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04.10.17

Links 10/4/2017: Linux 4.11 RC6, LabPlot 2.4, Shuttleworth Rants

Posted in News Roundup at 5:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Discovering my inner curmudgeon: A Linux laptop review

      Quick refresher: I’m a life-long Mac user, but I was disappointed by Apple’s latest MacBook Pro release. I researched a set of alternative computers to consider. And, as a surprise even to myself, I decided to leave the Mac platform.

      I chose the HP Spectre x360 13″ laptop that was released after CES 2017, the new version with a 4K display. I bought the machine from BestBuy (not an affiliate link) because that was the only retailer selling this configuration. My goal was to run Ubuntu Linux instead of Windows.

      Here are my impressions from using this computer over the past month, followed by some realizations about myself.

    • The Linux Migration: Corporate Collaboration, Part 3

      In discussing support for corporate communication and collaboration systems as part of my Linux migration, I’ve so far covered e-mail in part 1 and calendaring in part 2. In this post, I’m going to discuss the last few remaining aspects of corporate collaboration: instant messaging/chat, meetings and teleconferences, and document sharing.

      [...]

      This wraps-up the series on corporate collaboration and communication using Linux. As you can see from reading the posts, some areas are far easier to solve than others, and a lot depends on the corporate solution being used on the backend. I suspect that a great majority of organizations out there are heavily reliant on Microsoft technologies (Exchange, Office, etc.), so using Linux in such environments might be a bit challenging depending on your job role. If your employer has gone “all in” on Office 365 and related services/offerings and you need to often host meetings and calls, then using Linux as your primary desktop OS is probably going to mean keeping a Windows VM running as well. If your employer is also leveraging some other technologies or meetings/calendaring isn’t quite as important, then you may be in better shape to adopt Linux as your primary desktop OS. As always, readers should evaluate their situation based on their specific needs and make the decision that is right for them, whether that means Windows, OS X, or Linux.

    • System76 Galago Pro: Specs, Price And Release Date

      System76, a US-based computer vendor, is known for its exclusive Ubuntu based laptops and desktops. In addition to that, System76 also deals in Linux servers.

      Galago Pro is the latest offering from System76 and this ultrabook has everything (at least on paper) to make it the best Ubuntu laptop you can buy.

    • Valuing Tech Diversity at My Public Library

      Like everyone, I have my preferences about the hardware and software I like. I think it is natural to want others to share your tastes. My Somali-American programmer friend has taught me to be more open-minded. Here is how that happened.

      [...]

      At my public library job, I love it when my Somali-American friend visits. He’s a highly skilled computer programmer, and we share many interests. The neat thing about our friendship is that it bridges very different cultures. He’s a Windows guy, and I’m a Linux person. He was raised Windows, and I was raised open-source. Yet we value our friendship and love talking about our areas of common interest.

      [...]

      I have some open-source friends who won’t have anything to do with Windows. That can be a reasonable preference, I suppose. My preference is to follow the open-source path and support Windows and Mac in my community the best I can. And now that my friend’s children have chosen to follow the Linux path, I feel I need to do even more in my community to support the Windows and Mac paths. I will not allow my very kind-hearted and smart friend to meet me halfway — without my walking the other half of the way to shake his hand. Right now, he has met me more than halfway. I need to figure out how I can meet him more than halfway too.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.11-rc6

      Things are looking fairly normal, so here’s the regular weekly rc.

      It’s a bit bigger than rc5, but not alarmingly so, and nothing looks
      particularly worrisome. Knock wood. The only slightly unusual thing is
      how the patches are spread out, with almost equal parts of arch
      updates, drivers, filesystems, networking and “misc”.

      But the late rc’s are small enough that you see more fluctuation in
      those kinds of statistics than you see over the bigger release, so
      “not the usual distribution” is more about the normal noise of
      development all over.

    • Linus Torvalds Announces a Slightly Bigger Sixth RC of Linux Kernel 4.11
    • Linux 4.11-rc6 Released
    • Linux 4.10.9

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.10.9 kernel.

      All users of the 4.10 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.10.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.10.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.9.2
    • Linux 4.4.60
    • Linux Kernels 4.10.9, 4.9.21 LTS and 4.4.60 LTS Bring Many XFS Improvements

      Renowned Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman had the pleasure of announcing the release of three new maintenance updates for the long-term supported Linux 4.9 and 4.4 kernels series, as well as Linux kernel 4.10.

      The Linux 4.10.9, 4.9.21 LTS and 4.4.60 LTS kernels are now the latest versions of the kernel branches mentioned above, and they come exactly one week after the release of their previous maintenance updates, namely Linux kernels 4.10.8, 4.9.20 LTS and 4.4.59 LTS. The difference is that these are bigger patches, changing 91 files, with 1229 insertions and 1067 deletions for Linux kernel 4.10.9, and 87 files, with 1332 insertions and 1109 deletions for Linux kernel 4.9.21 LTS.

    • Kernel lockdown

      These patches provide a facility by which a variety of avenues by which userspace can feasibly modify the running kernel image can be locked down.

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMDGPU-PRO 17.10 Proprietary Graphics Driver Adds Support for Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS

        AMD quietly released a few days ago a new stable version of its proprietary graphics driver for Linux-based operating systems, supporting various AMD Radeon graphics.

        AMDGPU-PRO 17.10 is here a little over two months after the AMDGPU-PRO 16.60 release, which added support for AMD Radeon HD 7xxx/8xxx graphics cards. This version, however, appears to add support for Canonical’s latest Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, but only for the 64-bit version of it.

      • Intel Has A Last Feature Pile Of Work For Linux 4.12 DRM

        On Friday, Intel’s Daniel Vetter submitted a final pile of feature material for DRM-Next that will target the Linux 4.12 kernel, with the deadline for 4.12 DRM-Next being this weekend.

        Already this cycle for DRM-Next we have seen from Intel atomic mode-setting by default, GPU reset improvements, power management improvements, continued work on Geminilake enablement, better context switching, refactoring of GuC and HuC firmware code, vGPU enhancements, and other changes.

      • Nouveau Gets Patches For OpenGL AZDO ARB_shader_ballot
  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Releases, releases, releases! Part 2

      Xfce – like many other open source projects – is not exactly following a test-driven development workflow. I would argue that we need a slight mindset change here plus we need some (standardized) infrastructure to make testing easier for people who want to get involved.

    • It’s Now Easier Testing Out Xfce Git Code With Docker

      Xfce-test is a Xubuntu 17.04 based container image designed for Docker that makes it very easy to deploy some of the latest Xfce Git components.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • New GNOME ISO to launch with the next snapshot

        All the interesting details are in the softpedia post, but I want to clarify things for people who might misinterpret this: It does not take any of my time away. Joshua Strobl is the maintainer for the GNOME ISO.

        Remember, Budgie 10 is tightly based on GNOME, we already have, use, and rely on this GNOME stack. The core difference is that instead of having “lightdm”, “budgie-desktop”, and “budgie-desktop-branding” in the ISO definition file, we now have “gdm”, “gnome-shell”, “gnome-desktop-branding”.

      • GNOME’s Mutter Begins Landing Monitor/Display Rework

        Jonas Ådahl’s latest GNOME work to benefit the GNOME Wayland support and other areas is a rework of Mutter so it now handles all low-level monitor configuration.

      • GNOME Twitch – Watch Twitch Streams on Linux Desktop

        Gnome Twitch is an app that enables users to enjoy their favorite streams without the stress of using flash or a web browser on their GNU/Linux desktop.

