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04.14.19

Links 14/4/2019: Blender 2.80 Release Plan and Ducktype 1.0

Posted in News Roundup at 11:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Chrome OS 75 adds USB device support for Linux, including Android phone debugging

      We knew this feature was in the works as the Stable Channel of Chrome OS 73 brought a menu option for USB Device management. while Chrome OS 72 added USB storage for Linux apps.
      Keith Myers noted the addition of USB device support for Linux on a Chromebook and did some testing with his 3D Printer, an Arduino board and a Intel Movidius Compute Stick. This feature is important for those who want to control, pass or read data to some type of external USB device from the Linux container. Keith noted some functions that Chrome OS 75 breaks as well, which is to be expected in the fast-changing Canary channel.
      Since I dabble with small computing devices myself – my CS group is extending a “pancreas in the cloud” project using a Raspberry Pi, for example – I decided to test some additional features that would be super important for many folks: the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) that lets you modify an Android phone or tablet to install custom software or recovery images.

    • s The Linux Desktop In Trouble?
    • 9 Most popular Linux distribution of 2018 for Developers

      Developers often use Linux- based operating systems to do their daily work and develop new things. The main considerations for their choice of Linux distribution for programming are compatibility, power consumption, stability, and flexibility. Distributions like Ubuntu and Debian have become the first choice. Other good options such as openSUSE, Arch Linux, etc. For users who plan to purchase Raspberry Pi, Raspbian is the best choice.

  • Kernel Space

    • Reiser4 Brought To The Linux 5.0 Kernel

      For those still using the out-of-tree Reiser4 file-system, it may be about time to consider alternatives like Btrfs, XFS, ZFS On Linux, F2FS, or even the likes of Stratis and Bcachefs. But should you still be using this once promising file-system, the out-of-tree patches have been revised to now work with the Linux 5.0 kernel.

      There still is no trajectory for Reiser4 to the mainline Linux kernel with no major companies or other stakeholders backing Reiser4 but just a small group of developers and enthusiasts left working on this successor to ReiserFS. With the latest code posted on Friday by former Namesys developer Edward Shishkin, the Reiser4 kernel driver has been re-based to the Linux 5.0 kernel but with no other changes to the file-system noted.

    • Huawei Restarts Work On Developing A New EROFS Linux User-Space Utility

      Last year introduced in the Linux 4.19 kernel was a new EROFS file-system developed by Huawei that they designed to be used as a modern, read-only Linux file-system. After originally publishing the user-space bits last year, they are now re-working their utilities.

      EROFS has had a rather interesting history… Initially when the kernel bits were merged there wasn’t even the user-space bits published for creating the EROFS file-system with the “mkfs” code. The EROFS kernel driver code came out at the end of May and then in November was the EROFS user-space utility code to be able to create such a file-system.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Registration is open for the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference

        Registration is now open for the 2019 edition of the Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC). It will be held September 9-11 in Lisbon, Portugal with dedicated Linux Kernel Summit and Networking tracks, as was done last year, along with the microconferences and refereed presentations that are LPC standards. Go to the registration site to sign up or the attend page for more information on dates and quotas for the various registration types. Early registration will run until June 30 or until the quota is filled.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Broadcom’s V3D Gallium3D Driver Nears Working Compute Shader Support

        Broadcom’s next-gen “V3D” driver (formerly known as VC5) being used by some newer Broadcom hardware but more coming down the pipeline in the future has nearly working compute shader support.

        We hope the next-gen Raspberry Pi will end up using a Broadcom SoC supporting V3D as besides much better OpenGL capabilities and performance, one of the advantages of V3D — once the driver stack is in shape — is compute support — including ultimately OpenCL and Vulkan, but again more work needs to be done on the software side before that will be realized.

      • MoltenVK Now Supports Vulkan Tessellation On macOS, Other Features

        The crew working on the open-source MoltenVK layer that allows for Vulkan to run on macOS/iOS by remapping the calls to use Apple’s Metal drivers just picked up a lot more capabilities.

        Headlining the new MoltenVK v1.0.34 release that was issued on Friday is support for tessellation. Vulkan tessellation support can now work on Macs! The new MoltenVK release also adds support for VK_KHR_get_surface_capabilities2 and VK_EXT_host_query_reset. On the extension front is also updated support for VK_KHR_swapchain.

  • Applications

    • 7 Best Free Linux Disk Cloning Software

      One of the key responsibilities of a system administrator is to ensure the safety of an organisation’s computer data. This is a critical task for any organisation, given that the loss of important data could have profound implications on its future prosperity.

      There are a number of different strategies that a system administrator will need to use to ensure that data is preserved. For example, the person will need to maintain the computer system and/or network, by applying operating system updates and patches, by performing regular backups, and ensuring that the system is kept secure at all times. Disk cloning is a highly popular method of performing comprehensive backups of the operating system, installed software, and an organisation’s data with the minimum of effort.

      However, disk cloning software is not simply helpful for system backups. It has a wide range of other uses such as provisioning new computers in the workplace, restoring computers from a master image, and system recovery.

      To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 7 high quality Linux disk cloning software. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who needs to perform system admin tasks.

    • Blender 2.80 Release Plan

      The core development team will focus fully on the priorities for 2.80 in the coming months. Patches will have to wait, and we encourage developers working on new features to get them in a fully polished state so that they can go into the next release.

      After 2.80 we will follow a fixed release schedule. That means 2.81 would be released 3 months later. There are many great patches under development or almost ready to be included (for example UDIM), but which would delay the 2.80 release too much.

    • Blender 2.80 Should Be Released In July

      We’ve been looking forward to seeing Blender 2.80 in 2019 while now we finally have a better idea for when it will actually see the light of day.

      The Blender project has shared more of their current release plan around Blender 2.80. Under their current plan, by mid-May they should finish remaining features and UI work. In June they will work on updating the user-manual and targeting high priority bugs and other issues.

    • Top 25 Best Free Medical Imaging Software for Linux System

      Computers have been playing a significant role in modern healthcare systems since their inception. Have you ever wondered how medical imaging like MRI or X-ray scan copies is implemented? Your computer utilizes a special kind of file schema for this purpose. The DICOM(Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) is an internationally recognized standard for storing and distributing such crucial medical documents. A high number of medical imaging software for Linux exists that makes it possible to view these documents easily on your Linux machine. Today, we’ll discuss the 25 best such software which can be used as modern Linux DICOM viewers.

    • Ducktype 1.0

      Earlier this week, I released the final specification for Ducktype 1.0. If you’d like a quick primer on what Ducktype looks like, check out our Learn Ducktype tutorial.

      Ducktype is a lightweight syntax designed to be able to do everything Mallard can do. It doesn’t sacrifice semantics. It doesn’t sacrifice metadata. It doesn’t sacrifice nesting and content model.

    • 9 Best Free Linux HDR Imaging Software

      High dynamic range imaging (HDR) is an important technology for photographers. It is a collection of techniques that allow a wider dynamic range of luminances between the lightest and darkest areas of an image.

      The human eye can adapt to luminances from 0.000,000,1 cd/m² up to 1,000,000 cd/m², and can cope with a luminance range of 1:1000. However, computer displays only offer a contrast of approximately 300:1. This means that the luminance offered by a computer monitor falls significantly short to what the human eye can actually process.

    • Proprietary

      • AutoCAD for Linux & Ubuntu – How to Install It

        Linux is a household name when it comes to the alluring world of open-source software. It offers a great deal of freedom for running software outside the Windows and Mac world. Under Linux, there are many different varieties, such as openSuse, Fedora, and the ever-popular Ubuntu. In this article, we will demonstrate how to install AutoCAD on an Ubuntu platform specifically, but the same steps can be followed for any other version of Linux.

        Running an open-source operating system (OS) has loads of benefits. Rather than being stuck to the platform specifications, you’re free to customize it exactly as you’d like. However, sometimes this can create a problem when you want to run software that isn’t available for your OS. When in comes to 3D modeling, this is specifically a concern for Autodesk’s AutoCAD, which is only available for Windows and Mac PCs.

        While there are plenty of other CAD alternatives, sometimes there’s no avoiding AutoCAD. Or sometimes you simply want the best. Either way, we’re here to walk you through a couple of options on how to get the best of both worlds: AutoCAD on your Linux.

      • How to install ExpanDrive for Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, CentOS, RHEL Linux

        Expandrive is an application that allows users to mount the cloud storage drives directly on the Windows, MacOS and Linux just like the local drives under the Expandrive app. It helps to make us hassle free of opening browser and log in to cloud storage for downloading or uploading some file.

        The cloud providers it supports are Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Team Drives, Amazon Drive, Box, OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, Sharepoint, OOpenStackSwift, BackBlaze B2, Amazon S3 or your own SFTP, FTP or WebDAV server and SMB/Windows File Sharing.

        Installation of ExpanDrive is pretty easy on Windows and MacOS, however, for Ubuntu and RedHat, the company has recently publicized the Linux version of the same software. Here we are showing the installation on Ubuntu and Redhat which will the same for other Linux OS such as Linux Mint, Debian, Elementary OS, Centos, Fedora including older versions of Ubuntu such as 18.04, 17.04, 16.04, 15.04…

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine-Staging 4.6 Brings Big Performance Improvement For Multi-Threaded Games / Apps

        Friday’s release of Wine 4.6 was exciting in that it started merging the code for WineD3D Vulkan support, now supports a shared Wine-Mono, and other big ticket work. Wine-Staging 4.6 is now available as the latest experimental patches re-based atop the latest upstream Wine. This Wine-Staging update is quite exciting in its own right.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 66

        Here’s week 66 in KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative, and some major features have landed!

      • Dolphin & Other KDE Utilities To Begin Displaying File Creation Times On Linux

        With KDE Frameworks 5.58, the Dolphin file manager and other KDE applications will finally begin displaying file creation dates/times as a long sought after feature on Linux systems.

