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04.03.17

Links 3/4/2017: Linux 4.11 RC5, Mesa 17.0.3, GTK+ 3.90.0

Posted in News Roundup at 5:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Five Reasons I Love Linux And Five Reasons I Don’t

    I get asked this one a lot. At the end of the day, I do tend to switch it up and try different distributions. My personal favorites are the distros based on Ubuntu or just running the default edition of Ubuntu. Another favorite right now for me is Kubuntu, which is a KDE version of Ubuntu. Those aren’t the only great versions of Linux, however, as others such as Fedora or PCLinuxOS offer their own take and are just as fun to use.

    In the end, you will have to choose for yourself. If you are new to Linux, I recommend Ubuntu or one of the distributions based on it, as they are, in most cases, much easier to use.

  • Linux Journal April 2017

    I’m not sure what problem Vanilla Ice solved with his DJ’s sick hook, but thankfully in the Linux world, we solve problems all the time. In fact, Linux exists as a solution to a problem—25+ years later, and Linux is still solving problems all the time. This month, let’s attack some problems the penguin way.

  • Linux Who? Windows Still King of the Desktop [Ed: Microsoft Popa is at it again, with headlines like this, citing Microsoft-centric and Microsoft-connected firms/data]
  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.11-rc5

      Ok, things have definitely started to calm down, let’s hope it stays
      this way and it wasn’t just a fluke this week.

      Things look fairly normal, with just under 60% of the changes in
      drivers (edac, sound, block, pci, etc), and about 30% in arch updates
      (some misc ptrace fixes, random stuff).

      The only slightly unusual thing is how over half the arch updates are
      for parisc, but that’s just a temporary oddity from the fix to the
      parisc user copy routines, which resulted in a fairly big patch (due
      to them just being written as regular assembler code rather than as a
      broken mess of inline assembly with some C mixed in).

      The rest is a random mix of some filesystem fixes (nfs[d], btrfs),
      with some misc core kernel and mm fixes thrown in.

      Shortlog appended for people who like just skimming the details. It’s
      not big, just scroll down through it.

      Linus

    • Linux 4.11-rc5 Kernel Released

      Linus Torvalds has just announced the fifth weekly RC test release to the upcoming Linux 4.11 kernel.

    • Linus Torvalds Announces the Fifth Release Candidate of the Linux 4.11 Kernel

      It’s Sunday again, at least in the US, which means that some of us we’ll get to test drive a new Release Candidate (RC) build of the upcoming Linux 4.11 kernel, the fifth in the series.

      Announced a few moments ago by Linus Torvalds, Linux kernel 4.11 Release Candidate 5 comes one week after the previous RC version and appears to be a fairly normal patch consisting of about 60% updated drivers for PCI, EDAC, sound, block, etc., approximately 30% architecture updates, especially for PA-RISC, and the rest of 10% is split between filesystem ( mostly Btrfs and NFS) improvements and core kernel and mm changes.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • April Fools’ Or Should Wayland Switch Away From Using C?

        An independent developer wrote a message on the Wayland mailing list this weekend how Wayland should “move away from C.” While Rust is all the fun these days to those looking towards a “safer” programming language, it was suggested Wayland be re-implemented in Haskell.

      • More Details On The Proposed Inputfd Protocol For Wayland

        A few days ago I wrote about Inputfd as a new Wayland protocol proposal for better supporting gaming devices. Peter Hutterer who drafted the proposal has now released a larger overview on this proposed addition.

      • [Intel-gfx] [GIT PULL] GVT-g next for 4.12 (with 4.11 fix)

        Here’s GVT-g update for 4.12. Major things are vGPU scheduler QoS support from Gao Ping, initial KBL support on E3 server from Han Xu.

      • Intel GVT-g Updates Slated For Linux 4.12

        Intel has queued changes for their GVT-g graphics driver stack for Linux 4.12, allowing some improvements around their newly-mainlined graphics virtualization tech support for running VMs with accelerated graphics capabilities.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • A Look at Desktop Environments: LXDE

      LXDE is known as one of the if not the lightest of the main desktop environments available for GNU/Linux.

      LXDE is extremely minimalistic and comes with very little to no special effects, or resource hungry applications and tools.

      That being said, LXDE is a great option for taking an old machine and breathing new life into it; I personally have an LXDE based distro installed on an old laptop of mine using a dual core Centrino with 512MB of RAM, and while it obviously can’t hold a candle to my main laptop, it’s been sufficient for surfing the web and doing basic tasks like writing essays for school when my main machine was not an option.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • [GTK+] 3.90.0
      • GTK+ 3.90.0 Released, Advancing Towards GTK 4.0

        Matthias Clasen on Friday released version 3.90.0 of the GTK+ tool-kit.

      • A throwback theme for gedit

        This isn’t exactly about usability, but I wanted to share it with you anyway.

        I’ve been involved in a lot of open source software projects, since about 1993. You know that I’m also the founder and coordinator of the FreeDOS Project? I started that project in 1994, to write a free version of DOS that anyone could use.

        DOS is an old operating system. It runs entirely in text mode. So anyone who was a DOS user “back in the day” should remember text mode and the prevalence of white-on-blue text.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Super Grub2 Disk

        Super Grub2 Disk is not a Linux distribution and, in fact, I do not think it entirely qualifies as an operating system. Yet, I believe Super Grub2 Disk (SGD) is one of the more useful projects I have encountered recently, especially for distro-hoppers such as myself. Almost everyone who tries out new operating systems, especially people who switch distributions a lot, has eventually run into a situation where installing a new operating system causes problems with their boot loader. Perhaps the new distribution does not properly detect the old one, excluding it from the boot menu, perhaps a new operating system takes over the system with its own boot loader, maybe we accidentally wipe out the directory where our boot loader was installed. Whatever the cause, installing a new operating system can leave many people in a situation where their system no longer boots properly.

        SGD offers a solution for people who have (usually by accident) caused their boot loader to stop working or to no longer recognize their operating system. SGD basically acts like a portable copy of the GRUB boot loader which we can copy to a CD or USB thumb drive. When we encounter a system where the boot loader is not working, we can boot from the SGD media and ask it to detect all the operating systems on our computer. SGD scans our hard drive and presents us with a list of operating systems it has found and can boot. Then we can simply select the operating system we want to load. The operating system boots, just as it normally would, and we can then get work done or go about repairing the damage to our system.

        All of this may seem a little abstract so I will walk through an example, recreating a situation I read about recently on a support forum. Someone had been cleaning up files on their hard drive and accidentally deleted their /boot/grub directory. This is the directory which stores the boot loader and its settings; without the files in /boot/grub the operating system will not boot.

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • My Debian Activities in March 2017

        This month I marked 111 packages for accept and sent four emails to maintainers asking questions. The bad number of the month are the 41 packages I had to reject. This rejection rate was the worst of all my NEW-months.

      • My free software activities, February and March 2017

        It turns out that over 60% of my computer time is spent working on free software. That’s huge! I was expecting something more along the range of 20 to 40% of my time. So I started thinking about ways of financing this work. I created a Patreon page but I’m hesitant into launching such a campaign: the only thing worse than “no patreon page” is “a patreon page with failed goals and no one financing it”. So before starting such an effort, I’d like to get a feeling of what other people’s experience with it are. I know that joeyh is close to achieving his goals, but I can’t compare with the guy that invented git-annex or debhelper, so I’m concerned I wouldn’t be able to raise the same level of funding.

      • Derivatives

        • TinkerOS_Debian V1.6 (Beta version) Released

          There’s a new release of TinkerOS available to download on Asus’s website. TinkerOS is a Linux distribution for the Asus Tinker Board based on Debian. Not heard of the Asus Tinker Board? Read our two page review.

        • Debian-Based Elive 3.0 Promises Persistence Support, New Beta Adds Many Changes

          The Elive Team was proud to announce the release of yet another Beta milestone towards the major Elive 3.0 release of the Debian-based GNU/Linux distribution, versioned 2.8.8.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • OVH joins Ubuntu CPC programme

            This is a good move for OVH. Not only does it raise the bar in terms of the stability and security of Ubuntu Linux but it also get joint marketing support from Canonical. It also allows it to compete with other major cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure, IBM SoftLayer, AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Rackspace and others. All of these are already partners with Canonical for UCPC. As OVH looks to meet its aggressive growth target over the next two years and break into the US market, it needs this type of deal.

            Surprisingly, Canonical has yet to update its list of public cloud partners to include OVH. This is something that OVH will want to get fixed quickly.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Gumstix adds Arduino support for Curie-based boards designed with Geppetto

      Gumstix added Arduino IDE support to its Geppetto design service for boards based on the Intel Curie. It also shipped a Curie-based “Radium 96BIE” SBC.

      Last September, Gumstix unveiled two single board computers based on Intel Joule and Curie modules, and built to 96Boards CE and the new, MCU-oriented 96Boards IE (IoT Edition) form-factor specifications, respectively. The Curie-based 96Boards IE compliant Radium 96BIE board is now available for $75, and Gumstix has also added Arduino IDE support for designing similar Curie-based boards in its Geppetto D2O custom board design and manufacturing service.

    • Asus Tinker Board – Hardware Accelerated RockChip Video Player – Initial Release

      Asus released a new beta of TinkerOS on their website yesterday. One interesting addition is the initial release of a dedicated video player, RK Player. What makes RK Player interesting? Simply, the video app uses the hardware acceleration features found on the Tinker Board to play video encoded using H.264 and H.265.

      With the new release of TinkerOS, Asus’s website has prepared a brief support guide to the RK Player. It’s pretty important you read the guide, as you may initially think RK Player hasn’t been installed on the system. This is because the binary file, player, is not stored in a directory listed in the shell’s PATH. It’s not been added to the menu system. Instead it’s’s buried in the filesystem at /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/qt5/examples/multimediawidgets/player/. The guide recommends copying the file to a more convenient location. Alternatively, add the directory to the PATH. I’ll be kind about the unprofessional guide (blurry screenshots, broken English – seriously from Asus?) – clearly Asus is keen on releasing the player at the earliest opportunity so the community can test it out. Let’s take a look at RK Player in action.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Winning the Google Open Source Lottery

    I don’t know about you, but I frequently get mails announcing that I was picked as the lucky winner of a lottery, compensation program or simply as “business associate”. Obvious Spam of course, that never happens in reality. Just like my personal “favorite” at the moment: Mails notifying me of inheritance from a previously (more or less) unknown relative. Its just that this is what has happend basically a few weeks ago in reality to me (over the phone through) – and I am still dealing with the bureaucracy required of teaching the legal system that I have absolutely no intention of becoming the legal successor of someone I haven’t seen in 20 years, regardless of how close the family relation is on paper… but that might be the topic of another day.

