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04.27.19

The ‘Technical Effect’ of Attacking the Independence of Judges at the Boards of Appeal and Ignoring/Breaking the Law

Posted in America, Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 8:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Technically Boards of Appeal are still controlled by the EPO’s President (whose positions they’re supposed to scrutinise and sometimes oppose)

António Campinos fair trial

Summary: Europe continues to be threatened by the lawless EPO, which is promoting software patents, FRAND patent trolls, UPC and even more toxic things; judges and the rule of law do not seem to matter anymore (they’re being intentionally discarded because they stand in the way of law firms’ profits and EPO revenue)

Lawlessness is alive and well — even thriving — at the European Patent Office (EPO). How can one expect António Campinos to respect and obey the law when he cannot even discipline/educate/convince his own son that laws are to be obeyed? He himself is showing blatant exhibition of gross nepotism within just months at the Office and likely violations of EU law since his EUIPO days where appointments appear to be sold. It’s all rigged. Laws don’t seem to matter to these people. Campinos ignores the law with more tact (or more smiles). He’s a storyteller. All he can do is lean on his father's name — a person who was apparently not likable except by those at the top. It’s a good decoy. Effective marketing.

“Campinos ignores the law with more tact (or more smiles).”This latest comment at IP Kat discusses how the EPO is still breaking the law or violating the EPC by punishing all judges with an exile to Haar (which is technically not Munich at all):

Yes, I understand that “Landkreis München” does not itself include the city of Munich. Perhaps my question was unclear. What I mean is: why can the meaning of the word “Munich” in the EPC not simply be interpreted to mean “a location which is EITHER in the city of Munich OR in Landkreis München”? i.e. that “Munich”, for the purposes of the EPC, means the combination of the city Munich *and* the Landkreis which shares its name? This way, it is possible to interpret “Munich” for the purposes of the EPC as being broader than the city itself, while still having a well-defined geographical scope.

To draw a comparison (which is, admittedly, imperfect): imagine that the EPC instead said “London”. A narrow interpretation might be that this should mean “the City of London”. A broader interpretation might be that this should mean “anywhere within the 32 London Boroughs” – but (like Landkreis München vis-a-vis the city of Munich) the London Boroughs do not include the City of London. The holistic view would, perhaps, instead be to take the view that “London” means “the City of London or any of the 32 London Boroughs”.

Curiously enough, on the same day Samuel Adams wrote about the EPO illegally attacking the independence of all judges by sending them to exile. To quote Kluwer Patent Blog, a site of patent maximalists:

Not too long ago we learned of a referral question from Technical Board of Appeal 3.5.03 regarding the legal basis for holding oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal in Haar rather than in Munich.

While it does not directly relate to the legal question in the referral, a relevant consideration was recently published in CA/5/19, which relates to an additional lease for further staff, conference rooms and common areas for the EPO in Haar. The document notes that the building in Haar has been leased for a period of 15 years. In CA/82/16, the total budgetary impact of the lease in Haar, including building adaptation costs, was provided as EUR 40.7 million. The further costs laid out in CA/5/19 for an additional lease contract are EUR 4.8 million, for a total of EUR 45.5 million.

The above was filed under “Traveling Circus” (no kidding!), so we suppose that at this point even Kluwer Patent Blog perceives the EPO to be somewhat of a circus. What a tragedy.

Crossing over to IP Kat, which is still heavily occupied by Team UPC (sometimes more so than Kluwer Patent Blog), over the past few days we saw a lot of coverage there about Fordham IP (at least 7 parts so far). Bristows did many posts about it for IP Kat (Annsley Merelle Ward as the author); it’s an event that is typically funded by Microsoft (more so than anyone else) and Bristows flatters this sponsor, as we noted in past years.

Included in this event, as usual, is the software patents lobby (in which Microsoft plays a considerable role), soon to be promoted or amplified by patent extremists like Bristows or Managing IP, which wrote: “Former Federal Circuit chief judge Paul Michel “bet on both horses”, referring to possible fixes for Section 101 in court and in Congress, during a discussion yesterday at the Fordham IP Conference in New York…”

This is also mentioned in [1, 2] and it’s the typical choir of patent maximalists, the ‘usual suspects’ such as Iancu, Michel and sometimes a USPTO Director turned lobbyist, Mr. Kappos.

In her later parts Annsley Merelle Ward published FRAND advocacy by Richard Vary (Bird & Bird). Bristows has long lobbied for FRAND, usually in IP Kat, as Bristows profits from this agenda. As recently as yesterday, in an article by Amy Sandys of JUVE, we learn of “global licensing company” TQ Delta (euphemism for patent troll or PAE) seeking patent embargoes in the UK. Using patents granted by EPO and the FRAND agenda they try to block companies that actually make something (unlike TQ Delta) from doing business.

Speaking of Bird & Bird and Briwstows, the latest part in this series concerns software patents (covering algorithms) framed as “AI”. Here’s where the EPO stands on on this issue in spite of European law:

Katherine Stephens (Bird & Bird) then talked about the “patentability of artificial intelligence and machine learning”, specifically focusing on the recently updated EPO Guidelines for Examination. According to Katherine, the EPO’s new Guidelines are not a green light for patenting AI, but they are a first step in setting out the rules for a proper balancing exercise. An interesting issue raised in her presentation was whether inventive step and sufficiency thresholds can be expected to change with the rise of AI, assuming that the skilled person should be presumed to have access to AI systems. “Will inventive step be raised so high that nothing will be considered inventive in the eyes of the law, even if it was inventive or surprising to human?”

These are all bogus patents on algorithms, but nowadays the EPO just fakes ‘gains’ by granting patents courts would reject (if they were assessed there, i.e. if there was a lawsuit and a lengthy, expensive challenge to it). Team UPC (Bird & Bird, Bristows etc.) was hoping to effectively abolish or bypass such courts using the UPC, but it didn’t work. As FFII’s Benjamin Henrion put it yesterday in a press release: [via]

Today is World Intellectual Parasites Day, the day where patent trolls rejoice over sucking more blood out of software companies. Patent parasites rejoice over the creation of the european Unitary Patent Court (UPC), which will create an undemocratic monster fully captured by the parasite industry. Patent parasites are also pushing for a rewrite of the laws in the United States, in order to restore software patents, and continue to suck more blood out the software industry.

That’s a satirical slant on World Intellectual Property [sic] Day — a subject we’d rather not covered as we did so in prior years. The EPO kept promoting this propaganda many times yesterday, even retweeting the EUIPO in the process.

Links 27/4/2019: Wine 4.7, Parrot 4.6, Fedora 30 Out in 3 Days

Posted in News Roundup at 6:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • How You Can Help Localize Kubernetes Docs

      Last year we optimized the Kubernetes website for hosting multilingual content. Contributors responded by adding multiple new localizations: as of April 2019, Kubernetes docs are partially available in nine different languages, with six added in 2019 alone. You can see a list of available languages in the language selector at the top of each page.

    • Deploying Docker Containers on Arm Hardware Just Got Easier

      Docker and Arm have announced a partnership that will allow containerized applications for Arm to the developed on x86 hardware.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Snapshot Sanity | TechSNAP 402

      Why Linux doesn’t just work on all hardware, criticism of your field, and the ethics of acquiring old software.

      Plus venturing outside, and how we install unusual applications.

  • Kernel Space

    • EXT4 Case-Insensitive Directories/File-Name Lookups Coming With Linux 5.2

      The Linux 5.2 kernel will allow the EXT4 file-system on a per-directory basis to selectively support case-insensitive files/folders.

      These patches by Collabora developer Gabriel Krisman Bertazi have long been in development for supporting case-insensitive filenames and UTF-8 encoding support. It seems now the design and implementation are in good enough standing as EXT4 maintainer Ted Ts’o has queued the patches into his tree.

    • Linux 5.2 Kernel To Introduce A Generic Counter Interface

      Queued now into staging for introduction with the upcoming Linux 5.2 kernel cycle is a Generic Counter Interface to allow counter devices/drivers to re-use this common code rather than having to implement redundant code into each of these drivers.

      The scope of a counter device in this context simply comes down to: “a counter is defined as a device that reports one or more “counts” based on the state changes of one or more “signals” as evaluated by a defined “count function.””

      The Generic Counter Interface provides some common infrastructure and a set of standardized sysfs interfaces for reading and interacting with such devices.

    • Linux Foundation

      • ETSI and the Linux Foundation Sign Memorandum of Understanding Enabling Industry Standards and Open Source Collaboration

        Today, the Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through sustainable open source, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ETSI, the independent organization providing global standards for Information and Community Technology (ICT) services across all sectors of industry, to bring open source and standards closer and foster synergies between them.

        Building on the existing working relationship between the two organizations, the formal collaboration agreement will enable faster information-sharing and deployment of open networking technologies across the industry. The formal link between communities of experts will encourage and enable collaborative activities, joint communication, promotion and events, as well as potential common initiatives related to interoperability and conformance testing.

        “It’s encouraging to see how far the industry has come in such a short time,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge, and IoT, the Linux Foundation. “This agreement with ETSI signals it’s possible to reach a harmonization of collaborative activities across open source and standards for the networking industry. Working together results in less fragmentation, faster deployments, and more streamlined innovation.”

        “We are eager to deepen our work with the open source communities at the Linux Foundation,” said Luis Jorge Romero, director-general, ETSI. “Open Source has been part of our working methods and our technical groups, Open Source MANO being an example, for several years now. Further collaboration provides the standards community with a quick feedback loop on how our specifications are being implemented.”

      • Linux Foundation Welcomes 43 New Members to Increase Open Source Commitment

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced on Thursday the addition of 38 Silver members and five Associate members. Linux Foundation reported that the members help support the development of shared open source technology, while accelerating their own innovation through open source leadership.

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMD’s FreeSync Linux Code Continues To Be Improved Upon For Low Frame-Rate Scenarios

        Since the FreeSync AMDGPU kernel driver support was introduced earlier this year in the Linux 5.0 kernel, it’s continued to be improved upon and another round of updated patches were posted today aiming to help the variable rate refresh behavior in low frame-rate scenarios.

        AMDGPU FreeSync has been in good shape with Linux 5.0~5.1 from our testing thus far while independent developer Mario Kleiner has been working on contributing various improvements to this code. Mario got a VRR stuttering fix back into the Linux 5.0 kernel. For the upcoming Linux 5.2 kernel cycle he also worked out a few more FreeSync fixes/improvements.

      • Fedora Looking At Using VESA-Based FBDEV Driver, Knocking Off Old VESA & OpenChrome

        Red Hat’s lead X.Org developer Adam Jackson is looking at reworking the VESA display code path for Fedora moving forward. The plan would entail removing some old “sketchy code” from the X.Org Server and moving to UVESAFB as the VESA-based FBDEV driver but would mean dropping support for the OpenChrome driver among other changes.

    • Benchmarks

      • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Linux Gaming Performance & Benchmarks

        This week NVIDIA introduced the $149 USD Turing-powered GTX 1650 graphics card. On launch day I picked up the ASUS GeForce GTX 1650 4GB Dual-Fan Edition (Dual-GTX1650-O4G) graphics card for Linux testing and have out now the initial GTX 1650 Linux performance benchmarks under Ubuntu compared to an assortment of lower-end and older AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards.

        For $149+ USD, the GeForce GTX 1650 features 896 CUDA cores, 1485MHz base clock with 1665MHz boost clock, 4GB of GDDR5 video memory, Volta-based NVENC video capabilities (not the newer Turing NVENC, but still good enough especially compared to older generations of NVIDIA GPUs), and has just a 75 Watt TDP meaning no external PCI Express power connector is required.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Bringing KContacts and KCalCore to KDE Frameworks

        Both KContacts and KCalCore actually used to be part of the KDE Frameworks predecessors since the KDE 2 and KDE 4 era respectively (kdelibs and kdepimlibs). However during the KF5 era they initially ended up in the KDE Application release, mainly due to dependencies on legacy code like the old KDateTime classes from KDELibs4Support.