        This support within KDE for displaying file creation times is as a result of the low-level plumbing that went into the kernel back in 2017 with the statx system call for extended file information. Statx support has been wired into EXT4 and Btrfs and other popular file-systems for being able to provide information like the file creation time rather than just the last modified time.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • MX Linux MX-18 & 10-year-old Nvidia-powered laptop

        I might be boring, because I’m not adventurous, and I like to play it safe when I choose distros for serious work, but then, having tested hundreds of distro versions, spins and editions over the years, I like when I can fall back on a stable, reliable, well-polished release like Continuum. The one thing that’s really missing is a guaranteed LTS edition for me to be able to commit it to production, but then, with eeePC and now this RD510, this little distro has done more than most other systems in a long, long, long while. And the results are even better than what I had with a 2003 Lenovo T42, which I revived back in 2013.

        MX-18 Continuum really shines. There are some rough edges in the Xfce desktop, sure, and there can be even more goodies, but look what I felt about this project four or five years ago, look where we’re now, and look how my 10-year-old laptop runs with the sprightliness of a machine one third its age. That has to count for something. But with two out of two 10-year escapades nailed, I think this is a pretty solid recommendation for anyone looking to freshen up old, weak systems, but also people who want a solid, sane, user-focused experience. And that brings us to the end of this happy review. See you in 10 years. Or in a day or two.

    • New Releases

      • NuTyX MATE RR 20190413 Available

        I’m very please to announce a NuTyX MATE Rolling release ISO.

        This ISO is replacing the Miyo ISO for the new coming user’s on NuTyX.

        It include a complete installation of MATE, flcards, networkmanager, libreoffice, firefox, thunderbird, transmission, vlc, etc.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • OpenSUSE’s Spectre Mitigation Approach Is One Of The Reasons For Its Slower Performance

        OpenSUSE defaults to IBRS for its Spectre Variant Two mitigations rather than the Retpolines approach and that is one of the reasons for the distribution’s slower out-of-the-box performance compared to other Linux distributions.

        A Phoronix reader pointed out this opensuse-factory mailing list thread citing a “huge single-core performance loss” on a Lenovo laptop when using openSUSE. There’s a ~21% performance loss in single-threaded performance around the Spectre Variant Two mitigations, which itself isn’t surprising as we’ve shown time and time again about the performance costs of the Spectre/Meltdown mitigations.

      • Are you missing the potential of dynamic SAP communication?
    • Debian Family

      • Help test Debian Live

        During the stretch release period, it became apparent that very few people had been testing Debian Live, and some nasty bugs were discovered only during final release testing. The final stretch images for Debian live wasn’t quite up to the quality the Debian community deserved, and it lead to Steve McIntyre asking “IMPORTANT: Do live Debian images have a future?“.

        I decided to get involved and have been doing testing and bug fixes throughout the buster release cycle, and with today’s builds, I think we’re at a point where we have something good that’s ready for wide-scale testing.

        The Buster live images come with something new that a bunch of other distributions have also adopted, which is the Calamares installer. Calamares is an independent installer project (They call it “The universal installer framework”) which offers a Qt based interface for installing a system. It doesn’t replace debian-installer on the live images, rather, it serves a different audience. Calamares is really easy to use, with friendly guided partitioning and really simple full-disk encryption setup. It doesn’t cover all the advanced features of debian-installer (although it very recently got RAID support) and it doesn’t have an unattended install mode either. However, for 95%+ of desktop and laptop users, Calamares is a much easier way to get a system installed, which makes it very appropriate for live systems. For anyone who needs anything more complicated, or who’s doing a mass-install, debian-installer is still available in both text and GUI forms.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 19.04: Release Date, Features, And Details

            The dates for the release of Ubuntu 19.04 and a few other milestones which take place in the Ubuntu development cycle were released some time ago. It was revealed that there would actually be no alpha release during the “Disco Dingo” cycle. The official release date for Ubuntu 19.04 was revealed on March 28, 2019. As things were going according to the plan, Ubuntu revealed that the update 19.04 would be coming out on April 18, 2019.

            The “Disco Dingo” will have the latest GNOME 3.32, Mesa 19.0 and it will also utilize Linux Kernel 5.0. A lot of features were initially planned for Ubuntu 18. 10, which were postponed until the Disco Dingo development cycle but, the ended up being removed again. Ubuntu 19. 04 was going to have support for Android integration using GSConnect, which a native JavaScript implementation of the KDE Connect protocol, out of the box. This lets the users connect an Android phone to Ubuntu wirelessly.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Backgrounds Slideshow

            In this video slideshow we look at all the upcoming backgrounds on Ubuntu 19.04

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Deputy mayor moves Grenoble toward free and open-source software

    This article was adapted from our latest book, “Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons.”

  • Rasa raises $13 million for open source conversational AI tools

    For the uninitiated, Rasa provides open source tools designed to help developers build and improve text-and voice-based chatbots and assistants. Its eponymous Rasa Stack framework automates conversations in custom AI environments on-premesis or in the cloud while allowing companies to retain ownership over their data, while Rasa Platform — its other core product — simplifies the deployment and scaling of solutions built with Rasa Stack.

    Rasa specifically targets domains like sales and marketing and advanced customer service in health care, insurance, telecom, banking, and other enterprise verticals, and says its customers include Circle Medical, T-Mobile, MoneyLion, BMW, Swiss insurance company Helvetia, Allianz, Airbus, Toyota, women’s health bot startup Tia, and five of the 10 largest U.S. banks. It also says that “thousands” of developers have downloaded Rasa Stack over half a million times.

  • Our interview with CTO of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    I met Tom Soderstrom, IT CTO at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA. It was the closest I have ever come to meeting any top-shot at NASA JPL. We sat down to talk about open source at JPL and much more.

  • Open source speeds innovation, plays major role in NASA’s missionx

    A close encounter with the IT chief technology officer of NASA JPL.

  • Google Takes a Friendlier Path to Open Source Than Amazon

    Google recently announced partnerships with MongoDB, Redis Labs, and several other open-source data management companies. The crux of the partnership is that these companies’ offerings will be more tightly integrated into Google’s Cloud Platform. Customers will be able to use these select applications from one unified Google Cloud interface, rely on Google’s technical support for these apps, and receive a unified bill for all.

    Financials were not disclosed, though TechCrunch suggested some sort of profit-sharing arrangement. While these open-source companies probably don’t like giving away part of their revenue, Google is also taking care of associated customer support costs; in addition, some revenue on wider distribution is certainly better than nothing, which is what these companies receive when a user opts for Amazon’s in-house imitations.

  • Google Cloud challenges AWS with new open-source integrations

    Google today announced that it has partnered with a number of top open-source data management and analytics companies to integrate their products into its Google Cloud Platform and offer them as managed services operated by its partners.

  • Merkel: Germany supports EU copyright reform
  • Events

    • The first Devuan Conference

      The conference took place in Amsterdam in one of the rooms of a building that is floating on the water and looks a lot like an anchored submarine. This white submarine gives home to offices of Dyne.org, a non-profit foundation dedicated to free software, art and sustainability. Developers at Dyne.org adopted Devuan in the EU funded project DECODE and for the next two years will also be mentoring a public fund for F/OSS developers: the “venture builder for human-centric solutions” (LEDGER project).

    • GNU Hackers Meetings – News: Malfunction in ghm-planning (at) gnu.org

      Due to a problem in the alias configuration, mails sent to ghm-planning before Sun Apr 14 8:00 CEST have been silently dropped.

    • FOSSASIA OpenTech Summit’19

      Last month, I attended FOSSASIA’s annual conference which was held in Singapore. This conference was a collection of amazing, life-changing experiences. It was my first experience as a speaker and it taught me so much about the open-source culture. This summit took place from 14th March to 17th March in the beautiful city of Singapore. This was my second foreign trip as well. First one was to San Francisco as a part of the Student Startup Exposure Program.

      My flight was scheduled for 12th March from Jaipur and had a layover at Chennai for 5 hours. I reached the Changi Airport in the early morning of 13th. This airport was quite scenic and is also ranked as the top airport in the world.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Asa Dotzler: My New Role at Mozilla

        Several months ago I took on a new role at Mozilla, product manager for Firefox browser accessibility. I couldn’t be more excited about this. It’s an area I’ve been interested in for nearly my entire career at Mozilla.

  • BSD

    • GhostBSD 19.04 Release Switches To LightDM, Based On FreeBSD 13.0-CURRENT

      With TrueOS (formerly PC-BSD) shifting away from its desktop FreeBSD focus, the GhostBSD project remains one of the nice “desktop BSD” operating system offerings. GhostBSD 19.04 is now available in MATE and Xfce desktop spins.

      GhostBSD 19.04 is based on FreeBSD 13.0-CURRENT while officially using the MATE desktop but also providing a community Xfce desktop image. GhostBSD 19.04 switches to LightDM as its display/log-in manager, supports ZFS now when using the MBR mode in the installer, drops gksu, and has a number of bug fixes especially to its installer among other packages.

    • t2k19 Hackathon Report: Stefan Sperling on 802.11? progress, suspend/resume and more
    • GhostBSD 19.04 Now Available

      Finally, GhostBSD 19.04 is out! GhostBSD 19.04 has several improvements from the volume controller to the installer, and for the first time, we added and changed some code in the base system. GhostBSD 19.04 is available with our official MATE desktop, and there is also a community Xfce desktop version available. This release is a significant improvement from GhostBSD 18.12. Enjoy!

  • Licensing/Legal

    • GNU GPLv3 At The Center Of The Black Hole Image

      Scientists have finally seen what could not have been seen – a black hole. As fascinating is the fact that we can now ‘see’ a black hole, the story behind this achievement is even more fascinating.