    [...]

    You have probably figured out by now that I didn’t know that program before. Kinda embarrassing for a previous Google Summer of Code student (GSoC is run by the same office), but the idea behind it is simple: Google employees can nominate contributors to open source stuff for a small monetary “thank you!” gift card. Earlier this week winners for this round were announced – 52 contributors including yours truly. You might be surprised, but the rational given behind my name is APT (I got a private mail with the full rational from my “patron”, just in case you wonder if at least I would know more).

  • Events

  • Databases

    • Open Source Time Series Database Released

      A new, open-source time series database built with the Postgres engine has been released. TimeScaleDB is currently available in a single-node version, and is optimized for fast ingest and complex queries.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Cloudera Is the Next Enterprise Tech IPO Based on Open-Source Software

      Nine-year-old big data company Cloudera dropped its S-1 on Friday, registering its intent to raise $200 million in an IPO. The company’s private valuation, based on various reports, is upwards of $4 billion, and it’s raised more than $500 million in venture capital. Cloudera plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol CLDR.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • How I realised “Open Source” is a better term than “Free Software”

      The term “Free Software” is a political term which requires extensive explanation. The Free Software community thinks that everyone should use only Free Software so that we as a society can be in control of our computing. It’s not really about Freedom at all, because >99% of computer users are non-programmers, making the freedoms to study, modify & redistribute not directly relevant. Irrespective whether a non-programmer uses Free Software or Proprietary, they give control of their computer to someone else. It’s just a choice between giving control to a sharing community or a greedy mega-corporation.

    • Linux Foundation blocks access to open source risks article

      The Free Software Foundation’s John Sullivan was one of the first to criticise the article, pointing out on Twitter, “There are many sites where I’d expect to see this article but not the Linux Foundation.”

      In reference to a claim in the article, he wrote, “Copyleft is not ‘riskier’. Permissive licenses allow proprietary reuse, and *proprietary* licensing is far more complicated and risky.”

      And he added, “Copyleft is also not ‘restrictive’. See above. Proprietary licensing is restrictive. Copyleft guarantees absence of restrictions.”

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Pilots’ poor English skills putting passengers at risk
  • Soviet-era poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko dies aged 84

    The Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko has died of heart failure in the United States at the age of 84.

    Yevtushenko was the last surviving major poet of those who came to prominence in the USSR of the 1960s.

    He is best-known for his epic work, Babi Yar.

    It commemorates one of the worst Nazi atrocities of the Second World War, in which tens of thousands of Jews and other prisoners were killed in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

  • My Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1932-2017)

    Unless challenged, tastes and opinions acquired early in life stick to your mind like barnacles to the hull of the ship, and I have never had the occasion to reconsider my attitude toward Yevtushenko. To me, his poetry is a form of art that is compromised by its government permit, and it is too late for me now to change my mind. And yet, I must acknowledge, his was a lifelong service to the Russian poetic tradition in which the poet, in Yevtushenko’s own, somewhat tinny, phrase, is “more than just a poet.” And sometimes, I should add, a poet can be less than one, too.

    If Brodsky was right, and we should see Yevtushenko as a poet who had his Muse ply the world’s oldest profession throughout his career, we must remember him as a holy prostitute – sacred to the cult of poetry that swept the Soviet Union in the decades after Stalin’s death. This cult was as diverse, ambiguous, and full of contradictions as was Russia itself during Yevtushenko’s long lifetime.

    The archetypal Soviet “cult” poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky, whose art encompassed many political compromises, committed suicide at Eastertide, 14 April 1930, at the age of 36. Yevtushenko died on April Fool’s day at the ripe old age of 83. RIP.

  • Quebec’s Vacant Church Buildings Resurrected as Community Spaces

    The novelist Mark Twain is said to have referred to Montreal as a city of spires, writing that “you couldn’t throw a brick without breaking a church window” in Canada’s largest French-speaking city.

    “In Quebec cities, the church is the landmark,” historian Paul Mackey says. “In Europe you have castles — here, we’ve built churches.”

    From the arrival of the first French settlers in the 1600s to the last half of the 20th century, the Catholic Church and the rest of society in Quebec were tightly intertwined in a way difficult to imagine in the rest of North America. Hospitals and schools were church-run, and priests played a key role in political and family life in the province.

  • 1m African migrants may be en route to Europe, says former UK envoy

    As many as one million migrants are already on the way to Libya and Europe from countries across Africa, the former head of the British embassy in Benghazi has warned.

    The warning by Joe Walker-Cousins, head of the UK’s Libya mission between 2012 and 2014 comes as European governments struggle to find a response to the flow of migrants from the Mediterranean, and the appalling conditions in detention camps run by traffickers or the Libyan government.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Farm antibiotics and superbugs are bad for our health—and the planet’s, too

      Soil microbial communities stressed by farm-borne superbugs and drugs can burn through up to 5.8 times the amount of soil carbon stores as their undisturbed counterparts. This is according to a new report in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Though the study didn’t plunge into the exact cause of the revved-up carbon cycling, the researchers speculate that the heavy use of antibiotics on farms leads to soil microbes getting locked into molecular arms-races and wars—both of which are metabolically costly endeavors.

    • GOP Lawmakers Now Admit Years of Obamacare Repeal Votes Were a Sham

      It is hard to overestimate the role of the Affordable Care Act in the Republican resurgence.

      Over the last seven years, the GOP has won successive elections by highlighting problems with Obamacare, airing more than $235 million in negative ads slamming the law, and staging more than 50 high-profile repeal votes. In 2016 every major Republican presidential candidate, including Donald Trump, campaigned on a pledge to quickly get rid of it.

      [...]

      After the defeat of Ryan’s legislation last week, the speaker called Obamacare the “law of the land” that will remain “for the foreseeable future.”

    • Tom Price Intervened on Rule That Would Hurt Drug Profits, the Same Day He Acquired Drug Stock

      On the same day the stockbroker for then-Georgia Congressman Tom Price bought him up to $90,000 of stock in six pharmaceutical companies last year, Price arranged to call a top U.S. health official, seeking to scuttle a controversial rule that could have hurt the firms’ profits and driven down their share prices, records obtained by ProPublica show.

      Stock trades made by Price while he served in Congress came under scrutiny at his confirmation hearings to become President Trump’s secretary of health and human services. The lawmaker, a physician, traded hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of shares in health-related companies while he voted on and sponsored legislation affecting the industry, but Price has said his broker acted on his behalf without his involvement or knowledge. ProPublica previously reported that his trading is said to have been under investigation by federal prosecutors.

    • TPP May Be Dead but Big Pharma’s Still Getting Away with Murder

      This month the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership concluded its 17th round of talks. RCEP is a five-year-old proposed trade agreement between 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, like India, China, and Laos and six states, like Japan and Australia, that have existing free trade agreements in the region. It’s essentially comprised of TPP nations, without the Americas and the United States.

      RCEP trading partners represent 30 percent of global GDP and about half of the world’s population. As the talks continue, global health activists are alarmed. Like the TPP, the pharmaceutical industry has a lot at stake in this deal. So do much of the world’s poor.

  • Security

    • Ask Hackaday: Which Balaclava Is Best For Hacking?

      At Hackaday, we’re tapped into Hacker Culture. This goes far beyond a choice of operating system (Arch Linux, or more correctly, ‘Arch GNU/Linux’, or as I’ve recently taken to calling it, ‘Arch GNU plus Linux’). This culture infects every fiber of our soul, from music (DEF CON’s station on Soma FM), our choice in outerwear (black hoodies, duh), and our choice in laptops (covered in stickers). We all wear uniforms, although a gaggle of computer science and electronics nerds all wearing black t-shirts won’t tell you that. We all conform, whether we’re aware of it or not.

    • Bits from keyring-maint [action required]

      A potential issue in the DFSG freeness of the Debian keyrings has been brought to the attention of the keyring-maint team. We have already had a similar issue[0] in the past with OpenPGP User Attributes (commonly used to attach images to keys). This was resolved by stripping such data from the keyrings; they add no extra information that is useful for the purposes of the keyrings within the project.

      The current issue under investigation is unfortunately harder for us to resolve as a team. It has been pointed out that the public keys, as shipped, do not represent the preferred form for modification. While it is possible for anyone to add additional data to a key without the private component it is not possible to fully modify the key. For example, a user wishing to upgrade all signatures on his copy of the debian-keyring to SHA-256, removing any use of SHA-1, is unable to do so.

    • BBR: Congestion-based congestion control

      This is the story of how members of Google’s make-tcp-fast project developed and deployed a new congestion control algorithm for TCP called BBR (for Bandwidth Bottleneck and Round-trip propagation time), leading to 2-25x throughput improvement over the previous loss-based congestion control CUBIC algorithm. In fact, the improvements would have been even more significant but for the fact that throughput became limited by the deployed TCP receive buffer size. Increasing this buffer size led to a huge 133x relative improvement with BBR (2Gbps), while CUBIC remained at 15Mbps. BBR is also being deployed on YouTube servers, with a small percentage of users being assigned BBR playback.

    • Weekend security updates
    • Microsoft won’t patch zero-day flaw affecting 600,000 web servers [iophk: "if it's running Microsoft, it should not be on the net. turn off those machines"]

      Microsoft has no plans to fix a flaw in Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 which could affect up to 600,000 web servers.

    • The expectation of security

      What I mean is expecting anyone to go without a “screen” for a weekend doesn’t make sense. A substantial number of activities we do today rely on some sort of screen because we’ve replace more inefficient ways of accomplishing tasks with these screens. Need to look something up? That’s a screen. What’s the weather? Screen. News? Screen. Reading a book? Screen!

      You get the idea. We’ve replaced a large number of books or papers with a screen. But this is a security blog, so what’s the point? The point is I see a lot of similarities with a lot of security people. The world has changed quite a bit over the last few years, I feel like a number of our rules are similar to anyone thinking spending time without a screen is some sort of learning experience. I bet we can all think of security people we know who think it’s still 1995, if you don’t know any you might be that person (time for some self reflection).

    • Why I Always Tug on the ATM

      Once you understand how easy and common it is for thieves to attach “skimming” devices to ATMs and other machines that accept debit and credit cards, it’s difficult not to closely inspect and even tug on the machines before using them. Several readers who are in the habit of doing just that recently shared images of skimmers they discovered after gently pulling on various parts of a cash machine they were about to use.

    • USB Canary: This Open Source Tool Sends SMS If A Hacker Connects A USB Device

      There are a lot of USB devices which can be fatal to your innocent machine. An office worker leaving his computer even for a short span of time is making it vulnerable to USB-led attacks.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • False Flag Dog-Wag Warning

      That said, let me declare something else I’ve been thinking since the Inauguration of the Orange Haired Beast as President of the United States: the time has never been riper for a false flag terror attack. Reality television product Donald Trump and his top political advisor, Steve Bannon, a veteran right wing propaganda filmmaker, need a dog to wag.

