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04.16.19

Links 16/4/2019: CentOS Turns 15, Qt Creator 4.9.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Rapid Progress Of The AV1 Video Format Over The Past Year

    Mozilla presented at the NAB Streaming Summit last week over the state of the royalty-free AV1 video format aiming to compete with H.265/HEVC and succeeding VP9 for open-source use-cases.

    In particular, a lot of AV1 progress was made over the past year compared to when the bitstream wasn’t finalized, poor encoder performance, lack of AV1 support, and slow adoption. 2018 also brought the introduction of the Dav1d AV1 video decoder, more members joining the AOMedia Foundation, and other advancements.

  • Open Source Is Eternal

    The Internet Archive was set up in part to address the problem of older web pages being lost. It aims to take snapshots of the internet as it evolves, to record and store the fleeting moments of our digital culture. Already it preserves billions of web pages that no longer are available, acting as a bulwark against time and forgetting. It’s an incredible, irreplaceable resource, which receives no official funding from governments, so I urge you to donate what you can—you never know when you will need it.

    The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, with its 347 billion web pages already saved, is a marvel. But it’s not perfect. In particular, it does not seem to have any backup copies of my Getting Wired column. No great loss, perhaps, but it is indicative of the partial nature of its holdings. More generally, it raises two important questions. First: who should be preserving our digital heritage? And second: what should be kept? Although some digital artefacts are being preserved in the US, UK and elsewhere, the resources are piecemeal, reactive and generally without any proper strategy for long-term preservation.

  • Some Of The Best Open Source VPN Tools

    With the help of VPN connections, You can establish private connections between two networks or points. VPNs are popular due to it’s security features.

    In this post, We are going to write about the best open source VPN tools.

  • On The Block with Parity’s CEO: Snowden, open-source businesses, and surviving the hack

    “We’re seeing young companies that have found business models on top of open source. They recognize it makes sense to collaborate on the foundational layers that are more infrastructure. And then find your competitive edge on a higher level,” she said. She also seemed to hint at profiting from an on-chain founder’s reward model similar to that of ZCash. “[If] you have a protocol that has some payment value mechanism built into it, it should be possible…to build some reward mechanism so that the open source protocol doesn’t suffer.”

  • Events

    • Two Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 labs at Red Hat Summit 2019: Definitive RHEL Beta, Applications Streams

      We’ve had wonderful participation in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta, and if you participated in it, we hope you found the numerous related articles helpful. But whether or not you’ve tried Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta, if you’re attending Red Hat Summit 2019 next month, here are two hands-on labs you’ll want to participate in.

      The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta lab (with three time slots) will be applicable for nearly everyone and cover topics from AppStreams to yum. The Application Streams lab will be more for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 application development including container development with Podman and Buildah. If you’re not familiar with Application Streams, read Langdon White’s Introducing Application Streams in RHEL 8—he not only wrote the article but is also one of the lab instructors.

    • Sirko Kemter: An Awesome Week

      The best day was by far the wednesday, first I got confirmed that Open Development Cambodia will host the next Translation Sprint and even more they would host us month for month. After a short consultation with the most active translators, we will do starting May bi-monthly Translation Sprints. I had 3 weeks ago a meeting at Open Development Cambodia and they just wanted me to note down what Fedora is and what we doing, just for their sponsors. The meeting took me the whole day, not the meeting itself but getting there was one hour for me without bike and of course one hour back. But now after 6 months searching and dozens of unsuccessful meetings I finished it and the next sprint can happen. I already made all the necessary tickets and after Khmer New Year we will announce it.

    • Hackergram Journey Part 2 – The Conclusion

      As my bags were mostly packed, they just had to be fetched. While Karan did the hotel checkout thing, Sanjay helped me with the luggage and putting it in his car. The journey which lasted about 30-45 minutes was beautiful. Sanjay had Acousic blues which added to the beauty of the place and the ride. While Karan had questions for me as he wanted to know about Javascript, my mind was still unfolding hence decided to stick to the very basics . While I don’t remember if I told him about js-team in Debian, their work on Salsa . For those who don’t know what Salsa is, it is a gitlab instance which Debian uses and also contributes to. I possibly might not have shared the JS-Tutorial although that is more aimed at packaging javascript nodejs modules for Debian. I think Karan was more into upstream development hence told him about some of the web frameworks but obviously not all as still was in recovery mode and then again it is very much a personal choice what tool you choose to express yourself. For e.g. I find wordpress easier to use while there are many people who rave about medium while there are others who use their own very basic static sites using one of the tools mentioned in the list. So it probably is a good idea to just let them be and let them figure out what works for them. I did share that Pune has around 100 or so co-working places and there are some big names like TRIOS and others who are making quite some noise. There has also been quite some noises made about co-living . For Sanjay I did tell him that either Pune or most metros have more or less many places which have open mic nights. Although, the newest-oldest trend has been to open your place. for singers or performers. I had been to places such as these for more than a decade or more but now it’s a bit more formalised rather than something between friends. I shared about balconytv which Sanjay knew about. We also had discussions about Indian blues, melody etc. and time went by. Before we knew it, we were in/near Kathgodam Railway Station.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Peter Bengtsson: Whatsdeployed rewritten in React

        All old URLs will continue to work but now the canonical URL becomes /s/5HY/mozilla-services/tecken, for example. The :org/:repo isn’t really necessary because the server knows exactly what 5HY (in this example means), but it’s nice for the URL bar’s memory.

        Another thing that changed was how it can recognize “bors commits”. When you use bors, you put a bunch of commits into a GitHub Pull Request and then ask the bors bot to merge them into master. Using “bors mode” in Whatsdeployed is optional but we believe it looks a lot more user-friendly. Here is an example of mozilla/normandy with and without bors toggled on and off.

      • Firefox 67 Beta 10 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday April 12th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 67 Beta 10.

        Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: Rok Žerdin, noelonassis, gaby2300, Kamila kamciatek

        From Mozilla Bangladesh Community: Sayed Ibn Masud, Md.Rahimul Islam, Shah Yashfique Bhuian, Maruf Rahman, Niyaz Bin Hashem, Md. Almas Hossain, Ummay hany eiti, Kazi Ashraf Hossain.

      • How you can take control against online tracking

        Picture this. You arrive at a website you’ve never been to before and the site is full of ads for things you’ve already looked at online. It’s not a difficult thing to imagine because it happens every day. It can feel creepy, especially if you don’t understand why you’re seeing those ads. It can be particularly uncomfortable when you start seeing ads that try to shape your political opinions. With elections coming up in the EU, Canada and the US, it’s important to understand how online tracking can influence you.

      • The Bug in Apple’s Latest Marketing Campaign [Ed: Mozilla calls out misleading ads from Apple, which is in NSA PRISM and is spying on people, putting back doors in everything and so on]

        Each iPhone that Apple sells comes with a unique ID (called an “identifier for advertisers” or IDFA), which lets advertisers track the actions users take when they use apps. It’s like a salesperson following you from store to store while you shop and recording each thing you look at. Not very private at all.

        The good news: You can turn this feature off. The bad news: Most people don’t know that feature even exists, let alone that they should turn it off. And we think that they shouldn’t have to.

        That’s why we’re asking Apple to change the unique IDs for each iPhone every month. You would still get relevant ads — but it would be harder for companies to build a profile about you over time.

      • Alex Gibson: My sixth year working at Mozilla

        This week marks my sixth year working at Mozilla! I’ll be honest, this year’s mozillaversary came by so fast I nearly forgot all about writing this blog post. It feels hard to believe that I’ve been working here for a full six years. I’ve guess grown and learned a lot in that time, but it still doesn’t feel like all that long ago when I first joined full time. Years start to blur together. So, what’s happened in this past 12 months?

      • Mozilla VR Blog: Announcing the Hubs Discord Bot

        We’re excited to announce an official Hubs integration with Discord, a platform that provides text and voice chat for communities. In today’s digital world, the ways we stay connected with our friends, family, and co-workers is evolving. Our established social networks span across different platforms, and we believe that shared virtual reality should build on those relationships and that they enhance the way we communicate with the people we care about. Being co-present as avatars in a shared 3D space is a natural progression for the tools we use today, and we’re building on that idea with Hubs to allow you to create private spaces where your conversations, content, and data is protected.

        In recent years, Discord has grown in popularity for communities organized around games and technology, and is the platform we use internally on the Hubs development team for product development discussions. Using Discord as a persistent platform that is open to the public gives us the ability to be open about our ongoing work and initiatives on the Hubs team and integrate the community’s feedback into our product planning and development. If you’re a member of the Discord server for Hubs, you may have already seen the bot in action during our internal testing this month!

      • Pyodide: Bringing the scientific Python stack to the browser

        The impetus for Pyodide came from working on another Mozilla project, Iodide, which we presented in an earlier post. Iodide is a tool for data science experimentation and communication based on state-of-the-art web technologies. Notably, it’s designed to perform data science computation within the browser rather than on a remote kernel.

        Unfortunately, the “language we all have” in the browser, JavaScript, doesn’t have a mature suite of data science libraries, and it’s missing a number of features that are useful for numerical computing, such as operator overloading. We still think it’s worthwhile to work on changing that and moving the JavaScript data science ecosystem forward. In the meantime, we’re also taking a shortcut: we’re meeting data scientists where they are by bringing the popular and mature Python scientific stack to the browser.

      • Brussels Mozilla Mornings: A policy blueprint for internet health

        On 14 May, Mozilla will host the next installment of our Mozilla Mornings series – regular breakfast meetings where we bring together policy experts, policymakers and practitioners for insight and discussion on the latest EU digital policy developments.

        This event will coincide with the launch of the 2019 Mozilla Foundation Internet Health Report. We’re bringing together an expert panel to discuss some of the report’s highlights, and their vision for how the next EU political mandate can enhance internet health in Europe.

      • Google Accused Of Betraying Firefox To Boost Chrome Adoption

        We all know that since Google Chrome came into being, other popular web browsers–Mozilla Firefox being one of them–failed to maintain their position in the market. As a result, today Chrome is the most used web browser. However, it also faces scrutiny for its popularity and the most recent one to do so is an ex-Mozilla employee.

        According to a Twitter thread by Johnathan Nightingale, former general manager and vice president at Mozilla Firefox, Google deliberately sabotaged Mozilla with its “amateur hours” tactics.

      • Mozilla’s Common CA Database (CCADB) promotes Transparency and Collaboration

        The Common CA Database (CCADB) is helping us protect individuals’ security and privacy on the internet and deliver on our commitment to use transparent community-based processes to promote participation, accountability and trust. It is a repository of information about Certificate Authorities (CAs) and their root and subordinate certificates that are used in the web PKI, the publicly-trusted system which underpins secure connections on the web. The Common CA Database (CCADB) paves the way for more efficient and cost-effective management of root stores and helps make the internet safer for everyone. For example, the CCADB automatically detects and alerts root store operators when a root CA has outdated audit statements or a gap between audit periods. This is important, because audit statements provide assurance that a CA is following required procedures so that they do not issue fraudulent certificates.

  • LibreOffice

  • Education

    • Can schools be agile?

      Not surprisingly, a go-to resource I recommend to any school wanting to begin or accelerate this process is The Open Organization by Jim Whitehurst. Not only does the book provide a window into how educators can create more open, inclusive leadership structures—where mutual respect enables nimble decisions to be made per real-time data—but it does so in language easily adaptable to the rather strange lexicon that’s second nature to educators. Open organization thinking provides pragmatic ways any organization can empower members to be more open: sharing ideas and resources, embracing a culture of collaborative participation as a top priority, developing an innovation mindset through rapid prototyping, valuing ideas based on merit rather than the rank of the person proposing them, and building a strong sense of community that’s baked into the organization’s DNA. Such an open organization crowd-sources ideas from both inside and outside its formal structure and creates the type of environment that enables localized, student-centered innovations to thrive.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Open Source vs. Open Core: What’s the Difference? [iophk: "Microsoft contaminating and disrupting whole projects"]

      “Open source is everywhere,” said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. A quick look at the proprietary software vendors of yesteryear drives his point home. Open Source code is not only leveraged by most of them, but they are also large contributors to open source projects. Consider that Cisco, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Pivotal, SAP, SUSE and many others back the Cloud Foundry Foundation. And even though Red Hat is the company everyone points to when they think open source, Microsoft has twice as many employees — 4,550 — who contribute code to open source projects. Amazon, IBM and SAP also land in the top 10.

    • Pengwin: A Linux specifically for Windows Subsystem for Linux [Ed: This isn’t “Linux”, that’s just Windows and Microsoft is hijacking the brand.]
  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Licensing/Legal

    • OSI updates licence categories

      The European Union Public Licence (EUPL) is now listed among “International licenses”, with CeCILL (a licence created in France by the three main public IT research organisations, INRIA, CEA and CNRS) and LiLiQ (a licence created by the State of Quebec – Canada)

  • Programming/Development

    • Mike Driscoll: PyDev of the Week: Pierre Denis

      I’ve a Master in Computer Science from UCL Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, where I reside. I’m working since 20 years as software engineer in [Spacebel](http://www.spacebel.be), a company developing systems for Space. Basically, I like everything creative and elegant. Beside arts, music, literature, I’m looking for this in physics, algorithmic, GUI and mathematics. I love programming, especially in Python.

    • Reinout van Rees: Summaries of the Python meetup in Amsterdam
    • Remove multiple entries of the same command in .bash_history with preserving the chronological order
    • Pattern Matching In Bash
    • Count the number of occurrences of each character and return it as a list of tuples in order of appearance
    • Closer Look at the Double Ratchet
    • Getting started with Mercurial for version control
    • Clang Flips On Modules Support With C++2A Switch

      With modules being an accepted feature for C++20, LLVM’s Clang compiler has now enabled the functionality when tapping the compiler’s experimental support via the -std=c++2a compiler switch.

      The LLVM Clang compiler has offered experimental modules support already but has required the -fmodules-ts compiler switch to enable the functionality. With modules now officially approved for C++20, the functionality will also be available when using the standard -std=c++2a switch.

    • GDA Starts Beta Stage

      GDA 6.0 Beta has been Released. Valgrind tests and memory leak fixes are in progress.

      To reach Beta stage, some providers and tools, like GTK widgets, has been cataloged as experimental and disable by default.

    • GStreamer: GStreamer 1.15.90 pre-release (1.16.0 release candidate 1)

      The GStreamer team is pleased to announce the first release candidate for the upcoming stable 1.16.0 release.

      Check out the draft release notes highlighting all the new features, bugfixes, performance optimizations and other important changes.

      Packagers: please note that quite a few plugins and libraries have moved between modules since 1.14, so please take extra care and make sure inter-module version dependencies are such that users can only upgrade all modules in one go, instead of seeing a mix of 1.15 and 1.14 on their system.

    • GStreamer 1.16 Is Nearly Ready With AV1 For Matroska/MP4 Containers, V4L HEVC
    • GStreamer: Orc 0.4.29 bug-fix release

      The GStreamer team is pleased to announce another maintenance bug-fix release of liborc, the Optimized Inner Loop Runtime Compile

    • What is your biggest work environment distraction?

      The 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Survey results show that more than 40% of respondents say a distracting work environment is the biggest challenge to productivity. What distracts you most in your work environment?

    • More than coders

      Lately, the compiler team has been changing up the way that we work. Our goal is to make it easier for people to track what we are doing and – hopefully – get involved. This is an ongoing effort, but one thing that has become clear immediately is this: the compiler team needs more than coders.

      Traditionally, when we’ve thought about how to “get involved” in the compiler team, we’ve thought about it in terms of writing PRs. But more and more I’m thinking about all the other jobs that go into maintaining the compiler. “What kinds of jobs are these?”, you’re asking.

    • Python for NLP: Introduction to the TextBlob Library
    • Linux C Programming tutorial part 22 – Accessing command line arguments within C program

      In the previous tutorial, we discussed multiple concepts related to pointers in C programming language. One of the concepts we discussed was an array of pointers.

    • PyCharm: Webinar: “Effective Data Science with PyCharm” with Dan Tofan

      Data Science! A huge topic which has swept through all programming languages, especially Python. PyCharm has unique facilities aimed at data science professionals. But if you’re a data scientist, where to start on using PyCharm with it?

    • Linear Regression in Python

      We’re living in the era of large amounts of data, powerful computers, and artificial intelligence. This is just the beginning. Data science and machine learning are driving image recognition, autonomous vehicles development, decisions in the financial and energy sectors, advances in medicine, the rise of social networks, and more. Linear regression is an important part of this.

      Linear regression is one of the fundamental statistical and machine learning techniques. Whether you want to do statistics, machine learning, or scientific computing, there are good chances that you’ll need it. It’s advisable to learn it first and then proceed towards more complex methods.

    • Programming languages: Python developers now outnumber Java ones [Ed: Makes the typical grave error of using a Microsoft site as an indicator of programming and FOSS trends as if coders don't exist unless they give their code to Microsoft]

      Python’s rise among developers around the world has been documented by several well-known programming-language indexes. But UK developer-focused analyst SlashData has now put a figure on the actual number of developers that use the language.

    • C++ Knocks Python From Top Three Popular Programming Languages

      The widely used object-oriented programming language C++ has finally gained back its position in the top three slots for the most popular programming languages ranked by the TIOBE Index.

      It marks the return of C++ after September when Python snatched the third position in the programming languages list. Back then, C++ managed to occupy the fourth slot, Java and C seated at first and second position.

    • Removing Files from Git History

      Today I did run again into an old problem: You need to archive a lot small and large files inside a single Git repository and you have no support for Git LFS available. You did this several year and now you ended up in a state where cloning and working with the repository is unbearable slow.

      What now? Last time I did run into that, I archived the overfull repository to some “rest in peace” space and used git filter-branch to filter out no longer needed and too large objects from a repository copy that then will replace the old one for daily use.

      There are a lot of guides available how to use git filter-branch for that. All variants I ever used were complex to do and did take very long. Especially if you need several tries to get a sane set of stuff you want to remove to gain enough space savings.

    • An important message to people designing testing frameworks!

      Do not, I repeat, NOT make your test framework fail a test run if it writes any text to stderr! No matter how good of on idea you think it is, it’s terrible.

      If you absolutely, positively have to do that, then print the reason for this failure in your output log. If you can’t think of a proper warning message, feel free to copy paste this one…

    • Detecting malaria with deep learning

      There are several methods that can be used for malaria detection and diagnosis. The paper on which our project is based, “Pre-trained convolutional neural networks as feature extractors toward improved Malaria parasite detection in thin blood smear images,” by Rajaraman, et al., introduces some of the methods, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and rapid diagnostic tests (RDT). These two tests are typically used where high-quality microscopy services are not readily available.

      The standard malaria diagnosis is typically based on a blood-smear workflow, according to Carlos Ariza’s article “Malaria Hero: A web app for faster malaria diagnosis,” which I learned about in Adrian Rosebrock’s “Deep learning and medical image analysis with Keras.” I appreciate the authors of these excellent resources for giving me more perspective on malaria prevalence, diagnosis, and treatment.

    • removing array duplicates

      I had an array with some duplicates. I wanted to remove them. I know how to do this, but I searched for solutions anyway to make sure I wasn’t missing some trick. The results were disappointing, very language specific, and rarely discussed run time. And if we’re working with an unsorted array, the provided answers are even worse. Just sort the array first. Well, duh; any problem with unsorted data can be transformed into a problem with sorted data by sorting first. That’s not very interesting, though, and maybe there’s a reason the data is unsorted. Here’s a few solutions I worked through, but no stunning algorithmic breakthroughs.

    • A Rule of Divisibility by 7

      A number m of the form 10x + y is divisible by 7 if and only if x − 2y is divisible by 7. In other words, subtract twice the last digit from the number formed by the remaining digits. Continue to do this until a number known to be divisible or not by 7 is obtained; you can stop when this number has at most 2 digits because you are supposed to know if a number of at most 2 digits is divisible by 7 or not.

      The original number is divisible by 7 if and only if the last number obtained using this procedure is divisible by 7.

    • Debugging Clang AST Matchers

      Last week I flew to Brussels for EuroLLVM followed by Bristol for ACCU.

      At both conferences I presented the work I’ve been doing to make it easier for regular C++ programmers to perform ‘mechanical’ bespoke refactoring using the clang ASTMatchers tooling. Each talk was prepared specifically for the particular audience at that conference, but both were very well received. The features I am working on require changes to the upstream Clang APIs in order to enable modern tooling, so I was traveling to EuroLLVM to try to build some buy-in and desire for those features.

      I previously delivered a talk on the same topic about AST Matchers at code::dive 2018. This week I presented updates to the tools and features that I have worked on during the 6 months since.

      One of the new features I presented is a method of debugging AST Matchers.

    • Introduction to the Python Calendar Module

      Python has an built-in module named Calendar that contains useful classes and functions to support a variety of calendar operations. By default, the Calendar module follows the Gregorian calendar, where Monday is the first day (0) of the week and Sunday is the last day of the week (6).

      In Python, datetime and time modules also provide low-level calendar-related functionalities. In addition to these modules, the Calendar module provides essential functions related to displaying and manipulating calendars.

      To print and manipulate calendars, the Calendar module has 3 important classes: Calendar, TextCalendar, and HTMLCalendar. In this article, we will see how these classes can help implement a variety of calendar related functions.

Leftovers

  • Game Exclusivity Wars Are Upon Us And Valve’s Anti-Review-Bombing Process Is Without A Rip-Cord

    Earlier this year, we wrote about the rather sudden emergence of Epic Games’ entry into the game distribution business. In a move to directly compete with Valve’s Steam, the Epic’s store has been attempting to gobble up AAA titles into a program of limited exclusivity, typically six months. The lure for all this is a split for Epic and the game publisher that is more generous for the latter. Valve, meanwhile, responded to one of the larger stories about a game going Epic exclusive, Metro Exodus, by complaining that it was bad for gamers generally and Steam users specifically. That quite predictably served as a rallying cry for Steam users to go to the store pages for other Deep Silver Metro games and bomb those pages with negative reviews that had nothing to do with those games and everything to do with the exclusivity deal.

    All of which is at odds with Steam’s policies and the platform’s stated goals of preventing review-bombing of this type. But as the exclusivity wars appear to be upon us, with more games jumping on with Epic, it’s becoming clearer that this is probably a purposeful strategy on Valve’s end. The latest example of this is the announcement that the next game in the Borderlands series has signed on with Epic to be exclusive for six months. The backlash on Steam was almost immediate.

  • Massive Fire Engulfs Notre Dame Cathedral, Toppling Spire

    A massive fire engulfed the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of the French capital Monday, toppling its spire and sending thick plumes of smoke high into the blue sky as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below.

    A spokesman said the entire wooden frame of the cathedral would likely come down, and that the vault of the edifice could be threatened too.

    “Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media. The 12th-century cathedral is home to incalculable works of art and is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions.

    The cause of the catastrophic blaze was not known, but French media quoted the Paris fire brigade as saying the fire is “potentially linked” to a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project on the church’s spire and its 250 tons of lead. Paris police said there were no reported deaths.

  • Notre Dame and Lateral Thinking

    France is a country which has spent hundreds of billions of euros on nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction, and hundreds of billions of euros on other military capabilities. France possesses the technological capability to utterly flatten a city the size of Paris in minutes. Yet it does not possess the technological capability to prevent one of its greatest buildings from being destroyed by fire.

    If the many trillions spent all around the world on the research, development and production of instruments of destruction had been devoted to peaceful purposes instead, what new technologies might we have now? It is not a huge step in lateral thinking to imagine that in such a world, more might have been available to save Notre Dame – and Grenfell – than too short ladders and hoses squirting water.

    I posted this simple idea on twitter a couple of hours ago. As with all my twitter posts, right wing trolls came in to dispute my point very quickly. Their posts are worth reading because they so stunningly miss the point. They talk about standard lengths of firefighting ladders and about water pressure. They appear completely unable to even register, let alone extrapolate from, the notion that had the resources mankind has squandered on agents of destruction been better used, we might have different technologies.

  • YouTube’s Bad Anti-Conspiracy Algorithm Links Notre Dame Fire to 9/11 Attacks

    On Monday afternoon, as people around the world started tuning in to YouTube live-streams of a massive fire that’s destroying the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, some viewers noticed something odd. Beneath some of the YouTube videos, the platform inserted an Encyclopedia Britannica link and preview for the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

  • YouTube Flags Notre-Dame Fire as 9/11 Conspiracy, Says System Made ‘Wrong Call’

    YouTube, a division of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, introduced this text box feature last year to combat the spread of conspiracy theories, including those that question the 9/11 attacks. On Monday, YouTube’s software mistakenly labeled the plumes of smoke in Paris as footage from 2001, triggering the panel below the video.

    “We are deeply saddened by the ongoing fire at the Notre-Dame cathedral,” said a YouTube spokesman. “These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call. We are disabling these panels for live streams related to the fire.”

  • YouTube’s New Fact-Check Tool Flagged Notre Dame Fire Coverage And Attached An Article About 9/11

    As the Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames on Monday, YouTube flagged livestreams of the incident as possible sources of misinformation and then started showing people articles about the 9/11 attacks.

    The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but it broke out as the 12th-century cathedral was undergoing a multimillion dollar renovation project. Police in Paris also said no deaths were reported from the site.

  • Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral

    Others packed the banks of the Seine across from the Gothic masterpiece, hoping against hope that some 400 firefighters could prevent further damage. Still others held their heads in their hands, unable to watch.

  • Jane Goodall and Other Environmental Leaders Respond to Notre Dame Fire

    Around 500 firefighters worked to control the blaze. In the end, the church’s structure, including its two towers, was “saved and preserved as a whole,” Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said. No one was killed, though one firefighter was seriously injured. The fire also had a profound emotional impact on those who watched it burn.

    “It is like losing a member of one’s own family,” 45-year-old marketing director Pierre Guillaume Bonnet told The New York Times. “For me there are so many memories tied up in it.”

    As expressions of grief and solidarity poured out from around the world, environmental leaders were among those who responded to the tragedy.

    Primatologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall wrote on her website about how much the cathedral had meant to her. She shared an excerpt from her book Reason for Hope in which she described how visiting the church had helped her through a difficult time in her life.

  • Science

    • Monkeys Genetically Edited to Mimic Human Brain Development

      Rhesus monkeys engineered to express a human gene reportedly show delayed brain development and better short-term memory. Fellow scientists are raising ethical red flags.

    • Welsh and Hawaiian were saved from extinction. Other languages might not be so lucky

      This is already happening across the border in Guangdong province, the region of China where Cantonese (Gwongdungwa) originated. National government policies have been aggressive in pushing Mandarin as the medium of instruction in schools, often at the expense of regional languages and dialects. Television broadcasts and other media have also switched to Mandarin, and most young people in China use Pinyin, a system of inputting Chinese characters based on Mandarin, when they communicate online.

      “What is happening with the renaissance of Welsh is the polar opposite of Cantonese,” said Marco Kwan, founder of Words.hk, a website dedicated to documenting how the city’s language is used in daily life. “To preserve or promote or kill a language is largely dependent on educational policy.”

      While he says many defenders of the language overstate the risk it faces, Kwan is wary of a “top-down aversion to Cantonese.” He says this is largely down to city officials and schools seeking to curry favor with the Chinese government by promoting Mandarin teaching in its stead.

    • This Is How Human Extinction Could Play Out

      In 2015, a study in the Journal of Mathematical Biology pointed out that if the world’s oceans kept warming, by 2100 they might become hot enough to “stop oxygen production by phyto-plankton by disrupting the process of photosynthesis.” Given that two-thirds of the Earth’s oxygen comes from phytoplankton, that would “likely result in the mass mortality of animals and humans.”

    • Concerns rising over global helium shortage

      With just 14 liquid helium plants in the world, those outages are enough to send helium prices skyward.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Pesticide Marketed as Safe for Bees Harms Them in Study

      Bayer, the producer of FPF, says that the compound is safe for bees. Its website states that FPF “targets key damaging pests while helping safeguard beneficial insects.” While that may be the case with FPF alone and at labeled doses, the team’s experiments show that FPF and PRO together increase mortality of both bees residing in the hive and foragers. They also report that the two chemicals together boost the frequency of bees showing abnormal behaviors, such as hyperactivity and a lack of motor coordination.

    • Americans Borrowed $88 Billion to Pay for Health Care Last Year, Survey Finds

      The survey also found that one in four Americans have skipped treatment because of the cost, and that nearly half fear bankruptcy in the event of a health emergency.

    • Medicare for All 64-Year-Olds

      The push for universal Medicare was given new momentum by Bernie Sanders campaign for the 2016 Democratic nomination. While it is still quite far from becoming law in even an optimistic scenario, it is certainly now treated as serious political position. This is probably best demonstrated by the fact that the Medicare for All (M4A) bill put forward by Washington representative Pramila Jayapal has 107 co-sponsors, nearly half of the Democratic caucus in the House.

      As much progress as M4A has made, it will still be a huge lift to get it implemented. A universal Medicare system would mean shifting somewhere around 8 percent of GDP ($1.6 trillion at 2019 levels) from the private system to a government managed system. It would also mean reorganizing the Medicaid program and other government-run health care programs, as well as the Medicare program itself. The current system has large co-pays and many gaps in coverage, such as dental care, that most proponents of M4A would like to fill. It also has a large role for private insurers in the Medicare Advantage program, as well the Part D prescription drug benefit.

      The difficulty of a transition is demonstrated by the fact that there is no agreed upon mechanism for paying for this expansion of Medicare. Instead of a specific financing mechanism, the Jayapal bill features a menu of options. Actual legislation of course requires specific revenue sources, not a menu. The fact, that even the most progressive members of the House could not agree on a financing proposal that they could put their names to, shows the difficulty of the transition.

    • ‘That Backfired’: Watch Bernie Sanders Counter Right-Wing Talking Point, Make Case for Medicare for All on Fox News

      “Millions of people, every single year, lose their health insurance. You know why? They get fired. Or They quit. And they go to another employer,” said the Vermont senator and 2020 presidential contender after Fox moderator Bret Baier suggested 180 million Americans with employer-provided insurance would lose coverage under Medicare for All.

      “Every year, millions of workers wake up in the morning and their employer has changed the insurance that they have,” Sanders added. “So this is not new… Now what we’re talking about actually is stability. That when you have a Medicare for All [program] it is there now and it will be there in the future.”

    • Scared to Death: Immigrants in Need of Health Care Face Perilous Choices
    • Mapping the U.S. Counties Where Traffic Air Pollution Hurts Children the Most

      In the U.S., more than 6 million children had ongoing asthma in 2016. Globally, asthma kills around 1,000 people every day — and its prevalence is rising.

      This condition has a high economic cost. Each year in the U.S., more than $80 billion is lost because of asthma. This is mainly due to premature deaths, medical payments and missed work and school days. The burden is higher for families with asthmatic children, who, on average, spend $1,700 more on health care than families with healthy children.

    • Mentally Ill New Yorkers Seeking Independence Find Safety Net Has Holes, Report Finds

      New York state officials are behind in investigating incidents where mentally ill New Yorkers may have come to harm, according to an independent report filed in Brooklyn federal court this month.

      At issue is the welfare of hundreds of vulnerable people who have moved out of troubled adult group homes and into their own apartments under a federal court order issued by U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis.

      Last December, ProPublica and Frontline identified more than two dozen cases in which former adult home residents struggled without adequate support, living in conditions that were unsafe and inhumane. We exposed six deaths, including a woman who had been strangled in her bathtub and a man who was found naked and dead during a blizzard.

    • As Single-Payer Gains Traction, Industry Launches Attack Ads

      The health care industry spends hundreds of millions lobbying each year. The post-Citizens United political ad frenzy has been extremely profitable for news broadcasters for nearly a decade. So, one can only imagine how much money the major power brokers of the health industry are prepared to spend to stop single-payer from becoming a consensus position among Democrats.

      The U.S. health system works, in that it is doing what it was built to do: create profit for wealthy shareholders. The system works great for wealthy executives and the ownership class but is entirely dysfunctional for the majority of people: It bankrupts and kills the poor while widening profit margins for the wealthy. It is a national embarrassment and a brazen moral abdication of one of the most basic functions a government can serve.

      Most Americans in supporting Medicare for All seem to either know or strongly suspect this to be true. But the industry’s privileged status and hefty profits nevertheless allow it to shape the national debate and politicians in Washington. Our electoral system allows the most powerful industries so much influence that invariably, the people shaping the debate are doing so on behalf of commercial interests — not for patients, taxpayers or citizens.

      This election cycle the hub of the single-payer opposition has come mostly in the form of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), a coalition of nearly every major powerful lobby in the private health industry. Among the powerful entities in the coalition are the largest drug, insurance and hospital lobbies in the country, among many others (all large spending lobbyists in their own right). The coalition has one goal: to prevent support for single-payer from emerging into a consensus position for Democrats, despite being so popular with Democratic voters.

    • Nothing Less Than Improved Medicare for All

      Isn’t this a “radical transformation” of the US healthcare system?

      No. Medicare for All expands the role of public financing in healthcare- 60% of healthcare is already paid for by our taxes. It does so through an existing “single-payer” called the Medicare Trust Fund that already pays virtually every provider in the US but just for seniors. Under Medicare for All it will cover everybody and reimburse providers who remain mostly private. The new financing replaces all premiums, co-pays and deductibles –Medicare for All is the only reform program to do so.

      Besides the government, the primary payers in the current system are the commercial insurance companies, funded by employer contributions, taxes, and individuals (those premiums, co-pays, and deductibles). These insurance companies are “middle men.” For prescription drugs, the insurance companies often pay Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) who set the limits on coverage and pay pharmacies. The Medicare program in part currently uses insurance companies and PBMs. The new Medicare for All will directly pay for prescriptions, services and providers, cutting out all “middle men.”

    • Trump Wants to End Regulation That Cut Mercury Pollution by 81 Percent

      Americans have one day left to tell the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to preserve life-saving pollution standards.

      Last year, the Trump administration proposed a plan to move forward with dismantling safeguards on dangerous mercury and toxic pollution from power plants. Doing so would boost levels of mercury, soot and other hazardous pollution into our nation’s air, water, food and communities. These standards — the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) — were developed in consultation with medical and public health experts in order to keep Americans healthy and safe.

      As a doctor in Pennsylvania, I have seen just how important these standards are. Children are especially vulnerable to mercury’s harmful effects on the brain before birth and during early childhood. Coal-related mercury pollution has so contaminated Pennsylvania’s landscape that the state’s Fish and Boat Commission has advised pregnant women to limit local fish consumption to one meal per week.

      The technology that reduces mercury and hazardous air pollution also cuts pollution from other microscopic soot particles (particulate matter) and lung-tissue-burning ozone. Known as a “co-benefit” to the MATS, this is where these standards save the most lives. Our medical literature is replete with studies showing that cutting these pollutants prevents death, disability, and hospital visits that result from lung disease, asthma, heart attack, stroke and even diabetes.

      These standards are working as intended, keeping families healthy and safe. Before these standards were put in place, mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants was completely unlimited, and accounted for 48 percent of all human-caused mercury pollution, according to a report by Columbia University.

    • Windborne Microplastics Are Everywhere

      The researchers found a daily rate of plastic pollution falling from the sky in the Pyrenees was comparable to the amount raining down on Paris and Dongguan, a large industrial city in China, NPR reported.

      “It was incredible how much microplastic was being deposited,” said Deonie Allen, a researcher at EcoLab in the School of Agricultural and Life Sciences in Toulouse, France, as reported by National Geographic. There were no obvious sources for the microplastics within 60 miles, said Allen, the lead author of the study published Monday in Nature Geoscience.

      The study is the first of its kind to show the how far microplastics can travel on the wind. Scientists had previously thought that atmospheric microplastic pollutants would rise up and settle again near the cities and industrial hubs where they originated.

      The researchers looked at computer models of wind patterns to pinpoint the source of the microplastics, but none was found within a 60-mile radius of the region — which is sparsely populated and without commercial, industrial or large agricultural centers. While scientists know how dust gets blown and travels from the Sahara to Europe, they know very little about how microplastics move.

  • Security

    • ApparitionSec

      Internet Explorer is a series of graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft and included in the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995.

    • Internet Explorer Flaw Lets Hackers Steal Your Files Even If You Don’t Use It

      Internet Explorer was already useless for most of us, but now it is dangerous to have the obsolete browser on your computer. A security researcher, John Page, found a new security flaw in Internet Explorer that allows hackers to steal data.

    • Internet Explorer exploit lets hackers steal your data even if you never use it

      Finally stopped using Internet Explorer? Good! But, now it’s time to completely delete it from your computer, too. Security researcher John Page has discovered a new security flaw that allows hackers to steal Windows users’ data thanks to Internet Explorer. The craziest part: Windows users don’t ever even have to open the now-obsolete web browser for malicious actors to use the exploit. It just needs to exist on their computer.

    • DARPA Making An Anonymous And Hack-Proof Mobile Communication System

      The United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, develops technologies that are deployed by the US army and sometimes the agency makes the technologies available for civilians as well. DARPA is behind many breakthrough technologies, including the internet itself, GPS, Unix, and Tor.

      Now, DARPA is currently working on an anonymous, end-to-end mobile communication system that would be attack-resilient and reside entirely within a contested network environment.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Passwords and Policies | Roadmap to Securing Your Infrastructure
    • FBI now investigating “RobinHood” ransomware attack on Greenville computers [Ed: Microsoft Windows TCO]
    • RobinHood Ransomware Is “Honest” And Promises To “Respect Your Privacy”

      The world of cybersecurity is full of surprises. From using Game of Thrones torrents to exploiting popular porn websites — notorious cybercriminals keep coming up with new ways to cause you harm.

      In a related development, a ransomware called RobinHood is spreading havoc in North Carolina, where the ransomware has crippled most city-owned PCs. The FBI is currently investigating the issue along with local authorities.

    • Adblock Plus filter lists may execute arbitrary code
    • Purism at SCaLE 2019 – Retrospective on Secure PureBoot

      Once again, we were so busy we barely had the time to leave our booth: people were very interested in the Librem 5 devkit hardware, in the latest version of the Librem laptops and PureOS, on having the same apps for the Librem laptops and the Librem 5 phone… so we got to do the full pitch. On a less technical note, our swag was quite a success. People told us they loved our paper notebook and carpenter pencil, and asked questions about the pencils – which, according to Kyle Rankin, Chief Security Officer of Purism, have a section that is “kind of shaped like our logo”, and being carpenter pencils “are designed so you can sharpen them without having to use a proprietary pencil sharpener.” Visitors (and team) loved them for being beautiful, unusual and useful.

    • Hackers could read non-corporate Outlook.com, Hotmail for six months [iophk: "Microsoft Peter soft-pedalling the state of disaster"]

      Late on Friday, some users of Outlook.com/Hotmail/MSN Mail received an email from Microsoft stating that an unauthorized third party had gained limited access to their accounts and was able to read, among other things, the subject lines of emails (but not their bodies or attachments, nor their account passwords), between January 1 and March 28 of this year. Microsoft confirmed this to TechCrunch on Saturday.

      The hackers, however, dispute this characterization. They told Motherboard that they can indeed access email contents and have shown that publication screenshots to prove their point. They also claim that the hack lasted at least six months, doubling the period of vulnerability that Microsoft has claimed. After this pushback, Microsoft responded that around 6 percent of customers affected by the hack had suffered unauthorized access to their emails and that these customers received different breach notifications to make this clear. However, the company is still sticking to its claim that the hack only lasted three months.

      Not in dispute is the broad character of the attack. Both hackers and Microsoft’s breach notifications say that access to customer accounts came through compromise of a support agent’s credentials. With these credentials, the hackers could use Microsoft’s internal customer support portal, which offers support agents some level of access to Outlook.com accounts. The hackers speculated to Motherboard that the compromised account belonged to a highly privileged user and that this may have been what granted them the ability to read mail bodies. The compromised account has subsequently been locked to prevent any further abuse.

    • Three encryption tools for the cloud

      Safeguard your cloud storage with some preemptive file encryption. Here are three open source tools that get the job done in Linux.

      From a security perspective, cloud storage ought never to have happened. The trouble is, it relies on the ability of users to trust the provider, yet often the only assurance available is the provider’s word. However, the convenience of cloud storage is too great for many companies and individuals to avoid it. Fortunately, security can be regained by users storing only encrypted files.

      Numerous tools exist for encrypting in the cloud. Some are proprietary. However, these solutions also require trust — they only shift the trust requirement to a third party, and basic security requires the user to verify security for themselves.

    • Your Favorite Ad Blocker Can Be Exploited To Infect PCs With Malicious Code

      In July 2018, the popular Adblock Plus software released its version 3.2 that brought a new feature called $rewrite. This feature allowed one to change the filter rules and decide which content got blocked and which didn’t. It was said that often there are content elements that are difficult to block. This feature was soon implemented by AdBlock as well as uBlock.

      In a troubling development, it has been revealed that this filter option can be exploited by notorious actors to inject arbitrary code into the web pages. With more than 100 million users of these ad blocking tools, this exploit has great potential to harm the web users.

    • Adblock Plus filter lists may execute arbitrary code in web pages

      A new version of Adblock Plus was released on July 17, 2018. Version 3.2 introduced a new filter option for rewriting requests. A day later AdBlock followed suit and released support for the new filter option. uBlock, being owned by AdBlock, also implemented the feature.

      Under certain conditions the $rewrite filter option enables filter list maintainers to inject arbitrary code in web pages.

      The affected extensions have more than 100 million active users, and the feature is trivial to exploit in order to attack any sufficiently complex web service, including Google services, while attacks are difficult to detect and are deployable in all major browsers.

    • Big Companies Thought Insurance Covered a Cyberattack. They May Be Wrong.

      The disputes ares playing out in court. In a closely watched legal battle, Mondelez sued Zurich Insurance last year for a breach of contract in an Illinois court, and Merck filed a similar suit in New Jersey in August. Merck sued more than 20 insurers that rejected claims related to the NotPetya attack, including several that cited the war exemption. The two cases could take years to resolve.

      The legal fights will set a precedent about who pays when businesses are hit by a cyberattack blamed on a foreign government. The cases have broader implications for government officials, who have increasingly taken a bolder approach to naming-and-shaming state sponsors of cyberattacks, but now risk becoming enmeshed in corporate disputes by giving insurance companies a rationale to deny claims.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘This is insensitive, and it’s offensive’: Democratic and Republican lawmakers who served in Afghanistan condemn Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 comments

      CAIR was founded in 1994, seven years before the 9/11 attacks. A spokesperson for the congresswoman told The Washington Post that Omar misspoke; CAIR doubled in size after the attacks.

    • An American Soldier’s Dissent

      So what should this now-retired Army major make of it all? The inconvenient truth is perhaps very little. It’s unlikely that anything I’ll write will change many minds or affect policy in any way. In the decade following World War I, when Major General Smedley Butler, the most decorated Marine of his time, took up the pen to expose the ills of American-style corporate warfare, he (unlike me) made a true splash. As today, however, the American intervention machine just rolled on. So what chance does a former Army major have of moving the needle on US militarism?

    • At least seven from my university joined IS, says captured fighter

      The BBC’s investigation now exposes the secret funnelling of fighters and funds from the UK to IS in Syria.

    • Feds: Dearborn man was trained by ISIS for 3 years

      As Assistant Attorney General John Demers stated: “The (Dearborn) defendant traveled overseas, joined ISIS, and received training from the terrorist organization. He was ultimately detained overseas and turned over to the FBI. With these charges, he will be held accountable.”

    • The making of an American terrorist: Hoda Muthana joined ISIS. Now she can’t come back

      By November 2018 – more than four years into her time with ISIS – the situation for Muthana in Syria had soured. She contacted Shibly, the Florida-based attorney whose help she had earlier spurned. With the U.S. and its allies in Syria on the verge of reclaiming most of ISIS’ territory, Muthana was looking for a way out.

    • Peace activist or atomic spy? The curious case of a Cold War nuclear scientist

      CNN has reviewed the documents provided by Roff, as well as additional — since declassified — secret surveillance records on Burhop found by CNN in the British and Australian archives. Two independent academics also reviewed the documents on CNN’s request. Their conclusions are presented below.

      [...]

      “He was a man of peace who worked tirelessly towards a nuclear bomb-free world,” the statement said. “(We) would hate to see all that he achieved being hugely diminished by suggestions that he was a spy.”

    • American War Is Off the Charts

      Still, I’d like to explain — but I’m nervous about doing so. I know perfectly well that the next word I plan to write will send most of you tumbling elsewhere in a universe in which “news” is the latest grotesque mass shooting; the craziest tweet from you-know-who; celebrities marching into court over college-admissions scandals; or even a boy, missing for years, who suddenly turns up only to morph into a 23-year-old impostor with a criminal record. How can America’s wars in distant lands compete with that? Which is why I just can’t bring myself to write the next word. So promise me that, after you read it, you’ll hang in there for just a minute and give me a chance to explain.

      Okay, here goes: Somalia.

      A country in the horn of Africa, it once glued American eyeballs, but that was so last century, right? I mean, there was that bestselling book and that hit Hollywood movie directed by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien!) about the disaster early in Bill Clinton’s presidency that came to be known as Black Hawk Down (aka the battle of Mogadishu).

      In the age of Donald Trump, wasn’t that a million presidencies ago? Honestly, can you even tell me anymore what in the world it was all about? I couldn’t have, not without looking it up again. A warlord, starvation, U.S. intervention, 18 dead American soldiers (and hundreds of dead Somalis, but that hardly mattered) in a country that was shattering. President Clinton did, however, pull out those troops and end the disastrous mission — and that was that, right? I mean, lessons learned. Somalia? Africa? What in the world did it all have to do with us? So Washington washed its hands of the whole thing.

      And now, on a planet of outrageous tweets and murderously angry white men, you probably didn’t even notice, but more than two years into the era of Donald Trump, a quarter-century after that incident, American air strikes in… yep, Somalia, are precipitously on the rise. Last year’s 47 strikes, aimed at the leaders and fighters of al-Shabaab, an Islamist terror outfit, more than tripled the ones carried out by the Obama administration in 2016 (themselves a modest increase from previous years). And in 2019, they’re already on pace to double again, while Somali civilians — not that anyone (other than Somali civilians) notices or cares — are dying in significant and rising numbers. And with 500 troops back on the ground there and Pentagon estimates that they will remain for at least another seven years, the U.S. military is increasingly Somalia-bound, Congress hasn’t uttered a peep on the subject, and few in this country are paying the slightest attention.

      So consider this a simple fact of the never-ending Global War on Terror (as it was once called): the U.S. military just can’t get enough of Somalia. And if that isn’t off the charts, what is? Maybe it’s even worth a future book (with a very small print run) called not Black Hawk Down II but U.S. Down Forever and a Day.

    • After Israeli Election, We Need to Think Beyond Two-State Solution

      For at least 20 years, experts on Israel and Palestine have warned that the window of time during which a two-state solution can be realized is closing as a result of changes made on the ground by Israel. Yet this warning is almost always framed within the context of calls for a return to two-state negotiations. What happens if the window of opportunity for two states is closed, however, is never discussed. But after decades of warning, it is time to push that discussion forward.

      In a reality where establishing two states is increasingly unlikely, where non-Jews are dehumanized by the Israeli state and those in power, where the Jewish population of Israel is (or will soon be) a demographic minority in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and where the Israeli state has a monopoly on power, the insistence that only two states can protect the rights of Jewish Israelis is an open door to violence against Palestinians.

    • Russia and NATO have cut off all active collaboration, Russian deputy internal affairs minister says

      In an interview with RIA Novosti, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Alexander Grushko said that all military and civilian collaboration between his government and the NATO alliance have ground to a halt. “NATO itself has refused to adopt a positive agenda for its relationship with Russia. It just doesn’t exist. And so far, there’s no sign that anyone in NATO knows how to get out of this impasse,” Grushko argued.

      The deputy minister noted that current Russian-NATO relations are reminiscent of the state of the Soviet-NATO relationship during the Cold War. He openly expressed hope for a change in that state of affairs but asserted that the responsibility for that change should rest entirely on NATO’s shoulders.

    • The Toxic Lure of “Guns and Butter”

      The current political brawl over next year’s budget is highly significant. With Democrats in a House majority for the first time in eight years, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and most other party leaders continue to support even more largesse for the Pentagon. But many progressive congressmembers are challenging the wisdom of deference to the military-industrial complex—and, so far, they’ve been able to stall the leadership’s bill that includes a $17 billion hike in military spending for 2020.

      An ostensible solution is on the horizon. More funds for domestic programs could be a quid pro quo for the military increases. In other words: more guns and more butter.

      “Guns and butter” is a phrase that gained wide currency during escalation of the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s. Then, as now, many Democrats made political peace with vast increases in military spending on the theory that social programs at home could also gain strength.

      It was a contention that Martin Luther King Jr. emphatically rejected. “When a nation becomes obsessed with the guns of war, social programs must inevitably suffer,” he pointed out. “We can talk about guns and butter all we want to, but when the guns are there with all of its emphasis you don’t even get good oleo [margarine]. These are facts of life.”

      But today many Democrats in Congress evade such facts of life. They want to proceed as though continuing to bestow humongous budgets on the Pentagon is compatible with fortifying the kind of domestic spending that they claim to fervently desire.

    • Terrorist Designations: Trump and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps

      It’s designed to give the US more leg room in the sanction stakes but may end up having its own hemming consequences. The designation by the Trump administration of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organisation was meant to expand options for the US while shutting others out. While Trump attempts to defrost matters with North Korea, Iran has played the convenient bug bear.

      As President Donald Trump outlined in a statement, “This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognises the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”

      The policy had an inevitable resonance in Israel, where it cheered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the Tuesday national poll. Designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guards “as a terrorist organization” kept “the world safe from Iran aggression and terrorism”. Such a consequence may well be wishful thinking. Jacob Heilbrun opines rather pessimistically that such a policy shift is bound to be disruptive; the president “has allowed himself to be captured by a neocon contingent, housed at the Foundation of Defense for Democracies, that is thirsting for a new crusade to vanquish the mullahs in Tehran.”

    • War Crimes and National Security

      How dare she question the sanctity of American militarism?

      As national security adviser John Bolton declared last fall, the International Criminal Court constitutes “an assault on the constitutional rights of the American people and the sovereignty of the United States.”

      That’s you and me that Bolton is speaking about, and the recent revocation of ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s visa — in the wake of her insistence on investigating, among other things, U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan — is just the latest step in the diplomatic war the United States has declared against the court since it was established in 2002.

      The “largely unspoken, but always central, aim” of the International Criminal Court’s “most vigorous supporters was to constrain the United States” Bolton said, whipping up the rhetoric against the very idea of international law and global values. “The objective was not limited to targeting individual U.S. service members, but rather America’s senior political leadership, and its relentless determination to keep our country secure.”

      This is shock-and-awe level rhetoric, words meant to crush all debate, all discussion. American is a free country, man. That’s the highest value on Planet Earth. It has the freedom to wage any war it wants, and every war it wages is absolutely necessary, according to Bolton and the military-industrial machine he represents.

      It seems to me that a more complex set of values used to drive this country’s official rhetoric. In the Trump era, things have gotten increasingly simplistic, as the administration seeks to define the country as complete: no more evolution allowed. The borders are closed . . . to Muslims, Mexicans and International Criminal Court prosecutors.

    • We need to be honest, Pakistan is not an easy country to travel in: travel blogger Alex

      Alex, American traveller behind the travel blog Lost With Purpose, was invited to speak at the Pakistan Tourism Summit last month. However, she says her talk was cancelled last minute as the organisers said it was too critical and didn’t fit the agenda of the summit.