      It’s a story of victory of science in the political era of science denials. It’s a victory of diversity in the era of homophobia and sexism. It’s a victory of free software in the era of…well, we live in the era of free software.

    • Open Source Helped Scientists See The Black Hole

      Free and Open Source software was at the center of the first image of a black hole. The team used three different imaging software libraries to achieve the feat. Out of the three, two were fully open source libraries – Sparselab and ehtim.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Infographic: How Mushrooms Clean Up Toxic Messes
    • The Professor and the Adjunct

      This vision partly depends on taking the longest possible view of things—a perspective that has always been part of the appeal of academia, where research and teaching rarely abide by any traditional metrics of productivity. Sexton touts the virtue of such a long-term perspective in a section of the book about a perhaps over-discussed university issue: politically controversial campus speakers. Invitations to such figures, which are sometimes extended by conservative groups with the overt aim of drawing ideological opponents into overreaction, have turned into games of brinksmanship at schools across the country. Sexton believes that universities have an obligation to welcome the airing of any and all ideas, even those that seem odious. He recalls tense conversations he had with high-level N.Y.U. donors who were incensed by guest speakers whose politics they disapproved of and who threatened to take their money somewhere else. It would be easier to relent to such pressures, but there is great importance, Sexton writes, in “honoring the presumption of inclusion.”

    • The Urgent Quest for Slower, Better News

      I haven’t stopped getting my news in this way, but I’m trying to change my ways to a certain extent. I’ve adopted a new ritual: reading the print edition of the New York Times over breakfast and on my commute. Since the early two-thousands, when I was a cub reporter at the Times, I’ve had the newspaper delivered daily to my door, but, as I’ve started getting more and more of my news online, I’ve been neglecting it. Having returned to spending uninterrupted time with the print newspaper each morning, I’m engaging with the news in a more focussed way. Certainly, I’m able to read more broadly. I’ve read articles that weren’t in my social-media feeds, or that I missed while scrolling through my apps: reporting on efforts to make Copenhagen a carbon-neutral city, on talks between the United States and the Taliban, on a new study that found that the size of bullets affects mortality rates in shootings. It seems to me that I’ve become better informed.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • PET Scans Reveal Elevated Tau in NFL Players’ Brains

      A study hints that it might be possible to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease associated with frequent head injuries, while patients are still living.

    • Health-Care Corporations Flooded Political Campaigns With Cash in 2017

      The nation’s largest health-care corporations gave at least $61 million directly to political campaigns, nonprofits, ballot initiatives, and trade associations during 2017, according to a MapLight analysis of newly released data.

      The data, compiled by the Center for Political Accountability, show the health-care giants gave $37 million alone in donations to political trade association heavyweights that included the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA); U.S. Chamber of Commerce; America’s Health Insurance Plans; and the Healthcare Leadership Council.

    • “Medicare-X” Wouldn’t Expand Access to Reproductive Health Care

      U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) last week re-introduced a “Medicare-X” bill to create a public plan for health insurance, but the legislation would do little to protect or expand access to reproductive health care at a time when it is increasingly imperiled.

      The Medicare-X Choice Act of 2019, according to a summary of the legislation, would “build on the Medicare framework to establish a public option on the individual and small business exchanges.” In 2021, the plan would be “available in areas with one or fewer options on” the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) marketplaces and in places “with a shortage of providers or a lack of plan competition.” By 2024, the public option would be available nationwide, and by 2025, it would also be available on the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchange, which is run by the government to allow small businesses to offer health insurance options to their workers. The plan would be funded through premiums.

      The bill text makes no explicit references to reproductive health care and abortion care. According to an analysis of the Medicare X bill from Guttmacher, provided exclusively to Rewire.News, this means “existing federal and state abortion coverage restrictions would apply. Depending on how those restrictions are interpreted and applied by the federal administration, abortion coverage would be banned either in at least half the states or in all states.”

    • Georgia Joins National Anti-Abortion Onslaught With “Heartbeat Ban”

      Statehouse activities in the first quarter of 2019 have shown an increased boldness on the part of openly anti-abortion legislators, culminating this month with Georgia’s “heartbeat bill,” which would criminalize abortion at six weeks. Maligned Gov. Brian Kemp has vowed to sign it before the May 1 deadline.

      “These last few months, Governor Kemp and the extreme GOP in Georgia have made their priorities crystal clear—they have shown that they have no plans to solve the real problems facing Georgians, and instead, they used this session to further their obsession with stripping away our rights,” NARAL Pro-Choice Georgia State Director Laura Simmons said on a press call. “To be clear: HB 481 is a complete rejection of the values Georgians hold.”

      The speciously titled “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act,” HB 481, passed by a singular vote despite polling from March showing that 69 percent of Georgians — including 52 percent of Republicans — support legal abortion. In fact, 56 percent of Georgia voters say they are less likely to vote for their elected officials in the next election if they support legislation to criminalize abortion. With statistics like these, it’s hard to imagine much backing for a law that preempts access to abortion before most patients even realize they’ve missed a period and might be pregnant.

      “Just so we’re clear: Abortion care is health care,” Dr. Atsuko Koyama said on the NARAL-organized press call. “As a provider of abortion care, I know that patients of every gender, age, race, religion, sexual identity and zip code need access to this safe, effective care. Georgia’s impending ban on almost all abortion care will endanger women and families both here and in surrounding states, while criminalizing physicians like me who are trying to provide compassionate, comprehensive health care for patients.”

    • Locking Up Drug “Dealers” to Save Users Doesn’t Make Anyone Safer

      President Trump declared a national emergency to fund a wall on the southern U.S. border. In his declaration speech, he doubled down on the ridiculous idea that a wall would significantly impact the drug trade. He also took the opportunity to reiterate the claim that executing drug dealers would end the overdose crisis, reinforcing another falsehood about how drug markets work.

      While the death penalty proposal is more dramatic than most, it is consistent with decades of policies based on the assumption that harshly punishing people who sell drugs will reduce drug use. Politicians of all stripes have argued that long sentences for drug dealers will reduce drug availability and make remaining drugs more expensive, driving down demand. But this is not how drug markets work, and is directly contradicted by the available evidence.

      Research shows that when a person who sells drugs is imprisoned, they are inevitably replaced by a new recruit or by additional work from remaining sellers, as long as demand remains unaffected. As thoroughly documented in a 2015 report, the major sentencing increases enacted in the 1980s and ’90s failed to reduce drug use or recidivism. A Maryland police officer described arresting drug sellers as “playing whack-a-mole” and “banging your head against a wall,” because an arrested seller can be so efficiently replaced.

  • Security

    • Flaws in WPA3 standard let [attackers] easily obtain WiFi passwords

      Launched in January 2018, WPA3 uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) protocol to improve WiFi network security. However, a new research paper published by Mathy Vanhoef and Eyal Ronen shows that the protocol may not be as safe as previously thought.

    • Why the US still won’t require SS7 fixes that could secure your phone

      Yet decades later, SS7 and other components of the nation’s digital backbone remain flawed, leaving calls and texts vulnerable to interception and disruption. Instead of facing the challenges of our hyper-connected age, the FCC is stumbling, according to documents obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and through extensive interviews with current and former agency employees. The agency is hampered by a lack of leadership on cybersecurity issues and a dearth of in-house technical expertise that all too often leaves it relying on security advice from the very companies it is supposed to oversee.

    • We have discovered and addressed a security breach.

      TL;DR: An attacker gained access to the servers hosting Matrix.org. The intruder had access to the production databases, potentially giving them access to unencrypted message data, password hashes and access tokens. As a precaution, if you’re a matrix.org user you should change your password now.

      The matrix.org homeserver has been rebuilt and is running securely; bridges and other ancillary services (e.g. this blog) will follow as soon as possible. Modular.im homeservers have not been affected by this outage.

    • The Ping is the Thing: Popular HTML5 Feature Used to Trick Chinese Mobile Users into Joining Latest DDoS Attack

      Rather than a vulnerability, the attack relied on turning a legitimate feature into an attack tool. Also, almost all of the users enlisted in the attack were mobile users of the QQBrowser developed by the Chinese tech giant Tencent and used almost exclusively by Chinese speakers. Though it should be noted that this attack could have involved users of any web browser and that recent news could ensure that these attacks continue to grow — and we’ll explain why later in the article.

    • The Problem with SSH Agent Forwarding

      Put simply: if your jump box is compromised and you use SSH agent forwarding to connect to another machine through it, then you risk also compromising the target machine!

      Instead, you should use either ProxyCommand or ProxyJump (added in OpenSSH 7.3). That way, ssh will forward the TCP connection to the target host via the jump box, meaning that the actual connection happens on your workstation and if someone on the jump box tries to MITM your connection, then you will be warned by the SSH command.

    • Some Outlook Accounts Were Available To Hackers For Several Months

      According to a report by The Verge, a support agent’s account was hacked by unnamed hackers from January 2019 to March 28, 2019, due to which the malicious attackers could get access to several users’ email addresses, folder names, and subject lines of emails on Outlook.

    • Microsoft reveals hackers accessed some Outlook.com accounts for months

      Microsoft has started notifying some Outlook.com users that a hacker was able to access accounts for months earlier this year. The software giant discovered that a support agent’s credentials were compromised for its web mail service, allowing unauthorized access to some accounts between January 1st and March 28th, 2019. Microsoft says the hackers could have viewed account email addresses, folder names, and subject lines of emails, but not the content of emails or attachments.

