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04.05.19

Links 5/4/2019: Purism/PIA, GNUnet 0.11.2, Torvalds in Headlines Again

Posted in News Roundup at 1:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Here Is How I Started Using Linux

      It is April 2019 as I am writing this article from my Ubuntu 18.04 and I don’t remember the last time I had to use Windows for something that Linux couldn’t do. I don’t remember the last time I opened the thing called Ubuntu Software Store since I just use apt for most system related package management.

    • Chrome OS Security Updates Break Crouton: Here’s The Fix

      For many users, Google’s Crostini project that brings native Linux apps support to Chrome OS is still a ways off from being a viable solution. We are seeing more and more updates that are giving Crostini the tools needed to forgo dual-booting a Linux distro but until full GPU support becomes a reality, Crouton is still a go-to for many.

      The keeper of Crouton, David Schneider, is a Google hardware engineer and he does an excellent job of maintaining the GitHub that houses Crouton and all its goodies.

      Yesterday, in the same GitHub project, David posted that recent security enhancements have broken the long-used method of installing Crouton on Chrome OS and in turn has called upon the internet to update tutorials and how-tos for the benefit of all who use Crouton.

      All-in-all, the end result is the same but the method in which the installer is launched requires some tweaking. Here’s the new method for running Crouton on Chrome OS.

    • Chrome OS 73 Stable version: Here’s what you need to know

      Last week, Google announced the availability of Chrome OS 73 in the Stable channel and began to push the platform update out to devices. Since the rollout is always staggered, my Pixel Slate wasn’t upgraded until recently so I’ve only now just got a chance to go through what’s new and improved.

  • Server

    • UNIX vs Linux: Everything You Need To Know

      I get this question quite often, but I struggle explaining it, especially in a few simple words. Anyway, this is a very interesting topic because things are very complicated when it comes to UNIX vs Linux. There are business related things, licenses, policies, government influence etc.

      Due to Unix being an operating system and Linux being a kernel, they are different in nature and they have different purposes, they aren’t easily comparable. You can’t summarize the differences and what they are in a single sentence. But don’t worry. After this lesson of history and both of their features and purposes, you will get the “big picture” and everything will be nice and clear. You can jump to the end of the post, in the conclusion, if you want a quick read through.

    • Kubernetes Operator Hands-on Workshop at Red Hat Summit on May 6th Announced

      or those of you who have been following the rise of the Operators across the Kubernetes eco-system and were wondering what all the excitement was about, here’s your chance to get up to speed quickly and get some hands-on experience building them.

      This is day-long hands-on workshop is co-located with Red Hat Summit in Boston, workshop attendees must also be registered for Red Hat Summit. If you’d like to come, please request an invitation today and we’ll send you further details.

    • Red Hat Summit 2019 Track Guide: Cloud-Native App Dev

      We hope you already know that at Red Hat Summit 2019, taking place in Boston May 7-9, there will be a ton of interesting sessions and content to consider. With such a packed agenda, it may be difficult to choose which breakout sessions to attend and which will be the most meaningful for your personal “why” for attending Red Hat Summit. If your goal is to better understand cloud-native application development and how it fits into your enterprise goals, or how you can get started with developing cloud-native apps, we have you covered with a variety of breakout sessions to choose from.

      In today’s always on, always connected, and fast-moving digital world, applications need to keep up. Cloud-native applications are composed of small, independent and loosely coupled services, and cloud-native application development can be seen as a way to optimize existing applications, speed up the process of building new ones and connect them together. We expect it will be a hot topic at Red Hat Summit because it touches many different aspects of the developer and user experience. Check out some of our recommended breakout sessions, roadmaps and labs to help you build your schedule to maximize your time on-site!

    • The making of Creating ChRIS: Developing a content strategy for a film series

      Naomi Amado, writer for Red Hat, discusses why it’s important for content folks to have project management skills, and the benefits of having a non-technical perspective when editing technical content.

    • Operators 101: Your auto-pilot for Kubernetes workloads
    • Kubernetes 1.14: Local Persistent Volumes GA

      The Local Persistent Volumes feature has been promoted to GA in Kubernetes 1.14. It was first introduced as alpha in Kubernetes 1.7, and then beta in Kubernetes 1.10. The GA milestone indicates that Kubernetes users may depend on the feature and its API for production use. GA features are protected by the Kubernetes deprecation policy.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Episode 61 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, I’m sick but I am making the show anyway because I am passionate bout the Linux community and I’m dedicated to bringing you your weekly source for Linux GNews. On the show this week, we check out some new releases from WINE, GNU Nano, Puppy Linux, Gentoo, Epiphany, and more. We’ll also take a quick look at the Beta release for Ubuntu 19.04 and a special Beta release from the Ubuntu MATE team. We got some app news for Flatpaks, Snaps and some utilities like Mailnag and smenu. Later in the show, we’ll do a follow up to the EU Copyright Directive news we covered last week, which is not good news but we will close out the show with some fun news about Linux Gaming. All that and much more on your Weekly Source for Linux GNews.

  • Kernel Space

    • 32nd Time The Charm? Latest Linux Lockdown Patches Posted

      The Linux “Lockdown” patches to restrict the running kernel image from being modified and to strengthen the boundary between UID 0 and the kernel continues to be revised. Matthew Garrett at Google who is now leading this Linux security effort is hoping to get the code into Linux 5.2 but that remains to be seen — on Wednesday the thirty-second revision to these patches were posted.

      The proposed LOCKDOWN mode forbids writing to /dev/mem, restricts access to PCI BAR and MSRs, doesn’t allow kernel module parameters to be used that set hardware settings, disables system hibernation, and other kernel features that could allow changing the hardware state. The lockdown mode isn’t enabled by default but is intended to be paired with UEFI SecureBoot and the like within security sensitive environments.

    • Grub vs. Systemd-boot: Which One Should You Use as the Bootloader

      Systemd-boot, sometimes called “systemd” and previously called “gummiboot,” is Grub’s newer competitor. On compatible EFI systems, systemd-boot can be used in place of Grub to boot the system’s operating system. From a high-level perspective, systemd-boot links to the bootloader already in UEFI, offering the most basic feature set for selecting an operating system. Grub, on the other hand, loads what is sometimes described as “an entire OS” to manage booting the user’s operating system, providing far greater capability.

    • The state of the OSU Open Source Lab

      OSL acts as a FOSS hosting company, providing free or low-cost hosting to a variety of projects. It offers colocation or virtual machines (VMs) in a private cloud. It can also provide access to a wide array of different CPU architectures. Beyond that, the lab is a distribution and mirroring site for multiple projects.

      [...]

      Its initial funding came from OSU, based on the cost saving by the university from switching to FOSS. Google and RealNetworks were early sponsors. OSL moved to the college of engineering in 2013. Its ongoing funding model is to get corporate donations; IBM, Google, and Facebook are big donors. It also has hosting contracts with the Linux Foundation, Drupal, and the Open Source Robotics Foundation. Other companies donate hardware or bandwidth and there are individual donors as well. At this point, OSL gets no direct funding from OSU or the state of Oregon, which makes fundraising a yearly challenge.

      The role of the lab is to be a neutral hosting facility and to foster relationships between FOSS projects and companies, Albertson said. It provides a stable, physical home for core FOSS projects that is flexible to the needs of each project. It gives access to less-common hardware and CPU architectures, including OpenPOWER and, soon, RISC-V, along with compute and storage resources, such as software mirroring and continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD). The lab also helps projects with their systems engineering needs and helps train the next generation of open-source leaders.

    • The congestion-notification conflict

      Most of the time, the dreary work of writing protocol standards at organizations like the IETF and beyond happens in the background, with most of us being blissfully unaware of what is happening. Recently, though, a disagreement over protocols for congestion notification and latency reduction has come to a head in a somewhat messy conflict. The outcome of this discussion may well affect how well the Internet of the future works — and whether Linux systems can remain first-class citizens of that net.

      Network congestion is a fact of life; when it occurs, the only useful response is to get senders of traffic to slow down. Many governments place traffic signals on the on-ramps to major highways in congestion-prone areas in an attempt to limit traffic entering and to keep things flowing. Network traffic can benefit from similar controls, but the placement of traffic signals at every entry point to the net is impractical. So network protocols must rely on other types of signals to learn when they should reduce their transmission rate.

    • Building header files into the kernel

      Kernel developers learn, one way or another, to be careful about memory use; any memory taken by the kernel is not available for use by the actual applications that people keep the computer around to run. So it is unsurprising that eyebrows went up when Joel Fernandes proposed building the source for all of the kernel’s headers files into the kernel itself, at a cost of nearly 4MB of unswappable, kernel-space memory. The discussion is ongoing, but it has already highlighted some pain points felt by Android developers in particular.
      Fernandes first posted this work in January; version 5 was posted on March 20. As part of the build process, it gathers up all of the kernel’s headers (the “.h” files) and a few other artifacts into a compressed tar file; that file is then built into a kernel module. If that module is loaded into the running kernel, the tar file containing the headers can be read from /proc/kheaders.tgz. This is, thus, a way of allowing applications to access the header files that were used to build whatever kernel is running at the moment.

      The purpose of this mechanism is to make those header files available in situations where they are otherwise unavailable. In particular, developers building kernel modules need access to this information, as do those who are building BPF programs to analyze a system’s behavior. In some systems, notably Android-based devices, those header files are almost certainly not easily available. Fernandes has tried other solutions to this problem, such as BPFd, in the past, but all have fallen short. Providing headers with the kernel itself is the solution he has settled on.

    • Case-insensitive ext4

      Handling file names in a case-insensitive way for Linux filesystems has been an ongoing discussion topic for many years. It is a (dubious) feature of filesystems for other operating systems (e.g. Android, Windows, macOS), but Linux has limited support for it. Over the last year or more, Gabriel Krisman Bertazi has been working on the problem for ext4, but it is a messy one to solve. He recently posted his latest patch set, which reflects some changes made at the behest of Linus Torvalds.

      At the 2018 Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC), Krisman presented his plan for allowing ext4 filesystems to be case-insensitive. That plan would have enhanced the kernel’s Native Language Support (NLS) subsystem to better support multi-byte encodings and expand the case-folding to handle UTF-8. NLS exists to handle filesystems, such as FAT, that support file names with different encodings, which are specified at mount time. Krisman posted his patch set to make those changes in December shortly after LPC, but Torvalds objected to the whole idea:

      Why do people want to do this? We know it’s a crazy and stupid thing to do. And we know that, exactly because people have done it, and it has always been a mistake.

      [...]

      Ts’o suggested moving the Unicode handling code to fs/unicode rather than changing the NLS code. He also described the current state of play with regard to case-sensitivity in filesystems for macOS and Windows, as well as for network filesystems like Samba and NFS. Over time, Ts’o said, the inconsistencies in handling file names between different filesystems have mostly been eliminated. In January, Krisman posted version 5 of his patch set, which reflects the switch to the fs/unicode directory.

    • Google’s KUnit Moving Forward As A Solid Unit Testing Framework For The Linux Kernel

      Announced last October by a Google engineer was KUnit as a Linux kernel unit testing framework and a proper solution unlike some of the current in-tree kernel testing facilities. The latest KUnit patches have been volleyed for review while waiting to see if it will be accepted soon into the mainline kernel.

    • Linux Boss condemns Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

      The most powerful enterprise Operating System in the world Linux’s creator and principal Director Linus Torvalds has strongly condemned a number of social media platforms, chiefly Facebook which he called a disease to human kind.

      In a recent interview, Torvalds disdained Facebook, Twitter and Instagram saying these platforms seems to encourage bad behaviour by human beings and he absolutely detests such platforms.

      Torvalds garbaged the whole ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ functions on all these social media platforms, saying that they offer no effort in quality control of content, resulting in people sharing any trash that they might come across.

      Torvalds further said the whole thing is infact further geared to the reverse of quality control, with lowest common denominator targets, click-bait and things designed to create emotional responses which are often of moral outrage.

    • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are ‘garbage,’ says Linux founder Torvalds

      Count another person who isn’t “liking” social media these days.

      Linus Torvalds, the Finnish-born creator of the free Linux software that competes against Apple’s MacOS and Microsoft’s Windows to power computers, didn’t mince words when discussing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And in an interview this week with Linux Journal, he suggested it’s one of the biggest issues the tech industry is facing today.

    • Linux Creator: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter Are “A Disease”

      Linus Torvalds, the Linux creator who’s himself known for angry tirades, said that if he could fix one thing about the internet, it would be modern social media — a flame-spitting recrimination by the inventor of the software that keeps much of the social web running.

      “I absolutely detest modern media — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram,” Torvalds told Linux Journal in a new interview. “It’s a disease. It seems to encourage bad behavior.”

    • Linux Foundation

    • Graphics Stack

      • SPURV Will Allow You To run Android Apps On A Linux Desktop

        A software development company out of the UK called Collabora has unveiled something that Linux users will be excited about. The software is called SPURV, and it is described as an “experimental containerized Android environment” that is designed to allow Linux users to run Android apps in windows alongside native applications on desktop Linux. In a nutshell, SPURV creates a virtual Android device on the Linux host machine.

      • You Can Now Run Android Apps on Your Wayland-Powered Linux Desktop

        Collabora announced a new project that would allow Linux users to run Android apps on top of their Linux desktop environments under the Wayland display server.
        Running Android applications or even the Android mobile operating system on GNU/Linux computers starts to become a reality now that developers like Arne Exton released two distributions that let you run the latest Android 9.0 Pie on your PC, as well as Raspberry Pi devices.

        Collabora is known for their contributions to the Linux kernel, improving the Linux support for Chrome OS and Android, among lots of other cool things, but it looks like they’ve been working lately on a new side project called SPURV, which enabled running of Android apps on your Linux desktop.

        A containerized Android environment for Linux and Wayland

        SPURV is a containerized Android environment for Linux and Wayland designed to enable you to run Android apps with full 3D acceleration in the same graphical desktop environment of your GNU/Linux operating system on top of Wayland. It consists of several components to enable audio, networking, and graphics.

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

      • AMD Lands Displayable DCC Support For Raven APUs In Mesa 19.1′s RadeonSI

        Marek Olšák of AMD has merged his latest performance-enhancing feature into RadeonSI Gallium3D: the enabling of displayable DCC on Raven Ridge / Raven 2 APUs.

        One month back Marek originally published the patches exposing displayable DCC for Raven Ridge and now the code has been merged into Mesa Git for the Mesa 19.1 cycle. This functionality allows for scan-out surfaces to utilize delta color compression (DCC) for the potential to conserve memory bandwidth and in turn to increase performance. RadeonSI has offered DCC support but not for scan-out surfaces, which now works for Raven GFX9 hardware.

      • The-Forge 1.26 Offers Up Vulkan-Powered Ray-Tracing On Windows & Linux

        The-Forge, a rendering framework that has supported Vulkan on Linux for the past year, is now a lot more interesting as it’s newest release now opens up Vulkan ray-tracing support for both Windows and Linux.

      • H.264 Continues To Be Worked On For Cedrus – Reverse-Engineered Allwinner Support

        While the crowd-funding campaign has long been used up for working on the Allwinner VPU support via reverse-engineering for the mainline Linux kernel, Bootlin continues advancing the “Cedrus” driver particularly in getting the H.264 decoding to work.

        It’s going on three years that Bootlin has been developing the open-source, reverse-engineered Cedrus driver for Allwinner SoCs via reverse engineering to use the VPU. There’s been MPEG-2 acceleration within the Cedrus driver that’s been mainlined while H.264 and also H.265/HEVC has been a work in progress. The sixth version of the H.264 decoding patches were outed today.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.16 Desktop Promises Much-Improved Login, Logout, and Lock Screens

        The KDE Plasma 5.16 desktop environment is currently in the works, due for release this summer, and new KDE contributors Filip Fila and Krešimir Čohar have been trying to improve the lock and feel of the login, lock, and logout screens to make them look more modern, usable, and beautiful.

        Their work made the login screen more prettier with a toned-down fader effect for the background so you can clearly see the labels, as well as a new magnification effect for the user icons in focus. On the other hand, the logout screen received improved controls with new subtle transparent background, lighted up text, and reworked or new icons.

      • Add Appstream Release Data to your App Releases

        Appstream is a metadata standard for your software releases which gets used by package managers and app stores as well as web sites such as kde.org (one day at least).

        If you are incharge of making releases of an application from KDE mind and make sure it has an appstream appdata file. You should also include a screenshot preferably in the product-screenshots git repo.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • 4MLinux 28.1 released.

        This is a minor (point) release in the 4MLinux STABLE channel, which comes with the Linux kernel 4.19.28. The 4MLinux Server now includes Apache 2.4.38, MariaDB 10.3.13, and PHP 7.2.16 (see this post for more details).

        You can update your 4MLinux by executing the “zk update” command in your terminal (fully automatic process).