    • Historian Peter Kuznick

      Historian Peter Kuznick returns to the Project Censored Show to discuss the newly released second edition of The Untold History of the United States. The new material covers the period from 2012 through 2018. In the interview on this week’s show, Kuznick addresses issues including nuclear arsenals, climate change, Trump and Russia, and the leadership vacuum in the U.S. and worldwide.

    • Russia to send up to 30 troops to Central African Republic to support UN missions

      Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed an order allowing for “up to 30 military servicemembers” to be deployed to the Central African Republic (CAR) for the purpose of supporting UN peacekeeping missions. The document states that communications officers, staff specialists, and military observers could be among those deployed.

    • Attendees of Secret Meeting for ‘US Military Assault’ on Venezuela Revealed

      The list (in which the meeting is misdated as being on April 20) shows that the event, held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., boasted as attendees members of the State Department, the Colombian and Brazilian embassies, members of the Venezuelan opposition, and other officials in the American national security state.

      The meeting comes after multiple failed attempts to depose the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who was elected in 2018. The President Donald Trump administration has made no secret of their intent to see Maduro gone—but thus far, nothing has worked.

      “The CSIS meeting on ‘Assessing the Use of Military Force in Venezuela,’” wrote Blumenthal, “suggests that the Trump administration is exploring military options more seriously than before, possibly out of frustration with the fact that every other weapon in its arsenal has failed to bring down Maduro.”

      In the article, Blumenthal gave a brief overview of a number of the meeting’s more prominent attendees, including Iran-Contra veteran Roger Noriega and David Smolansky, a Venezuelan national who works with the right wing Organization of American States (OAS), a regional organization for the Americas led in recent years by hardline Venezuela regime change advocates.

      “Few of these figures are well known by the public, yet many have played an influential role in U.S. plans to destabilize Venezuela,” explained Blumenthal.

    • Leaked Docs Show Saudis ‘Overwhelmingly Dependent’ on Western Weapons to Wage War on Yemen

      Leaked documents from France’s military agency “show that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are overwhelmingly dependent on Western-produced weapon systems to wage their devastating war in Yemen,” The Intercept reported Monday.

      The latest evidence of Western complicity in the slaughter comes from a highly classified report by France’s Direction du Renseignement Militaire (DRM), dated Sept. 25, 2018. The report was obtained by the French investigative news organization Disclose, and published in full Monday by The Intercept, Disclose, and four other French media outlets.

    • Defining Endless War Down

      Taking a country to war is the most consequential step political leaders can take. So it would follow that a free press tasked with holding political leaders accountable for such a fateful decision would exercise the utmost scrutiny when it comes to reporting on the costs—both financial and human.

      This necessarily rigorous journalistic oversight should never be satisfied with repeating vague claims of progress or accepting easily contradicted evidence about having achieved peace. Literal human lives, both civilian and military, hang in the balance, and so as a war drags on, it becomes increasingly important for a free press to avoid complacency and ruthlessly interrogate the facts on the ground.

      Tragically, coverage of US military combat in Iraq offers an untold number of examples where the corporate press spectacularly failed to live up to this critical responsibility. Whether it was the unabashed cheerleading that colored much of the reporting during the first Gulf War (Extra!, 4/91) or the credulous parroting of false WMD claims in the lead-up to the 2003 re-invasion—with the New York Times earning special condemnation (FAIR.org, 7/21/16)—the US media has compiled a dreadful record when it comes to Iraq.

    • Exporting Dictators

      The U.S. government gets little credit for it, doesn’t even like to brag about it, but as of 2017 provided military “aid” to 73% of the world’s dictatorships. Ocassionally, the U.S. turns against one of its dictators and chooses that moment to tell everyone about him: Hussein, Noriega, Gadaffi, Assad. Sometimes it loses a dictator for other reasons: the Shah of Iran, Hosni Mubarak.

      Sometimes the U.S. imposes a U.S. dictator on a foreign colony: as historically in the Philippines, or Haiti, Chile, or post-“liberation” Iraq. More often it selects and trains, imposes and props up a dictator from within the population of “natives” or “savages.” And sometimes such a dictator spends many years in the United States preparing and awaiting opportunity.

      When I heard that Juan Guaido, a graduate of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., had proclaimed himself president of Venezuela, I was reminded that his fellow GW (and Harvard and Princeton) graduate Syngman Rhee was flown to South Korea by the United States government and put in charge of the place, and given the power to commit massive atrocities — the greatest of which was pushing the Korean peninsula into war. Does George Washington University recruit students with promises of small distant countries in which to have life-and-death power over the primitives?

      Then Khalifa Haftar hit the news again. This guy lived in Falls Church, Virginia, from around 1990 to 2007, and Vienna, Virginia, until 2011. If you’re not from Fairfax County, Virginia, you should know that you could practically topple over a pyramid of naked Muslim prisoners on the roof of the CIA in Langley, Virginia, and land some of them in Falls Church or Vienna. Haftar was exported to Libya multiple times during those years in failed attempts to take the place over. His latest attempt has been ongoing since the United States exported him in 2011. Maybe there is an area of U.S. exports other than weaponry that is increasing.

    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Declaration Of War’ By Rumours Of War

      Mark Ayling is a singer songwriter, who has worked in a number of projects, produces what he describes as “raw, aggressive, angry, acoustic punk” music. He would not necessarily characterize his work as protest music, but he does believe that punk is about having something to say.

      Rumours Of War is Ayling’s latest project, and the band is based in Scotland. They recently released their “Sloganeering” EP on March 28, 2019.

      The first tune on the EP, “Declaration Of War,” slowly builds as a picture is painted of society, where the rich amass all the food while those in need go hungry. It seems metaphorical because the next line declares, “Power and obsession will scratch your itch, but all the money in the world doesn’t make you rich.”

      The chorus acknowledges the “impotent promises” of elites, who pledge to make citizens’ lives better “from beneath the veil of authoritarian democracy.”

    • Was Ending the Draft a Grave Mistake? No.

      We appreciate Danny Sjursen’s April 3 article “Was Ending the Draft a Grave Mistake?” He raises some key questions that many people have also considered about the draft and about whether or not it is a viable way to curb American militarism and adventurism. Sjursen is an important voice in the small antiwar movement in the U.S. at present, and we are glad to see more public discussion challenging U.S. imperialism. That said, we wanted to pose a few questions and concerns we had with his piece.

      Sjursen argues that “a move toward a no-deferment, equitable lottery draft might result in a nation less prone to militarism and adventurism than the optional AVF [All Volunteer Force] has.” There are quite a few problems with this statement that should be addressed before we start lobbying for more federal power over our lives.

      We agree with Sjursen that the “economic or poverty draft” is still the driving force responsible for the bulk of the recruits for the U.S. military, especially for filling the ranks of the infantry in the Army and the Marines. Yes, regional disparities, as well as the rural/urban divide are notable; yet, aren’t these the same criticisms made of the Vietnam-era draft?

      In his classic history of the Vietnam War, “Working Class War,” historian Christian Appy reviewed a Newsday study of the Long Island, N.Y., community of Massapequa, then home to 27,000 residents. “As a group, the study concluded, “Long Island’s war dead have been overwhelmingly white, working-class men. Their parents were typically blue-collar or clerical workers, mailmen, factory workers, building tradesmen, and so on.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Doctor Who Evaluated Julian Assange Told UN His Confinement Was Torture

      In the Ecuadorian embassy, the “cumulative severity of the pain and suffering inflicted on Mr. Assange—both physical and psychological—is in violation of the 1984 Convention Against Torture,” she wrote.

    • Calling Assange a Narcissist Misses the Point

      “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards,” and “ha, ha, I hit them” say the pilots of a US Apache helicopter in jubilant conversation as they machine-gun Iraqi civilians on the ground in Baghdad on 12 July 2007.

      A wounded man, believed to be the Reuters photographer, 22-year-old Namir Noor-Eldeen, crawls towards a van. “Come on buddy, all you have to do is pick up a weapon,” says one of the helicopter crew, eager to resume the attack. A hellfire missile is fired and a pilot says: “Look at that bitch go!” The photographer and his driver are killed.

      Later the helicopter crew are told over the radio that they have killed 11 Iraqis and a small child has been injured. “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into battle,” comments somebody about the carnage below.

      Except there was no “battle” and all those who died were civilians, though the Pentagon claimed they were gunmen. The trigger-happy pilots had apparently mistaken a camera for a rocket propelled grenade launcher. Journalists in Baghdad, including myself, were from the start sceptical about the official US story because insurgents with weapons in their hands were unlikely to be standing chatting to each other in the street with an American helicopter overhead. As on many similar occasions in Iraq, our doubts were strong but we could not prove that the civilians had not been carrying weapons in the face of categorical denials from the US Department of Defence.

      It was known that a video of the killings taken from the helicopter existed, but the Pentagon refused to release it under the Freedom of Information Act. Plenty of people were being killed all over Iraq at the time and the incident would soon have been forgotten, except by the families of the dead, if a US soldier called Chelsea Manning had not handed over a copy of the official video to WikiLeaks which published it in 2010.

    • First Julian Assange, Then Us

      CH: The arrest of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities embraced by the Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments, in the seizure of Assange, are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by the corporate states and the global ruling elite, will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement. They presage an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with propaganda, trivia and entertainment. The arrest of Assange, I fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives. Under what law did Ecuadorian President, Lenín Moreno, capriciously terminate Julian Assange’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy – diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory – to arrest a nationalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister, Theresa May, order the British police to grab Assange, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did Donald Trump demand the extradition of Assange, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States? Joining me to discuss the arrest and pending extradition of Assange is the Historian, Vijay Prashad. What have we just seen?

      VP: You know it’s a very interesting situation we’re in. You and I have been and reported directly from very ugly situations, and over the course of our careers we’ve tried to tell stories about atrocities, we’ve tried to tell stories about what are tantamount to war crimes – editors don’t believe you — Editors don’t want to publish those stories, the ownership of newspapers and of course televisions, don’t want to run those stories, because they say ‘You don’t have the smoking gun’ ‘You don’t have the evidence’. And what both Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange and the entire team at Wikileaks did when they provided the raw materials of war crimes, was they allowed us to tell the stories that we had seen with our own eyes. And I think that rather than have the conversation about the war crimes, rather than for the Reuters organization for instance, to concentrate on the fact that an employee of Reuters was killed, you know, in cold blood by the United States —

    • The Assange Indictment and Press Freedoms

      The Justice Department hasn’t crossed the line that many feared it would: It hasn’t charged Julian Assange for publishing truthful information about matters of public concern. That kind of prosecution would have been unprecedented in the nation’s history and would have opened the door to criminal investigations of other publishers. Instead, the indictment accuses Assange of having conspired with Chelsea Manning to hack a government database. Hacking government databases isn’t protected by the First Amendment, and it isn’t a legitimate part of investigative journalism.

      But the indictment is troubling nonetheless. It characterizes as “part of” a criminal conspiracy journalistic activities that are not just lawful but essential to press freedom. And there is reason to be concerned that the charge of “Conspiracy to Commit Computer Intrusion” that was unsealed today may not be the Justice Department’s final word on the matter. There are already reports that the government expects to bring additional charges against Assange once his extradition has been completed.

      It’s not clear that the Justice Department will be able to establish a conspiracy to violate the hacking statute, as some have noted. Though Assange allegedly agreed to help Manning crack a password, cracking that password apparently wouldn’t have allowed Manning to access more files than she could already access—only to access the same set of files under a different username. A few years ago, the Obama administration considered filing charges against Assange but ultimately decided not to. From this indictment, we can guess at some of the difficulties that might have led it to abandon the effort.

      If the Justice Department had filed an indictment focused more narrowly on the alleged hacking, none of this would warrant much comment. The Justice Department would present its evidence; Assange would defend himself; and few people would raise concerns about the prosecution’s implications for press freedom. The problem is that the indictment seems to have been drafted not just to justify the prosecution of Assange but to tar legitimate journalistic activities by association with Assange’s alleged crime.

    • On Sky News, an inconvenient fact from Julian Assange’s lawyer collapses the official narrative

      Sweden’s prosecutors dropped their investigation into rape and sexual assault allegations against Assange in May 2017 (note: this does not affirm his guilt or innocence). Former director of public prosecution Marianne Ny said this was because it was “not possible to take any further steps that would move the investigation forward”.

    • Punishing the Past, Impeding the Future: the Arrest of Assange

      I met Assange two years ago at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, and remembering what he had told me during our encounter I think one can understand why he was arrested today. Assange mentioned to me that he was investigating how Google was planning to make use of the immense quantity of information at its disposal. It had to do with, according to Assange, selling to insurance companies and secret services data about the interests, desires, consumption habits, state of health, reading practices…in a nutshell data about the life of millions of individuals in all its aspects.

    • A Land Uncharted: the Persecution of Julian Assange

      The persecution and arrest of Julian Assange is the first and most definitive step toward full blown global fascism. The symbolism of a gravely ill journalist being manhandled by uniformed henchmen is the exact imagery it needed to send a chilling message to whistleblowers and the press. The assault and eventual dismantling of what remains of a free press has always been that first step, and it is what lies on the horizon barring mass dissent. For decades the mainstream media has acquiesced to the demands of the corporate world of high finance that now owns them outright and the military and surveillance state that informs their narrative. To be sure, many of them must be trembling at the events that unfolded in London.

      That so many prominent American liberals are cheering this on is hardly surprising. History is replete with examples of how the privileged bourgeoisie are the first to capitulate to fascism. It happened in the 1930’s in Germany, Spain and Italy. It happened in the 1970’s in Argentina and Chile. It is happening now across the supposedly “democratic” western world. The animus they possess for Assange is not over his personal ethics, politics or affiliations, which are indeed open for criticism and debate. Like any human being, he is flawed. It is rooted in sore feelings over Wikileaks exposure of the machinations of the corrupt Democratic Party and their Wall Street favoured war hawk, Hillary Clinton. None of what Wikileaks revealed was untrue, but they blame the failure of their deeply flawed candidate on it nonetheless. They care little about the war crimes the platform helped expose through the courage of Chelsea Manning or the threat his persecution represents to press freedom itself.

      That the fascist despot Trump has disavowed Wikileaks is hardly surprising either. After all, he may have used the leaks to his benefit, but the man who has relentlessly demonized the press will undoubtedly use this moment to his benefit again. Wikileaks as an organization isn’t perfect and, like any other media outlet, it is not beyond criticism. But nearly every major news outlet has used and published its material, without appreciation or gratitude, because it provided an unprecedented glimpse into the nefarious activities and guiding principles of the ruling elite. The veil had been finally lifted. But with the arrest of Julian Assange this makes all of those news outlets vulnerable to state or corporate repression and censure.

    • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Will No Longer Be Honored at American Natural History Museum

      The American Museum of Natural History will no longer host a gala intended to honor controversial Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose plans to open the Amazon rainforest to industry were seen by many as incompatible with the museum’s mission, Reuters reported Monday.

      The museum faced criticism after it was discovered Bolsonaro would be honored at a Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce gala to present its “Person of the Year” award. The museum said the group had booked it as a venue before Bolsonaro was announced as the award’s recipient.

    • Julian and Martin: Reflections on the Arrest of Assange

      Will someone please explain to me why Martin Luther King, Jr. is considered a hero for violating laws sustaining the system of racial discrimination, while Julian Assange is considered a villain for violating laws sustaining the system of imperial war?

      Democratic Party bigwigs are celebrating the arrest of the Wikileaks founder in London and the request of Donald Trump’s Justice Department for his extradition to the U.S. According to Senators Chuck Schumer, Mark Warner, and Joe Manchin – and, of course, ex-Senator Hilary Clinton – Assange deserves to be punished severely for plotting with Chelsea Manning to obtain and release classified military information, and for allegedly helping the Russians to influence the election of 2016. These are War Democrats, of course, who never met a defense corporation or armed intervention that they didn’t like. One is not surprised to hear them howling for revenge against the “traitor” who revealed American war crimes to the world.

      Democrats calling themselves progressives are more inclined to defend Assange – sort of – on the ground that his imminent prosecution represents an attack on journalistic freedom that may make it difficult for the media to publish classified documents like those contained in the Pentagon Papers. More legalistic progressives aren’t so sure about this, since they consider publishing classified info OK so long as it has been “sanitized” to avoid exposing intelligence agents, but obtaining the info by hacking into a government computer not ok: i.e., a crime.

      What neither camp wants to talk about, however, is whether it’s ok to break securities laws in order to expose the American Empire’s war plans, errors, and misdeeds.

    • The Ordeal of Julian Assange

      The scenes of six Metropolitan police officers dragging Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London as he was clutching a copy of “History of the National Security State” by Gore Vidal have sent shockwaves of horror and an avalanche of condemnation from all around the world.

      Although Lenin Moreno has been working towards expelling Assange from the embassy since at least December 2018, a chain of events in the last several months shows a clear pattern of increasing political instability, revelations of a mass corruption of Moreno’s family, a further turn towards neoliberal economic reforms with the implementation of the IMF deal and the gradual and total embrace and support for the US foreign policy in the region.

      The INA Papers Scandal and growing political instability

      WikiLeaks’s decision to re-publish the details of Moreno’s use of off-shore bank accounts in Panama, infamously titled INA Papers after the name of the shell corporation at the centre of the scandal (INA Investment Corporation) allegedly served as the main cause for his decision to expel the Australian journalist from the embassy. The Ecuadorian Communications Minister Andrés Michelena event went as far as claiming that the INA Papers were a conspiracy plot between Julian Assange, the former president Rafael Correa and the current Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

      The INA Papers scandal has cast a long shadow on Moreno’s regime and its rhetoric of allegedly fighting against institutional corruption. Most notably, the scandal reveals a close associate of Moreno, Xavier Macias, lobbying for the contract of the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric power plant (valued at $2.8 billion) as well as the ZAMORA 3000 MW plant to be awarded Sinohydro, a Chinese state-owned construction company. Additionally, the money route from the Chinese corporation passes through bank accounts in Panama belonging to INA Investment Corporation – a shell company originally founded in Belize (a notable tax haven) by Edwin Moreno Garcés, the brother of the current President. The most crucial pieces of evidence indicate that the INA Investment funds were used for the purchase of a 140 m2apartment in the city of Alicante, Spain, and a number of luxury items for President Moreno and his family in Geneva, Switzerland, during his time as a special envoy on disability rights in the United Nations.

    • First They Came for Assange

      I wanted to meet Assange because of my deep appreciation of the original WikiLeaks concept. As a teenager reading George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, I, too, was troubled by the prospect of a high-tech surveillance state and its likely effect on human relations. Assange’s early writings – particularly his idea of using states’ own technology to create a huge digital mirror that could show everyone what they were up to – filled me with hope that we might collectively defeat Big Brother.

      By the time I met Assange, that early hope had faded. Surrounded by bookcases featuring Ecuadorian literature and government publications, we would sit and chat late into the night. A device on top of a bookshelf emitted mind-numbing white noise to counter listening devices. As time passed, the claustrophobic living room, the badly hidden ceiling-mounted camera pointing at me, the white noise, and the stale air made me want to run out into the street.

      Assange’s detractors have been saying for years that his confinement was self-inflicted: he hid in Ecuador’s embassy because he jumped bail in the United Kingdom to avoid answering sexual assault allegations in Sweden. As a man, I feel I have no right to express an opinion regarding those allegations. Women must be heard when reporting assault. Only the violence that men have inflicted upon women for millennia is viler than the disrespect and denigration to which women are subjected when they speak up.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Taking Nonviolent Action in Defense of Mother Earth

      On February 4 of this year, four farmers and Catholic workers from the Midwest, myself included, attempted to shut off the flow of deadly, poisonous tar sands oil through Minnesota and the treaty territory of several Ojibwe nations. As the “Four Necessity Valve Turners,” we felt compelled to take this necessary, nonviolent action in the face of the imminent threat of the climate crisis – which, according the United Nations’ October 2018 report, requires an immediate response.

      Given the dramatic failure by governmental bodies to adequately respond to this threat, we felt, as people of faith, that we had to act. Our intent was to responsibly call for a “timeout” from the pumping of poison through the heart of Mother Earth.

      Our group – which besides myself includes Brenna Cussen-Anglada, Allyson Polman and Daniel Yildirim – was fully informed of the safest way to proceed with the shutdown process. We put no one in danger. We called Enbridge Energy Corporation (a Canadian company) before attempting to close the valve ourselves, suggesting that they shut off the pressure remotely, which they did. We took responsibility for our action, and waited for the police to arrive. We were charged with a felony and a misdemeanor, and we intend to invoke the necessity defense at our trial.

      Actions such as these – combined with a strong Indigenous-led frontline resistance movement, pushback from the nonprofit environmental movement, and the development of new community-based viable green energy projects – seem to be scaring fossil fuel industries. That’s why they are insisting on harsher criminal charges, prosecution and consequences.

    • Talking Trash: Unfortunate Truths About Recycling

      Americans have come to embrace recycling their trash with an almost religious fervor, but in some sense they are praying to a false god. In the quarter-century over which its acolytes have swelled, recycling has almost come full circle, from near total indifference all the way around to near total impossibility. In between, and especially over the past couple of years, just when many localities had seen the light, their recycling efforts started bogging down. It wasn’t just that China banned imports of raw recyclables from the US in early 2018, although that was a wallop that the industry hasn’t recovered from.

    • Thawing Permafrost Emitting Higher Levels of Potent Greenhouse Gas Than Previously Thought: Study

      That’s according to a study published this month in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. The paper’s findings add even more weight to scientists’ urgent warnings about the mounting threats of permafrost thaw.

      Permafrost is a frozen mix of soil, rocks, and sand that covers about a fourth of the Northern Hemisphere—and is primarily found in the uppermost areas, where temperatures are rising more rapidly than the rest of the world.

      When permafrost melts because of human-caused global warming, it pours greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) into the atmosphere, further heating the planet.

      Nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas nearly 300 times more potent than CO2, stays in the atmosphere for an average of 114 years, per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    • The Last Known Female Yangtze Giant Turtle Has Died — What Happens Next?

      The last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) died over the weekend, pushing the world’s most endangered turtle species one step closer to extinction.

      Known by her keepers at China’s Suzhou Zoo as Xiangxiang, the nine-decade-old turtle died unexpectedly on April 13 after an artificial insemination procedure, the fifth such attempt to help the animal produce offspring with Susu, the zoo’s 110-year-old male. The procedure reportedly went well, and Xiangxiang was in good health before it began, so the cause of her death is not yet known. A necropsy has been planned, and her ovarian tissue has already been collected and saved.

      Her passing leaves the species with just three known individuals: Susu and two wild turtles that each live in separate lakes in Vietnam. The sex of those two wild turtles, one of which was just discovered a year ago, is not yet known.

    • The Right’s New Rallying Cry in Finland: ‘Climate Hysteria’

      And then there was Jussi Halla-aho, the chairman of the Finns Party, in vigorous, passionate dissent. His position is not to deny climate change, but to deny that Finland is obliged to make sacrifices to combat it.

    • How Big Business Is Hedging Against the Apocalypse

      An unsettling fact of Wall Street today is that some of the same people who accurately predicted the housing bubble are now describing another bubble, whose collapse will make the financial crisis of 2008 look mild. Perhaps the most famous is Jeremy Grantham, a founder of the Boston-based asset-management firm G.M.O. and a commander of the British Empire. In 2005, Grantham began to write letters to his investors saying that the housing market appeared overleveraged; in 2007, he warned of “the first truly global bubble.” His latest prediction overshadows the preceding one. We are, he says, in the midst of a historic period of mispricing. Because the global economy depends on hydrocarbons, practically every asset in the world relates in some way to oil and gas. Grantham believes hydrocarbons will be priced, or regulated, into submission. In light of that belief, not only oil companies’ stock but practically everything else on the market looks falsely inflated.

    • The Problem With Putting a Price on the End of the World

      In his speech, Nordhaus explained that people use too much dirty energy because they don’t have to pay the true costs it imposes on the world: pollution-related health problems in the short term and climate change in the long term. Economists refer to these costs as externalities, because they are not naturally part of the market system. “We have a climate problem,” Nordhaus said, “because markets fail, and fail badly, in the energy sector.” The only solution, he argued, was for governments to raise the price of emissions.

    • A Former Oil-Industry Lobbyist Is Now In Charge of America’s Public Lands

      With an intensity of purpose and a deep, unrivaled knowledge of the institution he’s running, Bernhardt will seek to put his stamp on public-lands policy for decades to come. If Zinke used the office for short-term political gain—it was no secret that he saw the post as a stepping-stone to higher office—Bernhardt is playing the long game. “I think the industry and its friend in Bernhardt really sees this as their last big chance to try and lock in a huge amount of federal land before the party’s over,” says Michael Saul, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

    • Oil-eating microbes found in the deepest part of the ocean could help clean up man-made oil spills

      According to a new study published in the journal Microbiome, a group of bacteria trawled from the depths of the Challenger Deep can not only survive its extreme conditions, but also chomp on hydrocarbon molecules found in everyday crude oil and natural gas.

      Oil-eating bacteria like these are also found on the ocean’s surface, and helped degrade much of the oily refuse that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The scientists think these microbial deep ocean oil-eaters can also be used to clean up surface oil spills.

    • The Renegade Nuns Who Took On a Pipeline

      While their case wended its way through the courts, they continued protesting. In July, 2017, they built an open-air chapel on their land, along the proposed route of the pipeline, to block construction. It consisted of an arbor, an altar made of a tree trunk, and a dozen wooden pews, and they named it the Cornfield Chapel. They held morning and evening services there, trudging up to the cornfield with their canes and walkers, sometimes in cold rain or by flashlight. They hoped that, through their services, they would help people understand the religious significance of the environment, and that this, as much as opposing abortion, was a pro-life issue. “People often see pro-life in terms of pro-birth,” Dwyer told me. “But all the elements that go into protecting life—clean water, clean air, good soil—go into protecting the earth.”