    • Systemd Picks Up Support For MACsec To Better Secure Ethernet Connections

      Following this week’s release of systemd 242, one of the newly-merged features for what will become systemd 243 is support for MACsec within the networkd code.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Once again, Facebook blames an algorithm instead of taking responsibility

      Facebook is notorious for absolving itself of responsibility for bad behavior by offering up an algorithm as a scapegoat (examples here, here, here, here). This time Brian Fishman, Facebook’s policy director for counterterrorism, told Congress at a closed-door briefing that the New Zealand shooter video that Facebook streamed was not gruesome enough for its naughty, misbehaving algorithm to flag so please don’t get mad at Facebook.

    • Facebook Tells Congress New Zealand Shooting Video Wasn’t ‘Gruesome’ Enough to Flag

      Members pushed back against Fishman’s defense. One member of Congress said the video was so violent, it looked like footage from Call of Duty.

    • ‘It Is Not Enough to Simply Oppose US Military Intervention’: A Response to WOLA on Venezuela

      In its response, WOLA does not offer any explanation for why they do not oppose this illegal regime change effort, nor do they recognize the enormous damage that Trump and his allies have done and continue to do.

      The financial embargo that Trump imposed by executive order in August 2017 has been killing people by depriving them of medicine, medical supplies, and other essential imports; and preventing a recovery from what has become the worst depression in Latin American history.

      Yet WOLA has not opposed these ongoing sanctions, even in their response to our criticism of their stance. In fact, following the implementation of these sanctions, WOLA Senior Fellow David Smilde wrote in The New York Times that “Countries throughout the region and the United States … should continue to pressure Mr. Maduro by deepening the current sanctions regime…” He also praised the [August 2017] “‘debt sanctions’ levied by the Trump administration that prohibit United States citizens or institutions from buying or issuing new Venezuelan debt,” noting that they “have hamstrung the Maduro government’s ability to raise new funds.”

      Contrary to WOLA’s response to us, this position does not reflect that they “are in principle suspicious of” sanctions, even when these sanctions kill innocent people.

    • Sudan Army Removes Leader, Rejects Ousted President’s Extradition

      The Sudanese military on Friday swiftly replaced the country’s transitional leader linked to the Darfur genocide after street rallies against him and said that it wouldn’t hand over ousted President Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court, where he faces charges of crimes against humanity.

      Thousands of jubilant protesters celebrated in the streets after Defense Minister Gen. Awad ibn Ouf, who was named de facto leader after overthrowing al-Bashir on Thursday, announced he was stepping down as transitional leader. He named a reputable army general as his successor.

    • Prospect of Nuclear War Highest in Decades, Yet Media Ognores

      I’m as curious as the next person about the Mueller report, Donald Trump’s tax returns and Jody Wilson-Raybould’s inner thoughts, but is there really no room amidst all the media chatter for the news that the chances of nuclear war are “higher than they’ve been in generations.”

      That was the frightening assessment the United Nations Security Council received last week from UN disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu, and it made barely a ripple in the media.

      For that matter, Trump’s decision in February to withdraw from a key nuclear treaty, signed amid great hope 32 years ago by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, was deemed worthy of about 24 hours of news coverage.

      Even as climate change is finally penetrating the mainstream news cycle, the media has all but lost interest in nuclear war.

      Commentators rarely find time to remind us that all-out war between the U.S. and Russia, the two most heavily armed nuclear combatants, would be 100,000 times more destructive than Hiroshima. Billions of people would die in raging fires and from radioactive fallout, with the rest of humanity freezing or starving to death in the ensuing nuclear winter.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Pentagon Papers lawyer: The indictment of Assange is a snare and a delusion

      The indictment is, however, a snare and a delusion. It is surprisingly spare and seems to have been written with a particular purpose in mind — to extradite Assange from England. Once he is here, he will be hit, no doubt, with multiple charges.

      Under the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty, one cannot be extradited from the United Kingdom if the extradition is for “political purposes.” This explains why the indictment does not contain any charges alleging that Assange conspired with the Russians to impact the 2016 presidential election. It may also explain why the indictment focuses on hacking government computers rather than on leaking stolen government information, in as much as leaking could be characterized as being done for political purposes.

    • Julian Assange: Five things to know about the legal case against him

      The allegations laid out in the indictment trace back more than a decade, when WikiLeaks obtained and published Afghanistan and Iraq war logs as well as secret diplomatic cables from former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

      According to the charging document, Assange allegedly agreed to assist Manning in cracking a password to a classified government computer in March 2010, after already having received “hundreds of thousands of classified records” from Manning that WikiLeaks planned to release publicly.

    • Use ‘special ties’ to stop Assange US extradition, Greens tell govt

      Dr Di Natale said: “Regardless of what you think about Assange as an individual, he is facing extradition to the US on charges relating to his work to shine light on potential war crimes – an act that won him Australia’s highest honour for journalism.

      “Seeking to punish Assange for exposing evidence of US atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan would put a chilling effect on moves towards open and more transparent democracy.”

    • 2 journalists were murdered — but their investigations live on

      Before he was killed, Kuciak was working with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on an investigation into the presence of the infamous Italian criminal group “Ndrangheta” in Slovakia and possible connections to the country’s political elite. Many in Slovakia believed that Kuciak was killed because of his investigations.

      Immediately after he was murdered, Kuciak’s colleagues at OCCRP decided that those who silenced Kuciak would not also silence his work. The multinational group resolved to publish his findings, many of which were already in the final stages. To do so, they would have to work together, across borders and languages.

    • Brit cops arrest Wikileaks founder Julian Assange
    • Julian Assange’s Arrest Should Worry Anyone Who Cares About Freedom of the Press

      The indictment, charging him with hacking one password, may seem like good news; in fact, it’s an attack on investigative journalism.

      [...]

      Yet read that six-page indictment more closely, and the alarm bells should sound afresh. Here’s why: Assange and Manning are not just being charged with a simple act of hacking. The indictment explicitly describes Assange’s password hack as part of a broader WikiLeaks conspiracy to “publicly disseminate the information on its website.” The indictment takes note of WikiLeaks’ use of a cloud-based dropbox for confidential document dumps.

      Most significantly, the indictment—again relying, irony of ironies, on hacked and decrypted Jabber chats—delves deep into the source-publisher relationship, noting that Assange “encouraged” a weary Manning’s leaking, and then quoting this bit of chat: [...]

    • Statement from Chelsea Manning’s Support Team Regarding Assange Indictment and Punitive Nature of Chelsea’s Continued Detention

      The Assange indictment disclosed this morning strengthens their claims of grand jury abuse, say Manning’s attorneys.

    • Julian Assange: Man ‘close’ to Wikileaks co-founder arrested in Ecuador

      Interior Minister María Paula Romo did not name the man but said he had been arrested for “investigative purposes”.

      An unnamed government official told the Associated Press that the man is Ola Bini, a Swedish software developer.

    • Use ‘special ties’ to stop Assange US extradition, Greens tell govt

      The Australian Greens have called on the Federal government to ensure that WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange is not extradited to the US after his arrest in London overnight.

    • Treatment of Julian Assange a valuable lesson

      Assange has been convicted today for jumping bail on a charge that was dropped and no longer exists. For that he was forced to seek political asylum and was guarded night and day for nearly seven years.

      If we are going to talk about the rule of law, why are we not talking about the heinous crimes committed against Assange since 2012 by successive British governments?

      [...]

      Instead what we have are mealy-mouthed mainstream wimps pretending to be reporters cheering on the incarceration and maltreatment of a real journalist.

    • US accuses Assange of password cracking, seeks his extradition

      Hours after his arrest, the US has unveiled an indictment against WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange, seeking his extradition to face charges of computer hacking and being involved in a compromise of classified information.

    • The case against Julian Assange is serious — but smaller and shakier than some people feared

      The CFAA is a notoriously overbroad law that can be easy for prosecutors to abuse. But according to attorney Tor Ekeland, who has worked on several high-profile CFAA cases, the Justice Department’s argument here is relatively shaky. Among other things, there’s usually a five-year statute of limitations on CFAA charges, and Manning’s document leaks stopped in 2010. Ekeland says the Justice Department is stretching that limit by invoking a section that classes hacking as an act of terrorism, but a court might take issue with its strategy. “It’s not that strong an indictment,” he says.

      The Justice Department might still be looking at other charges, including espionage. But if the UK turns over Assange specifically for this CFAA violation, prosecutors can’t simply indict him for new crimes later. “If this is the indictment that they presented to the UK for extradition, they’re locked into it,” says Ekeland. “The United States government can’t bring him to the United States and add 50 charges.”

    • US: Assange’s Possible Extradition Threatens Journalism

      The extradition of Julian Assange from the United Kingdom to the United States for alleged computer-related crimes could have dangerous implications for journalists in the digital age.
      London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed Assange’s arrest on April 11, 2019 “on behalf of the United States authorities” under an extradition warrant. He was found guilty of breach of bail by a UK court the same day and ordered to appear on extradition charges on May 2. The arrest is presumed to be founded on a March 6, 2018 indictment, which a US court unsealed today. The indictment charges Assange with conspiracy to commit violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, including accessing classified information, in connection with the leaks of US documents by Chelsea Manning.

      “Prosecuting Julian Assange for acts often associated with publishing news of public importance – including sensitive or classified information – has potential to open a dangerous precedent for every news organization,” said Dinah PoKempner, general counsel at Human Rights Watch. “The Trump administration’s open hostility to ‘mainstream media’ has contributed to an increasingly dangerous environment for investigative journalism worldwide.”

      [...]

      “There is a real danger that the Assange case could become a model for governments that seek to punish media for exposing evidence of abuses,” PoKempner said. “The US government should be especially careful not to stretch concepts like ‘conspiracy’ in ways that could criminalize newsgathering globally and make it harder to expose critical information, including about human rights abuses.”

    • Why the prosecution of Julian Assange is troubling for press freedom

      After a seven-year standoff at the Ecuadoran embassy in London, British police yesterday arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange–a development press freedom advocates had long feared.

