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04.21.19

Links 21/4/2019: SuperTuxKart’s 1.0 Release, Sam Hartman Is Debian’s Newest Project Leader (DPL)

Posted in News Roundup at 11:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • The NULL TTY Driver Is Coming To The Linux 5.2 Kernel

      While initially some questions were raised over the usefulness and practicality of this driver when it was first proposed on the kernel mailing list, the NULL TTY driver is set to make its maiden voyage to mainline with the upcoming Linux 5.2 kernel cycle.

      The NULL TTY driver is intended for use-cases where no console driver is present/enabled as intended or otherwise. For init scripts and programs attempting to access /dev/console, it will error out while attempts like linking the console device to /dev/null will cause issues depending upon usage since it doesn’t behave like a TTY.

    • A Set Of Obscure Drivers Out-Of-Tree Since Linux 2.x Will See Mainline For Linux 5.2

      Should you have any Daktronics scoreboards, video displays, or digital billboards, mainline Linux kernel support appears to be in the works.

      While shielded off by Kconfig build switches and not enabled by default, what some will surely point to the growing size of the Linux kernel and its laissez faire approach to accepting new drivers, a set of drivers that have been out-of-tree since the Linux 2.x kernel days are now on their way to the kernel’s staging area with Linux 5.2. Not only that, but the code quality is admittedly less than stellar, hence the staging route.

    • Intel i40e Driver Supporting Dynamic Device Personalization With Linux 5.2

      Intel’s i40e / XL710 Ethernet driver will begin supporting Dynamic Device Personalization (DDP) with the upcoming Linux 5.2 kernel.

      The Dynamic Device Personalization allows the loading of profiles that allows altering the internal parser’s handling of frames. DDP profile can be loaded from user-space using Ethtool and with Linux 5.2 the i40e driver will support this functionality.

    • Oracle’s Ksplice Live Kernel Patching Picks Up Known Exploit Detection

      One of the areas of Oracle Linux and its “Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel” that the company continues investing in and differentiating it from upstream RHEL and alternatives is around Ksplice as their means of live kernel patching while Red Hat continues with Kpatch and SUSE with kGraft.

      The newest interesting feature to Oracle’s Ksplice is known exploit detection. When patching kernel vulnerabilities with Ksplice, besides applying the live kernel patch it’s also becoming informed about the vulnerability at hand. In the future if Ksplice finds the system trying to be exploited through one of these now-closed vulnerabilities, it will inform you the user/administrator.

    • Using Ksplice To Detect Exploit Attempts

      Ksplice is a very cool technology. Ksplice allows you to patch important security updates to your system without a reboot. The in-memory code is patched as well as on-disk components, closing all the gaps for a security vulnerability. All the while, your applications keep running.

      A new feature of Ksplice is Known Exploit Detection. When you patch your system with Ksplice, not only is the security vulnerability closed, but also tripwires are laid down for privilege escalation vulnerabilities. If an attacker attempts to exploit a CVE you’ve patched, Ksplice notifies you.

      Ksplice is both protecting your system and alerting you to suspicious activity. Very cool.

    • Linux Foundation

      • The Linux Foundation And Its Networking Superpowers

        I’ve written before about the Linux Foundation and the power of open, standards-based networking. Open source is having a significant impact in both the enterprise and with carriers around the globe. It’s also rubbing off on companies such as Cisco Systems, who are embracing a design philosophy that no longer locks customers into a specific networking stack. I recently had the opportunity to attend both the Open Source Leadership Summit (OSLS) in Half Moon Bay and the Open Network Summit (ONS) in San Jose. I would like to share some of my thoughts and insights from both events.

      • The Zephyr Project Announces Major Technical Milestone with New Long Term Support Code Release

        The Zephyr™ Project, an open source project at the Linux Foundation that aims to build a secure and flexible real-time operating system (RTOS) for the Internet of Things (IoT), today announced a technical milestone with the first Long Term Support (LTS) release. The Zephyr 1.14 LTS release, which has been developed by the diverse Zephyr community of almost 500 contributors, will offer vendors a customizable operating system that supports product longevity, security and interoperability.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Nvidia to publish open source version of Quake II RTX

        HEXUS shared the Quake II RTX video as an appendage to the news about real-time raytracing coming to the GTX 1060 or higher, back in March, during the GTC 2019 event. In brief, the video was presented by Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during the opening keynote of GTC 2019. The demo’s real-time ray traced global illumination and reflections, HDR visuals, dynamic direct and indirect lighting effects, mimicked physical material light reflection properties, and volumetric lighting effects were met with rapturous applause by GTC attendees.

      • NVIDIA To Transform Quake II RTX Demo Into An Open Source Retro Gaming Classic

        Applause broke out from the crowd at GTC 2019 when NVIDIA showcased a modded version of Quake II with overhauled graphics featuring real-time ray tracing and HDR visuals. Quake II RTX, as it is called, looks almost like a completely different game than the original version that launched over two decades ago. It was an impressive demo for sure, but NVIDIA has bigger plans for the mod.

        “Our goal is to publish an open source version of Quake II RTX,” Principal DevTech Engineer and Quake II RTX’s lead programmer, Alexey Panteleev, told AusGamers in an interview.

      • NVIDIA To Release Open Source Version Of The Quake II RTX Demo In The Future

        Last month, during GDC 2019, NVIDIA showed an impressive Quake II RTX demo, which showed how ray tracing can improve even old games, and it seems like players will soon be able to experience it for themselves.

        Speaking with Aus Gamers, Alexey Panteleev, the lead programmer of the Quake II RTX demo, confirmed that an open source version of it will be released in the future.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Project Leader Election 2019 Results
        Hi,
        
        The winner of the election is Sam Hartman.
        
        The details of the results are available at:
        
        https://vote.debian.org/2019/vote_001
        
        Stats for the DPL votes:
        |------+------+--------+-------+--------+---------+--------+-----------|
        |      |  Num |        | Valid | Unique | Rejects |      % |  Multiple |
        | Year |  DDs | Quorum | Votes | Voters |         | Voting | of Quorum |
        |------+------+--------+-------+--------+---------+--------+-----------|
        | 1999 |  347 | 27.942 |       |    208 |         | 59.942 |   7.44399 |
        | 2000 |  347 | 27.942 |       |    216 |         | 62.248 |   7.73030 |
        | 2001 |   ?? |     ?? |       |    311 |         |        |           |
        | 2002 |  939 | 45.965 |   509 |    475 |     122 | 50.586 |  10.33395 |
        | 2003 |  831 | 43.241 |   510 |    488 |     200 | 58.724 |  11.28559 |
        | 2004 |  908 | 45.200 |   506 |    482 |      52 | 53.084 |  10.66372 |
        | 2005 |  965 | 46.597 |   531 |    504 |      69 | 52.228 |  10.81615 |
        | 2006 |  972 | 46.765 |   436 |    421 |      41 | 43.313 |   9.00246 |
        | 2007 | 1036 | 48.280 |   521 |    482 |     267 | 46.525 |   9.98343 |
        | 2008 | 1075 | 49.181 |   425 |    401 |      35 | 37.302 |   8.15356 |
        | 2009 | 1013 | 47.741 |   366 |    361 |      43 | 35.636 |   7.56155 |
        | 2010 |  886 | 44.648 |   459 |    436 |      88 | 49.210 |   9.76513 |
        | 2011 |  911 | 45.274 |   402 |    392 |      93 | 43.030 |   8.65836 |
        | 2012 |  948 | 46.184 |   436 |    403 |      72 | 42.511 |   8.72589 |
        | 2013 |  988 | 47.149 |   402 |    390 |      73 | 39.474 |   8.27170 |
        | 2014 | 1003 | 47.505 |   412 |    401 |      61 | 39.980 |   8.44117 |
        | 2015 |  986 | 47.101 |   364 |    353 |      39 | 35.801 |   7.49454 |
        | 2016 | 1023 | 47.977 |   286 |    282 |      74 | 27.566 |   5.87787 |
        | 2017 | 1062 | 48.882 |   327 |    322 |      57 | 30.320 |   6.58729 |
        | 2018 | 1001 | 47.457 |   343 |    333 |      53 | 33.266 |   7.01674 |
        | 2019 | 1003 | 47.505 |   389 |    378 |      59 | 37.687 |   7.95701 |
        |------+------+--------+-------+--------+---------+--------+-----------|
        
        
        Kurt Roeckx
        Debian Project Secretary
      • Sam Hartman Is Debian’s Newest Project Leader, Aims To “Keep Debian Fun”

        While initially no qualified candidates stepped forward for the 2019 Debian Project Leader elections, following the extended nomination period and voting, Sam Hartman has been elected the newest leader of Debian.

        Sam Hartman is now the 17th Debian developer to serve as the project leader and will be taking the reigns from Chris Lamb who was first elected in 2017 and re-elected a year later. This is Sam’s first time serving as the DPL but he has been involved with Debian since 2000.

      • Debian Project Leader Elections 2019
      • DPL elections 2019, congratulations Sam Hartman!

        The Debian Project Leader elections just finished and the winner is Sam Hartman!

        His term as project leader starts inmediately today April 21st and expires on April 20th 2020.

      • [Old] People behind Debian: Sam Hartman, Kerberos package maintainer
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 19.04 is here

            Ubuntu 19.04 integrates recent updates from open infrastructure projects including OpenStack, Kubernetes, and Ceph – with advanced life-cycle management for multi-cloud and on-prem operations – from bare metal, VMware and OpenStack to every major public cloud.

            Optimised Ubuntu Server 19.04 and Minimal Ubuntu 19.04 images are available on all major public clouds.

            Amazon published Greengrass for IoT on Ubuntu, as well as launching the AWS DeepRacer developer-centric model for autonomous ground vehicle community development, also running Ubuntu.

            The Edge X stack and a range of industrial control capabilities are now available for integration on Ubuntu based devices, with long term security updates.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Lands: Here’s What’s New

            Canonical has released Ubuntu 19.04, the latest iteration of the open source Linux distribution, with a range of infrastructure-focussed upgrades including improved life-cycle management for multicloud and on-prem operations; from bare metal, VMware and OpenStack to every major public cloud.

            Ubuntu 19.04 (dubbed “Disco Dingo”) also uses Linux Kernel 5.0 so users can expect better hardware support and performance improvement. It also supports the latest Kubernetes release for containers orchestration.

            (Notably, Canonical as of late March also offers full enterprise support for Kubernetes 1.14 using kubeadm deployments, its Charmed Kubernetes, and MicroK8s, its popular single-node deployment of Kubernetes.)

          • Are non-LTS Releases of Ubuntu Still Necessary?
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Pop!_OS 19.04 Is Here For An Ubuntu-based Functional Linux Experience

              Just recently, I updated our popular list of the best Linux distros for playing games. While Steam OS topped the list, which shouldn’t surprise anybody, System76’s Pop!_OS ended up in the second position. At first, I was skeptical to put it there, given the existence of dedicated options like Game Drift Linux, Sparky Linux – GameOver Edition, Lakka Linux, etc.

              However, the versatile nature and the ability to get things up and running on Pop!_OS without tons of effort convinced me. Making this already great computing experience even better, System76 has just released Pop!_OS 19.04 with tons of small-big changes sprinkled all across the distro.

            • Ubuntu Studio 18.04 Extended Support

              Back in April 2018, Ubuntu Studio 18.04 was released as a non-LTS (Long-Term Support) version, which limited its support cycle to end January 2019. This was due to a number of factors, from the involvement of the team members at the time to the number of team members.

              In January 2019, the team came up with the idea for a Backports PPA of certain software to eliminate certain bugs and update the main packages (the ones that make Ubuntu Studio what it is). It was officially announced in February 2019.

              As such, the Ubuntu Studio team no longer supports Ubuntu Studio 18.04 unless the Ubuntu Studio Backports PPA is added. Adding the Ubuntu Studio Backports PPA increases the support length of Ubuntu Studio 18.04 to 3 years total, with support ending in April 2021.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Ola Bini’s statement from arbitrary detention at El Inca Prison, Ecuador

    The leaders of the world are waging a war against knowledge. The case against me is based on the books I’ve read and the technology I have. This is Orwellian – ThoughtCrime. We can’t let this happen. The world will close in closer and closer on us, until we have nothing left. If Ecuador can do this, so can others. We have to stop this idea now, before it’s too late.

  • Open source use grows 68% as corporations buy into the software solution

    Developers don’t want a corporation’s influence on code, evidenced by the tension created over Google’s use of Java. The debate was brought on by Oracle after it acquired Java creator Sun Microsystems.

    Open source affords companies “genuinely better software” and a lower cost of ownership, according to the report. It also allows companies to embrace more agile approaches to solving issues, as opposed to relying on proprietary companies.

    The meshing of corporate culture with open source communities could also boost DevOps in organizations. Together open source and DevOps have the ability to co-create solutions while monitoring it and offering patches for security flaws

  • Enterprise Embrace of Open Source Quickens

    Not to worry, Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) asserts in its inaugural survey of enterprise open source development, concluding that open-source software has “permeated the technology landscape,” often replacing proprietary code via commercial Linux distributions like Red Hat’s.

    “Enterprise open source today can also take the place of proprietary software for many different purposes from virtualization to message buses to application servers,” Red Hat noted in blog post describing the survey findings.

    “Open source is also helping to define and shape new approaches to infrastructure from containerization to software-defined-storage,” the soon-to-be-IBM unit added.

  • Use of Enterprise Open Source Software is Surging

    Industry use of enterprise open source software will be close to parity with proprietary software use – which is waning – within just two years, according to a major new survey by Red Hat.

    The report found that 68 percent of businesses have increased their use of open source enterprise tools over the past 12 months. Fifty-nine percent plan to do so in the coming year.

  • Why open source software adoption is accelerating in the enterprise

    For business applications, open source software is quite often the first choice. While early proponents may have focused on lowering costs, an ecosystem of integrations and developer skill sets centered around open source solutions have solidified its importance in the enterprise. Some 69% of IT professionals indicate that open source software either extremely or very important, according to Red Hat’s first State of Enterprise Open Source survey, published Tuesday.

    Of the 950 IT professionals surveyed, only 1% indicated that open source software was “not at all important.”

    Adoption of open source is likewise expected to continue with equitable levels of enthusiasm. In the last 12 months, 68% of respondents reported an increase in the use of open source software, while 29% reported no change. For the next 12 months, 59% expect an increase, while 39% expect no change.

  • Open-source enterprise software slinger Red Hat bravely reveals that IT bosses love open-source enterprise software

    Red Hat, now a part of Big Blue, on Tuesday released its first annual survey on the State of Enterprise Open Source, a statistical snapshot of what IT leaders think about Linux, Kubernetes and the like.

    The upshot is entirely unsurprising, dare we say predictable, for a company that sells… open source software to enterprises. Asked to rate the importance of enterprise open source (EOS) as it pertains to their organization’s enterprise infrastructure software strategy, fully 69 per cent said it’s either extremely or very important. Only 1 per cent said it’s not important at all.

    About as many of respondents say open source usage has grown within their organization in the past 12 months. Some 68 per cent said as much, with 29 per cent anticipating usage will stay the same and only 3 per cent expecting a decline.

  • 6 Top open source team chat software for self hosted environment

    Verbal communication is in society since the inception of the period when humans found a way to express feelings in words/sound. This communication wasn’t only limited verbal mode it latter came on paper and then on computers. The value of good communication has its own significant place not only professional but in personal life too. However, here we only talk about professional.

    Now, the enterprises or business are not confined to only small space or tract, they are spreading their arms and legs in multiple directions to achieve targeted growth. In such a scenario, the chatting among company’s employees working on some particular project is either on email or some public chatting applications. But from the perspective of security and exchange of sensitive over a public chatting platform such as WhatsApp would not be a wised idea.

    The office team chat software should be in the control of businesses or teams using them for some project. Where they can add different features into as they required, such kind of needs can be fulfilled by the open source collaboration group chat platforms without the interface of any third party. However, while implementing self-hosted open source team chat servers or applications for the team make sure that they are behind a firewall for enhanced security.

  • UK grant for open source healthcare

    The UK government has awarded a GBP 790,000 (about EUR 990,000) grant to research and implement eObs, an open source digital healthcare observation solution that can identify patients who are deteriorating and alert medical specialists. The solution, which uses information gathered by handheld devices, also helps cut workloads in medical wards by reducing the length of time patients stay and minimising the number of transfers and referrals.

  • How OBS Is Helping Expand Broadcasting of Esports

    They dig into how big the team is that work on growing the open source software that is used for video recording and live streaming as well as the challenges of working on this type of project.

  • Assessment of Open Networking, Bare Metal Switches, White Boxes, and NFVi

    A new networking software industry, including open network operating systems (NOS’s) and open source software of all types, was expected to emerge to create options and choices in the type of network infrastructures which all service providers and IT enterprise customers could put together.

  • Open source virtualization expands VM hardware and OS options

    You don’t have to use proprietary virtualization software to run virtual machines. The open source community boasts offerings for all different virtualization needs, so you can assemble a program that has exactly the features you want without high upfront costs or tricky service-level agreements.