    • The Billionaire Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline Is a Little Lonely

      Before Dakota Access, few outside the industry had ever heard of Warren or his company. He seemed to prefer it that way. He could fraternize with blues and folk singers and country rockers who might have been frostier if he’d introduced himself as, say, CEO of ExxonMobil Corp. Indigo Girls, Keb’ Mo’, and Lucinda Williams all recorded songs for Music Road Records, the label Warren founded in 2007, and played at an annual charity shindig at his ranch north of Austin.

      Now Warren is the face of a company famous for a pipeline project that, a sympathetic shareholder says, has become a symbol of “the big, bad energy industry.” The notoriety hasn’t helped as the company tries to build new lines. “People who didn’t know who Energy Transfer was before certainly did after that,” says Tom Seng, assistant professor of energy business at the University of Tulsa and a pipeline industry veteran himself. “So when you’re sitting around at a town hall meeting where representatives of Energy Transfer are coming to talk to you about a proposed project, your hair stands up and you say, ‘Oh my God, it’s those guys!’ ”

    • More States Crack Down on Pipeline Protesters, Including Supporters Who Aren’t Even on the Scene

      Environmental and civil liberties advocates, as well as many Native American tribes, say the bills are an attempt to stifle legitimate protest by creating harsh penalties for minor infractions and by trying to scare off advocacy groups. An organization that holds a nonviolence training, for example, might be targeted under the law if attendees are later part of a protest that ends in a clash with private security forces or police.

      “‘Riot boosting’ is an unusual and new term. You might be asking yourself what that means, and I think protesters will too,” said Vera Eidelman, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who has tracked the bills. “I think it poses a unique threat to speech and appears to be targeted at protests. It uses words like ‘encouraging’ and ‘advising’ that are very broad and refer to a category of protected speech.”

      On Thursday, the ACLU sued South Dakota officials in federal court on behalf of indigenous and environmental groups, arguing that the new law and two related statutes violate the Constitution by suppressing free speech and failing to describe what actions could qualify as violations. In a statement, the group said “such vague and broad language invites arbitrary enforcement, will chill protected speech, and will result in indiscriminate targeting of peaceful organizers.”

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: It’s Time To Confront The Major Factor Fueling Global Migration—Climate Change

      A large portion of the asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. border come from the so-called Northern Triangle of Central American countries—Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—where drought has devastated food and economic security.

      The World Food Programme (WFP) warned in September that poor harvests caused by drought in parts of Central America, including the Northern Triangle, could leave more than 2 million people hungry. Lower than average rainfall in June and July led to significant crop losses, particularly for smaller-scale maize and bean farmers in the so-called Dry Corridor, which runs across Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. As a result, farmers were left with not enough food to sell, meaning families were left with not enough food to eat.

    • If you can’t beat them, eat them: dangerous invasive species on the menu

      A beautiful exotic fish is devastating reef ecosystems off the coast of Florida. Native to the Indo-Pacific, lionfish are prized aquarium pets. But they reproduce rapidly and are voracious, indiscriminate eaters. So when a few ended up in Florida waters, with no natural predators, lionfish quickly took over the reefs.

      Now the lionfish hunt is on.

    • Tick-borne encephalitis-virus found in unpasteurized cow milk in Norway

      TBE-virus has been identified in milk in other European countries, where the consumption of unpasteurized milk has been associated with infection.

      Although the virus is killed during pasteurization in conventional milk production, there are some processes of cheese production in other countries that do not undergo full pasteurization. Incomplete pasteurization may allow the virus to survive in these products as well.

    • Oil-wealthy Norway faces a political crossroads as climate concerns grow

      Thus far, Norway’s parties have held Lofoten exploration at bay by using it as a bargaining chip in political negotiations. But with the sizable Labor Party’s official opposition to exploration, oil companies see almost no future in Lofoten exploration.

    • Scientists are split on whether a virus is killing B.C.’s salmon, but an inside look shows Ottawa chose sides long ago

      The self-described activist has spent decades fighting to expose the risk fish farms pose to the environment. She makes this trip several times a week, dipping a net into the water just outside the pens teeming with farmed salmon, gathering samples of dead tissue.

      Here, farmed fish swim in the same water as wild salmon, and Morton believes the farms are breeding grounds for dangerous pathogens that could be killing marine life.

      “They are viral factories,” she says.

    • 5 Unintentional Ways Humans Are Totally Changing Evolution

      If we’ve proven anything in the last seven nuclear meltdowns, nothing spurs evolution more than a bunch of rude humans wrecking the place up. That’s why some critters have decided to skip the natural struggle altogether, and focus instead on finding ways to make it in the big city. Like …

    • Monday’s papers: Replacing fossil fuels, [...]

      Plants for heating have to be located close to consumers to avoid losses. For this reason, power companies operating in the capital region, Fortum, Vantaan Energia and Helen are implementing projects on the local level.

    • Sweden’s temperature is rising more than TWICE as fast as the global average

      The average temperature in Sweden is rising more than twice as fast as the global average temperature, according to a new report by the country’s national weather agency SMHI.

      Between 1991 and 2018, Sweden’s annual average temperature rose by 1.7C compared to average temperatures in pre-industrial times, which SMHI calculated using data from the years 1861-1890. In the same period the global average temperature only rose by 0.73C.

    • Climate Change Activists Stripped Semi-Naked In British Parliament

      A group of demonstrators with Extinction Rebellion, a campaign that demands that governments “tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency” and reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025, stripped in the House of Parliament’s public gallery, asking for “climate justice now.”

    • A Broken Land: Ecological devastation in the American heartland.

      Range promised people like Haney that fracking would create jobs and swell their bank accounts, bringing economic progress to a region that badly needed it. And for some families, those promises came true. But Haney wasn’t so lucky: She never got her barn, and soon enough, she lost her well water, too. Illness eventually drove her family out of their farmhouse, and they briefly took shelter in a camper. In the winter, Griswold writes, they had to be careful: When the weather got very cold, the sleeping family members could stick to the sides of the camper. The Haneys’ old farmhouse didn’t fare well, either. An unoccupied husk, it became easy prey. Where the land attracted a predatory company, the house attracted those left behind by the shale boom; vandals began to gut it for its pipes.

    • Use less water, like your neighbour down south, Malaysian minister tells citizens

      At the same event, Dr Xavier also said that the Pakatan Harapan government has made other efforts to ensure clean water for the people.

    • After bleaching, Great Barrier Reef corals aren’t bouncing back quickly

      These back-to-back bleaching events had a much larger impact on the coral population than other types of disasters. Two tropical cyclones hit the reefs of Lizard Island in 2014 and 2015, for example, but the number of young recruits stayed strong. Bleaching, however, reduced the number of recruits by over 95 percent.

    • Judge says Trump can’t re-open Arctic waters that Obama closed to drilling

      Gleason wrote on Friday that “Congress’s silence in Section 12(a) as to according the President revocation authority was likely purposeful; had Congress intended to grant the President revocation authority, it could have done so explicitly, as it had previously done in several (but not all) of its previously enacted uplands laws.”

    • The Finns Party Campaigned Against Climate Action. It Came in 2nd.

      A Finnish political party that campaigned against ambitious climate change policies won the second-highest number of seats in parliamentary elections on Sunday, in a vote in which global warming became a polarizing issue.

    • The world’s most sacred river—the Ganges—is also one of its dirtiest

      Low flows not only harm the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers downstream. They also degrade water quality. Sewage is pumped raw into the stream. Levels of fecal coliform bacteria are off the chart. Tests from the Yamuna, a tributary which flows through Delhi, have found 1.1bn such bacteria per 100 millilitres—nearly half a million times the officially recommended limit for bathing. No wonder “Delhi belly” is so prevalent. Victor Mallet describes in “River of Life, River of Death” how the Ganges system appears to be a conduit for bacteria increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

    • Finnish tech enables recycling of black plastic

      The problem is that normal near infrared (NIR) sensors at recycling plants are unable to detect the black pigment, so black plastics usually go unrecycled worldwide and contribute to climate change.

      The new MWIR technology is able to perform this task, said Specim head of applications Katja Lefevre.

    • Restoring forests rules out growing crops

      Nations of the world are committed to restoring forests covering an area the size of India to soak up carbon dioxide and combat climate change. But British scientists have identified a serious flaw in the plan.

      “Two-thirds of the area committed to global reforestation for carbon storage is slated to grow crops,” they write in the journal Nature. “This raises serious concerns.”

      Their argument is simple. To limit global warming to no more than 1.5°C by the end of the century requires both rapid cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use, and investment in efficient ways of removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

      Altogether 43 tropical and subtropical nations have pledged to restore 350 million hectares of forest to remove 42 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere by 2100.

    • Climate Change Parallax

      There exists a very seductive delusion that once we cool (or heat) the planet to the proper temperature that the majority of our ecological ills will be over. This is a dangerous self-dectption. “Climate change” per se is not the problem. Temperature fluctuations (increases) reflect underlying carnage caused to nature by excessive human activity.

      Once “global warming” has been defeated, and temperatures have been restored to “normal” levels, it will be clearly evident that nothing has been solved. Environmental deterioration will continue its ugly descent. Here is a small itemization of conditions that will not be addressed by a “normal climate”:

      + Concrete. The manufacture and overuse of concrete represents perhaps the leading edge of ecological destruction. Endless earth surfaces are being ripped apart and mined to obtain the literal mountains of sand used in concrete manufacture. The manufacture of the cement component is energy intensive and releases voluminous harmful by-products into the air and water. The impervious surfaces created all over the world by indiscriminate use of concrete are entombing the planet in sterile death.

      + Plastic. The ubiquity and environmental chaos of plastic has been endlessly documented and need not be addressed here. The point is that once temperatures (climate change) have been restored, all of the environmental repercussions of plastic will remain behind.

    • Trump, Climate Change and the Parable of the Two Dogs

      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.”

    • Keep Carbon in the Forests

      A new report by Friends of the Clearwater documents that 18,000 Idaho roadless acres and 22,000 roadless acres in Montana were logged while presumably protected under the roadless rule. While commercial logging is illegal, there is a loophole that permits logging for “forest health.”

      However, where the U.S. Forest Service sees a “health” problem, ecologists such as myself see healthy ecosystems. Forest Service policies are dominated by the industrial forestry paradigm that considers anything that kills tree-except chainsaws — as a problem. Wildfire, bark beetles, root rot, disease, drought, and other natural mortality factors are indicative of functioning forest ecosystems.

      Just as wolves or cougars might remove susceptible elk from a herd which in the long run improves the herd’s health; natural tree mortality ultimately creates healthy and resilient forest ecosystems.

    • State of Apocalyptic Nature: A Contract with Gaia

      As for the individual, every one is a son of his time; so philosophy also is its time apprehended in thoughts. It is just as foolish to fancy that any philosophy can transcend its present world, as that an individual could leap out of his time or jump over Rhodes.

      The very fact that something is determined as a limitation implies that the limitation is already transcended. – Hegel

      Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and most recently Rawls have all been exemplary practitioners of contract theory.

      As is well known, all four of these political theorists began with a particular conception of the state of nature or put into other words man’s original existential situation prior to all forms of government or social contract.

      In each case, the state of nature is pre-historical because pre-political.

    • Only Rebellion Will Prevent an Ecological Apocalypse

      Had we put as much effort into preventing environmental catastrophe as we’ve spent on making excuses for inaction, we would have solved it by now. Everywhere I look, I see people engaged in furious attempts to fend off the moral challenge it presents.

      The commonest current excuse is this: “I bet those protesters have phones/go on holiday/wear leather shoes.” In other words, we won’t listen to anyone who is not living naked in a barrel, subsisting only on murky water. Of course, if you are living naked in a barrel we will dismiss you too, because you’re a hippie weirdo. Every messenger, and every message they bear, is disqualified on the grounds of either impurity or purity.

    • ‘Everything Is at Stake’: Global Extinction Rebellion Kicks Off Week of Civil Disobedience to Demand Climate Action

      The Extinction Rebellion movement kicked off a week of marches, demonstrations, and peaceful civil disobedience across the U.S. and around the world on Monday to demand “systemic changes to stop global warming while there’s still time left.”

      [...]

      “Governments have failed us,” Bea Ruiz, national coordinator for Extinction Rebellion U.S., said in a statement. “Those who are most vulnerable and least responsible for this crisis are the ones who are suffering the most. People are dying. Species are disappearing. Everything is at stake.”

      “It’s time to do what’s never been done before in the fight against climate change—a collective and coordinated international rebellion that will continue to escalate until our demands are met,” Ruiz added.

    • Climate Change Emerges as Key Issue in Close Finland Election

      The center left Social Democrats secured a narrow victory Sunday in a Finnish election dominated by the question of climate change.

      In Finland, one-third of which sits above the Arctic Circle, most parties campaigned on taking greater climate action, while the nationalist Finns party argued against climate policy that it said required sacrifices from the populace.

    • Utah’s Coal-ash Pollution: A Toxic Example of a National Problem

      The three smokestacks of PacifiCorp’s coal-fired Hunter Power Plant loom in the skies on a 1,000-acre site just south of Castle Dale, Utah.

      Commissioned in 1978, the Hunter plant burns millions of tons of coal a year and generates more than 1,500 megawatts of electricity for use in nearby communities.

      But it also generates something else: greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants, including coal ash.

      Coal ash, or coal-combustion residuals, is primarily produced from burning coal in power plants. It contains mercury, arsenic and other byproducts that can pollute waterways, drinking water and the air, according to the EPA. These chemicals can cause cancer, developmental disorders and reproductive problems, says Earthjustice, a nonprofit organization that specializes in litigation of environmental issues.

      While some power plants dispose of coal ash in landfills, others discharge it into nearby waterways under the plants’ discharge permits.

      Those discharges add up. According to the first comprehensive national study of coal-ash pollution, 91 percent of all coal plants in the country are contaminating nearby groundwater with toxic pollutants.

    • Last Known Female of Endangered Turtle Species Dies

      The last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) has died, putting the critically endangered species at risk for extinction. There are now only three left in the world.

    • Will American Museum of Natural History Dignify ‘Tropical Trump’?

      The American Museum of Natural History says it is “deeply concerned” about a gala honoring Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro that is scheduled to take place at the museum next month.

    • US Military Base Threatens Biodiversity in Okinawa

      Hidden beneath the aquamarine waters off Cape Henoko in northern Okinawa, Oura Bay teems with life. Orange-spotted filefish dart among reefs of blue coral, fantastic Christmas tree worms and tiny translucent invertebrates called sea squirts nestle in colonies of porites corals and redeye gobies flit among forests of stony coral.

      Hemmed by white sand beaches, Oura Bay is a hotspot of biodiversity, home to more than 5,300 species of corals, fish, invertebrates and Okinawa’s last remaining population of dugong, an endangered manatee-like marine mammal.

      According to a Japanese Ministry of Defense Environmental Impact Assessment, more than 260 endangered species — giant sea cucumbers, snakes and slugs, crabs, sponges and other species still undescribed by science — live in Oura Bay. Surveys document a high level of endemism (species that occur only in a single location), offering the potential for new scientific discoveries.

      But Oura Bay and Henoko are also the site of a new U.S. Marine airbase being built alongside the existing Camp Schwab. For decades, Washington and Tokyo have been planning to close the controversial and dangerous Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the densely populated south of the island and relocate operations to Henoko.

      The Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko, however, has proven to be even more unpopular than the base it’s intended to replace, with a majority of Okinawans consistently rejecting the Henoko plan. Opponents cite noise, danger, and the destruction of fragile marine and terrestrial ecosystems among the chief reasons they are calling for the new base to be built outside Okinawa.

    • Our Zero Emission Future

      Reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century, followed by negative emissions, would likely secure the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5º Celsius relative to Earth’s pre-industrial temperature. Alarmingly, warming has already reached 1.1ºC, and the global temperature is rising around 0.2ºC each decade. That’s why the world must reach net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. The shift toward clean energy would prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths each year from air pollution, and the shift to healthy, environmentally sustainable diets could prevent around ten million deaths per year.

      A low-cost shift to clean energy is now feasible for every region of the world, owing to the plummeting costs of solar and wind power, and breakthroughs in energy storage. The total system costs of renewable energy, including transmission and storage, are now roughly on par with fossil fuels. Yet fossil fuels still get government preferences through subsidies, as a result of incessant lobbying by Big Coal and Big Oil, and the lack of planning for renewable alternatives.

      The key step is a massive increase in power generation from renewables, mainly wind and solar. Some downstream energy uses, such as automobile transport and home heating, will be directly electrified. Other downstream users – in industry, shipping, aviation, and trucking – will rely on clean fuels produced by renewable electricity. Clean (zero-emission) fuels include hydrogen, synthetic liquids, and synthetic methane. At the same time, farms should shift toward plant-based foods.

    • ‘The Time for Excuses Is Over’: Extinction Rebellion Protests Shut Down European Cities

      Activists across Europe blocked off major streets and public areas Monday as they called for immediate action from world leaders to deal with the climate crisis.

      The movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR), is holding protests across the world from April 15 to 22 for an “International Rebellion” against a climate crisis that is escalating rapidly.

      Importantly, XR stresses that it “doesn’t rely on false positivity or hope.”

      A London protester bemoaned the fact that she found it unlikely she’d have children due to the climate crisis.

      “One day I want to have kids,” said the woman protester. “But I don’t think I can. I don’t see a future that’s livable at the moment.”

    • Bill McKibben: Green New Deal Is a Chance to “Remake Not Just a Broken Planet, But a Broken Society”

      President Trump signed two executive orders last week to facilitate the approval of pipeline projects at a federal level, limiting states’ ability to regulate such projects. The move is intended in part to clear the way for permitting on the northeastern Constitution pipeline, which has stalled after New York invoked the Clean Water Act to reject the project on environmental grounds. We speak with Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org and the author of the new book “Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?”

    • “Falter”: In New Book, Bill McKibben Asks If the Human Game Has Begun to Play Itself Out

      Thousands are taking to the streets in London today to demand radical action to combat the climate crisis. Protesters with the group Extinction Rebellion have set up encampments and roadblocks across Central London and say they’ll stay in the streets for at least a week. It’s just the beginning of a series of global actions that will unfold in the coming days, as activists around the world raise the alarm about government inaction in the face of the growing climate catastrophe. The London protests come just days after schoolchildren around the globe left school again on Friday for the weekly “strike for climate” and as the push for the Green New Deal continues to build momentum in the United States. The deal—backed by Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey—seeks to transform the U.S. economy through funding renewable energy while ending U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. We speak with climate activist and journalist Bill McKibben, who has been on the front lines of the fight to save the planet for decades. Thirty years ago, he wrote “The End of Nature,” the first book about climate change for a general audience. He’s just published a new book titled “Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?”

    • China’s $18 Billion Electric Car Bubble Looks Ready to Burst

      Electric vehicles will be the stars of the show when the Auto Shanghai 2019 expo opens Tuesday. China wanted cleaner air, reduced dependence on foreign oil and to be a pacesetter in a growing high-tech industry. So, it invested more than $60 billion in electric vehicles over the last decade and plans to keep that investment going over the next decade, according to Quartz.

    • ‘This Is a Big Deal’: Warren Vows to Ban New Leases for Fossil Fuel Drilling Offshore and on Public Lands

      “It is wrong to prioritize corporate profits over the health and safety of our local communities,” the Massachusetts Democrat wrote on Medium. “That’s why on my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that says no more drilling—a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases, including for drilling offshore and on public lands.”

      “This is a really important stand to take,” 350.org cofounder Bill McKibben tweeted Monday.

      He thanked the senator her new policy proposal, which focuses on “keeping our public lands in public hands, and maintaining and preserving existing lands,” as well as “making our public lands part of the climate solution —not the problem.”

    • 100+ Arrested in London Extinction Rebellion Protests

      The protests were organized by the campaign group Extinction Rebellion, which was established last year in Britain by academics and has become one of the world’s fastest-growing environmental movements.

      Metropolitan Police in London said that by early Tuesday 113 adults had been arrested.

      That number includes three men and two women who were arrested at the UK offices of energy company Royal Dutch Shell on suspicion of criminal damage. Campaigners daubed graffiti and smashed a window at the Shell Centre building.

    • A Path to Democratic Socialism Means a Path To Climate Justice

      While the question of whether we should address capitalism first or climate change first is often posed in sequential terms, it is a false choice—though a compelling one.

      One can cogently argue, as Tobita does, that the timeline to avert the worst of climate chaos is exceedingly short, much shorter than the time it would take to overthrow and replace capitalism. But one can also argue, as Ashley does, that the climate crisis is historically a symptom of capitalism, and that this has intensified since the post-war Great Acceleration of globalized production and consumption. Accordingly, the reasoning goes, we can’t deal with the climate crisis without first dismantling capitalism.

      Both of these sequential framings, however, miss an important truth: The path to democratic socialism and the path to a livable planet are one and the same.

      My argument recognizes what is correct in each of the sequential framings: We need to act as quickly as possible, and we need to target the root causes of climate change. But we can, and should, do both simultaneously.

    • Europe’s new nuclear plants hit more snags

      Two new nuclear plants, one in Finland and the other in France, which for years have been limping towards start-up, have just encountered further problems, with worrying wider implications for the nuclear industry.

      They are two almost completed prototype European Pressurised Water reactors (EPRs), already years late and massively over budget, whose new problems are causing further expensive delays.

      The so-called third generation reactors, of 1,600 megawatts each, are the most powerful in the world and are the flagship project of EDF, the French state energy company. But they are proving extremely difficult to build and far more costly than forecast.

    • Polly Higgins — Meet the Lawyer Taking on Big Oil’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

      Polly Higgins is a woman on the hunt. And you get the sense that, after decades of working towards holding powerful polluters to account, her prey may finally be in sight.

      “When you’re looking at any crime, you’re looking at who are your suspects,” she tells me in a soft Scottish accent that belies the hard truths she regularly delivers. “Within a corporate context, you’re looking at CEOs and directors. Within a state context, it is ministers and Heads of State.”

    • Hague court orders Russia to pay Ukrainian energy company $44 million for lost gas stations in Crimea

      An international arbitration court in The Hague has ordered the Russian government to pay the Ukrainian company Ukrnafta $44.4 million in compensation for seizing 16 of the company’s Crimean gas stations when the peninsula was annexed in 2014.

    • Greens launch 10 priorities to tackle climate change as Greta Thunberg visits the European Parliament

      Today, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist, will address the Environmental Committee of the European Parliament from 14:00 to 15:00.

      Coinciding with this visit, the Green Party of England and Wales MEP for South-West England Molly Scott Cato has helped launch the Greens/EFA 10 priority measures to save the climateincluding measures to finance the transition to a Green economy.

  • Finance

    • He Has Driven for Uber Since 2012. He Makes About $40,000 a Year.

      The Federal Trade Commission found the claims to be false advertising, and the company agreed to a $20 million settlement.

    • Uber, Losing $1.8 Billion a Year, Reveals I.P.O. Filing

      But the prospectus renewed questions about how sustainable Uber’s business actually is. The company said in the filing that it lost $1.8 billion in 2018, excluding certain transactions, on revenue of $11.3 billion. And the prospectus also showed that its rocket-ship trajectory for revenue growth was beginning to slow.

    • The Government is Hard at Work Keeping Tax Preparation Complicated and Expensive

      “Congressional Democrats and Republicans,” reports ProPublica, “are moving to permanently bar the IRS from creating a free electronic tax filing system.”

      Specifically, the House Ways and Means Committee just advanced a bill perversely called the “Taxpayers First Act.” If passed by Congress and signed into law, it would become illegal for the IRS to “compete” with private sector tax preparation services like H&R Block and Intuit (the owners of TurboTax) by allowing taxpayers to skip those middlemen.

      This is actually the status quo, not by law but by agreement between the IRS and the US tax preparation industry, which knocks down billions every year preparing and filing returns. If you want to file directly with the IRS, you have to do it on paper, by snail mail. And the industry spends lots of money lobbying to keep it that way. Hence, the effort to write the deal into law.

      On one hand, given a choice of filing through a private company whose advertised mission is to save me as much money as possible, or through a government agency whose job is to wring as much money out of me as possible, I’ll pick the private company every time.

      On the other hand, the tax preparation industry is a parasite on top of another parasite. The tax system feeds on you. The industry feeds on the tax system.

    • House Democrats Ramp Up Probe of Trump’s Finances With Deutsche Bank Subpoena

      As Common Dreams reported last year, German police raided Deutsche Bank’s Frankfurt headquarters in November in connection with the Panama Papers money laundering investigation. The subpoenas issued by the House committees reportedly pertain to possible money-laundering in Russia and Eastern Europe.

      “The information that could bring down Trump,” wrote John Feffer, director of Foreign Policy In Focus, at Common Dreams last year, “may be somewhere in the Deutsche Bank files. The relevant documents would link the bank’s two most questionable financial activities—lending to Trump and washing Russian money.”

      Democrats vowed to pursue Trump’s financial records after they won control of the House in November, saying they wanted to determine whether Russia may have had leverage over the president via his loans from Deutsche Bank.

      “The potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, said in a statement Monday.

      The subpoenas represent the latest step in Democrats’ effort to get to the bottom of Trump’s financial ties and those of the Trump Organization—from which the president refused to divest when he took office in 2017.

      The House Ways and Means Committee also requested Trump’s personal and business tax returns from his accounting firm, leading the president to tell the company not to comply. The accounting firm, Mazars USA has said it plans “fully comply with its legal obligations” while Deutsche Bank says it is cooperating with the House Committees’ requests.

    • House Democrats subpoena Deutsche Bank as probe of Donald Trump’s finances intensifies

      The House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees have subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, which has long provided loans to President Donald Trump despite “a long history of defaults and bankruptcies,” according to the New York Times.

      During the course of his business career, Trump has reportedly received more than $2 billion in loans from Deutsche Bank. As the president took office, he had more than $300 million in outstanding loans from the financial institution, which was his largest creditor.

