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03.04.19

Links 4/3/2019: Linux Hits ’5.0′, Python 2.7.16

Posted in News Roundup at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Why Linux Is The Best OS For Computer Science Students?

    Let’s assume you are planning to major in computer science or you are already into it. Which one should be your primary OS between Windows and Linux? Some people will advocate for Windows while others for Linux. Instead of throwing you into another round of unending debate, I am going to outline solid reasons why Linux should be the primary OS in Computer Science.

  • The Story of Pinehead the Penguin Part 4 | Adventures of Pinehead Comic

    Meet our lovable mascot, Pinehead the Penguin. He’s on a journey to get to Linux Academy to become a Linux master!

  • Desktop

    • A Linux user review of the Darter Pro laptop from System76

      I do a lot of training on coding and Raspberry Pi, which means I’m always on the go, so having a lightweight laptop with maximum battery life is essential. The Darter Pro weighs only 3.6 pounds, and according to System 76, its 54.5Wh battery is good for six to 10 hours. It also has a 15.6-inch 1920x1080p Matte IPS display plus ample interfaces to external LCDs and projection devices if I need to expand my screen real estate even further. Another key feature for me is its SD card slot, which is imperative for creating Raspberry Pi boot drives. I found its 101-key backlit chicklet keyboard responsive, and its touchpad lets me scroll through websites and blogs like using a MacBook Pro.

      System 76 offers the Darter Pro in a variety of configurations, including the option to install Pop_OS or Ubuntu. Its base model has an 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8265U and 8GB of RAM. (You can check the rest of its specs on the Darter Pro website.) The model I tested had Pop_OS 18.10, an 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8565U, a 250GB M.2 SSD drive, and 16GB of RAM. Here are the specifications from the evaluation computer.

  • Server

    • VMware Launches Essential PKS, for Kubernetes Purists

      “It’s a modular and open way to access upstream Kubernetes” — the sanctioned, unmodified version of Kubernetes produced by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation — “with the confidence of expert support,” Scott Buchanan, VMware senior director of product marketing for cloud native apps, tells Light Reading.

      Essential PKS provides access to the most stable version of upstream Kubernetes, in addition to reference architectures that include complementary technologies and support including upgrades, maintenance and patches.

    • Docker to anoint new CFO this week, lures execs from tech giants amid layoffs, hires

      The San Francisco-headquartered company that popularized software containers has been shedding cash and talent as while trying to make the transition from open source innovator to enterprise mainstay.

      According to CEO Steve Singh today, however, more people are going to be hired than were recently let go, and the plan is still to be cash flow positive by the end of Docker’s current fiscal year, which would be January 31, 2020.

    • Why IBM had no choice but bet $34 billion on hybrid cloud [Ed: cloudwashing by Mac Asay; just means “little” or “partly” outsourced. Nothing new here. More like a trap.]
    • Why fears about MongoDB are unfounded [Ed: "Why fears about MongoDB are unfounded," said Mac Asay after he had worked for them. He doesn't care about software freedom. He never did.]
    • Will Amazon Kill MongoDB Stock?
    • Not Every Open Source Cloud Has A Silver Lining

      The use of open source software and cloud-based computing individually are growing at a rapid pace. The use of open source in cloud deployments is also growing.

    • Rancher Labs’ K3s Shrinks Kubernetes for the Edge

      For running containers at the edge, Rancher Labs has created K3s, a Kubernetes distribution that weighs-in at 40MB and needs only 512MB RAM to run.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.1 Will Make It Easier To Investigate Hyper-V Performance Issues [Ed: Kernel helps Microsoft sell proprietary software with back doors]

      For those of you making use of Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor, the Linux kernel side bits are ready to go with their feature changes for the imminent Linux 5.1 kernel cycle.

    • Linux 5.0 Finally Released By Linus Torvalds — But It Doesn’t Mean Anything

      The Linux creator Linus Torvalds has finally released Linux 5.0 after a long wait. Earlier this year in January, he confirmed the same with the shipping of the first release candidate of Linux 5.0.

    • Linux Kernel 5.0 Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

      The development cycle of the Linux 5.0 kernel series kicked off two months ago, during which seven RC (Release Candidate) milestones were published for testing paving the road for this major version change, which, sadly, doesn’t mean anything besides the fact that running Linux 5.x is cooler than running Linux 4.x.

      “The overall changes for all of the 5.0 release are much bigger. But I’d like to point out (yet again) that we don’t do feature-based releases, and that “5.0″ doesn’t mean anything more than that the 4.x numbers started getting big enough that I ran out of fingers and toes,” said Linus Torvalds in a mailing list announcement.

    • Linux Kernel 5.0 Released! Check Out The New Features

      Linus Torvalds has announced the release of Linux Kernel 5.0.

      Don’t get too excited thinking it’s a major new release because it’s called 5.0 instead of 4.22.

      It’s just that the major bump in the version number gives the impression that there might be a huge number of major new changes but that’s not the case here.

    • It’s Linux 5.0 Kernel Day Followed By The Start Of Linux 5.1

      Before the day is through Linus Torvalds is expected to officially release the Linux 5.0 kernel and immediately following that he’ll be kicking off the Linux 5.1 kernel cycle by the opening of the two-week-long merge window.

      Linux 5.0 is another exciting update. Particularly for AMD Radeon graphics users, this release is super special as it finally delivers on the long-awaited FreeSync support! FreeSync now works off the mainline Linux kernel with the AMDGPU code and assuming your user-space bits are also up-to-date. FreeSync is the headlining end-user feature with Linux 5.0 but there is also initial RTX Turing support in Nouveau on the green side, continued work on bringing up next-gen Intel and AMD processors, Adiantum fscrypt support, Logitech high resolution scrolling, and much more.

    • Linux 5.0

      Ok, so the last week of the 5.0 release wasn’t entirely quiet, but
      it’s a lot smaller than rc8 was, and on the whole I’m happy that I
      delayed a week and did an rc8.

      It turns out that the actual patch that I talked about in the rc8
      release wasn’t the worrisome bug I had thought: yes, we had an
      uninitialized variable, but the reason we hadn’t immediately noticed
      it due to a warning was that the way gcc works, the compiler had
      basically initialized it for us to the right value. So the same thing
      that caused not the lack of warning, also effectively meant that the
      fix was a no-op in practice.

      But hey, we had other bug fixes come in that actually did matter, and
      the uninitialized variable _could_ have been a problem with another
      compiler.

      Regardless – all is well that ends well. We have more than a handful
      of real fixes in the last week, but not enough to make me go “Hmm,
      things are really unstable”. In fact, at least two thirds of the
      patches are marked as being fixes for previous releases, so it’s not
      like 5.0 itself looks bad.

      Knock wood.

      Anyway, with this, the merge window for 5.1 is obviously open, and I’m
      happy to see that I already have several early pull requests. Which
      I’ll start processing tomorrow.

      And appended is – as usual – the shortlog just for the last week. The
      overall changes for all of the 5.0 release are much bigger. But I’d
      like to point out (yet again) that we don’t do feature-based releases,
      and that “5.0″ doesn’t mean anything more than that the 4.x numbers
      started getting big enough that I ran out of fingers and toes.

      Linus

    • Linux 5.0 Kernel Released With Long-Awaited FreeSync Support, Many New/Improved Features

      Linus Torvalds has gone ahead and just issued the Linux 5.0 stable kernel for what originally began as the Linux 4.21 kernel cycle. The Linux 5.0 kernel cycle delivers on the mainline AMD Radeon FreeSync support, continued work on bringing up Intel Icelake and other new CPU features, Logitech high-resolution scrolling capabilities, network improvements, and much more.

      In case you missed the article from weeks ago see our Linux 5.0 feature overview for an extensive look at what’s exciting for enthusiasts about the Linux 5.0 kernel. There is also the more condensed quick overview if you are short on time.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Fintech Firm MonetaGo Pivots to R3’s Corda After Spell Leveraging Hyperledger Fabric

        Software development company MonetaGo has switched over from Hyperledger Fabric to R3’s Corda as an enterprise blockchain platform, economics magazine Global Trade Review (GTR) reported on Feb. 26.
        MonetaGo, which previously had ties with both platforms, will now use Corda as it continues its expansion into Mexico and other international markets ahead of a current trial in India.
        The company offers blockchain-based fraud mitigation solutions for banks and previously operated as a cryptocurrency exchange before changing direction.

      • Linux In Safety-Critical Systems Is Coming Soon With Project ELISA

        Linux Foundation announced the launch of a new open source project focused on developing applications and Linux based systems for safety-critical systems.

        A safety-critical system is one in which failures could result in property damage, loss of life, environmental damage or injury. First reported by Data Center Knowledge, the project aims at ensuring that such critical Linux-based systems remain failure proof.

    • Graphics Stack/Hardware

      • X11 Display Manager Sees Its First Update In Seven Years

        For those wanting a nostalgic X11 experience this weekend, the X11 Display Manager (XDM) has seen its first release since 2011.

        This classic X11 display manager is written against the X Athena Widgets GUI library and has largely been replaced by the likes of GDM, LightDM, and SDDM. Apparently though there still is enough historical interest in XDM that new releases are warranted: longtime X11 release wrangler Alan Coopersmith issued the version 1.1.12 update.

      • NVIDIA Linux 418.42.02 Driver Fixes Vulkan Compiler Crash

        NVIDIA issued new Vulkan beta drivers on Friday with a few fixes on Linux and Windows.

        As far as the new NVIDIA 418.42.02 Linux driver build is concerned, there is just a single fix. The only fix worth mentioning is for a bug that could cause their SPIR-V compiler to crash in some Vulkan games, but that’s it. It’s just a single fix albeit important, compared to the recent NVIDIA 418.31.03 Vulkan beta driver build that brought new extensions and other improvements.

      • Update now: Latest Nvidia driver fixes dangerous security vulnerabilities
      • X.Org Server 1.19.7 Released With A Fix For The Two Decade Old SiS 6326

        While X.Org Server 1.20.4 was just released a few days ago with XWayland improvements and more, for vintage computer enthusiasts there is now the X.Org Server 1.19.7 that was released independently to provide a six for helping out the SiS 6326. Yes, the graphics processor from 1998.

        Kevin Brace, the independent X.Org contributor who began contributing to the OpenChrome project and has since expanded to work on other vintage open-source graphics drivers, organized this xorg-server 1.19.7 release. He was motivated to ship a simple fix that allows for 24-bit color mode to work now with the Xfce desktop on the SiS 6326. A simple oversight in the original X.Org Server EXA code was causing issues with 24-bit color support and ultimately leading to a crash for non-32-bit color support.

      • Habana Labs Posts Initial Thunk Library To Go With Their New Linux Kernel Driver

        Back in January the startup Habana Labs posted an open-source Linux kernel driver for their Goya AI processor. That AI accelerator focused on speeding up deep learning inference workloads better than CPUs and GPUs will now see this new driver mainlined with Linux 5.1 while a user-space thunk driver has now been published.

        The Habana Labs Thunk Library (HL-Thunk) is their basic open-source user-space library to interface with this kernel driver. At this stage it just stresses the minimal functionality of the exposed kernel driver IOCTLs and is able to run some basic user-space tests.

      • Mesa State Tracker Adds FP64/INT64 Lowering For NIR Drivers

        As a step towards getting the “soft” FP64 (and INT64) support working for Gallium3D OpenGL drivers, the Mesa state tracker has added FP64 / INT64 lowering support for the drivers utilizing NIR.

        It was back in January that soft FP64/INT64 lowering was finally merged to Mesa and hooked in for the “classic” Intel Mesa driver. So far no other drivers besides i965 have been utilizing this software-based double-precision floating-point support.

    • Benchmarks

      • The Current Spectre / Meltdown Mitigation Overhead Benchmarks On Linux 5.0

        With it being a little over one year since Spectre and Meltdown mitigations became public and with the Linux kernel today hitting the big “5.0″ release, I decided to run some benchmarks of the current out-of-the-box performance hit as a result of the current default mitigation techniques employed by the Linux kernel. The default vs. unmitigated performance impact for Spectre/Meltdown are tested on an Intel Core i7 and Core i9 systems while there is also an AMD Ryzen 7 box for reference with its Spectre mitigation impact on Linux 5.0.

        These tests are for reference purposes to see what the default/out-of-the-box performance cost is to Spectre/Meltdown on the Linux 5.0 kernel being released today. The near-final 5.0 Git snapshots were used for testing atop Ubuntu 18.10 on three different systems – the hardware is different in these systems in looking at their mitigated vs. unmitigated performance impact rather than looking at the raw CPU performance between systems.

      • 27 CPUs Benchmarked With AOM AV1, Intel SVT VP9/AV1/HEVC Video Encoders

        With there being a lot of interest from when Intel recently open-sourced their SVT-AV1 video encoder and more recently their VP9 video encoder also under the “Scalable Video Technologies” umbrella, here are benchmarks from 27 different systems showing off their performance. Plus for kicks there are also some other CPU-based video encode benchmarks including AOM-AV1 and others.

        As a lot of Phoronix readers were interested in the earlier SVT-AV1 benchmarks with how Intel is already making strides on their CPU-based video encoders, here are even more benchmarks using 27 different systems in the benchmark farm.

      • DiRT Rally 2.0 Linux NVIDIA vs. AMD Radeon 18-Way Steam Play Benchmarks

        Dirt Rally 2.0 was released last week by Codemasters as the successor to 2015′s Dirt Rally and another title on the EGO Engine. While Dirt Rally saw a native Linux port, Dirt Rally 2.0 hasn’t seen any port announced by Feral Interactive (though they are currently porting DiRT 4 to Linux), but what’s very exciting is this brand new Windows game runs great under Valve’s Steam Play with Proton and DXVK! The experience for Dirt Rally 2.0 is quite great on Linux already thanks to Steam Play and with this being a benchmark-friendly game, here are some NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon benchmarks of this racing game on Linux.

        Dirt Rally 2.0 is a single and multi-player game and it’s quite remarkable how well it’s already working at-launch with the latest Steam Play. The main caveat is just needing to add Codemasters’ CA certificate manually if wanting to connect to the RaceNET multi-player system, but aside from that issue it’s working out great on both Radeon and NVIDIA graphics — just like F1 2018 being another big winner with Steam Play.

  • Applications

    • 12 Best Free Linux CRM Software

      For a profit-making business to be successful, the customer must rank as the most important part of the chain. After all, without customers the business would not even exist.

      In simple terms, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) represents the way an organisation keeps track with its existing and potential future customers. CRM software offers the means to support these processes. This type of software stores information about customers. But its functionality far extends that of say a traditional database. It also allows companies to measure and control contacts with customers, to provide the flexibility to get the right information to the right individual at the right time.

      The purpose of this article is to focus on software which helps to improve the level of service provided by a firm to its customers, as well as to maximise the organisation’s profitability.

      To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 12 high quality free Linux CRM software. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wishes to enhance their organisation’s efficiency.

      Here’s our take on the open source CRM software.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine-Staging 4.3 Sees More Work Upstreamed While Adding In A Number Of New Patches

        Building off the exciting Wine 4.3 release that brought the FAudio implementation, the Wine-Staging crew has outed their newest development release. Wine-Staging 4.3 has upstreamed a number of their patches into Wine while introducing some new work too and then re-basing their existing nearly 800 patches.

        With the previous Wine-Staging release they cut below the 800 patch delta and with Wine-Staging 4.3 they are continuing that trend with a workload of only 790 patches. That’s thanks to a number of their patches being upstreamed while adding in some new fixes, yielding a few less patches compared to the prior release.

    • Games

      • 15 Must Have Gaming Tools For PC

        I can only imagine how much increase in players the gaming community has seen this year especially since our article on the 30+ Awesome Linux Games to Look Forward to in 2019.

        Today, we bring you a list of applications that, combined, work to provide the smoothest gaming experience.

      • Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall

        Welcome back to this new pygame project. In this chapter we will win and get to the next level of the game, if we lose then we will return to the beginning of that level. In the previous chapter, we have passed the game manager object to the boy sprite object so that boy sprite object can use that game manager to reset the game when it is game over or to increase the game level when that player had won the game. In this chapter, we will use the level manager object to replace the game manager object so the boy sprite object will directly call the level manager to reset the game or to increase the level of the game accordingly. In order to use this system, we will need to edit a few files. The first one is the game manager class where we will pass in the level manager to the boy sprite object.

      • ProtonDB released another data dump, here’s a quick look over some February 2019 info

        ProtonDB, the rather nice ratings website where you can go and give your thoughts on games played through Steam Play put out another data dump, here’s a look inside. This is following on from our first peek into it last month.

        The latest data dump is available here, which shows a total of 32,716 reports although that does include around 30 reports from March too. A very active system, good to see!

      • Space combat sim ‘ASTROKILL’ updated again, now has Ultrawide res support and more

        The Early Access space combat sim ASTROKILL continues to impress and this latest update should solve some issues our readers had with it before.

        Firstly, the developer says the game now official supports ultrawide resolutions. Linking into this, the menus should auto-adjust for those using such high resolutions.

        More display issues were solved with the latest release too, including vsync, windowed mode and more.

      • Deep Rock Galactic, a 1-4 player co-op FPS with a destructible environment works great in Steam Play

        For those itching to play through another FPS, you might want to take a look at Deep Rock Galactic from Ghost Ship Games.

        It recently had a free weekend on Steam, so making great use of it I decided to try it out for a few hours with Valve’s Steam Play and to my surprise it worked incredibly well.

        Next to traditional real-time strategy games, first-person shooters are my favourite genre of games to dive into and have some fun. Sadly, Linux is extremely underserved when it comes to these types of shooters and so Steam Play can really help bridge the gap here.

        It’s currently in Early Access and there seems to be no plan for a Linux version right now, with the only comment from the developer I can find on this on their Steam forum where they said “Hey there! We’d love to support other platforms in the future, but for now we are focused on the PC version.”. So it’s another good testing case for how well Steam Play can run Windows games on Linux.

      • Rusted Warfare, the awesome 2D RTS has new maps and multiplayer features

        If you’re a bit of an RTS nut like me, Rusted Warfare is a really fantastic choice. It’s been updated again with some fun new features and content.

        To keep you busy, this new release adds in two completely new maps with Valley Arena and Kingdoms. Both of these maps support up to 10 players, so you can have some huge battles!

