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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 45 min ago

Links 11/12/2018: Tails 3.11, New Firefox, FreeBSD 12.0

5 hours 21 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Best Lightweight Linux Distros for Older Computers

      Don’t throw away that old Pentium III tower and CRT monitor just yet! While that old laptop in the closet may not be able to run Windows 10 or macOS Mojave, it doesn’t mean it’s destined for the dump.

      Many Linux distributions are made specifically for utilizing the ancient, underpowered hardware found in older machines. By installing these lightweight distros, you can breathe new life into an old PC thought to be long past its prime. Here are the best lightweight Linux distros that we’ve picked out from the pile.

    • VirtIO-FS: A Proposed Better Approach For Sharing Folders/Files With Guest VMs

      Red Hat developers have proposed a new VirtIO-FS component to provide better support for shared folders/files between the host and guest virtual machines.

      VirtIO-FS was developed out of the need to share folders/files with guest VMs in a fast, consistent, and secure manner. They designed VirtIO-FS for Kata containers but coud be used with other VMs too. The closest existing project to fulfilling their needs was Virtio-9p, but there were performance issues and other factors leading them to designing this new solution.

    • Peter Hutterer: Understanding HID report descriptors

      This time we’re digging into HID – Human Interface Devices and more specifically the protocol your mouse, touchpad, joystick, keyboard, etc. use to talk to your computer.

      Remember the good old days where you had to install a custom driver for every input device? Remember when PS/2 (the protocol) had to be extended to accommodate for mouse wheels, and then again for five button mice. And you had to select the right protocol to make it work. Yeah, me neither, I tend to suppress those memories because the world is awful enough as it is.

      As users we generally like devices to work out of the box. Hardware manufacturers generally like to add bits and bobs because otherwise who would buy that new device when last year’s device looks identical. This difference in needs can only be solved by one superhero: Committee-man, with the superpower to survive endless meetings and get RFCs approved.

      Many many moons ago, when USB itself was in its infancy, Committee man and his sidekick Caffeine boy got the USB consortium agree on a standard for input devices that is so self-descriptive that operating systems (Win95!) can write one driver that can handle this year’s device, and next year’s, and so on. No need to install extra drivers, your device will just work out of the box. And so HID was born. This may only an approximate summary of history.

      Originally HID was designed to work over USB. But just like Shrek the technology world is obsessed with layers so these days HID works over different transport layers. HID over USB is what your mouse uses, HID over i2c may be what your touchpad uses. HID works over Bluetooth and it’s celebrity-diet version BLE. Somewhere, someone out there is very slowly moving a mouse pointer by sending HID over carrier pigeons just to prove a point. Because there’s always that one guy.

      HID is incredibly simple in that the static description of the device can just be bytes burnt into the ROM like the Australian sun into unprepared English backpackers. And the event frames are often an identical series of bytes where every bit is filled in by the firmware according to the axis/buttons/etc.

    • Windows 10 Sends Your Activity History to Microsoft, Even if You Tell It Not To

      Windows 10 collects an “Activity History” of applications you launch on your PC and sends it to Microsoft. Even if you disable or clear this, Microsoft’s Privacy Dashboard still shows an “Activity History” of applications you’ve launched on your PCs.

      This problem was recently discussed on Reddit, and it’s pretty easy to confirm. Head to Settings > Privacy > Activity History and disable “Send my activity history to Microsoft.” It was already disabled on our PC, so it made this easy to test.

    • Watch Out: Clicking “Check for Updates” Still Installs Unstable Updates on Windows 10

      Microsoft hasn’t learned its lesson. If you click the “Check for Updates” button in the Settings app, Microsoft still considers you a “seeker” and will give you “preview” updates that haven’t gone through the normal testing process.

      This problem came to everyone’s attention with the release of the October 2018 Update. It was pulled for deleting people’s files, but anyone who clicked “Check for Updates” in the first few days effectively signed up as a tester and got the buggy update. The “Check for Updates” button apparently means “Please install potentially updates that haven’t gone through a normal testing process.”

  • Server
    • Intel Launches Open-Source Deep Learning Reference Stack Powered By Clear Linux & Kata

      The Intel Deep Learning Reference Stack is an integrated, performance-focused open-source stack built atop their Clear Linux distribution, utilizes their Kata Containers technology, the Intel Math Kernel Library, and supports TensorFlow and other machine learning frameworks.

    • Open Source’s Evolution in Cloud-Native DevOps

      “Open source, and especially the open source community, are constantly coming up with new tools, approaches and best practices to solve business use cases in the cloud native world. Not a day goes by where we don’t see a new tool, library or framework seeing the light on GitHub that is solving key problems that adopters of cloud native run into as they start rolling out more applications through a DevOps delivery pipeline,” Andreas Grabner, a DevOps activist, for Dynatrace, said. “Thanks to the openness of the community and the willingness to share best practices with others, open source is a core building block of the cloud native movement. The flipside of this, however, is that many organizations are overwhelmed with the constant change in open source offerings.”

    • OpenShift & Kubernetes: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going Part 1

      As we approach the end of another year for Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes, and another Kubecon, which I believe will be even bigger than the last, it’s a great time to reflect on both where we’ve been and where we’re going. In this blog I will look back over the past 4+ years since Red Hat first got involved in the Kubernetes project, where we have focused our contributions and the key decisions that got us to this point. Then in Part II, I will look ahead at some of the areas we’re focusing on now and into the future.

    • Red Hat Satellite 6.4.1 is now generally available

      Red Hat Satellite 6.4.1 is now generally available. The main drivers for the 6.4.1 release are upgrade and stability fixes. Thirteen bugs have been addressed in this release – the complete list is at the end of the post. The most notable issue is compatibility with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6.

      There is one erratum for the server and one for the hosts. The install ISOs will be updated soon, but customers registered via Red Hat Subscription Manager can update via `foreman-maintain` as described in the upgrade guide today.

    • How AWS Lambda Serverless Works

      Four years ago, Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched a revolution with the debut of its Lambda service. Rather than being an expansion of existing virtual machine services that provide cloud based servers, Lambda offered users a different promise – the promise of ‘serverless’ computing.

    • How Google Is Improving Kubernetes Container Security

      The open-source Kubernetes container orchestration project has become increasingly important in recent years as organizations rely on it to deploy applications. With the increased reliance has come increased scrutiny on security, especially at Google, which hosts a managed Kubernetes service called Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).

      In a call with press ahead of the KubeCon conference that runs Dec. 11-13 in Seattle, Maya Kaczorowski, product manager, Security & Privacy, at Google, outlined the steps Google is taking to help secure Kubernetes now and into the future.

    • Cumulus Networks Partners with Lenovo to Deliver Networking Switches for the Open, Modern Data Center

      Together, Lenovo and Cumulus Networks provide operational efficiency with the robust Linux ecosystem, scalability with Ethernet VPN, and a simplified cloud-based operational model. Lenovo fulfills its promise of vendor flexibility, while at the same time delivering true open switch products that enable organizations to choose the OS best suited for its business.

    • SAP HANA Systemreplication Automation with SUSE HA on Alibaba Cloud
    • Red Hat collaborates with Google, SAP, IBM and others on Knative to deliver hybrid serverless workloads to the enterprise
    • NeuVector Adds to Kubernetes Security Solution, Releases Containerd and CRI-O Run-Time Support

      NeuVector, the leader in Container Network Security, today announced containerd and CRI-O run-time support. The Kubernetes security company is unveiling these new additions to its platform at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018, where NeuVector is participating as an exhibitor and conference sponsor. Attendees are invited to learn how customers use NeuVector – and get 1:1 demos of the platform’s new capabilities – at booth S/E24. KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 takes place December 10-13 in Seattle.

    • Aqua Security, Amazon Web Services and Red Hat to Co-Host First-Ever KubeSec Enterprise Summit

      JP Morgan Chase, Starbucks, Tinder and Forrester are among the presenters who will examine best practices and emerging trends in Kubernetes security technologies

    • Red Hat Slashes Price for Managed Kubernetes by up to 50%

      Red Hat has slashed the costs to use OpenShift Dedicated, its Kubernetes-as-a-service platform, by up to 50 percent.

      OpenShift Dedicated is hosted and managed by Red Hat. It offers clusters run in a virtual private cloud on AWS.

      Starting on December 12, 2018, the Raleigh-headquartered open source company has cut cost of an OpenShift Dedicated cluster by 25 percent and the cost of additional nodes by 50 percent, it said.

    • Lightbend Fast Data Platform Now Generally Available on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform
    • VMware taps into Istio to manage Kubernetes clusters

      Istio, which allows users to connect, manage and secure microservices for both containerized and non-containerized workloads, was developed by IBM, Google and Red Hat before it was put into open source last year.

    • VMware Climbs on the Istio Train for Kubernetes Management

      VMware has updated its NSX networking platform to support managing, securing and ensuring performance of native cloud apps, using open source Istio software.

      Istio is an open source project backed by IBM, Google, Red Hat, Lyft and Pivotal, which hit version 1.0 in July. Istio manages interactions between containers. It complements Kubernetes, which provides lifecycle orchestration for containers, keeping them available and scaling them up and down as needed.

    • Red Hat, Google, IBM, And SAP Go Knative For Serverless

      The history of digital computing is to provide increasing levels of abstraction to get programmers further and further away from directly manipulating the ones and zeros. So it is no surprise that so-called serverless computing is getting a lot of looks from developers who want to focus more on their applications and less on managing the infrastructure they run on.

      As we at The Next Platform have discussed before, serverless computing doesn’t mean that the work is being done without servers, but rather that there is such a high level of abstraction for the compute that the server is no longer a concern for developers. They don’t have to worry about it because it’s a problem that someone else – like a cloud provider – has to deal with.

    • Red Hat Sets Jan. 16, 2019, Special Meeting for Vote on Merger Agreement with IBM

      Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, announced today that it had established a record date of Dec. 11, 2018, and a special meeting date of Jan. 16, 2019, for a meeting of its stockholders to, among other things, consider and vote on a proposal to adopt the previously announced Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of Oct. 28, 2018, by and among Red Hat, International Business Machines Corporation (“IBM”) and Socrates Acquisition Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM, pursuant to which IBM will acquire Red Hat for $190.00 per share in an all-cash transaction. The board of directors of Red Hat recommends that stockholders vote in favor of the merger with IBM.

    • Red Hat sets date for stockholders to vote on IBM merger

      Open source solutions provider Red Hat has set a special meeting on 16 January for stockholders to consider and vote on IBM’s proposed acquisition of the company.

      On 28 October, IBM and Red hat announced an agreement and plan of merger which would see IBM acquire Red Hat for $190.00 per share in an all-cash transaction.

      “The board of directors of Red Hat recommends that stockholders vote in favour of the merger with IBM,” the company said in a statement on 11 December.

    • IBM exec: Why buying Red Hat is better than partnership
  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Going Linux #358 · Listener Feedback

      This month we have voice feedback from Paul, suggestions on alternatives for G+, a question on OpenVPN, feedback and problems moving to Linux. Troy provides a Going Linux story on software for Linux users.

    • Linux Thursday – Dec 6, 2018
    • Gnocchi: A Scalable Time Series Database For Your Metrics with Julien Danjou – Episode 189

      Do you know what your servers are doing? If you have a metrics system in place then the answer should be “yes”. One critical aspect of that platform is the timeseries database that allows you to store, aggregate, analyze, and query the various signals generated by your software and hardware. As the size and complexity of your systems scale, so does the volume of data that you need to manage which can put a strain on your metrics stack. Julien Danjou built Gnocchi during his time on the OpenStack project to provide a time oriented data store that would scale horizontally and still provide fast queries. In this episode he explains how the project got started, how it works, how it compares to the other options on the market, and how you can start using it today to get better visibility into your operations.

    • Podcast.__init__: Gnocchi, a Time Series Database for your Metrics
    • Episode #190: Teaching Django

      You’ll find this episode to be part discussion on how to teach and learn Django as well as why learning web development can be hard and part meta where Will Vincent and I discuss the business of creating content and teaching around Python.

    • 57: What is Data Science? – Vicki Boykis

      Data science, data engineering, data analysis, and machine learning are part of the recent massive growth of Python.

  • Kernel Space
    • Adiantum File-System Encryption Support Ready For Linux 4.21

      Adiantum, Google’s newly developed crypto algorithm to replace their planned use of the controversial Speck, is ready to begin providing speedy file-system encryption support for low-end devices with the upcoming Linux 4.21 merge window.

      Adiantum is intended to be eventually used by low-end Android Go devices where their limited SoCs don’t provide any hardware crypto extensions. As covered back in November, Adiantum was added to the Linux kernel’s crypto subsystem is staging it ahead of Linux 4.21.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Linux networking project: ‘expose & orchestrate’ to ONAP

        LF Networking (LFN) is the label used by the Linux Foundation to denote the coming together of seven top networking projects.

        In other (arguably more straightforward) words, LFN is an open source networking stack.

        The openly stated aim of LFN is to increase harmonisation across platforms, communities and ecosystems.

        This December 2018 sees new platform releases from ONAP (Casablanca) and OPNFV (Gambia) with additional support for cross-stack deployments across use cases such as 5G, Cross-Carrier VPN (CCVPN), as well as enhancements to cloud-native VPN.

      • Straight outta Linux: Cloud tech conference KubeCon will feature hip-hop star at ‘Ice Cube-Con’

        Will Tuesday be a good day? It will be for those attending KubeCon + CloudNativeCon in Seattle this week if they’re fans of the legendary rapper Ice Cube.

        The cloud-computing startup Mesosphere is taking tech conference musical guests to a fun new level by presenting a side event Tuesday night called Ice Cube-Con. A website dedicated to the performance even reads “Straight Outta KubeCon” in a nod to NWA’s 1988 debut album “Straight Outta Compton.”

      • Celebrating K8s crates inflation rate, Linux mates congregate

        A number of open source types are heading toward Seattle, Washington, on Monday, if they’re not already installed there, to attend the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (CNCF) KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 confab.

        The forecast for the cloud-centric event is rain, with widespread Kubernetes. The gathering begins Tuesday, not counting preparatory cocktails. Nonetheless, a press release downpour should arrive on Monday in which less consequential announcements get served as hors d’oeuvres.

        Platform9, a managed hybrid cloud service, plans to tout a handful of corporate customers – Aruba Networks, EBSCO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Juniper Networks, and Snapfish – who’ve started using its managed Kubernetes service. The idea is that if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you.

      • Introducing the Interactive Deep Learning Landscape

        The artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning (DL) and machine learning (ML) space is changing rapidly, with new projects and companies launching, existing ones growing, expanding and consolidating. More companies are also releasing their internal AI, ML, DL efforts under open source licenses to leverage the power of collaborative development, benefit from the innovation multiplier effect of open source, and provide faster, more agile development and accelerated time to market.

        To make sense of it all and keep up to date on an ongoing basis, the LF Deep Learning Foundation has created an interactive Deep Learning Landscape, based on the Cloud Native Landscape pioneered by CNCF. This landscape is intended as a map to explore open source AI, ML, DL projects. It also showcases the member companies of the LF Deep Learning Foundation who contribute contribute heavily to open source AI, ML and DL and bring in their own projects to be housed at the Foundation.

      • Linux Foundation’s ONAP ‘Casablanca’ Enables 5G Management

        Today’s topics include the Linux Foundation adding new features to ONAP Casablanca for 5G enablement, and Censys raising seed money to expand internet scanning for threat hunting.

        The Linux Foundation’s LF Networking project group last week took the next step in delivering an open-source platform to enable telecom providers to deploy next-generation network services.

      • The Joint Development Foundation Joins the Linux Foundation Family to Drive Adoption of Open Source and Standards

        The Linux Foundation and the Joint Development Foundation today announced an agreement to bring the Joint Development Foundation into the Linux Foundation family to make it easier to collaborate through both open source and standards development. The Joint Development Foundation is a nonprofit that provides a “standards organization in a box” to enable groups to quickly establish projects. With today’s news, the Linux Foundation and the Joint Development Foundation plan to provide greater capabilities for communities to engage in open source and standards development to speed industry adoption.

        “Linux Foundation communities have been engaged in developing open standards and specifications around Linux since day one and more recently with newer efforts such as OpenChain and the Open Container Initiative to collectively solve technical challenges,” said Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation. “Leveraging the capabilities of the Joint Development Foundation will enable us to provide open source projects with another path to standardization, driving greater industry adoption of standards and specifications to speed adoption.”

      • How CNCF Is Growing the Cloud Landscape at KubeCon

        Thousands of developers, vendors and end users alike are descending on Seattle from Dec. 11-13 for the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America event. They are all here to learn and talk about the growing cloud native landscape, anchored by the Kubernetes container orchestration system.

        Among those at KubeCon is Chris Aniszczyk, Chief Operating Officer of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). In a video interview with eWEEK, Aniszczyk provides insight into the KubeCon event as well as highlighting the current and future direction of the CNCF, which now hosts 31 different open-source efforts.

        [...]

        Aniszczyk is also particularly enthusiastic about the Envoy project, which was created by ride-sharing company Lyft and officially joined the CNCF in September 2017. Envoy is a service mesh reverse proxy technology that is used to help scale micro-services data traffic. Among the organizations that are now using Envoy are Square, Stripe, Amazon and Google.

    • Graphics Stack
      • V3D Compute, VC4 display, PM

        For V3D last week, I resurrected my old GLES 3.1 series with SSBO and shader imgae support, rebuilt it for V3D 4.1 (shader images no longer need manual tiling), and wrote indirect draw support and started on compute shaders. As of this weekend, dEQP-GLES31 is passing 1387/1567 of tests with “compute” in the name on the simulator. I have a fix needed for barrier(), then it’s time to build the kernel interface. In the process, I ended up fixing several job flushing bugs, plugging memory leaks, improving our shader disassembly debug dumps, and reducing memory consumption and CPU overhead.

      • AMD Outs New Vega 10 & 20 IDs With Linux Driver Patch

        AMD may have accidentally revealed some new products containing its Radeon RX Vega 10 and Radeon RX Vega 20 graphics technologies. The company patched its RadeonSI Mesa and AMDKFD/AMDGPU kernel drivers with new PCI IDs; no other changes were made with the patch.

        Phoronix reported that the patch added six new IDs released to Vega 10: 0×6869, 0x686A, 0x686B, 0x686D, 0x686E, and 0x686F. These are new IDs that were previously only referenced in an update to macOS Mojave and GPUOpen’s lists of GFX9 parts. That could mean AMD plans to introduce new Vega 10 products sooner than later, but the company might also be internally testing new products that are a ways from release.

      • AMD Files Trademark For Vega II

        It looks like AMD could be announcing Vega II as new 7nm Vega GPUs soon complementing the recently announced Vega 20 Radeon Instinct MI50 / MI60 accelerators.

      • The Linux Direct Rendering Manger Subsystem Poised To Have A Second Maintainer

        For hopefully helping out with code reviews and getting code staged in a timely manner before being upstreamed to the mainline Linux kernel, Daniel Vetter of the Intel Open-Source Technology Center is set to become a co-maintainer.

        Daniel Vetter who has been with Intel OTC for a number of years working on their Linux graphics driver has proposed becoming a DRM co-maintainer, “MAINTAINERS: Daniel for drm co-maintainer…lkml and Linus gained a CoC, and it’s serious this time. Which means my [number one] reason for declining to officially step up as drm maintainer is gone, and I didn’t find any new good excuse.”

    • Benchmarks
      • An Initial Look At The Intel Iris Gallium3D Driver PerformanceAn Initial Look At The Intel Iris Gallium3D Driver Performance

        One of the most exciting developments in the open-source Intel driver space this year was the Iris Gallium3D driver taking shape as what’s destined to eventually succeed their “classic” i965 Mesa driver. With Iris Gallium3D maturing, here’s a look at how the performance currently stacks up to their mature OpenGL driver.

        The Intel Iris Gallium3D driver is designed for Skylake (potentially Broadwell too) support and newer generations while being a forward-looking driver and utilizes their mature NIR compiler support. Iris holds much more performance potential than their classic Mesa driver albeit the developers haven’t really taken to performance optimizations yet but rather getting the driver up and running, eliminating test suite failures, and getting to the point of feature parity with the i965 driver.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE4 and Qt4 deprecation in FreeBSD

        This is a reminder — for those who don’t read all of the FreeBSD mailing lists — that KDE4 is marked deprecated in the official ports tree for FreeBSD, and will be removed at the end of this year (in about 20 days). Then Qt4 will be removed from the official ports tree in mid-march.

        Since both pieces of software are end-of-life and unmaintained upstream already for several years, the kde@ team at FreeBSD no longer can maintain them. Recent time-sinks were dealing with OpenSSL 1.1.1, libressl, C++17, .. the code is old, and there’s newer, nicer, better-maintained code available generally by replacing 4 with 5.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME Devs Experiment with a Refreshed GTK & Icon Theme

        Now, if you’re a regular reader of this site then may recall our post on a new GNOME icon theme back in July. At the time only a handful of core GNOME apps had been given newly redesigned icons.

        Fast forward a season or so and not only is the give-core-apps-new-icons initiative well underway, but the redesign effort has extended to other parts of the desktop experience, including the default theme.

        Modernising the look and feel of GNOME apps and the shell is a) a bit overdue and b) happening as part of a wider update to GNOME design guidelines. The idea is to give the desktop a distinct yet consistent appearance.

  • Distributions
    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • The PCLinuxOS Magazine Graphics Special Edition, Volume 1

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the Graphics Special Edition, Volume 1 of the PCLinuxOS Magazine. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw.

    • Arch Family
      • Arch Linux Users With Intel Graphics Can Begin Enjoying A Flicker-Free Boot

        It looks like the recent efforts led by Red Hat / Fedora on providing a flicker-free Linux boot experience and thanks to their upstream-focused approach is starting to pay off for the other desktop Linux distributions… A flicker-free boot experience can now be achieved on Arch Linux with the latest packages, assuming you don’t have any quirky hardware.

        A Phoronix reader reported in earlier today that Arch Linux as of the 4.19.8-arch1-1-ARCH kernel is working out well for the seamless/flicker-free boot experience. The caveat though — like with Fedora — is that it only works with Intel graphics hardware/driver for now and does require setting the “i915.fastboot=1″ kernel module parameter.

    • Slackware Family
      • KDE Plasma 5 for Slackware – end of the year edition

        I just uploaded a whole new batch of packages containing KDE Plasma5 for Slackware. The previous batch, KDE 5_18.10 is already two months old and has some library compatibility issues. The new KDE 5_18.12 for Slackware consists of KDE Frameworks 5.53.0, Plasma 5.14.4 and Applications 18.08.3. All this on top of Qt 5.11.3.
        Compiled on the latest Slackware -current, it’s running smoothly here on my laptop.
        I decided against upgrading to QT 5.12.0. This is a new LTS release, but I will wait for the other distros to find bugs in this new software. Next week, KDE will release KDE Applications 18.12.0 and that too is something I want to check a bit before releasing Slackware packages. Therefore it’s likely that a new batch of packages containing Qt 5.12 and KDE Applications 18.12 will see the light shortly after the New Year.

    • Fedora
      • Fedora 29 Release Party Novi Sad

        Fedora 29 Release Party was held at University of Novi Sad in Serbia like our previous events. Around 50 Fedorians were presents, and I am happy to report that I saw a lot of new faces.

      • Fedora Looks To Build Firefox With Clang For Better Performance & Compilation Speed

        Following the move by upstream Mozilla in switching their Linux builds of Firefox from being compiled by GCC to LLVM Clang, Fedora is planning the same transition of compilers in the name of compilation speed and resulting performance.

        FESCo Ticket 2020 laid out the case, “Mozilla upstream switches from gcc to clang and we’re going to follow upstream here due to clang performance, maintenance costs and compilation speed. Tom Stellard (clang maintainer) has asked me to file this ticket to comply with Fedora processes.”

      • Work in progress: PHP stack for EL-8
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Tails 3.11 is out
        • [Tor] Transparency, Openness, and Our 2016 and 2017 Financials

          After completing a standard audit for 2016, our 2016 federal tax filings and audit, along with our 2017 federal tax filings, are available. We publish all of our related tax documents because we believe in transparency.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • IoT Gateway uses Ubuntu Core and integrates with AWS IoT Greengrass

            Rigado’s Cascade IoT Gateway running Canonical’s secure operating system Ubuntu Core, has integrated with the newly released Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT Greengrass features to help give teams an easy-to-use mechanism to get Bluetooth-based data to their cloud applications.

            This new functionality combines the scalability of AWS IoT Greengrass edge computing with the flexibility of Bluetooth connectivity and is provided as part of Rigado’s “edge-as-a-service” Cascade IoT Gateway. The direct connection from the Bluetooth sensor to the cloud is made possible through the integration of AWS IoT Greengrass and Rigado’s Edge Connect on the Cascade gateway. It provides the ability to interact with Bluetooth devices using Rigado REST APIs via AWS Lambda. AWS IoT Greengrass Connectors, a new feature of AWS IoT Greengrass, allows applications to connect to AWS services including Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose, Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), and Amazon CloudWatch. This allows for a full data chain with little to no coding required.

          • Ubuntu burrows deeper into Kubernetes clouds

            Canonical is taking steps to cement the presence of its Ububtu Linux in the cloud through the appeal of containers and Kubernetes.

            The company has expanded its partnership with Supermicro on OpenStack while smoothing the design and deployment of containers on Ubuntu clusters on cloud.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 556
          • Canonical makes Kubernetes moves

            When last I spoke to Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical’s founder, in Berlin, he told me that — when it comes to Kubernetes — enterprise “Kubernetes runs on Ubuntu.” Kubernetes, the most popular cloud container orchestration program, “makes life easier for people who want portability across public clouds. With multiple Kubernetes clusters you have one common way to run workloads on Linux over both private and public clouds.”

          • Canonical announces support for Kubernetes 1.13 on Ubuntu

            Canonical is pleased to announce full enterprise support for Kubernetes 1.13 on Ubuntu, including support for kubeadm, and updates to MicroK8s – our popular single-node deployment of Kubernetes.

            Canonical’s certified, Charmed Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK) is built from pure upstream binaries, and offers simplified deployment, scaling, management, and upgrades of Kubernetes, regardless of the underlying hardware or machine virtualisation. Supported deployment targets include AWS, GCE, Azure, VMware, Openstack, LXD, and bare metal.

            CDK integrates tightly with underlying cloud services and hardware without requiring special configuration – from exposing the GPU to leveraging cloud native services like load balancers and storage. Each component of CDK can be easily scaled to an HA or minimal configuration, and upgrades from one version to the next are a breeze.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Nextcloud 15 goes social, enforces 2FA and gives you a new generation real-time document editing

    Nextcloud 2018 ends the year with a big announcement: Nextcloud 15 is here! This release marks a big step forward for communication and collaboration with others in a secure way, introducing…

  • Nvidia Open Sources Physics Engine

    Nvidia has released a new version of its physics engine, PhysX, and has made it open source. The developers say the engine has been upgraded to provide industrial grade simulation quality at game simulation performance.

    PhysX was already available for use for free, even in commercial projects, but the fact it is now open source means developers can modify the engine if they want to without paying a license fee.

  • 5 things you won’t learn from The Open Organization Leaders Manual

    Today the open organization community—a global group of writers, consultants, theorists, managers, and other organizational leaders dedicated to helping others understand how open principles can transform organizational culture and design—unveiled the second edition of The Open Organization Leaders Manual. Billed as “a handbook for building innovative and engaged teams,” the book is available now as a Creative Commons-licensed eBook and a paperback.

  • Companies behind on digital transformation get ahead with open leaders

    One source of that disruption is digitization. Digitization is reshaping the way we lead, manage, and work. Even in the scope of the last decade, we’ve seen rapid adjustments to how we live, connect, and receive services. While we’ve been discussing ad nauseum how (or whether) we should be redefining organizational cultures and business models, the clock has been ticking, and the pace of digitization has not been slowing. In his book The Digital Matrix: New Rules for Business Transformation Through Technology, author Venkat Venkatraman argues that, by 2025, differences between digital and non-digital functions, processes, and business models will no longer exist.

  • DAV1D v0.1 AV1 Video Decoder Released

    Out today is DAV1D as the first official (v0.1) release of this leading open-source AV1 video decoder.

    This release was decided since its quality is good enough for use, covers all AV1 specs and features, and is quite fast on desktop class hardware and improving for mobile SoCs.

  • PikcioChain plans for open-source MainNet in roadmap update

    France-based PikcioChain, a platform designed to handle and monetize personal data, has announced changes to its development roadmap as it looks towards the launch of its standalone MainNet and block explorer in the first quarter of 2019.

  • New Blockstream Bitcoin Block Explorer Announces The Release Of Its Open Source Code Esplora

    Blockstream has just announced a release of Esplora, its open source software. This is the software that keeps the website and network running. This new release follows on the heels of its block explorer that was released in November to the public.

    The company released the block explorer, and after making sure it was successful, released the code behind that block explorer. This way, developers can easily create their block explorers, build add-ons and extensions as well as contribute to Blockstream.info.

  • Will Concerns Break Open Source Containers?

    Open source containers, which isolate applications from the host system, appear to be gaining traction with IT professionals in the U.S. defense community. But for all their benefits, security remains a notable Achilles’ heel for a couple of reasons.
    First, containers are still fairly nascent, and many administrators are not yet completely familiar with their capabilities. It’s difficult to secure something you don’t completely understand. Second, containers are designed in a way that hampers visibility. This lack of visibility can make securing containers extremely taxing.

  • Huawei, RoboSense join group pushing open-source autonomous driving technology

    Telecommunications equipment giant Huawei Technologies, its semiconductor subsidiary HiSilicon and RoboSense, a maker of lidar sensors used in driverless cars, have become the first Chinese companies to help establish an international non-profit group that supports open-source autonomous driving projects.

    The three firms are among the more than 20 founding members of the Autoware Foundation, which aims to promote collaboration between corporate and academic research efforts in autonomous driving technology, according to a statement from the group on Monday.

    The foundation is an outgrowth of Autoware.AI, an open-source autonomous driving platform that was started by Nagoya University associate professor Shinpei Kato in 2015.

  • Events
    • Red Hat KubeCon Seattle 2018 Events & Demos

      Stop by the Red Hat booth D1 to explore 1:1 demos and speak with our open source specialists. We’ll be giving away Red Hat beanies, stickers, Command Line Hero coloring books and more, while supplies last.

    • Future Session #10 Open Innovation & Open Design

      On November 27th 2018, The Spindle, in collaboration with HumanityX, organised a Future Session about global technological developments and open innovation & open design. Participants to this meeting came from various organisations, sectors, and backgrounds, which provided fruitful input and discussions, especially during the workshop part of the session.

      The session was led by expert Diderik van Wingerden, who is an Open Source Innovation expert and pragmatic idealist. To find out more about Diderik and his work, visit www.think-innovation.com. You can find Diderik’s presentation and the material that he used for this session here.

      Introduction to Technological Trends

      Diderik started off by presenting a great selection of today’s technological trends and developments, among which virtual reality, big (open) data, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, 3D printing, open source & open design, internet of things and robots & drones.

    • 40 top Linux and open source conferences in 2019

      Every year Opensource.com editors, writers, and readers attend open source-related conference and events hosted around the world. As we started planning our 2019 schedules, we rounded up a few top picks for the year.

      Which conferences do you plan to attend in 2019? If you don’t see your conference on this list, be sure to tell us about it in the comments and add it to our community conference calendar. (And for more events to attend, check out The Enterprisers Project list of business leadership conferences worth exploring in 2019.)

  • Web Browsers
    • HTC Exodus: Open Source Brave to be Blockchain phone’s default web browser

      HTC’s latest release HTC Exodus 1 is set to introduce the free and open source blockchain-backed Brave as its default browser.

      In a tweet, the CEO & Co-Founder of Brave and Basic Attention Token (BAT) Brendan Eich, shared the development. Brendan said, “We are very happy to have @Brave as default browser & to be working with HTC on their Exodus phone”.

    • Chrome
      • Microsoft vs the web

        I have been saying for a few years now that Chrome is the new IE, and the Google is the new Microsoft (Microsoft being the new IBM). This statement have been somewhat tongue in cheek, but I have always been serious about it not being a joke: history is repeating. I could got at length on all the reasons why I believe this to be true, but I’ll just talk about one new development.

        Last week, Microsoft announced that they had decided to abandon EdgeHTML, their web browser engine, and move to be using Google’s Chromium as the heart of the web browser offering, Edge. [1] Whether it will be just Blink and V8 (Web rendering and JS engine respectively) or also parts of Chromium is something unclear.

      • What is Chromium and why is Microsoft using it for Edge?

        Chromium is very similar. You can install a standalone application for Windows, macOS and any flavor of Linux named Chromium that’s a complete web browser complete with synchronization through Google’s could services. But Chromium is also the name of the open-source code project used to make Chromium, as well as the Chrome web browser, Chrome OS, Amazon Silk, and the Android Chrome web-view component companies like Twitter can use to build a browser into an application.

      • How Microsoft Is About to Make Google Chrome Even Better
    • Mozilla
      • If your bug bounty program is private, why do you have it?

        The big bug bounty platforms are structured like icebergs: the public bug bounty programs that you can see are only a tiny portion of everything that is going on there. As you earn your reputation on these platforms, they will be inviting you to private bug bounty programs. The catch: you generally aren’t allowed to discuss issues reported via private bug bounty programs. In fact, you are not even allowed to discuss the very existence of that bug bounty program.

        I’ve been playing along for a while on Bugcrowd and Hackerone and submitted a number of vulnerability reports to private bug bounty programs. As a result, I became convinced that these private bug bounty programs are good for the bottom line of the bug bounty platforms, but otherwise their impact is harmful. I’ll try to explain here.

      • BBN challenge resolution: Exploiting the Screenshotter.PRO browser extension

        The time has come to reveal the answer to my next BugBountyNotes challenge called Try out my Screenshotter.PRO browser extension. This challenge is a browser extension supposedly written by a naive developer for the purpose of taking webpage screenshots. While the extension is functional, the developer discovered that some websites are able to take a peek into their Gmail account. How does that work?

        If you haven’t looked at this challenge yet, feel free to stop reading at this point and go try it out. Mind you, this one is hard and only two people managed to solve it so far. Note also that I won’t look at any answers submitted at this point any more. Of course, you can also participate in any of the ongoing challenges as well.

      • Latest Firefox Release Available Today

        It’s the season for spending time with family and friends over a nice meal and exchanging gifts. Whether it’s a monogrammed bag or a nicely curated 2019 calendar of family photos, it’s the practical gifts that get the most use.

      • Version 64.0, first offered to Release channel users on December 11, 2018
      • Latest Firefox Release Available Today

        It’s the season for spending time with family and friends over a nice meal and exchanging gifts. Whether it’s a monogrammed bag or a nicely curated 2019 calendar of family photos, it’s the practical gifts that get the most use.

        For Firefox, we’re always looking for ways to simplify and personalize your online experience. For today’s version of Firefox for desktop, we have a couple new features that do just that.

      • Firefox 64.0 Released with Enhanced Tab Management

        Mozilla Firefox announced new stable 64.0 release a few hours ago with new features and performance improvements.

      • Mozilla Firefox 64 Now Available for Download on Windows, Linux, and macOS

        Mozilla has just released Firefox 64 stable for users on Windows, Linux, and macOS, with the Android version likely to be updated in the coming hours.
        While checking for updates using the built-in update engine may not offer you Firefox version 64, you can download the browser using the links below, as Mozilla has just updated its servers with the new builds.

        Firefox 64 introduces a series of changes that were previously tested as part of the beta versions, including recommended extensions. This feature is supposed to help improve the experience with the browser by providing suggestions on services that are relevant to your activity.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
    • Pimcore Closes $3.5M in Series A to Expand Open-Source Data and Experience Management Platform Into the U.S.
    • Open source software platform Pimcore raises $3.5M funding

      Pimcore, open-source software platform startup, has raised $3.5 million in the first funding round to expand operations in India and enhance marketing activities in the US. The funding round was led by German Auctus Capital Partners AG.

      The firm focuses on user experience, data management among other solutions. The Austria headquartered startup, which has agreements with Infosys, Happiest Minds, and UST Global for implementation of its software platforms, is looking to expand product development activities in India as well.

    • Solo.io raises $11M to help enterprises adopt cloud-native technologies

      Solo.io, a Cambridge, Mass-based startup that helps enterprises adopt cloud-native technologies, is coming out of stealth mode today and announcing both its Series A funding round and the launch of its Gloo Enterprise API gateway.

      Redpoint Ventures led the $11 million Series A round, with participation from seed investor True Ventures . Like most companies at the Series A state, Solo.io plans to use the money to invest in the product development of its enterprise and open-source tools, as well as to grow its sales and marketing teams.

  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GCC 9 Guts Out The PowerPC SPE Support

      It should come as no surprise since it was deprecated in this year’s GCC 8 release, but the PowerPC SPE code has been removed.

      This isn’t to be confused with conventional POWER/PowerPC but rather PowerPC SPE that is for the “Signal Processing Engine” on older FreeScale/IBM cores like the e500. It’s not all that important these days and doesn’t affect newer versions of the 64-bit Power support.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
      • How Shared, Open Data Can Help Us Better Overcome Disasters

        WHEN A MASSIVE earthquake and tsunami hit the eastern coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant failed, leaking radioactive material into the atmosphere and water. People around the country as well as others with family and friends in Japan were, understandably, concerned about radiation levels—but there was no easy way for them to get that information. I was part of a small group of volunteers who came together to start a nonprofit organization, Safecast, to design, build, and deploy Geiger counters and a website that would eventually make more than 100 million measurements of radiation levels available to the public.

        We started in Japan, of course, but eventually people around the world joined the movement, creating an open global data set. The key to success was the mobile, easy to operate, high-quality but lower-cost kit that the Safecast team developed, which people could buy and build to collect data that they might then share on the Safecast website.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Western Digital Takes A RISC

        Proponents of RISC-V say that it that enables the diversity of Big Data and Fast Data applications and workloads proliferating in core data centers and in remote and mobile systems at the edge. It provides an alternative to current, standard, general purpose compute architectures. With RISC-V, open standard interfaces can be utilized to enable specialty processing, memory centric solutions, unique storage and flexible interconnect applications. The RISC-V Foundation has a broad ecosystem represented by the significant increase in attendees at the 2018 Summit compared to 2017.

      • The Year 2018 in Open Hardware

        2018 saw several open hardware projects reach fruition. Where the open hardware movement goes from here, remains to be seen.

        2018 was not “The Year of Open Hardware,” any more than it was the fabled “Year of the Linux Desktop.” All the same, 2018 was a year in which open hardware projects started to move from fundraising and project development to product releases. Many of these open products were traditional hardware, but 2018 also saw the release of innovative tech in the form of new and useful gadgets.

        In the background, open hardware hangs on to traditional niches. These niches occur at the intersection of altruism, hobbyists, academia, and the market, to say nothing of crowdfunding and the relative affordability of 3D printing. A prime example of this intersection is the development of prosthetics. Much of the modern work in open hardware began almost a decade ago with the Yale OpenHand project. At the same time, sites like Hackaday.io offer kits and specifications for hobbyists, while the e-NABLE site has become a place for exchanging ideas for everyone from tinkerers to working professionals in the field. As a result, open hardware technology in the field of prosthetics has grown to rival traditional manufacturers in a handful of years.

        This niche is a natural one for open hardware not only because of the freely available resources, but for simple economics. Traditionally manufactured prosthetic hands begin at about $30,000, far beyond the budgets of many potential customers. By contrast, an open hardware-based company like the UK based Open Bionics can design a cosmetically-pleasing hand for $200, which is still a large sum in impoverished areas, but far more obtainable. A non-profit called Social Hardware estimates that a need for prosthetic hands in India alone numbers 26,000 and hopes to help meet the demand by offering a development kit on which enthusiasts can learn and later donate their results to those who need them.

      • This MIT Developed 3D Printer Is 10 Times Faster Than Modern 3D Printers

        3D printers have become more and more useful in the mass production of complex products that are cheaper and stronger. However, the only issue with 3D printing is its slow speed. These desktop 3D printers can print only one product at a time and only one thin layer at a making.

      • Accelerating 3-D printing

        Imagine a world in which objects could be fabricated in minutes and customized to the task at hand. An inventor with an idea for a new product could develop a prototype for testing while on a coffee break. A company could mass-produce parts and products, even complex ones, without being tied down to part-specific tooling and machines that can’t be moved. A surgeon could get a bespoke replacement knee for a patient without leaving the operating theater. And a repair person could identify a faulty part and fabricate a new one on site — no need to go to a warehouse to get something out of inventory.

  • Programming/Development
    • Python Community Interview With Brian Peterson

      To date, I’ve interviewed people you’ve likely heard of before from the Python community. But this column isn’t just about interviewing the rock stars and core devs. It’s also a means to shine light on the huge contributions to the community that can often go unthanked and overlooked. As such, I present to you Brian Peterson.

      Brian is a project manager by day, and by night he’s one of the moderators of the Pythonista Café, a peer-to-peer learning community for Pythonistas. In our interview, we talk about how Python helps him in his role as a project manager, and how moderating a large forum for Python enthusiasts has impacted his coding chops. Let’s dig in!

    • Building a GraphQL API with Django
    • Create the pause scene for the game
    • PyDev of the Week: Steve Dower
    • How to Fix your Python Code’s Style
    • LLVM’s OpenMP Runtime Picks Up DragonFlyBSD & OpenBSD Support

      Good news for those using the LLVM Clang compiler on OpenBSD or DragonFlyBSD: the OpenMP run-time should now be supported with the latest development code.

    • Nick Cameron: Rust in 2022

      In case you missed it, we released our second edition of Rust this year! An edition is an opportunity to make backwards incompatible changes, but more than that it’s an opportunity to bring attention to how programming in Rust has changed. With the 2018 edition out of the door, now is the time to think about the next edition: how do we want programming in Rust in 2022 to be different to programming in Rust today? Once we’ve worked that out, lets work backwards to what should be done in 2019.

      Without thinking about the details, lets think about the timescale and cadence it gives us. It was three years from Rust 1.0 to Rust 2018 and I expect it will be three years until the next edition. Although I think the edition process went quite well, I think that if we’d planned in advance then it could have gone better. In particular, it felt like there were a lot of late changes which could have happened earlier so that we could get more experience with them. In order to avoid that I propose that we aim to avoid breaking changes and large new features landing after the end of 2020. That gives 2021 for finishing, polishing, and marketing with a release late that year. Working backwards, 2020 should be an ‘impl year’ – focussing on designing and implementing the things we know we want in place for the 2021 edition. 2019 should be a year to invest while we don’t have any release pressure.

      To me, investing means paying down technical debt, looking at our processes, infrastructure, tooling, governance, and overheads to see where we can be more efficient in the long run, and working on ‘quality of life’ improvements for users, the kind that don’t make headlines but will make using Rust a better experience. It’s also the time to investigate some high-risk, high-reward ideas that will need years of iteration to be user-ready; 2019 should be an exciting year!

    • A Java Developer Walks Into A Ruby Conference: Charles Nutter’s Open Source Journey

      As a Java developer, Nutter began looking for an existing way to run Ruby within a Java runtime environment, specifically a Java virtual machine (JVM). This would let Ruby programs run on any hardware or software platform supported by a JVM, and would facilitate writing polyglot applications that used some Java and some Ruby, with developers free to choose whichever language was best for a particular task.

    • Good ciphers in OpenJDK
    • Don’t delete the same file in its own directory
    • Create a home button on the pause scene
    • Discovering the pathlib module

      The Python Standard Library is like a gold mine, and the pathlib module is really a gem.

    • QtCreator CMake for Android plugin

      It’s about QtCreator CMake for Android! I know it’s a strange coincidence between this article and The Qt Company’s decision to ditch QBS and use CMake for Qt 6, but I swear I started to work on this project *before* they announced it ! This plugin enables painless experience when you want to create Android apps using Qt, CMake and QtCreator. It’s almost as easy as Android Qmake QtCreator plugin! The user will build, run & debug Qt on Android Apps as easy as it does with Qmake.

    • Testing Your Code with Python’s pytest, Part II
    • Top Tips For Aspiring Web Developers

      As we’re a portal geared towards open-source development, we’re naturally going to bang the drum about the benefits of getting involved in open-source projects. There are so many fantastic open-source projects that are still going strong today – WordPress, Android and even Ubuntu/Linux to name but a few. Open source projects will give you direct hands-on experience, allowing you to build your own portfolio of work and network with other like-minded developers too.

    • Announcing Rust 1.31 and Rust 2018

      The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.31.0, and “Rust 2018″ as well. Rust is a programming language that empowers everyone to build reliable and efficient software.

    • A call for Rust 2019 Roadmap blog posts

      It’s almost 2019! As such, the Rust team needs to create a roadmap for Rust’s development next year.

    • Processing CloudEvents with Eclipse Vert.x

      Our connected world is full of events that are triggered or received by different software services. One of the big issues is that event publishers tend to describe events differently and in ways that are mostly incompatible with each other.

      To address this, the Serverless Working Group from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) recently announced version 0.2 of the CloudEvents specification. The specification aims to describe event data in a common, standardized way. To some degree, a CloudEvent is an abstract envelope with some specified attributes that describe a concrete event and its data.

Leftovers
  • Egypt investigates ‘pyramid nude photo shoot’

    Climbing the pyramids was banned in the 1980s after a number of tourists died attempting to scale them.

  • Science
    • 50 Years Later, We Still Don’t Grasp the Mother of All Demos

      Fifty years ago today, Doug Engelbart showed 2,000 people a preview of the future.

      Engelbart gave a demonstration of the “oN-Line System” at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco on Dec. 9, 1968. The oN-Line System was the first hypertext system, preceding the web by more than 20 years. But it was so much more than that. When Engelbart typed a word, it appeared simultaneously on his screen in San Francisco and on a terminal screen at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park. When Engelbart moved his mouse, the cursor moved in both locations.

      The demonstration was impressive not just because Engelbart showed off Google Docs-style collaboration decades before Google was founded. It was impressive because he and his team at SRI’s Augmentation Research Center had to conceive of and create nearly every piece of technology they displayed, from the window-based graphical interface to the computer mouse.

    • Screen Time Changes Structure of Kids’ Brains, ‘60 Minutes’ Says

      In brain scans of 4,500 children, daily screen usage of more than seven hours showed premature thinning of the brain cortex, the outermost layer that processes information from the physical world. Though the difference was significant from participants who spent less screen time, NIH study director Gaya Dowling cautioned against drawing a conclusion.

    • When algorithms go wrong we need more power to fight back, say AI researchers

      The report examines the social challenges of AI and algorithmic systems, homing in on what researchers call “the accountability gap” as this technology is integrated “across core social domains.” They put forward ten recommendations, including calling for government regulation of facial recognition (something Microsoft president Brad Smith also advocated for this week) and “truth-in-advertising” laws for AI products, so that companies can’t simply trade on the reputation of the technology to sell their services.

      Big tech companies have found themselves in an AI gold rush, charging into a broad range of markets from recruitment to healthcare to sell their services. But, as AI Now co-founder Meredith Whittaker, leader of Google’s Open Research Group, tells The Verge, “a lot of their claims about benefit and utility are not backed by publicly accessible scientific evidence.”

    • How a telescope forum feud ended with prison time

      Goodyear swore innocence at first, but after increasingly pointed questioning, he confessed. One of his accounts had been banned a couple of weeks ago, he said. In a sudden rage, he’d spammed the site with pornography, then posted its address on a site called HackForums.net, asking for someone to attack it. “I was just, like, what the fuck am I being banned for? I was just pissed,” he told his visitors — one from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and another from the Los Angeles Police Department. “I just went up in, just the heat of the moment.”

      His visitors seemed mildly amused by the forum drama, and he chatted with them about his $100,000 telescope collection before they left. But one year later, Goodyear was arrested. In December 2018, he was sentenced to more than two years in prison for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    • 5 Ways Your Phone Is Secretly Destroying Your Life

      For starters, infants and toddlers were found to be more emotionally distressed and less likely to explore their environments when their mothers were on their phones. In fact, excessive phone use was considered a form of “maternal withdrawal and unresponsiveness.”

      That problem continues into tweenhood, where 32 percent of children aged eight to 13 reported feeling unimportant when their parents used their phones during dinner, conversations, and other family occasions, and over half the children in the study felt that their parents used their phones too much in general. Another study suggested that kids were more likely to act out to get the attention of a phone-using parent, while the parents were more likely to be irritable in their responses, feeding a negative cycle.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Just pee in a cup for bladder cancer detection

      Now, scientists have figured out how to use atomic force microscopy (AFM) to detect bladder cancer in urine samples. By analyzing only five cells, it can achieve 94 percent accuracy.

    • Best Option For Funding Medicare For All May Be Employer Mandate

      One of the biggest political and technical hurdles standing in the way of Medicare for All is deciding how to pay for it, but voters have made clear there is one option they would support: simply requiring every employer to purchase Medicare (or equivalent) coverage for their employees.

      This is the least disruptive option. It is successfully used by other countries. Most importantly, it is the only idea that is both popular and can reasonably produce enough money to fund the program.

      In 2016, the United States spent more than $1.12 trillion on private insurance and another $352.5 billion on out-of-pocket expenses. It will be necessary to make up this roughly $1.4 trillion in either taxes, cost-sharing reforms, or new deficit spending in order to move toward a universal system with no or only nominal cost-sharing.

      A well-structured employer mandate is the only option with clear majority support which would produce enough revenue. Most importantly, the idea of an employer mandate has grown more popular in recent years—from 53 percent of Americans in favor in 2016, to 62 and 63 percent in 2017, to 69 percent just last month—even though it has been attacked aggressively by lobbying groups.

      In some polls, the employer mandate even scores slightly better than providing people subsidies to buy insurance or imposing higher taxes on rich people.

    • Experts Call For Global Accountability Mechanism For Access To Essential Medicines

      Global health experts, including senior officials at the World Health Organization, are calling for a global accountability mechanism for access to essential medicines, noting that a the lack of data on medicines affordability and national pharmaceutical expenditures has hindered this process, according a recent article published in UK medical journal The Lancet.

      “The focus of accountability should move away from measuring only availability of medicines towards the effectiveness, quality, and efficiency of patient-centred comprehensive primary care services, which encompasses equitable access to essential medicines,” they said.

      Authors include WHO Deputy Director General Mariângela Simão and WHO Director of Essential Medicines and Health Products Suzanne Hill, along with an array of academics and other experts.

      The article stated that “high-level discussions between WHO, the Lancet Commission, other UN agencies, and NGOs have led to the identification of four priorities to ensure the development of a global Accountability Mechanism for Access to Essential Medicines.”

    • Under Trump, More People Live Without Health Coverage

      The number of adults living in the United States without health coverage increased by more than half a million during President Trump’s first year in office, after steadily declining since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010 and began expanding health coverage for millions of people, according to data released Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

      Trump has promised to “blow up” the ACA and his administration has worked to weaken certain key provisions ever since Republicans in Congress failed to repeal and replace the health care law early 2017. The administration also drastically cut funding for and access to outreach programs that help people enroll in the ACA health coverage marketplace.

      The number of uninsured adults under the age of 65 declined dramatically from 44 million in 2013 to just below 27 million in 2016, as ACA provisions expanding Medicaid and offering subsidized insurance plans for people with lower incomes went into effect, according to the Kaiser report. In the first year after Trump took office in 2017, the number of adults living without health coverage increased by nearly 700,000, when about 10 percent of US residents reported living without health insurance.

    • ‘We Can’t Enact Our Agenda Without Seats at the Table’: Tens of Thousands Sign Petition Demanding Powerful Ways and Means Committee Seat for Ocasio-Cortez

      As the House’s key tax-writing body, as Common Dreams previously reported, Ways and Means will have enormous power over every central policy goal of the Democratic Party’s growing progressive wing—from Medicare for All to a Green New Deal to tuition-free public college.

      By vying for a seat on the powerful committee—a spot freshmen are almost never given—Ocasio-Cortez is taking on Wall Street Democrat Rep. Tom Suozzi (N.Y.), a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative.

  • Security
    • An evil Penguin grabs the persistence partition’s key of a friend’s Tails operating system
    • Pop the Box

      Let[s] talk a little about this box. In this HTB machine we will see only one port is open and that will be the http one , we will fireup the dirbuster to find the different files and directories inside that website. We will came to know about the phpbash file from where we will be getting code execution. After getting the ever shell we will enumerate more and will be able to find the way to escalate the privileges and became root. This time I have made two video[s] the first one will be on getting our first reverse shell on the box and the second one will be on how we will be able to escalate the privileges. Hope you guys will enjoy it. In last but not the least I have uploaded some file[s] from which you will be able to learn about bash scripting, python and you will learn about the cronjob working.

    • Linux 4.21 Will Better Protect Against Malicious Thunderbolt Devices

      Linux 4.21 is set to further improve the system security around potentially malicious Thunderbolt devices.

      The new protection with Linux 4.21 is the enabling of IOMMU-based direct memory access (DMA) protection from devices connected via Thunderbolt. PCI Express Address Translation Services (PCIe ATS) is also disabled to prevent possibly bypassing that IOMMU protection, per this pull.

    • Google to Shut Down Google+ 4 Months Earlier After Second Data Hack

      Google+ still hadn’t recovered from the data leak it suffered in October. And now it has to go through the same fortune yet again. The company today announced that a new security loophole found last month can impact 52.5 million users. The data of these users can be taken from the apps that use the API of Google+.

      The data of the 52.5 million users consists of their personal information like name, age, occupation, and email address. Even if the accounts are set on private, developers will be able to access the profile information due to the security bug. Even if the information was set to private, developers had easy access to the data of the users.

    • Expediting changes to Google+

      In October, we announced that we’d be sunsetting the consumer version of Google+ and its APIs because of the significant challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations, as well as the platform’s low usage.

      We’ve recently determined that some users were impacted by a software update introduced in November that contained a bug affecting a Google+ API. We discovered this bug as part of our standard and ongoing testing procedures and fixed it within a week of it being introduced. No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.

      With the discovery of this new bug, we have decided to expedite the shut-down of all Google+ APIs; this will occur within the next 90 days. In addition, we have also decided to accelerate the sunsetting of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019. While we recognize there are implications for developers, we want to ensure the protection of our users.

    • Google+ closure brought forward after more data leaks

      Google has advanced the date for shutting down its Google+ social network from August 2019 to April 2019, after discovering another bug that leaked the data of some 52.5 million users.

    • Google will shut down Google+ four months early after second data leak

      Google+ has suffered another data leak, and Google has decided to shut down the consumer version of the social network four months earlier than it originally planned. Google+ will now close to consumers in April, rather than August. Additionally, API access to the network will shut down within the next 90 days.

      According to Google, the new vulnerability impacted 52.5 million users, who could have had profile information like their name, email address, occupation, and age exposed to developers, even if their account was set to private. Apps could also access profile data that had been shared with a specific user, but was not shared publicly.

    • What’s the most secure operating system?

      Linux has a family of different free versions (known as distributions, or distros) to choose from, based on users’ computer skills. If you’re just getting started, check out Mint or Ubuntu. And because Linux is open-source, users can make copies of modified systems and give them away to friends in need.

    • Choose the Right VPN for Linux in 2019
    • Cryptomining campaign pulls new ‘Linux Rabbit’ malware out of its black hat [Ed: No, it's not ‘Linux Rabbit’ but ‘Weak Password Rabbit’; calling it Linux is rather misleading, distracts from the real problem.]
    • Linux malware: is it so hard to get it right? [Ed: Recognising Catalin Cimpaun for what he really is (and has always been): a clickbaiting troll. For CBS to employ him for ZDNet says a lot about the agenda.]

      Once again, so-called security researchers and tech writers have combined to provide misinformation about trojanised SSH scripts which can be run on a Linux server after said server is compromised through a brute-force attack and root status attained. And they call it Linux malware!
      Security firm ESET and ZDNet writer Catalin Cimpanu have both got it wrong in the past — the latter on numerous occasions as he simply does not seem to understand anything about the Linux security model — but both continue to persist in trying to pursue the topic. ESET has gone in the wrong direction on torrent files and clients too.

      Arguably, there is reason to do so: Linux and malware in the same headline do still serve as some kind of clickbait.

      [...]

      Cimpanu was more descriptive, but again made the same fundamental mistake. Malware can be created for any operating system, but the crucial question is how do you get it onto that system?

      [...]

      Cimpanu’s former employer, Bleeping Computer, was also prone to screw-ups of this nature. Here is the editor of Bleeping Computer, Lawrence Abrams, expounding on ransomware targeting Linux servers.

      But then Bleeping Computer is a relatively small operation. One would have thought that ZDNet, which has tons of resources, would have a little more editorial quality control.

    • Open Source Risk Continues to Challenge Organizations’ Software Security [Ed: Veracode reminds us that it’s nothing more but a propaganda campaign against FOSS, looking to make money in the process (pushing proprietary ‘solutions’). There’s also a Microsoft connection.]
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Ransomware still dominates the global threat landscape

      Ransomware attacks continues as the main world’s main security threat and the most profitable form of malware, but a new global report indicates that despite “copious” numbers of infections daily there’s emerging signs the threat is no longer growing.

    • Someone messed with Linux.org’s DNS to deface the website’s homepage [Ed: That's not "deface"' but more like redirect and it's not the site's DNS system but something upstream, another company that's at fault]

      SO IMAGINE YOU REALLY LOVE OPEN SOURCE; you’ve poured yourself a glass of claret from a wine box and have settled into a night of perusing Linux.org. You feel a tingle of excitement as you type in the URL – you’re old skool – but that sours to despair as you see a defaced website greet your eyes.

      Yep, it looks like someone managed to get into the Linux.org website’s domain name service (DNS) settings and point the domain to another server that served up a defaced webpage, which depending on when you may have accessed it, greeted visitors with racial slurs, an obscene picture and a protest against the revised Linux kernel developer code of conduct.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Dave Lindorff Explores the Pentagon’s Financial Mysteries

      Long-time investigative reporter Dave Lindorff explores the Pentagon’s financial mysteries, including massive unaccounted-for spending and decades of non-compliance with audit law.

    • This Is What It Looks Like When Imperialism Comes Home

      You have to hand it to him—the man has a way with words and he sure knows how to fire up his base. Early in November, President Donald Trump addressed a crowd of supporters in Montana, and he gushed with pride about his recent deployment of active-duty troops to the U.S. border with Mexico. The commander in chief bragged about the job his troops were doing in fending off the “invasion”—that isn’t an invasion at all, of course—from a “caravan” of asylum-seeking Central American migrants who were, at the time, 700 miles away. Regarding recent footage of those troops working on the border, he casually said he “noticed all that beautiful barbed wire going up today. Barbed wire, used properly, can be a beautiful sight.” Beauty, as they say, is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

      Now, at least for the next two months, Mr. Trump remains this soldier’s commander in chief, so I won’t remark on him or his general personality. Still, I was more than a little troubled by this astounding comment. It’s not just that these migrants are empirically not an invading force, generally not “armed,” and certainly not infused with “unknown Middle Easterners” (read: terrorists). And it’s not just that the United States is itself at least partially to blame for the refugee crisis infecting Central America. Nor is it that the sight of tear gas fired at women and children—in scenes reminiscent of the Gaza Strip—is more than a little distressing.

    • Border Patrol Arrests 32 at San Diego Demonstration

      U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 32 people at a demonstration Monday that was organized by a Quaker group on the border with Mexico, authorities said. Demonstrators were calling for an end to detaining and deporting immigrants and showing support for migrants in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers.

      A photographer for The Associated Press saw about a dozen people being handcuffed after they were told by agents to back away from a wall that the Border Patrol calls “an enforcement zone.” The American Friends Service Committee, which organized the demonstration, said 30 people were stopped by agents in riot gear and taken into custody while they tried to move forward to offer a ceremonial blessing near the wall.

    • Vladimir Putin Outmaneuvers the U.S. Yet Again

      Don’t look now, but Vladimir Putin has racked up another win in his latest skirmish with the west.

      The victory took place Nov. 25 in the Kerch Strait, the narrow strip of water separating the disputed Crimean Peninsula from the Russian mainland to the east. It occurred when the Russian coast guard fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels. As always, the details are in dispute, with the Ukrainians claiming that their boats informed the Russians about their plans to navigate the strait but received no reply and Russia saying the opposite.

      But there’s no doubt as to the result. By briefly closing the strait, Russia has demonstrated that it can restrict access at will to roughly half the Ukrainian coastline that lies within the Sea of Azov, including the economically vital ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk. Although Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko immediately called for Western intervention, it also demonstrated that there is little NATO can do in response.

      While expressing “full support” for Ukraine, the alliance said nothing about Poroshenko’s request that NATO ships force their way through the Kerch Strait in defiance of the blockade. The same goes for Ukraine’s call to Turkey to close off Russian naval access to the Dardanelles, the equally narrow body of water connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s only response was an offer to mediate.

    • The ADA Is Not Bush Sr.’s Legacy. It Belongs to Disability Activists.

      On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Introduced into the United States Congress in 1988, the ADA is widely recognized and commemorated by disabled people as landmark civil rights legislation and as the culmination of decades of grassroots organizing by disabled people and their allies.

      Together, the titles that comprise the ADA are designed to provide equal access to persons with disabilities and to bar discrimination against us in all areas of public life. While not a panacea for the oppression of all disabled people in the United States, the ADA has, for example, transformed many built environments in essential ways that make community living for disabled people more possible. Although often unrecognized, these modifications — such as curb cuts, ramps, closed captioning and audio-visual announcements on transit — benefit non-disabled people as well.

      The death of the former president on World AIDS Day 2018 has inspired a flurry of hagiographies, some penned by disability rights advocates, that feature the passage of the ADA as a prominent part of Bush’s legacy as a “kinder, gentler” leader. These reconfigurations of history, in which Bush is imagined as the engine of the disability rights movement, cast a long shadow on the struggle of disabled people and imperil disabled peoples’ activist movements today.

    • War Over Ukraine?

      Who wants to go to war against Russia in defense of Ukraine over the Kerch Strait, which lies between the Black and Azov seas and between Russia’s Taman Peninsula and Russian-annexed Crimea?

      [...]

      True, in a week or two, we noninterventionists may look as though we overreacted to the Kerch Strait “crisis.” But who knows? Why take a chance? War would be a catastrophe, maybe the biggest the world has ever seen. I’d rather overreact now than regret not having said anything later.

      The U.S. government has no businesses policing relations between Ukraine and Russia. Even if that role were appropriate for some party, the U.S. government would not be the one because it hardly has clean hands in the matter. Since the 1990s after the peaceful fall of the Soviet Union, Democratic and Republican presidents have threatened Russia by moving the anti-Soviet NATO alliance — which at the latest, should have ended with the fall — right up to Russia’s border, contrary to late President George H. W. Bush’s assurances, by incorporating former Soviet allies and republics.

    • AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?

      Amid the George HW Bush imperial death-orgy, the endless saga of Midtown Mussolini’s daily news cycle, the seemingly unprecedented political upsurge in France, and countless other show-stopping news stories, you likely missed three very sad, yet revealing, incidents out of the Sahel region of West-Central Africa.

      First, on November 18th, a massive offensive against a Nigerian military base by a faction of the Boko Haram terror group known as the Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) killed upwards of 100 soldiers. The surprise attack came at a time when Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who famously (and repeatedly) has declared victory against Boko Haram and terrorism, has faced a crisis of legitimacy, falling approval ratings, and an impending election in early 2019.

      Just days later, on November 22nd, while most Americans were gathering with family and eating turkey on Thanksgiving, a contingent of about 50 armed militants kidnapped at least 15 girls in Niger, just outside a town in the Diffa region, near the border with Nigeria. While Boko Haram did not officially claim responsibility, many have attributed the action to the terror group, or one of its factions, given their propensity to use kidnappings for propaganda and fundraising.

      And on the very same day, also in Diffa near the Niger-Nigeria border, suspected Boko Haram militants killed seven employees of Foraco, a French well drilling and mining company.

      This spate of deadly, and rather brazen, attacks on civilians along the Niger-Nigeria border paints a troubling picture of the continued instability of the region, and give the lie to the idea that counter-terrorism operations, ongoing for a number of years now, have put Boko Haram and other terror groups on the back foot.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • The Guardian’s WikiLeaks ‘expose’ only revealed its own incompetence

      Does The Guardian’s latest “expose” on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks — currently falling apart in real time — represent its greatest fail yet, in its long and tempestuous history with the Prisoner of Knightsbridge?

      Last week, the paper claimed that Assange had held secret meetings with Trump associate Paul Manafort all the way back in 2012. These deep background stories were soon discredited by embassy security officials of the time.

    • James Goodale, ’58: Former General Counsel of the New York Times and Famous First Amendment Lawyer on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

      It’s not a stretch to say that few people are disliked more within media circles than WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Yet with the news that Trump’s Justice Department has filed secret charges against him, the rights of many journalists who despise Assange may also hang in the balance.

      It’s still unclear what charges the Justice Department is bringing against Assange, who has lived under diplomatic protection in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past six years. But if the secret charges implicate any of WikiLeaks’ publishing activities, it could ironically be just the precedent the Trump administration needs to directly go after journalists at the New York Times and Washington Post.

      With that in mind, I recently spoke to James Goodale — the famed First Amendment lawyer and former general counsel the New York Times, who led the paper’s legal team in the famed Pentagon Papers case — about the dire impact the Justice Department’s move may have on press freedom, regardless of whether people consider Assange himself a “journalist.”

    • Assange now “insecure”

      According to the British government, they would never extradite a person to a country where his life is at risk. “He will spend a few months in jail, after that, freedom,” Moreno said. Assange faces a British arrest warrant over violating bail conditions by seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012, but Sweden, which originally sought to question him on sexual abuse allegations, has said it is no longer seeking to extradite him.

    • Truth and Free Speech Are Being Taken Away From Us

      The attack on Julian Assange is the arrow aimed at the heart of the ability to publish the truth.

    • Major players in Trump-Russia drama seek to dismiss DNC suit alleging international conspiracy

      A group of defendants — including the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and a member of President Donald Trump’s family — unleashed a wave of court filings late last week, a deluge of documents totaling more than 150 pages. It amounts to the most comprehensive legal defense yet presented in the Russia probe, seeking to have the Democrats’ case thrown out.

    • Trump Campaign, WikiLeaks Seek To Kill DNC Hacking Suit
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • By Accident of Fate: The Fires in Paradise

      I breathe dead people. The words ran unfettered across the chalkboard of my mind as I drove the curves of Oregon Route 66 back down into Ashland. It had taken nearly a week for the haze to blow north into our valley from the horrific and devastating Camp Fire that was burning three hours south.

      We experienced days and weeks of smoke in our valley this past summer so thick you couldn’t see the street signs. The haze I saw below wasn’t nearly as bad, but I was surprised how I hadn’t really noticed it until I got up out of it for the day. Sort of how it’s not as easy to see the forest when stuck in the trees.

