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04.28.19

Links 28/4/2019: Debian 9.9 Released, Wine 4.7 and Wine-Staging 4.7, FreeBSD 2019 Community Survey

Posted in News Roundup at 9:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Chromebooks

    • AMD Zen+ Chromebooks a Step Closer, Thanks to Google Coreboot Support

      Google has recently been working on bringing Fuchsia (a new operating system the company has been developing) and Chrome OS support to multiple AMD processors. The latest to receive support in the open source Coreboot firmware were AMD’s 7th gen Stoney Ridge APUs which were used in HP’s first-ever AMD-based Chromebooks.
      In January, AMD announced the Picasso APU series, which uses a Zen+ CPU and Vega graphics. According to recent rumors, Google was already working on adding support in Chrome OS for a reference design board called Zork that used the Picasso APU. The latest news about Picasso being supported in Coreboot reinforces the idea that we’ll soon see some Chromebooks using AMD’s latest generation of mobile APUs..

    • Will somebody make me a Chromebook with a ‘real’ graphics card? [Ed: Will you purchase a 'real' computer rather than rent one from Google (for Google to remotely control)?]

      The inclusion of packaged Linux applications for Chrome has changed that. Now, if you’re a developer who uses a Linux desktop to write, compile, and test code, a Chromebook is an excellent choice. You’ll appreciate a model with a new-ish Intel CPU and 8 or even 16 GB of RAM when it comes to doing all that, and when you’re not being productive, you have the same entertainment options through the web and Google Play that every Chromebook has. It’s a pretty sweet setup. But there’s still one piece of the puzzle missing that would make a Chromebook even better: a high-end GPU.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.0.10

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.0.10 kernel.

      All users of the 5.0 kernel series must upgrade.

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

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

    • Linux 4.19.37
    • Linux 4.14.114
    • Linux 4.9.171
    • Linux 4.4.179
    • Linux 3.18.139
    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux Foundation, ETSI Sign MOU, Promise to Harmonize Open Source Efforts [iophk: "Microsoft uses the phrase "MOU""]

        For example, ESTI has its Edge Computing group, and the Linux Foundation in January launched its own edge computing initiative called LF Edge that now serves as an umbrella organization for the foundation’s edge projects including Akraino. Additionally, ETSI has its Industry Specification Group for NFV (ISG NFV), while the Linux Foundation has several open networking projects that seem to overlap with ETSI’s efforts including OpenDaylight (ODL), Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), and Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV).

      • Open source and telco standards to play nicely [Ed: This site is conflating “open source” with Zemlin PAC (trade group of proprietary software firms)]

        The MoU is an effort to speed up the standards processes and make them more flexible, whilst adding some definition and interoperability to the open source landscape. In essence it’s about using standards processes to put some shape and interoperability into the open source projects and it’s about using open source methods to put some speed and agility into the standards process.

        As a very rough background, we got here because ETSI and 3GPP standards and specifications for NFV and MEC (seen as a subset of NFV) didn’t actually define, or in some cases attempt to define, in clear enough fashion all the functions that could help operators get an operational system going. As an example, there were overlaps and grey areas in terms of the automated management of VNFs, in virtualised infrastructure management, as well as in overall orchestration and service orchestration.

      • IoT and IIoT Applications Made Easier with Zephyr RTOS

        The Zephyr Project, hosted by the Linux Foundation, aims to build a secure and flexible RTOS for the IoT, and announced earlier this month they have achieved a new milestone with an introduction of their first Long Term Support (LTS) capabilities.

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMD’s Marek Has A Patch Helping To Reduce Gallium3D Input Lag

        The patch affects the common Gallium3D code as opposed to being RadeonSI-specific code. As of writing it hasn’t been merged to Mesa Git but we’ll see if it makes it in before next week’s Mesa 19.1.0 code branching / feature freeze.

      • An Exciting Set Of Gallium Nine Improvements Are On The Table For Mesa 19.1

        While there are just a few days left to the Mesa 19.1 development period before the code branching and feature freeze, the Gallium Nine state tracker for Direct3D 9 acceleration with Mesa drivers has a set of last minute patches.

        Axel Davy continues near single-handedly wrangling all the work around Gallium Nine for benefiting Wine-based gamers in providing faster Direct3D 9 Windows gaming performance on Linux. Just ahead of the feature freeze, he’s looking to land an exciting set of fixes and feature work.

      • NVIDIA “AltMode” Open-Source Driver Heading To Mainline Kernel With Linux 5.2

        There’s a new open-source NVIDIA driver heading to the mainline kernel with Linux 5.2, but don’t get too excited.

        The NVIDIA AltMode driver queued up for entrance into the Linux 5.2 kernel is for handling VirtualLink devices with the newest RTX Turing graphics cards that have a USB Type-C connector.

        Previously we’ve seen NVIDIA post a new i2c driver for the USB-C connections on their newest Turing graphics cards while this latest addition is a simple driver for enabling the Type-C Alternate Mode for VirtualLink devices.

      • New vRAM Helper Allows Sharing TTM Implementation Between Linux Frame-Buffer Drivers

        A patch series being worked on by Thomas Zimmermann of SUSE allows sharing the TTM memory management implementation between Linux’s different DRM frame-buffer drivers.

        The implementation allows for generic video memory management code for these simple DRM frame-buffer drivers, assuming those drivers/devices have dedicated video memory. This shared implementation helps reduce the maintenance burden of the drivers while lightening up the individual code-bases.

  • Applications

    • Top 13 Podcast Tools – best free podcast software

      A podcast is a form of digital media consisting of an episodic program downloaded or streamed over the Internet using an XML protocol called RSS. Podcast episodes can be audio radio, video files, PDFs, or ePub files. These episodes can be viewed and listened to on a number of different devices including computers, portable media players, and smartphones.

      The publisher or broadcaster podcasts the program by offering the episodes and the XML document to a web server. Whilst large media corporations are prominent publishers of podcasts, almost anyone can publish them, as often or as infrequent as they wish. Podcasts are a great way of keeping up to date with the latest news, reviews, banter, gossip, to deepen your understanding of the world we live in, and much more.

      Podcasting lets listeners automatically receive the latest episodes of their chosen programmes as soon as they are released. This operation is made very simple by using the appropriate client software. The consumer can subscribe to the podcast and automatically check for and download new episodes, or download episodes of a podcast series individually.

      To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 13 high quality open source podcast tools that offer an excellent way to manage and download podcasts. The selection includes both graphical and console based tools, software which includes built-in podcast management, as well as standalone tools, so all tastes should be catered for here.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • No need to bottle it all up as Wine 4.7 is out with an updated Mono engine and more

        For the bug fixes, they noted 34 now marked as solved. As always, some may be older bugs being re-tested that were fixed previously. Issues were solved with Star Wars The Old Republic, Watch_Dogs, SpellForce 3, Rockstar Games Social Club, Sniper Elite V2, Sniper Elite 3 and more including issues solved that affected multiple games and applications.

      • Wine-Staging 4.7 Released & Fixes An 11 Year Old Winamp Issue

        Fresh off the release of yesterday’s Wine 4.7 update, Wine-Staging 4.7 is rolling out with 830+ patches re-based on top of this code-base for running Windows games/applications on Linux/macOS.

        Beyond the mere feat of re-basing all of these patches to work against the newest upstream Wine code, there are also some new patches bundled in over the past two weeks. The highlights of the latest Wine-Staging additions include:

        - A fix for an 11 year old bug report about Winamp disappearing when you move the window. The fix is querying the X.Org Server for the actual window’s rect before unmapping it.

      • Wine 4.7 Released, How to Install it in Ubuntu 18.04

        Wine 4.7, a new development release of the open-source compatibility layer to run Windows applications on Linux, was released with new features and various bug-fixes.

    • Games

      • Open source kart racing game, SuperTuxKart, sees 1.0 release after 12 years

        The team behind indie game SuperTuxKart, an open source kart racing game, has finally announced the 1.0 release of the game following 12 years of development. The new update adds support for network races so that you can play with your friends online. Work has been done to better balance gameplay.

        The game itself is similar to Mario Kart in that you try to beat opponents in a kart race (in normal race mode) and use items to hinder their efforts. In terms of characters, the game uses mascots from popular open source projects such as Tux the Linux kernel mascot, Gnu the GNU project mascot, and Adiumy the mascot for the instant messenger client Adium.

      • Imperator: Rome from Paradox is out today with same-day Linux support (updated)

        Paradox Development Studio and Paradox Interactive have today released their latest grand strategy game Imperator: Rome, as expected it’s come with same-day Linux support.

      • X-Plane Making Vulkan Progress; Flax Engine Tacking On Vulkan In Road To Linux

        There are two separate but exciting adoption milestones for the Vulkan graphics API.

        Laminar Resarch, the makers of the realistic X-Plane flight simulator, have long been working on adding Vulkan support. Ben Supnik of Laminar shared that they’ve now been successful in getting Vulkan rendering to work with this flight simulator. They have Vulkan working across AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel graphics hardware. They are also still pursuing Apple Metal support for better macOS support/performance compared to OpenGL.

      • Road Redemption | Linux Gaming | Ubuntu 18.04 | Native

        Road Redemption running native on Linux.

      • Get ‘Gone Home’ FREE in the Humble Trove plus other deals to look out for this weekend

        Humble Bundle are currently giving away copies of Gone Home in the Humble Trove and let’s take a look at some other good deals going currently.

        Firstly, Gone Home is free to grab until May 3rd as part of the Humble Trove, a curated selected of DRM Free games that everyone who subs to the Humble Monthly has access to. The free offer doesn’t need you to sub to it though of course.

        GOG’s Weekend Sale has a few nice games available for Linux like PixelJunk Shooter (see Scaine’s thoughts on that here), Paranautical Activity Deluxe Atonement Edition, Songbringer and The Coma: Recut.

        Alien: Isolation, a fantastic horror game that was ported to Linux by Feral Interactive is also super cheap right now due to the 40th anniversary of Alien. You can find it for 75% off on Humble Store and Steam. Feral’s own store also has it on sale but not as cheap, your choice if you want to give the porter a little more.

  • Distributions

    • How to turn a Raspberry Pi into an open source media center

      OSMC is an open source media center for Linux computers that works with the Raspberry Pi. This video from ETA Prime shows you how to install and configure the software. The Air Mouse looks like a good remote control to use with OSMC.

    • New Releases

      • Parrot Security 4.6 Ethical Hacking OS Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

        After more than three months in development, the Parrot 4.6 operating system is now available with a Security edition featuring the KDE Plasma desktop environment alongside the existing MATE edition featuring the more lightweight MATE desktop environment. Both the KDE and MATE flavours are available in Home and Security editions.

        “We love MATE but we’d heard great things about KDE and decided we could try and support two desktop environments,” said Parrot Security team in the release notes. “We heard you and it is finally here! A Security edition featuring the KDE Plasma desktop environment.”

      • Parrot 4.6 Linux Distro For Ethical Hacking Released With New KDE Desktop Option

        When we talk about Kali Linux alternatives, options like Parrot Linux and BlackArch often turn out to be the top contenders. There are Windows-based options like Commando VM as well, but Linux-based ethical hacking distros are the go-to options for the security researchers.

        The Parrot Linux team recently announced the release of the latest Parrot Linux 4.6. It’s a result of three months of a rigorous development cycle. It’s a big milestone for the team as well as they’ve now shifted everything to their own infrastructure and this is the first release utilizing the same.

    • Debian Family

      • Updated Debian 9: 9.9 released

        The Debian project is pleased to announce the ninth update of its stable distribution Debian 9 (codename “stretch”). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available.

        Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 9 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old “stretch” media. After installation, packages can be upgraded to the current versions using an up-to-date Debian mirror.

        Those who frequently install updates from security.debian.org won’t have to update many packages, and most such updates are included in the point release.

        New installation images will be available soon at the regular locations.

      • Debian 9.9 Released With Many Security Updates
      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.9 Released with over 120 Bug Fixes and Security Updates

        Debian GNU/Linux 9.9 is here two and a half months after the Debian GNU/Linux 9.8 point release as yet another up-to-date installation media containing all the latest security updates and bug fixes released on the main archives. It can be used for fresh installations without downloading all updates after the installation.

        “This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems,” reads the release announcement. “Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 9 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old stretch media.”

      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.9 “Stretch” Live & Installable ISOs Now Available to Download

        Bundled with over 120 security updates and bug fixes, the Debian GNU/Linux 9.9 release is here to offers users who want to reinstall or deploy the latest Debian GNU/Linux operating system on new computers up-to-date install mediums that include all the updates released through the official repositories since the release of Debian GNU/Linux 9.8 more than two months ago.

        Debian GNU/Linux 9.9 ISOs are available as installation-only images for all supported architectures, including 32-bit (i386), 64-bit (amd64), ARM64 (AArch64), Armel, ARMhf, MIPS, MIPSel (MIPS Little Endian), MIPS64el (MIPS 64-bit Little Endian), PPC64el (PowerPC 64-bit Little Endian), and s390x (IBM System z), as well as live images only for 32-bit (i386) and 64-bit (amd64) systems.

      • Derivatives

        • antiX-19-a1-full (64 bit) available

          Our first alpha build of the upcoming antiX-19 release, based on Debian Buster.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 14.04 Reaches End of Life on April 30

            Since 2012 , each long-term support release (LTS) of Ubuntu is backed by 5 years of on-going support, security patches, and critical fixes.

            The benefit of getting on-going band-aids, bug solutions, and core packages is why Ubuntu LTS releases are the preferred choice for millions.

            But even so, that support is finite.

            After April 30, should anyone ask if Ubuntu 14.04 is still supported you can tell them that the answer is no, it isn’t.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open letter from Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Dave Eggers, Pamela Anderson and many more on behalf of imprisoned tech privacy activist Ola Bini

    Without privacy, we can’t have agency say Noam Chomsky, Pamela Anderson, Yanis Varoufakis, Arundhati Roy, Brian Eno, Dave Eggers and other global voices…

    We are 11 days into the illegal detention of Ola Bini, Swedish free software and privacy programmer. Organizations and activists around the world are speaking out about this violation of his rights.

    People working for free software and privacy should not be criminalized, there is nothing criminal about wanting privacy.

    “I believe strongly in the right to privacy. Without privacy, we can’t have agency, and without agency we are slaves. That’s why I have dedicated my life to this struggle. Surveillance is a threat to us all, we must stop it.” –Ola Bini

    Remember 4/11 as the date a Swedish national was arrested by the Ecuadorian government for no cause, obviously driven by outside forces as they had no cause to hold him and offered lie after evasion after contortion of law to friends and family in the first 48 hours.

    The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet just ran a letter to the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, signed by over 100 global voices, requesting Sweden “take firm, immediate action” toward the suffering of their citizen being illegally held in an Ecuadorian jail, sleeping on the floor without access to clean water.

  • How to use a FreedomBox running open source software to regain control of your online privacy

    As numerous posts on this blog have noted, some of the biggest threats to privacy come from Internet giants like Facebook and Google. The centralized nature of their services allows them to aggregate personal data on a huge scale, and to extract information that we never agreed to provide. Although it is only recently that the mainstream media has caught up with this development, some people were warning about this problem a decade ago.

    One such is Eben Moglen. He was General Counsel of the Free Software Foundation for 13 years, and helped draft the most recent version of the GNU GPL, the core license of the open source world. As well as being Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, he is the Founding Director of the Software Freedom Law Center. Back in 2009, I interviewed him for the now-defunct site The H Open.

  • FileZilla 3.42.0 Beta 1

    FileZilla is powerful Open Source FTP/SFTP client with many features. It includes a site manager to store all your connection details and logins as well as an Explorer style interface that shows the local and remote folders and can be customized independently. The program offers support for firewalls and proxy connections as well as SSL and Kerberos GSS security. Additional features include keep alive, auto ascii/binary transfer, download queue, manual transfers, raw FTP commands and more.

  • Open-source tool ensures quality of digital pathology images

    Researchers have devised an approach for coping with the lack of reliable standards for the preparation and digitization of tissue slides used to diagnose patients.

    Poor quality slides can result because of air bubbles and smears or during the digitization process, when blurriness and brightness issues can arise. However, manual review of these slides can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, as well as subject to intra- and inter-reader variability.

  • RCA postgraduates create open navigation system inspired by insect eyes

    A team of student designers and engineers from the RCA and Imperial College have designed an open-source alternative to GPS, called Aweigh, that does not rely on satellites.

    Instead, the device calculates a user’s position using the sun ? a feature inspired by the polarised vision of insects.

    Its student makers said that the design is similar to that of the sextant, one of the oldest known navigating tools that measures the angular distance between two visible objects, in this case the horizon and the sun.

    [...]

    The device’s custom circuit-board that reads light values to find the sun, is powered by Raspberry Pi, a tiny computer that is specifically designed to educate users about coding.

