

    • Prominent Investor Optimistic, Awaits Crypto Adoption In 2019

      Kyle Samani, an optimistic, leading Bitcoin and crypto investor, expects the adoption of blockchain products during 2019.

    • China Offers Trump a Trade Peace Deal. It May Not Be Enough.

      China is buying American soybeans again and has cut tariffs on American cars. It is offering to keep its hands off valuable corporate secrets, while also allowing foreign investors into more industries than ever before.

      Beijing hopes all of that will be enough to let President Trump declare victory and end the trade war between the two largest economies. But the offer combines some real concessions, like lower tariffs, with nebulous promises, and it will be hard to ensure that China sticks to its commitments.

      That could make it a tough sell in Washington. The Trump administration’s trade hawks are still pushing for a lot more, while even the doves fret that the new promises need effective enforcement to make sure that China follows through, according to people with a detailed knowledge of American policymaking.

      Many American officials and businesses complain that China has long wiggled out of commitments — accusations that China denies. And the more hawkish wing of the administration contends that Beijing’s assurances have been so vague that it is hard to discern any meaningful progress, a position some analysts support.

    • This is Crypto Life: TRX Pump Following BitTorrent Announcement Returned TRON The $126M Acquisition Cost

      The cryptocurrency community has expressed noted negativity surrounding the details of Tron’s acquisition of BitTorrent and the subsequent plans to issue the so-called BTT Token.

    • How Megaprojects Perpetuate Income Inequality Is A Major Issue For Next Chicago Mayor

      Throughout Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s two terms, residents saw an incredible amount of money and resources pour into the coffers of big corporations to encourage economic development. Hundreds of millions of dollars were handed over to entities to encourage economic growth, however, entire swaths of the city—particularly in areas heavily populated by people of color—have seen little return on investments made with their tax dollars.

      “Development that does not address displacement is not development, it is whitewashing our neighborhoods and our communities,” said Amisha Patel of the Grassroots Collaborative at a November press conference at the site of a proposed mega-development in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. The project has been dubbed “Lincoln Yards” by its owner, real estate developer Sterling Bay.

      Sterling Bay bought the property, which sits along the North Branch of the Chicago River, for an estimated $100 million in 2012. In the last few months, Sterling Bay has unveiled several drafts of its big plans for the development, which include 12 million square feet of office, residential, retail, hotel and entertainment space, and a small smattering of parkland. In total, the project could cost more than $5 billion.

    • Thousands of Russians have joined something called the ‘Union SSR’ trade union, calling themselves Soviet citizens and refusing to pay their bills

      A former oil trader founded an organization called the “Union SSR” trade union, whose members believe the Soviet Union never legally collapsed

      If you call the telephone number listed on the website for the “Union SSR” trade union, a friendly woman answers the phone. For some reason, the first question she asks is “What do you do for a living?” Then she invites you to join. In her words, the organization’s focus is “helping people.” Membership in the group has some unusual perks, including not paying for electricity and other public utilities, “in accordance with the officially functioning social contract.”

      The “Union SSR” trade union is the brainchild of St. Petersburg native Sergey Dyomkin, who says he got his start as an oil trader selling Russian fuel abroad, after serving in the army in the 1990s. He later managed the construction company “Mostekhnostroi,” working with Russian Railways and as a permanent subcontractor for the Baltic Construction Company. According to the Spark-Interfax database, Sergey Dyomkin owns the company “RSD” in Russia’s Lipetsk region and served as director of a company that dealt with services related to electrical grids. In 2012, that latter business bid on a contracts to maintain the air conditioners at the Moscow University of the Interior Ministry and provide interior design services to the office of Yakutia’s permanent representative in Moscow. (Dyomkin confirms that he owns RSD but denied any ties to the second firm.)

    • Dreams Deferred: How Enriching the 1 Percent Widens the Racial Wealth Divide

      This report looks at the trends in household wealth among Black, Latino and White households over the past three decades. It relies on data from the Federal Reserve Board’s most recent triannual Survey of Consumer Finances. The Racial Wealth Divide Over the past three decades, a polarizing racial wealth divide has grown between White households and households of color. Since the early 1980s, median wealth among Black and Latino families has been stuck at less than $10,000. Meanwhile, White household median wealth grew from $105,300 to $140,500, adjusting for inflation.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Tulsi Gabbard’s Presidential Campaign Likely To Challenge US Military Industrial-Complex

      Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii announced she will launch a presidential campaign for 2020. Her campaign is likely to distinguish itself from other Democratic campaigns by making wars and broader United States foreign policy a major issue.

      Gabbard was elected to the Hawaii state legislature in 2002. She joined the Hawaii Army National Guard a year later and voluntarily deployed to Iraq, where she completed two tours of duty in 2004 and 2005.

      She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, and according to her own website, she was “one of the first two female combat veterans to ever serve in the U.S. Congress, and also its first Hindu member.”

      During Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, Gabbard gained notoriety after she resigned from her position as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee so she could openly support Sanders. She spoke at Sanders campaign rallies to help him distinguish his foreign policy from the much more hawkish foreign policy of Hillary Clinton.

      Gabbard was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2018. She won 83 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary election.

    • Big Changes Are Coming to Iowa’s 2020 Caucuses

      The Iowa Democratic Party is preparing to implement the most sweeping and radical changes to its first-in-the-nation caucuses in 50 years, including potentially adopting online elements that could increase participation by upward of 100,000 voters, according to party leaders.

      “We have spent many, many months and thousands of hours of conversations with a whole lot of different folks about what is the best solution. And we’re in the process right now, literally this month, of crafting that into a draft of a delegate selection plan,” Iowa Democratic Party executive director Kevin Geiken said Thursday.

      “We’re down to about three choices,” he said. “We’re down to an absentee ballot system. We’re down to a proxy system. We’re down to a tele-caucus system. I would venture to say that we are even down to two potential solutions, because the absentee ballot process is so complicated logistically that I just don’t think that is a viable solution for us.”

      Iowa party officials have not formally decided what options to pursue, he emphasized. But a detailed discussion with Geiken and Democratic National Committee officials is strongly pointing to the likelihood that Iowans will be able to participate in 2020’s caucuses using online tools.

    • As Congresswoman ‘Keeps Kicking Ass’ on Social Media, Ocasio-Cortez Rejects Idea ‘Some Subjects Too Complex for Everyday People’

      According to numbers from CrowdTangle compiled by Axios, Ocasio-Cortez, who was sworn in less than two weeks ago, had 11.8 million total interactions on Twitter—retweets plus likes—between Dec. 11 and Jan. 11. The congressional Democrat with the second most Twitter interactions was Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), with 4.6 million.

      “I inherently reject the paternalistic idea that some subjects are too complex for everyday people to engage,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Monday, explaining her messaging approach that has, in just a few months, driven previously obscure or marginalized solutions like the Green New Deal and a 70 percent top marginal tax rate into mainstream political discourse.

      “When I meet everyday people, they are eager to learn more, ask great questions, and embrace nuance,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “If we present compelling, solid info plus commonsense arguments, we can win.”

      Based on CrowdTangle’s figures, below is a Twitter engagement ranking among the congressional Democrats included in the new analysis, as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former President Barack Obama, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas). For Harris, Sanders, and Warren, the figure is the combined number of interactions on their personal and official accounts.

    • New Analysis Shows Why Democrats Are Wrong to Fear Bold Embrace of Medicare for All

      On the same day a new poll showed an overwhelming majority of Americans think the nation’s healthcare system is “in state of crisis,” a new analysis shows that Democrats should listen to those Americans—and end their reluctance to run on the promise of a bold solution like Medicare for All while propping up the for-profit system.

      A new Gallup survey released Monday showed that 70 percent of respondents saw the U.S. healthcare system as having “major problems” or being in a “state of crisis.” Eighty-four percent of Democrats expressed these concerns about the system in which many families are forced to pay high premiums and and deductibles, with worse health outcomes than in other high-income countries, while 56 percent of Republicans agreed.

    • Will the Longest Shutdown in US History End in a Power Grab?

      On Saturday, the government shutdown reached day 22 and became the longest government shutdown in US history.

      Since the 1970s, government shutdowns have been a way of life in Washington, occurring every few years. The current intractable shutdown over the president’s demand for $5 billion for a border wall has been marked by repeated failed negotiations, and it’s increasingly hard to see where this could all end.

      President Trump has repeatedly floated the idea of declaring a national emergency in order to circumvent normal budget processes and get the money for the wall. And in recent days, analysts have increasingly suggested that this may be the most plausible way to end the shutdown, which has forced 800,000 government employees to either stay home or work without pay.

      Past shutdowns have always ended with negotiated deals. Using a declaration of emergency to end a government shutdown — regardless of whether it even worked at all — would be an unprecedented and authoritarian move that could open the door to a host of alarming future scenarios in which a president might use this power to shut down electronic communication or freeze bank accounts.

    • From Beto to Oprah, undeclared 2020 candidates already backed by outside groups

      As a growing number of potential 2020 Democratic candidates weigh their chances, various PACs have appeared hoping to demonstrate grassroots support and “draft” their favored candidate into running.

      Already attracting a lot of attention is unsuccessful 2018 Senate candidate and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas). A Politico report claims he is “leaning toward running for president,” and several unaffiliated PACs have been launched since November 2018 with the intention of getting O’Rourke to run.

      The Draft Beto PAC, launched on Nov. 23, 2018, is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York and lists Nathan Lerner as its treasurer. Lerner is an Obama 2012 alum and executive director of the Build the Wave grassroots organization and PAC. He also co-founded the website. The Draft Beto PAC has no financial data listed as no filing deadlines have passed since it was registered with the FEC.

      Another organization, The We Want Beto Unofficial Street Team 2020 PAC, also launched in 2018. Based in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, the PAC lists Christopher Hopcraft as its treasurer. Hopcraft appears to be a business owner in Michigan and the founder of The World Trade Center Oak Project, according to a Facebook account matching the name in the FEC filing. A website describes the group as an “unofficial activist group dedicated to seeing Texas Representative Robert Francis ‘Beto’ O’Rourke nominated as the contender for President by the Democratic Party.” The PAC has no financial data because no filing deadlines have passed since it was registered.

    • The Twitter Smearing of Corbyn and Assange

      The U.K.-financed Integrity Initiative, managed by the Institute for Statecraft, is ostensibly a “counter disinformation” program to challenge Russian information operations. However, it has been revealed that the Integrity Initiative Twitter handle and some individuals associated with this program have also been tweeting messages attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. This takes on special meaning in light of the numerous U.K. military and intelligence personnel associated with the program, documented in an important briefing by academics in the Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media.

      Several journalists have been named as associated with the Integrity Initiative, either in program “clusters” or having been invited to an Integrity Initiative event, in the documents that have been posted online. (For more on this see section 7.1 of this briefing note, the “UK” section of the “Xcountry” document and journalists invited to speak at an Integrity Initiative event in London in November 2018.)