      Think about it. The BannonTrumPence administration came in with the lowest popularity numbers in the history of the modern U.S. presidency. Herr Donald lost the popular vote by nearly 2 million tallies. His presidency has been one Twitter-fueled travesty after another, from his ridiculous Day One trip to the CIA headquarters to his clumsy, unconstitutional, and widely protested Muslim travel ban to his bizarre charge that Barack Obama bugged his phones to his epic fail on Obamacare. The ridiculous Trump’s current approval rating (36%) fell to new record lows twice this week. What a loser!

    • After 7 fatally shot, some South Shore residents shocked, others say it’s nothing new

      The first call was for a well-being check Thursday afternoon at an apartment building complex in the South Shore neighborhood. Inside a third-floor unit, a 26-year-old pregnant woman was found dead with a gunshot wound to her head.

      Hours later and about four blocks away, a gunman walked up to a popular chicken and fish restaurant on a busy stretch of South Coles Avenue and opened fire, killing two young brothers who were there visiting their mother and other men who happened to be inside.

      Before the day was done, a man and a woman were slain by someone who pulled up to their car in a black Jeep in front of the South Shore Cultural Center and fired multiple shots.

    • Duping Americans on Healthcare and War

      President Trump and his wealthy friends have just discovered how complicated healthcare is in this country — for the rest of us that is. They will soon find out that U.S. militarism is just as complicated, and for many of the same reasons.

    • Blaming Russia for Everything

      It’s almost getting comical how everything that happens in the United States gets blamed on Russia! Russia! Russia! And, if any American points out the absurdity of this argument, he or she must be a “Moscow stooge” or a “Putin puppet.”

    • Theresa May ‘would go to war’ to defend the sovereignty of Gibraltar

      Theresa May would go to war to defend the sovereignty of Gibraltar just as Margaret Thatcher did with the Falklands, a former Tory leader has suggested.

      Lord Howard said the British Government will stand by Gibraltar during Brexit talks amid claims of an EU “land grab” for the territory by Spain.

      It came as Spain confirmed that it would not initially block an independent Scotland’s attempts to join the European Union (EU)

    • Spain eases opposition to an independent Scotland in EU

      Spain, at loggerheads with Britain over Gibraltar, appears to be easing its opposition to an independent Scotland in the European Union, saying it would not block such a move at least initially.

      The Scottish independence drive — now resuscitated by the prospect of Britain’s departure from the EU — is highly controversial in Spain because of the secessionist movement in Catalonia.

      As a result, Madrid has long been seen as an obstacle to an independent Scotland joining the EU after Brexit. But its foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, threw that in doubt on Sunday.

      “Initially, I don’t think we would block it,” he said in an interview published in El Pais.

    • The Beneficiaries of Conflict With Russia

      Reaction by the US government to the WikiLeaks disclosures has been to denounce them because they supposedly “not only jeopardise US personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm.” Predictably, Senator Sasse tweeted that “Julian Assange should spend the rest of his life wearing an orange jumpsuit. He’s an enemy of the American people and an ally to Vladimir Putin.”

      There should be no surprise about the activities of US and British intelligence agencies, because they already have a proven record of spying on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, French Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, to name but a few world leaders subjected to the indignity of greasy little eavesdroppers sniggering at their private conversations.

    • Regime wages war of documents on Syrians

      Political dissidents have been too often stripped of their civic rights, professional licenses, and personal properties. Until today, citizens are obliged to pay bribes to civil servants or risk his or her paperwork being delayed endlessly.

      Rula[i] used to work in the marketing department of one of the largest retail clothing companies in Syria when Bashar Al-Asad first came to office in 2000. “My post exposed me to the scale of corruption and fraud that controlled the country. For example, if a company paid, let’s say 500,000 SYP [around $10.000 at that time] a year in taxes, it would be paying 5 million in bribes that end up in the pockets of state employees. This is the ratio. And you can do anything you want. Anything, as long as you pay,” Rula told SyriaUntold from Dubai, where she currently lives.

    • Our Military Waste Game Suddenly Seems Prophetic

      The most jaw-dropping element of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 is still shaking the foundations of Washington. The Pentagon, the most profligate agency in all the land, would get another $52 billion to play with — and it is already one of the top spenders of taxpayer money. To fatten up the military coffers, pretty much everything else would take a drastic pay cut.

    • Meet the Midwestern Contractor That Appears Hundreds of Times in the CIA WikiLeaks Dump

      In a suburb of Cincinnati about 30 minutes north of the Ohio River, right down the street from the local Hooters, a little known subsidiary of defense giant Northrop Grumman works on contracts for the Central Intelligence Agency.

      Xetron Corporation, whose products range from military sensors to communications systems to information security software, shows up in nearly 400 documents published earlier this month by WikiLeaks. Those documents describe some of the tools the CIA uses to hack phones, smart TVs, and other digital products to conduct espionage overseas — and some of the partners that help them do it, like Xetron.

      Now Xetron employees are facing additional scrutiny in the wake of the WikiLeaks dump, according to one source familiar with the matter, with some of them suddenly pulled in to polygraph examinations. It’s unclear if the government is conducting an active investigation into the company as a potential source of the leaks or if the firm is simply responding to stepped-up security requirements on some of its projects.

    • Trump Never was a Noninterventionist

      Can Donald Trump’s foreign policy “doctrine” and presidential actions accurately be described as noninterventionist? Strangely, Glenn Greenwald thinks so. In “Trump’s War on Terror Has Quickly Become as Barbaric and Savage as He Promised,” Greenwald writes, “Trump explicitly ran as a ‘non-interventionist’ — denouncing, for instance, U.S. regime change wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria (even though he at some points expressed support for the first two). Many commentators confused ‘non-interventionism’ with ‘pacifism,’ leading many of them — to this very day — to ignorantly claim that Trump’s escalated war on terror bombing is in conflict with his advocacy of non-interventionism. It is not.”

      I’m a big fan of Greenwald’s work, but I believe he is among the confused here. Whoever thinks Trump ran as a noninterventionist is plain wrong. All one needs to do to see this is to compare Trump’s campaign pronouncements with those of noninterventionist Ron Paul during his two runs for Republican presidential nomination. (Trump warned Republicans not to listen to Paul.)

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • To keep classified docs from WikiLeaks secret, DOJ drops 2 child porn counts

      Rather than allow public, but still-classified materials found on WikiLeaks to be exposed in court, federal prosecutors in Tacoma, Washington, have dropped two cases related to child pornography. Those two counts were against a man accused of downloading such materials through Playpen, a now-defunct child-pornography website that was hidden through Tor.

      The move, which took place earlier this month, means that David Tippens will only face one remaining count of possession of child pornography, which carries no minimum sentence.

    • Lenin, Stalin and Hitler are alive and well in Ecuador — or at least their names are

      According to the national statistics institute, there were 18,464 people named Lenín registered in the country from 1950 to 2015. During that same period there were 16,088 Guillermos. By comparison, in the United States, which has 20 times the population of Ecuador, there are fewer than 1,700 Lenins.

      Ecuador is also full of Stalins (18,728), Vladimirs (1,518), Leons (860), Roosevelts (587), Hitlers (560), Maos (122) and Trotskys (22).

    • Julian Assange could soon face eviction from Ecuador embassy refuge

      On Sunday 2 April, the second round of the country’s presidential election will be held. Candidates Guillermo Lasso and former vice-president Lenín Moreno are both vying for the position to be Ecuador’s premier, but both men have opposing views over Assange.

    • Ecuador determines its future in key poll – and maybe Assange’s

      In an interview with The Guardian, Lasso said that if elected he would ask Julian Assange to leave Ecuador’s London embassy within 30 days.

      He later confirmed this position in an exchange with the Miami Herald but said he would try to arrange refuge in another country’s embassy so that Assange’s rights are protected.

      How such a transfer would happen is unclear though, and Assange could be apprehended and extradited as soon as he leaves the building.

    • Ecuador Leftist, Ex-Banker Neck and Neck in Tight Presidential Vote

      A leftist ally of President Rafael Correa and a former banker were neck and neck in Ecuador’s presidential election on Sunday, with two exit polls projecting different winners.

      Final results could take days, the electoral council has warned, in a race that could extend a decade of leftist rule or usher in more business-friendly policies in the oil-rich Andean country.

    • Conflicting exit polls cast shadow over Ecuador vote for president
    • Both Ecuador candidates claim victory in presidential runoff

      Three exit polls, including one by a firm that accurately predicted the results of the first-round, showed conservative former banker Guillermo Lasso winning the race by a slim margin of between 3 and 6 percentage points. But a fourth survey gave Correa’s hand-picked successor, Lenin Moreno, a 4-point edge.

    • The Latest: Lasso backers gather at Ecuador election council

      The opposition’s concerns stem from the slow pace of counting during the 8-way, first round in February, when it took three days for electoral authorities to declare that Moreno, who is backed by current President Rafael Correa, had fallen just short of the threshold to win outright.

      Fearing a contested election, church leaders have appealed to both campaigns to accept whatever the results. Electoral authorities have also beefed up security outside the National Electoral Council.

    • Ecuador’s Tax Evading Oligarchs Try to Reconquer the Nation

      The democratic elections of President Rafael Correa in Ecuador have enraged the oligarchs, particularly the wealthiest bankers who ruled and predated on the nation for so many decades. That predation led to a massive banking crisis led by fraudulent elite bankers. Ecuadorians fled the nation in record numbers. Ecuador suffered the highest percentage of emigration in Latin America. Political crises became the norm, with a series of presidents forced to resign within months. Correa and his reform party, Alianza PAIS (AP), changed all this.

      Correa has served his full elected terms of office largely because he met his campaign promises to more than double expenditures on education, health, and infrastructure that have transformed Ecuador and substantially reduced poverty, unemployment, and inequality. Ecuador’s democracy is real. When rival parties won elections in a number of Ecuador’s largest cities, there was a normal, peaceful transition of power to those parties. Ecuador has several major political parties and employs a common democratic means of determining whether the first round of the election results produce such a dominant winner that no run-off election is required. Despite the fact that Mr. Moreno, the AP candidate for the presidency, came within a razor-thin margin of reaching that decisive plurality in the first round, the government required a run-off election in accordance with the law.

    • Ecuadoreans vote in closely watched presidential election

      Ecuador’s presidential vote Sunday is expected to be a close race that could either further tilt Latin America toward the right following a series of conservative election victories or reinforce President Rafael Correa’s “Citizens’ Revolution.”