    • Arch Family

      • Manjaro 18 + Starting Your Journey | Choose Linux 6

        The LInux Gaming Report rolls forward as Jason throws Manjaro 18 on the test bench and walks away shocked.

        Then we offer some best practices and tips for, well, choosing Linux! How to pick the right hardware for your needs, where to discover your perfect distribution, and how to best enjoy your new journey.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • The Openness Continues: SUSECON Day 2 Recap

        Michael Miller then took the stage, provided an overview of the day and then welcomed Dr. Thomas Di Giacomo, President of Engineering, Product and Innovation to the stage. But before diving into this discussion for the day, Thomas introduced a new SUSE video instructing everyone on the proper way to say “SUSE”.

      • SUSE Details Open Plans For Enterprise Linux Growth [Ed: Forbes perpetuates lies, e.g. "world where even Microsoft now loves Linux"No, it does not. It's a PR lie. But carry on spreading it for Bill.]

        German software companies often start their names with the letter S (SAP, Software AG and a few others) and so SUSE is no exception.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 30 Beta released with desktop environment options, GNOME 3.32, and much more

        This release features zchunk format which is a new compression format designed for highly efficient deltas. All the DNF (Dandified YUM) repository metadata is now compressed with the zchunk format in addition to xz or gzip. When Fedora’s metadata is compressed using zchunk, DNF downloads only the differences between earlier copies of the metadata and the current version.

        [...]

        This release includes updated versions of many popular packages including Golang, GNU C Library, Bash shell, Python, and Perl.

      • Fedora Workstation 30 Is Shaping Up To Be Another Exciting, Feature-Packed Update

        If you are looking for some motivation to try out this week’s Fedora 30 beta build, it’s shaping up to be another massive feature update as outlined by Red Hat’s Christian Schaller.

        Schaller has penned another lengthy blog post highlighting the many improvements to be found in the upcoming Fedora Workstation 30. Many of the accomplishments to Fedora 30 were done by Red Hat developers and upstreamed to the respective projects.

      • Stories from the amazing world of release-monitoring.org #2

        As you could notice in my previous story, I plan to establish connection between the island of the-new-hotness and the realm of Pagure. More specifically with the large island in Pagure known as dist-git or Fedora package sources.

        This means we stop sending messengers to realm of Bugzilla and instead redirect them to the unknown land of Pagure. To make this easier for them we used the new magical chariot known as Packit. This chariot already knows the distant island of dist-git.

    • Debian Family

      • The Debian project leader election

        While a few weeks back it looked like there might be a complete lack of Debian project leader (DPL) candidates, that situation has changed. After a one-week delay, five Debian developers have nominated themselves. We are now about halfway through the campaign phase; platforms have been posted and questions have been asked and answered. It seems a good time to have a look at the candidates and their positions.

        The five candidates are Joerg Jaspert, Jonathan Carter, Sam Hartman, Martin Michlmayr, and Simon Richter. Platforms for four of the candidates can be found here along with their rebuttals to the other platforms. Simon Richter has not provided a platform or participated in the debian-vote mailing list since his nomination mail on March 17. It is not clear what that means and there was no response to an email query about his plans. The other four candidates provided detailed platforms that outlined their experience in the Debian project and their vision for its future.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S12E00 – Frontier

            To ease ourselves into Season 12 we have a chat about what we’ve been up to since the end of Season 11.

            It’s Season 12 Episode 00 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Beta First Impressions
          • Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code arrives on Linux as an Ubuntu Snap [Ed: This is how Microsoft tried selling to people MSVS; it's also an openwashing tactic for an IDE that adds surveillance to compiled code]
          • Microsoft and Ubuntu-maker Canonical launch Visual Studio Code snap for Linux [Ed: Canonical helps Microsoft push proprietary software free bait (MSVS)]

            One of the most frustrating things for Windows users that switch to Linux is learning to install software. With Microsoft’s operating system, you search the web for the software you want, download it, and install it. With Linux-based operating systems, however, programs are typically installed through a centralized app center or through the terminal. The Linux approach is arguably safer, as Windows users can easily be tricked into downloading malware. Windows 10 tries to emulate the centralized software center with the Microsoft Store, but users have largely rejected it.

          • Microsoft brings Visual Studio Code to Linux as a Snap
          • Microsoft Officially Launches Visual Studio Code as a Snap for Linux Users
          • Microsoft and Canonical Launch Visual Studio Code Snap For Linux
          • Visual Studio Code launches as a snap

            As of today, Microsoft Visual Studio Code is available for Linux as a snap, providing seamless auto-updates for its users. Visual Studio Code, a free, lightweight code editor, has redefined editors for building modern web and cloud applications, with built-in support for debugging, task running, and version control for a variety of languages and frameworks.

          • Remote collaborative design

            Hands up if you or someone in your team work remotely. I am sure there are many of you out there. One of the biggest growing trends, since I started working in the technology industry 15 years ago, is how common and accessible working from home has become. There are many advances that contributed to its adoption, but surely how we evolved our processes and the creation of specific tools to help collaborate asynchronously (and in real time) has helped a great amount.

            I wanted to share a little bit about how we collaborate on building snapcraft.io. Some of you might very well be aware of these things, but writing them down might help you think and reflect. Here comes the click-bait title – four things I wanted to know about working remotely but I was quite afraid to ask…

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Is Winning, and Now It’s Time for People to Win Too

    Teaching kids about open source? Don’t forget to teach them ethics as well.

    Back when I started college, in the fall of 1988, I was introduced to a text editor called Emacs. Actually, it wasn’t just called Emacs; it was called “GNU Emacs”. The “GNU” part, I soon learned, referred to something called “free software”, which was about far more than the fact that it was free of charge. The GNU folks talked about software with extreme intensity, as if the fate of the entire world rested on the success of their software replacing its commercial competition.

    Those of us who used such programs, either from GNU or from other, similarly freely licensed software, knew that we were using high-quality code. But to our colleagues at school and work, we were a bit weird, trusting our work to software that wasn’t backed by a large, commercial company. (I still remember, as a college intern at HP, telling the others in my group that I had compiled, installed and started to use a new shell known as “bash”, which was better than the “k shell” we all were using. Their response was somewhere between bemusement and horror.)

  • Planar graph layout, straight line drawing

    I found that this problem was not well handled by existing Free Software. The leading contender, graphviz, generally produces non-planar layouts even for planar inputs; and it does not provide a way to specify the planar embedding. There are some implementations of “straight line drawing” algorithms from the literature, but these produce layouts which meet the letter of the requirement for the drawing to consist only of nonintersecting straight lines, but they are very ugly and totally unsuitable for use as a game board layout.

    My web searches for solutions to this problem yielded only forum postings etc. where people were asking roughly this question and not getting a satisfactory answer.

    I have some experience with computer optimisation algorithms and I thought this should be a tractable problem, so I set out to solve it – well, at least well enough for my purposes.

  • Shaking Hands With OMEMO: X3DH

    In the past I have written some posts about OMEMO and its future and how it does compare to the Olm encryption protocol used by matrix.org. However, some readers requested a closer, but still straightforward look at how OMEMO and the underlying algorithms work. To get started, we first have to take a look at its past.

    OMEMO was implemented in the Android Jabber Client Conversations as part of a Google Summer of Code project by Andreas Straub in 2015. The basic idea was to utilize the encryption library used by Signal (formerly TextSecure) for message encryption. So basically OMEMO borrows almost all the cryptographic mechanisms including the Double Ratchet and X3DH from Signals encryption protocol, which is appropriately named Signal Protocol. So to begin with, lets look at it first.

    [...]

    X3DH is a key agreement protocol, meaning it is used when two parties establish a session in order to agree on a shared secret. For a conversation to be confidential we require, that only sender and (intended) recipient of a message are able to decrypt it. This is possible when they share a common secret (eg. a password or shared key). Exchanging this key with one another has long been kind of a hen and egg problem: How do you get the key from one end to the other without an adversary being able to get a copy of the key? Well, obviously by encrypting it, but how? How do you get that key to the other side? This problem has only been solved after the second world war.

    The solution is a so called Diffie-Hellman-Merkle Key Exchange. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this, as there are really great resources about how it works available online, but the basic idea is that each party possesses an asymmetric key pair consisting of a public and a private key. The public key can be shared over insecure networks while the
    private key must be kept secret. A Diffie-Hellman key exchange (DH) is the process of combining a public key A with a private key b in order to generate a shared secret. The essential trick is, that you get the same exact secret if you combine the secret key a with the public key B. Wikipedia does a great job at explaining this using an analogy of mixing colors.

  • Discover, configure, and manage your microservices with Alibaba’s new project, Nacos

    Today we take a look at a new Alibaba project named Nacos.

    Nacos is a dynamic naming and configuration service and it provides a set of features that aim to help you to realize dynamic service discovery, service configuration, service metadata, and traffic management.

    According to its GitHub repo, “service is a first-class citizen in Nacos!” So, as you can imagine, support for multiple types of services is central to this tool.

  • Focus on openness and culture when selecting collaboration technology

    Enterprise collaboration strategies have to focus and center on people. This is an organizational culture initiative. Efficient collaboration happens between people who need to interact around critical business workflows and processes. While internal collaboration is a primary focus, many enterprises lack strong support for external collaborative interactions.

    The issue at hand is that a lot of collaborative interactions happen with external people in a vast and oftentimes complex business ecosystem. External collaboration with customers, partners or suppliers can yield tremendous competitive advantage and boost a company’s bottom line. However, companies have to use a systematic approach to develop a sound and successful strategy for building collaborative ecosystems and communities.

    It’s about a culture of collaboration that flattens organizational hierarchies and supports connectedness regardless of geography. This includes a serious commitment to openness for internal and external people and systems.

  • Events

    • Daniel Stenberg: Workshop Season 4 Finale

      The 2019 HTTP Workshop ended today. In total over the years, we have now done 12 workshop days up to now. This day was not a full day and we spent it on only two major topics that both triggered long discussions involving large parts of the room.

      [...]

      Mike Bishop did an excellent presentation of HTTP/3 for HTTP people that possibly haven’t kept up fully with the developments in the QUIC working group. From a plain HTTP view, HTTP/3 is very similar feature-wise to HTTP/2 but of course sent over a completely different transport layer. (The HTTP/3 draft.)

      Most of the questions and discussions that followed were rather related to the transport, to QUIC. Its encryption, it being UDP, DOS prevention, it being “CPU hungry” etc. Deploying HTTP/3 might be a challenge for successful client side implementation, but that’s just nothing compared the totally new thing that will be necessary server-side. Web developers should largely not even have to care…

      One tidbit that was mentioned is that in current Firefox telemetry, it shows about 0.84% of all requests negotiates TLS 1.3 early data (with about 12.9% using TLS 1.3)

      Thought-worthy quote of the day comes from Willy: “everything is a buffer”

    • foss-north 2019 – it is happening

      This years experiments are the training day, and community day. Looking at the various RSVPs for the community day, it looks like we’ll be 130+ attendees. For the conference days we have only ten tickets left out of 240, beating last years record attendance with 90 people.

    • AsiaBSDcon 2019 Recap | BSD Now 292

      FreeBSD Q4 2018 status report, the GhostBSD alternative, the coolest 90s laptop, OpenSSH 8.0 with quantum computing resistant keys exchange, project trident: 18.12-U8 is here, and more.

    • NFNW 2019: What Presentations Are You Going to Attend?

      Looking over the fine list of presentations and events for LinuxFest Northwest 2019, here are my preliminary picks for which ones I want to attend. Since there are several at any given time slot, there are quite a few more I’d like to see but… conflicts. I hope they record the presentations and post them in a timely fashion.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Privacy Blog: A Path Forward: Rights and Rules to Protect Privacy in the United States

        Privacy is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Lawmakers are discussing how to legislate it, big tech is desperate to show they care about it, and everyday people are looking for tools and tips to help them reclaim it.

        That’s why today, we are publishing our blueprint for strong federal privacy legislation in the United States. Our goals are straightforward: put people back in control of their data; establish clear, effective, and enforceable rules for those using that data; and move towards greater global alignment on governing data and the role of the internet in our lives.

        For Mozilla, privacy is not optional. It’s fundamental to who we are and the work we do. It’s also fundamental to the health of the internet. Without privacy protections, we cannot trust the internet as a safe place to explore, transact, connect, and create. But thanks to a rising tide of abusive privacy practices and data breaches, trust in the internet is at an all time low.

        We’ve reached this point because data practices and public policies have failed. Data has helped spur remarkable innovation and new products, but the long-standing ‘notice-and-consent’ approach to privacy has served people poorly. And the lack of truly meaningful safeguards and user protections have led to our social, financial and even political information being misused and manipulated without our understanding.

      • Wladimir Palant: Dear Mozilla, please stop spamming!

        It clearly says that I’ve opted out, so you didn’t forget. So why do you keep sending me promotional messages?

        This isn’t your only issue however. A year ago I reported a security issue in Mozilla Basket (not publicly accessible). The essence is that subscribing anybody to Mozilla’s newsletters is trivial even if that person opted out previously. The consensus in this bug seems to be that this is “working as expected.” This cannot seriously be it, right?

      • Prep for tax season safely with Firefox Send

        It’s tax season in North America. What? No cheers? We get it. April 15 in the United States and April 30 in Canada is the deadline to submit our tax returns. No matter how prepared you are or how much you love hunting for deductions, it can be complicated and stressful. Strangely named forms, byzantine formulas and marathon math sessions are enough to put you over the edge. While we’re not financial experts, we do know that we can help you avoid the additional stress of keeping your personal data private with Firefox Send.

      • Mozilla Security Blog: Backward-Compatibility FIDO U2F support shipping soon in Firefox

        Web Authentication (WebAuthn), a recent web standard blending public-key cryptography into website logins, is our best technical response to credential phishing. That’s why we’ve championed it as a technology. The FIDO U2F API is the spiritual ancestor of WebAuthn; to-date, it’s still much more commonly used. Firefox has had experimental support for the Javascript FIDO U2F API since version 57, as it was used to validate our Web Authentication implementation that then shipped in Firefox 60. Both technologies can help secure the logins of millions of users already in possession of FIDO U2F USB tokens.

        We encourage the adoption of Web Authentication rather than the FIDO U2F API. However, some large web properties are encountering difficulty migrating: WebAuthn works with security credentials produced by the FIDO U2F API. However, WebAuthn-produced credentials cannot be used with the FIDO U2F API. For the entities affected, this could lead to poor user experiences and inhibit overall adoption of this critical technology.

        To smooth out this migration, after discussion on the mozilla.dev.platform mailing list, we have decided to enable our support for the FIDO U2F API by default for all Firefox users. It’s enabled now in Firefox Nightly 68, and we plan for it to be uplifted into Firefox Beta 67 in the coming week.

  • Databases

    • Latest Ransomware ‘Xwo’ Attacks PCs With Default Passwords [Ed: So it is not safe if you choose crap passwords. Compare to proprietary software which comes with NSA back doors.]

      Xwo is similar to another malware called Mongolock — which formats files and backups of the target PC. There is no concrete information about how Xwo started spreading, however, the ransomware mimics websites of news and cybersecurity firms. Xwo registers them under the domain name ‘.tk’ which stands for Tokelau, New Zealand.

      Xwo scans the web for default credentials using MySQL, MongoDB, Postgre SQL, etc. Default credentials for Tomcat, an open-source Jawa container, were also reported to be unsafe. This ransomware sends the scanned credentials to the command center via an HTTP POST request.

    • PostgreSQL Adds GSSAPI Encryption Support

      GSSAPI encryption support can now be used by PostgreSQL for encrypting client/server communication over the network. PostgreSQL has already supported GSSAPI (Generic Security Services Application Program Interface) as a mean of authentication while now there’s an encryption implementation if wanting to further tighten down the security on your network where you may have PostgreSQL connections/clients outside of the server itself.

  • LibreOffice

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNUnet 0.11.2 released

      We are pleased to announce the release of GNUnet 0.11.2.

      This is a bugfix release for 0.11.0, mostly fixing minor bugs, improving documentation and fixing various build issues. In terms of usability, users should be aware that there are still a large number of known open issues in particular with respect to ease of use, but also some critical privacy issues especially for mobile users. Also, the nascent network is tiny (about 200 peers) and thus unlikely to provide good anonymity or extensive amounts of interesting information. A

  • Programming/Development

    • 9 features developers should know about Selenium IDE

      There has long been a stigma associated with using record-and-playback tools for testing rather than scripted QA automation tools like Selenium Webdriver, Cypress, and WebdriverIO.

      Record-and-playbook tools are perceived to suffer from many issues, including a lack of cross-browser support, no way to run scripts in parallel or from CI build scripts, poor support for responsive web apps, and no way to quickly diagnose frontend bugs.

