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

04.02.19

Links 2/4/2019: Fedora 30 Beta, Django 2.2 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Free Penguin Party Stickers!

    Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the address below to receive free Penguin Party 3″x4″ stickers!

  • Linux Journal at 25

    Most magazines have the life expectancy of a house plant.

    Such was the betting line for Linux Journal when it started in April 1994. Our budget was a shoestring. The closest our owner, SSC (Specialized System Consultants) came to the magazine business was with the reference cards it published for UNIX, C, VI, Java, Bash and so on.

    And Linux wasn’t even our original focus. Phil Hughes, who ran SSC, wanted to start a free (as in speech, not beer) software magazine, which was hardly a big box office idea. I was a member of the email group doing the planning for that, which started, as I recall, in late 1993. Then, in early 1994, Phil announced to the group that he had made up his mind after finding “this Finnish kid” who had written a UNIX of sorts called Linux.

    It was clear to Phil, and to approximately nobody else, that Linux was going to kick the ass of every UNIX in the world, plus all other operating systems as well, including the big one headquartered a few miles away from SSC’s office in Seattle.

  • Linux Journal at 25
  • This IPO market is nothing like late 1990s craziness

    An unprofitable software company named VA Linux still holds the record for the largest one-day gain for an IPO. Shares skyrocketed nearly 700% on its debut day in December 1999.

    That valued the company at $1.6 billion even though VA Linux had annual sales of only $17.8 million.

  • Desktop

    • Make the switch to a Linux operating system

      Why settle for bugs, planned obsolescence and less personalized support when you can get a much better operating system with Linux?

    • Chrome OS is Getting Fragmented (and This Time It’s Google’s Fault) [Ed: Stop using this word "fragmentation" (or "fragmented") when referring to choice, diversity etc. This is Microsoft propaganda amplified. They want monopoly over a back-doored OS.]

      Android “fragmentation” has long been a talking point about the OS. As I’ve said before, however, manufacturers are to blame for that. But now I fear that Chrome OS is going down the same path—and this time it’s Google’s fault.

  • Server

    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for Arm 15 on AWS

      SUSE is excited to launch SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for Arm on AWS, backed by a Trial Subscription Program and also available via AWS Spot Instances to get started on your next innovation. Today’s innovators are testing new architecture designs to build products in increasingly more efficient, cost-effective, scalable, and secure ways. The Arm architecture is critical in this diverse ecosystem and its’ adoption by Amazon Web Services in November 2018 was a huge milestone for the market. While Arm is prevalent in the mobile market and the chip most likely powering the device in your pocket – the technology is also critical in powering IoT devices and applications in the machine learning space.

    • What Is Kubernetes?

      Kubernetes (pronounced “CUBE-A-NET-IS”) is an open-source platform that helps manage container applications such as Docker. Whether you are looking to automate or scale these containers across multiple hosts, Kubernetes can speed up deployment. To do this it may use internal components such as Kubernetes API or third-party extensions which run on Kubernetes.

      This article will help you understand the basic concepts of Kubernetes and why it is causing such a seismic shift in the server market, with vendors as well as cloud providers, such as Azure and Google Cloud, offering Kubernetes services.

    • Kubernetes v1.14 delivers production-level support for Windows nodes and Windows containers [Ed: When Kubernetes is steered by GPL violators and proprietary software thugs from VMware and Microsoft]

      The first release of Kubernetes in 2019 brings a highly anticipated feature – production-level support for Windows workloads. Up until now Windows node support in Kubernetes has been in beta, allowing many users to experiment and see the value of Kubernetes for Windows containers. While in beta, developers in the Kubernetes community and Windows Server team worked together to improve the container runtime, build a continuous testing process, and complete features needed for a good user experience. Kubernetes now officially supports adding Windows nodes as worker nodes and scheduling Windows containers, enabling a vast ecosystem of Windows applications to leverage the power of our platform.

    • Pivotal adds features from service-mesh tech Istio and Envoy into new version of Cloud Foundry

      When companies tap into the benefits of cloud computing, a lot of complexity comes along for the ride. Pivotal’s latest version of Cloud Foundry hopes to reduce some of that complexity by borrowing some technology from two key open-source projects built to handle the rise of microservices.

      Cloud Foundry 2.5 will become generally available on Tuesday, and it comes with several new features that will make it easier to upgrade software development platforms and use Pivotal’s flagship product with Microsoft Windows Server. One of the most interesting features is the introduction of a “routing tier” based around components from Envoy and Istio, two of the more buzzed-about open-source projects of the last year or so.

    • Pixeom raises $15M for its software-defined edge computing platform

      Pixeom, a startup that offers a software-defined edge computing platform to enterprises, today announced that it has raised a $15M funding round from Intel Capital, National Grid Partners and previous investor Samsung Catalyst Fund. The company plans to use the new funding to expands its go-to-market capacity and invest in product development.

      [...]

      At the time of its launch, Pixeom also based its technology on OpenStack, the massive open source project that helps enterprises manage their own data centers, which isn’t exactly known as a service that can easily be run on a single machine, let alone a low-powered one. Today, Pixeom uses containers to ship and manage its software on the edge.

    • SUSE Cloud Application Platform v1.4 released

      Cloud Application Platform has always worked well on GKE. Some of our first public demonstrations of our software were done on Google’s Kubernetes service two years ago at SUSECON in Prague. Over the past year, we’ve seen growing interest from customers wanting to run our software on Google Cloud, so we’re adding GKE to our list of officially supported Kubernetes platforms along with SUSE CaaS Platform, Azure AKS, and Amazon EKS.

    • A Cool Twist on Linux Certification from Cumulus Networks [iophk:"maybe too much of an advertisement but the intro is good"]

      I believe that the Cumulus Certified Open Networking Professional (CCONP) makes a great addition to any cloud- and/or datacenter-oriented IT pro’s training and certification portfolio. Why do I say this? Because “an increasing number of cloud providers and datacenter operators are getting onboard with Linux-based solutions for networking as well as for more traditional server roles.

    • ONF, TIP to collaborate on open optical transport

      ONF and the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) have agreed to work together to foster open optical transport technology and processes. The two groups say ONF’s Open Disaggregated Transport Network (ODTN) project and TIP’s Open Optical & Packet Transport (OOPT) group are naturally synergistic, having started with similar goals but then pursuing different, albeit complementary paths, and have already conducted joint demonstrations.
      The ONF’s ODTN project has taken a software-centric approach to the promotion of open, disaggregated optical transport networks. The ODTN effort launched last May with the goal to create an open source software stack that will support the disaggregation of optical transponders and open optical line systems (OLSs). The effort became part of the ONF reference design initiative, part of the group’s overall Strategic Plan (see “ONF puts new strategic plan pieces in place”).

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel 5.1-rc3 Is Out, Gmail Turns 15, UbuntuMATE 18.04 Beta 1 for Raspberry Pi Is Now Available, Sabayon 19.03 Released and Debian Receives Handshake Donation

      Linux kernel 5.1-rc3 was released yesterday. Linus Tovalds writes, “The rc3 release is bigger than normal, which is obviously never anything I want to see, but at the same time it’s early enough in the rc series that it’s not something I really worry about. Yet. And while it’s bigger, nothing really unusual stands out. The single biggest patch in there (by far – it’s in fact about a third of the whole rc3 patch) is just removal of the mt7621-eth staging driver, which is because the regular mediatek ethernet driver now handles that hardware.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Running Android next to Wayland

        It’s now possible to run Android applications in the same graphical environment as regular Wayland Linux applications with full 3D acceleration.

        Running Android has some advantages compared to native Linux applications, for example with regard to the availability of applications and application developers.

        For current non-Android systems, this work enables a path forward to running Android applications in the same graphical environment as traditional non-Android applications are run.

      • RadeonSI Gallium3D In Mesa 19.1 Enables Parallel Shader Compile Support

        Marek Olšák of AMD kicked off the new month by finally landing support for the ARB/KHR extensions around parallel shader compile support.

        Back in February he posted the RadeonSI patches for implementing KHR_parallel_shader_compile and ARB_parallel_shader_compile extensions including the necessary work to core Mesa and Gallium3D. It’s that work that has now been merged to Mesa Git.

      • Wine Lands Initial Vulkan Adapter Support For Direct3D

        As the first step towards the plans to have a Vulkan back-end to WineD3D itself for Wine mapping older versions of Direct3D to Vulkan, an initial Vulkan adapter implementation was merged today.

        CodeWeavers is pursuing a Vulkan back-end for WineD3D akin to DXVK but one that could work with older versions of Direct3D and also continuing to maintain the mature Direct3D-to-OpenGL back-end that has been the default implementation. Pursuing this modern Vulkan back-end for WineD3D could yield better performance and also potentially work on macOS in the future via MoltenVK.

      • Blend2D Reaches Beta As High Performance 2D Vector Graphics Engine

        Blend2D is a cross-platform C++ vector graphics library aiming to compete with the likes of Cairo.

        Blend2D allows for the drawing of 2D vector graphics in a high performance manner using a built-in JIT compiler to generate optimized pipelines at run-time. In many operations Blend2D can outperform Cairo and other 2D engines like what is offered by Qt5. The project has this performance page going over some of the advantages.

      • Intel’s Mesa Driver Now Supports Icelake Performance Counters

        The latest bit of Icelake “Gen 11″ graphics enablement for the open-source Intel Linux graphics driver is supporting the performance counters/queries for exposing them through the OpenGL driver for the debugging/analyzing of performance bottlenecks.

        The Icelake perf metrics were added for being able to expose the clocks, number of active execution units, cache misses, pipe activity, vertex/compute shader hardware threads dispatched, stalls, L3 throughput, and a variety of other counters.

      • Intel Comet Lake Support Merged For Mesa 19.1

        With Intel Comet Lake support queued for Linux 5.2, Intel’s open-source developers have queued the support into their Mesa code for their OpenGL/Vulkan user-space drivers.

        In March is when Intel began posting Comet Lake Linux support patches and now the kernel bits are in DRM-Next for Linux 5.2 while the user-space code is in Mesa 19.1 for the OpenGL/Vulkan drivers. Comet Lake is the latest Gen9-based revision succeeding Coffeelake/Kabylake.

        Given it’s yet another take on Gen9, the Mesa support comes down to adding the new PCI IDs for the GT1 and GT2 parts and that is basically it.

      • Panfrost Gallium3D Is Now Running Kodi & Some Games For This Open-Source Mali Driver

        In the one year that the Panfrost Gallium3D driver has been coming together for open-source, reverse-engineered support for Arm Mali Midgard/Bifrost hardware, it’s been making a lot of progress in what it’s capable of running atop this Mesa driver.

        Panfrost driver lead developer Alyssa Rosenzweig shared that Panfrost has matured to the point that it can now run real-world applications like the Kodi HTPC software amd select OpenGL games like SuperTuxKart and Neverball. It’s still a long way off the capabilities of the proprietary driver, which also supports OpenCL and Vulkan, but not too bad for a community-based, reverse-engineering driver effort with limited resources.

    • Benchmarks

      • Benchmarks Of Amazon’s New AMD EPYC “M5ad” Instances vs. Intel Xeon + ARM Graviton

        Last year Amazon began offering AMD EPYC options for their EC2 public cloud and last week extended the line-up of EPYC cloud options with the new “M5ad” and “R5ad” instance types with greater performance potential while being built on the AWS Nitro System.

        The new AMD EPYC powered M5ad instance types are intended for the general purpose workloads and priced cheaper than the Intel Xeon M5 options. The R5ad options meanwhile are catering towards memory intensive workloads. Details on these new AMD EPYC options on the Elastic Compute Cloud via this Amazon AWS blog post.

  • Applications

    • 3 cool text-based email clients

      Writing and receiving email is a big part of everyone’s daily routine and choosing an email client is usually a major decision. The Fedora OS provides a large choice of email clients and among these are text-based email applications.

    • 9 Best Free Linux Digital Forensics Tools

      Digital forensics is a specialist art. It allows investigations to be undertaken without modifying the media. Being able to preserve and analyze data in a safe and non-destructive way is crucial when using digital evidence as part of an investigation, and even more so when a legal audit trail needs to be maintained. Digital forensics can be used in a wide range of investigations such as computer intrusion, unauthorised use of computers including the violation of an organisation’s internet-usage policy, gathering intelligence from documents and emails, as well as the protection of corporate assets.

      We have extolled the virtues of open source software in many of our previous articles. The debate between open source and closed source software has often centered on factors such as freedom, reliability, interoperability and open standards, support, and philosophy.

      In this instance, open source software offers a legal benefit, as it can increase the admissibility of digital forensic evidence. This is because open source tools enable the investigator and court to verify that a tool does what it claims and makes it easier to prove that the original drive has not been modified, or that a copy has not been modified.

      Linux has a good range of digital forensics tools that can process data, perform data analysis of text documents, images, videos, and executable files, present that data to the investigator in a form that helps identify relevant data, and to search the data.

      To provide an insight into the software that is available, we have compiled a list of 9 of our favorite digital forensics tools. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who needs to undertake digital investigations.

    • Proprietary

      • Download Master PDF Editor 4 For Linux (Free To Use Version)

        Master PDF Editor is a proprietary application to edit PDF documents on Linux, Windows and macOS. It can create, edit (insert text or images), annotate, view, encrypt, and sign PDF documents.

        With version version 5, Master PDF Editor has removed some features from its free to use version, like editing or adding text, inserting images, and more – when using such tools, the application adds a big watermark to the PDF document unless users buy the full version (around $83).

        Master PDF Editor 4 though, which is free for non-commercial use with no restrictions (at least on Linux, I’m not sure about macOS and Windows), can still be downloaded and works well, even though it’s not linked on the application official website.

      • Top 26 Tools for VMware Administrators

        VMware software provides cloud computing and platform virtualization services to various users and it supports working with several tools that extend its abilities.

      • Microsoft NTFS For Linux Now Supports Kernels To 4.20.x a

        Paragon Software Group has released Microsoft NTFS for Linux by Paragon Software, a tool granting full access to NTFS and HFS+ volumes from Linux devices. The transfer rate is the same for native Linux file systems and, reportedly, in some cases even better.

      • WPS Office for Linux Update Available to Download

        A new version of WPS Office for Linux, a free (as in beer) productivity suite modelled after Microsoft Office, is now available to download.

        WPS Office v11.1.0.8372 ships with a modest set of improvements and fixes, the majority of which are pulled from the recent Windows’ release of WPS Office 2019.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • A Half-Year Since Valve Released Steam Play For Linux, Its Marketshare Is Still Sub-1%

        With the start of a new month, Valve has just published their updated monthly Steam figures showing the Linux gaming market-share and more.

        For March 2019, they are reporting the Linux gaming population at 0.82% of their overall user-base. This number though is a bit iffy as at the same time they are saying that’s a 0.00% change over the month prior… But for February 2019, they had been reporting a 0.77% Linux market-share, which would have been a 0.05% increase. As recently as earlier today they were still reporting 0.77% for February until these “unchanged” 0.82% result was posted for March.

    • Games

      • The Jolly Rogers – An open-source Unity game

        Today Heroic Labs, the creators of the open-source distributed game server Nakama, has made available the next tool in their open-source tools for the games…

      • Forager, a pretty cute looking 2D open world mash-up of genres is coming to Linux

        Forager from developer HopFrog and publisher Humble Bundle looks like a pretty fun mash-up of different genres, inspired by the likes of Stardew Valley, Terraria & Zelda and it’s going to support Linux now too.

        The developer originally said it was basically ready to release back in November last year, but due to contracts they needed to get the game ready for consoles to release at the same time as the PC versions. So while polishing it up, they’ve continued adding content to the game which has included Linux support! You can more info on that here.

      • Roguelike bullet-hell game Woodpunk is now properly out with Linux support

        Combining bullet-hell like gameplay with some roguelike elements, Woodpunk had a little delay in the Linux version which is now properly up and out.

        I did briefly mention Woodpunk in a previous article when it was supposed to release but they hit some sort of snag with their Publisher. The developer, Meteorbyte Studios, has since sent over a copy and I’ve actually had a lot of fun with this one.

      • The Linux-powered Atari VCS has gone through some design changes

        The Atari VCS team put out a new blog post and it goes over some changes to the design and it still looks pretty great.

        Now that they’ve already announced a delay and upgrade to AMD Ryzen, the Atari VCS team is once again talking about the design of the unit and how they’ve overhauled the construction method to make it more streamlined.

        It’s worth noting, they’re currently only showing renders of what it now looks like. As the pre-production models are on their way to their engineering team, which they say they will share actual photos when they have them.

      • Citra, the open-source emulator for the Nintendo 3DS is coming along nicely plus Flatpak support

        For those of you who want to check it out, Citra for emulating the Nintendo 3DS sounds like it’s really progressing nicely.

        It’s been a while since they posted an official status update, with the last way back at the start of December. This update which can be found here, goes over what they’ve been up to and how they’ve progressed against a poll they did on their Patreon for what their supporters wanted working.

      • An early look at what’s on sale this week, time to pick up a good deal

        April is here already and here’s your first look this month at what’s going cheap for Linux gamers to pick up.

      • After failing Kickstarter funding, the Football-focused city builder Road to your City is now on Steam

        Road to your City is a city builder but it’s not the usual kind, with a focus on building up a Football team to go along with your city it’s pretty interesting to play.

        Sadly, the original Kickstarter failed to get much support so the developer has now put Road to your City on Steam in Early Access. I do love my city builders so I’m really happy to see more come to Linux officially and attempt to do something a little different and not just be “yet another”.

      • A third Shelter game has been announced, this time you’re an elephant

        Announced yesterday and it’s very real (not an April Fools), Shelter 3 from Might and Delight won’t be arriving until next year. This time you have a bigger role to play, “one where motherhood, social harmony and inheritance are the keys to prosperity”, as you will take on the role of an elephant in part of a herd.

      • Tropico 6 Now Available For PC and Linux

        The wait is finally over, the borders are open and El Presidente welcomes you to visit the island paradise of Tropico. Kalypso Media and Limbic Entertainment are thrilled to announce that Tropico 6, the latest instalment in the critically acclaimed Tropico franchise, launches today globally for Windows PC and Linux (with the Mac version following soon).

        With Penultimo busy grooming prize llama Hector for the Presidential parade to celebrate Tropico 6’s glorious launch, the loyal citizens over at Kalypso HQ have been busily editing El Presidente’s welcome trailer for your enjoyment. So click on the links below and take a sun drenched trip along Tropico’s beautiful sandy beaches and almost dormant volcanos (there’s only a 65% chance of eruption in the coming weeks) by clicking on the links below.

      • A quick look over ProtonDB reports for Steam Play in March 2019

        The Steam Play tracker ProtonDB just recently put out another set of reports, so here’s another look at some interesting findings when going over the data. As a reminder, ProtonDB is not an official Valve site and everything should be taken with a healthy pinch of salt. That said, it’s still fun to take a look at the data it provides.

      • Kodi and SuperTuxKart on Panfrost

        Back in October, Panfrost ran some simple benchmarks, like glmark. Five months later, Panfrost has grown from running benchmarks to real-world apps, like Kodi, and 3D games like SuperTuxKart and Neverball.

        Since the previous post, there have been major improvements across every part of the aspect culminating in this milestone. On the kernel side, my co-contributors Tomeu Vizoso and Rob Herring have created a modern kernel driver, suitable for mainline inclusion. Panfrost now uses this upstream-friendly driver, rather than relying on a modified legacy kernel as in the past. The new kernel module is currently under review for mainline inclusion. You can read more about this progress on Tomeu’s blog.