  • Spiral Scout Releases Open Source Product, RoadRunner

    Spiral Scout, a leading web design and software development company in San Francisco and Belarus, announced the launch of its second, large MIT-licensed software product, RoadRunner, following the release of their first open source PHP framework, Spiral. RoadRunner is a multithreaded PHP application server library for Golang that enhances the classic setup of PHP with a vastly improved performance capacity.

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

    Apache NetBeans is an Open Source development environment, tooling platform, and application framework that enables Java programmers to build desktop, mobile, and Web applications. The project was originally developed as part of a student project in 1996, was acquired and open-sourced by Sun Microsystems in 2000, and became part of Oracle when it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010. NetBeans was submitted to the Apache Incubator in October 2016.

  • Red Hat Steps in to Steward OpenJDK 8 and 11

    Red Hat has again stepped in to assume the stewardship of OpenJDK projects no longer supported, long-term, by Oracle.

  • Still using Java 8? Red Hat will provide long-term maintenance and support for OpenJDK 8 and 11

    Oracle’s stewardship of Java—which it acquired along with Sun Microsystems in 2010—has long been a point of contention among Java programmers and organizations deploying (or evaluating) Java in their environments. Despite Sun’s open source-friendly stance, Oracle has been less than enthusiastic about continuing Java as a fully open-source solution, a problem amplified by changes in their licensing for OpenJDK.

    The release cycle for Java, similarly, has changed under Oracle’s stewardship. While typical programming languages such as C and C++ receive modest maintenance updates every few years, Java versions, as of Java 9, are incremented every six months, with Java 11 designated as the first long-term (LTS) version of Java. The problem is, Java 8 is still the most widely-used version of Java on desktops—doubtlessly due in part to Minecraft, though a variety of enterprise applications also rely on Java 8.

  • Red Hat to empower local businesses with open source solutions

    Neeraj Bhatia said that “the open source can accelerate innovation in Bangladesh’s digital economy. Recent industry reports indicate that cloud computing adoption in Bangladesh has gained momentum in the last few years. Red Hat hopes to empower local businesses to innovate with open hybrid cloud solutions.”

  • Red Hat is spearheading the enterprise adoption of open source: Neeraj Bhatia
  • Open source use in enterprise up almost 70%

    Open source use in enterprises has increased by close to 70% in the past year, with a growing number of users regarding it as strategically important to their organisation’s overall enterprise infrastructure software strategy.

    These are among the key findings of a survey conducted by Illuminas and sponsored by open source company and new addition to the IBM family, Red Hat.

    The findings of “The State of Enterprise Open Source” survey, which involved 950 IT leaders from around the world, were published earlier this month.

  • Open architecture and open source – The new wave for SD-WAN?

    I recently shared my thoughts about the role of open source in networking. I discussed two significant technological changes that we have witnessed. I call them waves, and these waves will redefine how we think about networking and security.

    The first wave signifies that networking is moving to the software so that it can run on commodity off-the-shelf hardware. The second wave is the use of open source technologies, thereby removing the barriers to entry for new product innovation and rapid market access. This is especially supported in the SD-WAN market rush.

    Seemingly, we are beginning to see less investment in hardware unless there is a specific segment that needs to be resolved. But generally, software-based platforms are preferred as they bring many advantages. It is evident that there has been a technology shift. We have moved networking from hardware to software and this shift has positive effects for users, enterprises and service providers.

  • LIONant Properties Open Source C++ 17 Reflection System

    Tomas Arce has released LIONant Properties, an open source C++ 17 Property / Reflection system useful for games and other applications. The project is intended for developers to have a default system to use for C++ properties. Read the documentation here.

  • Kaspersky CEO: Open your source codes to win governments’ trust

    Rather than let their paranoia stew, governments concerned about security should ask technology companies to open up their systems and source codes for inspection. And with 5G networks enabling larger volumes of data to be transmitted and processed via the cloud, IT vendors increasingly will need to provide such options to allay business concerns about security.

    5G networks would drive greater connectivity, linking more devices and consumers, and send more data into the cloud, according to Eugene Kaspersky, CEO and chairman of Kaspersky Lab. Web-connected coffee machines and refrigerators would transmit information about what consumers drank and ate, and connected vehicles would offer data about how consumers moved during the day.

  • How to go open source with cloud-based file sharing

    We used Nextcloud as our open source software platform, although there are probably nearly a dozen to choose from, like ownCloud, Seafile and Syncthing, to name three. Like many open source software companies, Nextcloud makes its money by selling support contracts and enhanced management services for larger users who can pay for the peace of mind.

    The free-at-the-point-of-use plus optional-pay-for-support is clearly a business model that pays off for Nextcloud, plus, look at the multi-billion dollar acquisitions in recent years of SUSE and GitHub. Red Hat is one of the biggest names in computing today on a dollar basis, yet you can install Fedora for free and get the same platform in under an hour.

  • HiveMQ Goes Open Source, Brings MQTT and Kafka Together

    Recently announced by HiveMQ, HiveMQ Enterprise Extension for Kafka aims to integrate Kafka and MQTT to enable real-time streaming for IoT applications.

    The HiveMQ Enterprise Extension for Kafka is an implementation of the Kafka protocol for the HiveMQ broker, which enables the broker to act as a Kafka client and to stream messages coming from IoT devices to one or more Kafka clusters.

  • Drawbacks of open source networking could impede full growth [Ed: Another one of so many dumb articles that intentionally conflate "commercial" with proprietary as if to intentionally and wrongly suggest FOSS is unsuitable for commercial use. Classic FUD.]

    The large number of open source networking projects combined with powerful nonprofit foundations and a lively developer community would suggest it’s only a matter of time before these platforms begin to gain support in enterprises. After all, open source software is usually cheap, non-proprietary and quick to adapt to change.

    Open source networking also provides enormous levels of flexibility when it comes to the hardware on which you choose to run software. This gives network administrators the ability to right-size their deployment using commercialized open source appliances or purchased white box networking hardware with software they install themselves.

  • 22 open-source tools that make Kubernetes better

    Kubernetes has become a standard way—many would say the standard way — to deploy containerized applications at scale. But if Kubernetes helps us to tame sprawling and complex container deployments, what’s available to help us tame Kubernetes? It too can be complex, messy, and difficult to manage.

    As Kubernetes grows and evolves, it is likely that some of its excesses will be tamed from within. But some people aren’t waiting around for Kubernetes to get any easier to work with, and have rolled their own solutions to many common problems with Kubernetes in production.

  • 6 cool new open source projects from Netflix, Facebook, Google, and more

    In the early days of computing, programmers shared software to learn from each other and evolve. Though the open source notion gradually moved to commercialization, the attention that free software gets is significant. Netscape was a pioneer in publishing the source code for their free software suite. The Open Source Initiative (OSI) of 1998 is one of those things that happened driven by Netscape’s inspirational software. OSI then inspired developers around the world to publish open-source software and the rest is history. The open source culture encouraged collaboration among developers, which resulted in higher quality software. Audits, quick fixes, updates, and license management are better when the software is open source. Here is a list of top six cool new open source projects released over the past year.

  • Google open-sources AI image segmentation models optimized for Cloud TPUs

    Google’s custom tensor processing unit (TPU) chips, the latest generation of which became available to Google Cloud Platform customers last year, are tailor-made for AI inferencing and training tasks like image recognition, natural language processing, and reinforcement learning. To support the development of apps that tap them, the Mountain View company has steadily open-sourced architectures like BERT (a language model), MorphNet (an optimization framework), and UIS-RNN (a speaker diarization system), often along with data sets. Continuing in that vein, Google is today adding two new models for image segmentation to its library, both of which it claims achieve state-of-the-art performance deployed on Cloud TPU pods.

  • 5 Most Popular Open Source Go Projects For Beginners

    Golang is a programming language developed by Google. This statically-typed language has some additional features such as garbage collection, type safety, some dynamic-typing capabilities, a large standard library, etc. Over the last few years, the number of high-quality open source Go projects has gone up exponentially and the open source community has also embraced the programming language.

  • How Do Open Source Deep Learning Frameworks Stack Up?

    As the popularity of deep learning increases, finding application in all sorts of cases, so does the popularity of the various DL frameworks and libraries, making it difficult to choose between them. To provide an informed choice academic researchers devised and ran benchmarks.

    The results are published a a pre-print on arxiv.org with the title “A Detailed Comparative Study Of Open Source Deep Learning Frameworks”.

    [...]

    After looking at the differences between two most widely used networks the Convolutional (CNN) and Recurrent (RNN), it moves on to yet another overview, this time of the frameworks under examination, CNTK, TensorFlow and Theano.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Bleve

    This week’s highlighted open-source project, Bleve, provides modern text indexing in Go.

    The project’s main features include intelligent defaults backed by powerful configuration and supported field types such as text, numeric and date. It also includes supported query types such as term, phrase, match, match phrase, prefix and many more.

  • Koler is an open source, simple, swipe-based dialer app

    The dialer app is probably the most basic application built into the Android. It has an almost bare minimum set of features to get the job done – send and receive calls, which it does without a problem. But, third-party dialers are still popular due to various reasons, like better interface and functionality. Koler is yet another dialer application by XDA Junior Member NuclearGandhi. It is a swipe-based application, which makes it a whole lot more intuitive than any other dialer on the market. Here are all the available gestures:

  • The Case for Ethics in OpenSource

    I think that OpenSource should aim to have a code of ethics – the same way we have a code of conduct to guide our behaviour internally to a project, we should have a framework to promote discussion of people’s rights that use, interact with and are affected by our work. We should not focus on technical matters only, but should be promoting people at the core of all our work. Every decision we make is not just technical, but social.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Gab Forks Brave, Adding Bitcoin Lightning For a New ‘Free Speech Browser’

      Due to GAB’s controversial reputation of hosting objectionable content, GAB has found it difficult to find any service provider willing to host its services. The platform has therefore decided to create its own forked version of the web browser Brave, which itself is based on Chrome open-source code, to sustain its laissez-faire interpretation of free speech.

  • Databases

    • Should I Support Postgres In-House?

      I have recently completed a series of presentations to PostgreSQL User Groups in Europe and met with a number of customers to discuss their adoption of the database, writes Bruce Momjian, co-founder of the PostgreSQL Global Development Group and Senior Database Architect, EnterpriseDB.

      It is clear interest in PostgreSQL is growing among enterprise users, who are actively planning to leave traditional commercial database providers as they seek to find more agile, innovative alternatives.

      The goal is to reduce risk and complexity, but also find databases that make their organisations smarter. As they consider their PostgreSQL strategy, these European customers have a number of questions and one is worthy of more discussion, because it is relevant to the broader adoption of open source of the enterprise: “Should I support Postgres in-house?”

  • LibreOffice

    • Apache OpenOffice: The Free Open-Source Office Software Suite

      Apache OpenOffice is available in diverse languages and works well on all common computer systems. It is primarily developed for Windows, Linux, and macOS with ports to other operating systems. The default file format for this software is the OpenDocument Format (ODF), an ISO/IEC standard. However, it can also read and write an extensive variety of other file formats, with specific attention to those from Microsoft Office (i.e. DOCX, XLS, PPT, and XML). The software can be downloaded and used for any purpose and yes, it’s Free of Charge.

    • Get a Microsoft Office-style suite for free

      Before we get into the details of how to download LibreOffice, we want to tell you about Capterra, which is a great website for comparing software solutions for home and business use. Even before they became a sponsor of Komando.com, we used them ALL. THE. TIME.

      Check out how you can do side-by-side comparisons of spreadsheet programs in the screen shot below. Capterra has hundreds of software comparisons that include professional and user reviews.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • VCs just invested $8 million into this startup that gave away its software for free because they noticed how much people loved it

      The VC firm New Enterprise Associates has previously invested in buzzy open source software companies like MongoDB, Elastic, Nginx, and Databricks. So when NEA principal Julia Schottenstein saw how fast an open source business intelligence software project called Metabase was growing, she knew what NEA’s next investment had to be.

      Believing Metabase could potentially grow into a large company, she emailed Metabase founder and CEO Sameer Al-Sakran several times, with no reply. When he finally did reply, it was only a matter of weeks before NEA officially decided to invest.

      On Tuesday, Metabase announced it raised $8 million in series A funding led by NEA, and it also launched an enterprise edition of its product with features aimed at large companies.

    • MongoDB to acquire open-source mobile database Realm for $39 million

      MongoDB announced today that it is acquiring Realm, an open-source database geared for mobile applications, for $39 million. The startup had raised just over $40 million before being acquired today. Not exactly a staggering return on investment.

      It’s the kind of acquisition that makes a lot of sense from a tech perspective. Both companies are built on the premise that data is the center of application development, although they both come at it from a bit of a different angle. With Realm, Mongo gets a strong mobile solution, adding to MongoDB Mobile, and it also gets the technology, user base and engineering talent that Realm brings to the table.

      Eliot Horowitz, MongoDB co-founder and CTO, sees a company that will blend well with his. “Realm and MongoDB are a natural fit because we share a vision that when developers can interact naturally with data, they are happier and more productive, and because our products are complementary,” he wrote in a company blog post announcing the deal.

    • MongoDB to buy open-source mobile database startup Realm for £30m

      MongoDB has entered an agreement to buy realm, the company behind the Realm mobile database and Synchronization platform, for $39m (£30m) in cash.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Is Looking For Your Feedback To Guide Its Priorities

      If you are interested in FreeBSD at all, their core team of developers is hoping you will take a few minutes and participate in their survey.

      Running now for the next roughly two weeks is the FreeBSD 2019 Community Survey. They will be using the results from this survey to help guide their priorities and efforts moving forward.

    • FreeBSD 2019 Community Survey

      The FreeBSD Core Team invites you to complete the 2019 FreeBSD Community Survey. The purpose of this survey is to collect quantitative data from the public in order to help guide the project’s priorities and efforts.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

        When he was 13 years old, the age at which adolescents are entering their most awkwardly self-conscious teenage years, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Just a couple of years earlier, he had been a regular kid. Then came the cancer diagnosis at 12 and, about a year after that, the life-altering surgery to remove his right leg at the knee.

        He was kitted out with a prosthesis and, although it fulfilled its role well in terms of helping him to move, that was only a small part of the solution. “When you are a teenager, it is not that easy to cope with the way people look at you,” Debard told Digital Trends. “Often people feel sorry for you.”

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Seeing Your Homeland Closeup From Afar

    In the interests of full disclosure, I confess at the outset that Belén Fernández is a friend of mine. If she wasn’t, I’d wish she was after reading this book. Not that she’s a raconteur of travel tales at the dinner table. More likely she’s asking questions and even jotting down notes. She doesn’t do selfies and I’ve never seen her with an iPhone. In an age where MIT sociologist Sherry Turkle, who studies how people interact with technology and the effects of that on human relationships, concludes that these interactions are so prevalent that they’re starting to undermine basic human survival skills, Belén Fernández has been honing these very skills, to the extent of putting herself in some very dicey situations as she roams a dangerous, ailing planet. I doubt there’s another journalist quite like her. Even the valiant Marie Colvin had a fixed address in London. Not only that, but Fernández’s prose is so incisive, pithy, powerful, and often funny, I feel like an interloper when trying to convey her words using my own. Just offering a string of quotes might be a more effective way of reviewing this book.

    For the last fifteen years Belén Fernández has turned her back on her global superpower homeland to embrace a condition of permanent exile in some of the world’s trouble spots, made troublesome precisely by her homeland, itself a massive trouble spot and the only item on her no-go list. Not that self-banishment can be total eschewal. Fernández is well aware that her American passport is the key, “the grotesque privilege of being able to voluntarily uproot oneself”, and that she has chosen to do this “in an epoch characterized by mass forced displacement”, much of which is caused by long-standing policies of the country that has granted her the passport. And it’s not just any old passport but one sprinkled with uplifting quotes, including this: “‘The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class—it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity’ (Anna Julia Cooper, black feminist born in 1858).” The unabashed gloss of hypocrisy doesn’t gleam very bright in the places Belén Fernández inhabits.

  • 4 Killed After Construction Crane Collapses Onto Seattle Street

    Four people were killed and three wounded when a construction crane collapsed Saturday in downtown Seattle, pinning five cars underneath.