      Needless to say, it’s been somewhat of a rough road for these tools, and after Selenium IDE went end-of-life in 2017, many thought the road for record and playback would end altogether.

      Well, it turns out this perception was wrong. Not long after the Selenium IDE project was discontinued, my colleagues at Applitools approached the Selenium open source community to see how they could help.

    • 11 Best Linux Distros For Programming & Developers [2019 Edition]

      inux-based operating systems are often used by developers to get their work done and create something new. Their major concerns while choosing a Linux distro for programming are compatibility, power, stability, and flexibility. Distros like Ubuntu and Debian have managed to establish themselves as the top picks when it comes to best Linux distro for programming. Some of the other great choices are openSUSE, Arch Linux, etc. If you intend to buy a Raspberry Pi and start with it, Raspbian is the perfect way to start.

    • 12 Best Text Editors For Linux And Programming In 2019

      If you’re looking for a powerful text editor for Linux to kickstart programming in the year 2019, you’re at the right place. While the debate of the best programming editors for Linux won’t end anytime soon, there are many editors that bring an impressive set of features and offer great user experience to developers. While Vim, Emacs, and Nano are older and dependable players in the game, Atom, Brackets, and Sublime Text are relatively newer text editors.

    • Managing Python packages the right way

      The Python Package Index (PyPI) indexes an amazing array of libraries and applications covering every use case imaginable. However, when it comes to installing and using these packages, newcomers often find themselves running into issues with missing permissions, incompatible library dependencies, and installations that break in surprising ways.

    • POCL 1.3 RC2 Released For OpenCL On CPUs

      The Portable Computing Language implementation of OpenCL for execution on CPUs and other use-cases is buttoning up its next release as POCL 1.3.

      POCL 1.3 Release Candidate 2 is now available as the newest test release for this OpenCL-on-CPUs implementation. POCL 1.3 is bringing LLVM Clang 8.0 compiler support, ICD (installable client driver) support for macOS, HSA improvements and other features as well as bug fixes.

    • Why you should choose mindfulness over multitasking

      You have your morning coffee in hand, you’ve just finished your daily scrum, and you sit down at your computer to start your day. Up pops a Slack message. You scan your emails, then bounce back to Slack. You look at your calendar to see when your next meeting is—much to your surprise, it’s starting in 15 minutes. You get back to your desk and check your to-do list to see what tasks you can fit in before your next meeting, but one of your co-workers asks for your help to solve a problem. Before you know it, half of your day has disappeared.

      Many of my days are spent like this, juggling multiple tasks. There are moments I find myself staring at my computer with my brain at a complete halt. If you, too, find yourself in this situation, it’s probably a sign from your brain to take a break. You could be suffering from too much multitasking and decision fatigue.

      On average, adults make about 35,000 decisions every day! They can be simple decisions, such as what to eat or what to wear, or decisions that require more thought, such as where to go on your next vacation or which career to pursue. Every day you are faced with a plethora of choices to occupy your mind.

    • An Introduction to AVR Microcontrollers: The Basics

      We will be using C to program our AVR microcontrollers. If you don’t know C, this is not the place to learn it. Come back when you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics as well as have learned binary and bitwise operations.

      When developing a program on a computer, you have access only to the memory granted to you by the operating system. In a microcontroller, there often is no operating system and the result is that you have access to all memory. This allows for great flexibility, no segfaults, but also the ability to corrupt memory or alter behavior by writing to the incorrect location in memory. Luckily, this is made easier with the amazingly obvious register names (I’m being sarcastic about register names being obvious, but more about registers in a bit).

      On a computing platform with an operating system, that is, any laptop or desktop, if you try to access memory in a location that is not ‘owned’ by your program’s process ID, the program will be denied access and will terminate with a segfault error. This type of error is common when a regular variable is passed as a pointer or if a piece of information is written to a variable that is too small (known as a buffer overflow). When this type of situation occurs on a microcontroller, it just assumes that’s what you meant to do.

    • Collaboration with Anaconda, Inc.

      Just now at AnacondaCON, JetBrains CEO Max Shafirov, and Anaconda’s CEO Scott Collison announced the start of our collaboration.

    • Training Facial Recognition Algorithms with Alibaba’s Mars

      Mars is a matrix-based and universally distributed computing framework. The previous articles have described what Mars is and distributed execution in Mars, as well as introduced the source code on GitHub. After reading the introduction to Mars, you may ask, “what can you do with Mars?” A complete answer to this question depends on what you want to do. Mars, as a underlying operation library, has implemented 70% of the common NumPy interfaces. This article shows how to use Mars do what you want to do.

    • Using WindowRecording to Analyze Visual Pageload
    • Remi Collet: PHP version 7.1.28, 7.2.17 and 7.3.4
    • Python Development in Visual Studio Code (Setup Guide)
    • Update on the Python in Education Proposal Phase
    • An RPython JIT for LPegs
    • AnacondaCON 2019 Day 1 Recap: Big-Time Learning

      AnacondaCON 2019 is off to a great start. As in past years, we programmed Day 1 with product- and package-specific tutorials for those looking to get hands-on learning with Anaconda Enterprise tools. Spots in these tutorials were in high demand, with only 100 seats per session to enable closer, more one-on-one instruction. If you weren’t able to join us, here’s a peek at what you missed.

    • Wing Tips: Auto-Editing in Wing Pro (Part 2 of 3)

      Wing Pro implements a suite of auto-editing operations that take care of common low-level editing tasks. Last week we looked at creating and managing blocks in Python code.
      In part two of this Wing Tips series on Wing Pro’s auto-editing feature we turn to auto-invocation, which makes writing Python code that calls functions and methods easier and less prone to errors.

    • 15 Practical Python Set Examples with a Sample Program

      Sets are basically collection of certain items that are unordered. There is no specific order in which they are stored. In Python sets are same, but there are few differences with basic sets.

Leftovers

  • Why the EU wants to stop moving the clocks forwards and back
  • Head Kissing: An Issue for Our Times

    It strikes me as an unusual action, kissing the back of someone’s head. Sounds like a ritualistic early-Christian thing, like the baptismal kiss of the Apostolic Tradition, or the papal foot-washing and foot-kissing (such as Pope Francis does), more than sexual aggression.

    I just wonder—idly, as I do—about the appeal of the act to the transgressor. Probably has to do with scent. Pheromones are most abundant on the face, forehead and scalp. Those plus the smell of shampoo and conditioner could affect someone close up.

    The vice-president perhaps felt drawn to the back of the woman’s head, and breathing in the mix, planted a quick kiss with his lips on the crown just over the Occipital bone. Never a thought thereafter that this would be any sort of problem, it being quite public and perfunctory and after all, kind of weird.

    Not like Brett Kavanaugh pulling his penis out in front of a woman’s face, which Congress forgave him for, as you recall. But unusual.

    Lucy Flores says she felt violated. I don’t doubt she did. I probably would have. I don’t know; hard to envision.

  • Science

    • Are Academics Academic?

      The dictionary defines academic as “educational, scholastic,” as well as “not of practical relevance; of only theoretical interest.” After spending a week at an academic conference with eminent university scholars of international relations, I find it appropriate to question the relationship between the two definitions. Were the scholars and their scholastic writings “not of practical relevance” and “only of theoretical interest”?

      The formal study of international relations is a modern discipline. The oldest department in Europe was founded in 1919 at the University of Aberystwyth in Wales. The oldest on the Continent is the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva inaugurated in 1927. The latter was supposed to have an input into the work of the League of Nations and had a long tradition of training Swiss diplomats.

      Many of the schools of international relations, or now sometimes called global studies, try to combine research and degree-granting teaching with practical field work to bridge the gap. The Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA), for example, has thirty-eight member institutions throughout the world including the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). As opposed to traditional academic masters, some APSIA schools offer degrees in public administration or public policy. These professional schools often have former diplomats teaching as adjunct professors.

      [...]

      What were the scholars interested in? Largely dominated by North Americans, the conference had many panels on the decline of the liberal international order established after 1945. Questions about U.S. isolationism complemented the rise of China as well as the limitations of multilateralism in a world of increasing nationalism.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Promotion of GMO-Derived Impossible Burger at World’s Largest Natural Food Trade Show Denounced as Deceptive

      Impossible Foods served patties of their burger to attendees at the world’s largest natural food trade show — but there was no mention that the product was genetically engineered at the company’s exhibit booth or in their marketing literature.

      “We’re disappointed that the company is using a ‘natural products’ show to promote its certainly not-natural product,” said Frank Lampe, vice president of communications and industry relations, for the United Natural Products Alliance. “The halo effect of being perceived as natural by its presence at the show does not serve the natural products industry or its consumers and is a disingenuous move by Impossible Foods.”

      “Hosting the Impossible Burger at Natural Products Expo West raises questions of deceptive marketing. Consumers believe ‘natural’ means that no artificial ingredients or genetically engineered ingredients were used,” said Dana Pearls, senior food and technology policy campaigner at Friends of the Earth.

    • Nationwide Campaign Urges Cities and Towns to Pass Resolutions Supporting Medicare for All

      “By passing resolutions, local governments can help to shape the national public narrative and build political will needed to ultimately win guaranteed healthcare for everyone as a matter of right,” Melinda St. Louis, Medicare for All campaign director at Public Citizen, said in a statement.

      In just the past month, the cities of Seattle, San Francisco, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, all passed resolutions backing Medicare for All.

    • 30+ Seizures After Vaping Have FDA Questioning a Link

      Could vaping trigger seizures? That is what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now investigating, the agency announced Wednesday.

      “Today, FDA’s notifying the public of a potential emerging safety issue. We have reports indicating that some people who use e-cigs — especially youth and young adults — are experiencing seizures following their use of e-cigarettes,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a video statement posted on Twitter.

    • Memorial Sloan Kettering Leaders Violated Conflict-of-Interest Rules, Report Finds

      Top officials at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center repeatedly violated policies on financial conflicts of interest, fostering a culture in which profits appeared to take precedence over research and patient care, according to an outside review released on Thursday.

      The findings followed months of turmoil over executives’ ties to drug and health care companies at one of the nation’s leading cancer centers. The review, conducted by the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, was outlined at a staff meeting on Thursday morning.

      The cancer center also announced an extensive overhaul of policies governing employees’ relationships with outside companies and financial arrangements — including public disclosure of doctors’ ties to corporations and limits on outside work.

    • 2019 Indian General Election: Manifesto Demand for Indefinite Moratorium on GMOs

      “GMO contamination of our seeds, our foundation seed stock, will change the structure of our food at the molecular level. Any harm or toxicity that there is will remain, without the possibility of remediation or reversibility.”

      Signed by high-profile organisations and individuals, including farmer’s organisation Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, Aruna Rodrigues (Lead Petitioner: Supreme Court GMO PIL), Kavitha Kuruganti and Vandana Shiva as well as dozens of co-signatories, the manifesto demands the introduction of a biosafety protection act, which would prioritise India’s biosafety and biodiversity and implement the GMO moratorium, while preventing the import of any GMOs into India.

      The manifesto also calls for a ban on the herbicides glyphosate and glufosinate as well as for national consultations and a parliamentary debate to formulate policy to establish and incentivize agroecological systems of farming as a means of avoiding ecosystems collapse. In addition, the document wants a pledge that farmers’ traditional knowledge and inherent seed freedom will remain secure and that there should be no patents on GMO seeds or plants.

      The release of the manifesto coincides with the upcoming 2019 Indian general election, which begins in April.

    • Why is it taking so long to regulate toxic PFAS chemicals in Pennsylvania’s drinking water?

      Thousands of Pennsylvanians are being exposed to dangerous chemicals in their drinking water—many without knowing it—and some experts feel state agencies aren’t moving quickly enough to protect residents.
      The class of chemicals, known as PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances), includes more than 4,000 individual chemicals with similar properties. PFAS don’t readily break down once they’re in the environment or human bodies, so they can accumulate in animal and human tissues. The compounds, used in products such as stain- and water-resistant clothing, nonstick pots and pans, firefighting foam, carpets and furniture, are linked to health effects including testicular and kidney cancers, decreased birth weights, thyroid disease, decreased sperm quality, high cholesterol, pregnancy-induced hypertension, asthma and ulcerative colitis.

      The chemicals are increasingly found in water supplies throughout the United States. In Pennsylvania, there are 20 known contaminated sites, including at least two in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Despite the widespread contamination and mounting evidence the chemicals are harming people’s health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has yet to set a Maximum Contaminant Level, or MCL, for the compounds. This has left states like Pennsylvania on their own to protect residents, who are waiting for action without knowing what potential exposure is doing to them or their families.

    • When It Comes to Abortion Access, All Eyes Should Be on Florida

      At first glance, the state of Florida is having what looks like a very benign debate in the grand scheme of abortion rights. Florida, which has long demanded that minors either notify their parents prior to an abortion or seek out a judicial bypass instead, is considering changing that law to require that minors actually get parental permission.

      In comparison to states that surround it, a parental consent law may seem like no big deal. After all, Georgia currently is debating a full six-week gestation heartbeat ban. Mississippi already passed the same. Meanwhile, Alabama has a constitutional amendment declaring that life begins at fertilization — and a young man in the state is trying to use it to sue a clinic for allowing his girlfriend to terminate a pregnancy without his permission.

      With so many unbelievably extreme anti-abortion moves happening all around Florida’s border, does a parental consent bill really matter at all? Yes, very much so, since it could be the end of any abortion access in the South.

    • Poor Diets Killed 11 Million People in 2017: Global Nutrition Study Finds U.S. Ranked #43

      Poor diet killed 11 million people in 2017, making it a more deadly health risk than smoking, a major new study has found.

      The finding is part of a Global Burden of Disease Study published in The Lancet Wednesday that looked at dietary habits in 195 countries between 1990 and 2017. It concluded that one in five deaths per year worldwide could likely be prevented by a better diet. In 2017, poor diet led to 10 million deaths from cardiovascular disease, around 913,000 from cancer and around 339,000 from type 2 diabetes.

  • Security

    • Mar-a-Lago’s Security Problems Go Way Beyond a Thumb Drive

      “It’s really hard to lock somewhere like that down,” says Jake Williams, founder of Rendition Infosec and a former NSA hacker. “While the Secret Service can make recommendations, it is a commercial establishment at the end of the day. The more they make it like a fortress, the less people want to be there.”

    • Millions of Facebook records found on Amazon cloud servers: Report

      Millions of Facebook Inc’s user records were inadvertently posted on Amazon.com Inc’s cloud computing servers in plain sight, researchers at cybersecurity firm UpGuard reported on Wednesday.

    • Another Facebook Data Fiasco: Data Of 540 Million Users Leaked To Third-Parties

      It’s a new day and Facebook is featured in the news yet again (for the wrong reasons of course!). The Mark Zuckerberg-owned company has been found leaking data of millions of users to third-parties.

      According to a report by Research Firm UpGuard, two sets of user data has been discovered which was exposed to all.

    • Losing Face: Two More Cases of Third-Party Facebook App Data Exposure

      The UpGuard Cyber Risk team can now report that two more third-party developed Facebook app datasets have been found exposed to the public internet. One, originating from the Mexico-based media company Cultura Colectiva, weighs in at 146 gigabytes and contains over 540 million records detailing comments, likes, reactions, account names, FB IDs and more. This same type of collection, in similarly concentrated form, has been cause for concern in the recent past, given the potential uses of such data.

      A separate backup from a Facebook-integrated app titled “At the Pool” was also found exposed to the public internet via an Amazon S3 bucket. This database backup contained columns for fk_user_id, fb_user, fb_friends, fb_likes, fb_music, fb_movies, fb_books, fb_photos, fb_events, fb_groups, fb+checkins, fb_interests, password, and more. The passwords are presumably for the “At the Pool” app rather than for the user’s Facebook account, but would put users at risk who have reused the same password across accounts.

    • Tesla Autopilot ‘Hacked’ And Steered Into Oncoming Traffic Using Just 3 Stickers

      The researchers painted three tiny squares in the traffic lane to mimic merge striping and cause the car to veer into oncoming traffic in the left lane.

    • Hackers steered a Tesla into oncoming traffic by placing three small stickers on the road

      Cybersecurity researchers from Tencent’s Keen Labs were able to fool Tesla’s Autopilot into merging into oncoming traffic.

    • ea-apache24-2.4.39-1.cloudlinux major security update

      New updated ea-apache24-2.4.39-1.cloudlinux package with the major security fix is now available for download from our production repository.

    • Apache Bug Lets Attackers Gain Root Access [Ed: Better headline: Apache bug patched to prevent people already on the system getting additional access. It's not a major story. The reporter is on Microsoft GitHub.]

      Apache HTTP web server users are being urged to update their servers to patch for a critical vulnerability that could give an attacker a way to gain root access.

    • Whither WireGuard?

