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04.24.19

Links 24/4/2019: Chrome 74, QEMU 4.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 10:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • 5 of the Best Linux Desktops for Touchscreen Monitors in 2019

      The concept of using Linux on a touchscreen monitor or two-in-one computer has come a long way. Touchscreen support is now built into the Linux kernel, so theoretically any Linux distribution should run with a touchscreen. That said, not every distribution will be easy to use on a touchscreen, and this comes down to the desktop.

      For example, using a tiling window manager like Awesome or i3 isn’t going to do you much good on a touchscreen. Choose the right desktop (more precisely, desktop environment), and you’ll have a much better time using Linux with a touchscreen.

  • Server

    • Why Hybrid Cloud is About to Get a Whole Lot Easier

      It seems like analysts, vendors and IT decision makers have been talking about “hybrid cloud” for the longest time. The concept has been around for at least a decade – and that’s a really long time in the IT industry. Is it still important? Absolutely.
      Almost every piece of cloud market research I read shows the majority of enterprises are focusing on a hybrid cloud strategy. Why? Because they all need increased agility, innovation and productivity, better cost optimization and improved customer experience.

    • The Open Organization guide to Red Hat Summit 2019 [Ed: The 'Open Organization' slant in Red Hat Summit 2019 with Microsoft CEO as keynote because it's all about money, not "open" or "free" (just proprietary and expensive]

      When Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst published The Open Organization in 2015, he didn’t just release a book. He catalyzed a global conversation about the ways open principles are reshaping organizational culture and design.

    • Developing distributed applications and services for tomorrow: a proof of concept

      Innovation is accelerating across the automobile industry, bringing advances in the in-vehicle experience. Connected vehicle technologies are opening up new business models and providing a whole range of new software and data-driven services.

      When it comes to new software and data-driven services, the possibilities are immense. But there is one trend many use cases have in common: they are becoming more distributed. To provide a great user experience, connected in-vehicle services often need to integrate increasingly diverse data.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • mintCast 307 – Encryption Part 1

      This is Leo and with me I have Joe, Moss, and the return of Rob for this episode! We’re recording on Sunday April 21st 2019.

      First up, in our Wanderings, I talk Kernel 5.0 and transfer speed, Joe reformats and loses Windows but gains NVidia peace of mind, and finally Moss digests more distros and has some success with migrating Kodi

      Then, our news is filled with updates from top to bottom.

      In our Innards section, we dive into file and disk encryption.

    • Blame Joe | LINUX Unplugged 298

      This week we discover the good word of Xfce and admit Joe was right all along. And share our tips for making Xfce more modern.

      Plus a new Debian leader, the end of Scientific Linux, and behind the scenes of Librem 5 apps.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.1 Encounters “Regression Special” For Intel & VirtIO DRM Drivers

      If you have been hit by a bug on Linux 5.1 where your X.Org Server would no longer start or separately where when using VirtIO DRM that XWayland and GNOME Shell would break, fixes have now landed in Linux 5.1 Git.

      David Airlie sent in the DRM fixes on Wednesday as a “regression special” for the Intel i915 and VirtIO DRM drivers compared to the usual DRM fixes cadence.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA 430.09 Linux Driver Brings GTX 1650 Support, Surprising VDPAU Improvements

        With today’s GeForce GTX 1650 launch, NVIDIA has posted the 430.09 Linux driver as their first in this new driver series.

        The GeForce GTX 1650 is now supported by this new NVIDIA LInux driver along with its Max-Q Design and the GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q Design.

        The NVIDIA 430 Linux driver also adds HEVC YUV 4:4:4 decode support to VDPAU, various other VDPAU additions, raised the X.Org Server requirement to version 1.7, adds the GL_NV_vdpau_interop2 extension, and updates the NVIDIA installer to work better on the latest Linux distributions.

      • NVIDIA have two new drivers out with 430.09 and the Vulkan beta driver 418.52.05

        NVIDIA have just recently released two new drivers for Linux users, with the main series now being at 430.09 adding new GPU support and the Vulkan beta driver 418.52.05 giving ray-tracing to some older GPUs.

        Firstly, the Vulkan beta driver 418.52.05 was actually released last week, which adds support for the “VK_NV_ray_tracing” extension for certain older graphics cards including the TITAN Xp, TITAN X, 1080, 1070, 1060, TITAN V and 1660 (along with Ti models). It also adds support for the “VK_NV_coverage_reduction_mode” extension, which doesn’t seem to have any documentation up just yet. They also cited “minor performance improvements” and two bug fixes.

      • NVIDIA Releases The GeForce GTX 1650 At $149 USD, Linux Benchmarks Incoming

        The TU117-based GeForce GTX 1650 starts out at $149 USD and aims to deliver double the performance over the GTX 950 Maxwell and doing so in only a 75 Watt TDP, meaning no external PCI Express power connector is required. There are 896 CUDA cores and 4GB of GDDR5 video memory with the GTX 1650.

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Lands FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync For Mesa 19.1

        While on the kernel-side there has been FreeSync support with the AMDGPU DRM driver since Linux 5.0 and for the OpenGL driver with RadeonSI there has been this functionality in Mesa 19.0 when paired with a supported kernel, the Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver has missed out on this action until now. But landing just in time for the Mesa 19.1 feature freeze is now the FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync enablement for RADV.

      • A Decade Later, Mesa Wiring In Support For Qualcomm/AMD’s ATC Texture Compression

        Adding to the list of Mesa 19.1 changes is now AMD_compressed_ATC_texture being plumbed into Mesa/Gallium3D primarily with a focus on the Freedreno driver.

        AMD_compressed_ATC_texture is the extension worked on a decade ago by AMD/Qualcomm for ATC compressed texture formats. ATC was AMD’s proprietary compression algorithm with a focus on mobile devices for power and memory bandwidth savings. That was right around the time ATI/AMD Imageon IP was sold off to Qualcom to form the Adreno graphics processors for the company’s SoCs.

      • “Cage” Sees Initial Test Release For Kiosk-Like Wayland Compositor

        The Cage Wayland Compositor for kiosk / full-screen-one-app environments has managed to materialize.

        Former libratbag+Piper GSoC developer Jente Hidskes has spent the past number of months working on this kiosk-oriented Wayland compositor where to date there hasn’t been too much activity. He’s working on this kiosk-like Wayland compositor as part of a home automation project. Cage is building atop Sway’s WLROOTS Wayland library for sharing support and doing much of the heavy lifting.

      • The first pre-release of Cage

        Almost exactly four months ago I announced Cage, my Wayland compositor for a kiosk-like environment. To the uninitiated: a kiosk is designed for running a single, maximized application and preventing the user from interacting with any other part of the system. You’ve probably seen many in your life in malls, stores or even the dentist (how satisfied are you with your service?). Kiosks can also be used for much cooler things, though, such as running home automation systems.

      • Intel Iris Gallium3D Picks Up Conservative Rasterization Support

        On top of Intel’s new open-source OpenGL driver seeing some hefty performance optimizations, the Iris Gallium3D driver has picked up another OpenGL extension ahead of the Mesa 19.1 branching.

        Iris Gallium3D now supports INTEL_conservative_rasterization alongside the existing support in the i965 driver. INTEL_conservative_rasterization is the several year old Intel extension for seeing if all fragments are at least partially covered by a polygon rather than the default rasterization mode of including fragments with at least one sample covered by a polygon.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Bundle Up, It’s Time To Discover Some Apps

        I absolutely did, and here you go! The culmination of ten years of scheming and plotting has come to fruition, and we finally have a way to deliver software in a more social fashion. Now, I realise you are going to scream at us all and say distributions are great at this. They totally are, and that’s not the point here, and i would like if we could aim that discussion elsewhere (you will notice how Discover still very much has all the distribution packages up front and centre, particularly in the last screenshot).

      • KDE’s Snap Packages

        The Linux world has always worked with a develop and deploy model where software gets written by projects such as KDE and then distro projects pick that up, polish it and give it to the user. No other computer environment works like this and it goes against the fashion of DevOps concepts where the people who code are empowered to deploy to the end user going through QA as appropriate. We changed that with KDE neon where we brought the packaging into KDE making .deb packages. That integration allows for blockages and imperfections which get identified to be solved easily through the most efficient channels. Kipi Plugins is a good example of this, KDE dropped the ball here by stopping releases. Nobody noticed until as a packager I wondered where it had gone, realised it was no longer being released and, because I work directly in the project responsible, could easily fix that in the right place. With new containerised formats Linux is changing, and projects like KDE can now package software and send it direct to the user. I’ll discuss this more in a future blog post but for now lets look at Snaps where last week, for the first time, KDE Applications was released with 50-odd apps available directly for all to enjoy direct from the Snap Store.

      • Announcing Akademy 2019 in Milan, Italy (September 7th – 13th)

        Akademy 2019 will be held at the University of Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy, from Saturday the 7th to Friday the 13th of September.

        The conference is expected to draw hundreds of attendees from the global KDE community to discuss and plan the future of the community and its technology. Many participants from the broad Free and Open Source software community, local organizations and software companies will also attend.

        KDE e.V. is organizing Akademy 2019 with unixMiB — the Linux User Group of the University of Milano-Bicocca. unixMiB aims to spread Open Source philosophy among students.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Stilo Is A Pack Of Clean, Minimalistic GTK Themes

        Stilo is a pack of clean, minimalistic, yet stylish GTK themes for the GNOME desktop. It consists on 2 main themes, Stilo and Stiloetto, each with light and dark variations. A GNOME Shell theme is also available.

        Both Stilo and Stiloetto use gray with bits of blue, the difference being that Stilo is completely flat and square, while Stiloetto uses a slight gradient for header bars, and slightly rounded corners for application windows, and elements like buttons and drop-downs.

      • Builder 3.33.1

        Our first 3.33 release has landed as we move towards 3.34. There is a lot to do this cycle in case you’re interested in contributing. The best way to get started is to dive into the code. We can help you with that on IRC.

        Lots of this release is code behind the scenes, so screenshots won’t do them justice. But there are some visible goodies too.

        We got a DBus Inspector inspired by D-feet. The long term goal is to merge that new code into D-feet itself.

      • GtkSourceView moved to Meson

        The master branch of GtkSourceView (what will become 4.4) has moved to meson for development. I branched gtksourceview-4-2 for patch releases of 4.2.x which will remain autotools. Today’s release of gtksourceview-4.3.1 contains both autotools and meson. However 4.3.2 will remove autotools entirely.

  • Distributions

    • Scientific Linux is Being Discontinued

      Scientific Linux, a distributions focused on scientists in high energy physics field, will not be developed anymore. It’s creator, Fermilab, is replacing it by CentOS in its labs.

    • New Releases

      • [Reposted] Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 released

        Like its cousin, the Debian based version, Netrunner Rolling also ships a dark Look and Feel theme including the Kvantum theme engine.
        Using the Kvantum Theme engine plus the Alpha-Black Plasma Theme allowed us to create a more 3D-looking design.
        Moving the mouse into the lower right corner now visibly activates the “Minimize all Windows to show Desktop” function by a light glow.
        For those who prefer the classic look, going back to the well-known LNF is a three-button click and explained under “Tips” in our current Readme Section.

      • Debian-Based Netrunner Linux Gets April 2019 Release with New Look and Feel
    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • On Cloud Nine in Denver

        Next week, members of the open source community will descend upon Denver in hordes unseen since the gold rush that resulted in the city being formed back in the late 1800’s (probably). That’s right, it’s the very first Open Infrastructure Summit – bringing together some of the finest minds across the open source community to discuss, demo and deliberate all things OpenStack, Kubernetes, ONAP, Kata Containers, Airship, Zuul, and much, much more.
        We’re particularly excited about this summit as we’ll be unveiling SUSE OpenStack Cloud 9 to the world there, having pre-announced it earlier in the month at SUSECON in Nashville. As the first company to produce an enterprise-ready OpenStack distribution back in 2012, we continue to work to make OpenStack easier for companies to implement in an enterprise environment, giving a stable, production-ready base for business-critical systems and applications to run on.

      • Eirini and CF Containerization: a field guide

        The recent Cloud Foundry Summit in Philadelphia featured two talks that were crucial to understanding the future of Cloud Foundry as it relates to Kubernetes.

        [...]

        But there’s another problem. In talking to people in the hallways and at the SUSE booth, we found that there was considerable confusion about what the Eirini and CF Containerization projects were responsible for. Specifically, many people thought that Eirini was the project for containerizing the Cloud Foundry Application Runtime.

      • SQL Server on SUSE Linux from A-Z: Data platform, High Availability and Containers [Ed: SUSE is advertising proprietary software from Microsoft]
      • SUSE delivers first enterprise Linux for SAP HANA Large Instances on Microsoft Azure

        SUSE has announced the availability of the first enterprise Linux image for SAP HANA Large Instances on Microsoft Azure.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Samsung’s Linux on DeX beta now rolling out to Galaxy S9, S10, Tab S5e

            While we trialled the beta software at the tail end of last year on the Galaxy Note 9, it was only available to those who had access to the Note 9 or Galaxy Tab S4. That did leave a sour taste in the mouth for many wanting to try out Linux on their own Samsung handsets.

            Samsung has today confirmed that the Linux on DeX beta has now extended to a further set of devices, and now fully supports Android Pie and their own One UI OS skin.

          • Ubuntu 19.10 Development Has Started — Daily Build ISO Images Now Available

            Ubuntu 19.04 desktop arrived in a variety of flavors last week and it turned out to be a well-received release. Thanks to certain GNOME 3.32 tweaks, the open source desktop feels a bit snappier. Linux 5.0 has also added support for newer hardware and brought better mitigation for Spectre and Meltdown flaws.

            The release of Ubuntu 19.0 has also kickstarted the Ubuntu 19.10 development process. The daily build ISO images are also now available for download and testing. You can go ahead and install them on a secondary system or virtual machine but you won’t notice any considerable changes at the moment.

          • Ubuntu 19.10 Daily Builds Are Now Available to Download

            While the Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) just hit the streets at the end of last week, Canonical’s Ubuntu team are already working on the next release, Ubuntu 19.10, which doesn’t have a codename at the moment of writing, but we do know that it will be an “Eoan” animal that start with the letter E.

            Until Canonical decided to give Ubuntu 19.10 a proper codename, early adopters and testers can now download the daily build ISO images, which are available for Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Server, as well as the official flavors, including Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Budgie, and Ubuntu Kylin.

          • Gustavo Silva: Disco Dingo Thoughts

            Those already around me know I love Linux and my favourite linux distribuition is Ubuntu.

            One of the reasons Ubuntu is my favourite is how simple and compatible it is with pretty much all devices I have tried installing. Except my laptop, but that’s due to the graphics card.

            But hey, I fondly received the news that now we can select the option to automatically set nomodeset and other convenient tools when running the setup. For me, this means a major win. I previously had to set nomodeset manually and after installation I had to immediately modifiy some options in the grub’s defaults (namely set the acpi=force) but now, with this new option, the installation process which was already smooth, become (melted) butter. Thank you, honestly, person who remembered to include this option. This seems like a feature that will stick to Ubuntu 20.04, so I’m happy to now a LTS version will become even simpler to install too, so that’s great.

            The UI and custom-Gnome experience has been improved as well, in this custom flavour of Gnome. We now have a few more options for customization, including dark options of the themes but I am definitely pleased to say that the Gnome shell, in Ubuntu 19.04, really looks great.

          • GPD Pocket 2 Max is an 8.9 inch laptop with Core m3-8100Y

            The computer features a 2560 x 1600 pixel display and it should ship with Windows 10 Home 64-bit software… although it’s interesting to see that the company’s promotional pictures show the Ubuntu MATE desktop. The folks behind that GNU/Linux-based operating system have made a habit of offering releases customized to support GPD Pocket computers.

          • GPD Pocket 2 Max laptop ventures into 9-inch territory

            Chinese companies are at it again, mixing things up and daring to go where bigger brands with all their resources dare not tread. Chuwi was recently revealed to soon have an 8-inch Yoga-like convertible laptop and the company that rebooted the small laptop/netbook trend is setting its sights on bigger things, literally. GPD reportedly has a certain Pocket 2 Max in the works and, this time, it’s really designed for comfortable typing.

            [...]

            No word yet on what that will be, though. Judging by the images, the company could again offer both Windows 10 and Ubuntu MATE versions just like the first GPD Pocket.

          • How to Try the New Adwaita Theme on Ubuntu 19.04

            Learn how to enable the new Adwaita theme in Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo. The updated Adwaita theme is a solid replacement for Ubuntu’s Yaru theme.