        With the legacy dependencies removed since the 2017 Randa sprint, it’s finally time to get those libraries back to that level with all the KDE Frameworks guarantees on API and ABI stability. This is particularly useful for components that aren’t part of the KDE Application release cycle currently, such as Zanshin or Calindori. Following the KDE Frameworks policies makes libraries much easier to consume, while the monthly release cycle enables us to get improvements deployed quickly and continuously to our users.

        To make the transition as smooth as possible for distributions, the plan is to follow the same approach that was already used previously when moving KHolidays and Syndication to KDE Frameworks. That is have one final release with KDE Application that already uses the same naming and ABI as the final framework, and then start doing KDE Framework releases, so we have a drop-in replacement for the last KDE Application release. Distributions can then transition to the framework release whenever it’s convenient for them and without impact on the depending applications.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Tobias Bernard: Naming Your App

        So you’ve decided to make a new app for GNOME, and designed a great interface for it. Now you want to start building it, so you open Gitlab to create a new repository. But then, oh no — it wants a name for the repository. Existential dread sets in.

      • Librem 5 App Design Tutorial – Part I

        It’s always good to familiarize yourself with the design philosophy of a platform before starting to actually design in it. The GNOME Human Interface Guidelines explains this philosophy quite well in the “design principles” page, which you may want to read in its entirety; meanwhile, here are some of its most important points:

        Simplicity and focus Make sure your goals (for the app) are clear from the outset, and focus on those. It’s better to make a separate application to cover an additional use case than cramming too many things into one app (e.g., video podcasts are different enough from audio podcasts to be better off as an app of their own).
        Search and undo If there are large amounts of content in your app, provide full-text search so things are easy to find. People are likely to make mistakes: make data hard to lose, and never use a warning when you mean undo.
        Avoiding preferences Adding an extra option may seem like a good, quick fix, but in most cases it is treating the symptoms rather than the cause. Try to figure out what that cause is instead, fix the problem for everyone; I highly recommend this article by Havoc Pennington on the topic.

      • GNOME 3.33.1 Kicks Off The New Development Cycle Leading Up To GNOME 3.34

        It’s been just one month since GNOME 3.32 shipped as the latest and greatest work going into the GNOME desktop environment. Premiering today is GNOME 3.33.1 as the first development snapshot in the road to the release of GNOME 3.34 this September.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Feren OS: An Almost Flawless Linux Computing Platform

        Feren OS is a nearly flawless Linux computing platform. This distro is practically maintenance free. The developers have taken the best parts of several innovative Linux distros and seamlessly integrated them into an ideal computing platform.

        Feren OS is attractively designed and has just enough desktop animation to make using it a tad bit more interesting.

        Other than the missing games category in the main menu, this latest snapshot is a bit skimpy on including a better collection of applications. That is not a bad thing in terms of sensitivity to software bloat, but the developers should at least provide automated tools to download software bundles similar to what was included in previous releases.

        Still, Feren OS is a nice alternative to Linux Mint, which has gotten sluggish and slow since the version 19.1 release. Feren OS is an easy stepping stone to transition to Linux from Microsoft Windows and macOS. It is also a satisfying change for more experienced Linux users.

    • New Releases

      • Parrot 4.6

        We are proud to announce the release of Parrot 4.6, after 3 months of heavy development. This has been an especially big three months for us as Parrot 4.6 is also our first release completely served by our network without SaaS services like cloudflare. Everything is on our infrastructure.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • New KDE Frameworks, Python Setuptools, Emacs Update in Tumbleweed Snapshots

        The more recent Tumbleweed snapshot 20190423, provided new cups-filters 1.22.5 that changed a Ghostscript call so that fixes the page count so that it works with Ghostscript 9.27 and later. AV1 decoder package dav1d 0.2.2 brings a speed increase between four and six percent for Multi Slot Amplitude Coding (MSAC) decoding with SSE. The kernel-firmware package was updated to 20190409 and updated the firmware file for Intel Bluetooth and Marvell firmware images. Indonesian translations were made to the libstorage-ng 4.1.112 package. Ruby 2.6.3 updated the Unicode version to 12.1 beta to adds support for New Japanese Era “令和” (Reiwa). Other packages updated in the snapshot were perl-DateTime 1.51 and perl-DateTime-TimeZone 2.35, python-parso 0.4.0, python-qt5 5.12.1 and rdma-core 23.0. This snapshot is currently trending at a 89 rating, according to the Tumbleweed snapshot reviewer.

      • Trusted, open innovation that matters for SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems
    • Fedora

      • Fedora 30 Final is GO

        The Fedora 30 Final RC1.2 compose [1] is GO and will to be shipped live on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. For more information please check the Go/No-Go meeting minutes [2] or logs [3]. Thank you to everyone who has worked on this release and getting it out on time.

      • Fedora 30 Cleared For Release Next Tuesday

        While yesterday it was a “No-Go” for releasing Fedora 30, the developers and testers did a stellar job over the past twenty-four hours and got Fedora into shape for releasing on-time next week Tuesday.

        The blocker bugs have been resolved and the state of Fedora 30 is looking good: at today’s status meeting they declared Fedora 30 a “GO” for releasing on Tuesday, 30 April.

      • Fedora Community Blog: FPgM report: 2019-17
    • Debian Family

      • New Debian leader says decision-making an area that could be improved

        The new leader of the Debian GNU/Linux project says one thing that is holding back the project is the length of time it takes to take decisions, with developers often getting frustrated with the tools and processes that are used.
        “Debian is great for experimenting with lots of ways of doing things. We aren’t always great at consolidating on the solution that ended up working best when we’re done with those experiments,” Sam Hartman, who was elected as leader for a one-year term on 20 April, told iTWire during an interview.

        Hartman, who was born blind, has been with the project for nearly 20 years, and credits his wife with having given him the necessary motivation to run for the post of leader. “Her encouragement to go do what I believe in and run for DPL gave me the final confirmation that this investment in Debian was worth it for me,” he said.

      • Jonathan Dowland: mutt year zero

        For better or worse I’m a heavy email user, not least because so much of the traditional workflows in Debian are email based. I use a variety of email clients but my swiss-army knife is mutt, and has been since at least 2005, which is the earliest-dated comment in my mutt configuration files.

        I’ve always used the mutt package as provided by Debian, which means in practice I have been actually been using neomutt since around 2016, when the Debian maintainers imported that patch-set into the mutt package. neomutt is an independent effort to coordinate development of mutt (or on top of mutt) as the upstream maintainer(s) were (for a time) largely dormant. It’s meant to be a friendly project, in some cases incubating patches that people are still trying to submit to the upstream project.

        Fast forward to 2017 and an upstream mutt maintainer complained that Debian is providing something called “mutt” that is actually “neomutt” and started making pseudo-legal threats. This could have been resolved in a number of ways (my proposal and plea are recorded in that bug), but the decision of the package maintainers was to switch the mutt package back to the mutt source and provide neomutt as a separate Debian package.

      • Introduction to the new DPL, ask him anything!

        We have a new DPL! On 21 April 2019 Sam Hartman started his term as Debian Project Leader.

        Join us on the #debian-meeting channel on the OFTC IRC network on 10 May 2019 at 10:00 UTC for an introduction to our new DPL, and also to have the chance to ask him any questions that you may have.

        Your IRC nick needs to be registered in order to join the channel. Refer to the Register your account section on the oftc website for more information on how to register your nick.

      • Jonas Meurer: debian lts report 2019.04

        After a longer break (~two years) I again took part in the funded Debian LTS project in April 2019.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Privacy Tips and Tricks for Ubuntu 19.04

            To accompany the WTDAI article, I write this one to sum up 12 things related to user’s privacy on Ubuntu 19.04. You will find here tips for internet privacy, like DNSCrypt and Enigmail, and tips for system privacy, like Screen Lock and Password Management. You will also find my recommendations for network services, like Invidious to replace YouTube, and more. I tried to make them short and easy for you. I hope this list useful and practical for everybody new in both Ubuntu and privacy things. Last but not least, privacy is a very broad field and I left more readings in the end for you to learn more.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo Has Been Released (Download Links)

            Canonical announced the latest version of Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo, along with other flavors. This version features ships with the latest GNOME desktop 3.32, Linux kernel 5.0, OpenJDK 11 is the default JRE/JDK, boost 1.67, rustc 1.31, and updated GCC 8.3, optional GCC 9, Python 3.7.3 as default, ruby 2.5.5, php 7.2.15, perl 5.28.1, golang 1.10.4: “Codenamed ‘Disco Dingo’, 19.04 continues Ubuntu’s proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. The team has been hard at work through this cycle, introducing new features and fixing bugs. The Ubuntu kernel has been updated to the 5.0 based Linux kernel, our default toolchain has moved to gcc 8.3 with glibc 2.29, and we’ve also updated to openssl 1.1.1b and gnutls 3.6.5 with TLS1.3 support. Ubuntu Desktop 19.04 introduces GNOME 3.32 with increased performance, smoother startup animations, quicker icon load times and reduced CPU+GPU load. Fractional scaling for HiDPI screens is now available in Xorg and Wayland. Ubuntu Server 19.04 integrates recent innovations from key open infrastructure projects like OpenStack Stein, Kubernetes, and Ceph with advanced life-cycle management for multi-cloud and on-prem operations, from bare metal, VMware and OpenStack to every major public cloud…” You can checkout complete release announcement and release notes.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • This Week Twitter Taught Me about Preferences, Pop OS & Raspberry Pi Penguins

              You probably have valid reasons, such as: you’re sane; introverted; privacy conscious; allergic to the toxic cloud of outrage, Trump tweets and automated bot militias that dominates the bite-sized micro-blogging landscape…

              So cue this, a (likely one-shot) series where I share a few of the things I learned through Twitter this week so that you don’t miss out on the banality.

              Is this effort me sloshing a glass half-full of irony in the air, or a shallow attempt at producing some low-effort content? Whichever it is: unroll the embeds, WordPress…

              [...]

              I may personally be somewhat unconvinced by the necessity of System76’s Ubuntu fork — guy doesn’t find use for distro: hardly a shocking option — but a febrile flock of fans over on the bird site flooded my notification stream to try and convince me otherwise anyway.

              A flurry of responses quickly fluff in from fans of both Pop OS and System76 whose feathered had be ruffled.

              [...]

              Don’t forget (as this is an Ubuntu centric site, not a hardware vendor one) I am viewing Pop OS as its own, distinct thing; an Ubuntu competitor, if you will.

              I’m sure Pop OS does run “exceptionally” on the laptops System76 flog — it’d be weird if it didn’t, right? But that’s not what I was commenting on.

              Or to put it another way: I simply don’t get Pop OS.

              And I mean that in the same way that I don’t get Snapchat or country music or crocs, either. They all exist, they are all popular, and folks get a lot of enjoyment from them. But for me it’s a case of blank stares and 💅 emoji.

              There were a bunch of more civil and (as a result) more persuasive comments delivered in the comments section to my Pop OS news post. If you, like me, don’t quite get what makes the distro worth denigrating me for, do check them out.

              If, after all this, anyone is still upset that I don’t use Pop OS all I can say is…

            • Linux Mint Cinnamon vs MATE

              Linux Mint is definitely one of the most popular Linux distros out there. Because it’s Ubuntu-based, it offers support from one of the largest Linux communities while being simple and elegant for everyone: newbie to veteran, home users to system admins. With Linux Mint, there are 3 options you can choose in terms of the desktop environment: Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce. Cinnamon is the original flavor of Linux Mint whereas MATE is a desktop environment with legacy. These 2 are the most popular choice as the desktop environment of Linux Mint.It doesn’t matter whatever desktop environment you’re using, it’s always easy to shift to a new desktop environment. In the case of Cinnamon desktop, it’s easy to set Cinnamon desktop right now. Learn how to install Cinnamon desktop on Linux Mint.
              If you’re confused which one to go, I hope this article will help you understand the difference between the 2 desktop environments and let you choose the best one for you.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Kodi 18.2 “Leila” Is Now Available For Ubuntu/Linux Mint

    Kodi project recently announced the latest version Kodi 18.2 ‘Leila’. If you don’t know what Kodi is then let us tell you some words about this media center. It is an open-source, free and cross-platform multimedia center, it is considered an ideal solution for home theater and can be used in various situations.
    Kodi has wide support for audio and video formats. Another interesting feature is it allows you to do network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available. You can play CDs and DVDs from the disc or image file, also supports almost all popular archive formats from your hard drive, and even files inside ZIP and RAR archives.