      For years, journalists and press freedom advocates worried the U.S. would prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act for the publication of classified information, a scenario that potentially would have set a devastating legal precedent for U.S. news organizations that regularly publish such material. During the Obama administration, officials ultimately said they would not prosecute because of the possible consequences for press freedom.

      It was unclear whether the Trump administration would have the same compunction: while Trump praised WikiLeaks, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo labeled it a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” Trump has shown little concern for freedom of the press, once allegedly urging then-FBI Director James Comey to jail journalists. (In response to news of Assange’s arrest, Trump said he would leave it to the Justice Department).

    • The Case Against Julian Assange Is a Threat to Journalists Everywhere

      The Trump administration is counting on the public’s dislike of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange to potentially curtail press freedom rights. Don’t fall for it.

      In a stunning series of events on Thursday, Assange’s asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London — where he’s taken refuge for the last seven years — was forcibly revoked, and he was quickly arrested by British authorities. Shortly after his arrest, the Department of Justice released an indictment alleging Assange engaged in a conspiracy to commit computer crimes and indicated it would attempt to extradite Assange to the United States to stand trial.

      The charge was not related to WikiLeaks’ controversial publication of hacked emails during the 2016 election. Instead, the charged focused on Assange’s role in gathering and publishing classified U.S. Pentagon and State Department documents in 2010, which were provided to the organization by whistleblower and one-time Army private Chelsea Manning.

    • ‘Witch hunts, book burnings & the Inquisition are back’: Kim Dotcom says Assange ‘hero for the ages’

      Renegade internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has condemned the arrest of Julian Assange as a modern-day “inquisition,” and said the WikiLeaks founder’s “persecution and arrest” will make him “a hero for the ages.”
      “Witch hunts, book burnings and the Inquisition are back,” Dotcom tweeted on Thursday, hours after Assange was hauled out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London by British police.

      “The persecution and arrest of Julian Assange for publishing the truth returns us to the darkest times in human history,” the internet icon continued. “This attempt to keep us from the truth will turn Julian Assange into a hero for the ages.”

    • Julian Assange might have already won

      Has WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange already won his case?

      British police arrested him on Thursday at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been living in external exile since 2012. The arrest was prompted by an extradition warrant filed by the United States, which has charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

      In the immediate aftermath of the arrest, Assange partisans like journalist Glenn Greenwald have fulminated about the government’s heavy-handedness, saying this represents a dangerous crackdown on freedom of the press. If Assange goes down this way, they warn, our constitutional freedoms are going with him.

      But if you look at the indictment, on a very narrow charge of computer hacking conspiracy, it’s evident that the government stayed well clear of the dangerous notion of prosecuting a publisher for publishing. And, if anything, Assange might get exactly the fight he’s looking for, served up to him by the government he purports to loathe.

      If the case plays out as expected, he’ll first get a platform in Britain to argue to a worldwide audience that it’s all a political setup. And if he loses that round, and the case does come back to the United States, he might well get the government to serve him up, by law, the kind of massive document haul he loves.

    • U.S. charges WikiLeaks’ Assange with hacking conspiracy with Manning

      The indictment, filed in March 2018 and unsealed on Thursday, said Assange in March 2010 engaged in a conspiracy to help Manning crack a password stored on Defense Department computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications.

    • Assange helped teach the people about our tarnished freedom – now we are all he has left to defend him

      It finally happened – Julian Assange was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy and arrested. It was no surprise: many signs pointed in this direction.

      A week or two ago, Wikileaks predicted the arrest, and the Ecuadorian foreign ministry responded with what we now know were lies. The recent rearrest of Chelsea Manning (largely ignored by the media) was also an element in this game. Her confinement, designed to force her to divulge information about links with Wikileaks, is part of the prosecution that awaits Assange when (if) the US gets hold of him.

      There were also clues in the long, slow well-orchestrated campaign of character assassination which reached the lowest level imaginable a couple of months ago with unverified rumors that the Ecuadorians wanted to get rid of him because of his bad smell and dirty clothes.

      In the first stage of attacks on Assange, his ex-friends and collaborators went public with claims that Wikileaks began well but then it got bogged down with Assange’s political bias (his anti-Hillary obsession, his suspicious ties with Russia…). This was followed by more direct personal defamations: he is paranoiac and arrogant, obsessed by power and control.

    • The Trump administration’s indictment of Julian Assange threatens core press freedom rights

      The Trump administration’s indictment of Assange may criminalize many common journalistic practices.

    • What the arrest of Assange means for human rights of all

      We have repeatedly expounded the issue of right to existence as the primary of all human rights, and of human rights for all. War and its willfully killing is thus N° 1 enemy of such humanity’s essential right.

      Hence, we have warmly supported the denounce of preparations, propaganda and perpetration of occupation-wars, illegal wars, war-abuses, crimes perpetrated under the name of one power’s ‘national security’ against the international security of many nations, the widespread killing of civilians, the using of prohibited chemical weapons, etc. All that denouncing has been a leit motif in the endevours of WikiLeaks. Julian Assange, the founder of that organization, has established an example of civil courage, a behaviour which has been followed by important other exposures at different latitudes.

      This movement, which also perfectioned the mechanisms of modern alternative media to counter arrest the disinformation routine that has characterized MSM, have provided free information, and thus education, as to how deal with the alienation pursued by the messages of those in power that are transmitted by the media at their service.

      The arresting of the WikiLeaks publisher Mr Julian Assange signifies not only a hard blow for Western democratic principles referred to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It also entails a further threat to all honest journalists, public and private officials which have undertaken the honourable mission of denouncing war crimes allegedly perpetrated by NATO and its aligned forces in various scenarios of illegal wars.

    • ‘Our property now’: (Most) US lawmakers rejoice over Assange arrest

      US lawmakers from both parties cheered the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, while President Donald Trump claimed he ‘knows nothing’ about the outlet, despite often saying ‘I love WikiLeaks’ during the 2016 campaign.

      Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Thursday morning by UK police, acting on a US warrant for his arrest on charges of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.”

      Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) was on CNN’s New Day show when the news broke, and he rejoiced that Assange is now “our property and we can get the facts and truth from him.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Two new wind turbine parks needed just to cope with new data centres, council warns

      The council recommends that the government legally binds the owners of the data centres to contributing to the infrastructure required to supply them with green energy. They also recommend that any excess heat produced by the centres, which could be used in district heating, is not taxed – something the government has so far rejected.

    • The Problematic White Supremacy Roots of This Supposed Green New Deal Satire

      On Wednesday, the Daily Caller published an opinion piece by Heartland Institute policy analyst Timothy Benson that we can only assume is satire. Benson argues in the piece that when it comes to addressing the existential threat of climate change, “if we can’t persuade” the current-top-emitters of China, Russia and India to cut their emissions, then the U.S. “will have to invade and occupy these countries” and force the emission reductions.

    • 2 Children Dead, Several People Hurt in Strong Texas Storms

      Two children were killed and about a dozen people were injured in Texas Saturday after powerful storms spawned at least one suspected tornado and damaged several homes, authorities said.

      The Angelina County Sheriff’s Office said an 8-year-old and a 3-year-old died when strong winds toppled a tree onto the back of their family’s car in Lufkin while it was in motion. Capt. Alton Lenderman said the parents, who were in the front seats, were not injured.

      Lufkin is about 115 miles (185 kilometers) northeast of Houston. Additional information was not immediately available.

      In Central Texas, Robertson County Sheriff Gerald Yezak told The Associated Press a suspected tornado hit the small city of Franklin, overturning mobile homes and damaging other residences. Franklin is located about 125 miles (200 kilometers) south of Dallas.

    • Organising for energy democracy in the face of austerity

      In 2012, citizens from Highland Park, Michigan came together to form Soulardarity in response to the repossession of over 1,000 streetlights from their city. Their goal is to organise for community-owned solar street lights, energy production and equitable development. Since its formation, Soulardarity has installed seven solar streetlights and deployed over US$ 30,000 worth of solar technology in Highland Park and the surrounding communities through the PowerUP bulk purchasing programme. The group has also organised advocacy at the city and state levels for regulation, policy and local political leadership to support community ownership, transparency and environmental responsibility.
      Soulardarity also advocates for a Community Ownership Power Administration (COPA) as part of the growing call in the United States for a Green New Deal to tackle climate change, economic inequality and racial injustice.

  • Finance

    • Jack Ma Draws Controversy by Lauding Overtime Work Culture

      “To be able to work 996 is a huge bliss,” China’s richest man said. “If you want to join Alibaba, you need to be prepared to work 12 hours a day, otherwise why even bother joining.”

    • Foxconn says empty buildings in Wisconsin are not empty

      So, first things first: no one climbed any trees to report on Foxconn’s innovation centers. Our reporter, Josh Dzieza, simply looked in the window and saw this: [...]

    • Uber Warns in IPO Filing That Its Drivers Will Be Even Less Happy

      The moves are unlikely to mollify critics. “The long-term model of driving for less than minimum wage after you pay the expenses for your car is not a model that a company can mask with a onetime bonus,” said Nicole Moore, a Lyft driver and organizer for the driver advocacy group Rideshare Drivers United – Los Angeles.

    • Uber Says Outcome of Criminal Inquiries Could Hurt Business

      Namely, it may face additional claims related to a 2016 data breach, when the company lost 57 million users’ personal information.

      Other probes include: [...]

    • Uber’s Losing Less Money—but Growing Less, Too

      Uber pulled in $11.3 billion in revenue in 2018, a 42 percent jump over the year previous. And though its operating losses are still heavy—$3 billion in 2018—the company has managed to stem them, at least a bit, bringing operating losses down from $4.1 billion in 2017. [...]

    • Florida: The Graveyard of American Public Education

      Florida has the worst education policies of any state in the nation, and it is about to get even more destructive, more ignorant, more backward.