          • Canonical at Open Infrastructure Summit -Denver

            Open Infrastructure Summit is coming to Denver from April 29th to May 1st, 2019. Will you be there? We sure will! Come and visit us in Booth B1!

            Canonical experts will be swarming at the event ready to answer your questions and walk you through our booth demos.

            [...]

            Canonical CEO, Mark Shuttleworth, will be keynoting on Monday, April 29 at 10:25am. Come join us in the main hall to hear Mark’s view on open infrastructure and Canonical’s approach to driving down the cost of multi-cloud.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Lubuntu 19.04 Released with Latest LXQt Desktop and Calamares Installer

              Bundled with the same new features and improvements implemented by Canonical in the Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) operating system series, Lubuntu 19.04 is here as the second Lubuntu release to ship with the modern and lightweight LXQt desktop environment by default as the development team’s focus is now only on LXQt, not the old LXDE desktop environment, which is no longer supported.

              “This is the second Lubuntu release with LXQt as the main desktop environment. The Lubuntu project, in 18.10 and successive releases, will no longer support the LXDE desktop environment or tools in the Ubuntu archive, and will instead focus on the LXQt desktop environment,” said developer Simon Quigley in the release announcement.

            • System76 Releases Pop!_OS 19.04 for Its Linux PCs, Based on Ubuntu 19.04
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Whirl Adds Local AirFlow Development Technique

    Apache Airflow is a workflow automation and scheduling system that you can use to set up and manage data pipelines. It uses workflows made of directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) of tasks. Each task produces some output that is then used as the input to another task.

    The idea of Whirl is to make it easy to run and develop Airflow workflows on your local machine. This gives you rapid feedback about whether the changes you made to your DAG work. The developers suggest you think of it as your integration test environment for developing Airflow DAGs.

  • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache® PLC4X™ as a Top-Level Project

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today Apache® PLC4X™ as a Top-Level Project (TLP). Apache PLC4X also has the designation as being the 200th project to graduate from the Apache Incubator.

    Apache PLC4X is a universal protocol adapter for creating Industrial IoT applications through a set of libraries that allow unified access to a wide range of industrial programmable logic controllers (PLCs) using a variety of protocols with a shared API. The project was originally developed at codecentric AG, and entered the Apache Incubator in December 2017.

  • April 2019 Web Server Survey

    Despite the overall loss of sites this month, nginx gained 22.3 million websites and 2.03 million additional active sites. nginx also gained the largest number of web-facing computers, increasing its total by 63,000 to 2.57 million (+2.52%). nginx’s market share of web-facing computers is now nearly 30%, and this is continuing to grow steadily closer to Apache’s leading share of 37.3%.

    Microsoft and Apache lost shares in every headline metric this month, with both vendors contributing significantly to this month’s overall loss of sites. Microsoft lost 18.9 million sites, while Apache lost 17.2 million, causing their shares to decrease by 1.01 and 0.87 percentage points.

    These changes have pushed nginx into the lead, giving it a 27.5% share of all sites in Netcraft’s April 2019 Web Server Survey. Significantly, this is the first time since 1996 that a vendor other than Microsoft or Apache has served the largest number of websites.

  • Red Hat Research: Open Source Software Playing a Growing Role in Enterprise IT
  • Coreboot Finally Sees Zen/Ryzen Support In The Form Of Picasso APU Enablement

    The Coreboot open-source firmware/BIOS project has finally seen initial AMD Zen CPU support as part of Google engineers bringing up Picasso APU support in order to handle an upcoming Chromebook launch.

    The most recent AMD CPUs to be supported by Coreboot has been Stoney Ridge, the APUs with GCN graphics and two Excavator cores. That support was done by Google engineers on the Chromebook front with AMD themselves being out of the Coreboot game / open-source AGESA coverage for several years now. But coming in as bit of a surprise today was initial Zen APU / Picasso coverage.

  • Ian Bicking: “Users want control” is a shoulder shrug

    Making the claim “users want control” is the same as saying you don’t know what users want, you don’t know what is good, and you don’t know what their goals are.

    I first started thinking about this during the debate over what would become the ACA. The rhetoric was filled with this idea that people want choice in their medical care: people want control.

    No! People want good health care. If they don’t trust systems to provide them good health care, if they don’t trust their providers to understand their priorities, then choice is the fallback: it’s how you work the system when the system isn’t working for you. And it sucks! Here you are, in the middle of some health issue, with treatments and symptoms and the rest of your life duties, and now you have to become a researcher on top of it? But the politicians and the pundits could not stop talking about control.

  • Web Browsers

    • Google/Chrome

      • Google’s Filament Real-Time PBR Engine Updated With New Features

        Filament is Google’s real-time physically based rendering engine that supports Android along with Linux and all other major platforms, including a target for WebAssembly+WebGL. Filament 1.2.0 was released on Tuesday as the latest step forward for this PBR rendering engine.

        Filament 1.2.0 features various tooling and engine improvements, improves render target management, squeezes better performance out of the job system, support for compressed textures from its JavaScript API, more JavaScript bindings were also added, the Vulkan rendering support now can handle RGB textures, and there are a variety of other rendering advancements.

      • Google Chrome 74 Released for Windows, macOS, and Linux; Dark Mode Arrives on Windows

        Google has released Chrome 74 for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, and Android (beta). The latest release brings a number of new features apart from quite a few bug fixes. Probably the biggest highlight of Chrome 74 is support for dark mode on Windows. After arriving on the Mac last month, support for dark mode in Chrome is finally available on Windows. Google Chrome currently has over 1 billion users worldwide.

      • Chrome 74 Is Now Available Though Not Too Exciting For Linux Users

        While Windows 10 users are gushing over Chrome finally introducing a “dark mode” for the web browser, on the Linux front there are no dramatic user-facing changes but just a lot of continued lower-level improvements for this cross-platform web browser.

      • Data Saver is now Lite mode

        Since we introduced Data Saver in Chrome, we’ve reduced users’ data usage by up to 60 percent. But now, the feature is expanding to provide more benefits in addition to data savings. Pages will now load faster, in some cases considerably faster, and use less memory. This is why starting today, we will be renaming Data Saver to Lite mode.
        Lite mode will continue to reduce data use by using Google servers to compress the pages you visit before downloading them. Using the NetworkInformation API, Lite mode tells web servers that you are interested in receiving a version of the site that uses less data if one is available.
        Lite mode also helps improve page loads. If Chrome predicts that a page will take longer than 5 seconds for the first text or image to show on screen, it will load a Lite version of the page instead. Lite pages are highly optimized to load considerably faster. A whitepaper will be published in the coming months that will explain this in more detail.

      • Google Chrome 74 Released: Dark Mode For Windows, Lite Mode For Android

        Google released the Chrome version 74 today for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and Chrome OS users. The new version comes with new features and bug fixes with the main highlight being support for a Dark Mode in Windows.

        Other noteworthy changes include the replacement of Data Saver feature with Lite Mode for Chrome on Android devices. There are a few security improvements too, so read on to find out the details.

    • Mozilla

      • 5 times when video ads autoplay and ruin everything.

        The room is dark and silent. Suddenly, a loud noise pierces your ears. You panic as everyone turns in your direction. You just wanted to read an article about cute kittens, but instead of peaceful kitten reading, an annoying political video ad is on autoplay.

      • This Month In Servo 128
      • Rust’s 2019 roadmap

        Each year the Rust community comes together to set out a roadmap. This year, in addition to the survey, we put out a call for blog posts in December, which resulted in 73 blog posts written over the span of a few weeks. The end result is the recently-merged 2019 roadmap RFC. To get all of the details, please give it a read, but this post lays out some of the highlights.

      • Why AI + consumer tech?

        After talking to nearly 100 AI experts and activists, this consumer tech focus feels right for Mozilla. But it also raises a number of questions: what do we mean by consumer tech? What is in scope for this work? And what is not? Are we missing something important with this focus?

        At its simplest, the consumer tech platforms that we are talking about are general purpose internet products and services aimed at a wide audience for personal use. These include things like social networks, search engines, retail e-commerce, home assistants, computers, smartphones, fitness trackers, self-driving cars, etc. — almost all of which are connected to the internet and are fueled by our personal data. The leading players in these areas are companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple in the US as well as companies like Baidu, TenCent, and AliBaba in China. These companies are also amongst the biggest developers and users of AI, setting trends and shipping technology that shapes the whole of the tech industry. And, as long as we remain in the era of machine learning, these companies have a disproportionate advantage in AI development as they control huge amounts for data and computing power that can be used to train automated systems.

      • It’s Complicated: Mozilla’s 2019 Internet Health Report

        The Report paints a mixed picture of what life online looks like today. We’re more connected than ever, with humanity passing the ‘50% of us are now online’ mark earlier this year. And, while almost all of us enjoy the upsides of being connected, we also worry about how the internet and social media are impacting our children, our jobs and our democracies.

        When we published last year’s Report, the world was watching the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal unfold — and these worries were starting to grow. Millions of people were realizing that widespread, laissez-faire sharing of our personal data, the massive growth and centralization of the tech industry, and the misuse of online ads and social media was adding up to a big mess.

        Over the past year, more and more people started asking: what are we going to do about this mess? How do we push the digital world in a better direction?

        As people asked these questions, our ability to see the underlying problems with the system — and to imagine solutions — has evolved tremendously. Recently, we’ve seen governments across Europe step up efforts to monitor and thwart disinformation ahead of the upcoming EU elections. We’ve seen the big tech companies try everything from making ads more transparent to improving content recommendation algorithms to setting up ethics boards (albeit with limited effect and with critics saying ‘you need to do much more!’). And, we’ve seen CEOs and policymakers and activists wrestling with each other over where to go next. We have not ‘fixed’ the problems, but it does feel like we’ve entered a new, sustained era of debate about what a healthy digital society should look like.

  • LibreOffice

    • Coming up: The Month of LibreOffice, May 2019!

      LibreOffice is made by hundreds of people around the world: volunteers working from home, certified developers who are part of our commercial ecosystem, and other supporters and users. Throughout the year, they add new features to the software, test them, and help us to make each release polished and reliable. We’re incredibly appreciative of their efforts!

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • The Free Software Directory needs you! IRC meetups every Friday

      The Free Software Directory is an essential catalog of free software online. The Directory is maintained by countless volunteers dedicated to the promotion of software that respects your personal liberty. As with any group composed of volunteers, the informal Directory team has people who come and go, and right now, it could really use some fresh new members to kick our efforts into high gear.

      Tens of thousands of people visit the Directory every month to discover free software and explore information about version control, documentation, and licensing. All of this information is also exported in machine-readable formats, making it a valuable source of data for the study of trends in free software. The Directory is powered by MediaWiki, the same software used by Wikipedia.

    • rush @ Savannah: Version 1.9

      Version 1.9 is available for download from GNU and Puszcza archives. It should soon become available in the mirrors too.

    • GNU dico – News: Version 2.9

      Version 2.9 of GNU dico is available from download from the GNU archive and from its main archive site.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Final “Big Data Seminar” looks at new open-source framework for plant image analysis

      Understanding and analyzing plant data with computational tools is the topic of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s final “Big Data” lecture coming April 25.
      Sponsored by SIU’s Chapter of Sigma XI, a scientific research honor society with more than 50 years’ history on the Carbondale campus, this fifth lecture wraps up the series focused on big data issues in a number of applied contexts. This specific talk features plant biologist and big data expert, Dr. Noah Fahlgren.

  • Programming/Development

    • 10 Best Programming Languages for Embedded Systems

      As we continue to expand our technological horizons by making anything that we can to be smart, the importance of embedded systems is becoming more apparent and many programmers are beginning to concentrate on IoT projects and there is no better time than now for you to start building your embedded systems programming-related skills and you need to know the most appropriate languages to use.

      Embedded systems programming languages are different from others in the sense that they are perfect for low-level system access and require relatively fewer resources than others. So, without further ado, here’s a list of the best programming languages for embedded systems.

    • MLIR Is A New IR For Machine Learning That Might Become Part Of LLVM

      Earlier this month the developers behind Tensorflow open-sourced MLIR as the Multi-Level Intermediate Representation. They hope this IR can become a common format between machine learning models/frameworks and as part of that it might end up becoming an LLVM sub-project.

    • Top 20 Best Machine Learning Applications in Real World
    • GNU Shepherd 0.6.0 released
      We are pleased to announce the GNU Shepherd version 0.6.0, a release
      containing new features and bug fixes.
      
      • About
      
        The GNU Daemon Shepherd or GNU Shepherd is a service manager written
        in Guile that looks after the herd of system services.  It provides a
        replacement for the service-managing capabilities of SysV-init (or any
        other init) with a dependency-based system with a convenient
        interface.  The GNU Shepherd may also be used by unprivileged users to
        manage per-user daemons (e.g., tor, privoxy, mcron, etc.)  It is
        written in Guile Scheme, and is configured and extended using Guile.
      
        The GNU Shepherd is developed jointly with the GNU Guix project; it is
        used as the init system of Guix, GNU’s advanced GNU/Linux distribution.
    • GNU Shepherd 0.6 Released – Adds Support For One-Shot Services

      For those trying to avoid systemd, the Guile-based GNU Shepherd init system / service manager is out with a new feature release.

      GNU Shepherd 0.6 introduces support for one-shot services, Shepherd will now delete its socket file upon termination, it will now ignore reboot errors when running in a container, and there are various translation updates and other improvements.

    • These Programming Languages Pay Highest Salaries: Stack Overflow

      tack Overflow has released its Developer Survey results for 2019. The comprehensive survey report sheds light on programmers’ preferences and work-related stats. One of the topics in the survey is salary based on different programming languages.

      Clojure has been ranked as the highest paying programming language for developers worldwide as developers received an average yearly sum of $90,000 for coding in Clojure.

    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 23 – Structures
    • Testing firebase with Python 3.7.3 .
    • Welcome Capital One: Python Software Foundation Principal Sponsor [Ed: Too low a sponsorship tier to make up for the fact that Microsoft bought PyCon]
    • Red Hat Breathes New Life Into Java

      Red Hat is the new keeper of the keys to two popular versions of the open source Java implementation, OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11. The company has taken over stewardship from Oracle, it announced last week.

      Oracle ended commercial support for Java 8 and the Oracle JDK 8 implementation of Java SE last year. Oracle left the enterprise Java business when it transitioned support and maintenance of Java Platform to the Eclipse Foundation, where it is now known as “Jakarta EE.”

    • What do companies expect from Python devs in 2019?

      Python is everywhere.

      According to the 2019’s StackOverflow’s Developer Survey, it is the 2nd most loved programming language in the world.

    • Sending Emails With Python
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #365 (April 23, 2019)
    • Acquisition roundabout sees Zend Framework spun off to Linux Foundation

      The Zend Framework is to get a new name and a new home, under the auspices of the Linux Foundation, just a few months after its parent co was itself swallowed whole.

      Zend – as was – is an open source, object-oriented web application framework implemented in PHP 7. It was synonymous with Zend Technologies, which was taken over by Rogue Wave Software in 2015. Rogue Wave Software was itself acquired by private equity outfit Clear Lake Capital earlier this year.

      According to the website for the new organisation, “To take it to the next step of adoption and innovation, we are happy to announce that we are transitioning Zend Framework and all its subprojects to an open source project hosted at the Linux Foundation.”

    • Five RESTful web service client examples for developers

      How do you access a RESTful web service? That depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

      If you just want to test connectivity, a terminal-based utility like curl is a great RESTful web service client. If you want to inspect the JSON a service returns to you, a browser-based plugin will probably be a better fit. And if you are in the midst of application development, you’ll likely need to use JAX-RS, Spring or a similar framework.

    • 5 Best Reasons to Opt for PHP Web Development

      Many companies now are choosing PHP web development to realize their IT needs. According to research, almost 83 percent of web services are using PHP, and it is the preferred choice of industry stalwarts such as BlaBlaCar, Slack, and Spotify. PHP is open source and comes with a great community, and it is continuously upgrading. There is no doubt about the same.

    • 27 Excellent Free Books to Learn all about R

      The R language is the de facto standard among statisticians for the development of statistical software, and is widely used for statistical software development and data analysis. R is a modern dialect of S, one of several statistical programming languages designed at Bell Laboratories.