      Recent congressional testimony by Michael Cohen, in which the president’s former personal attorney and “fixer” raised allegations of possible financial crimes committed by Trump, has brought the president’s finances under renewed scrutiny. Experts have placed particular focus on Cohen’s statements about how the president allegedly exaggerates the extent of his wealth.

    • End Taxes That Favor The Rich; Confront Inequality And Implement An Ecosocialist Green New Deal

      One area where the two parties of the millionaires and billionaires put in place policies that favor the rich are tax laws. Tax policy has favored the wealthy under both parties, but the Trump-administration has brought this tax corruption to new levels. We need to transform tax policy to build the working class base of the economy, shrink the wealth divide, and confront the climate crisis. An honest analysis of the tax code calls out in stark detail the extreme injustice of the economy in the United States.

      The tax system favors the wealthy as low- and middle-income people are hit the hardest while big business and high-income people are subsidized. The most regressive tax of all is the FICA payroll tax at 15.3 percent for Social Security and Medicare. 15.3 percent includes the employer match. But employers include the tax in their labor budgets and it limits what they can pay their workers. The 12.4 percent Social Security share of FICA is outright regressive because it is capped for high-income earners at $128,400 in 2018.

    • On Tax Day, Still ‘No Evidence’ Trump Tax Cuts Are Trickling Down to Workers

      “It’s Tax Day again, and there’s still no reason to believe the Republicans’ corporate tax cuts are doing anything for working people,” Hunter Blair, a budget researcher with EPI, wrote in an analysis Monday. “With a year’s worth of data in, the story remains the same—there’s no evidence the corporate tax cuts in the TCJA have trickled down to workers.”

      “The TCJA is set to exacerbate decades of rising economic inequality,” said Blair. “The bill blew apart the individual and corporate tax codes with egregious new loopholes tailor made for the rich and big corporations.”

      “And the data offers no reason to think any of this will start trickling down to typical workers,” Blair added.

      Lawrence Mishel, a distinguished fellow at EPI, added in a blog post Monday that the average worker bonus in 2018 “was just $0.01 higher than in 2017.”

      “This is not what the tax cutters promised, or bragged about soon after the tax bill passed,” wrote Mishel. “They claimed that their bill would raise the wages of rank-and-file workers, with congressional Republicans and members of the Trump administration promising raises of many thousands of dollars within 10 years.”

    • Who Really Got a Tax Cut This Year? Corporations and the Wealthy.

      Tax Day is here. What’s in your return?
      According to a new poll, only 17 percent of Americans say they’re paying less in taxes this year, despite the GOP’s promises that the huge tax cuts they passed were for the middle class. Tax returns due April 15 are the first to be filed under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which passed Congress and was signed by President Trump about 16 months ago.
      It was their signature achievement, a tax cut package costing nearly $2 trillion that was supposed to rev up the economy, produce jobs and investment, and give every family a $4,000 raise.
      It hasn’t worked out that way. In fact, multiple polls show that a plurality of voters opposed the tax law from the beginning — and still do. In fact, nearly two-thirds now favor its outright repeal. Those same polls show that the public strongly believes our tax system favors the wealthy and big corporations, who aren’t paying their fair share.
      How did a major tax cut plan that promised happy-days-are-here-again prosperity for most working families fall so flat with taxpayers?
      Because most of us aren’t seeing benefits from the tax cuts in our paychecks or tax returns. But we’re seeing the real results in newspaper headlines.
      Big, profitable corporations like Amazon and Netflix pay $0 in federal income taxes, or even get refunds. J.P. Morgan Chase, the biggest bank in the country, brags to its investors that the tax cuts fattened its bottom line by $3.7 billion — on top of the $29 billion it would’ve made even without the tax cuts. Drug companies save billions from the tax cuts, while the prices they charge for lifesaving medicines continue to rise.

    • Threatening the Chair of the Fed Is No Way to Lower Interest Rates

      Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the Federal Reserve Board for raising interest rates. He has a point; the Federal Reserve Board has raised interest rates more than was necessary to combat any potential threats from inflation. However, the way Trump makes his point, which has included berating the Fed, threatening to fire the chair (he doesn’t have the authority), and nominating two blatantly unqualified people as Fed governors, is not an effective route to lower interest rates.

      Although it gets little attention from the general public, the Federal Reserve Board is an incredibly important institution. The Fed largely controls interest rates, and through this mechanism it can determine how many people in the United States have jobs.

      Most immediately, the Fed sets the overnight interest rate that banks pay to borrow reserves. This rate matters because its current level and future direction determines the interest rate that people pay on car loans, credit cards, student debt, and home mortgages. When these rates are low, they encourage borrowing and spending; when rates are high, they provide a disincentive to spend.

      While the Fed cannot always encourage as much spending as it might like when the economy is weak, there is little doubt that it can slow the economy by raising rates. Higher rates will discourage people from buying cars and houses, thereby slowing growth and reducing the number of jobs in the economy.

    • How Progressives Can Fix the Progressive Income Tax

      This year on Tax Day, for the first time in decades, America’s wealthiest have some genuine reason to worry: The bargain-basement tax rates they’ve enjoyed for over a generation may be on the way out.

      That prospect would have seemed ridiculously remote just a year ago. The recently passed GOP tax cut had knocked the top tax rate on personal income down to 37 percent, and new loopholes knocked the actual rate the rich paid considerably lower.

    • Many People are Too Broke for Bankruptcy. A New Report Suggests Some Fixes.

      It’s tax season. That also means it’s bankruptcy season. Every year, bankruptcy filings peak in March and stay elevated in April, as people use their precious tax refunds to finally purchase the thing they couldn’t afford before: bankruptcy.

      All sorts of bad things happen when bankruptcy is out of reach for people, as we showed in a series of stories. People turn to unscrupulous operators who file phony bankruptcy cases, as happens often in Los Angeles. Particularly in the South, they turn to a form of bankruptcy that features a payment plan and that often ends in failure, leaving debtors worse off than when they filed. (African Americans are especially prone to that problem.) And finally, many people don’t file at all — and just hope that a debt collector doesn’t seize their wages.

      In a report issued Thursday, the American Bankruptcy Institute, which counts 13,000 judges, attorneys and other professionals among its members, offered a range of fixes for the bankruptcy system. Chief among them were suggestions on how Congress could change the law to make bankruptcy more accessible.

    • Report Offers 10 ‘Broad and Targeted’ Solutions to Racial Wealth Inequality in US

      Ten Solutions to Bridge the Racial Wealth Divide was released Tuesday by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, along with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

      The report provides an analysis of the ethnic and racial backgrounds of people most impacted by wealth inequality in the U.S. and proposes a set of 10 programs to reverse the trend.

    • San Francisco Housing Prices Are Set Based on What Rich Techies Can Pay

      Curtis and Riley with the help of Riley’s Artificial Intelligence watch, Olive, meet with condo developer Sumir who tells them how development works.

    • The 12 Biggest Myths about Raising Taxes on the Rich

      Some politicians are calling for higher taxes on the rich. Naturally, these proposals have unleashed a torrent of opposition – mostly from…the rich.

    • The French (Bread) Connection in a Bourgeois California Town

      Bread has a bad rap these day and righty so. Not all of it, but way too much of it tastes like cardboard and has little if any nutritional value. That’s true in the U.S. and also in France, the birthplace of the boulangerie, where real bread is now largely a thing of the past. The French also over eat and suffer from diabetes, just like Americans, and like people all over the world who are poisoning themselves to death with chemicals and junk food that’s manufactured by giant corporations such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Tyson. Activists are pushing back and so are small health-conscious entrepreneurs.

      A loaf of white bread costs the equivalent of about $2 in Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux, and doesn’t taste remotely like bread. No wonder the French are indignant, engagée and protesting in the streets, as they’ve done for the past year or so. Giving them cake to eat won’t solve social problems and food issues.

      A baguette costs a bit more than $2 in Sonoma County, California where no one lives by bread alone—not even the homeless—but where it’s still possible to purchase a real baguette that tastes the way a baguette is supposed to taste. Real baguettes and fougasse, which is similar to Italian focaccia, are available at Goguette, where elegance marries practicality. The boulangerie, which is near downtown, is owned and operated by Najine Shariat and Nas Salamati, who explains that, “The best breads in France today are in the villages, not in the big cities.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Pepsi Plans to Project a Giant Ad in the Night Sky Using Cubesats

      “We are ruled by brands and events,” project leader Vlad Sitnikov told Futurism at the time. “The Super Bowl, Coca Cola, Brexit, the Olympics, Mercedes, FIFA, Supreme and the Mexican wall. The economy is the blood system of society. Entertainment and advertising are at its heart.”

      The idea prompted strong backlash among Futurism readers, who objected to the idea of invading the nighttime sky with ads.

    • Pepsi plans to use cubesats to display ads in the night sky

      Pepsi has announced plans to contract with the Russian space startup Startrocket to project massive “artificial constellations” spelling out ads for a “nonalcoholic energy beverage” in the night sky; Startrocket is planning to launch a cluster of cubesats with reflective mylar sails in 2021.

    • Trump Building Up a Campaign Cash Advantage

      President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is set to report that it raised more than $30 million in the first quarter of 2019, edging out his top two Democratic rivals combined, according to figures it provided to The Associated Press.

      The haul brings the campaign’s cash on hand to $40.8 million, an unprecedented war chest for an incumbent president this early in a campaign.

      The Trump campaign said nearly 99% of its donations were of $200 or less, with an average donation of $34.26.

      Trump’s fundraising ability was matched by the Republican National Committee, which brought in $45.8 million in the first quarter — its best non-election year total. Combined, the pro-Trump effort is reporting $82 million in the bank, with $40.8 million belonging to the campaign alone.

    • Bernie Barnstorms the Midwest

      More than 1,000 chilly Wisconsinites stood in the wind at James Madison Park on the shores of Lake Mendota in Madison, to hear Bernie Sanders speak late in the afternoon on Friday, April 12.

      As the state flag, the American flag, and an Earth flag snapped in a stiff breeze, and a youngish crowd of Bernie supporters rubbed their hands and stamped their feet to keep warm, James Alexander, a cook and union organizer, explained that kitchen staff simply can’t get affordable health insurance.

      “Now imagine if we organized the country,” he said. “We can win Medicare for all . . . I need health care. I need President Bernie Sanders.”

      Medicare for all, which Sanders proposed before it became a rallying cry for other Democrats, was a big hit with the crowd, judging by the banners, T-shirts, and even a yarmulke touting the idea.

      There was also a strong labor theme to the event. Sara Trongone, the co-president of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Teaching Assistants Association, introduced Sanders, emphasizing how union-busting in Wisconsin and across the country contributed to the erosion of the middle class.

      “Thank you for coming out on this warm, sunny, beautiful afternoon,” Sanders joked when he walked up to the podium.

    • For First Time, Major National Poll Shows Bernie Sanders at Top of 2020 Democratic Pack

      A national poll released Monday showed Bernie Sanders leading the 2020 Democratic presidential field.

      The new Emerson survey marks the first time the Vermont senator has come out ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden in a major survey.

      Emerson’s poll put Sanders in first place with 29 percent support, Biden in second with 24 percent, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in third with nine percent.

      Biden is expected to officially declare his candidacy later this month. Buttigieg launched his presidential campaign on Sunday.

      According to Real Clear Politics, Biden led every 2020 Democratic primary survey going back to October by an average of nine percent.

      “Biden has seen his support drop,” Spencer Kimball, director of Emerson Polling, said in a statement. “In February, he led Sanders 27 percent to 17 percent, and in March the two were tied at 26 percent. Now, Sanders has a 5 point lead, 29 percent to 24 percent.”

    • Pelosi: AOC Wing of Party Is ‘Like Five People,’ Dems Need to ‘Hold the Center’

      House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed the left wing of her Democratic Party on Sunday, saying the number of outspoken progressives in Congress is “like five people.”

      Speaking to CBS’s “60 Minutes,” the California Democrat said the group aligned with freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez needs to learn to toe the party’s center line.

      “Over here on the left flank are these self-described socialists, on the right, these moderates,” said correspondent Lesley Stahl. “And you yourself said that you’re the only one who can unify everybody. And the question is can you?”

      “By and large, whatever orientation they came to Congress with, they know that we have to hold the center,” said Pelosi. “We have to go down the mainstream.”

      Stahl pointed out that Ocasio-Cortez and her allies are a viable wing of the party, but Pelosi appeared to minimize their influence.

    • AOC Smashes The Overton Window

      Hillary Clinton, with her focus group-tested moderation, may have failed to break the glass ceiling. But Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with her fearlessness, outspokenness, and mastery of social media has broken another piece of metaphorical glass – The Overton Window -and transformed the terms of acceptable political debate more than any Democratic political figure in recent history.

      Regardless of whether or not AOC moves on to a higher office, or is even reelected to her House seat in 2020, she may already be one of the most impactful Democratic office holders in recent memory.

    • Justice Department Expects to Release Redacted Mueller Report Thursday

      The Justice Department expects to make a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump-Russia investigation public Thursday morning, a spokeswoman said Monday.

      The redacted report would be sent to Congress and also made available to the public, Kerri Kupec said.

      Special counsel Robert Mueller officially concluded his investigation late last month and submitted a nearly 400-page confidential report to Attorney General William Barr. The attorney general then sent Congress a four-page letter that detailed Mueller’s “principal conclusions.”

    • Down the Rabbit Hole—Leary as Fiction

      1962 was a year on the cusp. John F. Kennedy and his promise of a United States leading the world into a future of liberty and justice for all guided the liberal masses in the Midwest, California and Harvard Square

    • Why the US Elected a Despot, and Why It’s Poised To Do It Again

      There’s an emerging conventional wisdom that says the way for Democrats to win in 2020 is to move to the center and pick up some of those centrist votes. This is the perspective being pushed by the neoliberal establishment, the mainstream media, and the bulk of the paid political pundits.

      There are two things wrong with this.

      First, there is no center, or to be more precise, it’s miniscule. Too many pundits confuse independents with centrists, when fact, the vast majority of them lean one way or another.

      If you add up left leaning Independents and Democrats they equal about 48 percent of the electorate, while right leaning Independents and Republicans add up to 39 percent of the electorate. Real centrists comprise only about 7 percent.

    • Group of Centrist Democrats Undermine Federal $15 Minimum Wage Bill

      A group of Democrats plans to severely weaken a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by the year 2024.

      The lawmakers proposed an alternative piece of legislation that would regionalize a wage increase, establishing a minimum wage floor that would vary by area.

      In January, the Raise the Wage Act was introduced in the Senate by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and in the House by Representative Bobby Scott (D-Va.).

      The bill goes beyond raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 to connect future minimum wage changes to median wage growth, ensuring that the minimum wage will rise if middle-class salaries grow. The legislation would also eradicate the sub-minimum wages often paid to tipped workers and employees with disabilities.

      The Raise the Wage Act was introduced with 31 cosponsors in the Senate and 181 in the House, including a number of moderate Democrats. Its first hearing was held in front of the House Committee on Education and Labor in February.

      It is supported by a number of Democratic presidential candidates besides Bernie Sanders, including Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. A recent survey sponsored by the National Employment Law Project showed there is vast support in 2020 battleground districts for a federal $15 minimum wage.

    • How Bernie Sanders’ Position On Filibuster Is Needlessly Complicated

      Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) responded to blowback following his defense of the filibuster. He called for the return of the “talking filibuster” and suggested his administration would rely on the vice president to ensure his agenda passed under budget reconciliation.

      But a “talking filibuster” would not end obstructions and allow more policymaking. Effectively, it would allow more senators to hold the floor for hours, possibly even while they piss themselves or come close to their legs collapsing, as they perform on C-SPAN for their constituents.

    • Justice Department will release special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to the public this Thursday

      Attorney General William Barr will release a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report of his nearly two-year investigation into President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and foreign election interference Thursday morning, a Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed.

      The report will be released to both Congress and the public, the spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, said. Thursday’s release will mark the first step in what promises to be a lengthy battle with Democratic lawmakers over how much of the report they are allowed to see.

      Barr will send the report after lawyers from the Justice Department and the office of the special counsel finish redacting portions of the roughly 400-page document. Barr, appearing before a congressional panel last week, identified four areas of information that would be redacted: grand jury information, information that would reveal intelligence sources and methods, information that could interfere with ongoing prosecution and information that implicates the privacy of “peripheral players.”

      Barr said in a letter to lawmakers last month that the report “sets forth the special counsel’s findings, his analysis and the reasons for his conclusions” in Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and whether Trump had illegally obstructed the inquiry. “Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own,” Barr said of the report.

    • Weld Says He Is Seeking GOP Nomination for President in 2020

      Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld says he is seeking the Republican nomination against President Donald Trump in 2020.

      Weld said Monday in announcing his candidacy that “it is time to return to the principles of Lincoln — equality, dignity and opportunity for all.” He said, in his words, “There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight.”

    • Bernie Sanders Removes the Gloves

      On Saturday, the Center for American Progress (CAP), one of the country’s leading liberal think tanks, received a letter from the current favorite for the Democratic nomination in 2020. “Dear members of the Board,” it began. “I write to express my deep concern and disappointment with the role that the Center for American Progress and its affiliated Action Fund arm are playing in the critical mission to defeat Donald Trump.”

      The letter’s author was none other than Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who blistered CAP’s affiliate site ThinkProgress for a recent op-ed that disparaged his physical appearance, as well as a separate video that suggested that his calls for economic redistribution were fundamentally hypocritical—this because his book royalties have made him a millionaire. Sanders also took aim at the organization’s president, Neera Tanden, for preaching solidarity while “belittling progressive ideas,” openly speculating that “corporate money … is inordinately and inappropriately influencing the role [CAP] is playing in the progressive movement.”

    • Nancy Pelosi Doesn’t Understand the Direction of Her Own Party

      Voters in New York and Michigan knew Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib were democratic socialists when they sent them to Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. So did the people who helped Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who calls himself a democratic socialist, become the “fundraising front-runner” of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, as CNN reported Sunday, having raised $18.2 million in the first 41 days of his campaign.

      According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., however, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Sanders and other members of the progressive wing of Congress represent “like, five people,” she said in a “60 Minutes” interview Sunday. When asked by CNN for a response, Ocasio-Cortez’s office declined to comment.

      Pelosi also told interviewer Lesley Stahl that “I do reject socialism as an economic system. If people have that view, that’s their view. That is not the view of the Democratic Party.”

      Democratic presidential candidates like former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, and Kamala Harris, D-Calif, and Cory Booker, D-N.J., may not call themselves socialists or have a membership in the Democratic Socialists of America—the organization that helped send Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez to Congress, and others to state legislatures across the country—but many of them have supported policies associated with it, including Medicare-for-all. The elected officials among them have even co-sponsored legislation hoping to make the health care proposal a reality.

    • Turning Trump’s Favorite Cause Into a Big Liability

      California Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a politician barely known outside his state, is waging an effective but largely unnoticed fight against headline-grabbing President Donald Trump.

      Their battlefield is immigration. Trump now is using the issue to bring out his prejudiced, white older base to win the 2020 election, and it’s a tactic he has exploited since he first became a candidate.

      “Our area is full, the sector is full. Can’t take you anymore. I’m sorry,” Trump said during a roundtable on the border at the U.S. Border Patrol station in Calexico, Calif., on April 5. “So turn around. That’s the way it is.” A day later, at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Las Vegas, he described asylum for immigrants as “a scam” and said those applying are “some of the roughest people you’ve ever seen.”

    • As Sanders 2020 Campaign Gains Steam, Corporate Democrats Reportedly ‘Growing Increasingly Nervous’

      Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign is rapidly gaining momentum early in the primary fight, and corporate Democrats are reportedly starting to get nervous.

      The New York Times reported Tuesday that political operative David Brock has discussed launching “an anti-Sanders campaign” with other Democratic strategists and “believes it should commence ‘sooner rather than later.’”

      “[T]he Bernie question comes up in every fundraising meeting I do,” Brock said.

      In a fundraising letter sent shortly after the Times article was published, Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir said the corporate forces working to stop the Vermont senator from becoming the Democratic nominee “don’t just hate Bernie Sanders.”

      “They hate everything our political revolution embodies,” wrote Shakir. “They hate Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, breaking up big banks, free public college for all.”

    • Looking Back at 1919

      Reading about immigration policy, religious and racial bigotry, and terrorism fears in America in 1919 offers an eerie sense of decades melting away and past and present blurring together.

      The blend isn’t exact. Bigotry was expressed much more explicitly a century ago, not in code as it usually is now. Jim Crow laws in the South and other forms of racial segregation in the rest of the country were seen by most white Americans as the normal state of affairs. In the national debate on immigration, the most inflammatory rhetoric was largely aimed at immigrants from Asia, not Latin America or the Middle East; Slavs, southern Europeans, and Jews from Eastern Europe also faced widespread hostility. Religious prejudice was typically directed at Jews and Catholics, not Muslims. Yet despite those differences, many of the underlying attitudes and the tone of the immigration argument 100 years ago were strikingly similar to those that roil our society today.

      I haven’t read of anyone in 1919 saying “make America great again” or referring to unwanted immigrants’ homelands as “shithole countries.” But those exact ideas, if not precisely the same words, were commonly expressed a century ago. And some key words and phrases appeared then as now — referring to immigration as an “invasion,” for example, or disparaging immigrants as dirty, poor, and criminally inclined.

      A pair of quotes illustrates the common thread, a widespread feeling in both eras that, after several decades of large-scale immigration, American identity itself was under threat.

    • Trump’s Embrace of Netanyahu Will Haunt the Middle East for Years

      For Israelis, the questions had been hovering for months.

      Would the right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claim victory and a fifth term, moving his far-right Likud government coalition even further right? Or would the supposedly “centrist” challenger, former army chief of staff General Benny Gantz, ride to victory among corruption allegations against Netanyahu?

      Netanyahu faces three — and potentially as many as five — separate indictments for various scandals. If his Likud party forms the new government, which now seems likely, will it pass a new law prohibiting the indictment of a sitting prime minister?

      Those questions remain central to Israeli political discussion. But among Palestinians, there was little need to ask about what the election meant for them: Whatever government emerged seemed guaranteed to maintain current Israeli positions in support of occupation and apartheid, against international law, for war with Iran, for full-throated alliance with the U.S. president and U.S. military aid, and against human rights for Palestinians and equality for all.

      During the campaign, Netanyahu not only vowed to annex illegal Israeli West Banks settlements in violation of international law, but also expressly disavowed the state of Israel’s obligations to its Palestinian citizens. Yet his challenger Gantz was little better, running ads bragging about how many Palestinians he killed bombing Gaza “back to the stone age” while commanding Israel’s 2014 military assault on Gaza.

      Whatever the specific composition of the new government taking power in coming weeks, the horrific conditions of Palestinian life will remain. While Netanyahu’s political career may have survived an anxious moment, the system of occupation and apartheid he oversaw for decades was never in any danger.

    • No More Excuses: Israeli Voters Have Chosen a Country that Will Mirror the Brutal Regimes of its Arab Neighbours

      So now I guess we’ve all run out of excuses. Bibi Netanyahu’s Israel will not be a new and more right-wing Israel. It’s been that for a long time. It’s the propaganda that’s going to fall to bits. The only democracy in the Middle East? Give me a break.

      I think Israel now looks much more like its Arab neighbours. It dominates its own Arab minority, and its new prime minister has promised to annex much of the territory legally belonging to their fellow Palestinian Arabs – the very colonies built on lands which have already been stolen for the majority Jewish population in Israel.

      Including Jerusalem, that comes to around 5,700 square kilometres, just a third the size of Kuwait – for which we all went to war when Saddam Hussein annexed the emirate in 1990. And that’s what Israel is beginning to resemble: just another Middle East nation.

      It bombards and threatens its neighbours, jails (Palestinian) political prisoners on spurious grounds and rules well over two million Arab Palestinians with killer police squads, extrajudicial executions, torture and paid spies. It claims it doesn’t even occupy these people’s homes and lands. You could hear this in almost any Arab country. Go to Riyadh, Damascus, Cairo, Iraq (under Saddam). “With our blood and souls, we sacrifice ourselves to you,” the Arabs shout.

      Now that the Israelis have voted Netanyahu and his outrageous party allies back into power, they too have sacrificed their souls to Bibi. Not, maybe, their blood – because even Bibi knows that long and painful wars are not what Israelis have voted for. Short and painless ones for Israel are OK – it is the Arabs who must bear the pain.

    • Netanyahu’s Victory in Israel Tells Us About the Balance of Power in the Middle East

      Benjamin Netanyahu is an early version of the nationalist populist leaders that have come to power in country after country in recent decades. He has an acute sense of who holds – and does not hold – power and how to manipulate it. No wonder he gets on well with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

      His political approach has not varied much since he first came to prominence as an Israeli diplomat in Washington during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 when he showed his skills as a propagandist in defending the Israeli war record, particularly during the bombing of Beirut. Speaking good American English, he knew exactly what to say on US television channels and his skills in dealing with American politics and the media have never deserted him.

      When he eventually is replaced by another prime minister, a big difference will be that his successor may be less inclined – and will certainly be less capable – of becoming a player in US politics.

      Netanyahu has always been astute politician, but his public stance is not always easy to interpret. One point to be made about his belligerent rhetorical style that helps explain his political longevity is that he commonly exaggerates threats from a host of supposed mortal enemies such as Iran or the Palestinians, but he has been very averse to going to war. Possibly his experience during the war in Lebanon in 1982-4 made him particularly careful about this. Military action when it takes place is in the shape of air, rather than ground, attacks.

    • Mitch McConnell Is Single-Handedly Destroying the Senate

      Congress has recessed for two weeks without passing a desperately-needed disaster relief bill. Why not? Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t want to anger Donald Trump by adding money for Puerto Rico that Democrats have sought but Trump doesn’t want.

      America used to have a Senate. But under McConnell, what was once known as the worlds greatest deliberative body has become a partisan lap dog.

      Recently McConnell used his Republican majority to cut the time for debating Trump’s court appointees from 30 hours to two – thereby enabling Republicans to ram through even more Trump judges.