      Polls showed a neck-and-neck vote between Correa’s hand-picked successor, Lenin Moreno, and conservative former banker Guillermo Lasso. Correa is urging voters to pick the candidate who will continue his policies in support of the poor, while the opposition candidate is promising to deliver a well-needed jolt to the nation’s beleaguered economy.

    • The left tries to make a stand in Ecuadoran election, expected to be close

      Ecuador will elect a new president Sunday, in a vote closely watched across a region already simmering from street protests and heightened political tensions.

      The outcome is expected to be close, and observers fear a contested result that could trigger another South American crisis, after clashes in recent days in Venezuela and Paraguay.

      Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa’s decade in power has left the country sharply divided, and with his legacy on the line, his leftist government has thrown its full weight behind former vice president Lenín Moreno, 64.

    • Julian Assange waits for Ecuador’s election to decide his future

      For Ecuador’s 15 million inhabitants, Sunday’s presidential election runoff will pose a fundamental question: whether to continue with a leftwing government that has reduced poverty but also brought environmental destruction and authoritarian censorship, or to take a chance on a pro-business banker who promises economic growth but is accused of siphoning money to offshore accounts.

      But they are not the only ones for whom the result will be critically important. Thousands of miles away, in the country’s tiny embassy in central London, Julian Assange will be watching closely to see if his four and a half years of cramped asylum could be coming to an abrupt, enforced end.

    • Ecuador no easy win for Latin America’s right

      If recent Latin American history means anything, Ecuador’s runoff vote for president is Guillermo Lasso’s to lose. Conservative and market-friendly, the 61-year-old Guayaquil-born banker rode a swell of discontent over outgoing President Rafael Correa’s mercurial and divisive decade-long rule to reach the second round, that was set for yesterday. Opinion polls showed a tight race with Lasso, of the opposition alliance CREO, running just behind Correa’s pick, Lenin Moreno, of Alianza Pais. The country’s seething opposition is banking on Lasso’s rise as part of a prevailing wind.

    • Ecuador election could determine Julian Assange’s fate

      Ecuadorians go to the polls to elect a new president, a choice that could have repercussions thousands of miles away for the fate of Julian Assange.

      Sunday’s vote pits the government-backed leftist candidate Lenin Moreno against a conservative former banker, Guillermo Lasso.

      Both candidates have spoken during the campaign of how they would deal with Mr Assange, who is holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

    • Factbox: Leftist and Banker Fight for Ecuador Presidency

      Ecuadoreans vote on Sunday to chose whether business-friendly former bank boss Guillermo Lasso or leftist government candidate Lenin Moreno take the reins of the oil-rich Andean nation.

    • ‘Fate of all Latin America being decided at Ecuador election’

      The US has a long history of meddling in Latin American countries. Any leader who stands up to oppose US domination becomes enemy number one, says Daniel Shaw, a professor of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the City University of New York.

      The fate of WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange is now in the hands of Ecuadorian voters, who are electing a new president on Sunday.

      One of the two candidates in the second round, Guillermo Lasso, has promised to evict Assange from the country’s embassy in London, where he’s been living in asylum since 2012.

    • The Latest: Ecuadoreans choosing president in close race

      Ecuador’s presidential vote is expected to be a close race that could either further tilt Latin America toward the right after several conservative election victories or reinforce President Rafael Correa’s “Citizens’ Revolution.”

    • Left or Right? Ecuadoreans Vote in Decisive Presidential Race

      Close to 12.5 million Ecuadoreans, together with almost 400,000 emigrants around the world, were eligible to cast their ballots Sunday in an election that is being characterized as one of contesting visions for the future of the country.

    • Ecuador decides its future, and maybe Assange’s

      Ecuadorans headed to the polls Sunday in a presidential run-off that will turn the page on a decade under leftist Rafael Correa and decide whether the nation follows Latin America’s rightward shift.

      The election could decide the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up at the country’s London embassy since 2012.

      Polls opened at 07:00 (12:00 GMT), with the socialist president’s designated heir, Lenin Moreno, in a tight contest with conservative ex-banker Guillermo Lasso.

    • Assanges fate hinging on Ecuador election

      In the first round of balloting, held on 19 February, Mr Moreno fell just short of the required percentage of votes to avoid a runoff election against Mr Lasso.

      The process was marred by accusations of fraud from both sides and angry protests, as the vote count dragged on for several days before the official results were announced.

    • The Latest: Supporters of both Ecuador candidates jubilant

      An exit poll by Cedatos, which accurately predicted the first-round results, show Lasso winning by a slim 6-point margin but another survey gives a small edge to Moreno.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Salmon farming in crisis: ‘We are seeing a chemical arms race in the seas’

      Every day, salmon farmers across the world walk into steel cages – in the seas off Scotland or Norway or Iceland – and throw in food. Lots of food; they must feed tens of thousands of fish before the day is over. They must also check if there are problems, and there is one particular problem they are coming across more and more often. Six months ago, I met one of these salmon farmers, on the Isle of Skye. He looked at me and held out a palm – in it was a small, ugly-looking creature, all articulated shell and tentacles: a sea louse. He could crush it between his fingers, but said he was impressed that this parasite, which lives by attaching itself to a fish and eating its blood and skin, was threatening not just his own job, but could potentially wipe out a global multibillion-dollar industry that feeds millions of people.

      “For a wee creature, it is impressive. But what can we do?” he asks. “Sometimes it seems nature is against us and we are fighting a losing battle. They are everywhere now, and just a few can kill a fish. When I started in fish farming 30 years ago, there were barely any. Now they are causing great problems.”

      Lepeophtheirus salmonis, or the common salmon louse, now infests nearly half of Scotland’s salmon farms. Last year lice killed thousands of tonnes of farmed fish, caused skin lesions and secondary infections in millions more, and cost the Scottish industry alone around £300m in trying to control them.

    • Trump v. the Earth

      President Trump said that his order puts “an end to the war on coal.” In reality, it is a declaration of war on the basic knowledge of the harm that burning coal, and other fossil fuels, can do. Indeed, it tells the government to ignore information.

    • A south Italian village’s fight against the fossil fuel industry

      Protests have ignited in Italy preventing the construction of Europe’s own Keystone XL – a BP-led gas pipeline designed to lock Europe into fossil fuel use for decades.

    • Budget efficiencies

      Under Donald Trump’s proposed budget, the popular Energy Star program, which has saved consumers $362 billion, will lose its funding.

    • As Seas Around Mar-a-Lago Rise, Trump’s Cuts Could Damage Local Climate Work

      Climate change isn’t a nebulous threat for Palm Beach County, Florida, where sea creatures swim through driveways during seasonal king tides that flood low-lying streets. For years, the county has worked to address the problem by mapping flood risk, upgrading coastal storm protections and creating a regional climate action plan with three other counties. Later this year, local officials hope to host a sea level workshop by Thomas Ruppert, an attorney with the National Sea Grant College Program.

      But if the most prominent resident of Palm Beach County has his way, Sea Grant would cease to exist. President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget seeks to eliminate the $73 million program, along with more than $177 million worth of other initiatives within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, many aimed at protecting communities from climate impacts.

    • Iran is Back: With Int’l Sanctions lifted and Putin Friendly, Tehran is on a Roll

      Iranian petroleum sales to its top four Asian customers rose nearly 60% year on year in March, and total exports have reached nearly 3 million barrels a day. Just four countries accounted for over 2/3s of the total exports– China, India, South Korea and Japan. South Korea and Japan in particular had been strong-armed by the Obama administration to cut oil purchases from Iran, in order to force Tehran to the bargaining table. But international sanctions were lifted in January of 2016, and Iran’s Asian trading partners seem just delighted to ramp up imports.

    • Indigenous and Environmental Groups Sue to Block Trump’s Keystone XL Permit

      Environmentalists have pledged to challenge Trump’s assault on environmental and climate protections in court and warned Republicans in Congress that voters would punish them in the midterms for rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations aimed at reducing air and water pollution.

      Both lawsuits against Trump’s Keystone XL permit were filed in a federal district court in Montana and seek an immediate injunction, which could stall construction of the pipeline.

      The lawsuits are not the pipeline’s only roadblocks. State regulators have yet to approve a plan for the pipeline’s path in Nebraska, where the project is not popular among landowners.

  • Finance

    • Court case ruling may allow Britons to keep their EU citizenship and rights

      Britons might be able to keep their EU citizenship and rights to live, work and claim healthcare across Europe, even if Theresa May walks out of the negotiations with no deal.

      This could depend on the outcome of a legal case brought by four plaintiffs, who are seeking a ruling from the European Court of Justice over whether Article 50 can be revoked without the permission of other EU states.

    • Poorest Britons already feeling the crush of inflation

      Sharply rising inflation since last June’s Brexit vote is already starting to hurt the poorest households in Britain.

      Supermarket chain Asda said on Friday its gauge of disposable income showed the weakest growth since June 2014 during February, with the poorest households hit particularly hard.

    • Feeling rather calm about the Article 50 notification

      While the Article 50 notification was a significant and somehow historic staging post in the Brexit saga, it did not really tell us anything new (with the minor sideshow of veiled threats about security) – neither about the UK government’s approach to Brexit, nor about the deeper political problems the UK is facing. I do not agree with Martin Kettle in The Guardian or The Economist that the notification makes exit all but inevitable now. For the notification to make exit all but inevitable it would mean this was somehow not the case before, but here I differ. The process to start the exit procedure was inevitable; that this procedure will conclude is far from clear as I will explain.

      The Article 50 letter was the consequence of what ultimately is the really shocking development over the past few months: how Parliament, and especially the House of Commons, has sidelined itself in British politics. I had no expectation that the Commons would stop Brexit, but I did at least have the hope it would impose a few criteria on the government, to try to guide the Brexit process. Ultimately the Article 50 Notification Bill passed without a single amendment. Meanwhile the Brexit Committee of the Commons cannot land a blow on David Davis when he admits he has no idea about the economic consequences of crashing out of the EU without a deal, pro-Brexit MPs would sooner walk out of meetings than do proper scrutiny, and the Great Repeal Bill Copy-Paste Bill is to give the executive sweeping powers to adjust the EU law brought into UK law, without the involvement of Parliament. So much for taking back control – take it from Brussels and give it straight to the executive.

    • The White House Wouldn’t Post Trump Staffers’ Financial Disclosures. So We Did.

      In a remarkable Friday night news dump, the Trump administration made dozens of White House staffers’ financial disclosure forms available. But they did it with an extra dose of opacity.

      These are important disclosures from the people who have the president’s ear and shape national policy. They lay out all sorts of details, including information on ownership of stocks, real estate and companies, and make possible conflicts of interest public.