        Outside the kernel, however, the changes have been no less significant. Early development was constrained to our own project repositories, as the code was not yet ready to general users. In early February, thanks in part to the progress on the kernel-space, we flew out of our nest, and Panfrost was merged into upstream Mesa, the central repository for free software graphics drivers. Development now occurs in-tree in Mesa.

        We have continued decoding new aspects of the hardware and implementing support in the driver. A few miscellaneous additions include cube maps, gl_PointSize and gl_PointCoord, linear depth rendering, performance counters, and new shader instructions.

      • DXVK 1.0.2 Rolls Out With A Few Fixes

        Philip Rebohle, the lead developer of DXVK for accelerating Direct3D 10/11 on Linux systems by mapping the API to Vulkan, has released the newest point release for this library used by Steam Play (Proton) / Wine gamers.

      • DXVK 1.0.2 is out with some bug fixes, d9vk seems to be progressing nicely

        Two bits of Wine-related news today with both DXVK for Vulkan-based D3D11 and D3D10 and d9vk for Vulkan-based D3D9 coming along.

      • Sunless Skies to get an exciting update next week, to make the Albion area more interesting

        Sunless Skies is a fantastic game, I’ve enjoyed many hours exploration in it and Failbetter Games are set to improved it. Note: You can see some previous thoughts I had here.

        The Wayfarer Update is arriving on Tuesday, 9th April and it will include a big refresh to the Albion area “with a focus on providing more to see and do during voyages”. This is only the first of multiple updates coming to the game, which it seems will be free.

      • Woops – Valve accidentally put up the Valve Index, Base Station and Controllers unfinished store pages

        What could possibly be a little prank from Valve, the unfinished Steam store pages for the Valve Index, Valve Index Base Station and Valve Index Controllers went online a little too early. Yes, really, this is not a prank from us! SteamDB were quick as usual to spot it.

      • Linux Gaming News Punch – Episode 6

        Another week has come and gone and as usual you’re struggling to follow everything, so here’s another episode of the Linux Gaming News Punch.

        Episode 6! I’ve been doing this over a month now and couldn’t be happier with the reception. It’s settled nicely now, into a format that works and keeping it under 10 minutes has been really good.

      • The fun single-player FPS Ravenfield now has a new Skirmish game mode and an APC vehicle

        If you’re looking for a single-player FPS with large open battles, Ravenfield continues to be a pretty good choice.

        The latest Early Access update adds in a new vehicle, the APC which was apparently highly requested. Interestingly, the APC design has a lot more detail to it than other vehicles in the game and the developer mentioned other vehicles are also going to be improved:

      • Space Haven, the stylish spaceship colony sim is fully funded and heading to Linux

        Space Haven from Bugbyte, an exciting entry into the colony-building sim genre taking place on a spaceship has managed to get funded.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt 3D Studio 2.3 Released

        We are happy to announce the Qt 3D Studio 2.3 release is now available via the online and offline installers. Here’s a quick summary of the new features and functions in 2.3. For detailed information about the Qt 3D Studio, visit the online documentation page.

        The 2.3 release introduces a new font rendering engine based on distance field font rendering. The new renderer is the default starting from 2.3 release onward. The old Qt Painter texture based can be enabled by setting an environment variable Q3DS_DISTANCE_FIELD_DISABLED to 1. The new font rendering also supports pre-generated distance field cache. The new font rendering does require Qt 5.12.2 release, with the earlier Qt releases the text rendering in using the old font rendering.

      • Qt 3D Studio 2.3 Debuts With New Font Rendering Engine, Performance Improvements
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Is Also Getting Fixed Up For Lower CPU Usage With NVIDIA Graphics

        Last week I wrote about NVIDIA contributing a fix to KDE/KWin for avoiding high CPU usage when using the proprietary GeForce graphics driver. That fix ended up being due to the KWin compositor making incorrect assumptions about GLX swap buffers behavior. It turns out GNOME also needs a similar fix.

        The news coverage of NVIDIA figuring out the fix for KDE also happened to help GNOME developers in figuring out some long-standing similar troubles on their side. Canonical’s prolific GNOME contributor, Daniel Van Vugt, has been looking at the NVIDIA high CPU usage bug and was able to confirm he already ended up having a previous but still open merge request that fixes the issue by accident.

      • GNOME 3.30: “Almería”: Updates and Improvements You Might Not Know

        On September 5, 2018 GNOME project announced the release of GNOME 3.30.

        Version 3.30 contains six months of work by the GNOME community and includes many improvements and new features.

        This release features some significant performance improvements. The entire desktop now uses fewer system resources, which means you can run more apps at once.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Linux Lite 4.4 Released: A Lightweight Windows Replacement For All

        Linux Lite, as its name suggests, is a lightweight Linux distribution that can be easily used by a beginner or an expert. The developers of this open source operating system are here with the latest Linux Lite 4.4 Final. Based on Ubuntu 18.04.2, this release is powered by Linux kernel 4.15.0-45.

        For existing Lite users, this release might not be exciting as it seems like simply a way to refresh the ISO images and inculcate the minor changes and fixes made over the past few months.

      • Linux Lite 4.4 released, brings various enhancements and updated components

        It is based on the Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system. One of the best things about operating systems based on the Linux kernel is they can sometimes be very lightweight. Linux Lite 4.4 is here with a number of minor changes to the GNU/Linux distribution which is beloved by so many users worldwide. The most important change is the fact that there aren’t beta releases anymore, which were replaced with RC (Release Candidate) images.

        The RC information and Build number will only appear on the default wallpaper for that release, Login screen and the Live Boot screen. The positioning of the text is such that it allows room for desktop widgets like Conky and Lite Widget to appear uncluttered on the right,” said Jerry Bezencon.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Arch Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • The new SUSE

        In Nashville, Tenn., at SUSECon, European Linux power SUSE CEO Nils Brauckmann said his company would soon be the largest independent Linux company. That’s because, of course, IBM is acquiring Red Hat. But, simultaneously, SUSE has continued to grow for seven-straight years.

        Brauckmann said, “We believe that makes our status as a truly independent open source company more important than ever. Our genuinely open-source solutions, flexible business practices, lack of enforced vendor lock-in, and exceptional service are more critical to customer and partner organizations, and our independence coincides with our single-minded focus on delivering what is best for them.”

      • SUSE Will Soon Be the Largest Independent Linux Company
    • Fedora

      • Fedora 30 Beta is here — try the next version of the best Linux distro now

        Fedora is the best overall Linux distribution. It’s really not up for debate — even the father of Linux, Linus Torvalds uses it. The focus of the operating system is truly free and open source software, making it one of the most pure experiences. And while there are many flavors to choose with various desktop environments, the default is GNOME — the overall best DE. While Fedora maybe isn’t the best distro for beginners, it should be the eventual choice for those that “level up” to being an experienced Linux user later.

        Today, after a bit of a delay, Fedora 30 is finally available for download. Details are a bit sparse regarding new features, but we will add them as we know more. What we do know, however, is the Workstation variant (which is what most users care about) uses GNOME 3.32 — the latest and greatest version of that desktop environment.

      • Ben Williams: F29-20190329 updated Live isos Released [Ed: New builds/ISOs of Fedora 19 are available]

        The Fedora Respins SIG is pleased to announce the latest release of Updated F29-20190329 Live ISOs, carrying the 5.0.4-200 kernel.

        This set of updated isos will save considerable amounts of updates after install. ((for new installs.)(New installs of Workstation have 1.2GB of updates)).

        A huge thank you goes out to irc nicks short-bike, vdamewood, alciregi,wa1em, dowdle, Southern-Gentlem for testing these iso.

      • Fedora 30 Beta Released With GNOME 3.32, Many New Features

        The public beta of Fedora 30 is now available for testing as the latest installment to this Red Hat developed Linux distribution now riding with the very latest packages like the GNOME 3.32 desktop.

        Fedora 30 Beta also features DNF performance improvements thanks to Zchunk compression, new Deepin and Pantheon desktop environment options, continued work on flicker-free boot, Dbus-Broker as the default D-Bus implementation, and other changes.

      • Announcing the release of Fedora 30 Beta

        The Fedora Project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of Fedora 30 Beta, the next big step on our journey to the exciting Fedora 30 release.

      • Charles-Antoine Couret: Fedora 30 Beta est de sortie
      • Fedora 30 Beta Now Available
    • Debian Family

      • Ben Hutchings: Debian LTS work, March 2019

        I was assigned 20 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and carried over 16.5 hours from February. I worked 22.5 hours and so will carry over 14 hours.

      • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #205

        On our mailing list this week, Vagrant Cascadian posted a request for suggestions for Reproducible Builds-related ideas that students from Portland State University could work on. In addition, Holger Levsen made an announcement that registration for a MiniDebConf in Hamburg during June 2019 is now open and will likely involve a number of people involved in Reproducible Builds.

      • Append-only backups with borg to another VPS or dedicated server

        Prerequisites to follow this guide is to use Debian Stretch (9) or Debian Buster (10) and have two servers available, one main server from which the backups are taken, and another backup server where the backup archives will be stored. These two servers should be in separate locations for optimum protection.

        This guide will start with the configuration on the backup server in the first section. In the second section, we will configure the main server and then perform a backup, a test restore and show how to manually prune of old backup archives.

      • DebUtsav Delhi

        Debutsav-Delhi is the third edition of its kind. Initially Mozilla Delhi backed the Debutsav-delhi when they pitched the idea but later they withdrew for some reason and just became a supporting member. I must say Debian India events are happening frequent now. Some years ago in India Debian hang around with other FLOSS events. Now its DebUtsav giving chance to other FLOSS people to meet around Debian.

        As the usual way of DebUtsav, this one also was two day event with separate track for Debian related talks and for general FLOSS talk. I gave a talk about Debian LTS project. On first day evening some speakers and organizers gathered for dinner.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • eBuyer Sell a Range of Affordable Ubuntu PCs

            If you’re in the UK and on the hunt for an affordable Linux desktop PC, do take a look at online tech retailer eBuyer.

            While shopping for something else from their website, I looked to see if the company sells anything preloaded with Ubuntu.

            And to my surprise, they do!

            Now, this shouldn’t have been as surprising as it was because eBuyer, currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, sold a range of cheap and cheerful Ubuntu laptops back in 2015.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 572
          • Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo Beta releases with support for Linux 5.0 and GNOME 3.32

            Last week, the team behind Ubuntu announced the release of Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo Beta, which comes with Linux 5.0 support, GNOME 3.32, and more. Its stable version is expected to release on April 18th, 2019.

          • AWS IoT Greengrass released as a snap

            Canonical and AWS are excited to announce the public release of AWS IoT Greengrass as a snap. AWS IoT Greengrass is software that brings local compute, messaging, data caching, sync, and ML inference capabilities to your IoT device. IoT and embedded developers can now easily install and get started with IoT Greengrass in seconds on an ever-expanding list of Linux distributions. By combining IoT Greengrass as a snap and Ubuntu Core, an IoT-focused OS built entirely from snaps, device manufacturers and system integrators can build an IoT appliance in weeks with no compromise on security and long-term support.

            Warehouse-vendor Prologis determined that using Rigado Cascade 500 devices running Ubuntu Core 16 to deploy IoT Greengrass was the best choice because of the increased security that Ubuntu Core and snaps bring as well as the control and flexibility provided by Rigado’s Edge Direct service. Using Ubuntu Core on the Rigado Cascade 500, Prologis can gather and process Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) data directly on the device with IoT Greengrass – doing compute on the edge or easily pushing their data up to their AWS cloud.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Monthly News – March 2019

              Many thanks for your support and donations and also for your feedback and ideas. Today we’ll talk a little bit about some of the negative aspects of Free Software development, but before we do, I want to emphasize how lucky we are here at Linux Mint to have this community and this level of support. It’s not always easy to achieve what we want, sometimes it’s not even easy to define what we want to achieve. We can have doubts, we can work really hard on something for a while and then question it so much, we’re not even sure we’ll ship it. We can get demotivated, uncertain, depressed even by negative reactions or interactions, and it can lead to developers stepping away from the project, taking a break or even leaving for good. And then sometimes simply seeing people enjoy what we did can boost an entire team, whether it’s seeing happiness in an email/comment or getting a feeling of satisfaction after a constructive interaction which leads to a fix or an implementation.

              I personally haven’t enjoyed this development cycle so far. 2 of our most talented developers have been away. Boosting performance in the Muffin window manager hasn’t been, and still isn’t, straight forward. Feedback on the new website and logo brought a huge amount of incertitude. We’ll still have a great release in the end and we’ll still achieve plenty of improvements (we did already to a certain extent), but we need to be strong and remain confident and it’s not easy when so much time is invested into something and then a month later it’s not ready, or it causes other issues, or it might please some people but not others. For a team to work, developers need to feel like heroes. They want the same things as users, they are users, they were “only” users to start with. At some stage they decide to get involved and they start investing time, efforts and emotions into improving our project. What they’re looking for the most is support and happiness. They need feedback and information to understand bugs or feature requests and when they’re done implementing something, they need to feel like heroes, they literally do, that’s part of the reason they’re here really.

            • First Look: Linux Mint 19.2 Named ‘Tina’, Will Feature Faster Window Manager

              The codename of Linux Mint 19.2 has been announced as “Tina”, in tribute to Tina Turner and her song ‘The Best’ (aka ‘Simply the Best’).

              Linux Mint lead Clement Levebvre reveals the name in his latest latest Mint Monthly update. He remarks that he wants the upcoming release to be, in the words of Tina Turner’s hit song, “simply the best”.

            • Linux Mint 19.2 ‘Tina’ is on the way, but the developers seem defeated and depressed

              I have been a bit critical of Linux Mint in the past, but the truth is, it is a great distribution that many people enjoy. While Mint is not my favorite desktop distro (that would be Fedora), I recognize its quality. Is it perfect? No, there is no such thing as a flawless Linux-based operating system.

              Today should be happy times for the Linux Mint community, as we finally learn some new details about the upcoming version 19.2! It will be based on Ubuntu 18.04 and once again feature three desktop environments — Xfce, Mate, and Cinnamon. We even found out the code name for Linux Mint 19.2 — “Tina.” And yet, it is hard to celebrate. Why? Because the developers seem to be depressed and defeated. They even appear to be a bit disenchanted with Free Software development overall.

            • Cudo launches new OS, bringing smarter crypto mining to rig operators

              Cudo Miner, the crypto mining software application, has released a stand-alone operating system (OS) that can be quickly deployed or run directly from an external hard disk. The new CudoOS distribution includes all of the features included in Cudo’s original graphical user interface (GUI) miner, which is designed to make it easier to mine multiple coins with less configuration and maintenance.

              In the bear market, few rig miners want to stay up all night to keep an eye on their mining setup – at least not between hard forks and new coins. With built-in benchmarking, overclocking, and the option to intelligently switch mining resources to the most profitable crypto currency, Cudo says the CudoOS distribution provides miners with the ability to quickly setup up recover a problematic rig with a ready-to-use USB stick.

              [...]

              CudoOS is available as an ISO image, based on a stripped-down distribution of Linux Ubuntu 18.04 with the essential AMD and Nvidia GPU drivers required to start mining pre-installed. Because it’s 4GB, Cudo says it can be loaded onto a USB stick that can be plugged into any Intel-based GPU mining rig and run straight from the disk.

            • Rig Miners to Benefit From Smart Crypto Mining Capabilities with CudoOS

              Crypto mining software provider Cudo Miner has announced the release of its new operating system (OS), aptly named CudoOS. The UK-based company claims that the OS distribution will run as a “bare-metal” version and provide rig miners with the ability to quickly and easily set up a new mining rig, or recover a problematic rig, simply by using a USB stick.

              The new operating system can be quickly deployed to the target rig, or run directly from an external hard disk. Cudo is not the first crypto mining software to be distributed as an ever-ready operating system image, with alternatives including SimpleMining OS (SMOS) and HiveOS.

              However, Cudo believes it has some new ideas. CudoOS includes all of the features that Cudo Miner users enjoy in its standard graphical user interface miner. This includes the ability to overclock their graphics card inside the app and to automatically switch between mining the most profitable cryptos. Miners can also hold or get paid out in multiple different cryptos, including Bitcoin, Ether, Monero, Grin and Ravencoin. This is particularly useful for those miners who have had their eye on Ravencoin’s dramatic increase in price over the last few weeks and wish to hold Ravencoin while it continues to rise.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Chef Commits to 100 Percent Open Source Code
  • Chef goes 100% open source
  • Chef unveils new commercial product strategy, will now sell distributions of its open-source projects
  • What customers need to know about Chef’s 100% open source commitment
  • Chef Open Sources 100 Percent of its Software under Apache 2.0 License, Introduces the Enterprise Automation Stack™
  • DevOps Chat: Chef Goes All-In on Open Source

    In front of next month’s ChefConf in Seattle, Chef has announced a major refinement to its business model. Affirming and clarifying its commitment to open source business models, Chef will now and in the future release all of its software as open source.

  • Iris by Lowe’s is gone, but here’s the open source code to keep your smart devices alive

    For those still holding on to Iris products — and are a bit comfortable around coding — Lowe’s released open source code to support its former line of smart home devices. As promised, Lowe’s put the code up on GitHub, renaming the line Arcus. (While Iris is the Greek goddess of rainbow, Arcus is her Roman name.)

  • March 2019 License-Discuss Summary

    The CAL has provisions that ensure user’s access to their data, which goes in a similar direction as the EU’s GDPR – it even references the GDPR in an interpretation clause. The CAL defines a concept of Lawful Interest as the trigger for user access rights.

    Henrik Ingo notes that this grants rights to third parties, which is fairly novel and could raise OSD issues. Van Lindberg says these are just third party beneficiaries that receive no rights other than access to the Source and to their own User Data. The data protection in the CAL is not a grant of rights to third parties, but a limitation on the grant to the licensee, similar to the GPLv3′s anti-Tivoization clause.

    Henrik Ingo [1,2] dives a bit deeper into the CAL ↔ GDPR relationship, and finds CAL User Data to be inconsistent the GDPR personal data concept.

    Van Lindberg responds that the CAL and GDPR have different angles: GDPR is primarily concerned about privacy, the CAL primarily about User Autonomy. Lawful Interest is intended to not only capture rights through ownership or the GDPR, but also things like the right to an ebook the user possesses or has licensed. The CAL’s User Data concept is more broad than the GDPR’s Personal Data. Based on Ingo’s feedback, Lindberg updates the wording of the CAL to clarify its relationship with the GDPR.

    [...]

    Bruce Perens thinks that restricting the license grant to copyright and patents may be too narrow for jurisdictions that recognize additional rights. Perens suggests the license should grant all necessary rights, and only exclude trademarks. Van Lindberg considers broadening the grant.

  • March 2019 License-Review Summary

    In March, the License-Review mailing list saw the retraction of the SSPL from review, and discussed a set of GPLv3 Additional Terms.

    The License-Discuss list (summarized at https://opensource.org/LicenseDiscuss032019) was far more active. Among other things, it discussed Van Lindberg’s upcoming Cryptographic Autonomy License, and saw extensive discussion about the license review process: whether the conduct of the list is appropriate, whether there might be alternatives to using email, and whether PEP-style summaries would help.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Addons Blog: April’s featured extensions
      • Socorro: March 2019 happenings

        Socorro is the crash ingestion pipeline for Mozilla’s products like Firefox. When Firefox crashes, the crash reporter collects data about the crash, generates a crash report, and submits that report to Socorro. Socorro saves the crash report, processes it, and provides an interface for aggregating, searching, and looking at crash reports.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice at the Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2019

      Free software projects, such as LibreOffice and GNU/Linux, are developed by communities spread across the world. Most of the work takes place online, but there are many events for developers and supporters to meet face-to-face. One such event is the Chemnitzer Linux-Tage (Chemnitz Linux Days), in Saxony, which took place this year on 16 and 17 March. And the LibreOffice community was there!

