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Links 9/12/2018: New Linux Stable Releases (Notably Linux 4.19.8), RC Coming, and Unifont 11.0.03

Posted in News Roundup at 3:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



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.


    • 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


  • 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.


    • 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

Posted in News Roundup at 4:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 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.


      • 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.


  • 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.


Links 7/12/2018: GNU Guix, GuixSD 0.16.0, GCC 7.4, PHP 7.3.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 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

Free Software/Open Source

  • Is open source wealth distribution fair?

    If wealth is the abundance of valuable possessions, open source has a wealth of software. While no one “owns” open source, some are better than others at converting this communal wealth to personal wealth.

    Many open source project maintainers who produce free open source software do not have a model for deriving income from the assets they have created. However, companies that use open source software to enhance their products and services convert this valuable asset into income.

  • ETSI Open Source MANO announces Release Five, 5G ready

    ETSI announced the availability of OSM Release Five, which is an advancement towards 5G network deployments and their orchestration by telecom operators. In Release Five, OSM extends its orchestration functionalities beyond virtual domains, expanding them across transport networks, as well as physical and hybrid network elements. OSM Release Five embraced a new micro-service architecture to facilitate the integration of an impressive number of new features, making Release Five suited for 5G scenarios, distributed and Edge deployments, and any kind of Network as a Service (NaaS) offer.

  • Despite risks and side effects: “Open source will become even more important in the future” [Ed: Synopsys are anti-FOSS; here they are promoting the “risk” talking point; they hired all the Black Duck staff after a Microsoft marketing man had founded this anti-GPL firm.]
  • Docker CEO Steve Singh on the firm’s drive to enterprise and the future of open source

    Which problems lie in the future, and what are customers starting to say now that Docker might have to further address in the future? Singh explains that there is a growing tendency for companies to want to share their applications, whether they’re legacy or brand new, with other businesses. Taking those apps out of their environments, containerising them and then making them shareable is somewhere Docker could increasingly fit in.

    “If there’s a great piece of technology that moves money from location A to location B you might ask yourself, well, why do I have to rewrite that piece of technology? Why can’t I share that technology if somebody else has written a fantastic service for funds transfer?

  • Comcast’s Howald: Open source is key to service providers’ future

    Low latency services and applications, the constant need for more bandwidth, IoT, and augmented reality and virtual reality services are not just dim possibilities for service providers, they’re constant drumbeats that are getting louder.

    Speaking in a keynote session Wednesday morning at ONF Connect, Comcast’s Rob Howald, vice president of access architecture, said it’s no longer business as usual for carriers.

    Service providers need to do things differently to meet the onslaught of challenges, but they also need to provide a better customer experience while also not having an impact on the current services, Howald said.

  • Comcast Leads Trellis, an Open Source Data Center Switching Fabric

    At the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) Connect event this week, Ron Howald, VP of network architecture at Comcast, copped to the fact that Google forced service providers such as Comcast to find ways to deliver faster internet speeds. “Google had quite a bit to do with setting the bar when they started with Google Fiber,” said Howald.

  • Brahma Wallet Officially Released Version 1.0: Open Source, Efficient and User Friendly

    The general version of Brahma Wallet was officially released on December 1st, 2018. It can be adapted to Android 5.0 or above mobile phones. This is another product of Brahma OS besides the Brahma Image. It also demonstrates that Brahma OS is building the underlying platform of high-performance block chain. At the same time, Brahma OS is building and perfecting the ecological system of Brahma OS decentralized operating system which was seamlessly docked with digital asset management.

  • Open Source Compliance Projects Unite Under New ACT Group

    As open source software releases and customer adoption continue to increase, many companies underestimate what’s involved with going open source. It’s not only a matter of volunteering for the encouraged, but optional, upstream contributions to FOSS projects, but also complying with the legal requirements of open source licenses. Software increasingly includes a diverse assortment of open source code with a variety of licenses, as well as a mix of proprietary code. Sorting it all out to can be a major hassle, but the alternative is potential legal action and damaged relations with the open source community.

    The Linux Foundation has just launched an Automated Compliance Tooling (ACT) project to help companies comply with open source licensing requirements. The new group consolidates its existing FOSSology and Software Package Data Exchange (SPDX) projects and adds two new projects: Endocode’s QMSTR for integrating open source compliance toolchain within build systems and VMware’s Tern, an inspection tool for identifying open source components within containers.

  • The Road Ahead for Open Source

    Linux and the open source business model are far different today than many of the early developers might have hoped. Neither can claim a rags-to-riches story. Rather, their growth cycles have been a series of hit-or-miss milestones.

    The Linux desktop has yet to find a home on the majority of consumer and enterprise computers. However, Linux-powered technology has long ruled the Internet and conquered the cloud and Internet of Things deployments. Both Linux and free open source licensing have dominated in other ways.

  • Wipro, Alfresco Expand Partnership to Offer Open Source Based Digital Transformation Capabilities
  • Wipro expands global partnership with open source software provider Alfresco
  • Crypto Giant Bitmain Open Sources KYC Software Tool ‘Coconut’
  • Crypto Giant Bitmain Open Sources KYC Software Tool ‘Coconut’
  • Open source: a slow rise to the top

    Is the debate over? Are we no longer fighting over open source versus propriety software?

    Thomas Lee, CEO, Wingu: If we look inside our customer base, we are seeing widespread adoption of open source technology. But I think it’s also clear that propriety is not going away. I’ve seen a company recently take out all its open source software in favour of propriety. Clearly, the debate isn’t going away.

    Wilhelm Strydom, relationship manager, Obsidian Systems: Is there room for proprietary stuff? Clearly there is if you look at the success of the most propriety vendors out there, in terms of not only software, but hardware as well.

    But if you talk back-end, what happens behind that interface, I don’t think there’s much of a battle going on. The battle has mostly been won by open source. This can be seen in some of the propriety guys adopting open source principals. In this respect, open source has clearly been the winner.

  • ETSI Open Source MANO announces release FIVE, 5G ready

    ETSI is excited to announce the availability of OSM Release FIVE. This new Release is a huge step towards 5G network deployments and their end-to-end orchestration by telecom operators. In Release FIVE, OSM extends its orchestration capabilities beyond virtual domains, expanding them across transport networks; as well as physical and hybrid network elements.


    Thus, among a large number of new features, the OSM Release FIVE stands out by bringing complete support of 5G Network Slices; dynamic creation of inter-datacentre connections across heterogeneous Wide Area Networks (WAN), extended support of Service Function Chaining (SFC); policy-based closed loop control, extended monitoring capabilities, including VNF metrics collection; and support of physical and hybrid network functions, (PNFs and HNFs respectively).

    In addition, Release FIVE includes significant enhancements in terms of user experience, such as a brand new GUI-based Composer for network functions and services, an improved dashboard for logs, metrics and alarms, and much faster start-up and responsiveness.

  • FOSSID Establishes First Independent Mirror of World’s Largest Source Code Archive

    FOSSID and Software Heritage today announced that they have signed an agreement to establish the first independent mirror of the largest source code archive in the world.

  • Events

    • OpenShift Commons Gathering Preview – Your Personal Prelude to Kubecon/Seattle

      Over 100+ companies will be in attending next week’s OpenShift Commons Gathering which is co-located with KubeCon and CloudNativeCon in Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center. The OpenShift Commons Gathering brings together experts from all over the world to discuss real implementations of container technologies, best practices for cloud native infrastructure and the upstream projects that make up the OpenShift ecosystem.

  • Web Browsers

    • With Plans to Switch to Chromium, Could Microsoft Edge Come to Linux?

      Microsoft’s love affair with open-source is showing no signs of a slow down, with the company announcing plans to rebuild its Edge web browser with Chromium.

      Edge is the default web browser on Windows 10, and helps power the “universal windows apps” experience.

    • Microsoft is building Edge on top of Chromium (open source version of Google Chrome

      It is official now. Microsoft is throwing away old code base of Edge browser and making next version of Edge browser on top of Chromium. The open source project behind Google Chrome is known as Chromium. Microsoft is building a Chromium browser to replace Edge on Windows 10 on both x86 and ARM-based systems.

    • Microsoft Edge: Making the web better through more open source collaboration [Ed: This is Microsoft. Whose browser was always proprietary. Whose abuses on the WWW are well documented. Yeah, lecture us now on "open source collaboration" (not freedom).]
    • Microsoft’s Edge browser moving to Chromium
    • Microsoft Confirms Edge will use Chromium Rendering Engine, Launches Insider Program
    • Goodbye, EdgeHTML

      Microsoft is officially giving up on an independent shared platform for the internet. By adopting Chromium, Microsoft hands over control of even more of online life to Google.

      This may sound melodramatic, but it’s not. The “browser engines” — Chromium from Google and Gecko Quantum from Mozilla — are “inside baseball” pieces of software that actually determine a great deal of what each of us can do online. They determine core capabilities such as which content we as consumers can see, how secure we are when we watch content, and how much control we have over what websites and services can do to us. Microsoft’s decision gives Google more ability to single-handedly decide what possibilities are available to each one of us.

    • Chrome

      • Google Chrome 71 now rolling out for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating system

        Google has announced its newly-released Chrome 71, the latest version of its web browser, is now rolling out for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems (OS), which aims to keep deceptive websites off.

        The latest version of Google’s browser was in the works over the past few months and has just left the beta programme.

        “The Chrome team is delighted to announce the promotion of Chrome 71 to the stable channel for Windows, Mac and Linux.” This will roll out over the coming days/weeks.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Future Releases Blog: Firefox Coming to the Windows 10 on Qualcomm Snapdragon Devices Ecosystem

        At Mozilla, we’ve been building browsers for 20 years and we’ve learned a thing or two over those decades. One of the most important lessons is putting people at the center of the web experience. We pioneered user-centric features like tabbed browsing, automatic pop-up blocking, integrated web search, and browser extensions for the ultimate in personalization. All of these innovations support real users’ needs first, putting business demands in the back seat.

        Mozilla is uniquely positioned to build browsers that act as the user’s agent on the web and not simply as the top of an advertising funnel. Our mission not only allows us to put privacy and security at the forefront of our product strategy, it demands that we do so. You can see examples of this with Firefox’s Facebook Container extension, Firefox Monitor, and its private by design browser data syncing features. This will become even more apparent in upcoming releases of Firefox that will block certain cross-site and third-party tracking by default while delivering a fast, personal, and highly mobile experience.

  • Databases

    • Multi-model databases are more juicy

      It sounds like a brand of orange juice… and its community edition is written in C++, but actually ArangoDB is a native multi-model database.

      ArangoDB Community Edition is available under open-source license… but news this week focuses on the release of core version 3.4 as a transactional database for developers.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeNAS 11.2 Released With Modern Web Interface, Improved Jails

      A new release of the FreeBSD+ZFS-based network attached storage operating system, FreeNAS, is now available for this platform developed by iXsystems.

      FreeNAS 11.2 brings a new and modern web interface developed using Angular+Javascript, Iocage replaces Warden for the jails and plug-in management, various new and improved plug-ins, new cloud integration options, improved VM management, various file-system enhancements thanks to using the latest OpenZFS, mobile and theming supports, and various other improvements.

    • FreeNAS 11.2 has ARRIVED!

      FreeNAS 11.2-RELEASE introduces a ton of new features, including a major revamp of the web interface, support for self-encrypting drives, and new, backwards-compatible REST and WebSocket APIs. This update also introduces iocage for improved Plugins and Jails management and simplified Plugin development. Our favorite updates are detailed below, and a full list of changes is available in the Release Notes.


    • GNU Guix and GuixSD 0.16.0 released

      We are pleased to announce the new release of GNU Guix and GuixSD, version 0.16.0! This release is (hopefully!) the last one before 1.0—we have been closing most key items for 1.0 over the last few months.

      The release comes with GuixSD ISO-9660 installation images, a virtual machine image of GuixSD, and with tarballs to install the package manager on top of your GNU/Linux distro, either from source or from binaries. Guix users can update by running guix pull.

    • GNU Guix/GuixSD 0.16 Released With Nearly 5K Commits

      A new release of the Guix transactional package manager and the GuixSD system distribution is now available.

      The Guix package manager has picked up support for various new sub-commands and a variety of minor enhancements.

    • GNU Guix & GuixSD 0.16.0 released

      We are pleased to announce the release of GNU Guix & GuixSD 0.16.0,
      representing 4,515 commits by 95 people over 5 months.

      This is hopefully the last release before 1.0.

      • About

      GNU Guix is a transactional package manager for the GNU system.
      The Guix System Distribution, GuixSD, is an advanced distribution
      of the GNU system.

      In addition to standard package management features, Guix supports
      transactional upgrades and roll-backs, unprivileged package
      management, and per-user profiles. GuixSD offers a declarative
      approach to operating system configuration management and is highly
      hackable. Guix uses low-level mechanisms from the Nix package
      manager, except that packages are defined as native Guile modules,
      using extensions to the Scheme language.

      GuixSD uses the Linux-Libre kernel and the GNU Shepherd init system.
      It can be used on an i686, x86_64, armv7, or aarch64 machine.

      It is also possible to use Guix on top of an already installed
      GNU/Linux system, including on armv7, aarch64, and mips64el.


    • Free Software Foundation Endorses Arch-based Hyperbola GNU/Linux

      The Free Software Foundation today came out with an endorsement of Hyperbola GNU/Linux to the organization’s small list of recommended Linux distributions.

      Hyperbola is a Linux distribution based upon Arch Linux but with using the Linux-libre kernel and other changes to ensure no non-free software and focused on long-term stability.

    • FSF adds Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre to list of endorsed GNU/Linux distributions

      The FSF’s list showcases GNU/Linux operating system distributions whose developers have made a commitment to follow its Guidelines for Free System Distributions. Each one includes and endorses exclusively free “as in freedom” software.

      After a thorough vetting process, the FSF concluded that Hyperbola, a long-term support simplicity-focused distribution based on Arch GNU/Linux, meets these criteria.

      “In a world where proprietary operating systems continually up the ante in terms of the abuse they heap on their users, adding another distribution to the list of fully free systems is a welcome development. Hyperbola represents another safe home for users looking for complete control over their own computing,” said John Sullivan, FSF’s executive director.

      “Hyperbola is a fully free distribution based on Arch snapshots and Debian development without nonfree software, documentation, or any type of support for the installation or execution of nonfree software. Unlike Arch, which is a rolling release distribution, Hyperbola is a long-term one focused on stability and security inspired from Debian and Devuan,” said André Silva, Hyperbola co-founder and developer.

    • GCC 7 Release Series

      The GNU project and the GCC developers are pleased to announce the release of GCC 7.4.

      This release is a bug-fix release, containing fixes for regressions in GCC 7.3 relative to previous releases of GCC.

    • GCC 7.4 Released With 100+ Bug Fixes

      For those still on the GCC7 stable series rather than the current GCC8 series that soon will be succeeded by GCC9, GCC 7.4 is available today.

      With GCC 7.4 being the first GCC7 update since v7.3 from this past January, there are a lot of regression/bug fixes. In fact, GNU Compiler Collection developers report that more than 100 bugs have been fixed in this latest stable point release.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Ground Breaking Decision In Open Source Software: The Versata Software Case

      An Open Source Software is a type of software with a source code which can be modified, enhanced and inspected by ANYONE. Source code is that part of a particular software program which empowers a person to alter how the software works or improve it by adding features or fixing parts that do not work properly. Differing from closed software, whereby only the person/organization that created the software has the capacity to alter it, OSS is preferred more and is a better option for the users than the former, granting them more freedom in relation to the software. Some prime examples of OSS are the Apache HTTP Server, the e-commerce platform osCommerce, internet browsers Mozilla Firefox and Chromium. Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn all release OSS so developers can share knowledge, create solutions, and contribute to stable and functional products. There are certain landmark cases in the field of open source software that hold paramount importance in deciding the future of the same as well as opening legal floodgates in its respect, one of which has been discussed at length below.


      The decisions arrived at these cases are important in a number of ways, primarily because it confirmed the working of the GPLv2 structure. Mark Radcliffe, a licensing expert and partner at law firm DLA Piper has rightly exclaimed that “The days of open source software free lunches are rapidly coming to an end, and that means enterprises that fail to stick to the terms of open source licenses can expect to be sued.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • A call for open research computation

      The next step is likely to be what’s now dubbed open research computation: publication of the software originally used to obtain and process scientific data, and to derive the output quoted in a paper. Validity and reproducibility of results are pivotal in the quest to converge on a universal truth (i.e. the scientific method), and represent an important driving force behind the movement toward open science.

  • Programming/Development

    • Create the third level for this pygame project

      In this article we are going to create the third level for our pygame project after we have created the previous two levels, the reason I create the third game level in this chapter is because this level is different from the second level which is only using the same enemy class to generate different type of enemy ship. In this chapter we are going to create a new enemy class which will act…

    • Python Pandas Groupby Tutorial
    • Everything you need to know about tree data structures

      When you first learn to code, it’s common to learn arrays as the “main data structure.”

    • Introducing Zato public API services

      Most users start to interact with Zato via its web-based admin console. This works very well and is a great way to get started with the platform.

      In terms of automation, the next natural step is to employ enmasse which lets one move data across environments using YAML import/export files.

      The third way is to use the API services – anything that can be done in web-admin or enmasse is also available via dedicated API services. Indeed, both web-admin and enmasse are clients of the same services that users can put to work in their own integration needs.

      The public API is built around a REST endpoint that accepts and produces JSON. Moreover, a purpose-built Python client can access all the services whereas an OpenAPI-based specification lets one generate clients in any language or framework that supports this popular format.

    • 6 steps to optimize software delivery with value stream mapping

      Do your efforts to improve software development fall short due to confusion and too much debate? Does your organization have a clear picture of what is achievable, and are you sure you’re moving in the right direction? Can you determine how much business value you’ve delivered so far? Are the bottlenecks in your process known? Do you know how to optimize your current process?

      If you are looking for a tool that will help you answer these questions, consider integrating value stream mapping and lean concepts into the way you deliver software.

    • Delete duplicate file with python program
    • Qt 5.12 LTS Released

      I’m really happy to announce that we will now fully support Qt for Python, making all of the Qt APIs available to Python developers. The tech preview is currently available for you to test, while the official release will follow shortly after Qt 5.12. Qt for Python originates from the PySide project that we have been hosting on qt-project.org for many years. Qt for Python supports most of Qt’s C++ APIs and makes them accessible to Python programmers. In short: Python developers now can also create complex graphical applications and user interfaces. You can find more details in the Qt for Python blog posts.

    • Qt 5.12 Released With Many Improvements, Joined By Qt Creator 4.8

      The Qt Company began shipping Qt 5.12 this morning as their latest long-term support version of the Qt5 tool-kit while also shipping Qt Creator 4.8 as their C++ focused integrated development environment.

      Qt 5.12 LTS is packing an updated Qt WebEngine, ECMAScript 7 support for QML, Qt 3D performance improvements, OpenGL ES 3.1 support in Qt 3D, Qt Wayland support for new protocols, full support for Qt Remote Objects, full support for the Qt WebGL Streaming Plugin, full support for Qt for Python, the second technology preview of Qt for WebAssembly, and tons of other enhancements. There’s pretty much something for everyone in this release.

    • PHP 7.3.0 Release Announcement

      The PHP development team announces the immediate availability of PHP 7.3.0. This release marks the third feature update to the PHP 7 series.

    • PHP 7.3.0 Released With Improved Performance, Foreign Function Interface

      PHP 7.3 is out today as the first big update in a year to the PHP7 programming language.

      PHP 7.3 introduces the Foreign Function Interface (FFI) to access functions/variables/structures from C within PHP, a platform independent function for accessing the system’s network interface information, an is_countable() function was added, WebP is now supported within the GD image create from string, updated SQLite integration, and a range of other improvements.

    • Remi Collet: PHP version 7.3.0 is released!

      RC6 was GOLD, so version 7.3.0 GA is just released, at planed date.

      A great thanks to all developers who have contributed to this new major and long awaiting version of PHP and thanks to all testers of the RC versions who have allowed us to deliver a good quality version.

      RPM are available in the remi-php72 repository for Fedora ≥ 27 and Enterprise Linux ≥ 6 (RHEL, CentOS) and as Software Collection in the remi-safe repository.

    • Rust 2018 is here… but what is it?

      This post was written in collaboration with the Rust Team (the “we” in this article). You can also read their announcement (coming soon) on their blog.

      Starting today, the Rust 2018 edition is in its first release. With this edition, we’ve focused on productivity… on making Rust developers as productive as they can be.

    • PyCon 2019 proposal submission deadline is fast approaching!

      The busy holiday season is upon us and before you know it the new year will be here. January 3rd AoE is the deadline to submit proposals. We’ve added a draft feature to proposals so you can begin your proposal submission now and come back to make final edits before the January 3rd deadline.

    • Dataquest: An Intro to Deep Learning in Python

      Deep learning is a type of machine learning that’s growing at an almost frightening pace. Nearly every projection has the deep learning industry expanding massively over the next decade. This market research report, for example, expects deep learning to grow 71x in the US and more than that globally over the next ten years. There’s never been a better time than now to get started.

    • Oliver Bestwalter for tox webinar next week

      Python has long distinguished itself with a culture of testing. In the last decade, two libraries have combined to give powerful testing in isolation — pytest and tox. The latter combines easily with pytest to give you a clean environment across test runs, including across multiple versions of Python.

      tox certainly counts as one of those things lots of PyCharm customers know they should know, but don’t yet know. To make it easy to break the ice we’ve invited Oliver Bestwalter to introduce tox in a PyCharm webinar. Oliver is the maintainer of tox and advocate for release automation in projects.

    • PyCharm 2018.3.1 Released with Various Bug Fixes

      PyCharm IDE released version 2018.3.1 one day ago with various bug fixes. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 16.04 and higher.

    • Intake for Cataloging Spark
    • 6 Lessons from Learning to Code
    • Auto incrementing IDs for MongoDB


  • 3 reasons blockchain will live up to its hype in healthcare

    Blockchain has emerged as one of the most promising technologies to address the fragmentation and inefficiencies that plague current healthcare delivery systems. Its distributed, real-time architecture promises faster processing and settlement of claims, lower transaction costs, easier management, and stronger security for electronic health records (EHRs), and improved patient outcomes.

  • IBM sells software portfolio including Notes and Domino to HCL for $1.8b

    The Indian giant has claimed it is picking up products that are in large growing areas, but they also include Notes.

  • Science

    • How much data in the world by 2025?

      Well, if my math is correct, and it could possibly be flawed, we can extrapolate the following:

      163 Zetabytes could hold 7.7 quadrillion clips (more than 7 with 15 zeroes)
      With an average length of 4.2 minutes that equals over 543 trillion hours of video.That is around 62 billion years of YouTube watching.

    • How The Iconic 1968 Earthrise Photo Changed Our Relationship To The Planet

      1968 was a crazy year, its events moving at a horrific pace. The Tet Offensive. The My Lai Massacre. Bobby Kennedy announcing the news that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. Bobby Kennedy’s assassination. Riots across urban America and outside the Democratic National Convention. The human drama seemed out of control in a way it hasn’t in the years since ― till now, of course.

      Which is why it’s both heartening and sad to think of the event that brought 1968 to a close and opened a new set of possibilities. Apollo 8 was orbiting the moon, its astronauts busy photographing landing zones for future missions. On the fourth orbit, Commander Frank Borman needed a navigational fix and decided to roll the craft away from the moon, tilting its windows toward the horizon. The shift gave him a sudden view of the Earth rising.

      “Oh, my God,” he said. “Here’s the Earth coming up.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • With Power to Kneecap Bold Demand, Incoming Democratic Tax Committee Chair Says Medicare for All ‘Not Realistic’

      “Neal will have near total control over what tax-related policies come to the House floor, including legislation that would create a Medicare for All healthcare system,” noted investigative reporter Eoin Higgins in a piece for Sludge on Wednesday. “Having Neal at the helm of the committee, rather than a more progressive member, makes it much less likely that the House of Representatives will vote on universal healthcare measures.”

      As Higgins documents, Neal—who has served as the top Ways and Means Democrat since 2016—has received more insurance industry cash throughout his career than any other member of the incoming Congress, including Republicans.

      This fact may help explain his recent attacks on supporters of Medicare for All, who he recently called on to be more “calm” in their pursuit of bold solutions to America’s deadly healthcare status quo.

      “I think that there is an approach that is a little more incremental in nature,” Neal said of his position on Medicare for All during an interview in August. “I understand aspiration… but the idea that overnight you’re going to take 20 percent of the American economy and transform it is not realistic.”

    • Life at Trump Speed

      I took my first hit of speed in 1970 during my freshman year in college. That little white pill — Dexedrine — was a revelation. It made whatever I was doing absolutely fascinating. Amphetamine sharpened my focus and banished all appetites except a hunger for knowledge. I spent that entire night writing 35 pages of hand-scrawled notes about a 35-page article by the philosopher Ludwig Feurbach, thereby convincing the professor who would become my advisor and mentor that I was absolutely fascinating.

      Speed was definitely not a respectable drug in those days. I bought mine from a seedy hippie who hung out on the edge of campus with some of my edgier friends. My college was probably one of the few in the country whose infirmary actually prescribed Dexedrine for its students, presumably to keep us from buying it from guys like him.

      Nowadays, respectable doctors all over the country prescribe speed for people with ADHD, under brands like Adderall and Ritalin. It does for them what it did for me — makes whatever they’re doing fascinating, allowing them to focus for many hours at a time. My students now don’t have to buy it on the street. They can cadge (or buy) it from friends with prescriptions. I sometimes wonder whether they think they have a choice about this, or whether it’s considered almost a dereliction of duty to write their papers without a chemical assist.

    • ‘Peak Amazon’ as Robot Sets Off Bear Spray, Sending 24 Fulfillment Center Workers to Hospital

      All told, 54 Amazon employees received medical attention because of the incident, according to multiple reports, which follow global strikes and demands from workers, advocates, and even lawmakers such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for the company—which is run by the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos—to improve workplace conditions, including warehouse safety.

      “Amazon’s automated robots put humans in life-threatening danger,” declared Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

      “This is another outrageous example of the company putting profits over the health and safety of their workers, and we cannot stand for this,” he added, emphasizing that as one of the world’s biggest companies, Amazon “cannot continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people’s lives at risk.”

    • Chemicals on our food: When “safe” may not really be safe

      Weed killers in wheat crackers and cereals, insecticides in apple juice and a mix of multiple pesticides in spinach, string beans and other veggies – all are part of the daily diets of many Americans. For decades, federal officials have declared tiny traces of these contaminants to be safe. But a new wave of scientific scrutiny is challenging those assertions.

      Though many consumers might not be aware of it, every year, government scientists document how hundreds of chemicals used by farmers on their fields and crops leave residues in widely consumed foods. More than 75 percent of fruits and more than 50 percent of vegetables sampled carried pesticides residues in the latest sampling reported by the Food and Drug Administration. Even residues of the tightly restricted bug-killing chemical DDT are found in food, along with a range of other pesticides known by scientists to be linked to a range of illnesses and disease. The pesticide endosulfan, banned worldwide because of evidence that it can cause neurological and reproductive problems, was also found in food samples, the FDA report said.

    • Living Apart, Coming Undone

      THE STENCH FROM Abraham Clemente’s apartment in Flatbush, Brooklyn, this summer was overwhelming. Maggot-infested scrambled eggs were strewn across the floor; a cantaloupe was so spoiled, it seemed to be melting. Feces were ground into the carpet.

      Clemente, 69 and schizophrenic, kept the shower and sink running for the “oxygen.” He blamed a kitchen fire on a doll nailed to a cabinet. He believed he could crush and smoke his antipsychotic medication to achieve its intended effect.

    • Transparency Of Patent Status Key For Health Actors: Databases Presented At WIPO

      Information on the status of patents can be key for medicines procurement agencies seeking to know if they can source cheaper generic products. Several databases providing free information on patent status were presented yesterday at the World Intellectual Property Organization. The World Health Organization, also invited, hailed the efforts, but warned against listing follow-on patents, which could confuse procurement professionals. And a prominent molecular biologist, chief executive of a patents-and-scholarly database, called for breaking silos to advance innovation.

    • Helsinn Argument Recap: Did the AIA Change the Meaning of Patent Law’s “On Sale” Bar?

      As Michael previewed this morning, the Supreme Court heard argument today in Helsinn v. Teva, which is focused on the post-America Invents Act § 102(a)(1) bar on patents if “the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public” before the relevant critical date. The Federal Circuit held that Helsinn’s patents were invalid because Helsinn had sold the claimed invention to a distributor more than one year before filing for a patent, but Helsinn (supported by the United States as amicus) argues that the “on sale” bar is triggered only by sales that make the invention “available to the public” under a broad reading of “public.”

      During argument, none of the Justices seemed inclined to favor Helsinn’s attempt to argue that “on sale” clearly means on sale to everybody—Justice Kavanaugh said “it’s pretty hard to say something that has been sold was not on sale,” and Chief Justice Robert’s noted that Helsinn’s interpretation “might not be consistent with the actual meaning of the world ‘sale’” because “if something’s on sale, it doesn’t have to be on sale to everybody.” Nor did they jump at the government’s argument that “on sale” means a product can be purchased by its ultimate consumers—Justice Sotomayor said: “This definition of ‘on sale,’ to be frank with you, I’ve looked at the history cited in the briefs, I looked at the cases, I don’t find it anywhere.”

      Helsinn’s better statutory argument is that the meaning of “on sale” is modified by “or otherwise available to the public” to require that the sale be publicly available. Indeed, for a reader with no background in patent law, this might seem like the most natural reading of the statute. Justice Alito said that “the most serious argument” against the Federal Circuit’s position is “the fairly plain meaning of the new statutory language,” and that he “find[s] it very difficult to get over the idea that this means that all of the things that went before are public.” And Justice Gorsuch suggested, at least for hypothetical purposes, that “the introduction of the ‘otherwise’ clause introduced some ambiguity about what ‘on sale’ means now.” But if there was more support to reverse the Federal Circuit, it was not apparent from the argument.

    • Don’t Let the Trump Administration Corporatize Medicare

      The Trump administration is engaged in a massive deception about Medicare Advantage plans, those commercial insurance plans that contract with the government to offer Medicare benefits. These plans are offered as an alternative to traditional Medicare, the public plan administered by the government.

      For far too long, politicians and corporations have marketed these commercial plans to unwary older adults and people with disabilities as a “new and improved” Medicare. That’s deceptive. Unlike traditional Medicare, these plans strip their members of the right to choose their own doctors and hospitals. Their cumbersome rules often lead to arbitrary delays and denials of care, and they can leave members with enormous unexpected costs.

      Buyers, beware. The Trump administration, much like the Medicare Advantage corporations themselves, is pushing these commercial plans on people without mentioning these risks and costs. But, they can’t be honest about Medicare Advantage. If they were, they would have to admit that these plans—like commercial health insurance in general—typically come up short on key metrics such as affordability, access, choice, efficiency, and accountability.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • 100,000 Windows Users In China Hit By New Ransomware Strain [Ed: Windows from Microsoft has back doors for the NSA and crackers too get access to these. They should have gone with GNU/Linux instead.]

      A ransomware that encrypts personal files and then demands 110 yuan (~$16) in ransom has affected over 100,000 Windows PC in China.

      The hackers are distributing rigged apps, disguised as social media apps, on different forums and local websites to infect the users. Many reports claim that one of such app goes by the name “Account Operation V3.1” — a Chinese app that help users manage multiple QQ accounts (a popular Chinese instant messaging service).

    • Adobe Addresses Critical Vulnerability CVE-2018-15982 in Flash Player as Report of an Exploit Makes Rounds
    • New Adobe Flash Zero-Day Exploit Found Hidden Inside MS Office Docs

      Cybersecurity researchers have discovered a new zero-day vulnerability in Adobe Flash Player that hackers are actively exploiting in the wild as part of a targeted campaign appears to be attacking a Russian state health care institution.

      The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2018-15982, is a use-after-free flaw resides in Flash Player that, if exploited successfully, allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the targeted computer and eventually gain full control over the system.

    • Kubernetes hit by major security flaw
    • Why do small sites get hacked?

      High traffic volume helps boost earnings on partner programs by redirecting visitors to other sites, gets more views of unauthorized advertisements and attracts more clicks on rogue links. But that is not the only way hackers make money.

      Unprotected sites with low traffic volume are equally attractive to hackers. It is the way they are used that differs from how hackers monetize more popular websites. Any normal site, with an audience of as little as 30 visitors a day, can still be threatened by hacking and infection.

    • (Website) size is not important

      A common fallacy says that big, popular web sites are more likely to be the targets of hacking. After all, they have the biggest customer databases and the most amount of traffic. To a hacker, more traffic means more money. Right?

      Not quite. In Greg Zemskov’s latest blog post, he explains why small sites are just as attractive to hackers as big ones, what the hackers do with such sites, and what small site owners and administrators can do to avoid becoming victims.

    • ESET discovers 21 new Linux malware families [Ed: Catalin Cimpanu misrepresents what ESET actually wrote. Go to the source, not those flame-baiters of CBS.]
    • Top 5 New Open Source Vulnerabilities in November 2018 [Ed: Microsoft friends are so eager to make FOSS look dangerous, like quite major a risk]
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Yemenis Seek Asylum on Island That Resists US Militarization
    • GOP lawmaker defends Trump’s Khashoggi response: ‘Journalists disappear all over the country’

      Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN after the briefing with Haspel that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “ordered, monitored, the killing” of Khashoggi.

    • There are 42 exotic weapons in ‘Destiny 2′ right now — and we’ve ranked them all from best to worst

      We’ve compiled the complete list of exotic weapons you can obtain in “Destiny 2,” and ranked them based on utility for various “Destiny 2″ activities.

    • Saudi Prince ‘Complicit’ in Khashoggi’s Murder, Senators Say After C.I.A. Briefing

      The clear and unusually biting assessment put Republican senators at odds with the White House, which has steadfastly refused to cast blame on Saudi Arabia’s leadership for the grisly death of Mr. Khashoggi, an American resident and Washington Post columnist. His killing prompted international outrage over the kingdom’s heavy-handed tactics and renewed attention to the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

    • Yemen: 85,000. Dead. Kids.

      In Yemen, a place where things couldn’t get worse, things have gotten worse.

      85,000 children under the age of five may have died during the war in Yemen, according to the international charitable group Save the Children. This figure was arrived at using data gathered by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Save the Children’s November 20 press release states that the children died from “extreme hunger and disease.” Saudi Arabia’s naval blockade of Yemen’s port of Hodeidah is a huge factor in Yemen’s catastrophic food shortage.

      Haven’t we already read this story? It has been only a month since the New York Times ran a series of photos of Yemen’s dead and dying. The lead photo is of a 7-year-old Yemeni girl, Amal Hussain, in a state of advanced starvation. Amal has dieds ince the photo appeared.

      The images of dead, starving, and mutilated Yemenis are so horrific that the Times took the unprecedented step of explaining why it was running the photos. The reason: because the world needs to see what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, assisted by the US, are doing to Yemen.

    • Nominee for US Ambassador to Yemen is No Friend of the Yemeni People

      While the press has closely followed the Senate efforts to stop US support for the Saudi war in Yemen in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, a December 4 Senate Foreign Affairs Committee meeting introducing Donald Trump’s nominee for Ambassador to Yemen slipped under the radar.

      Christopher Henzel is presently the Charge d’Affairs, or acting Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. A career Foreign Service officer, he has been the acting Ambassador since the departure of the Obama administration’s appointee in January 2017. He is now Trump’s pick to become the highest US diplomat to the wartorn nation of Yemen, but his initial appearance before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee did not go very well. Watch video here.

    • At Sports University, We Support Our Troops

      We have a national obsession in the United States with sports. Sports and sports talk are on 24/7. According to Marketwatch, Americans spent $100 billion on sports last year, half of it on attending games. You can watch sports every night and all day on weekends. You can tune in to sports talk shows on NESN and listen to sports talk radio. We spend on average about an hour a day consuming sports. You can also bet on sports. How much we bet is hard to track because a lot of it is illegal, but it is certainly in the billions. This obsession with sports applies to women as well as men, but it is males who are most obsessed and not surprisingly that means that men know a lot about sports. In fact, as sociologist Deborah Tanner found, men love to report information about sports to each other. This reporting may or may not be competitive and involve one-upmanship, but in any case, men have virtual libraries of information about sports that they’ve compiled. If there were SAT exams in sports, men would ace them.

      Unfortunately, this sports knowledge often appears to take the place of knowledge of the world beyond sports. So American men might be more likely to be able to list the starting lineup of a local team than they are to be able to list the nine members of the Supreme Court or who their state representatives are. They can tell you how many men are on the roster of their favorite team, but they don’t know how many people live in the United States, never mind how many whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians and undocumented immigrants live in the country.

