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05.14.19

Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 2: Meet the Kötters

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

See part one

The Kötters
Friedrich P. Kötter and his sister Martina Kötter

Summary: An introduction to the Kötter Group, the private security conglomerate which is lined up for the award of a juicy EUR 30 million contract for the provision of security services at the EPO

Kötter SE & Co. KG Security is part of the Kötter Group, Germany’s largest family-managed security services provider. It is no. 2 in the industry overall with 90 branch offices at more than 50 locations across Germany. The Group operates as an independent family business and is currently managed by Friedrich P. Kötter and his sister Martina Kötter, the third generation.

The Kötter Group sees itself as a “universal services provider” and its activities include the provision of security services and technology as well as cleaning and and facility management. Over the last decade or so they have expanded to offering services in the field of “integrative judiciary solutions” and “support for non-jurisdictional responsibilities” which seems to be jargon for the “private prison industry”.

Amongst other things, Kötter is involved in providing security services for the Central German Lignite Mining Company (MIBRAG mbH) which is based in the eastern part of Germany. It used to be the state-owned East German VEB Braunkohlenkombinat Bitterfeld. After privatisation in 1994 it came into the ownership of US investors – Washington Group International (Boise/USA) und NRG Energy Inc. (Minneapolis/USA).

As its name suggests, MIBRAG’s main line of business is open-pit lignite mining and its operations have often been a subject of controversy.

For example, ongoing protests and objections from many quarters have been triggered by its plans to bulldoze the 700-year old medieval hamlet of Pödelwitz, near Leipzig as a part of an extension of its mining operations in the eastern German state of Saxony.

MIBRAG Pödelwitz

The opponents of the planned demolition of Pödelwitz include Greenpeace which has supported the setting up of a climate activists’ camp in Pödelwitz.

Pödelwitz

Greenpeace

Protest camp Pödelwitz

It goes without saying that protest actions like this are a “goldmine” for private security companies like the Kötter Group whose agents are often to be seen monitoring the situation from a safe distance.

Kötters mibrag Pödelwitz

Kötter is well-known – not to say “notorious” – among environmental activists in Germany because it has a well-established track-record of providing security services for dealing with such protest actions.

In 2008 and 2009, Kötter was active in the Frankfurt area where activists occupied part of the Kelsterbach Forest which was marked for clearance in connection with the construction of a new runway for Frankfurt Airport.

Kelsterbach wald

A video of the Kötter agents in action at Kelsterbach in January 2009 can be seen here.

More recently, Kötter has been active for the energy conglomerate RWE supporting its attempts to fell last 200 hectares of western Germany’s ancient Hambach Forest near Cologne. This is another case of a planned expansion of open-pit lignite mining operations which has generated a lot of public protest.

Kötter agents are regularly observed on patrol in the Hambach Forest and surrounding areas.

Kötter Hambacher Forst

Kötter Hambacher Forst 2

The next time you see someone in a “yellow vest” at the EPO just be aware that it may not be a disaffected French staff member engaging a protest action but it might in fact be one of the EPO’s new security team.

Kötter are also regularly engaged by RWE to perform guard duty at its shareholders’ AGM which normally takes place in Essen where both companies have their corporate headquarters.

Kötter RWE AGM

In the next part we will cover a number of further controversies in which the Kötter Group has been embroiled in recent years and look at its questionable labour market practices and strained relations with German trade unions such as Verdi.

Links 14/5/2019: Red Hat Satellite 6.5, NVIDIA 430.14 Linux Driver and New Security Bug (MDS)

Posted in News Roundup at 4:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Google Brings Linux to Chromebook

      Linux based Chrombooks are not capable of natively running Linux apps and utilities. Last year Google launched project Crostini to allow Linux apps – primarily command line tools and utilities to run natively on ChromeOS using containerization.

      According to some media reports, at the Google I/O summit this year, Google announced that “all Chromebooks launched in 2019 will be Linux-ready right out of the box.” It means all new Chromebooks will have Crostini enabled by default.

      “Crostini is the umbrella term for making Linux application support easy to use and integrating well with Chrome OS. It largely focuses on getting you a Terminal with a container with easy access to install whatever developer-focused tools you might want. It’s the default first-party experience,” said the Project Crostini page.

  • Server

    • Red Hat Satellite 6.5 is now available

      Red Hat Satellite is a systems management solution that makes Red Hat infrastructure simple to deploy, scale, and manage across physical, virtual, and cloud environments. Satellite enables users to control the full lifecycle of Red Hat systems and ensure that they are running efficiently, more securely, and compliant with various standards.

      By automating most tasks related to maintaining systems, Satellite helps organizations increase efficiency, reduce operational costs, and enables IT to better respond to strategic business needs.

      If you are new to Satellite please check out the Satellite product page or the free RH053 Satellite Technical Overview course.

    • Google Cloud Sandbox Environments On Demand with Playground

      We’ve been talking about it for a while now during our Weekly Updates, and we’re finally ready to reveal our Google Sandbox Environment! Like our AWS environments, our Google environments are created on demand and allow you to work in a hassle-free, and compliance-friendly environment. These Google Playground Cloud Sandbox environments are available for all of our individual and business accounts!

    • Rob Bearden To Replace Steve Singh As Docker CEO

      Steve Singh is stepping down as Docker CEO after two years at the helm. Hortonworks CEO Rob Bearden will be taking over to lead the company. Bearden is said to have been working closely with Singh over the last several months as a potential candidate to join the board and as a consultant to the executive team.

      In his new role at Docker, Rob will accelerate Docker’s enterprise go-to-market strategy while continuing to fuel innovation in the technologies and products that drive digital transformation in an increasingly hybrid cloud world. Rob will also serve on Docker’s board of directors.

    • MontaVista Software Announces Commercial Support For Clear Linux OS
    • LF Edge Momentum Continues with Project EVE Seed Code, Project Demonstrations at IoT World and New Members

      LF Edge, an umbrella organization within the Linux Foundation that aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system, today announced continued project momentum. Project Edge Virtualization Engine (EVE) receives initial seed code from LF Edge founding member ZEDEDA, as the community showcases a range of edge/IoT application demonstrations, from connected cars to wind turbines, on-site at IoT World.

      Additionally, LF Edge welcomes new Associate and Liaison member organizations Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), the LIONS Center at the Pennsylvania State University, OTAinfo, and University of New Hampshire’s Interoperability Lab (UNH-IOL).

      “We are excited to see the LF community continue to collaborate on building unified edge solutions,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, IoT and Edge Computing, the Linux Foundation. “We appreciate ZEDEDA’s leadership in helping us advance On-Prem Edge IoT with initiatives like Project EVE, and are eager to showcase the broad capabilities of LF Edge onsite in Santa Clara while welcoming our newest members.”

    • OPNFV Hunter Delivers Test Tools, CI/CD Framework to Enable Common NFVI for Verifying VNFs

      LF Networking (LFN), which facilitates collaboration and operational excellence across open networking projects, today announced the availability of OPNFV ?Hunter,? the platform?s eighth release. Hunter advances OPNFV?s system level integration, deployment, and testing to collaboratively build a common industry Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI) that will reduce Communication Service Provider (CSP) and Virtual Network Function (VNF) vendor efforts to verify VNFs against different NFVI platforms.

      Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) is a project and community that facilitates a common NFVI, continuous integration (CI) with upstream projects, stand-alone testing toolsets, and a compliance and verification program for industry-wide testing and integration to accelerate the transformation of enterprise and service provider networks.

      ?The latest OPNFV release sets the stage for a real turning point in the maturity of the platform,? said Heather Kirksey, vice president, Community & Ecosystem Development, the Linux Foundation. ?With continued evolution in areas of testing, verification, and CI/CD, OPNFV is on its way to enable a common NFVI stack that will meet the needs of operators. We are working in collaboration with both global operators as well as the GSMA, and I am incredibly excited to see the community work to provide the resources needed to accelerate network transformation across the ecosystem.?

    • Glusterfs vs. Ceph: Which Wins the Storage War?

      Storing data at scale isn?t like saving a file on your hard drive. It requires a software manager to keep track of all the bits that make up your company?s files. That?s where distributed storage management packages like Ceph and Gluster come into place.

      Ceph and Gluster are both systems used for managing distributed storage. Both are considered software-defined storage, meaning they?re largely hardware-agnostic. They organize the bits that make up your data using their own underlying infrastructure, which is what defines this choice: what underlying framework do you want supporting your data?

      That?s a decision you want to make based on the type of data you?re storing, how that data is accessed, and where that data lives. Ceph and GlusterFS are both good choices, but their ideal applications are subtly different.

    • Developing Kubernetes API Extensions And Operators – Kubebuilder Vs Operator Kit Vs Metacontroller

      As more teams adopt Kubernetes in production, specific use cases and needs have emerged that build on the core feature set of the project. Rather than attempt to fit every requirement in Kubernetes itself, the community has worked towards building an extension framework to enable developers to build support for these different scenarios. Examples of customizing Kubernetes include configuring different network or storage plugins, restricting what container images can be run inside Pods and other admission policies, or creating API extensions for automating common cluster operations. Let?s take a deeper look at the latter type of extension.

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Available

      At the Red Hat Summit, 2019 the company announced the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.

      According to Red Hat, RHEL Linux 8 is redesigned for the hybrid cloud era and built to support the workloads and operations that stretch from enterprise datacenters to multiple public clouds.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Maintainer’s / Kernel Summit 2019 planning kick-off

      The planning process for the 2019 Linux Kernel and Maintainer’s Summits (Lisbon, Portugal, September 9 to 12) has begun. If you have a topic that you would like to see discussed at either event, now is the time to send in a proposal to the ksummit-discuss list; click below for the details.

    • How to securely delete files in Linux with srm

      With the Linux platform, there are a few possible tools for this process, some of which cannot be depended on for deleting such information and some which only reliably work on magnetic drives. So if your servers work with SSDs, you need to make sure to use a tool that’s up for the task. One such tool is the Secure-delete Toolkit.

    • CGroup Interactions

      CGroups are under constant development, partly because they form the core of many commercial services these days. An amazing thing about this is that they remain an unfinished project. Isolating and apportioning system elements is an ongoing effort, with many pieces still to do. And because of security concerns, it never may be possible to present a virtual system as a fully independent system. There always may be compromises that have to be made.

      Recently, Andrey Ryabinin tried to fix what he felt was a problem with how CGroups dealt with low-memory situations. In the current kernel, low-memory situations would cause Linux to recuperate memory from all CGroups equally. But instead of being fair, this would penalize any CGroup that used memory efficiently and reward those CGroups that allocated more memory than they needed.

      Andrey’s solution to this was to have Linux recuperate unused memory from CGroups that had it, before recuperating any from those that were in heavy use. This would seem to be even less fair than the original behavior, because only certain CGroups would be targeted and not others.

    • Intel Comet Lake Support Appears To Be In Good Shape With Linux 5.2

      Intel “Comet Lake” CPUs look like they will be well supported when running on the in-development Linux 5.2 kernel or later.

      Intel Comet Lake is the yet-to-launch successor to Coffee Lake / Whiskey Lake and, yes, yet another 14nm product and Gen 9 graphics. Comet Lake CPUs are rumored to be launched around the middle of the year and reportedly up to 10 physical cores. The most recent rumor is that Comet Lake CPUs will require a new motherboard/socket, but so far there haven’t been any apparent Linux kernel commits confirming that fact.

    • Graphics Stack

      • mesa 19.1.0-rc2
        Hello, list.
        
        The second release candidate for Mesa 19.1.0 is now available.
        
        Remind that right now there are two bugs blocking the final release:
        
        #110302 - [bisected][regression] piglit egl-create-pbuffer-surface and egl-gl-colorspace regressions
        #110357 - [REGRESSION] [BISECTED] [OpenGL CTS] cts-runner --type=gl46 fails in new attempted "41" configuration
        
        
        Bas Nieuwenhuizen (1):
              radv: Do not use extra descriptor space for the 3rd plane.
        
        Caio Marcelo de Oliveira Filho (1):
              anv: Fix limits when VK_EXT_descriptor_indexing is used
        
        Dave Airlie (1):
              kmsro: add _dri.so to two of the kmsro drivers.
        
        Dylan Baker (1):
              meson: Force the use of config-tool for llvm
        
        Eric Engestrom (1):
              travis: fix syntax, and drop unused stuff
        
        Gert Wollny (1):
              softpipe/buffer: load only as many components as the the buffer resource type provides
        
        Juan A. Suarez Romero (1):
              Update version to 19.1.0-rc2
        
        Józef Kucia (1):
              radv: clear vertex bindings while resetting command buffer
        
        Kenneth Graunke (5):
              i965: Fix BRW_MEMZONE_LOW_4G heap size.
              i965: Force VMA alignment to be a multiple of the page size.
              i965: leave the top 4Gb of the high heap VMA unused
              i965: Fix memory leaks in brw_upload_cs_work_groups_surface().
              iris: Use full ways for L3 cache setup on Icelake.
        
        Leo Liu (1):
              winsys/amdgpu: add VCN JPEG to no user fence group
        
        Lionel Landwerlin (4):
              anv: rework queries writes to ensure ordering memory writes
              anv: fix use after free
              anv: Use corresponding type from the vector allocation
              vulkan/overlay: keep allocating draw data until it can be reused
        
        Marek Olšák (1):
              st/mesa: fix 2 crashes in st_tgsi_lower_yuv
        
        Rob Clark (1):
              freedreno/ir3: fix rasterflat/glxgears
        
        Samuel Pitoiset (1):
              radv: fix setting the number of rectangles when it's dyanmic
        
        Timothy Arceri (1):
              Revert "glx: Fix synthetic error generation in __glXSendError"
        
        Tomeu Vizoso (2):
              panfrost: Fix two uninitialized accesses in compiler
              panfrost: Only take the fast paths on buffers aligned to block size
        
        git tag: mesa-19.1.0-rc2
      • Mesa 19.1-RC2 Released For Testing With The Latest Intel & Radeon Driver Fixes

        We are coming up on the Mesa 19.1 quarterly feature release hopefully by the end of the month while out today is the second release candidate for evaluating this next big update to these OpenGL and Vulkan driver implementations.

      • NVIDIA 430.14 driver released, DiRT 4 and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Steam Play) get improvements

        NVIDIA today pushed out the 430.14 stable driver, it comes with a few notable improvements but it’s quite a small release overall.

        This time around they named two titles specifically seeing driver improvements. They noted that DiRT 4 with Vulkan, a more recent Linux port from Feral Interactive should see improvements with Vulkan. Additionally, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus when played in Steam Play should see performance improvements thanks to “support for presentation from queue families which only expose VK_QUEUE_COMPUTE_BIT” and it also adds support for the Quadro P2200.

      • NVIDIA 430.14 Linux Driver Improves Vulkan Performance For DiRT 4, Steam Play Games

        NVIDIA released the 430.14 Linux driver today as their first non-beta driver build in this 430 branch.

        This new driver builds on the earlier 430.09 beta driver like better VDPAU interoperability while now having some performance optimizations around DiRT 4 that is powered on Linux by Vulkan. There are also various other Vulkan driver improvements to help Steam Play games like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.

      • Nvidia 430.14 Linux Driver Improves Performance for DiRT 4 and Wolfenstein II

        Nvidia has released today new long-lived stable graphics drivers for Linux, BSD, and Solaris systems to add a bunch of various enhancements, bug fixes, and performance improvements for some games.
        The Nvidia 430.14 display driver is now available for Linux-based operating system with performance improvements for the DiRT 4 video game, which was ported last month by UK-based video games publisher Feral Interactive to Linux and Mac platforms, as well as for the Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus first-person shooter video game, which is available as a Steam Play title.

        The Nvidia 430.14 display driver also adds new functionality to the Nvidia VDPAU driver, including support for decoding HEVC YUV 4:4:4 streams, new per-decoder profile capability, support for accessing YUV 4:4:4 surfaces, support for creating YUV 4:4:4 video surfaces, and support for allocating VDPAU video surfaces with explicit frame or field picture structure.

    • Benchmarks

      • GCC 9 vs. Clang 8 C/C++ Compiler Performance On AMD Threadripper, Intel Core i9

        Since the release of the GCC 9 stable compiler suite earlier this month we have begun firing up a number of compiler benchmarks for this annual feature update to the GNU Compiler Collection. For your viewing pleasure today is looking at the performance of GCC 8 against GCC 9 compared to LLVM Clang 8 as the latest release of this friendly open-source compiler competition. This GCC 8 vs. GCC 9 vs. Clang 8 C/C++ compiler benchmarking was done on an Intel Core i9 7980XE and AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX high-end desktop/workstation systems.

  • Applications

    • Audacity 2.3.2 Released

      Audacity 2.3.2 replaces all previous versions for Windows, macOS and Linux.

    • Audacity 2.3.2 Released with Improvements / Fixes (How-to Install)

      Audacity audio editor and recorder released version 2.3.2 a day ago with some improvements and various bug-fixes. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 18.04, and higher.

    • Top 20 Best Time Tracking Software for Linux in 2019

      The competence of any corporate worker or any software engineer or any highly paid programmers depends on how good he or she can manage the working time. The professionals pay their employee based on their hourly work. So to enhance efficiency, the proper project management, the liability towards work – time management is the must. To control time expenses, numerous time tracking software will work as a panacea. Among them, Linux time tracking software will work as amelioration for the programmers or any people of other occupations.

    • Spoke, now on the Web

      Spoke, the editor that lets you create 3D scenes for use in Hubs, is now available as a fully featured web app. When we announced the beta for Spoke back in October, it was the first step towards making the process of creating social VR spaces easier for everyone. At Mozilla, we believe in the power of the web, and it was a natural decision for us to make Spoke more widely available by making the editor entirely available online – no downloads required.

      The way that we communicate is often guided by the spaces that we are in. We use our understanding of the environment to give us cues to the tone of the room, and understanding how to build environments that reflect different use cases for social collaboration is an important element of how we view the Hubs platform. With Spoke, we want everyone to have the creative control over their rooms from the ground (plane) up.

      We’re constantly impressed by the content that 3D artists and designers create and we think that Spoke is the next step in making it easier for everyone to learn how to make their own 3D environments. Spoke isn’t trying to replace the wide range of 3D modeling or animation software out there, we just want to make it easier to bring all of that awesome work into one place so that more people can build with the media all of these artists have shared so generously with the world.

    • The Wayland Itches project

      Now that GNOME3 on Wayland is the default in Fedora I’ve been trying to use this as my default desktop, but until recently I’ve kept falling back to GNOME3 on Xorg because of various small issues.

      To fix this I’ve switched to using GNOME3 on Wayland as day to day desktop now and I’m working on fixing any issues which this causes as I hit them, aka “The Wayland Itches project”.

    • Prolific Red Hat Developer Starts Up “Wayland Itches” Project

      Longtime Red Hat developer Hans de Goede who has been responsible for many Linux desktop improvements over the years from laptop support fixes to open-source GPU driver fixes to most recently flicker-free boot has a new area of hacking: taking care of the pain points under Wayland.