        You can use the app to search for and watch streaming channels either by their name or by their game. You can also manage your favorite selections in order to enable be able to quickly find them when next you might need them.

      • Insights into the GNOME 3.24 Release Video

        We managed to release the video a day after the release of GNOME 3.24. The slight delay was partly because timing the music proved quite difficult due to the editing freeze, but me and Simon now have some experience dealing with this, so we will come up with a better approach for the next video.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open sourcing Wire server code

    The source code of the server components is licensed under AGPL and can be used according to those terms unless otherwise specified for third-party components.

  • The state of open source in Asia [Ed: By Keith Bergelt of OIN (in a patent trolls' Web site]

    While Japanese companies have doubled down on open source software collaboration, including in new areas such as auto, Chinese firms have been slower to embrace it, which risks isolating projects from a key emerging technology centre

  • Take the #HappinessPacketChallenge!

    One of the most important lessons I was taught growing up is to say “thank you” when someone does something nice for you. Many months ago, someone first introduced me to something called Happiness Packets. The idea is simple but powerfully effective. Happiness Packets are like thank-you cards for open source users or contributors. You can send a packet to anyone for anything. Your message can be as short or as long as you like. You can put your name on your message or you can keep it totally anonymous. The choice is yours. And now, I want to challenge you to the #HappinessPacketChallenge!

  • Meson project status update

    The last few weeks have been an amazing ride for the Meson project. We
    have gone from “interesting but niche” to being seriously considered
    for such core infrastructure projects as Mesa, Wayland, Xorg and even
    systemd. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed in making
    this possible. Thanks to all contributors, evangelists, those who have
    converted their projects, or even proposed it. We would not be here
    without you.

    However having this much growth brings with it new problems. The main
    one of these, as most of you have probably noticed, is the growth in
    pull request backlog. I know there are MRs that have been waiting for
    quite a while and that this is very frustrating to those people who
    have filed them. My apologies to you, we are trying to make this
    better.

  • How the open source model will soar above the rest

    Defining a project is more than just discussing the results of the deliverable. For a project manager, this definition is about learning how to balance a series of interrelated elements. When it comes to the process of creation, the project manager has to manage the dependencies and the project’s critical chain. The project manager also has to communicate effectively with the various stakeholders’ personalities and the dynamic differences between Waterfall and Agile development methods.

  • Events

    • The Perl Conference in Amsterdam

      9 .. 11 August, 2017

      These meetings were formerly known as YAPC::EU, the yearly meeting of Perl Mongers in Europe.

    • Talk proposals Akademy 2017

      Sprintime is here. So start planning for all the summer conferences. The KDE yearly summer conference, Akademy, takes place in the south of Spain from July 22nd to July 27th.

      Akademy is a great opportunity for all community members to tell their fellow KDE-ers about the things they have been working on. It provides a friendly environment where people contribute to the wonderful projects of KDE.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Databases

    • New Features Coming in PostgreSQL 10

      The list of new features coming in PostgreSQL 10 is extremely impressive. I’ve been involved in the PostgreSQL project since the 8.4 release cycle (2008-2009), and I’ve never seen anything like this. Many people have already blogged about these features elsewhere; my purpose here is just to bring together a list of the features that, in my opinion, are the biggest new things that we can expect to see in PostgreSQL 10. [Disclaimers: (1) Other people may have different opinions. (2) It is not impossible that some patches could be reverted prior to release. (3) The list below represents the work of the entire PostgreSQL community, not specifically me or EnterpriseDB, and I have no intention of taking credit for anyone else's work.]

    • PostgreSQL 10 Is Going To Be Very Feature Rich

      PostgreSQL developer Robert Haas has shared a look at the features coming up to PostgreSQL 10 and it’s quite impressive for those using this database system.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Project Releases

    • libnice 0.1.14

      Today, Olivier Crête, libnice maintainer and Collabora Multimedia Lead, announced the availability of libnice 0.1.14, the latest release of the NAT traversal library implementing the RFC for Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE). ICE is a key part of the WebRTC standard and libnice is used by many WebRTC implementations such as OpenWebRTC, Kurento and Janus.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Pijul First Thoughts

      Given my interest in version control, a post on Pijul was pretty much inevitable. The thing I most wanted to understand was of course its conflict resolution algorithm. Unfortunately I don’t know enough category theory for that, which is a novel problem to have at least. There also don’t seem to exist explanations of how this algorithm works that don’t rely on category theory, which is unfortunate. The documentation that exists for this tool is generally sparse, which is fine; it’s new software, after all, and these are alpha releases.

      Fortunately, according to their blog, there’s been a useful version released recently. So what follows are my thoughts on playing with that version (0.4.1).

      First important thing is that the Pijul repository is itself kept in pijul. There’s a GitHub repository that has all the trappings of being an official mirror, but it looks to have stopped working when they switched the pijul repository off of darcs. To resolve the bootstrapping problem, I installed it with cargo instead, which took a short seven minutes to download and compile everything and dependencies. (Peeking behind my curtain slightly, I tried to write this post both Friday and yesterday, but was unable to do so because their hosting (Nest) was down.)

    • Secured OTP Server (ASIS CTF 2017)
    • FMTEYEWTK about Compilation vs Interpretation in Perl
    • #4: Simpler shoulders()
    • Top 5 programming languages for DevOps

      I’ve been focused on infrastructure for the majority of my career, and the specific technical skills required have shifted over time. In this article, I’ll lay out five of the top programming languages for DevOps, and the resources that have been most helpful for me as I’ve been adding those development skills to my infrastructure toolset.

      Knowing how to rack and stack servers isn’t an in-demand skill at this stage. Most businesses aren’t building physical datacenters. Rather, we’re designing and building service capabilities that are hosted in public cloud environments. The infrastructure is configured, deployed, and managed through code. This is the heart of the DevOps movement—when an organization can define their infrastructure in lines of code, automating most (if not all) tasks in the datacenter becomes possible.

Leftovers

  • Security

    • Apache Struts 2 exploit used to install ransomware on servers [Ed: read carefully. It's a Microsoft Windows issue.]

      Attackers are exploiting a vulnerability patched last month in the Apache Struts web development framework to install ransomware on servers.

      The SANS Internet Storm Center issued an alert Thursday, saying an attack campaign is compromising Windows servers through a vulnerability tracked as CVE-2017-5638.

    • A quick look at the Ikea Trådfri lighting platform

      Overall: as far as design goes, this is one of the most secure IoT-style devices I’ve looked at. I haven’t examined the COAP stack in detail to figure out whether it has any exploitable bugs, but the attack surface is pretty much as minimal as it could be while still retaining any functionality at all. I’m impressed.

    • Over The Air: Exploiting Broadcom’s Wi-Fi Stack (Part 1)
    • [Older] Dual-Use Software Criminal Case Not So Novel

      All of this may be moot if the government can’t win its case against Huddleston. The EFF’s Rumold said while prosecutors may have leverage in Shames’s conviction, the government probably doesn’t want to take the case to trial.

    • HOWTO: Fight Cyberwars and Lose

      Russia sought to advance their national interests by engaging in a conflict that was waged purely in the informatics sphere — the theatre of combat operations was entirely cyber. They won. The results of the conflict was a clear and decisive Russian success in multiple ways [...]

    • New IoT/Linux Malware Targets DVRs, Forms Botnet

      The Amnesia botnet targets an unpatched remote code execution vulnerability that was publicly disclosed over a year ago in March 2016 in DVR (digital video recorder) devices made by TVT Digital and branded by over 70 vendors worldwide (a listing of which can be found on the original vulnerability report we’ve linked to).