  • Education

    • Making computer science curricula as adaptable as our code

      Educators in elementary computer science face a lack of adaptable curricula. Calls for more modifiable, non-rigid curricula are therefore enticing—assuming that such curricula could benefit teachers by increasing their ability to mold resources for individual classrooms and, ultimately, produce better teaching experiences and learning outcomes.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GnuCash 3.5

      GnuCash is a personal and small business finance application, freely licensed under the GNU GPL and available for GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. It’s designed to be easy to use, yet powerful and flexible. GnuCash allows you to track your income and expenses, reconcile bank accounts, monitor stock portfolios and manage your small business finances. It is based on professional accounting principles to ensure balanced books and accurate reports.

  • Programming/Development

    • Django 2.2 released

      The Django team is happy to announce the release of Django 2.2.

      This version has been designated as a long-term support (LTS) release, which means that security and data loss fixes will be applied for at least the next three years. It will also receive fixes for crashing bugs, major functionality bugs in newly-introduced features, and regressions from older versions of Django for the next eight months until December 2019.

    • A GCC Parallelization Bottleneck Might Get Addressed This Summer

      Student developer Giuliano Belinassi is hoping to work on addressing this parallelization bottleneck in the GCC build process by reworking some GIMPLE passes and being able to parallelize the expand_all_functions behavior. The technical plans for those interested can be found via the proposal, which has also been brought up on their mailing list.

    • [GSoC 2019] Proposal: Parallelize GCC With Threads
    • PyCharm 2019.1.1 RC

      PyCharm is the first JetBrains IDE to ship with the new JDK 11. This brings us improved performance and better rendering for our Jupyter Notebooks. Unfortunately, it also means that we ran into a couple of teething issues with the new JDK.

    • About -Wextra and -Wcast-function-type
    • A Local LRU Cache
    • Real Python: Get Started With Django Part 1: Build a Portfolio App
    • Getting Started with Testing in Python
    • My Cover Story for Creating GUI Applications with wxPython Book
    • Sorting Algorithms in Python
    • tint 0.1.1: New Styles

      With almost year passed since the previous 0.1.0 release, a nice new release of the tint package arrived on CRAN today. Its name expands from tint is not tufte as the package offers a fresher take on the Tufte-style for html and pdf presentations.

      This version adds new features, and a new co-author. Jonathan Gilligan calmly and persistently convinced me that there was ‘life beyond Roboto’ and I overcame the reluctance to offer other fonts. So now we have two additional reference implementations for Lato and Garamond which look stunning, as well as generally enhanced support for fonts, font families and entire LaTeX templates all via the standard YAML headers.

    • The trendy five: Springing into GitHub’s trending repos of March 2019 [Ed: Promoting that idea that Free software that isn't hosted on a Microsoft site simply does not exist or does not count.]
    • The technology of nostalgia
    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 18: Recursive functions
    • Unified Transform Open-source School Management Platform

      Unified Transform is an open-source school management platform built with Laravel 5.5 (current LTS)…

    • Java vs Python: Battle Of The Best

      This comparison on Java vs Python will provide you with a crisp knowledge about both the programming languages and help you find out which one fits your goal better. Java and Python are two of the hottest programming languages in the market right now because of their versatility, efficiency, and automation capabilities. This Java vs Python blog will provide you with a complete insight into the languages in the following sequence:

      Let’s go back in time and look at the origin of both the languages and find out if Python is similar to Java.

      Java is an object-oriented language with a C/C++-like syntax that is familiar to many programmers. It is dynamically linked, allowing new code to be downloaded and run, but not dynamically typed.

      Python is the older of the two languages, first released in 1991 by its inventor, Guido van Rossum. It is a readable, efficient and powerful high level language with automatic memory management.

    • Product Review: Python Flash Cards

      No Starch Press is best known for creating books on computer programming. However they recently released a new product called Python Flash Cards by Eric Matthes, the author of Python Crash Course. I thought this was a unique product and decided to ask for a review copy.

    • Wing Python IDE 7.0 Release Candidate 2 – April 2, 2019

      The second release candidate of Wing Python IDE version 7 is now available through our Early Access Program. This release fixes about 15 issues, in preparation for the final release of Wing 7.

    • Parallel computation in Python with Dask

      One frequent complaint about Python performance is the global interpreter lock (GIL). Because of GIL, only one thread can execute Python byte code at a time. As a consequence, using threads does not speed up computation—even on modern, multi-core machines.

Leftovers

  • CBS Censors Sign-Language Interpretation of Super Bowl National Anthem

    CBS broadcast the Super Bowl on Sunday February 3, 2019, but it never aired the American Sign Language performance by Aarron Loggins, a deaf performer and activist. The television audience for the 2019 Super Bowl was estimated to be one hundred million viewers. This Super Bowl was special in part Gladys Knight was to sing the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful” while Aarron Loggins interpreted in American Sign Language (ASL).

  • Science

    • Activists Must Stop Harassing Scientists

      Today, everyone, or almost everyone, agrees: harassment is a scourge to be fought, whether it’s sexual harassment or discrimination based on race or gender. But the consensus is much weaker when the persecuted—to the point of losing their desire to work or live in the West—are scientists who have been ostracized for “incorrect thinking,” regardless of the integrity, seriousness, or quality of their work.

    • Untold History of AI: Invisible Women Programmed America’s First Electronic Computer

      On 14 February 1946, journalists gathered at the Moore School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania to witness a public demonstration of one of the world’s first general-purpose electronic digital computers: the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC).

      Arthur Burks, a mathematician and senior engineer on the ENIAC team, was in charge of showing off the machine’s capabilities. He first had the computer add 5,000 numbers together, a task it completed in 1 second. Then he demonstrated that the machine could compute a bomb trajectory in less time than a shell would take to fly from gun to target.

      The reporters were thoroughly impressed. As far as they could tell, all Burks had to do was press a button and the machine would whir into life, computing in mere moments what would have previously taken a number of days for humans.

  • Hardware

    • The state of the USB-C connector in 2019

      In episode 2×46 of the Bad Voltage podcast, Stuart Langridge predicts companies will finally embrace the USB-C connector in 2019. Which prompts both Jono Bacon and Jeremy Garcia to ask: “What doesn’t ship with USB-C today”?

      After about six minutes of discussion it becomes clear no-one seems to have any reliable data on this topic. Depending on which market segment you’re in, either all devices already use USB-C ports and connectors, or everything still comes with Micro-USB-B or something even older.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Industry Front Group Called Out for Spreading ‘Bald-Faced Lies’ About Medicare for All Costs

      Medicare for All advocates, policy experts, and journalists pushed back strongly on Monday after an astroturf front group funded by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries misrepresented facts as part of a multi-pronged effort to convince the American public that a single-payer system would be more costly than the for-profit status quo.

      On Twitter, in digital ads, and in memos to supporters and the press, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF) and its allies are ramping up their nationwide campaign to fight the momentum built by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other Medicare for All advocates as proponents show how the system would be more financially feasible for middle-class families and less costly overall.

      Tweeting a link to a recent Washington Post article by Jeff Stein, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF) claimed that the piece showed that “Medicare-for-All would force middle-class families to pay more through massive tax hikes,” without providing the context for the statement within the article.

    • Massive Lawsuit Targets Authors of America’s Opioid Epidemic

      A lawsuit filed by more than 500 cities, counties, and Native American tribes accuses the Sackler family, owners of the company that makes the opioid painkiller OxyContin, of playing a role in creating “the worst drug crisis in American history.”

      While other lawsuits have targeted Purdue Pharma, which is wholly owned by the Sacklers, and eight family members have been recently added to some of those lawsuits, this is the first time Sackler family members have been sued as individuals on such a massive scale.

      The lawsuit, filed on March 18 in federal court in the Southern District of New York, accuses family members of knowingly breaking the law in their bid to get rich off sales of OxyContin, which helped generate the current opioid crisis with its release and intensive marketing in the late 1990s. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died of opioid overdoses since the rollout of OxyContin in 1996.

      “Eight people in a single family made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic,” the lawsuit charges. “This nation is facing an unprecedented opioid addiction epidemic that was initiated and perpetuated by the Sackler defendants for their own financial gain, to the detriment of each of the plaintiffs and their residents.

    • Why Trump’s Goon in Charge of Medicare and Medicaid Should Resign Immediately

      From Tom Price’s $1 million in private plane travel to Scott Pruitt’s attempt to get his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise, officials in the Trump administration appear to be having a competition with each other to see who can be the most nakedly corrupt. Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is a top contender. Price and Pruitt are two of the many Trump officials who have already resigned in disgrace. It’s past time for Verma to do the same.

      Last week, the depths of Verma’s corruption were exposed when an investigative report revealed that she spent millions of taxpayer dollars on hiring Republican communications consultants to “bolster her public profile.” Verma’s agency already has around 24 in-house communications staff, but apparently that wasn’t enough for her. She saw the opportunity to funnel huge sums of money to her political buddies, and eagerly took it.

      Verma does have good reason to be concerned about her public image. Her tenure running Medicare and Medicaid has been marked by attacks on both programs and their beneficiaries. Since these programs are extremely popular, attacking them is a great way to get a terrible reputation.

      Her assault on Medicaid has been relentless. Before joining the Trump administration, Verma was the head of SVC Inc., a consulting firm that worked on making state Medicaid programs as cruel and stingy as possible.

    • Citing ‘Conscience Shocking’ Conduct, Federal Judge Reinstates Former Gov. Snyder in Flint Water Lawsuit

      A federal judge on Monday—who agreed that allegations of “conscience shocking” conduct claimed by plaintiffs were “plausible”—reinstated Michigan’s former Governor Rick Snyder as a defendant in a class action lawsuit by the victims of the water crisis in the city of Flint that first captured national headlines in 2014.

      After earlier removing Snyder from the suit, brought by city residents harmed by the poisoning of the municipal water supply, U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy reversed that decision as she noted the plaintiffs had shown the allegations against Snyder and his fellow co-defendants “plausibly describe ‘conscience shocking’ conduct” as the people of Flint were stripped of 14th Amendment protections from bodily harm or injury.

    • After Speech Goes Viral, Georgia Lawmaker Not Done Condemning Attack on Reproductive Rights: ‘Women Are Going to Die’

      After her fervent dissent against Georgia’s anti-choice bill went viral over the weekend, state Sen. Jen Jordan made clear on Monday her primary objection to the so-called LIFE Act is that, contrary to its name, “women are going to die because of this bill.”

      The Democrat appeared on CNN’s “Good Day” to discuss the bill two days after her Senate floor speech gained millions of views online. The bill passed on Friday and is expected to be signed by Gov. Brian Kemp.

      “This bill is going to affect every aspect of every woman’s life in the state of Georgia,” Jordan said. “Let me be clear, women are going to die because of this law because they cannot get appropriate healthcare from OB/GYNs in this state.”

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Using sudo options to enhance security

      By taking the time to learn sudo’s many options, you can make your system more secure with a little creativity.

      Thanks to Ubuntu, sudo is best known as a quick way to run commands as root. However, there’s far more to sudo than Ubuntu’s policy. In fact, sudo’s man page is over 2,400 lines long, covering a staggering number of situations — some of which, like many powerful Linux commands, can get you in a lot of trouble if you are careless. Among sudo’s options are many that can greatly enhance security, especially if you take the time to be creative.

      Why would you want to enhance your security? The answer is that, from a security viewpoint, Ubuntu’s use of sudo can be viewed as a problem (although opinions do differ). As you may know, when sudo is configured the way it is in Ubuntu, you can use the password for your everyday account to log in to sudo and run root commands. The trouble is that any password for an everyday account is exposed in a way that the root account is not, especially on the Internet. That means that if the everyday account is compromised, the intruder gains root access, too, if sudo is set up on the system. The traditional separate root password is more secure, although less convenient. Fortunately, though, you can manage both convenience and security by taking the time to learn the details of sudo.

    • Ethical hackers offered Windows alternative to Kali Linux [Ed: Penetration testing from an operating system which has NSA back doors is a non-starter]
    • Commando VM Is A Windows-based Kali Alternative For Ethical Hacking
    • Security clashes with cloud: Offensive Security CEO talks cultural mindsets, leadership challenges=

      Offensive Security, known for the development of the Kali Linux penetration testing suite and security certification courses including OSCP Certified Professional, OSEE Exploitation Expert, and the new OSWE Web Expert qualification, became the responsibility of the new CEO Ning Wang three months ago.

    • 2FA is Still Too Complicated for Most People

      Currently, enabling 2FA for various services requires more knowledge and organization than it seems at first glance. Not the mere act of activating a 2FA method, but using it continuously in comparison with the security benefits 2FA provides. Things are moving in the right direction to improve the ergonomics but, contrary to some recent articles, it might still be too complex.

    • New Zealand again says Huawei not banned from 5G networks

      New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has again said that her country has not banned Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies from playing a role in its 5G networks.

    • Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was [cracked] by Saudi Arabia, investigation finds

      The investigation suggests that the Saudi government has been gunning for Bezos since his paper reported extensively on the Khasoggi murder.

      Furthermore, it found that many of the hacking techniques used to bring down Khasoggi were in use in exposing the Bezos member.

    • This Ransomware Improves Your PC’s Performance. Initially.

      So while the affected users will think of the performance increase as something beneficial in the background, the ransomware will encrypt all the files in the system even faster. Some of the most common file extensions targeted by the ransomware include .txt, .docx, .xls, .ppt, .zip, .xml, .wmv etc.

    • FinalCrypt 4.0.3 adds uncrackable encryption to your most sensitive files

      FinalCrypt is an open-source, cross-platform file encryption platform with two trump cards up its sleeve. The first is its use of Symmetric OTP encryption, of course, while it’s also been designed for bulk file encryption purposes, supporting up to four billion files and directories in one go for encryption and decryption purposes.

      The app sports a two-paned window — on the right you select an existing file for your key file, or click ‘Create Key’ to create a random file from scratch — its default size 256 MB, but you can increase it to terabytes in size if you so wish.

      A more logical choice would be around 8-16 GB — large enough to fit on a cheap USB key, ensuring the key file can be transported wherever it’s needed to decrypt files, plus kept locked away in a safe place when not required. Be sure to take advantage of the ‘Password (set)’ option, which adds a secondary layer of encryption to ensure possession of the key file isn’t enough on its own to unlock the files.

    • Apache Bug Lets Normal Users Gain Root Access Via Scripts
  • Defence/Aggression

    • US pollie queries Google refusal to work with defence

      A Republican Senator from Missouri has written to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai, asking him to address the company’s refusal to work with the US Department of Defence while at the same time working with China on artificial intelligence.

    • Syrian Ambassador: Trump should give Israel the Carolinas, instead of Syria’s Golan

      Syria’s envoy to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, lambasted the Trump administration for recognizing the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights.

      He said that if Trump wanted to give somebody else’s territory to Israel, it should be North and South Carolina.

      The United Nations Charter forbids the acquisition of territory by military force and insists on preserving the territorial integrity of the world’s states.

    • “Our Will of Life Is Stronger Than Despair”: Palestinian Ahmed Abu Artema on Israeli Attacks on Gaza

      Israeli forces killed four Palestinians, including three teenagers, at a mass demonstration Saturday on the first anniversary of the Great March of Return in Gaza. Israeli soldiers used live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets on the protesters. As tens of thousands of Palestinians came out to demand an end to the ongoing siege of Gaza and the right to return to their ancestral land, we speak with Ahmed Abu Artema, the Palestinian poet, journalist and peace activist who inspired the Great March of Return and helped organize it as a cry for help. Artema was frustrated by Israel’s more than decade-long land, sea and air blockade of the Gaza Strip, upon which it has waged three wars in the past 10 years.

    • Why Congress Must Act Now on Yemen

      Open a newspaper or turn on the television and—amid nonstop speculation about the contents of the Mueller report—you also may see shocking pictures of the war in Yemen. Four years ago, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) began military air operations against the Houthi armed group that was controlling most of Yemen.

      The war has contributed to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with a spike in cholera cases in recent weeks and about 80 percent of the population, or 24 million people, requiring humanitarian assistance. The parties to the conflict have violated the laws of war, including by committing numerous war crimes, and there are disturbing allegations of torture in detention by both sides.

      What you won’t see when you read or watch the news, however, is anyone being held to account for these crimes.

    • Minnesota Republican Cal Bahr Calls for Violence against Gun Control Advocates

      Minnesota State Representative Cal Bahr (R) called for violence against Democratic proposers of gun safety measures at a Gun Owners Caucus rally held at the capitol in February. According to reports from Raw Story and other news outlets, Bahr, a second term representative from Bethel, told the rally’s participants, “There’s a lot of us in this room that have had enough, and it’s time to start riding herd on the rest of these people that want to take your rights away from you. They will not go quietly into the good night. They need to be kicked to the curb and stomped on and run over a few times.”

    • A former Soviet defense minister has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Lithuanian court. What for? Why now?

      On March 27, a Lithuanian court sentenced Dmitry Yazov, a former defense minister of the USSR, to 10 years in prison in absentia. He was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the deaths of pro-independence Lithuanians during mass protests in Vilnius in January of 1991. In total, 67 people were charged in retroactive cases related to the protests. Here, Meduza explains what happened in Vilnius, what charges Yazov faced as a result, and why the case against him came to a close almost thirty years after the events that sparked it.

    • As Cost of ‘War on Terror’ Hits $6 Trillion, NY Grand Jury Looks Anew at 9/11

      With fewer than half the US population believing the official World Trade Center narrative, a New York Grand Jury is being called to investigate unprosecuted 9/11 crimes.

      Since September 11, 2001, the price for America’s war on terror has hit $6 trillion, and more than 480,000 people have been killed, according to a 2017 study released by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

      The casualties include 7,000 US troops, more than 100,000 military and police from other countries, and more than 244,000 civilians. The collateral cost of the “war on terror” is a tenfold increase in airport security, government spying on civilians, and war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan. War appropriations are funded by deficit spending and borrowing (not new taxes or war bonds) which add to interest costs totaling trillions.

    • Theresa May’s Appalling Legacy Will be the Destruction of the Good Friday Agreement

      A German general once explained that he divided officers looking for promotion into four categories: the clever and lazy, the clever and industrious, the stupid and lazy and the stupid and industrious.

      He said that the clever and lazy should be appointed to senior leadership positions because they could take important decisions without trying to interfere with the work of others. The clever and industrious should be made their deputies. The stupid and lazy should be sent to the front line, but the stupid and industrious should be pushed out of the army immediately of at once because they are a danger to everyone.

      Theresa May surely belongs to the fourth category of leader, because as prime minister she has shown that she has a lethal blend of tunnel vision and obstinacy that automatically produces ill-judged decisions.

      Her list of blunders is too long to repeat here but must include her decision to treat the outcome of the EU referendum as if it was a decisive choice by the British people. The near dead heat should have meant that the wishes of both sides would need to be accommodated to stop existing divisions widening.

      Instead, May acted like a British First World War commander at the Somme, pushing ahead regardless of actual circumstances. She triggered Article 50, taking the UK out of the EU without a plan; acted as if she had a parliamentary majority and had no need to compromise with the opposition; approached negotiations with the EU as if the balance of power lay in her favour and not in theirs; and she tried to bluff Brussels with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit far more damaging to Britain than the EU.