      Goede has announced the “Wayland Itches” project for addressing common “itches” / paper cuts / bugs affecting the usability of Wayland compared to the X.Org Server. While Fedora Workstation has shipped with GNOME Shell on Wayland by default for several cycles now, Hans admitted he has kept finding himself switching back to the X.Org session over these little annoyances / bugs.

    • 5 Best Application Launchers for Ubuntu

      Ubuntu is one of the most used Linux distributions worldwide. It is also the reason why it has the maximum number of available programs for itself. Today we are going to talk about one category of those programs, the application launchers.

      Ubuntu’s default application launcher is decent and good enough for most users.

    • Proprietary

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Proton 4.2-4 Released With Fix For RAGE 2, Updated DXVK

        Valve has just released Proton 4.2-4 as their newest downstream of Wine that is used by Steam Play for running Steam Windows games on Linux.

        Proton 4.2-4 pulls in DXVK 1.1.1 as a big update itself. Making Proton 4.2-4 more interesting is a fix for the new RAGE 2 game though for it to run you also need to be using Mesa Git.

      • SteamOS had another beta update recently, new Steam Play Proton version 4.2-4 is out

        Two bits of Valve news to cover tonight: SteamOS gains a new beta version and it looks like Steam Play Proton will be getting an update soon.

        Let’s start with SteamOS, Valve’s own-brand Linux distribution, mainly aimed at living-room console-style boxes for a large screen experience. It’s still going and the 2.190 beta version is now out for those who’ve chosen to live on the edge with the brewmaster_beta. It’s not a big one, with it including mainly security updates and firmware-nonfree updates. Looks like Timothee “TTimo” Besset (formely id Software, helped to port Rocket League to Linux – see my previous interview) is currently keeping it going.

      • SteamWorld Quest releasing end of May on Steam with Linux support

        SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech mixes things up, again, as this time it’s a roleplaying card game and it’s releasing on May 31st. Currently, they’ve only said it will be on Steam so far.

        SteamWorld Quest originally released first on the Nintendo Switch, where it has gone onto receiving plenty of high praise. This makes me happy, considering I also enjoyed the previous games.

        The press email was very clear on platforms too “Coming soon to Windows, macOS and Linux!”, so there’s no need to guess with this. Not surprising though, since Image & Form Games have supported Linux nicely with the previous SteamWorld games but it’s still great to see it confirmed.

      • Jupiter Hell continues being a great combination of Doom and a roguelike, now with challenge modes

        Another Jupiter Hell update arrived recently, as ChaosForge rip and tear towards the Early Access release next month. I expect great things when this is finished, as it’s already glorious.

      • Minecraft can now be downloaded from Flathub on Linux using Flatpak

        For those of you who prefer downloading things and keeping them up to date using Flatpak, you can now grab Minecraft on Flathub. A good time too, with the recent huge Village & Pillage update that was released back in April.

        Seems they had some trouble getting the Minecraft Flatpak ready, with the original request being opened back in November 2017 but it finally arrived this month.

      • You might need to bring a shovel for Stellaris: Ancient Relics, the newly announced story expansion

        It’s a good day to be a space nerd, as Paradox Development Studio and Paradox Interactive have announced Stellaris: Ancient Relics.

        This is a new Story Pack, that will allow you to sift through the rubble of ancient civilizations in Relic Worlds, to piece together exactly what happened to them and maybe come out of it with some fun new toys for your own civilization in the process. Check out the stylish teaser, which gives little away but still helps me get quite excited at the same time:

      • Fight off the vicious Shrooms in Mushroom Crusher Extreme, some thoughts now it’s out

        Mushroom Crusher Extreme, a retro-styled action game that sees you fight off vicious Shrooms using various spells has left Early Access. A bit of an odd setting but certainly not the weirdest game I’ve played.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt on CMake Workshop Summary – May ’19

        From May 2nd to May 3rd another Qt on CMake workshop was hosted at the KDAB premises in Berlin, where interested stakeholders from both The Qt Company and KDAB gathered together to drive the CMake build system in Qt further. Many of KDAB’s customers are using CMake in their Qt projects, so we are keen to see the CMake support for Qt improve and happy to help out to make it happen. The workshop was public, for anyone interested, but we had no external visitors this time. We’d be happy to have some more CMake enthusiasts or interested people in these workshops, so be sure to sign up for the next CMake workshop (watch the qt-development mailing list for this)!

        This workshop in May was mostly intended to reassess what has happened in the wip/cmake branch of qtbase since the last workshop and to discuss any further work. We spent almost half of the first day just deciding how to approach certain things such as how the CMake build system port will affect the upcoming Qt6 work, which is currently gaining momentum as well. We had between 8 and 10 people present across the 2 day workshop, from KDAB and (mostly) The Qt Company.

      • Upcoming news in Plasma 5.16

        We already had WireGuard support in Plasma 5.15, but it existed as a VPN plugin based on a NM WireGuard plugin, which wasn’t really working very well and didn’t utilize many of already existing NM properties. With release of NetworkManager 1.16, we have a new native support of WireGuard which is much more usable. It now exists as a new connection type so it’s implemented a bit differently compared to other VPNs. This mean that we had to implement first support for this connection type and its properties into NetworkManagerQt and implement an UI on top of that. The UI part of the new WireGuard support, same as the old VPN plugin, were implemented by Bruce Anderson. We are also probably (at this moment) the only one who provides an UI for WireGuard configuration so thank you Bruce for such a big contribution.

        [...]

        Remote desktop portal brings possibility to control remotely your Wayland Plasma sessions. It utilizes screensharing portal to get the screen content and adds API for mouse/keyboard/touch control. Unfortunately at this moment only mouse support is implemented, mainly because I use KWayland::FakeInput protocol and mouse support is the only one currently implemented there. At this moment there is no Qt/KDE based application using remote desktop portal (or at least released one), but I have added support into Krfb, which is currently on review and I hope to get it merged for KDE Applications 19.08. Alternatively you can use gnome-remote-desktop.

      • KDE Plasma: Control Audio/Video Playing In The Browser Using Android Or Media Player Plasmoid

        KDE Plasma Browser Integration is a cool feature added in Plasma 5.13 of which some users are probably not aware, so I thought I’d explain what this does and how to enable it.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Chromecast Extension “Cast to TV” v9 Adds Subtitle Configuration, Nautilus Integration

        For the latest Cast to TV v9, the extension settings were redesigned, and there are some new options. The most important change is in my opinion, the addition of Chromecast subtitle settings – you can now change the subtitle font family, style, size, color, outline or background color.

        The new version ships with an easier way of installing the required npm modules – a button to install the modules was added to the Modules tab.

        Yet another new option allows hiding the remote label (the text shown on the top bar for the Chromecast remote when casting), a useful addition since the text was quite long and it wasn’t showing any useful information.

  • Distributions

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • eCube Systems Announces NXTera 7.1 Cloud-Enabled Entera RPC Middleware Certified on Suse Linux Enterprise 12

        eCube Systems, a leading provider of middleware modernization, integration and management solutions, announced the release of NXTera™ 7.1 High Performance RPC Middleware for SUSE Linux Enterprise 12. NXTera 7.1 is the official Borland sanctioned replacement middleware for Entera and includes modern tools for DevOps, advanced naming services with NAT support, JDBC database access for Entera servers, Eclipse workbench for COBOL, FORTRAN, C and C# language integration; and webservice enhancements to its generation of C, C# and JAVA services interfaces and clients.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How open source is helping removing data silos in the enterprise [Q&A]

    Historically data has been stored in silos in order to deliver a quick solution. But in the longer term silos can slow down decision making, make modifying systems harder, and hinder compliance with regulations.

    One of the ways to break down barriers between silos is to allow data to be freely shared between them and open source has a big part to play in this. We spoke to Mandy Chessell, distinguished engineer at IBM Cognitive Applications, and recently elected leader of the Technical Steering Committee of the ODPi, to learn more.

  • Mike Hoye: The Next Part Of The Process [Ed: Mozilla is lost. Microsoft and proprietary software with NSA PRISM. Mozilla nowadays does things in violation of its own mission statement and spirit. Having hired top executives from Facebook and similar firms, it's not hard to identify the cause of issues.]

    I’ll be making an effort to ferry any useful information on Discourse back to GitHub, which unfortunately presents some barriers to some members of our community.

    While this won’t be quite the same as a typical RFC/RFP process – I expect the various vendors as well as members the Mozilla community to be involved – we’ll be taking a lot of cues from the Rust community’s hard-won knowledge about how to effectively run a public consultation process.

    [...]

    As part of that process, our IT team will be standing up instances of each of the candidate stacks and putting them behind the Participation Systems team’s “Mozilla-IAM” auth system. We’ll be making them available to the Mozilla community at first, and expanding that to include Github and via-email login soon afterwards for broader community testing. Canonical links to these trial systems will be prominently displayed on the GitHub repository; as the line goes, accept no substitutes.

  • OSI Board Evolution [Ed: Now with Microsoft]

    The OSI I’m handing over to the new Board is very different to the one I first attended in 2008. It is now elected rather than selected (albeit via an indirect mechanism to make California regulation easier to manage). The electors are over 60 affiliate organisations representing the majority of the world’s core open source developers and an ever growing community of individual members. OSI now has a viable income arising largely from a diverse range of around 30 sponsors. It now has a staff, including a full-time General Manager (Patrick Masson, far right). It now has maintained systems for managing donations, lists and outreach. And there’s more been achieved – those are just stand-outs.

    All together that means OSI has a proven foundation for the new Board to build upon. Already built on that foundation there are a postgraduate curriculum, a programme to advocate open source in the world of standards, a programme to equip schools with recycled PCs, working relationships with peer organisations like FSF and FSFE and more. There are many people responsible for all this change, too many to name here, and I thank them all.

  • Molly de Blanc: advice

    Recently I was asked two very good questions about being involved in free/open source software: How do you balance your paid/volunteer activities? What sort of career advice do you have for people looking to get involved professionally?

    I liked answering these in part because I have very little to do with the software side, and also because, much like many technical volunteers, my activities between my volunteer work and my paid work have been similar-to-identical over the years.

    [...]

    I was able to take on even more responsibility at the OSI.

  • Open Source Advocates express concern about Microsoft monopolizing OSS tooling [Ed: Everyone needs to delete GitHub now that dedicated Microsoft propaganda sites try to dismiss claims that Microsoft uses GitHub to sabotage the FOSS world]

    The executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, Mike Milinkovich now believes that Microsoft is heading for a complete monopoly which might endanger other companies and projects like Eclipse IDE. According to a recent survey by Stack Overflow (via The Register), Eclipse leads the market share for Jakarta EE development and is followed by IntelliJ IDEA and Visual Studio Code.

  • Events

    • Recap: FOSDEM19

      This year’s FOSDEM (Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting) has been held in in the beautiful city of Brussels (Belgium), as usual, on February 2 & 3, 2019. It was organised by volunteers to promote the widespread use of free and open source software..

      This was my first FOSDEM as a deputy member of the MC, and a fresh member of the Collabora team.

      I will try to give some information about my talks, and share my experience.

  • LibreOffice

    • Sophie Gautier talks about the [LibreOffice] project

      I may not remember all of them, but I guess the creation of the Native Language projects with the French speaking one as a Proof of Concept in 2001. Then the many community supported projects such as marketing, documentation, etc.

      And then of course, the birth of the LibreOffice project. Since then I?ve the impression that each year is a milestone ;-)

      There have been so many exciting things to do in each corner of the project. The community is pushing a lot of good ideas and energy. Considering the work done on QA, UX/Design and marketing for the product or the community, the new help system and the size of our infra, we have achieved more than we could even imagine ten years ago!

  • Programming/Development

    • Announcing Rust 1.34.2

      The Rust team has published a new point release of Rust, 1.34.2. Rust is a programming language that is empowering everyone to build reliable and efficient software.

    • Writing Cleaner Python Code With PyLint

      PyLint is a well-known static analysis tool for Python 2 and 3. It has a number of useful features, like checking your code for compliance with the PEP 8 Python style guide. It makes sure that your code follows the code style guide and it can also automatically identify common bugs and errors in your Python code.

      In this video series you’ll see how to install and set up the PyLint code linter tool. You’ll learn why you should use code linters like PyLint, Flake8, PyFlakes, or other static analysis tools—and how they can help you write cleaner and more Pythonic code.

      You can get this setup up and running in a few minutes and it’ll quickly help you write better and cleaner Python code.

    • LLVM Clang 9.0 Picks Up Initial C2x Language Mode

      Merged today to the mainline Clang compiler front-end is the initial C2x language mode support as what will eventually be the successor to the C18 programming language.

      C2x is still quite a ways out from release and its changes still under determination. At this stage the C2x language support for LLVM Clang is just enabling support by default for the [[attribute]] (double square brackets attribute; similar to C++) support.

    • Librem 5 App Design Tutorial – Part II

      Hello and welcome to the second of my series of blog posts on how to design your own, brand new app for the Librem 5.

      In my last post we went over the philosophy and process, goals and relevant art of building a read-it-later app; today we’ll be discussing sketches and mockups – specifically in what concerns navigation, article and article list screens, and desktops.

    • Working with PDFs in Python: Adding Images and Watermarks

      Today, a world without the Portable Document Format (PDF) seems to be unthinkable. It has become one of the most commonly used data formats ever. Up to PDF version 1.4, displaying a PDF document in an according PDF viewer works fine. Unfortunately, the features from the newer PDF revisions, such as forms, are tricky to implement, and still require further work to be fully functional in the tools. Using various Python libraries you can create your own application in an comparable easy way.

      This article is part two of a little series on PDFs with Python. In part one we already gave you an introduction into reading PDF documents using Python, and started with a summary of the various Python libraries. An introduction followed that showed how to manipulate existing PDFs, and how to read and extract the content – both the text and images. Furthermore, we showed you how to split documents into its single pages.

      In this article you will learn how add images to your PDF in the form of watermarks, stamps, and barcodes. For example this is quite helpful in order to stamp or mark documents that are intended to be read by a specific audience, only, or have a draft quality, or to simply add a barcode for identification purposes.

    • react-content-marker Released – Marking Content with React

      Last year, in a React side-project, I had to replace some content in a string with HTML markup. That is not a trivial thing to do with React, as you can’t just put HTML as string in your content, unless you want to use dangerouslySetInnerHtml — which I don’t. So, I hacked a little code to smartly split my string into an array of sub-strings and DOM elements.

      More recently, while working on Translate.Next — the rewrite of Pontoon’s translate page to React — I stumbled upon the same problem. After looking around the Web for a tool that would solve it, and coming up short handed, I decided to write my own and make it a library.

    • PyCharm 2019.1.2

      The observant among you may have noticed that PyCharm was updated last week without an accompanying blog post. This happened as all of us on the blog team were busy with PyCon. To hopefully make up for the delay we’ve published a PyCon interview with Michael Kennedy on YouTube, and expect to see more interviews there soon!

    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #368 (May 14, 2019)
  • Standards/Consortia

    • AT&T, DT, China Telecom throw support behind TM Forum’s Open APIs

      The TM Forum announced that AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Salesforce and China Telecom have signed on in support of its Open APIs.

      Those companies showed their support by signing the TM Forum’s Open API Manifesto, which commits them to using the TM Forum’s APIs in their products and service offerings as well as in their request-for-proposal (RFP) processes.

      “Open APIs and open source software are at the heart of our network transformation, and we’re thrilled at the broader ecosystem that’s adopting the same approach,” said AT&T’s Chris Rice, senior vice president, network cloud and infrastructure, in a statement. “TM Forum has played a critical role in nurturing this ecosystem, and we’re pleased to support their Open API initiative.”

      The new members also agreed to take part in the TM Forum’s Collaboration program to continuously innovate and update the suite of Open APIs. Those APIs are in use by more than 7,000 software developers In over 1,200 companies worldwide

Leftovers

  • Daily News Roundup: Apple’s App Store Monopoly

    As of late, Apple has been under fire for its App Store practices. Specifically, the fact that it takes a 30% cut of all app sales, causing developers to raise prices, leaving users no other choice but to pay up.

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled iPhone owners could proceed with a suit against Apple for the practice. Since Apple only allows apps to be downloaded directly from its App Store on iOS, the claim is that it has a monopoly over app distribution. It’s an interesting angle because iOS is one of the only (or perhaps the only?) operating systems that works like this. Android, Windows, Linux, and even macOS allow users to install whatever they like outside of any official channels that exist.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Why We’re Unwilling to Confront the Dirty Truth About Eating Meat

      For years, people have tried to justify the five-second rule. The “rule” suggests that if food falls on the ground, you have five seconds to pick it up before it becomes bacterially contaminated. Of course, there is no science to back this up. Instead, we come up with our own justifications like, “Don’t worry. It’s just a slice of cheese. You can wipe it off quickly,” or “It’s a jelly bean, not a gummy bear. See? Nothing stuck to it.”

      The science however, is definitive: drop your food on the ground and almost instantaneously it will have bacteria on it. So why does the myth persist? Simply, because we want it to. We can’t see the bacteria and it doesn’t appear to cause any harm, so most people (79 percent, according to one survey) will pick up and eat food that’s been dropped on the floor.

      Now, a dirty jelly bean is one thing, but when it comes to the dirty truth of our food system, are we able to confront the facts or do we do the same thing and look away because we want to?

    • Bayer’s $2 Billion Roundup Damages Boost Pressure to Settle

      Bayer AG was ordered to pay more than $2 billion in damages to a California couple that claimed they got cancer as a result of using its Roundup weedkiller for about three decades, raising pressure on the company to settle thousands of similar lawsuits.

      It’s the largest jury award in the U.S. so far this year and the eighth-largest ever in a product-defect claim, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The verdict prompted some analysts to boost their estimates on the value of a settlement.

    • Third Jury Rules Roundup Caused Cancer, Orders Bayer to Pay $2 Billion

      A third jury ruled that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused cancer Monday, awarding a California couple more than $2 billion in damages. Not only is it the largest award in a Roundup trial to date, it is also the largest U.S. jury award this year and the eighth-largest product-defect award ever, Bloomberg reported.

      “We really wanted to tell Monsanto, ‘Cut it out, do better,’ and we wanted to get their attention,” juror Doug Olsen told Bloomberg of the award.

    • ‘Historic’ Verdict as Jury Orders Monsanto to Pay Record $2 Billion to Couple in Roundup Cancer Trial

      A California jury ruled Monday that Monsanto must pay a record $2 billion in damages to a couple that was diagnosed with cancer after using the company’s weedkiller Roundup.

      “We were finally allowed to show a jury the mountain of evidence showing Monsanto’s manipulation of science, the media, and regulatory agencies to forward their own agenda despite Roundup’s severe harm to the animal kingdom and humankind,” said Michael Miller, an attorney for Alva and Alberta Pilliod.