      In addition, professional sports have embraced the military which is kind of an odd marriage that allows both sports teams and fans to express their patriotism. The whole notion of thanking the military developed as a backlash to the shameful treatment of our returning soldiers during the Vietnam War when we publicly criticized and blamed soldiers for the sins of our politicians. Since then, Americans have become more openly supportive of the military yet at the same time, we are not really engaged in our foreign policy and few of us know what the military is doing in Afghanistan or Iraq or Pakistan or Syria.

    • Fortunate Son: How Neil Bush Succeeded in Business Without Really Trying

      His mother still called him Neilsie. He refers to his dad, the former president, as Gampy. Neil Bush may be the black sheep of the Bush family, but his relatives have never let him down. Whenever he’s been mired in financial, legal or marital imbroglios, someone in the Bush family entourage has always reached out a helping hand and often that hand has slipped Neil a fat check.

      Neil Bush, the fourth child of George and Barbara, was long thought to be the rising star of the family. He had the looks, the convivial demeanor, middle-of-the-road politics and, despite suffering from a severe case of dyslexia that made him the laughing stock of St. Albans (the stuffy DC prep school that groomed Al Gore) the brainpower. At least he seemed brighter than Jeb or George Jr. And, most important of all, he was the favorite son of Barbara Bush, the Agrippina of American politics.

      All those lofty political aspirations came to a fatal crash in the fall of 1988, at the precise moment his father was poised to ascend to the presidency, when the Silverado Savings and Loan went belly up with Neil in the driver’s seat.

      In these days of multi-billion dollar financial crimes by the likes of Enron, Tyco and WorldCom, the failure of a relatively small Colorado thrift may not seem like much. But Silverado came to symbolize the entire savings and loan debacle, which ended up costing the government more than $150 billion in bail out money. Many of these companies exploited the newly deregulated financial markets to lavish unsecured loans to company insiders or political favorites and rewarded company officers and directors with ostentatious salaries and benefits. When the thrifts collapsed, the directors and executives walked away unscathed, while small investors and account-holders were left out in the cold. Appropriately, the looting of the savings and loans hit Texas harder than most other states.

      At the time, Neil Bush claimed that he was being made a political scapegoat for Silverado’s troubles. He said he was only a bit player in the S&L with no real decision making power, a mere figurehead and little more. Of course, there was some truth to this. But Neil Bush was not an entirely passive director. Indeed, he used his position as director to steer unsecured loans to his business partners, including at least one project, a scheme to drill for oil in Argentina, in which he had a direct financial stake.

    • It’s Good to Argue About Dead Presidents
      [George H.W. Bush Doesn't Deserve a Hagiography]

      For a moment, obituaries favored the late President George H. W. Bush with the banal pleasantries usually afforded to deceased presidents. Well-wishers from both sides of the aisle hailed Bush’s patriotism, service, decency, and other traits we think we want leaders to have.
      Then came the counter-narratives: Bush’s inaction during the AIDS crisis. The generation of war in Iraq he started. His acceleration of the war on drugs and his race-baiting Willie Horton ad. His groping of women. Surely we should have reservations about celebrating such a legacy, many countered.
      Now, I’m partial to the latter view — more in that in a moment. But what concerns me more is the third phase in this emerging ritual: the righteous insistence that death is no time to examine a public figure’s life’s work. They’re dead. Be nice.
      Or worse: The centrist plea, typified by New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, that “a mix of appreciations and censorious assessments is in order.” Even if you had loved ones die during the AIDS crisis, or a family member die in Iraq, Bruni thinks it’s “possible, even imperative, to acknowledge and celebrate” the late leader’s “valor galore.”
      Bruni calls this “nuance.” I call it the opposite.
      This being 2018, I get it. Politics feels exhaustingly nasty. Even many lefties crave a conservative foil to the crasser occupants of today’s White House. Folks in the center may just want a break from the yelling.
      Team, I feel you. But look a little harder.

    • How Would Mother Jones Eulogize George H.W. Bush?

      In a windswept miners union cemetery north of Mount Olive, Illinois, stands a large monument, marking the burial site of Mary Harris Jones. Mother Jones, as she was popularly known, was a legendary labor activist from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She devoted herself to the cause of workers, from coal mines to garment mills, railing against abusive working conditions, against child labor, against poverty. Once, when rallying a group of unionized coal miners in West Virginia, she said, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!” As this week’s national day of mourning concludes in the United States with the funeral of George H.W. Bush, the country’s 41st president, Mother Jones’ words are worth remembering.

      Bush’s family, friends, all five living presidents — his son, George W. Bush; Jimmy Carter; Bill Clinton; Barack Obama; and President Donald Trump — gathered at the National Cathedral to honor him.

      Commentators recalled Bush’s escape from a burning bomber in World War II, parachuting into the Pacific Ocean. In obvious contrast to President Donald Trump, Bush was remembered as an old-style Republican, patrician and civil, able to reach across the aisle. He resigned from the National Rifle Association when the gun group railed against federal agents, and was praised for signing the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.

      Ignored was Bush’s role in violent U.S. interventions, from the 1989 invasion of Panama, which Bush ordered, killing an estimated 3,000 civilians, to the 1991 invasion of Iraq, also on his orders, which killed thousands of Iraqis. Just this week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on the U.S. to pay reparations to the victims of the Panama invasion. As CIA director in 1976, Bush supported some of the most violent right-wing dictatorships in Latin America, including the junta in Argentina and dictator Augusto Pinochet in Chile.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘Green is Great’: Coal, Oil, and Greenwash at the UN Climate Talks

      We were told to meet by the glowing jellyfish. Pascoe Sabido was holding it aloft, its plastic tentacles tangling, as journalists and campaigners closed in around him. A campaigner for Corporate Europe Observatory, he had promised us a “Toxic Tour” of COP24, a chance to see the influence of energy companies lurking behind the green veneer of the countries gathered here to tackle climate change.

      Except, in some cases, the veneer was wearing thin – or, in Poland’s case – had rubbed off entirely. The tour began next to the logos of the conference’s sponsors projected onto the wall. It’s currently advertising LOTOS Oil, a Polish company that operates mainly in Norway. Other sponsors include JSW, a coal company, and PZU, the largest insurer of the Polish coal industry.

      Overt fossil fuel branding was too subtle an approach for the Polish hosts of this meeting, however. We walk on to the pavilion of the city of Katowice. It has been constructed from chunks of coal stacked in metal crates. Not quite believing, I rub my finger against one of the blocks. My fingertip comes away black.

    • High Tide Bulletin: Winter 2018

      The rising and falling of the sea is a phenomenon upon which we can always depend. Tides are the regular rise and fall of the sea surface caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and their position relative to the earth. There are some factors that cause the tides to be higher than what is “normally” seen from day to day. This bulletin tells you when you may experience higher than normal high tides for the period of time between December 2018 and February 2019. We also publish annual high tide flooding reports that present a broad outlook of what to expect for a given year in terms of high tide flooding, as well as a summary of high tide flooding events for the previous calendar year.

    • ‘Off the Charts’: New Study Shows Greenland Ice Sheet Likely Hasn’t Melted This Fast for More Than 7,000 Years

      Given that melting ice is significantly fueling sea-level rise, Trusel concluded: “How much Greenland melts matters. It matters to everyone living near a coastline. Climate change is not a thing of the future. It’s here now. It’s clear.”

      Trusel’s team of international researchers analyzed ice cores extracted from Greenland, a massive island wedged between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. A primary takeaway from the study, Trusel said in a statement, is the speed of melting, especially over the past 25 years.

      “It’s not just increasing, it’s accelerating,” he explained. “That’s a key concern for the future.”

    • ‘Worst Possible Choice’: Pressure Mounts on Schumer to Keep Pro-Coal Joe Manchin From Powerful Energy Post

      While pressuring Democratic leaders to form a new congressional committee with a mandate to pass a Green New Deal, climate action groups and progressives lawmakers including Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) are also raising deep concerns over the corporate-friendly Democrat who’s expected to serve as the party’s top member on the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee—a gift to the fossil fuel industry which has long buttressed his political career.

      As ranking member of the committee, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) would be in the position to reject nominees for positions in the Interior and Energy Departments and stop the panel from approving attempts to waive environmental laws concerning logging as well as energy industries—a responsibility Ocasio-Cortez says Manchin is unlikely to fulfill given his ties to Big Coal.

    • Warnings of Doom, Amid a Smokescreen of Denial and Distraction

      The Trump administration predictably tried to bury the dire warnings contained in the fourth National Climate Assessment by releasing it the day after Thanksgiving, when many people would be distracted by the mass consumption frenzy known as Black Friday. It didn’t work, of course, since the findings were nothing short of warnings of doom if humanity doesn’t radically reduce the production of greenhouse gases caused primarily by burning fossil fuels.

      Equally predictable was the response from the Climate Denier-in-Chief that he simply “didn’t believe” the findings. The rays of hope are that, thanks to the Mueller investigation, indictments and convictions, as well as the recent election that erased the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, Donald Trump’s “reign of error” on the environment is coming to an end — and not a minute too soon for our nation and the planet.

      Considering that the congressionally mandated Climate Assessment was put together by more than 300 scientists and 13 federal agencies, there are plenty of good reasons to heed its assessments and predictions, summarized right up front in the report as: “Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.”

    • Polish Trade Union And Climate Science Denial Group Issue Statement Rejecting Scientific Consensus on Climate Change At COP24

      A Polish trade union has issued a joint statement with a notorious American climate science denial group rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change.

      The statement, signed by the Chicago-based Heartland Institute and the trade union Solidarity was released as UN climate talks took place in Katowice, the centre of Poland’s coal heartland region of Silesia.

      The talks, known as COP24, are widely considered to be the most important climate meeting since the 2015 summit in Paris and will aim to finalise the rulebook to implement the Paris Agreement.

      In the statement, the trade union Solidarity and the Heartland Institute express “skepticism of the assertions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the world stands at the edge of a climate catastrophe”.

      In October, the IPCC released a report saying the world had 12 years to reduce its emissions by 45 percent and take “transformative and unprecedented” measures to hold global warming to 1.5C. Beyond that threshold, it warned of serious impacts including a virtual wipe-out of coral reefs.

    • Dangerous CO2 Spurt: How the Rich Countries are Failing to Curb Climate Emergency

      Carbon Dioxide emissions were up again this year, after a hiatus during which people wondered if the world had gotten a handle on greenhouse gases. It turns out, not so much. A new UN report sounds the alarm.

      The spike in CO2 this year is a bad sign, but actually it is the output of greenhouse gases over the next 12 years which will be decisive. And there, there is more bad news.

    • Don’t Do Anything About Climate Disaster, USA Today Warns Dems

      “Democrats Will Push on Climate Change,” declared the lead story on the front page of the November 27 USA Today. (The online version bore the more verbose headline, “Once Democrats Take Charge of the House, Addressing Climate Change Will Become Top Priority Again.”)

      You might think the story was about the Green New Deal, the nascent environmental and social justice agenda that would include a special congressional committee on climate change, championed by incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and endorsed by at least a dozen co-sponsors.

      You’d be wrong.

      The real point of the 925-word story, by Gannett Washington reporter Ledyard King, was conveyed in the print edition’s subhead: “Policies Could Carry Risk for Leaders of New House.”

      Featuring a classic “balance as bias” reporting frame, the piece alternated between dire, scientifically validated descriptions of climate change risks and President Trump’s dismissal of them, and between illustrations of Democratic clout and predictions of the futility of their cause.

    • ‘Dirty, Dying, and Dangerous’ Fossil Fuel Industry Only Winner as Trump’s Coal Bailout Architect Confirmed to FERC

      The Senate’s narrow approval of fossil fuel-defender Bernard McNamee for a seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday provoked anger and dismay from climate action groups, which have demanded the Trump administration listen to scientists and the American people and end its efforts to prop up “dirty, dying, and dangerous” energy industries.

      McNamee was confirmed in a 50-49 vote along party lines, after green campaigners successfully pressured Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) to vote against the nomination. Read the full roll call here.

    • As Study Ties ‘Great Dying’ of 252 Million Years Ago to Current Climate Crisis, Experts Say Still Time for ‘Different Path’

      The study adds to a growing body of research on alarming declines in biodiversity, offering a glimpse of what could come of the planet’s inhabitants if global warming is allowed to continue unabated. The Great Dying, at the end of the Permian Period, wiped out 96 percent of all marine species and 70 percent of terrestrial species.

      “The ultimate, driving change that led to the mass extinction is the same driving change that humans are doing today, which is injecting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” Justin Penn, a University of Washington doctoral student in oceanography and the study’s lead author, told the Seattle Times.

      “The study tells us what’s at the end of the road if we let climate [change] keep going,” warned Curtis Deutsch, Penn’s co-author and PhD adviser, as the latest projections show emissions hitting record-breaking levels this year. “The further we go, the more species we’re likely to lose… That’s frightening. The loss of species is irreversible.”

    • Kochs Fund Study to Kill Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Via Same Group That Defended Tobacco Industry

      Unsurprisingly, to an industry-funded study mill that infamously produced a key report defending the tobacco industry that was deployed by Philip Morris in the 1990s, and which has since published studies commissioned by the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, the coal industry, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
      As Congress debates whether to extend, end, or leave alone the federal EV tax credit, a study critical of the incentive has been making the rounds in conservative media outlets and Koch-affiliated free market advocacy groups.

      The study, conducted and published by NERA (National Economic Research Associates) Economic Consulting, was commissioned by Flint Hills Resources, a refinery group and fuels marketing company that also happens to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries.

  • Finance

    • Uber Is Sweating NYC’s New Rideshare Minimum Wage

      And so give it did. In an unprecedented move, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) approved new rules this week to raise the the minimum hourly wage for app-based drivers to $17.22 after expenses. The goal was to pay drivers a living wage in a costly city, but also to curb the rapid growth of rideshare cars on the road. “TLC anticipates [the new rules] will represent a raise to 96 percent of the 80,000 drivers who work for Uber, Lyft, Via, and Gett/Juno,” the commission said in a statement.

      The majority of Uber, Lyft, and Juno drivers have been consistently making less than minimum wage, as a New School report found. And a minimum wage floor would mean an estimated $10,000 raise per driver. The new rules also got rid of an extra fee for shared car rides, which could encourage more group trips.

    • Four Days Trapped at Sea With Crypto’s Nouveau Riche

      In the short term, though, that’s not what most big players care about—and the major social change blockchain has brought about so far is that a small number of people have become very rich indeed. As blockchain skeptic David Gerard writes, “the cryptocurrency field is replete with scams and scammers. The technology is used as an excuse to make outlandish near-magical claims. When phrases like ‘a whole new form of money’ or ‘the old rules don’t apply any more’ start going around, people get gullible and the ethically-challenged get creative.”

    • The Nasty Rich

      Are rich people really nastier than poor people? That’s what Berkeley psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner set out to discover a few years back.


      In another study, P&K looked at empathy. One way to measure this is via activation of the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain through the face and thorax to the abdomen and responds to emotional inputs. Electrodes were placed on the chests of a group of rich students and a group of poor students, who were then exposed to pictures of starving children. The vagus nerves of the poor students became hyperactive, whereas those of the rich students hardly responded at all. In other words, they felt almost no empathy, which is also the major trait of sociopathy: “an almost complete lack of conscience, remorse, guilt or shame; manipulative, deceitful, egocentric.”

      Who’s nasty now?

    • Demand an End to the Taxation of Social Security Benefits

      Social Security, the retirement program established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Democrats in Congress in 1936 as a cornerstone of the New Deal programs that were put in place to help Americans struggling with the Great Depression, has been under attack by Republicans ever since it began.

      In the early 1980s, they finally got their first chance to really take a whack at it. It was the first term of the administration of Ronald Reagan and thanks to medical advances that were allowing people to live much longer and to the Medicare and Medicaid programs or the mid 1960s that made those advances available to most Americans for the first time — the elderly, the disabled and the poor — the retirement program was under stress and heading towards being unable to meet its benefit payment obligations with just the payroll taxes being paid into the system by current workers and their employers.

      If that sounds familiar, it should. Once again, this time because of even further improvements in longevity, combined with a declining US birthrate and the fact that since 2007 Baby Boomers, that wave of new Americans born after the end of WWII and through 1964, have been reaching retirement age and have begun receiving their Social Security benefits, the Social Security system is heading towards a financial crisis. It’s not bankruptcy as Republican scaremongers claim, but if nothing is done to bolster funding for the system, as of 2034 surplus funds deliberately built up in advance to finance Baby Boomer benefits will be exhausted, and the payroll taxes paid into the system by then-current workers and their employers will only be enough to fund 78% of promised benefits to those eligible for benefits at that time.

    • 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.

    • ‘Lobbyists Are Here. Goldman Sachs Is Here. Where’s Labor? Activists?’ Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez Pull Back Curtain on Corporate-Sponsored Freshman Orientation

      Pulling back the curtain on the ostensibly “bipartisan” orientation for newly elected members of Congress at Harvard’s Kennedy School in Boston, Reps.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) informed the public through live social media updates on Thursday that—contrary to the ideologically neutral advertising—the private conference featured a heavy dose of speeches by corporate CEOs and completely shut out organized labor and members of the progressive community.

      “Our ‘bipartisan’ congressional orientation is co-hosted by a corporate lobbyist group,” Ocasio-Cortez noted, likely referring to the Koch-funded American Enterprise Institute, which is co-sponsoring the event. “Other members have quietly expressed to me their concern that this wasn’t told to us in advance. Lobbyists are here. Goldman Sachs is here. Where’s labor? Activists? Frontline community leaders?”

    • New Legislation Would Clamp Down On Social Security Field Office Closing

      Closing Social Security field offices can cause undue hardship for claimants, yet the Social Security Administration (SSA) has shuttered 67 of them since 2010. Seniors advocates have recently intensified their efforts to push back against field office closures. Those efforts may finally gain some teeth with the introduction of a bill by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.). Her ‘Maintain Access to Vital Social Security Services Act of 2018’ (H.R. 7160) would make it harder for the SSA to summarily close field offices.

      Congresswoman Moore represents a district that includes the city of Milwaukee, where SSA closed a field office serving poor and mostly Hispanic residents last Spring – forcing them to seek assistance at an alternate location that’s hard to reach by public transportation.

      SSA closed other field offices in urban areas earlier this year, including one in Arlington, VA (just outside the Nation’s Capital), and another in the city of Baltimore. A Social Security office in urban Chicago was closed in 2017. In all three locations, elderly and disabled Social Security claimants have been forced to travel longer distances to obtain in-person service.

    • Workers Are Fighting Retail Robber Barons – and Winning

      small group of Walmart workers recently publicly confronted Alice Walton, the Walmart heiress who is probably the world’s richest woman. Earlier this year, Walmart increased the starting wage for store associates to $11 an hour, but competitors Amazon and Target agreed to $15, which is still not enough to make ends meet in many parts of the United States. Would Walmart follow their lead?

      Walton attempted to deflect the question, saying, “That’s not my job.” The workers pressed Walton for an answer, pointing to Walmart CEO Greg Foran, who thanked the Walton family for their role in past pay increases during a meeting with investors in October. That sent a flustered Walton into a hasty retreat.

      Foran also told investors that, in some areas of the country, $11 is still “the right amount to pay” a starting Walmart associate. Organization United for Respect (OUR), a nonprofit group that advocates for better wages and conditions at Walmart, used MIT’s Living Wage Calculator to take Foran to task.

      In every state in the country, a Walmart associate working full time (which Walmart defines as 34 hours per week) at $11 does not make enough money to cover the basic costs of living for an individual, not to mention a family, according to the group’s analysis. Walmart did not respond to a request for comment.

    • In Los Angeles, the Poor People’s Campaign Makes a Powerful Case for Housing as a Human Right

      When Silvia Hernandez first immigrated to California over two decades ago, she worked tirelessly to support her family. After holding jobs in sweatshops, factories, and housekeeping, she pursued a cosmetology license and began doing hair professionally. She was well aware that the “place where I was coming from and my skin color” meant she “had to work harder than other people if I wanted to make money.

      But when she became sick and was unable to work, the life she’d built fell apart. Following an eviction, she applied for “all the housing programs available” and sought out medical care, but “the system didn’t give me any other choices but to go to Skid Row,” the 50-square-block area of downtown Los Angeles that is home to several thousand unhoused people. There, she heard similar stories from numerous other women–mostly Black and Latina–and realized she “couldn’t stay as a witness anymore without doing something.” Today, Silvia directs her energy toward advocating on behalf of the Skid Row community “to make our struggles visible, to fight for our rights, and to win.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Giuliani can’t figure out how URLs work, blames Twitter for liberal bias

      Rudy Giuliani, who briefly advised Donald Trump on cybersecurity before taking a role as his personal attorney, doesn’t understand how domain names work. And that lack of understanding led him to invent a ludicrous conspiracy theory about Twitter.`

    • Time Is Running Out to Avert a Government Shutdown
    • After Years of Fearmongering Mythical Threat of Voter Fraud, GOP ‘Silence Now Deafening’ as Real Election Fraud Exposed in North Carolina

      Last week, the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics voted unanimously against certifying Republican Mark Harris’ narrow win over Democrat Dan McCready, with one member of the board vaguely citing “unfortunate activities” that may have distorted the final results.

      Reporting and witness testimony in the days since the board vote has detailed “a slew of evidence” indicating that GOP operatives carried out a large ballot-harvesting effort, in which thousands of absentee ballots may have been collected and destroyed in an attempt to swing the election in the Republican Party’s favor.

      As USA Today notes, “A large majority of those unreturned ballots belonged to African-Americans and Native American voters.”

      “There is now overwhelming evidence that Republicans in NC-09 paid people to collect mail-in ballots which were never sent in,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) wrote on Twitter. “Not enough people are talking about this clear case of election fraud. A new election must be held immediately.”

    • Americans Endorsed Voting Rights in 2018, but Some State Lawmakers Want to Sabotage These Victories

      The 2018 election ushered in a wave of voting rights victories. Voters in Florida, Michigan, Maryland, and Nevada all made it easier to register and vote, showing that voters reject voter suppression efforts and bogus “voter fraud” myths. But politicians in several states are now trying to undercut these hard-fought wins.

      Last month, Michigan voters passed a voter modernization package, Proposal 3, by a massive 67-33 percent margin. Proposal 3, championed by the Promote the Vote MI coalition and backed by the ACLU of Michigan, helped expand access to the ballot by enacting no-excuse absentee voting, automatic voter registration, and same-day voter registration for the two-week period prior to an election, including Election Day.

      But some state lawmakers in Michigan want to undermine the voters’ clear choice during the lame duck session. There, politicians are trying to pass legislation restricting access to same-day voter registration in the final 14 days prior to an election before a voting-rights supporter is sworn in as governor.

      They are not alone, as lawmakers in Wisconsin want to curtail the early voting period in their state and reduce the powers of newly elected state officials, and North Carolina legislators are using the lame duck session to add new barriers to the ballot box. In November, Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment to restore voting eligibility to people with prior felony convictions with nearly two-thirds of the vote. But politicians are trying to slow-walk issuing guidance to county election supervisors on registering people with prior felony convictions to vote.

    • Wisconsin Republicans Continue the GOP’s Bid to Destroy Democracy

      The Republican Party has once more demonstrated that it has no respect for democracy and is determined to hold on to power by any means necessary. GOP state lawmakers in Wisconsin this week engaged in a brazen power grab in the form of bills that were introduced, debated and voted on with breathtaking speed in order to cripple the decision-making powers of Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. Legislators called a special session late last Friday, and then, as protesters marched and rallied outside the state Capitol building, the politicians debated in a closed-door session. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, before the sun rose, senators voted on and passed the bills and Gop members prevailed by a single-vote margin. A few hours later, their counterparts in the Wisconsin House did the same—by a larger margin.

      According to The New York Times, the bills ensure that “[t]here would be a new limit on early voting, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates, after an election that saw record-breaking turnout.” Additionally, the Times reported, “[l]awmakers, not the governor, would control the majority of appointments on an economic development board.” The bills also curb the incoming governor’s ability to ban guns from the state Capitol and to protect the Affordable Care Act from legal challenges, among other things.

      Wisconsin’s House speaker, Republican Robin Vos, disingenuously claimed on Twitter on Wednesday that “Democrats have been exaggerating and resorting to hyperbole throughout the debate.” He added sagely, “The vote is about ensuring equal branches of government exist in #Wisconsin especially during this time of divided government.” But a day earlier, Vos let slip his real agenda, saying, “We are going to have a very liberal governor who is going to enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in.” It apparently has not occurred to Vos that voters, who live in a democracy, have elected the “very liberal” Evers over incumbent Scott Walker.

    • Democrats Will Ignore Broad Progressive Reforms at Their Peril

      In the wake of an earth rattling mid-term election that brought a change in leadership in the House and seven governor’s offices, debate has picked up again over the political direction of the Democratic Party as it picks itself up off the floor.

      After a decade in which it lost more than 900 federal and state elections, the Wall Street-dominated wing of the Democratic Party continues to insist on adherence to a political path that landed them in wilderness in Washington and most state capitols.

      But, it would be a serious misread of the election results to assume that voters, including those disgusted with the Trump Administration and its acolytes in Congress, will reward Democrats in the next election cycle if they settle for band aid adjustment to the pervasive crisis faced by tens of millions of people abandoned by decades of neoliberal policies pursued by both major parties.

      Staggering income and wealth inequality, millions still handcuffed in low paying jobs, appalling levels of homelessness, poverty and food insecurity, gaping inequities in health care, education, and housing, a climate crisis rapidly spinning out of control, and systemic racism affecting nearly every walk of life, demand real, comprehensive solutions animated by a genuine vision of social change, not business as usual.

    • Senate Intelligence Committee Grilled Steve Bannon About Cambridge Analytica

      Steve Bannon found himself back in the hot seat last month as the former White House adviser answered questions from Senate intelligence committee investigators behind closed doors, according to two sources familiar with the meeting. The sources said investigators asked about Cambridge Analytica, the controversial and now-defunct data firm he co-founded; and Roger Stone, a self-described dirty-trickster and Trump associate.

      The committee has been quietly investigating Russian meddling in the American political system for nearly two years. While partisan acrimony rocked the House intelligence committee’s Russia probe, the Senate’s investigation has proceeded with scant public friction.

      Spokespersons for Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and Vice Chairman Mark Warner declined to comment on the record. A lawyer for Bannon declined to comment on the record as well.

      Bannon’s interview indicates investigators remain interested in Cambridge Analytica’s work for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. The firm’s staff claimed it used “psychographic profiling” to tailor ads based on people’s personality traits. The firm’s critics said this was bluster, and drew comparisons to failed blood-testing start-up Theranos.

      Cambridge Analytica drew international opprobrium when its work covertly harvesting millions of Facebook users’ personal information was revealed in March. Facebook denounced the company’s tactics, but still suffered enormous public blowback. In May, Cambridge Analytica announced it was closing down.

    • The Progressive Case Against Beto O’Rourke for President

      Anxious Democrats had barely recovered from their post-midterm election-night hangovers before pundits began breathlessly pontificating over the potential field of 2020 presidential candidates. Democrat Beto O’Rourke lost his Texas Senate race to Republican Ted Cruz, but that didn’t stop multiple outlets from pondering whether he could run. He enjoys a national profile, a positive message, even punk rock roots, and lost his race by a mere three points, but some progressives aren’t convinced he’s the one to beat Trump, should the president run in 2020.

      Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig is one of them.

      She writes on Thursday that despite her being from Texas, appreciating O’Rourke’s appeal and having “hoped as much as anyone for Cruz’s defeat,” America doesn’t need another Democrat in the Obama mold. Instead, she argues, “I think the times both call for and allow for a left-populist candidate with uncompromising progressive principles. I don’t see that in O’Rourke.”

    • Why This Progressive Texan Can’t Get Excited About Beto O’Rourke

      In the meantime, though, we have the national election to think about, and when it comes to national politics, O’Rourke is plainly uninspiring. As Zaid Jilani pointed out at Current Affairs, O’Rourke’s congressional voting record signals skepticism about progressive priorities. “While the Democratic base is coalescing around single-payer health care and free college, O’Rourke sponsored neither House bill,” Jilani wrote, “During his time in Congress, he never joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus.” Instead, O’Rourke is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a centrist caucus with Clintonian views on health care, education and trade.

      Where it comes to Medicare-for-all, O’Rourke has been carefully unclear about his stance: A Politico article from July notes that, at least for a time, he had sworn off using the terms “single payer” or “Medicare for all,” instead using the less-specific, policy-neutral phrase “universal, guaranteed, high-quality health care for all.” His campaign website remains unclear, stating that he aims for achieving universal health-care coverage “whether it be through a single payer system, a dual system, or otherwise.”

      O’Rourke’s other progressive-ish policy positions tend to follow along these lines. While some progressives, rallied by talk of a Green New Deal, have argued for higher taxes on oil and gas company profits, fossil fuel lobbyists to be banned from working in the White House and a whole-economy overhaul slotting Americans into jobs producing carbon-neutral infrastructure, O’Rourke’s statements on energy have been surprisingly thin. He has called the decision between oil and gas and renewable energy sources “a false choice,” and proposes on his campaign website mainly to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, empower the Environmental Protection Agency and enact energy reform.

    • For Once, Donald Trump Sits Down and Shuts Up

      A friend of mine lives in an apartment building adjacent to the commuter rail tracks running in and out of Boston. A few years ago, the city decided to build a new commuter station literally right outside his bedroom window. After the construction crew broke ground, they erected a two-story pile driver and proceeded to ram beams deep into the ground from 5:15 am until around 5:00 pm. The crew was never, ever late, and the sound and vibration of the driver literally rattled the fillings in my friend’s teeth. The construction seemed to last forever. Only in the brief evening silences could he clearly contemplate just how astonishingly awful the noise was.

      I am reminded of my friend’s plight by the sudden absence of Trump noise upon the passing of George H.W. Bush. I don’t believe it, don’t trust it, and wait with permanent wince for it commence again… but for the ongoing moment, the pile-driver president has actually fallen into a respectful silence, leaving us all a breath of blissful stillness in which to contemplate the gruesome noise. You can only hear the ringing in your ears when the banging stops.

      I would have lost a bet had one been available. If the MGM Grand put, “When will Trump’s need for attention cause him to flip out?” on the big board in its main gaming room on Monday morning, I would have confidently put every dime I own on the red felt marked “Tuesday afternoon,” with maybe a few extra chips on “Wednesday morning, early” just to play it safe. Here we are on Thursday, and I’d be broke as a joke if Vegas played my kind of ponies.


      George W. Bush is so freaked out by Trump that he has voiced public concern about being the last Republican president, which is perfect W., because Trump is also a Republican. Becoming a painter hasn’t made #43 any brighter, but he has a definite argument. “This guy doesn’t know what it means to be president,” W. said in 2017. (Pssst… Neither did you, George; the nation and the world will be many generations getting out from under the bloodbath calamity of your administration. The fact that the same can be said for Trump, even by the likes of you, only deepens the misery)

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Are women reporters shut out from ‘hard’ beats? Pakistani journalists deliberate

      National Press Club (NPC) Vice President and CFWIJ member Maira Imran spoke about the power dynamics of the stories and beats. It is about time we stopped putting a patriarchal lens on stories. “I think some of the issues that women cover are powerful and very impactful. We need to recognise these stories for their strengths,” she said.

    • A Quarter of Tumblr’s Users Are There to Consume Porn, Data Scientists Estimate

      As you may have already heard, starting on December 17, Tumblr will no longer allow porn on its platform. This will hurt the sex workers and communities of people who enjoyed sharing and consuming NSFW content on the platform. But many people have also suggested it might be the beginning of the end for Tumblr, which, perhaps because it has traditionally catered to adult communities, has largely come to be identified with porn.

    • Tumblr’s Porn-Detecting AI Has One Job—and It’s Bad at It

      What do a patent application drawing for troll socks, a cartoon scorpion wearing a hard hat, and a comic about cat parkour have in common? They were all reportedly flagged by Tumblr this week after the microblogging platform announced that it would no longer allow “adult content.” But so far, Tumblr’s method for detecting posts that violate the new policy, which goes into effect December 17, isn’t working too well, at least not according to many people on Twitter who have shared screenshots of innocent Tumblr posts that were mistakenly marked as NSFW.

    • How Tumblr went from being the most porn-friendly social media site to banning porn

      By January 2010, the Tumblr smut community was established enough to get official endorsement; that month, the site’s staff unveiled an officially sanctioned directory of erotic Tumblrs, which was listed alongside similar directories of Tumblrs devoted to art, fashion, photography, and food.

    • The Vilification of Marc Lamont Hill Is a Violent Ploy

      Only in a warped world would Marc Lamont Hill be forced to defend himself for asserting the rights of Palestinians, a viciously oppressed refugee population, while the perpetrators of colonial violence — the Israeli state and its apologists — claim victimhood.

      Hill, the progressive activist and journalist, was dismissed from his position as a CNN commentator in November after delivering a United Nations speech in which he called for Palestinian liberation “from the river to the sea.” Critics pounced on the phrase, portraying it as an extremist cry for the eradication of Israel and the expulsion of Jews from the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

      That is an absurd contention. As many conscientious figures — including Hill himself — have noted, Hill was not echoing incendiary demands for Israel’s elimination. During the address in question, he simply envisioned the replacement of the current regime, an ethno-nationalist state predicated on the racist subjugation of indigenous Palestinians, with an open, democratic society in which equal rights are enjoyed by all.

      Sponsors of Israeli occupation, however, refuse to tolerate any acknowledgement of Palestinian dignity, especially by an influential Black activist. So, they engineered a scandal, branding Hill an anti-Semite and reinforcing the message that those who challenge Israel’s policies of ethnic cleansing and violation of international law risk public vilification.

    • Amendments to Mauritius’ ICT Act Pose Risks for Freedom of Expression

      Mauritius doesn’t get a whole lot of international attention. The island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, officially the Republic of Mauritius, is a diverse country that is highly ranked for democracy, and economic and political freedom. The Economist’s Intelligence Unit has named the country the only “full democracy” in Africa, and Freedom House’s latest Freedom in the World report calls it a free country. The country’s Constitution (Art. 12) protects freedom of expression, with exceptions in line with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

      But readers of this blog know that democracies, from France to India and many places in between, often get Internet regulation terribly wrong. Recent amendments to Mauritius’ ICT Act are exemplary of that fact.

      The Information and Communications Technologies Act was created in 2001 and covers a broad array of topics, from fraud to identity theft to tampering with telecommunications infrastructure. The Act also defines as an offense the use of telecommunication equipment to “send, deliver or show a message which is obscene, indecent, abusive, threatening, false or misleading, or is likely to cause distress or anxiety.”

    • European Governments agree to outsource Internet censorship to Google and Facebook

      We have never seen an European Regulation adopted this quickly by European governments (less than 3 months!), despite concerns voiced by some Member States1Member States opposed to the current version of the text include Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Denmark.. Macron has obviously convinced them that, as European elections are getting closer, they could maintain their powers by using the everlasting terrorism pretext. Censorship and mass surveillance of the Internet will be the result.

      The EU Council has just decided, right now and without any serious debate, to carry a Regulation proposal that will force all Internet actors to submit to mass surveillance and automated censorship tools provided by Facebook and Google2In 2017, the European Commission proudly announced it had been « working over the last two years with key internet platforms including under the EU Internet Forum”, mainly Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft since 2015, “to ensure the voluntary removal of online terrorist content”, notably thanks to “the internet industry-led initiative to create a ‘database of hashes’ ensures that once terrorist material is taken down on one platform, it is not uploaded on another platform”.
      Already, “the aim is that internet platforms do more, notably to step up the automated detection of terrorist content, to share related technology and tools with smaller companies, and to make full use of the ‘database of hashes’., while allowing the police to order them to remove within one hour content they consider “terrorist”, without the authorisation of a judge.

    • Technical impossibility at heart of EC’s plan to stop spread of online terrorist content

      With its proposed legislation to proactively monitor customer data online, and so “prevent the dissemination of terrorist content”, the European Commission is targeting the wrong players and asking Europe’s cloud infrastructure companies to do something that is flatly impossible.

      Let me explain why.

      As our name suggests — CISPE stands for Cloud Infrastructure Service Providers in Europe — we provide the basic infrastructure, the underlying foundations, for European businesses and governments to manage their own data and build their own systems and services. Imagine the power cables or water pipes in the ground that provide essential but somewhat workmanlike services to a city and, more importantly, to its many thousands of buildings, businesses, public services and citizens. In the simplest terms, we provide the building blocks for cloud IT.

