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03.16.19

Links 16/3/2019: Knoppix Release and SUSE Independence

Posted in News Roundup at 4:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Ritesh Raj Sarraf: Linux Desktop Usage 2019

    If I look back now, it must be more than 20 years since I got fascinated with GNU/Linux ecosystem and started using it.

    Back then, it was more curiosity of a young teenager and the excitement to learn something. There’s one thing that I have always admired/respected about Free Software’s values, is: Access for everyone to learn. This is something I never forget and still try to do my bit.

    It was perfect timing and I was lucky to be part of it. Free Software was (and still is) a great platform to learn upon, if you have the willingness and desire for it.

    Over the years, a lot lot lot has changed, evolved and improved. From the days of writing down the XF86Config configuration file to get the X server running, to a new world where now everything is almost dynamic, is a great milestone that we have achieved.

    All through these years, I always used GNU/Linux platform as my primary computing platform. The CLI, Shell and Tools, have all been a great source of learning. Most of the stuff was (and to an extent, still is) standardized and focus was usually on a single project.

    There was less competition on that front, rather there was more collaboration. For example, standard tools like: sed, awk, grep etc were single tools. Like you didn’t have 2 variants of it. So, enhancements to these tools was timely and consistent and learning these tools was an incremental task.

  • Desktop

    • Linux: It was just a matter of time…..

      Now to their credit, Xtra-PC makes it clear from the beginning that the operating system they will soon cherish as their broken-a**ed computer’s savior is Linux. It doesn’t go into a lot of detail about Linux but I suppose they know as much as I… don’t confuse the new customer. Give them just enough reason to purchase your product and let the details become available upon use.

      And by golly, slick marketing that it is, I am sure that they will do well with Xtra-PC. They are pouring copious amounts of money into the promotion of their product, and in this age of computer paranoia, they’re probably right on time.

    • Octavo Systems Shows Off With Deadbug Linux Computer

      Once upon a time, small Linux-capable single board computers were novelties, but not anymore. Today we have a wide selection of them, many built around modules we could buy for our own projects. Some of the chipset suppliers behind these boards compete on cost, others find a niche to differentiate their product. Octavo Systems is one of the latter offering system-in-package (SiP) modules that are specifically designed for easy integration. They described how simple it would be to build a minimal computer using their SC335x C-SiP, and to drive the point home they brought a deadbug implementation to Embedded World 2019. [Short video after the break.]

    • Intel Comet Lake Processors To Feature Up To 10 Cores, Confirmed in Linux Support List – Will Also Have 8 Core and 6 Core Variants
    • Vnopn K1 is a small, cheap fanless PC with an AMD processor

      There’s no shortage of tiny, fanless computers capable of running Windows or LInux software these days. But the Vnopn K1 is a bit unusual since it has a low-power AMD processor rather than an Intel chip.

      As spotted by AndroidPC.es, the Vnopn K1 is available from Chinese marketplace AliExpress with prices starting at $134 for a barebones model.

  • Server

    • Unprivileged container builds using stacker

      One of the primary goals of user namespaces was to provide the ability for unprivileged users to have their own range of uids over which they would have privilege, with minimal need for setuid programs and no risk (barring bugs in the OS) of their privilege having effect on uids which are not “their own”.

      We’ve had user namespaces for awhile now. While there are some actions which cannot be done in a user namespace, such as mounting a loopback filesystem, there are many things, such as setting up a build environment with custom package installs, which used to be a challenge without privilege but are now simple.

    • Red Hat eyes cloud-native Java future with Quarkus

      Red Hat’s latest initiative, Quarkus, aims to usher in a cloud-native Java future — and shift the core of innovation in enterprise Java.

      Numerous efforts over the years have attempted to make Java more cloud-native, such as Google’s Dalvik virtual machine used in Android. None has demonstrated as much promise as Red Hat Quarkus, which is based on two Oracle-led projects, GraalVM and Substrate VM, to build cloud-native Java applications that are much faster and smaller, in a Linux container as part of a Kubernetes deployment.

      GraalVM is a universal virtual machine that is used to run applications written in JavaScript, Python, Ruby, R, and Java Virtual Machine (JVM) based languages, including Java, Scala, Clojure, Kotlin, as well as low-level virtual machine-based languages, such as C and C++. Graal enables aggressive ahead-of time (AOT) compilation, so developers can compile their apps into native binary images and avoid the limitations of the JVM.

      Substrate VM, a subsystem of Graal, focuses on AOT compilation to collect Java to a native binary image, said Mark Little, vice president of engineering and CTO of JBoss Middleware at Red Hat.

    • OpenShift All-in-One (AIO) for Labs and Fun

      A common request from customers is how to run the actual Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform (OCP) bits in a single node. This request often comes from customers that need to support training environments, dedicated single-user development environments or from technical architects wanting to validate concepts without deploying a full multi-node cluster. There are many options available for developers, from Minishift to CodeReady Workspaces. These are supported options which are a great solution for application developers that want to deploy to the platform. The use cases not addressed with these solutions are more platform and infrastructure related.

    • 7 pieces of contrarian Kubernetes advice

      You can find many great resources for getting smarter about Kubernetes out there. (Ahem, we’ve written a few ourselves.)

      That’s good news for IT teams and professionals looking to boost their knowledge and consider how Kubernetes might solve problems in their organization. The excited chatter about Kubernetes has gotten so loud, however, that it can become difficult to make sense of it all. Moreover, it can be challenging to sort the actual business and technical benefits from the sales pitches.

    • SwiftStack Announces World’s First Multi-Cloud AI/ML Data Management Solution

      “The SwiftStack solution accelerates data pipelines, eliminates storage silos, and enables multi-cloud workflows, thus delivering faster business outcomes,” said Jason Blum, CTO at GPL Technologies, an NVIDIA and SwiftStack elite partner. “SwiftStack provides us with the flexibility, technology leadership and breakthrough economics to build tailored solutions for our customers.” GPL Technologies has created multiple ways to implement the solution, with NVIDIA DGX-1 GPU server(s), NVIDIA GPU Cloud, and other leading system hardware.

    • Tetrate Aims To Make Service Mesh Accessible And Enterprise Ready

      After Kubernetes, open source projects such as Istio, Envoy and Linkerd get the maximum attention from the users and cloud native community. Google backs Istio while Envoy and Linkerd are a part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). Since the current service mesh technologies are available only as stock open source projects, implementing and integrating them with the rest of the microservices infrastructure is complex.

    • Facebook debuts Minipack, an open modular switch for datacenters

      During a keynote at the 2019 Open Compute Project (OCP) Global Summit in San Jose, Facebook today debuted Minipack, a modular whitebox network switch platform it claims is the first of its kind with an “open” design.

      “We are excited to work with the community to develop an ecosystem around Minipack,” said director of engineering at Facebook Hans-Juergen Schmidtke in a statement. “[It’s] the next generation of open, modular switch platforms that is more flexible, scalable and efficient for modern data centers.”

    • Cumulus’ Linux OS first to support Facebook’s modular Minipack

      Cumulus Linux will be the first network operating system to fully support Minipack, Facebook’s modular switch platform.

      Minipack is half the height of its Facebook-designed big brother, Backpack, and uses half the power. It was developed by hardware maker Edgecore Networks.

      Cumulus’ support for Minipack was announced at the Open Compute Project (OCP) Global Summit in San Jose this week.. The company also said that its Linux based OS will be available pre-installed on Minipack directly from the vendor or through Edgecore.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Episode #121: python2 becomes self-aware, enters fifth stage of grief
    • LHS Episode #275: The Weekender XXV

      You have tuned into the 275th episode of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this, the 25th Weekender episode, the hosts discuss upcoming amateur radio special event stations and worldwide contests, upcoming open source conferences, Linux distributions to try, challenges to try for yourselves, meatloaf that might just be murderous, an Imperial IPA and a port-finished bourbon along with many other topics. Hope you have a fun and inspired fortnight.

  • Kernel Space

    • ZRAM Will See Greater Performance On Linux 5.1 – It Changed Its Default Compressor

      For those relying upon ZRAM to provide a compressed block device in RAM for cases like using it for SWAP or /tmp, with Linux 5.1 you might find it performing better than earlier kernels.

      With Linux 5.1, the ZRAM block driver has changed its default compressor from “lzo” to “lzo-rle.”

    • Linux Foundation

      • Chasing Linux Kernel Archives

        Kernel development is truly impossible to keep track of. The main mailing list alone is vast beyond belief. Then there are all the side lists and IRC channels, not to mention all the corporate mailing lists dedicated to kernel development that never see the light of day. In some ways, kernel development has become fundamentally mysterious.

        Once in a while, some lunatic decides to try to reach back into the past and study as much of the corpus of kernel discussion as he or she can find. One such person is Joey Pabalinas, who recently wanted to gather everything together in Maildir format, so he could do searches, calculate statistics, generate pseudo-hacker AI bots and whatnot.

    • Graphics Stack

      • libinput and location-based touch arbitration

        One of the features in the soon-to-be-released libinput 1.13 is location-based touch arbitration. Touch arbitration is the process of discarding touch input on a tablet device while a pen is in proximity. Historically, this was provided by the kernel wacom driver but libinput has had userspace touch arbitration for quite a while now, allowing for touch arbitration where the tablet and the touchscreen part are handled by different kernel drivers.

      • Wayland 1.17 & Weston 6.0 Gear Up To Release Next Week

        If all goes well, the first stable updates to Wayland and the Weston compositor for 2019 will be released in just a few days.

        Wayland release manager Derek Foreman has issued the release candidates for the upcoming Wayland 1.17 and Weston 6.0 reference compositor. Being past the feature freeze, these releases are mundane themselves with just a few maintenance updates on the Wayland side while Weston has just a Meson build system change and a minor DRM compositor fix.

      • GeForce GTX 1660 Is NVIDIA’s Cheapest Turing-based Graphics Card
      • AMDVLK 2019.Q1.8 Enables Six More Vulkan Extensions, Fixes Bugs

        The AMD driver developers maintaining the AMDVLK open-source Vulkan Linux driver did a “Pi day” driver update that is quite exciting as it enables six new extensions, with the most notable being that transform feedback appears to be officially advertised.

        This new AMDVLK update is version 2019.Q1.8 and incorporates their latest driver sources for roughly the past two weeks. The six new Vulkan extensions now being advertised as enabled are VK_KHR_vulkan_memory_model, VK_EXT_depth_clip_enable, VK_KHR_depth_stencil_resolve, VK_KHR_shader_float16_int8, VK_EXT_debug_utils extension, and VK_EXT_transform_feedback. Those are some big additions notably with the Vulkan Memory Model, float16_int8, EXT_debug_utils being useful for debugging, and transform feedback. Previous AMDVLK drivers have mentioned VK_EXT_transform_feedback while now it appears in this AMDVLK 2019.Q1.8 release it’s now officially ready, which is great news particularly for Linux gamers using Steam Play with DXVK.

      • The Lima Gallium3D Driver Is Aiming To Be Merged In Mesa

        While there is the Panfrost Gallium3D driver that has been advancing rapidly within mainline Mesa for Arm’s Mali newer Midgard/Bifrost architectures, the Lima driver might finally see the light of day in mainline Mesa for Mali’s older 400/450 series graphics engine.

        Lima is the open-source driver effort originally started seven years ago Luc Verhaegen but then the project ceased and more recently Qiang Yu has been working on resurrecting and advancing this original open-source, reverse-engineered Arm Mali graphics driver effort.

    • Benchmarks

      • Scaleway’s EPYC Powered Cloud Is Delivering Competitive Performance & Incredible Value

        Scaleway, the European cloud company we previously have talked about on Phoronix for their usage of Coreboot on servers, this week announced new “general purpose” VMs powered by AMD EPYC processors. Curious about the performance, I fired up some benchmarks.

        Scaleway’s new general purpose virtual instances are powered by AMD EPYC CPUs with NVMe SSD storage and range from the petite “GP1-XS” with just four AMD EPYC cores / 16GB RAM / 150GB NVMe storage / 400 MBits/s bandwidth at €0.078/hr to the “GP1-XL” with 48 EPYC cores / 256GB RAM / 600GB NVMe / 2 Gbit/s bandwidth at €1.138/hr. The pricing for these EPYC instances is quite competitive compared to the Intel/AMD VM pricing at other cloud providers, notably Amazon EC2, as will be shown by some performance-per-dollar tests in this article.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • All new Okteta features of version 0.26 in a picture

        Okteta, a simple editor for the raw data of files, has been released in version 0.26.0. The 0.26 series mainly brings a clean-up of the public API of the provided shared libraries. The UI & features of the Okteta program have been kept stable, next to one added new feature: there is now a context menu in the byte array viewer/editor available.

        Since the port to Qt5 & KF5 Okteta has not seen work on new features. Instead some rework of the internal architecture has been started, and is still on-going.

        Though this release there is a small feature added again, and thus the chance to pick up on the good tradition of the series of all-new-features-in-a-picture, like done for 0.9, 0.7, 0.4, 0.3, and 0.2. See in one quick glance what is new since 0.9 (sic):

      • KDE Itinerary – Using Public Transport Data

        Now that we have a way to access realtime public transport data this needs to be integrated into KDE Itinerary. There’s three use-cases being looked at so far, described below.

        Realtime information

        The first obvious use-case is displaying delays, platform changes, etc in the timeline and reservation details views, and notifying about such changes. This is already implemented for trains based on KPublicTransport, and to a very limited extend (gate changes) for flights using KPkPass for Apple Wallet boarding passes containing a working update API endpoint.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • NetworkManager 1.16 released, adding WPA3-Personal and WireGuard support

        NetworkManager needs no introduction. In fifteen years since its initial release, it has reached the status of the standard Linux network configuration daemon of choice of all major Linux distributions. What, on the other hand, may need some introduction, are the features of its 28th major release.

        Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome: NetworkManager-1.16.

      • NetworkManager 1.16 Brings WireGuard Support, WiFi Direct/P2P

        NetworkManager 1.16 is now available as the newest feature release for this widely used Linux networking configuration component.

        NetworkManager 1.16 is a big feature release bringing support for WireGuard VPN tunnels, WiFi direction connections (WiFi P2P), SAE authentication, AP and ad-hoc support for the Intel IWD back-end, improved handling of DHCP router options, enhancements around network boot, and a lot of other enhancements.

      • WireGuard in NetworkManager

        NetworkManager 1.16 got native support for WireGuard VPN tunnels (NEWS). WireGuard is a novel VPN tunnel protocol and implementation that spawned a lot of interest. Here I will not explain how WireGuard itself works. You can find very good documentation and introduction at wireguard.com.

      • Haller: WireGuard in NetworkManager

        Thomas Haller writes about the WireGuard integration in NetworkManager 1.16.

      • The JS Foundation and Node.js Foundation Have Merged to Form the Open JS Foundation, GNOME 3.32 Now Available, Qt 5.12.2 Patch Release, Kernel Update for Ubuntu 14.04, Debian GNU/Linux Project Leader Nominations

        GNOME 3.32 Taipei was released this week. This version represents 6 months of work by the GNOME Community and includes many improvements and new features. The visual style has been refreshed with an brand-new set of app icons. It also “introduces an experimental feature for Wayland desktop sessions that enables fractional scaling”. And, data structure improvements in the GNOME desktop have caused a ” faster, snappier feel to the animations, icons and top ‘shell’ panel”. See the release notes for more details on all the changes and enhancements.

      • GNOME 3.32 and other ramblings

        The most promoted improvement in this release is the improved performance. Having worked or reviewed some these improvements myself, I found it a bit weird that some people were reporting enormous changes on performance. Of course, you should notice that GNOME Shell is smoother, and applications as well (when the compositor reliably sends frame ticks to applications, they also draw on time, and feel smoother as well.)

        But people were telling me that these changes were game changing.

        There is a grey line between the actual improvements, and people just happy and overly excited about it. And I thought the latter was the case.

        But then I installed the non-debug packages from Arch repositories and this is actually a game changer release. I probably got used to using Mutter and GNOME Shell manually compiled with all the debug and development junk, and didn’t really notice how better it became.

      • Maps and GNOME 3.32

        So, a couple of days ago the GNOME 3.32 release came out and I thought I should share something about the news on the Maps side of things, although I think most of this has been covered in previous posts.

        First up we have gotten a new application icon as part of the major overhaul of the icon style.

        Furthermore the application menu has been moved into a “hamburger menu” inside the main window, in-line with the other applications in the desktop. This goes hand-in-hand with the gnome-shell top bar application menu not showing this application-specified menu anymore, since it was considered not too intuitive and also few third-party apps utilized it. But I’m pleased to see that the icon of the currently focused app is still shown in the topbar, as I think this is a good visual cue there.

  • Distributions

    • Mageia Linux Is a Modern Throwback to the Underdog Days

      I’ve been using Linux long enough to remember Linux Mandrake. I recall, at one of my first-ever Linux conventions, hanging out with the MandrakeSoft crew and being starstruck to think that they were creating a Linux distribution that was sure to bring about world domination for the open source platform.

      Well, that didn’t happen. In fact, Linux Mandrake didn’t even stand the test of time. It was renamed Mandriva and rebranded. Mandriva retained popularity but eventually came to a halt in 2011. The company disbanded, sending all those star developers to other projects. Of course, rising from the ashes of Mandrake Linux came the likes of OpenMandriva, as well as another distribution called Mageia Linux.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • HexagonOS 1.0 overview | DISCOVER A NEW WAY

        In this video, I am going to show an overview of HexagonOS 1.0 and some of the applications pre-installed.

      • AcroLinuxB 19.03 Deepin

        Today we are looking at ArcoLinuxB 19.03 Deepin. AcroLinux 19.03 has been released on the 12th of March and it’s default environment in XFCE and we had a few looks at in the past but I thought I will look at one of the community editions to celebrate the point release of this rolling Arch distro with stunning icon themes and neat features in it, with Linux Kernel 5 and all the latest of Linux. Enjoy!

        ArcoLinux is available with the following desktop environments: AcroLinux – XFCE, Openbox and i3. AcroLinuxD – no Desktop. AcroLinuxB – Awesome, Bspwm, Budgie, Cinnamon, Deepin, Gnome, Openbox, i3, Mate, Plasma, Xfce and Xmonad.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • KDE Plasma 5.15.3 update

        The KDE Plasma packages were updated to 5.15.3. This is a bug fix update including additional translations for the KDE Plasma desktop. The full announcement can be found here.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Suse is once again an independent company

        Open-source infrastructure and application delivery vendor Suse — the company behind one of the oldest Linux distributions — today announced that it is once again an independent company. The company today finalized its $2.5 billion acquisition by growth investor EQT from Micro Focus, which itself had acquired it back in 2014.

        Few companies have changed hands as often as Suse and yet remained strong players in their business. Suse was first acquired by Novell in 2004. Novell was then acquired by Attachmate in 2010, which Micro Focus acquired in 2014. The company then turned Suse into an independent division, only to then announce its sale to EQT in the middle of 2018.

        It took a while for Micro Focus and EQT to finalize the acquisition, though, but now, for the first time since 2004, Suse stands on its own.

      • The Future of SUSE: A Home for Truly Open Open Source Solutions

        While this might look like a big change for SUSE, the fact is that for myself and the rest of the leadership team here, it’s a fulfillment of a path we’ve been following for a long time.
        In fact, there are no changes to the essence of our mission, vision and strategy. We will continue our focus on the success of our customers and our commitments to our partners and open source communities and projects.
        Events and trends in IT make it clear that open source has become more important for enterprises than ever. We believe this makes our position as the largest independent open source company more important than ever. SUSE’s independence is aligned with a single-minded focus on delivering what is best for our customers and partners, coupled with full control over our own destiny.