      It has been just over one full year since the WireGuard virtual private network implementation was reviewed here. WireGuard has advanced in a number of ways since that article was written; it has gained many happy users, has been endorsed by Linus Torvalds, and is now supported by tools like NetworkManager. There is one notable thing that has not happened, though: WireGuard has not yet been merged into the mainline kernel. After a period of silence, WireGuard is back, and it would appear that the long process of getting upstream is nearly done.
      A new version of the WireGuard patches was posted on March 22. WireGuard itself is not particularly controversial; few people have raised complaints about its design or implementation. The sticking point is the “Zinc” cryptographic library that WireGuard uses. Zinc was born out of frustration with the kernel’s current cryptographic layer, which is seen by many as being far too difficult to use. Zinc is, in essence, an entirely new cryptographic layer that sits alongside the current code, duplicating a lot of functionality within the kernel but providing an easier interface for cryptographic tasks.

      There are a few complaints that have been heard about Zinc. One of those revolves around the fact that Zinc isn’t just a new API for accessing cryptographic algorithms; it also includes it own implementation of those algorithms, duplicating functionality that the kernel already has. WireGuard author Jason Donenfeld defends these new implementations, probably correctly, as having been subjected to a higher level of cryptographic review. Kernel developers strongly dislike this kind of duplication, though; they will argue that, if the new implementation of a specific algorithm is better, it should simply replace the existing one rather than duplicating it. That way, there is only one version to maintain, and all users will be able to take advantage of whatever benefits it offers.

      The duplicated algorithms have been a sticking point for some time, but it would appear that a solution is in the works. Crypto maintainer Herbert Xu has posted a version of Zinc that introduces the new API, but which uses the existing algorithm implementations rather than Donenfeld’s new ones. That makes the API available for users like WireGuard while removing the new algorithm implementations from the discussion for now. Those implementations can, in the future, be evaluated on their own merits and merged, one at a time, when a consensus emerges that they are better.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Google Releases Android Security Patch for April 2019 with 89 Security Fixes
    • Security Researchers say Half Of Industrial Control System Networks Have Faced Cyber Attacks
    • Serious Apache server bug gives root to baddies in shared host environments
    • Apache needs a patchy! Carpe Diem, update now

      The maintainers of the world’s most popular web server, Apache HTTP Server, have patched a critical vulnerability that could give an attacker a way to gain full ‘root’ admin control on Unix-based systems.

      Named ‘Carpe Diem’ by the researcher who discovered it, Ambionics engineer Charles Fol, techies might prefer to first read his account of what is now identified as CVE-2019-0211 rather than the notification on the Apache Software Foundation’s official site which is light on detail.

    • New Bashlite malware wants your Belkin WeMo smart plugs for cryptocurrency mining

      The age of smart devices might bring convenience to our homes, but it also comes with additional potential dangers, including the risk of devices being infected by malware. Trend Micro has discovered a new version of the Bashlite malware, which is specifically designed to attack Belkin Wemo smart devices.

      Launched in 2014, Bashlite was developed to infect Linux machines, adding them to a botnet that can be used to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to bring down targeted systems.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Incoming: Anthropologist’s Study Challenges Claim That Humans are Hardwired for War
    • House Votes to End Support for Yemen War, Rebuffing Trump

      The House on Thursday voted to end American involvement in the Yemen war, rebuffing the Trump administration’s support for the military campaign led by Saudi Arabia.

      The bill now heads to President Donald Trump, who is expected to veto it. The White House says the measure raises “serious constitutional concerns,” and Congress lacks the votes to override him.

      By a 247-175 vote, Congress for the first time invoked the decades-old War Powers Resolution to try and stop a foreign conflict. The Senate vote was 54-46 on March 13.

      “The president will have to face the reality that Congress is no longer going to ignore its constitutional obligations when it comes to foreign policy,” said Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He said the humanitarian crisis in Yemen triggered by the war “demands moral leadership.”

    • Legislation to End Military Support in Yemen Blocked; Humanitarian Crisis Continues

      The Trump administration is threatening to veto legislation, passed by the House on February 13, 2019, to stop aiding the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. The US government was previously under fire for its support to the campaign after reports of child soldiers as young as 14 years old began to surface in late 2018.

      Tensions are still running high in the dispute on Saudi Arabia between lawmakers and Trump, who is threatening to veto the resolution if it makes it to his desk. The Yemen war resolution, which passed the House in a 248-177 vote, has been blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who won’t allow the floor vote if Trump won’t sign the legislation.

    • The Militarization of Johns Hopkins Exposes a Nationwide Trend

      Students at Johns Hopkins University — joined by neighborhood groups, workers’ unions and left-leaning advocacy organizations — are currently occupying the university administration building on campus, demanding an immediate end to the university’s push for an armed private police force and its contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

      The sit-in — which started at 1 pm on Wednesday, April 3 — is part of a broader set of community protests organized in response to the Maryland State General Assembly’s decision earlier this week to approve a law allowing Johns Hopkins to create its own armed private police department, complete with arrest powers and state protections. This marks the first time that a private institution in Maryland will have the authority to use force and make arrests through a privately owned and controlled police force.

      As activists involved in the sit-in, we are writing from inside the building occupation to spread awareness that, while an armed private police force is new to the state, this type of militarization is the modus operandi for our university. Johns Hopkins has long been one of the Defense Department’s largest academic contractors, engineering some of the U.S. military’s deadliest weapons through its Orwellian “Applied Physics Lab.”

      Moreover, student activists discovered recently that Johns Hopkins has been profiting from lucrative contracts with ICE — the brutal organization responsible for violent detention and deportation of immigrants across the country — to the tune of millions of dollars for medical and leadership training of enforcement officers.

    • Pentagon’s $1 Billion for Wall: A Door-Opener to Crucial Fixes for Infrastructure, Environment?

      Now that President Donald Trump’s sleight-of-hand has just moved $1 billion and soon possibly $5.1 billion more from the Pentagon’s $674 billion FY2019 allocation to furnish labor and materials to build his border wall, he’s opened precedent to actions he’s probably never imagined. But domestic activists surely can—and will—if fast enough. So could those in Congress once they stop caterwauling about his “reprogramming” Defense funds they stipulated only for “repairs to existing structures.”

      The Corps of Engineers has been assigned to build that “emergency” wall—plus fix roads, lighting in the Yuma-El Paso areas—with Army personnel, construction materials, and vehicles on the American taxpayers’ allocation to the Pentagon’s spending. For FY2020 its take of a proposed $750 billion from federal appropriations is nearly 53 percent of $1.4 billion in the discretionary spending section.

      However, because of that action and the Pentagon’s past use of “reprogramming,” the doors could also swing wide to “reprogramming” billions for two real and major national emergency crises threatening our domestic security, let alone the Constitutional guarantee of providing for the common defense, ensuring domestic tranquility, and promoting the general welfare of the American people. The two threats are the oncoming environmental catastrophies and infrastructure repairs to prevent the pending collapse of the nation’s bridges, highways, railways, waterways, dams, levees, and airports.

    • Has the US Lost Its Military Supremacy Over Russia?

      This statement is in keeping with what Martyanov sees as his book’s key mission, to assist his native country in defending its national sovereignty, which entails acting to prevent a nuclear world war. As he states in the conclusion of his book, “Losing Military Supremacy”, he is most worried that it is the United States that will pull the triggers to set off World War III.

      “The main task today is to prevent by all means any possibility of this delusional, self-proclaimed exceptional nation unleashing Armageddon because of frustration with its own weakness…” so well exposed by now.

      Martyanov refers to the fact that despite all the hubris, the US has failed to win most of the wars it has started since WWII. Korea was a stalemate. It lost to Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos. Afghanistan will never be conquered. The victory over a much inferior Iraqi military largely destroyed the cradle of civilization and left nearly all its people hating the US. The current government wants the US out of its country. The US got rid of Libya’s leader Gaddafi only to be replaced by three internally fighting self-declared governments, whose extremist Muslims wantonly murder, smuggle and enslave people. The once richest people in Africa are now among the poorest. The US has divided people in Syria, and Ukraine where they placed a neo-fascist coup government in power.

      The US’s military thinks in offensive weaponry much more so than in defensive ones. It couldn’t even defend its most hallowed buildings, including the Pentagon, from 19 terrorists in 2001. Seventy percent of military funding is aimed at fighting wars abroad to take other lands’ resources.

    • India, Pakistan, and a Planet in Peril

      There are a few genuinely upbeat news stories when it comes to this planet and people trying to figure out how to save us from ourselves and our fossil-fuel addiction. This at a moment of record global surface temperatures and record ocean heating when, despite the Paris climate accord of 2015, carbon dioxide from those fossil fuels is once again entering the atmosphere in record amounts. Take little Costa Rica, where Claudia Dobles, an urban planner who just happens to be the wife of the country’s president, has launched a model national decarbonization plan aimed at fully weaning that country off even the slightest reliance on fossil fuels by 2050. Or consider Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, whose mayor, Frank Jensen, is working to make it “carbon neutral” by 2022. Or think about the scientists now exploring far more controversial and futuristic geo-engineering schemes to try to deal with a world that could, in the decades to come, run amuck in global-warming terms — including the possibility of spraying planet-cooling aerosols like sulfur dioxide (in imitation of the gases emitted by volcanoes) into the atmosphere to reverse the effects of global warming.

      Of course, while all of the above are hopeful, none of them offer full-scale solutions to a crisis that threatens to quite literally sink not just cities, but potentially civilization itself. As it happens, there is an obvious solution to the climate-change crisis staring us all in the face, one that TomDispatch regular Dilip Hiro (author of a particularly timely new book, Cold War in the Islamic World: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Struggle for Supremacy), brings up today. Forget Costa Rica, Copenhagen, aerosols, even that climate accord. Forget Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. Forget it all. On a planet that’s teetered at the edge of one kind of nuclear holocaust or another since mid-last century, there’s always the possibility that nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, so often near, or in, conflict, could go to war and it might prove to be the war to end all wars.

      At any moment, as Hiro explains, some act of terror could set them off in a way that would lead to the planet’s first actual nuclear war. And here’s the thing: scientists believe that such a war in South Asia could not only kill millions in those two countries, but throw enough smoke and soot particulates into the atmosphere to cause a global nuclear winter. In that case, it’s estimated that somewhere between one and two billion inhabitants of this planet could die (mainly due to crop failures and starvation). But one problem created, another solved: climate change would, at least for the immediate future, be a thing of the past (as would a significant part of humanity). With that in mind, read Hiro, and think about a species that might have to rely on nuclear war to solve its problems.

    • On Anniversary of Anti-Nuclear Weapons Protest, Plowshares Activists Petition Calls for Renewal of Movement, Dismissal of Charges
    • NATO was born 70 years ago today. Moscow has always viewed it as a threat, but that hasn’t prevented three attempts to join the alliance.

      On April 4, 1949, representatives from twelve countries in North America and Western Europe met in Washington, D.C., to sign the North Atlantic Treaty, giving rise to the NATO military alliance. From the very beginning, the organization was designed to defend against a potential conflict with the Soviet Union. As the center of both the USSR and the Russian Federation, Moscow has viewed NATO as a major national security threat. Nevertheless, the possibility of Russia joining the military alliance has surfaced multiple times throughout NATO’s 70-year existence.

    • With Friends Like These: Abusive Frenemies and American Mideast Policy

      Ready for the (not-so) shocking answers? So, the military dictatorship is Egypt – recipient of $1.3 billion in military aid per annum. The nation that conquered and annexed adjacent territory is Israel – the donee of some $3.1 billion in military aid each year; and, ironically, the state that US leaders regularly (if incorrectly) tout as the “only democracy in the Mideast.” And the charming, child-starving, woman-beheading regime: that’s the theocracy and absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia – future owner (maybe) of a record $110 billion in US military equipment. Now that’s a proud lot!

      [...]

      Values, so to speak, cannot be separated from and are inextricably linked to strategy. As such, over the last 18 years the combination of American military hyper-interventionism and nefarious alliances has been utterly counterproductive – destabilizing the region, emboldening jihadis, and endangering the Homeland. And make no mistake: libertarians, “realists,” progressives, and (believe it or not) conventional national security hawks, should ultimately agree with this proposition; if, that is, each could set aside partisan tribal affiliations and do what’s right for the country they purport to love. So don’t bet on it.

      Nevertheless, consider an historical analogy. In the Cold War – for which, oddly, many hawkish observers seem to pine – the United States set aside its values of liberty and democracy in favor of reflexive anti-communism. Thus, Washington would back, aid, fund, or place in power right-wing dictatorial regimes that abused their citizens and (sometimes) regional neighbors. The priority became promoting capitalism and (superficially) decreasing the zero-sum global influence of the Soviet Union. All this, of course, was based on the false assumption that worldwide communism was a monolith intent on world conquest. It wasn’t. The major communist powers – think Russia and China – went to war with each other just as often.

    • Child Death Toll in Afghanistan Rises Due to US Airstrikes

      The civilian death rate in Afghanistan is at an all-time high partially due to an increase in US military airstrikes. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented more than 3,800 civilian deaths in the country in 2018, including an estimated 930 children and 11,000 civil casualties. Although most of these deaths were a direct result of Taliban action, it has been determined that the US is responsible for about a quarter of the lives lost. However, US forces have killed more children than their adversaries this year due to airstrikes.

      Ramping up airstrikes has been part of the Trump administration’s strategy to force the Taliban to consider negotiation, and the US dropped more munitions than in the last three years combined. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began recording civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2009. The mission routinely attributes more casualties to US forces than the Pentagon does, citing different methodologies, the US military regularly disputes.

    • Highlighting Israel’s Claims of Conquest, NYT Creates Confusion on Status of Occupied Territory

      When the New York Times (3/26/19) reported on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fait accompli pronouncement that nation-states can now seize territories acquired in defensive wars—after President Donald Trump announced via tweet that the United States asserts Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights—it seriously misled readers on the status of Israel’s illegal settlements on the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

      While the Washington Post’s report (3/26/19) on Netanyahu’s pronouncement made it clear that UN Security Council Resolution 497 in 1981 condemned Israel’s formal takeover of the Golan Heights as “null and void and without international legal effect,” the Times report, by David Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner, obscures the illegality of Israeli settlements by attempting to make “practical and legal distinctions” between the settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

      This is not novel behavior. FAIR (6/26/02) has noted before that despite the lack of direct government interference, as is the case with Israeli media (Jerusalem Post, 7/12/18), the mass media in the United States often offer euphemistic descriptions of Israel’s settlements, pretending that they’re less of a blatant violation of international law than they really are.

    • The Anti-Democratic Roots of NATO

      The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) must be understood from its roots, which is anti-democratic says Yves Engler, while discussing his four part print series on The Real News

    • Rejecting Demand to Leave Venezuela, Russia’s Lavrov Says ‘Whole World Dotted’ With US Soldiers

      Pointing to “the map of the U.S. military bases” around the world as evidence of American imperialism, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday his country has no plans to remove the small number of troops it has stationed in Venezuela despite- Trump administration demands to withdraw.

      On March 24, a Russian military plane landed in Venezuela, depositing around 100 Russian soldiers in the country, as Common Dreams reported at the time. The move was “akin to tripwire” against U.S. intervention in Venezuela, said Washington Institute fellow Soner Cagaptay.

      The move angered U.S. officials and, on March 29, President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton issued a statement criticizing Russia for its presence in the Latin American country.

    • To Ramp Up Fear of Russia in Africa, NYT Downplays Massive US Military Presence on Continent

      The New York Times (3/31/19) reports that Russia is “steadily expanding its military influence across Africa,” “expanding Moscow’s military sway on the continent” in hopes of “returning Russia to its former glory.”

      The New York Times (3/31/19) added to its series of reports depicting Official Enemies surpassing the US in the race for global dominance. It seems that having taken control of the Arctic (FAIR.org, 9/15/15), the nuclear domain (FAIR.org, 3/7/18) and a whole host of other spaces the US is “behind” in, Russia is now gobbling up Africa—a threat the US, presumably, must counter with an even greater military build-up.

    • ‘Historic’ Yemen Vote Puts Power to End US Complicity in World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis in Trump’s Hands

      “President Trump has threatened to veto the resolution, but he could and most certainly should change his mind,” Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said in a statement following the 247-175 vote.

      While 16 Republicans joined the 231 Democrats who all voted in favor of the resolution, all 175 “no” votes came from the GOP. Read the full roll call here.

      “For Trump, this vote poses some theoretically simple questions,” added Martin. “Does he want to continue violating the Constitution to support a famine-inducing intervention responsible for the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet? Does he think arming and advising countries that give U.S. weapons to al Qaeda is an acceptable cost of doing business?”

      Passage of the Yemen War Powers resolution came after the GOP’s failed attempt to sabotage the legislation by inserting language condemning the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The Republican amendment resoundingly failed.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Half a degree may make heat impact far worse

      Japanese scientists have found new evidence that a global average temperature rise as small as half a degree could have a drastic effect.