      I chastised myself for the morbid words that flickered unbidden through my brain as I drove. But then I considered the possible truth of them. What are we actually breathing when so much goes up in flames?

    • The Dream of Capturing Coal’s Carbon Emissions Is Dead. Someone Should Tell Trump.

      This week, a Trump official at the U.S. government’s pro-fossil fuel event at the United Nations climate talks made clear that the idea of burying carbon emissions from coal plants is still alive.

      Wells Griffith, an advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), said at the event: “For the U.S. energy policy, it’s not about keeping [fossil fuels] in the ground but about using them cleanly.”

      Griffith added: “Alarmism should not silence realism. This is a forum for fact science-based discussions on climate realities.”

      His conclusions make for great talking points, but they’re far from reality. After more than a decade of failed demonstration projects, a recently rescinded $1.1 billion DOE research program, and the Trump administration’s move to roll back requirements that all new coal plants have “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) capabilities, the promise of so-called “clean coal” technology is dead.

    • As Uprising Spreads Across Globe, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky Among Signers of Open Letter Backing Extinction Rebellion

      After starting in the United Kingdom just months ago with a mere 10 members dedicated to pressuring their elected officials to urgently confront the climate crisis, the Extinction Rebellion has quickly ballooned into a global movement spanning an estimated 35 countries—a testament to the growing disaffection with the deadly climate status quo and hunger for transformative change among the world’s population.

      “In the two months since our first action, we have expanded more than we imagined,” Liam Geary Baulch, a U.K.-based Extinction Rebellion activist, told The Guardian. “We are now planning to change our structure so it can accommodate up to two million people.”

      In a sign of the movement’s rapid spread beyond the streets of London, Extinction Rebellion banners have been seen over the past several days at rallies in Katowice, Poland, the site of the ongoing COP24 climate conference. According to the movement’s principal organizers, the goal is to build up to a massive international day of action next April.

    • As Trump Pushes Planetary Destruction at COP24, Investors Holding $32 Trillion Demand Bold Climate Action

      As a new report reveals (pdf) that asset management behemoth BlackRock is continuing to finance “the destruction of our planet”—and the Trump administration pushes that path at the United Nations climate talks—hundreds of global investors holding $32 trillion in assets called for world leaders to commit to greater action to address the climate crisis.

      “The global shift to clean energy is underway, but much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society, and the financial system to climate risks,” a statement signed by 415 investors declared Monday as the COP24 climate summit was underway.

      The signers, including HSBC Global Asset Management, the New York State Comptroller, and Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System, warned of the potentially catastrophic “ambition gap” between the Paris climate accord goal of limiting warming to below 2˚ Celsius and what countries have committed to doing.

    • As Demand for Urgent Transformation Intensifies, New Study Shows Hotter Planet Making Extreme Weather Deadlier

      Titled “Explaining Extreme Events in 2017 from a Climate Perspective” and published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS), the series of new studies identify a total of 15 weather events that took place throughout the world last year that were made significantly more likely by the human-caused climate crisis, such as deadly heatwaves in China and catastrophic flooding from Uruguay to Bangladesh.

      “A warming Earth is continuing to send us new and more extreme weather events every year,” BAMS editor-in-chief Jeff Rosenfeld said in a statement. “The message of this science is that our civilization is increasingly out of sync with our changing climate.”

    • ‘We Gonna Rise Up, Rise Up ‘Til It’s Won!’: 140+ Arrested at Pelosi and Hoyer Offices as Youth-Led Protests Demand Green New Deal on Capitol Hill

      Before presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even appeared at her office to hear from young Americans who had traveled from all over the country to urge her to back a Green New Deal, Capitol police arrived Monday and arrested more than 60 of the protesters. As of this writing, at least 143 demonstrators had been arrested as they lobbied in 50 congressional offices.

      More than 1,000 young people and allies flooded the Capitol Hill hallways and offices of Democratic representatives to demand that elected officials listen to their youngest constituents—as well as some of the world’s top scientists—and back the bold proposal to shift the U.S. to a zero-carbon energy system by 2050 in order to save the planet from an irreversible climate catastrophe. Thanks to efforts spearheaded by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, the number of Democratic lawmakers now supporting a Select Committee on a Green New deal has now swelled to 23.

      “When the people rise up, the powers come back. They tried to stop us but we keep coming back,” sang the protesters as they occupied Pelosi’s office.

    • “Our Leaders Are Behaving Like Children”: Teen Climate Activist Confronts World Leaders at U.N. Summit

      Democracy Now! is broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, this week, where world leaders gathered to negotiate climate solutions were confronted last week by a teenage climate activist who says they are not doing enough to turn back the clock and prevent catastrophic climate change. Fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg stunned the world last week when she denounced world leaders for inaction and told them: “change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge. And since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.” She has made international headlines since launching a school strike against climate change in her home country of Sweden earlier this year. Every Friday, she protests outside the parliament building in Stockholm instead of attending school, and her actions have inspired thousands of students across the globe to do the same. Before we speak with Thunberg in person, we play an excerpt of her speech that went viral. “I like school, and I like learning,” said Greta, who plans to end her strike when Sweden starts cutting carbon emissions by 15 percent a year. “But why should we be studying for a future that soon may be no more? This is more important than school, I think.”

    • Climate Activists Arrested en Masse at Offices of Top Democrats

      Before presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even appeared at her office to hear from young Americans who had traveled from all over the country to urge her to back a Green New Deal, Capitol police arrived Monday and arrested more than 60 of the protesters. As of this writing, at least 143 demonstrators had been arrested as they lobbied in 50 congressional offices.

      More than 1,000 young people and allies flooded the Capitol Hill hallways and offices of Democratic representatives to demand that elected officials listen to their youngest constituents—as well as some of the world’s top scientists—and back the bold proposal to shift the U.S. to a zero-carbon energy system by 2050 in order to save the planet from an irreversible climate catastrophe. Thanks to efforts spearheaded by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, the number of Democratic lawmakers now supporting a Select Committee on a Green New deal has now swelled to 23.

      [...]

      Many also wore T-shirts emblazoned with the following message: “We have a right to good jobs and a livable future,” two key components of the Green New Deal, which would create 10 million jobs in the first decade by putting Americans to work building a green energy infrastructure that would be sustainable for decades and centuries to come—unlike the current coal-, oil-, and gas-reliant system which scientists say will push the warming of the planet past the point of return unless carbon emissions hit net-zero by 2050.

      The halls erupted in cheers when Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the incoming chair of the House Rules Committee, told the group that he would join 22 of his colleagues in backing the creation of a House Select Committee with a mandate to pass a Green New Deal.

    • ‘An Indication of What’s Coming’: Melting at North and South Poles Worse Than Previously Thought

      “The Arctic is an indication of what’s coming to the rest of the globe,” noted Walt Meier, a sea ice expert at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). And while the timeline is uncertain, the region appears on-track to experience an ice-free summer.

      “In the Arctic Ocean, a difference of 2 degrees can be huge. If it goes from 31 Fahrenheit to 33 Fahrenheit, you’re going from ice skating to swimming,” Meier told the Post. “Looking down from the North Pole from above, for all intents and purposes, you’re going to see a blue Arctic Ocean.”

      If ice-free summers become the Arctic’s new normal, it would be an “unmitigated disaster,” concluded Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a climate expert at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Such conditions, he warned, could add another half-degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) to the already-alarming rates of global temperature rise.

    • Climate Scientist: World’s Richest Must Radically Change Lifestyles to Prevent Global Catastrophe

      The 24th United Nations climate summit comes amid growing warnings about the catastrophic danger climate change poses to the world. In October, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that humanity has only a dozen years to mitigate climate change or face global catastrophe—with severe droughts, floods, sea level rise and extreme heat set to cause mass displacement and poverty. But on Saturday, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait blocked language “welcoming” the landmark IPCC climate report. New studies show global carbon emissions may have risen as much 3.7 percent in 2018, marking the second annual increase in a row. A recent report likened the rising emissions to a “speeding freight train.” We speak with Kevin Anderson, professor in climate change leadership at Uppsala University’s Centre for Environment and Development Studies, and 15-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg about the drastic action needed to fight climate change and the impact of President Trump on climate change activism.

    • Biological Annihilation

      been paying attention to what’s happening to the nonhuman life forms with which we share this planet, you’ve likely heard the term “the Sixth Extinction.” If not, look it up. After all, a superb environmental reporter, Elizabeth Kolbert, has already gotten a Pulitzer Prize for writing a book with that title.

      Whether the sixth mass species extinction of Earth’s history is already (or not quite yet) underway may still be debatable, but it’s clear enough that something’s going on, something that may prove even more devastating than a mass of species extinctions: the full-scale winnowing of vast populations of the planet’s invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants. Think of it, to introduce an even broader term, as a wave of “biological annihilation” that includes possible species extinctions on a mass scale, but also massive species die-offs and various kinds of massacres.

      Someday, such a planetary winnowing may prove to be the most tragic of all the grim stories of human history now playing out on this planet, even if to date it’s gotten far less attention than the dangers of climate change. In the end, it may prove more difficult to mitigate than global warming. Decarbonizing the global economy, however hard, won’t be harder or more improbable than the kind of wholesale restructuring of modern life and institutions that would prevent species annihilation from continuing.

      With that in mind, come along with me on a topsy-turvy journey through the animal and plant kingdoms to learn a bit more about the most consequential global challenge of our time.

    • The Arctic Just Had Its Hottest Five Years on Record, and It’s Only Getting Worse: Report

      Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released their Arctic Report Card this week, with the equivalent of failing grades for a critical marker of environmental health.

      The oldest and thickest ice in the region has declined by 95 percent, meaning, as The Washington Post reported Monday, that “the sea at the top of the world has already morphed into a new and very different state, with major implications not only for creatures such as walruses and polar bears but, in the long term, perhaps for the pace of global warming itself.”

      The age of the ice is directly related to its ability to protect the earth. “The younger the ice, the thinner the ice, the easier it is to go away,” Don Perovich, a scientist at Dartmouth who coordinated the sea ice section of the yearly report, told the Post. The thinner, younger ice may be able to regrow more easily, but as the Post notes, that’s not helpful for climate change: “It may not add much stability or permanence to the Arctic sea ice system if it just melts out again the next summer.”

  • Finance
    • Crypto Diehards Say Slump Is `Bump in the Road’ Before Growth
    • Crypto Market Crash Leaving Bankrupt Startups in its Wake

      Many of the companies are suffering because they kept a portion of their funds in digital assets, whether in tokens they sold through initial coin offerings or in Bitcoin and Ether, which served as the preferred means of exchange in the crypto world. As prices collapsed this year by more than 90 percent in some cases, and their so-called digital wallets thinned out, many developers found they couldn’t raise additional funding.

    • Jeff Bezos Earns [sic] More In 30 Seconds Than The Average Worker Makes In A Year

      Helped by the asset-friendly policies of the world’s largest central banks, the wealthiest 1% of the world now owns nearly half the wealth. The 54 billionaires living in the 54 UK alone have an aggregate $160 billion in wealth, equivalent to over 6% of Britain’s GDP. Meanwhile, the average worker earns about $37,000 a year. Virgin CEO Richard Branson earns that amount in roughly 25 minutes.

    • Uber Is Headed for a Crash

      By steamrolling local taxi operations in cities all over the world and cultivating cheerleaders in the business press and among Silicon Valley libertarians, Uber has managed to create an image of inevitability and invincibility. But the company just posted another quarter of jaw-dropping losses — this time over $1 billion, after $4.5 billion of losses in 2017. How much is hype and how much is real?

      [...]

      If Uber were to drive all competitors out of business in a local market and then jack up prices, customers would cut back on use. But more important, since barriers to entry in the taxi business are low, and Uber lowered them further by breaking local regulations, new players would come in under Uber’s new price umbrella. So Uber would have to drop its prices to meet those of these entrants or lose business.

    • Inequality at the Center of Chicago Charter School Strikes

      Chicago teachers are making history again. Educators at Acero Schools have just reached a tentative deal with their employer after staging the first charter school strike in the nation. After nearly a week of walkouts, the teachers will return to the classroom after the charter network agreed to raises, smaller class sizes, and protections for undocumented students.

      The more than 500 educators who walked out last week are members of a charter division of the Chicago Teachers Union, or CTU, which staged a hugely influential strike in 2012 that hit a national nerve. And, like with the 2012 strike, a whole host of inequality-related issues were brought front and center by the walkout, from school closings to executive pay and immigration.

      Most of the teachers’ demands centered on improving learning conditions in the classroom. Reductions in the 32-student class size, increased special education funding, and more time for lesson planning were just a few of the issues at play. Educators were also pushing for raises — a CTU statement said that Acero was spending $1 million less in program salary costs in 2018 than it did in the previous year.

    • Brexit Deal in Turmoil as May Postpones Parliament Vote

      Facing almost certain defeat, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday postponed a vote in Parliament on her Brexit deal, saying she would go back to European Union leaders to seek changes to the divorce agreement.

      May’s move threw Britain’s Brexit plans into disarray, intensified a domestic political crisis and battered the pound. With EU officials adamant the withdrawal deal was not up for renegotiation, the country does not know on what terms it will leave — and whether May will still be Britain’s leader when it does.

      In an emergency statement to the House of Commons, May accepted that the divorce deal she struck last month with EU leaders was likely to be rejected “by a significant margin” if the vote were held Tuesday as planned.

      May said she would defer the vote so she could seek “assurances” from the EU and bring the deal back to Parliament. She did not set a new date for the vote. The U.K.’s departure is supposed to take place on March 29.

      Opposition lawmakers — and ones from May’s Conservative Party — were incredulous and angry. Some accused her of trampling on parliamentary democracy.

      “The government has lost control of events and is in complete disarray,” Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said.

    • ‘The System Is Shaken’: As Yellow Vests Persist in France, Macron Bends With Minimum Wage Hike and Pension Tax Canceled

      Following four weeks of “Yellow Vest” protests which have erupted into violence at times, French President Emmanuel Macron indicated Monday that his government can no longer ignore the demands of hundreds of thousands of citizens—announcing a minimum wage increase and a cancellation of a tax on retirees, but still refusing to relent on one of his most widely-criticized tax reforms.

      In a pre-recorded televised address, Macron told the country that the minimum wage would be raised by €100, or $113, per month. As part of the “concrete measures” he said must happen to alleviate the suffering of low- and middle-income French households, a planned tax on pensions under €2,000 will be canceled and overtime pay will be tax-free.

      The announcement follows weeks of protests which first began in rural areas but have spread across the country, with Parisian officials calling for a lockdown over the weekend after more than 100,000 protesters poured into the city’s streets. More than 1,200 demonstrators were arrested on Saturday.

    • May Should Admit That Brexit Has Failed

      Facing a historic defeat for her Brexit deal in Parliament, British Prime Minister Theresa May has, almost unbelievably, managed to make things worse.

      In a speech before the House of Commons on Monday, May postponed a vote on the deal and vowed to reopen talks with the European Union on the most contentious aspect of the whole undertaking, the Irish border. She offered few specifics, little direction, and only the haziest of timelines. To call this the worst of all worlds is only a slight exaggeration.

      It had been clear for weeks that May’s deal — hard fought over months of negotiation — was facing a landslide rejection in the House of Commons. And rightly so: It would stunt Britain’s economy, burden its companies, and infringe its sovereignty, offering essentially no benefits and solving no problems. Everyone hated it.

      Even so, proceeding with the vote had a certain logic. It would have allowed Parliament to reject the deal, and cleared the way for work to begin on alternatives. The country and its voters would have been offered at least the possibility of a way forward. What they got instead was yet more paralysis.

    • How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card

      The Venezuelan government has promoted a Social Benefits Card to facilitate the distribution of goods and services at a time when the country is beset by a pernicious financial blockade that makes it difficult to access food and medicine.

      The sanctions applied against Venezuela by the USA, Canada and European allies are ILLEGAL. They violate the Charter of the UN and the charter of the OAS. But that has not stopped these countries and their corporations – their one desire is to get hold of the country’s oil and gold.

      Instead of implementing “austerity” policies, the Bolivarian government of Venezuela has, on the contrary, used every means possible to mitigate the impact of this blockade on its people. In order to efficiently distribute benefits, it is necessary – as logic and good sense indicates- to have an accurate idea of how many people need what services and how many access them. Hence the social benefit card, or as it is called there El Carnet de la Patria (literally, the ID of the Homeland).

      Any Venezuelan can obtain this card – there are no restrictions of any kind, no one is asked whom they voted for, who they will vote for, what party they belong to, or their opinion of the government. It is a free card to all. It is an instrument to help the public services cater to the people’s needs.

    • How the IRS Was Gutted

      In the summer of 2008, William Pfeil made a startling discovery: Hundreds of foreign companies that operated in the U.S. weren’t paying U.S. taxes, and his employer, the Internal Revenue Service, had no idea. Under U.S. law, companies that do business in the Gulf of Mexico owe the American government a piece of what they make drilling for oil there or helping those that do. But the vast majority of the foreign companies weren’t paying anything, and taxpaying American companies were upset, arguing that it unfairly allowed the foreign rivals to underbid for contracts.

      Pfeil and the IRS started pursuing the non-U.S. entities. Ultimately, he figures he brought in more than $50 million in previously unpaid taxes over the course of about five years. It was an example of how the tax-collecting agency is supposed to work.

      But then Congress began regularly reducing the IRS budget. After 43 years with the agency, Pfeil — who had hoped to reach his 50th anniversary — was angry about the “steady decrease in budget and resources” the agency had seen. He retired in 2013 at 68.

      After Pfeil left, he heard that his program was being shut down. “I don’t blame the IRS,” Pfeil said. “I blame the Congress for not giving us the budget to do the job.”

    • Robert Reich: Trump’s Tax Policy Risks Global Recession

      I needn’t remind you that your Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed last year, slashed taxes on big corporations and the rich by about $150 billion annually. You claimed it would cause companies to invest more in America and thereby create more American jobs. They didn’t. (See General Motors.)

      They spent most of their tax savings buying back their own shares of stock. This gave the stock market a steroidal boost. Not surprisingly, the boost was temporary. Last week the stock market erased all its gains for 2018, and worse may be in store. The whole American economy is slowing.

      Your tariffs could put us into a recession. The world’s other big economies are slowing, too. In 1930, congressmen Smoot and Hawley championed isolationist tariffs that President Herbert Hoover signed into law. They deepened the Great Depression.

    • Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression

      My views on these matters were first put forward in a blog post titled “Did World War Two End the Great Depression”, written in September, 2011. It cited a Paul Krugman Op-Ed piece written in 2008 and titled “Franklin Delano Obama?”. Krugman made the case that “What saved the economy, and the New Deal, was the enormous public works project known as World War II, which finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy’s needs.” With respect to the public works projects mentioned by Al Ronzoni, Krugman described them as “largely offset by other factors, notably a large tax increase, enacted by Herbert Hoover, whose full effects weren’t felt until his successor took office.”

      In Krugman’s view, FDR was someone who “thought he was being prudent by reining in his spending plans.” Sounds rather like Obama, doesn’t it? In fact, Krugman’s op-ed was a cautionary tale warning Obama, the supposed new FDR, not to be as tightfisted with government-funded recovery programs as occurred during the New Deal unless he wanted to take “big risks with the economy and with his legacy.”

      Well, given the high costs of another world war (after all, those H-Bombs can make a real mess of things), Obama didn’t even create a public works program—the only option open to him. In fact, as I have argued, Obama was inspired more by Herbert Hoover than FDR. As someone who relied heavily on U. of Chicago economists, he was not likely to embark on a new New Deal despite all the advice he got from Paul Krugman, The Nation Magazine, Huffington Post, et al.

      While I found Krugman’s arguments convincing, they lacked the economic data that would “close the deal” on how the Depression ended. In the December 1994 Journal of Economic History, there’s an article by J.R. Vernon titled “World War II Fiscal Policies and the End of the Great Depression” that is the standard against which FDR New Deal nostalgia must be measured. (Vernon’s article can be downloaded from https://www.researchgate.net/.)

      Vernon starts off by presenting statistics that make it abundantly clear that fully half of the recovery from the depths of 1933 were realized in just two years: 1941 and 1942. Using Department of Commerce data, Vernon makes the case that the recovery was 78.7 to 86.7 percent complete by the end of 1941 but only half-complete (40.8 to 46.0) by the end of 1940. when the recovery still had more than halfway to go.

    • The Yellow Vests Rise Up Against the Elites and Neoliberal Austerity

      While Americans have been preoccupied by the nostalgic reminiscence and burial of a former president, French citizens have been engaged in mass civil disobedience enacted by the gilets juanes or “Yellow Vests,” the roadside safety vests French drivers are required to have. This action reflects and exposes social divisions barely recognized and inadequately addressed by both the neoliberal corporate right and the traditional social democratic parties, both in the U.S. and in France.

      To put this dispute into terms American drivers would understand the government of President Emmanuel Macron proposed a hike of 28 cents per gallon for diesel and 17 cents per gallon for gasoline. Though these taxes were the immediate trigger, the context in which this policy was imposed made the difference. In domestic economic policy Macron has been a smoother French version of Donald Trump. The tax on diesel followed a whole series of tax gifts to the most wealthy French citizens and businesses, including elimination or reduction of estate and wealth taxes as well as the replacement of a progressive income tax with a flat tax. These tax policies were a neoliberal dream that had already become a nightmare for working class citizens.

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls Out Congress For Giving Themselves Cheap Healthcare

      Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had some choice words about the U.S. healthcare system after comparing what she’s paying now as a Congresswoman to what she paid as a waitress for her healthcare plan — and she’s on a mission to reform it all.

      Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, said during her on-boarding to Congress, she was allowed to pick her insurance plan. In doing so, the disparity of what she used to pay earning far less money became quite clear.

      “As a waitress, I had to pay more than TWICE what I’d pay as a member of Congress,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s frustrating that Congressmembers would deny other people affordability that they themselves enjoy.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Hightower Hits a Wall

      Not so this week, when Creators editor Maxine Mulvey called Hightower staffer Melody Byrd and told her they wouldn’t be distributing the Nov. 27 column entitled, “Free the free press from Wall Street plunderers.” Byrd says Mulvey told her she liked the column, but that Creators could not risk retaliation from two named “plunderers”: Gatehouse Media and Digital First Media. Together the two mega-corps own some 1,500 newspapers (Gatehouse recently acquired the Austin-American Statesman), many of which use Creators’ material.

      Here’s some of what Hightower wrote about the companies: “They know nothing about journalism and care less, for they’re ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast by slashing the journalistic and production staffs of each paper, voiding all employee benefits (from pensions to free coffee in the breakroom), shriveling the paper’s size and news content, selling the presses and other assets, tripling the price of their inferior product – then declaring bankruptcy, shutting down the paper, and auctioning off the bones before moving on to plunder another town’s paper.” (For background, Hightower cites the Dec. 27, 2017 American Prospect story, “Saving the Free Press from Private Equity.”)

    • Syndicated columnist censored for writing about the risks of hedge funds and billionaires buying papers

      Jim Hightower is a longstanding, respected columnist distributed by Creators Syndicate — but Creators refused to distribute his latest column, “Free the Free Press from Wall Street Plunderers,” which warns about Wall Street vultures like Digital First Media and GateHouse Media buying up newspapers, including the Austin Statesman.

      The Austin Chronicle reports that Creators wouldn’t distribute the column because it feared retribution from the Wall Street firms; Creators managing editor Simone Slykhous told the Chronicle that “We have more than 200 columnists and cartoonists, and our job is to make sure that our actions do not negatively impact them.”

    • The Empress of Facebook: My Befuddling Dinner With Sheryl Sandberg

      The Facebook of 2013 is now a distant memory. As 2018 comes to a close—a “low dishonest” time, as Auden said of the 1930s—that high-flying, hardly working, nap-besotted, righteous Facebook has given way to one known for secrecy and collaboration with disinformation campaigns and computational propaganda. The purpose of these campaigns at Facebook, in the words of the Oxford Internet Institute at Balliol College, is to “hack people.”

      Hacking us. Not connecting us. I deactivated my Facebook account a year and a half ago, and at the same time sold the few shares of Facebook stock I’d bought to be a good sport on the day of the IPO. Sandberg’s credible moral superiority; her pose as a billionaire basic; and her obsession with eucalyptus-scented lifestyle questions had made me wonder, as far back as 2013, about the leadership at Facebook.

      We can’t remind ourselves enough: With 2.27 billion citizens, Facebook is by far the biggest empire the world has ever known. As with the British one—but more so—it’s inconceivable that the sun could ever set on it. Its users spend 950 million hours on it every day. The social, economic, and political lives of 2.27 billion users depends at least in part on Facebook’s policies, practices, and design. The moral responsibility of its leaders is crushing.

    • To Rebuild Trust, Facebook’s Zuckerberg Looked to Microsoft
    • Mark Zuckerberg has reached out to Microsoft president Brad Smith which is bad for Sandberg because… that’s basically her job

      Smith and Sandberg’s roles aren’t exactly the same, with each executive overseeing a slightly different portfolio of responsibilities. But Smith and Sandberg both essentially serve as the No.2 executive, alongside the CEO.

    • Kushner didn’t stop advising Saudi crown prince after Jamal Khashoggi murder

      Kushner’s attitude toward the Saudi crown prince is directly at odds with the stance articulated by United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley in an interview with The Atlantic published last week. Despite her plans to leave the administration, Haley is perceived as being on good terms with President Trump and his inner circle.

    • Full transcript reveals slain journalist Khashoggi’s last words: CNN

      Khashoggi, whose October death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul set off an international diplomatic crisis, protested and gasped for air as he was abducted and killed by a group of Saudi agents, some of whom have been identified as top Saudi government officials, the source told CNN.

    • New York Times: Kushner offered advice to Saudi crown prince after journalist’s death

      Although White House protocol stipulated that National Security Council staff be present on all phone calls with foreign leaders, Kushner and bin Salman continued to chat informally after Khashoggi’s death, the Times reported, citing two former senior American officials and two people briefed by the Saudis.

    • Beto O’Rourke Is Like Obama. That’s Not Necessarily a Good Thing

      Despite narrowly losing his Senate campaign, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke has clearly emerged from the 2018 election cycle as a rising star. In the weeks since Election Day, the spotlight on the Texas congressman has only intensified.

      The race had scarcely been called for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz when the speculation began about what O’Rourke would do next, and it didn’t take long for plenty of Democrats to imagine O’Rourke as a possible presidential contender in 2020. The national media followed closely behind.

      Earlier this month, no less a personality than podcaster, former Obama staffer and liberal tastemaker Dan Pfeiffer published “The Case for Beto O’Rourke.” His argument why O’Rourke should run for president: an ability to inspire enthusiasm among voters; the potential to build a winning national coalition; his au courant approach to fundraising and social media. Or, as one major donor put it more bluntly to Politico: “He’s Barack Obama, but white.”

    • Secret Scottish-based office led infowars attack on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn

      A secret UK Government-funded infowars unit based in Scotland sent out social media posts attacking Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

      On the surface, the cryptically named Institute for Statecraft is a small charity operating from an old Victorian mill in Fife.

      But explosive leaked documents passed to the Sunday Mail reveal the organisation’s Integrity Initiative is funded with £2million of Foreign Office cash and run by military intelligence specialists.

      The “think tank” is supposed to counter Russian online propaganda by forming “clusters” of friendly journalists and “key influencers” throughout Europe who use social media to hit back against disinformation.

    • Russia linked to hacking of anti-propaganda initiative

      British intelligence officers are investigating a hack into a government-funded programme that counters Russian propaganda, The Times understands.

      The National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ, has launched an inquiry into digital breaches several weeks ago of the Institute for Statecraft.

      Russian media said last month that the hacker collective Anonymous had obtained documents from the Integrity Initiative — an anti-disinformation programme run by the institute — that proved it was part of a hybrid warfare project to interfere in other countries.

    • Where There’s Smock There’s Covfefe

      Laughter Is the Best Medicine Followed By Impeachment and Jail Time Dept: A terrible no good day for our spectacularly inept, perilously insecure “president” for whom mockery is the ultimate threat. First, his peeps were laughed/shamed off the stage at UN climate talks in Poland, where protesters eviscerated their claims that “unapologetic utilization” of “clean” coal, oil and gas is our future. Then, in his frantic Denial of the Day – on Twitter, of course, the new site for all presidential policy briefings – Trump arguably admitted to two felonies, offered a legal defense widely deemed “beyond unconvincing,” and did it with spelling errors that many commenters argued – and confirmed by asking their kids – fourth graders wouldn’t stoop to. “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion,” he blathered, going on to huff and puff about “a simple private transaction” and anyway Obama did it (not).

      Cue the quickly trending hashtag Smocking Gun, full of bad sewing puns, digs at Trump’s best words, and reminders the guy who keeps loudly, lamely protesting his innocence has again moved the proverbial goal post from “I didn’t do anything” to “even if I did, so what?” His idiocy, it is universally agreed, “makes a smockery of” our democracy, the presidency and basic literacy: “I always hope that it’s a parody account and it never is…Can I buy a smocking gun without a background check?…Dude what r U smocking???…It was #ScottFree with the #SmockingGun in the #Covfefe room… Smocky the Bear warned us about this. Only you can prevent re-electing dumb ass presidents.” To help us resist, the Washington Post Fact Checker has added a new mendacity rating for Trump, the “Bottomless Pinocchio,” for formerly 3 or 4 star lies repeated at least 20 times. So far, Trump has 14 whoppers that made the list. Meanwhile, even Fox News pundit Judge Andrew Napolitano actually said out loud that Trump may face indictments. Trump, Giuliani et al, he warned, “mock the government at their peril,” smocking gun or no.

    • Can a New Political Party Save America From Itself?

      When it comes to criticizing the Democratic Party, nothing speaks like experience within the belly of the beast. Ralph Nader is living proof. After years of effectively pressuring congressional Democrats to protect consumers and the environment against corporate greed, he watched firsthand as the party bowed to the demands of Big Business during the Jimmy Carter administration.

      And then there’s Nick Brana, the leading activist behind the Movement for a People’s Party (MPP). Like Nader, Brana isn’t content merely to expose the corruption of the dismal dollar Democrats—a party that late political scientist Sheldon Wolin rightly called “the inauthentic opposition.” He’s looking to replace them with something much better: let’s call it an “authentic opposition.”

      Don’t let his tender age of 29 fool you. Brana has served his time served his time inside the belly of the beast that is the Democratic donkey, first as a volunteer for Barack Obama and later as a member of John Kerry’s political action committee. These experiences gave him a front-row seat to the “quid pro quo” between concentrated wealth and elected officials.

      Brana later served as the deputy director for voter protection of close Clinton ally and top Democratic Party fundraiser Terry McAuliffe’s successful 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign. It was, in his words, “a test run for the [2016] Hillary Clinton campaign.” There, Brana got to know future Clinton campaign chief Robby Mook and other high-ranking Clinton staffers.

    • Everybody Loves Redistricting Reform

      2018 was a banner year for redistricting reform, with voters in five states — Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah — putting limits on extreme partisan gerrymandering.

      Not surprisingly, the reforms were especially popular among Democrats, who have been on the receiving end of gerrymandering this decade. But the measures also earned wide backing from Republicans, winning with more than 60 percent support in four of the five states.

      To understand how the measures did among voters, we analyzed the approval rate in each county and compared support for reform with votes cast in a statewide partisan election. Our preliminary analysis makes it clear that these proposals did strikingly well among Republicans, far outperforming candidates of either party in nearly every instance.

      In other words, while the political class may still be divided along partisan lines about fixing gerrymandering, voters aren’t. The American people are strongly in favor of efforts to reform how redistricting is conducted in the states so that partisan lawmakers don’t have unfettered control of the process.

    • Democrats’ 2020 battle royale is going to be brutal, dirty, and totally worthwhile

      Jostling for position in the 2020 Democratic primary has started already, God help us. And there is probably no way around a bitter fight between liberals and leftists over who is going to be the nominee.

      However, it might be possible to head off some of the bitterness that resulted from the 2016 primary by admitting the necessity of that fight and making it about ideology and policy to the greatest possible degree.

      The first big flare-up of 2020 has already happened, over Beto O’Rourke. The failed Texas senate candidate got a ton of positive media attention during his campaign, leading to him being put forward by former Obama staffers as a good presidential candidate. Various lefties expressed some skepticism of this: Zaid Jilani and Branko Marcetic focused on his moderate policy record, particularly his support of financial deregulation, while I focused on how neither O’Rourke nor his Obamaworld supporters have deeply reckoned with the appalling consequences of the too-small stimulus or the corrupt bank bailout.

      It really got going when Elizabeth Bruenig wrote a much more gentle criticism in The Washington Post. She argued that while O’Rourke is well above average when it comes to a possible Texas Democratic senator, he isn’t the kind of full-throated progressive we should ask for, since about anyone should be able to defeat Trump.

    • As Schumer and Pelosi Offer Up $1.3 Billion, Progressives Say ‘Not One Dime’ Should Go to Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda

      With House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) reportedly preparing to offer President Donald Trump $1.3 billion for his brutal anti-immigrant agenda during a scheduled budget meeting Tuesday morning, that was the message from Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who joined other progressives in warning the Democratic leadership against capitulating to the Trump administration’s xenophobic border policies—and argued the amount of funding they should offer is zero.

      “If anything,” Ocasio-Cortez added in her tweet, “they need to fund healthcare for the children they have traumatized (with lifelong implications) after months of separation from their parents.”

    • See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White

      It is hard to watch TV these days without seeing reports pertaining to the recent death of the elder George Bush — former president, CIA director, and whitewashed war criminal. I call him a “whitewashed war criminal” because there are inconvenient truths that the mainstream media would rather ignore in favor of the usual hero worship that accompanies the death of a popular politician (see also: coverage on the death of John McCainor, even more egregiously, Richard Nixon). Sprucing up our departed politicians, disgraced or otherwise, seems to be a nod to our most respected civil discourse values, but it’s not a favor to the truth and the whitewashing only makes it more likely to happen again.

      Perhaps the most inconvenient truth relating to war crimes of Bush the Elder involves Panama in 1989. Under the guise of protecting democracy, then-President Bush illegally invaded a sovereign nation that posed no threat to the United States, calling it “Operation Just Cause,” in order to remove its ruler — with disastrous results. The U.S. government acknowledges that at least 300 Panamanian civilians were killed, but other sources have estimated that as many as several thousand were killed with tens of thousands displaced. At best you could call it an overreaction to Noriega’s involvement in drug trafficking and a peculiar form of democracy promotion. The era of slaughtering civilians as acceptable collateral damage is over in the eyes of international law and simple decency. Bush could have resolved that contretemps without Panamanian children and other noncombatants dying.

    • The Bad Ideas-Industrial Complex

      One of the integral components of Beltway ecology, along with the Pentagon, intelligence spooks, contractors, and lobbyists, is the think tank. Whether it’s called a foundation, an institute or a trust, it’s not only as important as the other big players, it synergizes with them and cements their power. And since the think tank is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 “charitable” or “educational” pursuit, it operates with an implicit taxpayer subsidy.

      Think tanks have been a part of the American scene since the early 20th century, when passage of the income tax motivated the super-rich to shield their money from the revenooers with some ostensibly do-gooding activity. Some of the major ones performed undeniably laudable works, such as the Rockefeller Foundation’s medical research, but from the beginning, even the highly prestigious foundations, such as Carnegie and Ford, engaged in studies that inevitably impacted the politics of the day.

      That said, the Washington think tank world, at least through mid-1960s, was a mostly gentile and prestigious activity whose directorships were suitable for the political elite. McGeorge Bundy, national security adviser to presidents Kennedy and Johnson, left government to become president of the Ford Foundation, while Dean Rusk, secretary of state in both administr

    • In Major Victory for Progressives, Democratic Leadership Abandons Tax Rule That Would Have Made Bold Agenda Impossible

      In a major victory for the growing Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and everyone who supports popular solutions like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and tuition-free public college, the House Democratic leadership on Tuesday ditched plans to impose a widely denounced right-wing tax rule that would have made a bold agenda impossible to fund.

      “We are pleased to announce that the rules package for the 116th Congress will not include the 3/5 supermajority tax provision promoted by House Republicans in recent years,” the CPC wrote on Twitter. “The removal of this harmful provision will help progressives pass college for all, Medicare for All, and other bold proposals that will deliver meaningful relief for working families.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • ‘A Cowardly Act’: Democrat Leads Bipartisan Push to Sneak Criminalization of Pro-Palestinian BDS Campaign Into Must-Pass Spending Bill

      If passed, the measure would strike a significant blow against the growing Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) movement, which has been endorsed by two newly-elected Democratic members of Congress—Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

      “Regardless of how anyone may personally feel about BDS, Congress’ attempts to attach criminal penalties to freedom of expression against the Israeli occupation must not stand,” Iram Ali, campaign director at MoveOn.org, said in a statement on Monday. “Hiding anti-BDS legislation in end-of-the-year packages is a cowardly act and one that is being considered only because members of Congress know that this legislation would not pass muster if debated publicly and openly.”

      When Cardin’s bill was introduced in the Senate last year, it was co-sponsored by 42 Republicans, Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine), and 15 Democrats—including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

    • CNN Must Rehire Pundit Who Defended Democratic Rights

      As Marc Lamont Hill delivered his widely discussed speech at the United Nations on November 28, in which he expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people and emphasized the need to protect the human rights and self-determination of all who lived “from the river to the sea,” he probably expected some critical response. What he likely didn’t expect was to be fired from his position as a CNN commentator, and to have his job as a professor at Temple University threatened.

    • Congress Is Trying to Use the Spending Bill to Criminalize Boycotts of Israel and Other Countries

      Congress is trying to sneak an unconstitutional ban on political expression into the spending bill in order to avoid public scrutiny.
      According to recent reports, congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle are planning to sneak a bill criminalizing politically motivated boycotts of Israel into the end-of-the-year omnibus spending bill.

      The bill’s original sponsor, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), is pushing Democratic leadership to include this bill, which has not moved forward thus far primarily because it violates the First Amendment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are reportedly leaning toward slipping the text into the spending bill, which needs to pass for the government to stay open.

      The ACLU has long opposed the Israel Anti-Boycott Act through its multiple iterations because the bill would make it a crime to participate in political boycotts protected by the First Amendment. Now, the bill’s sponsors are attempting to avoid public scrutiny by including the bill’s unconstitutional criminal penalties in must-pass legislation scheduled for a vote just days before Congress’ holiday recess — likely because it will be harder to pass in the new Congress.

      Earlier versions of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act would have made it a crime — possibly even subject to jail time — for American companies to participate in political boycotts aimed at Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories when those boycotts were called for by international governmental organizations like the United Nations. The same went for boycotts targeting any country that is “friendly to the United States” if the boycott was not sanctioned by the United States.

    • 5 Questions Congress Should Ask Google’s Sundar Pichai

      On Tuesday, Pichai will testify before the House Judiciary Committee in a hearing focused on transparency, data collection, and filtering. Until now, Pichai has mostly avoided the public lashings in Washington that his contemporaries, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, have received. In September, Google declined to send either Pichai or Larry Page, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, to testify alongside Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senators instead vented their frustrations with Google to an empty chair, artfully reserved with a name plate for Page.

      Pichai has since held closed door meetings with leading Republicans, including House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, who has repeatedly accused Google of skewing its search results in favor of Democrats and their causes. Both McCarthy and Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte have signaled that these charges will be central to the committee’s questioning.

    • Human Rights Groups Blast Google for ‘Actively Aiding China’s Censorship and Surveillance Regime’

      The letter (pdf) came ahead of Pichai’s Tuesday morning testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Google’s data collection, use, and filtering practices. His prepared remarks (pdf) read, “I’m incredibly proud of what Google does to empower people around the world, especially here in the U.S.”

      Digital rights defenders, meanwhile, are concerned about the company’s plans to launch a censored search engine in China, warning that it “is likely to set a terrible precedent for human rights and press freedoms worldwide.”

      Signed by 61 groups—including Amnesty International, the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), and Human Rights Watch—as well as 11 individuals that include NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the letter points to a series of reports from The Intercept that detail how the project “would facilitate repressive state censorship, surveillance, and other violations affecting nearly a billion people in China.”

    • Human rights groups press Google on China plans ahead of Pichai testimony

      “We are writing to ask you to ensure that Google drops Project Dragonfly and any plans to launch a censored search app in China, and to re-affirm the company’s 2010 commitment that it won’t provide censored search services in the country,” the letter, which is addressed to Pichai, begins.

    • Google CEO Has Serious Questions to Answer on China Censored Search

      Google CEO Sundar Pichai will appear before Congress later today to defend his company against allegations of political bias. Google is accused of rigging search engine results against US conservatives, so Pichai can expect the grilling to focus on Google’s domestic operations. But given some of Google’s current activities further afield, lawmakers in Washington would be wise to broaden the scope of their inquiry.

    • Human Rights Groups to Sundar Pichai: Listen to Your Employees and Halt Project Dragonfly

      EFF, as part of a coalition of over sixty other human rights groups led by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International —still have questions for Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO. Leaks and rumors continue to spread from Google about “Project Dragonfly,” a secretive plan to create a censored, trackable search tool for China. Media reports based on sources from within the company have stated that the project was being readied for a rapid launch, even as it was kept secret even from Google’s own security and privacy experts.

      These stories undermine the vague answers we were given in previous correspondence. On the eve of Pichai being called before the House Judiciary Committee, we have re-iterated our profound concern, and jointly called upon Google to halt Project Dragonfly completely.

      Silicon Valley companies know how dangerous it can be to enter markets without considering the human rights implications of what they do. A decade ago, following Yahoo’s complicity in the arrest and detention of journalist Shi Tao, and Google’s own fumbles in creating a Great Firewall-compatible search service, companies like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo agreed to work with independent experts in the Global Network Initiative to stave off the use of new technology to conduct human rights violations. Members of the U.S. Congress concerned about Google and other tech companies’ co-operation with other governments, have been supportive of this open, cautious approach.

      But under Pichai’s leadership, Google appears to have ignored not just outside advice; the company has apparently ignored the advice of its own privacy and security experts. An Intercept article based on statements made by four people who worked on Project Dragonfly noted that Google’s head of operations in China “shut out members of the company’s security and privacy team from key meetings about the search engine … and tried to sideline a privacy review of the plan that sought to address potential human rights abuses.”

    • China has established an ethics committee to vet online games

      China has established a new ‘ethics assessment committee’ to vet online games for release in the country.

      As reported by state media agency Xinhua, the committee is comprised of online gaming experts and researchers from government departments, industry institutions, and media outlets.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • When Not Hiding Cameras In Traffic Barrels And Streetlights, The DEA Is Shoving Them Into… Vacuums?

      This almost sounds like an ultra-low tech version of the NSA’s hardware interdiction program. The NSA intercepts computer equipment to install hardware/software backdoors. The DEA’s vacuum camera possibly could be stashed in a Shop Vac en route to a targeted person/business. Either that or a DEA agent/informant is going to pretend to be a janitor and wheel around a loaded Shop Vac to capture footage.

      It’s weird but it’s pretty much in line with the DEA’s procurement history. A report from Quartz last month showed the DEA was buying cameras concealed in streetlights, traffic barrels, and speed-display road signs. The last one on the list doesn’t house ordinary cameras, but rather automated license plate readers.

      Are there Constitutional concerns? Sure. They’re pretty minimal in areas where any activity could be observed by a member of the public. But they’re not nonexistent. And much of this surveillance activity occurs with the silent blessing of the city governments that own the repurposed streetlights. The government has occasionally pushed for upgraded streetlight systems, with the main “improvement” being the addition of surveillance devices.

    • Mobile Location Scandals Keep Making Facebook’s Privacy Flubs Look Like Child’s Play

      Curiously, the Times doesn’t even mention the cellular carriers’ role in this problem, insisting that location data sales “began as a way to customize apps and target ads for nearby businesses.” In reality, cellular carriers have been tracking and selling your location data before the concept was even a twinkle in many app makers’ eye, and as the recent LocationSmart scandal (which exposed the personal data of nearly every mobile customer in North America) made very clear, this data is sold to dozens of third-party location data brokers and their sales partners — without much, if any, effort to ensure it’s being protected down the chain.

      In other words, app location data sharing is just a smaller part of a massive problem. A problem that started with telecom operators and our total unwillingness to hold them accountable for similar behavior. Politically powerful cellular carriers who repeatedly insisted we didn’t need any meaningful privacy rules of the road because “public shame” would keep the industry honest. That promise has never really worked out that well.

      Multiple ISPs were accused years ago of collecting and selling consumer clickstream data. When they were pressed for details, many simply either denied doing it or refused to respond. Collectively, we decided that was fine. As more sophisticated network gear like deep-packet inspection emerged, ISPs began tracking and selling online browsing habits down to the millisecond, some even charging users extra if they wanted to protect their own privacy. Wireless only made things worse, some carriers even going so far as to modify your very data packets to glean additional insight without your knowledge or consent.

    • Microsoft Posts List Of Facial Recognition Tech Guidelines It Thinks The Government Should Make Mandatory

      Roughly five months later, this blog post was discovered, leading to Microsoft receiving a large dose of social media shaming. A number of its own employees signed a letter opposing any involvement at all with ICE. A July blog post from the president of Microsoft addressed the fallout from the company’s partnership with ICE. It clarified that Microsoft was not actually providing facial recognition tech to the agency and laid out a number of ground rules the company felt would best serve everyone going forward.

      This starting point has now morphed into a full-fledged rule set Microsoft will apparently be applying to itself. Microsoft’s Brad Smith again addresses the positives and negatives of facial recognition tech, especially when it’s deployed by government agencies. The blog post is a call for government regulation, not just of tech companies offering this technology, but for some internal regulation of agencies deploying this technology.

    • Australia’s encryption laws will fall foul from differing definitions

      The Assistance and Access Act, which became law just days ago, defines a systemic weakness as one that “affects a whole class of technology, but does not include a weakness that is selectively introduced to one or more target technologies that are connected with a particular person”.

      That just creates a new conundrum: What counts as a “whole class” of technology?

    • GCHQ now has the power to legally hack anyone

      In a letter filed in the House of Commons library Ben Wallace, security minister, stated that the “GCHQ’s position on the authorisation of equipment interference operations has evolved since the Investigatory Powers Act”, specifying “Since the passage of the Bill, the communications environment has continued to evolve, particularly in terms of the range of hardware devices and software applications which need to be targeted.”

      In the letter, Wallace points to the Investigatory Powers Act (more commonly known as the Snooper’s Charter) as providing a theoretical warrant for bulk equipment interference, with the further permissions to enact it provided by recent warrant applications. He also states that Investigatory Powers Commissioner Adrian Fulford has recommended safeguards for the hacks — although all are post-facto, so may have limited effect.

    • Social Justice Organizations Challenge Retention of DNA Collected from Hundreds of Thousands of Innocent Californians

      California Arrestees’ DNA Profiles Become Part of Federal Database, Accessible to Law Enforcement Across the Country, Even for Those Not Convicted of Any Crime
      San Francisco – Two social justice organizations—the Center for Genetics and Society and the Equal Justice Society—and an individual plaintiff, Pete Shanks, have filed suit against the state of California for its collection and retention of genetic profiles from people arrested but never convicted of any crime. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Law Office of Michael T. Risher represent the plaintiffs. The suit argues that retention of DNA from innocent people violates the California Constitution’s privacy protections, which are meant to block overbroad collection and unlawful searches of personal data.

      “One-third of people arrested for felonies in California are never convicted. The government has no legitimate interest in retaining DNA samples and profiles from people who have no felony convictions, and it’s unconstitutional for the state to hold on to such sensitive material without any finding of guilt,” said Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director at the Center for Genetics and Society.

      While California has long collected DNA from people convicted of serious felony offenses, in 2009 the state doubled-down on this policy to mandate DNA collection for every single felony arrestee, including those later determined to be innocent. The intimate details that can be revealed by a person’s DNA only increases as technology develops, exposing plaintiffs to ever heightening degrees of intrusiveness. After collection, the DNA is analyzed and uploaded to the nationwide Combined DNA Index System, or “CODIS,” which is shared with law enforcement across the U.S.

    • Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret

      At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information, The Times found. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States — about half those in use last year. The database reviewed by The Times — a sample of information gathered in 2017 and held by one company — reveals people’s travels in startling detail, accurate to within a few yards and in some cases updated more than 14,000 times a day.

      These companies sell, use or analyze the data to cater to advertisers, retail outlets and even hedge funds seeking insights into consumer behavior. It’s a hot market, with sales of location-targeted advertising reaching an estimated $21 billion this year. IBM has gotten into the industry, with its purchase of the Weather Channel’s apps. The social network Foursquare remade itself as a location marketing company. Prominent investors in location start-ups include Goldman Sachs and Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder.

    • Electric vehicles are sending real-time location and diagnostic data to Chinese government monitoring centers

      More than 200 carmakers selling electric vehicles in China – including famous brands like Tesla, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen – send over 60 data points to government-backed monitoring platforms. Chinese officials say that they are merely using the analytics to improve public safety, and to aid with infrastructure planning. Those are certainly legitimate uses of aggregate data, and are similar to how Geotab’s vehicle data is being analyzed and applied in the US. However, in China’s case, the data is flowing to the Beijing Institute of Technology, which is monitoring some 1.1 million vehicles in the country. As the Associated Press article explains, the data flow is about to increase dramatically as part of a “Made in China 2025” industrial development plan.

    • The Week in Business: The Emails Facebook Doesn’t Want You to See

      The victim of Facebook’s latest privacy breach: itself. On Wednesday, Britain’s parliament released 250 pages of the company’s internal documents, including emails between top executives. The messages revealed ruthless efforts to extract as much data as possible from users like you and me, and obscure the fact that it was doing so. The emails also show that the company wielded data like currency, bestowing special access to it as a reward to friendly businesses like Airbnb and Netflix while cutting off rivals. Facebook says the emails don’t tell the full story. It must be painful to have private information given to others without your consent, right?

    • How Tinder creates better matches using AWS image recognition technology

      Speaking during AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas last week, Tom Jacques, VP of engineering at Tinder explained how it is using the deep learning-powered AWS Rekognition service to identify user’s key traits by mining the 10 billion photos they upload daily .

      [...]

      Tinder ingests 40TBs of data a day into its analytics and ML systems to power matches, which are underpinned by AWS cloud services.`

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • YouTube tells impersonation victim: No, you’re not being impersonated

      She took to Twitter to ask her followers how to report impersonation claims on YouTube. After filing a Wednesday impersonation report, which included her government-issued driver’s license, her published book’s jacket sleeve photo, and screenshots of the offending, fake YouTube account, Ng received a Thursday response from YouTube: her report did “not meet our impersonation reporting guidelines.”

      A quick scan of YouTube’s reporting page includes a request for “a clear, readable copy of your valid driver’s license, national ID card, or other photo ID” as an attached image. Ng’s posts did not confirm whether her book’s jacket photo was YouTube’s point of contention, nor whether that photo was used to demonstrate an issue with the fake account: that it had lifted a publicly available photo (from a book’s jacket sleeve) to pretend to be Ng.

    • Atlanta Cops Caught Deleting Body Cam Footage, Failing To Activate Recording Devices

      Officers know the system is flawed and abuse it. Those in charge of securing recordings officers may not want retained either don’t know what they’re doing or are playing dumb when questioned by auditors. At the top of the miserable heap is a chief who has allowed flagrant policy violations to occur under her watch.

      An official worth a damn would never express their lack of surprise at this sort of behavior from underlings. There should be shock and dismay at these results, not a shrug of “They’re cops, what can you do?” emanating from the top person in Atlanta law enforcement. If that’s the official reaction, the next audit will just find more of the same.

    • More Than Half Tech Workers Work In ‘Toxic’ Environment: Survey

      Over half the employees in tech domain find their work culture toxic. According to a survey conducted by Blind, an anonymous work talk app, about 52 percent of participants aren’t happy with their work environment. (Source: WFAA)

    • There’s A Reason They Call It “Work” — As Opposed To “Spa Vacation”

      I saw this question at Quora and found the sense of entitlement to employees’ time, sans pay, pretty unbelievable: [...]

    • Stung by Controversies, Police Chief Resigns in Elkhart, Indiana

      Elkhart, Indiana, Police Chief Ed Windbigler announced his resignation Monday after recent reports by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica about disciplinary issues in the city’s Police Department and a video that showed two officers beating a handcuffed man.

      In a letter addressed to members of the Elkhart Police Department, Windbigler said Mayor Tim Neese contacted him on Sunday and asked him to resign.

      “I admit that I am not perfect and have made mistakes, but I always tried to make sure we were making decisions that would be best for the department,” Windbigler said in the letter.

      Last month, the mayor suspended Windbigler for 30 days without pay after the release of a video showing two officers repeatedly punching a handcuffed man in the police station after he tried to spit on one of them. Windbigler downplayed the severity of the incident at an oversight commission meeting in June and reprimanded the officers. But after the Tribune requested a copy of the video, the officers were criminally charged with misdemeanor battery.

    • 1 in 4 government officials accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era is still in office today

      At least 138 government officials, in both elected and appointed positions, have been publicly reported for sexual harassment, assault, misconduct or violence against women since the 2016 election, according to an analysis my colleagues and I conducted.

      Three in every four of these officials have left or been ousted from their positions. But as many as 33 will remain in office by January.

      Our study of those accused, posted online on Nov. 9, tallied reports of allegations of sex-related misconduct by government officials in the media over the past two years. Although these reports are likely the mere tip of an iceberg of sexual misconduct, they are yet another sign that #MeToo is slowly beginning to disrupt the power structure.

    • Resistance is Not Terrorism

      Today we live in a continuous state of warfare at different levels of intensity. The bully U.S. Empire keeps busy maintaining that level of aggression by using huge amounts of resources taken away from uninformed USAmericans and others.

      We have quite a wide range of “conflictive relationships” masterminded by the U.S. government.

      It’s interesting to see the corresponding proliferation of terminology associated with different types of warfare that we have come to use in describing those conflicts.

    • A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!

      Last year, the College of the Ozarks (C of O), a small evangelical Christian college in Point Lookout, Missouri, organized a two-week study abroad trip Viet Nam that paired 12 students with 12 US veterans of the US War in Viet Nam. Many of the destinations were sites of battles in which the veterans had fought.

      Launched in 2009, these Patriotic Education Travel Programs affirm one of the five goals of the college: Patriotic Education. According to its website, “These rich educational journeys provide life-changing experiences for College of the Ozarks students, who not only learn volumes of history from its firsthand participants but grow to love and appreciate them as well. Participating students return with renewed respect for Veterans and a dramatically increased love for their country.” The Viet Nam trip, the 21stof its kind, was under the direction of C of O’s “director of patriotic activities.”

      The purpose of the C of O Patriotic Education Program is to “to encourage an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibility, love of country, and willingness to defend it.” Not surprisingly, C of O “provides numerous opportunities for students to learn, become involved, and show respect to our nation,” including Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and citizenship classes that “provide formal academic training for students with regard to learning how to become effective citizens and if desired, members of the military” and student organizations that place “a heavy emphasis on patriotism.”

    • ‘Not Your Average Demonstration’: Faith Leaders Arrested Demanding Demilitarization of US Border

      Dozens of faith leaders were arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border in California on Monday after they confronted border patrol agents, demanding the demilitarization of the area and calling on the Trump administration to end its detention and deportation of asylum-seekers.

      [...]

      The rally was the first event in a planned week of direct actions, ending on International Migrants Day on December 18. Those who participated came from a number of Christian denominations as well as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and other faiths.

      A small group of Central American refugees has been the latest target of President Donald Trump’s xenophobic fear-mongering regarding immigration; they arrived at the border late last month after fleeing violence and unrest in their home countries and traveling for weeks.

      The protest came two weeks after border patrol agents closed the border’s busiest port of entry—which the Trump administration has repeatedly claimed it wants immigrants to enter the country through—and fired tear gas at asylum seekers including many families with young children.

    • Trump’s Caravan Problem Isn’t Which People Are Coming, But What Kind of Country America Will Choose to Be

      A bleak irony is emerging in Tijuana’s border zone. For all the raging conservative rhetoric about how Central American migrants are lawbreakers who refuse to just “get in line” and enter the “legal” way, the asylum seekers are actually “getting in line” — or what passes for a line — by forming an ad hoc queue that Mexican authorities have improvised to maintain some social order.

      Every day, migrants line up to be “processed” with a black number scrawled onto their arms — an informal label used to secure a “spot” on a theoretical waiting list. Yet, as they wait indefinitely for their number to be called, the basic institutions of due process they hope to invoke are disintegrating in a dysfunctional, backlogged immigration court system.

      The White House remains hell bent on keeping them out, however, and the plan appears to be to warehouse asylum seekers in Mexico with the underlying aim of discouraging them from trying to cross at all. So a ragged encampment in Tijuana is slowly sinking into chaos as heavily militarized American border authorities block and repel refugees.

    • Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.

      Wondering which side police in the U.S. are on…. left or right, is a more certain social science proposition than attempting to guess how many angels can safely fit on the head of a pin.

      For those close to protest from the 1950s through today, including all facets of left protest, the broken and murdered bodies of protesters in the civil rights movement and the Vietnam antiwar movement, and movements beyond those heady days of protest are quite telling. Guns, fire hoses, batons, tear gas, fists, planting evidence, etc., have all been used viciously by police throughout the U.S. in doing the bidding of their political and financial overlords.

      The militarization of the police began, not as a coincidence, in the 1970s. Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) “teams” were soon in evidence, as was the gathering of so-called intelligence by police units, a fact well known to Vietnam-era protesters, the movement to which mass policing responded. The dumping of military weapons and vehicles to the police was the direct result of the massive police mobilization during and following the Vietnam War. All that was needed was a globalized economy to begin the school to prison pipeline of which the police are an integral part.

      Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs (D.A.R.E.), founded in Los Angeles in 1983, have been totally ineffective in stemming the tide of drug use in the U.S. Indeed, D.A.R.E. has seen some police act as enforcers of discipline in schools in mostly poor neighborhoods and has furthered the school to prison pipeline in the U.S.

      That many individual police have authoritarian leanings and behaviors comes as no surprise. The antipathy toward people of color in the civil rights era and beyond had its roots in the mass violence in the U.S. in which police were an integral part. That a member of the Black Panther Party would relate that violence is as “American as cherry pie” is no accident.

    • What white nationalists think about Tucker Carlson

      He has used his nightly show to question whether racial diversity is truly a positive thing in America. He has promoted, and defended, the phrase “It’s OK to be white,” which has become a slogan for racists across the country. David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, claimed last year the campaign was “sweeping the nation.”

      Just last month Carlson suggested that a Georgetown professor was calling for “genocide” of white people. This is a warning that has been circulating in white supremacist circles for decades. And he has used his perch to play down the issue of white nationalism in America: “It’s not a crisis. It’s not even a meaningful category,” he said on his show earlier this year.

      One of the stated goals of leading white nationalists has been to mainstream their racist ideals into the modern conservative movement. With that in mind, we were curious to see whether the hardcore white nationalists on the web viewed Carlson as their messenger to the broader public.

      We asked our Hate Sleuths, a group of loyal Hate Report readers who volunteer their time to help research, to comb through sites that often host hate speech for mentions of the conservative commentator.

      They found overwhelming support for Carlson. Everywhere they looked, the Fox News anchor was being discussed, and ideas were being swapped about how to convince him to continue mainstreaming racist and anti-Semitic talking points.

    • ‘For Taking Great Risks in Pursuit of Greater Truths,’ Journalists Under Attack Named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year

      Capping off a year marked by accusations of “fake news,” hurled at journalists by President Donald Trump and other global threats to press freedom, TIME magazine selected as Person of the Year journalists who have spent the past year fighting increased hostility toward their work—including those who lost their lives as a result of their reporting.

      Calling journalists under attack “guardians” of the truth, the magazine announced the selected Tuesday as it prepared to release four covers of the yearly issue.

      “Like all human gifts, courage comes to us at varying levels and at varying moments,” wrote editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal. “This year we are recognizing four journalists and one news organization who have paid a terrible price to seize the challenge of this moment…They are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world—as of Dec. 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018—who risk all to tell the story of our time.”

    • “It’s Called Transparency”: Donald, Chuck, and Nancy Hold Rare Public Talks as Negotiations Erupt on Live TV

      A press availability at the White House with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Democratic leader in the House Nancy Pelosi broke into bizarre—as well as refreshing—public negotiation on Tuesday as the Democrats and the president sparred over funding for a border wall and the prospect of a government shutdown if a budget deal is not reached before a fast-approaching deadline.

      “I will shut down the government,” the president declared at one point. “And I am proud to shut down the government for border security.”

    • Trump Bickers With Democratic Leaders, Threatens Shutdown

      Bickering in public with Democratic leaders, President Donald Trump threatened repeatedly on Tuesday to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t provide the money he says is needed to build a wall at the Mexican border.

      Trump’s comments came as he opened a contentious meeting with Democratic Senate and House leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, with a partial shutdown looming on Dec. 21 when funding for some agencies will expire. The president and Pelosi tangled over whether the House or the Senate was holding up his proposal. Trump and Schumer jabbed at each other over the import of the midterm elections — and who will be blamed if a shutdown occurs.

      “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government,” Trump ultimately declared. “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.”

    • Courage Is Contagious

      One reason for blindness to our own power could be that we can’t see the bucket that our “action drops” are filling up–that is, the big, system-changes our individual choices inch forward. I do know that every time in my life that I have been able to catch even a glimpse of such a bucket, my life has changed.

      Most recently it happened as I marched more than a hundred miles with Democracy Spring in 2016 to sit on the Capitol steps, demanding money out of politics. Knowing that I was part of the rising Democracy Movement, I could feel my “drops” splashing into a powerful bucket.

      But a metaphor of “filling up” from the top down still misses a lot, for in our world where “there are no parts, only participants” (the lovely phrase of my departed friend, physicist Hans Peter Duerr) our energies radiate horizontally.

      It happens because in our interconnected world, almost always someone is noticing. Even if it’s one person.

      On that note, I love a story author Rebecca Solnit tells about a rainy day in the early 1960s when a handful of Women Strike for Peace members protested above-ground nuclear testing in front of the Kennedy White House. They reported feeling “foolish and futile,” she writes.

    • New York Police Rip Toddler From Mother in Plain Sight

      Outrage built Monday over a video showing police officers violently yanking a toddler from his mother’s arms at a Brooklyn public benefits office, with officials criticizing police for not de-escalating the situation and clients of the facility complaining it is indicative of how the city treats social-services recipients.

      The video, taken by a bystander, captured the chaotic scene that unfolded last Friday as officers tried to remove mother Jazmine Headley from the crowded office, where she had sat on the floor for two hours because of a lack of chairs. Police were called when she refused a security guard’s order to leave. The woman ended up lying face-up on the floor during a tug of war over her 18-month-old son.

    • Unsolicited Dick Pics Prompt Stupid, Unworkable Legislative Response From New York Lawmakers

      Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic a trenchcoat-wearing lurker. Apple’s AirDrop app, which allows anyone to share files with anyone else using the app, has become the new way to send unsolicited dick pics.

      Granted, there’s a bit of a perfect storm aspect that sets it apart from the ChatRoulettes of the world. Users of the app must allow messages from “Everyone” (rather than just people on their Contacts list) and be within Bluetooth range of the amateur photographer.

      Of course, since it can conceivably happen to someone, it has happened to someone. And the New York Post was there to report on the easily-avoidable menace.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Hardwood Floors, Natural Light and the Right to Choose Your ISP

      Your landlord is prohibited from making deals that restrict you to a single video provider, and those prohibitions should apply to your broadband service as well. Yet, across the country, tenants remain locked into a single choice. In January of 2017, San Francisco became the first city to take action toward filling in the loopholes that enable anti-competitive practices. Will 2019 see more cities adopting similar protections?

      Large Corporate ISPs—looking to lock out competition—have created a market of landlord addiction to practices that take advantage of these loopholes in the FCC’s prohibition on exclusive access agreements, by simply denying physical access to any but their preferred ISP. These owners and Real Estate Investment Trusts may charge prohibitive Door Fees, participate in ISP revenue sharing schemes, or enter into exclusive marketing agreements. While ostensibly legal, these practices often result in the same lack of choice, and disincentivization of innovation, the FCC intended to curtail.

    • FCC to investigate whether major wireless carriers submitted false coverage data
    • At least one major carrier lied about its 4G coverage, FCC review finds

      The RWA, which represents rural carriers, made its case to the FCC by submitting speed test data. The speed tests showed the Verizon network wasn’t providing 4G LTE service in areas that Verizon claimed to cover, according to the RWA.

    • Google, Facebook Face Australia Crackdown Over Market Power

      In a preliminary report released Monday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said a new or existing watchdog should investigate and monitor how large digital platforms rank and display adverts and news. It also expressed concern about a lack of transparency in how their key algorithms work.

  • DRM
    • Denuvo-Protected Just Cause 4 Cracked In A Day, Suffering From Shitty Reviews

      Two common topics here at Techdirt are about to converge in what will likely serve as a lovely example of how piracy is often a scapegoat rather than a legitimate business issue. The first topic is Denuvo, the once-unbeatable DRM that has since become a DRM that has been defeated in sub-zero days before game releases. The exception that used to prove the rule that DRM is always defeated has become another example that yet again proves that rule. On the other hand, we’ve also talked at length that the real antidote for piracy is creating a great product and connecting with fans to give them a reason to buy. The flipside of that formula is that no amount of piracy protection is going to result in big sales numbers for a product that sucks.

      While that’s typically obvious, we’re all about to watch what happens when a game both has its piracy protection fail completely and is deemed to be a shitty product, with Just Cause 4 having its Denuvo protection defeated a day after launch while the game is suffering from withering reviews.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • UK pregabalin ruling “increases patent applicant burden”, say drug companies [Ed: A patent maximalists' site complains that patents might be harder to get; pretends it cares about "small innovator companies"]

      “As with many Supreme Court decisions, we will have to wait and see how the lower courts apply it,” says the patent attorney at a UK pharmaceutical firm. “But my concern is that the higher hurdle for plausibility will be applied more widely, and that would increase the burden on patent applicants.”

      The vice-president of IP at a UK biotech company adds that the decision does not reflect the scientific reality of drug development because of the complexities associated with animal models.

      Last month, the Supreme Court rejected Warner-Lambert’s appeal that its patent for medication used to treat anxiety, epilepsy and neuropathic pain was sufficiently disclosed, and upheld Mylan and Actavis’s appeal that the disputed claims were not even partially sufficient.