      • SUSE Completes Move to Independence, Reaffirms Commitment to Customers, Partners and Open Source Communities as Industry’s Largest Independent Open Source Company

        SUSE® today announced the creation of the largest independent open source company following the completion of SUSE’s acquisition by growth investor EQT from Micro Focus. With its ongoing momentum, portfolio expansion and successful execution in the marketplace, as a standalone business SUSE is now even better positioned to focus on the needs of customers and partners as a leading provider of enterprise-grade, open source software-defined infrastructure and application delivery solutions that enable customer workloads anywhere – on premise, hybrid and multi-cloud – with exceptional service, value and flexibility.
        The newly independent SUSE has expanded its executive team, adding new leadership roles and experience to foster its continued momentum into this next stage of corporate development. Enrica Angelone has been named to the new post of chief financial officer, and Sander Huyts is SUSE’s new chief operations officer. Thomas Di Giacomo, formerly chief technology officer for SUSE, is now president of Engineering, Product and Innovation. All three report to SUSE CEO Nils Brauckmann.

      • SUSE completes its management transition

        Here’s a SUSE press release hyping its transition to being “the largest independent open-source company”.

      • SUSE Marks Its New Independence Under EQT Ownership

        It was in July of last year that Swedish private equity firm EQT Partners acquired SUSE from Micro Focus. That deal is now closed and SUSE is marking its independence today while proclaiming to be the largest independent open-source company.

      • SUSE, The First Enterprise Linux Company, Is Again Independent

        SUSE was the world’s first company to market Linux for the enterprise customers; it also drives the development of the popular openSUSE Linux distribution.

        Over the years, the company’s ownership has changed quite a few times. Just yesterday, the company announced that once again it’s an independent open source company.

    • Fedora

      • The 10 Best Reasons to Use Fedora Linux

        Fedora needs no introduction because it is one of the most popular Linux distribution alongside big names like Ubuntu, Debian, and Red Hat. But just in case you are coming across the distro for the first time, you should know that it is a professional, customizable Red Hat-backed Linux distro famous for giving its users the latest features while remaining true to the open source community.

      • GNOME 3.32 released & coming to Fedora 30
      • FPgM report: 2019-11

        I?ve set up weekly office hours in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else. The Fedora 30 Beta Go/No-Go and Release Readiness meetings are next week.

      • Two new policy proposals

        In addition, we realized that we don’t have an explicit policy about issuing bans in channels for persistent off-topic conversation. We want to give teams within Fedora autonomy to act on their own within the boundaries of our Four Foundations and community norms.

      • Internationalization (i18n) features for Fedora 30
      • GNU Tools Cauldron 2019

        Simon Marchi just announced that the next GNU Tools Cauldron will be in Montreal, Canada from Thursday September 12 till Sunday September 15.

      • Yum vs. DNF Is Still Causing Headaches For Fedora Logistics

        While the DNF package manager as the “next-generation Yum” has been in development for over a half-decade and has been the default over traditional Yum for a number of Fedora releases, it’s still causing headaches for some and a subset of users still desiring that DNF be renamed to Yum.

        On newer Fedora installations, yum does already point to dnf and the experience these days at least from my personal perspective has been quite good with DNF being the default now since Fedora 22… I haven’t had any real DNF troubles now in years, though with RHEL8 Beta even still calling it “yum”, there are some oddities from being so ingrained to Yum for the past two decades especially for system administrators.

    • Debian Family

      • Ben Hutchings: Debian LTS work, February 2019

        I was assigned 19.5 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and carried over 1 hour from January. I worked only 4 hours and so will carry over 16.5 hours.

      • Hideki Yamane: pbuilder hack with new debootstrap option

        Suddenly I noticed that maybe I can use –cache-dir option that I’ve added to debootstrap some time ago for pbuilder, too. Then hacked it.

      • Finally, one dev puts hand up for Debian leader post

        The Debian GNU/Linux project has extended the last date for nominations for the post of leader to be received, a couple of days before the last date for nominations. One nomination has come in, with developer Joerg Jaspert, who is part of the Debian Account Managers team, putting his hand up.
        Nominations were initially slated to close on 16 March, after opening on the 3rd. The project, which puts out what is arguably the best GNU/Linux distribution, caters to a large number of architectures as well. It is the base for many other distributions, including Ubuntu.

        Jaspert sponsors those who are not yet developers so they can maintain their own packages, according to his own website. He also helps people who are maintainers to transition to developer.

        The campaigning period for the Debian election is from 17 March to 6 April, though that may now be pushed out by a week as well. Voting was originally scheduled to take place from 7 April to 20 April.

      • Debian project leader candidates emerge

        When Leaderless Debian was written, it seemed entirely plausible that there would still be no candidates for the project leader office even after the extended nomination deadline passed. It is now clear that there will be no need to extend the deadline further, since three candidates (Joerg Jaspert, Jonathan Carter, and Sam Hartman) have stepped forward. It seems likely that the wider discussion on the role of the Debian project leader will continue but, in the meantime, the office will not sit empty.

      • Romain Perier: Hello planet !

        My name is Romain, I have been nominated to the status of Debian Maintainer recently. I am part of the debian-kernel team (still a padawan) since few months, and, as a DM, I will co-maintain the package raspi3-firmware with Gunnar Wolf.

        [...]

        I will try my best to get an excellent support for all Raspberry PI in Debian (with unofficial images at the beginning). Including kernel support, kernel bugs fixes or improvements, debos and/or vmdb2 recipes for generating buster images easily, and even graphical stack hacks :) . I will continue my work in the kernel-team, because there are a tons of things to do, and of courses as co-maintainer, maintain raspi3-firmware (that will be probably renamed to something more generic, *spoil*).

      • Derivatives

        • Deepin 15.9.2 Beta – The Repository Migrates to Debian Stable

          deepin is an open source GNU/Linux operating system, based on Linux kernel and mainly on desktop applications, supporting laptops, desktops and all-in-ones. It preinstalls Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE) and nearly 30 deepin native applications, as well as several applications from the open source community to meet users’ daily learning and work needs. In addition, about a thousand of applications are offered in Deepin Store to meet users’ various needs.

          deepin 15.9.2 Beta is rebuilt and released based on the stable repository instead of previous Debian unstable. Several deepin applications have been migrated there too. By migration, deepin software repository will be more stable and reliability.

          What is the difference between deepin 15.9.2 Beta ISO and deepin 15.9 ISO?

          The main difference is that deepin software repository migrates from Debian unstable to Debian stable. Compared with 15.9 ISO, deepin 15.9.2 Beta ISO integrates the latest deepin 15.9.2 and has been adjusted and optimized accordingly.

          Why migrate to Debian stable from unstable?

        • KNOPPIX 8.5.0 released

          Remember the KNOPPIX distribution? KNOPPIX 8.5.0 has been released. It includes a 4.20 kernel, several desktop environments, the ADRIANE audio desktop, UEFI secure boot support, and more.

        • KNOPPIX 8.5.0 Linux Magazin Release
        • Knoppix 8.5 Live Linux Distro Released, Based On Linux 4.20, Adds Adriane Audio Desktop

          Knoppix, one of the first “live” Linux distributions that dates back to the year 2000 and still continues to see occasional updates, is out today with Knoppix version 8.5 in celebration of the latest Chemnitzer Linux Days event.

          Knoppix 8.5 is built from Debian Buster and Sid packages while providing various updates, utilizing the Linux 4.20 stable kernel, shipping both KDE 5 and GNOME 3 and LXDE options, adds in the ADRIANE audio desktop that can be used with vision-oriented output devices for desktop engagement via audio, and has a plethora of package upgrades.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Debian vs Ubuntu – Their Differences and Similarities

            Debian vs Ubuntu, their differences and similarities. While Ubuntu is based on Debian, there are some areas where the two distros differ. In this video I’ll discuss Debian and Ubuntu, how they differ from one another and how despite these differences the two Linux distros manage to do amazing things.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu Studio to Remain Officially Recognized Ubuntu Flavor

              During a meeting of the Ubuntu Developer Membership Board on March 11, 2019, two Ubuntu Studio developers, Council Chair Erich Eickmeyer and Council Member Ross Gammon, successfully applied for and received upload rights to Ubuntu Studio’s core packages, fulfilling the requirements prescribed in https://wiki.ubuntu.com/RecognizedFlavors.

              We would like to thank the community for staying with us through this uncertain time, and thank the Ubuntu Developer Membership Board for approving Erich and Ross’s applications.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Sweet Home 3D: An open source tool to help you decide on your dream home

    recently accepted a new job in Virginia. Since my wife was working and watching our house in New York until it sold, it was my responsibility to go out and find a new house for us and our cat. A house that she would not see until we moved into it!

    I contracted with a real estate agent and looked at a few houses, taking many pictures and writing down illegible notes. At night, I would upload the photos into a Google Drive folder, and my wife and I would review them simultaneously over the phone while I tried to remember whether the room was on the right or the left, whether it had a fan, etc.

  • GNU licensed KLog Logbook software v.0.9.7 released

    Jaime, EA4TV, released KLog v.0.9.7, a multiplatform free hamradio logging program which is able to run in Linux, Windows and macOS.

    The latest release allows the user to add, remove or edit satel- lites to the KLog DB allowing import or export of satellites data.
    KLog supports ADIF as a default file format.

    Additional features of KLog include QSO management, QSL management, a DX-Cluster client, DXCC management, ClubLog integration, WSJT-X, and DX-Marathon support. Several languages are supported including Catalan, Croatian, Danish, English, Finish, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla statement on the Christchurch terror attack

        Like millions of people around the world, the Mozilla team has been deeply saddened by the news of the terrorist attack against the Muslim community in Christchurch, New Zealand.

        The news of dozens of people killed and injured while praying in their place of worship is truly upsetting and absolutely abhorrent.

      • VP search update — and Europe

        A year ago, Mozilla Foundation started a search for a VP, Leadership Programs. The upshot of the job: work with people from around the world to build a movement to ensure our digital world stays open, healthy and humane. Over a year later, we’re in the second round of this search — finding the person to drive this work isn’t easy. However, we’re getting closer, so it’s time for an update.

        At a nuts and bolts level, the person in this role will support teams at Mozilla that drive our thought leadership, fellowships and events programs. This is a great deal of work, but fairly straightforward. The tricky part is helping all the people we touch through these programs connect up with each other and work like a movement — driving to real outcomes that make digital life better.

        While the position is global in scope, it will be based in Europe. This is in part because we want to work more globally, which means shifting our attention out of North America and towards African, European, Middle Eastern and South Asian time zones. Increasingly, it is also because we want to put a significant focus on Europe itself.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 55
      • AFS For Linux 5.1 Would Have Pleased Firefox/SQLite But Was Rejected As Untested Crap

        The Andrew File-System (AFS) continues to evolve as a distributed file-system. Over the past year and a half there’s been a lot of activity to AFS in the mainline Linux kernel, including material slated for the in-development Linux 5.1 kernel but then Linus Torvalds ended up having to un-pull the changes.

        Should you be wanting to run the Mozilla Firefox web browser from this distributed file-system or other applications relying upon the SQLite embedded database, the process should be smoother once this new file-system driver code lands. AFS in the material for Linux 5.1 was going to have fine-grained locking that satisfies the likes of Firefox and SQLite. There’s also other work to “improve the life of desktop applications” with other file locking fixes, silly-rename support, and other changes.

  • CMS

    • One-third of the web!

      WordPress now powers over 1/3rd of the top 10 million sites on the web according to W3Techs. Our market share has been growing steadily over the last few years, going from 29.9% just one year ago to 33.4% now. We are, of course, quite proud of these numbers!

      The path here has been very exciting. In 2005, we were celebrating 50,000 downloads. Six years later, in January 2011, WordPress was powering 13.1% of websites. And now, early in 2019, we are powering 33.4% of sites. Our latest release has already been downloaded close to 14 million times, and it was only released on the 21st of February.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Guix: Documentation video creation

      Over the last few months, I have been working as an Outreachy intern with the GNU Guix crowd to develop videos presenting and documenting the project. My goal in this round as an Outreachy intern for the December 2018 to March 2019 period consists of creating introductory documentation videos about different topics for people who would like to use GNU Guix, admins and/or those who would like to join Guix community and don’t know where to start. Even interested or having a clear documentation, they might feel overwhelmed by it. I experienced this issue in the past with people in another context.

      My main tasks consist of creating a workflow for automating as much as possible the process of creating the videos, as well as, of course, creating the videos themselves. Creating the videos is not that easy as it might seem, I have to design them (I cannot automate that part), let the audio match the video, and matching the exact timing is quite difficult. Something very important that I should mention is that the workflow currently allows translations to other languages.

      It is a work in progress for too many reasons, specially because it keeps being improved all the time.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Unesco calls on governments to preserve source code

      Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is calling on governments to help preserve source code. The appeal is gaining support from researchers, universities and archives across the world. “The role of software development in all fields of innovation is still largely underrated,” Unesco says.

    • Launch of the 2019 Digital Government Factsheets’ data-collection

      The European Commission, Directorate-General for Informatics, Interoperability Unit launched on 1st March 2019 the data-collection activities for the yearly update of the eGovernment factsheets (from now on Digital government factsheets). This will constitute the eleventh edition of this exercise. The factsheets are published as part of the National Interoperability Framework Observatory (NIFO) project of the ISA2 programme, and constitute a vital step in the process of monitoring the development in Digital Government in Europe, covering more than 34 European States.

      A novelty in this year’s factsheets is the new scope of the factsheets, providing streamlined information concerning the legal frameworks, strategies and infrastructure in place to support the Digital Government activities in each country. This has been done to reflect the ongoing paradigm shift from the concept of eGovernment to the broader one of Digital Government, covering also back-office processes and new digital policies, domains and technologies.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The Cloud and Open Source Powder Keg

      The idea that the adoption of open source by developers within enterprises at scale had transformed the nature of procurement was consistent with RedMonk’s own views, of course. To some degree, it has been a core belief all along, and has been surfaced explicitly over the years with pieces such as this one from 2011 entitled “Bottom Up Adoption: The End of Procurement as We’ve Known It.” What was interesting about the proposed model wasn’t what it told us about the present, however, but rather what it failed to tell us about the future.

      Conspicuously unmentioned at this event was the cloud. The cited competition for both investor and commercial OSS supplier was proprietary software; no special attention or even explicit mention was made of Amazon or other hyperscale cloud providers. A question on the subject was brushed off, politely.

      Which was interesting, because RedMonk had by that point been judging commercial open source leadership teams based on their answer to the simple question of “who is your competition?” If the answer was a proprietary incumbent, this suggested that the company was looking backwards at the market. If the answer was instead the cloud, it was safe to assume they were more forward-looking.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Norway Joins List of Countries Canceling Elsevier Contracts

        Norway has become latest country to cancel its contracts with Elsevier following a dispute over access to research papers. In a statement published yesterday (March 12), the Norwegian Directorate for ICT and Joint Services in Higher Education and Research (UNIT), which represents a consortium of research institutions in the country, rejected Elsevier’s offer to lower some of its costs for Norwegian institutions because it didn’t go far enough to promote free access to published research.

  • Programming/Development

    • libinput’s internal building blocks

      Ho ho ho, let’s write libinput. No, of course I’m not serious, because no-one in their right mind would utter “ho ho ho” without a sufficient backdrop of reindeers to keep them sane. So what this post is instead is me writing a nonworking fake libinput in Python, for the sole purpose of explaining roughly how libinput’s architecture looks like. It’ll be to the libinput what a Duplo car is to a Maserati. Four wheels and something to entertain the kids with but the queue outside the nightclub won’t be impressed.

      The target audience are those that need to hack on libinput and where the balance of understanding vs total confusion is still shifted towards the latter. So in order to make it easier to associate various bits, here’s a description of the main building blocks.

      libinput uses something resembling OOP except that in C you can’t have nice things unless what you want is a buffer overflow\n\80xb1001af81a2b1101. Instead, we use opaque structs, each with accessor methods and an unhealthy amount of verbosity. Because Python does have classes, those structs are represented as classes below. This all won’t be actual working Python code, I’m just using the syntax.

    • Dependencies. Now with badges!

      Welcome to post number twenty in the randomly redundant R rant series of posts, or R4 for short. It has been a little quiet since the previous post last June as we’ve been busy with other things but a few posts (or ideas at least) are queued.

      Dependencies. We wrote about this a good year ago in post #17 which was (in part) tickled by the experience of installing one package … and getting a boatload of others pulled in. The topic and question of dependencies has seen a few posts over the year, and I won’t be able to do them all justice. Josh and I have been added a few links to the tinyverse.org page. The (currently) last one by Russ Cox titled Our Software Dependency Problem is particularly trenchant.

    • Online Game Manual and Sound On Off
    • 5 Examples to Jumpstart Object Oriented Programming in Python
    • Plot the technical data for a stock
    • Count the number of audiences around you in the theater
    • Python Testing 101 with pytest
    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 12 – Assignment Operators and Conditional Expressions

      In this ongoing C programming tutorial series, we have already discussed some of the basic stuff like arithmetic, logical, and relational operators as well as conditional loops like ‘if’ and ‘while’. Adding upon that, this tutorial will focus on assignment operators (other than =) and conditional expressions.

    • Set up JDK Mission Control with Red Hat Build of OpenJDK

      JDK Mission Control is now the newest member of the Red Hat Software Collections (RHSCL). JDK Mission Control is a powerful profiler for HotSpot Java virtual machines (JVMs) and has an advanced set of tools that enable efficient and detailed analysis of the extensive data collected by JDK Flight Recorder. The toolchain enables developers and administrators to collect and analyze data from Java applications running locally or deployed in production environments.

      In this article, I will go through a primary example of setting up JDK Mission Control. For Linux, JDK Mission Control is part of the RHSCL and, for Windows, it is available as part of the OpenJDK zip distribution on the Red Hat Customer Portal. For Linux, these instructions assume that Red Hat Build of OpenJDK 11 is already installed. I will show how to set up the system to install software from RHSCL, which provides the latest development technologies for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Then, I will install the JDK Mission Control and run a simple sample application. The whole tutorial should take fewer than 10 minutes to complete.

    • A Big Patch Could Yield Big Performance Benefits For GPU Offloading With LLVM

      The researchers at Saarland University in Germany continue doing interesting things with LLVM and a new patch for at least some benchmarks can yield big performance benefits for GPU offloading.

      Johannes Doerfert of Saarland University published code this week on the OpenMP GPU code “SPMD-zation”. The code builds upon their earlier proposal from months ago to allow for more code targeting the GPU to be executed in SPMD (Single Program, Multiple Data) mode and lightweight “guarded” modes where appropriate in order to overcome some bottlenecks in LLVM’s existing OpenMP GPU offloading code.

    • Qt 5.12.2 Released

      am pleased to announce that the second patch release of Qt 5.12 LTS, the Qt 5.12.2 is released today. While not adding new features, the Qt 5.12.2 release provides a number of bug fixes and other improvements.

      Compared to Qt 5.12.1, the new Qt 5.12.2 contains more than 250 bug fixes. For details of the most important changes, please check the Change files of Qt 5.12.2.

    • Entries in GTK 4

      One of the larger refactorings that recently landed in GTK master is re-doing the entry hierarchy. This post is summarizing what has changed, and why we think things are better this way.

    • GTK4 Seeing Text Entry Improvements, Easier To Create Custom Entry Widgets

      Adding to the big list of changes to find with the yet-to-be-released GTK4 toolkit is some refactoring around the entry widgets to improve the text entry experience as well as making it easier to create custom entry widgets outside of GTK.

      [...]

      This comes on top of many other GTK4 changes ranging from Wayland improvements to a big GDK rework, a Vulkan renderer, CSS improvements, exclusively relies upon the Meson build system, the introduction of the GTK Scene Kit (GSK), and many other changes building up over the past roughly three years. After failing to materialize in 2018, it’s expected GTK 4.0.0 will make it out this year.