    • Booby-trapped Word documents in the wild exploit critical Microsoft 0day

      First, it bypasses most exploit mitigations: This capability allows it to work even against Windows 10, which security experts widely agree is Microsoft’s most secure operating system to date. Second, unlike the vast majority of the Word exploits seen in the wild over the past few years, this new attack doesn’t require targets to enable macros. Last, before terminating, the exploit opens a decoy Word document in an attempt to hide any sign of the attack that just happened.

    • Hacking blamed for emergency sirens blaring across Dallas early Saturday

      We need to get to the bottom of it — what kind of vulnerabilities do we have?

    • Samsung’s squashing of malicious Tizen smart TV bugs is turning messy

      After 40 critical vulnerabilities on Samsung’s Tizen — used in smart TVs and smartwatches — were exposed this week by Israeli researcher Amihai Neiderman, the company is scrambling to patch them.

      But Samsung still doesn’t know many of the bugs that need to be patched. It’s also unclear when Tizen devices will get security patches, or if older Tizen devices will even get OS updates to squash the bugs.

    • Xen Patches Hypervisor Breakout Risk Without Breaking the Cloud

      The open-source Xen virtualization project patches a security vulnerability that could have enabled an attacker to breakout from hypervisor isolation. But unlike a Xen flaw in 2014, this time public cloud providers do not have to reboot all their servers.

    • That time I had to crack my own Reddit password
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Spotify executive among those killed in Stockholm truck attack
    • U.S. Strikes in Syria Are an Illegal Response to Atrocity

      In the face of constitutional law barring hostile use of force without congressional authorization, and international law forbidding unilateral use of force except in self-defense, President Trump has unilaterally launched strikes against a country that has not attacked us, and without any authorization from Congress. Doing so violates some of the most important legal constraints on the use of force.

    • The White Helmets: “Heroes” of Syria?

      Much of the information provided by the documentary is inaccurate. For instance, the White Helmets is not an independent Syrian organization as much of the corporate media have claimed. The organization was created by James LeMesurier, currently a British military contractor and former Blackwater employee, and is funded by the US and the UK. These funds are used in part to pay the members of the White Helmets, who are often misleadingly referred to as “volunteers.” The documentary also claims that the White Helmets are a neutral and independent organization with the sole aim of humanitarian aid. However, it has been found that the White Helmets tend to only stage their relief operations after armed militants are attacked. Not only are the White Helmets funded by foreign governments, but their actions are affected by other questionable influences—like Al Qaeda. Still, the corporate media continuously refer to the group as an autonomous, humanitarian organization.

    • Five Top Papers Run 18 Opinion Pieces Praising Syria Strikes–Zero Are Critical

      Five major US newspapers—the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Daily News—offered no opinion space to anyone opposed to Donald Trump’s Thursday night airstrikes.

    • The Essential Pundit Take: ‘Trump Became President’ by Bombing Syria

      “I think Donald Trump became president of the United States” last night, CNN host Fareed Zakaria said when asked about the significance of Trump’s airstrikes on Syria (New Day, 4/7/17). “I think this was actually a big moment.”

    • Arkansas Plans to Execute Seven People This Month, Continuing Long Tradition of Assembly-Line Killing

      On April 17, the state of Arkansas plans to kill Don Davis and Bruce Earl Ward, two men who have been on death row since the early 1990s. Neither has applied for clemency. Both will die on the same gurney, back to back, if all goes according to plan. Executioners will start by injecting them with a sedative called midazolam, never before used by the state, but which is supposed to render them unconscious for the two lethal drugs to follow. No one, apart from a handful of officials, knows where the drugs will come from, or who exactly will do the injecting. Those are secrets under the law. Most importantly, no one knows how well the midazolam will work, if it works at all. After nearly 12 years without a single execution, Arkansas is embarking on a kind of human experiment.

    • The Return of the Dangerous ‘Obama Did Nothing’ Narrative on Syria

      One of great ironies of our oversaturated media environment is that, often, the biggest falsehoods and most transparent acts of political theater enjoy the most widespread acceptance and demonstrate the most stubborn popularity. No matter how improbable, or how much obvious evidence exists to the contrary, once a media narrative becomes embedded into elite conventional wisdom, it can be nearly impossible to dislodge.

    • 4/6/17 Philip Giraldi says IC-Military Doubt Assad Gas Narrative

      Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer and Director of the Council for the National Interest, says that “military and intelligence personnel,” “intimately familiar” with the intelligence, say that the narrative that Assad or Russia did it is a “sham,” instead endorsing the Russian narrative that Assad’s forces had bombed a storage facility. Giraldi’s intelligence sources are “astonished” about the government and media narrative and are considering going public out of concern over the danger of worse war there. Giraldi also observes that the Assad regime had no motive to do such a thing at this time.

    • Reuters: Russia and Iran Say They Will ‘Respond With Force’ If US Strikes Syria Again

      A joint command center used by Russia, Iran and allied forces has issued a statement saying that red lines have been crossed in Syria and that there will be retaliation if they are crossed again. While multiple sources report this, we think it’s unlikely the Russians formally signed off on this statement.

    • The Spoils of War: Trump Lavished With Media and Bipartisan Praise For Bombing Syria

      In every type of government, nothing unites people behind the leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war. Donald Trump now sees how true that is, as the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets.

      Trump, on Thursday night, ordered an attack that the Pentagon said included the launching of 59 Tomahawk missiles which “targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.” The governor of Homs, the Syrian province where the attack occurred, said early this morning that the bombs killed seven civilians and wounded nine.

    • ‘There Are No Signs That Iraq Can Be Bombed Into Stability’

      Well, other news reports bow their heads longer before the “human toll,” as it’s often called. But that isn’t the same as deep consideration of the war on ISIS—launched as “targeted,” “limited” airstrikes, and since expanded to include four countries, more than 50,000 bombs and, of course, over $11 billion handed out to defense contractors. But the worry, expressed in a recent New York Times editorial, was that Congress hadn’t officially authorized it: “duck[ing] their constitutional responsibility for making war by not passing legislation authorizing the anti-ISIS fight,” was how the paper had it.

      We are joined now for an alternative view by Raed Jarrar, government relations manager at the American Friends Service Committee. He joins us by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Raed Jarrar.

    • Legal Experts Question Whether Trump’s Syria Strike Was Constitutional

      It has become normal over the past 15 years for the morning news to report that the president has bombed an obscure terror group in a far-flung region of the world. These attacks take place without any public debate or a vote in Congress — despite the fact that the Constitution gives Congress alone the power “to declare war.”

      President Bush and President Obama argued, with little pushback, that they could target a wide array of terror groups, thanks to the resolution Congress passed in the wake of 9/11 that allows the president to use “necessary and appropriate force” against those who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the al Qaeda terror attacks.

    • The Balance of Probabilities

      Unlike the famous chemical weapons “attack” portrayed by the BBC in Saving Syria’s Children, it does appear that in the latest incident at Idlib there was real horror inflicted by chemical attack of some kind. The question is who did it and why?

      I am no fan of the Assad regime, and I have no problem using the word “regime” to describe it. Dictators do hold and win elections. I have lived in severe dictatorships and seen from the inside how they do it. The human rights abuses of the Assad regime have been well documented for decades.

      But Bashar al Assad is neither stupid nor unsophisticated. Aided by Putin, he outwitted Obama by quickly giving up his chemical weapons to be destroyed and accepting transparency in verification. There is no justification for the destruction of Iraq, but if Saddam Hussein had been able to swallow pride as completely as Assad, he too could have had a very good chance of averting disaster.