    • Corporate Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear

      After having been a mainstream TV news pundit, I’m unfortunately addicted to cable news (mostly MSNBC and CNN) and all the blather and repetition—laughably overhyped as “breaking news.” Even when it’s the same news that’s been breaking… and breaking… for hours or days.

      But I’m more bothered by the repetition of pundits and the narrowness of discussion, resulting in a number of unexamined clichés. Although the Democratic race for president has barely launched, mainstream media bias is already in orbit.


      The absence of pundits firmly allied with the progressive wing of the party leads to un-rebutted establishment clichés, such as: “Democrats who are too progressive can’t win the votes of moderate and swing voters.” This line persists despite Hillary Clinton, the candidate of supposed moderation and realism, having lost the White House to the most disliked candidate in the history of polling. And despite Clinton’s narrow losses in Michigan (by 11,000 votes), Wisconsin (23,000 votes) and Pennsylvania (44,000 votes)—with survey data indicating that the number of voters who supported the unabashedly progressive Sanders in primaries and then voted for Trump in the general—was far larger than Clinton’s margin of defeat: 48,000 voters in Michigan, 51,000 in Wisconsin and 117,000 in Pennsylvania.

      It’s not hard to find these swing voters. I co-produced a soon-to-be-released documentary, “The Corporate Coup D’Etat,” and our film team easily located and interviewed working-class people in Ohio who voted for both Obama and Bernie . . . and then chose Trump over Hillary in November 2016.

    • After a Weekend of Explosive Revelations, How Much More Is Trump Hiding?

      That comment specifically refers to a question posed to the president by Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro in reference to the big Times story on Friday reporting that in the wake of the firing of James Comey in May 2017, and Trump’s suspicious behavior surrounding that event, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into the president himself. We don’t know whether that probe is still active, but one can safely assume that it was folded into special counsel Robert Mueller’s portfolio along with a number of other investigations that had been opened into Russian spying, sabotage and cyber-propaganda over the course of the presidential campaign.

      Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir took a deep dive into the details and political implications on Saturday, particularly noting the fact that while many of us have concluded that there was plenty of evidence Trump was compromised and this was just the last straw, the right just sees this as more evidence of a “Deep State coup.” Any hopes that there will soon be a bipartisan consensus on this is as remote as ever.

      But that wasn’t the only Russia story that hit this weekend. The Washington Post reported that Trump’s infamous private meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the past two years are even more suspicious that we were led to believe. This seems to have especially alarmed some of the people who know about such things:

      The Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand pointed out that Laufman is the former chief of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the National Security Division at the Department of Justice. He oversaw parts of the Russia investigation before leaving DOJ last year.

    • Trash In Aisle 1600

      Make it stop. When a sports team – in this case, the Clemson Tigers college football champions – degraded themselves to put on their best suits and fly several hundred miles and make their laborious way through the requisite security maze in order to be honored with a visit to the White House, what they got for their questionable trouble was tables stacked with cold Big Macs, chicken nuggets, french fries and other congealed fast food that had been personally “catered” by the tacky, purportedly billionaire POS in residence, who likes his foodmade by the grossly underpaid, often brown-skinned workers at Macdonald’s and Wendy’s but just doesn’t want to let any more of them into his pristine white country. Inexplicably wearing his coat inside – does this racism make me look fat? – he gestured to his greasy spread and boasted to his assembled, blank-faced guests it was all “good stuff.” “We have 300 hamburgers and many, many French fries,” he proudly proclaimed. “We have everything that I like.” From LeftSentThis: “Nothing says full-circle-Americana like a white supremacist in a house built by enslaved Africans – who were exploited and fed garbage – hosting predominantly black Clemson collegiate athletes exploited by the NCAA industrial complex (being) fed fast food.” Word.

    • The Faux Political System by the Numbers

      It’s sort of funny in a diabolical way: Trump a Russian agent. That’s the line that readers might expect from a remake of Back to the Future 1, 2, or 3, or a possible article from the National Enquirer… the stuff of science fiction, or fiction, or gossip. But the FBI, our national police, seem to have not much else to do than to cook up schemes of intrigue and espionage.

      There is something going on in the dimension of real politics and it can be expressed by the equation mr=ip squared, where m stands for mild, r stands for a reformer, i stands for identity, and p stands for politics. Try it with, say, a mild, but genuine reformer like Ralph Nader and see how the formula works, or an even milder reformer like Bernie Sanders and the result will be the same. Come to the political and economic table in the U.S. in the 21st century, propose mild reforms such as consumer protection, or addressing the effects of climate destruction, and the few and the wealthy, the oligarchs and plutocrats, will stop you in your tracks.

      Senator Bernie Sanders is the mildest of reformers, say with issues of student debt or of income inequality, but over the past few weeks his 2016 presidential campaign has been rocked by allegations of sexism (New York Times, January 2, 2019). No matter that the senator has apologized repeatedly and was committed to rooting out any semblance of sexism in his recent senate race in Vermont and in any potential future bids for higher office.

      The Women’s March slated for January 19, 2019, has already seen the headwinds of reactionary change banging at its door. A noble cause, the major organization behind the march has seen allegations of anti-Semitism leveled at it. The march has splintered into smaller groups that in some cases will march under a banner highlighted by specific identities. The formula mm=ip squared could be applied to the march, where mm stands for mass movement and ip equals identity politics squared. A casual observer might conclude that these candidates and causes begin to self-destruct under their own particular weight of issues, but the nefarious hand of other forces cannot be discounted. Dirty tricks is the name of the game with powerful forces on the right. COINTELPRO, the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence program of the 1960s and 1970s, comes to mind. However, sometimes dirty tricks cannot explain intolerance.

    • Green Party: Corbyn’s support would make People’s Vote unstoppable

      Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party, will today call on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour front bench to throw their weight behind the campaign for a People’s Vote on Brexit.

      Womack will make the call during a speech at a rally for a People’s Vote in Parliament Square today at about 4pm [1].

      She is expected to call on Labour to “listen to its members” after a poll found 72% back a People’s Vote [2].

    • Democrats Are Afraid Of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Too. And That’s A Good Thing.

      In the last few days, both Politico and the New York Times have reported that freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has ruffled the feathers of fellow congressional Democrats. Chief among the reasons for the tension? Ocasio-Cortez’s apparent support for progressive primary challenges against centrist Democrats.

      It’s one of the most significant ideas the young New York congresswoman has brought with her to Washington.

      That’s because turning the Democratic Party into a truly progressive force will require turning “primary” into a verb. The corporate Democrats who dominate the party’s power structure in Congress should fear losing their seats because they’re out of step with constituents. And Democratic voters should understand that if they want to change the party, the only path to do so is to change the people who represent them. Otherwise, the leverage of Wall Street and the military-industrial complex will continue to hold sway.

      These days, with fingers to the wind, incumbents often give lip service to proposals that have wide public support nationwide, such as Medicare for All (70 percent) and higher taxes on the wealthy (76 percent). But big gaps remain between what most congressional Democrats are willing to fight for and what their constituents actually want.

    • Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd

      Montana’s Legislature convened its regular 90-day session last week. And while the thousands of bills introduced run the gamut from great ideas to really bad ones, Montana Senate President, Bozeman Republican Scott Sales, went over the edge into pure theater of the absurd when he suggested sending $8 million of Montanans’ state tax dollars to build Donald Trump’s equally absurd $5.7 billion border wall for a non-existent “emergency.”

      The Montana Legislature has some very well-defined constitutional duties, primarily to write the state laws under which all Montanans live, pass bills establishing taxation to raise revenue for government operations and to appropriate money for the implementation of those operations.

      The Montana Constitution provides no authority or mandate to send Montana taxpayers’ dollars to the president for the expenses of federal government. In fact, Article 5, Section 11, (4) specifically states that: “A general appropriation bill shall contain only appropriations for the ordinary expenses of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, for interest on the public debt, and for public schools.” That is followed by (5), which states: “No appropriation shall be made for religious, charitable, industrial, educational or benevolent purposes to any private individual, private association, or private corporation not under control of the state.”

      In the meantime, as Trump’s shutdown achieves the dubious record as the longest in federal government history, the impacts on Montana’s furloughed federal workers and government agencies are escalating. The Washington Post, in an article on the shutdown’s effects on individual states, listed Montana as one of the top-ranked states for furloughed federal employees. These are our neighbors, Montana citizens, who are in the middle of winter without receiving their paychecks — nor are federal government contractors who run Montana businesses and pay Montana taxes.

    • Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative

      Is there such a plane of blissful, balanced information, deliberated and debated upon? No. Governments mangle; corporations distort. Interest groups tinker. Wars must be sold; deception must be perpetrated. Inconsistencies must be removed. There will be success, measured in small doses; failure, dispatched in grand servings. The nature of news, hollow as it is, is to fill the next segment for the next release, a promiscuous delivery, an amoral ejaculate. The notion a complicated world can somehow be compressed into a press release, a brief, an observation, is sinister and defeating.

      The believers in an objective, balanced news platform are there. Grants are forked out for such romantic notions as news with integrity, directed to increase “trust in news”, which is tantamount to putting your trust in an institution which has been placed on the mortician’s table. The Trump era has seen a spike in such funding, but it belies a fundamental misconception about what news is.

      Funny, then, that the environment should now be so neatly split: the Russians (always) seen to distort from a central programme, while no one else does. The Kremlin manipulates feeble minds; virtuous powers do not. The most powerful nation on the planet claims to be free of this, the same country that boasts cable news networks and demagoguery on the airwaves that have a distinct allergy against anything resembling balanced reporting, many backed by vast funding mechanisms for political projects overseas. Britain, faded yet still nostalgically imperial, remains pure with the BBC, known as the Beeb, a sort of immaculate conception of news that purportedly survives manipulation. Other deliverers of news through state channels also worship the idol of balance – Australia’s ABC, for one, asserts that role.

      We are the left with a distinct, and ongoing polarisation, where Russia, a country relatively less influential than other powers in terms of heft and demography, has become a perceived monster wielding the influence of a behemoth on the course of history. Shades and shadows assume the proportions of flesh and meat. The fact that the largest country on the planet has interests, paranoias and insecurities other countries share is not deemed relevant but a danger. Russia must be deemed the exception, the grand perversion, a modern beast in need of containment.

    • Beware the Emergency State

      It’s all happening according to schedule.

      The civil unrest, the national emergencies, “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters,” the government’s reliance on the armed forces to solve domestic political and social problems, the implicit declaration of martial law packaged as a well-meaning and overriding concern for the nation’s security…

      The government has been planning and preparing for such a crisis for years now.

      No matter that this crisis is of the government’s own making.

      To those for whom power and profit are everything, the end always justifies the means.