      But the White House required a separate request for each staffer’s disclosure. And they didn’t give the names of the staffers, leaving us to guess who had filed disclosures, a kind of Transparency Bingo.

    • Gibraltar: A Tax Haven Not a Nation

      There are 32,000 Gibraltarians organised into 11,400 households. Extraordinarily there are more registered companies than households, including 8,464 registered offshore companies.

      The Government of Gibraltar’s own website is notably candid about its tax haven activities.

      [...]

      Britnats have been all over twitter this last 24 hours shouting that Gibraltar was given to Britain “in perpetuity” by the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. Thankfully the world has changed since 1713. The Treaty of Utrecht also gave Brazil to Portugal, much of Italy to the Hapsburgs and gave Britain the monopoly on the shipping of African slaves to South America. Thankfully none of those turned out to be perpetual and the British occupation of Gibraltar is equally immoral and anachronistic. That the Foreign and Commonwealth still quotes the Treaty of Utrecht is evidence of the moral bankruptcy of the British government’s position.

      There is a key point here. Empires cannot cloak their continued Imperial possessions under the “right of self-determination” of Imperial client populations. Still less is there a “right of self-determination” for an entire Imperial client population to leech off tax avoidance activities by virtue of their Imperial possession status. The right of self-determination does not apply to the colonists of Gibraltar, who like the Falklanders are an introduced Imperial population – contrary to myth the large majority of Gibraltarians are not descended from the original Spanish population. Gibraltar is plainly listed by the UN as a Non Self Governing Territory. Self-determination is not applicable in international law. UN General Assembly Resolution 2353 specifically asserted that Gibraltar is a colony which impinges on the territorial integrity of Spain and thus on Spanish right to self-determination, and that a referendum of the colonial population could not change that.

      [...]

      The Daddy of them all. The Britnats who crowed repeatedly at Scots, extolling alleged (and improbable) Spanish desire to veto Scottish EU membership, are shocked, shocked that Spain may veto a Brexit settlement over Gibraltar.

      Anyway, to cheer up you Britnats, here is a picture of the massive audience for Theresa May’s recent Glasgow speech. Dressed as Rolf Harris. Altogether now “Please Don’t Alter Gibraltar”.

    • Trump’s Foreign Aid Proposal Leaves the U.S. on a Sinking Island

      When beginning the discussion regarding foreign aid policies in the United States, one must first establish a few basic facts. While most Americans estimate that foreign aid takes roughly 15-20% of our nation’s GNI (gross national income) in reality it actually constitutes far less than 1% of it (approximately 0.17%)1.. While the United States currently contributes the highest amount of money to foreign aid, just over 30 billion, in terms of percent of GNI it ranks nearly 20th. Donald Trump’s recent proposal aims to slash foreign aid by 28% and cut some programs entirely while increasing the budget for the military by 54 billion dollars. Despite those facts and figures, foreign aid is much more than that; it is a narrative of people. Over 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day, and according to UNICEF 22,000 children die each day due to poverty and more than 750 million people lack access to clean drinking water.2. Poverty, starvation and illness are huge issues for developing nations; however, foreign aid is much more than a charity case and needs to be taken seriously when considering the fate of our own country. By cutting foreign aid, Trump is setting the United States up for economic failure, vulnerability to disease and disaster and increased political conflict.

    • Neoliberalism Is Killing Us: Economic Stress as a Driver of Global Depression and Suicide

      In anticipation of World Health Day on April 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report showing rates of depression increased 18 percent between 2005 and 2015, now estimated to afflict over 300 million people worldwide. Approximately 800,000 people commit suicide each year. According to the WHO, poverty and unemployment are leading causes.

      To be sure, mental health services are in critically short supply globally. While often correlated with poverty, mental illnesses can cause misery regardless of one’s socioeconomic status.

    • Larry Summers Had the Power to Punish Wall Street. Now He’s Slamming Obama’s Gentle Treatment.

      As head of Barack Obama’s National Economic Council during 2009 and 2010 at the height of the foreclosure crisis, Larry Summers broke many promises to help homeowners while simultaneously dismissing Wall Street’s criminality. Now, after the Obama administration has left power and Summers has no ability to influence anything, he finds himself “disturbed” that settlements for mortgage misconduct are full of lies. Those of us who screamed exactly this for years, when Summers might have been able to do something about it, are less than amused.

      In Wednesday’s Washington Post, Summers writes about a “large systematic overstatement” of the burden actually felt by banks in various mortgage settlements. Typically with these settlements, the Justice Department announces a headline dollar amount that the media uncritically prints in their headlines. But that number bears no relation to reality.

    • On Economic Patriotism: Capitalist Nationalism and the Making of American Political Identity

      It is frequently said that Americans are the most patriotic population in the world. From childhood we are taught that we are the highest-minded, richest, most free, most democratic country, and therefore most fit to be the global hegemon. School kids don’t get ‘hegemon’, so they are taught that their country is the world’s sole superpower, and, for the safety of the world, must remain so. Surely something to be proud of. Since the end of the Second World War, a swollen media and entertainment establishment has drummed this message into our heads ceaselessly. The effectiveness of this kind of indoctrination is evident in a uniquely American phenomenon, the display of the flag everywhere – at checkout counters, on cars, on lawns, from home windows. Only in America. Even as Americans disapprove of this or that war, the flag is never taken down.

    • Oligarchy in America

      Needless to say, equal citizenship does not make social and economic inequalities go away. It does, however, establish a kind of political equality – at least in theory. In practice, self-described democracies have sometimes accommodated egregious political inequalities. This was what the civil rights movement in the United States was mainly about; and it has been, and still is, a major concern of feminists in the United States and around the world.

    • Trump Builds a Watergate All His Own

      In December, Rudert and the American Bar Association filed suit against the DOE charging that the agency acted “arbitrarily and capriciously.”

      “The idea that approvals can be reversed at any time, with no explanation, is chilling for borrowers,” Cowley observed, and is incredibly worrisome for the “first wave of qualified workers will be eligible to submit applications for debt forgiveness in October.”

      While the scandal falls under the purview of the Obama administration, many fear that recently-installed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will be no friend of student borrowers. One of DeVos’ first acts earlier this month was to reverse an Obama-era guidance which limited fees debt collectors could charge on student loans.

    • Unhappy Ukippers? Maybe Europe wasn’t the issue…

      A dramatic photo-essay played out on the front pages of the newspapers last week. On Tuesday: a snap of Theresa May solemnly signing a letter. On Wednesday: one of Sir Tim Barrow solemnly handing it over to the disapproving president of the European council, Donald “Tsk” Tusk. I didn’t buy a paper on Thursday as I didn’t have the stomach for the inevitable picture of Tusk solemnly wiping his arse with it. I’d already got the gist.

      Please excuse the remoaning. I know it’s frowned upon. It wasn’t for this that all those elderly Leave supporters dragged themselves out to vote! This isn’t what they fought a war for! Though not many of them actually did that. Those guys are mainly dead. The Few are now the Fewer, soon to be the None. So I should say: this isn’t what they, in many cases, lived through a bit of the war for (but often as infants so they can’t really remember it)!

      If they can’t remember it, perhaps that explains why they’re so sanguine about renouncing an institution that’s done more than any other in history to preserve peace between the major nations of Europe. I wonder if their parents would have been so hasty. The demobbed Tommies who voted for Attlee over Churchill might not have been as easily convinced as their children have been that youngsters with foreign accents working in coffee shops is such a diabolical threat to Britain’s values and existence. They’d probably seen worse.

    • Don’t call Brexit a divorce – it will be much, much worse

      Thank God. Never again will those impossible people on the other side of the Channel be able to interfere in our affairs. Now we can take back control and sit back and watch their union fall apart. Those, of course, were the sentiments of European leaders last Wednesday as they opened the envelope containing Theresa May’s notification of Britain’s intention to withdraw from the European Union.

      Publicly, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, expressed his regret. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, called Brexit a “tragedy”. Privately, however, I suspect they both punched the air when the letter from London arrived, just as Boris Johnson did when he inadvertently won last June’s referendum.

      Until now, nearly all the debate on Brexit has focused on what it means for the UK. But I begin to think the real significance of Brexit may be what it means for the EU.

    • Brexit and Away!

      The language is crudely suggestive of Britain as indispensable (you need us more than we need you), and Europe as vulnerable to security breaches that Britain might well assist in repelling. Britain may well be leaving the arrangement, but it still wants access to Europe’s markets and consequent privileges.

      [...]

      Social media followers of various shades welcomed “Brexit Day” as a sign writ in the sky, though much of this was more tired than revelatory. Finally, the theme went, the divorce papers had been filed. Britain was leaving a marriage regarded by the Leavers as problematic from the start.

      As with such decisions, many who support it are those who will suffer least, having not been direct beneficiaries to begin with. At most, they do not see the vast subsidies and grants provided by the EU as having had a visible impact, despite such provision going straight into public services. The failure to articulate that point by the Remain campaign was acute as it was disastrous.

    • A shared-space solution to Ireland’s Brexit Border problem

      A hard Brexit spells trouble for life on both sides of the Irish Border and our only hope, as all seem to agree, is to establish a special relationship with mainland Britain and the continental EU.

      But what relationship should we seek? If only for the sake of further discussion, and without exploring difficulties of detail (where the devil surely lurks), I would like to propose a shared-space model.

      The idea would be to allow a free passage of people and goods between both parts of the island but to introduce strict rules governing movement into and out of that space. Rules for entry and exit, which might be by air or sea or even cyberspace, would vary depending on whether the point of departure or destination was in mainland Britain, the continental EU, or a country elsewhere.

    • Capitalism Produced Trump: Another Reason to Move Beyond It

      For politicians, acting as scapegoats for capitalism’s systemic dysfunction is especially arduous during its recurring crises. At such moments, they are quick to identify others upon whom to offload as much of their scapegoat status as possible. Likely targets include immigrants, foreigners, religious or ethnic minorities, terrorists and so on. Capitalism’s politics turn ugly and can become lethal.

      What if Trump and Bannon’s actions are not followed by sufficiently rising jobs and incomes? What if their popular base begins to turn against them and heed their detractors? What will Trump and Bannon do? To accept defeat and abandon their project is less likely than to ratchet up the scapegoating: more deportations, more refugee bans, more deregulation, more foreigner-bashing, more saber-rattling and risks of war. And with that comes more demonization and repression of those who will likewise ratchet up their questioning or disapproval.

      The particular history of US opposition to German, Italian and Japanese fascisms in the 20th century muddies fascism’s prospects here in the 21st. Trump and Bannon avoid overt fascism at this stage. Fascism will more likely come later, reluctantly “necessitated” by obstacles they denounce as illegitimately raised against their program. Endless reassurances that fascism is not happening would probably accompany a kind of backing into it.