    The four were dead by the time firefighters got to the scene, the Seattle Fire Department said. Three people were transported to the hospital, the department said.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Planned Parenthood President: Trump’s “Pro-Life” Agenda Is Killing Thousands in the U.S. and Globally

      A second federal judge has blocked a gag rule that would have stripped federal funding known as Title X for Planned Parenthood and other clinics that refer patients for abortions or even mention abortion as an option. The judge’s ruling halts the rule, which was announced by President Trump in February and was scheduled to go into effect on May 3. Washington state Federal Judge Stanley Bastian ruled against the changes to Title X funding Thursday, saying they would require clinics “to face a Hobson’s choice that harms patients as well as the providers.” This came two days after an Oregon judge issued a preliminary injunction to stop the gag order from going into effect, calling the rule a “ham-fisted approach to public health policy.” Title X covers non-abortion services like STD prevention, cancer screenings and contraception, and provides over $280 million in funding for 4 million mostly low-income women every year. We speak with the president of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Leana Wen. She says the gag rule would force doctors “to compromise the oath that we took to serve our patients.”

    • Amid Fears of Federal Attack on Roe, Kansas Supreme Court Guarantees Right to Abortion in the Conservative State

      In what advocates called an “historic” victory for women’s reproductive rights, the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday ruled that women in the state have a constitutional right to abortion care regardless of federal laws.

      The 6-1 ruling would protect the rights of women in the state in the event that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that affirmed American women’s right to abortion, is overturned by the majority right-wing U.S. Supreme Court.

      “This historic decision reaffirms what we already know: attempts to undermine abortion access are unconstitutional,” tweeted the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), one of the many national groups that applauded the ruling on Friday.

    • A Lethal Industrial Farm Fungus is Spreading Among Us

      Eighty percent of U.S. antibiotics are used to promote livestock and poultry growth and protect the animals from the bacterial consequences of the manure-laden environments in which they are grown. That’s 34 million pounds a year of antibiotics as of 2015.

      The agricultural applications help generate drug resistance across multiple human bacterial infections, killing 23,000-100,000 Americans a year and, with an increasing amount of antibiotics applied abroad, 700,000 people worldwide.

      Now a fungal species, Candida auris, has developed multidrug resistance and is rapidly spreading across human populations across the globe (see figure). The CDC reports 90% of C. auris infections are clocking in resistant to one antifungal drug and 30% to two or more.

    • Corruption and Mismanagement at USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Put Consumers at Risk, Whistleblower Says

      The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which operates under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and employs more than 10,000 people, is tasked with ensuring the safety and proper labeling of U.S. meat, poultry and eggs.

      FSIS inspectors are present at over 6,200 U.S. slaughter, food processing and import facilities to check for diseased animals, compliance with the Humane Slaughter Act, bacterial contamination and the presence of antibiotic, pesticide and other residues. FSIS investigators monitor sales and distribution of finished products to prevent disease outbreaks and to help initiate recalls of contaminated products when they occur.

      The agency’s No. 1 job is to protect consumers. Yet according to a compliance operations official who worked at FSIS for many years, internal corruption, mismanagement, low morale and undisguised conflicts-of-interest within the agency often prevent FSIS inspectors and investigators from doing their jobs. It’s a public health crisis “just waiting to happen,” the official told us, on condition of anonymity.

      Moreover, large meat producers like Cargill, Tyson, Smithfield, Swift (JBS) and Sanderson Farms are often given a “pass” thanks to their high-paid lobbyists: “The same misbranding or adulteration of product that would force an immediate recall from a small, ‘Ma and Pa’ company is overlooked with big meat companies,” says the official.

    • How Obama Defanged the EPA Before Trump Gutted the Agency

      It was a tumultuous tenure, productive by some accounts, lackluster by most, but one thing is for certain, Lisa Jackson’s short time as administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency was anything but dull. On December 27, 2012 the often-fiery Jackson announced she was not going to return for a second term, and it is surely not difficult to see why she’s fleeing her post.

      Since President Obama was ushered into office in 2008, the EPA has consistently faced ridicule and criticism from corporate polluters and their greedy allies in Washington. On virtually every occasion Obama refused to side with Jackson’s more rationale, often science-based positions, whether it was cleaning up the air or forcing the natural resource industries to abide by existing regulations. Ultimately, the EPA is only as formidable as the White House allows it to be, and on Obama’s watch the agency has not received the support it has desired or deserved.

      Take the case of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Even though those three horrible months watching oil spew into the Gulf have seeped out of our collective memory, the BP disaster is one of the largest stains on Jackson’s four-year stint at EPA. Soon after the underwater blowout, Jackson, a New Orleans native, demanded BP halt their use of the toxic dispersant Corexit 9500 to clean up their gushing mess. She took a tough line against a company that had gotten away with far too much for too long.

    • Dying Healthcare Activist Ady Barkan to Testify at Congress’s First-Ever Medicare for All Hearing

      After progressives raised concerns about the people invited to testify next week at Congress’s first-ever hearing on Medicare for All, dying healthcare activist Ady Barkan announced Friday that he has joined the witness list.

      “Progressives have a plan to fix the American healthcare system once and for all,” Barkan said in a statement. “It will take immense effort and teamwork for me to attend this hearing, but that is what is required—from me and thousands of other healthcare heroes—to deliver us the change that the American people deserve.”

      Barkan, who is battling terminal ALS, will travel from his home in California to Washington, D.C. with two full-time caregivers. He plans to address the U.S. House Rules Committee next Tuesday morning “using a computer system that tracks his eye movements and subsequently converts text into speech,” according to a statement from Be A Hero, the political group he founded.

      While calling out GOP lawmakers and corporations that oppose legislation designed to guarantee healthcare as a human right for all Americans, Barkan thanked Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-Mass.) for the invitation to speak Tuesday as well as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and others “for their decades of leadership” in the fight for a more just system.

    • Asbel Kiprop: Police seek to disarm disgraced Olympic champion

      The world of former Olympic 1,500 metres champion Asbel Kiprop seems to be getting murkier with his employers, the National Police Service, now tracking down the disgraced athlete after he took to social media threatening to use his firearm to “seek justice.”

      A senior police official in Eldoret said they are tracking down the athlete, who has been suspended for using banned performance-enhancing substances, after he took to social media to vent his frustrations.

      In a sensational tweet Kiprop, 29, dared his National Police Service employers to sack him and withdraw his firearm before he uses it to “earn justice.”

      The constable also dared the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the world athletics governing body, to take all the medals he won in global competitions where he specialises in the 1,500 metres race.

    • Is It Time to Take the Abortion Battle Hyperlocal?

      Whether or not the Supreme Court decides to uphold Roe v. Wade and keep abortion legal in every state, it’s an undeniable fact that abortion access has been decimated across the country. For more than half of U.S. states, the clinics that do remain are located in just a handful of cities, leaving most of the state without any provider at all.

      Prior to 2016 and the resurgence of a national anti-abortion push, the right was heavily invested in this city-by-city targeting. A few of the more extreme groups even tested out city-based resolutions or bans to see if it was possible to wage hyperlocal attacks on abortion rights, even while the state itself kept the procedure legal.

      But this strategy didn’t prove very successful. In 2013 a Bakersfield city council resolution to ban abortion at the point of conception failed when the city became nervous about paying for the legal costs to defend it. That same year a referendum to ban abortion at 20 weeks in Albuquerque, New Mexico — home of one of the few remaining clinics offering third trimester abortions — failed to get enough public votes to pass.

      But is it possible that abortion rights activists could have more success by trying this same city-by-city effort in order to protect access? That’s a question being tested out in Ohio.

  • Security

    • Marcus Hutchins Stopped a Global Cyberattack. Now He Deserves a Pardon.

      In May 2017, a cyberattack called WannaCry infected hundreds of thousands of [Windows] computers across 150 countries. Among the victims: FedEx, the French carmaker Renault, the Russian Interior Ministry and Britain’s National Health Service. The effect on the health service was particularly devastating: ambulances were diverted, patient records were inaccessible, surgical procedures were canceled, telephone calls could not be received.

      In the midst of all of this, Marcus Hutchins, then a 22-year-old British security researcher, stumbled upon a “kill switch” in the WannaCry code — and slammed the brakes on a global crisis. “The kill switch is why the U.S. hasn’t been touched so far,” one expert told The Times then.

    • Here’s how Internet of Things malware is undermining privacy

      A more general problem is that once an attacker is inside a home network, whether through vulnerabilities in a router or a camera, for example, it is possible that other IoT devices on it will be open to attack. Sometimes devices are abused not by external actors that have by-passed security measures, but by the very people who installed them. For example, the F-Secure report mentions how IoT devices are increasingly being used against victims of domestic abuse. The New York Times reported on this worrying trend last year, noting that “Abusers – using apps on their smartphones, which are connected to the internet-enabled devices – would remotely control everyday objects in the home, sometimes to watch and listen, other times to scare or show power. Even after a partner had left the home, the devices often stayed and continued to be used to intimidate and confuse.”

      Even though poor security and abuse of IoT systems are a serious and growing problem, legal remedies are slow in coming. One of the most forward-looking moves comes from the UK government. Last October it released a Code of Practice for consumer IoT security, which contains a number of important ideas, notably that the security of personal data should be protected. But the Code of Practice is purely voluntary, which means that its impact will be limited.

    • Windows 10 updates – One small step for man, one big …

      You may feel this article is all over the place – but it’s not. It’s a culmination of about four years of a process that ended up being rather superfluous. Automatic – and forced – updates did not yield better quality, stability or security to Microsoft Windows users, something the vendor has acknowledged and is gradually rolling the clock back from agile to awesome. In this regard, there are almost no documented cases where giant corporations admitted mistakes and managed to steer themselves to a different track. So this is hugely important, no matter what you think or feel about Microsoft.

      That said, there’s still a lot more to be done to regain the legendary quality of yore – and also restore the user trust. Updates are a first step on that journey. For me, the end will have been achieved when I realize I need not make any changes to the system defaults ever again. And if Microsoft plays their card right, they can win big here. Because mobile systems are all about being closed and locked with little to no user control, so Microsoft has the opportunity to do the opposite. We’re not there yet, the hope is strong, the perils high. But for now, as far as Windows Updates are concerned, it’s a step in the right direction. One small step for man one giant leap for … whatever.

    • How to update the nmap database
    • Bilibili source code containing user names and passwords leaked on GitHub

      A repository containing a large number of user names and passwords for Chinese video-streaming site Bilibili was found on open-source software development platform GitHub, Chinese media reported on Monday.
      The repository, called “Bilibili website backend codes,” has been taken down by GitHub “due to excessive use of resources,” said the company. It contained more than 50 megabytes of source code, according to a Reddit post dated Monday. A key opinion leader (KOL) on microblogging site Weibo posted two screenshots of the leaked codes, which has since been taken down. One screenshot shows the redacted username and password for a Bilibili user.

    • Open Source and botnets – we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto [Ed: This does not describe an issue with Free/Open Source software but with devices whose developers leave open ports with identical passwords across all devices etc.]=

      In a recently released blog article, Tom Bienkowski says, without question, open-source software has been a boon to developers everywhere.

      “Once viewed as a kind of anarchy in the commercial software world, its early proponents have long since been vindicated, as open source gained mainstream respectability on the strength of popular platforms like Linux, Apache and Firefox. Commercial developers have widely embraced open-source components for their flexibility, cost savings, and the support of the vast open-source community.

      “As with so many technology success stories, however, there’s a dark side to open source as well. The core principle of open source is that it is made freely available to anyone for any purpose – in most cases, with wholly benign intentions. But not always.”

      Hamman says that by the end of 2017, around 27 billion IoT devices had been connected and it is this rush to connect everything and unlock the power of collected data that has seen security become a bit of an afterthought.

    • Unpatched ModSecurity CRS vulnerabilities leave web servers open to denial-of-service attacks

      A clutch of unpatched vulnerabilities in ModSecurity’s OWASP Core Rule Set has left potentially thousands of web servers open to denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

      ModSecurity is a popular open source web application firewall (WAF) that’s designed to help stop attacks or unwanted behavior against applications by monitoring all HTTP traffic in real time.

      The tool works through the implementation of WAF rules. Security professionals can create their own custom rules or deploy existing libraries, such as the free-to-install OWASP Core Rule Set.

    • Security Landscape of the Docker Ecosystem and Best Practices [Ed: Sergio De Simone feeds the malicious FOSS FUD form Snyk, whose sole activity is badmouthing FOSS and partnering with Microsoft]
  • Defence/Aggression

    • 3 children shot as police open fire on alleged robbery suspect

      Three children were injured as police in Oklahoma opened fire on a robbery suspect Friday evening.

    • The Yemen Project: Announcement – bellingcat

      Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins said, “Over the last several years Bellingcat has led the way in developing the use of online open source investigation. With this new project, we take it to the next level, taking everything we’ve learned and, with the help of GLAN, turning it into a groundbreaking process for archiving and investigation.”

    • IS conflict: Coalition strikes on Raqqa ‘killed 1,600 civilians’

      More than 1,600 civilians were killed in US-led coalition air and artillery strikes during the offensive to oust the Islamic State group from the Syrian city of Raqqa in 2017, activists say.
      Amnesty International and monitoring group Airwars said they had carried out investigations at 200 strike locations and identified 1,000 of the victims.
      They urged the coalition to “end almost two years of denial” about such deaths.
      The coalition says there were 180 civilian casualties in its campaign.
      Commanders say all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties were taken in those cases and that the decisions to strike complied with the law of armed conflict.

    • A New Socialist Movement Must Oppose Both Capitalism and Imperialism

      Spurred on by the global justice movement of the late 1990s, and the U.S. invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, Marxists like David Harvey and Ellen Meiksins Wood have produced a flowering of theorization about capitalism and imperialism. Author William I. Robinson has been a key contributor to this new body of work, in particular with his books A Theory of Global Capitalism and Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Humanity.

      His latest collection of essays, Into the Tempest: Essays on the New Global Capitalism, is a provocative and accessible summary of his argument that globalization — which he calls the “master process of our age” — has ushered in a new epoch of capitalism. He contends that this epoch was born out of the global recession the system underwent in the 1970s.

      Up until then, capitalism was a world economy divided up into hierarchically organized national economies, dominated by great imperial powers like the U.S. To overcome the recession, corporations broke out of that national framework in search of cheap labor, resources and markets. Over the subsequent decades, transnational corporations established a new global system of production, finance and services.

      In the process, Robinson argues, a new fraction of capital emerged: a transnational capitalist class that is not tied to any particular nation-state. Their corporations run global assembly lines, their boards are made up of executives from many different countries, and they advocate common ideologies and policies of neoliberal globalization.

    • Disrupting Elliott Abrams

      Elliott Abrams, the U.S. State Department Special Representative for Venezuela, delivered the keynote speech at the Atlantic Council’s event “Venezuela After Maduro: A Vision for the Country’s Future.”

      See the entire 1 hour 26 min. Atlantic Council video here.

      Following are several clips of what Abrams had to say, followed by our commentary. The best part of the event occurred when the brilliant CODEPINK activist, Ariel Gold interrupted the vicious neo-conservative at 25:38:

      “It should not be up to you to determine the future of Venezuela. How dare you orchestrate a coup in Venezuela! How dare you impose economic sanctions that harm the people of Venezuela! How dare you!”

      Abrams had no choice but to pause while the truth was spoken.

      Click here to see Ariel’s brave action.

      Abrams (in quotes) “Venezuelans deserve to hear our views not only about today’s Venezuela but also about tomorrow’s… Very few countries have ever seen such a political, social, and economic calamity befall them after decades of democracy and prosperity.”

    • ‘Nowhere to Run To’

      It had found me. The mini-Moloch that used to chase me around Lebanon had followed me to the States, except now it was all grown up and really pissed. How could this happen?

      One minute, you’re taking a leak, your tendency toward idle contemplation in such instances leading you to ponder why James Earl Jones’s baritone voice is so often described as “commanding.” And the next minute, you’re sitting in front of the television watching CNN. Not because of James Earl Jones’s commanding way of saying “This…is CNN,” but because, while flipping through the channels, you come across a vaguely familiar high-rise building with a large hole in it, from which smoke is billowing.

      I knew it was an attack as soon as I saw that building, despite the fact that the people on TV kept going on about a “tragic accident.” I also knew, instinctively, who―or pretty much who―had carried it out. The first thought to enter my mind concerned my former friend Khaled. You fool, if only you’d waited, you’d have found yourself in precisely the situation you longed for. How not, with Arabs and Muslims in the States surely about to enter an era in which the burden of proof would fall on them to prove their humanity?

      When the second plane hit, thoughts of fleeing, of just grabbing a bag and jumping in the car and driving away like some sort of fugitive, invaded my mind. But I had nowhere to run to. No Ashrafieh if skirmishes broke out in Hamra, no Brummana if Ashrafieh blew up. America was thousands of times larger than Lebanon, but because it was a real country as opposed to a patchwork of distinct and feuding localities, and because the now giant Moloch, as ravenous for human life as ever, had devoured so many people with just one bite, someone like me, whose appearance betrayed a shared geographic if not ethnic origin with the bloodthirsty ogre, could not hide anywhere.