      In truth, McConnell doesn’t give a fig about the Senate, or about democracy. He cares only about partisan wins.

      On the eve of the 2010 midterm elections he famously declared that his top priority was for Barack Obama “to be a one-term president.”

      Between 2009 and 2013, McConnell’s Senate Republicans blocked 79 Obama nominees. In the entire history of the United States until that point, only 68 presidential nominees had been blocked.

    • The Divisive Center vs. The Unifying Left

      Bernie Sanders shocked the mainstream establishment this week by appearing on a Fox News Town Hall. Even more surprisingly, he was triumphant on a station most known for its fervent support for Trump and extreme Conservatism. In the citadel of right wing media he effectively and convincingly promoted progressive policies such as medicare for all. Even if only for a night, he showed that a left wing agenda that promised to address people’s real economic and social problems could unify the country in a common radical purpose.

    • There’s Nothing Wrong With Being Successful. Bernie Never Said There Was.

      Leading up to Tax Day, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported that under Trump’s new tax plan the number of corporations paying effectively zero in taxes, or even less than zero, had doubled. Let me repeat that. Huge billion dollar corporations like Amazon, Netflix, and pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly are not paying any taxes. And Trump’s tax plan is making it worse.

      But instead of covering the real story—how the wealthy and large corporations shift the cost of running our country onto those who can afford it least—the headlines read, “Bernie Sanders’ tax returns reveal he’s a millionaire!” Pundits called him a “hypocrite” and a few even defended the billionaires who Bernie has criticized, saying that “Getting rich is not a form of theft.”

    • We All Need Sanctuary From Donald Trump

      There is no missing the messages Donald Trump has been sending even before white nationalist senior adviser Stephen Miller was given control over the administration’s immigration policy: Go away, migrants and asylum seekers, the country is full. That this is nonsense — Nordics need not apply? I don’t think so — is inconsequential to him and the people who carry his dank water. Cruelty is the coin of the realm, racism the language spoken to his devout base, and the rule of law broken and forged again in the fires of white nationalism is the final goal.

      The latest iteration of this ongoing degeneration arrived last Thursday, when The Washington Post reported that Trump had proposed shipping thousands of migrants to various “sanctuary cities” around the country as a way to punish Democrats who refused to give him his southern border wall. The idea, to the shock of none, was credited to Miller.

      According to The Post, the idea was shot down by officials and legal experts for being illegal, logistically unworkable and (worst of all) terrible optics. After a day of horrified reactions, which included a White House statement claiming the strategy had been dispensed with, Trump jumped out of his spider hole and doubled down on the plan. “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy,” he tweeted, “so this should make them very happy!”

      Once in a while, and all too rarely these days, we are afforded a moment when the better angels of this nation’s nature rise up and spread their wings. So it was when sanctuary city after sanctuary city – there are more than 300 declared jurisdictions within 27 states – called Trump’s bluff. The front page of Saturday’s New York Daily News spoke for all with a bellowed response: WE’LL TAKE THEM. “We will do what we have always done, and we will be stronger for it,” wrote Jenny A. Durkan, mayor of the sanctuary city of Seattle. “And it will only strengthen our commitment to fighting for the dignity of every person.”

      That wasn’t the idea, however. Actually, doing the right thing and pursuing a human policy does not serve Trump’s interests. His (read: Miller’s) plan was to bus thousands of migrants into a city like San Francisco in the dead of night without prior notice, proper planning or adequate funding, and abandon them to the streets. In the ensuing chaos, the Fox News cameras would descend to take it all in, whereupon Trump would crow, “See? I told you! Liberals hate immigrants because immigrants are terrible! Build that wall!”

    • Sanders Takes the Campaign Against the Center for American Progress to Eleven

      One of my biggest concerns about the 2016 Sanders campaign was that, at least at the beginning, it was too easily forced to apologize for attacks on supposed “allies of progressives” in the Democratic ecosystem — because “unity.”

      The prime example of that occurred when Sanders accused the Planned Parenthood Action Fund—not Planned Parenthood the health care organization, Planned Parenthood AF, the highly Clintonist political action committee, which had early-endorsed Clinton despite Sanders’ excellent record on women’s issues—of being “part of the establishment.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Dissenter Extension Removed From Firefox Add-Ons Gallery For “Abuse”

      Gab responded by asking Mozilla what exactly violated their terms of service on Dissenter, since it was left rather vague as to what Dissenter was used for that put it outside the Acceptable Use Policy. However, Mozilla didn’t offer a response to their request at the time of writing this article.

    • Russian court orders new inspection in case against top theater directors, adding to recent gains for the defendants

      Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court ordered a comprehensive financial inspection in the case against several employees of “Seventh Studio,” a high-profile Russian theater organization led by the award-winning director Kirill Serebrennikov. The defendants are accused of embezzling 133 million rubles (over $2 million) in state-allocated funds, but the case against them contains a number of inconsistencies. Numerous high-profile figures in the Russian arts have argued that the case against Seventh Studio is politically motivated.

    • How Russia’s legendary Sound Recording State House changed hands, and became linked to a presidential agency and Dmitry Medvedev’s sneakers

      Since last summer, two state enterprises have been exchanging property in Moscow: the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) and the “Izvestia” publishing house (which no longer has any connection to the newspaper or website that bears the same name). The main asset being transferred from VGTRK to Izvestia is the Broadcasting and Sound Recording State House (GDRZ), which was traded for the building that houses the studio for a national TV talk show hosted by Olga Skabeeva and Evgeny Popov. Since last August, Russia’s musical public has been petitioning the country’s leaders, warning that GDRZ’s new owners plan to liquidate the unique studios that recorded generations of classical musicians, closing down a space where two national orchestras rehearsed until recently. The head of the Izvestia publishing house is 38-year-old Ekaterina Smirenskaya, whose father is business partners with Vladimir Dyachenko. According to an investigative report released two years ago by Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sometimes uses Dyachenko’s name when placing orders through foreign online stores.

    • Head of Russia’s censorship agency analogizes new Internet isolation bill and nuclear weapons

      Alexander Zharov, the head of Roskomnadzor, told RNS that the law on the isolation of the RuNet, whose enforcement his agency would lead, would be dormant should it take effect. The potential for its activation would stimulate companies that are not located under Russia’s jurisdiction to comply with Russian laws, including censorship regulations, in their online operations. The Internet isolation law passed its final reading in the State Duma on April 16. It will fall to the Federation Council’s consideration on April 22.

    • AI Won’t Save Us From Fake News: YouTube’s Fact Checking Tool Thinks Notre Dame Fire Is About 9/11

      In the ongoing moral panic about social media algorithms and what they recommend, there are various suggestions on how the companies might “improve” what they do — and many of them suggest relying on newer, better, algorithms. It’s the “nerd harder” approach. Mark Zuckerberg himself, last year, repeatedly suggested that investing heavily in AI would be a big part of dealing with content moderation questions. This has always been a bit silly, but as if to demonstrate how silly this notion is, yesterday, during the tragic fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, YouTube’s fancy new “fact checking AI” seemed to think multiple videos of the fire were actually referring to the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the US and linked to a page on Encycolpedia Britannica with more info about the attacks…

      [...]

      One response to all of this would be to admit that human beings are not perfect, that social media sometimes reflects all aspects of humanity, and that sometimes bad stuff is going to make it online, but that doesn’t seem acceptable to a large number of people. Given that, they’re going to have to accept that sometimes AI is going to get this kind of stuff laughably wrong.

    • EU Parliament Takes Up Its Next Attempt To Wipe Out An Open Internet: Terrorist Content Regulation Vote On Wednesday

      For the past few weeks and months I’ve been warning people that if you were worried about the EU Copyright Directive, you should be absolutely terrified about the EU Terrorist Content Regulation, which has continued to march forward with very little attention compared to the Copyright Directive. We’ve detailed the many, many problems with the Terrorist Content Regulation, starting with the requirement that any site (even a one-person blog somewhere outside of the EU) be required to take down content within an hour of notification by an ill-defined “competent authority,” but also covering other aspects, such as requiring mandatory content filters.

      When the EU Parliament’s civil rights committee, LIBE, moved the proposal forward last week, it stripped out some of the worst aspects of the law, but left in the 1 hour content removal requirement. And the largest group in the EU Parliament, the EPP, has already put forth amendments to bring back all the other bad stuff in the proposal. As MEP Julia Reda notes, the EU Parliament will now vote on the Terrorist Content Regulation on Wednesday, and that will includes votes on bringing back the awful stuff as well as amendments to hopefully remove the ridiculous and impossible one hour takedown requirement.

    • Head of Russia’s censorship agency marks a year of blocking Telegram: ‘You probably notice on occasion that it’s slower to load’

      Alexander Zharov, the head of the Russian government’s censorship agency, said that a year of attempts to block the social app Telegram had resulted in the application operating more slowly within Russia’s borders.

    • Boston symposium to celebrate first U.S. publication of emblematic refusenik novel

      Unpublishable in Russia until the collapse of the Soviet Union, the novel has since been released in three separate Russian editions.

    • Cook County Judge Loosens Unusual Restrictions on Publishing Details of Child Welfare Case

      A Cook County judge Monday lifted part of her previous order prohibiting ProPublica Illinois from publishing some details of a child welfare case it has been investigating, conceding that the restriction was “overbroad.”

      At the same time, Patricia Martin, the presiding judge of the Cook County Juvenile Court’s child protection division, continued to block the news organization from publishing the names or pictures of the minors involved in the case. While acknowledging the constitutional right of ProPublica Illinois to publish, the judge ruled that her restriction on disclosing the identities is necessary to protect the children.

      ProPublica Illinois has a “right to act as a conduit of information and to keep the public informed as to the workings of the court and the Illinois child welfare system,” Martin wrote in her modified order. “Nevertheless, if ProPublica publishes the children’s names or likenesses, it would be the actions of ProPublica, and ProPublica alone that would be responsible for inflicting a gratuitous harm on these children.”

      Aside from not revealing the identities of the minors, ProPublica “is free to report on any aspect of these cases, DCFS [the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services], the court, or the Illinois child welfare system as a whole,” Martin wrote.

    • Last chance for European Parliament to reject mass censorship

      Tomorrow, the 17th April, the whole European Parliament will vote on the Anti-terrorism Regulation. This Regulation would enable mass, unchecked and political censorship as well as destroying the free and open Web (read our complete analysis).

      While La Quadrature is still urging Members of the European Parliament to reject this useless text (read our letter sent to them last week), some new amendments may reduce a bit the harm done in the eventuality of the text not being rejected (read all tabled amendments and our voting list).

    • Pussy Riot member arrested on the way to theater awards ceremony where she is among the nominees

      Russian police have arrested Pussy Riot member Veronika Nikulshina. Pyotr Verzilov, another member, told Mediazona about the incident.

      The leaders of Theater To Go, Alexey Yershov and Maxim Karnaukhov, were arrested along with Nikulshina.

    • Russian court rejects investigative outlet’s lawsuit resisting threats of censorship

      Moscow’s Tagansky Court has turned down Mediazona’s lawsuit against the Russian government’s censorship agency, Roskomnadzor. A source in the human rights organization Agora told Meduza about the lawsuit’s failure.

    • State Duma passes law ‘isolating’ Russian Internet

      The State Duma has approved the third and final reading of a bill “providing for the save and sustainable functioning” of the Internet on Russian territory.

      The law would allow the Russian government to control all connections between the Russian segment of the Internet and the rest of the world. It provides for the creation of infrastructure that would enable the Russian segment to work in isolation if operators are unable to connect with Internet servers abroad. The agency responsible for executing the law will be Roskomnadzor, the Russian government’s censorship organ.

    • Self-Censorship is Credibility Suicide

      What is the job of the news media? To report the news. Everyone agrees about that. But some well-intentioned self-imposed ethical guidelines that members of the news media take for granted are getting in the way of the industry’s fundamental mission: telling everything they know to a public whose right to know is sacred.

      You know journalists have lost their way when they cheer the arrest and potential extradition to the U.S. of WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange. Any of us could be next; we should be circuling the wagons. Yet they insist on focusing on such inanities as Assange’s personality, his “arrogance,” even his cat. Some even approve.

      The other day NPR’s “Morning Edition” covered the 25th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Everyone over age 40 remembers what happened: suffering from depression, chronic pain and opiate addiction, the singer put a shotgun in his mouth and blew his head off.

      It’s one of the most famous suicides ever. NPR chose to be coy about it, mostly referring to Cobain’s “death” rather than his “suicide.”

      Airbrushing well-known reality is silly. But, like most American media outlets, NPR was merely following the World Health Organization’s published guidelines on covering suicide. According to experts news accounts of suicide can feed a phenomenon called “suicide contagion” wherein people in emotional crisis are inspired by stories to see taking their own lives as a solution to their problems. As Time magazine wrote recently, “the more vivid the depiction of a death… the more it may contribute to suicide contagion.” Editors and producers are encouraged to avoid detailed descriptions of how victims of suicide did it, what their last note said, etc.

      Reducing the suicide rate is a laudable goal. But journalists’ job is to report and analyze the news, not to reduce mortality. What’s next, refusing to mention hamburgers in the news because they contribute to arteriosclerosis? Cars because they kill people (and in vast numbers)? While we’re at it let’s censor war correspondency on the grounds that battle stories glorify militarism and thus prompt more wars!

    • Russia’s government is moving closer to Internet isolation. How much of the Web does the Russian segment take up?

      The State Duma has given its final approval to a bill that would enable the isolation of the Russian segment of the Internet. On April 22, the Federation Council will consider the bill, and upon approval, it will be sent to President Vladimir Putin for his signature. If the RuNet is ultimately isolated from international severs, just a small part of the World Wide Web will be based in Russia. About six million websites, less than 2 percent of the total number of domain names, are registered under the .ru and .рф domain zones. The RuNet’s readership is around 90 million people out of almost four billion Internet users around the globe. According to Cisco, only 3 percent of global Web traffic reached Russia in 2017.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Victory! Fairfax, Virginia Judge Finds That Local Police Use of ALPR Violates the State’s Data Act

      Thanks to a recent ruling by Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Robert J. Smith, drivers in Fairfax County, Virginia need not worry that local police are maintaining ALPR records of their travels for work, prayer, protest or play.

      Earlier this month, Judge Smith ordered an injunction against the use of the license plate database, finding that the “passive” use of Fairfax County Police Department’s Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) system violated Virginia’s Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act (Data Act). This means that the Fairfax County Police will be required to purge its database of ALPR data that isn’t linked to a criminal investigation and stop using ALPRs to passively collect data on people who aren’t suspected of criminal activity. The ruling came in response to a complaint brought by the ACLU of Virginia in support of Harris Neal, a local resident whose license plate had been recorded at least twice by the Fairfax police.

      Judge Smith had previously dismissed the case. In a 2016 ruling, the court ruled that license plate numbers were not covered by the state law’s limits on government data collection, because alone, they did not identify a single individual. Virginia’s Supreme Court overturned that ruling.

      Information collected using ALPR data is personally identifiable.

    • Aadhaar details of 7.82 crore from Telangana and Andhra found in possession of IT Grids (India) Pvt Ltd

      Telangana State Forensic Science Laboratory (TSFSL) during the examination of various digital data recovered earlier by Telangana police from the premises of IT Grids (India) Pvt Ltd on the suspicion of breach of Voter ID and Aadhaar data, found that IT Grids was allegedly in possession of “7,82,21,397″ records of Aadhaar data belonging to Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for the purpose of Seva Mitra App belonging to Telugu Desam Party (TDP). In the forensic examination, the officials found that the structure and size of the database in possession of IT Grids is similar to that of databases that could have been originally owned by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
      It was based on the information given by Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by Inspector General of Police, Stephen Raveendra, UIDAI lodged a complaint in Madhapur police station on Friday citing the different findings of SIT. Madhapur police registered a case under sections 37,38(a), 38(b), 38(g), 40, 42,44 of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016. This case too is going to be transferred to SIT.

    • In The Biggest Aadhaar Data Theft, Details Of 7.82 Crore Indians Stolen

      In what appears to be the biggest ever Aadhaar data leak in India, Aadhaar details of as many as 7.82 crore Indians have been found in possession of IT Grids Pvt. Ltd. The Telugu Desam Party hired the company for developing its “Seva Mitra app,” says a Times of India report.

      The data breach came to light after the Telangana State Forensic Laboratory (TSFSL) was examining the data recovered by the Telangana police from the IT Grid’s premises. It was found that the company had illegally acquired access to the Aadhaar data of “7,82,21,397” residents of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

    • Chinese Surveillance Is Using AI To Target Minorities In The Country

      China is known to have been working on its surveillance strategies for a while now, with AI playing a significant role in it. China has developed its facial recognition tech to recognize its population. However, the technology seems to be taking a racial route to recognize minorities in the country specifically.

      It is suggested that one of the Turkish Muslim communities – the Uighurs – are being targeted by China’s advanced facial recognition technology to control and monitor the community deemed to be a threat to the country.

      [...]

      Such camps cause misery to the Uighurs due to forced labor, deprivation of food and sleep, metal and verbal torture, and more to harm the integrity of the minority.

    • ICO Age Appropriate Design Code of Conduct: tread lightly

      “It is welcome to see the ICO lay out strong “high privacy” by default including switching off geolocation, services the rely on profiling, and restricting nudge techniques, among others. This gives the opportunity for children to access and use online services without becoming tracked and having their personal data monetised as soon as they land on the site.

      “However the ICO must tread lightly when it comes to requesting verification of a child’s age. There is a risk that an interpretation of the code will increase the spread of age verification technologies which, if implemented badly, could increase data collection of children or lead to inadvertently restricting access to services for children that don’t have identity documents or sufficient parental support. The ICO must place strong restrictions to minimise the use of data collected, and give children the opportunity to enjoy the freedom to access to information and the communication potential that the best of these services provide.”

    • Activision’s HR department knows a creepy amount about its employees

      The report states that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that it has also experimented with tracking for mental health, sleep, diet, autism and cancer care.

    • Illinois almost passed a bill that banned devices that record you without your consent — and then Big Tech stepped in

      This week, Keep Internet Devices Safe Act was gutted by the Illinois senate: it would have allowed people sue manufacturers if they determined that a device had engaged in remote recording without notifying its owner.

      The Senate was heavily lobbied by trade groups led by the Internet Association, groups that represented Microsoft, Google and Amazon (all of whom make creepy, surveillance “smart speakers” that sport networked, always-on microphones that the manufacturers claim are under user control), and senators amended the bill to render it effectively useless.

    • [Repeated] Big Tech Lobbying Gutted a Bill That Would Ban Recording You Without Consent

      In the bill’s original form, users could file a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s office that could lead to penalties of up to $50,000. But after technology trade associations, led by the Internet Association objected, claimed that the state’s definition of a “digital device” was too broad, and that the Act would lead to “private litigation which can lead to frivolous class action litigation,” the bill was scaled back.

      In its current, neutered form, the bill provides exclusive authority to the Attorney General to enforce the Act, which means regular citizens won’t be able to bring forward a case regarding tech giants recording them in their homes.

    • Amazon reportedly set to launch a free music streaming tier

      Amazon plans to market the new option through its Echo speakers, and Billboard says that it could be available as soon as this week. The free tier will have a limited catalog of music, and Amazon reportedly obtained the licenses by offering participating labels a deal to pay per stream. The payment rate is not tied to the amount of advertising Amazon sells.

    • Amazon in Talks to Launch Ad-Supported Music Offering: Exclusive

      Currently, Spotify is the only major subscription-dependent music streaming service with a free tier — a generous offering that’s been key to it hooking and funneling in new paying subscribers. (While YouTube has also long been free around the world, the ad-driven Alphabet video platform is less interested in converting its free users into paid customers.) The free service offered by Spotify, which currently counts 96 million paying subscribers and 116 million free users, is attractive because it lets listeners hear particular albums or artists on demand, though free users can’t control the order of the songs.

    • Incognito Mode To Become More Secure In Google Chrome 75 [Ed: This is proprietary software from a surveillance capitalism company in NSA PRISM. This won't secure privacy of users. Or secure from particular parties only.]
    • How Bandwidth Scanners Monitor The Tor Network

      Tor relays report their own bandwidth based on the traffic they have sent and received. But this reported bandwidth is not verified by other relays. Bandwidth scanners help verify relay bandwidths. They also provide some initial traffic to new relays, so those relays can report a useful amount of bandwidth.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Executions are falling worldwide

      A reason to rejoice? Perhaps not. Amnesty’s count includes only known executions, so should be treated as the lowest possible estimate of judicial killings. China, which is considered the most ruthless country when it comes to capital punishment, has not been included in the total since 2009. Executions there are thought to be in the thousands.

    • Europe’s other migration crisis

      Natalia Panchenko, a Maidan protester now living in Warsaw, agrees: “The ones leaving are those who could push for changes.” But precisely those people—often young and without partners, children or homes anchoring them to Ukraine—say they do not intend to return until the situation there improves. At least they can invest some of their reformist energies in their adoptive country. For example, a number of Ukrainians attended protests against the constitutional abuses of Poland’s governing Law and Justice (

    • A South Carolina prison tested ‘micro-jamming’ cellphone signals

      The US Federal Bureau of Prisons recently ran a test for jamming contraband cellphones in a South Carolina state correctional facility. “Micro-jamming,” or disrupting phone signals within a very precise area, was tested in a federal prison last year. But this test signaled that state prisons — which generally don’t have the authority to mess with phone signals — could be on their way to using the technology.

    • Cellphone Jamming Tested at South Carolina State Prison

      The test took place over the course of five days in a housing unit at Broad River Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison in Columbia, South Carolina, according to Department of Justice officials. Assistant Attorney General Beth Williams told AP it’s the first time federal officials have collaborated with officials at a state prison for such a test.

      Officials did not release the results of the test, which will be included in a later report to be done by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

    • Video of a police officer taunting a woman’s 13-year-old daughter went viral, and she says she doesn’t want him to lose his job. She wants him to learn a valuable lesson.

      “I found that officers acted like that on a regular basis. I found that to be the normal when it came to my area,” she said. “I kind of brushed it off and swept it under the rug until I started hearing the frustrations of people and how much it bothered Cameron that day and the day after.”

    • Inside an Honor Killing: A Father and a Daughter Tell Their Story

      Her interviews with Rahman are chilling; she recounts, “I politely greeted the person who [explicitly says he] would kill me if I were a member of his family and cut off my hands if he knew” about Wold’s girlfriend back home.

    • In search of perfect victims

      Pakistani women are not going to stand for this any longer. Too many of them are now in the workforce, their daily security and safety affected by misogyny, by lewd bosses and groping co-workers. Others going through the same abuses that their mothers and grandmothers suffered are turning to the internet, exposing and shaming the perpetrators of abuse. The vitriol in the backlash, the ferocity with which Asma Aziz and woman holding signs have been reviled, is evidence that things are changing, that women are organising — refusing to stand for the cover-ups and the silence. In small ways and big, in cities and villages, Pakistani women are shaking off the shackles of a culture that has for too long permitted their annihilation.

    • She Helped Convict Her Rapist. ICE Deported Her Anyway.

      Once that 10,000 limit is met, as has happened every year since 2009, eligible applicants are placed on a waiting list and granted deferred action, which means they can remain lawfully in the country and apply for a work permit until a visa becomes available. But at present, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is taking more than four years to even review an application, according to the latest official estimate.

      Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants are at risk of enduring further abuse or being deported and separated from family members. With Trump’s stringent enforcement priorities in effect, immigrants who may have once been left alone while their U-visa applications were being processed now fear being targeted. Rather than focusing on the White House’s stated priority of “removing violent gang members, criminals and predators,” ICE is regularly going after vulnerable immigrants, including victims of domestic violence with ties to the United States.

    • Brazil’s biggest anti-corruption investigation is at a turning point

      It will soon be at the centre of another controversy. It plans to reconsider its earlier ruling that people convicted of crimes can be jailed after they lose their first appeal. A reversal of that decision could result in the release of thousands of convicts not deemed a danger to society, including ordinary criminals. It could also undermine Lava Jato, investigators fear, by weakening suspects’ incentive to co-operate.

    • Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party is investigating after its official Twitter account suffered a [intrusion] attack overnight.

      It is unclear who was responsible for hijacking the account but the police have been informed.

    • Silicon Valley, once a bastion of libertarianism, sees a budding socialist movement

      People who work in the tech industry spoke to Salon of a budding labor movement, and a concurrent tide of democratic socialists, within their ranks.

    • Burned Out and Happy?

      It took me a while to realize what was going on, to realize I was burned out.

    • “Acceptable Racism” — Education Researchers’ Disgusting Anti-White Bent

      Those of us who are thinking humans wonder how American kids will compete with those from China who are getting an actual education. In math ‘n’ stuff.

    • Creator Of Silk Road 2.0 Did Double The Business, Sentenced To Only Five Years In Prison

      In 2015, the man behind darknet drug marketplace Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, received two consecutive life sentences from a New York judge. Her rationale was that Ulbricht was no different than a “dangerous Bronx drug dealer.” No leniency was given. The government, which participated in its own share of misconduct during the investigation, argued Ulbricht should be personally financially-responsible for every drug transaction on the Silk Road: a total of $184 million.

      The government got its win — all of it. But it was only temporary. Silk Road 2.0 swiftly took the original’s place, run by another young man who knew he was going to be pursued by law enforcement across the world as soon as he fired it up. Long before it was shut down, Silk Road 2.0 was double the size of the original Silk Road, proving once again that sellers and buyers of illicit substances will find each other, no matter how many roadblocks governments erect.

      The operator of this marketplace was arrested in San Francisco — just like Albricht was. But that’s where their stories drastically diverge. For one, the person arrested in San Francisco was not the founder of Silk Road 2.0. That title belonged to Dread Pirate Roberts 2 (DPR2). That person, Thomas White, was arrested by the UK’s National Crime Agency.