    • Britain’s brutal encounter with reality

      NINE tumultuous months after Britons voted to leave the European Union, the real Brexit process is at last under way. Theresa May’s dispatch of a letter to the European Council on March 29th, invoking Article 50 of the EU treaty, marked the point at which Britain’s withdrawal from the union became all but inevitable. For half the country’s population this was a moment to celebrate; for the other half, including this newspaper, it marked a bleak day. The future of both camps—and of the EU itself—now depends on what Mrs May does next.

      The negotiations are sure to be difficult (see article). Time is short, since Article 50 comes with a two-year deadline. The task of unwinding Britain’s membership of the club is fearsomely complex. Neither side is well prepared. In Britain, where Brexit increasingly resembles a faith-based initiative, voters have been given wildly unrealistic expectations of the Utopia ahead. Their first contact with the reality of losing preferential access to their main market will be traumatic. Unless Mrs May can persuade the Brexiteers on her own side that they must accept concessions, Britain may end up flouncing out of Europe without any deal at all.

    • Brexit and Britain’s delusions of empire

      Brexit has begun, and British Prime Minister Theresa May now faces the unenviable task of settling her nation’s divorce from the European Union while also figuring out how to make up for the potentially ruinous costs of the break.

      A first step of sorts took place Thursday when May’s government published plans to convert thousands of E.U. laws into British ones — what my colleague Karla Adam describes as “a gigantic ’cut and paste’ job, repatriating 40 years of powers from Brussels to London.” Dubbed the “Great Repeal Bill,” the move is a bid by British leaders to calm the justifiable fears of millions of Britons — and European nationals living in the country — who are worried about Brexit’s effect on their daily lives.

      But it’s Brexit supporters who may be in line for a real shock. Even beyond the coming “traumatic” loss of access to the E.U.’s market — as the Economist put it — the promise of a politically resurgent Britain is likely to fall flat.

    • Which People Have Spoken?

      What we had going – awkwardly, imperfectly – was a compromise that allowed us and you to co-exist. We were in the EU, but the EU was only a union, not a state – it didn’t go around saying the Queen wasn’t the queen and it was cool with you keeping your nice money that you like. It let you be British and it let us be European. It was a good solution to our problem. The fact that there were two peoples, two demoi, living on this island didn’t render the island dysfunctional because we had a constitutional setup that allowed us both to be largely, if not entirely, fulfilled in our day to day experience of citizenship.

      You’ve broken that. You’ve thrown it away and it will never, ever, ever be OK.

    • The growing divide between the haves and the have-nots, in one stunning chart

      The 1% tend to sweep it under their elegant Persian rugs, while those struggling to make rent scream it from the unemployment line: Inequality in the United States is bad and it’s only getting worse.

      To further the discussion, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, this week shared research from a trio of contributors, led by French economist Thomas Piketty, in an attempt “to create inequality statistics for the U.S. that overcome the limitations of existing data.”

    • The Wrong Way to Debunk Trump’s Pipeline Jobs Claims

      There’s a right and a wrong way to debunk the right-wing myth about jobs and the environment. As a refresher, here are the basics of that myth: Jobs in the extractive industry are an invaluable engine of job creation and a key driver of economic growth. People concerned about the environment want to kill projects, like the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, that would provide jobs and help stimulate the economy.

      [...]

      But here’s how not to dispel fossil fuel industry talking points: noting the disparity between part-time and full-time construction jobs. Since the Keystone XL’s permit was approved by the State Department last Friday, a number of outlets—including those with a specifically environmentalist bent—re-upped a statistic that made the rounds before the project was squashed back in 2015, stating that the project will create just 35 permanent jobs. The State Department estimates that the Keystone XL pipeline will create some 42,000 direct and indirect jobs, 50 of which will be permanent. Fifteen of the 50 jobs are temporary contracts, leaving just 35 people with ongoing jobs maintaining the pipeline. This line of argument contends the fact that so few of these positions are permanent means that Trump’s jobs argument is an elaborate rouse.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Russia Hacking Fiasco: No Evidence Required

      The Russia hacking fairytale is the biggest joke in history. I can’t believe we’re even wasting time on it. Unfortunately, gullible liberals have taken the bait, hook, line and sinker. A recent CBS poll shows that 67% of Democrats think Russia interfered in the election to help Trump, while only 13% of Republicans believe the same. (CBS News)

      What does it all mean? Are Democrats more prone to believe uncorroborated politically-motivated rubbish than Republicans or are they just so blinded by their hatred for Trump that they’ll accept any dirt the media dishes up?

    • Activists Worry That Social Media Vetting of Visa Applicants Could Quietly Expand Trump’s Muslim Ban

      Shah also expressed concern that the social media vetting will allow the State Department to bar admission to people because they have expressed certain political viewpoints. “The first thing that occurred to me when I read the Reuters story was that this could enable the Trump administration to block people from entering the country who had been on the ground in Iraq and Syria, people like our researchers.”

    • The neoliberal economics of family life

      The rapidity with which the Trump administration has set about dismantling what remains of publicly-funded institutions and facilities in the US begs some crucial questions: what was the prior state of welfare provision in American society? What battles have been fought on questions of social security over the last 50 years, and what was the public policy landscape that contributed to his victory?

    • Big Stakes in the French Presidential Election: Governance Versus the People

      Hillary Clinton actually chose to use the word “governance” to describe her goals, in partnership with Goldman Sachs and other representatives of “civil society”. But even she was not as much a pure product of the globalization system as the French candidate Emmanuel Macron.

    • The campaign to put science and tech leaders in public office starts now

      There’s a growing trend of scientists and engineers seeking public office, many of whom say they’re reacting to the cabinet picks and policy decisions from the new Trump Administration, which in many cases have been at odds with science.

    • Democrats Need to Call Mitch McConnell’s Bluff and Filibuster Neil Gorsuch

      But most importantly, Democrats should block Gorsuch because they have nothing to lose but an undemocratic remnant of a bygone era known as the filibuster. And while the filibuster protects the minority, in the long run, it’s more likely to benefit Republicans than Democrats.

    • The deep state now works for the ‘good guys’

      From arch villain to superhero. Lately, that’s been FBI director James Comey’s unlikely career trajectory courtesy of many so-called progressive writers.

      Recall that late last October these scribes seemed poised, even eager, to get their angry mitts on Comey so they could tar and feather him (or worse) after he made public a letter that revealed the FBI had resurrected its probe into Hillary Clinton’s email habits.

    • Roaming Charges: A Pruitt Runs Through It

      Steve Bannon, the Trump Whisperer, sees his mission as the destruction of the administrative state. At a metaphorical level, one might precisely describe this project as a kind of bureaucratic strip-mining, where the internal viscera of federal agencies are extracted and the remains are left to subside in a heap of off-gassing toxic debris to poison whatever other federal workers remain in close proximity.

    • Democratic Senators Ask Jeff Sessions to Explain Preet Bharara Firing

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions should explain whether the firing of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara had anything to do with Bharara’s reported probe into stock trades by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, three Democratic U.S. senators said Tuesday.

      Price came under scrutiny during his confirmation hearings for investments he made while serving in Congress — including hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shares in health-related companies, even as he voted on and sponsored legislation affecting the industry.

      In their letter to Sessions, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley and Richard Blumenthal referred to a ProPublica story, which cited a person familiar with the office as saying that Bharara was overseeing an investigation of Price’s actions. They asked whether Sessions, President Trump or other officials in the Justice Department or White House were aware of such a probe before they removed Bharara, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan.

    • Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Still Benefiting From Business Empire, Filings Show

      Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, will remain the beneficiaries of a sprawling real estate and investment business still worth as much as $740 million, despite their new government responsibilities, according to ethics filings released by the White House Friday night.

      [....]

      Mr. Bannon disclosed $191,000 in consulting fees he earned from Breitbart News Network, the conservative media organization, $125,333 from Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for the Trump campaign, and $61,539 in salary from the Government Accountability Institute, a conservative nonprofit organization. All three are backed by Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, financiers and major Republican donors.

      Mr. Bannon’s most valuable asset was Bannon Strategic Advisors Inc., a privately held consulting firm into which income from his other investments appeared to flow. It was valued at between $5 million and $25 million. He also held bank accounts valued at up to $2.25 million, and rental real estate worth as much as $10.5 million.

    • Identity politics: everybody does it (and it’s ok too)

      In the wake of Donald Trump’s election victory, there is a critique of the liberal left that goes something like this: the left has been too preoccupied with identity politics and too little with egalitarian economic policies. Trump’s victory is a result of this because the left had divided the electorate into identity groups, and therefore they were unable to claim to represent the nation or the people as a whole.

    • ‘Dark money’ is threat to integrity of UK elections, say leading academics

      An urgent review of “weak and helpless” electoral laws is being demanded by a group of leading academics who say that uncontrolled “dark money” poses a threat to the fundamental principles of British democracy.

      A working group set up by the London School of Economics warns that new technology has disrupted British politics to such an extent that current laws are unable to ensure a free and fair election or control the influence of money in politics.

      Damian Tambini, director of the media policy project at the LSE, who heads the group made up of leading experts in the field, said that new forms of online campaigning had not only changed the ways that political parties target voters but, crucially, had also altered the ability of big money interests to manipulate political debate. “There is a real danger we are heading down the US route where whoever spends the most money is most likely to win. That’s why we’ve always controlled spending in this country. But these controls are no longer working.”

    • Our Dishonest President

      His scary willingness to repeat alt-right conspiracy theories, racist memes and crackpot, out-of-the-mainstream ideas. Again, it is not clear whether he believes them or merely uses them. But to cling to disproven “alternative” facts; to retweet racists; to make unverifiable or false statements about rigged elections and fraudulent voters; to buy into discredited conspiracy theories first floated on fringe websites and in supermarket tabloids — these are all of a piece with the Barack Obama birther claptrap that Trump was peddling years ago and which brought him to political prominence. It is deeply alarming that a president would lend the credibility of his office to ideas that have been rightly rejected by politicians from both major political parties.

    • How China Bought Trump

      Candidate Trump was pretty hard on China, terming the country a “currency manipulator,” which, arguably, it appears to be. He promised that on day one of his presidency, he’d officially label the country as such, which would be his first step toward placing a 45 percent import tariff on Chinese goods. Once in office, Trump took his rhetoric up a notch and shocked the diplomatic world by also threatening to end the United State’s One China policy, which was instated by Richard Nixon as a condition of normalizing relationships between the US and China.

      [...]