    • EU Members Push For Private Censorship Of Terrorist Content On The Internet

      Big platform providers and small hosters alike shall be obliged to censor, according to a draft regulation presented by the European Commission in mid-September and accepted by EU member states at their Council meeting today.

    • EFF Goes To Bat For Free Speech, Asks Appeals Court To Uphold Injunction Against California’s Stupid ‘Anti-Ageism’ Law

      Because the state is an idiot, the attorney general of California is appealing the federal court decision permanently preventing the state’s government from enforcing its ultra-stupid “anti-ageism” law. The law — which would do absolutely nothing to prevent movie studios from engaging in biased hiring — targeted the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), preventing it from publishing facts about actors and actresses. This asinine, First Amendment-trampling law was prompted by failed litigation against IMDb by an actress who felt she was losing roles to younger actresses because the site had published her birthdate.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • In the New Fight for Online Privacy and Security, Australia Falls: What Happens Next?

      With indecent speed, and after the barest nod to debate, the Australian Parliament has now passed the Assistance and Access Act, unopposed and unamended. The bill is a cousin to the United Kingdom’s Investigatory Powers Act, passed in 2016. The two laws vary in their details, but both now deliver a panoptic new power to their nation’s governments. Both countries now claim the right to secretly compel tech companies and individual technologists, including network administrators, sysadmins, and open source developers – to re-engineer software and hardware under their control, so that it can be used to spy on their users. Engineers can be penalized for refusing to comply with fines and prison; in Australia, even counseling a technologist to oppose these orders is a crime.

      We don’t know – because it is a state secret – whether the UK has already taken advantage of its powers, but this month we had some strong statements from GCHQ about what they plan to do with them. And because the “Five Eyes” coalition of intelligence-gathering countries have been coordinating this move for some time, we can expect Australia to shortly make the same demands.

      Ian Levy, GCHQ’s Technical Director, recently posted on the Lawfare blog what GCHQ wants tech companies to do. Buried in a post full of justifications (do a search for “crocodile clips” to find the meat of the proposal, or read EFF’s Cindy Cohn’s analysis), Levy explained that GCHQ wants secure messaging services, like WhatsApp, Signal, Wire, and iMessage, to create deceitful user interfaces that hide who private messages are being sent to.

    • New Documents Show That Facebook Has Never Deserved Your Trust

      Another week, another set of reminders that, while Facebook likes to paint itself as an “optimistic” company that’s simply out to help users and connect the world, the reality is very different. This week, those reminders include a collection of newly released documents suggesting that the company adopted a host of features and policies even though it knew those choices would harm users and undermine innovation.

      Yesterday, a member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament published a trove of internal documents from Facebook, obtained as part of a lawsuit by a firm called Six4Three. The emails, memos, and slides shed new light on Facebook’s private behavior before, during, and after the events leading to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

      Here are some key points from the roughly 250 pages of documents.

    • Microsoft and MasterCard in cahoots to create a universal digital identity

      Sounds good in practice, but as we’re fans of Black Mirror here, our imaginations immediately jump to the dark side of tech, whereby Microsoft and MasterCard become a superpower by controlling people’s access to online things by the simple virtue of holding their identity in a vice-like digital grip.

    • Facbook’s Internal Emails Suggest Calls & Text Data Was Collected Without Consent

      There were reports earlier this year that Facebook gathered call and text data from users without user consent. Multiple allegations of abusing Android APIs to harvest call and SMS data made headlines.

      But Facebook said that it was only collecting metadata through Facebook Lite and Messenger — both of which asked users for their permission during setup.

    • Securing The Institutions We Rely On: A Grassroots Case Study

      Grassroots digital rights organizing has many faces, including that of hands-on hardware hacking in an Ivy League institution. Yale Privacy Lab is a member of the Electronic Frontier Alliance, a network of community and student groups advocating for digital rights in local communities. For Yale Privacy Lab, activism means taking the academic principles behind Internet security and privacy out of the classroom and into the real world, one hacking tutorial or digital self-defense workshop at a time.

      Yale Privacy Lab is an initiative of Yale Law School’s Information Society Project—which concerns itself with digital freedom, policy, and regulation—and serves as the project’s practical implementation arm. We interviewed founding member Sean O’Brien and Cyber Fellow and researcher Laurin Weissinger about their work empowering the next generation of digital rights defenders, and offer advice for those wishing to emulate their example.

    • Encryption bill: compromise a result of bullying, claims IA

      The compromise encryption bill drafted by the government and Labor demonstrates just one thing – that bullying pays off, the head of Internet Australia, Dr Paul Brooks, claims.

    • Australia Passes Law Targeting WhatsApp and Signal

      Under new powers to be given to police and intelligence agencies, companies may be required to help decrypt communications on platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal, and even insert code to help capture data.

      The bill had support from both major parties and, late on Thursday, the opposition Labor party said it was withdrawing amendments it had previously demanded. That allowed the upper house to vote in support of the legislation, meaning it becomes law.

    • Politics rules as encryption bill becomes law with no amendments

      The Federal Government’s controversial encryption bill has been passed by Parliament without any amendments due to there being a lack of time for Labor to add any amendments in the Senate.

    • The “Yellow Jackets” Riots In France Are What Happens When Facebook Gets Involved With Local News

      It’s happening right now in France isn’t happening in a vacuum. The Yellow Jackets movement — named for the protesters’ brightly colored safety vests — is a beast born almost entirely from Facebook. And it’s only getting more popular. Recent polls indicate the majority of France now supports the protesters. The Yellow Jackets communicate almost entirely on small, decentralized Facebook pages. They coordinate via memes and viral videos. Whatever gets shared the most becomes part of their platform.

      Due to the way algorithm changes made earlier this year interacted with the fierce devotion in France to local and regional identity, the country is now facing some of the worst riots in many years — and in Paris, the worst in half a century.

    • Secret Facebook documents have just been published by British parliament

      A redacted version of the papers was pushed live on the website of the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, which is investigating Facebook’s privacy standards as part of an inquiry into “disinformation and fake news.”

      Damian Collins, a Conservative politician who is chair of the committee, prefaced the papers with a summary of what he sees as some of the most explosive revelations. These included: [...]

    • Facebook’s UK Document Dump Suggests User Privacy Was Sacrificed for Growth

      The documents, which date back to 2012, provide a rare window into CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s thoughts on how to expand his social media juggernaut as users made the transition from desktop to mobile phones. They also suggest a willingness within Facebook to sacrifice user privacy and undercut its competitors to continue driving growth.


      The documents were collected by Six4Three’s legal team as part of the discovery process for a lawsuit that alleges Facebook defrauded app developers by luring them with the promise of data, only to later cut them off from that information. [...]

    • Facebook also let dating apps have further access to Graph API back in 2015

      Two hundred fifty pages of previously secret internal documents from Facebook show that the company allowed even more companies to be “whitelisted”—granting them extended access to the company’s permissive v1.0 Graph API back in 2015—than has previously been known.

      In addition, the Wednesday release by a British lawmaker also confirms what Ars previously discovered via a failure to adequately redact public court filings from last year: Facebook once considered charging for access to user data.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • New Lancet Study Shows Right-Wing Attacks on Refugees and Migrants Based on ‘White Nationalist Propaganda’—Not Facts

      A new study published Thursday in The Lancet, one of the world’s preeminent medical journals, makes clear the increasingly familiar attacks used by right-wingers worldwide to dehumanize migrants and refugees by describing them as disease-infested is a xenophobic slur rooted in racism and hate, not facts or the science of public health.

      The two-year analysis by two dozen experts at universities including Johns Hopkins and Columbia found that international migrants are less likely than people born in their new countries to die of conditions including heart disease, cancer, respiratory illnesses, and others.

      The notion that immigrants like the small group of asylum-seekers who traveled from Central American countries to the U.S.-Mexico border recently are unhealthy and will bring disease into the U.S. “is a false argument that is used to keep migrants out,” one of the study’s authors, Dr. Paul Spiegel of the Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins, told NBC News.

    • FBI Moves to Fix Critical Flaw in Its Crime Reporting System

      The FBI will fast-track a fix to address flaws in its uniform crime report and is expected to change reporting rules to encourage more transparency about the outcomes of investigations by local law enforcement agencies, following a yearlong investigation by Newsy, Reveal from the Center For Investigative Reporting and ProPublica.

      The investigation uncovered a major flaw in the FBI’s next generation crime reporting system, the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The new system does not track cases police classify as “unfounded,” a category for when police say the victim is lying or the reported crime did not occur.

      In our November investigation, we found that the FBI reports zero unfounded cases for thousands of agencies using the new system, although records from those agencies show they classify many cases this way.

      For example, the Prince William County Police Department in Virginia showed no unfounded cases in the FBI crime statistics for 2016. However, internal department records show that Prince William County police classified nearly 40 percent of all rape cases as unfounded that year.

      “You have found something that needs to be corrected,” said Col. Edwin C. Roessler Jr., chairman of the FBI’s NIBRS transition task force, and chief of police in Fairfax County, Virginia. “This is a crisis, an emergency.”

    • Judge in Joe Bryan Case Rejects Defense Pleas for New Trial

      Despite compelling evidence that the forensic testimony used to convict former Texas high school principal Joe Bryan of murder was wrong, a Texas judge today recommended that Bryan’s conviction stand, and that he not be granted a new trial.

      Bryan, now 78 and in poor health, has served 31 years in prison despite lingering questions about who shot his wife, Mickey, in 1985.

      Judge Doug Shaver’s decision stunned Bryan’s attorneys, who had hoped for a different outcome after the seeming collapse of key elements of the prosecution’s case in September, during the final day of hearings over whether Bryan should be granted a new trial.

      In a dramatic moment at the hearing, a defense witness read an affidavit from retired police Detective Robert Thorman, the bloodstain-pattern analyst whose testimony had proved critical in convicting Bryan. In it, Thorman conceded that both his findings and testimony had been rife with errors. “My conclusions were wrong,” he wrote. “Some of the techniques and methodology were incorrect. Therefore, some of my testimony was not correct.”

      Thorman’s remarkable admission gave fresh optimism to Bryan and the scores of former neighbors, family members and even former prison staffers who attended the hearing that he might be granted another chance to prove his innocence. Bryan had been attending a principals’ convention in Austin, 120 miles from his home in Clifton, where Mickey was killed, in the days surrounding the murder. He has always maintained that he was in Austin, asleep in his hotel room, at the time of the crime.

      After the hearing, Bryan’s lawyers and the Bosque County District Attorney submitted written conclusions. Today, Shaver adopted the prosecution’s findings in their entirety – including an argument by Bosque County D.A. Adam Sibley that acknowledged that parts of Thorman’s testimony were incorrect but said it didn’t matter: “Thorman’s testimony was not important to the case.”

      Shaver also adopted Sibley’s position that because Thorman did not specify which of his conclusions were wrong, “the Court is unable to determine whether any of this testimony mattered.”

    • China Demands Canada Release Executive of Tech Giant

      China on Thursday demanded that Canada release an executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei who was arrested in a case that compounds tensions with the U.S. and threatens to complicate trade talks.

      Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Ltd., faces possible extradition to the United States, according to Canadian authorities. The Globe and Mail newspaper, citing law enforcement sources, said she is suspected of trying to evade U.S. trade curbs on Iran.

      Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, has been the target of deepening U.S. security concerns. Under Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, Washington has pressured European countries and other allies to limit use of its technology.

      The U.S. sees Huawei and smaller Chinese tech suppliers as possible fronts for spying and as commercial competitors. The Trump administration says they benefit from improper subsidies and market barriers.

      The timing of the arrest is awkward following the announcement of a U.S.-Chinese cease-fire in a trade war that has its roots in Beijing’s technology policy. Meng was detained in Vancouver on Saturday, the day Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met in Argentina and announced their deal.

    • Canada arrests top Huawei executive on suspicion of violating Iran sanctions

      It’s an extremely high-profile arrest, the first major break in a probe that has mostly been kept from the public and only after long-harbored suspicions about Huawei have become widespread. Meng happens to be the daughter of Huawei’s founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army engineer whose connection to the Chinese Communist Party has contributed to the suspicions of US intelligence agencies. Meng also serves as deputy chair on Huawei’s board.

    • Canada arrests Huawei’s global chief financial officer in Vancouver

      “She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday,” Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod said in a statement to The Globe and Mail on Wednesday. “As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time. The ban was sought by Ms. Meng.”

    • China Outraged at Arrest of Huawei CFO in Canada After U.S. Request

      News of Meng’s arrest provoked strong protest from the Chinese embassy in Canada, which called it a violation of its citizens’ rights while demanding the U.S. and its neighbor “rectify wrongdoings” and free Meng. Her arrest is sure to heighten tensions between Washington and Beijing days after the world’s two largest economies agreed on a truce in their growing trade conflict. Meng’s father Ren Zhengfei, a former army engineer, has won acclaim at home for toppling Apple Inc. in smartphones and turning an electronics reseller into a producer of networking gear with revenue surpassing Boeing Co. He’s regularly named among China’s top executives, and was among 100 business leaders honored for their contributions as the country celebrates the 40th anniversary of opening its economy. His stature at home is roughly comparable to Bill Gates or Michael Dell in the U.S.

    • Huawei CFO arrested in Canada as US seeks extradition

      Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday, it emerged on Wednesday night. American prosecutors are seeking to have her moved to the US as it investigates whether the company broke trade sanctions against Iran.

    • Man Shot By Cops Claims Shotspotter Found Phantom ‘Gunshot’ To Justify Officer’s Deadly Force

      A lawsuit originally filed early last year makes some very disturbing allegations about police officers and their relationship with their vendors. New York resident Silvon Simmons was shot three times by Rochester Police Officer Joseph Ferrigno. Simmons was unarmed, but was hit with three of the four bullets fired by Ferrigno as he ran way from the officer.

      Shortly before being shot. Simmons had been engaged in “Minding Your Own Business,” which can apparently be nearly-fatal. Returning from a trip to a convenience store shortly after 9 pm, Officer Ferrigno cut in front of him, hit Simmons with his spotlight, exited his car with his gun drawn, and opened fire when Simmons began running. According to Simmons’ amendment complaint [PDF] filed in August, Ferrigno never stated he was police officer before opening fire. Simmons, blinded by the spotlight, was unsure who was shooting at him. Even if he had known it was cop, he still would have had no idea why he was being stopped, much less shot at.

    • The Tragic Death of Byron Jacobs, Hero of the EGT Longshore Struggle

      Byron Jacobs, a fifth-generation longshoreman, was killed on the job in the Columbia River port of Longview, Washington this summer. At the age of 34, Byron was a courageous young union leader and former secretary-treasurer of Local 21 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Some 200 people came to a vigil in his memory on the docks, and more than 500 attended a memorial service on July 6. Byron Jacobs will be remembered with admiration for the exemplary leading role he played in the monumental struggle in 2011-12 against union-busting at the Export Grain Terminal (EGT) facility being built in Longview. That battle reverberated across the country as longshore workers, men and women, fought tooth and nail with mass actions in a class war like those in the 1930s that built the union movement.

    • Local Oregon Officials and Community Members Weigh in on Repeated Attacks After Pleading Insanity

      Malheur County, Oregon was stunned by terrible violence in recent years. In 2016 a man named Anthony Montwheeler was released from the state hospital, nearly two decades after being found “guilty except for insanity” for kidnapping his ex-wife and child. The Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB) accepted his claim that he had faked his mental illness and therefore could no longer be held in state custody. Less than a month after his release, prosecutors allege, Montwheeler murdered his ex-wife and killed a motorist in a car crash. A judge ruled he was not competent to stand trial for these new charges and ordered him returned to the state hospital for treatment.


      At the forum, Enterprise reporter Jayme Fraser presented her findings on some of the ways that these issues intersect to concerned community members and local officials, including Ontario Mayor Ron Verini, Ontario Mayor-Elect Riley Hill, Ontario City Councilors Dan Capron and Norm Crume, Malheur County District Attorney Dave Goldthorpe and Ontario Police Chief Cal Kunz. Fraser and Zaitz also took questions and listened to ideas for ways to potentially reform the system to better protect public safety while also protecting the rights of people with mental illness.

    • Re-education Camps, Infiltration, Surveillance: China Criticized over Persecution of Uyghur Muslims

      The United Nations and human rights groups have accused China’s government of setting up massive anti-Muslim “re-education” camps in the northwest Xinjiang province to disappear, jail and brainwash Uyghur Muslims. Some estimates put the population in the camps at up to 2 million. After months of denials, China acknowledged their existence in October, saying they are part of efforts to counter extremism. But Uyghurs say it’s a form of collective punishment — and that they live under a high-tech surveillance state designed to eradicate Islam. We speak to Rushan Abbas, a Uyghur-American activist based in Washington, DC. After she spoke out against China’s repression of the Uyghurs earlier this year, her aunt and sister disappeared and have not been heard from since.

    • “The Silence of Others”: New Film Warns Against Spain’s Fascist History Repeating Itself

      A far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion political party in Spain has made gains in regional elections, prompting protests in the streets. Members of Spain’s younger generation are too young to remember the brutal 40-year military dictatorship under General Francisco Franco. But a remarkable new documentary titled “The Silence of Others,” or “El Silencio de Otros,” hopes to remind Spaniards of the country’s fascist past, lest history repeat itself. The film follows several survivors of the Franco regime in their pursuit of justice. We speak with Spanish filmmaker Almudena Carracedo, who, along with Robert Bahar, wrote, produced and directed “The Silence of Others.”

    • Border Agent Indicted for Murder in 4 Texas Deaths

      A U.S. Border Patrol agent who confessed to killing four sex workers told investigators he wanted to “clean up the streets” of his Texas border hometown, a prosecutor said Wednesday while announcing that a grand jury had indicted the man for capital murder.

      Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said he will seek the death penalty for the September slayings and that evidence presented to the grand jury showed Juan David Ortiz killed the women “in a cold, callous and calculating way.”

      “The scheme in this case, from Ortiz’s own words, was to clean up the streets of Laredo by targeting this community of individuals who he perceived to be disposable, that no one would miss and that he did not give value to,” Alaniz said at a news conference.

    • 81 Migrant Children Separated From Parents Since June

      The Trump administration separated 81 migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border since the June executive order that stopped the general practice amid a crackdown on illegal crossings, according to government data obtained by The Associated Press.

      Despite the order and a federal judge’s later ruling, immigration officials are allowed to separate a child from a parent in certain cases — serious criminal charges against a parent, concerns over the health and welfare of a child or medical concerns. Those caveats were in place before the zero-tolerance policy that prompted the earlier separations at the border.

      The government decides whether a child fits into the areas of concern, worrying advocates of the families and immigrant rights groups that are afraid parents are being falsely labeled as criminals.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Telecom’s Top Lobbying Arm Oddly Keeps Undermining The Industry’s Own Claims About Net Neutrality

      The telecom industry (and by proxy Ajit Pai’s) primary justification for killing net neutrality — and FCC authority over ISPs in general — was that sector oversight was stunting network investment. Of course repeated analysis of the data shows that simply isn’t true, but that hasn’t stopped telecom lobbyists and the lawmakers who love them from repeating those claims in the hopes that repetition forges reality.

      And while telecom lobbying organizations like US Telecom continue to cling tight to this false narrative, the “science” they’ve been shoveling out in recent months to try and “prove” these claims leaves a little something to be desired.


      As we’ve been noting, said “investment-friendly environment” includes effectively neutering the FCC’s ability to police bad behavior in telecom, then shoveling all remaining responsibility to an FTC that lacks the authority, willpower, or desire to actually police giant ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast (the entire point). Said “investment-friendly environment” also currently involves trying to ban states from protecting broadband consumers from false advertising and fraud.

      Granted, nobody actually reads reports by groups like US Telecom outside of a few execs, consumer groups, and beat reporters, but the “science” they shovel forth does often tend to cement itself into the base layers of more policy conversations than you’d prefer. Still, after the last few months of exceptionally flawed efforts at “science,” perhaps US Telecom should spend less time accidentally emailing us their talking points, and more time pursuing something vaguely resembling intellectual consistency.

    • Ajit Pai buries 2-year-old speed test data in appendix of 762-page report

      Pai’s office ignored questions from Ars about the lack of new data, and his commission never provided documents in response to a public records request we made in August. But now, the FCC has released a draft of two Measuring Broadband America reports, one for 2017 and one for 2018.

      Instead of releasing each annual report individually once per year as the Obama administration did, Pai stuck the 2017 and 2018 reports into the final appendices of a new “Communications Marketplace Report” that essentially consolidates a bunch of reports that were formerly released individually. You can find the 2017 Measuring Broadband America report in Appendix F-1 on page 349 and the 2018 report in Appendix F-2 on page 463.

    • SoftBank Resumes Services after Shutting Down for Five Hours in Japan; O2 Continues to Face Problems Across UK

      United Kingdom and Japan both today suffered massive mobile network outages which left millions of users in the countries without smartphone coverage. Financial Times has reported that O2 network was hit by closure at 5AM local time. At the same time, Japan’s SoftBank also began experiencing problems. Both networks have a large following in the regions with O2 having 32 million users in UK and SoftBank over 30 million subscribers. The network outages are being attributed to issues with Ericsson equipment.

      FT report regarding this outage is based on two sources that have know-how of the situation. According to these sources, it is the equipment from the Swedish manufacturer that has caused the notorious outages. However, this claim has yet to be confirmed from O2, SoftBank and Ericsson. O2 released a statement in which it has only talked about a ‘global software issue’ with one of its international suppliers that is to be blamed for this huge outage. SoftBank on the other hand simply said that it was ‘examining the cause’ of the problem.

    • The TV Sector’s Latest Bad Idea: Ads That Play When You Press Pause

      While that might be true, it’s worth noting that AT&T’s not trialing this technology on its streaming platforms (like DirecTV Now), it’s implementing it on its traditional IPTV and satellite TV services, which usually cost consumers (on average) upwards of $100+ per month. Forcing additional advertising on customers already annoyed by high prices isn’t the path to winning back frustrated customers. Meanwhile, AT&T has no problem raising subscription rates on streaming anyway; the company just got done implementing a streaming price hike before the ink on its last merger was even dry, and is already hinting at another round of hikes.

      When you face real competition (something that’s a little alien to AT&T), you don’t get to choose when you compete on price and features. That’s why some wings of the cable and broadcast sector have finally started actually lowering the ad load in a bid to keep people from switching to streaming alternatives to heading to piracy. And while it’s true the sector needs to innovate around advertising, hitting already frustrated users with even more ads (when they’re probably not even in the room) doesn’t seem like the best path forward.

  • Repair

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Cubs, Nationals Launch Another Trademark Opposition Over A ‘W’ Logo

        Back in 2015, we wrote about a really dumb trademark dispute between a financial services firm and two Major League Baseball teams, the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs, over the letter “W.” This insanity went on for years, with the MLB teams claiming there would be some sort of customer confusion in the public between professional baseball teams and a company that provided money management.

        Well, in case you thought that this was insanity of the one-off variety, both baseball clubs are back at it with an opposition for the trademark of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, whose logo is, you guessed it, a “W.”

    • Copyrights

      • Nintendo Attempts To Bottle The Leak Genie With Copyright Strikes

        A cursory review of our posts on Nintendo will reveal a company all too willing to wield intellectual property purely as a way to combat anything it doesn’t like. The gaming giant jealously protects its IP, sure, but it also deploys its lawyers for such purposes as scaring the shit out of ROM sites, silencing YouTubers, shutting down fan-games from its biggest fans, and holding its consoles hostage unless customers agree to updated EULAs. Outside of Nintendo, many groups have tried to use copyright laws and the DMCA to combat leaks about content, or the content itself. This is rarely a good idea, what with the opportunity to use such leaks as free promotional material being an option instead.

        Well, as you may have heard, Nintendo suffered its own high-profile leak recently, with the forthcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate finding its way onto the internet before the game has even been released. As you would expect, Nintendo got its lawyers busy firing off DMCA notices for all kinds of sites that were hosting the actual game that leaked. It also, however, decided to issue copyright strikes on YouTubers who showed any of the games content.

      • Banksy’s Own Video Shredded By YouTube Following Canal+ Copyright Claim (Update)

        While Banksy prefers to operate in the shadows, he does have a YouTube account where he uploads some background info. This is what he did after a stunt at Sotheby’s in October. Today, this video has disappeared. Assuming that it’s not another ‘prank,’ the French media outfit Canal+ is responsible.

      • Kim Dotcom Extradition Battle May Have Years to Run

        Despite fighting legal battles in both the United States and New Zealand, Kim Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues have a long road ahead of them. Speaking in the Wellington Supreme Court today, lawyer for the US David Boldt indicated that the extradition battle may only be “at half-time”.

      • Join us for A Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain

        The public domain is our shared cultural heritage, a near limitless trove of creativity that’s been reused, remixed, and reimagined over centuries to create new works of art and science. The public domain forms the building blocks of culture because these works are not restricted by copyright law. Generally, works come into the public domain when their copyright term expires. But U.S. copyright law has greatly expanded over time, so that now many works don’t enter the public domain for a hundred years or more. Ever since the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, no new works have entered the public domain (well, none due to copyright expiration). But for the first time this January, hundreds of books, films, visual art, sheet music, and plays published in 1923 will be free of intellectual property [sic] restrictions, and anyone can use them for any purpose at all.


Links 6/12/2018: FreeNAS 11.2, Mesa 18.3 Later Today, Fedora Elections

Posted in News Roundup at 5:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source predictions for 2019

    Crystal ball? Are you there? Fine. I’ll go it alone.

    2018 was a rollicking fun year for open source, filled with highs, lows, and plenty of in-between. But what will 2019 hold for Linux and open source software? Let’s shrug off the continued introductory dialog and prognosticate.

  • Why Mozilla Matters

    Mozilla revenue rose by over $40 million USD in 2017 which sounds good until you notice that its expenses went up by over $80 million.

    Mozilla has filed its accounts for the financial year ended December 31st, 2017 and published them along with its annual report, The State of Mozilla 2017.

  • There’s BIG open source news on our 9th birthday

    Since those first days, we’ve frequently seen developers reach the #1 spot in various app stores. We’ve seen apps that have received millions of downloads, and app developers who have made a full time career out of mobile app development. But for many, it’s also a challenging time. The mobile app market has become over saturated. There has been a race-to-the-bottom in app pricing. New challenges extend up the development toolchain and impact the quality of top app engines.

    In this evolving industry landscape and these emerging challenges, change is good and necessary. With that in mind, we would like to introduce a big change for Corona. We have decided to get you — the developer community — more involved in Corona’s development, and open-source most of the engine. There are features you want, updates you need, and it’s simply time to get you more involved in Corona’s future. Corona Labs will continue to support the engine and going open source means more transparency to the process.

    We are certain you will have a lot of questions about how this will work, and as we have more to share, we will be continuously sharing new details with you. Also, feel free to discuss this in our community forums and in the CDN Slack.

  • ETSI Open Source MANO’s Latest Release Equips for 5G

    The European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) today released the latest version of its Open Source MANO (OSM) project. OSM is an operator-led group working on delivering an open source management and network orchestration (MANO) stack that aligns with ETSI NFV models. The latest code release from the group, Release FIVE, extends its capabilities to help operators toward 5G deployments.

    OSM released its first code in 2016 and now has around 110 organizations, namely vendors and operators, participating in the project. This includes Accedian, Aricent, Oracle, Saudi Telecom, University College London — which are just a handful of the 18 that have joined in the last six months.

    The group is developing a technology-agnostic stack that is enabled by a plugin framework. The newest code release furthers this framework toward transport technologies and maintains the project’s consistent modeling of NFV.

  • Why should CSPs embrace open source and OpenStack?

    What are the main motivators for CSPs to embrace open source, and how does OpenStack fit into a multi-cloud and increasingly cloud native architecture? A recent survey from TelecomTV of CSPs found that avoidance of vendor lock-in and decreasing time to market were amongst the main reasons for embracing open source. A comprehensive 91 per cent of CSPs said they are either already using OpenStack or plan to deploy it in the near future. However, a majority felt that working with the open source community is easier for the Tier One operators than it is for the smaller tier two and threes, and almost three-quarters felt there were simply too many open source projects. Given these findings, how should CSPs work with open source and OpenStack in particular? Two of the leading CSPs in North America join the panel to discuss their experiences and give advice to others.

  • Why you should be using open-source crypto wallets

    The last couple of years have been unexpectedly great in terms of popularizing cryptocurrencies as either means of payment or speculative investments. By now, it’s pretty common to find people who store their coins in software wallets. They are quick, easy to use, and very convenient for commerce. However, the issue at stake is that a very small amount of these wallets actually benefit from the security advantages of open source software. Therefore, this article aims to point out these bad choices and highlight the better alternatives.

    The faux-open source choices.

    If you randomly ask casual crypto enthusiasts about the software wallets they’re using, the most common responses you get include Jaxx, Exodus, and Coinomi. Though some of these do include parts that are open-sourced or borrow industry-standard elements, the final versions contain multiple additions to the code that cannot be reviewed by everybody in a GitHub repository.

    There are several reasons why people use an application like Jaxx: the mobility factor (you can have your wallet on your phone as well as on your home computer), the intuitive interface, the advanced functions (such as instant Shapeshift or Changelly conversions), and the effective marketing behind the efforts. Just the idea of managing your entire crypto portfolio within the UI of a single application is appealing to lots of enthusiasts.

  • Create your own free Adobe Creative Cloud with free and open source software

    Earlier this week, I talked about the muscle memory monopoly Adobe and other vendors have on users. As we become more and more experienced with these commercial products, we also become more tied to them.

    But they are expensive. Individual, non-student licenses for Adobe Creative Cloud can be upwards of $600 per year. While there are lower cost alternatives to many of the individual applications included in Creative Cloud, buying them can add up as well.

    A number of you reached out to me asking what you could do if you wanted the capabilities of Creative Cloud, but didn’t want to spend the money. In this gallery, we’ll look at the 11 main Creative Cloud products and find (mostly) workable substitutes.

  • Docker commits to open source, promises to put users into a ‘state of flow’

    Docker’s CTO said he wants the company’s customers to lose all track of time in a keynote that outlined how the firm plans to reach developers that are nowhere near being cloud native.

  • Docker Inc. Open Sources Kubernetes Configuration Tool

    At the DockerCon Europe 2018 conference, Docker Inc. today announced it will make Docker Compose for Kubernetes available as an open source project. Docker Compose for Kubernetes was developed by Docker Inc. to make it easier to configure Kubernetes clusters running on top of the Docker Enterprise platform; now it is available to the broader Kubernetes community.

    Company CTO Kal De told conference attendees that Docker Inc. would remain committed to leading the development of open source projects even as the company seeks to drive revenue via commercial software and services engagements with enterprise IT organizations. Today, Docker claims it has more than 650 commercial customers and is adding new customers at a rate of over 100 per quarter.

  • Preserving software’s legacy

    All throughout our lives we are reminded of events from the past. History teaches us about what happened before us to help us understand how society came to be as it is today. But today we live in a digital age, and while leaders, laws, wars and other parts of our history will always be important to know; what about software? Technology is everywhere and it is rapidly changing every day. Should we care about where it all started?

    The Software Heritage was launched with a mission to collect, preserve and share all software source code that is publicly available. It is currently working towards building the largest global source code archive ever. The Software Heritage was founded by the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation Inria, and it is backed by partners and supporters such as Crossminer, Qwant, Microsoft, Intel, Google and GitHub.

  • Living Open Source in Zambia

    In a previous article I’ve announced my sponsorship project, where I offered to help a motivated young Linux Professional getting certified. I found an ideal candidate, and he has taken the RHCSA exam, and now we’re ready to take the next step.

    Santos Chibenga from Zambia is so engaged in the local Linux community in Zambia that we decided to host an event together: https://www.vieo.tv/event/linux-event-lusaka-zambia. In this event we will have local speakers, and I will educate nearly 200 participants to become LFCS certified. As we realised that this event was growing bigger than expected, we have opened the event for sponsors as well.

  • Toyota Builds Open-Source Car-Hacking Tool

    A Toyota security researcher on his flight from Japan here to London carried on-board a portable steel attaché case that houses the carmaker’s new vehicle cybersecurity testing tool.

    Takuya Yoshida, a member of Toyota’s InfoTechnology Center, along with his Toyota colleague Tsuyoshi Toyama, are part of the team that developed the new tool, called PASTA (Portable Automotive Security Testbed), an open-source testing platform for researchers and budding car hacking experts. The researchers here today demonstrated the tool, and said Toyota plans to share the specifications on Github, as well as sell the fully built system in Japan initially.

  • AWS is fashionably (or frustratingly) late to open source, but ready to party

    To the scowling, sleep-deprived developers sniping at Amazon Web Services Inc. for slacking on open source: AWS is fed up. It’s put together a team devoted to upping open-source activity and is steadily contributing new software.

    “We’re getting criticized for not making enough contributions,” said Adrian Cockcroft ‏(pictured), vice president of cloud architecture strategy at AWS. “But we’ve been making more, and we’re making more, and we’ll just keep making more contributions until people give credit for it.”

  • Web Browsers

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD Updates Its Intel DRM/KMS Driver Port For Kaby, Coffee & Whiskey Lake

      Cleared from this week’s DragonFlyBSD 5.4 release, feature work is resuming on this BSD operating system towards the DragonFlyBSD 5.6 release expected out in about six months based on their usual release cadence. Some early work now staged is updating the Intel DRM/KMS driver for a slew of recent hardware.

      DragonFlyBSD’s Intel DRM driver, which is based upon a continually updating port from the Intel “i915″ Linux DRM code, has picked up support for many of the recent Intel graphics adapters… But with the recent processor refreshes sticking to the same graphics architecture featured in Kabylake, it’s mostly a matter of adding in all the new PCI IDs.

    • FreeNAS 11.2 is released
    • Stable release: HardenedBSD-stable 11-STABLE v1100056.10

    • Free Software Foundation Received 1 Million USD from Handshake

      The Free Software Foundation just received a series of earmarked charitable donations from Handshake. The donations amount to a total of $1 million USD. The FSF has already received a $1 million Bitcoin donation from the Pineapple Fund earlier this year. With all this funding, the FSF will be in a good position to develop necessary upgrades for the GNU Project, among other things.

      The Free Software Foundation is of course a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded by Richard Stallman of GNU Project fame. Richard Stallman founded the FSF in 1985, in order to support free software development. He had already founded the Free / Open Source Software Movement in 1983. Therefore, the FSF is basically the official funding source of the FOSSM.

    • Introducing Hrishikesh Barman, intern with the FSF tech team

      Hello everyone! My name is Hrishikesh Barman, and I am a third-year computer science undergraduate student. Growing up, I had an inclination towards computer networks, and in my first year at college I got started with programming properly. Eventually, I got introduced to free software, and it always gave me immense pleasure to be a small part of a bigger project by contributing to it. I realized that tech is made for the people (the society) and not the other way around, and users should have software freedom.

      I came to know about the FSF through a documentary about Aaron Swartz. I greatly appreciated the FSF’s ideas and was intrigued to be a part of it, so when I got the mail that I’ve been selected as a fall tech intern it was truly a great moment for me. The interview process was very smooth and friendly. I am being mentored by Ian, Andrew, and Ruben from the tech team. I am really psyched about the campaigns and the tech things happening at the FSF.

    • Support software freedom: Shop the GNU Press
    • libredwg-0.7 released
  • Public Services/Government

    • “Joinup, the ideal dissemination platform for our open source solutions.” A testimonial from Francesca Bria from the Barcelona City Council

      The Barcelona City Council is actively promoting the use and reuse of free software, open source solutions and open standards beyond their City Hall. This is outlined in the Barcelona Digital City strategy set by the Commissioner for Technology and Digital Innovation. To support this strategy, Barcelona has created an open source team to help internal departments that need to migrate to open source, providing them with digitally clear ethical standards, guidelines and best practices, as well as, supporting them throughout the whole process, including licencing and publishing the solutions on the municipal’s GitHub space. The Barcelona City Council Open Source Team also started to actively promote a citywide FLOSS community and the dissemination of their solutions on platforms such as Joinup, to ensure they reach the maximum number of people and public sector organisations.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Western Digital will open source SweRV RISC-V CPU designs and tools

        On Tuesday, Western Digital, an early adopter and vocal proponent of RISC-V, announced plans to open source their implementation of the RISC-V ISA and associated development resources, providing the ability for the open source community to utilize their implementation of the architecture in their own products as well as iterate on it to meet the needs of their own products.