    • Empowering Border Patrol To Make Asylum Decisions Drastically Increases Danger For Immigrants

      The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced plans to task Border Patrol agents with facilitating the early stages of the asylum process in a transparent attempt to toss out applications before they move forward in court.

      In the days following the announcement, President Donald Trump said he would pursue a “tougher direction” on immigration.

      It is hard, at first glance, to envision what that may mean for an administration so marked by its aggressive stance on immigration enforcement. Under the Trump administration, the DHS has aggressively broadened enforcement priorities that have made all undocumented immigrants a target for deportation.

      The ensuing climate of fear creates a steep human cost: fearing run-ins with ICE, immigrants have stopped seeing doctors, using public services, and even reporting their abusers.

      Yet, the onslaught continues.

      Agents will now be empowered to conduct credible fear assessments, which are one-on-one interviews that determine an applicant’s eligibility to apply for asylum. These interviews are the cornerstone of asylum applications. The success of an asylum application hinges on a migrant’s ability to demonstrate a well-founded fear of being deported to one’s home country.

    • Steve Miller and the Nationalist Takeover of the White House

      We are in a battle to stop white supremacy from seizing power, says TRNN contributor Jacqueline Luqman

    • Texas Is Poised to Make It Easier to Jail People for Voting Errors

      In 2018, 43-year-old Crystal Mason was sentenced to five years in prison in Texas for illegally voting with a criminal record. A few months later, Grand Prairie, Texas, resident Rose Ortega lost her appeal of an eight-year prison sentence for voting as a non-U.S. citizen. When she is released from custody, she will most likely be deported back to Mexico.

      Under Senate Bill 9, which is making its way through the Texas legislature, stories like Mason’s and Ortega’s would become more common. The bill would increase criminal penalties for voting and give prosecutors more power to bring charges against voters. And crimes that were previously misdemeanors would become state jail felonies punishable by up to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Voting advocates say the anti-democracy provisions — tucked inside SB 9 alongside measures that would strengthen elections — are raising alarms about the future of the right to vote in the state.

      Zenén Jaimes Pérez, the advocacy and communications director for the Texas Civil Rights Project, called the bill “another assault on voting rights in Texas.”

      “It does that through multiple ways and the main way of doing that is through the broadening of the criminalization of election laws in Texas,” he said. “Things that normally weren’t criminal penalties or didn’t have as high criminal penalties are enhanced under SB 9.”

      The lieutenant governor has designated the bill a priority for this legislative session, and it will most likely be put to a vote for the whole Senate in the coming days or weeks.

      Under the bill, making a false statement on a voter registration form would be classified as “a state jail felony” instead of a misdemeanor, as it is currently. As written, advocates say that people who vote when they are not eligible can be prosecuted even if they did not intentionally violate election law.

    • Ohio’s Mayor’s Courts Increase Injustice Across the State

      Revenue-oriented mayor’s courts subvert justice. They must be reformed to protect the rights of Ohioans.
      Karen G.’s daughter still remembers the day when “mommy had her pink bracelets on.” Unfortunately, Karen was wearing pink handcuffs, not bracelets.

      On May 10, 2010, the day of Karen’s youngest daughter’s birthday, Karen and her daughters were on their way to pick up a birthday cake. They stopped by Lockland Mayor’s Court to present documentation that Karen had renewed her driver’s license. But once she arrived at the court, Karen was told that she had to pay a $600 fine for driving without a license before she could leave. When Karen explained that she did not have the money to pay this fine, a Lockland police officer handcuffed her to a wall in front of her daughters and gave her one hour to make phone calls to come up with $600.

      In 2010, Karen’s family income was $30,000 for a family of four. Karen was unemployed and her husband was on the verge of a lay off so her family could not afford to pay $600 on the spot. Karen’s husband picked up her children and Karen was put in a police vehicle in front of her children. When Karen began to cry, the police officer taking her to jail told Karen, “You’re a big girl, stop crying.”

      Unfortunately, Karen’s experience is a widespread problem in Ohio. Every day, Ohioans are arrested and thrown in jail via mayor’s courts, a shadowy quasi-judicial system that wrings revenue from drivers.

      Mayor’s courts are falling short because their personnel do not have adequate legal training, and they lack the accountability and transparency necessary to function fairly. And the problem is a big one —there are almost 300 mayor’s courts operating across Ohio.

    • ICE’s Fake University Sting Operation Also Used A Bunch Of Fake Facebook Profiles

      In an effort to boost bust numbers and further cement its reputation as the ugly embodiment of punitive xenophobia, ICE set up a fake university in Michigan to ensnare immigrants attempting to do something the law allows them to do: stay in the country while they earn a degree.

      This wasn’t just some online university with sketchy bonafides. This was a (bogus) university sporting a real campus and accreditation secured from a national accreditation service — everything needed to start converting tuition fees into arrests and detentions. ICE took in $60,000 in application fees alone before it started rounding up people who, for the most part, were just trying to do something legal. Instead of being able to live and work in the US while they completed a degree, more than 160 duped students were taken into custody by ICE. So far, only eight are actually facing charges.

    • The Border, Trumpian Madness and the Clash of Demographics

      Some years ago I had an opportunity to interview several students of mine who’d come to the U.S. as part of the Bracero Program in the 1950s. As such, they were witness to the massive assault on the Latino community called Operation Wetback. Two aspects of what I learned from them about those years stood out most prominently and have remained with me through intervening years.

      One was the scope of terror that Operation Wetback unleashed. As Jose, one of the students described it, “In Los Angeles, in the center of the city, no one was shopping to buy anything, because of the raids. They (the INS – the Immigration and Naturalization Service, precursor to ICE) were grabbing people and deporting them. There were people with and without papers. There were family members who had their papers, but didn’t have them with them at that moment and they were taken away.”People were swept up while going about their normal routines, on public transportation, even in their neighborhoods solely on the basis of their apparent ethnicity, and deported. Police were instructed to pick up “vagrants” and turn them in to the INS. Special buses and trains dispatched deportees to border towns or took them deep into Mexico without regard to their regions of origin. They were loaded on to trucks and dumped off at places along the border with no regard to their survival. Some died of dehydration. Deportees were packed into ships at Port Isabel, Texas and sent to Veracruz. Once again, without regard to their region of origin.

      The INS claimed it drove 1.3 million immigrants from the U.S. through the summer of 1954. It boasted that hundreds of thousands left the country out of fear.

      The numbers have been questioned, but there is little doubt that families were torn apart and entire communities in California, Arizona and Texas, were terrorized and decimated.

    • None Dare Call It Fascism

      Since being elected in 2018, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has reinstated six deputies who were fired for brutality. He loudly defends his actions. Since January 1, Villanueva has cancelled 45 internal investigations of deputies.

      Poverty is growing exponentially in Los Angeles County. Thirteen thousand people become homeless every month. An increasingly violent policing apparatus is being turned loose to control them. Villanueva is no out of control mad dog. He is simply meeting the needs of the handful of billionaires who control Los Angeles County.

    • Bernie Sanders Is Making Union Solidarity an Essential Theme of the 2020 Campaign

      “These guys want to return us to the 1920s when working people had virtually no rights to organize or to earn a decent living,” explained Sanders, who argued that “There are a lot of folks out there who say, ‘It doesn’t impact me, I’m not a union guy, I’m not a teacher, I’m not a civil servant.’ Let me tell you how it does matter to you. Wages are going down in this country for everybody. When you destroy unions there will be no standard at all, nobody left to negotiate decent jobs for the middle class.”

      Sanders took an unapologetically pro-union stance that was rare in a political climate when many Democrats were still clinging to neoliberal dogmas. A lot has changed since 2011, but Sanders continues to up the ante when it comes to debates about workplace democracy.

    • Khabib warns McGregor he isn’t ‘safe’ after insulting Islam, Conor says he wants to move forward with fans of ‘all faiths’
    • Dearborn Islamic School Linked to Iran, Hezbollah Propagandists

      Great Revelations Academy was founded in 2015 by open supporters of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah. By their own admission, the school’s founders are dedicated to spreading his message.

      Fadlallah was a supporter of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and is considered to be a key inspirer of Hezbollah. Some go so far as to describe him as the terrorist group’s “spiritual leader.”

    • Women’s rights activists in Algeria threatened with acid attacks

      A man who called for acid attacks on women’s rights activists during the April 5 protests in Algeria was forced to apologise after a public outcry. But the harm caused by his video, posted on Facebook earlier this week, has already been done, says our Observer, an activist who has received several threats of acid attacks.

    • Et Tu, CAIR — Why Silent on Brunei?

      Unfortunately, the same letter endorsed sharia governance, including its brutal hudud punishments. Point 16 of the letter stated, “Hudud punishments are fixed in the Qu’ran and Hadith and are unquestionably obligatory in Islamic Law.”

    • Leading Muslim cleric says Islamophobia a result of Islamic extremism and not racism

      Yahya Cholil Staquf, the secretary-general of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama movement, which claims to have more than 90 million adherents, wrote in an article in Britain’s Daily Telegraph saying that the traditional Muslim mindset needed to change.

      He called for a rejection of Islamic orthodoxy, condemning it as “obsolete and problematic” and “fuelling violence on both sides”.

    • Justine Damond shooting: fiance tells US court he told her to call police

      The officer did not say that a Minneapolis police officer, Mohamed Noor, had shot Damond as she approached their patrol car.

    • Cop shot woman who called 911 “without saying a word,” prosecutor says

      Damond had called 911 twice. She then called her fiancé but hung up when officers arrived to investigate, telling him, “OK, the police are here,” Lofton said. Just 1 minute, 19 seconds passed from the time Damond hung up to the time she cradled a gunshot wound to her abdomen and said, “I’m dying,” Lofton said.

      Damond was barefoot and wearing her pajamas.

    • ‘Perfect storm’ led to officer Mohamed Noor shooting unarmed Justine Damond, defence says

      Prosecutor Patrick Lofton, in his opening statement, questioned a statement from Noor’s partner, Matthew Harrity, that he heard a thump right before the shooting. Lofton said Officer Harrity never said anything at the scene about such a noise, instead mentioning it for the first time some days later in an interview with investigators.

    • US cop who shot woman in her pyjamas was ‘spooked’, lawyer says

      Lofton also said investigators found no forensic evidence to show that Damond had touched the squad car before she was shot, an assertion that seemed aimed at the possibility that she had slapped or hit it upon approaching the officers.

      Lofton also wondered why other officers responding to the scene didn’t consistently have their cameras switched on.

      The officers did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting, and there was no squad car video.

      Lofton noted that a sergeant taking statements had her camera on when she talked to Harrity, but off when she talked to Noor.

    • Fiancé of Justine Ruszczyk Damond first witness in murder trial of Mohamed Noor

      More time passed and Damond stated a call came from an unknown number. It was from a Minneapolis police officer who reported that Justine was shot and deceased, but didn’t say by whom.

    • Iraq’s atheists go underground as Sunni, Shiite hard-liners dominate

      But power, violence and religion are a toxic mix.

      Many of Iraq’s unbelievers have been forced underground as religious hard-liners battle for control of the young democracy, which is struggling to balance the demands of both Sunnis and Shiites, plus smaller ethnic and religious communities.

    • Quebec’s religious symbols ban welcomed by some who left Muslim countries behind

      Ben Ammar’s mother’s decision to don the veil is just one example of what she sees as her country’s transformation from a secular state to a place where government and religion now coexist, and sometimes clash.

      An atheist, she strongly supports the CAQ government’s plan to ban religious symbols such as the hijab for government workers in positions of authority, like police officers, prosecutors and teachers.

    • 60 years after exile, Tibetans face a fight for survival in a post-Dalai Lama world

      Sixty years ago today, the Tibetan Buddhist leader set foot on Indian soil to begin his life as a refugee.

    • Brunei’s ultra-rich monarch adopts harsh Sharia punishments

      Yet there is no guarantee that Brunei’s courts will not implement the new laws. And even if they hesitate, it remains striking that the sultan, without any obvious prodding from his subjects, felt it necessary to bolster his legitimacy by espousing such a cruel interpretation of Islam. Perhaps he wanted to distract them from other, even less defensible aspects of his rule.

    • Indonesia village scraps Muslim-only regulation after backlash

      The agreement, which was enacted in 2015 by the Karet village activity group (Pokgiat) in Pleret subdistrict, Bantul regency, Yogyakarta, banned non-Muslims from residing or owning land in the village.

    • ‘All would be safe under sharia due to fear of punishment’

      The video was uploaded to the Albayan Radio YouTube channel. Albayan Radio is a Sydney-based radio station and is an ASWJ (Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah) Australia initiative.

    • Pope Francis urges Moroccan Christians against converting others

      But Moroccans are automatically considered Muslim if they are not born into the Jewish community, apostasy is socially frowned upon, and proselytising is criminalised.

    • Mosque Cleric In Faisalabad Sells Woman For Rs 2 Lac

      According to a report published in a local newspaper, a mosque cleric in Batala Colony jurisdiction sold the woman for Rs 2 lac by trapping her to meet her children.

    • Imam gets lifer for killing wife

      The couple was blessed with three children, out of them one daughter had died. The convict often used to harass his wife and on September 14, 2014, during a quarrel, the convict poured kerosene over Rukhaia and set her afire.

    • FiLiA STATEMENT: Iran and the UN Women’s Rights Committee

      FiLiA calls on all those who are committed to women’s rights to stand up to say we will not allow Iran to use its membership of or positions on international women’s rights bodies as a way of deflecting from its grave violations of the women in its jurisdiction. We call for the immediate safe release of Nasrin Sotoudeh. We call attention to the fact that enforced hijab is only one symptom of the many human and women’s rights infringements committed by the Iranian government over many years.

    • Pakistan Asma Aziz: Wife who had ‘head shaved for refusing to dance’

      A Pakistani woman has publicly accused her husband of beating her and shaving her head for refusing to dance for him and his friends, in a case that has raised new concerns about women’s safety in the country.

    • Watchdogs Cite Lax Medical And Mental Health Treatment Of ICE Detainees [ICE Detainees Face Severe Shortage of Medical and Mental Health Care]

      It’s Saturday morning and the women of the Contreras family are busy in Montclair, Calif., making pupusas, tamales and tacos. They’re working to replace the income of José Contreras, who has been held since last June at Southern California’s Adelanto ICE Processing Center, a privately run immigration detention center.

      José’s daughter, Giselle, drives around in an aging minivan collecting food orders. First a hospital, then a car wash, then a local bank.

      Giselle’s father crossed illegally from Guatemala more than two decades ago. He worked in construction until agents picked him up and brought him to Adelanto. José languished there for three months without his diabetes medication, Giselle said. Now, she said, the guards give it to him at odd times during the day and night. And ICE agents took his eyeglasses so he can’t read legal documents or write letters, she said.

      “My aunt tried to take in glasses for him, but they don’t allow for us to give them anything,” Giselle said, steering the minivan. “They tell us that they give them everything they need.” But as to reclaiming his glasses, “No. … He doesn’t have glasses.”

      Giselle said that her 60-year-old father is terrified of being deported, and that the regimented world inside Adelanto is driving him into a deep depression.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Running an IRC Network in 2019: Challenges and Opportunities

      Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is one of the oldest kids on the block. Its user base has been in decline. The Internet has become increasingly centralized and web-centric; “relevant” chat platforms these days are Discord and Slack. So why should we, in 2019, still bother with a chat network running a protocol created back in the late 80s, early 90s? We have found answers of our own to that: [...]

    • Source analysis and the evolution of the internet

      Source analysis is about getting as close to the actual source as you can, to get as clear information as possible, and then analyse that information to find the truth. And if you work with journalism, it includes the next step of how to spread that truth most effectively to the public. Part of the very basics of journalism are of course the ’Five Ws and one H’ – Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? There are several more detailed techniques and structures to help increase source analysis after that.

      If you work with journalism, source analysis becomes like breathing. Quite similar to breathing, actually; it becomes a habit, but so much of a habit we sometimes forget that we can do it even better, just as we can learn to breathe in a more relaxed and healthier way. Source analysis is a practical skill: when you train it, you get better at it. It is this that the public needs us to do, to help them get clear information that they can trust.

    • T-Mobile’s ‘Revolutionary’ New TV Service Looks Like The Same Old Crap

      Legere has spent the last few years mercilessly mocking (often quite justly) both AT&T and Verizon’s own forays into video, only to release something that is just as droll. There’s not much here that’s likely to make much headway into the market, given the entire point of “cutting the cord” is to get away from expensive channel bundles and locked down set top boxes in the first place.

      Watching T-Mobile change over the next few years is going to be interesting. The company effectively built its brand on being a consumer ally that’s different from traditional, entrenched players. But as the company has pushed distortion after distortion in its bid to gain regulatory approval for its Sprint merger, it continues to prove that’s not really the case. And if the deal’s approved, the sudden 25% reduction in major competitors is going to open the door to less competition, higher prices, and less innovation–all of the things T-Mobile and CEO Legere profess to be breathlessly dedicated to.

    • Michael Copps Thinks Trump Is Trying to Put FCC Out of Business

      We spoke the other day just as the House of Representatives passed the Save the Internet bill restoring net neutrality rules that keep the Internet open to all without paying higher fees for fast lane preferential treatment. As of now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the bill will never reach the Senate floor, doubtless because he fears putting GOP colleagues on the record in support of the telecom and media giants despite the vast majority of voters – including Republicans – strongly supporting net neutrality and an open Internet.

      The conversation also took place just a few days after the passing of former Democratic Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina with whom Copps worked and remained friends. He was 97. As noted in the Washington Post’s obituary, “[Hollings] served in the Senate from 1966 to 2005 and was instrumental in enacting laws to alleviate childhood hunger, increase vehicle efficiency after the Arab oil embargo and expand competition in telecommunications when the Internet was in its infancy.”

    • Very Little In Trump’s ‘Bold’ New Rural Broadband Plan Is Actually New

      Last week the Trump administration and the Ajit Pai FCC held a major press conference announcing a “bold” new three-pronged program they claimed would address the nation’s longstanding rural broadband issues. During the conference, the President and Pai were flanked by a chorus line of cellular industry employees and ranchers adorned in both tower climbing gear and cowboy hats, apparently in a bid to add a little authenticity to the Village People-esque proceedings…

  • DRM

    • Not just Apple: Microsoft has been quietly lobbying to kill Right to Repair bills

      Rep. Jeff Morris told iFixit Repair Radio that national Right to Repair legislation was killed by Microsoft, in a piece of horse trading that saw Microsoft backing funding for STEM education in exchange for Right to Repair (and unrelated privacy rules) dying.

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

      He shed some light on the kinds of things Microsoft lobbyists were doing, saying that last year, “Microsoft was going around telling our members that they wouldn’t sell Surface Tablets in Washington any longer if we passed the bill.”

      In our own conversations about the opposition to Right to Repair in Olympia, Microsoft’s full-throated opposition was often brought up by legislators, and it was to clear to us that the company was lobbying extensively against the bill, and was the most high-profile opponent.

    • Microsoft is reportedly blocking the ‘Right To Repair’ bill through lobbying

      According to MSPowerUser, Jeff Morris, a Democrat member of the House of Representatives, has been using its influence to block a bill which, on the face of it, has support across the house and a whopping 87 per cent support amongst US citizens.

      He claims that, according to his sources, Microsoft had offered to support a tax which would be used to fund STEM education, but only if the Right To Repair bill was quietly dropped. A second stipulation surrounding privacy policies was also on the table.

    • Microsoft has been quietly lobbying against Right to Repair legislation

      As a device OEM Microsoft has an interest in preventing customers from repairing their own devices, complicating their support and potentially reducing the need to buy a new device.

      87% of consumers however support Right to Repair and flexing their muscle in such an anti-consumer manner is extremely anti-democratic, especially when Microsoft paints themselves as socially responsible.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • How far can you go in Pre-Suit Investigative Contacts with Opposing Parties

      I’m often asked questions about how far a lawyer can go (directly or through a private investigator) in determining the facts before filing suit. On the one hand, Rule 11 (and Section 285) require investigation; on the other, certain ethical rules limit the ability to do so. For example, Rule 4.2 precludes communicating about a “matter” with a person “represented by counsel” in it — and, a “matter” can exist before a suit is filed and, further, in the cases of entities, even very low level people can be “represented by counsel.” Further, in communicating with a person who is not “represented by counsel in a matter,” Rule 4.3 requires lawyers to not appear “disinterested” and, in some circumstances, to explain their role to the person with whom they’re communicating.

    • When Examiners Reopen Prosecution …

      In a remarkably parallel situation from the early 1900’s the U.S. Supreme Court held that mandamus was appropriate where the examiner refused to forward cases to the Board. U.S. ex rel. Steinmetz v. Allen, 192 U.S. 543 (1904).

    • Indicia of infringement: a video might not be sufficient

      A recently published Decision of 9 November 2018 from Barcelona Commercial Court number 5 sheds some light on the indicia that may or may not be sufficient for the purposes of ordering a preliminary injunction “ex parte”. For the readers’ benefit, it will be useful to clarify that under Spanish law, one of the requirements that an applicant for a preliminary injunction must meet is the so-called “fumus boni iuris.” Literally translated from Latin, this means “smoke of good right.” So, the applicant must submit prima facie evidence of infringement.

      In the case at hand, the patentee requested the Court to order a preliminary injunction “ex parte” alleging that, otherwise, the defendant would be able to exhibit its products in a forthcoming trade fair. For the purposes of proving “fumus boni iuris”, the applicant filed a promotional video regarding the product to be marketed by the defendant (a “welding without cleaning” device).

    • Apple v. Qualcomm trial kicks off in San Diego: jury of nine selected, live tweets disallowed

      Today was Day One of the Apple, Foxconn et al. v. Qualcomm trial in San Diego (Southern District of California). Formally, there are two cases, which the court combined under the official caption In re Qualcomm litigation. The reason for two cases existing technically is that a few months after Apple sued Qualcomm in January 2017, Qualcomm sued Apple’s four contract manufacturers (Foxconn, Wistron, Pegatron, and Compal), who counterclaimed. The contract manufacturers’ counterclaims became the economically biggest issue in the case, amounting to approximately $9 billion, which could be tripled (as a damages enhancement) to $27 billion. Qualcomm is seeking damages of up to $15 billion according to Reuters.

    • Common sense against Qualcomm: Apple stresses smartphone functionality also works without modem chip–over WiFi–but Qualcomm wants royalties on entire device

      I’m typing this while Fish & Richardson’s Ruffin Cordell is still delivering Apple’s opening statement in the Apple v. Qualcomm antitrust trial here in San Diego (Southern District of California).

    • SCOTUS Won’t Review Tribal Immunity To Inter Partes Review

      On Monday, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in the Saint Regis Mohawk v. Mylan case, bringing to a close a nearly 18-month-long attempt to sell tribal sovereign immunity as a shield against the inter partes review (IPR) process.

      [...]

      Allergan, instead of doing what most patent owners have done in similar situations—either defending their patent, or settling—chose a route less traveled. Waiting until just a few days before the PTAB was scheduled to hear the case, Allergan cut a deal with the Saint Regis Mohawk tribe. Allergan would give the patents to the tribe (along with about $15 million dollars every 3 months). In exchange, the tribe would license the patents back to Allergan for drug sale and enforcement purposes, and make claims that the PTAB wasn’t permitted to conduct an IPR of the patents due to tribal sovereign immunity.

      [...]

      The denial in this case should bring to an end other attempts to use tribal sovereign immunity as a shield against IPR. While Allergan was the most well-known company to attempt this tactic, other companies tried it as well. In fact, there was enough concern about the tactic that a bipartisan bill was introduced to ban it.

      But tribal sovereign immunity isn’t the only type of sovereign immunity. States also possess sovereign immunity, and state-sponsored entities receive that immunity as well, even when they’re acting as fundamentally commercial enterprises. Several PTAB panels have previously allowed state sovereign immunity to be used as a shield against IPR. But after the Saint Regis Mohawk decision, that argument doesn’t seem to be a strong one. There’s no difference between state sovereign immunity and tribal sovereign immunity for this purpose. Neither applies when the federal government is the relevant actor, as in IPR.

      A case on exactly this issue— state sovereign immunity to IPR—is currently in front of the Federal Circuit. In the Regents of the Univ. of Minn. v. LSI Corporation case, amici ranging from health care groups to technology trade associations to the United States government have all argued that states cannot use sovereign immunity to shield against review of a patent via IPR.

    • Supreme Court Denied Certiorari Writ by St. Regis Mohawk Indian Tribe in Restatis® IPR

      Today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari by the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Tribe on the question (answered in the negative by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and the Federal Circuit) of whether tribal sovereign immunity could protect the tribe from being named as a party in an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding after Allergan assigned to the tribe its patents in IPR.

      To briefly recap, the issue arose over IPR Nos. IPR2016-01127, IPR2016-01128, IPR2016-01129, IPR2016-01130, IPR2016-01131, and IPR2016-01132 (and parallel IPRs filed by Petitioners Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and Akorn, Inc., which had been joined with Mylan’s IPRs) instituted against U.S. Patent Nos. 8,685,930, 8,629,111, 8,642,556, 8,633,162, 8,648,048, and 9,248,191, respectively. After the PTAB instituted IPRs against these six patents owned by Allergan and directed to its Restasis® product, Allergan assigned its rights in the patents to the Tribe in return for a license (see “Allergan Avails Itself of Sovereign Immunity”). The Tribe argued unsuccessfully before the Board that as rightful owner of the patents, the Board lost jurisdiction based on tribal sovereign immunity (see “Mohawk Nation Exercises Sovereign Immunity in Inter Partes Review”). The Board held that, as an issue of first impression, the Tribe had not borne its burden of showing it was entitled to the requested relief, and that the nature of the license left all substantive patent rights with Allergan, and thus that the company could amply represent the Tribe’s rights even in its absence (see “PTAB Denies St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Motion to Terminate IPRs based on Sovereign Immunity”).