      Read this alarming article and remember that Betsy DeVos points to Florida as a model.

      A model, yes. A model of how religious extremists, rightwing ideologues, and uneducated political hacks can destroy public education, drive away teachers, and fund “schools” that indoctrinate students in religious dogma.

      The post was written by Kathleen Oropeza Parent Activist in Orlando.

      Jeb Bush started the descent into the swamp of ignorance. Now the torch is carried by Ron DeSantis, who wants to arm teachers, expand the state’s voucher programs to include middle-class families with income up to $100,000 a year, reduce the power of local school boards so they can’t block new charter schools, and undercut public schools in every way their little minds can imagine.

    • Dimon in the Rough

      In his annual letter to shareholders, distributed last week, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon took aim at socialism, warning it would be “a disaster for our country,” because it produces “stagnation, corruption and often worse.”

      Dimon should know. He was at the helm when JPMorgan received a $25bn socialist-like bailout in 2008, after it and other Wall Street banks almost tanked because of their reckless loans.

      Dimon subsequently agreed to pay the government $13bn to settle charges that the bank overstated the quality of mortgages it was selling to investors in the run-up to the crisis. According to the Justice Department, JPMorgan acknowledged it had regularly and knowingly sold mortgages that should have never been sold. (Presumably this is where the “stagnation, corruption and often worse” comes in.)

    • House Dems Slam Big Bank CEOs Over Pay Disparity

      For the first time in a decade, CEOs of America’s mega-banks were summoned to Capitol Hill on April 10 to face scrutiny from lawmakers. House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) explained that her goal was to find out what — if anything — the seven Wall Street leaders had learned since the 2008 financial crisis.

      The executives’ own paychecks featured prominently in the questioning — for good reason. The financial industry’s out-of-control pay practices were a key factor in the reckless behavior that led to the crash. Having massive jackpots sitting on the table, with little or no downside risk, gave bank executives a powerful incentive to make outrageous gambles that put us all in danger.

    • Trump’s New Proposal Cheats 8 Million Working People of Overtime Pay

      Eight million. That’s how many U.S. middle-class workers will be left without strong overtime pay protections under the Trump administration’s weak overtime rule proposed on March 22.

      In human terms, that means 8 million working people across the 50 states can be made to work up to 50, 60 or even 70 hours a week, missing time with their families, without receiving any extra pay, even if they make as little as $35,000 a year.

      The problem is the salary threshold below which workers are guaranteed time-and-a-half overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week has been frozen for decades, with no adjustment for the rising cost of living. As a result, the share of salaried workers guaranteed overtime pay has plummeted from six in 10 in 1975 to less than one in 10 today.

      The Trump administration claimed that the new overtime salary threshold is a win for workers, and many news outlets echoed the administration’s spin, declaring in headlines across the country that the Trump rule is an “expansion,” or at least a “compromise” on overtime pay. In reality, it is a significant rollback that will cheat millions of Americans of fair pay for hard work.

    • Could tough new rules to regulate big tech backfire?

      It is the regulator’s dilemma: how to foster innovation yet curb excess; how to impose rules without making them so onerous that only the biggest companies can comply – or hire teams to get round them, water them down, lobby for change, and withstand long and expensive legal disputes.

      The government’s long-awaited Online Harms white paper is keenly aware of this dilemma.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Text-mining journalists find that lawmakers introduced 10,000 bills that were copypasted from lobbyists’ “model legislation”

      For two years, researchers from USA Today, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity have been ingesting the bills introduced in all 50 state legislatures, yielding a corpus of more than 1,000,000 bills, and then consumed months of computer time on a large cluster, comparing these bills to “model legislation” promoted by lobbyists, using a text-mining engine that could identify paraphrases, synonyms, and other techniques used to file the serial numbers off of these bills.

      They found that more than 10,000 bills that were notionally authored by elected lawmakers drawing a salary at public expenses were actually authored by lobbyists; more than 2,100 of these bills became law. [...]

    • Thousands Rally in Serbia Against Populist Leader Vucic

      Thousands in Serbia protested again Saturday against populist President Aleksandar Vucic as riot police deployed inside the country’s parliament, saying they wanted to prevent the opposition from storming the building.

      The protest in central Belgrade in front of the parliament building — the biggest so far in 19 straight weeks — came after months of anti-government demonstrations accusing Vucic of being autocratic and demanding that his government allow more democracy, media freedoms and free elections in the Balkan nation.

      Opposition leaders, ranging from the far-left to right-wing, said authorities sought to prevent their supporters from coming to Belgrade for the rally Saturday. Police denied the accusations.

    • Labor organizer Jane McAlevey on why strikes are the only way out of our current crisis

      As teachers across the United States have shown recently, mass strikes are the key to winning progressive victories in the Trump era.

    • Trump and High Level Intelligence

      Occasionally we are surprised by Mr. Trump when he makes pronouncements that none of us thought to be within his realm of expertise. Of course, those realms are so all inclusive, as we have learned during the course of his presidency, that we should not be surprised. His recent pronouncements on wind, and wind related devices, however, have caused some of us to wonder if there resides within Mr. Trump a body of scientific knowledge of which we were unaware or, alternatively, is he is simply an ignoramus.

      The question presented itself because of an interview he had with one of his admirers—ardent follower, and assistant policy maker Sean Hannity of Fox News—followed by public comments made to adoring crowds at rallies and other events.

      In an interview with Mr. Hannity (known to some as Sean Inannity for reasons that need no explanation,) Mr. Trump surprised listeners with an observation about a climate phenomenon, and a device used to take advantage of it. It pertained to wind of the non-flatulent sort.

      In the interview, Mr. Trump explained to Mr. Hannity that wind power doesn’t work because wind only blows sometimes. Following up on that cogent observation, in a rally in Michigan shortly after that interview, he said that he “knows a lot about wind; if it doesn’t blow, you can forget about television for that night.”

    • Ocasio-Cortez Is Winning the Battle Against GOP Sexists

      There are a variety of ways to describe the Republican reaction to the political rise of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York). There is even some science to help explain their sudden and viciously vociferous interest in her. We can bandy about armchair psychoanalyses and political explanations for this behavior all day long, but in the end, the answer is straightforward: The image of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has become a Rorschach Test for assholes. “What do you see in this Ocasio-Cortez ink blot, Senator Rightdude?”

      Nothing good, apparently. That’s a tall compliment all by itself.

      Admirers and detractors alike call her “AOC” now, mostly because her full name with title is big enough to merit its own congressional representative and takes a long time to say or type out. That’s how it goes sometimes. Nicknames, however, have a way of breeding an oft-unmerited sense of familiarity, and her new GOP enemies have not shied away from talking about AOC in disgustingly personal terms.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Amazon employees paid to listen to private Alexa chats

      Worse, Bloomberg mentions at least two workers who believe they captured a recording of a sexual assault. We’re just going to put the full quote here, so there’s no room for ambiguity: “Amazon says it has procedures in place for workers to follow when they hear something distressing, but two Romania-based employees said that, after requesting guidance for such cases, they were told it wasn’t Amazon’s job to interfere.”

      That’s not wholly surprising, given ‘interfering’ would shatter the Echo’s promise of privacy in one single shot, but at the same time: yikes.

    • China’s AI-based prisons – both indoors and outdoors – offer a warning of how privacy may die elsewhere
    • Silk Road 2 Founder Dread Pirate Roberts 2 Caught, Jailed for 5 Years

      The NCA investigators linked White first to the StExo identity in part by following financial and bitcoin transactions in the early days of the account’s creation.

      “We effectively got him from his day one, week one, of activity on Silk Road,” Chowles said. Chowles explained that included tracing a loan from payday loan company Wonga in White’s name, which was then sent to cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox, which then transferred bitcoin funds to the StExo account on Silk Road and paid for some items on the site. Other evidence included receipts for items seized from other Silk Road vendors addressed to White, and White being in possession of bitcoin wallets associated with DPR2.

    • Zuck’s back, calling for “new rules” for the Internet, which will entrench Facebook’s power, but do nothing for privacy

      Finally, it’s important to remember that regulations by their very nature impose compliance costs on companies, both in terms of money and organizational challenges. As we’ve already seen with the GDPR, those best able to manage such costs are the big companies: they have deep pockets and departments full of clever lawyers. The same is true here. The more governments bring in regulations for the world of social media, the greater the barrier to entry for others less well-endowed with money and experienced staff.

      Zuckerberg’s apparent humility in calling for governments around the world to increase their “control” over Facebook is in fact just another shrewd move to bolster the company’s already immense power. It will do very little to provide greater protection for the privacy of its users.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • World Bank criticised for coal, oil and gas funding

      The World Bank Group faces criticism for continuing to back fossil fuel development, despite moves to clean up its portfolio.

      It has earned green credentials for ending direct lending to coal-fired power plants, promising to axe support for oil and gas exploration and increasing its clean energy budget.

      Yet over the last five years, the group’s support to oil and gas actually increased, while coal benefitted from indirect subsidies, according to analysis from German NGO Urgewald.

      The study, which covers 675 active investments, found $21 billion went to fossil fuels between 2014 and 2018. While clean energy finance grew rapidly, it did not catch up. The figure was $7bn or $15bn, depending on the inclusion of large-scale hydropower and other projects with disputed environmental benefits.

    • Women Will Face Disproportionately Negative Consequences from AI

      The first-ever study to map the labor consequences of AI for women, published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), is a reminder of the intractable stubbornness of gender inequality, despite, or increasingly, because of, the direction of our digital future.

      While estimates vary hugely, IWPR calculates that although women make up just under half the US workforce, they will make up nearly 60 percent of the workers at highest risk of being displaced by technology. Today, argues Ariane Hegewisch—IWPR’s program director for employment and earnings—“The impact of technology critically depends on how it is implemented and who is at the table when it is implemented.”