    Open source virtualization software can help you avoid the costs that come with proprietary software from vendors such as VMware. It also enables you to get updates more frequently, and you can change the source code when necessary.

  • Open-source vs. build-your-own: What to choose? [Ed: Contains plenty of the classic FUD, typically spread by Microsoft and its wings, against FOSS (things that apply equally or are worse in proprietary software).]
  • OpenStack Follows The Datacenter Out To The Edge

    It is difficult not to be impressed with the rapid adoption of OpenStack since the open source cloud infrastructure software platform was first released.

  • Paris’ open source platform for city services is being introduced at a West Baltimore community center

    A tech tool built for cities is going neighborhood level in Baltimore.

    Lutèce, developed by the City of Paris, is an open source platform designed to house city services and offers a base platform on which to develop web and mobile applications. For Paris, it’s the digital home for the 200 various functions city government performs.

  • Puppet CTO: an open source mindset is more than just a code dump

    The Computer Weekly Open Source Insider team spoke to Deepak Giridharagopal this week in his role as CTO at Puppet in an attempt to examine the true nature of open source openness.

    As defined in clear terms here, Puppet is an open source systems management tool for centralising and automating configuration management tasks relating to both hardware and software.

    Giridharagopal argues that the ‘open’ part of open source doesn’t just refer to making the code physically available to the masses.

  • Open-Source Software Making Museums More Accessible

    Oftentimes, the process of visiting a museum begins at an institution’s website, and not all of them are accessible to people with disabilities. In fact, several notable NYC institutions’ websites are not readable by visitors with loss of vision. Those museums should take a tip from Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art whose open-source software—a tool that can be added to any website—”seamlessly integrates image descriptions into its online platform.” One feature is the “image description” option, which explains an artwork or artifact to the user. For example, “A work by Doris Salcedo is described as: ‘Four murky sepia-toned images of shoes embedded on a white wall by what appears to be surgical stitching.’” These descriptions can then be read aloud. Read more at Artsy.

  • This Open Source Software Could Make Museum Websites More Accessible

    A program developed by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago helps people with vision loss navigate art organizations’ websites.

  • Why the US Government Just Made Its Own Font

    ‘Public Sans,’ a sharp new typeface for interface design has been made freely available, courtesy of a somewhat unusual source: the United States federal government.

  • What to expect from DataStax Accelerate

    The Computer Weekly Developer Network and Open Source Insider team are off the nation’s capitol (we said capitol, not capital… it’s Washington DC) to witness the goings on at DataStax Accelerate.

    But before we get to the event, let’s sit back and remind ourselves who and what DataStax actually is.

    In the past, we have called DataStax a data platform provider — the company would no doubt more expansively refer to itself as: a provider of a hybrid cloud database built on Apache Cassandra.

    In more granular terms, DataStax technologies exist to provide an always-on active-everywhere distributed hybrid cloud database built on Apache Cassandra for real-time applications at scale.

  • Sole scientist uses open-source AI software to unlock protein folding

    A Harvard Medical school research fellow has used deep learning to predict the structure of any given protein based solely on its amino acid sequence.

    The advance—made using open-source software in the public domain—has the potential to transform virtually all facets of biomedical research, according to a study published online April 17 in Cell Systems.

    In coverage of the development by Harvard’s news division, the researcher, Mohammed AlQuraishi, PhD, said protein folding—the process by which a protein structure assumes its functional shape—has preoccupied biochemists over the last half century.

  • Sydney start-up Q-CTRL launches open source quantum error suppression library

    Sydney start-up Q-CTRL is releasing an open source library of error suppression controls for quantum computers.
    The library of controls integrates with IBM’s Qiskit programming framework for quantum computers and can be run on any quantum machine.
    “We’re removing barriers to the community’s use of these powerful techniques as we help bring the first commercially relevant quantum computers to reality,” said Q-CTRL CEO and founder Professor Michael Biercuk.

  • Making digital tissue imaging better

    The application is “open source” — or free for anyone to use, modify and extend.

  • Keeping the lights on when the grid takes a hit

    The open-source Severe Contingency Solver software can help government agencies better plan for power outages caused by extreme events.

  • HiveMQ Launches New Open Source MQTT Community

    HiveMQ, developers of the enterprise MQTT platform, today announced a new open source community to accelerate the adoption of MQTT and HiveMQ. The new open source community will initially host two open source projects: HiveMQ Community Edition (CE), a Java-based MQTT broker, and HiveMQ MQTT Client, a Java-based MQTT client. The community will provide high quality, professionally managed open source implementations of the MQTT standards to make it easier for IoT developers to experiment and innovate with MQTT and HiveMQ.

  • Banks can address Brexit uncertainty by choosing open source IT solutions

    As Brexit uncertainty continues to linger, EnterpriseDB’s Matt Peachey makes the case for open source banking software to solve IT professionals’ woes

  • CWI’s DIS group Releases Open Source Software Platform for Object-Based Broadcasting Production

    MMERSE, of which CWI’s Distributed and Interactive Systems (DIS) group is a member had, a successful final review meeting with the reviewers from the EU commission. The goal of the 2-IMMERSE project was to allow TV service providers to break free from the constraints of rendering a broadcast stream onto a single 16×9 frame. The final objective was to enable professionals to develop and deploy customizable interactive and multi-screen experiences that can adapt to the context of use. The results have been successfully demonstrated across multiple number of screens, multiple content genres (sports and drama), and multiple situations (home, schools and in public venues).

    In order to create new opportunities and sustain the project results, the core 2-IMMERSE platform and components are recently released under an open source license. In particular, the DIS group at CWI has contributed with several core platform components related to media synchronization and with a set of production tools for professionals that enable them to create new multi-screen and customizable experiences.

  • OpenFin Reaches Critical Mass [Ed: FOSS is in many way 'the' standard now, like it had been before the proprietary software wave of the 70s (ish). It's now a very bad business 'gamble' to go against FOSS, but the proprietary giants merely pretend to like FOSS. Lips service for PR.]

    Adam Toms, chief executive of OpenFin Europe, said the technology has become the standard operating system across capital markets as it is being used across nearly 200,000 desktops in 1,500 banks and buy-side firms.

    [...]

    The OpenFin desktop operating system is similar to the Android or iOS operating platform for mobile phones but was launched to provide standardisation across capital markets desktops so that the industry can deploy new applications more quickly and they will be interoperable.
    “OpenFin is on nearly 200,000 desktops across 1,500 unique firms, including 13 of the 15 largest investment banks, across a number of different areas,” added Toms.
    He continued that desktop numbers are expected to increase as OpenFin has a number of significant projects launching with clients this year.

    [...]

    Last year OpenFin contributed the FCD3 initiative to the Fintech Open Source Foundation. FINOS is an independent nonprofit organization promoting open standards and open source in financial services.

  • DPCI Announces Partnership with OpenKM for Open Source Document Management

    OpenKM is an open source Enterprise Document Management System licensed under the GNU GPL.

  • Open Broadcaster Software Adopts the SRT Streaming Protocol

    OBS Studio is a free open source tool that creators use to broadcast their content to the world through live streams and recordings. OBS Studio allows users to capture video from a variety of sources, such as cameras and computer screens, and composite them into professional productions that are used to entertain, teach, and inspire. It has formed the bedrock for creators to launch entire careers broadcasting to their audiences on platforms like Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, Facebook and more.

  • Events

    • Shashank Kumar: Event report for DebUtsav Delhi 2019

      The Debian India Community in Delhi along with Mozilla Delhi/NCR community organized DebUtsav Delhi 2019 on 9 and 10 March, 2019.

      For those who are unware, DebUtsav is an Indian style version of a typical Mini Debian Conference.

      This was the first Debian related conference to be organized in the Northern region of India. We have had Mini Debian conferences previously in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and in different cities of state of Kerala. But this was the very first one in the Northern Region.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Looks Beyond the Browser With WebThings

        Mozilla is perhaps best known for its Firefox web browser, but that’s far from the only thing the open-source organization is working on. On April 18, Mozilla relaunched its open-source internet of things (IoT) platform Project Things as WebThings as the effort moves beyond its experimental phase.

        The IoT landscape represents a particular set of challenges for developers, users and vendors alike as there are multiple competing standards and approaches to connect and control different devices. The challenges of IoT connectivity have led in some cases to interoperability issues and closed systems that make it harder to both integrate and secure devices.

      • Mozilla relaunches open source IoT platform Project Things as WebThings

        For the better part of two years, the folks at Mozilla have been diligently chipping away at Project Things, an open implementation of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web of Things standard for monitoring and controlling connected devices, and today, they reached a major milestone. Project Things is graduating from its experimental phase with a new name — Mozilla WebThings — and gaining a number of logging, alarm, and networking features.

        “The Mozilla IoT team’s mission is to create a Web of Things implementation which embodies those values and helps drive IoT standards for security, privacy and interoperability,” wrote software engineer Ben Francis in a blog post. “We look forward to a future in which Mozilla WebThings software is installed on commercial products that can provide consumers with a trusted agent for their ‘smart,’ connected home.”

        Mozilla WebThings consists of two core components: WebThings Gateway, a privacy- and security-focused software distribution for smart home gateways, and WebThings Framework, a library of reusable software components.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Cloudera: Plenty Of Upside As The Company Turns A New Page

      In light of how cheap Cloudera’s stock now is, it’s a good time for investors to review the bullish thesis for this stock. Recall that Cloudera’s all-stock merger with Hortonworks (HDP) closed earlier in January, and will start reflecting into Cloudera’s results next quarter. Aside from creating the most dominant, integrated vendor of Hadoop software in the market, the addition of Hortonworks’ revenues will also help mask Cloudera’s revenue deceleration into the mid-20s. Looking longer term, as data volumes explode and use cases evolve, complex data processing and management tools like Hadoop will only become more prevalent. In short, a combined Cloudera-Hortonworks has plenty of runway for growth.

  • LibreOffice

    • Libreoffice vs Apache OpenOffice: how to choose the right free office suite for you

      When it comes to free office software, there are two main choices: LibreOffice and OpenOffice (or, to give it its proper name, Apache OpenOffice). The two are remarkably similar, so how can you choose the right one for you?

      First, it’s worth thinking carefully about whether you need desktop office software at all. Provided you have an internet connection, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides might offer everything you need, without the need to install anything, and with the extra bonus that everything you create will be automatically saved to the cloud. No more lost documents, or having to email work to yourself.

  • CMS

    • Should Your LMS Be Open Source or Closed Source?

      When looking for a new learning management system, there are a multitude of questions that you must ask, starting with: What do I need my LMS to be able to do to allow us to reach our e-learning goals? One initial consideration that people often overlook is the type of technology an LMS uses. This is important to consider when evaluating whether an LMS will be able to provide the type of functionality you’ll need to meet your e-learning goals.

      When beginning the LMS evaluation process, you must first choose whether to use an open-source or closed-source learning management system. Let’s explore the differences between the two and highlight a few of the advantages of choosing an open-source LMS.

    • OIT team, students respond to recent Sakai outage

      Hoffman said that this outage is an anomaly.

      “IT professionals in the OIT completed performance improvements for Sakai in mid-December, following intermittent performance and availability issues last fall. These changes have resulted in improved reliability for Sakai in recent months, the recent unrelated Saturday evening outage not withstanding,” he said.

      The outage ended up affecting a number of students in its 9-hour duration.

      “I logged onto Sakai around 1 a.m. on Sunday to study for my psychology exam and noticed there was a “time out” message. I couldn’t do anything, so I just studied for another class,” said Diana Nguyen, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year.

    • 12 DevOps Tools for 2019 Worth Checking Out

      The merging of development and operations (DevOps) has introduced us to a whole new perspective regarding software development, from best practices such as continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) to an entirely different cultural philosophy. As a result we’ve seen an array of DevOps tools come into the mix to help enterprises meet the needs of these new practices and cultural requirements.

      Here are the top DevOps tools, in no particular order, sourced from G2 Crowd’s compiled list of “popular continuous delivery and source code management tools used by DevOps professionals”.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Blockchain

  • Google

    • 5 Key AI Announcements From Google Cloud 2019 & Why It’s Still The Big Friendly Open Source Giant [Ed: Google is not "Big Friendly Open Source Giant"; it's a proprietary software company (all the core things are proprietary) with 'surveillance capitalism' as the business model.]
    • Why You Should Consider Google AI Platform For Your Machine Learning Projects
    • Google Anthos reaffirms “managed open-source” as the future of hybrid cloud

      Google Anthos is a huge validation for Platform9’s approach to fully managed hybrid clouds powered by open-source technologies. In particular, the 5 tenets below that are at the core of the technology we’ve pioneered years ago are being used in production since 2015 by our enterprise customers across thousands of cloud deployments every today to power their business.

    • Google Cloud adds Confluent, MongoDB and other open-source projects as managed services

      Confluent, the company founded by the creators of the Apache Kafka streaming data platform, announced last week that its Confluent Cloud for Apache Kafka is to be available natively on the Google Platform.

    • Q&A: Advice from Red Hat aided Google Anthos’ open-source journey

      Even as Google has built one of the world’s most successful businesses on cloud computing, translating its innovations into enterprise-ready services has been a challenge in a competitive field. Now under new leadership and rebranded as Anthos, the contemporary Google Cloud Platform is the result of a series of decisions spanning open-source partnerships and storage technologies, layered with strong software support for a multicloud world.

      “I’ve been working with Google on their cloud efforts for almost 10 years now, and it started back when Google was about to get into the cloud business. They had to decide whether they were going to use KVM or Xen as their hypervisor, and we helped them do that,” said Mike Evans, vice president of technical business development at Red Hat Inc., noting his company’s role in aiding Google’s contemplation of open-source hypervisors for running their virtual machine services.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Capcom Home Arcade is a plug-and-play arcade stick with 16 games

      Capcom is getting in on the “classic” game bandwagon, announcing the Capcom Home Arcade, a €229.99 plug-and-play arcade system featuring support for two players and including 16 classic titles. If that price seems high to you, relative to emulator-based offerings from Nintendo, or even the FPGA-based solutions from Analogue, then … you’d be right. In exchange for roughly $260, you do get genuine Sanwa joystick parts, and emulation courtesy of the well-respected, open source FB Alpha emulator.

    • The Emulator In Capcom’s Home Arcade Is Stirring Controversy

      Its website markets the Capcom Home Arcade as an “authentic gaming” experience, in part because it utilizes the original arcade ROMs for games like Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting and Alien Vs. Predator and runs them with FB Alpha, an arcade emulator known for its snappy response times. As those in the emulation community were quick to point out, however, FB Alpha is open-source, and distributed under a license that strictly forbids people from trying to profit off of it.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Spectra open source biomedical imaging system affordable CATSCAN alternative

        Mindseye Biomedical has created a new open source biomedical imaging system called Spectra which is both safe and easy to use now available to preorder via the Crowd Supply website price from $299 for a Spectra Starter Kit. Spectra enables hackers and scientists to experiment with one of the technologies used in medical imaging electrical impedance tomography (EIT). Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the system that allows anyone to explore the fascinating world of medical physics from their own home, without a multimillion dollar CATSCAN.

        “Would you like to see imagery of your own lungs? Use impedance cardiography to monitor heart activity? Measure the dielectric spectrum of a bone, a tumor, or a strawberry? Are you interested in gesture-based user interfaces? Consider what you would do if you could easily and safely experiment with, and contribute to, the science of biomedical imaging. And what we could all do if there existed a Commons for health care technology.

  • Programming/Development

    • Ten industries using Python programming

      The report is part of ActiveState’s undertaking to better understand the needs and pain points of industry related to open source languages. ActiveState aims to decrease the costs and risks of managing open source languages and enable enterprises to maximize their related benefits.

      [...]

      Write and run code every step of the way, using Android Studio to create apps that integrate with other apps, download and display pictures from the web, play sounds, and more. Each chapter and app has been designed and tested to provide the knowledge and experience you need to get started in Android development.

    • Mozilla details Pyodide, which brings Python to browsers

      In a step toward its goal of building out a data science development stack for web browsers, Mozilla today detailed Pyodide, an experimental Python project that’s designed to perform computation without the need for a remote kernel (i.e., a program that runs and inspects code).

      As staff data engineer Mike Droettboom explained in a blog post, it’s a standard Python interpreter that runs entirely in the browser. And while Pyodide isn’t exactly novel — projects like Transcrypt, Brython, Skulpt, and PyPyJs are among several efforts to bring Python to browsers — it doesn’t require a rewrite of popular scientific computing tools (like NumPy, Pandas, Scipy, and Matplotlib) to achieve adequate performance, and its ability to convert built-in data types enables interactions among browser APIs and other JavaScript libraries.

    • Mozilla’s Open Source Browser Tool Iodide Can Be A Gamechanger For Data Scientists

      The last couple of years or so has witnessed the emergence of newer platforms for implementing Data Science projects. But the developers at Mozilla feel that these platforms couldn’t funnel in the potential of modern day browsers.

      To increase the ease of use and the way Data Analysis is done and communicated across the data science community, Mozilla launched a browser based platform Iodide for data science experiments.

      Iodide is a tool for data science experimentation and communication based on state-of-the-art web technologies. Notably, it’s designed to perform data science computation within the browser rather than on a remote kernel.