      • Unravel the secrets of your new employer in ‘Yuppie Psycho’, a strange looking survival horror coming to Linux

        You know what it’s like starting a new job, it’s both exciting and terrifying. In Yuppie Psycho, it’s terrifying for a whole different reason.

        It recently appeared on Steam with Linux in the system requirements section. As we know, that’s not always confirmation of a Linux version. We reached out to the developer, Baroque Decay, to ask about it. They confirmed to us directly, that “Yes. It will be released on PC, Mac & Linux”.

      • Football-focused city-builder ‘Road to your City’ failed on Kickstarter, looks like it’s going to Early Access

        I’m quite sad about this one, Road to your City looked like an interesting city-builder that was switching things up nicely with a focus on building up a Football (Soccer) team but it’s failed the Kickstarter challenge.

        The campaign has ended, with only €1,769 of the €12,500 goal being pledged. Speaking about it in a new update, the developer mentioned how they struggled to get noticed. It’s not the end though, like many games that didn’t get what they needed through crowdfunding development will continue. They also said how they’re “very optimistic for releasing the Early Access version soon”.

      • Intense looking indie horror title ‘WOUNDED’ is coming to Linux

        The developer of WOUNDED, Workbench Entertainment, has confirmed that a Linux version of their short and intense horror title is on the way.

        As usual, someone asked on their Steam forum if it was going to release for Linux. The developer replied with “Definitely! Linux is coming in the upcoming updates.”, you can’t get much clearer than that!

      • Six years after the Kickstarter, the platformer and space shooter hybrid A.N.N.E is nearing a release

        Wow, that’s a name I haven’t heard for a while! A.N.N.E had a Kickstarter way back in May of 2013 and it’s finally closing in on an Early Access release.

        Truthfully, it’s a project that I didn’t really follow since their crowdfunding campaign. During the Kickstarter, the developer Gamesbymo Inc. managed to raise just over $100K from over 4K backers so there’s quite a few people waiting on it.

      • A look at what hot Linux gaming deals you can find this weekend

        The weekend has crashed into our lives once again, I’m here to give you a little look into what good deals you can find on some Linux games.

        First up, the new Humble Monthly is out and it comes with the strategy game Northgard which has a Linux version as an early unlock, a game I’m actually quite a big fan of! It also has Absolver and Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden as early unlocks which do not have Linux versions but they might work in Steam Play. As always, subscribing there also gives you access to tons of DRM-free titles in the Humble Trove (many have Linux versions too).

      • Linux Gaming News Punch – Episode 2

        Since the first episode was so well received, here’s the second episode of the Linux Gaming News Punch, a bite-sized look at some interesting Linux gaming news in both video and audio-only forms.

        This episode is a little bit longer (almost double), since keeping it to five minutes was just too cramped. I’m now aiming to keep it at 10 minutes or under, since that sticks to the main aim of giving you quick and interesting news while giving a little more breathing room. 10 minutes feels pretty good overall I think!

      • Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD, a revival of the classic freeware adventure game is coming to Linux

        For those who love their colourful adventure games, I spoke with Application Systems Heidelberg the publisher of Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD who confirmed it’s heading to Linux.

        This is actually a HD revamp of the original Nelly Cootalot from back in 2007 which did not have a Linux version. Since the original was a freeware game, this HD remake is not going to cost a lot. In fact, they said the price will be so small “the publisher will find it hard to discount it.”. On top of that, the first year of sales will be given over to the RSPB, a nature conservation charity which is rather sweet.

      • The seriously good platformer ‘Slime-san: Superslime Edition’ can now be grabbed on GOG

        The DRM-free store GOG have another addition to their Linux line-up with Slime-san: Superslime Edition now available.

        I’ve written about Slime-san numerous times here on GOL and for a very good reason, it’s a truly excellent and difficult platformer that’s absolutely bursting with content.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • 10 Best Flat Icon Themes For Linux

      Every Linux distribution comes with a couple of nice and clean icons themes. Many users just stick to only those themes and never try other awesome themes they’ve in the bag. In this article, I’m going to list out 10 best Flat design Linux icon themes that you’re going to love. So let’s get started!

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • 2019.03.02: Trinity Desktop Environment is getting ready for release R14.0.6!

        The TDE development team is happy to announce that the next maintenance version R14.0.6 has been finalized and preparation for release has begun. Final touches and package building is underway.

      • Trinity Desktop R14.0.6 Being Prepared To Let KDE 3 Continue Life In 2019

        Trinity Desktop R14.0.6 is being prepared as the latest update to this fork of the KDE 3 package set that continues providing bug fixes and maintenance for those still wanting to live on the KDE3 experience in 2019.

        Trinity continues being worked on where KDE 3.5 was left off. As with past Trinity Desktop Environment releases, it’s less about adding new/modern features to the desktop but more of just bug fixing and continuing to make the KDE 3.5 forked packages still build and work with other modern Linux/open-source components.

      • Visit our booth at OpenExpo Europe

        The event is held in Madrid, Spain, and the organisers have kindly given us a space on the exhibition floor. We will be showcasing the best of what KDE has to offer in the business world. This will include devices that will show off the versatility and potential of Plasma and Plasma Mobile on everything – from mobiles, embedded devices, SBCs and low-powered devices (like the Pinebook), to its capability for adapting to vehicle infotainment systems and high-end ultrabooks, like the KDE Slimbook.

        We will also be running videos and slide shows demonstrating the flexibility of Plasma, Plasma Mobile and all our applications on all platforms, and informing attendees how KDE Frameworks, such as Kirigami, can be useful for fast and flexible multiplatform development.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 60

        It’s time for week 60 for KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative, and this one is positively overflowing with goodies! Will you even be able to handle it? I THINK NOT!!!

      • KDE’s Kate Picks Up New Features, KWin Crash Fix When Launching Games

        KDE developers remain quite busy in preparing for Frameworks 5.56, the next KDE Plasma 5.15 point release, and KDE Applications 19.04 for ensuring KDE is polished as ever with its forthcoming 2019 releases.

        KDE developer Nate Graham continues doing a splendid job outlining the weekly bug fixes, polishing, and new features being worked on by the massive KDE development community.

      • Release GCompris 0.96

        We are pleased to announce the release of GCompris version 0.96.

        This new version includes updated translation for several languages, and a few bug fixes.

      • Krita Interview with Ari Suonpää

        The simplicity, great brush performance, and Linux support although I paint on a Surface Book.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Excellent GTK File Managers to Manage your Filesystem

        In the field of desktop environments, there are two desktops that dominate the open source landscape: KDE and GNOME. They are smart, stable, and generally stay out of the way.

        While KDE is more customizable than GNOME, both offer a lot of flexibility. For example, the best GNOME extensions and KDE widgets improve the desktop experience. At the basis of the main KDE technologies is Qt, a free and open source widget toolkit. And at the heart of GNOME is the free and open source GTK toolkit.

        GTK is a very popular toolkit. Offering a complete set of widgets, GTK is suitable for projects ranging from small tools to comprehensive application suites. GTK is mainly developed by The GNOME Project, which also develops the GNOME Development Platform and the GNOME Desktop Environment.

        We recently visited 15 Qt file managers. This article rates 15 GTK file managers.

  • Distributions

    • Best Linux Distributions for Desktops as of 2019

      When it comes to desktop computers, Linux has always been an underdog. In 2019, the desktop Linux market share sits at around 2.5 percent, but there are far more fantastic Linux distributions for desktops than ever before.In this article, we are taking a look at the top seven best Linux desktop distributions to show that compelling alternatives to Windows and macOS not only do exist but are readily available.

    • Reviews

      • 10-year-old eeePC netbook – with Xubuntu Bionic

        The sturdy little Asus eeePC is one of my best purchases ever. This 10-inch machine has served me loyally for almost a full decade, going to places, and I mean going to places. I’ve used it heavily for travel, and it’s done pretty much everything. I wrote books on it, edited media, used encryption, synced 100+ GB datasets with rsync, and it would give me 7-10 hours of battery, even with Wireless turned on. But age takes its toll.

        My latest experiment with this machine was upgrading the Trusty instance to Xerus, in both cases with the Xfce desktop. You should really read those two articles first to get the understanding of how time and system change affected this, er, system, rolling from 2015 to 2017 to present day 2019. To-day, I’d like to invite you to a most interesting experiment – to see whether a 10-year-old lowly netbook can still be relevant.

      • Review: Condres OS 19.02 “MATE”

        Condres OS 19.03 was published shortly after this review was finished and about two days before it was due to be published so I have not had a chance to fully test the new release. I did download the MATE edition of the new version. The MATE edition still uses the GNOME Shell desktop with desktop icons on the live media. Some icons work in the live environment, some do not. During the install process, the desktop keeps prompting the user for the administrator’s password. Dismissing the four prompts without providing a password does not negatively affect the install process.

        Once installed, the new version of Condres OS MATE appears to be virtually identical to the previous version, still featuring GNOME as the default desktop with MATE as an alternative. The one big change is every time the user logs in the interface is locked and we are prompted for the administrator’s password in order to allow pacman to check for updates. Once the check is complete, two update icons appear in the system tray. When I first installed Condres OS 19.03, selecting one icon told me 8 new packages were available while the second said there were 20. The latter turned out to be correct.

        There is a new update manager which lists available upgrades. None are selected by default and there is no “select all” button, leaving the user to select all new packages manually. The upgrade manager then then failed, indicating packages were in conflict with no method offered for resolving the situation. Beyond that, so far, I have found the new version to be much the same as the previous with some updated applications.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSECON 2019: My Kind of Open(Stack)

        It’s not too late to register for SUSECON – there are still spaces available, and there’s some great sessions on the agenda.

        My particular area of interest is OpenStack (you may have noticed that I have a slight bias towards this if you’ve read some of my other blogs), and there are some fantastic sessions for attendees of all levels.

      • The Open Source Approach to Accelerating Digital Transformation [iophk: "too much marketese"]

        According to “Connecting Capabilities: the Asian Digital Transformation Index”, a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, digital transformation continues to be a high priority for business leaders, as efforts in that space can lead to improved innovation, streamlined processes, cost savings, and the creation of new offerings that can both create new markets and defend against competition from disruptors.

        As digital transformation processes become more and more important for businesses, open source platforms will increasingly become a strategic investment for business, especially in order to stay resilient in the face of exponential activity and data growth as organizations take steps to keep pulse of changing customer demands.

      • SUSECON 2019: My Kind of Open(Stack)

        It’s not too late to register for SUSECON – there are still spaces available, and there’s some great sessions on the agenda.

        My particular area of interest is OpenStack (you may have noticed that I have a slight bias towards this if you’ve read some of my other blogs), and there are some fantastic sessions for attendees of all levels.

      • The Open Source Approach to Accelerating Digital Transformation [iophk: "too much marketese"]

        According to “Connecting Capabilities: the Asian Digital Transformation Index”, a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, digital transformation continues to be a high priority for business leaders, as efforts in that space can lead to improved innovation, streamlined processes, cost savings, and the creation of new offerings that can both create new markets and defend against competition from disruptors.

        As digital transformation processes become more and more important for businesses, open source platforms will increasingly become a strategic investment for business, especially in order to stay resilient in the face of exponential activity and data growth as organizations take steps to keep pulse of changing customer demands.

    • Slackware Family

    • Fedora

      • More Fun with Kubeadm & Fedora

        I recently wrote about getting up and running with kubeadm and Fedora CoreOS, which I got working, but which sent me into a miniature funk of uncertainly over various little integration issues.

        First, I was getting around the lack of support in rpm-ostree for rpms that place stuff in /opt, which isn’t a traditional place for package managers to put stuff, but which is where kubeadm puts its cni binaries, for historical reasons. I got the Fedora package that provides the cni binaries, containernetworking-plugins, and that doesn’t stick things into /opt, modified to say it provides kubernetes-cni, which is what the upstream kubernetes rpm maintainers call it, but I had to transgress against rpmlint by leaving out the version number. The upstream packagers call explicitly for cni version 0.6.0, while Fedora is shipping version 0.7.4.

        As far as I could tell, the later version worked just fine, but I wasn’t sure I’d get my package change merged while telling that lie of omission. That led me to wonder about whether I should try to convince the upstream packagers to move the cni binaries — kubernetes is hard coded to look for them in opt, but you can specify a different location when you’re setting things up, so getting the binaries moved to /usr/libexec/cni, where Fedora keeps them, could be an option. Or, I’ve played with some symlink-type trickery in the past to make cni binaries appear under /opt while actually installed elsewhere, so maybe I could convince the project to accept something like that.

    • Debian Family

      • Computer servers ‘stranded’ in space [Ed: Why the International Space Station uses GNU/Linux]

        A pair of Hewlett Packard Enterprise servers sent up to the International Space Station in August 2017 as an experiment have still not come back to Earth, three months after their intended return.

        Together they make up the Spaceborne Computer, a Linux system that has supercomputer processing power.
        They were sent up to see how durable they would be in space with minimal specialist treatment.

        After 530 days, they are still working.

      • Molly de Blanc: OSI Board elections – 2019

        I’m running for the Open Source Initiative board of directors!

        To be more precise, I’m running for re-election, as I’ve served on the board for the past three years.

      • Elana Hashman: I’m running for the Open Source Initiative Board of Directors

        The 2019 election for the Open Source Initiative Board of Directors is upon us, and I’m running for a seat on the board as an Individual Member.

        The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a shadowy cabal global non-profit organization that is primarily responsible for maintaining the Open Source Definition and list of approved Open Source Licenses, in addition to promoting and representing the wider open source community. If you use or care about open source software, the OSI impacts you!

      • Thorsten Alteholz: My Debian Activities in February 2019

        The freeze is approaching, so I only accepted 149 packages and rejected 5 uploads. The overall number of packages that got accepted this month was 229.

        Debian LTS

        This was my fifty sixth month that I did some work for the Debian LTS initiative, started by Raphael Hertzog at Freexian.

      • Ian Jackson: Nailing Cargo (the Rust build tool)

        I quite like the programming language Rust, although it’s not without flaws and annoyances.
        One of those annoyances is Cargo, the language-specific package manager. Like all modern programming languages, Rust has a combined build tool and curlbashware package manager. Apparently people today expect their computers to download and run code all the time and get annoyed when that’s not sufficiently automatic.

        I don’t want anything on my computer that automatically downloads and executes code from minimally-curated repositories like crates.io. So this is a bit of a problem.

        Dependencies available in Debian

        Luckily I can get nearly all what I have needed so far from Debian, at least if I’m prepared to use Debian testing (buster, now in freeze). Debian’s approach to curation is not perfect, but it’s mostly good enough for me.
        But I still need to arrange to use the packages from Debian instead of downloading things.

      • Keith Packard: snek-2019-mar

        I’ve been busy hacking on Snek for the past few weeks and thought I’d post a status report.

      • Derivatives

        • SolydXK 201902 released

          The 201902 ISOs were released. Here follow the highlights of the changes in this release.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 16.04.6 Released To Fix A Serious APT Vulnerability

            The Linux-based OS Ubuntu is known for its simplicity and security. It’s free, highly customizable and comes in lots of flavors. Yesterday, Ubuntu released an unscheduled update of its 16.04 LTS version to fix a major vulnerability.

            The update was developed for all its desktop and server products. According to researcher Max Justicz, the bug in the OS allowed attackers to play with the Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) and install infected packages. He also said that the APT was unable to handle certain parameters during redirects.

          • Ubuntu announced new point releases for 18.04 LTS and 16.04 LTS

            Canonical have released the second point release of Ubuntu 18.04 Long-Term Support (LTS) as Ubuntu 18.04.2 and have also released the sixth point release of Ubuntu 16.04 Long-Term Support (LTS) as Ubuntu 16.04.6.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint reveals upcoming logo and website changes

              Linux Mint is one of the most polished and beautiful operating systems. As more and more people reject Windows 10, Mint becomes a very attractive alternative. Looks aside, it is a stable and reliable Linux distribution too — it provides an overall excellent user experience.

              Unfortunately, the great looks of the Linux Mint operating system do not carry over to its website. What I’m trying to say is, the Linux Mint website is ugly and outdated. In the grand scheme of things that doesn’t matter much, but it could be a turnoff to new users.

            • Linux Mint project shares software and website developments

              Last month, the Linux Mint project announced that it was working on a new website to modernise the brand. In this month’s news digest, the project showed off a rough prototype of its new website, and even a new, rounder, logo which it thinks will scale down better. It also announced improvements to Cinnamon and the Mint tools.

              Following questions about why the previous site looked so dated, the Mint team set to work on a new look for the website. Describing the site, the Clem Lefebvre, head of the project said that the new design has less text but more prominent elements to present the operating system to new users. The sponsors down the side of the site are also going to get an update with monochrome logos which should fit well into the new design.

            • Linux Mint Reveals New Logo And Revamped Website

              Linux Mint, the popular Linux distribution based on Ubuntu and Debian is in the middle of getting a facelift. The logo of the elegant yet robust operating system is undergoing some significant changes along with the company’s website.

              The project head at Linux Mint explains that the objective behind this facelift is to resolve all issues with the current version including a broken scaling model.

              [...]

              Under the hood, DocInfo and AppSys have been simplified and input lag has been significantly reduced owing to which the window manager should now work faster. Furthermore, the applications menu applet has received a much-awaited speed boost.

              The update manager of the operating system has also been upgraded as a result of which it is now able to automatically remove packages related to old kernels which the system does not require any more.

              Lastly, mintreport (System Reports) now boasts a refined user interface and sports a XApp sidebar along with a new page for showing system information.

            • New Linux Mint Logo Revealed Alongside Further Updates

              Linux Mint is in the middle of getting a subtle facelift that concerns both the official website and the logo, and a few days ago, Clem Lefebvre provided us with a sneak peek at how everything could look when this redesign is finalized.

              First and foremost, it’s worth knowing that not everything is set in stone, and some of the elements that you see here could still change.

              The logo itself, for example, is still in the experimental stage, and the head of the project explains that it is specifically designed from the very beginning to resolve all the struggles with the current version, including the broken scaling model.

            • Linux Mint is Working on a New Logo

              A brand new Linux Mint logo may be on the way.

              The popular Ubuntu-based Linux distro has revealed plans to revise its iconic ‘leaf’ shape logo in favour of a more versatile brand mark.

              Mint project lead Clem Lefebvre explains more in his latest monthly news update, stating that his team is currently ‘experimenting’ with a new look for the logo.

              But why? What’s wrong with the current logo?