    • Copyrights
      • While Everyone’s Busy, Hollywood & Record Labels Suggest Congress Bring Back SOPA

        There are a million different things going on these days when it comes to preventing the powers that be from destroying the internet that we know and love. There are dozens of mostly bad ideas for regulating the internet here in the US, and of course, over in Europe, they’re doing their best to destroy everything with the poorly thought out GDPR, the new Copyright Directive and the upcoming Terrorist Regulation (more on that soon). With all of that keeping everyone trying to protect the internet busy, it appears that the MPAA and the RIAA have decided that now would be a good time to re-introduce SOPA. No joke.

        Every year, the US government’s “IP Enforcement Coordinator” — or IP Czar — takes comments for its “Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property,” which is supposed to lay out the federal government’s yearly plan for protecting Hollywood’s profits. As questionable as that is already, this year, the comment submissions seemed to go a bit further than usual. The RIAA’s submission, the MPAA’s submission and the (almost so extreme as to be a parody) Copyright Alliance’s submission all seemed to push a pretty consistent theme. Despite the incredible abundance of content creation happening these days, despite the myriad new ways to distribute, to build a fan base, to create new works and to make money from those works… these legacy gatekeepers all insist that the internet is truly a horrible attack on creativity and must be stopped.

      • Four million Europeans’ signatures opposing Article 13 have been delivered to the European Parliament

        Lawmakers in the European Union (EU) often lament the lack of citizen engagement with the complex policy questions that they wrestle with in Strasbourg and Brussels, so we assume that they will be delighted to learn that more than 4,000,000 of their constituents have signed a petition opposing Article 13 of the new Copyright in the Single Market Directive. They oppose it for two main reasons: because it will inevitably lead to the creation of algorithmic copyright filters that only US Big Tech companies can afford (making the field less competitive and thus harder for working artists to negotiate better deals in) and because these filters will censor enormous quantities of legitimate material, thanks to inevitable algorithmic errors and abuse.

        Currently, the Directive is in the “trilogue” phase, where European national governments and the EU negotiate its final form behind closed doors. We’re told that the final language may emerge as soon as this week, with the intention of rushing a vote before Christmas, despite the absolute shambles that the negotiations have made of the text.

      • Federal Courts Aren’t ATMs, Angry Judge Reminds Copyright Troll

        I will never tire of judges handing down benchslaps to IP trolls. Perhaps I’ll never tire of it because it just doesn’t happen often enough. Or perhaps it cannot happen often enough, given the sheer amount of troll litigation judges preside over. Not every dismissed case can be given the court’s full attention. But this opinion, from Judge Royce Lamberth, should certainly get Strike 3 Holding’s attention.

      • Latest EU Copyright Proposal: Block Everything, Never Make Mistakes, But Don’t Use Upload Filters

        As we’ve been discussing the “Trilogue” negotiations between the EU Commission, EU Council and EU Parliament over the EU’s Copyright Directive have continued, and a summary has been released on the latest plans for Article 13, which is the provision that will make upload filters mandatory, while (and this is the fun part) insisting that it doesn’t make upload filters mandatory. Then, to make things even more fun, another document on the actual text suggests the way to deal with this is to create a better euphemism for filters.

        When we last checked in on this, we noted that the legacy film and television industry associations were freaking out that Article 13 might include some safe harbors for internet platforms, and were asking the negotiators to either drop those protections for platforms, or to leave them out of Article 13 altogether and only have it apply to music.

        The latest brief description of the recommendations for Article 13 appear to be an attempt by bureaucrats who have no understanding of the nuances of this issue to appease both the legacy copyright industries and the tech companies. Notably absent: any concern for the public or independent creators. We’ll dig in in a moment, but frankly, given the state of Article 13 demonstrated in this two-page document, it is horrific that these discussions are considered almost concluded. It is obvious that the vast majority of people working on this have no idea what they’re talking about, and are pushing incredibly vague rules without any understanding of their impact. And rather than taking in the criticism and warning from knowledgeable experts, they’re just adding in duct-taped “but this won’t do x” for every complaint where people warn what the actual impact of the rules will be for the internet.

      • New EU Piracy Watchlist Targets Key Pirate Sites and Cloudflare

        Following the example set by the United States, the European Union has published its very first ‘Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List’. The European Commission report targets a broad range of alleged ‘pirate’ sites in the BitTorrent, cyberlocker, stream-ripping spaces, encouraging law enforcement and network players to help stymie their activities.

      • UK Govt. Backs Anti-Piracy Campaign With £2 Million in Funding

        The UK Government has committed £2 million to fund the ongoing “Get it Right” anti-piracy campaign until 2021. Under this program, UK Internet providers and rightsholders have teamed up to warn alleged pirates and educate the public at large on how to access content through ‘genuine’ channels.

        [...]

        This isn’t the first time that the UK Government has financially supported the ‘Get it Right’ campaign. It also contributed £3.5 million to the program at the start.

      • Scammers Use Facebook and Google to Spread Malicious ‘Pirate’ Files

        Scammers and spammers are using user-generated content sites to distribute links to malware and viruses. The malicious content is advertised as pirated software and games, in an attempt to lure users. The issue is plaguing many platforms but appears to be rather persistent on Facebook and Google groups.

      • IFPI Slams Pirate MEP For ‘Lobbying’ Kids, Forgets a Decade of Rightsholders Doing Just That

        Yet another war of words on Twitter over Article 13 has delivered one of the great ironies of recent times. After Pirate MEP Julia Reda called on kids to ‘lobby’ their parents over the controversial legislation, she got a “shame on you” from IFPI for “manipulating minors”. Trouble is, the entertainment industries have been doing the same for well over a decade.

        [..,]

        Joking aside though, it’s pretty ironic that IFPI has called out Reda for informing kids about copyright law to further the aims of “big tech companies”. As we all know, the music and movie industries have been happily doing exactly the same to further their own aims for at least ten years and probably more.

        Digging through the TF archives, there are way too many articles detailing how “big media” has directly targeted kids with their message over the last decade. Back in 2009, for example, a former anti-piracy consultant for EMI lectured kids as young as five on anti-piracy issues.

Number of Filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Highest in Almost Two Years

11 hours 45 min ago

Objections (post-grant) to particular US patents

Summary: Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), which typically invalidate software patents by citing 35 U.S.C. § 101, are withstanding negative rhetoric and hostility from Iancu (on the right)

IMPROVING the quality of US patents would improve their overall value. Maybe not revenue of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), but it’s not a corporation and it has no shareholders.

Michael Loney has just crunched some numbers and it looks encouraging. PTAB is, in the simplest of terms, some entity you can tell, “hey, this patent is rubbish, invalidate it already!” And they do. So this highest filing level (in nearly 2 years) is good news for patents’ quality:

November’s 230 petitions filed at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board was the highest monthly figure since January 2017, while the newly-formed Precedential Opinion Panel will address issue joinder

Challengers flocked to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in November, with 230 petitions filed. This was the largest monthly figure since the 246 petitions in January 2017.

Unhappy about 35 U.S.C. § 101, Watchtroll is attacking SCOTUS again. This is from yesterday. They’re totally losing their minds and their ‘business’ (litigation). The writer this time is Eric Guttag, who boasts “private intellectual [sic] property [sic] law experience on patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret” (what he actually means by ‘IP’). It was only yesterday that we wrote about these ugly tendencies of Watchtroll in light of SCOTUS’ insistence on Alice, not to mention insistence on IPRs (Oil States).

With ‘Brexit’ in a Lot of Headlines Team UPC Takes the Unitary Patent Lies up a Notch

12 hours 24 min ago

Summary: Misinformation continues to run like water; people are expected to believe that the UPC, an inherently EU-centric construct, can magically come to fruition in the UK (or in Europe as a whole)

THE lies told by Team UPC are nowadays pathetic. The European Patent Office (EPO) seems more reluctant to lie after António Campinos started his term, so the EPO basically says almost nothing.

Funnily enough, even the biggest liars have been mostly silent. Bristows LLP, for instance, barely posts anything on the matter (since the summer) and when Alan Johnson mentioned the UPC a few days ago it wasn’t even about the UPC but about SPCs. It seems as though his employer is now paying to spread its nonsense elsewhere (from its marginalised blog that is barely active anymore). We took note of it at the time.

“They don’t want people to publicly call them “liars” (even implicitly) when they lie. They believe that massively repeating the lies ad infinitum will help these lies stick and thereby shape perceptions. At the same time they attack their critics, albeit only anonymously.”An article by Alistair Maughan, Wolfgang Schönig, Sana Ashcroft, Robert Grohmann and Jana Fuchs (Morrison & Foerster LLP) promoted the same old UPC myths earlier this week. UPC was also mentioned here yesterday. They don’t seem to care about facts. It’s just that same old nonsense about Britain joining something that does not even exist and that it cannot technically join anyway. Team UPC’s Wouter Pors wrote about it first thing in the morning; he carries on with the infamous UPC lies (citing as sources other Team UPC fantasists). These ‘unitary’ patents do not exist and will never exist; they’re just fantasies. They’re staging a legislative coup for self enrichment and in order to succeed they increasingly attempt to rely on lying to politicians, e.g. Wouter’s claim that “if it [UK] does leave the EU, it can still remain part of the UPC, which at least in my view is an honourable cause.”

No, it profitable for you, Wouter, it’s harmful to the UK, and technically it is not even possible. Deep inside Wouter knows it.

Even though they ‘sanitise’ comments to remove dissent (to the UPC) from this blog, Concerned observer’s first and sole comment soon thereafter appeared (one must remember that these commenters have to be exceedingly polite to not have their comment deleted at the back end). To quote:

Wouter,

With all due respect, I think that the above analysis misses one or two key points.

Firstly, it is important to note that Opinion 1/00 included the following conclusion:
“Therefore, the mechanisms for ensuring uniform interpretation of the rules of the ECAA Agreement and for resolving disputes WILL NOT HAVE THE EFFECT OF BINDING THE COMMUNITY and its institutions, in the exercise of their internal powers, to a particular interpretation of the rules of Community law incorporated in the agreement”.

In other words, rulings on provisions of EU law in connection with the ECAA Agreement (in common with rulings of the EFTA Court) would NOT be binding on any EU Member States, and so would not threaten the autonomy of EU law. By way of contrast, the UPC Agreement purports to make rulings of the UPC binding upon the Participating Member States. This is a highly significant difference, meaning that it is IMPOSSIBLE to draw any positive conclusions from Opinion 1/00 (or either of Opinions 1/91 and 1/92) when it comes to the question of compliance of the UPC Agreement with EU law.

Secondly, I do not believe that paragraph 26 of the CJEU’s ruling in Wightman and others has any significance for the UPC. The key part of that paragraph reads as follows:
“it is solely for the national court before which the dispute has been brought, and which must assume responsibility for the subsequent judicial decision, to determine in the light of the particular circumstances of the case, both the need for a preliminary ruling in order to enable it to deliver judgment and the relevance of the questions which it submits to the Court”.

In essence, the CJEU is saying that it is up to the national court to determine the need for a preliminary reference under Article 267 TFEU. However, the CJEU’s answer is based upon the undisputed assumption that the national court in question was a “court or tribunal of a Member State” in accordance with Article 267 TFEU. Given that the UK’s future participation in the UPC appears to hinge upon that court being classified an INTERNATIONAL court (ie NOT a “court or tribunal of a Member State”), there is at least a prima facie reason to doubt that the CJEU would accept any preliminary references from the UPC.

In other words, the ruling of the CJEU in Wightman and others simply does not address the key point of contention for the UPC.

One final point: the combination of the above two points could well provide reason to doubt Prof. Tilmann’s assertion that the UK’s loss of EU membership is not a fundamental change of circumstances within the meaning of Article 62 VCLT. This is because a potential consequence of that change is the conversion of the UPC to the status of an international court, the rulings of which could then threaten the supremacy and autonomy of EU law. Thus, whilst it is clear that the CJEU is prepared to entertain arguments based upon the VCLT, I do not believe that this would be the end of the matter for the UPC.

One might assume that other comments have been posted or will be posted albeit removed before anyone can see them. Such is the nature of this blog and such is the nature of Team UPC in general (it censors other blogs too, as we’ve demonstrated for a number of years). They don’t want people to publicly call them “liars” (even implicitly) when they lie. They believe that massively repeating the lies ad infinitum will help these lies stick and thereby shape perceptions. At the same time they attack their critics, albeit only anonymously [1, 2].

The EPO Not Only Abandoned the EPC But Also the Biotech Directive

13 hours 5 min ago

Like outlaws still run the Office

Summary: Last week’s decision (T1063/18, EPO Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.04) shows that there’s still a long way to go before the Office and the Organisation as a whole fulfil their obligation to those who birthed the Organisation in the first place

EUROPEAN Patents (EPs) which threaten lives and software patents that are EPs were mentioned in our last post. How far is António Campinos willing to go? How far will Iancu at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) go?

How about patents on life itself?

It is widely known that this subject is ‘controversial’, by which we mean on one side we have large corporations like Monsanto and on the other side virtually everyone else, i.e. the public (those not striving to ‘own’ all lives using bizarre patents).

Last week there was some disturbing development/news which made one wonder if judges had been having dinners at Bayer or something like that. There has been no word on this decision from the EPO’s Twitter account, which has been unusually quiet lately (the past few days). Those who covered the decision have been almost without exception patent maximalists; the same goes for comments. Apparently all that matters is how much they can profit from it, not how much sense it actually makes. Miquel Montañá wrote about this yesterday (“The Political Dimension of Tomatoes, Broccoli and Peppers”); it’s about the incredible stance of the European Patent Office’s (EPO) Board of Appeal (BoA), which decided that patents on seeds, pigs, plants etc. are acceptable as if people “invented” these. Does the EPC not matter anymore?

Here’s a new comment on the connection between the EU and the EPO:

In response to ‘EPO is not EU…’, please see http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2018/05/08/eu-bring-unitary-patent-system-control/

Already the economic and academic arguments are being made as can be seen in that article. The EPO is being entrusted with the Unitary Patent, but that will bring the responsibility of harmonising with EU. It does not make sense to have 2 different sets of appeal systems in Europe (The EPO Boards and the CJEU). A single system of control is sensible, and I am sure will come into being at some point.

“Finally, as has already been pointed out, Opinion 1/09 closes the door to the EPO becoming an EU institution. Indeed, it is not 100% clear whether the EPO as it currently stands is compliant with EU law.”

Here’s another comment of interest:

I would like to address a number of inaccuracies in (implied) statements in your comment from 7 December.

Firstly, it is the Member States that are bound by the Biotech Directive. The role of the courts is to interpret that legislation, ie to determine the meaning of rules that bind the Member States (and other individuals / entities towards which those rules are directed).

Secondly, only the CJEU is able to provide a binding interpretation of the Biotech Directive. Whilst the views of the Commission and of the Member States may be of interest, they are meaningless if they do not align with the CJEU’s interpretation of that Directive.

Thirdly, there has already been national litigation (in the Netherlands) on relevant claims. Contrary to what you asserted would be the inevitable result, those claims were held by the Dutch court not to be excluded from patentability.

Finally, as has already been pointed out, Opinion 1/09 closes the door to the EPO becoming an EU institution. Indeed, it is not 100% clear whether the EPO as it currently stands is compliant with EU law. In this respect, a positive aspect of the Board of Appeal’s decision is that it avoided an outcome that would have been a blatant example of non-compliance with EU law (specifically, with Article 267 TFEU, which is essential to preserving the autonomy and supremacy of EU law).

If the Biotech Directive does not matter and the EPC does not matter either, what does that make the EPO? An outlaw organisation? An organism? If it’s an organism, maybe people can apply for a patent on it.

“There is a large uncertainty regarding patenting of plants and animals exclusively obtained by means of essentially biological processes in Europe,” Valea AB’s Joanna Applequist and Karolina Wiktorson wrote earlier this week. Over at Mondaq, J A Kemp (promoter of antibody patents) seemed rather happy to see this. “We understand that, at an oral hearing held on 5 December 2018 in relation to case T1063/18 concerning an application entitled “New pepper plants and fruits with improved nutritional value”, EPO Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.04 held that Rule 28(2) EPC introduced in July 2017 is in conflict with Article 53(b) EPC. Once confirmed, this will have important implications for EPO practice regarding inventions in the field of plant (and animal) breeding as in principle the Rule can no longer stand or be used to reject patent applications if it does not conform to the Article it is supposed to implement,” J A Kemp’s Andrew Bentham wrote.

Patent propaganda site Managing IP chose a headline that says “Plants patentable in Europe”. How misleading. It’s not actually over yet. Moreover, as we explained some days ago, the EPO is simply enraging farmers, who have already protested such moves. The ramifications remain to be seen, but for a patent office that just strives to increase so-called ‘production’ this may seem (artifiically, on the surface) like a positive development. At what cost?

Patents on Abstract Things and on Life (or Patents Which Threaten Lives) Merely Threaten the Very Legitimacy of Patent Offices, Including EPO

14 hours 1 min ago

Limits are necessary

Summary: Patent Hubris and maximalism pose a threat or a major risk to the very system that they claim to be championing; by reducing the barrier to entry (i.e. introducing low-quality or socially detrimental patents) they merely embolden ardent critics who demand patent systems as a whole be abolished; the EPO is nowadays a leading example of it

Disguising/framing bogus, invalid software patents as “AI” isn’t so hard anymore. António Campinos, who has no grasp of the concept (he’s not a scientist but a former banker), thinks of the term like it’s pixie dust that miraculously makes everything “innovative”.

As IPPro Magazine put it yesterday: “According to Khan, the US has seen the most AI-related patents granted, but it is the European Patent Office (EPO) in which he sees some difficulty in terms of filing.

“They don’t even use the term “AI” in its classic/traditional sense; they just call almost any ‘clever’ algorithm or computer “AI”.”“He described the EPO’s take on the excluded subject matter in its guidelines relation to AI inventions as “easy to overcome” but warned that the inventive step aspect will be the opposite of that, likening it to pole-vaulting.”

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also started to adopt this buzzword more recently, quite likely in pursuit of tricks by which to overcome (at least at the Office) 35 U.S.C. § 101 (SCOTUS). They don’t even use the term “AI” in its classic/traditional sense; they just call almost any ‘clever’ algorithm or computer “AI”. This is what happens when nontechnical people are put in charge of leadership roles. Law firms run the asylum.

IP Kat‘s Neil Wilkof has just written about how Singapore deals with trademark maximalists while lawyers who produce nothing pocket lots of money.

“…letting such patents persist simply delegitimises the Office in the public eye…”IP Watch‘s article from yesterday (“Singapore IP Office Grants First Accelerated Patent Under New FinTech Initiative”), relating directly to what we wrote about yesterday, speaks about Singapore accelerating the granting process for some bogus/abstract patents and uses the buzzword “FinTech” to justify that. In their own words: “This accelerated patent application-to-grant process comes at no additional cost and is open to any FinTech enterprises from anywhere in the world who file through IPOS.” The European Patent Office (EPO) has a similar program, notably PACE although PPH and Early Certainty also relate to so-called ‘speed’ (shortcuts rather). It’s to do with backlogs really (the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) obsesses over it) and the EPO doesn’t seem to care much about 9,000+ appeals in the pipeline, addressing for the most part erroneous or controversial grants, not rejections. Some of these patents have many lives at stake. There are some notable examples of these, e.g. as covered by a propaganda site for patents on nature and life, Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review, as recently as yesterday:

Six organisations have appealed against the European Patent Office’s (EPO) decision to uphold a patent for a key hepatitis C drug.

The appeal, which concerns Gilead Sciences’ patent for sofosbuvir, was filed on Wednesday, December 5, by Médecins du Monde (MdM), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), AIDES (France), Access to Medicines Ireland, Praksis (Greece) and Salud por Derecho (Spain).

According to a statement released by MSF, the EPO should revoke Gilead’s patent (EU number 2,604,620) for sofosbuvir because “it does not meet the requirements to be a patentable invention from a legal or scientific perspective”.

We wrote about it several times last week. As we put it some days ago, letting such patents persist simply delegitimises the Office in the public eye; we’ll say more about this in the next post.

Links 10/12/2018: Linux 4.20 RC6 and Git 2.20

Monday 10th of December 2018 08:17:36 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • How Can We Bring FOSS to the Virtual World?

    Will the free and open-source revolution end when our most personal computing happens inside the walled gardens of proprietary AI VR, AR, MR, ML and XR companies? I ask, because that’s the plan.

    [...]

    Buying all this is the cost of entry for chefs working in the kitchen, serving apps and experiences to customers paying to play inside Magic Leap’s walled garden: a market Magic Leaps hopes will be massive, given an investment sum that now totals close to $2 billion.

    The experience it created for me, thanks to the work of one early developer, was with a school of digital fish swimming virtually in my physical world. Think of a hologram without a screen. I could walk through them, reach out and make them scatter, and otherwise interact with them. It was a nice demo, but far from anything I might crave.

    But I wondered, given Magic Leap’s secretive and far-advanced tech, if it could eventually make me crave things. I ask because immersive doesn’t cover what this tech does. A better adjective might be invasive.

  • Open source will be the next big thing for the channel

    With cloud vendors developing more industry-specific solutions, channel partners must also hone in on vertical industry knowledge to capitalise on these markets.

    Flexibility will also be a key selling point which open source solutions provide: enterprises are seeking a hybrid-cloud approach to eliminate vendor lock-in, which means they’re likely to benefit from working with open source channel partners.

    With the rapid development and maturity that open source solutions provide, a shift toward higher adoptions rates in cloud workloads on Linux will become the new norm.

  • AI & data science: Open source makes NSE smart and secure

    National Stock Exchange of India (NSE which used V-SAT to transmit data securely in 1993, had shifted to Red Hat open source later. In the last few years it has been strengthening that partnership further with the integration of cloud infrastructure in its data systems to not simply improve data security, but also to implement Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science in its systems. The implementation of cloud-based AI platform enables NSE to clock a daily turnover of Rs 3,00,000 crore with 1.2 billion daily transactions. It is the largest stock exchange in India in terms of market volume and market share.
    Says Yatrik R Vin, CFO, NSE India, “There are certain cases on which we use open source’s capabilities extensively. They are risk management at client and investor level, cost reductions and making our systems talk to the public without manual intervention.” He reminisces that during the financial crisis of 2008, not a single rupee was affected, because of the risk management capabilities of the eight-sigma level open source core systems that were in use at NSE India.

  • List of Twitters of Free Software Projects and Communities
  • OpenSMTPD proc filters & fc-rDNS

    I have committed full proc filtering support today, allowing a standalone filter to perform all kind of filtering on every single phase of an SMTP session.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • TenFourFox FPR11 available

        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 11 final is now available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). Issue 525 has stuck, so that’s being shipped and we’ll watch for site or add-on compatibility fallout (though if you’re reporting a site or add-on that doesn’t work with FPR11, or for that matter any release, please verify that it still worked with prior versions: particularly for websites, it’s more likely the site changed than we did). There are no other changes other than bringing security fixes up to date. Assuming no problems, it will go live tomorrow evening as usual.

  • LibreOffice
  • Public Services/Government
    • New Czech law makes ICT neutrality a right

      A law being prepared by the Czech Republic on eGovernment services (‘Právo na Digitální Služby’ or ‘Right to Digital Service’) will establish technological neutrality for companies and citizens. This means they may not be forced to use any particular software because of technology choices made by public services, Ondřej Profant, Chairman of the Parliamentary Subcommittee on eGovernment, told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory.

  • Programming/Development
    • Git v2.20.0

      The latest feature release Git v2.20.0 is now available at the usual places. It is comprised of 962 non-merge commits since v2.19.0 (this is by far the largest release in v2.x.x series), contributed by 83 people, 26 of which are new faces.

    • Git 2.20 Brings Many Fixes, Updates To Windows Port

      Junio Hamano has released Git 2.20 as the newest version of this widely-used distributed revision control system.

      Git 2.20 is another incremental update to this widely used tool by developers. Some of the many changes to Git 2.20 includes:

      - The Git clone process will better warn users when cloning to a case-insensitive file-system where there are files in that repository that only differ with their cases.

    • Parallel Programming: December 2018 Update

      This release features Makefile-automated running of litmus tests (both with herd and litmus tools), catch-ups with recent Linux-kernel changes, a great many consistent-style changes (including a new style-guide appendix), improved code cross-referencing, and a great many proofreading changes, all courtesy of Akira Yokosawa. SeongJae Park, Imre Palik, Junchang Wang, and Nicholas Krause also contributed much-appreciated improvements and fixes. This release also features numerous epigraphs, modernization of sample code, many random updates, and larger updates to the memory-ordering chapter, with much help from my LKMM partners in crime, whose names are now enshrined in the LKMM section of the Linux-kernel MAINTAINERS file.

    • Lets put the game instruction online instead

      In the previous article we have successfully created an about page which contains both game instruction as well as game credit, however it is better to put the game instruction into it’s own page to make our game looks more professional. In this article we are going to create an online game manual which will open up once the player has clicked on the manual button on the main game page.

    • qpropgen 0.1.1

      Continuing on this release month idea started last week, here is a release of another project. Today is the first release of qpropgen, a tool to generate QML-friendly QObject-based C++ classes from class definition files

    • PyBites Twitter Digest – Issue 38, 2018
    • Create PDF files from templates with Python and Google Scripts
    • Dockerizing a Python Django Web Application
    • Django Authentication — Login, Logout and Password Change/Reset
    • Fedora 29 : Python 3 and Jupyter notebook.

    • C Programming Language – Introduction

      This tutorial is the first part of a C programming language course on Linux. C is a procedural programming language that was designed by American computer scientist Dennis Ritchie. Please note that we’ll be using Linux for all our examples and explanation. Specifically, we’ll be using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

    • DSF 2019 Board Election Results

      I’m pleased to announce the winners of our 2019 DSF Board of Directors election.

      [...]

      This year we had 17 great candidates and while not everyone can get elected each year I hope they all consider running again in the 2020 election.

      Another item of note with this election is that our Board is now comprised of two thirds women, which is a first for the DSF.

    • coloured shell prompt
    • Create multiple threads to delete multiple files with python
Leftovers
  • Electron and the Decline of Native Apps
  • Science
  • Health/Nutrition
    • [Older] In a nutshell: technology and progress in health IT

      On an average day, the computer adds a minimum of 10 minutes of work per patient seen. We have electronic health records to comply with the massive number of Federal mandates requiring it and to avoid the financial penalties for not complying. The Feds offered each hospital an 11 million dollar incentive for putting in these systems which made their decision to computerize far simpler.

    • Big Tobacco Won’t Take Menthol Ban Lying Down

      On November 15, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans to ban menthol cigarettes in a move that agency officials described as part of an aggressive new campaign against certain tobacco products. The plans have been welcomed by campaign groups who see mint-flavored smokes as a key means of hooking young people, particularly people of color. But given that certain manufacturers, like Altria Group, make as much as 20 percent of their profits from menthol cigarettes, the agency can expect a fierce battle. The industry will fight hard – and dirty – in its attempts to wriggle free of regulation.

      The menthol ban is just one of a package of proposals designed to protect teens from tobacco. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb – a cancer survivor – also plans to curb the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and flavored cigars. Yet, there’s no doubt which is the most significant of the proposals; the FDA has been planning a crackdown on menthol for years and has already secured a ban on several other flavors, thanks to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which expanded the agency’s ability to regulate the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products. If the agency manages to outlaw menthol smokes as well, it will have struck a decisive blow against what Gottlieb describes as “one of the most common and pernicious routes” toward heavy smoking.

    • Doctors Who Facilitate Torture Must Be Held to Account

      To prevent further stains on the medical profession, the names of those involved in torture and executions need to be made public.
      Physicians hold a special position in U.S. society. They are given a place of honor in return for the expectation that they will use their knowledge and skills in the public interest and adhere to a clear set of ethical standards.

      Under pressure from the government to misuse their expertise, though, some doctors have been willing to rationalize cooperation in unethical behavior. In recent years, nowhere has such ethical deviation been so starkly on display as in the case of the participation of medical professionals in the CIA torture program. The recent release of a CIA report, secured through an ACLU lawsuit, details how doctors willingly and even proudly became complicit in the CIA’s torture program.

      The warped rationalizations the CIA doctors used to justify their participation reflect a blatantly unprofessional eagerness to violate medical ethics when encouraged by a government agenda. Once they began participating in interrogations — which is clearly prohibited by American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines — CIA medical professionals went to absurd lengths to deny the reality of the abuses and physical and psychological harms they were witnessing and effectively presiding over.

      At one point, CIA doctors decided that waterboarding actually “provided periodic relief” to one prisoner “from his standing sleep deprivation.” The CIA doctors also claimed that when a different prisoner was forced into a coffin-sized box, this provided a “relatively benign sanctuary” from other torture methods. The descent into complicity with torture was so deep that they lost sight of the clear ethical breach in helping to modulate relative levels of pain infliction.

      Torture isn’t the only recent example of unethical physician complicity in U.S. human rights violations. Throughout the last century, and into the current one, physicians have participated in all methods of executions, most recently through lethal injection, in violation of professional ethical guidelines. In a number of states that execute prisoners by lethal injection, physicians have continued to consult on lethal dosages, examine veins, start intravenous lines, witness executions, and pronounce death.

    • ‘Victory’ for Women as Supreme Court Rejects Case Challenging Medicaid Funds for Planned Parenthood

      In a development hailed as “victory,” the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case that sought to prevent Medicaid patients from accessing key healthcare services from Planned Parenthood.

      By rejecting (pdf) the appeals from Kansas and Louisiana, the court leaves in place lower court rulings that bar the states from blocking Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid healthcare provider option to access services including contraception, wellness exams, and breast and cervical cancer screenings.

      In the 6-3 decision, it was Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch who dissented, saying the high court should have taken up the cases. Notably, conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the liberal justices in refusing to hear the challenges.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • This turbulent monk: Did the CIA kill vocal war critic Thomas Merton?

      Fifty years ago next Monday, Thomas Merton was found dead in his room near Bangkok, where he had been the main speaker at an international monastic conference.

      This most vocal critic of war was repatriated to the US on a military plane with the bodies of American soldiers killed in Vietnam. At the time, he was the best-known Catholic monk in the world and the news of his death at 53 was reported on the front page of the New York Times, beside that of the great German theologian, Karl Barth.

      It was 27 years exactly to the day since he had entered, at age 27, the Trappist monastery of Gethsemani, Kentucky, and this was the first time he had been allowed to travel abroad since then. His Asian Journal, including his encounters with the Dalai Lama, was to be published posthumously.

      In his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain (Elected Silence in the English edition), he relates his religious conversion was a best seller when it was published in 1948, translated into several languages and is still in print. Merton published more than 70 books, essays, poems and wrote thousands of letters. From his monastery and then his hermitage, he corresponded with Rosemary Radford Ruether, Boris Pasternak, DT Suzuki and countless others.

      [...]

      However, the cause of death given by the Thai police was a heart attack, and there was no autopsy. The presence of a bleeding wound at the back of Merton’s head was not investigated. Was Thomas Merton murdered and was there a cover-up?
      In 1997, Jim Douglass, a friend of Merton had already publicly raised the issue. In 2016, theologian Matthew Fox, who believes that Merton had been assassinated by one of the many CIA agents active in Thailand, reported that one of them had actually told him so.

    • We Bear Responsibility for the Conditions in Honduras Causing Its People to Flee

      The question is how much of the turmoil we own—and how we’re going to make good on our moral debts.

    • Oil tycoon, CIA chief, President: George H.W. Bush was the epitome of American empire

      The late US President George H.W. Bush, a luminary of America’s most powerful family, was the personification of a nation addicted to oil, obsessed with secrecy and war, and self-assured of its exceptional qualities.
      When considering the life and times of George Herbert Walker Bush, one is forced to enter into a well-guarded mansion that is steeped in so many accumulated layers of wealth, power and secrecy that just scratching the surface requires a pickaxe and dynamite. For here we are dealing with no ordinary politician, but rather the scion of a dynastic clan who had a profound hand in shaping America into the country it is today.

      George H.W. Bush was not necessarily predestined for a life of politics in the same way that career politicians, like John F. Kennedy, for example, or Bill Clinton were. Conquering a chunk of the global monopoly board took priority in the Bush household; political power came – like an after-dinner mint – more as a complement to the wealth obtained, and perhaps as a way to acquire more.

    • Let’s Talk About George HW Bush’s Role in Iran-Contra

      Hagiographies of the late president neglect his role in a secret war in Nicaragua and illegal weapons sales to Iran for the release of hostages.

    • How The CIA Used Brain Surgery To Make Six Remote Control Dogs

      Newly released files from “behavior modification,” or mind control, projects conducted as part of the infamous Project MKUltra reveal the CIA experimented in more than controlling humans with psychotropic drugs, electrical shocks and radio waves—they also created field operational, remote-controlled dogs.

      The documents were provided under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by John Greenewald, founder of The Black Vault, a site specializing in declassified government records. In one declassified letter (released as file C00021825) a redacted individual writes to a doctor (whose name has also been redacted) with advice about launching a laboratory for experiments in animal mind control. The writer of the letter is already an expert in the field, whose earlier work had culminated with the creation of six remote control dogs, which could be made to run, turn and stop.

    • How George H.W. Bush Rode a Fake National Security Scandal to the Top of the CIA

      On December 15, 1975, a Senate committee opened hearings on whether George H.W. Bush should be confirmed as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    • Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: A Practical Proposal

      In late November 2018, Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned public intellectual, remarked that “humanity faces two imminent existential threats: environmental catastrophe and nuclear war.”

      Curiously, although a widespread environmental movement has developed to save the planet from accelerating climate change, no counterpart has emerged to take on the rising danger of nuclear disaster. Indeed, this danger―exemplified by the collapse of arms control and disarmament agreements, vast nuclear “modernization” programs by the United States and other nuclear powers, and reckless threats of nuclear war―has stirred remarkably little public protest and even less public debate during the recent U.S. midterm elections.

      Of course, there are peace and disarmament organizations that challenge the nuclear menace. But they are fairly small and pursue their own, separate anti-nuclear campaigns. Such campaigns―ranging from cutting funding for a new nuclear weapon, to opposing the Trump administration’s destruction of yet another disarmament treaty, to condemning its threats of nuclear war―are certainly praiseworthy. But they have not galvanized a massive public uprising against the overarching danger of nuclear annihilation.

      In these circumstances, what is missing is a strategy that peace organizations and activists can rally around to rouse the public from its torpor and shift the agenda of the nuclear powers from nuclear confrontation to a nuclear weapons-free world.

      The Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, launched decades ago in another time of nuclear crisis, suggests one possible strategy. Developed at the end of the 1970s by defense analyst Randy Forsberg, the Freeze (as it became known) focused on a rather simple, straightforward goal: a Soviet-American agreement to stop the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons.

      As Forsberg predicted, this proposal to halt the nuclear arms race had great popular appeal (with polls showing U.S. public support at 72 percent) and sparked an enormous grassroots campaign. The Reagan administration, horrified by this resistance to its plans for a nuclear buildup and victory in a nuclear war, fought ferociously against it. But to no avail. The Freeze triumphed in virtually every state and local referendum on the ballot, captured the official support of the Democratic Party, and sailed through the House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority.

    • The Disasters of War

      Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church is located in the city of Kingston. Kingston, one of the hubs of New York’s Hudson Valley, has received a good deal of attention these last few years, as New York City continues–at an ever-growing rate–to function as a domain of the wealthy. Holy Cross/Santa Cruz, though, sits amid the large, ungentrified swath of Kingston unlikely to attract the attention of the New York Times or expatriate Brooklynites.

      The church’s hybrid name reflects its bilingual English-Spanish congregation. The divisions are purely linguistic. It is, Father Frank Alagna stresses, emphatically one community.

      Holy Cross/Santa Cruz is part of a sanctuary parish; Kingston itself—in no small part because of Father Alagna’s efforts–is a sanctuary city. The Trump administration’s bluster over the State of California’s sanctuary policies—besides playing on some of the populace’s natural antipathy toward California—is also a useful distraction. In reality, sanctuary cities and entities are widespread and geographically diverse, a good deal of them located in the so-called heartland: Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota.

      Father Alagna is a firm, yet soft-spoken presence. It is instructive, he notes, to consider the various meanings of the word sanctuary itself: a sacred space, a safe haven. Sanctuaries can exist within one’s heart and exist in the wider world. Holy Cross/Santa Cruz has applied the meaning of the word both as a spiritual manifestation and as an impetus for straight-out activism.

      [...]

      These refugees from Central America need shelter, food. They need pro bono legal representation. There are mandatory meetings with ICE that require transportation. Refugee parents can be snatched up a moment’s notice with no provisions whatsoever for their children, leaving them suddenly abandoned. It is important for the refugees to know their legal rights. ICE, as deadly as it is, does operate under legal strictures. They cannot, for example, enter a dwelling without a federal warrant.

      American racism is supple and easily adaptable. The Latino population is a visible part of the American fabric, yet amid this current orgy of hatred and fear, this same populace has been transformed into invasive hordes, ready to seize jobs, spread disease, sow wanton violence. And that, Father Alagna reflects, is inevitable when a convenient enemy is needed: The invisible are made visible.

      The endless analogies that render Donald Trump akin to a foreign despot—Hitler, Mussolini, Putin—are ultimately a cop-out; as if the administration’s destructive rampage is so exceptional and unprecedented that it simply must have come from outside, foreign sources. It is just the opposite: The ravaging of Central America has been an all-American legacy. The current fear-mongering, xenophobia, the outright sadism directed at children—all it needs no inspiration from abroad. It is ours as a country.

    • Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia

      All over Europe, the First World War had brought about a potentially revolutionary situation as early as 1917. In countries where the authorities continued to represent the traditional elite, exactly as had been the case in 1914, they aimed to prevent the realization of this potential by means of repression, concessions, or both. But in the case of Russia, the revolution not only broke out but succeeded, and the Bolsheviks began work on the construction of the world’s very first socialist society. It was an experiment for which the elites of the other countries felt no sympathy whatsoever; to the contrary, they fervently hoped that this project would soon end in a dismal fiasco. (It was also a revolutionary experiment that would disappoint numerous sympathizers because the socialist Utopia failed to spring whole, Athena-like, from the brow of the Russian revolutionary Zeus.)

      In elitist circles in London, Paris, and elsewhere, they were convinced of the ineluctability of the failure of the Bolsheviks’ bold experiment but, just to be sure, it was decided to send troops to Russia to support the “white” counterrevolutionaries against the Bolshevik “reds” in a conflict that was to morph into a great, long, and bloody civil war. A first wave of allied troops arrived in Russia in April 1918, when British and Japanese soldiers disembarked in Vladivostok. They established contact with the “whites,” who were already involved in a full-blown war against the Bolsheviks. In total, the British alone would send 40,000 men to Russia. In that same spring of 1918, Churchill, then minister of war, also sent an expeditionary corps to Murmansk, in the north of Russia, in order to support the troops of the “white” General Kolchak, in the hope that this might help to replace the Bolshevik rulers with a government friendly to Britain. Other countries sent smaller contingents of soldiers, including France, the United States (15,000 men), Japan, Italy, Romania, Serbia, and Greece. In some cases, the allied troops became involved in fighting against the Germans and Ottomans on Russia’s frontiers, but it was clear that they had not come for that purpose, but rather to overthrow the Bolshevik regime and to “strangle the Bolshevik baby in its crib,” as Churchill so delicately put it. The British, in particular, also hoped that their presence might make it possible to pocket some attractive bits and pieces of territory of a Russian state that seemed to be falling apart, much like the Ottoman Empire. This explains why a British unit marched from Mesopotamia to the shores of the Caspian Sea, namely to the oil-rich regions around Baku, capital of modern Azerbaijan. Like the Great War itself, the allied intervention in Russia aimed both to fight the revolution and to achieve imperialist objectives.

    • Rebranding Bundy

      Recent efforts to burnish the image of members of the Bundy Public Land Grab clan bear close watching. A flurry of Bundy-friendly articles and videos commenced in early November. This began with a fawning piece in the Idaho Statesman featuring Ammon Bundy “a sunlight kind of guy” at his apple orchard in Emmett Idaho. The article ran in papers across the region. The piece appeared just after Ryan Bundy was not elected Governor of Nevada, having garnered a whopping one percent of the vote.

      [...]

      Bundy should know about fear-based policies. He and his gang of militants and paranoid followers inflicted a great deal of fear when they seized Malheur Refuge and militants lurked around Burns. Not to mention the fear felt by federal workers on other remote Refuges or public land areas across the country — as the standoff dragged on and on, with the Feds failing to cut the power, failing to cordon off the Refuge and letting the situation devolve into a media circus, replete with lavish photo ops and videos of “patriot” gunslingers.The Bundy gang and Militia at Malheur intimidated the federal agencies, local officials, members of the community, and even hikers on the Refuge. They snuck around and spied on people and vehicles.While saintly Ammon was not photographed in public wearing a gun, his acolytes and the militia thugs that gravitated to Refuge were armed to the teeth.

      It’s clear that Bundy’s vision for the public lands he wants to take from the public is defense with the use of guns and fear. Henchman Lavoy Finicum promised range vigilante protection to public lands cattle ranchers who renounced federal grazing permits and let their cows roam a la Cliven during a strange “ceremony” held by Bundy at the Refuge to celebrate a New Mexico rancher renouncing his grazing permit.

    • Is Kushner Covering for Bin Salman Murder Charge so Israel can Usurp Palestinian West Bank?

      Kushner famously made a relationship with Bin Salman when he was still third in line to the throne, in spring of 2017, and may have tried to pull strings for his friend so as to slip him into the position of crown prince in summer of 2017. Kushner has stood with Bin Salman through a whole series of crimes, including extorting $100 bn from some 200 fellow princes and his Yemen war that has resulted in starving 85,000 Yemeni children to death. And now the advice to “weather the storm” of being caught red-handed murdering Khashoggi.

    • Tell Your Representative and Senators to Create a GAO Investigation Before Another Base Is Built in Okinawa

      Okinawa suffers under the burden of major U.S. military bases. The people of Okinawa and their elected representatives do not want another one built. Nor is it in the interest of the people of the United States.

    • Public Pressure Could Halt US Support of Yemen War

      US tax dollars are supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which has already claimed the lives of some 85,000 children, and 12 million more people are likely on the brink of starvation. As Nicholas Kristof wrote in The New York Times, “the starvation does not seem to be an accidental byproduct of war, but rather a weapon in it.”

      The United States has long been a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia, and both the Obama and Trump administrations have provided considerable military support to the Saudi war in Yemen.

      But Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has finally spurred both Democrats and Republicans to take steps to end US military involvement in Yemen.

      On November 28, the Senate voted 63-to-37 to advance a resolution that would direct the removal of US Armed Forces from hostilities in Yemen. However, S. J. Res. 54 carves out an exception for continued US-supported military measures against “al Qaeda or associated forces” that could be twisted to rationalize nearly any military assistance Donald Trump provides to Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Details emerge on HK biz partner of CIA mole recruited by Beijing

      Documents recently declassified by the United Kingdom National Archives could help unravel the mystery behind how Barry Cheung Kam-lun, the colonial-era Hong Kong business partner of an alleged CIA mole, was locked up, interrogated and eventually recruited by Chinese agents.

      Jerry Lee Chun-shing, a Hong Kong resident who spent 13 years working in the field for the US Central Intelligence Agency, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after he touched down at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport at the beginning of the year.

    • CIA employees called for “abolishing FOIA” as one of Agency’s goals for 1984

      During a four-hour team-building exercise, staff frankly discussed what the Agency should – and shouldn’t – be doing on the world stage

    • Politico Cites Anonymous ‘Ex-CIA Agent’ in Report Manafort-Assange Story Was Russia Disinformation

      As the Guardian’s scoop alleging Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange three times in the Ecuadoran embassy in London appeared to fall apart, Politico published a story that suggested the reporters involved were pranked by someone who wanted to discredit their work on Russia collusion.

      The piece was written by Alex Finley, which, according to Politico,” is the pen name of a former CIA officer and author of “Victor in the Rubble,” a satire of the CIA and the war on terror.”

      If it was true that Manafort, who briefly served as President Trump’s campaign manager, visited Assange, “the ramifications are immense,” Finley wrote.

      “It means the guy running Trump’s campaign met directly with the head of the organization that served as a tool of Russia’s intelligence services, distributing stolen Democratic emails in an effort to influence the U.S. presidential election. It could be the proverbial smoking gun that shows Trump’s campaign knew it was receiving help from Russian intelligence services and perhaps even aided the operation.”

      Reporters Luke Harding and Dan Collyns relied entirely on anonymous sources. They also said they saw an internal document from Ecuador’s intelligence service that lists “Paul Manaford” as a frequent visitor to the embassy.

    • WikiLeaks skewers Guardian writer for zany theory that RT is, wait for it… reporting news

      A Guardian writer failed to impress WikiLeaks after furnishing damning evidence that RT has run stories on Julian Assange, Nigel Farage, and even Russia’s special forces. Do you know what this means? Neither do we.
      After decrying a short RT video about Russia’s special forces, Carole Cadwalladr shared a major revelation with her 220,000 Twitter followers on Sunday: RT covers news stories and current events.

      “You know who else RT boosts? Julian Assange & Seamus Milne. But given the reaction yesterday I thought I’d put that in a separate tweet. I’m somehow to blame for pointing out facts. Huge apologies but Milne’s support for Putin has made him a Russian propaganda tool,” she wrote, misspelling the name of fellow Guardian contributor and communications director for Jeremy Corbyn, Seumas Milne.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • ‘These False Solutions Are a Joke’: Trump’s Pro-Coal Panel at COP24 Shut Down With Laughter by Climate Campaigners

      U.S. President Donald Trump’s representatives at the U.N. climate talks in Poland were openly laughed at on Monday.

      Disrupting the Trump administration’s attempt to promote planet-destroying fossil fuel production during a side panel at the COP24 climate talks in Poland, hundreds of indigenous and youth climate leaders captured the international community’s collective disdain for U.S. President Donald Trump’s subservience to Big Oil by laughing loudly at U.S. envoys as they attempted to speak, chanting “Keep it in the ground,” and taking over the panel to demand bold and just solutions to the global climate crisis.

      “These false solutions are a joke,” declared one demonstrator after the derisive laughter subsided, “but the impact on our frontline communities are not. We hold the solutions and we know that we must keep it in the ground.”

    • #NoMoreExcuses: Mass Action on Capitol Hill to Demand Dems Back Green New Deal Instead of Fossil Fuel Interests

      The protesters are expected to call on Democrats to reject the influence of carbon-emitting industries, from which the party received more than $5 million in 2018.

      “Politicians are giving bogus excuses for why they can’t support the Select Committee on a Green New Deal,” the group wrote in their call for attendees at Monday’s action. “They have told us us they haven’t read the resolution yet, that they support a Green New Deal but not this committee, that they admire our passion, but that we’re young and naive and impatient…They’re hoping our movement is just a flash in the pan and that they can wait us out.

      “That’s why now is the time to go bigger than ever. Between now and their final day on December 13th, Congress will be setting their agenda for 2019. That means we have just days to make sure a Green New Deal is front and center on the House’s agenda.”

      Varshini Prakash, founder of the Sunrise Movement, rallied more than 800 demonstrators Sunday night at the pre-lobbying training.

    • Thousands Protest at U.N. Climate Summit in Coal-Heavy Poland, Facing Riot Police & Intimidation

      This week Democracy Now! is broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, where the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait have blocked language “welcoming” October’s landmark IPCC climate report that warned of the catastrophic effects of a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, beyond which global crises could unfold at a rapid pace. The four countries rejected using the word “welcome,” insisting that members instead “note” the findings of the widely cited U.N. report. We begin our coverage with voices of some of the thousands of climate activists from around the world who marched in Katowice on Saturday, calling for world leaders to do more to keep rising greenhouse gas emissions in check. We also speak with a member of the European Parliament who confronted undercover Polish officials who were monitoring the protest.

    • 2018 will show record carbon emissions

      For the second year running, the world will have a doubtful achievement to claim by 31 December: record carbon emissions.

      Even before the close of 2018, scientists behind the biggest accounting effort on the planet, the Global Carbon Budget, warn that emissions from coal, oil and gas will have dumped a record 37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (a way of comparing the emissions from various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential) into the atmosphere by the end of this month.

      This is 2.7% more than last year, which also showed an increase. Human destruction of the world’s forests will add another four billion tonnes in the same 12 months.

      The news comes as 190 nations negotiate in Katowice in Poland to work out how to meet the targets they set in 2015 in Paris, to contain global warming to no more than 2°C by 2100, and if possible no more than 1.5°C.

    • Alberta tarsands production cuts here to stay: Indigenous-led movement will make sure of it

      An alliance of Indigenous Nations from across Canada and the U.S., now numbering 150 Nations, warned back in 2016 when the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion was first launched, that all attempts to further increase production of the tarsands, whether by pipeline, rail or marine tankers, would be blocked.

      An entire Indigenous-led movement of people of all ages and backgrounds has been standing up to these tarsands pipelines and enforcing the ban, including by starving the tarsands of its financial backers, sometimes by even going to jail and putting their bodies on the line. Heroes, all of them.

      Industry chose to ignore these warnings and continued to increase production, with plans for much more. They are now butting up against current pipeline capacity, adding to the already existing price differential that heavy tarsands oil always suffers from as a result of increased refinement costs and its distance from refineries.

      These production cuts are exactly what are needed and what this movement has been fighting for — to limit expansion of the Alberta tarsands.

      And for those saying this will be a temporary problem that will soon be solved when Enbridge’s Line 3 comes on line next year, don’t count on it — the resistance to that tarsands pipeline is massive and growing. Enbridge is truly in for a repeat of its Northern Gateway experience.

    • Shark Fishing Tournaments Devalue Ocean Wildlife and Harm Conservation

      Just over three years ago, I was clinging to a rock in 20 meters of water, trying to stop the current from pulling me out to sea. I peered out into the gloom of the Pacific. Suddenly, three big dark shapes came into view, moving in a jerky, yet somehow smooth and majestic manner. I looked directly into the left eyes of hammerhead sharks as they swam past, maybe 10 meters from me. I could see the gill slits, the brown skin. But most of all, what struck me was just how big these animals are — far from the biggest sharks in the seas, but incredibly powerfully built and solid. These are truly magnificent creatures.

      These animals (by which I mean any large shark, not just hammerheads) are at the top of the marine food chain. They are important keystone predators that can help structure marine ecosystems. Their role as predators can even help with carbon dynamics, keeping carbon locked up in marine sediments, or by controlling the amount of respiring biomass in our seas.

    • Carbon emissions will reach 37 billion tonnes in 2018, a record high

      Carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to rise more than 2% (range 1.8% to 3.7%) in 2018, taking global fossil CO₂ emissions to a new record high of 37.1 billion tonnes.

      The strong growth is the second consecutive year of increasing emissions since the 2014-16 period when emissions stabilised, further slowing progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement that require a peak in greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. Strong growth in emissions from the use of coal, oil and natural gas suggests CO₂ emissions are likely to increase further in 2019.

      [...]

      These analyses are part of the new annual assessment of the Global Carbon Project (GCP), published today in three separate papers. The GCP brings together scientists who use climate and industrial data from around the world to develop the most comprehensive picture of the Earth’s sources and sinks of greenhouse gases.

    • Better land use could slash US emissions

      US scientists have found a new way to cut or offset 22% of the greenhouse gas emissions from American factory chimneys, car exhausts and power stations: better land use.

      Their answer is to leave it to nature. What they identify as 21 natural climate solutions – better use of croplands, the restoration of forests and tidal wetlands, slowing the felling of timber and the containment of urban sprawl – could help limit global warming, slow climate change and reduce sea level rise for the nation that has over the last century emitted more greenhouse gas than any other country.

      The most effective single action in a study launched by the US Nature Conservancy and 21 other institutions, and published in the journal Science Advances, would be to step up reforestation: this alone could absorb the emissions of 65 million passenger cars.

      “One of America’s greatest assets is its land. Through changes in management, along with protecting and restoring natural lands, we demonstrated we could reduce carbon pollution and filter water, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and have better soil health to grow our food — all at the same time,” said Joseph Fargione, director of science for the Nature Conservancy, who led the study.

      [...]

      That more efficient use of land is a net benefit is not news: researchers have repeatedly argued that world food security is consistent with forest restoration, and that forests left untouched are of greater overall economic value than cleared land, and that considered changes to farming practices could both deliver more food and leave farmers better off.

      But, ironically, efforts to promote natural climate solutions in the US get only 0.8% of public and private climate finance, even though these could provide 37% of the climate mitigation needed by 2030. The scientists argue that if the US is to commit to the Paris Accord of 2015, to contain global average warming to 2°C or less above the levels for most of human history, then natural climate solutions make a promising start.

    • COP24: climate protesters must get radical and challenge economic growth

      At the COP24 conference in Poland, countries are aiming to finalise the implementation plan for the 2015 Paris Agreement. The task has extra gravity in the wake of the recent IPCC report declaring that we have just 12 years to take the action needed to limit global warming to that infamous 1.5ᵒC target.

      Although the conference itself is open to selected state representatives only, many see the week as an opportunity to influence and define the climate action agenda for the coming year, with protests planned outside the conference halls.

      A crucial role of environmental activists is to shift the public discourse around climate change and to put pressure on state representatives to act boldly. COP24 offers a rare platform on which to drive a step change in the position of governments on climate change.

      However, many environmental movements in Europe are not offering the critical analysis and radical narratives needed to achieve a halt to climate change.

    • ‘We Cannot Accept an Unjust Energy Transition’: Future of Coal Communities Becomes Crucial Issue at Climate Talks

      For the first time, the future of coal workers and communities across the world has become one of the most pressing issues of the global climate negotiations — infusing a sense of social reality within what is otherwise a very technical and political process.

      “We have been waiting for this for 30 years,” said Brian Kohler sustainability director for IndustriALL, a union representing 50 million workers across 140 countries.

      In the corridors of the UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland, Kohler is “delighted” that the topic has found its way high on this year’s agenda. It couldn’t have come soon enough.

      One of the first to have coined the term “just transition” in the 1990s, Kohler is well aware of challenges facing workers and communities relying on fossil fuels extraction for their livelihoods and the necessity to ensure the energy transition will leave no-one behind.

      Scientists from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have warned that the world has 12 years to take “rapid and transformative measures” and reduce emissions by 45 percent to remain below 1.5 degrees of warming and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

    • US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait Launch ‘Ludicrous’ Effort to ‘Sabotage’ Support for Key UN Climate Study

      Most world leaders gathered in Poland to discuss how to meet the goals of the Paris agreement seemed eager to heed the warnings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on what the world could look like if the global temperature rises to 1.5°C versus 2°C (2.7°F versus 3.6°F)—which has elicited demands for “rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented” reforms to avert climate catastrophe.

      The four-nation coalition of oil-exporting nations, however, wasn’t having it—and aimed to make it easier for governments to ignore such calls for urgent action to address the climate crisis by fighting against a motion to “welcome” the study. Instead, they suggested, it should merely be “noted.”

      “The United States was willing to note the report and express appreciation to the scientists who developed it, but not to welcome it, as that would denote endorsement of the report,” the U.S. State Department said. “As we have made clear in the IPCC and other bodies, the United States has not endorsed the findings of the report.”

      Last year, President Donald Trump revealed his intention to withdraw from the Paris agreement, provoking immediate condemnation across the United States and the rest of the world. Within a few months of that announcement, all other countries had signed on to the accord, leaving the U.S. as the sole nation opposed to it.

      Efforts by the U.S. and others on Saturday to block global support for the IPCC report raised immediate concern and frustration among climate experts.

    • ‘Shame on You’: Campaigners Disrupt US Fossil Fuel Event Attended by Climate Science Deniers

      Campaigners disrupted a US event promoting “greener and cleaner” fossil fuel energy at the UN climate talks, calling it “a farce” that had no place within the global climate negotiations process.

      Minutes after the start of the event on the fringe of the climate conference in Katowice, Poland, dozens of youth activists, indigenous campaigners and community leaders burst out laughing and stood up in front of the panel chanting “keep it in the ground”.

      A large banner with the “keep it in the ground” was deployed in a way to hide the panel from the audience.

    • Warning of Solar Geoengineering’s Dangers, Group Recommends a Global Ban

      A Harvard research team recently announced plans to perform early tests to shoot sunlight-reflecting particles into the high atmosphere to slow or reverse global warming.

      These research efforts, which could take shape as soon as the first half of 2019, fall under the banner of a geoengineering technology known as solar radiation management, which is sometimes called “sun dimming.”

      However, less than two weeks after the announcement, the climate science and policy institute Climate Analytics took aim at these ambitions in a new briefing titled ”Why geoengineering is not a solution to the climate problem,” which goes as far as recommending a global ban on solar geoengineering.

      The group’s briefing warns about the dangers of proceeding with solar radiation management (SRM) in particular.

      The basic idea behind SRM is to release particles into the Earth’s stratosphere, the atmospheric layer approximately 6–30 miles above the surface, where they would then reflect some of the sun’s light (and heat) away from Earth, resulting in atmospheric cooling.

  • Finance
    • Richard Wolff: There Are No Blueprints for Revolution

      Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Programs in International Affairs at the New School University in New York City. In this interview, Wolff discusses how the revolutions that overthrew feudalism laid the foundations for our current crisis of capitalism, why historical models of socialism put into practice failed, and what lessons we can learn from them in creating a new socialism.

    • Chicago Task Force Will Take on Ticket and Debt Collection Reform

      The city of Chicago on Thursday took a potentially big step toward reducing the harmful impact of its ticketing and debt collection practices on low-income and minority motorists, launching a task force that will examine issues ranging from disparities in enforcement to punishments for people who don’t pay their tickets.

      The task force, called the Chicago Fines, Fees & Access Collaborative, was created by City Clerk Anna Valencia and will bring together officials from police, finance and other key city departments, as well as more than a half-dozen aldermen, community organizations and independent researchers.

      The task force was prompted by reporting over the past year from ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ on the disproportionately heavy effects of ticketing on low-income and black communities. The reporting, combined with growing advocacy from community groups, has fueled an urgency for reform on the issue ahead of city elections in February.

    • Top FTC official is so such a corporate shill that he has conflicts of interest for 100 companies, including Equifax and Facebook

      Andrew Smith is Trump’s chief of the FTC Consumer Protection Bureau, in charge of investigating companies that abuse Americans — but he can’t, because he has previously provided services for over 100 of America’s largest companies, including Facebook, a whack of payday lenders, Amazon, American Airlines, Amex, BoA, Capital One, Citigroup, John Deere, Equifax, Expedia, Experian, Glaxosmithkline, Goldman Sachs, Jpmorgan, Linkedin, Microsoft, Paypal, Redbubble, Twitter, Sotheby’s, Transunion, Uber, Verizon, Visa, Disney and Wells Fargo.

    • The FTC’s top consumer protection official can’t go after Facebook — or 100 other companies

      Andrew Smith, who heads the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, would be in charge of handling investigations into some of the country’s largest companies and any consumer protection violations that may occur. But due to his conflicts of interest, Smith is barred from participating in any investigations involving the companies he previously provided legal services for.

    • Jared Kushner’s close relationship with Saudi officials is reportedly the result of a 2-year influence mission

      The Times, citing former officials, text messages, and emails, reported that Kushner and the crown prince have been in close contact for nearly two years, despite efforts from the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, to rein in one-on-one communications with foreign leaders.

    • The Wooing of Jared Kushner: How the Saudis Got a Friend in the White House

      Given Mr. Kushner’s political inexperience, the private exchanges could make him susceptible to Saudi manipulation, said three former senior American officials. In an effort to tighten practices at the White House, a new chief of staff tried to reimpose longstanding procedures stipulating that National Security Council staff members should participate in all calls with foreign leaders.

    • US-Saudi relationship enters uncharted territory

      “The Saudis have had public relations problems in Washington for many, many years,” he said. “I think that the Khashoggi murder in a sense crystallized some of these issues for people.”

    • Swept Up in France’s Yellow Vest Protests

      I’ve never been tear gassed before. The smell is similar to fireworks and the effect is explosive—and effective. I immediately wanted to get as far away as I could from the noxious source of burning eyes and throat.

      I was in Paris when France’s “yellow vest” (gilet jaune) movement shut down the center of the city.

      There were thousands of demonstrators, all wearing the bright yellow safety vests drivers are required by law to have in their cars.

      They had come from all over the country. The Paris demonstration was the latest escalation in a leaderless movement organized by activists through social media.

      The movement originated out of resentment over a hike in the price of diesel gas announced by President Emmanuel Macron as part of his efforts to address climate change. The price of gas in France is already the equivalent of $6.74 a gallon. Rural families dependent on vehicles would be stretched even further with the gas tax hike.

      But this is no American-style Taxed Enough Already (TEA) party protest.

      “These protests are not a backlash against the presence of the French state in the economy,” said Cole Stangler, a labor journalist who reports from Paris. “Many yellow vests are just asking that it act more fairly, infuriated by a government that asks them to give up more income each month at the same time as it grants tax cuts to the super-rich.”

    • More Than a Thousand Arrested as Yellow Vests Protests Over Economic Frustration Rage on Across France

      Some 1,220 people were arrested in France on Saturday as more than a hundred thousand took to the streets—leading to a lockdown and armored vehicles pouring into Paris—as part of the “Yellow Vests” or “Gilets Jaunes” movement that initially came as a response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to raise taxes on gasoline and diesel, which critics warn would primarily impact the working- and middle-class.

      The movement’s name comes from many supporters wearing the yellow high-visibility vests that all drivers in France are required to keep in their vehicles. Although Macron’s centrist administration announced last week that it was suspending fuel and electricity hikes for six months, outrage over growing inequality across the country has continued to produce massive protests.

    • Philadelphia Just Passed the Strongest Fair Scheduling Law in the Nation

      Philadelphia, the poorest big city in the country, just enacted the most sweeping bill yet to give low-wage workers some control over their schedules.

      The city’s new law, which passed the city council on Thursday, will require businesses with more than 250 employees and more than 30 locations worldwide to provide employees their schedules at least 10 days in advance. If any changes are made to their schedules after that, employers will owe employees more money. Employers will also be required to offer more hours as they become available to existing employees who want them rather than hiring new people, and they’ll be banned from retaliating against those who either request or decline more hours.

      The law is poised to have a huge impact: A recent survey conducted by UC Berkeley found that among food and retail sector workers in Philadelphia, 62 percent receive their schedules less than two weeks ahead of time and two-thirds work irregular or variable schedules. Almost half usually work 30 hours or less each week even though less than 15 percent have a second job to supplement their incomes.

      “It seems that employers are being less and less cognizant of their workers’ needs and home lives,” noted Nadia Hewka, an employment lawyer with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, which advocated for the bill. “This would just put a little bit of balance back into that equation.”

    • Macron to break silence, address French nation amid protests

      Pressure mounted on French President Emmanuel Macron to announce concrete measures to calm protests marked by violence when he addresses the nation Monday evening, and breaks a long silence widely seen as aggravating a crisis that has shaken the government and the whole country.
      The president will consult in the morning with an array of national and local officials as he tries to get a handle on the ballooning and radicalizing protest movement triggered by anger at his policies, and a growing sense that they favor the rich.
      Macron will speak from the presidential Elysee Palace at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT), an Elysee official said. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
      Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said earlier on LCI TV station he was “sure (Macron) will know how to find the path to the hearts of the French, speak to their hearts.” But, he added, a “magic wand” won’t solve all the problems of the protesters, known as “yellow vests” for the fluorescent safety vests they often wear.

    • French Working-Class Protesters Demand Higher Standard of Living

      Nearly 1,000 people are in police custody and at least 71 have been injured after protests that turned violent in France on Saturday. The grassroots protesters, called Gilets Jaunes—“Yellow Vests”—have expressed frustration with the high cost of living in France and the pro-business policies of centrist President Emmanuel Macron, called by some “the president of the rich.”

      Macron has proposed increasing taxes on diesel and gas, and although the government has since acquiesced and scrapped the proposal, many working-class people considered that demand a only starting point. The approximately 125,000 people wearing yellow vests who took to the streets Saturday in ongoing protests were joined by about 89,000 police officers, some of whom used tear gas on the crowds. Single mothers, factory workers, delivery workers, secretaries and other workers joined to protest tax cuts for the wealthy and a minimum wage that doesn’t cover basic expenses.

      “The Gilets Jaunes that you see in the streets, they’re mainly middle-class, and they’re being bled dry financially,” said Jacques, a technical college teacher and Gilets Jaunes organizer. “The wealth gap is getting wider, and we’ve reached a point where there are the very rich and the very poor—and more and more people are slipping into poverty.”

      “Macron’s first move in office was to slash the wealth tax for the mega-rich while cutting money from poor people’s housing benefits,” said Céline, a classroom assistant for children with special needs. “That is a serious injustice.”

    • Joe Kennedy and the Precarious Promise of “Moral Capitalism”

      We are a nation that was founded in opposition to hereditary rule. The founders rejected the notion of a king and embraced the principle that there were to be no royal families who generation after generation governed on the assumption of divine right.

      In recent decades, we have made two notable exceptions to this democratic disdain of dynasties. And no, the Kardashians don’t count.

      True, members of these two American dynastic families didn’t officially inherit office like kings and queens. They were elected, and to their credit, usually have embraced the concept of public service—albeit often in the tradition of a patrician noblesse oblige, which can translate as making lofty decrees from a pedestal while letting other “lesser” people do the dirty work.

      And like so many crowned heads, money has been involved. Lots of it, and much of it ill gotten, the profits of war, resource depletion, and the exploitation of humankind’s pleasures and sins. One of the sons of privilege joked after a primary victory that his father sent a telegram: “Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.”

      This past few days we’ve been reminded of one of the two families with the death of ex-President George Herbert Walker Bush: blue-blooded son of a U.S. senator; father of one son who served as president and governor of Texas, another who served as governor of Florida and unsuccessfully ran for the White House; and grandfather of the Texas land commissioner—which may not sound like a big deal, but if you live there, is.

    • The Inequality to Be Suffered by Our Children

      The fortunate ones will not be suffering. In the past eight years, the richest 5% of Americans have increased their wealth by $30 trillion — almost a third of total U.S. wealth — while the poorest 50% have seen their average wealth drop from $11,500 to $9,500. There is ample evidence for a nation soon to be made even more unequal by the transfer of wealth from rich baby boomers to their children and grandchildren, who will have done little if anything to earn it. The middle class will be further crippled by the ongoing growth in inequality. Unless progressive policies are demanded by American voters, most of our children and grandchildren will suffer from the continuing expansion of a Great-Depression-like wealth gap that already “dwarfs” the rest of the developed world.

    • Low-Income People Pay When Government Tech Contracts Sour

      Earlier this year, the tech company Novo Dia Group announced it would not continue as a vendor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, due to a switch in federal contractors. What seemed a run-of-the-mill business decision threw a very real wrench into the availability of locally-grown foods for low-income Americans.

