EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.30.19

Links 31/3/2019: Wine 4.5 Released, Pinguy OS 18.04.2

Posted in News Roundup at 11:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Google I/O 2019 schedule goes live with sessions on Stadia, Dark Mode, Linux on Chrome OS, and more

      Google I/O is one of the biggest developer conferences held by Google every year, wherein they announce upcoming changes to Google services and how developers should react in order to prepare themselves for these changes. Google I/O 2019 is scheduled to begin on May 7, 2019 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California (USA), and now, Google has posted the initial schedule for the conference.

      As expected, I/O 2019 will kick off with the main Google keynote at 10AM PDT, and will be hosted by key Google executives, including Mr. Sundar Pichai, in all likelihood. As it does every year, this event will provide an overview of upcoming changes to Google products and services, including Android and its next version, Android Q. This event will be livestreamed, so you won’t be missing out on too much if you did not manage to score a ticket.

    • 4K Video Editing on Chromebooks May Be Possible Soon

      If Google’s Stadia project ends up delivering the way it promises, there will be a totally viable gaming solution for Chromebooks. For photo and graphic editing, there are options like Pixlr, Gravit Designer on the web and Photoshop or Lightroom on Android. Add to that a very workable solution in GIMP and Inkscape in Linux and you have most of your photo and graphic editing needs met.

  • Server

    • The making of Creating ChRIS: Developing a distinct visual and narrative style

      Casey Stegman, writer, Eric Kramer, animator, and Kieran Moreira, director, talk about finding inspiration and setting the tone during the creative process. Casey discusses how they developed the style of the film, Kieran walks through the decision to use specific video equipment to support the overall style, and Eric considers how the graphics were integrated.

      We’ve included a snapshot of the conversation, but you can also listen to the full conversation with our embedded player or download the MP3.

    • OperatorHub.io Operator Round-Up

      In the few short weeks since Operator Hub launched, there have been many additions to the site’s trove of Kubernetes Operators. They offer services for your Kubernetes cluster ranging from etcd and CockroachDB, to Jaeger Tracing and Dynatrace. Like spring flowers, Operators have popped up from the open source community soil. We wanted to gather up all of our existing Operators Blog coverage and deep-dives into one post, today, in preparation for a significant uptick n the number of available Operators as spring turns into summer.

      By the end of the summer, Operatorhub.io should be filled with Operators for all manner of services and enterprise-ready systems. Of course, you’ll be able to read about all those new additions here, where we’ll highlight newcomers along with deeper technical content when available. Before that happens, (and as we all know, software delivery estimation is really hard!) we wanted to round up all of the information we’ve thus far published on Operators to help you get up to speed with what’s already there before the fresh bloom of new software.

    • ShadowReader: Serverless load tests for replaying production traffic

      While load testing has become more accessible, configuring load tests that faithfully re-create production conditions can be difficult. A good load test must use a set of URLs that are representative of production traffic and achieve request rates that mimic real users. Even performing distributed load tests requires the upkeep of a fleet of servers.

      ShadowReader aims to solve these problems. It gathers URLs and request rates straight from production logs and replays them using AWS Lambda. Being serverless, it is more cost-efficient and performant than traditional distributed load tests; in practice, it has scaled beyond 50,000 requests per minute.

      At Edmunds, we have been able to utilize these capabilities to solve problems, such as Node.js memory leaks that were happening only in production, by recreating the same conditions in our QA environment. We’re also using it daily to generate load for pre-production canary deployments.

      The memory leak problem we faced in our Node.js application confounded our engineering team; as it was only occurring in our production environment; we could not reproduce it in QA until we introduced ShadowReader to replay production traffic into QA.

    • Don’t count out IBM virtualization on the Z platform
    • IBM-Red Hat merger timing, fairness in question

      Red Hat posted 2019 year-end financial results this week that exceeded analyst expectations, but the company said nothing about its pending $34 billion purchase by IBM as industry experts question the value to Linux users and whether the deal will actually close in the second half of this year.

      While major roadblocks to the IBM-Red Hat merger have yet to become public, its sheer size has some industry observers in speculation mode.

      “If this deal doesn’t go through, it wouldn’t be a problem for anyone except IBM,” said Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions LLC in Gilford, N.H. “People are quite happy with an independent Red Hat overseeing the development of an important product like Linux along with a cloud software infrastructure stack.”

      For the most part, IT pros weren’t excited about the deal because of what IBM brings to Red Hat, but what Red Hat brings to IBM, Gardner said. This is reflected in the “staggering” $34 billion IBM paid for Red Hat, he added.

    • Is Kubernetes The Next Big Enterprise App Platform? That Depends On How Many Apps Can Run On It
    • Surrounded by inspiration, Appalachian alumnus keeps applications running at IBM

      As a site reliability engineer at IBM, Appalachian State University alumnus Chris Waldon’s favorite aspect of his job is working with great people who inspire him. “I’m surrounded by brilliant software engineers, and I get to learn from them daily,” he said.

      It is not surprising that Waldon ’16 ’18 still has a thirst for learning. He graduated summa cum laude from Appalachian with a Bachelor of Science in computer science in 2016, was an Honors College student as well as a Chancellor’s Scholar, and earned his Master of Science in computer science in 2018.

      [...]

      Outside of class, Waldon started Linux@App, a club for students interested in using the Linux operating system — an alternative to macOS or Windows. “You can do a lot with Linux that isn’t possible on other systems,” Waldon explained. “Since most of the internet and all of the systems I use at IBM run on Linux, learning and teaching about it at Appalachian helped me develop the practical skill I now use daily.”

    • How GM’s Cruise Autonomous Vehicle Effort Is Improving Kubernetes

      Having the right access control in place for authorized systems and individuals is a critical part of any modern computing platform. When Cruise Automation didn’t quite get the all the capabilities it needed from within the open-source Kubernetes project, it went out and built its own open-source project to fill the gap.

    • What you need may be “pipeline +Unix commands” only

      The IT field never lacks “new” technologies: cloud computing, big data, high concurrency, etc. However, the thinkings behind these “fancy” words may date back to the era when Unix arose. Unix command line tools are invaluable treasure. In many cases, picking the right components and using pipeline to glue them can satisfy your requirement perfectly. So spending some time in reviewing Unixcommand line manual instead of chasing state-of-the-art techniques exhaustedly, you may gain more.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Destination Linux EP114 – Ryan Fills Your Brains

      On DL114 – Ryan Interviewed, Solus 4, Mate 1.22, Nvidia buys Mellanox, Jetson Nano, Firefox 66, Openshot, OpenXR, Google Stadia, Linux Gaming News plus our Tips, Tricks and Software Spotlight picks!.

  • Kernel Space

    • Containers vs. Unikernels: An Apples-to-Oranges Comparison

      I was asked recently to write a containers-versus-unikernels article, and I said, “Sure, but it won’t be the article you think it is because I share Per Buer’s sentiment that unikernels are not simply containers 2.0.” I seem them as apples and oranges. I think a lot of the confusion stemmed from the acquisition of Unikernel Systems by Docker a few years ago; they were the team that coined the term, after all. What the company might not have intended was to spawn birth to more than 10 different unikernel implementations that exist today. Indeed, there were already projects that could’ve been called a “unikernel” before their papers came out, and some projects—while not adopting the moniker—talk, act and walk like a unikernel, so here we are today.

      [...]

      Also, I’ve been using the word “process” intentionally. A program that might be installed in a container potentially could have many processes. Forking new processes was an older way to scale in the ’90s but it’s much slower than threading. Many interpreted languages scale via pre-forking through a web server or by running many app instances behind a load balancer. That’s because a lot of interpreted languages don’t have true threading support—many will just implement “green threads” if at all. The container is more like a padded room in which you can do whatever you want and you won’t disturb your neighbors (although this is proving to be mostly untrue), but a unikernel will only execute one process, and if you want another one you need to spin up a new unikernel. There are many unikernels that support multi-threading, though, and this is good. This single-process nature though is where unikernels get a lot of their security and performance.

    • ZFS On Linux Lands TRIM Support Ahead Of ZOL 0.8

      While we have been quite looking forward to ZFS On Linux 0.8 with its many additions, this next release will be even better as it now supports SSD TRIM.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux Foundation Welcomes LVFS
      • R9B Announces Partnership with the Linux Foundation to Extend HUNT Training Reach

        R9B, a leading provider of advanced cybersecurity training, products, and services announced today it has joined the Linux Foundation as a silver member and will be working on a new global training delivery system. Since 2011, R9B has provided cybersecurity training to both private and governmental organizations, including mission qualification testing (MQT) for the United States Department of Defense. In joining the Linux Foundation, the company will be able to extend the reach of its popular HUNT Linux training module, one in a three-part HUNT training series that also focuses on threat hunting for Windows and networks.

      • Service on the TAB

        The first question everyone seems to ask is “What exactly does the TAB do?” The answer to that is tied to the history of the TAB. Most of this happened well before my time and is probably better documented elsewhere but the short summary is the TAB came about from the creation of the Linux Foundation from OSDL. There really wasn’t a good forum where kernel developers could have a voice, thus the TAB was born. While the name is “Technical Advisory Board”, it’s designed to cover the kernel community. The TAB Chair also has a seat on the Linux Foundation Board. Over the years, the TAB has worked on everything from UEFI to encouraging corporate participation to combating GPL trolling. As time passes and problems get solved, what the TAB spends its time on also changes. The TAB has sometimes been compared to other open source project boards but one important note is that the TAB is not responsible for technical decisions directly. It’s not the place of the TAB to sign off or approve architecture changes.

        [...]

        This is all still incredibly hand wavy but the point is the TAB is there if people need it. It’s useful to have a single body of people to ask questions and help guide people If you have ideas of things the TAB should work on, I’d welcome the chance to hear it.

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMD Sends In Their Initial AMDGPU Driver Updates For Linux 5.2

        Joining the DRM-Next party with the Intel driver feature work is now the initial batch of the AMDGPU Radeon driver changes for Linux 5.2.

        Alex Deucher of AMD sent in the initial AMDGPU updates to DRM-Next that are targeting the Linux 5.1 cycle. The notable material includes the new SMU11 replacement code for PowerPlay on Vega 20 and to be used by future Radeon GPUs, RAS support for Vega 20, BACO support for Vega 12 hardware (Bus Active Chip Off), BACO fixes for Vega 20, PowerPlay fixes, XGMI interconnect fixes, and various other fixes and code improvements.

      • Radeon’s AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Picks Up A Warhammer II Optimization

        The AMD developers working on their official Vulkan driver today pushed out updated sources for their “AMDVLK” open-source Linux driver. For this week’s worth of activity, there aren’t many notable changes but a few.

        With the updated XGL code for AMDVLK, AMD developers added a per-shader optimization to disable loop unrolling for helping Total War: Warhammer II on Linux.

      • Arm’s Komeda DRM Driver Picking Up Support For The Mali D71

        With the Linux 5.1 kernel there is Arm’s new “Komeda” direct rendering manager driver while patched in as new material for Linux 5.2 is support for the Mali D71 display processor with this new driver.

    • Benchmarks

      • The Fastest Linux Distributions For Web Browsing – Firefox + Chrome Benchmarks On Eight Distros

        With now having WebDriver/Seleneium integration in PTS for carrying out browser benchmarks, we’ve been having fun running a variety of web browser benchmarks in different configurations. The latest is looking at the Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome web browser performance across eight Linux distribution releases (or nine if counting Fedora Workstation on both X.Org and Wayland) for looking at how the web browsing performance compares.

        For this round of benchmarking I carried out clean installs of Ubuntu 19.04 beta, Ubuntu 18.10, Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed, Majaro Linux 18.0.4, Fedora Workstation 29 with Wayland, Fedora Workstation 29 with X.Org, Debian Buster/Testing, and Clear Linux 28500 for looking at the web browser performance. Each operating system was cleanly installed on the same system and kept to the default/stock settings (the only notable exception is for Debian Buster having to install the non-free Linux firmware/microcode package for tapping Radeon GPU acceleration). All stable release updates on each of the operating systems were carried out prior to testing.

      • The Thermal Performance Of NVIDIA’s Jetson Nano $99 Developer Board

        One of the exciting product launches for this month has been the introduction of the NVIDIA Jetson Nano as a $99 Arm developer board offering four Cortex-A57 cores that isn’t too special itself but packing in a 128-core Maxwell NVIDIA GPU makes this board interesting for the price. Out-of-the-box the Jetson Nano is just passively cooled by a small aluminum heatsink, but does it work any better if actively cooled to avoid any potential thermal throttling? Here are some thermal benchmarks.

        The Jetson Nano provides a lot of potential for under $100 when using software to leverage both the CPU and GPU with use-cases from building your own robot to DIY appliances or even having a nice hobbyist Arm Linux developer board with some “oomph” to it without spending much money. In time for the launch day earlier this month I didn’t have the time to run any thermal tests, but here are those numbers. On launch day I only had a few days experience with the Jetson Nano but since then I have continued running performance benchmarks and it has been running great and without any issues — also, no thermal issues to speak of, but decided to run some tests including with an active fan attached to see how that would perform.

      • Ampere Computing + Packet Roll Out eMAG To The Public Cloud – 32 Cores For $1 Per Hour

        Ampere Computing and Packet announced on Thursday that eMAG servers will now be available through this public cloud/server provider. The initial configuration allows for 32 Arm cores at 3.3GHz and 128GB of RAM and 480GB of SSD storage for just $1 USD per hour on-demand access. I have run some initial benchmarks from this new compute instance for those interested.

  • Applications

    • osip2 [5.1.0] & exosip2 [5.1.0]

      I have released today newer versions for both osip2 & exosip2.
      osip is very mature. There was only one tiny feature change to allow more flexible NAPTR request (such as ENUM). A very few bugs were discovered and fixed.

    • ledger2beancount 1.6 released

      Stefano Zacchiroli and I released version 1.6 of ledger2beancount, a ledger to beancount converter.

    • Dirk Eddelbuettel: drat 0.1.5: New release

      A new version of drat just arrived on CRAN. And like the last time in December 2017 it went through as an automatically processed upgrade directly from the CRAN prechecks. Being a simple package can have its upsides…

      And like the last time, this release once again draws largely upon contributed pull requests. Neal Fultz cleaned up how Windows paths are handled when inserting Windows (binary) packages. And Christoph Stepper extended the support for binary packages the helper commands pruneRepo and archivePackages. I added a minor cleanup to a test Neal added in the previous version, and that made a quick and simple release!

    • HPLIP 3.19.3 Released with Linux Mint 19.1 Support

      HP developed Linux drivers HPLIP 3.19.3 was released with new printers and new Linux Distro’s support.

    • The Best Open-Source Network Monitoring Tools

      We’ll start our discussion by talking about the need for network monitoring tools and the different types of tools that are available. We’ll see how bandwidth utilization monitors, network analysis systems and packet sniffers work and how they can be used to our benefit. Next, we’ll review the best open source tools in each of the three categories.

    • Cantata – Feature-rich client for Music Player Daemon

      In the past few months, I’ve covered a whole raft of music players. This time I’m going to walk through Cantata. Cantata is billed as a feature-rich and user friendly client for Music Player Daemon (MPD).

      MPD is a powerful server-side application for playing music. In a home environment, you can connect an MPD server to a Hi-Fi system, and control the server using a notebook or smartphone. You can, of course, play audio files on remote clients. MPD can be started system-wide or on a per-user basis.

      Cantata was forked from QtMPC in 2015. It’s progressed a long way since then. It’s written in the C++ programming language and uses Qt 5.

    • Scylla: four ways to optimize your disk space consumption

      After restarting your scylla server, the first and obvious thing you can try to do to get out of this situation is to run the nodetool clearsnapshot command which will remove any data snapshot that could be lying around. That’s a handy command to reclaim space usually.

    • 4 best Microsoft Access Alternatives for Linux users

      Microsoft Office comes with Microsoft Access, a database management program that users can use to create databases. Unfortunately, this program does not work on Linux. So, those that have recently switched to Linux but require a robust database program are out of luck.

      In this list, we’ll go over some of the best Microsoft Access alternatives for Linux. We’ll also show you how to download them, and talk about some compelling features of each app on this list.

    • Best DTP software 2019: top desktop publishing apps [Ed: Proprietary for the most part, but Scribus got a mention]

      If you’re after real desktop publishing power, free of charge, then nothing can compete with Scribus, and it’s our pick for the best free DTP software. It’s an open source application, which means it’s completely free for anyone to use, and you don’t need a licence to use it as a business. The program is packed with professional features – CMYK and spot colours, ICC colour management, direct editing of vector drawings, extensive PDF support and more – and provides everything you need to produce flyers, brochures, newspapers, books and more.

      All this power does take quite some time to master, though, and while the developers have tried to help (and there is plenty of documentation to point you in the right direction) you’ll need to be patient: the sheer volume of features means there’s still a significant learning curve.

    • 5 best code editors for Linux users

      Linux is a go-to OS for many developers. Because so many people use Linux for development, the platform is littered with dozens of development tools, both good and bad. If you’re sick of wading through programs to find a good code editor for your Linux development PC, we can help? Here are the five best code editors for Linux!

      Looking for mark down editors for Linux? Check out our list of the top 6 mark down editors for Linux.

    • 5 Best Free Linux Medical Practice Management Software

      Medical Practice Management Software (MPMS) is a type of software that is designed to supervise and support the day-to-day operations of a medical practice. This category of software typically offers functionality such as data entry, scheduling appointments, billing, reporting, records management, the generation of reports, accounting, and capturing patient demographics.

      There is often an overlap between MPMS software and Electronic Medical Records systems (EMR). In some cases, a single software application offers both MPMS and EMR functionality. However, there are fundamental differences between the two. Whilst MPMS concentrates on administrative and financial matters, an EMR typically represents an element of a local standalone health information system.

      This is the third article in our series covering open source medical software. Our earlier medical articles focused on Electronic Medical Records systems and Medical Imaging software.

      To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 5 hot free Linux Medical Practice Management software.

    • The 7 Best BitTorrent Clients For File Download

      There are many ways one can go about downloading files off the Internet. The most common is probably the HTTP download that happens whenever you download a file from a website. It could be some free software or a trial version of a paid one. Before web downloads were popular—and even before the web existed—the File Transfer Protocol, or FTP, was the standard way of downloading files. Usenet was another way of exchanging files that once enjoyed a lot of popularity and that has recently made a comeback.

      But one of the most used ways of exchanging files on the Internet nowadays is probably the BitTorrent protocol. Often simple called Torrents or Torrenting, it is a peer to peer system that distributes small fragments of files over multiple hosts. Using it requires a special piece of software called a BitTorrent client which can track the various fragments, download them, and assemble them back into the original file.

      We’ll start off our exploration by explaining what BitTorrent is and how it works, trying to keep our discussion as non-technical as possible. Then, we’ll have a quick look at the legal aspects of using the system as there seem to be some misconceptions going around. After that, we’ll present the much-awaited reviews of some of the best client applications we could find.

    • Proprietary

      • Chromium-based Edge: Linux support and IE integration [Ed: Why would any GNU/Linux users choose to actually install proprietary software from Micosoft to just browse the Web?]

        Probably the best indicator that Microsoft Edge will be available for Linux is found in Microsoft Edge itself. Load edge://flags and look at the compatibility information that is displayed next to each experiment.

      • New Microsoft NTFS for Linux by Paragon Software [Ed: Software patents Trojan horse for Microsoft inside Linux. Avoid this proprietary software with Microsoft patent tax.]

        Paragon Software Group, a recognized data storage expert, releases Microsoft NTFS for Linux by Paragon Software– a tool that boosts your performance by granting full access to NTFS and HFS+ volumes from Linux devices. The transfer rate is the same for native Linux file systems and in some cases even better. Use HFS+ file system and its native journaling support for better file system integrity, when transferring files between Linux PC and Mac. Microsoft NTFS for Linux by Paragon Software includes additional utilities that lets you format any volume as NTFS or HFS+, check the formatted volumes for integrity and fix errors.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

    • Games

      • De Blob Guide

        I.N.K.T Corporation has taken over Chroma City and removed all color. Nobody goes outside any longer and its up to one blob to save the day. Enter de Blob! Smash I.N.K.T bots to acquire their color and pain-the-streets color again! Use de Blobs abilities to revive Chroma City by mixing colors, completing objectives, freepaint modes and even 4-player split screen modes.

      • Valve are having a rethink with Artifact, no updates due soon as they look to address the major issues

        In a pretty refreshing update from the Artifact team at Valve, they stated they’re looking into the major issues with it.

        In my original article posted at release for Artifact, I did mention how I enjoyed the actual gameplay. However, I also mentioned how it could end up costing you a lot of money even though it’s not free to play and there was no progression system (at the time). I still think launching without any kind of progression was a huge mistake and the tickets you had to pay for were not good value for money either.

        The game lost players at an alarming rate, something I also covered (#1, #2) and now it’s struggling to even keep 400 players on it. Valve certainly aren’t stupid though, they do have some incredibly smart developers and it seems they’re going to attempt to bring it back to life but this could take a while.

      • Valve have now officially teased their own VR headset with Valve Index

        While details are extremely light, we now know Valve’s VR headset is called the Valve Index and more details are coming soon.

      • Valve Is Teasing “Index” – Its Own VR Headset

        While Valve has long been collaborating with HTC and others on VR headsets and other ecosystem work to enhance virtual reality gaming as well as bringing VR support to Linux, the company is finally preparing to release its own high-end VR headset: the Valve Index.

        It’s been speculated for months and more that Valve would end up releasing their own VR headset paired with their Knuckles controllers while the wait should finally be over soon… On the Steam Store they are now teasing their own headset dubbed the Valve Index.

      • Minecraft removes references to Notch

        Microsoft, which has owned Minecraft since Notch sold all rights to it for $2.5bn back in 2014, is yet to comment on the decision. But the change feels like it has been a while coming.

      • Minecraft update removes most references to original creator

        The main menu of Minecraft has long been home to a series of rotating phrases of splash text on the top right-hand corner of the logo, which include hundreds of different jokes, catchphrases, and references. But the most recent update to the game has tellingly removed three splash text phrases from the game: “Made by Notch!,” “The Work of Notch!,” and “110813!” (the date that Persson got married).

      • Don’t Starve Together adds a new character with an animated short, major update due next month

        Don’t Starve Together, the incredibly stylish survival game from Klei Entertainment has a new updated out adding in the Wortox character.

        [...]

        What’s interesting, is that there’s multiple ways to actually get access to Wortox. You can either buy the Wortox Chest in-game, the Deluxe Chest DLC on Steam or you can “weave Wortox for 2700 spool” actually in the game. A very interesting way to do it, so those who want to support Klei further can pay a little more while dedicated gamers without the extra cash can basically unlock it in-game.

      • Steampunk first-person survival game ‘Volcanoids’ has gone through a small evolution

        The developer of Volcanoids has just pushed out a huge upgrade to their Early Access steampunk survival game and it’s pretty impressive stuff. Note: Key provided by the developer.

        For those not following, it’s the game where you travel around in a massive moving drill you also call home. You upgrade it, craft with it and so on it’s such a brilliant idea. The problem was, the initial version didn’t really have a lot to see and do. The developer took on tons of feedback and this massive patch is a step towards making it a much better game. This is what Early Access is truly for, to properly help shape a game into something good.

      • The action-RPG ‘Last Epoch’ has a huge new build out, plenty of new features

        Last Epoch is turning out to be an impressive action-RPG with good Linux support, with a developer I’ve been impressed with and a huge new feature-filled build is out. Originally funded on Kickstarter, Eleventh Hour Games managed to do rather well with over $250K pledged!

      • Tropico 6 releases today with Linux support from Limbic Entertainment and Kalypso Media

        El Presidente returns for one more try at building a prosperous city on the island state of Tropico, as expected the release comes with official Linux support. For those who’ve never played a Tropico game, it’s a very satirical take on city-builders and very different to things like Cities: Skylines.

      • Strategy adventure ‘Pathway’ from Robotality and Chucklefish has new footage, still coming to Linux

        Pathway definitely looks like an interesting game, developed by Robotality (Halfway) and published by Chucklefish (Starbound, Wargroove) and there’s new footage up on it.

        Little late on covering this, as the footage has been up since two weeks ago but I wanted to ensure the Linux version was still coming first. I managed to speak to Simon Bachmann from Robotality about Linux support and the reply was a massively positive “Of course it comes to Linux :)” so that’s awesome.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma Desktop + Unity Layout + Ubuntu Ambiance Theme

        Following my latest customization tutorial and my old 2016 one, this short tutorial explains how to install Ambiance theme from Ubuntu so the custom Plasma can look more like Unity. After you made the top and left panel, now you will have black titlebar with orange circle close-button and make the left panel translucent and finally install the famous Humanity icon theme. I hope you enjoy this better than my old tutorial. Happy tweaking!

      • KDE neon New Edition Names

        KDE neon offers a few different editions depending on what you’re interested in.

        We’ve renamed our editions a bit as the current names were causing confusion. This affects the URLs used for repos and filenames used for installable ISOs and Docker images.

        The editions are now:

        User Edition: the main event, built from released tars of KDE software, continuously updated as soon as releases are made assuming all the QA tests pass (which sometimes they don’t and so it gets held back until we fix them). Use this if unsure.

        Testing Edition: built from the beta Git branches of KDE apps (often the same as unstable), no automated QA, will contain bugs and breakage, useful for testing beta software. (Formerly Dev Stable Edition.)

        Unstable Edition: built from unstable master Git branches of KDE apps, no automated QA, will contain bugs and muchos breakage, useful for testing features in development software. (Formerly Dev Unstable Edition.)

        Developer Edition: An ISO with the unstable edition plus development headers pre-installed. Useful to not have to install all of Qt and KDE dev headers.

      • Latte and an Indicators tale

        Following Latte Colors tale, today I am going to introduce you another major feature that Latte git version supported the last month, Online Indicators.

      • February/March in KDE Itinerary

        It’s time again for another update on what has recently happened around KDE Itinerary. Together with the last two month summary this also covers the changes of the extraction engine and the KMail integration that will be part of the 19.04 application releases.

      • Trinity Desktop Environment R14.0.6 Released!

        The Trinity Desktop Environment (TDE) development team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of the new TDE R14.0.6 release. TDE is a complete software desktop environment designed for Unix-like operating systems, intended for computer users preferring a traditional desktop model, and is free/libre software.

        R14.0.6 is the sixth maintenance release of the R14.0 series, and is built on and improves the previous R14.0.5 version. Maintenance releases are intended to promptly bring bug fixes to users, while preserving overall stability through the avoidance of both major new features and major codebase re-factoring.

      • KDE3-Forked Trinity Desktop R14.0.6 Released

        Trinity Desktop R14.0.6 is now available primarily with bug fixes and other maintenance changes, including the addressing of a number of open CVEs. Among the fixes are taking care of CMake build system issues, supporting LDFLAGS, BSD fixes, crash fixes, and other updates to let KDE 3.5 packages still remain compatible and working with other software components of 2019.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Broadway adventures in Gtk4

        One of my long running side projects is a Gtk backend called “Broadway”. Instead of rendering to the screen this backend creates a HTTP server that you can connect to, and then exposes the UI remotely in the browser.

        The original version of broadway was essentially streaming image frames, although there were various ways to optimize what got sent. This matches pretty well with how Gtk 3 rendering works, particularly on Wayland. Every frame it calls out to all widgets, letting them draw on top of a buffer and then sends the final frame to the compositor. Broadway just inserts some image delta computation and JavaScript magic in the middle of this.

      • HTML5 Broadway Backend Is Seeing Renewed Attention Ahead Of GTK 4.0

        The Broadway back-end has needed several adjustments to the rearchitecting that has gone on for the GTK4 tool-kit. These GTK4 changes have been to make modern GPU-based rendering more suitable in an OpenGL and Vulkan world but has made some Broadway changes more difficult and other areas easier. GTK4′s Broadway back-end makes more use of the GTK native CSS, turns render nodes into actual DOM nodes, and even supporting 3D transforms via CSS.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Pinguy OS 18.04.2 Point Release

        Not much to report on this release. Its Just an update with a few modifications to make sure everything is working well.

        Please see older posts for more details about PinguyOS 18.04.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Going to SUSECON ’19? Get $5!

        Have you been coveting your very own SUSE chameleon? How about a pair of SUSE socks? Or maybe it’s a notebook that you want to take home? The options to turn your office green are endless. And to jumpstart your journey, the Support team wants to give you $5!

      • Six First Impressions of SUSE Cloud Application Platform

        While I’ve been developing for Kubernetes for a few years now, I am pretty new to both SUSE and Cloud Foundry. I’ve got to say that both have been great experiences! SUSE is a fantastic place to work and our Cloud Foundry distribution (SUSE Cloud Application Platform) makes my development life easier.