  • 7 advantages of open source for agile teams

    There’s no question that open source software is vital to enterprises today. But in particular, agile and DevOps teams rely on open source. In fact, it’s hard to imagine how you could have one without the other, says Chris Short, principal product manager for Red Hat Ansible and publisher of the DevOps’ish newsletter.

    “Open source software and the processes and tooling around it are what necessitated the birth of agile and DevOps,” Short explains. “Having the ability to edit and share code in real time with the rest of the world (or only your internal teams) can be a significant productivity boost. The folks working in these spaces are force multipliers in the right conditions. They focus on the tasks that solve the next series of problems the organization will face.

  • Events

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

      Yesterday we hosted a webinar with Dan Tofan, author of the recent Pluralsight course Boost Data Science Productivity with PyCharm. Dan gave a tour of how data scientists can put a professional IDE like PyCharm Professional to work, emphasizing our Scientific Mode, newly-reimplemented Jupyter Notebook support, and the Databases tool from DataGrip. The recording is now available.

    • Red Hat Summit 2019 session highlights: IT Automation and Management

      Management and automation technologies have always been instrumental to enterprise IT governance, however their importance grows as organizations grapple with increasing scale and complexity. Traditional solutions can often be unable to adapt to the needs of these rapidly changing hybrid cloud environments and organizations can acquire new tools to help address these challenges. Cloud-ready, agentless management and automation solutions can help standardize processes, accelerate IT service delivery, and more effectively manage infrastructure for compliance with policy-driven IT.

    • Guru Night at Red Hat Summit: Hands-on experience with serverless computing

      Millions of developers worldwide want to learn more about serverless computing. If you’re one of the lucky thousands attending Red Hat Summit in Boston May 7-9, you can gain hands-on experience with the help of Burr Sutter and the Red Hat Developer team.

  • Web Browsers

    • Gab is forking Brave, and Brave is forking furious

      Gab, the free-speech absolutist social media network, continues to look for creative ways to resist being silenced.

      Having earned a reputation as a platform that is tolerant of even the most hateful (yet still technically legal) expressions of speech, Gab has been booted off virtually every Silicon Valley service imaginable—from payment processors to web host providers.

      Now, fresh off having its browser plug-in Dissenter, the “comment section of the Internet,” ejected from the Google and Mozilla extension libraries, Gab is taking the oft-used “if you don’t like it, go create your own” criticism to heart. The company has built its own web browser—a forked version of the open-source Brave browser—and will be releasing it within the next few weeks, Gab CEO Andrew Torba tells Decrypt.

    • Chrome

      • Chromium 74 available in my repository. Also for 32bit Slackware.

        The Chromium 74 sources were released a few days ago by Google, and it comes with a long list of fixes for security issues.
        I spent almost two months to investigate why the 32bit package could no longer be built (which is one of the reasons why there were so few updates in march and april – I only have a few hours every day that I can spend on Slackware these days) and had finally managed to compile a 32bit package for Chromium 73 in a 32bit chroot environment on a 64bit Slackware OS, and that package was online for one day…. and now I tried compiling the new release on a regular 32bit Slackware OS and that worked! No idea whether this is because of my modifications of the SlackBuild.

    • Mozilla

      • Cameron Kaiser: Another interesting TenFourFox downstream

        Because we’re one of the few older forks of Firefox to still backport security updates, TenFourFox code turns up in surprising places sometimes. I’ve known about roytam’s various Pale Moon and Mozilla builds; the patches are used in both the rebuilds of Pale Moon 27 and 28 and his own fork of 45ESR. Arctic Fox, which is a Pale Moon 27 (descended from Firefox 38, with patches) rebuild for Snow Leopard and PowerPC Linux, also uses TenFourFox security patches as well as some of our OS X platform code.
        Recently I was also informed of a new place TenFourFox code has turned up: OS/2. There’s no Rust for OS/2, so they’re in the same boat that PowerPC OS X is, and it doesn’t look like 52ESR was ever successfully ported to OS/2 either; indeed, the last “official” Firefox I can find from Bitwise is 45.9. Dave Yeo took that version (as well as Thunderbird 45.9 and SeaMonkey 2.42.9) and backported our accumulated security patches along with other fixes to yield updated “SUa1″ Firefox, Thunderbird and SeaMonkey builds for OS/2. If you’re curious, here are the prerequisites.

      • Update To rr Master To Debug Firefox Trunk

        The issue is that LMDB opens a file, maps it into memory MAP_SHARED, and then opens the file again and writes to it through the new file descriptor, and requires that the written data be immediately reflected in the shared memory mapping. (This behavior is not guaranteed by POSIX but is guaranteed by Linux.) rr needs to observe these writes and record the necessary memory changes, otherwise they won’t happen during replay (because writes to files don’t happen during replay) and replay will fail. rr already handled the case when the application write to the file descriptor (technically, the file description) that was used to map the file — Chromium has needed this for a while. The LMDB case is harder to handle. To fix LMDB, whenever the application opens a file for writing, we have to check to see if any shared mapping of that file exists and if so, mark that file description so writes to it have their shared-memory effects recorded. Unfortunately this adds overhead to writable file opens, but hopefully it doesn’t matter much since in many workloads most file opens are read-only. (If it turns out to be a problem there are ways we can optimize further.) While fixing this, we also added support for the case where the application opens a file (possibly multiple times with different file descriptions) and then creates a shared mapping of one of them. To handle that, when creating a shared mapping we have to scan all open files to see if any of them refer to the mapped file, and if so, mark them so the effects of their writes are recorded.

      • language-design team meta working group

        I’m happy to announce the formation of the language-design team meta working group. The Meta WG is tasked with helping to manage the transition of the language-design team to a new process – and, if consensus is something that interests you, we’d like you to help!

      • AiC: Language-design team meta working group

        On internals, I just announced the formation of the language-design team meta working group. The role of the meta working group is to figure out how other language-design team working groups should work. The plan is to begin by enumerating some of our goals – the problems we aim to solve, the good things we aim to keep – and then move on to draw up more details plans. I expect this discussion will intersect the RFC process quite heavily (at least when it comes to language design changes). Should be interesting! It’s all happening in the open, and a major goal of mine is for this to be easy to follow along with from the outside – so if talking about talking is your thing, you should check it out.

      • Firefox Origin Telemetry: Putting Prio in Practice

        Prio is neat. It allows us to learn counts of things that happen across the Firefox population without ever being able to learn which Firefox sent us which pieces of information.

        For example, Content Blocking will soon be using this to count how often different trackers are blocked and exempted from blocking so we can more quickly roll our Enhanced Tracking Protection to our users to protect them from companies who want to track their activities across the Web.

        To get from “Prio is neat” to “Content Blocking is using it” required a lot of effort and the design and implementation of a system I called Firefox Origin Telemetry.

        Prio on its own has some very rough edges. It can only operate on a list of at most 2046 yes or no questions (a bit vector). It needs to know cryptographic keys from the servers that will be doing the sums and decryption. It needs to know what a “Batch ID” is. And it needs something to reliably and reasonably-frequently send the data once it has been encoded.

      • Mike Hoye: Synchronous Text

        Let’s lead with the punchline: the question of what comes after IRC, for Mozilla, is now on my desk.

        I wasn’t in the room when IRC.mozilla.org was stood up, but from what I’ve heard IRC wasn’t “chosen” so much as it was the obvious default, the only tool available in the late ’90s. Suffice to say that as a globally distributed organization, Mozilla has relied on IRC as our main synchronous communications tool since the beginning. For much of that time it’s served us well, if for some less-than-ideal values of “us” and “well”.

        Like a lot of the early internet IRC is a quasi-standard protocol built with far more of the optimism of the time than the paranoia the infosec community now refers to as “common sense”, born before we learned how much easier it is to automate bad acts than it is to foster healthy communities. Like all unauthenticated systems on the modern net it’s aging badly and showing no signs of getting better.

        While we still use it heavily, IRC is an ongoing source of abuse and harassment for many of our colleagues and getting connected to this now-obscure forum is an unnecessary technical barrier for anyone finding their way to Mozilla via the web. Available interfaces really haven’t kept up with modern expectations, spambots and harassment are endemic to the platform, and in light of that it’s no coincidence that people trying to get in touch with us from inside schools, colleges or corporate networks are finding that often as not IRC traffic isn’t allowed past institutional firewalls at all.

      • The Rust Programming Language Blog: Mozilla IRC Sunset and the Rust Channel

        The Rust community has had a presence on Mozilla’s IRC network almost since Rust’s inception. Over time, the single channel grew into a set of pretty active channels where folks would come to ask Rust questions, coordinate work on Rust itself, and just in general chat about Rust.

        Mozilla recently announced that it would be shutting down its IRC network, citing a growing maintenance and moderation burden. They are looking into new options for the Mozilla community, but this does leave the question open as to what the Rust project will do.

        Last year a lot of the teams started exploring new communication platforms. Almost all the Rust teams no longer use IRC as their official discussion platform, instead using Discord or Zulip (as well as a variety of video chat tools for synchronous meetings). The few teams that do use IRC are working with us to find a new home, likely a channel on Discord or Zulip.

        This leaves the #rust and #rust-beginners channels on Mozilla’s IRC network, which are still quite active, that will need a new home when Mozilla’s network shuts down. Rust’s official Discord server does have the #users, #help, and #beginners channels that fill in this purpose, and we recommend people start using those.

      • irc.mozilla.org

        I remember the very first time I used IRC. It was 2004, and earlier in the week I had met with Mike Shaver at Seneca, probably for the first time, and he’d ended our meeting with a phrase I’d never heard before, but I nodded knowingly nevertheless: “Ping me in #developers.”

        Ping me. What on earth did that mean!? Little did I know that this phrase would come to signify so much about the next decade of my life. After some research and initial trial and error, ‘dave’ joined irc.mozilla.org and found his way to the unlisted #developers channel. And there was ‘shaver’, along with 300 or so other #developers.

        The immediacy of it was unlike anything I’d used before (or since). To join irc was to be transported somewhere else. You weren’t anywhere, or rather, you were simultaneously everywhere. For many of these years I was connecting to irc from an old farm house in the middle of rural Ontario over a satellite internet connection. But when I got online, there in the channels with me were people from New Zealand, the US, Sweden, and everywhere in between.

      • Mozilla’s IoT relaunches, sun-based GPS, and more news

        As you might expect, Mozilla has irons in a number of open source fires. Over the last two weeks, Mozilla has gone public with two significant projects.

        The first one is Pyodide. It’s an “experimental Python project that’s designed to perform computation” from within a browser window. While other projects are also attempting to bring Python interpreters to the web browser, Pyodide “doesn’t require a rewrite of popular scientific computing tools (like NumPy, Pandas, Scipy, and Matplotlib) to achieve adequate performance.”

        The second project is an IoT platform called Mozilla WebThings. WebThings isn’t new. It’s the grown up version of the organization’s Project Things platform “for monitoring and controlling connected devices.” The latest version of WebThings add features for logging and visualizing data from your smart devices, as well as monitoring and triggering alarms from internet-connected detectors. You can learn more at the Mozilla IoT site.

      • Firefox Nightly: These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 58

        Continuing on fixing regressions in QuantumBar, including improvements for RTL, less visual flicker and lots more.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC9-RC Is Out With Hopes Of GCC 9.1 Next Week Bringing AMD Zen 2, D Language, OpenMP 5

      Following yesterday’s branching of the GCC 9 code-base after hitting no high priority regressions left and thus opening trunk for GCC 10 development, the release candidate of GCC 9 is now available while the official GCC 9.1.0 compiler may be released next week if all goes well.

      The GCC 9 release candidate is available now as what should be the final test release before the stable compiler release. Those wanting to test out GCC 9 over the days ahead can grab it here.

    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 15 new GNU releases in April!

      dico-2.9
      emacs-26.2
      gama-2.04
      gawk-5.0.0
      gnuastro-0.9
      gnuhealth-client-3.4.4
      gnunet-0.11.3
      gnupg-2.2.15
      gnutls-3.6.7
      libcdio-2.1.0
      nano-4.2
      parallel-20190422
      rush-1.9
      shepherd-0.6.0
      wget-1.20.3

  • Programming/Development

    • Igalia coding experience open positions

      The Igalia Coding Experience is an internship program which provides their first exposure to the professional world, working hand in hand with Igalia programmers and learning with them. The internship is aimed to students with background in Computer Science, Information Technology, or Free Software development.

    • Python Celery – Weekly Celery Tutorials and How-tos: Auto-reload Celery on code changes

      For a long time, my most frustrating developer experience with Celery was the lack of worker restart on code changes.

      For example, Gunicorn supports a –reload argument. This setting causes workers to be restarted whenever your application code changes. Which is almost indispensable even when you are really disciplined TDD disciple.

      Unfortunately, Celery does not suport such a reload option. Celery once had an –autoreload option but it was deprecated in version 3.1.0 or so – though the documents suggested otherwise for a long time. Which only added to the frustration and confusion.

    • Formatting our code with Prettier

      I’ve become a huge advocate of using Prettier to format front-end code. Let me explain why.

      For many years, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time squinting at my code editor and trying to decide if the curly brackets at the top of my screen align with the curly brackets at the bottom of my screen.

      The reason for this is to make sure my code is tidy and consistent and thus easier to maintain – either by myself at a later date or by someone else.

      I’m also tidy by nature – clutter stresses me out. I like a tidy desk, a tidy house, a tidy car and a tidy garden. There is a place for everything and everything should be in its place. If it doesn’t give me joy – it goes in the bin!

    • Python for NLP: Introduction to the Pattern Library
    • JavaScript ecosystem survey concludes React is most popular framework

      The “Enterprise JavaScript in 2019” survey by npm reveals some trends for the JavaScript community. This year, respondents report that they want to learn WebAssembly, they are concerned about open source code security, and much more. Find out the key takeaways and see what’s expected for the years ahead.

    • KDAB at Italian C++, Milan

      Once again, KDAB is proud to be sponsoring Italian C++ – a free event organized by C++ enthusiasts in Milan, Italy.

      Come and listen to KDAB’s James Turner talk about Custom tooling for frameworks, libraries and projects using Clang – getting Clazy.

    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 24 – Multi dimensional arrays
    • An eBPF overview, part 3: Walking up the software stack

      eBPF programs can be much more complex: multiple backends can be loaded by a single (or separate multiple!) loader processes, writing to multiple data structures which then get read by multiple frontend processes! All of these can happen in a single big user eBPF application spanning multiple processes.

    • Don’t be afraid of Test-Driven Development

      Throughout my career, the teams I’ve been on have had a wide range of views on using tests while developing code. As I’ve moved between teams, listened to podcasts, and read articles, I’ve assembled some notes that would have been very useful for me in the past. Some of these notes are getting compiled into a bookIf this sounds interesting, sign up for free content and a discount. that I’ll be selling later this year.

      Even though I could include this in that book, I realize that I took much longer than I should have to get started with testing my code. This is mostly because I was intimidated with rules I felt I had to follow; rules that I had to get past in order to let myself explore, try, fail, and then succeed.

      If you aren’t testing your code, I want to share this post with the hope that you too may find enjoyment form it.

    • Create Dummy Data in Python
    • The Unbearable Coolness of Cloud Functions
    • TensorFlow CPU optimizations in Anaconda
    • Python 3.7.3 and Django REST framework.
    • Deploy your distributed system efficiently with fabric
    • Django REST framework – part 001.
    • Python dis module and constant folding

      I found the answer through the Python IRC channel on Freenode. The reason why pow is slightly slower is that in CPython there is an additional step of loading pow from the namespace. Whereas, in 3**9 there is no such loading required. This also means that the difference will remain more or less constant even if the input numbers get bigger and bigger.

    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxxv) stackoverflow python report

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Introduction to generative adversarial network

      If you’ve been following the artificial intelligence (AI) news media lately, you probably heard that one of Google’s top AI people, Ian Goodfellow, moved to Apple in March. Goodfellow was named one of MIT’s Innovators Under 35 in 2017 and one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Global Thinkers in 2019. He is also known as the father of the machine learning concept called the generative adversarial network (GAN). According to Yann LeCun, the director of Facebook AI, GAN is the “most interesting idea in the last 10 years of machine learning.”

      Nearly everyone is aware of how hot the field of machine learning is now. Google is doing machine learning. Amazon is doing machine learning. Facebook is doing machine learning. Every company on the planet wants to do something with machine learning. Mark Cuban, an American businessman, investor (including on the Shark Tank reality TV show), and owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, recently said everyone should learn machine learning.

    • Shoddy Software Is Eating The World, And People Are Dying As A Result

      Two recent crashes involving Boeing 737 Max jets are still being investigated. But there is a growing view that anti-stall software used on the plane may have caused a “repetitive uncommanded nose-down”, as a preliminary report into the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines plane puts it. Gregory Travis has been a pilot for 30 years, and a software developer for more than 40 years. Drawing on that double expertise, he has written an illuminating article for the IEEE Spectrum site, entitled “How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer” (free account required). It provides an extremely clear explanation of the particular challenges of designing the Boeing 737 Max, and what they tell us about modern software development.

      Airline companies want jets to be as cost-effective as possible. That means using engines that are as efficient as possible in converting fuel into thrust, which turns out to mean engines that are as big as possible. But that was a problem for the hugely-popular Boeing 737 series of planes.

    • In 1983, This Bell Labs Computer Was the First Machine to Become a Chess Master

      Chess is a complicated game. It’s a game of strategy between two opponents, but with no hidden information and all of the potential moves known by both players at the outset. With each turn, players communicate their intent and try to anticipate the possible countermoves. The ability to envision several moves in advance is a recipe for victory, and one that mathematicians and logicians have long found intriguing.

      Despite some early mechanical chess-playing machines—and at least one chess-playing hoax—mechanized chess play remained hypothetical until the advent of digital computing. While working on his Ph.D. in the early 1940s, the German computer pioneer Konrad Zuse used computer chess as an example for the high-level programming language he was developing, called Plankalkül. Due to World War II, however, his work wasn’t published until 1972. With Zuse’s work unknown to engineers in Britain and the United States, Norbert Wiener, Alan Turing, and notably Claude Shannon (with his 1950 paper “Programming a Computer for Playing Chess” [PDF]) paved the way for thinking about computer chess.

  • Hardware

    • What is SSD TRIM?

      SSDs are a completely different storage media compared to the ones that existed before it. Magnetic media, especially spinning disks, have introduced a lot of concepts like sector size, partitioning, fragmentation etc. Some of these ideas have been emulated in the firmware Solid state devices as well.

      On the flip side, new concepts have been introduced in order to optimize the performance, life span and reliability of these novel devices as well. One such concept is the TRIM operation.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Cancer Drug Prices Continue to Rise

      Rising drug prices is an issue that everyone from the President to both Houses of Congress (Democrats and Republicans), Wall Street, and Main Street can agree must be alleviated, and perhaps the most expensive drugs are those that treat cancer. This reality is a combination of the severity of the disease and the nature of the drugs, which are generally biologic drugs characterized by structural complexity, production difficulties, and high cost of regulatory approval. As reported in Genetic Engineering News, the trend of increasing drug prices continued among most of the top ten highest selling cancer drugs currently on the market.

      The basis for the information disclosed in GEN is a report from IQVIA™ Institute for Human Data Science entitled Global Oncology Drug Trends 2018, which showed that cancer treatment costs average over $150,000 on 2017 with total spend in the U.S. on these drugs of almost $50 billion (compared with a total of $60 billion for the rest of the world). The situation may get even worse, with cancer drug prices expected to double again by 2022 in the U.S. and there being an equivalent percentage rise (10-13% annually) in the rest of the world.

    • Progressives Raise Alarm Over Lack of Single Payer Supporters Chosen to Testify at Historic Medicare for All Hearing

      After the House Rules Committee released the full list of witnesses who will testify at the first-ever congressional hearing on Medicare for All next week, progressives raised alarm over the lack of single-payer proponents chosen for the panel and worried that what is supposed to be a substantive discussion of Medicare for All could turn out to be a “farce.”

    • States Weigh Banning a Widely Used Pesticide Even Though EPA Won’t

      Lawmakers in several states are trying to ban a widely used pesticide that the Environmental Protection Agency is fighting to keep on the market.

      The pesticide, chlorpyrifos, kills insects on contact by attacking their nervous systems.

      Several studies have linked prenatal exposure of chlorpyrifos to lower birth weights, lower IQs, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other developmental issues in children. But the EPA in 2017 ignored the conclusions of its scientists and rejected a proposal made during the Obama administration to ban its use in fields and orchards.

      Hawaii was the first state to pass a full ban last year. Now California, Oregon, New York and Connecticut are trying to do the same.

      Should California succeed, the rear-guard action could have a big impact.

      “If California is successful, that’s a big deal because it’s such a big state — the biggest agricultural state,” said Virginia Ruiz, director of occupational and environmental health at the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Farmworker Justice.

      Earlier this year, congressional Democrats also introduced bills to ban the pesticide nationally, but experts believe states are more likely to succeed than Congress. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who is running for president, introduced a separate bill last week that would prohibit schools from serving fruits and vegetables sprayed with the pesticide.

    • Pentagon Pushed for Weakened Regulations on Toxic Chemicals, Endangering Drinking Water of Millions of Americans

      Lobbying from the Pentagon is to blame for the Trump administration’s latest environmental regulatory rollback, according to reports.

      The EPA on Thursday released weakened guidelines for the clean-up of toxic groundwater pollution which could contaminate the drinking water millions of Americans use—after the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) called on the White House to intervene and have an earlier draft of the rules changed.

      “It’s darkly ironic that on the five-year anniversary of the Flint water crisis, instead of taking action to improve our drinking water, Trump’s EPA doubled down on its commitment to gut water protections,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, in a statement. “Despite the agency’s ongoing spin to the contrary, it seems hell-bent on giving industrial and military polluters a pass despite the clear and present danger these chemicals represent for our health.”

      The guidelines apply to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are used heavily by the Pentagon in foams for fighting fires at military bases, as well as by companies that use them in a number of household products. The Pentagon has pushed in recent weeks to make sure it won’t have to quickly remove potential contamination from hundreds of sites across the country, citing costs. The department recently proposed a $750 billion budget.

      The new rules will allow military bases to take years to clean up PFAS contamination, eliminating from the draft a section that had called for the prompt removal of “immediate threats posed by hazardous waste sites.”

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Russia’s FSB reports terrorist attack prevented in Northern Caucasian city of Nalchik

      Federal Security Service (FSB) employees and police officers have prevented a terrorist attack planned for the Kabardino-Balkar Republic’s capital city of Nalchik, FSB representatives announced.

      The security agency said it had arrested an ISIS member who had prepared an improvised explosive device and intended to use it to commit a violent attack. FSB representatives also said the attack was ordered by higher-ranking ISIS members in Syria.

    • Experts claim Putin’s citizenship program in eastern Ukraine will cost Russia 100 billion rubles a year

      Experts polled by the news website The Bell estimate that Vladimir Putin’s decision this week to simplify the path to citizenship for millions of people living in Ukraine’s separatist-controlled Donbas region will cost Moscow at least 100 billion rubles ($1.6 billion) in additional annual social-security payments.

    • Journalist’s Slaying Spurs Northern Ireland Power-Sharing Pact

      Britain and Ireland made a new push Friday to restore Northern Ireland’s collapsed government, responding to public outrage at the killing of a journalist by a banned militant group.

      Talks will begin May 7 to revive the Catholic-Protestant power-sharing administration, which has been suspended for more than two years, the U.K. and Irish governments said. The negotiations will involve the two governments and all Northern Ireland’s main political parties.

      “We have a narrow window in which genuine progress can be made and we must act now,” U.K. Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said at a news conference in Belfast.

      Northern Ireland’s 1.8 million people have been without a functioning administration since the power-sharing government collapsed in January 2017 over a botched green-energy project. The rift soon widened to broader cultural and political issues separating Northern Ireland’s British unionists and Irish nationalists.