    • What’s Driving Bolton’s Attacks on the “Troika of Tyranny”?

      If you’re in the market for a troika of tyranny, Donald Trump, John Bolton, and Mike Pompeo certainly fit the bill. Or, if you’d rather focus on countries not individuals, you might single out Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt as the three most likely candidates. Perhaps, if you’re in a confessional mood, how about Christian fundamentalism, Jewish extremism, and Salafist Wahhabism?

      A troika, for those who haven’t read any 19th-century Russian novels recently, is a carriage drawn by three horses. So, the ultimate troika of tyranny, from the point of view of the planet as a whole, would feature the three horsemen of the ongoing apocalypse: climate change, nuclear proliferation, and global pandemic.

      But no, that’s not what National Security Advisor John Bolton had in mind when he talked last week of a “troika of tyranny.” In a rehash of a speech he gave in November in Miami, Bolton declared last week that the “troika of tyranny — Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua — is beginning to crumble.” Further laying on the insults, Bolton called Cuba’s Miguel Díaz-Canel, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega “the three stooges of socialism.”

      Ever since George W. Bush included Iraq, Iran, and North Korea in an “axis of evil,” speechmakers have been in search of the holy grail of geopolitical matchmaking (for instance, Condoleezza Rice’s “outposts of tyranny”).

      Bush’s phrase, which proved so enduring, was an extraordinarily flawed piece of work. The three countries he grouped together had little to no relationship at the time. Iraq and Iran had fought a nearly decade-long war that left them bitter regional rivals. North Korea, which has no ideological affinity to either country, was probably included in the list so that it didn’t appear anti-Islamic. This particular axis didn’t have a leg to stand on.

    • What the UK’s Labour Party Can Teach Democrats About Internationalism

      One year ago, the UK Labour party released its guiding manifesto on international development.

      Written by then Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Kate Osamor, the brief, accessible manifesto overturns the dominant neoliberal development model and replaces it with a bold, progressive vision of “A World For The Many, Not The Few.”

      Though far from perfect, A World For The Many is an extraordinary document to come from the largest political party in western Europe. As Democratic presidential hopefuls stake out their own policy positions and fight to prove their progressive credentials, they would do well to consult the Labour manifesto.

      There has long been a bipartisan consensus on international development. Development policy is about stimulating private sector-led economic growth. This is achieved through private investment, charitable aid, and pressure to adopt “Washington Consensus” policies of austerity, privatization, and market fundamentalism.

      While conservatives and liberals may debate the extent of “pro-market” reforms, the ideal size of the aid budget, or which new fad is the development magic bullet, they widely agree on the basic premise.

      A World For The Many offers a different approach. Global poverty exists not because some countries simply failed to grow, but because unequal global political structures systematically hold the vast majority down to the benefit of the few. Properly considered, development — if it is even to be called that — should be about replacing these structures for a fairer world.

    • Turkey: Revenge of the Kurds

      After 18 years of unchallenged power and success, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suddenly finds himself in the middle of several domestic and foreign crises with no obvious way out. It is unfamiliar ground for a master politician who has moved nimbly from the margins of power to the undisputed leader of the largest economy in the Middle East.

      His problems are largely of his own making: an economy built on a deeply corrupt construction industry, a disastrous intervention in Syria and a declaration of war on Turkey’s Kurdish population. All of these initiatives have backfired badly. In the Mar. 31 local elections, Erdogan’s conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost control of all of Turkey’s major cities, including the country’s political center, Ankara, and the nation’s economic engine, Istanbul. The latter contributes more than 30 percent of Turkey’s GNP.

      That is not to say that the man is down and out. The AKP is demanding a re-run of the Istanbul election and is preventing the progressive mayors of several Kurdish cities in Turkey’s southeast from assuming office. Erdogan is not a man who shies from using brute force and intimidation to get his way. Close to 10,000 of his political opponents are in prison, hundreds of thousands of others have been dismissed from their jobs, and opposition media is largely crushed. The final outcome of the election is by no means settled.

      But force will only exacerbate Erdogan’s problems.

      The Kurds are a case in point. When the leftist Kurdish-based People’s Democratic Party (HDP) made a major electoral breakthrough in 2015—winning 81 seats in the Parliament and denying the AKP a majority—Erdogan responded by ending peace talks with the Kurds and occupying Kurdish towns and cities.

    • The Style Section Meets State Craft: Amal Clooney and the Foreign Policy Influencers

      Even on a slow news day, the appointment of Amal Clooney as UK Special Envoy for Press Freedom wouldn’t have elicited much more than a glance at a headline to a gossip column item of little relevance to anyone outside her immediate circle of Royals, war criminals, and fashion editors. After all, the once globetrotting lawyer and now jet setting campaigner is no stranger to the honors and accolades handed out to her by the lofty institutions who gain from currying her favor, or her movie star husband’s.

      Whatever the mission, Madame De Clooney can be counted on to don magisterial robes over a fashion forward ensemble in this season’s palette of scorched earth tones in keeping with her carefully crafted image of a justice-dispensing fashion warrior. You might sum up her role in world affairs as “The Style section meets State Craft”.

      “Even in stilettos, Ms Clooney flits effortlessly from The House of Lords to La Maison Du Dior. The world stage is her catwalk and her long, brisk stride takes her from a refugee camp one day to a glittering fundraiser the next. . . ”

      If you have been Keeping Up with the Klooneys, you would know that (K)amal singlehandedly resolved a crisis in Darfur just hours before hosting the Met Ball, and successfully delivering twins by Caesarian section that very morning. By now, you might have noticed that your squalid life doesn’t quite measure up to Lady Clooney’s blessed existence. Chances are you didn’t wake up this morning next to a beautifully unshaven Hollywood legend in your palatial Italian villa and successfully re-negotiated the Magna Carta as you got the twins off to their Lake Geneva nursery retreat. Clearly, George Clooney did well by trading up a string of baristas (and a pet pig) for a single barrister. Say what you will about the lifestyle of the rich and famous humanitarian, but let’s see you condemn ISIS in several dozen languages, while gazing prettily at the chief architects of the present mayhem playing out over much of the Middle East.

    • Anti-Satellite Weapons Versus National Security: Part One

      From Mr.Modi’s pronouncements it is evident that he was trying to address two different audiences: one domestic and the other international. In attempting to do so, Mr.Modi was actually indulging in doublespeak: he is desperate to prove to his domestic audience that he is a hawk while at the same time pretending before the rest of the world that he is a dove. To his domestic audiences, he loudly proclaims that India has turned into a space superpower by catapulting into the star-wars club and accordingly tries to instill in Indians the belief that India’s new self-ordained status as a hawkish nation is a matter of national pride. To his international audiences, he wishes to project India as a conciliatory and peace loving nation and tries to assure the world at large that India’s new weapon is not targeted at anyone. Similarly, Mr. Modi wishes to project the ASAT weapon system as a weapon of defense, whereas the truth is that the ASAT system is an entirely offensive weapon system that is intended only to destroy its target. It is incapable of providing protection to anyone or anything because of its inherent nature as a weapon that is launched from Earth to destroy a predetermined target in space. ASAT weapons can destroy satellites of one’s adversaries or one’s own; they cannot shield a single Indian satellite from being a target of attack. The assertion that deployment of ASAT weapons can protect Indian satellites and other assets in space is, thus, a completely false and misleading claim. Under the circumstances, how could the ASAT weapon system, which is incapable of safeguarding a single Indian satellite in outer space, provide protection to 1300 million Indians? Such absurd claims are only intended to hoodwink Indians in order to elicit their support for the mindless attempt of Mr.Modi’s government at weaponization of outer space.

    • Continual Confrontation in the South China Sea

      In a display of groveling sycophancy the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has decided to name an illegal Jewish settlement in the occupied Golan Heights after Donald Trump. (Trumpen-lebensraum, perhaps?) This follows an equally bizarre proposal by Poland’s President Duda to call a US military base Fort Trump, which The Economist observed “struck many Poles as toe-curlingly crass”. It is intriguing to speculate on what might come next. Perhaps the Pentagon will suggest renaming a South China Sea islet in his honor. One choice could be Mischief Reef in the Spratly Island chain, where the US Navy regularly disports itself in “routine and regular freedom of navigation operations.”

      Freedom of Navigation is most important, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea lays down that “The high seas are open to all States, whether coastal or land-locked. Freedom of the high seas is exercised under the conditions laid down by this Convention and by other rules of international law.”

      The generally accepted definition of freedom of navigation is “the right recognized in international law especially by treaties or agreements for vessels of one or all states to navigate streams passing through two or more states.”

      The United States is the self-appointed guardian of the Seas, and declares it “will exercise and assert its navigation and overflight rights and freedoms on a worldwide basis in a manner that is consistent with the balance of interests reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention.” There is a problem with this, in that the US Senate refuses to ratify the Convention, which makes nonsense of the constant threats by Washington that everybody must obey it or there will be the United States to reckon with, in the shape of the US Navy which roams the seas with its eleven aircraft carriers, 9 amphibious ready groups (more accurately, strike squadrons), 22 cruisers and 66 destroyers with, down below, some seventy submarines. Nuclear weapons abound, but nobody knows which surface vessels carry them (except the intelligence services of China and Russia), because it is policy to “neither confirm nor deny” if nuclear weapons are on board.

      It is remarkable that the only national leader ever to have publicly condemned the “neither confirm nor deny” rule was New Zealand’s Prime Minister David Lange in 1984 when he “barred the visit of the American Navy destroyer Buchanan after Washington refused to say whether it was nuclear-armed or not.” The US then demonstrated its maturity and “suspended naval maneuvers with New Zealand and stopped sharing intelligence information with it” and cancelled a high level security conference. Lange showed his disdain for such antics when speaking at a farewell dinner for the US ambassador, H Monroe Browne, in 1986. The ambassador, as with so many US heads of mission, was a rich man who had bought his appointment, and he owned a racehorse called Lacka Reason, about which Lange observed that “You are the only ambassador in the world to race a horse named after your country’s foreign policy.”

      Which brings us to Washington’s shenanigans in the South China Sea.

    • “I Hope You’re Happy”: In Middle of NRA Speech, Trump Signs Order to Withdraw From Global Arms Treaty

      “I hope you’re happy,” Trump told the crowd gathered at the NRA’s annual convention in Indianapolis as he signed a letter asking the Senate to stop the treaty ratification process.

      The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was negotiated at the United Nations and signed by former President Barack Obama in 2013, but Congress never ratified the agreement.

      Adotei Akwei, deputy director for advocacy and government relations for Amnesty International USA, warned in a statement that the president’s move could open the “floodgates for arms sales with weakened human rights criteria, which could potentially fuel brutal conflicts and make everyone less safe.”

      “This announcement is a misguided blow to efforts to promote international peace and security,” said Akwei. “As the biggest arms exporter, the U.S. signature to the ATT was an important step towards ensuring that dangerous weapons stay out of the wrong hands.”

    • How Chicago Police Infiltrated, Spied on Anti-NATO Organizers

      Mealer justified the infiltration by saying that the “investigation of CANG [sic] is necessary to acquire event information from members and participants of CANG8 that might not be shared directly with the city by the organization leaders or its members” – even though CANG8 had filed for permits for its protest.

      Mealer further claimed that the infiltration was necessary because “The anti-war protest by the same organizer [Andy Thayer, signer of the 2012 permit application] on March 20, 2003, resulted in actions that resulted in numerous arrests and stresses on city services due to the event.”

      The Commander was referring to the 10,000-strong march on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive at the start of the 2nd U.S. invasion of Iraq. About an hour later Chicago Police kettled the remaining demonstrators and passersby on Chicago Avenue, carrying out the largest mass arrest in the city’s history. All of the charges against the demonstrators and passersby were later dropped in a manner indicative of innocence.

      In June 2012 the City settled a class action civil rights suit filed by the 2003 demonstrators for $6.2 million, with an additional $4.8 million in attorneys’ fees and costs going to the demonstrators’ lawyers, most of whom were members of the National Lawyers Guild.

    • Iraq War Vet Drove Car Into Crowd He Thought Were Muslims, Police Say

      An Iraq War veteran deliberately drove into a group of pedestrians because he thought some of the people were Muslim, California authorities said Friday.

      Isaiah Joel Peoples, 34, faces eight counts of attempted murder for injuring eight people, including four who remain hospitalized. The most seriously injured is a 13-year-old Sunnyvale girl of South Asian descent who is in a coma with severe brain trauma.

      “New evidence shows that the defendant intentionally targeted the victims based on their race and his belief that they were of the Muslim faith,” Sunnyvale police chief Phan Ngo said.

      Peoples appeared briefly in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Friday. He did not enter a plea and is being held without bail.

      The former U.S. Army sharpshooter experienced post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq, his family said. Peoples’ attorney, Chuck Smith, said Friday that the crash was in no way deliberate.

      “This act was clearly the product of some mental disorder or mental defect,” Smith said after the hearing.

    • Jesse Helms Rides Again

      In declaring Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela America’s latest “axis of evil,” and implementing Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, Donald Trump has once again demonstrated his commitment to undoing Barack Obama’s presidency—even if it means harming U.S. interests.

      Named after far-right North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms and his co-sponsor, Republican Congressman Dan Burton, the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1995 sought to strangle the Cuban revolution by tightening the United States’ economic blockade while simultaneously incentivizing other countries to impose sanctions on the island nation. But there was one especially damaging section of the bill that then President Bill Clinton had failed to remove: Title III.

      Clinton ultimately recognized that this section took the United States’ economic warfare a step too far, precluding U.S. citizens, residents and companies from trading with Cuba. It also declared that no other country could do the same without facing economic reprisals.

    • Ireland and India – Conflict and Commonality

      During one of many rebellions against British colonial rule in India he led a famed assault on Delhi. That was what became known as the Indian Munity of 1857. During the attack my townsman met his comeuppance, was wounded and died soon after.

    • Shakespeare Talks about Peace

      April 23 is the day the world celebrates what is thought to be Shakespeare’s day of birth, and then 52 years later, definitely his day of death, and also the celebration of St. George, the patron saint of England. I like to remember Will. Not only is he one of the greatest English writers of all time with one of the largest bodies of work, but he also makes sense of life and relationships and ideas. The plays really have something to say to us even in the twenty-first century.

      Throughout most of the play Hamlet, the title character Prince Hamlet berates himself for not avenging his father’s death. His father, the Ghost, has told him of his murder, but Hamlet values life and will not jump to revenge. He tries to discern the truth. By Act Four, in the Norwegian subplot, Hamlet learns that Fortinbras, the young leader of the Norwegians, is marching across Denmark to attack a part of Poland that is worth nothing and will not even be large enough to bury the dead who are killed in the battle.

    • Russian Agent Maria Butina Sentenced to 18 Months for Conspiracy

      Maria Butina, a Russian who admitted to secretly working for the Kremlin to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups, was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison.

      Butina has been jailed since her July 2018 arrest and had asked for a sentence of time served. But U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan imposed a sentence that would require Butina to spend an additional nine months behind bars, before being deported.

      Chutkan said the sentence was meant “to reflect the seriousness of (Butina’s actions) and to promote deterrence.”

      Butina’s lawyers decried the judgment as overly harsh; they had characterized Butina as a naive but ambitious international affairs student who simply didn’t realize her actions required her to register as an agent of a foreign government.

      “I feel terrible for Maria’s family … I wish we could have done more to get her out sooner,” said attorney Robert Driscoll. “I do not believe an additional nine months in jail serves any purpose.”

    • Sri Lanka Militants Set Off Bombs During Raid, Killing 15

      Militants linked to Easter suicide bombings opened fire and set off explosives during a raid by Sri Lankan security forces on a house in the country’s east, leaving behind a grisly discovery Saturday: 15 bodies, including six children.

      The gun battle that began Friday night and the carnage that followed come amid widespread fear of more attacks as officials hunt for militants with explosives believed to still be at large after the coordinated bombings of churches and luxury hotels that killed more than 250 people nearly a week ago.

      Raids and police curfews have shut down areas of eastern Sri Lanka, and Catholic leaders have canceled Sunday Masses indefinitely. Officials also urged Muslims to stay home for prayers in an extraordinary call by the clergy to curtail worship.

    • Robin Yassin-Kassab and the Aleppo Revolution that Never was

      Robin Yassin-Kassab has distinguished himself as one of Britain’s leading regime-change propagandists. Whether it’s Libya, Syria or Venezuela, Mr. Yassin-Kassab can be handsomely relied upon to supply the clever and poetic armoury to push forward narratives to facilitate Western imperialism militarily overhauling a nation-state not to its predisposition. For most of the last decade, Syria was his favoured target for spewing regime-change propaganda.

    • Oliver North Says He Won’t Serve 2nd Term as NRA President

      Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North said Saturday that he will not serve a second term as the president of the National Rifle Association amid inner turmoil in the gun-rights group.