      Trump apologists in the Republican Party were quick to walk back his threats to blow up the One China policy, explaining that their leader was just doing what he does best, throwing out an opening salvo and maneuvering into position for negotiating and deal-making—his signature skill. Our trade relations with China, born in the Nixon administration and amped up and refined under the free-trading Ronald Reagan’s tutelage, are, according to the amnesiac Trump, a “terrible deal” cooked up by “worst president in history,” Barack Obama. Trump’s apocalyptic moves to release military and economic chaos between the US and China, we’re supposed to believe, actually belied skillful bargaining to pressure China to walk back “Obama’s” terrible, terrible deal. An unbelievably bad deal.

    • Why Has Trust in Media Collapsed? Look at Actions of WSJ, Yahoo, Business Insider and Slate.

      Yet in this case, only one of the media outlets that published what is now a significant and documented falsehood — Brazil’s Folha — has even acknowledged these new documents. In Folha’s case, they did so lamely and grudgingly: Rather than add an editor’s note or correction to their original story by reporter Igor Gielow (which still stands uncorrected), they published a short news article about these new hotel documents, which merely noted that I claim that these new documents “resolve a mystery” about Snowden. The Folha article also neglects to note that they were one of the outlets originally publishing the false story. But at least they said something.

    • Democrats’ Blind Obsession on Russia-gate

      It’s a cool story about treason, international intrigue and hot babes, but it’s no more convincing than “Birthergate” was seven or eight years ago. Putin would have required superhuman powers to predict that Trump would become president at a time when no one other than “The Simpsons” thought he had a chance. The “golden showers” episode, in which Trump’s female hires supposedly urinated on the same bed that Barack and Michelle Obama used on one of their official Russian visits, is unverified and probably unverifiable as well.

    • Organize the White Working Class!

      The new civil rights movement has challenged white activists to confront white racism at a time of economic and workplace conflict. The never ending recession of 2008 has intensified wealth inequality across the board with the upward redistribution of wealth falling hardest on Americans of color.1 Good full time jobs are going and in all likelihood they are not coming back.

      There is a widespread understanding that the economy and political system are rigged. One of the main rigs is the class line: corporate power now controls the economy and government wielding both great wealth and global political power.

    • Pirate Party Want Referendum To Restart EU Talks

      The Pirate Party have put forth an EU referendum proposal to restart negotiations with the European Union, reports RÚV.

      The Pirate Party suggest a referendum for the spring of 2018, with the simple question: “Would you like the government to restart accession negotiations with the European Union for Iceland’s possible membership?”

      With two simple options, Yes or No.

    • How the Trump Administration Responds to Democrats’ Demands for Information: It Doesn’t.

      When billionaire investor Wilbur Ross was going through the confirmation process to become President Trump’s commerce secretary, Senate Democrats wanted answers about Ross’ role as the vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, which has significant dealings with Russian oligarchs.

      The administration’s answer: crickets.

      Ross’ handlers had initially assured Commerce committee staff that Ross would respond to their Feb. 16 questions, according to a congressional staffer. But a response never came.

      The White House was sitting on Ross’ written answers and refusing to hand them over, as Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., complained in a floor speech. “It is behavior that everyone in this Senate should agree is unacceptable and should not be tolerated,” Nelson said.

    • Judge: Trump Incited Violence Against Protesters At Kentucky Rally

      A federal judge in Kentucky is allowing a lawsuit by three protesters assaulted at a Donald Trump campaign rally last March to move forward, agreeing with the plaintiffs that Trump’s call from the podium for his supporters to “get ‘em out of here” incited rally-goers to physically attack them.

      The three protesters have sued Trump for incitement, vicarious liability, negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness.

      The opinion, from U.S. District Judge David J. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky, denied most of Trump’s motion to dismiss the charges, saying that his angry demand for the removal of the protesters was “particularly reckless.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • China’s ‘Great Firewall’ of censorship is yet another trade barrier, says Adam Minter

      The San Francisco-based photo-sharing site Pinterest would seem to rank low on the list of potential threats to China. Beloved by fashion designers, photographers, cooks and hobbyists, the 7-year-old website is a global hub for the sharing of images, trends and ideas on topics ranging from living-room design to what to cook at a Saturday barbecue.

    • Will social media censorship fix anything? [Opinion]

      ful speech and total bipartisanship. The rise of Donald Trump has allowed masses of hateful people to be proud of their prejudiced and ignorant views. Locally, movements like #FeesMustFall brought a barrage of racist comments and posts all over social media.

      Right now, platforms like Twitter and Facebook are cracking down on ‘fake news’ and hate speech. The latter has made it harder for blatantly false articles to make a home on the platform. Twitter has been working tirelessly to engineer a balance between preventing hate speech and harassment without impeding the right to free speech.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • New backdoor laws for encrypted apps? Europe eyes options but expects a fight

      The encryption debate is about to heat up again in Europe, with EU justice commissioner Věra Jourová revealing that she’s under pressure from European national interior ministers to do something about the problems law-enforcement agencies have accessing encrypted data and communications.

      She says she will announce “three or four options” to help law enforcement get a “swift, reliable response” from companies such as Facebook-owned WhatsApp that offer end-to-end encryption.

    • Do the FBI and Department of Justice Want to Collect the Photo of Every American Face?

      The FBI also appears to have broken the law by not putting out privacy impact and need-of-use assessments. Diana Maurer, director of homeland security and justice issues at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), told the panel that no one has tested the accuracy of the technology since 2011, before its implementation. Maurer said the FBI needed to provide evidence that the technology was making a difference in helping its operative needs. The FBI also has its own requirements for annual operational reviews, which were never conducted.

    • John Prescott reveals spies defied orders and tapped the phone of the late Rev Ian Paisley

      Spooks tapped the phone of the late Ulster firebrand the Rev Ian Paisley – despite orders not to spy on MPs.

      Former Deputy PM John Prescott lifts the lid on the extraordinary breach in his Sunday Mirror column today .

      He reveals how Tony Blair told him in 2005 that security services had eavesdropped on an MP.

    • Security services tapped Ian Paisley’s phone when he was an MP, claims Prescott

      The security services tapped the phone of the late Ian Paisley while he was an MP, Lord Prescott has claimed.

      The firebrand leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had his calls tapped despite a long-standing convention that MPs should not have their communications monitored, the former deputy prime minister said.

      Lord Prescott said then prime minister Tony Blair told him in 2005 that security services had eavesdropped on an MP.

    • Freedom and privacy should never be destroyed under the guise of national security

      Four people lost their lives and dozens were injured at the hands of a home-grown terrorist . But after an atrocity we often see two other possible casualties – freedom and privacy.

      Khalid Masood used the encrypted message system WhatsApp on his phone before the attack.

      Home Secretary Amber Rudd then demanded WhatsApp end its encryption, a crazy move that would allow criminals and foreign governments to hack the messages.

      The security services didn’t join her call. Probably because they know how to do it anyway.

      Over in the US, it was claimed our spies were involved in tapping Trump’s team in the run-up to the election. GCHQ ’s chief described the claim as “ridiculous”.

    • More Dangerous than NSA: The US Spy Agency You’ve Never Heard Of

      If you’re one of the countless Americans who was distraught to learn of the revelations made by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, the mere idea that there might be yet another agency out there – perhaps just as powerful and much more intrusive – should give you goosebumps.

    • BEWARE! Google now knows you are watching porn
    • Smart TV hack embeds attack code into broadcast signal—no access required

      A new attack that uses terrestrial radio signals to hack a wide range of Smart TVs raises an unsettling prospect—the ability of hackers to take complete control of a large number of sets at once without having physical access to any of them.

    • HTC is introducing ads inside Vive and will track when you’re looking [iophk: "this would make the treament sessions from A Clockwork Orange so much easier to deploy"]

      “Ads that appear in immersive VR environments can not only provide more effective impressions, they can also track whether the users have viewed them or have turned away their gaze. Accordingly, the multiplied effect of effective impressions and verified viewings will bring you higher advertising revenue!” HTC explains.

    • Palmer Luckey is leaving Facebook following Trump and ZeniMax controversy
    • In mining user data, U.S. ISPs must weigh cash vs. privacy
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Stockholm venue suspends club nights due to repeated sexual assaults

      A popular nightlife spot in Stockholm has put several of its club nights on hold following an increase in sexual assault, violence and thefts, the venue announced.

    • The Muslim Brotherhood Swoops into Sweden

      In fact, they could easily fact-check the report simply by checking the website of the primary group mentioned in the report, the Islamic Association in Sweden (IFSI), which clearly states (at the bottom of the linked page) that it is a member of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE), generally acknowledged as an umbrella organization for local Muslim Brotherhood organizations from all over Europe.

    • Islamic Fundamentalism Calls For The Execution of Ayaz Nizami

      Ayaz Nizami is an Atheist and an ex-muslim blogger. He is the vice president of the Atheist and Agnostic Alliance Pakistan. When Ayaz was still Muslim he was interested in learning more about his faith, and furthered his education into the subject. He applied and was accepted to an Islamic studies school. It was at this school that he started to doubt his religion. Despite his doubt he still finished his education at the school. On the no longer accessible Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan blog it was written that Ayaz was educated on the subjects of, “Tafseer, Principles of Tafseer, Hadith, Principles of Hdith, Fiqh. Principles of fiqh, Arabic language (grammar, vocabulary, and literature), philosophy & logic.” Through this education Ayaz reached the deviant conclusion that it is all “a mere creation of the human brain and are a bi-product of culture and civilisations in the world especially the Middle East.” After that he decided he wanted help his perspective reach other people within his country.

    • Sexual paranoia on campus – and the professor at the eye of the storm

      Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, which gathers all that she learned about this netherworld together, is a slim but caustic volume the imminent publication of which, Kipnis believes, is likely to test the limits of what can and can’t be said about the current situation in many, if not most, American universities – though in fact the reckoning has already begun.

    • A panty liner triggers a TSA pat-down just one step removed from a pap smear

      “I started to ask if I had done something wrong or if this was ‘random,’ but before I could get a second word out, the TSA agent yelled at me,” Harris told me. “She grabbed my throat hard, causing me to choke and cough. She yelled at me for coughing. She then put her hands inside my bra and panties and groped my private parts with the front, not the back, of her gloved hand. Afterward, I worried that I may have been infected if she had groped someone else without changing gloves. Her attitude was so threatening and hostile, that I was afraid to look at her face and name plate.”

    • Save A Doctor Visit And Your Co-Pay: Get Your Pap Smear From The TSA Next Time You Fly
    • 20 killed in apparent cult ritual at Pakistan shrine; custodian and 4 others held
    • Philippines’ Duterte invites EU critics, wants to ‘slap them’

      The Southeast Asian leader lashed out on the EU last week for hypocrisy and called the bloc “sons of bitches” for recommending a rehabilitation-centered solution to the drugs problem.

    • Fort Hood shooter plans hunger strike to protest ‘America’s hatred’ for Sharia law

      Convicted Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan says he will go on a “hunger strike” to protest “America’s hatred” for Sharia law.