    • Airstrikes Without Justice

      Without any recourse to international law or the United Nations, the Trump administration has embarked on an act of international aggression against yet another sovereign state in the Middle East, confirming that neocons have reasserted their dominance over US foreign policy in Washington. It is an act of aggression that ends any prospect of détente between Washington and Moscow in the foreseeable future, considerably increasing tensions between Russia and the US not only in the Middle East but also in Eastern Europe, where NATO troops have been conducting military exercises for some time in striking distance of Russian territory.

    • Is US Policy to Prolong the Syrian War?

      Many are claiming that Trump is being inconsistent in illegally attacking the Syrian regime with cruise missiles.

      After all, he had been saying the U.S. should focus on defeating ISIS, and now he seems to be going after Assad. But contradictions from Trump are a dime a dozen.

      A closer examination shows a deeper pattern of remarkable consistency in U.S. policy toward Syria that is far more critical than the perennial contradictions of politicians like Trump.

    • Where Was CIA’s Pompeo on Syria?

      As President Trump was launching his missile strike against Syria, CIA Director Pompeo and other intelligence officials weren’t at the table, suggesting their doubts about Bashar al-Assad’s guilt, reports Robert Parry.

    • Luring Trump into Mideast Wars

      After launching a missile strike on Syria, President Trump is basking in praise from his former critics – neocons, Democrats and mainstream media – who want to lure him into more Mideast wars, reports Daniel Lazare.

      Donald Trump entered military terra incognita on Thursday by launching an illegal Tomahawk missile strike on an air base in eastern Syria. Beyond the clear violation of international law, the practical results are likely to be disastrous, drawing the U.S. deeper into the Syrian quagmire.

    • Trump’s 59-Tomahawk ‘Tweet’

      Before President Trump’s “retaliatory” strike against Syria on Thursday, I had written: “This, fundamentally is the question posed by the alleged chemical attack in Syria this week: Do Western Intelligence Services still retain an ability to speak-out to ‘power,’ warning against going with the easy, immediate, ‘go-along’ MSM (mainstream media) 24/7 news memes – and counsel their governments, rather, to await careful investigation?

    • In Attacking Syria, Trump Breached the War Powers Resolution

      The War Powers Resolution is a series of barriers that Congress erected in the wake of the Vietnam War to defend the constitutionally-mandated role of Congress in deciding when the US will use military force if the US has not been attacked.

    • Trump Shocks World in Direct U.S. Strike on Syrian Airbase That Could Violate International Law

      Without congressional approval, on Thursday night the United States attacked a Syrian airfield, marking the first military action by the U.S. against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces since the Syrian war began over six years ago. The move comes after the U.S. accused Assad’s forces of using the air base to carry out a chemical weapons attack that killed 86 people, including at least 30 children. Syria denies carrying out the attack. “After six years of watching genocide, … today I am very happy that there is one less airfield,” says Lina Sergie Attar, a Syrian-American writer from Aleppo, in the first part of our roundtable discussion. We also speak with Alia Malek, journalist and former human rights lawyer, and Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. “The hypocrisy of it from the vantage point of the Trump administration is staggering,” Bennis says, calling the strike an act of war and arguing all sides in Syria have violated international law.

    • Cable News Loves War

      Nothing engorges the cable news id quite like a war waged by the United States, even when the war is only a one-off retaliatory Tomahawk strike, like Thursday’s missile attack on an airbase in Syria. From inside their command posts in Washington and New York, the network anchors have painted on their gravest battle masks and convened on-air skull sessions with correspondents gabbing about the hot action and the expected repercussions via from satellite link-up in Moscow, Beirut, Tel Aviv and border points in the Middle East. Retired generals and admirals kept on network retainer have powdered their noses and crowded into the broadcast studios like thirsty veterans heeding last call at the VFW hall to heave their approval or disdain on the strike.

      Nobody projects network war delight better than CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, whose metallic and nasal shrieking lands on virgin zones of mental irritation in these times. Blitzer, the king of the mundane observation and the champion of the generic question, was among the first to ride into virtual battle yesterday. His show, which generally degenerates into that dinner party you can’t wait to ditch, becomes even more unbearable when the main entrée is war. He see-sawed between hysteria—“This is the beginning of a new, a series of actions against the Syrian military?”—and morose panic—“Very, very sad situation unfolding.” After 30 minutes of such exposure, you feel Blitzered, craving relief from vague, hangover-like head pain pulsing through your brain.

    • Tillerson says missile strikes carry a message for others

      Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. missile strikes against a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapon attack carries a message for any nation operating outside of international norms. He didn’t specify North Korea, but the context was clear enough.

    • US shows off military might to North Korea

      The possibility of a military confrontation has increased with a US navy strike group racing towards the Korean peninsula, but China’s stance on the North Korea issue remains unchanged, Chinese analysts said on Sunday.

    • NSA McMaster: ‘Prudent’ to send strike group to Korean Peninsula

      White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster on Sunday characterized the decision to relocate a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group to the Sea of Japan as “prudent,” given North Korea’s “pattern of provocative behavior.”

      “Well, it’s prudent to do it, isn’t it?” McMaster told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that “the president has asked to be prepared to give him a full range of options to remove that threat the American people and to our allies and partners in the region.”

    • U.S. Navy sends strike group toward Korean Peninsula

      A U.S. Navy strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier was making its way toward the Korean Peninsula on Sunday “to maintain readiness” as Kim Jong Un’s regime in North Korea prepared to mark key anniversaries in the coming weeks.

    • Chris Hedges Criticizes Mainstream Media’s ‘Cheerleading’ for Syria Strike (Video)

      “They’ve fallen right into line and refuse to ask any substantial questions at all,” Hedges says of the media’s reaction to the U.S. attack. “This is precisely what the deep state wanted.”

      Noting that Trump’s chose to act partly due to photos of victims of a chemical attack in Syria earlier this week, correspondent Anya Parampil asks Hedges why there are “double standards” when it comes to caring about victims of war.

      War victims, Hedges says, “are manipulated to serve the interests of whatever warring party wants to hold up their corpses.” The missile strike, he argues, is the result of “the emotionalism of a very fickle, unstable, impulsive president who, frankly, sees the world through whatever is presented to him on a television screen.”

      “The corporate media has presented precisely the narrative and the images that the deep state wants,” Hedges concludes.

    • Britain’s secret wars

      Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President Trump and one of the most influential people in his administration, says the fight to retake Mosul from ISIS is nearing its end. This view looks dubious when set against reports, for example by Voice of America’s Heather Mudock, that ISIS’s most experienced paramilitaries are still entrenched in the core parts of the old city. Moreover, even apart from the military realities, the dire problems being faced by civilians augur badly for any quick resolution (see “Dark Times Ahead in Battle for Mosul”, VOA, 4 April 2017).

      But the United States-led coalition will eventually declare victory in Mosul. To that end, Trump is more than willing to allow far more intensive airstrikes whatever the cost to civilians, and to sanction the more direct involvement of regular US combat troops in fighting on the ground.

    • Donald Trump’s Own Defense Secretary Warned in 2013 Against Rushing to War Against Syria

      The Trump administration reacted to the apparent use of chemical weapons against civilians by the Bashar al-Assad government with a flurry of air strikes against a Syrian military airfield Thursday night.

      The bombing occurred after a widespread clamor for Trump to “do something” and without a thorough debate about what ultimate goal the U.S. is attempting to reach.

      This is exactly what Trump’s defense secretary, Jim Mattis, warned about in remarks he made in 2013.

      Mattis had just retired from his role as the commander of U.S. Central Command, and agreed to be interviewed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about U.S. policy in the Middle East.