      The jury ruled that Monsanto—which was acquired by the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer last year—is liable for the Pilliods’ non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), the third such ruling in less than a year.

      “We’ve been fighting cancer for nine years. It was caused by Roundup. We can’t do the things we used to do and we really resent Monsanto for that,” Alberta Pilliod said at a press conference following the verdict.

    • KentuckyWired: Our Rural Broadband Investigation, Explained

      Kentucky wants to drape more than 3,000 miles of fiber-optic cable across the state. The high-speed network is supposed to connect about 1,000 government sites to one another and to the internet. The cable, organized in six massive loops, won’t connect directly to individual homes and businesses. But the state is banking on indirectly supporting the spread of high-speed internet by selling third-party internet service providers access to the new network, which is called KentuckyWired.

    • Pesticide Lawsuits and the Threat Hiding in the Perfect Lawn

      In 2012, Dewayne Anthony Lee Johnson took a job as groundskeeper for a California county school district. “I did everything,” he said in an interview with Time magazine. “Caught skunks, mice, and raccoons, patched holes in walls, worked on irrigation issues.”

      He also treated the school grounds with Roundup weed killer, about twenty to thirty times a year and sometimes for several hours a day. On one occasion, the pesticide sprayer broke, drenching Johnson in the herbicide. Afterward, a rash broke out and skin lesions spread across his body.

      Several doctors’ visits later, Johnson learned that he had developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

      Johnson would go on to sue the pesticide’s manufacturer, Monsanto, and to win a historic judgment last fall. This has set in motion a number of new cases that could hold the company accountable for its product and educate the public on the dangers of its use, with the verdict in the most recent case topping $2 billion.

    • ACTION ALERT: WaPo Must Acknowledge CIA Role in Pakistan Polio Crisis

      If the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that it’s much easier to blame “fake news” than to look in the mirror and see how one’s own country, and their powerful institutions, may bear responsibility for a social ill. This jingoistic narcissism is on full display in a Washington Post editorial (5/10/19) that blamed a recent upsurge in polio in Pakistan on “guns, fear and fake news”—while ignoring the CIA’s central role in the crisis entirely.

      The editorial, “The World Is Close to Conquering Polio. Humans Are Holding Us Back,” started off naming the Official Oriental bad guys:

      The world’s long and ambitious quest to conquer polio has come tantalizingly close to success, only to slip away because of unforgivable behavior by thugs and exponents of ignorance.

      The “thugs” named by the Post are “hard-line Islamist forces,” fueled by nebulous “social media.” While no doubt Islamist forces and their ability to communicate amongst themselves contribute to the problem, the other party primarily responsible for the recent surge in anti-vax sentiment in Pakistan—the US Central Intelligence Agency—is notably unmentioned.

      Reading the scolding editorial, one would never imagine that anti-polio efforts in Pakistan (as well as Afghanistan), according to numerous reports—including the New York Times (4/29/19) last month—have been severely undermined by the 2011 revelation (Guardian, 7/11/11) of a secret ruse cooked up by the CIA to use a hepatitis B vaccine drive to gather DNA in an effort to track the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden (efforts, it’s worth nothing, that didn’t actually help in finding bin Laden).

    • EU adopts SPC manufacturing waiver under protest from several member states

      After the European Parliament adopted a controversial new regulation introducing an SPC manufacturing waiver for export and stockpiling in its last plenary session on 17 April 2019, as previously reported on this blog, the corresponding legislative act has now also been adopted by the Council of the European Union in its meeting today on 14 May 2019.

      While it had been widely expected that the Council would approve the European Parliament’s position and adopt the SPC manufacturing waiver legislation, this came under vehement protest from several member states.

      Thus, Denmark recorded in a written statement that it does not believe that a balanced approach has been achieved, and that the compromise now reached may generate significant damage for the innovative pharmaceutical industry. “By allowing storing of medicinal products and affecting acquired rights of the SPC holders, Denmark believes that the result is disproportionate and goes far beyond what is necessary in order to achieve with the objective of the proposal. The absence of meaningful safeguards for storing will undermine legal certainty for the generic, biosimilar and innovative industry. It will also further deteriorate market conditions for investments in research and innovation, which are, by far, higher than any benefit that the SPC waiver proposal can generate.” Czechia and Malta similarly voiced serious concerns, with Czechia denouncing the limitation of the rights of SPC holders and the weakening of intellectual property protection in Europe.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Linux vs. Zombieload

      The researchers have shown a Zombieload exploit that can look over your virtual shoulder to see the websites you’re visiting in real-time. Their example showed someone spying on another someone using the privacy-protecting Tor Browser running inside a virtual machine (VM).

      Zombieload’s more formal name is “Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS).” It’s more common name comes from the concept of a “zombie load.” This is a quantity of data that a processor can’t handle on its own. The chip then asks for help from its microcode to prevent a crash. Normally, applications, virtual machines (VMs), and containers can only see their own data. But the Zombieload vulnerabilities enable an attacker to spy on data across the normal boundaries on all modern Intel processors.

      Unlike the earlier Meltdown and Spectre problems, Intel was given time to ready itself for this problem. Intel has released microcode patches. These help clear the processor’s buffers, thus preventing data from being read.

      To defend yourself, your processor must be updated, your operating system must be patched, and for the most protection, Hyper-Threading disabled. When Meltdown and Spectre showed up, the Linux developers were left in the dark and scrambled to patch Linux. This time, they’ve been kept in the loop.

    • “ZombieLoad”: a new set of speculative-execution attacks

      The curtain has finally been lifted on the latest set of speculative-execution vulnerabilities. This one has the delightful name of ZombieLoad; it is also known as “microarchitetural data sampling”, but what’s the fun in that? Various x86 processors stash data into hidden buffers that can, in some cases, be revealed via speculative execution. Exploits appear to be relatively hard.

    • Ubuntu updates to mitigate new Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) vulnerabilities

      Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) describes a group of vulnerabilities (CVE-2018-12126, CVE-2018-12127, CVE-2018-12130, and CVE-2019-11091) in various Intel microprocessors, which allow a malicious process to read various information from another process which is executing on the same CPU core. This occurs due to the use of various microarchitectural elements (buffers) within the CPU core. If one process is able to speculatively sample data from these buffers, it can infer their contents and read data belonging to another process since these buffers are not cleared when switching between processes. This includes switching between two different userspace processes, switching between kernel and userspace and switching between the host and a guest when using virtualisation.

      In the case of a single process being scheduled to a single CPU thread, it is relatively simple to mitigate this vulnerability by clearing these buffers when scheduling a new process onto the CPU thread. To achieve this, Intel have released an updated microcode which combined with changes to the Linux kernel ensure these buffers are appropriately cleared.

      Updated versions of the intel-microcode, qemu and linux kernel packages are being published as part of the standard Ubuntu security maintenance of Ubuntu releases 16.04 LTS, 18.04 LTS, 18.10, 19.04 and as part of the extended security maintenance for Ubuntu 14.04 ESM users. As these vulnerabilities affect such a large range of Intel processors (across laptop, desktop and server machines), a large percentage of Ubuntu users are expected to be impacted – users are encouraged to install these updated packages as soon as they become available.

    • A Slew Of Stable Kernel Updates Issued For Addressing MBS / Zombieload Vulnerabilities

      Following today’s disclosure of the new MDS vulnerabilities affecting Intel CPUs, a slew of new Linux kernel stable releases have been issued.

      Greg Kroah-Hartman has issued Linux 5.1.2, 5.0.16, 4.19.43, 4.14.119, and 4.9.176 with these now public mitigation patches that pair with Intel’s CPU microcode for mitigating this latest set of speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities.

    • Understanding the MDS vulnerability: What it is, why it works and how to mitigate it

      MDS vulnerabilities explained in ~three minutes

    • A deeper look at the MDS vulnerability

      In our last post, Jon Masters offered an overview of the MDS vulnerability. In this video, Jon provides a ddeper technical explanation of the vulnerability.

    • SUSE addresses Microarchitectural Data Sampling Vulnerabilities

      Researchers have identified new CPU side channel information leak attacks against various microarchitectural buffers used in Intel CPUs. These attacks allows local attackers to execute code to read out portions of recently read or written data by using speculative execution. Local attackers can be on the same OS or running code on the same thread of a CPU core, which could happen for other VMs on the same physical host.
      Intel, together with hardware and operating system vendors, have worked over recent months to prepare mitigations for these vulnerabilities, also known as RIDL, Fallout and ZombieLoadAttack.

    • MDS: The Newest Speculative Execution Side-Channel Vulnerability [Ed: Faked performance means no security and since there are no rules associated with this, there will be no multi-billion-dollar fines, no mass recalls etc. What an awful industry.]

      Intel just disclosed a new speculative execution side-channel vulnerability in its processors similar to the existing Spectre/L1TF vulnerabilities. This new disclosure is called the Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS).

      The Microarchitectural Data Sampling vulnerability was discovered by Intel researchers and independently reported as well by external researchers and is said to be similar to existing speculative execution side channel vulnerabilities. Fortunately, some current-generation CPUs are not vulnerable and Intel says all new processors moving forward will be mitigated. For those processors affected, microcode/software updates are said to be coming.

    • The second Meltdown: New Intel CPU attacks leak secrets

      Over a year ago, the Meltdown and Spectre attacks took the computer industry by storm and showed that the memory isolation between the operating system kernel and unprivileged applications or between different virtual machines running on the same server were not as impervious as previously thought. Those attacks took advantage of a performance enhancing feature of modern CPUs called speculative execution to steal secrets by analyzing how data was being accessed inside CPU caches.

      Since then, the research community found additional “side channel” techniques that could allow attackers to reconstruct secrets without having direct access to them, by analyzing how data passes through the CPU’s microarchitectural components during speculative execution.

    • Linux Kernel Flaw Allows Remote Code-Execution

      The bug is remotely exploitable without authentication or user interaction.

      Millions of Linux systems could be vulnerable to a high-impact race condition flaw in the Linux kernel.

      Kernel versions prior to 5.0.8 are affected by the vulnerability (CVE-2019-11815), which exists in the rds_tcp_kill_sock in net/rds/tcp.c. “There is a race condition leading to a use-after-free [UAF],” according to the CVE description.

    • Update WhatsApp now to avoid spyware installation from a single missed call
    • Update WhatsApp Now, Adobe Warning Creative Cloud Users with Older Apps, Kernels Older than 5.0.8 Are Vulnerable to Remote Code Execution, Schools in Kerala Choose Linux and MakeOpenStuff Is Launching the HestiaPi Touch Smart Thermostat

      A vulnerability in WhatsApp allows spyware to be installed from a single unanswered phone call. The Verge reports that the “spyware, developed by Israel’s secretive NSO group, can be installed without trace and without the target answering the call, according to security researchers and confirmed by WhatsApp. Once installed, the spyware can turn on a phone’s camera and mic, scan emails and messages, and collect the user’s location data. WhatsApp is urging its 1.5 billion global users to update the app immediately to close the security hole.”

    • How WhatsApp exposed its users to a spyware attack

      Facebook-owned firm confirms that a vulnerability in WhatsApp opened doors for a spyware attack that installs a malicious code on victim’s smartphone…

    • On WhatsApp, it may be hackers calling
    • Why it might be time to ditch WhatsApp for Signal or Telegram

      By now you’ve heard the news: WhatsApp is currently rolling out an urgent update to all app users to close a major vulnerability that leaves unpatched phones at risk of being targeted by hackers. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, and if you plan to stick with the platform, don’t wait for an update notification: access your phone’s app store now to force install the update.

      Except maybe now is the time to go one step further: perhaps it’s the perfect opportunity to switch to a different messaging platform. One that’s not owned by one of the major tech companies, is equally — if not more — secure, and which works on more than just your phone. Enter stage left, Telegram, and stage right, Signal.

    • Modern IT security: Sometimes caring is NOT sharing

      The last decade of technological advances has seen a race to reduce costs. Migration to virtualized systems quickly eclipsed traditional bare-metal deployments. At some point, virtualization will be out-paced by containerization. While the physical footprint of an organization’s compute resources may have been reduced, the complexity of managing those environments certainly has not.

      Back in the Stone Age of IT operations and information security, everyone’s attention was focused on the corporate datacenter and the physical machines that lived there. It was simpler to understand where security controls needed to be applied. You had one giant cable coming into the building from “the internet,” so you’d throw firewalls, Information Data Leak Prevention/Detection (IDP/IDS), proxies, load balancers and other tools in-line before that channel was split to the larger corporate network. This Castle-and-Moat model of protection worked fairly well (ignoring the insider threat) for decades.

      [...]

      Virtualization evolved into “the cloud”. TL/DR for everyone out there: the cloud is just someone else’s computer. You used to run it on your server in your datacenter. Move it “to the cloud” and it now runs on Frank’s Discount Cloud and actually sits in his basement in Peoria, Illinois. Cloud-enabled individuals and businesses to have a low-cost means to quickly deploy systems and applications. It offered benefits around high availability and other features you’d typically see deployed in Enterprise-class organizations. Instead of ordering physical boxes from your favourite retailer or OEM and having that take weeks to be delivered and weeks more to be configured and deployed, now you call up Frank (say “Hi!” to his mom while she’s down in the server room doing Frank’s laundry) and Frank can have you up and running with computing and storage resources in minutes. Cloud lets you “outsource” a lot of technology and skills you might not have in-house (or have any interest in managing yourself).

    • A Cisco Router Bug Has Massive Global Implications

      THE CISCO 1001-X series router doesn’t look much like the one you have in your home. It’s bigger and much more expensive, responsible for reliable connectivity at stock exchanges, corporate offices, your local mall, and so on. The devices play a pivotal role at institutions, in other words, including some that deal with hypersensitive information. Now, researchers are disclosing a remote attack that would potentially allow a hacker to take over any 1001-X router and compromise all the data and commands that flow through it.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Leaked Report: Douma “Chemical Attack” Likely Staged

      An apparent classified internal report from OPCW suggests that the Douma chemical attack – which allegedly took place in April 2018 – was in fact staged.

      The report, signed by Ian Henderson (an investigative team leader for the OPCW), is an analysis of the two key locations which were used as evidence of the Syrian government launching a chemical attack using chlorine gas in Douma, last year.

    • Iran says Trump playing ‘very dangerous game,’ risking ‘devastating war’

      The United States is playing a “very dangerous game” as it attempts to “drag Iran into an unnecessary war,” a senior Iranian official said Tuesday.

      Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, said the Trump administration made a “serious miscalculation” in deploying an aircraft carrier strike group, B-52 bombers and other military personnel and equipment to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged, unspecified Iranian threats.

    • NIAC Statement on Bolton’s Latest Military Plans for Iran

      “John Bolton is methodically setting the stage for war with Iran–forcing Iran into a corner and then readying war plans for when Iran takes the bait. There are two ways Bolton can be stopped: either Trump can fire him or Congress can pass legislation to block a war before it starts. It’s time for our leaders to stop sleepwalking and the public to speak out as an unrestrained Iraq war architect repeats the playbook from that generational catastrophe with Iran.”

    • National security officials detail plan to deploy up to 120,000 troops to Iran: report

      President Donald Trump’s administration is weighing military options against Iran that could even include war, according to a new report.

      Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan detailed a plan last week at a gathering of national security officials, which includes deploying up to 120,000 armed forces to the Middle East, according to the New York Times. The hypothetical plan would reportedly be implemented if Tehran speeds up its nuclear weapons program — or in the event American troops are attacked by Iran. It is mainly a revision of previous plans, with updates allegedly called for by administration hawks led by Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton.

      In possibly related news, four oil tankers in the Middle East — two owned by Saudi Arabia, one owned by the United Arab Emirates and one owned by Norway — were recently damaged by what Saudi and U.S. officials described as “sabotage” attacks, according to CBS News. On Monday, U.S. officials told CBS News their preliminary assessment was either that Iran or Iranian-backed proxies used explosives to damage the vessels.

    • Warnings of ‘Gulf of Tonkin 2.0′ as Trump Officials Blame Iran for Oil Tanker Attacks

      That question has become increasingly common and urgent among anti-war commentators and activists in recent days as U.S. intelligence officials—without citing any concrete evidence—blamed Iran for reported attacks on Saudi and UAE oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz over the weekend.

      Commentators quickly likened the accusations to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, referring to the “fabricated” event that President Lyndon Johnson used to massively escalate America’s war in Vietnam.

    • Will John Bolton’s Dream to Bomb Iran Come True? Ex-Iranian Ambassador Warns About U.S. Escalation

      The Pentagon has reportedly drawn up a plan to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East if President Trump decides to take military action against Iran. The New York Times reports the Pentagon presented the proposal on Thursday after National Security Advisor John Bolton requested a revision to an earlier plan. Bolton has long advocated for attacking Iran. According to the Pentagon, far more than 120,000 troops would be needed if a ground invasion was ordered. This comes as tension continues to escalate between the United States and Iran. The United States recently deployed the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the region claiming there was a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces.” Iran has announced it will stop complying with parts of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal and resume high-level enrichment of uranium in 60 days if other signatories of the deal do not take action to shield Iran’s oil and banking sectors from U.S. sanctions. The U.S. has attempted to cut Iran off from the global economy, even though Iran has remained in compliance with the nuclear deal. We speak with Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a Middle East Security and Nuclear Policy Specialist at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He served as spokesperson for Iran in its nuclear negotiations with the European Union from 2003 to 2005.

    • Arundhati Roy: A U.S. Attack on Iran Would Be “Biggest Mistake It Has Ever Made”

      On Sunday night Arundhati Roy delivered the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write lecture at the Apollo Theater in Harlem as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. She reads an excerpt of the lecture. “Over these last few years, given the wars it has waged, and the international treaties it has arbitrarily reneged on, the U.S. Government perfectly fits its own definition of a rogue state,” Roy said. “And now, resorting to the same old scare tactics, the same tired falsehoods and the same old fake news about nuclear weapons, it is gearing up to bomb Iran. That will be the biggest mistake it has ever made.”

    • ‘Disturbing’: Trump Reportedly Reviewed Bolton Plan to Threaten Iran by Sending 120,000 Troops to Middle East

      According to the New York Times, the military plan was crafted by national security adviser John Bolton—who has repeatedly expressed support for bombing Iran, including in the pages of the Times—and presented to the president last Thursday by Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who Trump nominated last week to serve as permanent Pentagon chief.

      “The size of the force involved has shocked some who have been briefed on [the plan],” the Times reported, citing more than a half-dozen anonymous national security officials. “The 120,000 troops would approach the size of the American force that invaded Iraq in 2003.”

      “The high-level review of the Pentagon’s plans was presented during a meeting about broader Iran policy,” according to the Times. “It was held days after what the Trump administration described, without evidence, as new intelligence indicating that Iran was mobilizing proxy groups in Iraq and Syria to attack American forces.”

      The Times report on Bolton’s plan, which one critic described as “disturbing,” comes just over a week after the national security adviser used the routine deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier and bomber task force to threaten Iran with military action.