        SweRV Core EHX1, the first generation of RISC-V processors at Western Digital, is a 32-bit, 2-way superscalar, 9 stage pipeline core capable of clock speeds up to 1.8 GHz, produced on a 28mm CMOS process, at 4.90 CoreMark/MHz, which slightly outperforms ARM Cortex A15 (at 4.72 CoreMark/MHz). For their own products, Western Digital touts it as being fit for “embedded devices supporting data-intensive edge applications, such as storage controllers, industrial IoT, real-time analytics in surveillance systems, and other smart systems.” Plans for SweRV Core will be released in Q1 2019.

      • Western Digital unveils open-source SweRV RISC-V core

        Western Digital has lifted the lid on its first in-house processor, the RISC-V-based SweRV Core, which it is to release under an open source licence.

        That Western Digital has been playing with the open RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA), using which anyone can produce a processor design without paying a penny in royalties or licensing fees, is no secret: Back in 2017 the company pledged to switch to RISC-V in its storage processing products with a view to shipping a billion cores over the following two years. It’s not alone, either: Nvidia has begun transitioning away from proprietary cores to RISC-V to drive input/output in its graphics products, Rambus uses RISC-V in security parts, and it has even found its way into SSD storage controllers.

      • Western Digital To Open-Source The “SweRV” RISC-V Core In 2019

        More than a year ago Western Digital talked up how they would begin designing RISC-V cores and shipping them in devices and that is indeed panning out. The company has unveiled their new SweRV core and plans to open-source it in 2019.

        At the RISC-V Summit, Western Digital talked about their continued investment into this royalty-free, open-source processor ISA. Their current RISC-V design is dubbed SweRV and is a 32-bit, 2-way super-scalar design that features a 9-stage pipeline core and clocks up to 1.8GHz and manufactured on a 28nm process. Western Digital plans to use SweRV within flash controllers / storage devices and other embedded designs.

      • The Libre RISC-V Vulkan Accelerator Will Be Targeting 25 FPS @ 720p, 5~6 GFLOPs

        For those interested in the proposed quad-core RISC-V Libre SoC that is intended to go in-step with the Rust-written Kazan for offering Vulkan support, the initial performance target has now been shared.

        While keeping in mind the Libre RISC-V effort is still very young into its endeavor, the performance target they are hoping for is 1280 x 720 25 fps, 100 Mpixels/sec, 30 Mtriangles/sec, 5-6 GFLOPs, according to their new Libre RISC-V M-Class page. Of course, that’s very low by today’s standards for GPUs and even for licensable graphics core IP available to embedded/mobile vendors, especially with the Libre RISC-V if everything pans out probably not premiering until 2020 at the earliest. But while the performance may be severely limited compared to what’s currently available, their differentiation again is on being a “100% libre” design built atop the royalty-free RISC-V processor ISA.

      • Industry’s first RISC-V SoC FPGA architecture brings real-time to Linux [Ed: PCQ Bureau ‘plagiarises’ a press release, edits it mildly, then pretends it’s a “news” “report” and calls itself a “news” site (filed under “NEWS”)]

        In a new era of computing driven by the convergence of 5G, machine learning and the internet of things (IoT), embedded developers need the richness of Linux-based operating systems. These must meet deterministic system requirements in ever lower power, thermally constrained design environments—all while addressing critical security and reliability requirements.

      • Microchip – RISC-V SoC FPGA architecture brings real-time to Linux allowing developers to innovate

        Microchip, via its Microsemi Corporation subsidiary, has extended its Mi-V ecosystem with a new class of SoC FPGAs. The new family joins what is claimed to be the industry’s lowest power mid-range PolarFire FPGA family with a total microprocessor subsystem based on the open, royalty-free RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture.

        The company’s new PolarFire SoC architecture brings real-time deterministic AMP capability to Linux platforms in a multi-core coherent CPU cluster. The SoC architecture, developed in collaboration with SiFive, emphasises a flexible 2MB L2 memory subsystem that can be configured as a cache, scratchpad or direct access memory. This enables designers to implement deterministic real-time embedded applications simultaneously with a rich operating system for a variety of thermal and space-constrained applications in collaborative, networked IoT systems.

        The SoC includes extensive debug capabilities incorporating instruction trace, 50 breakpoints, passive run-time configurable AXI bus monitors and FPGA fabric monitors, in addition to the company’s built-in two-channel logic analyser, SmartDebug.

  • Programming/Development

    • Learn C++ with the help of LibreOffice developers
    • Type erasure and reification
    • Lets move on to the next game level!
    • Search for any duplicate file with python
    • Django Form Example—Bootstrap 4 UI via django-crispy-forms
    • Sets in Python

      In this article, we will be discussing the various operations that can be performed on sets in Python.

    • PyCharm 2018.3.1

      PyCharm 2018.3.1 is now available, with various bug fixes.

    • Create your own Telegram bot with Django on Heroku – Part 10 – Creating a view for your bot’s webhook

      This time, I will provide you with the last piece of the puzzle to make your bot available to the world. You will learn how to write and wire the Python code to actually use all that we have prepared so far. At the end of this part, your bot will be able to receive and store each message sent to it by registered users. And since it’s already more than a month since I published the previous article in this series, let’s not waste any more time and jump right in!

    • This Week in Rust 263

      This week’s crate is cargo-call-stack, a cargo subcommand for whole-program call stack analysis. Thanks to Jorge Aparicio for the suggestion!

    • Blueprint for a team with a DevOps mindset

      I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the brightest minds and leaders in my 33 years of software engineering. I’ve also been fortunate to work for a manager who made me question my career daily and systematically broke down my passion—like a destructive fire sucking the oxygen out of a sealed space. It was an unnerving period, but once I broke free, I realized I had the opportunity to reflect on one of the greatest anti-patterns for effective teams.

      It should come as no surprise that the culture of an organization and its engineering teams is the greatest challenge when embarking on a DevOps mindset transformation. The organization needs to influence through leadership and autonomy, promoting a culture of learning and experimentation, where failure is an opportunity to innovate, not persecute. Fear of retribution should be frowned upon like the archaic Indian practice of Sati. Teams need to feel they are operating in a safe environment, understand what the transformation entails, and know how they will be affected.

    • Highlights from the 2018 NYC DISC Sprint

      DISC Committee members went all out to spread the word for this Sprint and the effort really paid off!

      We reached out to folks across a number of different channels including dev/color, Techqueria, Taiwanese Data Professionals, and PyLadies. Even managed to include a blurb at PyData NYC during the Panel Discussion: My First Open Source Contribution.

    • How to reverse a list in Python
    • Sending Emails With Python

      You probably found this tutorial because you want to send emails using Python. Perhaps you want to receive email reminders from your code, send a confirmation email to users when they create an account, or send emails to members of your organization to remind them to pay their dues. Sending emails manually is a time-consuming and error-prone task, but it’s easy to automate with Python.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Roadblocks to Health Care Could Be a Death Sentence

      Depending upon your state of residency, you might have a harder time getting and keeping Medicaid. By sheer luck of geography, folks in some states have more of a safety net than their neighbors in other states.

      Medicaid was created in 1965 by Lyndon Johnson and was authorized by the Title XIX of the Social Security Act. It was designed to provide health coverage for the elderly, low income folks, and women and children.

      The Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare — expanded this vital lifeline for families. The health care law saved lives because it helped millions of folks finally get access to care, some for the first time in their lives.

      Unfortunately, since the law was passed, Republicans have been systemically trying to destroy it. And they’ve had a lot of help from the states.

      I live in Michigan. This past summer, outgoing Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed off on a bill that requires Medicaid recipients to work, making it more difficult for folks to keep their health care.

      This is concerning on many levels.

    • ‘A Great Shame’: Taken From Oceans Around the World, 100% of Sea Turtles in New Study Had Plastics in Their Bellies

      A new study of sea turtles in three oceans and seas drove home the point, green campaigners said Wednesday, that the world’s governments and corporations are not doing enough to reduce plastic pollution—and marine life is suffering as a result.

      One hundred and two sea turtles inhabiting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea were the subject of the study by the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the United Kingdom—and all 102 of the creatures were found with plastics, microplastics, and other synthetics in their digestive systems.

      “From our work over the years we have found microplastic in nearly all the species of marine animals we have looked at; from tiny zooplankton at the base of the marine food web to fish larvae, dolphins, and now turtles,” said Penelope Lindeque, who co-authored the report. “This study provides more evidence that we all need to help reduce the amount of plastic waste released to our seas and maintain clean, healthy and productive oceans for future generations.”

  • Security

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #188
    • Critical Vulnerability Allows Kubernetes Node Hacking

      Kubernetes has received fixes for one of the most serious vulnerabilities ever found in the project to date. If left unpatched, the flaw could allow attackers to take over entire compute nodes.

      “With a specially crafted request, users that are allowed to establish a connection through the Kubernetes API server to a backend server can then send arbitrary requests over the same connection directly to that backend, authenticated with the Kubernetes API server’s TLS credentials used to establish the backend connection,” the Kubernetes developers said in an advisory.

    • Kubernetes Discloses Major Security Flaw

      Kubernetes disclosed a critical security flaw — the container orchestration tool’s first major vulnerability to date — and released Kubernetes 1.13.

      But first: the security flaw. It affects all Kubernetes-based products and services, and it gives hackers full administrative privileges on any compute node being run in a Kubernetes cluster.

      As Red Hat’s Ashesh Badani wrote, “This is a big deal. Not only can this actor steal sensitive data or inject malicious code, but they can also bring down production applications and services from within an organization’s firewall.”

    • Critical Kubernetes Bug Gives Anyone Full Admin Privileges [Ed: No, not everyone. Only those who already have access to that particular system.]
    • What does the Kubernetes privilege escalation flaw mean
    • Before Patched, Kubernetes Security Flaw Spread to OpenShift

      A security flaw discovered in the de facto standard Kubernetes cloud container orchestrator allowed unauthorized users access to Kubernetes clusters and the data they contain.

      The “privilege escalation vulnerability” announced Monday (Dec. 3) by developers affects versions 1.0 and higher of the Kubernetes orchestrator along with Red Hat OpenShift container platform. Red Hat rated the vulnerability as “critical,” denoting its potential impact on production operations.

    • Upgrades Recommended To Address Critical Kubernetes Flaws

      The flaws are associated with privilege “abuse,” but there’s also a problem with being able to exploit calls to Kubernetes API servers. Default Kubernetes configurations permit “all users (authenticated and unauthenticated)” to make such API server calls, according to the announcement, so it’s a wide-open issue. Attacks can get initiated by a “specially crafted request” sent to the back end server, according to the Kubernetes announcement, which omitted the details.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • EternalSuffering: NSA Exploits Still Being Successfully Used To Hijack Computers More Than A Year After Patching [Ed: TechDirt calls Micrososft Windows-running machines with NSA back doors just “computers” (ha! How convenient an excuse; blame the user for back doors!)]

      More of the same, then. Perhaps not at the scale seen in the past, but more attacks using the NSA’s hoarded exploits. Hoarding exploits is a pretty solid plan, so long as they don’t fall into the hands of… well, anyone else really. Failing to plan for this inevitability is just one of the many problems with the NSA’s half-assed participation in the Vulnerability Equities Process.

      Since the tools began taking their toll on the world’s computer systems last year, there’s been no sign the NSA is reconsidering its stance on hunting and hoarding exploits. The intelligence gains are potentially too large to be sacrificed for the security of millions of non-target computer users. It may claim these tools are essential to national security, but for which nation? The exploits wreaked havoc all over the world, but it would appear the stash of exploits primarily benefited one nation before they were inadvertently dumped into the public domain. Do the net gains in national security outweigh the losses sustained worldwide? I’d like to see the NSA run the numbers on that.

    • event-stream, npm, and trust

      Malware inserted into a popular npm package has put some users at risk of losing Bitcoin, which is certainly worrisome. More concerning, though, is the implications of how the malware got into the package—and how the package got distributed. This is not the first time we have seen package-distribution channels exploited, nor will it be the last, but the underlying problem requires more than a technical solution. It is, fundamentally, a social problem: trust.

      Npm is a registry of JavaScript packages, most of which target the Node.js event-driven JavaScript framework. As with many package repositories, npm helps manage dependencies so that picking up a new version of a package will also pick up new versions of its dependencies. Unlike, say, distribution package repositories, however, npm is not curated—anyone can put a module into npm. Normally, a module that wasn’t useful would not become popular and would not get included as a dependency of other npm modules. But once a module is popular, it provides a ready path to deliver malware if the maintainer, or someone they delegate to, wants to go that route.

    • IT Security Lessons from the Marriott Data Breach

      A number of data breaches have been disclosed over the course of 2018, but none have been as big or had as much impact as the one disclosed on Nov. 30 by hotel chain Marriott International.

      A staggering 500 million people are at risk as a result of the breach, placing it among the largest breaches of all time, behind Yahoo at 1 billion. While the investigation and full public disclosure into how the breach occurred is still ongoing, there are lots of facts already available, and some lessons for other organizations hoping to avoid the same outcome.

    • The Dark Side of the ForSSHe: Shedding light on OpenSSH backdoors

      SSH, short for Secure SHell, is a network protocol to connect computers and devices remotely over an encrypted network link. It is generally used to manage Linux servers using a text-mode console. SSH is the most common way for system administrators to manage virtual, cloud, or dedicated, rented Linux servers.

      The de facto implementation, bundled in almost all Linux distributions, is the portable version of OpenSSH. A popular method used by attackers to maintain persistence on compromised Linux servers is to backdoor the OpenSSH server and client already installed.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Senators accuse Saudi crown prince of complicity in Khashoggi murder

      “If the Crown Prince went in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes,” Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said after a closed-door Senate briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel. In other words, Corker and his fellow Senators were convinced by the evidence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    • Shot In the Head, His Back to Soldiers

      Israeli soldiers just shot and killed Muhammad Habali, a 22-year-old disabled man, as he walked home from work in Tulkarem, in the northern occupied West Bank, during a late-night raid on the neighborhood. After leaving his job at a coffee shop, Habali crossed a street where Israeli forces were attacking residents and local Palestinians were trying to defend their homes – or, in the words of the IDF, “a violent riot was instigated and dozens of Palestinians hurled rocks at IDF troops, (who) responded with riot dispersal means and later on with live fire.” They shot Habali with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the groin before shooting him again in the head. According to his older brother Alaa Hussam – and video footage – “His back was towards the soldiers. He was walking away from them.” Habali, who had difficulty speaking, lived with seven siblings and was “simple and quiet…always helping people.”

      The assault on Tulkarem was one of almost nightly raids by Israeli forces in occupied territories, usually between midnight and dawn, ostensibly to search for “wanted” Palestinians and potential attackers but largely to terrorize an already beleaguered people. Often illegally crossing into areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, the raids are catastrophically successful: According to Palestinian sources, in November alone the IDF killed 24 Palestinians (mostly in Gaza), arrested 260, including children, and issued 33 deportation orders. Thus have Israeli forces “repeatedly violated…international law by responding to stone-throwing protests by using excessive force,” says Amnesty International, and the murder of innocents like Muhammad Habali is “nothing new.” From Yousef Munayyer to the willfully incognizant CNN and others in U.S. media who cling to the illusion of Israel as “the holy of holies”: “From the River to the Sea, Israel practices Apartheid. If you are more bothered by people calling for freedom and equality between the river and the sea than the actual horrific reality on the ground there, maybe the problem is with you.”

    • What’s Been Learned From The First World War?

      Such are true words written 77 years before the opening of World War One. For more or less, the war still rages. Pre-war, various financial institutions acted as catalysts for the war. Backing their perspective European politics, aimed to control the world. For which is now for then is the same now.

      There is capital to be made in world domination and human suffering. For even in todays epoch, do the financial interests of the world scramble to build their country’s empires. The infamous usage of chemical warfare continues. This is the case for Israel and Saudi Arabia. Israel openly using white phosphorous in their genocidal apartheid against Palestinians.

      The Saudi royal crown, has been said to have murdered Jamal Khashoggi over information relating to the subsidence. The substance, keep in mind, is a weapon of mass destruction. In America, President Donald Trump pursues an aggressive foreign policy to secure America’s financial interests. Going as far as removing the long stand nuclear arms agreement with the Russian Federation. An immensely destabilizing move in foreign policy, by the United States.

      Furthermore, our aerial warfare is second to none. For as of now, our drones rain fire down on wedding convoy. They strike like a thief in the night. Meanwhile, Lockheed-Martin’s the state of the art F-22 Raptor fighter jet is 70% over budget. It promises to have lasers on it too.

    • Air Cocaine: Poppy Bush, the Contras and a Secret Airbase in the Backwoods of Arkansas

      On March 16, 1986, President Ronald Reagan went on national television to make a desperate pitch for the restoration of congressional aid to the Nicaraguan Contras. This particular war had never been popular with Americans, who stubbornly remained indifferent to lurid scenarios proffered by the Great Communicator that the Sandinistas might sweep north through Guatemala and Mexico to menace Texas. So Reagan deployed a new tactic, denouncing the Sandinistas as a regime that had its hand in the drug trade.

      For the previous six months, Oliver North and his colleagues at the National Security Council and the CIA had been leaking stories to the Washington press corps charging that the leadership of the Nicaraguan government, including Defense Minister Humberto Ortega, was in league with the Medellin cartel and with Fidel Castro in a hemisphere –wide cocaine-trafficking network. On that March evening, Reagan displayed a series of grainy photographs purporting to show Sandinista officials loading duffel bags of cocaine in a C-123K military transport plane destined for Miami, Florida.

      “I know that every American parent concerned about the drug problem will be outrage to hear that top Nicaraguan government officials are deeply involved in drug trafficking,” Reagan said. “This picture, secretly taken at a military airfield outside Managua, shows Frederico Vaughn, a top aide to one of the nine commandants who rule Nicaragua, loading aircraft with illegal narcotics bound for the United States.”

      As that Time magazine editor told his reporter Lawrence Zuckerman, this was precisely the kind of drug story that would end up on the front pages of American newspapers. But it turned out to be a setup, part of an elaborate sting operation concocted by Oliver North, the CIA, George Bush’s drug task force and a convicted drug runner named Barriman Alder Seal. It was Seal who had piloted the plane, equipped with CIA-installed cameras, to that Nicaraguan airstrip and brought the cocaine back to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. In return for his services, Seal received more than $700,000 and a reduced sentence on pending drug convictions.


      Over the next week, Seal visited Panama and Guatemala before returning to Miami, where he conferred with Bustamante and other US representatives of the Medellin cartel. They set up plans for a series of drug flights from Colombia and Panama to Miami, and Seal invited the Colombians to come with him to Mena to inspect the planes that Seal was planning to use for the cocaine flights. The next day Seal flew four Colombians to Mena, where he treated the drug dealers to a lunch of Cajun food and took them for a spin in his new Lockheed Lodestar jet. The Colombians were duly impressed and gave the green light for the drug flights to begin.

      The following day Seal relayed the plans to DEA agent Jacobsen, who got approval from the Colombian government for Seal to enter the country and pick up a load of cocaine. Before taking off for Colombia, Seal took the opportunity to make two trips to his bank in the Bahamas, where he deposited several hundred thousand dollars in cash.

    • Putin Says If U.S. Builds Missiles, So Will Russia

      Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the United States that if it walks out of a key arms treaty and starts developing the type of missiles banned by it, Russia will do the same.

    • The Myth-Making Around George H.W. Bush

      Most press in the United States have lionized former President George H.W. Bush, insisting he was a “kinder” and “gentler” statesman, who possessed a decency rarely exhibited in government anymore.

      As the federal government mostly shuts down and stock markets remain closed on the day of the forty-first president’s funeral, the press have another full day to gloss over and completely disregard the parts of Bush’s career that were scandalous and grossly impacted people throughout the world.

      In particular, any mention of the invasion of Iraq, which Bush launched in 1991, is unquestionably treated as a momentous victory. He is praised for not pursuing a long and costly military occupation.

      Douglas Brinkley, who is CNN’s presidential historian, said, “James Baker [former chief of staff and secretary of state for Bush] likes to say people don’t ask me why we didn’t go into Baghdad anymore. There’s Gulf War One, which we did it right. We liberated Kuwait, filled our mission, and went home and called ‘Operation Desert Shield’ a huge success.”

      “And then there’s the Second Gulf War where we tried to go in and take Baghdad and run civil society in Iraq. And that second war didn’t work well because we overextended the limits of a U.S. intervention,” Brinkley added.

    • How False Testimony and a Massive U.S. Propaganda Machine Bolstered George H.W. Bush’s War on Iraq

      As the media memorializes George H.W. Bush, we look at the lasting impact of his 1991 invasion of Iraq and the propaganda campaign that encouraged it. Although the Gulf War technically ended in February of 1991, the U.S. war on Iraq would continue for decades, first in the form of devastating sanctions and then in the 2003 invasion launched by George W. Bush. Thousands of U.S. troops and contractors remain in Iraq. A largely forgotten aspect of Bush Sr.’s war on Iraq is the vast domestic propaganda effort before the invasion began. We look at the way U.S. media facilitated the war on Iraq with journalist John “Rick” MacArthur, president and publisher of Harper’s Magazine and the author of the book “Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War.”

    • Criminal History: BCCI, the Bushes … and Mueller

      As the newly dead George Herbert Walker Bush luxuriates in the accolades of America’s bipartisan political/media establishment, I thought it meet to look again at the article below, which I wrote in 2006, detailing one of the great glories of his great and glorious reign: the thwarting of the investigation into BCCI, “one of the largest criminal organizations in history.” Strangely enough, I saw a now-familiar name popping up as one of the key figures in this nefarious cover-up operation by the Bush crime family (who make the Trump Gang look like the two-bit pikers they are): one Robert Mueller, champion of the Resistance and incorruptible shield of the Republic.

    • The Amazing GWHB Hagiography

      Even by the recent can’t-believe-your-eyes-and-ears standards of American elitist hagiography this week’s over-the-top-of-the-top praise of George H.W. Bush was astonishing.

      What separated Bush41apalooza from such previous pseudo-griefathons as those for Ronald Reagan and John McCain was that there was so little to work with. Not that it stopped the media.

      I knew this was an insane historical benchmark when a major network interrupted its coverage of the G-20 summit with the BREAKING NEWS that George W. Bush had issued a statement about his dead dad: “George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.” Stop the presses!

      When a right-wing Republican like Bush dies you can count on a Democrat to deliver his most fulsome praise. “America has lost a patriot and humble servant,” said Barack and Michelle Obama. “While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude…George H.W. Bush’s life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey.”

      Trump lies constantly but it took the death of Bush 41 for American “leaders” and their media mouthpieces to fully commit to speaking an English language whose words have no meaning whatsoever. In this dystopia I’d call Orwellian save for the fact that old George’s prophecy didn’t anticipate its hilarious absurdity, a man who ran for president three times qualifies as “humble.” A commander-in-chief who ordered the massacre of tens of thousands of innocent people in one of the most gruesome war crimes ever recorded—the “Highway of Death” following the ceasefire that ended the Gulf War—is described as having great character—yet no one upchucks all over the camera lens as if it were a Japanese prime minister.

      A steward of the economy who refused to stimulate a tide or raise any boats in the middle of a brutal six-year-long recession can be called many things but not—before the Obamas—“joyous.” Preppy, I’ll give you. Joyous, no.

    • Trump’s International Anti-Iran Coalition Looks Like It’s Falling Apart. He Doesn’t Have a Back-Up Plan.

      President Donald Trump set out to pick a fight with Iran from the early days of his administration. But a set of astonishing developments has pulled the rug out from under his feet, and the next three months will determine whether Trump will opt to escalate his provocations or find a face-saving exit from his bravado.

      Only a few months ago, Trump was oozing with confidence, having pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, worked with the Saudis to squeeze oil exports and announced the reimposition of sanctions to the pleasure of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

      As a result, the Iranian currency, the rial, was tanking and a noticeable sense of nervousness permeated Iran. The country had weathered sanctions before, but something felt different this time around.

    • Is Bush’s Legacy So Different From Trump’s?

      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.

      In 1989, Bush had the DEA lure a teenager to sell crack cocaine just across the street from the White House. They chose Keith Jackson, a 19-year-old African American high school student from Anacostia who, thanks to a very segregated D.C., didn’t even know where the White House was.

    • What Is Left for the US To Do in Afghanistan? The Answer: Lose.

      I’ll admit it. I’m sick of writing about America’s longest war – the quagmire in Afghanistan. Still, in a time of near media blackout on this issue, someone has to keep banging the drum. Of late, it seems every single week that those of us who follow the war are inundated with more bad news. It all adds up to what this author has long been predicting in Afghanistan: the impending military defeat of the U.S.-trained Afghan Army and its American advisors. This is a fact that should rattle the public, shake up policymakers, and usher in a holistic review of the entirety of America’s interventions in the Greater Middle East. Only don’t count on it – Washington prefers, like a petulant child, to cover its proverbial eyes and ignore the fated failure of this hopeless war and several others like it.

      This past month, four US service members were killed in Afghanistan, bringing the 2018 total to 13 American deaths. That may sound like a relatively modest casualty count, but given the contracted US troop totals in country and the transition to using those troopers only in an advisory capacity, this represents a serious spike in American deaths. Add to this the exponential rise in Afghan Security Force casualties over the last few years, and the recent rise in green-on-blue attacks – in which partnered Afghan “allies” turn their guns on their American advisors – and matters look even worse. Despite the ubiquitous assertions of senior US commander after commander that the mission has “turned a corner,” and that “victory” is near, there’s no meaningful evidence to that effect.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Alleged Fabricator Contributed To The Guardian’s Manafort-Assange ‘Bombshell’

      An Ecuadorian journalist who has been accused of fabricating documents in the past helped write a would-be bombshell for The Guardian in November that alleged former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met multiple times, including during the 2016 presidential campaign, with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
      Fernando Villavicencio was listed as one of three reporters, along with Luke Harding and Ben Collyns, on the print version of the Guardian’s story, which was published on Nov. 27. His name was left off of the web version of the article.
      As The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi notes, the Ecuadorian government previously accused Villavicencio, a vocal critic of Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, of fabricating documents related to an agreement between Ecuador and China to drill for oil in the Amazon forest.

    • Randy Credico Exclusive Tell-All Interview with Abby Martin on Wikileaks & Roger Stone

      In this exclusive extended interview, Randy Credico tells his side of the story on his role in the Russia investigation, his upcoming interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and true nature of his relationship with Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone.

      With never before revealed details about Roger Stone and the Mueller investigation, Credico details his long-standing ties to the political operative and answers the hard questions about his alleged coordination with Wikileaks.

      The interview highlights the larger context of the multi-front assault on Julian Assange, Wikileaks and the future of press freedom.

    • Authoritarians Killing Opponents and Attacking Free Speech

      In July, 2007, two U.S. helicopters fired on civilians in Iraq, killing two Reuters journalists. The gunners were laughing and the killings appeared to be wanton, in violation of rules of engagement, and, it’s been argued, war crimes. The footage was leaked to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, who was charged with various crimes, sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013. In 2017, President Obama commuted her sentence.

    • Report: Paul Manafort Tried To Score Deal With Ecuador To Hand Julian Assange Over To The U.S.
    • Misreporting Manafort
    • Action Against Assange, and What It Could Mean for Free Press

      In recent court filings in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, an oversight resulted in mentions of secret charges being filed against Julian Assange. He is the founder and editor of WikiLeaks, an organization that has garnered a significant degree of fame and notoriety over the past decade, due to its publishing of numerous classified documents, communications and more.

      The organization has come under new legal scrutiny since the 2016 presidential election, during which it published emails, obtained by convicted Russian hackers, between members of the Democratic National Committee, a move widely believed to have influenced the election in favor of now-President Donald Trump at the behest of the Russian government.

      In a December 2016 interview with Italian newspaper la Repubblica, Assange had this to say in regard to national intelligence agencies using WikiLeaks against their enemies, “We publish full information, pristine archives, verifiable. That often makes it inconvenient for propaganda purposes, because for many organizations you see the good and the bad, and that makes the facts revealed harder to spin.”

    • Paul Manafort tries to help in a deal over Julian Assange’s handover to US

      New York: Paul Manafort, US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman who awaits sentencing for lying to federal investigators in breach of a plea agreement, flew to Ecuador to help negotiate a deal for the handover of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to Washington, a media report said. The New York Times report on Monday said that Manafort made the trip mainly to see if he could broker a deal under which China would invest in Ecuador’s power system. (IANS)

    • Guardian all alone as MSM fail to corroborate Assange/Manafort ‘dud’ story

      The Guardian’s ‘bombshell’ story that ex-Donald Trump adviser, Paul Manafort, met with Wikileaks Julian Assange is falling apart, as outlets fail to corroborate the claims, some even questioning the paper’s standards.
      On November 27, the Guardian splashed with an eye-catching article, claiming that its journalists had seen an Ecuadorian intelligence agency document detailing that Manafort and Assange had met three times in the London Ecuadorian embassy, including during the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential Election.

      READ MORE: Russia again! Twitter mocks nameless CIA agent who blames Kremlin for dubious Manafort-Assange story

      The piece suggested that “Russians” were also guests at the embassy, though it failed to identify any individuals in question. The article also didn’t include any non-anonymous sources nor did it reproduce, in any capacity, the document in question.

    • The Fake Clinton Quote That Won’t Go Away

      The “hybrid” website claimed Clinton made her flattering remarks about Trump at a conference hosted by Goldman Sachs on Oct. 29, 2013. Clinton did speak at that conference; WikiLeaks posted the transcript of her speech. But the quote attributed to her is not in the transcript.

    • Alleged Fabricator Contributed To The Guardian’s Manafort-Assange ‘Bombshell’

      An Ecuadorian journalist who has been accused of fabricating documents in the past helped write a would-be bombshell for The Guardian in November that alleged former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met multiple times, including during the 2016 presidential campaign, with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

      Fernando Villavicencio was listed as one of three reporters, along with Luke Harding and Ben Collyns, on the print version of the Guardian’s story, which was published on Nov. 27. His name was left off of the web version of the article.

      As The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi notes, the Ecuadorian government previously accused Villavicencio, a vocal critic of Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, of fabricating documents related to an agreement between Ecuador and China to drill for oil in the Amazon forest.

    • The Guardian attack on Assange exposed as politically-motivated fabrication

      Last week’s sensationalist allegation by the Guardian newspaper, that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange met with Paul Manafort, American political lobbyist and one-time campaign manager for Donald Trump, has been exposed as a politically-motivated tissue of lies.
      The online article was presented as being co-authored by Luke Harding and Dan Collyns. Harding has written a number of pieces seeking to paint Assange as an accomplice in a Russian government conspiracy to ensure that Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 US presidential election to Donald Trump.
      In the print edition of the Guardian, however, it was also credited to Fernando Villavicencio, an Ecuadorian journalist. He has previously been accused of fabricating stories against former President Rafael Correa, whose government granted Assange political asylum in the country’s embassy in London in 2012.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • While Trump Aims Again to Prop Up Coal, Campaigners Say Nothing ‘Is Going to Change the Move Toward Clean Energy’

      Following reports that Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will attack the climate again by neutering an Obama-era rule in an effort to revive the dying coal industry, environmental advocacy groups on Wednesday stressed that the march towards a clean energy future is unstoppable.

      The proposed change is expected to come in an “energy policy announcement” Thursday from acting EPA Administrator and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler. According to the New York Times, the move would ease the regulation requiring new coal plants to have carbon dioxide-capturing technology.

    • Record-High Carbon Emissions Show ‘We Are Speeding Towards the Precipice of Irrevocable Climate Chaos’

      As world leaders are meeting at the COP24 in Poland to discuss how to achieve goals outlined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, scientists and activists are raising alarm about “brutal” new research published by the Global Carbon Project on Wednesday which offers the international community a “reality check” by showing that carbon emissions will hit a record high this year.

      “We’ve got a LOT of work to do folks. After flat-lining for 3 years, CO2 emissions have now ticked up two years straight,” tweeted Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, linking to the Washington Post’s report on the new data. Mann also called for electing politicians willing to take the urgent actions that experts increasingly warn are needed to avert global catastrophe.

    • Climate Crisis Made Worse

      Barack Obama, speaking to the Baker Institute, made sure the audience of wealthy Texans, many in the oil business, gave him credit for making the United States a world leader for oil and gas production. He said, “American energy production . . .went up every year I was president. And . . . suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer, that was me, people,” eliciting cheers.

      Throughout this century, even though the climate science was clear, presidential leadership has escalated the dependence on oil and gas, built infrastructure for pipelines and compressor stations, encouraged fracking in the US and around the world and prevented a global response to reducing carbon gas emissions.

      This dereliction of consistent misleadership has put the planet on a dangerous path of climate crisis. In a just world, the political and corporate leadership of the United States would be held accountable. As it is, leadership for confronting the climate crisis must come from the people, not from political leaders.

    • COP24: Climate Science Denial, Disinformation and Fake News at the UN Climate Talks

      In an age of “fake news” and disinformation, in which climate science deniers have been elected to the head of some of the world’s largest governments, the UN climate talks continue to act as a stage for those who wish to cast doubt on the climate crisis.

      And in Katowice, Poland, where the UN climate talks — known as COP24 — are underway, it was no different. A small group of climate science deniers tried to grab attention by hosting an event on the fringe of the conference, claiming to “present the science that debunks UN alarmism”.

      But this year, very few were paying attention.

      Year after year, climate science deniers have attempted to use the climate talks as a platform to undermine the global climate negotiation process.

      The election of Donald Trump in the US and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, two populist politicians who denounced climate change as a political plot to stifle economic growth and want to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, may have given these fringe groups some semblance of credibility.

      Jesse Bragg, spokesman for the NGO Corporate Accountability, told DeSmog UK that although climate science deniers’ tactics haven’t changed over the years, “what has changed is the hubris with which these deniers trot their junk science out but just because Trump makes these deniers feel confident”.

    • Slash Meat Consumption and Avert Climate Catastrophe, Says New Blueprint for ‘Sustainable Food Future’ by 2050

      To feed the growing human population—projected to reach about 10 billion by 2050—while curbing planet-warming emissions to ward off climate catastrophe, people across the globe must significantly cut back on eating meat from cows, sheep, and goats, according to a new study out Wednesday.

      Limits on meat-eating are among 22 proposals from the report that, if simultaneously enacted, could achieve “meeting growing demands for food, avoiding deforestation, and reforesting or restoring abandoned and unproductive land—and in ways that help stabilize the climate, promote economic development, and reduce poverty.”

      Unveiled at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, Creating a Sustainable Food Future (pdf) was produced by WRI in partnership with the World Bank, U.N. Environment, U.N. Development Program, and a pair of French agricultural research agencies.

    • A Climate of Violence: Refugees and Global Warming

      The appeal went on to connect the wild fires in California and the refugee crisis in Central America.

      “As I’m writing to you, California is experiencing refugee crises at both ends of the state. At the southern border, families are seeking asylum from violence and poverty. They are sheltering in tents and being tear gassed by U.S. officials. In northern California, thousands of people who lost their homes in the Camp Fire are now living in tents and in Walmart parking lots, without adequate housing to meet the scale of this disaster.”

      So far a clear statement of facts but then this:

      “Two of the largest humanitarian and environmental challenges facing our nation are inextricably linked. We cannot continue to ignore the devastating effects of climate change, which is causing thousands of people in Central America to flee their homes. Climate change will soon drive human migration more than any other event.”

      Wait, wait, wait, WAIT!! How did the people in Central America “seeking asylum from violence and poverty” become climate refugees? I don’t have to be convinced about the causes and perils of global warming but I do fear the danger of misleading ourselves into believing that everything rotten in the world today is a result of climate change.

    • Climate Jobs for All: A Key Building Block for the Green New Deal

      It was an iconic moment: Young people occupy Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office demanding a Green New Deal to put millions of people to work making a climate-safe economy—when suddenly newly-elected Congressional representative and overnight media star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joins them with a resolution in hand to establish a Select Committee for a Green New Deal. But those who actually read her resolution closely may have been puzzled—or stunned—by its call for “a jobs guarantee program to assure a living wage job to every person who wants one.”

      What is a “jobs guarantee program” and what does it have to do with protecting the climate?

      The federal jobs guarantee (JG) is a concept also known as “jobs for all” and the federal government as “employer of last resort.” It envisions a federal program somewhat like the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) that would provide funds for non-profit organizations, local governments, and other agencies serving the public to employ anyone who wants a job at a wage roughly comparable to the demands of the Fight for $15 campaign. According to columnist Jonathan Chait, the jobs guarantee plan “has materialized almost out of nowhere and ascended nearly to the status of Democratic Party doctrine.”

      The advocates of JG generally include climate protection as one of many types of work beneficial to the public that might be included in a jobs guarantee program. However, they generally have not said how such a program might specifically address the climate emergency.