    • Yet Another President Commits the Ultimate War Crime of Launching a War of Aggression

      President Donald Trump campaigned last year making the sensible argument that the US should no longer engage in a policy of regime change, and should attempt to have friendly relations with other countries like Russia and China. Yesterday he blew those ideas out of the water by launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase and by calling for the removal of Syria’s leader, Bashar al Assad.

      The pretext for the US cruise missile blitz, an alleged attack on a rebel-held town called Khan Shiekhun in Idlib province, where some 70 people, including children, were reported to have died from illegal Sarin-gas bombs said to have been dropped by Syrian planes, has yet to be investigated by any independent observers.

    • Bill Maher’s Muddled Attacks on Islam

      Bill Maher thinks he knows exactly why they hate us. In the world according to Bill, all those agitated Muslims on the receiving end of multiple interventions, numerous “double-tap” drone strikes, countless tons of falling bombs, the systematic imprisonment of “rendered” individuals and the widespread use of lawless torture are, simply put, the outgrowth of a backwards belief system. And those beliefs also inspire a type of religious violence that’s become a destructive force unparalleled in today’s world.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Trump needs a reality check: Environmental protections save lives, create jobs, strengthen the economy

      By nullifying Obama-era climate initiatives, Trump puts the nation at risk in several ways

    • Senators Allege DAPL Builder Didn’t Have Permit to Build Under Lake Oahe

      Top Senate Democrats are questioning whether the builder and manager of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) had a permit to construct a controversial stretch of the project near tribal land and water sources.

    • How to slash your electric bill by killing ‘vampire’ power drains

      With many of our consumer electronics products plugged into electrical sockets — an average of 40 items per household connected at any one time – they’re constantly “sucking” electricity, even when not in use. In fact, some of these products can still consume as much as 25% of its full power even when switched off.

    • How Climate Change Could Blow Up Your Electricity Bill

      Higher temperatures brought on by global warming means that we use more air conditioning and fans to keep us cool. In addition, global warming will bring an increase in the frequency and intensity of heat waves. And that means higher electricity demand—and cost.

    • Berta Is Dead, But The Movement She Started Lives

      The Convergence of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) has defied all efforts over the past year, by the Honduran government and the DESA dam company, to destroy it. This past Monday, March 27, 24 years after Berta Cáceres cofounded the Lenca indigenous organization, COPINH hosted an anniversary celebration of rebellion and recommitment.

      About 150 people from throughout Honduras and at least five other countries joined for a Lenca ceremony; a forum on challenges and advances; a concert; a film festival; and a humble feast of roasted pig, rice, tortillas, and birthday cake. The event closed late at night with an open-air performance of “Ancestras”, a new play by the Teatro Taller Tegucigalpa (Tegucigalpa Theater Workshop) about COPINH’s fight to defend the Gualcarque River, and structural injustice by the government and oligarchy.

    • Louisiana’s Bayou Bridge Pipeline Is One Permit Closer to Reality as Groups Plan Continued Resistance

      On March 30, heavy rain didn’t stop dozens of people in New Orleans from marching to the offices of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), where they delivered a letter to the agency opposing the Bayou Bridge pipeline.

      Yet the group’s actions didn’t stop the DNR from granting the project’s operator, Energy Transfer Partners, the coastal use permit it needed a few days later, on April 3.

      The proposed pipeline project is a joint venture with Phillips 66 and Sunoco Logistics. If built, the Bayou Bridge pipeline will be the last leg of Energy Transfer’s Dakota Access pipeline, carrying oil fracked in North Dakota all the way to Louisiana.

    • The Koch Caucus Continues Its Assault on Healthcare

      Last month, the Congressional “Freedom Caucus” was instrumental in defeating a health bill put forward by Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. That bill would have deprived an estimated 26 million Americans of health coverage to provide a tax cut for the wealthy, but the Freedom Caucus’ far-right members were demanding even harsher provisions and they haven’t given up the fight.

      The travails of the bill known as “Trumpcare” have been covered extensively in the media, but another aspect of the story has not: the overwhelming majority of Freedom Caucus members have received campaign funding from a PAC funded by the Koch Industries. The Kochs’ unpopular and extreme agenda is reflected in Caucus efforts to make a bad bill even worse.

      Perhaps it’s time to start calling the extremist crew–that wants to throw Americans under the bus and strip them of their emergency care–the Koch Caucus.

  • Finance

    • Italy just banned Uber in favor of taxis

      The court ruled in favor of the country’s taxi drivers — who filed the suit — claiming Uber was “unfair competition.” Now Uber can’t use it’s apps — including UberBlack, Uber LUX, X, and Select — and it can’t promote or advertise itself at all within the country.

      For all intents and purposes, Uber is banned in Italy.

    • The Gibraltar rock reveals the rubble of democracy

      Gibraltar is caught in the crossfire of a historical dispute between the UK and Spain. As tensions grow, the question that becomes most apparent is one of democracy.

      Gibraltar doesn’t appear in the international news very often, but last week it entered the spotlight. As the Brexit process commences, Gibraltarians found themselves at the hands of an unfairly played card, by democratic standards. In the first draft of the Brexit negotiating guidelines came a single clause with a large impact; the EU has stepped behind excluding Gibraltar from any agreements reached between the EU and the United Kingdom, unless Spain is in agreement with it. This is a futile exercise, as Gibraltarians know all too well, following an age old feud over the sovereignty of the Rock.

    • A Federal Reserve Bank Ignored Insider Trading Investigation When Re-Appointing Its President

      New documents obtained by a Federal Reserve watchdog group suggest that the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s board of directors may have known that its president was under federal investigation when the board re-appointed him to a new term.

      That president, Jeffrey Lacker, resigned his position this week after acknowledging his role in a leak of nonpublic information about Fed policy to an analyst for hedge fund and asset manager clients. The situation highlights the often cozy relationship between central bankers and Wall Street.

    • Marching for Trump Tax Transparency

      A broad coalition of groups has come together to offer an opportunity for people to vent their anger over Trump’s tax secrecy. On April 15 (Tax Day), marches will take place in 48 states and even a few non-U.S. cities like London and Tokyo to demand that he release his tax returns. (See full list of actions at www.taxmarch.org).

      The largest event will be in Trump’s back yard in Washington, D.C., where several Democratic leaders, including Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden and House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters — will speak, along with a slate of faith, consumer, labor, and other leaders.

    • Why tax resistance under Trump needs its antiwar edge

      There have always been fights about taxes — stretching back to the crates of over-taxed tea tossed into the Boston Harbor and a thoughtful man’s night in jail for refusing to pay taxes in the slave-holding state of Massachusetts. This country’s long history of tax resistance stretches from the American Revolution to the religious non-cooperation of groups like the Mennonites and the Quakers to the movement to abolish slavery to resistance to every war fought in the 20th century. Following in the footsteps of this history and the example of Henry David Thoreau, there have always been a principled few who refuse to pay all or part of their federal taxes as an expression of their pacifism, or as a way of opposing specific policies. And there have always been demonstrations on April 15.

      In my experience, these tax day actions are motley affairs. Handfuls of activists gather at post offices and IRS outposts around the country, where they try to engage stressed-out tax procrastinators with dense tracks about the atrocities our tax dollars are funding in the warzone du jour. There are always copies of the War Resisters League’s eye-catching pie chart, which shows the huge portion of federal tax money allocated to the military. In New York City, we have deployed a cumbersome Penny Poll and handed out rolls of pennies to passersby, asking them to put the coins in different tubes to show how they really want their tax dollars spent.