            • 5 Reasons To Use Ubuntu MATE

              5 reasons to use Ubuntu MATE. I have contributed both in ideas and in the past, financially to Ubuntu MATE. It’s a solid Linux distro that really shines in its stability and usability. Today I’m sharing my top five reasons why I think you should consider using Ubuntu MATE as your goto Linux distro.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How do open source programmers and developers earn for their developments

    We all come across hundreds of programs every day, where some are free, while others are paid. There is also a third variety of programs, which are open source. I have written a dedicated article where I have elaborated the difference between different types of programs, and you can find that here. Talking about open source programs, those programs are free to use, and you can even deep fry the source code to rejoice your taste buds. In the case of open source programs, a big group of enthusiastic programmers keeps the project alive by maintaining development and offer updates from time to time.

    While talking about how the developers of programs make money, there are numerous revenue structures of the developers is freeware and paid programs. Freeware programs can also have a paid or premium version, from which the developers can earn for their hard work. Money is no doubt the driving force for the economy, and getting money for developing programs keep motivating the developers to keep developing. But how the developers of the open source programs earn money? They obviously earn money but in a different way rather than pushing frequent notifications to the freeware users for upgrading to the premium version or by collecting data about the user and then use them to generate targetted advertisements.

  • Faces of Open Source: The Humans Behind the Movement

    One thing we never forget at IEEE Spectrum is that technology doesn’t automatically condense out of the laws of physics, like dew on leaves. Every bit of tech that exists, exists because someone worked to make it so. But it’s a harsh irony of engineering that the better designed something is, the more inconspicuous its creator becomes. This is especially true for software “down the stack”—the protocols, servers, operating systems, and other infrastructure upon which every app depends.

    Peter Adams is trying make some of those creators more visible—literally—with his online Faces of Open Source project. Adams takes striking photographs of contributors to the open source movement, from Unix designer Ken Thompson to more recent players such as information-security expert Yan Zhu.

    Adams embarked on his photographic mission in 2014. “Consumers don’t have much awareness that underneath the shiny wrappers that the commercial companies like Apple and Google are making is a foundation of open source software. I felt it was an incredible story that trillions of dollars of economic value could be created on the work of a relatively small group of people who essentially gave their intellectual property away for free. I started to really get interested in that, and meeting these people, and seeing who they really were,” says Adams.

  • Bitmain Releases Bugfix, But Sidesteps Open Source Issue

    James Hilliard, who discovered the unpatched bug, is refusing to disclose the additional vulnerability until Bitmain complies with the GPL software license. Bitmain’s firmware is currently closed source, but since it is built on GPL-licensed open source software, Bitmain is technically required to open source its firmware as well.

    Bitmain, for its part, has acknowledged that the open source community discovered a vulnerability in its firmware, but the update doesn’t indicate that Bitmain has any immediate plans to make its firmware open source. Bitmain does, however, throw the community a bone: It claims that it has created a “special team” to pursue compliance with open source code.

    It is not clear what Bitmain will do next, though Hilliard notes that the company has released its source code in the past. Regardless, there is a simple reason that releasing source code might matter: Public access to the code would allow the community to fix vulnerabilities without relying on Bitmain—and Hilliard believes that there are many more bugs to be found.

  • Open-source application creates super-resolution images of cell development in living animals

    A new tool may allow researchers to see more of the physiological state of living organisms at the cellular level, according to a study by the University of Notre Dame.

    Published in Development, the study shows how an open-source application, created by Notre Dame researchers, can utilize two different conventional microscope images obtained at low excitation powers to create one high-resolution, three-dimensional image. The application, dubbed DeSOS, combines imaging techniques used within the program: blind deconvolution (De), which allows for the recovery of blurred images in certain circumstances, and stepwise optical saturation super-resolution (SOS), an imaging method that helps extend the resolution beyond its typical diffraction limit.

    In full, DeSOS uses physics to identify differences between the two uploaded images and produce one image with significantly greater clarity than previously possible with standard lab equipment.

  • Modders Bring Half-Life To Oculus Go Via Quake’s Engine

    Thanks to the efforts of open source developers and modders, you can now play the original Half-Life on your Oculus Go.

  • The data processing evolution: A potted history

    How has (open source) data processing evolved and how have the different technologies progressed over time as data processing frameworks have become more sophisticated and the amount, and speed, of data generated has increased by the hour?

    [...]

    The next step in Big Data saw the introduction of Apache Spark. Spark allowed additional parallelisation and brought batch processing to the next level. As mentioned earlier, batch processing includes putting data into a storage system that you then schedule computations on. The main concept here is that your data sits somewhere while you periodically (daily, weekly, hourly) run computations to glean results based on past information. These computations don’t run continuously and have a start point and an endpoint. As a result, you have to re-run them on an ongoing basis for up-to-date results.

  • Meet Leon: The personal assistant of your dreams

    Meet Leon – an open-source personal assistant who lives on your server and does stuff for you, if you ask him to!

    Created by Louis Grenard, Leon is the personal assistant of your dreams! You can talk to each other, exchange text messages and even communicate with him while offline to protect your privacy.

  • ReactOS 0.4.11 “Open-Source Windows” Available With Big Kernel Improvements

    ReactOS 0.4.11 is now available as the newest version of this open-source operating system re-implementing the Windows APIs with a focus on binary driver/application compatibility. With this being the first release since November’s ReactOS 0.4.10, there are a fair amount of changes to find in this new build.

    ReactOS 0.4.11 features a lot of kernel improvements for this roughly two decade old open-source OS effort. There is work on ensuring proper ACLs, AHCI SATA controller support for Skylake and newer, file I/O handling enhancements, and a lot of other low-level alterations. The Win32 subsystem is busy as usual with CD-ROM support for DOS programs, networking improvements, font improvements, and more.

  • By Jupyter–Is This the Future of Open Science?

    In a recent article, I explained why open source is a vital part of open science. As I pointed out, alongside a massive failure on the part of funding bodies to make open source a key aspect of their strategies, there’s also a similar lack of open-source engagement with the needs and challenges of open science. There’s not much that the Free Software world can do to change the priorities of funders. But, a lot can be done on the other side of things by writing good open-source code that supports and enhances open science.

    People working in science potentially can benefit from every piece of free software code—the operating systems and apps, and the tools and libraries—so the better those become, the more useful they are for scientists. But there’s one open-source project in particular that already has had a significant impact on how scientists work—Project Jupyter…

  • Media, Events, CoC and casteism

    Last month, I was fortuitous to participate and also help out volunteering in some events. One of these events was Wordcamp which was held in Pune. I was fortunate to share some info. about Pune on the website but what I am and was proud about that I was able to suggest and get a CoC for the event. Although it’s a bit buried, it was needed in case people wanted to register. Now the reason I am sharing this blog post is I see that lot of events, especially rooted around technical talks do not use CoC and hence miss out in having a more diverse crowd and more than enough times have seen events lose people because they have not been cared for and there is no way for them to ask for help.

    To illustrate the point, I will share about an event which happened sometime back. While the number of people were small, in one of the conversations a person from a lower stratum of social order was attacked because the person had similar privileges than people from richer backgrounds at a lower cost and things got a bit heated. I/we the community lost some good people due to such kind of interaction. What I wanted to do was have a real conversation about topics such as ‘merit’ which again has multiple meanings and also depends partly from privileges and opportunities, some of which are there by accident of birth. I was unable to both comprehend both the hate and the ignorance on display when all the actors were in-between 16-18 years of age. I wish I had some tools so we could have a real discourse as I wanted do. Hopefully at some point I am able to learn non-violent communication so can communicate better in situations like these.

    While people think that the CoC is good only for women safety, in our community (thinking India as a community) where we have a variety in each and every sphere we have to be more inclusive, not less.

  • Michal Čihař: Weblate 3.5

    Weblate 3.5 has been released today. It includes improvements in the translation memory, addons or alerting.

  • Buildbot CI for DWZ

    Thanks to Tom de Vries your favorite DWARF Compression tool DWZ now has a testsuite. And there is now also a buildbot CI that tests various combinations of Fedora, CentOS and Debian on armhf, aarch64, ppc64, ppc64le, s390x, x86_64 and i386 to make sure no regressions slip in during development.

  • Web Browsers

    • Brave claims its mobe browser batt use bests whatever you’re using. Why? Hint: It begins with A then D then V…

      Brave ran some benchmark tests on the Android version of its browser, and – funnily enough – found it to be less power-hungry than a handful of competitors.

      Specifically, the benchmark involved running battery-historian, an open-source testing tool. Using a Samsung Galaxy S9 running Android 9.0, Brave’s researchers compared Chrome, Firefox, and Edge alongside browsers designed or configured to block ads including Firefox with uBlock Origin plugin, Adblock Browser, Firefox Focus, and Kiwi.

      The testing tool loads a series of websites in a new tab, waits five seconds and scrolls over the page multiple times for about 30 seconds. This routine gets executed over about 11 minutes, and gets repeated five times per browser, amounting to about an hour of browsing time per browser.

      “In our research, we show that Brave consumes 40 per cent less battery than popular browsers like Chrome, Edge, and Firefox, thanks to a combination of bandwidth savings and lower CPU pressure,” explained the San Francisco-based software maker on Monday. Compared to the ad-blocking browsers, Brave still consumed less battery power, as much as 20 per cent less, though Firefox with uBlock Origin, at 90mAh, on average, was close to Brave’s sub-80mAh.

    • Mozilla

      • Cameron Kaiser: Another choice for Intel TenFourFox users

        H.264 video has been a perennial request which I’ve repeatedly nixed for reasons of the MPEG LA threatening to remove and purée the genitals of those who would use its patents without a license, and more to the point using ffmpeg in Firefox and TenFourFox probably would have violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the Mozilla Public License. Currently, mainline Firefox implements H.264 using operating system support and the Cisco decoder as an external plugin component. Olga’s scheme does much the same thing using a separate component called the FFmpeg Enabler, so it should be possible to implement the glue code in mainline TenFourFox, “allowing” the standalone, separately-distributed enabler to patch in the library and thus sidestepping at least the Mozilla licensing issue. The provided library is a fat dylib with PowerPC and Intel support and the support glue is straightforward enough that I may put experimental support for this mechanism in FPR14.

        [...]

        On the other hand, if someone used Olga’s code as a basis for, say, a 10.5-specific PowerPC fork of TenFourFox enabling features supported in that OS (a la the dearly departed AuroraFox), I would have to insist that the name be changed so we don’t get people on Tenderapp with problem reports about it. Fortunately, Olga’s release uses the names TenFiveFox and TenSixFox for those operating system-specific versions, and I strongly encourage anyone who wants to do such a Leopard-specific port to follow suit.

      • How KaiOS claimed the third-place mobile crown

        In December 2015, Mozilla announced it would be abandoning Firefox OS as a smartphone platform.

      • Mozilla updates Common Voice dataset with 1,400 hours of speech across 18 languages

        Mozilla’s updated Common Voice dataset contains more than 1400 hours of speech data from 42000 contributors across more than 18 languages.

      • Mozilla Argues Australia’s Encryption Busting Legislation Needs To be Repealed

        Mozilla has added its voice to criticism of Australia’s recently enacted anti-encryption laws, warning that they could effectively force companies to treat Australian employees as potential saboteurs.

        Austrailia’s controversial legislation is known as TOLA, the Telecommunication & Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance & Access) Act of 2018. A draft bill was presented in August 2018 and it was enacted in December 2018, just before the Australian Parliament rose for its Christmas break. It sets out to tackle the problem posed by end-to-end encryption, used by services such as What’s App, which allows only the sender and recipient to view a message, enhancing privacy and security. However, by preventing a message from being unscrambled by the service provider, end-to-end encryption provides the opportunity for avoiding surveillance.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • NSF funds second round of OSC’s Open OnDemand

      The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded funding to a team led by the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) for further development of Open OnDemand, an open source software platform supporting web-based access to high performance computing (HPC) services. The project team consists of representatives from OSC, the University at Buffalo and Virginia Tech.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • health @ Savannah: GNU Health control center 3.4.1 is out !

      We just released GNU health control center 3.4.1 !
      It mainly fixes an issue with the file format of the translation files from pootle on our GNU Health translation portal, when executing the getlang command.
      You can update automatically the gnuhealth control center using the command

  • Public Services/Government

    • World’s Largest FOSS Facility, Launched By Kerala

      FOSS is a software that have licenses that allow users to freely run the program for any purpose, modify the program as they want, and also allows users to freely distribute copies of either the original version or their own modified version. The previous day, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched ‘Swatantra’, that is now billed as the world’s largest integrated Free and Open Source IT facility in a government sector. While a leaning step towards the International Center for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) was forwarded, Swatantra would take care of the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Incubation Center & Training Space according to the reports.

      It aims at improving and developing the governments ideologies to formulate the promotion of democratic access of information, keeping in mind the objective of sustainable economic development. ICFOSS is an institution planned by the Kerala government that has the connected mandate of marketing FOSS for global significance. Back in 2001, Kerala became the first state in India to formally adopt a pro-FOSS IT policy and then later in 2009, the state government began ICFOSS, mentioning its headquarters in Thiruvanthapuram.

    • Kerala Chief minister launches ‘Swatantra’ IT facility [Ed: I've been told this is "fake news"; Kerala is really just moving this to another building; much reporting though...]

      Today, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has now launched and revealed a ‘Swatantra’ which is billed as one of the largest integrated open sources and free IT facility in the government sector.

      An initiative of the International Centre for the Open and Free Source Software, Swtantra would also house the open and free source software Incubation Center and Training Space.

      It is also aimed at enhancing the government agenda of promoting democratic access to the information with the objective of sustainable economic development.

      ICFOSS is an institution set up by the Kerala government and having the combined mandate of the popularizing FOSS for universal use.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • The Challenge Of RISC-V Compliance

        The open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA) continues to gain momentum, but the flexibility of RISC-V creates a problem—how do you know if a RISC-V implementation fits basic standards and can play well with other implementations so they all can run the same ecosystem? In addition, how do you ensure that ecosystem development works for all implementations and that all cores that claim to be RISC-V have implemented the specification correctly?

        RISC-V chip developers need to delve into conformance testing. The good news is the RISC-V Compliance framework is being developed to ensure that a product claiming to be a RISC-V core will run a common set of applications, tools and system software. But conformance testing skills in each EDA team will need to be developed.

      • Hex Five and wolfSSL Announce the First Secure IoT Stack for RISC-V

        wolfSSL, a leading provider of TLS cryptography and Hex Five Security, provider of MultiZone™ Security, the first Trusted Execution Environment for RISC-V announce general availability of the industry-first secure IoT stack for RISC-V – a TLS 1.3 reference implementation of freeRTOS with hardware-enforced separation between OS, TCP/IP stack and root of trust.

      • Glowtie is Perfect For Those Fancy Dress Raves

        Are you bored of your traditional bow tie? Do you wish it had RGB LEDs, WiFi, and a web interface that you could access from your smartphone? If you’re like us at Hackaday…maybe not. But that hasn’t stopped [Stephen Hawes] from creating the Glowtie, an admittedly very slick piece of open source electronic neckwear that you can build yourself or even purchase as an assembled unit. Truly we’re living in the future.

      • Blink An LED On The Internet Of Things

        The “WiFi HDD LED” created by [Limbo] is essentially just that, a status LED that can be triggered remotely thanks to the WiFi capability of the ever-popular ESP8266. Don’t think there’s much use for a wireless LED that blinks when your computer’s hard drive is thrashing around? Maybe not, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a good way to get your feet wet in the world of ESP hacking.

      • Meet Tympan, The Open Hardware Hearing Aid

        If you’re the kind of person who’s serious about using open source software and hardware, relying on a medical device like a pacemaker or an insulin pump can be a particular insult. You wouldn’t trust the technology with your email, and yet you’re forced to put your life into the hands of a device you can’t examine yourself. Unfortunately we don’t (yet) have any news to report on open source pacemakers, but at least now there’s an open software and hardware hearing aid for those who need it.

        [...]

        The latest version of the Tympan hardware, revision D, is powered by the Teensy 3.6 and features a Sierra Wireless BC127 Bluetooth radio, dual MEMS microphones, and even a microSD slot for recording audio or logging data. It might be a bit bigger than the traditional hearing aids you’re used to seeing, but with an external microphone and headphone setup, the wearer could simply keep it in their pocket.

        We’ve seen DIY hearing aids before, but unless you’re willing to carry a breadboard around with you, they’ve generally been limited to proof of concept sort of builds. We’re glad to see a mature project like Tympan join the growing movement for open source medical hardware; it’s a another big step forward towards democratizing these critical pieces of technology.

  • Programming/Development

    • Kiwi TCMS: Want to hack open source ?

      It is fine not to have any experience at all! You will compensate with commitment and hard work. Initially you are going to work on refactoring, cleaning up pylint errors, removing duplicate code and other issues reported by CodeClimate.

      By doing this you will have the opportunity to learn git, Python, Django, some CSS, JavaScript and Patternfly HTML of course. We are going to provide you with all the learning materials plus help and guidance from existing team members.

      Everyone on the team has gone though the same training procedure and grueling tasks and so will you! Once you can demonstrate progress and learn the ropes you will continue working on more complicated tasks.

    • Ned Batchelder: Mutmut

      Mutation testing is an old idea that I haven’t yet seen work out, but it’s fascinating. The idea is that your test suite should catch any bugs in your code, so what if we artificially insert bugs into the code, and see if the test suite catches them?

      Mutation testers modify (mutate) your project code in small ways, then run your test suite. If the tests all pass, then that mutation is considered a problem: a bug that your tests didn’t catch. The theory is that a mutation will change the behavior of your program, so if your test suite is testing closely enough, some test should fail for each mutation. If a mutation doesn’t produce a test failure, then you need to add to your tests.

      There are a few problems with this plan. The first is that it is time-consuming. Most people feel like it takes too long to run their entire test suite just once. Mutation testers run the whole suite once for each mutation, and there can be thousands of mutations.

    • Ansible-bender reaches 0.5.0
    • Data from dingbats: copying down
    • Laravel Horizon 3.0 is Released Featuring a New Dark Mode

      The Laravel team shipped Horizon 3.0 yesterday, featuring a new dark mode and other improvements. The overhaul of the Horizon UI includes a new “Night Mode” option and tidying up the jobs list and failed job details screen.

      [...]