    • God and U.S. Foreign Policy: an Analysis

      Well, here we go again. God is back at work in support of the foreign policy of the United States. In fact, this time around, God has apparently gone so far as to rig the 2016 U.S. presidential election (and you thought it was the Russians!) in order to assure Donald Trump’s election. And why did the deity do so? To protect Israel from the bad guys in Teheran.

      I know that many readers will find this scenario pretty far-fetched, but we do have it all on good authority—U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo’s revelation came in late March during an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network in Jerusalem. Asked if “it is possible God raised Donald Trump to be President in order to protect Israel from the Iranian menace,” Pompeo readily agreed. “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” he said, and then transformed a possibility into a sure thing. He continued, “I am confident that the Lord is at work here when he sees the remarkable history of the faith in this place [Israel] and the work that our [U.S.] administration’s done to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state, remains.” Note the contradiction here—the bit about democracy and Jewish state. You can’t have a genuine democracy exclusively for one group (Jews) amidst a sea of others (Palestinians). However, if as Pompeo suggests, his God favors democracy and, one might logically assume, was the same God who brought down the white apartheid regime in South Africa, one might ask why should that God let Israel get away with what earned He, She, or Its wrath in apartheid South Africa? Could it be that Mr. Pompeo believes that a combination of Protestant fundamentalists and Zionists lobby in God’s realm just like they do in Congress, and that makes the difference? I bet that’s it.

    • Can the Military Be Reformed?

      It happens all the time in small towns and big cities across the country. A young person from a poor or working-class family can’t find a good job or afford to pay for higher education. Other family members, a teacher, coach or guidance counselor–who have been in the armed forces themselves– encourage them to enlist. Military service promises an escape from the dead-ends and disappointments of civilian life. It offers steady employment with benefits, now and later. By signing up, you can learn a skill, see the world. Overcome challenges. Make yourself into a leader. Become an army of one.

      Unfortunately, going to war—or even just training for it—can be a life-changing experience in ways never mentioned by military recruiters with a quota to fill. Former Marine Captain Anuradha Bhagwati, the author of Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience (Simon & Schuster) and the multi-generational cohort in Michael Messner’s Guys Like Me: Five Wars, Five Veterans for Peace (Rutgers University Press) all left active duty deeply scarred. Their service related conditions, emotional and physical, landed them in Veterans Health Administration (VA) treatment programs, based on varying degrees of disability. Their troubled feelings of anger, betrayal, sadness, or remorse often laid waste to their personal lives. But their common experience in uniform also transformed them into public advocates for peace or gender equality.

      [...]

      In Messner’s book, we first meet World War II veteran Ernie Sanchez who survived, as a 19-year old, heavy German shelling in the Hurtgen Forest. For the rest of his life, Sanchez carried “a jagged scrap of shrapnel lodged near his spine.” But, far more grievously, he also suffered from PTSD, long untreated, and “the moral burden of having mowed down, with his Browning Automatic Rifle, between fifty and a hundred German soldiers.”

    • ‘Outrageous Stunt’: Jewish Groups Accuse GOP of Weaponizing Anti-Semitism to Prolong Slaughter in Yemen

      “Just as they did earlier this year, Republican leaders may again shamefully exploit concerns over bigotry against Jews to stall a totally unrelated bill that would help put an end to U.S. support for the war in Yemen,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the progressive-leaning Jewish advocacy group J Street, said in a statement.

      The House is expected to vote on the Yemen War Powers resolution as early as this week. If it passes the lower chamber, the bill will head to President Donald Trump’s desk.

      “By tacking on ‘non-germane’ language condemning anti-Semitism, they would hand Mitch McConnell the ability to once again stall a vote on the Yemen resolution,” Ben-Ami said. “House Democrats should refuse to cooperate with such an outrageous stunt. They must see through the GOP’s cynical maneuver and reject any attempt to use language related to anti-Semitism as a tool to obstruct the passage of unrelated legislation.”

    • Explosion in St. Petersburg military academy injures four, sparks criminal investigation

      After an “unknown unencased object” exploded on the second floor of the Mozhaisky military academy in St. Petersburg, injuring four servicemembers, Russia’s Investigative Committee has initiated a criminal investigation. The Committee is treating the incident as an attempted murder case. A military investigation is also underway, and the academy has been evacuated.

    • Saudi Arabia: Six Months After the Brutal Killing of Jamal Khashoggi, There Remains ‘No Real Signs of Justice’

      “Six months after the extrajudicial execution of Jamal Khashoggi, there are still no real signs of justice or international accountability. It has become clear that the issue is being swept under the carpet by the Saudi authorities and foreign governments for the sake of security cooperation, lucrative business ties and arms deals.

      “The Saudi Arabian authorities’ ongoing trial of 11 suspects lacks credibility and transparency. It is also outrageous to learn that some governments whose diplomats have attended the trial of the alleged suspects have remained silent on fair trial concerns, especially given the prosecution is seeking the death penalty for some defendants. Other than the attendance of representatives of foreign governments, independent monitoring bodies and media have not been permitted to attend the closed trial proceedings, which is extremely worrying. Under these unacceptable circumstances, the presence of diplomats risks being seen as legitimizing a potentially flawed trial

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Chelsea Manning Again Takes Fall for Defending Public’s Right to Know

      Chelsea Manning was a US Army soldier who released to WikiLeaks Iraq and Afghan war logs, with information on torture and civilian killings, including an airstrike that killed two Reuters correspondents; and diplomatic cables revealing, among other things, a secret deal between the US and Yemen in which the US would bomb the country, and the Yemeni government would claim the attacks. For Manning, these were acts that shocked the conscience, and that US citizens, in whose names they were claimed, should know about. She hoped the release to the media and the public via WikiLeaks would spark “worldwide discussion, debates and reforms.”

      The military sought a court martial and a life sentence, claiming her disclosure “aided the enemy”; she was eventually sentenced by a military judge to 35 years, but her sentence was commuted by Barack Obama after she had served seven years—still the longest time anyone has served for disclosing classified information to the media. It’s generally understood that Obama recognized that it wasn’t possible to charge WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, via Manning, without exposing journalists at the New York Times or the Washington Post to prosecution for sharing the same information—not to mention collecting prizes for it.

      Manning has recently been subpoenaed by a grand jury, widely understood to be attempting a case against Assange, though as a grand jury it’s all very secretive, and asked to testify again about her 2010 public disclosures. She refused, citing the very secretiveness of the process, and noting that she had already testified fully about the reasons for her disclosures, that they were her choices alone, and not solicited by Assange or anyone else. A judge then ordered her incarcerated until she agrees to testify or until the jury is done, which might be 18 months.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Bees, Cougars and Climate: The Best New Environmental Books of April

      We’ve picked the 17 best eco-books of April 2019, including titles for activists, scientists and eco-friendly kids. Links are to publishers’ websites, and you can also find any of these books at your favorite store or library. Pick the ones that are best for you and then put this new inspiration and information to good use saving the planet.

    • Caroline Lucas and Clive Lewis table Green New Deal Bill

      Labour’s Shadow Treasury Minister Clive Lewis and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas will today table a Private Members’ Bill that would force the Government to enact a ‘Green New Deal’.

      The ‘Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill’ would place duties on ministers to introduce a radical 10-year strategy for public investment designed to decarbonise the economy and eradicate inequality. It would require ministers to empower communities and workers to transition from high-carbon to low and zero-carbon industries, introduce stricter environmental regulations and protect and restore natural habitats.

      Caroline co-founded the UK’s Green New Deal Group 10 years ago, and US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has recently reinvigorated the idea in the US. It takes its inspiration from Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s, which used massive investment in jobs and infrastructure to pull the US out of the Great Depression.

    • Hurricane Michael Debris Made Florida Wildfire Harder to Fight

      A wildfire that broke out in Florida’s Panhandle Saturday that should have been easy to contain was quicker to spread and harder to fight because of debris left over from Hurricane Michael.

      The fire burned around 678 acres over the weekend and forced 20 homes to be evacuated in Bay County, AccuWeather reported. The fire burning near Allanton, Florida was 50 percent contained at only 15 acres Saturday evening when wind caused it to spread to 100 acres within an hour. Winds also pushed it south Sunday, and the Florida Fire Service described it as “stubborn.”

    • WWF Sounds Alarm After 48 Pounds of Plastic Found in Dead Whale

      An 8-meter (26-foot) sperm whale was found dead off Sardinia with 22 kilograms (48.5 pounds) of plastic in its belly, prompting the World Wildlife Foundation to sound an alarm over the dangers of plastic waste in the Mediterranean Sea.

      The environmental group said Monday the garbage recovered from the sperm whale’s stomach included a corrugated tube for electrical works, plastic plates, shopping bags, tangled fishing lines and a washing detergent package with its bar code still legible.

      The female whale beached off the northern coast of Sardinia last week, within the vast Pelagos marine sanctuary that was created as a haven for dolphins, whales and other sea life.

      “It is the first time we have been confronted with an animal with such a huge quantity of garbage,” Cinzia Centelegghe, a biologist with the University of Padova, told the Turin daily La Stampa.

      The exam also determined that the whale was carrying a fetus that had died and was in an advanced state of decomposition. Experts said the mother whale had been unable to digest calamari due to the huge amount of plastic it had ingested, filling two-thirds of its stomach.

    • Pregnant Sperm Whale Found Dead With Nearly 50 Pounds of Plastic in Her Stomach

      A pregnant sperm whale washed up dead on a beach in Sardinia last week with 22 kilograms (approximately 48.5 pounds) of plastic in its stomach. This is the second whale in two weeks to be found dead with plastic in its belly: a male Cuvier’s beaked whale was found in the Philippines after ingesting 88 pounds of plastic bags.

    • Children Are Demanding Dramatic Climate Action. Listen to Them.

      What a time to be alive.

      It’s a time when the industrialization of western settler-colonial culture has geo-engineered the planet to the brink of extinction of even its own species.

      It’s a time when most federal governments are continuing along with a business-as-usual economic model — the same model that is literally killing life on Earth and rendering the planet unlivable.

      It’s a time when this global crisis fails to be consistently reported on with the veracity and urgency it demands.

      And it’s a time when children have taken it upon themselves to do whatever they can to bring awareness to the issue, and plead for adults — any adults, somewhere — to begin to behave responsibly and take the requisite action.

      Even the thought of these kids taking this issue into their hearts, and walking out of classes, and carrying out protests around the world brings inevitable tears to my eyes. As a longtime climate reporter, my sadness around this issue is now combined with a deep drive to do everything in my power to walk alongside these children, and support them, and contribute what I can during this ever-worsening crisis.

    • Rail Travel Is Cleaner Than Driving or Flying, but Will Americans Buy In?

      Transportation represents a large portion — about 29 percent — of U.S. emissions, and the share has been rising in recent years. Rail proponents often argue that investment in trains and public transportation is a key part of making transportation cleaner, and indeed, the Green New Deal calls for greatly expanding high-speed rail.

    • Trump Issues New Presidential Permit for Keystone XL Pipeline

      President Trump signed an order greenlighting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline Friday, a move that circumvents a court’s decision to block a previous federal permit on the long-delayed project.

      The new permit gives owner TransCanada permission to “construct, connect, operate and maintain” the pipeline on U.S. territory. A district judge in Montana last fall ruled that the State Department had not sufficiently considered the environmental impacts of the pipeline and ordered a new environmental review. But Trump’s new order uses presidential power to circumvent the environmental restrictions applied to agencies.

      “By his action today in purporting to authorize construction” and ignoring previous rulings, lawyer Stephan Volker, who represents environmentalists involved in litigation against the pipeline, told the AP, “President Trump has launched a direct assault on our system of governance.”

    • NAACP Reveals Tactics Fossil Fuel Industry Uses to Manipulate Communities of Color

      The fossil fuel industry regularly deploys manipulative and dishonest tactics when engaging with communities of color, often working to co-opt the respect and authority of minority-led groups to serve corporate goals. That is according to a new report, “Fossil Fueled Foolery,” published today by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which outlines the top 10 manipulation tactics that the group’s members and partners routinely observe.

    • How to Win the Fight Against Plastic

      We’re at a reckoning point with plastic waste. Many countries that once accepted our discards are now turning it away. Islands of plastic are growing in the ocean, and it’s being eaten by animals living in the farthest reaches of the planet. The current rate of plastic production is “incongruent to planet Earth,” says Stiv Wilson, director of campaigns for The Story of Stuff Project. And yet industry is planning to ramp up production fueled by the availability of cheap natural gas.

      So what to do? According to Wilson, we need to lift up the voices of those who live in the most affected places. They already know what solutions work best.

      Bringing those voices to the front is at the heart of The Story of Stuff’s new film, he says. But to find those people, they had to travel far and wide. The journey took them to the oilfields of Karnes County, Texas; a pipeline route through western Pennsylvania; the ship channel of Houston; the ghost towns in China that are turning away plastic waste; Jakarta, where plastic pollution is dozens of feet deep; and India, where plastic-burning incinerators spew toxic chemicals into the air.

      We talked with Wilson about the upcoming movie and his journey to produce it.

    • 1,100 Mutilated Dolphins Have Washed Up on French Beaches Since January

      A record number of dolphins have washed up dead and mutilated on French beaches, and scientists don’t know exactly why.

    • As Floodwaters Rise, GOP Lawmakers are Frantically Building Levees of Climate Denial

      When it came to climate change in the great state of Nebraska, spending a whopping $250,000—just one-quarter of a million dollars—on a study for how a flood-prone prairie state could prepare for the impact of the earth’s rising temperatures was simply too big a hill to climb.
      The push for a climate plan in the Cornhusker State to be completed by next year emerged from a legislative committee, but it seemed dead in the water as recently as last month. Even though Nebraska had already experienced both record flooding and drought during the 2010s, some Republican lawmakers questioned the cost. The influential Nebraska Farm Bureau said the climate-change readiness bill “is not a top issue for us.”

      At least until recently, it’s hard to imagine that Nebraska’s Republican governor, Pete Ricketts, would have signed off on the paltry $250K anyway. In first seeking the job in 2014, Ricketts declared: “I believe it is far from clear — despite what the other side is saying—it is far from clear what is going on with our climate.” Just this January, Ricketts openly snubbed the novelist chosen for “2019 One Book, One Nebraska” event because of the author’s activism around climate and related issues like the Keystone XL pipeline.

    • Japan’s ‘Green’ Olympics Exploits SE Asia Rainforests and Orangutan Habitat

      Japan vowed that the 2020 Olympics would be the greenest games in history, and the Tokyo committee’s sustainable sourcing code requires that the timber it uses is legal, planned, and “considerate” towards ecosystems. But nearly 90 percent of the wood used in the construction of facilities and venues was sourced from Malaysia and Indonesia, home to ten percent of the world’s remaining and endangered tropical forests, a breach of the commitment by Olympic organizers to host a sustainable Olympic Games in 2020.

    • Termites show humans how to keep their cool

      When humans were still living in caves termites were constructing tower blocks and tackling the difficult problems of keeping cool and dry in an adverse climate.

      Now that humans, in a warming world, have the task of keeping skyscrapers comfortable and well-ventilated without the use of fossil fuels, scientists are turning to termites for advice. It appears that their architectural skills will help us solve our climate problems.

      Termites live in colonies numbering thousands in inhospitable terrain in towers up to seven metres high. Inside the blocks is a complex social system of kings, queens, soldiers and worker ants living in a system of tunnels and passages, all self-ventilating, self-cooling and self-draining.

  • Finance

    • Why pay transparency alone won’t eliminate the persistent wage gap between men and women

      No matter how you slice the data, women in the U.S. earn a lot less than men.

      A typical woman working full-time makes 81 cents for every dollar a man earns, little more than the 77 cents she got a decade ago. Within careers, it can vary widely, with female physicians and marketing managers earning 71 cents, while female registered nurses are at 92 cents. A university degree doesn’t help, as women with a bachelor’s earn just 74 cents of every college-educated man’s dollar.

      One of the popular solutions proposed for narrowing this persistent gap is pay transparency. There are two rationales for this. First, employers will be less likely to pay women less than men for the same job if salaries are known. Second, if a woman knows how much her male colleagues are earning for doing the same work, she’ll be in a better position to negotiate a higher salary.

      The House passed a bill on March 27 designed to promote equal pay and transparency by, among other things, banning employers from asking applicants about their salary history and preventing them from retaliating against employees who compare wages.

    • How Shadowy Tax Havens Skirt Conservation Efforts

      Dark money, a term usually applied to opaque political donations, is also a serious problem for our planet’s biodiversity. The 2016 release of the Panama papers, hailed as “history’s biggest data leak,” was followed less than two years later by an even larger document dump called the Paradise Papers. These events revealed the secrets of how the rich and well-connected exploit legal loopholes and international tax havens to protect their wealth. But an investigation into the data by Victor Galaz and his colleagues from the Stockholm Resilience Center highlights just how the shadowy corners of the global economy extend into the protein on our plates and the air we breathe.

      The political and economic ramifications of the papers, and tax havens in general, has been relatively well-studied. But Galaz and his team were most interested in the environmental consequences of our opaque global financial system. They used publicly available data from the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and other sources to uncover how secret financial dealings fuel two major conservation threats: overfishing in the world’s oceans and deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon.

      Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a serious cause of declining fish populations worldwide. This illicit industry, accounting for up to $23.5 billion per year, is also a substantial contributor to the global economy — making it ripe for corruption. Galaz and his colleagues found that 70 percent of fishing vessels involved in IUU fishing are registered in tax havens, mainly Belize and Panama. By contrast, just 4 percent of all legally registered fishing vessels originate in tax haven nations.

      Registering a fishing boat in a tax haven isn’t a crime, per se. The problem is that Belize, Panama, and many other tax haven countries are also “flags of convenience” states. These are countries with lax or nonexistent law enforcement, making them attractive to shipowners who want to use their vessel for illegal fishing. A ship registered in a FOC state can easily escape the regulations that prevent environmentally destructive activities, like surpassing catch quotas or taking endangered species. IUU fishing can also have downstream effects on seabird, turtle, and other wildlife populations.

    • Brexit costs UK £600m per week, says Goldman study

      Brexit has cost the UK around £600m every week since the 2016 referendum, according to a report by Goldman Sachs that highlights the economic impact of the uncertainty surrounding Britain’s exit from the EU.

      The investment bank said that Brexit has cost Britain about 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product, compared with a hypothetical “Doppelgänger” economy that did not withstand a Brexit shock. Its estimates suggest that the UK economy has underperformed other advanced economies since mid-2016 as a result.

      Sven Jari Stehn, Goldman economist in London, said the “output losses have been concentrated in investment and private consumption”.

      “The outsized impact on investment suggests that political uncertainty associated with the Brexit process may, indeed, be one of the major sources of the economic cost of Brexit,” he said.

      Goldman’s analysis comes after government plans to exit the EU have been repeatedly knocked back by parliament, increasing the uncertainty over the path of Brexit with the original divorce date of March 29 now pushed back to mid-April.

    • Where in The U.S. Are You Most Likely to Be Audited by the IRS?

      Humphreys County, Mississippi, seems like an odd place for the IRS to go hunting for tax cheats. It’s a rural county in the Mississippi Delta known for its catfish farms, and more than a third of its mostly African American residents are below the poverty line. But according to a new study, it is the most heavily audited county in America.

    • Taxing of Homeless People in Madrid, Spain

      In January 2019, Citizen Truth published an article, written by Will Bacha, reporting that Madrid started taxing the city’s homeless population. According to the article, city officials are claiming that the taxing of homeless has been going on for years for government assistance programs. In Madrid, homeless people can receive “minimum income benefits” through a program titled “Renta Mínima de Inserción,” which directly translates to minimum insertion income. The program requires the applicant to report financial earnings as well as their way of making a living.