      • A Syllabus to SUSE CaaS Platform at SUSECON

        NASHVILLE, BABY!!! That’s right, I’m hitting my old college stomping grounds for SUSECON!!
        Returning to Nashville brings me memories of housing Ben and Jerry’s Stephen Colbert Americone Dream from the Piggly Wiggly after learning that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were traded away from the Celtics, finding the single Dunkin’ Donuts in Nashville and moving into the apartment building next to it, blasting Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt out of my dorm room windows, and paying more attention to the girl who sat next to me in ECON 2 than my professor (Sorry, Dr. C…)

        Ah man. Those were the days…

        Anyway, SUSECON! I’m the PMM for SUSE CaaS Platform! That’s what I’m here to write about!

    • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • New FAI version and ISO images

        The new version FAI is available in two variants. FAI 5.8.4 is for Debian buster and FAI 5.8.4~bpo9+2 is the same for the stable distribution called stretch, including the configs for stretch.

      • Handshake donates $300,000 USD to Debian

        In 2018 the Debian project received a donation of $300,000 USD from Handshake, an organization developing an experimental peer-to-peer root domain naming system.

        This significant financial contribution will help Debian to continue the hardware replacement plan designed by the Debian System Administrators, renewing servers and other hardware components and thus making the development and community infrastructure of the Project more reliable.

      • Series of screencasts related to DevOps and Debian packaging

        The screencasts are straightforward without any fuzz, just how this and that has to be done on a workbench. More stuff is coming up if there are some subscriptions.

      • Molly de Blanc: Free software activities (March, 2019)

        March was overrun with work, work, work. Planning a conference takes a lot out of you and consumes a lot of time, even when you’re getting paid to do it.

      • Montreal’s Debian & Stuff – April 2019

        We had another Debian & Stuff in Montreal last weekend. Some people from the local FOSS community wanted to gather and watch the LibrePlanet 2019 livestream and we thought merging it with a D&S would be a good idea.

        People came and went, but all in all around 10 people showed up and we had tons of fun. I ended up hacking some more on my Tor Puppet module and played around with packaging the Tomu’s bootloader in Debian.

        Some of the talks were really great. The videos aren’t online yet, but if you eventually want to watch some of them, Tarek Loubani’s opening keynote on FOSS and medical devices in Gaza was amazing (and hard to watch1). I also really enjoyed Shauna Gordon-McKeon’s talk on governing the software commons.

      • Derivatives

        • The 4 best Debian Linux derivatives to check out

          The Debian Linux operating system is one of the oldest Linux distributions in history. It’s highly influential and used as a base in some of the most famous Linux operating systems.

          Due to how influential Debian is, many derivatives have come on the scene over the years. These spin-offs of Debian borrow the core philosophy of the project but add in a twist, such as a focus on security, ease of use, etc. There are a whole lot of Debian Linux spinoffs out there. It is because of this that, we’ve decided to list off the best ones. So, here are the four best Debian derivatives to check out!

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” Beta Released, New Artwork for Mageia 7, Zorin OS Beta 15 Now Available, vChain Launches CodeNotary, and OpenSource Summit and Embedded Linux Conference Deadline for Proposals Is April 2

            The Ubuntu team announced the beta pre-release of the Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” Desktop, Server and Cloud products. The beta release also includes images for Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, UbuntuKylin, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Studio and Xubuntu. Note that “The beta images are known to be reasonably free of showstopper CD build or installer bugs, while representing a very recent snapshot of 19.04 that should be representative of the features intended to ship with the final release expected on April 18th, 2019.” To upgrade to the beta from Ubuntu 18.10, follow the instructions here And to download the images, go here.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Beta Released For Testing: Download ISO & Torrent Files

            buntu 19.04 Disco Dingo Beta is finally here. In its official blog post, the Ubuntu Team has announced the release for Desktop, Server, and Cloud devices. The release date for stable version is April 18th, 2019.

            It goes without saying that the 19.04 release also brings along the betas for official Ubuntu flavors like Ubuntu MATE, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu Studio, Xubuntu, and Ubuntu Kylin.

          • Download Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo Beta, Released For Testing

            Ubuntu 19.04 Beta is loaded with Linux kernel 5.0. It also feature GNOME 3.32 Taipei.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo Beta Now Available With Linux Kernel 5.0 and GNOME 3.32
          • Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo Beta now available with Linux kernel 5.0 and GNOME 3.32

            Ubuntu is a great operating system. In fact, it has been so good for so long that many people take it for granted. Seriously, folks, think about how remarkable it is that such a high-quality Linux distribution is available for free. Despite it not costing anything, Ubuntu is arguably superior to the much-maligned Windows 10. Microsoft’s operating system actually costs money now, and many users didn’t even upgrade when it was offered for free.

          • Ubuntu MATE 18.04 Beta 1 for Raspberry Pi

            We are preparing Ubuntu MATE 18.04 (Bionic Beaver) for the Raspberry Pi. With this Beta pre-release, you can see what we are trying out in preparation for our next (stable) version.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Beta is Now Available to Download

            The public beta of Ubuntu 19.04 ‘Disco Dingo’, the next major update to the hugely popular Linux-based Ubuntu operating system, is now available to download.

            The launch of the beta, the only one planned in the current development cycle, will allow enthusiasts and developers to help test the latest update ahead of its stable release next month.

            Not long now; the final, battle-hardened version of Ubuntu 19.04 will be released on April 18th — if you haven’t already, do pop the date in your diary!

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo beta now available, stable release coming in April

            Like sands through the hour glass, so are the releases of Ubuntu. The folks at Canonical push out a new version of the popular GNU/Linux distribution every six months, and the next one is scheduled to ship April 18th, 2019.

            But if you want to get an early look, Ubuntu 19.04 beta is available for download starting today.

          • Canonical releases Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo beta images for testing

            According to Adam Conrad from Canonical, the beta images include the features that will be available in the final release. In addition, the images are reasonably free of showstopper and installer bugs, therefore, those who install the beta should be on the hunt for small issues that have slipped under the radar.

            In this update users will see a new default wallpaper as is customary for Ubuntu updates, the new Yaru theme includes more icons for third-party apps, GNOME 3.32 is now the default desktop environment in the main version of Ubuntu, and the Linux kernel has been updated to version 5.0 which includes support for newer hardware.

            If you’d like to upgrade from Ubuntu 18.10, you can follow these instructions. If you’d prefer to start with a fresh setup you can find ISO images for desktop and server here. The other Ubuntu spins such as Kubuntu have also got beta releases, you can find links to those in Canonical’s announcement.

          • Artificial intelligence receiving huge Kubernetes boost

            There has been a 14-times increase in the amount of Artificial Intelligence (AI) start-ups launching since the turn of the century, according to a study by Stanford University. In the UK alone, says Carmine Rimi, AI product manager at Canonical – the company behind Ubuntu, AI developers witnessed a 200% spike in venture capital funding in the past year alone; as the transformative potential of AI smashes all boundaries.
            The creation of AI applications to enhance ways of doing business and, indeed, people’s lives is a huge task. These applications are complicated to develop and build, as they involve such varying types of data; making porting to different platforms troublesome.

          • Sick of Slow Snap App Startup Times? The Cause Has Been Identified

            The slow start-up time of newly installed Snap apps has been a point of contention for many Ubuntu Linux users for a while.

            But developers behind the fledgling app format have announced that a noticeable improvement in first-run loading times is on the way.

            [...]

            Graphical Snap apps, like VLC, VSCode, etc, query the font-cache on start-up.

            An app will start-up promptly if a valid font-cache is available and accessible. If it isn’t, one has to be generated.

            It’s this task that Igor blames for the the slow start-up, continuing:

            “[Font cache generation] can take a long time, especially if there is a large number of fonts that needs to be enumerated […] during which the GUI application may not render on the screen, and users will interpret this delay as a slow application startup.”

            By leveraging ‘font cache binaries’ in Snapd, the underlying “engine” that powers the Snap system, startup times have been improved by as much as 6x.

            Linux users running Snapd 2.36.2 (or later) automatically benefit from this tweak — and it’s not the only fix ’em up on the way.

          • Full Circle Magazine: Full Circle Magazine #143

            This month:
            * Command & Conquer
            * How-To : Python, Freeplane, and Darktable
            * Graphics : Inkscape
            * Ubuntu Devices: OTA-8
            * My Opinion: GDPR Pt3
            * Linux Loopback: BSD
            * Book Review: Practical Binary Analysis
            * Interview: Simon Quigley (Lubuntu)
            * Ubuntu Games: This Is The Police 2
            plus: News, The Daily Waddle, Q&A, and more.

          • Ultrabook & Bionic – Running Unity

            I am quite pleased with this upgrade. With Xenial supported until 2021, Unity is a viable choice, with fixes and updates that will allow you to continue using the desktop environment without issues. It still looks fresh and modern, a sign of good design (sign, design, get it) back in the day. Trusty remains the favorite son, though.

            There were no regressions – apart from the Fn keys et al – no software seizure, my data was fully intact, and on top of that, the desktop was rather sprightly. Indeed, if you compare to the netbook experience, there’s none of that, on the contrary, but then, the age gap and the price bracket delta make a huge difference. Unity was stable and fast, just the thing that I want in my production environment.

            Regardless of how the upcoming Plasma test pans out, I’m very happy. This already gives me a necessary degree of freedom and a sense of solace that I can continue using the Ultrabook without compromises. Good. There. In fact, I might even do a series of combat tests on this box, too, similar to the Slimbook reports. Which brings Plasma into focus. And that shall be the focus of the next article in this little series. Keep your eyelids peeled. Or something.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Kubuntu Disco Dingo (19.04) Beta Released

              The beta of Disco Dingo (to become 19.04) has now been released, and is available for download at http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/kubuntu/releases/19.04/beta/

              This milestone features images for Kubuntu and other Ubuntu flavours.

              Pre-releases of the Disco Dingo are not encouraged for:

              * Anyone needing a stable system
              * Anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage.

            • Top 5 Reasons Why Linux Mint Is Better

              Top 5 Reasons Why Linux Mint Is Better. In this video why I think Linux Mint is better. Not saying Linux Mint the best distro, I’m saying that it’s often times better than that “other” OS most people are using. I also think it’s better than some other distros out there. In future videos, I’ll be offering the same Linux distro insights on why I think the distro I’m featuring is better than its alternatives and why.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Apache Software Foundation Continues To Grow Open-Source Software

    Open-source in 2019 is commonplace and serves as the foundation for much of modern IT infrastructure, including the cloud – but it wasn’t entirely that way in 1999.

    20 years ago the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) got started as a group to help organize and support open-source project efforts. According to the ASF, it now provides over $20 billion worth of software at no cost, under an open-source model. The ASF in 2019 helps to manage and incubate over 350 open-source projects and initiatives as it continues to deliver on its founding vision.

    “What started before the term ‘Open Source’ was coined has now grown to support hundreds of projects, thousands of contributors and millions of users,” said Phil Steitz, Chairman of The Apache Software Foundation, wrote in a media advisory. “The Apache Way has shown itself to be incredibly resilient in the wake of the many changes in software and technology over the last twenty years.”

  • Dbus-Broker 19 Released With Fixes For This Speedy D-Bus User-Space Implementation

    With BUS1 not to be found (or rather, very infrequently seeing any code commits let alone any clear trajectory yet for getting into the mainline kernel), Dbus-Broker that’s worked on by most of the same developers continues maturing as a high-performance D-Bus compliant user-space implementation.

  • Apache Software Foundation’s 20th anniversary, 3D-print system for optical cardiography, and more news

    An international research team has developed a multiparametric visual mapping technique that can simultaneously monitor multiple factors affecting heart health while creating 3D models. The method was developed to better understand cardiac arrhythmias. This open source, expandable system is openly available and can potentially save other researchers up to $20,000.

  • Events

    • Martin Michlmayr: FOSSASIA 2019 in Singapore

      I attended FOSSASIA earlier this month. This conference has been on my radar for many years but I never managed to attend before.

      I was impressed by the organization of the conference. Furthermore, I liked that the audience was completely different to the conferences I normally attend. There were so many new people. FOSSASIA has grown not just to be a conference, but also an umbrella organization for several open source projects.

    • The future of HTTP Symposium

      This year’s version of curl up started a little differently: With an afternoon of HTTP presentations. The event took place the same week the IETF meeting has just ended here in Prague so we got the opportunity to invite people who possibly otherwise wouldn’t have been here… Of course this was only possible thanks to our awesome sponsors, visible in the image above!

      Lukáš Linhart from Apiary started out with “Web APIs: The Past, The Present and The Future”. A journey trough XML-RPC, SOAP and more. One final conclusion might be that we’re not quite done yet…

      James Fuller from MarkLogic talked about “The Defenestration of Hypermedia in HTTP”. How HTTP web technologies have changed over time while the HTTP paradigms have survived since a very long time.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Yamanote: A software development and deployment system

        I left Mozilla back in July, 2018. There are many reasons for this decision, and I’ll talk about just one here: I decided to Help People Get Jobs. The following text is from a blog post I wrote at work. I have reposted it here, edited for length and content (Internal Indeed systems are not referenced.)

        At Indeed, we now use a software development and deployment system called “Yamanote.” Yamanote takes its name from the Yamanote Line (山手線) in Tokyo, Japan. It is one of Tokyo’s busiest and most important lines, connecting most of Tokyo’s major stations and urban centers. The Yamanote line is a continuous railway loop. Trains which run clockwise are known as sotomawari (外回り, “outer circle”) and those counter-clockwise as uchi-mawari (内回り, “inner circle”). We deploy software on two lines as well: QA and PROD. Just like the Yamanote line, our goal is for our software trains to run reliably, safely, and securely, in a continuous ring of green.

      • Firefox services experiments on SUMO

        Over the last week or so, we’ve been promoting Firefox services on support.mozilla.org.

        In this experiment, which we’re running for the next two weeks, we are promoting the free services Sync, Send and Monitor. These services fit perfectly into our mission: to help people create take control of their online lives.

        Firefox Sync allows Firefox users to instantly share preferences, bookmarks, history, passwords, open tabs and add-ons to other devices.

        Firefox Send is a free encrypted file transfer service that allows people to safely share files from any browser.

        Firefox Monitor allows you to check your email address against known data breaches across the globe. Optionally you can sign up to receive a full report of past breaches and new breach alerts.

      • Hacks.Mozilla.Org: A Real-Time Wideband Neural Vocoder at 1.6 kb/s Using LPCNet

        This is an update on the LPCNet project, an efficient neural speech synthesizer from Mozilla’s Emerging Technologies group. In an an earlier demo from late last year, we showed how LPCNet combines signal processing and deep learning to improve the efficiency of neural speech synthesis.

        This time, we turn LPCNet into a very low-bitrate neural speech codec that’s actually usable on current hardware and even on phones (as described in this paper). It’s the first time a neural vocoder is able to run in real-time using just one CPU core on a phone (as opposed to a high-end GPU)! The resulting bitrate — just 1.6 kb/s — is about 10 times less than what wideband codecs typically use. The quality is much better than existing very low bitrate vocoders. In fact, it’s comparable to that of more traditional codecs using higher bitrates.

      • Will Kahn-Greene: Code of conduct: supporting in projects

        This week, Mozilla added PRs to all the repositories that Mozilla has on GitHub that aren’t forks, Servo, or Rust. The PRs add a CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md file and also include some instructions on what projects can do with it. This standardizes inclusion of the code of conduct text in all projects.

        I’m a proponent of codes of conduct. I think they’re really important. When I was working on Bleach with Greg, we added code of conduct text in September of 2017. We spent a bunch of time thinking about how to do that effectively and all the places that users might encounter Bleach.

      • Mozilla tries to do Java as it should have been – with a WASI spec for all devices, computers, operating systems

        Mozilla this week announced a project called WASI (WebAssembly System Interface) to standardize how WebAssembly code interacts with operating systems. If the project succeeds, it will do what Oracle’s Java Virtual Machine does, but better and more broadly.

        WebAssembly, or WASM, is a binary format for a virtual machine that can run across multiple hardware architectures. WASM code can be produced from various programming languages like C/C++, Go, and Rust as a compilation target.

  • LibreOffice

    • An easy way to get your own private office suite with Collabora Online for Nextcloud or ownCloud

      Univention Corporate Server (UCS) offers the easiest way to start using Collabora Online together with Nextcloud or ownCloud in few minutes.

      With Collabora Online app appliance with Nextcloud or ownCloud, you install Collabora Online with an already integrated and preconfigured Nextcloud or ownCloud. Once you completed a simple graphical setup with a web-based administration interface, you can use the online office and cloud file sharing solution directly.

      Here you have a quick installation guide to show you how easy is to start working with Collabora Online via UCS.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

    • James Bottomley: A Roadmap for Eliminating Patents in Open Source

      The realm of Software Patents is often considered to be a fairly new field which isn’t really influenced by anything else that goes on in the legal lansdcape. In particular there’s a very old field of patent law called exhaustion which had, up until a few years ago, never been applied to software patents. This lack of application means that exhaustion is rarely raised as a defence against infringement and thus it is regarded as an untested strategy. Van Lindberg recently did a FOSDEM presentation containing interesting ideas about how exhaustion might apply to software patents in the light of recent court decisions. The intriguing possibility this offers us is that we may be close to an enforceable court decision (at least in the US) that would render all patents in open source owned by community members exhausted and thus unenforceable. The purpose of this blog post is to explain the current landscape and how we might be able to get the necessary missing court decisions to make this hope a reality.

      What is Patent Exhaustion?

      Patent law is ancient, going back to Greece in around 500BC. However, every legal system has been concerned that patent holders, being an effective monopoly with the legal right to exclude others, did not abuse that monopoly position. This lead to the concept that if you used your monopoly power to profit, you should only be able to do it once for the same item so that absolute property rights couldn’t be clouded by patents. This leads to something called the exhaustion doctrine: so if Alice holds a patent on some item which she sells to Bob and Bob later sells the same item to Charlie, Alice can’t force Bob or Charlie to give her a part of their sale proceeds in exchange for her allowing Charlie to practise the patent on the item. The patent rights are said to be exhausted with the sale from Alice to Bob, so there are no patent rights left to enforce on Charlie. The exhaustion doctrine has since been expanded to any authorized transfer, even if no money changes hands (so if Alice simply gave Bob the item instead of selling it, the patent still exhausts at that transaction and Bob is still free to give or sell the item to Charlie without interference from Alice).

      Of course, modern US patent rights have been around now for two centuries and in that time manufacturers have tried many ingenious schemes to get around the exhaustion doctrine profitably, all of which have so far failed in the courts, leading to quite a wealth of case law on the subject. The most interesting recent example (Lexmark v Impression) was over whether a patent holder could use their patent power to enforce any onward conditions at all for which the US Supreme Court came to the conclusive finding: they can’t and goes on to say that all patent rights in the item terminate in the first authorized transfer. That doesn’t mean no post sale conditions can be imposed, they can by contract or licence or other means, it just means post sale conditions can’t be enforced by patent actions. This is the bind for Lexmark: their sales contracts did specify that empty cartridges couldn’t be resold, so their customers violated that contract by selling the cartridges to Impression to refill and resell. However, that contract was between Lexmark and the customer not Lexmark and Impression, so absent patent remedies Lexmark has no contractual case against Impression, only against its own customers.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC 9 Is Being Worked Into Shape For Releasing In The Weeks Ahead

      GCC 9 release manager Richard Biener of SUSE has provided a status report concerning the state of getting the GNU Compiler Collection 9.1 shipped.

      Since the last status report, the developers have halved the number of P1 bug reports, the most severe regressions. There still are 12 P1 priority regressions blocking GCC 9.1.0 from moving forward, but they hope to address that in the weeks ahead. There’s also the possibility some of these issues will deemed not P1 priority and demoted to P2/P3 and thus clear the compiler release to happen.

      While only P1 issues are blocking the release, there are current 158 regressions of P2 (down 27), 25 P3 regressions (down 7), and 138 P4 regressions (down 31).

    • What Red Hat OpenShift Connector for JetBrains products offers developers

      We are extremely pleased to announce that the preview release of the Red Hat OpenShift Connector for JetBrains products (IntelliJ IDEA, WebStorm, etc.) is now available in Preview Mode and supports Java and Node.js components. You can download the OpenShift Connector plugin from the JetBrains marketplace or install it directly from the plugins gallery in JetBrains products.

      In this article, we’ll look at features and benefits of the plugin and installation details, and show a demo of how using the plugin improves the end-to-end experience of developing and deploying Spring Boot applications to your OpenShift cluster.

      Red Hat OpenShift is a container application platform that brings the power of Kubernetes and containers to the enterprise. Regardless of the applications architecture, OpenShift lets you easily and quickly build, develop, and deploy in nearly any infrastructure, public or private.

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux compiler toolset updates: Clang/LLVM 7.0, Go 1.11, Rust 1.31

      We are pleased to announce the general availability of these three compiler toolsets for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7:

      Clang/LLVM 7.0
      Go 1.11
      Rust 1.31
      These toolsets can be installed from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Devtools channel. See the “Compiler toolset details” section of this article to learn about the new features.

      These toolsets became officially supported Red Hat offerings as of the previous release.

    • Working With JSON Data in Python

      JSON is a lightweight data-interchange format. It allows us to represent the objects in our Python programs as human-readable text that can be sent over the internet. Lots of APIs and databases use JSON for communication.

      You’ll learn how to work with Python’s built-in json module to serialize the data in your programs into JSON format. Then, you’ll deserialize some JSON from an online API and convert it into Python objects.

    • Quarkus: Why compile to native?

      Quarkus is Kubernetes native, and to accomplish that we’ve spent a lot of time working across a number of different areas, such as the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and various framework optimizations. And, there’s much more work still to be done. One area that has piqued the interest of the developer community is Quarkus’s comprehensive and seamless approach to generating an operating system specific (aka native) executable from your Java code, as you do with languages like C and C++, which we believe will typically be used at the end of the build-test-deploy cycle.

      Although the native compilation is important, as we’ll discuss later, Quarkus works really well with vanilla OpenJDK Hotspot, thanks to the significant performance improvements we’ve made to the entire stack. The native executable aspect Quarkus offers is optional and, if you don’t want it or your applications don’t need it, then you can ignore it. In fact, even when you are using native images, Quarkus still relies heavily on OpenJDK. The well-received dev mode is able to deliver near-instantaneous change-test cycles all due to Hotspot’s rich dynamic code execution capabilities. Additionally, GraalVM internally uses OpenJDK’s class library and HotSpot to produce a native image.

    • wxPython 4 and PubSub

      The Publish-Subscribe pattern is pretty common in computer science and very useful too. The wxPython GUI toolkit has had an implementation of it for a very long time in wx.lib.pubsub. This implementation is based on the PyPubSub package. While you could always download PyPubSub and use it directly instead, it was nice to be able to just run wxPython without an additional dependency.

      However, as of wxPython 4.0.4, wx.lib.pubsub is now deprecated and will be removed in a future version of wxPython. So now you will need to download PyPubSub or PyDispatcher if you want to use the Publish-Subscribe pattern easily in wxPython.

    • Iteration in Python: The for, while, break, and continue statements
    • Wing Tips: Auto-Editing in Wing Pro (Part 1 of 3)
    • Episode #123: Time to right the py-wrongs
    • Test and Code: 70: Non-traditional paths to software and the skills required – Dane Hillard
    • Doing Math with Python in Coder’s Bookshelf Humble Bundle
    • Writing a Minimum-Heap in Python3
    • 3 Ways to Upskill in Python with DataCamp and Anaconda
    • Six easy ways to run your Jupyter Notebook in the cloud
    • Python interview question: tuple vs list
    • AIOps and our Robot Kubernetes Kops

      Linux Academy has recently published courses covering the AIOps and the Python technologies mentioned in this article.

    • IFTTT GMail Options Removed [Ed: When your stuff depends on "the cloud" you're at the mercy of someone else.]

      Most of the integration of Gmail features in IFTTT are being removed on March 31. IFTTT apps will still be able to send an email, but will no longer be able to trigger actions based on emails received.

      Google is removing the means to carry out such actions as a side effect of its larger plans to tighten security. The overall plans were announced back in October when Google said it was reviewing all third party applications to see that they conform to stricter security settings.

    • What should developers use? Java EE, Jakarta EE, MicroProfile, or maybe all of them!

      So many options, so little time. How can developers choose between Java EE, Jakarta EE, and Eclipse Microprofile? In this article, Sebastian Daschner goes over the options and explains why a mix of all three is the best of all worlds for resilient, cloud-native apps.
      It seems that more and more enterprise technology is emerging that is based on Java EE. There are a lot of options to choose from, between Java EE (now referred to as Jakarta EE), MicroProfile, and combinations of their APIs. If we look at available application containers, the number of possibilities is even higher. Which platforms, particular standards, and runtimes should enterprise developers base their applications on in year 2019?

    • SREs Wish Automation Solved All Their Problems

      Although automation is the top technical skill needed by SREs according to last year’s report, the reality is that the day-to-day responsibilities of IT operations cannot always be eliminated by writing a new script or creating an improved infrastructure configuration. It turns out that automating the CI/CD process is just one of many SRE responsibilities.

    • Interrupting Coders Isn’t So Bad

      Here’s a hot take: disrupting coders isn’t all that bad.

      Some disruptions are certainly bad but they usually aren’t. The coder community has overblown the impact. A disruption can be a good thing. How harmful disruption might be a symptom of other problems.

      There are different kinds of disruptions. They are caused by other coders on your team, managers and other non-coders, or meetings throughout the day.

    • Go – A Key Language in Enterprise Application Development?

      So rankings- let’s talk about the TIOBE index, which is the one where we saw skyrocket and then later it went down, but it’s going up again. Rankings matter. It is an indicator that the language is getting popular. Why is it getting popular? What is happening is that a lot of startups have adopted Go and they have found success with that. So Uber is pretty much Go with their microservices and all of that. There’s a lot of Go at segment, if you know, segment. So there are a lot of startups that were writing in Go and they found it really fast and they found productivity was high, and they also found that they were using less resources. As a result, performance, productivity and simplicity. So it’s been great.

    • Best Node.js IDEs In 2019

      Let’s quickly jump into the list of best IDEs for Node.js programming language.

    • JIT Is Approved For PHP 8 To Open Up Faster CPU Performance

      It was widely expected that PHP 8 would introduce JIT (Just In Time) compiler functionality while now that experimental work has been approved.

      PHP JIT support has been in development for a while via a separate tree while now a vote among PHP core developers has made it official that PHP 8 will introduce the JIT support.

    • PHP GR8

      Unless you have been living under a rock, or are from the past (in which case, welcome), you will be aware that a JIT is coming to PHP 8: The vote ended, quietly, today, with a vast majority in favour of merging into PHP 8, so, it’s official.

      Throw some crazy shapes in celebration, suggestion given in Fig 1, and it’s even called “The (Detroit) JIT” …

      Now sit down and read the following myth busting article, we’re going to clear up some confusion around what the JIT is, what it will benefit, and delve into how it works (but only a little, because I don’t want you to be bored).

      Since I don’t know who I’m talking to, I’m going to start at the beginning with the simple questions and work up to the complex ones, if you already are sure you know the answer to the question in a heading, you can skip that part …

    • Monkey Patching in Python: Explained with Examples
    • Grab an Image From Your O-scope The Easy Way

      This work was inspired by the efforts of [cibomahto], who spent some time controlling the Rigol with Linux and Python. This work will plot whatever is being captured by the scope in a window, in Linux, but sometimes you just need a screencap of whatever is on the scope; that’s why there were weird Polaroid adapters for HP scopes in the day.

    • Executing A Vehicle Keyless Entry Attack

      [Gonçalo]’s set-up uses a YARD stick One transceiver dongle as its transmitter, and an RTL-SDR for receive. A GNU Radio setup is used to retrieve the key data, and some custom Python code does the remaining work. We wouldn’t advocate using this in the wild and it could conceivably also gain you access to another car with a flashing light on top, but it’s an interesting exposé of the techniques involved.

Leftovers

  • The EU is getting rid of daylight saving time, and now countries can choose to stay on ‘permanent’ summer or winter time

    Countries that choose to keep their clocks on permanent summer time would make their final time change on the last Sunday in March 2021, the EU parliament said. Those who prefer to stay in permanent winter time will adjust their clocks for the final time on the last Sunday in October 2021.

  • Why Pedestrian Deaths Are At A 30-Year High

    Across the U.S., 6,227 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in 2018, the highest number in nearly 30 years. The findings from a Governors Highway Safety Association report show that many of these deaths occurred in big cities like Houston and Miami.

    The signs are all over most cities — stretches of road without crosswalks and people needing to walk on roads built for rush-hour traffic. But the real increase, experts say, comes from larger trends: drivers and pedestrians distracted by their phones and a growth of larger vehicles on the road.