    • GitLab’s DevOps Plans Ride Growing Kubernetes Federation

      GitLab used the recent Google Next event to further tighten its embrace of the Google cloud ecosystem that it fully jumped into last year. That includes a deeper integration of Kubernetes into its DevOps processes.

    • Google Open Sources TensorFlow Version of MorphNet DL Tool

      Designing optimum deep neural networks remains a non-trivial exercise. “Given the large search space of possible architectures, designing a network from scratch for your specific application can be prohibitively expensive in terms of computational resources and time,” write Andrew Poon and Dhyanesh Narayanan on Google’s Research blog. “Approaches such as Neural Architecture Search and AdaNet use machine learning to search the design space in order to find improved architectures. An alternative is to take an existing architecture for a similar problem and, in one shot, optimize it for the task at hand.”

    • Google’s MorphNet optimizes AI models without sacrificing accuracy

      Machine learning algorithms have a fatal flaw: They’re costly to fine-tune (in terms of time and resources) from scratch for specific apps. Some automated approaches attempt to expedite the process by searching for suitable existing models, but researchers at Google’s AI research division have a better idea.

    • OpenJDK 11 replaces OpenJDK 10 as the default Java package in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

      Canonical has announced that OpenJDK 11 has replaced OpenJDK 10 as the default Java package in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. Canonical recently released Ubuntu 19.04 which also uses OpenJDK 11 as default, the move to bump the version in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS means that users who don’t want to upgrade can enjoy the latest features from OpenJDK 11.

      OpenJDK is an open source implementation of Java and is used by developers around the world to develop enterprise-grade applications.

    • JITLink Lands In LLVM 9.0

      Being merged into the LLVM code-base this Saturday is JITLink, a just-in-time linker for parsing object files and letting their contents run in a target process.

      The initial focus on JITLink is serving as a replacement to RuntimeDyld for dynamically linking Mach object files (Mach-O) for Apple/macOS platforms. But the plan is once the Mach-O x86_64 support is squared away to extend JITLink to also serve the likes of COFF/ELF object files and support other non-x86_64 architectures.

    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxxiv) stackoverflow python report
    • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: code-server [Ed: This helps promote and spread Microsoft's proprietary software with surveillance]

      This week’s highlighted open-source project makes it easy for developers to use VS Code on the go.

      Code-server is a VS Code instance developed by Coder that runs on a remote server, enabling VS Code to be accessed through a browser. Coder open-sourced the solution in March.

      Because VS Code is being hosted on a large remote server, tests, compilations, and downloads are faster, the code-server team explained. It also removes the computation limitations of local machines.

      It’s particularly useful for developers on the go who may be running off their laptop battery. Because computations are performed on the server, devices battery life can be preserved, the team explained.

    • Open Source Visual Studio Code Without Trackers Launched [Ed: When Microsoft says "open source" it doesn't mean "not spyware"; its "open source" actually helps sell proprietary software (MSVS) and has surveillance (Calculator also)]
    • Open Source Atom Editor Eases Code Reviews [Ed: It is in NSA PRISM now.]
    • Goodbye Joe

      Joe Armstrong is mainly known as the father of Erlang, and the Erlang family has always been relatively small and closely knit. Anyone whose first Erlang conference (usually Erlang Factory, Erlang User Conference, or CodeBEAM) had Joe in the attendance would have a similar reaction. There was a feeling of awe about how accessible the community was. Here you were, and big names like Joe and Robert—who everyone knew by their first names—were right around the same room, friendly, and willing to talk to anybody. You’d feel like you were welcome no matter who you were.

      Today, we’ve learned of Joe’s passing away. I wasn’t a super close friend of Joe, but I have known him and talked with him at various conferences over the last ten years or so. He’s unsurprisingly been a huge influence in my career, and so I thought I should write this little post about him and his impact. My words can’t give justice to the man he was, but I felt I needed to write this up.

    • Best 20 Data Science Courses Available For Increasing Your Data Scientist Skills
    • Snek and a Balloon
    • Install Python Package
    • Loops in Python explained with examples
  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Physics Is Pointing Inexorably to Mind

      In his 2014 book, Our Mathematical Universe, physicist Max Tegmark boldly claims that “protons, atoms, molecules, cells and stars” are all redundant “baggage.” Only the mathematical apparatus used to describe the behavior of matter is supposedly real, not matter itself. For Tegmark, the universe is a “set of abstract entities with relations between them,” which “can be described in a baggage-independent way”—i.e., without matter. He attributes existence solely to descriptions, while incongruously denying the very thing that is described in the first place. Matter is done away with and only information itself is taken to be ultimately real.
      This abstract notion, called information realism is philosophical in character, but it has been associated with physics from its very inception. Most famously, information realism is a popular philosophical underpinning for digital physics. The motivation for this association is not hard to fathom.
      Indeed, according to the Greek atomists, if we kept on dividing things into ever-smaller bits, at the end there would remain solid, indivisible particles called atoms, imagined to be so concrete as to have even particular shapes. Yet, as our understanding of physics progressed, we’ve realized that atoms themselves can be further divided into smaller bits, and those into yet smaller ones, and so on, until what is left lacks shape and solidity altogether. At the bottom of the chain of physical reduction there are only elusive, phantasmal entities we label as “energy” and “fields”—abstract conceptual tools for describing nature, which themselves seem to lack any real, concrete essence.

    • A novel data-compression technique for faster computer programs

      A novel technique developed by MIT researchers rethinks hardware data compression to free up more memory used by computers and mobile devices, allowing them to run faster and perform more tasks simultaneously.

      Data compression leverages redundant data to free up storage capacity, boost computing speeds, and provide other perks. In current computer systems, accessing main memory is very expensive compared to actual computation. Because of this, using data compression in the memory helps improve performance, as it reduces the frequency and amount of data programs need to fetch from main memory.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Screen-time is associated with inattention problems in preschoolers: Results from the CHILD birth cohort study

      Pre-school children spend an average of two-hours daily using screens. We examined associations between screen-time on pre-school behavior using data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study.

    • Physical Activity Reduces Children’s Risk of ADHD Linked to Longer Screen Times

      People of all ages are spending more of their day looking at their phones, computers and television screens, but parents now have another reason for limiting how much screen time their children get — it could lead to behavioral problems.

      According to a new study from the University of Alberta, younger children who receive two or more hours of screen time per day were nearly six times more likely to have poor attention spans and other behavioral problems than their peers who spent just 30 minutes on a screen at most each day.

    • Vetoing Anti-Abortion Bill, North Carolina’s Governor Pushes Back Against Right-Wing ‘Propaganda’

      Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that he was vetoing the so-called “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” or Senate Bill 359 (pdf).

      “Laws already protect newborn babies and this bill is an unnecessary interference between doctors and their patients,” Cooper said in a statement. “This needless legislation would criminalize doctors and other healthcare providers for a practice that simply does not exist.”

      Applauding the governor’s decision, the state’s Democratic Party tweeted, “SB 359 is a partisan bill grounded in anti-choice rhetoric, not medical science.”

      Both national and local rights groups celebrated Cooper’s move.

      “Victory for reproductive freedom!” declared the ACLU of North Carolina.

      “Thank you to [Gov. Cooper] for vetoing this extreme legislation,” NARAL Pro-Choice America said on Twitter, “AND dispelling anti-choice propaganda!”

    • ‘Finally!’: Court Orders EPA to Stop Stalling Potential Ban on Pesticide Tied to Brain Damage in Kids

      Citing unacceptable health risks for children, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ended household use of chlorpyrifos in 2000. However, farmers can still use the pesticide—which is also tied to nervous system problems in people and animals—on crops such as apples, broccoli, corn, and strawberries.

      The unanimous ruling (pdf) Friday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is the latest development in a drawn out court battle between the EPA—which blocked a planned agricultural ban on chlorpyrifos in 2017—and the anti-pesticide, environmental, and farmworkers organizations who disagreed with that decision.

      Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman, who represents the groups fighting to ban the pesticide from foods, commended the court for its ruling in a statement Friday.

  • Security

    • Someone is Leaking an Iranian Hacking Group’s Arsenal

      For the last few weeks, someone has been publishing the source code of the hacking tools used by a high-level attack team that’s been linked to the Iranian government. The tools belong to a group known variously as APT34 and OilRig, and whoever is dumping them appears to have some interest in not just exposing the tools but also the group’s operations.

      The leaks began in late March on a Telegram channel and have continued through this week. Researchers at Chronicle, a security company owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have examined the leaked tools and confirmed that they are indeed the same ones used by the OilRig attackers. OilRig has been connected to a number of intrusions at companies and government agencies across the Middle East and Asia, including technology firms, telecom companies, and even gaming companies. Whoever is leaking the toolset also has been dumping information about the victims OilRig has targeted, as well as data identifying some of the servers the group uses in its attacks.

    • Google will examine new Android developer accounts more closely

      For the better part of two years, Google has made a concerted effort to improve control over data in Android apps, chiefly by introducing system-level changes in Android, refining its Google Play developer policies, requiring developers to disclose the collection and use of sensitive data, and restricting access to certain permissions (like those involving SMS and call logs). But it hasn’t always been fully transparent with about these changes, and toward that end, the Mountain View company today announced that it’s “clarifying” several of its rules and reviewing the way it handles noncompliant apps.

    • GrammaTech Releasing Binary Analysis and Rewriting Interface into Open Source
    • Adobe Flash security tool Flashmingo debuts in open source community [Ed: Just kill Adobe Trash. The sooner, the better. This one helps openwashing of that malicious proprietary software blob, courtesy of CBS.]
    • Open Source Tool From FireEye Automates Analysis of Flash Files

      Security company FireEye this week announced the release of an open source tool designed to automate the analysis of Adobe Flash files in order to identify malware and prevent infections.

    • Counting Vulnerabilities In Open Source Projects and Programming Languages [Ed: Microsoft partner and anti-FOSS front group WhiteSource is once again using FUD in order to promote its brand and its non-FOSS 'services'; they advertise by bashing FOSS. Microsoft proud.]
    • The latest Windows patch is breaking even more PCs with antivirus installed

      Earlier this week we reported that Microsoft halted updates to Windows PCs running Sophos and Avast’s security solutions, following user complaints that their machines were locking up or failing to boot. Since then, the list of known issues for the rogue update was itself updated to acknowledge compatibility issues with Avira and ArcaBit antivirus installed, with Microsoft temporarily blocking updates to those affected systems, too. Today, Ars Technica noticed that Microsoft is investigating compatibility issues for systems with McAfee antivirus installed, though it hasn’t started blocking the April 9 update from those PCs just yet.

    • ‘WannaCry Hero’ Marcus Hutchins Pleads Guilty to Making Banking Malware [iophk: “It looks like they squeezed malware tech with a “plea bargain”. So I would take reports of a guilty plea with a large grain of salt. They probably threatened him with 1000s of years in prison as an alternative. The plea “deal” is not mentioned in the summary, thus misleading the public about the situation.”]

      Marcus Hutchins, a security researcher known for helping stop the destructive WannaCry ransomware, plead guilty to hacking crimes on Friday.

      Hutchins was accused of writing a banking malware called Kronos in 2014, after he finished high school. The researcher was arrested in Las Vegas after attending the hacker conference Def Con in 2017. Days later, he plead not guilty in a Milwaukee courtroom. He was scheduled to be tried this summer.

    • Google will begin to block sign-ins from embedded browser frameworks in June

      Phishing — schemes to nab personal data with disguised malicious webpages and emails — constituted more than 70% of all cyber attacks in 2016, according to a Verizon report. In an effort to combat them, Google last year announced it would require users to enable JavaScript during Google Account sign-in so that it could run attack-detecting risk assessments, and today, the company said it’ll begin to block all sign-ins from embedded browser frameworks like Chromium Embedded Framework starting in June.

    • A deeper look into OpenVPN: Security vulnerabilities

      OpenVPN is the backbone of online security. It is supported in many popular virtual private network (VPN) providers such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, and continues to receive frequent updates well into its 17th year in operation.

      It’s an unwritten rule of information technology, however, that popular security protocols will attract the largest contingent of hackers. As OpenVPN is open source, it is therefore much easier for hackers to locate and exploit security vulnerabilities within the software design.

      Nevertheless, the value of the open-source model is that it promotes open collaboration, thus encouraging other programmers to suggest changes to the design. This way, security vulnerabilities can be communicated directly to the developers, who then have the option to patch the software and eliminate the vulnerability.

    • DARPA’s New/Old Plan for a Hack-Proof Voting Machine

      The Pentagon’s top research arm is working to build a hack-proof voting machine by combining something brand new with something old – specifically, secure open-source hardware and software using advanced cryptography on one end, and good old paper on the other.

      The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently awarded the tech company Galois a $10 million contract for the project, which grew out of a broader agency project to remedy hardware vulnerabilities, the snappily named SSITH, for System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware.

      Galois, which focuses on ensuring the trustworthiness of hardware and software, will design the system, which will start with a different approach used by established voting machine makers, who have come under criticism over the vulnerabilities in their systems, Motherboard reported. For one, it will use open-source software, rather than the proprietary systems used by companies such as Election Systems & Software. It also will use open-source hardware, built from designs developed under the SSITH program.

    • New Attacks (and Old Attacks Made New)

      This is shown again in Fortinet’s latest Global Threat Landscape Report for the fourth quarter of 2018, where we reported that exploits that targeted individual organizations — often variations of existing malware or the misuse of FOSS (free/open source software) security tools — continue to grow at a rapid pace: 10% over the quarter, while the number of unique exploits they experienced increased by 5%. This suggests that, despite some reports suggesting that malicious actors follow the same work routines as their victims, cybercriminals didn’t take much of a break over the holidays. And as you would expect, all of this malware — especially botnets — is becoming more complex and harder to detect.

    • Security flaw in French government messaging app exposed confidential conversations

      Tchap wasn’t built from scratch. The DINSIC, France’s government agency in charge of all things digital, forked an open-source project called Riot, which is based on an open-source protocol called Matrix.

      In a few words, Matrix is a messaging protocol that features end-to-end encryption. It competes with other protocols, such as the Signal Protocol that is widely used by consumer apps, such as WhatsApp, Signal, Messenger’s secret conversations and Google Allo’s incognito conversions — Messenger and Allo conversations aren’t end-to-end encrypted by default.

    • French Government’s ‘Secure’ WhatsApp Replacement Hacked In Just 90 Minutes

      In order to better protect official conversations, the French government developed its own secure instant messaging alternative to WhatsApp.

    • List Of World’s Most Hacked Passwords Is Here And It’s Embarrassing

      It comes as a no brainer that “123456” is the world’s most hacked password and 23.2 million people are still using it. Next in the list is the extended version of the first password – “123456789.” 7.7 million users use this as the password to keep their accounts safe.

      The third spot is grabbed by “qwerty” with 3.8 million users followed by “password” appearing 3.6 million times and the last password in the list of the world’s most hacked passwords is “111111” with 3.1 million using it.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • What Does it Mean to Teach Peace?

      Depending on your age, people associate peace with protesting the Vietnam War, songs, movies and marches of the 1960’s, the time before 9/11, quiet getaway retreats, or their yoga class. So what does it mean to teach peace and howwould one do it? I think the whyis obvious.

      I have been teaching all my life – first more than a decade at the high school level and after that, college students. Most of my courses were writing, composition, and literature, but at a certain point in my career I heard about the field of Peace Studies, and I wanted to learn more. I went back to school, completed the most meaningful coursework I have ever undertaken, and began teaching peace. People frequently ask me what it means to teach peace, or even what specifically I teach.

      Here’s the short version. Conflict is not bad; conflict is necessary for all people to have a voice, but conflict is not the same as violence. Violent conflict is not inevitable. Just as people can be taught to kill in the armed services, they can be taught to use other methods of interaction. Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution includes concepts, history, and strategies so that people can learn to stop being violent. My goal is for people to stop killing each other.

    • My Unforgettable College Stabbings

      Violence can and does occur anywhere at any time to anyone. While our current mass shooting epidemic has thrust this fact of being alive into our daily consciousness, I learned this lesson long ago: First, when I was mugged and stabbed in the early 90s during my freshman year at Tufts University, a private liberal arts college in the suburbs of Boston; then later, during my senior year, when I lived off-campus with a mentally ill man who stabbed three girls, all students too, at a party; and finally, still much later, when I embarked on a career as a public defender, defending poor people charged with crimes, often violent ones.

      But let’s start with my own stabbing. It was a rainy Monday night when it happened. I’d just entered the campus on a footpath adjacent to my dormitory; on the other side of the path was a large, well-lit athletic field, which, when the weather wasn’t foul, was populated by people walking, jogging, or exercising their dogs. I was coming back from an assignment at a museum near Harvard for my art history class, and was hurrying to get out of the rain. I was wearing one of those once ubiquitous yellow Sony Sport-Walkmans and blasting “Burnin’,” one of my favorite Bob Marley albums, when I heard footsteps behind me.