    • JS Foundation and Node.js Foundation join forces

      People like to make fun of JavaScript. “It’s not a real language! Who, in their right mind, would use it on a server?” The replies are: It’s a real language and JavaScript is one of the most popular languages of all. For years, the enterprise server side had been divided into two camps: JS Foundation and Node.js Foundation. This was a bit, well, silly. Now, the two are coming together to form one organization: OpenJS Foundation.

      At the Open Source Leadership Summit in Half Moon Bay, CA, the Linux Foundation announced the long anticipated news that the two JavaScript powers were merging. The newly formed OpenJS Foundation mission is to support the growth of JavaScript and related web technologies by providing a neutral organization to host and sustain projects, and fund development activities. It’s made up of 31 open-source JavaScript projects including Appium, Dojo, jQuery, Node.js, and webpack.

    • Cookie – A Template-Based File Generator for Projects

      Cookie is similar to cookiecutter, a command-line utility that creates projects from project templates (stylistically referred to as “cookiecutters“) in any markup format or programming language. But unlike cookiecutter, Cookie creates pages from file templates.

      The templates are stored in the ~/.cookiecutters directory or the directory specified by $COOKIE_DIR. You can see examples of the main developer’s templates here.

    • Federico Mena-Quintero: A Rust API for librsv

      After the librsvg team finished the rustification of librsvg’s main library, I wanted to start porting the high-level test suite to Rust. This is mainly to be able to run tests in parallel, which cargo test does automatically in order to reduce test times. However, this meant that librsvg needed a Rust API that would exercise the same code paths as the C entry points.

    • Template meta-functions for detecting template instantiation
    • Guido van Rossum: Why operators are useful

      This is something I posted on python-ideas, but I think it’s interesting to a wider audience.

      There’s been a lot of discussion recently about an operator to merge two dicts.

      It prompted me to think about the reason (some) people like operators, and a discussion I had with my mentor Lambert Meertens over 30 years ago came to mind.

      For mathematicians, operators are essential to how they think. Take a simple operation like adding two numbers, and try exploring some of its behavior.

    • Django Authentication — Login, Logout and Password Change/Reset
    • list all files in a git commit
    • Plot the sector performance graph
    • Create a new Python Project with Visual Studio 2019 RC IDE
    • Remove exclamation mark from a string with python
    • Return a reverse order list for a number with python
    • The final adjustment of the main menu page buttons
    • Codementor: How and why I built BlueThroat – An open source cloud migration tool
    • Codementor: Platforms, Python Practice Projects, and Picking Up Flask: A Blog Story
    • Why to DIY chatbots
    • littler 0.3.7: Small tweaks

      The eight release of littler as a CRAN package is now available, following in the thirteen-ish year history as a package started by Jeff in 2006, and joined by me a few weeks later.

      littler is the first command-line interface for R and predates Rscript. And it is (in my very biased eyes) better as it allows for piping as well shebang scripting via #!, uses command-line arguments more consistently and still starts faster. It also always loaded the methods package which Rscript converted to rather recently.

      littler lives on Linux and Unix, has its difficulties on macOS due to yet-another-braindeadedness there (who ever thought case-insensitive filesystems as a default where a good idea?) and simply does not exist on Windows (yet – the build system could be extended – see RInside for an existence proof, and volunteers are welcome!).

    • AWS Careers: On the Road to All 9 AWS Certifications
    • Certifications Aren’t as Big a Deal as You Think [Ed: usually 'prove' you've trained for a particular corporation's product]

      For some reason, security certifications get discussed a lot, particularly in forums catering to those newer to the industry. (See, for example, /r/asknetsec.) Now I’m not talking about business certifications (ISO, etc.) but personal certifications that allegedly demonstrate some kind of skill on behalf of the individual. There seems to be a lot of focus on certifications that you “need” or that will land you your dream security job.

      I’m going to make the claim that you should stop worrying about certifications and instead spend your time learning things that will help you in the real world – or better yet, actually applying your skills in the real world. There are likely some people who will strongly disagree with me, and that’s good, but I want it to be a discussion that people think about, instead of just assuming certifications are some kind of magic wand.

      I don’t think certifications are bad – in fact, I’ve got a few myself. I’m a current holder of both the OSCP and OSCE from Offensive Security (back when you could get an OSCP and take the exam naked if you wanted) and I’ve formerly held RHCE, LPIC-1 and LPIC-2 and a handful of other minor certifications. In fact, I’m damn proud of all of them.

      I’ve been employed in the tech industry for over a decade, more than half of which has been doing security work. I’ve had the privilege (and responsibility) of interviewing a couple hundred people for tech roles in that time. I write this not for the ego boost, but in order to provide context for my viewpoint. One important note is that more than 7 years of that experience is with a single employer, which will obviously influence my thinking on this subject. It’s also important to note that this post (like others on my blog) is written in my personal capacity and does not necessarily represent the viewpoint or hiring practices of any employer, past, present, or future.

      Most roles in infosec require a wide range of knowledge and the understanding of how to apply that knowledge. There are many skillsets necessary beyond what can be taught in a short class for a certification. For example, none of the technical certifications spend any significant time on soft skills, but the good practitioners in our industry are excellent communicators and can at least understand the business priorities, even if they don’t necessarily agree with them.

    • What does “x = a + b” mean?

      Guido van Rossum recently put together an excellent post talking about the value of infix binary operators in making certain kinds of operations easier to reason about correctly.

Leftovers

  • A new online project collects the memories of thousands of ordinary Russians

    Linor Goralik, a writer and journalist already known for her online innovations, has released a new media platform called PostPost.Media. The project, which has no external investors or sponsors, publishes ordinary people’s stories on subjects as various as children’s horror books, odd family eating habits, and Soviet government leaders: it highlights both the most memorable events in Russian history and Russian memories of familiar, everyday situations. The website also announces that a series of books based on PostPostMedia’s collected memories will be published beginning in the summer of 2019. Meduza journalist Dmitry Kartsev spoke with Goralik about how her project fact-checks the stories it receives and what can make nonfictional stories shock readers as much as fiction.

  • Science

    • Grieving in the Anthropocene

      Our brains are flooded with carefully programmed and meticulously marketed algorithms that condition us to respond to screens rather than each other and the living planet

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘Medieval’ Diseases Flare As Unsanitary Living Conditions Proliferate

      Jennifer Millar keeps trash bags and hand sanitizer near her tent, and she regularly pours water mixed with hydrogen peroxide on the sidewalk nearby. Keeping herself and the patch of concrete she calls home clean is a top priority.

      But this homeless encampment off a Hollywood freeway ramp is often littered with needles and trash, and soaked in urine. Rats occasionally scamper through, and Millar fears the consequences.

      “I worry about all those diseases,” said Millar, 43, who said she has been homeless most of her life.

      Infectious diseases — some that ravaged populations in the Middle Ages — are resurging in California and around the country, and are hitting homeless populations especially hard.

      Los Angeles recently experienced an outbreak of typhus — a disease spread by infected fleas on rats and other animals — in downtown streets. Officials briefly closed part of City Hall after reporting that rodents had invaded the building.

    • Trump’s Methylene Chloride Rule Leaves Workers Exposed to Deadly Chemical

      Today, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a rule that leaves workers across the United States exposed to methylene chloride, a lethal chemical used in paint strippers that has already caused dozens of worker deaths. Breaking EPA’s repeated promises to ban commercial and consumer uses of methylene chloride paint strippers, the Trump Administration instead finalized a ban solely on consumer uses, opening a loophole that leaves thousands of workers at risk of illness and death.

    • Kentucky Just Banned Abortion

      Two new laws passed this week are part of coordinated effort to ban abortion nationwide.
      The Kentucky Legislature passed two bills on this week, and unless a court blocks them, abortion will effectively be banned in the state.

      One bill, passed on Thursday night, prohibits abortion after six weeks in pregnancy before most women even know that they are pregnant. The other, passed late Wednesday night, bans abortion if a woman is seeking it because of a fetal diagnosis. The ACLU is challenging both laws, asking a judge to block them immediately to ensure that the only abortion provider in Kentucky, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, does not have to turn patients away.

      This is not a hard legal case. Banning abortion has been unconstitutional under more than 40 years of Supreme Court precedent, starting with Roe v. Wade. The politicians who passed these laws know that, but they are hoping that these laws will be the means the Supreme Court will use to reconsider Roe. They are emboldened by changes on the Supreme Court, where there may be enough votes to overrule or weaken the constitutional right to abortion.

      This is just the most recent effort by Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky and other politicians to push abortion out of reach. Bevin has forced two other clinics to stop providing abortion, resulting in EMW in Louisville being the last remaining abortion facility in the state.

    • Politicians Are Finally Catching Up on Marijuana

      Usually I don’t look to sitcoms for wisdom, but the new season of One Day at a Time has a real gem (or many, actually, but here is one). The family lives in California, where marijuana is legal, both recreationally and medicinally. The mother catches the teenage son vaping, and he complains that she’s being too harsh on him because it’s legal now.

      Her response? So is alcohol and so are cigarettes, and none of them are legal for you. And all three are bad for a teenager’s developing brain.

      Our longstanding national policy of criminalizing marijuana at a federal level and in many states is often justified by calling marijuana a “gateway drug.”

      But the other two so-called gateway drugs — tobacco and alcohol — were already legal. And none were legal for minors. So why is marijuana so uniquely bad it must be criminalized for adults?

      You should not drive a car while high, but you also should not drive while drunk. Somehow we’ve managed to allow alcohol while restricting people from using it in ways that endanger others.

    • 78,000+ Pounds of Ground Turkey Recalled Over Possible Salmonella Contamination

      Butterball, LLC is recalling approximately 78,164 pounds of ground turkey due to possible Salmonella Schwarzengrund contamination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Wednesday.

    • The Mental Health Crisis Afflicting America’s Youth Is All Too Real

      The first signs of a problem started to emerge around 2014: More young people said they felt overwhelmed and depressed. College counseling centers reported sharp increases in the number of students seeking treatment for mental health issues.

      Even as studies were showing increases in symptoms of depression and in suicide among adolescents since 2010, some researchers called the concerns overblown and claimed there simply isn’t enough good data to reach that conclusion.

      The idea that there’s an epidemic in anxiety or depression among youth “is simply a myth,” psychiatrist Richard Friedman wrote in The New York Times last year. Others suggested young people were simply more willing to get help when they needed it. Or perhaps counseling centers’ outreach efforts were becoming more effective.

      But a new analysis of a large representative survey reinforces what I – and others – have been saying: The epidemic is all too real. In fact, the increase in mental health issues among teens and young adults is nothing short of staggering.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • MITRE names The Document Foundation as a CVE Numbering Authority (CNA)

      MITRE announced that The Document Foundation, the home of LibreOffice, has been approved as CVE Numbering Authttps://blog.documentfoundation.org/blog/2019/03/15/mitre-names-the-document-foundation-as-a-cve-numbering-authority-cna/hority (CNA). The Document Foundation is at the center of one of the largest free open source software ecosystems, where enterprise sponsored developers and contributors work side by side with volunteers coming from every continent. The nomination is the result of significant investments in security provided by the LibreOffice Red Hat team under Caolán McNamara leadership.

    • Update now! Microsoft’s March 2019 Patch Tuesday is here

      If you were among the millions of users who updated Chrome last week to dodge a zero-day exploit, Microsoft has something for you in this month’s Patch Tuesday – a fix for a separate flaw targeting Windows 7 that is being used as part of the same attacks.

      To recap, the Chrome flaw (CVE-2019-5786) was first advised on 1 March with a ‘hurry up and apply the update’ follow-up a few days later when news of exploits emerged. The patch for that took Chrome to 72.0.3626.121.

    • DARPA Is Working On An Open Source And Hack-Proof Voting System

      Voting machines are vulnerable, and lawmakers are pushing hard to come up with a system that is impervious to hacks for fair results. Now, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a project to develop a $10 million open source and highly secure voting system. The new system will not only prevent hackers from hacking the machines but will also allow voters to verify that their vote has been recorded correctly.

      The open source voting system will be designed by Galois, an Oregon-based company and a government contractor. The company has previous experience in designing secure systems.

      [...]

      The new machines will not have barcodes. After submitting the paper ballot in the optical-scan system, a cryptographic representation of votes will be printed on a receipt. After the elections would get concluded, the cryptographic representations will be uploaded on a website where voters can verify their choice.

      This process will bring transparency in the voting system which heavily relies on election officials currently.

    • Cryptojacking Takes a New Turn in CryptoSink Campaign

      Researchers from F5 Labs reported on March 14 that they have discovered a new cryptojacking campaign that is abusing unpatched Elasticsearch servers.

      Unauthorized cryptocurrency mining, commonly referred to as “cryptojacking,” is an attack trend that started in 2017 and hit a peak in mid-2018. With a cryptojacking attack, a hacker makes use of a system or server resources to help mine cryptocurrency. F5 Labs is dubbing the cryptojacking campaign it discovered “CryptoSink” as the attackers are identifying systems that have already been compromised by cryptojacking and are “sinkholing” or redirecting the competitive mining effort. When the competitive cryptojacking effort is sinkholed, it is effectively shut down in favor of the new CryptoSink effort.

    • New cryptominer targets Elasticsearch on Windows, Linux

      A new cryptomining campaign that targets both Windows and Linux systems running the Elasticsearch search and analytics engine has been detailed by researchers from F5 Networks.
      Andrey Shalnev and Maxim Zavodchik said in a blog post that the campaign, which they have named Cryptosink, was using a five-year-old vulnerability in Elasticsearch to gain entry to the servers.

      The initial infection vector was a malicious HTTP request that targeted Elasticsearch.

      [...]

      The malware was also able to backdoor the server by adding the SSH keys of the person who was carrying out the attack.

      And it used several command and control servers, with the current live one being in China.

      Shalnev and Zavodchik said the rise of cryptomining botnets and the decline in crypto currency value meant there was tough competition among the various currencies.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump’s Foreign Policy is Based on Confrontation and Malevolence

      There is a saying in the worlds of politics and business that most people who come to prominence are those who in defeat bear malice and in victory seek revenge. It is therefore unsurprising that President Donald Trump displays both characteristics in international as well as domestic affairs, although his targets vary erratically between friend and foe. His near-psychotic concentration on achieving the destruction of Iran is understandably malicious and revengeful, given the nature of the man, but his latest exhibitions of would-be superiority involve allies, which even for Trump is dramatically misguided.

      The Trumpian United States has few friends, mainly because in his two years in the White House Trump has gone out of his way to belittle, demean and insult long-standing partners and antagonise those who may have been considering seeking closer ties with Washington.

      His announcement last December that “America is respected again” was wide of the mark, because, unfortunately, America has become a global joke — but a dangerous joke whose president may be a raving booby, but is still powerful and appears intent on upsetting what little tranquillity remains in this turmoil-stricken world.

      One recent diatribe was unprecedented in length, vulgarity and volatility. When he spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 2 he set a new low for absurdity in what the commentator Stephen Colbert described as being an “epically weird” harangue which The Atlantic said was the longest presidential oration in history. Moving on from this bizarre performance, Trump turned to international affairs and, as Politico reported on March 5, “kicked India and Turkey out of a decades-old US program that allows developing countries to export thousands of goods to the United States without paying duties,” in a scheme known as the Generalized System of Preferences or GSP.

    • Boeing Insists Its Planes Are Safe. So Why Is the FAA Ordering Fixes?

      Some pilots and aviation experts—even those who believe the plane is safe to fly—say Boeing and the FAA have not been fully forthcoming in addressing persistent problems with complex automatic adjustment software called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, and that the aircraft builder didn’t even tell pilots about MCAS until after last October’s Lion Air disaster in Indonesia killed 189 people. The software kicks in on its own during takeoff emergencies, and various reports have indicated that some pilots have not understood how it functions.

    • ‘One of New Zealand’s Darkest Days’: Dozens Reportedly Slain in Terror Attack on Two Mosques

      Witnesses are depicting horrifying scenes from the city of Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday following mass shootings by one or more gunman that occurred at two mosques in the city.

      While these figures are sure to change, as of this writing there are indications that “many people” are dead with one local outlet putting the initial confirmed number of victims at nine while more recent but unconfirmed reports indicicate the deathtoll is likely to be dozens or higher. One suspect in the slayings is reported by police to be in custody, but law enforcement has said they are still looking for other assailants and are treated it as an active shooter situation.

      [...]

      A witness who lived next door to the mosque and went to the help after the shooter fled, told the Associated Press: “I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque.” He added, “It’s unbelievable nutty. I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It’s ridiculous.”

      A separate shooting was also reported at the Linwood, several kilometers away.

    • Multiple Deaths in Shootings at 2 New Zealand Mosques

      Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved.

      Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and said the events in the city of Christchurch represented “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”

      One person was taken into custody but it was unclear if there were other people involved, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said. He said anybody who was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand on Friday should stay put.

      Authorities have not said who they have in custody. But a man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for his actions. He said he considered it a terrorist attack.

    • ‘Don’t Do It. Don’t Share the #Christchurch Footage’: Demand Goes Out for Blackout of Gunman’s Horrific Video

      “Don’t do it. Don’t watch it. It is a nightmare. Hearts are with New Zealand & muslim friends. What a horrible day. Numb.”

    • U.S. Iran Policy: What is Great?

      I returned last week from Iran as part of a 28-person peace delegation organized by Code Pink, a women-led peace and human rights organization. We went to Iran to learn of the impact of the U.S. sanctions on the Iranian people and to let them know that there are Americans who support the nuclear agreement (JCPOA) signed by the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Germany, European Union, and Iran—the agreement that is working, according to all parties except Donald Trump, who has broken the US government’s word and unilaterally left the treaty and imposed harsh sanctions on Iran instead. Our delegation met with a variety of people, from people in the street to dignitaries, including the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif.

      News sources reported Friday that Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater and brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, had participated in an Aug. 3, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower regarding Iran policy. The New York Times reported on May 19, 2018 that the meeting set up by Prince included princes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as an Israeli; Saudi Arabia and Israel being two of the most hostile countries toward Iran. These attendees were offering to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election. Did Trump supporters like Prince promise that Trump would abandon the nuclear deal?

      Our trip and the news of Erik Prince’s meeting made me think of the word ‘Great’. On our trip we learned of Cyrus the Great, credited for human rights and freeing the Jews in Babylon. Cyrus’s vast empire respected the religions and customs of the peoples over which he ruled. He even had inscriptions on his palace in three languages. The gardens of his palace at Pasargadae were called ‘paradaiza’, from which we get the word ‘paradise’. He ruled in such a way that he did not need walls around his palace.

      But what made me think about the word ‘great’ was how Iranians object to the name Alexander the Great. They call him Alexander the Macedonian. Alexander came through in 330 BCE, looted Persepolis’s treasures and burned the beautiful palace and nearby city to the ground. Is that great?

    • Bloody Sunday and the Charging of Soldier F

      Justice delayed is justice denied but there may yet be a sense, however flawed, that it can be done.The decision of the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland to charge just one former British soldier with murder, arising from the events of Bloody Sunday in January 1972, which left 14 people dead has been met with disappointment and it must be stated, great dignity by the relatives of those killed. The decision on Thursday to prosecute Soldier F for two murders and four attempted murders has been met with a disappointment that is understandable. That massacre fueled a cycle of violence that blighted the lives of so many people.