    • Trademarks

      • Retromark Volume V: the last six months in trade marks

        Hot on the heels of last month’s 2019 edition of the Retromark conference, reviewed here, comes the fifth (how times flies) edition of Darren Meale of Simmons & Simmons’ Retromark rundown of notable trade mark cases over the past six months. Links to the four previous editions are at the end of this post. Enjoy!

    • Copyrights

      • We agree with EU, nods Britain at the Council of Ministers about this, er…

        The UK, the Republic of Ireland, France and Germany were among the 19 nations that today gave the thumbs-up to the EU’s Copyright Directive, meaning it should get pushed through the day after tomorrow.

        The Directive – a refreshing of European copyright law last updated in 2001 – is widely regarded as an attempt to curb the powers of the tech giants that have since dominated the dissemination of films, words and music everywhere. The political bloc has positioned it as “modernised rules fit for digital age”.

        The new rules include the hugely contentious article 17 and much-disputed article 15 – previously known as 13 and 11 respectively. The former has been branded meme-killer by its critics while its advocates maintain it protects creative rights.

        Tweaks to the law to do with parody and pastiche, however, mean that memes will live on long enough to be deemed uncool by the gate-keeping PFY in most offices by the time you know about them.

      • Legacy Music Industry Shouldn’t Get To Watch Over The Royalties Of Independent Songwriters

        Last year, a very strange thing happened in the copyright space: a pretty major update to copyright law was passed and it wasn’t that controversial. Leading up to that passage there had been plenty of concerns, but a compromise was worked out last fall that was… actually pretty good for everyone involved. It wasn’t how any sane society would craft copyright law from scratch, but the key aspects of the Music Modernization Act were to attempt to fix a lot of other really broken stuff. At the time we focused on the fact that it would help expedite moving some very old music into the public domain, which was great. But the much bigger deal to the music world was a reform of the mechanical licensing process for songwriters.

        As we discussed in walking through one of a few lawsuits that had been filed against music streaming platforms over mechanical licensing, it was such a complex area of copyright law that basically no one fully understood it. Every single copyright lawyer I spoke to in trying to understand it would give me a totally different answer. So part of the Music Modernization Act was to clear up the questions around mechanical licensing and internet services, making it easier for songwriters to actually get royalties they’re owed, without the convoluted process that used to be in place.

        As with all things, the devil is very much in the details, and suddenly things are looking a bit problematic. The law directs the Register of Copyrights to designate an entity to become the new “mechanical license collective” (MLC), effectively creating a brand new collection society for these mechanical royalties. The Copyright Office has an open comment period on this, which is about to end, and musician Zoe Keating has noticed that the entire process appears to be rigged to (of course) help divert money to the big music publishers and away from independent artists. She’s written a very detailed, but well worth reading, description of the problematic aspect of what’s happening, and is asking the Copyright Office to extend the comment period as more songwriters — especially independent ones, learn what’s going on and can weigh in.

      • As Expected, EU Nations Rubber Stamp EU Copyright Directive

        As was widely expected, the EU Council (made up of representatives of the EU member states) has officially rubber stamped the EU Copyright Directive that the EU Parliament passed a few weeks back. There had been some talk of various countries, such as Sweden, Germany and the UK possibly changing their vote. Sweden, in the end, actually did do so, but to stop the Directive, it was necessary for the UK or Germany to do so as well, and they did not.

        There is some irony in the UK (still a part of the EU for the moment) voting to approve this. After the EU Parliament passed the Directive, the UK’s Boris Johnson (who is somewhat famously buffoonish) tweeted about how this was yet another reason for the UK to leave the EU.

        [...]

        The only problem with this is that Boris’ own Tory government has been strongly supporting the law all along and, of course, voted happily for it today. Boris Johnson being full of shit is perhaps not newsworthy, but it’s at least worth pointing out just how silly the whole thing has become.

      • EU Article 13 Passed By Council Of The European Union

        he Council of the European Union passed the European Copyright Directive aka EU Article 13. In a vote held on Monday, April 15, 2019, the members of the EU council, consisting of Government Ministers from different European countries, moved the Copyright directive forward by a vote of 19 against 5.

        [...]

        When enforced, EU Article 13 will make social media websites responsible for the copyrighted content which its users post online. Currently, Facebook does so in full force. If you try to upload a video of yourself with copyrighted music playing in the background, Facebook tells you to remove it.

        The ideal Article 13, as EU lawmakers present it, should work similarly. Only it’d also make the original work of independent artists and creators barred from any copyright abuse.

      • Greenlighting ‘Censorship Machine,’ EU Adopts Controversial Copyright Rules

        The completion of the final hurdle of the new Copyright Directive comes after the European Parliament passed the rules last month—a move German MEP Julia Reda called a “dark day for internet freedom.”

        “With today’s agreement,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Monday, “we are making copyright rules fit for the digital age. Europe will now have clear rules that guarantee fair remuneration for creators, strong rights for users, and responsibility for platforms.”

        Not so, says the Save Your Internet campaign, which argues that the overhaul “only benefits big businesses.”

        The devil is in two provisions, which the Wikimedia Foundation summed up last month. They are Article 15, which was formerly called Article 11, and Article 17, formerly called 13.

      • Starz Issues Laughably Unbelievable Excuse And Apology For Taking Down Tweets

        This statement appears to differ, slightly, from the one they gave to Variety, where they sort of tried to imply that mysterious hackers were responsible, saying that the company had ‘recently incurred a security breach” which somehow (why?!?) “prompted the company to hire a third party for copyright enforcement.” I don’t see how a security breach would necessitate such a hiring. Nor do I see what that has to do with sending bogus takedowns, many of which appeared to come directly from Starz, and not from any third party. At the very least, Starz didn’t use the “security breach” claim in the statement it sent me.

        However, that does not make the statement any more believable. By my count, using Lumen Database (which might not be complete), The Social Element sent 42 DMCA takedowns to Twitter over this topic between April 8th and April 11th. Then Starz itself took over on Saturday the 13th and sent another 31 notices on Saturday and Sunday, for a total of 73 such notices. Both of the notices are notable for the lack of any information other than the links to the tweets, which would at least suggest that they may have been sent by the same individual or firm, who then changed who it claimed to actually be sending the takedowns.

      • What’s Wrong With the Music Modernization Act

        The Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act, signed into law by Donald Trump last October, was much heralded copyright reform — the first in twenty years. The legislation, a consolidation of the MMA, the Classics Act and the Allocation for Music Producers Act, was intended to modernize copyright-related issues for music and audio recordings in the digital age. In retrospect, it seem like less of a solution and more like a part of the problem.

        Pretty much everyone in the music industry agreed that the rate setting process for both mechanical and streaming royalties was antiquated. Having a central location for storing publishing and master ownership information for all recordings — as well as for obtaining digital mechanical licenses — would be ideal. There also needed to be payments to heritage artists whose music is broadcast on satellite services, and a clear system for paying producers and engineers for their share of the master recording income derived from performance.

        The MMA promised all that and more. The changes it brought about, however, came with a price.

        For starters, all digital service providers, which includes both streaming services as well as online music sellers, got a free pass (or “safe harbor”) for mechanical rights infringements that were not litigated prior to December 31, 2017. That meant that millions of dollars of previously unlicensed or unallocated streams and sales would go unaccounted. It also meant that the property rights vested in the creators of intellectual property were abrogated, as rights holders can not pursue infringement claims that might not have been known to them before the 2017 cut-off date.

      • Starz Really, Really Doesn’t Want You To Know That TorrentFreak Wrote About Leaked Shows, Or That Anyone Tweeted About It

        Something weird is going on with Starz over the past few days. Either it really, really doesn’t want you to know that a bunch of unreleased episodes of well known TV shows were recently leaked online. Or it really, really, really wants you to know all about it. Which one of those two things is true may depend on just how familiar whoever is manning the Starz copyright-takedown desk is with the concept of the Streisand Effect.

        You see, a week ago, TorrentFreak published the article linked above. This is a pretty typical TorrentFreak kind of article, noting that some high profile shows or movies have leaked, perhaps providing screenshots, but not providing any links or really telling anyone how to get the shows. It is just reporting that the leaks exist.

      • Stupid Battle Over YouTube Subcribers Now Includes A Takedown Order From A Court In India

        One of the stupidest fights over internet points has reached its latest nadir. It’s nadirs all the way down, tbh. If you’re interested, there’s an entire Wikipedia page with a blow-by-blow of YouTuber PewDiePie’s fight against Indian content conglomerate, T-Series. It starts with subscriber counts and ends with a court order. In between, there’s racism, hacked printers, billboard purchases, invective of all varieties, and this salvo from the controversial PewDiePie: a “diss track” called “Bitch Lasagna.”

        If you’re inclined to click through and assail yourself with “Bitch Lasagna,” you’ll be greeted with some of the worst white boy rapping since white boys started rapping. Robert Van Winkle is rolling over in his grave. [Note: My apologies to all of us: I've been informed Mr. Van Winkle is, unfortunately, still alive.] Contained in this video are some slurs against the country of India and its inhabitants — not all that unexpected for a diss track.

      • Congratulations to the new 62 CC Certificate Graduates and 7 Facilitators!

        From January to April 2019, Creative Commons hosted three CC Certificate courses and a Facilitators course to train the next cohort of Certificate instructors. Participants from Australia, Qatar, South Africa, Egypt, Indonesia, Canada, Argentina, United Kingdom, Colombia, Spain, Mexico, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and United States engaged in rigorous readings, assignments, discussions and quizzes. See examples of the participants’ assignments they’ve publicly shared under CC licenses. With these courses now complete, we are thrilled to announce 62 new CC Certificate graduates and 7 new CC Certificate facilitators!

      • BREAKING: Council adopts DSM Directive

        After the vote in the European Parliament, this morning the Council also voted in favour of the latest version of the Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market (DSM Directive).

      • EU Council of Ministers Approves Copyright Directive, Including Article 17 (13) – (Updated)

        The EU Council of Ministers has approved the Copyright Directive, which includes the controversial Article 17 (formerly 13). The legislation was voted through by a majority of EU ministers just a few minutes ago, despite opposition from Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland, and Sweden.

        [...]

        As the image above shows, several countries voted against adoption, including Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland, and Sweden. Belgium, Estonia, and Slovenia abstained.

        But in the final picture that just wasn’t enough, with both Germany and the UK voting in favor, the Copyright Directive is now adopted.

        EU member states will now have two years to implement the law, which requires platforms like YouTube to sign licensing agreements with creators in order to use their content. If that is not possible, they will have to ensure that infringing content uploaded by users is taken down and not re-uploaded to their services.

      • U.S. Set-Top Box Warning Could Apply to Large Numbers of Streaming Pirates

        The Federal Communications Commission has issued an Enforcement Advisory that has the potential to affect large numbers of pirates in the United States. The FCC reports an increase in the marketing of streaming-capable set-top devices that do not comply with US law. Those who contravene relevant legislation face fines that can exceed $147,000 per violation.

GNU/Linux is Being Eaten Alive by Large Corporations With Their Agenda

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, OSDL, OSI at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Asset stripping GNU/LinuxAsset stripping the GNU

Summary: A sort of corporate takeover, or moneyed interests at the expense of our freedom, can be seen as a ‘soft coup’ whose eventual outcome would involve all or most servers in ‘the cloud’ (surveillance with patent tax as part of the rental fees) and almost no laptops/desktops which aren’t remotely controlled (and limit what’s run on them, using something like UEFI ‘secure boot’)

THE WEB is a noisy place. Many people have something to say and several people say that Microsoft “bought” the Linux Foundation (LF) 3 years ago. We keep seeing that claim. In many ways, today’s LF and Microsoft are “on the same page,” so to speak (“Microsoft Loves Linux”, WSL and so on).

“Jim Zemlin, who said his job was to pay Torvalds, pays himself and some colleagues more than he pays Torvalds, as the LF’s IRS filings reveal.”Weeks ago we saw Microsoft staff writing for the Open Source Initiative (OSI) after Microsoft had paid the Open Source Initiative a big bunch of money. Things change rapidly; neither the LF nor the OSI said anything at all about reports that Microsoft is still using patents against vendors that ship Linux. The President of the OSI has spoken on the subject (even as recently as two years ago), but that changed after Microsoft joined the OSI. We mentioned this a year and a half ago.

Going back to the LF, what exactly is it doing? Jim Zemlin, who said his job was to pay Torvalds, pays himself and some colleagues more than he pays Torvalds, as the LF’s IRS filings reveal. They might (by now) be paying themselves up to a million dollars each, tax-exempted, per year, in this ‘non-profit’. We think that the LF needs to improve, not be ended/disbanded. It started similarly to OSDL, but money and power appear to have corrupted it. The LF nowadays engages in a lot of political activities; it even brought in top officials from US politics. Its nature is largely political and it favours large corporations. About a year ago — seeing that LF was no ordinary foundation and was hardly about Linux anymore — a sentiment shared among journalists whom I spoke to — I decided to refer to it as “Zemlin PAC”, just like “Vista 10″ or similar wordplays.

“Months ago Torvalds ‘escorted’ himself out, came back weeks later (from that ‘penalty box’) and has said nothing particularly critical/negative since.”I think that at this moment in time the LF can do a lot better to restore trust. There are various timeline-related issues that led to people souring and distrusting LF, including removal of community members from the Board and adding Microsoft to it (because Microsoft paid). Then there’s the CoC controversy. It is formally called Code of Conduct and it applies to events, mailing lists etc. The LF’s site describes rules by which LF can remove (escort) people out of premises. Months ago Torvalds ‘escorted’ himself out, came back weeks later (from that ‘penalty box’) and has said nothing particularly critical/negative since. I was recently told that in FSF/LibrePlanet too someone was threatened with removal. I thus worry that this influence can continue to expand, reprimanding those who resist it using social means or social engineering.

Similarly, those who claimed to be protectors of Linux from patents turn out to be rather useless or even worse than useless since Microsoft joined them. The LOT Network, for instance, is just a patent pool, which claims to be defensive. If you check who’s behind it (foundations and management at present), you soon realise they are pro-software patents. Additionally, as Bruce Perens put it, OIN exists to protect software patents from us, not us from software patents. LOT is similar. Where does the LF stand on the subject? It never talks about it anymore. In the same message Perens called the LF a GPL infringers’ club (Microsoft is a serial GPL violator). Perens remains a key person in the OSI (he’s also OSD author), but nowadays he’s there among Microsoft staff.

“In the same message Perens called the LF a GPL infringers’ club (Microsoft is a serial GPL violator).”Our concerns are generally shared with many of our readers, one of whom wrote to say (all lowercase, formatting adapted a little but message contents preserved), “hey, red hat did get purchased shortly after github (though not by microsoft, they were purchased by ibm.) what is this, the 80s? “linux” is a lie lasting nearly 30 years. the lie is that linus torvalds created it, and there are multiple generations of people who make that mistake. he was given far too much credit — and people even attribute their “freedom” to his work. we will get back to that freedom in a minute. [...] simon phipps used to say that it’s simply a petty insignificant argument, like life of brian’s “peoples front of judea” vs. “judean peoples front.” the insignificant argument is that free software means anything apart from “open source.” that is an extremely disingenuous claim, given what open source has done for 22 years. no, it’s more like deliberately minimising the work and sacrifice from most of the world in world war ii, and giving all the credit to the americans for coming in later and winning it. the icing on the cake is that phipps conveniently ignores the fact that it is actually open source that started that petty argument themselves. (thanks eddie izzard) [...] “linus! where the fuck have you been?” [...] “having breakfast!” [...] “we are like free software, except better.” is a meme that has co-opted free software for more than 20 years. and it isn’t just co-opting, and rewriting history to paint themselves as more important — they take money for it as well! [..]. hating microsoft is “a disease”, according to torvalds. [...] in light of his recent comments that facebook is also “a disease”, (no argument there) one must ask about this blatant double standard– at what point exactly does a technology company go from being a company which the hatred of is ‘a disease’, to a company that is ‘a disease’ itself? how can torvalds tell the difference? because if he were consistent, he would say that “hating facebook is a disease”– but of course, it isn’t. [...] this is from you mentioning it on pirate.party: every time open source makes something free, something less free comes along for the ride. ubuntu tries to make universal packages — which require you to register for their apple-like app store, and which is now heavily promoting microsoft visual studio code, an ide which brings microsoft telemetry onto your “free” operating system. [..]. at worst, they can go back to the courts and present it as evidence that “yes, these developers (all free software developers) are stealing our property, and we wish to force them to stop.”– to end development of gnu and linux. at best, they can weasel out of any requirements to follow the license, which becomes void when issued by people who don’t “own” gnu and linux. and that seems like the most likely future — microsoft eventually not only rebranding linux (as azure) but relicensing it on their own terms, as “we clearly own it.” [...] important exception: and for the organisations that have met us halfway, and called it “gnu/linux” along with us? it would be unfair (or even dishonest) to pull the rug out from under them, and simply call it “gnu” in that context. insomuch as people only call the operating system “linux,” it is reasonable to call it gnu. recommended reading: benkler-complexity-and-humanity | zero-dollar-laptop | eff-statement-on-assange.”

Reader’s Claim That Rules Similar to the Code of Conduct (CoC) Were ‘Imposed’ on LibrePlanet and the FSF

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux at 7:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A conference

Summary: Restrictions on speech are said to have been spread and reached some of the most liberal circles, according to a credible veteran who opposes illiberal censorship

THE Linux Foundation (LF) isn’t what it seems from the outside. The name, the logo and the marketing make it look very “professional”, but what profession are these people? Well, the management is nontechnical and many come from marketing and branding (like Microsoft) rather than engineering and administration. It’s a cultural misfit.

“It’s a cultural misfit.”Having asked RMS (Richard Stallman) about the matter, and having exchanged a couple dozen E-mails per day (at most), we have been attempting to understand the difference between the Linux Foundation and the Free Software Foundation (FSF). Putting aside the FSFE gaffe last month (over copyright in the EU), we’re generally supportive of the FSF and its unofficial branches around the world (there is one in India too) because they focus on freedom rather than some brand or trademark. We also spoke to Alexandre Oliva (Red Hat and GNU) in an effort to verify claims that had been sent to us. This took weeks to fact-check and some of the claims remain to be proven because LibrePlanet, the FSF’s ‘equivalent’ of LF events, uses different terminology. One reader told us about “CoC for LibrePlanet drama,” but as it turns out we are hearing different stories. “At LibrePlanet,” says this reader, “I was surprised to see an old friend who really wanted to talk to me about all this CoC stuff. In fact, it was someone who tried to recruit me into being on the CoC staff for the next Hope. At first, I was interested, but I never went.

“At any rate — the word was, there was a forced CoC this year for LibrePlanet and RMS was like, “but not me, right?” 2 days before LibrePlanet, potential sponsors like SFC found out that yes, RMS will abide by the CoC. RMS told me he doesn’t make hiring decisions these days, but there is an opening in outreach. When I went to find this opening, I could not find it. So, I when to IRC and witnessed a user being threatened by the CoC. I freaked out. Of all the places I had thought I’d be free from censorship; it was the FSF event, right…

“It was really ridiculous. Anyway, I wonder if you had a chance to ask Stallman, the man himself…”

My conversations with him are generally private (unless I am given permission to share these), but the impression I got is that he opposes policies that stifle criticism of corporations (as opposed to individual people). Our reader wanted to know more: “What happened with the CoC at LibrePlanet?!”

Or more pertinent questions:

  • “Was there any pressure to implement a CoC — and apparently, even in IRC, enforce this?”
  • “Did he feel bullied into agreeing to the CoC?”
  • “Was there pressure from potential sponsors to incorporate a Code of Conduct?”
  • “Was the SFC that sponsor…?”
  • “Isn’t it true the former campaign manager of the FSF is speaking at LinuxFest Northwest about enforcing Codes of Conduct…?”

“If you want,” the reader noted, “I think there’s a story there… if dude was telling me the truth, which I have no reason to doubt him. Known him 2 decades.”

Those who are mentioned likely know who’s who, but we’re not mentioning names here (we keep it impersonal). We don’t want to be accused of emboldening personal attacks. This angle of the story has generally required me to do a lot of editing after asking around without divulging some identities/names.

“I, myself,” explained the reader, “am curious about what I had heard about the Code of Conduct enforcement at LibrePlanet and how it seemed RMS was pressured into abiding by a CoC. That, in itself, is very disturbing to me. I don’t know what exactly is going on over there, but it looks like somehow, they are pressuring him to abide by a CoC.”

Corporate Media Will Never Cover the EPO’s Violations of the Law With Respect to Patent Scope

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 4:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO management is giving out patents it knows to be bunk, invalid

Special water
They would patent ‘special’ water and air too (if it wouldn’t have caused backlash)

Summary: The greed-driven gold rush for patents has resulted in a large pool of European Patents that have no legitimacy and are nowadays associated with low legal certainty; the media isn’t interested in covering such a monumental disaster that poses a threat to the whole of Europe

THE domain of patents rarely receives media coverage; it’s certainly uncommon in Europe. There are some ads (for law firms) disguised as ‘news’, but lawyers and attorneys aren’t journalists and their ‘coverage’ or ‘columns’ are just shameless self-promotion and lobbying. It’s all about money.

“They continue to spam Scottish media, marketing European Patents under the guise of Brexit ‘news’.”Here’s a new example from yesterday. HeraldScotland published this fake ‘article’ from “Graham Murnane [who] is a qualified UK and European Patent Attorney based in Murgitroyd’s Glasgow office.”

So a Scottish patent law firm is at it again. They continue to spam Scottish media, marketing European Patents under the guise of Brexit ‘news’. Remember last week’s example from Marks & Clerk, which used another Scottish paper to insult Scotland and urge people to pursue patents at Marks & Clerk? It was far from the first time. They had done it before in Scottish media — a fact that we documented in articles such as:

  1. Marks & Clerk is Still Pushing Patent Maximalism Agenda in Europe and Britain, Including UPC/UPCA/Unitary Patent (UP)
  2. Marks & Clerk Blames Battistelli’s Victims, the Boards of Appeal, Whose Job Guarded Patent Quality
  3. Software Patents Are a Dying Breed, So Marks & Clerk and Other Legal Monoliths Promote the EPO’s Buzzwords (Loopholes)
  4. UPC Puff Piece in the Scottish Media is Just an Advertisement by Marks & Clerk

The latest puff piece says this:

In these times of change in relation to many things European, one thing that won’t change is how businesses protect their innovations.

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them that the UK is, and will continue to be, part of the European Patent Office (EPO).

The EPO is not an EU institution, so whatever happens to our relationship with the EU, the UK will continue to be an EPO member state.

Well, duh. How is that even news? But how valid would the patents be in the UK? They aim for quantity now, not quality.

Yesterday the EPO wrote: “The Maltese and Moroccan #patent registers are now available via deep links from the European Patent Register.”

As if there’s much of value (in the patents sense) to be found there. The EPO just wants to add all countries to its group/syndication, much like NATO, rendering nobody safe from litigation with fake European Patents (or attacks from Russia in NATO’s case).

“They aim for quantity now, not quality.”When we speak of fake European Patents we mean European Patents that would not survive a court’s scrutiny and must therefore not be granted in the first place. Even SUEPO (Staff Union of the European Patent Office) recently complained about these.

The EPO is again boasting about software patents and applications (“Europe has witnessed a marked upturn in blockchain patent filing since 2015, with more than two thirds of applications being filed at the EPO,” the EPO wrote yesterday). European software patents called “blockchain” are not valid and that’s what these are; they’re just software patents, by the EPO's own admission. António Campinos promotes this nonsense in his “blog”, so he too is personally culpable. Will all these patents fall in an avalanche some time soon? Maybe.

“Will all these patents fall in an avalanche some time soon? Maybe.”A firm that mentioned it before (as we noted at the time regarding judges’ lack of impartiality) had posted about it in its own site, perhaps realising just how realistic the prospect is (that software patents would all be invalidated). Haven’t we learned from what happened a few weeks ago in the UK Supreme Court?

Mondaq has this fresh copy of an article by Gordon Harris and Paul Inman (Gowling WLG) on fake European Patents i.e. patents EPO granted only to be found invalid by British courts. In their own words:

On the other hand, Lord Hodge considered it well established that although not bound to do so, the courts in the UK “should normally follow the settled jurisprudence for the EPO (especially decisions of its Enlarged Board of Appeal) on the interpretation of the European Patent Convention in the interests of uniformity, especially when the question is one of principle”.

Today’s European Patents are very dubious and even EPO staff complains about these. SUEPO estimates that tens of thousands of fake European Patents are being granted every year (non-compliant w.r.t. EPC).

A Linux Foundation Run by People Who Reject Linux is Like a Children’s Charity Whose Management Dislikes Children

Posted in GNU/Linux at 3:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Monetising’ a brand, that’s all

Linuxmark

Summary: We remain concerned about the lack of commitment that the Linux Foundation has for Linux; much of the Linux Foundation’s Board, for example, comes from hostile companies

ASIDE from the EPO and USPTO coverage we’ve begun covering Linux Foundation matters. We’ve resumed taking a look at issues we used to cover a decade ago, seeing that a decade later things have only gotten a lot worse. We probably ought to have covered it before, but it didn’t seem like a priority in the wake of Alice and EPO scandals (2014).

“The problem is that there’s no loyalty. These people don’t even use Linux, they just use the brand “Linux”.”Over the past couple of months we’ve been exchanging messages with a lot of people, some of whom were regular readers and others were high-profile names, including former insiders. We’ve also asked site members to scan some tweets and we found some other interesting things, such as Jono Bacon no longer using GNU/Linux. He uses a “Mac”-branded PC now, just like Jim Zemlin, whom he calls a friend. So much for “Linux” Foundation…

The Foundation is nowadays all about Zemlin and his pack (or PAC). They sell press coverage. You pay, they cover your company. They have insiders in the media. Inside the Boards.

The problem is that there’s no loyalty. These people don’t even use Linux, they just use the brand “Linux”. They enrich themselves (salaries in the millions) under the guise of “administration” and it rarely seems like Linux itself is a priority. The deeper we look, the worse it seems, so we shall continue our series later today.

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