    Macon, Ga., isn’t immune to any of these problems. Home to 110,000 residents, one in every 8,000 died in a pedestrian accident last year. Violet Poe lost her friend Amos Harris, 62, in 2014.

    “Amos was a good person. He was really kindhearted,” she said. Walking between traffic cones and the curb of a five-lane highway, she pointed to the street he would have walked down that night. Harris had been out after dark, searching for his nephew, when he crossed Riverview Road at a blinking light. “He came down and crossed here and was hit,” she explained. His body was thrown 100 feet.

  • Science

    • Error mitigation extends the computational reach of a noisy quantum processor

      Quantum computation, a paradigm of computing that is completely different from classical methods, benefits from theoretically proved speed-ups for certain problems and can be used to study the properties of quantum systems1. Yet, because of the inherently fragile nature of the physical computing elements (qubits), achieving quantum advantages over classical computation requires extremely low error rates for qubit operations, as well as substantial physical qubits, to realize fault tolerance via quantum error correction2,3. However, recent theoretical work4,5 has shown that the accuracy of computation (based on expectation values of quantum observables) can be enhanced through an extrapolation of results from a collection of experiments of varying noise. Here we demonstrate this error mitigation protocol on a superconducting quantum processor, enhancing its computational capability, with no additional hardware modifications. We apply the protocol to mitigate errors in canonical single- and two-qubit experiments and then extend its application to the variational optimization6,7,8 of Hamiltonians for quantum chemistry and magnetism9. We effectively demonstrate that the suppression of incoherent errors helps to achieve an otherwise inaccessible level of accuracy in the variational solutions using our noisy processor. These results demonstrate that error mitigation techniques will enable substantial improvements in the capabilities of near-term quantum computing hardware.

    • New Medication Gives Mice Bigger Muscles

      It is common knowledge that as people grow older they lose a large part of their muscle mass—and neither are their bones what they once were. Researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, working together with researchers at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam have now studied a new group of medication which could prove beneficial for the elderly and the chronically ill who suffer a loss of bone- and muscle mass.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Trump Is Providing Cover for Radical Anti-Choice Activists on College Campuses

      President Trump announced plans at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to sign an executive order protecting right-wing activism and organizing at public universities and colleges. Of course, it’s not Trump’s aim to protect free expression on college campuses, but to further empower far-right organizations on college campuses.

      Trump’s executive order, cheered by anti-choice groups, will have far-reaching consequences at public colleges, including for reproductive rights advocacy.

      With his latest executive order, the president is handing a victory to reactionary groups that operate on college campuses, groups that have spent the last several years framing protest against them as infringements on their right to free speech. There have long been culture wars waged on U.S. campuses, and the latest wave has brought fascist speakers and organizations—chiefly Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer.

      The executive order, which was signed at a White House ceremony on March 21, states that “[the Trump] Administration seeks to promote free and open debate on college and university campuses.” The order states that “the heads of covered agencies shall … ensure institutions that receive Federal research or education grants promote free inquiry, including through compliance with all applicable Federal laws, regulations, and policies.” In essence, the order will allow the president to withhold federal funding from public higher education institutions that do not meet the administration’s criteria for “promoting free inquiry.”

    • The Health Care Crisis in Rural America

      We’ve got a rural health care emergency on the horizon.

      Rural hospitals are closing or teetering on the brink of closure at an alarming rate. More than a hundred have closed since 2005 and hundreds more are on life support. Long-term care facilities are vanishing across rural America or being bought up by large corporations who care about profit, not the care of our loved ones.

      Most rural hospitals have even stopped delivering babies — you’ll need to go to the city for that, so plan ahead.

      I know firsthand. I’m a registered nurse and lifelong Iowan from the country. I’ve kept a close eye on where we’ve been with health care, and where it appears we’re headed. It’s not looking too good for my community and others if we stay on our current failed path.

      Medicaid expansion was supposed to help here in Iowa. It sure didn’t — because we handed the program over to private, for-profit “managed care organizations.” What we got in return was less care — and more services denied, facilities shuttered, and lives lost to corporate greed.

      Hospitals that were already struggling now have to submit and re-submit claims to these private companies and wait months, if not years, to get paid. Even without privatized Medicaid, we’d still be facing an impending rural healthcare emergency. Privatization merely hastened what was already happening.

    • ‘See You In Court’: ACLU Vows Legal Action as Georgia GOP Passes ‘Unconstitutional’ 6-Week Abortion Ban

      After Georgia’s GOP-controlled legislature on Friday passed a six-week abortion ban, the ACLU had a simple message for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who is expected to sign the bill into law: “we will see you in court.”

      “Georgia has one of the worst maternal death rates in the nation,” Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in statement. “Black women in Georgia have a maternal death rate of more than three times the unacceptably high rate for white women.”

      “This bill further erodes the health and well-being of Georgia’s women,” Young continued, “and reveals a callous disregard for their well-established constitutional rights.”

      Laura Simmons, Georgia state director of NARAL Pro-Choice, called the Republican legislation “an all-out assault on the reproductive health and safety of Georgia women.”

    • Why is the government allowing its own drug research to be monopolized for profit?

      How do we eradicate HIV/AIDS? One route is a vaccine, but so far that has proved a very difficult research problem. There is an ongoing clinical trial of one promising treatment in South Africa, but unlike the smallpox or polio vaccines, it appears to provide only moderate protection. Another is “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” or PrEP — drugs which prevent HIV infection if taken every day. One such treatment called emtricitabine/tenofovir (better known by its brand name Truvada) works very well for this, cutting the risk of infection by up to 93 percent.

      But there is a problem. As The Washington Post reports, in the United States, Truvada is monopolized by the pharmaceutical giant Gilead, which charges between $1,600 and $2,000 a month for the treatment (the wholesale price is $1,414). Bizarrely, the studies proving Truvada works for PrEP were conducted and paid for almost entirely by the federal government (the Gates Foundation also helped). The Centers for Disease Control even holds a patent on this specific treatment.

      Yet the government is doing nothing to prevent this outrageous price-gouging, which places a near-insurmountable barrier to getting the drug out to all who need it. It’s an object lesson in the dangers of allowing private companies to profiteer off government research.

    • Sanders Bets Big on Medicare-for-All

      The 2019-model Bernie Sanders has aged well, looking as spry as he did four years ago. His speeches are the same, too. But where they were once dismissed as too radical, they are now mainstream, clearly focusing on the ills of an America that has grown more inequitable since he last ran for president.

      Those were my impressions when I joined about 12,000 others last week and heard him speak at Grand Park, a big grassy space across from Los Angeles City Hall.

      The ability of his organization to build such a crowd in a city accused—wrongly—of political apathy was impressive. Almost a year shy of the California presidential primary, Sanders’ team had assembled an email network and social media connections, recruited and deployed dozens of volunteers, relentlessly contacted lists of potential supporters, and moved them into long lines, patiently waiting to enter the park.

    • The Case for Medicare for All

      A single-payer health-insurance system can finance good-quality coverage for all U.S. residents while still reducing overall health-care spending by roughly 10%, according to a study I co-authored last November. All Americans would be able to get care from their chosen providers without having to pay premiums, deductibles or copayments.

    • Republicans on Health Care: Do Vast Harm

      This week, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, a Republican, announced that his predecessor, Jeff Sessions, just hadn’t gone far enough when he asked a federal judge to kill the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions—that is, stuff like asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure.

      Barr told an appeals court that he does not want it to merely murder that one provision but, instead, will insist that it massacre the ACA’s entire 1,990 pages—death to every clause protecting patients from insurance company abuses, every portion devoted to containing costs, every phrase extending health care to the nation’s young adults and working poor.

      It is essential, Barr contends, that the court rip insurance from 21 million people covered by the ACA health insurance marketplaces and Medicaid expansion; that the court deny insurance to 2 million young adults covered by their parents’ plans; that the court foreclose substance abuse treatment to 800,000 Americans suffering opioid addiction.

      It is critical, Barr insists, to deprive the ACA’s guarantee of medical insurance access to 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and to increase medication and premium costs for 60 million senior citizens on Medicare. Also, of course, Barr says, the court must restore the medical insurance caps that bankrupted and killed Americans who suffered diseases that are expensive to treat, like cancer, or whose babies were born prematurely requiring costly long-term care.

    • The ‘Healthiest Communities’ in the U.S. in 2019, Ranked

      Working with health and research experts, U.S. News evaluated nearly 3,000 communities according to 81 different parameters within the following 10 categories: population health, equity, education, economy, housing, food and nutrition, environment, public safety, community vitality and infrastructure.

      The rankings utilized data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others, to assess metrics like air and water quality, crime rates and access to healthcare.

      Douglas County scored first in at least four of the 81 parameters, and was joined in the top 20 by six other Colorado communities. But among all U.S. states, Iowa was most represented in the top 500, HealthDay News noted, with 62 counties in the rankings. The highest-ranking community in Iowa was Bremer County at 26th.

    • Mike Gabriel: Picnic in the Dead Zone

      The Picnic in the Dead Zone initiative aims at making people more aware of possible health consequences that may be caused by the upcoming 5G mobile standard reaching 90% plus coverage.

      Personally, I know individual people who are (highly) sensitive to electro-magnetic radiation and fields (they can tell you if wireless network is on or off, tell you which access point where in the house is on or off, can differentiate between WiFi and PoweLAN, etc.). For people with such a sensitivity it is crucial to have spots in the country they want to live in, where electro-magnetic radiation is at a minimum level. Mobile connectivity does not work for everyone. Hyper-sensitive people suffer from it, in fact.

    • What Kind of Nationalist Takes Away Your Health Care?

      We should expect this from the modern GOP, whose motto might as well be the peanut-gallery reply that Wolf Blitzer received at a 2011 Tea Party debate, when he asked if we should let an uninsured person in a coma die: “Yeah!”

      The puzzle is how Donald Trump, the self-described “nationalist,” can still pass as one. A nationalist is supposed to love his people, even if he despises others. Trump would seem to fit the bill, and yet he just kicked tens of millions of his fellow Americans to the curb.

      What kind of nationalist is that?

      Part of the answer is that Mr. Trump does not see all Americans as equally American. In his eyes, people of Mexican descent aren’t really one of us. Neither are black people, gay people, handicapped people, or women who talk back. They are part of the population, but not of the nation, a word that implies the deeper bonds of blood and culture. (From the Latin natio, birth.)

      Indeed, Trump sees that nation as threatened by non-white enemies—a very old state of mind that reaches back to America’s history of slavery and frontier violence. The result is a dangerous brew of racist pride and paranoia. Whether rapists from Mexico or drug-dealers from the inner city, he warns, they are coming for your family, your home, your body.

      “Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger,” Trump declared while announcing his run for President in 2015, “and we as a country are getting weaker.”

    • Carey Gillam on Monsanto Lawsuit

      This week on CounterSpin: A US District Court just ruled that a 70-year-old California man’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused, at least substantively, by his decades of spraying Roundup. The pesticide produced by Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, is key to the megacompany’s business model, which is to sell a pesticide, Roundup, and also sell the only seeds engineered to resist that pesticide—”Roundup Ready” corn and cotton and soybeans—so that one can’t be used without the other. It’s expensive, and it’s not how a lot of people around the world want to farm, but as a business plan, it’s been wildly successful. The fact that the pesticide is carcinogenic is not part of the plan, and we can expect Monsanto/Bayer’s massive PR machinery to work overtime to convince us to ignore the court’s findings.

      It’s an important case for our physical health—virtually every American has pesticides or pesticide byproducts in our bodies at this point, and the risk is obviously greater for farmworkers and others more exposed. But it’s also about societal health, and how much power we will grant profit-driven corporations to determine not just what we’re exposed to, but what we’re permitted to know about it.

    • As Pelosi Unveils ACA Fix, Medicare for All Backers Say ‘Now Is Not the Time for Watered-Down, Incremental Measures’

      “Now is not the time for watered-down, incremental measures that will only put a Band-Aid on a broken health care system,” National Nurses United (NNU) president Zenei Cortez, RN, said in a statement.

      “At a moment when the Trump administration is actively seeking to overturn the entire ACA,” Cortez added, “Democrats have an opportunity to show real leadership with the transformative change that will most protect all Americans.”

      Pelosi introduced her bill as centrist Democrats rally around a number of healthcare half-measures, including Medicare for America and Medicare buy-ins.

      The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future—an insurance industry front-group—celebrated Pelosi’s plan, but Cortez argued that it is “disappointing and totally inadequate to address the healthcare crisis confronting our country.”

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Matthew Garrett: Remote code execution as root from the local network on TP-Link SR20 routers

      The TP-Link SR20[1] is a combination Zigbee/ZWave hub and router, with a touchscreen for configuration and control. Firmware binaries are available here. If you download one and run it through binwalk, one of the things you find is an executable called tddp. Running arm-linux-gnu-nm -D against it shows that it imports popen(), which is generally a bad sign – popen() passes its argument directly to the shell, so if there’s any way to get user controlled input into a popen() call you’re basically guaranteed victory. That flagged it as something worth looking at, but in the end what I found was far funnier.

      Tddp is the TP-Link Device Debug Protocol. It runs on most TP-Link devices in one form or another, but different devices have different functionality. What is common is the protocol, which has been previously described. The interesting thing is that while version 2 of the protocol is authenticated and requires knowledge of the admin password on the router, version 1 is unauthenticated.

    • Connecting reproducible deployment to a long-term source code archive

      GNU Guix can be used as a “package manager” to install and upgrade software packages as is familiar to GNU/Linux users, or as an environment manager, but it can also provision containers or virtual machines, and manage the operating system running on your machine.

      One foundation that sets it apart from other tools in these areas is reproducibility. From a high-level view, Guix allows users to declare complete software environments and instantiate them. They can share those environments with others, which can replicate them or adapt them to their needs. This aspect is key to reproducible computational experiments: scientists need to reproduce software environments before they can reproduce experimental results, and this is one of the things we are focusing on in the context of the Guix-HPC effort. At a lower level, the project, along with others in the Reproducible Builds community, is working to ensure that software build outputs are reproducible, bit-for-bit.

      Work on reproducibility at all levels has been making great progress. Guix for instance allows you to travel back in time. That Guix can travel back in time and build software reproducibly is a great step forward. But there’s still an important piece that’s missing to make this viable: a stable source code archive. This is where Software Heritage (SWH for short) comes in.

    • Courtès: Connecting reproducible deployment to a long-term source code archive
    • Linux Kernel KVM Page Fault Uninitialized Memory Leak Information Disclosure Vulnerability [CVE-2019-7222]

      A vulnerability in the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) component of the Linux Kernel could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to access sensitive information on a targeted system.

    • Cisco warns of two security patches that don’t work, issues 17 new ones for IOS flaws [Ed: Cisco is a Trojan horse, always full of holes including shallowly-crafted back doors]

      Cisco is issuing 17 new fixes for security problems with IOS and IOS/XE software that runs most of its routers and switches, while it has no patch yet to replace flawed patches to RV320 and RV 325 routers.

    • Why you should never allow your web browser to save your passwords

      Passwords. They are the bane of so many users’ existence. Yet, they’re one of the only ways we have to secure our accounts, and those accounts are frequently compromised. IT pros always harp on users to create secure passwords—to the tune of creating password profiles that demand specific requirements.

    • C is ‘least secure’ programming language, study claims [Ed: Microsoft partner WhiteSource is badmouthing FOSS, as usual, by using Microsoft data]
    • UK cyber security officials report Huawei’s security practices are a mess [Ed: Projection tactics from the world's most aggressive agencies, which already cracked Huawei, based on Snowden leaks]

      In November of 2010, the Chinese networking and telecommunications giant Huawei entered into an agreement with the government of the United Kingdom to allow extensive security reviews of Huawei’s hardware and software—a move intended to allay fears that the company posed a security risk to the UK’s networks. Since then, the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) has given UK officials a window into the company’s information security practices. And UK officials haven’t necessarily liked what they’ve seen.

    • FireEye debuts Windows Commando VM as Linux Kali rival [Ed: But Windows itself has loads of back doors, intentional ones put there for the NSA]
    • Security researcher pleads guilty to [breaking] into Microsoft and Nintendo

      Prosecutors revealed that Clark had gained access to a Microsoft server on January 24th, 2017 using an internal username and password, and then uploaded a web shell to remotely access Microsoft’s network freely for at least three weeks. Clark then uploaded multiple shells which allowed him to search through Microsoft’s network, upload files, and download data.

    • Removing PF

      There have been internal discussions about removing PF from NetBSD. Currently,
      NetBSD’s PF is 11 years old, has received no maintenance, and has accumulated
      bugs and vulnerabilities that were fixed upstream but not in NetBSD. The
      latest examples are two vulnerabilities recently discovered in PF, that
      haven’t been fixed in NetBSD’s PF by lack of interest.

      Importing recent versions of PF in scalable/performant kernels is a huge work
      because of PF’s legacy design, and there have been reports that FreeBSD is
      also considering dropping PF.

      Just like other kind of dead wood, NetBSD’s PF consumes APIs, makes stuff
      harder to change, and has now reached a point where it is lagging behind
      upstream way too much to still be considered a functional or secure firewall
      on NetBSD.

      NetBSD provides NPF, a clean, secure and scalable firewall, enabled by default,
      that can be used instead, even if it doesn’t have all the features PF has
      for now. It is to be noted that IPF too is present in NetBSD, although its
      use is not recommended (for other reasons).

      Given NPF’s advanced design and good integration in the NetBSD kernel, trying
      to maintain PF seems like a huge effort for little benefit, and the resources
      would be better spent on NPF.

      Even if we overcame the effort needed to import a new version of PF, we would
      still have to maintain it and regularly synchronize against upstream. Overall,
      it is not viable to keep PF, and has already proven not to be in the past,
      given the state its code finds itself in today.

    • Office Depot slapped with $25m fine over fake malware scans [iophk: "How much money was actually brought in? The fines need to be much larger to make the scam unprofitable."]

      The scans, run in conjuction with partner Support.com, warned customers that their PC was infested with malware and was used to scam them into buying malware removal, security and other software. Support.com was fined $10m for its part.

    • HTTPS Isn’t Always As Secure As It Seems

      In analysis of the web’s top 10,000 HTTPS sites—as ranked by Amazon-owned analytics company Alexa—the researchers found that 5.5 percent had potentially exploitable TLS vulnerabilities. These flaws were caused by a combination of issues in how sites implemented TLS encryption schemes and failures to patch known bugs, (of which there are many) in TLS and its predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer. But the worst thing about these flaws is they are subtle enough that the green padlock will still appear.

    • Five simple steps to stop your car being stolen by ‘keyless’ thieves: Insurers pay out a record £1m per DAY due to ‘worrying’ surge in crime

      The rapid rise in crime has been blamed on keyless cars being exploited. Criminals – who usually operate in pairs – will hold a device up against the car, which captures the signal it sends out to the key.

      This then ‘boosts’ the signal to another device which relays the signal to the key inside a home.

      The car and key is fooled into thinking they are within the two metre range of operation, which allows the car to be unlocked and started.

    • Senators demand to know why election vendors still sell voting machines with ‘known vulnerabilities’ [Ed: Former Microsoft employee Zack Whittaker wonders aloud why voting machines come with Microsoft back doors for the NSA (and other nations, underworld)

      Four senior senators have called on the largest U.S. voting machine makers to explain why they continue to sell devices with “known vulnerabilities,” ahead of upcoming critical elections.

      The letter, sent Wednesday, calls on election equipment makers ES&S, Dominion Voting and Hart InterCivic to explain why they continue to sell decades-old machines, which the senators say contain security flaws that could undermine the results of elections if exploited.

      “The integrity of our elections is directly tied to the machines we vote on,” said the letter sent by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Gary Peters (D-MI), the most senior Democrats on the Rules, Intelligence, Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, respectively. “Despite shouldering such a massive responsibility, there has been a lack of meaningful innovation in the election vendor industry and our democracy is paying the price,” the letter adds.

    • Brace yourselves: Exploit published for serious Magento bug allowing card skimming

      Attack code was published on Friday that exploits a critical vulnerability in the Magento e-commerce platform, all but guaranteeing it will be used to plant payment card skimmers on sites that have yet to install a recently released patch.

      PRODSECBUG-2198 is a SQL injection vulnerability that attackers can exploit with no authentication required. Hackers could exploit the flaw to take administrative control of administrator accounts, assuming the hackers can download user names and password hashes and crack the hashes. From there, attackers could install the backdoors or skimming code of their choice. A researcher at Web security firm Sucuri said Thursday that company researchers reverse-engineered an official patch released Tuesday and successfully created a working proof-of-concept exploit.

    • Streator High investigation finds no security issues

      Richard “Hank” Tutoky, a senior, who is running for school board, said at the meeting the setup of a Linux machine that works with the school’s server was done by a student — someone who is not a professional — which is a decision he disagrees with. The servers were down at the high school for a period of time.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • A Great Project for South American Sovereignty is Destroyed, But the Fight for a Multipolar World Continues

      In 2008, Venezuela was one of the main instigators of a new structure, the Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR, aimed at uniting and integrating South America as an independent bloc of truly sovereign countries.

      The organisation thus hoped to constitute a credible counterweight to the dominance of the US over the Western hemisphere and mirrored the establishment of homologous structures in the Eurasian space, such as the Eurasian Union or the Shanghai Organisation for Cooperation. Its Constitutive Treaty outlines the goal “to achieve a multipolar, balanced and just world”, a vision then shared by most of the Southern continent’s leaders.

      In the first few years of its existence, the bloc was working successfully towards greater integration in terms of regional trade, migration, foreign policy and even defence. It was increasingly perceived as an emerging geopolitical force. UNASUR was widely expected to become one of the main pillars of a future multipolar world.

    • Empire on Steroids: UK, Israel Trade and Military Alliance Hits Warp Speed

      Since 2015, the United Kingdom has increased by 1,100 percent its military arms licenses for defense firms exporting to Israel. As a result, Israel has gone on a military shopping spree, loading up on hardware such as small arms ammunition, missiles, weapon sights, and sniper rifles.

      The increase in licenses from $26 million in 2015 to nearly $290 million in 2017 has made Israel the UK’s eighth largest market for UK arms companies. In total, over the past five years Israel has bought nearly $500,000,000 worth of UK military hardware. The UK is now Israel’s largest trading partner in Europe, and third largest worldwide.

      Critics of the arms sales claim Britain has an unreported military alliance with Israel and is “colluding” in “war crimes” against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

    • Death Toll Rises in Gruesome Nigerian Attack

      Following up from its previous week’s report, Al Jazeera published on February 19, 2019, the article, “Death toll in last week’s Nigeria attack doubles to 130,” providing updated information on the attacks in the northwestern state of Kaduna. Though the incident came just hours before presidential and legislative elections, Kaduna governor, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, stated that police are still investigating possible motives, cites Al Jazeera. Nevertheless, elections were delayed by one week in an area where election violence is not new. In the weeks preceding and following the Nigerian elections, there have actually been assaults across the country, though the one in Kaduna is seen as the worst.

      Despite a supposed predilection for violence in the region, Al Jazeera reports that citizens “mostly coexist peacefully.” The apparent targeting of innocent people in what some posit as religiously-charged tensions between the predominantly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, according to unnamed governing officials, is to “wipe out certain communities.” The majority Muslim north is also home to the Fulani ethnic group, and the majority Christian south is home to the Adara ethnic group—two among 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria. Saleh Momale, Kaduna’s Peace Commissioner, says that these are things society suffers from when there is breakdown in inter-community relations. Resolutions between the north and south have been rare, and with demand for land in Nigeria growing by the day, fear of violence over land use and resources in Nigeria continues.

    • Cold War in the Land of Oil

      Ever since oil became the defining energy source for wartime militaries during World War Two, the world’s politically and economically dominant nations have done their best to control those nations where oil is located. This control was originally achieved through arrangements that were essentially colonial n nature. The host governments in the oil-rich nations agreed to deals whereby the colonialist nations of the Global North removed, refined and shipped the oil under the Middle Eastern countries’ surface. In return, they paid a small percentage of their profits to the host government while keeping the bulk of the profits for their own. Prices were set by the companies of the Global North and subject to their needs.

      At the end of World War Two, Iran and Saudi Arabia sat at the top of this arrangement. British interests maintained control of Iranian production while US interests controlled that of Saudi Arabia. Things would change fairly quickly after the war ended. Britain was no longer the most powerful empire, while the United States was rapidly replacing Britain’s role. In addition, the Soviet Union was trying to expand its reach in the hope of defending its borders from the expanding reach of imperial Washington. In addition, the people of Iran were tired of their poverty in the shadows of the potential riches its oil could provide. By the beginning of 1953, Iranian oil had been nationalized and by the end of 1953, the US Central Intelligence Agency had overthrown the elected government of Iran and reinstated the monarchy in the guise of the Shah. This act would be a determining factor in Middle Eastern and US history for decades to come.

    • Hawks Clamoring To Attack Iran

      As Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman clamor for a war against Iran, they seem to have conveniently forgotten the destruction and mayhem wrought by the American invasion of Iraq 16 years ago.

      These war drummers are underestimating the potential negative consequences of the war and overestimating the Iranian people’s dislike of their theocratic regime. They, like the advocates of the Iraqi invasion in the winter of 2002 and early spring 2003, are confusing Iranians’ dislike of the ayatollahs with their potential embrace of a foreign invader.

      On the eve of the Iraq war, former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, the Vice President Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President David Addington all claimed that the Iraqi invasion aimed at liberating the country from the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. Removing Saddam from power, they maintained, would eliminate the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and bring stability, security, and democracy to Iraq.

      As developments unfolded over the past 16 years, the “liberation” claims proved to be bogus. The invasion and the decision to de-Ba’athify Iraq and dissolve the Iraqi military created an environment conducive to sectarianism, insurgency, and terrorism. The vacuum that followed the regime collapse, the incompetence of the American administration in the “Green Zone,” and the pervasive corruption of the new Iraqi governing councils was quickly filled by pro-Iranian militias, al-Qaeda, and later the Islamic State. The promise of stability and security was replaced by chaos, bloodshed, and mayhem.

    • South Africans must rise above xenophobia

      Xenophobia attacks targeting Zimbabweans and other nationals that resurfaced in Durban, KwaZulu Natal and some parts of the Limpopo Province in South Africa are very unfortunate and should be strongly condemned.

      According to reports, a Zimbabwean truck driver is battling for his life at a hospital in Durban, while more than 100 foreigners among them Zimbabweans were forced to flee and seek refuge at a police station as xenophobic attacks rear their ugly head once again in South Africa.

      [...]

      Besides their geographic proximity, South Africa and Zimbabwe have a common and long history of regional affiliation and cultural ties. The people of Zimbabwe played an important historical role in support of the liberation struggle in South Africa against the system of apartheid.

      The brotherhood between the two even saw the African National Congress opening an office in Harare at the height of apartheid in South Africa. Evident of the risk associated with such decision, Zimbabwe, being thy brother’s keeper, gave ANC a home and relentlessly ensured that its brother was comfortable throughout

    • Supreme Court Declines to Put Bump-Stock Ban on Hold

      The largest supplier of bump stocks turned in its entire remaining inventory to be destroyed — some 60,000 devices. Washington state’s buyback program was so popular it ran out of money. One dealer held a “Viking funeral” for his last bump stock, pouring a can of beer on it and then melting it down with a flamethrower.

      A nationwide ban took effect Tuesday on bump stocks, the attachment used by the gunman in the 2017 Las Vegas massacre to make his weapons fire rapidly like machine guns.

      How many of the estimated half-million devices believed to be in circulation in the U.S. are still around is anyone’s guess, but in the weeks leading up to the ban, there were signs that many were destroyed or turned in as required.

      Anyone in possession of a bump stock from now on can be charged with a federal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

      The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives outlawed the attachments at President Donald Trump’s direction after the Las Vegas gunman rained fire from his high-rise hotel suite on concertgoers, killing 58 people in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

    • Rising Politics of Intolerance and the Need for Unity

      Over the last 20 years extreme right-wing groups have been on the rise throughout the world. They share a belief in white supremacism and conspiracy theories that allege there is a global plot to replace white Christian populations with Muslims and people of color.

      As socio-economic inequality has grown and immigration increased the reactionary ideology of tribal nationalism has become more popular and bled into mainstream politics. Far right groups have garnered support and won political power in a number of countries, including Austria, Poland, Hungary, Italy, the US and India.

    • Interview With Journalist Ben Norton: Media Myths Versus Reality In Venezuela

      If you would like to support the show and help keep us going strong, please become a subscriber on our Patreon page.
      Journalist Ben Norton, who helps run The Grayzone, was in Venezuela for nearly 4 weeks from early February to early March. He talks with us about what he saw on the ground and how what he witnessed compares to what is reported in Western establishment news media.