    • For NYT, Israel Is Always Nearing ‘Apartheid,’ but Never Quite Gets There

      For almost 20 years, the paper has suggested that Israel/Palestine risks devolving into an apartheid state if it continues to rule over Palestinians in the territories—Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem—who cannot choose their rulers. This population includes approximately 4.75 million occupied Palestinians—320,000 in East Jerusalem, 2.8 million in the rest of the West Bank and 1.8 million in besieged Gaza—to say nothing of the millions of Palestinian refugees who cannot return to their homes and participate in elections because the people who put on those elections won’t let them.

      That situation has remained the same, not only for the period that the Times has been publishing material saying the arrangement might someday add up to apartheid, but since 1967. Yet the Times persists in characterizing Israeli apartheid as a hypothetical future development. The paper acknowledges that governing millions of Palestinians but denying them the vote is a form of apartheid, so there’s no justification for saying, after nearly 52 years of such disenfranchisement, that that will eventually constitute apartheid, but for some unspecified reason doesn’t yet at this point.

    • Most Americans Actually Reject Trump’s ‘America First’ Policy

      As president, Donald Trump has leaned heavily upon what he’s called an “America First” policy. This nationalist approach involves walking away from cooperative agreements with other nations and relying instead upon a dominant role for the United States, undergirded by military might, in world affairs.

      Nevertheless, as numerous recent opinion polls reveal, most Americans don’t support this policy.

      The reaction of the American public to Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from key international agreements has been hostile. According to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll conducted in early May 2018, shortly before Trump announced a pullout from the Iran nuclear agreement, 54 percent of respondents backed the agreement. Only 29 percent favored a pullout.

      In July 2018, when the Chicago Council on Global Affairs surveyed Americans about their reaction to Trump’s withdrawal from both the Iran deal and the Paris climate agreement, it found that 66 favored remaining within the Iran accord, while 68 percent favored remaining within the Paris accord ― an increase of 6 percent in support for each of these agreements over the preceding year.

      Most Americans also rejected Trump’s 2019 withdrawal of the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. A survey that February by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs reported that 54 percent of Americans opposed withdrawal from this nuclear arms control treaty and only 41 percent favored it. Furthermore, when pollsters presented arguments for and against withdrawal from the treaty to Americans before asking for their opinion, 66 percent opposed withdrawal.

      In addition, despite Trump’s sharp criticism of U.S. allies, most Americans expressed their support for a cooperative relationship with them. The Chicago Council’s July 2018 survey found that 66 percent of Americans agreed that the United States should make decisions with its allies, even if it meant that the U.S. government would have to go along with a policy other than its own. Only 32 percent disagreed.

    • U.S. Withdrawing From Global Arms Trade Treaty, Trump Says

      President Donald Trump says the U.S. has decided to withdraw its support for a treaty regulating the multibillion-dollar global arms trade. It’s the latest example of the Trump administration’s dislike of international pacts.

      Trump said Friday that he has decided to revoke the United States’ status as a signatory of the Arms Trade Treaty regulating international trade in conventional weapons, including small arms, battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships.

      He says America is “rejecting this treaty” and “taking our signature back.”

      He made the announcement during a speech in Indianapolis, Indiana, to the National Rifle Association, which claims the treaty poses a threat to the Second Amendment. The U.S. signed the treaty in 2013, but never ratified it.

    • ‘The War on Drugs Is Just One of Several Being Waged in the Philippines’ – CounterSpin interview with Amee Chew on the Philippines under Duterte

      Note the passivity of the phrase “have been slain,” and the choice to lead with an official death toll rather than human rights groups’ less self-interested numbers. The 12,000 figure provides a link to a Human Rights Watch report that has never been the subject of a Washington Post news story.

      Among many things such reporting wouldn’t lead you to suspect: Two years ago, when the Philippines Senate tried to cut funding for the campaign of state and state-sanctioned violence, for which the toll of “even 20,000” is almost certainly conservative, it was the United States that stepped in with the money to fill the shortfall.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks: The US is indeed investigating Assange for publishing secret information, DOJ letter suggests

      Right after the London police carried Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy, the United States demanded his extradition. A March 2018 indictment charges him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison. But that is not the entire truth.

      Only one day after writing the indictment, the US Attorney’s Office admitted it was also investigating Assange for the „unauthorized receipt and dissemination of secret information“. That is what the Department of Justice wrote in a letter to former WikiLeaks spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg, which we are publishing in full.

      This accusation can be charged under the Espionage Act of 1917, a World War I era federal law intended to protect military secrets which has also been used to charge Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. Convictions under the Espionage Act can be punished by death. The death penalty is not only inhumane and archaic, it has legal consequences: The United Kingdom is not allowed to extradite Assange if he faces the death penalty.

      Charging Assange for publishing classified information is an attack on press freedom, „obtaining and disseminating secret information“ is the very task of journalism. If WikiLeaks is charged, every journalist and media outlet publishing secret information will be on trial. While the Obama administration debated this dangerous precedent, the Trump government shows no restraints.

      [...]

      In the past, more people involved with WikiLeaks were asked to support the investigations by providing information to the prosecutors. Jacob Appelbaum was asked to testify against Assange, but he refused. Manning is back in prison since early March for refusing to testify before the grand jury.

      Not everyone resists. As early as 2011, several people cooperated with the FBI, including Adrian Lamo, Sigurdur Thordarson and a not publicly named „U.S. Person No. 1“. David House refused to testify before the grand jury in 2011, but changed his mind and testified in May 2018, likely after an offer similar to Domscheit-Berg’s.

      The US must produce its case for requesting the extradition of Assange from Britain by June 12. In seven weeks, they must finally admit what they are trying to charge him for: hacking or journalism.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Arbor Day Foundation to Plant 100 Million Trees by 2022

      Today is Arbor Day. That means in just three years, America’s oldest environmental celebration will turn 150, and the Arbor Day Foundation is already planning a redwood-sized birthday present. The foundation, the largest non-profit dedicated to planting trees, has announced a new goal: planting 100 million trees by 2022.

      “It can be easy to take trees for granted, but they are absolutely critical to maintaining balance on our planet—supporting clean air and water, healthy food and a livable climate,” Arbor Day Foundation President Dan Lambe said in a press release. “With an estimated 18 million acres of forests lost globally each year, that balance is being shaken.”

    • Concerned About Food Waste? Study Finds Meal Kits May Be Greener Than Grocery Shopping

      Meal kit delivery services are an easy target for eco-conscious people concerned with waste: the ingredients are meticulously packaged in plastic and insulation, put into cardboard boxes and shipped to the customer’s front door each week. But how does all that waste and energy use stack up against the environmental impact of buying the same meal at the grocery store?

      According to a new study from the University of Michigan, meal kits from companies like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh may actually have a lower carbon footprint than meals purchased at the grocery store. The researchers found that, after considering the full life cycle of both, grocery store meals accounted for one-third more greenhouse gas emissions on average than the meal kit versions.

    • Comparison of Life Cycle Environmental Impacts from Meal Kits and Grocery Store Meals
    • Fast Arctic melt could cost $70 trillion

      The northern reaches of the planet are undergoing very rapid change: the fast Arctic melt means the region is warming at twice the speed of the planetary average.

      The loss of sea ice and land snow could tip the planet into a new and unprecedented cycle of climatic change and add yet another $70 trillion (£54 tn) to the estimated economic cost of global warming.

      In yet another sombre statement of the challenge presented by climate change, driven by ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from the fossil fuels that power the global economy, British, European and US researchers took a look at two manifestations of warming.

      One is the growing levels of ancient carbon now being released into the atmosphere as the Arctic permafrost begins to melt. The other is the reduced reflection of solar radiation back into space as what had once been an expanse of snow and ice melts, to expose ever greater areas of light-absorbing blue sea, dark rock and scrubby tundra.

    • Mozambique Hit by Second Historic Cyclone in Little Over a Month

      The storm comes little over a month after Cyclone Idai killed more than 700 people, displaced tens of thousands and caused $1 billion in damage, making it the deadliest and costliest storm in Mozambique’s history, CNN reported. In the entire region, including Mozambique’s neighbors Malawi and Zimbabwe, Idai killed more than 1,000 and forced millions from their homes, The New York Times reported.

    • Latest ‘Wake-Up Call’ of Climate Emergency as Historic Cyclone Hits Still Reeling Mozambique

      “The families whose lives have been turned upside down by these climate-related disasters urgently need the generosity of the international community to survive over the coming months,” Mark Lowcock, the United Nations humanitarian chief, said in a statement (pdf).

      Lowcock warned that “Cyclone Kenneth may require a major new humanitarian operation at the same time that the ongoing Cyclone Idai response targeting 3 million people in three countries remains critically underfunded.”

      The new storm, he noted, “comes only six weeks after Cyclone Idai devastated central Mozambique, killing more than 600 people, unleashing a cholera epidemic, wiping out crops in the country’s breadbasket, forcing a million people to rely on food assistance to survive, and causing massive destruction of homes, schools, and infrastructure in one of the world’s poorest countries.”

    • Water not a problem for firemen

      Firefighters had it under control at 6 p.m. The fire gutted about 90 houses.

      Water supply in parts of Cebu and Talisay cities is scarce because the Jaclupan dam, from which the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) sources its supply, is nearly depleted owing to a long dry spell.

      Cebu City Fire Marshal Noel Ababon said they are investigating the cause of the fire, although the initial report that reached them said a boy had been seen playing matches in the neighborhood.

      Ababon said initial details showed that the fire started at the house of Preciano Karomayan which is being rented by Joie Bantugan.

    • Weeks After Deadly Storm, Cyclone Kenneth Hits Mozambique

      Another tropical cyclone made landfall in Mozambique and other countries in East Africa on Thursday, just over a month since Cyclone Idai killed more than 1,000 people and displaced millions in the region.

      The new storm, Cyclone Kenneth, was expected to bring heavy rainfall, flooding and winds of more than 120 miles per hour to Mozambique and Tanzania. Forecasters predicted it could be among the most powerful storms to strike East Africa in modern history, and as the cyclone moved toward shore, it killed three people in the island nation of Comoros, just off the coast, uprooting trees and ripping off roofs.

      The storm was expected to dump as much as 13 inches of rain within 24 hours of making landfall, forecasters said. More than 700,000 people live in the cyclone’s path, according to the United Nations.

      “This is another potential tragedy for Mozambique,” said Dorothy Sang, a manager for the aid group Oxfam who is based in Beira, the port city hit hard by Cyclone Idai last month. “We’re still struggling to scale up and meet the needs of everyone after the last cyclone. This will make it much harder.”

    • Cyclone Kenneth: Thousands evacuated as Mozambique is hit with the strongest storm in its history

      Thousands of people were being evacuated to shelters Thursday as powerful Tropical Cyclone Kenneth bore down on northern Mozambique.

      The storm had maximum sustained winds of 220 kph (140 mph) — the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane.
      Kenneth comes a little more than a month after the country was dealt a devastating blow by the deadliest and costliest storm in its history — Tropical Cyclone Idai.
      Kenneth is the strongest tropical cyclone to hit Mozambique in known history.

    • Swampy Ex-Trump Officials Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke: They’re Back!

      Former top Trump environmental officials Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke, both forced out of their jobs last year under the weight of, for each, an absurdly large number of ethics scandals, have now resurfaced, with each accepting influence-peddling jobs in industries they previously regulated. The two also appeared jointly at a recent Texas Republican event and demonstrated that each man remains utterly shameless.

      Former EPA head Pruitt and ex-Interior Secretary Zinke each seemed, from their conduct in office, to view their Trump post as an entitlement to grab first-class perqs, from Pruitt sending staff members to pick up a special moisturizing lotion, to Zinke charging taxpayers for unnecessary charter flights. Each also shaped policies to please polluting industries and punished agency staff who objected.