    • Putin plans to examine a missile system immediately before meeting the U.S. Secretary of State. Coincidence?

      Vladimir Putin has begun a series of military visits. On May 13, the president visited the Kazan Aviation Factory, where he examined Tu-160, Tu-95MC, and Tu-22 airplanes as well as a Mi-38T helicopter. On Tuesday, he will visit a Defense Ministry flight test facility in Akhtubinsk, where he will tour, among other things, a Kinzhal hypersonic missile system. Afterward, the Russian president will travel to Sochi for negotiations with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

    • Venezuela Embassy Protection Collective Defies Unlawful “No Trespass” Order

      An extraordinary set of events has been unfolding at the Venezuela Embassy in Washington DC, ever since the Embassy Protection Collective began living at the embassy with the permission of the elected government of Venezuela on April 10 to protect it from an illegal takeover by Venezuela’s opposition. The actions of the police on the evening of May 13 added a new level of drama.

      Since the cutting off of electricity, food and water inside the embassy has not been enough to force the collective to leave, late Tuesday afternoon, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police handed out a trespassing notice that was printed without letterhead or signature from any U.S. government official.

      The notice said that the Trump administration recognizes Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido as the head of the government of Venezuela and that the Guaido-appointed ambassador to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, and his appointed ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Gustavo Tarre, were to determine who is allowed into the Embassy. Those not authorized by the ambassadors were to be considered trespassers. Those inside the building were “requested” to depart the building.

      The notice appeared to have been written by the Guaido faction, but was posted and read by the DC police as if it were a document from the U.S. government.

    • The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela Is Decades in the Making

      Hugo Chávez knew that Venezuela was very vulnerable. Its oil revenues account for 98 percent of its export earnings. Chávez was familiar with the thinking of Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, Venezuela’s minister of mines and hydrocarbons in the early 1960s and one of the architects of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). In 1976, Pérez Alfonzo wrote, “Ten years from now, twenty years from now, you will see, oil will bring us ruin.” He called Venezuela’s oil the “devil’s excrement.” If oil prices remained high, as they were when Chávez came to power in 1999, then oil revenue could be used to finance a project for the landless workers. If oil prices collapsed, then the country—laden with debt—would face severe challenges.

      Venezuela’s economy had not been diversified by the oligarchy that ruled the country before Chávez took office. By 1929, it had become apparent to the oligarchy that the flood of oil revenues had damaged the agricultural sector—which shrank in the decades to come. There was neither an attempt to enhance agricultural production (and make Venezuela food sovereign) nor was there any attempt to use oil profits for a wider industrialization program. Occasionally, presidents—such as Carlos Andrés Pérez in the 1970s—would pledge to use the influx of oil revenues to diversify the economy, but when oil prices would fall—as they did periodically—Venezuela went into punishing debt.

      It would have taken Chávez a generation to pivot the economy away from its reliance upon oil revenues. But Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution simply did not have the time. In the 2000s, when oil prices remained high, the revenues were used to enhance the social lives of the landless workers, most of whom suffered high rates of malnutrition and illiteracy. Gripped by the need to deal with the social blight amongst the landless workers, Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution simply did not have the capacity to tackle reliance upon imports of food and of most consumer goods.

    • The Five Hundred Year Rebellion: Indigenous Movements and the Decolonization of History in Bolivia

      The Western conquest and colonization of what is now Latin America and the Caribbean is a story of blood. It is a story of genocide. It is a story of the colonizers’ attempt to completely destroy and enslave a continent of people and to crush cultures that were thousands of years old. After Columbus famously “discovered” the Americas, Hernán Cortés defeated the rulers of the Aztec empire in 1521. The Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro captured Incan emperor Atahualpa in 1532, brutally massacring his followers and looting Incan gold. At the time of the Spanish invasion, the Incan empire—and its Quechua language—spanned the Andes, and the Aztec capital had a larger population than Madrid.

      The Spanish conquest was a turning point for the region. In the Andes, the Incan empire was destroyed, and the ayllus – centuries-old forms of community organization in the Andes – were broken up into smaller, centralized communities to facilitate the extraction of taxes, land, and labor. Thousands were sent to the mines in Potosí (in modern-day Bolivia) for the silver that empowered the Spanish empire. Though indigenous resistance continued, the great civilizations of the Aztec, Maya, Inca, and countless other indigenous communities spanning the hemisphere were all but vanquished under the boot and plunder of colonization; the Americas would never be the same.

      [...]

      Over time, the colonized rose up against colonial powers, overthrew them in revolutions, and built independent and sovereign nations. This global political process of recovering sovereignty following colonial rule has been called “decolonization.” As a political process, decolonization has generally involved forming an independent nation-state, constitution, flag, set of laws, and political system based on the dreams and beliefs of that nation’s local people. The global road toward decolonization has been anything but simple. Indeed, it has been one of the most dramatic and consequential processes in modern history.

      One of the first waves of decolonization took place between the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century in the Americas. During this time, the British were forced out of what is today the United States, and revolutionaries ousted the French from Haiti and abolished slavery in that new nation. In the early 1800s, independence wars against Spain raged throughout Latin America. Those conflicts led to the birth of new, independent nations, from Venezuela and Colombia to Argentina and Bolivia. The second wave of decolonization took place in Europe between 1917 and the 1920s, after the collapse of the Russian and Habsburg empires. Following World War II and into the late 1970s, freedom from European colonial rule was won among colonies throughout Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.

      “Let us leave this Europe which never stops talking of man yet massacres him at every one of its street corners, at every corner of the world,” the great decolonial thinker Frantz Fanon wrote. For many, decolonization was a process of self-determination, of leaving Europe behind rather than trying to build a society in its image. As Fanon wrote, “The Third World is today facing Europe as one colossal mass whose project must be to try and solve the problems this Europe was incapable of finding the answers to.”

    • Oracle claims that Amazon tried to woo Pentagon officials with ‘undisclosed employment and bonus offers’ to win a $10 billion cloud contract, but Amazon says it’s a ‘desperate attempt to smear the company’
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Whistleblower’s Arrest Shows Even “Secure” Platforms Are Vulnerable

      The recent indictment of former intelligence analyst Daniel Hale offers a cautionary tale to future whistleblowers. In the process of leaking dozens of classified documents to the press, Hale followed the same canned advice that’s been repeated by Edward Snowden and countless other privacy advocates: it’s all about onion routing and strong encryption. For example, Hale used a bootable thumb drive loaded with the ostensibly secure Tails operating system. To communicate with reporters, he employed an encrypted messaging platform.

      But his security measures were to no avail. Hale has been arrested and charged under the Espionage Act. He is the third such whistleblower, behind Terry Albury and Reality Winner, to have been snared by the authorities after leaking documents to The Intercept. These cases are a potent reminder that while reporters may be shielded by First Amendment protections, their sources are not.

      Future whistleblowers should recognize that disclosing official secrets is a veritable minefield. Using an app which is branded as “secure” to communicate with high-profile reporters will make the corresponding network traffic stand out like a glow stick to security services. Hale, in particular, also made the flagrant mistake of printing out documents that were unrelated to his job function. There’s a whole market segment of insider threat tools that are specifically designed to detect this sort of activity.

      Clandestine operations officers have had years of formal training. They pass through selection processes and gain experience stationed overseas in hostile environments. Put bluntly, they’re essentially skilled criminals who successfully break laws in other countries over sustained periods. That’s what clandestine ops are all about. It’s unclear if it’s realistic to expect someone to be able to duplicate the required level of operational expertise with a random collection of digital security platforms (e.g. Tails, Tor, PGP and Signal).

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Indigenous Australians challenge government over climate at UN

      A group of indigenous Australians plans to submit a complaint to the UN on Monday that accuses Australia of failing to act on climate change.
      The group resides in the low-lying Torres Strait Islands in the country’s north. It argues that Australia’s lack of climate change policies is putting their culture and ancestral homeland at risk.
      “Tides are rising every year, flooding homes, lands and important cultural sites. Rising sea temperatures are blighting the health of the marine environments around the islands, by bleaching the coral and acidifying the ocean,” a statement from the indigenous group said.
      “We are seeing this effect on our land and on the social and emotional well-being of our communities who practice culture and traditions,” said Kabay Tamu, one of the petitioners.

    • Mercedes Maker Says All Cars Will Be Carbon-Neutral by 2039

      Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler AG will make its entire passenger car fleet carbon neutral by 2039, the company announced Monday.

    • Mercedes Maker Sets A New Standard For Auto Industry Climate Targets, Yet Still Falls Short

      Yet the automaker gave few details. And while its new voluntary targets are unprecedented, the timeline remains far slower than what scientists say is needed to keep planetary warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the target set by the Paris agreement.

    • Mercedes-Benz says all its vehicles will be carbon-neutral by 2039

      German automaker Mercedes-Benz said Monday all its vehicles will be carbon-neutral within 20 years — part of a plan to reduce its carbon footprint.

    • Mercedes-Benz’s aggressive climate pledge: All cars will be carbon-neutral by 2039

      Still, the Mercedes pledge is the latest shift away by auto makers away from traditional engines.

    • Daimler commits to carbon neutrality

      Daimler AG announced today that its entire passenger fleet will be carbon neutral by the end of 2039.

    • Record-Breaking Diver Finds Plastic Bag in Deepest Part of Ocean

      An America man completed the deepest-ever solo underwater dive May 1. But when he reached the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, he found that another representative of the human world had gotten their first: plastic.

    • Deepest ever dive finds ‘plastic bag’ at bottom of Mariana Trench

      An American undersea explorer has completed what is claimed to be the deepest manned sea dive ever recorded — returning to the surface with the depressing news that there appears to be plastic trash down there.
      Victor Vescovo journeyed 10,927 meters (35,853 feet) to the bottom of the Challenger Deep , the southern end of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, as part of a mission to chart the world’s deepest underwater places.

    • North East Green Party lead candidate says coal claims ‘blown away’ by study

      Rachel Featherstone, Green Party lead candidate for the North East, is tonight to visit the site of the proposed Dewley Hill open cast coal mine in Northumberland.

      She will be marking the release of figures today showing that existing coal stockpiles in the UK are more than double the level needed required until 2025, when the government is committed to completely ending coal-fired electricity generation.

      Rachel said: “The issue of coal mining is of great concern in the North East, where not only Dewley Hill buts also our treasured Druridge Bay is threatened by a proposed new open cut coal mine, despite strong local opposition.

    • Warren Buffett, Fear, and Greed in Fracked Oil Fields

      Warren Buffett, CEO of investment holding company Berkshire Hathaway, is considered one of the top investors in history and can back up that track record with a personal wealth of around $90 billion. Buffett is known for advising investors to be “fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

      In the U.S. fracked oil industry, this month can be read like a textbook version of Buffett’s fear and greed adage. The shale industry showed plenty of signs of fear while Buffett made a massive “greedy” bet on the future of the Permian Shale in Texas and New Mexico, assuming it will produce oil profitably and investing $10 billion in Occidental’s purchase of shale producer Anadarko.

    • Mining Companies Use Excessive Legal Powers to Gamble With Latin American Lives

      The right of foreign investors to sue governments in international tribunals is one of the most extreme examples of excessive power granted to corporations through free trade agreements and investment treaties.

      For decades now, corporations have used this power to demand massive compensation for public interest regulations and other government actions that may reduce the value of their investments. Widespread outrage over this “investor-state dispute settlement” system is among the key issues in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

      But this public outrage hasn’t stopped companies from continuing to file such lawsuits. In January 2019, for example, U.S.-based Legacy Vulcan LLC registered a case against Mexico over an environmental dispute concerning limestone quarrying near the well-known vacation destination Playa de Carmen. The company cited ecological land use regulations in the municipality of Solidaridad preventing the company from expanding mining operations on two properties. Using NAFTA investment rules, the company is reportedly planning to demand approximately $500 million in compensation.

    • Entrepreneur arrested in major oil contamination case complains that prosecutors are looking for ‘enemies of the people’

      After organochloride contamination in the Druzhba oil pipeline left millions of dollars in Russian exports unusable, the leaders of a company called Nefteperevalka who were connected to the node where the contamination took place are facing criminal charges. Roman Trushev, one of the defendants, relayed his opinion of the charges to Kommersant: “The premier gave an order to find the guilty parties in a week, and there we go, they found their enemies of the people.”

    • In the Shadow of Warships and the Climate Emergency: On Getting Arrested at Bath Iron Works

      A couple of weeks ago I chose to get arrested at a demonstration at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Bath, Maine. The day was cold, windy, and wet. A huge new battleship, the USS Lyndon Baines Johnson, was being launched. BIW is one of two shipyards in the US capable of building these mammoth, deadly ships. Maine’s Congresspeople and Senators were there along with the top executives of BIW and General Dynamics, the parent company of BIW—as well as hundreds of other guests—to extol our military might.

      These launchings are a big deal. Such ships take years to build and are high tech marvels of stealth, surveillance, and… destruction. This one cost around $7 billion. Bath is a modest coastal Maine community dominated by the enormous shipyard, Maine’s biggest employer.

    • ‘Chernobyl’: Yegor Moskvitin reviews HBO’s poignant depiction of a Soviet disaster

      A coproduction of HBO, the British network Sky, and the Russian media company Amediateka, the five-part miniseries Chernobyl premiered in the United States and the United Kingdom this month. After the first episode’s release on May 6th (episode two premiered on May 13th), the series garnered a higher critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes than Game of Thrones. Although much of what is depicted in the series will be familiar to Russian viewers, Chernobyl is not a purely documentary work. Critic Yegor Moskvitin discusses the 1986 disaster and its Anglo-American dramatization.

    • “Middle-of-the-Road” Climate Plans From Centrist Democrats Won’t Save Us, Warns AOC at Green New Deal Rally

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez issued a rebuke on Monday to longtime members of Congress and presidential candidates who claim incremental measures will solve the climate crisis and vowed not to allow Republicans or centrist Democrats to hamstring the push for a Green New Deal.

      At a Washington, D.C. rally closing out a nationwide Green New Deal advocacy tour by the Sunrise Movement, Ocasio-Cortez told attendees she plans to fight against “middle ground” approaches favored by politicians like 2020 candidate Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

      The New York Democrat noted that many of the Green New Deal’s critics were in office decades ago and held on to their seats as carbon emissions skyrocketed and NASA scientists began warning that the climate was changing as a result.

      “I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try and come back today and say we need a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

    • This Ocean Farmer Is Growing Food That Cleans up Pollution

      Catherine Puckett needs to be close to the ocean. “I just can’t be away from it,” she said. “It means everything to me.” She has to see it and smell it and hear the bells that ring from buoys offshore when a heavy sea rolls in from the east. When she is waist-deep in water, ankle-deep in mud, salt marsh on one side and water on the other, there’s only one way she can describe it. “It’s magical,” she said. She even wades in during the coldest days of winter, often breaking through ice to get there. “I think to myself: ‘why doesn’t everybody do this?’” she said.

      Puckett, 36, known locally as “Oyster Wench,” a single mother with two young children, lives on Block Island, about a dozen miles off the Rhode Island coast. She represents a new generation of ocean farmers, one whose singular connection to the water is coupled with a passion for the environment. She grows shellfish and kelp on her farm, located in the waters of the Great Salt Pond, using sustainable fishing methods that both preserve the ocean’s ecosystems and fight climate change.

      “What we are trying to do is grow food from the ocean that doesn’t hurt the environment or the climate and, in fact, is working toward restoring both,” she said.

  • Finance

    • Molly Scott-Cato focuses on tax justice with 10-point plan

      Molly Scott-Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West, and lead candidate in next week’s European election, today launched a “10-step Plan for Tax Justice” before an audience of small business owners in Bournemouth.

      She said: “Greens are proud to have led on cracking down on corporate tax avoidance in this parliament. But there’s still a lot more to done to make sure national government stop blocking European co-operation on this issue.

    • 65 years after Brown v. Board of Education, We Risk Going Backward

      This week marks the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the unanimous Supreme Court decision that outlawed apartheid in America, declaring segregated schools “inherently unequal” and unconstitutional.

      Today, the common sense of the Brown decision is under attack. For nearly three decades, our schools have been re-segregating, reversing the progress made under Brown, reflecting the deep racial and economic segregation of our communities. Worse, several of Donald Trump’s nominees to the federal courts refuse even to endorse Brown as unassailable law.

      As the United States grows more diverse, we run the risk of becoming more separate and more unequal.

      The decision in Brown was and is compelling. Racially segregated schools were and are inherently separate and unequal. They also were and are unequal in resources. In affluent, largely white suburbs, public schools are new and modern, with advanced facilities and courses and good teachers. In low-income, minority neighborhoods, schools tend to be old and dilapidated, with less experienced teachers, fewer resources and fewer advanced courses.

      Research shows that integration works. Segregation injures the chances for achievement, college success, long-term employment and income of students of color. Integration raises those chances with no detriment to white students. Indeed, the experience of going to a diverse school better prepares students of all races for the world they will enter.

      With neighborhoods largely segregated—a legacy of racially restrictive laws and covenants, of bank and real estate red lining and more—integration of public schools inevitably required busing. Busing, of course, is routine across America, a service to parents. But opponents of integration used “forced busing” to rouse fears and hatred. The question was never about busing, it was about where the bus delivered the students.

      When the federal courts, packed by judges appointed by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, retreated from desegregation orders, the schools began to re-segregate. Now, as Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor concludes: “After four decades without federal support for desegregation, we are right back where we started,” with schools that are increasingly separate and unequal.

    • Did You Pay to Use TurboTax? Help Us Hold the Tax Prep Industry Accountable.

      We’ve heard from hundreds of people who said they paid to file their taxes even when they were eligible to file for free. These reader tips have been incredibly helpful in getting the truth out about how Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, manipulates users into using a paid product and lies to customers who then ask for refunds. Many of these stories came from Americans who really needed the money.

      We’re nowhere near finished with this reporting. To that end, we’ve created this brief questionnaire to collect as many of your stories as possible. If you used TurboTax, we’re interested in hearing about your experience. If you’ve asked for a refund, you can let us know what happened or upload audio of the call below. At the moment, we would particularly like to hear from active-duty service members and military families who used TurboTax. If that’s you or anyone in your community, we’d love it if you would pass this along. Anyone who is an active-duty service member should be able to use TurboTax for free if they made under $66,000.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Barr to Investigate Origins of Mueller Probe

      Attorney General William Barr has appointed a U.S. attorney to examine the origins of the Russia investigation and determine if intelligence collection involving the Trump campaign was “lawful and appropriate,” according to a person familiar with the issue.

      Barr appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to conduct the inquiry, the person said. The person could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke Monday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

      With the appointment, Barr is addressing a rallying cry of President Donald Trump and his supporters, who have accused the Justice Department and FBI of unlawfully spying on his campaign.

      Democrats have accused Trump of using the allegations to divert attention from special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings that Russia aided Trump’s 2016 campaign and that he could not exonerate the president on the question of whether he tried to impede Mueller’s investigation. Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and the Kremlin.