    • Creating a Crucial Path Forward After Prison

      Susan Burton, the co-author of “Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women,” says she never stood a chance in today’s America. Her childhood was marked with abuse and racism, and the inexplicable fatal shooting of her 5-year-old son by a cop in South Los Angeles drove her to alcoholism, which ultimately led to her incarceration.

      Her tragic story reflects certain realities for those with similar backgrounds. As Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer recounts in a conversation about Burton’s book, which is based on her life story, “42 percent of African American children under 6 live in poverty. Black women represent 40 percent of prostitutes, 55 percent of those arrested, 85 of those incarcerated.”

      However, it was when the harsh truths of life after prison without any support became unbearably apparent that Burton says she was able to see a path forward for herself and incredibly, for others in her position.

    • These Farmers Are Sowing Seeds of Diversity in the U.S. Food System (and Have Been for Quite Some Time)

      Winter is waning at High Hog Farms, which sits on five acres about 40 miles northeast of Atlanta. The farm’s 21 raised beds have been prepped and await the growing season. Hens are laying eggs, chicks are hatching and a new angora bunny named Langston has joined the farm as its future buck. Along with the resident sheep, his offspring will be sheared for wool. Soon enough, all that fluff will be on sale at a local farmers’ market alongside High Hog’s herbs, fruits, vegetables, poultry and pork. This is how Keisha Cameron nourishes her family and neighbors.

      With the help of her husband, Warren and teenage sons, Cameron has turned a large plot in the small town of Grayson into a flourishing farm. She raises her livestock without growth hormones, cultivates her crops without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and sells the produce locally, right off the farm or at farmers’ markets. Throughout the year, Cameron throws open High Hog’s gates to volunteers and offers cooking classes like a”Cultured Kitchen Workshop.” This is Cameron’s way of cultivating community among black farmers in the region.

      “For me, part of farming is about reimagining and reenvisioning what it means to be a black person on the land in the South, and learning to be self-reliant,” said Cameron, who came to farming five years ago after a career in marketing. “And my idea of self-reliance absolutely requires other people.”

    • ‘Egregious Abuse of Power’: Report Says Trump Offered Pardon to CBP Head if He Broke Law and Blocked Asylum-Seekers

      “Maybe someone should hold a hearing into all the different ways Trump has asked people who work for him or the government to break laws.”

      That’s what journalist Garance Franke-Ruta suggested Saturday in leading off a Twitter thread with a list of reported examples.

      Number three on her list: reporting by CNN on Friday that President Donald Trump promised Customs and Border Patrol chief Kevin McAleenan a pardon if border agents violated U.S. law and blocked asylum-seekers from entering the country.

    • The Politics Behind Donald Trump’s Empty Threats on Mexico Border

      Donald Trump’s flailing on immigration and the Mexican border continue to spiral into chaos. First, he threatened to close the border with Mexico. One week later, he walked that back. He declares a national emergency about the “invasion” of people seeking asylum from Central American countries, and then says he’s stopped all aid to those countries, which can only worsen the conditions that cause people to leave. He says he’s already building a wall. That isn’t true. He torpedoes bipartisan measures that might begin to make things better.

      It’s increasingly clear Trump wants a crisis that he can use politically, not a solution that can ease human suffering.

      Two weeks ago, Trump’s threat was clear: “If Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States throug [sic] our Southern Border,” he tweeted, “I will be CLOSING…the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week.” His aides said he was deadly serious. Trump’s leading mouthpiece, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, told ABC News that it would take “something dramatic” to stop him from doing it.

      Less than a week later, Trump reversed himself. He suddenly praised Mexico as being “very nice,” claiming that Mexico had changed its policy toward the asylum seekers, which a befuddled Mexican government quickly denied. He retreated by issuing new bluster: “We’re going to give them a one-year warning, and if the drugs don’t stop, or largely stop, we’re going to put tariffs on Mexico and products, in particular cars. And if that doesn’t work, we’re going to close the border. You know I will do it. I don’t play games,” Trump warned, playing games with his threats.

    • Trump Sanctuary City Idea Could Help Migrants Stay in U.S.

      An idea floated by President Donald Trump to send immigrants from the border to “sanctuary cities” to exact revenge on Democratic foes could end up doing the migrants a favor by placing them in locations that make it easier to put down roots and stay in the country.

      The plan would put thousands of immigrants in cities that are not only welcoming to them, but also more likely to rebuff federal officials carrying out deportation orders. Many of these locations have more resources to help immigrants make their legal cases to stay in the United States than smaller cities, with some of the nation’s biggest immigration advocacy groups based in places like San Francisco, New York City and Chicago. The downside for the immigrants would be a high cost of living in the cities.

      The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University announced this week that an analysis found that immigrants in sanctuary cities such as New York and Los Angeles are 20% less likely to be arrested out in the community than in cities without such policies.

    • Immigration and the Shock Doctrine

      If you look back over the Trump administration’s handling of immigration during the past two-and-a-half years, you’ll see a pattern of chronic tension and dysfunction. Like many people, you may have apprehended the pattern as a series of specific emergencies and dramatic events: the declaration of an “invasion” at our borders; the shutdown, or threatened shutdown, of our government or our southern border; the separation of migrant families crossing the border; the forced resignation of government officials unable to fulfill the president’s demands for ever-harsher measures.

      Some of the wild careering of the administration’s behavior can be traced to a particular mix of incompetence, willful ignorance, and toxic narcissism. But a good part of it is explicable if you consider the concept of the “shock doctrine” that author and activist Naomi Klein introduced back in 2007 (The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism). In that book and in subsequent publications, Klein showed how political leaders exploit the disorientation and fear resulting from various kinds of calamities: a sudden economic collapse, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster. Pursuing authoritarian rule, these leaders declare states of emergency and take advantage of the circumstances to ram though measures benefiting economic and political elites.

    • Jordan Peele’s “Us” Is a Middle-Class Guilt Trip

      Imagine at night, seeing a stranger in the shadows. You ask who it is but there’s no answer. They run toward you and press their face on the window. It’s your face but harder, scarred and angry. It is who you would have been if born poor or in a war zone. How would you react if that other “you” came back for the life they should have had?

      In Jordan Peele’s latest film, Us, doppelgängers represent the repressed side of the “American Dream.” Critics have praised Peele for his craftsmanship, Hollywood homages and rich political subtext. What they miss is the film’s conservativism. Us is a Black, middle-class guilt trip, and the catharsis it gives the audience comes at a price. The terror in Us is not the pain of the “American Dream,” but the terror of not maintaining it.

    • What Makes an Immigrant Good?

      To say that debates about US immigration have reached a boiling point seems trite. This is especially true in the wake of political mayhem that has set the country’s atmospheric standard to “boiling.” Despite driving the news cycle, policy debates on immigration rarely move past bids to mask the most flagrant deceits of campaign rhetoric. The current administration’s deception strategies would be farcical if they weren’t so obscene; a barrage of low-budget bigot-porn built around visions of disease-ridden caravans, feral-rapist job thieves, and brown-hued phantoms cloaked in Islamic garb. Such tactics are hardly a recent phenomenon, though, as engineered paranoia has long served as a tool of chicanery to enact power.

      The use of “timely” in connection with a book like “The Good Immigrant” seems equally trite, yet here we are. This new collection of essays, edited and compiled by British writers Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman, responds to some of the more egregious rhetoric currently underway while offering a range of reflections and experiences associated with immigration. Several of the contributors are first-generation immigrants, others are second-generation, others have a status left ambiguous. As such, the collection grants access to a range of perspectives on assimilation, pluralism, appropriation, double-consciousness, and the tactical practice of “Othering” central to nationalist propaganda. While the shadow of British colonialism loomed over the first collection, the follow-up reflects the paradox of the United States’s imperialist inclinations and the way they contradict its mythical calling card as a nation comprised of immigrants.

      Emphasis in this collection, though, is placed on the act of writing as a means to communicate experience as well as a method to reconcile the way such contradictions are internalized. In fact, the collection is framed by essays focusing on just that: writing as a tool by which to repair the kind of identity division that follows immigration.

    • A Progressive U.S. Policy Must Extend Beyond Open Borders

      Two recent articles — by Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times and Khury Petersen-Smith in Foreign Policy In Focus — make the case that U.S. progressives need to embrace open borders as a policy. Petersen-Smith adds that they should support it “without apology.”

      It would certainly seem natural for leftists to support the right to migrate. After all, the socialist movement’s historic slogan has been “Workers of all lands unite,” and its anthem is “The Internationale.” But in the past few years, a number of people on the left have come out against the concept.

      The best-known example is probably Sen. Bernie Sanders. In 2015 he dismissed open borders as “a Koch brothers proposal,” and on April 7 of this year, he said the policy wasn’t “something that we can do at this point.” Last November brought a more systematic “left case against open borders” from Irish writer Angela Nagle. This approach got energetic support from right-wing media — Tucker Carlson and Ann Coulter both weighed in — but post-Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek and some others on the academic left also defended Nagle.

      The argument may seem a little abstract at a time when U.S. borders are extremely restrictive, immigrants face almost daily attacks from the Trump administration, and immigrant rights activists are necessarily more focused on defensive work. But people do have real questions and genuine concerns about calls for open borders. Progressives need to go beyond simple appeals to human rights and get into the details of what the policy would look like in practice.