      In a statement read to members of the group Saturday, North said he believes a committee should be set up to review the NRA’s finances. North was not present at the meeting when the statement was read by Richard Childress, the NRA’s first vice president.

      “There is a clear crisis and it needs to be dealt with” if the NRA is to survive, North’s statement said.

      His announcement came after an effort by some members to force out top executive Wayne LaPierre, who has long been the public face of the group.

      LaPierre sent a letter to board members Thursday saying that North was trying to push him out by threatening to release “damaging” information about him to the board.

      North, best known for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, is nearing the end of his first one-year term. His announcement that he will not serve a second term is a clear sign that his efforts to force out LaPierre have failed.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Netizen Report: If protecting your privacy is ‘part of a conspiracy,’ then we’re all in big trouble

      On April 11, two arrests were made in cases that could set game-changing legal precedents threatening online privacy and free speech protections.

      The first case made headlines worldwide: Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange was arrested by British police at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had lived since 2012.

      Legal and ethical debates about the impact of material released on WikiLeaks — troves of classified documents that have affected the rise, fall and floundering of multiple governments around the world — alongside sexual assault allegations against Assange, have resurfaced in public debate since his arrest. But these are not new.

    • What’s Really Behind Julian Assange’s Arrest

      The recent arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has provoked a wide spectrum of responses in the media, but many journalists seem to recognize the Trump administration’s attack on the publisher as setting a dangerous precedent for freedom of the press. Many reports have focused on what Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer deems a mischaracterization of Assange’s character that is used to justify a heinous persecution and bury the fact that Assange, in his publishing of news, has acted much like any newspaper.

      “It’s kind of a shame that we have to say, put in this disclaimer, ‘whatever you think of Julian Assange,’ ” the Truthdig editor in chief tells his guest, Bruce Shapiro, in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence.” “Because of course, any whistleblower is going to be attacked, and it’s the traditional argument of shooting the messenger. […] Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning more spectacularly […] distributed at least 700,000 military, war and diplomatic records. And there is no question of the news value of those records, the right of the public to know that information, the need of the public to know that information. There has not been one documented example of an injury or death as a result of the release of that information.”

    • We Are All Julian Assange!: An Anarchist Soliloquy

      These are the days, dearest motherfuckers. These are those days. These days. These days of rage. These do or die days. These all or nothing days. These days with the ice caps melting and the seas rising to drown their wayward children. These days with the empire collapsing all around us in heaps of flames like the glowing red spires of a thousand Notre Damme’s. Days of hysteria and blindness. Days of gnashing teeth and talking heads decapitated from the reality they pontificate upon. Days of drones strikes and indefinite detention. The end of days for the worlds most abominable superpower, exit stage right. But the actors in this epic tragedy are revolting. Swing low, sweet cherry, Helter Skelter is coming down with a fight. Nero’s finale is rapidly becoming a concerto. In days like these, truth has become a precious commodity. The kind of glimmering prize that even the better angels of our nature are tempted to horde. But sadly sometimes even horded prizes can be taken for granite. Washed away in the rapids of filth that can only be called “truth” in parentheses.

      It’s not easy to tell eight billion people that they are damned to a hell of their own creation. Pacifists have been crucified for far less. An entire estate once devoted to just such a task has collapsed beneath the weight of its responsibility. A whole new estate had to be created on the fringes to take their place. Unlike the Fourth, we dreary partisans of the Fifth Estate are not charming birds performing behind the gilded cage of a faberge news desk. We are not the beautiful people. We are the freaks, the weirdos, the hackers, the leakers, the bloggers, the trolls, the 300 pound kids in Belorussian babushka’s basements pounding our stubby little fingers black and blue against our machines. We are the heard unseen. We are the fissures in the crumbling iceberg. The embers in the belfry. And this week we are all Julian Assange.

      Seven long years buried alive in the catacombs of a South American embassy. Or was it eight? So hard to tell with no sunlight. Shanghaid on trumped up charges for the crime of exposing the horrific realities of America’s rapidly collapsing forever wars. Seven long years of playing claustrophobic games of cat and mouse with the closing walls. Tempting fate to jump first from the brink of our burgeoning insanity. We told the truth. We showed it to them in stark black and white. We showed them the bodies. First the men, their guilt unverified, irrelevant. Then the women. Then the children. Fed, charred, writhing and screaming to the tomahawk fangs of a great green machine, it’s vital organs laughing and cheering, basking in the thick black smoke of their state sanctioned cruelty. We showed them the digital kraken in the Utah desert. We showed them the tentacles connecting our police state to every flickering screen in this country and beyond, keeping tabs on the indentured citizenry of a world that can only be called “free” in parentheses. They just shrugged.

    • So Where is the Swedish Warrant?

      If the Swedish allegations against Julian Assange were genuine and not simply a ruse to arrest him for extradition to the United States, where is the arrest warrant now from Sweden and what are the charges?

      Only the more minor allegation has passed the statute of limitations deadline. The major allegation, equivalent to rape, is still well within limits. Sweden has had seven years to complete the investigation and prepare the case. It is over two years since they interviewed Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy. They have had years and years to collect all the evidence and prepare the charges.

      So where, Swedish prosecutors, are your charges? Where is your arrest warrant?

      Julian Assange has never been charged with anything in Sweden. He was merely “wanted for questioning”, a fact the MSM repeatedly failed to make clear. It is now undeniably plain that there was never the slightest intention of charging him with anything in Sweden. All those Blairite MPs who seek to dodge the glaring issue of freedom of the media to publish whistleblower material revealing government crimes, by hiding behind trumped-up sexual allegations, are left looking pretty stupid.

      What is the point of demanding Assange be extradited to Sweden when there is no extradition request from Sweden? What is the point in demanding he face justice in Sweden when there are no charges? Where are the charges from Sweden?

      The answer to that is silence.

    • Tony Kevin Speaks Out on Assange

      We live in dangerous times. US imperial power is flailing around in its death throes , making trouble for people and nations all over the world. Blocking real action on climate change, trying to foment regime change in Venezuela and Iran, troublemaking in the South China Sea, illegally maintaining military presences in Syria. The US governing elite remains obsessively Russophobic. The nuclear arms race is slipping out of control under dangerous American illusions of global military supremacy. We are living through the most perilous moment since the Cuban missile crisis; more perilous even, since in the craziness of Russiagate, the US government is not currently even speaking to Russia.

      And here in Australia we have a crucially important election underway, whose outcome will be vital to our young people and other disadvantaged communities.

      So why bother about this person called Julian Assange? This one weird early middle-aged guy who seems to have a knack for getting up the noses of so many powerful people and governments? Aren’t there bigger things we need to think about than the fate of this one particularly troublesome person? Should we not just think of him as ‘collateral damage’ of the past 20 years, and move on to more important and current debates and causes?

      The fact that some of us are here today for this demonstration, in a city not big on demonstrations, shows we do not accept that argument. We recognise that Julian is pivotal to so much that is happening around us.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Renewables Offset 35 Times More CO2 Every Year Than All Carbon Capture Projects Ever, New Analysis Finds

      A new analysis by Clean Technica found that global investment in carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) adds up to roughly $7.5 billion total. It also examined how much, for that investment, CCS has reduced atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels compared to an equivalent investment in renewable power generation.

      The analysis calculated that “wind and solar are displacing roughly 35 times as much CO2 every year as the complete global history of CCS.” Clean Technica’s Mike Barnard concluded, “CCS is a rounding error in global warming mitigation.”

    • The Green New Deal Died in Congress…It Didn’t Have To

      Without the support of farmers and unions, the Green New Deal (GND) will remain a list of talking points for politicians. The democrats made a serious error releasing their 14-page non-binding House Resolution 109 without those groups taking a lead in its role out.

      One of the more comprehensive and balanced reviews of the GND’ broad and worthy goals, is from John de Graaf in his The Promise of the Green New Deal published in Front Porch Republic. Among the many points he makes is the critical need to bring aboard farmers, who are one of the Republican Party’s core constituencies.

      Like de Graaf, Raj Patel and Jim Goodman in their piece A Green New Deal for Agriculture in Jacobin magazine, see President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal serving as a model of how a coalition including farmers and rural voters is needed to move progressive legislation forward. In particular, it can break the power of the current conservative cultural block that defines the climate debate.

      Unions are the other main ally that would be in pushing for the GND since they have the most to gain or lose from government policies impacting their work environment. Union members have been a core democratic constituency, but one that the republicans have slowly been siphoning away. Trump’s wins in the industrial states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin reflect that continued encroachment.

      These writers are following the first rule of defeating an entrenched opposition, you must crack their forces before attempting a frontal assault. As Raj Patel and Jim Goodman put it, GND advocates must “unpick the alliances that the current bloc works to maintain, to find the fault lines that can pry that bloc apart.” Unfortunately, congressional democrats failed to follow that rule and it seems that democratic presidential candidates are doing so as well. Washington State Governor Inslee, running as the climate change presidential candidate, missed an opportunity to reach out to rural voters when he launched his first campaign video and did not have either farmers or labor spokespeople talking about the importance of climate change.

      Political allies need to be at the table when designing and announcing new programs or visionary statements. If they are not sitting at the table, they could be tossing tomatoes at these efforts or just remain silent. This was evident from the main organizations representing these two constituents in responding to the launch of the GND; at best it was muted and at times hostile.

    • As UN Climate Chief Urges Immediate Action to Save Planet, Extinction Rebellion’s New Book Gets Rushed to Press

      That’s the message from both the United Nation’s climate chief and a climate mobilization group as they sound the alarm on the catastrophe that awaits if the world continues its business as usual.

      In interviews with the Associated Press, Patricia Espinosa, who serves as executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said that “the window of opportunity” to avert catastrophic global warming “is closing very soon.”

      That means capping global warming at a 1.5 degrees C threshold, she said. But, in order to do that, “much more political will” is needed.

      “It doesn’t mean that we need to wait 12 years and then look at it as the moment to do this,” Espinosa said, referencing an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released last year.

      Changes to the status quo, she argued, need to be immediate.

      “The truth is that if we continue to produce, consume, to function as we are doing now,” she told AP, “we know that we are going toward a catastrophe.”

      We must “get to a moment where leaders recognize that there is no option,” said Espinosa.

      One group that recognizes that time crunch is Extinction Rebellion (XR).

    • Can Humanity and Nature Co-Exist Under Capitalism?

      Two new documentaries tackle the all-important question of our age, namely how humanity and nature can co-exist in a period of insurmountable capitalist contradiction, especially when humanity takes the form of small businesspeople hoping to exploit natural resources under duress.

      Opening at The Landmark at 57 West on May 10th, “The Biggest Little Farm” is a stunningly dramatic portrait of a husband and wife trying to create an ecotopian Garden of Eden forty miles north of Los Angeles. (Nationwide screening info is here.)

      Idealist to a fault but utterly inexperienced as farmers, they encounter one obstacle after another in the hope of doing well by doing good. Essentially, they discover that by creating a bounteous yield of edibles destined for the organic foods market, they also attract a plague of gophers, coyotes, starlings and snails that see their farm as a dinner plate. Trying to balance their ecotopian values with the appetites of the animal kingdom becomes an ordeal they never anticipated.

      Utterly indifferent to ecological values, the lobster fishermen depicted in Bullfrog Film’s “Lobster War: The Fight Over the World’s Richest Fishing Grounds” are family and village-oriented. As long as they can haul in the valuable crustaceans and keep themselves and their respective towns in Maine and Canada prosperous, nothing much else matters. Not being able to see outside the box, they symbolize the short-term mindset of the ruling class. If lobsters become extinct because of unsustainable practices, the fishermen might turn to other profitable marine life. But when all animals become extinct except for rodents, pigeons and cockroaches, homo sapiens will be next in line.

    • A Green New Deal Town Hall: Paving the Way for a Just Transition

      How do we make the Green New Deal real? By holding town hall meetings led, centered and organized by the people – discussions so honest that you’re not the same person when you leave. These are the kinds of discussions we need to be having as a community – and some of us have been talking honestly about this for a long time. Need inspiration? Let women of color lead the way.

      We held a town hall like this last week at the Jamaica Plain Forum in Boston featuring Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and local activist Rev. Mariama White-Hammond. These two fierce leaders are pushing for a cultural shift towards community and equity, values that will return us to harmony during our battle for survival from the environmental emergency upon us.

      Right now, we see the disharmony play out before our eyes. It’s been just over a month since Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, killing several hundred people, leveling hundreds of thousands of homes, and destroyed the main source of food – all in a country where more than half the population lives under the poverty line.

    • Russian investigators open criminal case saying petroleum exported to Belarus was contaminated intentionall

      A week after low-quality Russian petroleum was first reported in Belarus, Russian investigators have opened a criminal case to look into the matter, Interfax reported. The Russian company Transneft argued that the contamination of petroleum in the Druzhba pipeline was intentional, saying that an organochlorine compound was added to the pipeline at the Samaratransneftterminal junction in Samara. An investigation is ongoing in several private offices in the city.

    • Global inequality is 25% higher than it would have been in a climate-stable world

      Those least responsible for global warming will suffer the most. Poorer countries – those that have contributed far less to climate change – tend to be situated in warmer regions, where additional warming causes the most devastation. Extreme weather events such as Syria’s prolonged drought, South Asia’s catastrophic monsoon floods, and Cyclone Idai in South-East Africa, the third deadliest cyclone on record, are becoming more likely and more severe.

      These events are disproportionately bringing death, displacement, and crop failure. As a result of this, projections estimate that the economies of poorer, warmer countries will be gravely harmed by climate change over coming decades, while the cooler, richer countries responsible for the vast majority of the extra CO2 in the air may even benefit in the short term. But as new research reveals, this is not just a future concern – the economic injustice of climate change has already been operating for 60 years.

      The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compared different countries’ GDP per capita – a measure of the average person’s economic standard of living – between 1961 and 2010. It then used climate models to estimate what each country’s GDP would have been without the effects of climate change. The findings are stark.

    • Making Case for Green New Deal, Abdul El-Sayed Argues It’s Also a Public Health New Deal

      The Green New Deal is also a Public Health New Deal—and should be supported for that—physician and progressive activist Abdul El-Sayed argues in a op-ed published Friday in The Guardian.

      El-Sayed garnered national attention last year for his ultimately unsuccessful run for governor in Michigan’s Democratic primary. But before that, he served as Detroit’s health director—and through that role, he writes, “I realized that the forces that cause climate change are the same forces that poisoned the lungs of babies in my city.”

      The doctor details his journey from a “reluctant” to “full-fledged environmental activist,” spurred by his obligation to “provide basic public health goods and services for 700,000 people in a city that had been marginalized by almost every level of government intended to serve them.” He demands bold action to better serve communities like his and address the root causes of the global climate crisis.

  • Finance

    • Wall Street Rags and Riches

      Good humor mixes with apocalyptic for this much-needed palliative for those newly dark times: the music and lyrics are all about diverting the listener from the cruel realities of the present.

      Music has buoyed markets for as long as they have existed. The greatest musician of the Dutch Golden Age, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck had already been dead fifteen years by the time the tulip craze imploded in 1637, but his music remained popular at the time of the crash. Sweelinck had made himself famous in part by playing organ concerts featuring variations on secular dance tunes in the Old Church in Amsterdam as traders strolled below, making deals that included rampant speculation on tulips. That’s why I’ve always heard in the insouciant charm of his variations something of the effervescent thrill of high-risk stock trading.

      [...]

      In contrast to music historians and festival organizers, who habitually capitalize on anniversaries, market watchers steer a wide course around such commemorations, since they inevitably direct thoughts towards the cyclic nature of markets and the unavoidable crash around the corner. Thus the Panic of 1907, when stock prices dropped by 50 per cent, received hardly a nod during its turbulent hundredth anniversary year. Maybe next year the South Sea Bubble will get its due, though with Brexit in the mix that may be to conjure the dark side of the zeitgeist.

      [...]

      Still, “Wall Street” does what Wall Street wants: it consoles in bad times and rejoices in good. In spite of the superficial attempt to convey social unity across class and race, however, the surreal concluding tableau of Joplin’s rag, with its wealthy whites dancing in front of the stock exchange to joyful black music, cannot fully divert our ears and eyes from the more fundamental, and still operative, truth conveyed by this final image: the negroes have the rags, the brokers the riches.

    • Trump’s Bank Appears Willing to Cooperate With Investigation Against Him

      Deutsche Bank has begun turning over financial records related to President Donald Trump to New York’s attorney general, according to CNN.

      The bank, which loaned Trump more than $2 billion over two decades, has begun turning over records related to loans it made to the president and his businesses.