    • Yemen, Poisoned Water, and a Green New Deal

      Why were 55 Senators for Genocide reduced to 37? Three reasons: public pressure, the murder of Khashoggi, and the fact that the Pentagon told a bunch of simplistic lies and made a bunch of baseless promises eight months ago and didn’t think up anything new to explain them away this time around. Each of these three reasons is encouraging and worth building on.


      Senator Elizabeth Warren’s big new speech and article on foreign policy last week pretended that a war on Iraq that killed over 1 million people had killed 6,000; proposed to end wars in order to be more prepared for other wars; dishonestly demonized other nations; advocated “better” weapons; urged that U.S. troops be brought back from Afghanistan “starting now” (rather than ending now — it’s been starting over and over again for more than a decade), and generally promoted militarism while rhetorically opposing it. There was no proposed military budget, no proposed joining of any treaties, no proposed actual ending of any wars, no concrete policy at all, no draft legislation the way one might expect on any other topic.

      Senator Bernie Sanders, while helping to lead the push on Yemen, otherwise continues to promote militarism and to address other topics as if militarism were unrelated. Last week over 100 scholars and activists signed a letter to Sanders that thousands of others have since added their names to. Part of the letter — which is addressed to Sanders but could be addressed with minor changes to any other Senator — reads:


      Have you actually read the Green New Deal — I mean the Democrats’ version under the same name but radically different from the Green Party’s version.

      It includes: “decarbonizing the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries,” but does not mention the top producer of carbon around, the U.S. military…

    • In the Name of “Saving” the Sage Grouse, the BLM Wants to Destroy Its Habitat

      The Challis and Salmon BLM of central Idaho appear to be ready to destroy much of the sage grouse habitat in the Lemhi, Pahsimeroi, and Lost River valleys, ironically in the name of protecting sage grouse.

      As an ecologist, and someone who has studied both sagebrush and sage-grouse ecology, I find the proposal to crush 134,000 acres of sagebrush in prime and associated sage grouse habitat almost criminal. I do not say that lightly.

      There is abundant scientific evidence that demonstrates that sagebrush is critical to sage grouse survival. Much of the area proposed for treatment currently does not even meet the BLM’s minimum levels of sagebrush cover for sage grouse, thus destroying tens of thousands of acres of sagebrush can only lead to the continued decline of sage grouse in the area.

      There is also abundant evidence that disturbance of sagebrush landscapes leads to an increase in cheatgrass. Cheatgrass is an invasive annual grass that is highly flammable. Since it can increase wildfire frequency in sagebrush landscapes, it is one of the significant threats to sagebrush ecosystems and sage grouse.

    • Extremes of heat will hit health and wealth

      Vulnerability to extremes of heat has risen in every region of the world. In 2017, an additional 157 million people were exposed in heatwave events, compared with 2000. That means that the average person now experiences 1.4 additional days of heatwaves per year.

      This enervating exposure to extended extremes of heat imposes a global cost. National economies – and household budgets – lost 153 billion hours of labour in 2017, because of sweltering days and torrid nights: this is an increase of 62 billion working hours – more than three billion working weeks – since the turn of the century.

      The rise in extremes of heat means that more people than ever are potentially at risk of heatwave-related conditions: among them heat stress, cardiovascular illness and kidney disease.

      That increasing extremes of heat, driven by ever greater levels of greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming and climate change, are a health hazard is now well established.

    • The November crisis

      November 2018 will have a special place in the history books — assuming, that is, the future has any time for history, or books. The month of record began right here at National Observer, when a tip from Reclaim Alberta’s Regan Boychuk resulted in one of the greatest Canadian revelations ever… of something that was already self-evident: a century of oil and gas development in the province of Alberta has left a mess that will take at least a quarter of a trillion dollars to clean up.

      The month ended with GM announcing the end of a century of automotive production in Oshawa — a crisis for 2,500 workers and their families, for which, it rapidly became clear, no level of government had any solution whatsoever. It’s as if the $10.8 billion dollar public bailout of the company less than a decade ago never happened. And while this ritual of deindustrialization was playing out — highlighting how little public interest is ever purchased with even epic levels of corporate welfare — Rachel Notley was in Ottawa, demanding more.

  • Finance

    • Women in tech overlooked as study finds 93pc of investment goes to start-ups with all-male founders
    • Pausing at the Fed

      My friend, Jared Bernstein, laid out the case for a pause in the Fed’s interest rate hikes at its meeting this month. I agree with pretty much everything Jared said, but want to push one point a bit further.

      Jared raises the argument made by the more hawkish types that we have well-anchored inflationary expectations that we don’t want to risk losing by allowing inflation to accelerate. This line is given as a rationale for hiking interest rates in a context where inflation even now is under the Fed’s 2.0 percent target. And, this target is, of course, an average, meaning that to be consistent with the target we must have some periods with inflation above 2.0 percent.


      The unemployment rate looks likely to get still lower in the months ahead, probably crossing 3.5 percent and likely getting lower. Can it hit 3.0 percent? I don’t know, but let’s see what happens if we try. The potential benefits are enormous and the downsides are shall we say, speculative.

    • Putting the Trump Stamp on the Public

      D.T. (as aides refer to the present occupant of the Oval Office) is really quite good at one special skill: branding. He has slapped his name on a ridiculous range of consumer merch — teddy bears, steaks, made-in-China ties, vodka, underwear and even a urine test. His nasty policies and behavior steadily turned the brand toxic, as only two merchandisers have kept his name on their products. Still, some two dozen towers, condos, palaces and other glossy real estate edifices blare his name, and 17 global golf meccas proclaim his ostentatious wealth. Then, of course, there’s his very own post office.

      Yes, he bought a 60-year lease on the “Old Post Office Pavilion,” an iconic 1899 federal structure that once housed our country’s postal service and has also been the home of various other national government agencies. Located just five blocks from the White House, D.T. and daughter Ivanka had it converted into a 270-room hotel for the rich in 2016. “The Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C.,” boasting gold-trimmed bathrooms and a 5,000-square-foot suite in what once was the office of America’s postmaster general. The suite can be yours for about $25,000 a night (but that’s a bargain compared to a bigger presidential suite that The Donald named for himself, charging up to $29,000 for a one-night-stay, plus $4,000 in taxes). Branding the once-public facility with the family name was “really important,” Ivanka declared at the launch of the redo. “You’ve got to be careful,” she explained. “You can’t allow people to walk by thinking it’s a post office.”


      The problem for these ideologues and corporate predators is that USPS is not only a government agency that works, but a tangible presence in people’s daily lives, so millions of folks see it working for them. Therefore, to maintain the negative political narrative about public entities, the far-right corporatists are desperate to kill our public post offices. For more information and to keep the post office public, go to USMailNotForSale.org.

    • One Country Is Mocking the U.S. With Free College (Video)

      On this segment from his comedy show, “Redacted Tonight,” Lee Camp takes one country to task for weaponizing free college. Clearly, citizens of this nation are mocking the United States, where some 44 million citizens collectively hold $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.

      Camp contrasts the American system to that of Venezuela, which provides extremely affordable higher education to all of its citizens. Universal free education was part of the revolutionary platform of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

      Meanwhile, American college graduates—and dropouts—often find themselves living in “debt peonage” for decades after entering the working world as they attempt to juggle finding a decent job and paying back their debtors.

    • Urban Communities of Color Increasingly Reject Charter Schools

      At a recent school board meeting in New Orleans, more than 100 parents swamped the hearing room, requiring dozens to have to stand. Many of the parents had filled out public comment cards so they would be allowed to address the board.

      What most in the crowd came prepared to talk about were their concerns about recent recommendations by the superintendent to close five schools and transfer the students to other schools in the district. Their demand was for the elected board to take a more hands-on role in improving the schools instead of closing them down.

      But when Ashana Bigard, a New Orleans public school parent and advocate, realized the board had altered the agenda, and limited parents’ comment time, she decided to speak out of turn.

      “How is closing the schools helping our children?” she asked the board members. She pointed out that many of the children in the schools being closed are special needs students with serious, trauma-induced learning disabilities, and now these children are being uprooted and transferred to schools that lack expertise with these problems. “These children have been experimented on for too long,” she declared.

    • Canada Arrests CFO of China’s Huawei Technologies ‘on Behalf of’ U.S.

      Canadian authorities said Wednesday that they have arrested the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies for possible extradition to the United States.

      Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod said Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Saturday.

      McLeod said a publication ban had been imposed in the case and he could not provide further details. The ban was sought by Meng, who has a bail hearing Friday, he said.

      The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that U.S. authorities are investigating whether Chinese tech giant Huawei violated sanctions on Iran.

      Meng is also deputy chairman of the board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei.

    • Huawei CFO arrested in Canada, awaits US extradition

      Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, the world’s largest telecom equipment manufacturer and second-largest smartphone maker, has been arrested in Vancouver, Canada on suspicion she violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iran, as first reported by The Globe and Mail.

      Huawei confirmed the news with TechCrunch, adding that Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, faces unspecified charges in the Eastern District of New York, where she had transferred flights on her way to Canada.

    • NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Defends Amazon Deal at Sanders Event

      U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio ride a New York City subway together in October 2017. (Richard Drew / AP)
      Days after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio got booed at the city’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony, an audience member at the Sanders Institute Gathering in Burlington, Vt., wanted to know how the plan to allow Amazon to build a headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, in exchange for nearly $3 billion in tax breaks and subsidies fits with progressive ideals.

      “How does this Amazon deal reconcile with our values?” filmmaker Josh Fox asked Saturday, the last day of a three-day event organized by the think tank founded by Jane Sanders, wife of Vermont senator and possible 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

      De Blasio—who received a round of applause from the audience for New York City’s end of stop-and-frisk and repeatedly referred to himself as a progressive—said the agreement with Amazon will create new jobs for New Yorkers and generate revenue. Among a heavyweight progressive attendee list, including former New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, actor John Cusack and nurses who helped bring “Medicare for all” to the forefront of Sanders’ agenda, de Blasio appeared much more willing to compromise than other conference speakers desperate for a change of the status quo.

      “Look, I want to say on Amazon, I think everyone in this room could easily mount a critique of corporate America writ large, Amazon in specific—I sure could, too,” de Blasio said.


      Already, about 1,500 units of affordable housing in Long Island City have been turned over to Amazon.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • In ‘Craven’ Bait-and-Switch Attack on Workers, Michigan GOP Guts Minimum Wage and Sick Leave Proposals

      Three months after ensuring that Michigan voters would not have a say in proposals to hike the state’s minimum wage and provide sick leave to workers, the state’s Republican-led Senate pushed through major changes to the initiatives on Tuesday, effectively gutting legislation that hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents had demanded.

      Under the original minimum wage proposal, the state’s minimum wage would have gone up from $9.25 to $12 per hour by 2022—but workers will have to wait until 2030 under the GOP’s version of the bill. Tipped workers’s wages will go up to only $4 from $3.52 per hour by that time under the Republican proposal.

      The raise offered in the original proposal was meager compared to the reforms that Fight for 15 and other workers’ rights groups advocate for. According to MIT, a single parent in Michigan needs to earn $23 per hour to make a living wage.

    • Will Mexico’s Left-Wing President Help Trump’s Immigration Agenda?

      In his first press conference since taking office, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as “AMLO” for short, said he is working with the United States and Canada to create a three-way investment plan to stem migration from Central America and southern Mexico.

      López Obrador, perhaps Mexico’s most left-wing president in modern history, took office Saturday after winning a landslide victory in July. He promised “a peaceful and orderly transition, but one that is deep and radical … because we will end the corruption and impunity that prevent Mexico’s rebirth.”

      A former mayor of Mexico City, López Obrador pledged on the campaign trail to place a cap on public officials’ pay, including cutting his own salary and nixing the presidential jet, while ending privatization schemes that have deepened the country’s economic divide.

      Many Mexicans’ hopes for real change are high after decades of corruption at all levels of government and high rates of violence. The new president now faces a trial by fire in achieving his ambitious domestic agenda.

      But first, López Obrador must address the ongoing crisis of thousands of asylum-seeking Central American migrants stuck in limbo in Tijuana and other border cities as the United States deliberately delays processing asylum applications while closing ports of entry to potential refugees.

    • Republican Voter Fraud Could Force New Election in North Carolina

      The 2018 midterm elections created a blue wave far larger than many expected. But in one North Carolina congressional race, the Republican candidate still managed to beat his Democratic opponent — although only by 900 votes.

      Now, a second look at the race suggests that the margin may very well have been the result of GOP election-stealing. And as a result of that fraud, the district may have to start all over with a brand new election.

      Far-right Southern Baptist pastor Mark Harris beat GOP incumbent Representative Robert Pittenger in the party primary, but he struggled in the general election against Democrat Dan McCready.

      Harris — who believes that the earth was created just 10,000 years ago and that wives need to submit to their husbands because the Bible says so — barely eked out his alleged November victory, coming just 905 votes ahead of McCready out of more than 200,000 votes cast.

    • The GOP Is Scared of Democracy. Just Look at Wisconsin.

      Democracy dies in darkness because Republicans wait until after dark to kill it.

      That’s what happened last night, and before sunrise this morning, in Wisconsin. The state’s GOP-run state legislature used an extraordinary session to strip powers from the newly elected Democratic governor and attorney general and roll back voting rights.

      When they unveiled the bills, Wisconsin’s Republican legislative chiefs — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald — wrote in a statement that “The legislature is the most representative branch in government,” as though the bills were a defense of democracy.

      The truth is, Wisconsin’s GOP power grab took place precisely because the state GOP is afraid of democracy. That fear is etched all over the bills — dubbed the “Wisconsin power grab” — that lawmakers just rammed through the statehouse.

    • The GOP’s Power Grabs Are a Measure of Political Despair Produced by the 2018 Election Clobbering

      As the dust refuses to settle from the 2018 midterms, there are stubborn reminders that there really are two Americas when it comes to voting and elections.

      This week, Republican-majority legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin—both created by GOP-led extreme gerrymanders in 2011—are trying to rush through legislation to strip power from Democratic statewide winners of executive branch offices in November.

      In Wisconsin, the GOP wants to limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general over how public benefit programs can be run, and on how regulations can be implemented—the fine print of governing. In Michigan, where voters elected a Democratic governor, attorney general and secretary of state, it’s even worse, as GOP legislators want to limit the attorney general’s power to litigate (and to create a new legislative power to do so) and to pre-empt campaign finance regulation.

    • State Republicans Are Refusing to Honor the Peaceful Transition of Power

      In Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states, the refusal of Republicans to accept election results sends an ominous signal.

    • Thousands of Wisconsinites turn out to protest outgoing Republicans’ plan to seize power after electoral defeat
    • Trump biographer: The president has been compromised by the Russians “for decades”

      “I believe most of the GOP leadership has been compromised by” Russian money, author Craig Unger added

    • ‘Democracy Dies…in the Early Morning Light’ as Wisconsin GOP Rams Through ‘Lame Duck Legislative Coup’

      After hours of debate and secret negotiations that dragged on into the early hours of the morning amid a backdrop of mass protests, Wisconsin’s Senate on Wednesday approved a Republican plan to strip power from Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers and transfer major authority over the state’s legal affairs from the incoming Democratic attorney general to the GOP-dominated legislature.

      “Democracy dies in darkness… or perhaps in the early morning light,” wrote The Nation’s John Nichols, a Wisconsin native, after the measure passed the state Senate and headed toward an Assembly vote, the final hurdle before the legislation reaches outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s desk. The plan is expected to easily sail through the Assembly as early as Wednesday morning, and Walker has said he will sign it.

    • “A Smoking Saw”: Bin Salman Loses Support of Key GOP Senators with CIA Briefing

      Among the things Saudi Arabia wants from the United States is support for its war on Yemen and permission to buy from US arms corporations state-of-the-art military weaponry. Both things are now in peril, as key Republican senators reacted to a secret briefing by Gina Haspel, director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

      Haspel gave her presentation to only 8, arbitrarily chosen senators. They included outgoing senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and the senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), both of whom came out after the briefing to say they had no doubt at all that Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered and managed the assassination of dissident journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

      Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis testified to the senate that the CIA had not linked the crown prince to the murder definitively.

      Corker said after the briefing that if Bin Salman went before a jury, “he would be convicted in 30 minutes.”

    • How Betsy DeVos Does the Koch Brothers’ Bidding

      While the serial outrages of the Trump administration continue to make headlines, the more mundane activities of his cabinet officials and their underlings often fly under the radar.

      Take U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, for instance, whose nomination drew a history-making opposition and set off an avalanche of ridicule in social media and late-night comedy, but who now operates largely out of public view, behind a security screen that is projected to cost the taxpayers nearly $8 million over the next year.

      What’s largely been overlooked behind all the lurid headlines and endless insults are all the ways in which officials like DeVos are quietly at work continuing to use our tax money to advance a deeply troubling agenda.

      Now that Congress is poised to turn from Red to Blue, DeVos’s activities – such as rolling back regulation of for-profit colleges, stalling the forgiveness of student loans and rewriting rules for the treatment of campus sexual assault – are getting increased scrutiny from House Democrats.

    • ‘Time to Walk the Walk’: Ocasio-Cortez Announces ‘At Least’ $15 Wage for Interns

      “It’s a very nasty system that keeps rich people in control,” Carlos Vera, founder of Pay Our Interns, told Rolling Stone. A former congressional intern himself, Vera explained how the system of unpaid jobs in the Capitol has everything to do with keeping working-class students and people from low-income families out of the halls of power. As a Latino, Vera said, “I saw an extreme lack of diversity, both in interns and staff in Congress.”

      On Monday, in a separate tweet, Ocasio-Cortez explained how she’d been at a late-night eatery in DC where she talked with several of the restaurant staff who also work on Capitol Hill.

      “This is a disgrace. Congress of ALL places should raise [Members' Representational Allowances] so we can pay staff an actual DC living wage,” she wrote. “It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns & underpaid overworked staff just bc Republicans want to make a statement about ‘fiscal responsibility.’”

    • He is West Virginia’s Speaker of the House — and a Lawyer for Natural Gas Companies

      Toward the end of this year’s legislative session, a little-noticed bill was moving through the West Virginia House of Delegates to limit legal challenges that had slowed new natural gas-fired power plants in the state.

      Delegate Roger Hanshaw, a Republican lawyer from Clay County who was serving as vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee, took to the floor to explain the legislation.

      “This bill is a little inside baseball to practitioners of environmental law in West Virginia,” explained Hanshaw, a supporter of the bill.

      It wasn’t the first time that Hanshaw engaged in some pretty effective legislative inside baseball on energy bills.

    • To Advance Bold Progressive Policies, Ocasio-Cortez Takes on Wall Street Democrat for Seat on Key Tax Committee

      But putting theory and analysis into action requires the exercise of political power, and that is precisely what Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is attempting to do by challenging Wall Street-friendly New York Democrat and self-described fiscal conservative Rep. Tom Suozzi for a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

      As the House’s primary tax-writing body, Ways and Means would be directly involved in the crafting of any potential Medicare for All and Green New Deal legislation—two causes Ocasio-Cortez has unabashedly championed alongside a record number of congressional Democrats.

      “Ocasio-Cortez is routinely asked how she plans to pay for her aggressive economic agenda, and the first answer begins with securing a spot on the House’s key tax-writing committee,” noted The Intercept’s Ryan Grim, who first reported on the New York democratic socialist’s plan to vie for a Ways and Means seat on Tuesday. “Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to go after a spot on the Ways and Means Committee is part of a broader strategy to grow progressive power in the coming Congress.”

    • Choosing #PeoplesOrientation, Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez Protest Right-Wing Backed Event for New Members of Congress

      While many incoming lawmakers participated in the supposedly bipartisan conference hosted by Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute for Politics and co-sponsored by the corporate think tank American Enterprise Institute, a group of high-profile progressives joined Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) at the outdoor event, organized by the Center for Popular Democracy and Boston-area Medicare-for-All advocates.

      As Boston Globe columnist Nestor Ramos put it, “Some of the left’s rising stars—the first real glimmer of hope for progressive causes in about two years—staked out a strategy that doesn’t sound much like the bend-over-backwards-for-bipartisanship, please-sir-may-I-have-another Democrats who might as well have Republican footprints tattooed on their necks.”

      Democratic representatives-elect who attended the rally included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Andy Levin (Mich.), Lori Trahan (Mass.), Mary Gay Scanlon (Pa.), and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.).


      For one event on Wednesday morning, activists delivered to Harvard’s president a letter demanding that the university divest from a hedge fund that is driving austerity and privatization in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

    • The GOP’s Power Grabs Expose an Increasingly Desperate Party

      As the dust refuses to settle from the 2018 midterms, there are stubborn reminders that there really are two Americas when it comes to voting and elections.

      This week, Republican-majority legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin—both created by GOP-led extreme gerrymanders in 2011—are trying to rush through legislation to strip power from Democratic statewide winners of executive branch offices in November.

      In Wisconsin, the GOP wants to limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general over how public benefit programs can be run, and on how regulations can be implemented—the fine print of governing. In Michigan, where voters elected a Democratic governor, attorney general and secretary of state, it’s even worse, as GOP legislators want to limit the attorney general’s power to litigate (and to create a new legislative power to do so) and to pre-empt campaign finance regulation.

      “They lost and they’re throwing a fit,” was how Jon Erpenbach, a Wisconsin Democratic state senator, put it to the New York Times.

    • Iceland’s “Anti-Trump” Prime Minister Joins Sanders-Varoufakis Open Call for Global Progressive Alliance

      Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir this week announced her support for Progressive International—the just-launched global movement calling for all progressives to fight together for a “shared vision of democracy, prosperity, sustainability, and solidarity.”

      A brainchild of the U.S.-based Sanders Institute and Europe’s DiEM25—groups founded by Jane O’Meara Sanders and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, respectively—the Progressive International’s open call was unveiled Friday at the inaugural Sanders Institute Gathering, a three-day congregation of hundreds of progressive leaders tackling issues including “full-throated economic populism,” Medicare for All, and a vision “for a world that works for the children of this world, not for a handful of billionaires.”

      The feminist and environmentalist Jakobsdóttir, who’s been described as “the anti-Trump,” wrote on her Facebook page that the Progressive International represented “the struggle for general welfare, security, and dignity for all people,” and that a trans-border network of those on the left would help “alleviate social and economic inequality, make changes to the global financial system, turn away from the arms race, and stop climate change,” according to a Google translation of her post.

    • Can Corporate Media Be Any Worse…

      TV networks raked in hundreds of millions of dollars from campaign advertising—ones often filled with false or incendiary claims that overwhelm any feeble “factchecks” broadcasters offer in response.

      Blatant deceptions uttered by candidates on the campaign trail go unchallenged—as if checking the truth of politicians weren’t central to the definition of journalism. Pundits chattered and blathered endlessly about the horserace, the tweets and the insults—and didn’t seem to understand the media’s critical importance for an informed citizenry.

    • Trump Lawyer and Cybersecurity Adviser Rudy Giuliani Accuses Twitter of ‘Invading’ His Account After Typing Error Results in Anti-Trump Website Link

      Rudy Giuliani, who is serving as President Donald Trump’s attorney as his legal troubles mount, claimed late Tuesday night that Twitter is behind conspiracy to “invade” his account. The false accusation came days after another user noticed that Giuliani had inadvertently created a hyperlink within a tweet last Friday, allowing the user to create a website with a message about Giuliani’s presidential client.

      A punctuation error in Giuliani’s tweet regarding Michael Cohen’s guilty plea and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian agents last July resulted in a link to the domain name “G-20.In”—a website which did not exist until a user named Jason Velazquez saw Giuliani’s mistake, quickly purchased the domain, and created a no-frills webpage containing only the statement “Donald J. Trump is a traitor to our country” and a link to a Reddit thread on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s cooperation with the Mueller probe.

    • Wisconsin GOP Votes to Weaken Democrat Who Defeated Walker

      Wisconsin Republicans pushed through protests, internal disagreement and Democratic opposition Wednesday to pass far-reaching legislation that would shift power to the GOP-controlled Legislature and weaken the Democrat who defeated Republican Gov. Scott Walker last month.

      The vote, coming after an all-night debate, was the height of a lame-duck legislative session aimed at reducing the authority of the office Republicans will lose in January. Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul warned that resulting lawsuits would bring more gridlock when the new administration takes over.

      Walker has signaled his support for the bill. He has 10 days to sign the package from the time it’s delivered to his office.

      Republicans were battered in the midterm election, losing all statewide races amid strong Democratic turnout. But they retained legislative majorities thanks to what Democrats say are gerrymandered districts that tilt the map.

      “Wisconsin has never seen anything like this,” Evers said in a statement Wednesday. “Power-hungry politicians rushed through sweeping changes to our laws to expand their own power and override the will of the people of Wisconsin who asked for change on November 6th.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Tumblr’s Porn Ban Reveals Who Controls What We See Online

      In interviews and messages with WIRED, more than 30 sex workers, porn consumers, and creators on Tumblr lamented the loss of what they described as a unique, safe space for curated sexually themed GIFs, photos, and videos. Many users who had used the microblogging site as their primary source for porn were at a loss when asked where they would go after Tumblr’s ban on “adult content” goes into effect on December 17. For the thousands of sex workers who used the site to share their own explicit content in a controlled, relatively contained manner—not to mention the countless others who used that content to fill the hyper-curated feeds of some of the site’s most popular porn blogs—the crackdown’s consequences are even more difficult to unpack. And researchers say the ban could shrink Tumblr’s user base, which already appears in turmoil over the decision.

      The move comes less than two weeks after Apple pulled Tumblr from the iOS App Store after child pornography was found on the site. Though the offending illegal content was removed quickly, according to Tumblr, the app has yet to return to the App Store (it was never removed from the Google Play Store). In its most recent blog post, Tumblr stated that its longstanding no-tolerance policy against child pornography should not be conflated with the move to ban adult content. The latter, Tumblr argued, was inspired by a drive to create “a better Tumblr.” But these sorts of decisions aren’t made in a vacuum.

    • Tumblr will block grot content come 17 December
    • Dear Tumblr: Banning “Adult Content” Won’t Make Your Site Better But It Will Harm Sex-Positive Communities

      Social media platform Tumblr has announced a ban on so-called “adult content,” a move made, it seems, in reaction to Tumblr’s app being removed from the Apple app store. But while making the app more available is in theory good for Tumblr users, in practice what’s about to happen is mass censorship of communities that have made Tumblr a positive experience for so many people in the first place.

      On December 3, Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio posted a lengthy missive about a new policy, titled, apparently unironically, “A better, more positive Tumblr.” Instead of laying out a vision that is better and positive, D’Onofrio’s post lays bare the problems with the ban on so-called “adult content.” First of all, the policy is confusing and broad, leaving users in the lurch about what they can and can’t do on Tumblr. Second, according to D’Onofrio, enforcement of the policy will be reliant on automated tools, the use of which is—and always has been—rife with problems. Third, the people who will end up punished aren’t pornbots or sex traffickers but already-marginalized groups who have built sex- and body-positive communities on Tumblr. And finally, all of these things come together to show just how many ways platforms and tech companies can get in between users and their freedom of expression.

    • Tumblr’s New ‘No Sex’ Rules Show The Problems Of FOSTA And EU Copyright Directive In One Easy Move

      As you may have heard by now, on Monday, Tumblr announced that in just a couple weeks it will be banning porn from its platform as part of a change to its rules. Now, of course, Tumblr has every right to run its platform however it sees fit, but it does seem notable that it wasn’t all that long ago that Tumblr openly defended the fact that Tumblr hosts a bunch of “Not Safe For Work” content, explaining that they supported free speech, and didn’t want to be in the business of carefully determining whether or not something was “artful” photography or just porn.

      Of course, that was before Verizon bought Yahoo (which had previously bought Tumblr). And it was before FOSTA became law. As Wired points out, this move to ban all porn comes just weeks after Apple banned the Tumblr app from the App Store over some illegal images (even after Tumblr was alerted and took those images down). It’s not hard to see how some execs at Verizon might have looked at all of this as a headache that just isn’t worth it — especially given the potential criminal liability that comes from FOSTA. Remember, a few months back, we noted that a bunch of online trolls were deliberately targeting women they didn’t like on various platforms claiming (often without evidence) that they were engaged in prostitution. Many of those targeted used Tumblr. It’s not difficult to see how Verizon just decided to rid itself of this whole headache.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Verizon Dinged Again For Privacy Violations, This Time For Slinging Personalized Ads To Kids

      But much like the company’s fine for its earlier scandal, the fine itself is likely a small fraction of the money made during the time AOL spent intentionally turning a blind eye as behavior ads were aimed at kids and kid-frequented websites. The AG’s report notes that until late last year (presumably as a result of realizing the AG inquiry existed), AOL’s systems ignored any information that it received from an ad exchange indicating that the ad space was subject to COPPA, so the website routinely ignored the law in general. It’s worth noting that the full settlement has not yet been released.

      There’s no indication from the NY AG (I’ve reached out for more detail) how long this was going on, but it’s fairly obvious the income AOL made from ignoring COPPA (there were 1.3 billion auctions of display ad space) outweighs any penalty it’s facing, however historic. COPPA is one of the few privacy regulations currently in place, and even then, Verizon/AOL/Oath’s decision to just ignore the law speaks pretty broadly as to how even the privacy laws we do have are inconsistently enforced. Especially when we’re talking about deep-pocketed telecom giants, who have openly flirted with the idea of charging users even more money for privacy without regulators so much as batting an eye.

      As we sit down and begin the long, difficult conversation about what a real internet-era privacy law should look like, the lion’s share of the focus remains (quite justly given the Cambridge Analytica scandal) on Facebook. But it can’t be understated how the telecom industry has historically been even worse — especially given they’re effectively bone-grafted to the nation’s intelligence surveillance apparatus. That these are the companies that will have the biggest impact on the crafting of privacy laws should terrify anyone interested in getting meaningful privacy legislation right.

    • Internal Documents Show Facebook Has Never Deserved Our Trust or Our Data

      The question Mark Zuckerberg has been asked ad nauseum—after each and every new scandal that has affected Facebook—is “why should users trust Facebook with their data?” It’s been asked by members of Congress, rhetorically by journalists in dozens of thinkpieces, and directly to Zuckerberg in most recent press calls. Zuckerberg has been forced to contritely answer this question so many times that many have said he’s gone on an “apology tour.”

      Zuckerberg recently called the Cambridge Analytica scandal a “major trust issue” and, as the scandals have kept coming—a Facebook hack, content moderation practices that allow Holocaust denial and white nationalism, a PR campaign against its detractors including George Soros—Facebook has continued to pitch itself as a flawed but well-intentioned company that is learning as it goes and never imagined any of the harm that has been caused by its product.

      But new internal Facebook documents that are part of a lawsuit filed by a firm called Six4Three and published Wednesday by a member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament shows once and for all that Facebook knew the potential harms of its product all along and pushed forth anyway. The answer to the question “why should we trust Facebook?” is: We shouldn’t, and we never should have.

      The documents show that Facebook’s highest leadership including Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg purposefully designed a product intended to get users to share as much data as possible about themselves, and then worked to leverage that data to work with as many advertisers as possible using a tactic known as “reciprocity.” This is a tactic that was pitched by Zuckerberg in 2012 and signed off on by Sandberg in emails sent between top Facebook executives.

    • Good For The World, But Not Good For Us: The Really Damning Bits Of The Facebook Revelations

      As expected, UK Parliament Member Damian Collins released a bunch of documents that he had previously seized under questionable circumstances. While he had revealed some details in a blatantly misleading way during the public hearing he held, he’s now released a bunch more. Collins tees up the 250 page release with a few of his own notes, which also tend to exaggerate and misrepresent what’s in the docs, and many people are running with a few of those misrepresentations.

      However, that doesn’t mean that all of these documents have been misrepresented. Indeed, there are multiple things in here that look pretty bad for Facebook, and could be very damaging for it on questions around the privacy protections it had promised the FTC it would put in place, as well as in any potential anti-trust fight. It’s not that surprising to understand how Facebook got to the various decisions it made, but the “move fast and break things” attitude also seems to involve the potential of breaking both the law and the company’s own promises to its users. And that’s bad.

      First, the things that really aren’t that big a deal: a lot of the reporting has focused on the idea that Facebook would give greater access to data to partners who signed up to give Facebook money via its advertising or other platforms. There doesn’t seem to be much of a bombshell there. Lots of companies who have APIs charge for access. This is kind of a standard business model question, and some of the emails in the data dump show what actually appears to be a pretty thoughtful discussion of various business model options and their tradeoffs. This was a company that recognized it had valuable information and was trying to figure out the best way to monetize it. There isn’t much of a scandal there, though some people seem to think there is. Perhaps you could argue that allowing some third parties to have greater access Facebook has a cavalier attitude towards that data since it’s willing to trade access to it for money, but there’s no evidence presented that this data was used in an abusive way (indeed, by putting a “price” on the access, Facebook likely limited the access to companies who had every reason to not abuse the data).

    • 250 pages of internal Facebook files were just dumped online—here are the 6 key takeaways
    • Rudy Giuliani’s Paranoid Nonsense Tweet Is A Good Reminder That We Need Actual Cybersecurity Experts In Government

      Rudy Giuliani may have built up a reputation for himself as “America’s Mayor” but the latest chapters in his life seem to be a mad dash to undue whatever shred of goodwill or credibility he might have left. Politics watchers will know that he’s been acting as the President’s lawyer, in which (as far as I can tell) his main job is to go on TV news programs and reveal stuff no lawyer should reveal. But, we shouldn’t forget Giuliani’s previous jobs. His earlier firm, Giuliani Partners, had a subsidiary called Giuliani Security that at least at one time claimed to do “cybersecurity.” Of course, when the press explored what that actually meant, it was fairly limited.

    • The Lawfare Podcast: Global Developments in Encryption and Surveillance Law

      In August, legal and technical experts gathered in Santa Barbara for the Crypto 2018 Workshop on Encryption and Surveillance to further the ongoing debate over the impact of strong encryption and law enforcement surveillance capabilities. Over the past several days, Lawfare has published a series of reflections that capture some of the views presented at the conference. On this episode of the Lawfare Podcast, we’ve brought you one of the conversations from the event itself, in which Jim Baker of Brookings and Lawfare, Cindy Cohn of the EFF, Sven Herpig of the New Responsibilities Foundation, Adam Ingle of Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, and Ian Levy of the U.K.’s GCHQ discussed recent developments in the laws and policy governing encryption and surveillance around the world.

    • #ThotAudit Is Compiling Massive Databases of Sex Workers and Reporting Them to PayPal

      Misogynists are compiling massive databases of sex workers in an effort to threaten, harm, and harass them for making a living.

      People participating in the viral harassment campaign known as #ThotAudit seek to make it more difficult for those in the sex trade to work. It started with calls to report sex workers to the Internal Revenue Services for tax fraud through the IRS whistleblower program, but has morphed into efforts to attack and intimidate these women in general. Harassers have begun reporting sex workers to payment processors like PayPal and Circle Pay, which have historically been hostile toward adult content.

    • Encryption bill: Porter outlines changes that made deal possible

      The Federal Government says Labor’s initial suggestions about passing a cut-down version of the encryption bill were not acceptable, and a compromise announced on Tuesday had removed some of Labor’s demands.

    • Encryption bill: CA chief wants ‘dangerous loophole’ plugged

      The Federal Government must act to plug a “dangerous loophole” in its encryption bill before it is passed by Parliament before the end of Thursday, the chief executive of the lobby group Communications Alliance, John Stanton, has said.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • CBS Report Details New Allegations Against Moonves

      A report by CBS lawyers outlines more allegations of sexual misconduct by longtime chief Les Moonves, The New York Times reported.

    • Exclusive: UK police wants AI to stop violent crime before it happens

      Police in the UK want to predict serious violent crime using artificial intelligence, New Scientist can reveal. The idea is that individuals flagged by the system will be offered interventions, such as counselling, to avert potential criminal behaviour.

      However, one of the world’s leading data science institutes has expressed serious concerns about the project after seeing a redacted version of the proposals.

      The system, called the National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS), uses a combination of AI and statistics to try to assess the risk of someone committing or becoming a victim of gun or knife crime, as well as the likelihood of someone falling victim to modern slavery.

      West Midlands Police is leading the project and has until the end of March 2019 to produce a prototype. Eight other police forces, including London’s Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police, are also involved. NDAS is being designed so that every police force in the UK could eventually use it.

      Police funding has been cut significantly over recent years, so forces need a system that can look at all individuals already known to officers, with the aim of prioritising those who need interventions most urgently, says Iain Donnelly, the police lead on the project.

    • Trump’s Wrong About Illegal Immigration Costs: Report

      President Donald Trump is spreading misleading numbers about the cost of illegal immigration.

      As he tries to pressure Democrats to fund his long-promised southern border wall, Trump is claiming the country loses $250 billion a year on illegal immigration. But it remained unclear Tuesday where Trump had found that number, which is dramatically higher than previous estimates.