      R is much more than a programming language. It’s an interactive suite of software facilities for data manipulation, calculation, and graphical display. R offers a wide variety of statistical (linear and nonlinear modelling, classical statistical tests, time-series analysis, classification, clustering, …) and graphical techniques, and is highly extensible. The ability to download and install R packages is a key factor which makes R an excellent language to learn. What else makes R awesome? Here’s a taster.

    • Getting started with blockchain for Java developers

      Top technology prognosticators have listed blockchain among the top 10 emerging technologies with the potential to revolutionize our world in the next decade, which makes it well worth investing your time now to learn. If you are a developer with a Java background who wants to get up to speed on blockchain technology, this article will give you the basic information you need to get started.

    • Automate user acceptance testing with your DevOps pipeline

      Acceptance testing, also called user acceptance testing (UAT), determines whether a system satisfies user needs, business requirements, and authorized entity criteria. The tests are repeated every time there’s a new design when the application is developed through software development lifecycle (SDLC). In many companies, the Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) automates acceptance testing by building a continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) pipeline within a DevOps initiative.

    • The DevOps Edge with SUSE Manager
    • GStreamer buffer flow analyzer

      Gstreamer’s logging system is an incredibly powerful ally when debugging but it can sometimes be a bit daunting to dig through the massive amount of generated logs. I often find myself writing small scripts processing gst logs when debugging. Their goal is generally to automatically extract some specific information or metrics from the generated logs. Such scripts are usually quickly written and quickly disposed once I’m done with my debugging but I’ve been wondering how I could make them easier to write and to re-use.

      gst-log-parser is an attempt to solve these two problems by providing a library parsing GStreamer logs and enabling users to easily build such tools. It’s written in Rust and is shipped with a few tools that I wrote to track actual bugs in GStreamer elements and applications.

      One of those tool is a buffer flow analyzer which can be used to provide various information regarding the buffers exchanged through your pipeline. It relies on logs generated by the upstream stats tracer, so no modification in GStreamer core or in plugins is required.

    • Next C++ workshop: Linked Lists / Stack Classes; PQs and Heaps, 25 April at 18:00 UTC

Leftovers

  • Rescuers race to find survivors after Philippine quake kills 16

    Rescue teams in the Philippines searched for signs of life beneath the tangled debris from a collapsed four-storey commercial building on Tuesday after a strong earthquake shook the country’s biggest island, killing at least 16 people.

    Heavy equipment and search dogs were used as dozens of firefighters, military and civilian rescuers shifted through mangled metal and lumps of concrete in Porac, a town 110 km (68 miles) north of Manila, where 12 people were killed by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck on Monday.

  • Powerful quake hits Philippines, day after deadly temblor

    A new powerful earthquake hit the central Philippines on Tuesday, a day after a magnitude 6.1 quake rattled the country’s north and left at least 16 people dead, including in a collapsed supermarket, where rescuers scrambled to find survivors.

    The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude of Tuesday’s quake at 6.4, while the local seismology agency said it was 6.5. The quake was centered near San Julian town in Eastern Samar province and prompted residents to dash out of houses and office workers to scamper to safety.

  • Philippines 6.1-Magnitude Earthquake Leaves at Least 16 Dead

    The Philippines suffers from an elevated number of natural disasters because it is located on the seismically active “Ring of Fire” that surrounds the Pacific Ocean.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Destination Limbo: Health Suffers Among Asylum Seekers In Crowded Border Shelter

      Immigrants from Mexico and Central America seeking asylum in the United States frequently end up at border shelters in Tijuana, Mexico. They stay in them for weeks as they wait for the U.S. government to approve or deny their applications.

      Most of the refugees get sick during their journeys due to insufficient food, a lack of clean water and poor sanitation at camps and shelters along the way. But perhaps their biggest health problem is depression and anxiety: They have suffered violence and been threatened by gangs and left behind everything they know in the world.

      Volunteer health care workers from Southern California recently visited the Movimiento Juventud 2000 (Youth Movement 2000) shelter in Tijuana, and spent the day treating the migrants there. KHN’s Heidi de Marco captured the scene.

    • ‘A Coordinated Backlash’: Anti-Choice Protests Explode as State Lawmakers Protect Abortion Rights

      Giving testimony at the Rhode Island state house in support of abortion rights protections was “unnerving and unsettling” for Jamie Hagen, a post-doctoral fellow in Providence.

      A volunteer abortion clinic escort, Hagen told Rewire.News she feels people don’t understand how at risk access to reproductive rights is in Rhode Island as lawmakers there pressure Democratic leadership to allow votes on Reproductive Health Care Act, which would enshrine Roe protections into state law.

      From church members handing out anti-choice t-shirts outside the state house to the same folks taking up most of the seats and waving anti-abortion signs in the chamber during her public testimony in favor of a bill to protect abortions rights, Hagen said she was surprised by the atmosphere.

      “The antis must have been able to get in there to fill up the room before those of us who were in support of the Reproductive Health Care Act could so they had anti-abortion signs behind me that you can see on camera during my testimony,” she said. “The tone of the room was very hostile, and it did not feel friendly to those who were speaking in support of basic health care for women. I was not prepared for that. It did feel a little bit like a grilling and like I was going out there on a limb to say something as basic as abortion should be protected.”

    • America’s Biggest Lie: We Can’t Afford Medicare for All

      Pundits and politicians repeatedly warn us that the country cannot afford costly social services. They caution about the perils of a rising national debt, the supposed near bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security, and the need to sell public services to the highest bidder in order to save them. We must tighten our belts sooner or later, they tell us, rather than spend on social goods like universal health care, free higher education and badly needed infrastructure.

      To many Americans this sounds all too true because they are having an incredibly tough time making ends meet. According to the Federal Reserve, “Four in 10 adults in 2017 would either borrow, sell something, or not be able pay if faced with a $400 emergency expense.” To those who are so highly stressed financially, the idea of paying for a costly program like Medicare for All sounds impossible.

    • ‘Historic Step’ Toward Healthcare Justice as First-Ever Medicare for All Hearing Set for Next Week

      “Healthcare is a human right and I’m proud the Rules Committee will be holding this hearing on the Medicare for All Act,” Jayapal said in a statement.

      “Even with passage of the Affordable Care Act,” the congresswoman added, “there are more than 70 million people either without coverage or have coverage that leaves them still unable to access medical care due to prohibitively high out-of-pocket costs. There is no other developed country on the face of the Earth that has a healthcare system that is as fragmented and costly as ours. The health outcomes and barriers to care in America are the worst of any industrialized nation.”

      Under Jayapal’s legislation, the United States would transition to a single-payer system over a two-year period, and every American would receive comprehensive health coverage including dental, vision, reproductive health, and mental health for free at the point of service.

      Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), celebrated the upcoming hearing on Twitter.

      “We are excited Congress is taking this historic step by holding the first ever hearing for Medicare for All—the only true solution to this country’s healthcare crisis,” said Castillo.

      As Common Dreams reported, NNU has been leading efforts to build support for Medicare for All at the grassroots as the ambitious proposal gains momentum in Congress.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • A year with Spectre: a V8 perspective

      On January 3, 2018, Google Project Zero and others disclosed the first three of a new class of vulnerabilities that affect CPUs that perform speculative execution, dubbed Spectre and Meltdown. Using the speculative execution mechanisms of CPUs, an attacker could temporarily bypass both implicit and explicit safety checks in code that prevent programs from reading unauthorized data in memory. While processor speculation was designed to be a microarchitectural detail, invisible at the architectural level, carefully crafted programs could read unauthorized information in speculation and disclose it through side channels such as the execution time of a program fragment.

      When it was shown that JavaScript could be used to mount Spectre attacks, the V8 team became involved in tackling the problem. We formed an emergency response team and worked closely with other teams at Google, our partners at other browser vendors, and our hardware partners. In concert with them, we proactively engaged in both offensive research (constructing proof-of-concept gadgets) and defensive research (mitigations for potential attacks).

    • The Purism Librem Key

      The Librem Key is a new hardware token for improving Linux security by adding a physical authentication factor to booting, login and disk decryption on supported systems. It also has some features that make it a good general-purpose OpenPGP smart card. This article looks at how the Librem Key stacks up against other multi-factor tokens like the YubiKey 5 and also considers what makes the Librem Key a unique trusted-computing tool.

      Purism is a new player in the security key and multi-factor authentication markets. With the introduction of the Librem Key, Purism joins the ranks of other players—such as Yubico, Google, RSA and so on—in providing hardware tokens for multi-factor authentication.

      In addition, like the YubiKey 5 series, the Librem Key also provides OpenPGP support with cryptographic functions that take place securely on-key. This allows users to generate and use GnuPG public and private keys without exposing any secret key material to the host computer where the USB device is attached.

      The Librem Key is based on the German-manufactured Nitrokey Pro 2, but it has been modified to focus on “trusted boot” when used with Purism’s Linux laptops. (I take a closer look at what the trusted boot process is and how the Librem Key fits into that process, later in this article.)

    • Atom-based network security appliances focus on industrial control

      Lanner’s Apollo Lake based “LEC-6041” and Bay Trail “LEC-6032” are Linux-supported network security appliances for industrial control monitoring with up to 7x GbE ports, including SFP ports, plus magnetic isolation and extended temp support.

    • How secure are your containerized apps? [Ed: Why does SJVN promote the Microsoft-connected anti-FOSS firm Snyk?]
    • IPFire 2.23 – Core Update 131 is available for testing

      Finally, the next major version of IPFire is ready to testing. We consider our new Intrusion Prevention System such an important change, that we are calling it “IPFire 2.23″ from now on. This update also contains a number of other bug fixes and enhancements.

    • How hacking threats spurred secret U.S. blacklist

      U.S. energy regulators are pursuing a risky plan to share with electric utilities a secret “don’t buy” list of foreign technology suppliers, according to multiple sources.

      The move reflects the federal government’s growing concern that hackers and foreign spies are targeting America’s vital energy infrastructure. And it’s also raised new questions about the value of top-secret U.S. intelligence if it can’t get into the hands of power industry executives who can act on it to avoid high-risk vendors.

      Joseph McClelland, director of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Infrastructure Security, told a Department of Energy advisory committee last month that officials are working on “an open-source procurement list” for utilities to use when deciding where to source their software and equipment.

    • Cumulus Networks’ new version of NetQ provides real-time telemetry and fabric-wide analytics
    • Once again, it’s 123456: the password that says ‘I give up’

      The essence of most people’s regard for cybersecurity: we’re DOOMED.

      That’s one of the key takeaways from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which released the results of its first ever UK cyber survey on Sunday, along with a list of the most craptacular passwords found most often in breached databases.

    • GNU Wget Buffer Overflow Vulnerability [CVE-2019-5953]

      A vulnerability in GNU Wget could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (DoS) condition on a targeted system.

      The vulnerability exists because the affected software performs improper bounds checks, which could result in a buffer overflow condition in the irc.c source code file. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by persuading a user to retrieve a file that submits malicious input using the wgetcommand. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (DoS) condition.The vendor has confirmed the vulnerability and released software updates.

    • The French Govt’s Hand-Rolled Encrypted Messaging Service (Briefly) Allowed Anyone To Pretend They Were A Government Official

      Not only was Robert able to get his faux account validated within two hours of downloading the app, he was also able to obtain plenty of info linked to other government account profiles. On the bright side, the team behind the app reacted quickly to notification of the security flaw and suspended account creation until it could be patched. The French government has also instituted a bug bounty program for Tchap, which will hopefully result in further flaws being addressed before they’re exploited by criminals or state-sponsored hackers.

      To be fair, Tchap is still in its “beta” stage. But that’s not much comfort considering it was rolled out for use in this state, exposing government employees’ personal account info and allowing any outsider to take a seat at the Tchap table just by exploiting the system’s less-than-robust validation process.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Commune is the Supreme Expression of Participatory Democracy: a Conversation with Anacaona Marin of El Panal Commune

      Today, we are not only resisting imperialism. We are also resisting old forms of production and their diverse forms of domination: from the organization of education and affects, to the organization of the formal political sphere and the economy.

    • ‘Morally Despicable’: Trump Administration Threatens to Veto UN Resolution Combating Rape as Weapon of War

      “In recent months, the Trump administration has taken a hard line, refusing to agree to any U.N. documents that refer to sexual or reproductive health, on grounds that such language implies support for abortions,” the Guardian reported. “It has also opposed the use of the word ‘gender,’ seeing it as a cover for liberal promotion of transgender rights.”

      The Trump administration’s opposition to the measure, proposed by Germany, quickly sparked international outrage.

      “If we let the Americans do this and take out this language, it will be watered down for a long time,” an anonymous European diplomat told the Guardian. “It is, at its heart, an attack on the progressive normative framework established over the past 25 years.”

      Heather Barr, acting co-director of the women’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, tweeted: “In the latest step in Trump’s war on women, U.S. opposes healthcare for survivors of rape during war. Yes, you read that right.”

    • Do You Prefer Your American Empire Coarse or Polite?

      It amounts to a matter of taste; how you prefer the emperor to behave. Such is political life in the late-stage American Empire. Both major parties offer nothing but the same – hyper-military interventionism and the quest for global hegemony – in the charade of choice each election cycle. The question, as 2020 approaches, is whether we can expect more of the same from the Democratic and Republican candidates for president. Of course, the use of this label, emperor, will undoubtedly make many a reader squirm and/or dismiss this piece.

      Only let me explain myself. Ever since Congress abdicated its constitutional responsibility for declaring and providing oversight of wars, the U.S. president has had near dictatorial, limitless power over foreign affairs. Since the last time the US Congress declared war, during World War II, somewhere north of 100,000 American troops have died in foreign wars. Hundreds of thousands more have been injured, and, though it barely registers on Americans’ radar, several million foreigners have died during the unending cycle of US military intervention.

      This should be a big story, the elephant in the room, the ultimate national scandal, but of course it is not. Precious few Americans bear the burden of waging Uncle Sam’s forever wars, and, as a result, the populace has quit caring what’s done in its name overseas. Consider this paradox: presidential elections are won based on domestic, “kitchen table” issues – not foreign policy – yet it is precisely in world affairs that the executive possesses the most influence. Congress can and does block presidents’ agendas at home, but hardly raise a peep about the minor matters of war and peace.

      So let us consider the outcome of this apathy and presidential unilateralism here at the twilight of American Empire. Neither “liberal” Democratic or “conservative” Republican presidents take any real action to dismantle the imperial superstructure. Indeed, quite often, supposed “liberal” executives felt even more pressure to flex military muscle and avoid looking soft on whatever ism the US is supposedly threatened by – communism, Islamism, take your pick. Democrats started, or waged, the Korean War, Vietnam, the clandestine CIA war in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Syria, and Libya. These mostly ill-advised conflicts certainly account for the majority of American and foreign casualties inflicted by the US war machine. The Republicans are responsible for plenty of doozies too – Cambodia, Laos, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq – but you sort of expect it from them.

    • Federal agents in Russia’s Far East say they’ve busted a terrorist cell

      Russian federal agents in the Primorye region say they’ve “liquidated” a cell of the terrorist group Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad.

      Russia’s Federal Security Service told the news agency Interfax that the terrorist cell comprised four individuals from Central Asia. The group was apparently operating with funding from “international terrorist structures.”

    • Trump’s Latest Iran Sanctions Show an Unraveling of US Foreign Policy

      The Trump administration is ramping up its campaign against Iran by announcing it will end waivers allowing eight countries to continue importing Iranian oil—part of an attempt to drop Iranian oil exports to zero. This follows the Trump administration’s categorization of part of Iran’s army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, as a terrorist organization, and unilaterally withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

      “This administration, for all intents and purposes in my view, is working against the interests of the United States,” Colonel Larry Wilkerson told The Real News Network’s Marc Steiner. China and Turkey have already said they will not abide by the U.S. ending of the waivers, but India will possibly follow along, all of which could lead to a more profound trade war.

      The decision also represents the influence of National Security Advisor John Bolton, who was in favor of these sanctions, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wanted the waivers to continue.

    • Trump’s Chinese Telecom Protectionism Always Seems To Be Lacking Evidence

      If you hadn’t noticed by now, the Trump administration has made blacklisting Chinese telecom companies one of its top priorities. That’s been most notably exemplified by the administration’s attacks on Huawei, which is repeatedly cited as an asset of the Chinese government without much in the way of proof. From pressuring U.S. carriers to drop plans to sell Huawei phones to the FCC’s decision to ban companies from using Huawei gear if they want to receive federal subsidies, this effort hasn’t been subtle. A harder, broader ban is supposedly looming in the wings.

      There’s no doubt that Huawei, like AT&T here in the states, isn’t a shining beacon of ethical behavior. At the same time, the dulcet undertones justifying much of the blacklisting is based on the premise that the company spies on Americans on a massive scale. Yet nobody has provided evidence of that. In the slightest. In fact, one 18-month investigation into Huawei in 2011 (the last time we had a similar epidemic of hand-wringing on this subject) found that there was no evidence supporting that claim.

    • The Path To War With Iran Is Paved With Sanctions

      The Trump administration is laying siege to Iran. Taking pages from the Iraq War playbook, senior officials paint a picture of a rogue, outlaw, terrorist regime bent on acquiring nuclear weapons and whose “malign activities” are the cause of all the chaos in the Middle East. They know what they are doing. They have done it before. They are building a case for war.

      The “maximum pressure” campaign by the White House, Treasury Department, and State Department accelerated this week with the announcement that the United States would force China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey to cease all imports of Iranian oil or face severe U.S. sanctions. The goal is to cut to zero all of Iran’s oil exports, which account for some 40 percent of its national income. This strategy is unlikely to force the capitulation or collapse of the regime, but it very likely could lead to war.

      The United States has already reimposed all the nuclear-related sanctions lifted by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that successfully rolled back and effectively froze Iran’s nuclear program and put it under the most stringent inspections ever negotiated. The goals of the sanctions announced April 22, however, go way beyond nuclear issues.

    • The U.S. Is Blocking Investigations Into War Crimes in Afghanistan

      Almost a decade ago, on February 12, 2010, U.S. Special Operations Forces arrived at the home of Haji Sharabuddin in Khataba (Paktia Province, Afghanistan). The family of Sharabuddin was celebrating the birth of a grandson. Inside the home were close family members (including a police investigator and a government prosecutor) as well as the vice-chancellor of Gardez University, Sayed Mohammed Mal. At 3 a.m., the U.S. forces attacked the home, killing five members of the family including Sharabuddin’s son—Mohammed Dawood—who was the police investigator. After the killing, the soldiers carried the bodies into the house and removed the bullets with a knife. They did not want to leave evidence of their actions. They then ransacked the home—including stealing money—and left. The U.S. military said that those whom they killed were insurgents. Both the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Criminal Investigations Department of the Afghan Ministry of the Interior found this allegation to be false. A war crime had been committed here.

      But, thanks to the withdrawal of the International Criminal Court, this crime—and hundreds of others—will neither be properly documented nor will there be justice for the victims and survivors. Thousands of family members, who know very well what happened in little villages like Khataba and Nangalam, will have no recourse either to an admission of guilt or punishment for the killers. The killing in Nangalam was by a U.S. helicopter on March 1, 2011. The pilots fired on nine boys, killing them all. “My son Wahidullah’s head was missing,” said Haji Bismillah. “I only recognized him from his clothes.” The U.S. apologized for the killing but did nothing other than that.

      One village and one town after another has families with stories of such violent and senseless deaths. This U.S. war on Afghanistan, which has been ongoing since 2001, has produced an unknown death count with unknown numbers of war crimes (by the U.S. troops, by the Afghan armed forces and by the Taliban). Afghanistan remains an open sore of crime and impunity.

    • The U.S.-Mexico Border Isn’t Protected by Militias, It’s Patrolled by Domestic Terrorists

      It speaks volumes about today’s political climate that anti-immigrant domestic terrorists have begun calling themselves border militias, holding unarmed people at gunpoint and feeling so emboldened that they post videos of their activities on social media, including Facebook and YouTube.

      Luckily, the hubris of at least one group didn’t impress law enforcement: On Saturday, the New Mexico attorney general’s office announced that Larry Hopkins, the leader of the United Constitutional Patriots (which had been detaining migrants at gunpoint near the U.S.-Mexico border) had been arrested by the FBI and charged with felony possession of firearms and ammunition.

      [...]

      It is ironic that a group with “constitutional” in their name is so unaware — or defiant — of the law and the constitution. Only trained law enforcement officials, like the Border Patrol and ICE, have the authority to detain migrants. But last week, Hopkins’ group posted videos purporting to show their members identifying themselves as “Border Patrol” and holding immigrants at gunpoint. One member told Reuters that they had “helped” Border Patrol detain 5,600 migrants in the last two months.

      By improperly holding people against their will, whether those people legally crossed the border or not, members of the United Constitutional Patriots have opened themselves to charges of assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping and impersonating law enforcement officers. (Hopkins, notably, was previously arrested in 2006 for impersonating law enforcement and illegal possession of a firearm and thus is presumably well aware his actions were not legal.) The UCP members are also likely trespassing on privately-held or federal land.
      More importantly, it is perfectly legal under U.S. law for people to cross the border without papers and apply for asylum and other forms of humanitarian relief. So if anyone is “illegal” in a confrontation with Hopkins’ followers, it is the United Constitutional Patriots.

    • Russia Recovered Remains Of Israeli Spy From Syria.. Or Did It?

      Russia is about to hand over the remains of the notorious Israeli spy Eli Cohen, who was executed in Syria, Israeli media claimed earlier this week. The reports based on information provided by anonymous sources in the Syrian opposition hold that a Russian delegation arrived to Damascus, took the body and left the country with it. Despite zero evidence these claims caused a huge commotion in Syria and Israel, forcing both countries to pay closer attention to Russia’s actions. This may be the very outcome desired by those who have been spreading these rumors.

    • Johns Hopkins Students Enter Week 4 of Sit-In Protesting ICE Contracts & Plan for Armed Campus Cops

      Students at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, have entered their 21st day of a sit-in occupation of their campus administration building to protest the university’s plans for an armed police force on campus, as well as Johns Hopkins’s contracts with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Students at Johns Hopkins are demanding the cancellation of contracts with ICE and a pledge to donate all money received from ICE to Baltimore’s immigration defense fund. They’re also demanding voluntary recognition for all workers wishing to unionize, and a student and faculty representative spot on the university’s board of trustees.

    • Letter to the Emperor

      Japan’s 85 year-old Emperor Akihito is tired. The popular and charismatic king says he will retire at the end of this month, becoming the first Japanese Emperor in history to voluntarily step down from the Imperial throne. Indeed, the weight of his monarchy is heavy, weighed by the 2,600 year old Japanese tradition that says that the Emperor is divine; a direct descendent of the Sun goddess Amaterasu.

      Of course, the question of divinity is problematic. Akihito’s father, the Emperor Hirohito, renounced his own divinity on New Year’s Day in 1946 on the direct orders of the commander of U.S. occupation forces in Japan. Hirohito remained on the throne, but the question remained: Could a U.S. General really force the elimination of the god-status of the Japanese Emperor?

      Different questions still dog the current Emperor Akihito, who has been asked to apologize to war victims on behalf of his father Hirohito, in whose name Japanese soldiers killed 35 million people across Asia. The Emperor’s armies invaded more than a dozen countries, and committed international war crimes that became synonymous with the word ‘atrocity; war crimes with their own names, such as the Nanking Massacre, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March, the Rape of Manila, and others. Less well known, but equally horrific was “Unit 731,” the Japanese biological-warfare factory in Manchuria that tortured and murdered thousands of human guinea-pigs, and manufactured and unleashed deadly epidemics on scores of Chinese cities.

      The Emperor’s mystical and de-facto powers over Japan’s population and military machine became more extreme late in the war, when facing defeat, the Japanese army ordered ‘Banzai’ suicidal last-stands in Pacific battlegrounds, while the Air Force sent thousands of Kamikaze suicide pilots to literally die for the Emperor by crashing their planes into U.S. warships.

    • California Tried to Fix Its Prisons. Now County Jails Are More Deadly.

      On the night of Jan. 17, 2018, Lorenzo Herrera walked into the Fresno County Jail booking area and sat down for an interview. Yes, he had a gang history, an officer wrote on his intake form. But Herrera, 19, said he did not expect problems with others inside the gang pod he’d soon call home.

      His parents had encouraged him to barter for books and newspapers — anything he could to preoccupy himself until his trial on burglary and assault charges. His father, Carlos Herrera, offered advice: “Just be careful, and only trust yourself.”

      Herrera survived the violent chaos of the Fresno County Jail for 66 days, including living through a brawl that left another inmate unconscious. Then, on an afternoon in March, jail officers found him strangled.

      Herrera didn’t get a trial or a plea deal. He got a death sentence, his parents say. And even now, no one at the jail seems to know what happened.

      The evening before Herrera entered the jail, Ernest Brock, 20, was also arrested and booked pending trial. Officers put him in a cell with a psychotic inmate accused of rape who had refused to take medication and was beating his head against the walls. Brock made it three days inside before the cellmate choked him into a coma.

    • A Decisive Struggle For Our Future

      The election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu in 2019 occurred under different circumstances, and yet they are very similar in their results. They both put an authoritarian figure in power through democratic electoral procedures. As well, both of these figures, like so many modern reactionary leaders before them, denigrate the recent past. Why do they do so?

      In the case of Donald Trump, the past he despises is the 1960s, with its progressive civil rights legislation. The laws passed at this time pushed the white supremacy model out of the public realm. Trump. in practice, has proven to be a white supremacist and an extreme nationalist. Most of his “core” voting base adheres to these ideas as well. This worldview demands that he undo— through presidential orders and future decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court—the progress toward equalitarianism and a multicultural society symbolized by the election of America’s first African-American president, Barack Obama. Trump also wants to “Make America Great Again” by acting on the basis of national power alone—thus destroying along the way any number of alliances and treaties enshrining human rights and progressive international law.

      Of course, these ambitions alone are not exactly why he was elected. Trump’s racist “core” is too small to have elected him by themselves. He was elected because too many Americans did not want to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016—whom they saw as a status quo candidate—and Trump was the GOP alternative. It may well be that a good number of the electorate who voted for Trump had no idea of what sort of person they were supporting. By now they should have no doubt.

      In the case of Benjamin Netanyahu, the story is an even odder one. The past that Netanyahu rejects is the one designed after World War II to criminalize behaviors such as the waging of aggressive war, genocide, and apartheid. Some of these behaviors had for centuries threatened European Jews. Netanyahu, and those who voted for him, no longer identify with the suffering of their European ancestors. Israel is now a strong, aggressive, land-hungry power much like 19th century Russia and Germany. Many Israeli Jews are also, like Donald Trump’s core supporters, ethnic racists and supremacists.

    • As the 2019 Indian General Election Takes Place, Are the Nation’s Farmers Being Dealt a Knock-Out Blow?

      In 1830, British colonial administrator Lord Metcalfe said India’s villages were little republics that had nearly everything they could want for within themselves. India’s ability to endure derived from these communities: “Dynasty after dynasty tumbles down but the village community remains the same. It is in a high degree conducive to their happiness, and to the enjoyment of a great portion of freedom and independence.”

      Metcalfe was acutely aware that to subjugate India, this capacity to ‘endure’ had to be broken. Since gaining independence from the British, India’s rulers have only further served to undermine village India’s vibrancy. But now a potential death knell for rural India and its villages is underway.

      There is a plan for the future of India and most of its current farmers don’t have a role in it. Successive administrations have been making farming financially unviable with the aim of moving farmers out of agriculture and into the cities to work in construction, manufacturing or the service sector, despite these sectors not creating anything like the number of jobs required.

      The aim is to displace the existing labour-intensive system of food and agriculture with one dominated by a few transnational corporate agribusiness concerns which will then control the sector. Agriculture is to be wholly commercialised with large-scale, mechanised (monocrop) enterprises replacing family-run farms that help sustain hundreds of millions of rural livelihoods, while feeding the urban masses.

      So why would anyone set out to deliberately run down what is effectively a productive system of agriculture that feeds people, sustains livelihoods and produces sufficient buffer stocks?

      Part of the answer comes down to India being the largest recipient of World Bank loans in the history of that institution and acting on its ‘advice’. Part of it results from the neoliberal-driven US-Indo Knowledge Agreement on Agriculture. Either way, it means India’s rulers are facilitating the needs of (Western) capitalism and all it entails: a system based on endless profit growth, crises of overproduction and market saturation and a need to constantly seek out and expand into new, untapped (foreign) markets to maintain profitability.

      And as a market for proprietary seeds, chemical inputs and agricultural technology and machinery, India is vast. The potential market for herbicide growth alone for instance is huge: sales could reach USD 800 million this year with scope for even greater expansion. And with restrictions on GMOs in place in Europe and elsewhere, India is again regarded as a massive potential market.

    • Failed States and Militias: General Khalifa Haftar Moves on Tripoli

      The richly disastrous mess that is Libya has been moving into another phase of inspired aggression at the hands of General Khalifa Haftar. As he does, UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj is anxious. For some three weeks, the General’s eastern forces, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA) have been edging towards the capital of the fractured state in a hope to remove the “remaining terrorist groups” in the region.

      The government of national accord (GNA) is not getting the voices of support in foreign capitals it might have once enjoyed. In early April, Al-Sarraj was keen to stress his view on how Libya would return to a state of strife-free normalcy. “We will not give up our principles and peaceful solutions to reach a civil state, to ensure that totalitarian rule or militarisation of the state will not return.”

      Much stock was placed in having a national dialogue that would lead to “the unification of institutions and the holding of right presidential and parliamentary constitutional elections to allow people to have their say.”

      General Haftar, veteran of the Libyan war in Chad during the 1970s and 1980s and touted past collaborator with the CIA, has preferred to spoil the party with his own effort to besiege the capital, despite efforts on the part of Western diplomats to discourage him. His argument in attacking Tripoli since the chaos of 2011 has been directed at the feeble efforts of Libya’s interim figures, whom he accuses of being oblivious to the Islamist militia problem. His response to the militia problem has been to create his own ragtag grouping of militias. It takes one to get rid of one.

      Al-Sarraj is doing everything he can to assure that his forces will play by the rules of international humanitarian law, hoping that this will keep him in the good books and add him to others. A counter-offensive has begun, and clashes have been reported in Wadi Rabea, Airport Road, Ain Zara and Khalit Al-Furjan.

    • The War in Yemen
    • Top Ten List in Defense of MEChA

      Seven.The notion that MEChistas are anti-Central American is equally ahistorical and absurd.

      MEChistas played a key role on college/university campuses (and the streets, etc.) during the 1980s and early 1990s, protesting against U.S. military intervention in Central America. This includes being an integral part of the sanctuary movement for Central Americans fleeing U.S. sponsored wars during this same period.

    • Trump’s Transgender Troops Ban is un-American and Inhumane

      On April 12, a new Defense Department policy went into effect officially barring most transgender people from enlisting in the nation’s military. This is a sad development, and represents an attack on the values and liberties that we all cherish as Americans.

      After two years of court challenges and public controversy since President Trump announced his plan, the policy as implemented says transgender people can serve only if they haven’t surgically transitioned to another gender or received hormone treatment. This rules out lots of people: Approximately 15,000 current troops identify as transgender. Regardless of your personal views on gender issues, we should all acknowledge that these 15,000 individuals selflessly signed up to risk their lives for America.

      America isn’t just a country—it’s an experiment. The United States is seen as a global beacon of freedom, the light at the end of a tunnel, a nation that stands up for inalienable individual liberty. While imperfect, America has been known as the country of freedom, opportunity, and justice for centuries. Today, America remains the nation of free speech, a nation with marriage equality, and a place where we strive to give all people the opportunity to pursue the life they’ve always dreamed of. It’s supposed to be the nation where religious persecution by the government is non-existent, and the first country to truly give individual liberty a chance—and there’s no reason why that ideal should stop with transgender people.

      Banning transgender individuals from serving their own country is unnecessary, humiliating, and counterproductive. One of the main arguments against allowing transgender individuals into the military is the question of the financial cost for the transition—who is going to pay for it? Will it be taxpayers? But the ban would also prevent those who have already received medical treatment.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange’s Victory

      Throughout history, dark and reactionary forces have always attempted to control the world; by violence, by deceit, by kidnapping and perverting the mainstream narrative, or by spreading fear among the masses.

      Consistently, brave and honest individuals have been standing up, exposing lies, confronting the brutality and depravity. Some have fought against insane and corrupt rulers by using swords or guns; others have chosen words as their weapons.

      Many were cut down; most of them were. New comrades rose up; new banners of resistance were unveiled.

      To resist is to dream of a better world. And to dream is to live.

      The bravest of the brave never fought for just their own countries and cultures; they fought for the entire humanity. They were and they are what one could easily define as “intuitive internationalists”.

      [...]