      Last month, New York Attorney General Letitia James issued subpoenas to the bank for records related to loans Trump obtained to build multiple buildings as well as his failed bid to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

      James opened an investigation into Trump’s finances after his former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen testified that the president inflated his assets in official documents, including in financial statements he provided to Deutsche Bank.

      The bank is now in the process of turning over loan documents and emails related to multiple Trump projects, including his Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, and the Trump National Doral Miami.

    • Make College Affordable for People Like Me

      As a black woman who was raised in poverty, I understand what it means to face constant hardships.

    • The College Admissions Scam Isn’t About Education

      What’s most surprising to me about the College Admissions Scam where fifty affluent and influential people were charged with bribery and fraud to get their unqualified children into top US colleges, is that these people actually thought that a college degree would help their children even more than their evident power and influence.

      Reading through the extensive documents, the enormity of the scandal, stretching from SAT test centers to tutors to athletic coaches and beyond – is incredible. It is evidence of what we all knew and what America continually tries to fool us into disbelieving – that life is fucking unfair. In the US especially, expensive, overpriced education perpetuates class and racial divisions and forbids social mobility. Removing education from the prison system has been one of the greatest disasters of the last few years. Every year we are moving towards a more hierarchical and uneven social system which is indicated by the deliberate deprivation of education to the masses.

      When education is already only attainable to a certain social class, it barely remains a surprise that within that small percentage of people an even smaller elite are even less willing to focus on merit or privilege, and believe that talent and knowledge, like everything else in their life, can be bought.

      This has created an overpriced education system which is as complicit in this scam as the idiotic Hollywood parents trying to pass off their teenage influencers as talented athletes. These schools are, and always have been, desperate to dictate to the rest of us who we should be reading, listening to, following, watching being represented by – in order to justify the ridiculous amounts of money they charge for their degrees. I am, and always will be, a staunch believer in free education but whether free education at university level can ever exist under Capitalism seems a utopic dream. As a graduate of Cambridge University myself – yet another elite educational establishment renowned, alongside Oxford, for producing 41 Prime Ministers to the United Kingdom – I was extremely aware of my status as a “token” state school student amongst the legacies elite, the gentry, the royals, the kids of the rich and famous and those who had donated vast sums of money to colleges and had little plaques all over the place to remind us all. Cambridge, when I attended, was ostensibly “free” to all (a decision reversed in 1997 when tuition fees were reintroduced in the UK) – and yet money, status and social and economic privilege still dictated entry, as it does today. Perhaps America is simply more honest about it than the Brits.

    • “I’m a Capitalist,” Says Warren…But Why?

      Warren has made clear that what she wants (and I do, too!) is “accountable capitalism,” a market economy that works for all of us because it responds to all of us—a market that’s truly competitive and always open to newcomers. Not what we have now.

      Today in the US, just two companies control more than half the market in twelve major industries. Four control nearly 90 percent of the total global grain trade. Six control 90 percent of American media, and four control over 80 percent of air travel.

      What Warren lauds are “fair markets, markets with rules.” Without them, she explains, it’s “about the rich tak[ing] it all… And that’s what’s gone wrong in America.”

      So, I wonder, why call oneself a capitalist?

    • Forfeit Your Pay and Resign: An Open Letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg

      On April 4, 2019 you somewhat belatedly released a statement that “We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 MAX accidents.” You added that a preliminary investigation made it “apparent that in both flights” the MCAS “activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information.”

      Your acknowledgement of the problems with the 737 MAX somehow escaped inclusion in your messages to shareholders, the capital markets, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is now stunningly clear that your overly optimistic outlook on January 20, 2019 – after the Indonesian Lion Air crash – was misleading. Whatever the public learns, day after day about the troubles of your company, it is still far less than what Boeing knows will come out day by day, and not just about the deadly design of the 737 MAX.

      Your narrow-body passenger aircraft – namely, the long series of 737’s that began in the nineteen sixties was past its prime. How long could Boeing avoid making the investment needed to produce a “clean-sheet” aircraft and, instead, in the words of Bloomberg Businessweek “push an aging design beyond its limits?” Answer: As long as Boeing could get away with it and keep necessary pilot training and other costs low for the airlines as a sales incentive.

      To compete with the Airbus A320neo, Boeing equipped the 737 MAX with larger engines tilted more forward and upward on the wings than prior 737’s. Thus began the trail of criminal negligence that will implicate the company and its executives. The larger engines changed the center of gravity and the plane’s aerodynamics. Boeing management was on a fast track and ignored warnings by its own engineers, not to mention scores of other technical aerospace people outside the company.

    • Boeing Is a Perfect Parable for 21st-Century Capitalism

      A veteran commercial pilot and software engineer with over three decades of experience has just written the most damning account of the recent Boeing 737 fiasco. At one level, author Gregory Travis has provided us with the most detailed account of why a particular plane model once synonymous with reliability became a techno-death trap. But ultimately, his story is a parable of all that is wrong with 21st-century capitalism; Boeing has become a company that embodies all of its worst pathologies. It has a totally unsustainable business model—one that has persistently ignored the risks of excessive offshoring, the pitfalls of divorcing engineering from the basic R&D function, the perils of “demodularization,” and the perverse incentives of “shareholder capitalism,” whereby basic safety concerns have repeatedly been sacrificed at the altar of greed. It’s also a devastating takedown of a company that once represented the apex of civilian aviation, whose dominance has been steadily eroded as it has increased its toxic ties to the U.S. military. In that sense it mirrors the decline of America as a manufacturing superpower. And finally, it shows a company displaying a complete loss of human perspective in the “man vs. machine” debate.

      Here’s the crux of Travis’s analysis: “Design shortcuts” led to safety hazards. The newest version of Boeing’s 737 plane, previously known for its reliability and ease of use, became a high-tech disaster. Machines overwhelmed man. And worst of all, the aviation industry regulatory overseer, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), subcontracted the safety/certification functions to Boeing itself, so there was no early warning system in place to avert the resultant tragedy.

      Travis largely restricts his analysis to the 737. But his article illustrates pathologies long evident at Boeing and the FAA.

      Let’s look at the last problem first: The FAA suffers from reduced funding from Congress (the Daily Beast reported that “the agency’s 2019 budget actually cut funding for the Aviation Safety Office by 1.7 percent”), and a corresponding loss of aviation expertise, as many of its top personnel have migrated to the private sector. Of course, that’s nothing new for the FAA, which has a sad history of hemorrhaging personnel since the days of the air traffic controllers’ strike/collective dismissal under Reagan (a cost control measure), as well as embracing neoliberal, supposedly market-based performance incentives that are thoroughly inappropriate for a regulatory body first and foremost responsible for flight safety.

      Becoming more “industry-friendly” and starved of adequate personnel and fiscal resources to do its job properly, the FAA has therefore been forced to delegate much of its regulatory oversight and certification functions to the airline industry itself (“self-certification”) and has therefore become a case study in “regulatory capture.”

    • Coming Clean on Washing Machine Tariffs

      Jim Tankersley had a piece in the NYT yesterday on the cost per job saved of Trump’s tariffs on Chinese washing machines. According to the study, the cost per job saved was $817,000. While that is a steep tab, there are a few points that should be added to this sort of analysis.

      First, if the point of the tariffs is to benefit workers, part of this $817,000 cost is going to higher pay to workers who would have jobs with or without the tariff. The study doesn’t look at the impact on wages of workers in the industry, but if the goal is to help workers who make washing machines, then this should be factored into the assessment.

      The second point is that this is a partial equilibrium analysis. It doesn’t look at the overall effect on the economy of a reduction in the money we spend on importing washing machines. While this can be hard to assess, since imports of washing machines from China are a very small part of the total economy, other things equal we would expect that less money spent on imported washing machines would translate into a higher-valued dollar. (We are reducing the supply of dollars on world markets, thereby raising the price of dollars.)

    • Coming of Age at the End of History

      In 1989, in the midst of the collapse of the Soviet Union and just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama argued, famously, that we had reached “the End of History.’ Echoing Margaret Thatcher’s dictum that ‘there is no alternative’ to neoliberal capitalism, Fukuyama averred that the triad of free markets, liberal democracy, and consumerist culture had become universal, enveloping the planet so thoroughly as to flatten historical time. There would be no more revolutionary upheaval, no more transformative social change. An ever-expanding capitalism, governed by some variant of representative democracy, was the only game in town, and it was here to stay.

      I was fifteen when Fukuyama penned “The End of History,” and – as much as I am loathe to admit it – I am a child of neoliberalism. I was born at the end of 1974, just as New York City entered its fateful descent into fiscal crisis. I grew up in Baltimore during the Reagan years, a witness to the ways in which racial capitalism eviscerated the city’s black and white working class, leaving many of my friends and their families adrift in an economy and a place that had been structurally abandoned. All the while, I was indoctrinated into a public policy common sense of austerity, privatization, and an expanding carceral state; as well as a hollowed-out notion of citizenship in which our subjectivities are constructed primarily through individual-entrepreneurial, rather than solidaristic-democratic, terms.

      Looking back, I am struck by how much of this I’ve imbibed, how much it has ordered what I’ve regarded as accepted knowledge, even as I’ve attempted to resist it. For most of my adult life, I’ve been a poverty lawyer/movement lawyer/community lawyer (the terminological distinctions matter, but not so much for the purposes of this essay), and, at times (especially recently) I have found myself questioning how I’ve gone about my work. Of course I knew that the pronouncements of Fukuyama and Thatcher were bankrupt – that they were the product of a politicized theology – but to what extent have my own political, intellectual, and professional horizons been limited by an unwitting, silent acceptance of that same theology?

    • Hating the Homeless

      Being rousted by the cops is hardly if ever a good thing. Back in 1982 I was sleeping under some trees in a park in Kansas City when I heard approaching footsteps. Dawn had barely broken. It was midsummer and I was hazily watching the dew turn to steam while I slowly woke from a sweaty sleep. My last ride had left me near the park about 11 the night before. There was a concert taking place so I hung out in the parking lot while the band played. The band was Blondie. After the show was over and the parking lots were clear I headed into the trees in search of a decent set of vegetation to hide in and sleep. Now, somebody was walking very close by. As it turned out, it was a pair of cops. They had their nightsticks out ready to pounce on me. I put my hands in the air and said hello. The taller one asked me for my identification while the other held on to his club. The one with the club took my ID, went back to their car to call in for warrants. I tried to make small talk with the other crewcutted uniform but he was not in the mood. A few minutes later, the other uniform (also crewcutted) came back and returned my identification. The two discussed my situation a few feet away as if I wasn’t there. Then they told me to get the hell out their sight. I took their advice. I did not want to go to jail.

      Raiding homeless camps and removing the tents the inhabitants of those camps use for shelter is standard practice throughout the United States. Recently, this idea was revived in a government subcommittee in Burlington, VT where I work. Besides the fact that this practice was recently ruled unconstitutional by a Federal Court in Seattle, it also violates the basic human rights of those who live in the camps. These camps have grown in size and in frequency around the nation. Indeed, the biggest difference between the years I had no real address in the 1970s and early 1980s is the sheer number of homeless people today. When I visited California, Oregon and Washington almost three years ago, I was both astounded and appalled at the vast numbers of people living in tents under bridges and in vacant lots. I had not been in that part of the United States in close to a decade and the sheer numbers had increased exponentially. So had the price of rent. Obviously, we’re talking causality and not correlation here. The number of people living in the streets is directly related to the gentrification occurring. The most honest definition of gentrification is kicking people out of their homes so the owner(s) can make a huge profit by selling it to a high bidder. In Europe it’s called housing speculation. No matter what, it puts people who have paid rent for years out in the street.

    • Elizabeth Warren’s Student Debt Plan: An Outsized Economic Boon for People of Color

      Presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) this week unveiled an ambitious plan to make college free, expand Pell Grants for students with low incomes, and cancel student loan debt for most borrowers, including around 8 in 10 Black and Latinx people.

      This marks the first time that mass student debt cancellation has been proposed as a serious, presidential campaign-level topic. It’s also one of the first mainstream plans that would provide massive help to families while potentially narrowing our nation’s persistent and shameful racial wealth gap.

      Warren’s plan, announced in a Medium post, is as follows: Everyone would receive free public college at two- or four-year schools with a massive expansion of Pell Grants for low-income and middle-class students to help pay for living costs and other expenses that make up the majority of borrowing. It is effectively both a guarantee of free college for everyone and a guarantee of debt-free college for students with low income. The plan would cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for families making under $100,000 annually, with a sliding scale of forgiveness for those making between $100,000 and $250,000.

    • The rules of the Game Of Oligarchs

      Technology shrinks the world, makes geography less relevant. People find kinship, common cause, and community on the Internet, across nations and sometimes even languages. When the Internet began to erupt, when its connections began to draw such people closer together, this was anticipated with great hope and excitement. And with reason. At their best, the consequences are wonderful.

      But it turns out that, like most major social transformations, this transcendence of geography has come with a slew of unexpected emergent properties, not all of them good. Indeed, some of which probably already need to be mitigated — fast.

      It’s great that open-source communities can collaborate across the globe to craft tools which benefit everyone. It’s no bad thing that wealthy professionals in Singapore, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Dubai, and Hong Kong may feel they have more in common with one another than with people who live an hour’s drive away. One world, one humanity, one future. Right?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Vendors Leave Progressive Challenger’s Primary Campaign Over ‘Galling’ DCCC Threat

      The Democratic establishment is already taking steps to stop insurgent progressive challengers to the party’s incumbents.

      Marie Newman, who is challenging Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) in the 2020 primary for the Illinois 3rd District, told Politico on Friday that a number of vendors have already dropped out of her campaign—the direct result of a rule put in place by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) banning consultants and other campaign mechanics from working with anyone running against a sitting Democrat.

      “I’ve had four consultants leave the campaign,” Newman said. “We’ve now had two mail firms say that they couldn’t work with us because of the DCCC issue, and then a [communications] group, a compliance group and several pollsters.”

    • Volodymyr Zelenskiy as Actor President

      The world is not so much a stage as a simulacrum for those who think it so. And if the stage goes bad, it is fitting that those who get thrown onto it change it in the most daring and provocative way. Politics is now as much a director’s production as it is an estranging show for the participating voter. The shock to such formulae is when a political aspirant decides to either reject the director’s cut entirely or, as in the case of Ukraine, embrace it as a mocking demonstration of bankruptcy. We know it is a joke: vote for me as a true expression of the authentic.

      The sheer scale of repudiation by the voters on Sunday is striking, saying as much about the victor as the defeated. Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s triumph in an election without precedent (almost 40 presidential candidates, and victory for a Jewish one) was crushing, coming in at 73% over incumbent Petro Poroshenko. Holographic presence on screen – a comedian playing a character in a series who becomes president after a video rant on corruption goes viral – turned reality. “Could I ever imagine that I, a simple guy from Kryvyi Rih, would be fighting for the presidency against a person who we confidently and definitively elected President of the Ukraine in 2014?”

      Hope is often a devalued currency, but its vigorous circulation can be gathered in the measurements of public opinion by the Kyiv-based International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted this month. Deputy Chief Anton Hrushetskiy reported findings of 2004 respondents to the question “Which of the following should the president do in the first 100 days?”

    • A Trump-Linked Super PAC Is Trying to Push Europe’s Voters to the Far Right

      A controversial Madrid-based campaign group, supported by American and Russian ultra-conservatives, is working across Europe to drive voters towards far-right parties in next month’s European Parliament elections and in Spain’s national elections this Sunday, openDemocracy can reveal today.

      Our findings have caused alarm among lawmakers who fear that Trump-linked conservatives are working with European allies to import a controversial US-style ‘Super PAC’ model of political campaigning to Europe – opening the door to large amounts of ‘dark money’ flowing unchecked into elections and referenda.

      The Madrid-based campaign group CitizenGo is best known for its online petitions against same-sex marriage, sex education and abortion – and for driving buses across cities with slogans against LGBT rights and “feminazis”.

      But now openDemocracy can reveal new evidence of “extraordinary coordination” between this group and far-right parties across Europe – from Spain to Italy, Germany and Hungary.

      In Spain, CitizenGo is supporting the far-right party Vox that is expected to make big gains this weekend, winning seats in the country’s parliament for the first time and potentially forming part of the new government.

      Speaking to our undercover reporter posing as a potential donor, CitizenGo’s director described plans to run attack ads against Vox’s political opponents, and talked about how to get around campaign finance laws.

      Meanwhile a senior Vox official compared CitizenGo to a “Super PAC” in the US, referring to the controversial groups that can spend unlimited sums influencing elections in America – and which are known for aggressive, negative campaigning.

    • Change of Thrones in Japan

      The land of the rising sun prepares for a new dawn. An emperor’s departure and another’s ascension. Emperor Akihito will abdicate on April 30, and May Day in Japan will see his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, become the 126th occupant of the Chrysanthemum Throne.