      The problem was that Novo Dia held the only keys to a USDA program dedicated to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program processing software and equipment for 1,700 farmers’ markets nationwide. Without Novo Dia providing this service, markets would have no way to accept SNAP — a disruption that would cost farmers income and SNAP recipients food.

      If you’ve ever attempted to switch your cell phone provider but keep your actual device, you might be able to relate: Farmers’ markets had perfectly functional and expensive equipment that simply would not work with any other SNAP processing software. It’s the government equivalent of trying to keep your iPhone when you move from Verizon to AT&T.

      This episode raised a lot of questions about the government’s relationship with tech companies tasked with administering public programs: How does it choose who to hire? How does it hold those companies accountable? And how do those decisions affect the daily lives of low-income Americans who rely on being able to access their benefits?

      The answers are vitally important: Governments are increasingly relying on new technologies to sort applications, manage caseloads, and distribute benefits. How such technology is contracted, developed, and deployed will have real impacts on millions of low-income Americans.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • After weekend with Bernie, Niki Ashton talks Progressive International: ‘Our movement is a global movement. It must be.’

      The time to act is now. No longer can progressives afford to work only in silos.

      That’s why I joined Jane Sanders, David Driscoll, Renata Avila, Yanis Varoufakis and many others in launching Progressive International, a call for a grassroots movement for global social, environmental and economic justice.

      This call came at The Sanders Institute Gathering in Vermont last week, which brought together progressive leaders, activists, and movement builders from communities across the globe. I was on the panel with Sen. Bernie Sanders that preceded the call to create Progressive International.

    • Paul Ryan Was Always More Political Hack Than Policy Genius

      Paul Ryan’s farewell tour is going about as well as you might imagine. The retiring speaker of the House, who made a career out of promoting his aw-shucks humility, has presided over the revealing of not one but three painted portraits of himself. In less-controlled settings, his interviews with media outlets have, rather than provide a victory lap, only served to highlight the emptiness of Ryan’s words and the failures of his time in office. Speaking of those empty words, Ryan was also set to leave us with a formal farewell address at the Library of Congress earlier this week ― until George H.W. Bush’s funeral threw off the plans. It was yet another reminder that history has rarely been on Ryan’s side.

      Not surprisingly, that’s not Ryan’s own assessment of his time in public life. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Ryan blithely proclaimed that “history is going to be very good to this majority” ― the same majority that had just suffered the worst Republican losses since Watergate. Like so many of Ryan’s supposed grand ideas, the comment was little more than mere grandstanding. And it betrayed what has always been at the heart of his rise to power and his fall: a plain disconnection from the reality around him.

      Given the breathless media coverage Ryan enjoyed throughout his career, it’s perhaps remarkable how thoroughly both pundits and partisans are now ragging on him. Criticism from places like Salon and Vanity Fair was predictable, but conservative voices have also joined in, such as the libertarian outlet Reason, which pronounced Ryan an “abject failure,” and the conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, who provided a scathing review of his tenure. “Good riddance, Paul Ryan,” a headline in The Week happily announced.

    • Top 8 Ways John Kelly was an Embarrassment as WH Chief of Staff

      Trump announced Saturday that his chief of staff, John Kelly, will leave at the end of the month. It has been reported that the two men are not speaking. Kelly was often seen as a force for stability in the Trump administration, but as I warned when he first came in, he shared many of Trump’s crackpot far rightwing ideas and therefore was not in fact a source of stability for the country.

    • Project Troy: How Scientists Helped Refine Cold War Psychological Warfare

      This was a new kind of conflict requiring new kinds of weapons: psychological weapons. The question of psychological warfare preoccupied a small but influential group of foreign-policy officials during President Harry S. Truman’s second term. By the time that Truman left office in January 1953, the United States had laid the legal and institutional foundations for overt propaganda campaigns as well as covert action. During that period of experimentation leading up to the Eisenhower presidency, almost anything U.S. strategists could dream up, short of overthrowing foreign governments (that would come later), was up for discussion. Among other things, the Marshall Plan allotted $13 billion to rebuild Western Europe, Voice of America transmitted jazz and news to listeners in 46 languages in more than a hundred countries, and the CIA sent tens of thousands of balloons filled with anti-Communist pamphlets into China.

    • Progressive Activists Are Winning in Red States

      The tireless organizing of progressives in red states this fall did not just deliver one-time wins for progressive policies in areas controlled by Republican governments — it also established an infrastructure that could pave the way for progressive triumphs in the future.

      The numerous progressive policy victories declared this November — including many in states where Republicans were victorious on election night — were a result of dogged campaigns and a variety of strategies.

      Ballot minimum wages passed in Arkansas and Missouri. Voters expanded Medicaid in Idaho, Utah and Nebraska. Utah legalized medical marijuana. Voters in Charlotte passed what one community organizer called “the largest housing bond in the history of Charlotte.” In Austin, a $250 million housing bond was approved. Nashville approved a community oversight board for police misconduct cases. In Texas’s Harris County, 19 Black women running on criminal justice platforms were elected to various benches and a socialist became a misdemeanor court judge.

      All of these wins were made possible by an infrastructure that has been built by progressives over the course of many years. While election coverage tends to simply tabulate wins and losses, the backstory of these victories is the most crucial component. It’s this groundwork that can potentially deliver more wins to these regions, both inside and outside of the ballot box.

    • Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already

      American politicians can’t seem to make themselves wait until 2019 to start acting like it’s 2020.

      Former vice president Joe Biden wants us to know that he’s “the most qualified person in the country to be president.”

      Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick “is calling close allies and informing them he is not running for president in 2020.” The senior US Senator from his state, Elizabeth Warren, clearly wants to run but can barely walk at the moment after shooting herself in the foot with a DNA test.

      Outgoing Ohio governor John Kasich is still flirting with a doomed GOP primary challenge or an equally doomed third party run. The senior Senator from HIS state, Sherrod Brown, “doesn’t know” whether or not he’s the best candidate. Pretty much everyone else knows he isn’t. If they even know his name, that is (they don’t).

      Can you hear the voice of the late John Spencer as Leo McGarry on The West Wing, whispering in your ear? “I’m tired of it! Year, after year, after year of having to choose between the lesser of who cares?”

      Yes, the next presidential election will almost certainly be as nasty as the last one. It will also almost certainly prove even less consequential than the 2018 midterm, which was only “the most important election of your lifetime” if you happen to have been born on or after November 9, 2016.

    • Undocumented Citizen

      When Jose Antonio Vargas was sixteen years old, he discovered that his green card was a fake. Unbeknownst to the grandparents with whom he was living in Mountain View, California, the young Filipino immigrant took himself to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a driver’s license, only to be told by the clerk that his card was fraudulent: “This is fake. Don’t come back here again.”

      Vargas, who had been sent to the U.S. by his mother at the age of 12 (with the misplaced hope that she’d be able to follow him) was stunned and disoriented. He soon learned that the “uncle” who accompanied him on the flight from Manila was a smuggler hired by his grandfather, and he found himself as a teenager questioning all his relationships and his capacity for trust. Yet he persevered as one of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., succeeding in school and in college, and ultimately finding his way as a journalist, all the while engaging in what he called the common moves of undocumented people: “lying, passing, and hiding.”

      Recently Vargas came out with a new book, Dear America: Notes from an Undocumented Citizen, and in it he bears witness to the “homelessness” that he and others experience: not a traditional kind of homelessness, “but the unsettled, unmoored psychological state that undocumented immigrants like me find ourselves in.” Vargas argues that if the politics of immigration are ever to change, the “culture in which immigrants are seen” has to change, and to this end he has dedicated his writing, his documentary-making, and his public appearances to storytelling that can help change the image of immigrants and the understanding of immigration in American life.

    • A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity

      For 30+ years I taught a senior seminar course that I’d designed and titled The Politics of Personal Identity (or POPI). Limited to 12 students during their final college semester, it was a capstone course that endeavored to make sense of their liberal arts experience. Over the term we examined identity from every possible angle and their final assignment, announced the first day of class, was a 40-minute oral presentation titled “Who Am I? What Do I Believe? Why Do I Believe it?” This was followed by an extensive Q & A from the other members. The ground rules were that nothing revealed in the presentations would be disclosed beyond the classroom.

      In part, we relied upon McGill University professor Charles Taylor’s work to set our frame of reference of what it means to be a self, a human agent, a person. For Taylor, one’s identity is defined by knowing where one stands. That is, what are the commitments which provide the horizons upon which I base my actions in life, upon which I’m willing take a stand. In Taylor’s words and put counterfactually, “… if they were to lose this commitment or orientation they would be at sea, as it were; they wouldn’t know anymore, for an important range of questions, what the significance of things was for them.” If such a situation were to arise we would call it “an identity crisis,” a disorienting, radical uncertainly of where they stand. Put another way, to know who are is to know where you stand with regard to certain basic moral questions.

      Taylor reminds us that people we judge as shallow also have a sense of what’s most important but for whatever reasons it’s not well thought out or simply given by the prevailing culture. People considered to have depth or character have moved beyond this or are struggling to know what they believe is the “good” or what issues truly have meaning for them. Taylor again: we are authentic selves not because we possess livers and hearts but because we can answer the question “Who Am I?” How are my most critical defining relations lived out? What kind of life is worth living? Does my life amount to something? Where is my allegiance? How did I get where I am today and where is this quest heading?

    • Top EU Court Rules UK Can Change Mind Over Brexit

      The European Union’s top court ruled Monday that Britain can change its mind over Brexit, boosting the hopes of people who want to stay in the EU that the process can be reversed.

      The European Court of Justice ruled that when an EU member country has notified its intent to leave, “that member state is free to revoke unilaterally that notification.”

      Britain voted in 2016 to leave the 28-nation bloc, and invoked Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty in March 2017, triggering a two-year exit process.

    • Green Party says European Court of Justice ruling ‘lights way out of Brexit chaos’

      The Green Party of England and Wales and Scottish Green Party welcome the news this morning that the European Court of Justice ruling has confirmed the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50.

      Ross Greer, Green Member of Scottish Parliament and one of the pursuers of the action to the ECJ said:

      “This is a huge victory for the UK, achieved despite the Conservative government’s attempts to prevent it and limit their own options. We now have legal certainty that the UK is free to change its mind and stop the process of leaving the EU. We can stay in and enjoy not just the significant benefits of membership but the unique benefits of the UK’s advantageous membership and all of the opt-outs which come with it.

      “That is a choice for us alone to make and does not require the approval of any other EU state and it is a choice the people should be free to make via a referendum. It is clear that we don’t have to choose between becoming poorer with May’s deal or much poorer very quickly with No-Deal, there is another way. It’s time to let the public take back control of the Brexit process.”

    • Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism

      The UK has long been divided by class, region and race, but these divisions have been masked by political and economic success. This has meant the English, as the dominant nation in the UK, are not good at coping with a sense of failure and a loss of self-confidence.

      The current focus is on parliamentary turmoil and the acceptance or rejection of Theresa May’s muted version of Brexit but, whatever happens in the coming weeks, there will be no resolution of the overall crisis. On the contrary, the divisions exacerbated by Brexit will only get deeper and more toxic, dominating the national agenda to the exclusion of everything else.

      The nature of English nationalism – deeply ingrained but so self-confident its norms were assumed by most English people to be part of the natural order of things – is changing. George Bernard Shaw said “a healthy nation is as unconscious of its nationality as a healthy man is of his bones”. Smaller nations like the Irish and the Poles, with a history of defeat and occupation, have grim experience of having to nurse back to health the fractured bones of their nation but for the English worrying about their national identity and the future status is a new and unnerving experience.

    • Democrats Raise Prospect of Impeachment, Jail for Trump

      Top House Democrats on Sunday raised the prospect of impeachment or almost-certain prison time for President Donald Trump if it’s proved that he directed illegal hush-money payments to women, adding to the legal pressure on the president over the Russia investigation and other scandals.

      “There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House intelligence committee. “The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump.”

      Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described the details in prosecutors’ filings Friday in the case of Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as evidence that Trump was “at the center of a massive fraud.”

    • Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond

      The November 2018 election resulted in small but important victories for the American people and the progressive movement in the United States. Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives and flipped seven governorships. In the Deep Red South, Beto O’Rourke came close to beating the reactionary incumbent Senator Ted Cruz in Texas, and progressive African American candidates Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum just missed being elected as the governors of Georgia and Florida.

      Understanding the election victories in the context of the overall distribution of power – political, economic, and social – in this country is critical to developing a progressive path towards the 2020 election and beyond.

      [...]

      The Republicans’ Senate victories were primarily corrective realignments rather than actual shifts in power. The Democratic Senators who were defeated – Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, and Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota – were never progressive and wore the Democratic label incongruously in their conservative states. Their defeats actually pushed the center of the Democratic Party a bit to the left. The Senate elections in 2020 will provide greater opportunities for Democratic victories, if only because in 2020 there will be 21 seats now controlled by Republicans and only 12 by Democrats on the ballot, almost a complete reverse of this year’s numbers.

      By design the Senate will continue to be an obstacle to progressive political power in the U.S. The decision of the Founders to favor the interests of the less populated, agrarian, slave-holding states by awarding two Senate seats to each state means that 40 million Californians have the same representation as 580,000 citizens of Wyoming. Democratic candidates for the Senate received 46.7 million votes this year (40.3 million if California, where both candidates were Democrats, is excluded) compared to just 33.8 million for Republicans.

    • Sorry, Say Legal Experts, Creating Shell Company During 2016 Campaign for Secret Payments to Hide Extramarital Affairs Not ‘Simple Private Transaction’

      Legal experts and prosecutors are pushing back against the claim President Donald Trump made early Monday morning when he said his secret payments to silence women claiming extramarital sexual affairs with him were nothing more than a “simple private transaction.”

      Trump was referring to the recent court filings involving his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and the revelations that Cohen, at the order of the president, created payment schemes to get both porn actor Stormy Daniels and former playboy model Karen McDougal to be quiet about the affairs they claim to have had with Trump while he was married to First Lady Melania Trump. Trump has denied the affairs, but previously pretended not to know anything about the payments.

    • News From the Far Side of Nowhere

      All in all, check off these first two presidential years of his as a bravura performance, which shouldn’t really surprise any of us. What was he, after all, but a whiz of a performer long before he hit the White House? And what are we — the media and the rest of us — but (whether we like it or not, whether we care to be or not) his apprentices?

      Now, for a little breaking news of another sort! Unbelievably enough, despite all evidence to the contrary, there’s still an actual world out there somewhere, even if Donald Trump’s shambling 72-year-old figure has thrown so much of it into shadow. I’m talking about a world — or parts of it, anyway — that doesn’t test well in focus groups and isn’t guaranteed, like this American president, to keep eyes eternally (or even faintly) glued to screens, a world that, in the age of Donald Trump, goes surprisingly unnoted and unnoticed.

      So consider the rest of this piece the most minimalist partial rundown on, in particular, an American imperial world of war and preparations for the same, that is, but shouldn’t be, in the shadows; that shouldn’t be, but often is dealt with as if it existed on the far side of nowhere.

    • 8 Reasons That John Kelly Will Not Be Missed

      Trump announced Saturday that his chief of staff, John Kelly, will leave at the end of the month. It has been reported that the two men are not speaking. Kelly was often seen as a force for stability in the Trump administration, but as I warned when he first came in, he shared many of Trump’s crackpot far right-wing ideas and therefore was not in fact a source of stability for the country.

      1. Kelly thought that we are under siege:

      “We are under attack from failed states, cyber-terrorists, vicious smugglers, and sadistic radicals. And we are under attack every single day. The threats are relentless.”

      As journalist Michael Cohen wrote in response at the Boston Globe, “Cyber-terrorists have never killed an American citizen, no failed state threatens America and more Americans are killed by lightning strikes than sadistic radicals.”

      2. Kelly believed that construction on Trump’s border wall would begin by summer of 2017, and seemed to think that if it had, it would have been a good thing.

      3. Nor is the wall needed or wanted by a majority of Americans. Kelly was almost delusional about U.S. immigration enforcement: “Nothing’s been done in the past eight years to to enforce the border rules and regulations, not to mention many of the immigration laws inside of the United States.”

      Fact: The Obama administration deported at least as many people as the Bush administration had, if you use the same definition for deportations in both administrations. By sheer reported numbers, Obama deported some 2.5 million people during his eight years while Bush deported 2 million. They probably actually deported about the same number. Kelly’s bizarre notion that the laws were not implemented since 2009 is flat wrong.

    • If There’s “No Smocking Gun,” Why Is Trump So Terrified?

      The honorific changes hands with the speed of the news cycle, but for the time being, the title of “Smartest Person In DC” belongs to a 36-year-old Republican operative from Georgia named Nick Ayers. Currently serving as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Ayers’s name was all over the news this weekend after Donald Trump announced the at-long-last departure of his own chief of staff, John Kelly.

      Ayers was a shoo-in to replace Kelly, most everyone agreed. Those who considered him a good fit for the spot pointed to his youth and vigor — Ayers looks a fair bit like the cherubic mass-murderer from the second half of “Breaking Bad” — and his deep connections with the Freedom Caucus wing of Congress. Both would serve him well in the storms to come, but for one problem: Turns out he is actually too smart to take the job.

      Ayers took a long look at what was a supremely bad weekend for the White House and said, “Check please.” On Sunday afternoon, he sent his official regrets at turning down the C-o-S position with a tweet: “Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House. I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause. #Georgia”

      Translation: “Thank you but nope nope nope nope I’ll be over there doing MAGA things but nope nope nope no way no how. #nope”

    • Has Emmanuel Macron Lost the People for Good?

      French President Emmanuel Macron will be speaking to his nation at last Monday, after increasingly violent, radicalized protests against his leadership have shaken the country and scarred its beloved capital. His long silence has aggravated that anger and many protesters are hoping only to hear one thing from Macron: “I quit.”

      That’s a highly unlikely prospect.

      Instead Macron is expected to announce measures to reduce taxes and boost purchasing power for France’s working classes who feel his presidency has favored the rich. He’s being forced to act after four weeks of “yellow vest” protests that started in France’s struggling provinces and morphed into surging riots in Paris, scaring tourists and foreign investors alike.

      The 40-year-old leader met Monday in his presidential palace with local and national politicians, unions and business leaders to hear their concerns — but with no representatives of the scattered, leaderless protest movement.

      On Monday evening, Macron will give a national televised address, his first public words in more than a week. Some fed-up demonstrators have already promised new demonstrations this Saturday, regardless of what the president says.

      Participants at Monday’s meeting said the president didn’t leak his plans but seemed to grasp the gravity of the yellow vest crisis.

    • Marcy Wheeler: Mueller Probe Could Lead to Indictment of the Trump Organization

      Federal prosecutors have accused President Trump of committing a federal crime by directing illegal hush money to two women during the presidential election. The accusation was revealed Friday in filings made public by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, including a damning sentencing memo for Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who has admitted to paying adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal during the campaign in order to prevent them from speaking to the media about their alleged affairs with Trump. The sentencing memo was made public along with two new sentencing memos from special counsel Robert Mueller: one for Cohen and another for Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort. “We keep talking about whether you can indict a sitting president,” says independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, editor of EmptyWheel.net. “There’s still a debate about that, but, really critically, you can indict a corporation. You can indict Trump Organization.”

    • With an Impeachable Trump and Pence, Are You Ready for President Pelosi?

      So, now that we know that Donald Trump and Mike Pence reached the White House through at least two specific and separate criminal conspiracies, what do we do about it?

      Can they be removed from office? Can the election be done over? Can the Trump/Pence administration’s actions over the past two years be reversed, particularly the appointments of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and all the damage to our federal agencies?

      According to federal court filings last week from the Southern District of New York, and from the Special Counsel’s office, Donald Trump and Michael Cohen criminally conspired to hide from the American people the fact that Trump had sexual relations immediately after the birth of his son Baron with both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and that his affair with McDougal lasted about a year.

      Had Republican voters known about those affairs long before Trump gained the momentum he did during the period of the cover-up, Trump wouldn’t have become the GOP’s nominee and would now be back to playing the roles of a faux billionaire and a reality TV star.

      Similarly, those same court filings tell us that even after Trump won the GOP’s nomination for president, he continued to negotiate with the Russian government to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Presumably construction would begin right after he lost the election of 2016, which is fully what he expected: he hadn’t even bothered to write an acceptance speech.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Jewish Voice for Peace Targets CNN Over Dr. Marc Lamont Hill Firing in Sunday Paper

      Dr. Hill is accused of antisemitism by over-zealous organizations who falsely conflate visible support for equal rights and justice for Palestinians with antisemitism. A growing trend of Jewish progressives are calling for greater debate around Israel. By firing Dr. Hill, CNN is promoting a cynical and dishonest use of the term “anti-Semite.”

    • Will European Parliament oppose Authoritarian Censorship?

      On the 12 December, the European Parliament will vote on the “Report on findings and recommendations of the Special Committee on Terrorism”. If adopted, this text would not be legally binding but would recommend the adoption of the measures included in the Anti-terrorism Censorship Regulation: outsourcing censorship to Internet Giants and bypassing national judges (read our last analysis).

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Australian Government Passes Law Forcing Tech Companies To Break Encryption

      An actual software developer, Alfie John, has put together a splendid Twitter thread pointing out the flaws in the government’s assumptions about software development. Since the compelled participants are forbidden from discussing surveillance court orders with anyone (which would include coworkers, supervisors, the general public, etc.), these requested alterations would have to be implemented in secret. The problem is coding changes go through a number of hands before they go live. Either everyone involved would need to be sworn to secrecy (which also means being threatened with jail time) or the process falls apart. Changes ordered by a court could be rejected by those higher up on the chain. Worse, the planned encryption hole could see the compelled coder being viewed as a data thief or foreign operative or whatever.

      Law enforcement is going to have to make everyone involved in the product/device complicit and covered under the same prison threat for this to work. The more people its exposed to, the higher the chance of leakage. And if the code will break other code — or the request simply can’t be met due to any number of concerns — the government make ask the court to hold the company and its personnel in contempt for their failure to achieve the impossible.

      To make matters worse, the company targeted with a compelled access request may be monitored for leaks before and after the request is submitted, putting employees under surveillance simply because of their profession.

      In some cases, the only weakness that can be introduced will be systemic, which will run contrary to the law. How will the government handle this inevitable eventuality? Will it respect the law or will it simply redefine the term to codify its unlawful actions?

    • Goodbye FastMail: Aussie government succeeds in undermining trust in Australian tech companies

      I’ve been with multiple email service providers over the years, and have always used my own domain name so that I don’t get locked into any particular email provider. I believe this is important to maintain control over your own digital life and also crucial to be able to root up and move to another provider when there is reason to leave one provider for another. Whether that be for market forces like price, innovation, service policy changes, or as in this case: a change in service trustworthiness ushered in by the introduction of a new law in the country the company operates in.

      Long story short: The Australian government don’t believe anyone should be able to keep any secrets from them in any sphere so they’ve voted in a incredible dangerous law that seeks to undermine security and privacy protections on the web. The Telecommunications Assistance and Access Bill (TAAB or AssAccess) require technology companies like FastMail, Google, Apple, Cisco to provide Australian law enforcement and security agencies with access to all communications without any judicial oversight, transparency, or reason. The only restrictions offered to protect people’s privacy is the vague terms “reasonable and proportionate.”

    • Former GCHQ head warns of Facebook ‘threat to democracy’

      The former head of UK intelligence agency GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, has warned that Facebook could become a threat to democracy if it is not subjected to stricter regulation, reports BBC News.

      Hannigan told the BBC Radio 4′s ‘Today’ programme that Facebook was more interested in exploiting users’ data for profit than protecting their privacy. He said that it was an international business and made most of their money from advertising, warning that it cannot reform itself and needs outside regulation.

    • Facebook Plans to Repurchase $9 Billion More of Its Shares

      Facebook said in a regulatory filing that its board had previously authorized share repurchases of up to $15 billion as part of a program started in 2017. The $9 billion buy back announced on Friday is in addition to those prior authorizations, the company said.

    • Baby steps

      Five years ago, when I decided to devote myself to tackling the problem of surveillance capitalism, it was clear what we needed: convenient and beautiful ethical everyday things that provide seamless experiences1 on fully free-as-in-freedom stacks.

      This is as true today as it was then and it will remain so. The only way to compete with unethical products built by organisations that have control over hardware + software + services is to create ethical organisations that have control over hardware + software + services and thus have at least the possibility to craft competitive experiences. We remove our eyes from this goal at our peril.

    • UK Intelligence Agencies Are Planning a Major Increase in ‘Large-Scale Data Hacking’

      Intelligence agencies in the UK are preparing to “significantly increase their use of large-scale data hacking,” the Guardian reported on Saturday, in a move that is already alarming privacy advocates.

      According to the Guardian, UK intelligence officials plan to increase their use of the “bulk equipment interference (EI) regime”—the process by which the Government Communications Headquarters, the UK’s top signals intelligence and cybersecurity agency, collects bulk data off foreign communications networks—because they say targeted collection is no longer enough.

    • Bikini app maker draws another disgruntled developer to its Facebook fight

      However, Six4Three’s recent court filings show that its lawyers are also involved in a second lawsuit brought by a different company—one that promoted breast cancer awareness, among other apps—that levies very similar allegations against Facebook.

      This new case, Styleform IT v. Facebook, which was filed last month in San Francisco County Superior Court, makes sweeping claims that for years Facebook engaged in “fraudulent and anti-competitive schemes designed and effectuated by Defendant Facebook Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, with the intention of deliberately misleading tens of thousands of software companies.”

    • Facebook kept granting private data to high-profile advertisers long after it said it stopped

      Collins summarized the emails that were seized in a preface, stating: “Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data. It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not.” The existence of a “whitelist” suggests that the company was not serious about protecting user data nor honoring the privacy agreements it claimed to have put in place at the time.

    • Facebook Used People’s Data to Favor Certain Partners and Punish Rivals, Documents Show

      The documents show how Facebook executives treated data as the company’s most valuable resource and often wielded it to gain a strategic advantage. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, were intimately involved in decisions aimed at benefiting the social network above all else and keeping users as engaged as possible on the site, according to emails that were part of the document trove.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Arrest of Huawei CFO a dangerous precedent and threat to global trade

      COMMENT: The arrest of the CFO of Huawei Technologies Meng Wanzhou in Canada for the alleged violation of the company trading with Iran in contravention of US sanctions on that country has heightened already shaky trade relations between China and the US. It also threatens relations between China and the wider West.

    • Will Trump ever turn on Saudi Arabia? Pressure mounts for U.S. to prosecute Khashoggi’s killers

      Qahtani, with 1.36 million followers of his Saudq1978 Twitter feed, served as an ideological enforcer of MBS’s message in Middle Eastern media and was harshly critical of Khashoggi. The CIA believes Qahtani supervised the 15-member hit team drawn from Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Presidency and other security forces.

      The Saudi public prosecutor has arrested 18 Saudis in connection with Khashoggi’s death—but Qahtani is not one of them. A prosecutor in Argentina is looking into the case as a possible war crime. Yet, aside from the CIA, the Trump administration insists the intellectual author of the crime cannot be identified.

    • The Central European University is moving to Vienna

      Following an 18-month legal war of attrition between the Central European University (CEU), founded by the philanthropist George Soros, and his arch-enemy, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban, CEU has thrown in the towel. On December 3rd the university said it will relocate its American-accredited programmes, the bulk of its operation, from Budapest to Vienna from September 2019.

    • The CIA killed my father. What did they do with his body?
    • Why the Spectre of Truth Serums Haunts CIA Interrogations

      During the Cold War, the CIA conducted human behavior experiments using truth serums alongside LSD for interrogation purposes. However, in the Congressional enquiries held on the subject in 1977, CIA officials stated, “No such magic brew as the popular notion of truth serum exists.”

      The truth serum thus became a staple for Hollywood fantasies such as Meet the Fockers, where an ex-CIA agent drugs his son-in-law for possible infidelity. And yet, when I interviewed forensic psychologists in 2013 in Mumbai, Bangalore and Gandhinagar for my book manuscript titled Truth Machines: Policing, Violence, and Scientific Interrogations in India, they invariably insisted that truth serums are being used in the US.

      [...]

      The Office of Medical Services report notes a very explicit discussion and exploration for 2-3 months in 2002 on whether Versed, a more recent sedative, could be utilised for interrogations. The Project Medication (as it was termed) was apparently shelved in early 2003. The OMS report mentions that the use of the drug depended on two potential legal obstacles: prohibition against medical experimentation on prisoners, and a ban on interrogational use of “mind altering drugs” or those which “profoundly altered the senses.”

      Although authorisation was never formally requested, some scholars did acknowledge the legality of the technique. Alan Dershowitz famously wrote that there would be little difference between the act of injecting a liquid into a person without consent (in truth serum) and withdrawing blood for testing (for alcohol). At the core of such debates was whether the US Federal Torture Statute passed in 1994 would prohibit the truth serums since mind-altering drugs are specifically mentioned in the statute. The debate relied on whether the impact of the drug will lead to prolonged mental harm or not or whether there is specific intent to create such prolonged harm.

    • Truth about CIA’s illegal MKUltra mind-control experiments

      One document details how the CIA planned to drug “criminals awaiting trial held in a prison hospital ward” in a bid to develop “improved techniques in drug interrogation”.

    • Hypnosis, truth drugs and remote-operated dogs: Declassified papers on CIA’s ‘mind control’ research

      A renowned government secret hunter has published new documents detailing the CIA’s Cold War “behavioral modification” experiments (ranging from the bizarre to the stomach-churning), released under the Freedom of Information Act.

      The documents were published by “The Black Vault”, a site which has published enough government documents on the paranormal, UFOs and government mind control experiments to provide material for a dozen new seasons of The X-Files. While the site might sound like a fringe web-community indulging in paranoid cliches, it is also the largest repository of its kind aside from the US government with over 2,000,000 pages of information. The 800 pages of classified information published in November had been withheld from previously released documents that were made public through FOIA requests in 2004 and 2016.

      The newest documents, if verified, showcase some unprecedented disturbing outcomes of the CIA’s attempts to develop mind control techniques and truth serums as a part of its “MKultra” project, which the agency admitted to having secretly run until 1973. The releases include documents on a “successful” effort to create 6 dogs that could be “operated” to complete basic commands by remote control in the late 1960s. There are even diagrams of the surgical implants that employed “Electrical Stimulation of the Brain” to create controlled responses.

    • Spy watchdog completes probe into CIA rendition

      New Zealand’s spy agency watchdog has completed an inquiry into whether New Zealand was involved in the American CIA’s rendition programme.

      [...]

      The “enhanced interrogation” programme involved questioning al Qaeda and other captives around the world. The CIA used secret flights, detention and torture against terrorism suspects and others.

      “This inquiry has required considerable resources, not least identifying and evaluating the agencies’ relevant activities and records over the period 2001 to 2009,” Ms Gwyn said in the her office’s annual report.

    • MFIA Clinic Files Lawsuit Against CIA

      Acting for two investigative journalists, the Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic has sued the Central Intelligence Agency for silencing the top FBI interrogator of Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah. The lawsuit alleges a CIA effort to mislead the American public about the effectiveness of torture.

      The lawsuit was filed on December 3, 2018, in federal court in the Southern District of New York on behalf of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Raymond Bonner and Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney. Bonner and Gibney are collaborating on a documentary about the CIA’s use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” after 9/11. The film focuses on the use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, who was subjected to waterboarding at least 83 times after being secretly detained as a suspected member of al-Qaeda.

    • William Barr Is Out of Step on Criminal Justice Reform

      President Donald Trump announced Friday his plan to nominate William Barr as the next attorney general. Barr previously held the same role from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush. If confirmed by the Senate, Barr would replace Matthew Whitaker, who was appointed by Trump as acting attorney general after Jeff Sessions resigned last month under pressure from the White House.

      [...]

      Barr’s previous stint as attorney general also included troubling positions on criminal justice issues. During his tenure in the Bush administration, Barr helped devise federal policies that furthered mass incarceration and the war on drugs. Notably, in 1992, he published a book by the Department of Justice called The Case for More Incarceration, which argued that the country was “incarcerating too few criminals.” After serving as attorney general, Barr led efforts in Virginia to abolish parole in the state, build more prisons, and increase prison sentences by as much as 700 percent.

      To be sure, that was an era when tough criminal justice policies attracted support across the political spectrum. But Barr’s more recent record suggests, that unlike many in his party, his thinking hasn’t changed significantly since then, even as the failure of mass incarceration has become too glaring to ignore.

    • North Carolina’s Election Fiasco Is About Voter Suppression, Not Voter Fraud

      North Carolina voting issues are in the spotlight once again, thanks to swirling questions around the use of absentee ballots in the 9th Congressional district.

      Last week, the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously not to certify the 9th District’s U.S. House race — in which Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by a slim margin — because of irregularities in the district’s absentee ballots.

      In particular, fewer ballots were returned in the 9th District than in the rest of the state. In addition, out of the 9th District ballots that were returned, there was a higher rate of ballots that were spoiled — and thus uncounted — than in other districts, the Brennan Center’s analysis confirms. To top it off, these discrepancies appear to have disproportionately affected low-income communities.

      At least three voters in the 9th District have provided affidavits stating that individuals came door-to-door to collect mailed ballots, according to reports in the New York Times. These unknown visitors allegedly told the voters that they would deliver their ballots. One voter, Datesha Montgomery, reported that she voted only for school board members and sheriff, but the woman who collected her ballot said that “she would finish it herself.” This is illegal under North Carolina law. If voters are getting help with the ballot delivery, it can only be from certain direct family members (unless one of the special rules for nursing home residents is applicable).

    • Karen Kwiatkowski Delivers Speech After Receiving 17th Annual Sam Adams Award

      Ed Snowden, Sam Adams awardee in 2013, noted that we tend to ignore some degree of evil in our daily life, but, as Ed put it, “We also have a breaking point and when people find that, they act.” As did Karen. As did 16 of Karen’s predecessors honored with this award.

      With all the gloom and doom enveloping us, we tend to wonder whether people with the conscience and courage of Ed or Karen still exist in and outside our national security establishment. Our country is in dire need of new patriots of this kind.

      Meanwhile, we call to mind the courageous example not only of Karen and Ed, but also of Coleen Rowley and Elizabeth Gun, our first two awardees, who took great risks in trying to head off the attack on Iraq. And we again honor Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange who is now isolated in what the U.N. has called “arbitrary detention,” for exposing the war crimes resulting from that war.

    • Europe’s History With Refugees Has Something to Tell the U.S.

      Not long ago, the world watched heartbreaking images of fleeing refugees, not unlike those now emerging from the southern U.S. border.

      Within months, beginning in 2015, more than 1 million migrants and asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, and Africa had crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe—some escaping war and violence, some seeking work—and their numbers overwhelmed the continent.

      And now, as thousands of Central American refugees from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala continue to surge toward the U.S.-Mexico border, it’s worth noting important similarities to how European countries responded to its migrant crisis, the impact of which is still being felt there.

      “It really is kind of a search for survival, economic survival, political survival,” says Dr. Kathie Friedman, associate professor at University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

      Like the Central Americans coming to the U.S. border, those arriving on Europe’s doorstep also did so en masse. Some experts hesitate to call it the “new normal.”

    • How the More Than Me Charity Gamed the Internet and Hollywood to Win a Million Dollars

      It was the breakthrough moment for More Than Me. On Dec. 7, 2012, Katie Meyler’s tiny New Jersey-based charity defeated 24 other nonprofits to win $1 million at the Chase American Giving Awards, a weeklong competition for Facebook votes that culminated in a star-studded, nationally televised event.

      Most of the competing nonprofits dwarfed MTM in experience, exposure and cashflow. Some had annual revenue over $3 million; Meyler’s charity had $300,000. The previous year’s winner had over a million Facebook followers. Even now, after years of accolades, MTM has only 30,000.

      But More Than Me’s mission — educating girls in Liberia and saving them from sexual exploitation — had seemingly resonated with the voting public. That night, Meyler told the audience about a 12-year-old girl named Abigail, who she said was a child prostitute who dreamed of going to school. Meyler said a grassroots movement of passionate supporters had made it happen:

      “Thousands of you wrote I Am Abigail on your face, on your arms, even on your pets,” Meyler said. “You pushed your dad to email his network, and he smiled as he did. You stood in front of hundreds of people in lecture halls, and you spoke for Abigail; you were shaking, but that did not stop you…”

      The victory propelled Meyler and her charity to a new level of funding and prominence, and enabled her to launch an all-girl school in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.

      This October, ProPublica published an investigation, in collaboration with Time magazine, revealing how MTM had missed opportunities to prevent prominent employee Macintosh Johnson from raping girls in the charity’s care. After the story, the charity issued an apology and Meyler stepped down pending the outcome of investigations by the Liberian government, the charity’s board of directors and its Liberian advisory board. Protestors marched in Monrovia, board members resigned and a major donor suspended funds, citing the organization’s lack of honesty.

    • New York Police Union Says More Reporting On Stops/Frisks Will Hurt The NYPD’s Effectiveness

      The NYPD has been ordered to document its stops numerous times since the 2013 decision. And it has continued to fail to do so. Officers blame a lack of instruction and/or clarity from upper management. Upper management blames multiple court orders and outside oversight for its inability to deliver clear instructions. And the PBA blames the whole mess on officers being forced to engage in Constitutional policing, which apparently is the opposite of “proactive” policing.

      What the PBA is agitating for is the return to halcyon days of stop-and-frisk when NYPD officers performed hundreds of thousands of stops a year, a majority of them targeting the city’s minorities. Constitutional policing would trim hundreds of man hours from the production of mandated reports, but the PBA wants nothing to do with keeping officers on patrol, rather than tied up doing internal bookkeeping for the DA’s office.

    • The Strange Case Of The Guardian & Brasil

      The Guardian is of course the closest thing that the UK has to a mainstream progressive newspaper, and it had, until relatively recently, a rich history of quality investigative reporting. In the 1970s its coverage of Latin America, with writers the calibre of Richard Gott, was responsible for fixing stories like that of Chile’s in the public consciousness, and with that fuelling solidarity movements for the region’s oppressed peoples, suffering under sub-fascist imperial rule. It continues to host important and talented writers, and publish valuable material, particularly in its comment is free section.

      But in 2018 The Guardian is in trouble, financially and editorially. A far cry from the 1970s, it just published a sycophantic eulogy to former US President George HW Bush, whose own CIA oversaw the horrors of Operation Condor.

      To get a sense of the mindset now running the Guardian, contrast that of Bush Senior with its sour, dismissive obituary of lifetime champion of human rights, long serving Cabinet Minister and Labour MP Tony Benn, who wrote of the newspaper in 2008: “The Guardian represents a whole batch of journalists, from moderate right to moderate left – i.e. centre journalists – who, broadly speaking, like the status quo. They like the two-party system, with no real change. They’re quite happy to live under the aegis of the Americans and NATO. They are just the Establishment. It is a society that suits them well.”

      Earlier in 2018 The Guardian faced criticism for running propagandist advertisements for the Saudi Arabian regime, and is now facing questions over an apparently false article claiming that Trump ally Paul Manafort had visited Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy. The story was quickly debunked, and the paper is now refusing to answer questions as to how they came to publish such claims without evidence. No other media outlet corroborated the report.

    • The Heresy of White Christianity

      There are, as Cornel West has pointed out, only two African-Americans who rose from dirt-poor poverty to the highest levels of American intellectual life—the writer Richard Wright and the radical theologian James H. Cone.

      Cone, who died in April, grew up in segregated Bearden, Ark., the impoverished son of a woodcutter who had only a sixth-grade education. With an almost superhuman will, Cone clawed his way up from the Arkansas cotton fields to implode theological studies in the United States with his withering critique of the white supremacy and racism inherent within the white, liberal Christian church. His brilliance—he was a Greek scholar and wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Swiss theologian Karl Barth—enabled him to “turn the white man’s theology against him and make it speak for the liberation of black people.” God’s revelation in America, he understood, “was found among poor black people.” Privileged white Christianity and its theology were “heresy.” He was, until the end of his life, possessed by what the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr called “sublime madness.” His insights, he writes, “came to me as if revealed by the spirits of my ancestors long dead but now coming alive to haunt and torment the descendants of the whites who had killed them.”

      “When it became clear to me that Jesus was not biologically white and that white scholars actually lied by not telling people who he really was, I stopped trusting anything they said,” he writes in his posthumous memoir, “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian,” published in October.

      “White supremacy is America’s original sin and liberation is the Bible’s central message,” he writes in his book. “Any theology in America that fails to engage white supremacy and God’s liberation of black people from that evil is not Christian theology but a theology of the Antichrist.”

    • Greens: “The Stansted 15 are human rights defenders – the real criminals are the Home Office.”

      “The treatment of the Stansted 15 is unprecedented and is wrong. From the trumped up charges they faced to the verdicts handed down. The principled action the Stansted 15 took exposed the brutality of these secretive charter flights, and a number of people set to be removed from the UK on that plane have been able to stay in the UK safely as a result of their principled actions. The Stansted 15 are human rights defenders – the real criminals are the Home Office.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • AT&T Finds Yet Another Way To Nickel-And-Dime Its Broadband, TV Customers

      You’ll recall AT&T just got done jacking up streaming TV prices on the heels of its massive merger with Time Warner, just like deal critics had warned. AT&T then quickly doubled an already bogus “administrative fee” on the company’s wireless customers, alone netting AT&T an additional estimated $800 million per year. AT&T’s now hinting it will raise streaming prices even higher (AT&T’s version of competition). This is of course on top of existing TV and broadband rate hikes, usage caps, hidden fees, and other soaring consumer costs.

      Most of this is occurring for two reasons. One, AT&T’s desperately trying to bounce back from the utterly massive debt load it incurred from the one-two punch of the DirecTV and Time Warner mergers. As is usually the case, the one paying for our mindless merger mania is usually… you. Two, because AT&T and other telecom and media giants have been on a tear effectively neutering all federal oversight of their efforts, there’s nobody really in power interested in doing much about it. The above example makes it pretty clear why AT&T and Ajit Pai have also tried to neuter state consumer protection authority.

    • Dark Days are Waiting the Open Internet

      There’s no argument that the Internet is one of the backbones of the modern world today. Yet, it seems that we are heading toward the end of the open Internet on the long run; An Internet that respects the user privacy & security, and protects him both from censorship and tracking seems to be long gone. The future is yet to become darker with corporations gaining more power.

      If you are someone interested in online privacy and security, then you need to understand all these dynamics together, as many independent forces each doing their best to serve their own interests rather than a linear set of factors happening at specific points in time. Just like you try to understand history as social, economic, political, religious and scientific factors, you should try to understand how the dynamics are working today to sum in total to destroy the open Internet.

      There’s no secret Illuminati-supported foundation to destroy the Internet, it’s just the combination of governments, spy agencies, and giant corporations putting their hands on it each by its own. We are going to see why this is the case.

  • DRM
    • [Old] Apple can delete purchased movies from your library without telling you

      “You may be able to redownload previously acquired Content (‘Redownload’) to your devices that are signed in with the same Apple ID (‘Associated Devices’),” says the TOS, but also, “Content may not be available for Redownload if that Content is no longer offered on our Services.” For reasons that are easy to guess, Apple has never widely advertised that, by deleting locally stored content, users are actually rolling the dice as to whether they will ever be able to get it back.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Germany: Synchronmotor, Federal Court of Justice of Germany, X ZR 51/06, 29 May 2018

      The FCJ confirmed that inventive step is to be acknowledged if the feature(s) distinguishing the claimed invention from the starting point for the assessment of inventive step are not directly and unambiguously derivable or at least rendered obvious by the prior art.

    • Trump and China: Going with Patent Holders Against Workers

      While most of us don’t have access to the inner workings of the Trump administration to know exactly what is going on with its negotiations with China, given the public accounts and statements, it seems workers have clearly lost. Trump seems to have made the concerns of companies like Boeing, who want more help maintaining their control over technology, his top priority. The impact of an under-valued Chinese currency, which has led to a large U.S. trade deficit, seems to have been dropped from discussion.

      The disappearance of currency “manipulation” from the discussion is more than a bit ironic, since Trump made this a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He ran around the country complaining that China was a world class currency manipulator. He pledged that he would declare China a currency manipulator on Day One of his administration and apply corresponding trade sanctions.

      We’re getting close to Day 700 and there is still no declaration on China’s currency practices. Furthermore, the topic has been virtually dropped from public discussions.

    • Trade: It’s Still About Class, Not Country

      While Donald Trump keeps taking wild shots in his trade wars with China and other countries, the media have been cheering him on in at least one aspect of his campaign. All the elite types agree that “we” have an interest in clamping down on China’s alleged theft of our intellectual property. While some “we” might share that interest, most of the country does not.

      Just to be clear on the agenda here, the alleged theft takes three forms. The first is what passes for actual theft. It is when a Chinese company, possibly with help from the Chinese government, literally takes technology from a US company. This can happen, for example, if they infiltrate its internal computer system.

      While this is undeniably a bad practice, it is not unique to Chinese companies. In fact, many US companies also engage in such practices. Uber famously agreed to pay Waymo $245 million for stealing some of its software for self-driving cars. It would be hard to know if China’s companies are more guilty in this area than anyone else, but we can agree it is a bad practice that should be stopped.

    • Trademarks
      • Whole visible surface or predominant colour? Cadbury’s plays spot the series mark

        Frustratingly for Cadbury’s the issue arises because Cadbury’s followed guidance from the registrar in 1997 and amended their 1995 mark from a description which read “the mark consists of the colour purple” to the above longer form and more confusing wording. This change was made at the express suggestion of the registrar (Cadbury’s application had been to amend the description to “the mark consists of the colour purple as shown applied to the packaging or labelling of goods covered by the registration”.

        The reason for this application to change the mark was the impact of the decision in Société des Produits Nestlé SA v Cadbury UK Limited [2013] EWCA Civ 1174 (“Cadbury 1″) – see the IPKat post here. This case considered whether the description together with the mark defined a sign within the meaning of section 1(1) TMA (it did not). As a result of the Court of Appeal decision, Cadbury’s had to revisit its earlier 1995 mark which had the same description and consequently was vulnerable to an invalidity attack. A small ray of hope was glimpsed in the Court of Appeal’s analysis and it concluded that it might be possible to remove the “predominant colour” wording from the description, and leave only the “whole surface” wording. If this had been possible, it might have been possible to overcome the Cadbury 1 objection.

    • Copyrights
      • Bizarre Blocking Order Targets ‘Pirate’ Domains Before They’re Registered

        Last week an Indian court issued one of the broadest site-blocking injunctions to date. To prevent the film “2.0″ from being pirated by the masses, the Madras High Court ordered local ISPs to preemptively block 12,564 domain names. TorrentFreak can now reveal that this order only targets 16 websites and that most of the listed domains are not even registered.

      • Huge Torrent Tracker Calls it Quits After 12 Years, Citing Article 13

        Leechers Paradise, one of the world’s longest-standing and most important BitTorrent trackers, has shut down for good. Launched 12 years ago, the site was recently coordinating the transfers of 132 million peers but now, with the EU’s Article 13 legislation looming, its operator says its time to close before the platform is rendered illegal.

      • Take-Two Sues GTA Online Cheat Maker, Demands $150,000 Compensation

        Rockstar Games and its parent company Take-Two Interactive have been targeting GTA Online cheat makers for a while now. After an intense legal battle with the creator of the OpenIV modding tool last year, the GTA V developers have set their sights on the person behind the GTA Online cheat tool called “Elusive”. As reported by TorrentFreak, Take-Two has sued the alleged creator of Elusive on the basis of copyright infringement, and requests $150,000 in damages.

        The past two years have seen a surge in the amount of copyright infringement lawsuits from large companies, like Nintendo and Take-Two. Jhonny Perez, the creator of the ‘Elusive’, was sued earlier this year in August for developing and distributing the GTA Online cheating software.

      • GTA V’s Take-Two Wants $150,000 in Damages From Cheat Maker

        Rockstar Games’ parent company Take-Two Interactive has filed a motion for default judgment against the alleged creator of the “Elusive” GTA V cheat. The company estimates that the cheat has caused severe harm, and requests $150,000 compensation, the maximum statutory damages for copyright infringement.

US Courts Make the United States’ Patent System Sane Again

Monday 10th of December 2018 08:57:22 AM

“The only patent that is valid is one which this Court has not been able to get its hands on.”

–Supreme Court Justice Jackson

Summary: 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and other factors are making the patent system in the US a lot more sane

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the courts aren’t the best of friends these days. The courts often disagree with the decisions of the Office. The higher courts also increasingly resist/anatagonise Office-friendly and trolls-friendly litigation venues. Consider TC Heartland and its application by lower courts.

“Seven Networks LLC on Friday urged the Federal Circuit not to reconsider a ruling that allowed a patent lawsuit it brought against Google LLC to remain” (in Texas), Matthew Bultman (Law360) wrote. Also from Bultman and colleagues we have this: “Verizon subsidiary Oath Holdings Inc. can defend a patent suit over advertisement technology in Delaware, a New York federal judge has ruled, following the Federal Circuit’s decision that the judge failed…”

“The higher courts also increasingly resist/anatagonise Office-friendly and trolls-friendly litigation venues.”Lawyers are trying to find creative new ways to pick courts/judges in patent cases. It’s not working for them. Well done, US courts and judges. When it comes to tackling the Cult of Patents at least. When I say “Cult of Patents” I don’t mean to suggest all patents are inherently evil. The same goes for religion. It’s when people take it to the extreme that the whole broth spoils and the system looks like rubbish. Here is more on this from Watchtroll and from Law360: “A Texas federal court has jurisdiction to hear whether several banks infringe a licensing company’s patents covering electronic banking procedures because the company sent demand letters to the institutions…”

There’s nothing such parasites won’t do to drag victims to patent courts that advertise their bias.

“It’s when people take it to the extreme that the whole broth spoils and the system looks like rubbish.”It has meanwhile been pointed out, e.g. in a couple tweets [1, 2] spotted by Florian Müller, that Makan Delrahim (former lobbyist, consistent with a pattern of corrupt officials) may be having yet more problems [1, 2].

“William Barr,” one said, “who may become the next attorney general, had a serious dispute with Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department’s top antitrust lawyer, implicitly accusing him and his deputy of lying about a meeting on the AT&T-Time Warner Merger https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/12/07/trumps-likely-pick-attorney-general-said-justice-departments-antitrust-chief-gave-inaccurate-account-meeting-with-time-warner/?utm_term=.964435282f54 …”

“Makan Delrahim just backed the Antitrust Division out of the 2013 agreement with the PTO on FRAND remedies,” said the other tweet, “apparently it now takes the position that you can get an injunction even if you’ve committed not to.”

The CCIA’s Josh Landau has meanwhile written a blog post about it. To quote:

This alone threatens to reduce U.S. competitiveness in standardized technologies. But Delrahim goes further, claiming that competitors will be subjected to new antitrust scrutiny for making reasonable commercial decisions about which standard-setting organizations (SSOs) to participate in.

For example, Delrahim threatens to sue companies that choose to avoid SSOs that are too favorable to patent holders. Participation in a standard-setting organization is voluntary.1 Stating that “competitors would come under scrutiny if they orchestrated a group boycott of an SSO with a patent policy that is unfavorable to their commercial interests,” Delrahim appears to suggest that DoJ will use its authority to investigate companies who don’t want to participate in standards that have unfavorable commercial terms and organize competing standards with better terms.

Separately, Landau wrote: “My sympathy for journalists grows in direct proportion to the number of Friday night emails I receive calling me “enemy of the people” for having the gall to post a summary of a paper showing evidence that NPEs don’t promote innovation.”

“There’s nothing such parasites won’t do to drag victims to patent courts that advertise their bias.”I received death wishes for criticising patent trolls. These people bully companies for a living, so why not bully their critics as well?

Landau (in his capacity as CCIA staff) cites the recent work of Colleen Chien and Jiun-Ying Wu on 35 U.S.C. § 101 and says “Increase In § 101 Rejections Due Almost Entirely To Rejected Business Methods” (there are other aspects we covered here, such as fewer people even bothering to sue with weak patents). To quote Landau:

Prof. Colleen Chien, along with her student Jiun-Ying Wu, recently published an analysis of the impact of § 101 on patent prosecution. While their analysis clarifies which art units are impacted by § 101 decisions like Alice and Mayo, the published article doesn’t clearly answer the question of how each art unit contributes to the overall impact on prosecution from § 101. Fortunately, thanks to Prof. Chien and Wu’s decision to publish the code used to derive their data from the Google Patents public dataset for BigQuery, it’s easy to answer that question.

And the answer isn’t surprising. Essentially the entire increase in rejections from § 101 is driven by increased rejections of business method patents.

Another group that combats patent maximalism is Unified Patents, whose CEO was recently interviewed. Watchtroll really, really does not like Unified Patents. This should mean that patent trolls hate Unified Patents. This means Unified Patents is technology’s friend. Here is what Watchtroll wrote 6 days ago: “On Tuesday, November 27th, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a redacted version of a decision to institute an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding petitioned by Unified Patents to challenge the validity of patent claims that have been asserted in district court against at least one of Unified’s subscribing members. The PTAB panel of administrative patent judges (APJs) decided to institute the IPR despite the patent owners’ assertion that the petition should be denied because Unified didn’t identify all real parties in interest (RPIs) including members of Unified’s Content Zone.”

“Unified Patents does a valuable service, whose net effect is removal of bogus patents, using Sections 101-103 typically.”Yes, there’s no reason why Unified Patents, which lowers the costs of IPRs by sort of crowdfunding them, can be seen as ineligible a petitioner. PTAB agrees. Unified Patents does a valuable service, whose net effect is removal of bogus patents, using Sections 101-103 typically. Prior art, for example, has just been found for U.S. Patent 7,050,043. Bad news for this patent troll as the panel will tackle Proximity Sensors with an inter partes review (IPR):

Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winner, Hanhwe Kim, who received a cash prize of $1000 for his prior art submission for U.S. Patent 7,050,043, owned by Proximity Sensors of Texas, LLC, a well-known NPE. The ’043 patent, directed toward a proximity sensor, has been asserted against several companies in district court litigation. To help the industry fight bad patents, we have published the winning prior art below.

We would also like to thank the dozens of other high-quality submissions that were made on this patent. The ongoing contests are open to anyone, and include tens of thousands of dollars in rewards available for helping the industry to challenge NPE patents of questionable validity by finding and submitting prior art in the contests. Visit PATROLL today to learn more about how to participate.

And another patent troll, this time E-Credit Express, was mentioned by Unified Patents on the same day. Prior art found again:

Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winner, Hanhwe Kim, who received a cash prize of $1,500 for his prior art submission for U.S. Patent 8,909,551, owned by E-Credit Express, LLC, an NPE. The ’551 patent, directed toward an electronic credit and loan processing method, has been asserted against several companies in district court litigation. To help the industry fight bad patents, we have published the winning prior art below.

We would also like to thank the dozens of other high-quality submissions that were made on this patent. The ongoing contests are open to anyone, and include tens of thousands of dollars in rewards available for helping the industry to challenge NPE patents of questionable validity by finding and submitting prior art in the contests. Visit PATROLL today to learn more about how to participate.

People can now win $1000 by helping an interception of the patent weaponised by Kojicast, another patent troll. As Unified Patents put it the following day:

On December 7, 2018, Unified added a $1,000 contest to PATROLL seeking prior art for US Patent No. 9749380 owned and asserted by Kojicast, LLC (an NPE). The ’380 patent, generally related to a media streaming method and system, has been asserted against Dailymotion S.A. in the Texas Eastern District Court.

A lot of these are software patents, which could probably also be tackled by Section 101. The legal angle depends on the petitioner’s attorney.

“People can now win $1000 by helping an interception of the patent weaponised by Kojicast, another patent troll.”And speaking of software patents, TechDirt now compares them to pot patents with plenty of prior art.

“This is actually quite reminiscent of the mess that came with software patents,” Benjamin Henrion wrote, citing “What Do Pot And Software Have In Common? Stupid Patent Thickets Based On A Lack Of Patented Prior Art” (originally published in TechDirt and soon thereafter reposted by Above The Law). It’s about the time the Federal Circuit (CAFC) opened the door to software patents (before today’s 35 U.S.C. § 101):

Basically, there hasn’t been that much official prior art because pot was considered illegal for so many years, and no one was rushing to patent anything. And, of course, patent examiners are somewhat limited in what they’re set up to research regarding prior art, and they often rely on earlier patents and scientific articles as the basis for prior art searches. And, with pot, there aren’t so many of those.

Of course, this is actually quite reminiscent of the mess that came with software patents. For a long time, most people didn’t consider most software to be patentable (this is not entirely accurate, as there are software patents going back many decades, but many people considered it limited to a few special cases of software). However, in 1998, we got the State St. Bank case, in which the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit basically threw open the doors on patenting almost any software. And those doors remained completely wide open until the Alice v. CLS Bank decision in 2014 (which hasn’t totally cleaned up the mess of the State Street ruling, but has certainly helped dial back the insanity).

But, for nearly two decades after the State Street ruling, the US Patent Office was patenting software willy nilly — often despite much of it having tons of prior art or being completely obvious. A big part of the problem was that examiners, again, focused on mainly looking at earlier patents and scientific journals for evidence of prior art. But because so many people didn’t think that most software was patentable, there were very few patents to look at, and it’s pretty rare for anyone to write up the details of software in scientific journals (they just make the damn software).

Days ago there was this report titled “Higher Law: Bay State Marijuana Shops Open | Tracking Pot Patent Cases | Plus: Who Got the Work” (litigation work).

“The patent system may be out of control, but there’s still hope that PTAB and the courts above it will correct things.”Welcome the parasites of pot. Who will benefit from people getting high? Yes, the lawyers (they wanted patents everything, making themselves ‘necessary’).

The patent system may be out of control, but there’s still hope that PTAB and the courts above it will correct things. What about European courts?

Yesterday we said there should be no patents on plants (like pot) and people now point out that “On 7 December 2018, the EPO posted a report on its website relating to the decision” (to allow patents on plants at the EPO, even in defiance of the EPC). The next comment speaks of the UPC (which is likely dead): “You seem to forget that the EPC has 38 member states and the EU presently 28 and soon only 27. You might thus have a long time to wait until the EU takes control of the EPO on the pretext of harmony. If the EU could have taken over the EPO, we would not have to do with the UPC, but EPLA would probably be in place now. However, Opinion C 1/09 came in between. I do not think that even the children of my grandchildren will see the EU take the control of the EPO!”

Given the direction the EPO has taken, it might not even survive much longer. Patent maximalism can doom offices (presumption of validity gone).

Today’s USPTO Grants a Lot of Fake Patents, Software Patents That Courts Would Invalidate

Monday 10th of December 2018 06:42:18 AM

Summary: The 35 U.S.C. § 101 effect is very much real; patents on abstract/nonphysical ideas get invalidated en masse (in courts/PTAB) and Director Andrei Iancu refuses to pay attention as if he’s above the law and court rulings don’t apply to him

THE current state of 35 U.S.C. § 101 is encouraging and as we noted a couple of hours ago, 35 U.S.C. § 101 isn’t going to be revisited by SCOTUS.

On Sunday we wrote about the European Patent Office‘s obsession with “AI”. We have since then seen similar examples about patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, e.g. “AI-driven” here and “AI-driven network security” here (“BluVector Awarded Additional Patent for Machine Learning in Cybersecurity”). Those tricks are fast becoming rather common, even worryingly so. Those are very obviously bunk, bogus, fake, abstract software patents. Why is the Office still granting these, knowing courts would trash them? Here’s an example of a new patent on video processing and another of an Irish firm that went to the US to patent software on a very trivial ‘idea’ [1, 2]. Based on all these press releases and articles, quality control is lacking. Everything there sounds like bogus software patents that are going to be invalidated based on 35 U.S.C. § 101 in any court (if they reach that far) and should never have been granted in the first place. Here’s an example from exactly one week ago. “The virtual reel of modern machines goes back to a 1984 patent obtained by Norwegian mathematician Inge Telnaes, which brought the industry into the modern age and helped turn it into a “gold mine,” CDC says.

“Based on all these press releases and articles, quality control is lacking.”One thing we alluded to a few hours ago, albeit we prefer not to dwell on it, is the fact that Watchtroll himself (Quinn) is stepping down/out as chief editor at the end of this month (2 decades of patent maximalism must have led to frustration, seeing how things are going). His latest article it titled “Why do you want a Patent?” but it might as well say “Why do you STILL want a Patent?”

Looking at other sites of patent maximalists, they’re doing new ads for the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), a fairly radical organisation that lobbies aggressively for software patents. This same site also advertises USPTO events (example from yesterday) like this “USPTO Patent Quality Chat Webinar Series” (another example from yesterday). The Office does not understand quality, however, it just strives for revenue. To be fair, the EPO under António Campinos also abandoned quality; it’s granting software patents in Europe even if/when courts reject these. They just use or misuse buzzwords.

“Fintech is one of those fast-paced industries,” says this new article. “Currently, there are over 1200 FinTech businesses in Singapore, according to IPOS.”

“What will happen to the Office under Iancu if so many US patents continue to be rejected by courts? People will lose confidence in US patents, the presumption of validity will be lost.”And this is how they justify “IPOS grant[ing] first ever accelerated financial technology patent” (this is the headline); it’s about using the “Fintech” buzzword to get software patents in Singapore. “The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has granted the first accelerated patent under its financial technology fast-track initiative,” it says. They not only grant abstract patents; they even fast-track these.

We have meanwhile noticed Kate Gaudry and Samuel Hayim writing about 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice rejections at the USPTO. “A concise set of statutes dictate the characteristics that a patent application must have to be allowed to grant as a patent,” they argue. But a grant is not enough; what would actual courts say? We worry that the arrival of Iancu signaled to many examiners that it’s OK to wave away 35 U.S.C. § 101 and pretty much ignore Alice. Just watch these latest roundups of newly-granted patents in the press [1, 2, 3]. I’ve looked through these very quickly and some of these new patents are absolutely absurd. Some are obviously bogus (legally speaking. e.g. Section 101 would bin them). What will happen to the Office under Iancu if so many US patents continue to be rejected by courts? People will lose confidence in US patents, the presumption of validity will be lost.

“A CEO of a company left after they had sued a rival using software patents.”We couldn’t help but notice this report from exactly one week ago. A CEO of a company left after they had sued a rival using software patents. To quote: “The announcement of Pittman as the company’s new CEO comes less than two months after Matterport confirmed to Inman it’s suing GeoCV, a rival 3D tour company, for patent infringement.”

This is neat software, no doubt, but all the patents on it should be voided as they’re bogus software patents on computer vision and visualisation (algorithms/maths). Suing with such patents in 2018 would almost assure loss of the patents, assuming the accused can afford the court battle. What misguided or dishonest law firm prodded for this?

A Month After Microsoft Claimed Patent ‘Truce’ Its Patent Trolls Keep Attacking Microsoft’s Rivals

Monday 10th of December 2018 05:50:34 AM

Summary: Microsoft’s legal department relies on its vultures (to whom it passes money and patents) to sue its rivals; but other than that, Microsoft is a wonderful company!

THE company that spent decades committing crimes and is currently under investigation in the US for “bribery and corruption” nowadays “loves Linux,” according to itself. But does it really love GNU/Linux? Or is it just bribing people (and organisations and publishers) to say so or at least passively accept those who claim so?

About a month ago the Open Invention Network helped spread the "Microsoft loves Linux" lie; days ago it also added another member (“Printing Industry Leader Heidelberg Joins the OIN Community in Support of its Digital Future”) to its pact that is absolutely worthless in the face of patent trolls and other satellite entities. It can do absolutely nothing about those. It even admits so.

We have meanwhile also noticed that the Franklin Pierce Center at the University of New Hampshire School of Law brought in a person from Microsoft. He is still at Microsoft too; he’s Microsoft’s vice president and chief patent counsel, so he’s like an influencer through academia too (Microsoft does a lot of that). To quote these tidbits:

The Franklin Pierce Center at the University of New Hampshire School of Law has announced that Micky Minhas, vice president and chief patent counsel for Microsoft Incorporated, will join the faculty as the Franklin Pierce Distinguished Professor of Intellectual Property Practice. In addition to teaching in both the fall and spring semesters, Minhas will provide strategic guidance on cutting-edge IP curriculum at UNH Law. Minhas will retain his position with Microsoft. For more than six years, he has managed the Microsoft patent group that is primarily responsible for outbound and inbound intellectual property licensing, patent strategy, patent acquisitions and divestitures, and managing patent preparation and prosecution of patents. He is a frequent speaker on patent and patent licensing topics worldwide.

The term “patent licensing” is a euphemism for extortion. Failing that, litigation or other forms of retaliation. This is what Microsoft champions, having done that for over a decade.

Looking at Microsoft-centric news sites (with connections to Microsoft), GeekWire is still grooming Microsoft’s patent troll Nathan Myhrvold, whom Microsoft bankrolled for well over a decade. Intellectual Ventures is being painted as some sort of chef (“Hungry for new art in Seattle? Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine Gallery is a photographic feast”). Rovi, a patent aggressor that is connected to Intellectual Ventures [1, 2, 3], meanwhile brags about taxing Samsung using video software patents. So these trolls are definitely very active. There’s also this report about ongoing lawsuits of Intellectual Ventures. “Attorneys for Intellectual Ventures LLC and JPMorgan Chase & Co. debated a claim of IV’s cybersecurity software patent before a Federal Circuit panel Thursday,” Matt Bernardini wrote.

This “cybersecurity software patent” is just a software patent and it therefore invalid, as per 35 U.S.C. § 101. Just because the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted it doesn’t mean it’s legitimate.

And speaking of cybersecurity software patents, Microsoft’s patent troll Finjan (subsidised by Microsoft, partnered with Microsoft) is at it again. This truly malicious troll is filing its next lawsuit (among many) against Microsoft’s rivals in security. The latest target? Qualys. The press release is now everywhere (e.g. [1, 2, 3]. Finjan brags about it aplenty because its sole ‘product’ is lawsuits.

Microsoft claimed patent “truce” a month ago, but its patent trolls keep striking hard at Microsoft’s rivals. They’re being traded like a real company (latest financial reports disappoint despite higher trading) and the word “Sales” gets used as well as the word “Earnings”. They make a troll sound like it actually makes something. There are also new investors in nothing but these lawsuits; the troll is being propped up by BlackRock and by Seizert Capital Partners LLC. We don’t know if Microsoft is connected to these, but it’s widely known that Microsoft invested in this troll and it has already sued or blackmailed more than a dozen Microsoft rivals in this domain. Coincidence?

How about MOSAID (now known as Conversant), which Microsoft funneled tons of Nokia patents to? As expected, it then went after Microsoft’s rivals with patent lawsuits (as usual). Watchtroll wrote about the latest twist as recently as 5 days ago:

On Tuesday, November 20th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a nonprecedential decision in Google LLC v. Conversant Wireless Licensing, which vacated a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to uphold the validity of patent claims owned by Conversant after conducting an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding petitioned by Google and LG Electronics. The Federal Circuit panel of Circuit Judges Kathleen O’Malley, Raymond Chen and Kara Stoll found that the PTAB erred in its final written decision by failing to consider the primary argument raised in the original IPR petition.