      They conclude that the world cannot afford to delay action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming to 1.5°C by 2100 – the “ideal target” enshrined in the promise by 195 nations to limit warming to well below 2°C above the long-term average for most of human history.

      The evidence is this: a shift of even 0.5°C could make a dramatic difference to the risks of devastating droughts and calamitous floods.

    • ‘Dead Corals Don’t Make Babies’: New Great Barrier Reef Coral Growth Declined 89% After Back-to-Back Bleaching Events

      The back-to-back coral bleaching events that damaged two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017 have had a lasting impact on the health of the largest living structure on earth.

      A study published in Nature Wednesday found that the death of corals in 2016 and 2017 has significantly decreased the ability of new corals to grow and thrive. In 2018, there has been an 89 percent decline in the number of new corals on the reef compared to the historic record.

      “Dead corals don’t make babies,” lead author and James Cook University professor Terry Hughes said, as BBC News reported.

    • Greens stand ready to fight EU elections

      Molly Scott Cato MEP, Green Party Brexit spokesperson, said:

      “A longer extension would give the country valuable breathing space for more democratic engagement and provide an opportunity for the many millions of people who believe our best future lies in the EU to vote for pro-EU, pro-remain candidates in the European elections.

      “The Green Party stands ready to fight EU elections. We plan to use these democratic and proportional elections to mobilise one of the strongest pro-EU movements anywhere on the continent and champion a fairer, greener, more democratic EU.

    • ‘Defend the Living Planet’: Bold Campaign Says Healing the Earth Can Fight Climate Breakdown

      A group of activists, experts and writers on Wednesday launched a bold new campaign calling for the “thrilling but neglected approach” of embracing nature’s awesome restorative powers to battle the existential crises of climate and ecological breakdown.

    • Dangerous Plastics Are a Threat to Us and Future Generations

      A 2004 study of 2,517 people found that 93% had detectable quantities of BPA’s by-product in their urine.

      Since the toxic effects of BPA came to light, several replacement bisphenols were quickly brought to market by chemical companies and are now in widespread use. Twenty years after the BPA toxicity discovery, by remarkable chance, the same Washington State University lab recently noticed again that something was amiss with their mice. This time the mice were housed in cages comprised of replacement bisphenols, largely believed to be safer than BPA. The researchers subsequently performed controlled studies with several of the replacement bisphenols including BPS, a widely used replacement.

      Results demonstrated that the new bisphenols behaved similarly to BPA, causing health problems including detrimental effects on fertility in both males and females, reported in Cell Biology in September 2018. Scientist Sarah Hunt explained, “This paper reports a strange déjà vu experience in our laboratory.” What the lab discovered once with BPA, it was seeing again with the replacements. Perhaps most troubling were the long-lasting effects of the toxins. Even if all bisphenols could be magically eliminated today, the toxic effects would still last about three generations through the germline of people already exposed. This means bisphenols ingested today could affect the fertility of one’s great grandchildren.

    • This Urban Farm Grows Strawberries in Shipping Containers in Central Paris

      Agricool is a Parisian urban agriculture tech start-up that recently raised $28 million to scale its business: growing strawberries in reclaimed shipping containers in central Paris using vertical farming methods. Since the plants are cultivated using aeroponics — that is, by spraying a mist of water and nutrients on the plants’ exposed roots (as opposed to the plants growing in soil) — their process uses 90 percent less water than conventional agriculture. Pesticides aren’t needed because they grow in a controlled environment, and their carbon footprint is almost nonexistent because the transportation radius is less than 20 kilometers. Additionally, they claim to be 120 times more productive than traditional, soil-based agriculture, and their LED lights are powered by renewable energy.

    • Visionary Study Shows How 30 Percent of World’s Ocean Could Be Made Sanctuaries by 2030

      The climate action group Greenpeace released a report Thursday which lays out a plan for how world leaders can protect more than 30 percent of the world’s oceans in the next decade—as world governments meet at United Nations to create a historic Global Oceans Treaty aimed at strictly regulating activities which have damaged marine life.

      In the report—titled “30×30: A Blueprint for Ocean Protection” (pdf)—researchers from the Universities of York and Oxford divided the world’s oceans into 25,000 62-square mile sections, mapping out a network of “ocean sanctuaries” which could be created to help recover lost biodiversity.

      “The findings in this report show that it is entirely feasible to design an ecologically representative, planet-wide network of high seas protected areas to address the crisis facing our oceans and enable their recovery,” reads the report. “The need is immediate and the means readily available. All that is required is the political will.”

    • ‘A Significant Moment’: UN Panel Demands to Know What US Is Doing to Protect Human Rights Amid Climate Crisis

      The world’s oldest human rights panel took an historic step Thursday when it demanded to know what the U.S. has done to protect Americans and all people from the effects of the climate crisis.

      The U.N. Human Rights Committee asked the U.S. government to provide information on the policies it has implemented to defend the “right to life” from the changing climate.

    • Corporate Media More Worried About Avocado Toast Than Human Lives

      Trump’s border policies display zero regard for human rights, but for several news outlets, as Trump foments xenophobia, what’s at stake is brunch.

      The New York Times (4/1/19) warned on Monday that the “beloved avocado” may soon be harder to come by in the US after President Donald Trump threatened in a tweet to close the Mexico border over migration. “The rise in the popularity of the avocado would not have been possible without trade with Mexico,” according to the Times.

      CNN (4/2/19) reported, “The United States gets nearly 90 percent of its avocado imports from Mexico,” warning that “the US could run out of the trendy toast-topper in just three weeks.”

      “If US/Mexico border closed, avocados would soon be toast, for starters,” CBS News (4/1/19) warned.

    • Fossil Fuel Trade Associations Spent $1.4 Billion on Ads in Past Decade
    • On Health of the Great Barrier Reef and Case of Sacked Scientist Peter Ridd, Sky News Creates Alternate Reality

      Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is in some serious trouble, with the latest research in the journal Nature showing the number of new corals has dropped by 89 percent.

      In 2016 and 2017, the reef was smashed by back-to-back mass bleaching events and heat stress caused by global warming that killed about half the corals.

      “Dead corals don’t make babies,” said James Cook University’s Professor Terry Hughes, the paper’s lead author.

      “We used to think that the Great Barrier Reef was too big to fail — until now,” added colleague Professor Morgan Pratchett.

    • Climate Panel Disbanded by Trump Launches Independent Network to Tackle Crisis at Local Level

      The new Science for Climate Action Network (SCAN) “will convene teams of scientists, climate experts, and state, and local officials to identify best practices in an ongoing process,” according to a press release from the group. “The network will work with the latest science and technology, including the use of artificial intelligence to process city data and citizen science to collect missing data on impacts.”

      As the Trump administration continues to rolls back federal climate policies, communities throughout the United States are working to curb greenhouse gas emissions and respond to threats posed by the worsening global climate crisis—from risings seas and catastrophic flooding to more frequent and powerful extreme weather events.

      By establishing SCAN, the group hopes to help federal agencies; state, local, and tribal governments; researchers; non-governmental organizations; and businesses better understand climate science so it “can be integrated into existing decision frameworks and used in adaptation and mitigation.”

      “Integrating climate science into everyday decisions is not just smart planning, it is an urgent necessity,” Daniel Zarrilli, New York City’s chief climate policy adviser, said in a statement.

    • Big Oil Linked to Human Trafficking of Indigenous Women and Girls

      In August 2018, Kayla Walsh reported for Earth Island Journal on the link between extractive oil industries and human trafficking of indigenous tribal communities. Walsh’s report covers Enbridge Energy’s plans to build a massive crude oil pipeline, referred to as “Line 3”, through tribal land in Minnesota. As thousands of itinerant workers come to work on the construction of the pipeline, they are housed in temporary housing called “man camps.” Walsh reports that these “man camps” correlate with an “increase in human trafficking, missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and Two Spirit people (who are believed to have both feminine and masculine spirits).”

      As Walsh reported, the United Nations Development Program has stated that fossil fuel industries perpetuate violence, environmental harm, gender inequalities, and displacement, while the US Department of State has acknowledged that the link between extractive industries and sex-trafficking is “increasingly an issue of grave concern.” In Northern Minnesota, Walsh reported, when indigenous girls go missing, “the Bakken oil fields is often the first place that the authorities look.”

  • Finance

    • Elizabeth Warren proposes holding execs criminally liable for scams and data breaches

      A new bill from Senator Elizabeth Warren proposes personal, criminal liability for top executives of companies turning over more than $1B/year when those companies experience data breaches and scams due to negligence (many of the recent high-profile breaches would qualify, including the Equifax giga-breach, as well as many of Wells Fargo’s string of scams and scandals).

    • Elizabeth Warren wants jail time for CEOs in Equifax-style breaches

      Massachusetts US Senator turned Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren wants to make sure that CEOs who preside over massive data breaches in the future don’t get off so easily. On Wednesday, she announced the Corporate Executive Accountability Act, which would impose jail time on corporate executives who “negligently permit or fail to prevent” a “violation of the law” that “affects the health, safety, finances or personal data” of 1 percent of the population of any state.

      A CEO could get up to a year in prison for a first offense. Repeat offenders could get three years.

    • ‘Important Step Toward Transparency’: Democrats Formally Demand Trump’s Tax Returns

      Under significant pressure from progressive advocacy groups, Democratic Rep. Richard Neal on Wednesday formally requested President Donald Trump’s tax returns—setting the stage for what many expect to be a lengthy legal battle.

      Tax March, a progressive organization that for months has urged Neal to request the president’s returns immediately, applauded the House Ways and Means chairman for acting.

      “We commend Chairman Neal for finally taking the necessary action to conduct effective oversight of President Trump and his administration,” said Tax March executive director Maura Quint.

      “While we had hoped this action would have been taken earlier,” Quint added, “we trust that Chairman Neal will effectively and efficiently manage this process to bring the American people answers about Trump’s numerous conflicts of interest, dubious tax schemes, and allegations of fraud.”

    • New Tricks, Same Brexit

      Ziggy May is still prime minister, despite the fact that her Brexit deal has been thrice voted down by parliament, and despite her announcing that she would leave office once her deal was passed.

      The Maybot is still PM because the bait offered by her quid pro quo was not enough to prevent a 3rd defeat. After this defeat, she said that a 4th vote on her deal will be decisive– if she loses again, she was going to call a general election. We can take her words here with a hefty pinch of salt. May has gone back on nearly everything she has said, sometimes more than once.

      Throughout this fiasco, which has been going on for nearly 3 years after the Brexit referendum, May has displayed a remarkable combination of stubbornness, stupidity, ineptitude, and supreme ability to believe her own fantasies, to the point where some suspect she has an altar devoted to the worship of unicorns in the PM’s official residence.

    • Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Trump and the Super Rich When It Comes to Beauty

      We see and judge women based on the perspective of super rich white men who also tend to own the beauty competitions and the cosmetic companies.

      If Donald Trump met me, he would probably say I was ugly. He wouldn’t see the degrees, published books and articles, or the gentle being that I am, and instead he’d see measurements. That doesn’t bother me at all, because Trump and people in similar positions of power are not qualified to even talk about beauty.

      For two decades, Trump owned the Miss Universe beauty pageant. Contestants confirmed that he would enter Miss Teen USA changing rooms while women and girls were undressing. He even bragged about it on television, stating“ I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant. And therefore I’m inspecting it… Is everyone OK? You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible-looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that.” One former competitor described in her memoir how Trump would line the women up and inspect them “closer than any general ever inspected a platoon”.

    • Sitting Pretty on a Sinking Ship: Neoliberal Feminism

      For a number of years now I’ve been confounded by watching many of the straight upper-middle class women in the United States appearing to slide backwards in time into much more traditional roles. Why do so many women still do the heavy lifting of childcare, grocery shopping, housekeeping and cooking? Why do so many of them put the needs of their male partners and bosses first and their own needs last? Why have so many of them whole-heartedly embraced sports when I doubt that most of them were not sports fanatics before they were in relationships with men who are? These were the roles we struggled to break out of in the 60’s and 70’s. Yet in the seven cases I will present I will describe six women who consider themselves feminists. How can we explain this?

      What does it mean to be a feminist in the United States today? Historically we have had liberal feminists and radical socialist feminists, but what do we make of the Pink Pussycats? Granted, they are not radical feminists, but are they liberal? The term “liberal” has become a moth-eaten word used by both sympathizers and demonizers. For now, we will put the word aside. First I will describe experientially what second-wave feminism attempted to do. Then I will describe the lives of seven women I know, six of whom claim to be feminists and certainly see themselves as Pink Pussycats. Finally, I will address the relationship between the Pink Pussycats and liberalism. My claim is that the Pink Pussycats are not liberal in the sense of second-wave feminism and the New-Deal liberalism of Roosevelt. Rather, they are instead “neo-liberal” feminists, who follow the neoliberal trend of the mid 1980’s, started by the Democratic Leadership Council. The reference to the sinking ship refers to the decline in the standard of living under capitalism, in which they are mightily trying to keep their heads above water.

    • Wendy’s Owner Gives Big to Trump While Refusing Farmworkers’ Demands

      Since January 2013, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has been mounting an effort to pressure Wendy’s to participate in its Fair Food Program, which ensures better wages and safer working conditions for Florida’s tomato pickers. The CIW has been organizing in Florida for over two decades, and its efforts have been widely recognized for improving the lives of thousands of farmworkers.

      The New York Times noted in a recent article that the CIW “has persuaded companies like Walmart and McDonald’s to buy their tomatoes from growers who follow strict labor standards,” but that “high-profile holdouts have threatened to halt the effort’s progress.” The CIW is now “raising pressure on one of the most prominent holdouts — Wendy’s — which it sees as an obstacle to expansion.” The CIW and its supporters have launched a campaign to get officials at colleges campuses with Wendy’s restaurants to “either remove the chain from campus or block it from doing business there in the future,” according to the Times.

      One big fact the Times article failed to note is that the real power behind Wendy’s is a prominent hedge fund run by a well-known Trump donor who owns a $123.1 million Palm Beach estate that sits next to one of Trump’s former properties.

    • From Pre-K On, US Schools Privilege the Already Privileged

      The college bribery admissions scandal called “Operation Varsity Blues” has exposed the opportunities for corruption afforded wealthy parents so eager to secure admission for their children to elite colleges and universities that they willingly pay tens of thousands of dollars to game a system already skewed in their favor. Falsified Scholastic Aptitude Tests, photo-shopped pictures touting participation in sports that applicants never played, use of a charitable organization to launder bribe money paid to coaches and administrators: the sheer cockiness of the seven-year scheme shocked some and angered many, especially families of color and lower-income families, for whom admission to an elite school is often an intergenerational dream achieved only through sheer grit and access to opportunities that reward hard work.

      While an incredulous disdain for traditions like legacy admissions and use of large donations to literally buy a child’s way into elite schools has occupied much of the public discourse, too little attention has been given to the public policies that disadvantage children in low-income communities starting as early as pre-K. Wealthier families able to afford the private cost of making their children’s college applications sing — with money spent on tutors, travel and enrichment like music lessons and technology camps — are often already ahead in their public dollars, too, as they receive more spending per student in the neighborhood schools their children attend. Lower-income families are marginalized years before their children take the PSATs because of inequities in school funding that reduce government per-child investment in their learning.

    • Progressives Fight Back Against Centrist Democrats’ Ploy to ‘Water Down’ $15 Minimum Wage Bill

      Politico first reported Thursday that leaders of the Progressive Caucus are “lobbying fellow Democrats to help extinguish” the moderate faction’s proposal, which is expected to be introduced on Thursday.

      The moderates’ legislation—led by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.)—would establish a “regional wage” adjusted to local cost of living, as opposed to the $15 federal minimum proposed by the Raise the Wage Act.

      But Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the lead author of the Raise the Wage Act, said a regional wage would harm low-income families.

      “Low-income areas would be locked in to lower wages,” Scott told Politico. “We don’t have differentiated payments for Social Security.”

      An anonymous progressive aide echoed Scott, telling Politico that the “regional minimum wage proposal is a clear attempt to water down the Raise the Wage Act.”

      “Poverty wages shouldn’t be acceptable anywhere in America,” the aide said.

      Progressive activists have also expressed opposition to regional wage plans.

      In a letter to the Washington Post published late Wednesday, Rev. William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign and Mary Kay Henry of the Service Employees International Union said a regional wage “would exacerbate existing racial and geographic disparities that have kept millions of workers behind for decades.”

      “Half of black workers across the country live in states where the minimum wage has stayed at or below $7.25 an hour, most concentrated in the South,” Barber and Henry wrote. “And, ironically, while a regional wage would harm black workers, especially black women, the worst, it would end up hurting workers of all colors by keeping a decent wage floor perpetually out of reach.”