    • Is the United States Beyond Redemption?

      The loudest hysterics were reserved for the bedraggled, footsore “caravan of invaders” inching its way north through Mexico, several thousand desperate souls bringing, according to Trump, crime and terrorists. On Fox Business, Chris Farrell, a conservative activist, promoted the ongoing right-wing allegation that George Soros, who is Jewish, was paying migrants to come to the U.S. Kris Kobach, GOP candidate for governor of Kansas, declared that Democrats had “open-border psychosis.” Ted Cruz, fighting for his political life in Texas, led chants of “Build that wall!” at his rallies.

    • Alameda and Contra Costa County Sheriffs Flew Drones Over Protests

      At the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in October, presenters from the Orlando Police Department issued a stern warning for fellow local law enforcement officials eager to start a small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS or drones) program.

      “We don’t want to use them when people are exercising freedom of speech,” Orlando Police Sgt. Jeffrey Blye told the audience during the best practices portion of his talk. “Because that will destroy your program quickly.”

      That is excellent advice for police departments, but sheriffs in the San Francisco Bay Area have chosen not to follow it.

      The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office had drones at the ready on the scene for many high-profile protests in Berkeley and on the University of California Berkeley campus throughout 2017. Just to the north, the Contra Costa County Sheriff deployed drones over immigrant rights rallies outside the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, California, which houses detainees for ICE.

      Records obtained by EFF and the Center for Human Rights and Privacy answer some questions, and raise many more about when, how, and if these agencies should deploy drones at peaceful protests. The same goes for drone deployment at mostly peaceful protests that are interrupted by a small portion of the participants engaging in civil disobedience, violence, or property damage.

    • Richer Rich People and Terrified Brown People: Bush Was Basically Trump With Better Manners

      As expected, the funeral for George H.W. Bush offered abundant political theater, much of it pretty entertaining at a time when God knows we can use it. There were the usual blunders from our Lout-In-Chief: He needed a stretch limo and 8-car motorcade to cross Pennsylvania Avenue to the Blair House Tuesday night to welcome George Bush for a 20-minute visit; he weirdly tweeted he was “looking forward” to Wednesday’s “celebration,” which was “not a funeral,” except, yeah, it was; on arriving, he clumsily handed his coat to a soldier at attention, evidently mistaking him for a coat-rack.

      There was the drama of the Awkward Pew, wherein the gathered political elites – Obamas, Clintons, Carters – enjoyed a smiling, affable meet-and-greet until the moment of Trump’s lumbering entry, at which point descended a sudden chill you could see, feel and damn near smell – and even a side-eye from the ever-civil Jimmy Carter – followed by an endless series of snubs, pouts and scowls by a hunched-over Trump “glaring like a constipated vulture.” And there were the speakers extolling Bush virtues – decency, dignity, integrity – once viewed as standard presidential attributes but now seen as slams against a current president who wholly lacks them.

      Unsurprisingly, those soothing speeches ignored the multiple crimes that are Bush’s legacy. The narratives of a model of goodness and civility left out Bush’s wars, his lies about the wars, the innocent blood on his hands. They left out the racism he stoked, the drug war he expanded, the scourge of incarceration he helped create. The lying to Congress and obstruction of justice. The support of Pinochet’s murder of thousands of Chilean dissidents. The cruel myth of trickle-down economics. The political hack and sexual abuser Clarence Thomas. And his “murderous neglect” during an AIDS crisis summed up by the chant, “History will recall/George Bush did nothing at all.” Calling out Bush’s failure to use his immense power, writes Garance Franke-Ruta, “is about honoring the deaths of others who were equally beloved to their communities, but far from equal in power…Bush may have been lovely to those inside the circle of concern, but he drew that circle narrowly during a moment when it would have meant the world to draw it larger.”

    • Does the Second Amendment Protect Only White Gun Owners?

      Recent police killings of Black men for possessing guns they were legally carrying shows the racial double standards of “the good guy with a gun.”
      The most common refrain from gun rights supporters in the wake of mass shootings or other gun violence is that the best response to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Yet in recent weeks, we have seen two Black men, a group already disproportionately victimized by police use of lethal force, shot and killed by police while protecting those around them with guns they were legally allowed to carry.

      It turns out that not only are unarmed African-Americans more likely to be shot, but those who seek to follow the advice of the National Rifle Association and others to arm themselves may only make themselves more vulnerable. It is especially troubling that gun rights proponents have largely been silent when police kill Black people for lawfully using their guns.

      For example, the NRA and President Trump — despite their embrace of the social media bullhorn — have not condemned the police for killing unarmed Black people. Moreover, they have yet to denounce police officers who kill Black people for possessing guns they’re legally entitled to carry.

    • New York Court Tells CBP Agent He’s Not Allowed To Pretend He’s A Traffic Cop

      In a short decision, the Supreme Court of the State of New York reminds federal agents what they can and can’t do while operating under the color of law. In this case (via The Newspaper) a CBP officer, who was supposed to be keeping an eye on the ultra-dangerous Canadians, decided he wanted to be a traffic cop instead.

      Spotting a driver “engaging in dangerous maneuvers,” the CBP agent (who is unnamed in the decision) decided to pursue the vehicle. He called the Buffalo (New York) Police Department to relay his observations. Deciding it would take too long for Buffalo PD officers to respond — and supposedly concerned about the danger posed by the driver — the CBP agent activated the lights on his vehicle and pulled the driver over.

      The CBP agent did not approach the driver until a Buffalo police officer arrived — not out of concern for the Constitution, but rather for his own personal safety. The CBP agent left after more police officers arrived. A gun was discovered during the stop and the driver was charged under New York law with illegal possession of a firearm.

    • Why I Ended the Horror of Long-Term Solitary in Colorado’s Prisons

      In Colorado, long-term solitary confinement used to be a tool that was regularly used in corrections. The problem is that it was not corrective at all. It was indiscriminate punishment that too often amounted to torture and did not make anyone safer.

      The practice was pervasive because it was considered reasonable and effective. It was neither. In practice, long-term isolation punished people in a way that not only lacked humanity but sense. And when a program lacks both sense and humanity, the results are as clear as they are disastrous: dehumanization and harm.

      We have ended the use of long-term solitary confinement in our state and limited its use to 15 days at a time. This limitation follows the international human rights standards from the United Nations’ Nelson Mandela Rules, which state that keeping someone in solitary confinement for over 15 days is torture.

      Since 2017, solitary confinement in Colorado has only been used in cases of a serious disciplinary violation. It is the only state in the nation that has limited the use of solitary confinement in this way.

      We made this policy change because we are committed to public safety. The research has shown that housing someone in a cell the size of a parking space for 22 or more hours per day for extended periods of time damages them both mentally and physically. Since most people who go to prison — 97 percent — return to their community, that means we were releasing people back into their communities in worse shape than when they arrived. That’s why long-term restrictive housing needs to end, not only for the health and well-being of incarcerated people — but for the communities to which they will return.

    • G20: You Can Smell Tear Gas in the Streets as the Oil Industry Squabbles

      Last week, two important meetings took place—one, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, of the Group of 20 (G20) nations, and two, in Vienna, Austria, of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other oil producers. The two meetings did not produce any resolution to the major economic challenges in the world. But they did soothe the nerves of financial markets. At the G20, the United States and China dialed down the temperature over trade but did not settle the long-term grievances each side has of the other. At the OPEC+ meeting, Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed to cut production and raise the price of oil despite pressure from the United States and others to keep oil prices low.

      At neither meeting did the major powers find solutions to their problems. They are all caught in mazes from which there are no easy exits. But what calmed the world of finance was that the geopolitical tension between the major powers seemed to have lessened. What impact this reduced tension has for the world’s people, however, is not clear.

    • President Trump Is Accelerating the Militarization of the Southwest Border

      Under President Trump, the slide toward a fully militarized border between the U.S. and Mexico is happening rapidly to the detriment of civil rights.
      For decades, the ACLU has fought back against the militarization of domestic law enforcement agencies and the use of the military in our communities. Nowhere is this militarization more pronounced than on the border between the U.S. and Mexico — and President Trump is only making it worse.

      The creation of the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11 accelerated the government’s operations on the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a division of DHS, grew in size and scope under the Bush and Obama administrations, gaining additional powers and hiring thousands of new personnel despite a “shocking” pattern of serious misconduct among its officers, including child abuse, sexual assault, wanton cruelty, and murder.

      The number of Border Patrol agents more than doubled between fiscal year 2000 and 2011, and by the year President Trump took office, CBP reported 19,437 Border Patrol agents on staff nationwide. This rise in Border Patrol agents, however, does not include thousands of other CBP officers on the border or personnel from other federal, state, and local agencies deployed to the border. Shortly after his inauguration, Trump called for the hiring of an additional 7,500 border agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, despite the serious concerns over lack of safeguards in hiring procedures and past corruption and criminality among border agents.

      On top of that, Trump joined Bush and Obama in authorizing the deployment of National Guard troops to the border, sending some 4,000 National Guard troops in 2018. Recently, Trump went even further, sending 5,900 military troops to the Southwest border just prior to the midterm election. The directive, ostensibly to address the arrival of the so-called migrant “caravan,” was clearly an effort to stoke fear of immigrants and influence the election. At the time, the caravan was over 1,000 miles from the border, and the number of unauthorized border crossers was one-third the level seen over a decade ago.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Small Websites Are Dying

      Historically small pages were made out of static HTML with some sprinkles of JavaScript here and there. I bet it is still the way to go in traditional server-side applications (like in Django or Ruby on Rails), but it is not cool anymore, so even if people still use them, very often it is just an API. These pages (no matter static or server-side rendered) had a lot of adhoc scripts, which looked like crazy tangled mess. It was a nightmare to maintain and test, and they were either very long or concatenated in some bizarre way.

    • FCC Commissioner Accuses Her Own Agency Of A Net Neutrality Cover Up

      We’ve long discussed how the Pai FCC’s net neutrality repeal was plagued with millions of fraudulent comments, many of which were submitted by a bot pulling names from a hacked database of some kind. Millions of ordinary folks (like myself) had their identities used to support Pai’s unpopular plan, as did several Senators. Numerous journalists have submitted FOIA requests for more data (server logs, IP addresses, API data, anything) that might indicate who was behind the fraudulent comments, who may have bankrolled them, and what the Pai FCC knew about it.

      But the Pai FCC has repeatedly tried to tap dance around FOIA requests, leading to several journalists (including those at the New York Times and Buzzfeed) suing the FCC. Despite the Times’ lawyers best efforts to work with the FCC to tailor the nature of their requests over a period of months, the agency continues to hide behind FOIA exemptions that don’t really apply here: namely FOIA exemption 6 (related to protecting privacy) and 7E (related to protecting agency security and law enforcement activity).

      And while the Times and Buzzfeed had appealed the FCC’s ruling, the FCC this week released a memorandum and order formally denying those requests. In it, the FCC doubles down on the claims that it’s simply blocking the release of this data because it’s super worried about the privacy of FCC commenters (though again, if you actually read the Times lawsuit, you’ll note the FCC was utterly inflexible in terms of narrowing down the scope of requests).

    • With Deadline to Save Net Neutrality Days Away, Here Are the 18 Democrats Still Siding With Telecom Donors Over Open Internet

      In addition to highlighting the names of the Democratic lawmakers who have yet to take a stand for net neutrality by signing on to the House Congressional Review Act (CRA) measure, the website—titled DemsAgainstThe.Net—also shows the amount of campaign cash each of the holdouts has received from the telecom industry.

      For example, according to Fight for the Future, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) is “selling out for $408,000.”

      “It’s hard to think of a more nauseatingly clear example of the corrupting influence of telecom money in our democracy,” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement, urging people to contact their representatives. “These Democrats have no excuse: their constituents want them to support real net neutrality and the entire rest of their party has already done so. Do they really want to be seen as more beholden to corporate interests than the three Republican senators who voted for the CRA?”

      The 18 House Democrats who still haven’t signed on to the Congressional Review Act (CRA) measure to restore net neutrality protections are: Reps. Brandon Boyle (Pa.), Robert Brady (Pa.), G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), Matt Cartwright (Pa.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Henry Cueller (Texas), Dwight Evans (Pa.), Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Gene Green (Texas), Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.), Brad Schneider (Ill.), David Scott (Ga.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Filemon Vela (Texas), Pete Visclosky (Ind.), Frederica Wilson (Fla.), and Mary Gay Scanlon (Pa.).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • US Supreme Court likely to limit on-sale bar to public prior art [Ed: So the court agreed to look into Helsinn (Helsinn v Teva) and these patent propagandists pretend to already know the outcome! Why? Because that's what these patent extremists hope for?]

      Based on the Supreme Court’s line of questioning during Helsinn v Teva’s arguments, it appears the court may part from the Federal Circuit and support a new interpretation of “on-sale”

    • European GMO ruling stems CRISPR patent pool efforts [Ed: These patents are a scam]

      Plans for a CRISPR patent pool in the agricultural sector have been stifled by the ECJ’s July ruling that crops derived from the technology are genetically modified organisms.

    • Trademarks

      • Cadbury loses appeal for colour purple description alteration

        In what is being viewed as a “significant blow” to Cadbury, the UK Court of Appeal did not accept the confectionery company’s argument that its registration for the colour purple contained a series of trade marks

        A multinational confectionery company lost the case to alter its purple colour trade mark description at the UK Court of Appeal today.

      • Monster Energy Loses Trademark Opposition Against UK Drink Company, But May Have Bullied It To Death Anyway

        A review of our stories about Monster Energy’s trademark bullying ways might leave some scratching their heads as to why the company continues along these lines at all. After all, any review of those stories will leave one with the impression that Monster Energy seems to lose these trademark oppositions at nearly every turn. So, if that’s the case, why continue with this losing streak?

        Well, as we’ve explained previously, winning an opposition or lawsuit is only one of the real goals in trademark bullying. Other goals include making the opposition so painful and expensive so as to either push the victim into unreasonable changes or to simply drain the victim of cash and assets as they attempt to defend themselves. Likewise, such bullying serves as public notice to anyone else that might consider similar actions that would draw the bully’s ire, chilling their willingness to do so. In this, Monster Energy’s trademark bullying is often quite successful.

    • Copyrights

      • YouTube Terminates ‘Kodi No Limits’ Account With 600K Subscribers

        The popular ‘Kodi No Limits’ channel, filled with hundreds of ‘educational’ videos about Kodi, was removed by YouTube recently. The video streaming service states that it received multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement, likely for videos that promoted third-party ‘piracy’ tools. While all videos and more than 600,000 subscribers are gone, Kodi No Limits is not backing down.

      • 4.6 Million Italians Consume Pirated Sports Content

        Around 4.6 million Italians over the age of 15 are consuming sports content from illegal sources, a survey has found. The study, carried out by market research company Ipsos, reveals that there were 21 million illegal viewings of live sports in 2017, with around 35% of streaming pirates utilizing unauthorized IPTV services.

      • In a Letter To The EU, European Film Companies and Sports Leagues Disavow Article 13, Say It Will Make Big Tech Stronger

        A coalition of some of Europe’s largest film companies and sports leagues have published an open letter to the European Union officials negotiating the final stage of the new Copyright Directive; in their letter, the companies condemn “Article 13,” the rule requiring all but the smallest online platforms to censor their users’ videos, text-messages, photos and audio if they appear to match anything in a crowdsourced copyrighted works database.

        The companies say that Article 13 will give more power to Google and the other Big Tech companies it was supposed to rein in, and make it harder for entertainment companies to negotiate favorable deals with the tech sector. They demand that the negotiators finalising the Directive remove their products from Article 13′s scope, unless the negotiators want to roll back the Article 13 language to its 2016 state, an essentially impossible outcome.

      • Some EU Nations Still Haven’t Implemented The 2013 Marrakesh Treaty For The Blind

        The annals of copyright are littered with acts of extraordinary stupidity and selfishness on the part of the publishers, recording industry and film studios. But few can match the refusal by the publishing industry to make it easier for the blind to gain access to reading material that would otherwise be blocked by copyright laws. Indeed, the fact that it took so long for what came to be known as the Marrakesh Treaty to be adopted is a shameful testimony to the publishing industry’s belief that copyright maximalism is more important than the rights of the visually impaired.

      • Poland saved Europe from ACTA: can they save us from ACTA2?

        The coalition points out that online media is critical to the lives of everyday Poles for purposes that have nothing to do with the entertainment industry: education, the continuation of Polish culture, and connections to the global Polish diaspora.

        Polish civil society and its ruling political party are united in opposing ACTA2; Polish President Andrzej Duda called the Directive “Stupid, harmful and anti-Polish,” and vowed to oppose it.

        Early next month, the Polish Internet Governance Forum will host a roundtable on the question; they have invited proponents of the Directive to attend and publicly debate the issue.

        With the current stage of the Directive negotiation set to finish as early as Christmas, and a final vote due eight weeks afterwards, there is little time to lose. The opposition to the Directive is mounting and with Poland onboard, there is a real potential for a “blocking minority” — a directive cannot proceed when opposed by at least four states representing more than 35% of Europeans in total.

      • Article 13 is a mess: Now even big rightholders disavow it

        But the big news came this weekend: Ahead of the negotiations, a letter to MEPs from big film industry associations and sports leagues is raising eyebrows. Their message: They believe both the Parliament’s and the Council’s versions of Article 13 would end up benefiting the big online platforms – and they’d rather prefer to be left out of this mess altogether. Except in the highly unlikely case that both institutions drop all their work and return to the original Commission proposal from 2016, they urge that their sectors be explicitly removed from Article 13’s scope.

        In doing so, they are disavowing those in the media industry who ahead of the September vote in the European Parliament swayed MEP’s opinions by loudly claiming to be speaking for “European creators” when they asserted that the law, including Parliament’s version, was necessary to “save culture”. The lawmakers cheerleading Article 13 are left scratching their heads: Why do those we believed we were benefiting now want nothing to do with it?

      • Google, YouTube Accused Of Disinformation, Scaremongering By European Authors [Ed: They still promote the lie that everyone who defends the Web from censorship attacks is just "Google"]

        European creators are alleging a scaremongering campaign by YouTube, and more than 30 entities representing creators in France say Google and YouTube are leading a massive fake information campaign against the European copyright directive currently under discussion in order to protect their commercial interests.


Links 5/12/2018: Epic Games Store, CrossOver 18.1.0, Important Kubernetes Patch

Posted in News Roundup at 2:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Surface Book 2 afflicted by mystery Blue Screen Of Death errors

      If you’re running a Surface Book 2, you might want to hold off on the latest cumulative update that is making some in the line quite poorly and their owners quite irate.

      The problem was first reported on Reddit, as users huddled around the virtual campfire to sing songs and exchange tales of Surface Book 2 woe.

      Blue Screens of Death (BSOD) first began occurring shortly after the update, KB4467682, was dropped on 27 November. This update is for users of the 1803 build of Windows 10 (also known as the April 2018 Update) and contains a veritable smorgasbord of fixes as well as few known issues relating to the seek bar in Windows Media Player and some .NET problems.

  • Server

    • 3 implications of serverless

      If you strip away all of the modern conveniences and features that make up your internet experience today, what you’re left with is the client-server model. This distributed network was what the internet was built on in the beginning, and that part hasn’t changed. You could say, it is still serving us well.

      So, when people talk about serverless, what does it mean? Well, it doesn’t mean servers are GONE. Of course not: That “client-server model” is still the backbone of how things are getting done.

    • Understanding resource limits in OpenShift Container Platform

      As an OpenShift Container platform operator, managing resources on nodes is one of the most important tasks. Setting LimitRange and Quota are the right way to limit resources. Many blog posts cover the Quota and LimitRange from the OpenShift Container Platform perspective, but they do not explain the relationship between those objects in Kubernetes and control groups (cgroups) in the Linux kernel. Since I haven’t seen this covered elsewhere, I decided I’d get into the connection with particular attention to the CPU/memory limit.

    • Kubernetes 1.13 Improves Cloud-Native Storage Features

      Kubernetes 1.13 was released on Dec. 3, providing users of the popular open-source cloud-native platform with new features to make it easier to manage, deploy and operate containers in production.

      Among the features that are now generally available in Kubernetes 1.13 is the kubeadm administration tool for configuring services. The Container Storage Interface is another new generally available feature, providing a stable abstraction layer for different third-party storage plug-ins. Additionally, with Kubernetes 1.13, CoreDNS is now the default DNS (Domain Name Server) technology, replacing KubeDNS.

    • Production-Ready Kubernetes Cluster Creation with kubeadm

      kubeadm is a tool that enables Kubernetes administrators to quickly and easily bootstrap minimum viable clusters that are fully compliant with Certified Kubernetes guidelines. It’s been under active development by SIG Cluster Lifecycle since 2016 and we’re excited to announce that it has now graduated from beta to stable and generally available (GA)!

      This GA release of kubeadm is an important event in the progression of the Kubernetes ecosystem, bringing stability to an area where stability is paramount.

      The goal of kubeadm is to provide a foundational implementation for Kubernetes cluster setup and administration. kubeadm ships with best-practice defaults but can also be customized to support other ecosystem requirements or vendor-specific approaches. kubeadm is designed to be easy to integrate into larger deployment systems and tools.

    • Docker Looks to Improve Container Development With Enterprise Desktop

      Docker CEO Steve Singh kicked off DockerCon Europe 2018 here with a bold statement: Companies need to transform, or risk becoming irrelevant.

      According to Singh, Docker is a key tool for enabling organizations to transform their businesses. To date for enterprises, the core Docker Enterprise Platform has been largely focused on operations and deployment, with the community Docker Desktop project available for developers to build applications. That’s now changing with the announcement at DockerCon Europe of the new Docker Desktop Enterprise, adding new commercially supported developer capabilities to help corporate developers fully benefit from Docker.

      “Our commitment is to provide a development experience that makes it easy to build applications with one platform, upon which you can build, ship and run any application on any infrastructure,” Singh said.

    • Why Docker Swarm Remains Important

      Docker Swarm remains a core element of Docker Inc’s plans and that’s not going to change anytime soon. That’s the strong message coming from Docker CEO Steve Singh, during a briefing with press and analysts at the Dockercon Europe 2018 event here.

      A year ago, in October 2017 at the last Dockercon Europe event, Docker announced that it would be support the erstwhile rival Kubernetes container orchestration system. At the time, Docker’s management committed to continuing to support Swarm and now a year later, they are still on that same path. Docker has been developing its own Swarm system since December 2014.

      “We have many clients that continue to run Docker Swarm in production,” Singh said. “Swarm continues to be a very well adopted container orchestration tool, in large part, honestly because it’s ridiculously simple to use.”

    • Seattle’s Upbound introduces Crossplane, an open-source project to help companies manage applications across multiple public clouds

      Eventually Crossplane could help users automate deployment practices such as specifying which cloud provider — and which region inside that cloud provider’s network — should run a given application depending on how and where it is used. If it works as designed, this could make it much easier to manage a multicloud environment, which is an undertaking most companies do for strategic rather than practical reasons at the moment.

    • IBM and Red Hat want to become the leader in global hybrid and multicloud market

      When the news hit on October 29, 2018, that IBM had acquired Red Hat Inc., in a $34 billion deal, it stunned the technology world. And with good reason, as Red Hat’s merging with IBM was the biggest software acquisition ever achieved. But outside all of the hype, what will this actually mean for Red Hat going forward? To put it simply: global growth and worldwide leadership.

      “It puts us several years ahead of where we have been — or where we would have been, frankly — and ultimately … our intent is that with IBM, we’ll become the leading hybrid and multicloud provider in the world,” said Mike Ferris (pictured), vice president of technical business development and business architecture at Red Hat.

    • Quickly try Red Hat Process Automation Manager in your cloud

      t’s been some time since I last talked with you about putting JBoss BPM Suite (now called Red Hat Process Automation Manager) into your cloud, and with the new release, it’s time to talk AppDev in the cloud again.

      It’s time to update the story and see how to put Red Hat Process Automation Manager in your cloud so you are set up with a standard configuration to start your first business rules project.

    • Red Hat leads the charge into remote site and edge computing with open source hyperconverged infrastructure

      Initially aimed at remote office/branch office (ROBO) deployment, more Red Hat customers have been looking for infrastructure solutions at the edge. In industries like energy, retail, banking, telecommunications, and the public sector, many organizations rely on business-critical applications that must be deployed with limited space, budgetary constraints, and a growing scarcity of specialized IT staff.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Shell in a Handbasket | LINUX Unplugged 278

      We chat with a developer who’s gotten Linux running on iOS devices, do a deep dive into Clear Linux, and discuss Xubuntu ending 32bit support.

      Plus why Android in the cloud, and a bunch of community news.

      Special Guests: Alan Pope, Martin Wimpress, and Theodore Dubois.

    • LHS Episode #262: RigPi Deep Dive

      Welcome to Episode 262 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode, we have a special guest, Howard Nurse, W6HN, a longtime amateur radio operator and open-source enthusiast. He has developed the RigPi Station Server, a Raspberry Pi-based hardware and software rig control and operation solution that will be manufactured and sold by MFJ Enterprises.

  • Kernel Space

    • It’s Looking Like The EXT4 Corruption Issue On Linux 4.19 Is Caused By BLK-MQ

      The saga about EXT4 file-system corruption on Linux 4.19 kernels that has increased in recent weeks might soon be drawing a close… This data corruption bug though is looking like it doesn’t originate from within the EXT4 code at all.

      While it’s still not 100% settled, it’s looking like the EXT4 corruption issues on Linux 4.19 are actually due to a problem within the multi-queue block code “blk-mq” for this current stable series. It’s also looking like other file-systems could be/are affected, just that EXT4 is the most common file-system and thus the most reports. That’s the latest belief for those anxious for details that haven’t been tracking this problem closely.

    • Golly! Linux Code Patched to Replace F-Bombs in Comments With ‘Hugs’

      A Linux developer has released a kernel patch that edits comments to replace uses of the F-word with “hugs.”

      The patches, released Friday by Jarkko Sakkinen, who works at Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), are designed to put the Linux kernel in compliance with the Linux Foundation ‘s recently enacted Code of Conduct. The code bans, among other things, “abusive, offensive or degrading language.”

    • Linux Foundation

      • Hyperledger Releases ‘Ursa’ As An Open Source Blockchain Toolbox Library For Crypto Developers

        Blockchain organization Hyperledger created a stir in the crypto developer community earlier today by launching a platform called Ursa. Ursa is a modular, shared cryptographic library that will make life easier for blockchain developers.

        Ursa, which is written mostly in Rust, will introduce modularization and an API to the crypto community while also supporting Hyperledger’s most popular languages. The tool is expected to reduce duplicate development and speed up blockchain development while improving efficiency within the open source development community.

      • Linux Plumbers Conference: Conference Videos now Posted

        Videos of Plumbers content now posted. You can either see them in our Youtube channel or by visiting the detailed timetable and clicking on the video link in the presentation materials section of any given talk or discussion. The Microconferences are recorded as one long video block, but clicking on the Video link of a particular discussion topic will take you to the time index in that file where the chosen discussion begins.

      • ONAP Releases Casablanca, Enhances Deployment Capabilities Across Open Source Networking Stack

        LF Networking (LFN), which facilitates collaboration and operational excellence across open networking projects, today announced continued progress to ease deployments across the open source networking stack. New platform releases from ONAP (Casablanca) and OPNFV (Gambia) bring additional support for cross-stack deployments across new and existing use cases such as 5G and Cross-Carrier VPN (CCVPN), as well as enhancements to cloud-native VPN. Additionally, the organization’s compliance and verification program recently announced its expansion into virtual network functions (VNF) testing and is now recruiting Beta participants. VNF testing will help ease deployment pains and improve VNF quality and interoperability across real-world deployments.
        “New and enhanced deployments of our platforms are popping up every day across the globe, and with tighter cross-community integration and an expanded compliance and verification program, we are well-positioned to facilitate innovative industry progress,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, networking, the Linux Foundation. “The latest releases of ONAP and OPNFV usher in a new era for LFN as the community continues to foster an expanding commercial ecosystem.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Nvidia Surprise: PhysX Is Now An Open Source Technology
      • Nvidia open sources its PhysX physics simulation engine
      • Nvidia open-source PhysX to help AI and robotics research
      • Announcing PhysX SDK 4.0, an open-source physics engine
      • V3D Driver Fixes Glaring Performance Bug, VC4 Working Towards Proper GPU Reset

        Within the VC4 driver space, Anholt started writing a driver for the power management block that should be able to work more reliably and better for GPU reset handling than the current code they are using between the raspberrypi-power driver and the Raspberry Pi firmware.

        On the V3D driver front for the next-gen VideoCore hardware, most notably is a fix for a 3ms wait that was happening on the CPU with every new job submission for the GPU. That’s a significant wait for every job submission and with the kernel fix in place, throughput has improved by four and ten times. “Now I know why my fancy new hardware felt so slow!,” Eric noted without revealing the details of this new hardware.

      • Intel Vulkan Driver Gets Patches For New KHR_shader_float16_int8 Functionality

        Yesterday saw the release of Vulkan 1.1.95 that introduced the new VK_KHR_shader_float18_int8 extension for supporting 16-bit floating-point types and 8-bit integer types within shader code for arithmetic operations, compared to earlier extensions limiting these data types to load/store operations. NVIDIA released a same-day driver update for the new 1.1.95 extensions while now Intel’s “ANV” open-source Vulkan code is the second Linux driver seeing this support (or first if just looking at the open-source drivers).

      • Linux 4.19.7 Getting Revised STIBP Code, Important PCIe Fix For Radeon GPUs

        Greg Kroah-Hartman today published the initial patch series of work he intends to use as forming the Linux 4.19.7 point release in the coming days. With Linux 4.19.7 there are some important fixes.

      • Mesa Developers Move Closer To Dropping Autotools Build System In Favor Of Meson

        Mesa developers have been discussing on and off in recent months about dropping their Autotools build system support considering there is also the SCons build support, Android build system support, and most notably is the increasingly mature Meson build system coverage.

        Particularly with more Mesa packagers/users moving to the Meson build system for its speedier build times with Ninja, developers have been wanting to get rid of GNU Autotools for having one less build system to maintain.

      • VK_KHR_shader_float16_int8 on Anvil

        The last time I talked about my driver work was to announce the implementation of the shaderInt16 feature for the Anvil Vulkan driver back in May, and since then I have been working on VK_KHR_shader_float16_int8, a new Vulkan extension recently announced by the Khronos group, for which I have just posted initial patches in mesa-dev supporting Broadwell and later Intel platforms.

        As you probably guessed by the name, this extension enables Vulkan to consume SPIR-V shaders that use of Float16 and Int8 types in arithmetic operations, extending the functionality included with VK_KHR_16bit_storage and VK_KHR_8bit_storage, which was limited to load/store operations. In theory, applications that do not need the range and precision of regular 32-bit floating point and integers, can use these new types to improve performance by increasing ALU throughput and reducing register pressure, which in some platforms can also lead to improved parallelism.

        In the case of the Intel platforms initial testing done by Intel suggests that better ALU throughput is expected when issuing half-float instructions. Lower register pressure is also expected, at least for SIMD16 fragment and compute shaders, where we can pack all 16-channels worth of half-float data into a single GPU register, which could significantly improve performance for shaders that would otherwise need to spill registers to memory.

      • Intel Posts Final Batch Of Graphics Driver Feature Changes Ahead Of Linux 4.21

        With the time for new Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver feature material to enter DRM-Next for the Linux 4.21 kernel cycle quickly coming to a close, the Intel Open-Source Technology Center crew has sent in a final feature pull of material for this next kernel development cycle.

        As the DRM-Next feature cutoff happens a few weeks prior to the end of the current kernel cycle, in the days ahead will mark that point for Linux 4.21 with 4.20 marching along for debut around Christmas. The open-source Intel developers have already sent in a few feature updates in the past few weeks to DRM-Next while today was their final expected batch for 4.21.

      • NVIDIA Video Codec SDK 9.0 Bringing Big Improvements For Turing GPUs

        NVIDIA has quietly outed the key features they will be introducing with their upcoming Video Codec SDK 9.0 release.

        The NVIDIA Video Codec SDK for Linux users is the company’s successor to VDPAU and offers both video encode and decode APIs while being unified across both Windows and Linux. The Video Codec SDK consists of the NVENCODE “NVENC” and NVDECODE “NVDEC” APIs with a variety of formats supported from older MPEG-2 up through H.265 and VP9 at a variety of bit depths and color formats.

      • AMDVLK Radeon Vulkan Driver Adds Transform Feedback, ~10% Vega Performance Boost

        AMD’s Vulkan driver developers have done their first fresh code drop of the AMDVLK open-source Vulkan driver code in two weeks and it’s a big push.

        Highlights of the AMDVLK update pushed out this morning for those using this official Radeon Vulkan driver alternative to Mesa RADV includes:

        - Their Vulkan transform feedback support appears in order. This is most notably useful for Wine/Proton Steam Play gamers with DXVK for mapping Direct3D to Vulkan. The Vulkan transform feedback support is necessary for handling Direct3D Stream-Out functionality. The RADV driver had already enabled this transform feedback support.

    • Benchmarks

      • Linux 4.20 I/O Scheduler Benchmarks On NVMe SSD Storage

        Complementing the recent Linux 4.19 I/O scheduler benchmarks using SATA 3.0 SSD storage, here are some benchmarks when using the current Linux 4.20 development kernel and also using faster NVMe solid-state storage for benchmarking. Most Linux distributions default to no I/O scheduler in the case of NVMe SSDs, but for your viewing pleasure today is a look at the performance against MQ Deadline, Kyber, and BFQ.

        This round of Linux I/O scheduler benchmarking on 4.20 Git was done using an AMD Threadripper 2990WX workstation with a Samsung 970 EVO 500GB NVMe SSD. None, MQ-Deadline, Kyber, BFQ, and BFQ low_latency were the I/O scheduling options tested for this comparison. An EXT4 file-system was used for the root partition with the default mount options.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Necuno is a New Open Source Smartphone Running KDE

        It’s been more than two years since Ubuntu’s dream of creating a Linux smartphone was shattered. But it hasn’t discouraged others from trying their own hands on a Linux-based smartphone.

        Librem 5, the privacy-focused Linux-based smartphone, should be arriving in 2019. Even Pine64 is aiming for a budget Linux smartphone.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • Kali Linux for the Gemini PDA

      Being basically a pimped up cell phone requires a convergence of Linux (glibc) and Android (bionic) to drive the hardware not yet natively supported by GNU/Linux. We are using components from the Halium project to achieve that.

      Bringing GNU/Linux to the Gemini PDA, or any other mobile platform, is in the very early stages and some of it still needs a bit of work, such as data and voice support, GPS, power management, etc. There is currently one known issue with the Gemini having occasional issues when shutting down. The community is currently working on it.

      Overall, it’s a very stable experience thanks to the hard work of the Sailfish and Gemian communities, in particular TheKit and adam_b, who brought Gemian to the Gemini PDA and helped a lot with this project.

    • New Releases

      • Proxmox VE 5.3 is available

        since almost half a year we have been constantly improving Proxmox VE and adding new features. Today, we are proud to announce the final release of the new Version 5.3.


        Here are the highlights of the new version 5.3:

        Based on Debian 9.6 and Linux Kernel 4.15
        You can create CephFS and the Metadata servers (MDS) in the GUI
        Improved disk management: add ZFS raid volumes, LVM, and LVMthin pools
        ZFS over iSCSI storage plug-in can access LIO target in the Linux kernel
        LXC: nesting is enabled for containers – you can use LXC or LXD inside a container
        PCI passthrough and vGPUs via GUI
        Countless bugfixes
        and much more…

      • VyOS 1.2.0-rc10 is available for download

        We have a bunch of issues that need testing. Please tell us if the following features work for you, or help us figure out a reproducing procedure! We need to make sure they are resolved before we make a stable 1.2.0 release, but we are either unable to reproduce them because they are hardware-specific and we don’t have required hardware anywhere; or we cannot reproduce them using the provided procedure, which may mean either that the procedure is incomplete, or that the bug is already fixed.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Fedora

      • Flatpaks in Fedora – now live

        I’m pleased to announce that we now have full initial support for Flatpak creation in Fedora infrastructure: Flatpaks can be built as containers, pushed to testing and stable via Bodhi, and installed by users from registry.fedoraproject.org through the command line, GNOME Software, or KDE Discover.

        The goal of this work has been to enable creating Flatpaks from Fedora packages on Fedora infrastructure – this will expand the set of Flatpaks that are available to all Flatpak users, provide a runtime that gets updates as bugs and security fixes appear in Fedora, and provide Fedora users, especially on Fedora Silverblue, with an out-of-the-box set of Flatpak applications enabled by default.