      This latest brouhaha over President Trump’s threat to declare a national emergency in order to build a border wall is more manufactured political theater, a Trojan Horse intended to camouflage the real threat to our freedoms: yet another expansion of presidential power exposing us to constitutional peril.

    • The Trump Dictatorship

      The only redeeming aspect to Trump’s presidency is he brings us back to basics. And what could be more basic than the difference between democracy and dictatorship?

      Democracy is about means, not ends. If we all agreed on the ends (such as whether to build a wall along the Mexican border) there’d be no need for democracy.

      But of course we don’t agree, which is why the means by which we resolve our differences are so important. Those means include a Constitution, a system of government based on the rule of law, and an independent judiciary.

      A dictatorship, by contrast, is only about ends. Those ends are the goals of the dictator – preserving and accumulating personal power. To achieve those ends, a dictator will use any means necessary.

      Which brings us back to Trump.

    • The Republican Party Is a Pack of Cowards

      Let me see if I have this straight: Over the course of this past weekend, the president of the United States of America was exposed as being the target of a 2017 counter-intelligence investigation by the FBI. The FBI initiated its unprecedented investigation after Donald Trump fired then-Director James Comey but before Robert Mueller was tapped to begin his own investigation, because the agency feared the president might be working for the Russian government.

      Hours later, The Washington Post revealed that Trump has made a practice of confiscating notes taken by the translators during meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and furthermore sworn those translators to absolute secrecy: Not even officials within Trump’s own investigation were allowed to see what he and Putin had discussed.

      “As a result,” reported The Post, “US officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what US intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference.”

      Yeah, no, that’s not at all creepy. It all sounds exactly as innocent as Jared Kushner attempting to open back-channel communications with Russian officials during the 2017 transition, with Kushner suggesting they use Russian diplomatic facilities and equipment in order to try and thwart National Security Agency monitoring. Exactly as not creepy as that.

      Another week, another barrage of horrors from the White House, and still the Republicans in Congress and the party apparatus refuse to say or do anything that could so much as so much as ruffle the coif of Russia’s favorite TV star. Even the faintest meeps of displeasure are muffled now that senators like Bob Corker and Jeff Flake have gone home to lick their wounds.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Culture Ministry rejects Russian pop star’s proposal to increase music censorship

      The actor and singer-songwriter Dima Bilan has offered to create a new government agency that would determine the quality of musical works before they are released, the BBC Russian Service reported. Bilan, who placed second in the Eurovision song contest in 2006 and won in 2008, argued for his proposal during a festival in Abu Dhabi.

      “What’s happening right now in Western music is chaos. If we can somehow stick to our national traditions anyway so that we don’t fall into a pile of absolute trash and lawlessness, it might be worth putting together some kind of framework […] I’m open-minded, but what’s happening right now is overkill,” the musician said.

    • The lawmaker behind some of Russia’s latest draconian legislation offers his own questionable ideas about defamation and corruption

      The legislation banning online content that disrespects the authorities is my initiative, but it so happens that the Kremlin also supports it. It’s illegal to insult state officials in the street, so why should it be allowed on the Internet? The same restrictions exist in Germany and Belgium. (Germany does indeed ban “criminal defamation” of public officials, the head of state, and the state itself, including symbols of the state, imposing penalties as high as five years in prison. There is no special punishment for this activity when it’s online, however. Belgian law only imposes penalties on defamation of state officials when the offense is carried out in the victim’s presence — including over the telephone. Russia, moreover, already criminalizes insulting state officials in public, with a maximum punishment of one year of community service.)

      The word “gosdura” (state-idiot) can only be used in a joke. Where there is humor, far more is permissible. “Reporting corruption does not qualify as disrespecting the authorities — that’s 100 percent the case.” Navalny is wrong: I’m not corrupt, and I’ve declared all my assets. And even if I left something out, “that isn’t corruption.” (Senator Klishas argues that state officials who fail to declare all their property aren’t guilty of corruption. “Corruption means breaking the law. It means receiving certain material benefits in exchange for actions that serve others’ interests,” he explained. Admittedly, this is exactly how anti-corruption legislation in Russia defines the concept. The same law, however, says that auditing income declarations and penalizing officials for inaccuracies is one of the government’s main measures to prevent corruption.) Navalny simply miscalculated the size of my estate in Switzerland.

    • How a NeoCon-Backed “Fact Checker” Plans to Wage War on Independent Media

      Soon after the social media “purge” of independent media sites and pages this past October, a top neoconservative insider — Jamie Fly — was caught stating that the mass deletion of anti-establishment and anti-war pages on Facebook and Twitter was “just the beginning” of a concerted effort by the U.S. government and powerful corporations to silence online dissent within the United States and beyond.

      While a few, relatively uneventful months in the online news sphere have come and gone since Fly made this ominous warning, it appears that the neoconservatives and other standard bearers of the military-industrial complex and the U.S. oligarchy are now poised to let loose their latest digital offensive against independent media outlets that seek to expose wrongdoing in both the private and public sectors.

      As MintPress News Editor-in-Chief Mnar Muhawesh recently wrote, MintPress was informed that it was under review by an organization called Newsguard Technologies, which described itself to MintPress as simply a “news rating agency” and asked Muhawesh to comment on a series of allegations, several of which were blatantly untrue. However, further examination of this organization reveals that it is funded by and deeply connected to the U.S. government, neo-conservatives, and powerful monied interests, all of whom have been working overtime since the 2016 election to silence dissent to American forever-wars and corporate-led oligarchy.

    • Federal Court Says Iowa’s Ag Gag Law Is Unconstitutional

      As farms have found themselves scrutinized for their practices, there’s been a legislative desire to cover questionable actions under the protective garb of opacity. Ag lobbyists have successfully pushed for laws criminalizing the exposure of facts. As a bonus, they’ve also secured legislation labeling animal rights activists and others concerned about farm animal well-being as “terrorists.”

      The victories have been short-lived. Anyone not completely consumed by self-interest would recognize the laws violate the First Amendment by preventing fact-gathering or dissemination of observations by those who’ve bluffed their way onto farms precisely to uncover abusive practices. Courts are overturning these laws, but that’s not stopping anyone from writing new ones just as unconstitutionally sound. Fortunately, a recent federal court decision [PDF] adds to the ammo opponents of these laws can use to bring them down.

    • The Internet is Facing a Catastrophe For Free Expression and Competition: Sweden, Germany, Poland and Luxembourg Could Tip The Balance

      Taken together, these two rules will subject huge swaths of online expression to interception and arbitrary censorship, and give the largest news companies in Europe the power to decide who can discuss and criticise their reporting, and undermining public-interest, open-access journalism.

      The Directive is now in the hands of the European member-states. National ministers are going to decide whether or not Europe becomes a global exporter of censorship and surveillance. Your voice counts: when you contact your ministers, you are speaking as one citizen to another, in a national context, about issues of import to you and your neighbours. Your national government depends on your goodwill to win the votes to continue its mandate. This is a rare moment in European lawmaking when local connections from citizens matter more than well-funded, international corporations.

    • A Nazi Romance Movie Versus Memes: When Copyright Shuts Down Criticism

      In theory, here is how copyright and speech are supposed to interact: copyright grants certain exclusive rights—including the right to make and sell copies of a work—for a limited period of time. The idea is that this will incentivize creativity and innovation by providing people a way to make money selling their creations.

      However, exclusive ability to make use of words, images, etc. naturally runs against free speech rights. So, in order to mediate this conflict, we have the right to make use of copyrighted material without permission and payment under certain circumstances. That’s fair use, and it’s really important.

      One important form of fair use is criticism. The most effective, clear way to criticize something is to share part of it and then break down what is wrong with it. If the goal is to save people from spending money on something that is bad, then people have the right to not only say something is not good, but show why.

      And using copyright to try to stop people from critiquing your work is obviously in bad faith. It is also a very obvious way to censor speech.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • U.S. Judge Rules Fingerprint, Face Unlock Are Protected Just Like Passwords

      The Fifth Amendment of the US constitution forbids police from forcing you to disclose your phone’s PIN or password, but courts have ruled that protection doesn’t apply to a fingerprint or face unlock. Now, that might be changing.

      Here’s how it went down: a warrant was filed in Oakland requesting a raid and seizure of personal property, which included access to all mobile devices—even ones that are locked with biometric data. But a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dropped the hammer, ruling the request was too much, claiming it was “neither limited to a particular person nor device.” In other words, the police wanted a blanket option to force unlocking of all devices on the property, and the judge simply that it was too much.

    • GoDaddy is sneakily injecting JavaScript into your website and how to stop it

      I recently started having issues with the admin interface of a website I run and decided to check the browser console to see if any errors were being displayed there. There were and among them was an error stating that a JavaScript map file being loaded (and failing) that I did not recognise. This meant that the actual JavaScript file itself was already loaded via my website. This set off all sorts of alarms for me and I started to dig in further.

    • Project Alias hacks Amazon Echo and Google Home to protect your privacy

      Fungi of the rain forest can be nasty parasites. Eager to reproduce, they’ll infect a far larger, more powerful insect, taking control of its brain, and using its strength against it–animating the zombie insect to climb to the far reaches of the rain forest canopy. The insect dies, of course, but the spores are released in the perfect spot, giving the fungus its best chance of living on.

      Project Alias is the technological equivalent to parasitic fungus. But instead of latching onto an insect, it latches onto a Google Home or Amazon Alexa device–taking control of their strengths for its own purposes. Project Alias serves as a gatekeeper between you and big corporations. It effectively deafens the home assistant when you don’t want it listening, and brings it to life when you do.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • A new report reveals the hidden mechanisms authorities use to restrict protests in Russia

      Article 31 of the Russian Constitution states that citizens of the Russian Federation “shall have the right to assemble peacefully.” However, when protests are not approved by local authorities, those who join them can face arrest, professional consequences, and even criminal charges. The anti-corruption protests that swept Russia on March 26 and June 12, 2017, as well as the Voters’ Boycott marches of January 28, 2018, largely fell into this category of “unsanctioned” demonstrations, and hundreds of people were detained by police during each event. According to the media project OVD-Info, which reports on and combats political persecution in Russia, the process by which local governments approve or reject public gatherings remained until very recently an almost total secret—one that allowed authorities to maintain control over “how a public event proceeds, how the media covers different gatherings, and sometimes even the fates of those who participate in protests.” Natalya Smirnova and Denis Shedov of OVD-Info recently released a 75-page investigative report in Russian detailing the inconsistent norms and frequent pitfalls that await protest organizers at every stage of that process. We at Meduza read the report so you don’t have to.

    • Here is the Progressive Agenda

      Clintonite corporatists still control the Democratic National Committee despite their long string of failure at the polls. But the overwhelming majority of Democratic Party voters—72%—are self-identified progressives.

      44% of House primary candidates in 2018 self-IDed as progressive. If you’re after the Democratic nomination for president you have to be—or pretend to be—progressive. Even Hillary Clinton claimed to be “a progressive who gets things done.”