This is about the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The Microsoft-armed troll attacked Google.

CAFC is nowadays more aggressive against these trolls than PTAB; CAFC epically stops Intellectual Ventures (in cases where Intellectual Ventures also sues Microsoft’s rivals in the security space, notably Symantec).

Good News: US Supreme Court Rejects Efforts to Revisit Alice, Most Software Patents to Remain Worthless

Monday 10th of December 2018 04:46:49 AM

Summary: 35 U.S.C. § 101 will likely remain in tact for a long time to come; courts have come to grips with the status quo, as even the Federal Circuit approves the large majority of invalidations by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) panels, initiated by inter partes reviews (IPRs)

2017 and 2018 have been very good years. Irrespective of what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants as patents (more on that in a separate post), courts do a good job. They’re a lot tougher than before.

“Irrespective of what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants as patents (more on that in a separate post), courts do a good job.”As Karl Auerbach put it some days ago: “The supreme court and the IP bar have gotten a lot smarter about software, so they are far more able to recognize that a huge portion of software patents are simply old ideas rewrapped as code and are thus not eligible for patent protection..”

Here’s the full comment (a reply I received):

I do not accept the mantra that “software is math”. Sure, computers operate through the application of the laws of physics, via the emergent properties of electronics and electro-mechanical devices. But so do procedures in chemistry. The act of using a hammer to pound a nail is ultimately “mathematical” in the sense that it is an expression of the laws of force and mass and velocity – all of which are usually expressed in mathematical form. That would make a patent on a novel and non-obvious use of a hammer and nails to be unpatentable.

Some software is, indeed, used to computer mathematical expressions. So are pencils. And pencils are not unpatentable because they are mathematics. (Pencils are unpatentable because they or no longer novel or non-obvious.)

The analogy with gears is to counter the argument that software has no physical reality – which is not true given that once it is reduced to its basic form it consists of charges in electronic circuits that, when combined with electrical time pulses, turns into a very physical machine – but with electrical charges interacting rather then gears meshing.

The main problem that has existed with software patents is that they fail the required test of being non-intuitive to someone practiced in the art of computer programming. The US patent office for decades refused to hire computer people, so it made itself intentionally stupid and thus thought that every chunk of software was non-intuitive. The head of the USPTO during much of that time was a total jerk – he even was booed by a bunch of IP lawyers at a meeting I attended.

The supreme court and the IP bar have gotten a lot smarter about software, so they are far more able to recognize that a huge portion of software patents are simply old ideas rewrapped as code and are thus not eligible for patent protection. But no court has said that a patent, just because it is expressed in the form of a computer programs, is by virtue of that expression, not patentable.

The way things stand, technology companies gained leverage over law firms. It’s still not ideal. As Benjamin Henrion put it the other day in light of this report (“Google, Amazon Invited to Talk Patent Eligibility With Lawmakers”): “Software developers and small companies not invited to discuss software patents, only large companies and patent lawyers…”

The above report comes from a lawyer’s section, too. “If you have no money,” I told Henrion, “then your opinion does not matter. You’re disposable “workforce”…”

The above talk, however, did not deal with courts directly. They’re separate. So what do courts say? The decision to reassess Helsinn v Teva (several days ago) was put in our daily links as it’s pretty irrelevant to us (it’s not at all about patent scope/quality). As proponents of patents on life put it, “Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Helsinn v. Teva” (mentioned here before in passing).

“The way things stand, technology companies gained leverage over law firms.”So SCOTUS will look at Helsinn v Teva, but as expected Carl M. Burnett v Panasonic Corporation goes nowhere. It’s another small victory for us programmers who’ve long campaigned against software patents and now have 35 U.S.C. § 101. The Office cannot bully judges. It cannot force Justices (at SCOTUS) to challenge 35 U.S.C. § 101. Days ago the USPTO published yet another talk of Iancu. He can moan about 35 U.S.C. § 101 all he wants, but courts won’t care.

“Another one bites the Alice dust,” wrote this patent maximalist from Watchtroll, linking to an opinionated Watchtroll report about last Monday’s decision:

On Monday, December 3rd, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari in Carl M. Burnett v. Panasonic Corporation, declining to take up the case on appeal from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This is now the latest case involving questions of patent-eligibility for an invention under 35 U.S.C. § 101 declined by the nation’s highest court. In this case, however, the Supreme Court hasn’t addressed the patentability of the relevant subject matter, namely electronic data and electromagnetic analog and digital signals, since 1853.

SCOTUS has also just rejected SSL Services v Cisco and it’s hilarious to see the response from patent extremists who loathe PTAB and love software patents. They’re losing their minds as courts gradually restore/impose sanity on the patent system. Here is what Watchtroll said: “On Monday, November 19th, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a list of orders regarding pending cases where the Court refused to take the appeal. The Supreme Court on that day denied the petition for writ of certiorari to take up SSL Services, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc. on appeal from the Federal Circuit. In denying certiorari, the Supreme Court refused to answer whether the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) erred in instituting an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding in the face of federal statute barring institution of an IPR based on similar arguments and prior art raised in a previous validity challenge.”

“At the end of the day, when it all boils down to Alice, these patents are still unlikely to withstand judges’ scrutiny.”Watchtroll can be hilarious in the sense that it has nothing left but judge-bashing and as we’ll mention again later, the founder and editor steps down. A month later these people still bring up Ancora v HTC. They’re living in the past, cherry-picking rare case outcomes in desperate efforts to somehow revive software patents in US courts. Watchtroll suggests adding “Technical Solutions” and King & Wood Mallesons’s Veg Tran and Esme Wong argue you should say “an improvement in the computer”; anything to hopelessly fool examiners and judges into software patents?

At the end of the day, when it all boils down to Alice, these patents are still unlikely to withstand judges’ scrutiny. That’s just the way it is; there’s no point pretending that adding some catchphrases will help as if it’s all about words. It’s about the underlying claims, not semantics.

“The bottom line is, software patents are bygones; even the lawyers know it, but they still try to attract applicants, i.e. money/legal bills.”James Fussell, Nikko Quevada and Vincent Violago, three people who do ‘patents’ for a living (nothing else actually) say “Alice Must Be Revisited In View Of Emerging Technologies” (published 5 days ago); they just worry they’ll become unemployed as they will need to find a real job. They start their articles with a bunch of meaningless buzzwords: “The increasing convergence of artificial intelligence, the internet of things, robotics and other emerging technologies are expected to generate various novel legal issues that courts will soon have to grapple with…”

Yes, “artificial intelligence” or “internet [sic] of things” and so on. Why not add “cloud” and “smart” and other nonsense?

The bottom line is, software patents are bygones; even the lawyers know it, but they still try to attract applicants, i.e. money/legal bills.

Florian Müller’s Article About SEPs and the EPO

Monday 10th of December 2018 02:51:26 AM

Summary: Report from the court in Munich, where the EPO is based

THE writings of Florian Müller have become more frequent lately. He used to write about the European Patent Office (EPO) after he had campaigned — quite famously in fact — against software patents in Europe.

His latest article, which deals with “standard-essential patents” (SEPs), may be of interest to EPO insiders. Here’s a portion:

While “standard-essential patents” (SEPs) is one of the most common terms in the tech sector, it would sometimes be more accurate and inclusive to refer to “standard-essential intellectual property rights” (SEIPRs). That collective term would include both SEPs and SEUMs: standard-essential utility models. Utility models are a German specialty, basically a second-class type of patent with a shorter term but instant registration (no substantive examination). This blog covered a utility model case years ago when Apple asserted a slide-to-unlock utility model against Samsung in Germany; that case got stayed over validity concerns and never went anywhere. Beyond German utility models, the collective term “SEIPRs” would cover any other IPRs that may exist in other jurisdictions and are like patents, but aren’t called patents.

Yesterday I went to the Munich I Regional Court to watch a standard-essential utility model case, Netlist v. SK Hynix and HP, over German utility model no. DE2020100185017, which was derived last year, in preparation of this lawsuit as counsel for Netlist explained, from a pending European patent application, EP2454735 on a “system and method utilizing distributed byte-wise buffers on a memory module.” From what I’ve been able to find out, this patent was declared essential to a JEDEC memory standard.

An EPO patent examiner rejected the application, though Netlist is still trying to persuade the EPO to grant a patent. But in parallel to that effort, they quickly took out a utility model, with claim language drafted specifically for the purposes of the lawsuit against SK Hynix and HP, and sued in Munich.

Wrong patent grants can have devastating effects not just for large companies but also individual engineers/developers. This is why we so aggressively campaign for patent quality at the EPO. Granting patents isn’t the equivalent of growing fruit because patents are essentially monopolies, not products.

EPO Vice-President Željko Topić in New Article About Corruption in Croatia

Monday 10th of December 2018 02:30:51 AM

Summary: The Croatian newspaper 7Dnevno has an outline of what Željko Topić has done in Croatia and in the EPO in Munich; it argues that this seriously erodes Croatia’s national brand/identity

An article about Željko Topić, a Vice-President at the European Patent Office, recently appeared in the Croatian newspaper 7Dnevno. We mentioned it at the time.

Below we’re including an English translation of the part of the article which pertains to Željko Topić.

CORRUPTION AND PEDOPHILIA AS A CROATIAN BRAND

Published by Tomislav KOVAČ – November 30, 2018

The Republic of Croatia has a recognizable tourist and sport brand, but it should be creating its own strong and positive national brand because it offers a key competitive advantage over other countries. Regarding the emphasis of the importance of creating an image and branding, Croatia as a country has not built up a sufficiently recognizable image to strengthen its position either vis-à-vis other states nor within international relations in its entirety. In addition, Croatia does not have a clear and quality system to build and manage a national brand. And, in our country, there is not enough developed awareness of the importance of branding as a tool for strengthening the competitiveness of the Croatian economy within the world context. The words are those recently addressed to the public by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar – Kitarović on the round table under the title “Identity and the Trademark of the Republic of Croatia”.

FIRST SHE BRANDED ONLY HERSELF

What is a brand? The brand is a set of associations that a product or service has in the consumer consciousness, and the branding process makes any product, service or individual recognizable based on its visual identity, the way of communication, and the entire content that is attached to that brand. In the branding process it is most important to define the visual identity (logo, name and typography) and the entire content that will be linked to that brand. When we talk about content, we mean everything that will be published with respect to that brand, from texts, photos, visuals, or video content. However, the visual identity is like a person’s personal identity card of a brand, and the communication message as well as the tone of the communication, are very important and indispensable parts of the brand. Starting from herself, it could be concluded that KGK (Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović), when she arrived in Pantovcak (e.g. the residence of the the Croatian President), began her personal branding, which was observed by the domestic and international media (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30765822) but she did not do much, or almost anything, for the branding of the state of which she is the leader. After all, and judging by her behavior so far, and especially by making a home for a stay dog (Kike), she is purely opportunistic with the intention of gaining sympathy from the general public.

As noted above, the result of today’s recognizability of the Republic of Croatia in the world lies in the individual endeavors and activities of individuals in entrepreneurship or science, i.e. collectively in tourism or sport. In the latter, it is necessary to distinguish the activities and expenditures of state funds available to the parasitic promoter from the HGK (Croatian Chamber of Economy) and safari hunter such as Nadan Vidošević (e.g. former chief of the Croatian Chamber of Economy) in the so-called campaign “Let’s Buy Croatian” or the self-effacing and modest Janica Kostelić (e.g. a famous Croatian skier with several Olympic medals). Based upon these facts, the president has been running around in the wrong wardrobe, in that she doesn’t know, or is unfamiliar with all of the features and charms hidden within the patent community in the Republic of Croatia and beyond, which are in a direct or causal relationship with the person (e.g. Former President Ivo Josipović) whom she defeated in the 2014 presidential election.

THE STATE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE AND THE SYNERGY OF CORRUPTION

Unfortunately as a consequence, the subpar results, in the case of the present-day branding of the Republic of Croatia, can be read in the work of a national patent institution which has a rather nebulous name – the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), and particularly regarding the people in charge of that institution.

The State Intellectual Property Office of the Republic of Croatia is a state administrative body that carries out activities in the area of ​​the protection of intellectual property rights. The activity of SIPO in the legislative and professional domain includes the area of ​​copyright and related rights. Apart from the legislative work, an important part of the SIPO’s work is information and service activity, as well as cooperation with other institutions for the enforcement of intellectual property rights and support for innovation activity, as well as cooperation with economic and scientific research entities!? So, any person, like our president or a legal entity, who wants to brand and protect something is directed (whether or not they want to be) to SIPO. Administratively, there’s no dispute that this domestic institution of the last few decades has been handled by suspicious people just based upon their character and professional qualities. This deals with Mr. Željko Topić and his successor (and mistress by the way), Ljiljana Kuterovac, are labeled as highly corrupt people with a judicial dictionary. Mr. Topić is a former director, and Mrs. Kuterovac is the current Director of SIPO, or at least she appears to be, although sources from the Government of Croatia explicitly state that she has never been confirmed by them. So, Mrs. Kuterovac is issuing patents (or branding) on the “black market”. Contrary to her, Mr. Topić, although in the majority of the scientific community, was prominently known for his fake master’s degree, has advanced as the vice-president of the EPO in Munich because of his corruptive services. The duo have an unbridgeable synergy in the corruption of the Republic of Croatia at least in the question of the state foundation of branding which KGK advocates. Randomly or not, both as well as most of the SIPO staff were recruited from ZAMP, which is a phantom company with parafiscal charges, whose former leader was the loser of the election with KGK, the gentleman with the white collar, Dr. Ivo Josipović. According to the declared revenues of ZAMP, it seems that crime in Croatia is profitable. In such circumstances, the long-standing failure and obstruction by the SDP’s (e.g. Social Democratic Party) hawk, Željko Jovanović, former, but also present president of the National Monitoring Council for the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy (NVPPSSK) of the Croatian Parliament, is of particular significance. Namely, regarding the journalist’s inquiries as to whether the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, as the supervisory body of SIPO for the Republic of Croatia, informed EPO or OLAF regarding criminal charges against Topić, were met with silence from the Ministry of Science for many years. However, former Minister Željko Jovanović and Chairman of the NVPPSSK (http://www.sabor.hr/nacionalno-vijece-za-pracenje-provedbe-strateg-9) used to say that Željko Topić has the protection of former President Ivo Josipović. The EPO, which is based in Munich, is one of the institutions of special importance in the EU, which has offices in The Hague, Berlin and Vienna (e.g. and Brussels) and employs about seven thousand people. The fundamental role of the EPO is to regulate and strengthen cooperation among European member states in the protection of patents. In comparison, the WIPO organization, which has headquarters in Geneva, deals with the protection of brands on the world level.

PATENTED BALKANS GANGSTER

By coming to EPO, Mr. Topić stated in his CV that he worked on establishing a national system of intellectual property, i.e. the Croatian legislation, which is untrue, because it was done by the lawyers of the SIPO, and not by him. He stated that he was the initiator, coordinator and chief contributor to the National Strategy for the Development of the Intellectual Property System in the Republic of Croatia, but this was a document he never respected, which was proved by his ignorance about public lending rights, a new right of importance to writers, which is why they were financially irreparably damaged. He further stated that he was the national coordinator for intellectual property in the EU accession process, but that was Professor Siniša Petrović from the Faculty of Law in Zagreb. He also lied and stated that he was a Croatian patent and trademark agent, but he had no such role in SIPO. The question is whether KGK was informed within the institutions of the Republic of Croatia about the actions of Josipović’s intimates, which resulted in the inaction of the competent institutions in the Republic of Croatia, where Željko Topić has no immunity, and has resulted in 5 suicides of employees within the European Patent Organization (EPO). Željko Topić currently works there (e.g. in EPO) as one of the vice presidents and as a vice president he has immunity, resulting in, among other things, the action before the European Council for the removal of immunity in international organizations such as the EPO, which was extensively written about by Petra Sorge, the award-winning Berlin-based journalist. We also don’t know whether the President of the Republic of Croatia has been informed that Zeljko Topić, Romana Matanovac Vučković and Ljiljana Kuterovac have been charged with jointly committing criminal offenses regarding unlawful changes in the structure of the state administration and the abuse of office and authority. At the same time, the current director of SIPO, which the Government of A. Plenković hasn’t yet confirmed, is currently under the investigation of USKOK (e.g. Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime) due to her damages to the state budget. In such circumstances, of particular concern, according to unofficial sources from SIPO, is the possible return of the Balkan criminal from Munich to the position of Director of SIPO in Zagreb.

Croatia’s accession to the EU poses an open question: is there a relationship of corruption between the structures of Croatian state institutions, politics and the domestic public prosecutors’ lobbies? These questions have so far avoided the credible verification from the Ministry of Justice, MUP (e.g. Ministry of Interior Affairs), DORH (e.g. Public Prosecutor of Croatia) and USKOK, the bodies responsible for protection of the legal framework and legal security of the Republic of Croatia which have been provided for within the constitution of the Republic of Croatia. Therefore, it is no surprise that our country is at the top spot for corruption in the world, according to the latest international research, and as one of the major Croatian export-oriented brands we are offering unacceptable and deviant social behavior in the form of intellectual corruption. So, with the proposal of the new rebranding of the Republic of Croatia by the recommendation and on the initiative of KGK, it is ultimately the responsibility of the state, which is not acting responsibly, and because of that we have been brought to where we are now.

Because the rest of this article isn’t relevant to the subject of Željko Topić, whom we focus on, we will discontinue the translation here.

The Quality of European Patents Continues to Deteriorate Under António Campinos and Software Patents Are Advocated Every Day

Sunday 9th of December 2018 02:15:30 PM

Even several times per day, as shameful as it may seem

Summary: The EPC in the European Patent Office and 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the USPTO annul most if not all software patents; under António Campinos, however, software patents are being granted in Europe and the USPTO exploits similar tricks

DISREGARD for the rule of law is pretty normal at the EPO. There are endless examples of it and a broad range of aspects to it. We spent years covering that. Today, however, we would like to focus on how the EPO (as well as the USPTO) gets to grant software patents, never mind if courts dismiss these.

Mostly illegal software patents that pertain to my research field (computer vision) are being openly promoted and bragged about by today's EPO. This did not happen under Battistelli; this is a Campinos thing. We cannot stress often enough that as far as software patenting is concerned Campinos seems a lot worse than Battistelli; judging by how often the EPO promotes such patents under the leadership of Campinos (as opposed to Battistelli’s). It is a race to the bottom. Just before the weekend the EPO wrote: “The number of European patent applications relating to self-driving vehicles increased by 330% between 2011 and 2017.”

A few days ago a news report was published under the headline “GM Patents the Blockchain Solution for Driverless Cars”.

“We cannot stress often enough that as far as software patenting is concerned Campinos seems a lot worse than Battistelli; judging by how often the EPO promotes such patents under the leadership of Campinos (as opposed to Battistelli’s).”Combining two buzz/hype waves, blockchains and SDV (the EPO’s buzzword/term of choice), these people nowadays facilitate and permit patents on software. Software patents are bogus however. They’re likely worthless too as most judges would laugh them out of court (if it ever gets this far).

And speaking of blockchains, which the EPO promotes patents on (misleadingly-named event, which is actually about patents but doesn’t explicitly say so), mind this new article from Swiss media (in French). The headline speaks of blockchains and “open source”; a French-speaking Free software (“open source”) developer just said: “Software patents, the end of free software…”

By granting patents on blockchains the EPO blatantly tramples/stomps on Free/Open Source software, which is fundamental to the adoption of blockchains.

We understand that the Campinos-led EPO saw a hype wave and decided to ride/surf it, but at what cost? The concept of blockchains is being brought up even by those who don’t understand it; several days ago Forbes published “Blockchain For Business: This Startup Thinks It Solves All Of Blockchain’s Worst Problems” (marketing disguised as an article).

This is eerily similar to the “AI” hype, which resurfaced about a year ago. Everyone started rebranding things “AI”, years after they had rebranded everything “smart” and “cloud” or whatever (more buzzwords to be mentioned below).

“By granting patents on blockchains the EPO blatantly tramples/stomps on Free/Open Source software, which is fundamental to the adoption of blockchains.”Even the lawyers admit it’s just hype/buzz. This new article from a law firm starts with this sentence : “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a loaded technology buzzword that comes in different forms in various commercial products.”

Yes, it’s a buzzword. So far this month we’ve seen an “Artificial Intelligence Trading Expert” [1, 2] (just using algorithms; nothing new) and this article titled “‘Buzz about AI’ lends to Linguamatics win”. Calling mere algorithms “AI” is now as commonplace as can be. Here is an example from a few days ago: “Artificial intelligence technology has helped build software that can analyze videos for better capturing of events, understanding patterns and surveillance.”

“Everyone started rebranding things “AI”, years after they had rebranded everything “smart” and “cloud” or whatever…”All of these examples (above) mention patents and “AI”. Everything is being called “AI” these days… for marketing purposes. “iCAD Announces FDA Clearance of ProFound AI™ for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis,” says this new press release. Here comes the Allied Security Trust (AST) and the “AI” hype; lots of bogus patents as usual. But… “AI”! So it’s innovative!

Software potentially puts the patent ‘industry’ in the ashtray; so they call software “AI” now, as usual (because they’re technically inapt). “Wave Computing®,” states another new example, “the Silicon Valley company that is accelerating artificial intelligence (AI) from the cloud to the edge…”

All the above are from the past fortnight alone; “AI” and “patents” everywhere. It is intentional. As we recently noted on numerous occasions, even the USPTO has swallowed the “AI” hype and offers it as a route towards software patentability. An article by Sameer Gokhale (Oblon, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, LLP) makes it very obvious. They’re pretty shameless about it.

“As we recently noted on numerous occasions, even the USPTO has swallowed the “AI” hype and offers it as a route towards software patentability.”How about “Smart” and “IoT”? These are two more buzzwords recently embraced everywhere (globally even).

“Smart devices in IoT need a smarter patenting strategy,” IAM’s new headline says. Just keep stuffing buzzwords like “smart” and “IoT” in hope of enabling software patents, right?

“This article provides a comprehensive report on the challenges faced in patenting technology in the Internet of Things domain,” it says. It’s a domain that just means devices with an Internet connection. It’s far too vague, intentionally so.

We are meanwhile seeing European law firms trying hard to find all sorts of ways to patent software. Philip M. Nelson and Ronald J. Schoenbaum (Knobbe Martens), for example, have published [1, 2] “Will New PTO Guidance Be The Antidote to Alice In The Medical Device Patenting Process?”

“We are meanwhile seeing European law firms trying hard to find all sorts of ways to patent software.”Here they go again with “Medical Device”, two cheeky terms combined to associate software with “life-saving” and “physical” (even when it boils down only to code).
Marks & Clerk’s Thomas Prock has just published “A feather in one’s app: why the UK could lead the way for medical app patents” (similar talking point). It adds the buzzword “app”…

Suyoung Jang, Cheryl T. Burgess and Mauricio Uribe (also of Knobbe Martens) are still pushing anti-Section 101 lies. It’s that classic software patents propaganda, spread at all costs (even to multiple publishers that charge for it; it’s cross-posted [1, 2] again). They’re using the fata morgana that is "Berkheimer and Aatrix"; the latter became known for little more than that patent lawsuit (Aatrix is mostly/only mentioned in relation to patents, even when it’s not about patents) and the former became a placeholder for “I don’t like Alice and Alice sucks because fact-finding.”

“Today’s EPO is rotting with corruption and fake patents (that bear no presumption of validity).”António Campinos may not say much on the subject, but his actions in a leadership position are revealing. The EPO’s Twitter account has just quoted Campinos as saying: “In my time at the EPO I’ve been able to rely on the expertise, dedication and commitment of an experienced staff to help in the transition process…”

What transition? Some staff calls him “mini Battistelli” and some claim that he’s even worse than Battistelli; it’s clear that nothing is changing, except for the worse. Today’s EPO is rotting with corruption and fake patents (that bear no presumption of validity). Staff cuts are implemented (he did the same in another agency) by means of limited (with time limits) contracts, longterm hiring freeze and encouragement of early departure/retirement.

Team UPC is Still Spreading False Rumours in an Effort to Trick Politicians and Pressure Judges

Sunday 9th of December 2018 12:16:59 PM

The EPO wrote this (below) almost three years ago

Summary: Abuses at the European Patent Office, political turmoil and an obvious legislative coup by a self-serving occupation that produces nothing have already doomed the Unitary Patent or Unified Patent Court (UPC); so now we deal with complete fabrications from Team UPC as they’re struggling to make something out of nothing, anonymously smearing opposition to the UPC and anonymously making stuff up

LAST WEEKEND the person who ratified something that cannot in principle be ratified (or become functional) decided to publicly announce his resignation. There were some reports that mentioned this in relation to the UPC as well (even though there’s more to his decision, primarily Brexit itself). Science Minister (or whatever his job title was at the time; it kept changing) Sam Gyimah wasn’t the first to resign and his predecessor too kept changing job titles until resignation (for similar reasons). We can only imagine how Germany’s constitutional court views this turmoil. Not too favourably…

“The UPCA is dying in its sleep, the EPO already ignores it (the subject is almost never brought up), and Team UPC blogs are more or less dead (no new posts).”With only a couple of weeks left before Christmas it seems pretty clear that the UPC is more “dead” than it has ever been. There will be some more restful weekends soon. As for weekdays? Don’t expect any oral hearings as none are even scheduled. In two or three weeks’ time Team UPC will need to explain why it floated totally false (fabricated) ‘unitary’ rumours. The UPCA is dying in its sleep, the EPO already ignores it (the subject is almost never brought up), and Team UPC blogs are more or less dead (no new posts).

Days after Ramona Livera (Elias Neocleous & Co LLC) published lies and distortions about the UPC in Cypriot press she apparently paid money for more sites to carry these ‘unitary’ lies (self promotion rather). It says more about the integrity and honesty of such firms (than it says about UPC/A itself).

A few days ago Hogan Lovells’ Joseph Raffetto and Steffen Steininger decided to relay some more falsehoods. Perpetuating false rumours of Team UPC is nowadays seen as a virtue, surely?

Here is what they wrote:

While the German Federal Court (FCC) has still not officially announced when it will issue a decision regarding the constitutional complaint against the German law that ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA), rumors about a possible decision in December are circulating the German patent community. The FCC, however, officially has not acknowledged a decision date at this point. Across the channel, in the meantime, two UK patent practitioners argued before the House of Lord’s EU Justice Sub-Committee in favor of a UK participation in the Unitary Patent system during the transitional period agreed upon in a withdrawal agreement following Brexit and beyond that period.

When they say “rumors about a possible decision in December are circulating the German patent community” they don’t cite any sources. Because there are none. There’s no basis for this.

Where are those sources? They’re not even being named. It’s like a self-serving whispering campaign.

“When they say “rumors about a possible decision in December are circulating the German patent community” they don’t cite any sources. Because there are none. There’s no basis for this.”Alan Johnson has meanwhile had nothing to say on the subject. He and his colleagues are among those who spread these false rumours the most. Days ago he wrote in their UPC Blog about SPCs, not UPC (Bristows are big boosters of SPCs). So the UPC Blog is not even about UPC anymore! And on the same day Kluwer Patent Blog (where Bristows often writes) published SPCs under friendly fire (overly dramatic headline).

Why does nobody mention anything of substance about UPC or UPCA? Because there’s nothing.

JUVE, which likes patent trolls (and therefore the UPC as well), still calls patent trolls by a euphemism (“NPE”) and seems happy that they choose to troll companies that actually make something… in the country where JUVE itself is based. JUVE’s subscribers are profiting from these trolls and they hope to profit even more from something like the UPC (which would be inviting to trolls). As JUVE put it: “For NPEs, Germany will continue to be the court location in Europe. This is demonstrated by Data Scape’s lawsuits against none other than Apple, Amazon and Spotify at the Regional Court Düsseldorf…”

More money for lawyers would mean more money for the publisher (JUVE), but the UPC isn’t happening and JUVE isn’t writing about it anymore. It’s almost as if they’ve given up completely.

“More money for lawyers would mean more money for the publisher (JUVE), but the UPC isn’t happening and JUVE isn’t writing about it anymore.”Benjamin Henrion has meanwhile said about UPC that: “Defining how courts are established (130 pages of the rules of procedure) should be the only privilege of Parliaments, not outsourced to biased patent experts like Mr Mooney” (citing an old article from JUVE, which amplifies Team UPC itself).

“Mooney is a symptom of the problem,” I told him, as UPC “is a legislative coup.” It’s a bunch of lawyers attempting to hijack the law and enrich themselves. The constitutional court’s judges can hopefully see that because it’s not difficult to see that and it would be an utter embarrassment to Germany if it ever went ahead; it would also be a political crisis and possibly lead to legal action.

Patents on Life and Patents That Kill the Poor Would Only Delegitimise the European Patent Office

Sunday 9th of December 2018 10:24:28 AM

They’re also not legal

Summary: After Mayo, Myriad and other SCOTUS cases (the basis of 35 U.S.C. § 101) the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is reluctant to grant patents on life; the European Patent Office (EPO), however, goes in the opposite direction, even in defiance of the European Patent Convention

TECHRIGHTS has long focused on software patents, but sometimes the subject of patents on life was brought up because it’s equally if not even more controversial. It’s not hard to understand why patents on nature and on life are insane. They’re not inventions. The patent system wasn’t made for this purpose. You breed some things and then all future generations of these things are ‘owned’ by you? Based on what? This is just a ploy, a cynical effort to privatise life itself. What next? Oxygen?

“This is just a ploy, a cynical effort to privatise life itself.”McKee Voorhees & Sease PLC’s Patricia A. Sweeney wrote a few days ago that “The European Patent Office Board holds a rule can no longer be used to Reject Plant and Animal Breeding Inventions” and it’s behind a paywall; we wrote about this subject last week, as did many others. There were two main news stories: one about drugs and another about plants.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International should say more about patents on nature and on life, but in last week’s appeal to the Office/public it focused on patents on medicine instead. That is expected considering MSF’s goals, assuring access to medicines/medical treatment or removal of barriers that would otherwise — in their absence — have saved lives (many poor people die because of the patent monopoly, never mind if the treatment is cheap to produce). There was relatively late coverage about it here; these patents will certainly end up killing people if this goes ahead. To quote: “Recently, 6 European organizations appealed a European Patent Office (EPO) decision to uphold Gilead Science’s patent on the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir, sold as Sovaldi. In March 2017, organizations from 17 European countries filed a challenge against Gilead’s patent that covers the base compound found in sofosbuvir, alleging that it lacked inventiveness. Despite the accusations, the EPO decided to uphold Gilead’s patent in September 2018, maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace.”

More press coverage, however, was dedicated to a decision from the EPO’s Board of Appeal, potentially contradicting the Biotech Directive as one comment (among many) pointed out:

Well it’s an exciting turn of events for patent attorneys also as it’s not every day that an EPC rule is declared void.

National courts and the CJEU are bound by the Biotech Directive and so presumably are duty bound to follow the EU’s interpretation of this, which is that the products of essentially biological processes are not patentable, and so I suspect claims to them will be declared invalid in any litigation.

Alas, I think this decision brings forward the day when the EU takes control of the EPO on the pretext of harmony, so whilst this little skirmish against the EU Commission has been won, the battle will ultimately be lost.

There are several more comments like this in IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog, mostly from patent maximalists with vested interests. It’s those sorts of people who openly advocate CRISPR and antibody patents, as did this hours-old advert from a site dedicated to promotion of patents on life. Among their questions: “What are the differences between U.S. requirements and EPO requirements?”

“By aligning itself with some of the most loathed companies on the planet the EPO does itself irreparable damage.”The US has long limited the scope of such patents. Likewise, patents on life itself aren’t quite permitted in Europe, but the EPO doesn’t care what law and practice say. The very founding document of the EPO (the EPC) is now being grossly violated and the EPO sets up events to ‘normalise’ this violation (as it does when promoting software patents in Europe under the guise of “AI”, “blockchains” etc.), reminding us that the EPO is a rogue institution that totally disregards the rule of law.

Kluwer Patent Blog, a site of patent maximalists, wrote on Friday about the EPO’s reaction to decision T1063/18 Board of Appeal (the above decision). Champagne at Monsanto (now part of Bayer in Germany), no doubt…

To quote:

The European Patent Office ‘will consider possible next actions’ together with the EPO Member States after a high-profile decision of a Board of Appeal earlier this week, concerning the patentability of plants. In case T 1063/18, the BoA decided that EPC Rules which were introduced by the EPO Administrative Council in 2017 to exclude plants or animals from patentability, were in conflict with 53(b) of the European Patent Convention and they can therefore be considered void.

The decision opens a new chapter in the debate concerning the patentability of plants or animals exclusively obtained by means of an essentially biological process. Late October the European Patent Office revoked a Bayer patent covering a type of broccoli adapted to make harvesting easier, because of the 2017 amendment of the Rules (27 and 28 EPC) by the EPO’s Administrative Council.

[...]

What will happen next is not clear. The organization No Patents On Seeds, which had hailed the revocation of the Bayer broccoli patent as ‘an important success for the broad coalition of civil society organizations against patents on plants and animals’, said a ‘chaotic legal situation’ has been created by the BoA decision. It declared: ‘This has put the EPO into conflict with its 38 member states that decided to stop these patents, such as those on broccoli and tomatoes derived from conventional breeding.’ No Patents On Seeds is clear about what it thinks should be the consequence of the BoA decision: ‘The EPO must suspend all pending patent applications on plants and animals until sufficient legal certainty and clarity is achieved.’

The exclusion of plants and animals from patentability was introduced by the EPO’s Administrative Council in the EPC two years ago, following a Notice of the European Commission, clarifying that the Directive on Biotechnological Inventions (98/44/EC) intended to exclude these products ‘exclusively obtained by means of an essentially biological process’. Earlier, in the decisions G2/12 and G 2/13 of 2015, the Enlarged Board of Appeal had ruled that certain tomatoes and broccoli were patentable.

So while the outcome of this isn’t so clear yet, it doesn’t look too good. I’m not against patents, I’m just pro-patent sanity and we’re not there yet; now that the EPO ponders granting (yet again) patents on animals, life, nature, plants, seeds and so on how can one argue that patents reward actual inventors? These are not inventions. They patent nature itself; it’s just as ridiculous as it sounds. We’re not oversimplifying it! People should be up in arms and some are (there were EPO protests over it). Reported by Ben Wodecki just before the weekend were some underlying issues:

Pressure group No Patents on Seeds has accused the European Patent Office (EPO) of putting the office “into conflict with its 38 member states”, following a ruling on a patent on pepper plants.

Agrochemical company Syngenta attempted to file a European patent for a pepper plant with improved nutritional value. Examiners from the EPO denied the application as the patent’s claimed subject matter falls into the EPO’s exception to patentability under article 53(b) and rule 28(2) of the European Patent Convention (EPC).

In 2017, the Administrative Council of the EPO adopted a binding rule 28(2) for the interpretation of the EPC, which prohibits patents on process of conventional breeding, as well as on plants an animals derived thereof.

If EPO management wants to give ‘ownership’ of everything in your vegetable/fruit basket to companies like Monsanto (the very ‘concept’ of the life), what will the public think? By aligning itself with some of the most loathed companies on the planet the EPO does itself irreparable damage.

EPO ‘Untapped Potential’

Sunday 9th of December 2018 09:03:16 AM

Summary: “Campinos is diligently looking for ways to further increase the Office’s output without increasing the number of examiners,” says the EPO-FLIER team

FLIER Number 44 (humour) was published two days ago. It’s written by European Patent Office insiders, who still use the old FLIER acronym (staff representatives used it when still trying to correct things in very diplomatic ways, at times using “IFLRE” and “LIFER”). See what we published last Christmas [1, 2].

The following mentions EPO President António Campinos and is mostly sarcastic (although the underlying facts are serious).

LIFER
7 December 2018
IFLRE

EPO FLIER No. 44

The EPO-FLIER wants to provide staff with uncensored, independent information at times of social conflict

Untapped potential

During his last years in Office Mr Battistelli claims to have increased the production in the examining area by 36%1. We hear that our new President, Mr Campinos is diligently looking for ways to further increase the Office’s output without increasing the number of examiners2. Since putting even more pressure on the examiners didn’t seem the right thing to do, we decided to look for some hitherto untapped potential, and we found it, in the form of … directors!

Directors are normally selected from amongst the highest producers. Until recently we had about 150 directors in DG1. Mr Battistelli reduced their number to about 60. Some of the now directorate-less directors have left the Office. But many are still there. Some have been parked on jobs for which they have no particular skills, and the usefulness of which might be seen as doubtful. This is an enormous waste of their potential. We therefore propose that these directors are reassigned to work as “senior experts” in directorates that are short of staff.

And the directors who still have a directorate could also be asked to make a contribution. Mr Campinos insists that elected staff representatives not be freed 100% for their staff representation but have to do (currently) 50% of other work so that they will remain in touch with the staff they represent. The same logic applies to directors. It will give them a better understanding of the tools examiners use and of the obstacles they face.

The same applies to the managers in patent administration, where the tools are notoriously bad. We are convinced that if formalities managers were obliged to work with those tools and cover the broad range of procedures that formalities staff are expected to cover, they would soon demand improvements.

And while we are at it: why shouldn’t Principal Directors and COOs be asked to show solidarity and do a “fair contribution” in the form of one or two files a week?

We recognize that this will not have a major impact on the overall production, but it would certainly be more motivating for staff than the present “do as I say and not as I do” exhortations for higher production. And, why shouldn’t a few randomly selected patent searches and grants done by Principal Directors and COOs undergo a quality check? It would give them an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to their subordinates that the quality of their ‘products’ is not compromised at the level of production they demand from their staff.
______
1 « Modernising the EPO for excellence and sustainability » pages 50-51.
2 Report on the 121st meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee (CSC, 31.10.2018)

www.epostaff4rights.org

We are going to focus on EPO affairs the rest of the day, then move on to covering some affairs at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Links 9/12/2018: New Linux Stable Releases (Notably Linux 4.19.8), RC Coming, and Unifont 11.0.03

Sunday 9th of December 2018 08:04:58 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Blockstream Releases the Open Source Code for Its Bitcoin Block Explorer

    Last month, Blockstream, a leading developer of blockchain technologies, launched a new block explorer that allows users to monitor real-time data for both the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain and the Liquid Network sidechain.

    After receiving a largely positive response, the company has made the decision to release Esplora, the free and open-source software that powers the site.

  • New opensource VR viewer for OpenSim may be coming soon

    OpenSimulator core developer Melanie Thielker — also known as Melanie Milland in-world — announced that she is releasing her virtual reality OpenSim viewer to the open source community.

    The new viewer uses the Unreal Engine to display OpenSim regions, such as areas from the grid Thielker founded, Avination.

    “We were actually able to walk through those sims with a VR headset on,” she said. “It changed my whole view of the world. I’ve been in virtual worlds for a long time but actually walking through Avination was a new dimension for me. It was like coming home.”

  • Why open source makes sense for cloud deployments

    Instaclustr is a 100% open-source business, using Cassandra (“one of the most scalable databases in the world”) for data storage, Spark for analytics, Elasticsearch for search, and Kafka for messaging, among other pieces of software.
    Instaclustr’s proposition is that organisations need to be able to massively and reliably scale cloud applications, and if Instaclustr looks after the data layer, its clients can concentrate on their applications, chief executive Peter Nichol told iTWire.

    Benefits of open source in this context include the absence of expensive licences, and the flexibility to run the same software in any public cloud, on-premises, or in a hybrid environment. Organisations are looking for “cloud independence”, he explained. Eventually it will be possible to run a single Cassandra cluster across multiple cloud providers.

  • The Consequences of a Changing Open-Source Software Business Model

    It has been an interesting year for open-source software makers. The primary commercial sponsors and/or individual contributors to projects as game-changing and as popular as Apache Kafka, MongoDB and Redis, among many others, may now be asking themselves if they are being taken advantage of, are using the right open-source licenses, or if they’re truly engaged in communities of like-minded people.

    This is happening as some cloud providers and open-source brands are taking code that was written by open-source project “volunteers,” lofting it onto their clouds or locking it down and then reselling it. The most recent occurrence happened late last week at Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent conference.

  • We’re Building on Hollowed Foundations: Worrying Trends in Open Source and What You Can Actually Do About It

    Heather Miller is Director of the Scala Center at EPFL, Professor at Northeastern University. Heather is a co-founder of and the Executive Director of the Scala Center at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. She is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at Northeastern University in Boston. She obtained her PhD in October 2015 under Martin Odersky at EPFL, and is a longtime member of the Scala team.

  • SD Times news digest: Qt 5.12, Hyperledger Sawtooth 1.1 and Linux’s new open source, Linux and Git courses

    Qt has announced the latest version of its cross-platform software development framework for building apps, user interfaces and embedded devices. Qt 5.12 comes with long-term support, improved performance and quality updates.

    Features included reduced memory consumption support for asset conditioning, TableView, input handling, support for Python, remote objects and WebGL streaming plugin, and updates to its design and developer tools.

  • Open Source Project Allows e-Bike Rentals in Seconds over Bitcoin’s Lightning Network

    Matthias Steinig, a German programmer, has developed a new mechanism that allows e-bikes to be rented in exchange for payments on the bitcoin Lightning Network. A prototype built using a modified bicycle is already fully functional and has been demonstrated in a video posted on Twitter.

  • NVIDIA Extends PhysX for High-Fidelity Simulations, Goes Open Source

    NVIDIA PhysX, the most popular physics simulation engine on the planet, is going open source.

    We’re doing this because physics simulation — long key to immersive games and entertainment — turns out to be more important than we ever thought.

    Physics simulation dovetails with AI, robotics and computer vision, self-driving vehicles, and high performance computing.

    It’s foundational for so many different things that we’ve decided to provide it to the world in an open source fashion.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla: Microsoft’s Chromium Shift Will Strengthen Google’s Monopoly

        Yesterday, Microsoft made it official that they are bidding bye to EdgeHTML and will redesign a Chromium-based Edge browser. Chromium is an open source web browser project initiated by Google. Microsoft’s shift to Google’s open source platform has been described as bad by Mozilla.

        In an official blog post titled, “Goodbye, EdgeHTML,” Mozilla has criticized Microsoft’s decision. The post says that by adopting Chromium, Microsoft is handing over even more control of our online life to Google.

  • CMS
    • WordPress 5.0 Delivers Block-Based Editing Approach

      The open-source WordPress blogging and content management system (CMS) project on Dec. 6 released a major milestone update—WordPress 5.0.

      WordPress 5.0 is code-named “Bebo,” named after Cuban jazz musician Bebo Valdés, following the project’s long tradition of naming releases after notable Jazz musicians. WordPress 5.0 boasts a number of improvements, with the biggest user-facing change being the new Project Gutenberg editor. The new editor is the primary interface to how WordPress site administrators create content and define how it is displayed.

      “Our new block-based editor is the first step toward an exciting new future with a streamlined editing experience across your site,” Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, wrote in a blog. “You’ll have more flexibility with how content is displayed, whether you are building your first site, revamping your blog, or write code for a living.”

  • BSD
    • FreeBSD 12 Is Running Great On The Dell PowerEdge R7425 EPYC 2P Server

      AMD EPYC on BSDs has generally worked out well though in the case of motherboards occasionally there are mishaps in the FreeBSD kernel support — just as we often see with new Intel platforms too when trying out the BSDs. With the Dell PowerEdge R7425 it was hanging during the boot process on the older FreeBSD 11.2 (granted, I didn’t spend much time exploring workarounds for that older BSD release), but when testing this week with FreeBSD 12.0-RC3 it has been running well. OpenBSD 6.4 was also tested on this Dell PowerEdge EPYC 2P server and it too has been running without a hitch. Unfortunately, the new DragonFlyBSD 5.4 release isn’t panning out yet on the hardware: when booting the USB installer media, the system ends up rebooting during the boot process.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Unifont 11.0.03 Released

      Unifont 11.0.03 is now available. Significant changes in this version include the Nushu script contributed by David Corbett, and the Kana Supplement and Kana Supplement-A scripts contributed by Johnnie Weaver.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Software Licensing Effort Focuses on Compliance Tools

      “License compliance is an important hygiene factor in the open source ecosystem,” said Endocode CEO Mirko Boehm. “With QMSTR, we started to create a toolchain that focuses on fact-finding and accurate, complete and up-to-date compliance documentation for every software build.”

      VMware’s contribution, Tern, provides a “bill of materials” for application containers. VMware said the tool would help developers meet open-source compliance requirements as containers make steady inroads in handling enterprise production workloads.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • CZI announces funding for open-source software efforts to improve image analysis in biomedicine

      The CZI Imaging Software Fellows work on three critical and widely-used tools: scikit-image, FIJI / ImageJ, and CellProfiler. After several workshops, hackathons, and discussions with the imaging community, these three projects were identified as playing a critical role in the imaging ecosystem, and their developers demonstrated an interest in improving the interoperability and capabilities of their tools.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Saving lives with open source, RISC-V and Linux Foundations team up, and more news

        Chip designer ARM pretty much dominates the worlds of embedded systems and the Internet of Things. At least the instruction set architectures (ISA) that underlie those worlds. That could soon change thanks to the RISC-V Foundation teaming up with the Linux Foundation to “to encourage adoption of the open source RISC-V ISA.”

        Although the Linux Foundation is better know for its software and IT infrastructure projects, this alliance makes sense according to Rick O’Connor, the RISC-V Foundation’s executive director. O’Connor told online publication The Register that the ISA is “where software meets hardware. There’s a lot of overlap in our respective ecosystems that will create a fair amount of synergy.” The Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin also noted that “RISC-V is a technology that has the potential to greatly advance open hardware architecture.”

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • Thousands of Utah state employees entangled in reply-all nightmare

    An apparently simple email about a holiday potluck at a state office in Utah went off the rails Friday when it was accidentally sent to approximately 25,000 state employees.

    One early respondent seemed to anticipate the coming storm of emails by replying to all, “braces self for receiving thousands of emails from people hitting ‘reply all’ to say they got added by mistake.”
    Then the ‘reply-all’ responses began.

  • Science
    • 50 years ago, Douglas Engelbart’s ‘Mother of All Demos’ changed personal technology forever

      Imagine someone demonstrating a jet plane 15 years before Kitty Hawk. Imagine someone demonstrating a smartphone 15 years before the first cellular networks were even launched. Imagine someone demonstrating a controlled nuclear chain reaction 15 years before Einstein formulated e=mc2.

      On a crisp, overcast, and breezy Monday afternoon in San Francisco on December 9, 1968, before an SRO audience of more than 2,000 slack-jawed computer engineers, a soft-spoken engineer named Douglas Engelbart held the first public demonstration of word processing, point-and-clicking, dragging-and-dropping, hypermedia and hyperlinking, cross-file editing, idea/outline processing, collaborative groupware, text messaging, onscreen real-time video teleconferencing, and a weird little device dubbed a “mouse” — the essentials of a graphical user interface (GUI) 15 years before the first personal computers went on sale.

    • Canada proves land of opportunity for famous immigrant inventors

      Ask the leader of any technology company and they’ll tell you that hiring engineers, data scientists or mathematicians is one of their biggest challenges. STEM careers are the fastest growing part of the labour market, and some estimates put the need for technology workers at 216,000 jobs by 2021. To explore the talent gap, the FP talked to innovators who have left Canada to pursue opportunities with big multinational companies, and also those who have moved here to be a part of this country’s digital transformation. You can find all of our coverage here.

    • Companies tap into an underused but highly capable workforce

      Oliver Willcox was always an excellent student. He earned an A in honors physics and a master’s in applied math from Loyola University Chicago. But when he started applying for jobs, Willcox, who has ADHD and a speech and language disorder, got nowhere. In interviews, he could be socially awkward, fidgeting nervously and not looking people in the eye.

      At one bank, after Willcox had aced the data analyst test, hiring managers told him about their tradition of drinking Scotch on Fridays. But Willcox, his mother noted, is not a Scotch Friday kind of guy. And sure enough, the bank ended up rejecting him, as many other employers did, because he wasn’t a good “cultural fit.”

    • Gender Diversity Is Urgently Needed Say Prominent Women In Technology

      Injustice against women persists in the application of new technologies. While our values and norms evolve, the old values remain locked into the internet. Gender-biased algorithms are becoming rampant. And these are not the only problems that women face with this male-dominated industry. As the battle for equality inside and outside the workplace continues, it is time to step up to the mark and make the changes needed to create social justice. If we are to become the equal society that we aspire to or pretend to be, then we need to ensure diversity in the workplace.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Prominent Doctors Aren’t Disclosing Their Industry Ties in Medical Journal Studies. And Journals Are Doing Little to Enforce Their Rules

      One is dean of Yale’s medical school. Another is the director of a cancer center in Texas. A third is the next president of the most prominent society of cancer doctors.

      These leading medical figures are among dozens of doctors who have failed in recent years to report their financial relationships with pharmaceutical and health care companies when their studies are published in medical journals, according to a review by ProPublica and The New York Times and data from other recent research.

      Dr. Howard A. “Skip” Burris III, the president-elect of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, for instance, declared that he had no conflicts of interest in more than 50 journal articles in recent years, including in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

      However, drug companies have paid his employer nearly $114,000 for consulting and speaking, and nearly $8 million for his research during the period for which disclosure was required. His omissions extended to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, which is published by the group he will lead.

    • Agriculture as Wrong Turn

      Pesticides are a nightmare. By dint of their particulate nature when sprayed, they are easily carried away by the wind and end up contaminating soil and water and poisoning other creatures. Only 1% hit their intended target. 1%! Subsequently, at the large scale they are used, they degrade habitat, reduce biodiversity and magnify extinction rates. Ironically, pollinators required for food production are frequent victims. As with war, one can question whether non-target damage can honestly be described as “collateral”—”being aside from the main subject, target, or goal; tangential”—when it is inevitably, one could even say characteristically, a “subject” of nearly every attack, never truly “tangential.” But nature can be resilient, and targeted plants can and do develop herbicide resistance over time, meaning they survive being sprayed. Unfortunately, the agriculture industry’s response is to jack up the amount of herbicide and develop new poisons.

      Irrigation damages the environment from the points of source to delivery, and the bigger the project, the worse it is. Anytime water is diverted from one place to another, there is always at least one loser: the immediate locale from which it was taken. Whether it is a spring, river or lake, the effects of use will make their mark, sooner or later. In many cases, the crop being irrigated isn’t even be food. In northern California, rivers have been running too low for the Salmon because of the wine and Cannabis industries. In other words, we are prioritizing getting drunk and high over the lives of other creatures. Such trade-offs are emblematic of agriculture. That these acts are not considered theft or assault is demonstrative of mere cultural creed, not the honest administration of logic.

    • Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them

      What every American doesn’t know: Cancer is also helping some Americans become exceedingly rich. And these Americans will do most anything to keep their windfalls coming, even prey on the fragile psyches of the families cancer strikes.

      Top cancer treatment centers, the consumer group Truth in Advertising charges in a new report, are “deceptively promoting atypical patient experiences through the use of powerful testimonials.” Back in 2005, U.S. cancer centers spent $54 million showcasing these deceptive testimonials. By 2014, that annual outlay had more than tripled to $173 million.

      One typical testimonial in this advertising barrage features an effusively grateful patient named Carl, a pancreatic cancer survivor. The ad never mentions that pancreatic cancer five-year survival rates run just 8.5 percent.

      “Any cancer center can find a patient who has beat the odds,” notes the new Truth in Advertising report, The Deceptive Marketing of Hope. “But using that atypical experience to play on the hopes and fears of such a susceptible patient population has real consequences.”

  • Security
    • Recorded a substitution of the site Linux.org capture DNS

      According to the administrator of the website, the attackers gained access to the account of the owner of the site Registrar Network Solutions. Apparently, for the domain Linux.org via the Whois service display complete information about the owner and the attacker have used existing databases of breached accounts were able to access a mailbox in Yahoo, using previously fallen into the hands of zloumyshlennikov database with the password hashes. Then using the function to reset a forgotten password, the attacker could change the password for an account, Network Solutions, to which was attached a hacked Inbox in Yahoo. An obstacle could be to use two-factor authentication, but it has not been enabled for additional protection of your account.

    • CyptoJacking Campaign Used Two Malware Strains to Target IoT and Linux Devices
    • ‘Open-Source’ DarthMiner Malware Targets Adobe Pirates with Cryptominer [Ed: Sergiu Gatlan found a way to call malicious proprietary software with holes in it... something about "Open Source"]

      A slightly weird malware strain has been observed using the open source XMRig cryptominer and EmPyre backdoor utilities to target software pirates as reported by Malwarebytes Labs.

    • Bethesda blunders, IRS sounds the alarm, China ransomware, and more

      Linux boot management tool SystemD is once again getting the wrong kind of attention as researchers have spotted another security vulnerability.

      This time, it is an elevation of privilege vulnerability that would potentially let users execute system commands they would otherwise not be authorized to perform.

    • GSX, TZERO, +10 Others Form Open-Source Consortium Focused On Security Token Interoperability And Compliance
    • Iranians indicted in Atlanta city government ransomware attack

      Details leaked by City of Atlanta employees during the ransomware attack, including screenshots of the demand message posted on city computers, indicated that Samsam-based malware was used. A Samsam variant was used in a number of ransomware attacks on hospitals in 2016, with attackers using vulnerable Java Web services to gain entry in several cases. In more recent attacks, including one on the health industry companies Hancock Health and Allscripts, other methods were used to gain access, including Remote Desktop Protocol [attacks] that gave the attackers direct access to Windows systems on the victims’ networks.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing

      During the late CST evening hours of January 17, 1991, the much-promised and anticipated fireworks began.

      For weeks prior NBC’s Lester Holt’s daily announcements were mortifyingly sinister. Much like a tease for a big event, the oft announced “Countdown to the war in Iraq” was repeated during NBC’s daily station breaks. And much like the media’s announcements about the countdown for a Super Bowl game or a national championship college playoff game, Holt’s promise came to fruition during the January 17, 1991 late evening hours.

      And for the first time in history war turned into a real time spectator sport, a mind-boggling atavistic frenzy of fiendish fire unleashed in sadistic synchronicity from the air, land, and sea.

      Glued to CNN’s first-ever live 24/7 reporting on the flaring fireworks illuminating the Baghdad skies, I was not sure whether our doorbell did indeed ring. As the second ring echoed in the hallway, I reluctantly detached myself from the screen to open the front door to our house.

    • Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds

      The turmoil is intrinsic to the nature of Colombian society. Nelson Lombrano Silva recently outlined characteristics. Writing for the Colombian Communist Party website, he castigated the Colombian state as “serving this filthy and immoral bourgeoisie.” Dominance of that sector signals “the inexorable decadence of capitalism in a state of extreme decomposition.” And “narco-trafficker number 82” is in charge. Lombrano is recalling Uribe’s place on an old U.S. list of Colombian drug traffickers.

    • Are we mishandling the war on terror in Africa?
    • The Khashoggi skeletons in America’s closet

      US officials are keen to condemn Jamal Khashoggi’s murder but remain silent on US crimes against journalists.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • The Manafort-Assange meeting that wasn’t: A case study in journalistic malpractice

      Furthermore, as FAIR (8/22/18, 9/25/18) has already catalogued, media giants such as Facebook are already working with governmental organizations like the Atlantic Council to control what we see online, under the guise of battling Russian-sponsored fake news. The Atlantic Council is a NATO offshoot whose board of directors includes neoconservative hawks like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger and James Baker; former CIA directors like Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Michael Hayden; as well as retired generals like Wesley Clark and David Petraeus.

    • New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!

      It’s tough to be an engineering student these days, with so many new developments in modern technology and technological knowledge. The course curricula are more crowded than ever and the impact of emerging technologies is monumental. Some engineering professors worry that their students’ busy course schedules prevents them from adequately exploring the liberal arts. Without exposure to the liberal arts, engineering students will lack the broad context that will help them approach their work as a profession, not just a trade.

      Pressed as they are now in their undergraduate and graduate courses, engineering students may not appreciate the pressures and challenges they will face in their work after graduation. More than handling the stress that comes from needing to meet commercial or governmental deadlines and standards, they will need to understand the ethical ramifications of their actions. Existing industry standards rarely measure up to the necessary health, safety and reliability requirements in the workplace, marketplace and the environment. Moreover, the news media and social media create an environment that shines a spotlight on the personal responsibility of the engineering professions and the obligation to blow the whistle on misdeeds.

      The core curriculum for engineering students must include courses and seminars that explore the ethical responsibility of engineering. Understanding economic and political pressures and, if necessary, whistleblowing obligations are all important matters for engineers. This is the subject of Ethics, Politics, and Whistleblowing in Engineering (CRC Press), a new book edited by Rania Milleron, Ph.D and Nicholas Sakellariou, Ph.D (Rania, my niece, is a microbiologist at the Texas Department of State Health Services and Nicholas is a lecturer at California Polytechnic State University).

    • WikiLeaks requests dismissal of DNC lawsuit, citing First Amendment rights: reports
    • Trump Campaign Calls DNC’s Russia Hacking Suit Sour Grapes

      President Donald Trump’s campaign organization told a judge that the Democratic National Committee made a specious attempt to “explain away” Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat by claiming in a lawsuit that there was a vast conspiracy with Russia and WikiLeaks to hack the DNC’s emails and tilt the election.

      The racketeering suit against dozens of individuals and entities, including Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence, also risks colliding with investigations by congressional committees and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, raising the possibility that the case would need to be put on hold, the campaign said Friday in a court filing seeking dismissal of the suit.

      The Trump campaign argues the DNC’s conspiracy claim fails because the campaign is only accused of receiving advance notice of leaks, making political use of the revealed material and publicly encouraging more hacks.

      “The DNC does not claim the campaign had any role in hacking its systems and stealing the materials — it attributes that only to Russia,” according to the filing. “Nor does the DNC claim the campaign played any part in publishing the stolen materials — it attributes that only to Russia and WikiLeaks.”

    • ‘Biggest attack on freedom of speech in decades’ – WikiLeaks hits back against DNC lawsuit

      WikiLeaks is taking the fight to the Democratic National Committee, accusing the party of an unprecedented assault on the First Amendment in a legal filing that underlined both the absurdity and the overreach of its lawsuit.

      Prosecuting WikiLeaks for publishing “truthful information of public interest” would have a disastrous effect on press freedom, opening the door to prosecution of any and all media organizations that dare to speak truth to power, the embattled publishers wrote.

    • Bush Nostalgia Gives W. a Pass. ‘Vice’ Should Wake Up Everyone.

      Two of the most consequential pieces of journalism of that time did not involve any deep investigative journalism or any major funding: They were the release by Wikileaks of 720,000 secret documents from the State and Defense departments and the series of revelations from Edward Snowden about the massive reach of surveillance conducted by the NSA and CIA.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • ‘Conceivably the Worst’: Groups, Lawmakers Blast Confirmation of Climate Denier to FERC

      Bernard McNamee, a climate change denier who helped write the Trump administration’s failed coal and nuclear bailout plan, was confirmed Thursday as a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

      The Senate approved the nominee on a straight party-line vote of 50-49 after Sen. Joe Manchin, the pro-coal Democrat of West Virginia, withdrew his support due to his concerns about McNamee’s stance on climate change.

      President Trump’s nomination of the fossil fuel lawyer as one of the FERC’s five commissioners was strongly opposed by environmentalists, public health groups and elected leaders.

    • The Deathly Insect Dilemma

      Insect abundance is plummeting with wild abandon, worldwide! Species evolve and go extinct as part of nature’s normal course over thousands and millions of years, but the current rate of devastation is off the charts and downright scary.

      Moreover, there is no quick and easy explanation for this sudden emergence of massive loss around the globe. Yet, something is dreadfully horribly wrong. Beyond doubt, it is not normal for 50%-to-90% of a species to drop dead, but that is happening right now from Germany to Australia to Puerto Rico’s tropical rainforest.

      Scientists are rattled. The world is largely unaware of the implications because it is all so new. It goes without saying that the risk of loss of insects spells loss of ecosystems necessary for very important stuff, like food production.

    • Trump’s Great American Forest Liquidation Sale

      The millions of tourists cruising through North America’s last intact temperate rainforest in Southeast Alaska soak up dark green conifers as far as the eye can see. But a troubling side of this chilly landscape also comes into view. Swaths of Alaska yellow cedars have lost their needles and turned a deathly brown. Scientists say the cedar can’t handle the changing climate, placing it at an ever-increasing risk for extinction.

      On a recent ferry ride through Peril Strait, a narrow 40-mile-long passageway north of Sitka, two Cascadia Times reporters spot a gigantic brown bear foraging near stands of dead cedars, clearly oblivious to another emerging threat. Government bureaucrats want to let the timber industry liquidate its wild Chicagof Island habitat. Someday soon, the view from cruise ships could include clearcuts — but no bears.

      During its first two years in office, the Trump administration kept under wraps plans for federal forests — unlike its very public push to pump up the oil, gas, and coal industries and open disregard for climate change.

      But in August, the administration unveiled a proposal giving the timber industry access to ancient old-growth trees within the nation’s 50 million acres of wild, intact forests, known as roadless areas. The proposal came to life in January when Alaska Gov. Bill Walker petitioned the US Forest Service to remove protection from Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.

      The idea is already controversial in ways reminiscent of the timber wars that roiled the Pacific Northwest 30 years ago. The scheme could extend to Utah, where Gov. Gary Herbert is seeking a similar exemption, and possibly all other national forests.

    • Climate Change Is Likely to Come Sooner and Be Worse Than Latest Worst-Case Forecasts Suggest

      Now, this is going to get a bit wonky, but hang in there—the future viability of the life support system you rely on may be at stake.

      First, let’s review the headlines from the recent reports, and then examine why warming is likely to be much worse, and come much sooner than even these grim reports suggest.

      The recent IPCC report told us that even a temperature increase of 1.5°C could be devastating and that we have very little time to act to avoid it. The Fourth National Assessment told us the U.S. is already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change and that flooding, droughts, fires, and disease would only get worse before it gets better, even if we act immediately.

    • Heavy Police Presence Accompanies March for Climate at Katowice UN Talks

      More than a thousand people marched amidst heavy police presence to demand negotiators and ministers attending the UN climate talks in the southern Polish city of Katowice take more ambitious action on climate change.

      Campaigners and activists from around the world took part in the March for Climate, which marked the end of the first of two weeks of global climate negotiations in Katowice.

      Protesters chanted “keep the coal in the hole”, urged negotiators to “wake-up”, and demanded “climate justice now” while waving colourful banners and flags. Some were also wearing pollution masks to highlight Katowice’s heavily polluted air due to local coal mining.

    • In Another Blow to Keystone XL, Judge Rules TransCanada Can’t Conduct Pre-Construction Work

      Opponents of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline—from indigenous and environmental groups to local farmers and ranchers—celebrated a win in court after a federal judge ruled on Friday that the fossil fuel giant cannot conduct pre-construction work on the pipeline until the full environmental review ordered last month is complete.

    • I went Dungeness crabbing in Washington for the first time this fall. Here’s why I’m concerned about increased shipping from Trans Mountain pipeline.

      Risking these abundant natural resources to fossil fuel shipping is reckless to coastal economies. It is why we should be concerned about the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline shipping expansion. We would see an estimated 700% increase in shipping traffic in the Salish Sea. With it would come increased risks to fishing families, coastal communities and our marine wildlife. The risk of oil and other pollutant spills, marine noise pollution, increased greenhouse gas emissions and other disturbances pose a threat to our wildlife — and thus our ways of life.

    • Shaping New Climate Narratives: Why a Journalist/Historian Turned to Theatre for Climate Stories

      Earlier this year, taking a front row seat at a church in Gary, Indiana, I watched as a young rapper, local food leader and an arts educator beguiled a standing-room-only audience with a theatrical envisioning of their city in the year 2030.

      To the side of the stage, jazz legend Billy Foster and his trio added a lively soundtrack to the performance; a multi-media show reflected the images of their stories in the background.

      To be sure, this “Ecopolis” performance was no simple task. After a short period of training, developing the script and rehearsing, the actors had to transform the sanctuary into a pop-up theatre and a community of the future in the minds of the audience.

      Requiems for Gary’s demise have been written for years, where entrenched poverty and unemployment have left the city in ruins; where the strong scent of hydrocarbons still sting the cold night air. “The maw of that beast, the steel industry,” actor and urban farmer Walter Jones recounted, “takes up nine miles of lakefront.”

      “Love song to the scarred lungs, my people bare,” performance poet Krystal Wilson rapped, “because in my city glocks ain’t got nothing on poison and hostile air.”

    • Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution

      The Americanism that people will never voluntarily give up the consumption that is killing the planet represents the triumph of a long con. The problem that consumed (apologies) economists in the early twentieth century was how to get people to want the stuff that capitalism produces. Past the point of meeting basic needs, people really didn’t want consumer goods. Early on, capitalism was a method of economic production in search of a constituency.

      In the present, this most likely reads as being wildly counterintuitive. China and other recent entrants into mass consumer culture prove the universal character of the desire to consume, goes the argument. But the Chinese development of a consumer culture has been driven by top-down economic policies, not ‘demand’ from below. As a strategy for maintaining political control, it is easier to satiate manufactured wants than to cede power to truly democratic inclinations.

      In 1958 economist and advisor to presidents John Kenneth Galbraith wrote The Affluent Societyas an explanation of post-War political economy in the U.S. Prominent in his theory of ‘dependence’ are corporations that use commercial propaganda (advertising) to create demand for the products they produce. Mr. Galbraith, a committed capitalist, understood that Western consumption is a function of what is produced, not ‘consumer demand.’

    • Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent

      Thinking in siloes about the climate and about our planet’s people puts us at risk of increasing climate disruption and massive loss of life. COP 24 is a crucial test of whether the severity of the climate and human situation will finally be acknowledged and addressed.

      Several years ago I attended a meeting of major environmental organizations, brought together by the Climate Action Network to hear the results of a survey conducted on how to best inform the public about climate change. The consultants advised giving people something they can do, focusing on what they directly experience, and being positive. Climate solutions should be contextualized as lifestyle choices with a promised reward such as more free time; money back from carbon tax rebates; harmony with nature; and a society of high tech living based on “clean energy”.

      Glenn Greenwald describes how American leaders get away with murder and much else through a positivity of “moving forward” and leaving out the past. Paul Jay of the Real News Network speaks with alarm about the infantilization of the public when “we need to tell people the whole truth about the urgency of this historical moment… The existential threat of the current moment.” What sets Corbyn apart is his treating people as adults. [1}

      Three current climate news items leave out crucial realities: the October IPCC warning about the dangerous differences between 1.5C and 2C, advising greenhouse gas reductions of 45% by 2030; the Nobel economics prize awarded to William Nordhaus for his work on the carbon budget which would allow an additional 270 billion tonnes into the atmosphere; and the California forest fires.

    • ‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19

      “Get me outta here.”

      At the recent G20 meeting in Argentina, Donald Trump was on the world’s stage when he muttered this aside to an aide. He was supposed to be getting ready for a photo op with the other global leaders at the conclusion of the meeting. And, after some confusion, Trump eventually did come back to pose for the group shot.

      But the unscripted utterance perfectly captured the United States in the world today. With all eyes on him, the leader of the free world wandered away from the spotlight, whining like a six-year-old upstaged at his own birthday party. Trump, who lambastes his counterparts for being “weak,” was publicly incapable of manning up even when the stakes were so low. This is what passes for U.S. “leadership” at the moment.

      The moment also illustrates Trump’s paradox. He wants to be at the center of everything. And he wants to be teleported out of these international confabs as soon as possible. Psychologically speaking, this all-in, all-out approach corresponds to the publicly arrogant and privately insecure temperament of a world-class narcissist. It would all make for an amusing Dr. Phil show — if it didn’t have such a profound impact on global affairs.

      No doubt there were millions of people around the world who nodded their heads along with Trump at that moment: “Please, dear god, get him outta there. And send him somewhere he can’t do anyone any harm.”

  • Finance
    • Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff

      Nasser’s text is an economic and political history of the United States since the latter part of the nineteenth century. In narrating this history, Nasser does not separate the economic establishment from the nation’s political structure. Instead, each page provides greater proof in the intricate and intimate relationship between the two. It is the author’s contention that capitalism as an economic system is neither moral or immoral. Instead, it is without morals of any kind. Like the algorithms Wall Street whiz kids create, capitalism does not know right from wrong. However, those who apply those algorithms do. Likewise, argues Nasser, the politicians and administrators in Washington, DC know right from wrong. When they vote to increase social spending, these men and women are making a choice to use some of capitalism’s profits to help those left behind in the pursuit of those profits. When the politicians and administrators decide to remove so-called safety net spending, they are choosing to let the people affected by that spending suffer. In other words, they are making a moral choice no matter what decision they make.

      Of course, there are other machinations and motives at play in these decisions. For example, the pursuit of profit has blinded stronger men than Donald Trump. It is also true that that pursuit has created an economy that does not fill the needs of all the people. Instead, it creates unneeded products and uses marketing to convince folks that such products are needed. As part of this mechanism, the act of buying and owning certain products creates artificial needs and desires. This understanding, perhaps stated best by Herbert Marcuse in his book One Dimensional Man, is an operative and fundamental part of contemporary human society.

    • Bitmain, Roger Ver, Kraken Sued for Alleged Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork Manipulation

      Florida-based United American Corp. (UnitedCorp) has purportedly filed a lawsuit against Bitmain, Bitcoin.com, Roger Ver, and the Kraken Bitcoin Exchange, according to a press release published Dec. 6. UnitedCorp alleges that the defendants planned a scheme to take control of the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) network.

      Founded in 1992, UnitedCorp is a development and management firm with a focus on telecommunications and information technologies. The company manages a portfolio of patents and proprietary technology in telecoms, social media and blockchain. UnitedCorp also owns and operates BlockchainDomes stations, that provide heat for agricultural applications.

    • An important reform in antitrust law could be on the way

      Last week, the United States Supreme Court signaled that it was about to adopt a major change in antitrust law. In a delightful contrast to the political branches of government, justices appointed both by Democrats and Republicans appear ready to make the change, moving toward an outcome that none of the detractors of the recent appointees would have predicted. Justices Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Kagan, Sotomayer, Alito and Breyer indicated in their questioning at oral argument that each would favor the same point of view — expanding the right of consumers to sue companies that had, for the last 40 years, largely escaped antitrust scrutiny.

    • An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?

      An NYT article on the stock market’s plunge also noted that the yield curve, defined as the gap between the interest rate on 10-year Treasury bonds and two-year notes, is close to being inverted. The interest rate on 10-year bonds was just 0.12 percentage points higher than the interest rate on 2-year notes. The piece points out that an inverted yield curve has historically been associated with a recession in the near future.

      While I would not rule out a recession (we will have another recession someday), I am less impressed by this signal than the NYT. The longer-term rates tend to follow the expected path of the short-term rate with a longer yield providing a greater premium since the holder of a long-term bond suffers a substantial capital loss if the price goes down.

      For example, if I’m holding a 10-year Treasury bond and the interest rate increases from 3.0 percent to 4.0 percent in a relatively short period of time, the price would fall by close to 9.0 percent. To cover that risk, I will want a premium over the short-term rate. The same logic applies to a 2-year note, except that the potential loss from a rise in interest rates is much smaller so the necessary premium is much smaller.

      However, the risk in this story is that the Federal Reserve Board will raise interest rates. Currently, the federal funds rate is at 2.25 percent. While there is a good chance the Fed will raise rates by 0.25 percentage points at its meeting this month, Fed Chair Jerome Powell has made it clear that he thinks we are near the end of a cycle of rising rates. For this reason, holders of longer-term debt have less reason to fear that short-term rates will rise much from their current level. Therefore, they are not demanding large risk premiums.

      Historically, we have reached this point where investors no longer saw much risk of further rate hikes after a period of aggressive rate increases by the Fed. In 1989, the peak of the federal funds rate was almost 4.0 percentage points above its cyclical low. In the mid-1970s, it was more than 8.0 percentage points, and in 1980 the federal funds rate peaked more than 14.0 percentage points above the low for the cycle.

    • Can the Nation’s First Charter School Strike Transform the Industry?

      For the first time, charter school teachers are striking. Over the past week, a strike at Chicago’s largest unionized charter network gained steam, with 15 schools serving Acero’s 7,500 predominantly Latino students remaining closed since Tuesday.

      This week’s strike is the first in the nation against a charter operator, and comes only days after Acero released a financial audit showing that the nonprofit currently has at least $24 million in cash and brought in $89 million in revenue this year.

      Despite having $10 million more than it had at the end of 2017, Acero managed to spend $1 million less on salaries this year, only giving their teachers a “paltry” wage increase, according to the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), and no raise at all to the schools’ support staff.

      While charter teachers are typically paid $13,000 less than those in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), charter schools bring in 8 percent more per student in funding than CPS under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s so-called “student-based budgeting” scheme, which gives each school a fixed amount of money per student enrolled.

    • Charter School Lobby Silent as Charter Teachers Continue Strike

      For decades we’ve been told that these types of schools were all about innovation. They were laboratories where teachers and administrators could be freed from the stifling regulations at traditional public schools.

      Yet whenever wealthy operators stole money or cut services to maximize profits or engaged in shady real estate deals or collected money for ghost children or cherry picked the best students or fomented “no excuses” discipline policies or increased segregation or denied services to special education kids or a thousand other shady business practices—whenever any of that happened, we were told they were just unfortunate side effects. Malfeasance and fraud weren’t what charters were all about. They were about the children.

      And now when charter teachers speak out and demand a better environment for themselves and their students, these ideologues have nothing to say.

      Funny.

    • George H.W. Bush Was an Enemy of the Working Class

      In 1992, media reports claimed that then-president George H.W. Bush was “amazed” at the sight of a grocery store scanner. While the claim has since been debunked, the encounter says a lot about his presidency.

      Bush Sr., who died last week at the age of 94, appeared suspiciously wide-eyed about grocery scanner technology during a photo-op at a grocer convention. The episode was used as evidence during Bush’s re-election bid that he hadn’t been grocery shopping since the 1970s when scanners were first introduced.

      Later revealed to have been the product of a creative misreading by the New York Times’ Andrew Rosenthal (who hadn’t been present at the convention), the farce—and the fact that so many at the time bought it—nonetheless reveals a deeper truth about his presidency: Bush Sr. was out of touch with the plight of working and middle-class Americans.

      Bush was one of just five presidents in the 20th century to lose a re-election campaign. In 1994, he lost to Bill Clinton, the upstart governor from Arkansas, in the midst of a recession that swept the nation during the early 1990s. Bush had failed to recognize the simple truism of Clinton’s campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

    • Bush Obsequies

      When taking stock of a life, especially one as extended as George H. W. Bush’s ninety-four years, it is the long view that is called for. The sights and sounds of Wednesday’s state funeral expanded the time frame far beyond the former president’s earthly sojourn of nearly a century.

      On surveying the knights and ladies of the realm arrayed in the gothic expanse of the Washington National Cathedral, a dignitary from another planet (one that, in order to secure the invitation, had deeded over the requisite terrain to American off-world military bases) might well have wondered whether medieval crusaders had pitched up in the District of Columbia and promptly built this unlikely edifice’s spires, vaults, and buttresses. “Damn Right!” came Wednesday’s resplendent response.

      Crusading General “Black Jack” Pershing had led the fundraising efforts to begin construction at the beginning of the last century, and it was meet and right that the body of the commander-in-chief of the international host that invaded the Arabian Peninsula in the First Gulf War should be hymned in the shadow of the cathedral’s high altar. Beyond all credulity Bush was lionized in the first eulogy by presidential historian Jon Meacham as “the last soldier statesman”—a Godfrey of Bouillon of the New World Order. A millennium on, the Christian crusades are still underway thanks in no small measure to St. George of Kennebunk.

      [...]

      Unlike his namesake son, who adopted the Methodism of his wife Laura, George Bush the elder was born and buried an Episcopalian—the rebrand of the Church of England undertaken after the American Revolution, with the newly independent branch remaining reliant on the musical traditions back in the Mother Country. Director of music at the National Cathedral, Canon Michael McCarthy, a leading Anglican church musician, is a musical immigrant to this country. He assuredly directed the anthems—syrupy and affecting—by twentieth-century American composers following in the English tradition.

      [...]

      The ceremony’s musical culmination came not with strains redolent of Westminster Abbey, however. Instead, Irish tenor Ronan Tynan belted out sickly-sweet patriotic sentiment in the form of Larry Grossman’s Lincolnian anthem, “Last Full Measure of Devotion.” Having sung “Silent Night” at Bush’s deathbed, Tynan was accompanied at the funeral by the red-coated marines delivering the cheesy harmonies with swelling strings, heroic brass, fearsome timpani, and snare drum’s martial lash that had all stepped directly off Broadway and into the solemn reaches of the National Cathedral. Grossman is the composer of, among other classics, the soundtrack for Disney’s Pocahontas II. It was fitting that such musical sensitivity to American history should be deployed to mark Bush’s passing. The effect of this upwelling of schlock was to swamp all the Anglican grandeur that had preceded it.

      With Grossman’s campy canticle echoing down the endless nave, George Bush’s body was heading to Texas for one last show.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The Democrats Need a Clear Economic Vision. Here’s Where to Start.

      Budgets aren’t sexy and don’t get much airtime on the campaign trail, but the allocation of America’s financial resources is arguably the most important act in politics. As the newly Democratic-controlled House of Representatives enters office in January, the People’s Budget presents an immediate opportunity for Democrats to support a bold, concrete plan for creating living-wage jobs and rebuilding America’s corroded and unsustainable infrastructure.

      Crafted annually by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC)—the largest Democratic caucus in the House—the People’s Budget proposes to invest $2 trillion over 10 years (employing 2.5 million people in the first year) to “eliminate our lead-contaminated water system, address our overburdened mass transit system, and rebuild our schools, crumbling roads, and bridges.” That’s double what the Democratic Party leadership asks for in its “Better Deal” package of reforms. The CPC budget also provides money for worker re-training and apprenticeship programs to help workers transition to new green jobs.

      But, will Democratic Party leaders embrace this brick-and-mortar economic justice package, which could boost employment and wages for millions while bolstering the nation’s healthcare, education and infrastructure and expanding green jobs to mitigate climate crisis? And, crucially, how will Democrats hash out overlapping agendas in the People’s Budget and the newly ascendant Green New Deal?

    • Michigan Is the Latest Example of the Restaurant Lobby Subverting Democracy

      It’s been a bad week for democracy. While all eyes have been on a Republican power grab in Wisconsin, the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature quietly gutted its brand-new laws to increase the state’s minimum wage and provide residents with paid sick leave.

      Lawmakers initially passed the popular policies in September, after it became clear that ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022, phase out the tipped minimum wage, and guarantee 72 hours of paid sick leave were likely to be approved if they were put to the state’s voters in November. Concerned that they’d be unable to overturn a ballot initiative, which would require a three-fourths supermajority, Republican legislators took the extraordinary step of passing the law themselves — so they could come back and dismantle it with a simple majority in the current lame duck session.

      The new Republican bill delays the minimum wage increase by eight years, until the year 2030. Paid sick time is slashed in half, to just 36 hours per year. In addition, it maintains the tipped minimum wage, increasing it to just $4.58 by 2030, which earlier legislation would have phased out. The bill now heads to the desk of the outgoing Republican governor, Rick Snyder, who is expected to sign it into law.

    • A Requiem for Donald Trump

      I attended Donald Trump’s funeral today in a half-empty Washington Cathedral, curious to learn how the 45th president, who of course resigned in disgrace in 2019, would be remembered by those who came to mourn him. The only living former presidents, Mike Pence, Barack Obama and 100-year-old Jimmy Carter, were in attendance but did not speak to eulogize him. (Pence was scheduled to speak but was overcome by tears.) That task fell to Donald Trump, Jr., just out of prison after his early release following his conviction in 2019 for lying to Congress and the FBI.

      “He was a great dad,” said a tearful Don, Jr. “He set an example that made me into the man I am today.”

      Also speaking his praises was an elderly Rudy Giuliani, who said Trump had gotten a raw deal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller and had nothing to be ashamed of. “I admire President Trump for many things, but most of all for never backing down. He did nothing wrong and he stood his ground. By the way, is this on live TV?”

      A parade of convicted felons followed Giuliani to the stage, all of them pardoned by Trump before he left office under the cloud of a pending impeachment for obstruction of justice and other high crimes and misdemeanors. Former Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, speaking from a wheelchair at age 93, praised Trump for his tough stance on immigration. (“He treated those criminal migrant families a lot better than I would have.”) Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort said the president had stood behind him through thick and thin before pardoning him on the eve of his own resignation. (“He and I were on the same page, even when the whole world thought I was lying.”)

    • The Progress of Fascism Over the Last Twenty Years

      In the 2001-2003 period, I was the first person anywhere to consistently apply the framework of fascism to try to understand unfolding events. Some among the commentariat dumped on me for using the term when clearly, according to them, we were in no such condition.

      In those years the publisher of a well-known progressive press responded to my proposal for a book on emergent fascism by wanting me to interrogate—in person, in their own lairs no less!—John Ashcroft, Viet Dinh, Donald Rumsfeld, and other leading Bush administration figures at the forefront of introducing fascism. The standard for veterans of the progressive press turned out to be considerably less rigorous; they continued their armchair reporting, using the same discredited old framework. The publisher’s absolute condition for the book was that I must not, under any circumstances, use the term “fascism”—I could call it anything else, just not that; presumably it would upset armchair revolutionaries.

      Naomi Wolf—always quick on the mark, she, as in recently discovering The Vagina—wrote several years after the fact a book called The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (2007), in which she listed the major symptoms of the fascist tendency, borrowed particularly from the Nazi model, elements of which I too had applied earlier in the decade. The problem is, Nazism is not as universal a model as Italian fascism, so the standards are too narrow. By the time Wolf wrote, fascism in America had shifted to an insidious corruption of bureaucratic institutions. It was evident that tanks weren’t going to march on the streets, and there wasn’t going to be a violent militia to enforce fascism. So Wolfe’s work was too little, too late, and in fact counterproductive because it distracted from the actual threat.

    • New Deals, From FDR’s to the Greens’

      Pearl Harbor was a national crisis and in times of crisis people quite often overreact, do and say things they may later regret and make bad decisions in the heat of the moment (9/11 is a more recent example). The highly charged atmosphere on the West Coast was satirized in the 1979 film, 1941, starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, among others, which left out any mention of Japanese-American internment.

      I agree with Louis that European-American and specifically FDR’s own racism towards the Japanese were clearly a factor in the internment decision. Comparatively small numbers of German and Italian nationals and American citizens of German or Italian descent were also interned in camps, however, it was nothing like the experience of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast. But let’s examine this with more historical background.

      Japan underwent one of the most astonishing transformations in history in the late 19thcentury, from a feudal backwater to a modern, industrial, Capitalist-Imperialist state in less than thirty years. Japan’s new modernity was coupled with retention of key aspects of its ancient culture, such as the belief that its emperor was descended from the gods and was, in fact, a deity himself. Closely related was the idea that the Japanese were a chosen people, a superior race with the right to dominate East Asia and the Pacific. Coincidentally, Japan was poor in the resources necessary to fuel an industrial economy.

    • John Kelly Leaving as Trump’s Chief of Staff

      President Donald Trump said Saturday that chief of staff John Kelly will leave his job by year’s end amid an expected West Wing reshuffling reflecting a focus on the 2020 re-election campaign and the challenge of governing with Democrats reclaiming control of the House.

      Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, is Trump’s top choice to replace Kelly, and the two have held discussions for months about the job, a White House official said. An announcement was expected in the coming days, the president told reporters as he left the White House for the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.

      Kelly had been credited with imposing order on a chaotic West Wing after his arrival in June 2017 from his post as homeland security secretary. But his iron first also alienated some longtime Trump allies, and he grew increasingly isolated, with an increasingly diminished role.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Journal Times editorial: Facebook tries to bury bad news about itself
    • What Marc Lamont Hill’s Pro-Palestine Message Means to a Palestinian

      On November 29, CNN fired Professor Marc Lamont Hill, a prominent academic, author and activist, for having the audacity to step outside the spectrum of what is considered acceptable discourse on Israel and Palestine: Hill simply acknowledged that an oppressed population has the moral right to resist its oppressor.

      Unlike how his words are being characterized, his statements were neither controversial nor radical; a quick skim of our history books would clearly suggest the contrary, and that it was not Hill’s message that led CNN to fire him, it was the result of the Palestinian exception to free speech and the subject of his criticism: Israel.

      That is not to say Israel is never criticized or discussed in the mainstream media. It’s just that when it is, the criticism needs to neatly fit into one of two pre-packaged positions. On one side, we have the Donald Trump-Benjamin Netanyahu camp that blames the Palestinians for all of Israel’s abuses and mistakes. On the other, we have the Democratic Party-liberal Zionist camp that acknowledges Israel’s unjust treatment of the Palestinians but excuses it under a web of “well-intentioned” justifications.

      Hill challenged this narrative unapologetically, and provided a rare voice of criticism outside this narrowly accepted spectrum of debate. As a result, his rhetoric, words and tone might have shocked people’s sensibilities, but he has nothing to apologize for, and CNN should reinstate him immediately. Here’s some context to the “controversial” statements he made, from the perspective of one member of the people Hill was fired for defending.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Apple to spy on your snoozing: Tech giant is set to make an iSheet woven with sensors

      Apple is set to make an iSheet woven with strange sensors that monitor people’s sleep, according to the firm’s latest patent.

      The multi-sensor sleep system includes a camera that analyses people as they snooze from above.

    • GCHQ boosts powers to launch mass data hacking

      The UK’s intelligence agencies are to significantly increase their use of large-scale data hacking after claiming that more targeted operations are being rendered obsolete by technology.

      The move, which has alarmed civil liberty groups, will see an expansion in what is known as the “bulk equipment interference (EI) regime” – the process by which GCHQ can target entire communication networks overseas in a bid to identify individuals who pose a threat to national security.

      A letter from the security minister, Ben Wallace, to the head of the intelligence and security committee, Dominic Grieve, quietly filed in the House of Commons library last week, states: “Following a review of current operational and technical realities, GCHQ have … determined that it will be necessary to conduct a higher proportion of ongoing overseas focused operational activity using the bulk EI regime than was originally envisaged.”

    • Epic Games Store Privacy Policy Conflicts With EU GDPR Laws, Sketchy Refund Policies

      Launched earlier this week during The Game Awards 2018, the Epic Games Store aims to take on Steam by offering numerous exclusive titles. The new game store’s revenue share policies gives developers 88% of the sales profit, which has already begun to attract games like Ashen and Hades. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, however, as digging into Epic Games Store’s privacy policy has unearthed some very worrying details, some of which do not conform with the GDPR laws.

      Reddit users from r/pcgaming researched the privacy policy of the store and found that parts of it conflict with the GDPR laws implemented by the EU earlier this year. Several clauses of the text state that, by agreeing to privacy policy, you allow Epic Games to temporarily share your personal details with advertisers. While you can restrict Epic from sharing your personal information, you can only do so in “limited circumstances”. This goes directly against the GDPR laws, which call for increased privacy for consumers.

    • What’s going on with Huawei?
    • ‘Secretive Facebook could threaten democracy’: UK expert
    • The Dark Days Of Facebook, And The Light Ahead

      Facebook just suffered the ugliest few weeks in its history, and I’m not talking about its shares plunging over 40% in the last four months.

    • China’s Great Social Credit Leap Forward

      The data-driven system would help meet market objectives by effectively extending financing options to the country’s large unbanked population, and ideological objectives by addressing rampant corruption, profiteering, and mistrust in the country—or as early documents promised, to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”

    • How China’s Social Credit Systems Are Shaping Travel

      Travel is a privilege, not a right — at least according to the Chinese government. The country’s expansive social credit system has been used as a justification to ban a substantial number, 15.39 million by the latest count, from traveling by air or high-speed rail.

      It isn’t just the government that’s rolling out these “credit” regimes, tech giants Tencent Holdings and Alibaba Group, via its affiliate Ant Financial, have both released their own propriety credit systems integrated into their digital ecosystems, which serve a similar purpose to a credit score in the U.S. While these digital systems are designed to have substantial consumer applications in regards to finance, they have some major implications for travel.

    • The federal government and Labor have passed controversial new encryption laws. What do they actually mean?

      The government will have three levels of requests. The first stage is voluntary while the second stage is compulsory and includes fines up to $10 million and $50,000 for an individual. The third stage is also compulsory and demands companies proactively work to build mechanisms to help authorities collect information.

    • Split Key Cryptography is Back… Again – Why Government Back Doors Don’t Work

      Let’s cover some history of attempts to regulate cryptography and why they’ve failed, and then apply that knowledge to the current situation. This will help us understand why cryptographers around the world are universally against this kind of scheme.

    • The Week in Tech: Facebook Is in the News. Again.

      The documents revealed how Facebook treated user data as a bargaining chip. The social network had a “white list” agreemenhack://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/AA18-337At with companies it favored, including Airbnb, Lyft and Netflix. The arrangement involved sharing user data with those parties that other companies were restricted from obtaining.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition

      The time to resume using words like “resistance” and “revolution” in philosophically sound and historically accurate ways was long ago.

      [...]

      The situation is especially confusing because, for many decades now, most self-declared socialists have been social democrats under the skin. The ideas are distinct, however, even when the words are used in loose and misleading ways.

      From a more scrupulous standpoint, it would be fair to say that socialists and social democrats have been on different tracks at least since the Second (Socialist) International split in the aftermath of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution.

      From then on, social democracy, no matter how named, has functioned as an alternative to the Communism of the Soviet Union and its allies.

      Communists were socialists, not social democrats and, as political heirs of militants who actually made a socialist revolution, they enjoyed uncommon levels of prestige. Moreover, because their achievement was, or seemed to be, so monumental, their purchase on socialism, however flawed it might be, swamped all others.

      It was therefore natural for opponents of Bolshevism to drift over into the social democratic camp. There was, it seemed, nowhere else to go.

    • Lessons From South of the Border

      President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric hasn’t just infected U.S. politics. Now it’s made its way south of the border.

      As a caravan of hundreds of migrants arrive in Tijuana, some residents there have started taking up Trump’s ideology. Juan Manuel Gastélum, the mayor of Tijuana, has been seen wearing a red “Make Tijuana Great Again” baseball cap. In an interview with Milenio News, he painted the migrants as a dangerous threat.

      “Sure, there are some good people in the caravan, but many are very bad for the city,” Gastélum said.

      And on November 19, a few hundred protested against the migrant caravan in Tijuana chanting “Tijuana first.” In the days before the protest, locals even attacked some migrants with stones.

      These are the real effects of Trump’s rhetoric. Luckily, despite growing anti-immigrant sentiments, there are still many in Mexico who support and defend the migrants. This gives me hope.

      Thousands of migrants are facing a humanitarian crisis in Tijuana, after walking more than 2,500 miles. Many simply want their chance to seek asylum in the United States, which is their legal right. But they may have to wait months for their chance.

    • The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual

      In this work, Chomsky condemns intellectuals who lie. He notices that intellectuals have a unique right to not only speak their mind, but to seek the truth.

    • Spare me America’s tears for Jamal Khashoggi – this excuse for Trump-bashing ignores the CIA’s past crimes

      Can I be the only one – apart from his own sycophants – to find the sight of America’s finest Republicans and Democrats condemning the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for murdering Jamal Khashoggi a bit sickening? “Crazy”. “Dangerous”. A “wrecking ball”. A “smoking saw”. These guys are angry. CIA director Gina Haspel, who was happy to sign off on the torture of her Muslim captives in a secret American prison in Thailand, obviously knew what she was talking about when she testified about Mohammed bin Salman and the agony of Jamal Khashoggi.

    • The Conspiracy Against Refugees

      Watching the ongoing debate between liberal and right-wing pundits on US mainstream media, one rarely gets the impression that Washington is responsible for the unfolding chaotic situation in Central America. In fact, no other country is as accountable as the United States for the ongoing chaos and resulting refugee crisis. So why, despite the seemingly substantial ideological and political differences between right-wing Fox News and liberal CNN, are both media outlets working hard to safeguard their country’s dirty little secret?

      In recent years, state and gang violence — coupled with extreme poverty — have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras, among other countries in Central and South America. The mainstream media in the US, however, is rarely interested in the root cause of that reality.

    • Trump, the CIA and the future of torture

      Investigating claims of impeding justice, seventeen years after the worst attack on the US and ongoing rampant claims of prisoner abuse and torture.

    • The Psychological Impact Of The US Torture Program

      The report concludes that the company facilitated these flights and delivered detainees to black sites where many received further enhanced interrogation approved by a post-9/11 administration. The report also details the abuses suffered by the detainees and the lingering psychological impacts on survivors’ health. It also points to the need for greater accountability from federal and state officials for their involvement in this program.

      Host Frank Stasio is joined by two experts to review the report “Torture Flights: North Carolina’s Role in the CIA Rendition and Torture Program,” which was released in September. Joe Margulies, a professor of law and government at Cornell University, talks about his work representing detainee Abu Zubaydah. Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in CIA custody, according to the report, and still remains at Guantanamo Bay. Katherine Porterfield joins the conversation to talk about the psychological impact of the CIA torture program. Porterfield is a senior psychologist at Bellevue Hospital in New York City who has worked for the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture since 1999 and interviewed some of the detainees.

    • The morality of torture: A toxic legacy

      An investigation into the covert CIA programme of torture outlawed by former President Obama and favoured by the Trump administration.

    • Family sues CIA to find body of post-9/11 detainee

      The family of an Afghan man detained and allegedly tortured to death by the Central Intelligence Agency in the wake of the 9/11 attacks sued Thursay to find out what happened to his body.

      The lawsuit says that Gul Rahman and his family were living in a refugee camp in Peshawar when he was kidnapped by the U.S. spy agency on suspicion of being a jihadist militant on November 5, 2002 and transferred to a CIA prison for interrogation.

      “Over the next two weeks, CIA personnel subjected Mr. Rahman to extensive and systematic torture and abuse,” the lawsuit said, until he died of hypothermia on November 20, the lawsuit said.

      His death was not reported until 2010 and not officially confirmed until 2014.

      “To date, the CIA has not officially informed Mr Rahman’s family of his death, nor returned his body to his family,” the lawsuit said.

      The suit, brought in the federal district court in Washington, demands the release of records regarding his death and his body under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

    • The CIA Tortured An Afghan Suspect To Death But Refuses To Say Where His Body Is

      October 2002 was the last time Gul Rahman’s family ever saw their father, dead or alive. Little did they realize that the Afghan citizen, who was residing in a refugee camp in Peshwar, Pakistan, at the time with his family, was taken by Central Intelligence officers to a secret prison over 40 miles away near the Afghanistan capital.

      It was inside this clandestine facility, also known as the Salt Pit, where Rahman was chained up, interrogated and tortured for three weeks. He was also deprived of food and sleep, made to stand for days and was drenched with freezing water until he showed signs of hypothermia. For the almost the entire time he was held, Rahman was either fully naked, naked below the waist, or naked except for a diaper he wore.

    • Obama Banned Torture Years Ago but Its Replacement Is Still Brutal

      Hanns Scharff was already a legend when Allied forces captured him at the end of World War II. A businessman conscripted into the Nazi war machine in 1939 and assigned to interrogate captured Allied pilots, Scharff quickly earned a reputation in the Luftwaffe for his uncanny ability to elicit valuable intelligence from his subjects—without laying a hand on them. “He could get a confession of infidelity from a nun,” one of his former prisoners later quipped. Like Wernher von Braun, the Nazi rocket scientist who got a second chance with the Pentagon’s ballistic missile program, Scharff had expertise that was recognized after the war’s end by the U.S. Air Force, which in 1948 invited him to lecture on his techniques and adopted many of his methods for its interrogation school curriculum.

      Scharff’s ideas gained currency over the decades but never completely won over the front-line intelligence agencies, especially after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Panicking over the possibility of another devastating assault, the CIA in particular ignored the evidence produced by Scharff and other like-minded interrogation veterans and opted for what amounted to the movie version of questioning suspects: threats and torture.“

      Important lessons learned about the usefulness of non-coercive, ‘strategic interrogation’ techniques,” wrote one expert in a 2006 historical study of U.S. interrogation methods, “were forgotten.”

    • The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left

      According to our nation’s paper of record, the New York Times, the Nicaraguan Contras re-activated some time ago in order to take on their old foe, Daniel Ortega, who had been re-elected in 2007 after a long hiatus of 17 years. One may recall that it was the pressure of the Contras, and their brutal terrorist tactics, which were critical to unseating Ortega from office the first time back in 1990.

      Just as a refresher, the Contras (short for “counterrevolutionaries”) were made up largely of the National Guardsmen of the US-backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza. After the successful 1979 revolution against Somoza – a revolution led by Ortega and the FSLN (or, Sandinistas) — the CIA organized the Guardsmen into the Contras and trained, armed and directed them for the purpose of undermining the fledgling Sandinista government. The Contras, with the direct encouragement of the CIA, carried out various terrorist acts which included the torture, rape and murder of civilians and the destruction of key civilian infrastructure. All told, around 30,000 Nicaraguans died in the 1980’s as a result of the US-backed Contra War.

    • Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front

      Rwanda has served as an important metaphor in American foreign policy for the failure to act to intervene in genocide. Presidents ordering bombing attacks or Special Forces operations have frequently said that they could not allow another Rwanda on their watch.

      According to Samantha Power’s Pulitzer-prize winning book, A Problem From Hell: America in the Age of Genocide (2002), a veritable bible for policy-makers in the era of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), the Clinton administration had foreknowledge of the April 1994 disaster, and failed to save the Tutsi from slaughter carried out by Hutu extremists.

      [...]

      The Bush and Clinton administrations, with their British counterparts, supported Kagame and the RPF because Habyarimana, though originally installed in a CIA supported coup in 1973, had become a proxy of the French. After Habyarimana’s killing Clinton urged the removal of UN forces so the RPF would win Rwanda’s civil war.

      The RPF instigated the war in October 1990 by invading Rwanda from Uganda in an attempt to reclaim the Tutsis former privileged status. (The Tutsi were favored by the Belgian colonialists and then subjugated and many expelled following Rwanda’s Hutu Power revolution in the early 1960s). The U.S. and British trained the RPF in counterinsurgency and helped to turn the refugee army into a military powerhouse. Kagame was trained in psychological warfare methods at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.

    • American History for Truthdiggers: The Decade That Roared, and Wept

      era, it seems, has the United States been able to overcome its original sin of slavery, racism and racial caste. It most certainly failed to do so in the ’20s. There were, of course, early signs that the renaissance of black culture following the First World War had strict geographic and temporal limitations. Indeed, the hundreds of thousands of African-American soldiers who deployed overseas during 1917-18 found that the racial and social norms in France were far more open and accepting than those of the United States—especially those in the American South. Some never left France, forming a robust and creative black expatriate community in Paris. Then, when most black soldiers did return home, proudly adorned in their military uniforms, they faced political violence and the threat of lynching at record levels. A number were lynched while still in uniform.

      Still, for all these grim intonations, the 1920s was a vibrant era for black culture. Jazz, made popular in the period, is arguably the only true, wholly American art form. The Harlem Renaissance formed by black writers, musicians, poets and critics in New York City would become legendary. The 1920s, in the wake of World War I, was also the start of the First Great Migration of African-Americans from the rural South to the urban North—one of the largest and fastest internal movements of a population in modern history. This shift created the racial pattern and mosaic that modern Americans take for granted. In 1900, 90 percent of American blacks still lived in the South. They left to seek war-industry jobs and postwar urban industrial work. Others hoped to escape the racism, violence and suffocating caste system of the South. Most settled in urban centers in the Midwest and Northeast. Detroit, for example, counted some 6,000 black residents in 1910, but more than 130,000 in 1930.

    • We and the Uighurs

      In the United States, there is great concern for the plight of the Uighurs. It was well described in an editorial that appeared in the New York Times on Dec. 1. It was titled: “Who Will Speak Up for the Uighurs?” The editorial writer described the “urgent need to address at the highest levels of the American government what have been described as China’s worst human rights abuses in decades.” The need for the editorial seems obvious.

      The Uighurs, and members of other Muslim minority groups are being held in China’s far northwestern Xinjiang region, in what are described by outside observers as beyond deplorable conditions. The number of Uighurs detained may be in excess of one million and the inhabitants of the camps are reportedly subject to torture, and food deprivation. There have reportedly been countless deaths resulting from the treatment of the Uighurs by the Chinese authorities.

      It comes as no surprise to learn that the Chinese do not have the same perception of life in the camps as outside observers, former inhabitants of the camps and the editorial board of the Times.

      Explaining the treatment of the Uighurs, the Chinese say it is necessary to crackdown on them to “combat extremism and terrorism on its western frontier. Mimicking Trump, who says the same things about immigrants in the United States on its southern border, the Chinese say, “many of those detained are common criminals.”

      The Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups detained in the camps represent the largest number of Chinese citizens detained since the days of the Cultural Revolution. According to the Chinese government, their detention is needed in order to crackdown on religious extremism. Thanks to reporting from a Chinese government spokesman, we have learned that the camps are not nearly as bad as the editorial writers of the Times and others would have us believe.

    • The Dead End of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”

      “La lucha obrera no tiene frontera.” “The working class struggle has no borders.”

      That’s a chant you’ll often hear on an immigrant rights protest. But for too long, this sentiment has been absent from the mainstream debate around immigration.

      That’s because the movement for immigrant justice and equality has been damaged politically for over a decade by its support for the pro-corporate framework known as “comprehensive immigration reform” (CIR).

      Comprehensive immigration reform takes as its starting point the need to offer enhanced border security and enforcement against “bad” immigrants as the precondition for winning some sort of limited relief for “good” immigrants who are willing to pay the price and atone for being “illegal” in the first place. (Most versions of CIR also include “guest worker” provisions to ensure a continued supply of cheap immigrant labor, though this aspect is often downplayed by advocates.)

      [...]

      As Justin Akers Chacón documents in his book No One is Illegal, this criminalization led to a drop in pay for undocumented workers, who had previously made similar wages to their US-born counterparts. IRCA thus became a major milestone in the creation of a pool of hyper-exploited undocumented labor.

      Since then, the government has only gained more tools to control and repress immigrants. In the 1990s Bill Clinton combined vague promises of relief to the undocumented population with harsh anti-immigrant legislation that increased border security, expanded the grounds for deporting immigrants with legal status and cut noncitizens off of many federal benefits.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Rapper Sues Video Game Maker Over Fortnite Dance Move

      Fortnite is free to download and play, but gamers can spend real money to purchase costumes and other virtual additions to their digital avatars. And they do: Fornite has made Epic Games more than $1 billion dollars. Those add-ons include dance moves (known as “emotes”) like Swipe It, which was added to the game in July.

      “They took my craft and they sold that,” 2 Milly told TMZ, adding that he wasn’t familiar with Fortnite before hearing rumors his dance appeared in the game. “Whatever they made off the specific emote, Swipe It, that’s what I want.”

      The lawsuit asks the court to prevent Epic Games from continuing to display that dance in Fortnite, and for 2 Milly to be compensated financially for its use.

    • Rapper sues Epic Games over “unauthorized” Fortnite dance use

      The Milly Rock dance move traces its roots back to 2014, when it was popularized in a video for a song of the same name that currently has over 18 million YouTube views. The extremely similar “Swipe It” emote in Fortnite is currently sold for 500 V-Bucks (about $5) or as part of a Season 5 Battle Pass for 950 V-Bucks (About $9.50).

      “Epic uses the Milly Rock, and other dances, to create the false impression that Epic started these dances and crazes or that the artist who created them is endorsing the game,” the lawsuit argues. “Indeed, players have posted thousands of videos of themselves performing the ‘Swipe It’ emote with the hashtag, #fortnitedance, without referencing the Milly Rock or crediting Ferguson as the dance’s creator and owner.”

    • 285, Claim Construction and Lessons from Fee Awards [Ed: David Hricik on the situation where patent aggressors need to compensate their victims]

      The accused infringer, rather than seeking fees caused by judge shopping, sought all of its fees incurred early in the case, before consolidation, rather than those that were the extra fees caused by the judge shopping: $590,000. It got nothing, but from the court’s order had it segregated out the fees reasonably, it might have received around $59,000.

      It is hard to tell whether the billing records were insufficiently clear to allow for this, or that the strategy was to seeking it all without recognizing the need to show causation of additional fees. Either way, there are good lessons to learn both during litigation (write good work records as they may be used for, or against, you) and in seeking fees, be reasonable.

      With respect to the fees after Markman, the accused infringer sought all of the fees from the date of the Markman ruling onward: “every single item” as the court noted. The court again applied a reasonableness standard and looked to causation. It first reasoned that it was absurd to suppose the lawyer instantly could have determined the court’s order rendered further prosecution unreasonable, consulted with its client, and dismiss the case. The court reasoned that about six weeks was enough time for the patentee’s lawyers to have done that work, so immediately lopped off fees for that time period. Then, because work records showed duplicative work, the court lopped off an additional 10% as a rough cut. The first step took the amount sought from $430,000 to $340,000, and then down to $310,000.

      [...]

      Finally, the accused infringer sought $157,000 for seeking fees (i.e., for preparing and filing the 285 motion. The accused infringer had made five arguments to support an award, and the court found 2 meritorious (above), and so lopped of 3/5 of the amount sought, taking it to $94,000. Then, exasperated, the court stated it could not understand how it took nearly 300 hours to prepare the motion when the accused infringer had not, as noted above, gone through the billing to show which were actually caused by the misconduct. It awarded $6800.

    • More on Fee Awards and Competent Billing and Motion Practice

      Of course, there are reasons at time not to be very explicit: once, for example, I was involved in a case where the opposing lawyers were required to submit their fee statements monthly in a related bankruptcy case. We monitored that, and as a result we were able to see what issues opposing counsel were examining in almost real-time. But, the rise of Section 285 fee shifting is good reason to make clear and precise time entries a habit.

    • POP! – Precedential Opinion Panel takes on Late-Joinder Attempt

      In September 2018, the USPTO rewrote several Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Revised SOP2 creates the Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) to be convened to rehear issues of “exceptional importance” as well as for re-designating prior opinions as precedential, when deemed appropriate. According to SOP2, the Precedential Opinion Panel will “typically” include the PTO Director, Commissioner for Patents, and the PTAB Chief Judge.

    • Standing to Appeal IPR Judgments: When does a Statute Create Injury-in-Fact?

      In 2016, JTEKT (Toyota) an inter partes review (IPR) petition challenging GKN’s Patent No. 8,215,440 (2wd/4wd dual drive-train). During the IPR, GKN disclaimed the broadest claims, and the PTO confirmed validity of the remaining claims. Here, the key difference from the prior art was a negative limitation – that the system coupling is “without a differential gearing.” Wanting to also cancel those claims, JTEKT appealed. Although JTEKT and GKN are competitors, JTEKT has not yet developed a competing product — arguing (without real evidence) that the ‘440 patent was a roadblock to its development project.

      [...]

      The question here is substantially the same as the petition found in the pending case of RPX Corp. v. ChanBond LLC (17-1686) (awaiting input from the Solicitor General). There is a good chance that briefing in JTEKT will be complete before the Solicitor submits the government brief in RPX. JTEKT would be a good companion case to RPX because it presents the added element of competitor challenge.

    • Pharmaceutical and Technology Industry Innovation Growth at Stake in Helsinn Healthcare v. Teva

      Today’s oral arguments in Supreme Court case Helsinn Healthcare v. Teva illustrate the power that a successful appeal could have to change a longstanding doctrine and significantly impact how businesses handle intellectual property transactions. The issue at hand is whether secret sales will still be considered prior art despite their potential to invalidate claims.

      In concrete terms, this could have a large impact on several industries. In the pharmaceutical industry, companies often identify potential drug candidates but may choose not to further develop every candidate because of the time or money required. Similarly, in the software and high technology fields, employees often develop inventions that may be highly innovative, but peripheral to the core business of the employer.

      But because the time between identifying a potential invention and bringing a product to market may be long, it is risky to purchase early-stage drug candidates or software concepts since this triggers the start of the patent clock. The first round of patents could expire before marketing is possible, reducing potential profits. A change in law could result in more transactions involving early-stage innovations.

    • Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Helsinn v. Teva

      The Court heard oral argument in this case on Tuesday. It is impossible to know, and even more foolhardy to guess, what the members of the Court are thinking from their questions during oral argument, but that cannot stop an attempted analysis of the aspects of the issues before them that naturally arises when reviewing an oral argument transcript.

      Kannon K. Shanmugam argued for Petitioner Helsinn; William M. Jay argued for Respondent Teva; and Malcolm L. Stewart, Deputy Solicitor General, argued for the Government. The Chief Justice posed the first question to Mr. Shanmugam, noting that Helsinn’s interpretation of the word “sale” in the statute (to mean sales to the general public) is not necessarily consistent with the plain meaning of the word (Mr. Shanmugam attempted to distinguish on the basis of their being a linguistic difference between “sale” and the statutory language “on sale”). New Justice Kavanaugh jumped on Mr. Shanmugam’s hypothetical (regarding a purported private sale of Mr. Shanmugam’s overcoat to Mr. Jay), disputing why that wouldn’t be a sale (“it’s pretty hard to say something that has been sold was not on sale”). Justice Breyer, referring to Helsinn’s argument in the brief, questioned whether Helsinn’s contentions that its position was supported by the Court’s precedents (“we only have Justice Story, Learned Hand, and I guess various others, maybe John Marshall for all I know”, which in vacuo seem pretty solid), and opined that “the purpose of this on-sale rule including private sales is to prevent people from benefiting from their invention prior to and beyond the 20 years that they’re allowed.” Mr. Shanmugam countered that “the predominant purpose of the on-sale bar was preserving the public’s access to inventions that have entered the public domain.” Justice Kavanaugh mentioned “commercial exploitation” as another aspect of the bar, and Justice Breyer interjected that such sales (like the one here) can be secret sales. Mr. Shanmugam, attempting to provide clarification to Justice Ginsberg, said that Congress intended to “clarify” the scope of what would be considered to be “on sale” with, inter alia, the catchall phrase “or otherwise available to the public,” which Justice Kavanaugh opined was “a terrible clarification,” stating that there were many efforts during debate over the AIA to “actually change the ‘on sale language, and all those failed.” Mr. Shanmugam countered by suggesting that the way Congress had revised the statute was appropriate to its purpose, which included “abrogating some of the outlying lower court decisions that had extended both the on-sale bar and the public use bar to cases where there was not public availability.” Mr. Shanmugam responded directly to Justice Kavanaugh’s citation of an amicus brief by Mark Lemley (and other legal academics) that the on-sale bar always included secret sales, a statement challenged by Justice Breyer based on the Court’s citation in its Bonito Boats case of Learned Hand’s dichotomy that a patentee “has to go ahead and patent [her invention] or keep it a secret forever.” To Justice Breyer’s accompanying hypothetical of an inventor selling her invention to multiple parties under confidentiality agreements, Mr. Shanmugam says his “submission is a much more modest one,” to “correct the Federal Circuit’s error, which is to say that public availability is not required.”

    • News from Abroad: Canada’s New Patent Rules — Twelve Notable Changes and Tips

      On December 1, 2018, the Canadian government released its proposed new Patent Rules in the Canada Gazette, Part I. This is one of the last steps necessary for implementing significant changes to Canada’s patent law, which are expected to come into force in 2019.

      There will be many changes to Canadian patent law and practice. In this article, we discuss the most notable changes expected, and some tips for safe and effective practice under the new rules.

    • Nasdaq ISE Files Motion to Disqualify Fish & Richardson at PTAB Over Prior Representation

      On October 11th, electronic options exchange provider Nasdaq ISE, a subsidiary of the Nasdaq stock market entity, filed a motion to disqualify counsel representing trading service provider Miami International Holdings, Inc. (MIAX), in a covered business method (CBM) review proceeding being conducted at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Nasdaq ISE argued that counsel from Fish & Richardson representing MIAX should be disqualified because Fish & Richardson formerly represented Nasdaq in intellectual property matters for 13 years and the firm is now representing an adverse party in a substantially related matter.

      Between 1998 and 2011, Fish & Richardson prosecuted patents on behalf of Nasdaq related to inventions in electronic trading technology and was provided with information regarding Nasdaq’s strategic approach to IP. After Nasdaq and its subsidiaries filed a patent infringement suit in 2017 against MIAX, in which Nasdaq asserted four patents prosecuted by Fish & Richardson, MIAX hired both Fish & Richardson as well as Reed Smith LLP as defense counsel. Although Fish & Richardson made claims that it wouldn’t participate in the portion of the suit involving the Nasdaq patents it helped to prosecute, Nasdaq successfully moved to disqualify Fish & Richardson in the district court proceeding after a magistrate judge held that MIAX’s defense was a collaborative effort and that Nasdaq and MIAX’s interests were materially adverse.

    • CAFC Overturns Preliminary Injunction on Generic Suboxone Film Over Newman Dissent

      On Tuesday, November 20th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a nonprecedential decision in Indivior Inc. v. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, S.A., which vacated a preliminary injunction handed out by the District of New Jersey in a Hatch-Waxman patent infringement case brought by British pharmaceutical firm Indivior. The majority panel of Circuit Judges Alan Lourie and Kara Stoll found that the district court erred in the interpretation of the scope of patent claims asserted by Indivior. Circuit Judge Pauline Newman authored a dissenting opinion in which she explained she would have found the district court’s preliminary injunction grant sustained on appeal.

    • Personal Jurisdiction is Not Established by Prior Lawsuit or Sending Infringement Notice Letters

      Wok & Pan, Ind., Inc. (“Wok”) competes with Maxchief in the plastic folding table industry. Wok, also headquartered in China, is the owner of four patents directed to folding tables. In February 2015, Wok filed suit in the Central District of California against Staples alleging infringement of its patents by selling tables manufactured by Maxchief. Staples, in turn, requested indemnity by Meco, and Meco requested indemnity by Maxchief.

    • Reasonable Royalty Cannot Include Activities That Do Not Constitute Patent Infringement

      The Federal Circuit vacated a $4 million damages award to Seoul Semiconductor Co. (“Seoul”), holding that the district court erred when it denied Enplas Display Device Corp.’s (“Enplas”) motion for judgment as a matter of law that the damages award was not supported by substantial evidence. See Enplas Display Device Corp. v. Seoul Semiconductor Co., No. 2016-2599, 2018 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 19, 2018) (Before Newman, Hughes, and Stoll, J.) (Opinion for the court, Stoll, J.) (Concurrence-in-part and Dissent-in-part, Newman, J.).

    • To Shift or Not to Shift: Burden Shifting Framework and the PTAB

      Looking at Magnum Oil and Dupont v. Synvina, in the IPR that led to Magnum Oil, the Board shifted the burden of producing proof of patentability to the patentee when it should not have done so. Conversely, in the IPR that led to Dupont v. Synvina, the Board failed to shift the burden when it should have done so. It is noteworthy that in each case, the Board was following what it believed was the Federal Circuit precedent. This article sheds light on the issues underlying the confusion over burden shifting in Magnum Oil and Dupont v. Synvina. Magnum Oil is considered first.

    • IP Australia launches guide for digital businesses

      IP Australia has unveiled a guide for start-ups to help them understand intellectual property in the digital age.
      Dubbed IP for Digital Business, the guide is aimed at helping entrepreneurs avoid the pitfalls of starting a company, including copyright, ownership, licenses and infringement.
      The guide has five categories which cover protecting concepts and solutions, turning ideas into reality, avoiding pitfalls when going to market, keeping IP secure and going international.

    • Abbott faces suit from FlexStent over stent patent

      FlexStent alleged in a lawsuit this week that Abbott infringes a vascular stent patent with its Xience line of drug-eluting devices.

      The suit, filed Nov. 26 in the U.S. District Court for Central California, accused Abbott’s Xience stents of infringing on U.S. Patent 6,187,035. The Xience devices infringe Claim 1 of the ‘035 patent, which specifies a stent with specific width and thickness ranges for its vertical and horizontal branches.

      The FlexStent patent calls for vertical branches with thicknesses between 0.09mm and 0.12mm, horizontal branch thickness of 0.05mm to 0.09mm and branch thickness ranging from 0.08mm to 0.12mm. The Xience device cited in the lawsuit has vertical branches of 0.09906mm to 0.1016mm, horizontal branch width of 0.0762mm and thickness 0.08128mm – all within the range specified in the FlexStent patent, according to the lawsuit.

    • IP Disputes Among Private Business Co-Owners Dominate Three Recent Cases

      Last month gave us three noteworthy post-trial decisions in three different cases from three different states, all centering on disputes among business co-owners over the ownership and exploitation of the businesses’s core intellectual property. While each case stems from a unique set of facts, they all have in common failures to allocate IP ownership by means of clear contractual undertakings ex ante and/or failures to exercise due diligence at inception or during the life of the business.

    • Qualcomm fears being required to renegotiate patent license agreements with Samsung, many others

      This is the first post, and probably not the last, in which I’ll discuss some interesting information I found in the Federal Trade Commission’s and Qualcomm’s proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law with a view to next month’s San Jose trial. Qualcomm’s filing is more than twice as long (157 pages) as the FTC’s submission (71 pages), but Judge Lucy H. Koh will decide strictly based on the law and the facts, so this antitrust case is not going to turn into a battle of matériel. The litigation departments of government agencies are outnumbered by private-sector litigants’ armies of lawyers all the time, but quite often they prevail nevertheless.

    • Netherlands: Tomra v. Kiremko, District Court of Midden-Nederland

      The Court confirmed that a District court, not specialised in patent matters, does have relative jurisdiction to decide a motion to produce exhibits for determining patent infringement. In order to positively decide a motion to produce exhibits, (threat of) infringement should be made plausible, but the threshold for plausibility is relatively low. F

Links 8/12/2018: Mesa 18.3.0, Mageia 7 Beta, WordPress 5.0

Saturday 8th of December 2018 09:09:32 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Server
    • IBM selling Lotus Notes/Domino business to HCL for $1.8B
    • IBM Sells Off Notes & Other Software You Barely Remember, for $1.8B – Light Reading
    • Red Hat fiddles with OpenShift Dedicated and lures customers with price cuts

      The team at Red Hat has continued its toiling in the Big Blue shadow of IBM, and has churned out some tweaks to its OpenShift Dedicated platform and also sliced a few prices for the Kubernetes service.

    • Simplifies Kubernetes on AWS, Cuts Prices

      Red Hat is simplifying deployments of its OpenShift managed Kubernetes service on Amazon Web Services, as well as cutting prices and rolling out other upgrades.

      OpenShift is Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT)’s platform for managing and running containerized Kubernetes applications; it runs on the customer premises or on any of 300 cloud and service provider partners, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM and Alibaba.

    • Kubernetes: Your Next Application Server

      In the Java ecosystem, we have historically been enamored with the concept of the “application server,” the runtime engine that not only gave us portable APIs such as JMS, JAX-RS, JSF, and EJB but also gave us critical runtime infrastructure for things such as farm deployments, configuration, load-balancing, failover, distributed management, and monitoring.

    • Lufthansa Technik builds digital foundation with Red Hat

      Lufthansa Technik, the world’s largest independent provider of airline maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, sought to create a digital platform for the aviation industry, AVIATAR. To support its development and operation, the company created a hybrid cloud infrastructure based on enterprise open source software from Red Hat. The AVIATAR team can now use agile DevOps approaches, automation, internal and third-party integration, and self-service capabilities to quickly iterate based on data and feedback. As a result, Lufthansa Technik provides an innovative digital platform that helps the world’s airlines optimise their operations.

    • Red Hat, Google: Open Source Collaboration
  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Networking Performance To Improve Thanks To Retpoline Overhead Reduction

      One of the areas where Linux performance has been lower this year since Spectre came to light has been for networking performance, but with the upcoming Linux 4.21 cycle that will be partially addressed.

      Linux networking performance took a hit from the introduction of Retpolines “Return Trampolines” at the start of the year for addressing Spectre Variant Two.

    • Linux Foundation
      • A new ACT for open source compliance from The Linux Foundation

        What’s new in the world of open source? The Linux Foundation announced that they are launching a new tooling project for improving open source compliance. This new project’s goal is to ensure that when using open source projects, users understand what they are complying with.

        The Linux Foundation continues to be a leading beacon in the FOSS world, with worldwide events and over one million professionals enrolled in their free training courses. Just some of the successful projects that the Linux Foundation hosts include Rook, Node.js, Kubernetes, and Linkerd (which just got a fancy new UI makeover). You don’t have to look far to see names and noteworthy tools that you’re familiar with!

      • The Linux Foundation forms new Automated Compliance Tooling project

        “There are numerous open source compliance tooling projects but the majority are unfunded and have limited scope to build out robust usability or advanced features,” said Kate Stewart, senior director of strategic programs at The Linux Foundation. “We have also heard from many organizations that the tools that do exist do not meet their current needs. Forming a neutral body under The Linux Foundation to work on these issues will allow us to increase funding and support for the compliance tooling development community.”

        As part of the announcement, ACT is also welcoming two new projects that will be hosted at the Linux Foundation: OpenChain, a project that identifies key recommended processes for open-source management; and the Open Compliance Project, which will educate and help developers and companies better understand license requirements.

    • Graphics Stack
      • mesa 18.3.0

        Mesa 18.3.0 is now available.

        This release consists of approximately 1700 commits from 120 developers.

        Huge thanks to all the developers, testers and users for their ongoing work and support shaping up the 18.3.0 release.

      • Mesa 18.3 Released With Intel & Radeon Vulkan Driver Improvements, New GPU Support

        Mesa 18.3 is now available as the latest quarterly feature update to these open-source OpenGL and Vulkan graphics drivers for Linux.

        The Mesa 18.3 features are aplenty and on the AMD side range from Raven 2, Picasso, and Vega 20 support through RADV Vulkan transform feedback, faster RadeonSI fast color clears, OpenGL 4.5 compatibility profile support, and many RADV Vulkan additions. The Intel stack meanwhile picked up new PCI IDs, various Vulkan driver extensions, and more.

      • Mesa 18.3.0 for those of you using the open source drivers

        For those of you using Intel and AMD (and some older NVIDIA cards) Mesa 18.3.0 was officially released today.

        It has been three months since the last major release, so as expected this new and improved version comes with all the latest bells and whistles.

      • NVIDIA 415.22 Linux Driver Adds Mainline Support For Vulkan Transform Feedback

        NVIDIA has released an updated stable 415 series Linux driver today. While normally their stable driver updates aren’t too exciting compared to the beta development releases, this update is notable for adding VK_EXT_transform_feedback.

      • NVIDIA driver 415.22 is out for Linux, finally adding Transform Feedback support

        Finally, after waiting for a few months NVIDIA has released a new mainline driver which includes Transform Feedback support. Previously, you had to use their special Vulkan beta driver to get it.

        The “VK_EXT_transform_feedback” extension is one that was made especially for helping support translation layers from other 3D APIs. In our case, it helps DXVK plus Wine (and so Valve’s Steam Play) with certain Windows games when run on Linux.

      • Cedrus Video Decode Driver Moving Along With Allwinner H5/A64 Support

        With the Linux 4.20 kernel the Cedrus VPU decoder driver was mainlined that was developed this year over at Bootlin for providing open-source accelerated video support for Allwinner SoCs. That driver continues to be ramped up to increase its usefulness.

      • Intel GVT Might Introduce Coffeelake Support In Linux 4.22

        While Coffeelake processors have been available for a year now, Intel initially didn’t intend to support their open-source Graphics Virtualization Technology (GVT) with these chips but now are in the process of bringing up such support.

        This feature request has been tracking the Coffeelake GVT-g support request the past year. Initially they didn’t intend to support Coffeelake nor Cannonlake but were focusing resources on Icelake and maintaining the existing Skylake/Kabylake support for this tech that allows KVM/Xen virtual machines to access the Intel HD/UHD Graphics hardware.

      • AMD Adding New Vega 10 & Vega 20 IDs To Their Linux Driver

        While we are looking forward to AMD’s next-gen Navi architecture in 2019, it looks like the Vega family may be getting bigger soon.

        Hot off finishing up the Radeon RX 590 Linux support as their new Polaris refresh, it looks like another Vega 20 part may be in the pipeline as well as multiple new Vega 10 SKUs.

        Friday afternoon patches to the company’s RadeonSI Mesa and AMDKFD/AMDGPU kernel drivers reveal some new PCI IDs. On top of the five “Vega 20″ PCI IDs already part of the Linux driver, a 0x66A4 ID is being added. So far AMD has just announced the Radeon Instinct MI50 and MI60 accelerators as being built off Vega 20 with no consumer parts at this time. As with most new product generations, it doesn’t necessarily mean AMD will be launching 5~6 Vega 20 products, but sometimes PCI IDs are reserved for pre-production hardware, the possibility of expanding the product line in the future, etc.

    • Benchmarks
      • AMD Radeon RX 590 Linux Benchmarks, 18-Way NVIDIA/AMD Gaming Comparison

        With the very newest AMDGPU Linux kernel patches, the Radeon RX 590 is now working correctly on Linux. Here’s a look at how this latest Polaris graphics card is performing for Linux games against seventeen other AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards in a variety of OpenGL and Vulkan benchmarks.

        AMD launched the Radeon RX 590 in mid-November as a Polaris shrink down to 12nm and featuring 36 compute units, a base frequency up to 1469MHz and boost up to 1545MHz, 2304 Stream processors, 8GB of GDDR5 video memory, and is rated for up to 7.1 TFLOPs of performance potential.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Best New Linux Desktop Environments

      Most Linux users have their own desktop environment preference. For example, I enjoy using MATE, where other users I talk with get a lot of value out of XFCE, GNOME or KDE. Yet it surprised me when I asked my Linux using friends what they thought of some of the “newer” Linux desktop environments.

      About half of these Linux users have never tried any desktop environment outside of the ones mentioned above. Because of this, I thought it would be interesting to compare the best new Linux desktop environments making a name for themselves.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • AMI joins the LVFS

        American Megatrends Inc. may not be a company you’ve heard of, unless perhaps you like reading early-boot BIOS messages. AMI is the world’s largest BIOS firmware vendor, supplying firmware and tools to customers such as Asus, Clevo, Intel, AMD and many others. If you’ve heard of a vendor using Aptio for firmware updates, that means it’s from them. AMI has been testing the LVFS, UpdateCapsule and fwupd for a few months and is now fully compatible. They are updating their whitepapers for customers explaining the process of generating a capsule, using the ESRT, and generating deliverables for the LVFS.

      • AMI Is The Latest Vendor Joining The Linux Vendor Firmware Service

        The Linux Vendor Firmware Service has scored a major win in the trek of easily updating of BIOS/firmware images from Linux… BIOS/firmware vendor AMI has joined the LVFS!

        Red Hat’s Richard Hughes shared today that AMI has joined the LVFS. AMI has been vetting LVFS, UpdateCapsule, and Fwupd for months now and are offering compatibility for updating their firmware using this open-source tech and providing guidance to their many customers on how to deploy firmware updates on this platform.

  • Distributions
    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • Mageia 7 Beta Finally Rolls Along For Testing

        It’s been a year and a half since the release of Mageia 6 while finally the Mageia 7 beta images have surfaced.

        The Mageia 7 Beta is shipping with the KDE Plasma 5.14 desktop environment, is running on the fresh Linux 4.19 kernel, provides the Mesa 18.3 3D drivers, and has a wealth of package updates compared to the state shipped by Mageia 6. Mageia 7 also offers reworked ARM support (including initial AArch64 enablement), DNF as an alternative to URPMI, and a variety of other updates. The in-progress release notes cover some of the other Mageia 7 changes.

      • Announcing Mageia 7 Beta 1

        Everyone at Mageia is very happy to get the first step towards Mageia 7 released! Mageia 7 beta 1 comes with lots of exciting changes and updates, and while a beta with lots of development work, it has been a nice release for a beta, not needing too many rounds of building to get workable images.

        There is still a lot of work to come before Mageia 7 is ready, a big Qt and Plasma update, fixes for MATE and more checks on 32-bit hardware as well as the artwork for Mageia 7. We are all looking forward to implementing these changes and getting all of the rough edges polished out with all of the help from the community.

        This release will see the return of the Classical Installer as well as the Live Images, with the standard lineup of architectures and Desktop Environments – 32 and 64-bit Classical Installers; 64-bit Plasma, GNOME and Xfce Live DVD’s and a 32 bit Xfce Live DVD.

      • Mageia 7 Beta 1 Run Through

        In this video, we look at Mageia 7 Beta 1. Our first glimps of Mageia 7 and it looks great! Enjoy!

      • The December 2018 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the December 2018 issue. With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community.

    • Fedora
      • PHP version 5.6.39, 7.0.33, 7.1.24 and 7.2.12

        RPM of PHP version 7.2.13 are available in remi repository for Fedora 28-29 and in remi-php72 repository for Fedora 26-27 and Enterprise Linux ≥ 6 (RHEL, CentOS).

        RPM of PHP version 7.1.25 are available in remi repository for Fedora 26-27 and in remi-php71 repository for Enterprise Linux (RHEL, CentOS).

        RPM of PHP version 7.0.33 are available in remi-php70 repository for Enterprise Linux (RHEL, CentOS).

        RPM of PHP version 5.6.39 are available in remi-php56 repository for Enterprise Linux.

        emblem-important-2-24.png

      • PHPUnit 7.5
      • FPgM report: 2018-49
      • Fedora rawhide – fixed bugs 2018/11
    • Debian Family
      • Demo of displaying labtainers labs in a Web browser through Guacamole

        Here’s a first report on trying to add Guacamole to Labtainers in order to allow running Labtainers in a headless way, without an X display, in containers, and accessing the GUI in a Web browser, through the use of VNC and Guacamole.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-6 Now Rolling Out to Ubuntu Phone Users, Here’s What’s New

            Ubuntu Touch OTA-6 is now rolling out to Fairphone 2, Nexus 5, OnePlus One, BQ Aquaris M10 FHD, Nexus 4, Meizu PRO 5, Meizu MX 4, BQ Aquaris E4.5, and BQ Aquaris E5 HD devices as an incremental update to the OTA-5 version released two months ago, which rebased Ubuntu Touch on the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system series.

            “Ubuntu Touch is the privacy and freedom respecting mobile operating system by UBports. Our newest update, OTA-6, is rolling out over the next five days (completing on Wednesday, December 12). You can skip to “How to get OTA-6″ to get it now if you’re impatient, or read on to learn more about this release,” said UBports in today’s announcement.

          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-6 Officially Released
          • Oneplus One improvements
          • Need a Linux Distro for Deep Learning Applications? Try Ubuntu

            If your target market is finance, healthcare, or manufacturing, you know AI, ML, and DL solutions in demand for use cases ranging from fraud detection and cancer screenings to industrial automation. There are also interest and backing for applications including language translation, chatbots and service bots, facial recognition, and self-driving cars. A major challenge that the developer has to overcome with these applications, however, is dealing with massive quantities of unstructured data including image, voice, and sound.

            NVIDIA CUDA, which enables general computing on graphical processing units (GPUs), allow developers to increase the speed of their applications. You can use these graphics cards to Ubuntu with traditional PCI slots on motherboards or with external Thunderbolt adapters. In fact, NVIDIA’s DGX Systems for deep learning run on Ubuntu.

            Canonical, which produces Ubuntu with the help of its community, has also worked with Google to develop Kubeflow, which simplifies the process of installing AI tools and framework, as well as making it easier to use GPUs.

            In addition, Ubuntu’s extensive libraries, tutorials and examples related to AI, ML, and DL make it the preferred OS choice for these applications. Ubuntu is also known for the support it offers for the most recent versions of free open source platforms and software.

          • Fresh Snaps from November 2018

            Another month passes and we’ve got a collection of applications which crossed our “desk” (Twitter feed) towards the end of 2018. Take a look down the list, and discover something new today.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Crossplane

    With the release of open-source multi-cloud management interface Crossplane, cloud services developer Upbound wants to provide an open and consistent way to handle integrations with whichever cloud platforms you throw at it.

    “Crossplane presents a declarative management style API that covers a wide range of portable abstractions including databases, message queues, buckets, data pipelines, serverless, clusters, and many more coming,” Upbound CEO Bassam Tabbara wrote in a blog post. “It’s based on the declarative resource model of the popular Kubernetes project, and applies many of the lessons learned in container orchestration to multicloud workload and resource orchestration.”

  • JD.com And Open Source Technology Development

    Currently running the largest Kubernetes cluster in the world, JD.com has demonstrated how companies can use data infrastructures in new and innovative ways. One of the first companies to shift to Kubernetes, Jingdong has since been able to forge partnerships with other companies, including CNCF, to create even stronger relationships with IT developers, users, and software companies. Because of this, open source development has started to become a much bigger aspect of many company’s IT plans.

    Due to its commitment to innovation, Jingdong recently became a platinum end user member of CNCF, meaning the company now has a spot on the governance board. This will now allow Jingdong to have a say in the direction of future Foundation initiatives. As a result, increased efficiency, reduced costs, and higher levels of customer service will be on display in Jingdong and other companies in the years ahead.

