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03.29.19

Links 29/3/2019: Wayland’s Weston 6.0, Libinput 1.13, New Ubuntu Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Asus Just Gave You 1 Million Reasons To Switch From Windows To Linux

    The bottom line is that Windows has too many potential attack points, most of which are not directly overseen by the very company who develops the operating system. The vast majority of the code cannot be audited by the community. There are less checks and balances in place to ensure that these attacks are prevented. After seeing how Ubuntu and various other Linux distributions ensure the security of their users, the Microsoft Windows approach starts to seem a lot less sane.

    And if you’re wary of Linux because you think its archaic and not user-friendly, here are some articles that may change your mind, including one to help find the perfect OS to suit your needs…

  • Server

    • Red Hat crosses US$3b annual revenue for first time

      After interest and tax, that left Red Hat with US$434 million in profit for the year, up 66% from the US$262 million it made a year prior.

      Red Hat recorded revenue of US$2.9 billion for the last fiscal year which ended in February 2018.

    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 validated for SAP workloads
    • Top Ten Ways Not To Sink the Kubernetes Ship

      As organizations increase their use of Kubernetes in public and Hybrid cloud architectures, it is important not to let a maiden voyage end like a Titanic catastrophe. To ensure ongoing security site reliability engineers must work hand-in-hand with the CISO’s (Chief Information Security Officer) office to implement Kubernetes security. The following is a list of some useful considerations when deploying Kubernetes clusters.

    • Red Hat Reports Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2019 Results
    • The Ingredients of a Successful Digital Transformation Strategy

      The term “digital transformation” may admittedly be ambiguous, but the symptoms and organizational impact of it are very real.

      In this current age of disruption, organizations face pressure to become more competitive and deliver more value to their customers, and leading change through evolved digital capability is how it should happen. The biggest challenge, though, is that transformation does not happen overnight. To do it successfully, certain capabilities must be in place. Successful digital transformation relies on a combination of cultural strategies, business and IT process changes, and modern technology.

      As with starting any project, it is important to have clear goals as the context for a transformational strategy. Whether launching an initiative to stay ahead of the competition or to deliver increased innovation and faster time-to-market for new products and offerings, your purpose should shape the actions that need to be taken.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Episode 60 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we check out some new releases from MATE, Firefox, OpenShot, KDE Falkon, Samba, CrossOver, and more including a beta release for Zorin OS. We’ll also discuss the big gaming news for Google’ Cloud Gaming platform and then we’ll take a look at the latest updates related the EU Copyright Directive. Later in the show, we’ll discuss some more Linux Gaming news with an update for the Atari VCS and GameCube Controllers development as well as some news from Epic Games, Valve, and GOG.com. All that and much more on your Weekly Source for Linux GNews.

    • LHS Episode #278: The Weekender XXVI

      It’s time once again for The Weekender. This is our bi-weekly departure into the world of amateur radio contests, open source conventions, special events, listener challenges, hedonism and just plain fun. Thanks for listening and, if you happen to get a chance, feel free to call us or e-mail and send us some feedback. Tell us how we’re doing. We’d love to hear from you.

    • Emergency Condiments | User Error 62

      What attracted us to Linux in the first place, planning for when tech goes away, and why we aren’t surrounded by alien life.

      Plus a difficult culinary choice for Dan, and what we’d use instead of Linux.

    • Supply Chain Attacks | TechSNAP 400

      We break down the ASUS Live Update backdoor and explore why these kinds of supply chain attacks are on the rise.

      Plus an update from the linux vendor firmware service, your feedback, and more!

    • Storage Changes Software | BSD Now 291

      Storage changing software, what makes Unix special, what you need may be “pipeline +Unix commands”, running a bakery on Emacs and PostgreSQL, the ultimate guide to memorable tech talks, light-weight contexts, and more.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation

      • LVFS Officially Joins The Linux Foundation

        We knew it was coming and now it’s been made official: the Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS) has formally become a Linux Foundation project.

        The Linux Foundation has announced that the LVFS, which allows hardware vendors to distribute firmware/BIOS files for easily distributing to Linux users that can then be flashed via Fwupd, it’s formally hosting the project now as a neutral grounds outside of Red Hat. Red Hat up until now has been the primary driver of LVFS and Fwupd — they continue investing in it, but now being a “Linux Foundation” project could encourage other software vendors to contribute to the project.

      • The LVFS is now a Linux Foundation project

        The LVFS is now an official Linux Foundation project! I did a mini-interview if you want some more details about where the project came from and where it’s heading. I’m hoping the move to the Linux Foundation gives the project a lot more credibility with existing LF members, and it certainly takes some of the load from me. I’ll continue to develop the lvfs-website codebase as before, and still be the friendly face when talking to OEMs and ODMs.

      • LVFS adopted by Linux Foundation

        Today the announcement went out that the Linux Vendor Firmware Service has become and official Linux Foundation service. For those that don’t know it yet LVFS is a service that provides firmware for your linux running hardware and it was one off our initial efforts as part of the Fedora Workstation effort to drain the swamp in terms of making Linux a first class desktop operating system.

      • OpenDaylight Neon Released as Open Source Software Defined Networking Effort Turns 6

        OpenDaylight is now celebrating its’ sixth anniversary with the launch of its’ 10th platform release dubbed “Neon” on March 26. Neon integrates enhanced optical transport networking and virtual networking features as well as stability and scalability improvements.

        “Neon speaks to OpenDaylight’s longevity as well as its integration with other projects like Kubernetes, ONAP, OPNFV, and OpenStack,” said Phil Robb, vice president, Operations, Networking, and Orchestration at the Linux Foundation. “I am continually impressed by the community’s cohesiveness in delivering platform releases with updates and features that enhance evolving SDN use cases.”]

        The OpenDaylight project was officially announced in April 2013 with a long list of marquee sponsor all focused on the goal of creating an open source SDN controller.

      • The Linux Foundation Welcomes 31 New Members

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced the addition of 28 Silver members and 3 Associate members. Linux Foundation members help support the development of shared technology resources, while accelerating their own innovation through open source leadership and participation in some of the world’s most successful open source projects including Hyperledger, Kubernetes, Linux, Node.js and ONAP. Linux Foundation member contributions help provide the infrastructure and resources that enable the world’s largest open collaboration communities.

        Through 2018, on average, a new organization joined the Linux Foundation every day.

        “Linux Foundation members understand the importance of collaboration in order to further advance open source and open standards,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director, the Linux Foundation. “Innovation no longer happens in silos, and I am looking forward to working with these 31 new members in order to promote growth across every industry.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • [ANNOUNCE] weston 6.0.0

        Weston 6.0 is released with only a trivial build change since RC2.

        Derek Foreman (1):
        configure.ac/meson.build: bump version to 6.0.0 for the official release

        Marius Vlad (1):
        autotools: Fix tags/cscope targets with autools

      • Wayland’s Weston 6.0 Compositor Released With New Remoting/Streaming Plug-In

        ast week marked the release of Wayland 1.17 but at the time the Weston compositor update wasn’t ready to ship, but overnight it has now set sail. Weston 6.0 is the latest Wayland reference compositor release with many improvements over its predecessor.

      • libinput 1.13.0
        libinput 1.13.0 is now available.
        
        A few remaining cleanups, primarily in the test suite. The API docs should
        be a bit more readable now thanks to some CSS changes. Other than that,
        nothing exciting. So let's copy-paste the RC1 announcements here:
        
        Only two notable features in this release but patches are accumulating on
        master, it's been 6 months since 1.12 and I've decided to postpone the two
        major features (hi-res scrolling and totem support) to 1.14.
        
        Touch arbitration has improved for tablets, especially on touch screens.
        A timer set on pen proximity out means we don't get ghost touches anymore
        when the hand lifts off slower than the pen itself. And location-based touch
        arbitration means that parts of the screen can be interacted with even while
        the pen is in proximity. libinput uses the tilt information where
        available to disable touches in a rectangle around the pen where the hand is
        likely to be but leaves the rest of the touchscreen available otherwise.
        Where the UI supports it, this allows for bimanual interaction.
        
        The test suite is installed on demand (meson -Dinstall-tests=true). Where
        run from the installed location it will use the normal library lookups and
        the quirks directory as defined by the prefix. This makes it useful for
        distribution-level testing, i.e. run this on a test machine after updating
        the package to make sure everything is as expected. Where available, you can
        invoke it with the "libinput test-suite" command.
        
        One user-visible change: multitap (doubletap or more) now resets the timer
        on release as well. This should improve tripletap detection as well as any
        tripletap-and-drag and similar gestures.
        
        valgrind is no longer a required dependency to build with tests. It was only
        used in a specific test run anyway (meson test --setup=valgrind) and not
        part of the regular build.
        
        Other than that, a load of fixes, quirks added, cleanups, tidy-ups and so on
        an so forth.
        
        As usual, the git shortlog is below. Many thanks to all the contributors.
        
        Konstantin Kharlamov (2):
              evdev: fix "always false" comparison
              evdev: remove unnecessary comparison
        
        Peter Hutterer (11):
              test: don't install our normal rules file in installed mode
              test: drop remnants of the test device udev rules
              test: let the device custom create method return a bool
              test: switch the protocol A test device to be an actual protocol A device
              test: mark the protocol A device as touch device
              Fix three coverity complaints
              doc/api: improve readability of the API docs
              tools: fix the tool option parse test to handle unittest arguments
              test: fix tool option parsing tests for signals
              test: add another valgrind suppression for Python
              libinput 1.13.0
              
      • Libinput 1.13 Released With Improved Touch Arbitration, Better Triple Tap Detection

        Longtime Linux input expert Peter Hutterer has released version 1.13 of libinput, the input library used both by Wayland and X.Org Linux desktops for unified input handling.

        Libinput 1.13 isn’t a huge release as two big features were delayed to libinput 1.14: high resolution scrolling and Dell Canvas’ Totem support. The high resolution scrolling pairs with Logitech/Microsoft mice on recent kernels (Linux 5.0+) to offer a smoother scrolling experience.

      • Intel Sends In Elkhartlake, Icelake Fixes & Other Work For Linux 5.2

        Just days after Intel sent in their first feature pull request to DRM-Next destined for the Linux 5.2 cycle, another round of feature work is ready for queuing.

        Intel open-source developer Joonas Lahtinen sent in this latest drop of features, which includes the new Elkhart Lake support although for now is hidden behind the i915.alpha_support flag. There is also now support for DisplayPort Multi-Stream Transport (DP MST) properties, HDR format fixes, various Icelake fixes, a minor user-space API optimization, and a variety of other fixes and low-level driver improvements.

      • Blugon – A Blue Light Filter for X

        I have been covering a series of command line apps/tool recently including Cookie, Sway, and takeover.sh. Today, I came across an app that will end all your (potential) blue light problems and it goes by the name of Blugon.

        Blugon is a lightweight configurable command line Blue light filter for X. You can run it once or as a daemon (manually or via systemd). It works effectively by calculating the screen colour from your system time and configuration.

        Blugon also supports several backends including tty for running blugon on your TTY, and xgamma.

      • It’s Time To Vote On Whether FreeDesktop.org Will Formally Hook Up With X.Org

        While X.Org and FreeDesktop.org are already closely related, administered by many of the same people, and FreeDesktop.org provides the hosting for much of the infrastructure, there isn’t many formalities around FreeDesktop.org and the X.Org Foundation formally doesn’t have control of FreeDesktop.org. But there’s now a vote on whether the X.Org Foundation will formally accept FreeDesktop.org.

      • X.org Elections: freedesktop.org Merger – Vote Now!

        Aside from the regular board elections we also have some bylaw changes to vote on. As usual with bylaw changes, we need a supermajority of all members to agree – if you don’t vote you essentially reject it, but the board has no way of knowing.

    • Benchmarks

      • Ubuntu 19.04 Is Offering Some Performance Improvements Over Ubuntu 18.10, Comparison To Clear Linux

        With the Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” release less than one month away, we are getting ready for rolling out more tests of this next six-month installment to Ubuntu Linux. For those curious about the direction of Ubuntu 19.04′s performance, here are some very preliminary data points using the latest daily state of Ubuntu 19.04 right ahead of the beta period. Tests were done on a high-end Intel Core i9 9900K desktop as well as a Dell XPS Developer Edition notebook when comparing Ubuntu 19.04 to Ubuntu 18.10 and also tossing in Clear Linux as a performance reference point.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma Desktop + Vertical Panel + Global Menu

        This simple customization tutorial explains how to make Plasma to look like Unity desktop environment on GNU/Linux. You will have a working global menu on the top panel, including System Tray, and, a vertical panel with start menu where you put your favorite app shortcuts there. You will be able to save your final configuration to import it on another computer with same KDE Plasma so you do not need to re-configure it every time. I use Neon OS with Plasma 5.15 as my system to practice this tutorial and it’s very easy to do. I hope you will enjoy it. Happy tweaking!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • On Being a Free Software Maintainer

        Year is 2013. I learn about a new, alpha-quality project called “GNOME Calendar.” Intriguing.

        I like calendars.

        “Cool, I’ll track that,” said my younger self. Heavy development was happening at the ui-rework branch. Every day, a few new commits. Pull, build, test. Except one day, no new commits. Nor the next day. Or week. Or month. Or year. I’m disappointed. Didn’t want that project to die. You know…

        I like calendars.