      Japan is a land of contradictions. An emperor in a democracy. An economic powerhouse, once considered, and feared to be, on the verge of global dominance, now suffers from a sense of drift and malaise. The reign of wartime emperor Hirohito is described as showa (enlightened harmony). A democracy where the Liberal Democratic Party (not liberal but deeply conservative) has been in power for all but of a handful of years since 1955. Japan’s pacifist constitution is viewed as an obstruction by the right to re-armament and may soon be, as the government puts it, reinterpreted again before being changed for the first time. A land where tradition is honored has undergone profound upheavals under each modern-era emperor.

      Akihito was the fifth emperor since the Meiji Restoration of 1868, when the shogunate, a system of feudal military rulers, collapsed and the emperor was plucked from relative political obscurity in Kyoto to reside in Tokyo. He was meant to symbolize stability and a link to the past. It is this harking back to other eras that has bedeviled a country noted for its Blade Runner cityscapes.

      In Japanese folklore the first emperor was Jimmu (about 650 BC), making it, according to legend, the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy. Concubinage was only abolished in 1926, the year Akihito’s father, Hirohito, became emperor. The Americans, the occupying power after WWII, realized that this system had produced a number of possible competing claimants to the throne. This fear resulted in the Imperial Household Law, introduced in 1948, which limited the succession to male descendants of the emperor, Hirohito.

      The only succession most Japanese recall was Akihito’s in 1989 when the past was another country. But so was the future. Back then the mood was of unbridled optimism. The country was an economic superpower. From the debris of war, it had rebuilt itself, and was challenging the United States for pre-eminence.

    • Corporate cash leaking into Democratic campaigns despite “no-corporate-PAC” pledge

      More than 50 Democratic congressional candidates have lined up behind the call to boycott corporate PAC money in the name of campaign finance reform. By eschewing money from big business, candidates hope to mobilize a mighty army of small donors and kick corrupt money out of electoral politics.

      But first quarter FEC filings reveal that while the majority stayed true to their word, some of the self-declared “no-corporate-PAC” candidates took money from big businesses and special interests.

      Many of the candidates on board the “no-corporate-PAC” train still welcome money from cooperatives or trade associations, even if they have ties to big business. The Center for Responsive Politics considers trade association PACs and cooperative PACs to be “business PACs” given the dues they receive from big businesses with a stake in influential industries.

      Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) pocketed $2,500 from the dairy giant cooperative Land O’Lakes PAC this past quarter. And then there’s Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), who accepted $1,500 from Food Marketing Institute, a PAC that receives money from Safeway, Walmart and Coca-Cola.

      Axne and Trahan did not respond to requests for comment.

    • Joe Biden Is Who We Thought He Was

      Joe Biden has been running for president less than 48 hours, and his campaign is already proving as problematic as many of his liberal and progressive detractors had anticipated.

      On Thursday, Barack Obama’s vice president formally entered the 2020 race in a video announcement, calling the upcoming election a “battle for the soul of America” and invoking the murder of Heather Heyer, who was slain during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. Yet the Biden campaign didn’t see fit to alert Heyer’s parents about the speech until after the video had been released. “I wasn’t surprised,” her mother, Susan Bro, told The Daily Beast. “Most people do that sort of thing. They capitalize on whatever situation is handy. He didn’t reach out to me, and didn’t mention her by name specifically, and he probably knew we don’t endorse candidates.”

    • Dozens Condemned by Media as ‘Gang Members’ Not Actually Gang Members, Study Confirms

      In the immediate wake of the now infamous “Bronx 120 gang raid,” carried out by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the NYPD on the Eastchester Gardens and Edenwald House housing projects in New York City’s Bronx on April 27, 2016, New York media uncritically and predictably repeated the NYPD and federal prosecutors’ claim that all those arrested were “gang members”—a sprawling conspiracy of murderers, drug dealers and gun runners “taken down” by authorities.

      [...]

      Were there some members in a formal “gang”? Yes, according to prosecutors. But crime-fighting, and by extension the coverage of crime, isn’t a batting average. You don’t get to bat .440, wrongfully smear 56 percent of the people being accused and plastered all over the internet and your front page, and call it a day. As New York activist and frequent FAIR contributor Josmar Trujillo points out, this whole episode should make journalists and editors press pause on the enterprise of taking the NYPD and federal authorities at their word, and the broader panic around “gang raids” in general.

    • Diary: Notes on LA’s Underground

      Late 80’s, 1990’s and early 2000s social justice LA, a time of “looking the beast in the eyes” to quote philosopher Alain Badiou, is very well known throughout the world. A famous mural in Athens is “Fuck the Police” popular thinking born in the county of LA; the aesthetics, philosophies, etc, have gone global. Bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Rage Against The Machine came to manifest the city in the very same way that the skateboard underground did in the 1970s. LA’s tragic 21st century pf gentrification and identity politics gone horribly wrong, not so much. How many folks outside of LA, oreven inside, know of the rising tide in working class environmentalism, where South Central todays thinks a green future?

      Reflection and Action

      Reflection and action. Here, the real fight for public safety is for an end to climate change and for a dynamic and vibrant ecosystem. The real keepers of public safety do not drive SUVs everywhere and all day, adding smog to smog. They are stewards of a healthy environment. The monstrous Police in LA receives around 60 percent of the annual budget despite the fact since manufacturing shops began to close in the 1980’s or so, LA’s working class had lived in unhealthy conditions, without much greenery around. The crack epidemic, born in the community where I work South Central was the LAPD’s opportunity to impose such a regime, a regime that has gone on despite our protests. When there is greenery in overly criminalized and policed communities, it is often not maintained. This is the case of the Portola Trail, near where I live, where walking through it feels like a tragedy. When compared to hikes in Malibu, Topanga, or just a walk through Beverly Hills, Silverlake, etc, one realizes that postindustrial economic marginalization also means environmental marginalization.

      Another way of saying this is that the ghetto, and its steep housing prices and hipster shops, is concretely not the concern of true attempts at greening LA. Community groups in LA have responded with all sorts of coalitions, efforts, etc. One of these is STAND, for which I organized, where we, or should I say they, wanted to shut down oil wells in LA using pretty light tactics and soft strategy. The success of this community group organizing is that it does community outreach, etc, that other environmentalisms do not do. This, though business as usual, can liberate this city from its filth.

    • Putin approves list of criteria for effective governors that begins with faith in the president

      Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed an order that contains criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of the country’s regional governors. The document contains a list of indicators, the first of which is the governor’s level of faith in the government and in the president specifically. Productivity, income, environmental conditions, infrastructure, and population growth are also among the 15 points on the list. The Russian presidential administration plans to develop and present the methods it will use to evaluate governors’ performance according to those criteria by June 1.

    • Trump’s Torrent of Twisted Claims on Russia

      Russia keeps reverberating even with special counsel Robert Mueller’s report now part of history.

      As much as President Donald Trump says he wants the United States to move on, he’s found it hard to turn away himself, as seen in a torrent of tweets and remarks railing against Democrats, trashing Mueller and painting his own actions in a saintly light.

      There is little truth to be found in these statements.

    • Managing Russia’s Dissolution: Truth or Desire?

      At the start of the year, on January 9, The Hill, a leading US political newspaper, as if setting the year agenda put out an article entitled “Managing Russia’s dissolution”. The article reviews the measures needed to dismantle Russia and instigate civil conflicts on the territory of Eurasia. The author describes Russia as “a declining state that disguises its internal infirmities with external offensives”. He further claims that “Russia is heading toward fragmentation” under “rising social, ethnic and regional pressures” and simultaneously blamed the federal government of both failing “to develop into a nation state with a strong ethnic or civic identity” and working to centralize control over regions.

    • Measuring National Power

      Let’s make America great again! Or as the prime minister of France said: Let’s make France great again. Or, as President Donald Trump conceded, let every nation in the world announce that they are going to be great again.

      But what makes for greatness? Over that there is a big dispute.

      Strategists say that power has to be measured carefully because “the balance of power is the motor of world politics, playing a role as central as the role of energy in physics and money in economics”, as writes Professor Michael Beckley of Tufts University, in his analysis The Power of Nations. Measuring what really matters.

      “Power is like love, it is easier to define than measure. Just as one cannot say, ‘I love you 3.6 times more than her,’ scholars cannot calculate the balance of power precisely, because power is largely unobservable and context-dependent”.

      So what can scholars do? A suggested path is to measure power by tallying the wealth and military assets of a country. Others scholars think this is insufficient. It’s outcomes that should be measured. Often Davids have beaten Goliaths.

      The Vietnam War, when a relatively small guerrilla army defeated and then drove out the Americans, is an event no one in the last generation or two can ever forget. Smart strategy by the North Vietnamese leadership was responsible for this. The average Vietnamese family survived on one dollar a day but they triumphed.

    • How Bad Does It Have to Get?

      But as bad as all of this is, the real question is, “When does it get so bad that we will no longer tolerate this scum running the country, dividing us against each other, desecrating our values, degrading our civic spaces, and destroying our institutions?” When does it get bad enough that WE will actually do something to stop being so mocked, so humiliated, and so defiled? When will we have Republican Congressmen who will get up off their knees before him and represent us, the people who actually elected them, and defend our country against the greatest domestic threat it has faced in over a century?

    • The President’s Executive Privilege Strategy Could Mean a Messy Fight

      Since George Washington’s time, presidents have used executive privilege to resist congressional inquiries in the name of protecting the confidentiality of their decision-making.

      President Donald Trump threatened this past week to broadly assert executive privilege to block a number of current and former aides from testifying, including some who have cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. It’s a strategy that could lead to a messy, protracted legal fight, but even if the White House is eventually defeated in court, the president and his allies could have the chance to run out the clock to the 2020 election.

      “This is all about delaying things. The strategy of every administration is to drag it out,” said the University of Virginia’s Saikrishna Prakash, an expert on presidential power.

    • Trump Offers Sympathies After Synagogue Shooting

      President Donald Trump has offered “deepest sympathies to the families of those affected” by a shooting at a synagogue outside San Diego.

      At the White House, Trump said Saturday that the shooting “looked like a hate crime” and called it “hard to believe.” He spoke from the South Lawn before flying to a rally in Wisconsin.

      Authorities say a 19-year-old man opened fire on Chabad of Poway on the last day of Passover, killing one woman and wounding three others, including a girl.

    • TRUMP’S CRUSADERS MARCH TO WAR

      The world is still reeling in horror from the deadly Sri Lanka bombings that may have been the work of Islamic State madmen. Poor Sri Lanka has suffered so much after three decades of civil war and communal strife. We weep for this beautiful and once gentle nation.
      But behind the horror in Sri Lanka, a huge crisis was building up of which the world has so far taken insufficient notice: renewed tensions in the oil-producing Gulf. This is the latest attempt by the United States to crush Iran’s independent-minded government and return it to American tutelage.
      The Trump administration has demanded that the principal importers of 1.2 billion barrels of Iranian oil halt purchases almost immediately. This imperial diktat includes China, South Korea, Turkey, India and Japan. The comprehensive embargo is very close to an all-out act of war. In 1941, America’s cut-off of oil to Japan provoked the attack on Pearl Harbor.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Musk Must Face Cave Rescuer Lawsuit Over ‘Pedo Guy’ Tweet

      A federal judge in Los Angeles on Friday denied the Tesla Inc. chief executive officer’s request to dismiss Vernon Unsworth’s defamation complaint. The judge said a written ruling explaining his order will come later.

    • VPN services blocked in Sri Lanka as information controls tighten

      Sri Lanka joins a handful of states that implement similar controls on VPN services and internet protocols that tunnel network traffic from point to point:Sri Lanka joins a handful of states that implement similar controls on VPN services and internet protocols that tunnel network traffic from point to pointSri Lanka joins a handful of states that implement similar controls on VPN services and internet protocols that tunnel network traffic from point to point: [...]

    • Donald Trump Met Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Complained About Losing Followers, Reports Say

      An anonymous source also told The Daily Beast that the president had complained about losing Twitter followers due to anti-conservative social media purges. Conservatives have been raising issues that online services like Google, Facebook, and Twitter suppress, censor, or are otherwise hostile to conservative content creators.

    • Twitter CEO Gently Tells Trump: Your ‘Lost’ Followers Are Bots and Spam Accounts

      On Tuesday, President Trump hosted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in the Oval Office for a closed-door meeting, during which the leader of the free world spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about lost Twitter followers, according to a source familiar with the conversation.

      The Twitter chief, for his part, tried to reassure the president that the company’s staff merely wants his follower count to be as bot-free as possible.

    • Twitter suspends EU election campaign accounts for two candidates who were previously banned

      Twitter on Friday said it has suspended the campaign accounts for two candidates in the European Union that belonged to people who were previously banned from the platform.

    • Dozens of university dons concerned Singapore’s anti-fake news laws will stifle academic freedom

      Over 80 academics from around the world have written to the Singapore government expressing concerns over how recently proposed laws against online falsehoods could threaten academic freedom in the city state.

    • Social Media Blackouts Are an Authoritarian Power Move

      When Americans see governments shutting down Internet communications, they should see nothing but counterproductive, authoritarian exercises of power
      In the wake of the terrible Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, that government shut down access to Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and other social media services. The shutdown garnered praise from some within the United States and other democratic countries, but as tragic as the circumstances may be, Americans must never come to see social media or other Internet shutdowns as anything other than an authoritarian power move and/or a mistake.

      Some commentators seemed to have viewed Sri Lanka’s shutdown through the lens of their own fatigue with social media platforms and the nastiness that can take place there. Without doubt, social media connectivity has intensified not only the positive but also the darker sides of humanity. But it’s important that we all keep the bigger picture firmly in mind.

      First, Internet shutdowns, which have become increasingly common throughout the world, have a close and odious association with very dark abuses of power. As Stanford expert Jan Rydzak has written, “large shutdowns sometimes accompany aggressive military or paramilitary operations, rendering them virtually impossible to document in real time by reporters and citizen journalists.” Numerous shutdowns have been observed in the Syrian Civil War, for example, “immediately prior to and during military offensives carried out by the Syrian Army.” Rydzak concludes, “Network disruptions and shutdowns provide an invisibility cloak for violence as well as gross violations of human rights.”

      Many imagine that such shut-downs can be beneficial by helping squelch brewing sectarian or ethnic violence. But the evidence shows that’s false. A study of shutdowns in India, which has by far the most shutdowns in the world, found that they “are followed by a clear increase in violent protest.” Partly that’s because violent outbreaks are “less reliant on effective communication and coordination” than nonviolent protests. Most outbreaks of genocide have been planned or whipped up by those with centralized, top-down control of communications media (the Nazis in Germany, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Serbian authoritarian Slobodan Milošević in Yugoslavia, the Hutu elite in Rwanda). Internet shutdowns are a tool that increases and serves centralized power rather than curbing it.

    • Russia has started enforcing its ban on ‘fake news.’ The first suspect? A woman protesting landfill pollution.

      Russian officials in Arkhangelsk have filed the country’s first police report against an individual for spreading illegal “fake news.” According to the news website 29.ru, the activist Elena Kalinina used her VKontakte account to promote an unpermitted protest against a local landfill. Police officers reasoned that demonstrations shouldn’t take place without city permits, meaning that Kalinina’s information about the unpermitted protest’s time and location amounts to “fake news.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • How Amazon automatically tracks and fires warehouse workers for ‘productivity’

      Documents obtained by The Verge show those productivity firings are far more common than outsiders realize. In a signed letter last year, an attorney representing Amazon said the company fired “hundreds” of employees at a single facility between August of 2017 and September 2018 for failing to meet productivity quotas. A spokesperson for the company said that, over that time, roughly 300 full-time associates were terminated for inefficiency.

    • UN official visits Julian Assange, investigating Ecuador’s illegal surveillance

      The United Nations special rapporteur on the right to privacy, Joe Cannataci, was finally permitted yesterday to meet with Julian Assange inside London’s Belmarsh prison.

      The WikiLeaks journalist and publisher has been held virtually incommunicado, in denial of his fundamental legal and democratic rights, since the British police dragged him out of Ecuador’s embassy more than two weeks ago.

    • United Airlines says it’s now covering those surprise seatback webcams

      The privacy controversy first emerged earlier this year when some passengers, most notably cybersecurity researcher Vitaly Kamluk, began noticing webcams on seatback screens. The initial outcry was over Singapore Airlines’ inclusion of the webcam-equipped screens without informing passengers and without disclosing whether the webcams were active. However, it was soon discovered that Panasonic Avionics, a leading supplier of in-flight entertainment systems, has also been supplying US airlines like American and United with similar webcam-equipped screens.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Unequal Justice: As the Next Census Approaches, Will the Supreme Court Side with Trump in his War on Immigrants?