      On that bitterly cold Sunday night, like thousands of other families in Ireland, my family was sitting by the fire, watching the 9 o’clock news, waiting for the film, about the struggle for Indian independence, at 9.30. Some people in Dublin had erected ungainly TV aerials to catch the weak signal from Britain but in Limerick, 120 miles southwest of the capital, we got our signal from the single national TV station. There had been a march in Derry that afternoon and word was filtering in of casualties. The phone rang. Dad answered it and came back to the room 10 minutes later to say the news from Derry was bad, at least four marchers had been killed by the British army. Then the first of at least three newsflashes during the film as the confirmed death toll mounted. Six, eight, ten. The film on India’s struggle for independence, and the interrupting newsflashes seemed to play into a narrative that history was inescapable and the past was firmly rooted in the here and now. When the tumult ceased a special news program, close to midnight, gave the toll as 13 dead. The British army’s parachute regiment had shot dead 13 innocent people protesting against the internment of people without trial introduced in August. Another injured marcher died some months later. January 30, 1972. Bloody Sunday. Three days after the shootings, the British embassy in Dublin was burnt to the ground.

    • Did Dallas Police and Local Media Collude to Cover Up Terrorist Threats against Journalist Barrett Brown?

      Barrett Brown is an award-winning journalist and author who spent time in federal prison for work he did exposing various elements of the military-industrial complex, including publicizing the hacked emails of private intelligence company Stratfor. Since being released from prison, Brown has worked to establish the Pursuance Project, an initiative aimed at developing a new model of journalism based on crowdsourcing and diverse networks of collaboration using an internet-based platform.

      In November 2018, Brown was the subject of a terrorist threat made against his publisher, Dallas-based D Magazine. However, unlike most such terrorist threats against journalists/media outlets elsewhere in the country, this threat was not handled in the normal manner. You might even say that Dallas PD, in collaboration with the Dallas Morning News, moved to cover it up. Was this a case of gross incompetence by the police? Hatred of a well-known local muckraking journalist seen as an enemy of Dallas police and corporate media? Or was it something else?

    • Pity the Nation: War Spending is Bankrupting America

      Our nation is being preyed upon by a military industrial complex that is propped up by war profiteers, corrupt politicians and foreign governments.

      America has so much to offer—creativity, ingenuity, vast natural resources, a rich heritage, a beautifully diverse populace, a freedom foundation unrivaled anywhere in the world, and opportunities galore—and yet our birthright is being sold out from under us so that power-hungry politicians, greedy military contractors, and bloodthirsty war hawks can make a hefty profit at our expense.

      Don’t be fooled into thinking that your hard-earned tax dollars are being used for national security and urgent military needs.

      It’s all a ruse.

      You know what happens to tax dollars that are left over at the end of the government’s fiscal year? Government agencies—including the Department of Defense—go on a “use it or lose it” spending spree so they can justify asking for money in the next fiscal year.

      We’re not talking chump change, either.

    • The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It

      A great nation becomes disillusioned with the promises of free competition, free trade, economic liberalization, and greater integration into the world market, policies that seem to benefit only a few at the expense of the many. In an election that shocks the liberal and educated elements in the society, and international opinion, the people elect a strongman – an individual who is already famous, and who promises to return the country to greatness. Widely popular with working people, but linked to a more troubling group of militant supporters who his opponents might reasonably consider to be “deplorables”, he wins the election by promising public works to create employment. Yet, he also promises to business to safeguard its interests. Once in power, he quickly begins to violate recent norms of policy, standard governmental practice and traditional diplomacy.

      Sound familiar? Around the world the 21stcentury has seen leaders fitting most of this description come into power in one democratic country after another: Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, Jakob Zuma in South Africa, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Victor Orbàn in Hungary, and of course Donald Trump in the United States. We might add to this list China’s President Xi Jinping, even if he was only elected by the governing body of China, not the people themselves. And we might also, though with some caution, add Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to the list, as at least having gained a degree of personal authority while undermining the previously existing structures. As we will see, we can include these Latin American leaders only if we recognize some important differences. Then there are those who have come close but not yet won power, such as Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front. Looking over the worldwide panorama of power, we have to admit that a major form of government – one either based on, tending toward or favorable to one-person rule has spread around the world.

    • Trump’s Nightmare Budget

      Two things can be said with certainty about Trump’s 2020 budget request: It is DOA, dead on arrival, in the House; and it is a political document, catering to his loyal supporters, rather than a serious fiscal statement. What the budget request reveals is that Trump, left to his own devices, would further skewer the middle class and low-income groups, downgrade diplomacy and environmental protection, give the military more than it really wants or needs, and fulfill his obsession with a border wall. To say the budget is revolting and immoral would be a vast understatement. But it may (and should) give Democrats additional evidence of Trump’s unfitness to lead.

    • Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb

      This week Trump released his latest budget for 2019-20 fiscal year. It calls for $2.7 trillion in various social spending cuts over the decade, including $872 billion in reductions in Medicare, Social Security, Disability spending; another $327 billion in food stamps, housing support, and Medicaid; a further $200 billion in student loan cuts; and hundreds of billions more in cuts to education, government workers’ pensions, and funds to operate the EPA and other government agencies.

      Not surprising, the $2.7 trillion in social program spending cuts will finance spending for the military and defense related programs like Homeland Security, Border walls, veterans, police, and programs like school vouchers.

      Of course, the budget proposal is ‘dead on arrival’ with the US House of Representatives, which must approve all spending bills, according to the US Constitution. But don’t hold your breath. Trump may now have a back door to this Constitutional obstacle and eventually get his way on the budget, at least in part, to fund his military spending plans.

    • America’s Puppet: Meet Juan Guaidó

      Juan Guaidó is a useful pawn for U.S. interests in Venezuela, but is he expendable?

      On January 15th, the White House reported that VP Mike Pence spoke by phone “today” with Guaidó, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly. It claimed the call was made “to recognize his courageous leadership following his arrest and intimidation this weekend, and to express the United States’ resolute support for the National Assembly of Venezuela as the only legitimate democratic body in the country.” On the 23rd, Guaidó declared himself interim president of Venezuela.

      In its brief statement about the call between Pence and Guaidó, the White House failed to report that the VP “pledged” that the Trump administration would support him “if he seized the reins of government from [elected President] Nicolas Maduro by invoking a clause in the South American country’s constitution.”

      This was revealed by The Wall Street Journal and sheds light on what actually was said during the conversation. “That late-night call set in motion a plan that had been developed in secret over the preceding several weeks, accompanied by talks between U.S. officials, allies, lawmakers, and key Venezuelan opposition figures, including Mr. Guaido himself,” it reported. Citing an anonymous administration official, it noted, “Almost instantly, just as Mr. Pence had promised, President Trump issued a statement recognizing Mr. Guaido as the country’s rightful leader.” On the 23rd, Trump twitted, “President @realDonaldTrump has officially recognised the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela.”

      The Journal went further, pointing out, “Other officials who met that day at the White House included… [Sec. of State] Pompeo and [National Security Advisor] Bolton, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who presented Mr. Trump with options for recognizing Mr. Guaido.” It added, “Mr. Trump decided to do it. Mr. Pence, who wasn’t at that meeting, placed his phone call to Mr. Guaido to tell him, ‘If the National Assembly invoked Article 233 the following day, the president would back him.’”

    • Annexing the Stars: Walcott, Rhodes, and Venezuela

      Poet Derek Walcott’s “A Far Cry from Africa” provides a stirring glimpse into the perspectives and policies of British colonialists in the 20th century. Of course, the perspectives it reveals are temporally confined to British colonialism in Walcott’s poem: he was a native of Saint Lucia, a British colony or “possession” in the Caribbean; and he was writing about Kenya, a British colony or “possession” in Africa. But the mindset he reveals could easily be applied to the modern neocolonialists of the American empire, which succeeded the British empire after World War Two.

      It was the British from whom the Americans inherited the imperial mandate. Imperialist enthusiast Sir Cecil Rhodes, the infamous South African magnate, understood the mutual interests of capitalism and imperialism, and how the latter was in fact a species of the former. Rhodes passionately believed expansionism was everything in capitalism and in nations. He once remarked, with a disarming frankness, “I would annex the stars if I could.”

      Contrast this with a quote from Derek Walcott, who spoke of his native region with a different kind of enthusiasm, “Visual surprise is natural in the Caribbean; it comes with the landscape, and faced with its beauty, the sigh of History dissolves.” How curious a contrast—the native of a country with an embarrassment of natural riches, star-struck by its beauty, who understood it to be a palliative for the individual suffering under the ravages of colonialism. It acted like a physic on the soul; like a balm on the body. Walcott sensed the same visual medicine existed in Africa. In A Far Cry, he notes the “tawny pelt” and a “white dust of ibises” and the “…bloodstreams of the veldt” that mar this “paradise.”

    • Grounding Boeing

      Lobbies, powerful interests and financial matters are usually the first things that come to mind when the aircraft industry is considered. Safety, while deemed of foremost importance, is a superficial formality, sometimes observed in the breach. To see the camera footage of the wreckage from the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 was to be shocked by a certain irony: cameras was found lingering over an inflight safety cards on what to do in the event of an emergency. For those on board that doomed flight, it was irrelevant.

      The deaths of all 157 individuals on board the flight en route to Nairobi from Addis Ababa on Sunday might have caused a flurry of panicked responses. There had been a similar disaster in Indonesia last year when Lion Air’s flight JT610 crashed killing 189 people. Two is too many, but the response to the disasters was initially lethargic.

    • Displacement and Ethnic Conflict in New Ethiopia

      Fundamental political reforms are underway in Ethiopia, but as the new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed and his government work to bring about change in the country, historic ethnic divisions have erupted. Dozens of people have been killed, many more injured and over a million people displaced since April 2018 due to rising ethnic violence. The total number of internally displaced persons, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) exceeds two million, this is a major test for the government, and to date little has been done for people driven from their homes.

      While other groups have been involved in the clashes, much of the violence has been attributed to men from Oromia. Young men who, Al Jazeera report, have also been accused of looting and destroying property, as well as taking new homes in the capital which had been allocated to other citizens by dint of a ballot

    • ‘Blatant Effort to Intimidate and Retaliate’: Pompeo Imposes Visa Ban on ICC Staff Probing US War Crimes

      The move, Pompeo confirmed to reporters Friday morning, is a direct response to ongoing efforts by the ICC to probe allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity tied to the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan.

      Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, was among those who spoke out against the decision. The ACLU currently represents Khaled El Masri, Suleiman Salim, and Mohamed Ben Soud, who were all detained and tortured in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008.

      “This is an unprecedented attempt to skirt international accountability for well-documented war crimes that haunt our clients to this day,” Dakwar said. “It reeks of the very totalitarian practices that are characteristic of the worst human rights abusers, and is a blatant effort to intimidate and retaliate against judges, prosecutors, and advocates seeking justice for victims of serious human rights abuses.”

      Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch, called it “an outrageous effort to bully the court and deter scrutiny of U.S. conduct.” He encouraged ICC member countries to “publicly make clear that they will remain undaunted in their support for the ICC and will not tolerate U.S. obstruction.”

      Daniel Balson, advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, noted that this is just “the latest attack on international justice and international institutions by an administration hellbent on rolling back human rights protections.”

      Visa bans, as Balson pointed out, are “powerful tools typically reserved for the most serious of human rights abusers.”

    • North Korea Warns ‘Gangster-Like’ Tactics of Bolton and Pompeo Undermining Nuclear Talks

      Two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un cut short their second summit with no agreement or clear path forward, a top North Korean official said on Friday the “gangster-like” behavior of Trump’s hawkish top officials helped derail the denuclearization negotiations.

      At a gathering of diplomats and foreign media in Pyongyang, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui expressed disappointment that the summit ended without a deal and threatened to suspend talks.

    • ‘Washington Doesn’t Like Countries to Have Influence if They Can’t Control Them’ – CounterSpin interviews on Venezuela with Chesa Boudin, Dan Beeton, Laura Carlsen, Mark Weisbrot, Miguel Tinker Salas and Alfredo Lopez

      Welcome to CounterSpin, your weekly look behind the headlines. I’m Janine Jackson. This week on CounterSpin: International opinion largely opposes Donald Trump’s current and threatened intervention in Venezuela. But that’s not the impression you get from US corporate news media, who appear to be all-in with Trump’s push for the ouster of democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro. (As far as we know, these media still firmly oppose any election-meddling in this country, especially by Donald Trump.)

      In reality, 75 percent of the world’s countries reject the US anointing of Juan Guaidó—whom most Venezuelans hadn’t heard of when Trump declared him their leader. And the UN has formally condemned US sanctions on Venezuela, which a special rapporteur compared to a “medieval siege.”

      Corporate media’s fealty to the idea that the United States has the right, if not the duty, to overthrow other countries’ leaders to suit our—or some of our—interests doesn’t begin and end with Venezuela. But the history of coverage of the country is especially illustrative of what it looks like when elite media work strenuously to maintain the storyline on an official enemy.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Rightward, Establishment Bias of Lazy Journalism

      I remember clearly the moment I’d had enough of NPR for the day. It was early morning January 25 of this year, still pretty dark outside. An NPR anchor was interviewing an NPR reporter — they seem to do that a lot these days — and asked the following simple but important question:

      “So if we know that Roger Stone was in communications with WikiLeaks and we know U.S. intelligence agencies have said WikiLeaks was operating at the behest of Russia, does that mean that Roger Stone has been now connected directly to Russia’s efforts to interfere in the U.S. election?”

      The factual answer, based on both data and logic, would have been “yes”. NPR, in fact, had spent much airtime covering this; for instance, a June 2018 story goes into detail about Stone’s interactions with WikiLeaks, and less than a week before Stone’s arrest, NPR referred to “internal emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted to Wikileaks.” In November of 2018, The Atlantic wrote, “Russia used WikiLeaks as a conduit — witting or unwitting — and WikiLeaks, in turn, appears to have been in touch with Trump allies.”

      Why, then, did the NPR reporter begin her answer with “well,” proceed to hedge, repeat denials from Stone and WikiLeaks, and then wind up saying “authorities seem to have some evidence” without directly answering the question? And what does this mean for bias in the media?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Disasters Don’t Discriminate, But Disaster Recovery Does

      Recently, I was driving home up highway 169 in Lee County, Alabama. Ten minutes after we passed a roadside business, it was destroyed by 170 mile-per-hour winds. Trees turned into missiles, and 23 lives were lost.

      This monster storm tracked through Beauregard and Smith’s Station, destroying nearly every home along a 24-mile path. Victims included three small children, 10 members of one African-American family, and Maggie Robinson, a nurse at the East Alabama Medical Center for 40 years.

      As the climate changes, deadly storms like the one that killed Maggie are more frequent. Rural areas suffer the most. When a storm hits a community like Beauregard, where many people live in mobile homes and at or below the poverty line, dozens can die in seconds.

      I’ve helped rural communities recover from natural disasters for two decades, and spent two years on the Gulf Coast helping rebuild from Hurricane Katrina.

      Once news cameras leave, rural people are left on their own. Drug abuse goes up, and so does domestic violence. We lost many people to suicide after Katrina. In Florida and Georgia, where Hurricane Michael did even more inland damage, people are still living in tents.

      Natural disasters don’t discriminate: they kill everyone. But disaster recovery, sadly, does discriminate: poor and rural communities quickly get forgotten.

      Big relief groups come in and take donations after disasters, leaving grassroots groups to do the hard work of recovery after they’re gone. In Hackleburg, Alabama, where an EF-5 tornado destroyed most of the town in 2011, a local youth ranch stepped up to the task.

    • US and Saudi Arabia Vote to Block UN Efforts at Climate Geoengineering Governance

      At the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, this week, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia blocked a push to gather information on potentially regulating climate geoengineering technologies. Switzerland, along with 11 other countries, including Micronesia, Senegal, and New Zealand, had submitted a draft resolution mandating a report on the state of research, risks, and possible governance options related to geoengineering efforts.

    • Global Climate Strike in Pictures: Millions of Students Walk Out to Demand Planetary Transformation

      All over the planet on Friday, millions of children and young adults walked out of their classrooms in an unprecedented collective action to demand a radical and urgent shift in society’s energy and economic systems in order to avert the worst impacts of human-caused global warming and climate change.

      With demonstrations in more than 100 countries and tens of thousands of schools, the worldwide Climate Strike is the largest since 16-year-old Greta Thunberg sparked a wave of increasingly huge marches and walkouts with her one-person strike outside the Swedish Parliament last year.

      Since then, Thunberg has admonished and appealed to world leaders at COP24 and Davos, successfully securing a commitment from the European Union to fight the climate crisis while inspiring strikes all over the world. European students began holding weekly walkouts in Brussels in December, while Australian, and German young people are among those who have organized strikes as well.

    • ‘No Grey Area When It Comes to Survival’: Youth-Led Global Climate Strikes Kick Off in 120+ Nations

      That was the message of the youth-led School Strike for Climate movement on Friday as hundreds of thousands of students across the globe walked out of class and flooded the streets to demand immediate action against the ecological crisis, which threatens to render the planet uninhabitable for future generations.

    • Keeping Civilian Drone Deaths Secret Keeps Them Going

      What’s behind Trump’s order reversing a transparency requirement to release information on civilian deaths?

      [...]

      Some in Congress reacted with alarm to Trump’s order, and Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) announced that he will seek to reimpose the transparency requirement with legislation. This is a necessary step but only an initial one, because this country desperately needs to reckon with and seek an end to the president’s claimed unilateral authority to kill terrorism suspects in parts of the world where we are not at war.

      Proponents argue that these airstrikes reduce risk to U.S. forces and keep the United States from being drawn into actual or worsening wars. But without public accountability about the costs and consequences of the program, we can’t take that at face value. Nor can we accept an equation that minimizes the deaths of civilians or ignores perspectives from people in affected countries.

      It’s encouraging that some former government officials and policymakers of both parties recognize that the U.S. lethal program is morally and legally fraught. Yet virtually all policy proposals to fix it start with a desire to maintain the president’s authority to order the killings, and they are always defined by counterterrorism, even though what’s happening on the ground is often domestic or regional conflicts unrelated to terrorism against the United States.

      When the U.S. drone program began with a 2002 strike in Yemen, it was supposed to be exceptional and limited, with “kill lists” targeting alleged high-level militants. But as lethal strikes expanded in intensity and geographic scope, so, too, did the categories of people who could be killed. Our government’s desire to maintain the option of lethal force resulted in more killings based on suspicion and without any judicial process. And the CIA essentially morphed into a paramilitary killing organization, without even the imperfect oversight that is in place for the military.

    • Geoffrey Cox’s New “Legal Advice” on Brexit Incentivises Unionist Violence

      Brexit has revealed further the rottenness of the British political Establishment, but I am still truly shocked now to see the Government of the United Kingdom negotiating a major international treaty on the acknowledged, discussed and now published basis that it has every intention of breaking that treaty once it is in force. Officially published by the Attorney General, no less.

      The Westminster Government’s contempt for international law was fully demonstrated just two weeks ago when it repudiated the International Court of Justice – an act which is the ultimate disavowal of the rule of international law – over the decolonisation of the Chagos Islands. So in one sense it is no shock that they are prepared to sign a treaty with no intention of honoring it.

      But what is quite astonishing is that the discussions with the DUP and ERG on how to sign up to the backstop and then dishonour it, have been carried out fully in public, and with the potential other party to the treaty looking on.

      I simply do not see how the EU can now sign the Withdrawal Agreement which was negotiated with May, when they have been given firm evidence that the UK intends to cheat on that Agreement.

    • On the Death of Guantanamo Detainee 10028

      Guantanamo detainee number ISN 10028, Haji Naseem (aka “Inayatullah”), resident of Cell E110 at Camp 6, was hearing “noises” in his head. It was his 18th month at the U.S. Navy-based prison in southeastern Cuba.

      Naseem had arrived at Guantanamo after three months imprisonment at Bagram Detention Center in Afghanistan. The date was a good one for propaganda purposes: September 11, 2007, the sixth anniversary of 9/11.