    • Redacting Democracy

      The Nobel Prize-winning Czech author Milan Kundera began his 1979 novel, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, by describing two photographs. In the first, two men are standing side by side, a Czech nationalist later executed for his views and the country’s Communist ruler. In the second, the dissenter is gone, airbrushed out. Just the dictator remains. Today, if Kundera hadn’t written that opening to his book, only someone with a long memory or a penchant for research would know that the two men had ever shared a podium or that, on that long-gone day, the dissident had placed his fur hat on the dictator’s cold head. Today, in the world of Donald Trump and Robert Mueller, we might say that the dissident was redacted from the photo. For Kundera, embarking on a novel about memory and forgetting, that erasure in the historical record was tantamount to a crime against both the country and time itself.

      In the Soviet Union, such photographic airbrushing became a political art form. Today, however, when it comes to repeated acts meant to erase reality’s record and memory, it wouldn’t be Eastern Europe or Russia that came to mind but the United States. With the release of the Mueller report, the word “redaction” is once again in the news, though for those of us who follow such things, it seems but an echo of so many other redactions, airbrushings, and disappearances from history that have become a way of life in Washington since the onset of the Global War on Terror.

      In the 448 pages of the Mueller report, there are nearly 1,000 redactions. They appear on 40% of its pages, some adding up to only a few words (or possibly names), others blacking out whole pages. Attorney General William Barr warned House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler about the need to classify parts of the report and when Barr released it, the Wall Street Journal suggested that the thousand unreadable passages included “few major redactions.” On the other hand, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey was typical of congressional Democrats in suggesting that the speed — less than 48 hours — of Barr’s initial review of the document was “more suspicious than impressive.” Still, on the whole, while there was some fierce criticism of the redacted nature of the report, it proved less than might have been anticipated, perhaps because in this century Americans have grown used to living in an age of redactions.

      Such complacency should be cause for concern. For while redactions can be necessary and classification is undoubtedly a part of modern government life, the aura of secrecy that invariably accompanies such acts inevitably redacts democracy as well.

    • New Warren, Jayapal Report Details Corporate Crime Free-for-All Under Trump Administration

      That’s the message delivered by a new report (pdf) out Tuesday from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

      The report, “Rigged Justice 2.0,” explains how President Donald Trump’s government is allowing corporations to do whatever they want.

      “Our justice system’s soft touch with huge corporations and billionaires is not a new phenomenon,” reads the report. “But under President Trump, it is far worse than it has ever been.”

      The report is the second in a series. The first edition, “Rigged Justice,” was released by Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, in January 2016. The report detailed the weakness of the Obama administration on corporate crime—but, as Warren’s office pointed out in a statement announcing “Rigged Justice 2.0,” those were the good old days.

      “This new analysis reveals a catastrophic decline in corporate accountability under President Trump,” said Warren’s office, “illustrating the impact of corporate malfeasance on the American public through a dozen case studies in which the government failed to hold companies and white collar criminals accountable for ripping off the American people, hurting workers, or damaging the environment.”

      Among the highlights of the new report are a 20-year low in corporate crime enforcement and an abdication of governmental responsibility for workers, consumers, and the environment. The lack of action to hold corporations accountable, the report argues, is because of an unprecedented takeover of the federal government by corporations.

    • Brazil’s Bolsonaro: ‘Exterminator of the Future’

      Eight former Brazilian Ministers of Environment issued a warning last week that the government of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is in the process of systematically destroying Brazil’s environmental protection policies. They say the environmental ministry’s powers are being stripped, and that deforestation of the Amazon is on the rise again. Marina Silva, who was the environmental minister under President Lula da Silva, called Bolsonaro an “exterminator of the future.”

    • Denouncing Fox News as a ‘Hate-for-Profit Racket,’ Warren Turns Down Town Hall Invite

      “It’s designed to turn us against each other, risking life and death consequences, to provide cover for the corruption that’s rotting our government and hollowing out our middle class,” said the Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate.

      However, she continued, “hate-for-profit works only if there’s profit, so Fox News balances a mix of bigotry, racism, and outright lies with enough legit journalism to make the claim to advertisers that it’s a reputable news outlet.”

      Noting that Fox News is “struggling” to retain advertisers—an apparent reference to a recent advertising “exodus” triggered by hosts Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro—Warren suggested that holding a town hall featuring a Democratic presidential candidate enables the network’s sales team to reassure advertisers they can buy ads without harming their reputations.

      “I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate in order to see our candidates—especially when Fox will make even more money adding our valuable audience to their ratings numbers,” she said.

      Warren pointed out that she has done more than 70 other town halls this year across 17 states and Puerto Rico, and highlighted her other media interviews.

      “Fox News is welcome to come to my events just like any other outlet,” she added. “But a Fox News town hall adds money to the hate-for-profit machine. To which I say: hard pass.”

    • How to Move Toward Impeachment, Now

      The Trump administration continues to defy Congress and to demonstrate its contempt for constitutional democracy, refusing to share an unredacted copy of the Mueller Report with House committees, citing “executive privilege,” and refusing to comply with a number of lawful subpoenas for information, about counterintelligence, obstruction of justice, and tax returns. At the same time that it refuses all requests for information or testimony, Trump, along with his henchman Guliani, continues to rail against Mueller and his team, calling them “crooks” and “haters” and implying that they are corrupt; and also continues to escalate the demand for investigations of the investigators and of Democratic political opponents.

      Trump continues to act like he is above the law and accountable to no one but his credulous and angry base. And as he does so, virtually every Republican leader has fallen in line, as they have for the past two years (one notable exception is Richard Burr, the Republican chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who had the temerity to join with committee Democrats to issue a subpoena requiring Don, Jr. to testify before the committee, thereby earning the hostility of his fellow Republicans, Trumpists all).

      And so Nancy Pelosi, institutionalist and tactician par excellence, has finally been moved to declare that we are now in the midst of a “constitutional crisis.” Indeed, Pelosi, who only weeks ago seemed to maintain that impeachment was “off the table,” is now sounding like she is leaning toward impeachment, as is Adam Schiff and other leading House Democrats. And yet the jury, so to speak, is still out. And while House Democratic leaders have escalated the rhetorical conflict with Trump, they remain reluctant to take a more emphatic public stance, and directly confront Trump himself for his affronts to the Constitution.

    • While Americans ‘Have Been Waiting Two Years For Congress to Do Its Job,’ Arrests End Impeach Trump Sit-In Within Two Minutes

      At least 20 people were arrested in the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building on Tuesday as they participated in a sit-in to demand that President Donald Trump be impeached.

      Dozens of protesters from across the country came to Washington for the action. The grassroots groups behind the sit-in, By the People, tweeted from the scene that Capitol Police began making arrests just two minutes into the demonstration.

      Meanwhile, the group wrote, many Americans “have been waiting over two years for Congress to do its job and impeach.”

      “It’s been two years of Trump’s corruption, abuse of power, violation of our Constitution, and attacks on our democracy. It took two minutes to arrest protesters, so why two years for this?” said By the People.

    • Chris Hughes Helped Get Obama Elected, But Now That Facebook Helped Elect Trump, He Wants To Break It Up?

      Last week we wrote about Facebook co-founder Chris Huges’ long, but remarkably uncompelling argument for why Facebook should be broken up. The post itself was quite long, but could be summed up in that Hughes listed out a variety of problems he attributed to Facebook, and then suggested breaking the company up and regulating speech on the internet in response. However, some of the problems he attributed to Facebook are not, in fact, because of Facebook, and he made no effort to show how his proposed solutions would actually solve any of those problems (indeed, there are arguments it might make some of them worse).

      [...]

      It’s not quite the same thing, obviously. However, it does seem notable that Hughes used social media effectively to help elect one President, and now seems to be quite disturbed and upset by the fact that it helped elect a different President. You can, perhaps reasonably, argue that the tactics, the scale, and the overall context are quite different today (organizing excited Millennials is pretty different than Russian trolls sowing discord), but it certainly does seem like valuable context in thinking about this.

      Social media is — like many technologies — a tool. It can be used for things people like, and for things they dislike. We should be wary of assuming all the good comes solely from the technology at the same time we should be wary of assuming all the bad does as well.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Courts to Government Officials: Stop Censoring on Social Media.

      The Internet, and social media in particular, is uniquely designed to promote free expression, so much so that the Supreme Court has recognized social media as the “most important places” for speech and sharing viewpoints. Like most of us. government agencies and officials have created social media profiles and use them to connect directly with people at a scale previously unheard of. But some public officials, by silencing critics, are using these pages as a tool of censorship rather than a tool of governance.

      Thankfully, courts are stepping in to make sure that long-established protections for speech in physical spaces apply to speech on the Internet. In the most notorious case, the district court in New York found that when President Trump blocks people on Twitter, he violates the First Amendment because he is discriminating against certain viewpoints (mostly critics) and preventing them from participating in debate on his Twitter page. The case has been appealed, and in the time since two federal Courts of Appeals have ruled in separate cases that viewpoint discrimination on government social media pages is illegal.

      In January, the Fourth Circuit, became the first federal appellate court to decide that government officials cannot pick and choose what views can appear on government social media pages. That court found in Davison v. Randall that a county official created a public forum, a legal category defined by the First Amendment, when she made an official Facebook page for her office, and that she engaged in unlawful discrimination in that forum when she deleted the comment of a local critic. The First Amendment sharply limits content discrimination and essentially bars viewpoint discrimination in public forums.

    • Yaroslavl resident who photographed and shared anti-Putin graffiti gets hit with 30,000-ruble fine

      A Yaroslavl court fined Kirill Poputnikov 30,000 rubles ($461.55) under a 2019 law that bans insulting the government online, 76.ru reported. Poputnikov posted a photograph on Facebook that showed graffiti whose message can be translated as “Putin is a fag” on the façade of the local Internal Affairs Ministry building. Poputnikov said that his intent in photographing the graffiti was to attract attention to an act of vandalism.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Cisco Making its MindMeld Conversational AI Platform Open Source [Ed: Cisco openwashing of mass surveillance listening devices]
    • Another Day, Another Company Scraping Photos To Train Facial Recognition AI

      If your face can be found online, chances are it’s now part of a facial recognition database. These aren’t the ones being utilized by law enforcement, although those are bad enough. The ones used by law enforcement are littered with millions of noncriminals, all part of a system that works worse than advertised 100% of the time.

      The faces aren’t in those databases (yet!), but they’re being used to train facial recognition AI with an eye on selling it to law enforcement and other government agencies. Another photo storage company has been caught using users’ photos to fine tune facial recognition software… all without obtaining consent from those whose faces became fodder for the tech mill.

    • Public bins removed from the GPO over GDPR concerns

      All public bins have been removed from the GPO due to potential privacy breaches under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
      Customers and visitors to the historic building will no longer be able to dispose their litter within the premises.

      An Post says under the new privacy laws, even rubbish containing personal details is considered their responsibility.

      For this reason, a decision was taken to remove every bin from the post office’s main hall.

    • GDPR Concerns Temporarily Result In The Removal Of Trash Cans From Ireland Post Office

      The regulatory nightmare known as GDPR continues to wreak havoc. The data privacy law enacted by the European Union has possibly helped protect the data of Europeans, but the thick cloud of smoke rising from the collateral damage makes it impossible to say for sure.

      Regulating the internet isn’t as simple as the EU Parliament thought it would be. The first reaction many US sites had to the new law was to block every user appearing to originate from a covered country. The EU Parliament couldn’t even comply with GDPR properly. Its own website didn’t anonymize incoming users correctly, allowing the Parliament’s site to hoover up IP addresses to send through to Google Analytics. The EU Commission responded to this gaffe by exempting itself from the law.

      Meanwhile, European citizens were experiencing the downsides of mandated data export. The law requires all user data collected by tech companies to be available on demand to European internet users. In theory, a wonderful idea. In practice, it means if someone hacks one of your accounts, they can start requesting your data as well. Even without being hacked, your personal data can be sent to someone else because tech companies are just as prone to clerical errors as anyone else.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • AT&T, Verizon Employees Caught Up In DOJ SIM Hijacking Bust

      Wireless carriers are coming under increasing fire for failing to protect their users from the practice of SIM hijacking (aka a port scam). The practice involves posing as a wireless customer, then fooling a wireless carrier to port the victim’s cell phone number right out from underneath them, letting the attacker then pose as the customer to potentially devastating effect. Last year, a customer sued T-Mobile for failing to protect his account after a hacker pretending to be him ported out his phone number then stole thousands of dollars worth of cryptocoins.

      Subsequent reports have shown how identity thieves use SIM hijacking to do everything from cleaning out bank accounts, to stealing valuable Instagram usernames and selling them for Bitcoin. Reports often showed how these scams were being helped with the willful help of some cellular carrier employees, something wireless carriers haven’t (understandably) been particularly keen on talking about.

    • Sverdlovsk Oblast governor proposes negotiations after hundreds clash over cathedral construction in Yekaterinburg

      Sverdlovsk Oblast governor Yevgeny Kuivashev offered to hold negotiations in his residence between residents of the region who clashed Monday night over the planned construction of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Yekaterinburg.

      “Now, my primary task as a governor is to create peace, calm, and understanding. Street fights are not a way to solve problems,” he wrote on Instagram.

    • Church officials in Yekaterinburg postpone prayer meeting after local government refuses to approve initial plans

      The Ministry of Public Safety in Sverdlovsk Oblast declined to approve plans for a May 14 prayer meeting in support of the proposed construction of St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Yekaterinburg, Znak.com reported.

      In Russia, public prayer meetings are considered ‘mass actions’ much like protests and therefore fall under the same legal requirements.

    • The US Is Making Immigrants Pay for Its Red Tape With Asylum Application Fees

      The Trump administration wants to make people fleeing persecution in their home countries pay for something they’ve long gotten for free: the right to apply for asylum in the United States.

      As an immigration attorney and a law professor who has represented people seeking asylum for over a decade, I believe this change, which could go into effect as soon as the summer of 2019, would be not just cruel but also unusual. At present, only Australia and Fiji charge fees to would-be asylum-seekers.

      But making immigrants escaping harm and persecution shoulder the cost of processing their paperwork is in line with other trends in U.S. immigration law over the last several decades. Fees for everything from green cards to naturalization are not only common, but increasingly costly and mandatory.

      “You must submit the correct fees or we will reject your form,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security agency that oversees these applications, warns on its website. It relies primarily on revenue from these fees to cover its entire budget.

    • We Need to Reclaim State Courts From Big Money and Hateful Agendas

      President Trump’s threats against the judiciary — and his manipulation of the branch altogether — are happening at breakneck speeds. Amid the president’s fear-mongering, however, the public is missing drastic changes that are taking place right under our noses.

      There is a quieter, less publicized danger threatening the third branch of government: Our state courts are under attack. As with recent nominees to the federal courts, this attack on state courts means harm for our most vulnerable neighbors, family and friends.

    • The Country That Exiled McKinsey

      In 2010, amid a historic commodities boom fueled by the explosion of China’s economy, international companies began turning their attention to Mongolia as it opened its vast deposits of coal and copper to commercial exploitation. Mongolia, which is located on China’s northern border, stood to make prodigious sums of money if it could sell that copper and coal to its resource-hungry neighbor.

      To make that happen, Mongolia concluded that it needed to lay thousands of miles of railroad tracks. Such a project would cost billions of dollars and throw off hefty fees for construction companies, banks, law firms and consultants of various stripes. The consulting contracts alone could be worth tens of millions over a decade. And if the railroad expansion worked out, there’d be even more opportunities after that.

    • Objections by Nielsen and Others to Trump Plan for Mass Arrests Were ‘Logistical and Technical,’ Report Shows, Not Moral or Ethical

      In the weeks before they were fired, top officials in the Trump administration reportedly raised concerns about a White House plan to deport whole families in a proposed show of force against migrants in the country—not for ethical reasons, but because such a plan could raise logistical and technical difficulties.

      Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Ronald Vitiello both found the administration’s plan unworkable and stopped the plan due to what reporting from The Washington Post described as a “lack of preparation” and “the risk of public outrage and worries that it would divert resources from the border.”

      That cold approach and the lack of a moral problem with the proposal led writer John R. Stanton to comment that the real issue was that the backlash to the plan might hurt DHS and ICE plans for future attacks on migrants.

      “Please get beyond the headline to the part where it says none of the DHS officials had any ethical concerns with this,” said Stanton. “Nielsen et al were just worried it would hurt their other ghoulish plans for immigrants.”

    • Trump’s Election Has Boosted Israeli Settlement Construction

      Israel’s government went on a spending binge in its West Bank settlements following the election of President Donald Trump, according to official data obtained by The Associated Press.

      Both supporters and detractors of the settlement movement have previously referred to a “Trump effect,” claiming the president’s friendlier approach to the settlements is leading to additional West Bank construction.

      While the new Israeli figures obtained in a freedom of information request do not prove a direct connection, they indicate this process may already be underway, showing a 39% increase in 2017 spending on roads, schools and public buildings across the West Bank.

      Hagit Ofran, a researcher with the anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now, said it appears that Trump’s election has emboldened Israel’s pro-settler government.

      “They are not shy anymore with what they are doing,” she said. “They feel more free to do whatever they want.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Nokia privateer Conversant can’t enforce SEP against standards-compliant Apple products due to Nokia’s late disclosure: inequitable conduct

      Conversant, previously known under other names such as Core Wireless, may very well be the wireless SEP privateer with the highest failure rate in litigation. And it’s probably because Nokia sold them weak patents, more so than I would attribute this lack of success to the work performed by Conversant’s litigators.

      Last month Conversant lost a French appeal, and it became known that LG had offered Conversant less than 1% of what it wanted. Conversant has also been grossly unsuccessful against Apple in the U.S., with dozens of patent assertions having failed. They’re now increasingly looking to the UK as a last resort, attempting to leverage the England & Wales High Court’s and UK Court of Appeal’s decisions in favor of global portfolio rate-setting–but Huawei and ZTE may get that precedent overturned as the UK Supreme Court granted their petitions to appeal (the UK equivalent of a cert petition) last month.

      [...]

      Conversant can appeal this order, but since the Federal Circuit had already taken some pretty clear positions in its decision to remand the case to San Jose, it’s not likely that the order granting Apple’s motion would be reversed.

      This will hopefully serve to discourage companies participating in standard-setting from similar misconduct. It’s absolutely key that those sitting at the standard-development make timely disclosures of any intellectual property rights they hold that might read on certain techniques before those are formally adopted.

    • Plausibility to be debated by AIPPI at London meeting in September 2019

      As readers will be aware, the debate around plausibility initially arose at the European Patent Office in the mid-1990s (T 939/92, AgrEvo) at a time when applications with extremely broad claims were in vogue, particularly in the field of biotechnology. The term “plausibility”, as such, was used for the first time in T 1329/04 (John Hopkins).