    • So Yeah, Here’s America, 2017

      As America’s new economy starts to look more like the old economy of the Great Depression, the divide between rich and poor, those who have made it and those who never will, seems to grow ever starker. I know. I’ve seen it firsthand.

      Once upon a time, I worked as a State Department officer, helping to carry out the occupation of Iraq, where Washington’s goal was regime change. It was there that, in a way, I had my first taste of the life of the 1%. Unlike most Iraqis, I had more food and amenities than I could squander, nearly unlimited funds to spend as I wished (as long as the spending supported us one-percenters), and plenty of U.S. Army muscle around to keep the other 99% at bay. However, my subsequent whistleblowing about State Department waste and mismanagement in Iraq ended my 24-year career abroad and, after a two-decade absence, deposited me back in “the homeland.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How Senators Voted on the Gorsuch Filibuster and the Nuclear Option

      In a party-line vote, Republicans agreed Thursday to end the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees, passing the so-called nuclear option.

      The move came shortly after most Democrats filibustered the nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. A final confirmation vote is now set for as early as Friday evening.

      Below, see how every Senator voted on the filibuster and the nuclear option.

    • The White House Still Hasn’t Released Most Staffers’ Financial Disclosures

      Last Friday night, the White House began making staffers’ financial disclosures “available,” which give a glimpse of officials’ often extraordinary personal wealth. But it didn’t post the documents publicly. Instead, the White House required a separate request for each disclosure. It also didn’t release the names of staffers who have submitted the forms, forcing reporters and others to guess and play a game of Transparency Battleship.

      To combat the pointless opacity, ProPublica teamed up with the Associated Press and The New York Times to request disclosures for all the applicable staff that we know of — 171 people overall. We’ve received 88 filings to date, and posted all of them. (Check out our public Google Drive folder of disclosures. The Center for Public Integrity has also made them searchable.)

      The White House still hasn’t released most staffers’ financial disclosures – at least 80 are sitting around unreleased.

    • Trump the Loser

      Donald Trump claims to be good at making deals; what he is actually good at is gaming the system. He is even better at selling snake oil. The snake oil he sells is himself.

      He was so good at it last year that he has now become a clear and present danger – to people around the world and to the vast majority of Americans, especially Muslims, Hispanics, people of color, people who don’t conform to prevailing gender norms, and women.

    • Turkey’s Dangerous Referendum

      At first glance, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s drive to create an executive presidency with almost unlimited power through a nationwide referendum looks like a slam-dunk.

      The man has not lost an election since 1994, and he has loaded the dice and stacked the deck for the April 15 vote. Using last summer’s failed coup as a shield, he has declared a state of emergency, fired 130,000 government employees, jailed 45,000 people—including opposition members of parliament—and closed down 176 media outlets. The opposition Republican People’s Party says it has been harassed by death threats from referendum supporters and arrests by the police.

    • Top Trump Donor and Big Data Billionaire Helped Tip Election, Now Works to Reshape Media

      Rightwing computer scientist and hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer was the top donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He contributed $13.5 million and laid the groundwork for what is now called the Trump Revolution. Mercer also funded Cambridge Analytica (CA), a small data analytics company that specializes in “election management strategies.” CA boasts on its website that it has psychological profiles, based on 5,000 separate pieces of data, on 220 million American voters. CA scoops up masses of data from peoples’ Facebook profiles and uses artificial intelligence to influence their thinking and manipulate public opinion. They used these skills to exploit America’s populist insurgency and tip the election toward Trump.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • New legislation (HR 1865) seeks to hold websites liable for content posted by third parties; degrade free speech online
    • We rush to condemn Islamophobia. What about anti-Christian attacks? [iophk: "not allowed coverage by Twitter / Facebook"]

      [...] five uniformed railway “Transport Officers” watched the attack and did nothing to help him [...]

    • Why Does the West Keep Colluding with Terrorists?

      Like other criticisms of Hirsi Ali, the effort was to portray her as the problem itself rather than as the response to a problem.

      That this type of campaign can succeed — that speakers can be stopped from speaking in Western democracies because of the implicit or explicit threat of violence — is a problem our societies need to face. [...]

    • [Older] US: Release Singaporean Blogger Amos Yee [iophk: "sharia in US"]

      US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials should immediately release persecuted Singaporean activist and blogger Amos Yee, who was granted asylum by a US immigration judge on March 24, 2017, PEN America and Human Rights Watch said today. Yee, who has been detained since December, remains in ICE custody on the grounds that the Department of Homeland Security may file an appeal against the grant of asylum.

    • Rubel: Analytics, censorship and our poisoned information stream

      Is all editing censorship?

      The question came up during a recent Sunshine Week panel discussion at New Mexico State University when I expressed my frustrations with Facebook and online news outlets that make no effort to verify that what they are disseminating is true.

      [...]

      She was claiming that any exercise of editorial discretion is, in fact, censorship. The Associated Press sends out several hundred stories every day. We only put a few of them in our newspaper. That’s censorship. The AP chooses its several hundred stories from the many thousands it could have reported on. That is also censorship. Any attempt to organize and prioritize the events of the day is censorship.

    • NYT’s BDS Debate Excludes BDS Proponents

      The most important editorial space in the English-speaking world dedicates a lot of column inches to the topic of Israel, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, but hasn’t provided any space to a pro-BDS voice on the topic in over three years.

    • Arkansas Legislator Pushes to Ban Books by historian Howard Zinn’s from Public Schools

      In March of 2017, Arkansas Representative Kim Hendren introduced House Bill 1834 to the state assembly which sought to ban any works written by, or relating to, historian Howard Zinn. The bill is entitled “An Act to Prohibit a Public School District or Open-Enrollment Public Charter School from Including in its Curriculum or Course Materials for a Program of Study Books or Any Other Material Authored by or Concerning Howard Zinn; And for Other Purposes.” The bill states any book authored by Zinn between 1959 and 2010 would be prohibited by public school districts, as would any work that concerns the historian—which could be interpreted as a ban on any work that cites Zinn as well.

    • Tennessee University Fires NPR Reporter After Politicians Complain

      Now Helbert has been fired by the university, after legislators objected to her report and complained that she hadn’t identified herself to them. Helbert has filed a lawsuit in response, while freedom of the press activists have organized rallies and petitions in her defense.

      Helbert’s report was posted online March 10, and included Sen. Mike Bell calling transgender identity “all hogwash;” comparing it to someone saying, “I might feel like a dog.”

    • Ghani Accused of Censorship After Cutting Off Journalist

      President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday addressed a press conference in Kabul after a week-long tour to the Asia-Pacific region and briefed journalists on the outcomes of his visit to Australia, Singapore and Indonesia.

      However, Ghani took questions from journalists but refused to respond to a question by TOLOnews reporter Sharif Amiri about rule of law.

      Ghani swiftly cut Amiri off when he asked the question and said that any questions had to be in the context of his trip.

    • North Korean Media: A Story of Language, Censorship, and Tech

      After the death Kim Jong-Nam, the official state-run North Korean news organization Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) issued a statement accusing South Korea of conspiring with Malaysia in the assassination. According to Chosun Media, a South Korean newspaper, the incentive for the alleged collaboration would be to “sabotage the North.”

    • Ninth Circuit Sends a Message to Platforms: Use a Moderator, Go to Trial

      The case involves LiveJournal, a social media platform that allows users to create “communities” based on a common theme or subject. The communities are partly managed by moderators, who review posts (including photos) that users submit to make sure they follow the rules for posting and commenting created by the community. A community focused on celebrity news, called “Oh No They Didn’t” (ONTD), became particularly popular, garnering millions of views every month.