    • The Workings Of Hate

      Unimaginably, the lows keep going lower. In Texas, Laura Maradiaga-Alvarado, an 11-year-old girl who fled death threats in El Salvador with her terrified family, may now be deported alone thanks to an immigration court’s administrative error, an evil narcissist’s pointless government shutdown, and the prevailing cruelty of his inept regime. Laura, her 15-year-old sister Adamaris, and her mother Dora arrived at the U.S. southern border in October; gang members had begun kidnapping and killing their family members after one relative witnessed a murder and testified in court, and one member of MS-13 had threatened to kill Adamaris and the rest of her family. At the border, they were detained, then released pending hearings on their asylum case; since then, they had attended all 10 of their appointments with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Still, they remained at the mercy of a system in chaos: Jeff Session’s brutal refusal to protect victims of gang or domestic violence along with Trump’s tantrum of a government shutdown has exacerbated a backlog of over 800,000 asylum cases – cases, to be clear, of desperate, voiceless human beings caught and used as pawns of monsters in power.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC “consumer advisory” panel includes ALEC, big foe of municipal broadband

      FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his Consumer Advisory Committee’s new makeup on Wednesday. One new member is Jonathon Hauenschild, director of ALEC’s Task Force on Communications and Technology. He and other Consumer Advisory Committee will serve two-year terms.

      ALEC writes model state laws and urges state legislatures to adopt them, and it has helped convince about 20 states to pass laws that make it difficult or impossible for cities and towns to offer broadband service.

  • DRM

    • Microsoft played key role in stopping “Right to Repair” in Washington

      When something breaks, you fix it. It’s common sense.

      Repair saves consumers money, and it reduces the amount of waste that goes on the scrap heap.

      But when only the manufacturer has the ability to fix our electronics, they can charge whatever they want for repairs. They can also push us into buying a brand new product altogether, adding to our waste problems.

      That’s why WashPIRG has supported “Right to Repair” reforms which prevent manufacturers from monopolizing repairs. Earlier this year, Washington’s Right to Repair bill passed out of committee for the second session in a row with strong bipartisan support. But also for the second year in a row, the bill was put on ice before it went to a full floor vote.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The African single market takes a step forward as the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement becomes a reality

      Gambia paves the way for the entry into force of the largest free trade zone in the world. On 2 April 2019, Gambia became the 22nd country to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (“AfCFTA”) Agreement, which is now poised to enter into force.

      The AfCFTA is a big step towards the dream of economic unity across Africa, and the fact that it has moved towards entry into force in a relatively short time period shows the dynamic of goodwill for such measures across Africa. However, it is just one part of the process. We look briefly below at the process of trade reforms that has now begun with the Treaty (2) as well as the way forward, with the potentially thorny issues of competition, intellectual property and in particular the possibility for investors to enforce their rights under the treaty – which alone has already provoked much discussion – still to be negotiated (3).

      [...]

      As a first step, negotiators still need to agree on three key aspects of the AfCFTA Agreement, namely: (1) the parties’ market access offers (i.e., import tariff commitments) which are expected to be finalised by January 2020 (it is worth noting that the parties have already agreed to liberalise 97% of tariff lines accounting for at least 90% of trade within the AfCFTA); (2) applicable rules of origin (setting out the conditions under which goods can benefit from preferential market access under the AfCFTA Agreement) which are expected to be finalised by June 2019; and (3) the parties’ specific commitments in trade in services (setting out the services sectors that the parties are willing to liberalise) which are expected to be finalised by January 2020.

    • Trademarks

      • USPTO find two male torso-shaped perfume bottles confusingly similar

        The USPTO recently refused registration of the 3D mark filed by Coscentra B.V. shown below left (colour is not claimed as a feature of the mark) for goods ultimately identified as “Perfumery, essential oils, articles for body- and beauty-care, namely, perfumes” in Class 3, based on the existence of a prior registration of the configuration mark shown below on the right hand side (the drawing is lined for the color blue), also for “perfumes” in Class 3. [Case reference: In re Coscentra B.V., Serial No. 79196465 (March 26, 2019) [not precedential] (Opinion by Judge Lorelei Ritchie)].

      • Guitar headstock not distinctive for … guitars, says EUIPO Board of Appeal

        The EUIPO Fourth Board of Appeal recently issued an interesting – yet unsurprising –decision concerning the distinctive character of three-dimensional marks. In particular, the question before the Board was whether the headstock of a guitar could be registered as a figurative mark for guitars.

    • Copyrights

      • Trump’s video tweet using Batman music removed due to copyright

        President Trump has had a video removed from Twitter because it unlawfully used the music from a Batman film.
        The two-minute promotional video for his 2020 campaign used Hans Zimmer’s track Why Do We Fall? from The Dark Knight Rises without requesting copyright from Warner Bros Pictures.
        It was removed on Tuesday evening, hours after the video was posted on Mr Trump’s account.
        Over a million people had already seen the video before it was taken down.
        It opened with images of Democrats including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, followed by text that read: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they call you racist.”

      • Is the EU’s New Copyright Directive Too Complex to Work?

        After two years in the making, the European Parliament on March 26 passed a sweeping copyright directive that could have a major impact on big technology companies. Content platforms like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter would be required to sign licensing agreements with musicians, authors and news publishers before posting their content. Failure to do so would make them legally responsible for copyright infringements by their users — something that they have fought hard against. The EU’s member states have two years to ratify the new directive to make it legally enforceable in their countries.

        The European Parliament has justified the copyright directive on grounds that it would provide “fairer remuneration” to musicians, artists, news publishers and journalists. Critics have said that it would lead to censorship of content dissemination, and that it is an overreach that would in fact end up threatening the livelihoods of exactly the same people it seeks to protect.

      • Bermuda Triangle – Licensing, Filtering and Privileging User-Generated Content Under the New Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market

        The new EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market creates a peculiar triangle of obligations to license, filter and privilege user-generated content (UGC). As it abolishes the traditional safe harbour for hosting in the case of copyrighted content, it may lead to the disappearance of the open, participative internet which EU citizens currently enjoy. To avoid the loss of open, democratic avenues for online content creation, national lawmakers will have to find the right amalgam of licensing and filtering obligations on the one hand, and new use privileges that offer room for user-generated content without prior authorization on the other. Against this background, the analysis sheds light on these regulatory options and their impact on freedom of expression and information in the digital environment.

        It demonstrates that the two options which the Digital Single Market Directive offers to alleviate the burden of strict liability for user-generated content – the licensing approach and the filtering approach – are problematic. The licensing approach imposes the task of clearing rights for the wide variety of UGC in the highly fragmented collective licensing framework in EU Member States. The filtering approach raises the spectre of content censorship following the maxims of cost and efficiency considerations of the content and platform industry. In comparison with these scenarios, the development of a broader use privilege for UGC has the advantage of avoiding an encroachment upon fundamental rights and safeguarding breathing space for open, participative online communication. If it is combined with an obligation to pay equitable remuneration for content remixes and mash-ups that do not fulfil quotation or parody standards, it also has the advantage of generating a revenue stream that benefits not only the creative industry but also individual creators.

        Implementing the new Directive, national lawmakers should thus consider all options: licensing, filtering and privileging UGC. A broadened copyright limitation infrastructure that supports UGC also provides important impulses for the development of filtering technology that follows a reverse logic. Instead of seeking to find protected third party content that renders UGC impermissible, a limitation-based filtering system focuses on creative user input that may justify its online dissemination despite the inclusion of protected third party material.

      • Is this the internet’s ‘climate change’ moment?

        Just over a week ago, an estimated 200,000 people took to Europe’s streets to march for an open internet. Most people demonstrating against the EU’s new copyright directive were young, tech-savvy internet users and creators who have grown up with the internet and are the ones who will build tomorrow’s innovative new business models. Similar to climate change, they demonstrated against decisions they believe would affect their future; and in the case of the Internet, these decisions could jeopardize their ability to participate, create, and build.

        On 26 March, the European Parliament made a clear choice when adopting the new copyright directive: By channeling recent fears about internet disinformation, platform dominance and data misuse, Europe’s policymakers saw content as a battle between the creative and tech industries, not as a fundamental part of user experience. One of the key characteristics of the internet is that anyone can use it — not just to consume content from others, but also to contribute content on existing services, put up a server, and even attach new networks. Article 13 of the European copyright directive will require platforms to use upload filters to filter out copyrighted content. This directive for content and software upload filters doesn’t just increase costs for today’s tech firms, but makes future innovation and competition harder for everyone.

      • Article 13: has the EU killed the open internet?

        The recent vote by the EU Parliament has effectively put an end to the open internet. By a very thin margin, the Parliament voted against any amendments to the proposal, which was a necessary step to fixing or deleting Articles 11 and 13. They have voted to approve the The European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (including both Article 11 and 13) which requires the likes of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to take more responsibility for copyrighted material being shared illegally on their platforms.

        Article 13 is the part of the Directive on Copyright that has most people debating. The article states that “online content sharing service providers and right holders shall cooperate in good faith in order to ensure that unauthorised protected works or other subject matter are not available on their services.”

      • Open letter to Prime Minister of Estonia and Members of Parliament on Internet Upload Filters

        I have personally contacted the permanent representation of Estonia (COREPER) in Brussels, which has confirmed that, despite the newly formed government and parliament, it is not the intention of the Estonian delegation in Council to ask for a removal of the dossier from the A-items list on Monday.

        I am therefore calling on your Government and your newly elected Parliament [2] to ask for a formal delay, and to assess properly the negative economic consequences of this ill-conceived directive, notably for the burgeoning internet economy.

      • Publisher Sues AdBlock Plus For Copyright Infringement

        German publisher Alex Springer is suing the company behind Adblock Plus for copyright infringement. According to the company, which owns Bild and Die Welt, among others, ad blockers endanger digital journalism and “change the programming code of websites.”

      • US Govt and Rightsholders Want WHOIS Data Accessible Again, to Catch Pirates

        Copyright holders and the US Government want ICANN to make domain WHOIS data more accessible again. They say that this information is required to track down online pirates as well as other bad actors. If progress isn’t made soon, US Congress may have to step up and pass legislation to reach the desired effect, they warn.

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