      There were three of them. “Townies” was what the police called them: young men who resented and occasionally preyed upon the presumed (often correctly) affluent college students who came from near and far each year, infiltrating their town. They were a multi-racial crew, one black, one white, and the third Latino; all three wore puffy “Starter” athletic jackets that used to be in fashion and each had a bandana covering his face to his eyes – the first thing that tipped me off to the trouble I was in.

      Before I could react, the Latino guy grabbed me by the neck and the white guy pulled out a large Rambo-style Bowie knife which he waved menacingly close to my face. The black dude, a behemoth suitable to play linebacker in the NFL, stood in front of me, his arms folded, glaring. The white guy told me to “give it up,” but I told him I didn’t have anything. He said “empty your pockets,” and shaking, I pulled my keys and a few coins from my jeans before things turned violent.

      Raising his knife high, the white guy suddenly brought it crashing down, stabbing me right in my left thigh. I stumbled backward and it’s that stumble that probably saved my life, because that’s when the white guy tried to stab me in my chest. Later, at the hospital, the impression the knife-point made on my chest where it had failed to pierce the skin was a vivid reminder of my near-mortality – a hickey from the grim reaper himself.

    • Following a suicide attack on the FSB, Russia has cracked down on leftist activists nationwide, sweeping up more than a few random bystanders

      On Halloween last year, a 17-year-old anarchist set off a bomb inside the Federal Security Service’s office in Arkhangelsk, killing himself in the blast. An investigation into the terrorist attack has led to a sweeping crackdown on leftist activists across Russia, with many arrests, hundreds of raids, and some felony charges. Federal agents have taken a special interest in “Narodnaya Samooborona” (Popular Self-Defense), the country’s biggest anarchist organization, which the authorities blame for the Arkhangelsk bombing and more than 200 other “extremist actions.” Meduza special correspondent Pavel Merzlikin looks at the persecution of anarchists, following the attack on the FSB, and how the campaign has dragged in random bystanders.

    • Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone

      Recent US sanctions have been directed at the heart of Venezuela’s economy: the oil industry, an industry that has also been crippled by the continued sabotages on the electric power grid of the country.

      But when you think that enough suffering has been imposed on the people of Venezuela with all sorts of warfare actions taken out from the toolbox of a full scale Hybrid War, the US government strikes again with another hit. This time by preventing the sale of Venezuelan oil to Cuba, which amounts to killing the two proverbial birds with one stone.

      That is precisely the intention of the latest US sanctions against Venezuela targeting 34 oil tankers dedicated to transporting crude from Venezuela to Cuba. The measures against the Venezuelan cargo vessels owned by state-run oil company PDVSA are doubly illegal since they are also extraterritorial affecting two other firms: the Liberia-based Ballito Shipping Incorporated and the Greece-based ProPer In Management Incorporated.

      Venezuela has been the main supplier of crude to the island based on a joint economic agreement that guarantees preferential prices of oil to Cuba in exchange for medical and educational services to Venezuela.

      Cuba has been subjected to almost 60 years of relentless cruel economic and financial blockade by the US. At the beginning of this year, not coincidentally, the State Department issued a statement saying it would suspend Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act for 45 days only (starting on February 1) in order to conduct “a careful review”. After a further extension of 30 more days, John Bulton is expected to announce Trump’s full application of Title III with no exceptions, and no more waivers.

      So far successive US presidents suspended the lawsuit provisions for up to six months. This has been done since the beginning and Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump himself have signed this provision every six months as allowed by the law.

      Title III is the most insidious piece of the Helms-Burton Act, which allows US citizens who had properties nationalized by the revolutionary State of Cuba – including Cuban-Americans who were not US citizens at the time of nationalization – to file a suit in the United States against persons that may be “trafficking” in those properties.

    • Egypt Votes on Referendum Extending El-Sissi’s Rule to 2030

      Egyptians voted Saturday on constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in power until 2030 and broaden the military’s role — changes blasted by critics as another major step toward authoritarian rule.

      The referendum came amid an unprecedented crackdown on dissent in recent years. El-Sissi’s government has arrested thousands of people, most of them Islamists but also prominent secular activists, and rolled back freedoms won in a 2011 pro-democracy uprising.

      Polls opened at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT). Voting will stretch over a period of three days to allow maximum turnout.

      Outside a polling center near the Giza Pyramids, around two dozen people, mostly elderly women, lined up waiting to cast their votes. Heavy police and army security was reported at polling stations throughout the capital city.

      Haja Khadija, a 63-year-old housewife, said she came for the “security and stability” of the country. “We love el-Sissi. He did lots of things. He raised our pensions.”

    • Pentagon Spending Set to Hit Near-Record Levels, But ‘Establishment Says We Can’t Afford’ Progressive Policies

      In his 2020 budget request, Trump called for $750 billion in Pentagon spending. Democrats countered with a $733 billion offer, which would still represent a substantial increase over the Pentagon’s 2019 budget.

      Either number would bring U.S. military spending to “near-historic highs,” according to the Post.

      “Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office projected the United States would spend more than $7 trillion on defense over the next decade,” the Post reported, “which is in line with both the White House’s and House Democrats’ budget plans.”

      As Stein noted on Twitter, only a few progressive lawmakers are asking how the United States can afford such spending—a question frequently raised about bold progressive policies.

    • The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”

      After sponsoring juntas until well into the 1990s, the US went after Central and South America with “free trade” deals before once again working with extremists. The recent elections of Argentina’s Mauricio Macri and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro are major blows to socioeconomic and cultural progress. The recent decision of Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno to allow British police to arrest Julian Assange by dragging him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange was granted asylum, is a further indication of that country’s alignment to US elite interests.

      NOT TOO FAR LEFT…

      In the recent past, the US attempted to hook Latin America into the “free trade” paradigm. From the viewpoint of the US neoliberal project, a devastating turn of invents took place in the late-1990s to early-2010s. A number of left(ish) governments came to power in Central and South America, a region traditionally thought of by US elites as their “backyard.” The governments included: Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Álvaro Colom of Guatemala, Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic, Mauricio Funes of El Salvador, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Lula da Silva of Brazil, Luis Guillermo Solís of Costa Rica, and Manuel Zelaya of Honduras.

      Together, these representatives pushed backed against decades of US corporate and military domination.

    • France: Leaked military documents underscore need to end flow of arms to Yemen conflict

      Responding to leaked classified French military documents published today by investigative news site Disclose, highlighting the widespread use of French weapons in the conflict in Yemen, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf said:

      “These leaked documents provide clear evidence that French military equipment supplied to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is being widely used in the conflict in Yemen.

      “Despite overwhelming evidence, Western arms supplied to the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led Coalition are being used to commit or facilitate possible war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen, states such as France have shamelessly flouted their international obligations by continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in violation of the Arms Trade Treaty.

    • Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism

      President Donald Trump’s recent veto of a bipartisan resolution to force an end to American military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen reminds me of some words by V.S. Naipaul, the Trinidadian author. In his book “A Bend in the River,” Naipaul says, “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.”

      The war in Yemen has reached a level of barbarism as few wars in recent history. It has become a humanitarian nightmare that only a cessation of hostilities by Saudi Arabia and the provision of immediate assistance to the people in Yemen can help solve. The Trump administration, however, has chosen to continue supporting the Saudi regime.

      U.S. military assistance takes several forms. It goes from refueling Saudi and Emirati jets leading the bombing campaign in Yemen, to providing targeting and military advice to the Saudi forces, and providing fuel and armaments, including precision-guided missiles for use against the Yemeni Houthis.

    • American History for Truthdiggers: Vietnam, a U.S. Tragedy

      It is the war that never dies. Vietnam, the very word shrouded with extraordinary meaning in the American lexicon. For some it represents failure; for others guilt; for still more, anger that the war could have and should have been won. Americans are still arguing about this war, once the nation’s longest. For those who lived through it—the last war the U.S. fought partly with draftees—it was almost impossible not to take sides; to be pro-war or anti-war became a social and political identity unto itself. This tribal split even reached into the ranks of military veterans, as some joined antiwar movements and others remained vociferously sure that the war needed to be fought through to victory. Indeed, today, even the active-duty U.S. military officer corps is rent over assessment of the Vietnam legacy.

      Regarding America’s role in the Vietnam War, the myth-making began long before North Vietnamese tanks overran U.S.-backed South Vietnam in April 1975. Indeed, myths and exaggerations pervade the entire collective memory of this brutal war. Some believe that the politicians and antiwar protesters sold out the U.S. military. That a “liberal” press was complicit in this treason as well. Neither was the case. Others claim that with more military force, more bombing and more patriotic backing, the U.S. military would have marched away as the victor. This, too, is patently false. Without destroying North Vietnam in a genocidal fury and thereby risking world war with China and the Soviet Union, it is unlikely the U.S. Army and Marine Corps could have forced the communists to capitulate. The communists actually led a coalition of nationalists fighting a civil war that was ultimately about independence. Such wars are quite difficult to “win,” in any traditional sense. Then there’s the common belief that all veterans were treated terribly upon their return. While some indeed were abused, the historical record demonstrates that the scale and pervasiveness of the mistreatment have been exaggerated.

      Each of these myths carries political baggage and serves some political purpose. So divided was Vietnam-era American life that one’s stance on the war framed almost all social and political thinking. For some it still does. People on opposite sides of the debate also often draw conclusions and “lessons learned” from the Vietnam War and apply them to contemporary U.S. military and foreign policy. This has proved dangerous and disruptive. Starkly applicable “lessons” from the past rarely translate into coherent contemporary policy. Still, today, with the U.S. military again ensconced in seemingly never-ending armed conflict, the truth about America’s tragic foray into Vietnam is more vital than ever.

      A careful study of the informational sources and the works of the most respected historians of the conflict demonstrates some important truths: that the United States lost the Vietnam War both politically and militarily. That the U.S. may have been on the “wrong” side and acted far more like a European colonial power than most Americans are apt to admit. That the U.S. engaged in wanton destruction of a rather poor society in its fruitless quest for “victory” over the communists. That global communism itself was no monolith and that although Hanoi gladly accepted support from Russia and China, this remained very much a Vietnamese war. That the press, protesters and skeptics had not sold out their country, but, rather, were on the right side of history. The Vietnam War, in sum, should never have been fought—the distant country was never a vital national security threat to the United States; American intervention was, ultimately, a national crime and tragedy.

    • Revolutionary Journalism

      Journalist Wilfred Burchett at work at President Ho Chi Minh’s jungle headquarters in Thai Nguyen, March 1954.

      On 4 April this year, I was invited to attend the celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Huỳnh Thúc Kháng School of Writing and Journalism. Set up on the instructions of President Ho Chi Minh on 4 April 1949, the school was housed in a simple bamboo hut on the shores of Núi Cốc Lake (Hồ Núi Cốc) in Thai Nguen province, some 80 kilometres north of Ha Noi.

      In 1949, the Resistance against French colonialists, backed by US Imperialists, was facing difficult times. From 4 April to 6 July 1949, 42 young students were trained by 29 lecturers, including General Vo Nguyen Giap, in Revolutionary journalism, so they could put their talents and newly acquired expertise at the service of the Revolution and contribute to their country’s struggle for Independence and Liberty. At the end of the course, they produced the first edition of their revolutionary newspaper, “Huỳnh Thúc Kháng”.

      President Ho Chi Minh was not able to visit the school, but, as a seasoned journalist, editor and publisher, he sent letters in which he outlined his advice to journalists.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange put through ‘hell’ at embassy, says former diplomat

      Julian Assange was always respectful but went through “hell” in the Ecuadorian embassy as officials tried to “break him down”, according to a former senior diplomat.

      Fidel Narvaez worked at the London embassy for six of the seven years the WikiLeaks figurehead lived there and says they became friends.

      Assange was evicted a few weeks ago after a change of government in Ecuador.

    • Vets for Peace to Barbara Lee: Support Manning and Assange

      Veterans for Peace has issued a press release in support of both Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, and East Bay Veterans for Peace, Chapter 162, want to talk to Congresswoman Barbara Lee about it. Opponents of US wars have idealized Lee, California’s District 13 Congresswoman, for her antiwar record, and might therefore expect her to defend Manning and Assange for exposing US war crimes.

      “Barbara Lee speaks for me” became a popular slogan both in and outside California’s District 13 after she voted against the Patriot Act and the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in the “War on Terror,” right after 9/11. She has demanded a new AUMF every time the US has started a new war since, and she usually votes against military spending bills, as her constituents demand. However, she recently cast a deciding vote in the House Budget Committee to approve a bill with a $17 billion increase in military spending for next year and another such increase for 2021.

      I spoke to Daniel Borgstrom, a member of East Bay Veterans for Peace, Chapter 162.

    • Defending Julian Assange is the need of the hour

      Last week, the British police entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after Ecuador withdrew his asylum. While some are arguing for his release, others are defending his arrest. Still others are asking, is Mr. Assange a journalist and WikiLeaks a news organisation?

      Whistleblower and former Central Intelligence Agency contractor Edward Snowden said that the charges pressed by the U.S. against Mr. Assange are incredibly weak. He tweeted that the arrest is “a dark moment for press freedom”. One of the leading thinkers of the world, Noam Chomsky, said “the Assange arrest is scandalous in several respects”. He argued that WikiLeaks was “producing things that people ought to know about those in power”. In an interview to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, Mr. Chomsky said: “People in power don’t like that, so therefore we have to silence it. OK? This is the kind of thing, the kind of scandal, that takes place, unfortunately, over and over.”

      [...]

      Last week, the British police entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after Ecuador withdrew his asylum. While some are arguing for his release, others are defending his arrest. Still others are asking, is Mr. Assange a journalist and WikiLeaks a news organisation?

      Whistleblower and former Central Intelligence Agency contractor Edward Snowden said that the charges pressed by the U.S. against Mr. Assange are incredibly weak. He tweeted that the arrest is “a dark moment for press freedom”. One of the leading thinkers of the world, Noam Chomsky, said “the Assange arrest is scandalous in several respects”. He argued that WikiLeaks was “producing things that people ought to know about those in power”. In an interview to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, Mr. Chomsky said: “People in power don’t like that, so therefore we have to silence it. OK? This is the kind of thing, the kind of scandal, that takes place, unfortunately, over and over.”

    • Holy Week and WikiLeaks

      When Pilate can find no guilt, the crowds are influenced by temple agents to demand his crucifixion. Christ is duly tormented, humiliated and put to very public and agonising death on the cross, but with his last words, he pleads for his tormentors: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Meanwhile his followers go into hiding, terrified that they will be next.

      But what has this story got to do with us now? Although the cartoon depiction of Jesus doesn’t look much like Julian Assange, it provoked a thought exercise: imagine being witness to those events 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem. There is something biblical about fleeing into exile for 7 years. One overarching parallel is the dominance of the Roman Empire akin to that of the American influence and the craven subjugation of the British Establishment – and other territories under Roman/American Rule. Many supporters of Assange have already labelled Lenin Moreno as Judas having sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver. (Note to Moreno: it didn’t end well for Judas).

      Imagine how the tabloids and MSM would treat Jesus today: “He mixes with lepers and is probably leprous himself”; “What about that long-haired Mary Magdalene who seems overly attentive to his needs?” “His hair looks like he just spent 40 days in the wilderness”. Meanwhile, the alternative media has become the voice in the wilderness, unsettling Herod’s peace of mind.

    • Assange – «The Persecution»
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • What Might a Green New Deal Look Like?

      “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.

    • Warren, Markey, and Pressley to Join Launch of Sunrise Movement’s 250-City Road to a Green New Deal Tour

      Three prominent Massachusetts Democrats will join community and labor leaders in Boston Thursday night to kick off the youth-led Sunrise Movement’s 250-city Road to a Green New Deal Tour.

      Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, along with Rep. Ayanna Pressley, are among many politicians and activists slated to speak at the tour’s eight major stops throughout April and May. Markey—who introduced the Green New Deal resolution with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in February—and Pressley will attend the launch at the Strand Theatre in Boston. Warren, a 2020 presidential hopeful, will join via video.

      As Common Dreams reported last month, the national tour, which is cosponsored and supported by several local climate groups, aims to make the Green New Deal a key focus on the 2020 election.

    • Trump Appointed Fossil Fuel Insiders to Federal Agencies. It’s Backfiring.

      President Trump enjoys broad support from conservative Christians because of his promises to attack reproductive rights and stack the courts in their favor, but thousands of anti-choice “evangelical environmentalists” lashed out at his administration this week. Their gripe? An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to gut the regulatory analysis behind pollution standards that have drastically reduced mercury and other toxic emissions from coal-burning power plants. Mercury, after all, can harm fetuses and developing brains.

      In a letter published in The Hill this week, the Evangelical Environmental Network became the latest group to speak out against an EPA that would heavily revise the cost-benefit analysis behind its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS, which have required coal plants to invest in pollution controls that reduced the amount of mercury they spew into the air by up to 90 percent over the past decade. Progressive environmental groups, lawmakers in both parties and even electric utilities also came out against the proposed rule-making during a public comment period that ended this week.

      The unusual dissent from conservative evangelicals was the latest evidence that Trump’s plan to unleash fossil fuels production by stacking federal agencies with industry insiders and slashing regulatory oversight is backfiring. The president’s first picks to run the EPA and the Interior Department resigned in scandal, and their replacements are already mired in investigations and ethical concerns.