      Each man left with multiple investigations pending. Pruitt’s resignation effectively ended at least some of the EPA inspector general probes into him, including over his budget-priced rental in a townhouse owned by a lobbyist’s wife and his leveraging of his EPA status to seek a Chick-fil-A franchise for his own wife. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has reportedly been looking into whether Zinke lied to the Interior inspector general, who has been examining Zinke’s discussions with potential partners in a Montana real estate deal and his oversight of a proposed Connecticut tribal casino project.

    • Where Does 2020 Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Stand on the Environment?

      On Thursday Former Vice President Joe Biden announced he will enter the crowded 2020 Democratic Primary, NPR reported, focusing his announcement video on the threat posed to America’s identity and values by President Donald Trump.

      “I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time,” Biden said in his announcement video. “But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation — who we are — and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”

    • Climate Denier Trump Can’t Handle the Truth About Why Central Americans Flock to U.S.

      Let’s stipulate right here that President Trump doesn’t understand a lot of things, even as he enters his 28th month in charge of the massive bureaucratic battleship that is the U.S. government. But no issue has flummoxed our rage-prone 45th president more than the rise in unauthorized crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border — even after promising his xenophobic base that his harsh immigration crackdown would make America great again.

      When numbers came into the White House showing this decade’s biggest surge in refugees at the border — with Border Patrol agents detaining as many as 4,000 migrants, many of them women and children, in a single day — Trump reportedly went ballistic. He yelled and fumed at his then-Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen until he finally forced her out of the job, partly because she wouldn’t buy into the president’s ideas to fight migration with moves that were probably illegal and unworkable and certainly immoral.The commander-in-chief wanted even harsher family separation policies, even after the first wave of ripping toddlers and even infants from their mommies and daddies, in 2018, had shocked consciences around the globe. He threatened to completely shut down the border with Mexico, which would have crippled commerce and maybe triggered a recession. He killed the nomination of a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) chief who wasn’t “tough enough, fired other top Homeland Security officials, and flirted with ideas like sending detained children to Gitmo. A senior aide told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the president was “increasingly unhinged” about border crossings, even as he furiously tweeted out more fear.

    • Trump Administration Halts Plan to Expand Offshore Drilling After Court Ruling Upholds Ban

      The Trump administration will shelve its plans to expand offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic following a recent court decision blocking drilling off the Alaskan coast, Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt said Thursday.

      In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Bernhardt said that the potentially years-long appeals process for last month’s ruling “may be discombobulating to our plan.” An Interior spokesperson told press in an email that the Department “is simply evaluating all of its options to determine the best pathway to accomplish the mission entrusted to it by the President.”

    • Trump’s Offshore Oil-Drilling Plan Sidelined Indefinitely

      The Trump administration’s proposal to vastly expand offshore oil and gas drilling has been sidelined indefinitely as the Interior Department grapples with a recent court decision that blocks Arctic drilling, according to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

    • Interior Dept. Delays Its Plan to Open U.S. Coastline to Drilling

      The Trump administration on Thursday confirmed that it will likely delay the release of a long-awaited plan that had been expected to open most of the nation’s coastline for offshore oil drilling, pending the final outcome of a recent court decision that blocks drilling off the Alaskan coast.

      The delay appears to be an acknowledgment that the court decision is a significant setback for what President Trump has called his policy of “energy dominance” — an effort to rapidly expand oil and gas drilling across the country.

  • Finance

    • TurboTax Deliberately Hides Its Free File Page From Search Engines

      This week, we reported on how TurboTax uses deceptive design and misleading advertising to trick lower-income Americans into paying to file their taxes, even though they are eligible to do it for free.

      There’s a new wrinkle: It turns out, Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, is deliberately hiding the truly free edition — TurboTax Free File — from Google Search.

      Intuit has done that by adding code on its site telling Google and other search engines not to list TurboTax Free File in search results.

    • Here Are Your Stories of Being Tricked Into Paying by TurboTax. You Often Need the Money.

      But we’ve heard from dozens of people who could not figure out how to file their taxes for free on TurboTax even though they were eligible to do so. It’s not their fault: Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, makes it intentionally difficult to find and use its truly free version, Free File. Among other things, it keeps Free File from showing up in search results and refers to it by a confusing name: TurboTax Freedom Edition.

      More than 40 people have told us they sought out TurboTax’s free option but ended up having to pay fees that cut into money they needed for their families’ rent, grocery and student loan bills.

    • Price of petrol in Italy spikes at more than €2 a litre

      That’s bad news for drivers in Italy, who are expected to take to the roads in their thousands from Thursday for the long Liberation Day weekend.

      If you’re looking to save a few cents, avoid refuelling on the motorway, where prices are typically highest, and fill the tank yourself: fuel from self-service pumps is generally at least a cent cheaper per litre.

      The biggest money-saver, though, are so-called pompe bianche (‘white pumps’): independent petrol stations that pump unbranded fuel, which is on average five euro cents cheaper per litre than its branded equivalent at big-name stations. There are an estimated 7,000 across Italy; find your nearest one via this map.

    • French firm Suez settles one of two disputes with Argentina for €220 million

      French firm Suez settles one of two disputes with Argentina for €220 million

      French water and waste management company Suez announced Thursday that it had received 220 million euros in compensation from the government, settling one of its legal disputes with Argentina

      The payment refers to the termination of a contract in 2006, which the Argentine government carried out unilaterally.

      “The Argentine government and Siez have concluded and implemented a transactional settlement agreement in compliance with the ruling handed down by the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in favour of Suez in respect of the Buenos Aires water and wastewater management concession, terminated in 2006,” the French company wrote in a statement.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • History Shows Joe Biden 3.0 Is a Bad Idea

      So Joe’s in now, and really, thank God. The corporate neoliberal “center” is dreadfully under-represented in the current tiny field of potential Democratic nominees. In the event candidates Buttigieg, Harris, O’Rourke, Booker, Klobuchar, Moulton, Inslee, Hickenlooper and Gillibrand fail to successfully advocate for continuing 30 years of failed conservative “centrist” Democratic policies, former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden (D – Delaware) will be there to shoot the gap.

      :facebrick:

      “The third time’s lucky,” reads Alexander Hilsop’s 1862 compendium of Scottish proverbs. I guess we’re all going to find out how true that is over the course of the 79 weeks standing between this ragged little patch of time and the 2020 presidential election. Senator Biden’s first run at the brass ring began on June 9, 1987, and ended in searing disgrace only 106 days later after his campaign was subsumed by plagiarism accusations and his questionable relationship with the facts of his own life.

      Biden ran for president for the second time 20 years later, after dancing right up to the edge of declaring his candidacy before stepping back in 1992 and again in 2004. Biden managed to stay in the 2008 race for 11 months while never polling above single digits, finally withdrawing after placing 5th in the Iowa caucus. He did get noticed, however, and ultimately accepted the number two slot on what became a victorious Obama/Biden ticket.

      Biden kicked off his third presidential run on Thursday with an ominous and somewhat cumbersome 6:00 am tweet — “[E]verything that has made America — America — is at stake.” The announcement tweet failed to mention Biden’s plans to attend a big-dollar fundraiser hosted by David Cohen, chief lobbyist for Comcast, the most despised company in the country. This, morosely, is par for a very long course.

      Though he labels himself a friend to working people, Biden has a record of harming workers that spans decades. “His energetic work on behalf of the credit card companies has earned him the affection of the banking industry,” wrote Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2002, “and protected him from any well-funded challengers for his Senate seat.”

    • As Anita Hill Speaks Out, Joe Biden Dogged by Criticisms on First Day of 2020 Campaign
    • Joe Biden: An Imperial Corporatist Wrapped in the Bloody Flag of Charlottesville

      Besides being a grabby old coot who needs to stop joking about complaints over his serially inappropriate touching of females, Joe Biden is a grinning neoliberal sell-out who stands well to the right of majority progressive public opinion. No elegantly crafted three-and-a-half minute campaign launch video on the horrors of Charlottesville and Donald Trump can change that essential fact.

      The media trope that portrays “Lunch-Bucket Joe” Biden as a regular, down-to-earth guy who cares deeply about regular folks is pure, unadulterated bullshit. His real constituents wear pinstripe suits and works on Wall Street and in corporate headquarters. They fly around in fancy private jets. And the supposed “everyman liberal” Joe Biden is their loyal apparatchik.

    • Demonizing the Few to Alienate and Sway the Many

      The only media fixation that’s more irritating than the saturation coverage of candidates running for an office nearly two years ahead of the election instead of discussing issues, is the punditry of phrase-pinning, the constant refrain that certain candidates are “socialist” and therefore untouchables.

      [...]

      The public appears to be in sync here. According to a recent survey by the Hidden Tribes Project, the views of the Democrats who post on social media tend to be liberal and progressive but they are outnumbered two to one by those who don’t post and tend to be more moderate and conservative (“Liberals on Twitter Don’t Speak for Quiet Majority,” New York Times, 4/10/19).

      A few more Congressional Democrats are admittedly starting to support Medicare for All, but how telling it was when Nancy Pelosi went on record recently assuring the private insurance industry their fears of this passing were unwarranted. How was she re-elected if the party is moving to the left?

      Sticking with healthcare, can the call for Medicare for All be deemed that radical anyway when it is essentially the healthcare system in place for virtually every advanced industrial country, none of which are “socialist?” The northern European countries, especially Scandinavia, are often labeled socialist by those who conflate them with authoritarian, one-party controlled states which barely exist, but they’re multi-party, democratic states. The first attempt to get Medicare for All occurred in the mid-1960s, the current Medicare program in place for Seniors the compromise from that failure. The Democratic Party was hardly staffed with radicals in those days, though LBJ’s Great Society consensus included a different breed of liberal.

      The Great Society liberal programs were essentially a retooling of the New Deal. It’s no accident that one of the biggest offerings from the new breed in Congress is the Green New Deal, a remaking of priorities through a massive public-private partnering modeled on the public works projects of the 1930s to invest in green, renewable energy, and a host of other related shifts designed to create quality jobs and bring more of the excluded into the system.

    • A Look at the Talent in the Room

      Actually, this deal is weirder than that. Infinitely weirder. Those 23 candidates we keep hearing about are, well…simply the ones we keep hearing about. Visit the FEC (Federal Election Commission) website, and you’ll find that 683 people have already filed. It’s true. Apparently, anyone with $5,000 can register as an official presidential candidate. (Man to wife: “Should we buy that used Chevy SUV, or should I run for president?”)

      Not to be dismissive or mean, but for our purposes, we need to thin out the herd. Although we’re not going to try to psychoanalyze the Democratic candidates and place them in one of our five categories, we are going to boldly pass judgement on their chances of winning.

      Which is to say, Seth Moulton, Marianne Williamson, Eric Swalwell, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan, Andrew Yang, John Hickenlooper, Wayne Massam, and Mike Gravel need to quit. Not only won’t they win, they won’t be chosen as running mates. (Note: It’s possible that Biden or Sanders will donate cash to keep Mike Gravel in the race for as long as possible. Let’s be honest. The 88-year old Gravel makes the two of them look young and energetic.)

      [...]

      As for winning the nomination, if I had to bet $1,000 on who would win, even though I’m a Bernie Sanders supporter, I’d have to say Joe Biden. Not that my past predictions have been accurate. I predicted that a young LeBron James would struggle in the NBA because he wasn’t ready yet. From what I’ve heard, he’s made a smooth transition.

    • Debunking Myths of ‘Red-Brown’ Alliances

      Recently, a certain political concept has been resurrected that warrants interrogation. The notion of a ‘red-brown’ alliance has been thrown around so ubiquitously as a form of political slander that any substantive meaning to the term has been evacuated. Rather than accurately designating any associations that may exist between the left and far right, the idea of a ‘red-brown’ coalition, or ‘querfront’ (cross-front in German), is a generic abstraction cited to mischaracterize a perceived convergence of political opposites. In many respects, it is a stand-in for a similar hypothesis used by liberals — that of ‘horseshoe theory’, or the impression that the far left and far right intersect at both ends of the ideological spectrum — so as to be permitted diction for self-identified leftists. The application of the ‘red-brown’ smear produces the same result in that it situates politics from a centrist vantage point and likens the actual left to fascism. It disappears the anti-fascism of the left and anti-communism of the right while leaving the moderate center at a comfortable distance from the right-wing of which it is the more frequent collaborator.

      The ‘red-brown’ character assassinations make analogies about the present day based on a counterfeit history of World War II. No analysis of the mythos would be complete without the inclusion of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, one of the most misunderstood and historically falsified events of the war. During the 1930s, the USSR tried to maintain its autonomy during a period of rapid industrialization that accomplished in a decade what the British needed a century to achieve. In self defense, Moscow was forced to exploit the contradictions between the ‘democratic’ imperial nations and the authoritarian Axis powers when it came under dual threat. If war could not be avoided, the USSR certainly did not wish to take on the Wehrmacht alone. Stalin made diplomatic attempts in the lead up to the war at aligning with Britain and France, who were as keen on the idea of putting an end to the Soviet Union as Germany, which were rebuffed. In reply, the British and the French did everything within their power to try to push the Hitlerites into a war with the Soviets by signing the Munich Agreement with Germany and Italy in 1938.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Behind The Scenes Look At How Facebook Dealt With Christchurch Shooting Demonstrates The Impossible Task Of Content Moderation

      We’ve been saying for ages now that content moderation at scale is literally impossible to do well. It’s not “difficult.” It’s impossible. That does not mean that companies shouldn’t try to get better at it. They should and they are. But every choice involves real tradeoffs, and those tradeoffs can be significant and will upset some contingent who will have legitimate complaints. Too many people think that content moderation is so easy that just having a a single person dedicated to reviewing content can solve the problem. That’s not at all how it works.

      Professor Kate Klonick, who has done much of the seminal research into content moderation on large tech platforms, was given the opportunity to go behind the scenes and look at how Facebook dealt with the Christchurch shooting — an event the company was widely criticized over, with many arguing that they took too long to react, and let too many copies of the video slip through. As we wrote in our own analysis, it actually looked like Facebook did a pretty impressive job given the challenges involved.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Judge Dodges Legality of NSA Mass Spying, Citing Secrecy Claims

      EFF’s case challenging NSA spying, Jewel v. NSA, has come further than any case trying to end the government’s mass surveillance programs. Our clients have survived multiple efforts by the government to end the case, and they continue to push for their day in court. As a result, we’re no stranger to overcoming legal obstacles thrown our way.

      The latest obstacle came Thursday, when the court hearing our long-running case challenging NSA spying ruled that the lawsuit should be dismissed on account of the government’s argument that to proceed further would jeopardize national security. Athough we are disappointed that the case was dismissed on the basis of the government’s state secrecy arguments, we are not surprised.

      The Justice Department insists that our legal fight against this spying is bound by a Catch-22: no one can sue unless the court first determines that they were certainly touched by the vast surveillance mechanisms of the NSA. But, the government argued successfully, the court cannot decide whether any particular person’s email, web searches, social media or phone calls were touched by the surveillance unless the government admits it. Which, of course, it will not do.

    • GOOGLE IS EATING OUR MAIL

      I’ve been running a small SMTP and IMAP mail server for many years, hosting a handful of individual mailboxes. It’s hard to say when exactly I started. whois says I registered the tablix.org domain in 2005 and I remember hosting a mailing list for my colleagues at the university a bit before that, so I think it’s safe to say it’s been around 15 years.

      Although I don’t jump right away on every email-related novelty, I’ve tried to keep the server up-to-date with well accepted standards over the years. Some of these came for free with Debian updates. Others needed some manual work. For example, I have SPF records and DKIM message signing setup on the domains I use. The server is hosted on commercial static IP space (with the very same IP it first went on-line) and I’ve made sure with the ISP that correct reverse DNS records are in place.

    • New ‘BBC’ report explores the black market for ‘data penetrations’

      Last year, investigative journalists at Bellingcat and The Insider made international headlines by identifying the two Russian “tourists” suspected of carrying out a nerve-agent attack in Salisbury, England, as Russian military intelligence operatives. Part of that sleuth work relied on private data grabbed from government records in the “Rossisskii Passport” database. According to the website Rosbalt, the discovery prompted Russia’s intelligence community to launch a manhunt to track down the source of the leak. The journalists deny buying this information (Bellingcat says the spies’ passport data was provided by someone with access to the records), but there is an entire black market in Russia where scammers, private detectives, and even jealous spouses can pay hard money for anyone’s personal records. In a new report for the BBC Russian Service, Andrey Zakharov managed to buy his own phone and bank information, learning how this illegal industry operates in Russia. Meduza summarizes what he discovered.

    • Massachusetts’ Top Court Says Warrants Are Needed For Real-Time Cell Site Location Info

      Five years ago, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court got out ahead of the tech curve by declaring that state law enforcement would need warrants to seek historical cell site location info. This predated the US Supreme Court’s Carpenter decision by four years. The state court’s prescient decision was compelled by the state’s Constitution, which provides greater protections than the United States’ Constitution.

      But no matter which Constitution was used, the court found that the Third Party Doctrine shouldn’t cover CSLI because, while everyone uses cellphones to communicate with each other, not a single cellphone user carries one around just to create tracking data for the government.

      A recent decision by the same court expands protections for cellphone users — going further than Carpenter’s protection of historical cell site location info. As the ACLU’s Kade Crockford points out, real-time acquisition of location info now comes with a warrant requirement. This covers more than service provider-assisted “pings.” It also covers one of law enforcement’s favorite toys.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How Have Saudi Students in the U.S. Been Able to Flee Back Home After Being Charged With Crimes Here? Help Us Find Out.

      In December, reporting by The Oregonian/OregonLive revealed how a Saudi student at Portland Community College was able to flee to his homeland just as he was going to trial in 2017 for striking and killing a 15-year-old girl, Fallon Smart, with his car. The student, Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, who was charged with vehicular manslaughter, posted a $1 million bond with funds provided by Saudi officials. Two weeks before his scheduled trial, he was picked up by a black SUV, ditched his tracking monitor and flew home — with help, U.S. officials believe, from the Saudi government.

      The Oregonian/OregonLive soon found four additional cases in Oregon where Saudi nationals accused of rape and other crimes vanished in recent years before standing trial or completing their sentences. The Oregonian/OregonLive subsequently found similar cases in seven additional states (Ohio, Washington, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin) and Canada. Many of the accused were here on student visas, as part of a Saudi government scholarship program that has helped tens of thousands of Saudis study in the United States in recent years.

      Now, The Oregonian/OregonLive is partnering with ProPublica to go deeper. For that, we could use your help.

    • Saudi Fugitives Accused of Serious Crimes Get Help to Flee While U.S. Officials Look the Other Way

      “It’s not that the issue of Saudi fugitives from the U.S. wasn’t important,” said retired FBI agent Jeffrey Danik, who served as the agency’s assistant legal attache in Riyadh from 2010 to 2012. “It’s that the security relationship was so much more important. On counterterrorism, on protecting the U.S. and its partners, on opposing Iran, the Saudis were invaluable allies.”

      American officials said Saudi diplomats, intelligence officers and other operatives have assisted in the illegal flight of Saudi fugitives, most of them university students, after they were charged with crimes including rape and manslaughter. The Saudis have bailed the suspects out of jail, hired lawyers to defend them, arranged their travel home and covered their forfeited bonds, the officials said.

      A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, Fahad Nazer, said that only “a small fraction” of Saudi students in the United States have gotten into legal trouble, and that Saudi officials have “strictly adhered to all U.S. laws” in helping them. “The notion that the Saudi government actively helps citizens evade justice after they have been implicated in legal wrongdoing in the U.S. is simply not true,” he said. He did not respond to questions about how a series of Saudi students had managed to return home while facing criminal charges in the United States.

      The Trump administration has deflected calls for an accounting of the Saudi government’s role in the flight of fugitives, asserting that there is little the United States can do because it has no extradition treaty with the kingdom. This week, the State Department said for the first time that it has raised the issue with senior Saudi officials, but it would not specify when or how.

    • The Earth for Their Possession

      I was in Hawaii to discuss ‘history from below’ together with that powerful practitioner of said history, scholarly abolitionist, writer, and colleague, Marcus Rediker. How is ‘history from below’ to be distinguished from similar forms of history writing, such as people’s history, radical history, labor history, social history, not to mention African American history, or women’s history? One distinction is that since ‘below’ implies ‘above,’ this practice of history always carries with it a notion of relationship as in, for example, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.” Our conversation on history from below only began on the last day of my visit, Saturday, 20 April, a week after arriving in Honolulu, a week to learn about ‘above’ and ‘below’ in Hawai’i and what lay hidden by them, the commons.

      [...]

      Some activists had journeyed to the mainland in solidarity with the water-protectors of Standing Rock. They are active in the reparations and reconciliation movement, seeking justice, seeking the location of hidden funds based on clouded land titles, organizing fund raising, nurturing the spirit of resistance. A few days earlier a riot had erupted in the prison on another island. The prisoners were awaiting trial, not even found guilty. Four men forced to inhabit cells designed for two; 24 hour lock-down; wages less than 25 cents an hour. My guides are active on their behalf: visiting, organizing petitions, fund-raisisng, and working with churches. “You can only do so many massacres,” said these advocates of nonviolent resistance. Indeed, and I could only learn so much on a morning’s drive in this most beautiful place on earth, and the most militarized part of the planet. We stopped for shaved ice.

      I departed from Honolulu on Saturday, 20 April 2019. Kaleo had told me when I arrived that it was Holy Week so according to the Christian calendar I was leaving the day after Good Friday, or the terrible crucifixion of Jesus, and the day before Easter, when the stone shutting up his mortal remains had been removed and the tomb emptied, evidence of resurrection. That Saturday morning, it happened, that Marcus Rediker and I renewed our discussion of “history from below,” the form of history expressed in our earlier collaboration, The Many-Headed Hydra. It was only towards the end of our conversation as we were making our way to the airport that it occurred to me that Saturday, or the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, had been celebrated in the Middle Ages as the day that Jesus went to hell. How fitting, I thought, for ‘history from below.’

    • Tina Vasquez on Covering Immigration, Sina Toossi on Iran Sanctions

      This week on CounterSpin: Coverage of the resignation of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen showcased imperial court intrigue, and how craven one can be and still be dubbed a “grown-up in the room.” Media interested in Nielsen’s soft landing—Will she get to make the seven-figure salary God intends for ex-officials? Will she have pleasant dining-out experiences?—might have spent more time on the victims of the policies she executed, like Laura Maradiaga, an 11-year-old girl the government is trying to deport, alone, to El Salvador, due to a backlogged court’s clerical error. The immigration beat is multi-faceted, for sure, and media choices about what to look at, who to listen to, may be impactful, as the White House looks set to make its war on immigrants a key piece of Trump’s reelection drive. We’ll talk about all that with Tina Vasquez, senior immigration reporter at Rewire.News.

    • Appeals Court Decision Upholds First Amendment Rights Of Undocumented Immigrants

      In a victory for undocumented immigrants who engage in activism, a federal appeals court found activist Ravi Ragbir had a valid claim against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which attempted to deport him in retaliation for his political speech.

      The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings on his allegations against U.S. government officials.

      “Ragbir’s speech implicates the apex of protection under the First Amendment,” the appeals court declared [PDF]. “His advocacy for reform of immigration policies and practices is at the heart of current political debate among American citizens and other residents.”

      “I cannot begin to express my gratitude to all those who have stood with us in this struggle. It humbles me to know that not only will my voice be protected, but that together we can protect the voices of so many people who are living in this country under the threat of deportation,” Ragbir said. “It was all of our voices together that made this decision possible, and we have to continue to speak out against the travesty of our deportation system.”

      Ragbir is the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City. He checked in with ICE on January 11, 2018, and has faced a “final order of removal” since 2007. But for the past years, he was allowed to stay in the U.S. with his wife and daughter (both U.S. citizens). In fact, he is from Trinidad and Tobago and has been in the U.S. for 25 years.

      Authorities detained and transferred Ragbir to a jail in Miami. It immediately sparked a protest that was attacked by New York police, who arrested several people including city council members. The protests led authorities to bring Ragbir back to the New York area, where he was eventually released.

    • Study: The ‘War On Cops’ Is Pure Bullshit

      The “War on Cops” is a belief system that’s currently being preached to the converted. Evidence abounds that it’s safer to be a cop now than it’s ever been, and yet, officers still claim they’re being targeted and use these unfounded fears to obtain military equipment and qualified immunity rulings.

      We’ve covered how safe police work is here before. But the narrative coming from the law enforcement community refuses to change, despite evidence to the contrary. Research is piling up, exposing law enforcement agencies’ claims of cops being targeted by a vengeful populace as a self-serving lie. At best, these claims are merely wrong. But given the easy access to law enforcement officer death data, a refusal to see the stats for what they are is incredibly disingenuous at best.

    • Records Requests Show Even More California Police Departments Started Destroying Records Before The Public Could Get Its Hands On Them

      More details are coming to light about California’s opacity activists. Faced with impending transparency, a handful of law enforcement agencies decided to fire up the shredders rather than risk turning over police conduct records to the public under the new public records law.

      Inglewood’s police department was given the go-ahead to shred years of responsive documents last December in a council meeting that produced no record of discussion on the matter or the council’s determination.

      Public records requests filed after the new law went into effect in January uncovered moves made by the Fremont city council to help local police rid themselves of records the public might try to request. The city lowered the retention period for officer-involved shooting records from 25 years to ten and allowed the department to destroy 45 years of police misconduct records it had decided to hold onto until it became inconvenient for it to do so.

    • California Cities Have Shredded Decades of Police Misconduct Records

      Police union lawsuits delayed many local governments from complying with a new transparency law. In the meantime, some cities have destroyed files.

    • Russian court releases anti-Putin protester who has spent a year in pretrial detention

      St. Petersburg’s Dzerzhinsky District Court released Mikhail Tsakunov from a pretrial detention center after he signed a pledge not to leave the city. Tsakunov was arrested after the “He’s Not Our Tsar” protests in May 2018.

      The photographer Georgy Markov wrote on Twitter that the state prosecutor had supported the defense’s request to transfer Tsakunov out of detention.

    • “A Shameful Week for the U.S.”: Trump Admin Guts U.N. Resolution to End Rape as Weapon of War

      The Trump administration is under fire after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution to end rape as a weapon of war on Tuesday that excluded any mention of sexual and reproductive health. The resolution was gutted after the U.S. threatened to veto the measure altogether unless language referencing reproductive health was taken out due to the Trump administration’s belief that the language was code for abortion. The watered-down measure also weakened references to the International Criminal Court, making it harder for women and girls to seek justice. We speak with Jessica Neuwirth, director of the Human Rights Program at Roosevelt House at Hunter College and the director of the Sisterhood Is Global Institute. She sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo protesting the U.S. stance on the Security Council resolution. We also speak with Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen.

    • Death Can be a Slow Traveler: Peltier, Mumia and Rap Brown

      When the history of our times is recorded, any volume on domestic political prisoners must, per force, begin with the legendary ones of conscience. To these icons of principle, determination and courage we owe much. It is, after all, not by mere default that they risked, and often paid, all to demand the gale of change sweep away generations of ignorance, hatred and greed that have long fed on communities of color and poverty, from coast to coast, in the United States. For them, it was never about personal risk for they knew all too well the price that can be exacted for such integrity. For them, the alternative of silence was simply an option without a choice.

      [...]

      After succeeding in moving the second trial to a more favorable government venue in Fargo North Dakota (long a hotbed of anti-Native animus and violence), federal prosecutor’s concocted a new strategy. Using a patchwork of evidence built of altered or suppressed testimony to remake a case already soundly rejected, prosecutors rewrote the script to now one where the agents were executed by close range gun shots to their heads. Because of this dramatic shift, Peltier was precluded from submitting any self-defense testimony. Inexplicably, the new judge also prevented the defense from establishing, at trial, that the FBI had a proven history… in Native prosecutions… of tampering with evidence and witnesses.

      Unlike the first trial, where prosecutors introduced evidence that agents had been pursuing a red pickup truck before the shootout, this time they testified they were looking for an orange and white van… such as the one that Peltier had been seen using on occasion. Likewise, while an FBI ballistic expert testified that a shell casing recovered near the agents’ bodies matched a weapon tied to Peltier, prosecutors suppressed a different ballistic test which proved the casing could not have come from his gun. These changes were part of a conscious effort by government prosecutors to convert the trial… of this high profile political and human rights activist… from a search for truth to a staged performance in which it withheld more than 140,000 pages of discovery from the defense in its desperate drive to convict Peltier no matter what the truth or the cost.

      Nowhere is the nature and extent of the government’s misconduct in the persecution of Leonard Peltier better summed up than it was by one of his appellate attorneys, former United States Attorney GeneralRamsey Clark, who branded the evidence used against him as “fabricated, circumstantial … misused, concealed, and perverted.” Different in tenor and tone, yet, essentially the same in conclusion, during one of Peltier’s appeals before the Eight Circuit his former prosecutor conceded “… we do not know who killed those agents. Further, we don’t know what participation, if any, Mr. Peltier had in it.”

    • Why Left Wing Populism Is Not Enough

      The considerable advances that the labor movements made in the period 1945–1978 (known as “The Golden Age of Capitalism”), and the considerable expansion of social, labor, and political rights that these movements achieved on both sides of the North Atlantic (North America and Western Europe), generated a response from the economic and financial establishments—as well as from the political and media establishments which they influence enormously—that had an extensive impact. These establishments developed the anti-labor movement policies, known internationally as neoliberal policies, that significantly reduced the powers of labor and weakened the rights that had been won over the previous decades.

      The data speaks for itself: labor income fell as a percentage of GDP in most of these countries at the cost of a large increase in capital income from the 1980s until now (see my book Ataque a la democracia y al bienestar. Crítica al pensamiento económico dominante. Anagrama, 2015).

      Neoliberalism (the political project of the ruling classes) thus became the hegemonic model in the Western world, both in Europe and in North America. As a result, a new story and discourse were imposed, in which concepts such as capitalist class and working class (which characterized the analysis and socialist discourse) practically disappeared from political and media language. This intellectual domain explains why the leaders of the left parties stopped using the language of classes. The concept and story of the “class struggle” disappeared, and the working class disappeared from such discourse, converted into a “middle class.” This discourse transformed the social stratification into the rich on the top, the poor on the bottom, and everyone else—the middle class—between the two. Even some authors related to the left considered and continue to consider this fact positive. Among these authors is Chantal Mouffe, who has extensively theorized about citizen protests and what she defines as populist movements.

    • This day in history: South Africa’s 1st multi-racial elections start

      Friday, 26 April, marks the 25th anniversary of the first day of the democratic elections – an election that saw the end of the previous regime.

      [...]

      Historically, the ANC won the elections and Nelson Mandela became the first democratic president of the Republic of South Africa.

      It has been 25 years since the historic start of the first democratic elections and the ANC is still in power.

      However, many have claimed that the ruling party failed to create a better future for its people and faces serious competition from the EFF, which is led by Julius Malema.

      Yet, despite believes that the ANC failed to deliver, many still stand by party. Only time would tell which party would come out victorious in the upcoming elections, which kick starts on the 8th of May.

  • DRM

    • Minnesota May Be First State To Pass A Right To Repair Law

      Minnesota appears poised to be the first state to pass “right to repair” legislation taking aim at corporate efforts to monopolize repair. The grass-roots technology movement in support of these bills began in rural America, where the draconian DRM embedded in John Deere tractors made repairing them a costly nightmare for many farmers. The movement has also been prodded along thanks to efforts from companies like Sony, Microsoft, and Apple to effectively ban third-party repair of games consoles and phones; a move that not only restricts consumer freedom and drives up consumer costs, but creates additional unnecessary waste.

      California recently became the 20th state to eye such legislation, though Minnesota appears likely to be the first to actually pass such a law. Minnesota’s law has passed through committee and awaits a vote in the Minnesota House, and if approved (which seems likely) would take effect in early 2020.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • ZyXEL stumbles again before UK courts

      In March, a judgment was passed by the High Court ruling that network device manufacturer ZyXEL must cease use of patent EP 1453 268. The owner of the patent is global licensing company TQ Delta. The court found another TQ Delta patent subject to the case, EP 1792 430, invalid.

      Both patents relate to DSL technology. Due to its importance, the technology is subject to ITU Recommendations and TQ Delta must therefore license it on a RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) basis.

      ZyXEL lodged an application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal immediately following the judgment in March. Then presiding judge Henry Carr initially refused permission for ZyXEL to appeal, stating it had “no real prospect of success”. However, ZyXEL sought permission to appeal Carr’s decision to grant an immediate injunction. The court has now rejected this and the injunction remains in place.

    • Anything Qualcomm Can Do, Huawei Can Do (Better?)

      With the settlement of the Apple-Qualcomm litigation, the fate of the FTC’s litigation against Qualcomm has become the next topic of interest in the standard-essential patent (SEP) sphere. There are a host of reasons why the FTC shouldn’t settle that relate to concerns about Qualcomm’s behavior and its impact on competition and consumers. But beyond those existing reasons, there are forward-looking concerns that should drive anyone concerned with American interests and security to hope that the FTC continues its case.

    • Trademarks

      • FanX, Previously Salt Lake Comic Con, Ordered To Pay $4 Million For San Diego’s Con’s Attorney’s Fees, Barred From Calling Itself A Comic-Con

        It’s the trademark story that simply won’t go away and in which the legal system appears to get everything wrong. The saga of the San Diego Comic-Con’s legal adventures against what was formerly the Salt Lake Comic Con (now rebranded as FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention) has been brutally frustrating. The whole thing started when the SDCC decided somewhat out of the blue to begin enforcing a trademark it had been granted for “Comic-Con” against the Utah production. The trademark original sin of this story began all the way back with the USPTO, which absurdly granted the SDCC its trademark for a purely descriptive term, one which is only unrecognizable as such due to the shortening of the second word from “convention” to “con.” Despite that, the trademark suit brought against the Salt Lake Comic Con somehow ended in a win by jury for the SDCC, which was awarded only $20k. In the trial, SLCC had pointed out several times that the term “comic-con” was both descriptive in nature and clearly had been abandoned by SDCC, evidenced by the long list of other comic conventions going by the term carried out throughout the country.

    • Copyrights

      • Today In Bananas Copyright Law: Court Urged To Rule That A Banana Costume Is Not Infringing

        That case quickly settled (so, it’s likely K-Mart just paid off Rasta Imposta to go away), but around the same time the company had sued a few other companies over similar costumes, including one operation called Kanagroo Manufacturing, for making a similar banana costume. As we had noted at the time of the Kmart case, historically, there’s been no recognized copyright in costumes, since articles of clothing are considered uncopyrightable. Except, in a truly awful Supreme Court ruling in 2017, the court swung open the door to clothing/costume copyrights, by arguing that certain elements in a piece of clothing could be considered copyrightable as “design” rather than as a “useful article” (which is not subject to copyright).

        And, thus, last year a District Court judge issued an injunction against Kangaroo Manufacturing, arguing that its banana costume likely infringed on the banana costume of Rasta Imposta. The court, not surprisingly, cites that awful Star Athletica Supreme Court ruling to argue that elements of the banana costume are separable and thus can be covered by copyright. R

      • Despite Spielberg’s ‘Get Off My Lawn’ Moment, The Oscars Won’t Ban Netflix

        A few months back Steven Spielberg had a “get off my lawn” moment in demanding that films from Netflix and other streaming services be excluded from Oscar contention. The sentiment isn’t uncommon among old-school Hollywood types who see traditional film as somehow so sacred that it shouldn’t have to change or adapt in the face of technological evolution. It was the same sentiment recently exhibited by the Cannes film festival when they banned Netflix films because Netflix pushed back against absurd French film laws (which demand a 36-month delay between theatrical release and streaming availability).

        We’ll note that shortly after Spielberg’s rant, he could be found pushing streaming services at Apple, which suggests a dash of…inconsistency in his arguments. Regardless, Academy members don’t appear swayed by Spielberg’s request, and have announced that current rules for Oscar contention will remain unchanged. More specifically the Academy will retain “rule two,” which says a film is eligible to be considered for an Oscar so long as it has a seven-day run in an Los Angeles area theater.

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