    By using Kubernetes clusters, Jingdong and other companies can now support even wider ranges of IT applications, as well as big data and Artificial Intelligence applications. With these expanded technological options, it will now be possible to reduce silos between DevOP teams and operations personnel. By making the process between these teams even more efficient, JD.com has been able to contribute significant code to many important corporate projects, including Prometheus and Vitess.

  • Events
    • You want some SUSE socks? We know you do; SUSE x KubeCon.

      Looking for socks? How about a nice, juicy, SUSE chameleon? If you’re going to KubeCon, you can get them. Stop by the SUSE booth, G17, and we’ll hook you up. After you’ve got yourself some socks and your very own SUSE chameleon, head on over to see Rob De Canha-Knight, EMEA Technical Strategist at SUSE, for his birds of a feather session on diversity and inclusion.

  • Web Browsers
    • Tor Browser: An Ultimate Web Browser for Anonymous Web Browsing in Linux

      Most of us give a considerable time of ours to Internet. The primary Application we require to perform our internet activity is a browser, a web browser to be more perfect. Over Internet most of our’s activity is logged to Server/Client machine which includes IP address, Geographical Location, search/activity trends and a whole lots of Information which can potentially be very harmful, if used intentionally the other way.

  • CMS
    • Welcoming WordPress 5.0 And The New Editor

      The major new version of WordPress scheduled for release today is a big deal, both anticipated and feared by those who rely on the world’s most popular web publishing platform.

      WordPress is used by everyone from solo bloggers and small businesses to major publishers (including Forbes) and marketing organizations. Thomas Griffin has written here about How To Use WordPress As A SaaS Platform, the foundation of your own cloud software business. WordPress has a corporate backer, a private company called Automattic, but also benefits from open source code contributions from developers around the world.

      Part of what makes WordPress popular is that its open source foundation means you can get started with it “for free” and, equally important, you can extend or tweak its functionality to make it serve your needs. Editing the core software code is not a good idea because then it becomes challenging to preserve those changes if you ever upgrade, but most of the core functionality can be modified with plugins and themes, software modules that hook into a fairly well documented set of function calls. That is what makes WordPress a software platform, not merely a software product.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Public Services/Government
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • RISC-V Summit Debuts to Showcase Open Source ISA

        This week there’s further proof that RISC-V has arrived. Something over 1,000 professionals, mostly on the hardware side of tech, are attending the first ever RISC-V Summit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley.

  • Programming/Development
    • The Case for Data-Driven Open Source Development

      Every year the number of Open Source companies and developer communities continues to grow. Open Source is becoming the de facto standard for software development as companies realize the cost, agility and innovation benefits. In addition to embracing Linux, Microsoft recently open sourced its entire patent portfolio to all member of the Open Invention Network. Companies are not only hiring engineers based on their Open Source Software (OSS) knowledge but also allocating 100 percent of their time to external projects. As a result, these projects quality and feature sets improve significantly which further accelerates their adoption in the enterprise. Very successful Open Source projects such as Kubernetes have helped define best practices for contributions (both technical and non-technical), communication (both online and offline), openness (Summits, Special Interest Groups, etc.) and governance (maintainer-ship, Technical Advisory Board, etc.). No need to reinvent the wheel, there are well-established frameworks for companies to work with.

      There is, however, one major problem that needs to be addressed: the lack of standardized metrics, datasets, methodologies and tools for extracting insights from Open Source projects is real.

    • In support of Coraline Ada Ehmke

      Last night, the linux.org DNS was hijacked and redirected to a page that doxed her. Coraline is doing extremely valuable work with the Contributor Covenant code of conduct, which many free software projects have adopted already.

    • Linux.org domain hacked, plastered with trolling, filth and anti-transgender vandalism

      “This evening someone got into my partner’s netsol account and pointed linux.org DNS to their own cloudflare account,” McLagan wrote, adding: “The production env (web / db) wasn’t touched. DNS was simply pointing to another box.”

    • Focusing on the simple things

      Which I guess shows that I could’ve spent the time thinking about an interesting concept on more pragmatic things, like testing the surveil script on another machine.

      Finally, I’m looking for a way to do testing; and I’m wondering of a good way to test that the command-line interface functions as expected as well.

    • Introducing PySide2 (Qt for Python) Snap Runtime

      Lately at Crossbar.io, we have been PySide2 for an internal project. Last week it reached a milestone and I am now in the process of code cleanup and refactoring as we had to rush quite a few things for that deadline. We also create a snap package for the project, our previous approach was to ship the whole PySide2 runtime (170mb+) with the Snap, it worked but was a slow process, because each new snap build involved downloading PySide2 from PyPI and installing some deb dependencies.

    • Quick Tip: SQLAlchemy for MySQL and Pandas

      For years I’ve used the mysql-python library for connecting to mysql databases. It’s worked well for me over the years but there are times when you need speed and/or better connection management that what you get with mysql-python. That’s where SQLAlchemy comes in.

      Before diving into this, if you are doing things that aren’t dependent on speed (e.g., it doesn’t matter if it takes 1 second to connect to the database and grab your data and close the database) then you can easily ignore this tip. That said, if you have multiple connections, that connect time can add up.

      For example, I recently had an issue where it was taking 4.5+ seconds to connect to a database, run analysis and spit out the results. That’s not terrible if its something for you only but if its a production system and speed is a requirement, that might be too long (and it IS too long).

    • Mopidy-MPRIS 2.0 released

      I’ve released Mopidy-MPRIS 2.0, the first major update to Mopidy-MPRIS in about 3.5 years.

      Mopidy-MPRIS is a Mopidy extension that makes Mopidy controllable from other programs on the same machine through D-Bus. This makes it possible to control Mopidy from various widgets in GNOME/KDE/etc, as well as with keyboard media keys.

    • I’m moving to the Red Hat OpenJDK team

      I’m very excited to announce that I’ve moved roles within Red Hat: I am now part of the OpenJDK team!

    • DataExplore – free Python based data plotting and analysis software

      DataExplore is an open source desktop application for data analysis and plotting intended for use in both research and education. It’s targeted at non-programmers who want to perform fairly advanced table manipulation methods. It also offers fast, dynamic plot creation from selected data suitable for publication. A variety of table analysis tools are provided.

      The software seeks to bridge the gap between graphical interface and command driven or programmatic approaches to data analysis. If you find it daunting to use RStudio, DataExplore might be a perfect fit.

      The software is written in Python and is based on the PyData suite of Python libraries. It works with Python 2.7 and <=3.4. It relies on pandas and matplotlib.

      The program allows quick visualization of data, table manipulation tools and supports large data tables. One advantage is the ability to load and work with relatively large tables as compared to spreadsheets. The focus is on data manipulation rather than data entry though cell editing and row/column changes are supported.

    • Automatic continuous development and delivery of a hybrid mobile app

      This makes Node.js an appealing option. Node.js is a JavaScript runtime built on the Chrome V8 JavaScript engine. It can make the API development backend very fast and easy, and it integrates fully with web technologies. You can develop a Cordova plugin, using your Node.js backend, internally in your hybrid app, as I did with the nodejs-cordova-plugin. This plugin, following the Cordova guidelines, integrates a mobile-compatible version of the Node.js platform to provide a full-stack mobile app.

    • Test and Code: 56: Being a Guest on a Podcast – Michael Kennedy
    • Episode #189: War Stories of the Developer Evangelists
    • EuroPython 2019: Venue and location selected
    • Create the about scene for pygame project
    • Seaborn Library for Data Visualization in Python: Part 2
    • Supercell opening new coding school (without teachers or classes)

      Instead, the project has been modelled on pioneering French school École 42. The three-year study program relies on peer-to-peer learning, with students organised into teams and tasked with various projects to demonstrate their skills.

      [...]

      However, the initial applications are only open to those aged between 18 and 30. Given the industry’s ongoing battle against ageism, GamesIndustry.biz has reached out to Supercell to see if this will be expanded in future.

    • Supercell clashes games skill shortage with free new coding school

      Applications for the program opened this month, with the first 100 successful applicants due to start in September 2019. The course takes a total of three years to complete and is inspired by Paris-based nonprofit school Ecole 42.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • It’s Been 50 Years: Take Some Time This Weekend To Watch Doug Engelbart’s Mother Of All Demos

      Normally, on the weekend, we look back at what we wrote about on Techdirt five, ten and fifteen years ago, but I’m going to pre-empt at least a bit of that with this post. Ten years ago, we wrote about the 40th anniversary of the famous and iconic “Mother of All Demos” by Doug Engelbart on December 9th, 1968. A little over five years ago, we wrote about it again, unfortunately on the occasion of Engelbart’s passing.

      But, Sunday will now mark the 50th anniversary of the demo, and there’s a very impressive looking Symposium about it happening at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

      It’s interesting, in Silicon Valley, how much disdain some have for the past. After all, it’s here that we’re always talking about inventing the future. Engelbart’s demo, 50 years ago, was exactly that. Before even the idea of a graphical user interface for a computer, or the concept of a wider internet, was conceived of, Engelbart was literally demoing a ton of ideas, products, concepts and services that we all use regularly today. Even the demo itself (let alone what he was demoing) was somewhat historic, as the demo showed what was happening on his computer on-screen, but part of it was done via teleconferencing and video sharing (again before most people even had the foggiest idea what that could mean). It demonstrated, for the first time, ideas like the computer mouse, a word process, windows, a graphical user interface, computer graphics, hypertext linking, collaborative editing, version control, dynamic linking and more.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Federal Judge Puts Independent Review of Troubled Psychiatric Hospital on Hold

      With Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital set to lose government funding, and children in state care no longer there, judge concludes investigation unnecessary.

    • New Trump Immigration Rule Could Devastate Rural Hospitals

      According to a recent report, the Trump administration’s proposed change to what’s known as the “public charge” immigration rule would endanger $17 billion in Medicaid reimbursements for hospitals across the United States. This could threaten some rural hospitals, which are already facing an epidemic of closures, and leave many communities without a hospital within a 35-mile radius.

      The rule proposed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services would require most immigrants seeking green cards to show that they have a middle-class income: specifically, more than 250 percent of the federal poverty line (about $62,750 for a family of four). Immigrants could also fail the test if they have received government benefits, including Medicaid and Medicare Part D, in the past or if officials feel they are likely to receive them at any point in the future. The test would also penalize use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) and housing assistance programs.

      Researchers at the consulting firm Manatt found the proposed changes could drive disenrollment from Medicaid, even for people who are lawfully in the United States, eligible for coverage, and wouldn’t be subject to the public charge rule, because they fear running afoul of the new requirements. Similar fears are already pushing eligible immigrant families off SNAP, especially those in “mixed status” households that include lawful residents, citizens, and/or undocumented people

    • $3.5 Trillion on Healthcare Each Year and We’re Still Uninsured, Underinsured, and Unhappy

      It’s time for a reality check when it comes to universal healthcare. Usually, that means those with an idealistic vision of equity and justice must give it up in favor a more achievable program. But in this case, the reality of what’s achievable exceeds the low expectations and compromises that have for decades limited the healthcare reform debate.

      Providing this reality check on how we turn from our wasteful healthcare industry to a system of guaranteed healthcare is a new study by the PERI at UMass-Amherst whose lead author is noted labor economist Robert Pollin. Through a comprehensive literature review and rigorous empirical work, the study show the average worker getting a 9% raise, and businesses saving 8% of payroll, as health outcomes improve, costs go lower and the economy benefits.

    • ‘Complete Wiping Away of Clean Water Act’: Trump EPA Rule Would Free Corporations to Pollute Nation’s Water as Much as They Please

      The Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which the Trump administration has long been aiming to roll back, was designed to limit pollution in most of the nation’s large bodies of water in an effort to protect drinking water from contamination.

      The Trump EPA is attempting to reinterpret the WOTUS rule in a way that allows oil giants, real estate developers, and golf course owners to freely pollute rivers and streams. Critics have pointed out that Trump’s businesses may stand to profit from any weakening of the WOTUS rule.

      According to E&E News, which obtained a copy of EPA talking points, the Trump administration’s rule “will erase federal protections from streams that flow only following rainfall, as well as wetlands not physically connected to larger waterways.”

      “The exact number of wetlands and waterways losing federal protections won’t be known until the full, detailed proposal is released,” E&E News reported on Thursday.

      Daniel Estrin, general counsel and advocacy director at Waterkeeper Alliance, argued that the success of the Clean Water Act—while far from complete—has led many to forget how contaminated and visibly polluted the nation’s water supply was before the law.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Old and new OpenSSH backdoors threaten Linux servers [Ed: ESET is spreading/reusing/repurposing FUD against OpenSSH of the OpenBSD project. SSH itself is secure, but because some malicious actors make poisoned binaries with back doors we're supposed to fear; supply chains matter.]

      Nearly five years ago, ESET researchers helped to disrupt a 25 thousand-strong botnet of Linux machines that were saddled with an OpenSSH-based backdoor and credential stealer named Ebury. The attackers wielding it first performed a check if other SSH backdoors are present at the targeted system before deploying the malware.

      This spurred the researchers to search for and analyze these type of (server-side OpenSSH) backdoors.

      “Malicious OpenSSH binaries are quite common and have features that help us detect them among legitimate OpenSSH binaries. While, as soon as we got them, we used the samples collected to improve our detection, we only began sorting and analyzing them in 2018. Surprisingly, we discovered many new backdoor families that had never been documented before,” they noted in a recently released report detailing nine previously documented and 12 new OpenSSH malware families.

    • Researchers uncover 21 Linux malware families
    • Feral Interactive Bringing DiRT 4 to Linux in 2019, Chrome 71 Blocks Ads on Abusive Sites, New Linux Malware Families Discovered, The Linux Foundation Launches the Automated Compliance Tooling Project, and GNU Guix and GuixSD 0.16.0 Released

      Cyber-security company ESET has discovered 21 “new” Linux malware families, and all of them “operate in the same manner, as trojanized versions of the OpenSSH client”. ZDNet reports that “They are developed as second-stage tools to be deployed in more complex ‘botnet’ schemes. Attackers would compromise a Linux system, usually a server, and then replace the legitimate OpenSSH installation with one of the trojanized versions. ESET said that ’18 out of the 21 families featured a credential-stealing feature, making it possible to steal passwords and/or keys’ and ’17 out of the 21 families featured a backdoor mode, allowing the attacker a stealthy and persistent way to connect back to the compromised machine.’”

    • Visibility is the key to prioritizing open source vulnerability remediations [Ed: TechRadar entertains anti-FOSS firm whose sole contribution is FUD because it tries to sell some 'solution'. The author writes about his own firm that also collaborates with Microsoft on this FUD.]
    • SUSE CaaS Platform Updated to Address Kubernetes Vulnerability

      For an open source project of its size (both in terms of code and of prevalence of adoption), Kubernetes has been surprisingly free of security vulnerabilities. Its perfect record has come to an end, though, with the project’s disclosure on December 3, 2018 of a security vulnerability in all previous versions of Kubernetes, and therefore, of SUSE CaaS Platform.

    • Linux Rabbit Attacks IoT Devices to Secretly Mine Monero [Ed: Nothing to do with "Linux". Relies on open ports with weak passwords, unlike Windows, which just has intentional back doors.]

      The global cryptocurrency mining malware trend isn’t coming to an end anytime soon. A newly discovered malware strain specifically targets Linux and IoT devices. This is a different approach as most of these attacks focus on Windows devices. Researchers are concerned this new mining software will only make cryptojacking an even bigger problem. Known as Linux Rabbit, this software kit packs quite the punch.

    • Linux Rabbit and Rabbot Malware Leveraged to Install Cryptominers [Ed: They even called it “Linux Rabbit”; could just call it "WeakPassword Rabbit”]
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Microsoft reckons it’s patriotic to provide AI tech to the US Army
    • Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq

      At the close of the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was denounced as a ferocious villain for ordering his retreating troops to destroy Kuwaiti oil fields, clotting the air with poisonous clouds of black smoke and saturating the ground with swamps of crude. It was justly called an environmental war crime.

      But months of bombing of Iraq by US and British planes and cruise missiles has left behind an even more deadly and insidious legacy: tons of shell casings, bullets and bomb fragments laced with depleted uranium. In all, the US hit Iraqi targets with more than 970 radioactive bombs and missiles.

      It took less than a decade for the health consequences from this radioactive bombing campaign to begin to coming into focus. And they are dire, indeed. Iraqi physicians call it “the white death”-leukemia. Since 1990, the incident rate of leukemia in Iraq has grown by more than 600 percent. The situation is compounded by Iraq’s forced isolations and the sadistic sanctions regime, recently described by UN secretary general Kofi Annan as “a humanitarian crisis”, that makes detection and treatment of the cancers all the more difficult.

      “We have proof of traces of DU in samples taken for analysis and that is really bad for those who assert that cancer cases have grown for other reasons,” said Dr. Umid Mubarak, Iraq’s health minister.

      Mubarak contends that the US’s fear of facing the health and environmental consequences of its DU bombing campaign is partly behind its failure to follow through on its commitments under a deal allowing Iraq to sell some of its vast oil reserves in return for food and medical supplies.

      “The desert dust carries death,” said Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, an oncologist and member England’s Royal Society of Physicians. “Our studies indicate that more than forty percent of the population around Basra will get cancer. We are living through another Hiroshima.”

    • The Mean, Rough Legacy of George H.W. Bush

      The triumphal and counter-factual celebrating of President George H.W. Bush as an “honorable” leader who evoked kindness and “civility” raises a potently crucial question: What does it mean to be civil and kind in person and in word, yet brutal in policy and deed? Despite the gentlemanly veneer, even a cursory recalling of Bush 41’s record shows a legacy of war, criminality, and venality that belies the media’s amnesiac heroizing.

      In the early morning hours of December 20, 1989, less than a year after promising a “kinder, gentler nation” at his inauguration, President George H.W. Bush mobilized 26,000 troops for a pre-Christmas invasion of Panama to oust former CIA contractor Manuel Noriega. Around midnight, the bombs began dropping and flames billowing over Panama City, in a “swift, intense, and merciless” invasion that led to thousands of casualties and deaths, as “millions of American tax dollars were swallowed up in three days of brutal violence,” reported the award-winning documentary, “The Panama Deception.”

      Bush 41’s Panama invasion killed an estimated 500 to 1000 Panamanian people and was roundly condemned by the UN general assembly as a “flagrant violation of international law” and of Panama’s sovereignty. In bombings that ravaged civilians in barrios like El Chorrillo—which U.S. planes “indiscriminately bombed because it was thought to be a bastion of support for Noriega”—about 10,000 people “were left homeless after the invasion,” Panamanian officials estimated.

      As Human Rights Watch reported, Bush 41’s administration “undertook several covert actions designed to remove Noriega before launching an invasion.” This included $10 million worth of CIA meddling in Panama’s elections that year, “to finance opposition activities, including clandestine radio broadcasts, printing, and other election expenses.” (While worry persists over Russia’s influence in Trump’s 2016 win, this intensive—and expensive—U.S. intrusion on foreign elections, shepherded by Bush Sr., merits reminding.)

    • Dave Lindorff on Pentagon Fraud

      This week on CounterSpin: Early this year, Congress approved a budget of some $700 billion for the Department of Defense, more than the Trump administration even requested. Corporate media, for whom proposals like free college tuition or universal healthcare are all about the price tag, didn’t even blink. The Pentagon budget was “a rare act of bipartisanship,” the New York Times told readers, that “sets forth a muscular vision of America as a global power.” That article had three sources—two approving state officials and a rep from a thinktank funded by Defense contractors, who said the US military is underfunded. The Times didn’t find it relevant that the US already spent more on “defense” than the next eight countries combined, six of whom are US allies—and the idea of standing that $700 billion alongside the estimate, of the UN and others, that it would cost just $30 billion per year to end world hunger—well, don’t be silly.

      But if serious people are not supposed to consider Pentagon spending in any sort of context, or conversation about priorities, can we at least ask why it’s not just hard, but impossible, to find out how much the Pentagon spends and on what? Elite media reception of new research in that arena suggests they’d just as soon keep the whole thing under wraps—while reserving their right to entertain complaints about food stamps, however.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian

      Those at The Guardian certainly felt they were onto something. It would be a scoop that would have consequences on a range of fronts featuring President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Julian Assange and the eponymous Russian connection with the 2016 US elections.

      If they could tie the ribbon of Manafort over the Assage package, one linked to the release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails in the summer of 2016, they could strike journalistic gold. At one stroke, they could achieve a trifecta: an exposé on WikiLeaks, Russian involvement, and the tie-in with the Trump campaign.

      The virally charged story, when run towards the leg end of November, claimed that Manafort had visited Assange in the embassy “in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016.” Speculation happily followed in an account untroubled by heavy documentation. “It is unclear why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last apparent meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

      It was a strikingly shoddy effort. An “internal document” supposedly garnered from the Ecuadorean intelligence agency named a certain “Paul Manaford [sic]” as a guest while also noting the presence of “Russians”. No document or individual names were supplied.

      The enterprise was supposedly to come with an added satisfaction: getting one over the prickly Assange, a person with whom the paper has yet a frosty association with since things went pear shaped after Cablegate in 2010. Luke Harding, the lead behind this latest packaging effort, has received his fair share of pasting in the past, with Assange accusing him of “minimal additional research” and mere reiteration in the shabby cobbling The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man (2014). “The Guardian,” Assange observed in reviewing the work, “is a curiously inward-looking beast.” Harding, for his part, is whistling the promotional tune of his unmistakably titled book Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House. The feud persists with much fuel.

      Unfortunately for those coup seekers attempting a framed symmetry, the bomb has yet to detonate, an inert creature finding its ways into placid waters. WikiLeaks was, understandably, the first out of the stables with an irate tweet. “Remember this day when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper’s reputation. @WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange.”

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can leave Ecuador embassy in London

      Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno said on Thursday that “the way has been cleared” for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the country’s embassy in London.

      Assange, 47, has spent the last six years in Ecuador’s embassy to avoid arrest and extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault. Sweden has since dropped the case, and Ecuador says there are no pending extradition requests against him.

    • If Assange Is Prosecuted, The Government Will Gain Precedent To Arrest Any Leaker It Wants

      All of the facts back up the ACLU’s assessment. The documents WikiLeaks has put out are no more illegal to publish than were the Pentagon Papers, the Downing Street Memo, and all the other private documents that news sources have leaked throughout history. This routine journalistic practice is the only “crime” that WikiLeaks has ever committed; there’s no evidence that WikiLeaks worked with Trump and Russia to obtain the DNC emails as part of a grand conspiracy to “influence the election,” any more than there’s evidence that Russia was behind the DNC leak.

      Therefore, if the government can prosecute Assange after he’s likely forced out of the Ecuadorian embassy, we’ll enter a new era of a censored press.

    • Julian Assange: WikiLeaks founder rejects deal allowing him to leave Ecuador embassy in London after six years

      The investigation by the Swedish authorities was later dropped.

      In a local radio interview, Mr Moreno said the sentence for skipping bail would be “not long”. According to the president, the UK has told Ecuador that his jail time would not exceed six months and that he would not face extradition if he left the embassy.

      “I do not like the presence of Mr Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy, but we have been respectful of his human rights and with that respect in mind we think that six years is too long for someone to remain nearly incarcerated in an embassy,” said Mr Moreno.

    • Ecuador’s President: Assange Can Leave the Embassy Whenever He Wants, Report Says – Fortune
    • Letter to the editor: Stand up for Julian Assange

      Please review and listen to this short video appeal in the link below from the mother of a courageous journalist. Please do what you can to bring justice and freedom for Julian Assange. Please make your voice known publicly on this important issue affecting this brave man.

      We cannot claim to be a free and democratic nation if we try to silence truth-tellers while trying to marginalize and torture them into submission. What have we become? Where are the elected officials willing to stand up for Julian Assange and against the tyrannical way in which he is being abused by way of the obvious conspiracy of vengeance conspired in by the U.S. government, the U.K. government, along with the current government of Ecuador, while keeping him trapped and imprisoned in the Ecuadorian embassy for over six years without a charge of any kind?

      Where do you stand on this? Where does your conscience lead you on this issue? Can you allow it to be honest with you? Julian Assange has shown himself to be a man of courage and integrity. A widely respected journalist willing to expose the corruptions of power, of governments, of powerful individuals, and of a cowardly and corroborating corporate media establishment which refuses to lift a finger in his defense. His only crime being that he is a threat to their own expanding criminal conspiracy of lies and manipulation.

    • WikiLeaks Asks Judge to Toss DNC Conspiracy Claims

      “Even the prospect of liability at all, much less RICO treble damages, for publication of truthful information of public interest would have a devastating chilling effect on the press’s exercise of constitutionally protected speech,” WikiLeaks attorney Joshua L. Dratel wrote in a 25-page brief.

      “It would quickly drive independent and less financially secure media organizations – and ultimately even the titans – as well as individual journalists at every level everywhere, from reporting and publishing altogether,” the brief continues. “All that would remain would be a shell of the First Amendment practiced by a cowed and self-censoring media, intimidated by the fear of lawsuits designed to deprive the public of its right to information about powerful public figures and entities.”

      Earlier this year, the DNC filed a federal lawsuit accusing WikiLeaks of conspiring with Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign to act as a “racketeering enterprise” during the 2016 presidential election, implicating 15 people and entities.

    • The Persecution of Julian Assange: WikiLeaks Editor Says Media Is Giving the U.S. Cover to Extradite Him

      Last week, The Guardian published a “bombshell” front-page story asserting, without producing any evidence, that Julian Assange had secretly met the recently convicted former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in 2013, 2015 and 2016. The Guardian’s attack on Assange came only days after it was confirmed that he has been indicted some time ago, under seal, and that the U.S. will seek his extradition from the U.K. The story was published just hours before a hearing brought by media groups trying to stop the U.S. government from keeping its attempts to extradite Assange secret.

      The story went viral, repeated uncritically by many media outlets around the world, including Newsweek. This falsely cast Assange into the center of a conspiracy between Putin and Trump. The Guardian even had the gall to post a call to its readers to donate to protect “independent journalism when factual, trustworthy reporting is under threat.”

      These three meetings with Manafort did not happen.

    • Insider reveals likely players behind the Guardian’s ‘fake’ Assange-Manafort story

      In an extensive interview, a former Ecuadorian diplomat says he assumes that intelligence contractors were a source of the smear which claimed former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

      This follows an exclusive Canary article in which the same diplomat called the Guardian story “fake”, explaining why visits by Manafort could not have taken place. WikiLeaks, the Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald, the Courage Foundation, and others outlets all shared or referenced this article.

    • The trials of Julian Assange

      I was able to visit him on November 19, after 8 months of failed attempts, because last March the Ecuadorian authorities cut off all his social and professional contacts, with the exception of his lawyers, and in the preceding 8 months, I had asked for permission to visit him nine times without success—the Ecuadorian authorities didn’t reply at all to my requests.

      When I was finally granted permission to visit the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last November, I was literally shocked to see the huge impact his isolation has had on his health. Because I have worked as a media partner with him and his organisation, WikiLeaks, for the last nine years, I have met him many times and can tell when there are any changes in his body and mind. I wondered how his mind could keep working; but after talking to him in the embassy for two hours, I have no doubt that his mind is working fine. I still wonder how that’s possible after six and a half years of detention without even one hour of being outdoors. I would have had a physical and mental breakdown after just 6 months, not after 6 years.

    • WikiLeaks seeks dismissal from DNC lawsuit

      Lawyers for WikiLeaks asked a U.S. federal judge late Friday afternoon to dismiss a lawsuit brought on behalf of the Democratic National Committee in response to the anti-secrecy organization’s publication of internal DNC documents during the 2016 presidential race.
      Defense attorneys filed documents in Manhattan federal court seeking dismissal from an expansive lawsuit initiated by the DNC in April, roughly two years after WikiLeaks began publishing leaked DNC emails allegedly sourced by Russian state-sponsored hackers.
      “WikiLeaks’s conduct — publishing truthful information of public concern as a media organization — is protected by the First Amendment,” layer Joshua Dratel wrote in a 33-page motion, calling the lawsuit an “existential threat” to the group’s constitutional right.

    • Ecuador president says there is ‘path’ for Assange to leave London embassy
    • Ecuador president says there is ‘path’ for Assange to leave London embassy
    • VIDEO : Ecuador president says there is ‘path’ for Assange to leave London embassy
    • The column I didn’t want to write about Julian Assange [Ed: Corporate media in Australia admits: “We don’t like Julian Assange. That much is clear.”]
    • Julian Assange, WikiLeaks publisher, rejects deal to leave Ecuador’s London embassy: Lawyer
    • Julian Assange Refuses to Leave Ecuadorian Embassy in London
    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can leave Ecuador embassy in London
    • Ecuador struck a deal with the U.K. to get Assange out of its embassy — but he still won’t go
    • Julian Assange REJECTS ‘deal’ to leave London embassy after Ecuador said Britain had guaranteed not to extradite him to ‘any country where he’d face the death penalty’
    • Conditions met for Julian Assange to leave Ecuador embassy in London: president
    • Assange’s lawyer rejects deal to end stay in Ecuador’s embassy

      President Lenin Moreno earlier said an agreement had been reached with the British government and that the WikiLeaks founder could not be extradited to face the death penalty.

      “The suggestion that as long as the death penalty is off the table, Mr Assange need not fear persecution is obviously wrong,” Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollack told the Telegraph.

      “Since such charges appear to have been brought against Mr Assange in the United States, Ecuador should continue to provide him asylum,” he added.

    • Ecuadorian Ex-Diplomat: Report Claiming Assange Met Manafort Is False

      The Guardian report claiming WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange met with Paul Manafort is fake news, says the former consul in Ecuador’s London embassy, Fidel Narváez. But it is true that Trump’s ex-campaign chairman met with new Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno to discuss handing Assange over to the US.

    • Ecuadorian president hints again at moves to renege on Julian Assange’s asylum

      In a radio interview on December 6, President Lenín Moreno effectively demanded that WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador in its embassy in 2012 because he faces the danger of prosecution in the US in retaliation for WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked information exposing US war crimes, diplomatic conspiracies, intelligence agency spying and political intrigues.
      Hinting at the prospect that he will renege on the protection provided to Assange by his predecessor Rafael Correo, Moreno said: “I do not like the presence of Mr. Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy.”
      Moreno claimed that he had been given a “guarantee” by Britain that Assange would not be extradited if he faced the threat of a death sentence. “The road is clear,” Moreno incredibly declared, “for Mr. Assange to take the decision to leave into near freedom.”

    • Assange rejects Ecuador president’s ‘no death penalty’ deal with UK

      A lawyer for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has rejected Ecuador’s offer for the publisher to leave the London embassy under the guarantee that he won’t face the death penalty, leaving open potential criminal persecution.

      “The suggestion that as long as the death penalty is off the table, Mr. Assange need not fear persecution is obviously wrong,” Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack, told the Telegraph while commenting on the deal with the UK announced by the Ecuador President Lenin Moreno on Thursday.

      [...]

      Moreno however, did not elaborate on how “near” that freedom would be, considering Assange is still sought in the UK on bail violation charges dating back to 2012. The UK authorities reportedly told Ecuador that the maximum sentence for the minor offence will not exceed six months.

      Being spared from capital punishment does not mean that Assange is safe from getting extradited and going on trial in the US for releasing troves of US diplomatic cables – something Pollack is not OK with.

      “No one should have to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information,” the lawyer told the Telegraph.

      Assange exposed some 750,000 of classified military documents provided by whistleblower Chelsea Manning. The documents shed light on the abuse and indiscriminate killings by US soldiers, among other revealing information about US military practices.

      It was recently revealed that Assange has already been charged in the US. The bombshell was found through an unrelated case handled by a US attorney’s office in Virginia. While the reported charges remain sealed, they may include espionage, conspiracy, government property theft and others.

    • WikiLeaks’ Co-Founder Julian Assange Rejects ‘No Death Penalty’
    • Ecuador says ‘yes’ to Assange ‘freedom’ deal, but Julian says ‘nyet’

      Wikileaks alumni Julian Assange has apparently turned down a proposed deal that would have seen him leave the Ecuadorian embassy he has been camped out in for over six years.

      The government-secrets spaffing outfit on Friday confirmed that it would not be taking a deal that Ecuador has struck with the UK that would have given assurance that Assange would not be extradited to a country where he could face the death penalty (read: The US).

      According to Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, the deal between Ecuador and the UK wouldn’t have guaranteed Assange’s freedom outright, but would have given some assurance that professional secrets-dealer would not be at risk of execution should he be arrested and charged. He still faces charges in the UK for jumping bail, and Assange’s camp fears that, once arrested, he will promptly be handed over to the US.

      “The road is clear for Mr Assange to take the decision to leave,” Moreno said in a radio interview.

    • A Doer of Good among Rats and Snakes: The Vindication of Activist and Journalist Randy Credico

      In case you missed it, last week the creator and producer of Empire Files, Abby Martin, released an in-depth interview with Randy Credico, a long-time activist and Julian Assange supporter who has been embroiled in the Mueller investigation ever since Nixon bagman Roger Stone fingered him as a back channel to WikiLeaks.

      Credico has taken a beating from both sides of the political spectrum, with the left blaming him for Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House while the far-right has condemned him for the troubles that seem to be brewing for Trump and their fallen hero, Roger Stone. He’s even received death threats but, as Abby Martin pointed out, Credico has a rich history of political activism and — with the latest information coming out about Stone, Corsi, and others — his full vindication seems imminent.

    • Live Vigil for Assange Friday

      ConsortiumNews will broadcast live a vigil for Julian Assange as the publisher comes under new pressure to be expelled from Ecuador’s London embassy, while charges await him in the United States.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity

      As the nations of the world are gathered in Poland to fret about the state of the climate, there’s an unpleasant truth—one might say an inconvenient truth—that climate advocates have long refused to face: Big Fossil Fuel has beaten us.

      We’ve done our damnedest to stop them from wrecking the climate, but they’re nonetheless pulling carbon from the ground in wondrous quantities. It was once astonishing that in the U.S. alone they could extract 55 quadrillion BTUs worth of oil, gas, and coal each year, as they did from 1970 to 2005. (A new home furnace puts out about 50,000 BTUs.) But 55,000,000,000,000,000 BTUs looks almost quaint now. Big Carbon extracted 60 quadrillion BTUs from U.S. soil in 2011, 70 quadrillion in 2015, and next year it’s expected to be 75 quadrillion. No wonder the 40 billion tons in CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases that our species emitted in 2001 became 45 billion in 2004, 50 billion in 2009, and 55 billion today. Climactivists have mostly preferred to ignore these ugly facts and focus instead on the impressive growth in renewable energy. And it is impressive. But here’s another somewhat inconvenient truth: We’re not using the new renewables to replace fossil fuels. We’re just using them to keep up with new energy demands—demands from our growing population and the newly consumptive lifestyles of once-poor peoples being lifted from their poverty. In short, Big Carbon is a juggernaut that we’ve hardly checked.

      Sure, we’ve won some important skirmishes. We’ve gotten fracking banned in New York, Maryland, and Vermont. We’ve convinced big investors who control more than $7 trillion in assets to divest the $400 billion or so they once held in fossil fuels. Last year when Big Fossil Fuel put Prop 23 on the California ballot to poleaxe the state’s limits on greenhouse gases, we outspent them $30 million to $10 million and won the vote 61 percent to 39 percent. There’s no denying our scrappy militia is growing bit by bit into a guerilla army.

    • Oil Industry Spent Millions to Defeat Carbon Tax in Washington State

      Climate change appeared on the ballot in numerous states during the 2018 midterm elections, an indication of the growing concern among average citizens about the catastrophic effects of fossil fuel burning. But the struggle for regulations on emissions was repeatedly blocked by the money machinery of the oil industry. Record amounts of money were spent trying to derail the efforts of activists and labor unions fighting to save the environment. One such instance was over Initiative 1631 in Washington State where the oil industry spent more than $30 million trying to sabotage the struggle for a better world. In this exclusive Truthout interview, Jeff Johnson — who led the fight for the passing of Initiative 1631 — reflects on the lessons activists nationwide can draw for the future from the climate change struggle in Washington State.

      [...]

      Unions representing 60.2 percent of the 450,000 members of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO supported I-1631 and care passionately about addressing climate change. To a varying degree they understand the existential nature of the crisis we face and understand that working people are disproportionately impacted by climate disaster. Some of our unions, mostly building trades, were opposed to the initiative on the grounds that it would cost their members more money and/or crowd out dollars for investing in transportation projects. While I understand their arguments, I think they are both wrong and short-sighted.

      As more and more jobs, income, property, lives and public resources are lost to climate disasters the understanding that we need to deal with the issue systemically will grow. Unfortunately, it is a moral race that we are currently losing.

    • Ryan Zinke Is Shamefully Promoting Logging in the Wake of California’s Deadly Wildfires

      Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, already facing several federal investigations, has sunk to a new low.

      A prominent figure in Trump’s plan to roll back environmental regulations, he’s using deadly fires in California to push for policies that would pave the way for more logging in U.S. forests.

      But here’s the truth: Logged areas with less stringent environmental protections lead to the most intense and dangerous fires.

    • What a New Governor Means for Renewable Energy in Maine

      Short days and frequent snows can make Maine winters seem gloomy. But for renewable energy companies and supporters, the gloom has persisted for the last eight years under a governor openly hostile to solar and wind energy. With the 2018 election, a pro-environment Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature were swept into power.

      “One of the more frustrating things over the last eight years has been the inability to have a conversation around a shared goal that is based in reality,” said Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association (MREA). He said they’re now looking forward to having “a positive, fact-based discourse around energy policy.”

    • Politicians who deny reality aren’t fit to lead

      When faced with conclusive evidence of a major threat to citizens, a true leader would do everything possible to confront it.

      So, what was the U.S. president’s reaction to a U.S. scientific report compiled by more than 300 scientists and endorsed by a dozen different agencies, including NASA, NOAA and the defence department, that warned climate change poses a dire threat to the American economy, way of life and human health? “I don’t believe it,” Trump told reporters.

      [...]

      The report should be enough to rouse everyone to action, especially those whose job it is to serve the people. It opens with a clear warning: “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.” It goes on to show that if greenhouse gas emissions are not brought under control, the U.S. can expect “growing losses to American infrastructure and property”; hundreds of billions in economic impacts; catastrophic rising sea levels; increasing extreme events such as heavy rains and floods; more wildfires, crop and livestock failures leading to food shortages; continuing ocean acidification; and thousands of deaths.

      It also emphasized the need to reduce emissions immediately: “Because several GHGs, in particular carbon dioxide, reside in the atmosphere for decades or longer, many climate-influenced effects are projected to continue changing through 2050, even if GHG emissions were to stop immediately.”

      Those who stand in the way of protecting people and countless other species from the worst consequences of climate disruption, especially those with the power to do something, are committing crimes against humanity. They aren’t fit to lead.

    • Bayou Bridge Charged $450 for Trespassing and Building Oil Pipeline Without Permission on Louisiana Parcel

      After three landowners filed a legal challenge against Bayou Bridge Pipeline, LLC’s right to build a pipeline on their land — which it did without their permission — the case concluded this week with a very small fine for the company.

      On December 6, Louisiana State Judge Keith Comeaux fined the pipeline company $450 for trespassing during construction before properly obtaining permission. The judge also granted the company the permission it sought to expropriate the land it had already built on.

      The legal challenge came almost a year after construction began on the 163-mile-long Bayou Bridge pipeline, which spans southern Louisiana from Lake Charles, near the Texas border, to St. James, on the banks of the Mississippi River. The controversial pipeline is the tail end of a crude oil pipeline network that will transport Bakken oil from North Dakota to the Gulf Coast, likely for export.

      “The Court should not supplant the well-thought and well-researched opinions of the various agencies that permitted this project,” Judge Comeaux wrote in his ruling, according to The (Baton Rouge) Advocate. “Therefore, the Court finds that the proper permitting has been done, and that the public purpose and necessity has been proven by Bayou Bridge Pipeline, LLC.”

      The ruling stated that each landowner was entitled to $75 for their share of the land in question — which Bayou Bridge argued would only net $1.11 combined if the land was put up for sale since the land was shared by so many others. The judge also awarded each landowner an additional $75 due to the trespassing offense.

    • Winona LaDuke Calls for Indigenous-Led ‘Green New Deal’ as She Fights Minnesota Pipeline Expansion

      While world leaders converge in Poland for the U.N. climate change summit, we look at the indigenous-led fight against destructive oil pipelines and the revolutionary potential of the Green New Deal with Winona LaDuke, Ojibwe environmental leader and executive director of the group Honor the Earth. She lives and works on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.

    • Rich Nations Aren’t ‘Paying Their Fair Share’ to Mitigate the Climate Crisis, Says Report Released at COP24

      Rich countries—and the United States in particular—aren’t “paying their fair share” in terms of taking concrete actions to mitigate the global climate crisis, according to an independent review released at the COP24 talks in Poland, where world leaders are discussing how to meet the aims of the Paris agreement.

      After Paris: Inequality, Fair Shares, and the Climate Emergency (pdf)—produced by an international coalition of social movements, environmental and development organizations, trade unions, and various other groups—declares that “equity is not a moral or academic nicety, but a practical necessity in meeting the Paris goals.”

  • Finance
    • America’s Rigged Tax Collection System

      Charges of rigging fill the air in today’s America. Elections, the economy, college admissions, the list seems endless. Whatever the truth in other cases, our tax collection system is undeniably rigged. It’s been so from the beginning, rigged against the vast majority of workers.

      In 1943, under pressure to pay for World War II, Congress passed a law requiring employers to withhold taxes and report the incomes of their employees. The same law implicitly allows self-reporting by huge numbers of largely high-income taxpayers: landlords, self-employed professionals, small businesses, et al.

      Tax compliance figures for the two groups differ starkly. The latest estimate from the Internal Revenue Service shows 99% compliance by wage and salary earners. Self-reporters, by contrast, are evading scores of billions in taxes year after year.

    • Tribal Justice

      One wonders if a voltafaccia, an about face, after 2008, one in which the looted and not the financial institutions that did the looting were bailed out would have deflated the conditions that has brought us to the doorstep of autocracy.

      One wonders if this response to the collapse would have put the nail in neoliberalism and neoconservatism’s coffin and turned us toward an economics of justice.

      That did not happen. Instead of rejecting our economics, we have collapsed into tribalism, into a moshpit of anger, virulent attack, mutual suspicion, downright hatred that is more difficult to define and locate than the point of contention in the War Between the States.

      Rather than specify our Monopoly game economics as a cause of immiseration, the precariat class blames particular people — Hillary or Obama or Pelosi, Liberals, Democrats, Socialists, the Federal government, the intelligence community, Coastal elites, political correctness, Leftist professors, The New York Times and so on.

      Instead of proceeding to find rational correctives to our economic system after 2008, which clearly showed us that the perfections of an unregulated market were bullshit, we descended into the irrationalities within which the country is drowning.

      Trump did not initiate those irrationalities but they nourished him and he does all he can, either to protect and enhance his ego, or, because like the scorpion it is in his nature, to fuel the tribal world we are now in.

    • HUD Official to Move Into Public Housing?

      The federal housing official responsible for the New York City region says she plans to move into public housing to spotlight inhumane conditions, but if she really wanted to spotlight inhumanity in housing, she’d move big money out of precious city housing stock.

      Longtime Trump aid Lynne Patton told the press recently that she intends to move out of Trump Plaza, where she lives, and into public housing to cast a spotlight on the inhumane conditions in which some city residents live.

    • Judge Calls for Examination of Quality Controls in New York Supported Housing System

      He ordered an independent report to assess the effectiveness of the state’s incident reporting system, got the state to commit to examining its service-coordination program and suggested the state develop a program to help residents learn and practice basic life skills in supported housing.

      Four years ago, in a landmark settlement secured by advocates, Garaufis issued a court order offering more than 4,000 adult home residents in New York City a chance to move. The idea was that many did not need to live in such facilities — which can house hundreds of residents and have a history of abuse and neglect — and could instead thrive in their own apartments with the right support. The order instructed evaluators to presume that all residents would be fit to do so.

      But ProPublica and Frontline found that clinicians evaluating adult home residents for the transition felt censored when they raised concerns about a person’s ability to live alone, and that workers felt pressured to “sell the move,” even to people who they thought were ill-equipped.

    • Unemployment Rate Stays at 3.7 Percent, Wage Growth Picks Up Pace

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the economy added 155,000 jobs in November, with the unemployment rate unchanged at 3.7 percent. With a modest downward revision to the job growth reported for the prior two months, the average over the last three months was 170,000, a clear slowing from the 204,000 average rate over the last year. Both the overall and prime age (ages 25–54) employment-to-population ratios (EPOP) were unchanged in November at their highs for the recovery.

      Within the prime-age population there have been notable differences in employment patterns over the last year. Overall, the EPOP is up by 0.7 percentage points over the year. Monthly data are erratic for subgroups, so taking three-month averages finds the sharpest increase is for men and women between the ages of 25–34, with a rise of 1.0 percentage points for both. The rise for the former group is especially noteworthy since some economists had previously argued they had lost interest in work due to the attractiveness of video games.

    • Wall Street’s Corruption Runs Deeper Than You Can Fathom

      Of the myriad policy decisions that have brought us to our current precipice, from the signing of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the invasion of Iraq and the gerrymandering of House districts across the country, few have proven as consequential as the demise of Glass-Steagall. Signed into law as the U.S.A. Banking Act of 1933, the legislation had been crucial to safeguarding the financial industry in the wake of the Great Depression. But with its repeal in 1999, the barriers separating commercial and investment banking collapsed, creating the preconditions for an economic crisis from whose shadow we have yet to emerge.

      Carmen Segarra might have predicted as much. As an employee at the Federal Reserve in 2011, three years after the dissolution of Lehman brothers, she witnessed the results of this deregulation firsthand. In her new book, “Noncompliant: A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street,” she chronicles the recklessness of institutions like Goldman Sachs and the stunning lengths the United States government went to accommodate them, even as they authored one of the worst crashes in our nation’s history.

    • Why Don’t We Riot Over Wealth Inequality?

      Tell people their gas taxes are going up and they will riot, literally. Tell people that 62 individuals hold the same amount of wealth as the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world’s population and we don’t blink an eye. Okay, maybe we do a hard blink but we certainly don’t riot. Or perhaps gas tax riots are actually severe wealth inequality riots in disguise?

      France has been embroiled in mass and violent protests to proposed diesel and gas tax increases that have forced France’s government to suspend its plans to increase taxes and to also immediately freeze prices on electricity and home heating fuel. The proposed taxes, meant to curb climate change by weaning motorists off petroleum products and to generate funding for renewable energy projects, were received negatively by several sectors of the French population. Their message carried out by the “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) movement resulted in violent protests in Paris and caused four deaths.

      A number of U.S. publications chimed in on the French protests claiming they show a Global Carbon Tax Revolt, claiming that people from Washington to Ontario to France are saying no to taxing carbon. But what they conveniently portray as a revolt on carbon taxes (which happens to match their ideological opposition to climate action) I see as a sign of frustration and impotence over massive wealth inequality.

    • Bernie Sanders: Concentrated Wealth is Concentrated Power

      So what you have here is, first of all, massive income and wealth inequality. And as a nation we have got to think from a moral perspective and an economic perspective whether we think it is appropriate that three people, one, two, three, own more wealth than the bottom half of the American society. You know, that’s really quite outrageous, and it’s appropriate that we take a hard look at that. But it is not just that the one tenth of 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. They don’t put their wealth underneath their mattresses, right. They use that wealth to perpetrate, perpetuate their power. And they do that politically. So you have the Koch brothers and a handful of billionaires who pour hundreds of millions of dollars into elections, because their Supreme Court gutted the campaign finance laws that were in existence, and now allow billionaires quite openly to buy elections.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The Republican Party Has Become ‘a Conspiracy to Seize Power’

      A brute-force power grab by Republicans in Wisconsin highlights the disregard for democracy that has infected the party of Lincoln.

    • What to Know About the Messy Election Fraud Allegations Leveled Against North Carolina Republicans

      How did this all come together? In North Carolina, voters are required to have two witnesses sign their absentee ballots. The law also says that only the voter or a near relative can turn in an absentee ballot.

      But, according to CNN, a set of 161 absentee ballots the news station obtained showed that the same nine people signed at least 10 ballots each. And, according to CNN, several of those nine people appear to be connected.

    • Unusual pattern of signatures emerges as North Carolina probes allegations in House race

      In Bladen, about 40% of the requested absentee ballots, or 495 ballots, were not returned. In Robeson, about 62%, or 1,180 ballots, were not returned. Both percentages are much higher than the district’s non-return rate, which was 24%.

      “In addition, if ballots were manipulated without the registered voter’s knowledge, and votes were changed or spoiled to negate a vote, that would raise serious concerns about the integrity of the 9th Congressional District’s election,” Bitzer wrote.

    • Is Bush’s Legacy Really Much Different Than Trump’s?

      As the federal government closed shop for a day of national mourning for the late President George H.W. Bush, an image of came to my mind.

      It’s an ad by his supporters claiming presidential candidate Michael Dukakis “allows first degree murderers to have weekend passes,” as an image of an African American man, Willie Horton, flashes across the screen. More photos of Horton are shown, along with the words “stabbing, kidnapping, raping.”

      I wasn’t even born when this ad aired in 1988. I know it because I studied it in my media classes as a classic example of how politicians stoked racist fears to link black people to crime and further a mass incarceration agenda.

      Just last month, President Donald Trump’s political team ran an ad inspired by the same race-baiting tactic. An ad so obviously racist even Fox News stopped running it. It depicts Mexican immigrant Luis Bracamontes saying he would “kill more cops,” and claims “Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay.” (These claims were false.)

      The ad was designed to link Central American immigrants to crime just as a caravan of asylum seekers from Honduras was headed to the U.S.-Mexico border.

      As I recall H. W. Bush’s legacy, the similarities keep coming.

    • What Chicago Voters Can Look Forward to in a Very Crowded Mayoral Election

      With the Chicago mayoral election approaching, ProPublica Illinois reporter Mick Dumke and Chicago Reader reporter Ben Joravsky talked City Hall politics at their monthly show, “First Tuesdays,” at the Hideout, a nightclub just northwest of downtown. Their guests: Alderman Ricardo Muñoz, from the 22nd Ward, who is retiring after 25 years in office, and veteran political consultant Kitty Kurth.

      During the roughly 75-minute show, they discussed the Feb. 26 election to succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who decided not to run for a third term; the importance of candidates gathering the required ballot petitions to qualify for the election; and the realities of what Chicago aldermen actually do.

    • Factcheck False Equivalence

      In an era when the president of the United States is an inveterate, habitual, daily liar, about all things great and small, and especially about himself, factchecking sites can provide an invaluable—if increasingly overwhelmed—public service. Though the siloing off of this core function of journalism still presents, I’d submit, something of a moral hazard—the implication being that the existence of a distinct factcheck team alleviates political beat reporters from the responsibility of meticulously calling out spin and falsehoods on a routine basis—there are resource benefits to having a dedicated team focused on separating fact from fiction.

      This does not mean, however, that factcheck journalism in the corporate press is free from the institutional pressures of “both sides” objectivity. Precisely because of President Trump’s unprecedented propensity to lie, there can be a latent urge among factcheckers to find similar examples of dishonesty among the left, to provide some semblance of “fairness.” And, at times, these efforts can devolve into obtuse, bad-faith examples of nitpicking and false equivalence.

    • Wisconsin Schools the Nation on Hypocrisy and Partisan Power Grabs

      Wisconsin elected the state’s respected school superintendent as governor on November 6. Now a disgruntled GOP leadership is schooling the nation on hypocrisy and partisan power grabs.

      After an all-nighter Wednesday, Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald succeeded in passing a package of bills to diminish the power of newly elected Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, and they will truncate early voting hours while they are at it.

      It was called an “Extraordinary Session,” and it was an extraordinary week that made national and international headlines, including “The Republicans’ post-midterm strategy: Thievery” in the Washington Post. “What Republicans didn’t win at the polls, they would seek to preserve by pilfering,” said Dana Milbank, writing of the Wisconsin and Michigan lame ducks as well as the North Carolina election fraud.

    • Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count

      Wisconsin Republicans have made the news again. After losing the governor’s race (but maintaining control of the state legislature, thanks to gerrymandering), Republicans have passed a series of measures to limit the power of Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers.

      For those who have not been following Wisconsin state politics for the last decade, it’s worth a quick recap on the goings on in the Dairy State.

      In 2011, Republican Governor Scott Walker and the Republican legislature gutted the power of public sector unions (including my union, the TAA, a union of graduate student workers at University of Wisconsin), resulting in the largest protests in the state since the Vietnam War.

      As unions tend to support Democrats, and the union-gutting bill, Act 10, exempted the two unions that more often support Republicans (police and firefighters), the bill was clearly a partisan power grab by Republicans.

      Wisconsin Republicans then passed a law requiring photo IDs for voting. I have a state-issued photo ID because I’m a student at University of Wisconsin, a state school. However, although college students are allowed to vote where they attend school, my school photo ID is not considered a valid ID for voting.

      Requiring photo IDs to vote fixes a problem that does not exist. Voter fraud is incredibly rare.

    • No Relief: William Barr Is as Bad as Jeff Sessions — if Not Worse

      Barr’s record suggests he will continue the former attorney general’s worst policies while promoting a sweeping view of executive power.
      Donald Trump’s nomination of William Barr to succeed Jeff Sessions as attorney general ought to raise alarm bells across the country. Barr is as bad as Sessions was on the full range of civil rights issues that fall with the Justice Department’s purview. And he’s a longstanding advocate of expansive executive power.

      It’s almost certainly the latter view that attracted President Trump, whose own power is likely to be called into question should the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election disclose wrongdoing at the top. But the Senate, who must confirm Barr, and the U.S. citizenry, who will have to live under him as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, should be aware of the full range of threats he poses to constitutional law, civil rights, and civil liberties.

      It’s worth reflecting on the Justice Department Barr would inherit.

      Under Sessions’ leadership, it has become a force for injustice in virtually every important area of civil rights. Sessions was an aggressive defender of Trump’s cruel and inhuman family separation policy, the Muslim ban, and obstacles to asylum. He rolled back critical civil rights protections for LGBT persons. He opposed legislative efforts to reform the criminal justice system and directed federal prosecutors to file the harshest charges possible against criminal defendants, regardless of mitigating circumstances. He reversed the department’s position in voting rights cases, going from attacking to supporting voter suppression initiatives. And he sought to punish state and local governments that exercised their constitutional right to choose to leave federal immigration law enforcement to federal officials. Few attorney generals have done more to undermine the causes that the Justice Department is supposed to defend.

    • Trump Nominates William Barr, a ‘Fanatic Who Believes in Dictatorship of Executive Power,’ for Attorney General

      After spending much of his morning hysterically attacking Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation, President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he will nominate William Barr—a frequent critic of the Mueller probe who holds an expansive view of executive power—to be the next U.S. attorney general.

      “As attorney general, Barr could defund or shut down Mueller’s investigation,” Public Citizen warned on Twitter. “That’s what’s at risk if we don’t push the Senate to act. Call your senators and demand a vote on legislation to protect Mueller.”

    • Celebrating a Congress That Looks ‘Like America,’ Ilhan Omar Shrugs Off Right-Wing Islamophobic Rant

      Incoming Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on Friday reminded a right-wing pastor and others who would lament the new cultural diversity of the U.S. Congress that the 2018 midterm elections simply gave Americans—particularly Democratic voters and progressives—the representation they asked for in Washington: the kind that looked like America.

      After conservative minister and radio host E.W. Jackson delivered an Islamophobic rant on his show on Wednesday, decrying Omar’s status as one of the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress and warning that the Capitol is turning into a “institution of Sharia law,” the current state legislator replied simply that the pastor would “have to just deal.”

    • ‘To Defend the Indefensible,’ Trump Picks Former Fox News Anchor to Push Dangerous US Foreign Policy at United Nations

      As President Donald Trump confirmed on Friday that he will nominate State Department spokeswoman and former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, critics argued that while the president’s decision to select someone with zero diplomatic experience to represent the U.S. before the international community is “appalling,” the belligerent foreign policy and contempt for human rights that Nauert will be in charge of selling is immeasurably more dangerous.

    • The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot

      During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump repeatedly promised that he would “drain the swamp” of Washington’s corrupt politics. In one of his numerous Tweets, he promised: “I will Make Our Government Honest Again — believe me. But first, I’m going to have to #DrainTheSwamp.” Unfortunately, the swamp is festering, a symptom of the rot at the head of the political system.

      The Miami Herald’s recent series on the relationship between Palm Beach, FL, billionaire hedge-fund manage, Jeffrey Epstein, and R. Alexander Acosta, the Sec. of Labor, is an invaluable case study as to how corruption works. It’s the latest — but likely not the last — scandal to befall the Trump administration.

      Epstein is an American financier with a long association with the rich and powerful. He began his career at Bear Stearns before forming his own firm, J. Epstein & Co. In a 2002 puff-piece, New York magazine noted his close relations with Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker. The piece quotes no less an authority of moral character as Trump who said he knew of Epstein’s interest in “younger” women. “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy,” Trump blathered. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”

    • Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta Must Resign For Allowing Serial Child Molester Jeffrey Epstein To Escape Justice

      Jeffrey Epstein is a serial child molester who used his wealth, power and influence to escape serious penalties for his crimes. The charges brought against him could have resulted in Epstein spending the rest of his life in prison —but instead, he played “let’s make a deal” to subvert justice and escape punishment. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who as U.S. Attorney in Miami cut the deal with Epstein, must resign.

      Jeffrey Epstein plays by the same rule book as Donald Trump, Les Moonves, Harvey Weinstein, Eric Schneiderman and other powerful men who have been revealed as serial abusers of women. Epstein’s scant 13-month stay in a county jail—where he was even allowed to spend twelve hours a day, six days a week, at his office—was made possible by a culture of powerful men enabling each other, while dismissing, excusing or demeaning the women and children they brutalize with physical and sexual violence.

      But this toxic culture must end. We cannot allow our legal system to be hijacked by rich men and those who stand by idly while profiting from their abuses of power. Those in law enforcement, politics and business who defend and protect these abusers are also complicit. They used their privilege to shred the law and make a mockery of justice. But the #MeToo movement is shining a light on their conduct, and that light must not fade.

    • For Allowing Serial Sexual Abuser to Escape Justice, Demand for Labor Secretary Acosta to Resign Immediately Surges

      One of the nation’s leading women’s rights organizations joined a number of political commentators on Friday in demanding to know: How does Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, who was accused last week in an in-depth investigative article by the Miami Herald of helping a serial sexual abuser secure a lenient plea deal, still have a job?

      The sexual abuse charges brought against Jeffrey Epstein—a hedge fund manager who counts President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton among his friends—”could have resulted in Epstein spending the rest of his life in prison,” said Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW). “But instead, he played ‘let’s make a deal’ to subvert justice and escape punishment. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who as U.S. Attorney in Miami cut the deal with Epstein, must resign.”

      The Herald’s year-long investigation revealed that in 2007, Acosta helped Epstein to secure a plea bargain that included just 13 months in a county jail and a non-prosecution agreement after being indicted for “assembling a large, cult-like network” of dozens of underage girls and coercing them into sexual activity.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • TSA’s Roadmap for Airport Surveillance Moves in a Dangerous Direction

      The Transportation Security Administration has set out an alarming vision of pervasive biometric surveillance at airports, which cuts against the right to privacy, the “right to travel,” and the right to anonymous association with others.

      The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which included language that we warned would provide implied Congressional endorsement to biometric screening of domestic travelers and U.S. citizens, became law in early October. The ink wasn’t even dry on that bill when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) published their Biometrics Roadmap for Aviation Security and the Passenger Experience, detailing TSA’s plans to work with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to roll out increased biometric collection and screening for all passengers, including Americans traveling domestically.

      This roadmap appears to latch on to a perceived acceptance of biometrics as security keys while ignoring the pervasive challenges with accurately identifying individuals and the privacy risks associated with collecting massive amounts of biometric data. Furthermore, it provides no strategy for dealing with passengers who are unfairly misidentified.

      Worst of all, while the roadmap explicitly mentions collaborating with airlines and other partners inside and outside the government, it is alarmingly silent on how TSA plans to protect a widely distributed honeypot of sensitive biometric information ripe for misuse by identity thieves, malicious actors, or even legitimate employees abusing their access privileges.

    • Soon, you may opt to withdraw your Aadhaar number

      The Union government is in the last stages of finalising a proposal to amend the Aadhaar Act to give all citizens an option to withdraw their Aadhaar number, including biometrics and data.

      This follows the Supreme Court judgment in September that upheld the validity of Aadhaar, however, with certain riders.

      A Constitution Bench had struck down Section 57 of the Act that allows private entities to use the unique number for verification. The Bench also declared that seeking to link it with bank accounts and SIM cards was unconstitutional.

    • Aadhaar Users Will Soon Be Allowed To Delete Biometric Data

      Aadhaar linking has been a headache we all have had! However, now, Aadhaar card holders in India could soon get the option to withdraw his or her Aadhaar number.

      A new report by The Hindu suggests that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is in the final stage of coming up with a decision, allowing citizens to opt out of his or her Aadhaar cards.

    • Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi

      Can I be the only one – apart from his own sycophants – to find the sight of America’s finest Republicans and Democrats condemning the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for murdering Jamal Khashoggi a bit sickening? “Crazy”. “Dangerous”. A “wrecking ball”. A “smoking saw”. These guys are angry. CIA director Gina Haspel, who was happy to sign off on the torture of her Muslim captives in a secret American prison in Thailand, obviously knew what she was talking about when she testified about Mohammed bin Salman and the agony of Jamal Khashoggi.

      US government leaks suggest that Haspel knew all about the shrieks of pain, the suffering of Arab men who believed they were drowning, the desperate pleading for life from America’s victims in these sanctuaries of torment in and after 2002. After all, the desperate screams of a man who believes he is drowning and the desperate screams of a man who believes he is suffocating can’t be very different. Except, of course, that the CIA’s victims lived to be tortured another day – indeed several more days – while Jamal Khashoggi’s asphyxiation was intended to end his life. Which it did.

    • Saudis Targeted Khashoggi With This Israeli Surveillance Tool

      Saudi activist Omar Abdulaziz, who is based in Montreal, filed a lawsuit in an Israeli court on Sunday against Tel Aviv-based cyber intelligence company NSO Group for monitoring his messages with Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The company has denied accusations that its spyware played a role in Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October.

      Researchers at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto reported that Abdulaziz’s phone had been infected by NSO’s Pegasus spyware, which can access photos, phone calls and emails, as well as a user’s GPS location. The researchers had previously found possible Pegasus surveillance operations in 45 countries, including the United States.

      “The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say,” Abdulaziz told CNN. “The guilt is killing me.” He has requested $160,000 in damages and for NSO Group to stop selling its products to Saudi Arabia.

      In 2014, American private equity firm Francisco Partners bought NSO for $130 million. Other critics of the Saudi regime who have been targeted with the Pegasus software include human rights activist Yahya Assiri and political satirist Ghanem Almasarir, both of whom are based in the United Kingdom.

    • Facebook poses potential threat to democracy, says ex-GCHQ chief

      Facebook could be a threat to democracy unless it is properly regulated, a former head of GCHQ has warned.

      Robert Hannigan said Facebook was not a “fluffy charity” providing free services to users, but rather social media firms were trying to “squeeze every drop of profit” out of personal data.

      The former intelligence chief was sceptical about whether tech giants could reform themselves and suggested new laws may be required.

    • Google Reveals Plans to Monitor Our Moods, Our Movements, and Our Children’s Behavior at Home

      Patents recently issued to Google provide a window into their development activities. While it’s no guarantee of a future product, it is a sure indication of what’s of interest to them. What we’ve given up in privacy to Google, Facebook, and others thus far is minuscule compared to what is coming if these companies get their way.

      These patents tell us that Google is developing smart-home products that are capable of eavesdropping on us throughout our home in order to learn more about us and better target us with advertising. It goes much further than the current Google Home speaker that’s promoted to answer our questions and provide useful information, and the Google-owned Nest thermostat that measures environmental conditions in our home. What the patents describe are sensors and cameras mounted in every room to follow us and analyze what we’re doing throughout our home. […]

    • New NYPD Drone Policy Represents a Serious Threat to Privacy

      The police department’s drone policy places no meaningful restrictions on the invasive technology’s use and threatens New Yorkers’ privacy.
      The New York Police Department announced this week that it will deploy 14 new drones as part of its policing activities across New York City. The use of this highly invasive technology represents a new frontier for both public safety and abuses of power.

      The department did reach out to the NYCLU to ask us for input on a draft of the policy governing the use of its drones. But while the department did make some changes based on our recommendations, we remain deeply concerned about the policy’s serious shortcomings.

      First, it’s important to understand just how powerful drones are. The NYPD’s drones are outfitted with cameras equipped with sophisticated technology and 4K resolution. The mere presence of these police cameras can create a chilling effect on people exercising their rights to free speech, protest, and other lawful activities.

      Because they are so small, nimble, and relatively inexpensive, drones are in many cases much more attractive surveillance tools than, say, police helicopters. Mass-deploying helicopters is prohibitively expensive, but regularly using drones is much more feasible. And, because they are small, they can fly in places helicopters can’t reach, like into a person’s garage or just outside a bedroom window.

      Given how easy drones make surveillance and the NYPD’s troubling history of unlawful spying, it’s critical that the policies that govern their use put strict limits on when and where they can be deployed.

    • Aussie Surveillance Law Imperils Secure Comms

      Australia has followed the UK in passing its own draconian surveillance laws which could force technology providers to engineer de facto backdoors into their end-to-end encryption products.

      The opposition Labor Party stood aside at the eleventh hour to let the bill pass, on the understanding that its amendments would be passed in the new year, something the government now says it will only “consider.”

      As is the norm, the government had argued that law enforcers and security services needed to be able to access specific communications to fight serious crime and protect national security.

      “This ensures that our national security and law enforcement agencies have the modern tools they need, with appropriate authority and oversight, to access the encrypted conversations of those who seek to do us harm,” attorney-general, Christian Porter is reported to have said.

    • UK Parliament publishes reams of Facebook docs, exposing firm’s machinations for user data

      The first is that Facebook allowed some companies to keep “full access” to Facebook users; friends data even after it change its privacy rules in 2014 and 2015 to limit the data access third-party developers have.

    • British Member of Parliament publishes 250 pages of damning internal Facebook documents that had been sealed by a US court

      Kramer is CEO of Six4Three, a creepy US startup whose Facebook app helped you find pictures of your friends in bikinis; when the app was neutered by a change to Facebook’s API, Six4Three sued Facebook and in the course of pre-trial discovery, they were given extensive internal documents from Facebook, which the judge in the case had ordered sealed. Somehow, Collins got wind of the fact that Kramer, his laptop, and the documents were all in London, and — having been spurned by Mark Zuckerberg, who repeatedly refused demands to appear in Parliament — saw his chance.

      Now, Collins has dumped a 250 page file, hosted on Parliament’s servers, which includes the documents from Kramer’s laptop and Collins’s summary.

    • Big tech has your kid’s data — and you probably gave it to them

      Potential dangers for children no longer just entail speeding cars and strangers with candy. The rise of smart technology and data-surveying gadgets means that tons of private information is being collected and disseminated in completely new ways. The full extent of how our data is being gathered and used is something we’re still working to understand, let alone be able to fully explain to children.

      In her report, Longfield writes that today’s kids are the most at risk because they have the largest digital footprint in history. Between the Nest cameras watching kids at home, kids’ games that target them with ads, and purchase preferences on Amazon and Google, their data is being harvested at an unprecedented rate.

    • Australia passes new law to thwart strong encryption

      However, the law as currently written seems to contain what some view as a loophole. The statute says that companies cannot be compelled to introduce a “systemic weakness” or a “systemic vulnerability” into their software or hardware to satisfy government demands.

      Those terms are not fully defined in the current law but are set to be added in the forthcoming amendments.

    • Australia data encryption laws explained

      Australia has passed controversial laws designed to compel technology companies to grant police and security agencies access to encrypted messages.`

    • Australia just voted to ban working cryptography. No, really.

      Making this bill work would mean a raft of extreme measures: seizing and altering every general purpose computer in Australia; banning the importation of any computing device, including phones and laptops, into Australia; blocking Github and every other software distribution site at the national level, and more.

      Australia is the first, but may not be the last. Rod Rosenstein wants to bring this to America. Ian Levy, GCHQ’s Technical Director, wants to bring it to the UK.

    • The Facebook papers are a timely reminder that Mark Zuckerberg is totally ruthless about making money

      If you take one thing away from wading through 250 pages of Facebook documents, it is this: Here is a company that is ruthless about growth.

      [...]

      But the papers, which date as far back as 2012, provide evidence that Facebook cut deals that fell just short of selling data. Notably, it signed off on preferential “whitelisting agreements” with firms including Netflix and Airbnb, giving these firms great access to data.

    • Facebook Is Built on Inequality

      In short, the reciprocity arrangement Zuckerberg was describing involved the terms Facebook sets for third-party apps built on its platform. The arrangement determines how much, and which kinds, of data Facebook requires those apps to provide in return for access to its network. In this case, apps were given access to friend lists. With data gathered through reciprocity, Facebook’s advertisers would be able to target users even better than before.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Terrorist Content Regulation: Civil rights groups raise major concerns

      On 4 December 2018, a coalition of 31 civil society organisations published a letter that raises significant concerns regarding the proposal for a Regulation to prevent the dissemination of terrorist content online. The letter was addressed to the EU Member States’ Home Affairs Ministers, ahead of their meeting on 6 December.

    • Resisting Law Enforcement’s Siren Song: A Call for Cryptographers to Improve Trust and Security

      The world is waking up to something that digital security experts have known for a very long time: Digital security is hard. Really hard. And the larger and more complex the systems, the more difficult it is to plug all the security holes and make them secure and trustworthy. Yet security is also increasingly important in systems ranging from the smartphones in our hands to our power grids. So why isn’t everyone—especially the governments of the Five Eyes countries—promoting, supporting, and celebrating important security work? In part, it’s because law enforcement in each of these countries wants to take advantage of the same security holes that criminals do—a result that puts us all at risk. Even worse, many of these governments are now pushing companies—both through both law and through nonlegal pressure—to ensure that any future technology that the public relies on continues to have security holes they (and criminals) can use.

    • Tennessee Electrocutes Second Prisoner in Five Weeks

      A Tennessee inmate became the second person to die in the state’s electric chair in just over a month Thursday, nearly two decades after Tennessee adopted lethal injection as its preferred method of execution.

      David Earl Miller, 61, was pronounced dead at 7:25 p.m. at a Nashville maximum-security prison.

      Miller was convicted of killing 23-year-old Lee Standifer in 1981 in Knoxville and had been on death row for 36 years, the longest of any inmate in Tennessee.

      At 7:12 p.m. and after Miller had been strapped into the chair, Tennessee Department of Correction officials raised a blind that had covered the windows to a witness room. Miller looked straight ahead, his eyes seemingly unfocused and his face expressionless.

    • 30 Years Ago, Maine Changed Its Law To Curb Forfeiture Abuse. Records Show Nothing Has Changed.

      It is clear agencies are still directly benefiting from civil asset forfeiture. To route around state restrictions, local agencies are bringing in the feds to take advantage of a sharing program that’s not subject to local laws. Federal records show state agencies have taken home $13 million in funds from federal adoption of forfeitures since 2000.

      The lack of contribution to the state’s general fund shouldn’t be taken to mean state agencies have abandoned non-federal-assisted forfeiture. A public records request by the Institute for Justice obtained data showing state agencies are still racking up about $250,000 a year in cash forfeitures alone. That should have made its way to the state fund, but there’s no records showing that ever happened.

      Rule changes mean nothing if no one’s willing to enforce them. The state legislature made an effort thirty years ago to reform forfeiture, but for the last decade-plus, no one in the state has done anything to ensure agencies are complying with the rules. Law enforcement agencies aren’t going to hold themselves accountable and they’d still like to be the largest — if not the only — beneficiary of seized property. That’s exactly what appears to be happening here. Laws mean nothing if they’re not enforced — a truism law enforcement agencies are keenly aware of.

    • Fed Up With Trump’s Knickers and Golf Shirts and Insults

      Hypocrisy, thy name is: Turns out the racist ghoul who unceasingly reviles, belittles and otherwise trash-talks undocumented immigrants has employed a bunch of ‘em at his own tacky clubs – here, here, here – and one, according to the New York Times, has had enough. Victorina Morales is a Guatemalan housekeeper who’s worked at Trump’s glitzy Bedminster golf resort in New Jersey for five years, during which time by all accounts she hasn’t raped or murdered anyone, even though she’s undocumented. She has, however, busted her butt. She’s made Trump’s bed, cleaned his toilet, washed his windows, dusted the golf trophies he reportedly bought, washed and ironed his white boxers, golf shirts, khaki trousers, sheets and towels.

      For a while she worked inside his house, cleaning while he watched TV or standing quietly when he brought in potential Cabinet members for interviews: “I never imagined (I) would see such important people close up.” She once saw Trump throw a fit over orange stains on the collar of his white golf shirt, the stubborn remnants of the makeup that gives him his ghostly orange glow. Another time, he ran his teeny finger along surfaces she’d just dusted as she nervously watched; he declared she’d done “a good job” and gave her a tip. What a gold-plated prince: The club has entrance fees of over $100,000 a year and pays her a whopping 13 bucks an hour. Overall, she did such a good job she got a White House certificate recognizing her service.

      Still, when Trump became president, he started getting uglier, as did those around him. Morales, who came here in 1999 with two years of schooling and no English, was hurt to hear Trump equating immigrants like her with criminals; she was also upset by supervisors calling her and the many other immigrant workers “stupid,” “illegal,” with “less intelligence than a dog.” When it became too much, she and Sandra Diaz, a former maid, went to the Times. In a statement, Anibal Romero, an attorney for Morales and Diaz, said that “while working there and interacting with the President and his immediate family, my clients and others were repeatedly subjected to abuse, called racial epithets and threatened with deportation…This toxic environment was designed to intimidate these women, leaving them fearful for their safety.”

    • Arrested CFO Faces Bail Hearing in Canada Friday: Huawei Update

      The arrest of Huawei Technologies Co.’s chief financial officer in Canada provoked outrage from China at a critical point in trade talks with the U.S. Wanzhou Meng faces extradition to the U.S. over potential violations of American sanctions on Iran.

    • Noam Chomsky Turns 90

      I want to wish a happy birthday to Professor Noam Chomsky, who turns 90. He was born in the East Oak Lane section of Philadelphia, PA and received a Deweyite education as a youngster. He often states that the progressive education he received in his formative years was so effective that he didn’t even realize that he was a good student until he attended the academic high school. His parents, Elsie and William taught Hebrew in the city and Chomsky started writing, studying and devouring books at an early age, often traveling to visit his uncle Milton in New York City who ran a newsstand.

      Many Chomsky fans are familiar with this early story. He really doesn’t prefer to talk about it unless asked. Nor does Chomsky believe in the creation of celebrities through their work. To this day I’m not entirely sure he has ever seen the documentary film, Manufacturing Consent, a project he may have agreed to and entered reluctantly, after learning it was mainly about his political life.

    • Concentration Camps From Here to China

      It’s all a matter of perception. Often the outside observer doesn’t have the proper view of things and fails to appreciate that what is observed is not what is actually taking place. Consider the Uighurs in far West China and illegal immigrants along the southwest border of the United States.

      In the United States, there is great concern for the plight of the Uighurs. It was well described in an editorial that appeared in the New York Times on December 1, 2018. It was titled: “Who Will Speak Up for the Uighurs?” The editorial writer described the “urgent need to address at the highest levels of the American government what have been described as China’s worst human rights abuses in decades.” The need for the editorial seems obvious.

      The Uighurs, and members of other Muslim minority groups are being held in China’s far northwestern Xinjiang region, in what are described by outside observers as beyond deplorable conditions. The number of Uighurs detained may be in excess of one million and the inhabitants of the camps are reportedly subject to torture, and food deprivation. There have reportedly been countless deaths resulting from the treatment of the Uighurs by the Chinese authorities.

      It comes as no surprise to learn that the Chinese do not have the same perception of life in the camps as outside observers, former inhabitants of the camps and the editorial board of the New York Times.

      Explaining the treatment of the Uighurs, the Chinese say it is necessary to crackdown on them to “combat extremism and terrorism on its western frontier. Mimicking the Trump, who says the same things about immigrants in the United States on its southern border, the Chinese say: “many of those detained are common criminals.”

    • When A ‘Trade War’ Involves Seizing And Imprisoning Foreign Execs, It’s No Longer Just About Trade

      company’s equipment would send information back to the Chinese government. Of course, when our own government investigated this, it could find no evidence at all that this was true. It also seems notable that Huawei itself asked for this investigation, claiming that it would clear the company’s name, since it wasn’t doing anything that people were accusing it of doing. This doesn’t mean that the company isn’t doing something nefarious, but such claims should have some sort of evidence to back them up, and so far they’ve been lacking.

      Of course, this may have been one of those situations where people assumed that whatever we would do to others, others must be doing to us, because what we do know, is that the NSA broke into Huawei’s computers and grabbed a bunch of emails and source code. That bit seems to get left out of all the fear mongering reporting about Huawei. Oh, and it later came out that much of the whisper campaign about Huawei spying for the Chinese government… originated from the US firm Cisco, which was seeing its market share eroded by Huawei.

      So we’ve long taken the claims about Huawei with a large grain of salt, even as most in the media have been willing to repeat the allegations about Huawei without mentioning the lack of evidence, Cisco’s involvement, or the fact that the US government swiped a bunch of stuff from Huawei, even though all of those things seem kinda relevant.

      By now, of course, you’ve probably heard that Canadian officials arrested Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, who also happens to be the daughter of the founder, and there are plans to try to extradite her to the US. While no charges have been revealed, most people claim it has to do with violating US sanctions on Iran by shipping US made equipment to Iran. The details here will matter, but it’s still incredibly unusual to have a friendly country arrest a top exec and then try to extradite them.

    • CIA Torture Killed My Father. I Want to Know What They Did With His Body.

      I believe there are two paths in life — the paths of right and wrong — and that all people know the right path in their hearts. So I believe that people in America, if they can read this, will know the right thing for their government to do is tell me and my family what happened to my father’s body.

      My father was Gul Rahman. Sixteen years ago, he was wrongfully imprisoned by the CIA because it suspected he was a militant. He was then tortured and killed in a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan — the only person known to have been killed at a CIA “black site.”

      I was 10 years old when he disappeared. He was a good and ordinary man and a wonderful father to me and my three younger sisters. We were living then in a camp in Pakistan for Afghan refugees fleeing the war in our country. We had little, but we were eating and surviving, and my father always had a positive outlook. He was always working to solve not only my family’s problems but also the problems of others around us who had even less than we did.

      We were poor, but he had a way of making us feel as though we owned a mountain. Even today, I can picture how he looked when he laughed and get back a little bit of that feeling.

    • When schools use child protective services as a weapon against parents

      Tiffany Banks sat in her living room, a ruby-red wall decorated with family photographs behind her, listing all the ways her life had unraveled over the past year. Her 6-year-old son had been removed from her care for more than a month. She was forced to close an in-home child care business, and she’d been temporarily displaced from her preschool teaching job, which she’d held for 17 years. Her teenage daughter refused to talk to the 6-year-old, blaming him for the family’s troubles.

      Banks didn’t blame her little boy. She blamed his school, and the investigators from the state’s child welfare agency they’d sent to her door.

      Until last fall, Banks had only good things to say about her children’s school. She’d carefully chosen the K-8 institution, a magnet school across town from her single-family house on Chicago’s West Side, for its academic rigor and diverse student body. Her daughter, now 16, had thrived there, she said, and her middle son did well too. But when her youngest son entered first grade last year, he started misbehaving and making trouble for teachers. “He really struggles behavior-wise,” said Banks, a tall, self-assured woman who’d attended neighborhood public schools in Chicago and desperately wanted something different for her kids. “And at this school they have a low tolerance for it.”

    • What Does Eleanor Roosevelt Have to Do with Black Lives Matter?

      Eleanor Roosevelt famously said that human rights must begin in “small places, close to home.” To speak to people’s everyday experiences in these places, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — drafted with her leadership — protects not only civil and political rights but also socioeconomic rights “indispensable” for human dignity. These include the rights to work and to just and favorable conditions of work; to education; and to housing, medical care, and social services necessary to ensure an adequate standard of living.

      During her lifetime, Roosevelt would not have seen much progress towards the realization of socioeconomic rights for many in her own country (she died in 1962). But today that egalitarian vision is increasingly animating civil society activism and influencing political discourse in the United States. On the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that’s worth celebrating.

    • After Getting FOSTA Turned Into Law, Facebook Tells Its Users To Stop Using Naughty Words

      Well, well. As we’ve covered for a while now, FOSTA became law almost entirely because Facebook did an about-face on its position on the law — which only recently was revealed to have happened because COO Sheryl Sandberg decided it was important to appease Congress on something, even against the arguments of Facebook’s own policy team. As we pointed out at the time, this was Facebook basically selling out the internet, and we wondered if Facebook would then help clean up the collateral damage it causes?

      The early indications are that, not only will it not help clean up the mess it caused, it’s leaning in on this new puritanical internet that it wants to create. We’ve already noted that Facebook has been sued under FOSTA by someone arguing that it has helped facilitate sex trafficking. And now, just days after Tumblr’s weird pivot away from sex, Facebook has put up a bunch of new guidelines in its “community standards” document, under the head of “sexual solicitation” that ban a wide variety of things from naughty words to expressing a sexual preference.

    • Facebook’s Sexual Solicitation Policy is a Honeypot for Trolls

      Facebook just quietly adopted a policy that could push thousands of innocent people off of the platform. The new “sexual solicitation” rules forbid pornography and other explicit sexual content (which was already functionally banned under a different statute), but they don’t stop there: they also ban “implicit sexual solicitation”, including the use of sexual slang, the solicitation of nude images, discussion of “sexual partner preference,” and even expressing interest in sex. That’s not an exaggeration: the new policy bars “vague suggestive statements, such as ‘looking for a good time tonight.’” It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that asking “Netflix and chill?” could run afoul of this policy.

    • Clear-Eyed Antidotes to Ingenuous Accolades for George H.W. Bush

      Thus sniffed the Daily Beast, which, like numerous other outlets that engaged in ingenuous whitewash of the former president, said more about itself than anyone else.

      It isn’t merely that it’s no part of journalists’ job to stoke misty visions of powerful public figures, dead or living; asserting that George H.W. Bush was America’s lovable Grandpa—that only the insolent would gainsay such an image—erases the many people harmed grievously by his actions and inactions.

      But those bombarded with corporate media accolades about how “responsible and reasonable” Bush Sr. was (according to the Washington Post—12/1/18); how he, in USA Today‘s words (12/1/18), “personified a time when….careful international diplomacy was not scorned as a sign of weakness”; how as the Chicago Tribune (12/1/18) had it, we were all touched by his “modesty, seriousness and gentlemanly grace,” could find their antidotes—not mean-spirited, just clear-eyed.

      Mehdi Hasan at The Intercept (12/1/18) ran down some of Bush Sr’s “war crimes, racism and obstruction of justice.” (Bush campaign director Lee Atwater eventually apologized for the infamous Willie Horton ad; Bush never did).

    • ‘Europe Condemns People to Drown’ by Forcing MSF Ship to Cease Migrant Rescue Missions

      “Europe condemns people to drown,” warned Médecins Sans Frontières—also known as MSF or Doctors Without Borders—which operated the ship, Aquarius, with its partner SOS MEDITERRANEE. With just this vessel, the groups have rescued an estimated 30,000 people since February of 2016.

      “This is a dark day,” declared MSF general director Nelke Manders. “Not only has Europe failed to provide search and rescue capacity, it has also actively sabotaged others’ attempts to save lives. The end of Aquarius means more deaths at sea, and more needless deaths that will go unwitnessed.”

      As the BBC noted, citing data from the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM), “more than 2,000 people have died or gone missing making crossings this year, compared to more than 3,000 last year.” At least a dozen people died this week, according to IOM, when a rubber boat that had spent more than 10 days at sea capsized off the Libyan coast.

    • White Supremacy Apologists Are Having a Field Day

      The Washington Post popped a story Tuesday night describing yet another instance of the Trump administration going out of its way to coddle white nationalists. This version featured Georgia Coffey, chief diversity specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), who was shut down last year by Trump appointee John Ullyot when she tried to craft a statement on behalf of the department denouncing the racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

      The issue was pressing to Coffey for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which was the definite need to represent the viewpoint of the VA staffers. “A statement from VA leaders was necessary, Coffey wrote in one email to Ullyot, because the agency’s workforce was unsettled by the uproar caused by the Charlottesville violence,” reports The Post. “Minorities make up more than 40 percent of VA’s 380,000 employees, the federal government’s second-largest agency.”

      The clash between Coffey and Ullyot came after President Trump’s ham-fisted defense of the white nationalists, fascists and Klansmen whose Charlottesville rally exploded in violence, leaving Heather Heyer dead and many others injured. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms,” said Trump, “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” Trump refused to explain what “many sides” meant, but his refusal to condemn the actual agitators in Charlottesville was what poker players call a great big “tell.” Coffey has since left the agency.

      [...]

      The same White House where the son of the president constantly retweets white nationalist memes. The same White House where the president himself retweets white nationalist videos.

    • An Elkhart Police Officer Was Convicted of Drunken Driving — Then the Chief Promoted Him

      Elkhart, Indiana, Police Chief Ed Windbigler is currently serving a 30-day suspension, in part for misleading a civilian oversight commission about the severity of misconduct committed by two officers who repeatedly punched a handcuffed man in the face.

      But that wasn’t the first time Windbigler had provided the commission with inaccurate or incomplete information about an officer’s misconduct, according to records obtained by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica.

    • Indiana Police Chief Promoting As Many Bad Cops As He Can To Supervisory Positions

      There’s another level of oversight that may rein some of the worst cops in, but Chief Windbigler is actively avoiding its scrutiny. The Public Safety Board is supposed to be the disciplinary body handling misconduct cases, but Chief Windbigler isn’t giving it anything to work with. As the article notes, previous police chiefs brought 20 cases a year to the PSB. Windbigler brought zero cases to the board during his first full year as chief. Since then, he has only brought eight. For all of this accountability-dodging, his officers voted the chief “Officer of the Year,” despite the fact the honor is supposed to go to actual officers, not top PD brass.

      The news only gets worse for Elkhart residents, who will be paying bad cops to oversee possibly worse cops. The mayor, Tim Neese, has decided to reform the Public Safety Board. Neese, whose son is an Elkhart police officer, will be dropping his two appointees and replacing them with more cops.

    • The Nauseating Spectacle of George H.W. Bush’s Funeral

      You will often find mentioned, in history books recounting the grim march of the 20th century, the 1910 funeral of King George VII. A clownish panoply paraded through the streets of London: nine monarchs, a small army of minor royals, a wire fox terrier named Caesar. These honored guests, the great potentates of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Strelitz, were already dead, and did not know it. Ridiculous relics of an age that had already elapsed—of swordsmen, doffed hats, and fur-hatted hussars—their kind would soon be incinerated in the trenches of World War I.

      The same stench is in the air over a century later, in America, now that George Herbert Walker Bush has been laid to rest. The 41st president of the United States finally expired, after an extended dotage spent leering from a wheelchair like an ailing mob boss. And to a degree that is still somehow surprising, Bush’s death has inspired a low-grade panic among a certain class of American elite—ludicrously rich, self-obsessed in the extreme, lifelong killers.

      For those invited, the events Wednesday within the National Cathedral constituted a rearguard maneuver against what should be the final judgment of every living thing. George H.W. Bush dealt out an awful lot of death over the course of his life to a diverse array of peoples: AIDS patients, bereft of comfort and care; terrified Iraqis, slaughtered in retreat or at their homes; young people of color, jailed on an industrial scale. Any remembrance of such victims was an uphill battle, against the cold kind of power that not only killed them, but rendered them despicable first—in effect, worthy of killing.

    • The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler

      The prolonged nationally televised commemorations of the racist, corporatist, and imperialist killers John McCain and George H.W. Bush – both privileged sons of the United States military industrial complex – have been nauseating for any decent and historically knowledgeable human being to behold. But the national rituals attached to the deaths of these monstrous butchers have also been very instructive in the age of Trump.

      Following the nation’s so-called mainstream media during the Trump years, you might almost think it has become anti-establishment and anti-authoritarian. Outside FOX and other right-wing outlets that function as de factoTrump state media, the reigning U.S. news and public affairs complex has been consistently skeptical, critical, and even mocking in its coverage of and commentary on Donald Trump.

      What is wrong with Trump in the minds of the corporate and financial establishment that owns the corporate media oligopoly? Is it that he’s a product and tool of a corporate and financial oligarchy so extreme that three absurdly rich people (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates) now possess as much wealth between them as the bottom half of the nation – this while the upper tenth of the One Percent holds the same net worth as the bottom 90 percent?

    • Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai to US Congress: “Don’t Greet Refugees With Tear Gas”

      Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her activism promoting girls’ education—and her work toward that equity made her a target of the Taliban; members of the extremist group shot her in the head in 2012.

      “Malala speaks powerfully to the strength and perseverance of women and girls who are oppressed,” said David Gergen, professor of public service at Harvard Kennedy School and director of the Center for Public Leadership in an earlier press release announcing the award. “Her remarkable story has inspired girls—and boys as well—to follow in her footsteps and has activated a generation of practitioners and legislators who are fighting for equality in their own communities.”

      Previous recipients of the Gleitsman Award have included African National Congress President Nelson Mandela in 1993; Maria Adela Antokoletz, Argentinean founder of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, in 1997; and International Bridges to Justice founder Karen Tse in 2009.

      [...]

      The Trump administration, for its part, has drawn international outrage for, among other things, its recent firing of tear gas by U.S. Border Patrol agents against migrants including families with young children.

    • ‘Small Measure of Justice for Heather Heyer’ as Neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. Convicted of Murdering Her With His Car

      Self-professed neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. was convicted of first-degree murder on Friday for killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer when he intentionally drove his car into a group of counterprotesters at last year’s violent Unite the Right rally that brought scores of white supremacists to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia.

      The 21-year-old with ties to the hate group Vanguard America is now facing up to life in prison. After more than seven hours of deliberations, the jury found him guilty of Heyer’s murder and several other charges—five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of leaving the scene of a crime—related to the dozens of others who were injured.

      While Fields isn’t scheduled to be sentenced until next week, news of his conviction was widely celebrated by anti-racist activists and many others as “a small measure of justice for Heather Heyer.”

    • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!

      These are the words in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) promulgated 70 years ago on December 10, 1948. They were supposed to reflect a new understanding of the causes of war and a commitment to the highest values of the “international community.”

      The UDHR was the first major instrument produced by the United Nations (UN), an institution itself created at the end of the second world war. Its creation was hailed as a breakthrough that would give institutional substance to the pledge by member states to promote international cooperation, commit to peaceful relations among states and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

      According to Elenore Roosevelt, wife of President Roosevelt and U.S. representative to the UN Human Rights Commission, the structure responsible for producing the UDHR, the declaration reflected those natural and eternal rights that, nevertheless, were not always seen but under the right circumstances could be revealed and nurtured.

      It was thought by many that the UDHR with its commitments to freedom of thought and speech, assembly, education, life-long social security, health care, food, the right to culture etc., represented the hope of an international community that had learned from the carnage of the second world war, grew up as a result and ready to collectively center the dignity of everyone.

    • Wendy Was No One’s Enemy

      Busy day of bedlam, what with the Mueller memo declaring Trump a two-time felon and the felon, deep in his lunatic fog, responding by happily proclaiming, “Totally clears the President. Thank you!” Though we are now “deep into the worst case scenarios,” we at least have Twitter punching back for comic relief: “No, honey….When you can’t read…Dude. Refresh your feed. Shit’s not good…Who’s going to tell Individual 1?” and, from George Conway, “Except for that little part where the US Attorney’s Office says that you directed and coordinated with Cohen to commit two felonies. Other than that, totally scot-free.”

      For 24 hours before Mueller released his memo, a panicked Trump hysterically rage-tweeted about all the lying leaking crooked everyones being mean to him. In the midst of his tantrum, he again spewed his vile canard, “FAKE NEWS. THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” Joshua McKerrow, a photojournalist at the Capital Gazette where five journalists were shot dead last June, wasn’t having it. Coming back from a Christmas story he had long covered with one of the victims, his friend and colleague Wendi Winters – and having earlier chronicled the “sea of traumas” those in the newsroom were enduring – he offered a heart-rending, bittersweet, deeply human remembrance of Winters in a series of tweets, and a fierce defense of what they/we do.

      “Today I did the annual story on holiday decorations at the Governor’s residence,” he wrote. “I’ve done it every year, for years. A very light but very fun story. Every year my reporting partner was Wendi Winters. This year, it was Selene. Wendi was murdered in June.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC Tries to Bury Report Showing Many Broadband Users Still Don’t Get The Speeds They Pay For

      So every year like clockwork since 2011 the FCC has released a report naming and shaming ISPs that fail to deliver advertised broadband speeds. The Measuring American Broadband program, which the FCC runs in conjunction with UK firm SamKnows, uses custom-firmware embedded routers in subscriber homes to collect data on real-world speeds (an improvement from years past when the FCC would just take ISPs’ at their word).

      In the years since, the program has been an effective way to name and shame ISPs that fail to deliver speeds promised to consumers. For example, in the first report, the FCC announced that some ISPs, like New York’s Cablevision, had delivered just 50% of advertised speeds during peak hours. By the next report Cablevision had moved to fix its under-provisioning issues, and the FCC found that the company was now offering more bandwidth than advertised at peak hours. In the absence of more competition, simply using real data was a useful way to motivate apathetic regional monopolies to try a little harder.

    • QUIC and HTTP/3 : Too big to fail?!

      Much has been said about the potential benefits of QUIC, most of it based on Google’s experience with an early version of the protocol. However, its potential shortcomings are rarely talked about and little is yet known about the properties of the upcoming, standardized versions (as they are still under active development). This post takes a (nuanced) “devil’s advocate” viewpoint and looks at how QUIC and HTTP/3 might still fail in practice, despite the large amount of current enthusiasm. In all fairness, I will also mention counter arguments to each point and let the reader make up their own mind, hopefully after plenty of additional discussion.

    • You need neither PWA nor AMP to make your website load fast

      There has been a trend of new “revolutionary” techniques on the Web that basically let you do stuff possible decades ago.

    • Contrary To Media Claims, There’s No Evidence Russia Was Behind Fake Net Neutrality Comments

      Earlier this week we noted how the Ajit Pai FCC again shot down journalist FOIA attempts to find out who was behind the millions of bogus comments that plagued the agency’s net neutrality repeal. The move prompted one of the agency’s commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel, to accuse her own agency of a coverup–since Pai refuses to work with either journalists or law enforcement investigations trying to uncover the truth of who was behind the comment fraud.

      In an uncharacteristically snarky statement (pdf) issued the same day, Pai attempted to dismiss the criticisms as purely partisan attacks. But he also acknowledged something we already knew…that 500,000 or so of the email addresses used in the FCC’s comment form came from users purportedly on Russian ISPs.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • SPCs under friendly fire

      Why would anyone want to have their own supplementary protection certificate (SPC) revoked? – The answer is, quite simply, Article 3(c).

      Under Article 3(c) of Regulation (EC) 469/2009 on SPCs for medicinal products (and, likewise, under Article 3(1)(c) of Regulation (EC) 1610/96 on SPCs for plant protection products), an SPC shall be granted only if “the product has not already been the subject of a certificate” in the respective EU member state. In practice, this requirement effectively means that different holders of basic patents can each be granted one SPC for the same product, while the same holder of several patents cannot be granted more than one SPC for the same product. This has become known as the “one SPC per product per patent holder rule”.

      So, what can patent holders do if they wish to obtain an SPC for an active ingredient X on the basis of their recently issued patent P2 even though they have already obtained a prior SPC for this same active ingredient X on the basis of an earlier granted patent P1? Could the patent holder have its prior SPC revoked with retroactive effect (ex tunc) and thereby clear the way for a new SPC filing? Similarly, if the basic patent underlying an SPC is revoked and the SPC is consequently rendered invalid (with retroactive effect), can this give the SPC holder a “second chance” to file a new SPC for the same active ingredient on the basis of a different patent?

    • Trademarks
      • The Emmys People Are Opposing A Pet Products Company Named After A Dog Named ‘Emmy’

        In the pantheon of dumb trademark disputes, you would probably expect there to be some correlation between the volume or level of dumb of a dispute and the involvement of a member of the entertainment industry. Without having any hard data in front of me, I still feel quite comfortable stating that this expectation is almost certainly correct. The entertainment industries are notoriously protective of all things intellectual property, after all. Still, sometimes you run across a dispute that is so silly it takes your breath away.

        Meet Kevin Rizer. Kevin owns a pet products company in Texas. When he named his company, he drew inspiration from his own furry, four-legged friend, his cancer-surviving dog, whose name is Emmy. Thus, Emmy’s Best was created to make pet products, and, damn it, you already know where this is going, don’t you?

    • Copyrights
      • South Africa Parliament Passes Sweeping Copyright Bill; Final Step Expected In New Year

        South Africa’s National Assembly this week approved redrafted versions of the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill and the Copyright Amendment Bill that includes stronger protections for copyright holders but also a fair use provision preserving some exceptions. But there is still an additional hurdle to go before it reaches the President for signature, likely in the New Year.

      • Major Rightsholders Are Not Happy With Article 13 Either

        Several prominent representatives of the audiovisual and sports sectors, including the MPA and the Premier League, are not pleased with the current Article 13 proposals. Their objections don’t concern the possibility of upload filters, but with potential new liability shields for large Internet services, which they say will only gain power at the detriment of copyright holders.

The European Patent Organisation is Like a Private Club and Roland Grossenbacher is Back in It

Friday 7th of December 2018 11:01:51 AM


Roland Grossenbacher's dissent

Summary: In the absence of Benoît Battistelli quality control at the EPO is still not effective; patents are being granted like the sole goal is to increase so-called ‘production’ (or profit), appeals are being subjected to threats from Office management, and external courts (courts that assess patents outside the jurisdiction of the Office/Organisation) are being targeted with a long-sought replacement like the Unified Patent Court, or UPC (Unitary Patent)

TODAY’S European Patent Office (EPO) is the same place it was half a year ago, except António Campinos (Battistelli’s choice) is in charge and his ‘boss’ (also Battistelli’s ‘boss’) will soon be his assistant instead. It’s just about as backwards as it sounds and it’s hardly surprising that patent quality continues to decline. The Office now openly promotes software patents in Europe, knowing that not even judges associated with the Organisation will dare stop this (and they work to replace outside judges too, at least hoping to with the UPC).

Some readers have been in touch with us regarding the Boards of Appeal Committee (BoAC) and the Boards of Appeal of the EPO (BoA). Some important things happened this week and notable among them are aspects we shall cover below as concisely as possible (due to lack of time mostly).

The EPO is expectedly not covering any of the important news. As a decoy from corruption, for instance, the EPO tweeted almost nothing yesterday except: “It was an immense honour to receive the Corporate Art Award® 2018 for international cultural initiatives at the ceremony held within the European Parliament. Thank you!”

We mentioned this puff piece yesterday and its likely intended (albeit subconscious) purpose. Battistelli used to do that quite a lot. We don’t wish to dwell on it; neither should examiners. Also retweeted by the EPO yesterday was this UK-IPO tweet about a CIPA-centric event in London, scheduled for next week. To quote: “We are teaming up with @EPOorg to deliver an online services workshop, making online filing easier to understand. Join us on 13 or 14 Dec at @TheCIPA in #London.”

CIPA is the most prominent lobby of Team UPC and there’s no sign of the UPC ever materialising (another false rumour about decision by year’s end). Citing an interview from September with Kevin Mooney (Team UPC), never mind the court's refutation shortly after that (it responded to an inquiry from JUVE), Team UPC quoted out of the blue: “On DE [German] #UPC constitutional complaint: “The delay of 18 months in reaching a decision is quite astonishing for an English lawyer.” – Kevin Mooney in JUVE Patent interview. https://www.juve-patent.com/news-and-stories/legal-commentary/im-a-pragmatist-there-will-be-a-upc-agreement/ …

They’re just complaining about courts (a constitutional court even!) while trying to push a kangaroo court for patents. Their disdain for justice, law, democracy and even constitutions is rather revealing. All they care about is money in the form of legal bills. Shall they ever get their way, any thought will be patentable and taxed; the courts will not even assess merit of patents and instead act like rubber-stamping tax authorities.

Perhaps timed strategically for the BoA, Doctors Without Borders issued a statement that we wrote about yesterday. “Doctors Without Borders and five organizations have appealed the European Patent Office’s decision upholding Gilead Sciences Inc.’s patent for the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir, the international nonprofit announced on Wednesday,” Tiffany Hu wrote. On the same day Neha Bakshi and some other blockchain-centric sites relayed the EPO’s latest propaganda for software patents (event about blockchains). “This criterion came into existence on the basis of case law associating the computer implementing inventions,” they said. In the United States, 35 U.S.C. § 101 would invalidate such patents; in Europe the EPC would do the job, but only if it exits the Office and reaches truly independent courts. As happened before…

We must express our sheer disappointment if not disdain for IP Kat (nowadays connected to CIPA and Team UPC). As recently as yesterday it was publishing puff pieces for the EPO’s management (to help the promotion of software patents). That was rather revealing from Frantzeska Papadopoulou, whose blog colleague Rose Hughes wrote that “IPKat ha[d] received breaking news that the Technical Board of Appeal (TBA) yesterday decided that recently amended Rule 28(2) EPC is in conflict with Art. 53(b) EPC as interpreted by the Enlarged Board of Appeal in G 2/12 (Broccoli/Tomato II). Further, according to the Art. 164(2) EPC the Articles prevail, thus rending the R. 28 amendment void.”

A correction was needed. “One correction,” the sole comment said. “Solynta filed observations in support of Syngenta’s position that the rule was incorrect, as did multiple other parties.”

We wrote about this yesterday. We were not exactly surprised to see a Board of Appeal ruling the way EPO management, i.e. patent maximalists, would want. These people lack independence and Campinos has done absolutely nothing to correct this. He doesn’t care. It’s not even on the agenda.

Adam Lacy and Thorsten Bausch have meanwhile written about the patent procedures, taking note of the fact that Roland Grossenbacher now speaks on behalf of the Boards of Appeal Committee (BoAC).

“I thought Roland Grossenbacher had at long last retired, and am therefore to see him donning a new hat,” one comment pointed out. Battistelli's chinchilla is also in the BoAC.

Here’s what Lacy and Bausch (Hoffmann Eitle) wrote yesterday:

As European patent professionals are all too aware, the Boards of Appeal of the EPO (BOA) have a huge amount of power, particularly over the rights of patentees. In EPO opposition proceedings, the BOA have the final say on whether to revoke a patent across all of the EPC contracting states. This does not apply to parties opposing European patents at the EPO, who live to fight another day in the form of national invalidity proceedings if they fail to persuade the BOA to revoke a patent.

In this light, it is with some concern that we attended the User consultation conference on the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (RPBA) held by the EPO in Munich yesterday, where the latest draft RPBA was up for discussion.

The conference was opened by Roland Grossenbacher on behalf of the Boards of Appeal Committee (BOAC) and Carl Josefsson, President of the BOA. Justice Colin Birss did a brilliant job to moderate the conference and manage the sometimes critical contributions from the audience, not shying away from sharing his own experiences as a UK judge and former barrister with the audience. Markus Müller gave an excellent presentation on case management aspects under the new RPBA, before it was Mike Harrison’s turn to explain the procedural hardships provided in the new rules to an audience that was not always amused by them. He recognised that he had drawn the short straw with this assignment and valiantly defended the current draft.

It seems to us that the main purpose of the new RPBA is to make proceedings more efficient and thus help the BOA clear their significant backlog. We are sceptical though whether the new RPBA will actually achieve this aim and we are concerned that the main legacy of this draft will likely be that the EPO system will be skewed even more in the favour of opponents, contrary to the principle of “equally fair treatment” for parties to the appeal set out in G 9/91. Thus, while we welcome many of the new rules of procedure and stand behind their general principles and ideas, we would like to consider a few Articles in more detail in the following where we have concerns from a patentee’s perspective.

This “significant backlog” is a subject we covered here before; the last thing EPO management wants is an effective and efficient BoA that serves to highlight sharp decline in patent quality. As one comment then points out (about Auxiliary Requests):

The natural response of patentees to the proposed changes will be to file more Auxiliary Requests, in order that there are sufficient Requests on file at 1st instance to address every possible (win/lose) permutation for all of the objections raised by the opponents, irrespective of the apparent strength of each of those objections. Even with only a small number of objections under each heading, this could give rise to an alarming number of permutations, especially if any of those objections can be addressed in a number of different ways.

Whilst this would be an understandable response on the part of patentees, it will place an increasingly impossible (and expensive) burden on opponents, especially if – as is entirely predictable – it results in huge numbers of ARs being filed at the stage of final written submissions (ie after the patentee is in receipt of the OD’s preliminary opinion). It will also make it increasingly difficult for oral proceedings to be completed in the allotted time frame without depriving parties the opportunity of a fair hearing with regard to each ground of objection for each admissible request.

It therefore stands to reason that there is absolutely no point limiting the patentee’s ability to amend his case at the appeal stage unless and until there is robust case management at 1st instance. The Boards of Appeal may well be independent but that does not mean that they should be free to introduce rules that, by turning a blind eye to structural defects in the 1st instance procedure, systematically deprive parties of their right to be heard.

And more on Auxiliary Requests from a familiar person (who used to comment in IP Kat until they became aggressive with censorship and self-censorship):

As to the sure fire prediction of an obscene proliferation of Auxiliary Requests, early on in the opposition proceedings, one recalls that the more than likely consequence of an unimaginative amendment of the Rules intended to improve speed and efficiency is to render the proceedings more complex, lengthy and inefficient. Recall, for example, the misconceived and misbegotten rule changes to cap the length of time in which the filing of a divisional is permitted, the resulting ridicule and abuse, and the swift setting aside of those rule changes. The Law of Unintended Consequences is all-pervasive.

I suppose an EPO fee to be paid on each and every Auxiliary Request (or after the first fifteen Requests) would require an Intergovernmental Conference to implement. But it might curb the worst excesses of AR proliferation. Consider how Americans, otherwise willing to stump up large amounts of money, baulk at giving the EPO any claims fees at all. Sometimes, it is best to approach public policy objectives obliquely rather than explicitly. By a nudge rather than a prohibition.

Bloggers, one more thing to think about, when whingeing that these new Rules are anti-patentee.

Might this not be the “hidden agenda” behind the rule changes? We live in times where a lot of influential people see each and every patent as an unwanted restraint of trade, so that the sheer numbers of issued patents has to cropped down to a minimum, regardless what inventors have against that public policy objective. Get rid of all “trivial” patents at all costs, they demand. Uphold only those where the contribution to the art is, from the outset, the application as filed on the priority date, self-evident, substantial and clear.

If so, those pushing for implementation of the rule changes will be delighted with this assessment by members of the Hoffmann Eitle firm.

We don’t suppose that the BoA is going away; after all, the UPC/A is pretty much dead and it’s not getting anywhere. But in the absence or lack of such ‘rubber-stamping authority’ (fast track for injunctions, raids and penalties) the EPO’s management is at least hoping to undermine other form of patent quality control. Who will suffer? Europe.

Links 7/12/2018: GNU Guix, GuixSD 0.16.0, GCC 7.4, PHP 7.3.0 Released

Friday 7th of December 2018 09:11:43 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
  • Server
    • “The power of Kubernetes & OpenShift lies not only in the capabilities but also in the broad ecosystem of products”

      Last month, Red Hat announced the general availability of OpenShift Container Platform 3.11 – an important release because it incorporates the first wave of technology from the CoreOS acquisition. We talked to Diane Mueller, Red Hat’s director of Community Development for OpenShift about the importance of this release, their plan to continue innovating both in and around Kubernetes and Operators & more.

    • Exploring Stretch Clusters for Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated

      Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated has evolved as an effective way to consume OpenShift as a managed service in the public cloud. As we continue to collect feedback from customers, partners, and internal users, we’re excited to be able to present some substantial improvements to the offering, effective this month. I want to focus mainly on the new options available for new OpenShift Dedicated clusters, along with new features that are now available for all OpenShift Dedicated deployments.

    • Reasons to Scale Horizontally

      Scaling vertically is also known as “scaling up”, whereas horizontal scaling is known as “scaling out.” So vertical scaling is adding more resources to a single node in a system, and horizontal scaling is the process of adding more nodes to a system.

    • Kubernetes how you want it: How enhancements to Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated can lower barriers to container adoption in the public cloud

      There’s no shortage of data pointing to the growth of Linux container and cloud-native applications. According to a recent survey from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), many of the Kubernetes deployments underpinning these workloads are taking place in public clouds. While Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform provides the industry’s most comprehensive enterprise Kubernetes platform for on-premise and hybrid cloud containerized workloads, we also enable organizations to consume OpenShift-as-a-service with Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated.

      Today, we’re adding enhancements to Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated, from instance types to updated pricing and new models allowing for OpenShift Dedicated to be deployed on customer’s cloud subscriptions. This is designed to provide more flexibility to customers and help make it easier for them to deploy containerized applications on enterprise Kubernetes in the public cloud.

    • Unfurling StarlingX: OpenStack’s distributed cloud for the edge

      Inspired by mumuration – the majestic self-organising, self-directed movement of flocks of starling birds – StarlingX backs itself as the open source software solution for the edge. The Stack spoke to two key pillars of the project – Wind River and Intel – to understand why they are pushing the edge open source

      The stage was set for StarlingX when Intel announced it was selling off Wind River in May this year. Not long after the pair announced they would be contributing code from Wind River’s Titanium cloud product to the OpenStack Foundation. StarlingX v1 arrived a few months later: a fully integrated software stack that provides edge cloud infrastructure using OpenStack, with Kubernetes support expected in time for the next update in March 2019.

    • Why Service Providers Should Invest in OpenStack Cloud

      451 Research notes in its report, “OpenStack: Enabler of Digital Transformation—How Service Providers Can Benefit,” that public cloud providers may not be suitable for every scenario. Customers could be concerned about recurring license or usage costs, data protection or regulatory requirements, or security issues—all of which limit the use of public cloud and proprietary technology models.

    • Scylla Summit 2018 write-up

      The ScyllaDB guys of course couldn’t avoid the Kubernetes frenzy so Moreno Garcia gave a lot of feedback and tips on how to operate Scylla on docker with minimal performance degradation.

      Kubernetes has been designed for stateless applications, not stateful ones and Docker does some automatic magic that have rather big performance hits on Scylla. You will basically have to play with affinities to dedicate one Scylla instance to run on one server with a “retain” reclaim policy.

      Remember that the official Scylla docker image runs with dev-mode enabled by default which turns off all performance checks on start. So start by disabling that and look at all the tips and literature that Moreno has put online!

    • How Docker Engine Works to Enable Containers
    • Open Outlook: Partner Ecosystem

      Last October leading up to our 2018 North America Partner conference, I shared with you the journey we are on to transform our partner experience. But that journey is more than the destination alone, how we got to where we are is just as important. I want to take this time to reflect on the last year and look into the future and where we can go with our partners. If I had to boil it down into a few themes for our partner ecosystem it would be hybrid cloud, the midmarket and verticals opportunity, and digital transformation.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E39 – The Thirty-Nine Steps

      This week we’ve been flashing devices and getting a new display. We discuss Huawei developing its own mobile OS, Steam Link coming to the Raspberry Pi, Epic Games laucnhing their own digital store and we round up the community news.

      It’s Season 11 Episode 39 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

    • Destination Linux EP99 – ASCII And You Shall Receive

      On this episode of Destination Linux, we discuss some distro news with VyOS & Fedora. We have great follow up regarding the kernel performance killer news we discussed last week. Some very big updates are coming from great software projects like Blender & Kodi. Later in the show, we check out some of Zeb’s favourite type of games! We also talk about the Plasma Mobile related news from Necuno Solutions. All that and much more including our Tips, Tricks and Software Spotlight picks!

    • At Your Serverless

      e still servers—the basics of the internet aren’t changing. But what can developers accomplish when someone else handles the servers?

      Serverless computing makes it easy for beginners to deploy applications and makes work more efficient for the pros. Andrea Passwater shares how convenient it can be to abstract away (or remove from view) the infrastructure components of development. But as with any convenience, going serverless has tradeoffs. Rodric Rabbah explains that going serverless can mean giving up control of your deployment and restricts your ability to respond to problems—which is why he helped create Apache OpenWhisk, an open source serverless environment framework. And Himanshu Pant considers when to use serverless services.

      Serverless computing should be about developer empowerment. But we have to stay curious about the big picture—even as we simplify our toolbox.

  • Kernel Space
    • On Linus’ Return to Kernel Development

      On October 23, 2018, Linus Torvalds came out of his self-imposed isolation, pulling a lot of patches from the git trees of various developers. It was his first appearance on the Linux Kernel Mailing List since September 16, 2018, when he announced he would take a break from kernel development to address his sometimes harsh behavior toward developers. On the 23rd, he announced his return, which I cover here after summarizing some of his pull activities.

      For most of his pulls, he just replied with an email that said, “pulled”. But in one of them, he noticed that Ingo Molnar had some issues with his email, in particular that Ingo’s mail client used the iso-8859-1 character set instead of the more usual UTF-8. Linus said, “using iso-8859-1 instead of utf-8 in this day and age is just all kinds of odd. It looks like it was all fine, but if Mutt has an option to just send as utf-8, I encourage everybody to just use that and try to just have utf-8 everywhere. We’ve had too many silly issues when people mix locales etc and some point in the chain gets it wrong.”

    • Another Linux 4.20 Performance Regression Has Now Been Addressed (THP)

      The bumpy Linux 4.19~4.20 road continues but at least another performance regression is now crossed off.

      Google’s David Rientjes has landed a patch in mainline Linux 4.20 Git as of yesterday that restores node-locale hugepage allocations. Changes to Transparent Huge-Pages, which THP itself was designed to improve performance and make it easier to utilize huge-pages, had caused a performance regression to be introduced back during the 4.20 merge window.

    • Revised High Resolution Scroll Wheel Support For Logitech/Microsoft Mice On Linux

      Originally slated for the current Linux 4.20 kernel cycle was high-resolution scroll wheel support for Logitech mice. Just a short time after merging, the support was reverted as it ended up breaking support for some existing devices. Fortunately, the revised implementation is progressing and perhaps will be ready for Linux 4.21.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Facebook, Google, and Uber Join Open Source Compliance Project OpenChain

        Facebook, Google, and Uber today all joined the OpenChain project. The project, which is hosted by The Linux Foundation, is working toward a standard for open source compliance in the supply chain.

        As open source implementation becomes increasingly prevalent in enterprises, it can be challenging to meet compliance requirements and to deploy the software throughout the supply chain. According to Shane Coughlan, program manager at OpenChain, this is important for a number of reasons. “The core one is to ensure a company is meeting its obligations under a license and has the right to distribute code,” he said. “Failure to do this can result in product delays, brand damage, and legal risk.”

        The project was formed in 2015 to create an overarching standard for monitoring and developing compliance programs for open source. The OpenChain community is comprised of a number of organizations located across Asia, Europe, and North America. This includes Arm, Cisco, Comcast, Qualcomm, Adobe, Toshiba, and GitHub, among others.

      • Linux Foundation’s OpenChain project welcomes Google, Facebook and Uber

        The Linux Foundation’s OpenChain project helps companies find ways to comply with open-source licensing requirements. Today at the Open Compliance Summit in Yokohama, Japan, it announced Google, Facebook and Uber have joined the project as platinum members.

        As platinum members, the three companies become part of the governing board. Shane Coughlan, OpenChain general manager, says as the project has matured, this a logical point for three large technology companies to come on board.

        “Facebook, Google and Uber are perfect new additions for this point, as we move towards becoming a formal industry standard and scaling very significantly across multiple markets. In particular, we are making sure that we can clearly communicate the advantages of OpenChain, and we can clearly show that diversity and the knowledge of our board, as well,” Coughlan told TechCrunch.

      • OpenChain Project Gains Facebook, Google and Uber as Platinum Members

        The OpenChain Project, which builds trust in open source by making open source license compliance simpler and more consistent, announced today at Open Compliance Summit that Facebook, Google and Uber have joined as platinum members. The only standard for open source compliance in the supply chain, OpenChain provides a specification as well as overarching processes, policies and training that companies need to be successful.

        Every day companies consume billions of lines of open source software through their supply chains as they build exciting new products and services. One key challenge as code flows between companies is ensuring the relevant license requirements are met in a timely and effective manner. Many organizations seek to address similar compliance issues in a similar manner, providing an excellent opportunity for consolidation and harmonization.

        The OpenChain Project provides companies with a consistent way to address these challenges. At the heart of the project is a specification, an overarching standard for how companies of all sizes, whether in physical products, in the cloud or internally, can deal with open source compliance.

        Running some of the largest data centers, platforms and cloud infrastructure in the world, Facebook, Google and Uber use a considerable amount of open source software in their businesses and are joining the OpenChain project to proactively manage open source across their supply chains.

      • The Linux Foundation and Coursera Launch New Specialization for Open Source, Linux and Git

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced today that enrollment for a new 4-course specialization, Open Source Software Development, Linux and Git is now open. Offered through the world’s largest online platform for higher education, Coursera, students will attain the skills and knowledge needed to work comfortably and productively in open source development communities; have a good understanding of the Linux environment, as well as methods and tools required to successfully use it; and know how to use Git, the distributed version control system. This is the first time The Linux Foundation and Coursera have partnered to provide training opportunities.

        Developed by the Linux Foundation’s Director of Training, Jerry Cooperstein, The Open Source Software Development, Linux and Git specialization is a remote learning program designed to give students a strong foundation of skills for working in open source development communities. It is designed for experienced computer users and developers who are looking to enter the world of open source development.

      • Cloud Foundry, Cloud Native, and Entering a Multi-Platform World with Abby Kearns

        When asked what she meant by multi-platform in the context of cloud, Kearns explained, “Multi-platform means that enterprises would want a variety of platforms for a variety of application workloads. There’s never going to be one technology that solves everything. It’s not going to be Cloud Foundry or Kubernetes; it’s going to be a mix. At the end of the day, enterprises are broad and complex. They have evolving needs. They want a mix of technologies that complement each other.”

        However, multi-platform brings its own set of challenges. “Technology is the easy part, my big worry is people getting caught up in the hype of something new and then they want to have it. Then they want to have the next shiny thing,” she said.

        When you get caught up in that hype cycle, you lose focus on what you need to do. Enterprises need to be aware of this and must ask themselves what do their business need to do? What are the outcomes they expect? How do they leverage technology to achieve that?

        “I think taking a step back and asking ourselves what are we really trying to solve,” she said. “I think just for me, sometimes it is — take a breath, pause and think, okay, where, where are we going and why?”

      • 2019 Predictions About Artificial Intelligence That Will Make Your Head Spin

        First, Ibrahim Haddad, Director of Research at The Linux Foundation says that there are two key areas to watch.

        “2019 is going to be the year of open source AI,” predicts Haddad. “We’re already seeing companies begin to open source their internal AI projects and stacks, and I expect to see this accelerate in the coming year.” He says that the reason for such a move is that it increases innovation, enables faster time-to-market and lower costs. “The cost of building a platform is high, and organizations are realizing the real value is in the models, training data and applications. We’re going to see harmonization around a set of critical projects creating a comprehensive open source stack for AI, machine learning and deep learning.”

    • Graphics Stack
      • It Looks Like We Won’t See An Open-Source NVIDIA Vulkan Driver This Year (Nouveau)

        While at the start of the year Nouveau developers expressed their hope to create a basic open-source NVIDIA Vulkan driver this calendar year, it doesn’t look like it’s panning out.

        There is work certainly progressing in that direction thanks to Red Hat’s Karol Herbst and others working on SPIR-V/compute support for Nouveau, which is the fundamental IR also needed by Vulkan. In fact, back in August Karol Herbst did publish some early bits of a Nouveau Vulkan driver, but there hasn’t been any direct public activity to report on since that point.

      • The Radeon RX 590 Is Finally Running Strong On Linux

        It took the better part of a month since the debut of the latest Polaris hardware refresh, but with the latest AMDGPU kernel driver patch posted today, the AMD Radeon RX 590 now appears to be in great shape with the open-source Radeon graphics driver stack for Linux.

        A few days ago I wrote about a few kernel patches and new firmware binaries for getting the Radeon RX 590 working on Linux. That was the case only to find that under 3D load, there were GPU hangs. With a new patch posted today, those hangs under load are corrected.

      • A Final Batch Of DRM-Misc-Next Updates Before Linux 4.21

        With time winding down before the release of Linux 4.20 and the opening of the Linux 4.21 merge window, a final drm-misc-next pull request was submitted this week for staging in DRM-Next ahead of the 4.21 kernel cycle.

        In general there is already a lot of new features piling up for Linux 4.21 and this latest DRM-Misc-Next pull request has some more items worth mentioning.

      • The Intel Linux Discrete GPU Driver Updated — For Their Two Decade Old i740

        While we are all super anxious to learn more about the Intel discrete graphics card offerings planned for their initial debut in 2020, in representing the beauty of open-source, there was an open-source Linux display driver update on Thursday for their “original” discrete card: the Intel740.

        Yesterday marked the xf86-video-i740 1.4.0 driver release, the open-source X.Org driver that supports the original Intel 740 display hardware as Intel’s only released discrete graphics chip up to this point. That was two decades ago, but in showing the possibilities by open-source software, there’s this new display driver release.

    • Benchmarks
      • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Linux Gaming Benchmarks

        While we have delivered many Linux benchmarks the past number of weeks from the GeForce RTX 2070 and GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, up until recently we didn’t have access to the RTX 2080 that is the card positioned between those two current consumer Turing graphics cards. In kicking off our RTX 2080 Linux benchmarking, here is a look at the Linux gaming performance compared to an assortment of AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards tested on Ubuntu Linux while in the days ahead will be the OpenCL/CUDA tests and more.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Zafiro Icon – A New Set Of Flat Icon Theme Pack With Light Colors For Linux Desktops

      Zafiro icons is minimalist icons created with the flat-desing technique, utilizing washed out colors and always accompanied by white.

      This icon set looks good and awesome.

      It’s a new set of flat icon pack and it’s not based on any other product.

      I felt it’s similar to Paper Icon and you can get that by navigation to the corresponding link.

      Since it’s new set of icon and the developer is requesting us to report for any missing application related icons and not for other categories.

      If any one fork this icon pack then the developer would feel that his work got recognized.

      This icons are compatible with most of the Linux desktop environments such as Gnome, Unity, Cinnamon, Mate, Lxde, Xfce and others.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Cutelyst 2.6.0 released! Now on VCPKG and buildroot

        Cutelyst, a Qt Web Framework has upped to 2.6.0. This release if full of important bug fixes and is the best version when targeting Windows OS so far. It reached 5 years old, 440 stars on GitHub and since the last release has had many users asking questions, reporting issues and making pull requests.

        Until now Windows support was a thing I mostly trusted Appveyor compiling and running tests fine, but this changed a bit in this release, I got a freelance job where some terminals would be editing images to be printed on T-Shirts, then they sent their art to a central server which receives and print, so, after I finished the QtQuick application and managed to convince them of running the terminals on KDE/Plasma as it was basically a kiosk full screen application I went on writing the server part.

        Using Cutelyst on the server was a perfect match, the process was a Qt Widgets application, that, when linked to Cutelyst::WSGI could start listening all on the same process without issues, every terminal were connected via websockets protocol, which was just awesome, whenever I changed a terminal config I could see it changing instantly on the terminal, QWebSocketServer class could indeed do the same, but, to create the T-Shirt Art Fonts and Pictures needed to be “installed” on the terminal. Now with HTTP capabilities I simply exported all those folders and the whenever I sent a new JSON with config to the terminals, it contained the URLs of all these files which where updated in a blink.

      • www.kde.org

        It’s not uncommon to come across some dusty corner of KDE which hasn’t been touched in ages and has only half implemented features. One of the joys of KDE is being able to plunge in and fix any such problem areas. But it’s quite a surprise when a high profile area of KDE ends up unmaintained. www.kde.org is one such area and it was getting embarrassing. February 2016 we had a sprint where a new theme was rolled out on the main pages making the website look fresh and act responsively on mobiles but since then, for various failures of management, nothing has happened. So while the neon build servers were down for shuffling to a new machine I looked into why Plasma release announcements were updated but not Frameworks or Applications announcments. I’d automated Plasma announcements a while ago but it turns out the other announcements are still done manually, so I updated those and poked the people involved. Then of course I got stuck looking at all the other pages which hadn’t been ported to the new theme. On review there were not actually too many of them, if you ignore the announcements, the website is not very large.

        Many of the pages could be just forwarded to more recent equivalents such as getting the history page (last update in 2003) to point to timeline.kde.org or the presentation slides page (last update for KDE 4 release) to point to a more up to date wiki page.

        Others are worth reviving such as KDE screenshots page, press contacts, support page. The contents could still do with some pondering on what is useful but while they exist we shouldn’t pretend they don’t so I updated those and added back links to them.

  • Distributions
    • Screenshots/Screencasts
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Tumbleweed Rolls with Package Updates of Git, Virtualbox, OpenSSH

        openSUSE’s rolling release Tumbleweed had a total of five snapshots this week and is preparing for an update to the KDE Plasma 5.14.4 packages in forthcoming snapshots.

        The five Tumbleweed snapshots this week brought the 5.19.5 Linux Kernel, which was the only package updated in the 20181130 snapshot. The kernel-source 4.19.5 package added a force option for the pciserial device for x86 architecture and fixed HiperSockets sniffer for s390 architecture.

        The most recently released snapshot, 20181204, had more than a dozen packages updated. GNOME’s application for manage their Flickr image hosting accounts, frogr 1.5, fixed issues with the content and installation of the AppData file and moved the functionality menu. GNOME’s goffice had a version bump to 0.10.44. Various rubygem packages were updated and the most significant change was of the packages was that rubygem-pry 0.12.2 dropped support for Rubinius. Both python-boto3 1.9.57 and python-botocore 1.12.57 had multiple application programming interface (API) changes. The obs-service-set_version 0.5.11 package needed “python suff” and now allow running tests with python3.

        The first snapshot to arrive in December was snapshot 20181203. Among the package changes were an update to checkmedia 4.1, which fixed digest calculation in tagmedia, GNOME’s framework for media discovery grilo 0.3.7, and distributed compiler icecream 1.2, which made load calculations better and also cleaned up the general code. A python-docutils build dependency was added with cifs-utils 6.8 and elfutils 0.175 fixed three Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures issues. Major changes came with the man 2.8.4 package. One of the changes relies on decompressors reading from their standard input rather than redundantly passing them the input file on their command line; this works better with downstream AppArmor confinement of decompressors. Virtualbox 5.2.22 fixed a regression in the Core Audio backend causing a hang when returning from host sleep when processing input buffers and webkit2gtk3 2.22.4 fixed serval crashes and rendering issues and Fix a crash when using graphics library Cairo versions between 1.15 and 1.16.0.

      • Google, Facebook and Uber Join the OpenChain Project, ownCloud’s 2nd-Gen End-to-End Encryption for ownCloud Enterprise Now Available, Tuxedo Computers Announces Infinity Book Pro 13 Coming Soon, Five openSUSE Tumbleweed Snapshots and PHP 7.3 Released

        openSUSE’s rolling release Tumbleweed had five snapshots this week, and it’s preparing for an update to the KDE Plasma 5.14.4 packages in upcoming snapshots. Package updates include kernel 4.19.5, GNOME’s Flickr app, VirtualBox 5.2.22, an update to Firefox 63.0.3 and more.

    • Fedora
      • Play with NFC HAT I

        The other day I got an NFC HAT for SBC to play with. And I started to play with it on my Raspberry Pi last week.

        Things did not go smoothly, which is expected. But some part of it still goes beyond my expection.

        So what’s it? It’s a NFC development board based on NXP PN7150. You can buy it from taobao. It’s header is compatible with Raspberry Pi, and minimal modification to use with Salted Fish Pi. As I already have Raspberry Pi 1/2/3, I simply plug it onto Raspberry Pi 2 running with Fedora.

      • Fedora rawhide – fixed bugs 2018/10
      • Fedora rawhide – fixed bugs 2018/09
      • Fedora 29 : Shotcut video editor.
    • Debian Family
      • My Free Software Activities in November 2018

        Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Canonical and Dell EMC provide certified, production-ready Kubernetes solution

            Dell EMC and Canonical today announced the continued evolution of their long-standing partnership to bring a tested and validated container orchestration solution to market through a reference architecture framework that helps organisations quickly and confidently implement Kubernetes technologies into production.

            The partnership brings to market a reliable solution founded upon Dell’s 14th generation of PowerEdge servers and ethernet switches, Canonical’s Charmed Kubernetes, and leveraging Software Defined Storage (Ceph).

          • Canonical launches MicroK8s – deploy Kubernetes in seconds

            Canonical has released MicroK8s – a fast and efficient upstream Kubernetes delivered as a single snap package that installs on 42 flavours of Linux. With a small disk and memory footprint, MicroK8s provides an efficient way to get started with Kubernetes, whether on the desktop, the server, an edge cloud, or IoT device.

          • Canonical widens Kubernetes support with kubeadm

            Canonical is pleased to announce commercial support for Kubernetes clusters deployed using kubeadm. Companies using kubeadm to deploy Kubernetes in production, development or multi-stage environments, can immediately benefit from enterprise support through Ubuntu Advantage for Kubernetes on a per-node basis. Support for official Debian packages released by the CNCF and used with kubeadm is also included.

            For both new and experienced users of Kubernetes, kubeadm offers the ability to get Kubernetes running in any Linux environment. Using kubeadm allows for fine-grained exploration of Kubernetes capabilities, and it allows developers and operators to have better visibility into the low-level mechanics of setting up Kubernetes. These capabilities make kubeadm a great option for those who need in-depth operational experience and offers immediate engagement with the Kubernetes operator community.

          • Canonical and Supermicro collaborate to advance enterprises’ Kubernetes adoption

            Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, and Supermicro, a global leader in enterprise computing, storage, networking and green technologies, today announce a joint offering helping enterprises to accelerate the design and deployment of their Kubernetes stack through an optimised, pre-certified solution.

          • How to harness big data for maximum business value

            Despite most businesses understanding the power and competitive advantage they could gain from harnessing their big data more effectively and leveraging it more efficiently, it’s not an easy goal to achieve.

            That’s why we’ve partnered with Spicule to co-present, ‘How to harness big data for maximum business value’, a webinar dealing with the challenges of gathering and processing data.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Linux Mint 19.1 betas released in anticipation for full release this month

              The Linux Mint project has finally released the beta builds of Linux Mint 19.1 in preparation forthe final release which is due by Christmas. The betas are available in three flavours, Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce. The team has already published many of the new improvements in previous blog posts but now they’ve also announced a new feature which will allow you to clean up old kernels which is handy as the boot sector was getting filled easily in Linux Mint 19.

              With Linux Mint 19, a change was made that will suggest users install the kernel updates along with other patches, which wasn’t the case before. Over time the new kernels would get installed and old kernels would stick around unless you went into the kernels manager in the Update Manager and removed them manually, one at a time. This caused users to get warnings that their boot sector was nearly full. Now, there is a “Remove old kernels” button in the kernel manager which will let you select old kernels that you want to remove and delete them. The new manager also lets you know the status of a kernel, for example, if it is unsupported, superseded, or supported, and how long for.

            • Ubuntu-based Linux Mint 19.1 ‘Tessa’ Beta now available with Cinnamon, MATE, or Xfce

              Windows 10 is getting worse every day. I used to call it a dumpster fire, but now I think it has devolved into an overturned “Porta-Potty” following all-day tailgating at an NFL stadium. Just recently, we learned that Microsoft is causing blue screens of death on its own Surface Book 2 hardware due to a bad update. Problematic updates are just par for the course for Windows 10 these days — a crap (pun intended) shoot.

              If you are tired of living in constant fear that your computer will break due to a faulty Windows update, it is time to finally evolve and switch to a Linux-based operating system. There are countless great choices from which to choose, but for many, Linux Mint is computing nirvana. It is stable, fast, and looks great. Regardless of which desktop environment you choose — Cinnamon, MATE, or Xfce — you will be treated to a great user experience. Today, the upcoming Linux Mint 19.1 (named “Tessa”) achieves Beta status.

            • Linux Mint 19.1 “Tessa” Xfce – BETA Release

              Linux Mint 19.1 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2023. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

            • Linux Mint 19.1 “Tessa” MATE – BETA Release

              Linux Mint 19.1 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2023. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

            • Linux Mint 19.1 “Tessa” Cinnamon – BETA Release

              Linux Mint 19.1 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2023. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

            • Linux Distro Spotlight: What I Love About Ubuntu Budgie

              recently received a custom-built Linux PC to evaluate from Tuxedo Computers (you can catch me live-tweeting some impressions and results on Twitter, or stay tuned here for a full review). This small form factor rig came with Ubuntu Budgie pre-installed*, and it’s been my first opportunity to spend a serious chunk of time with this official Ubuntu flavor.

  • Devices/Embedded