      • Máirín Duffy: Fedora Design Team Meeting, 4 Nollaig 2018
    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What is open leadership?

    Leadership works differently at Red Hat. In our open organization, people don’t just receive the status of “leader” when appointed to a position or given a title. Instead, leaders earn their leadership positions when they adopt a certain combination of behaviors and mindsets.

  • Monex Platform Now Available in Private Beta Launch: Built on Open-Source Blockchain

    Monax, a digital legal infrastructure platform built on an open-source, universal blockchain, has introduced the private beta launch of the Monax Platform, the latest in its line of smart contract products. The Monax Platform is a collaborative workspace for businesses, legal and tech professionals, with market-ready smart contract templates available for individual or commercial use.

  • 2019 telecoms forecast: the year of 5G and open source

    2019 is shaping up to be a massive year for telco companies. In the final few months of 2018, countless 5G projects have launched and several new uses cases in cloud computing and IoT have come to light, driving demand for high capacity and low latency connectivity.

    As a result of the monetisation challenges, there has been a distinct move away from just providing faster network speeds to consumers, and towards enabling a whole host of new technologies on mobile networks. To achieve this, an increasing number of telecoms operators are functioning like software companies.

  • AI in 2019: 8 trends to watch

    “Today, more leading-edge software development occurs inside open source communities than ever before, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for proprietary projects to keep up with the rapid pace of development that open source offers,” says Ibrahim Haddad, director of research at The Linux Foundation, which includes the LF Deep Learning Foundation. “AI is no different and is becoming dominated by open source software that brings together multiple collaborators and organizations.”

    In particular, Haddad expects more cutting-edge technology companies and early adopters to open source their internal AI work to catalyze the next waves of development, not unlike how Google spun Kubernetes out from an internal system to an open source project.

    “We foresee more companies open sourcing their internal AI stacks in order to build communities around those projects,” Haddad says. “This will enable companies and communities to harmonize across a set of critical projects that together will create a comprehensive open source stack in the AI, machine learning, and deep learning space. Large companies that were the first to take their AI efforts open source are already seeing early mover advantages, and we expect this to increase.”

  • The 8 biggest open source milestones in 2018

    Open source continues to climb the charts of popularity and usability. Every year that goes by marks newer and greater milestones for open source, and 2018 was no stranger to such events. The open source community enjoyed plenty of highs and suffered its share of lows.

  • Events

    • Guten Tag Sindelfingen!

      This week, Collaborans will be taking part, and speaking, in this year’s ESE Kongress, “the only German-language convention with an exclusive and extensive focus on the manifold issues and challenges with respect to the development of device and system software for industrial applications, automotive engineering, automation, drives, measurement systems, communication systems as well as consumer electronics and medical devices.”‘

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Report: LibreOffice Bug Hunting Session in Taiwan

      LibreOffice’s worldwide community is active in many parts of the project – in development, localisation, documentation, design, marketing and more. There’s also the Quality Assurance (QA) community, which focuses on identifying and fixing bugs. At a recent event in Taiwan, a Bug Hunting Session took place to check bug reports, as Franklin Weng explains…

    • SmartArt improvements in LibreOffice, part 2

      I recently dived into the SmartArt support of LibreOffice, which is the component responsible for displaying complex diagrams from PPTX. I focused especially on the case when only document model and the layout constraints are given, not a pre-rendered result.

      First, thanks to our partner SUSE for working with Collabora to make this possible.

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • Register today for LibrePlanet 2019!

      The free software community spans the entire world, with supporters in nearly every corner of the globe, busily coding, tinkering, and spreading the word about the growing importance of controlling our computing. The Internet provides us with many great tools to share the latest news and advances, but ultimately, there’s nothing quite like meeting in person at the LibrePlanet conference! At LibrePlanet, you can meet other developers, activists, policy experts, students, and more, to make connections and help us strategize the future of free software.

    • Introducing Lei Zhao, intern with the FSF tech team

      I first became aware of free software in the sense of freedom at the age of 19. I encountered free software even earlier, but it took some time to appreciate the free/libre aspect of free software.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Removing Duplicate PATH Entries, Part II: the Rise of Perl

      With apologies to Arnold and the Terminator franchise for the title, let’s look one more time at removing duplicates from the PATH variable. This take on doing it was prompted by a comment from a reader named Shaun on the previous post that asked “if you’re willing to use a non-bash solution (AWK) to solve the problem, why not use Perl?” Shaun was kind enough to provide a Perl version of the code, which was good, since I’d have been hard-pressed to come up with one. It’s a short piece of code, shorter than the AWK version, so it seemed like it ought to be fairly easy to pick it apart. In the end, I’m not sure I’d call it easy, but it was interesting, and I thought other non-Perl programmers might find it interesting too.

    • converts all pngs in a folder to webp, quality can be choosed as a argument
    • This Week In Servo 120
    • Tower of Hanoi program in Higher-Order Perl book, ported to Python

      I was reading the book Higher Order Perl (Wikipedia entry). It is by Mark Jason Dominus, a well-known figure in the Perl community. I’ve only read a bit of it so far, but it already looks very good. There are also many reviews of it, all of which say that it is a good book, including one by Damian Conway, another well-known Perl figure.

      Early in the book, in chapter 1 – Recursion and Callbacks, there is a nice example program showing how to solve the Tower of Hanoi problem. I had come across the problem earlier, but had not seen a Perl solution before. It’s not really any different from the same kind of solution written in other languages, except for some points related to Perl’s syntax and semantics, such as the use of local (Perl’s my) vs. global variables, specifically with regard to a recursive function, which is what Mark uses for Hanoi.

    • 55: When 100% test coverage just isn’t enough – Mahmoud Hashemi

      What happens when 100% test code coverage just isn’t enough.
      In this episode, we talk with Mahmoud Hashemi about glom, a very cool project in itself, but a project that needs more coverage than 100%.
      This problem affects lots of projects that use higher level programming constructs, like domain specific languages (DSLs), sub languages mini languages, compilers, and db query languages.

    • Create the custom made thread class for the python application project
    • Seaborn Library for Data Visualization in Python: Part 1

      In the previous article, we looked at how Python’s Matplotlib library can be used for data visualization. In this article we will look at Seaborn which is another extremely useful library for data visualization in Python. The Seaborn library is built on top of Matplotlib and offers many advanced data visualization capabilities.

      Though, the Seaborn library can be used to draw a variety of charts such as matrix plots, grid plots, regression plots etc., in this article we will see how the Seaborn library can be used to draw distributional and categorial plots. In the next part of the article, we will see how to draw regression plots, matrix plots, and grid plots.

    • Create enemy missiles within the Enemy object

      In this article we are going to edit a few game’s classes that we have created earlier, our main objective here is to detach the enemy missiles from the enemy missile manager, which means instead of putting all the enemy missiles under a single missile list inside the enemy missile manager as we have done previously, we are going to create a separate missile list and a separate missile pool…

    • Django TemplateView Example — URLs, GET and as_view

      Django Templates are used to create HTML interfaces that get rendered with a Django view.

    • Write drunk, test automated: documentation quality assurance – Sven Strack

      Before you start testing your documentation, you’ll need some insight. Start with getting an overview of your documentation. Who is committing to it? Which parts are there? Which parts of the documentation are updated most often? Are the committers native speakers yes/no? Which part of the documentation has the most bug reports. So: gather statistics.

      Also: try to figure out who reads your documentation. Where do they come from? What are the search terms they use to find your documentation in google? You can use these statistics to focus your development effort.

      Important: planning. If your documentation in English, plan beforehand if you want it to be in UK or US English. Define style guides. If you have automatic checks, define standards beforehand: do you want a check to fail on line length yes/no? Spelling errors? Etc. How long is the test allowed to take?

    • Python 101: Episode #36 – Creating Modules and Packages

      In this screencast, we will learn the basics of how to create our own module or package.

    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #345 (Dec. 4, 2018)
    • Python Education Summit – in its 7th year in 2019

      Teachers, educators, and Pythonistas: come and share your projects, experiences, and tools of the trade in teaching coding and Python to your students. The Annual Python Education Summit is held at PyCon 2019, taking place on Thursday, May 2nd. Our call for proposals is open until January 3rd AoE, and we want to hear from you!

    • Using Pip in a Conda Environment

      Unfortunately, issues can arise when conda and pip are used together to create an environment, especially when the tools are used back-to-back multiple times, establishing a state that can be hard to reproduce. Most of these issues stem from that fact that conda, like other package managers, has limited abilities to control packages it did not install. Running conda after pip has the potential to overwrite and potentially break packages installed via pip. Similarly, pip may upgrade or remove a package which a conda-installed package requires. In some cases these breakages are cosmetic, where a few files are present that should have been removed, but in other cases the environment may evolve into an unusable state.

    • Type erasure and reification

      In this post I’d like to discuss the concepts of type erasure and reification in programming languages. I don’t intend to dive very deeply into the specific rules of any particular language; rather, the post is going to present several simple examples in multiple languages, hoping to provide enough intuition and background for a more serious study, if necessary. As you’ll see, the actual concepts are very simple and familiar. Deeper details of specific languages pertain more to the idiosyncrasies of those languages’ semantics and implementations.

      Important note: in C++ there is a programming pattern called type erasure, which is quite distinct from what I’m trying to describe here [1]. I’ll be using C++ examples here, but that’s to demonstrate how the original concepts apply in C++. The programming pattern will be covered in a separate post.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Agrarian Crisis: Father of Green Revolution in India Rejects GM Crops as Farmers Demand Justice in Delhi

      Genetically modified (GM) cotton in India is a failure. India should reject GM mustard. And like the Green Revolution, GM agriculture poses risks and is unsustainable. Regulatory bodies are dogged by incompetency and conflicts of interest. GM crops should therefore be banned.

      You may have heard much of this before. But what is different this time is that the claims come from distinguished scientist P.C. Kesaven and his colleague M.S. Swaminathan, renowned agricultural scientist and geneticist and widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution in India.


      In the paper, it is argued that genetic engineering technology is supplementary and must be need based. In more than 99% of cases, the authors argue that time-honoured conventional breeding is sufficient. In other words, GM is not needed.

      Turning to the Green Revolution, the authors say it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts. Some have argued that a more ‘systems-based’ approach to agriculture would mark a move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking and would properly address concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution.

      In fact, Kesaven and Swaminathan note that a sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’ based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’ would guarantee equitable food security by ensuring access of rural communities to food.

      There is a severe agrarian crisis in India and the publication of their paper (25 November) was very timely. It came just three days before tens of thousands of farmers from all over India gathered in Delhi to march to parliament to present their grievances and demands for justice to the Indian government.

    • Study Finds Arthritis Drug Enbrel Overpatented, Overpriced in US

      Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK) released a new study yesterday showing that the rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel has been overpatented by drugmaker Amgen, which has filed a total of 57 patents on the drug in the United States. Together, these patents were said to delay market competition by 39 years, rather than the standard 20 years for one patent. The study found that this market exclusivity for Enbrel resulted in US$ 8 billion dollars in sales in 2017 alone.

    • The Biggest Moments Of 2018 In The Fight For Universal Health Care

      Even in the face of a fiercely conservative administration, universal health care took center stage in 2018 with the potential to dramatically improve the lives of more Americans than any other social program in our nation’s history. A publicly financed but privately delivered single-payer program, more popularly known as Medicare for All, remains the best option for ensuring that every American has access to quality health care.

      Twenty-eight million Americans will remain uninsured, without access to primary care that could prevent costly and life-threatening diseases, as long as the United States does not have a single-payer health care system.

      People fortunate enough to have insurance will continue to face prohibitively expensive co-pays, premiums, and deductibles that limit access to care. Medical expenses will also remain a leading cause of bankruptcy.

      While their stories indicate a health system that remains in the service of profits over patients, there were moments during 2018 that offer hope in the fight for universal health care.

      According to a Reuters–Ipsos poll, an overwhelming majority of Americans—70 percent—now favor a single-payer health system.

  • Security

    • Quora Hacked: Data Of 100 Million Users Stolen

      n an official blog post, Quora announced that on Friday it found that user data of about 100 million users was compromised. Some unauthorised third-party gained access to the company’s systems.

    • Quora Security Update

      We recently discovered that some user data was compromised as a result of unauthorized access to one of our systems by a malicious third party. We are working rapidly to investigate the situation further and take the appropriate steps to prevent such incidents in the future.

      We also want to be as transparent as possible without compromising our security systems or the steps we’re taking, and in this post we’ll share what happened, what information was involved, what we’re doing, and what you can do.

      We’re very sorry for any concern or inconvenience this may cause.

    • What OpenShift Online customers should know about the recent Kubernetes bugs

      On December 3rd, 2018, the Kubernetes Product Security team released information about a vulnerability in kubernetes. This issue is assigned CVE-2018-1002105 and given a security impact of Critical by Red Hat Product Security. Red Hat OpenShift is built upon kubernetes and as such these bugs were also present in Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Red Hat OpenShift Online and Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated.

    • The Kubernetes privilege escalation flaw: Innovation still needs IT security expertise

      IT security matters at every level of the enterprise technology stack, from the foundation of the infrastructure up through to the mission-critical applications and services exposed to end users. This need persists regardless of whether a technology is commoditized or at the leading edge – in short, IT security always matters.

      For open source software that is often pushing innovations used by modern organizations, such as Linux, hybrid cloud, container, and Kubernetes technologies, this balance between innovation and security and stability is a significant part of the value a Red Hat subscription can offer. Security flaws can occur in any piece of software (or beyond software, as 2018 has taught us well). When they do, Red Hat is committed to delivering as quickly as it can both patches to customers and fixes to upstream open source projects.

    • Understanding the critical Kubernetes privilege escalation flaw in OpenShift 3
    • Kubernetes Alert: Security Flaw Could Enable Remote Hacking
    • On demand webcast: DevOps and security – you don’t have to play open source whack-a mole
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • [Intruders] breach Quora.com and steal password data for 100 million users

      Compromised information includes cryptographically protected passwords, full names, email addresses, data imported from linked networks, and a variety of non-public content and actions, including direct messages, answer requests and downvotes. The breached data also included public content and actions, such as questions, answers, comments, and upvotes. In a post published late Monday afternoon, Quora officials said they discovered the unauthorized access on Friday. They have since hired a digital forensics and security firm to investigate and have also reported the breach to law enforcement officials.

    • Quora says [intruders] stole [sic] up to 100 million users’ data

      Quora said it discovered last week that [intruders] broke into its systems and were able to make off with data on up to 100 million users. That data could have included a user’s name, email address, and an encrypted version of their password. If a user imported data from another social network, like their contacts or demographic information, that could have been taken too.

    • Canonical publishes auto-apply vulnerability patch for Kubernetes
    • Critical Kubernetes privilege escalation disclosed

      A critical flaw in the Kubernetes container orchestration system has been announced. It will allow any user to compromise a Kubernetes cluster by way of exploiting any aggregated API server that is deployed for it. This affects all Kubernetes versions 1.0 to 1.12, but is only fixed in the supported versions (in 1.10.11, 1.11.5, and 1.12.3)

    • Kubernetes vulnerability impacting Red Hat OpenShift
    • Kubernetes security vulnerability may delay version upgrades
    • First major Kubernetes security flaw allows hackers to infiltrate backend servers
    • Critical Kubernetes flaw allows any user to access administrative controls
    • Researchers Find Major Kubernetes Flaw
    • ​Kubernetes’ first major security hole discovered

      Kubernetes has become the most popular cloud container orchestration system by far, so it was only a matter of time until its first major security hole was discovered. And the bug, CVE-2018-1002105, aka the Kubernetes privilege escalation flaw, is a doozy. It’s a CVSS 9.8 critical security hole.

      With a specially crafted network request, any user can establish a connection through the Kubernetes application programming interface (API) server to a backend server. Once established, an attacker can send arbitrary requests over the network connection directly to that backend. Adding insult to injury, these requests are authenticated with the Kubernetes API server’s Transport Layer Security (TLS) credentials.

    • Bypass of Disabled System Functions

      The disable_functions directive in the php.ini configuration file allows you to disable certain PHP functions. One of the suggested hardening practices is to disable functions such as system, exec, shell_exec, passthru, by using the disable_functions directive to prevent an attacker from executing system commands. However, a user named Twoster in the Russian Antichat forum announced a new bypass method to this security mechanism. In this blog post, we discuss the technical details of the bypass.

    • How to Use a Bitcoin Paper Wallet to Keep Your Crypto Safe

      As a crypto investor, it’s paramount that you understand the different ways to keep your Bitcoin safe. While most of the media attention focuses on hardware and software wallet solutions, there is another effective way to store your Satoshis: a Bitcoin paper wallet.

      This form of crypto storage is used by some of the biggest Bitcoin investors in the world. The Winklevoss Twins, the world’s first Bitcoin billionaires, reportedly keep their crypto in cold storage on paper wallets. The paper wallets are cut into pieces and stored in different bank safety deposit boxes throughout the country.


      Restart your computer and boot your PC from your flash drive using the Ubuntu operating system. To do this, you will need to press F1 or F12 during your PC’s startup. A pop-up screen will emerge showing you your boot options. Choose the option that represents your flash drive. Allow Ubuntu to load on your PC.

    • Event-Stream Backdoor Doesn’t Mean Open-Source Community Failing at Security [Ed: Free software catches such issues fast; proprietary software doesn't (or does so late, then covers it all up).]

      News last week that event-stream, the popular open-source code library managed by NPM, had been compromised by a hacker (or hackers) looking to steal Bitcoin led some to question the underlying security of the open-source components that they are using in their software.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Congressional Noose may Tighten around Saudi Crown Prince as Haspel Testifies
    • Private WhatsApp messages show Jamal Khashoggi feared Saudi crown prince’s hunger for power

      Mr Abdelaziz told CNN he believes his phone was [cracked] by Saudi authorities a few months before Mr Khashoggi was brutally killed inside the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul on October 2.

    • Jamal Khashoggi’s private WhatsApp messages may offer new clues to killing

      In more than 400 WhatsApp messages sent to a fellow Saudi exile in the year before he was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Khashoggi describes bin Salman — often referred to as MBS — as a “beast,” a “pac-man” who would devour all in his path, even his supporters.

      CNN has been granted exclusive access to the correspondence between Khashoggi and Montreal-based activist Omar Abdulaziz. The messages shared by Abdulaziz, which include voice recordings, photos and videos, paint a picture of a man deeply troubled by what he regarded as the petulance of his kingdom’s powerful young prince.

    • Seeing Yemen from Jeju Island

      Several days ago, I joined an unusual skype call originated by young South Korean founders of “The Hope School.” Located on Jeju Island, the school aims to build a supportive community between island residents and newly arrived Yemenis who seek asylum in South Korea.

      Jeju, a visa-free port, has been an entry point for close to 500 Yemenis who have traveled nearly 5000 miles in search of safety. Traumatized by consistent bombing, threats of imprisonment and torture, and the horrors of starvation, recent migrants to South Korea, including children, yearn for refuge.

      Like many thousands of others who’ve fled Yemen, they miss their families, their neighborhoods, and the future they once might have imagined. But returning to Yemen now would be awfully dangerous for them.

    • The Long, Brutal US War on Children in the Middle East

      On November 28, sixty-three US Senators voted in favor of holding a floor debate on a resolution calling for an end to direct US Armed Forces involvement in the Saudi-UAE coalition-led war on Yemen. Describing the vote as a rebuke to Saudi Arabia and the Trump Administration, AP reported on Senate dissatisfaction over the administration’s response to Saudi Arabia’s brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi last month. Just before the Senate vote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called current objections to US relations with Saudi Arabia “Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on.”

      The “caterwaul” on Capitol Hill reflects years of determined effort by grassroots groups to end US involvement in war on Yemen, fed by mounting international outrage at the last three years of war that have caused the deaths of an estimated 85,000 Yemeni children under age 5.

      When children waste away to literally nothing while 14 million people endure conflict-driven famine, a hue and cry — yes, a caterwaul — most certainly should be raised, worldwide.

      How might we understand what it would mean in the United States for 14 million people in our country to starve? You would have to combine the populations of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and imagine these cities empty of all but the painfully and slowly dying, to get a glimpse into the suffering in Yemen, where one of every two persons faces starvation.

    • How Poppy Bush’s Brother, “Uncle Bucky,” Made a Killing Off the Iraq Wars

      Back in 1991, shortly after the depleted uranium-flaked dust had settled some from the first Gulf War, there was a minor tempest in the press over influence peddling by members of the Presiden George H. W. Bush’s family, including his son Neil and his brother Prescott, Jr. Both Neil and Prescott, neither of whom had proven to be exceptionally talented businessmen, had made millions by flagrantly trading on their relationship to the president.

      Seeking to distinguish himself from his more predatory relatives, William Henry Trotter Bush, the younger brother of Bush Sr. and an investment banker in St. Louis, gave an interview to disclaim any profiteering on his own part. Indeed, he sounded downright grumpy, as if his older brother hadn’t done enough to steer juicy government deals his way. “Being the brother of George Bush isn’t a financial windfall by any stretch of the imagination,” huffed William H.T. Bush.

      Well, perhaps being the brother of the president didn’t generate as much business as he hoped, but having the good fortune to be the uncle of the president certainly appears to have padded the pockets of the man endearingly known to George W. Bush as “Uncle Bucky.”

    • George H.W. Bush Empowered Atrocity Abroad and Fascists at Home

      The television spent the entire weekend reminding me that George Herbert Walker Bush loved his country, his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, his dog, the city of Houston, the town of Kennebunkport, baseball, football, golf and so very much else besides.

      Our 41st US president, the talking heads assured me, was a veritable ocean of love. The newspaper folks did their part to paint this picture, as well; stealing a leaf from Jesus of Nazareth over the weekend, Bush Sr. died and rose again on the warm updraft of early 1990s B-roll footage and gushing headlines from all corners of the country.

      This legion of whitewashers was at pains to commend Bush Sr.’s decency, fairness and honor before, during and after the commercial breaks. In the age of Trump, the power-loving media clearly relished the opportunity to say good things about a president again. It was a fused loop: Bush Sr. is dead; he was nice; lather, rinse, repeat.

      The hagiography festival made a particularly grand to-do about the fact that George H.W. Bush was president when the Cold War ended. What the glowing obituaries obscured, however, was that Bush Sr. was a Cold Warrior of the first order, actively involved in a number of genuine atrocities that spanned the globe.

      Most of Bush Sr.’s biography has been well documented for good and ill, but his time at the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is seldom discussed in this hemisphere. He spent only a year in that job, but it was one of the bloodiest years South America has ever known. Fifteen years later, he personally, if inadvertently, opened the door for the proto-fascist takeover of his own party. Those two tales, combined with some other dark chapters of Bush Sr.’s life, frame a career in power and politics that did damage most everywhere it went.

    • Man charged with felony for pulling gun on Somali teens at Eden Prairie McDonald’s

      Prosecutors on Monday charged a man with a felony for allegedly pulling a gun on a group of young Somalis inside a McDonald’s last month in Eden Prairie.

      The Hennepin County attorney’s charged Lloyd Edward Johnson, 55, of Eden Prairie with felony terroristic threats and carrying a pistol without a permit, a gross misdemeanor.

    • Republicans After Briefing With CIA Chief: Yeah, Saudi Crown Prince Definitely Had Jamal Khashoggi Killed

      Reasonable observers and analysts concluded weeks ago that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the gruesome killing of Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.

      Though it took them far longer than most, a small group of Republicans finally fell in line with this widespread consensus after a secretive briefing by CIA chief Gina Haspel on Tuesday, admitting that all the available evidence suggests MBS orchestrated the murder that has sparked international outrage and brought America’s longstanding military relationship with the brutal kingdom under sharp scrutiny.

      “There’s not a smoking gun, there’s a smoking saw,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters after the behind-closed-doors briefing. “I think he’s complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi to the highest level possible.”

      Graham went on to say he will not support U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia until all who are responsible for Khashoggi’s murder are “brought to justice.”

      As Common Dreams reported, the Senate last week advanced Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) resolution to end U.S. military support for the Saudi kingdom’s assault on Yemen. Graham voted in favor of the resolution.

    • The Dirty Secrets of George Bush

      The Vice President’s illegal operations

    • ‘Take Out Their Families’: Trump Fulfills Criminal Campaign Promise as Hundreds Die in Latest US-Led Syria Strikes

      While campaigning for president in late 2015, Donald Trump promised a bloody escalation of the US-led war against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, vowing to “bomb the shit out of” IS militants and “take out their families.” Targeting terrorists’ wives, children and other relatives is a war crime under international law, but Trump doubled down on his promise and since taking office has presided over a dramatic increase in civilian deaths in six of the seven countries subjected to America’s open-ended war against terrorism. This increase has been most acute in Iraq and, most recently, in Syria, where hundreds of innocent civilians have died in US-led air strikes in recent months.

      Although US and coalition forces are not deliberately targeting civilians, many — if not most — of those killed in the latest strikes have been women and children. According to local and international media and human rights monitor groups, at least 271 and possibly more than twice as many civilians have been killed in nearly 900 US-confirmed air strikes in Deir Ezzor province in October and November. The vast majority of these raids have been carried out by American warplanes; British, French, Dutch and other coalition members have also participated.

      The UK-based monitor group Airwars and local and international media outlets report many victims of these recent bombings have been wives, children and other relatives of IS fighters. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported 32 IS family members, including 12 women and 13 children, died in a November 11 strike on Al Shaafa, while an attack on Al Kashma that same day killed at least 35 civilians, mostly women and children, according to Step News Agency and other outlets. Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) and local media reported that a November 15 attack on Al Boubardan killed 18 members of a single family, including 14 children and three women.

    • Hard Truths and the ‘Indispensable Nation’

      It was about a year ago that United Nation’s special rapporteur, Philip Alston, issued a report on the dire state of the American republic. It revealed that upwards of 40 million Americans live in poverty.

    • How Middle East Dictators Bring Their Western Allies Down

      Middle East dictators, we like to believe, live in heaven. They have palaces, servants, vast and wealthy families, millions of obedient people and loyal armies who constantly express their love for their leader, not to mention huge secret police forces to ensure they don’t forget this, and masses of weapons to defend themselves, supplied, usually, by us.

      These tyrants – autocrats or “strongmen” if they happen to be our allies – exist, we suppose, in a kind of nirvana. Their lawns, like their people, are well-manicured, their roses clipped, their rivers unsullied, their patriotism unchallenged. They wish to be eternal.

      But this is our Hollywood version of the Middle East. Having not suffered our own dictators for a generation, we suffer from mirages the moment we step into the sand. Real dictators in the Middle East don’t behave or think like this. It is power and the risks of power and the love of ownership that obsesses them. The possession of untold wealth or an entire nation, and their own form of patriotism – and the challenges they have to face to sustain this way of life: that is the attraction.

    • Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: U.S. Owes Reparations to Panama over Bush’s Invasion

      Last month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on Washington to pay reparations to Panama over George H.W. Bush’s illegal invasion there in 1989. We speak with international human rights attorney José Luis Morín, who has been working since 1990 to secure reparations for Panama. He is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and chairperson of the Latin American and Latina/o Studies Department.

    • I Will Not Speak Kindly of the Dead. Bush Was Detestable.

      We’re supposed to speak kindly of the dead. And we’re supposed to bury our dead presidents with the type of fanfare and reverence that the colonial forebearers of this nation’s white settlers reserved for royalty. Today, as we prepare to bury the nation’s 41st president, George H.W. Bush, the American press corps is carrying on this tradition, eulogizing him primarily by celebrating his polite demeanor and his successful self-representation of civility. Yes, the 41st president presented as a nicer person than the 45th, or his son, the 43rd. But for the people whose countries or lives were destroyed by his violent actions, he’ll always be a monster. Sanitizing his story amounts to historical revisionism. Below are just eight of the many reasons why, beneath the civility, George H.W. Bush was a detestable president.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Manafort tried to make deal with Ecuador to hand over Julian Assange: report

      Paul Manafort attempted to broker a deal in 2017 for Ecuador to hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to U.S. authorities in exchange for debt relief from the U.S. government, the New York Times reported Monday night. Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, met at least twice with Ecuador’s incoming president, Lenín Moreno, in May 2017, the Times reported. Manafort had reportedly traveled to Ecuador in hopes of brokering a deal for China to invest in the South American country’s power system, angling for a large commission. While there, sources told the Times that Manafort suggested he could help negotiate a deal for Assange, who Ecuador reportedly wanted out of their London embassy. The talks fell apart soon after, once Robert Mueller was named special counsel and it was apparent that Manafort was one of his targets. The Times said there was no indication that Trump or other administration officials were briefed by Manafort on the negotiations, but noted the incident highlighted Manafort’s role as an international influence broker hoping to cash in on his ties with Trump. Last week, The Guardian reported Manafort met with Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2013, 2015 and 2016, though the Times said there is no evidence that Manafort’s talks with Ecuador were motivated by WikiLeaks’ role in Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Justice Department is reportedly confident it will soon be able to prosecute Assange, who has been secretly indicted, according to a report last month. Manafort, who was convicted of financial crimes in August, reportedly violated his plea deal by lying to the Mueller investigation, and faces significant prison time.

    • Manafort Tried to Strike Deal With Ecuador on China, Julian Assange: NYT
    • Manafort tried to broker deal over Assange’s handover to US

      Manafort “listened but made no promises as this was ancillary to the purpose of the meeting”, said Maloni.

      Manafort will tentatively face sentencing on March 5, a federal judge ruled last week.

      The ruling came days after Mueller accused Manafort of repeatedly lying to federal investigators, breaching his plea deal he signed in September.

      He is currently in jail in Alexandria, Virginia.

    • Manafort Tried to Negotiate Handover of Assange to US in 2017 – Reports

      During his visit to Quito, Manafort and Lenin Moreno, who is now the Ecuadorian president, discussed a deal in which the former could arrange certain financial concessions to Ecuador in exchange for the handover of Assange to the United States, the newspaper reported on Monday.

      The news outlet alleged that the potential deal was off after Rober Mueller was appointed special counsel to probe Russia’s suspected meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, with Manafort being subject to investigation.

    • Former ‘Guardian’ Editor On Snowden, WikiLeaks And Remaking Journalism

      In Breaking News, Alan Rusbridger reflects on the blockbuster stories he helped publish over the course of his 20-year tenure running the British newspaper…

    • Lawyers seeking access to sealed Julian Assange case argue DOJ lacks justification for secrecy

      Attorneys seeking details about the U.S. government’s investigation into WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange argued Monday that the Department of Justice lacks justification for continuing to keep its case completely sealed.

      Lawyers for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit organization representing journalists’ interests, raised the claim throughout a 12-page memorandum filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, where the group initiated legal proceedings last month seeking access to sealed documents related to the Justice Department’s pending prosecution of the Australian-born WikiLeaks boss.

      “The Reporters Committee does not dispute that, in some cases, prior to an arrest the Government may have a compelling interest that justifies temporary sealing of court records subject to the First Amendment right of access,” attorney Caitlin Vogus wrote in the memo. “But such interests are not present prior to an arrest in all cases, and the Government cannot justify wholesale sealing of the Assange Prosecution, specifically, based on nothing more than the fact that Assange is not in U.S. custody.”

    • The Guardian offered a bombshell story about Paul Manafort. It still hasn’t detonated.

      After a week of questions about its reporting of Manafort-Assange meetings, the newspaper stands by its disputed story.

    • Paul Manafort ‘offered to help Ecuador negotiate handover of Julian Assange to the U.S.’

      Paul Manafort met in May 2017 with the President of Ecuador and offered to arrange Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States in exchange for Ecuador receiving debt relief, it has been reported.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Companies blocked from using West Coast ports to export fossil fuels keep seeking workarounds

      A year after Washington state denied key permits for a coal-export terminal in the port city of Longview, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would proceed with its review – essentially ignoring the state’s decision.

      This dispute pits federal authorities against local and state governments. It’s also part of a larger and long-running battle over fossil fuel shipments to foreign countries that stretches up the entire American West Coast.

      We are sociologists who have studied how people respond to news about plans for big energy facilities in their communities. With President Donald Trump pushing hard for more fossil fuel production and exports, we believe it could get significantly harder for local communities to have a say in these important decisions.

    • An Ecosocialist Path to Limiting Global Temperature Rise to 1.5°C

      The much-awaited report from the U.N.’s top climate science panel describes the enormous gap between where we are and where we need to be to prevent dangerous levels of global warming. The 2015 Paris climate accord committed industrial nations to reduce their emissions sufficiently to keep global temperatures within a 2°C rise over pre-industrial levels. In the final accord, highly vulnerable island nations and faith communities represented at the UN pressed the authors to include the 1.5°C limit as an aspirational target in the final draft of the accord with 2°C as the backup target.

      Soaring GHG emissions over the past five years, rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, ice-cap retreats, intensified storms, summer forest fires reaching even above the Arctic circle, and die-offs of the world’s coral reefs have all raised concerns about what even a little bit more warming would bring. Parts of the planet including the Arctic and many inland areas, have already warmed beyond 1.5°C. California is on fire most of the year. The worst hurricanes are twice as severe (more precipitation, slower passage, greater wind speeds) as they used to be. This is just a short start. Climate breakdown occurring much more quickly than expected is one reason why climate scientists now think that the goal just five years ago of limiting warming to 2°C “increasingly seems disastrous in this context.”[2] The Paris pledges were never sufficient even to keep warming below 3°C let alone 2°C. Few of the signatories have even managed to meet the low bars they set for themselves and he world’s largest countries including China, the U.S., and Canada have us on track to a 4-5°C warming. As CO2 concentrations continue growing, preventing runaway warming is going to require ever deeper, truly draconian cuts in emissions, which will mean greater economic disruption. IPCC estimates already show us needing to achieve a near vertical drop in emissions in the early 2020s. Every day we delay getting off of fossil fuels increases the probability that we won’t be able to save ourselves.

    • ‘We Have Not Come Here to Beg World Leaders to Care,’ 15-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Tells COP24. ‘We Have Come to Let Them Know Change Is Coming’

      Striking her mark at the COP24 climate talks taking place this week and next in Poland, fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden issued a stern rebuke on behalf of the world’s youth climate movement to the adult diplomats, executives, and elected leaders gathered by telling them she was not there asking for help or demanding they comply with demands but to let them know that new political realities and a renewable energy transformation are coming whether they like it or not.

    • Paris Agreement Fight Could Push US Out Permanently, Warn Top Obama Officials

      A deal in Poland that draws a hard line between developed and developing countries may be unacceptable to future administrations — Democratic or Republican.

      UN climate talks this fortnight could determine whether a post-Trump U.S. president would rejoin the Paris Agreement, according to two former top Obama officials.

      At discussions in Katowice, Poland, almost 200 countries will try to agree the Paris Agreement “rulebook.” That should lay out how countries will enact the accord, for example how they report their efforts to fight climate change. But as talks began on Sunday, thousands of points of disagreement remained.
      Todd Stern and Sue Biniaz, the lead climate envoy and lawyer in Barack Obama’s state department and key scribes and agents of the 2015 Paris deal, spoke to Climate Home News.

      Biniaz said: “Some countries, and I’m not exactly sure exactly who’s in this camp, are, I would say ignoring the language of the Paris Agreement and basically saying there should be two different sets of guidelines: one for developed countries and one for developing countries. I would say that that’s just completely inconsistent with what was agreed in Paris.”

  • Finance

    • Student Debtors Are the Working Poor and Must Organize as Such

      “Debt is to capitalism, that which hell is to Christianity,” economist Yanis Varoufakis recently said. “Debt might be unpleasant, but absolutely essential for capitalism.” If so, then in our capitalist society, the hell of student debts makes borrowers the sacrificial lamb that appeases the deities of capital.

      Forty-four million people owe over $1.5 trillion in student debt that is primarily held by the US Department of Education. Tens of millions are struggling to pay back a government that acts increasingly like a predatory vulture fund feeding off the misery of debtors’ perpetual poverty. Debts spiral out of control quickly when one is disadvantaged or can’t find a good-paying job, or when the creditors themselves employ the classic, corrupt tactics of parasitic pawnbrokers. The path to student loan distress is not that difficult: Not only have wages stagnated, but already intolerable wealth inequality grew during the global financial crisis to critical proportions. The Brookings Institute, after measuring representative samples of borrowers in loan distress, estimates that 40 percent of debtors who entered school in 2004 may default by 2023. Research by The Washington Center for Equitable Growth shows that “student loans are a burden for all earners,” including higher income earners. The Center’s national map of student debt shows significant delinquency rates among borrowers, especially in areas plagued by racial inequality and lower median incomes.