      Earlier this week, ethics watchdogs requested an internal investigation of EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s involvement in the proposal to gut MATS, which are estimated to save $37 to $90 billion in public health costs each year by reducing thousands of asthma and heart attacks and cases of lung cancer. Wheeler was formerly a lobbyist hired by the Murray Energy coal mining company, which challenged the economic analysis behind the regulations and asked the Trump administration to throw them out as recently as 2017, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

    • In Ruling on Coal Mining, Federal Judge Issues Latest Rebuke of Trump’s Attack on Public Lands

      Green groups on Saturday celebrated the latest federal ruling aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from rolling back environmental regulations that were put in place by his predecessor.

      Judge Brian Morris issued a ruling late Friday stating that the Interior Department broke federal law when it lifted former President Barack Obama’s moratorium on coal mining in public lands.

      Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who resigned last December due to multiple ethics scandals, did not order adequate studies of the environmental impact of coal, Morris said. The Trump administration had claimed the plan was “a mere policy shift” in order to avoid having to order such reviews.

      Morris refuted this claim, saying Trump had initiated a “major federal action” without taking the necessary precautions required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970.

    • Megacorporations Want More Ocean Farms. That’s a Huge Mistake.

      The world’s fisheries are on the brink of total collapse, and entire species of fish are threatened with being wiped out completely. But in spite of so much at stake for marine life and ecosystems, some policymakers and thought leaders believe we should transform our ocean waters into vast, floating farmlands.

      Fish industry groups and megacorporations are now calling on Congress to reintroduce legislation that would open federal waters to this practice of industrialized farming, known as “aquaculture.” But there are many reasons to be wary of this industry-backed effort. Foremost among them is that any attempt to open large swaths of our federal waters to aquaculture needs to address the urgent, connected issues of environmental impact and fish welfare. And there’s increasing evidence that ocean fish farming isn’t sustainable in any form.

      Aquaculture can create crowded, polluted, stressful conditions for fish that threaten our health and surrounding wild marine life. For the consumer, it may mean low-quality fish dinners produced from waters contaminated by waste and disease.

      Much of the country’s seafood is imported from large-scale fish farming: Aquaculture now accounts for about 50 percent of the world’s fish. Proponents for expanding marine aquaculture into federal waters point out that the U.S. ranks 16th in the world in aquaculture production. For the commercial aquaculture industry, the main barriers to opening federal waters to floating fish farms are a complicated permitting process and overlapping federal agency jurisdictions.

      While previous legislation aimed at opening federal waters to aquaculture made overtures to environmental impact, it did not address fish welfare, which is intimately linked to water quality. In typical ocean farm settings, fish are kept in pens, where overcrowding can lead to deteriorating conditions as animal waste accumulates. Chronic stress, aggressive behavior and susceptibility to disease also increases with poor water quality. Cramped floating farms, like those encouraged by the proposed legislation, may enrich companies’ bottom lines, but they rely on inhumane and unsanitary water quality.

    • How the White House is Spinning Earth Day

      This Earth Day, many of us will mark the occasion by joining a community clean-up or getting out and enjoying the outdoors. Unfortunately, this year the Trump administration will be observing this celebration of our environment differently — by plotting to undermine critical safeguards that help keep our air and water clean.

      Most people aren’t familiar with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), but it plays a critical role in keeping our communities and our environment healthy and safe.

      Signed into law in 1970, just a few months before the very first Earth Day, NEPA simply requires that the government take environmental, economic, and health impacts into consideration before going forward with any major project, and that the public have an opportunity to weigh in. The law empowers communities to access information about the decisions that affect their lives and ensures that their feedback on these decisions is heard.

      99 percent of the time, projects reviewed under NEPA move forward without much scrutiny or delay. But in the rare cases where a proposed project would pose a serious threat to communities, this safeguard is critical to protecting them from corporate polluters and their allies in government.

      One of the most high-profile examples of this is the Trump administration’s attempt to force through approval of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline based on an outdated review from 2014 that was the basis for President Obama’s rejection of the pipeline. Thanks to NEPA, a federal court rejected this reckless plan and required the government to go back and take a closer look.

    • Decrying ‘Toxic Alliance’ of Macron and Polluters, Climate Campaigners Stage One of France’s Largest Ever Acts of Civil Disobedience

      Peaceful demonstrators descended on La Défense to protest government complicity and companies fueling the global climate crisis.

      Carrying signs that condemned Emmanuel Macron as “president of polluters,” the protesters blocked access to the buildings of three major businesses and the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition.

      The direct action was organized by Action Non-Violente (ANV) COP21 and the French chapters of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, but members of at least 14 climate groups reportedly joined the mass mobilization.

    • Do the Harmless Pangolins Have to Become Extinct?

      The pangolin is a timid little creature going about its nocturnal ways, slurping up ants and termites with a tongue longer than its body. It has no teeth. Its defense when threatened is to roll up into a ball shielded by its scales — an armor plating that is the cause of its woes.

      Ranging in size from 3 to 73 pounds, there are eight distinct species of pangolin — their name originates in the Malay word ‘penggulung’ meaning the one that rolls up. In 2014, the International Union for Conservation of Nature redlisted all pangolins, classifying the four Asian species ‘endangered’ — of these, the Chinese and the Malay (Sunda) are critically so. Similarly threatened by decreasing numbers, the four African species were listed ‘vulnerable’.

      The principal reason for their plight is their defense mechanism, the scales, which in some cultures are claimed to hold magical properties. Thus in parts of Africa, a woman interested in a particular man is believed to be able to control him by burying a pangolin scale outside his front door. In China and East Asia, the scales are considered to have medicinal benefits.

      The meat is also considered a delicacy. They have long been hunted in Central Africa for bushmeat but the numbers lost are not easy to calculate. In 2018, an estimate of 400,000 to 2.7 million killed for food was reported by researchers using three different methods — hence the wide range. The lead author of the study, Daniel Ingram of University College London, expressed greater confidence in the lower number.

      The third Saturday in February, which fell on the 16th this year, is World Pangolin Day. Unfortunately, there was little cause for celebration as the following customs seizures from just the previous two months manifest.

    • As Youth-Led Campaign Kicks Off, Poll Shows Majority of Canadians Want a Green New Deal, Too

      Ottawa-based polling firm Abacus Data asked 2,000 Canadians whether they support or oppose “a massive government jobs program and investment in clean energy, green technology, and electrification” that “would aim to move Canada to 100 percent clean energy by 2030 and make it so Canada produces and consumes the same amount of carbon emissions by 2050.”

      Sixty-one percent of respondents said they support or somewhat support the proposal, recently popularized by a growing grassroots movement in the United States and progressive Democrats in the U.S. Congress. When pollsters asked Canadians if they would back a deal that “required corporations and the wealthy to pay higher taxes,” support for the proposal shot up to 66 percent.

      The survey was commissioned by North99, a Canadian nonprofit composed of “progressive people united by a concern about rising inequality and the increasing influence of the far-right.”

      Responding to the polling results (pdf) in a statement to The Toronto Star, North99 co-director Taylor Scallon said: “The conversation among politicians has revolved around pollution pricing, but climate change is an existential challenge and requires a solution that matches its scale. Canadians know we need a much broader mobilization against climate change.”

    • Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife

      Emblematic of his time and education, Aldo Leopold wrote during 1920 that predators were “the common enemy of both the stockman and the conservationist.” But, in one of Sand County Almanac’s classic essays, Aldo writes about a radical transformation that he underwent just a handful of years later. After shooting into a pack of wolves, he describes reaching “…the old wolf in time to watch the fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and the mountain. I was young then and full of trigger-itch: I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunter’s paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

      In another essay, Leopold describes Escudilla—a mountain massif in Arizona’s White Mountains—that was defined for him by the grizzly bear, “the outstanding achievement of… the pageant of evolution.” Leopold tells the tragic tale of how Old Bigfoot, one of the last grizzly bears in Arizona, was killed on Escudilla: “The government trapper who took the grizzly knew he had made Escudilla safe for cows. He did not know he had toppled the spire off an edifice a-building since the morning stars sang together… Escudilla still hangs on the horizon, but when you see it you no longer think of bears. It’s only a mountain now.”

      Challenging the ethos of domination, Leopold emerged as one of the first scientists in the twentieth century to assert that apex predators such as wolves and mountain lions both diversify and stabilize ecosystems. He became an advocate for saving all the pieces of ecological systems, a notion that would become the backbone of the Endangered Species Act passed 40 years later.

    • ‘We Will Occupy Until You Take Action’: Extinction Rebellion Plans to Shut Down Heathrow Friday on Fifth Day of Protests

      Onlookers praised the demonstrators’ commitment to non-violent protest. At least 460 demonstrators had been arrested as of Thursday evening, and police continued to make arrests at Parliament Square.

      On Thursday, three protesters were denied bail and sent to jail for a month, pending their upcoming trial in May. Cathy Eastburn, Mark Ovland, and Luke Watson had been arrested the day before for climbing on top of a train in East London. The same day, demonstrators had superglued themselves to train cars at Canary Wharf station, with Extinction Rebellion arguing that disrupting and inconveniencing the population may be the only way to force the U.K. to take meaningful action against the climate crisis.

    • U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary

      The U.S. Senate on April 11 voted 56-41 to confirm President Trump’s nominee David Bernhardt, former oil and gas corporation and Westlands Water District lobbyist David Bernhardt, to be the Secretary of the Interior.

      Senators Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), as well as Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), joined Senate Republicans in voting for Bernhardt’s confirmation.

      Representatives of conservation, fishing and environmental justice organizations blasted the vote, with one group calling Bernhardt Trump’s “most conflict-ridden cabinet nominee.”

      ”After all of the clear documentation about his conflicts of interest and his apparent corruption, it’s really disappointing to seeing the Senate agree to make this guy the secretary with 56 votes,” said John McManus, President of the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA). “It seems to me that the Senate had all of the information to make a good decision and instead made a bad decision. I am fairly certain that we will be engaged for the next two years in fighting off aggressive federal government efforts to drain the Delta dry and export northern California water hundreds of miles to grow almonds instead of salmon.”

      “It’s another shameful day in Washington, DC as perhaps the most corrupt possible nominee for a cabinet position is confirmed by the Senate. The Interior Department is now fully captured by destructive industry and big money politics. I’m disgusted,” echoed Noah Oppenheim, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA).

    • The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems

      Sometime in the near future it is highly probable that the Arctic will no longer have sea ice, meaning zero ice for the first time in eons, aka: the Blue Ocean Event.

      Surely, the world is not prepared for the consequences of such an historic event, which likely turns the world topsy-turvy, negatively impacting agriculture with gonzo weather patterns, thus forcing people to either starve or fight. But, the problem may be even bigger than shortages of food, as shall be discussed.

      Still and all, it’s somewhat consoling to know that the Blue Ocean Event is quite controversial within the scientific community. There are plenty of climate scientists that believe Arctic ice will be there beyond this century. One can only hope they are right because an ice-free Arctic will indubitably create havoc for life on the planet.

      However, disturbingly, the prospects for enduring sea ice don’t look good.

    • Gas Driller at Center of 2019 Pulitzer-Winning Book on Fracking Still Faces Legal Battles

      Eliza Griswold’s book Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America examines the impacts of fracking in western Pennsylvania, and on Monday it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.

      Griswold’s book carefully refuses the birds-eye view of fracking’s impacts — readers will find few state or national statistics — and instead presents the detailed results of seven years of on-the-ground reporting. It traces the story of one extended family in western Pennsylvania, a small handful of neighbors, and eventually the two-person legal team that took on their case, now covered by a sealed settlement with natural gas driller, Range Resources, which still faces additional related legal battles today.

    • Sea creatures store carbon in the ocean – could protecting them help slow climate change?

      As the prospect of catastrophic effects from climate change becomes increasingly likely, a search is on for innovative ways to reduce the risks. One potentially powerful and low-cost strategy is to recognize and protect natural carbon sinks – places and processes that store carbon, keeping it out of Earth’s atmosphere.

      Forests and wetlands can capture and store large quantities of carbon. These ecosystems are included in climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies that 28 countries have pledged to adopt to fulfill the Paris Climate Agreement. So far, however, no such policy has been created to protect carbon storage in the ocean, which is Earth’s largest carbon sink and a central element of our planet’s climate cycle.

      As a marine biologist, my research focuses on marine mammal behavior, ecology and conservation. Now I also am studying how climate change is affecting marine mammals – and how marine life could become part of the solution.

    • Puerto Ricans Are Resisting Policing as a Solution to Crisis

      In Policing Life and Death: Race, Violence, and Resistance in Puerto Rico, author Marisol LeBrón shows how Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship to the U.S. has shaped policing in the archipelago as a form of “colonial crisis management.” Her new book exposes the ways policing harms marginalized communities and deepens social inequality. In this interview, LeBrón discusses the legacy of punitive “solutions” and the various ways Puerto Ricans are challenging state violence and building alternative forms of justice.

  • Finance

    • US bitcoin trader could face death penalty over Thai ‘seastead’

      Insisting the six-meter platform was 13 nautical miles from Thailand and in international waters, the company accused the Thai authorities of acting as “judge jury and executioner of the historic very first seastead.” It hoped to resolve the issue “diplomatically,” it said.

      The Seasteading Institute, the organization backed by Thiel, is currently in negotiations with the government of French Polynesia to build a floating city in a semi-autonomous “seazone” within its territorial waters.

    • Yellow Vests Demonstrate in Paris as Notre Dame Donations Highlight Wealth Inequality

      The contrast between the French government’s and upper class’s response to Monday’s fire at Notre Dame and ongoing inaction to combat income inequality, was a primary driver of mass protests in Paris on Saturday.

      The Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Vests, staged their first major protest since large portions of the historic cathedral burned, apparently due to an electrical short-circuit, to call attention to the €1 billion ($1.1 billion) that the country’s richest families have donated to help rebuild the church, months after the yellow vest movement began demonstrating against income inequality.

      “You’re there, looking at all these millions accumulating, after spending five months in the streets fighting social and fiscal injustice. It’s breaking my heart,” Ingrid Levavasseur, a founder of the movement, told the Associated Press.

    • Yellow Vest Anger Burns in France, Fueled by Notre Dame Fire

      French yellow vest protesters set fires along a march route through Paris on Saturday to drive home their message to a government they see as out of touch with the problems of the poor: that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the only problem France needs to solve.

      Like the high-visibility vests the protesters wear, the scattered small fires in Paris appeared to be a collective plea to the government to “look at me — I need help too!”

      Police fired water cannon and sprayed tear gas to try to control radical elements on the margins of the largely peaceful march, one of several actions around Paris and other French cities.

      The protesters were marking the 23rd straight weekend of yellow vest actions against economic inequality and President Emmanuel Macron’s government, which they see as favoring the wealthy and big business at the expense of ordinary workers. Protesters see themselves as standing up for beleaguered French workers, students and retirees who have been battered by high unemployment, high taxes and shrinking purchasing power.

    • Notre Dame and the Fight for Sacred Lands

      In Chiapas, Mexico, I first considered the difference between the kind of society that builds monumental architecture in stone and the kind that nurtures great people in buffalo-hide tipis.

      I had arrived at Palenque on a chartered bus after spending a week in this place so far from the Great Plains and the Southwest, the homelands of my father’s people the Dakota and my mother’s people the Diné (also known as Navajo). I was with a busload of Indigenous representatives from Native nations across the Western hemisphere. Tall Lakota men from Alberta and South Dakota, sticking out among their much-shorter brethren, Maya from Guatemala and Mapuche from Chile and Kuna from Panama. We ventured down the trails of the National Park filled with towering temples. The Kuna and Inca come (from Peru) dressed in colorful dresses, speaking quietly but authoritatively in their languages as we set out.

      I stumbled upon two Puerto Rican women, one White and the other Black, leaning with their backs pressed upon the wall of the temple, eyes closed to the sun and hands pressed palms down to the stone. I watched them as they began to chant in Spanish, apparently trying to absorb some of the energy from the building.

    • When Americans Get Their Tax Refunds, They Go to the Dentist

      Megan, who currently lives in Pittsburgh, was hospitalized in September for pneumonia. It was just a one-day stay, and she had health insurance, but even so, the bills piled up, eventually totaling $6,500.

      The only thing that made paying them realistic, she said, was that she received a $4,200 tax refund this year.

      “I would have put off my medical payments [without the refund],” she told me via email. “Between rent and day to day expenses, I don’t have the income to pay both. … Even with insurance the numbers seemed insurmountable until I got my refund. If it wasn’t for that I would have had to reapply for payment plans with the risk of being sent to collections.”

    • I’ve Seen Goldman Sachs From the Inside. We Need Public Banks.

      For far too long, Wall Street has wreaked havoc on people’s personal financial stability and our economy as a whole. I should know. As a managing director at Goldman Sachs in the early 2000s, I witnessed firsthand how the banking industry lined their pockets at the expense of customers.