      The Supreme Court appears poised to hand Donald Trump another victory in his war on immigrants.

      Last year, in Trump v. Hawaii, the court upheld the President’s Muslim travel ban as a proper exercise of executive branch authority. This year’s battle, in Department of Commerce v. New York, concerns the hotly contested issue of whether a citizenship question can be included in the 2020 Census. Judging from Tuesday’s oral argument in the case, the court will divide once again on ideological lines, resulting in a 5-4 opinion in the administration’s favor.

      No matter how the court rules, its decision will affect every American. The Census is used to set the number of votes each state is accorded in the Electoral College and the number of seats in the House of Representatives.

    • Weinstein Sexual Assault Trial Pushed to September

      Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial, postponed until September, is now poised to end two years after a wave of women’s allegations against him sparked the #MeToo movement.

      A Manhattan judge announced the delay Friday after a closed-door hearing in which prosecutors sought to broaden their case to include some of those women’s accounts.

      Weinstein’s trial had been scheduled to begin June 3, but both sides indicated they need more time to sort through witness and evidence issues. It is now set for Sept. 9, with jury selection expected to take up to two weeks and testimony lasting about a month.

      Weinstein lawyer Jose Baez, who joined the case in January, saw the delay as a boon to a defense keen on discrediting his accusers and showing that any encounters were consensual.

      “We had a very good day in court today. We’re glad that the trial got back to September,” Baez told reporters. “This is going to give us an ample opportunity to dig into the case.”

    • UN to Launch Global Campaign Against Criminalization of Indigenous Peoples

      A new campaign to stop the criminalization of Indigenous peoples for protesting against governments and corporations in defense of their traditional lands aims to protect them from persecution, murder and imprisonment on falsified charges, said the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples on Thursday.

      Vicky Tauli-Corpuz said the idea for the Global Campaign Against the Criminalization and Impunity of Indigenous Peoples was inspired by research and interviews she conducted during the preparation of her 2018 report on attacks and criminalization of Indigenous Peoples.

      “It’s been observed and concluded that the issue of criminalization of Indigenous Peoples is a global crisis,” Tauli-Corpuz said, referring to the report, as she announced the campaign at the U.N. 18th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues.

      In 2018, human rights watchdog Global Witness reported that almost 1,000 environmental defenders have been killed since 2010 and that in 2017 at least 207 land and environmental activists – almost half of them Indigenous – were targeted and murdered for defending their forests, rivers, wildlife and homes against destructive industries.

      Trumped up charges, imprisonment, harassment and intimidation are often the result when Indigenous people speak up against government-supported private companies investing in large-scale projects on their traditional lands, Tauli-Corpuz said. Such projects are often launched without discussion and without the free, prior and informed consent of customary landholders.

    • Trump and False Consciousness

      Pres. Donald Trump is a media magician, able to artfully distort and/or deny the factual “truth” of an event or news report that exposes his failings or falsehoods. He is currently playing his grand political fan dance over information revealed in the redacted Mueller report.

      In late-March, his loyal-henchman, AG Bill Barr, first spun the hokum that the report found no collusion between Trump (and his team) and Russia in the 2016 election. Trump declared victory, proclaiming to all his “complete and total exoneration,” parading around the political ring with the glee of an aging and overweight prize-fighter over an unexpected big win.

      As more and more people read the still-redacted version of the report, Trump’s claim at total exoneration is eroding. Political news outlets are digging in and finding disturbing falsehoods. PolitiFacts details eight incidents in which the Mueller report undermines Trump’s assertion. CNN focuses its analysis on two 2016 Russia-related meetings that Trump denied but Mueller’s investigation documented. And The Washington Post offers numerous revelations as to inconsistencies on Trump’s part. Still more revelations are likely to follow.

      Denial is a critical part of Trump media magic. It’s the fairy dust he sprays about to distract and mislead those confronting him. Only a couple of months ago he played the same three-card monte shell game over the Border Wall.

    • Trump Family Affair

      I’m sure Maryanne and Donald have enjoyed some good laughs over it while contemplating how different the outcome would be had their roles been reversed.

      Maryanne got rid of any adverse consequences from her past bad conduct by retiring. Donald avoided facing any adverse consequences from his past bad conduct by not retiring. The two of them present a nice study in contrasts arising solely from their respective position in the public sphere. They both got into the perilous positions in which they found themselves, because their moral compasses were not properly set prior to the time they embarked on life’s journey.

      Maryanne was, until February 11, 2019, a federal judge on one of the second highest courts in the country. Her career as a federal judge began in 2003 when Ronald Reagan appointed her to the Federal District Court in New Jersey. Prior to her appointment, she had served as a federal prosecutor where she was engaged in prosecuting people for the sorts of conduct that present knowledge suggests she and her siblings engaged in. In 1999 she was elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by President Bill Clinton. There she served until she resigned.

    • Top FSB official jailed on bribery charges, while two former colleagues are accused of stealing 1 million dollars

      A military court in Moscow has jailed the head of a local Federal Security Service (FSB) office for two months, pending the results of a criminal investigation. Colonel Kirill Cherkalin was arrested on April 25 and faces up to 15 years in prison on charges of receiving tens of millions of rubles in bribes. The details of the case haven’t been disclosed, and journalists only learned about Cherkalin’s arraignment after it happened.

      According to the newspaper Kommersant, Cherkalin works in the FSB’s “Department K” economic crimes unit, managing the second branch that oversees Russia’s banking sector. Sources told Kommersant that he comes from a family of intelligence officers, and is a “highly respected person” and a “significant figure not only in the intelligence community but perhaps also in the country’s whole financial sector.” He’s reportedly close to Ivan Tkachev, the head of the FSB’s Department K.

    • Time for Trump to Talk to Putin

      Recall the stunned faces of all the cable news anchors on the eve of the 2016 election. How could Trump have won, when all the polls placed him so far behind? Hillary Clinton quickly faulted James Comey, claiming his announcement about more of her missing emails a week before the vote cost her the race. And people suddenly discovered the “working class” (reviving a term long avoided due to its Marxist associations, and the propogation of the American myth of a vast middle class hovering over the “poor”)—specifically the white working class portrayed as angry about economic stagnation, immigration, and minority advances and receptive to Trump’s buffoonery. But as stories leaked about “Russian interference” and the lame-duck president commissioned a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) from U.S. intelligence agencies to examine that phenomenon, this interference became the main explanation for Hillary’s loss.

      Not Comey. Not ideologically backwards white workers. Russia. Putin. Oligarchs.”Pro-Russian” Ukrainians.

      Just as the Birthers had sought to de-legitimize Barack Obama (as foreign born), many of Trump’s foes have sought to de-legitimize Trump (as a foreign agent or stooge). No amount of redacted or unredacted material will convince them that the president is innocent of collusion. They know he loves Russia. Why, for godssakes, does he never condemn Vladimir Putin like normal people are supposed to do?

    • The US Has a Moral and Historical Responsibility to Aid Migrants

      If not for the United States, thousands of men, women, and children would be sitting at home in peace and comfort, not risking their lives across several thousand miles of dangerous terrain to reach the U.S-Mexico border. Mexico wouldn’t suffer from a bloated asylum and visa caseload because the U.S. won’t let in would-be asylum seekers. And Central America wouldn’t be plagued by the abject poverty, gang violence, and authoritarian regimes that characterize it today.

      For the past 150 years, the U.S. has invaded and laid waste to any country unwilling to support its financial or military aspirations. Central America has borne much of the brunt. While the U.S. initiated a colonial relationship with Latin America in the 19th century, its penchant for orchestrating military coups and training death squads didn’t form until the 1950s. The U.S. has a disturbing history of involvement with each of the countries in the “Northern Triangle,” the Central American region that comprises Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. It’s also, unsurprisingly, the area that most migrants come from.

      In 1952 Jacobo Arbenz, then-President of Guatemala, distributed United Fruit Company (UFC)-owned lands to 100,000 poor landless families. Even though Arbenz intended on compensating UFC, they weren’t willing to wait. Executives from UFC intensely lobbied the Eisenhower administration for Arbenz’s overthrow. Their message was well-received: then-Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen Dulles, director of the CIA, were previously lawyers for UFC and still owned company stock. Two years later, the CIA had replaced Arbenz with a ruthless dictator (the Kennedy administration intervened again in 1963); forty years of civil war ensued, resulting in a genocidal campaign against the indigenous Maya. Under dictator Efrain Rios Montt, the U.S.-backed Guatemalan military murdered over 200,000 people.

      El Salvador also experienced a civil war at the same time. From 1980 to 1992, the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) fought against the Salvadoran military junta. The Reagan administration offered military assistance and training to the Salvadoran special forces. Infamously horrific, the Atlacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran military—trained by none other than the U.S.—stormed into the village of El Mozote and massacred 1,000 people, many of whom were women and children. During the entire Salvadoran civil war, U.S.-backed Salvadoran death squads ruthlessly slaughtered 80,000 people.

    • The Etowah Visitation Project: Supporting the Needs of ICE Detainees

      The Etowah Visitation Project is a member group of Freedom for Immigrants formerly known as CIVIC (Community Initiatives for visiting Immigrants in Confinement), a national network which visits and monitors approximately 55 immigrant prisons in 23 states. Through visits and/or letters, we connect with immigrants who are being detained in the Etowah County Detention Center while they await immigration hearings or deportations. Our objective is to be there as friends and listeners open to people of all religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We bear witness to the suffering and to the enormous strength and resilience of character that many of the men possess.

      The immigrant men held in detention are under the administration of ICE. They are NOT being held for criminal acts (Prison time for criminal offenses, if any, has already been served prior to immigrant detention). They are being held for immigration violations (some for the “crime” of seeking asylum), and their cases are at various stages. Some have been held for many months or years.

      The stories of the men in detention are as varied as their personalities and their nationalities, with many countries of origin represented in the population. Many were brought here as young children and know no other country; many married and have US citizen children; many are relatively recent arrivals who came as asylum-seekers and after presenting themselves at the border, were immediately placed in detention centers. They are prisoners in our midst far away from home, family and friends, subject to being removed at any time to another detention facility or to their country of origin. Most have limited or no resources and no access to legal support.

    • Border Patrol Begins Collecting Biometric Data on Children

      U.S. border authorities say they’ve started to increase the biometric data they take from children 13 years old and younger, including fingerprints, despite privacy concerns and government policy intended to restrict what can be collected from migrant youths.

      A Border Patrol official said this week that the agency had begun a pilot program to collect the biometrics of children with the permission of the adults accompanying them, though he did not specify where along the border it has been implemented.

      The Border Patrol also has a “rapid DNA pilot program” in the works, said Anthony Porvaznik, the chief patrol agent in Yuma, Arizona, in a video interview published by the Epoch Times newspaper.

    • Central American women fleeing violence experience more trauma after seeking asylum

      The number of Central American women who make difficult, often harrowing, journeys to the United States to flee domestic and gang violence is rising.

      I’m a social science researcher and a social worker who has interviewed hundreds of women after they were detained by immigration authorities for my research about the relationship between violence against women and migration. I find that most female asylum seekers experience trauma, abuse and violence before they cross the U.S. border seeking asylum.

      What these women go through while detained by Customs and Border Protection or Immigration and Customs Enforcement can take an additional physical, social and emotional toll.

    • Rebuking Trump, 50th US Community Affirms ‘Refugees Welcome’ With New Resolution

      A growing number of U.S. communities are choosing to welcome refugees with open arms in a pointed contrast to President Donald Trump’s positions.

      A sign of that embrace, Amnesty International USA said Friday, was the passage of a resolution by a Massachusetts high school declaring it to be a “Refugees Welcome” zone—the 50th such resolution to pass across the county.

      “The student body of Westwood High School welcomes refugees and declares its support for the resettlement of refugees no matter their religion, race, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, or country of origin, in Westwood and calls upon other Massachusetts communities to join them in supporting a stronger national effort to resettle the world’s most vulnerable refugees,” the resolution states, according to Amnesty.

      “As a community, Westwood is raising awareness of the danger that refugees are in and making a difference,” said Ria Dani, the co-secretary of Westwood High School’s Amnesty International club.

      The resolution is part of Amnesty’s Longer Table initiative, which seeks to “build a movement of people uniting to welcome refugees in their own ways.”

    • Judge Gives Trump Admin Six Months to Identify Thousands of Children It Ripped From Families

      A federal judge on Thursday gave the Trump administration six months to identify potentially thousands of immigrant children it ripped from their families under the so-called “zero tolerance” border policy.

      The Trump administration previously said it could take two years to identify the separated children, but U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw sided with the ACLU, which sought the six-month deadline.

      “This order shows that the court continues to recognize the gravity of this situation,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement.

    • The Shameful Moralizing On Prisoner Voting Rights

      Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders was asked during a CNN Town Hall about voting rights for prisoners. The questioner tested Sanders by using people convicted of sexual assault and “terrorists” as totemic prisoners.

      “[Do you] support enfranchising people like the Boston Marathon bomber, a convicted terrorist and murderer?” Sanders was asked. “Do you think that those convicted of sexual assault should have the opportunity to vote for politicians who could have a direct impact on women’s rights?”

    • I Witnessed How Close South Africa Came to Civil War, 25 Years Ago Today

      Twenty-five years after South Africa’s miraculous first democratic elections, it’s easy to forget just how close the county came to civil war.

      I was working for the ANC (Western Cape) from 1992-4 and there were times – right up to Election Day itself – that, as Mandela said, it “seemed impossible until it was done.”

      With weeks to go, violence in KwaZulu-Natal was escalating with the Inkartha Freedom Party (IFP) boycotting the elections.

      Tensions were mounting in the so-called “homelands” of Ciskei, QwaQwa & Bophuthatswana.

      Well-armed conservative Afrikaner militias were mobilizing with Freedom Front leader, General Viljoen, admitting in 2001 up to 60,000 armed men had been mobilized. “My own followers started pushing hard: they wanted an end to all talks, they wanted the war to start,” he told a newspaper.

      Two days before the elections, a massive car bomb in Jo’burg killed 9 people including ANC candidate, Susan Keane, & injured 92. The next day, 12 people were killed by bombs targeting black people in Germiston & Pretoria.

      All attacks bore the hallmarks of white separatist groups.

    • To Conjure the Future We Want, We Need a Revolution of the Heart

      On the evening of October 21, 1967, a “ragtag” group of hippies, counterculture enthusiasts, artists and anti-Vietnam War demonstrators descended upon the Pentagon to perform a ritual exorcism with the goal of levitating the building 3 feet above the ground. While no one claims to have seen the Pentagon rise, the event became a unique example of using spiritual rituals toward political ends in the public eye and cultural consciousness.

      I first learned of this ritual exorcism during a workshop facilitated by activist and filmmaker Tourmaline, who came to Brown University in March of 2015 to talk with student activists engaged in a struggle to get our university to divest financially and ideologically from the prison-industrial complex.

      [...]

      Like the exorcists at the Pentagon in 1967, we, too, were a ragtag group of bandits, disenchanted by the makings of the world around us and longing for a different kind of revolution to move us past bloodshed and violence and suffering without creating more of the same.

      Could the use of spiritual rituals toward political ends — rituals like the attempted levitation of the Pentagon — serve some role in helping us reimagine the very foundations of change?

      We must look to things we have been taught to believe are impossible as a source of hope.
      Becoming committed to prison abolition — which imagines the possibilities of a world without prisons, thus, a world free of the logics and metrics of exploited labor, punitive retribution and disposability — has led me to see spirituality as a political imperative. By contemplating the notion of a world without prisons, we were posing deeply spiritual and moral inquiries into the very nature of humanity. What would be the makings of a world that did not operate on the principles of punishment, exile and exclusion? How would that be complicated by our own flawed humanity? And, in what ways would that demand deep transformations as individuals and communities?

      To face questions such as these, we must look to things we have been taught to believe are impossible as a source of hope, renewal and a possible path forward.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Mozilla Internet Health Report 2019

      This report is structured according to five overlapping themes that we consider a helpful framework for assessing internet health: privacy and security, openness, digital inclusion, web literacy, and decentralization, but it’s designed so you can read the articles in any order.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • US Govt Identifies Top Pirate Sites and Other ‘Notorious Markets’

        The US Government has published its list of the largest piracy websites and other “notorious markets.” This year’s overview includes usual suspects such as The Pirate Bay, FMovies, and Uploaded, but several gaming-related sites and even hosting companies are mentioned as well. The USTR hopes that by highlighting the threats, platform operators or foreign authorities will take action.

      • Zippyshare Shows ‘Forbidden’ Message to German Visitors

        File-hosting site Zippyshare receives an estimated 100m visitors per month but last month became largely inaccessible in the UK. The same fate now appears to have befallen users in Germany., who are now greeted with a “forbidden” error message.

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