    • Across the Troubles in Northern Ireland: the Borders Are In Men’s Minds

      This is the last in a series of five articles about Northern Ireland on the eve of Brexit, which threatens to put a “hard border” between the six counties of the North and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the European Union. This is part V.

    • ‘The G-20 Is Death,’ and Other Lessons in Global Capitalism

      You will hear a demonstration in Buenos Aires before you see it, its bass drum throbbing deep and regular like a heartbeat.

      On Friday, amidst the 13th annual G-20 summit, the echo reverberated several blocks—a testament not to the size of the crowd, which probably numbered in the low thousands, but the emptiness of the city in which it traveled. The subway system had been shut down for the day, entire blocks of the microcentro had been barricaded with reinforced steel and officers from the Argentine Federal Police sporting shotguns and bulletproof vests seemed to outnumber the pedestrians. Calle Florida, typically overflowing with shoppers, street artists and arbolitos offering to purchase dollars for pesos, had been all but abandoned.

      Closer to Avenida 9 de Julio, a wide avenue that bifurcates the city and features its most recognizable monument, El Obelisco de Buenos Aires, members of the Prefectura Naval Argentina strapped on their gear and prepared their automatic weapons, while the occasional helicopter whirred overhead. In front of a human wall of riot police, an officer casually explained to a small coterie of photographers and foreign tourists where they could cross.

    • Why Do Our Schools Seem Broke?

      Early this year, teachers in “red” states such as West Virginia and Oklahoma walked off the job to protest declining pay and insufficient classroom resources. Shoppers at office supply stores often run into teachers with carts full of classroom supplies that their school districts say they can’t afford. Last winter, Baltimore City had to close many of its schools for lack of heat, and again near the end of the year, for lack of air conditioning.

      In September, a TIME magazine cover captured the nation attention; one said: “ I have a master’s degree, 16 years of experience, work two extra jobs and donate blood plasma to pay the bills. I’m a teacher in America.”

      When confronted with these issues, state and local leaders commonly throw up their hands and proclaim: “There’s no money!”

      In a just-published report that I co-authored, Good Jobs First examines the annual financial reports of nearly half of the nation’s 13,500 school districts. We found that subsidies handed out to corporations cost school districts more than $1.8 billion last year.

    • ‘We Are All Here Together’: Demanding Charter Network Use Vast Resources for Better Pay, First of Its Kind Teacher Strike in Chicago

      Days after learning that their charter school network’s refusal to give cost-of-living raises comes amid a cash windfall for the organization, about 550 teachers and staff members from Chicago’s Acero Charter Schools went on strike Tuesday, forming picket lines and demanding fair wages and resources in the country’s first charter school walkout.

      Classes were canceled for the network’s 15 schools after contract negotiations, led by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), stalled just after midnight. Acero’s teachers are demanding cost-of-living wages for paraprofessionals, reduced class sizes, and more special education teachers to support the network’s 7,500 students.

      Teachers and supporters held signs reading “I’d rather be teaching but this is important” and “On strike for a fair contract” in both English and Spanish, in picket lines outside their schools.

    • ‘We Are In a State of Insurrection’: Deep Inequality and Macron’s Dedication to Elites Fuel Yellow Vest Uprising in France

      After more than two weeks of protests over high fuel prices and intensifying inequality across France under centrist President Emmanuel Macron, the French government announced Tuesday that it would suspend planned price hikes for gas and electricity—but the demands of the so-called “Yellow Vest” protesters have become more broad, and more broadly embraced, as the demonstrations have swelled in size and energy.

      The price increases for the utilities will be suspended for six months, said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, but leaders of the demonstrations in which hundreds of thousands have donned yellow safety vests were dismissive of the gesture.

      “It’s a first step, but we will not settle for a crumb,” Benjamin Chaucy, one of the leaders of the protest, told Al Jazeera. “The French don’t want crumbs, they want a baguette.”

    • France is reportedly freezing a divisive fuel tax after days of violent protest from Yellow Vest movement that killed 3

      French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will reportedly freeze a controversial tax hike on Tuesday which sparked deadly riots across Paris, and protests nationwide.

      Philippe will enforce a “moratorium” for several months, French media outlet Le Monde reported, potentially bringing a temporary calm to violence caused by the Yellow Vest movement across the country’s capital.

      He met legislators at the National Assembly on Monday in Paris to outline his proposal, with the report saying he will announce the tax freeze publicly at midday local time.

      The concession gives way to the movement, known in French as “Des Gilets Jaunes,” who orchestrated their third consecutive protest in Paris on Saturday.

    • The Tragic Migration of Africans to Europe Started Thirty Years Ago, Just When Neoliberalism Started to Bite

      In Africa, the neoliberal turn didn’t just mean a change of policy. It meant a change of life -if not the end of life. Whatever independence Africa won in the 20th century was brutally sabotaged by neoliberalism. If the implementation of the neoliberal agenda in Europe and America was bad, the execution of it in Africa was a monstrous crime against humanity. Extremely vulnerable African states – only years old – were thrown into the sea of global capital, without a life belt.

      The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) were the architects of this crime. Taking advantage of the unsustainable debt Africa accumulated in the 1970s (the infamous third world debt trap – high oil prices and low interest rates), these Washington D.C. organizations pounced on the disadvantaged continent in the 1980s. Whether by design or accident, it was the worst possible time for weak nations to seek help from global capitalism. The neoliberal belief in free markets had just won over the Anglo-American world. The counterrevolution was just beginning.

    • Greens welcome ECJ advisor opinion that UK can stop Article 50 without EU approval

      The Green Party of England and Wales and the Scottish Greens have welcomed the opinion of the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona, which indicates that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50.

      The opinion comes as Westminster debates the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, and is expected to be confirmed by the full ECJ in January, following legal action brought to the ECJ by a group of Scottish politicians including Ross Greer MSP.

      Ross Greer, Green Member of Scottish Parliament and one of the pursuers of the action to the ECJ, said:

    • Trump Takes on General Motors (And Guess Who Wins?)

      Donald Trump’s “America first” economic nationalism is finally crashing into the reality of America’s shareholder-first global capitalism.


      Trump is (or is trying to appear) furious, tweeting up a storm of threats against GM, including taking away its federal subsidies.

      In reality, GM gets very few direct subsidies. Prior to the tax cut, the biggest gift GM got from the government was a bailout in 2009 of more than $50 billion.

      But neither last year’s tax cut nor the 2009 bailout required GM to create or preserve jobs in America. Both government handouts simply assumed that, as former GM CEO Charles Erwin “Engine” Wilson put it when he was nominated as secretary of defense by Dwight Eisenhower in 1953, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”

      Yet much has changed since 1953. Then, GM was the largest employer in America and had only a few operations around the rest of the world. Now, GM is a global corporation that makes and sells just about everywhere.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • What It Means That Hillary Clinton Might Run for President in 2020

      Twenty-five years ago—when I wrote a book titled “False Hope: The Politics of Illusion in the Clinton Era”—I didn’t expect that the Democratic Party would still be mired in Clintonism two and a half decades later. But such approaches to politics continue to haunt the party and the country.

      The last two Democratic presidencies largely involved talking progressive while serving Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. The obvious differences in personalities and behavior of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama diverted attention from their underlying political similarities. In office, both men rarely fought for progressive principles—and routinely undermined them.

      Clinton, for example, brought the country NAFTA, welfare “reform” that was an assault on low-income women and families, telecommunications “reform” that turned far more airwaves over to media conglomerates, repeal of Glass-Steagall regulation of banks that led to the 2007-8 financial meltdown, and huge increases in mass incarceration.

      “What scares me the most is Hillary’s smug certainty of her own virtue as she has become greedy and how typical that is of so many chic liberals who seem unaware of their own greed. They don’t really face the complicity of what’s happened to the world, how selfish we’ve become and the horrible damage of screwing the workers and causing this resentment that the Republicans found a way of tapping into.”
      —Charles Peters, Washington Monthly

    • Trump Jr. Invested in a Hydroponic Lettuce Company Whose Chair Was Seeking Trump Administration Funds — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast Extra

      Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, took a stake last year in a startup whose co-chairman is a major Trump campaign fundraiser who has sought financial support from the federal government for his other business interests, according to records obtained by ProPublica.

      The fundraiser, Texas money manager Gentry Beach, and Trump Jr. attended college together, are godfather to one of each other’s sons and have collaborated on investments — and on the Trump presidential campaign. Since Trump’s election, Beach has attempted to obtain federal assistance for projects in Asia, the Caribbean and South America, and he has met or corresponded with top officials in the National Security Council, Interior Department and Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

      Beach and others at the startup, Eden Green Technology, have touted their connections to the first family to impress partners, suppliers and others, according to five current and former business associates. Richard Venn, an early backer of Eden Green, recalls the company’s founder mentioning “interest from the Trump family.” Another associate said Beach bragged about his ties to the Trumps in a business meeting.

      The investment is one of just a handful of known business ventures pursued by Trump Jr. since his father moved into the White House almost two years ago. In addition to being a top campaign surrogate and public booster, Trump Jr. serves as an executive vice president of his father’s company and one of just two trustees of the trust holding the president’s assets.

    • Imperialist in Chief: A Critical History of George H. W. Bush’s War on Iraq

      The U.S. media haven’t been shy about lionizing the late President George H. W. Bush in their reflections on his life and legacy. This behavior is hardly surprising; we saw the same worship of the late Republican Senator John McCain via the erasure of any discussion of U.S. war crimes and genocidal violence in Vietnam, in favor of the predictable “war hero” narrative.

      On CNN, Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars celebrates the “sheer humility” and “decency” of the elder President Bush, while the Washington Post emphasizes his “steady hand” at the Cold War’s end, at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse. The New York Timesfawns over Bush as a “restrained and seasoned leader,” while celebrating the 1991 U.S. assault on Iraq. “If Mr. Bush’s term helped close out one era abroad [the Cold War], it opened another. In January 1991, he assembled a global coalition to eject Iraqi invaders from Kuwait, sending hundreds of thousands of troops in a triumphant military campaign that to many helped purge the ghosts of Vietnam.”

    • Gassing Migrants

      The Trump administration and its apologists are quick to point out that Barack Obama was as willing as Donald Trump himself to tear-gas desperate people trying to protect themselves by crossing America’s southern border. So he was, though many will refuse to believe it. Let’s not forget, after all, that Obama, like Trump, was willing to bomb men, women, and children in more than half a dozen Muslim countries. Those drones weren’t and aren’t dropping tear-gas canisters.

      But that raises interesting questions: if every horrible thing that Trump has done so far was also done by Obama, why do Trump and his fans hate the former White House occupant so much? And why do so many Trump opponents love Obama? The Trumpsters ought to praise Obama, who set records for deporting people and prosecuting whistle-blowers under the espionage law.

      Of course, the fact that the then-deferential media establishment downplayed Obama’s brutality and rights violations hardly makes what Trump is doing acceptable. So yeah, Trump is not the first monster to occupy the White House, not by a long shot. That doesn’t mean he’s any less the monster; he could be more so by some amount. I suppose Trump could say that at least he’s gassing intact families instead of separating parents from their kids before doing the disgusting deed.

    • Wisconsin’s GOP Scheme to Keep Scott Walker as Zombie Governor

      Imagine if a governor lost in November but then got his cronies in the legislature to pursue a bill he could sign in his final days in office stripping away his successor’s powers and essentially keeping him in charge.

      That’s basically what’s happening in Wisconsin.

      The current Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature introduced a slew of legislation on Friday in a rare lame-duck session aimed at curbing the powers of incoming Democratic governor Tony Evers as well as the newly elected attorney general, Josh Kaul. Many of these proposals would shift decision-making from gubernatorial control to Wisconsin’s legislature, now firmly in Republican hands.

      For example, currently the governor appoints six of the eleven members of the Group Insurance Board, which oversees state health benefits. One of the proposed power-grabbing laws would add four members to the board, all selected by the legislature, and require all six of the governor’s appointees to be subject to Senate confirmation.

      Another board, Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), is the focus of an even more egregious theft of the new governor’s powers. Currently, the governor appoints half of the board and the legislature appoints the other half. But under the proposed scheme, the legislature will appoint ten members and the governor eight, giving the legislature effective control of this scandal-wracked body, which Evers has pledged to dissolve. In addition, instead of the governor appointing the head of WEDC, under the new configuration, this task would fall to a the legislature-controlled board.

      And the attorney general? Now that the office is about to be led by a Democrat, the Republicans don’t want him to do much, either. The legislature seeks to prevent Kaul him from following through on an issue he campaigned on and pull out of a lawsuit led by Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans want new authority to hire lawyers and decide what legal causes to join, at taxpayer expense.

    • ‘This Is a Coup’: Protests Engulf Wisconsin Capitol as Outgoing Scott Walker and GOP Move to Cripple Democratic Power

      “This isn’t a bill. This is a coup,” Randy Bryce—aka the “Iron Stache”—said before Wisconsin’s Joint Committee on Finance, which deliberated and ultimately voted along party lines to advance the Republican plan, which seeks to transfer many of Evers’ crucial executive powers to the GOP-dominated legislature. A final vote on the plan is expected as early as Tuesday.

      Apparently lacking the courage to speak on behalf of their legislation—or fearing the immense grassroots backlash—the bill’s Republican sponsors didn’t bother to show up to the lame-duck hearing.

      Unlike some of their representatives, thousands of Wisconsinites braved the freezing weather and turned out in force, crowding the inside of the capitol building with chants of “Respect our vote!” and rallying outside to denounce the Republicans’ last-ditch power grab.

      “They are terrified that democracy is returning to Wisconsin,” The Nation’s John Nichols, a Wisconsin native, declared in a speech from the steps of the capitol building. “They are terrified that 2018 is not the end of anything, but only the beginning.”

    • “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take responsibility”

      Earlier today, the naturalist Sir David Attenborough addressed the UN climate conference in Poland, saying: “Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change.”

      “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon,” he added. The world famous TV presenter continued: “The world’s people have spoken. Their message is clear. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now”.

      And nowhere have those voices been louder in the last few days than from the young from Canada to Australia and Sweden.

      Last Friday, thousands of children missed school as part of the ‘Strike 4 Climate Action‘, which organised marches in every city in Australia. The idea started with two fourteen year olds, Milou Albrect and Harriet O’Shea Carre, from the state of Victoria. Harriet said: “The climate change emergency is something we have been thinking about for a long time.”

    • “AMLO Stands Alone in the Hemisphere”: Mexico’s President Takes Office with Ambitious Leftist Agenda

      Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was sworn in this weekend amid fanfare as tens of thousands gathered in the capital to celebrate the country’s first leftist president in decades. In his inaugural speech, AMLO addressed security and vowed to end corruption and impunity. We speak with Greg Grandin, prize-winning author and professor of Latin American history at New York University. He says, “The crisis on the border that has been prompted by the Trump administration, but also has deep structural roots, will play out with this hope that AMLO represents. The Latin American left has been defeated everywhere else. AMLO is isolated. Brazil, Colombia, Argentina — these are all major countries that are ruled by right-wing governments.”

    • Sheryl Sandberg Needs to Log Off

      Last week, Laura Loomer, a minor right-wing internet celebrity, chained herself to the front door of Twitter’s Manhattan offices. But her handcuffs only attached to one of the double doors, allowing Twitter employees to simply pass through the other. They ducked past her with the look of embarrassed nausea that well-to-do urbanites reserve for the homeless and megaphone preachers of the gospel.

      People began livestreaming. Loomer, who had just been banned from Twitter for some stupidly racist provocations (and, likely also, a history of promoting false-flag conspiracies about mass shootings, among other rhetorical offenses), did have a megaphone, as well as several foam-core posters of–what else–her own tweets, which she’d mounted in the transom window above the door. Some security or maintenance workers appeared with a ladder and took them down. “You banned my Twitter, and now you’re actually trying to steal my tweets in real life!” she called through the megaphone. A bemused worker seemed to consider it for a moment, then leaned the poster against the wall beside her and headed back inside.

      Two hours later, the police freed her with a bolt-cutter. She’d gotten cold, and she’d lost the key.

    • How We Found Donald Trump Jr.’s Secret Investment in a Fundraiser’s Business

      Donald Trump Jr. and Gentry Beach, a Dallas-based investor and college friend of Trump Jr., have done business together before, despite past claims by both men that their relationship is strictly personal.

      But a new story by ProPublica reveals that Trump became a shareholder last year in Beach’s hydroponic lettuce company, while Beach was seeking government support for his other business interests. Emails obtained by ProPublica via the Freedom of Information Act show that since President Donald Trump’s election, Beach sought backing for energy projects in the Dominican Republic and India. Officials say he never officially applied for government financing.

      Here’s how ProPublica uncovered a paper trail revealing Trump Jr.’s investment in the vertical hydroponic lettuce farm now selling packaged greens in Walmarts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

    • Tomgram: Ben Fountain, “Very Close to a Complete Victory”

      The midterms were bearing down on us like a runaway train with Donald Trump in the driver’s seat and the throttle wide open, the Presidential Special hell-bent for the bottom. “Go Trump Go!” tweeted David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, as if the president needed anyone’s encouragement. There had been no slacking after pipe bombs were sent to a number of his critics; nor after two black people were killed in Kentucky by a white man who, minutes before, had tried to enter a predominantly black church; nor after 11 worshippers in Pittsburgh were murdered at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue by a man who’d expressed special loathing for HIAS, a Jewish refugee resettlement and advocacy organization. “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” Robert Bowers posted on his Gab account hours before the massacre. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

      Trump, relentless Trump, went right on raging about “invasions,” left-wing “mobs,” globalists, MS-13, and “caravan after caravan [of] illegal immigrants” invited in by Democrats to murder Americans, vote illegally, and mooch off our health care system. “Hate speech leads to hate crimes,” Rabbi Jeffrey Myers told the president in Pittsburgh several days after the murders. The FBI had previously reported a large spike in hate crimes over the previous two years, and the Anti-Defamation League noted a 60% rise in anti-Semitic incidents from 2016 to 2017. Then there was this, reported in the New York Times on the day before the election: “Advisers to the president said his foes take his campaign rally language too literally; as outrageous as it might seem, it is more entertainment, intended to generate a crowd reaction.” And Trump himself, when asked why he wasn’t campaigning on the strong economy, responded: “Sometimes it’s not as exciting to talk about the economy.”

      Not as exciting as, say, hate and xenophobia. And so one was led to wonder: Do countries have souls — with all the moral consequence implied by the concept of soul? If the answer is yes, then it follows that the collective soul can be corrupted and damned just as surely as that of a flesh-and-blood human being. In this election, as in all others, grave matters of policy were at stake, but we sensed something even bigger on the line in 2018 — nothing less than whether the country was past redeeming.

    • New clues link $1 million Trump inauguration mystery money to secretive “dark money” network

      Notorious “dark money” conduit Wellspring Committee gave $14.8 million to the primary spender on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and paid $919,900 to the mysterious LLC that made a $1 million donation to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, according to a new tax return obtained Nov. 27 by the Center for Responsive Politics.

      Wellspring has acted as a conduit for large contributions from secretive donors since it was set up, effectively laundering multi-million dollar donations with no substantive disclosure or accountability.

      Despite operating behind the scenes with a name unknown to most of the American public, Wellspring is at the crux of Ann and Neil Corkery’s network of politically active dark money groups, funneling millions from anonymous financiers to political causes they don’t want their names attached to — and doing ostensibly little else.

      Wellspring has continued to be the chief financier of the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), with a $14,814,998 contribution last year.

    • Iraqis Remember George H.W. Bush: A Gentleman When It Came To Bombing Us

      With the United States mourning the death of former President George Herbert Walker Bush, several Iraqis from families that were bombed during the Persian Gulf War expressed their condolences and paid tribute to him.

      “Bush knew how to raise the morale of U.S. military forces by unleashing tons of radioactive bombs, which would poison generations of my family,” said Sama. “Khalil was born with his kidney on his face, but we kept him alive as long as we could for the sake of the ‘New World Order.’”

      Nasim shared fond memories of the savage form of dysentery he contracted during the war. “I was young. I had a whole future of U.S. military occupation to look forward to in my life, and you could taste the uranium as it crept into the water supply.” He paused. “Ah, those were the days.”

    • Scott Walker and Wisconsin GOP Claim Protests Overblown, But Just Read the Full Details of Their Plan to Dismantle Democracy

      As Wisconsin Republicans and outgoing Gov. Scott Walker bend over backwards to downplay the scope of their plan to strip crucial authority from Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers, the details of the GOP’s batch of bills—which the state legislature is expected to vote on as early as Tuesday night—show that Wisconsinites are entirely justified in calling the plan an outrageous attack on democracy… and even a full-blown “coup.”

      “People are outraged. I’m not sure where that’s coming from right now,” said Wisconsin’s Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who apparently expects the public to believe that he has no idea why thousands of his angry constituents braved the freezing weather Monday night to protest the GOP plan.

      Walker—who has vowed to sign the legislation if it reaches his desk—feigned similar confusion, telling reporters, “For all the talk about reining in power, it really doesn’t.”

      Demonstrations against the Republican plan continued on Tuesday, as outraged Wisconsinites heckled Walker with boos and chants of “Respect our vote!” as he spoke at a tree-lighting ceremony inside the capitol building.

    • House Democrats Could Refuse to Seat North Carolina Republican

      On election night, the race appeared settled. Republican Mark Harris eked out a 905-vote victory over Democrat Dan McCready to be the next representative of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. Then, the North Carolina Board of Elections declined to certify the results, citing irregularities with absentee ballots. Specifically, there was an unusually high rate of such ballots that were unreturned in two counties that, according to an analysis from The Charlotte News and Observer, were “disproportionately associated with minority voters.”

      State election officials are now investigating whether a political operative Harris had hired illegally collected ballots so they would not be returned.

      Even if Harris is certified by North Carolina, Democrats could decline to seat him when they become the majority in the House in January, according to current Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

    • Lame Duck Power Grabs in The Midwest

      Voters should have the final say in our democracy. But right now, Republicans in charge of legislatures in several Midwestern states are trying to rig the system — because they didn’t like the election results. Make no mistake, the blatant power grabs by these legislatures in the lame duck sessions are an effort to ignore the will of everyday voters. We cannot sit quietly by and let them get away with it

      In Wisconsin, Republicans legislators are ramping up an effort to limit the power of incoming Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats, before Republican Gov. Scott Walker leaves office. Ironically, both Evers and Kaul won the statewide popular vote in the 2018 election, however Republicans running for the State Assembly lost the statewide popular but won 63% of the seats in the chamber due to partisan gerrymandering. One of the proposals in the GOP’s plan is to allow the legislature to sidestep the new Democratic attorney general and hire their own private attorneys, paid by taxpayers, to represent the state legislature in cases dealing with gerrymandering, voter ID, the Affordable Care Act, and other issues.

      If the power grabs by Wisconsin Republicans against the popularly elected incoming statewide Democrats weren’t enough, there is also a plan by Wisconsin GOP leadership to make cuts to early voting in order to limit turnout in future elections.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • No News Is Bad News for Hungary

      The autocrat Viktor Orban has taken control of much of the country’s media.


      Obviously, it wasn’t philanthropy. The owners are pro-government oligarchs and allies of Mr. Orban. Some of them have been buying up independent media outlets in recent years and turning them into pro-government mouthpieces. It’s not hard to presume that the business owners were happy to do Mr. Orban and his party, Fidesz, a little favor, especially since their news outlets depended on government advertising and were making little money.

      What Mr. Orban has managed to create is a media juggernaut that closely resembles Communist propaganda machines of old. The consolidation, if that’s the word, still needs to be approved by regulatory authorities, but they’re led by officials appointed by Mr. Orban. So is the Constitutional Court, should anybody consider challenging the transfers in the courts.

    • Tumblr Will Delete All ‘Adult Content’ From Its Platform

      Popular micro-blogging site Tumblr, in order to make itself a ‘better and positive’ platform, will now ban all adult content.

      The new step will be implemented, starting December 17 which will lead to the deletion of all the adult content from the platform irrespective of the users’ age. Additionally, Tumblr encourages users to flag his or her adult content and the existing ones will be put in private mode.

    • The Utter Failure Of FOSTA: More Lives At Risk… And Sex Ads Have Increased, Not Decreased

      Once again, as we predicted, FOSTA — a law ostensibly passed to stop sex trafficking — has been a total disaster. Passed based on totally inaccurate moral panics, it has resulted in online censorship and highly questionable lawsuits. But, worst of all, despite all the rhetoric about how it was necessary to save the lives of young girls, it has actually put them at much greater risk, and increased the amount of sex trafficking, while decreasing the ability of police to track down and arrest actual traffickers.

      As this was all becoming clear a few months back, the legislators who pushed FOSTA tried to completely rewrite history to claim it was a success. Chief among them was the original sponsor of FOSTA, Rep. Ann Wagner, who announced that FOSTA was responsible for “shutting down nearly 90% of the online sex trafficking business and ads.” This was wrong on multiple levels. That number was based on the shutdown of Backpage, which happened before FOSTA was law and had nothing to do with FOSTA. Even worse, an investigation into that 90% number by the Washington Post showed that even it was not true. At that time, the research showed that, while there was a brief plunge in sex ads after Backpage was seized (again, separate from FOSTA), the volume was coming back up to about the same level.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Lawsuit: Boston PD’s ‘Gang Database’ Says People Who Wear Nikes And Have Been Beat Up By Gang Members Are ‘Gang Associates’

      The Chinese government uses a number of measures to keep tabs on citizens. One is what’s known as a “citizen score” — a compilation of all the good/bad habits the government can track that determines whether a person should be viewed as a contributor to society or someone the government should take out of circulation.

      We do the same thing here in the US. Credit scores determine who gets to live where and what vehicle they can own. It also can affect employment opportunities. This version of a “citizen score” is compiled by private parties who have access to information Americans are given no choice in relinquishing.

      But the government also uses point-based systems to determine what kind of citizen you are: one of the good OK guys or possible a menace II to society. The ACLU is currently suing the Boston Police Department over its ad hoc “citizen score.” The BPD adds and subtracts points to add and (possibly?) subtract people from its “gang database.” Things citizens actively do — and even things they passively don’t — can put them on this watchlist.

    • Just How Corrupt is the American Soul?

      In an oped piece published in Al Jazeeera on 15 November 2018, the Columbia University professor Hamid Dabashi challenges the widespread assumption that “the American soul is something quintessentially good and even noble.” He goes on to point out that most of those who hold this view also believe that President Donald Trump and his policies and practices cannot possibly be representative of real American values.

      Dabashi’s position is that both of these idealistic beliefs are nothing but ahistorical delusions. “We may, in fact, be hard pressed to find a single moment in American history when hateful racism, sexism, militarism, and xenophobia have not been entirely definitive to this American soul.” In addition, “those who view President Donald Trump as unrepresentative of American values are wrong.” In Dabashi’s view this president’s policies and practices are indeed who we are.

      It is the liberals who Dabashi is particularly upset with for it is they who, in his view, have reinforced the facade of national goodness and held at bay, or perhaps simply ignored, any critical examination of this self-glorifying image. For instance, Dabashi notes that, while campaigning against Trump in the lead-up to the recent mid-term elections, Barack Obama asserted that “we [the U.S.] helped spread a commitment to certain values and principles like the rule of law and human rights and democracy and the notion of the inherent dignity and worth of every individual.”

    • On the Persistence of German War Guilt

      For most people, the historical fact of German/Nazi war crimes is uncontroversial. At the same time, for at least three generations of Germans, the question of their war guilt has been an integral part of the social-psychological reconstruction and re-presentation of their society. The sense that “we are guilty and we must pay” is a serious mental phenomenon that haunts many Germans to this day.

      Holocaust deniers aside, no one is calling for the historical absolution or forgiveness of the Nazis.

      However, is it legitimate to ask that if ones great-grandfather was a mass murderer in what way should that fact effect the great-grandchild?

      Should a distant descendant feel a severe sense of guilt for the crimes of a heinous ancestor?

      Unless you believe in the assigning of collective guilt through time the answer should unequivocally be no.

    • The Effects of the Muslim Ban One Year Later

      We’ve had one year of the Muslim ban. Congress must ensure it’s the last.
      Exactly one year ago today, the Supreme Court allowed the full implementation of Trump’s Muslim ban. It would be months still before it heard oral arguments in Hawaii v. Trump and issued its ruling on June 26, allowing the ban to remain in place. But on Dec. 4, 2017, America began to ban millions of Muslims from the United States, even if they have family members, jobs, academic spots, or other compelling connections here, and even if they would otherwise be fully entitled to receive a visa to come here.

      This day goes down in the history books, not only as an enormous failure to live up to our values of religious and racial equality, but for the real impact that the ban has on people’s lives. Take Anahita, who never got to say goodbye to her father in Iran before he passed away and did not even get to mourn with her family. Or Nisrin, who was detained during the chaotic implementation of the first Muslim ban simply because of her Sudanese citizenship, although she has lived in the United States for 25 years. Let’s also not forget the numerous students afraid to return home to visit their families because their visas may not be reissued. Or the families now traveling thousands of miles and spending thousands of dollars to simply be able to hug someone they love at a library on the border of Canada and the United States.

      Though there is a waiver process, the numbers have been sparse. In the first three months, the government issued just two waivers. As of June, the number of waivers grew to around 570 — a mere two percent of visa applications. Most recently, State Department claimed to have “cleared” 1,836 applicants for waivers as of September, but it remains unknown whether those individuals have actually been granted waivers. Many advocacy groups and members of Congress have requested updated numbers about waiver issuances, but the government has yet to fulfill those requests.

    • Tennessee Legislators Can’t Stand Up To Cops; Keep Federal Loophole Open For Nashville Law Enforcement

      Earlier this year, the Tennessee legislature passed some very minimal asset forfeiture reforms. The bill, signed into law in May, does nothing more than require periodic reporting on use of forfeiture funds and the occasional audit.

      What it doesn’t do is require convictions. It also doesn’t close the federal loophole, which allows Tennessee law enforcement to bypass state laws if they feel they’re too restrictive. Given that state law doesn’t really do anything to curb forfeiture abuse, the federal adoption lifeline isn’t used quite as often in Tennessee as it is by law enforcement agencies in others states with laws that are actually worth a damn.

    • Florida’s Amendment 4 Pushes Back On Tradition Of Social Death For People With Convictions

      On November 6, voters in Florida passed a ballot measure that extends the franchise to some people with a felony conviction. Amendment 4 restores voting rights for people with a felony conviction on their record after they complete their sentence, including all terms of probation or parole and the payment of fees and restitution.

      Amendment 4 does not allow for the franchise of people convicted of murder or rape. Even with this restriction, this is a watershed moment for the activists who worked tirelessly to bring about this victory, but you wouldn’t know that formerly incarcerated and incarcerated people led this fight because this has been erased in much of the reporting.

      No other country in the world denies as many people in absolute or proportional terms the right to vote because of felony convictions. According to the Sentencing Project, the problem of felony disenfranchisement means that in the United States, 6.1 million people are not able to vote because of a felony conviction.

      Felony disenfranchisement contradicts notions of fairness and democracy that Americans claim to value, but the numbers tell the story. This is a story that is rooted in a vision of an America that has always clung to its White Supremacist origins. Universal suffrage was not a goal of the men that “founded” this country. For many years, the right to vote had been restricted to white landed males. This changed in 1861 with the elimination of the property qualification, which expanded voting rights to people that had been previously excluded.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ‘What Is the FCC Hiding?’ As Net Neutrality Deadline Looms, Agency Refuses FOIA Requests for Crucial Records

      Just days before the Dec. 10 deadline for the House to pass a resolution to restore net neutrality protections, the Republican-controlled FCC on Monday rejected Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by the New York Times and Buzzfeed for server logs and other records pertaining to the millions of fake comments that flooded the agency’s system as it moved to repeal net neutrality last year.


      By denying records requests from the Times and Buzzfeed, Rosenworcel argued that the FCC—headed by former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai—appears to be “trying to prevent anyone from looking too closely at the mess it made of net neutrality. It is hiding what it knows about the fraud in our record and it is preventing an honest account of its many problems from seeing the light of day.”

      A spokesperson for the Times told Gizmodo that the paper is planning to challenge the FCC’s decision in court.

    • “What is the FCC hiding?” Pai still won’t release net neutrality server logs

      The Federal Communications Commission has once again refused a New York Times request for records that the Times believes might shed light on Russian interference in the net neutrality repeal proceeding.

      The Times made a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request in June 2017 for FCC server logs and sued the FCC in September of this year over the agency’s ongoing refusal to release the records. The court case is still pending, but the Times had also appealed directly to the FCC to reverse its FoIA decision. The FCC denied that appeal in a decision released today.

    • UK ISPs Demand Ad Watchdog Crack Down On ‘Fake Fiber’ Broadband

      A few years back, we noted how a growing number of US broadband providers (particularly telcos) were trying to obscure their network upgrade failures. How? By only partially upgrading their networks then over-stating their customers actual access to real fiber broadband. AT&T, for example, likes to upgrade only a few developments in a city then breathlessly declare the entire city served with fiber. AT&T and other telcos often only upgrade part of the path to the users’ home (fiber to the local node, aka FTTN) instead of running fiber to the home.

      It’s well in line with the problem we’ve seen in both the UK and US with ISP’s advertising “up to” broadband speeds (usually an indicator you won’t get the actual speed advertised. Needless to say, this collectively creates a lot of confusion among customers who often don’t know if fiber is actually available, or if they’re being sold either empty promises, or some inferior version of marginally upgraded DSL that isn’t fiber (usually made most obvious by pathetic upstream speeds).

      In the United States regulators couldn’t care less about this. Both parties have long turned a blind eye to such creative marketing, in much the same way we’ve turned a blind eye to the fact our terrible broadband maps routinely over-state broadband availability over all. Apathy to this kind of creative marketing is also common in the UK, where the Advertising Standards Authority recently declared it was no big deal if a broadband provider wants to sell inferior broadband service (with speeds much slower than real fiber) as “fiber” broadband.

    • Wireless Carriers Won’t Comment On 5G’s Most Important Question: How Much Will It Cost?

      We’ve noted a few times that while fifth-generation wireless (5G) will certainly improve the speed, reliability, and latency of existing networks, it’s being pretty painfully overhyped by hardware vendors and cellular carriers. Telecom industry marketing folks spend countless hours insisting that the smart cities and smart cars of tomorrow are only possible with 5G, the sort of claims countless online outlets will repeat utterly unquestioningly. More often than not these claims are based on nothing close to reality (like this one claiming 5G will somehow result in four day work weeks).

      While 5G will result in faster, more resilient networks, it doesn’t magically somehow unleash additional innovation for tech that already largely works on existing 4G networks (smart cars, smarter cities). And while carriers have begun testing and hyping various incarnations of 5G, actually getting a 5G-capable phone is likely years away as companies hammer out battery life issues (Apple isn’t releasing a 5G iPhone until 2020, or potentially later). It will also take the better part of the next decade for carriers to broadly upgrade their networks, regardless of what they officially promise.

      While most media articles on 5G are little more than blind stenography of wireless marketing claims, Sean Hollister at The Verge did a good job last week breaking down 5G’s promises, laying down the real-world impact and deployment schedules. More importantly, he narrows in on what’s probably the most important question for 5G carriers don’t want to answer: how much will 5G cost?

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • WHO Director Tedros Gives Thoughts On Access To Medicines, Gene Editing, Ebola

      World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Dr Tedros) met with United Nations journalists today, in what he said would become a regular end-of-the-year meeting with the press. He gave an update on the ongoing Ebola outbreak and his views on the recent human gene editing by a Chinese researcher, and on the use of gene drive organisms to fight malaria. He also provided his views on access to affordable and safe medicines.

    • FTC seeking to “redress and prevent recurrence of Qualcomm’s conduct” through antitrust injunction

      The FTC and Qualcomm once intended to settle the antitrust litigation pending before Judge Lucy H. Koh in the Northern District of California by November 14, but we’re now just one month and one day away from the trial date and no agreement has been reached. But there’s been tremendous progress in the form of Judge Koh’s recent summary judgment order on Qualcomm’s obligation to extend standard-essential patent (SEP) licenses to rival chipset makers such as Intel.

    • USPTO Director Issues Notice on New Authentication System for EFS-Web and Private PAIR [Ed: Trying to distract from very serious technical failings?]

      Last month, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu issued a notice on the “Authentication Changes for Registered Users of EFS-Web and Private PAIR.” Although most of the information provided in the Director’s notice had been previously provided by the Office earlier this year (see “USPTO Moving to New Authentication System for EFS-Web and Private PAIR”), the notice served as a reminder about the new authentication system as the Office prepares to phase out the use of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificates (which have been used by the Office since 2006), perhaps as early as December 31, 2018 (the Director’s notice states that “[u]se of PKI certificates may no longer be available after December 31, 2018″).