      Ben describes some of the enthusiasm among Venezuelans for political engagement in democracy. He also addresses some of the myths surrounding colectivos, which are self-defense organizations in communities in Venezuela.

      Later in the show, Ben outlines “Regime Change Inc,” which are the forces that are deployed inside and outside Venezuela pushing for the overthrow of President Nicolas Maduro. He discusses what Venezuelans would like the government to do with members of a right-wing opposition that are intent on destabilizing the country.

      We wrap the show with some conversation about what may have happened with Venezuela’s electric grid and the major power outages that occurred.

    • ‘The Brink’ Lays Bare the Banality of Steve Bannon’s Evil

      At a point early in Alison Klayman’s insightful new documentary, “The Brink,” Steve Bannon gushes over the architectural and organizational planning behind the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where 50,000 Jews were exterminated. His emphasis on the planning and details are reflective of what Hannah Arendt termed “the banality of evil,” which could easily be the subtitle of the new film hitting theaters on Friday.

      It’s a fly-on-the-wall account of Bannon’s daily life and peripatetic schedule from October 2017—mere weeks after he was fired by Donald Trump—through the November midterm elections. At first glance, we get what we might expect: the shuffling, unkempt figure familiar from news footage. What we don’t expect is the sheer mediocrity of his intellect. Sometimes amusing, sometimes irascible, when unchallenged, Bannon speaks with full-throated brio and a firm grasp of anecdotes and figures (often made up). But the moment he is met with pushback, he obviously and not very credibly resorts to evasion. Still, for someone who was often called Trump’s brain, a thin base of knowledge and a loose grasp of facts might be expected.

      “I’ve spent a lot of time listening to him and watching him. He is quite fast to give a combative response, but I think his tactics are often to change the conversation, to distort facts, to lie, to make a joke,” Klayman said in an interview with Truthdig. Klayman was a 2012 Sundance Jury Prize winner for “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” which focused on the world-famous Chinese dissident artist. For “The Brink,” she shot most of the film single-handedly, alone in the room with Bannon and his alt-right peers.

      Oddly insecure in various scenes, Bannon worries about people calling him Jabba the Hutt, or about the press noting his lavish hotel stays while doing what he calls “the Lord’s work.” He is surprisingly unctuous with a journalist after a confrontational interview in Venice, where another documentary about him—Errol Morris’ “American Dharma”—was premiering at the city’s celebrated film festival. “Even after Paul Lewis at ‘The Guardian’ goes after him really hard in the interview, he’s going to try to keep everything on this keel of ‘that was fun, right?’ I think he’s fairly easy to win over.”

    • If You Cannot Trust Saudis With Bone Saw, Says US Lawmaker, ‘You Should Not Trust Them With Nuclear Weapons’

      The revelation that the Trump administration secretly authorized several U.S. companies to sell nuclear technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia is generating alarm over ongoing negotiations about a broader deal that critics worry could eventually lead to a nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia.

      The Daily Beast and Reuters reported Wednesday that Energy Secretary Rick Perry had approved at least six Part 810 authorizations, which “allow companies to do preliminary work on nuclear power ahead of any deal but not ship equipment that would go into a plant.”

      Those reports provoked concerns from lawmakers that the development of nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, with crucial assistance from the American government and companies, could potentially enable the key U.S. ally—and serial human rights abuser—to also pursue a nuclear weapon.

      “This is incredibly dangerous,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted Thursday with a link to the Daily Beast article. “We must do everything we can to make sure the Saudi regime cannot develop nuclear weapons.”

    • ‘Renouncing Violence’ Is a Demand Made Almost Exclusively of Muslims

      A FAIR survey of the phrase “renounce violence” in the New York Times over the past 10 years shows that 95 percent of the time the demand is made of Muslim organizations, people or political parties, the most prominent being the Taliban and Hamas. There are zero instances of anyone in the Times—whether reporters quoting officials or columnists—from March 28, 2009, to March 28, 2019, insisting or suggesting that the United States, Israel or any white-majority country “renounce violence.”

      Almost half—48 percent—of the instances of “renounce violence” in the New York Times during the time period asserted that Palestinians “refused” to “renounce violence.” This was typically signaled with an umbrella label of “Hamas,” with varying degrees of specificity. Roughly a third of those said to not “renounce” violence were either Afghan or Iraqi insurgency groups fighting American military occupation. Thus, roughly 80 percent of the time, the term was evoked to describe people under military control of Israel or the US.

      Of the 58 examples found of the phrase in the Times from 2009 to present day, only three instances expressed a demand that non-Muslims “renounce violence”: The Czech government (12/22/09) threatening to ban the Communist Party; Turkish criticism (7/29/10) of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a secular Communist party, though Kurds are mostly Muslim; and a report (2/5/17) on Obama’s commutation of Oscar López Rivera that noted the longtime Puerto Rican independence advocate “refused to renounce violence.”

      The complete list can be viewed here. The New York Times was selected as the focus of the study due to its position as the US’s most influential newspaper.

      It’s not clear why no reporters, columnists or experts quoted ever felt the need to ask the White House or the Pentagon, or any of their friendly allies in Britain, Israel, Saudi Arabia or Turkey, if they would “renounce violence.” The expectation that a party should refuse to engage in armed activity as a means of exerting political influence was almost exclusively reserved for those under military occupation from Western forces or their Middle Eastern allies.

    • Trump Threatens to Shut Down Mexico Border

      Threatening drastic action against Mexico, President Donald Trump declared on Friday he is likely to shut down America’s southern border next week unless Mexican authorities immediately halt all illegal immigration. Such a severe move could hit the economies of both countries, but the president emphasized, “I am not kidding around.”

      “It could mean all trade” with Mexico, Trump said when questioned by reporters in Florida. “We will close it for a long time.”

    • Puerto Ricans Struggle to Buy Food as Federal Aid Dwindles

      Iraida Vargas can no longer afford the two kinds of insulin her aging mother needs and has stopped buying fresh fruit and vegetables as billions of dollars in federal funds that help Puerto Ricans buy food, get medical treatment and recover from Hurricane Maria dwindle despite pleas from the U.S. territory that Congress take action.

      Vargas and her family are among the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans feeling the sting of what the territorial government says are insufficient federal funds to help the island recover from the Category 4 storm amid a 12-year recession. Her 83-year-old mother is enrolled in a supplementary nutritional assistance program that saw a one-time infusion of $1.27 billion that Congress approved after the Category 4 storm hit in 2017, but the money has since run out, forcing Puerto Rico’s government to start cutting benefits this month.

      “Elderly people here are not living with dignity,” Vargas said, noting that her mother has had to stop taking one of the two insulin products she needs to control her diabetes because there is no money to pay for it. She’s also on a minimum payment plan with the island’s utilities so they don’t cut her electricity and water, and can only afford an emergency phone that connects to 911 and does not accept incoming calls.

    • Okinawa’s People Oppose Japanese Government on Relocation of US Military Base

      In February 2019, the people of Okinawa, Japan overwhelmingly voted “No” during a referendum on whether to relocate a US military base to Okinawa’s Henoko coastal district. Seventy percent of voters, 434,000 people, opposed construction of a new base on Okinawa’s northeast coast. The prime minister, Shinzō Abe, thus far has ignored the referendum, which is not legally binding, choosing instead to pursue relocation of the controversial base, from Futenma to Henoko.

      Opposition to US military bases in Japan has a long history. Due to the results of the most recent referendum, Okinawa’s governor, Denny Tamaki, is under pressure to fulfil his people’s wishes. Governor Tamaki has demanded a meeting with Prime Minister Abe. “I want to create an environment for dialogue, rather than continuing legal battles,” the governor told reporters after a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo, according to the Japan Times.

    • Yemen Civilian Deaths by Drone Rise Under Trump, as Transparency Diminishes

      When a US drone attack in Yemen decimated a car carrying at least six civilians, the United States insisted it was targeting Al-Qaida. But family members have pushed back, saying the victims were not militants. They want the US to acknowledge their kin were civilians and they want compensation.

      It is often hard to identify the allegiances of those killed, but an independent database suggests that drones mistakenly hit more than 30 adults and children in the past year.

      Yemen has been embroiled in conflict for the past several years as the Saudi-led coalition is fighting the Iranian-backed Shiite rebels in a civil war that by some estimates has killed more than 100,000 people.

      The history of drone strikes in Yemen dates to the Obama Administration, but the number has increased under Trump.

    • Stand By for Space Wars

      There was much international news in mid-March, although little of it was encouraging for those who prefer peace to war, handshakes to saber-rattling, and cooperation to confrontation.

      On March 27 India’s Prime Minister Modi tweeted with nauseating smugness that his forces had destroyed a satellite in earth orbit at a height of 300 kilometers (the International Space Station orbits at about 400). He boasted that this was wonderful because “India is only the 4th country to acquire such a specialized & modern capability. (2) Entire effort is indigenous. India stands tall as a space power! It will make India stronger, even more secure and will further peace and harmony.”

      It is astonishing, even in this twisted era, that any national leader could claim that causing an orbiting satellite to explode into thousands of pieces will “further peace and harmony”, but Modi has a pressing need to obtain such headlines because India’s national elections begin in two weeks’ time. There’s nothing more important to a politician than winning an election, and if it takes a mint of money and an explosion in space, then so much the better.

      Pakistan was predictably critical, but made the point that “Space is the common heritage of mankind and every nation has the responsibility to avoid actions which can lead to the militarization of this arena,” which was eminently sensible but unfortunately irrelevant in the US-led advance to militarization of space.

    • The Logic of Annexation: Israel and the Golan Heights

      Any measure of annexation is based on the extension of a military’s boots. Diplomats tend to be silenced before the noise of tanks, weaponry and garrisons. Countries may claim to possess territory but can only dream in the absence of military weight. When it came to the issue of negotiating the post-World War II agreements, Generalissimo Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union had a clear sense of this in charting out Soviet influence in east European states. Israel also bullied its way into recognition, making sure that it acquired, at various stages, the Sinai (since relinquished), the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights.

      The status of the Golan Heights has been a disputed business since the 1949 armistice line hammered out between Syria and Israel. The seven-hundred-square-mile stretch features all gazing vantage points: Jordan to the south, Syria to the east, Lebanon to the north, and Israel to its west. To military advantage could also be added water security: the edge of the Golan Heights features the freshwater Sea of Galilee.

      Israel remained convinced that the mandate lines of Palestine and Syria should have finalised the issue but rendered much of that moot with the seizure of the territory in the Six Day War of 1967. (Syrian forces made use of their elevation during that war by shelling Israeli farms in the Hula Valley.) The UN Security Council proceeded to pass Resolution 242, calling for Israeli forces to be withdrawn from territories occupied during the conflict and “acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries.” The international lawyers duly fussed over the wording and quibbled over niceties: the issue of “secure… boundaries” kept plaguing the issue, as Israel refused to budge; translation matters between the French and English versions of the resolution were also seized upon.

    • Vietnam to Venezuela: US Interventionism and the Failure of the Left

      Vietnam came to my attention when I was maybe eleven or twelve, during the last years of the Eisenhower administration.

      There must have been some uptick that prompted public anticommunist saber-rattling about what really was already the U.S. war there. My father explained to me what was going on, that the military forces of the Viet Minh, a broad coalition struggling for national independence, led by the Communist Party of Vietnam, had defeated the French army in its seven-year attempt to restore colonial rule after having been displaced by the Japanese, against whom the Viet Minh also fought, during World War II.

      After that defeat an international conference—in which the U.S. participated along with Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, France, Laos, the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, the Viet Minh, and the “State of Vietnam,” created by France in 1949 as a colonial puppet government—at Geneva in 1954 agreed that Vietnam would be divided temporarily at the 17th Parallel into northern and southern administrative zones and that in 1956 an election would be held to reunify the country. The State of Vietnam, later re-christened the Republic of Vietnam as a US rather than French puppet, rejected the agreement, and the United States did not sign onto it but “took note” of the ceasefire agreements and declared that it would “refrain from threat or use of force to disturb them.” In fact, the U.S. openly blocked the agreed-upon reunification election because, as President Eisenhower freely acknowledged, all indications were that Ho Chi Minh, leader of the Viet Minh and Communist Party and a widely revered national patriotic figure, would have won the election. Even as a kid, I was astounded that the U.S. could so blatantly arrogate to itself a right to determine which governments or election outcomes were legitimate in other countries and to depose or impose them unilaterally, including by force and violence up to terror and assassination.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • US journalist exposes Julian Assange’s prison-like conditions

      The conditions documented by Fairbanks appear to have become even more onerous than those outlined by well-known journalist John Pilger earlier this month at a Socialist Equality Party rally in Sydney called to defend Assange and demand his immediate freedom.

      Pilger, who had last visited the WikiLeaks founder on December 31, likened the conditions in the embassy to Room 101 in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. The Australian journalist had been compelled to communicate with Assange by passing notes and whispering to avoid the surveillance measures in the room.

      The hostile conditions imposed upon Assange are a further warning of plans to force him out of the embassy and into the hands of the US and British authorities, who represent the governments whose crimes and mass surveillance he has done so much to expose.

    • A Year of Silencing Julian Assange

      WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter Wednesday: “… March 28, marks one year that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has been illegally gagged from doing journalism—any writing that expresses a ‘political opinion’? even on his own treatment, after pressure from the U.S. on Ecuador.”

      On this date in 2018 Moreno imposed on Assange what Human Rights Watch’s legal counsel Dinah Pokempner described as looking “more and more like solitary confinement.” Moreno cut off Assange’s online access and restricted visitors to the Ecuador embassy in London where Assange has had legal political asylum since 2012.

      Moreno cited Assange’s critical social media remarks about Ecuador’s allies, the U.S. and Spain. Assange’s near-total isolation, with the exception of visits from legal counsel during week days, has been augmented by the Ecuadorian government’s imposition of a complex “protocol,” which, although eased slightly in recent months in respect of visits allowed, has not improved Assange’s overall status over the last 12 months. In some respects, it seems to have worsened.

    • Chelsea Manning Has Sacrificed Everything Twice

      COMMENTS
      Few can endure the mental anguish of solitary confinement, or what prisons more insidiously refer to as “administrative segregation.” Fewer still can endure multiple stretches of “ad seg” occurring months and years apart. Former United Nations expert Juan Mendez has said that such detention can amount to torture, yet that’s precisely what whistleblower Chelsea Manning has braved in her pursuit of transparency and justice.

      Since returning to prison on March 8, Manning has spent 22 hours each day in total isolation at William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Va., according to the advocacy group Chelsea Resists. “Chelsea can’t be out of her cell while any other prisoners are out, so she cannot talk to other people, or visit the law library, and has no access to books or reading material,” the group wrote in a statement last week. “She has not been outside for 16 days. She is permitted to make phone calls and move about outside her cell between 1 and 3 a.m.”

      Manning is currently incarcerated for refusing to testify before a grand jury in an ongoing federal investigation of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Judge Claude Hilton of Federal District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia has ordered that she remain detained until she decides to testify or the grand jury completes its work. In a statement of motion, her attorneys have raised the possibility that her subpoena was an act of reprisal, arguing that “[t]he President of the United States himself tweeted that Ms. Manning ‘should never have been released.’ ” Manning has pledged to fight the secrecy of the court’s proceedings and to “exhaust every legal remedy available.”

      This is not the first time Manning has put her physical and psychological health at risk on behalf of the American public. In 2010, the intelligence officer who then identified as Bradley was found guilty under the Espionage Act after turning over upward of 750,000 classified or otherwise sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks. Those documents revealed, among other atrocities, that it was official U.S. policy to ignore torture in Iraq, and that the majority of inmates at Guantanamo Bay are either innocent or low-level operatives. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison but served just seven and a half after receiving a commutation from Barack Obama shortly before he left office.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • EU Parliament Bans Plastics Responsible for 70% of Ocean Trash

      The European Parliament approved a ban on single-use plastics Wednesday, meaning that common plastic items that make up 70 percent of marine litter will be banned in the EU by 2021, the parliament announced in a press release.

      The law also sets targets for the collection of plastic bottles, includes new labeling laws and strengthens provisions to ensure companies pay to clean up the pollution they cause.

      “Today we have taken an important step to reduce littering and plastic pollution in our oceans and seas,” European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said, as The Guardian reported. “We got this, we can do this. Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world.”

    • Federal Judge Halts Drilling on Public Lands Over Climate Concerns

      Despite the president’s attempts at packing the courts, the Trump administration hasn’t done so well at the federal level these days. The latest blow comes to oil and gas leases administered by the federal government, which allow companies to exploit resources on public lands for relatively small fees. A judge just blocked drilling on 300,000 acres of publicly-held land in Wyoming — though the move is temporary, not permanent.

      Even more importantly, the judge specifically cited climate change in the decision, which opens up the possibility of pursuing similar litigation in other states.

      Advocacy groups WildEarth Guardians, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Western Environmental Law Center brought suit in 2016, arguing that the administration failed to consider the potential ramifications of climate change in oil and gas leasing decisions.

      If that date is giving you pause, trust your instincts: It was indeed a suit originally filed against the Obama administration that has carried over to the Trump era, thanks to the federal government’s aggressively pro-oil agenda and the decision to lease out millions of acres of public land to private companies across states like Wyoming and Montana. Some states rely heavily on revenue from oil and gas exploration, with Alaska being a particularly notable example.

    • Declaring a Climate Change Emergency: Would It Be Legal? Would It Be Useful?

      Even if the Supreme Court upholds Trump, using this precedent to fight climate change will require some real soul-searching. Trump has violated a longstanding norm of presidential restraint in using emergency powers to address domestic policy. Whether to disavow or exploit that change in norms is a hard question. And declaring a climate emergency might help mobilize public opinion in support of legislative action, or it might cause a backlash that would make new legislation harder. But if the Supreme Court rules for Trump, the idea of a climate change emergency declaration has to be taken seriously.

      Something of a compromise position might be to declare that the resilience of the electrical grid is a national emergency, not climate change itself. That would still allow some important actions that would help reduce carbon emissions. Basically, many of the steps that are needed to decarbonize the grid would also increase its ability to resist and bounce back from disruptions due to national disasters or cyberattacks on the energy system.

      With all that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the issues.

    • Climate Crisis Could Expose Half a Billion More People to Tropical Mosquito-Borne Diseases by 2050

      While a growing body of recent research warns the human-caused climate crisis will cause general worldwide “environmental breakdown,” a study published Thursday in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases focuses specifically on a related public health threat: how a hotter world will enable disease-carrying mosquitoes to reach more people.

      The study’s lead author Sadie Ryan of the University of Florida—joined by researchers from Georgetown University, Stanford University, and Virginia Tech—examined how projected temperature rise for 2050 and 2080 could impact the global distribution of the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).

    • Snubbing Law and Climate, Trump Issues New Permit for Keystone XL

      “This is a ridiculous attempt by Trump to skirt due process to benefit an oil corporation,” said 350.org executive director May Boeve in a statement.

      The permit states that pipeline company TransCanada has the authority “to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada at Phillips County, Montana, for the import of oil from Canada to the United States.” Trump added that the permit he issued for the pipeline on March 23, 2017 was revoked.

      “That permit,” as The Hill reported, “was invalidated by a Montana federal judge in November. The ruling is being appealed in the 9th Circuit.”

    • 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.”

    • Outraged, New Coalition Emerges Against Louisiana’s Expanding—and Polluting—Petrochemical Industry

      “Take a deep breath” is common advice for helping people to relax. However, that advice has the opposite effect on some citizens who live in heavily polluted Louisiana communities along the Mississippi River. There, a new coalition is emerging from a growing awareness of — and discontent with — the potential health impacts of living alongside the expanding petrochemical industry lining the river between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

      The 80-mile stretch along the river known as Louisiana’s “Petrochemical Corridor” is often referred to as “Cancer Alley.” Simmering frustrations among its communities, which are exposed to the industry’s pollution, recently led the new coalition of environmental and civil rights activists and Louisiana residents to rebrand it “Death Alley.”

    • ‘Most Destructive Pathogen Ever’ Has Created Zombie-Like Apocalypse for World’s Amphibians

      A terrifying new study details the havoc being wrought by what scientists call “the most destructive pathogen ever” recorded on earth, finding that with help from unwitting humans a “silent killer” has caused major declines of frogs, salamanders, and hundreds of other amphibian species.

      Chytridiomycosis, or chytrid fungus, has killed off 90 species over the past 50 years while leading to huge losses of 501 kinds of frogs, toads, salamanders, and other amphibians, according to researchers from a number of worldwide universities. Nearly 125 of those species have declined by at least 90 percent due to the rapid spread of the pathogen.

    • How Do the 2020 Candidates Rate on Climate Action?

      Climate change is shaping up to be a major issue going into the 2020 presidential primary. A February poll found that climate action was a top issue for Democratic voters in early voting states, rivaled only by universal health care. Many candidates have promised to make the issue a priority if elected, but how to they compare to each other on the details?

    • Happy to Engage Workers and Community on Green New Deal, Ocasio-Cortez Accepts GOP Invite to Kentucky Coal Mine

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday accepted an invitation to tour a coal mine and meet with voters in Kentucky—taking advantage of an opportunity to engage with some of the Americans who could benefit most from a Green New Deal.

      The invitation came from Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.), a member of the Congressional Coal Caucus who asked the New York Democrat to visit his district after she gave an impassioned speech in the House, blasting Republicans and centrists for dismissing the Green New Deal legislation that she is sponsoring as a proposal that would benefit only large coastal cities.

    • UN Report: Extreme Weather Displaced 2 Million People in 2018

      Extreme weather events impacted close to 62 million people in 2018 and displaced more than two million as of September of that year. That’s just one of the alarming findings in the UN World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2018.

      “The physical signs and socio-economic impacts of climate change are accelerating as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels,” the WMO wrote in a press release announcing the report Thursday.

    • Re: The Green New Deal: First, Shoot the Economists

      Soon to be released research from the United Nations is expected to place species loss, a/k/a mass extinction, as an environmental threat equal to or greater than climate change. Industrial agriculture— vast expanses of monoculture crops managed with chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, will feature prominently as a cause. This plant agriculture supplies people with increasingly toxic and processed food and antibiotic and hormone dependent factory farms with animal feed. Together, these link the model of capitalist efficiency economists have been selling for the last two centuries to environmental crisis.

      Understanding the theoretical precepts of Western economics is crucial to understanding these crises. Capitalism is scientific economic production, a method in search of applications. Its object is to maximize profits, not to growth nutritious food sustainably. As industrial agriculture has demonstrated, these objectives are antithetical. Crop yields have increased as the nutritional value of the food produced has declined. But far more troublingly, the narrow focus on profits has led to a form of environmental imperialism where interrelated ecosystems are viewed atomistically.

      Mass extinction is largely attributable to the drive for economic control— the expansion of industrial agriculture to feed factory farm animals has been both geographic and intensive. The annihilation of insects through pesticide use on crops has led in turn to the annihilation of the species that feed on them. Interrelated ecosystems are systematically destroyed through a logic that does not ‘work’ otherwise. Leaving ecosystems intact upends it. When value is granted to what is destroyed, industrial agriculture ceases to earn a profit. In a broader sense, this means that it never earned a profit in the first place.

    • Rising Temperatures Will Help Mosquitos Infect a Billion More People

      Mosquitoes are unrelenting killers. In fact, they are among the most lethal animals in the world. When they carry dangerous viruses or other organisms, a bite can be unforgiving. They cause millions of deaths every year from such infectious diseases as malaria, dengue, Zika, chikungunya, yellow fever and at least a dozen more.

    • Green Party thanks MEPs as EU parliamentary term ends

      As the current EU Parliament term ends the Green Party has thanked its MEPs for all their hard work to date and reinforced its commitment to continue to fight for a better Europe.

      London MEP Jean Lambert and South East MEP Keith Taylor will both retire after serving on the European Parliament for 20 years and nine years respectively. Molly Scott Cato, MEP for the South West since 2014, will stand for re-election in the event the UK takes part in the upcoming EU elections.

    • Even Swamp Monsters Are Shocked by DOI Admin Bernhardt’s Corruption

      Yesterday, David Bernhardt, who’s been the acting head of the Department of Interior since Zinke was forced out late last year due to his many different scandals, faced a confirmation hearing to be the new head of DOI. And while Trump promised to drain the swamp, even swamp monsters are shocked by Bernhardt’s corruption.

      You may remember Bernhardt as the guy who has so many conflicts of interest he has to carry them around on an easy-reference card to make sure he doesn’t violate ethics rules. It’s now apparent that while Bernhardt has claimed he doesn’t keep a personal calendar, it appears DOI is keeping track of his meetings in a Google calendar that is overwritten each day–a potential violation of federal records law. (Considering that calendars certainly came in handy for another Trump nominee, Bernhardt may want to be better about it.)

      And people are worried about who Bernhardt’s meeting with for good reason. He spent his career lobbying for oil and gas interests and against environmental protections. Naturally, this made him qualified to work at the DOI under the-supposedly-actually-not-that-bad George W. Bush. Some of Bernhardt’s highlights at Bush’s DOI included helping the attempts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and implementing the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which exempted the fracking industry from certain regulations and created the “Halliburton Loophole.” And as the Solicitor General he also, no joke, managed the ethics office.

    • Kentucky Community Fights Decision to Seal Illegal Radioactive Fracking Waste in Landfill

      A group of Kentucky citizens fighting to rid their hometown landfill of illegally dumped radioactive fracking waste has challenged the state environmental regulators’ approval of a plan to seal the illegal waste in the ground.

      Concerned Citizens of Estill County filed a petition with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Office of Administrative Hearings, objecting to the “unknown and uncertain effects on community members’ health and the environment for generations to come.”

      The state attorney general determined the dumping was a criminal act but said the cabinet did not authorize his office to prosecute.

      Advanced Disposal Services, which operates the Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County, operates in 16 states and the Bahamas. Officials say the firm knowingly accepted low-level radioactive waste from surrounding states and illegally dumped it in Kentucky. The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services said in 2016 that monitoring and testing results have “showed no evidence” that the dumping led to “radioactive contamination above federal and state safety limits.”

    • The Coldest Spot on Earth, Melting

      Global warming is a fact of life that haunts society with consequences that hit hard, exponentially, but where nobody lives. It is happening hyper fast, and it’s downright scary as major ecosystems of the planet turn upside down in nasty fashion.

      But none of the ecosystems has the punch of East Antarctica. Its clout is humongous with a couple hundred feet of fresh water contained in ice. When it rumbles, scientists pay attention.

      In that regard, as a potential savior in the face of irrefutable global warming dangers, America is fortunate to have a powerful fighting spirit in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). She has strong instincts about the dangers of global warming. She is beating the drums for a Green New Deal, which cannot come soon enough and, in fact, may not come soon enough to save most life on the planet. Meanwhile, Republicans belittle her as foolhardy, not in the spirit of America’s capitalistic enterprise. A socialist?

    • Kentucky Community Seeks Remedy for Landfill Contaminated by Illegally Dumped Fracking Waste

      Since the mid-1980s, residents of a rural town in eastern Kentucky have been battling a local landfill that borders two schools and a major water source. As Austyn Gaffney reported for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s onEarth, two thousand tons of radioactive waste and other contaminated materials have been dumped illegally into the Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County. The landfill is just a six-minute walk from two county schools. Most of the recently-dumped radioactive waste is a byproduct of fracking, the controversial process that uses water and chemical additives to extract oils and natural oils from rocks or boreholes.

      Now the county and its residents face a rotten dilemma, to accept Blue Ridge’s proposal to cap the radioactive waste or to hold out in hopes of having the waste removed. In 2015, Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet opted for the cap as a “short-term” solution. As Gaffney reported, “When submitting its risk assessment of capping the waste in place, Blue Ridge Landfill described a worst-case scenario of the radiation contaminating groundwater for the next 2,700 years.” The alternative—removing the waste—has problems, too, including radiation exposure to workers to during removal, risk for accidental collisions and spills while an estimated 1,900 truckloads of waste is transferred, not to mention the difficulty of locating the radioactive waste in the seven-acre landfill.

    • Judge Restores Obama-Era Drilling Ban in Arctic

      President Donald Trump exceeded his authority when he reversed bans on offshore drilling in vast parts of the Arctic Ocean and dozens of canyons in the Atlantic Ocean, a U.S. judge said in a ruling that restored the Obama-era restrictions.

      Judge Sharon Gleason in a decision late Friday threw out Trump’s executive order that overturned the bans that comprised a key part of Obama’s environmental legacy.

      Presidents have the power under a federal law to remove certain lands from development but cannot revoke those removals, Gleason said.