    • Inside Australia’s ‘Super mosque’ prison where guards fear radical {sic} Muslims are plotting terrorist acts [iophk: "super incubator"]
    • A year in my life as a Brexit bargaining chip

      I moved back to the UK in January 2016. I like to say “move back”, because that’s how it feels – I loved living in London so much during my Erasmus year that I always intended to come work here after graduation.

      I am French, and a journalist, and live in north London. I refer to the UK as “home”. By all appearances, in January 2016 I am part of what budding Brexiteers call the “liberal elite”, even though I rent a single room and my most expensive possession after my laptop is a teapot.

      But by June, I have been given a new label. I am now one of the 3 million “EU citizens in the UK”. As Britain heads toward turbulent negotiations to leave the European Union, following a referendum in which I did not have a vote, I have become a “bargaining chip”.

      [...]

      I also eagerly register to vote – another right of mine in the UK under EU rules, for local and European elections. And I am excited: I will have a vote in the London mayoral election.

      I closely follow the referendum campaign. “Vote Remain” signs and stickers are omnipresent in my neighbourhood. I feel reassured. So do the other EU nationals quietly passing me in the street. “I don’t recall seeing any Leave Campaign. It made me think it would be an easy win,” echoes Tiago Gomes, 27, a Portuguese musician.

      In the pub, I get into a testy exchange with an acquaintance who holds French and British passports and is proudly campaigning for Leave. I struggle to understand why. Maybe, just like Ukip leader Nigel Farage, he knows he has a way out, if it all goes to shit.

      [...]

      Elena Paolini, 51, an Italian translator married to Brit who has lived in London for 27 years, says she doesn’t believe EU nationals will be deported, but she is concerned about her access to the NHS, pensions or bank accounts. She asks out loud the question that has been floating in all our minds for months: “Will I be considered a second rate citizen?”

    • New Evidence Undermines EU Report Tying Refugee Rescue Group To Smugglers

      Last month, an Italian prosecutor opened an investigation into whether nonprofits working to rescue refugees in the Mediterranean had connections to smuggling operations.

      “We want to know who is behind all these humanitarian groups that have proliferated in the last few years,” the prosecutor said, and “where all the money they have is coming from.”

      The implication of the investigation is inflammatory: Why would humanitarian groups want to have anything do with human traffickers or smugglers?

    • Excusing Bahrain’s Human Rights Abuses

      The Trump administration has decided to remove any conditions regarding human rights from sales of F-16 fighter aircraft and other arms to Bahrain. The rationale for doing so is the idea that hard power considerations ought to come before softer concerns for the rights of someone else’s citizens.

    • Obama’s Bulwark against Torture: Will It Stop Trump?

      Just after President Trump’s Inauguration, a draft of an executive order was leaked which indicated his intent to seek a formal review on whether to resume ill-treatment. Of course, we know that during his campaign he famously stated that he would authorize waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse.” But shortly after the leak, reports emerged of a pull-back from that policy. Though the president explained that this shift was due to the position of his Secretary of Defense, General Mattis, it is necessary to also look at former President Obama’s efforts to turn the page on America’s sordid chapter of torture. A barricade was indeed constructed to help guard against its return, and it is well worth noting this as a contributing factor.

      After 9/11 Bush administration lawyers issued opinions stating that certain abusive treatment did not meet the legal definition of torture. Yet their interpretation of federal statutes and international law was considered erroneousfar and wide once the memos were disclosed by an unauthorized leaker.

      To relegate these distorted readings to the dustbin of history, Obama signed an executive order on his second day in office restricting all interrogations — by the military, the C.I.A. and private contractors — to only the techniques outlined in the Army Field Manual. Seven years later, the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act then codified that order into federal law.

    • Life in the Balance

      The human body has become the battleground of political meaning, again

      [...]

      It is catching on. Recently, Bernie Sanders held a nationally televised town hall in West Virginia where people told stories of addiction and loss, fear and sickness. He asked a coal miner who voted for Trump if he thought America should have national health care. The man, awkward in the sincere way of someone not used to cameras said, “I think every American citizen should have healthcare” and the crowd roared its approval.

    • I Have DACA, but That Didn’t Stop Trump’s Immigration Agents From Arresting Me

      Then almost three years ago, after President Obama enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, I applied for it. DACA status would mean that I could attend school and work. I wouldn’t need to be afraid. When I got DACA, I was full of excitement at getting a chance. I was a dreamer.

    • Thousands sign petition against London shop worker’s deportation

      Thousands of people have signed an online petition to protest against the deportation of a popular London shop worker detained by immigration officers the day after article 50 was triggered who has lived in the UK for 26 years.

      Stojan Jankovic, 53, known as “Stoly”, who fled former Yugoslavia in 1991, was detained without warning on Thursday and told he could be deported as early as Tuesday.

    • Don’t call him Dima: Russia’s anti-corruption protesters face repression

      Today, we start a new partnership with OVD-Info, an NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia. Every Friday, we’ll bring you the latest information on freedom of assembly.

      The past week’s main event has been, of course, the mass arrests across Russia in connection with Sunday’s anti-corruption protests. Moscow is leading the numbers. According to our monitoring, the city has seen an unprecedented number of detentions — 1,043 people at 53 police stations in the Russian capital.

    • Why the European Dream of Integration Won’t Die

      Though the EU is currently embroiled in an enveloping crisis, with centrifugal political parties growing in strength across its member states, and despite Brexit delivering the EU’s permanence an ontological blow, the concept of a united Europe will continue to be an attractive one on both historical and philosophical grounds.

      The idea of uniting Europe, or forging a united Europe, has tantalized philosophers, emperors, dictators, revolutionaries, and figures on both the left and right of the political spectrum for centuries. With so many different nation states occupying a relatively small part of the world, each with their own unique culture, language, history, and story, Europe has been at the centre of historical events since the Renaissance of the 15th century triggered the continent’s emergence from the Dark Ages, which ensued following the collapse of the western Roman Empire around 500 CE.

    • Violence: Theirs and Ours

      Two months ago, the head of the Metropolitan Police said that “warning lights are flashing” over the rise of violent crime across England and Wales. The preferred weapon, said Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, was the common knife. Violent crime had risen by twenty-two percent, with the last quarter of 2016 registering 30,838 crimes committed with knives. Masood’s crime could well have been read alongside this data, as a serious problem of an increase in violence with knives as the weapon of choice.

      [...]

      I have spent decades thinking about the asymmetry of reactions to these sorts of incidents in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. I have written about them, indignation as the mood of these essays. But this is spitting into the wind. It is futile on Facebook, for instance, to make the suggestion that the 2016 Karrada bombings in Baghdad (Iraq), which killed over 300 people, should have driven people to turn their profile pictures into Iraqi flags (as the world had done after the 2015 Paris attacks, when 137 people were killed). “Je Suis Charlie” is easy to write, but not #AmiAvijit. Eyes roll when these gestures are urged, whether through bewilderment at their meaning or exhaustion at their sanctimoniousness. After all, the eye-roll suggests, how could one compare a satirical French magazine with obscure Bangladeshi bloggers who have been hacked to death? It takes an immense act of will to push editors to run stories on tragedies that seem distant even from the places where they occur. All eyes focus on the latest attack in Molenbeek, but few turn with the same intensity to look at the tragedies in Beirut or in Cairo.

    • UN: Americans’ Right to Protest is in Grave Danger Under Trump

      At least 19 U.S. states have introduced bills that attack the right to protest since Donald Trump’s election as president, an “alarming and undemocratic” trend, U.N. human rights investigators said this week.

      Maina Kiai and David Kaye, independent U.N. experts on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression respectively, are calling on lawmakers in the United States to stop the “alarming” trend of “undemocratic” anti-protest bills designed to criminalize or impede the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.

      “The trend also threatens to jeopardize one of the United States’ constitutional pillars: free speech,” they said in a statement, calling for action to reverse such legislation.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Y’know CSS was to kill off HTML table layout? Well, second time’s a charm: Meet CSS Grid

      With the release of Safari 10.1 this week, four major browsers in the space of a month have implemented support for CSS Grid, an emerging standard for two-dimensional grid layouts in web applications.

      For front-end web designers, this is a big deal. In a tweet, Eric Meyer, web development author and co-founder of A List Apart, said, “Four browsers from four vendors rolled out Grid support in the space of four weeks. That’s just stunning. Never been anything like it.”

    • [Older] Net Neutrality Is Trump’s Next Target, Administration Says

      The Trump administration served notice on Thursday that its next move to deregulate broadband internet service companies would be to jettison the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules, which were intended to safeguard free expression online.

    • After healthcare failure, Trump’s next battlefield is net neutrality

      “Scrapping net neutrality rules would give big cable companies a green light to carve up the internet and pick winners and losers online based on who has the deepest pockets,” it also argued.

  • DRM

    • Don’t let the myths fool you: the W3C’s plan for DRM in HTML5 is a betrayal to all Web users.

      The deliberate misinformation campaign around these points obscure the imminent technological and legal threat that the Encrypted Media Extension proposal poses to accessibility, privacy and security, and interoperability—everything needed for a free and open web. We must send a strong and clear message to the W3C and its member organizations, that DRM in HTML5 is a betrayal to all Web users and undermines the W3C’s self-stated mission to make the benefits of the Web “available to all people, whatever their hardware, software, network infrastructure, native language, culture, geographical location, or physical or mental ability.” The W3C exists to bring the vision of an undivided ‘One Web’ to its full potential, and DRM is antithetical to that goal.

      [...]

      Implementing the EME proposal would simultaneously legitimize DRM through the HTML5 standard and needlessly concede the very purpose of Web standards. This is not a compromise for the advancement of the Web, it’s a complete concession of the principles of the W3C.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Torrents Are Particularly Popular in Europe, Research Shows

        A broad and detailed analysis of billions of worldwide visits to torrent sites shows that, per Internet user, this type of file-sharing is particularly popular in Europe. When it comes to absolute traffic, the United States, Russia and India come out on top with billions of visits per year.

      • Russia Wants To Hold Social Networks Liable For Internet Piracy

        A new proposal from the Russian government could see social networks held liable for piracy committed by their users. The Ministry of Culture says that social platforms should be stripped of their status as information intermediaries and held to account when infringing content is made available on their sites if they fail to take appropriate measures to tackle piracy.

      • Conference report: Online platforms and intermediaries in copyright law

        The conference on “Online Platforms and Intermediaries in Copyright Law” hosted by Ansgar Ohly and Matthias Leistner at the LMU Munich on 23 and 24 March 2017 shed light on several issues and challenges concerning current trends and developments in copyright law and intermediaries’ liability.

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