      Not much has changed since then. After the mortgage fraud crisis of 2007-08, the biggest banks were slapped with $216 billion in fines – a drop in the bucket for firms that raked in a cool $237 billion last year alone. Infamously, not a single banker went to jail. Today, Wall Street banks continue to commit fraud, enjoy front-row lobbying seats in Washington, write legislation on their own behalf, and maintain easy access to credit courtesy of the Federal Reserve.

      The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 placed some regulations on banks’ riskier bets. But, crucially, that reform failed to divide banks into two entities: one dealing with people’s FDIC insured deposits, and the other able to create complex securities and engage in derivatives trading using our deposits as collateral. Ten years after the financial crisis, our money is still very much at risk of being gambled away.

      This isn’t just about protecting individuals’ personal nest eggs. State and city governments deposit their funds in these banks, too. This means that our own tax dollars are underwriting Wall Street’s most reckless investments — from the oil companies warming our climate to the private prisons jailing our kids to the gun manufacturers who have turned our schools into free-fire zones.

      This is why it is more important than ever to create public banks tasked with using state and local funds for public good, not private profit. And my home state of California is leading the way. A new bill, AB 857, backed by the California Public Banking Alliance would give cities the freedom to start public banks accountable to the communities they serve. Based on North Dakota’s successful model – now celebrating its 100th year – these banks would reinvest public funds in their communities by offering low-interest business and student loans, investing in clean energy, and supporting local infrastructure projects.

    • Nurses Are Leading Strike Efforts — Where Are the Physicians?

      The U.S. healthcare “system” is completely and utterly broken. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. system ranks 37th in the world, all while spending dramatically more on healthcare than other wealthy countries. Tens of millions remain without any health insurance coverage. For many, medical bills can mean economic ruin—some surveys show that up to 66.5% of all bankruptcies in the U.S. are a result of medical expenses. On the front lines of this system are nurses and physicians—individuals who, by and large, decided to go into the profession to help patients and communities—are becoming more frustrated by their inability to do just that, sometimes even causing providers to leave the profession. While many inside the U.S. medical industrial complex have had enough, nurses throughout New York City (NYC) are putting their collective foot down and showing us the way to fight for better outcomes for patients and better working conditions for providers.

      In March, members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) at New York’s “big four” hospitals (Montefiore, Mount Sinai, New York Presbyterian-Columbia and Mount Sinai West/St. Luke’s) voted by an overwhelming 97% margin to authorize a strike. The nurses’ fight centers around conditions for patient care, including safer staffing ratios inside hospitals so that nurses can adequately care for each patient. Throughout NYC, nurses are forced to work long shifts and are chronically understaffed. The nurses who recently threatened to strike recognize that these working conditions are part of hospital executives’ push to squeeze greater and greater profits out of workers at the expense of patient health—and they have had enough. New York nurses are fighting just as teachers across the country did earlier this year—including the tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers who struck last January for better conditions for in schools. They are discussing the strike option just as more than 31,000 Stop & Shop workers in New England are striking against cuts to healthcare benefits and pensions and the CAMBA Legal Services workers voted to walk off the job if their demands are not met. The nurses are also taking up the example of healthcare workers around the world, including the 40,000 Irish nurses who recently struck. Nurses are recognizing they have the power to fight and win better patient care. But while nurses across New York are standing up for themselves and their patients, a big question remains: Where are the doctors and why are they not threatening to strike together with nurses?

    • Paid Family and Medical Leave: a Bargain Even Low-Wage Workers Can Afford

      The FAMILY Act was reintroduced in the 116th Congress by Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate and Rosa DeLauro in the House. It would provide workers with income when they need to take time off for their own health including recovery from childbirth, to care for a seriously ill family member or spouse, or to bond with a new baby or an adopted or foster child. One of the arguments against paid family and medical leave that opponents frequently use to try to discredit this popular social insurance program is that workers can’t afford it. The payroll deduction, technically a tax, is actually an insurance premium that finances these paid leaves.

      The money deducted from a worker’s paycheck goes into an insurance fund that can only be used for one purpose: to replace two-thirds of workers’ lost wages, up to a capped amount, for up to 12 weeks when they need to take a leave. Lower- and middle-wage workers would fall under the cap. The FAMILY Act covers workers in all companies regardless of the number of employees or whether the worker is employed full-time or part-time. It covers temporary workers as well as the self-employed.

      The cost of the program is modest and can be funded by small employee and employer payroll contributions, with each contributing two-tenths of one percent of monthly pay. Total cost is just 0.4 percent (0.004) of payroll.[1]

      To provide a context for understanding whether a payroll deduction of 0.2 percent of payroll places a large burden on workers, especially those earning low wages, we compare the required payroll deduction for paid family and medical leave for households in each quintile of the earnings distribution with what households in that quintile pay for auto insurance.

    • Fun Fictions in Economics

      Economists pride themselves on being the serious social science, the one most deserving of status as an actual science. I will let others make the comparative assessment, but there is an awful lot of nonsense that passes as serious analysis within economics. For cheap fun, I thought I would use a nice spring afternoon to highlight some of my favorites.

      [...]

      The job-killing robots story is sometimes diverted into a scenario that is just around the corner instead of being here today. Of course, we can’t definitely rule out that at some point in the future productivity will not accelerate sharply, but it is worth noting that this pickup does not seem to be on the immediate horizon. Investment is not especially high as a share of GDP, averaging 13.4 percent over the last three years. That compares to 14.2 percent from 1999 to 2001, and 14.4 percent from 1980 to 1982, its post-war peak.

      Investment is not even especially high in the more narrow categories of computers and information technologies, where we would expect the robots to live. This means that businesses are about to start a mass displacement of workers with robots, they don’t seem to be spending too much money on the process.

      Perhaps the most important point here is that there is no reason to assume that a pickup in productivity growth would be associated with mass unemployment and a collapse of wage income. The 1947 to 1973 Golden Age was a period of rapid wage growth, as were the years from 1995 to 2001, when the stock bubble collapsed and the economy fell into recession.

      Bad economic policy can prevent workers from sharing in the benefits of productivity growth (e.g. Peter Peterson-types demanding deficit reduction, thereby reducing output and employment), but it would be crazy to blame robots because Wall Street billionaires are slowing growth and pushing the economy toward recession.

    • Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly

      As Britain staggers from crisis to crisis, with the Brexit debacle rending the country apart, with its prisons in a “disgraceful” state, a knife crime epidemic, and the doctors of its Health Service at “breaking point” it might be imagined that the government would avoid playing futile military games and concentrate on trying to run the country. But national crises don’t matter to the would-be big-spenders of the UK’s Ministry of Defence whose titular head Gavin Williamson, the paintball strategist, announced on April 3 that Britain would “spearhead” a ‘Joint Expeditionary Force’ in a military mission called ‘Baltic Protector’. The anti-Russia manoeuvres are to involve 2,000 military personnel from the UK and a further thousand from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. (It is notable that NATO designates Sweden and Finland as “neutral countries”.)

      Williamson demonstrates his ineptitude all too frequently, and recently confirmed his confused mental state by stating that “As Britain prepares to leave the EU, our unwavering commitment to European security and stability is more important than ever. Deploying our world class sailors and marines to the Baltic Sea, alongside our international allies, firmly underlines Britain’s leading role in Europe.” (In spite of NATO he considers Sweden and Finland to be allies of the UK.)

      Britain’s “leading role” depends on a defence force whose state of morale is at an all-time low, with “the proportion of personnel recording satisfaction with service life [having] fallen from 60% in 2010 to 41% last year.” The forces have been cut to the bone. Their strength in 1990 was 305 thousand. Ten years later this had sunk to 207 thousand and in 2010 it was 191 thousand. Today there are 135,000 people in uniform. Their equipment is out of date and they could hardly fight their way out of a paper bag.

      The Baltic Protector Mission is said by Britain’s defence ministry to underline “the importance of protecting Europe at a time of increased threat” which, most fortunately for Europe, and especially the UK, does not exist. There is no intention on the part of Russia to engage in military operations against the Baltic states or anyone else in Europe.

    • Stop & Shop Strikers Are Standing Up for All Grocery Workers

      The current New England grocery workers’ strike will likely have long-lasting national significance. The strike that started April 11 with 31,000 Stop & Shop grocery workers at about 240 supermarkets in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut is about to enter its second week. It is the largest private-sector strike in the United States since 2017 and the largest strike in the U.S. retail sector since the Southern California grocery workers’ strike of 2003-2004.

      The strike is an important political event. Over the past few days, several Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Corey Booker, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, have expressed support for the strikers, with Warren, Biden and other state and national politicians, including a couple of Republican lawmakers, meeting with workers, who are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, on the picket lines. On Thursday, Biden and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh headlined a rally for striking workers in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

      The striking workers have also gained support from other quarters of the labor movement. Almost 2,000 Teamsters who work as truck drivers for Stop & Shop or its vendors and suppliers are refusing to make essential food deliveries during the strike, leading to bare shelves, early closings and shuttered stores. Virtually no Stop & Shop workers have crossed the picket lines – local management and “striker replacements” are attempting to do their work — and formerly loyal customers are staying away in droves. Coming during the critical Easter holiday retail period, the Stop & Shop strike threatens to hurt the finances of the company, which generated $44 billion in sales from all its U.S. supermarket chains in 2018.

      The workers are fighting against sweeping contract concessions demanded by Shop & Shop (owned by the Dutch giant Ahold Delhaize, which was formed in July 2016 from the merger of two existing retailers). The outcome of the strike will have national implications: If the company succeeds in weakening the workers’ health care and pension plans, and lowering the rate for Sunday pay, it will try to impose concessionary contracts on its workers in other states (New York State has more than 200 Stop & Shop stores, and the company also owns the Giant and Food Lion grocery chains). A management victory would also give encouragement to other unionized food retailers seeking to reduce costs and boost profits by slashing employee benefits.

    • The Stop & Shop Strike Is Showing There’s Still Power in a Union

      Roughly 31,000 employees of the northeastern grocery chain Stop & Shop have been on strike for nearly a week across more than 240 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The workers, represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), walked out on April 11 after voting to authorize the strike in March. During what is reportedly the largest private sector strike in three years, talks continued Tuesday, with neither side able to make an agreement.

      Stop & Shop is owned by Ahold Delhaize, a retail company based in The Netherlands. Ahold Delhaize is a $44 billion company, and it’s saved millions thank to the corporate tax breaks implemented by the Trump administration. Workers say that, despite these numbers, Stop & Shop is attempting to cut employee pensions, raise the cost of healthcare and roll back overtime pay. They’re also concerned about the company’s rising use of automation, which many believe will lead to inevitable layoffs.

      The workers have received vast support throughout the community, while the stores have been forced to scrape by with temporary staff in many areas. An employee named Temika who works at a store in Providence uploaded a Facebook video detailing what the current state of the store. “I had a family member go in today and just take a look around,” she said, continuing, “It looked terrible. The prepared foods, the deli, the seafood department, the bakery—everything was shut down. The tables looked exactly the way they looked the day [everybody went on strike], which means they haven’t been rotating anything.”

      The current state of Stop & Shop should be a legitimate concern for the company. The Southern California grocery strike of 2003 to 2004 led to the establishment of new grocery chains and customers shifting their allegiances after they began shopping at different stores. The same trend could very well impact New England. Customer Gail Zulla told a local news station that she used to shop at a Providence location of Stop & Shop but had been picking up her groceries at the local rival Shaw’s. “It’s the busiest I’ve ever seen a Shaw’s in my life,” she said, “It’s like it’s a snow storm. There’s no bread, there’s nothing.” She said she’ll take her business elsewhere while the strike is underway, adding, “maybe I’ll stay at Shaw’s.”

    • The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience

      Amazon is a company that’s drunk on profits and market share.

      Last year, the online retail giant netted $11 billion in profits while paying $0 in taxes. The company controls nearly half of all online sales in the United States, and its Amazon Web Services division is the leader in providing cloud-based computing services, counting Netflix and the U.S. government among its major clients.

      You’d think that with all this money, Amazon would be a leader in tackling climate change, since it’s the biggest threat to our planet — and since Amazon uses massive amounts of energy. However, after taking some steps in the right direction on clean energy, Amazon has since made it clear that profits are the only thing that matters.

      A few years ago, Amazon had no commitment to using any clean energy. After damning reports from Greenpeace, campaigning by groups like Green America, and pressure from the company’s own shareholders, in 2014 Amazon made a quiet announcement that the company would eventually move to 100 percent renewable power to run its massive servers.

      Unlike many IT companies, Amazon set no firm timeline for reaching its goal.

      Since then, the company has slowly been adding clean energy to power its servers, finally hitting 50 percent in 2018. Recently, Amazon announced it will be adding three more wind farms (only one of which is in the U.S.), a couple of months after Greenpeace raised concerns that Amazon was backtracking on its clean energy commitments.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • China is using Facebook to build a huge audience around the world

      The Chinese Communist Party’s approach to Facebook is, ahem, two-faced. At home, to stop citizens sharing messages it cannot read, it blocks the site. Clever users can defy the ban, but only 3m do. It is easier to use WeChat or Weibo, local rivals that the state watches closely.

      Abroad, by contrast, China uses Facebook to dish up propaganda. Squillions of foreigners see its posts. The English-language page of CGTN, a state mouthpiece, has 77m fans—the most of any news site. China now runs five of the six media outlets with the biggest Facebook followings. None had more than 3m fans in 2014. If their current growth rates continue, by 2022 China Daily and CGTN will overtake the page of Cristiano Ronaldo, a footballer, who is Facebook’s most followed celebrity.

      This has given China a loud bullhorn. [...]

    • Your Check is in the Mail

      Yang’s campaign slogan is “Humanity First,” which reflects his big campaign issue: the fact that automation and robotics are displacing human labor throughout the economy. Jobs are a key issue across the country The solution may not be more jobs, but something entirely different, like Yang’s Freedom Dividend.

      Cutting labor costs enriches investor/owners, but it’s catastrophic for workers. Self-driving vehicles are going to put truck drivers out of business, just as scanners have reduced supermarket checkout clerks, and online purchasing has devastated retail outlets.

      Automation affects not just factory-line workers, but most wage-labor, even on a professional level. Doctors, lawyers, and tax preparers are being replaced by remotely controlled automated services, the way travel agents have been replaced by online booking, and teachers and college professors now compete with online courses. Certain service sectors–plumbers, electricians, contractors, waitresses–continue to resist automation, but they too are vulnerable.

      There are still jobs, of course, but they no longer provide the economic security they used to for the bulk of the population. Traditional wage-labor is a shrinking proposition, ever harder to achieve, leaving most of the population redundant, less and less able to support itself. The jobs that remain are all too often low-skill and low-pay, insufficient to support a family.

    • William Barr Is a Complete Tool. It’s Time for Robert Mueller to Testify.

      On October 20, 1973, shortly before he would be fired, Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox called a press conference to explain why he would not be taking President Nixon up on the latter’s offer to have Senator John Stennis vet the White House tapes.

    • Warren Becomes First 2020 Contender to Announce Support for Impeachment Proceedings Against Trump

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren became the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to call for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump on Friday.

      The Massachusetts Democrat decided to call on the House to move to impeach Trump shortly after reportedly reading the redacted Mueller report on Thursday.

      Warren pointed to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s finding that Trump may have obstructed justice as Mueller was investigating his campaign’s contacts with Russia, as a reason for bringing charges against the president.

      “To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways,” Warren tweeted.

    • Small donor support helps Trump campaign pull in unprecedented Q1 haul

      President Donald Trump’s campaign reported raising $30.3 million in campaign funds in the first quarter of the 2020 presidential race, according to FEC filings.

      With the eye-popping fundraising haul, Trump flirts with record-breaking numbers. Only Hillary Clinton collected more in the first quarter of a presidential campaign — $36 million in April 2007 — but $10 million of that came as a transfer from her Senate campaign. Trump’s contributions outpaced former president Barack Obama’s $26 million in 2007 first quarter earnings. Obama didn’t declare for re-election until April 2011.

      When combined with funds raised by the Republican National Committee, the president walks into the 2020 contest having raised $168 million since January 2017.

    • To Never Forget or Never Remember

      The act of “Never Forgetting” is being militarized against Muslims once again. And this is by a President who is popular because of his willful act of forgetting—that is nostalgia. On the heels of China’s use of Artificial Intelligence to track the faces of Muslims, Donald Trump continues his spectacular demonization campaign, seemingly much to the disgust of pro-love, pro-war Democrats.

      Donald Trump has in some ways radically shifted the configuration of American violence. Trump’s environmental violence, most notable through his deregulation and gutting of the EPA, will be his most lasting legacy. America’s violence is usually dumped in the Never Remember” category. The most forgotten violence in this country is the genocide of Native American sisters and brothers. Donald Trump changes the name of the game by openly inciting violence against the press, against his political opponents, against women, immigrants, Muslims and people of color.

      In this way Trump brings American violence into the center of discussion and opens up the floodgates for a cultural acceptance or even celebration of violence against those you disagree with or see as genetically inferior. This, in a word, has correctly been labeled as fascism. Trump crossed a line for the hopeless Democratic Party when he invited violence to be used against female black Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who rightfully (and hopefully not regrettably) labeled 9/11 as an event where people did some things and all our civil liberties were taken away. It is here where one can forgive Omar, who has legitimate reason to fear for her life, from backing down from this biting comment.

      Now I am of the opinion that there is no time too soon for a 9/11 joke (or too late for that matter). But Donald, if he had a sense of humor, made quite an uncharacteristically funny joke just hours after 9/11. The Guardian writes: “Trump, claimed, falsely, that one of his own buildings had been “the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan”, after the World Trade Center.

      “And now it’s the tallest,” he said.”

    • Trump Tried to Seize Control of Mueller Probe, Report Says

      Public at last, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday that President Donald Trump had tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller’s removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president.

      The report said that in June 2017, Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to call the acting attorney general and say that Mueller must be ousted because he had conflicts of interest.

      McGahn refused — deciding he would rather resign than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre of Watergate firings fame.

      For all of that, Mueller said in his report that he could not conclusively determine that Trump had committed criminal obstruction of justice.

      The Justice Department posted a redacted version of the report online Thursday morning, 90 minutes after Attorney General William Barr offered his own final assessment of the findings.

      The two-volume, 448-page report recounts how Trump repeatedly sought to take control of the Russia probe.

    • Trudeau’s Long Winter

      As if Canadian winters and chilly spring weren’t enough, this year has been a season of scandal for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Charges of interference in the criminal prosecution of a powerful corporation have been piling up like transport trucks on an icy thruway, potentially trashing Trudeau’s fortunes in next October’s federal elections.

      Justin Trudeau’s winter of discontent began, last February 7, on the front page of Canada’s Globe and Mail. He and his closest advisors had reportedly been pestering then-Justice Minister/Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould (aka ‘JWR’) to strike a “deferred prosecution agreement” with Quebec-based engineering giant SNC Lavalin, over bribes allegedly paid to Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi prior to his murder at the hands of NATO/Canada-backed rebels.

      Political interference charges were all the more damaging in the wake of the arrest of Chinese telecom CEO Weng Wanzhou, just two months earlier, in a Vancouver airport lounge, on a US extradition warrant. Canada is a “Rule of Law Country,” Ottawa insisted at the time, and had no choice. China didn’t buy the argument, and has been retaliating ever since, arresting a pair of Canadians for spying, threatening to execute another, and banning the import of Canadian canola, a ten-billion-dollar business for prairie farmers.

      Of course, Justin Trudeau steadfastly denies meddling in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution, but the scandal drags on, scattering political wreckage in its wake: cabinet demotions; the resignation of intimate advisors; conflicting testimony by key informants before a packed Commons justice committee; a secretly recorded phone exchange, broadcast over public airwaves, sparking cries of foul and praise in equal measure, triggering JWR’s ouster from caucus, along with a female colleague. Now, Trudeau threatening libel charges against opposition leader Andrew Scheer.

    • How Congress Can Follow Up on the Incomplete and Redacted Mueller Report

      The release on April 18 of a redacted version of the Mueller report came after two years of allegations, speculation and insinuation – but not a lot of official information about what really happened between the Trump campaign and Russia.

      Nor had there been much light shed on whether the president tried to obstruct the investigation into his campaign.

      The report prepared by special counsel Robert Mueller and issued by the Justice Department provided greater detail about those questions. And it offered more information about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

      The Trump administration will want to argue that the release of the Mueller report is the end of investigating the Russia scandal.

      On the contrary, the version of the report released is only the start of wide-ranging and intensive House investigations.

    • Five Critical Takeaways From the Mueller Report

      After nearly two years of waiting, we have a redacted version of the report of special counsel Robert Mueller. A searchable copy can be found and examined here.

      The report is 448 pages long and is divided into two volumes. Volume I, in the words of the report, “describes the factual results of the Special Counsel’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and its interactions with the Trump Campaign.” If you are concerned about allegations of conspiracy, cooperation or “collusion” (more on that misnomer ahead) between the campaign and persons associated with the Russian government, this is where you will find Mueller’s reasoning.

      Volume II “addresses the President’s actions towards the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and related matters, and his actions towards the Special Counsel’s investigation.” If you are interested in learning whether the 45th president of the United States obstructed justice in connection with the Russian investigation, this is where you should focus your attention.

      Volume II discusses 11 alleged instances of possible obstruction, covering, among other subjects, the firing of former FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, and the president’s directive in June 2017 to then-White House counsel Donald McGhan to fire Mueller—an order McGhan refused to carry out, fearing another “Saturday Night Massacre.”

    • Turning to ‘Liars’: Outrage From Critics as Facebook Solicits Far Right Site for Fact-Check Help

      Facebook is partnering with an extreme right-wing website’s fact-checking arm, a move that is generating condemnation from both mainstream and progressive critics.

      Axios reported on Wednesday that Facebook would be working with The Daily Caller’s for-profit fact-checker website Check Your Fact to uncover bias and false statements in stories on the social media site.

      In a statement to The Wrap, Facebook downplayed its partnership with Check Your Fact, putting the new alliance in a broader context.

      “Since we launched our third-party fact-checking program in 2016, we’ve been working with partners around the world who share our goal of stopping the spread of misinformation on our platform,” Facebook’s head of news integrity partnerships, Meredith Carden, told The Wrap. “We now work with 47 partners around the world who fact-check content in 24 languages.”

    • Facebook Partners With Notorious Far-Right Site The Daily Caller on Fact-Checking

      The right-wing Daily Caller is the latest site to partner with Facebook on its controversial fact-checking platform, Axios reported Wednesday.

      CheckYourFact.com, a for-profit subsidiary of The Daily Caller, is, like all of Facebook’s fact-checking partners, including the Associated Press and PolitiFact, approved by the Poynter Institute’s International Fact Checking Network.

      Still, the parent company, as The Guardian’s Sam Levin explained Wednesday, is “a rightwing website that has pushed misinformation and is known for pro-Trump content.” CheckYourFact.com, on the other hand, says it is “loyal to neither people nor parties.”

      Among other controversial coverage, The Daily Caller faced scrutiny for, as Levin writes, “the way it reported on a fake nude photo of the congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” Levin adds, “and its coverage of immigration and the White House has typically aligned with Trump’s agenda.”

    • Rejecting Barr’s ‘Whitewash’ of Mueller Report, Democrats Demand to Hear from Special Counsel Himself

      Democrats and public advocacy groups on Thursday demanded to hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller himself, even as President Donald Trump continued to claim he was fully exonerated by Mueller’s report.

      Trump’s claims came despite the report’s description of numerous instances in which he may have obstructed justice.

      House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement Thursday morning calling for Mueller to testify before Congress “as soon as possible.”

    • A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

      he Civil War which ended in 1865, demolished slavery and emancipated four million human beings. What happened next in the South remains largely unknown to most Americans. In a recent poll of high school graduates, only 20 percent had even heard of Reconstruction, in part because history classes about this period invariably end with the South’s surrender.

      During the short Reconstruction period from 1865-1877, the Federal state was empowered to act on behalf of freed black men and poor whites. Unprecedented changes followed, including new public hospitals, schools, aid to the poor and public programs offering a wide range of services that gave preference to the needs of those previously deprived of them. The beginning of meaningful democracy was exemplified by new Federal courts, replacing state governments and well-attended state constitutional conventions to Black suffrage, ratification of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifthteenth amendments and the Civil Rights Act of 1875, This mandate’s enforcement could rely on the full force and protection of Federal troops in five military zones.

      Political power was prodigiously evident as blacks were elected to state governments (600), the U.S. Congress (14) and Senate (2), and as judges, sheriffs and countless lower offices in the former slave states. Organizations like the Union League and the Southern Farmer’s Alliance appeared across the South to encourage and advise alliances between ordinary blacks and whites that would liberate both from economic bondage.

      It’s not hyperbolic to suggest that in 1865, African-Americans experienced exhilaration, pride and virtually limitless enthusiasm after two hundred and fifty years of enslavement. Paramount among these expectations was the prospect of owning one’s own land gained by the political power realized from the right to vote. If achieved, this would be the single most radical structural change in U.S. history.

      This astonishing political revolution is effectively portrayed via commentary by dozens of experts, interviews, documents and graphic, often heart rending visuals in the first two episodes of “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War,” a four-part series written and narrated by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on PBS. It links to Gates’s book, Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy and the Rise of Jim Crow. (New York: Penguin, 2019). The series makes for compelling, even compulsory viewing. As Eric Foner, the dean of living writers about this period, concluded in a 2015 essay, “freedom, rights, democracy” were at the apex of Reconstruction. All remain vexing issues today.

    • Surreal Realities: Pelosi, Maneka Gandhi, Pompeo, Trump

      The establishment Democrat Pelosi who wants to maintain status quo had no shame in claiming she is a progressive, too. On CBS’s program “60 Minutes” of April 14, 2019, Leslie Stahl asked for a response from Nancy Pelosi about the challenge she faces from the progressive group of Congresspersons. Pelosi shot back:

      “I am a progressive.”

      As the Speaker of the US Congress, Pelosi is the third most powerful person in the United States.

      The multimillionaire Pelosi who brazenly defends humongous inequality creating system of capitalism cannot be a progressive; a progressive would have agreed with the GND program or would have showed her willingness to discuss it.

      Who can make the corrupt queen Pelosi understand that green color in advertisements, bags, logos, buildings, clothes, cars, etc. does not make those things environmentally suitable. For that, ingredients, parts, materials used in those things should meet guidelines prescribed that are harmless to the environment.

      In the same way, declaring oneself a progressive does not make that person a progressive. In order to be one, the person has to fight and enact socially, politically, and economically progressive laws that benefit 100% of the population and not the top 1% to which she belongs.

    • The Strange Success of Russiagate

      It was the popcorn fart heard round the world. After two years of the vilest Russophobic hysteria seen since McCarthy was hauled off to a laughing academy in a straight-jacket, Robert Mueller, patron saint of butt-hurt Dems and indefinite Muslim detention, came to a conclusion on Russiagate only stunning to those of us who don’t live outside the bulletproof walls of stone blind denial. After 37 indictments for totally unrelated Beltway scumbaggery. After $26 million of the taxpayers pilfered dollars flushed down the fucking toilet. After five hundred thousand hours of unhinged sore losers like Rachel Maddow giving Alex Jones a run for his money screaming their bloody heads off about one grassy knoll after another. The results of the great Russian Inquisition of 2019 are bupkis, notta, zero, no collusion whatsoever between one Donald J. Trump and the Putin regime. You could have heard a pin-head drop at MSDNC.

      It was like the last scene of the Sopranos. Ivanka is struggling to park the Jag. Melania and Baron are popping onion rings. Putin heads for the bathroom with his hand shoved deep in his Members Only jacket. Journey swells on the jukebox. The bells on the door jangle. Donny’s big orange face looks up it’s “Don’t stop!….”. Lights out. And the pumped up kiddos in the #Resistance are smacking the side of the Sony until Robert Mueller’s name appears on the credits. There all screaming high-holy what-the-fucks while skeptical cunts like me struggle to hold back our hysteric laughter long enough to say I told you so. Long story short; No collusion, you imbeciles! A sexually aggressive cartoon character became president because you insisted on cutting corners for a bomb dropping Wall Street battle ax who the Rustbelt casualties in purple America couldn’t stomach voting for. You lose. You blew it. There are no boogeymen with long Slavic names to blame. You suck. Game over.

    • Trump Thought Mueller Would Be ‘the End of My Presidency.’ It Should Be.

      Buried on Page 290 of the long-awaited Mueller report into Russia’s 2016 election interference and questions of collusion and cover-up surrounding President Donald Trump was one of those rare peeks behind the curtain of our insane presidency — exactly why the 440-page report was so highly anticipated for so long.

      On May 17, 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to break the news to Trump that his abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey — who was leading the probe into his election — meant there’d now be a special counsel investigation.

      Trump “slumped back in his chair, according to notes by a Sessions aide, and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.’ ”

      Now, 23 months later, we finally have most of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in our hands — but only after an obsequious and fundamentally dishonest spin campaign from Sessions’ replacement as attorney general, William Barr.

      It turns out that Trump’s instincts in 2017 were very, very good. Mueller’s work should mark the beginning of the end of his presidency. Yet that denouement probably won’t happen before the 2020 election — not with politically calculating cowards running both parties in Congress.

      But consider the bizarre handling of the Mueller report by Barr, who slowly released the truth like a series of Russian nesting dolls. The AG who once pooh-poohed the Mueller probe then summarized the still-secret report not once but twice to put the president’s bogus “total exoneration” stamp on it, lied about why Mueller didn’t seek criminal charges on obstruction, and then held on to a redacted report for weeks to finally release it just hours before everyday Americans raced home to their Easter hams or Passover Seders where Team Trump was praying you’d forget all about it.

    • The Mueller Report Changed my Mind on Term Limits

      I haven’t read the Mueller report yet. I’m writing this on the day of its release (with redactions) by US Attorney General William Barr. I’ll read it later, but I didn’t have to read it, or even wait for its release, to reach one conclusion from it: It’s time to amend the Constitution to limit the President of the United States to one term.

      No, not because I don’t like Donald Trump. I don’t, but I didn’t like his 2016 Democratic opponent either, nor do I expect to like his 2020 Democratic opponent. As long as American voters continue to limit themselves to voting for Republicans and Democrats, I don’t care too much which of the two parties they vote for.

      Nor because I think term limits as such would usher in an era of “citizen legislators” and solve some of the systemic problems in American politics caused by political careerism (as my friend Paul Jacob, founder of US Term Limits, believes). It’s not that they’re a bad idea. It’s that they’re more of a distraction than a solution.

      But the presidency is an office of singular weight.

      We can afford, at least to some degree, to have members of Congress worrying about their own re-elections at the expense of doing the people’s business (however one defines that).

      But can we afford to have both the president and Congress worrying about almost nothing BUT the president’s re-election prospects, 24/7, for four years out of every eight?

      Let’s face it: That’s what the entire two-year (so far) “Russiagate” moral panic has mostly been about. Democrats want to either impeach Donald Trump and remove him from office or, failing that, destroy his prospects of re-election.

    • Hopes for Two-State Solution Dim in Wake of Israeli Election

      Is the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict dead?

      After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coasted to another victory in this month’s Israeli election, it sure seems that way.

      On the campaign trail, Netanyahu ruled out Palestinian statehood and for the first time, pledged to begin annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank. His expected coalition partners, a collection of religious and nationalist parties, also reject Palestinian independence.

      Even his chief rivals, led by a trio of respected former military chiefs and a charismatic former TV anchorman, barely mentioned the Palestinian issue on the campaign trail and presented a vision of “separation” that falls far short of Palestinian territorial demands.

    • Mueller Documented Probable Cause That Trump Obstructed Justice

      After a nearly two-year investigation, culminating in a 448-page report, Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election but found insufficient evidence to prove the Trump campaign conspired with Russia. Mueller did not decide, however, if Trump obstructed justice.

      The special counsel detailed 10 acts that could constitute obstruction of justice. But based on a memo from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel that says a sitting president can’t be indicted, Mueller refrained from concluding whether the evidence was sufficient to charge Trump with obstruction.

    • A Left Strategy for the 2020 Elections and Beyond

      As the 2020 presidential campaigns begin in 2019, nearly everyone on the left knows the stakes are high. The defeat of Donald Trump and the ejection of his right-wing and white supremacist populist bloc from the centers of political power is a tactical goal of some urgency not only for Democrats but also for leftists. The outcome of the upcoming election will have a direct effect on thwarting right-wing populism and the clear and present danger of incipient fascism and war.

      The removal of Trump’s bloc would also remove a stubborn obstacle to a range of urgent progressive reforms much needed at the grassroots — Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, no new wars and interventions, a $15 minimum wage, and so on. Given how unlikely Trump’s resignation or impeachment is, the election of the candidate running on the Democratic Party line seems like the likeliest path toward his removal.

      What would be the most effective way for the left, and especially the socialist left, to go about unseating the Trump bloc? The most fruitful strategy would not only accomplish that goal, but would also strengthen the left’s leverage in other upcoming rounds of class and democratic struggles, keeping the country on a socialist road.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Bangka Island: The WW2 massacre and a ‘truth too awful to speak’

      In addition, Ms Silver discovered that part of a page detailing what happened to the nurses in a key account had been ripped out, in what she believes was an act of censorship.

      The account was by Jean Williams, wife of Major Harold Williams, about investigations he conducted for the Australian War Crimes Section.

      [...]

      Ms Silver says she sees it as important to speak the “unsanitised truth” that Vivian Bullwinkel had wanted to tell in 1945 and 1946.

      “If I didn’t tell this secret, I’d be part of the culture of silence and the government clampdown, and protecting the perpetrators,” she says. “These nurses deserve to have their story told – that’s their justice.”