      “The wording of President Obama’s 2015 and 2016 withdrawals indicates that he intended them to extend indefinitely, and therefore be revocable only by an act of Congress,” said Gleason, who was nominated to the bench by Obama.

    • ‘Huge Victory for Our Oceans’: Trump Effort to Open Arctic to Oil and Gas Drilling Ruled Illegal

      Preserving over 120 million acres of federal waters from exploitation by fossil fuel giants, a federal judge ruled late Friday that President Donald Trump’s effort to open the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans to oil and gas drilling is illegal.

      “President Trump’s lawlessness is catching up with him,” said Erik Grafe, the lead attorney for Earthjustice who helped argue the case against the Trump administration. “The judge’s ruling today shows that the president cannot just trample on the constitution to do the bidding of his cronies in the fossil fuel industry at the expense of our oceans, wildlife, and climate.”

      U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason ruled (pdf) that Trump’s April 2017 executive order revoking the Obama administration’s ban on drilling in most of the Arctic was “unlawful.”

      The Trump administration is expected to appeal the decision, which applies to 98 percent of the Arctic.

    • Guns vs Bears vs Special Olympics

      Cruelty and stupidity are often difficult to distinguish between, and that is a fortunate thing for the cruel. We’ve recently found out that Betsy DeVos (nee Betsy Amway Pyramid Scheme) and her Department of Education will stop funding Special Olympics. Many laughed her off as simply comedy–notably in evidence from her aren’t guns in schools already to protect against bears comment. I’m not saying that she isn’t stupid, but the evil that is oozing out of the current administration has Stephen Milleresque villainy written all over it. He’s putting into action a more overt plan, but it’s the same playbook used by others in a less ham-fisted manner over many administrations.

      18 million is paltry change, and that is the amount in question–many have asked…. what is this? A few trips to Mar-a-Lago? 20 porn star pay-offs? The plastic surgery bill for the Trump clan? It’s not that much money when unfathomable amounts are being lit up for orange idiocy. 18 million for Special Olympics……… discuss this with me when we look at that $639 billion military budget with no other country even visible in the rear-view mirror. This is not about fiscal sensibility; this is about ensuring we live in an empathy-phobic society that is in place for the delight and advancement of the oligarchs.

      The mental shackles most Americans drag about ensure that radical reform does not occur. The 80s and the 90s were all about instilling a sense that if you fail, it’s ALL on you. It’s not any kind of fundamental rot in the system. Very little mobility is possible in this society, and those who have “achieved” higher than the class they were born into often were born with an intelligence or capacity of some sort that helped them with this. Or simply lucky breaks. And this is a relatively rare thing these days. Downward mobility is much more common. The very notion of what constitutes success is completely fucked up in this society anyway. Kindness extended is usually considered weakness, and excess consumption is celebrated. Many profess a religion that extends charity to the less fortunate, but these are often the very people calling for cruelty upon cruelty for the poor.

      The average American just keeps thinking, another degree (or insert x: lottery win etc.) and I will have what I need to do well. There’s always a shifting goalpost. Sometimes you hear attempts away from a money based success notion, but how on earth can someone watch a grown child without insurance (or with it for that matter) try to ration insulin and miscalculate, end up in Diabetic Ketoacidosis and die? How was that not about money? It wasn’t about materialism and consumption– it was about not being able to access proper and necessary items that should be readily available at our level of production. We are told money doesn’t bring about happiness, but sometimes it can prevent someone’s death, so yeah—in this mess of a society, it can bring about happiness.

    • ‘We Will Have to Mobilize Our Entire Economy’: Watch Ocasio-Cortez’s Urgent Call for Green New Deal

      A comprehensive Green New Deal, said the New York congresswoman, is the only solution that truly matches the scale of “our greatest existential threat.”

      “This is urgent, and to think that we have time is such a privileged and removed-from-reality attitude that we cannot tolerate,” Ocasio-Cortez told a packed auditorium at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

      “Historically speaking we have mobilized our entire economy around war. But I thought to myself: It doesn’t have to be that way,” she added. “And so to get us out of this situation, to revamp our economy, to create dignified jobs for working Americans, to guarantee healthcare and elevate our educational opportunity and attainment, we will have to mobilize our entire economy around saving ourselves and taking care of this planet.”

    • Hunger is growing as the world warms faster

      The global threat of hunger is growing again after years of progress in reducing it, the United Nations says, because of the effects of climate change.

      It says this is just one aspect of a wider acceleration in the pace of the changes wrought by the world’s unremitting consumption of fossil fuels and the consequential rise in global temperatures..

      The evidence that hunger and malnutrition are once again on the rise is published in a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on the state of the global climate in 2018.

      The report, drawing on material from scientists, UN agencies and countries’ own meteorological services, says the physical signs and the impacts of climate change are speeding up as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels.

    • Why Recycling is a ‘Pseudo-Solution’ to Reducing Plastic Waste

      In fact, eliminating plastic becomes almost a surreal idea when considering the staggering amount of plastic discarded each year. In its June 2018 edition ‘Planet or Plastic’, National Geographic’s Laura Parker’s bombshell article uncovered that 44% of all plastic that has ever been manufactured globally has been made since 2000. Additionally, 448 million tons of plastic was produced in 2015 alone, with 40 percent of that — some 161 million tons — for single-use packaging that never gets recycled or incinerated. In fact, until 2018, less than a fifth of all plastics was ever recycled, and only 12% was incinerated globally. As a result, an estimated 8 million tons of plastic bottles A 2016 study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has projected that if considerable reduction in production is not implemented, oceans could have more plastic than fish by 2050.

      Besides the ugly aesthetic of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, for example, plastic pollution has other dire consequences. Scientists at the Medical University of Vienna found the presence of microplastics in human excrement just last Summer. The tiny fragments of plastic originated from waste accumulated in the sea was ingested by sea animals, and then integrated into the food chain.

      While the health effects of microplastics on the human body are still being investigated, the impact of plastics on climate change are now better understood by scientists. In addition to plastic being a direct product of the greenhouse-gas emitting fossil-fuel industry, researchers at the University of Hawaii found that when plastics degrade, they produce two greenhouse gases, methane and ethylene. When exposed to solar radiation these contribute to global warming. “[The] results show that plastics represent a heretofore unrecognized source of climate-relevant trace gases that are expected to increase as more plastic is produced and accumulated in the environment,” wrote the study‘s authors.

      Despite all the data, the plastic industry is not slowing down production. In fact, the petrochemical-plastic sector is expected to expand in the next decades. According to the World Economic Forum about 8 percent of world oil production is used to make plastic today. By 2050, it is forecast to rise to 20 percent worldwide. Meanwhile in the United States, with President Donald Trump having withdrawn from the 2015 Paris Agreement and the Environmental Protection Agency actively deregulating pollution controls, the petrochemical industry announced more than $200 billion in new investment last September. This astounding figure will contribute to the expansion of factories, pipelines and other infrastructure along the Gulf Coast’s corridor in order to establish a new plastics and petrochemical belt across Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York. These projects are designed to cut costs of plastic and chemicals produced in the U.S. by using raw materials from the region’s fracked gas.

    • Government Study Confirms Endangered Red Wolves Are a Separate Species Worthy of Protection

      One of the most endangered wolves in the world is indeed its own species. That’s the important finding of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report released Thursday, which determined that red wolves are genetically distinct from gray wolves and coyotes.

  • Finance

    • Macy’s Workers Win Sick Days by Fighting Back Fashionably

      When department-store workers fight, we do it fashionably. Have you ever seen a union contract campaign that featured makeovers and feather boas? Read on.

      We had worked hard for Macy’s, and frankly we were fed up. Like a lot of working people out there, we work for a company that’s doing fine, yet they want to cut staff and expect us to pick up the slack.

      The slack, if there ever was any, was picked up a long time ago. If you’re like us—and like most people in America—you’re struggling to make ends meet even though you have a job.

      The good news is, unlike most workers in retail department stores, we have a union. Here in northwest Washington state, 850 employees at six Macy’s stores are members of Food and Commercial Workers Local 21. Nationwide we’re joined by UFCW members at 27 other Macy’s stores.

      In our latest contract campaign we were able to fend off Macy’s demands and make significant gains… and we had fun doing it. A record number of our co-workers got involved, helped dream up creative tactics, and turned up the heat until Macy’s gave in.

      Last spring, our contract was getting ready to expire. Our co-workers wanted wage increases and to solve scheduling problems. For many of us it was difficult to get enough work hours in a week, and the company kept changing our schedules.

    • Trump Seeks to Cut Foreign Aid to 3 Central American Nations

      Taking drastic action over illegal immigration, President Donald Trump moved Saturday to cut direct aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, whose citizens are fleeing north and overwhelming U.S. resources at the southern border.

      The State Department notified Congress that it would look to suspend 2017 and 2018 payments to the trio of nations, which have been home to some of the migrant caravans that have marched through Mexico to the U.S. border.

      Amplified by conservative media, Trump has turned the caravans into the symbol of what he says are the dangers of illegal immigration — a central theme of his midterm campaigning last fall. With the special counsel’s Russia probe seemingly behind him, Trump has revived his warnings of the caravans’ presence.

      Trump also has returned to a previous threat he never carried out — closing the border with Mexico. He brought up that possibility on Friday and revisited it in tweets Saturday, blaming Democrats and Mexico for problems at the border and beyond despite warnings that a closed border could create economic havoc on both sides.

    • The Liberal Betrayal of America’s Most Vulnerable

      “When I started writing this book,” says Platt, a scholar at the University of California at Berkeley. “I was trying to answer the question: Why is it so difficult to make any kind of fundamental, decent, humane change in criminal justice institutions? Why are [our leaders] so resistant to this?”

      Part of the reason, he argues, is that there has been a bipartisan, right-wing effort—that includes leaders from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton—to dehumanize large portions of American society, especially people of color. This demonization largely succeeded due to a penitentiary system designed to divide Americans, often along racial lines, both inside and outside of prisons.

      “I think that tells us something about what’s needed in the future to have a successful reform movement, or a progressive movement. It’s going to have to have a movement that brings the people inside into a larger movement, and for people on the outside to develop those ties and relationships. A difficult thing to do; not easy, but necessary,” Platt says.

      Platt believes that the country’s inability to find or implement solutions to its prison system is largely due to its unreasonable reticence to learn from other countries.

    • This Is How You Kill a Profession

      How did we discard the idea of college faculty? That is, how did we decide to systematically eliminate an entire class of professionals whom we once trusted to conduct the final distillation of our children into capable, confident adults? How did we come to decide that college teachers didn’t deserve job security, didn’t deserve health insurance, didn’t deserve to make more than convenience-store clerks?

      It wasn’t hard, really.

      We discarded college faculty in the same way that we discarded medical general practitioners: through providing insane rewards to specialists and leaving most care in the hands of paraprofessionals.

    • Flaws in Bitcoin make a lasting revival unlikely

      The second problem is that the technology is too clunky to operate at scale. Cryptocurrencies are unlikely ever to achieve mass adoption, says Nicholas Weaver, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. Unlike Alipay or WeChat Pay, cryptocurrencies are intended as new financial systems rather than extensions to the current one. But they have serious design flaws.

    • Charter Schools Are Scamming the U.S. Government at Will

      A new report issued by the Network for Public Education provides a detailed accounting of how charter schools have scammed the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) for up to $1 billion in wasted grant money that went to charters that never opened or opened for only brief periods of time before being shut down for mismanagement, poor performance, lack of enrollment, or fraud. The report also found many of the charters receiving grant awards that managed to stay open fall far short of the grant program’s avowed mission to create “high-quality” schools for disadvantaged students.

      President Trump’s 2020 budget blueprint proposes increasing funding for the charter grant program by 13.6 percent, from $440 to $500 million, and education secretary Betsy DeVos praised this increase as a step forward for “education freedom.” But the report finds that increasing federal funds for this program would mostly continue to perpetuate academic fraud.

      Of the schools awarded grants directly from the department between 2009 and 2016, nearly one in four either never opened or shut their doors. The federal program’s own analysis from 2006 to 2014 of its direct and state pass-through funded programs found that nearly one out of three awardees were not currently in operation by the end of 2015.

    • To Readers, $X Billion Just Means ‘a Whole Lot of Money’

      Polls consistently show that the public hugely overestimates the share of the budget that goes to items like SNAP (food stamps), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and foreign aid. People will typically give answers in the range of 20 to 30 percent of the budget for these categories of spending. In reality, the shares are 1.5 percent for SNAP, 0.4 percent for TANF and 0.4 percent for foreign aid.

      I would argue that this matters, since the public’s willingness to support a program depends in part on how much they think we are spending on it. This is for two reasons; the first is simply that people are only willing to pay a limited amount in taxes to help the poor here and abroad. If they already think they are spending a lot for this purpose, they will be reluctant to spend more.

      The other reason is that people will reasonably be concerned about the efficiency of the programs. If all our tax dollars are going to help poor people, and yet we still have so many people in poverty, then our anti-poverty programs must not be very efficient. If that is the case, added additional dollars probably will not do much to help the poor. Nor will modest cuts do much to harm them.

      All of this seems pretty straightforward and not really debatable, yet when it comes to educating the public on the true size of these programs, interest is very close to zero. That is hard to understand, especially when the route to a better-educated public is pretty easy to see.

      The most obvious reason that people grossly overestimate the amount of spending on these programs is that their budgets are always discussed as billions of dollars. No one knows how much billions of dollars are, except that it means lots of money.

    • From ‘Too Radical’ to Spreading Nationwide: Maryland Becomes 6th State to Pass $15 Minimum Wage

      “More than six years ago, when we stood up and went on strike for $15 an hour and a union, our demands were dismissed,” Fight for $15 said in a statement. “But we kept marching and we kept fighting, forcing the country to see that we simply could not survive on $7.25.”

      “Maryland is the sixth state to pass a $15 minimum wage—and the third in under two months,” Fight for $15 continued, referring to Illinois and New Jersey’s recent minimum wage hikes. “Nearly 30 percent of U.S. workers are now coSvered by a $15 minimum wage. It’s clear $15 an hour is the minimum any worker, anywhere, needs to get by, and we’ll keep standing up and fighting for $15 and union rights until we win everywhere.”

      Under Maryland’s new law, the higher minimum will be phased in over several years, reaching $15 an hour for companies with 15 or more employees by 2025. Smaller companies will have to pay their workers $15 an hour by 2026.

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—the lead Senate sponsor of the Raise the Wage Act, which would hike the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024—applauded Maryland lawmakers for taking action.

      “Just a few years ago we were told a $15 an hour was ‘too radical,” the senator and 2020 presidential candidate tweeted Thursday. “Well, today, Maryland became the sixth state to send the loud and clear message that a job should lift you out of poverty, not keep you in it.”

    • The Cuban Nationalization of US Property in 1960: the Historical and Global Context

      In moving toward at least partial implementation of Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, the Trump administration has resurrected the issue of Cuban nationalization of U.S. properties in Cuba in 1960.

      The conflict between the United States and Cuba over the nationalized U.S. properties is a particular case in a historic and still unfolding global conflict between the global powers and the Third World. The conflict became manifest in 1955, when leaders of twenty-three newly independent Asian and African nations met in Bandung, Indonesia. They sought to restructure the global economic patterns established during European colonial domination, and to this end, they advocated unity and economic cooperation among the newly independent nations, among other strategies.

      The leaders of the emerging Third World project met in 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where they founded the Non-Aligned Movement. Among the founders were the giants of the era: Tito, Sukarno, Nasser, Zhou En-lai, Nkrumah, and Ben Youssef. Cuba was among the founders, represented by the President of the Revolutionary Government, Osvaldo Dorticós. Revolutionary Cuba and Latin American movements, reflecting on their historical semi-colonial and contemporary neocolonial situation, were forging a perspective similar to the newly independent nations of Africa and Asia.

    • Sell Your Soul to the Testocracy: Kamala Harris’s Faustian Teacher Raises

      I love the idea of Kamala Harris’ plan to give teachers a pay raise.

      But once we get past ideas, it’s way more troubling.

      The California Senator and Democratic Presidential hopeful is proposing a $13,500 pay increase for the average teacher, with the exact number based on the size of each state’s pay gap.

      That’s $315 billion more over a decade through federal matching funds, which amounts to a 23 percent salary increase for most educators.

      Yes, please!

      I could certainly use a raise.

      But as Joe Moore said, “You can’t trust a promise someone makes while they’re drunk, in love, hungry, or running for office.”

      And Harris IS running for office.

    • Haitian Economic Crisis

      In February 2019, massive protest and violence broke out in Haiti, near the capital of Port-au-Prince, leaving the country in catastrophe. News that the Haitian government has misused the funds from PetroCaribe—an oil agreement Haiti had with Venezuela, intended for fund Haitian social development—sparked the protests. Savings from the deal, which was supposed to provide Haiti with Venezuelan oil at discounted rates and low interest rates, were supposed to fund social programs for health care, child care, education, and housing.

    • As Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan Reaches for Golden Parachute, Warren Says ‘If He Broke the Law, He Should Go to Jail Like Anyone Else’

      Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan is resigning following several scandals at the bank, he announced Thursday—but Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for the executive to be investigated instead of walking away with a “golden parachute” retirement package.

      Sloan announced his resignation Thursday after a three-year tenure at the helm of the bank at a time when it was mired in accusations of fraudulent behavior, corrupt practices, and attacks on its customers.

      Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate and longtime consumer advocate, has been one of the most vocal detractors of Sloan and Wells Fargo in recent years, telling Sloan a year ago that he “should be fired, not rewarded” when he received a 35 percent pay raise the year after the bank had been forced to pay a $185 million fine for opening fraudulent accounts in customers’ names and selling unnecessary car insurance and other products to consumers.

      “About damn time,” wrote Warren on her Twitter account after learning of Sloan’s ouster.

    • Can You Spare $11.6 Billion? Lebanon’s Loans and Luxury Car Sales Paradox

      Lebanon managed to borrow $11.6 billion at the Cedre donor conference last year, the majority from the World Bank and Europe. After a nine month wait to form a government, Beirut now has to implement the lenders’ conditionalities: economic reforms.

      What do you do as, say, a European institutional lender if Lebanon renegades on its commitments? Stop funding programmes and aid, leaving the poor and the 1.5 million Syrian refugees to suffer? And if Lebanon’s economy collapses – debt has doubled over the past decade to $84 bn, over 150% of GDP – there’d be another failed state on the Mediterranean, within sailing – and capsizing – distance of Europe, so do you just keep on writing out cheques?

      We should take a step back first to consider the bigger picture. Lenders have their own reasons for lending, evidenced not just in the interest to be paid, but in the conditionalities that come with the loans and development packages, which are invariably of a neo-liberal bent: privatization, austerity, and economic reforms. The Europe Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the World Bank et al have their own agenda to push.

      Then there’s aid and philanthropy, what has been called Philanthropic Colonialism, “or barging in as outsiders and forcing their solutions on other people’s problems”. And as for humanitarian aid, the closer you are to Fortress Europe the more likely you are to get loans or aid, which is why the Syrian refugee crisis gets double the amount Yemen does.

    • U.K. Lawmakers Again Reject Brexit Deal

      U.K. lawmakers on Friday rejected the government’s divorce deal with the European Union for a third time, leaving Britain just two weeks to decide between a long delay to Brexit and an abrupt no-deal departure from the bloc.

      Lawmakers in Britain’s House of Commons voted 286-344 against the withdrawal agreement struck between Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU, rebuffing her plea to “put aside self and party” and “accept the responsibility given to us by the British people” to deliver Brexit.

      A visibly frustrated May said the vote had “grave” implications.

      “The legal default now is that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on 12 April — in just 14 days’ time,” she said. “This is not enough time to agree, legislate for and ratify a deal, and yet the House has been clear it will not permit leaving without a deal. And so we will have to agree an alternative way forward.”

      Had the deal been passed, Britain would have left the EU on May 22.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • God Raised Trump

      The Trump family is a source of constant inspiration to other families whose children are not as accomplished as their parents might have hoped, as well as to the parents of those children.

      Jared Kushner became the administration expert on Middle Eastern matters on virtually the same day his father-in-law was elected president. It was to him that Trump entrusted the task of negotiating a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, a task many more experienced than he, had found to be almost impossible to achieve. His success in that arena is well known and needs no further description here, other than the brief observation that the recent exchange of bombs and rockets between Hamas and Israel suggest that there is still a little work left for Jared to do. What do merit attention in this column, however, are the events of the week of March 10, 2019.

      That week presented us with two revelations. The first was the revelation that Donald Trump Jr. was every bit a match for his dad when it comes to understanding foreign affairs. He penned an op-ed piece for the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, in which he displayed an understanding of foreign affairs that few, if any of us, knew he had. The issue he discussed was Brexit. In that piece he gave a closely reasoned analysis of Brexit and Prime Minister Theresa May’s dealings in connection with it. In the op-ed he shows that he understands what has been happening in connection with the Brexit negotiations and why they are floundering. He places some of the blame for Prime Minister May’s lack of success on what he calls the “European elites” in Brussels who, he says, are bent on sabotaging Brexit. He also explains that because Prime Minister May ignored his dad’s advice that had been offered to her several months earlier, “A process [implementing Brexit] that should have taken only a few short months has become a years long stalemate.” He observed that as a result of all that “democracy in the U.K. is all but dead.” That can only be described as a cogent observation.

      As startling as the op-ed was, it did not hold a candle to what we learned three days later. That was the pronouncement by Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, that God had sent us Donald’s dad. (That pronouncement was made before the release of the 4-page summary of the Mueller report, a release that has taken the focus off Mr. Pompeo’s comments.) To describe the Trump advent to the world stage as a gift from God, was a little like saying that the recent floods in the mid-west are a gift from God to the farmers whose livelihoods have been wiped out. Nonetheless, that’s what he said and here’s how that proclamation came about.

    • Look How the Real Trump is Endangering America

      Special Counsel Robert Mueller spent almost two years to produce a $25 million report that is a flat tire. Still unreleased in full to the American people, Trump’s acolyte, Attorney General William Barr, a longtime friend of Republican Mueller, gave us what Trump long craved—by stating that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities” during the 2016 election. As for obstruction of justice by Trump, Attorney General Barr cryptically burped, that “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him”—whatever that means. Give people the whole report now, as the House of Representatives voted 420 to 0 to do.

      What a farce and distraction this whole exercise turned out to be! Mueller’s assigned subject was Trump. So, does this prosecutor demand to interview Trump, to subpoena Trump? No. Does this special investigator conclude with any legal recommendations at all? No. He just wants to be forgotten as he slinks away into deliberate silence (unless he is made to testify before the House Judiciary Committee).

      Really, what should we have expected from someone who, as FBI Director, testified before Congress as part of the Bush/Cheney regime, pushing for the criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003?

      The assignment to Mueller was doomed from the start. Its charge was far too narrow and proof in such matters is very difficult to find. Intent to collude requires direct examination of the President himself. But why would Trump have to collude at all? The Russians interfered in his favor in various ways to the detriment of Hillary Clinton and all he had to do was accept such foreign largess.

    • Russiagate Reality Check

      Donald Trump is bragging that the Mueller report did not prove he colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

      For most of us, when we rate how we’re doing in our jobs, we don’t say, “Nobody can prove I committed a crime!” or even, “I didn’t commit a crime!” and then pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.

      At this point, we’ve seen the Trump White House in action for over two years. Several investigative books and articles corroborate the chaos and disorder within it.

      Let me say for a moment, to the people who are angry at the state of the country, who feel left behind and disrespected by the media, government officials, academics, and other elites, your feelings are valid. Your desire to be treated with respect and dignity, to have your concerns taken seriously, and to have a government that makes policy to help you and your family live safe, happy, and productive lives is valid.

      However, even if Trump gives a voice to your anger, he doesn’t appear to do much more than that in terms of solving your problems, or America’s problems.

    • The Partisan Gerrymandering Cases That Could Shape the Future of Southern Politics

      The 2018 midterm elections resulted in a surge in turnout for Democratic voters across the South, but the increase in Democratic participation didn’t translate directly to an increase in Democratic power because of gerrymandering — the drawing of electoral district lines to benefit one party or racial group over others.

      But gerrymandering is facing an unprecedented challenge, with two landmark lawsuits over the practice now being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

      This week, the high court heard arguments in cases challenging the congressional maps drawn by Republicans in North Carolina and by Democrats in Maryland. The Brennan Center for Justice, a voting rights advocacy group, calls those states’ maps “among this decade’s starkest examples of extreme partisan gerrymanders.”

    • Where Do the Democratic Candidates Stand?

      Now that Attorney General William Barr has issued his summary report on the Mueller investigation of Trump, the Russians and the 2016 election, the talking heads at “liberal” media might refocus from Trump’s distraction show to the nation’s structural and economic crises. Additional – and disturbing – revelations about Trump are likely to be revealed in the next year-and-a-half, but the social and economic issues that are now only secondary concerns among Democratic candidates — compared to Trump and Russia-gate – will likely only increase in significance as the 2020 election approaches. Many economists, including Paul Krugman, are concerned that U.S. – and global — economic growth is slowing and a likely recession will hit later this year or next, just in time for the election.

    • Here’s What Was Happening While Everyone Was Talking About Mueller

      Just before lunch this past Wednesday, a stone-cold Twitter Nazi apparently outed SpongeBob Squarepants (or at least the person running his Twitter feed) as a sympathizer. Yeah, it was that kind of a week. A whole barge of very bad crud came down the river while we were encompassing the farce that was Attorney General William Barr’s 43-hour “summary” of the 300-page Mueller report. Given the weight of a lot of the past week’s news, it’s worth taking a hard look back at the non-Mueller events that may have been missed.

      Jeremy Richman, father of a student who was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary seven years ago, was found dead of an apparent suicide on Monday. His death followed closely on suicides by a pair of teenagers who survived the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School but never emotionally recovered from the trauma. Even as Newtown and Parkland continued to bleed from wounds caused by the gun violence crisis, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was caught red-handed sharing their tactics for spinning public discourse after the bodies drop in piles.

      An undercover investigation by Al Jazeera journalists captured video of NRA representatives teaching the fine art of gun spin to members of Australia’s far-right One Nation party months before the mass killing of Muslims at prayer in New Zealand. “Just shame them to the whole idea,” Lars Dalseide, public relations team member for the NRA, told One Nation representatives. “If your policy, isn’t good enough to stand on itself, how dare you use their deaths to push that forward. How dare you stand on the graves of those children to put forward your political agenda?”

      Adding insult to injury, the NRA declared its opposition this week to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act here at home because they want men with domestic violence incidents on their record to be able to purchase firearms. “It is a shame that some in the gun-control community treat the severity of domestic violence so trivially that they are willing to use it as a tool to advance a political agenda,” said NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker, taking a page straight from the playbook they were peddling to the fascists in Australia.

    • The Brexit Problem
    • The Revolution Must be Fun

      It’s about a “scrappy bunch of idealistic young people who … beat a professional army of [dictator Fulgencio Batista’s] 40,000 soldiers”. Indeed, it is fun to know how Castro, with 18 followers, few guns, convinced (the New York Times’) Herbert Matthews of a well-armed force of hundreds.

      But the Cuban Revolution was not improbable. And the story about that is not fun. It is serious, involving ideas. They expose lies: that are lived.

      Perrottet’s book is typical of how many, who admire Cuba, write about it: as if Cubans are steeped in ideology while liberals on the left have none. They are “anti-authoritarian”, ignoring the tyranny of their own rich lives. They make no “value judgments”. They “just listen” and tell stories.

      It’s easy. But it has a dark side: It imposes ideology, ignorantly or dishonestly.

    • Russiagate and the 1980s Crack Epidemic

      The release of the Mueller report and its conclusion that President Donald J. Trump and his top aides did not collude with Russia has prompted some important critical reflection on the American media and its penchant for sensationalism.

      Sean Davis, a cofounder of The Federalist, published an article in the Wall Street Journal on March 26thtitled “A Catastrophic Media Failure” which concluded that “America’s blue chipped journalists botched the entire [Russia Gate] story from its birth during the presidential campaign to its final breath Sunday.”

      Davis cites as an example a 2017 Time Magazine cover depicting the White House getting a “makeover to transform it into the Kremlin” and a December 2016. Washington Post story which erroneously reported that Russian hackers had “penetrated the U.S. electric grid.” In 2017, CNN reported the false claim that Donald Trump Jr. received special email access to stolen documents before their public release by Wikileaks – which if true, could have proven the president’s inner circle was colluding with Russian hackers intent on taking down Mrs. Clinton.

      Davis further mentions an article by Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine before the Trump-Putin summit in July 2018 which speculated that “Trump had been a Russian asset since 1987” – a claim he says that was “worthy of conspiracy theorists like the late Lyndon Larouche.”

      Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone compared the coverage of Russia Gate with Iraq and the mythical WMDs, writing that “WMD was a pimple compared to Russiagate. The sheer scale of the errors and exaggerations this time around dwarfs the last mess.”

    • Revealed: Trump-linked US Christian ‘fundamentalists’ pour millions of ‘dark money’ into Europe, boosting the far right

      They are spending money on a scale “not previously imagined”, according to lawmakers and human rights advocates, who have called our findings “shocking”. Reacting to openDemocracy’s findings, a cross-party group of more than 40 MEPs has called on the EU’s transparency tsar Frans Timmermans to look into the influence of “US Christian fundamentalists… with the greatest urgency” ahead of May’s European Parliament elections.

      Among the biggest spenders is a group whose chief counsel is also Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow. Another organisation has collaborated with a controversial Rome-based ‘institute’ backed by Steve Bannon. And a number of the groups are connected to the World Congress of Families: a network of ultra-conservative activists which has links to far-right politicians and movements in several European countries, including Italy, Hungary, Poland, Spain and Serbia.

      None of these American groups discloses who its donors are – though at least two have links to famous conservative billionaires, such as the Koch brothers (who helped bankroll the Tea Party Movement) and the family of Trump’s education secretary.

    • Trump-Appointed Board Proposes Major Blow to Air and Rail Unions

      Flight attendants played a crucial role in forcing an end to the government shutdown. Now the survival of their unions is being quietly threatened by Trump appointees on the National Mediation Board (NMB), an independent agency that was established in 1934 to resolve labor-management disputes in the airline and railroad industries.

      Since November 2017, the three-member panel that oversees the NMB has been controlled by Republicans, as the Senate confirmed both of Trump’s nominees, Gerald W. Fauth III and Kyle Fortson. Trump was also required to nominate one Democrat by law and he chose Linda Puchala, an Obama appointee who has served on the NMB since 2009.

      The board is currently targeting the Railway Labor Act (RLA). That’s a federal law that was established in 1926 to govern labor disputes in the railroad industry and give workers the right to engage in collective bargaining. Although originally created specifically for railroad workers, it was extended to cover the airline industry in 1936. According to the RLA, any employee who wants to decertify their union must first get signatures from half of the workforce. After the signatures have been obtained, a “straw man” is established to run against the union. Workers then get to vote either for the union, for the straw man, or for no representation at all. The rule is designed to give workers the option to vote for new representation if they have an issue with the direction of the union, as opposed to getting rid of the union altogether.

    • Russiagate: Tragedy, Not Farce

      The left is an uplifting space of solidarity because it is a place that keeps track of the least of us in a way the mainstream media will not. It is very hard to find anything beyond opportunism in a mainstream media who is obsessed over a non-story like Russiagate. One has to wonder though if the left has any more of a concrete connection to the working class based on the spiteful reaction to Mueller’s report.

      Donald Trump will ride the momentum of a failed witch hunt by Robert Mueller. He may ride it to four more years in office. This is deeply consequential for our immigrant sisters and brothers, those surviving on ObamaCare, and those living in communities most effected by Trump’s ambitious deregulatory scheme. Millions of species will now go extinct.

      Donald Trump will continue with his America First Energy Plan which really puts fossil fuel companies first. This plan not only drives the country away from renewable energy. It also endangers our air and drinking water. In the short term we will have trouble drinking and breathing. In the long term climate change will only be accelerated.

      Trump is also expanding oil drilling and pipelines. His drilling specifically targets federal land, offshore water supplies and poor Native communities. Trump has eliminated staff that deals with pesticides, waste and toxic substances. Trump rolled back the energy and emissions standards of the Obama administration, leaving citizens in the hands of states who may or may not set their own standards.

      Trump has ignored calls to regulate lead poisoning. His EPA chief Scott Pruitt was suspected of meeting with Dow Chemicals CEO Andrew Liveris before he allowed the chlorpyrifos pesticide to be distributed. This pesticide will harm fetuses and infants in even the very smallest of amounts. Trump has dumped the Clean Water Rule and rolled back coal-emissions standards. All of Obama’s plans have been abandoned (Paris, Climate Action, Clean Power). Trump is letting methane gas be leaked as well.

    • Episode 21: Getting to Know The 2020 Presidential Candidates Part 1

      On this episode of Along the Line, Dr. Dreadlocks Nicholas Baham III, Dr. Nolan Higdon, and Janice Domingo host the inaugural episode of Getting to Know The 2020 Presidential Candidates. Each month they will provide a biopic of four candidates competing for the US Presidency. This episode examines Kamala Harris; Corey Booker; Bill Weld; and Tulsi Gabbard. ATL’s Creative Director is Jorge Ayala. Mickey Huff is ATL’s producer. ATL’s engineer is Janice Domingo. Adam Armstrong is ATL’s webmaster.

    • Everyone Deserves Full Protection Under Law

      Our country has made significant strides in advancing LGBTQ+ rights over the last 15 years.

      The 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling affirming marriage equality offered millions of Americans something to be proud of. But that historic moment didn’t erase years of hate or stop the daily mistreatment that many LGBTQ+ people face. Nor did it mean that LGBTQ+ people were suddenly equal under the law.

      The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects people from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, was a hard-fought win that we must vigorously defend. But clear federal protections for sexual orientation and gender identity are still largely absent.

      Anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination has come into even sharper focus since President Trump was elected. We saw a series of policy attacks on LGBTQ+ people during Trump’s first 100 days in office, and it’s only gotten worsein the two years since.

      The Supreme Court refused to take a clear and broad stand against discrimination in 2018 in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case involving a gay couple whose request for a wedding cake was rejected by a Colorado baker. And LGBTQ+ people in many states today still aren’t fully protected against employment discrimination.

      Enter the Equality Act.

    • Dmitry Medvedev tells all (or nothing): The prime minister’s #VKLive broadcast in three summarized quotes

      On March 29, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev took part in a live interview on the social media platform VKontakte as part of the network’s #VKLive program. While Medvedev spoke positively of social media as a platform for two-way communication with the public, his own openness about current events was limited.

    • Democratic (Party) Socialism

      No sooner had last November’s midterm election concluded than the next round in the electoral circus, focused on choosing the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2020, got underway. After having worked triple overtime for nearly two seemingly endless years (since even before Trump’s Inauguration), by New Year’s Day, the nation’s junk mailboxes were full of it again, gathering in candidates’ pleas for money full throttle, along with the usual never-ending spam.

      In the political culture of the United States, electoral politics is like an invasive weed that crowds out everything else. Indeed, to many Americans, all politics is electoral; politics and electoral politics are one and the same.

      This is obviously false. Nevertheless, there are quite a few Americans — labor and community organizers, polemicists, agitators and others – who are as politically engaged as can be, and who therefore ought to know better, but somehow don’t.

      Presidential elections are especially invasive; they even crowd out interest in other elections — for lesser federal, state, and local offices. They suck up so much political oxygen that it is hard even to get militants interested in activities, like party building, that affect electoral outcomes in ways that are not immediately obvious.

      This is one of many reasons why, unlike in most other liberal democracies and very much to our detriment, “third party” and independent electoral ventures are, for all practical purposes, non-starters.

      Before Trump, the duopoly party system was functioning in the way it seemingly always had – with two odious, ideologically like-minded, semi-established political parties, Democrats and Republicans, hawking their candidates the way that the Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola companies peddle their brands of soda pop.

    • Collusion in Plain Sight

      A collusion crisis. That’s what the money media are facing since the Attorney General released his summary of the Special Prosecutor’s report. Barr says Mueller says he found no proof of a Russia/Trump campaign conspiracy to subvert US democracy. Oh no! How are cable companies going to keep their ratings up with an audience that’s collusion-hooked?

      The media has no reason to worry. There’s plenty of collusion in plain sight, and it wouldn’t take a twenty-two month inquiry to find Trump conspiring with enemies of US democracy, if only the US media spent a fraction of the time they’ve spent covering Russia-gate looking at Trump’s relationship with killer corporations and hate groups.

      Let’s start with the Trump administration’s collusion with big business. After two deadly airplane crashes, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao admitted to Congress this week that, as a matter of routine, the administration largely leaves aviation employees at Boeing to regulate safety standards on Boeing aircraft like the (safety-switch-optional) 737 Max.

    • Adam Schiff delivers massive smackdown: Trump is “immoral,” “unpatriotic” and “corrupt”

      As we saw telegraphed as early as Monday, Trump wants revenge. His motto for years has been “get even” and he obviously thinks that wreaking vengeance on his political opponents will keep him in the White House past 2020. Even his decision to back the lawsuit repealing Obamacare, made against the advice of many Republicans, is really just a way for him to exact revenge on his most hated rival — who happens to be a dead man, John McCain.

      Trump went out of his way to crudely insult House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif.:

      He didn’t talk about the size of his own neck, thankfully. But he did get a bit more rhetorically pungent, saying, “The Democrats need to decide whether they will continue to defraud the public with ridiculous bullshit.” (Yes, he said bullshit.)

    • A People’s State of the Nation

      With Democratic candidates for president coming forward and progressives nationwide defining the agenda ahead, this is a good time to look hard at where we are as a country. Abraham Lincoln put it best: “If we could first know where we are… we could better judge what to do and how to do it.”

      So where are we? There are many ways to judge, but one important way is to compare ourselves to other advanced democracies and see where we stand in the rankings. Let’s focus on twenty well-to-do countries, all members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In addition to the U.S., the group includes the fifteen major countries of Western Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

    • Aging China

      A country that turns grey before wealthy is the dilemma facing those who reside in the leadership compound of Zhongnanhai, just off Tiananmen Square.

      A demographic timebomb is ticking and while it is primed to go off after the current leadership in China retires, it is a scenario that could undermine the economy and political stability long before the predicted detonation.

      Despite the abolition of the one-child policy, in 2015, the birth rate last year was 10.94 per thousand, the lowest since 1949, when Mao Zedong took power. In 2017 it was 12.43 per thousand, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed. The number of babies born in 2018 fell by two million to 15.23 million. In some areas the birth rate plunged. In Qingdao, a city in eastern Shandong province – one of China’s most populous regions – births between January and November decreased by 21 per cent to just over 81,000 compared to the previous year.

      For decades most families were limited to one child to control population growth. This policy was often enforced with abortions and harsh financial penalties. A gender imbalance occurred. About 117 boys were born for every 100 girls in 2015 as parents believed males would better secure their welfare in old age.

      But the onset of an ageing society and a shrinking workforce saw this policy relaxed in 2015 when couples were allowed two children. But his has not gone to plan. Rising and stratospheric education, health and housing costs make it difficult for couples to afford even one child, let alone two. Also living arrangements mean that many couples have to look after both sets of parents, often in small apartments.

    • GOP ‘Terrified’ of AOC: Trump Jr. and Party Take Aim at N.Y. Dem

      Hillary Clinton is no longer the most targeted Republican foe—that dubious honor, ahead of the 2020 election, belongs to freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

      The New York Democrat’s rise to prominence in the GOP mind was on full display Thursday evening in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where President Donald Trump held a “rambling and lie-filled rally,” as Common Dreams reported early Friday.

      Before the president took the stage, however, his son Donald Trump, Jr., warmed up the crowd by taking potshots at Ocasio-Cortez.

      “Think about the fact that every mainstream, leading Democratic contender is taking the advice of a freshman congresswoman who three weeks ago didn’t know the three branches of government,” Jr. said, referring to the Green New Deal. “I don’t know about you guys, but that’s pretty scary.”

      Those comments were met with a chant of “AOC sucks” from the pro-Trump crowd.

      “You guys, you’re not very nice,” said Jr. “And neither is what that policy would do to this country.”

    • How a Federal Judge Missed the Mark in Explaining Paul Manafort’s Sentence

      In the face of our mass incarceration crisis, it shouldn’t take an “otherwise blameless life” to receive a fair sentence after conviction.
      On March 7, Paul Manafort was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis on eight counts of tax evasion and bank fraud. Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in federal prison though under statute, he could have received up to a 10-year sentence and guidelines recommended that much time or more.

      In a highly ridiculed and patently bizarre attempt to justify what many viewed as a surprisingly short prison sentence, Judge Ellis claimed that Manafort had lived “an otherwise blameless life.” Less than a week later, on the other side of the globe, while sentencing Australian Cardinal George Pell on two counts of sexual molestation, Judge Peter Kidd made precisely the same statement.

      It is both disturbing and absurd to hear a sentencing judge remark on the quantum of blame or virtue amassed over the lifetime of any human being. And it is particularly stunning to hear the phrase “otherwise blameless” used in the cases of two men convicted of incredible abuses of significant privilege and power.

      Though federal sentencing guidelines authorize an inquiry into a person’s history and characteristics, “otherwise blameless” is a precariously subjective evaluation for a judge to express. This concerning statement is rendered all the more alarming since judges harbor the same racial biases as the general population. The result, all too often, is Black and brown people are viewed as blameworthy while white people receive leniency.

    • Moving Beyond the Mueller Investigation

      After nearly two years of investigations that spawned dozens of indictments and convictions of a significant number of Donald Trump’s close associates and colleagues, the special counsel’s inquiry into the 2016 election has come to a close. While the grand jury that Robert Mueller convened is continuing its work, and a number of ongoing investigations have emerged, Mueller’s final report has been delivered to the attorney general’s office as required. The new AG, William Barr, appears to have done what Trump hoped he would: spin the report’s findings as positively as possible. And now America is supposed to simply move on.

      As the political battle over making Mueller’s report public plays out in the halls of Congress, another war is being fought on the left. Broadly speaking, there have been two schools of thought among liberals and leftists on the special counsel’s probe. Many felt that the investigation was a waste of time and that there was no point in placing faith in Mueller using the legal system to end the train wreck of Trump’s presidency. Additionally, this faction contended, the special counsel propagated unwarranted anti-Russian views and a new Red Scare. On the other, more centrist end of the spectrum was the idea that Trump is a Russian stooge, bought and paid for by Vladimir Putin, and that the Mueller investigation would save the nation from the treasonous figurehead.

      The truth is a bit more complicated.

      There is no doubt that Trump had business interests in Russia and was hoping to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. If anything is predictable about Trump, it is that he is driven by money and prestige. Trump has also made no secret of trying to impress Putin, which shouldn’t surprise us, given that he has had similar infatuations with other dictatorial figures, such as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. There is also ample evidence that Russia attempted to influence the U.S. elections in 2016, resulting in Mueller’s indictments of more than a dozen Russian nationals and, as Barr summarized, the special counsel found “two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.”

    • It’s Opening Day: Here Are Three Political Storylines to Watch in Baseball This Year

      But this is 2019, a bumbling orange fascist sits in the White House, and nothing is pure. In this Hobbesian nightmare of neoliberal America where the war of all against all is scorched earth, and where collateral damage is measured in unfollows and blocks, baseball is not some apolitical sanctuary to which one can retreat. It is not the redoubt of harmonious fellowship and competition within which human conflicts and existential social crises simply recede into the ether. Rather, baseball (like all politics), is struggle.

      Sadly, there are very few baseball writers, or sports journalists in general, who have either the desire or professional capacity, to truly examine the battlefield, to inspect the trenches, guns, and bombs, and to tell the war stories that must be told (Dave Zirin at The Nation being a wonderful exception). For, if baseball belongs to everyone, then no one must be offended.

      This is utter nonsense, of course. The era of fake news and fake presidents does not untether our society from reality, nor does it release journalists from their obligation to tell the truth, even if it hurts the corporate bottom line of the media robber barons or loses them friends on Facebook.

    • How to Find Hope in the Age of Trump

      As readers of Truthout know, I have been on the Mueller report beat ever since Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and the special counsel was appointed nearly two years ago. The report is done now, and all we the people have to show for it is a vapid letter from a political appointee and an existential headache that just won’t go away.

      During those two years, and definitely in the aftermath of the now-notorious “Barr summary,” the country divided itself into camps based on opinions of the investigation. Some saw the whole affair as a cover-up for Clinton’s defeat in 2016. Some didn’t buy it even without the alleged DNC skullduggery. Others invested an ocean of faith in Mueller, and still others waited and watched with tempered hope. Each group had its own arsenal of facts to deploy in its defense, and when the Barr summary hit, it served as a national Rorschach test for what these groups believed they already knew.

      There is another group, larger than all the others combined, for whom the Barr summary was simply a fait accompli. A whole lot of people whose faith in the concept of justice was already torn and frayed are now abandoning even the concept of hope. It isn’t difficult to understand why. The people whose bank accounts and political associations allow them to exist above the law don’t just win all the time nowadays; they rub their victories in our faces because cruelty and mockery are the new cool for the untouchable few.

      Meanwhile, there appears to be no meaningful political opposition inside the Beltway to the ever-increasing severity of that cruelty. “In the absence of any knowable facts, Republicans declare victory and invent their own,” wrote Dahlia Lithwick for Slate in the aftermath of the Barr summary. “In the absence of any knowable facts, Democrats declare defeat.”

    • Russiagate: A Trump-Boosting Triumph of Diversion and Inauthentic Opposition?

      Did the Russian government make some efforts to intervene on Donald Trump’s behalf in the 2016 United States presidential election? Has Trump’s behavior toward Russia been odd, to say the least, for a U.S. president? Has Trump had significant financial ties to Russian oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin? Does Putin very possibly have something on Trump?

      The answer to all these questions is yes. But so what? There is no evidence, only supposition, that Russia’s stabs made any real difference in the election’s outcome. Whatever impact Russia had was negligible compared to the longstanding and ongoing interference of the United States’ homegrown corporate and financial oligarchy in America’s supposedly democratic elections. The depressing, demobilizing, and corporate-imperial Hillary Clinton campaign and the dismal neoliberal record of the Wall Street-captive Barack Obama presidency were by far and away the leading factors behind Trump’s terrible victory.

      Wealthy U.S. election investors and lobbyists kept Hillary’s miserable campaign pathetically centrist and dull – a deadly problem in an anti-establishment election. A hard-right wing of the nation’s financial plutocracy contributed significantly to the reactionary-populist Trump’s surge after the 2016 Republican National Convention. The corporate operatives atop the Democratic Party fixed the primary contest against the progressive-populist Bernie Sanders, who ran in accord with majority-progressive opinion and would have beaten Trump.

      Russia’s “interference” in the 2016 US election was nothing compared to the United States’ regular and ongoing intervention in other nations’ politics, including their elections Israeli intervention in U.S. politics “vastly overwhelms” anything Russia has done, as Noam Chomsky observed last year.

    • ‘Absurdly Craven’: McConnell Pursues New Nuclear Option on Judges, Enraging Progressives

      Senate Republicans will be able to fill the nation’s federal courts with conservative justices even more rapidly under a new rule change proposed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, infuriating progressives.

      McConnell’s latest salvo in the battle over the courts is less dramatic than his work to stack the Supreme Court for President Donald Trump, but the Kentucky Republican is nonetheless making moves that will have longstanding effects on the makeup of the country’s judicial system.

      The newest “nuclear option” being considered by the majority leader would slash debate time on district court nominees from 30 hours to two. McConnell justified the move in a floor speech Thursday that, at best, referred to ideas of comity and legislative fairness that were inconsistent with his behavior during the President Barack Obama administration.

      During the last year of the Obama administration, McConnell used his power in the Senate to keep the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia open in spite of Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the position—simply by refusing to allow Garland to come up for a vote.

    • Russian prime minster comments on major fraud charges against former advisor Mikhail Abyzov

      On March 29, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev took part in a livestream called #VKLive on the social media platform VKontakte. During the livestream, Medvedev commented on the criminal case against his former aide Mikhail Abyzov, who stands accused of using his position at a Medvedev-initiated government ministry to form a criminal group and embezzle more than $62 million.

    • Mueller, Russiagate and the 2020 Elections

      In horror movies, the monster can usually be dispatched in only one way. A werewolf requires a silver bullet. A vampire will only stay dead with a stake through the heart. The Blob shrivels in contact with the icy cold.

      For many opponents of Donald Trump, the report by special counsel Robert Mueller was supposed to be the magic method of taking down the president.

      After all, like a movie monster, Trump seemed to be impervious to all other weapons. Charges of sexual harassment, of adultery, of outrageously sexist comments — these didn’t destroy his political career. Accusations of racism only seemed to solidify his base. He has faced any number of allegations of economic malfeasance, from money laundering to tax evasion, but these have only seemed to burnish his reputation for breaking the rules and getting away with it.

      Tying the president to the Russian manipulation of the 2016 presidential elections, on the other hand, promised to push the president beyond the pale. Collusion with a foreign government to subvert American democracy? Even the Donald couldn’t survive such a blow. Impeachment would be the least of his worries. He would be looking at spending the rest of his days in prison.

      In this respect, Mueller has not delivered. In the report he delivered at the end of last week, the special counsel concluded that there was no proof that the Trump election team colluded with the Russians to hijack the elections. Attorney General William Barr’s summary includes this direct quote from the report: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

    • Matt Taibbi and Aaron Maté on How Russiagate Helped Trump

      The claim that President Trump engaged in collusion with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election was so pervasive and unquestioned that only a handful of journalists demonstrated the healthy skepticism required by their profession. Last week, special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report on the Trump-Russia investigation to the Justice Department, which then released a four-page summary written by Attorney General William Barr. While the full report is over 300 pages, and Mueller punted on the question of obstruction, he found no evidence of collusion. Despite this, the “Russiagate” truthers, if you will, are doubling down on the Russiagate narrative, moving the goalposts to focus on the possibility of obstruction of justice and conveniently ignoring that the collusion that was so central to their theory has not been established.

    • Nadler Demands ‘Full and Complete’ Mueller Report as Barr Says Redacted Version Coming Mid-April

      “I share your desire to ensure that Congress and the public have the opportunity to read the Special Counsel’s report,” Barr wrote. “We are preparing the report for release, making the redactions that are required. The Special Counsel is assisting us in this process.”

      In a statement responding to Barr’s letter, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) repeated his demand for “the full and complete Mueller report, without redactions, as well as access to the underlying evidence.”

      “There is ample precedent for the Department of Justice sharing all of the information that the Attorney General proposes to redact to the appropriate congressional committees,” Nadler said. “Again, Congress must see the full report.”

      Barr said his four-page letter to Congress Sunday was not a summary of Mueller’s findings.

      “As my letter made clear, my notification to Congress and the public provided, pending release of the report, a summary of its ‘principal conclusions’—that is, its bottom line,” Barr wrote. “I do not believe it would be in the public’s interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in serial or piecemeal fashion.”

      Observers took interest in Barr’s insistence that his previous letter was not a summary of Mueller’s full report.

      “Remarkably, Barr could have issued this exact letter along with his initial memo: noting the process by which he was working through matters, the length of Mueller’s report, and clarification that his memo was not a summary,” tweeted The Daily Beast’s Sam Stein. “Instead, he waited days to send this. Curious.”

    • Redacted Mueller Report Expected to Be Released by Mid-April

      A redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation will be sent to Congress by mid-April and will not be shared with the White House beforehand, Attorney General William Barr said Friday.

      Barr’s timeline, included in a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees, sets up a possible showdown with House Democrats, who are insisting they see the full report next week.

      In his letter, Barr said he shares a desire for Congress and the public to be able to read Mueller’s findings, which are included in the nearly 400-page report the special counsel submitted last week.

      Barr said President Donald Trump would have the right to assert executive privilege over parts of the report. But he noted that Trump “has stated publicly that he intends to defer to me and, accordingly, there are no plans to submit the report to the White House for a privilege review.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • It looks like UK gov’s porn block is being delayed again

      The worst thing about this is that the government is aware of the risks of its ill-thought-policy, but is blindly pursuing it anyway, regardless of the consequences. Now, where have we heard that before?

    • France Plans to Add ‘Article 13’ to New Anti-Piracy Law This Summer

      This week the European Parliament voted in favor of the new Copyright Directive. While the Council has yet to adopt it, France plans to implement the measures within months. Article 13/17 will be part of a new anti-piracy law that will also introduce a national blacklist for pirate streaming sites, the French Minister of Culture announced.

    • Russia Orders Major VPN Providers to Block ‘Banned’ Sites

      Ten major VPN providers have been ordered by Russian authorities to begin blocking sites present in the country’s national blacklist. NordVPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish and HideMyAss are among those affected. TorGuard also received a notification and has pulled its services out of Russia with immediate effect.

    • Don’t Repeat FOSTA’s Mistakes

      o gather in online communities to talk about everything from the mundane to the most important and controversial, and together, to confront and consider our societies’ pressing problems. But a growing chorus of U.S. politicians is considering dangerous new policies that would limit our ability to have those complex conversations online.

      The Chair of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, Bennie Thompson, is urging tech companies to prioritize the removal of “sensitive, violent content” from their online platforms. But as we were worried might happen, the Chair didn’t stop there—he’s also threatening new legislation if the companies don’t move quickly.

      In a letter written shortly after the heartbreaking shooting in New Zealand, which the shooter had livestreamed on multiple platforms, Rep. Thompson told Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter that if they don’t act, “Congress must consider policies to ensure that terrorist content is not distributed on your platforms, including by studying the examples being set by other countries.” Calling for more aggressive moderation policies in the face of horrifying crimes is understandable, particularly when the major online platforms have failed to address how they can be exploited by individuals who broadcast or amplify hate and violence to unsuspecting users. Some might even argue that more aggressive moderation is a lamentable but needed shift in the online landscape.

    • Facebook Enacts White Nationalism Ban, but Can It Be Enforced?

      It’s an about-face for Facebook, whose operators have been hesitant to constrain user activity. “As abhorrent as some of this content can be, I do think that it gets down to this principle of giving people a voice,” founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told tech journalist Kara Swisher in a 2018 Recode interview.

      Zuckerberg was defiant when Facebook was accused of allowing false information about the 2016 election to flourish on the platform. Just one day after Donald Trump won the presidency, Zuckerberg told attendees at the tech conference Technonomy that the claims were “pretty crazy,” The Verge reported in 2016.

      When white nationalists held a rally in Charlottesville, Va., that resulted in the 2017 death of counterprotester Heather Heyer, Facebook “pushed to re-educate its moderators about American white supremacists in particular,” but made a distinction between white nationalism and white supremacy, as Motherboard revealed when it obtained leaked Facebook moderation training materials last year.

    • Convicted neo-Nazi goes free after Russian government partially decriminalizes ‘inciting hate and enmity’

      The neo-Nazi Dmitry Bobrov has been set free due to the Russian government’s partial decriminalization of Article 282, a law that now penalizes some cases of “enciting hate and enmity” against particular groups with fees and administrative penalties alone. Bobrov, who has led the recognized extremist groups Schultz-88 and National Socialist Initiative, went into hiding in September 2017 when he was sentenced to two years in prison. He was captured in January 2019.

    • Alabama Court Decides Publicity Rights Trump First Amendment In S-Town Lawsuit

      We’ve written for some time about the scourge that is publicity rights laws and the fairly blatant way in which they tend to butt up against the First Amendment. While famous folk certainly do have the right to reserve the use of their likeness and names from those that would use either for commercial purposes, too often these laws are instead used to silence non-commercial speech, or speech that revolves instead around journalistic efforts. A famous person, for instance, cannot use publicity rights laws to keep a newspaper from printing factual information about them, or a movie maker from producing a documentary about them. This is First Amendment 101.

      But it seems some in the legal field skipped that class. One judge in Alabama has decided to shoulder the First Amendment to one side and favor instead the state’s publicity rights laws to allow a lawsuit against the producers of famed podcast S-Town to move forward.

    • Censorship of Al Jazeera Documentary Exposing the Influence of the Israel Lobby

      A documentary film exposing the extensive influence and power the Israel lobby has in Washington, DC politics has been leaked to the media after the Qatar government pulled it from Al Jazeera, which it controls.

      In August 2018, several excerpts of the censored documentary were leaked and later published by a number of smaller, online media outlets.

      The documentary was produced and researched by an undercover reporter for Al Jazeera, who infiltrated pro-Israeli lobby groups in the United States in 2016 and 2017 and it includes undercover interviews with pro-Israel activists in American politics working to craft policy specifically regarding freedom of the state of Palestine. It shows paid pro-Israeli activists discussing their participation in supposedly grass-roots demonstrations.

      The pro-Israel lobby successfully pressured the Qatari government to not release the documentary in full. Yet, later that year, the online platforms Electronic Intifada, France’s Orient XXL, and Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar released the leaked clips exposing the extent of power the Israeli lobby in American politics.

    • Me, Google and that Russian Guy

      Actually, truth be told, I know why I’m not in the moment, not that that helps me get back in. There was a mix-up when, once upon a time, I “okay Googled” and found that Google had mashed up my info with that of a Russian gangster with my name. Google me, and you get me and him mashed up. I am a victim of identity dump. You’ve heard of identity theft? Even worse is identity dump. This Russian gangster with my name, who likely has more than his fair share of enemies, has palmed his identity off on me. Google’s oh-so-brilliant algorithm fell for his little scam hook, line and sinker. Google lasers in on me, but thinks I am him. I am him on line, me in the flesh. This is what knocked me out of the moment.