      A few days before this essay went to print, Julian Assange was cynically betrayed by a country which used to be governed by a socialist administration, and which gave him political asylum and citizenship, both. Its current ruler, Lenin Moreno, will be judged extremely harshly by history: he’ll be remembered as a man who began dismantling the socialist structure of Ecuador, and who then literally sold (to the twisted British and US judiciary systems) a man who has already sacrificed more than his life for the truth as well as for survival of our planet.

      As the Metropolitan Police dragged Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London into a van, the entire world could catch a glimpse of the naked essence of the Western regime; the regime in action – oppressive, gangrenous, murderous and vindictive.

    • Daniel Ellsberg Speaks Out on the Arrest of Julian Assange

      As Julian Assange awaits his fate, socked away in maximum security lockdown in Great Britain, his supporters and friends—many of whom believe he is one of the most significant publishers of our time—are vigiling, writing, and speaking out in support of his work and calling for his immediate release.

      I spoke to legendary Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg the morning after Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, with the eyes of the world watching the scene unfold in real time.

      Ellsberg says he is both outraged and deeply concerned about the impact this case might have on the free press. “Without whistleblowers,” Ellsberg tells me in the following interview, “we would not have a democracy.”

    • Documents Show FBI’s Role In Producing Film On Mark Felt, Who Betrayed Bureau In Watergate Scandal

      Set in the aftermath of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s death, 2017’s “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” was a historical thriller about the new FBI leadership and how it came to terms with Hoover’s passing as well as Watergate.

      The film followed Felt as he betrayed the FBI by leaking to reporters and becoming the notorious “Deep Throat.”

      It boasted an A-list cast that included Liam Neeson as Felt and Diane Lane as his wife, yet the film garnered mixed reviews and performed dismally at the box office.

      The film’s release was timed to capitalize on public interest in the now-fading Russiagate allegations, and the producers seemed more interested in playing into the contemporary political narrative than with an accurate presentation of very important historical events.

      Producers were supported by the FBI, who recently released a cache of documents in response to a FOIA request on the support they provided to the movie.

      Curiously, it was the FBI who first approached the filmmakers to offer their assistance. They did not wait to be asked. (This happened with Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” too.)

    • The Prosecution Of Julian Assange Is Infinitely Bigger Than Assange

      The entire world is watching what is being done to Assange currently. No matter how propagandized you are, no matter how much you hate the man personally…

    • Release of Julian Assange sought in Bangladesh

      Under banner ‘Friends of WikiLeaks’, the chain, starting at 4:30pm and ending at 5:30pm, saw activists, eminent citizens and students wielding placards.

      “Julian Assange’s sabotage act is much needed in today’s world,” Prof Anu Muhammad, an eminent citizen, told The Daily Star. “What Assange did was for the people.”

      “He showed the people a way to fight the imperialist powers in the world. We all need to stand beside him,” he added.

    • Street artist’s Assange painting disappeared
    • Britain: the Assange arrest – Blairites run to the support of imperialism

      The arrest of Julian Assange is a vicious assault on basic democratic rights. Through WikiLeaks, Assange has exposed the hair-raising crimes of US imperialism and its allies, including the UK. While war criminals like Bush and Blair walk free, Assange now faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in a US prison. A defence of Assange is a defence of the right to freedom of expression and the right to information, against imperialist aggression.

    • Assange Arrest : ‘So Now He’s Our Property’

      If ‘journalism’ meant what it is supposed to mean– acting as the proverbial ‘fourth estate’ to challenge power and to keep the public informed – then Julian Assange and WikiLeaks would be universally lauded as paragons. So would Chelsea Manning, the brave former US Army whistleblower who passed on to WikiLeaks more than 700,000 confidential US State Department and Pentagon documents, videos and diplomatic cables about the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      The most infamous example was ‘Collateral Murder’, a video clip filmed from a US helicopter gunship, showing the indiscriminate killing of a dozen or more Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in 2007. Shockwaves reverberated around the world, to the deep embarrassment of the US government and military. Today, Manning is incarcerated in a Virginia jail, and Assange is locked up in the high-security HM Prison Belmarsh.

    • Petition Calling For Intervention Into Assange Extradition Passes 100,000 Signatures

      An Australian-led petition demanding the federal government intervene in the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States over the publication of hundreds of thousands of documents exposing US involvement in numerous atrocities has passed 100,000 signatures. And it’s growing larger every day.

      The petition on change.org was started by Brisbane resident Philip Adams nine months ago, and had reached more than 30,000 signatures before Assange was arrested earlier this month, after his political asylum within the Ecuadorian embassy in London was cancelled.

    • Julian Assange Was Arrested. So Why Is Chelsea Manning Still In Jail?

      Chelsea Manning on Monday lost her appeal to get out jail after she refused to testify before a grand jury about WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

      The fact that Manning is still in jail is one of the clearest signs that federal prosecutors are still investigating Assange and WikiLeaks and mulling additional charges. Assange was arrested by United Kingdom authorities on April 11 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in part because he faces an indictment in the United States that charges him with conspiring with Manning to hack into US Defense Department computer systems in 2010.

      In a two-page order on Monday, the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld a lower court judge’s ruling in March finding Manning in contempt and ordering her jailed until she complied with the subpoena. The three-judge appeals panel didn’t provide any detailed analysis, only writing that they had found “no error in the district court’s rulings.” The court also denied Manning’s request to be released on bail.

    • Journalist Glenn Greenwald defends Assange: ‘Things that journalists do every single day’

      Journalist Glenn Greenwald on Monday defended WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after he was charged by the Justice Department earlier this month for allegedly conspiring to hack a government computer in connection with the organization’s release of sensitive government files in 2010.

      “So much of what’s in the indictment, encouraging a source to get more documents, helping a source cover her tracks in order not to be detected, are things that journalists do every single day,” Greenwald, co-founding editor at The Intercept, told hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton in an appearance on Hill.TV.

      “You can say journalists don’t typically help a source hack into a password in order to get you know, a better way of hiding her identity, but helping a source avoid detection is definitely something journalists are not just entitled to do, but obligated to do,” he continued.

    • For Ecuador’s Lenín Moreno, Evicting Julian Assange Is Only the Beginning

      After almost seven years of diplomatic protection, Julian Assange’s diminishing good will with Ecuador ran out. On April 11, Assange was expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been given asylum in 2012 by then-President Rafael Correa to avoid international criticism that his government was restricting freedom of expression. By protecting Assange, Correa also became an icon of the global political left.

      Ecuador’s current president, Lenín Moreno—Correa’s former vice president, protégé, and hand-picked successor—not only expelled Assange from the embassy but also stripped him of the Ecuadorian citizenship granted by the government in 2017. Leftists around the world saw Moreno’s action as the culmination of his betrayal of Correa’s legacy.

      First, he broke with Correa, and then he announced a popular referendum to be held in 2018, in which Ecuadorians voted overwhelmingly to reject the possibility of Correa’s re-election. (Although Correa, who is living in Belgium, is unlikely to return anytime soon—a judge has ordered his arrest in Ecuador based on his alleged participation in the failed kidnapping of an Ecuadorian opposition politician in Colombia.) Correa and his supporters argue that Moreno’s action shows the total reversal of his foreign policy. But Assange’s expulsion is only one example of how Moreno has largely reversed Correa’s plans for Ecuador since his election in 2017.

      When Assange first sought refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy, Correa had been in power for six years and was leading a charge to upend all of the country’s political institutions. A participatory constituent assembly drafted a new constitution that enhanced several rights—and even gave rights to nature—while concentrating power in the hands of the presidency. Correa put the state at the center of development. Ecuador, a member of OPEC, counts on oil as one of its largest sources of export revenue. By reaping the fruits of extraordinarily high oil prices, Correa had the resources to increase the size of the state, redistribute income, and reduce poverty. Yet in doing so he also increased the country’s economic dependency on the extraction of oil and minerals, and just in time for 2014’s steep drop in oil prices.

    • Legal experts: Assange likely faces espionage charges if extradited to US

      CNN cited US legal scholar Orin Kerr, who bluntly stated that the two publicly-revealed US charges against Assange—alleging he was involved in a conspiracy to gain unauthorised access to a US government computer—were “a placeholder.” Kerr said they were only “a brief indictment sufficient to get the case started, but very likely only a small part of any case against Assange.”

      Peter Toren, a former computer crimes federal prosecutor, said: “The government does not limit an indictment, especially in a case like this, to a single count. It’s a better practice for the government to bring a multi-count indictment.”

      Many legal experts have noted the threadbare character of the charges. They revolve around an unverified 2010 chat log allegedly documenting a conversation between Assange and US army whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

      US prosecutors claim the logs demonstrate that Manning sought out Assange’s assistance in cracking a hash or password. This would have enabled her to access Defence Department computer networks on a password that was not her own, thereby helping to protect her anonymity.

    • Good News From The EU For A Change: A Strong Directive To Protect Whistleblowers

      There is now one final vote by EU ministers, expected to proceed without the drama that accompanied the similar vote for the Copyright Directive. Once passed, there will be a two-year period during which EU Member States need to implement the directive in their national legislation.

      The general consensus among activists in the digital sphere seems to be that the new directive is probably as good as it could be given the past resistance of some governments to the idea of protecting those who reveal their wrongdoing. It is particularly welcome against the background of the Copyright Directive’s upload filters, which will create a convenient mechanism on the main Internet services for blocking documents obtained by whistleblowers. What we need now are the creation of more online sites that are not subject to the Copyright Directive — because they are not for profit, for example — willing to host material from whistleblowers encouraged to act by the legal protection afforded by the new EU directive.

    • Disdain and Dignity: An Old (Anti-Imperialist) Story

      One good comes from Assange’s arrest, as many have noted: Wikileaks revelations are in the news. We hear the sneering at “dead bastards”. We hear the disdain.

      There are truths which, if understood intellectually, are not understood fully. Imperialism is one. We know it intellectually without knowing it. In the Wikileaks video (2010), we feel it.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Cloud forests risk drying out by 2060

      Planet Earth may be about to lose a whole ecosystem: the cloud forests – those species-rich, high altitude rainforests found mostly in Central and South America – could be all but gone in 40 years.

      Researchers warn that within 25 years, global warming driven by ever increasing use of fossil fuels could dry up 60-80% of the misty mountain forests of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru, simply by dispersing the clouds that keep them ever moist, and rich with plant, insect and bird life.

      And as the habitat alters, that could be it for the Monarch butterflies that migrate in their millions to the mountains of Mexico, the elfin woods warbler found only in Puerto Rico, and the other creatures that make their homes in forests so rich and wet that even the trees are home to yet more green habitat: ferns, lichens, mosses and other epiphytes nourished by year-round water and water vapour.

    • Belarus halts benzene exports after receiving low-quality petroleum from Russia

      Belarus has temporarily stopped exporting benzene and diesel to the Baltic states, Poland, and Ukraine because it has received unsatisfactory source petroleum from Russia, said Deputy Director of the Belarusian Oil Company Sergey Grib. He added that exports of dark petroleum products remain at their typical levels.

    • ‘We Are Not Moving Fast Enough’: Study Shows Cost of Melting Permafrost Could Total $70 Trillion

      According to the new research, published in the journal Nature Communications, melting permafrost caused by accelerating Arctic warming would add close to $70 trillion to the overall economic impact of climate change if the planet warms by 3°C by 2100.

      Even if action is taken to limit warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century, the research found melting permafrost would still add $24.8 trillion to overall climate costs.

      Dmitry Yumashev of Lancaster University, the lead author of the study, told National Geographic that melting permafrost and sea ice “are two known tipping elements in the climate system” that could trigger a cycle of unstoppable global warming.

      In an interview with the Guardian, Yumashev called his study’s results “disheartening,” but said nations of the world have the technological capacity to confront the crisis.

      What’s needed, he said, is urgency and political will.

    • Maine AFL-CIO Becomes First State Federation to Support a Green New Deal Bill

      On Tuesday, Maine lawmakers will hold a hearing for “An Act to Establish a Green New Deal for Maine”—a new climate and jobs bill that has the notable support of Maine’s AFL-CIO, the first state labor federation to endorse a Green New Deal-themed piece of legislation. The bill calls for 80 percent renewable electricity consumption by 2040, solar power for public schools, the creation of a task force to study economic and job growth, and a commission to help facilitate a just transition to a low-carbon economy. Its backing from a coalition of over 160 labor unions offers an instructive lesson for other states looking to build union power to tackle a warming planet.

      The bill is the brainchild of Chloe Maxmin, a 26-year-old state lawmaker elected in November, and the first Democrat to ever represent her district. Maxmin, who has been an environmental activist since she was 12 years old, and co-founded the Harvard fossil fuel divestment campaign while in college, said she knew if she was voted into office she would approach climate politics in a different way.

    • Climate Change Has Increased Global Economic Inequality, Researchers Find

      By comparing the GDP of different countries between 1961 and 2010, the study concluded that had the climate not changed, the wealth gap between rich and poor nations would be 25 percent smaller. While rising temperatures stunted economic growth in poor countries near the equator, countries in colder regions, which tend to be richer and burn more fossil fuels, may have benefited slightly.

    • ‘Profound Implications for Justice’: Report Shows Extent of Inequality Exacerbated by Climate Crisis

      The climate crisis is making global economic inequality worse.

      That’s the verdict from a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

      The results of the study presented by Stanford University professors Noah S. Diffenbaugh and Marshall Burke paint a dire picture of the current and future effects of climate change on wealth and resource inequality around the world.

      While the world has become more equal over the last few decades, climate change has held the progression in check.

      “The global warming caused by fossil fuel use has likely exacerbated the economic inequality associated with historical disparities in energy consumption,” the study’s authors write.

    • Global warming has increased global economic inequality

      We find that global warming has very likely exacerbated global economic inequality, including ∼25% increase in population-weighted between-country inequality over the past half century. This increase results from the impact of warming on annual economic growth, which over the course of decades has accumulated robust and substantial declines in economic output in hotter, poorer countries—and increases in many cooler, wealthier countries—relative to a world without anthropogenic warming. Thus, the global warming caused by fossil fuel use has likely exacerbated the economic inequality associated with historical disparities in energy consumption. Our results suggest that low-carbon energy sources have the potential to provide a substantial secondary development benefit, in addition to the primary benefits of increased energy access.

    • Earth Day Will Fight for Climate Action on Its 50th Anniversary

      Earth Day 2019 just passed, but planning has already begun for Earth Day 2020, and it’s going to be a big deal.

    • Amazing New Geckos Discovered in Myanmar — Just As Their Limestone Habitats Are Being Mined

      Shwe Taung, one of Myanmar’s largest industrial companies, had invited Grismer to one of their limestone mining sites to conduct an environmental impact assessment and survey the local wildlife. The researchers didn’t have much time to complete their mission.

      “They said, ‘you can work here from morning until three o’clock, but then you have to leave because we’re going to blow it up,’” recalls Grismer, a biologist at La Sierra University. “So we start surveying and while we’re working they’re drilling these big old holes all around us and stuffing tubes full of C4 down the holes with primer core.”

      [...]

      If conservation work is going to happen, it needs to happen fast.

      Grismer says that many of these areas are being quarried while they conduct their surveys. “We’re collecting in one area and they’re blowing up the place right next to us,” he says.

      That’s not slowing them down. “We’re getting to as many places as quickly as possible, finding and describing these new species and getting them published. That way NGOs like Fauna and Flora International and other environmental organizations in Myanmar can put these species up to be red listed and protected.”

    • A Green New Deal for New York City

      The foundation of this package is a bill that will require large and medium-sized buildings, which account for nearly a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the city, to reduce their emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The very worst performing buildings will have to act by 2024 to curb their emissions.

      By 2030, this bill will cut New York City’s overall emissions by 4 million tons, which is the equivalent of taking 800,000 cars off of the road.

      In addition to reducing emissions, this bill will also accelerate the adoption of renewable energy and will foster the growth of the renewable energy market, something we desperately need.

      These are big changes, and change doesn’t always come easy.

    • Greenland Is Melting 6 Times Faster Than in the 1980s

      The new figure is part of a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that reconstructed the mass balance of Greenland over the past 46 years, comparing ice lost to snowfall gained over the period. The results showed that Greenland has contributed 13.7 millimeters to sea level rise since 1972, half during the last eight years. If all the ice in Greenland were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by more than 20 feet.

      In reporting the findings to The Washington Post, study author and Earth systems scientist for the University of California at Irvine and NASA Eric Rignot echoed the urgency of activists from the Sunrise Movement to Extinction Rebellion who have called for immediate government action on climate change.

    • Greenland is melting even faster than experts thought, study finds

      Climate change is eliminating giant chunks of ice from Greenland at such a speed that the melt has already made a significant contribution to sea level rise, according to a new study. With global warming, the island will lose much more, threatening coastal cities around the world.

      Forty percent to 50% of the planet’s population is in cities that are vulnerable to sea rise, and the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is bad news for places like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mumbai.

    • The Case for Environmental Justice

      Climate change and widening inequality are not two separate issues. They’re intimately connected. And there’s at least one solution to both.

      The people who are bearing the brunt of climate change here and around the world are the poor and working class who live in areas increasingly prone to flooding.

      Who rely on croplands susceptible to ever more frequent droughts.

      Who depend on outdated water and sewage systems, and older roadways and power grids that are falling apart under the strains of more severe weather.

      Who live in fragile structures particularly vulnerable to intensifying hurricanes and violent storms.

    • Photos: How Russia’s Zabaikalsky Krai fought a fire that destroyed more than 150 homes in 17 towns

      On April 19, wildfires began to rage in the southeastern Siberian region of Zabaikalsky Krai. The flames spread quickly, riding through villages on high-speed winds. According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev, more than 150 homes were destroyed in 17 towns, and more than 4,000 pets and livestock animals were killed as a result. The country’s Ministry of Emergency Situations reported that most of the fires were likely caused by open grass burnings, and both regional and federal government agencies have rushed to the aid of the fire’s victims. A state of emergency has been in effect in Zabaikalsky Krai every spring for several years as a precaution against wildfires, but that measure has not entirely prevented new disasters. The following photographs, which were taken by Ksenia Zimina in April 2019, display the aftermath of the most recent fires. These images were provided by Chita.ru.

    • To Escalate Fight Against ‘Existential Crisis,’ Greta Thunberg Backs General Strike for Climate

      “This is not just young people being sick of politicians. It’s an existential crisis,” Thunberg said. “It is something that will affect the future of our civilization. It’s not just a movement. It’s a crisis and we must take action accordingly.”

      Thunberg confirmed later in the event that she advocates for a general strike by simply responding “Yes” when an audience member asked if she felt it was time for a work stoppage in which workers all over the world from various industries would refuse to work until politicians meet the strikers’ demands.

      Writer and anthropologist Jason Hickel applauded the 16-year-old activist for her support, calling a general strike “the sensible next step” needed to force politicians to act immediately to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

    • ‘Coming Mass Extinction’ Caused by Human Destruction Could Wipe Out 1 Million Species, Warns UN Draft Report

      On the heels of an Earth Day that featured calls for radical action to address the current “age of environmental breakdown,” Agence France-Presse revealed Tuesday that up to a million species face possible extinction because of destructive human behavior.

      The warning comes from a forthcoming United Nations report, a draft of which was obtained by AFP, that “painstakingly catalogues how humanity has undermined the natural resources upon which its very survival depends.”

    • Top EPA Advisers Challenge Long-Standing Air Pollution Science, Threatening Americans’ Health

      Americans rely on the Environmental Protection Agency to set pollution control standards that protect their health. But on April 11, an important scientific advisory group submitted recommendations to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler that propose new and dangerous ways of interpreting findings on the health effects of air pollution.

      Wheeler has already dismissed a qualified, independent panel of air pollution scientists appointed by the Obama administration to advise the agency on health effects of fine particulate air pollution — a step that hundreds of scientists, including me, have criticized. As a result, members of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee — a group of seven independent experts mandated under the Clean Air Act to advise the agency — have admitted that they don’t have enough expertise to make appropriate judgments.

      Despite this, the committee submitted its recommendation anyway.

    • Global warming tips scales against the poor

      Global warming has increased global economic inequality. Some countries have profited from climate change while the same rise in average planetary temperatures has dragged down economic growth in the warmer countries.

      The gap between those groups of nations with the highest and lowest economic output per person is now around 25% larger than it would have been had there been no climate change.

      “Our results show that most of the poorest countries on Earth are considerably poorer than they would have been without global warming,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Stanford University in California. “At the same time the majority of rich countries are richer than they would have been.”

    • Green Groups Urge Court to Stop Trump Effort to Approve ‘Climate-Wrecking, Wildlife-Killing’ Keystone XL

      A coalition of environmental groups filed a brief Tuesday urging the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reject President Donald Trump’s latest effort to green-light TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

      “Trump’s trying to ram this dirty pipeline down America’s throat, but we’re not falling for it,” Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “He can’t just approve this climate-wrecking, wildlife-killing project however he wants and avoid the environmental reviews required by law.”

    • Just Another Spring in Progress?

      My corner of New York’s Catskill Mountains is shortly due to explode in green. Today however, it’s brown, beige, russet and auburn:– a wrapping of spindly trunks with naked branches cascading uphill draws my eyes to the horizon. I wait. My neighbors wait. Landscapers and gardeners wait. We wait to plant even a few pansies; we wait before replacing our glass doors with screening. Big Tim waits before removing his truck plow so we too keep our snow shovels handy.

      Impatiently, in search of soft loam, I strike into a plot in front of the house. Not far beneath dry white grass and pallid corn stubble, the steel of the spade meets resistance—not rock but still frozen earth not far below the surface.

      Other warnings of change are undeniable however. First there’s the smell of the air itself– not fragrant yet still inviting; new sounds floating through the atmosphere invite me to ease open a window early in the morning.

      The male merganser ducks arrive and stake out their territory along the riverbank. Small creatures lodged under bark or found other moist crevices during their metamorphosing months stir. I slap at two insects as they fly past me eager to flee the stale winter air of the house. Though they’ll soon encounter predators gathered in nearby branches.

      With snow and ice finally gone, we really don’t want more precipitation, even if it’s spring rain. Sun is enough, we feel. But it’s not up to us, is it? We should not forget the millions of living things evolved to this point and their descendants have survived this winter, awakening only if saturated by tomorrows’ downpours. Indeed rains are forecast to arrive on schedule. They’ll soften the dark loam and soak into it to loosen that ice underground.

  • Finance

    • Explosion of Interest in Worker Cooperatives Drives Economic Changes

      It’s been more than 10 years since the financial crisis of 2008, and working people are still being hammered by its effects — stagnating wages, a widening gap between the rich and the poor, and a rise in the sharing economy to meet basic needs. At the same time, one legacy of the 2008 crash has been the growth of the movement for democratic worker-ownership.

      Many have turned to the worker cooperative model as a way to build more sustainable jobs and communities, in large part because collective ownership allows for workers to equitably share the benefits in the good times and the burdens in the hard times. In the past decade, the number of worker-owned cooperatives in the United States has almost doubled from roughly 350 companies to nearly 600. This growth has primarily taken place in communities of color and immigrant communities. As a result, worker cooperatives now exist in diverse sectors across the country, including in the taxi industry, elder care, home cleaning, tech, construction and more.

      I’ve been a worker-owner with The TESA Collective, a worker co-op, since 2010. TESA, which develops board games and tools for social and economic change, has been heavily involved in advocating for the cooperative movement. Over the past decade, our work has ranged from making a board game about cooperatives and co-creating a free documentary on how to start a cooperative, to working with incarcerated people to organize cooperatives behind prison bars. In that time, we’ve seen an explosion of interest in the cooperative movement from everyday working people, and now from policy makers and business owners alike. We’ve witnessed on the ground floor the innovative ways the cooperative movement is growing, and the impact it can have on the larger economy as a whole.

    • If You Paid TurboTax but Make Under $34,000, You Could Get a Refund. Here’s How.

      We recently laid out how TurboTax uses deceptive design and misleading ads to get people to pay to file their taxes, even when they are eligible to file for free.

      But you might be able to get your money back.

      In response to our story, roughly 10 readers said they called TurboTax to complain. And, they said, TurboTax agreed to refund their money.

    • Sen. Warren Just Stepped Up On Free College For All

      Senator Elizabeth Warren just stepped up to support Free College For All. And it’s not just a pose. How do I know? Because I got to ask her myself – twice.
      I’m a freshman at the University of New Hampshire, studying sociology and studio art. Moving to the Granite State from San Diego during high school opened my eyes in a number of ways – first, we have the highest public college tuition in the country. Second, we’re the first stop in the country for presidential candidates.
      Four years ago, as a high school sophomore, I got to see plenty of campaigns and candidates up close – including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. That really activated me – and when I got to UNH, I joined the New Hampshire Youth Movement, part of Student Action and the People’s Action national network of grassroots groups.
      At NHYM, we take our opportunity to engage candidates on the issues very seriously – because we can directly ask candidates questions on behalf of young people, all across the country. And we get to do this while candidates are still forming their views, and the platforms they’re going to run on.
      That’s why it mattered to me so much to ask Senator Warren about Free College For All: I believe access to quality education is a right that should be available to every young person.
      Just after Senator Warren announced she was running for president in February, I went to her Town Hall in Dover. I got in the question line, and asked her if she would support Free College For All for every student, including the undocumented and formerly incarcerated.At that time, she acknowledged the importance of the issue, but was unsure about the position she would take.

    • Mnuchin Defies Demand to Hand Over Trump Tax Returns

      The struggle between House Democrats and the Trump administration over investigations intensified Tuesday as a former White House official defied a subpoena and the Treasury Department ignored a deadline for providing President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

      Rep. Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the White House has adopted the “untenable” position that it can ignore requests from the Democratic majority in the House.

      “It appears that the president believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight,” Cummings said in a statement.

      Cummings was specifically referring to Carl Kline, a former White House personnel security director, who was subpoenaed by Democrats.

    • Bernie Sanders Made a Lot of Money — and He Wants It Taxed

      Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) wrote some good books and made some good money from them. Now, a band of filthy rich critics and their media enablers are having a field day questioning his integrity because of his bank account. “Can He Still Speak for Working-Class Americans?” asked a recent Washington Post headline. Bloomberg News “congratulated” Sen. Sanders for his wealth before challenging him to “say something constructive” about wealthy people.

      Even well-funded Democratic party-connected outlets like ThinkProgress (which presumably should know better) have gotten into the act with quips like, “The one-percenter hopes no one notices that he’s moved up in the world.” It is difficult to find something more cynical than mainstream liberals co-opting the language of the Occupy movement to falsely denigrate a lifelong progressive activist, but that’s the world we live in now. The filthy rich and their collaborators get the joke: It’s a take-down, not an argument.

      I have three words in reply: Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

      FDR would be a billionaire if he and his money were teleported to the present, yet in his day he shepherded into existence programs that not only served working people, but saved them from the voracious maw of capitalism.

    • Bankers Won’t Lend to Developers Who Would Lower Rents

      Join Riley and Curtis in a revolving restaurant with an epic view of San Francisco. They’re meeting with the banker, Ernesto, who lends money for developments. Discover why it’s not all about supply and demand because as he says, “That’s not how the industry works.”

    • Payments to Hospitals Are Not Going to Hospital Buildings

      In keeping with accepted standards in debates on economic policy, we are now getting a debate on Medicare for All that is doing a wonderful job of ignoring the relevant issues. The focus of this debate is what Medicare for All will pay hospitals. As The New York Times tells us, if Medicare for All pays hospitals at Medicare reimbursement rates, many will go out of business.

      The reason why this is a bizarre way to frame the issue is that the payments to hospitals are not going to buildings. They are going to pay for prescription drugs (close to $100 billion a year), for medical equipment and supplies, for doctors and other health care personnel. They also pay for hospital administrators, and in the case of for-profit hospitals, some of the money goes to profits. Also, in recent years a growing chunk of the money has gone to buildings, as many hospitals have sought to attract high-end patients by making themselves more upscale than a facility that exists primarily to provide health care.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • A Trump Impeachment Has Risks, But They Are Worth Taking

      In an ideal world, the thought of impeaching Donald Trump would warrant at least three cheers, along with some somersaults and a marching band (my preference would be for a New Orleans Second Line led by Trombone Shorty). Yet in an ideal world Donald Trump would be nothing but a bad dream. Our world is far from ideal. And so we have a deeply flawed and dysfunctional political system; an angry and credulous Republican base; a corrupted Republican Party in control of the Senate and much else; and Donald Trump in the White House, in control of a vicious bully pulpit and enabled by the vast quasi-state propaganda agency that is Fox News.

      And so there are risks for the Democrats to proceed to impeachment. Political risks. For it is obvious that no House-led impeachment proceeding, however well-orchestrated and compelling, can possibly result in a Senate conviction of Trump; the consistent conduct of Senate Republicans for over two years makes this clear. There is thus a risk that an impeachment could be framed as both “overreach” and “failure,” and thus could strengthen Trump’s hand in 2020.

      The risk is real. But it is not as great as it might seem. In addition, there are risks, great risks, associated with doing nothing — as Nancy Pelosi and Stenny Hoyer would seem to prefer — or proceeding with deliberate caution combined with cautious deliberation — as Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff would seem to prefer. At the same time, there are great opportunities associated with impeachment. Thus the two cheers.

    • States Are Trying to Stop Cities From Raising Minimum Wage

      Earlier this month, the New Orleans City Council took a big first step: It unanimously approved a resolution aimed at raising the city’s minimum wage. However, the resolution will be entirely symbolic unless Louisiana’s Republican state legislature gets out of the way. Instead of raising wages, the resolution urges legislators in Baton Rouge to change state law, which has prevented local governments from setting their own minimum wage since 1997.

      Conservative state lawmakers have blocked efforts to raise the statewide minimum ever since, leaving Louisiana cities and towns stuck with the rock-bottom federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. These cities are home to some of the nation’s highest poverty rates. In 2016, more than one in four Louisiana children were living in poverty.

      “It’s kind of like being in a bad relationship,” said Rep. Joyce Duplessis, a Louisiana state legislator who is cosponsoring legislation that would allow local minimum wage hikes, during a rally in New Orleans earlier this month. “You see, the state hasn’t been willing to do right by the cities.”

      Preventing towns and cities from passing their own reforms and regulations is broadly known as “state preemption,” and it has swept across conservative legislatures nationwide in response to local campaigns for affordable housing, better labor standards and higher pay. As of 2018, 28 states prevented local governments from raising the minimum wage, and 23 states had laws preventing cities from requiring employers to provide paid sick and maternity leave, according to the National League of Cities. A few states have longstanding provisions preventing local governments from raising the wage floor beyond the state minimum, but most preemption laws grew out of debates over “local control” in the past two decades.

      Louisiana became the first state to pass a minimum wage preemption law in 1997. Similar laws have since passed in 24 other states, including Alabama, Ohio and North Carolina, which passed minimum wage preemption laws in 2016 as movements to raise wages spread, making their way to ballot initiatives and city councils. At the time, calls for raising the minimum wage to $15 were reaching a fever pitch, thanks in part to the Fight for $15 movement and Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.

      The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing group that works closely with conservative state lawmakers, has circulated model legislation to preempt local minimum wage hikes since 2002. The National League of Cities reports that Alabama’s 2016 minimum wage preemption law “bore a striking resemblance” to ALEC’s model legislation.

    • Two-and-a-Half Cheers for the Mainstream Media

      Even in its redacted form, and even without the counterintelligence investigation material that was part of its task, the Mueller Report has largely vindicated the last three years of media coverage of Donald Trump’s and his presidential campaign’s connections to Russia.

      The report doesn’t contain much material that was not previously reported, at least fragmentarily, in the mainstream press. But it compiles it in one place, adds technical information otherwise unknowable (like the type of malware used to compress and transmit the DNC files – the press obviously can’t call the National Security Agency for details on that), and it corroborates previous reporting by examining witnesses (the media plainly cannot compel testimony under oath).

      This is not to say the press did not make mistakes along the way (some of them serious), and I certainly do not mean to whitewash the deep and chronic problems of the media. The consolidation of news reporting into a relative handful of corporate-controlled entities is a real concern, as are the evisceration of newsrooms and the disappearance of overseas bureaus. Perhaps even more problematic is the lack of a stable, moneymaking business model for serious, for-profit news organizations.

      They also have fallen into the cringe-worthy habit of running the publicity stunts of entertainers and attention-seekers under the rubric of legitimate news. Breathless reportage of the musings of bogus celebrities as if they were the observations of Nobel laureates is particularly cloying. It was this juvenile tendency that impelled the media to give so much free airtime during the campaign to Trump’s evil-clown act.

    • Seen as Face of Global Far-Right Extremism, Trump State Visit to UK Spurs Call for Mass Protest

      In response to news that U.S. President Donald Trump will be welcomed for a formal state visit to the United Kingdom in June, British progressives on Tuesday vowed to take to the streets to give the man they consider a leader of the global far-right the unwelcome greeting he has earned.

      The trip will mark Trump’s first state trip to the U.K.

      “A formal state visit to Britain in June must be met with widespread opposition,” Sabby Dhalu of the U.K.-based group Stand Up to Trump said in a statement. “All those that value peace and hope for a better world for the many must take to the streets and say clearly that Donald Trump is not welcome here!”

    • For more than a month, mock graves for Putin have been popping up around Russia. We talked to an activist leader about where they came from.

      Since March 2019, members of multiple activist groups in cities around Russia have been putting mock gravestones for President Vladimir Putin in public places. The activists have said that the trend has become a kind of national protest meant to show that “Putin has died in the eyes of Russian citizens.” So far, “headstones” have been spotted in no fewer than seven Russian cities, with Yekaterinburg joining the list most recently on April 21. In two of the cities, the protest movement Agit Rossiya claimed responsibility for the mock graves. Meduza spoke with the movement’s press secretary, Grigory Kudryavtsev, who was accused of installing a headstone in St. Petersburg in early April and spent nine days in jail as a result.

    • Democrats and Progressives Grapple With How Best to Vanquish Trump: Impeach, Bold Ideas, or Both?

      Some progressives urged House Democrats to immediately launch impeachment proceedings, arguing that anything less would be an abdication of constitutional responsibility.

      But others said Democrats must instead place their emphasis on soundly defeating Trump at the ballot box by focusing on healthcare, income inequality, and the climate crisis.

      Congressional Democrats and the party’s 2020 presidential contenders have come out in favor one or the other position—or some combination of the two—in the wake of Mueller’s findings, which are the product of a sprawling two-year investigation into Trump’s White House and businesses.

      “Just about every Democrat agrees that the Donald Trump presidency has been a nightmare, and that the sooner it ends the better. How we get there is less certain,” Bhaskar Sunkara, founding editor of the socialist magazine Jacobin, wrote in a Guardian op-ed this week.

      A range of Democratic positions on the impeachment question was on full display during CNN’s town halls with five 2020 presidential candidates Monday night.

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unequivocally doubled down on her earlier call for the House to initiate impeachment proceedings and dismissed concerns about possible political backlash.

    • On Obstruction, the Mueller Report is Clintonesque

      On April 18, US Attorney William Barr released Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the probe into “Russian meddling” in the 2016 presidential election. The report cleared President Donald Trump and his campaign team of allegations that they conspired with the Russian government in that meddling. But on the question of “obstruction of justice,” Mueller punted in an eerily familiar way.

      Return with me briefly to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Specifically, July 5, 2016. As I wrote then:

      “FBI director James Comey spoke 2,341 words explaining his decision not to recommend criminal charges over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to transmit, receive and store classified information during her tenure as US Secretary of State. He could have named that tune in four words: ‘Because she’s Hillary Clinton.’ Comey left no doubt whatsoever that Clinton and her staff broke the law …”

      Mueller’s report likewise cites evidence of multiple attempts by the president to obstruct his investigation. “[T]he President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels,” he writes. “These actions ranged from efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.”

      But before the evidence, the punt: “[W]e determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued an opinion finding that ‘the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions’ in violation of ‘the constitutional separation of powers.’”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Like Clockwork After A Big Tragedy, People Rush In To Blame… Social Media

      Apparently the new reality is that following any sort of attack, people will quickly rush in to blame the internet and social media. We’ve seen it in various forms in the past, but it really took off with the Christchurch shootings last month. And, with the horrific and tragic suicide bombings in Sri Lanka last week, it didn’t take long for the same sort of thing to happen. Within hours after it happening, someone had jumped into a Twitter thread on content moderation to let me know that my views on content moderation were clearly invalid, given that the “failure” of social media companies to stop extremists in Sri Lanka was clearly to blame for the attacks. And, hours later, it was announced that the Sri Lankan government’s response to the bombings was to cut off Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp (all owned by Facebook). There was some confusion about this, with some people claiming they could still access Whatsapp, while others could not, and others saying that YouTube was also blocked.

    • Russian court fines Internet user hundreds of dollars for calling Vladimir Putin an ‘unbelievable fuckwit’

      A court in the Novgorod region’s Chudovsky District has fined a local man 30,000 rubles ($470) for violating Russia’s new law against insulting state officials on the Internet. The defendant, Yuri Kartyzhev, later uploaded a recording of the verdict being read out, where Judge Igor Ivanov says, “On March 31, 2019, at 6:45 p.m., Kartyzhev… shared on the social network VKontakte two notes with text that read ‘Putin is an unbelievable fuckwit,’ along with a graphic image of Russian President [Vladimir] Putin.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • California Assembly’s Privacy Committee Votes to Weaken Landmark Privacy Law

      The California State Assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee today capitulated to industry complaints that our privacy is inconvenient for its bottom line. It voted to advance five bills opposed by privacy advocates that would undermine the landmark California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and put companies before consumers.

      Rather than stand up for Californians and their constitutional right to privacy, this Committee and its Chairman Ed Chau would not defend the CCPA, let alone strengthen it.

    • Digital Rights Defenders Sound Alarm Over Big Tech’s Efforts to ‘Erode’ California’s Landmark Privacy Law

      “Tech companies are saying that they support privacy yet still deploy their money and pressure to silence real privacy bills,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit civil liberties group, said in a statement. “We will not let them kill strong privacy bills in the dark.”

      Last June, state legislators passed and then-Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). As Common Dreams reported at the time, some observers charged that CCPA—which replaced a bolder ballot initiative—didn’t go far enough.

      Others, however, argued that with the law, “California could be the bellwether for the privacy movement” and set a new national standard.

      Lawmakers, voters, consumer advocates, experts, and business interests all seem to agree that some amendments are needed before the law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020. However, warnings are mounting that—in the words of Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik—”big business is trying to gut California’s landmark privacy law.”

    • A Seamless Journey Awaits You On The Outbound Flights: All You Have To Give Up Is Your Face

      The DHS’s airport panopticon is rolling out slowly, but surely. And of course it’s being done with as little oversight or guidance as possible. Major international airports are already turning your face into your ID, giving travelers little option but to get their faces out if they don’t want to receive extra questioning.

      If you’re worried about adding your face to the government’s extra-large bin o’ biometrics, you’re welcome to opt out. The easiest way to avoid this is to not travel at all, which is exactly what the DHS suggests. There are other options, but by the time you know they’re available, you’ve likely already had your face scanned and matched against the DHS database by software known mostly for its failure rate.

    • Jonathan Dowland: Use the Twitter web view [Ed: The Twitter 'app' is technically #malware]

      I can open multiple windows with different tweets in them, if I want to keep a few around as reminders for something or other. I can switch between multiple tweets; or tweets, the timeline and something completely different, and not lose my views. I can follow a link from a tweet and not be bounced to a different app (or worse: an app-specific, built-in browser with none of my browser settings or sessions, a fresh round of hell clicking on the Cookie and Privacy Choices pop-ups), and clicking “Back” from such articles brings me back to where I came from.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘Should Send Chills Down the Spine of Anyone With a Conscience’: Trump Reportedly Considered Detaining Kids at Guantanamo

      The Trump administration earlier this year reportedly considered detaining migrant children at Guantánamo Bay, the 17-year-old U.S. prison in Cuba that human rights advocates have condemned as a horrific stain on American history.

      “The idea of incarcerating children at Guantánamo should send chills down the spine of anyone with a conscience,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) tweeted Tuesday. “This is what happens when our president is so racist that he sees migrant children as an ‘invasion’ and not vulnerable children to be protected.”

      The Trump administration’s proposal was first reported by the New York Times, which explained that Guantánamo “has a dormitory facility that has been used in the past to hold asylum-seekers.”

      Officials with the Department of Homeland Security “examined” the plan earlier this year, the Times reported.

    • Watchdog Says Australia’s Traffic Enforcement System Has Hits Hundreds Of Drivers With Bogus Fines

      That’s one of the possible outcomes of Fines Victoria mishandling its end of the complaint process: law enforcement showing up to seize property and auction it off to pay fines. All of this is set in motion automatically via date triggers. From the report, it appears Australian citizens can spend every day of their challenge periods on hold without ever reaching anyone who could help them with a resolution.

      Even the lucky few who manage to speak to a live person aren’t going to receive much help. The multiple failures detailed in the report received responses from Fines Victoria ranging from “not our fault” to “we’ll try not to screw so many people over in the future.”

    • Australia: Government Report Slams Erroneous Speed Camera Punishments

      At least 397 motorists in Victoria, Australia, lost their right to drive because the state government bungled the handling of speed camera fines. In a report released Wednesday, Victoria Ombudsman Deborah Glass blasted Fines Victoria, the agency responsible for overseeing the handling of citations. The report reviewed 605 complaints from members of the public about how this year-old state agency handled their situations.

      “Many complaints were about delay in the processing of nominations, completing reviews and implementing payment plans,” Glass said in a statement. “The impact of these issues should not be underestimated. People had their licenses wrongly suspended, or were treated as liable for substantial fines, when they had committed no offense.”

    • Russian court rejects lawsuit from pro-Navalny opposition activists whose social media data was given to security forces

      The Smolninsky District Court in St. Petersburg has rejected a lawsuit submitted by four supporters of the opposition politician Alexey Navalny against the social network VKontakte.

      Andrey Boyarshinov, Elvira Dmitrieva, Alexey Boyarov, and Mikhail Tikhonov, all of whom reside in the Russian republic of Tatarstan, demanded 100,000 rubles ($1,568) each in compensation for emotional distress they endured when VKontakte transferred their personal information to the region’s Center for Combating Extremism (Center E) without their permission.

    • CIA director called out for complicity in torture

      US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Gina Haspel was delivering a recruiting pitch to students at Auburn University in Alabama on Thursday where she was called out by an audience member for her participation in torture and other crimes.

      Towards the beginning of her speech, Hapsel began recalling “the thrill of being sworn in” as a CIA operative when the crowd member shouted if Haspel remembered the “thrill of the CIA black sites you tortured people in and the evidence you destroyed?”

    • CIA Director Gina Haspel Confronted over Torture During Rare Public Appearance

      And CIA Director Gina Haspel made a rare public appearance Thursday, delivering a speech to students at Auburn University in Alabama that many described as a recruiting pitch for the spy agency. A few minutes into her speech, Haspel was interrupted by a protester—just after she described the thrill she felt when she was first sworn in as a CIA officer.

    • ‘Tell Them Who You Tortured’: Gina Haspel Faces a Heckler, and Her Past

      Gina Haspel, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, made a rare public appearance on Thursday to give a nostalgia-laced recruiting pitch to students at Auburn University. But she was confronted instead by a heckler shouting about her role in torturing suspected militants in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks.

      Ms. Haspel was recounting the excitement she felt at the start of her own career when the heckling began. “Tell these young children, tell them who you tortured. You know their names — they’re still in Guantánamo Bay,” an unidentified man shouted.

      “You’re a decrepit human being,” he continued before being removed by security. “The only people you should be talking to is a prison guard in a jail cell.”

    • Is torture ever justified?

      The International Criminal Court (ICC) is investigating allegations of wrongdoing supposedly committed by American forces/personnel in Afghanistan. The allegations include war crimes and crimes against humanity dating as far back as 2003. And the investigation likely includes the possible use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

      The United States is not a party state to the Statute of Rome, which established the ICC. However, Afghanistan joined the ICC in 2003, giving the court jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the war-torn country.

      “U.S. citizens who commit crimes abroad are already subject to the jurisdiction of foreign courts,” the website of Human Rights Watch notes. “Countries that ratify the Rome Statute are simply delegating their authority to prosecute certain grave crimes committed on their territory to an international court.”

    • Guantánamo Trials Grapple With How Much Evidence to Allow About Torture

      The military tribunals originally barred public mention of what happened at C.I.A. prisons.

    • Ex-Gitmo Prisoner on ‘Black Sites’ Interrogations: Strange Nobody’s Prosecuted

      The Metropolitan police have launched an investigation into the alleged role that British intelligence officers played in the interrogation of an al-Qaeda* suspect. Sputnik spoke to ex-Guantanamo Prisoner and Director of Outreach at CAGE, Moazzam Begg, in this report.
      Sputnik: Britain’s Metropolitan police have launched an investigation into the alleged role that British intelligence officers played in the interrogation of an al-Qaeda suspect. Scotland Yard has confirmed that are examining the role of UK intelligence officials during the questioning of Abu Zubaydah at CIA so-called ‘black sites’. How significant is this and is a prosecution to be expected?

    • Police investigating role of UK officers in torture of al-Qaida suspect

      Met looking at how much MI5 and MI6 knew of mistreatment of Abu Zubaydah after 9/11.

    • Accused Bali bombing ‘mastermind’ may never face trial in US due to torture
    • Khashoggi was just one victim of many in Saudi prince’s campaign to silence dissenters

      Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman kidnapped, detained and tortured Saudi citizens for over a year before Jamal Khashoggi was killed…

    • It Wasn’t Just Khashoggi: A Saudi Prince’s Brutal Drive to Crush Dissent
    • Guantanamo express: Scottish police finish probe into CIA ‘torture flights’ & rendition stopovers

      Police in Scotland have filed their final report into a probe of CIA “rendition stopovers” during the early years of the War on Terror, looking into at least six secret flights. The report’s contents remain secret, however.
      Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, Scotland’s chief public prosecutor, ordered the probe back in 2013. His successor James Wolffe has been asked by politicians to report on the investigation’s results.

      “The previous Lord Advocate had committed to investigating this matter. The current Lord Advocate must now outline where that investigation is – and where it is going,” said Liam Kerr, a spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives.

    • US officials ‘could face prosecution’ after Scottish airport CIA ‘torture flights’ probe

      DETECTIVES investigating the use of airports by US officials in so-called rendition stopovers have now filed their final report.

    • Cops probing use of Scots airports for CIA ‘Guantanamo Express’ torture flights hand over files

      A final report into so-called rendition stopovers has been given to prosecutors more than five years after the investigation began.

    • UK spy agency under pressure to open up over support for CIA torture programme

      GCHQ’s support of the CIA post-9/11 is becoming clearer, but MEE understands plans for a new inquiry are being resisted.

    • Lawyers Slam Alleged CIA Leak of Info on 9/11 Suspect’s Torture to Filmmakers

      The Oscar-winning film Zero Dark Thirty, about the story of the years-long manhunt for the late number one terrorist, has faced harsh criticism for its highly realistic torture scenes, with torture allegedly having been used to find the location of Osama bin Laden’s hideout.

      The team of lawyers defending Ammar al-Baluchi, a suspect in the case of planning the 9/11 terror attacks in the US, is complaining that they had less access to the materials regarding the detention of their client and the torture he allegedly endured at a CIA “black site” than Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, the filmmakers of Zero Dark Thirty.

    • CIA gave details of 9/11 suspect’s secret torture to film-makers, lawyers say
    • The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange, Part 1: What’s Torture Got To Do With It?

      In the first part of a special New Matilda investigative series, clinical psychologist Dr Lissa Johnson exposes the ‘science’ behind the hunt for Julian Assange, and the tactics those in power use to keep you in the dark.

      Next month rallies will be held in Sydney and Melbourne in defence of Julian Assange. Protesters will call upon the Australian government to uphold its obligations to its citizens and secure freedom for Assange, whose health is failing is in his ninth year of UN-declared arbitrary detention.

      Assange faces extradition to the United States and secret charges for his publishing activities should he step outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. This cross-border, extraterritorial persecution threatens not only Assange’s health, and possibly his life according to a recent UN statement, but poses grave legal risks both to journalism and dissent.

    • Turns Out There Were Two Separate CIA Torture Programs

      By scouring the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report and some declassified CIA documents…

    • Guantanamo Bay prisoner sues Lithuania over CIA ‘black site’
    • Lithuania faces second suit over CIA ‘black site’
    • Amazon Picks up CIA Torture Investigation Film ‘The Report’ [Ed: The biggest contractor of the CIA has bought a film that shapes the narrative around torture]
    • ‘The Report’ Is a Riveting Journalistic Response to ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ — Sundance Review [Ed: We live in dark times when Hollywood films about CIA torture turn out to have been a CIA collaboration with the film industry (known fact about ‘Zero Dark Thirty’) and 'journalistic' analysis owned by Bezos (CIA 'agent', or contractor).]
    • As Supreme Court’s Right-Wing Justices Indicate Siding With Trump, Opponents Denounce ‘Bald-Faced Attempt to Racially Rig’ US Census

      The court’s more liberal judges and a number of critics argued that the question would result in an inaccurate count of U.S. residents, with many in immigrant communities declining to respond for fear of the Trump administration’s aggressive anti-immigration agenda.