        “Nope. Not gonna happen,” also said my younger self. Clone, build, fix bugs, send patches. Maintainer’s interest in the project is renewed. We get a new icon, things get serious. We go to a new IRC room (!) and make the first public release of GNOME Calendar.

        One year passes, it is now 2015. After contributing for more than a year, Erick made me the de facto GNOME Calendar maintainer ¹. A mix of positive emotions flows: proud of the achievement; excitement for being able to carry on with my ideas for the future of the application; fear, for the weight of the responsibility.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • New Zorin OS 15 Beta Is Worth the Wait

        am impressed with the Zorin OS 15 beta release. Zorin OS is not the same old GNOME distro retread. It has a well-integrated and tweaked user interface that makes the GNOME interface much more productive.

        This release also introduces the Wayland display server with application sandboxing and improved security. Zorin OS 15 has a lot more to offer. It is a serious contender that should rank high on the Linux hit parade list of easy-to-use and productive OSes.

        Zorin OS 15 beta is a solid performer. That bodes well for a successful upgrade or adoption changeover when the final version of Zorin OS 15 is released.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • New Mageia 7 Artwork

        As many will have no doubt noticed, there has been an artwork contest running for Mageia 7, and then lots of voting in the community to choose the artwork! This has all finally concluded and we will start to integrate the new artwork into Mageia 7 to get it ready for release.

        Before we get to the new artwork, firstly, a huge thank you to everyone that submitting artwork, and also those that took part in all of the voting, there was a great turnout and the results were really close, an indication of the excellence of the work that our community has put forward.

        Firstly, the screensavers for Mageia 7 were, as always a tour around the world and showed some excellent photography talent. There seemed to be a distinct liking for rivers this time around.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora Kernel and i18n Test Day: PICT College

        We met for 2 meeting instances to plan this college meetup, once on 30th August 2018 and then again on 3rd September 2018 in Red Hat office. This event was planned as an alternative to the September Fedora Pune Meetup. We decided to do something different this time by executing a recent Fedora 29 test day with a room full of students of Computer department in the PICT college of Pune. Professor Mayur was our point of contact in the college and we had shared the Fedora 29 image under test with him. He ensured students have it installed on their respective systems before the actual test day. Pravin Satpute from Red hat helped us with coordination with the college. Kaushik Banerjee arranged for few Fedora and Red Hat badges to distribute among the attending students. The event took place on Friday, 7th September 2018.

    • Debian Family

      • Registration now open for the Mini-DebConf in Hamburg in June 2019

        With great joy we are finally offically announcing the Debian MiniDebConf which will take place in Hamburg (Germany) from June 5 to 9, with three days of Debcamp style hacking, followed by two days of talks, workshops and more hacking. And then, Monday the 10th is also a holiday in Germany (and some other countries), so you might choose to extend your stay by a day! (Though there will not be an official schedule for the 10th.)

        TL;DR: We’re having a MiniDebConf 2019 in Hamburg on June 5-9 It’s going to be awesome. You should all come! Register now!

        We tried to cut the longer version below a bit shorter and rely more on the wiki. If some information is missing, please reply to this email and we’ll fix it.

      • Debian is welcoming applicants for Outreachy and GSoC 2019

        Debian is dedicated to increasing the diversity of contributors to the project and improving the inclusivity of the project. We strongly believe working towards these goals provides benefits both for people from backgrounds that are currently under-represented in free software, and for the wider movement, by increasing the range of skills, experiences and viewpoints contributing to it.

        [...]

        Debian is also participating in the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) with eight projects, and the student application period is open until April 9.

        You can learn more details on how to submit your GSoC application or get help for in our wiki page for GSoC and the Google Summer of Code website.

        We encourage people who are elegible for Outreachy and GSoC to submit their application to both programs.

      • OpenDaylight Neon Released, Debian Welcomes Applications for Outreachy and GSoC, Odroid-N2 SBC Now on Sale, CloudFlare Launches BoringTun and RaspAnd Pie 9 Now Available

        Debian is welcoming applicants for Outreachy and GSoC. The application period for the May 2019 to August 2019 round of Outreachy has been extended until April 2, and Debian offers the following projects: “Continuous Integration for biological applications inside Debian”, “Debian Continuous Integration: user experience improvements” and “Reproducible Builds”. See Debian’s Outreachy Wiki page for more information on how to apply. The application period for Google Summer of Code is open until April 9th. Students should see Debian’s GSoC Wiki for more information on how to submit their applications.

      • Jonathan Carter: Fun and Debian

        When I started working on my DPL platform, I read through some platforms of recent years. Many of them made some mention of either making Debian a more fun project to contribute to, or keeping it so, even to the point where it has been considered a cliché. Recently, Lucas Nussbaum (DPL between 2013 and 2015), posted a list of DPL roles as he sees it, listing “Keep Debian fun and functional” as responsibility #0, so we know that it’s generally expected from the DPL to help make Debian a good project to be part of and contribute to.

        In Marga’s platform that I linked above, she delves into what exactly “more fun” would mean. Oddly enough, few platforms which mentions ‘making Debian fun’ as a goal actually do that, which is also why I chose to be more specific in my platform about changes that I’d like to promote instead of just using a blanket term such as “make Debian more fun”.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Snap startup time improvements

            The inclusion of fc-cache binaries in snapd 2.36.2 onwards introduces significant (2-6x) improvements in GUI application startup times. The results are applicable for both Ubuntu and non-Ubuntu platforms. Snaps users across different Linux distributions should be able to see immediate, positive differences in the loading of their snaps. The exact figures will depend on the application type, usage patterns and, to a lesser extent, the underlying hardware platform choice.

            We believe our testing with Vscode provides a good, indicative example of a complex GUI tool. The reduced application loading times on first run should translate into a more streamlined and enjoyable user experience. If you have any feedback or suggestions on this topic, please join our forum for a discussion.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Beta Now Available For Testing With Linux 5.0 + GNOME Shell 3.32 Experience

            Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” beta images have begun surfacing this evening as the first official test release (sans the generally great daily ISOs) for those wanting to begin testing this next six-month installment of Ubuntu Linux ahead of its official mid-April debut.

            Ubuntu 19.04 is shaping up to be a great update, in large part thanks to using many GNOME 3.32 components for its default (X.Org-based) desktop experience. GNOME 3.32 is a really great release from performance enhancements to bug fixes. Separate from GNOME, Ubuntu 19.04 is running around ~8% faster than 18.10 based upon our testing thus far.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) Beta Released with Linux Kernel 5.0 and GNOME 3.32

            Powered by the recently released Linux 5.0 kernel and the GNOME 3.32 desktop environment, the Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) operating system is now available for beta testing as users can download live and installable images to test drive the upcoming release on their personal computer and give feedback to Canonical.

            Ubuntu 19.04 is also packed with up-to-date components, including GCC 8.3, Glibc 2.29, Boost 1.67, rustc 1.31, Python 3.7.2, Ruby 2.5.3, PHP 7.2.15, Perl 5.28.1, Golang 1.10.4, libvvirt 5.0, QEMU 3.1, and OpenJDK 11. It also features the latest Mozilla Firefox 66.0 web browser and LibreOffice 6.2.2 office suite installed by default.

          • Xubuntu 19.04 Beta Run Through

            In this video, we look at Xubuntu 19.04 Beta.

          • Ubuntu MATE: Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Beta 1

            Ubuntu MATE 19.04 is a modest upgrade over previous releases. If you want bug fixes and improved hardware support then 19.04 is for you.

            We are preparing Ubuntu MATE 19.04 (Disco Dingo) for distribution on April 18th, 2018 With this Beta pre-release, you can see what we are trying out in preparation for our next (stable) version.

          • Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Beta Run Through

            In this video, we look at Xubuntu 19.04 Beta.

          • Ubuntu Kylin 19.04 Beta Run Through

            In this video, we look at Xubuntu 19.04 Beta.

          • Ubuntu Budgie 19.04 Beta Run Through

            In this video, we look at Xubuntu 19.04 Beta.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Beta Run Through

            In this video, we look at Xubuntu 19.04 Beta.

          • Lubuntu 19.04 Beta Run Through

            In this video, we look at Xubuntu 19.04 Beta.

          • Kubuntu 19.04 Beta Run Through

            In this video, we look at Xubuntu 19.04 Beta.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • CloudFlare Launches “BoringTun” As Rust-Written WireGuard User-Space Implementation

    Add CloudFlare to the list of companies interested in WireGuard as an open-source, next-gen secure network tunnel solution. CloudFlare even ended up writing their own user-space implementation of WireGuard in the Rust programming language, meet BoringTun.

  • 9 open source tools for building a fault-tolerant system

    I’ve always been interested in web development and software architecture because I like to see the broader picture of a working system. Whether you are building a mobile app or a web application, it has to be connected to the internet to exchange data among different modules, which means you need a web service.

    If you use a cloud system as your application’s backend, you can take advantage of greater computing power, as the backend service will scale horizontally and vertically and orchestrate different services. But whether or not you use a cloud backend, it’s important to build a fault-tolerant system—one that is resilient, stable, fast, and safe.

    To understand fault-tolerant systems, let’s use Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Netflix as examples. Millions and billions of users access these platforms simultaneously while transmitting enormous amounts of data via peer-to-peer and user-to-server networks, and you can be sure there are also malicious users with bad intentions, like hacking or denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. Even so, these platforms can operate 24 hours a day and 365 days a year without downtime.

  • Events

    • KDAB at ACCU, Bristol

      ACCU is the foremost annual conference in the UK for people interested in C++ and C, and runs from Wednesday the 10th to Saturday 13th April at the Bristol Marriott City Centre Hotel, with pre-conference tutorials on April 9th.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Scroll Anchoring in Firefox 66

        Firefox 66 was released on March 19th with a feature called scroll anchoring.

        It’s based on a new CSS specification that was first implemented by Chrome, and is now available in Firefox.

        Have you ever had this experience before?

        You were reading headlines, but then an ad loads and moves what you were reading off the screen.

        Or how about this?!

        You rotate your phone, but now you can’t find the paragraph that you were just reading.

        There’s a common cause for both of these issues.

  • Databases

    • 7 Best Free Linux Document-Oriented Databases

      A database is a collection of records or data that is stored in a computer system. Database tools and applications are designed to help you store and manage data in a controlled and structured manner. A database is a vital system for any organisation that stores mission critical information. The continual failure of a company’s database system will inevitably lead to the demise of the organisation; companies cannot function without a fully working database system.

      There are a number of different types of database. The most popular choice in storing data such as personal information, financial records, and medical records is the relational database management system. This type of system makes use of common ‘keys’ to tie related information together with data being manipulated with the SQL data definition and query language. SQL has many strengths for querying data. However, there are some disadvantages inherent in SQL. For example, SQL does not scale horizontally particularly well.

      There are other types of databases available in situations where relational databases are not well suited. Document-oriented databases are particular strong in situations where horizontal scalability is required. As your database grows, additional servers or resources from the cloud can be added thereby avoiding the need to use expensive supercomputers.

      Document-based databases do not store data in tables with uniform sized fields for each record. Instead, each record is stored as a document without the need to define in advance the schema of the data. This means that any number of fields of any length can be added to a document. JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) objects are frequently used in document-oriented databases. This type of database operates on something similar to distributed hash tables.

    • PostgreSQL Finally Lands Support For “REINDEX CONCURRENTLY”

      REINDEX CONCURRENTLY allows for read/write operations to still happen on the parent table while a reindexing operation is happening. This option will basically create a new index and then replaces the existing index at the very end of the operation. The ability to support REINDEX CONCURRENTLY was something that was talked a lot about in 2012~2013 (and their TODO entry for it dates back to 2008) while waking up today it was a surprise to see this commit land in PostgreSQL Git.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice monthly recap: March 2019

      Check out our regular summary of events and updates in the last month!

    • LibreOffice is now on Mastodon social media

      You may have seen that we have Twitter accounts for LibreOffice and The Document Foundation – and now, we’re on Mastodon too!

      But what is Mastodon, you may ask? Well, it’s an open source social media platform that’s self-hosted and federated. Instead of everything being controlled by a single company,

  • Public Services/Government

    • Reuse award for Denmark’s OS2 open source community

      Denmark’s Minister for Public Sector Innovation has awarded the Genbrugprisen (Reuse Award) of DKK 100,000 (about EUR 13,000) to the OS2 community, honouring the municipalities’ development of reusable ICT solutions.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • As Elsevier Falters, Wiley Succeeds in Open-Access Deal Making [iophk: "falsely attributes decline due to 'leakage' rather than sky-high, and rising, pricing"]

        Under the new agreement, which lasts for three years and commences in July, researchers at DEAL-represented institutions will be able to both publish open-access articles and read any papers in the publisher’s journals for a single fee. The final sum will depend on the total number of articles published by German researchers, which, according to the contract, is expected to amount to 9,500 papers per year and cost €26,125,000 (around $29.5 million USD) annually.

  • Programming/Development

    • Front-line programmers default to insecure practices unless they are instructed to do otherwise

      A new study conducted by University of Bonn researchers gives an inkling: front-line developers working as freelancers default to incredibly insecure practices unless their clients know enough to demand better ones.