      By October he had been placed in one of Guantanamo’s more obscure settings, Camp Echo. The small complex of buildings was separate from the much larger Camp Delta, and held at most two dozen prisoners. It was known for harsh solitary confinement, and was said to consist of high-value prisoners headed for prosecution at the Bush Administration’s new Military Commissions. It may also have housed at one time a CIA black site.

      At the start, Guantanamo interrogators found their new prisoner “somewhat cooperative.” But within a few months, Naseem told interrogators that all the information he previously had provided had been a “lie.” Later, he would tell a psychiatrist provided by his defense attorney that he was coerced to cooperate with interrogators by threats to himself and his family, and because at Bagram he had been kept in a dark prison cell and subjected to sleep deprivation.

      Nonplussed, the interrogators told him, “cooperation was the only thing that is going to get [you] out of GTMO.”

    • With Today’s #ClimateStrike, Young Activists Seize the Narrative

      Thousands of students across the United States and world are expected to walk out of school today and demand that politicians take immediate action to thwart climate disruption and secure a livable future for younger generations.

      “We strike to bring attention to the millions of our generation who will most suffer the consequences of increased global temperatures, rising seas, and extreme weather,” organizers of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike wrote in a recent statement.

      The protest follows in the footsteps of a teenage climate activist from Sweden named Greta Thunberg and a mass walkout in the United Kingdom last month, when an estimated 10,000 students took to the streets with support from scientists, advocates and some politicians. With deadlines to avert the worst impacts of climate change looming, youth activists are using the wave of school strikes to seize the climate narrative from the fossil fuel industry and sparring adult politicians.

      Aditi Narayanan, a 16-year-old U.S. Youth Climate Strike organizer in Phoenix, Arizona, said a mass school strike is necessary to counter powerful interests promoting climate denialism and rally public support behind political agendas that are necessary for the survival of the planet.

    • Senate Votes to Overturn Trump’s Emergency Declaration to Fund Wildlife-Harming Border Wall

      The U.S. Senate voted 59 to 41 Thursday to overturn President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to fund a border wall that would threaten 93 endangered species and devastate the environment and communities of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

      The Senate vote comes a little over two weeks after a similar vote by the House of Representatives. Trump announced his intention to “VETO!” the resolution on Twitter Thursday, and Congress needs a two-thirds majority to override a veto, which is seen as unlikely. Nevertheless, the Senate vote will be seen as an embarrassment for the president, BBC News reported.

    • Our Green New Deal

      On Friday, February 22, 2019, Sunrise Bay Area, Youth Vs. Apocalypse and Earth Guardians Bay Area Crew gathered together for a rally held outside of Senator Feinstein’s office in San Francisco in an attempt to persuade her to vote yes on the Green New Deal.

      We attended the rally at Feinstein’s to show support and help in whatever ways we could as this movement is one that matters to us and our future– we hadn’t planned to talk with Feinstein directly. In spite of this, when the opportunity presented itself YVA and Earth Guardians accepted gladly and were more than excited when we learned that we would actually be allowed into her office to speak to her personally. For us at least, this excitement turned quickly into fear as our peers and Senator Feinstein began to converse.

      This fear was not because we felt that we were being “Taught a lesson” or “Told off”. It was because we could see ourselves talking to our future grandchildren about what breathable air used to be like. We could see workers in impoverished communities whose children’s lives depended on risking their own. We were afraid because, at that moment, we could see the world around us shrinking – becoming something small and unimportant, and with it so did we.

    • Green Party supports Youth Strike for Climate

      Hundreds of school children are set to gather in Parliament Square on Friday 15 March [1] as part of the global Youth Strike for the Climate movement, which will see children walk out of school across the world.

      Green co-leader Jonathan Bartley and London Assembly member Caroline Russell will join the strike.

      The movement was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist who went on school strike last August. Tens of thousands of children have since walked out of school in similar protests across the world.

      The Green Party has called on the Government to listen to the young people on strike and act on their demands – and has urged parents and teachers to support and celebrate children and young people who want to take civic action as part of the strike.

    • Students Globally Protest Warming, Pleading for Their Future

      Students across a warming globe pleaded for their lives, future and planet Friday, demanding tough action on climate change.

      From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, angry students in more than 100 countries walked out of classes to protest what they see as the failures by their governments.

      Well more than 150,000 students and adults who were mobilized by word of mouth and social media protested in Europe, according to police estimates. But the initial turnout in the United States did not look quite as high.

      “Borders, languages and religions do not separate us,” eight-year-old Havana Chapman-Edwards, who calls herself the tiny diplomat, told hundreds of protesters at the U.S. Capitol. “Today we are telling the truth and we do not take no for an answer.”

      The coordinated “school strikes” were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year.

    • “Maria! Maria! It Was Maria That Destroyed Us!” The Human Story

      Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017. One and a half years later, many of the island’s more than 3 million U.S. citizens continue to be forgotten and ignored by the federal government.

      Earlier this year, Stan Cox and I stayed in the Sierra Brava neighborhood of Salinas, Puerto Rico for three weeks. We spent part of that time documenting the post-Maria situation there.

    • Who’s Behind Trump’s Claim the Green New Deal Will Cost $100 Trillion?

      President Trump’s claim that the Green New Deal would cost $100 trillion can be traced back to the Manhattan Institute, a think tank backed by fossil fuel investor Paul Singer and companies like ExxonMobil.

      Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey made waves at a press conference in February when they rolled out a Green New Deal resolution that called for the nation to transition to 100 percent clean energy in ten years.

      Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the New York-based Manhattan Institute, attempted to “cost out the Green New Deal” in a Twitter thread the next day. Riedl admitted he had “No idea” how much things like “Installing renewable energy everywhere” would cost.

    • Trump Taps Climate Denier to Lead a Secret White House Climate Panel

      Emeritus Professor of Physics at Princeton University and well-known climate science denier William Happer will lead the Presidential Committee on Climate Security, the Washington Post has reported. Happer, a National Security Council senior director since last September, and his panel will “assess whether climate change poses a national security threat,” according to documents obtained by the Washington Post.

      Happer is a well-regarded researcher in the field of atomic physics and adaptive optics, but has no formal training in climate science. Happer’s name is notorious among climate scientists and environmentalists for his staunch denial of climate change and the science supporting it.

    • Midwest Flooding Closes Stretches of Major River, Interstate

      Flooding in the central U.S. on Friday forced some residents along waterways to evacuate, threatened to temporarily close a nuclear power plant and closed stretches of a major river and an interstate highway, foreshadowing a difficult spring flooding season.

      The high water prompted by a massive late-winter storm, pushed some waterways to record levels in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. The flooding was the worst in nearly a decade in places, though the situation was expected to improve quickly over the weekend, according to Mike Gillispie, National Weather Service hydrologist in Sioux Falls.

      Flooding remained a big concern in the lower Missouri River region — which is a major source for the Mississippi River — with the weather service issuing warnings of high water along the river and its tributaries from southeastern South Dakota to St. Louis in Missouri.

    • Dahr Jamail: Climate Change Has Already Happened
    • How to Inspire a Renaissance in Natural History and the Science of Conservation

      Naturalists are quintessential parts of the countryside. With interests ranging from fossils to fungi, birds to buttercups, they’re the custodians of the living world. If a threatened plant declines or an invasive insect appears, more often than not it’s a humble naturalist who’s the first to sound a warning. In many ways they’re the front line in our battle to protect the natural world.

      So what would happen if the naturalists themselves became an endangered species?

      Sadly it’s already happening. In today’s world a large percentage of elderly naturalists are retiring and quickly vanishing from our wild places. Many academic biologists have lamented the decline of naturalists and taxonomists, with warnings from as far back as 20 years about the need to encourage future naturalists to enter the profession.

      Their heirs apparent are a younger generation, many of whom are becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world. A striking study in the journal Science found that school-age children could identify 80 percent of the Pokémon shown to them, while they only recognized 50 percent of local wildlife species.

    • Riding the Wild Bull of Nuclear Power

      The violence and hatred of WWII fueled and speeded the development of the atomic bomb. But why drop such a hideous weapon over Japan and, just as bad, create another giant monstrosity dubbed nuclear bomb?

      Nuclear experts say any nuclear war would doomed humanity. Exploding nuclear weapons would darkened the Sun, triggering global winter and famine. Humans, and probably most other life forms, would become extinct.

      There are thousands of nuclear weapons in the world — the vast majority in the armories of the United States, Russia and China, lesser amounts in the UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

      But why arming for apocalypse? Have world leaders and their advisers become barbarians?

      And why do we need to use nuclear fuel to boil water for steam for the production of electricity? Those nuclear bomb-like factories go by the deceptive name of nuclear power plants.

      Accidents bedevil both nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants. We have been extremely lucky so far. But with nuclear electricity factories, our luck seems to be less tenuous than that with the original monster of the nuclear bombs.

    • In Era of Aging Reactors, Nuclear Industry’s Push for Deregulation Sparks Warning of ‘Collision Course’ With Disaster

      Independent watchdogs are raising alarm about the nuclear power industry’s ongoing efforts to convince federal regulators to scale back safety inspections and limit what “lower-level” issues are reported to the public.

      The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)—an agency dominated by President Donald Trump’s appointees—is currently reviewing its enforcement policies and is set to put forth recommendations for updating the nationwide rules in June. As part of that process, it sought input from plant operators and industry groups.

      In September, one of those groups, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), outlined the industry’s wish list in a letter (pdf). Requests include shifting to more “self-assessments,” cutting back on public disclosures for problems at plants, and reducing the “burden of radiation-protection and emergency-preparedness inspections.”

    • New Orleans Student on Global Climate Strike: ‘I Wouldn’t Be Anywhere Else’

      On March 15 droves of students around the world walked out of school to protest politicians’ inaction on climate change, with approximately one million people participating in the strikes, according to organizers. From Sydney to Stockholm, students had planned more than 1,600 school strikes in over 100 countries, inspired by the weekly Friday climate protests of Swedish student Greta Thunberg.

      And in New Orleans, Louisiana, a small but resolute group of students and supporters gathered a few blocks from Lusher Middle and High School, on St. Charles Avenue, one of the city’s most famous thoroughfares, to confront their state’s heightened urgency to stop climate change or face losing the land they are standing on.

    • Uncertain futures warn world to act as one

      US scientists have peered ahead in more than five million ways, and they do not like the uncertain futures they see there. Unless the world collectively and in concert takes drastic steps to slow or halt global warming, generations to come face an intolerable prospect.

      And even if humans do switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, economise on resources and restore the world’s forests and grasslands, there is still no guarantee that disaster will not happen.

      That is because the outcome depends not just on the steps humans take now, but on one of the great, unresolved scientific questions: just how sensitive is climate to shifts in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

      If sensitivity is low, and humankind acts effectively and immediately, the future could be tolerable. But in a total of 5,200,000 computer-generated scenarios involving population growth, economic development, the role of carbon in the economy and the levels of climate sensitivity, this happens only relatively infrequently.

    • Thank you, Climate Strikers. Your Action Matters and Your Power Will Be Felt

      I want to say to all the climate strikers today: thank you so much for being unreasonable. That is, if reasonable means playing by the rules, and the rules are presumed to be guidelines for what is and is not possible, then you may be told that what you are asking for is impossible or unreasonable. Don’t listen. Don’t stop. Don’t let your dreams shrink by one inch. Don’t forget that this might be the day and the pivotal year when you rewrite what is possible.

      What climate activists are asking for is a profound change in all our energy systems, for leaving fossil fuel in the ground, for taking action adequate to the planet-scale crisis of climate change. And the rules we are so often reminded of by those who aren’t ready for change are not the real rules. Because one day last summer a 15-year-old girl sat down to stage a one-person climate strike, and a lot of adults would like to tell you that the rules say a 15-year-old girl cannot come out of nowhere, alone, and change the world.

      Sweden’s Greta Thunberg already has.

      They will tell you the rules are that those we see in the news and the parliaments and boardrooms hold all the power and you must be nice to them and perhaps they will give you crumbs, or the time of day, or just a door slammed in your face. They will tell you that things can only change in tiny increments by predictable means. They’re wrong. Sometimes you don’t have to ask for permission or for anything because you hold the power and you yourselves decide which way the door swings. Nothing is possible without action; almost anything is when we rise up together, as you are doing today.

    • SUNY Uses Taxpayer Dollars to Torture Kittens in Useless Experiments

      Documents reviewed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund show that since 2002, researchers at the State University of New York’s (SUNY) College of Optometry have been performing invasive, painful and expensive experiments on young cats and kittens. These experiments appear to be of little to no scientific value, and taxpayers have been footing the bill.

      What we have learned about these experiments, through public records and published research, is shocking. As Barbara Stagno, the president and executive director of Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research and Experimentation (CAARE), explained in testimony given to the House of Representatives in April 2018, cats and kittens between the ages of 4 and 12 months old are anesthetized, before having their heads secured into frames. Their eyes are forced open with contact lenses so their eye movements can be tracked. While the cats are still alive, parts of their skulls are removed and electrodes are inserted into their brains. The experiments can take hours or even days to complete.

      The stated purpose of these experiments is to learn about a cat’s visual cortex — the part of the cat’s brain that controls vision — with a goal of better understanding human vision disorders, particularly amblyopia, or “lazy eye.” Cats are often used in these types of experiments because they are relatively easy to keep in labs and their neurology has similarity to humans’, but cats receive less protection than some other animals used in experimentation, such as primates.

      However, our examination of available documents and published results leads us to the observation that the research has not yet produced much, if any, information useful for human medicine. In fact, the lead researcher said in a 2017 grant application that 30 years of research has only “started to reveal the principles underlying visual cortical topography and their possible functional implications.” In our view, this statement suggests that after three decades, the lead researcher believes these cat experiments are still in their early stages — which could mean many more cats being harmed, and taxpayers paying many millions more dollars.

    • Oceans Do Us a ‘Huge Service’ by Absorbing Nearly a Third of Global CO2 Emissions, but at What Cost?

      From wildfires to more extreme storms, the effects of climate change are already devastating communities around the globe. But the effects would be even worse if it weren’t for the oceans, new research has confirmed.

    • Think We Should Be at School? Today’s Climate Strike Is the Biggest Lesson of All

      It started in front of the Swedish parliament, on 20 August – a regular school day. Greta Thunberg sat with her painted sign and some homemade flyers. This was the first school climate strike. Fridays wouldn’t be regular schooldays any longer. The rest of us, and many more alongside us, picked it up in Australia, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, Uganda. Today the climate strike will take place all around the world.

      This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice. We knew there was a climate crisis. Not just because forests in Sweden or in the US had been on fire; because of alternating floods and drought in Germany and Australia; because of the collapse of alpine faces due to melting permafrost and other climate changes. We knew, because everything we read and watched screamed out to us that something was very wrong.

      That first day of refusing to go to school was spent alone, but since then a movement of climate strikers has swept the globe. Today young people in more than 100 countries will walk out of class to demand action on the greatest threat humankind has ever faced.

      These strikes are happening today – from Washington DC to Moscow, Tromsø to Invercargill, Beirut to Jerusalem, and Shanghai to Mumbai – because politicians have failed us. We’ve seen years of negotiations, pathetic deals on climate change, fossil fuel companies being given free rein to carve open our lands, drill beneath our soils and burn away our futures for their profit. We’ve seen fracking, deep sea drilling and coalmining continue. Politicians have known the truth about climate change and they’ve willingly handed over our future to profiteers whose search for quick cash threatens our very existence.

      This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice. Last year’s UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on global warming could not have been clearer about the extreme dangers of going beyond 1.5C of global warming. To have any chance of avoiding that extreme danger emissions must drop rapidly – so that by the time we will be in our mid- and late-20s we are living in a transformed world.

    • New Study Calls for ‘Immediate Action’ on Climate Crisis

      US scientists have peered ahead in more than five million ways, and they do not like the uncertain futures they see there. Unless the world collectively and in concert takes drastic steps to slow or halt global warming, generations to come face an intolerable prospect.

      And even if humans do switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, economise on resources and restore the world’s forests and grasslands, there is still no guarantee that disaster will not happen.

      That is because the outcome depends not just on the steps humans take now, but on one of the great, unresolved scientific questions: just how sensitive is climate to shifts in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

      If sensitivity is low, and humankind acts effectively and immediately, the future could be tolerable. But in a total of 5,200,000 computer-generated scenarios involving population growth, economic development, the role of carbon in the economy and the levels of climate sensitivity, this happens only relatively infrequently.

  • Finance

    • Who’s Afraid of Public Schools?

      Public schools are the bogeymen of American life.

      We so often hear the bedtime story of “Failing Schools” that it’s no wonder some folks will do anything to ensure their kids get in elsewhere.

      And let’s be honest. It’s the same impulse behind the latest college admissions cheating scandal.

      A group of wealthy – though not too wealthy – parents thought their children should be able to enroll in the most prestigious schools.

      So they bribed college admissions officers, cheated on standardized tests or paid coaches or other officials to accept their children as college athletes even if their kids had never played the sport.

      We see the same kind of thing everyday in public schools – a confederacy of white parents terrified that their kids might have to go to class with black kids. So they dip into their stock portfolios to pay for enrollment at a private or parochial school.

    • Unions Can Take on International Fights—and Win

      After nine days of picketing in below freezing temperatures, striking workers in Erie, Pennsylvania returned to work recently under a 90-day agreement.

      The 1,700 strong United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) strike quickly drew national attention. Senator Bernie Sanders declared his support for the union and even invited the president of the local to speak at his campaign rally. As “the first major U.S. manufacturing strike of the Trump era,” according to The Nation, Erie brought renewed focus to the struggles of American industrial workers who have faced job loss, wage stagnation, and weakened bargaining power as a result of corporate globalization.

      But Erie isn’t just a reminder of the problem. It also points us toward the solution.

      For decades, UE has been a leading example of global labor solidarity. The union’s commitment to internationalism offers our greatest hope for an alternative to the existing global system.

      Since the 1980s, policymakers and the corporate interests that they represent have designed a globalized world that places profit before people and planet. This “neoliberal” global system allows capital, but not people, to move freely across borders. Because corporations can shop around for the most exploitable labor and environmental conditions, countries desperate for investment are pitted against one another in a global “race to the bottom.”

    • Want Your Kids to Make it Big in the World of Elite Education in the U.S.?

      Ever wonder how dangerous nincompoops like Donald Trump and George W. Bush were admitted to, and graduated from, so-called good schools? Forget the legacy shtick and pay close attention to the latest celebrity and wealthy individuals’ scheme that involved about 50 people (of whom 33 were parents of students) who allegedly encouraged and facilitated the most nefarious and fraudulent means to get kids into schools like Stanford and Yale.

    • [Old] Microsoft Corp Lobbying by Industry

      A special interest’s lobbying activity may go up or down over time, depending on how much attention the federal government is giving their issues. Particularly active clients often retain multiple lobbying firms, each with a team of lobbyists, to press their case for them.

    • Outdated technology frustrates Australian workers: report

      Australian employees grow increasingly frustrated with workplaces that expect them to work with outdated, slow and complex technology, according to one analyst firm which says organisations must find a way to address the needs of modern workers.

    • Leaked email reveals Elon Musk must approve every person Tesla hires

      Tesla has undergone multiple rounds of layoffs in the past year. The automaker followed a 9% workforce reduction in June with a 7% cut in January and what CNBC reported was an 8% layoff in March. (A Tesla representative told Business Insider the figure reported by CNBC was incorrect, but it did not specify the size of the reduction.) Electrek reported on Tuesday that Tesla made cuts to its recruiting division.

      Musk suggested in a June email to employees that the automaker would never again have to initiate another round of layoffs.