    • If you want it, Claim it

      This is a consolidated appeal from four different district court cases and five different inter partes review cases. All the cases focus on BTG’s U.S. Patent No. 8,822,438 (hormone based chemotherapy). For once, the PTAB and District Court decisions meshed – all finding the claims invalid as obvious. On appeal, the Federal Circuit focused on one of the PTAB decisions and affirmed — with result of mooting the remaining appeals.

      [...]

      What this means is that the prior art’s use of prednisone as a steroid (for palliative care) directly reads on the claims.

      To be fair to the patentee, the patent focuses substantially on the reality that prednisone was found by the patentee to have anti-cancer effects itself. On appeal, the court effectively says – ‘if you wanted to claim that prednisone as an anti-cancer treatment, write it in the claims.’

    • Copyrights

      • No knowledge in secondary copyright infringement of Eminem’s first album

        Rap star Eminem (Marshal Bruce Mathers III) became famous after his second album in 1999. His lesser-known first album, ‘Infinite’, recorded in 1996 was less successful, but was the subject of this recent dispute before Judge Hacon in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court.

        Funky Bass Team Productions (FBT), a record company based in Detroit brought an action of copyright infringement against the defendants; Let Them Eat Vinyl Distribution (LTEV) a record company and Plastic Head Music Distribution (PHM) [related companies operating from the same address], after LTEV made vinyl copies of the Infinite album and supplied them to PHM who sold them, together with CD copies supplied by David Temkin (Boogie Up Productions).

Links 14/5/2019: GNU/Linux in Kerala, DXVK 1.2, KDE Frameworks 5.58.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 8:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • When to be concerned about memory levels on Linux

    Running out of memory on a Linux system is generally not a sign that there’s a serious problem. Why? Because a healthy Linux system will cache disk activity in memory, basically gobbling memory that isn’t being used, which is a very good thing.

    In other words, it doesn’t allow memory to go to waste. It uses the spare memory to increase disk access speed, and it does this without taking memory away from running applications. This memory caching, as you might well imagine, is hundreds of times faster than working directly with the hard-disk drives (HDD) and significantly faster than solid-state drives. Full or near full memory normally means that a system is running as efficiently as it can — not that it’s running into problems.

  • Linux Journal ASCII Art Contest

    Do you have l33t ASCII/ANSI art skillz? Your work could grace the cover of Linux Journal!

    That’s right—your ASCII art on the cover of the longest-running Linux publication on the planet.

  • Desktop

    • Kernel 5.1.1 Is Out, a Raspberry Pi Captured a Photo of a Soyuz in Space, It Might Be the Year of the Desktop, Nanonote 1.2.0 Released and OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 RC Is Now Available

      Windows and Chrome are making 2019 the “year of the desktop”. PCWorld writes, “After years of endless jokes, 2019 is truly, finally shaping up to be the year of Linux on the desktop. Laptops, too! But most people won’t know it. That’s because the bones of the open-source operating system kernel will soon be baked into Windows 10 and Chrome OS, as Microsoft and Google revealed at their respective developer conferences this week.”

    • All Chromebooks Will Support Linux Going Forward
    • Kerala schools to save Rs 3,000 crore by using Linux OS

      Schools in Kerala are expected to save Rs 3,000 crore as they have chosen the Linux-OpenSource (OS) operating system for computers being made available for teaching under a state-wide project.
      “Decks have been cleared for the country’s largest ICT training for teachers, with training of over 1,50,000 primary teachers being held in Kerala. From the next academic year, we’d ply more than 2,00,000 computers in schools and each of these will be powered by the latest version of the Linux-based Free Operating System (FOSS),” says K Anvar Sadath, vice-chairman and executive director of KITE (Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education).
      “If we had gone for applications of proprietary nature, each computer would have incurred at least Rs 1.5 lakh in licence fees,” he points out.
      In fact, KITE has rolled out the new version, named IT@School GNU/ Linux 18.04. Based on the Ubuntu OS LTS edition, the system features several free applications customised for state school curriculum.

    • KITE releases latest Linux-based free Operating System

      hiruvananthapuram, May 12 (UNI) KITE (Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education) has rolled out the latest version of its Linux based free Operating System ”IT@School GNU/ Linux 18.04” to be used in the thousands of computers in the state schools, an official statement said here on Sunday.
      According to official statement, the new version of the Operating System is based on the Ubuntu OS LTS edition.
      In addition to being the ideal OS for teachers and students in schools, this Operating System can also be used for home computers used for general purposes, government offices, DTP centers which uses office packages, Internet Kiosks, software developers, college students, other computer service providers as a complete computing platform which is free of cost.

    • Good News! Indian State Saves Over $400 Million by Choosing Linux

      Southern Indian state Kerala is known for its beautiful backwaters. Kerala is also known for its education policy. The first 100% literate Indian state has made IT classes mandatory in schools since 2003 and around 2005 they started to adopt free and open source software. It was a long term plan to boot out proprietary software from the education system.

      As a result, the state claimed to save around $50 million per year in licensing costs in 2015. Further expanding their open source mission, Kerala is going to put Linux with open source educational software on over 200,000 school computers and ‘claims’ save around $428 million in the process, reported Financial Express.

  • Server

    • 5 best open source Linux server distributions

      In this modern age, when you ask yourself, “What server platform should I use?” the default answer is no longer a simple, “Windows Server.” There are tons of available options, from on-premise servers, to cloud-based solutions, and everything in-between. But for those who want a standard, bare-metal and OS solution, there’s always Linux.

      Nearly any Linux distribution can be made into a server. That doesn’t, however, mean you should go with that idea. Why? There are certain distributions that simply make for better server platforms. Which ones?

      Let’s take a look at the five I believe to be the best platforms to meet your small to mid-size business needs. The only requirements for this are that the operating system must be open source and Linux.

    • Demystifying Containers – Part I: Kernel Space

      This series of blog posts and corresponding talks aims to provide you with a pragmatic view on containers from a historic perspective. Together we will discover modern cloud architectures layer by layer, which means we will start at the Linux Kernel level and end up at writing our own secure cloud native applications.
      Simple examples paired with the historic background will guide you from the beginning with a minimal Linux environment up to crafting secure containers, which fit perfectly into todays? and futures? orchestration world. In the end it should be much easier to understand how features within the Linux kernel, container tools, runtimes, software defined networks and orchestration software like Kubernetes are designed and how they work under the hood.

    • Cat shirts and Groundhog Day: the Kubernetes 1.14 release interview

      Last week we celebrated one year of the Kubernetes Podcast from Google. In this weekly show, my co-host Adam Glick and I focus on all the great things that are happening in the world of Kubernetes and Cloud Native. From the news of the week, to interviews with people in the community, we help you stay up to date on everything Kubernetes.

      Every few cycles we check in on the release process for Kubernetes itself. Last year we interviewed the release managers for Kubernetes 1.11, and shared that transcript on the Kubernetes blog. We got such great feedback that we wanted to share the transcript of our recent conversation with Aaron Crickenberger, the release manager for Kubernetes 1.14.

    • Clear Linux Preparing New Kernel Options

      Intel’s Clear Linux platform is preparing some new alternative kernel options and they are quite interesting from a testing/benchmarking perspective.

      On the Clear development list they have been signing off on new bundles around a kernel-native-current and kernel-mainline-vanilla options.

      Installing kernel-mainline-vanilla will provide a mainline Linux kernel build without any of the Clear Linux patches applied.

    • Use the Kubernetes Python client from your running Red Hat OpenShift pods

      Red Hat OpenShift is part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Certified Program, ensuring portability and interoperability for your container workloads. This also allows you to use Kubernetes tools to interact with an OpenShift cluster, like kubectl, and you can rest assured that all the APIs you know and love are right there at your fingertips.

      The Kubernetes Python client is another great tool for interacting with an OpenShift cluster, allowing you to perform actions on Kubernetes resources with Python code. It also has applications within a cluster. We can configure a Python application running on OpenShift to consume the OpenShift API, and list and create resources. We could then create containerized batch jobs from the running application, or a custom service monitor, for example. It sounds a bit like “OpenShift inception,” using the OpenShift API from services created using the OpenShift API.

      In this article, we’ll create a Flask application running on OpenShift. This application will use the Kubernetes Python client to interact with the OpenShift API, list other pods in the project, and display them back to the user.

    • Bringing IoT to Red Hat AMQ Online

      Red Hat AMQ Online 1.1 was recently announced, and I am excited about it because it contains a tech preview of our Internet of Things (IoT) support. AMQ Online is the “messaging as service solution” from Red Hat AMQ. Leveraging the work we did on Eclipse Hono allows us to integrate a scalable, cloud-native IoT personality into this general-purpose messaging layer. And the whole reason why you need an IoT messaging layer is so you can focus on connecting your cloud-side application with the millions of devices that you have out there.

    • Let’s be real: Diversity and inclusion is a business issue

      When diversity and inclusion are solutions to problems that affect us every day, we remain sharply focused on all the ways our efforts at cultivating more diverse teams are helping us do better work and generate value for customers. Something we might call the “D+I problem” (something we definitively “solve”) becomes something more like “the D+I conversation” (something we never stop having in all our complex systems).

      And when this conversation centers on a mindset that welcomes a wealth of backgrounds and experiences to the table, organizations can influence all of the components of their ecosystems to unlock their potential to be as innovative, responsive, and disruption-proof as they possibly can be.

    • RHEL8 Brings the Hybrid Cloud to DevOps

      The latest and greatest version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux ships with new features that will make routine administration tasks easier for DevOps teams, while clearing a path for hybrid cloud deployments.

  • Kernel Space

    • Google and Collabora Add Major Change to Linux Kernel 5.1 for Chrome OS Devices

      According to Collabora’s latest report on their contributions to the Linux 5.1 kernel, which arrived last week, it is now possible to mount and boot a mapped device by adding a kernel parameter via command-line at boot time, thus bypassing initramfs image. For Linux kernel 5.1, twelve Collabora’s developers also contributed 64 commits and 111 sign-offs, along with lots of bug reports and testing.

      “Helen Koike contributed a major change, providing a mechanism to mount a mapped device at boot time through a kernel command line parameter, removing the current initramfs requirement,” said Collabora’s André Almeida. “This change is the result of the combined effort of both Google and Collabora engineers to push upstream a feature that is shipped on Chrome OS devices and Android devices using AVB 2.0.”

    • Linux 5.2 IOMMU Changes Allow For More Flexible Intel VT-d Alternative To SR-IOV

      Merged today for the Linux 5.2 kernel are the IOMMU changes that contain some interesting Intel additions.

      With the IOMMU changes for Linux 5.2 is AUX (auxiliary) domain support for the kernel’s IOMMU API and necessary Intel VT-d driver support. What this “AUX domain” support allows is handling of multiple DMA address spaces / domains per PCI device.

    • Linux 5.1 Released with Memory and Security Improvements

      Linus Torvalds has finally released the stable version of Linux Kernal 5.1 after almost 13,000 commits. Though the codename ‘Shy Crocodile’ remained with the latest version, it brings some major improvements and a lot of new features.

      According to Phoronix, Linux 5.1 contains 17.8 million lines of code and 3.3 million lines of comments. ”On the whole, 5.1 looks very normal with just over 13k commits (plus another 1k+ if you count merges), which is pretty much our normal size these days,“ said Linus Torvalds.

      Linux 5.1 arrived a bit late as compared to other releases due to some last-minute pull requests. “The requests weren’t big enough to justify delaying things over, and hopefully, the merge window timing won’t be all that painful either,” wrote Linus.

    • Linux Kernel Prior to 5.0.8 Vulnerable to Remote Code Execution

      Linux machines running distributions powered by kernels prior to 5.0.8 are affected by a race condition vulnerability leading to a use after free, related to net namespace cleanup, exposing vulnerable systems to remote attacks.

      Potential attackers could exploit the security flaw found in Linux kernel’s rds_tcp_kill_sock TCP/IP implementation in net/rds/tcp.c to trigger denial-of-service (DoS) states and to execute code remotely on vulnerable Linux machines.

      The attacks can be launched with the help of specially crafted TCP packets sent to vulnerable Linux boxes which can trigger use-after-free errors and enable the attackers to execute arbitrary code on the target system.

    • Linux Kernel Can Be Exploited Remotely; Kernel Prior To 5.0.8 Affected

      We keep coming across various security loopholes in different software on a daily basis, but it rarely happens that Linux kernel gets crippled by a high-impact flaw. However, things are looking a bit different today as millions of Linux systems have been found to be affected by a massive flaw.

      It’s being reported that the kernel versions prior to 5.0.8 are affected by a race condition vulnerability. For those who aren’t aware, race condition attacks take place when a system designed to perform tasks in a particular sequence is made to perform two or more operations simultaneously. During this state, interference could be caused by a trusted/untrusted process.

    • Linux hit by use-after-free vulnerability

      Linux users are being warned of a vulnerability in versions of the kernel prior to 5.0.8 which allows for an attacker to issue a denial-of-service attack or potentially execute arbitrary code remotely.

      The Linux kernel, at the heart of the operating system family which bears its name, is one of the most widespread pieces of software in history. As well as powering everything from desktops to games consoles, it can be found on routers, gateways, firewalls, and even smart home devices like lightbulbs and thermostats. A vulnerability in Linux, then, is serious business – and this latest discovery affects every version prior to the most recent 5.0.8 release.

      Published as CVE-2019-11815, the vulnerability relates to a TCP socket closure function in the kernel’s networking code: A race condition allows for a use-after-free attack, giving a sufficiently motivated attacker the ability to crash or hang the system or potentially even execute arbitrary code without the need for user interaction. It’s a flaw serious enough for the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to issue an 8.1 score on its impact severity ranking, though the complexity of actually exploiting the vulnerability drops its impact score down to 2.2.

      Nevertheless, the flaw is a serious one – and made doubly so by the fact it has existed for such a long time and affects such a long list of kernel versions. With many products, especially in the smart home arena, being effectively sell-and-forget, there are likely to be vulnerable systems out there for years to come – and if the complexity of successful remote exploitation can be overcome, that could spell trouble.

    • Watch Out For BCache Corruption Issues On Linux 5.0 & GCC 9

      If you make use of BCache as a Linux block cache so that an SSD cache for a slower HDD, watch out as there is an active corruption bug.

      It appears that those employing BCache and running Linux 5.0 or newer when built by GCC 9, there is a nasty corruption bug exposed.

    • POWER Gets SMAP-Like Functionality, 32-bit KASAN Support On Linux 5.2

      Not only has the Linux 5.2 kernel been exciting on the x86_64 and ARM front, but there is also a fair amount of new IBM POWER architecture updates that landed for this summer 2019 kernel update.

      First up, POWER is now supporting a kernel user-space access/execution prevention technology. This feature is similar to Intel’s SMAP (Supervisor Mode Access Prevention) and similar SMEP / PAN / PXN technologies. This feature will prevent the kernel from accidentally accessing user-space outside of certain calls or ever executing user-space.

    • New Input Drivers Sent In For The Linux 5.2 Kernel

      Input subsystem maintainer Dmitry Torokhov sent in his pull request on Monday with various touch controller additions as well as the new GPIO vibrator driver.

      New input device support coming with Linux 5.2 includes Azoteq IQS550/572/525 touch controllers, Microchip AT42QT1050 keys, and Goodix GT5663 as the main additions.

    • Graphics Stack

      • An other look at nir

        There has been interest in NIR support for etnaviv for a while, for the obvious reasons: gaining access to common optimizations, better support for non-trivial code transformations, better register allocation, and the promise of OpenCL and SPIR-V support in the future.

        [...]

        So it comes down to my limted time and the big architectural changes I have done with unit tests and real shader compiles on the targets.

      • Etnaviv Developer Working On “EIR” Compiler Backend – Hopes For Vulkan Future

        Christian Gmeiner, one of the leading contributors to the Etnaviv Gallium3D code for providing open-source OpenGL driver coverage for Vivante graphics IP, has posted a series of patches for “EIR” as a new back-end IR based on NIR and other modern open-source driver graphics compiler back-ends.

        After studying the other Mesa compiler back-ends and NIR itself, Christian began work on EIR to provide “the best parts” of these different projects, including features like legalization, optimizations, a register allocator, and unit tests. He resisted from wiring NIR support into Etnaviv itself on the basis of NIR being a fast moving target and concerns about how well it will map to future hardware/drivers.

    • Benchmarks

      • Phoronix Test Suite 8.8 Officially Released

        Phoronix Test Suite 8.8-Hvaler is now officially available as the newest quarterly feature release to our open-source, fully-automated benchmarking software for Linux / BSD / macOS / Windows systems.

        Phoronix Test Suite 8.8 offers various PDF result/report improvements, various Microsoft Windows support updates, AVX-512 VNNI detection and other new hardware/software reporting improvements, and various statistical reporting/monitoring improvements.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Applications 19.04 Open-Source Software Suite Gets Its First Point Release

        Coming three weeks after the April 18th release of the KDE Applications 19.04 software suite, the KDE Applications 19.04.1 point release contains numerous bug fixes and translation updates for various of the included apps, including Ark, Cantor, Dolphin, Kdenlive, Kontact, Spectacle, and Umbrello.

        More than 125 changes are included in the KDE Applications 19.04.1 stability release, improving various features like tagging of files on the desktop so it no longer end up with a truncated tag name, KMail’s text sharing plugin so it no longer crash, and numerous regressions in the Kdenlive video editor.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.58.0

        KDE Frameworks are over 70 addon libraries to Qt which provide a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. For an introduction see the KDE Frameworks web page.

        This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.58 Released With Many Fixes, Improvements

        The latest monthly update to the KDE Frameworks collection of add-on libraries complementing Qt5 is now available.

      • Alberto Flores (albertoefg): New beginning

        Over the last few days I’ve had a few great news and some small wins. I was accepted in Google Summer of Code as a contributor to Krita, this gave me so much happiness. I also got my passport so I feel one step closer to the Krita Sprint and it is going to be awesome, I am really excited to meet everyone because everyone who is part of Krita has been great to me, Krita has this great positive community. I also started to do contributions to the manual and even though is something small I feel proud of myself. I also asked for a KDE Developer Account.

        I also had been going out more and working out, which is a nice change after being depressed and solitary for so long. And I’ve been more happy and optimist about life in general. I also got my grades for this four month period: 9.9,9.8,9.7,9.0,9.0, so I had a good period, but a new one has started already.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 6 Open-Source Alternatives to Proprietary Software: Self-Hosted Applications

    Using FOSS software is a great way of getting free access to valuable services and retaining your privacy and independence when you do it. Whether you’re running your own business on a tight budget or just want to use social media without fear of corporations stockpiling your personal info, there are tons of free and open source alternatives to the mainstream proprietary software that you’re probably used to.

    FOSS software also fosters communities and the sharing of knowledge. For those that have the hardware and time, there are tons of benefits to self-hosting sites built on open-source software. Here are 6 of the best open-source, self-hosted applications and how they compare to their proprietary counterparts.