      Enter Mavrix Photography, a photo agency that specialized in celebrities. Mavrix discovered that several of its celebrity photos had been posted on ONTD between 2010 and 2014. Rather than sending a DMCA takedown notice, Mavrix went straight to court to sue for copyright infringement. LiveJournal took the posts down immediately, and invoked the DMCA safe harbors, asserting that it was simply “hosting content at the direction of a user.” The district court agreed.

    • It Might Be Time to Delete Your LiveJournal
    • Russian-Owned LiveJournal Bans Political Talk, Adds Risk of Spying
    • LiveJournal now bans political talk
    • After Moving Servers to Russia, LiveJournal Bans ‘Political Solicitation’
    • Livejournal’s Russian owners announce new anti-LGBT policy, fandom stages mass exodus
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Sayeeda Warsi’s Blinkered View of Islamism

      Every Islamist agenda Warsi writes about, such as gender segregation, the veil or Sharia courts, is sanitised and trivialised, while almost every organisation or personality is either misunderstood, misrepresented or merely branded “controversial”.

    • The Enemy Within: A Tale of Muslim Britain by Sayeeda Warsi – review

      Warsi’s solution to the situation we are faced with today is more of the same: more religion in the public space and stronger “religious identities”, though it is clearly less religion that we need, not more. And while she considers secularisation a threat, it is in fact the separation of religion from the state, universal values and citizenship rights that will provide minimum guarantees against the intolerance and violence of religion in politics and power.

    • Indonesia Permits Rare Papua Access to UN Health Rights Expert [iophk: "transmigration"]

      Papua has the lowest life expectancy in Indonesia and the country’s highest infant, child, and maternal mortality rates. Despite Papua’s glaring health service deficiencies, the government severely restricts access of international NGOs, including those that provide much-needed healthcare services.

    • Chatham Middle School Students Are Taught that Islam is the True Faith; Two Mothers Pilloried for Making It Public; Must See Video

      “It’s just not fair that within this unit of study the Chatham school district taught one religion to the exclusion of all others, and for the community to be so unkind and unwelcoming towards us, just for having raised legitimate questions as concerned parents.”

    • [Old] West still bowing to Saudi Arabia [iophk: "a bit from every fillup at the pump has been feeding this for decades"]

      Yet Western nations continue to reward the oil kingdom.

    • [Older] US Senators bring resolution urging Pakistan to release Asia Bibi

      However, after an international outcry, the Pakistani Supreme Court stayed her execution.

      The senators also asked Pakistan to reform the laws that have led to the targeting of religious minorities.

      [...]

      These laws have been often alleged to have been misused to settle personal scores.

    • 2 men in Indonesia’s Aceh province face caning for gay sex

      Two men in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province each face up to 100 strokes of the cane after neighbors reported them to Islamic religious police for having gay sex.

      Marzuki, the Shariah police’s chief investigator, said Saturday that if found guilty, the men will be the first to be caned for gay sex under a new code implemented two years ago.

    • U.S. Immigration Agency Will Lose Millions Because It Can’t Process Visas Fast Enough

      Lost amid the uproar over the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants is a change coming to the legal immigration system that’s expected to be costly for both U.S. companies and the government itself.

      Each year at about this time, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives a tidal wave of applications for H-1B visas, the ones for college-educated workers. For-profit companies usually have a five-day window in April to send in applications for new visas just as existing visa holders begin renewing theirs.

      The new wrinkle is that earlier this week USCIS suspended so-called “premium processing,” a program that allowed employers to pay extra to reduce visa wait times from as long as eight months to just two weeks.

      Officials have depicted the temporary stoppage as the upshot of a “significant surge” in demand for expedited service, but, in reality, it appears to reflect the agency’s own mismanagement and waste.

    • Federal Judge Sees New York State Conspiracy to Thwart Care for Mentally Ill

      A federal judge in Brooklyn has accused state officials of secretly trying to subvert a landmark court order to improve care for thousands of mentally ill residents of New York City.

      Three years ago, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ended a prolonged lawsuit against New York state by ordering the Department of Health to begin moving as many as 4,000 mentally ill residents housed in group homes to less restrictive environments where they could live more independently. As part of his order, the judge had laid out a timetable for the state to meet its obligations to men and women who had long lived in homes marked by neglect and abuse.

    • Torturing Language to Put Best Light on Police Misconduct

      After a cop was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife, CBS Miami’s headline was “Miami-Dade Police Officer Arrested After Wife Ends Up in Hospital”—suggesting that the arrest and the hospital visit might be entirely unrelated. An officer was arrested and, on a totally separate note, his wife “ended up” in a hospital.

      [...]

      These two sentences are almost a parody of how to bend words in the service of power. Note how Bradley’s wife (the victim) is to blame for “confront[ing] him,” which “led to a violent argument,” apparently by no one’s volition. Indeed, it was “the argument” that “turned physical”—not Bradley, who, despite having been arrested, is never described doing anything, much less anything violent.

      Instead, Bradley’s wife “received serious injuries,” as one receives guests while hosting a party. Who inflicted those injuries on her “face area” is never stated.

    • What Does Mike Pence’s ‘No Girls Allowed’ Rule Have in Common With School Dress Codes and Single-Sex Classrooms? Exclusion, Shaming, and Victim-Blaming.

      Of all the shockingly retrograde views about gender that the past year has brought us, a top contender is the revelation of Mike Pence’s policy of refusing to dine with women unless his wife is present.

      As commentators have been swift to point out, this policy is deeply problematic. It reduces women to the role of temptress, blaming them for male transgressions from marital infidelity to sexual assault, while relying on the equally demeaning assumption that men are incapable of controlling their sexual impulses. It is also discriminatory in the context of the workplace, depriving female employees of critical opportunities for networking, mentoring, and face time.

    • This Missouri City Banishes Domestic Violence Survivors for Calling the Police

      In 2012, the city of Maplewood, Missouri ordered Rosetta Watson to vacate her home. But the city wasn’t done punishing Watson yet and also barred her from living anywhere in the city for six months. Her offense? She called the police four times seeking protection from her abusive ex-boyfriend.

      Under Maplewood’s local ordinance, more than two calls to police regarding domestic violence within 180 days qualifies as a “nuisance,” as do commission of acts prohibited by federal, state, or local laws at a property. The ordinance does not exempt situations where residents need to call police for help or where they are crime victims. Once Maplewood decides that a nuisance took place, it can revoke the residents’ occupancy permits — which are required to live in Maplewood — and deny new ones for six months, exiling the residents from the city.

      Maplewood officials concluded that Ms. Watson should be removed from her home and banished from the city because she made calls for help with domestic violence, even though it was clear from the city’s own records that her ex-boyfriend had physically assaulted her. She was forced to move to St. Louis, where he again attacked her. This time, he broke in and stabbed her in the legs.

    • Resurrecting the Unholy Trinity

      When George W. Bush and Dick Cheney launched their forever wars — under the banner of a “Global War on Terror” — they unleashed an unholy trinity of tactics. Torture, rendition, and indefinite detention became the order of the day. After a partial suspension of these policies in the Obama years, they now appear poised for resurrection.