    • The Invisible People: France’s Yellow Vest Revolt Against Macron & Elites Reaches 20 Weeks

      Yellow vest protesters took to the streets of Paris on Saturday for the 20th straight week of anti-government demonstrations, in spite of the French authorities’ crackdown on the movement. Last month, the French government deployed military forces and banned protesters from marching on the Champs-Élysées and in other areas, after clashes with the police, nearly 200 arrests and damage to businesses by some protesters. Police used tear gas and water cannons on crowds in Paris. More than 33,000 demonstrators nationwide joined the demonstrations Saturday, down from nearly 300,000 in November, according to government estimates. The weekly protests began last year when France announced plans to hike gas taxes, with demonstrators across France taking to the streets to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s government. The demonstrators gained their name by wearing the yellow safety vests that French drivers are required to keep in their cars in case of emergency. Since then, in protests that have now lasted five months, the “yellow vests” have called out Macron’s pro-business economic policies, demanding fair wages for working- and middle-class citizens, and heavier taxation on the wealthy. We go to Paris to speak with Alexis Poulin, the co-founder of the news website Le Monde Moderne.

    • The PHASE-in $15 Act Would Lock in Low Wages for Millions of Workers

      The Paying Hourly Americans Stronger Earnings (PHASE)-in $15 Wage Act, which would establish regional minimum wages throughout the country, would do little more than lock in low wages for millions of workers in parts of the country where large national employers pay as little as they can get away with.

      Twenty-one percent of low-wage workers live in an area that would see a minimum wage of $11.50 in 2024 under this proposal—equivalent to around $10.00 in today’s dollars. And another 22 percent of low-wage workers live in an area where the minimum wage would increase to only $12.10 in 2024—or around $10.50 in today’s dollars. That means a total of 43 percent of low-wage workers live in areas that, under this proposal, would have a minimum wage of $10.50 or less in today’s dollars.

      There is nowhere in the country where $10.00 or $10.50 an hour is enough for anyone, even a single individual without children, to afford a secure standard of living. Proposing such a low minimum wage for any region is an insult to the workers in this country who are simply trying to provide for themselves and their families. Setting regional differences with wages this depressed as federal policy isn’t a way to raise wages in lower cost-of-living areas—it simply ensures wages for workers struggling in those areas will remain shamefully low.

    • Success through Similar Ideology in Worker-Owned Businesses

      Research suggests that building a strong and powerful shared ideology within a worker-owned business is the key to success, Tim Armstrong reported in the Socialist Entrepreneur. The research describes why worker-owned firms should be treated like Kibbutzim, radical Jewish communes. In each, Armstrong reports, values shared within the community allow everyone to be more united, leading to success. Armstrong cites a 1997 study by Tal Simons and Paul Ingram, which showed that, in Armstrong’s words, how, between 1951-1965, Israeli Kibbutzim struggled “ to resist degenerating into capitalist organizations and to stick to their founding socialist principals.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How Rupert Murdoch’s Empire of Influence Remade the World

      Murdoch and his children have toppled governments on two continents and destabilized the most important democracy on Earth. What do they want?

    • The End of the Politician (in a Fashion)

      The structures of politics have become so rigid, so distant, and ultimately so irrelevant to those who vote for them that a trend through countries can now be confirmed. Brittleness has set it. The part and election strategists have few answers, they, who saw the voter as yet another subject, another follower, another convert of a faith. The churches and their following have been turned into secular sceptics and the disenchanted. The non-politician who, nonetheless practices a craft of politics (we are all Aristotle’s creatures), has become a burning disruption.

      It started as series of shocks and disruptive announcements in 2016, confusing and upending the psephology across the establishment. That year yielded results that might seen the abolition of the entire witchcraft. The Brexit referendum outcome; the US presidential vote – both were predicted as victories for the politician, the experienced practitioner. Along the way, there were a few pompous, gilded pretenders – Emmanuel Macron managed to give the impression of lacking the sheep’s clothing he always donned. While his political achievement from the grind of the French political machine was impressive, he could never hide his establishment credentials. These are now revisiting him with brute reality.

    • 1% Politics and the Scandals of a New Gilded Age

      Despair about the state of our politics pervades the political spectrum, from left to right. One source of it, the narrative of fairness offered in basic civics textbooks — we all have an equal opportunity to succeed if we work hard and play by the rules; citizens can truly shape our politics — no longer rings true to most Americans. Recent surveys indicate that substantial numbers of them believe that the economy and political system are both rigged. They also think that money has an outsized influence on politics. Ninety percent of Democrats hold this view, but so do 80% of Republicans. And careful studiesconfirm what the public believes.

      None of this should be surprising given the stark economic inequality that now marks our society. The richest 1% of American households currently account for 40% of the country’s wealth, more than the bottom 90% of families possess. Worse yet, the top 0.1% has cornered about 20% of it, up from 7% in the mid-1970s. By contrast, the share of the bottom 90% has since then fallen from 35% to 25%. To put such figures in a personal light, in 2017, three men — Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates — possessed more wealth ($248.5 billion) than the bottom 50% of Americans.

      Over the last four decades, economic disparities in the U.S. increased substantially and are now greater than those in other wealthy democracies. The political consequence has been that a tiny minority of extremely wealthy Americans wields disproportionate influence, leaving so many others feeling disempowered.

    • ‘Release the Mueller Report. Now’: 300+ Rallies Nationwide to Demand Full Transparency

      Campaigners have organized rallies nationwide for Thursday in order to give voice to the widespread public demand the report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice by Special Counsel Robert Mueller be disclosed to members of Congress and the public—with as little redaction as possible—without further delay.

      Spearheaded by a coalition of progressive groups— including MoveOn, Public Citizen, People For the American Way, and Indivisible— more than 300 rapid-response events across the country have been scheduled to make it clear that people want the report made available to lawmakers in the public. Most protests will start at 5 pm local time.

    • After Mueller, Donald Trump’s “political warfare” enters a dangerous new phase

      Donald Trump is a political pugilist. He never apologizes for a mistake. He never admits that he is wrong. He constantly attacks. In many ways Donald Trump is a 72-year-old political version of the Terminator, a machine that “can’t be reasoned with, it can’t be bargained with…it doesn’t feel pity of remorse or fear … and it absolutely will not stop. Ever.”

      Two Fridays ago Donald Trump was told that his handpicked attorney general had received special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the 2016 election. Trump had two reasons to celebrate.

      Mueller had concluded that the Trump campaign did not directly conspire with the Russian government to steal the 2016 presidential election from the American people and Hillary Clinton.

    • McConnell Goes Nuclear to Help Trump Pack the Courts With Extremists

      NAACP attorney Janai Nelson said it was an “insult to African Americans” when President Trump nominated Thomas Farr to a federal district court bench in North Carolina last year. The Republican attorney’s fingerprints were all over efforts to suppress and sideline voters of color in North Carolina, and he was linked to a campaign committee for segregationist Sen. Jesse Helms accused of intimidating Black voters in the late 1980s with postcards suggesting they would be arrested at the polls.

      Fortunately, Farr’s anti-civil rights record came to light just in time for a few Republican defectors to sink his nomination, thanks to Senate rules allowing up to 30 hours for debate on presidential nominees, according to Nelson. Now that Senate Republicans have voted to drastically change those confirmation rules, Nelson worries extremists like Farr could gain lifetime appointments to federal courts as Trump seeks to keep a major campaign promise to his base and push the judiciary further right.

      “Some of the administration’s most egregious picks for the courts, like Thomas Farr, have been stopped because of concerns that were unearthed in this critical final debate period,” Nelson told reporters on Wednesday. “This move will diminish each senator’s opportunity to sufficiently vet candidates for the federal bench, effectively obliterating the constitutional obligation to ‘advise and consent’ on judicial nominees.”

      Despite pleas from civil rights groups, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked the “nuclear option” on Wednesday, allowing a simple majority of Republicans to reduce debate on dozens of presidential nominees from up to 30 hours to only two. The Senate voted 51-48 along party lines to approve the new rules, which limit debate on Trump nominees to federal district courts as well as dozens of sub-Cabinet administrative posts. Nominations to top courts and Cabinet positions are exempt.

    • Jayapal Breaks Silence on DCCC Policy Protecting Incumbents From Progressive Challengers

      In an interview with Politico, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.)—chair of the DCCC—said she isn’t backing down from her controversial decision last month to blacklist vendors that work with new primary challengers to incumbent Democrats.

      “We’ve got a policy that the caucus supports, the leadership supports, and it plays the long game,” Bustos told Politico.

      Framing the vendor policy as a way to ensure the Democrats remain in power in the House moving forward, Bustos said the party needed to concentrate on not working against one another.

      “If we’re going to be successful as Democrats, and going into 2020 with a very, very fragile majority, [we've] got to be on the same team,” said Bustos.

      Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, broke her public silence on the vendor decision Thursday morning in response to Bustos’s interview with Politico.

      “It is not playing games for the Democratic party to be inclusive of all its members perspectives,” Jayapal said in a tweet. “I have refrained from commenting publicly on this issue until now, but I am extremely disappointed that there is no movement on this issue.”

    • “A Great Moment for Democracy”: Erdogan’s AK Party Suffers Major Defeat in Local Turkish Elections

      Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party suffered major setbacks in local elections this weekend after dominating the country’s political system since 2003. The AK Party lost control in both of Turkey’s largest cities, Istanbul and Ankara, and is now disputing the results. Voters expressed frustration with Erdogan’s autocratic rule and are also facing soaring inflation and rising unemployment. Now the results are being disputed, and recounts are underway. “Whoever is criticizing Erdogan right now is held accountable for either terrorism charges or libel against the president,” says The New School professor Koray Caliskan, faculty fellow at the Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies at The New School who has been indicted 25 times in Turkey. “This is how he’s silencing dissent.”

    • Ayatollah Trump: The Global Rise of the Christian Right

      If Donald Trump goes to church regularly, he’s kept it a pretty good secret.

      He and his wife have made sure to alert the press on the few times he does attend services, for instance on Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day. Otherwise, the president seems to worship regularly only at the Church of the Hole in One. Since inauguration, he has made 165 visits (and counting) to golf courses, often on Sundays.

      Trump is like a secular Elmer Gantry, the hot-blooded preacher of Sinclair Lewis’s eponymous 1927 bestseller. Gantry preaches on Sundays about the heavenly virtues even as he drinks, commits adultery, and breaks one commandment after another on every other day of the week. Trump, meanwhile, has acted irreligiously all his life and only recently made any pretense to churchgoing piety. He confines his preaching to the political realm. In both cases, however, loyal congregations gather around these hypocrites, convinced that they are true representatives of God.

      Trump a representative of God? During the 2016 presidential campaign, evangelical Christians voted in large numbers for Trump not because of his religious convictions but despite his lack of them. They viewed Trump as an imperfect vehicle for God’s will, which was presumably expressing itself about the composition of the Supreme Court, government funding for abortion, and the eroding wall between church and state.

      Give us a virtuous president, the evangelicals trumpeted in true Augustinian fashion, but not yet. In the meantime, they would overlook the Republican candidate’s biblical illiteracy (“Two Corinthians”!) on top of his very public indiscretions with women, money, and gambling.

      But in the two years since inauguration, Trump hasn’t just golfed. Even if he hasn’t been attending church regularly, he has invoked God more frequently. He has assiduously courted the evangelical vote by hammering away at abortion and supporting Bible literacy classes in public schools. He has signed bibles for the faithful. He now sounds much more like Elmer Gantry (on Sunday) rather than just acting like him (during the rest of the week).

    • Centrist Dems Are Trying to Block a Universal $15 Minimum Wage

      A House bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour from $7.25 by 2024 passed a key committee vote in March. The move, as NPR.org reported at the time, “is a sign of broader political momentum for the minimum wage issue,” one that is supported by multiple Democratic presidential candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

      As the bill heads to a potential floor vote, however, over a dozen centrist Democrats are pushing a new plan, which would permit lower hourly wages in regional areas, with a longer lead time. The competing visions for the minimum wage, Sarah Ferris writes in Politico, are “threatening to broaden the rift between the party’s progressive and moderate members.”

      Democratic opponents to $15, led by Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama, introduced the Paying Hourly Americans Stronger Earnings (PHASE)-in $15 Wage Act, which would create a “regional” minimum wage, which would allow smaller cities and rural areas to base any minimum wage increases on the local cost of living instead of a $15 national floor. The bill, according to a statement from Sewell’s office, would group census-designated Metropolitan Statistical Areas into five tiers, using Regional Price Parities (RPP) data that would determine the minimum wage for the regions’ cost of living.

      Supporters of the bill include Lucy McBath of Georgia and Dean Phillips of Minnesota. Phillips is a small-business owner who, despite paying his own employees at least $15 an hour, says it’s not a “one-size-fits-all wage.”

    • Trump’s Disdain for Puerto Rico Should Be His Undoing

      Puerto Rico’s death toll of about 3,000 from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 ought to be the biggest strike against President Donald Trump. The majority of deaths on the island occurred in the days and weeks following the hurricanes, largely due to inadequate health care and the admitted failures of the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA), suggesting that these were preventable deaths. And yet to Trump, Puerto Rico is the recipient of fantastical amounts of undeserved money.

      In many ways, Trump sees the U.S. colony as a personification of his usual enemies. Puerto Rico is brown skinned, non-English speaking, foreign, Democratic, and poor—whether or not any or all of these things are entirely true. And therefore, if it does not accept his patronizing gestures with undying gratitude, it deserves nothing but disdain.

      That disdain has been apparent right from the start, most notably during Trump’s post-hurricane paper towel-throwing exercise in 2017 and in his denials of the extent of the hurricane-related death toll. It was also on full display earlier this week during his Monday night tweet-storm. In an error-filled statement, Trump tweeted that, “Puerto Rico got far more money than Texas & Florida combined, yet their government can’t do anything right, the place is a mess—nothing works.” He also said, “Puerto Rico got 91 Billion Dollars for the hurricane, more money than has ever been gotten for a hurricane before.” Trump—who, like his base, feels his manhood is deeply threatened by strong women of color leaders—called San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, “crazed and incompetent.” He then spoke of himself in the third person, bombastically asserting that “The best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico is President Donald J. Trump.”

    • ‘Meduza’ talks government relations and transparency with Kaspersky Lab’s Vice President for Public Affairs

      One might expect the cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab to focus primarily on hackers and viruses, but in the last two years, the company has had to defend the safety of its own products. It all started in 2017 when the U.S. government prohibited all of its institutions from using Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus service out of concern that the company might be cooperating with Russian intelligence services. A year later, in the fall of 2018, Kaspersky opened a “Transparency Center” in Switzerland that offers experts the chance to examine the source code behind its products firsthand. A second center will open in Madrid in the summer of 2019, and by the end of the year, all data the company receives from European users will be processed directly in Europe. Meduza’s Deputy Chief Editor Sultan Suleimanov spoke with Kaspersky’s Vice President for Public Affairs Anton Shingarev, whose portfolio includes government relations, to ask how helpful the new centers will be in restoring users’ and governments’ trust in the company.

    • Republicans Have Put Our Country on a Path of Warp-Speed Decline—And They Want You to Think It’s Worth Cheering For

      About two-thirds of Americans think that we should have free college education for anybody intellectually capable of attending, and free trade schools as well—like pretty much every other developed country in the world (and quite a few of the developing countries). Republicans tell us that we can’t use government funds to pay off our nation’s $1.5 trillion in student debt because we just borrowed that exact amount last year to give tax rebates to billionaires, so there’s nothing left. We’re just not smart enough to fix the problem.

      And we could never, they tell us, go back to the free college like Thomas Jefferson created (he founded the University of Virginia as a free college), Abraham Lincoln instituted (he pushed for and got legislation to create 54 “land grant” colleges like Michigan State University with enough formerly public land that they could provide free or very cheap tuition), and Ronald Reagan ended in California when he was governor. Grandpa might have been able to pay for college with a part-time job in a gas station or restaurant (as I and most in my generation did), and no other country in the world may have the kind of student debt we have, but it’s just the way it is, they tell us. American’s just can’t figure it out.

      Nearly eight out of ten Americans think taxes should be raised on the wealthy, but, the Republicans tell us, that would create economic chaos and destroy the economy. We’d end up like all those other countries where there’s a strong and vibrant middle class, but the billionaires can’t hoard their wealth without limit, and that would be a disaster… because… freedom. Americans who think rich people should pay their fair share of taxes to help the country are just, well, not that bright, says the GOP.

    • Rep. Tim Ryan Is Latest Democrat to Seek White House

      Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan jumped into the 2020 presidential race on Thursday, portraying himself as a candidate who can bridge Democrats’ progressive and working class wings to win the White House.

      Ryan, 45, announced his primary bid on ABC’s “The View.” He plans a kickoff rally on Saturday in downtown Youngstown, where a big turnout by organized labor is expected.