      When the government receives each individual report, it then deducts those earnings from the amount of assistance given to each person living on the streets. According to Bacha’s reporting, a major issue of this system is that the government thinks that all homeless people beg on the street, or have an income. Homeless people have been forced to declare an income that they do not make. Luis Saenz, a social worker that works with homeless people in Madrid was quoted in the article saying that when a homeless person does not declare any earnings, the government thinks they are lying.

    • Why Is the Fed Paying So Much Interest to Banks?

      When “Mary Poppins” was made into a movie in 1964, Mr. Banks’ advice to his son was sound. The banks were then paying more than 5% interest on deposits, enough to double young Michael’s investment every 14 years.

      Now, however, the average savings account pays only 0.10% annually—that’s one-tenth of 1%—and many of the country’s biggest banks pay less than that. If you were to put $5,000 in a regular Bank of America savings account (paying 0.01%) today, in a year you would have collected only 50 cents in interest.

      That’s true for most of us, but banks themselves are earning 2.4% on their deposits at the Federal Reserve. These deposits, called “excess reserves,” include the reserves the banks got from our deposits, and on which they are paying almost nothing; and unlike with our deposits, there is no $250,000 cap on the sums banks can stash at the Fed amassing interest. A whopping $1.5 trillion in reserves are now sitting in Fed reserve accounts. The Fed rebates its profits to the government after deducting its costs, and interest paid to banks is one of those costs. That means we, the taxpayers, are paying $36 billion annually to private banks for the privilege of parking their excess reserves at one of the most secure banks in the world—parking them, rather than lending them out.

    • Equal Pay Day is a reminder that you can’t mansplain away the gender pay gap

      April 2nd is Equal Pay Day, a reminder that there is still a significant pay gap between men and women in our country. The date represents how far into 2019 women would have to work to be paid the same amount that men were paid in 2018. On average in 2018, women were paid 22.6 percent less than men, after controlling for race and ethnicity, education, age, and geographic division.

      Even after extensive research has been done to show the gender pay gap exists (and persists), some skeptics refuse to believe the data. This infographic shows some of the most common criticisms of the gender wage gap and rebuts the “mansplainers” with data.

    • Cyber Attacks on UK’s Student Loans Company

      In 2017-2018, the UK Student Loans Company, a public-sector company that aids students with college expenses, reported that cyber criminals had tried to infiltrate their systems 965,369 times. As ComputerWeekly reported, “Cyber criminals used a range of techniques, as well as malware, malicious emails and calls, in attempts to access confidential financial data belonging to students, in massive uptick in attacks in the past year.”

      According to Student Loans Company officials, despite the significant uptick in hacking attempts, just one attack was successful in breaching the system.

    • Cuts to Food Stamps Will Disproportionately Harm LGBTQ People

      While Congress and President Trump renewed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at the end of last year, the Trump administration is now attempting to take away this food assistance for struggling workers and families.

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed a rule in February that would significantly reduce eligibility and spending on SNAP. The administration is seeking these changes despite bipartisan opposition from Congress and despite projections from the USDA that estimate 750,000 adults would lose access to food assistance. The public comment period for the proposed rule closes on April 2.

      SNAP, also known as food stamps, is the nation’s primary nutrition assistance program. SNAP helps put food on the table for more than 40 million low-income individuals, including 27 percent of LGBTQ adults aged 18-44.

      Approximately 2.2 million LGBTQ adults experienced food insecurity in 2014. Food insecurity is defined as not having enough money to afford food for oneself or one’s family at any point during a year. In 2016, LGBTQ families were 2.3 times more likely to participate in SNAP than non-LGBTQ families. One reason for this is employment discrimination, a significant factor that directly contributes to LGBTQ poverty and unemployment rates. The numbers make clear that poverty is a critical LGBTQ issue: LGBTQ families need SNAP.

    • Literally Down in the Dumps, Landfill Dwellers Sleep on Trash and Live to Just 35

      An estimated 15 million people worldwide live and work within landfills — combing through trash every day for items of the slightest value to sell. They make about $3.25 a day and live on average to 35 years old.

    • As U.S. Economy Weakens, Economists Struggle to Predict Next Recession

      Many of the people who completely missed the worst recession since the Great Depression are trying to get out front and tell us about the next one on the way. The big item glowing in their crystal ball is an inversion of the yield curve. There has been an inversion of the yield curve before nearly every prior recession and we have never had an inversion of the yield curve without seeing a recession in the next two years.

      Okay, if you have no idea what an inversion of the yield curve means, it probably means you’re a normal person with better things to do with your time. But for economists, and especially those who monitor financial markets closely, this can be a big deal.

      An inverted yield curve refers to the relationship between shorter- and longer-term interest rates. Typically, the longer-term interest rate — say, the interest rate you would get on a 30-year bond — is higher than what you would get from lending short-term, like buying a three-month U.S. Treasury bill.

      The logic is that if you are locking up your money for a longer period of time, you have to be compensated with a higher interest rate. Therefore, it is generally true that as you get to longer durations — say, a one year bond compared to three-month bond — the interest rate rises. This relationship between interest rates and the duration of the loan is what is known as the “yield curve.”

      We get an inverted yield curve when this pattern of higher interest rates associated with longer-term lending does not hold, as is now the case. For example, on March 27, the interest rate on a three-month Treasury bill was 2.43 percent. The interest rate on a 10-year Treasury bond was just 2.38 percent, 0.05 percentage points lower. This means we have an inverted yield curve.

    • Lyft, Uber, Pinterest: Are internet unicorns really worth billions? [Ed: Companies that lose money yet are being said to be worth billions. A lot of this valuation bubble has led fools to believe GAFAM surveillance army (part of the US surveillance state) are worth trillions.]

      Lyft, the ride-hailing company, sold its shares to the public for the first time, heralding a march of the “unicorns”.
      A stream of these businesses – which are defined as private, venture capital-backed firms worth over $1bn – are set to follow, including Lyft’s rival Uber, online scrapbook company Pinterest and home-sharing site AirBnB.
      And they are attracting some staggering valuations. Uber, for example, could be worth as much as $120bn when it floats.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Ted Cruz’s FEC lawsuit could give special interests more power in federal elections

      Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has sued the FEC in an attempt to overturn rules that limit how much money a candidate can raise to reimburse themselves for campaign loans, Buzzfeed News reported Monday.

      Current rules allow candidates to raise up to $250,000 from donors to repay personal loans to their own campaign. Cruz loaned his Senate campaign $260,000 in 2018, just over the repayment limit, and argues that the FEC rules restrict those who “exercise their constitutional right to express their political views.”

      The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Washington, DC, seeks to scrap a section of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) intended to limit the influence of wealthy candidates. If FEC limits were reversed, a candidate would be free to raise unlimited funds to repay past debts, potentially leading to new campaign finance strategies that could benefit wealthy candidates.

      Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause, told the Center for Responsive Politics the rules would open up campaigns to further special interest influence, calling post-election personal loan repayments “one of the most corrupting forms of money in politics.”

      “The donor that’s trying to buy access and influence, they would much rather buy that access from a current office holder than a candidate who might in the future become an office holder,” Ryan said. “You’re a sure bet once you’ve been elected … you’re not a sure bet heading into the election.”

      Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at Campaign Legal Center, said these contributions “effectively go straight into” the candidate’s pockets. He also noted that Cruz took out a margin loan from Goldman Sachs before loaning money to his own campaign.

    • Trump’s Remorse (on April 1)
    • Fox News’ ’3 Mexican Countries’ Gaffe Perfectly Sums Up Trump’s Policies

      On Sunday morning, an on-screen banner for an episode of “Fox & Friends” displayed “Trump Cuts Aid to 3 Mexican Countries” during a segment on the administration’s cut of hundreds of millions of dollars of promised foreign aid to help Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador deal with their ongoing security crisis.

      Later in the day, Fox News issued an apology and clarified that they knew these nations were part of Central America and not of Mexico. However, the damage was done and the screenshots of the banner had been displayed far and wide among social media circles. Responses ranged from horror to laughter at the geographical mistake. Among Latinos/as, it confirmed that Fox News is not sensitive or knowledgeable of issues important to our community. I am originally from Costa Rica and I laughingly posted on Facebook that little did we know that, as Central Americans, we belonged to Mexico — and to please pass the mescal.

    • Muellergate and the Discreet Lies of the Bourgeoisie

      This cartoon seems to me very apposite. The capacity of the mainstream media repeatedly to promote the myth that Russia caused Clinton’s defeat, while never mentioning what the information was that had been so damaging to Hillary, should be alarming to anybody under the illusion that we have a working “free media”. There are literally hundreds of thousands of mainstream media articles and broadcasts, from every single one of the very biggest names in the Western media, which were predicated on the complete nonsense that Russia had conspired to install Donald Trump as President of the United States.

      I genuinely have never quite understood whether the journalists who wrote this guff believed it, whether they were cynically pumping out propaganda and taking their pay cheque, or whether they just did their “job” and chose to avoid asking themselves whether they were producing truth or lies.

      I suspect the answer varies from journalist to journalist. At the Guardian, for example, I get the impression that Carole Cadwalladr is sufficiently divorced from reality to believe all that she writes. Having done a very good job in investigating the nasty right wing British Establishment tool that was Cambridge Analytica, Cadwalladr became deluded by her own fame and self-importance and decided that her discovery was the key to understanding all of world politics. In her head it explained all the disappointments of Clintonites and Blairites everywhere. She is not so high-minded however as to have refused the blandishments of the Integrity Initiative.

      Luke Harding is in a different category. Harding has become so malleable a tool of the security services it is impossible to believe he is not willingly being used. It would be embarrassing to have written a bestseller called “Collusion”, the entire premiss for which has now been disproven, had Harding not made so much money out of it.

    • Multiple Senators Back Proposals to Abolish the Electoral College

      After two presidential races in the last five in which the victor won the Electoral College but not the popular vote, Americans are reconsidering how they choose their presidents. According to a 2018 survey by the Pew Charitable Trusts, 55% of voters believe the president should be chosen by popular vote. Reflecting that desire, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, is set to announce a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College, The Daily Beast reported Monday.

      The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a Schatz aide told Daily Beast writer Sam Stein.

      Schatz’s proposal comes just days after fellow Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon announced he was introducing legislation to abolish the Electoral College, part of a broader package of electoral form bills, The Hill reported Friday.

      “It’s time to end the undemocratic Electoral College and to ensure a pathway to full voting representation for all American citizens,” Merkley said in a statement.

      The Hill reports that Merkley “also wants to establish a ‘We the People’ commission to develop a proposal to provide voting representation for D.C., Puerto Rico, and the territories of Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.”

    • Israeli Watchdog Says Network of Bots is Stumping for Netanyahu

      An Israeli watchdog group said Monday that it found a network of social media bots disseminating messages in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of next week’s elections.

      Noam Rotem and Yuval Adam, two researchers operating the Big Bots Project, said in a report that they uncovered hundreds of fake accounts spreading messages in support of Netanyahu’s Likud party and smearing his opponents. Likud denied the allegations.

      Adam said his project discovered a network that included a number of real people, along with hundreds of Twitter accounts that appeared to be fake or duplicate.

      “One person might be operating tens or hundreds of accounts at the same time,” he told The Associated Press. “All these accounts are pushing their political agenda, not only that but also inciting hate speech, attacking very specific people who are opposed to their political agenda.”

      He said this appeared to be a violation of Twitter’s terms of use. He said the findings had been forwarded to Twitter in hopes of deactivating the fake accounts. Twitter declined comment.

    • Interview With Journalist Aaron Maté: On The Collapse Of Russiagate Conspiracy Theory

      If you would like to support the show and help keep us going strong, please become a subscriber on our Patreon page.
      Hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola were joined by journalist Aaron Maté to talk about the end of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Mueller was unable to establish that “members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

      Maté, a contributor to The Nation, was one of the few journalists who consistently questioned the Trump-Russia narrative, and he made the rounds this past week to several shows to discuss the death of Russiagate. We’re very grateful that he stopped by “Unauthorized Disclosure.”

      In a piece headlined, “RIP, Russiagate,” and published by The Nation, Maté wrote, “The outcome is no surprise to those who scrutinized the facts as they emerged. Time and again, the available evidence undermined the case for such a conspiracy.”

      “None of the characters presented to us as Russian ‘agents’ or Trump-Kremlin ‘intermediaries’ were shown to be anything of the sort. None of the lies that Trump aides or allies were caught telling pointed us toward the collusion that members of the media and political figures insisted they were hiding,” Maté added. “None of the various pillars of Russiagate—the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting; the fanciful assertions of the Steele dossier; the anonymously sourced media claims, such as Trump campaign members’ having “repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials”—ever led us to damning evidence.

    • Sanders Brings in $18+ Million in First Quarter With Nearly 900,000 Donations Averaging $20

      Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign announced Tuesday that it raised $18.2 million from just under 900,000 individual donations since launching 41 days ago.

      Sanders’ first quarter haul tops all other 2020 Democratic candidates who have reported their fundraising totals. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) raised $12 million in the first quarter, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised $7 million.

      Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, said during a press call that 88 percent of the donations were $200 or less, and the average donation was $20.

      The profession with the most donors to Sanders’ campaign was teachers, according to Shakir.

      In total, 525,000 individuals donated to Sanders’ campaign during the first quarter of 2019.

    • Joe Biden Is a Link to the Past — and Not In a Good Way

      Joe Biden is, in so many ways, a man from a Democratic Party of another time. Yet as he inches closer to a campaign to lead the Democratic Party of 2020, he is suddenly finding himself being asked questions that had lay dormant while he served ably as Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years, questions that get right to the heart of what his party stands for.

      In most of the polls that have been taken of primary voters, Biden comes in first with around a quarter of the vote, in no small part because he is far more familiar than the other candidates (with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders). But like all the other candidates, his long record in office is being reexamined, particularly those parts that look much more problematic from the perspective of 2019 than they did even in 2008.

      There’s his role in writing the harsh 1994 crime bill, his advocacy for banks and credit card companies, his denunciations of busing in the 1970s. And there’s the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which Biden oversaw as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, when Anita Hill was mocked and abused despite the fact that she was the one telling the truth. Biden now says “I wish I could have done something” to make it less awful for Hill, as though he were some sort of bystander. One thing he could have done was allow the other women who were prepared to corroborate Hill’s account to testify. But he didn’t.

    • Kamala Harris’ Calls for Reform at Odds With Past as Prosecutor

      When Kamala Harris made her much-heralded arrival in Washington as California’s first black U.S. senator, she made a curious early decision.

      Within months of her swearing-in, she sponsored a bill urging states to eliminate cash bail, denouncing the system as a scourge on the poor and communities of color.

      That position would become a key part of her criminal justice reform platform. But her choice surprised some bail reform advocates back in California. In her seven years as a district attorney, and then six as attorney general, Harris was absent on the issue, they say. In fact, less than a year earlier, her office defended the cash bail system in a pair of federal court cases, shifting course only weeks before she entered the Senate.

      “For her entire career she used some of the highest money bail amounts in the country to keep people in jail cells and saddle poor families with financial debt,” said Alec Karakatsanis, an attorney who has brought several legal challenges to California’s bail system, “and as soon as she had no influence on that issue practically, she announces she has a different view on it.”

    • “Erin Brockovich of Slovakia” Elected Nation’s First Female President

      Voters in Slovakia elected activist Zuzana Čaputová their first female president over the weekend, delivering a rebuke to right-wing nationalism.

      Politico framed Čaputová’s win as “cause for celebration for pro-EU and democratic forces throughout Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in Brussels.”

      The 45-year-old lawyer and political novice secured 58 percent of the vote in Saturday’s runoff election, easily beating European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, who nabbed just 42 percent of the vote.

      Šefčovič was backed by the ruling Smer-SD party. Čaputová is part of the newly-formed Progressive Slovakia, and her platform calls for justice for all, dignity for the elderly, and environmental protection.

      Čaputová’s lengthy and successful campaign against a toxic waste dump in her home town of Pezinok earned her the moniker the “Erin Brokovich of Slovakia” as well as the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2016.

    • ‘Erin Brockovich of Slovakia’ Becomes Slovakia’s First Female President

      Zuzana Caputova, a lawyer and environmental activist whose campaign against a toxic waste dump earned her the nickname the “Erin Brockovich of Slovakia,” was elected the country’s first female president on Saturday, NPR reported.

    • ‘Massive Win for the Environment’: New York State Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags

      New York’s legislation, “part of the Transportation, Economic Development, and Environmental Conservation budget bill, passed in the Assembly 100 to 42, and Senate 39 to 22,” Bloomberg Environment reported Sunday, citing unofficial vote tallies.

      Beginning March 1, 2020, grocery stores, retailers, and superstores will no longer be allowed to dispense plastic bags to customers. Per Bloomberg, “It does not affect bags used for restaurant carryout orders, those used to package things like raw meat or produce, or provided by pharmacies to carry prescription drugs.”

      The legislation, according to a statement from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, “allows counties and cities to opt in to a five-cent fee on paper bags, with 40 percent of the revenue supporting local programs to buy reusable bags for low and fixed income consumers, and 60 percent of the revenue supporting programs in the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.”

      State residents with low incomes who receive assistance from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—often called food stamps—or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will be exempt from the fee.

      Cuomo introduced a bill to ban plastic bags last year, after blocking New York City’s proposed five-cent fee on them in 2017, which infuriated city leaders and environmentalists. The governor said in Albany on Sunday that he is “very excited” about the new legislation, which he called “long overdue.”

    • “The More Effective Evil”

      The old adage needs to be updated. It should now read as follows.
      Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me scores and scores of times over decade after decade, I must be a democrat and a republican.

      A few years back, when Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford made the accurate assessment that Barrack Obama was the “more effective evil” he was underestimating. The problem remains that by saying that Obama was the more effective evil (which he was in comparison to the more blatant republican candidate evil) people have been assuming that Obama was someone who was a bigger fraud than the rest of the Democrats. This assumption needs to be abandoned and the Democrats as a whole party truly deserve to be labelled the more effective evil.

      Those who identify as Democrats, whether in an elected position or just as a participating lever in the voting booth, are foolish participants in a predatory fraudulence. The idea that individual elected officials(sic) are blameworthy while the stupidity and/or arrogant complacency of those who put them in office is just a mistake is on the same level as a lazy child claiming that a dog ate their homework. To identify as a democrat or a republican is the same stupidity which prioritizes money over justice and the environment. When that paragon of disingenuousness Nancy Pelosi dismissed a student’s concerns about the debilitating effects of privatized corporate domination of society with the words,

      “We’re capitalists. That’s just the way it is”

    • Los Angeles Diary: The Politics of Secular Faith

      t’s raining in Los Angeles. I sit inside of Antigua’s coffee in Cypress Park, where the motto is “community, progress, sustainable”. It is a phenomenal place to sit and have tea. Today, I order the black jaguar, a black tea blend that needn’t any milk to be creamy, delicious. I generally drink my tea with oat milk, which for some time was impossible to get in Los Angeles. To my side, community organizers, like myself, speak about an employee of Community Coalition, a community organizing group in South LA (South Central). They wonder if they are all friends with her.

      The rain has stopped. The sun has come out. Those minutes of rain, intense and pulsed by the shop’s rock and roll playlist, were pure joy. What’s it about this city, specifically living in this city, that makes rain so enjoyable. It may be because there’s a hint of positive destruction as if the loud and obvious domination going on in this city has begun to end with rain when it takes oversight, smell, taste, and thought.