  • Events

    • Why You Must Go To KubeCon+CloudNativeCon

      We sat down and talked to Janet Kuo, Software Engineer at Google, Co-Chair of KubeCon + CloudNativeCon to learn what’s exciting about this event.

    • A Look Back At Cloud Foundry Summit In Philadelphia

      The Cloud Foundry Foundation and its members work diligently each spring and fall to bring their community the best event possible in North America and Europe. Last month, the Cloud Foundry Summit took place in Philadelphia, attracting more than a thousand end users, open source contributors, software engineers, operators, CIOs and others to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Attendee feedback dubbed it the best Summit to date, and new events like the Contributors Summit and Community Awards fostered an even stronger sense of community across a tight-knit group.

    • EuroPython 2019: Talk Voting is open

      After the talk voting phase, the EuroPython Program Workgroup (WG) will use the votes to select the talks and build a schedule.
      The talk voting is a good and strong indicator what attendees are interested to see. Submissions are also selected based on editorial criteria to e.g. increase diversity, giving a chance to less mainstream topics as well as avoiding too much of the same topic.
      In general, the Program WG will try to give as many speakers a chance to talk as possible. If speakers have submitted multiple talks, the one with the highest rating will most likely get selected.

    • Some beds, some talk slots and many seats still available for the Mini-DebConf in Hamburg in June 2019

      We still have 14 affordable beds available for the the MiniDebConf Hamburg 2019, which will take place in Hamburg (Germany) from June 5 to 9, with three days of Debcamp style hacking, followed by two days of talks, workshops and more hacking. If you were unsure about coming because of accomodation, please reconsider and come around! (And please mail me directly if you would like to sleep in a bed on site.)

    • Jennifer Cloer – CEO/Co-founder – reTHINKit Media

      In this episode of Let’s Talk, Swapnil Bhartiya sat down with Jennifer Cloer to discuss the evolution of her media company and the new projects she is working on.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Support.Mozilla.Org: Introducing Josh and Jeremy to the SUMO team

        Today the SUMO team would like to welcome Josh and Jeremy who will be joining our team from Boise, Idaho.

        Josh and Jeremy will be joining our team to help out on Support for some of the new efforts Mozilla are working on towards creating a connected and integrated Firefox experience.

        They will be helping out with new products, but also providing support on forums and social channels, as well as serving as an escalation point for hard to solve issues.

      • Mozilla Reps Community: Rep of the Month – April 2019

        Lidya Christina is from Jakarta, Indonesia. Her contribution in SUMO event in 2016 lead her into a proud Mozillian, an active contributor of Mozilla Indonesia and last March 2019 she joined the Reps program.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • LibrePlanet 2019 videos now live!

      At the LibrePlanet 2019 conference, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) recorded 40 speaker sessions — over 24 hours of video, and they are now online on our GNU MediaGoblin instance.

      The FSF team put their heads together and selected a few of our favorites from the entire 2019 Libreplanet program for you to start with — brought to you in a Digital Restrictions Management (DRM)-free, downloadable, free format.

  • Programming/Development

    • The Rust Programming Language Blog: Security advisory for the standard library

      The Rust team was recently notified of a security vulnerability affecting manual implementations of Error::type_id and their interaction with the Error::downcast family of functions in the standard library. If your code does not manually implement Error::type_id your code is not affected.

      We are applying for a CVE for this vulnerability, but since there is no embargo, we have not filed for one yet. Once a CVE is assigned, we’ll make a second post to make mention of the CVE number.

    • Recommended podcast episode: No Plans to Merge “Feature Branches”
    • Finding the cheapest flights for a multi-leg trip with Amadeus API and Python
    • Playing and Recording Sound in Python
    • New Book: “Effective PyCharm” by Michael Kennedy and Matt Harrison
    • Coverage.py 5.0a5: pytest contexts
    • How to wrangle log data with Python and Apache Spark

      One of the most popular and effective enterprise use-cases which leverage analytics today is log analytics. Nearly every organization today has multiple systems and infrastructure running day in and day out. To effectively keep their business running, these organizations need to know if their infrastructure is performing to its maximum potential. Finding out involves analyzing system and application logs and maybe even applying predictive analytics on log data. The amount of log data involved is typically massive, depending on the type of organizational infrastructure involved and applications running on it.

    • How to analyze log data with Python and Apache Spark

      In part one of this series, we began by using Python and Apache Spark to process and wrangle our example web logs into a format fit for analysis, a vital technique considering the massive amount of log data generated by most organizations today. We set up environment variables, dependencies, loaded the necessary libraries for working with both DataFrames and regular expressions, and of course loaded the example log data. Then we wrangled our log data into a clean, structure, and meaningful format. Here in part two, we focus on analyzing that data.

    • hipSYCL Gets New Compilation Toolchain For Taking SYCL Directly To CUDA & ROCm

      Could 2019 be the year that SYCL really takes off for this single-source C++-based programming model? There’s certainly a lot of interesting projects going on around SYCL.

      Intel is making very interesting moves and among them are working on upstreaming SYCL support in LLVM. It appears this SYCL play of theirs will be a key part of their “oneAPI” effort that is supposed to be out by year’s end.

    • How to Extract Build Info from Jenkins with Python

      The Python Jenkins package will work with both Hudson and Jenkins which JenkinsAPI only works with Jenkins. I usually use Python Jenkins because of this, although I have recently started looking to see which one works better with artifacts and I discovered that JenkinsAPI is actually better for that sort of thing. So you will need to evaluate both of these packages depending on what you need to do.

    • Stylin’ with Pandas

      I have been working on a side project so I have not had as much time to blog. Hopefully I will be able to share more about that project soon.

      In the meantime, I wanted to write an article about styling output in pandas. The API for styling is somewhat new and has been under very active development. It contains a useful set of tools for styling the output of your pandas DataFrames and Series. In my own usage, I tend to only use a small subset of the available options but I always seem to forget the details. This article will show examples of how to format numbers in a pandas DataFrame and use some of the more advanced pandas styling visualization options to improve your ability to analyze data with pandas.

    • Introducing SwiftWasm, a tool for compiling Swift to WebAssembly

      The SwiftWasm tool is built on top of the WASI SDK, which is a WASI-enabled C/ C++ toolchain. This makes the WebAssembly executables generated by SwiftWasm work on both browsers and standalone WebAssembly runtimes such as Wasmtime, Fastly’s Lucet, or any other WASI-compatible WebAssembly runtime.

    • NodeRun Is Node.js For Everyone

      NodeRun is the free, easy, and social way to develop and deploy full-stack, enterprise-ready Node.js applications. We provide the cloud-based visual IDE, the database, and the server – you just need to bring your imagination.

      We built NodeRun with business application development in mind. You can develop line-of-business applications faster than by traditional methods, making it an ideal solution for new and experienced Node.js developers alike. When you create an application in NodeRun, we provide you with a small instance of Ubuntu Linux, a MariaDB database, and a Node.js server running Express and our Profound.js framework. Everything you need to start developing your application and all running in the cloud.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • The Shifting Dynamics of Participation in an Online Programming Community

      Informal online learning communities are one of the most exciting and successful ways to engage young people in technology. As the most successful example of the approach, over 40 million children from around the world have created accounts on the Scratch online community where they learn to code by creating interactive art, games, and stories. However, despite its enormous reach and its focus on inclusiveness, participation in Scratch is not as broad as one would hope. For example, reflecting a trend in the broader computing community, more boys have signed up on the Scratch website than girls.

      In a recently published paper, I worked with several colleagues from the Community Data Science Collective to unpack the dynamics of unequal participation by gender in Scratch by looking at whether Scratch users choose to share the projects they create. Our analysis took advantage of the fact that less than a third of projects created in Scratch are ever shared publicly. By never sharing, creators never open themselves to the benefits associated with interaction, feedback, socialization, and learning—all things that research has shown participation in Scratch can support.

  • Hardware

    • iOS 13 reportedly won’t support four older iPhones

      That’s according to a source speaking to iPhonesoft.fr, who claims that the iPhone 5S, iPhone SE, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are next in line for the chopping board. Joining them on said chopping board are the iPad mini 2 and the iPad Air – that’s the one from 2013, not the identically named version from this year, before you try and track down your receipt.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Fears for Roe V. Wade After Supreme Court Issues Decision Overruling a 40-Year Precedent

      The U.S. Supreme Court’s liberal justices sounded alarm on Monday after the court issued a ruling overturning a four decades-old precedent.

      “Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next,” Justice Bryer wrote in his dissent (pdf), in which Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.

      Some observers expressed fear one of the those caes could be Roe v. Wade.

    • Photo: Celebrity stylist Sergey Zverev goes to court for defending his hometown on Lake Baikal from a bottled water factory

      On May 13, a Moscow court fined the celebrity stylist and singer Sergey Zverev after he picketed alone on Red Square. Zverev was cited for violating protest regulations. In early March, Zverev stood by the Kremlin twice to protest the construction of a water bottling plant on Lake Baikal. The facility was to be built in the village of Kultuk, where Zverev grew up. Shortly after the stylist’s picket, a court order brought the plant’s construction to a halt due in part to Baikal locals’ objections to the fact that the factory would be Chinese-owned.

    • What Did Deepest Submarine Dive in History Find in Mariana Trench? Plastic Garbage

      Four new species of crustaceans. Samples of rock from the seafloor. Plastic pollution.

      That’s what American explorer Victor Vescovo found when he descended seven miles underwater to the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean—the deepest dive in human history. The plastic Vescovo found at the bottom of the trench is a grim reminder that human refuse is everywhere on the planet.

      Vescovo and his team announced they had made the journey to the bottom of the trench on Monday. Along with the dive depth record, Vescovo holds the distinction of being the first person to dive to the trench more than once.

    • Over a Million Americans Have HIV, CDC Reports

      According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 1.1 million Americans ages 13 and over have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

      A decade ago, the spread of HIV/AIDS was declining in America and internationally. In 2009, the World Health Organization reported that cases had declined 17% over the previous eight years.

      Now, according to a May article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM): “The United States has been unable to reduce the number of new HIV infections below a startling 38,000 to 40,000 per year.”

    • Illegal Bt Brinjal In India: A Call To Initiate Criminal Proceedings Against Regulators And Corporations

      What is the point in central government orders and carefully thought out regulatory norms if government officials and regulators act with blatant disregard? This is precisely what we now see happening in India where genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are concerned.

      India has the greatest brinjal germplasm in the world with 2,500 varieties, including wild species. Following news in April that (genetically engineered) Bt brinjal is being illegally cultivated in Haryana, prominent campaigner and environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues says:

      “These varieties are now under threat of irreversible contamination (cross-pollination) because of cumulative acts over time of senseless and criminally irresponsible regulatory oversight. More properly expressed: a virtual vacuum in GMO regulation.”

      The cultivation of Bt brinjal (aubergine/eggplant) contravenes the indefinite moratorium that currently exists on the commercial release of Bt brinjal in India.

      The moratorium has been in place since 2010 following a unique four-month scientific enquiry and public hearings regarding field trial data and crop developer Mayhco’s application for the commercialisation of Bt brinjal. Back then, the decision to reject commercialisation was supported by advice that the then Minister Jairam Ramesh received from several renowned international scientists.

    • Neurotoxic Organophosphate Chemicals in Your Mobile, Tablet, Laptop, Sofa, and Even Bed!

      Some people may have never heard the word ‘organophosphates’ to know what they are and what they do. Others may have only heard of organophosphates in relation to nerve agent chemical attacks – such as the one in Tokyo in 1995 where sarinwas released on three lines of the Tokyosubway during rush hour, killing 12 people, severely injuring 50 (some of whom later died), and causing vision problems for nearly 1,000 others.

      All those who have suffered the adverse effects of organophosphates (OPs) from sheep dipping, agricultural pesticide spraying, contaminated air on planes, among other sources, will of course know only too well the health damage and devastation these chemicals cause.

      Organophosphate chemicals are in fact among some of the most toxic in the world.

      Indeed a brief glimpse into the history of organophosphates shows the true and deliberate toxic purpose of these chemicals. In 1937 the first OP compounds were synthesized by a group of German chemists. These very potent compounds were originally developed as ‘nerve gas’ chemical warfare agents for potential use during World War II.

    • FDA Issues Another Draft Guidance Regarding Biosimilar Interchangeability

      Late last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a final version of its “Guidance for Industry,” entitled “Considerations in Demonstrating Interchangeability With a Reference Product” regarding the as-yet unexercised provision of the Biologic Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA). This Guidance is facially similar to the draft Guidance issued this past January for notice and comment, and thus reflects the agency’s response to those comments (see “FDA Issues Guidance Regarding Interchangeability of Biosimilar and Biologic Drugs”).

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • WhatsApp discovers ‘targeted’ surveillance attack

      WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, said the attack targeted a “select number” of users, and was orchestrated by “an advanced cyber actor”.

    • Update WhatsApp now to avoid spyware installation from a single missed call

      A vulnerability discovered in Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging app is being exploited to inject commercial spyware onto Android and iOS phones by simply calling the target, reports The Financial Times. The spyware, developed by Israel’s secretive NSO group, can be installed without trace and without the target answering the call, according to security researchers and confirmed by WhatsApp.

    • WhatsApp vulnerability allowed [attackers] to monitor voice calls via spyware

      WhatsApp discovered the vulnerability earlier this week and has issued a security advisory asking its users to update the app. The loophole allowed attackers simply to call a user and install the surveillance software even if the call was not picked up.

    • Hackers Exploit Confluence Vulnerability to Plant Crypto Mining Malware

      As stated in the Trend Micro report, earlier in March 2019, Atlassian the creators of Confluence, an enterprise-grade collaboration software written in the Java programming language, published an advisory report on two critical security loopholes in the Confluence program: the WebDAV and Widget connector vulnerabilities.
      At the time, Atlassian made it clear to users that threat actors could take advantage of the security hole to “remotely exploit a Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF) vulnerability in the WebDAV plugin to send arbitrary HTTP and WebDAV requests from a Confluence Server or Data Center instance.”
      For the uninitiated, a Collaborative software or groupware is an application software developed to help people involved in a common task to get their work done seamlessly.

    • A GPS safety tracker is spectacularly unsafe

      First of all, this isn’t your standard [crack]. The device isn’t internet connected, so there’s little room for [cracking] in that sense. It relies on SMS messages, because that’s how the device itself is designed to communicate. When the vulnerable person presses the panic button, or has a slip picked up by the fall detection, the device broadcasts its GPS coordinates via a text message to friends and relatives. It also has a microphone and speaker built in, so the person can be reached in emergency.

    • Millions Of Cisco Routers Worldwide Are At Risk Due To ‘Thrangrycat’ Bug

      recent report from Red Balloon pits the security of millions of Cisco Routers around the world for a serious test. The report labels the potential exploit termed as “Thrangrycat“, a Cisco Router Bug in the routers. It can be exploited to gain access to the data flowing through the huge number of Cisco devices around the world.

    • This WhatsApp Flaw Allowed Israeli Hackers To Send Spyware Via Voice Call

      WhatsApp has today disclosed that a vulnerability allowed hackers to install national grade spyware on phones. The vulnerability was discovered in May this year and exploited a flaw in the audio call feature of the messaging app. The caller was able to install the spyware on the affected phones even though the receiver declined the call.

      The spyware installed on the phones is called ‘Pegasus’ which is a creation of Israeli cyber-intelligence company NSO. WhatsApp did not mention NSO in its official statement, but it was evident from the statement.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Facebook’s “celebration” and “memories” algorithms are auto-generating best-of-terror-recruiting pages for extremist groups

      According to a five-month-long, 3,000-page National Whistleblowers Center study of terror groups on Facebook, the celebration/memories algorithm is auto-generating anthology pages that celebrate and frame the most effective terror messages created by extremists, giving them much-needed help in promoting their message to their base.

    • Whistleblower Says Facebook Generating Terror Content

      The National Whistleblowers Center in Washington carried out a five-month study of the pages of 3,000 members who liked or connected to organizations proscribed as terrorist by the US government.

      Researchers found that the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda were “openly” active on the social network.

      More worryingly, the Facebook’s own software was automatically creating “celebration” and “memories” videos for extremist pages that had amassed sufficient views or “likes.”

    • Interview With Abby Martin And Robbie Martin Of Media Roots Radio On Venezuela

      If you would like to support the show and help keep us going strong, please become a subscriber on our Patreon page.
      On this week’s “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast, we have a crossover episode with “Media Roots” radio.
      In the first part of the show, we talk with Abby Martin and Robbie Martin of Media Roots about some of the projects they’re involved in currently. Abby tells us about “Empire Files.” Robbie mentions he is working on another documentary in his “A Very Heavy Agenda” series on neoconservatives.

      Both Rania and Kevin talk about some of their recent work. Rania highlights a recent project for “In The Now.” Kevin shares some of the work he is doing to cover Julian Assange’s case.

    • The Plot to Kill Venezuela

      Hugo Chávez knew that Venezuela was very vulnerable. Its oil revenues account for 98 percent of its export earnings. Chávez was familiar with the thinking of Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, Venezuela’s minister of mines and hydrocarbons in the early 1960s and one of the architects of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). In 1976, Pérez Alfonzo wrote, “Ten years from now, twenty years from now, you will see, oil will bring us ruin.” He called Venezuela’s oil the “devil’s excrement.” If oil prices remained high, as they were when Chávez came to power in 1999, then oil revenue could be used to finance a project for the landless workers. If oil prices collapsed, then the country—laden with debt—would face severe challenges.

      Venezuela’s economy had not been diversified by the oligarchy that ruled the country before Chávez took office. By 1929, it had become apparent to the oligarchy that the flood of oil revenues had damaged the agricultural sector—which shrank in the decades to come. There was neither an attempt to enhance agricultural production (and make Venezuela food sovereign) nor was there any attempt to use oil profits for a wider industrialization program. Occasionally, presidents—such as Carlos Andrés Pérez in the 1970s—would pledge to use the influx of oil revenues to diversify the economy, but when oil prices would fall—as they did periodically—Venezuela went into punishing debt.

      It would have taken Chávez a generation to pivot the economy away from its reliance upon oil revenues. But Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution simply did not have the time. In the 2000s, when oil prices remained high, the revenues were used to enhance the social lives of the landless workers, most of whom suffered high rates of malnutrition and illiteracy. Gripped by the need to deal with the social blight amongst the landless workers, Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution simply did not have the capacity to tackle reliance upon imports of food and of most consumer goods.

    • For Iranians, The War Has Already Begun

      Not a day goes by without the Trump administration imposing a new challenge on us, the Iranian people. Those who think that the travel ban has been the hardest obstacle for Iranians need to catch up with latest foreign policy developments. Encouraged by Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisors, the Iranian people today face an increasing risk of military attack by the United States. Also, the Iranian currency has lost 80 percent of its value since last year, mainly reflecting the collective sense of fear caused by the increased sanctions and the decertification of the Iran nuclear deal, as well as the increasing empowerment of the most undemocratic factions of the Iranian state. Trump has proudly taken credit for bankrupting an economy that feeds 80 million people, and he has recently promised to reduce Iran’s oil export to zero.