    • India’s Agrarian Crisis: Dismantling ‘Development’

      In his 1978 book ‘India Mortgaged’, T.N. Reddy predicted the country would one day open all sectors to foreign direct investment and surrender economic sovereignty to imperialist powers.

      Today, the US and Europe cling to a moribund form of capitalism and have used various mechanisms to bolster the system in the face of economic stagnation and massive inequalities: the raiding of public budgets, the expansion of credit to consumers and governments to sustain spending and consumption, financial speculation and increased militarism. Via ‘globalisation’, Western powers have also been on an unrelenting drive to plunder what they regard as ‘untapped markets’ in other areas of the globe.

      Agricapital has been moving in on Indian food and agriculture for some time. But India is an agrarian-based country underpinned by smallholder agriculture and decentralised food processing. Foreign capital therefore first needs to displace the current model before bringing India’s food and agriculture sector under its control. And this is precisely what is happening.

      Western agribusiness is shaping the ‘development’ agenda in India. Over 300,000 farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GMO) cash crops and economic liberalisation.

    • Why Are We Still Sycophants?

      Bill Hicks had a joke. He said he hates how bosses tell him to look busy. -You make more than I do, why can’t you pretend I’m working?

      [...]

      It makes sense, ‘pretending’ is basic to capitalism. Marx explains it within the first pages of Kapital, and I’ve yet to hear a disproof. Pretend and you have a commodity. Pretend enough and you have a regime. But as with all regimes, coalescing power and retaining it beg very different legitimizations.

      Thus, all manner of bosses, from enlightened billionaires to ‘resistance’ Democrats still demand the same submissive leap of faith as Hick’s front-desk manager. But now, instead of us miming away the hours, we’re to pretend they and it are working.

      Think, China lends to us with the tacit condition that we’ll waste it on non-durable goods, instead of repaying our debt. Towns bear their throat to Amazon and Walmart, to create a few hundred jobs, knowing full-well it will cost more than it nets. Industries are consumed by mergers and acquisitions that reduce jobs, output, and typically cost more than they earn. There are reasons, you need a minimum 3% growth per year for a stable economy, so say economists. And I suppose pretending is one way to get it. But it’s just for the sake of -more capitalism.

    • Millions of Farmers Could Turn the Tide Against India’s Right-Wing Regime

      Rural farmers in India, since the early 1990s, have had very limited access to credit from the country’s banks, a major problem for a livelihood that is cyclical and prone to a range of environmental setbacks. Without public-sector bank loans to depend on, small farmers were forced to turn to predatory informal lenders who charge annual interests of up to 60 percent.

      Under the BJP government, economic conditions for Indian farmers have worsened due to rising input prices, weak government support systems, climate change–induced crop failures, declining commodity prices and stagnant farm incomes, forcing ma

    • In Praise of Budget Deficits

      Even better, we could have used to money to promote clean energy, retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient, and subsidizing mass transit. Our children have much more to fear from a wrecked environment than government debt.

      In any case, the debt/deficit whiners should acknowledge the substantial economic gains from stimulating the economy with a larger deficit. It is a really big deal for a large number of people at the middle and bottom of the income distribution.

    • Banking, Wells Fargo-Style

      Herewith an update on the arcane world of banking as practiced by Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank in the United States.

      The update is prompted by a story about the bank in the New York Times on March 9, 2019, and by an appearance by Timothy Sloan, the bank’s president, before the House Financial Services Committee, on March 12, 2019.

      The unfavorable publicity is not new, nor are the bank practices that are, to its critics, like honey to flies. Its previous bad practices have been widely reported. Their continued practices, although transmogrified, continue to be bad practices.

      In 2016, we learned that the bank had opened more than 3.4 million fake accounts for customers, in order to meet sales goals. We learned that individuals who received car loans from the bank, were sold car insurance when the loans were made, whether or not it was needed by the borrower. The Wall Street Journal reported that the bank’s employees had overcharged customers for foreign exchange fees transactions.

      The bad practices did not go unrewarded, although the bad practices were on a two-way street. On the positive side, from the bank’s perspective, the bank and the complicit employees, generated lots of revenue from the fraudulent practices. On the negative side the bank paid state and federal fines and penalties of $1.5 billion. In addition, it paid $620 million to settle the claims made against it by defrauded customers. It also apologized for the fact that it had charged 570,000 customers who took out auto loans with the bank, for auto insurance they didn’t need.

    • A President for Nationalizing Major Industries? Please Can We Have ‘76 Bernie for 2020

      On the same day moderate Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke declared his candidacy for president, CNN published an exclusive report: Bernie Sanders in the 1970s urged nationalization of most major industries.

      “I favor the public ownership of utilities, banks and major industries,” Sen. Sanders told the Burlington Free Press in 1976, according to CNN. “We need public control over capital; and the capital must be put to use for public need, not for the advancement of those who made the investments.”

    • Diane Archer on Medicare for All

      This week on CounterSpin: As a report from the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website noted recently, pharmaceutical manufacturers and health insurance companies have a lot of points of disagreement these days—about who’s mainly to blame for high drug prices, for instance. But they agree on something: Medicare for All cannot become law.

      Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), a coalition of drugmakers, insurance companies and private hospitals, is lobbying hard to sink the popular proposal, recently introduced in the House by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D.-Wash.). The coalition has such powerhouses as the AMA and Blue Cross/Blue Shield on its side, and spent some $143 million in lobbying in 2018 alone. On the other side: the growing majority of Americans who think a wealthy country can do better than forcing people to choose between buying insulin and paying rent.

    • All the Livelong Day

      1894 was a wild year in the United States. Robber barons and the sycophantic politicians they controlled worked overtime to maintain and expand their empires of capital. Their practices and greed had helped create a recession that left millions of working people struggling to keep shelter and food for their families. The response of most of the capitalist class was to reduce workers’ wages. Labor organizers were afraid to push back too hard for fear of losing the few gains they had achieved when the economy was more flush.

      One industry stood above the rest. One industry wielded more power than any of the others. That industry was the railroads. Congress passed legislation granting them land and right of way through territories already settled by the white man and territories still being stolen from the original inhabitants. Laws were passed to facilitate the railroads’ profit margin and to lessen competition. Corruption, greed and blood defined the industry. Capitalists in other associated and non-associated enterprises took cues from the captains of the rails.

      One man in particular understood the nature of the business. His name was George W. Pullman. His business made sleeping cars. Luxurious to travel in, the cars were the standard to attain in passenger rail travel. Extra springs assured a smoother ride and a comfortable sleep. Porters were specially trained to serve the needs of passengers in these cars. Virtually every train line used Pullman’s cars. His monopoly was almost complete.

    • After Week-Long Strike, Oakland Teachers’ Contract Falls Short

      Facing a pro-charter school board intent on closing or consolidating 24 schools in the next five years, presumably to replace some with private for-profit charters, 3000 teachers represented by the Oakland Education Association (OEA) began a district-wide strike on Feb. 21. On the seventh day of the strike, March 1, a tentative agreement was reached, which teachers ratified at a March 3 meeting.

      Poor-mouthing Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) officials insisted during the months of futile negotiations and fact-finding before the strike that their proposed one percent pay increase over four years was all that the district could afford.

      Soon after the strike began, however, the board upped its offer to 8.5 percent over four years. OEA negotiators still said, “No!”

      Teachers won an 11 percent across-the-board salary raise over four years plus an additional three percent one-time bonus upon ratification. But the 11 percent is to be staggered in annual and semi-annual increments over the course of the contract—3 percent the first year, followed by 2 percent the second, and 2.5 and 3.5 percent added to the salary schedule in the middle of and at the end of the final year.

    • In Salinas, Puerto Rico, Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria

      Nearly a year and a half after Hurricane Maria, about three-fourths of the houses in the Sierra Brava neighborhood of Salinas, Puerto Rico stand battered and empty.

      Some families left because their homes were rendered uninhabitable and they had no money to fix them. Others left because they lost their jobs. In responding to Maria, federal agencies had hired some local people, but just for a few months; meanwhile, many other jobs disappeared and have not come back.

      Sierra Brava lies low along the south side of PR Route 3 in the shadow of Salinas City Hall. Go for a walk through its now largely silent streets, and one residence in particular will catch your eye. On a corner along Calle Abraham Peña, the neighborhood’s four-block-long main avenue, stands a small grey house trimmed in bright blue and topped by a blue plastic tarp. It is in even worse shape than some of the abandoned houses. But Wilma Miranda Ramos still calls it home.

      The hurricane shifted Wilma’s ramshackle little box on its foundation, separating the front and rear halves and giving it a distinct sideways tilt. Thanks to waters that flooded down the nearby Río Nigua from the mountains on the day of the storm, the floors now undulate wildly and give underfoot. Large portions of the ceiling are gone, and blue light streams in through the tarp above. Water pours in with every rainfall.

      Wilma explained that she’d been living there six years, but because the house was not hers, she could get no help with repairs. “Now I have a stitched-together roof,” she said, “but as I have nowhere to go I’m still here. Staying here in these conditions is not easy. But since I have my daughter and grandson of four years here with me, living here and not in the street is worth gold.”

    • Debunking Billionaire Claims of Heroic Capitalism

      In the future, people will probably continue to marvel at how creatures with tiny brains once stalked the Earth unchallenged.

      For now, however, billionaires reign supreme, with only a small stirring of dissent, led by the impressive U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC.

      Still, that small stirring is noteworthy. It could catch on.

      The notion that it is somehow legitimate for a tiny group of humans to cordon off the bulk of the world’s bounty for themselves — leaving billions of people begging on the street or scrounging through garbage dumps — is fairly astonishing, on the face of it.

      The unfairness is compounded by the fact there’s no evidence billionaires are particularly smart or talented, given that some 60 to 70 per cent of them inherited their wealth, according to the French economist Thomas Piketty.

      Today’s extreme concentration of wealth is so palpably unfair — the richest 26 individuals have as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity — that it cries out for a powerful justification.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How Google Influences the Conversation in Washington

      Still, the email offers insight into how Google, a shrewd Washington player, has shifted into overdrive and adapted its approach as calls to regulate Big Tech have grown louder.

    • Kentucky Legislature Passes Bill Stripping Grimes of Authority Over State Board of Elections

      The Kentucky legislature passed a bill on Thursday that strips Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes of her authority over the State Board of Elections, restructures the SBE and makes misusing the voter registration system a misdemeanor crime.

      The bill takes multiple steps to scale back the level of control Grimes has asserted over the SBE in recent years, including removing the secretary of state as the chair of the board. The secretary will become a nonvoting member of the board, and the board will now include two former county clerks — one from each party.

      The bill now awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

      ProPublica and the Lexington Herald-Leader published stories this year detailing the secretary of state’s office’s use of the voter registration system to look up information on political rivals, as well as the range of misconduct allegations against Grimes being explored by state investigators.

    • The Media-Created Front Runners

      This writer makes it a habit to review CNN daily. Not because he expects responsible news reporting there, but because that particular outlet seems to provide a good overview of what the corporate-owned, government-supporting media wants the general public to know and care about. This past week, he saw the news that former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are leading in public opinion polls in the (bizarrely) crucial state of Iowa, whose caucuses will actually occur in less than one year (February 3, 2020).

      Has it really come to this? Are the Democrats in the Hawkeye state really excited about two, old (76 and 77, respectively), white men? With all the talk about Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and other progressive or pseudo-progressive candidates taking center stage, are Sanders and Biden really seen as dynamic agents of change?

      There seems to be a belief within the Democratic hierarchy that as long as a living, breathing, sentient being is nominated, the current occupant of the White House, the clown-like but very dangerous Donald Trump, will be sent back to reality TV-land from whence he came. This is the same thinking that brought Hillary Clinton to the party’s nomination in 2016: a fairly popular (don’t get this writer started on that topic) Democratic president was leaving office, and a repugnant, ignorant, ill-informed, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, egotistical, narcissistic blowhard was to be the GOP standard-bearer. Surely, anyone could defeat him. Of course, that upstart Bernie Sanders had to be thwarted, along with millions of idealistic younger people who had piles of enthusiasm but not of cash, and in the world of electoral politics, the latter is all that matters. So, the party sabotaged him through the use of the ‘Super Delegates’ rule (there is little that is less democratic than that rule), and through Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s dishonest machinations.

    • Worry About the Old, Not the Rich, HuffPost Tells Readers

      The piece is more than a bit confused, but its headline explicitly gives the intention: “America’s Defining Divide Is Not Left vs. Right. It’s Old vs. Young.” Beyond this basic point—as in, worry about age, not class—it is difficult to figure out what the article is talking about.

      The subhead tells readers, “voters over retirement age will continue to dominate US politics until at least 2060.” This might lead us to believe that the piece is talking older voters generically, as in people over age 65 or age 62, but then much of the discussion focuses on the baby boomers. By 2060, the youngest baby boomer will be age 96 and the oldest will be 114. It doesn’t seem plausible that the survivors among this group will be dominating politics. Most of the baby boomers will have died off by 2040, and their influence will be radically diminished by 2030.

    • On Our Knees

      I have been wrong at CounterPunch 26.5 times. One example: writing that Hillary Clinton would win in 2016. After the election of Donald Trump, plenty of you emailed, chastising me for the mistake. Occasionally, and for a split second only, I wish Clinton had won. More on this later.

      Recall another Donald now: Rumsfeld. Then remember when this particular D famously said, “You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might wish to have or want.”

      Well, you go to the voting booth with the candidate you have, not the candidate you might wish to have or want.

      As business types and politicians announce their aspirations, I don’t see anyone… Wait, what’s that word so many used to describe Obama? Transformational. No, there is no one who would transform foreign and domestic policy enough to remove us from the brink of many precipices—the most urgent of which is extinction.

      Did you believe in Obama? Did you think he’d address climate change in any meaningful way to heal our oceans, our soil, our atmosphere? Did you believe he’d hold George W Bush accountable for war crimes? Or like me, did you know as soon as he said he was opposed only to dumb and rash wars and when he tapped Joe Biden as his running mate, that same Joe Biden who said you don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist, that an Obama presidency would continue the craven Bush agenda?

      That same Joe Biden who’s polling higher than anyone else who’s inflicted himself/herself on our consciousness and conscience. Dear God, I shake my head with no, no, no, no, and at the risk of being accused of ageism, I say, “Biden is too old.” So is Sanders, so is Trump, and so is Hillary Clinton—and yes, she has threatened to enter the field if the Democrats move too far to the left.

    • A Landscape Lewis and Clark Would Recognize is Under Threat

      The Northern Rockies are surely near the top of the list of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. Its ranges contain one of the last great expanses of biodiversity left in the continental United States, including most of the species that were there when Lewis and Clark first passed through in 1805 on their journey of discovery.

      These attributes alone would be reason enough to protect this region. Instead, the Trump administration has been pushing oil, gas, mining, and logging projects, and removing legal protections from threatened species. To be fair, the Obama administration also pursued some of those actions. But the current administration’s zealotry threatens the region’s wild landscape and rich biodiversity. It’s up to all of us who care about the environment, science and preserving wild places for our children to resist such efforts.

      Legislation recently introduced in the House would protect a vast swath of this region. But until that law is enacted, we’ll have to rely on the judiciary. Along with other organizations and Indian tribes in the Northern Rockies, our group, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, has been fighting threats to the region in court. Fortunately, this past year has brought some encouraging news. But the court system alone will not provide the protection this area needs and deserves.

    • The Democratrepublican’s Carnivorial Tent

      There is one political party which is allowed to operate in the ever-moving, privately owned, carnivorial tent known as the “republic” of the United States of America. This operation has no allegiance to any geographic or spiritual location. Any and all locations are seen primarily as possible sources of monetary income and incoming money is the justifier (sic) and instigator of any deception which is deemed necessary at any given time. Yes, the chief method employed has always involved getting the suckers to fall for the pretense that there is something especially “exceptional” about each and every physical location or supposed spiritual intent where the numerous barkers in the carnivorial tent position themselves to distract the suckers from the fact that the predatory drive for pilfering private profits will leave every location more debased and more toxic when the barkers and their enthused crowds “move on.”

      The chief barker within the tent today is Donald Trump. It is widely and wildly insisted that he is the most “exceptional” example of every trait of barkerisms. To a large portion of the population, he is the personification of everything “exceptional”ly bad and to another massive number of the population he is the personification of “exceptional” human possibilities under the shared democratrepublican capitalist carnivorial tent.

      The tent which covers operations is maintained through mandatory fees which are imposed globally. It is the desire to get under the cover of the tent which unites the crowds. Everyone pays extra to be within the tent. The tent provide a restrictive cover for the intense feelings of insecurity and is designed to keep everyone’s attention focussed of the possibility of making a private monetary killing. Making a killing is believed to be the highest form of liberty. Whoops of joy at winning and accusations of fraudulent scheming in a rigged game erupt consistently from within the tent as the tent shifts and swaggers over the rotting bodies of the inevitable victims who fall under the manipulated movements of the crowded suckers who are desperately maneuvering to be in close proximity to the manipulative power of the barkers. Optimism is mandatory while doubts and suspicions are grounds for removal.

    • Southern Progressives Focus on Electoral Justice, Not Democratic Party

      For more than 85 years, the Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee has been leading the fight for social, racial and economic justice. Co-executive directors of the Highlander Center, Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson and Reverend Allyn Maxfield-Steele, recently appeared on my show to discuss Southern organizing efforts around the 2018 midterms, why Black women were so integral to what the media termed a “blue wave,” and the importance of rural ownership of internet infrastructure.

    • Don’t Let Mueller Restore Your Faith in the FBI

      The FBI has been under non-stop assault since the election of 2016 — first by Democrats who decried its eleventh-hour decision to restart the Clinton email investigation, then by Donald Trump with his firing of James Comey. The Bureau is currently portrayed in the mainstream media as a friend of justice, suggesting an image rehabilitation after its lawlessness was exposed in the mid-1970s. Already, we have witnessed Comey and Andrew McCabe — who oversaw the FBI in the critical period of 9/11 to 2018 — painted as brave truth-tellers, instead of the repressive law enforcement agents they were. One can anticipate more of this, especially with the prospect of release of Robert Mueller’s report.

      Who are these people presented to us as heroes? And who will a re-legitimating of the FBI benefit?

    • Lots of F’s for These D’s: Report Card Shows Majority of Senate Democrats Aiding Trump’s Right-Wing Court Takeover

      According to Demand Justice, a progressive advocacy group that focuses on the federal judiciary, a majority of Senate Democrats voted to confirm Trump’s judges 60 percent of the time or more in 2017 and 2018.

      As a result, more than a third of Senate Democrats received either a D or an F grade in the new report card, which examined votes on Trump’s Supreme Court, district court, and circuit court nominees.

      “Senators can condemn Trump until they’re blue in the face, but actions speak louder than words, and when it comes to judges, too many Democrats vote too often with Trump,” Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, said in a statement. “A disappointing number of Democrats have buried their heads in the sand and helped Trump and Mitch McConnell to pack the courts with judges representing the far-right fringe of the country.”

      The report card graded Democrats using several metrics, including votes to confirm Trump’s nominees and votes to advance judges by invoking cloture. Senators were also penalized if they returned a “blue slip”—an expression of approval—for judges in their home states.

      Due to their frequent votes to advance and confirm Trump’s nominees, Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Tom Carper (Del.), Mark Warner (Va.), and Michael Bennet (Colo.) all received F grades from Demand Justice.

    • In ‘Breakthrough’ for Labor Rights, Sanders Campaign Becomes First Presidential Campaign to Formally Unionize

      Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Saturday that his support for his 2020 campaign staff’s decision to unionize demonstrated his commitment to fighting for workers’ rights. Sanders’ Friday announcement made his presidential campaign the first in history to recognize a unionized workforce.