      Martin Hagglund’s book “This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom” is on my mind and in front of me, digitally. According to Hagglund, “a secular faith seeks to postpone death and improve the conditions of life”. Socialism instead of religion is how a Vice.com writer presented the book. I’m reading Hagglund’s book as something close to Spinoza’s except Hagglund prescribes freedom in Democratic Socialism. As a member of DSA LA, Hagglund’s analysis and recommendation for democratic socialism hits home. However, as my mind during the rain taught me, I, like many humans, feel faith in pure destruction, and it being the beginning of new modes of production and social relations.

      According to Samir Amin in the book “Eurocentrism”, the idea of imminent justice was invented by the Egyptians, the same idea that was applied to govern Europe which shared a crucial similarity to Egypt: a slave mode of production. This slave mode of production hardly existed in Africa as per Walter Rodney’s book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”, where slavery had to do with trading slaves to the Arab world and then to Europe, and so was not a universal phenomenon. This idea of imminent justice was developed and flourished in the antiquities and in Middle Ages Europe, before the days of radical bourgeois action, proto-socialism and socialism, and the enlightenment, which coincided with the end of domination of feudalism and the birth of capitalism, as Water Rodney discusses in the same book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” It continued to flourish with the atheism of revolutionaries. Religion, in the west, and in the rest of the world, has been a notorious terrain and tool of domination, using this idea of imminent justice for political and economic power.

    • Why Ain’t We Peculiar? Anarchist Benefits of A “Neo-Parochialism”

      Under the new conditions (i.e., of socialism) Individualism will be far freer, finer, and far more intensified than it is now. I am not talking of the great imaginatively-realised individualism of [the great poets.] but of the great actual Individualism latent and potential in mankind generally. Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism(1891)

      When one of [Christ’s] followers asked leave to go and bury his father, “let the dead bury the dead” was his terrible answer. He would allow no claim whatsoever to be made on personality…he who would lead a Christ-like life is he who is perfectly and absolutely himself. He may be a great poet, or a great man of science; or a young student at a University, or one who watches sheep upon a moor; or a maker of dramas, like Shakespeare, or a thinker about God, like Spinoza; or a child who plays in a garden, or a fisherman who throws his nets into the sea. It does not matter what he is as long as he realizes the perfection of the soul that is within him….There is no one type for man. There are as many perfections as there are imperfect men. And while to the claims of charity a man may yield and yet be free, to the claims of conformity no man may yield and remain free at all. Ibid

      As liberals are busy portraying themselves as the good guys, pro-immigrant, defenders of the rights of Muslims and Hispanics, etc., perhaps it is time, at last, to ask how that can be done by those who will not be “others” themselves? The “neutral/neutered” white liberal identifying with the rights of different, minority others, but unable and having no time to answer Who Am I? has “de-evolved,” in the historical abandonment, one-by-one, of the bases of culture, including in-place, intergenerational family, religion, and stable, mutually dependent, community that educates its young according to its own, sometimes oppressively narrow, values. It has replaced these human elements with “mind-broadening” knowledge from TV, NPR, Internet and qualified print sources of information, just as my mother replaced her grandmother’s knowledge of childrearing with a paperback by Dr. Spock. This exchange has made liberals dangerous free-floaters above the lived terrain of human identity that they are obsessed with. In my suburban 1950’s mother’s case, being solely responsible for most of the early parenting, driven by the fear of “not knowing” something crucial that could lead to her making some horrible mistake, she could relax under Spock’s certified (best-seller) expertise. Her confidence placed in Spock and in modernism generally, she never imagined missing the wisdom of the old women, the “uncertified” knowing of a community among whom, importantly, she would not have been left alone with such fraught decisions.

    • ‘Time to Act’: Nationwide Protests Planned If Barr Fails to Release Full Mueller Report By Tonight

      “We are calling for a National Day of Action on Thursday, April 4, to demand that Attorney General William Barr #ReleaseTheReport if he fails to meet the deadline set by congressional leaders of Tuesday, April 2,” the Trump Is Not Above the Law coalition said late Monday.

      “Barr has offered an alternate timeline for a redacted version of the report,” the coalition continued, “but we deserve the full report and Congressional leaders and the American people expect it now.”

    • Mueller, Trump and Governance

      Now that the Mueller investigation is over, can the elected officials of the United States government start governing? This writer understands that these august personages all believe that it isn’t governing that is their role, but grandstanding, but couldn’t a little time be allocated for the former?

      Let’s look at a few things that might be considered.

      International Law: President Donald Trump, who, according to the Mueller report, is neither accused nor exonerated, has just declared U.S. support for the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights. This isn’t all that surprising, since he has shown his complete disdain for international law. His current National Security Advisor has said that international law exists solely to constrain U.S. power (not true, of course, but anything that constrains U.S. power must be good). Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF); he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, all in violation of international law. Every one of these moves decreases world security and threatens the future of the planet. Couldn’t measures be taken to bring the United States back into conformity with international law?

      Income Inequality: When it comes to income inequality, the U.S. has no peer. One recent study showed that U.S. citizens in the top 10% bracket earn nine times as much as the remaining 90%. Since at least the Reagan years, the very rich have been getting richer as the poor and middle-class lose ground. Isn’t that worth taking a look at?

      Incarceration: The U.S. has spent over a trillion dollars on its ‘war’ on drugs, yet the level of drug abuse has remained the same since that ‘war’ was ‘declared’ during the Nixon years. This ‘war’ is seen as one of the reasons why the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country on the planet, with 724 people per 100,000 imprisoned. Iran, which Trump is always vilifying, has a rate far lower, with 284 people per 100,000 imprisoned, just slightly more than Trump’s beloved ‘democracy,’ Israel, with 236 per 100,000. Couldn’t Congress possibly review the way this money has been spent over the decades, and the negative consequences, and possibly seek to rectify the situation?

    • Duma to consider easing requirement for regional candidates to collect signatures from incumbent legislators

      Two State Duma deputies from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Mikhail Degtiarev and Alexey Didenko, have proposed a bill that would decrease the so-called “municipal filter” for regional elections throughout the country. Currently, candidates who run for the highest office in their regional government must collect signatures from between 5 percent and 10 percent of their local legislative deputies depending on the region. The new bill proposes limiting that number to a maximum of 5 percent.

    • Donald Trump, agent of chaos: His only strategy is to create a crisis and claim to fix it

      “I alone can fix it.”

      Donald Trump’s declaration during his nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in 2016 was ostensibly meant to sell the political neophyte as uniquely situated to solve the intransigence that has plagued both parties. But in practice, another Trump tagline — “I love chaos” — has served as the president’s prevalent guidance since his party took huge losses in the midterms.

      First, he needlessly shut down the federal government to make a case for his border wall. Now, unhappy with the accelerating rate of illegal border crossings, Trump is threatening to shut down all legal border crossings, a move that poses a major threat to the U.S. and Mexican economies.

      The administration argues that Central American migrants, apparently undeterred by years of tough talk by Trump, continue to flood the U.S.-Mexico border and have caused an increase of apprehension at the border by more than 30 percent year over year. But those migrants being detained are coming here to seek legal asylum, and would not have been detained under any other presidential administration until Trump’s zero-tolerance policy led to the creation of internment camps in Texas.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Web Hosting Companies Shut Down a Series of Neo-Nazi Websites

      Major online neo-Nazi meeting grounds are being nuked by hosting sites that want nothing to do with connections to militant white nationalists. Meanwhile, several of them have regrouped on Twitter.

    • Singapore Isn’t Waiting for Facebook to Crack Down on Fake News

      The new measures will require online sites to show corrections to false or misleading claims and take down falsehoods, according to a bill put forward in Parliament on Monday by the government. Account restriction directions can be issued to a platform to disable a fake account or bot that spreads a falsehood undermining the public interest, the government said in parliament. These directions can be appealed in a court.

      The bill also intends to impose criminal sanctions — including fines of up to S$1 million ($740,000) and 10 years in prison — against those who spread an online falsehood with intent to prejudice the public interest, and those who make a bot to spread an online falsehood. The sanctions will also apply to anyone providing services for the purpose of spreading falsehoods in return for a reward.

    • Singapore Plans Law to Fight False News, but Critics Fear Repression

      Singapore introduced draft legislation on Monday that it said would combat false or misleading information on the internet, but critics said the measure could be used as a cudgel against the government’s critics.

      The legislation, called the Protection From Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, would require websites to run corrections alongside “online falsehoods” and would “cut off profits” of sites that spread misinformation, among other measures, according to the Ministry of Law.

      The bill is widely expected to become law in the coming weeks because it has support from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s People’s Action Party, which has a supermajority in Parliament.

    • Graffiti about Putin triggers first enforcement of Russia’s new law banning online anti-government insults

      Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has reportedly applied a new law that penalizes disrespecting the Russian government online for the first time. The occasion for the move was a news story about graffiti that used offensive language to describe President Vladimir Putin, according to TJournal.

      On March 31 and April 1, the story circulated among several media outlets in the city of Yaroslavl after graffiti appeared on the columns lining the regional Internal Affairs Ministry building there. Yarkub reported that the graffiti read Putin pidor, or “Putin is a fag.”

    • The Government’s System of Censoring Its Former Employees Is Unconstitutional

      Our lawsuit argues that the government’s review process for writings by millions of former government employees violates the First Amendment.
      Individuals don’t lose their First Amendment rights by entering into government service. By now, that is black letter law. You wouldn’t know this, though, from the system of lifelong censorship that the government imposes on former intelligence agency employees and military personnel.

      Under this system, known as “prepublication review,” millions of former public servants must submit their writing to the government for review prior to publication. And the government can censor their words with very few constraints. The review process frequently results in delays, sometimes severe ones, that prevent the people who know the most about how the government actually works from contributing to critical public debates. And the associated frustrations often cause authors to self-censor or sit out debates entirely.

      On Tuesday, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the system, in its current form, on behalf of five former intelligence agency employees and military personnel.

      Originally, prepublication review affected a small number of former government employees, mostly those who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency and had access to the nation’s most sensitive secrets. In the late 1970s, one CIA employee challenged the agency’s prepublication review regime on First Amendment grounds, but the Supreme Court dismissed his claim — without briefing or a hearing on the merits of the claim — in a single footnote.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Mark Zuckerberg Does Not Speak for the Internet

      Let’s start with his first idea: a “standardized approach” to “harmful content” online, whereby third-party bodies – let’s call them speech police—decide what content is OK and what is not, and companies are required to “build systems” to shut down as much of the latter category as possible. Facebook is already inviting government regulators to help it do so on its own platform—and apparently thinks everyone else should do the same.

      There are at least four fundamental problems with this idea.

      First, it is extremely difficult to define “harmful content,” much less implement standards consistently and fairly for billions of users, across the entire spectrum of contemporary thought and belief. Mark Zuckerberg’s own company’s efforts to do so show how fraught that is.

      All of the major platforms already set forth rules for their users. They tend to be complex, covering everything from terrorism and hate speech to copyright and impersonation. Most platforms use a version of community reporting. Violations of these rules can prompt takedowns and account suspensions or closures. And we have well over a decade of evidence about how these rules are used and misused.

      If governments and regulators want to explore new rules for the Internet, Mark Zuckerberg is the last person they should ask for advice.

    • ‘Isolation’ of Russian Internet may require providers to use government-approved encryption techniques [Ed: The term "government-approved" means with back doors]

      The State Duma committee on information policy is developing a new modification to current plans to isolate Russian Internet traffic from the World Wide Web, according to RBC. If the committee’s proposal moves past the development stage and is ultimately approved, both state-owned information systems and private Internet service providers will be required to employ encryption technology that is both produced in Russia and approved by the Russian federal government.

    • Surveillance Capitalism Is Destroying Our Freedom and Our Intimacy

      For Google, Facebook, Twitter and their ilk, ad revenues are sacred. As Shoshana Zuboff observes in her new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, users are not tech companies’ customers — the businesses who purchase ads are. And those ads derive from data invasively captured, to which the tech behemoths have unilaterally laid claim. The data is secret, and so are the behavioral predictions based on it. With the ads — as with the novel ways of invading privacy afforded by new technologies — something new is going on; because although advertising has been around for generations, in the twenty-first century it suddenly exploded into a titanic fountain of wealth for tech companies.

      How did this happen? And why is the machinery that works that fountain kept so secret? The answers lie in Zuboff’s book, and they are alarming. Late-stage capitalism has birthed a monster called surveillance capitalism, which is seeking to do to human nature what the old industrial variety of capitalism did to the earth.

      Users are surveillance capitalists’ raw materials. By invading users’ privacy — your searches, emails, texts, tweets, likes, online shopping, online friends, contacts, your entire activity on your phone and computer, your face, your voice — they claim data. This is what Zuboff calls Google and Facebook’s proprietary surplus. They have fantastic quantities of information on billions of users, which they can render into ads tailored to individuals. Their customers are the businesses who advertise, not you — you are the raw material. And the invasiveness does not stop there.

      Tech companies have moved from snatching data in the virtual world to grabbing it in the real world, mining location data from phones, personal data from microphones in smart surveillance TVs and information from home computer assistants and soon, Zuboff reports, self-driving cars. Even toys spy: The Cayla doll was deemed an illegal surveillance device and banned in 2017 by Germany’s Federal Network Agency. Tech companies have also invested in wearable devices that constantly harvest data on peoples’ likes, spending, movement and social life.

      Other industries have jumped on the surveillance capital bandwagon. Airline companies now can spy on passengers with cameras on the backs of airplane seats. According to a recent article in the British Independent, American, United and Singapore Airlines “have new seatback entertainment systems that include cameras. They could also be on planes used by other carriers.” The ostensible reason is to offer “seat-to-seat video conferencing.” The three airlines reported that they have not activated the cameras, and American Airlines told the Independent that “cameras are a standard feature on many in-flight entertainment systems used by multiple airlines.” The Independent reported that according to the airlines, “manufacturers embedded [the cameras] in the entertainment systems.” The main manufacturer, Panasonic, did not respond to the publication’s queries.

    • Life after GDPR: the trials and tribulations of domain name enforcement

      Nearly a year after the EU implemented the General Data Protection Regulation, Adobe, Amazon and others discuss the challenges for brands seeking to enforce their trademark rights in domain names

    • Thousands of bystanders caught in Toronto police sweep of cellphone data

      Toronto police and RCMP officers deploying controversial “Stingray” surveillance technology over a two-month period swept up identifying cellphone data on more than 20,000 bystanders at malls, public parks and even a children’s toy store.

      As police sought cellphone data for 11 suspects in a 2014 investigation, they deployed a Stingray — also known as an IMSI catcher — at three dozen locations, including the middle of Yorkville, at the Dufferin Mall, at Vaughan Mills Mall, near Trinity Bellwoods Park, near Kensington Market, and at a Toys ‘R’ Us store in Richmond Hill.

    • Court Documents Show Canadian Law Enforcement Operated Stingrays Indiscriminately, Sweeping Up Thousands Of Innocent Phone Owners

      These sweeps occurred years before either law enforcement agency admitted to possessing and deploying Stingray devices. In prior years, Canadian prosecutors dropped charges rather than discuss the devices in open court. This case must have been too big to let go. It involved 50 raids, 112 arrests, and a plethora of charges ranging from gun possession to murder.

      Multiple defendants are now challenging the evidence derived from the multiple Stingray deployments, arguing that it was gathered unlawfully. The courts may decide to see it the defendants’ way, but it’s unlikely these deployments broke the agencies’ own policies. Pretty much every law enforcement agency anywhere that has acquired a Stingray has deployed first and developed policies after their Stingray use could no longer be kept secret.

    • With facial recognition, shoplifting may get you banned in places you’ve never been

      At my bodega down the block, photos of shoplifters sometimes litter the windows, a warning to would-be thieves that they’re being watched.

      Those unofficial wanted posters come and go, as incidents fade from the owner’s memory.

      But with facial recognition, getting caught in one store could mean a digital record of your face is shared across the country. Stores are already using the technology for security purposes and can share that data — meaning that if one store considers you a threat, every business in that network could come to the same conclusion.

      One mistake could mean never being able to shop again.

    • Facial Recognition Tech Now Capable Of Getting You Kicked Out Of The Mall

      Facial recognition tech continues it kudzu-like growth. It’s not just government contractors providing tech for law enforcement and security agencies. It’s also making inroads in the private sector — a place where there’s even less oversight of its use.

      Cameras everywhere have long been part of retailers’ operations. But retailers are now adding third party facial recognition software to the mix, further increasing the chance innocent people will be punished for software screw-ups.

    • Faulty Court Ruling That Threatens to Gut Groundbreaking Privacy Statute CalECPA Must Be Reversed

      EFF and the ACLU of Northern California urged a California appeals court last week to reverse a judge’s wrongheaded and dangerous ruling that threatens the critical privacy protections afforded by the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA), the most robust digital privacy measure in the country.

      The law, which garnered bipartisan support, requires police to obtain a warrant from a neutral judge to search stored communications such as email, text messages, location data, or documents, whether they are on an electronic device or in the cloud. Warrants must describe in detail the information to be seized, specifying time periods for the search, target individuals or accounts, and the type of information sought. Anything collected that’s not relevant to what’s described in the warrant can’t be reviewed, used, or disclosed, and must be sealed. These requirements are more specific and extensive than what’s currently required by the Fourth Amendment. California law enforcement agencies said CalECPA struck the correct balance between their need to obtain electronic communication to investigate criminal activities and the privacy interests people have over their email, texts, documents, and other digital communications.

    • Mark Zuckerberg To Congress: Okay, Fine, Please Regulate Me And Lock In My Dominant Market Position

      Let’s get a few things out of the way: Facebook deserves much of the crap it’s gotten over the past few years. Indifference to serious problems, bad management, and worse practices have put it at the receiving end of a ton of bad press.

      At the same time, however, the company’s near total inability to do the right things means that when it actually does try to do the right things (like increasing accountability, transparency, and due process in its content moderation practices), people freak out and attack the company. Sometimes people will automatically suspect the worst possible motives. Other times, they’ll completely twist what is being proposed into something else. And sometimes their expectations just aren’t reasonable. (Of course, sometimes people will be correct that Facebook is just fucking things up again.)

      It makes sense that the company may be frustrated by the impossible position it finds itself in, where any solution it trots out gets the company attacked, even when it might actually be a good idea. But that does not mean it should just throw in the towel. Yet it’s difficult not to read Mark Zuckerburg’s new op-ed in the Washington Post (possible paywall) as an exasperated throwing up of his hands, as if to say, “fine, fuck it, no one likes what we’re doing, so here, government, you take over.”

    • LinkedIn is becoming China’s go-to platform for recruiting foreign spies

      Beijing typically does not distinguish espionage directed against governments from espionage directed against commercial targets, according to research published in 2018 by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonpartisan think tank. Areas of interest include artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality and financial technology, all sectors where China aims to achieve technological dominance, according to FDD.

    • Some of Mark Zuckerberg’s old Facebook posts have disappeared

      CNET visited Zuckerberg’s Facebook profile and verified that posts from 2007 and 2008 aren’t available.

      Zuckerberg’s comments have gone missing before.

    • Years of Mark Zuckerberg’s old Facebook posts have vanished. The company says it ‘mistakenly deleted’ them.

      These disappearances, along with other changes Facebook has made to how it saves its archive of announcements and blog posts, make it much harder to parse the social network’s historical record. This makes it far more difficult to hold the company, and Zuckerberg himself, accountable to past statements – particularly during a period of intense scrutiny of the company in the wake of a string of scandals.

      The very nature of the issue means it is extremely challenging to make a full accounting of what exactly what has gone missing over the years. The spokesperson said they didn’t know how many posts in total were deleted.