      To get an overview of what Horizon can do for queue management, check out the main Laravel Horizon landing page. If you are new to Horizon, the Laravel documentation is an excellent place to start to learn how to install and configure Horizon for your application. Horizon is an open-source project, so you can also view and contribute to the source code on GitHub at laravel/horizon.

    • A guide to DevOps CI/CD tools
    • The OpenJDK Transition: Things to know and do
    • SAP builds its own Java distribution

      Despite its being another Java distribution, which could vie with other Java offerings from companies such as Oracle and IBM, SAP maintains it is not looking to divide the Java community. “We want to stress that this is clearly a ‘friendly fork.’ SAP is committed to ensuring the continued success of the Java platform,” the company wrote. SAP pointed out it serves on the JCP (Java Community Process) executive committee and has contributed to OpenJDK.

      SapMachine releases align with releases of OpenJDK. The current production version is SapMachine 11 Long Term Support. Up next is the release of SapMachine 12, an implementation of Java Development Kit (JDK) 12, which is due on March 19. Afterward, work will begin on SapMachine 13.

    • 6 Programming Languages To Choose From To Build AI Chatbot
    • More Languages to the F-Droid Planet?

      You may know about Planet F-Droid, a feed aggregator that aims to collect the blogs of many free Android projects in one place. Currently all of the registered blogs are written in English (as is this post, so if you know someone who might be concerned by the matter below and is not able to understand English, please feel free to translate for them).

    • Gearing Up For Google Summer of Code

      The mentoring organizations for the GSoC 2019 have been announced. This will be the 15th edition of Google’s program to match university students to open source organizations for three month’s worth of online programming experience over the summer break.

      GSoc is popular both with university students, who can earn a stipend from Google while making a worthwhile contribution to an open source projects, and to open source organizations which gain valuable assistance from students who are eager to do well and have something worthwhile to add to their resumes.

    • Google launches Flutter 1.2 and Dart DevTools, a web-based suite of programming tools

      Flutter is one of the newest additions to the arsenal for app developers. It’s a UI framework for building beautiful, fluid, and interactive cross-platform native apps on iOS and Android using the Dart language. The first stable release of the cross-platform development toolkit was released just three months ago. Today, Google announced the first feature updated for Flutter, Flutter 1.2, at Mobile World Congress, along with a new web-based suite of programming tools called Dart DevTools.

    • SD Times news digest: HackerRank’s Test Health Dashboard, Rust 1.33, and Flutter 1.2

      HackerRank has announced a new way for businesses to improve their hiring processes. Test Health Dashboard will provide organizations with data necessary to improve skills assessments, deliver good candidate experiences, and effectively hire the right people.

      Most companies are flying blind when it comes to technical recruiting. We launched our Tech Talent Matrix this past September to give customers their first-ever insight into the effectiveness of their technical recruiting efforts,” said Gaurav Verma, vice president of customer success at HackerRank. “Today, we’re going one step further in our commitment to helping businesses make smarter decisions around technical hiring. The Test Health Dashboard gives recruiters and hiring managers real-time analytics around each role, equipping them with the data to better attract, evaluate, and hire the talent they need.”

    • Trends In Security Testing: The Rise and Exploitation of Software Bugs

      Worldwide digital transformation means that more businesses need more code more quickly. But hasty code means buggy code; and buggy code leads to poor systems, vulnerabilities, exploits, and failed compliance, writes Richard Mort, Director at Edge Testing Solutions.

    • Search for any particular currency pair within the Forex data

      Before we start this chapter I just want to tell you people that I have extended this website for another year by paying the full year rent for web hosting. The goal I start this website is not to make money from it but to share what I know in programming with all of you, therefore I certainly do not expect any large income from a site like this. I myself is a tech and programming lover and I like to play with new tech stuff and create cool software to use in every day life. Although all the above statements are true there is one thing we all need to know which is although I can always provide free code for the readers but I do need to pay rent for this website every month, thus I would like to take this opportunity to ask for your kind donation to help this site out, the donation form is located at the sidebar of this website, I really don’t mind how much money you donate to me, 1 usd is as good as 100 USD as long as there is enough money to finance this website to keep it going. So friend, kindly provide your support to me through donation, thank you in advance. Alright, without wasting anymore time, let us begin this new chapter.

    • JavaScript dapps: Build decentralized apps with Blockstack

      While Bitcoin has its ups and downs, decentralized apps or “dapps” remain a hot topic in software development circles. “Smart contracts” tend to be part of the same conversations, implying that you need to learn new programming languages, development practices, deployment strategies, security testing, and the list goes on. But writing dapps doesn’t have to be so complicated.

    • Python 2.7.16 released

      A bug fix release in the 2.7 series, 2.7.16, is not available for download.

    • PyBites: PyBites Twitter Digest – Issue 03, 2019
    • How to write a Python web framework. Part III.

      In the part 2, we wrote a couple of unit tests. However, we stopped when we needed to send HTTP requests to our handlers because we didn’t have a test client that could do that. Let’s add one then.

      By far the most popular way of sending HTTP requests in Python is the Requests library by Kenneth Reitz. However, for us to be able to use it in the unit tests, we should always have our app up and running (i.e. start gunicorn before running tests). The reason is that Requests only ships with a single Transport Adapter, the HTTPAdapter. That defeats the purpose of unit tests. Unit tests should be self sustained. Fortunately for us, Sean Brant wrote a WSGI Transport Adapter for Requests that we can use to create a test client. Let’s write the code first and then discuss.

    • Tidy up the user interface of the Forex application

      Hello and welcome back to this Forex application project. After all the hard work in the previous chapter we will go lightly in this chapter by tidying up the user interface of this Forex application. We will include an icon for this application on the application window plus edit the background color and the padding of the tkinter’s widget accordingly. Below is the edit version of this application.

Leftovers

  • Skyrim mod drama gets ugly with allegations of stolen code and misappropriated donations

    The people who volunteer their time modifying and updating old games are among the most generous of developers. So when drama erupts there’s not just irritation and testy emails but a sense of a community being betrayed or taken advantage of. A recent conflict over work on the perennially renewed classic Skyrim may seem small, but for those involved, it’s a huge upset.

  • Glorious Bitchery: Yorgos Lanthimos and “The Favourite”

    How rich is Lanthimos in depicting this, refusing to lecture, or hector his audience; what interests are the struggles of three women in power. Watch this, and be enthralled. As for the fact checking monsters who come out in droves at the release of any period drama, hoping to spot historical howlers and cross-check the history books, Lanthimos has the ideal answer. “Some of the things in the film,” he says with contentment, “are accurate and a lot aren’t.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Organic production logo of the EU may not be placed on meat derived from animals that have been slaughtered in accordance with religious rites if not first being stunned. New decision of the Court of Justice of the EU C-497/17

      A new decision of the Court of Justice of the EU, C-497/17, Oeuvre d’assistance aux bêtes d’abattoirs (OABA) v Ministre de l’Agriculture et de l’Alimentation and Others delivered on February 26, 2019, clarified that an organic production logo of the EU may not be placed on meat derived from animals that have been slaughtered in accordance with religious rites if not first being stunned. “Organic production logo” refers to the mark attributed to alimentary products that are produced according to the applicable EU regulatory framework. The ruling ( here) resulted from a request from the French association Oevre d’assistance aux bêtes d’abattoirs (OABA, submitted to the Ministre de l’ Agriculture et de l’Alimentation (French Minister for Agriculture and Food). The issue concerned the ban of the use of the term “organic farming” in the marketing and packaging of minced beef certified “halal”, when the slaughter of the animals is carried out without pre-stunning in accordance with Muslim religious law.

      [...]

      The Court concludes that the Organic logo of the EU is not authorized for products derived from animals that have been slaughtered in accordance with religious law but without first having been stunned. One of the arguments the Court made in supporting this interpretation concerns the objective of maintaining and justifying consumer confidence in products labelled as organic.

      Consumers need to be reassured that products bearing the Organic logo of the EU have in fact been obtained in observance of the highest standards, in particular in the area of animal welfare. This may only be guaranteed when slaughter takes place only after stunning.

    • EPA’s plan to regulate chemical contaminants in drinking water is a drop in the bucket

      After more than a year of community meetings and deliberations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in February 2019 that it would begin the process of regulating two drinking water contaminants, seeking to stem a growing national public health crisis. If EPA follows through, this would be the first time in nearly 20 years that it has set an enforceable standard for a new chemical contaminant under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

      The chemicals at issue, PFOA and PFOS, have contaminated drinking water supplies across the country affecting millions of Americans. They belong to a class of synthetic chemicals called PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, that are widely used in products including firefighting foams, waterproof apparel, stain-resistant furniture, food packaging and even dental floss.

    • WATCH: EWG Asked People If They’d Like to Eat Cereal With Monsanto’s Weedkiller in It

      Given a choice between cereals that likely contained varying levels of glyphosate, and oat-based cereal grown organically without the toxic weedkiller, the steady stream of people who took the taste test all chose the one free of Monsanto’s carcinogenic herbicide.

      “The response by everyone who participated in the taste test confirms what EWG has been saying for years,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Nobody wants to eat toxic pesticides with their food.”

      “Unfortunately, it appears executives at big food companies like General Mills and Quaker don’t agree, even though it would be an easy fix to produce these cereals without glyphosate,” Cook said. “The companies continue to hide behind the federal government’s excessively high limits for glyphosate in food, and have not responded to multiple requests from EWG to pursue solutions,” Cook added.

      Two separate rounds of laboratory tests commissioned last year by EWG found glyphosate — the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller — in nearly every sample of popular oat-based cereal and other oat-based food marketed to children.

    • Insecticide linked to increased breast cancer risk — 40 years after exposure

      Melinda Lewis remembers splashing in the irrigation canals that outlined her grandpa’s walnut and almond groves in the late 1960s.

      Two decades earlier, her mother had played in those same Escalon, California, farm fields as crop dusters flew overhead, releasing a new “miracle” chemical—a war-time innovation—the insecticide known as DDT. Since a bout with atypical hyperplasia, a pre-cancerous breast condition, in 1997 at age 36, Lewis often has wondered whether exposures to farm chemicals in childhood—her own and her mother’s—may have heightened her health risks.

      In recent decades, it’s become increasingly clear that certain adult diseases may have their origins in childhood—or before. Early-life exposures—including those that take place in the womb—may hold the key to understanding who gets diseases such as breast cancer or heart disease, say environmental researchers.

      Some of the most reliable evidence for this link comes from exposures that took place during World War II. Years after the Dutch “Hunger Winter” of 1944-1945, babies conceived during the famine were more likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in adulthood than their peers born shortly afterwards.

      Teenage girls in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were far more likely to develop breast cancer years after the atomic bombings than women who had been 35 years or older when the radiation exposures occurred.

    • Petrochemical Giants Are Slowly Killing Black Louisiana Communities

      A large-scale methanol plant for processing natural gas made dirt-cheap by the fracking boom is also on the way, thanks to backing from Saudi Arabian petrochemical interests. Across the river, two Chinese companies are working on their own chemical and menthanol plants. Downriver from Cayette’s home, oil and gas pipelines feed expanding “tank farms” between the east bank neighborhoods of St. James.

      [...]

      As Rev. Barber began his keynote speech, he asked audience members to raise their hands if they knew someone who had died from cancer in Cancer Alley. Hands flew up across the room.

      Lavigne says she has seen enough illness in her community to know that existing sources of pollution are causing problems, and the addition of one more plant will make her neighborhood unlivable. Still, Lavigne says the moral revival was a bright spot in the RISE campaign to stop Formosa, and she is not losing faith. She recently gathered 537 signatures on a petition to the parish zoning commission; buses of activists are arriving from New Orleans. In November, RISE St. James held a march against Formosa, and Lavigne is already thinking about the next one.

      “I asked God what I could do to stop this plant from coming, and He said ‘fight,’ and I ain’t stopped since,” Lavigne says. “And that plant ain’t coming.”

      The post Petrochemical Giants Are Slowly Killing Black Louisiana Communities appeared first on Truthout.

    • ‘One of the Best Cases For Single Payer I’ve Ever Seen’: Watch Dr. Adam Gaffney Take on Skeptics at Fox

      Amid mounting excitement over new Medicare for All legislation unveiled this week, Dr. Adam Gaffney took on a panel of skeptics at Fox Business Network on Friday, delivering a widely celebrated argument for why U.S. lawmakers need to heed the growing public demands to replace private for-profit health insurance with a national single-payer system.

      “Guys, you MUST watch this,” tweeted Briahna Joy Gray of The Intercept. In the nine-minute segment, she said, Gaffney “makes one of the best cases for single payer I’ve ever seen.”

  • Security

    • Mimikatz tutorial: How it hacks Windows passwords, credentials

      Mimikatz is an open source Windows utility available for download from GitHub. First developed in 2007 to demonstrate a practical exploit of the Microsoft Windows Local Security Authority Subsystem Service, or LSASS, Mimikatz is capable of dumping account login information, including clear text passwords stored in system memory.

    • New exploit lets attackers take control of Windows IoT Core devices
    • Dow Jones’ watchlist of 2.4 million high-risk individuals has leaked

      A watchlist of risky individuals and corporate entities owned by Dow Jones has been exposed, after a company with access to the database left it on a server without a password.

      Bob Diachenko, an independent security researcher, found the Amazon Web Services-hosted Elasticsearch database exposing more than 2.4 million records of individuals or business entities.

      The data, since secured, is the financial giant’s Watchlist database, which companies use as part of their risk and compliance efforts. Other financial companies, like Thomson Reuters, have their own databases of high-risk clients, politically exposed persons and terrorists — but have also been exposed over the years through separate security lapses.

    • Tomcat and Kafka Selected for EU Bug Bounty Programme

      The European Union recently launched a bug bounty program for critical infrastructure projects, offering financial compensation to anyone who finds and reports a new security flaw.

      The bug bounty is offered as part of FOSSA, the “Free and Open Source Software Audit” project. The FOSSA list includes two notable Java projects: Apache Tomcat and Kafka. Other projects, such as KeePass, are available now.

    • Highly Critical Drupal Vulnerability Could Expose Sites to RCE Attacks, Developers Warn
    • Bunnie Huang’s tour-de-force explanation of how hardware implants and supply chain hacks work
    • Alleged Coinomi $60,000 exploit shows how easy it is to have your Bitcoin stolen
    • ‘Thunderclap’ vulnerability could leave Thunderbolt computers open to attacks
    • Most laptops vulnerable to attack via peripheral devices

      The research, to be presented today (26 February) at the Network and Distributed Systems Security Symposium in San Diego, shows that attackers can compromise an unattended machine in a matter of seconds through devices such as chargers and docking stations.

      Vulnerabilities were found in computers with Thunderbolt ports running Windows, macOS, Linux and FreeBSD. Many modern laptops and an increasing number of desktops are susceptible.

      [...]

      Computer peripherals such as network cards and graphics processing units have direct memory access (DMA), which allows them to bypass operating system security policies. DMA attacks abusing this access have been widely employed to take control of and extract sensitive data from target machines.

    • Sysdig Introduces eBPF Instrumentation to Extend Cloud-native Visibility and Security to Container-Optimized Linux Platforms
    • Thunder, thunder, thunder… Thunderclap: Feel the magic, hear the roar, macOS, Windows pwnage tools are loose
    • Warning: Your Identity Will Be Stolen

      But I’ve also had a striking realization that has changed my attitude about computer security forever. Instead of assuming my data is safe in the hands of third parties, I take it for granted that it’s not.

    • Goodbye IPCop

      The IPCop Project has now officially been abandoned. After 18 years, the website has been shut down and for over four years, we have not seen a new release. Although this is sad, there is something positive to it…

    • White hat hackers to gather at Tehran cybersecurity conference

      A white hat hacker is a computer security specialist who use their skills to improve security by exposing vulnerabilities before malicious hackers, known as black hat hackers, can detect and exploit them.

      The event will be held by an Iranian independent research company which studies the web/binary analysis, exploit development, stegano/crypt analysis, forensics and SE.

      There is no roadmap for those who want to be active in different fields of cybersecurity in Iran, the company’s director Amir Rasouli said.

    • Indo-Pak tensions play out in cyberspace, websites hit

      After successive waves of attacks were thwarted, the government advised all departments to not violate “Standard Operating Procedures” and be on the alert. The exact nature and extent of India’s offensive operation, and the agencies behind this aren’t known.

    • Indian Hackers On The Offensive After Successive Hits On Govt Sites

      A recent report by Hindustan Times stated that hackers from Pakistan attacked over 90 websites of the Indian Government. The recent escalations in tensions between the neighbors led to a surge in attacks in cyberspace, targeting key infrastructures.

      The death of 40 CRPF personnel in a recent terror strike by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad led to India retaliating with airstrikes on terrorist launch pads in Balakot, Pakistan. The attack is said to have wiped out a few hundred terrorists including leader Masood Azhar’s brother in law, Yousuf Azhar.

    • Indian Govt. Justifies Spying On Computers Citing Security Reasons

      The Indian Government has yet again defended its decision to let government agencies conduct surveillance of computers under the IT act, 2000. Interception of messages by these agencies has been legalized under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.

      Reported by Gadgets 360, the center defended its decision stating various security concerns including an increase in radicalization, drug cartels, organized crime, and terrorism.

    • Government Defends Snooping, Citing Grave Threat to Security

      The Centre on Friday defended its decision to authorise 10 agencies to undertake surveillance by intercepting, monitoring or decrypting any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and interception of messages under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.

      Citing “grave threat to the country from terrorism, radicalisation, cross border terrorism, cyber crime, organised crime, drug cartels”, the Centre in its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on Friday said: Though Right to Privacy is a sacred Fundamental Right, the veil of privacy can be lifted for legitimate state interest, sovereignty or integrity of India, friendly relations with foreign states or public order.

      The list of the grounds justifying the surveillance by the state agencies also includes “preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence” involving the interest of the state necessitating investigation.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Why Pakistan can’t rein in the terror group that killed US journalist Daniel Pearl, or the one that staged Mumbai attack

      Jaish-e-Mohammed, a secretive Islamist militia based in Pakistan, is known mostly in the West for its involvement in the abduction and gruesome, video-recorded beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl while he was working in Pakistan in early 2002.

    • North Korea’s Kim Leaves Vietnam After Summit Breakdown

      Smiling and holding up his clasped hands in a victorious pose, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday boarded his private train at the Vietnam-China border for a 60-plus-hour ride home, ending a trip to Vietnam that saw a summit breakdown with President Donald Trump.