      The congressman resisted being labeled a political centrist by the talk show’s hosts, who pointed out that he’s a recreational hunter with past backing from the National Rifle Association. In 2015, he reversed his past opposition to abortion in favor of abortion rights.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • TikTok Banned By Indian Court Because It ‘Encourages Pornography’

      The petition to ban TikTok argued that the nature of the content on the video platform contained “degrading culture” along with pornographic and explicit disturbing content.

      TikTok has also been accused of causing social stigma and medical health issues among teens by promoting wrong ideas. Back in February, the IT minister of Tamil Nadu described some of the dance content on TikTok as “unbearable.”

    • Court Tosses $11-Million Libel Lawsuit Brought By The ‘King Of Bullshit News’

      An $11-million defamation lawsuit brought against Buzzfeed by the head of a “news” agency has been dismissed by a New York federal court judge. Michael Leidig, who runs CEN (Central European News), didn’t like being hailed as the “King of Bullshit News” by Buzzfeed in 2015. He sued Buzzfeed nine months after the article was published. Leidig, a UK citizen, may have hoped for a more British take on defamation law, but libel law works differently here in the United States.

    • CNN and Government-Funded Think Tanks Lobby Facebook to Take Down Foreign Media Sites

      In a bizarre campaign to out Russian state-backed media, CNN, working with two pro-US/NATO political think tanks, called Facebook’s attention to video pages run by a European outlet, Maffick Media, in an effort to have them de-platformed due to connections with the Russian government. Even though there were no specific rule violations cited, or reports challenged for inaccuracy, Facebook suspended Maffick-related pages after CNN inquired about what the social media company was doing to label possible misinformation coming from state media sources, especially Russian ones.

      In an article written for Shadowproof, Kevin Gosztola—who co-hosts a podcast with Rania Khalek, a contributor to one of Maffick Media’s pages—wrote that CNN may have been giving Facebook a pretext to shut the pages down for a story CNN had been working on about Russian-funded media that undermine US interests. Working with tips from establishment think tanks like the German Marshall Fund and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Laboratory, CNN began focusing on Maffick Media and its connections to the Russian government. (Note: The Atlantic Council serves as one of Facebook’s own fact checkers.) According to Khalek, CNN came looking for a story and after Maffick gave them information about their business model and editorial practices, CNN found Maffick’s narrative lacking in substance and then asked Facebook about its stance on labeling foreign-funded media.

    • Be Cautious About Big Internet Platforms Bearing Plans For Global Censorship

      In the wake of the Christchurch shooting massacre in New Zealand, there has been a somewhat odd focus on the internet platforms — mainly those that ended up hosting copies of the killer’s livestream of the attack. As we previously discussed, this is literally blaming the messenger, and taking away focus from the much deeper issues that led up to the attack. Still, in response, Microsoft’s Brad Smith decided to step forward with a plan to coordinate among big internet companies a system for blocking and taking down such content.

    • UK Government Misses Another Ship Date On Its Porn Filter

      And so the plan that won’t work — one that’s going to under- and over-block when not being circumvented with remarkable ease — is on the back burner again. This doesn’t mean the government is going to fix it. It just means the government hasn’t been able to convince anyone in the private sector that it’s being foisted upon that it will work as intended.

      The government “refreshed” its porn blockade late last year, softening a few mandates into suggestions. But the newly-crafted suggestions were backed by the implicit threat of heavier regulation. All the while, the government has ignored the hundreds of critics and experts who have pointed out the filtering plan’s numerous problems — not the least of which is a government-mandated collection of blackmail fodder.

      The government is no longer demanding retention of site logs by sites performing age verification, but it’s also not telling companies they shouldn’t retain the data. Companies likely will retain this data anyway, if only to ensure they have it on hand when the government inevitably changes it mind.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook Got Caught Phishing For Friends

      Once again, Facebook is in the news for bad security practices, dark design patterns, and secretly reappropriating sensitive data meant for “authentication” to its own ends. Incredibly, this time, the company managed to accomplish all three in one fell swoop.

    • Facebook: Commodifying People’s Personalities

      In April 2018, Wired reported on the targeted advertisement practices used by Facebook, the world’s biggest social networking site. Facebook uses demographic data to allow advertisers to target specific populations. Historically, cigarettes companies were known to target low-income communities, but today Facebook does so with even greater accuracy and on a much larger scale. Kane Jamison, the founder of Content Harmony, a marketing agency that frequently uses Facebook to advertise, says, “Facebook is the same thing, but there’s 60,000 channels and weird ways to combine them… The level of infringement of privacy here is unprecedented.”

    • EFF’s New ‘Threat Lab’ Dives Deep into Surveillance Technologies—And Their Use and Abuse
    • How I quit social media, but it didn’t quit me

      My name is Jason Kingdon, social media addict and Founder and CEO of BOLDFISH. I’ve been Facebook free for three years now, but I can’t seem to separate it from my life. Wherever I go, there it is. Sign in with Facebook or follow us for more. At networking events, new contacts are incredulous and offended when I state my lack of social media. He lies, their eyes read.

      Some of my friends have acclimated to just texting me, but others have fallen out of touch. I’ve become accustomed to the “OMG! How are you!? I haven’t seen you in forever! Are you still in China?” It’s as though time had frozen since the last time we made contact. There are amazing memories from pictures and status updates, yet they assume that what they consume is all that there ever was or will be.

    • Airbnb Has a Hidden-Camera Problem

      That was when he saw the light. Two small, black, rectangular boxes were stacked next to an outlet on the far side of the guest room, both facing the bed. From afar, they looked like phone chargers. But when Vest got closer, he realized they were cameras, and they were recording.

    • Facebook Is Just Casually Asking Some New Users for Their Email Passwords
    • Facebook asked some users for their email passwords, because why not

      As company executives try to rebrand Facebook as a privacy company, the company is still apparently struggling to instill a privacy culture internally and with third-party developers. As Kevin Poulson of the Daily Beast reported on April 2, some new Facebook users were being asked to provide both their email address and their email password in order to register accounts.

    • Password, please? Facebook asks users to disclose email details, accounts

      “To continue using Facebook, you’ll need to confirm your email,” the message demands, followed by a form asking for users’ email password.

    • Facebook is asking some new users for their email passwords and appears to be harvesting their contacts without consent

      Typically, people are urged by security experts never to share their passwords or enter them into any services other than the one for which they are intended, to avoid the risk of “phishing attacks” where users’ passwords and personal information are stolen.

      But on Facebook, when users try to register with certain email providers, including Yandex and GMX, it asks to “confirm your email address” by entering their password directly into Facebook, as previously reported on by The Daily Beast.

    • Hacker Eva Galperin Has a Plan to Eradicate Stalkerware

      “Full access to someone’s phone is essentially full access to someone’s mind,” says Galperin, a security researcher who leads the Threat Lab of the digital civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The people who end up with this software on their phones can become victims of physical abuse, of physical stalking. They get beaten. They can be killed. Their children can be kidnapped. It’s the small end of a very large, terrifying wedge.”

      Now Galperin has a plan to end that scourge for good—or at least take a serious bite out of the industry. In a talk she is scheduled to give next week at the Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit in Singapore, Galperin will lay out a list of demands: [...]

    • It’s Time to End the NSA’s Metadata Collection Program

      The problems with the CDR program seem to be a continuation of the government’s misplaced faith in the nationwide bulk collection program that the CDR program replaced. After the government’s vehement defense of the need for bulk collection, the President’s Review Group on Surveillance, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and eventually even the intelligence community’s top-ranking official stated that it had not provided unique value and was not necessary to fulfill counterterrorism goals.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Court orders Russia’s federal censor to block Play Market and App Store games that insult the cops

      A court in Kirov has ordered the Russian government to block several games hosted on the Google Play Market and Apple App Store, ruling that they insult law-enforcement agencies, incite players to commit crimes, and “propagate criminal traditions.” Once the ruling takes effect, Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, will get its marching orders.

    • Harvard’s Tacit Endorsement of Slavery

      The haunting gaze of Papa Renty peers from the 1850 daguerreotype. The enslaved man was forced to pose, naked, for a study being conducted by a racist Harvard anthropologist named Louis Agassiz. The Swiss-born scientist promoted “polygenism,” a theory that held that different races were separate species, and that the white race was far superior to the black race. To validate this, Agassiz traveled from Harvard to South Carolina seeking authentic, “pure” black slaves, those whose original, African racial makeup hadn’t been diluted, as all too often occurred, by the rape of slave women by their white masters. Agassiz commissioned these images of Renty, his daughter Delia and other slaves, and returned to Harvard. The images eventually ended up in a storage cabinet, forgotten, until they were discovered in 1976. Since then, Harvard has kept tight control over access to the collection, charging licensing fees to any seeking to use them. Now, Tamara Lanier, one of Renty’s direct descendants, is suing Harvard, demanding that the daguerreotypes of Renty and Delia be returned to the family.

      “When will Harvard University finally free Renty?” Lanier’s lawyer, civil-rights attorney Benjamin Crump, asked on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. “These daguerreotypes are very, very valuable. They are the earliest known photographs of American slaves and some of the earliest known photographs in America,” adding that they are “priceless to Tamara Lanier and her family, because they’re the linear descendants. … But Harvard is telling Ms. Lanier and her family: ‘No, no, Renty still belongs to us. He’s still our property.’”

    • Trapped in a Deadly Chase

      ON A RAINY NOVEMBER AFTERNOON LAST YEAR, eight men held tight to a gray tarp, their bodies pressed against one another as they lay feet to head in the bed of a pickup truck. Most knew one another from Acatic, a Mexican town in the state of Jalisco, where the country’s most vicious cartel has caused the morgue to overflow.

      Rainwater pooled on the tarp, running in rivulets down the sides and soaking the men underneath. The closeness provided only some warmth, as the men lay shivering, feeling every bump of the rocky scrubland as they crossed into the United States.

    • Notes on the Dissolution of the ISO

      During 2013 and 2014, a rift opened up in the International Socialist Organization (ISO) over the results of a rape investigation that some members found to be little more than a cover-up. The Socialist Workers Party in England, which had played a major role in the formation of the ISO, was also convulsed over a sexual attack and cover-up around the same time. Both groups suffered defections but the British fared much worse, with perhaps half the membership jumping ship. In the USA, the ISO had fewer losses but the cover-up resurfaced again this year when a letter to their 2019 convention precipitated a new investigation into the events of six years ago. This time, the members voted to remove those who had covered up for the perpetrator in the name of “due process” and begin a soul-searching self-examination that led to a startling conclusion. The ISO, which is the largest group in the USA that defines itself as “Leninist”, has just voted to dissolve itself. To get a handle on this turn of events, I urge you to see the items posted to their website.

      In both the case of the ISO and the SWP, the sexual attack triggered a discussion over whether the “Leninism” that both groups swore by might have led to a cover-up. SWP leader Alex Callinicos, who only referred euphemistically to a “difficult disciplinary case” in a February 2013 article titled “Is Leninism Finished”, argued that it was their model of democratic centralism that allowed the SWP “to concentrate our forces on key objectives, and thereby to build so effectively the various united fronts we have supported.” Instead, the combination of a cover-up and fetishized Bolshevik norms have cost the SWP both members and influence as it staggers along just like the American SWP that has a much more advanced case of political dementia.

    • Flawed Investigations of Sexual Assaults in Children’s Immigrant Shelters

      Hundreds of police reports document allegations of sexual assaults in immigrant children’s shelters since the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America began in 2014, according to a December 2018 report by ProPublica. The report, based on six months of research including internal documents obtained through public records requests, revealed “a largely hidden side of the shelters — one in which both staff and other residents sometimes acted as predators.” ProPublica noted that these shelters have received $4.5 billion in government funding for housing and other services.

      ProPublica’s review of hundreds of police reports showed “again and again,” that “police were quickly — and with little investigation — closing the cases, often within days, or even hours.” Furthermore, the number of cases of sexual assault in shelters for immigrant children is likely greater than ProPublica could document, because of missing records from shelters in Texas, “where the largest number of immigrant children are held,” because state laws ban child abuse reports from being made public.

    • 157 Republicans, and 1 Democrat, Side With NRA as House Passes Updated Violence Against Women Act

      The vast majority of House Republicans caved to pressure from the gun lobby on Thursday and refused to back Democrats’ successful effort to extend the Violence Against Women Act for five years because of a new provision that would make it harder for abusers to acquire guns.

      The 1994 law provides protections and funds programs for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. It’s been reauthorized three times but expired in February. The new version passed the House 263-158 with support from all but one Democrat and only 33 Republicans. Read the full roll call results here.

    • Teen Pregnancy Peaks for Foster Girls in Bible-Belt Texas

      The pregnancy rate for girls in the Texas foster care system is at an all-time high, with evidence pointing to inadequate sex-education and resources like condoms as contributors.

      Of the 7,090 females ages 11 to 18 in foster care in 2017, 332 were pregnant and 218 were parents. Foster youth are approximately five times more likely to get pregnant compared to all youth.

      Religious beliefs and teachings influence whether sex ed and resources are provided. For example, adult professionals who teach safe sex to foster youth fear getting fired for violating what are moral norms. Consequently, teen girls in the foster care system are becoming parents before they can properly support and care for the child.

    • Hundreds Starve Themselves for Peace in Turkey

      In the early months of 2019, hundreds of Kurds around the world implemented a hunger strike to protest the ongoing assaults they face at the hands of the Turkish government. An article by Dougie Gerrard for RedPepper explains how Leyla Güven, a member of the Turkish Parliament, started this strike. Güven began starving herself after being imprisoned for speaking out against the Turkish invasion of Afrin, the westernmost region of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria. Güven, who represents the Peoples’ Democratic Party, was charged with a “terror-related” crime. Although she is clearly not a terrorist, her charges stemmed from her criticism of Turkish state terrorism. Since then, numbers of Kurds across the globe, many of whom are Kurdish political prisoners, began joining her in her peaceful protest.

    • Violence Rises after End of Mandated Monitoring in California’s Juvenile Detention Centers

      What has changed in the three years since court-mandated monitoring of California’s juvenile detention centers ended? As Samantha Michaels reported for Mother Jones, despite some good news—such as an overall decrease in the numbers of incarcerated youth—the situation is still “pretty grim,” and violence in the state’s juvenile detention centers has worsened significantly since court oversight ended. Mother Jones’ coverage is based on a February 2019 report “Unmet Promises,” by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

      [...]

      Since mandated reporting ended, however, the likelihood of a juvenile being assaulted has increased by 49 percent, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice’s report. Similarly, the reported use-of-force incidents involving staff that were out of compliance with the agency’s policies rose by 45 percent; and staffers sometimes tried to cover up their alleged misbehavior. Furthermore, the number of attempted suicides has risen since mandated monitoring ended, from three between August 2015 and July 2016 to 28 in 2018. Lack of response by staff to detainees’ medical needs decreases trust and worsens trauma for youth who, in many cases, already live with the effects of previous trauma.

    • We Are Fighting Maricopa County’s Rampant Prosecutorial Misconduct

      The Arizona Supreme Court has a chance to address the way prosecutors use and abuse their power and hold them accountable.
      The Arizona Supreme Court will soon consider the misconduct of one of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s top prosecutors: Juan Martinez. Martinez gained national notoriety when he prosecuted Jodi Arias for murder in 2008, but his aggressive and often unethical conduct was well-known in Arizona well before then. It’s time he’s held accountable.

      The ACLU of Arizona and the ACLU Capital Punishment Project yesterday filed an amicus brief urging the Court to do just that, and in doing so highlighted the pervasive culture of misconduct at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

      Until recently, the Arizona State Bar had failed in its duty to seek discipline against Juan Martinez even though the Arizona Supreme Court has repeatedly spotlighted his behavior and misdeeds. Having never faced consequences for his misconduct, Martinez has to no surprise continued to flout the law to obtain convictions and death sentences.

    • Anti-Union University Administrations Fight Surge In Graduate Student Worker Organizing

      Since the National Labor Relations Board ruled in August 2016 that graduate student workers at private universities have the right to unionize, graduate student unions in the United States have surged. Yet, currently, nearly all of these unions face resistance and union-busting efforts from their university administrations.

      At Boston College, graduate student workers voted to unionize in September 2017. The university has refused to recognize the union despite the vote.

      The United Auto Workers (UAW) withdrew their petition with the National Labor Relations Board as an affiliate to the graduate student workers union at Boston College in anticipation of an unfavorable ruling against them by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

      The NLRB is now dominated by appointees from President Donald Trump’s administration, who are hostile toward union efforts and protections.