    • PyCharm IDE Community And Professional Edition For Ubuntu/Linux Mint

      PyCharm is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) specially used for Python programming language. It is cross-platform available for Linux, Mac and Windows, and developed by JetBrains and offers two versions community edition and professional edition. It provides code analysis, a graphical debugger, an integrated unit tester, integration with version control systems (VCSes), and supports web development with Django.
      The Community Edition is released under the Apache License, and the Professional Edition released under a proprietary license – this has extra features. Both editions let you write neat and maintainable code while the IDE helps you keep quality under control with PEP8 checks, testing assistance, smart refactorings, and a host of inspections. PyCharm is designed by programmers, for programmers, to provide all the tools you need for productive Python development.

    • Python Is the Most Asked-About Language On Stack Overflow

      I bet most programmers cannot imagine life without Stack Overflow. The Q&A site for coding has received millions of programming queries since its creation and JavaScript was the most queried language on the platform, until now.

      According to a Global App Testing report, Python has overtaken JavaScript as the most questioned programming language on Stack Overflow.

    • POCL 1.3 Is On The Way For The Portable Computing Language

      POCL, the “Portable CL” implementation for allowing OpenCL kernels to be executed on CPUs among other use-cases, is closing in on its version 1.3 release.

      Over the POCL 1.2 release that came out towards the end of last year, POCL 1.3 RC1 has support for the new LLVM/Clang 8.0 compiler stack. LLVM/Clang continues doing much of the heavy-lifting for POCL and this new release works in conjunction with the latest LLVM interfaces. POCL 1.3 RC1 also has initial support for the installable client driver (ICD) on macOS.

    • What’s New In The Coding World?

      Coding is a fundamental activity for software developers and programmers all over the world. There are literally hundreds of programming languages. This makes coding an exciting activity. The type of program that’s created largely depends on the programmer’s imagination. Moreover, there’s always something new in the world of programming.

      [...]

      There is immense potential in the developments which are possible in the field of computer science. They are led by researchers, computer scientists, and enthusiasts. Biochemical processing, light-based computation, and chemical circuits are all now a reality. We look forward to many more groundbreaking innovations in the near future. As a matter of fact, computers could be just as powerful as our minds over time!

    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 17: Variable Initialization

      Initialization of variables is something which we have been doing throughout this ongoing C programming tutorial series so far, but we never really discussed it explicitly. Well, that changes now as we’ll be discussing variable initialize in a bit of detail here.

    • A JIT in Time…

      It’s been a different 3 months. For over 6 years I had been working almost exclusively on the GNU toolchain with a focus on glibc and I now had the chance of working on a completely different set of projects, something I had done a lot of during my Red Hat technical support days but not since. I was to look into Pypy, OpenJDK and LuaJIT, three very different projects with very different development styles, communities and technologies. The comparison of these projects among themselves and the GNU projects is an interesting point but not the purpose of this post, maybe some other day. In this post I want to talk about the project I spent the most time on (~1.5 months) and found to be technically the most intriguing: LuaJIT.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Educators Can Dismantle Oppression in Their Classrooms. Here’s How.

      Young people learn best in classrooms where they feel valued, and where the social and emotional aspects of their development are prioritized by teachers and other adults tasked with their care, according to a new report by the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. This finding is hardly surprising, as few adults thrive in settings where they feel devalued. Indeed, few adults look back on their own childhood without some disdain for the teachers who made them feel invisible — or worse, targeted. And few adults look back on their school years without genuine fondness for the teachers who made them feel special — or, even better, loved. While the creation of loving classrooms benefits all children, the Aspen Institute found that creating a classroom culture centered on the whole child “disproportionally benefits children from low-income communities.”

      Creating a classroom culture that values marginalized children has been fairly impossible in school systems that are rooted in institutionalized classism, racism, sexism and other biases. The history of public education in this country is one of exclusion and disenfranchisement. Policy decisions regarding education access consistently reasserted the privilege of wealthy white Protestants. Changing the power structure that enabled unequal schooling is a revolutionary, multifaceted project of which professional development is one component.

  • Hardware

    • Apple apologizes for continued reliability problems with its MacBook keyboards

      iFixit found Apple’s solution to be an improvement in defending against debris, but it was far from perfect, with particles like sand still able to get through and jam up the butterfly mechanism. But reports of key problems have persisted even with the third-generation keyboard. Stern wrote her column without the letters E and R to illustrate how annoying the problem is. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber similarly held back no punches when linking to the Journal’s story. He said “I consider these keyboards the worst products in Apple history. MacBooks should have the best keyboards in the industry; instead they’re the worst. They’re doing lasting harm to the reputation of the MacBook brand.”

    • Once again, Apple isn’t following its own advertising rules

      Why won’t Apple follow its own rules? That’s the question running through my mind right now, as I write a post for The Verge about how — for the fourth time in four months — Apple is promoting its own content in ways that are forbidden to Apple’s own developers.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Americans Being Decimated by the Opioid Crisis

      Drug overdoses killed 700,000 people in the United States between 1999 and 2017, and more than two-thirds of those deaths were the result of opioids. This week, the state of Oklahoma won a landmark $270 million settlement against one of the world’s largest manufacturers of prescription opioids, Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family. While the Sackler name doesn’t appear on Purdue’s pill bottles, it does adorn many prestigious museums and academic buildings around the world. Aggressive marketing of Purdue’s products, including its signature addictive drug, OxyContin, made billions of dollars for the Sacklers, some of which they gave to places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Tate museums in London. Now, the tide is turning, thanks in part to legal action like the one in Oklahoma — the lawsuits against Purdue and the Sacklers now number close to 2,000 — and creative protest campaigns at some of the museums that the Sacklers have funded.

      Meanwhile, the opioid epidemic has continued to grow, expanding from prescription opioids like OxyContin to include heroin and now fentanyl. The epidemic knows no boundaries, affecting people across class and race lines. But, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, two of the leading risk factors for becoming addicted to opioids, and potentially dying of an overdose, are living in a rural area and being poor. Native American reservations in the United States meet both criteria. It is no surprise that the opioid epidemic has hit indigenous populations especially hard.

      “The number one disease that our people suffer from is anonymity or invisibility,” Stacy Bohlen, citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and CEO of the National Indian Health Board, said on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. “You’re looking at very vulnerable populations of people, very vulnerable health care systems, that are funded below 50 percent of need.” According to the CDC, drug overdoses among rural Native Americans and Native Alaskans, between 1999 and 2015, increased by 519 percent, more than twice the national average. That number itself is likely too low, as native people are often miscategorized ethnically or racially.

    • ‘Verdict Is In’: Monsanto Found Liable for Man’s Cancer, Ordered to Pay $80 Million in Damages

      “The jury resoundingly held Monsanto accountable for its 40 years of corporate malfeasance and sent a message to Monsanto that it needs to change the way it does business,” said the legal team of 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) in 2015 after using Roundup on his property for more than two decades.

      “It is clear from Monsanto’s actions that it does not care whether Roundup causes cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about Roundup,” Hardeman’s lawyers added.

      Earlier this month, the San Francisco jury ruled that Roundup was a “substantial factor” in the development of Hardeman’s cancer.

      In its Wednesday ruling, the jury said Monsanto—which was acquired by German pharmaceutical giant Bayer last year—should be held liable for failing to give sufficient warnings about Roundup’s cancer risks.

      “Clearly, the testimony that informed the jury’s decision was Bayer-Monsanto hiding Roundup’s carcinogenic properties, manipulating the science, and cozying up with EPA so it would not have to warn consumers of its dangerous product,” Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement.

    • As Thousands Lose Coverage, Judge Blocks ‘Inhumane’ Medicaid Work Requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky

      “Putting restrictions on anyone’s healthcare is inhumane. And the racist intent of work requirements for Medicaid should be apparent. Let’s make healthcare a right for everyone,” wrote Chuck Idelson of National Nurses United.

      In his twin rulings, Judge James E. Boasberg found that the Trump administration failed to adequately consider the coverage losses that would result from imposing work requirements on Medicaid recipients.

      Jane Perkins, legal director of the National Health Law Program, said it is “nonsensical and illegal to add obstacles to Medicaid for large groups of individuals who are already working, or full-time healthcare providers for family members, or suffering chronic health matters.”

      “Work should not be a key to healthcare access,” Perkins added.

      Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tweeted: “All along this was a scheme to take away people’s healthcare, nothing more.”

    • Man Who Developed Cancer After Roundup Use Awarded More Than $80 Million in Damages

      Hardeman’s trial had been split into two parts. In the first, decided last week, the jury ruled that Hardeman’s use of the famous weedkiller, developed by Monsanto in the 1970s, contributed to his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. That decision meant the trial could move to the second phase of determining whether Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year, was liable. The jury decided Wednesday to award Hardeman $200,000 for medical expenses, $5.6 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages, AFP reported.

      “Today, the jury resoundingly held Monsanto accountable for its 40 years of corporate malfeasance and sent a message to Monsanto that it needs to change the way it does business,” Hardeman’s attorneys Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said in a statement.

    • Jury Slams Monsanto for Corporate Malfeasance in Roundup Cancer Trial, Awards $80 Million in Damages

      Today, a second jury in less that 8 months found Bayer-Monsanto’s signature weedkiller Roundup responsible for causing cancer.

    • A Healthcare Industry Built on Premature Death

      In Indiana, a school superintendent is facing three felony charges after using her son’s insurance in January to help a sick student access a doctor and prescription antibiotics. Dr. Casey Smitherman, who on February 1 resigned from Elwood Community School Corporation, has helped the 15-year-old student before, according to reports: She purchased his clothes, and even helped clean his house. This time, she had noticed his absence from school and took it upon herself to bring him to a medical center. In an apologetic public statement, the superintendent explained that she was aware that the student didn’t have insurance and so, out of concern for his well-being, wanted to do all she could “to help him get well.” Court documents reveal the total insurance claim was $233.

      Nearly one year ago, Dr. Smitherman was a celebrated presence in Elwood. In June of last year, she received a glowing profile in Indiana’s Herald Bulletin and enthusiastic approbation from James Snapp, Superintendent of the Brownsburg Community School Corporation. “I think in a time when our students were facing greater challenges with poverty increasing, Casey really connected with families, whether that was connecting them with the food pantry or the clothing pantry,” Snapp explained to The Herald Bulletin. Smitherman’s attitude was made explicit in this profile: “Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry and are scared to go home,” she told The Herald Bulletin. The number of children living in poverty in the state of Indiana is a staggering 301,000. In Smitherman’s district alone, at least 78 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches. The poverty rate in Elwood: 24.2 percent.

    • Trump’s Attacks on the ACA Could Worsen the Opioid Crisis

      Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway seemed to be playing damage control last week during a press call highlighting the White House’s efforts to address the nation’s opioid woes. While President Trump was busy defending his decision to declare a “national emergency” on the southern border, his administration came under fire for its milquetoast response to the overdose crisis. Trump declared a public health emergency back in 2017, but the White House did not release a national drug control strategy until January 2019, and federal auditors said it lacked measurable objectives for reducing opioid-related deaths and other hard numbers required by Congress. Lawmakers were furious, demanding the administration explain just what it is doing about the epidemic.

      Conway rattled off statistics about public awareness campaigns and controversial new federal guidelines for prescribing painkillers, but the meat of Trump’s public health response to opioids comes from a $6 billion package passed by Congress last year. With new authority from Congress, the Trump administration is expanding public spending on addiction treatment through Medicaid and other federal programs, according to senior administration officials. For example, one reform lifts restrictions on Medicaid funding for opioid disorder treatment in mental health facilities.

      “This is huge because it supports victims in the opioid crisis by removing a decades-old barrier to care by allowing state Medicaid programs to provide treatment at an institute for Medicaid patients with substance-use disorder for up to 30 days,” Conway said.

    • It’s the For-Profit Health Care Industry Telling Us We Can’t Afford Medicare for All

      The most important question about Medicare for All is a simple one: If other industrialized countries can afford to offer high-quality universal health care to their citizens, why can’t the United States?

      We’ve been fooled to believe that the USA requires a uniquely expensive, fragmented and administratively complex system of health care coverage. But that’s just plain wrong. In a seminal paper published in 2003, Uwe Reinhardt and Gerard Anderson found “it’s the prices, stupid” that set the U.S. health care system apart. It’s not that care in the United States is higher quality. Nor is it that we use more of it than other countries. This finding has been replicated in study after study.

      We have a more expensive health care system because many of our political leaders across party lines are not serving us, but rather the health care industry. Medicare for All would mean that the proverbial “pigs at the trough” of the $3.5 trillion health care system each have something (in the form of stock prices and paychecks) to lose.

      The political narrative invariably focuses on “the price tag” of Medicare for All. But, the question is never asked: Why can’t our political leaders negotiate American taxpayers a better deal? We are being ripped off. We pay more than any other economically developed countries pay for a night in the hospital. Our medications are so expensive that Canadian pharmacies have a side business in selling us our own U.S.–manufactured drugs at lower prices.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump meets with Google CEO to talk China, ‘political fairness’

      A spokesperson for the Joints Chiefs of Staff told The Hill that Trump’s meeting with Pichai was separate from the meeting with Dunford.

    • Trump Says He Met With Google’s Pichai, Talked Military and ‘Political Fairness’

      The meeting didn’t appear on Trump’s official schedule. Pichai planned a meeting Wednesday in Washington with General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to a person familiar with the matter. Google extended the invitation after Dunford criticized the search giant’s artificial intelligence work in China, which he said “indirectly benefits the military.”

      Trump said in a subsequent tweet that [...]

    • China Destroys 30,000 World Maps Showing ‘Problematic’ Borders of Taiwan and India

      At a press conference last week held jointly by the Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources, customs officials and the province of Shandong’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Anti-Vice Working Group and Provincial Press and Publication Bureau, authorities said 803 boxes containing 28,908 “problematic” maps were confiscated and destroyed. Among the reasons for their disposal were “problems such as border marking errors,” according to the ministry.

    • China destroys 30,000 ‘incorrect’ world maps

      Customs officials in China have destroyed 30,000 world maps printed in the country for not mentioning Arunachal Pradesh and Taiwan as part of its territory, according to a media report.

    • China destroys 29,000 maps showing Arunachal as part of India

      A total of 28,908 maps in 803 boxes were confiscated and destroyed by the Chinese customs in the eastern port city of Qingdao.

      The destroyed maps were produced by a company in east China’s Anhui province and were meant to be exported to an unspecified country whose name has not been revealed.

    • How to Make Yourself an Exception to the Rule of Law

      Events just fly by in the ever-accelerating rush of Trump Time, so it’s easy enough to miss important ones in the chaos. Paul Manafort is sentenced twice and indicted a third time! Whoosh! Gone! The Senate agrees with the House that the United States should stop supporting Saudi Arabia in Yemen (and Mitch McConnell calls this attempt to extricate the country from cooperation in further war crimes “inappropriate and counterproductive”)! Whoosh! Gone! Twelve Republican senators cross party lines to overturn Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border, followed by the president’s veto! Whoosh! Gone! Delegates to the March 2019 U.N. Environment Assembly meeting agree to a non-binding but important resolution drastically reducing the production of single-use plastic. The United States delegation, however, succeeds in watering down the final language lest it “endorse the approach being taken in other countries, which is different than our own”! Once again, the rest of the world is briefly reminded of the curse of American exceptionalism and then, whoosh! Gone!

      Under the circumstances, it wouldn’t be surprising if you had missed the Associated Press report about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing that the United States “will revoke or deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel seeking to investigate alleged war crimes and other abuses committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.” In fact, said Pompeo, some visas may already have been denied or revoked, but he refused to “provide details as to who has been affected and who will be affected” (supposedly to protect the confidentiality of visa applicants).

      National Security Advisor John Bolton had already signaled such a move last September in a speech to the Federalist Society. In what the Guardian calledan “excoriating attack” on the International Criminal Court, or ICC, Bolton said, “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.”

    • Trump’s Green Light to Israel: First the Golan, Then the West Bank?

      When President Donald Trump moved the US embassy to occupied Jerusalem last year, effectively sabotaging any hope of establishing a viable Palestinian state, he tore up the international rulebook.

      Last week, he trampled all over its remaining tattered pages. He did so, of course, via Twitter.

      Referring to a large piece of territory Israel seized from Syria in 1967, Trump wrote: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability.”

      Israel expelled 130,000 Syrians from the Golan Heights in 1967, under cover of the Six Day War, and then annexed the territory 14 years later – in violation of international law. A small population of Syrian Druze are the only survivors of that ethnic cleansing operation.

    • Trump Wants to Give 62 Cents of Every Dollar to the Military. That’s Immoral

      Donald Trump recently unleashed his dark vision for our nation and our world, in the form of his budget request to Congress.

      A budget shows our values more clearly than any tweet, campaign speech or political slogan. It’s what marries detailed, dollar-and-cents policy decisions to deeper political—and moral—priorities.

      One set of moral priorities—a different one—would end our endless wars and use the vast wealth of this nation to end poverty and lead to true security for all of us. It would invest in healthcare, well-paying jobs, affordable higher education, safe drinking water and clean air for all of us.

      The proposed Trump budget drops bombs on that vision—almost literally.

      With this budget, Trump takes more than $1tn in taxpayer money and disperses fully $750bn to the military. Out of every taxpayer dollar, in other words, 62 cents go to the military and our militarized Department of Homeland Security. (Veterans’ benefits take another seven cents.)

    • ‘Every War Is a War Against Children’

      At 9:30 in the morning of March 26, the start of the fifth year of the Saudi-led coalition war against Yemen, the entrance to a rural hospital in the northwest part of the country was teeming as patients waited to be seen and employees arrived at work. Suddenly, missiles from an airstrike hit the hospital, killing seven people, four of them children.

      Jason Lee of Save the Children, told The New York Times that the Saudi-led coalition, now in its fifth year of waging war in Yemen, knew the coordinates of the hospital and should have been able to avoid the strike. He called what happened “a gross violation of humanitarian law.”

      The day before, Save the Children reported that air raids carried out by the Saudi-led coalition have killed at least 226 Yemeni children and injured 217 more in just the last twelve months. “Of these children,” the report noted, “210 were inside or close to a house when their lives were torn apart by bombs that had been sold to the coalition by foreign governments.”

      Last year, an analysis issued by Save the Children estimated that 85,000 children under age five have likely died from starvation or disease since the Saudi-led coalition’s 2015 escalation of the war in Yemen.

    • Pelosi and McConnell Are Inching Us Closer to Nuclear War

      When Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell teamed up to invite NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to address a joint session of Congress, they had every reason to expect the April 3 speech to be a big hit with U.S. media and political elites. The establishment is eager to affirm the sanctity of support for the transatlantic military alliance.

      Huge reverence for NATO is matched by how dangerous NATO has become. NATO’s continual expansion — all the way to Russia’s borders — has significantly increased the chances that the world’s two nuclear superpowers will get into direct military conflict.

      But in the United States, when anyone challenges the continued expansion of NATO, innuendos or outright smears are likely.

      Two years ago, when the Senate debated whether to approve bringing Montenegro into NATO, the mud flew at Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky after he showed up to object. An infuriated Sen. John McCain declared on the Senate floor: “I have no idea why anyone would object to this, except that I will say — if they object, they are now carrying out the desires and ambitions of Vladimir Putin, and I do not say that lightly.”

      Moments later, when Paul said “I object,” McCain proclaimed: “The senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”

    • How Trump Just Gave Alabama to Iraq by Giving Syrian Golan to Israel

      The Trump administration’s illegal and unilateral recognition of Israeli annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights is an unfortunate return to the international jungle of the 1930s and 1940s, when Hitler annexed the Sudetenland and Mussolini annexed Nice from France.

      Trump’s policy is Nazi law, as so many of his policies are. His first wife Ivana maintained that Trump kept a copy of Hitler’s speeches on his bed stand. It was said as part of a nasty divorce. But it is, sadly, nevertheless plausible.

      The United Nations charter was crafted after World War II in an attempt to create a more just world order. One of the things the UN sought to do was to make aggressive warfare illegal, and to make annexation of other countries’ territory equally illegal.

    • EU and UN Security Council Members Rebuke Trump’s Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

      The European Union (EU) issued a statement on Wednesday reaffirming its position that the occupation is illegal.

      That came as members of the Security Council denounced Trump’s decision at a meeting convened at the request of Syria, which called the president’s move a “flagrant violation” of U.N. resolutions.

      Trump initially announced his decision to support Israeli sovereignty over the territory on Twitter last week—immediately provoking international condemnation. He finalized the new stance by signing an official proclamation on Monday, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House.

      “This unilateral action does nothing to assist in finding a long-term peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East,” South Africa’s U.N. Ambassador Jerry Matjila said at the Security Council meeting on Wednesday, as Al Jazeera reported.

    • Not Piracy But ‘A Matter of Survival’: Refugees Take Control of Ship Headed Back to ‘Hell’ in Libya

      Human rights advocates and other critics on Thursday called for empathy and aid for more than 100 refugees who took control of a tanker that had picked them up in the Mediterranean this week.

      The group reportedly commandeered the ship, a tanker name El Hiblu 1, and turn it toward Europe after realizing it was headed back to Libya, the country they had just left in hopes that they would be able to seek asylum in Europe. As the refugees were detained after arriving at a Maltese port Thursday, they were referred to as “pirates” by media outlets.

    • Venezualan Government Bars Guiado From Public Office for 15 Years

      The Venezuelan government on Thursday said it has barred opposition leader Juan Guaido from holding public office for 15 years, though the National Assembly leader brushed off the measure and said it would not derail his campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

      The announcement by state comptroller Elvis Amoroso, a close ally of Maduro, cited alleged irregularities in Guaido’s financial records and reflected a tightening of government pressure on an opposition movement backed by the United States and its allies.

      Guaido, who was elected to the assembly in 2015, has taken 90 international trips without accounting for the origin of the estimated $94,000 in expenses, Amoroso said. He also accused the opposition leader of harming Venezuela through his interactions with foreign governments, dozens of which support Guaido’s claim that he is interim president of the country.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • US: Actions against Assange and Manning set a dangerous precedent:

      ARTICLE 19 is concerned about continuous attempts to prosecute Julian Assange, founder and publisher of Wikileaks, for his work through the organisation, and about the recent detention of Chelsea Manning for her refusal to testify against Wikileaks. We believe these are efforts to criminalize whistleblowing and the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression, and will potentially create a chilling effect for the media and whistle-blowers at a global level. The US government must respect the right to freedom of expression in both cases, and ensure that anyone can publish information about serious human rights violations without fear of reprisal and prosecution.

      In November 2018, it was reported that the US prosecutors had obtained a sealed indictment against founder and publisher of Wikileaks, Julian Assange. A US federal court document, in an unrelated court filing, provided evidence that the US Department of Justice plans to seek Assange’s extradition from the United Kingdom. Previously, US officials have acknowledged that federal prosecutors have been conducting a lengthy criminal investigation into WikiLeaks. There is a potential that that Assange could be charged under the vaguely worded and overly broad WWI-era Espionage Act.

      [...]

      We also recall that the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 33/2 on the safety of journalist stipulates that “states must stop abusing legal frameworks to arbitrarily arrest or detain journalists, and release those in detention. Journalists are not safe if they face the threat of imprisonment for their reporting, and the risk of torture, which includes sexual and gender-based violence, whilst in detention.” The use of the Espionage Act to target Assange and Manning for their legitimate whistleblowing activities would amount to a violation of this standard.

      ARTICLE 19 calls on the US Government to refrain from prosecution of Julian Assange and anyone else in relation to Wikileaks publishing activities, and cease any efforts to seek his extradition. The Government must also immediately and unequivocally drop the case against Chelsea Manning and release her from detention.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Worse tropical winds will kill more trees

      Worse tropical winds will spell worse danger to forests, in a cycle that feeds on itself. Hurricane Maria, which in 2017 slammed into Puerto Rico, shut down the electricity supply for the entire US island of 3.3 million people, and claimed almost 3,000 lives. And it also killed or damaged at least 20 million trees, or possibly 40 million.

      If what happened in the track of Maria is a pointer to the future, then hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones will join drought, wildfire and men with chainsaws as a new threat to the world’s tropical forests, the biggest absorbers of carbon on the terrestrial surface.

      Living forests absorb carbon. Dying and decaying trees release greenhouse gases. The damage by Maria has already been estimated to have released 5.75 million tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere. This is about one-fortieth of all the carbon taken up by all the forests in the US.

    • Bleeding Trees for Forest Health?

      The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is arguing that we need more logging/thinning as a panacea for wildfire and forest health.

      It reminds me of the same approach that Medieval doctors took to illness. If a patient was sick, the solution was to “bleed” the “bad” blood from the individual. If the patient recovered, it was attributed to the removal of the tainted blood. If the patient died, apparently not enough blood was removed.

      The problem with bloodletting as a cure for a disease is twofold. First, illness is not due to “bad” blood. Secondarily, bloodletting often results in collateral damage like infections that ultimately kills the patient.

      Bloodletting did not succeed in curing disease because it failed to identify the real problem, so the proposed “cure” did not work. It is the same problem with proposals to log forests to reduce wildfire and “improve” forest health.

      The reason we are seeing more acres burning has to do with climate heating, not fuels build up as often suggested. Every large fire across the West is the result of extreme fire weather conditions. These include drought, high temperatures, low humidity, and most importantly high winds. I do not know of a single exception.

    • Study Links Air Pollution and Teenage Psychotic Experiences

      Air pollution has long been known to have a potentially deadly impact on the heart and lungs, but increasing evidence is showing it might be bad for the brain as well. Studies have linked it to dementia, and now, researchers at King’s College London have found the first evidence of an association between exposure to polluted air and experiences of psychosis in teens.

    • Teenage psychotic experiences more common in areas with high air pollution

      The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, provides a potential explanation for why growing up in cities is a risk factor for psychosis. This is the first time researchers have linked detailed geographical air pollution data with a representative sample of young people across the UK.
      Psychotic experiences, such as hearing voices and intense paranoia, are less extreme forms of symptoms experienced by individuals with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. While psychotic experiences are more common in adolescence than adulthood, young people who report psychotic experiences are more likely to go on to develop psychotic disorders, as well as a range of other mental health problems and suicide attempts.
      The researchers found that psychotic experiences were significantly more common among adolescents with the highest exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and very small particulate matter (PM2.5), even after accounting for known risk factors for psychosis. NO2 and NOx together accounted for 60% of the association between living in an urban environment and having adolescent psychotic experiences.
      Lead author Dr Joanne Newbury, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) who is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, says: ‘We found that adolescent psychotic experiences were more common in urban areas. While the study could not show pollutants caused adolescents to have psychotic experiences, our findings suggest that air pollution could be a contributing factor in the link between city living and psychotic experiences.’

    • Trump and Big Oil Want to Pull the Plug on the Electric Car Market

      President Trump’s proposed budget for 2020 would eliminate the federal tax credit for buyers of electric vehicles. The oil industry is backing the proposal, as well as a bill to impose a “user fee” — that is, a tax — on drivers of electric vehicles and trucks.

      Big Oil is panicked by the looming end to the domination of the U.S. transportation system by the internal combustion engine. The fear is justified.

    • Legume Gone: The Shocking Reasons for a Tree’s Extinction in India

      Around the world illegal sand mining — often run by vicious “sand mafias” — has been linked to black markets, violence and even murder. It’s the shadier side of a multibillion-dollar industry with a voracious appetite for minerals used in everything from construction to electronics to toothpaste.

      This criminal activity has already caused massive ecological problems wherever it occurs, and now the sand mafias appear to have contributed to something new: the extinction of a rare tree in coastal India.

      According to a paper published in March in the journal Phytotaxa, an exhaustive search along the coasts of Tamil Nadu, India’s southernmost state, has failed any evidence of a rare legume tree known as Vachellia bolei. Researchers have declared the species is “possibly extinct.”

      The paper itself blames “habitat destruction and other anthropogenic factors” for the possible extinction. That’s fairly general, but an email from the research team gets more specific.

      “We strongly believe that sand mining, illegal felling of trees and conversion of coastal sand dunes for cultivation might be the major reasons for the possible extinction of Vachellia bolei,” write the authors, K. Sampath Kumar, K. Kathiresan and S. Arumugam.

    • Green deputy leader backs Monbiot’s acclaim of ecocide campaigner

      Green Party of England and Wales deputy leader Amelia Womack [1] backed George Monbiot’s championing on Polly Higgins and her efforts to make ecocide a recognised international crime [2].

      Womack has worked with the End Ecocide campaign to work to collect a million signatures from across Europe for a European Citizens Initiative, and has spoken at press conferences for the campaign.

    • 4 Ways Local Solar Projects Benefit Cities

      When a city decides to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, headlines follow. But the work has only just begun. Cities have many options for generating and purchasing renewable electricity, each of which comes with distinct benefits and challenges.

    • “Tell That to the Families in Flint”: AOC Demolishes GOP Claim That Green New Deal Is “Elitist”

      On Tuesday, Congressmember Sean Duffy of Wisconsin suggested the Green New Deal only served the wealthy. New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shot back with a passionate defense of the Green New Deal. We feature her full speech.

    • Our Wounded Planet

      Should we save the planet or kill the enemy?

      Perhaps no question more succinctly separates the past from the future, or so it occurred to me after I read Rebecca Solnit’s stunning observation in a recent essay: that the mass murders in Christchurch, N.Z. on March 15 occurred on the same day, and in the same general area, as the climate strike young activists were holding in Christchurch as part of a global action, with rallies in well over a hundred countries involving tens of thousands of people.

      This juxtaposition was “also a perfectly coherent one, a clash of opposing ideologies,” Solnit wrote. “Behind the urgency of climate action is the understanding that everything is connected; behind white supremacy is an ideology of separation.”

      Everything is connected — insects, humanity, the oceans, the planet. The meaning and spiritual pull of these words is beyond simple comprehension. The propensity of molecules to unite led to cellular life, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin points out in The Phenomenon of Man, then adds: “Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being.”

    • Scott Walker to Head ‘Slow Moving Coup’ to Repeal-and-Replace U.S. Constitution

      Most Americans don’t realize it, but the United States didn’t always have a President. From 1781 to 1789, the nation was governed by the Articles of Confederation, which due to fears about creating another king put all the power in the hands of the states. This quickly became unworkable, so the states called for the Philadelphia Convention, where they disposed of the Articles of Confederation and drafted the Constitution of the United States.

      Yet the new document included a provision, Article V, stating that if two-thirds of the state legislatures agree, they can call another Constitutional Convention, where, like the original Philadelphia Convention, they can meet-up and create a new constitution.

      That would be a hard sell to most Americans, but what if the convention was narrowly sold as a way to force those rascals in Washington, D.C., to live within their means and pass a Balanced Budget Amendment? Who’s not concerned about the runaway national debt?

      That’s pretty much been the pitch of the awkwardly named Center for State-led National Debt Solutions (CSNDS), which in recent years, (thanks to some heavy lifting from the American Legislative Exchange Council), has quietly gotten twenty-eight of the thirty-four states necessary to sign-up under the auspices of passing a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA).

    • Swamp Monsters Crash Hearing as Senators Consider Oil Lobbyist Bernhardt For Interior Dept.

      Environmental activists raised concerns about Bernhardt even before he was confirmed as the agency’s second-in-command in 2017. Late last year, after Ryan Zinke resigned amid a flurry of scandals, Bernhardt assumed the role of acting secretary. In February, Trump nominated Bernhardt to the permanent role.

      More than 160 conservation groups came together earlier this week to call on the Senate to reject Bernhardt’s nomination.

      Martin Hayden, vice president of policy and legislation at Earthjustice, pointed out in a statement on Tuesday that, “as a lobbyist, Bernhardt’s client roster reads like a who’s who of the worst corporate polluters in the United States, from Taylor Energy to Halliburton.”

      “To confirm Bernhardt,” the Natural Resources Defense Council’s John Bowman warned, “is to hand over the future of our public lands, wildlife, waters, and everything they support to a man who made his living for decades attacking all of that to benefit the biggest industrial polluters on the planet.”

  • Finance

    • The Enormous Numbers Behind Amazon’s Market Reach

      Based on the current interpretation of U.S. antitrust law—which focuses on harm to consumers via predatory pricing—there’s little to suggest that such a corporate arrangement is illegal. Amazon, after all, preaches an almost maniacal focus on consumers and for decades has generally hewed to a core mission of offering customers more selection at lower prices.

      When confronted with calls for antitrust scrutiny, Amazon has stressed a few points that, strictly speaking, ring true. The company’s broad reach is not on its own an indication of market power. In just about every market Amazon has entered, it encounters well entrenched competitors, including some retailers who are finding success by blurring the line between online and offline commerce.

    • Mueller’s End Ratchets Up Pressure on Richard Neal to Request Trump’s Taxes

      In the coming days, advocates and lawmakers will fight to ensure that the findings of Mueller’s team are made public so that the American people may assess for themselves the results of the Special Counsel’s two-year investigation. Even as this important work unfolds, however, we must also acknowledge the limitations of the Special Counsel’s investigation. That’s why we renew our call from early January for Representative Richard Neal (D-MA) to perform his constitutional obligations and request Trump’s tax returns without any delay.

      As everyone from the progressive Netroots to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) had long noted, Mueller never seemed to view his prosecutorial ambit as including assessing Trump’s finances for either crimes or signs of foreign entanglement. Instead, Mueller seems to have respected Trump’s “redlines,” which undercuts the President’s claim to have been exonerated on any charge but for being provably guilty of an international criminal conspiracy.

    • Legalized Betting Could Change How We Watch Sports

      With sports betting legal in eight states, NCAA tournament brackets are more than a hobby for fantasy league fun, bragging rights and office pools. NCAA officials are now renewing efforts to address how sports gambling may affect game integrity, as ESPN reports.

      March is also Problem Gambling Awareness Month. The National Council on Problem Gambling, a nonprofit that advocates for programs for problem gamblers, notes that calls to their hotline increase by an average of 40 percent in March over previous months. Fans are expected to bet more than $10 billion on March Madness games, with 3 percent of wagers made legally through Nevada’s sports books.

      But would legalizing sports betting dry up those office pools? Maybe not. The Daily Herald’s Burt Constable argued in a recent column that “it’s more fun losing money to a co-worker than to a giant gambling institution.”

    • Ziggy May’s Brexit Deal From Mars

      A rightwing UK paper, like its American counterparts, is expected as a taken-for-granted formality to deliver the propaganda goods for whichever rightwing leader is in situ.

      Something therefore is in the air. But what is its basis, and what on earth is Ukania doing about Brexit?

      The Tories, who have been in charge of Brexit from the moment their ex-prime minister “Dodgy Dave” Cameron called for the referendum on leaving the EU, have never been serious about the complex processes involved in divorcing from Brussels.

      The Tories are hopelessly divided on Brexit (duh!), which creates a fatal situational opposition between splitting their party (perhaps irrevocably) and achieving a Brexit deal in the purported national interest.

      No one reflects these divisions more than May. She first voted Remain in the referendum. Then when Dodgy Dave bailed on politics rather than face the consequences of his disastrous referendum, she became prime minister by a vote within her own party (without being ratified by voters at a general election), and pushed initially for a soft Brexit.

    • Trump’s 2020 Budget Rewards the Wealthiest Individuals

      Donald Trump’s 2020 budget proposal represents the wildest version of neoliberalism yet. It is just the latest evidence that the United States has become a plutocracy run by an oligarchical elite bent on destroying the last vestiges of a democratic polity.

      Trump’s fiscal budget proposal threatens to exacerbate all of the major problems facing the U.S. economy and society today “in order to fund more goodies for the wealthy,” according to radical political economist Gerald Epstein. In this interview with Truthout, Epstein — the co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute and a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst — discusses why the Trump budget proposal is a blatant power grab, why we need to think about economics beyond GDP growth, and why the U.S. government is incurring more debt that does not even begin to address the problems the country faces.

    • Illinois Manufacturing Workers Locked Out and Fired for One-Hour Strike

      As the sun was still rising last Friday morning, employees from Headly Manufacturing outside of Chicago participated in a 6:00 a.m. hour-long unfair labor practice strike. But when the approximately 25 workers tried to return to their jobs, they were locked out of the building, unable to complete what was many of their last days or collect their final paychecks.

      According to a press release from the workers’ justice organization Arise Chicago, Headly had threatened individual employees that they would be fired, which inspired them to take collective action.

      “We strike for ourselves because we don’t have anything to support our families, because we need our jobs to put food on the table,” striking worker Mario Albor told In These Times. “Right now, we don’t have jobs. We don’t know what to do.”

      For seven years, Albor has worked for the Broadview-based Headly Manufacturing, which produces precision-drawn metal stamps. He said he was laid off with many of his co-workers with no written explanation. Headly did not return phone and email requests for comment from In These Times.

    • Russian federal agents detain former Khabarovsk Governor and Presidential Envoy Viktor Ishaev for stealing money from Rosneft

      Federal agents have detained Viktor Ishaev, the former governor of Khabarovsk and the Kremlin’s former envoy to Russia’s Far Eastern Federal District. Russia’s Investigative Committee says Ishaev was detained on suspicion of stealing money from the oil company Rosneft. According to investigators, between 2014 and 2017, when Ishaev served as a vice president at Rosneft, a company he owns leased 280 square meters of office space to Rosneft at an inflated price. The case is being investigated as large-scale fraud. Federal investigators have asked a judge to place Ishaev under house arrest.

    • Blockchain 2.0 – Explaining Smart Contracts And Its Types [Part 5]

      This is the 5th article in Blockchain 2.0 series. The previous article of this series explored how can we implement Blockchain in real estate.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Actual Collusion

      In 2002 and 2003 corporate media idiots speculated that secular socialist Saddam Hussein might give nukes that he didn’t and couldn’t have to radical Islamists who wanted to kill him. That story wasn’t true. Worse than that, it couldn’t have been true. I said it over and over and over. So did others.

      But we skeptics were outsiders. Corporate media’s strict idiots-only hiring policy keeps journalists-as-stenographers, propagandists and broken-brain logic-haters employed by censoring those of us who are always right. The idiots’ idiotic lies about WMDs justified a war that left more than a million Iraqis dead.

      Corporate media didn’t fire their idiots after the WMD fiasco. Why would they? They were in the war business and the suck-up-to-government business. Had they been in the truth business, losing their credibility might have mattered.

      Idiots gonna idiot. So it’s no surprise that in 2016 the same corporate media morons fabricated another conspiracy theory so outlandish that not only was it obviously untrue, it could not possibly have been true—and that it would again have devastating real-world consequences.

      Russiagate was a propaganda campaign waged by the Democratic Party and its media allies with a daily blizzard of overheated speculation that Russia installed Donald Trump as its stooge by hacking the 2016 presidential election. Several years and millions of dollars later, special counsel Robert Mueller has concluded that it didn’t happen.

      Of course it didn’t happen. It couldn’t have happened.

    • Why the Mueller Investigation was Good for the Country

      The Mueller investigation was fully worth it, despite its conclusions. In early 2017, with a clearly corrupt president in place, but both houses of Congress dominated by the Republicans, there would have been no way to launch a legislative-branch inquiry into his misdeeds. The Special Prosecutor’s probe served as a fortuitous substitute.

      Even though it was implausible from the start that collusion with Russia by Trump and his team swung the election, there were enough signs of deals with Russian political operatives and business figures to justify a probe. The appointment of a Department of Justice Special Prosecutor, though not initiated by the Democrats, was a gift to them.

      During the administration’s initial two-year period, although the Democrats were out of power, Trump was under a cloud. The Special Prosecutor’s appointment was not based on a phony pretext – Russians had been involved in the election and Trump and his cohorts had encouraged them, although the Americans’ efforts were eventually judged by Mueller not to be criminal. In the course of the investigation, all manner of gangsterish tactics, sleazy cover-ups, and actual crimes were disclosed by Mueller and his counterparts in the Southern District of New York. Though almost none of them directly related to the ostensible subject of the probe, they compromised and unsettled Trump.

    • Europe Confronts a Cliff

      As the campaigns for the European Parliament get underway, some of the traditional lines that formerly divided left, right, and center are shifting, making it harder to easily categorize political parties.

      In Italy, a right-wing coalition calls for a guaranteed income, larger pensions, and resistance to the heavy-handed austerity programs enforced by the European Union (EU). In France, some right-wing groups champion the fight against climate change, decry exploitation of foreign workers, and growing economic inequality.

      In contrast, Europe’s political center seems paralyzed in the face of growing disillusionment with the economic policies of the EU. Even the social democratic center-left defends doctrines that have alienated its former base among unions and working people, pushing such parties to the political margins.

      If voters seem confused, one can hardly blame them, which is not good news for the left and the center-left going into the May 23-26 elections. Polls show center-right and center-left parties, which have dominated the EU Parliament since it first convened in 1979, will lose their majority. Parties that are increasingly skeptical of the organization may win as many as a third of the seats in the 705-seat body.

    • Trump’s 2015 Candidacy Speech Was a Warning of What Would Come

      Having taken another look at that first speech, I now think of the Trump era so far as the 47-minute presidency. It’s nothing short of wondrous just how strikingly that de-escalatory ride and the Trumpian verbal strip tease that followed before a cheering crowd revealed, point by point, the essence of his presidency to come. And by the way, it was certainly indicative of that future presidency that the audience (reporters aside) listening to him in the lobby of Trump Tower seems largely to have been made up of out-of-work actors being paid $50 a pop to cheer him on. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the email sent out by Extra Mile Casting to recruit those extras read in part: “We are looking to cast people for the event to wear t-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement. We understand this is not a traditional ‘background job,’ but we believe acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of thought.”

    • The 47-Minute Presidency

      Recently, I did something rare in my life. Over a long weekend, I took a few days away and almost uniquely — I might even say miraculously — never saw Donald Trump’s face, since I didn’t watch TV and barely checked the news. They were admittedly terrible days in which 50 people were slaughtered in New Zealand. Meanwhile, the president indulged in another mad round of tweeting, managing in my absence to lash out at everything and everyone in sight (or even beyond the grave) from John McCain, Saturday Night Live, and the Mueller “witch hunt” to assorted Democrats and even Fox News for suspending host Jeanine Pirro’s show. In his version of the ultimate insult, he compared Fox to CNN. And I was blissfully ignorant of it all, which left me time to finally give a little thought to… Donald Trump.

      And when I returned, on an impulse, I conjured up the initial Trumpian moment of our recent lives. I’m aware, of course, that The Donald first considered running for president in the Neolithic age of 1987. He tried to register and trademark “Make America Great Again,” a version of an old Reagan campaign slogan, only days after Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election to a charismatic, young, black senator. He then rode that new president’s “birth certificate” into the post-Apprentice public spotlight amid a growing wave of racism in a country founded on slavery that has never truly grappled with that fact.

      Still, the 47 minutes and eight seconds that I was thinking about took place more recently. On June 16, 2015, Donald and Melania Trump stepped onto a Trump Tower escalator and rode it down to the pounding beat of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” (a song the singer would soon demand, without success, that the presidential hopeful not use). A minute and a half later, they arrived in the Trump Tower lobby. There, a clapping Ivanka greeted her father with a kiss on each cheek — the first signal of the corporatist, family-style presidency to come. Then, The Donald stepped to the microphone and promptly launched his run into fake-news history.

      Sometimes, the only way to go forward, or at least know where you are in the present, is to go back. Yes, Donald Trump garnered much news with his announcement that day and was already visibly having the time of his life, but no one in or out of the media then thought he had a shot at being president. Even he was only burnishing his brand. As Michael Wolff reported in his book Fire and Fury, even on election night 2016, almost a year and a half later, with the possible exception of Steve Bannon, no one in the Trump camp, including The Donald, had the slightest expectation of his winning the presidency. All of them were just burnishing their future brands.

    • Cohen Payment Kerfuffle Forces AT&T To Be Slightly More Transparent About Lobbying

      Though it kind of flew under the radar given countless other scandals, you might recall how Trump fixer and former lawyer Michael Cohen was also busted selling access to the President. One of the companies involved in this particular aspect of Cohen’s grift was AT&T, which was found to have doled out $600,000 to Cohen, presumably under the belief that it would gain additional access and influence.

      AT&T’s received more than a few favors in the Trump administration since, including an FCC willing to self-immolate on lobbyist demand, and the death of both broadband privacy and net neutrality rules at the agency. Not to mention the Trump tax cuts, which netted AT&T more than $20 billion up front, and at least $3 billion in savings annually in perpetuity. And while the Trump DOJ did sue to thwart the AT&T Time Warner merger, that may have had more to do with Trump’s close ties to Rupert Murdoch — and Trump’s disdain for CNN — than any animosity toward AT&T.

      Aside from AT&T throwing top policy man Bob Quinn under the bus for behavior AT&T has engaged in for years, AT&T saw little to nothing in the form of accountability. Amusingly, the little accountability they did witness came courtesy of AT&T’s own investors. After the Cohen fiasco highlighted the secretive costs of AT&T’s influence machine, some investors pushed AT&T for more transparency.

    • Russian singer who worked with Trump team on Miss Universe and Trump Tower Moscow speaks out about Mueller investigation

      When the musician and entrepreneur Emin Agalarov first read about the conclusions of the so-called Mueller probe, he was pleasantly unsurprised. “We were very glad, of course,” Agalarov told the Russian-language investigative outlet The Bell. But, he added, “we always knew that would be the result. I mean, I was the one who organized that fantastical meeting [with attorney Natalya Veselnitskaya], and I know what it was all really like.”

      [...]

      After visiting the Miss America competition in Las Vegas in June of 2013, the Agalarovs hosted Miss Universe in November of that same year. The pair had recently opened a new Moscow mega-venue, Crocus City Hall, and hoped to attract partnerships and investment as a result of the partnership. While Agalarov said the result was ultimately a $2 million loss, Trump’s 2013 visit to the Russian capital became an explosive point of interest in the timeline of his relationship with the Russian government.

      “Naturally, when he got to Russia, Trump asked whether Putin would be there, whether we invited him,” Emin Agalarov told The Bell. “We said, of course, that we did.” As a competition with a large global audience, Agalarov reasoned, Miss Universe merited the attention of Putin himself. However, in the two days during which the singer said he accompanied Trump around the city, Putin ultimately spent his time meeting with the king of Jordan. “If I’m not mistaken,” Agalarov explained, “my father passed an invitation along to Putin through his press secretary, and either he or someone else from the presidential administration said the president would have liked to come but couldn’t.” The singer said he did organize a “meet and greet” for Trump with employees of the state-owned Sberbank but that “no business came out of it” in the end. He called American media speculation about a near-run-in between Trump and Putin in 2013 “some kind of conspiracy theory” and said the Steele dossier describing Trump’s Moscow visit was “a piece of total absurdity with no foundation underneath.”

    • Trump-Linked Christian Fundamentalists Are Pouring Dark Money Into Europe, Boosting the Far Right

      ccording to a new analysis released by openDemocracy, Christian-right fundamentalists linked to the Trump administration and Steve Bannon are among a dozen American groups that have poured at least $50 million of dark money into Europe over the last decade.

      Between them, these groups have backed armies of ultra-conservative lawyers and political activists, as well as so-called family values campaigns against LGBTQ rights, sex education and abortion—and a number appear to have increasing links with Europe’s far right.

    • Progressive Caucus Rips DCCC Attack on Primary Challengers as ‘Slap in the Face of Democratic Voters’

      “This unprecedented grab of power is a slap in the face of Democratic voters across the nation,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), the first-vice chair of the CPC, said in a statement to The Intercept after a closed-door meeting with DCCC chair Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.).

      According to Politico, the meeting—also attended by CPC co-chairs Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.)—became “heated” as the progressive leaders said the DCCC’s rules would “blackball” important progressive vendors and strategists.

      “It’s something even [former DCCC chair] Rahm Emanuel would not have done and is totally tone-deaf to the grassroots activists across our nation,” Khanna said. “Let’s be clear. If this policy remains in place, it will mean that we will not allow new Ayanna Pressleys or AOCs to emerge. It’s simply wrong.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook moves to ban white nationalist and separatist content on its platform

      According to Motherboard, the new policy was agreed upon by members of Facebook’s Content Standards Forum yesterday.

      Under the new policy, anyone searching for racist content or phrases like “Heil Hitler” will be directed to the Life After Hate organization which provides services for former white supremacists and extremists like educational resources, support groups, and crisis intervention.

    • Facebook to Ban White Nationalism and White Separatism

      The social media giant’s policies have long excluded posts on white supremacy, but Facebook said it didn’t apply the same lens to expressions of white nationalism because it wanted to be able to include “broader concepts” of nationalism such as American pride and Basque separatism, which are linked to people’s identity.

    • Will Facebook’s New Ban on White Nationalist Content Work?

      The odyssey to this moment started last May, when Motherboard published excerpts of leaked internal training documents for Facebook moderators that outlined the platform’s stance on white nationalism, white separatism, and white supremacy. In short, Facebook banned white supremacist content, but allowed white separatist and white nationalist content because it “doesn’t seem to be always associated with racism (at least not explicitly.)” The company later argued it couldn’t institute a global rule forbidding white nationalism and separatism because it would inadvertently ensnare other, legitimate movements like “black separatist groups, and the Zionist movement, and the Basque movement.”

    • Russia Orders VPN Providers To Block ‘State Censored’ Websites

      After proposing new legislation that could lead to Russia having its own internet, the Russian authorities have now issued a notice to 10 VPN providers to restrict access to websites that are banned by the country’s laws.

      The notice issued by Roskomnadzor, the communications watchdog of Russia, mentions that if VPN providers fail to block the censored websites, the government will block internet access to their services.

    • Russia Demands 10 Major VPNs Censor Content or Face Ban

      Affected providers include NordVPN, VyprVPN, and TorGuard. If they fail to comply within 30 days, the Russian regulator has threatened to block internet access to their services.

    • Russia’s censorship agency demands that VPN services comply with its list of blocked websites

      Roskomnadzor, the agency responsible for communications regulation and censorship in Russia, announced today that it contacted a number of VPN services to request that they subscribe to the agency’s registry of websites that are banned from distribution on Russian territory. Though Roskomnadzor has blocked VPN services before and asked Internet service providers to comply with its registry of blocked sites, this is the first time it has made the same demands of VPN providers.

    • Salesforce Sued For Sex Trafficking… Because Backpage Used Salesforce’s CRM

      In the latest insane lawsuit regarding the internet and sex trafficking, a group of women who were tragic victims of sex trafficking have decided not to sue those responsible for trafficking them… but online customer relationship management (CRM) provider Salesforce.com. What? Huh? Why? You might ask? Well, apparently it’s because everyone’s favorite sex trafficking bogeyman, Backpage.com, used Salesforce.com for its CRM. Yup.

      While most of the reports on this don’t show the lawsuit, CNBC thankfully posted a copy (though it’s locked up in Scribd, so we can’t embed our own version, unfortunately). The lawsuit makes a bunch of leaps to argue that Salesforce is somehow magically responsible for people doing illegal things on Backpage. The levels of separation between the criminal actions and the liability here are simply ridiculous.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Court Denies EFF Effort to Obtain Classified Significant Surveillance Court Opinions

      A federal court’s ruling earlier this week has blunted a key provision of the surveillance reform law that required the government to be more transparent about legal decisions made by the United States secret surveillance court.

      After Edward Snowden revealed the government’s ongoing mass collection of Americans’ telephone phone records in 2013, Congress responded by passing the USA Freedom Act in 2015. In addition to limiting the NSA’s surveillance authority, Congress also clearly intended to end the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s (FISC) ability to keep the decisions it made behind closed doors secret.

      Since its inception in the 1970s, the government has asked the FISC to decide what constitutional or other legal protections, if any, Americans and others enjoy while seeking approval of the government’s secret mass surveillance programs. Though we were not happy with many aspects of the final USA Freedom language, EFF was pleased that the final language did require that the government review and declassify “each decision, order, or opinion” that contained significant interpretations of the Constitution or other laws and to make them “publicly available to the greatest extent practicable.” We believe this language, along with statements from Members of Congress during the debate, clearly require the FISC to release decisions both from before 2015 as well as after.

      Unfortunately, earlier this week a federal district court in California disagreed. Although the court did not rule on whether USA Freedom requires the government to review and disclose significant FISC opinions created before May 2015, it decided that EFF could not rely on USA Freedom’s transparency provisions while seeking FISC opinions as part of a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit. The ruling also upheld the government’s decision to completely withhold six significant FISC opinions based on the government’s claims that disclosing even a single word would jeopardize national security.

    • Utah Senate Passes Bill That Would Lock The Government Out Of Warrantless Access To Third Party Records

      Perhaps no state has unrolled and rolled up a welcome mat set out for a federal guest faster than Utah. What was once a shiny new installation with 5-10,000 jobs attached swiftly became a PR black eye after Ed Snowden exited the NSA and sprung a leak.

      Suddenly, the sweetheart deal on water given to the NSA seemed like an attempt to curry favor with domestic spies, placing local politicians on the receiving end of reflected wrath from the general public. Utah’s government reversed course, setting itself up as a champion of the people. An attempt was made to shut down the spy center’s water supply. It never made its way into law, but the anti-panopticon tone was set. But the state is still moving forward with efforts taking on the federal government, engaged in the always-awkward grappling of the The Man sticking it to The Man.

      Bills forbidding state agencies from participating in domestic surveillance have been introduced elsewhere in the country. Few of these have moved forward. But the Utah legislature — burned by its close ties with the spy agency non grata — has proven more tenacious than most. As Molly Davis reports for Wired, the Utah government is one step away from locking the government out of access to third party records.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Braceros Then and Now: Brutality and Pathological Dishonesty Greet Immigrants in the Age of Trump

      Do a Google search of braceros and you’ll find a picture of a line of shirtless young men being sprayed with DDT as they pass through a gate of a farm labor intake center. In another photo, naked men are lined up in a large room being inspected by men in white coats. The photos tell a story the name bracero (from the word brazos, or arms) itself implies.

      When the U.S. and Mexico made an agreement to bring up hundreds of thousands of Mexican workers under the Bracero program to supply essential labor for a country at war in 1942 the bracero was neither regarded, nor treated as a human being, but as an instrument of production.

      Most were Mexican farmers and rural workers whose economic situation was precarious in a country plundered by foreign businesses and dominated by domestic and foreign landowners who controlled almost all the good land.

      From 1942 to 1964, bracero workers did a large part of the work on farms from California to Texas and beyond. They were welcomed as laborers in a time of dire need – a welcome that extended to the length of their “contracts”, usually six months, or to the end of the harvest. Once the crops were in, braceros became criminals and were hunted down and deported as such, if they did not leave quickly enough on their own.

    • Amid ethnic unrest, Russian governor bans migrant workers from dozens of jobs in construction, farming, and public transport

      Aisen Nikolaev, the governor of Yakutia, has signed an executive order prohibiting the employment of foreign citizens in 33 different fields. The new policy bans registered migrant workers from taking jobs in agriculture, construction, and catering, as well as passenger public transport. Local enterprises in these fields have three months to fire all foreign citizens.

    • A Russian regional governor responded to social unrest by banning migrant workers from taking certain jobs. Was his order legal?

      Aisen Nikolaev, the governor of Yakutia, has banned migrant workers from being employed in a range of 33 different industries in the course of 2019. Nikolaev signed the executive order after a Kyrgyz citizen was charged in a recent rape case, sparking a series of anti-migrant protests in the republic’s capital city of Yakutsk.

      Pavel Chikov, a lawyer working for the nonprofit human rights organization Agora, announced that he would challenge the constitutionality of Nikolaev’s order if he could find a migrant worker who had been personally affected by it. The chief vice chair of the State Duma’s Committee on State Building and Legislation, Mikhail Yemelyanov, also said the order seemed “at first glance” to be illegal.

    • Russian federal agents raid the Church of Scientology in St. Petersburg

      Federal Security Service agents raided the office of the Church of Scientology in St. Petersburg on Thursday, according to the local news outlet Fontanka, citing sources in the city’s police department. The specific reasons for the search are still unclear.

    • Belgorod city official resigns after new mayor is sworn in to music from ‘Star Wars’

      Lyudmila Grekova, the head of Belgorod’s Culture Department, has resigned after being blamed for botching the new mayor’s swearing-in ceremony, where he took the stage accompanied by the iconic opening music from the film “Star Wars.”

    • The Case for Reimagining the Black Radical Tradition

      I fell in love with history a long time ago. Books and documentaries were an escape to a different world. In books I could visit different periods of time and different cultures and at times connect with characters as if they were just like me. I found history in fiction and nonfiction books. I saw myself in Toni Morrison’s telling of Pecola Breedlove’s struggle with sexual violence, poverty, and identity in The Bluest Eye. I knew what it felt like to stand in a mirror and wish I were a little white girl. I saw myself in April Sinclair’s Coffee Will Make You Black, and the coming-of-age story of a Black lesbian was closer to home than I was willing to accept as a teenager. I watched Eyes on the Prize and Watermelon Woman. I devoured tales about Black life, and at times the world they took me to was as bleak as the one I was afraid to live in. I didn’t realize it at the time, but in my escape to other places I was searching for meaning and belonging. Since then, I’ve continued to cultivate my seemingly insatiable appetite for knowledge. I constantly feel behind my peers who studied Black radicalism and feminist and queer theory in school and on their own. I never feel as well-read as I should be. Though I always had access to books, much of what I was exposed to was incomplete and fell short somehow. Many of the texts and sources treated as essential didn’t go far enough. I found myself asking, “Well, what came before capitalism? Didn’t patriarchy exist?” Or, “Where are the women in this story? Where are the queer folks?”

      I have been crafting more complete stories about Black people and our movements for Black liberation for a long time. I am now clear that my hunger for a more complete story must become a shared strategy for collective liberation. The incalculable amounts of agents for Black liberation are, and were, more robust than the often single story of charisma, strength, and strategies I learned as a student.

      Incomplete stories about the history of the struggle for Black liberation have led to ineffective solutions for our collective liberation. If the relationship between two people is one of the smallest units of movement building, then the stories we hear and share within those relationships are the springboards for action. Stories provide context, can describe and explain strategy, and can help people understand what happens in the world. People process stories and make choices based on what they conclude.

    • Facebook Accused Of Racial Discrimination In Targeted Housing Ads

      The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has filed charges against Facebook for allowing discrimination against certain demographics in housing ads.

      HUD says that Facebook violated the Fair Housing Act by offering options to advertisers that let them exclude groups listed as protected classes in the Fair Housing Act.

    • ‘Commendable, If Not Overdue’: HUD Files Charges Against Facebook for Virtual Redlining

      Facebook had its own “redlining” program built into the company’s software, according to charges filed against the social media giant by the federal government on Thursday.

      The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which brought the charges, alleges the social media giant “unlawfully discriminates based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, and disability by restricting who can view housing-related ads on Facebook’s platforms and across the internet.”

      HUD secretary Ben Carson said in a statement that Facebook’s advertisement parameters which allowed advertisers to tailor who saw their ads were as effective an act of “redlining”—the practice of keeping people of color out of predominately white neighborhoods—as drawing lines on a physical map was in the past.

    • ‘We Are Running Concentration Camps’: Images From El Paso Stir Outrage Over Migrant Treatment

      Hundreds of migrants are being held by border agents in a fenced in encampment under a bridge in El Paso, leading to anger and accusations that the American government is holding people in “concentration camps.”

      Images posted online by reporters and advocates painted a disturbing scene in the Texas city. Lines of migrants behind fencing, being processed by agents from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), walked into a camp area that appeared to be standing room only.

    • HUD Sues Facebook Over Housing Discrimination and Says the Company’s Algorithms Have Made the Problem Worse

      The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday it is suing Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act by allowing advertisers to limit housing ads based on race, gender and other characteristics.

      The agency also said Facebook’s ad system discriminates against users even when advertisers did not choose to do so.

      ProPublica first reported in 2016 that Facebook allowed housing advertisers to exclude users by race. Then in 2017, ProPublica found that — despite Facebook’s promised changes — the company was still letting advertisers exclude users by race, gender, ethnicity, family status, ability and other characteristics.

    • Facebook Charged With Discrimination for Targeted Housing Ads

      Facebook was charged with discrimination by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development because of its ad-targeting system.

      HUD said Thursday that Facebook is allowing advertisers to exclude people based on their neighborhood by drawing a red line around those neighborhoods on a map and giving advertisers the option of showing ads only to men or only to women. The agency also claims Facebook allowed advertisers to exclude people that the social media company classified as parents; non-American-born; non-Christian; interested in accessibility; interested in Hispanic culture or a wide variety of other interests that closely align with the Fair Housing Act’s protected classes.

      HUD, which is pursuing civil charges and potential monetary awards that could run into the millions, said that Facebook’s ad platform is “encouraging, enabling, and causing housing discrimination” because it allows advertisers to exclude people who they don’t want to see their ads.

      The claim from HUD comes less than a week after Facebook said it would overhaul its ad-targeting systems to prevent discrimination in housing, credit and employment ads as part of a legal settlement with a group that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Fair Housing Alliance and others.

    • Fighting Racial Bias in an Age of Mass Murder: Prejudice from the Coffee Shop to Charlottesville

      As avowed neo-Nazi James Alex Fields pleaded guilty Wednesday to 29 counts of hate crimes in a federal court for plowing his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville in August of 2017, we look at a new book that addresses the tragic event, as well as the rising number of race-based mass shootings, hate crimes and police shootings of unarmed men in the past several years. It also examines cases of discrimination against African Americans for simply sitting in coffee shops or trying to vacation in Airbnb-hosted homes. Professor Jennifer Eberhardt is the author of “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do,” about how implicit bias impacts everything from hate crimes to microaggressions in the workplace, school and community, and what we can do about it. Eberhardt is a professor of psychology at Stanford and a recipient of a 2014 MacArthur “genius” grant.

    • When Taking a Walk At Night Was an Act of Civil Disobedience

      Oregon remembers Minoru Yasui, a civil rights icon who broke the law to protest the curfews put on Japanese Americans at the start of World War II.
      Seventy-six years ago, Minoru “Min” Yasui sat in a cell at the Multnomah County Jail in Oregon when he read a newspaper article detailing how Walter Pierce, the state’s former governor and U.S. congressman, called for Japanese immigrants in the United States to be sent to Japan. Ever the racist and xenophobe, Pierce wasn’t done. He even suggested revoking birthright citizenship for Americans of Japanese descent.

      “The United States has done much for the Japanese but in turn they have abused privileges granted them and have tricked us,” Pierce was quoted as saying. He then claimed that Japanese Americans couldn’t be “Americanized” or “Christianized” and warned that “a contest looms to see whether the Pacific Coast will remain white or turn yellow.”

      Min, a young University of Oregon-educated lawyer from Hood River, understood intimately what the hateful words of a powerful man like Pierce could sow. Min was being unjustly held in solitary confinement for a simple but powerful act of civil disobedience in reaction to government repression of Japanese Americans and immigrants in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. On March 28, 1942, he purposefully broke the curfew law that had been placed on all people of Japanese ancestry under Executive Order 9066 by walking up and down the streets of downtown Portland after 8 p.m.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Another Study Finds Verizon’s 5G Is Barely Available, Not Scaleable

      We’ve talked a lot about how while fifth-generation (5G) wireless is a good thing (in that faster, more reliable networks are always good), it’s been comically over-hyped by cellular carriers and network hardware vendors looking to justify high prices and sell network gear and handsets. It has also been accompanied by what appears to be a race between cellular carriers to broadly misrepresent what 5G is capable of, and where and when it will actually be available.

      At the heart of a lot of this hype has been Verizon, which routinely insists 5G is the “fourth industrial revolution,” and will almost mystically result in a universe of smart cities and smarter supporting technologies. Ironically, while saying all of this, Verizon executives publicly warn about carriers over-hyping 5G. For example here’s a Verizon blog post from last January..

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Conference report: “Can robots invent and create? A dialogue between Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property”

      As IPKat readers might be aware, in March Alicante became the capital of the Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property for a couple of days, thanks to the congress “Can robots invent and create? A dialogue between Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property” organized by Fide and hosted by Universidad of Alicante, under the coordination of Javier Fernández- Lasquetty (Director), Prof. Aurelio López-Tarruella (Director) and Prof. Manuel Desantes Real (Academic Coordinator).

    • SRI International, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      In a precedential decision issued last week, the Federal Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware’s ruling that Plaintiff SRI International, Inc.’s (“SRI”) claims related to network security are patent eligible.

      Years ago, SRI sued Defendant Cisco Systems, Inc. (“Cisco”) for infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,711,615 (the ’615 patent) and 6,484,203 (the ’203 patent), after which Cisco unsuccessfully moved for summary judgement on various issues, including patent-ineligibility of the claims and whether one of SRI’s papers on its own network security tool anticipates the claims. Cisco then appealed the final judgement of the District Court with respect to these two issues, as well as issues relating to the District Court’s construction of the claim term “network traffic data,” denial of JMOL of no willful infringement, and grant of enhanced damages, attorneys’ fees, and ongoing royalties. This post addresses only the issue of patent eligibility, including a notable dissenting opinion by Judge Alan David Lourie.

      [...]

      Cisco provided three main arguments for why the claims are an abstract idea, but the Court refuted each of them. First, Cisco argued that the claims are analogous to those in Electric Power Group in that they are allegedly directed to generic steps for collecting and analyzing data. But the Court distinguished these claims from those in Electric Power Group, instead analogizing them to those in DDR Holdings. In particular, the Court noted that, while the Electric Power Group claims “were drawn to using computers as tools to solve a power grid problem,” the claims here, like those in DDR Holdings, “prevent the normal, expected operation of a conventional computer network” — namely, by detecting and reporting on suspicious network activity, as well as by receiving and integrating the reports using one or more hierarchical network monitors.

      Cisco also argued that the claims do not improve computer functionality, per Enfish. The Court noted how, in Alice, the Supreme Court advised that, even if a claim directed to an abstract idea uses a computer as a tool, the claim still does not pass step one muster. Using the Supreme Court’s notion as a counter to Cisco’s argument, the Court stated that the claims are not automating a conventional idea on a computer, but rather recite a specific process that improves the functioning of computer networks in the realm of network security.

    • Qualcomm: Inconsistent With Respect To Facts, Its Own Actions

      Apple decided not to put an invalidity defense forward in district court on the ‘490 patent, as Qualcomm notes. This means the jury verdict contains nothing regarding validity. There’s nothing in the verdict to be inconsistent with.

      In fact, Qualcomm itself has abandoned claims in one venue, only to win on the same argument in a later case in a different venue—the exact situation it claims is “inconsistent” here.

      Qualcomm started its ITC case out by asserting six patents—including U.S. Patent No. 8,838,949. Qualcomm dropped the ‘949 patent from their ITC case, but continued to assert the ‘949 patent in district court. Under Qualcomm’s logic, that means that the ‘949 infringement verdict in the district court case is inconsistent with the ITC case, where Qualcomm chose not to present an infringement case to the ITC.

    • Copyrights

      • Warner Music signed an algorithm to a record deal — what happens next?

        Endel is an app that generates reactive, personalized “soundscapes” to promote things like focus or relaxation. It takes in data like your location, time, and the weather to create these soundscapes, and the result is not quite “musical” in the traditional sense. It’s ambient, layering in things like washed-out white noise and long string notes. It’s the type of stuff that’s exploded on streaming platforms in recent years under newly invented genre names like “sleep.”

        Although Endel signed a deal with Warner, the deal is crucially not for “an algorithm,” and Warner is not in control of Endel’s product. The label approached Endel with a distribution deal and Endel used its algorithm to create 600 short tracks on 20 albums that were then put on streaming services, returning a 50 / 50 royalty split to Endel. Unlike a typical major label record deal, Endel didn’t get any advance money paid upfront, and it retained ownership of the master recordings.

      • Police and FACT Raids Target “£3 Million” Pirate TV Operation

        Local sources in Ilford, where officers raided a shop, say the operation was carried out in partnership with Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham Trading Standards. Two homes were also raided and searched.

      • After Insisting That EU Copyright Directive Didn’t Require Filters, France Immediately Starts Promoting Filters

        For months now we’ve all heard the refrain: Article 13 (now Article 17) of the EU Copyright Directive would not require filters. We all knew it was untrue. We pointed out many times that it was untrue, and that there was literally no way to comply unless you implemented filters (filters that wouldn’t work and would ban legitimate speech), and were yelled at for pointing this out.

      • What Is EU Article 13 Besides A Meme Ban? — From A Noob’s Perspective

        European Union has passed the controversial ‘Copyright Directive Law‘ which aims to fix the broken online copyright system.

        I am not a lawyer so I will try to give you my opinion in as simple terms as possible. Also, my interpretation of Article 13 could differ from yours because till now no concrete rule has been laid down.

      • Article 13: Swedish MEPs allow directive to pass by mistake

        The vote was, as they understood it, to vote in favour of voting down (see – confusing already) a plan to pass the entire bill without further debate. In other words, it was a vote to not-not debate Article 11 and 13 before voting for the bill in its entirety, not voting not to vote in favour of the whole thing without further discourse.

        Clear? No? Exactly.

        The Swedish contingent has filed notice that it meant to vote the other way, but sadly the vote will still stand, meaning some of the strictest copyright laws in the democratic world just passed because some of those voting didn’t understand the question and now want to change their minds.

      • Austria plans de facto exemption of all startups from scope of Article 13 (now 17) of EU Copyright Directive: useless unless entire EU follows suit

        What makes it hard for me to comment on some developments regarding the EU Copyright Directive as harshly as I’d like to is that there are some Members of the Europen Parliament (MEPs) involved with whom I got along very well in other contexts. Otherwise I’d have voiced some outrage here over EP President Tajani’s refusal to accept the SaveTheInternet petition signed by 5.1 million people, and I’d express outrage now over a proposal by Othmar Karas MEP, an Austrian conservative (but a different kind of conservative than Austria’s chancellor Sebastian Kurz).

        It would be a better choice for Mr. Karas to support his colleague (from the same political group, the European People’s Party) Tomáš Zdechovský’s call for repeating the European Parliament vote on whether or not to allow votes on individual amendments than to toss out proposals that look helpful at first sight but are highly unlikely to solve the problem. That’s what’s called misleading voters, by the way. But I won’t say anything harsher than that for the reason I gave further above.

      • Free Software Foundation Comes To Its Senses After Calling For EU To Fund Open Source Upload Filters

        Most EU digital rights groups are still reeling from the approval of the EU Copyright Directive and its deeply-flawed idea of upload filters, which will seriously harm the way the Internet operates in the region and beyond. Matters are made even worse by the fact that some MEPs claim they blundered when they voted — enough of them that Article 13 might have been removed from the legislation had they voted as they intended.

        But one organization quick off the mark in its response was the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), the local offshoot of the main Free Software Foundation. Shortly after the EU vote, it issued a press release entitled “Copyright Directive — EU safeguards Free Software at the last minute”. This refers to a campaign spear-headed by the FSFE and Open Forum Europe called “Save Code Share” that sought successfully to exclude open source software sharing from Article 13.

      • 9th Circuit’s Bad AirBnB Decision Threatens Basic Internet Business Models

        I’m not done excoriating the Ninth Circuit’s recent decision dismissing Homeaway and Airbnb’s challenge of the Santa Monica ordinance that holds them liable if their users illegally list their properties for rent. As I wrote before, that’s what the ordinance in fact does, even though Section 230 is supposed to prevent local jurisdictions from enforcing laws on platforms that have this effect. Perhaps this decision may not be as obviously lethal to the Internet as the EU’s passage of the Copyright Directive with Articles 11 and 13, but only because its consequences may, at the moment, be less obvious – not because they stand to be any less harmful.

        Which is not to say that the court intended to herald the end of the Internet. Indeed there is a somewhat apologetic tone throughout the decision, as if the court felt it had no choice but to reach the conclusion that it did. But there is also a tone of dismissiveness that runs throughout the decision as well. The court largely minimized the platforms’ arguments about how the ordinance will affect them, and by ignoring the inevitable consequences thus opened the door to them, now and in the future, far beyond the facts of this particular case.

        Ultimately there are (at least) two big problems with the decision. The earlier post highlighted one of them, noting how chilling it is to speech if a law effectively forces platforms to police their users’ expression in order to have any hope of avoiding being held liable for it. The problem with the court’s decision in this regard is that it kept [see pages 13-14, 17, 20...] incorrectly insisting, over the platforms’ protest, that the Santa Monica ordinance does not force them to monitor their users’ expression when, in actuality, it most certainly does.

      • EU Ignores the Public, Passes Internet-Wrecking Copyright Proposal

        The passage was particularly problematic given overwhelming public and expert opposition. More than 200,000 Europeans took to the streets to protest the proposal last weekend, and an online petition calling for the removal of the most controversial parts of the proposal has received more than 5 million signatures.

      • [Reposted] Article 13: EU passes copyright directive which will lead to a more censored internet

        Part of making sure that anti internet legislation like Article 13 doesn’t continue to be proposed and passed is holding the politicians that voted for it accountable. The full record on who voted for and against Article 13 is available online at this link courtesy of Julia Reda. The course of action is simple: If your locally elected politician voted for Article 13 – don’t vote for them.

      • How Facebook may neuter the EU Copyright Directive

Tall Tales From the Land of EPOnia: Indications of High-Level Club Med/EUIPO “Entryism”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Half a year ago: The European Council Fulfills Corrupt Battistelli’s Alleged Promise, Making Christian Archambeau Head of EUIPO

Piggyback

Summary: Guest post about EPO nepotism, the second generation under António Campinos, whom Battistelli put in charge

On March 27, 2019, an announcement appeared on the European Patent Office (EPO) Intranet from the “Vice-President Corporate Services” informing staff about the appointment of a CIO and CTO in the new Business Information Technology (BIT) area.

Once upon a time in EPOnia, the Vice-President of DG4 had the title “Vice-President Administration” and instead of BIT there used to be something like “IT Services” until that also fell victim to the buzzword-of-the-month renaming craze. That was back in the good old days of yore before EPOnia had succumbed to the Battistelli-led “managerialist” coup d’état.

But enough of the nostalgia and let’s get back to the story. The lucky appointees referred to in yesterday’s “Corporate Services” announcement were named as Mr Diego Eguidazu Alonso (CIO) (profile in LinkedIn) and Mr Angel Aledo Lopez (CTO) (profile in LinkedIn).

DIEGO EGUIDAZU
Diego Eguidazu Alonso

On the face of it, it seems like just another non-story from a slow news day. But scratching below the surface reveals some interesting details which suggest that this may be part of a larger scale “entryist” operation by the Club Med/EUIPO faction.

The fact that both appointees have Spanish-sounding names is an interesting coincidence but it doesn’t really take us very far. However, thanks to LinkedIn, it can be established that Mr Eguidazu worked at EUIPO (formerly OHIM) in Alicante for almost 17 years until he was parachuted into the EPO as “Director of Service Operations” in August 2018. In other words: shortly after the current EPO President had moved to Munich and was getting ready for his first appearance at the Oktoberfest.

Campinos in Oktoberfest 2018
Campinos in Oktoberfest 2018

Mr Aledo seems to be more publicity-shy. His LinkedIn page is minimalistic to say the least. It contains little or no information apart from an entry for “Deputy CIO European Patent Office” which seems to refer to his new appointment. There are no details about his previous experience.

“Once upon a time in EPOnia, the Vice-President of DG4 had the title “Vice-President Administration” and instead of BIT there used to be something like “IT Services” until that also fell victim to the buzzword-of-the-month renaming craze.”To find out more about this, it may help to consult a recent edition of the official directory of the EU, dated 18 March 2019, which provides some vital clues as to what is going on here. On the pages listing details of EUIPO personnel we find the following:

Business Information Technology Department

Ms Niloofar SIMON
Director
Architecture and Planning

Mr Diego EGUIDAZU
Head of Service
Service “Applications Development and Maintenance”

Mr Raymond KLAASEN
Head of Service
Operations and Infrastructure

Mr Angel ALEDO
Head of Service

The information contained in the “EU WhoIsWho” directory seems to be a bit stale.

“…scratching below the surface reveals some interesting details which suggest that this may be part of a larger scale “entryist” operation by the Club Med/EUIPO faction.”Apparently, the EU administration dweebs who compile this directory haven’t yet woken up to the fact that Ms Niloofar “Nellie” Simon has flown the coop to rejoin her former EUIPO boss on the 10th floor of the EPO Munich headquarters in the swish no-expense-spared luxury penthouse designed for its previous occupant by the prestigious a+p Architekten of Munich.

But even if the information in the EU directory is not up-to-date, it is still helpful for joining up the dots.

It seems that not only has Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk and said goodbye to the EUIPO circus in Alicante.

In the process of trundling off to the EPO jungle in Munich to hook up with the head of the herd, she has also managed to piggyback in most of the senior members of the EUIPO IT team.

It’s a scenario reminiscent of the cover of Anthony Browne’s “Piggybook”, a children’s storybook which has been translated into Portuguese by Isabelle Buratti.

The Buratti-Campinos romantic saga is a tale of its own which probably deserves coverage at a later date but, as they say, it’s a story for another day.

“In the process of trundling off to the EPO jungle in Munich to hook up with the head of the herd, she has also managed to piggyback in most of the senior members of the EUIPO IT team.”Looking at this carefully choreographed “entryist” operation, one has to feel sorry for poor old Raymond Klaasen who must be feeling lonely having been left “tout seul” looking after the EUIPO IT ranch down in Alicante.

Let’s hope that the EUIPO’s IT systems don’t suffer a breakdown after such a massive haemmorhaging of talent. Otherwise someone might have to face the music and dance a last waltz as recently happened at the Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial (INPI) in Portugal. Reliable sources in Lisbon report the downfall of the delightful Maria Leonor Mendes da Trindade, who inherited the mantle of Campinos as director of the Lusitanian INPI and was one of Battistelli’s dutiful Club Med chinchillas on the EPO Administrative Council. Apparently Ms Mendes da Trindade and her deputy Marco Dinis were obliged to fall on their swords following a serious IT system malfunction which occurred over a prolonged period during last summer’s heatwave in the Portuguese capital. We plan to revisit this rather tragic “conte cruel” in more detail in the not-too-distant future and hopefully look into further shenanigans at the INPI in Lisbon, some of it dating back to the days when the current monarch of EPOnia held sway there.

For EPO insiders, the latest daring “entryist” escapade at the EPO awakens memories of Battistelli’s wholesale importation of former INPI personnel and cronies including René Kraft, as reported by Techrights back in 2015.

“For EPO insiders, the latest daring “entryist” escapade at the EPO awakens memories of Battistelli’s wholesale importation of former INPI personnel and cronies…”According to Mr Kraft’s LinkedIn profile, he previously worked with Informatique CDC, an IT provider which has close links to the French INPI.

Informatique CDC has hit the headlines in the past, amongst other things for its questionable labour practices and breaches of French sub-contracting law (so-called “délit de marchandage”) [1, 2].

Informatique CDC

In the meantime, poor old Mr Kraft seems to have been swept aside by the recent Club Med/EUIPO influx of “new bloods”. According to insiders, he has ended up being parked on the sidelines as a “Principal Advisor for IT Matters”. As they say in the land of EPOnia, you’d better be careful if you get “honored” with a fancy job title because more often than not it’s an advance warning that you are being lined up for the long drop…

And so today’s tall tale draws to its close but make sure to stay tuned because some more entertaining anecdotes from the land of EPOnia are in the pipeline and are planned to hit the presses soon.

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