      He spent his last day in Hanoi laying large red-and-yellow wreaths at a war memorial and at the mausoleum of national hero Ho Chi Minh, surrounded by Vietnamese soldiers in crisp white uniforms and his own entourage of top North Korean officials. At the border, he got out of his armored limousine and clasped his hands, waving to a crowd of people cheering his departure.

      Since Trump flew home to Washington, Kim has stepped assuredly into the spotlight, keen to show himself as a poised leader taking his rightful place on the international stage. He met Friday with President Nguyen Phu Trong, the country’s top leader and Communist Party chief, grinning broadly as he was feted by top officials and escorted down a red carpet.

      As Kim met with officials in Hanoi, the United States and North Korea have both been spinning their versions of what happened during one of the most high-profile diplomatic collapses in recent years.

    • SKorea, U.S. End Springtime Military Drills to Back Diplomacy

      South Korea and the U.S. are eliminating their massive springtime military drills and replacing them with smaller exercises in what they call an effort to support diplomacy aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis.

      The decision announced by both countries Sunday came after President Donald Trump complained about the cost of joint drills even as his high-stakes second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam collapsed last week.

    • The lobbyists behind the Trump-Saudi Arabia nuclear deal under House investigation

      The House Committee on Oversight and Reform announced last week it would be probing Trump administration allies and their push to have the U.S. government share nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia. The committee’s report explained how an organization called IP3 International developed a plan for U.S. companies to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia dubbed the “Middle East Marshall Plan.”

      The report alleges Michael Flynn, while he was national security advisor to Trump’s presidential campaign and transition, and Thomas Barrack, chairman of the Trump Inaugural Committee and friend to the president, were proponents of the IP3 plan since at least the summer of 2015 and into the time Flynn was a White House advisor. Whistleblowers to the House committee were concerned that the plans, and administration officials’ links to them, would violate U.S. law.

      Since early 2018, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy, Industry and Natural Resources has employed two U.S. firms to “provide advice and assistance concerning a potential bilateral agreement with the U.S. concerning peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” according to FARA filings and initially reported by Bloomberg.

    • The ex-FSB agent who teaches Moscow State University students that the Salisbury attack was invented to embarrass Russia is now planning to host the suspected attackers at an academic conference

      Moscow State University might host an academic conference devoted in part to “the experience of Western intelligence agencies in the organization of information and psychological intervention on Russian territory.” Titled “First Skripal Readings,” the event will supposedly address the anniversary of the nerve-agent attack in Salisbury, England, that nearly killed Sergey and Yulia Skripal, and later resulted in the death of a British woman named Dawn Sturgess.

      Speaking to the radio station Govorit Moskva, Professor Andrey Manoilo, a former Federal Security Service agent and a current member of the Russian Security Council’s Scientific Council, said he has invited “Alexander Petrov” and “Ruslan Boshirov” (the supposed false identities of Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, the two suspected military intelligence agents who allegedly carried out the attack on March 4, 2018).

    • Top Huawei Executive Sues Canada Over Her Detention

      An executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei is suing the Canadian government, its border agency and the national police force, saying they detained, searched and interrogated her before telling her she was under arrest.

      Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou said Sunday they filed a notice of civil claim in the British Columbia Supreme Court. Canada arrested Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, at the request of the U.S. on Dec. 1 at Vancouver’s airport. She is wanted on fraud charges that she misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

      The suit alleges that instead of immediately arresting her, authorities interrogated Meng “under the guise of a routine customs” examination and used the opportunity to “compel her to provide evidence and information.” The suit alleges Canada Border Service Agency agents seized her electronic devices, obtained passwords and unlawfully viewed the contents and intentionally failed to advise her of the true reasons for her detention. The suit said only after three hours was she told she was under arrest and had right to counsel.

    • Giving the Bomb to Saudi Arabia’s Dr. Strangelove

      The most dangerous foreign policy decision of the Trump administration—and I know this is saying a lot—is its decision to share sensitive nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia and authorize U.S. companies to build nuclear reactors in that country. I spent seven years in the Middle East. I covered the despotic, repressive kingdom as the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. And I, along with most other Arabists in the United States, have little doubt that giving a nuclear capability to Saudi Arabia under the leadership of the ruthless and amoral Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would see it embark on a nuclear weapons program and eventually share weaponized technology with Saudi allies and proxies that include an array of radical jihadists and mortal enemies of America. A nuclearized Saudi Arabia is a grave existential threat to the Middle East and ultimately the United States.

      The drive to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia is led by the half-wit son-in-law of the president, Jared Kushner, who met Tuesday with Salman in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, to discuss “ways to improve the condition of the entire region through economic investment,” according to the White House. Prominently involved in that economic program are corporations such as IP3 International, a consortium of U.S. companies led by several retired generals and admirals and others who stand to make millions from the deal.

      The Saudi government, which is soliciting bids for the nuclear reactors, reportedly spent more than $450,000 over a one-month period to lobby the Trump administration to approve its purchase of the equipment and services from U.S. sources. Westinghouse Electric Co. and other American companies are preparing to construct the facilities, which would allow Saudi Arabia to enrich and reprocess uranium. The secretive effort to give Saudi Arabia a nuclear capability is not only colossally stupid, but has been done without being reviewed by Congress, as required by law, and violates the Atomic Energy Act.

      Salman, whose psychopathic traits remind me of Saddam Hussein, is widely believed to have ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. He has imprisoned dissidents, brutally ousted rivals, seized over $100 billion in extortion money from kidnapped and tortured members of the royal family and instilled a level of fear and terror inside the kingdom, always a repressive society, unrivaled in its modern history.

    • Crocodile Tears for Venezuela: From Late Victorian Holocausts to 21st Century Imperialism

      On 26 February, Stephen Hickey, UK political coordinator at the United Nations, delivered a statement at the Security Council briefing on Venezuela that put the blame for the situation in that country on its government. He said that years of misrule and corruption have wrecked the Venezuelan economy and that the actions of the “Maduro regime” have led to economic collapse.

      He continued by talking about the recent attempts to bring ‘aid’ into the country:

      “… use of deadly violence against his (Maduro) own people and other concerning acts of aggression to block the supply of desperately needed humanitarian aid are simply repugnant… the Maduro regime’s oppressive policies affect… innocent civilians, including women and children, who lack access to essential medical and other basic supplies… ”

      He then went on to talk about journalist Jorge Ramos being reportedly detained, later to be released and deported:

      “As with the lack of freedom given to journalists, other essential freedoms – such as democratic ones – are simply not present in Venezuela… We stand with… Juan Guaidó in pursuit of our shared goal to bring peace and stability to Venezuela.”

      We can but wonder what Hickey thinks about the illegal and arbitrary detention and needless suffering of Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the best part of a decade courtesy of his own government.

    • Understanding How Canadian Diplomats Shape the News

      Around the same time Canadian officials sought to convince Jay that Hugo Chavez’s government was corrupt, former Montréal Gazette reporter Sue Montgomery had a similar experience in Port-au-Prince. In “Parachute Journalism in Haiti: Media Sourcing in the 2003-2004 Political Crisis”, Isabel Macdonald writes: “Montgomery recalled being given anti-[President Jean-Bertrand] Aristide disinformation when she called the Canadian embassy immediately after she had been held up by armed men while driving through Port-au-Prince days before the [US/France/Canada] coup. Canada’s ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Cook, told her, ‘We’ve got word that Aristide has given the order to the chimeres [purported pro- Aristide thugs] to do this kind of thing to international journalists because he’s not getting any support.’ According to Montgomery, Cook had urged her to tell the other international journalists who were staying at the same hotel: ‘I think you should let all your colleagues at the Montana know that it’s not safe for them.’”

      Given only two days to prepare for her assignment, Montgomery was ripe for official manipulation. Though she later realized the ambassador’s claim was ridiculous, Montgomery told other journalists at Hotel Montana (where most international journalists stay in Port-au-Prince) that Aristide’s supporters were targeting them.

      The Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince succeeded in influencing Canadian reporters’ coverage of the country. In her MA thesis titled “Covering the coup: Canadian news reporting, journalists, and sources in the 2004 Haiti crisis,” Isabel Macdonald concludes that the reporters dispatched to Port-au-Prince largely took their cues from official Canada. “My interviews revealed that journalists’ contacts with people working in the Canadian foreign policy establishment appear to have played a particularly important role in helping journalists to identify appropriate ‘legitimate’ sources.”

    • Venezuela and the Long History of U.S. Imperialism

      In April 1846, U.S. Army Colonel Seth Thornton led 80 dragoons toward the Rio Grande. Just above the river, they encountered 1,600 Mexican cavalrymen heading north from Matamoros. The Mexican cavalry quickly overpowered the much smaller U.S. force. Eleven Americans were killed, and forty-nine others were captured. When President James K. Polk received news of the skirmish, he declared, “Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon American soil.” On May 13, the U.S. Congress declared war on Mexico.

      The entire chain of events was a set up. In 1845, the U.S. annexed the Republic of Texas, which had declared its independence from Mexico nearly a decade earlier. However, Mexico asserted that Texas remained part of its sovereign territory. Moreover, Mexico asserted that the Nueces River – not the Rio Grande – was the boundary between the province of Texas and its neighbors. Even if the U.S. had a right to annex Texas, the international boundary would be located far to the north of where Thornton’s dragoons were defeated. Polk had ordered the invasion of Mexican territory and then presented it to the U.S. public as a Mexican invasion of the U.S.

      Even more than simply sending troops into the disputed territory between the Nueces and Rio Grande, Polk laid the groundwork for a U.S. invasion of Mexico for more than a year. In 1845, he sent Louisiana politician John Slidell to Mexico City to settle the dispute over Texas and to purchase the territories of California and New Mexico. The mission was designed to fail. A known U.S. spy accompanied Slidell, and Mexican officials refused to meet with him.

      When Slidell reported his failure to the Polk administration, U.S. Secretary of State James Buchanan informed him that he should remain in Mexico longer “to satisfy the American people that all had been done which ought to have been done to avoid the necessity of resorting to hostilities.” In short, Slidell should perpetuate a charade that would give the Polk administration the necessary cover to launch a war. Indeed, that’s what happened. Congress passed the declaration of war, and at least initially, the U.S. public embraced Polk’s narrative. At the end of the war, the U.S. forced Mexico to cede over half a million square miles of territory, including New Mexico and California.

    • On Home Ground in a Distant Land

      The painting caught the attention of Europe.

      In the 1820s, Europe was divided by class and imperialism. Russia, Spain, Turkey, France, Austria, England, Belgium and Portugal had divided the world among themselves. Already, in 1815, at the Congress of Vienna, the royal families of Europe declared war on revolution.

      However, educated Europeans were well aware that Greece should not be a colony of Turkey. Mutual state jealousies and strategic competition kept Turley in Europe.

      So, Delacroix’s painting of a resurrected Greece in the midst of Turkish atrocities and massacres shocked Europe. The painting reminded the thinkers of Europe that they, Western Europeans, were practically never friendly towards the Greeks.

      The failure of Alexander the Great and his successors to conquer Rome eventually brought the Romans to Greece. The conflict between Greeks and Romans became deleterious with the Christianization of the empire. During the middle ages, it culminated with the fourth crusade of 1204. That fateful Western invasion and occupation of Greece ripped the country to pieces and fatally weakened its defenses. Europeans definitely paved the way for the Turkish conquest of Greece in 1453.

    • The War That Never Ends

      After Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un left their Summit meeting in Vietnam resigned to diplomatic impasse, it’s worth asking whether a time of peace and conciliation on the Korean peninsula might still be in sight. Given nearly insuperable roadblocks, could even the most congenial negotiations lead to full denuclearization of the North Korean regime? Is the United States, with all its imperial resources and leverage, willing to concede vital North Korean interests – above all, relief from economic sanctions and peace treaty to end the Korean War 65 years after military stalemate ended with a “temporary truce”?

      There are plenty of reasons for deep skepticism, however authentic the good feelings between Trump and Kim since the first Summit in Singapore. Trump’s own negotiating eccentricities, of course, could be a problem, but the pitfalls run deeper. Americans are accustomed to thinking of “denuclearization” as a one-sided affair. The inscrutable North Koreans must show good faith, immediately move to dismantle their nuclear assets, open all military installations to outside verification, and accept on good faith whatever the high-minded Washington diplomats are prepared to offer – after fulfilling their part of the bargain.

      That is how matters are framed by the U.S. political and media establishment and, for all we know, how the process is understood by Washington negotiators. The continuing deadlock should come as no surprise, despite how the two leaders supposedly “see eye to eye” and claim to relish each other’s company. Nor should anyone be puzzled that the North Koreans have reportedly done nothing so far to ramp down their nuclear program; in fact to do so would be insanity.

      To think that standard imperialist “diplomacy” might be conducive to denuclearization, even at the hands of the ultimate “deal maker”, is to indulge in sheer delusion. Shocking as it might be to the superpower mentality, the North Koreans have life-and-death interests at stake that cannot be finessed away or deferred to a future that might never arrive. If there are real prospects for Trump winning a Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. will have to grant most or all of the following: a North-South peace treaty, immediate relaxation of economic sanctions, an end to war maneuvers, U.S. troop reductions in the South, negotiations over the “nuclear umbrella” that Washington says is needed to protect South Korea from Northern aggression.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Chelsea Manning fights grand jury subpoena seen as linked to Assange

      Lawyers for convicted WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning are asking a federal court to block a grand jury subpoena she received in what her supporters believe is a federal investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

      Manning’s attorneys filed the motion Friday morning in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., a spokesperson for Manning said. The motion was put under seal and no information about it was immediately available from the court clerk’s office.

    • The working class and the fight to free Julian Assange

      Since June 19, 2012, WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has lived as a prisoner inside the small Ecuadorian embassy in London, deprived of direct sunlight, adequate medical treatment and, for the past year, even the ability to communicate with the outside world.
      Assange, a courageous journalist and publisher, is being ruthlessly hounded by the American state and its global lackeys because he helped expose the crimes of US imperialism and ruling class criminality and corruption all over the world. His persecution is the spearhead of a global offensive against freedom of speech and for censorship of oppositional voices on the internet.
      Assange was forced to seek political asylum with Ecuador after the British courts upheld a warrant to extradite him to Sweden on manufactured accusations that he was under “suspicion” of sexual assault.
      Assange and his defenders correctly assessed that as soon as he was detained in Sweden, the US Justice Department would issue its own extradition application to have him hauled to the United States. Assange faced, and still faces, the danger of being put before a show trial in the US on false charges of espionage.

    • Joe Lauria, editor-in-chief of Consortium News, endorses Free Assange demonstrations

      Julian Assange is a wanted man because he has published classified information given to him by whistleblowers that has revealed the crimes and corruption of government officials around the world, not just in the United States.
      But it is the US, the supposed beacon of freedom and democracy (and press freedom) around globe, that wants him extradited to the United States for the crime of publishing. He has interfered with the interests of some of the most powerful people in the world by revealing their machinations to the public. And they want him to pay.
      In the Pentagon Papers case, US Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote: “In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfil its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government.”

    • The Prisoner Says No to Big Brother

      Whenever I visit Julian Assange, we meet in a room he knows too well. There is a bare table and pictures of Ecuador on the walls. There is a bookcase where the books never change. The curtains are always drawn and there is no natural light. The air is still and fetid.

      This is Room 101.

      Before I enter Room 101, I must surrender my passport and phone. My pockets and possessions are examined. The food I bring is inspected.

      The man who guards Room 101 sits in what looks like an old-fashioned telephone box. He watches a screen, watching Julian. There are others unseen, agents of the state, watching and listening.

      Cameras are everywhere in Room 101. To avoid them, Julian manoeuvres us both into a corner, side by side, flat up against the wall. This is how we catch up: whispering and writing to each other on a notepad, which he shields from the cameras. Sometimes we laugh.

      I have my designated time slot. When that expires, the door in Room 101 bursts open and the guard says, “Time is up!” On New Year’s Eve, I was allowed an extra 30 minutes and the man in the phone box wished me a happy new year, but not Julian.

      Of course, Room 101 is the room in George Orwell’s prophetic novel, 1984, where the thought police watched and tormented their prisoners, and worse, until people surrendered their humanity and principles and obeyed Big Brother.

      Julian Assange will never obey Big Brother. His resilience and courage are astonishing, even though his physical health struggles to keep up.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Food supply falls as fish flee warmer seas

      Global warming has already begun to affect fishing worldwide as fish flee warmer seas, a new study says.

      In the last 80 years, there has been an estimated drop of more than 4% in sustainable catches for many kinds of fish and shellfish. That is the average. In some regions – the East China Sea, for instance, and Europe’s North Sea – the estimated decline was between 15% and 35%.

      In the course of the last century, global average temperatures have crept up by about 1°C above the average for most of human history, as a reaction to the unconstrained burning of fossil fuels. If the world continues to burn ever-greater volumes of coal, oil and natural gas, it could be 3°C warmer or more by the end of the century.

    • Lambeth Council accused of covering up air pollution crisis

      Air pollution has gone unchecked in Brixton Road, London, for six months since the street’s monitor broke in August 2018. [1]

      Lambeth Green Party has criticised the council for failing to put an interim system in place, saying it is “choking its residents” by leaving air pollution unchecked.

      Brixton Road is one of Britain’s most polluted streets. Last year air pollution in Brixton Road broke annual limits by January 30, a slight improvement on the decade before when the street always broke annual limits within six days. [2]

      The last air pollution reading from the Brixton Road monitor was recorded on 29 August 2018. [3] Lambeth Greens have repeatedly urged Lambeth Council to fix the monitor as a matter of urgency, and to use a temporary monitor until the permanent one is fixed.

    • [Older] Humans are frogs in hot water of climate change, research says

      Researchers analyzed more than 2 billion social media posts between 2014 and 2016. What they found was that, when temperatures were unusual for a particular time of year, people would comment on it at first. But if the temperature trend continued and there were unusual temperatures again at that time the following year, people stopped commenting as much.

      The authors of the study, published in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, believe that this is a sign that because of memory limitations and their own expectations and biases, humans may not be the best judges of temperature change. The experience of weather in recent years, rather than over longer historical periods, determines the baseline that people use to evaluate the current weather.