      “This case isn’t just about a line on a form,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, after addressing the court. “It’s about whether or not everyone in America counts. The administration’s own estimate is that if you put this question on the census, 6.5 million people won’t get counted.”

    • Conservative Justices Could Settle Census Citizenship Question

      No citizenship question has been included in the U.S. census since 1950 but—as with multiple norm-breaking actions in the Trump era, such as revoking a former CIA director’s security clearance, refusal to disclose tax returns and installing close family members in positions of power—there is a good chance the Trump administration will get away with adding one.

      On Tuesday, the Supreme Court began hearing arguments in United States Department of Commerce v. New York, a case considering whether the administration should be permitted to include such a question on the 2020 census. As The New York Times’ Adam Liptak reports, “By the end of the arguments, which lasted 80 minutes instead of the usual hour, the justices seemed divided along the usual lines, suggesting that the conservative majority would allow the question.”

      In March 2018, the Department of Commerce announced that a citizenship question would be added to the 2020 census, following a request by the Justice Department. The department claimed that citizenship data would improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross “determined that obtaining complete and accurate information to meet this legitimate government purpose outweighed the limited potential adverse impacts,” according to a statement issued by the department.

    • Packing the Supreme Court

      The Supreme Court heard arguments today on the Trump administration’s decision to alter the 2020 Census to ask people if they are American citizens.

      In a former life, I argued cases before the Supreme Court. From what I gathered today, it looks as if the five Republican appointees to the Court have already decided this move by Trump is constitutional.

      But it’s not. The U.S. Constitution calls for “actual enumeration” of the total population for an explicit purpose: To count the residents – not just citizens, residents – of every state to properly allocate congressional representatives to the states based on population.

    • An Alienated Culture Grooms Women for Cults

      Maggie was born into a religious cult called the Christ Brotherhood. For the first 12 years of her life, the cult controlled her entire existence, including what she thought and knew, and how she was to behave. The precepts of Christianity and Judaism were both taught, and Christmas and Hanukkah were celebrated. Except for those holidays, however, life was a continuous struggle to get enough food to eat, and to avoid punishment for transgressions she never understood.

      The community consisted of about 150 people spread throughout the country. Maggie recalls that when the cult leader, Thomas Paterson Brown, was incarcerated for raping and sodomizing a 14-year-old girl—the daughter of a cult member—the children of the community were put into foster care. When Brown was released, his parole conditions forbade him from contact with children under 18. To avoid those restrictions, the community moved to the Canary Islands, near Spain. Maggie is still not clear how the children were released from foster care and returned to the cult.

      “My father was one of the founders, but the leader called the shots,” Maggie says. “Some of the girls were raped by the leader. While he was in prison, serving his time for having sex with underage girls, he invited some of the men he met in prison to come and join our church. One of the guys he brought home after his release molested the boys.”

    • Looming Sex Abuse Cases Put Boys Scouts in the Crosshairs

      The lawyers’ ads on the internet aggressively seeking clients to file sexual abuse lawsuits give a taste of what lies ahead this year for the Boy Scouts of America: potentially the most fateful chapter in its 109-year history.

      Sexual abuse settlements have already strained the Boy Scouts’ finances to the point where the organization is exploring “all available options,” including Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But now the financial threats have intensified.

      The reason: States have been moving in recent months to adjust their statute-of-limitations laws so that victims of long-ago sexual abuse can sue for damages. New York state has passed a law that will allow such lawsuits starting in August. A similar bill in New Jersey has reached the governor’s desk. Bills also are pending in Pennsylvania and California.

      In New York and elsewhere, lawyers are hard at work recruiting clients to sue the Boy Scouts, alleging they were molested as youths by scoutmasters or other volunteers.

      Plaintiffs’ lawyers “recognize that this is a very unique and lucrative opportunity,” said attorney Karen Bitar, who formerly handled sex-crime cases as a prosecutor in Brooklyn before going into private practice.

    • Kushner Talks of ‘Accountability’ for Crown Prince Just as Saudis Offer ‘Egregious Display of Brutality’ With Mass Beheadings

      Just as Jared Kushner answered questions about the close ties between the White House and Saudi Arabia in New York on Tuesday, the Middle Eastern kingdom beheaded 37 people in its largest mass execution in at last three years.

      The executions, of mostly Shiite men accused of terrorism related crimes, were part of what Washington’s Gulf Institute director Ali Al-Ahmed called “the largest mass execution of Shiites in the kingdom’s history.”

      Al-Ahmed identified 34 of the 37 victims as Shiite.

      According to reports, Saudi Arabian security services nailed one of the heads to a poll as a warning and one victim was crucified after his execution.

    • France Falls Behind as #MeToo Goes Global

      Yes, French women have begun to talk. Growing numbers are reporting sexual assault and sexual harassment to police, thanks in large part to the #MeToo movement. New legislation is addressing sexual harassment, and prominent campaigns are raising funds to support women’s rights groups.

      On Friday, the verdict in a high-profile case involving sexual harassment reflected the progress being made. A court dismissed a defamation case filed by Denis Baupin, the former deputy mayor of Paris. Baupin had sued six women who accused him of sexually harassing them over many years, and he had also sued two journalists who reported the harassment. In addition to dismissing the case, the court ordered Baupin to pay $1,120 (U.S. dollars) to each person he had sued.

    • Many Feet

      People’s feet have been pretty important around here lately. (No, I’m not referring to some new kind of fetish.) They’ve been used for walking, next to other people’s feet. On March 8 it was mostly (but not only) female feet – marching for women’s rights and against about 20 % less wages than male wages, plus many other kinds of discrimination. A big majority were young of age.

      For months now many even younger feet have been involved, all playing hookey! Every Friday afternoon thousands of kids have been walking out of their school rooms and demonstrating, with countless hard-hitting and witty posters and banners. The movement is called “Fridays for Future” and the main demands are an end to the use of fossil fuels – and that politicians move far, far faster with tough laws and measures against worsening damage to the world the kids want to inherit. On one Friday 25,000 took part in Berlin alone, more than 300,000 in 220 cities all over Germany and 2 million in 123 different countries. It all started last summer in Sweden with a little baby-faced and very talented speaker, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Supreme Court of the UK grants Huawei’s petition to appeal lower court’s claim to global FRAND jurisdiction in Unwired Planet case

      Generally, the UK enjoys an excellent reputation as a jurisdiction for patent infringement and validity cases. But no UK patent ruling has ever been even remotely as controversial as Justice Colin Birss’s 2017 holding in Unwired Planet v. Huawei that an injunction should issue against an implementer of a standard-essential patent (SEP) who declines to take a global portfolio license from a patent holder (in this case, a privateer asserting mostly former Ericsson patents). Justice Birss’s fundamentally flawed thinking was that only because SEP holders and SEP implementers in practice typically agree on worldwide portfolio licenses, Huawei was an unwilling licensee because it refused to take a worldwide portfolio license in order to avert a UK injunction over a single SEP deemed valid and infringed–never mind that Huawei generates only a tiny percentage of its global sales (maybe 1% or so) in the UK.

      There’s nothing wrong with companies agreeing on all sorts of things voluntarily. The problem here is that Justice Birss’s approach would effectively force companies (unless they can just forego UK revenues for some time) to let a UK court set a global FRAND rate (in order to determine whether a company is or is not a willing licensee). Under that line of reasoning, UK courts would assume jurisdiction over, U.S., German or even Vietnamese patents, without being equipped to actually assess whether the courts in those jurisdictions would, under applicable national law, deem a given patent valid and infringed (or what they would consider a FRAND royalty under their antitrust or contract laws).

      While the name of the England & Wales High Court (EWHC) suggests otherwise, it’s actually the lowest court for UK patent cases. But, shockingly, the Court of Appeal of England & Wales upheld Justice Birss’s global FRAND determination in October 2018.

      Huawei filed a petition to appeal with the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Such a PTA is the same in the UK as a petition for writ of certiorari (colloquially, “cert petition”) filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s not a given that the highest court of the land will take a look at a case.

      [...]

      About a week before the Supreme Court of the UK made this decision, a former judge of the UK Court of Appeal who has meanwhile been appointed to the UK Supreme Court, Lord Kitchin, defended the decisions of the two lower courts at a Munich conference (where Judge James L. Robart of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington noted that U.S. courts simply don’t rule on foreign patents, citing one case in which a U.S. district court declined to do so even though both parties asked for a determination involving a foreign patent.

      Lord Kitchin is not among the three Supreme Court judges hearing the case now. Chances are, however, that the “evangelism” he conducted at the Munich conference may also take place in London, in whatever shape or form.

      The Supreme Court will likely hold a hearing in the fourth quarter.

      I’m going to follow the Supreme Court proceedings closely and will also try to attend the hearing. This is about an extremely important FRAND-related issue. I hope the UK, as a patent jurisdiction, will regain everyone’s total respect when all is said and done in this context.

    • A Response to “Is there Any Need to Resort to a § 101 Exception for Prior Art Ideas?” by Prof. Joshua Sarnoff

      Mr. Doerre would be absolutely correct that we do not need to use Section 101 if Section 103 could do the job (of excluding uncreative applications of ineligible discoveries in the three categories of excluded subject matter – which are judicial interpretations of the meaning of “invention or discovery” and are not “judicial exceptions” to Section 101 subject matter). But Section 103 cannot do that job as current written, even though both provisions derived from the same statutory section under the pre-1952 Act. And that is because such ineligible discoveries are not among the categories of Section 102 prior art as applied to an applicant who is also the discoverer of that ineligible subject matter.

      As I have written before (see https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1757272 and the briefs for amici law professors that I filed in Bilski, Mayo, and Myriad), the ineligible subject matter is often discovered by the applicant himself or herself, and thus does not qualify as Section 102 prior art for Section 103 obviousness analysis. If it did, then 103 in fact would be able to do the job, although given the tremendous uncertainty over what qualifies as a non-obvious advance under Section 103 we would still have roughly the same amount of uncertainty in the law. Further, no person who objects to using Section 101 to exclude categorically ineligible discoveries claimed as practical applications thereof would be the happier if we were to amend Section 102 to permit Section 103 to do the job now being performed (and only capable of being performed) by Section 101. This is because then we would just use obviousness law to have to make the difficult decisions as to whether the claim as a whole represents a non-obvious advance over the ineligible discovery while treating the discovery as prior art against the applicant. And as just noted, we don’t have a clear theory of how much creativity constitutes a non-obvious advance. Although the amicus brief I filed for law and economics professors in KSR sought to have the Court explicitly adopt a time and money threshold of ordinary creativity so as to create that clear theory, predictably the Supreme Court declined the invitation to make the law clearer (while still correcting the errors of analysis of the Federal Circuit in assessing what constitutes an “obvious” advance over the prior art of record).

      [...]

      In summary, Mr. Doerre is simply wrong that Section 103 can do the job as currently written. But if it could, he would be no happier with the state of the law, so long as inventive application remained the law for what constitutes an eligible (or a patentable) “invention,” and all without regard to “preemption.” Should legislation move forward to eliminate the requirement for inventive application, we will have to learn if it in fact is a requirement of constitutional stature in granting authority to “inventors for their discoveries” (or is simply like the dicta in Graham v. John Deere, 386 U.S. 1, 6 (1966), that Congress may not remove inventions that have entered the public domain by granting patents on them – which the Supreme Court subsequently rejected in the copyright context as a constitutional limitation on legislative power in Golan v. Holder, 565 U.S. 302, 323-24 (2012) (quoting Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186, 202 n.7 (2003)). But first, Congress would have to enact such legislation, and there are good reasons not to eliminate the inventive application requirement wholly without regard to the politics of which industries’ oxen will be gored thereby. And let’s hope that if Congress does go there, that Congress is careful not to thereby permit aesthetic creativity to provide the “practical application” that thereby authorizes the grant of a utility patent as novel and nonobvious subject matter (whenever the aesthetic contribution to the claimed invention functionally interacts with the substrate that forms the remainder of the “claim as a whole,” so that the printed matter doctrine will not apply and thus the aesthetic creativity will thereby prevent a finding of non-obviousness, so we will end up with a design patent on steroids issued as a utility patent).

    • How Smart is your Cleaning Robot?

      Back in 2017 iRobot (maker of the Roomba) complained to the USITC about infringing autonomous vacuums being imported into the US. The patentee won on some grounds, but lost on others.

      This appeal focuses on iRobot’s U.S. Patent 9,486,924 which allows for scheduling of the cleaning via mobile phone. After conducting its investigation, the ITC found no infringement. A divided appellate panel has affirmed.

      [...]

      On appeal, the Federal Circuit rejected that approach and instead held that “instructions” must be computer executable code. The patent here does not define “instructions” one way or the other and so perhaps this is an OK conclusion albeit somewhat narrow. The court notes that the claims at issue here are considerably narrower than those found in a parent application — those original claims did not include the “instruction” limitation. One problem not addressed here

      [...]

      At its core, the dispute between the majority and dissent is about the intelligence of the “cleaning robot.” If the device is an AI-enabled robot then Bryson’s opinion makes lots of sense because the device will be able to understand lots of commands. On the other hand, a lower-level electronic device may need more technical instructions in order to guide its progress.

    • All challenged claims for Vilox Techs patent held unpatentable; Motion to Amend denied

      On April 18, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. Vilox Technologies, LLC, IPR2018-00044 holding as unpatentable all challenged claims of U.S. Patent 7,302,423 owned by Vilox Technologies, LLC (an NPE). The ’423 patent, was directed to a “search-on-the-fly” system and had previously been asserted against dozens of retail companies such as Orbitz, Expedia, Priceline, Neiman Marcus, Buy.com, Costco and Walmart, among others.

    • How Does Patent Eligibility Affect Investment? [Ed: Michael Risch propping up Koch-funded trash (lies about patents – i.e. the usual from the Kochs)]

      David Taylor (SMU) was interested in how patent eligibility decisions at the Supreme Court affected venture investment decisions, so he thought he would ask. He put together an ambitious survey of 14,000 investors at 3000 firms, and obtained some grant money to provide incentives. As a result, he got responses from 475 people at 422 firms. The response rate by individual is really low, but by firm it’s 12% – not too bad. He performs some analysis of non-responders, and while there’s a bit of an oversample on IT and on early funding, it appears to be somewhat representative.

    • Trademarks

      • Corporate restructuring may strengthen cannabis marks

        Cannabis-related businesses are thriving in states where the substance is legal. But the drug’s classification under Schedule I on the FDA’s list makes federal trademark registrations impossible, according to the USPTO.

    • Copyrights

      • Another Week, Another Hollywood Company Files A Takedown Against TorrentFreak

        The news site TorrentFreak tends to get more false DMCA copyright notices than other sites, in part because of its name. It seems that people who don’t bother investigating anything jump to the wrong conclusion that because it has “Torrent” in its name, it must be a “piracy” site, rather than a news site that reports on news about copyright and filesharing. So last week, TorrentFreak got some attention after Starz not only sent a bogus DMCA takedown over a TorrentFreak news article about leaked TV shows, but then started DMCAing anyone who even tweeted that Starz was abusing the DMCA this way. Starz eventually admitted it had made a mistake and issued a pretty lame apology.

        You might think that others in Hollywood would at least pay a little attention to this sort of thing — but apparently not. This weekend TorrentFreak reported that yet another tweet of yet another of its stories was removed due to a copyright claim — this time from Warner Bros. Just like last time, where Starz utilized an awful third party service (The Social Element) to handle these takedowns, this time Warner Bros employed a company called Marketly, one of a few such companies who claim they’re in the “brand protection” business and go around issuing often dubious takedowns.

      • Emilio Estevez Uses Some Public Domain Footage In Film, So Universal Studios Forces Original Public Domain Footage Offline

        Yet another example of the awfulness of copyright filters. Back in 2006, librarian Michael Sauers posted a public domain film (a US government production) called “Your Life Work: The Librarian” to YouTube. If you don’t know, “Your Life Work” was a series of educational shorts that, according to the Internet Archive, were “meant to inspire young post-depression workers into specific new careers.” One of those careers? Librarian.

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