      All the top likely contenders for 2020 claim to be progressive—but they would prefer that voters ignore their voting records and unsavory donors. “Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris have spent the past two years racing to the leftmost edge of respectable opinion,” reports New York magazine. “In recent weeks, they have also all reached out to Wall Street executives, in hopes of securing some funding for their prospective presidential campaign.” It does no good for your heart to be in the right place if your ass is owned by bankers.

      “You don’t just get to say that you’re progressive,” Representative Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told progressive donors recently.

      Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, called the 2020 election a chance to “leverage our power.” She says it’s critical “that we have some very clear guidelines about what it means to be progressive.”

      Here are those guidelines.

      You can’t be a progressive unless you favor a big hike in the minimum wage. Elizabeth Warren, the first pretty-much-declared candidate for 2020, wants $15 an hour. But she told a 2013 Senate hearing that it would be $22 if it had kept up with increases in worker productivity. The official inflation rate makes that $24 today. And according to the real inflation rate (the official number as it was calculated before the Labor Department downgraded the calculation in 1980 and 1990) at, $22 in 2013 comes to at least $35 today.

    • Bricks in the Wall

      The point was less to actually build “the wall” than to constantly announce the building of the wall. “We started building our wall. I’m so proud of it,” Donald Trump tweeted. “What a thing of beauty.”

      In fact, no wall, or certainly not the “big, fat, beautiful” one promised by Trump, is being built. True, miles of some kind of barrier — barbed wire, chain-link and steel-slat fencing, corrugated panels, and, yes, even lengths of what can only be described as concrete wall — have gone up along the U.S.-Mexico border, starting at least as far back as the administration of President William Taft, early in the last century. Trump has claimed repairs and expansions of these barriers as proof that he is fulfilling his signature campaign promise. Plaques have already been bolted onto upgrades in existing fencing, crediting him with work started and funded by previous administrations.

      And yet Trump’s phantasmagorical wall, whether it ever materializes or not, has become a central artifact in American politics. Think of his promise of a more than 1,000-mile-long, 30-foot-high ribbon of concrete and steel running along the southern border of the United States as America’s new myth. It is a monument to the final closing of the frontier, a symbol of a nation that used to believe it had escaped history, but now finds itself trapped by history, and of a people who used to believe they were captains of the future, but now are prisoners of the past.

    • Matthew Whitaker Is Shaping Immigration Law Per Trump’s Agenda

      On December 3, 2018, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker took the statistically rare step of “self-referral”: He assumed authority over a question of immigration law on which the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) had ruled, in its own normal course and purview, in 2017.

      The BIA, the appellate panel that reviews decisions of the immigration courts, had, in the case Matter of L-E-A, dealt with the question that Whitaker is now positing for himself, issuing his referral less than a month after his November 7 appointment by President Trump as acting attorney general. In his own words, the inquiry is: “Whether, and under what circumstances, an alien may establish persecution on account of membership in a ‘particular social group’ … based on the alien’s membership in a family unit.”

      According to The New York Times, pending before US Citizenship and Immigration Services is an asylum application for Victorina Morales and her family. Morales is an undocumented housekeeper who worked illegally at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, for more than five years. Her application is based on her membership in a family unit — coincidentally or not, strikingly similar to the question Whitaker has now certified to himself. The White House declined to comment on The New York Times’s article about Morales, printed December 7, 2018.

      It was expected that a decision would be rendered after January 18, 2019: the deadline that Whitaker had set for briefs. Whitaker postponed the deadline amid the ongoing government shutdown, and plans to revise the briefing schedule at an undetermined time, once the government reopens.

    • 5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall

      On Jan. 1, 5.5 million women in the Indian state of Kerala (population 35 million) built a 386-mile wall with their bodies. They stood from one end to the other of this long state in southwestern India. The women gathered at 4 p.m. and took a vow to defend the renaissance traditions of their state and to work towards women’s empowerment. It is not an exaggeration to say that this was one of the largest mobilizations of women in the world for women’s rights. It is certainly larger than the historical Women’s March in Washington, D.C. in 2017.

      Kerala’s government is run by the Communists. It is not easy for a left-wing government to operate in a state within the Indian union. The Central Government in New Delhi has little desire to assist Kerala, which suffered a cataclysmic flood last year. No assistance with the budgetary burdens of relief and reconstruction, and no help with financing for infrastructure and welfare services. The Communist government has a wide-ranging agenda that runs from its Green Kerala Mission — a project for stewardship of the state’s beautiful environment — to its fight for women’s emancipation. The Left Democratic Front government believes that dignity is a crucial a goal as economic rights, and that it is centrally important to fight against everyday humiliation to build a truly just society.

      Over the course of the left’s government in Kerala, it has pushed ahead the agenda against everyday humiliation. For instance, in 2017, the government provided free sanitary pads for young women in school. The logic was that during their periods, young women who could not afford sanitary pads avoided school. Prejudices against menstruation had become a barrier to equal education. The government called this project “She Pad,” which benefited students and teachers. Pinarayi Vijayan, the Chief Minister of Kerala, said of the effort, “Menstrual hygiene is every girl’s right. The government is hoping that initiatives like these will help our girls to lead a life of confidence.”

    • The Groveland Four: Florida Pardons Men Falsely Accused in Jim Crow-Era Rape Case in 1949

      Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has granted posthumous pardons to four young African-American men accused of raping a white woman near Groveland, Florida, in 1949. Two men were brutally murdered as a result of the false accusations. The case is now seen as a racially charged miscarriage of justice emblematic of the Jim Crow South. The story of the “Groveland Four,” now 70 years old, has continued to haunt the state of Florida. We speak with Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America,” and Carol Greenlee, daughter of Charles Greenlee, one of the Groveland Four.

    • Russian media conglomerate co-founder takes leave of absence following rape and assault allegations

      On January 3, Yekaterina Fedorova, a journalist for the Radio Europe/Radio Free Liberty project Sibir.Realii, alleged in a Facebook post that Aleksey Migunov physically and sexually assaulted her in her home on October 13, 2018. Migunov is a co-founder of PrimaMedia, a conglomerate of news agencies covering several eastern and southern Russian regions. He is currently on voluntary leave.

      According to Fedorova, she and Migunov met in 2015, worked together for a period of time, and maintained contact afterward. On October 13, she wrote, they arranged to meet in a café, but Migunov arrived drunk and ordered additional alcoholic beverages for both of them despite Fedorova’s opposition. She alleged that Migunov then insisted on walking her to her apartment, began hitting and biting her, and forced himself on her. Fedorova wrote that she photographed her face but did not turn to the police, saying she feared additional humiliation and suspected that Migunov “could cover up anything.” She described injuries on her skin and ears and concluded, “I am not OK.”

      On January 6, Migunov responded to the allegations. He negated Fedorova’s version of events unequivocally, writing that “there was no violence and no rape whatsoever.” Migunov wrote that offering details regarding his account of that evening would be contrary to his upbringing but accused Fedorova of “manipulations of facts” and “numerous lies” stemming from personal conflicts of interest. He also reported receiving messages from men who had “paid their way out” after similar encounters with Fedorova, who mentioned one past instance of harassment in her own post.

    • The Kremlin’s TV pundits are hip rappers, too, ‘bro’

      Do you enjoy cringing? If so, you’re invited to watch a new “rap” performance by the state television pundit Dmitry Kiselyov, who made a guest appearance on one of his network’s comedy shows this Thursday to promote his upcoming rap festival in Crimea.

      In early December 2018, Kiselyov spent nearly 15 minutes of his prime-time news show defending rappers from a nationwide police crackdown, going so far as to recite some poetry by Vladimir Mayakovsky, whom he credits with inspiring Russia’s rap tradition (contrary to popular belief that the genre was imported “from Black America”). Dressed as “MC Kiselyov,” he rapped about “scolding America,” “sticking a gas pipeline on [Western] sanctions,” and mocked Theresa May and Angela Merkel for frowning more, thanks to Russia’s self-assertive foreign policy.

    • As Senate Hearings Begin, Calls to Block ‘Trump Enabler’ William Barr From Becoming Next AG

      “William Barr is Brett Kavanaugh all over again: A bigoted nominee hand-picked to give Donald Trump a pass when it comes to the Russia investigation,” declared Heidi Hess, co-director of Credo Action, which is circulating a “Reject William Barr” petition that has so far garnered over 100,000 signatures. “Democrats should demand that Barr affirm publicly under oath that he will defend and publicly release the Mueller report and, more importantly, that the president is not above the law.”

      Formerly the Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush, Barr was nominated in December to succeed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump fired just hours after the November midterm elections.

      And while Sessions was fiercely opposed by civil rights groups as he carried out Trump’s racist agenda during his tenure as head of the Justice Department, Vanita Gupta—president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights—argued that Barr’s record and extremist views raise the alarming prospect that, if confirmed, he could be “Jeff Sessions 2.0.”

    • William Barr Has a Long History of Abusing Civil Rights and Liberties in the Name of ‘National Security’

      Barr’s ideas of secret trials, profiling, and discrimination must face congressional scrutiny during his confirmation hearings.
      On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin hearings on William Barr’s nomination to be the next attorney general of the United States, offering senators an opportunity to scrutinize his record and views.

      Such scrutiny is especially crucial in the Trump era. As we’ve seen throughout his time in office, from imposing the Muslim ban to the recent shutdown fight over border wall funding, President Trump has tried to use “national security” as a pretext to justify discriminatory or otherwise illegal policies.

      That’s why his nomination of William Barr should concern everyone — because Barr has a long record of doing the same thing during the George H.W. Bush administration. If confirmed to be Trump’s attorney general, Barr could enable the president to act on many of his worst instincts.

    • This Is How American Democracy Ends

      For the time being, President Trump has toned down his threat to declare a national emergency to pay for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Addressing a White House roundtable Friday afternoon, Trump continued to insist that he has the “absolute right” to issue an emergency decree. But, he added, “I’m not going to do it so fast.”

      While Trump’s announcement is welcome news to anyone concerned with human rights and rational immigration policy, it’s important to remember that our 45th commander in chief can’t be trusted. As long as the president’s lips move, there’s a good chance he’s lying.

      Even if he wasn’t prevaricating on Friday, he could change his mind in a moment, egged on by the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh over the airwaves, and encouraged by GOP senatorial apparatchiks such as South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, who has become one of the president’s loudest enablers.

      The problem, however, isn’t just that we have a mendacious crypto-fascist in the White House who looks to other crypto-fascists for counsel and succor. The problem is that the National Emergencies Act (NEA), passed in 1976 and which Trump would invoke to get his way, makes it easy for any president to declare emergencies. Trump’s threat to deploy extraordinary powers to counter a fake crisis on our southern boundary should spark a clarion call to reexamine, repeal and replace the NEA.