      Now all I can think about is that this Russian gangster wants some guy to think I am him for a reason I don’t want to think about. What if my “okay Googling” twigged some enemy of the Russian gangster as to my whereabouts? Was that his little plan all along? I would “okay Google”, Google would think I was him, it would track me on its little map, and his enemy’s henchman would twig to my/his whereabouts by hacking Google. Theoretically, I’m a sitting duck! But could the Russian gangster’s enemy’s henchman hack Google? That is the sixty-four bazillion dollar question. Can the bad guys squeeze through Google’s back door?

    • Australian Prosecutors Trying To Throw Reporters In Jail For Accurately Reporting On Cardinal George Pell’s Conviction

      As we’ve covered over the past few months, Australian courts put an absolutely ridiculous gag order on anyone trying to report about the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, the former CFO of the Vatican (often described as the 3rd most powerful person in the Vatican). Pell was convicted of sexually molesting choir boys in Australia in the 1990s. This is obviously quite newsworthy, but the courts used what’s known as a “suppression order” in Australia to bar anyone from revealing the information. The reasoning was that there was still another trial for Pell over different accusations, and knowing he was convicted for one might somehow unfairly influence a jury. Of course, in the US we’ve long dealt with this through a process of vetting potential jurors on their familiarity, and then simply barring just that juror pool from doing any further research on the issue — and that system works mostly fine, without keeping the public in the dark about important news, and without stifling a free press.

      Eventually the suppression order was lifted, after prosecutors decided to drop the second trial (which, at the very least, suggests that all this fuss to protect the sanctity of said second trial was silly all along). And, yet, prosecutors then sent out a bunch of threatening letters to journalists — most of whom did not report publicly on the case, but who did complain about the suppression order.

    • Three Lessons In Content Moderation From New Zealand And Other High-Profile Tragedies

      If you remember nothing else about content moderation, remember this: There is no magic wand. There is no magic wand that can be waved and instantly remove all of the terrorist propaganda, hate speech, graphically violent or otherwise objectionable content. There are some things that automation and machine learning are really good at: functioning within a specific and particular environment (rather than on a massive scale) and identifying repeat occurrences of the exact same (completely unaltered) content, for example. And there are some things they are really bad at: interpreting nuance, understanding slang, and minimizing discrimination and social bias, among many others. But perfect enforcement of a complex rule against a dynamic body of content is not something that automated tools can achieve. For example, the simple change of adding a watermark was enough to defeat automated tools aimed removing video of the New Zealand shooter.

    • Section 230 Holds On As Grindr Gets To Use It As A Defense

      It’s not really possible to predict the outcome of a court case. No matter how convinced you are that things look to be heading one way, there are still a zillion ways things can turn out otherwise.

      That said, however, I’m glad to discover that my cautious optimism about the Herrick v. Grindr case was not misplaced. This was a case where a terrible ex-boyfriend set up a phony Grindr profile for Herrick, which led to him being harassed by would-be suitors thinking it was genuine. It was an awful situation and no one can fault Herrick for wanting to hold someone responsible. The problem was, if he were to succeed in holding the dating app liable, it would represent a serious weakening of Section 230′s platform protection, which, as we’ve discussed many times, would lead to the reduction of online services and censorship.

    • Russian prime minister Medvedev goes live in a social media broadcast, but the comments section is closed

      A live interview with Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev on the social network VKontakte proceeded with the broadcast’s comment function turned off. Comments were also blocked on social media pages belonging to the Russian executive branch and to the prime minister himself. At the beginning of Medvedev’s broadcast, which is part of VKontakte’s #VKLive program, the prime minister expressed interest in social media as a two-way communicative channel between the government and its constituents.

    • Journalist Maria Ressa Arrested Yet Again As Philippines Keeps Finding Bogus Reasons To Arrest Vocal Critic

      As we’ve discussed before, reporter Maria Ressa is a powerhouse journalist, who started an important Filipino news site, Rappler.com. Rappler has been (quite reasonably) highly critical of the Filipino government under President Duterte, and over the past few years, the Duterte government has responded with a bunch of highly questionable criminal complaints against Ressa, which all appear to be in direct violation of the country’s 4th Amendment, which is a near carbon copy of the American 1st Amendment. It forbids any law that abridges the freedom of the press (among other things).

      And yet… for over a year now, the government has been trying to claim that Rappler violated the so-called anti-Dummy law in the Philippines. Apparently, the Philippines has a law that says, in certain types of industries, Filipino companies cannot have foreign ownership (this, by itself, already seems silly, but leaving that aside…). Rappler does not have any foreign owners. However, it did receive a grant from the well known Omidyar Network, and in order to receive the grant, Rappler used a semi-complicated system called a Philippine Depository Receipt (PDR), in which the company sells these assets to Omidyar, and the assets are pegged to the value of shares in the company, but they grant no ownership benefits or rights. The Filipino government has said for a while that these create a “dummy status” in pretending Omidyar isn’t really taking an ownership stake when it is.

    • The EU’s Terrorist Content Regulation: Expanding the Rule of Platform Terms of Service and Exporting Expression Restrictions from the EU’s Most Conservative Member States

      The EU’s proposed Terrorist Content Regulation gives national authorities sweeping new powers over comments, videos, and other content that people share using Internet platforms. Among other things, authorities – who may be police, not courts – can require platforms of all sizes to take content down within one hour. The Regulation also requires even small platforms to build upload filters and attempt to proactively weed out prohibited material. Critics have raised serious concerns about the Regulation’s likely ineffectiveness in combatting violent extremism, collateral damage for human rights, and disparate impact on racial minorities, as well as the anti-competitive impact of requiring small businesses to adopt expensive and poorly understood filtering technologies.

      While the Regulation expands EU Member States’ power to ban online expression and information, it simultaneously reduces their power to protect them. It significantly erodes national lawmakers’ authority to uphold Internet users’ fundamental rights to receive and impart information. It does so by greatly increasing platforms’ incentives to prohibit content using private Terms of Service (TOS), rather than national law, and to take down more material than the law actually requires. At the same time, it effectively increases the power of authorities in any EU Member State to suppress information that is legal elsewhere in the EU. Authorities in Hungary and authorities in Sweden may disagree, for example, about whether a news organization sharing an interview with a current or former member of a terrorist organization is “promoting” or “glorifying” terrorism. Or they may differ on the legitimacy of a civil society organization’s advocacy on complex issues in Chechnya, Israel, or Kurdistan. The Regulation gives platforms reason to use their TOS to accommodate whichever authority wants such content taken down – and to apply that decision to users everywhere.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook’s White Nationalism Ban — Is It A Disaster In Goodwill?

      After several ‘Unite the Right rallies,’ violence in Charlottesville and the Christchurch terrorist attack in New Zealand, Facebook finally took action. The social media platform banned ‘White Nationalist’ and ‘White Separatist’ content on its platform.

      Prior to this, only the ‘White Supremacy’ or content related to it was banned. In an official Facebook Newsroom post on 27th March 2019, the platform erased the distinction between White Nationalism and White Supremacy.

    • Facebook is banning white nationalism and white separatism

      The news was first reported by Motherboard on Wednesday, and Facebook subsequently confirmed it in a blog post on its website. (A company representative did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.)

      Facebook already considered white supremacy to be hate speech, and the new policy recognizes the overlap between traditional white supremacy and movements like white separatism and white nationalism.

    • Search Maven Google Secretly Remains in Military Deal It Publicly Eschewed

      Google’s hand will remain in a controversial, secret–and lucrative– Pentagon program that uses drone technology to identify targets for military strikes. In 2018, Google faced resignations and a massive internal protest with thousands of employees signing a petition urging the company to sever ties with Project Maven. Google Cloud’s chief executive at the time, Diane Greene, announced at a company town hall meeting that the contract was only for $9 million. Google at first relented to their employees’ backlash to the contract last June when they publicly announced they would not renew their contract to work on Project Maven. But since then, Project Maven has been allocated another $100 million by the U.S. and will likely reach $250 million in years to come.

    • Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to “Put a Stake in the Heart” of NSA’s Domestic Phone Spying

      In a move welcomed by civil liberties advocates, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation to end once and for all the National Security Agency’s authority for mass surveillance of Americans’ phone records.

      “It’s a welcome and necessary first-step in a longer fight to dismantle the U.S. government’s sprawling surveillance state,” said Fight for the Future campaigner Laila Abdelaziz.

      Entitled the “Ending Mass Collection of Americans’ Phone Records Act,” the legislation was introduced Thursday in the Senate by Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), while Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced a companion measure in the House.

      “The NSA’s sprawling phone records dragnet was born in secrecy, defended with lies, and never stopped a single terrorist attack,” Wyden said in a statement.

      “Even after Congress acted in 2015, the program collected over half a billion phone records in a single year. It’s time, finally, to put a stake in the heart of this unnecessary government surveillance program and start to restore some of Americans’ liberties,” he said.

    • What If Google And Facebook Admitted That All This Ad Targeting Really Doesn’t Work That Well?

      You may have heard the famous line from early department store magnate John Wanamaker that “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Over the past decade or so, various companies have argued that their ability to provide a ton of data, combined with whatever algorithmic magic they could throw at their platforms, could lead to a magical mythical world in which there were perfectly targeted advertisements. And, of course, in the past few years there have been literally just two places where advertisers believe they can get perfectly targeted advertisements that don’t waste half (or more) of their ad spend: Google and Facebook.

      The end result of this thinking is that Google and Facebook need to engage in what people refer to as “surveillance capitalism,” collecting a ton of data on everyone, building a huge profile about every user, and snooping on basically everything everyone does all day. This is why people have been getting more and more annoyed about the privacy trade-offs over the past few years (though, not so annoyed that they’ve stopped using these platforms in any significant way — though, that could happen). It also has resulted in advertisers assuming that they must put the bulk of their ad dollars into those two platforms on the assumption that the money is better spent there. Indeed, the most recent IAB report on this noted that while the internet ad market continues to rise, 90% of the growth went to Facebook and Google (together the two companies represent about 58% of the total market share for online ads, but 90% of the growth in 2017).

      Advertisers have been completely sucked into the belief that if you want to get results for your ads, you simply have to throw money at those two giants, and they’ll mix some magic pixie dust with all the data they’ve collected, and voila: perfectly targeted advertising. Everyone get so focused on magic words like “big data” and “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning” that they rarely ask the larger question: does any of it actually matter?

    • LAPD Watchdog Says Department’s Data-Based Policing Is Producing Nothing But Wasted Time And Rights Violations

      The Los Angeles Police Department has just received some bad news from its oversight. It’s probably good news for the policed — many of whom are being disproportionately targeted thanks to biased input data — but the LAPD can’t be pleased that its reliance on expensive, mostly-automated tools hasn’t produced worthwhile results.

      The department relies on a handful of tech tools to aid in its policing, but it doesn’t appear to be helping. It has CompStat — a holdover from the early 2000′s when Bill Bratton still ran the department. To that framework, it has added LASER — a nifty acronym that stands for “Los Angeles’ Strategic Extraction and Restoration.” The program with the reverse engineered nickname actually relies on input from human analysts to determine where officers should be deployed. But this reliance on data-driven policing isn’t making the city any safer, despite LASER’s focus on violent crime.

    • FTC Launches Probe Into Telecom Privacy Issues. But Whether They’ll Act Is Another Matter Entirely

      The problem, of course, is that an inquiry doesn’t necessarily mean the agency will actually do anything about the problems. The FTC’s authority over telecom is limited, and is historically confined to whether something can clearly be proven to be “unfair and deceptive” under the FTC Act. That was the entire reason that telecom lobbyists convinced the Trump administration to effectively obliterate tailored FCC authority over telecom, and shovel it to an FTC that critics (like former FCC boss Tom Wheeler) say is already over-extended and lacks the authority to adequately police broadband.

      When it comes to telecom, the FTC’s “unfair and deceptive” standard usually falls short.

      In the field of net neutrality, for example, telecom operators have long hidden their unfair, anti-competitive behavior behind claims that it was essential for the “health and integrity of the network.” Like when AT&T blocked Facetime on iPhones just because it wanted to force folks on to more expensive wireless plans. Or when Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon began implementing arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps and overage fees to “manage congestion” they were later forced to admit didn’t exist. Restrictions that don’t apply to their own services, but apply to customers if they use competing services like Netflix.

      Unlike Facebook, telecom has spent decades lobbying DC and tailoring its most deceptive and anti-competitive ideas to carefully skirt the line on regulatory scrutiny. And the FTC, tightly constrained by its mandate over telecom, hasn’t done a particularly good job policing it. Hopefully this inquiry signals a shift in that tendency, but an inquiry shouldn’t be conflated with substantive action — until there’s actual, substantive action. That said, there’s so much we don’t know about what your ISP and wireless carrier is doing with your data that shining a brighter spotlight on the problem should prove beneficial.

    • Google ScreenWise: Consenting to Surveillance Capitalism

      Google has further blurred the lines of corporate invasion of privacy with the introduction of Google Opinion Rewards, a survey app for Android and iOS users that allows them to earn “rewards.” In exchange, Google gets access to the phone screens and web browser windows of those who use the app. Rather than fool regular users to accept secretive corporate “research” behind lengthy terms and conditions and hidden app permissions, Google disguises the overseeing function of Opinion Rewards as “metering”—a “funny word for surveillance,” Sydney Li and Jason Kelly of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report.

      Nearly 800,000 Android users to date have downloaded the program with hopes to earn anywhere from $0.10 to $1.00 per survey, or an estimated $100 a year. Dozens of third-party blog posts and YouTube videos targeted at Opinion Rewards users share the best ways to earn quick money in large sums from the program. The questionable ethics behind Opinion Rewards, however, does not lie in the legitimacy of its pay, as users are “rewarded” through the trusted online payment company PayPal, but more so in the exchange Google offers.

    • Don’t Buy California’s Callous Attempt to Ignore People’s DNA Privacy Rights, EFF Tells Court

      Analyzing and indefinitely keeping the DNA profiles of thousands of Californians arrested for felonies, but never charged with a crime, is not just an ominously overbroad practice by law enforcement—it’s an invasion of privacy that violates the state’s constitution. Last year EFF and our co-counsel Michael Risher filed a lawsuit against California challenging its DNA retention and search practices on behalf of the Center for Genetics and Society, the Equal Justice Society, and an individual plaintiff, writer and editor Pete Shanks.

      Attorneys for the state responded to the case by telling a judge there’s no basis for it, no law is being broken, and it should be dismissed. This is simply wrong. We asked the judge this week to reject the state’s callous indifference to the privacy rights of Californians and its attempt to sweep its conduct under the rug.

      DNA can reveal a vast array of highly private information, including family relationships, ethnicity, physical characteristics, illnesses, and genetic traits. People have a right to expect that this information will remain private and out of the hands of law enforcement. Yet, a person arrested for a felony in California must submit to the collection of their DNA, which is then sent to a state lab for analysis and generation of the individual’s genetic profile for indefinite storage and comparison—whether they were released without charge, or the charges were dismissed.

      Once the profile is created, the state puts it into a California DNA database and automatically shares it with law enforcement agencies all over the country through an FBI-managed DNA database. It stays in the national database indefinitely and is regularly accessed and searched by thousands of other agencies.

      More than one-third of all those arrested in California in 2017 were released and never charged, had their charges dismissed, or were acquitted. But their DNA profile is likely still in the national law enforcement database being accessed by police all over the country. And most probably don’t even know it. Police are not required to tell arrestees that their DNA is being shared nationally, nor are they required to disclose to arrestees that if they are never charged or are acquitted, they can request that their DNA profile be expunged.

    • Facebook Again Acting Like A Spoiled Teenager About Data And Privacy

      At 15, Facebook is mature by Silicon Valley standards, but it remains the rebellious teenager of tech. I’m not talking about the company’s employee demographics, but about its behavior in data and privacy. A serial violator of every parental rule and social norm – breaking into others’ lockers, launching smear campaigns against Principal Soros, smoking joints with the juvies from Cambridge – Facebook responds to exposure of its transgressions by playing the misunderstood victim.

      The latest and perhaps best case in point followed the ruling by Germany’s anti-trust regulator (the Bundeskartellamt/Federal Cartel Office, or FCO) that Facebook may no longer combine the data from the social platform with other Facebook properties (e.g., WhatsApp), or non-Facebook third party sites, without obtaining users’ consent.

    • Hey, Google and Alexa: Parents worry voice assistants can listen in on kids, survey finds

      Amazon confirmed the incident at the time, and no, it wasn’t a malicious hack. Alexa triggered the action after hearing an unforeseen combination of random words in a conversation the family didn’t realize was being overheard.

      It’s important to recognize that while Alexa may be listening for its wake word, it is not constantly recording. But when Amazon’s assistant does wake up, that’s when what it hears is sent to the company’s cloud servers, where your words are recorded and translated into commands. Alexa also keeps a record of all the commands you’ve given it so that it can better learn how to answer you.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Chicago Police Are Notorious Liars, So Why Trust Them on Smollett?

      Prosecutors have dropped the charges against Jussie Smollett — a Black gay man and a star of the Fox series “Empire” — but that hasn’t changed the extrajudicial verdict already reached by mainstream media, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the mayor of Chicago.

      Meanwhile, President Trump has now taken the irregular step of declaring that the FBI and the Justice Department will review Smollett’s case, despite local prosecutors’ decision to drop the charges against him.

      The fact that Smollett, who was accused by the CPD of having organized and paid for an assault and battery against himself, continues to maintain his innocence is being swept aside. Few seem to care that his guilt has not been proven as is required by law. He is guilty! Case closed! Chicago’s police and mayor continue to deny Smollett the presumption of innocence.

      Seeing that the CPD and the international mainstream media declared Smollett guilty before he could have a day in court, the dropping of charges against him has done little to change their verdict. Meanwhile, the lead prosecutor is continuing to stoke efforts to try Smollett in the court of public opinion rather than the court of law by telling media that he still thinks Smollett is guilty, even though he decided to drop the charges against him.

    • The Invisible Protection of Whiteness

      That is how my longtime ministerial colleague and contemporary Rev. Ted Lockhart describes growing up poor in the Jim Crow South in his book, But for These. His survival as a youth in Florida depended on “how to live and cope in a social environment that assaulted your humanity and human dignity and worth as a person.” (Ibid) A comparison of Rev. Lockhart’s Jim Crow-conditioned upbringing with my white-conditioned nurturing in Pennsylvania provides an introduction to the invisible protection of whiteness.

      My big family of ten members was poor, but in our small city of Williamsport, Pa. we still enjoyed the invisible means of access to opportunity in America: our whiteness. The white-controlled hierarchy of access to political, economic and legal power, in which we were immersed, had so conditioned us that we unconsciously took our white privilege for granted. Our school teachers were white, as were our clergy, and our political and civic leaders, and the police, and all the merchants as well. While there were no signs that said, “Whites Only,” few, if any, Negroes were seen at our favorite swimming holes, movie theatres, dance halls, baseball diamonds, and drug store and street corner hangouts. There was no longer any need for segregation laws to control the Negroes’ interactions with us white persons. Everyone was conditioned by the Negroes’ assumed historic subservience and comforted by their comparably small number and lack of visibility. Most of them lived near the railroad tracks, and “stayed in their place” – except in our public schools where there was structured intermingling. There was no need of laws to enforce their being second class citizens.

      While we were poor, my family was not forced to live near any railroad tracks. During my grade school years in the 1930s, when we did have to move, my father expressed concern that we not live near “Swamp Poodle,” another area in my home town where Negroes lived. Our moving involved renting another double house, just three blocks from where we had lived – and only a few blocks from where a Negro family lived: the Gibsons. Layton Gibson, the oldest son, was big and loud and scary. His brother, Lionel, who was my age, was gentle and friendly. I wanted to bring Lionel home after school to play, but that wasn’t done in my neighborhood. And there was Julia, Layton and Lionel’s sister, a year younger than me. I hated it when my friends would tease me, shouting, “Billy loves Julia! Billy loves Julia!” How dare they say that about a person whom I believed was ugly and inferior. My “white brain-washed “ superiority prevented me from realizing that Julia may have felt the same way about me.

    • Housing Department Slaps Facebook With Discrimination Charge

      HUD says Facebook does so by “encouraging, enabling and causing housing discrimination” when it allows companies that use their platform to improperly shield who can see certain housing ads.

      In the charging document, HUD accuses Facebook of unlawfully discriminating against people based on race, religion, familial status, disability and other characteristics that closely align with the 1968 Fair House Act’s protected classes.

    • 20 years for man behind hoax call that led to fatal shooting [iophk: "just so it's clear, police now follow random orders to kill from random anonymous callers, and are absolved from responsibility when doing so"]

      A California man was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison for making bogus emergency calls to authorities across the U.S., including one that led police to fatally shoot a Kansas man following a dispute between two online players over a $1.50 bet in the Call of Duty: WWII video game.

    • Man gets 20 years for deadly “swatting” hoax [iophk: "while the actual killers walk free"]

      Prosecutors decided not to charge the police officer who shot Finch.

    • Donald Trump Openly Mocks Asylum Seekers Fleeing Violence

      During a rambling and lie-filled rally Thursday night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, President Donald Trump mocked asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries, suggesting they are not actually afraid for their lives.

      “You have people coming up. You know they’re all met by the lawyers,” Trump said. “And they come out, they’re all met by the lawyers, and they say, ‘Say the following phrase: I am very afraid for my life. I am afraid for my life.’”

      “And then I look at the guy. He looks like he just got out of the ring. He’s the heavyweight champion of the world,” the president said to laughter from the crowd. “He’s afraid for his life. It’s a big fat con job, folks.”

      Trump’s remarks came amid outrage over migrant treatment in El Paso, Texas, where hundreds of people—including many women and young children—are being detained in what some described as “concentration camps.”

    • Dutch Crime Boss Exposed and Indicted by Sister

      Astrid Holleeder was Wim Holleeder’s attorney, confidant, and most importantly his brother. A family from the Netherlands, the Holleeder’s lived a life of pain and suffering in their upbringing, and as a young adult Wim Holleeder became a major leader in organized crime. As the New Yorker reported, Astrid Holleeder exposed her brother’s misconduct, leading to a trial that could end with him sentenced to life in prison. According to Patrick Radden Keefe report, Wim Holleeder not only terrorized the streets of Amsterdam, he also targeted members of his own family, including Astrid, whose life he allegedly threatened more than once. Astrid and her family now live in hiding, having little to no contact with the outside world.

    • A Mentally Ill Man in Solitary Cut Off a Body Part at the Broward County Jail

      Broward County Jail has a sordid history of damage and death due to its dangerously substandard mental health system and unsafe conditions.

      Around midnight on Sept. 5, 2018, guards responded to prisoners banging on their cell doors inside a lockdown unit at Broward County Jail’s main facility in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. They went to the solitary cell of J.I.* and made a gruesome discovery.

      “I have a real medical emergency,” J.I. told an officer. “I just cut my penis off and flushed it down the toilet. I have no need for it anymore.” J.I. had used a razor blade to cut himself. This grisly act of self-mutilation is just the latest chapter in a series of tragic incidents involving seriously mentally ill prisoners at the jail.

      J.I. has a documented history of mental health treatment dating back to 2007. He was booked into the jail in late October 2017. Two months later, he was placed on suicide watch after he told staff he suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and wanted to harm himself. J.I. was prescribed various mental health medications during his jail stay, which he repeatedly refused in the months leading up to his self-mutilation. These included antipsychotics and an antidepressant that could have helped to prevent J.I.’s condition from worsening.

    • ‘Shame!’: DHS Asks for Power to Deport Unaccompanied Children

      The Donald Trump administration is looking at ways to codify deportation of unaccompanied minors, a move that was decried by progressives, liberals, and even some on the right.

      Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in a letter to Congress, asked for authority to begin deportation of children who arrive at the border without accompanying parents or family members. That creates what Nielsen referred to as a “pull factor” for migrants.

      “Hundreds of Central American children come into our custody each day, await transfer to (Health and Human Services) care, and, ultimately are placed with a sponsor in the United States,” Nielsen said, framing the humane treatment of children as a negative.

      The request—which also asks for the authority to keep families seeking asylum in detention while they await their cases being heard and for the authority to allow requests for asylum to be done in their home countries rather than at the border—is likely a non-starter. The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is not inclined to vote in favor of helping DHS, or the Trump administration more broadly, with immigration.

    • Three Generations of Women in China

      Kan works and lives in Beijing, where she is an editor for China Dialogue. The act of writing a memoir is still an act of subversion in mainland China, where the collectivist spirit reigns, heightened by paranoia and fear. We can hear Kan’s wariness as she assures us how much she loves China and her people, adding, “It is easier to blame China than to understand it; it is easier to judge Chinese people than to get to know them.” But her patriotic fanfare feels forced, and the stories she tells contradict her cheeriness. Her family, a poor one from the rural provinces, is littered with broken people barely able to endure the travesties that have been inflicted upon them.

      Kan writes movingly about her troubled relationship with her father, a sad and haunted figure. She describes him as a broken man who rarely spoke at all except when he was intoxicated; then, bitter words flowed from him, unimpeded by his usual timidity. She remembers the last two lines of a poem he once wrote while drunk: “Don’t have the courage to look back twenty years/ In my dreams the scent of books cut me dead.” Kan’s father had been an exceptionally gifted child whose dreams were shattered by the Cultural Revolution. Kan had always been bothered by her father’s disinterest in her school life or her friends, and it is only when she learns about his own tortured history that we see her suppressed anger dissipate into tenderness.

    • Ingush police battalion disbanded after its members refuse to disperse protestors

      A police battalion in the Russian federal subject of Ingushetia was disbanded after its members collectively refused to force protestors to disband during a protest in the republic’s capital of Magas on March 26. Kaloy Akhilgov, the former press secretary to Ingushetia’s head of government, told reporters about the dismissal, saying 19 police officers were fired in total.

    • The Renewed Fortunes of For-Profit Prison Companies

      From its beginnings on the grounds of a leased hotel in Houston in 1983 to its current status as the nation’s second-largest operator of private prisons, Shane Bauer tracks the history of CoreCivic, linking the “renewed fortunes” of the for-profit prison industry under the Trump administration with the “brutal history” of America’s prison system. CoreCivic owns and manages private prisons and detention centers worth an estimated $1.8 billion in 2017. The company, Bauer reports, “helped build the immigration detention system that President Donald Trump now plans to expand.” Bauer’s article—excerpted from his book, American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey Into the Business of Punishment—was published in the September/October 2018 issue of Mother Jones.

      Even though CCA rebranded itself as CoreCivic, a “diversified government solutions company,” in 2016, Bauer reports that “detaining immigrants remains an essential part of its business model” and contracts with ICE account for 25 percent of CoreCivic’s revenues, based on “massive” deals like the 2014 no-bid contract that the federal government awarded CoreCivic to run a family detention center in Dilley, Texas. In June 2018, the company’s CEO, Damon Hininger, boasted to investors of the “most robust kind of sales environment” CoreCivic has seen in ten years.

      One reason that private prisons like the ones CoreCivic owns and runs are so profitably is that they exploit a loophole in the 13th Amendment which prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States “except as punishment for a crime.” As has been widely documented, private prison companies today continue to profit from what amounts to inmates’ forced labor. In one recent example, Bauer reports, a woman sued CoreCivic, alleging that she and other detainees at one of the company’s Texas centers had been forced to work for $1 or $2 per day. Refusal to work subject them to punishments including solitary confinement.

    • Police Misconduct Records Show California Police Officer Busting Sober Drivers For DUI

      Not every law enforcement agency is refusing to comply with California’s new transparency law. Effective January 1st, the law makes police misconduct and use of force records accessible to the public for the first time in the state’s history.

      The state’s attorney general isn’t happy. Neither are many of the state’s law enforcement agencies. And the state’s law enforcement unions are definitely opposed to the new transparency, not to mention the law’s apparently retroactive reach. But while the unions are busy trying to keep the law from exposing historical misconduct records, some law enforcement agencies are quietly complying with both the letter and the intent of the law.

    • A ‘Commitment to Reclaim Our Lands and Our Future’: 100+ Groups Mark ‘Day of the Landless’

      Over 100 global organizations declared Friday to be “Day of the Landless.” They marked the occasion with a statement denouncing neoliberal plunder of the planet’s natural resources and reaffirming marginalized rural communities’ claims to land and food sovereignty.