      For eight years under President Obama, this country’s forever wars continued, although his administration retired the expression “war on terror,” preferring to describe its war-making more vaguely as an effort to “degrade and destroy” violent jihadists like ISIS. Nevertheless, he made major efforts to suspend Bush-era violations of U.S. and international law, signing executive orders to that effect on the day he took office in 2009. Executive Order 13491, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations,” closed the CIA’s secret torture centers — the “black sites” — and ended permission for the Agency to use what had euphemistically become known as “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

      On that same day in 2009, Obama issued Executive Order 13492, designed — unsuccessfully, as it turned out — to close the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, the site of apparently endless detention without charges or trials. In 2015, Congress reinforced Obama’s first order in a clause for the next year’s National Defense Authorization Act that limited permissible interrogation techniques to those described in the U.S. Army Field Manual section on “human intelligence collector operations.”

    • “Why Did You Come to the United States?” Central American Children Try to Convince Courts They Need Protection

      In 2014, the Mexican author Valeria Luiselli, waiting for her green card application to be resolved, took her family on a road trip through the American southwest. As she and her husband and young children drove to Roswell, New Mexico, they joked about their own status as “resident aliens” and informed Border Patrol officers at checkpoints that they are “just writers and just on vacation. … We are writing a Western, sir.”

      As they drove, the family followed the news of tens of thousands of Central American children crossing the border just hours south of them, most of them alone. They listened to radio reports describing the children being warehoused, overcrowded and underfed, in detention centers known as as hieleras, or iceboxes, for ICE, but mostly for their frigid temperatures. They saw photos of protesters in Arizona with signs saying “return to sender” and “illegal is a crime.” They overheard patrons at a diner trading rumors about a millionaire offering his private plane to personally deport the children.

    • Formula 1 will land in Bahrain next week. Do we forget the country’s human rights abuses?

      For an inkling of Bahrain’s human rights record, consider its ranking of 162nd out of 180 countries on the 2016 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders. This is a place where participating in a demonstration could lead to a serious stint behind bars. Political prisoners might go six months without enjoying this so-called sunshine, said Zainab al-Khawaja, who now lives in Denmark after having been repeatedly jailed in Bahrain for protesting. Many have been mistreated in detention and some even stripped of citizenship.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

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    Links for the day



  7. Why Authorities in the Netherlands Need to Strip the EPO of Immunity and Investigate Fire Safety Violations

    How intimidation and crackdown on the staff representatives at the EPO may have led to lack of awareness (and action) about lack of compliance with fire safety standards



  8. Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part IX: Testament to the Fear of an Autocratic Regime

    A return to the crucial observation and a reminder of the fact that at the EPO it takes great courage to say the truth nowadays



  9. For the Fordham Echo Chamber (Patent Maximalism), Judges From the EPO Boards of Appeal Are Not Worth Entertaining

    In an event steered if not stuffed by patent radicals such as Bristows and Microsoft (abusive, serial litigators) there are no balanced panels or even reasonable discussions



  10. EPO Staff Representatives Fired Using “Disciplinary Committee That Was Improperly Composed” as Per ILO's Decision

    The Board of the Administrative Council at European Patent Organisation is being informed of the union-busting activities of Battistelli -- activities that are both illegal (as per national and international standards) and are detrimental to the Organisation



  11. Links 23/4/2017: End of arkOS, Collabora Office 5.3 Released

    Links for the day



  12. Intellectual Discovery and Microsoft Feed Patent Trolls Like Intellectual Ventures Which Then Strategically Attack Rivals

    Like a swarm of blood-sucking bats, patent trolls prey on affluent companies that derive their wealth from GNU/Linux and freedom-respecting software (Free/libre software)



  13. The European Patent Office Has Just Killed a Cat (or Skinned a 'Kat')

    The EPO’s attack on the media, including us, resulted in a stream of misinformation and puff pieces about the EPO and UPC, putting at risk not just European democracy but also corrupting the European press



  14. Yann Ménière Resorts to Buzzwords to Recklessly Promote Floods of Patents, Dooming the EPO Amid Decline in Patent Applications

    Battistelli's French Chief Economist is not much of an economist but a patent maximalist toeing the party line of Monsieur Battistelli (lots of easy grants and litigation galore, for UPC hopefuls)



  15. Even Patent Bullies Like Microsoft and Facebook Find the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Useful

    Not just companies accused of patent infringement need the PTAB but also frequent accusers with deep pockets need the PTAB, based on some new figures and new developments



  16. Links 21/4/2017: Qt Creator 4.2.2, ROSA Desktop Fresh R9

    Links for the day



  17. At the EPO, Seeding of Puff Piece in the Press/Academia Sometimes Transparent Enough to View

    The EPO‘s PR team likes to 'spam' journalists and others (for PR) and sometimes does this publicly, as the tweets below show — a desperate recruitment and reputation laundering drive



  18. Affordable and Sophisticated Mobile Devices Are Kept Away by Patent Trolls and Aggressors That Tax Everything

    The war against commoditisation of mobile computing has turned a potentially thriving market with fast innovation rates into a war zone full of patent trolls (sometimes suing at the behest of large companies that hand them patents for this purpose)



  19. In Spite of Lobbying and Endless Attempts by the Patent Microcosm, US Supreme Court Won't Consider Any Software Patent Cases Anymore (in the Foreseeable Future)

    Lobbyists of software patents, i.e. proponents of endless litigation and patent trolls, are attempting to convince the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to have another look at abstract patents and reconsider its position on cases like Alice Corp. v CLS Bank International



  20. Expect Team UPC to Remain in Deep Denial About the Unitary Patent/Unified Court (UPC) Having No Prospects

    The prevailing denial that the UPC is effectively dead, courtesy of sites and blogs whose writers stood to profit from the UPC



  21. EPO in 2017: Erroneously Grant a Lot of Patents in Bulk or Get Sacked

    Quality of patent examination is being abandoned at the EPO and those who disobey or refuse to play along are being fired (or asked to resign to avoid forced resignations which would stain their record)



  22. Links 21/4/2017: System76 Entering Phase Three, KDE Applications 17.04, Elive 2.9.0 Beta

    Links for the day



  23. Bristows-Run IP Kat Continues to Spread Lies to Promote the Unitary Patent (UPC) and Advance the EPO Management's Agenda

    An eclectic response to some of the misleading if not villainous responses to the UPC's death knell in the UK, as well as other noteworthy observations about think tanks and misinformation whose purpose is to warp the patent system so that it serves law firms, for the most part at the expense of science and technology



  24. Links 20/4/2017: Tor Browser 6.5.2, PacketFence 7.0, New Firefox and Chrome

    Links for the day



  25. Patents on Business Methods and Software Are Collapsing, But the Patent Microcosm is Working Hard to Change That

    The never-ending battle over patent law, where those who are in the business of patents push for endless patenting, is still ongoing and resistance/opposition is needed from those who actually produce things (other than litigation) or else they will be perpetually taxed by parasites



  26. IAM, the Patent Trolls' Voice, is Trying to Deny There is a Growing Trolling Problem in Europe

    IAM Media (the EPO's and trolls' mouthpiece) continues a rather disturbing pattern of propaganda dressed up as "news", promoting the agenda of parasites who drain the economy by extortion of legitimate (producing) companies



  27. The Patent Microcosm Keeps Attacking Every Patent Office/System That is Doing the Right Thing

    Patent 'radicals' and 'extremists' -- those to whom patents are needed solely for the purpose of profit from bureaucracy -- fight hard against patent quality and in the process they harm everyone, including individual customers



  28. Another Final Nail in the UPC Coffin: UK General Election

    Ratification of the UPC in the UK can drag on for several more years and never be done thereafter, throwing into uncertainty the whole UPC (EU-wide) as we know it



  29. Links 19/4/2017: DockerCon Coverage, Ubuntu Switching to Wayland

    Links for the day



  30. Links 18/4/2017: Mesa 17.0.4, FFmpeg 3.3

    Links for the day


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