    • How VAWA Takes on the Systems That Perpetuate Domestic and Sexual Violence

      VAWA goes beyond support for survivors to addressing laws that perpetuate violence

      Today the House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 1585). This VAWA bill authorizes programs and funding that support survivors of gender-based violence. But it also does more: It tackles some of the laws and institutions that perpetuate domestic violence and sexual assault across the country. Dismantling these structural causes of gender-based violence is essential to ensuring the security and dignity of survivors, their families, and communities.

    • New Images From an Alabama Prison Reveal Horrific Conditions and Abuse

      Brutal conditions and violence are unseen hallmarks of our prison system.
      A trove of photographs depicting brutalized and murdered prisoners in Alabama’s St. Clair Correctional Facility has thrust the treatment of our nation’s 2.3 million incarcerated people into public view. The first horror is what these people have endured in prison. The second horror is that while shocking, it is not a surprise.

      As a lawyer who has represented prisoners for more than two decades, I have come to expect such violence and degradation of human beings held in appalling conditions like those seen in these photos. The only thing that’s unusual is that, for a brief moment at least, the curtain has been pulled aside and the everyday brutality of our prisons laid bare for all to see.

      Transparency is like daylight — applied directly, it can be a disinfectant. And to protect the health and lives of incarcerated people across our country we need full transparency of how they are treated.

    • Centering Black Millennials

      Millennials face a plethora of problems today: middling wages, student debt, working in a gig economy with little security, and an over-priced housing market. According to Reniqua Allen’s report in the New Republic, black millennials face all the same problems as their white counterparts but to an even higher degree. As a result of historical discrimination, black millennials lag behind their white counterparts in wealth and job prospects, being more likely to live in poverty or bear the burdens of large student loan debts. Beyond finances, black millennials also have a harder time voting, have less access to health care, and face greater challenges finding justice in the legal system. Perhaps the greatest issue of all, and the most ironic, is that, in an allegedly “post-racial” era, black millennials are led to believe that they have the same opportunities as their white counterparts.

    • The Peach State or ‘Banana Republic’? Critics Howl Over Georgia GOP’s Proposal to Target Journalists With Secretive Ethics Panel

      Press freedom advocates on Thursday warned of dangers posed by a bill put forward by Republicans in Georgia that would create a journalism ethics board in the state and subject reporters to fines if they don’t comply with the new rules.

      The so-called “Ethics in Journalism Act” (H.B. 734) would establish an “independent” ethics board with members from the journalism profession selected by the University of Georgia, which is run by the state. The board would create “canons of ethics,” set up a system for issuing and investigating complaints about journalists and news outlets, and issue advisory opinions on whether news organizations have violated laws.

      Under the proposal, news outlets would also be required to turn over materials—including video and audio files of interviews—if a subject requests the files. Refusal to release the materials could result in lawsuits or fines.

    • Single Parents Need Better Childcare On College Campuses

      According to a study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, single-parents make about a quarter of US undergraduate students. While this is a large group of the student population, colleges with on-campus childcare have declined more than five percent between 2005-2015. According to parents, these childcare facilities often have a long wait list and are often seen as unaffordable. The decline of on-campus child care underscore how uncommon campus policies that support students bringing their children to college classrooms are. However, there are now college professors that are changing their classroom policies to better accommodate students and their children.

    • Mass Incarceration Impacts Mothers and Their Children

      75 percent of women serving time in prisons or jails are also primary caregivers for children. While these women are incarcerated, their children often live in foster care. Women of color are particularly impacted: According to a 2010 study produced by Pew Charitable Trusts, one in nine black children have a parent incarcerated, compared to only one in 57 white children. In an October 2018 report for Women’s eNews, Sage Howard writes that, “adding the ERA [Equal Rights Amendment] to the US Constitution would help ensure that women are paid equally, thereby providing greater financial resources for women most affected by mass incarceration.” Howard’s article documents how mass incarceration impacts not only the women who are incarcerated, but also “the people who need them most,” their children.

    • How Passing the ERA Would Benefit Black Women with Incarcerated Family Members

      Passing of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has been a struggle for almost a century now. Sage Howard, writing for Women’s eNews, draws the connection between yet another women’s rights issue that the ERA would help to combat: the financial burden placed on women to pay the costs of their incarcerated family members. According to Howard, this burden is heavy especially on black women “since their family members are five times more likely to be incarcerated than their white counterparts”.

      A study of San Quentin State Prison in California showed that the majority of the women participating in the study spent a third of their annual incomes to maintain contact with incarcerated family members, and these costs many times forced these women to declare bankruptcy. The study found that mothers represented “almost half of family members primarily responsible for paying court-related expenses,” a burden that forces them to make the difficult choice between helping incarcerated family members and providing basic necessities for their families who are outside.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Pai FCC Tours The Country Promising Better Rural Broadband, But His Policies Routinely Undermine That Goal

      You may have noticed that FCC boss Ajit Pai likes to breathlessly and repeatedly proclaim that one of his top priorities while chair of the FCC is to “close the digital divide.” Pai, who clearly harbors post-FCC political aspirations, can usually be found touring the nation’s least-connected states declaring that he’s working tirelessly to shore up broadband connectivity and competition nationwide. On trip after taxpayer funded trip, both Pai and his fellow commissioners tell audiences his policies are expanding high-speed internet access and closing the digital divide to create jobs and increase digital opportunity.

      Several times a month, some small local paper can be found unquestioningly hyping Pai and his fellow commissioners’ “digital opportunity tour.” Like this recent piece on FCC Commissioner Branden Carr’s trip to Alaska, or this piece on Pai’s recent visit to Vermont, where Pai once again repeated his (false) claim that gutting sector oversight (and net neutrality) will somehow magically result in better broadband in these historically neglected areas…

    • The FTC Makes It Clear It Can’t, Won’t Protect Net Neutrality

      In his speech Simons conflated “paid prioritization”—the act of letting a company buy a speed or latency advantage from ISPs—with practices like clipping coupons, cheaper matinee movie tickets, and happy hour drink specials. The implication is that his agency is likely view such behavior favorably.

    • Telecom Lobbyists Crushed San Francisco’s Quest For Better Broadband

      While cities like Seattle and San Francisco are known as technology and innovation hubs, that hasn’t historically been reflected by the broadband markets in those cities. Like everywhere else, the two cities suffer from little real broadband competition, with incumbent monopolies like Comcast leaving consumers and businesses with a dearth of options for quality, lower cost broadband. And, like the rest of America, as companies like AT&T and Verizon shift their ambitions to online advertising, they’re refusing to upgrade aging DSL lines, leaving cable with an even more potent monopoly that 5G wireless isn’t likely to fix.

      Faced with decades of sub-par service, “tech hubs” like Seattle and San Francisco have pondered building their own broadband networks. More than 750 towns and cities have pursued the option, which is why ISPs like AT&T and Comcast have lobbied for laws in nearly two-dozen states attempting to ban or hamstring such efforts. It’s not hard to see why. Chatanooga’s Publicly-owned ISP EPB was ranked last year as the best ISP in the nation, and Harvard studies have shown that such community networks tend to offer better service at lower and more transparent prices than their private-sector counterparts.

  • DRM

    • After years of insisting that DRM in HTML wouldn’t block open source implementations, Google says it won’t support open source implementations

      The absurd figleaf used to justify this was a reference implementation of EME in open source that only worked on video that didn’t have the DRM turned on. The only people this impressed were people who weren’t paying attention or lacked the technical depth to understand that a tool that only works under conditions that are never seen in the real world was irrelevant to real-world conditions.

    • I tried creating a web browser, and Google blocked me

      The browser I’m building, called Metastream, is an Electron-based (Chromium derived), MIT-licensed browser hosted on GitHub. Its main feature is the ability to playback videos on the web, synchronized with other peers. Each client runs its own instance of the Metastream browser and transmits playback information to keep them in sync—no audio or video content is sent.

      If someone is creating a browser that wants to playback media, they’ll soon discover the requirement of DRM for larger web media services such as Netflix and Hulu. There are a few DRM providers for the web including Widevine, PlayReady, and FairPlay.

    • Google Won’t Allow DRM in an Open-Source Project, Collabora Announces the SPURV Project, WPS Office for Linux Version 11 Released, PyCharm 2019.1.1 Now Available, and KDE Plasma 5.15.4 Brings Many Bug Fixes and Improvements

      Google won’t allow DRM in an open-source project. Samuel Maddock is building a browser called Metastream, an “Electron-based (Chromium derived), MIT-licensed browser hosted on GitHub. Its main feature is the ability to playback videos on the web, synchronized with other peers. Each client runs its own instance of the Metastream browser and transmits playback information to keep them in sync—no audio or video content is sent.” He sent a request to Google for a license to implement Widevine in his browser, and received this reply, “I’m sorry but we’re not supporting an open source solution like this”, four months later. See also “After years of insisting that DRM in HTML wouldn’t block open source implementations, Google says it won’t support open source implementations” by Cory Doctorow for more on the story.

      Collabora recently announced a new project called SPURV, which allows you to “run Android applicat

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • After recent San Diego jury verdict, Apple and Qualcomm disagree on scope and procedural basis of judgment

      Apart from PR, the mid-March verdict that a San Diego jury rendered in Qualcomm’s favor over three patents isn’t overly useful to Qualcomm in its own right as the damages award of §31 million is insignificant compared to what’s really at stake between the patent-leveraging chipmaker and Apple (with the big showdown scheduled for April 15). It’s just a companion case over a complaint mirroring a request for a U.S. import ban that went nowhere in the ITC–though Qualcomm can, of course, appeal the ITC decision to the Federal Circuit and is taking the unusual previous step to ask the U.S. trade agency to reconsider its patent invalidity finding.

      On March 26, Judge Dana M. Sabraw of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California requested briefing on whether a Rule 54(b) judgment–final (thus appealable), but with respect to a subset of the claims in the case–should be entered or not. Apple’s motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) is pending anyway, but the court could rule on it in the short term so as to conclude the part involving Qualcomm’s offensive claims at the earliest opportunity, or it could await the outcome of the second trial (scheduled for mid July), where Apple’s offensive counterclaims (i.e., Apple alleging that Qualcomm infringes some of its patents) will be put before another jury.

    • USPTO News Briefs

      In a Patent Alert e-mail distributed earlier this year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced an update to Phase 1 of the Office’s Access to Relevant Prior Art Initiative, which began on November 1, 2018. The Access to Relevant Prior Art (RPA) Initiative is an effort by the Office to increase patent examination quality and efficiency through the development of an automated tool for USPTO examiners, which will import relevant prior art and other pertinent information from sources such as related U.S. applications, counterpart foreign applications, and International (PCT) applications into pending U.S. patent applications as early as possible in prosecution. The Office envisions the RPA initiative as a way “to potentially reduce the burden on applicants with complying with the duty of disclosure.”

      In Phase 1 of the RPA initiative, information in the form of citations on PTO/SB/08 and PTO-892 forms from the immediate parent application will be imported into the continuing application for consideration by the Examiner. The Office noted last year that Phase 1 would be limited to select art units — in particular, Art Unit 2131 in Technology Center 2100, with a wider release to Art Units 1616, 1731, 2431, 2675, 2879, 2922, 3635, and 3753 this year. The Office has now expanded the RPA Initiative to include those additional art units. Applicants will receive a Notice of Imported Citations from the Office informing the applicant that an application has been included in the Initiative and listing the citations from the immediate parent application that have been imported into the application.

    • Combating the Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods [Ed: Dennis Crouch parroting the “pirate” canard. No, he’s not referring to people who steal goods.]

      Although counterfeit goods may be costing the makers of branded products, the companies trafficking in the goods are making money. It will be interesting to see the extent that those companies operating on an international scale will be willing to cooperate with US law enforcement.

    • Copyrights

      • UK judge alleges breach of EU law by countries whose courts grant automatic patent injunctions: presumably meant Germany

        Today was the first day of a two-day conference on “Injunctions and Flexibility in Patent Law – Civil Law and Common Law Perspectives” organized and hosted by the law school of Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany. A conference held 100 miles up north, in Erlangen, two weeks ago had practically the same focus, and that’s where I learned that the German government is working on a legislative initiative tha may represent a departure from the principle of non-standard-essential patent infringements automatically resulting in injunctions. However, the earlier-held conference was more political in the sense of speakers taking pretty clear position on what they’d like the law to be (or to remain), while the ongoing Munich conference is more academic than political.

        Despite the apolitical nature of the conference as a whole, one of today’s panels constituted an outright clash of legal cultures, with a UK judge insinuating that the approach German courts take to patent injunctions constitutes a blatant and incontrovertible breach of European Union law. Mr. Justice Richard Arnold of the England & Wales High Court (previously mentioned on this blog for his invalidation of a Motorola junk patent and a Nokia v. HTC decision–certainly didn’t mention Germany (or any other country).

      • German Government’s Bullying Of FOI Group Provides A Warning Of How EU’s New Upload Filters Will Be Used For Censorship

        One of the many concerns about the upload filters of the EU’s Copyright Directive is that they could lead to censorship, even if that is not the intention. The problem is that once a filtering mechanism is in place to block unauthorized copies of materials, it is very hard to stop its scope being widened beyond copyright infringement. As it happens, the German government has just provided a good example of the kind of abuse that is likely to become a commonplace.

        FragDenStaat — literally “ask the State” — is a German freedom of information (FOI) organization. It obtained and published a six-page report about the herbicide glyphosate. The document was written by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, a publicly-funded body that provides scientific advice to Germany’s federal government on issues relating to things like food, product, and chemical safety, as well as consumer health protection. Even though the report was paid for by the German public, obtained legally — and can still be requested by anyone — FragDenStaat is not allowed to distribute it. The Regional Court in Cologne has ruled that would be an infringement of the German State’s copyright, and ordered it to be taken down.

      • Unleashing a Community in Action: this year’s CC Global Summit Keynotes

        This year, we’re taking an alternative, community-centered approach to keynotes for the Creative Commons Global Summit. In addition to two keynotes from four esteemed colleagues in open knowledge and the public domain, we’re bringing six community leaders to the stage for short talks on their work and experience. They were identified and selected by the Summit program committee.

        The Community Keynotes join us from four continents and a variety of disciplines. From technology to journalism, these Creative Commons Global Network members are accomplished leaders in their fields participating in crucial work for a more open world. These keynotes will be: Majd al Shihabi of Lebanon, Sophie Bloemen of Amsterdam and Brussels, Kelsey Merkley of Canada, Natalia Mileszyk of Poland, Dr. Haggen So of Hong Kong, and Ọmọ Yoòbá of Nigeria. Their bios can be found below.

      • DOJ Warns Academy That Being An Anti-Streaming Luddite Could Violate Antitrust

        So roughly a month ago you might recall that Steven Spielberg had a “get off my lawn” moment in demanding that Netflix films be excluded from Oscar contention. The sentiment isn’t uncommon among old-school Hollywood types who see traditional film as somehow so sacred that it shouldn’t have to change or adapt in the face of technological evolution. It was the same sentiment recently exhibited by the Cannes film festival when they banned Netflix films because Netflix pushed back against absurd French film laws (like the one requiring a 36-month delay between theatrical release and streaming availability).

        You’ll notice there’s never much solid supporting evidence supporting these banning recommendations; just some vague arguments that films from streaming services can’t be considered good because these companies push back against traditional and often counterproductive business tactics that haven’t aged well in the internet era (like those antiquated release windows). And while Netflix’s catalog certainly has its share of duds, there’s an ocean of awards for films like Roma that suggest the entire sentiment is little more than old man protectionist nonsense.

      • Aussie Music Industry in Court to Demand Stream-Ripping Site Blocks

        Music labels Sony, Universal, and Warner, with assistance from Music Rights Australia and the Australasian Performing Right Association, have appeared Australia’s Federal Court demanding that local ISPs block four stream-ripping sites. All of the sites have been subject to legal action in other jurisdictions, including in the United States.

      • Streaming now accounts for almost half of global music revenues

        However, the change has actually been something of a saviour to the industry, with a 10 per cent overall rise in revenue to $19.1bn (£14.5bn), with streaming revenue offsetting the demise of physical formats that has seen the likes of HMV hit the buffers (twice), with 10.1 per cent drop. This year’s figures mark a fourth consecutive year of growth for the industry after a slump.

      • ‘YouTube’s Copyright Mess Is Stifling Music Education’

        YouTube does its best to give copyright holders all the required tools to remove infringing material. This works, but in some cases rightsholders have little regard for fair use. This is illustrated in detail by guitarist Paul Davids who had many of his educational videos ‘claimed,’ sometimes for playing as little as a two-second riff.

      • Anti-Piracy Firm MUSO Argues Against DRM, In Favor of Takedowns

        UK-based anti-piracy company MUSO is suggesting it may be time for gaming companies to stop using anti-consumer DRM like Denuvo and consider deploying takedown technologies instead. However, there’s another system on the horizon that has the potential to be more effective than both.

      • Notices at Intel press event seem to say attending photographers must assign copyright to all pictures and videos to the company?
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