      The declaration is endorsed by over 100 international and national organizations including the Asian Peasant Coalition, Food Sovereignty in Action Europe, GRAIN, and Arab Group for the Protection of Nature, as well as the Farmworker Association of Florida and Zambia Social Forum.

    • More than 20 Russian universities choose to award bonus points in admissions to members of patriotic youth movement

      More than 20 universities in Russia have chosen to reward their applicants for participating in Yunarmia (“Youth Army”), an explicitly patriotic youth movement sponsored by the country’s Defense Ministry. According to the Ministry, about half a million young people will be involved in the movement by early May.

    • Merkley Senate Bill Would Abolish ‘Undemocratic’ Electoral College

      “The idea of democracy is simple and obvious even to young kids on a playground—whoever gets the most votes should win,” the Oregon Democrat said. “But way too often, that’s not how our system of government is working. And we see the results all around us—the privileged and powerful taking care of themselves while most people work longer hours for the same pay at best, while costs keep going up.”

      The proposal is part of the Blueprint for Democracy that Merkley introduced in January as the Democratic Party turned its attention, through its For the People Act (H.R. 1)., to confronting a political system stacked against the common good and in favor of corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

    • Fugitive Oregon Hit-and-Run Suspect Aided By Saudi Government

      Triggering a federal investigation and new legislation in Congress, fugitive Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah’s 2016 manslaughter case hit a dead end in Multnomah County, Oregon. The Saudi perpetrator disappeared just weeks before his trial after posting a $100,000 bail in 2017. The money was given to him by the Saudi consulate. United States officials believe Noorah was assisted during an escape in which his GPS monitor was removed, and he was flown out of the US by Saudi diplomats on what was most likely a private plane. A US court had confiscated Noorah’s passport. The Oregonian reported that Noorah’s hit-and-run case was one of “at least five” criminal cases involving Saudi nationals who “vanished before they faced trial or completed their jail sentence in Oregon.”

    • We’re All Lab Rats in the Government’s Secret Experiments

      The U.S. government, in its pursuit of so-called monsters, has itself become a monster.

      This is not a new development, nor is it a revelation.

      This is a government that has in recent decades unleashed untold horrors upon the world—including its own citizenry—in the name of global conquest, the acquisition of greater wealth, scientific experimentation, and technological advances, all packaged in the guise of the greater good.

      Mind you, there is no greater good when the government is involved. There is only greater greed for money and power.

      Unfortunately, the public has become so easily distracted by the political spectacle coming out of Washington, DC, that they are altogether oblivious to the grisly experiments, barbaric behavior and inhumane conditions that have become synonymous with the U.S. government.

      These horrors are being meted out against humans and animals alike.

    • The World Is Watching: Woman Suing Harvard for Photos of Enslaved Ancestors Says History Is At Stake

      Who has the right to own photos of slaves? We speak with Tamara Lanier, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Papa Renty, the enslaved man whose image was captured in a 19th century photograph currently owned by Harvard University. She is suing the school, accusing it of unfairly profiting from the images. We also speak with her attorney, Benjamin Crump.

    • 43 Years: Meet the Man Held in Solitary Confinement Longer Than Any Prisoner in U.S. History

      Albert Woodfox is a former political prisoner who was held in solitary confinement for 43 years until he won his freedom just over three years ago. Now he is traveling the world and joins us in studio to discuss his new memoir, “Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My Story of Transformation and Hope.”

      In it, he writes about his childhood and how his mother struggled to keep the family cared for, how as a teenager and young man he was in and out of jails and prisons, and how he became radicalized when he met members of the Black Panther Party and went on to establish the first chapter of the organization at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, to address horrific conditions at the former cotton plantation. Not long after this, he and fellow prisoner Herman Wallace were accused in 1972 of stabbing prison guard Brent Miller. The two men always maintained their innocence, saying they were targeted because of their political activity. Woodfox, Wallace and and a third man, Robert King, became collectively known as the Angola 3. For decades Amnesty International and other groups campaigned for their release. “Solitary confinement … is the most horrible and brutal nonphysical attack upon a human being,” Woodfox says.

    • Staring Into the Void

      Humans can’t duck fatality. A terminally ill or addicted person has to accept the fact if he hopes ever to be free the drug or to die at peace. The mortal struggle with his hard reality begins, almost without exception, in denial.

      [...]

      Just before Hill’s electoral faceplant, a Dem insider smuggled a ton of dirty top-secret oppo on Bernie to Wikileaks, so why not script and package a Trump-Putin-Assange yarn and sell it in holy outrage? Treason to America by Trump was the perfect compelling story though, awkwardly, it was false, silly, and based on bought lies and perjurers’ inventions. Mox nix: Bring it.

      This had consequences. Sowing pyroclastic, penny-dreadful bullshit daily in the MSM to hook the credulous, Dems morphed from a party lying with Obama’s suavete and decorum to one lying with vulgarity and desperation. That is to say, style change had no effect on its real character at all, but by going all in on a lie they set off a powerful petard with which they are now hoist. They have the choice of flogging their dead hobbyhorse or admitting they indeed are the noisomely discharging cloaca their lies baldly confirm.

      They and their filthy media sluts–from the demented Harpy, Maddow, to the Grey Lady who, hiking her skirt, was gleefully putting out to sell the line–are all stunned their toxic con has imploded and its bad gas evaporated. Their tactic now will be to move the goal posts, to alter the bill of attainder, to try to refocus their animus where it should have been all along: on the sick, sleazy, pimp-and-hustler “ethics” of the odious swine whose scurrilous methods and means they knowingly embraced as their own.

    • Goats, cyberbullying, and a letter to Putin: How 12-year-old Tasya Perchikova became the center of a village scandal that shocked Russia

      On March 16, Meduza published a lengthy report in Russian about young girl named Tasya Perchikova who wrote a letter to Vladimir Putin about her family’s difficult living conditions in the village of Tomsino. When the 12-year-old and her family began receiving national attention and small donations along with it, they found themselves facing harassment from their own neighbors. The Perchikovs’ fellow villagers threatened Tasya and her mother, tricked the girl into handing over a nude photo, and posted the picture in local social media groups.

    • Know Your Rights: Thugs and Monsters Are Everywhere

      In the last few days we’ve witnessed the sickening spectacle of hundreds of destitute, powerless, terrified migrants crammed into concentration camps, aka “transitional shelters,” corralled behind razor wire, and forced to sleep on the ground under a bridge in El Paso. This, while our so-called president, bloated with vengeance and hubris, chose to mock those same people for fleeing for their lives, thus confirming he is “genuinely one of the worst human beings in the history of US public life.” Because these are monsters who can always go lower, the next day his Homeland Security horror Kirstjen Nielsen proposed deporting unaccompanied kids – and detaining their families indefinitely – because “my greatest concern is for the children.” As the cruelties mount, some of the most egregious abuses are carried out by mindless, loyal accomplices with boots on the ground – the increasingly out-of-control thugs of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

      Hence, we take solace from a recent video showing immigration rights activist Bryan MacCormack, 30, shutting down an attempted arrest by said thugs with the lethal weapon of his legal rights. The head of Columbia County Sanctuary Movement in upstate New York, he was driving two undocumented immigrants back from court to deal with minor traffic citations when they were pulled over by ICE agents with a “warrant of arrest of alien.” Both MacCormack and his passengers had done “know your rights” training; they remained silent and started filming, and he quickly called out the paper being waved as an administrative warrant that doesn’t require compliance, not a judicial warrant signed by a judge, which does – thereby allowing him to issue the delectably stirring pronouncement, “I have no obligation to oblige by that warrant.” He also offered to show the agents a “real” warrant, which he had with him “just so people know not to listen to that,” and called the group’s lawyer.

    • Labor Law Doesn’t Apply If You’re in Prison

      It should have been a straightforward case: In 2015, Kendall Charles Alexander, Sr., an African-American man who was incarcerated in New Jersey, filed a lawsuit, Alexander v. Ortiz, alleging that his federal workplace supervisor violated his constitutional rights by discriminating against him on the basis of his race. Yet, in March 2018, New Jersey District Court Judge Jerome B. Simandle found Alexander to be ineligible for equal protection under the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause.

      That’s because Alexander was a worker at a textile factory run by UNICOR, the U.S. government corporation that administers an “inmate labor program” in federal prisons. While he was incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution (FCI), Fort Dix, a low-security facility just outside of Trenton, New Jersey, Alexander would learn that people like him, working for anything from 23 cents to $1.15 an hour, are not entitled to the same protections as people on the outside. On paper, Simandle dismissed the case on the basis that it conflicted with a Supreme Court precedent. But the judge’s reasoning boiled down to the argument that prisoners are not “employees,” and therefore are not entitled to key protections from discrimination and retaliation.

      Alexander—still incarcerated, now at a North Carolina facility—fixed sewing machines at the Fort Dix factory for 46 cents per hour in 2013. He writes to In These Times, “As a very skilled mechanic, my day-to-day work was satisfying.”

    • Julius Jones’s Hail Mary to Avoid a 21st-Century-Style Lynching

      Recently, by filing a petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States, Julius Jones, a black man condemned to death in Oklahoma, threw the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary pass in football: one last desperate, prayerful attempt imploring our legal system to give him a chance – before he’s executed – to present evidence that a juror on his nearly all-white jury said the trial was “a waste of time,” and “they should just take the ni**er out and shoot him behind the jail.”

      Poor, black, and behind bars fighting for his life, if the Court doesn’t grant his petition, Jones will, barring clemency, be strapped to a gurney and executed.

      That’s what’s already in store for Keith Tharpe, a black man condemned by a Georgia jury that included a racist bigot who called Tharpe a “ni**er” in a sworn affidavit and asserted that “after studying the Bible” he “wondered if black people even have souls.” Tharpe’s petition for certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court on March 18, so Georgia can and undoubtedly will set a new execution date for him soon. Coldly, the Court decided Tharpe’s 21st-century-style lynching can, notwithstanding the merits of his anti-black racism claim, go forward.

      Before the Court’s unseemly and unjust denial of cert in Tharpe’s case, I had urged for much, much more. Because “in talking and thinking about Tharpe’s case, and any death penalty case [but particularly ones like Tharpe’s and Julius Jones’s] going forward, we can and should also reflect, much more than we currently do, on the death penalty’s racist roots in America.” (As British death-penalty scholar Dr. Bharat Malkani observed in his 2018 book “Slavery and the Death Penalty: A Study in Abolition,” it’s “widely recognized that capital punishment in the United States of America continues to be imbued with the legacy of slavery.”)

    • Woodstock at 50

      When Trump was elected president and began his right-wing makeover of the federal government and installed hate and inequality as the zeitgeist of this epoch, a commentator who I can’t recall said Trump and his administration were a slap in the face to the baby boom generation. That may be partly true, but many in that generation did not have political and social views and lifestyles that reflected the ethos of Woodstock, but thankfully a critical mass of the young men and women from that era did.

      “Don’t mourn: organize!” sounds good, but the critical mass of the baby boom generation vanished long ago and what we have now is an unmitigated disaster. It’s a disaster politically, socially, economically, and above all environmentally!

      Readers may want to reflect on the fact that just over eight months after the fields of Max Yasgur’s farm in White Lake remained a muddy mess that some say took years to return to its natural state, the horror of Kent State and Jackson State happened.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC “fined” robocallers $208 million since 2015 but collected only $6,790

      Since Ajit Pai became FCC chairman in January 2017, the FCC has issued $202 million in forfeiture orders against robocallers but has collected none of it, the Journal wrote. That includes a $120 million penalty issued in May 2018 against a robocaller that was accused of making 96 million robocalls during a three-month period in order to trick people into buying vacation packages.

    • California’s Legislature Is Contemplating Abandoning Oversight Over Broadband Monopolies Just Like the FCC

      At a time when we are fighting to keep the future of broadband access from reverting back towards a monopoly, it seems implausible that a legislator would suggest their state should follow the Federal Communications Commission’s lead to abandon oversight over a highly concentrated, uncompetitive market. But Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez wants to take that exact approach.

      The recently introduced A.B. 1366 mirrors the FCC’s abandonment of consumers with one exception—California fought to establish its own net neutrality rules under S.B. 822 passed last year. Apart from that, A.B. 1366 removes any semblance of the state promoting competition for broadband access through its state regulator, the California Public Utility Commission (the state version of an FCC). Instead, it appears to just hope that our cable monopolies will be benevolent.

    • Custom error pages for Indie Web Server

      To create a custom error page for your static site, just create a folder at /404 or /500 in your web content and add, at a minimum, an index.html file in it.

      Any assets you put in those folders can be addressed using standard relative links from the index.html file.

      Your error pages will be served at the URL of the error itself and using the correct error codes (not, for example, using redirects).

    • Speakeasy: Commercial Interests

      This month, the World Wide Web turned 20, and its birthday was celebrated the world over. It was a pleasant change since the medium, once a new frontier of hope, has been regarded with suspicion ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. We had spent years outraging over the possibility that our choice of washing machines and underwear was being conditioned by smart web advertising, and, in 2018, we learned that even voter choice was open to manipulation. That marked another anniversary — the silver jubilee of feeling small, lost and sandbagged by the internet. Because before the web, the net was full of command-line cowboys and cowgirls, most of whom had just come online, and were very hopeful and a little lost.
      Twenty-five years ago, before the visual web, which is like a picturesque window onto the internet, there was the internet itself in its raw, minimalist beauty — the beauty of the blank command line. It was beautiful if you knew what to type into it, and magically, a server on another continent would respond to your UNIX command. The command line is what Indians saw when they first accessed the internet in the mid-Nineties, with ordinary phone lines and modems with lots of flashing lights. If you were hip, it was a 14.4 Kbps modem. If you weren’t, it was just 9.6 Kbps — in contemporary terms, about the speed of an incredibly slow Torrent that would take two weeks to download a pirated film. It was the era of internet evangelism in search of critical mass, led by personalities like Miheer Mafatlal (now indistinguishable from Merlin), Shammi Kapoor (then at home at father.junglee.org.in) and Vijay Mukhi. It was also the era of common folk who could not even afford an internet connection, and instead dialled into private bulletin boards to chat, download software and access email, the killer app of the internet for over a decade, until the birth of social media. People chatted and mailed a bit, and hardly ever surfed with the now-forgotten Netscape Navigator, whose genetic code lives on in Mozilla Firefox. Surfing was excruciating training in Zen patience, since download speeds of one byte per second were sometimes reported.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Dale Progress patent challenged as likely invalid

      On March 28, 2019, Unified, represented by Haynes and Boone, filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent No. 9,686,504, owned and asserted by Dale Progress Ltd., an NPE. The ‘504 patent, directed to an interface apparatus and method for connecting an external display device and a portable device, has been asserted against numerous automobile companies such as BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

    • San Diego judge: Apple, Foxconn et al. v. Qualcomm is primarily an antitrust dispute as Apple says, not just a contract case as Qualcomm claims

      More than a month ago I described, based on some key pretrial filings, the contours of the Apple-Qualcomm dispute, which will go to trial on April 15, as follows: “Apple emphasizes antitrust, FRAND, patent exhaustion — Qualcomm says contracts are contracts”

      It’s about “framing,” and it affects the structure of the trial (who gets to present what type of testimony first) as well as that of the jury instructions and verdict form. It’s obvious that Qualcomm’s attorneys would have preferred to avoid the situation in San Diego (in the Apple & contract manufacturers case) that it experienced in January in San Jose, where the FTC initially gained control over the center of the chessboard and never really relinquished it, with Qualcomm being left with little more than a last line of defense (evidence of actual anticompetitive harm). Qualcomm scored some points, but probably not enough (quantitatively and qualitatively speaking) to prevent the FTC from prevailing on at least one or two key claims (we’re all still waiting for Judge Lucy H. Koh’s ruling).

      After a hearing held on Thursday by Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, Qualcomm faces an increased risk of a San Jose-like experience in San Diego, with the only structural difference that makes the outcome harder to predict being the involvement of a jury, while the FTC trial was a bench trial (before a judge without a jury).

    • Federal Circuit: Hardening the Line on Method-of-Treatment Claims

      The district court reviewed the claims and found them invalid — holding that the claims were effectively directed to a law of nature. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has reversed and reinstated the patent’s validity. This decision here is the next in a series of decisions creating a hard rule that method-of-treatment claims are patent eligible.

    • A Diligent Delay – Claiming Priority to Invention Dates.

      In its final judgment, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) found against Arctic Cat — finding all of the challenged claims unpatentable. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has rejected the judgment — holding that the Arctic Cat patent claims should be given priority as of their invention date rather than simply the priority filing date. This is a case were the patent claims appear valid under pre-AIA law, but would be invalidated if AIA prior art rules applied.

      U.S. Patent Nos. 7,072,188 and 7,420,822, covering an electrical connection box for distributing power in a Recreational Vehicle (RV). These Arctic Cat patents claim a priority filing date of October 29, 2002. The key prior art reference (Boyd) was filed as a patent application seven months prior – April 1, 2002. Boyd was not yet prior art at the moment it was filed, but did become prior art once the application published in 2003. The point of publication is the trigger for recognizing a U.S. application as prior art — however, at that point its effective prior art date is set back to the filing date.

    • Trademarks

      • Trump Troll’s Trademark Application Rejected in UK

        In a decision today, the High Court of Justice (Chancery Div.) has upheld the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) decision siding with DTTM and finding that Trump Int’l. had filed its opposed trademark application in bad faith and also acted in bad faith during the proceedings.

        A quirk here regarding the names –– DTTM most likely stands for “Donald Trump Trademarks” and is a holding company owned by President Trump and/or his family. Trump International Limited is not related to President Trump in any way and is rather owned by Michael Gleissner an “infamous trademark troll.” To avoid confusion, I’ll use the name Gleissner rather than Trump Int’l.

    • Copyrights

      • DSM Directive Series #1: Do Member States have to transpose the value gap provision and does the YouTube referral matter?

        As reported by The IPKat, earlier this week the European Parliament adopted the latest version of the new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (DSM Directive).

        The IPKat will now run a series of posts discussing some of the key aspects of this new instrument which, following publication in the Official Journal of the EU, will need to be transposed by EU Member States within 2 years.

      • Report on Copyright and the Court of Justice of the European Union Event

        Tuesday 26th March was an eventful day for copyright in the European Union because the EU Parliament also adopted the Digital Single Market Directive (DSM Directive).

        However, the main reason why it was an important day was because our own Kat Eleonora Rosati held the official book launch for her new book, Copyright and the Court of Justice of the European Union, at the London offices of Bird & Bird LLP.

      • [Older] Dotcom denied permission to appeal

        Today’s ruling withholds permission to make an appeal to the Supreme Court. This relates to a judicial review begun by Dotcom, an entrepreneur, to challenge aspects of the process over extradition proceedings.

      • Copyright Directive – EU safeguards Free Software at the last minute [Updated]

        The original version of this press release urged the European Commission to act to avoid filtering-monopolies, but our description of our position on filters was unclear and incomplete. The FSFE is not, and has never been, in favour of developing “fundamentally flawed filtering technologies”. The FSFE has been fighting against upload filters since the beginning, e.g., as a signatory of Copyright for Creativity or Create Refresh, and joined more than 80 organisations asking the EU member states to reject the harmful Article 13 (now, Art. 17). The FSFE will support solutions to preserve users’ right to be in control of technology and ethical standards for service operators.

      • EU Copyright Directive Approved – Without Amendments

        Having followed the progress of this legislation over many months we have repeatedly pointed out that two of its clauses – Article 11, the link tax, and Article 13 (renamed Article 17 in the final legislation and a possible cause of confusion) which will almost inevitably lead to upload filters, is likely to have devastating consequences, see Final EU Copyright Directive Spells Disaster if you want the details.

        #SaveYourInternet had waged an effective campaign against Article 13, including a petition which attracted over 5 million signatures and demonstrations in Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria and Poland where up to 200,000 people took to the streets in protest.

      • Swedish government may have to vote against copyright bill in EU Council: Riksdag Committee on EU Affairs will decide

        The triply illegitimate European Parliament vote in favor of a copyright bill requiring upload filters (as the French government, its #1 proponent, has since stated clearly and German EU commissioner Günther Oettinger considers “not entirely avoidable”)=should be repeated as Czech conservative MEP Tomáš Zdechovský formally proposes. But in any event, it’s not yet a “settled matter” as Mr. Oettinger, who initially came up with the ill-conceived proposal that led to this mess, just claimed in an interview in which he threatened sanctions against countries that might “water down” the text through the national implementation process. The EU Council still has to formally adopt the bill, and since it’s clearly irreconcilable with the German government coalition agreement, let’s see what happens.

      • FFII call on national parliaments to reverse soviet-style internet upload filters

        FFII is calling on angry protesters against internet upload filters to reverse the position of their country by calling for a vote in their national parliament. Council of the Ministers is an undemocratic institution where decisions on this particular subject are made by officials of the Member States’s ministries of culture. FFII call on national parliaments to ‘take back control’.

        The adoption of internet upload filters is a strategic mistake that will fuel the eurosceptics game at the coming elections. Boris Johnson’s reaction to european parliament vote yesterday left no doubt about it. Internet upload filters are a slippery slope. Another directive will extend automatic filtering to ‘terrorist’ content, ‘fake news’, and finally, political speech. Where does it end?

        The Council of Ministers is expected to formally adopt the directive as an A-item at the next meeting on Tuesday 9th of April.

        Benjamin Henrion, President of FFII, says: “It’s time for real European Democracy. You have next week to change the outcome. Call your national parliament now, and ask for a vote on internet upload filters!”

        He remembers 15 years ago: “Poland saved SMEs from the harmful software patent directive, any country can do it again. Merkel and Macron sold SMEs for a Russian gas pipeline, it’s time to fix the European democratic deficit and replace diplomats by a network of national parliaments. Ministers of Culture should not be allowed to dictate the position of a country. The CETA debate was the same undemocratic mess, it was barely discussed in 3 national parliaments out of 28, and a few unelected ministers decided on the positions of their countries.”

      • No interim injunction for copyright infringement => not a Happy Camper

        A short ex tempore judgment by His Honour Judge Keyser QC (sitting as a High Court Judge) in Happy Camper Productions Ltd v British Broadcasting Corporation [2019] EWHC 558 (Ch), published today, provides a succint reminder of the uphill struggle facing any claimant wishing to persuade the English court to grant an interim injunction to restrain alleged copyright infringement.

        The basic facts of the claim will sound familiar to many: independent writer develops spec script (in this case dealing with life and death at a caravan site); writer meets producer; producer turns down script; producer later produces a television comedy drama (called Pitching In) with similar elements.

        [...]

        Readers are unlikely to be surprised that an interim injunction was not granted, but the court provided a relatively detailed judgment…

      • U.S. Wants ‘Copyright Troll’ Lawyer in Prison for 12.5 Years

        The U.S. is recommending a 12.5 year prison sentence for Paul Hansmeier, one of the lead attorneys of the controversial law firm Prenda. The Pirate Bay played a crucial role in the case, since it’s where Prenda uploaded porn movies to extract settlements from alleged pirates. Hansmeier admitted his wrongdoing but is requesting a more lenient prison sentence of little over 7 years.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 20/5/2019: Linux 5.2 RC1, LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha, DXVK 1.2.1, Bison 3.4 Released

    Links for the day



  2. South Korea's Government Will Show If Microsoft Loves Linux or Just Attacks It Very Viciously Like It Did in Munich

    Microsoft's hatred of all things GNU/Linux is always put to the test when someone 'dares' use it outside Microsoft's control and cash cows (e.g. Azure and Vista 10/WSL); will Microsoft combat its longstanding urge to corrupt or oust officials with the courage to say "no" to Microsoft?



  3. Links 19/5/2019: KDE Applications 19.04.1 in FlatHub and GNU/Linux Adoption

    Links for the day



  4. The War on Patent Quality

    A look at the EPO's reluctance to admit errors and resistance to the EPC, which is its very founding document



  5. Watchtroll, Composed by Patent Trolls, Calls the American Patent System “Corrupt”

    Another very fine piece from Watchtroll comes from very fine patent trolls who cheer for Donald Trump as if he's the one who tackles corruption rather than spreading it



  6. Unified Patent Court Won't Happen Just Because the Litigation Microcosm Wants It

    Unified Patent Court (UPC) hopefuls are quote-mining and cherry-picking to manufacture the false impression that the UPC is just around the corner when in reality the UPC is pretty much dead (but not buried yet)



  7. Links 17/5/2019: South Korea's GNU/Linux Pivot, Linux 5.1.3

    Links for the day



  8. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 4: Happy Birthday to the Kötter Group?

    This year the Kötter Group commemorates the 85th anniversary of its existence. But is it really a cause for celebration or would a less self-congratulatory approach be more fitting? And does it create the risk that a routine tendering exercise at the EPO will turn into Operation Charlie Foxtrot?



  9. Links 16/5/2019: Cockpit 194, VMware Acquires Bitnami, Another Wine Announcement and Krita 4.2.0 Beta

    Links for the day



  10. The EPO's Key Function -- Like the UPC's Vision -- Has Virtually Collapsed

    The EPO no longer issues good patents and staff is extremely unhappy; but the Office tries to create an alternate (false) reality and issues intentionally misleading statements



  11. Stanford's NPE Litigation Database Makes a Nice Addition in the Fight Against Software Patent Trolls

    As the United States of America becomes less trolls- and software patents-friendly (often conflated with plaintiff (un)friendliness) it's important to have accurate data which documents the numbers and motivates better policy; The NPE (troll) Litigation Database is a move towards that and it's free to access/use



  12. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 3: “Ein kritikwürdiges Unternehmen”

    A brief account of some further controversies in which the Kötter Group has been involved and its strained relations with German trade unions such as Verdi



  13. EPO Had a Leakage Problem and Privacy of Stakeholders Was Compromised, Affecting at Least 100 Cases

    The confidentiality principle was compromised at the EPO and stakeholders weren't told about it (there was a coverup)



  14. Links 15/5/2019: More Linux Patches and More Known Intel Bugs

    Links for the day



  15. False Hope for Patent Maximalists and Litigation Zealots

    Patent litigation predators in the United States, along with Team UPC in Europe, are trying to manufacture optimistic predictions; a quick and rather shallow critical analysis reveals their lies and distortions



  16. The Race to the Bottom of Patent Quality at the EPO

    The EPO has become more like a rubber-stamper than a patent office — a fact that worries senior staff who witnessed this gradual and troublesome transition (from quality to raw quantity)



  17. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 2: Meet the Kötters

    An introduction to the Kötter Group, the private security conglomerate which is lined up for the award of a juicy EUR 30 million contract for the provision of security services at the EPO



  18. Links 14/5/2019: Red Hat Satellite 6.5, NVIDIA 430.14 Linux Driver and New Security Bug (MDS)

    Links for the day



  19. Links 14/5/2019: GNU/Linux in Kerala, DXVK 1.2, KDE Frameworks 5.58.0 Released

    Links for the day



  20. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 1: Urgent Shitstorm Alert

    Experts at the European Patent Office's (EPO) weather observation station have just issued an urgent alert warning about a major shitstorm looming on the horizon



  21. Patents That Were Gleefully Granted by the EPO Continue to Perish in Courts

    The decreasing quality of granted European Patents already becomes a growing problem if not a crisis of uncertainty



  22. Links 13/5/2019: ExTiX 19.5 and GNU Radio Conference 2019

    Links for the day



  23. The Microsoft Guide to the Open Source Galaxy

    Thou shalt not...



  24. Microsoft Would Kill the Goose for Money

    Microsoft is just 'monetising' Open Source by using it as 'bait' for Microsoft's proprietary software; those who we might expect to antagonise this have effectively been bribed by Microsoft



  25. Links 13/5/2019: Nanonote 1.2.0, OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 RC, and GNUnet 0.11.4

    Links for the day



  26. Professionally Incompetent EPO Management

    The EPO remains an awful employer, with top-level management largely responsible for the loss of talent and even money



  27. Links 12/5/2019: Linux 5.1.1, GDB 8.3, KStars 3.2.2 Released

    Links for the day



  28. Did Battistelli 'Steal' ~$100,000,000 Euros From the EPO?

    While enjoying diplomatic immunity the thug from CEIPI (who is back at the EPO as a jurist) passed millions if not billions (over the long run) in liabilities; this was done with total and inexcusable impunity, no effective oversight



  29. The Biased EPO Does Not Want to Hear From Anyone Except Those Who Pay the EPO

    The EPO's corruption and violations of the law are a threat to everyone in the world; the EPO only ever listens to those who pay for "access" or those who embrace the "religion" of the EPO



  30. Team UPC Has Run Out of Arguments, So Now It's Just Writing Anti-Brexit Rants With Testicles in the Headlines

    Nothing has worked for firms that crafted and lobbied hard for the Unified Patent Court (UPC); after necrophilia a new low is being reached


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts