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04.17.19

Links 17/4/2019: Qt 5.12.3 Released, Ola Bini Arrested (Political Stunts)

Posted in News Roundup at 4:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Entroware’s Linux laptops now available with up to Intel Core i9, NVIDIA RTX 2080

      UK-based Entroware sells a line of computers that ship with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed, ranging from the 14 inch Orion, which sells for £550 ($720) and up to the 17 inch Helios mobile workstation, which goes for £1,700 ($2,220) and up.

      The company has just announced upgrades for several models, bringing support for up to a desktop-class 9th-gen Intel Core i9-9900K processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics in the Helios model.

  • Server

    • Do We Have More Kubernetes Distributions Than We Need?

      Kubernetes itself—meaning the source code you can download from kubernetes.io—is not very useful on its own. Setting up a Kubernetes cluster using the source code would require you to compile the code and set up a server environment (or, in most cases, a cluster of servers) to host it, install it, configure it, set up tools to manage it and update it all on your own.

      That’s a lot of work, and it’s not a realistic way for most people to use Kubernetes. That’s why a number of companies have created Kubernetes distributions. The distributions provide not just a preconfigured version of Kubernetes itself, but also other important tools for installing and working with Kubernetes. Many distributions also include host operating systems. Some even give you hosting infrastructure in the form of IaaS in a public cloud.

      Kubernetes is not unique in spawning an ecosystem of distributions. The Linux kernel has done the same thing. So have other complex software platforms, inlcuding Spark, Hadoop and OpenStack.

    • Shuttleworth: OpenStack made mistakes, but Kubernetes not a replacement

      Pity OpenStack. Celebrating its 10th birthday this coming October, the open-source cloud was conceived as the future: the open-alternative to Jeff Bezos’ proprietary behemoth.

      A decade on and despite success among telcos and internal IT departments, OpenStack is now being mentioned in the same breath as Kubernetes – just not in a good way.

      There’s a burgeoning discussion as to whether it’s possible to wire a serverless cloud using open-source containers instead of OpenStack.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • A Year Later, Speculative Page Fault Code Revised For Possible Performance Benefits

      It’s been nearly one year already since the previous patch series working on speculative page faults for the Linux kernel were sent out for review. Fortunately, IBM’s Laurent Dufour has once again updated these patches against the latest code and sent them out for the newest round of discussions.

    • Linux 5.0.8

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.0.8 kernel.

      All users of the 5.0 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.0.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.0.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.19.35
    • Linux 4.14.112
    • Linux 4.9.169
    • Support for Persistent Memory

      Persistent memory is still sort of a specialty item in Linux—RAM that retains its state across boots. Dave Hansen recently remarked that it was a sorry state of affairs that user applications couldn’t simply use persistent memory by default. They had to be specially coded to recognize and take advantage of it. Dave wanted the system to treat persistent memory as just regular old memory.

      His solution was to write a new driver that would act as a conduit between the kernel and any available persistent memory devices, managing them like any other RAM chip on the system.

      Jeff Moyer was skeptical. He pointed out that in 2018, Intel had announced memory modes for its Optane non-volatile memory. Memory modes would allow the system to access persistent memory as regular memory—apparently exactly what Dave was talking about.

      But Keith Busch pointed out that Optane memory modes were architecture-specific, for Intel’s Optane hardware, while Dave’s code was generic, for any devices containing persistent memory.

      Jeff accepted the correction, but he still pointed out that persistent memory was necessarily slower than regular RAM. If the goal of Dave’s patch was to make persistent memory available to user code without modifying that code, then how would the kernel decide to give fast RAM or slow persistent memory to the user software? That would seem to be a crucial question, he said.

    • Linux kernel-bypassing Quobyte plug-in goes with the TensorFlow for faster file access

      Linux-loving hyperscale types at Euro startup Quobyte have pushed out a plug-in for its Data Centre File System, used in HPC-style workloads, that enables TensorFlow apps to access its files directly instead of having to traipse through the Linux kernel.

    • Quobyte plugs in to Google’s TensorFlow

      HPC file system supplier Quobyte has added a plug-in for TensorFlow that by-passes the Linux kernel to speed machine learning.

      TensorFlow machine learning apps that apply inference and model training on servers with attached GPUs can use the plug-in to go direct to Quobyte files.

      Berlin-based Quobyte provides scale-out, parallel access, distributed Data Centre File System software, supporting file, object and block access, including S3 and HDFS. The software supports and optimises the use of NVMe, SAS and SATA SSDs and hard disk drives. The company said its software is self-healing and fault-tolerant.

    • Linux Foundation

    • Graphics Stack

      • GLFW 3.3 Adds Vulkan macOS Support Via MoltenVK, Better HiDPI & Scaling

        GLFW is the traditionally OpenGL library (now also encompassing the Vulkan graphics API) that offers a basic API for the creation of windows/contexts/surfaces across software platforms. GLFW works for both desktop and mobile, various devices, and works across all major operating systems while being under the liberal Zlib license. GLFW 3.3 is now available with some exciting enhancements.

      • Intel’s New Iris Driver Gets Speed Boost From Changing The OpenGL Vendor String

        Following yesterday’s Intel Iris vs. i965 OpenGL benchmarks against Windows 10, there is already an optimization out of our latest testing as a result.

        Iris driver lead developer Kenneth Graunke of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center landed a change in Mesa 19.1 today to really help out the performance in at least Valve’s Portal game. In our benchmarks yesterday, Iris was coming in at 52 FPS to i965′s 69 FPS and Windows 10 at 75 FPS. With the quick change in Mesa Git today, Ken finds on at least his system to get 1.8x better Portal performance where Iris equates to being 3.86% faster than the i965 driver.

      • CLVK Still Making Progress As Experimental OpenCL Over Vulkan

        We’ve seen many efforts like DXVK that are mapping Direct3D atop Vulkan, efforts like Zink in getting OpenGL over Vulkan, and less popular but still progressing is getting OpenCL — at least a reasonable subset of it — working under Vulkan. That’s what the CLVK project is about and it’s been making more progress since we last looked at it on Phoronix.

        [...]

        Since last writing about CLVK, it’s picked up support for Talvos as a Vulkan emulator/interpreter for handling SPIR-V modules on the CPU and thus allowing CLVK to operate without a Vulkan-enabled GPU.

      • Mesa 19.1 Likely To See Radeon “RADV” Vulkan FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync Support

        Mesa 19.1 is now even more exciting as RADV’s co-lead, Bas Nieuwenhuizen has requested the Radeon Vulkan’s FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync support be a blocker bug for this quarterly Mesa update.

        As explained last week, RADV’s FreeSync support has been held up by lacking a configuration system to selectively enable the functionality when not dealing with any compositor, multimedia program, or other applications where this variable rate refresh technology could intefere and to only enable FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync for full-screen games. That’s been the blocker while a patch has been available for flipping on VRR for RADV.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • I Can’t Believe I’m Writing This Linux Article About Loving The Xfce Desktop Environment

      My Choose Linux co-host Joe Ressington swears by Xfce. He has no interest in eye candy. He simply wants to get his production work done. I also appreciate a distraction-free environment (like elementary OS), but I crave a bit of elegance and visuals that don’t bore me.

      Every time I looked at screenshots of Xfce, though — even from the official website — I was reminded of something from the days of Windows 2000. Grey. Archaic. Uninteresting. It struck me as as one of the few alternatives people with anemic PCs are forced to use. MATE is one of those alternatives, but it comes off as sharper and more modern despite also thriving on low-end hardware. Even if it is obsessed with the color green.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt 5.12.3 Released

        Qt 5.12.3, the third patch release of Qt 5.12 LTS, is released today. While not adding new features, the Qt 5.12.3 release provides a number of bug fixes, as well as performance and other improvements.

        Compared to Qt 5.12.2, the new Qt 5.12.3 provides almost 200 bug fixes. For details of the most important changes, please check the Change files of Qt 5.12.3.

      • KDE Plasma 5.16 Pre-Beta Run Through

        In this video, we are having a look at the pre-Beta version of KDE Plasma 5.16. It still have a few bugs but it is expected.

      • Qt Creator 4.9.0 released with language support, QML support, profiling and much more

        Yesterday, the team behind Qt released the latest version, Qt Creator 4.9.0, a cross-platform software development framework for embedded and desktop applications. This release comes with programming language support, changes to UI, QML support and much more.

      • Qt Creator hits 4.9 with ever-growing language skills

        Qt Creator 4.9 has been released, extending support for the language server protocol and improving diagnostics for C++ developers.

        The language server protocol was added in version 4.8 but can now work with document outlines, find usages and – using code actions – lets the language server suggest fixes or refactoring actions at a specific place in a piece of code. The custom highlighting file parser, meanwhile, has been replaced with KSyntaxHighlighting – the library also used in KDE.

        Another slew of changes improve C++ support, with – amongst other things – an option to format code instead of only indenting it, a tooltip button for copying and ignoring diagnostics, and an option to synchronise ‘Include Hierarchy’ with the current document.

      • Qt Creator 4.9 uses KSyntaxHighlighting

        As you can read in the official Creator 4.9.0 release announcement, Qt Creator now uses the KSyntaxHighlighting Framework for providing the generic highlighting.

        This is a nice step for the wider adoption of this MIT licensed part of the KDE Frameworks.

        And this is not just an one-way consumption of our work.

        The framework got actively patches back that make it more usable for other consumers, too, like Kate ;=)

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 130 released

        Just a couple of days after the release of IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 130, the next release is available. This is an emergency update with various bug fixes and a large number of security fixes.

      • Linspire Enterprise Server 2019 Released [Ed: Linspire still sending data to Microsoft]

        Today the PC / Opensystems development team is pleased to announce the release of Linspire Enterprise server, our high-performance solution to SMB customers who need constant uptime coupled with reliability, scalability, and flexibility. LES 2019 is well suited to web, application, file and print services; it can just as easily be deployed as a thin client server or virtual machine host. The LTS server kernel 4.18 will offer rock-solid for any workload you throw at LES 2019. Linspire Enterprise Server is part of our Linspire Enterprise Services offering which includes Linspire Embedded Desktop and Linspire Community Server.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Announcing Mageia 7 Beta 3

        Everyone at Mageia is very happy to get the final beta release before Mageia 7 out for testing! We all hope that this release builds on the quality of the previous two beta releases and that with the extra tests from the community will put Mageia 7 in a good place for the coming release candidate.

        There is still lots to be done before the final release, and the more tests that we can get, the better. There have been large updates to Qt and Plasma, as well as some other key components since beta 2, with the new artwork for Mageia 7 almost ready for integration too.

      • Mageia 7 Beta 3 Arrives With KDE Plasma 5.15.4 + Linux 5.0
    • Gentoo Family

      • Gentoo News: Nitrokey partners with Gentoo Foundation to equip developers with USB keys

        The Gentoo Foundation has partnered with Nitrokey to equip all Gentoo developers with free Nitrokey Pro 2 devices. Gentoo developers will use the Nitrokey devices to store cryptographic keys for signing of git commits and software packages, GnuPG keys, and SSH accounts.

        Thanks to the Gentoo Foundation and Nitrokey’s discount, each Gentoo developer is eligible to receive one free Nitrokey Pro 2. To receive their Nitrokey, developers will need to register with their @gentoo.org email address at the dedicated order form.

        A Nitrokey Pro 2 Guide is available on the Gentoo Wiki with FAQ & instructions for integrating Nitrokeys into developer workflow.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Kubernetes Cluster vs Master Node

        In Software engineering, a cluster resembles a group of nodes that work together to distribute the work load. Additionally clustering helps in fault tolerance, by having a cluster acting as a secondary (backup) to a primary cluster.

      • The Bright (green) Lights of Denver

        You may have read some of the release notes or press coverage from the recent release of OpenStack Stein, in which case you’ll know that Stein introduced multi-factor authentication receipts for Keystone. This really just completes the work that was originally begun in the Ocata release, making it easier to implement a challenge/response mechanism in your OpenStack environment. Multi-factor authentication is quickly becoming the norm in everything from free online email services, to social media sites and more – catching up with the security that most, if not all online banking services have been offering for some time now.

      • How Big is a Container, Really?

        One of the first questions in any discussion about cluster sizing tends to be “How many containers are you running?”. While this is a good data point (especially if you are pushing the scheduler to its limit) it doesn’t show the whole story.
        We tend to abstract out a container as this homogeneous building block that represents any workload.

        This abstraction has a lot of value for learning how containers work and how the system treats all workloads similarly (which is hugely valuable). However, it falls down when we start looking at planning our hardware requirements.

      • Two New Open Source Projects From SAP: Dan Lahl

        In this episode of Let’s Talk, Daniel Lahl, Vice President (Product Marketing) – SAP talks about the two new Open Source projects at SAP.

      • A Special Offer for SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems Early Adopters

        In my blog, “Is time running out for your SAP Linux support?”, I talked about SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications 11 SP4 soon reaching its March 31, 2019 end date for General Support. This date has passed. To maintain support you have a choice of either upgrading to a currently supported version or adding Long Term Service Pack Support (LTSS). But if you’re an early adopter of SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems, then it’s not just a matter of upgrading the Linux OS. You need to migrate your data from Big Endian to Little Endian format. Also, your data is still probably in an SAP HANA 1.0 database so you’ll also need to migrate to SAP HANA 2.0. All of this can take significant time and effort.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Cloud images, qemu, cloud-init and snapd spread tests

            I found myself wanting an official Debian unstable cloud image so I could use it in spread while testing snapd. I learned it is easy enough to create the images yourself but then I found that Debian started providing raw and qcow2 cloud images for use in OpenStack and so I started exploring how to use them and generalize how to use arbitrary cloud images.

          • Industrial & Embedded Linux: Looking Ahead

            I recently returned from an extended visit to Germany, where my colleagues and I kept busy attending conferences, visiting customers and partners. We travelled around the country, talking to many, many people at dozens of companies about embedded Linux. We confirmed existing trend data, and gained exciting new insights! Now that I’m back, I’ll summarize key takeaways here.

            We started off at Hannover Messe, the mother of all trade shows. Billed as ‘The world’s leading trade show for industrial technology,’ the attendees occupy every hotel, hostel and spare bedroom within 100 km of Hannover for the week. The booths themselves are massive; something to behold. I suspect the quickest path through all the halls would take hours of walking. We only scratched the surface, it was a tremendous experience!

            [...]

            Each time we explained the benefits of Ubuntu; our pedigree in the cloud, and the services we offer, including support, long-term maintenance and hardware certification. There was often a sense of strong alignment with the needs & wants being described to us, which was both gratifying and exciting! Lastly, some of the more forward-thinking companies were already planning for their futures managing containers and packages, they were pretty excited to hear about snapcraft.io.

          • 2 Ways to Upgrade Ubuntu 18.04/18.10 To Ubuntu 19.04 (GUI & Terminal)

            Ubuntu 19.04, codenamed Disco Dingo, will be released on April 18, 2019. This tutorial is going to you 2 ways to upgrade Ubuntu 18.04 and Ubuntu 18.10 to 19.04. The first method uses the graphical update manger and the second method uses command line. Usually you use the graphical update manager to upgrade Ubuntu desktop and use command line to upgrade Ubuntu server, but the command-line method works for desktops too.

          • Upgrade Ubuntu 18.04 to Ubuntu 19.04 Directly From Command Line

            In the last article, I explained how to upgrade Ubuntu 18.04 and Ubuntu 18.10 to Ubuntu 19.04. However, because Ubuntu 18.10 is stilled supported by the Canonical company, Ubuntu 18.04 users need to upgrade to 18.10 first and follow the same process to upgrade to 19.04. This tutorial will be showing you how to upgrade Ubuntu 18.04 directly to Ubuntu 19.04 from command line, bypassing Ubuntu 18.10.

          • How to Upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 from 18.10, Right Now

            We’re a mere day away from the final, stable release of Ubuntu 19.04 — and based on the results of recent intentions poll, a titan-sized troupe of you plan to upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 as soon as it arrives!

            But why wait? You can upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 from Ubuntu 18.10 right now if you want.

            Sure, you’ll be a day or so early, and thus technically running the development version, but since the entire Ubuntu archive is in freeze, and there are no show-stopping issues affecting upgrades to report, it’s not a terrible idea.

            Just install any last minute updates that arrive and, voila, you’ll be on the GA build like the rest of the world.

            Of course, the main purpose of this post is to help those of you looking to upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 from 18.10 after the release is out on April 18.

            You don’t need to do a fresh install to run the latest (and I think greatest) version of the Ubuntu Linux operating system yet — no-sir!

          • ZFS Indications Have Us Already Eager For Ubuntu 19.10

            While Ubuntu 19.04 isn’t even coming out until tomorrow, the indications around Ubuntu desktop ZFS support and functionality likely debuting the next cycle has us already quite eager for the Ubuntu 19.10 release coming out in October.

            We’ve been anxiously clamoring for more details on the Ubuntu desktop ZFS plans as part of their new desktop installer initiative and much more than simply offering ZFS On Linux (ZoL) that they’ve been doing through their archive in recent years. In order to get this support ready before next year’s Ubuntu 20.04 Long Term Support release, they need to have the initial work ready for Ubuntu 19.10 to ensure sufficient testing pre-LTS cycle.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint Founder Calls for Better Developer Support

              Linux Mint is among the most popular and seemingly most easy to use Linux distributions. The Ubuntu-based distribution has built its loyal user base and has been growing ever since. However, the founder of Linux Mint seems to be burning out.

              In the latest blog post, Linux Mint founder Clement ‘Clem’ Lefebvre wrote that he didn’t enjoy the latest development cycle as two of the most talented developers have been away. The project couldn’t make the performance improvements it expected.

              “Boosting performance in the Muffin window manager hasn’t been, and still isn’t, straight forward,” he wrote.

            • One Year Leading Ubuntu Studio

              I hardly know how to describe this entire past year. If I had one word to describe it, that would be “surreal.”
              Just a little over a year ago, I answered a call to put together a council for Ubuntu Studio. The project leader at the time couldn’t commit the time to lead, and the project was failing. As someone who was using open source software for audio production at the time, and at the time using Fedora Jam, I saw Ubuntu Studio as too important of a project to let die. I just had no idea how dire the situation was, or how it had even ended up that way.
              With the release of 18.04 LTS Beta around the corner, I knew something had to be done, and fast. So, I jumped-in, feet first.
              Ubuntu Studio, as it turns out, was on life support. It hadn’t been worked on, save a few bugfixes here and there, for two years. Many considered it a dead project, but somehow, the plug never got pulled. I was determined to save it.
              I had many connections and sought a lot of advice. We got the council going, and since I was running the meetings, I became the chair. Then, I acted as the release manager. However, I wasn’t quite comfortable with signing-off on a release that would be supported for three years. I was advised by those already involved with the Ubuntu release team that it might be a good idea to have Ubuntu Studio 18.04 be a non-LTS. I presented this idea to the council, and they agreed.
              Ubuntu Studio 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” was released as a non-LTS. The community was unhappy with this decision since now that meant those that only use LTS, especially in professional applications, were feeling left out. Eventually we figured out a solution, but not until much later, and that became the Ubuntu Studio Backports PPA.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Survey says: Enterprise open source is inventing the future of software

    We don’t need to ask if enterprises are using open source. They are, and we know because we’re helping many of them with their open source journeys. But how do they think about open source, why do they choose it, and what do they intend to do next? Well, those are questions we wanted to pose to IT leaders—so we did. Today we’re excited to share our findings in a first-ever report conducted by Illuminas and sponsored by Red Hat, “The State of Enterprise Open Source.”

  • Red Hat survey finds we’re living in an open-source world [Ed: But Red Hat sold itself to a proprietary software company and had considered Microsoft also]

    Some people still insist open source and Linux are fighting a war against the evils of proprietary software. Actually, we won that war years ago. The latest Red Hat State of Enterprise Open Source report, based on 950 interviews with worldwide enterprise IT leaders, makes that crystal clear. Only a mere 1% of enterprises dismiss the importance of open-source software.

    [...]

    Historically, businesses turn to open source software because it’s cheaper: 33% of enterprise users count it’s lower total cost of ownership (TCO) as open-source’s chief benefit (but “enterprise open source is increasingly used not because it’s cheaper — though it often is — but because it’s genuinely better software.” And 29% turn to open source because it gives them access to the latest innovations. For example, big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are all built almost entirely on open-source software.

    Right behind those, when asked what open source’s top benefits were, respondents pointed to better security, higher quality software, access to support, and the power to customize software.

    Yet another reason to embrace open source, according to a New York-based IT leader, was: “For us, this is our way to become more agile. That’s our biggest push. We don’t want dependency upon these proprietary companies. We want those shackles to be broken.” Simultaneously, “We still want support because we’re not ready to take off the guardrails.”

    On the other hand, security remains a concern: 38% of those surveyed identified security as the top barrier. That’s because, unless you keep on top of open-source code, you may miss security patches and fixes. The most well known such case was when Equifax exposed 143 million Americans’ credit data, thanks to not updating Apache Struts.

  • IoT development matures, according to Eclipse Foundation survey

    Internet of Things developers are focused on cloud platforms, home automation, and industrial deployments with most devices based on ARM, according to an Eclipse Foundation survey.

    Eclipse Foundation surveyed 1,700 developers and found that they are increasingly working on commercial IoT projects.

  • Open Source Is Important To 99% Enterprises, Red Hat Survey Finds

    For many enterprises, open source technologies are becoming an integral part of their businesses and the way they do things. Technology giants like Google and Microsoft are also acknowledging the power of open source — Google Cloud’s recent partnership with companies like Elastic, MongoDB, Redis Labs, Neo4j, and Confluent is a testament to the same.

    But what about the actual extent of this open source revolution? Is it limited to just a bunch of top-tier companies that get just enough press coverage to bring their open source endeavors into the limelight? Well, Linux giant Red Hat’s “The State of Enterprise Open Source” is here to answer some important questions.

  • What Is the State of Enterprise Open-Source Software?

    Open source has evolved over the past two decades into a cornerstone of the modern IT landscape.

    At the core of the open-source revolution is the concept of enterprise open source, which is software that is backed and supported in a way that makes it easier for enterprises to consume and use in a stable, predictable manner. One of the leading vendors in the enterprise open-source space has long been Red Hat, which has a growing list of enterprise open-source offerings, including its namesake Linux platform, developer, cloud and container offerings.

    On April 16, Red Hat released its annual State of Enterprise Open Source report, gauging the landscape for adoption and usage, based on 950 interviews with IT leaders worldwide. In this eWEEK Data Points article, we look at some of the highlights of report.

  • The Ecuadorean Authorities Have No Reason to Detain Free Software Developer Ola Bini

    Hours after the ejection of Julian Assange from the London Ecuadorean embassy last week, police officers in Ecuador detained the Swedish citizen and open source developer Ola Bini. They seized him as he prepared to travel from his home in Quito to Japan, claiming that he was attempting to flee the country in the wake of Assange’s arrest. Bini had, in fact, booked the vacation long ago, and had publicly mentioned it on his twitter account before Assange was arrested.

    Ola’s detention was full of irregularities, as documented by his lawyers. His warrant was for a “Russian hacker” (Bini is neither); he was not read his rights, allowed to contact his lawyer nor offered a translator.

    The charges against him, when they were finally made public, are tenuous. Ecuador’s general prosecutor has stated that Bini was accused of “alleged participation in the crime of assault on the integrity of computer systems” and attempts to destabilize the country. The “evidence” seized from Ola’s home that Ecuadorean police showed journalists to demonstrate his guilt was nothing more than a pile of USB drives, hard drives, two-factor authentication keys, and technical manuals: all familiar property for anyone working in his field.

    Ola is a free software developer, who worked to improve the security and privacy of the Internet for all its users. He has worked on several key open source projects, including JRuby, several Ruby libraries, as well as multiple implementations of the secure and open communication protocol OTR. Ola’s team at ThoughtWorks contributed to Certbot, the EFF-managed tool that has provided strong encryption for millions of websites around the world.

    Like many people working on the many distributed projects defending the Internet, Ola has no need to work from a particular location. He traveled the world, but chose to settle in Ecuador because of his love of that country and of South America in general. At the time of his arrest, he was putting down roots in his new home, including co-founding Centro de Autonomia Digital, a non-profit devoted to creating user-friendly security tools, based out of Ecuador’s capital, Quito.

  • To Ola Bini, a Political Prisoner Caught Up in the Assange Debacle

    Dear Ola,

    The last time we had a long conversation, it was about the night. We were at a hotel in South America, where the ambient noise near your room was fairly loud. By ambient noise, I mean music. There was a band playing, a bar in motion, people happy for the evening. You said that it was impossible for you to sleep with noise. I asked if you ever considered a white noise machine. You laughed, saying that the white noise would bother you more than anything. We left it at that. You went to your room and probably stayed up all night, looking at the ceiling, thinking about the mysteries of the internet or of software, or else wondering about the long silences of the winter from your Swedish childhood.

    When word came that you had been removed from a flight by the Ecuadorian police on April 11 and that you were being held in detention, I thought immediately about how you would be able to sleep. I wondered where you had been detained and whether the cell would be noisy. Then, as news trickled out that you were not being charged, but merely held in the airport and interrogated, I thought about that band, the white noise machine, the laughter of the people. How far away that must seem as you sit now in a cell in Quito, Ecuador.

    You are not the first of my friends to be imprisoned over the past 12 months. The Bangladeshi photographer and intellectual Shahidul Alam spent 100 days in a Dhaka prison last year. Shahidul, a sensitive and decent man, had gone on television to say that his government had failed its population, particularly the young children who merely wanted to be safe as they walked to school. For his remarks, Shahidul was arrested, interrogated, and then jailed. His crime was simply to speak with honesty about the collapse of basic human behavior in our kind of societies.

  • Daniel Stenberg: One year in still no visa [Ed: Is the country which has just kidnapped Assange after Chelsea Manning used GNU WGet to download evidence of crimes blacklisting the developer of Curl?]

    One year ago today. On the sunny Tuesday of April 17th 2018 I visited the US embassy in Stockholm Sweden and applied for a visa. I’m still waiting for them to respond.

    My days-since-my-visa-application counter page is still counting. Technically speaking, I had already applied but that was the day of the actual physical in-person interview that served as the last formal step in the application process. Most people are then getting their visa application confirmed within weeks.

    Initially I emailed them a few times after that interview since the process took so long (little did I know back then), but now I haven’t done it for many months. Their last response assured me that they are “working on it”.

    Lots of things have happened in my life since last April. I quit my job at Mozilla and started a new at wolfSSL, again working for a US based company. One that I cannot go visit.

    During this year I missed out on a Mozilla all-hands, I’ve been invited to the US several times to talk at conferences that I had to decline and a friend is getting married there this summer and I can’t go. And more.

    Going forward I will miss more interesting meetings and speaking opportunities and I have many friends whom I cannot visit. This is a mild blocker to things I would want to do and it is an obstacle to my profession and career.

  • Platform9 Launches Open Source Kubernetes Tools

    SaaS-managed hybrid cloud company Platform9 has launched Klusterkit – a set of three open source Kubernetes tools. With these tools, organizations can deploy and operate production-grade Kubernetes clusters in air-gapped, on-premises environments.

    The three tools – etcdadm, nodeadm and cctl – could be used independently or in tandem:

    Adopted by Kubernetes Cluster Lifecycle SIG, etcdadm is a kubeadm-like command-line interface (CLI) that simplifies the operation of etcd clusters.

  • Leadership of OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 Transitions to Red Hat

    OpenJDK is an open source implementation of Java, one of the most widely-used programming languages for building enterprise-grade applications. In its role as steward of OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 update releases, Red Hat will work with the community to enable continued innovation in Java.

    Red Hat has been a member of the OpenJDK community since 2007 and is one of the largest contributors to the project. Red Hat’s long-time Java technical lead, Andrew Haley, was appointed as project lead for OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 in February 2019. He has been an active member of the OpenJDK governing board for seven years and, in this capacity, helps to guide the future direction of Java and OpenJDK.

    In addition to its work within individual OpenJDK communities, Red Hat leads the upstream development of Shenandoah, a high-performance garbage collector that is now part of OpenJDK 12.

  • Blender short film, new license for Chef, ethics in open source, and more news

    Spring, the latest short film from Blender Animation Studio, premiered on April 4th. The press release on Blender.org describes Spring as “the story of a shepherd girl and her dog, who face ancient spirits in order to continue the cycle of life.” The development version of Blender 2.80, as well as other open source tools, were used to create this animated short film. The character and asset files for the film are available from Blender Cloud, and tutorials, walkthroughs, and other instructional material are coming soon.

  • 6 alternatives to OpsGenie for managing monitoring alerts

    Now, if an issue comes up with any of this company’s products, the response team should act before the customer (and company) experiences negative effects. There won’t be much of a problem if the response team is immediately there to jump on the issue, but in case they are not, someone from the response team should notify them in some way to reduce the diameter of functional or possible financial losses.

    Here’s the problem. People are not able to notice and respond to issues all the time. If you send the response team an email or text message, there is a probability that no one on the team will see it before the issue causes significant financial loss. Also, the response team might already be receiving so many email alerts that even if they are available, they may find it difficult to spot the high-impact issues among the smaller ones. In this situation, you should send someone from the response team a distinct alert, such as making a phone call or messaging a pager. However, if you decide to call, you need to know who is actually available, otherwise you might have to call multiple people until you find the response team member who is ready to jump on a ringing phone at that very moment, which can take even longer if your call is at an odd time for their location.

    Instead, what you need is a tool that not only monitors your systems but also intelligently manages the alert process for the quickest results possible. A popular commercial option is OpsGenie, and in this article, we will talk about open source alternatives to this proprietary option.

  • Events

    • The introvert’s guide to Red Hat Summit

      Events like Red Hat Summit fill me with excitement and, admittedly, a bit of trepidation. Thousands of people, a schedule packed with informative and useful sessions, and opportunities to meet and talk with folks doing exciting work in open source sounds great. It also, well, sounds a bit exhausting if you’re an introvert. It doesn’t have to be, though, and Red Hat wants everyone to feel welcome, comfortable, and able to fully enjoy the event. With that in mind, read on for some strategies and resources for success.

      Introverts aren’t (necessarily) misanthropes, we just tend to like smaller gatherings and less noisy and intense social situations. Even those can be fun, in limited doses. The thing about a large conference like Red Hat Summit, though, is that it’s a huge helping of people and activities turned up to 11. Don’t worry, you can still go and have a great experience, it just takes a little bit of planning.

    • Rounding out the list of Red Hat Summit keynotes [Ed: A summit led by Microsoft CEO’s (first in the list); Red Hat sold out.]

      For the last few months, we’ve been sharing the exciting and thought-provoking keynotes that you can look forward to at Red Hat Summit 2019. From hybrid cloud, containers and cloud-native app platforms to management, automation and more, customers, partners and technology industry leaders from around the world will come together for a high-energy week of innovation, education and collaboration.

      In our 14th year, we’re bringing you inspirational, educational and actionable content, industry-shaping news, and innovative practices from customers and partners from across industries. With just fours week to go, we’re proud to announce the last round of partners and customers who will be taking the stage in Boston, May 7-9.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Emacs finally gets Unicode-11.0-ready

      Unicode 11.0 has come to Emacs 26.2, which – although not the most recent edition lets devs using GNU’s text editor – at least lets devs get more creative with scripts and emojis.

      To reduce crashes, the new version includes a xft-ignore-color-fonts variable that in its standard setting will stop the editor loading colour fonts when using the X FreeType interface library. Setting it to nil will, however, let users access those fonts if needed.

      The movemail program from the GNU Mailutils is now set to be the default of mail-source-movemail-program, meaning it will be used even if it couldn’t be found when the editor was built. Adding the absolute file name of another executable will let users work with this instead.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Black Hole Image Has an Open Source Connection

      Two imaging libraries responsible for the image are fully open source.

      Last week the whole world was stunned by seeing what was unseen – a black hole. Scientists were able to create picture of a black hole named Messier 87 in the Virgo A galaxy. The black hole is more than 55 million light years away.

      The first image of a black hole is the outcome of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, which created a virtual telescope as big as earth by networking 8 ground-based telescopes. The telescopes generated more than five petabyte of data. Collecting data was the first part of the puzzle. The team of scientists used various algorithms to fill gaps in this data to be able to generate an image of the black hole.

  • Programming/Development

    • Is it a class or a function? It’s a callable!

      If you search course curriculum I’ve written, you’ll often find phrases like “zip function”, “enumerate function”, and “list function”. Those terms are all technically misnomers.

    • DIY System Monitoring, Part 1: Python

      This is an update to the original (several years old now) psutil and MongoDB for System Monitoring

    • Cogito, Ergo Sumana: PyCon NA, !!Con, and WisCon
    • Catalin George Festila: Using the ORB feature from OpenCV python module.
    • Real Python: Hands-on Python 3 Concurrency With the asyncio Module
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #364 (April 16, 2019)
    • Introducing our 2019 Keystone Sponsor: Microsoft! [Ed: PyCon is compromised. It sold out. More worryingly, it’s close to the Foundation, so Python as a whole is now at risk.]
    • Federico Mena-Quintero: Containing mutability in GObjects

      Traditionally, GObject implementations in C are mutable: you instantiate a GObject and then change its state via method calls. Sometimes this is expected and desired; a GtkCheckButton widget certainly can change its internal state from pressed to not pressed, for example.

      Other times, objects are mutable while they are being “assembled” or “configured”, and only yield a final immutable result until later. This is the case for RsvgHandle from librsvg.

      Please bear with me while I write about the history of the RsvgHandle API and why it ended up with different ways of doing the same thing.

    • Startup.py

      Someone recently asked how to permanently change the prompt in the Python interactive REPL. The answer is you can point the PYTHONSTARTUP environment variable at a Python file, and that file will be executed every time you enter the interactive prompt.

      I use this to import modules I often want to use, define helpers, and configure my command history.

    • This Week in Rust 282
    • US Schools Must Implement Coding Into Their Curriculum

      The integration of coding into a school’s curriculum has become all the more important with the advancement of technology.

      Despite an awareness for an increase in coding attainment, the implementation of computing and coding resources into classrooms has faced numerous challenges. In large part, this is due to a lack of engaging resources that support STEM learning in practical ways, according to Ricky Ye, CEO of DFRobot.

      “Recently, we have witnessed greater emphasis on STEM learning and as a result, more and more primary school are implementing coding into the curriculum however, it is essential to ensure that these classes are continued throughout secondary schools as well,” said Ricky Y.

    • PHP Zend Framework Becomes “Laminas” At The Linux Foundation

      The newest project being hosted by the Linux Foundation is Laminas, what was the PHP Zend Framework.

      The long-standing Zend Framework for PHP software is being rebranded as Laminas and is becoming a Linux Foundation project rather than just an effort led by Zend Technologies and Rogue Wave. They are hoping that putting this widely-used PHP framework under the stewardship of the Linux Foundation will lead to more communication collaboration, new contributors, and includes related projects like the Expressive micro-framework and Apigility API framework.

    • The Linux Foundation forms new Laminas project to support continued growth of Zend Framework and PHP tooling

      In conjunction with Zend Technologies and Rogue Wave Software, we are excited to announce that the Zend Framework is transitioning to the Linux Foundation and will launch later this year as a new project called Laminas.

      The Zend Framework is a collection of professional PHP packages that can be used to develop web applications and services using PHP 5.6+, and it provides 100% object-oriented code using a broad spectrum of language features.

      Over the years, the Zend Framework has seen wide adoption across industries and application types with more than 400 million lifetime installs. It is used by companies including the BBC, BNP Paribas, and Offers.com. It has formed the basis of numerous business applications and services including eCommerce platforms, content management, healthcare systems, entertainment platforms and portals, messaging services, APIs, and many others.

    • At 3.8-million installations, Red Hat extensions help developers with VS Code, Language Servers, and microservices

      Back in the early days of 2016, together with a few fellow Red Hatters who were primarily working on implementing IDEs, my team was looking for new architectures that would give different communities, such as programming languages, runtimes to integrate easily with IDEs without a deep knowledge of the IDE itself. As our experiments continued, the development team at Microsoft open sourced the Visual Studio Code (VS Code) and introduced the Language Server Protocol (LSP).

    • Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment: Keys to the DevOps Revolution

      Continuous delivery and continuous deployment are two core concepts at the foundation of modern software development practices and the broader DevOps movement. These methods greatly boost the speed and efficiency of software development – which is greatly needed in today’s cloud computing era.

      The so-called Waterfall method of development, where developers work for months building code that is eventually ready for release doesn’t work in the modern world, where Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the norm. Instead, agile methods of rapid code iteration – focusing on continuous development and deployment – is the approach favored by modern application development.

    • How to Get Current Date and Time in Java

      There are multiple ways to get the current date and time in Java programming language. Here we will discuss two ways using java.util.Date and java.util.Calendar Classes.

Leftovers

  • How to Stop Grazing on Public Lands: Buy Out the Permits

    Livestock production is not benign. Livestock pollute public waters with their waste. Livestock compact soils reducing infiltration. Their hooves break up biocrusts which hold the soil together and reduce wind erosion. They spread diseases to wildlife, for instance, pneumonia to bighorn sheep. They spread weeds. They eat forage that might otherwise support native herbivores from ground squirrels to elk. They socially displace native animals like elk from the best lands. We kill predators like wolves, cougars, bears, and coyotes to facilitate livestock operations. Fences on public lands block wildlife migrations, and serve a look out posts for avian predators that prey on sage grouse and other endangered species. Grazing can also reduce the capacity of soil to store carbon.

    To add insult to injury, we charge ranchers a ridiculously low fee for grazing our public lands. Currently the fee is $1.35 an AUM (animal unit month) or the amount of forage a cow and calf can consume in a month. You could not feed a pet goldfish on $1.35 a month.

    A 2005 General Accounting Office review estimated that federal public lands grazing on BLM and Forest Service lands may cost taxpayers as much as $500 million to $1 billion annually in indirect and direct costs-a huge subsidy to a small number of livestock producers.

  • Science

    • Optimizing network software to advance scientific discovery

      High-performance computing (HPC)—the use of supercomputers and parallel processing techniques to solve large computational problems—is of great use in the scientific community. For example, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory rely on HPC to analyze the data they collect at the large-scale experimental facilities on site and to model complex processes that would be too expensive or impossible to demonstrate experimentally.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘The Greed of UnitedHealth Is Killing Americans’: Progressives Hit Back as Insurance CEO Bashes Medicare for All

      The CEO of America’s largest private insurance company faced a flood of pushback from progressives Tuesday after he launched a misleading attack on Medicare for All.

      UnitedHealth Group CEO David Wichmann said during a call with investors that Medicare for All would “destabilize the nation’s health system”—a common talking point that has been deployed by the right-wing media, Republicans, and establishment Democrats.

    • EU Threatens to Legalize Human Harm From Pesticides

      Current EU regulations forbid human exposure to pesticides that are classified as mutagenic, carcinogenic, reprotoxic (toxic for reproduction), persistent or capable of disrupting endocrine systems. By virtue of these and other protective measures EU regulations are considered the gold standard in public protection.

      However, experts who are closely linked to industry (or are part of anti-regulation pressure groups) have taken control of the EU’s new Science Advice Mechanism (SAM). These experts have contributed to a report commissioned to reevaluate the EU’s authorisation of pesticides. The report, called “EU authorisation processes of Plant Protection Products”, and published in late 2018, recommends dramatically weakening the EU regulatory system. Especially notable is the adoption of many ideas previously proposed by the chemical industry. For example, the EU currently deems the acceptable level of public exposure to mutagenic pesticides (those that damage DNA) to be zero. The new report recommends scrapping this standard of protection.

      The history of the new SAM report is that it was requested by EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis. Its purpose was to determine how to act in cases of so-called ‘diverging views’; that is, when media and public interest groups get involved. The request follows a series of major controversies over EU regulatory decision-making. One such controversy was over the herbicide Glyphosate. A “European Citizens Initiative” delivered more than a million signatures to the EU Commission asking for a ban on Glyphosate. Several cities banned Glyphosate. Even a dairy company banned the use of Glyphosate by their farmers.

      With this pressure from all over Europe, the EU Commission had difficulty reaching a decision since many EU member states (Bulgaria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Finland and the U.K) opposed a ban. Ultimately, a very unusual 5-years extension for glyphosate was agreed but soon the discussion will start again.

    • Award-winning writer Dmitry Bykov hospitalized in critical condition

      The award-winning writer and journalist Dmitry Bykov has been hospitalized in the Russian city of Ufa. Igor Molchanov, the lead anesthesiologist and emergency care physician for Russia’s Health Ministry, told the Moscow news agency that Bykov is in a medically induced coma.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Revised Patches Out For New Kernel “mitigations=” Option For Toggling Spectre/Meltdown [Ed: Profoundly defective chips aren't being recalled/replaced (or even properly fixed). All the cost is being passed to the victim, the client, who should instead be compensated. Corporate greed has no bounds. They also hide NSA back doors in these chips. Imperial.]

      The effort to provide a more convenient / easy to remember kernel option for toggling Spectre/Meltdown mitigations is out with a second revision and they have also shortened the option to remember.

      See the aforelinked article if the topic is new to you, but this is about an arguably long overdue ability to easily control the Spectre/Meltdown behavior — or configurable CPU mitigations in general to security vulnerabilities — via a single kernel flag/switch. For the past year and a half of Spectre/Meltdown/L1TF mitigations there has been various different flags to tweak the behavior of these mitigations but not offering a single, easy-to-remember switch if say wanting to disable them in the name of restoring/better performance.

    • Why Not Install Software Packages From The Internet

      Someone from the Internet has told you not to execute random scripts you find on the Internet and now you’re reading why we shouldn’t install software packages from the Internet. Or more specifically, the aim of this article is why it’s wise to stick to distribution maintained packages and not those latest software packages we find out there on the Internet even if it’s distributed by the official brand’s page.
      However, it’s okay to download software packages that are not available on the distribution repository but not vice versa. Read on below to learn more about why.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Oracle Management Software Supplier Adds Security Patching for MySQL and SQL Server
    • Oracle releases Critical Patch Update addressing 296 vulnerabilities

      Oracle has released a Critical Patch Update addressing 296 vulnerabilities across several of its software products.

    • Cisco Talos details exceptionally dangerous DNS hijacking attack
    • DevOps and Security: Be Ready to Shield Your Application

      All of us have heard of continuous improvement/continuous delivery (CI/CD). There are many benefits to implementing CI/CD, as it helps seamless integration from end to end for development and deployment processes. CI/CD helps in rapid improvement, shorter release cycles and more, but it also helps with the challenge of handling security effectively at DevOps speed.

    • Top 9 Free Wi-Fi hacking apps for Android

      The core reason people want to get access to free Wi-Fi is to gain high speed internet connection. Here are top WiFi hacking apps for Android.

      [[...]

      A trusted and reliable app used and trusted by many hackers. Widely used over the Ubuntu operating system. Since Ubuntu and Android are both Linux based, hence it was designed again and released by enthusiastic Android developers.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘Shameful’: With Millions on Brink of Famine in Yemen, Trump Vetoes Resolution to End US Complicity

      “Donald Trump’s veto today is reckless and shameful,” Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War, said in a statement. “Sadly, it is also to be expected from a president who has pretended to be a champion of peace while actually expanding every war he inherited and putting us on a collision course to war with Iran.”

      Trump’s veto—the second of his presidency—came nearly two weeks after the House of Representatives passed the Yemen measure with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, marking the first time Congress has sent a War Powers resolution to the president’s desk.

      Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who helped lead the House effort to end U.S. military involvement in Yemen, denounced Trump’s veto on Twitter.

      “With Trump’s veto of Bernie Sanders’ and my War Powers resolution, which passed with bipartisan support in Congress, he is risking the lives of millions of Yemeni civilians to famine, deadly airstrikes, and the war crimes of the Saudi regime,” Khanna wrote. “We must override his veto.”

      In a separate tweet, Khanna challenged Trump’s claim in his veto message that the Yemen measure represented “an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken [his] constitutional authorities.”

    • Insurgencies in Malaysia and Vietnam: Boyhood Reflections

      The Communist insurgency in British Malaya (as it then was before becoming Malaysia) started in 1948, which happened to be the year I was born, and ended in 1960. The country became independent in 1957.

      My youthful recollections of the insurgency are confined to the episodic.

      Travelling in our car to visit relatives in another part of the country and being bunched with other cars in a convoy escorted by military vehicles with machine guns.

      Going on visits to my rubber-planter uncle and his family, where my brothers would always be car-sick on the narrow, winding roads.

      My uncle’s rubber estate, with floodlights illuminating, nightly, the fenced compound where they lived.

      This compound was guarded by a permanently-stationed military barracks.

    • The Official Skripal Story is a Dead Duck

      One of the striking things about the official Skripal story is the way its more wildly improbable aspects have been released to the mainstream media over a long period, so as to manage their impact. So, for example, police acknowledgement that the perfume bottle Charlie Rowley found was sealed and could not have been the container used on the Skripals is comparatively recent, and it took nine months for us to learn that, by a truly wonderful coincidence, the first person to find the Skripals ill on the bench was the Chief Nurse of the British Army.

      I covered these points in full in my article on the ten points I do not believe in the official story – an article which nobody has sought to refute, other than to yell “conspiracy theory”, as though that was an argument.

      But today we learn from the Guardian (quoting the New York Times) that Donald Trump was only convinced to back the UK government line after being shown photos of dead ducks and hospitalised children by CIA director Gina Haspel.

    • Trump Vetoes Measure on U.S. Involvement in Yemen War

      President Donald Trump has vetoed a congressional resolution to end U.S. military assistance in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

      The veto is just the second in Trump’s presidency. It has been expected, and Congress lacks the votes to override it.

      Passing the never-before-used war powers resolution has been viewed as a milestone for lawmakers, who have shown a renewed willingness to assert their war-making authority after letting it atrophy for decades under presidents from both parties.

      In explaining his veto, Trump calls the resolution “an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.” He also says it endangers the lives of American citizens and service members.

      Congress has grown uneasy with Trump’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia as he tries to further isolate Iran, a regional rival.

    • Trump Wants to Maintain US Empire But Without the Alliances

      During the U.S. invasion of Iraq, even more reluctant scholars on both ends of the political spectrum were finally forced to acknowledge that the United States is an empire and that it has been acting as one since the end of World War II. Of course, there was a natural disagreement among them as to whether the U.S. was a different sort of an empire from those that had dominated world politics in the past, with conservative thinkers like Niall Ferguson arguing that the U.S is essentially a benign empire.

      Yet, as Daniel Immerwahr, associate professor of history at Northwestern University, reminds us in his pathbreaking book, How to Hide an Empire, U.S. imperialism was alive and kicking throughout the 19th century. In fact, the United States was an empire from the very beginning of the founding of the nation, although this fact has never been part of standard educational narratives about U.S. history and foreign policy.

      Meanwhile Donald Trump’s fetishization of the military is a reflection of the way imperial logic has been deeply ingrained into the mindset of most Americans, although Trump’s own vision, as Immerwahr argues, is one of a “fortress America” and of a U.S. foreign policy that relies less on alliances and on the presence of military bases across the globe.

    • US Welcomes Fraudulent DRC President as a Strategic Ally

      What do the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Atlantic Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and National Security Adviser John Bolton have in common? In early April, they all hosted and/or welcomed the newly elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi.

      Despite the celebratory tone of these meetings, it was not U.S. officials and institutions that ended the 18-year rule of DRC President Joseph Kabila. Rather, undeterred by years of indefinite detention, torture and mass killings by Kabila’s state security apparatus, Congolese activists marched, organized and successfully pressured Kabila to abandon his effort to remove presidential term limits from the DRC’s constitution and hold elections.

      Faced with unrelenting internal pressure and growing international condemnation, Kabila caved, running a figurehead candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, on his behalf in 2018. To ensure his successor’s victory, Kabila waged a campaign of electoral violence and institutional “reforms,” including packing the constitutional court, shutting down media outlets, barring potential presidential candidates from re-entering the country, violently restricting opposition candidates, jailing and killing activists, and purchasing unreliable electronic voting machines.

      Still, Kabila’s electoral violence and foul play was not enough to thwart the Congolese people’s desire for change. Kabila’s proxy candidate finished dead-last among the three presumed front-runners, with Tshisekedi finishing second. Martin Fayulu (former Exxon Mobil executive and Felix’s former political ally) was the actual winner, according to Catholic Congolese election monitors, poll results leaked to Radio France Internationale and the Financial Times, and subsequent statistical analyses.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange wins EU journalism award

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been given an award established in honour of an assassinated journalist.

      Assange, jailed last week after being forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, was awarded the 2019 GUE/NGL Award for Journalists, Whistleblowers & Defenders of the Right to Information.

    • Julian Assange Is Now The Litmus Test

      Where you stand on Julian Assange is now a litmus test such as has not been seen since the Iraq War, which was itself a litmus test such as had not been seen since the Miners’ Strike. If you are not for us, then you are against us. If you are not one of us, then you are one of them.

      Led by Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips, those who have already failed that test have declared their desire to criminalise male heterosexual activity per se, with no defence to that charge, but with the understanding that there would at least ordinarily be no prosecution unless the female party complained. If they took any other view, then they would no more advocate the extradition of Assange to Sweden than they would advocate that an adulterer or a homosexual be extradited to Brunei.

      This case has also shed some much-needed light on this country’s scandalously one-sided extradition arrangements with the United States. They can get pretty much anyone from the United Kingdom simply by issuing a demand, while we cannot get anyone at all from them. Those arrangements need to be repealed.

    • FBI Affidavit In Assange Case Shows Government Is Criminalizing Publication Of Afghanistan War Logs

      An affidavit from the United States Justice Department’s prosecution of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange shows prosecutors are focused on criminalizing the publication of the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs.

      The focus on the publication of the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs is baselessly linked to an alleged “password cracking agreement” that prosecutors believe existed between Assange and Pfc. Chelsea Manning, who disclosed over a half million documents to WikiLeaks.

      Assange was expelled from the Ecuador embassy in the United Kingdom and arrested by British police on April 11. The expulsion and arrest was linked to an indictment and extradition request that was filed by the U.S. government over a year ago.

      FBI Special Agent Megan Brown, who was assigned to the “counterespionage squad” at the Washington Field Office in the District of Columbia, was tasked with sifting through information to compile the “basis” for a case against Assange.

      Using language derived from the Espionage Act, which has been wielded by the Justice Department to aggressively crack down on whistleblowers, Brown contended, “Manning and Assange had reason to believe that public disclosures of the Afghanistan War reports and Iraq War reports would cause injury to the United States.”

      “Documents included in the Afghanistan War reports contained information the disclosure of which potentially endangered U.S. troops and Afghan civilians and aided enemies of the United States,” Brown added. “Numerous [‘Secret’] reports, for example, related to the identity and significance of local supporters of United States and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    • Julian Assange’s Prosecution is about Much More Than Attempting to Hack a Password

      The recent arrest of Wikileaks editor Julian Assange surprised many by hinging on one charge: a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) charge for a single, unsuccessful attempt to reverse engineer a password. This might not be the only charge Assange ultimately faces. The government can add more before the extradition decision and possibly even after that if it gets a waiver from the UK or otherwise. Yet some have claimed that as the indictment sits now, the single CFAA charge is a sign that the government is not aiming at journalists. We disagree. This case seems to be a clear attempt to punish Assange for publishing information that the government did not want published, and not merely arising from a single failed attempt at cracking a password. And having watched CFAA criminal prosecutions for many years, we think that neither journalists nor the rest of us should be breathing a sigh of relief.

    • The Price of Participating in Society is the Sacrifice of Privacy and Self

      In what is arguably one of the most craven opportunistic moves by a business/media group to increase its circulation/profitability, on 10 April the New York Times (NYT) embarked on what it describes as its Privacy Project. A day later on 11 April, no doubt with the NYT’s foreknowledge of what was to come thanks to an unofficial US government tip, Ecuador revoked Julian Assange’s (Wikileaks founder) asylum in its UK Embassy and fed him to the British Police dogs eagerly awaiting to arrest him and dump him in jail.

    • Delegitimising Journalism: The Effort to Relabel Julian Assange

      “Your honour, I represent the United States government”. The Westminster Magistrates Court had been left with little doubt by the opening words of the legal team marshalled against the face of WikiLeaks. Julian Assange was being targeted by the imperium itself, an effort now only garnished by the issue of skipping bail in 2012. Would the case on his extradition to the US centre on the matter of free speech and the vital scrutinising role of the press?

      Thomas Jefferson, who had his moments of venomous tetchiness against the press outlets of his day, was clear about the role of the fourth estate. A government with newspapers rather than without, he argued to Edward Carrington in 1787, was fundamental so long as “every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” To Thomas Cooper, he would write in November 1802 reflecting that the press was “the only tocsin of a nation. [When it] is completely silenced… all means of a general effort [are] taken away.” The press provided the greatest of counterweights against oppressive tendencies, being the “only security” available.

      Not so, now. The fourth estate has been subjected to a withering. The State has become canny about the nature of the hack profession, providing incentives, attempting to obtain favourable coverage, and, above all, avoiding dramatic reforms where necessary. An outfit like WikiLeaks is a rebuke to such efforts, to the hypocrisy of decent appearances, as it is to those in a profession long in tooth and, often, short in substance.

      It has logically followed that WikiLeaks, the enemy of the closed press corps and an entity keen to remove the high priests of censorship, must be devalued and re-labelled. This has entailed efforts to delegitimise Assange and WikiLeaks as those of a rogue enterprise somehow detached from the broader issue of political reportage. In this, traditional media outlets and the security establishment have accommodated each other; the State needs secrets, even if they rot the institutional apparatus; exposing abuses of power should be delicate, measured and calm. Scandals and embarrassments can be kept to a minimum, and the political system can continue in habitual, barely accountable darkness.

    • Reporters Committee analysis of U.S. government indictment of Julian Assange – Part II

      In response to our analysis of the Justice Department’s Computer Fraud and Abuse Act conspiracy charge against Julian Assange, we’ve received questions about two specific aspects of the charge.

      The first is whether it’s relevant that Chelsea Manning had authorized access to the Defense Department’s secret-level classified network, SIPRNet, and had already been sending Assange classified information for several months when she asked for help cracking a password. The second is whether it’s relevant that there’s no allegation in the indictment that Assange succeeded in helping Manning crack the password (or even tried).

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Researchers Tie Climate Crisis to Hurricane Maria’s Record-Breaking Rainfall Over Puerto Rico

      The report, recently published in the American Geophysical Union’s journal Geophysical Research Letters, focuses on data from the 129 major storms that impacted the U.S. territory between 1956 and 2016.

      “What we found was that Maria’s magnitude of peak precipitation is much more likely in the climate of 2017 when it happened versus the beginning of the record,” lead author David Keellings, a geographer at the University of Alabama, said in a statement Tuesday.

      Specifically, a storm like Maria—which caused unprecedented flooding and landslides that severely damaged the island’s electrical, water, and communications infrastructure—was nearly five times more likely two years ago than it was in the middle of the last century, according to the study. Maria produced more rain than any other regional storm in the six decades studied.

    • Plankton Research Equipment Inadvertently Reveals Skyrocketing Plastic Pollution Levels in World’s Oceans

      The equipment was towed across millions of miles of ocean for six decades by marine scientists, meant to collect plankton—but its journeys have also given researchers a treasure trove of data on plastic pollution.

      The continuous plankton reporter (CPR) was first deployed in 1931 to analyze the presence of plankton near the surface of the world’s oceans. In recent decades, however, its travels have increasingly been disrupted by entanglements with plastic, according to a study published in Nature Communications on Tuesday.

    • ‘No Platform for Fascists’: Event Honoring Bolsonaro Will Not Be Held at Museum

      Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is not welcome at the American Museum of Natural History.

      That’s the message sent by the institution, which Monday evening chose not to host a May 14th black-tie event honoring Bolsonaro.

      The event, a gala hosted by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, was to honor Bolsonaro as Brazilian Person of the Year.

      But days of sustained outcry focused on Bolsonaro’s pledge to open the Amazon rainforest for industrial and commercial exploitation—and the Brazilian leader’s extreme right wing political positions—convinced the museum that it was not the correct venue for the event.

      “With mutual respect for the work and goals of our individual organizations, we jointly agreed that the Museum is not the optimal location for the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce gala dinner,” the museum and the chamber announced. “This traditional event will go forward at another location on the original date and time.”

    • ‘Great Example’ of Local Organizing as Maine AFL-CIO Signs Onto #GreenNewDeal

      Maine’s Green New Deal legislation is the first to be backed by labor unions.

      The Maine AFL-CIO made its support for the state-level bill public on Tuesday.

      The union delivered a strong statement allying the organization with the environmentally friendly policy from executive director Matt Schlobohm.

      Schlobohm said that the Green New Deal could answer the “twin crises” of climate change and inequality.

      “Climate change and inequality pose dire threats to working people, to all that we love about Maine, and to our democracy,” said Schlobohm. “The work of moving towards a renewable economy must be rooted in workers’s rights and economic and social justice.”

    • Youth-Led Petition Urges 2020 Democratic Candidates to Hold Climate Debate

      A petition calling on 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to hold a climate-specific debate has garnered over 30,000 signatures in just around 48 hours, providing evidence of the widespread grassroots pressure on White House hopefuls to offer bold and detailed solutions to the ecological crisis.

      Led by the U.S. Youth Climate Strike team, the petition aims to “ensure environmental issues from climate change, access to clean water, environmental racism, and everything in between that are disproportionately impacting people of color and working class folks are given the serious attention they deserve.”

    • Greta Thunberg Chastises European Parliament for Prioritizing Brexit Over Climate Change

      Greta Thunberg, the Swedish 16-year-old who has inspired young people around the world to strike from school over climate change, addressed the European Parliament’s environment committee Tuesday, The Guardian reported.

      At one point during her speech at the parliament’s seat in Strasbourg, Thunberg choked back tears as she discussed the sixth mass extinction.

    • NOAA Science Helps Restore Coastal Places

      Thousands of oil spills happen every year, and most pollution cases don’t make the news. But when there’s a major oil spill or pollutant found in the water, you hear about it. Local, state, and federal government agencies rush to clean up the mess. In many cases, after a few days or weeks, it’s out of the spotlight. This is just the beginning of the story, however. In can take years or decades for waterways to recover from pollution. NOAA is just one of the federal government agencies tasked with settling in for the long haul. Its role is to use science to figure out exactly what damage has been done so that ecosystems can be restored.

    • Oil and Gas Industry Has Way Too Much Control Over Congress

      The reason is straightforward: the oil and gas industry finances the campaigns of many Republican members of Congress, as well as some Democrats from oil-producing states, who repeatedly side with their financiers against the interests of the American people.

      In an effort to underscore the urgency of political action on this issue, I recently testified in Congress. As I listened to the Republican members question the two witnesses ahead of my panel, former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, I was struck by the crazy state of affairs of our country. One Republican member, Rep. Thomas Massie, asked such an absurd question that Kerry finally had to respond, “Are you serious?”

      Then I looked up the campaign funding of the various congressmen on Open Secrets, which tracks money in politics, and had a plausible explanation for the tragedy before my eyes. Perhaps the congressmen that I had been listening to were not really as ignorant as they seemed to be. Perhaps they were simply corrupted by campaign financing.

      My own testimony was to the Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform (Kerry and Hagel had been testifying to the full committee). Every one of the five Republican members of the subcommittee received 2018 campaign funds from political action committees (PACs) of the oil and gas industry. That was true of only one of the seven Democrats. The Republicans combined received $181,150 in oil and gas PAC money, compared with $3,000 for the single Democratic recipient.

    • One of the World’s Most Endangered Whales Is Experiencing a Mini Baby Boom

      One of the rarest species of whale in the world is experiencing a mini-baby boom off the coast of New England, lending hope to the survival of the once-imperiled population.

    • Baby boom for North Atlantic right whales off US coast

      One of the world’s most endangered whale species is experiencing a mini baby boom off the US state of Massachusetts.
      Researchers at the Center for Coastal Studies have announced they have seen three North Atlantic right whale mother and calf pairs in Cape Cod bay.
      The whales give birth off Georgia and Florida in the winter before moving up the US east coast in the spring.
      Only about 450 of the species are believed to remain.
      Scientists reportedly did not spot any right whale newborns in 2018, so researchers were elated to report the sighting of two pairs of right whales in Cape Cod bay this week.

    • Surging Plastic Pollution in Oceans Revealed by Plankton Research Equipment

      The equipment was towed across millions of miles of ocean for six decades by marine scientists, meant to collect plankton — but its journeys have also given researchers a treasure trove of data on plastic pollution.

      The continuous plankton reporter (CPR) was first deployed in 1931 to analyze the presence of plankton near the surface of the world’s oceans. In recent decades, however, its travels have increasingly been disrupted by entanglements with plastic, according to a study published in Nature Communications on Tuesday.

    • The rise in ocean plastics evidenced from a 60-year time series

      Plastic production has increased exponentially since its use became widespread in the 1950s. This has led to increased concern as plastics have become prevalent in the oceanic environment, and evidence of their impacts on marine organisms and human health has been highlighted. Despite their prevalence, very few long-term (>40 years) records of the distribution and temporal trends of plastics in the world’s oceans exist. Here we present a new time series, from 1957 to 2016 and covering over 6.5 million nautical miles, based on records of when plastics have become entangled on a towed marine sampler. This consistent time series provides some of the earliest records of plastic entanglement, and is the first to confirm a significant increase in open ocean plastics in recent decades.

    • The Burning Cathedral and the Dead Turtle

      Like many people, I was shocked when I first heard the news that the Cathedral of Notre Dame was on fire and saw the photos of smoke pouring out of the iconic structure. Though I’ve never been to Paris, I can imagine something of what was lost, since I have visited other architectural wonders in Europe including St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City and the Duomo di Siracusa in Sicily, which incorporates columns from the fifth-century BC, Greek doric temple that it replaced on the same site.

      Such places undeniably have a power when experienced in person. They are at once both monumental, with their soaring roofs and larger-than-life scale; and intricate, in their detailed ornamentation in stone, glass and wood. A palpable sense of history also inhabits these spaces. Certainly, damage to them is a real thing. But how real? And compared to what? In a world on the brink of multiple planetary-scale disasters, it is fair to ask such questions.

      Writer Shiv Malik was one of many commentators who waxed poetic throughout the day. When the blaze first started: “Notre Dame, Paris, is on fire and it feels like the end of the world.” Later: “It’s past midnight here. The brave firefighters are still dousing Notre-Dame in the water from the Seine. But this feels like a baptism. With fire, comes rebirth. Let the morning bring new hope [to] my cathedral on the river.” I don’t doubt Malik’s sincerity for a second, and he certainly has a way with words.

      And as one would expect, there were plenty of sentiments such as this, from Henri Astier of the BBC Online: “Watching such an embodiment of the permanence of a nation burn and its spire collapse is profoundly shocking to any French person.”

    • Extreme heat is growing threat to harvests

      Ever-higher average global temperatures mean more intense extreme heat over ever-wider regions.

      When the planet becomes on average 1.5°C warmer than it was for most of human history, then for two out of every three years, one-fourth of the northern hemisphere will experience the kind of blistering heat waves recorded in 2018.

      And should planetary average temperatures creep up by 2°C – the maximum proposed by 195 nations at the global climate conference in Paris in 2015 – then the probability rises to 100%. That is, extreme heat over a large area of the hemisphere will be guaranteed every summer.

    • Dr. Robert Bullard: Lessons From 40 Years of Documenting Environmental Racism

      For Dr. Robert Bullard, the findings weren’t a surprise. A distinguished professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University, he’s been gathering data on environmental racism since long before there was a term for it. As a sociologist at Texas A&M in the late 1970s, he began researching environmental racism in Houston communities after his wife, attorney Linda McKeever Bullard, took a case representing members of a black middle- class community who were fighting a landfill in their suburban neighborhood.

      The lawsuit was the first case in the United States to use civil rights law to challenge environmental discrimination. And while a judge ultimately ruled in favor of the company running the landfill, Dr. Bullard was inspired to learn more about other communities of color facing unjust pollution burdens. Over the past 40 years, he’s become a leading expert, with 18 books on the topic. Along the way he’s been recognized as “the father of environmental justice.”

      We talked with him about the Houston study that led to a career-long investigation and how much progress he thinks we’ve made since.

    • Court Blocks Gold Mining Near Yellowstone National Park

      A Canadian company cannot carry out exploratory drilling for gold mining on land just north of Yellowstone National Park, a Montana district court ruled Monday.

      Protecting the public lands around Yellowstone has been a bipartisan effort, as Earthjustice, which argued the case against the Canadian company, pointed out in a press release. Former Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke banned mining on public lands near Yellowstone for 20 years in October 2018, and this was made permanent in March when President Donald Trump signed a massive, bi-partisan public lands bill. But Lucky Minerals Inc. had sought permission to mine on private land in Emigrant Gulch.

    • How Bernie Sanders trounced Fox on Medicare for All, and why a Carbon Tax could help Pay for It

      Bernie Sanders trounced Fox News on its own turf when he demonstrated that the town hall audience assembled for him by the pro-plutocrat White Nationalist channel was enthusiastic about medicare for all.

    • ‘We Can Be Whatever We Have the Courage to See’: New Video From AOC Envisions a #GreenNewDeal Future

      “Before we can win a Green New Deal, we need to be able to close our eyes and imagine it. We can be whatever we have the courage to see.”

      That was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) expressing one of the messages behind an urgent video on climate change released Wednesday by The Intercept.

      The video, “A Message From the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” was produced by The Intercept’s Naomi Klein. Narrated by Ocasio-Cortez, the short film is presented as a look back to the present day from a future in which the Green New Deal passed Congress and reshaped America and the planet for the better.

      The video features art from Molly Crabapple and was written by Ocasio-Cortez and Avi Lewis. It was co-directed by Kim Boekbinder and Jim Batt.

      “Despite all the horrors of climate change that we have seen and continue to see,” said Crabapple, “we can save ourselves, accomplish brave, beautiful, and world-changing things.”

      Klein pointed to the hope the video could give to people interested in working to change the planet for the better.

      “This beautiful film helps us imagine a different version of ourselves, and a future in which we decided to come together in the face of crisis, rather than surrender and fall apart,” said Klein.

    • Vote-Trading for Big Coal

      The closing weeks of Montana’s legislative sessions are always perilous. Legislators are worn out from more than three months of hearings, floor debates, and living on chicken wings and bacon-wrapped appetizers at nightly “receptions.” To say their judgment is clouded would be a vast understatement. But what’s going on in the Montana Senate right now cannot be excused due to exhaustion and must fall fully on Senate President Scott Sales and Majority Leader Fred Thomas, who allowed Republican senators to engage in open vote trading on the “save Colstrip” bill.

      There is no worse form of lawmaking than vote trading. Bills should be judged on their merits, but vote trading means, in context to the Colstrip bill, “if you don’t vote for my bill I’ll vote against yours.”

      That’s exactly what happened late last week when five Republican senators who had signed on as co-sponsors of the Medicaid expansion bill voted against the measure on the Senate floor, resulting in a 25-25 tie. Since it takes a majority to approve a bill, the tie vote means the Medicaid expansion measure is, for the time being, stuck in the Senate as the clock ticks down to session’s end.

      Rather astoundingly, Sen. Tom Richmond, the sponsor of the Colstrip bill and co-sponsor of the Medicaid expansion bill, openly admitted to reporters that: “We have some issues with one of my bills and we’ll see what that’s going to be a little later on.” In plain language, Richmond is blatantly saying unless the Colstrip bill gets the votes to pass in the House, he and the other four “save Colstrip” Republican senators won’t vote to pass the Medicaid expansion bill they all co-sponsored.

      One can very credibly ask “what does Colstrip have to do with Medicaid expansion?” The answer, of course, is absolutely nothing. Tens of thousands of Montanans would lose their current Medicaid health coverage if the measure doesn’t pass, since the 2017 Medicaid bill sunsets this year. Continuing to operate Colstrip, on the other hand, means all Montanans will be harmed by the increasing impacts of climate change caused by the massive output of greenhouse gases the coal plant generates. Medicaid expansion gives us a healthier population and Colstrip does just the opposite.

  • Finance

    • Tesla’s Brazen Disregard for Workers’ Well-Being Revealed

      Inside a medical clinic not far from Tesla’s electric car factory, Yvette Bonnet started noting a troubling pattern. The automaker’s workers’ compensation manager would pressure her boss, Dr. Basil Besh, to make sure Tesla wasn’t on the hook for certain injured workers.

      And in her observation, Besh did whatever he could to not jeopardize his chance to run Tesla’s on-site factory clinic.

      “He would say, ‘I’m not losing the contract over this – get this case closed,’” said Bonnet, who was operations manager for Besh’s Access Omnicare clinic in Fremont, California, for about a year.

      “Besh wanted to make certain that we were doing what Tesla wanted so badly,” she said. “He got the priorities messed up. It’s supposed to be patients first.”

      It’s not unusual for employers to be pushy about how they want their workers’ injuries handled, Bonnet said. But the intensity of Tesla’s pressure, she said, combined with Besh’s willingness to let bottom-line concerns influence clinical decisions, made this situation different from any Bonnet had encountered.

      Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting previously reported that Tesla systemically kept worker injuries off the books, artificially improving its safety record and violating the law on recording workplace injuries. We also showed that Tesla’s medical clinic ignored worker injuries, sending the hurt back to work without proper treatment and helping the company claim publicly that it had improved. Besh said in an interview last year that Tesla doesn’t pressure him to dismiss injuries and that his determinations are “only based on what the patient needs.”

    • Corporations Need to Pay More

      For all that some might grumble about paying our taxes when this time of year rolls around, we do it. And most of us do it not just because it’s the law, but because we understand and agree with the one of the basic underlying concept behind taxes: We all pay some portion of what we have into a shared pool of resources. And that money goes to fund the services we all need, collectively, like water infrastructure, schools, and transportation.

      [...]

      It’s becoming more and more clear how our current economic and political system is failing to provide, take care of, and manage the resources and services we all need. Our aging water infrastructure is in dire need of public reinvestment. Public schools struggle mightily around the country. And in most places in the U.S. public transportation is not equitable, in need of major reinvestment, or doesn’t even exist.

      Who bears the brunt of these failures? Well, certainly not super wealthy corporate and mostly white CEOs being driven in limos stocked with bottled water. Or celebrities and hedge fund managers bribing college coaches to get their children into Ivy League and other prestige-bestowing schools.

      It’s the mostly Black folks in Flint and Detroit whose water is poisoned or shut off who are experiencing these systemic failures to the greatest degree. It’s people who rely on public transportation to get them to their hourly wage jobs—and who get docked pay or fired if they come in late because of a broken- down subway. It’s low-income families who do the best they can by their kids in resource-starved public K-12 schools.

    • Bernie Sanders Releases 10 Years of Long-Awaited Tax Returns

      Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday released 10 years of his long-anticipated tax returns as he campaigns for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
      The returns provide a more detailed look at Sanders’ finances than when he ran for president in 2016. The release also confirms that Sanders’ income crossed the $1 million threshold in 2016 and 2017, though he reported less earnings in his most recent return.

      His 2018 return reveals that he and his wife, Jane, earned more than $550,000, including $133,000 in income from his Senate salary and $391,000 in sales of his book, “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In.” Sanders’ campaign said in a news release that he paid 26% effective tax rate in 2018.

      During his first presidential bid, Sanders released just one year of his tax returns despite primary rival Hillary Clinton pushing him to follow her lead and release multiple years of tax information. He declined to do so, disclosing only his tax return for 2014. Tax transparency has been in the spotlight as Donald Trump bucks decades of presidential tradition by declining to show voters his tax filings and House Democrats seek to force him to turn them over.

      During a Fox News Channel town hall on Monday, Sanders said that he’d increased his income by publishing a book — he’s written two with campaign themes — and that he wouldn’t apologize for that. He also challenged Trump to release his tax returns.

    • Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements

      Approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA 2.0 also known USMCA) will do little to reverse the problems of the NAFTA trade agreement of 1994. Nothing in the proposed replacement agreement will prevent job outsourcing, nor is there any part of the agreement that would reverse our current agricultural trade deficit. So what’s the deal with the “Motorcade for Trade” tour?

      The 2018 Census of Agriculture documents the occurrence of a clear shift in farm size. Small and medium sized farms are exiting production while the number and overall size of larger farms continues to increase. We are told growth is inevitable in any business if they wish to succeed, because growth goes hand in hand with efficiency and profit.

    • The Public Banking Revolution Is Upon Us

      As public banking gains momentum across the country, policymakers in California and Washington state are vying to form the nation’s second state-owned bank, following in the footsteps of the highly successful Bank of North Dakota, founded in 1919. The race is extremely close, with state bank bills now passing their first round of committee hearings in both states’ senates.

      In California, the story begins in 2011, when then-Assemblyman Ben Hueso filed his first bill to explore the creation of a state bank. The bill, which was for a blue-ribbon committee to do a feasibility study, sailed through both legislative houses and seemed to be a go. That is, until Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it, not on grounds that he disapproved of the concept, but because he said we did not need another blue-ribbon committee. The state had a banking committee that could review the matter in-house. Needless to say, nothing was heard of the proposal after that.

      So when now-Sen. Hueso filed SB 528 earlier this year, he went straight for setting up a state bank. The details could be worked out during the two to three years it would take to get a master account from the Federal Reserve, by a commission drawn from in-house staff that had access to the data and understood the issues.

      Sen. Hueso also went for the low hanging fruit—a proposal to turn an existing state institution, the California Infrastructure and Development Bank (or “IBank”), into a depository bank that could leverage its capital into multiple loans. By turning the $400 million IBank currently has for loans into bank capital, it could lend $4 billion, backed by demand deposits from the local governments that are its clients. The IBank has a 15-year record of success; experienced staff and detailed procedures already in place; low-risk customers, consisting solely of government entities; and low-interest loans for infrastructure and development that are in such high demand that requests are 30 times current capacity.

      The time is also right for bringing the bill, as a growing public banking movement is picking up momentum across the U.S. Over 25 public bank bills are currently active, and dozens of groups are promoting the idea. Advocates include a highly motivated generation of young millennials, who are only too aware that the old system is not working for them and a new direction is needed.

    • Trump Whacks the Middle Class

      In 2016 Trump promised tax cuts for the middle class. Now it’s clear Trump’s 2018 tax cut is making the middle class pay for corporations, businesses, investors and the wealthiest 1% households historic tax cuts totaling no less than $4.5 trillion over the next decade.

      A massive redistribution of income favoring the capitalist class–at the expense of everyone else–is underway. Only now approaching April 15 ‘tax day’ in the US are the dimensions becoming apparent.

      Polls show 80% of the 170 million taxpayers in the US are saying they’re paying much more this year.

      And 17% indicate they used to get refunds in the past but are now writing the IRS checks for $ thousands more this year. That’s 17% of 170M, or almost 30 million households no longer getting refunds! And 136 million saying they’re paying more! So that’s a middle class tax cut?

    • Anti-corruption activists say the family of Khabarovsk’s long-time mayor owns six million dollars in U.S. real estate

      The family of Alexander Sokolov, who served as mayor of Khabarovsk for a whopping 18 years, owns six homes in the United States worth more than $6 million, according to a new investigative report by Alexey Navalny’s researchers in Khabarovsk. Five of the homes are reportedly in California, and the sixth is apparently in Washington state. Navalny’s team says the real estate was purchased between 2004 and 2018 by Sokolov’s wife, Leonora, and their children Elena and Alexey, who now own the homes.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Democrats Raise $75 Million So Far, Signaling a Drawn-Out Fight

      Democratic presidential candidates raised about $75 million during the first quarter of the 2020 election, a lackluster sum spread out across more than a dozen campaigns that signals a drawn-out battle likely lies ahead.

      Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders led the field by raising $18 million and California Sen. Kamala Harris came in second with $12 million. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke came in third with $9.3 million, followed by South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who capitalized on a flurry of publicity to raise $7 million.

      The rest of the field of more than a dozen candidates raised $6 million or less apiece.

    • Joe Biden Unmasked

      Let me tell you something about unplugging from the patriarchy.

      I don’t know how it happens for others, but I can tell you how it’s happened for me.

      It’s taken over 40 years. All the way from the shock and awe and twinges of guilt I felt for reading Ms. magazine, furtively, down by the river in California’s Sonoma County, to openly writing “fuck you” on social media, in all caps, to Joe Biden more than 25 years later. That act, obviously, represents neither the height of decorum nor the pinnacle of my power, but it illustrates the white-hot rage you feel when coming up for air after decades of slowly being drowned, only to have a wealthy white man—or any white man, or any man—put his hand on your head and blithely push you back down.

      While laughing.

      That’s what Joe Biden did recently when he joked onstage about making women and girls profoundly uncomfortable. He laughed, as he pushed us all right back down.

    • Still Doing The Job

      Celebrating the tenacious work of beleaguered journalists nationwide, the 2019 Pulitzers were awarded to three newsrooms documenting and even enduring gun violence – the Parkland, Tree of Life, and Capital Gazette mass shootings – and several laying bare Trump’s criminal enterprises and porn-star payoffs. Speaking for the 18-member Pulitzer prize board, Dana Canedy cited the extraordinary work submitted “even in a year when journalism is yet again under relentless assault, including from the highest office in the land, and when the security threats remain high for journalists simply seeking to do their jobs” – often, he could have added, in newsrooms forced to make serious cuts. Recipients of key awards included the South Florida Sun Sentinel for exposing failings by school and law enforcement officials in connection with the Parkland shootings, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for “immersive, compassionate coverage of the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue that captured the anguish and resilience of a community thrust into grief.”

    • Report: 13% of Americans Still Believe Men Are ‘Better Suited Emotionally’ for Politics

      A record number of women are running for president in the 2020 election cycle: six as of April 2019, including Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Marianne Williamson, a bestselling self-help author and Oprah’s spiritual adviser. There are now more women than ever in Congress.

      Despite these recent signs of improvement, a new poll from Georgetown University Center on Education, using data from the General Social Survey, reveals the lingering sexism that pemeates the thinking of American voters, about 13% of whom still believe men are “better suited emotionally” to be in politics.

      That number, Benjamin Wermund writes in Politico, “is lower than it’s ever been — and indicates major progress, especially compared with 1975, when nearly 50 percent of Americans held the belief.”

      Even 13% however, is high enough, as the report’s authors point out, to “cause candidates to lose elections.”

    • Maybe Rich Liberals Don’t Hate Sanders Because They Fear He Can’t Win, But Because They’re Rich

      Why does the New York Times take rich liberals at their word that their concern with Bernie Sanders is that he would lose to Trump, rather than the obvious, glaring fact that his election would run counter to their interests?

      The New York Times (4/16/19) profiled a network of “wealthy liberal donors” who, shockingly, are not fans of Bernie Sanders, who according to the same report has rejected their big-bundler funding and instead opted for small donations. (The Times reported the same day that 84 percent of Sanders’ donations are less than $200; by contrast, only 37 percent of Kamala Harris’ donations are.)

      That a network of multi-millionaire and billionaire donors would dislike a candidate who not only rejects their funding, but is actively trying to tax them at rates not seen since 1960, would surely be enough reason to explain why these wealthy elites would want to “stop” his nomination. But not to the credulous New York Times, which takes at face value rich donors’ claim to oppose Sanders because they believe he simply can’t defeat Trump…

    • Washington’s Biggest Fairy Tale: “Truth Will Out”

      The arrest of Julian Assange has produced rapturous cheering from the American political elite. Hillary Clinton declared that Assange “must answer for what he has done.” Unfortunately, Assange’s arrest will do nothing to prevent the vast majority of conniving politicians and bureaucrats from paying no price for deceiving the American public.

      “Truth will out” is a phrase that is routinely recited to keep Americans paying and obeying. Politicians and editorial writers toss this phrase out to simmer down any fears that the government might be conspiring against the people. Actually, “truth will out” is the biggest fairy tale in Washington.

      The phrase “truth will out” is first recorded in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Often in Shakespeare’s plays, truths come out only after almost everyone has been conned, stabbed, or screwed. It’s not much better nowadays.

      When it comes to politics, “truth will out” should be confined to sarcasm and satire, not to serious pontificating.

    • At Last, Mueller Reveals [REDACTED]

      It is fortunate Attorney General William Barr was not able to lay hands on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Had he been afforded the chance to play Poe’s editor/bulldozer as he has with the Mueller report, generations of macabre literature fans would have spent their candlelit Halloween nights grimly intoning, “Quoth the raven: REDACTED.”

      In other words, friends, don’t get your hopes up. Unless the creek rises, the Mueller report as redacted by Barr will see the light of day tomorrow. Nothing in Barr’s distant or recent past gives me hope that he has done anything other than slash that document to black-lined ribbons. You can cross your fingers and wish for Barr’s people at the “Justice” Department to be as hilariously incompetent at redacting as Paul Manafort’s legal team was back in January, but I wouldn’t bet on the possibility with someone else’s money.

      This is Barr’s Roy Cohn moment — defend the president even at the cost of your reputation — and he has risen vigorously to the occasion. Barr got his current gig by coughing up an unsolicited and dubiously argued letter slandering the Mueller report using rhetorical tools manufactured by Donald Trump’s allies. His four-page “summary” of the report gave Trump just enough cover to go on a mind-bending self-congratulation spree that has been, of course, utterly divorced from the facts at hand. Just last week, Barr sent the Trumpiverse into paroxysms of glee when he publicly endorsed a strange conspiracy theory regarding “deep state” spying on Trump’s 2016 campaign.

      This behavior does not instill a sense of optimism. “Barr appears to be demolishing his reputation as a respected former Attorney General,” writes Steve Denning for Forbes, “and cementing a revised assessment of him as a mere lackey of a lawless president, thus politicizing the Department of Justice (DOJ) and undermining the rule of law throughout government.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Wherein The Copia Institute Updates The Copyright Office On The First Amendment Problems With The DMCA

      A few years ago the Copyright Office commenced several studies on the DMCA. One, on Section 1201, resulted in a report to Congress and some improvements to the triennial rulemaking process. But for the other study, on Section 512, things had been quiet for a while. Until earlier this year, when the Copyright Office announced it was hosting an additional roundtable hearing to solicit additional input. What the Copyright Office wanted to know in particular was how recent developments in US and international law should inform the recommendations they may issue as a result of this study.

      The Copia Institute had already submitted two rounds of comments, and both Mike and I had separately given testimony at the hearing held in San Francisco. This new hearing was a good chance to remind the Copyright Office of the First Amendment concerns with the DMCA we had already warned them about, many of which are just as worrying — if not more so — today.

      One significant, overarching problem is the way the DMCA results in such severe consequences for speech, speakers, and platforms themselves based on the mere accusation of infringement. It is unique in American law for there to be such an effect like this: in most instances, sanction cannot follow unless and until a court has found there to be actual liability. In fact, when it comes to affecting speech interests it is expressly forbidden by the First Amendment to punish speakers or speech before a court has found specific instances of speech unlawful. To do otherwise – to punish speech, or, worse, to punish a speaker before they’ve even had a chance to make wrongful speech – is prior restraint, and not constitutional. Yet in the DMCA context, this sort of punishment happens all the time. And since the last roundtable hearing it has only gotten worse.

    • US Media Lament Internet Censorship—in China, Not US

      The New York Times invoked this trope last summer (8/6/18) when it fretted that “a generation” was coming of age without access to such US-founded internet companies as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (a Facebook property) and Google, whose availability is restricted in China. Instead, Chinese youth were using Chinese-founded platforms, including social-media service Weibo, search engine Baidu and shortform-video application Tik Tok.

      By dint of their internet options, according to the Times, teenagers and 20-somethings living in China are excluded from the “Western liberal democracy” embodied on US platforms. The internet to which they’re exposed is censored, the Times contended—without elaboration of the forms said censorship took—and thus stripped of the values of free speech and expression employed on, say, Twitter or Google. The argument garnered an endorsement from Columbia Journalism Review (8/8/18) two days later.

      The Washington Post (2/20/19) similarly wrung its hands via a February opinion piece. Written by a member of the historically US-aligned nonprofit Human Rights Watch, the op-ed expressed apprehension over the popularity of Chinese social-media platform WeChat, which it claimed censored posts containing “‘sensitive words’—such as Tiananmen Square, Liu Xiaobo and Occupy Central.”

    • Arizona Lawmakers Running Scared After Anti-Boycott Law Ruled Unconstitutional

      Last year, an Arizona federal court blocked the state from enforcing its anti-boycott law, ruling that the law — which requires government contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel or Israeli settlements in the West Bank — violates the First Amendment. In response, the state appealed the court’s decision and asked the Ninth Circuit to allow it to continue enforcing the unconstitutional law pending appeal. The Ninth Circuit refused and scheduled oral arguments for the appeal for June 6.

      But instead of trying to defend its law in court come June 6, the state of Arizona is running scared. Today the state amended its anti-boycott statute in a transparent attempt to avoid another loss in court. The new law, signed today by Gov. Ducey, limits the anti-boycott certification to for-profit companies with more than 10 employees and government contracts worth more than $100,000. This means the law no longer applies to our clients as well as many other individuals and small businesses. It also means that the state will try to escape further judicial review and continue imposing the anti-boycott certification in at least some cases, even though a federal court has held that the law unconstitutionally infringes the First Amendment rights “that Americans and Arizonans use ‘to bring about political, social, and economic change.’”

      We’ve seen this tactic before.

    • No, YouTube Cannot Reasonably Moderate All Content On Its Platform

      The thread got tons of attention and retweets, and lots of people agreeing and promoting it. The only trouble is that it’s utter nonsense. Let’s go through the details. First, and most obviously, the 400 hours stat is old. That was based on a report in 2015. Much more recent testimony (as in, from last week before Congress) has YouTube saying “over 500 hours of video uploaded every minute.” To be conservative, let’s use the number 500, even though YouTube says it’s higher than that, and in all likelihood the number continues to grow each year. That means we’re already talking about 30,000 minutes of content added every minute. Hern talks about having 30,000 people employed at any one time to view all that content, but that makes a few assumptions that are incorrect.

      First, assuming that anyone can sit there and just watch content straight for 8 hour shifts is crazy. There have already been lots of discussions about the difficult situation content moderators are in, in that reviewing content all the time is incredibly stressful, and often requires significant breaks. So even as Hern “rounds up” his numbers, we’re likely talking a much higher need for reviewers to actually cover all this content in an 8 hour day. Also, Hern assumes that a single viewing by a single individual is all that content moderation would take. That makes no sense at all. To determine if a video is appropriate often would require multiple viewings, and sometimes some level of research to understand the context/language/etc. in a video to determine whether or not it met some criteria. And let’s not leave out the ongoing training that would be required of moderators to keep up on the ever changing nature of what’s allowed/not allowed under YouTube’s terms of service. The Radiolab episode we discussed last year showed just how difficult a process it is to train moderators, and to continually update what’s allowed, as so much content falls into a “gray zone” rather than being black and white (allowed/not allowed).

      So, just on that criteria alone, you’re probably talking about at least doubling the number of reviewers needed just so you’d actually have enough time to view each video enough times to fully understand what’s going on and to keep up with the rules. So now we’re talking about at least 200,000 content moderators. The last report I’ve seen says that in 2018 Google had 98,771 employees. So this alone would nearly triple its workforce.

    • Russian municipal official reportedly threatens staff who won’t unsubscribe from a critical social-media group

      Natalia Shakhova, the chief of staff of the Tyumen region’s Golyshmanovsky Municipal District, has ordered her staff to leave a community on VKontakte where users criticize the local authorities, according to a letter allegedly bearing her signature that’s appeared online. “This group is anonymous and contains many fake posts, all of which lean heavily negative,” the letter states.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • ‘Dangerous and irresponsible’ age verification goes ahead

      Government announces 15 July 2019 launch date for dangerous and irresponsible age verification scheme, without compulsory privacy scheme.

      Reacting to the government’s announcement on age verification for adult content, Jim Killock Executive Director of Open Rights Group said:

      “The government needs to compel companies to enforce privacy standards. The idea that they are ‘optional’ is dangerous and irresponsible.

    • Zuckerberg reportedly mulled 100 deals with developers to decide ‘real market value’ of user data

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once considered making deals with third-party developers just to help him find out how much users’ data is worth, according to an NBC News report.

      The report, which cites 4,000 leaked pages of internal documents, shines a light on the way senior company executives viewed attaching a dollar sign to sensitive user data, despite Facebook’s public commitment to protect such information.

      It said the social network’s boss once mulled 100 deals with app developers for potentially selling access to user data. In one message highlighted by the publication, Zuckerberg says the goal “wouldn’t be the deals themselves,” but learning “what developers would actually pay.”

    • Zuckerberg Used Facebook User Data To Eliminate Competition & Favor Friends

      A new NBC report has revealed another damning story about how Mark Zuckerberg had plans to consolidate Facebook’s power by leveraging user data as a bargaining chip.

      The 4,000 pages report, which was leaked by anonymous sources, sheds light on how top executives of Facebook, including CEO Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, considered making deals with third-party developers to evaluate exactly how much profit users’ data would fetch.

    • EFF Argues Against Forced Unlocking of Phone in Indiana Supreme Court

      Justices to Consider Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination
      Wabash, IN—At 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 18, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will argue to the Indiana Supreme Court that police cannot force a criminal suspect to turn over a passcode or otherwise decrypt her cell phone. The case is Katelin Seo v. State of Indiana.

      The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution states that people cannot be forced to incriminate themselves, and it’s well settled that this privilege against self-incrimination covers compelled “testimonial” communications, including physical acts. However, courts have split over how to apply the Fifth Amendment to compelled decryption of encrypted devices.

      Along with the ACLU, EFF responded to an open invitation from the Indiana Supreme Court to file an amicus brief in this important case. In Thursday’s hearing, EFF Senior Staff Attorney Andrew Crocker will explain that the forced unlocking of a device requires someone to disclose “the contents of his own mind.” That is analogous to written or oral testimony, and is therefore protected under the U.S. Constitution.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Scaring Up Division and Hatred

      Trump’s presidential campaign continues to this day with constant rallies around the country. Corporate media are served up to the audience as targets of abuse from the stage and from the audience.

      Yet the same outlets Trump derides as “enemies of the people” continue to boost him— highlighting presidential tweets that scare up division and hatred as news is a dangerous course for corporate media to follow.

    • Steve Miller and the Nationalist Takeover of the White House
    • Photo: Kirill Serebrennikov, recently released after almost two years of house arrest, receives national theater awards

      Director Kirill Serebrennikov receives a Golden Mask award for his ballet “Nureyev” on the stage of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. “Nureyev” was named the best ballet of 2019. Serebrennikov also received the award for Best Director for his staging of “Little Tragedies.”

    • Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Traumatized American Women, Study Shows—And May Have Made Them Less Safe

      More than six months after Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, a new study shows how women and men were affected by revelations that the judge had been accused of sexual assault.

      The non-partisan research firm PerryUndem surveyed about 1,300 people from across the country, finding that more Americans believe Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, than did directly after the hearings—and that most believe Kavanaugh lied under oath about the alleged assault.

      One in four women told the company that watching the hearings in September had caused them to re-experience past trauma. The number was larger for Latin American women, at one in three.

    • Motel 6 To Pay Out Another $12 Million For Handing Guest Info To ICE

      A handful of Motel 6 owners and operators suddenly decided the best use of their guest info was as fodder for law enforcement agencies. In Connecticut, a Motel 6 just decided to start faxing its guest list over to the local cop shop every night. After this questionable practice was made public, the PD announced it never asked for this info and was going to route it right into the shredder going forward.

      Other Motel 6 owners decided ICE needed to know about every suspected illegal immigrant being housed overnight at their franchises. Using a highly-technical process that narrowed forwarded guest lists to those with foreign-sounding surnames, Motel 6 owners sicced ICE on paying customers in an effort to… I don’t know… earn good citizenship awards or something.

      It may have netted ICE a few busts and warmed the cockles of meathead managers who had discovered a way to increase occupancy turnover rates with the federal government’s help, but it also netted Motel 6 a handful of lawsuits.

    • Investigation into Trump’s sister ends with her retirement

      President Donald Trump’s older sister, federal appellate Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired — ending a judicial investigation into whether she broke judicial conduct rules by committing tax fraud, according to a still-unreleased court filing.

      The New York Times first reported Barry’s retirement, saying Barry filed her retirement papers in February, just 10 days after court officials notified complainants that the matter was “receiving the full attention” of a judicial conduct council.
      But because Barry retired, the investigation automatically closed.
      “In concluding these proceedings, the Judicial Council does not reach the merits of complaints,” the judicial council of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals wrote of Barry’s case in an April 1 document obtained by CNN.

    • Retiring as a Judge, Trump’s Sister Ends Court Inquiry Into Her Role in Tax Dodges

      President Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired as a federal appellate judge, ending an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings.

      The court inquiry stemmed from complaints filed last October, after an investigation by The New York Times found that the Trumps had engaged in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the inherited wealth of Mr. Trump and his siblings. Judge Barry not only benefited financially from most of those tax schemes, The Times found; she was also in a position to influence the actions taken by her family.

      Judge Barry, now 82, has not heard cases in more than two years but was still listed as an inactive senior judge, one step short of full retirement. In a letter dated Feb. 1, a court official notified the four individuals who had filed the complaints that the investigation was “receiving the full attention” of a judicial conduct council. Ten days later, Judge Barry filed her retirement papers.

    • Hawai’i in Trouble

      Heap of black stones from the Christian destruction of a temple for the worship of Hawai’ian gods. Ulupo Park, Kailua, Hawaii. Photo: Evaggelos Vallianatos

      I first visited Hawaii (Oahu and Maui) in the early 1980s. The islands retained some of the glorious beauty of their pre-American life. I remember the mountains in Oahu. They are not tall. They are smooth, green, with deep ridges. It’s like the Hawaiian goddess Pele drew her fingers over a soft matter at the moment of creation.

    • TSA Agents Say They’re Not Discriminating Against Black Women, But Their Body Scanners Might Be

      Dorian Wanzer travels frequently for work. And almost every time she steps out of an airport body scanner, security screeners pull her aside and run their fingers through her hair. It’s called a hair pat-down.

      “It happens with my natural Afro, when I have braids or two-strand twists. Regardless,” said Wanzer, who lives in Washington, D.C. “At this point in my life I have come to expect it, but that doesn’t make it any less invasive and frustrating.”

      Wanzer, who had her hair patted down by Transportation Security Administration officers two weeks ago while she flew home from Raleigh, North Carolina, said she feels singled out when she is asked to step aside.

      “When you find yourself in that kind of situation, it makes you wonder,” Wanzer said. “Is this for security, or am I being profiled for my race?”

      Black women have been raising alarms for years about being forced to undergo intrusive, degrading searches of their hair at airport security checkpoints. After a complaint five years ago, the TSA pledged to improve oversight and training for its workers on hair pat-downs.

      But it turns out there’s an issue beyond the screeners: the machines themselves.

      The futuristic full-body scanners that have become standard at airports across the United States are prone to false alarms for hairstyles popular among women of color.

    • Detention center contractors will keep reaping profit even after DHS upheaval

      As the case backlog in immigration courts swell and detention beds fill with asylum-seekers waiting for a day in court, so do the pockets of private prisons, security contractors and tech firms.

      The number of families fleeing violence and poverty and apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border increased by 300 percent this fiscal year, challenging an already strained immigration system, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This comes as the nation’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reels from a recent overhaul.

      Last week, Kirstjen Nielsen stepped down as secretary of DHS after just over two years. Nielsen’s legacy will likely be stained by the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, separating over 2,700 immigrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border last year. The government has yet to reunite all separated families.

    • ‘Heartless Punishment Against Vulnerable People’: AG William Barr Rules Asylum Seekers Can Be Detained Indefinitely

      “This appalling decision could also force parents to decide to either be locked up with their children indefinitely, or relinquish custody of them for the duration of their approval process, which could take months or years,” Krishnaswami added. “This is both a heartless punishment against vulnerable people, and a potential back-door way for the administration to separate families. This decision must be reversed.”

      Barr’s ruling comes as President Donald Trump continues to ramp up his attack on the U.S. asylum system and hand more power over immigration policy to his xenophobic senior adviser Stephen Miller.

      Prior to Barr’s ruling, Reuters reported, “those who had crossed the border between official entry points and asked for asylum were eligible for bond, once they had proven to asylum officers they had a credible fear of persecution.”

      “Barr said such people can be held in immigration detention until their cases conclude, or if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decides to release them by granting them ‘parole,’” according to Reuters.

    • Opening Tombs and Resurrecting Lives

      Easter is about opening tombs and resurrecting lives. Today’s tombs include the Trump administration’s walls and bans and lies that confine people, threaten their safety, and block their aspirations and fulfillment. Thus, in this life, Easter is celebrated whenever people, fleeing such oppression, are offered the safety of sanctuary. Here, people of faith not only worship a god of justice in their holy place; they do the work of justice in that very holy place itself.

      In the 1980s, The Community Church of Boston (CCB), where I was minister, was one of over 500 churches in the U.S. that provided sanctuary for Guatemalan, Salvadoran and other refugees fleeing political persecution. For two years, from November of 1983 to December of 1985, CCB housed a Guatemalan refugee who was on the Guatemalan Army’s death list. He lived in the Church building’s third floor — with my wife, Eva, our five-year-old daughter, Amy, and I living on the fourth floor. In his late 20s, “Manuel Hernandez,” as he called himself, was one of a reported 250 thousand Guatemalans fleeing their government’s — U.S. supported — oppression. (See “A Century of U.S. Intervention Created the Immigration Crisis,” by Mark Tseng-Putterman, Medium.com, June 20, 2018) In 1985, CCB helped him to gain political asylum in Canada. Recalling the political context is important here.

      During the 1980s, Guatemalan and Salvadoran refugees fled their governments’ persecution and thus qualified for political asylum in the United States. As reported, “The Reagan administration supported military governments in El Salvador and Guatemala, viewing them as bulwarks against pro-Communist insurgencies. And so it played down widespread human rights outrages by those regimes and affiliated death squads.” Thus, “When Salvadorans and Guatemalans tried to enter the United States, claiming a fear of persecution in their homelands, they were typically labeled ‘economic immigrants,’ not political refugees.” (“Trump and the Battle Over Sanctuary in America,” By Clyde Haberman, The New York Times, March 5, 2017) To recognize their political persecution would have required the U.S. government to admit its complicity in that persecution.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Apple And Qualcomm End All Of Their Legal Disputes

      In a surprising turn of events, Apple and Qualcomm have dropped all the charges they had against each other and have put an end to the two-year-old legal battle both companies were fighting.

      As per both Apple and Qualcomm, the companies have entered a six-year license agreement that is extendable to another two years. The contract (which came in effect from April 1, 2019) will lead to a multi-year chipset deal between Apple and Qualcomm with the latter providing chips to Apple.

    • Apple and Qualcomm settle their antitrust/FRAND/patent dispute: clash of California tech giants is amicably resolved

      Opening statements in the Apple, Foxconn et al. v. Qualcomm antitrust trial in San Diego (Southern District of California) were ongoing when CNBC broke the news of a settlement. A little later it was confirmed by Apple’s newsroom: All pending lawsuits between Apple and Qualcomm, and Apple’s contract manufacturers and Qualcomm, have been dismissed.

      There is a new patent license agreement as well as a new chipset supply deal in place. In other words, California’s two mobile hardware giants–Apple from the North, Qualcomm from the South–are working together again. An amicable resolution of a dispute that last more than two years and was a bit acrimonious at times.

      Cravath Swaine & Moore’s Evan Chesler finished his opening statement (with only about 20 minutes left at the time the settlement became known). Counsel talked to Judge Curiel privately, and he then explained the situation to the jury. He also invited jurors to his chambers to thank them personally for everything.

      A trial that could have lasted, if one includes jury deliberations, 1.5 months or more has therefore ended after only 1.5 days.

    • Adidas Wins Product Customization Section 101 Reversal at the PTAB

      The Federal Circuit may have some doubts about the USPTO’s new Section 101 guidelines (see the Cleveland Clinic case), but that is not stopping the flow of patents that will be issuing in light of them. While here may still be uncertainty on what claims will ultimately stand in litigation many years in the future, applicants should take heed that the scope of eligible subject matter has been clarified at the USPTO and even the PTAB is following these guidelines.

      A recent case by Adidas (SN 13/340,919) shows just how powerful these new guidelines can be. The invention relates to product customization (see claim 1 below) and was classified in art unit 3625. If you handle cases in that art unit, you know that it has one of the highest Alice rejection rates at the USPTO. Not surprisingly, Adidas faced a 101 rejection.

    • Apple, Qualcomm Settle—But That Doesn’t Mean The FTC Should

      Apple and Qualcomm have reached a global settlement to the wide-ranging dispute between the two companies. Stretching from China to the UK to the US, in a range of forums in various countries, Apple had accused Qualcomm of anti-competitive conduct in patent licensing, while Qualcomm brought a grab-bag of counterclaims. All of that is over.

      The FTC’s case against Qualcomm isn’t. In fact, this settlement only makes it more clear why the FTC’s case must proceed.

    • Trademarks

      • Take-Two Dismisses Its Lawsuit Against Pinkerton Agency As The Latter Runs From Its Own Cease And Desist

        At the very start of the year, we discussed a lawsuit filed by Take-Two Interactive against the Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations agency over content within the hit game Red Dead Redemption 2. Take-Two filed the suit seeking a declaratory judgement that its depiction of Pinkerton agents within the game was fair use, as Pinkerton had fired off a cease and desist notice to the game developer declaring that the game was violating its trademark rights and demanded either a lump sum payment or royalties as a result. Pinkerton, which most gamers will not know is a real-life union-busting, outlaw-getting agency that has existed since the west was still wild, probably thought Take-Two would pay it to go away. After all, the arguments for fair use and the First Amendment are quite clear when a work of fiction portrays a parody-take on an historically accurate and quite infamous agency of the wild west.

        We said at the time that it was hard to see how a ruling by the court in favor of Pinkerton would do anything other than force artists to license history, which is about as clearly antithetical to First Amendment law as could be imagined. It seems that Pinkerton’s lawyers agreed, as Take-Two announced it has dropped its suit as Pinkerton has agreed to withdraw its demands.

      • Iceland v Iceland: EUIPO turns up heat on descriptiveness

        Following a request from Iceland’s government, the EUIPO has invalidated Iceland Foods’ trademark in a decision that shows how rights owners must give solid evidence to overcome an increasingly strict approach to descriptiveness

        In a judgment that lawyers say is unlikely to be overturned, the office’s Cancellation Division has ruled that the EU trademark (EUTM) for ‘Iceland’, owned by UK supermarket Iceland Foods, is invalid.

      • Scandalous TM case may not follow Tam, as many predicted

        The US Supreme Court heard arguments in a case on scandalous trademarks on Monday, and the line of questioning suggests a reversal is possible

      • Fooey on the Draft

        In this case, the Federal Circuit held that the prohibition on registering “immoral” or “scandalous” marks is a facial violation of a registrant’s First Amendment free speech rights. Here, Brunetti is seeking to register the mark “FUCT,” which the solicitor identified as a close homonym of “the paradigmatic word of profanity in our language.” Oral arguments were held on April 15 before the nine Supreme Court justices.

        In the case before the Supreme Court, the Government has conceded that the USPTO’s historic application of the test has been hit-or-miss, but that going forward the agency can be trusted to to draw the line against “marks that are offensive [or] shocking to a substantial segment of the public because of their mode of expression,
        independent of any views that they may express.” This would include words like FUCT, as well as certain sexually explicit images, for instance.

        Although the prohibition is content based, the government argues that its approach would be viewpoint neutral – just like many of the other conditions for obtaining trademark rights. This should lead to a lower level of scrutiny than that faced in Tam v. Matal (2017). In addition, my view is that Tam itself was decided on thin grounds because trademark denial does not actually limit anyone’s speech. The difficulty with merging speech issues with trademark law is – as Chief Justice Roberts stated at oral arguements – The whole point of this program [i.e., trademark law] is to regulate content.”

      • Tam 2.0? SCOTUS Likely to Strike Down Bar on Immoral/Scandalous Marks in Iancu v. Brunetti
      • Disenthrall: Stephan Kinsella on Tim Pool Subverse and Trademark

        I appeared today on the Disenthrall.me Youtube channel, host Patrick Smith, to discuss the trademark issues between Tim Pool and his company media Subverse, and StudioFOW which has a popular crowdsourced porn video game coming out also called Subverse. We touched a bit on bitcoin ownership, patent and copyright, defamation law, and trademark law, and related matters.

    • Copyrights

      • Could Article 13′s Upload Filters Be Thrown Out Because Of The EU-Canada Trade Deal CETA?

        Now that the EU’s awful Copyright Directive has been passed, it would be easy to give up, and assume that nothing more can be done. That’s far from the case. Under EU law, this directive must now be implemented through national legislation in all of the EU Member States. Although that process is compulsory, there is still plenty of scope for interpreting what exactly the Copyright Directive’s text means. As a result, the fight against the worst elements — the upload filter and ancillary copyright for news — can now begin at a national level.

        Moreover, there are other ways in which these aspects of the Copyright Directive can be challenged once they are law. A number of people have pointed out that Article 13 (now renumbered as Article 17) effectively imposes an obligation on sites to carry out “general monitoring”. That’s something that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the highest court of the region, has already thrown out because it runs counter to Article 15 of the EU’s e-Commerce Directive. Once upload filters are implemented in national law, they can be challenged in the local courts. Since a question that affects the whole of the EU is involved — are upload filters a form of general monitoring? — the national court would almost certainly make a reference to the CJEU for clarification. The hope has to be that the whole approach would be ruled as inadmissible, as has already happened twice with other cases of general monitoring.

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