    • Years of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Posts Disappeared

      Facebook says all of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s posts from 2007 and 2008 were mistakenly deleted due to technical errors. The company says the posts were wiped out a few years ago and the work required to restore them was extensive and might not have worked. The deleted posts were first reported by Business Insider. “A few years ago some of Mark’s posts were mistakenly deleted due to technical errors. The work required to restore them would have been extensive and not guaranteed to be successful so we didn’t do it,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. This is not the first time Zuckerberg’s comments have gone missing. In April 2018, messages the CEO sent to other people disappeared from their Messenger inboxes. Facebook had removed the CEO’s messages for security reasons, applying a self-delete function similar to Snapchat.

    • Several Decade-old Posts have Vanished from Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Profile!

      This is not the first time that content posted by Zuckerberg has gone missing as various comments of his have occasionally disappeared as well. In addition to that, a number of messages sent by him to other people vanished from the receivers’ inboxes, last April. They were deleted due to security reasons by using the self-delete option.

    • Why I Replaced Disqus and You Should Too

      Here’s the thing: I’ve always known that using Disqus came at the cost of some page bloat. I’ve written about web performance before and generally strive to make my pages fast, but I just assumed having Disqus was worth the bit of extra weight. My logic: If Disqus were really so bloated, everyone would’ve migrated away from them by now. Surely Disqus prioritizes keeping their payload reasonably small, right?

      I was wrong. Last week, I finally did what I should’ve done at the beginning: benchmark it myself. Here are my results (benchmarked on my Webpack post):

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Internal files reveal how US law enforcement classes anti-fascists as fascists, and actual fascists as “anti-anti-fascists”

      RICOC appears to have taken Trump’s “very good people on both sides” doctrine to heart, from the report’s title (“Antifa/Anti-antifa: Violence in the Streets”) and through its conclusions, which claims that white supremacists are animated by an opposition to antifa, ignoring the movement’s actual genocidal ambition to use ethnic cleansing to establish a “white homeland.”

      The framing paints antifa as the antagonists, and the white supremacist terrorists — one of whom committed a brutal murder that day — as beset by the antifa activists. It quotes a newspaper editorial from that branded the antifa protesters as terrorists.

    • In An Increasingly Polarized America, Is It Possible To Be Civil On Social Media?

      All this month NPR is looking into civility in America. And if you’ve spent any time on social media, you know that it’s the opposite of a civil space. Regular conversations often turn into public, insult-laden brawls, filled with low-blows and vile threats.

      [...]

      There’s a growing body of scientific research that addresses the pleasure and anxiety both men are describing. It suggests social media can have addictive qualities, just like a drug or a gambling habit.

    • The South Dakota Legislature Has Invented a New Legal Term to Target Pipeline Protesters

      The government of South Dakota has made it very clear that it does not like people who protest the Keystone XL pipeline. The state’s governor has dismissed them as “out-of-staters who come in to disrupt.” And other officials have similarly leveraged long-debunked and harmful tropes, mischaracterizing those speaking out as “paid protesters.”

      In this atmosphere, South Dakota enacted a new law last week, the Riot Boosting Act. The law seeks to suppress protests before they even start and prohibits people from engaging in full-throated advocacy. It does so by creating a new, ambiguous term: “riot boosting.”

      If you’re wondering what that means, so is everyone else, including those who want to speak out. And that’s a big problem.

      The new law gives the state the authority to sue individuals and organizations for “riot boosting,” but it does not clearly describe what speech or conduct it considers to be “riot boosting.” The law is written so broadly that even a tweet encouraging activists to “Join a protest to stop the pipeline and give it all you’ve got!” could be interpreted as “riot-boosting” should a fight break out at the protest. The law joins two existing state criminal laws that also target such speech, meaning that advocacy could now result in up to 25 years of prison time, fines, or civil penalties — or a combination of all three.

    • Trump Team Overruled 25 Security Clearance Denials, Worker Alleges

      A career official in the White House security office says dozens of people in President Donald Trump’s administration were granted security clearances despite “disqualifying issues” in their backgrounds, including concerns about foreign influence, drug use and criminal conduct.

      Tricia Newbold, an 18-year government employee who oversaw the issuance of clearances for some senior White House aides, says she compiled a list of at least 25 officials who were initially denied security clearances last year but then had those denials overruled by senior administration officials.

      The allegations were detailed in a letter and memo released Monday by Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The documents, which are based on Newbold’s March 23 private committee interview, don’t identify the officials on the list but say they include “two current senior White House officials, as well as contractors and individuals” in different parts of the Executive Office of the President.

    • Whistleblower: Trump Admin. Overruled Dozens of Security Clearance Denials

      A White House whistleblower says the Trump administration cast aside “the best interest of national security” when it overturned dozens of security clearance application denials made by career officials.

      The allegation was made by current White House employee Tricia Newbold—a security specialist whose 18 years in government have been spent under Democratic and Republican administrations alike—and was publicized in a letter (pdf) sent Monday from House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

    • Ongoing protests in Ingushetia: From the latest news to the very beginning

      Since October 2018, protesters in the Russian federal subject of Ingushetia have taken to the streets to object to their government’s attempts to give up territory to the neighboring republic of Chechnya. In a broader Russian political environment that has favored the Chechen government and accorded considerably less respect to protesters, residents of Ingushetia have been remarkably persistent in their demands. Here, Meduza reviews the Caucasian republic’s current political conflict in reverse chronological order.

    • Millions Detained in China and No Word from the Government

      On Friday, January 11, 2019, the Guardian’s Lily Kuo reported that Muslim minorities are being held captive in internment camps in the Xinjiang region of China. As people gather outside to see their loved ones, many prisoners are kept in the camps between months and years before receiving a trial, but according to Adil Awut, a former citizen of Hotan City, “If you go into a concentration camp in Luopu, you never come out.” Although the Chinese government has defended their policies concerning internment camps and insists they are peaceful and benign, the United Nations demanded direct access to the camps in December 2018. This occurred following reports that 1.1 million ethnic minorities were being detained in internment camps officially known as “Vocational Training Centers.” Nevertheless, local authorities in Luopu County are expanding the camps through intimidation, force, and bribery which has lead citizens to urge Muslim visitors to avoid Luopo. The Chinese government’s domestic security expenses doubled in 2017 while Luopu County exceeded its budget by 300 percent, leading some to believe that the Chinese government cannot afford to fund the camps.

    • Google Urged to Boot ‘Anti-LGBTQ and Anti-Immigrant’ Right-Winger From AI Ethics Council

      An open petition launched by Google employees Monday—which has garnered more than 800 signatures—decries James as “vocally anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-immigrant.” It demands her immediate dismissal from Google’s Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC), which weighs in on the “responsible development” of artificial intelligence, or AI.

      Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president for global affairs, announced the formation of ATEAC and the council’s members in a blog post last week.

      “This group will consider some of Google’s most complex challenges that arise under our AI Principles,” Walker explained, “like facial recognition and fairness in machine learning, providing diverse perspectives to inform our work.”

    • Deprived Of Scholarship Due to YouTube Channel, College Athlete Takes School to Court

      Donald De La Haye had an athletic scholarship to the University of Central Florida until his YouTube channel “Deestroying” got very popular. De La Haye had over 90,000 subscribers and was earning between $2,000 and $31,000 a month from his YouTube channel when UCF and the National Collegiate Athletic Association intervened. NCAA rules restrict student-athletes from earning money based on their status as collegiate athletes.

      The University of Central Florida tried to negotiate with the NCAA since De La Haye sent the money he made to his family in Costa Rica. The NCAA allowed De La Haye to continue to monetize his account but required that he stop referencing his status as a student-athlete and remove any videos where he did so—or he could choose to no longer monetize his account.

    • “Feckless” Trump and the Immigration Maelstrom

      In January, I was in Washington for a couple of days and early on a Saturday morning took a Lyft car from Capitol Hill to Georgetown for a meeting with friends. The driver and I began to talk.

      I know, I know, the chat with the Uber or Lyft driver has become kind of a cliché in this kind of piece but hear me out.

      He was from Liberia, and as a child had fled that country with his grandmother during the civil wars there, vicious fighting that killed an estimated 200,000 and sent a million more to refugee camps in Guinea, Ghana and other African nations.

      Several thousand, perhaps as many as 34,000, came to the United States, protected at first during George H. W. Bush’s administration by an order of temporary protected status (TPS). Refugees from other troubled nations, including El Salvador, Honduras, Sudan, Haiti and Nepal have received the TPS designation as well.

      In 1999, when TPS for Liberians expired, President Bill Clinton set up Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) status instead, stating that while “conditions have improved… the political and economic situation [in Liberia] continues to be fragile.” The refugees could stay.

      The Lyft driver had worked hard to make a life here. He’d just left a dangerous yet lucrative job working at an electric arc furnace that at 9,000 degrees melted down automobiles for the steel and aluminum – but then he’d done some reading and became scared about the toxins he was breathing in. Now he was taking classes and driving to make ends meet.

    • ‘Trump’s Brand Is Crisis’: Progressives, Dems, and Pope Sound Alarm Over Threat to Close Border

      President Donald Trump’s threat to close the southern border was met with criticism and concern from politicians, activists, the public—and Pope Francis.

      Trump is taking the action, he said, because of what he believes is a crisis in drug smuggling and human trafficking.

      In remarks to reporters Sunday on the papal plane en route from Morocco to Rome, Pope Francis said that Trump—and people who think the way the U.S. president does about migrants—are ultimately trapping themselves in an inhumane situation.

      “Builders of walls, be they made of razor wire or bricks, will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build,” the pope said.

    • ACLU ‘All In’ on Push for Civil Liberties in 2020 Election

      The ACLU is putting $30 million into the 2020 election cycle to promote a vision of civil liberties that will require candidates running for president to support four broad planks in order to receive the organization’s support.

      The civil liberties group is pushing candidates on a campaign called “Rights for All,” which focuses on reproductive freedom, voting rights, criminal justice reform, and immigrant justice, it announced Sunday evening in an event livestreamed on YouTube.

      The organization said in a statement announcing the initiative that the quartet of polices was the “minimum” commitment the group was asking candidates to commit to.

    • Another California City Allowed Police To Destroy Misconduct Records Ahead Of New Transparency Law

      California law enforcement agencies knew the reckoning was coming. A new law took effect at the beginning of this year, opening up records of police misconduct and use of force to the public for the first time. Some decided to engage in preemptive legal challenges. Some quietly complied. Some decided to ignore the law’s author and pretend it didn’t apply to any record created before 2019.

      A couple of law enforcement agencies got really proactive and just started destroying records before the public could get its hands on them. The Inglewood PD got the green light from the city government to destroy hundreds of records subject to the new transparency law. The city and the PD claimed this was just regular, periodic housecleaning. But the timing seemed ultra-suspicious, given that it happened only days before the law took effect. Not that it matters. The records are gone and all the bad press in the world isn’t going to bring them back.

      KQED brings us some more bad press targeting a police department. And, again, it’s not going to unshred the destroyed records. But it is important to call out the hugely disingenuous actions of the Fremont Police Department, which chose to greet the impending transparency with a final blast of opacity.

    • Egypt’s Brutal Crackdown on Workers’ Rights

      Khaled Abol Naga – an outspoken critic of the Egyptian government – stands accused of treason ( AFP )It was comical, farcical, droll. An actor’s dream if you were going to put the drama on stage or screen – but the three principal characters were actors themselves. The lead player, as usual in Egypt, was His Excellency Field Marshal President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and the theme of this theatrical production was an old and familiar one: the power of trade unions and the fear of real revolution.

      But we’ll start with the latest act, virtually ignored in the west where freedom of speech, workers’ rights and liberty are “precious”, “sacrosanct”, “close to our hearts”. This week, two prominent Egyptian actors, Amr Waked and Khaled Abol Naga, were expelled from the government-controlled Egyptian actors’ union for “treachery”. They were condemned for “betraying the nation” and working for “the agenda of conspirators against Egypt’s security and stability”. The head of the union told AFP that the two men “will no longer be allowed to act in Egypt”.

      Although Waked won the best actor award at the Dubai film festival five years ago and starred in 2005 film Syriana with George Clooney, the starring performance of both men came last Monday when they used the platform of a US congressional hearing to condemn the worsening human rights situation in Egypt and the extraordinary legislation which may allow Sisi to stay in power until 2034.

    • ‘He Is Unhinged’: San Juan Mayor Rips Trump for Lies About Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief

      “He can huff and puff all he wants but he cannot escape the death of 3,000 on his watch.”

      That was San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz’s response to President Donald Trump’s Monday night tweet-storm, in which he once again inflated the amount of federal aid Puerto Rico has received since Hurricane Maria and attacked Cruz as “crazed and incompetent.”

      “He is unhinged,” Cruz tweeted in response to the president’s rant, which came after a GOP emergency aid bill stalled in the Senate, in part due to Democratic opposition over the legislation’s inadequate relief to Puerto Rico.

      “He knows his response was insufficient at best,” the San Juan Mayor continued. “Shame on you!”

    • White Knights and ‘Muslimsplaining’

      From Jacinda Ardern to Eggboy, the white saviours have taken over the Muslim story once again from the Muslims. To commemorate a week of the Christchurch terror attacks on two mosques there were aseries of moves and events designed to make Muslims feel they belong.

      New Zealand radio and television sounded the call for prayer at 1.30 pm, the time of the shootings. Policewomen and TV anchors wore the scarf; the latter began their telecast with a ‘salaam alaikum’ (peace be upon you), newspapers had Arabic scrawling on their front pages withan explanation of Muslim rituals, and Prime Minister Ardern quoted the Prophet. The distinction between state and religion was lost. Also, instead of an expression of solidarity, it appeared to be catering to a homogenised people, if not a special needs people.

      Entitled brown folks were, however, over the crescent moon. They were complicit in propping up such privilege with their gratefulness for a white headscarf wearer or a young man egg-splattering the head of a racist Australian senator.

      A fundraiser for Eggboy Will Connolly raised a whole lot of money for his legal fees and for being “a good egg”. Using him as an example of how the West responds to hate speech ignores the immensity of the vile comments by Sen Fraser Anning blaming immigrants for the terror act.

    • Supreme Court Draws, Quarters The Eighth Amendment

      If Ramsay Bolton were made real and installed on the U.S. Supreme Court, he would sound exactly like Neil Gorsuch in today’s opinion in Bucklew v. Precythe. While the opinion is dressed in all the civilized finery one expects from a high court decree, those trappings do not hide the savagery and cruelty animating its existence. This decision is evil, and if that seems like too strong a word for you, then I encourage you to go get f*cked because your inability to speak out against horror is one of the reasons we’re being dragged back into the Dark Ages.

      The facts of Bucklew are simple and unconverted. Russell Bucklew was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by the state of Missouri. Bucklew has a rare medical condition that would make lethal injection extremely painful for him before he died. He challenged his death sentence under Eighth Amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. Nobody disputes that the lethal injection would cause Bucklew quite a bit of pain, due to his condition.

      Despite that, the lower courts ruled against him, and today, the Supreme Court did so as well. Writing for a 5-4 majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch held that “The Eighth Amendment forbids ‘cruel and unusual’ methods of capital punishment but does not guarantee a prisoner a painless death.”

    • Florida Officials Are Trying to Sabotage the Will of the People With a Modern Day Jim Crow Law

      It may have been the most meaningful expansion of democracy in decades, since there were 5.8 million former felons nationally who couldn’t vote. Felon disenfranchisement is one of America’s earliest and longest-lasting forms of voter suppression. Florida has long been its ground zero. More than 10 percent of all adults—and almost a quarter of African-Americans—lost their voting rights permanently because of a conviction, an extra punishment of civic death continuing long after their release.

      Now Republicans in Florida’s state legislature are trying to sabotage the will of the people in the ugliest way possible: a modern-day poll tax. A House committee has advanced a bill that retroactively alters the amendment and strips all Floridians of their voting rights if they have not paid court fines and fees related to their case, even if those fines were not part of their original sentence. Hundreds of thousands of people could be affected. It could require some of the most vulnerable and impoverished Floridians to generate hundreds of millions of dollars, collectively, to become citizens again.

      This is just the latest trick in what has been a systematic assault on the right to vote following the US Supreme Court gutting the 1965 Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), and the latest disgraceful chapter in the history of Florida’s racist felon disenfranchisement laws. After the Civil War, Florida’s governor vowed that the state “of course, could never accede to the demand for Negro suffrage.” The state legislature stood equally defiant, resentful that Florida “must be shorn of our representation or give the inferior and unintelligent race the supremacy in state government.”

      They hit on the solution during an 1868 constitutional convention: Florida bitterly accepted the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution in order to get back into the Union, but then wrote felony disenfranchisement into their state constitution, guaranteeing that actual equality in voting would be an illusion. Florida’s new constitution and “Black Law” turned low-level crimes—vagrancy, petty theft, and similar crimes they believed most likely to be committed by the former slaves — into felonies.

    • Trump’s Dangerous, Dishonest Game on the U.S.-Mexico Border

      For Mexico, living with the United States in the Donald Trump era is like being in a relationship with an abusive spouse.

      Trump is the mean drunk at the family dinner, throwing his weight around, hurling insults and threats, while everyone cringes and hopes that his rage will subside, knowing that nothing good will come from a confrontation.

      Take, for example, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s reaction to Trump’s recent threat to close down the entire U.S./Mexico border: “We are going to help, to collaborate. We want to have a good relationship with the government of the United States. We are not going to argue about these issues.”

      [...]

      “They’re taking our jobs,” Trump has said of the undocumented immigrants who come across the U.S./Mexico border. “They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.”

      These claims are demonstrably false.

      Undocumented immigrants also commit crimes at a lower rate than U.S. citizens. A 2015 study by researchers at University of California – Irvine concluded that less-educated, native-born men between the ages of eighteen and thirty-nine had an incarceration rate more than triple that of foreign-born Mexican men, and five times greater than foreign-born Salvadoran and Guatemalan men.

    • A former ‘Putin’s chef’ employee reported on sanitation violations in school lunches. Now, she says anti-corruption activists forced her to lie.

      Natalya Shilova, who formerly worked for a company called Moskovsky Shkolnik that provides lunches for Moscow schools, appeared several weeks ago in an investigative video report by the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). In the video, Shilova spoke about sanitary violations committed by her former employer, which is allegedly tied to the Putin-allied businessman Evgeny Prigozhin. On April 2, she retracted the evidence she gave in a new video published on YouTube by the Federal News Agency, a media outlet that also has reported ties to Prigozhin and his “troll factory” in St. Petersburg. In her latest video, Shilova said she had agreed to speak with the FBK and its founder, opposition politician Alexey Navalny, in exchange for money that would allow her to pay health care costs for her child. She also asserted that the FBK report included inaccurate information.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • On the Trail of the Robocall King

      Young asked Garvin to look into the suspicious phone call. He said he figured it was probably the work of “some two-bit hustler” and wouldn’t take long to sort out. Garvin, though, had only one phone call to go on, and a simple question: Who was on the other end of the line?

    • Cloudfare ‘Warp’ Is A New Free VPN Service That Offers Fast Browsing [Ed: This is surveillance rather than privacy]

      Cloudflare has been working for quite some time on its DNS resolver service called 1.1.1.1 and a mobile app with the same name. Now, the company has announced a free VPN service in its latest update to the 1.1.1.1 mobile app. The encryption service works on a freemium model which will provide a faster internet experience.

    • Cloudflare 1.1.1.1 with Warp Accelerates Internet Privacy

      Cloudflare announced its new 1.1.1.1 with Warp service on April 1, providing a new security service that looks to provide consumers with improved privacy and security for internet access. The new consumer service is likely a precursor to Cloudflare’s entry into the multi-billion dollar market for enterprise VPN services.