    • Sixth Circuit Appeals Court Latest To Say It’s Cool If The FBI Broke The Law During Its Playpen Investigation

      The seventh Appeals Court to weigh in [PDF] on the FBI’s Network Investigative Technique deployed in the Playpen child porn investigation has weighed in. Unfortunately, it makes the Sixth Circuit the seventh appeals court to find the FBI’s warrant problematic, but willing to apply the “good faith” band-aid.

      The problem with the application of the “good faith exception” is it assumes good faith on behalf of the FBI. There’s no reason to believe the FBI acted in good faith, though. While it was in the process of obtaining a single warrant allowing it to search computers all over the world, it was well aware Rule 41 limited searches to the jurisdiction where the warrant was obtained. It knew this because the DOJ was in the process of asking the Supreme Court and Congress to change Rule 41 to remove the jurisdiction limits while it was pursuing this investigation.

      The Appeals Court grants good faith anyway, despite this background. It does do us (and the appellant) the favor of discussing good faith in light of the DOJ’s simultaneous attempt to codify searches it was already performing, but just because the discussion is expanded a bit doesn’t mean it makes much sense. Here’s the opening of the Sixth Circuit’s federal forgiveness pitch…

    • McDonald’s Is Serving Up Sexual Harassment

      We’re helping to launch litigation against McDonald’s, which female workers across the U.S. say has ignored harassment in its restaurants.
      McDonald’s isn’t just a fast-food restaurant. It’s an American institution, with sales of $37.6 billion in 2017. And we don’t just flock there as customers. The company employs more than 1 million people at its U.S. corporate offices and more than 14,000 franchise stores. Indeed, according to one estimate, nearly 13 percent of all Americans have worked for the company at some point in its history.

      But in the past few years, female McDonald’s employees have begun speaking out about the ugly cost of serving up Big Macs: egregious sexual harassment. Most recently, in May 2018, 10 women working in McDonald’s restaurants stretching from California to Florida filed charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — the first step toward a federal civil rights lawsuit — alleging a wide range of unchecked harassment, perpetrated by supervisors and co-workers. And on Sept. 18, 2018, thousands of McDonald’s workers in 10 cities protested the company’s culture of harassment by walking off the job. As one striking worker from Chicago put it at the time, “You will hear us today. We will not stay silent anymore.”

      On Monday, the ACLU joined forces with the Fight for $15 movement and the law firms of Altshuler Berzon LLP and Outten & Golden LLP to lay the groundwork for the next wave of EEOC harassment charges against the company. As one of the country’s largest employers and the most profitable fast-food chain, McDonald’s must be held accountable.

      The misconduct documented in the pending EEOC charges runs the gamut from sexually explicit comments to improper touching. In Chicago, for instance, a manager asked a female employee, “How many dicks can you fit in your hole?” Women have reported unwanted hugging, back rubs, spanking, and intentional “brushing up” against them. Some said they were trapped in supply closets and pestered for dates. One woman alleged that a male manager she worked with threatened to expose his genitals to her.

    • ‘Not Qualified’: Critics Decry Bigoted Views of Trump’s Pick to Replace Kavanaugh on DC Circuit Court

      President Donald Trump is hoping to fill Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s former seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit with a former law professor whose early writings on the government and justice betrayed misogynist and bigoted views—leaving critics concerned on Monday that the president is remaking the country’s second-highest court in his own image.

      As Buzzfeed reported, Neomi Rao is currently an administrator in Trump’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs who has never served as a judge. Before her career in government and as a law professor, Rao attended Yale University, graduating in 1995. During her time at Yale and just after graduating Rao wrote a number of troubling essays and articles about rape survivors, the poor, and race relations.

    • Majority of Americans Blame Trump for Shutdown, Polls Find

      Last month, President Trump said he would be “proud” to shut down the government if Democrats didn’t vote for a federal budget that included money for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. “I will be the one to shut it down,” he said in a Dec. 11 meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Ten days later, he abandoned that promise. In a video Tweet, Trump said, “Call it a Democrat shutdown. Call it whatever you want.” Now, 24 days into the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, a new poll suggests that despite his attempts at deflection, most Americans blame the president.

      Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed say they believe Trump is at least partially responsible, according to the latest HuffPost/YouGov tracking poll—an increase from the 49 to 51 percent who said the same thing in the early weeks of the shutdown. And the longer the shutdown continues, the more those polled see it as a danger. The portion of respondents who believe the shutdown is “very serious” jumped to 50 percent last week, up from 29 percent in the version of the survey taken right before Christmas.

    • China Sentences Canadian to Death, Raises Diplomatic Tension

      A Chinese court sentenced a Canadian man to death Monday in a sudden retrial in a drug smuggling case that is likely to escalate tensions between the countries over the arrest of a top Chinese technology executive.

      The court in northeastern Liaoning province announced that it had given Robert Lloyd Schellenberg the death penalty after rejecting his plea of innocence and convicting him of being an accessory to drug smuggling. It gave no indication that the penalty could be commuted, but Schellenberg’s fate could become intertwined in diplomatic negotiations over China’s demand for the top executive’s release.

      Schellenberg was detained more than four years ago and initially sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2016. But suddenly last month, an appeals court agreed with prosecutors who said the sentence was too lenient, and scheduled Monday’s retrial with just four days’ notice.

    • TSA Strike? As Trump and GOP Refuse to End Shutdown, Call Grows for Federal Workers to Rise Up

      As the current partial government shutdown has become the longest in U.S. history—even with the latest polls showing President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans increasingly seen as the ones to blame for the crisis—it remains to be seen how the Democrats, with no reason to give ground, can apply enough pressure to bring the current impasse to an end.

      But according to journalist and activist Barbara Ehrenreich and veteran labor organizer Gary Stevenson, it’s possible that the best bet—and in their minds, a key opportunity—is for the hundreds of thousands of federal employees now furloughed or forced to work without pay to take matters into their own hands.

      While acknowledging how “painful” the shutdown has been for federal workers and their families locked out of work for more than three weeks, Ehrenreich and Stevenson argue in a New York Times op-ed published Monday that the current political deadlock between the two major political parties is “also an opportunity for labor to take a stand.”

    • Number of No-Shows Jumps Among Airport Security Screeners

      The number of airport security screeners failing to show up for work around the country is soaring as the partial government shutdown goes into its fourth week.

      No-shows among screeners jumped Sunday and again Monday, when the Transportation Security Administration reported a national absence rate of 7.6 percent compared with 3.2 percent on a comparable day a year ago. Monday marked the first business day after screeners did not receive a paycheck for the first time since the shutdown began.

      At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest, some passengers waited more than an hour to get through checkpoints. The airport reported the long lines on its website Monday morning, showing the hour-plus waits at all three checkpoints in the domestic terminal.

    • Amos Oz and the Real Israel

      It is important to understand that his support for two states made Oz a “moderate” among Zionists and consigned him to the political margins of Israeli politics. Mainstream Israeli politics could not abide his assertion that a real peace required that the Palestinians have their own separate “Arab state” in the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Zionist Israel. Likewise, the support for a two-state solution automatically set him against the maximalist formula—a Zionist state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River—propounded by a hardline conservative element of the Zionist movement. The position of this element has become the political standard for an increasing number of Israeli Jewish citizens.

      Oz’s opposition to the maximalist Zionist position made him ipso facto a serious opponent of the Israeli occupation. The occupation, insatiably expansive as it has proven to be, was the death knell of the two-state dream, and Oz despised the Israeli politicians who refused to make the necessary compromises for such a peace. He thought of them as “cowards” and they thought of him as a “traitor.”

      Oz “felt himself a man possessed of moral clarity but denigrated for it in a country that could not make the difficult decisions he felt necessary.” Nonetheless, he remained a patriot. He confessed, “I love Israel even when I can not stand it.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Frontier Hammered By Minnesota AG For Its Refusal To Repair Its Broadband Network

      For years we’ve explored how the nation’s phone companies don’t really even want to be in the broadband business. They routinely refuse to upgrade their networks, yet often lobby to ensure nobody else can deliver broadband in these neglected footprints either. Telcos in particular have a bizarre disdain for their paying customers, delivering the bare minimum (slow DSL) at the highest rates they can possibly charge without a full-scale consumer revolt. It’s not surprising then that many telco DSL customers are fleeing to cable, assuming they even have a second option for broadband.

      This dynamic often results in some absurd dysfunction. Like in West Virginia, where incumbent telco Frontier has repeatedly been busted in a series of scandals involving substandard service and the misuse of taxpayer money. The graft and corruption in the state is so severe, state leaders have buried reports, and, until recently, a Frontier executive did double duty as a state representative without anybody in the state thinking that was a conflict of interest.

    • AT&T Execs Think It’s Really Funny They Misled Consumers About 5G Availability

      So earlier this month, we noted how AT&T had pissed off competitors and consumers alike by pretending its existing fourth generation wireless network (4G) was actually 5G. More specifically, AT&T has been changing the “4G” icon on its customers phones to say “5G E,” despite the fact that actual 5G service at scale is still probably several years away. Technically, AT&T simply took some of the improvements it recently added to its 4G networks (like better MIMO antennas and more efficient 256 QAM technologies), and decided to call this “5G Evolution” in a bid to pretend it was the first to launch actual 5G.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • How is the USPTO Operating During the Federal Government Shutdown?

      Absent a more creative solution, the current Federal Government shutdown will continue until a new appropriations law is passed by Congress and signed by the President (or veto-overridden). The Patent Office (USPTO) is caught-up in this, but in a little bit of a quirky way.

      The USPTO is a fee funded agency. Generally, patent applicants pay the USPTO, and the USPTO uses that money to pay the examiners. However, Congress has not provided USPTO with authority to simply spend whatever it collects. Rather Congress declares annual appropriation amounts that may be spent – if collected. If the USPTO brings-in more funds than appropriated then it can put those funds in a “Patent and Trademark Fee Reserve Fund” held by the US Treasury.

      And, under the Patent Act, the USPTO can only spend funds that have been appropriated to the Agency. As a consequence, the USPTO cannot spend new-money coming in the door and it cannot spend money in the aforementioned Reserve Fund (that is empty anyway).

    • After mixed Day 5 of FTC v. Qualcomm antitrust trial, irrelevant German ruling to be handed down later

      Day 5 of the FTC v. Qualcomm antitrust trial just concluded. It was the most eventful and interesting day of the first half of this bench trial. The morning and the early afternoon were a total disaster for Qualcomm, but toward the end Qualcomm had its strongest hour to date.

    • PTAB Issues Final Written Decision in Cannabis Patent IPR

      On January 3, 2019, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a Final Written Decision in Insys Development Co., Inc. v. GW Pharma Ltd. (IPR2017-00503), a landmark inter partes review (IPR) decision involving a cannabis patent. Although the PTAB found claims 1 and 2 to be unpatentable as obvious, the remaining 11 claims that were challenged survived and remain valid (and potentially enforceable).

      At issue in this IPR was U.S. Patent No. 9,066,920 (“the ’920 Patent,” entitled “Use of one or a combination of phyto-cannabinoids in the treatment of epilepsy”), which was originally assigned to GW Pharma Ltd. and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd.

    • Bruno Latour, Mario Biagioli, and the Rhetoric of “Balance” in IP Law (and Climate Change)

      Thus, we might think Latour would be sympathetic to so-called climate change deniers, who greet with skepticism the science community’s conclusions about humans’ impact on global warming. As Szalai puts it in her review, Latour “has spent a career studying how knowledge is socially constructed.” So, surely, “[the] kind of postmodernism” that lies behind the “conservative tradition” of “performing a skepticism so extreme that it makes the ancient Greek skeptics look like babes in the woods[]” would appeal to him. But it’s not so, Szalai writes. To the contrary, Latour sees “[s]uch pretensions to reality-creating grandeur” as “amount[ing] to little more than a vulgar, self-defeating cynicism.” Perhaps even Bruno Latour, in the end, was a “realist” — at least when it comes to some things.

      Revisiting Latour’s skepticism of facts, I can’t help but wonder (although I think I know) what Latour would say about patents. This brings me to a gem that I was lucky to get ahold of over break: an article by esteemed historian of science and expert on the Scientific Revolution, and now a law professor at the University of California Davis School of Law, Mario Biagioli. Adding another layer of irony, everything in this post will be colored by fact that Mairo is a long-time mentor and supervised my undergraduate thesis in the Department of History of Science at Harvard. His paper, Patent Republic, tracing the development of the patent system from the Venetian Republic to early America, inspired me to study IP.

      We might initially assume Biagioli’s article, entitled Weighing intellectual property: can we balance the costs and benefits of patenting?, is another article addressing the costs and benefits of IP, and bemoaning the deficits in the empirical evidence. Biagioli’s conclusion that “we are unable to measure the benefits that IP has for inventors or the costs it has for the public” might remind readers, for example, of Mark Lemley’s now-famous critique of what Lemley calls “faith-based IP.” Lemley argued provocatively that despite, or because of, inconclusive evidence on the utilitarian benefits of IP, such as promoting innovation and disclosure of technical information, “more and more scholars have begun to retreat from evidence … justifying IP as a moral end in itself rather than on the basis of how it affects the world.”


      I am reminded of how IP proponents and IP opponents use the Lockean proviso. Does Locke’s maxim that people develop “natural rights” in the fruits of their labor, but only so long as there is “enough, and as good, left in common for others,” provide a reason to weaken intellectual property rights, or counterintuitively help to justify them? While some might think only the former, Robert Merges would likely suggest the proviso is representative of a “midlevel principle” in favor of “proportionality” in calibrating IP rights—i.e., the requirement that “the grant or reward be proportional to effort or contribution.” Professor Merges’ Proportionality Principle can help to justify continued protection of intellectual property rights so long as the commitment to proportionality is upheld.

      To give another classic example, Biagioli points to William Nordhaus’ article on how to calculate the optimal patent term. (Biagioli, 4). In Invention, Growth and Welfare (1969), Nordhaus conceptualized patents as a “trade-off” between the goal of more innovation, and the goal of free competition and avoiding monopolies. What Nordhaus sought, literally, was the proper balance between longer patents, on the one hand, and higher prices and more deadweight loss, on the other.

    • Iran Ranks 21st in Nanotechnology Patent Registrations in 2018

      In 2018, 13,050 5 patent applications have been filed in two American and European offices, with Iran registering 42 patents and growing 68 percent year-on-year to be placed in the 21 place.

      Since 2010, has used scientific methods and an appropriate search to extract nanotechnology statistics and information from reputable sources to publish them. It is the reference of researchers and policy makers in the world.

    • Trademarks
      • Netflix sued by Choose Your Own Adventure publishers over Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

        The publisher of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series is suing Netflix over its interactive Black Mirror episode Bandersnatch. Chooseco filed its lawsuit against Netflix today in a Vermont court, accusing Netflix of willfully infringing on the “Choose Your Own Adventure” trademark and claiming that the episode is so dark it will tarnish the books’ reputation.

      • Netflix hit with a Choose Your Own Adventure lawsuit over Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

        According to the official complaint, which can be seen at the bottom of this story, Netflix has been in negotiations with Chooseco over a license for the series since 2016, but Chooseco says Netflix never actually gained permission to use it. After the release of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch late last month, Chooseco has filed a complaint against Netflix for $25 million in damages, as the company says that Netflix’s new movie benefits from association with the Choose Your Own Adventure series, without the company ever receiving the trademark.

        This isn’t the first time that Chooseco has dealt with Netflix. In the complaint, Chooseco says that it sent a cease-and-desist request to the streaming company at least once over the Choose Your Own Adventure trademark in the past.

      • Netflix sued over ‘Black Mirror’ movie by ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book publisher

        The two companies were in licensing negotiations in early 2016, but Netflix never received permission to use the trademark, according to the lawsuit.

        The publisher also objected to the association with violence in the film, according to the outlet.

    • Copyrights
      • 10 Best Kodi Live TV Addons For Streaming Live Channels | Working Addons 2019

        Kodi is one of the most popular media players mainly because of its versatility. With the help of Kodi addons, you can use the XBMC owned media player for streaming movies, music and even games. It is an open source software that is free to use, and with new Kodi repositories coming by the day, the versatility of Kodi is increasing.

        Considering the ever-increasing cost of cable TV, you can also watch live on Kodi without paying anything (here are some free TV show sites as well). Kodi is a major reason behind the soaring trend of cord cutting as the software allows you to stream tv channels from around the world.

      • Top 15 Free Movie Download Websites For 2019 [Totally Legal Streaming]

        e are here with a list of some free movie download websites where you can get some quality entertainment without paying any money. This list includes the likes of The Internet Archive, Pluto TV, Public Domain Torrents, Retrovision etc. So, let’s talk about them in detail and discuss their strengths —

      • EU Parliament Puts Out Utter Nonsense Defending Copyright Directive

        The Legislative Affairs Committee (JURI) in the EU Parliament, who are in charge of pushing through the EU Copyright Directive put out a “Q and A” page about the Copyright Directive in the lead up to the next round of trilogue negotiations between the Parliament, the EU Council and the EU Commission. As you may recall, when we left things, everything was at a standstill with no one willing to agree on anything. Some are suggesting even worse proposals than have been seen before. The record labels and movie studios are threatening to drop their support of the bill if the EU actually gives incredibly minor “safe harbors” for internet platforms. The whole thing is a mess, and the easiest thing to do would be to just drop Articles 11 and 13 and focus on cleaning up the rest of the Directive. But that’s not what’s happening.

        Negotiations have continued in the background, and where things stand now, the EU is going to fundamentally change how the internet works and not in a good way. They have basically agreed that internet companies will be liable for what users post — in direct contradiction of current EU law found in the E-Commerce Directive. This will mean filters will become effectively mandatory (in a bit of hilarious theater, the agreement says it does not require filters… but there is literally no way to comply with the law without filters). Very, very, very, very limited safe harbors are still being negotiated over, and are “at risk” of being dropped altogether. Ditto a provision that will make the rules not apply to smaller platforms. Also, still on the table is a “notice and staydown” proposal that says if something does get through, platforms can never let it through again (how this will handle situations where one copy is infringing and another is non-infringing is ignored entirely).

      • Music Groups Waste No Time Using Australia’s New Copyright Law To Shut Down Stream Ripping Sites

        Late last year, after Australia proposed amending its copyright laws, which included some subtle language changes, the country approved the amendments and we immediately warned that this would be abused, feature-creeped, and otherwise utilized by the content industries to restrict access to the internet in favor of their own bottom lines. One of the subtle language changes mentioned above consisted of going from allowing site-blocking of sites where their “primary purpose” was infringing activity to allowing blocking of sites where their “primary effect” was infringing activity. This change was an important one, because it puts the onus for whether a site can be blocked on how users use the tool, rather than how it was intended to be used. And, of course, there is simply more subjectivity in “primary effect” than there is in “primary purpose”, leading us to warn that this would be abused.

      • It’s Copyright Week 2019: Join Us in the Fight for Better Copyright Law and Policy

        Copyright affects so much about our daily lives, often in ways people don’t even realize. It obviously impacts the movies we watch, the books we read, and the music we listen to. But it also impacts everything from who can fix a tractor to what information is available to us to when we communicate online. That means that copyright law and policy should be made to serve everyone.

        Unfortunately, that’s not the way it tends to work. Instead, copyright law is often treated as the exclusive domain of major media and entertainment industries. They’ve been able to shape a law that affects us all to suit their desires, making it harder and harder to access, use, and work with content, information, and devices that we have rights to.

        That doesn’t mean we can’t change the status quo. Seven years ago this week, a diverse coalition of Internet users, non-profit groups, and Internet companies defeated the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), bills that would have forced Internet companies to blacklist and block websites accused of hosting copyright infringing content. These were bills that would have made censorship very easy, all in the name of copyright protection.

        This year sees another positive development in the world of copyright: January 1, was the first day in decades that saw new works enter the public domain in the United States. In theory, copyright is supposed to grant exclusive rights for a limited period—enough time for creators to make money off of their works, incentivizing them to create them. Once copyright expires, works enter the public domain, where anyone can make any use of them, perpetuating the cycle of culture building on itself that drives innovation and creation.

      • ISP Wants Trial to Decide if it Failed to Terminate Repeat Infringers

        The piracy liability lawsuit between a group of RIAA labels and the Texan ISP Grande Communications is heating up. The ISP is in a tough spot after Magistrate Judge Austin recommended to drop its right to a safe harbor defense. The company disagrees, and asks the court to leave the safe harbor decision for trial, pointing out that Rightscorp’s piracy notices can’t be trusted.

Council of Europe (CoE) Recognises There’s No Justice at the EPO

Tuesday 15th of January 2019 12:39:46 AM

Summary: It’s now the Council of Europe‘s turn to speak out about the grave state of international organisations that exist in Europe but aren’t subjected to European law (which they routinely violate with impunity)

THE STAFF Union of the European Patent Office (EPO), SUEPO, has finally said something for the first time since November. Not only did it produce and publish German/French translations of an article; it also wrote about this document dated a week ago.

“The EPO intentionally conflates speed with quality. Should we also judge patent (court) cases by how quickly a decision is reached?”Unfortunately, it does not directly relate to or speaks of the EPO. “Fundamental rights” is what it’s about. “Jurisdictional immunity of international organisations and the rights of their staff” is the title. SUEPO said: “As a quick reminder, this discussion was largely triggered by the situation at EPO at the time Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld representing SUEPO was heard by the Council of Europe on the question considering the worrying social developments which impacted (and still impact) the EPO.”

The document mentions the EPO or patents not even once. It does, however, show their recognition of the underlying issues. Mr Volker Ullrich, Mr Stefan Schennach and others were involved. So what will happen next? Time will tell, but it’s possible that there will be no concrete changes (judging by past experiences). They might even pretend to themselves that António Campinos magically solved all these issues.

The World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) has meanwhile written about this new complaint from IP Federation, part of Team UPC. Broader recognition that EPO is now a liability even to the UPC fanatics? To quote:

UK-based trade association, the IP Federation, has urged the European Patent Office (EPO) to commission a “comprehensive and impartial study” in view of concerns over a potential new system of patent deferral.

In December, the EPO launched a consultation on potentially introducing the system, which would allow for the examination of some European patents to be postponed. The consultation closed on Friday, January 11.

In a letter to EPO president António Campinos dated January 11, secretary of the IP Federation, David England, started by saying that a deferral would allow greater flexibility in the time it takes for a European patent application to be processed.

England’s letter said that a study should observe the effects of a postponed examination on the EPO, applicants and third parties.

Campinos couldn’t care any less about quality of patents; he actively promotes software patents in Europe — something that the EPO’s official Twitter account last did only hours ago. The EPO intentionally conflates speed with quality. Should we also judge patent (court) cases by how quickly a decision is reached?

Dominion Harbor — Armed by Microsoft’s Biggest Patent Troll — Goes After the World’s Biggest Android OEMs, Huawei and Samsung

Tuesday 15th of January 2019 12:00:16 AM

Summary: Dominion Harbor, the patent troll that gets bucketloads of patents from Intellectual Ventures (a patent troll strongly connected to Microsoft and Bill Gates), is still suing using shell entities

IT has been a while since we last mentioned the subject because we generally want to focus on GNU/Linux rather than patents. But earlier today Unified Patents brought up a familiar story: Microsoft-connected (through Intellectual Ventures) patent troll Dominion Harbor is hiding behind proxies again and it is going after the two leading Android OEMs, Huawei and Samsung. As Mr. Jain put it:

On December 31, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 8,460,197 asserted by Health Watch, LLC (a Dominion Harbor subsidiary and well-known NPE). The ‘197 patent, directed to wearable sensors and electronic devices, has been asserted against Huawei and Samsung.

Also at the exact same time he mentioned this other proxy of Dominion Harbor:

On December 31, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 5,999,947 asserted by Pure Data Systems, LLC (a Dominion Harbor subsidiary and well-known NPE).

Join says that “[t]he ‘947 patent [is] directed to distributing changes made to a database to one or more client computers,” which certainly sounds abstract and thus bunk as per 35 U.S.C. § 101. Keep an eye on these trolls; Microsoft says it has reached “truce”, but who believes Microsoft these days?

Links 14/1/2019: Linux 5.0 RC2 and DXVK 0.95 Released

Monday 14th of January 2019 11:03:01 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • First step to becoming a hacker: Linux!

    If you’re contemplating a career in cybersecurity and haven’t come up to speed on Linux, now’s the time to get ramped up and here’s one easy way to do it. This new book from no starch press was written with people like you in mind. Authored by OccupyTheWeb, the force behind Hackers-Arise, Linux Basics for Hackers provides everything from basic Linux command line skills through to scripting, manipulating logging, network scanning, using and abusing system services, and remaining stealthy in the process.

  • Desktop
    • ‘Linux for Chromebooks’ May Let Chromebook Owners Choose Which Distro to Use

      Last year Google wowed Linux geeks the world over with a feature that lets Chromebook users run desktop Linux apps on Chrome OS.

      The feature, dubbed ‘Crostini’ at the time, but now known by the catching title “Linux (beta) for Chromebooks”, continues to improve with each new dev update to Chrome OS (for instance, it will soon add graphics acceleration).

      But Google isn’t stopping there.

      The search giant now plans to extend the Linux (beta) for Chromebook feature to allow device managers to choose a Linux distro on which it runs.

      As one distro does not fit all, this is an important development for developers in particular.

      Someone working in the worlds of Red Hat want or prefer a set of tools, setups or distro-specific software configured in a certain way. Similarly, someone working with Snap apps on Ubuntu may prefer having an Ubuntu more beneficial while hacking around with Ubuntu specific technologies.

    • Global PC shipments fell for seventh straight year in 2018

      Global PC shipments stood at 259.4 million in 2018, a fall of 1.3% from the previous year, according to the technology research firm Gartner, which said two key trends had affected the industry during the year.

  • Server
    • DigitalOcean Alternatives

      Monocultures are a bad idea. Especially, in the cloud oriented era, where companies are growing more and more dependent on their cloud providers. The IT and DevOps teams have tools built specifically to leverage AWS, or Azure, or DigitalOcean or some other cloud provider. While this is great in the short run, it lowers the barrier of entry and allows users to leverage the powerful infrastructure of the Fortune 500 companies. Over the long run, however, companies can grow dependent upon specific vendors and this can lead to a monopolistic market.

    • Containers Killed The Virtual Machine Star

      We predict new enterprise application development will pass a tipping point in 2019 and shift away from legacy virtual machines (VMs) and strongly toward containers and Kubernetes container orchestration.

    • What AWS can learn from Google’s roaring Kubernetes success

      A quick look at the Kubernetes commit log suggests that interest in contributing to the open source container engine may be fading. That quick, superficial look, however, would be incorrect. Wildly so.

      What that decline in commits to the core Kubernetes engine actually shows is that Google and the growing Kubernetes community are doing nearly everything right to ensure its long-term success.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.20.2
    • Linux 4.19.15
    • Linux 4.14.93
    • Linux 4.9.150
    • Linux 4.4.170
    • Linux 3.18.132
    • Linux 5.0-rc2

      So the merge window had somewhat unusual timing with the holidays, and
      I was afraid that would affect stragglers in rc2, but honestly, that
      doesn’t seem to have happened much. rc2 looks pretty normal.

      Were there some missing commits that missed the merge window? Yes. But
      no more than usual. Things look pretty normal.

      What’s a bit abnormal is that I’m traveling again, and so for me it’s
      a Monday release, but it’s (intentionally) the usual “Sunday
      afternoon” release schedule back home. I’m trying to not surprise
      people too much.

    • Linux 5.0-RC2 Kernel Released
    • Linux Foundation
    • Graphics Stack
      • FOSDEM 19 Is Happening In Just Three Weeks, There Will Once Again Be A Graphics Room

        If you are able to make it to Brussels, Belgium in three weeks, the wonderful FOSDEM event is taking place as easily one of the best open-source/Linux events in the world and it’s free to attend.

        FOSDEM 2019 is taking place 2 to 3 February this year and once again at the ULB Solbosch Campus in Brussels. This year there are keynotes about blockchain, cloud, and other hot topics. All of the usual main tracks and developer rooms are again taking place.

      • Vulkan 1.1.98 Brings A Dozen Fixes

        Last weekend there was the Vulkan 1.1.97 specification update with five new extensions including some notable ones like memory priority and buffer device address while out today is the much more mundane Vulkan 1.1.98.

        The Vulkan 1.1.98 update doesn’t feature any new extensions but has some basic fixes and clarifications to this graphics/compute API specification and associated documentation. Of the roughly dozen changes, no real standouts but just lots of ongoing improvements.

    • Benchmarks
      • GCC vs. Clang Compiler Performance On NVIDIA Xavier’s Carmel ARMv8 Cores

        Since receiving the powerful NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier with its ARMv8 Carmel cores on this Tegra194 SoC a while back, it’s been quite a fun developer board for benchmarking and various Linux tests. One of the areas I was curious about was whether GCC or Clang would generate faster code for this high performance ARM SoC, so here are some benchmarks.

        This CPU compiler benchmarking was done with the NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier while running the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS default L4T file-system and comparing the default GCC 7.3.0 against LLVM Clang 6.0 compiler options as officially supported by Ubuntu LTS Bionic Beaver. These are also the compiler versions supported by NVIDIA with their Tegra software on this Linux 4 Tegra sample file-system. The NVIDIA Tegra Xavier (T194) SoC as a reminder has eight “Carmel” ARMv8 CPU cores that are custom designed by NVIDIA. Tests on other more common ARMv8 cores with these different compilers will be coming up in future Phoronix articles with Clang 8 and GCC 9 releasing later this quarter. Rounding out this powerful Jetson AGX Xavier is the Volta GPU with 512 CUDA cores, 16GB of LPDDR4 system memory, 32GB of eMMC storage, two NVDLA deep learning accelerators, and a 7-way vision processor, granted those aren’t the focus of today’s testing.

      • LCZero Chess Engine Performance With OpenCL vs. CUDA + cuDNN vs. FP16 With Tensor Cores

        A Phoronix reader pointed out LCZero (Leela Chess Zero) a few days ago as an interesting chess engine powered by neural networks and supports BLAS, OpenCL, and NVIDIA CUDA+cuDNN back-ends. Particularly with the FP16 cuDNN support, this chess engine can be super fast on NVIDIA’s latest Turing GPUs with tensor cores.

        With LCZero’s build process being sane for its different back-ends and the program turning out to be benchmark-friendly and meeting my requirements, it’s now available via the Phoronix Test Suite with a simple phoronix-test-suite benchmark lczero (granted, the back-end support may obviously vary depending upon your hardware/driver support) and more details over on

  • Applications
    • Nanonote 1.0.1

      The first release of Nanonote, my minimalist note-taking app, was a bit rushed: I broke indentation shortly before tagging version 1.0.0… meh.

      So here is version 1.0.1. It fixes the indentation and adds the ability to indent or unindent whole lines with Tab and Shift+Tab, in addition to the existing Ctrl+I and Ctrl+U shortcuts.

      In addition to these changes, the build system can now generate Debian and RPM packages, making the application easier to install.

    • Get started with Joplin, a note-taking app

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

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

    • Kodi v18 Leia RC5

      As mentioned in the RC4 release article, a final release was close on the horizon. To that end we hereby present you the last Release Candate (RC5) before we call it a wrap on v18.0. It will not be absolutely perfect but we have to go forward at some point. Don’t worry as we will of course continue working on fixing any issue that might surface in the regeular v18 point releases afterwards.

    • Kodi 18 Leia Nearly Released, But For Now An RC5

      Kodi 18 Leia RC5 is available this weekend as what should be the last release candidate before this major release is out of this widely-used, cross-platform HTPC software.

      Kodi 18 RC5 was issued today rather than the final release in order to serve up some last minute fixes and encourage a final round of testing. Kodi 18 RC5 has multiple crash fixes, takes care of some Android issues, various other platform-specific bug fixes, and other issues resolved.

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Wine or Emulation
      • DXVK 0.95 Released With Big Performance Win For Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

        The DXVK project for mapping Direct3D 10/11 atop Vulkan for Wine/Proton (Steam Play) users continues inching closer to its eventual 1.0 milestone.

        DXVK 0.95 is the latest release out today for Linux gamers relying upon the project for a faster Windows Direct3D game running experience. DXVK 0.95 does bring minor reduction to the CPU overhead, but the biggest benefactor to this release is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

      • DXVK 0.95 is out with various D3D10 stability fixes, CPU overhead reduction and more game fixes

        DXVK, the excellent project that Valve has been funding has a fresh brew out to continue the exciting progress made.

        For those just joining us or newer followers: DXVK is a “Vulkan-based translation layer for Direct3D 10/11 which allows running 3D applications on Linux using Wine”. It’s what helps make Valve’s Steam Play run your games that do not have Linux support.

    • Games
      • Godot 4.0 Game Engine To Work On Vulkan Port, Big Rendering Improvements

        While Godot 3.1 isn’t even out yet, our eyes are already looking forward to Godot 4.0 for 2D and 3D rendering improvements, but most notably Vulkan API support.

        Godot Engine lead developer Juan Linietsky has tweeted his rendering TODO list moving forward for this increasingly-used open-source game engine. The biggest item on the list is porting to Vulkan for Godot 4.0, which doesn’t yet have a release timeline. Other Godot 4.0 rendering changes anticipated are shader cache support and the ability to have bindless textures while not altering the engine’s current rendering design too much.

      • Hero of the Kingdom III should now work on newer Linux distributions

        Hero of the Kingdom III, a casual RPG from Lonely Troops released back in August last year but it seems it came with a few issues for those on newer distributions.

        In a post on Steam, the developer did note originally about the limited Linux support. Earlier this month, they updated it to replace the older 32bit version with a 64bit version which seems to have solved the problems. Nice to see some good support there!

      • Rogue Empire, a dungeon-crawling RPG is leaving Early Access later this month with Linux support

        Rogue Empire, a dungeon-crawling RPG from Portal Entertainment is ready to leave Early Access on January 25th.

      • SDL Picks Up An Initial OpenSL ES Implementation For Android

        Helping to make the SDL cross-platform library more attractive for mobile/Android developers, the latest SDL2 code has an initial OpenSL ES implementation.

        OpenSL ES is the Khronos Group’s effort as an industry-standard sound library for embedded hardware while offering up 3D positional audio support, optional integration with OpenMAX, audio effects, and other advanced sound capabilities.

      • SuperTuxKart, the open source Mario Kart clone, achieves beta status with network support

        While I appreciate hardware makers and game developers pushing the boundaries of what gaming can be, it is important to remember one important fact — fun trumps all. In other words, it doesn’t matter how much processing power a computer or console has, or how beautiful a game’s graphics are, if it isn’t fun to play! That’s probably a big reason why retro-gaming is so popular these days.

      • Free public Itch alpha of space shooter Gravity Ace is up for grabs

        If you would cry happy tears at the thought of a modern successor to 80s games like Thrust and Gravitar, then brace yourself for a river. Developer John Watson is making that dream a reality with his first commercial release, Gravity Ace. And you can try it for free!

        John is clearly pining for the 80s and decided to do something about it when he launched a first alpha of Gravity Ace on Itch just 3 months ago. He’s the sole dev on the project and is developing on Linux using the excellent Godot Engine 3.

      • ArmA 3 Chernarus Winter – Jolly Good Fighting

        You know it. ArmA 3 is the only FPS worth playing. For nearly two long decades, the Operation Flashpoint franchise has dominated the genre of serious war simulation, with nothing else coming close. A golden standard to realism. And fun, too.

        A big part of the joy factor comes from the community maintaining the thousands of maps, scenarios, mods, and other add-ons that make the game superb and fresh. Feeling nostalgic? Operation Flashpoint stuff at your disposal rendered in modern graphics. There you go. ArmA 2 maybe? That can be arranged. After all, Chernarus has always been a darn good map, and it had that Cold War feel that Altis and Stratis don’t really offer. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered the Winter edition!

      • Volcanoids, the steampunk survival game with massive drills has a Linux version ready for Early Access

        As promised by the developers of Volcanoids, the Linux version of their very interesting first-person steampunk survival game is live and ready for when they hit Early Access.

        It’s currently only available to a limited selection of testers, you can join their Discord Channel to find out how to get early testing access. They’re setting the minimum supported distribution to Ubuntu 18.04, with OpenGL by default while they continue to polish up Vulkan support.

        Since I have access, I’ve put a few hours into it and honestly I came away pretty impressed by it. The whole idea of it is really unique with your steampunk-style drill that you travel around in and upgrade.

        Naturally, since it’s not even in Early Access yet it has plenty of rough edges which they’re gradually smoothing-out as time goes on.

      • Arc Savior, another space combat game will be supported on Linux after release6

        Arc Savior, a new space combat game from developer Squid Monkey Studios is releasing later this month and it looks quite interesting. Turns out the developer is going to support Linux too.

      • The cute and quirky puzzle-exploration game ‘Pikuniku’ is coming to Linux

        Pikuniku from the studio Sectordub and Devolver Digital is releasing January 24th and it will support Linux at release.

        I’ve been following it for a while as it looks really quite sweet, with a simple and quirky style to it. After popping a message to their official Twitter to ask about Linux support, they replied simply to say that “Yes” it will. Seems Steam and GOG already show this too, which is great.

      • Darwin Project no longer works in Steam Play, due to Easy Anti-Cheat

        After spending a good few hours enjoying the Battle Royale game Darwin Project [Steam] on Linux thanks to Steam Play, it has come to an abrupt end.

        I wrote about it working only recently in December. Much to my surprise, it only really needed a quick manual adjustment to pick the region you wish to matchmake in. Then it worked pretty much like any other game, exactly what Steam Play is supposed to do and I was happy.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Frameworks 5.54 Released for KDE Plasma 5.15, Adds Android Notifications

        The KDE Project announced the general availability of the KDE Frameworks 5.54.0 open-source software suite for current and upcoming releases of the KDE Plasma desktop environment.
        Consisting of more than 70 addon libraries for the open-source and cross-platform Qt application framework, the KDE Frameworks software suite features numerous components essential to the KDE Plasma desktop environment.

        The KDE Frameworks 5.54.0 a monthly update that adds numerous improvements, as well as various new features in an attempt to stabilize the software suite. Also, this release is just in time for the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop, due for release on February 12.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.54.0

        KDE Frameworks are over 70 addon libraries to Qt which provide a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. For an introduction see the KDE Frameworks web page.

        This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.54 Released With KWayland Improvements, KIO Supports TLS 1.3
      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 53

        I totally missed that last week marked the one-year anniversary of my documentation and guidance of KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative. I think we’ve achieved a lot over the course of that year!

        Note that this is NOT an exhaustive log of everything that happened this week in the entire KDE community, or even in all of Plasma. The actual number of commits and improvements is always vast and enormous–too much to comprehend, really. The KDE Community is staggeringly productive.

        Rather, this is always a curated list of only the user-facing improvements I believe are directly relevant to the Usability & Productivity initiative. And speaking of it, this week we got an interesting assortment of new features, bugfixes, and UI improvements–many of which I didn’t mention but will ultimately be appreciated when taken together

      • KDE’s Okular Will Now Display & Verify PDF Digital Signatures

        KDE developers continue being very productive this winter working on various improvements to their desktop stack.

        In addition to KDE developers doing a great job on improvements, contributor Nate Graham also continues doing a splendid job summarizing these enhancements to KDE on a weekly basis.

      • Facebook AccountKit with Qt/C++ on Android

        Facebook’s AccountKit is an authentication service that can use your email or phone number to login to your services, it doesn’t require that the user has a Facebook account, just a valid email or phone.

        The cool thing about it is that it sends SMS for free, and although sending SMSs is cheap being free of charge is something you might want to look when creating a new App, in fact here in Brazil some big Apps do make use of it.

        So long story short story I wanted to add this to my Qt Android App.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME 3.32 Will Do A Better Job Picking The Primary GPU – Helping Out USB Displays, Etc

        The work around better GPU/infrastructure handling for GNOME 3.32 continues with the most recent work merged this weekend being for better handling by Mutter over deciding the primary GPU of the system in multi-GPU systems whether it be multiple graphics cards, notebooks with dual GPUs, or systems with a USB-based external display adapter.

        Emilio Pozuelo Monfort of Collabora has been working on a primary GPU rework to better decide how GNOME chooses the primary GPU of the system. The primary change of this work appears to be ensuring that the primary GPU is capable of hardware rendering and that Mutter doesn’t accidentally choose a GPU only backed by LLVMpipe or other software renderer. There is also a new fallback for CPU-based copying from secondary GPUs with a software renderer, which is said to provide better performance and help with synchronization.

      • ‘Celluloid’ is the new name of GNOME MPV

        Celluloid is the name of a “transparent flammable plastic made in sheets from camphor and nitrocellulose, formerly used for cinematographic film” i.e. movies — perfect choice for a movie player, no?

        There also isn’t a lot (if any) similar software using the name, either. Similar names can create all sort of problems, ranging from packaging conflicts to promotional crossed-wires.

        Naturally there is, of course, a new icon to represent the newly-renamed app on users’ desktops.

        The Celluloid icon is modelled after a frame of celluloid film and has a generic play icon and seekbar overlaid to denote that it’s a player.

      • GNOME Outreachy mentorship

        There was people interested in all of three projects, but for the Books app we don’t have any real contribution so there was no real applicants.

        I’ve two good proposals for Fractal and for Gtranslator, so I approve both and the Outreachy people approve these two interts. So we get two new devs working in GNOME for three months as interns.

        This is something great, paid developers working in my proposals is a good thing, but this implies that I need to do the mentor work for these two interns during the three months period, so it’s more work for me :/

        But I think this is a really important work to do to bring more people to the free software, so I’ve less time for hacking, but I think it’s good, because the fresh blood can do the hacking and if, after the Outreachy, one of the interns continues collaborating with GNOME, that will be more important for the GNOME project that some new features in one app.

      • GNOME Internet Radio Locator version 1.6.0

        GNOME Internet Radio Locator 1.6.0 is now freely available for GNOME 3.

        The 1.6.0 release is a stable release with Internet radio stations from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, England, Scotland, France and Belgium, as well as U.S.A., Canada, Mexico and Guatemala, mapped for GNOME Maps and city text search interface with auto-completion for 76 world cities that are featured in this release.

      • GNOME Internet Radio Locator 1.6.0 Released

        GNOME Internet Radio Locator 1.6.0 is now freely available for GNOME systems. The 1.6.0 release is a stable release with Internet radio stations from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, England, Scotland, France and Belgium, as well as U.S.A., Canada, Mexico and Guatemala, mapped for GNOME Maps and city text search interface with auto-completion for 76 world cities that are featured in this release.

  • Distributions