      The progressive senator has been a vocal supporter of the Fight for $15 movement; teachers in cities across the country who have staged walkouts to demand fair pay; and other labor campaigns. His support for a unionized campaign staff was presented as an extension of that work as well as a signal of the policies he will promote should he win the presidency.

      “We cannot just support unions with words, we must back it up with actions,” Sanders said. “On this campaign and when we are in the White House, we are going to make it easier for people to join unions, not harder.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • People Are Getting Busted For Committing Freedom Of Speech, Which Is Not A Good Sign

      For the first time, Capitol Police have arrested an activist for the crime of projecting a political message on a Congressional Building, one of many defiant dispatches over the years by Robin Bell of Bell Visuals. Since Trump’s election, Bell has flung fighting words and images at a range of high-profile D.C. buildings, often working in partnership with non-profits advocating for the same causes: “BRETT KAVANAUGH IS A SEXUAL PREDATOR” with UltraViolet, “I STAND WITH PUERTO RICO” with Amnesty International, “END FAMILY DETENTION” with MoveOn, “TRANSGENDER PEOPLE WON’T BE ERASED” with trans rights groups, and at Trump’s D.C. Hotel with Global Witness, “U.S. FOREIGN POLICY BOUGHT AND SOLD HERE,” complete with helpful arrow at the entrance. The hotel is Bell’s most frequent target: He’s graced it with “FELONS WORK HERE,” “PAY TRUMP BRIBES HERE,” “EXPERTS AGREE: TRUMP IS A PIG,” and “THIS PLACE IS A SHITHOLE.” He’s also projected an image of Jamal Khashoggi atop the First Amendment at D.C.’s Newseum, and at the Helsinki summit, “BRING THE PERPETRATORS TO JUSTICE.”

    • Valve making steps to address ‘off-topic review bombs’ on Steam

      In a blog post today, Valve announced a pretty simple change to the way Steam games get a review score, to help with review bombing.

      What is Review Bombing? To put it simply, tons of users going to a Steam page and leaving a negative review that’s not always to do with the actual game in question. It’s been something of a hot topic, since it became a tool for users to show their feelings about various things, most of the time something directed at the developer or publisher.

      A recent example, would be how the Metro games on Steam got waves of negative reviews when Metro Exodus was announced as a timed-exclusive on the Epic Store.

    • Anti-terrorism Censorship : Second Setback at the European Parliament

      In the European Parliament, the two committees that were asked for an opinion on the terrorist content Regulation have now both published their proposition of amendments. Sadly, just like the opinion of the IMCO Committee last week, the opinion of the CULT Committee brings no real progress from the freedom-destroying proposal of the EU Commission.

      Read our dossier on this Regulation.

      Yet, the rapporteure for the CULT Committee, Julie Ward (UK, S&D), begins the opinion by explaining the threats of this text, which we have been stressing for months now: the one-hour delay in which the police can impose any service provider to remove a content it considered as “terrorist”, the elimination of the role of the judicial authority, the possibility for the police to impose proactive measures to hosting service providers (in particular automatic filters), the huge financial penalties for all the actors of the Internet that will not respect these obligations…

      But almost none of these concerns are materialised in the final text adopted on Monday by the Committee. On the contrary.

    • Ninth Circuit Tells Online Services: Section 230 Isn’t For You

      Last year we wrote about Homeaway and Airbnb’s challenge to an ordinance in Santa Monica that would force them to monitor their Santa Monica listings to ensure they were legally compliant. The Santa Monica ordinance, like an increasing number of ordinances around the country, requires landlords wanting to list their properties on these services to register with the city and meet various other requirements. That part of the ordinance is not what causes concern, however. It may or may not be good local policy, but it in no way undermines Section 230′s crucial statutory protection for platforms for Santa Monica officials to attempt to hold their landlord users liable if they go online to say they have a non-compliant rental listing.

      The problem with the ordinance is that it does not just impose liability on landlords. It also imposes liability on the platforms hosting their listings. The only way for them to avoid that liability is to engage in the onerous, if not outright impossible, task of scrutinizing whether or not the listings on their platforms are legal. Which is exactly what Section 230 exists to prevent: forcing platforms to monitor their users’ speech for legality, because if they had to police them, they would end up facilitating a lot less legitimate speech.

    • Anonymous Telegram channel apologizes for insulting mayor in Ingushetia after he vows to ‘find and punish’ them

      The anonymous Telegram channel 338 has issued a public apology to Magas Mayor Beslan Tsechoev, who recently vowed to “find and punish” the channel’s authors for a post that he deems insulting.

      In a post on Friday, 338 said its March 13 comments about Tsechoev were “unfounded” and expressed irresponsibly. The individual who wrote the offending post is apparently no longer an administrator for the channel.

      “We deeply regret that our team permitted this, insulting someone, his colleagues, friends, and family. We failed to review this situation in a timely manner, lost track, and didn’t catch it,” 338 said in a statement.

    • Local official in Krasnodar is charged with breaking the law because he shared a picture created by Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s news outlet

      State prosecutors in the Krasnodar region have opened an administrative case against a district council member in Yeysk over an image he shared on Facebook. Alexander Korovainy is accused of “carrying out the activities of an outlawed undesirable organization” because he reposted an image created by the website MBKh Media, a news project launched by former oil tycoon, now self-styled dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

      According to the website Golos Kubani, Korovainy shared an image based on the “10-Year Challenge” (a fad that recently swept the Internet, where individuals shared photos of themselves in 2009 and 2019, typically to showcase how well or poorly they’ve endured the last decade). MBKh Media’s spin on the meme highlights how Russia’s currency has depreciated and consumer goods have become more expensive.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Appeals Court: Stored Communications Act Privacy Protections Cover Opened And Read Emails

      The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has handed down an important decision [PDF] bolstering privacy protections for stored email. As we’re painfully aware, unopened email older than 180 days is granted zero privacy protections, treated like unopened snail mail left at the post office. Opened email, on the other hand, would seem to carry an expectation of privacy, but a district court ruling came to exactly the opposite conclusion, prompting this appeal.

    • Why the Debate Over Privacy Can’t Rely on Tech Giants

      Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal last summer, consumer data privacy has been a hot topic in Congress. The witness table has been dominated by the biggest platforms, with those in lockstep with the tech giants earning the vast majority of attention. However, this week marked the first time that opposing views had a chance to fight back. The Senate Judiciary committee held a hearing called GDPR & CCPA: Opt-ins, Consumer Control, and the Impact on Competition and Innovation, and unlike previous hearings, this hearing featured two groups of panelists with contradictory viewpoints.

      While we still call for a panel that puts consumer advocates and tech giants at the same table to discuss consumer privacy, we appreciate that Judiciary Chair Sen. Lindsey Graham included representatives from DuckDuckGo and Mapbox to discuss how they are able to run successful businesses while also respecting user privacy. It’s clear after this hearing that companies who deliberately over-collect data and sidestep user privacy are making a business choice, and they could choose to operate differently.

    • 3 reasons data hoarding may not pay off

      Most CIOs can tell you exactly how many years their organizations have been storing data. Get a group of CIOs talking, and they’ll start swapping the years their data stores go back just like a baseball players might trade their batting averages.

      For many, the logic goes, if data is the new gold, then your IT organization should gather and store as much as it can in hopes that someday artificial intelligence and machine learning can glean profitable findings.

    • Federal prosecutors probing Facebook’s data deals: report

      According to the Times, a grand jury in New York subpoenaed records from at least two smartphone and device manufacturers.

      Unnamed sources familiar with the matter told the paper that both companies had partnered with Facebook, giving them access to personal data from hundreds of millions of Facebook users.

    • Federal prosecutors are investigating Facebook’s data deals with phonemakers

      The deals were first reported last June, after the Times had discovered that Facebook was sharing user data with manufacturers like Apple, Samsung and Blackberry. The deals were made in order to help Facebook build apps for companies’s respective devices. The move was meant to help both Facebook and the companies building the devices people used to access Facebook products. It’s unclear if these companies are the ones currently under investigation by the prosecutors.

    • Facebook U.S. Criminal Probe Extends to Grand Jury

      A federal grand jury in New York subpoenaed records from at least two makers of smartphones and other electronic devices that had entered into partnerships with Facebook, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified people familiar with the requests. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, New York, declined to comment. Facebook said in July it had received questions from U.S. agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI, and was cooperating.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Fearing for His Life

      Orta believed the video would guarantee justice for his friend. He would be wrong. The officer who choked Garner, Daniel Pantaleo, would not be indicted by a grand jury. But in the weeks to come, the footage of Garner’s killing would travel far and wide, and the haunting echoes of “I Can’t Breathe” would become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, a phrase emblazoned across the chest of LeBron James, a lasting reminder of a plea for help ignored.

    • A History of Blackface
    • Hollywood on Drugs

      Given the enormity of the drug crisis in the USA, particularly centered on opioid overdoses that are the largest cause of death of people under the age of 50, it was inevitable that Hollywood would begin to produce “problem” movies such as “Ben is Back” and “Beautiful Boy”. It also just as inevitable that such films would be based on the suffering of well-to-do families and suffused with clichés.

      “Ben is Back” stars Julia Roberts as Holly Burns, the matriarch of a generally happy family eagerly awaiting Christmas day, the happiest time of the year, especially if you live in the suburbs and have lots of money to lavish on presents. Pulling into her driveway with a carload of gifts to place under the Christmas tree, she sees the ghost of Christmas past, namely her college-aged son Ben (Lucas Hedges) who has cut short his stay in a drug rehabilitation facility to return home from the holidays.

      The entire family treats Ben as if he was the scariest ghost showing up in Scrooge’s bedroom. He is there not to remind them of their lifetime of sins but the pain he has visited on them in the past as an opioid addict. Hoping to enjoy a happy time with the family, he is put on the defensive by his mom’s insistence that he take a drug test in the upstairs bathroom right off the bat. As he pees into a bottle, she stands behind him with her arms folded to make sure he is not turning in a fake sample.

      While the family holds him at arm’s length, a mother’s love naturally makes Holly susceptible to her son’s charms. Bit by bit, she tries to convince her other kids and her husband that maybe his AWOL trip back home was a sign that he was trying to return to a normal life. As it happens, everything conspires to make them wish he would just go away. When they are in church, someone busts into the house and not only steals all the Christmas presents but their beloved pet dog Ponce.

      The remainder of the film consists of Holly and Ben trying to regain the stolen goods, especially Ponce, in a series of fraught confrontations with the town’s drug dealers who all have it in for Ben for one transgression or another. Since their voyage takes place at night, the film aspires to a noir quality that is in sharp distinction to the film’s true calling, which is to make the kind of film the Lifetime Cable channel specializes in, the “problem” drama that generally has a female lead.

    • Jonas Mekas: In Conversation

      Mekas: Well, technology is still moving. I think we are both caught in civilization and within a technology of which we have lost control. Like we want to perfect more and more and more and more, which creates more technology, more dependence on technology. And then to continue to develop it, we must destroy the planet more and more. So I think at this point I think we are going towards a dead end, the way I see it. It’s strange that, we had an election in states and you know, nobody discussed these issues. Everybody think that everything is the economy, the economy. What will happen to that economy? They are talking about plans for 20 years, 30 years ahead. You know, all the crisis 10 years ahead, but that, they forget that in 10 years we may run out of water, we may run out of water and that the oceans will be higher and there will be completely different problems and different needs. The economy may become a secondary matter. Nobody discussed this during the election. It’s strange.

    • ICE’s ‘Bait and Switch’ Policies Tear Apart Families for Following the Rules

      Wanrong Lin went to his green card marriage interview and proved he was married to a U.S. citizen. ICE deported him anyway.

      On Nov. 20, 2018, Wanrong Lin was stranded at an airport in Shanghai, China, almost 7,000 miles away from his wife, kids, and home in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. He found himself wandering China — with no money, no cell phone, and no goodbyes exchanged — after Immigration and Customs Enforcement illegally arrested and deported him when he and his wife showed up for his “marriage interview.” Alone back at home for weeks, Lin’s wife, Hui Fang Dong, tended to their three children, while running their Chinese restaurant alone.

      The Lins are victims of ICE’s “bait and switch” practice, in which the agency separates immigrant couples who are applying for legal status in the U.S. based on their marriage after they show up for their required interviews with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This deportation strategy has occurred across the country with reported cases in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey, leaving families like Mr. Lin’s fighting to stay together in their homes for merely following government protocol.

      But their separation — and this practice — is unlawful and unconstitutional, which is why the Lins are challenging it with the help of the ACLU.

    • Hollywood’s Love Affair With Racism

      At a time when American society is increasingly diverse, it is necessary that our entertainment products reflect those changes in meaningful and nuanced ways, for reasons that extend beyond representation. At UCLA, Darnell Hunt, dean of social sciences, and Ana-Christina Ramon, director of research and civic engagement for the social sciences division, have found another incentive for Hollywood to get its act together when it comes to diversity, both on screen and off: It’s profitable.

      Hunt and Ramon have collaborated on an annual report, “Old Start, New Beginning,” for the past six years. In it, they focus on matters of representation in the nation’s entertainment capital. According to their research, since their project began in 2014, “Hollywood’s getting better; it’s getting worse.”

      “We found that people really do want to see the real world reflected on screen,” Ramon tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer in the latest edition of “Scheer Intelligence.” “On a per capita basis, people of color really are a driving force, in terms of the purchasing power that they have in the industry. And I think for a long time, Hollywood has ignored that.”

    • FSB agents got this ‘Internet extremism’ suspect drunk and filmed him. A court says the footage is legitimate case evidence.

      Oral arguments are done in the case against Dmitry Tretyakov, the Primorsky Krai lawyer charged with inciting extremism online. He is the first Telegram user to be tried in Russia for the felony offense; all previous cases in Russia involving criminal charges and social-media reposts have been against VKontakte users. Tretyakov’s current arrest expires on April 4.

      Sergey Valiulin, Tretyakov’s lawyer and an attorney at Open Russia’s Human Rights project, told Meduza that he tried to stop the court from admitting footage recorded by Federal Security Service (FSB) agents as case evidence. The four-hour-long video from April 2018 shows Tretyakov and another arrested man named Andrey Ternopolsky drinking alcohol that was provided by the FSB. Valiulin says this was a ploy by federal agents to induce his client to confess to the felony charges. The Primorsky court overruled Valiulin’s objection, however, agreeing with prosecutors that the footage was obtained legitimately in a covert operation.

    • Colleagues Defend Tucker Carlson’s ‘Ideas’—That Iraqis Are ‘Monkeys,’ Child Rape Is ‘Commitment to Love’

      A tweet (3/12/19) from New York Times columnist Bret Stephens approvingly quoted—calling it “astute as usual”—a statement from the National Review‘s David French (3/11/19): “Our nation cannot maintain its culture of free speech if we continue to reward those who seek to destroy careers rather than rebut ideas.”

      Were French and Stephens defending Ilhan Omar? Julian Assange? Ha ha, of course not; they were speaking in support of Fox host Tucker Carlson, who is facing some pressure from advertisers after the group Media Matters released audio of him on shock radio from a few years back, saying things like Iraq is a “crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semiliterate primitive monkeys.”

    • 5 Things You Need to Know About the Closing of Immigrant Youth Shelters in Illinois

      Since last summer, we’ve done a lot of reporting on a secretive network of shelters in Illinois that houses thousands of immigrant children each year. We started looking into the network after the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy; we were part of a broader ProPublica effort to report on the issue. That led us to the nine facilities run by the nonprofit Heartland Human Care Services, where 99 children who’d been separated from their parents were sheltered.

      Our reporting, based on dozens of interviews, reports to state child welfare officials and police, and a review of thousands of confidential records, found instances of inadequate supervision, including cases involving children having sex in a common area, an employee in an alleged inappropriate relationship with a detained teen and more than a dozen runaways.

      Well, some news: We obtained an internal memo Heartland sent last week to inform staff of plans to close four of those shelters in the Chicago area.

    • We Won’t Let Our Pensions Build Prisons

      About a month ago, I received a call from Basma Eid of Freedom to Thrive in New York City. She had gotten my contact information from a mutual friend and comrade and was looking for teachers in upstate New York to discuss an important issue.

      This phone call happened to fall during the exact time I was trying to start a social justice caucus of rank-and-file teachers after growing increasingly impatient and frustrated by the lack of union leadership’s tangible support of striking educators across the country.

      I had learned from some of the greatest leaders of educational social movements during panels at the Socialism conference in Chicago and the Marxism Day School in New York City over the course of the past two years. Every single one of them stressed the importance of creating one’s own group to gauge where co-workers were at and to begin building even the smallest coalition for even the smallest campaign.

      That was my plan. Gather a few fellow teachers and try to rally around wearing “Red for Ed” once a week and post solidarity photos on social media to support striking teachers in other states — maybe encourage others to support the GoFundMe pages that helped to feed the workers on the picket lines.

      This was the plan until Basma called me. She informed me that the organization she helped found, Freedom to Thrive, recently helped New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) members make sure their pension funds divest 100 percent from for-profit corrections corporations GEO Group and CoreCivic, and she was looking to spread this throughout New York state.

    • ‘The Case Is Finally Over’: Charges Dropped Against All Remaining J20 Defendants

      Charges against the remaining J20 protesters with no plea deals who were awaiting trial were dropped Friday with prejudice—meaning proscecutors can’t try them again for the 2017 protest.

      Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters were arrested on Jan. 20, 2017, for protesting the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The prosecution of the group—using felony charges against protesters and journalists—has been criticized by rights groups and failed miserably in court. Friday’s ruling by D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin, which ordered the charges dropped with prejudice, shuts the door completely on the case.

    • Expanding Supreme Court May Be Only Way to Protect Democracy

      Mitch McConnell has achieved his lifelong political dream: packing the Federal Courts, and especially The Supreme Court, with right-wing extremists, who thanks to him, now hold lifetime appointments.

      The result: Even if the Democrats manage to win the Presidency, the House, and the Senate simultaneously, a Supreme Court with a young 5-4 right-wing majority could undermine voting rights, environmental regulation , a woman’s right to choose, and many other areas for decades to come.

      McConnell subscribes to the premise that “the easiest way to change the law is to change the judges.” As a result of refusal to consider Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, his subsequent success in installing young right-wing ideologues like Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land, as well as his packing Federal District and Appeals Courts with other right-wing ideologues, McConnell may have insured that his dead hand will continue to govern the nation’s laws, long after he’s gone from the Senate and even the planet.

    • CBP Still Arresting Immigrants Trying To Stay In The Country By Furthering Their Education

      To be clear, most of the students detained or arrested were doing exactly what the law allows them to do: stay in US while continuing their education. A (manufactured) shortage of H1-B visas made this the only legal option for many of these students. According to the lawyers representing the students, a majority of those arrested were enrolled in master’s degree programs at the fake school. They had paid tuition and were fully expecting to be able to attend school while waiting for H1-B slots to open up.

      It was ICE that arbitrarily decided attempting to follow the law was the equivalent of illegally overstaying their visas. The students thought they were dealing with a legit operation, which is exactly what ICE wanted them to think. It even secured accreditation for its fake school to better sell the false promise of students being able to do exactly what immigration law allowed them to do.

      And for that, they’re being arrested and deported. While ICE may have rounded up a few scammers selling students access to something they already rightfully had access to, the biggest scam was run by the government. The government created a fake school, took students’ real money, and arrested them for trying to extend their stays legally.

    • Woman, Jew, Mother, Justice

      Any book about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be notable simply because she is remarkable.

      Antonia Felix, a biographer, and Mimi Leder, a film and television producer, authors of “The Unstoppable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, American Icon,” have created a wonderful opportunity for readers to get to know Ginsburg through her own reflections on her life.