    • Scientists Look to Young Forests to Absorb Carbon Emissions

      For forests, it really does help to be young. British scientists who have identified the vital factor that shows what makes a forest a good carbon sink say young forests use carbon best and absorb it most efficiently.

      A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences seems on the face of it to settle an old puzzle with an unsurprising answer. New and young forests make the most efficient and effective carbon sinks.

      Humans burn fossil fuels and emit vast quantities of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The felling, burning and clearing of natural forest releases ever more carbon.

      But green plants absorb CO2 to make tissue and turn the gas into root and branch, leaf and bark, trunk and fruit. So scientists, led by Tom Pugh of the University of Birmingham in England, addressed the question: what kind of forest is best as a carbon sink?

    • The Climate Change Countermovement: Brown University Report and Panel

      Earlier this month, CIC’s Kert Davies was an invited speaker at a collaborative conference held at Brown University on the economic impacts of climate change and the opposition to policy advances. The day long event, America’s Climate Change Future: Housing Markets, Stranded Assets, and Entrenched Interests, gathered experts on a range of climate change topics ranging from increased flood risk and stranded assets in fossil fuels, to the climate change countermovement and misinformation campaigns.

      Alongside keynote speaker Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Brown professor Timmons Roberts, Davies participated in a discussion on a recently published paper by Justin Farrell of Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The paper’s focus on the “institutional and corporate structure of the climate change countermovement” helped shaped a discussion which outlined the existing body of research the paper built on.

      The panelists examined the corporate genesis of the climate denial movement and the many methods of influence that have been utilized to stall effective climate change policy. Using documents and analysis found on Climate Files, Davies recounted how the largest oil majors, including Shell and Exxon, had extensive internal knowledge about climate change science and impacts decades before it became a topic of global concern. Rather than addressing the threat that their product posed to the world, the documents show that the fossil fuel industry engaged and funded a climate change countermovement to deny the urgency their own scientists knew to be true.

    • An Illustrated History of What Big Oil Knew About Climate Change—Before the Moon Landing

      By now, it’s no secret that oil companies have been long aware of the risks of climate change from burning fossil fuels. Exxon had “no doubt” that carbon dioxide was a global threat by the late 1970s, and Shell wrote in 1988 that the resulting climate change might lead to “the greatest [changes] in recorded history.”

      But decades before, the oil industry was already privy to — and giving its own internal warnings about — the climate threats of carbon pollution from burning its products. In fact, as one science-and-art collaboration illustrated this week, that was happening before humans even landed on the Moon in 1969.Famous F

    • Costa Rica’s Bold Plan to Combat Fossil Fuels

      Last week, Costa Rica’s president, Carlos Alvarado, announced one of the more ambitious plans for a transition of a country to Net Carbon Zero proposed anywhere in the world.

      While many countries have made strides toward reducing their carbon dioxide production from electricity generation, Costa Rica is now addressing transportation, construction and agriculture. It has the luxury of concentrating on these sectors because it is now getting almost all its electricity from renewable sources. In the past four years, an average of over 98 percent of the country’s electricity has come from renewable sources.

      Some of that production is from hydroelectricity, which is less robust in the dry season. But the country is putting in a 5 megawatt solar farm to help pick up the slack when the rains don’t come.

      Alvarado seeks to reach the goal of Net Carbon Zero by 2050. Since Costa Rica has a significant forest cover, which is a carbon sink, the goal is to emit no more CO2 than is absorbed by the forests.

      The government plans to take out of $500 million loan, which will be invested in greening Costa Rica’s energy.

    • When It Comes to Climate Change, Centrism Is Not the Answer

      The only international institutions that have survived in this anarchic world are corporations. In Frostlands, a large corporation involved in genetic engineering is effectively dictating global policy. It has adapted to a world of climate change and, indeed, is attempting to profit off it. All those who are suspicious of international organizations and dislike the overwhelming power of sovereign states should realize that the forces powerful enough to replace them – military and corporate institutions – would represent a significant step backward if they took over.

    • A Green Job Guarantee

      The prospect of a federal job guarantee must have really spooked Max Gulker, a researcher and writer for the free-market-oriented American Institute for Economic Research (AIER).

      And for good reason. A federal job guarantee—under which the government would offer a job to anyone who needs one—would alter the balance of power in the labor market in favor of workers. And it would enlarge the size of the government considerably more than the New Deal did in the midst of the Great Depression.

      In other ways, Gulker’s diatribe against a job guarantee is simply off base—from his claim that a job guarantee would lead to a life of dependency and meaningless work to his assertion that it would have devastating macroeconomic consequences. The push for a guarantee of a job would not only put people to work but could also initiate government programs to confront today’s ever-worsening environmental crisis.

    • As evidence of man-made global warming hits ‘gold standard’, Robert Mercer continues funding denialists

      One of the world’s most secretive billionaires is still pouring millions into climate denial, despite scientists concluding we have reached the “gold standard” linking human activity to climate change.

      Indeed, this week Australia has just experienced its hottest summer ever and the UK has just experienced its hottest winter day ever.

      As the record temperatures continue, this week new scientific research concluded that the so-called “gold standard” level of certainty has been reached, with scientists now 99.9 per cent convinced that human activity is causing climate change.

      The scientists are saying that there is only a one-in-a-million chance that recent global warming is not the result of human activity.

      “Humanity cannot afford to ignore such clear signals,” the scientists concluded in the journal Nature Climate Change, having analysed 40 years of satellite measurements of rising temperatures.

      Benjamin Santer, lead author of the study, from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, told Reuters “The narrative out there that scientists don’t know the cause of climate change is wrong. We do.”

  • Finance

    • Greens slam Prime Minister’s Brexit bribe

      Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has slammed the government for offering a ‘bribe’ to Brexit voting Labour constituencies while constituencies of loyal Tory MPs will lose out. The South West MEP says Theresa May’s £1.6bn funding boost – aimed at Labour’s Midlands and Northern England heartlands – is also a drop in the ocean compared with around £12bn the country’s poorest areas currently receive through EU funding. Areas of northern England are being offered over half a billion pounds through the Stronger Towns Fund, but the South West region which includes one of the UK’s most deprived areas, Cornwall, is being offered just £33 million.

    • Oakland Teachers’ Contract: Let’s Do the Math and Learn the Lessons

      The original demand of the union, the Oakland Teachers’ Association, was for a 12% raise over three years. Management, the Oakland Unified School District, countered with a raise of 8.5%. Rounding to two decimal places of a percent, management’s offer amounted to 2.83% per year, while the union’s demand was 4% per year.

      The settlement was for a one time bonus of 3%, plus 11% over four years. So over the course of a four year contract, that comes out to 11.75%, since 3% is spread over four years. This is about 2.94% per year.

      So this settlement was .11% more than what management offered, and 1.06% less than what the union asked for. Roughly speaking, the settlement was ten times closer to management’s original offer than the union’s original demand. Everything else contained in this settlement are promises that come with caveats.

      How is this a victory? This strike was characterized by parent solidarity that was reported by the union to be 97% and management to be 94%. Whichever figure is more accurate, the solidarity of the parents, coupled with undeniable support from the community, was overwhelming. Why didn’t this translate into better numbers?

      From the outset, the union instructed picket captains to keep a lid on militancy. No blockage of cars, whether those of parents, management, or scabs, was allowed. No engagement of anyone was permitted, although some parents were handed a list of alternative day care sites and conversation with teachers ensued.

      I witnessed and participated in one temporary blockage of a scab; but it was ended by a picket captain after a visit by a cop and a union representative. The cop refused to order me to move, instead protesting that the union had agreed to no blockage of cars. I finally moved when the picket captain insisted and pulled me by the arm.

      At another picket there was a high school, an elementary school, and a charter school sharing the same complex. Since the charter school might have been inadvertently affected, no picketing took place – just a sidewalk gathering to talk and munch treats. The possibility of connecting the struggle against charter schools with the teachers’ strike was present, but rejected.

    • The City That Refused Amazon Long Before New York Did

      The richest man in the world, who heads one of the world’s largest and richest corporations, is also filthy rich in arrogance and pomposity.
      Jeff Bezos of Amazon demanded that a city’s officials kowtow to him by handing billions of taxpayer dollars to his retail behemoth, essentially bribing him to locate an Amazon headquarters there. But — lo and behold — the city mustered its collective integrity and pride to say “no” to his devil’s bargain.
      The city I’m bragging on isn’t New York City, which recently made national news by rejecting Amazon’s attempt to fleece its taxpayers. Rather, I’m saluting San Antonio, Texas, which in 2017 simply refused to play Bezos’ con game when he first rolled it out.

    • What’s the Value of a Facebook Cryptocoin?

      Just before the Civil War, and long before the Federal Reserve, the United States had 8,000 kinds of money. It was a chaotic, confusing time to buy your groceries. Private banks issued notes with the promise of backing in gold and silver, but their actual value was anybody’s guess. Soon other companies—drug stores, coal mines, and of course railroads, the wealthy connectors of their day—jumped into the fray.

      What’s old is new again in the hands of today’s barons of digital infrastructure.

    • Bernie Sanders Kicks Off His 2020 Campaign in Brooklyn (Photo Essay)
    • Bernie Sanders Launches 2020 Bid With Threats to Ruling Elite

      Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders returned to Brooklyn, where he was born, to kick off his 2020 presidential campaign on Saturday. At Brooklyn College, where he spent his freshman year, Sanders emphasized progressive ideas of anti-bigotry, accountability for corporate greed and rights for the working class that have defined his political career and already pushed other Democratic hopefuls to the left.

      “Thank you all for being part of a political revolution which is going to transform America,” he said. The crowd applauded and began chanting his name: “Bernie! Bernie!”

      “No, no, no, it is not Bernie; it is us together,” Sanders responded.

      A frontrunner in a crowded Democratic field, Sanders has succeeded in pushing health care reforms, particularly Medicare-for all, from a fringe issue to a major 2020 litmus test. His push for a $15 minimum wage and support for unions comes as a wave of teacher strikes shows burgeoning labor strength.

    • ‘I Know Where I Came From’: At First 2020 Rally, Sanders Shares How Childhood in Brooklyn Shaped His Drive for Political Revolution

      “My experience as a child, living in a family that struggled economically, powerfully influenced my life and my values. I know where I came from, and that is something I will never forget,” he declared, addressing a crowd just a few miles from the rent-controlled apartment where he was raised.

      The candidate compared his experiences growing up as the son of a Jewish immigrant, attending public schools, and receiving an allowance of 25 cents a week, with those of President Donald Trump. As Sanders said, “Unlike Donald Trump, who shut down the government and left 800,000 federal employees without income to pay their bills, I know what it’s like to be in a family that lives paycheck-to-paycheck.”

      “I did not have a father who gave me millions of dollars to build luxury skyscrapers, casinos, and country clubs. I did not come from a family that gave me a $200,000 allowance every year beginning at the age of three,” he noted. “But I had something more valuable. I had the role model of a father who had unbelievable courage in journeying across an ocean with no money in his pocket to start a new and better life.”

    • The Oakland Teachers Strike Isn’t Just a Walk Out—It’s a Direct Challenge to Neoliberalism

      Though at first glance, the Oakland teachers’ strike, now in its seventh day, may seem simply yet another in the wave of teacher walkouts this year, it in fact represents a watershed in resistance to neoliberal economic policy. The strike in Oakland simultaneously mirrors and advances popular resistance across the country to austerity and “accumulation by dispossession”—the capitalist elite’s conscious transfer of wealth and power from us to them.

      In one regard Oakland teachers’ demands—increased pay, investments in student services, smaller class sizes and an end to school closures—echo those in this year’s strike wave, a growing social movement led by teachers, with massive support of parents and community members, to save public schools from destruction by wealthy elites who have carried out a project attempting to “marketize” the education sector. This project includes an array of policies including the use of standardized testing which yields data to be bought and sold, the creation of charter schools controlled by networks of billionaire funders and the outsourcing of educational services.

      Yet press briefings by the Oakland Education Association (OEA)—the union representing the teachers—and a website created by a community supporter, show an extraordinary shift: a fusion of attention to racial and gender justice alongside labor’s mission to defend the dignity of work and workers. “It’s really, really exciting—a movement that is connecting the dots” observed Pauline Lipman, whose research on the racial significance of neoliberal school reform in Chicago helped inform the Chicago Teachers Union’s (CTU) widely-adopted template for union demands: “The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve.”

    • Death by charity: the dark side of decluttering

      Amid the #konmari buzz came news of the tragic death of Crystal Papineau — a 35-year old homeless woman in Toronto who died while trapped in the deposit slot of a clothing donation bin. She had likely been searching for the warm clothes that would sustain her during the harsh winter months.

      The nuisance of excess and the deadliness of deprivation make for a sharp and devastating outline of the binary reality of life under capitalism.

    • The Big Wall Street Giveaway the 115th Congress Hopes the 116th Won’t Notice

      Candidates in the Democratic presidential primary are tripping over each other to declare themselves enemies of the billionaire class. Bank CEOs are fretting about both the makeup of the House Financial Services Committee and the landscape of the presidential election. But no matter how they may whine publicly, Wall Street still has plenty to celebrate. And with predictions of a downturn coming, their gifts from the 115th Congress should make the rest of us plenty nervous.

      In February alone, the financial services industry delivered a one-two punch to consumers. First of all, its friend at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kathy Kraninger, decided to radically scale back regulations on payday lenders, betraying the mission that is literally the first three words of the bureau’s name. Then, SunTrust and BB&T announced plans to merge, adding another bank to the ranks of the “too big to fail” for the first time since the financial crisis.

      How is this happening? Shouldn’t our democracy prevent payday lenders and bailed out banks — two of the most despised actors in society — from getting the best of the public?

      Not when the federal government has been controlled by Wall Street-funded Republicans for two years. The financial services industry got a staggering number of gifts from the 115th Congress, in most cases thanks to Republicans, which are detailed in this report from my employer, Americans for Financial Reform.

    • Pennsylvania Workers Are Waging the Biggest U.S. Manufacturing Strike in the Trump Era

      On February 26, nearly 2,000 members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) walked off their jobs at a longstanding locomotive manufacturing plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, in the largest U.S. strike in the manufacturing sector since 2016. The move came just one day after the plant began operating under its new owner, the Wabtec Corporation of Wilmerding, Pennsylvania.

      In 2018, Wabtec merged with GE Transportation, a division of General Electric that has operated a locomotive plant in Erie for more than 100 years. UE members have had a contract with GE since 1938, according to union spokesperson, Jonathan Kissam, and that contract has provided generations of Erie residents with what Kissam says are “good, Rust Belt jobs.”

      Those jobs have afforded the plant’s employees a more stable lifestyle, with wages that average $35 per hour, and a Monday through Friday work schedule that Kissam says has allowed UE members to be active participants in life outside of the plant. “Our members are very involved in the Erie community as Little League coaches, at churches and with veterans’ causes,” Kissam asserted in an interview with In These Times.

    • New York Times report on Facebook and Bitcoin generates negative reactions.

      Skepticism and discord is what has generated a report dated February 28, 2019 by the great American newspaper The Ne York Times entitled “Facebook and Telegram hope to succeed where Bitcoin fails”; of which the crypto community has made it known that the cryptocurrency of both platforms will not be able to unseat Bitcoin as the report implies.

      As announced by Facebook and Telegram, two giants of social networks have climbed the cryptocurrency train with plans to introduce it to its billions of users. According to the American newspaper, Bitcoin has failed and therefore Facebook will succeed with its own currency.

      However, the crypto community has made it clear that the adoption of Bitcoin is increasing thanks to new use cases such as Lightning Network and Sidechains, which are emerging. On the other hand specialists in the field indicate that the expected altcoins of the two social network companies are designed for purposes clearly different from those of Bitcoin, in addition to being centralized as the case of Ripple with its XRP token.

    • Exclusive: Minds CEO Challenges Twitter’s Jack Dorsey to Walk the Walk on Bitcoin

      Minds.com CEO Bill Ottman recently appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience, where he talked about the importance of open source and decentralization. While these are subjects near and dear to his heart, they are more a vehicle for his true passion – building a social infrastructure that respects people’s rights. We caught up with Bill shortly after the podcast to talk about the growth Minds has experienced as a result of the appearance, as well as the recent forays into Bitcoin and cryptocurrency made by two other social media CEOs: Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.

    • How Gates Foundation’s push for ‘high-quality’ curriculum will stifle teaching

      The Common Core identifies what students should be able to know and do in reading, writing and mathematics by the end of each year in school. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have used the standards since 2010, even if some of the states have changed the name and made small changes.

      The Common Core permits teachers to “devise their own lesson plans and curriculum.” For years, proponents have said that the Common Core sets high academic expectations for all students and gives teachers freedom in how to reach them.

      [...]

      The person who eats the meal, not cooks it, gets to write the review. So are the EngageNY modules high-quality? Based on my experience as an education scholar and parent whose children have been subjected to this curriculum, the answer is no.

      When my oldest son was in fifth grade, he read the novel, “Esperanza Rising.” If you go to the EngageNY website, you can download the 287-page module that covers 18 lessons and tells the teacher and students what they are supposed to do for virtually every minute of the unit.

      For example, the module specifies that for minutes 11 to 30 of the fourth lesson, students will complete jigsaw task cards that require the students to write about how Esperanza’s mother feels about marrying her dead husband’s brother. According to my son, students would answer questions about the text, but they were not given an opportunity to share their own thoughts about the material or the topics.

      In a report on EngageNY published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, curriculum experts Kathleen Porter-Magee and Victoria Sears note that the modules are prescriptive and hard to adjust, and the “sheer length can be overwhelming.”

      What does this mean for teachers and students who are required to use these modules? Education scholar Cara M. Djonko-Moore provides a warning in an article on the role of school environment in teacher dissatisfaction. After examining survey data of more than 38,000 public school teachers, Moore notes that “control and autonomy over classroom decisions are very important for teachers to be satisfied with their jobs.”

    • Betsy DeVos’ Right-Wing School Indoctrination Program

      That’s Betsy DeVos’ plan to rejuvenate and renew the Republican Party.

      The billionaire heiress who bought her position as Donald Trump’s Education Secretary plans to spend $5 billion of your tax dollars on private, religious, and parochial schools.

      This would be federal tax credits to fund scholarships to private and religious institutions—school vouchers in all but name.

      It’s a federal child indoctrination program to ensure that the next generation has an increasing number of voters who think science is a lie, white supremacy is heritage and the Bible is history—you know, people just gullible enough to believe a reality show TV star who regularly cheats on his many wives with porn stars is God’s chosen representative on Earth. A measure to make child kidnapping, imprisonment, and wrongful death seem like a measured response to backward immigration policy. A measure to make collusion and fraternization with the world’s worst dictators and strongmen seem like global pragmatism.

      To make matters even more galling, consider the timing of DeVos’ proposal.

      In the beginning of February, Donald Trump Jr. criticized “loser teachers” who he said were indoctrinating school children into—gasp—socialism.

      At the end of that same month, DeVos proposed funding Christian madrasas from sea-to-shinning-sea.

      Apparently indoctrination is just fine for conservatives so long as it’s the right kind of indoctrination.

      But even beyond the blatant hypocrisy, this betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the differences between public and private schools.

      Florida’s GOP Governor Ron DeSantis tweeted that if a school receives public funding—whether it be a charter or voucher institution—it is a public school.

      To which DeVos tweeted her glowing approval.

    • Strike Wave Wins Raises for Mexican Factory Workers

      Mexican maquiladora workers in 70 factories have won big wage increases and bonuses in a strike wave that began in January.

      The strikes in the industrial city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on the border with Brownsville, Texas, have primarily hit auto parts factories, where tens of thousands of workers make goods for General Motors and other car manufacturers.

      The first of the strikes began on January 12 at eight factories. Workers were demanding a 20 percent wage increase and an annual bonus of 32,000 pesos ($1,600)—a demand now popularized as “20/32.”

      An initiative by Mexico’s new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador sparked the rebellion. During his December inauguration he announced a 100 percent increase in the federal minimum wage in the northern border zone, from 88 pesos ($4.50) to 176 pesos ($9) per day.

    • Brazil Dam Collapse Is a Human Rights Disaster and Crime

      On January 25, a dam at Córrego do Feijão in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil, collapsed. At least 300 people have been killed, buried alive in mud. To date, 179 bodies have been identified. It is expected that this number will continue to grow, representing a horrific human rights and environmental catastrophe. The collapse is, according to many, no accident. The owner of the dam is the Brazil-based transnational corporation Vale, which holds the status of being the globe’s largest producer of iron ore. On February 21, Vale announced that it would pay each adult resident in Brumadinho 3,227.02 U.S. dollars (this is a year’s worth of minimum wages in Brazil).

      The mining industry in Brazil has been pivotal in “post-colonial” capitalist development, with catastrophic human rights and environmental abuses. Vale has been in operation since 1942. It was privatized in 1997 during a wave of neoliberal economic reforms that swept across the world, seeking to privatize resources previously managed by the state or communally. With this move, the only incentive for Vale was profit-making, with little of that wealth remaining in the country to benefit the common good.

      This is not the first time that a dam has collapsed in Brazil — and Vale has a track record of being implicated in human rights abuses. In fact, in 2015, a similar event occurred when two dams ruptured at an open-pit mine, also located in the state of Minas Gerais. That mine is operated by Samarco, a project between Vale and the Australian company PHP Billiton.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Foes ‘Trying to Take Me Out With Bullshit,’ Trump Tells CPAC Faithful

      In a slashing speech packed with braggadocio and grievance, President Donald Trump denounced Democrats as the party of “the socialist nightmare,” relitigated his crowd sizes back to the inauguration and took on “sick,” ”lunatic” and “dirty” foes at every turn, earning him the unvarnished adoration of cheering conservatives Saturday.

      After a trying week of tumult and setbacks, Trump delivered a stemwinder that extended beyond two hours and hardly left him winded.

    • Congressional field hearings gather stories of voter suppression

      Congressional leaders have begun a series of listening sessions and field hearings that seek to document the need for the full restoration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The U.S. Supreme Court gutted the VRA in its 2013 ruling in the Shelby County v. Holder case out of Alabama that ended federal preclearance of election changes in places with a history of voter discrimination, most of them in the South.

      The gatherings are being organized by the House Administration Committee’s Subcommittee on Elections, which had been eliminated by Republicans but was restored after Democrats won control of the chamber last fall; the subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio. The initial listening session took place on Feb. 4 in Brownsville, Texas, while the first formal field hearing occurred in Atlanta on Feb. 19 at the Carter Presidential Center. The next hearing is set for the small town of Halifax, North Carolina, on April 18.

      The Atlanta hearing featured testimonies from representatives of voting rights groups including the Advancement Project and Black Voters Matter. They detailed the long lines, defective voting machines, and voter purges that Georgia voters faced during the 2018 midterm. That election was overseen by Republican Brian Kemp, the Georgia secretary of state who was also running for governor and won amid controversy over his efforts to purge voter registrations in a way that disproportionately affected black residents.

    • The Role of Media in Democracy: An Interview With Gary Younge

      Gary Younge is editor-at-large for The Guardian and author of Another Day in the Death of America. In this interview, Younge discusses media’s role within a democracy, how a polarized political climate can make media appear to be more radical than they actually are, and how the press can contribute to a better world. The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

    • Kamala Harris Is Not a Red-Baiter, She’s Just Not a Socialist (Like Most Americans)

      In recent columns I have celebrated the energy and ideas brought into the Democratic party by newly-elected young leftists, defended them from criticism, condemned the red-baiting of the left, and explained how and why “socialism” has played an important role in the history of American democracy, and ought not to be feared.

      I have been making these arguments for the past three years, going back to Bernie Sanders’s entry into the 2016 Presidential race (see here and here and also, a bit more skeptically, here).

      I think it is a huge error to exaggerate the differences separating “democratic socialists” like Sanders and “Progressive liberals” like Elizabeth Warren. And while I think vigorous debate about principles and policies is essential, I think it is also a huge error for these debates to become acrimonious or to become centered on abstract labels rather than concrete principles and policies. For it will be necessary, at some point in the summer of 2020, for all of the contestants to come together behind the winner of the primary, in order to defeat Trump and his Republican enablers. This will not be the end of debate, for the 2020 election will not be the last election — hopefully! — and democracy is an ongoing and unfinished project. But it will be the time to put some of the most heated debates on temporary hold, and to work together to support a Democratic victory.

      As a left liberal who retains some sense of connection to his neo-Marxist roots — and who rejoined Democratic Socialists of America, after a 20-year hiatus, on the day after Trump’s election — I personally lean in the general direction of Sanders and Warren, whose platforms are the most “left” of the many Democratic contenders.

    • Vile Racism in W. Va. GOP: Rep. Ilhan Omar likened to al-Qaeda & LGBTQ Folks to KKK

      Republicans in the West Virginia state legislature held a “GOP takes the Rotunda” event at the state capitol on Friday. As part of this event they hung a poster of the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks on the Twin Towers, labeled “Never Forget– You said.” Below it they placed a picture of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar with the caption “I AM PROOF THAT YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN.”

      Rep. Omar is from a Somali refugee family that fled violence and extremism. She spent four years in a camp in Kenya before coming to the United States. She served in the Minnesota state legislature and was elected to Congress from Minneapolis last November. She is one of the two new congresswomen who are Muslim, but the only one to wear a head scarf.

    • A Bold New Idea to Boost WagesThe challenges are well known:…

      The challenges are well known: Working Americans are struggling to keep up with the increasing cost of living. Unemployment is low, but wages of most Americans have remained flat. More than three-quarters of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck. Most can’t afford a $500 emergency.

      There’s a simple and bold solution that would cost about as much as the Trump tax cut. But instead of helping corporations and the rich, it would help millions of working and middle-class Americans by putting money directly in their pockets.

      I’m talking about expanding something called the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. And although it’s been around for decades, it can be the basis of a revolutionary change in the lives of millions of people.

      As it now stands, the EITC gives thousands of dollars to the working poor, with the amount of money they receive gradually decreasing as their earnings rise until they reach a cap, which is now a little over $50,000.

    • Los Angeles Times: Why the Republicans’ New “Red Scare” Tactics Ring False

      The annual Conservative Political Action Conference—a reliable index of far-right apprehensions—rolled into Washington last week, proclaiming long and loud the new Republican mantra: If we don’t reelect Donald Trump, neo-Stalinism will befall us!

      Speaker after speaker told the assembled faithful what President Trump had intimated in his State of the Union address: Republicans in 2020 plan to run against Democrats as though they were Stalin or (the pre-Trump) Kim Jong Un. White House economist Larry Kudlow urged Republicans to “put socialism on trial.” And Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel advocated an education campaign: “We can’t think that the American people understand what socialism is. We have to go out and educate people. We need to talk about Venezuela.”

      Wherein lies the Republicans’ problem: The Soviet Union, and its brand of communism—which virtually all Americans had both heard of and disliked—is long gone (replaced, in Russia, by kleptocratic authoritarianism and in China by Leninist capitalism). Moreover, American business (Wall Street in particular) has been soft on China for the last 30 years, and just last week, President Trump even recommended to his North Korean BFF that he’d do well to model his country on Vietnam, which is still under strict Communist control.

      It’s not surprising that the GOP would rely on a playbook that has worked well for them in the past, especially when they don’t need to sway a majority of Americans—only a large enough group to swing a couple of key states. But it’s a far riskier strategy now than it was in the past.

      Not surprisingly, Americans’ definitions of socialism have changed since the Cold War ended. In September of 2018, Gallup asked Americans for their “understanding of the term ‘socialism.’” One-third—33 percent—answered that it meant a society with equal standing for everybody, in which benefits and services were free for all. When Gallup had asked Americans the same question in September of 1949, at the height of the Cold War, just 14 percent gave that answer, while 34 percent answered that it meant government ownership of all business and control of society. Half that total—17 percent—gave that answer in 2018. (Other answers drew far less support.)

      That is, the public’s idea of socialism has shifted over the last 70 years from one verging on totalitarianism to one far closer to European social democracy. The disappearance of Soviet communism has clearly contributed to that shift, but so has the transition over that same 70 years to a more aggressive capitalism that has rewarded chiefly the rich.

    • House to Query 60 Trump Officials in Obstruction Probe

      Declaring it’s “very clear” President Donald Trump obstructed justice, the chairman of the House committee in charge of impeachment says the panel is requesting documents Monday from more than 60 people from Trump’s administration, family and business as part of a rapidly expanding Russia investigation.

      Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the House Judiciary Committee wants to review documents from the Justice Department, the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg. Former White House chief of staff John Kelly and former White House counsel Don McGahn also are likely targets, he said.

      “We are going to initiate investigations into abuses of power, into corruption and into obstruction of justice,” Nadler said. “We will do everything we can to get that evidence.”

      Asked if he believed Trump obstructed justice, Nadler said, “Yes, I do.”

    • Nadler: Judiciary Panel to Request Docs From 60+ Entities Tied to Trump in Probe of ‘Obstruction of Justice, Corruption, and Abuse of Power’

      Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee—which has jurisdiction over impeachments—said Sunday that he believes President Donald Trump obstructed justice and his panel will issue document requests on Monday to dozens of people tied to Trump, including members of his family, business empire, and administration.

      “Tomorrow, we will be issuing document requests to over 60 different people and individuals from the White House to the Department of Justice, Donald Trump, Jr., Allen Weisselberg, to begin the investigations to present the case to the American people about obstruction of justice, corruption, and abuse of power,” Nadler said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

    • Should Trump Lose in 2020, a Smooth Transition Is Not Guaranteed

      So did Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Herbert Hoover. It probably wasn’t easy, yet they knew this was what the moment demanded and democracy required. So each of them took that ceremonial ride to the Capitol with the man who had defeated them, sat there politely as he took power that had been theirs.

      Which brings us to Donald Trump. Can anyone, even in their most fanciful imaginings, see him doing that?

      Michael Cohen can’t. “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump,” Trump’s former fixer, lawyer, and toady told the House Oversight Committee Wednesday, “I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

      Let that marinate a moment. And ask yourself: What happens if this guy whose self-definition, whose entire psychological structure, is founded upon a self image as a man who always wins, loses? Can you see him quietly accepting it with dignity and grace?

      One can more readily imagine Mitch McConnell twerking in Times Square.

      And if Trump does refuse to accept the verdict of the electorate, what do the people who have followed him slavishly, renouncing common sense, simple decency and the evidence of their own eyes, do then? Will they reject the legitimacy of the new president? Will violence follow?

      You may think the entire scenario far-fetched. But in the Trump age, that term hardly has meaning anymore. Indeed, it is a measure of how extraordinary this era is that this fear, expressed by a man who knows Trump better than almost anyone, was not the top takeaway from the hearing.

    • Trump May Want to Be President Forever. Take the Threat Seriously.

      At the tag end of Michael Cohen’s House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday, when the windbags were all aired out and the reporters were framing the lede, the star witness leaned into his microphone and dropped a dollar’s worth of doom. “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump,” said Cohen, “I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

      Eat your hat, Ice Bucket Challenge. That woke me right up.

      Say what you will about Mr. Cohen — and there is plenty to say about the disgraced, disbarred bagman who spent a decade as Donald Trump’s top lickspittle — but he knows his old boss well, probably as well as anyone living. When Bill Maher says Trump might not voluntarily leave office, something the TV host has been suggesting for a year, I laugh and then shiver a bit. When Trump’s long-time consigliere says it under oath during a congressional hearing, I start thinking about buying canned goods.

      The idea of an amaranthine administration seems to have grown on Trump since he first rode down that golden escalator to inform us he was running for president because Mexicans are rapists. According to Cohen’s testimony, Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was initially intended to be a giant infomercial to boost his brand as he sought to build skyscrapers in Moscow. He neither wanted nor expected to win. Toward the end of the race, however, the idea of losing suddenly seemed to grate.

      In the fall of 2016 with the race nip and tuck, Trump began seeding his public remarks with claims that the election was being fixed in Hillary Clinton’s favor by a nefarious cloud of shadowy forces like, for example, “the dishonest and distorted media.” His sullen drumbeat — “rigged, rigged, it’s all rigged” — grew louder as the election approached, finally causing some reporters to ask if he would actually accept the result of the election no matter the outcome. “I will totally accept the result of this great and historic presidential election,” he told an adoring Ohio crowd on October 20, “if I win.”

    • Michael Cohen and the Devil in the Details

      My writer friend Gail, who lives in London but is fluent in all things American, has been closely following our daily travails. We’re in touch often, sharing our mutual, grim, and often bleakly funny stories about Trump here and Brexit there.

      Wednesday, just before Michael Cohen began his testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, she messaged me that she had just realized what Cohen was. Summoning her expert command of Yiddish, she decided Cohen was a schnorrer. That’s a follower, a hanger on, a mooch whose neediness verges on pathetic.

      He was Trump’s wannabe Mini-Me, a lawyer who was one of the big man’s mob enforcers, someone who told Congress he had made threats on Trump’s behalf “probably” 500 times, bullying everyone from contractors to journalists to schools Trump attended—just in case their grade transcripts disproved that Trump wasn’t the brilliant student he claims to have been. In Trump’s case it gives a whole new meaning to “petty criminal.”

      But then, for Cohen, it all fell apart. He was indicted for tax and campaign finance fraud, his files, tapes, and various ephemera were seized. He was sentenced to prison. And he began to spill the beans.

      Lo, when the gavel came down Wednesday and Cohen spoke, the schnorrer became a truthteller. His motives may not have been 100 percent pure, but he came out swinging, describing Trump as a racist, con man, and cheat, and showing up with hard evidence—canceled checks, letters, and financial statements that put the lie to several of the president’s claims.

      With every name Cohen uttered, a new avenue of investigation opened. He may not know much about Trump and Russia but as a former fixer he sure knows about many of the things forensic accountants are doubtless pursuing on behalf of both the Mueller probe and the investigations of the Southern District of New York. He even seemed to think there might not be a tax audit on Trump’s IRS returns, the excuse our dissembling president has used to avoid releasing his taxes and revealing various financial skullduggeries.

      Cohen’s now a man with nothing to lose. And a lot to gain, especially when it comes to restoring some shred of dignity to a life ill led. He had tried to be a tough-talking wise guy emulating a scoundrel and in his calamitous fall discovered what happens when you devote your life to a man dedicated to no one but himself.

    • Now Is the Time to Think Big on Voting

      Back in 2009, when the Brennan Center released a groundbreaking report [PDF] on automatic voter registration (AVR), the idea generated an outpouring of support from public officials and op-ed boards. But some cautioned that it could take time.

      “Figuring out the specifics is tricky and will need careful study,” the Washington Post wrote.

      Six years later, Oregon became the first state to pass AVR — in which eligible voters are automatically registered whenever they have contact with various government agencies, unless they opt out. Today, over one third of Americans live in one of the 15 states plus Washington D.C. that have approved AVR, with more states likely to join them this year.

      It’s a similar story on re-enfranchising people with past convictions. The Brennan Center and plenty of others have fought for rights restoration for many years. But few people a decade ago would have predicted that today, even Republican officials would be lining up to loosen their states’ voting bans amid overwhelming popular support for doing so.

    • Mike Pence Isn’t ‘Decent.’ He’s Insidious

      Speaking at a forum in Omaha on Thursday, Joe Biden called Vice President Pence “a decent guy.”

      When a chorus of progressives and LGBTQ activists, including myself, pointed out that a man who has built his career on homophobia and misogyny cannot possibly be considered “decent,” some dismissed it as just outrage Twitter. While Biden later walked back his comments and acknowledged that “there is nothing decent about being anti-LGBTQ rights,” I think it’s important to explain why calling Pence “a decent guy” is an affront to the real meaning of the word.

      While I like and admire much about Biden personally and politically, especially his championing of the Violence Against Women Act, when he talks about Pence being “a decent guy,” he is putting politeness over policy. In effect, he is saying that Pence’s record doesn’t matter. So let’s talk about that record.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook Erases Far-Right Activist’s Page, Instagram Profile
    • Gab browser extension puts a far-right comments section on every site [Ed: It does not put these comments on these sites per se; misleading headline]
    • Australia Threatening Over 100 Journalists For Accurately Reporting On Cardinal Pell’s Sex Abuse Trial

      The Australian concept of free speech still boggles the mind — as it appears they’re not very big on supporting it. Yesterday we had our story about how journalists were finally able to report on the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, the former Vatican CFO (and often described as the 3rd most powerful person in the Vatican), over some fairly horrific child sexual abuse claims. The conviction had happened back in December, and we were among those who wrote about it at the time, focusing on the ridiculousness of the Australian court’s “suppression order,” barring any of the reporters who were covering the trial from writing about either the conviction or the existence of the suppression order. The ostensible reason was that there was a second trial still necessary for Pell. However, as I’ve noted in earlier posts, the US handles this in a much better, and less speech-suppressing manner: by (1) asking potential jurors about their familiarity with the case, and (2) forbidding just the jury pool from further researching the case. It may not be perfect, but the system does work pretty well, and avoids a massive speech suppressing blanket order from a court that would appear to violate any concept of a “free press” in Australia.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook won’t let you opt out of its phone number ‘look up’ setting
    • Facebook Lets Anyone View Your Profile Using Your Phone Number

      recent report by Tech Crunch states that phone numbers linked to Facebook accounts could be used to look up profiles. Last year, the company had pestered users into registering their phone numbers for two-factor authentication.

    • Internet Privacy and User Data in The Future

      Last year, in May, the EU data privacy laws (GDPR) kicked in. The gist of the regulation was that all organizations or corporations operating within the EU must ask for consent to collect user data and that they must also implement measures such as anonymization and pseudonymization to protect this personal data.

      In the US state of California, data privacy laws also kicked in in 2018. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is similar to GDPR with slight variations.

      While these are steps in the right direction with regards to data privacy, there is no denying that large corporations are still collecting personal user data in droves and most people have no idea how. The stark reality is that our privacy is being eroded, and there’s no telling how grim a future we’re heading towards.

    • Google Refuses To Remove Saudi Arabia App Which Tracks Women

      A few weeks ago, the existence of an app called ‘Absher,’ used by Saudi Arab men to control and track the movements of women in the country, came into light.

      Following which, Apple and Google were criticized and accused of helping gender apartheid by hosting such an app on App Store and Play Store respectively.

    • Massive Database Leak Gives Us a Window into China’s Digital Surveillance State

      Now, this security leak shows just how extensively China is tracking its Xinjiang residents: how parts of that system work, and what parts don’t. It demonstrates that the surveillance is real, even as it raises questions about the competence of its operators.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Sacramento Cops Who Shot Stephon Clark Won’t Face Charges

      The two Sacramento police officers whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black man last year prompted nationwide protests will not face criminal charges, prosecutors announced Saturday.

      Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said Officers Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet used lethal force lawfully. The officers have said they thought Stephon Clark, a vandalism suspect, had a gun but investigators found only a cellphone.

      “We must recognize that they are often forced to make split-second decisions and we must recognize that they are under tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving circumstances,” Schubert said.

      The city has been bracing for protests ahead of the decision, with business owners warned by a business association and state government workers told by legislative officials in recent days to stay away from downtown at least through the weekend.

    • Neo-Nazi Group’s Leader Is Black Man Who Vows to Dissolve It

      One of the nation’s largest neo-Nazi groups appears to have an unlikely new leader: a black activist who has vowed to dismantle it.

      Court documents filed Thursday suggest James Hart Stern wants to use his new position as director and president of the National Socialist Movement to undermine the Detroit-based group’s defense against a lawsuit.

      The NSM is one of several extremist groups sued over bloodshed at a 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Stern’s filing asks a federal court in Virginia to issue a judgment against the group before one of the lawsuits goes to trial.

    • A Resolve Not To Do What Was Done To Him: Guantánamo Diary’s Mohamedou Slahi Is Still Not Free

      Having endured 14 years as “the most tortured man in Guantánamo,” Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been denied a passport from his native Mauritania to seek medical treatment abroad for the effects of his illegal detention and abuse – a refusal his lawyers deem a brutal extension of “the extrajudical punishment of a man who has never (been) charged with or convicted of a crime.” When Slahi walked away unshackled from a U.S. military plane in 2016, a full six years after a federal judge had ordered his release, he hoped he was finally free from a years-long “nightmare of denied rights and arbitrary detention” that began in 2001, on a “day that is seared in my memory forever,” with his arrest in Mauritania; the agents arresting him included a guy he’d just tried to help by hiring him to fix his TV. Though he’d years before renounced an earlier connection to Al Quaeda, he was swiftly rendered to Jordan, Afghanistan and then Guantánamo Bay, where he was held without charge from August 2002 to October 2016.

      Over that time, he suffered beatings, death threats, isolation, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, threats of rectal feeding, a mock kidnapping. When his conditions slightly improved three years into captivity after a lie detector test proved his innocence, he began keeping a journal that became Guantánamo Diary, a “brutally original” memoir and the only account of life inside the prison. After a years-long legal battle, a heavily redacted version was published in 2015, followed by a fuller, restored version. It has been published in 26 languages, was longlisted for the UK’s top non-fiction Samuel Johnson Prize, and led one reviewer to declare, “The global war on terror has found its true witness.” Dr. Alexandra Moore, a human rights advocate who teaches Guantánamo Diary and invited Slahi to Skype to a journalism festival last year, praises the book’s humor, humanity and generosity in surreal contrast to the horrors it describes, citing “Slahi’s openness to everyone around him and his willingness not to do what was done to him.”

    • Border Wall Trumped by Art and Community

      A towering 20-foot wall of rusted metal panels runs alongside Calle Internacional in the Mexican border town of Agua Prieta. Approaching the Douglas, Arizona, port of entry, the barrier is splashed in color, covered in vibrant murals: flowers and cacti forming the chambers and arteries of a heart; and a lone seed appearing to sprout in hopeful hands when viewed from different angles.

      This wall, separating the sister cities of Douglas (16,165 residents) and Agua Prieta (80,000 residents), is part of the 262-mile Tucson Sector, one of the busiest and most heavily staffed segments of the U.S.–Mexico border. It’s also where residents of two border towns have found common ground, using art as a tool to penetrate the wall separating them.

      As the U.S. remains gripped in debate over the wall Donald Trump wants to build along the border, cross-border community groups, long-time residents, and their governments work to preserve and perpetuate a shared identity that transcends an existing physical and political barrier between them.

      Residents of the cities have played chess through slats in the fence. They’ve held art walks and binational residences and, with help from U.S. Border Patrol officers, hosted cross-border concerts. A few years ago they hosted a live art installation stretching across the desert between them as a way of symbolically stitching their countries together.

    • After Hours at the Border, 29 Parents Separated From Their Kids and Deported Take Step Toward Asylum

      After spending several hours at the U.S.-Mexico border with attorneys and immigrant rights advocates on Saturday, 29 parents separated from their children then deported under President Donald Trump’s so-called “zero tolerance” policy were allowed to take a crucial step toward applying for asylum and reuniting with their kids.

      Families Belong Together, a coalition that formed in response to the cruel policy that Trump rolled back after international outrage, announced on Twitter late Saturday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had begun processing the parents. As the coalition said, “This is a great step—but we also need to keep the pressure on to ensure they make it through and are reunited with their children in the U.S.

      [...]

      As the parents arrived at the U.S. border with advocates, those supporting them in the fight to reunite their families urged critics of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies to contact CBP—an agency under Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—to pressure federal officials to allow the parents entry into the country. For hours, CBP agents claimed they did not have the capacity to process their parents, according to the advocacy groups.

    • Anti-Racist Strategy for a World in Crisis

      In his book Capitalism and Slavery, Trinidadian historian Dr. Eric Williams writes that “Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery.”

      Williams, like many others, argues that racism was created by the powerful to justify subjugation that was already in progress. In other words, the desire to exploit came first, and racism was developed as a moral system to justify the exploitation.

      This has profound implications for how we approach the topic of dismantling racism and white supremacy.

      Most people today know that race and racism are not “natural.” Scientifically, there is no such thing as “race.” Of course, there are differences in skin color between different groups of people. And it is possible to lump people into rough geographic groups based on their heritage and specific physical characteristics. But the concept of race is a vast oversimplification of this natural variation.

      The fact that race is an artificial construct becomes clear when you study how “mixed-race” people are perceived in society today. In general, society considers a person who is half white and half black to be… black. In these sorts of examples, race is exposed as a set of stereotypes, a shorthand that people use to categorize people into a set of expectations and social boxes.

      This, of course, isn’t to say that race isn’t “socially real.” In our culture, race is a material reality. But it’s a fuzzy one, a constructed one. This becomes obvious when we study the history of race and racism, and when we examine how these concepts have evolved over time to better serve the (fractured, not unitary) ruling class.

      For another example of how race functions as a system of power, we can look at how various ethnic groups have shifted in and out of the privileged class “white” over time. The book How the Irish Became White traces this phenomenon, examining how mostly dirt-poor Irish immigrants to the US were treated as a sub-human race of lesser innate worth and intelligence, and how over time, the Irish became accepted as “white” in return for their largely collective agreement to oppress blacks and other non-white peoples.

      Racism functions today, as it has historically, as a system used to justify the oppression and exploitation of billions of people of color worldwide. In his pioneering book The Nazi Doctors, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton writes that people cannot continue to commit atrocities without having them fully rationalized. He calls these justifications a “claim to virtue.” For the Nazis Lifton studied in particular, the mass murder of Jews was justifiable to create Lebensraum (“living space”) for the Aryan race.

    • The Ticket Trap: Front to Back

      Millions of motorists in Chicago have gotten a parking ticket. So when we built The Ticket Trap — an interactive news application that lets people explore ticketing patterns across the city — we knew that we’d be building something that shines a spotlight on an issue that affects people from all walks of life.

      But we had a more specific story we needed to tell.

      At ProPublica Illinois, we’d been reporting on Chicago’s aggressive parking and vehicle compliance ticket system for months. Our stories revealed a system that disproportionately punishes black and low-income residents and generates millions of dollars every year for the city by pushing massive debt onto Chicago’s poorest residents — even sending thousands into bankruptcy.

      So when we thought about building an interactive database that allows the public, for the first time, to see all 54 million tickets issued over the last two decades, we wanted to make sure users understood the findings of the overall project. That’s why we centered the user experience around the disparities in the system, such as which wards have the most ticket debt and which have been hit hardest because residents can’t pay.

      The Ticket Trap is a way for users to see lots of different patterns in tickets and to see how their wards fit into the bigger picture. It also gives civically active folks tools for talking about the issue of fines imposed by the city and helps them hold their elected officials accountable for how the city imposes debt.

    • The Global Assault on Indigenous Peoples

      A few years ago when I was in Panama I was fortunate to spend some time with the indigenous Ngäbe–Buglé. They reside in the lush rainforest that blankets much of the country. Their villages are simple, but graciously laid out with the natural world around them. The people have a reverence for wildlife, using only what they need, and culture, ancestral ways and community are paramount. But as in every other place on the planet they have been under siege by the forces of capital.

      Dam projects largely devised to benefit mining companies have inundated scores of villages and devastated farms and fishing. Rare species like the Tabasará rain frog are threatened with extinction due to the loss of habitat. Four years ago a dam claimed a small indigenous village on the sacred Tabasará River. The villagers narrowly escaped drowning as their homes flooded in the night. They were given no warning.

      In May of last year the river was shut down for maintenance on the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam. Tens of thousands of fish and crustaceans were left to suffocate in the mud. Many more dam projects are planned for this small country. While the Ngäbe–Buglé have protested their dispossession and the destruction to their way of life, they have been met with threats, disappearances and violence from the state and operatives from various companies who stand to benefit from the projects. But the lords of capital, the banks, hold the most power. For instance, FMO Bank of Holland and DEG Bank of Germany were responsible for the Barro Blanco dam.

      In stark contrast to the Ngäbe–Buglé way of life is the wealthy new high rise section of the capital, Panama City. Here glass and steel towers scrap an unforgiving hot Central American sky. Yet there are few sidewalks in this area. The moneyed elite drive directly into their palatial condos through secured garage doors on the street. There isn’t a need nor is there a desire to walk here unless you are poor.

      It is a landscape of alienation repeated around the world from Jakarta to Manilla to Mumbai where the wealthy cordon themselves off from an ever growing peasantry behind gilded gates. But about an hour and a half away from the capital is the forgotten city of Colón where most of the inhabitants are people of colour and poverty is crushing. In truth, most of the extreme wealth entering the Panama Canal is concentrated in the ruling top .01%.

      And this gets to one of the most tragic outcomes of these economic and ecological assaults: displacement. Millions of indigenous people around the world have been evicted from their ancestral lands only to wind up in the hellhole slums of megacities. Here they are most often locked in poverty, forced to abandon their culture and language for conformity, and forgotten by society. To be sure, this is the world that global capitalism envisions for us all.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • High Court Scrutinizing Gov’t Use Of AIA Reviews

      On Feb. 19, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Return Mail Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service. The question before the court was whether the government is a “person” who may petition to institute post- issuance patent review proceedings under the 2011 Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. The court is expected to issue a decision by this summer.

      The court’s decision will impact who may initiate inter partes review, post- grant review and covered business method review proceedings. Although the outcome is unclear, during oral argument the justices appeared unpersuaded that the Postal Service had adequately rebutted the court’s long-standing presumption that “person” does not include the government.

    • Trademarks

      • Facebook sues four Chinese companies over trademark infringement

        The lawsuit, filed with the Northern District of California, alleges that starting in 2017 four Chinese companies and three individuals based in China “operated a series of websites promoting the sale of fake accounts (e.g. using fake names or other false identifiers) and inauthentic accounts (e.g. used for inauthentic activity),” infringing on Facebook and Instagram’s trademarks and terms of service in the process.

    • Copyrights

      • German Data Privacy Commissioner Says Article 13 Inevitably Leads to Filters, Which Inevitably Lead to Internet “Oligopoly”

        German Data Privacy Commissioner Ulrich Kelber is also a computer scientist, which makes him uniquely qualified to comment on the potential consequences of the proposed new EU Copyright Directive. The Directive will be voted on at the end of this month, and its Article 13 requires that online communities, platforms, and services prevent their users from committing copyright infringement, rather than ensuring that infringing materials are speedily removed.

        In a new official statement on the Directive (English translation), Kelber warns that Article 13 will inevitably lead to the use of automated filters, because there is no imaginable way for the organisations that run online services to examine everything their users post and determine whether each message, photo, video, or audio clip is a copyright violation.

        Kelber goes on to warn that this will exacerbate the already dire problem of market concentration in the tech sector, and expose Europeans to particular risk of online surveillance and manipulation.

        That’s because under Article 13, Europe’s online companies will be required to block all infringement, even if they are very small and specialised (the Directive gives an online community three years’ grace period before it acquires this obligation, less time if the service grosses over €5m/year). These small- and medium-sized European services (SMEs) will not be able to afford to license the catalogues of the big movie, music, and book publishers, so they’ll have to rely on filters to block the unlicensed material.

      • Study that claimed majority of Copyright Directive opposition came from the US assumed all English-language tweets came from Washington, DC

        However, the report is completely wrong, because it relied on analytics provided by Talkwalker, without understanding the assumptions that Talkwalker uses to fill in missing data.

        Specifically, when Talkwalker encounters a tweet whose location field is blank, it guesses which language the tweet is in, then assigns the capital city of the most populous country where that language is spoken as the account-owner’s location. Every German-language tweet is reported as originating in Berlin, and every English-language tweet is reported as originating in Washington, DC.

      • US music fans throw more money at vinyl, CDs than iTunes downloads now

        Downloads represented just 11 percent of US labels’ revenue last year, a music industry trade group said Thursday. Physical sales — the term for music formats you can actually hold, which are mostly CDs and vinyl at this point — booked 12 percent. Instead, streaming music has been asphyxiating demand for downloads. Streaming sales were 75 percent of revenue last year, according to year-end data from the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA.

      • This Could Be The Most Important Email You Will Ever Send To Your MEP

        As well as the serious harm the proposed Copyright Directive will cause to the Internet as we know it – born of ignorance or indifference on the part of those drafting it – what is extraordinary about the whole saga is the contempt shown for EU citizens and their views. Recently, the European Commission published an article that called those opposing the Copyright Directive part of a “mob”. The European Parliament put out a tweet that was full of half-truths and intentionally misleading statements.

        The continuing and concerted attempt to belittle EU citizens who dare to argue against the EU’s proposed Copyright Directive mean that this is no longer just about copyright or the Internet. It is about democracy in the EU. The European Commission and European Parliament are trying to shut down dissent on this topic, just as they did for ACTA. It is therefore vitally important for EU citizens to write to their MEPs to express their concerns about the Copyright Directive, and also about the way their right to participate in the law-making process has been seriously harmed. You can use this page to search for MEPs in any EU Member State; in the UK you can use WriteToThem.

        I normally provide a sample email text, but on this occasion, I won’t. That’s because one lie that is being put about by supporters of the Copyright Directive is that emails to MEPs are being sent by “bots”, paid for by Google and others, and not by real people. For this reason, it is vital that you use your own words when you write to your MEP. Your email does not need to be long or detailed, but it must be genuine (and polite) if it is to be convincing. Helping us is the fact that elections for the European Parliament are imminent, so MEPs should be keen to be seen to listen their constituents – something you may wish to mention.

        Despite constant claims that the EU Copyright Directive won’t affect the Internet, this is simply not true. It is, without doubt, the most serious threat we have faced since ACTA. It is vital that, like ACTA, we stop it. We did it then, we can do it now. Please write to your MEPs today – it could be the most important email you will ever send them.

      • US Supremes urged by pretty much everyone in software dev to probe Oracle’s ‘disastrous’ Java API copyright win

        The US Supreme Court has been urged to hear Google out in its long-running copyright battle with Oracle over the search giant’s use of Java technology in Android.

        Some 14 amicus briefs have been filed with the top court in support of Google, with Microsoft, Red Hat and Mozilla, along with the Python Software Foundation, Developers Alliance, and the EFF, backing the web titan against database-slinger Oracle.

        They say an earlier court ruling in Oracle’s favor on the fair use of Java APIs – as it stands – sets a dangerous precedent that breaks long-standing and well-understood rules on software development, risks confusing the community, and will damage innovation.

        Oracle sued Google in 2010 after the database goliath acquired Sun Microsystems and with it the rights to Java. Big Red then contested Google’s use of Java APIs in its Android mobile operating system.

      • Record Label Targets Copyright Experts With “Bogus” Takedown Request

        A takedown notice sent to Google on behalf of a prominent Indian record label, clearly targeted the wrong site. Instead of a pirate site, the notice resulted in the removal of a link from the well-respected copyright blog SpicyIP. Luckily, the site had enough in-house experience to set the record straight.

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