    • How Roskomsvoboda became the primary force standing between the Russian government and Internet censorship

      In the last seven years, the Russian government has drastically tightened its regulation of the Internet, and it has shown no signs of slowing down: on April 16, 2019, the State Duma passed a new law enabling the isolation of the Russian segment of the Internet from the World Wide Web. Opposition to the government’s onslaught of new laws has come primarily from small organizations and individual activists, and Roskomsvoboda has emerged as the most prominent group among them. The small-scale project, which was founded in 2012 by activists from the Pirate Party of Russia, has transformed itself alongside the growth of Russian censorship into a full-blown advocacy group. Now, Roskomsvoboda fights to unblock websites, soften the language of new bills, and beat back criminal cases against Web users. Meduza special correspondent Pavel Merzlikin took a look at how Roskomsvoboda is structured and asked whether the organization has a chance against the Russian government in the struggle for a free Internet.

    • Police raid Moscow newsroom in connection with billionaire’s defamation lawsuit

      Police officers raided the Moscow newsroom of the media outlet Rosbalt on Thursday, seizing three computer processing units that contain information about the “Young Shakro” case, Rosbalt Moscow editor Nikolai Ulyanov told the news agency Interfax.

      Officers examined all the computers in Rosbalt’s newsroom, powering on all devices in the office and searching each CPU for the word “Shakro.” Ulyanov says the three seized computers contained files mentioning this name.

    • Police: ‘New Breed’ of Terrorists in Northern Ireland

      Police in Northern Ireland arrested two teenagers Saturday in connection with the fatal shooting of a young journalist during rioting in the city of Londonderry and warned of a “new breed” of terrorists threatening the peace.

      The men, aged 18 and 19, were detained under anti-terrorism legislation and taken to Belfast for questioning, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. The men have not been identified or charged.

      Authorities believe one man pulled the trigger during the chaotic rioting that began Thursday night but had organizational support.

    • ‘Shocking Attack’ in Northern Ireland That Killed Journalist the Latest Incident of Escalating Violence

      A journalist whose work focused on Northern Ireland’s troubled past was killed Thursday night in the latest in a series of militant escalations that are increasing in frequency as the United Kingdom and Ireland reckon with Brexit.

      Clashes broke out Thursday in the Northern Ireland city of Derry as police forces attempted to raid suspected militant homes.

    • Russia’s federal censor reportedly says it’s now illegal to call Putin a ‘thief’ in the news media

      According to a report by the BBC Russian Service, federal officials recently met with leaders of Russia’s mass media. Representatives of the federal censor, Roskomnadzor, reportedly said that they consider the two phrases listed above to constitute illegal offensive speech. The agency’s spokesperson clarified, however, that each instance of either phrase appearing in the media will be considered in context, and the Attorney General’s Office will be responsible for this evaluation. The government-media meeting took place after Roskomnadzor blocked two news websites in Yaroslavl after they published photographs of graffiti reading, “Putin is a faggot.” The Russian authorities determined that this phrase constitutes an illegal insult directed at a state official.

    • YouTube will fight fake news in India by introducing more context through information cards

      With the advent of Reliance Jio and the onslaught of cheap-yet-capable Chinese smartphones, millions of Indians have come online for the first time in their lives. These netizens have not witnessed the Internet maturing/evolving over the years, and have been thrust directly into the world wide web with little knowledge of what to expect out of it. As such, their behavior seems gullible to others who have witnessed the evolution of the Internet and who know the dos and don’ts of the online experience. So it isn’t surprising when these first-time netizens consider video sharing community sites such as YouTube as absolutely credible sources of news information, without realizing the potential of misinformation creeping in and mixing along with the facts. YouTube recognizes this, and is thus taking more steps to fight fake news and misinformation on its platform.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Russian company plans to create a federal Internet of things network

      A company called GLONASS-TM that is controlled jointly by Igor Rotenberg, Rostekh, and GLONASS has announced plans to create a federal network using Internet of things (IoT) technology. IoT technology establishes remote connections among objects that would typically lack Internet access, enabling them to exchange data and be controlled remotely.

      RBC reported that, according to a presentation of the project, its construction is scheduled to begin in 2020. By 2024, the network is set to include more than 34,000 base stations that would enable the system’s users to model energy usage and individual behavior in public spaces. In its first five years, the plan is estimated to cost 53 billion rubles ($8.28 million).

    • ‘Unjustified and Unnecessary’: DHS Could Use Facial Recognition on 97% of Departing Airline Passengers

      The Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that it expects to be able to use facial recognition technology to scan 97 percent of departing airline passengers within the next four years.

      The department’s facial recognition program, officially titled “Biometric Exit,” is run by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a branch of DHS.

      According to The Hill, the program “cross-references the images of departing passengers with a ‘gallery’ of images [and] photos from visa and passport applications. The matching service allows CBP to create a record of the passenger’s departure, which they can then use to figure out if the individual has overstayed their visa.”

      Biometric Exit has raised alarm among privacy advocates.

      Jeramie Scott, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Domestic Surveillance Project, told Buzzfeed in March that “it’s important to note what the use of facial recognition [in airports] means for American citizens.”

    • The CIA says that China’s security agencies provided funds for Huawei: report

      The paper cites an anonymous source in the UK that says that details were shared with “only the most senior UK officials,” which that the CIA “awarded a strong but not cast-iron classification of certainty. Huawei has consistently denied claims that it has ties to the country’s government, has said that it would “categorically refuse” any requests for data from the government, and “declined to comment on what it called unsubstantiated allegations.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Paypal and GoFundMe banned a militia group that detained migrants at the US border

      The number of paramilitary groups has grown in the US over the last couple of years, and in that time, their members have been making trips to the US southern border, saying that they’re there to support US Border Patrol agents. Following the recent reports, New Mexico State Attorney General released a statement on Thursday, saying that “these individuals should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement,” while the Border Patrol issued a statement, saying that it does not “endorse or condone private groups or organizations taking enforcement matters into their own hands.” On Saturday, the officials confirmed that the FBI had arrested a member of the group, Larry Mitchell Hopkins.

    • Tesla gets restraining order on short-seller who photographed employees

      Tesla has hit one of its prominent Twitter critics and short-sellers of the company with a restraining order — the same person who recently spotted and photographed a Model 3 being filmed by Tesla ahead of a planned “autonomy investor day” on April 22nd. The company was granted the temporary restraining order by the Alameda County Superior Court in California on Friday, which was first spotted by PlainSite.org. It’s not clear if the restraining order has been served.

    • Outlets Denounced as ‘Enemies of People’ Still Promote Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Narratives

      If you keep up with all the various xenophobic “crises” and “threats” propagated by corporate media—depicting the United States as an overwhelmed nation, besieged by teeming swarms of scheming foreigners intent on stealing jobs and seizing scarce public benefits from across the southern border—you’ll recall that the United States has apparently been under “invasion” for years now. Decades, even (Extra!, 1–2/95). The media have spread this contrived account even during periods where unauthorized immigration was continuously falling (FAIR.org, 12/1/13).

    • We Sued to End the Evils of Cash Bail in Michigan

      Money bail traps people of color in a maze that is not justice, and perpetuates mass incarceration and its racial disparities.

      Imagine being poor and being arrested by the police in Detroit. You are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but with no money, you will remain in jail for up to 3 days before you can see a judge called a magistrate.

      That’s just the beginning of the harm visited on one of our clients in the 36th District Court in Detroit, Davontae Ross. He spent days behind bars because he couldn’t afford to pay $200 of bail relating to a 5-year old ticket for allegedly staying in a park after dark. He missed a job interview and a critical meeting with a government caseworker. His life has been turned upside down.

      This is not isolated to one client, or one court. Our named Plaintiffs are all Black—as is almost everyone who can’t afford bail in Detroit—and they’ve all spent days in jail simply because they can’t afford bail. When it comes to the criminal legal system in the State of Michigan, the problem is as pervasive as it is perverse.

      The system requires explaining, because it is complex. It is a microcosm of the maze of the criminal legal system that traps people of color every day in our nation. In Michigan, even when you do get to meet the magistrate, it’s not in person. She appears via a video connection from a courtroom downtown. The guards tell you not to ask any questions, and then you step in front of the camera. The magistrate is not interested in you or your situation. She talks so fast that you cannot even understand your case number, what you are charged with, or the penalty you face. Then she sets a court date. If you are lucky, you hear the court date, but she’s talking so fast you can’t be sure. She asks if you understand, but you are scared about making her angry (you’ve heard her snap at other people who tried to say something), so you say yes. Then she reads you your rights and asks if you understand. She said something about your having a right to a lawyer, but no one has provided a lawyer for you or any of the other dozens of people in jail with you who are being arraigned by video.

    • Georgia Police Made Me Remove a Protest Button Because it Had the Word “Fuck” On it

      I have a First Amendment right to express my anger about Georgia’s proposed abortion ban through peaceful protest.
      As a concerned citizen, I have visited the Georgia capitol many times to talk with our lawmakers about various issues. While recently advocating against a particularly harmful piece of legislation — House Bill 481, which would, if signed into law, effectively ban all abortion in Georgia — I found myself caught up in a debate over my First Amendment right to speak freely.

      On March 7, 2019, I was at the capitol to express my concerns regarding the bill. Planned Parenthood was one of the organizations advocating against it, and they provided buttons for advocates to wear. I chose a button that read, “Don’t fuck with us. Don’t fuck without us,” followed by a Planned Parenthood logo.

      But I was then approached by a Capitol Police officer and told to remove the button because it contained profanity. I was surprised and taken aback by this suppression of free speech. I was not doing anything disruptive. I was not chanting, yelling, touching anyone, or blocking anyone’s path. I immediately complied with the officer’s command.

      I was dismayed about this order, because this button perfectly exemplified my feelings about this bill. Far too often, a predominantly male legislature makes decisions about women’s health without consulting women. As a result, we are forced to spend time advocating against a clearly unconstitutional ban on abortion that could literally kill women by causing them to seek unsafe abortion care.

    • Bringing the border closer to home, one immersion trip at a time

      Many if not most Americans have never crossed the U.S. border with Mexico by land or spent any time in that region.

      This unfamiliarity can make it easy for politicians to distort what’s going on there and hard for immigration advocates and social movements to muster support for their primary goal: making U.S. policies toward undocumented people and asylum-seekers more humane.

      What can advocates for immigrants do about that? One solution is a form of awareness-raising I call “immersion travel.”

    • Chair of republic-wide people’s council becomes latest opposition elder arrested in Ingushetia

      Malsag Uzhakhov, the chair of Ingushetia’s Council of Teips, has been arrested in the republic’s Nazran district, Mediazona reported. Uzhakhov’s son said that a group of armed individuals took his father away in an unmarked vehicle.

    • How Women are leading the Sudanese Revolution

      Since December 2018, protests in Sudan that sparked over the tripled price of bread have turned into nationwide protests against the nearly three-decade rule regime of Omar Al Bashir.

      Finally, on Thursday, April 11, 2019, Bashir was forced to step down.

    • Thousands Join Ben & Jerry’s to Demand Criminal Justice Reform, Extending Benefits of Cannabis Legalization to Communities of Color

      The ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s was among those on Saturday who sought to draw attention to inequities which have become increasingly apparent since more states began loosening cannabis restrictions—a shift which critics say has mainly benefited white and upper-class Americans.

      The Vermont-based company, which has been outspoken about progressive causes since it opened in 1978, circulated a petition late Friday, calling on Congress to extend the benefits of the growing destigmatization of marijuana to communities of color, who are disproportionately convicted of and incarcerated for drug-related crimes.

    • Marijuana Legalization is a Racial Justice Issue

      When it comes to legalizing weed, economic justice for communities of color must be our guiding principle.
      Marijuana has been a key driver of mass criminalization in this country and hundreds of thousands of people, the majority of whom are Black or Latinx, have their lives impacted by a marijuana arrest each year. But the tide is turning against the remnants of a drug war targeted at Black and Brown people that was never meant to increase public safety in the first place. Legalization is an important step towards ending the war on drugs, and it cannot come soon enough.

      Legalizing marijuana must come with expungement, with reinvestment in the communities most harmed by enforcement, with limitations on how police can interact with people who they suspect of a marijuana offense, with legal nonpublic spaces for smoking marijuana for those who cannot smoke in their residence, with a prohibition on deportation for people with marijuana convictions, and with full inclusion of those most impacted by criminalization of marijuana in the new marijuana industry.

      Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia allow for recreational use among adults, while 31 states allow for medical use of marijuana. The laws reflect growing public support. Two out of three Americans are in favor of legalization, which has majority support in all age groups and political affiliations.

    • Pushing Marijuana Legalization Across the Finish Line

      After nearly a century of cannabis criminalization, U.S. voters — and a growing number of high-profile politicians — are demanding that marijuana policy move in a different direction.

      One in five Americans now live in states where the adult, recreational use of marijuana is legal. And the majority of us reside someplace where the medical use of cannabis is legally authorized.

      Many of these latter programs have been in place for the better part of two decades. And it’s plain to see the results have been better for public health and safety than criminal prohibition, because public and political support in for marijuana reform just keeps growing.

      According to the latest national polling compiled by Gallup, 66 percent of U.S. adults — including majorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans — believe that the adult use of marijuana should be legal.

      Separate national surveys, such as the General Social Survey and the latest Pew poll, similarly show that public support for legalization is at a historic high.

      Voters’ support for legalizing and regulating cannabis isn’t born out of a presumption that the plant is altogether harmless. To the contrary, society has long acknowledged that cannabis is a mood-altering substance with some risk potential — particularly for young people or among those with a family history of mental illness.

      In fact, it’s precisely because marijuana use may pose potential risks that advocacy groups like NORML have long urged lawmakers to regulate it accordingly.

    • Right-to-Counsel Programs Prevent Evictions

      Even if you’ve never faced eviction proceedings, you can probably imagine they are stressful.

      Depending on the state, landlords may have a tremendous amount of power over tenants, who have limited recourse in some courts. Plus, because eviction is a civil (not criminal) legal matter, there’s no legally enshrined right to counsel. If you don’t have an attorney and cannot afford one, one will not be appointed for you. Instead, you have to go it alone.

      Dealing with the justice system can be an expensive and confusing proposition. And for low-income people, the challenges of navigating the system in cases like evictions are especially challenging, thanks to limited financial resources and a lack of understanding — one reason legal aid organizations exist. But these groups can’t meet all the need. In 2017, 62 percent to 72 percent of people who asked for legal aid couldn’t get it due to staffing shortages, limitations on the assistance available and other factors.

      That’s where the right to counsel movement comes in. Civil rights advocates argue that being poor shouldn’t be a crime — or grounds for being stripped of property and liberty. But often, the lack of an attorney means low-income people are treated unfairly in court. This is especially true with evictions. The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition says about 50 percent of evictions would be preventable with an attorney.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Google Search now supports signed exchanges, replacing AMP URLs with actual site addresses

      The AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project, which was first announced by Google in 2015, is an open source framework designed to speed up mobile web pages. The search giant contends that it can cut load times to “less than one second” by balancing the likelihood of a user clicking on a result with device and network constraints, and it’s now used by hundreds of thousands of web domains across billions of pages. But it’s not quite perfect — AMP requires a modified URL to appear in browsers’ address bars and sticks a gray bar to the top of pages, which threatens to put a dent in sites’ traffic and revenue.

    • Unix Considered Harmful

      It’s sad, but true. Writing for the web has become more comfortable + easier for the developer, and it seems that with ever more development in the field of browser engines, “most” users don’t really care anymore how many megabytes of javascript are loaded and interpreted.

    • Telcoms lobbyists have convinced 26 states to ban or restrict municipal broadband

      The figures on state laws blocking community broadband come from a report from Broadbandnow; it also documents how states voted to subsidize private-sector monopolists at the same time as they were banning cities from competing with them, resulting in worse offerings at higher prices.

    • Report: 26 States Now Ban or Restrict Community Broadband

      Many of the laws restricting local voters’ rights were directly written by a telecom sector terrified of real broadband competition.

    • Municipal Broadband Is Roadblocked Or Outlawed In 26 States

      The climate for municipal broadband has worsened significantly since our last report in 2018. There are now 26 states with laws on the books that either roadblock or ban outright municipally-owned broadband networks.

      These laws — some of them passed just last year — point to a growing tension between state lawmakers and municipal, county and local governments, whose interests seem often at odds with one another.

      The telecom industry’s lobbying efforts have had tangible ramifications on state laws governing municipal broadband. In fact, over $92 million was spent on lobbying in 2018 alone to protect business interests at the national and state level.[1]

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Omniverse Wants “Scandalous” Claims Removed From ACE’s Piracy Lawsuit

        Streaming TV provider Omniverse believes that any comparisons to ‘pirate’ streaming box vendor Dragon Box are scandalous. The company is asking the court to strike these from the copyright infringement complaint anti-piracy outfit ACE filed earlier this year. In addition, it wants ACE to clarify what the problem is exactly.

      • The Pirate Bay Lives On, A Decade After ‘Guilty’ Verdicts

        Ten years ago this week, four men were found guilty and sentenced to prison for running The Pirate Bay. At the time, Peter Sunde said that the site would continue, no matter what. A decade on he has been proven absolutely right and that in itself is utterly remarkable.

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    Links for the day



  19. EPO is Not European

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



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

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



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

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



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

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



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

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



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

    Links for the day



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

    Links for the day



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

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



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

    Links for the day



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

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



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

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



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

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


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