      The 1.1.1.1 service integrates both DNS (Domain Name Service) privacy with a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to help provide security. While VPN services are not new, Cloudflare is using a new type of VPN, based on technology from the open-source Wireguard project that makes connections safer and faster. The 1.1.1.1 with Warp service also benefits from Cloudflare’s global content delivery and internet backbone infrastructure for additional performance benefits.

    • Telecom Lobby Suddenly Pretends To Care About Accurate Broadband Maps

      For a country that likes to talk about “being number one” a lot, that’s sure not reflected in the United States’ broadband networks, or the broadband maps we use to determine which areas lack adequate broadband or competition (resulting in high prices and poor service). Our terrible broadband maps are, of course, a feature not a bug; ISPs have routinely lobbied to kill any efforts to improve data collection and analysis, lest somebody actually realize the telecom market is a broken mono/duopoly whose dysfunction reaches into every aspect of tech.

      If you want to see our terrible broadband maps at work, you need only go visit the FCC’s $350+ million broadband availability map, which is based on the Form 477 data collected from ISPs. If you plug in your address, you’ll find that not only does the FCC not include prices (at industry behest), the map hallucinates speed and ISP availability at most U.S. addresses. Part of the problem is that the FCC declares an entire region “served” with broadband if just one home in a census block has service. Again, ISPs fight efforts to reform this in a bid to protect the status quo.

    • The FTC Says It’s Totally Cool With Anti-Competitive Internet Fast Lanes

      As we’ve noted for a while, the FCC’s attack on net neutrality did much more than just kill net neutrality. It also gutted much of the FCC’s authority over broadband providers entirely, making it harder than ever for the agency to police the behavior of historically anti-competitive giants like Comcast NBC Universal and AT&T Time Warner. What authority the government now has to oversee one of the more broken sectors in American industry got shoveled instead to the FTC, an agency critics say lacks the authority or resources to police broadband. That’s the entire reason ISP lobbyists pushed for the plan.

      Yet throughout the repeal, broadband providers and FCC head Ajit Pai stated that people didn’t need to worry because if ISPs did anything wrong, the FTC and antitrust enforcement would stand as a last line of defense. But any expectations that modern, eroded antitrust authority would protect consumers and competitors were quickly ruined by the recent AT&T and Time Warner legal face plant, widely mocked as one of the more clueless rulings in tech policy history.

  • DRM

    • Right to Repair Is Now a National Issue

      Warren has raised Right to Repair to a new level of national prominence. It’s a big moment for those of us who have been sounding the alarm on how companies have been placing obstacles in the way of repair, and the resulting hassle, cost and environmental damage.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Q1 2019 Patent Dispute Report

      Amid a flurry of changes and proposed policy reforms at the USPTO, the volume of new patent disputes before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) declined sharply in Q1 2019 while the volume of district court disputes has remained relatively steady. While it is still too early to predict the direction and impact that these policies will take, there is little indication that NPEs will go away as the volume of new Non-Practicing Entity (NPE) assertions in Q1 increased when compared to the same period in 2018.

      [...]

      85% of patent disputes at PTAB or district court involving High-Tech companies were related to assertions by NPEs.

    • Unified files IPR against US 9,277,241 owned by Velos Media, LLC

      On March 29, 2019, Unified filed a petition (with Wilmer Hale serving as lead counsel) for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent No. 9,277,241, owned by Velos Media, LLC (Velos), as part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its SEP Video Codec Zone.

      The ’241 patent and its corresponding extended patent family are one of the larger families known to be owned by Velos. Including this petition, Unified has now challenged patents representing 32.4% of Velos’ total known U.S. assets.

    • Power of Negative Limitations [Ed: Software parent need to be universally shunned and this dark chapter left well behind us. The patent microcosm is losing and it knows it. Their blogs are dying.]

      In two separate IPR proceedings, the PTAB found several of IBM’s claims unpatentable as obvious. U.S. Patent No. 7,631,346 claims 1, 3, 12, 13, 15, and 18. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has vacated / reversed those opinions.

      The patent here claims a user-authentication method for a “single-sign-on . . . within a federated computing environment.” The basic setup here is that user known to a “first system” wants access to resources on a “second system” that doesn’t know about the user. The invention works by the first system providing an “identifier” associated with the user and the second system creating a user account using that identifier — not too complex here. A “single-sign-on” is basically a setup for user convenience so that the user only logs-in on one system but can access the whole federation.

      [...]

      Does Silence Disclose a Negative Limitation: The panel also addressed the single-sign-on element of the claims — the single-sign-on requirement is interesting because it may sound like a positive limitation but is really being interpreted as a negative limitation. Basically, once the user gives credentials for the first system, the user doesn’t need more authentication (i.e. passwords) to access the second system.

      [...]

      In other words – a negative limitation can be powerful. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has reversed the holdings based upon single-sign-on being found in this reference.

    • Updated February ex parte decisions show Alice-based rejections getting overturned at a dizzying rate [Ed: The liars from Anticipat now look at ex parte instead of inter (IPRs), i.e examiners misguided by Iancu rather than actual courts; they try to make it seem like software patents are OK again. They're not.]

      For the past year, the PTAB has increasingly reversed so-called abstract idea rejections (Alice). But in recent months, the pace of these reversals has been nothing short of remarkable. Here, we report updated February numbers, which show the PTAB continuing to overturn abstract ideas at an unprecedented rate. We also look more deeply into how these rejections are getting overturned. It turns out the Board is increasingly relying on step 2A (Step 1 of Alice/Mayo) thanks to new guidance that makes it more difficult for an examiner’s rejection to hold.

    • Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      Last week, in Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., the Federal Circuit reversed a decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware holding the claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,808,737 to be ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In reversing the District Court, the Federal Circuit determined that the asserted claims of the ’737 patent are legally indistinguishable from the claims at issue in Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. West-Ward Pharmaceuticals International Ltd.

      The ’737 patent, which is owned by Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., relates to a method of using oxymorphone to treat pain in patients with impaired kidney function. As the opinion notes, a patient’s pain relief level can be impacted by the way the patient’s body processes oxymorphone. In patients with impaired kidney function (or renal impairment), waste products and drugs that are typically filtered by the kidneys can build up. The inventor of the ’737 patent studied the effect of renal impairment on the metabolism of oxymorphone and discovered that patients with moderately or severely impaired kidney function required less oxymorphone to achieve the same level of pain management achieved in patients without impaired kidney function.

      [...]

      The Court concludes the opinion by noting that neither Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. v. Sequenom, Inc. nor Athena Diagnostics, Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Servs., compel a different outcome, pointing out that “the claims here are directed to a treatment method, not a detection method,” and adding that “[t]he ’737 patent does not ‘start[] and end[] with a naturally occurring phenomenon.’” Thus, the Court determined that the ’737 patent claims are not directed to patent-ineligible subject matter, and therefore reversed the District Court’s decision finding the claims to be patent-ineligible.

    • Trademarks

      • HBO fails in attempt to protect Game of Thrones trade marks

        While the final season of the wildly popular television series, “Game of Thrones”, will be released later this year, 2019 did not get off to a good start for the series producer, Home Box Office (HBO), as they already suffered defeat in opposing two trade mark registrations before the UKIPO. Let’s hope Jon Snow has more luck fighting against the White Walkers in the upcoming season. In the meantime, Katfriend John Shaw summarizes the UKIPO’s oppositions for us. Read on for more!

        HBO is the holder of 12 EUTMs registrations for the mark Game of Thrones in word and figurative forms, and it has already filed another eight applications this year. In hearings before the UKIPO, which took place in October and November last year, the production company opposed the registration of two different trade marks. The first application related to a figurative mark containing the words “Game of Vapes”, applied for tobacco products. The second application concerned a figurative mark including the phrase “Game of Stones”, registered for a Wadworth’s golden ale.

      • Do tapirs look like pigs? ‘Peppa Pig’ EUTM wins invalidity battle before EU General Court

        In 2017 this blog reported on the decision of the EUIPO First Board of Appeal that considered whether the signs represented below, registered for the same goods (clothing, footwear, headgear) in Class 25 of the Nice Classification, would be confusingly similar, so that the one on the right hand side could not be a valid EU trade mark (EUTM)…

        [...]

        In assessing the similarity of the signs, Pan Xianhao submitted that the Board of Appeal had failed to take into account the signs as a whole, as it had only focused on certain aspects of their graphic representations.

        In this regard the GC reasoned that – insofar as the visual, phonetic or conceptual similarity of the signs are concerned – the global assessment of the likelihood of confusion must be based on the overall impression given by the signs (bearing in mind their distinctive and dominant elements). The perception of the marks by the average consumer of the goods or services in question plays a decisive role in the global assessment and that consumer normally perceives a mark as a whole without engaging in details (OHIM v Shaker, C-334/05).

        Having said that, with regard to the visual similarities of the signs, the GC considered that these are similar to the extent that they share a figurative element depicting an anthropomorphic animal with a round head and a cylindrical snout. The shape of the head and snout is almost identical in both signs, and so are the ears, cheeks, eyes, nostrils, and smiley mouth.

        There are, however, some visual differences, including: clothes, colours used, and word elements below the signs. Nonetheless, those differences were considered not capable of outweighing the similarities pointed out in the contested decision. Given that the average consumer normally perceives a mark as a whole without engaging in detail, the GC considered that the Board of Appeal was right in in finding that the signs at issue would be similar.

        The GC also dismissed the argument that, unlike PEPPA PIG, the animal represented in the TOBBIA mark would not be a pig, but rather a tapir. Even if the public were to identify it as a tapir instead of a pig, the earlier mark would also, in view of the significant similarities in the graphic elements of both signs, be associated with that animal. Consequently, whether the public identifies the graphic elements of the two marks as two pigs or two tapirs in no way alters the assessment of the similarity of the marks.

    • Copyrights

      • 10 Free Movie Streaming Sites | Watch Movies Online Legally In 2019

        We all need to unwind from time to time and watching movies online can be a real stress buster. What makes it really comforting is the fact that you can stream free movies right from where you are and without any cost.

        So here is a list of free and legal movie streaming sites which let you watch movies without downloading them and a few websites might even let you stream movies without signing up.

      • The EU’s Catastrophic Copyright Directive Can Still Be Stopped, If Governments Of Sweden And Germany Do The Right Thing

        Last week, the EU’s Copyright Directive was passed by the European Parliament. Its supporters have wasted no time in dropping the mask, and revealing their true intent: installing upload filters on the Internet. First, France’s Minister of Culture announced a “mission to promote and supervise content recognition technologies”. More recently, EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger has confirmed that upload filters will be unavoidable. It’s cold comfort that those who said that Article 13 (now officially Article 17) would inevitably bring in upload filters have now been proved right.

        However, it turns out that the situation is not completely hopeless. Even though the vote in the European Parliament was the main hurdle the new copyright law needed to clear, there is one more stamp of approval required before it goes into effect. The little-known EU Council of Ministers must also agree, and it seems that is not a foregone conclusion.

        Everything hinges on Sweden. As an article on the Bahnhof site (original in Swedish) explains, Sweden has previously voted in favor of the EU Copyright Directive, but can still change its mind. One way of achieving that is through a special parliamentary committee that helps to formulate Sweden’s EU policy.

      • Getty Images Sued Yet Again For Trying To License Public Domain Images

        Back in 2016, we wrote about two separate lawsuits involving claims that Getty Images was selling “licenses” to images it had no rights to sell licenses to. The first one was brought by photographer Carol Highsmith, who sued Getty after Getty had sent a demand letter to her over her own images, which she had donated to the Library of Congress to be put into the public domain. That lawsuit mostly flopped when Getty pointed out (correctly) that Highsmith had no standing, seeing as she had given up the copyright in the photos. The second lawsuit was even more bizarre, involving questions about Getty’s rights to various collections it licensed, and whether it had changed the metadata on photos from photo agency Zuma Press. At the time, we noted that little in that lawsuit seemed to make sense, but it still went on for over two years before Getty prevailed, and basically said the only mistakes were done by Zuma.

        Well, now we’ve got another lawsuit against Getty over allegedly licensing public domain images. This one was brought by CixxFive Concepts, and… also seems to be a stretch. How much of a stretch? Well, it starts out by alleging RICO violations, and as Ken “Popehat” White always likes to remind everyone: IT’S NOT RICO, DAMMIT. This lawsuit is also not RICO and it’s not likely to get very far.

      • Former Pirate Party Leader Asks to Be Sued Over EBook Site, Has Wish Granted

        Last month, Travis McCrea, the former leader of the Pirate Party of Canada, called out for copyright holders to sue him if they felt they had a case against his eBook platform Ebook.bike. McCrea’s wish has now been granted via a lawsuit filed in the United States to be heard by the country’s “busiest patent judge”. The complaint makes for extraordinary reading

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. Patent Extremism is Not Normal and Not an Innocent Mindset

    Reflection upon the sad state of the European patent system and how media turns a blind eye to it; worldwide, in general, the discussion about patents is being warped by the litigation giants, whose sole goal is to maximise the number of lawsuits/shakedowns (personal gain)



  2. Links 22/9/2019: LLVM 9.0.0 and FreeBSD 12.1 Beta

    Links for the day



  3. Links 21/9/2019: Plasma 5.17 Beta in Kubuntu, Cockpit 203

    Links for the day



  4. IBM Cannot Become a True Friend of Free Software Because of Its Current Patent Policy

    IBM needs to quit bullying people/companies with software patents; that would help towards appeasement of IBM critics and sceptics



  5. When Patent 'Professionals' Sound Like Children Who Learned to Parrot Some Intentionally-Misleading Buzzwords, Myths and Lies

    With buzzwords like "AI" and misleading terms like "IP" the litigation zealots are trying to convince themselves (and the public) that software is a physical thing and a "property" which needs "protecting" from "theft"; it doesn't seem to bother these people that copyright law already covers software<



  6. The European Parliament Needs to Become More Outspoken About EPO Abuses

    There are few encouraging signs in Europe right now because the EPO's disregard for patent law (striving to just grant as many patents as possible) earned it much-needed backlash from the European Parliament



  7. Links 19/9/2019: German Federal Ministry of the Interior Wants FOSS, Top Snaps Named

    Links for the day



  8. Buying the Voices of 'Linux' People to Repeat Microsoft's Talking Points While Removing Our Icons and Leaders (Calling Them Sexist)

    The dirty games leveraged by several companies including Microsoft target charismatic people who are essential for morale and leadership; these tactics aren't particularly novel



  9. When the EPO Sees Itself as Above European Law, Grants Patents in Defiance of the EPC (Its Founding Document) and Violates Staff's Labour Rights/Protections (International Law)

    The absurd state of affairs at the EPO has reached the point where laws at every level are being violated and even judges are being threatened or vainly ignored; the EU is belatedly trying to tackle these issues, which have actually cost its credibility a great deal and threaten the perception of Rule of Law at multiple levels



  10. Links 19/9/2019: Samba 4.11.0 and Kubernetes 1.16

    Links for the day



  11. Update on Koch v EPO: Internal Appeals Committee (IAC) Composition Still Likely Illegal

    An important EPO case, concerning a dismissed staff representative, shows what ILO-AT and the EPO's Internal Appeals Committee boil down to



  12. Links 18/9/2019: Fedora Linux 31 Beta, PCLinuxOS 2019.09 Update

    Links for the day



  13. Links 17/9/2019: CentOS 7.7 and Funtoo Linux 1.4 Released

    Links for the day



  14. EPO is Not European

    Internationalists and patent trolls are those who stand to benefit from the 'globalisation' of low-quality and law-breaking patents such as patents on algorithms, nature and life itself; the EPO isn't equipped to serve its original goals anymore



  15. The EPO's Central Staff Committee and SUEPO (Staff Union) Respond to “Fascist Bills” Supported by EPO President António Campinos

    Raw material pertaining to the latest Campinos "scandal"; what Campinos said, what the Central Staff Committee (CSC) said, and what SUEPO said



  16. Storm Brewing in the European Patent Office After a Hot Summer

    Things aren't rosy in EPOnia (to say the least); in fact, things have been getting a lot worse lately, but the public wouldn't know judging by what media tells the public (almost nothing)



  17. Why I Once Called for Richard Stallman to Step Down

    Guest post from the developer who recently authored "Getting Stallman Wrong Means Getting The 21st Century Wrong"



  18. As Richard Stallman Resigns Let's Consider Why GNU/Linux Without Stallman and Torvalds Would be a Victory to Microsoft

    Stallman has been ejected after a lot of intentionally misleading press coverage; this is a dark day for Software Freedom



  19. Links 16/9/2019: GNU Linux-libre 5.3, GNU World Order 13×38, Vista 10 Breaks Itself Again

    Links for the day



  20. Links 16/9/2019: Qt Quick on Vulkan, Metal, and Direct3D; BlackWeb 1.2 Reviewed

    Links for the day



  21. Richard Stallman's Controversial Views Are Nothing New and They Distract From Bill Gates' Vastly Worse Role

    It's easier to attack Richard Stallman (RMS) using politics (than using his views on software) and media focus on Stallman's personal views on sexuality bears some resemblance to the push against Linus Torvalds, which leans largely on the false perception that he is sexist, rude and intolerant



  22. Links 16/9/2019: Linux 5.3, EasyOS Releases, Media Backlash Against RMS

    Links for the day



  23. Openwashing Report on Open Networking Foundation (ONF): When Open Source Means Collaboration Among Giant Spying Companies

    Massive telecommunications oligopolies (telecoms) are being described as ethical and responsible by means of openwashing; they even have their own front groups for that obscene mischaracterisation and ONF is one of those



  24. 'Open Source' You Cannot Run Without Renting or 'Licensing' Windows From Microsoft

    When so-called ‘open source’ programs strictly require Vista 10 (or similar) to run, how open are they really and does that not redefine the nature of Open Source while betraying everything Free/libre software stands for?



  25. All About Control: Microsoft is Not Open Source But an Open Source Censor/Spy and GitHub/LinkedIn/Skype Are Its Proprietary Censorship/Surveillance Tools

    All the big companies which Microsoft bought in recent years are proprietary software and all of the company’s big products remain proprietary software; all that “Open Source” is to Microsoft is “something to control and censor“



  26. The Sad State of GNU/Linux News Sites

    The ‘media coup’ of corporate giants (that claim to be 'friends') means that history of GNU/Linux is being distorted and lied about; it also explains prevalent lies such as "Microsoft loves Linux" and denial of GNU/Free software



  27. EPO President Along With Bristows, Managing IP and Other Team UPC Boosters Are Lobbying for Software Patents in Clear and Direct Violation of the EPC

    A calm interpretation of the latest wave of lobbying from litigation professionals, i.e. people who profit when there are lots of patent disputes and even expensive lawsuits which may be totally frivolous (for example, based upon fake patents that aren't EPC-compliant)



  28. Links 15/9/2019: Radeon ROCm 2.7.2, KDE Frameworks 5.62.0, PineTime and Bison 3.4.2

    Links for the day



  29. Illegal/Invalid Patents (IPs) Have Become the 'Norm' in Europe

    Normalisation of invalid patents (granted by the EPO in defiance of the EPC) is a serious problem, but patent law firms continue to exploit that while this whole 'patent bubble' lasts (apparently the number of applications will continue to decrease because the perceived value of European Patents diminishes)



  30. Patent Maximalists, Orbiting the European Patent Office, Work to 'Globalise' a System of Monopolies on Everything

    Monopolies on just about everything are being granted in defiance of the EPC and there are those looking to make this violation ‘unitary’, even worldwide if not just EU-wide


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