      These authors drew upon and compiled a variety of Ginsburg’s presentations, arguments and other materials not normally published, to give the reader a unique insight into the mind of this extraordinary justice.

      Born Ruth Joan Bader on March 15, 1933, the second daughter of Russian immigrants Nathan and Celia Bader, she grew up in a low-income, working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn.

    • The Supreme Court Didn’t Put the Nail in Civil Asset Forfeiture’s Coffin

      News of the death of the unjust law enforcement tactic has been greatly exaggerated.
      The 84 percent of Americans who oppose civil asset forfeiture can be forgiven for having the impression that the U.S. Supreme Court ended abusive use of this practice last month in Timbs v. Indiana when it ruled that the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment applies to the states. Some media hailed it as a huge victory. But the celebration is premature.

      So what really happened?

      The Timbs opinion recognizes that the Constitution guarantees freedom from excessive monetary sanctions as a fundamental right. But crucial questions remain about what practical difference the Supreme Court’s decision will make in ordinary people’s lives, particularly in the context of civil asset forfeiture.

      The question of whether the Excessive Fines Clause should apply to the states wasn’t a difficult one to answer. Indeed, at the oral argument, Justice Gorsuch made fun of Indiana’s Solicitor General, saying: “I mean, most … of the incorporation cases took place in like the 1940s.” Yet, he noted, that we’re “still litigating incorporation of the Bill of Rights. Really?”

      The oft-divided court was able to rule unanimously in favor of the plaintiff, Tyson Timbs, partly because the narrow issue of whether the clause is “incorporated” and therefore binding on the states was the only question before it. So while the court said that the Excessive Fines Clause applies to Timbs’ civil asset forfeiture case, it didn’t say that Timbs’ forfeiture case violates the Excessive Fines Clause.

    • Yekaterinburg court refuses to place sitting Duma deputy in jail, following detention by federal agents

      A court in Yekaterinburg has refused to sanction the arrest of Vadim Belousov, a State Duma deputy detained this Friday on suspicion of receiving more than 3 billion rubles in bribes between 2010 and 2014. The ruling takes effect in three days, if officials don’t challenge the decision in appellate court.

    • Ocasio-Cortez Demands to Know Why Wilbur Ross is ‘Violating the Law’ to Include Citizenship Question on Census

      Ross’s discussions with Kobach, which continued past the July 2017 email exchange, were notable because of Kobach’s long history of voter suppression. During his time on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity Kobach was charged with proving Trump’s false claim that “millions and millions” of undocumented immigrants had voted in the 2016 election and erecting barriers to voting as a result.

      Voting and immigrant rights advocates have long railed against the proposed citizenship question because it would likely prevent Latinx and other immigrant households from filling out the census—resulting in less federal funding and redistricting that would be skewed in Republicans’ favor.

      The New York Immigration Coalition praised the committee and condemned Ross for his attempts to mislead Congress in order to discriminate against immigrant communities.

      “Secretary Wilbur Ross spent his entire testimony deflecting questions to conceal the truth—that he engineered the citizenship question with notorious white supremacists Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach, and has been caught red-handed in a web of nefarious lies,” said executive director Steven Choi.

    • Unions Must Again Fight for Immigrant Amnesty

      In February 2000, the AFL-CIO Executive Council passed a unanimous resolution calling for an immediate amnesty for undocumented workers and an end to employer sanctions that had primarily been used to undermine labor organizing, “thus denying labor rights for all workers.”

      The resolution called for enforcement against employers who violated the labor rights of their undocumented workers and demanded protected status for undocumented worker who reported their employers for labor violations.

      This was a dramatic shift for the U.S.’s main labor federation, which for decades had primarily viewed undocumented workers as competitors who unfairly undercut wages and job prospects for U.S.-born workers. In 1986, the AFL-CIO had supported the employer-based sanctions that were allegedly put in place to punish employers who exploited undocumented workers.

      However, for the next decade and a half, labor activists saw how these same employers used these new enforcement tools in their favor to intimidate immigrant workers, bust up unionizing drives and keep wages low.

      By the late 1990s, immigrant workers and rights activists, both within and outside the AFL-CIO, built mounting pressure to push the federation to recognize this fact. The 2000 resolution was a recognition that undocumented workers and their families were part and parcel of the American working class and that attacks on their rights were an attack on all of labor.

    • We Need a New Declaration of Rights for Black Americans

      Once upon a time, there was the lower-case “negro.” But in 1914, Marcus Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, and called its first convention in New York City in August 1920 to mobilize its membership. The International Convention of Negroes of the World adopted the “Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World,” demanding that “the word ‘Negro’ be written with a capital ‘N.’”

      But the Declaration didn’t stop at semantics. Its 12 complaints and 54 declarations comprehend Black philosophy of right. They spell out the “Black Magna Carta.” The Declaration frames a new world order in terms of “Africa for the Africans” at “home and abroad.” Declaration 41, for instance, describes the true condition of Africans then and now: “We believe that any limited liberty which deprives one of the complete rights and prerogatives of full citizenship is but a modified form of slavery.”

      As we approach the Declaration’s centennial in 2020, we must rediscover it as frame of reference for the lived realities of Black people in the U.S.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The WebAIM Million: An accessibility analysis of the top 1,000,000 home pages

      In February 2019, WebAIM conducted an evaluation of the home pages for the top 1,000,000 web sites using the WAVE stand-alone API (with additional tools to collect site technology parameters). While this research focuses only on automatically detectable issues, the results paint a rather dismal picture of the current state of web accessibility.

    • Fighting uphill

      As someone with a good deal of interest in the digital accessibility space, I follow WebAIM’s work closely. Their survey results are priceless insights into how disabled people actually use the web, so when the organization speaks with authority on a subject, I listen.

      WebAIM’s accessibility analysis of the top 1,000,000 homepages was released to the public on February 27, 2019. I’ve had a few days to process it, and frankly, it’s left me feeling pretty depressed. In a sea of already demoralizing findings, probably the most notable one is that pages containing ARIA—a specialized language intended to aid accessibility—are actually more likely to have accessibility issues.

      I don’t think this is intentional malice on the part of authors, but it is worth saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. These failures via omission and ignorance actively separate people from their civil rights.

      I view the issue largely as an education problem, and that education is tied into what the market demands.

    • Hearing On New Net Neutrality Law Once Again Conjures Up A Greatest Hits Of Nonsense

      As we previously noted, Democratic lawmakers recently just proposed a very simple, three page law. The Save The Internet Act would simply reverse the Ajit Pai repeal of net neutrality, and restore the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules. It would again classify ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Telecom Act, but, as an act of Congress, couldn’t be repealed by the whims of future FCCs. It also locks the “forbearance” part of the original rules (which prevented the FCC from using Title II to regulate broadband rates) into permanent law.

      [...]

      One problem is that the FCC’s 2015 rules, crafted over the better part of two decades, are the compromise. The other problem is that Walden’s and others’ preferred alternative “compromise” legislation has proven to be anything but. Most of these alternative proposed bills have been little more than bad faith gambits; net neutrality in name only. More often then not, these alternative bills have been industry-supported efforts packed with countless loopholes designed specifically to do one thing: prevent tougher, better state and federal laws from being passed.

      As it stands, the Save the Internet Act has a solid chance of passing the House. It has an uphill climb in the Senate however, and would still need to somehow avoid a veto by Donald “Net neutrality is the fairness doctrine” (for the record it’s not) Trump. Even if it fails to pass, it will serve another function: provide a handy scorecard ahead of the 2020 elections clearly highlighting lawmakers who think AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon’s quest to behave anti-competitively is more important than the will of the public or the health of the internet.

  • DRM

    • $900 Robot Commits Adorable Seppuku, Showing Again How In The Modern Era You Don’t Own What You Buy

      Here at Techdirt we’ve talked a lot about how in the modern, internet-connected era, you don’t really own the things you buy. For over a decade we’ve shown how your digital books, music, or films can simply and quickly disappear without much recourse. The game console you’ve bought can be suddenly and mysteriously downgraded via firmware update, leaving you with a product that actually does less than the one you bought. And more and more frequently, companies are going further and completely bricking products they no longer want to support, leaving consumers with a pricey paperweight.

      The latest case in point: many consumers shelled out upwards of $900 for a twelve-inch tall “social” robot by the name of Jibo. Started as a research project at MIT, Jibo was crowdfunded then marketed as the “the first social robot for the home.” First sold in 2017, the robot offered some basic interactive functionality much like similar products, promising to offer a digital home assistant with a little more personality.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • USPTO Announces Pilot Program Related to Motions to Amend in PTAB Trials

      The Notice will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, March 15th (with the preliminary final notice being available today). Pursuant to the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act, the public was given the opportunity to provide comments, and the Office reports that it received 49 such comments, from individuals, organizations, and corporations, and adopted some directed to the amount of time a patent owner will have “for certain filings or evidence.”

      The pilot program applies to all AIA trials instituted on or after March 15, 2019, and the Office intends to reassess the program within about a year (and of course the notice states that the Office can terminate the program at any time, modify it or continue it with or without modifications depending on feedback (presumably from both APJs and the public) and effectiveness (however that will be assessed).

    • San Diego jury decides Qualcomm v. Apple patent case in Qualcomm’s favor: verdict is grossly inconsistent with outcome in the ITC

      “You win some, you lose some.” The same week that Apple won a multi-billion-dollar decision against Qualcomm (incorrectly portrayed by various media as a $1 billion matter), Qualcomm won a $31 million consolation prize (so we’re talking about roughly 1% of what was at stake in the other context), with a San Diego jury having deemed Apple to infringe all three Qualcomm patents still in play (one had been thrown out by the court and two had been withdrawn by Qualcomm) and agreeing 100% with Qualcomm’s damages claim.

      This means it worked out for Qualcomm to make its case to a jury of laypersons–a case that had underwhelmed a professional judge (in fact, one of the most experienced patent judges in America, Administrative Law Judge Thomas Be. Pender). The discrepancies between the ITC’s findings (which are final except for only one patent that Apple has already worked around anyway) and the verdict rendered by Qualcomm’s hometown jury without a great deal of deliberation time could hardly be more extreme. The ITC case went nowhere, while the San Diego verdict sides with Qualcomm all the way, even with respect to the question of whether Qualcomm filed a patent application on an invention actually made by a then-Apple employee.

      Jury verdicts enjoy a fair amount of deference, but as some other smartphone-related patent infringement cases have shown, there often are major differences between a verdict and the final result (after all appeals have been exhausted). Without a doubt, Apple, like any other party in the same situation, is now going to try to convince Judge Dana M. Sabraw that the verdict should be overturned or at least vacated. Some adjustments to the verdict may still happen in the Southern District of California, and then it’s on to the Federal Circuit, which will also hear any appeal from the ITC case.

    • Qualcomm can’t leverage Chinese bogeyman or allege misuse of its trade secrets by Apple in upcoming antitrust and contract trial: pretrial rulings

      Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel just entered a minute order summarizing various rulings on Apple’s, its contract manufacturers’, and Qualcomm’s motions in limine (pretrial motions to exclude testimony, evidence, or argument). The rulings came down orally at yesterday’s motion hearing as the order indicates.

      While those decisions can have major impact on what the parties to a dispute can say or show at trial time, rulings on motions in limine are typically much less important than summary judgment orders, and a very important summary judgment was published yesterday but dated March 12 (Tuesday): under that one, Qualcomm has lost the opportunity (barring a successful appeal) to claw back billions of dollars from Apple, and it’s now apparently a foregone conclusion that Apple is entitled to an extra $1 billion in payments under a Business Cooperation and Patent Agreement (BCPA). And in other news today a jury verdict (in Qualcomm’s favor) came down in a sideshow case involving a very small amount of money compared to what’s really at stake between the parties.

      But there are tens of billions of dollars at stake in the trial that will start on April 15 (with Apple placing the emphasis on antitrust and FRAND arguments, while Qualcomm puts certain contracts front and center), so even the decisions on various motions in limine are worth looking at (even if not in great detail because there’s so many of them). Relatively speaking, even those “MILs” are strategically more important than today’s verdict in a case that is not even about a tenth of a percent of the big antitrust/FRAND/contract case.

      It’s important to consider that even if a motion in limine is denied, counsel may still successfully object (at trial time) to some of the related testimony, evidence, or argument.

    • Copyrights

      • Japan fails to amend copyright law against piracy yet again

        The problem is that the consensus-building process was not appropriate in this case. The government just paid attention to the interest of publishing companies, but not enough to that of creators. We have seen the similar situation in the process for the amendment of the patent law. It was a crack in the relationship between industry and the government. (Please read “Slowly changing Japan’s IP dispute resolution system” on this.) Apparently, there is a problem in the government’s policy-making process.

      • Danladi v Tiwalope Savage and another – (Nigerian) “Blurred Line” or “Shape of You”?

        The case continues. The defendants have 30 days from the date of service of the writ and statement of claim to respond by filing a defence. While this case has the makings of resulting in a landmark copyright judgement in the Nigerian music industry, it is also possible for Danny Young to unilaterally withdraw the suit or for parties to decide to settle out of court.

        The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) recently reiterated its commitment to set up an alternative dispute resolution centre for copyright disputes. While such centre will not replace the courts, it may offer an avenue for disputes and claims of infringement relating to similarities, to be resolved.

      • Merkel’s party proposes upload-filter-free national implementation of Article 13: constructive, but EU Parliament should postpone copyright vote

        Late on Friday by local time, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany–Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel’s party–and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), provided by far the most compelling argument to date for a postponement of the European Parliament’s copyright reform vote, which would normally take place right after the plenary debate envisioned for March 26.

        Further to an initiative taken by the party’s secretary-general Paul Ziemiak, who is 33 years young and likely better-placed than some others to understand the commercial and legal realities facing digital platforms, a group of CDU and CSU politicians focusing on policies for the digital economy unveiled a position paper on the future implementation of the contemplated EU directive into national law. You’ll find my translation (unofficial unless and until one of the authors would approve it) of that paper further below (or just click here). Its main thrust is that a directive based on the recent interinstitutional compromise resulting from trilateral talks (“trilogue” in EU lingo) between EU Council (= Member States), EU Commission (= EU executive government and initiator of legislation) and EU Parliament could allegedly be transposed (= incorporated, implemented) into national law in a way that would render upload filters unnecessary.

        Upload filters can result in overblocking, which even the EU Parliament’s rapporteur Axel Voss MEP (CDU, state of North Rhine-Westphalia) conceded in an interview. In Germany, upload filters are as sensitive an issue as they are divisive. The written agreement based on which the CDU and CSU formed another government coalition about a year ago with the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) explicitly rules out upload filters, but an EU-level compromise between the German and French governments resulted in a qualified majority in the EU Council for Article 13 of the proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (“EU Copyright Directive”). The CDU has consistently and vehemently denied–all the way up to the Chancellor’s spokesman Steffen Seibert–that Article 13 in its post-trilogue form would entail upload filters.

      • The 2012 Web Blackout Helped Stop SOPA/PIPA And Then ACTA; Here Comes The 2019 Version To Stop Article 13

        Remember SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act)? Back in 2012, they threatened to cause widespread damage to the online world by bringing in yet more extreme and unbalanced measures against alleged copyright infringement. Things looked pretty bad until a day of massive online protest was organized on January 18, 2012, with thousands of sites partially or totally blacked out. Politicians were taken aback by the unexpected scale of the anger, and their support for SOPA and PIPA crumbled quickly. That success fuelled protests in Europe against ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), which also sought to bring in harsh measures against online infringement. After tens of thousands of people took part in street demonstrations across Europe, many politicians wanted nothing to do with the by-now toxic proposal, and it was voted down in the European Parliament in July 2012.

      • News Organization Like Reuters Supporting The EU Copyright Directive Is A Shameful Support For Censorship

        Of course, we’ve explained multiple times why none of this makes much sense. Nothing in the EU Copyright Directive is about creating a “level playing field” or “giving citizens better access to a wider array of content.” Indeed, as written, it will do the exact opposite. It will heavily weight the playing field towards large organizations (both tech and copyright) and massively limit availability to content through mass mandatory filtering.

        Anyway, I’m not surprised at all the collection societies signing on to this — as they know that they’ll be in the best position to demand more money from platforms should this become law. What I find most troubling, however, is to see a bunch of news organizations — including behemoths like Reuters — signed on. I know that many large news publishers (stupidly) support Article 11, in the false belief that it will magically create a new stream of revenue for them from Google News having to pay to link to them (even though that hasn’t worked in Germany or Spain when similar laws passed in both places).

      • Online ‘Reputation Management’ Company Brags About Abusing Copyright Law To Take Down Bad Reviews

        This is, as one copyright lawyer I asked about it noted, “utter nonsense.” Almost nothing in that is accurate, though I do wonder how many people fall for it. We have, of course, seen lots of people try (laughably) to abuse DMCA notices to try to delist pages from Google and it rarely works. Google actually is pretty good at ignoring those nonsense DMCA claims.

        Indeed, in researching a bit more about “Reputation Defenders” I discovered that we actually wrote about them about a year ago, noting that they appeared to have struck out on every single attempt to use bogus DMCA notices sent to Google to remove reviews on Ripoff Report. Back then, Tim Cushing’s story also noticed that they made bizarre claims about owning the copyright on company names (not a thing) and referencing the Berne Convention (irrelevant). It appears that they have not learned that (1) these are legal nonsense, and (2) they don’t work. I sent in some questions to Reputation Defenders to see if they have any actual copyright lawyers on staff or if a copyright lawyer has ever reviewed their page, but so far the company has not responded.

        The company does appear to keep on filing DMCA notices with Google. While it’s a bit sporadic, there were three such DMCA notices filed in February. They all follow the same nonsense formula. Two of them are attempts to delete negative reviews on Ripoff Report. The most recent was filed on February 4th, and is an attempt to delete a negative review from Google’s index. If you actually go to the Ripoff Report page, you actually see that the individual in question posted a detailed “rebuttal” to the negative review, including documentation (though the original poster also returns to post more details of the original claims as well). Either way, Google did not remove the review. The same situation plays out for a DMCA notice sent on February 1st, which, from reading through the Ripoff Report, you discover quite the soap opera that may have occurred with an attempt at create a drug treatment facility.

      • YouTube is Not Liable for Copyright Infringing Videos, Appeal Court Rules

        The Higher Regional Court of Vienna, Austria, has ruled that YouTube can’t be held liable for infringing videos uploaded by users. The Court overturned a previous verdict which held that YouTube takes an “active role,” which disqualifies it from safe harbor protection. Rightsholder Puls 4 is disappointed with the outcome and will take the case to the Supreme Court.

      • Japan Abandons Tough Anti-Downloading Copyright Law

        Japan’s government has decided to not to proceed with its controversial anti-piracy law. The proposals would have rendered the downloading of all copyrighted content illegal while criminalizing offenders with jail sentences of up to two years. The reforms will now go back to the drawing board.

      • Japanese Government Puts Restrictive Copyright Amendments On Hold Over ‘Internet Atrophy’ Worries

        Call me surprised. We have been recently discussing a proposal in Japan to alter copyright law in the country to criminalize every single instance of copyright infringement, rather than saving any of that for the civil courts. The bonkers proposal would take the current law, in which all instances of copyright infringement on movies and music carry criminal penalties and expand that to essentially all copyright infringement everywhere. This would include screenshots, posting lyrics to songs, and the like. Shortly after all of this was announced, a large group of Japanese academics wrote an open statement to the government indicating their concern that allowing the new law to move forward would result in an extreme chilling effect on internet usage in the country. At the time, I said it was a litmus test for whether the government would take any objection to the law seriously, tame as it was. It was also likely clear that I wasn’t optimistic.

        Well, surprise, the government has actually put the proposal on hold out of a concern for the very chilling effects those academics raised.

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