      Iran is only marginally reflected in the U.S. news, which means the American public does not hear voices that express the human suffering caused by the U.S. government far beyond its borders. The murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, Trump’s best ally in the region, is a rare instance of attention given to the nature of America’s allies and Iran’s opponents in the Middle East. Pro-democracy Iranians worldwide are experiencing a political trauma. They feel alienated from both internal and world politics. They are unable to communicate the debilitating pain of, on the one hand, expecting a military attack by the United States and on the other, the worsening of the political landscape in their home country.

    • Venezuelan Communes Protect the State

      Direct democracy works like a charm. Check out Venezuela’s Communes….

      Venezuela’s ubiquitous Communes are proof that direct democracy works. And, interestingly enough, those same Communes are powerful buffers to attempted coups, protecting the sanctity of direct democracy in their country.

      In all likelihood, John Bolton and Trump and Pence and Pompeo and Rubio were shocked beyond recognition by the failed coup attempt they helped orchestrate to overpower a democratically elected government south of the border, colloquially known as extending the concept of Manifest Destiny to its fullest extent.

      To Bolton’s/Rubio’s dismay, opposition leader Juan Guaidó proved to be a clown dressed up as a proponent of democratic spirits, a motivator, a savior. Well, he’s been tossed into the dustbin as a miserable failure, an international pariah who has been shamed into seclusion. His American co-conspirators look like big fat dupes.

      Interestingly enough, the citizens of Venezuela did not answer Juan Guaidó’s official call to assemble, to revolt, and eliminate Maduro, overthrowing the dictator. Those were the instructions to a public that remained dead silent and in place. Nobody showed up for the well-advertised great event, as Juan Guaidó wanted to “Make Venezuela Great Again.”

      Only in the U.S. do people fall for such claptrap. Venezuela’s politically astute citizens know hollow sloganeering when they hear it. After all, they have direct democracy that works like a charm, why change anything?

    • Who is Our “Adversary”? A Question of Language

      There’s a new word in town, folks – or rather an old word with a new meaning. It has become the fashion among politicians and journalists to describe nations like Russia, China, and Iran, and leaders like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Ali Khamenei, as “adversaries.” This is a term that gives me the creeps both because of what it says and what it hides.

      According to Webster-Merriam, adversary is another word for “an enemy or opponent,” but in today’s parlance it has become a blurry euphemism. Russia and China are called adversaries by people who loathe and fear these governments, but who consider it crude, impolitic, and possibly dangerous to label them enemies. You go to war with enemies. But what if you want to trade with them? What if you want to trade with themandattack them, using methods short of bombs and bullets?

      “Adversary” provides an answer by introducing a note – actually, a whole symphonic score – of ambiguity. The Oxford Dictionary tells us that the word means “one’s opponent in a contest, conflict, or dispute.” This is how an anti-Russian (or anti-Chinese, anti-Iranian, or anti-Anyone) critic can have his cake while eating it too. The phrase “Russian adversary” conjures up a dangerous, long-lived and malicious enemy, reminding us that the term’s secondary meaning is “Satan; the Devil.” If challenged, however, the phrasemaker can always say, “I only meant that they are our opponents in a dispute. You know, like business competitors.”

      Such a convenient blur! Since the opponent is an adversary, not necessarily an enemy, it’s ok to trade and negotiate with him instead of going to war. But, since he is an opponent, and therefore assumed to be “hostile” (another current buzzword), it’s also ok to punish him using such measures as economic sanctions, cyber-warfare, and covert activities.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Australia: GetUp’s silence over the persecution of Julian Assange

      Seven years year later, GetUp has totally abandoned the Australian citizen. It has not issued a single statement about Assange’s persecution, or uttered a word about its consequences for press freedom. And it refuses to explain why.

      Repeated attempts by the World Socialist Web Site over the past two weeks to secure an explanation from GetUp’s media liaison representatives—via phone, text messages and email—have come to nothing.

      Questions about the last time GetUp issued an official statement in defence of Assange, and when and how the organisation decided not to condemn his arrest and imprisonment, have met a brick wall.

    • WikiLeaks source Manning could be jailed again soon if she disobeys U.S. grand jury

      Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst and source for online publisher WikiLeaks, could be jailed again if she refuses to comply with a new grand jury subpoena, said a U.S. law enforcement source, as well as Manning herself.

    • Julian Assange: Ecuador will give Julian Assange’s embassy computers and files to the US
    • Ecuador will give US all documents & devices Assange left in London embassy – report

      Ecuador’s attorney general has informed Julian Assange’s lawyer that the WikiLeaks co-founder’s files, computer, mobile phones and other electronic devices will be seized during a search of the London embassy and sent to the US.

      WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson tried unsuccessfully to retrieve Assange’s personal belongings from Ecuador’s UK embassy, where he had been holed up for almost seven years before his arrest and incarceration last month. However, the Ecuadorian government has reportedly greenlighted a US request to provide it with access to the documents and electronic devices left behind by the jailed WikiLeaks editor after he was hauled out of the embassy by the British police on April 11.

    • Another Whistleblower Bites the Dust as The Intercept Adds a Third Notch to Its Burn Belt

      Early Thursday morning, the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against Daniel Everette Hale — a former intelligence analyst for the U.S. Air Force and National Security Agency (NSA) and later a defense contractor working for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) — for providing a reporter with classified government information. The reporter in question, although unnamed in the indictment, is Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of and journalist for the online publication The Intercept.

      The indictment against Hale makes him the third Intercept source to be charged with leaking classified information to the outlet in less than two years. Notably, both of the government whistleblowers that have already been prosecuted and convicted by the Trump administration – Reality Winner and Terry Albury – were Intercept sources who were outed as whistleblowers by reporters working for the online publication.

      The publication, which has long been associated with the documents shared by whistleblower Edward Snowden, has yet to fire any of the reporters responsible for these breaches that have seen two whistleblowers already imprisoned and third, Daniel Hale, likely to be imprisoned.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • C02 Levels Top 415 PPM for First Time in Human History

      The carbon dioxide high was recorded by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii and tweeted out by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Saturday, which regularly updates C02 levels. The observatory recorded a daily C02 reading of 415.26 ppm, which is the first time the daily level topped 415 ppm.

    • There is more CO2 in the atmosphere today than any point since the evolution of humans

      “We don’t know a planet like this.”

      That was the reaction of meteorologist Eric Holthaus to news that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have reached heights not seen in the entirety of human existence — not history, existence.

    • When Your Planet Calls 911

      Imagine that your doctor sat you down and told you, firmly and unequivocally, that your way of life was putting you at serious risk of heart failure. The only way to reduce this risk and avoid a possibly fatal health catastrophe, she said, was to make some major changes—and to make them right now. First, you had to quit smoking. Second, you had to cut way back on alcohol, greasy foods, and saturated fats. Third, you had to start exercising daily. Fourth, you had to find new and better ways to manage your stress and lower your blood pressure.

      You might very well walk out of her office and say to yourself: Whoa . . . this is clearly the wake-up call I needed. I have to reconsider my choices and make these changes, as difficult as they may be. I owe it to myself and the people in my life who love and rely on me.

      Then again, you might also say to yourself: Seriously? She expects me to do all that? I’ve been living this way my whole adult life. I can’t stop now. I guess there’s just nothing to be done.

      Hundreds of millions of people around the world woke up on Monday morning to headlines that added up to a truly sobering prognosis for the world’s ecosystems and the human beings who inhabit them. “Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace,” warned the New York Times. “Human society under urgent threat from loss of Earth’s natural life” was how The Guardian opted to phrase it. The Washington Post didn’t pull any punches, either, with its page-one, boldface augury: “One million species face extinction, U.N. report says. And humans will suffer as a result.” Even more bluntly, New York magazine went with “Humanity Is About to Kill 1 Million Species in a Globe-Spanning Murder-Suicide.”

    • Trump Failed Puerto Rico. These People Picked up the Cost.

      After the hurricane, she recalls thinking, “I have everything here — water, lights, a roof over my head — and they’re over there without any lights.” Hernandez said she could not sit down to a hot meal in a cool home while her brothers and nieces and nephews on the island languished without food or air conditioning. Worried about her family, she took it upon herself to deliver the relief the federal government had failed to provide.
      In the aftermath of the storm, Hernandez said, she spent around $8,000 to send aid to family back home, in addition to another $2,000 donated by her clients. “I swear to God, I have the best clients,” she said. The money paid for canned beef and chicken, coffee, peanut butter, batteries, solar-powered radios and lamps, as well as generators needed to operate fans, refrigerators and medical equipment, such as her brother’s dialysis machine.
      “I don’t think I did anything so heroic. I did what I had to do,” she said. “I took care of whoever needed the most.” She only wishes the government had done the same.

    • Rowan Williams endorses Green Party lead candidate for Eastern Region

      In a statement issued in Cambridge, Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, said:

      “It is harder and harder to pretend that we’re not living in the middle of the most serious environmental crisis in recorded history. We desperately need people in British and Indeed global politics who are not afraid to name this challenge for what it is, and to look at what needs to change in our lives if we are to avoid terrible cost to future generations and to the most vulnerable people of our own generation across the world.

      “Catherine Rowett is someone with the honesty, the courage and the clarity to speak out and think hard on these matters, and I sincerely wish there were more like her in our public life. I have deep confidence in her integrity and vision.”

      Catherine is a Norwich resident and Professor of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia.

    • Bayer apologizes over secret list of Monsanto critics

      Germany’s Bayer, which bought the US agrochemical firm Monsanto, issued an apology on Sunday following reports that its American subsidiary drew up a list of those critical of the firm’s practices.

      “After an initial analysis, we understand that such a project raised concerns and criticism,” Bayer said in a statement. “This is not the way Bayer would seek dialogue with different stakeholders and society, so we apologize.”

      The Leverkusen-headquartered firm said it would hire a law firm to carry out an external investigation into the matter.

      The French prosecutor said Friday it had opened a probe after newspaper Le Monde filed a complaint.

      [...]

      Monsanto produces the broad-spectrum glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup. The firm and new owner Bayer deny that Roundup causes cancer.

      However, last August, a US jury found Bayer liable because Monsanto had not warned users of alleged cancer risks linked to Roundup.

      The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new decision in April that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, which is made by Monsanto, does no
      t cause cancer or other health problems if used according to instruction labels.

      Bayer Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann is facing increased shareholder pressure over the litigation it inherited from Monsanto. It is the named defendant in US lawsuits concerning Roundup filed by 13,400 people.

      Bayer shares have fallen about 40% since the $63 billion (€56 billion) Monsanto purchase was completed last June.

    • Skincare Chemicals and Coral Reefs

      Healthy coral reefs are one of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. They provide billions of dollars in economic and environmental services, such as food, coastal protection, and tourism. However, coral ecosystems around the world face serious threats from a number of sources, including climate change, unsustainable fishing, land-based pollution, coastal development, disease, and invasive species. Recently, scientists have discovered that some of the chemicals found in sunscreen and other personal health products also threaten the health of coral reefs. How these, and other compounds, affect reef ecosystems remains an active area of research among scientists.

    • Biden’s Reported ‘Middle Ground’ Climate Policy Doesn’t Go Far Enough, Advocates Say

      Former Vice President Joe Biden has not released a detailed climate policy since he entered the Democratic presidential primary race a little more than two weeks ago. But two sources close to his campaign told Reuters Friday that he is crafting a policy that would serve as a “middle ground” between environmental advocates and blue-collar workers who voted for President Donald Trump.

    • Exclusive: Presidential hopeful Biden looking for ‘middle ground’ climate policy

      Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is crafting a climate change policy he hopes will appeal to both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters who elected Donald Trump, according to two sources, carving out a middle ground approach that will likely face heavy resistance from green activists.

      [...]

      On Twitter, Biden echoed the statement and said he plans to unveil policies that reflect the urgency of climate change.

      “I’ll have more specifics on how America can lead on climate in the coming weeks,” he said.

      The approach, which has not been previously reported, will set Biden apart from many of his Democratic rivals for the White House who have embraced much tougher climate agendas, like the Green New Deal calling for an end to U.S. fossil fuels use within 10 years. That could make Biden, vice president under Obama, a target of environmental groups and youth activists ahead of next year’s primary elections.

      “I respect where they (activist groups) are coming from,” Zichal said. “What we learned from the Obama administration is unless we find middle ground on these issues, we risk not having any policies.”

      More than half of the crowded field of Democratic contenders, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Jay Inslee and Pete Buttigieg have backed the Green New Deal, and many have also called for a moratorium on drilling on federal land.

    • Historic Agreement on Plastic Pollution Reached by 180+ Countries Without the U.S.

      The U.S. is one of a few countries that has not signed on to a historic UN agreement to limit plastic pollution, the Associated Press reported.

    • Nearly every country in the world approves pact to reduce plastic pollution, except the U.S.

      Nearly every country in the world has agreed upon a legally binding framework to reduce the pollution from plastic waste except for the United States, U.N. environmental officials say.

      An agreement on tracking thousands of types of plastic waste emerged Friday at the end of a two-week meeting of U.N.-backed conventions on plastic waste and toxic, hazardous chemicals.

      Discarded plastic clutters pristine land, floats in huge masses in oceansand rivers and entangles wildlife, sometimes with deadly results.

      Rolph Payet of the United Nations Environment Program said the “historic” agreement linked to the 186-country, U.N.-supported Basel Convention means that countries will have to monitor and track the movements of plastic waste outside their borders.

    • Travel and Tourism

      Did you know that the last time you spent a night in a beachfront bed and breakfast or enjoyed a seafood meal overlooking the ocean, you were supporting an industry that employs over two million people in this country? Chances are you didn’t realize that your much-needed vacation was as important to the national economy as it was to your own well-being.

      One look at any of our country’s coastlines, and tourism’s allure is understandable. The ocean is our provider, from food and transportation to the endless opportunities for enjoyment that many Americans work so hard to achieve. Anyone who has been on a honeymoon in Hawaii, a fishing expedition in the Gulf of Mexico, or seen the sun set over Big Sur will tell you that they wouldn’t give those moments up for all the money in the world. And while those experiences are priceless, they also happen to contribute to the $116 billion that ocean tourism, in turn, contributes to the economy each year.

    • Energy Regulators May Reconsider Rules Critics Say Fueled America’s Oil and Gas Pipeline Glut

      A little-noticed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announcement could have an outsized impact on the oil and gas pipeline industries — if the commission decides to snap shut loopholes that analysts say create financial incentives to build too many new pipelines in the U.S.

      The way the rules are currently written can allow unusually high profit margins for new pipeline projects. Since 1997, FERC has allowed certain new pipelines to rake in 14 percent profits — a rate far higher than the returns presently generated by, say, corporate bonds — with little eye to how that compares to profits available from other investments.

    • It will be Very Hot and very Wet–We’ve exceeded 415ppm of Carbon Dioxide for the first Time since the Pliocene

      The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration measures atmospheric carbon dioxide at its Moana Loa observatory. You can see that on May 11 we were just about at 415 parts per million of CO2. A couple of days this week, we’ve gone over 415. When I say that, you should run screaming like a tsunami is coming over the horizon with mayhem on its mind. 415 is bigger than a million tsunamis. We put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when we drive gasoline autos or burn coal or natural gas for heating.

    • Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders Join Sold-Out Final Stop of Sunrise Movement’s Road to a Green New Deal Tour

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders are among the high-profile advocates for bold climate policy slated to speak Monday night at the sold-out final stop of the Sunrise Movement’s nationwide Road to a Green New Deal tour.

      The youth-led Sunrise Movement—known for protesting at the offices of key federal lawmakers, from Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—announced the tour in March, shortly after Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), another speaker at Monday’s event, introduced the Green New Deal resolution.

    • World ‘Not on Track” to Curb Global Warming to 1.5°C Threshold: UN Chief

      The world is “facing a climate emergency” and is “not on track” to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Sunday.

      Speaking in Auckland alongside New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, Guterres said, “Climate change is running faster than what we are.”

      Despite clear manifestations of the climate and ecological crises—including record warm temperatures, a million species at risk of extinction, and atmosphere carbon levels at historic highs—global political leadership is not taking action in line with the needed urgency and scope, he said.

      “We are facing a paradox,” said Guterres.

      “We are feeling clearly by what happens on the ground that things are getting worse, even worse than it was forecast,” he added, referencing the recent storms in Mozambique and increasingly frequent droughts.

    • Indigenous Australians File Landmark Human Rights Claim With UN Over Government’s Inaction on Climate Crisis

      In a move that could set a new global precedent for how front-line communities demand ambitious government action on the climate crisis, Torres Strait Islanders submitted a landmark complaint to the United Nations on Monday charging that Australia’s inaction on the crisis violates the indigenous group’s human rights.

    • Global Warming: How Hot, Exactly, Is it Going to Get?

      Imagine spending your whole career working on a question to which you don’t want to know the answer. We know that greenhouse gas emissions can and do warm the planet, but we don’t know one very basic thing: how hot, exactly, is it going to get? The main reason for this, of course, is that human behavior is so hard to predict. How will the people of the late twenty-first century get their energy? Will they need as much as we do, or will they have reconciled themselves to fundamentally different lives?
      Perhaps that decision will have been made for them by war or societal collapse. None of this is knowable. But even if we could remove all the uncertainty associated with politics, economics, technology, and demography, we still wouldn’t be sure. There are many things we don’t understand about our rapidly-warming planet.
      To some extent, we know why we don’t know. I have been sternly informed by communication experts that “global warming” is a better term for what’s happening than “climate change.” I have also been told the opposite. But the two are inseparable: they feed back upon each other. Rising temperatures change the planet, and these changes can speed up or, if we are very lucky, slow down the warming we’ve caused.
      We are not very lucky. Most of these changes will make things worse. The polar ice that we are currently melting is a good example. Right now, it reflects sunlight back to space, cooling the planet like a sunshield on a car windscreen. When it goes, it will leave behind dark land or ocean to absorb rather than reflects the sun. A little bit of warming can become much more.
      To study the effects of these changes, we use something artificial but useful: the concept of climate “sensitivity.” In our climate models, we abruptly double atmospheric carbon dioxide from its preindustrial value of 280 parts per million, let the model Earth evolve for a few hundred years, and then measure the increase in its temperature. In the first generation of climate models, this varied from about a degree and a half Celsius to about four and a half degrees. The best guess was about three degrees C. The next time we did this, having improved the models substantially, the best guess was three degrees C, and the range was between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees. Decades of new science and advances in computing power later, and nothing about these estimates or their uncertainty has substantially changed.

    • Crops at risk from changing climate

      Climate change is leaving crops at risk. Driven by global warming – and with it ever greater extremes of heat, drought and rainfall – the rising mercury can explain up to half of all variations in harvest yields worldwide.

      Unusually cold nights, ever greater numbers of extremely hot summer days, weeks with no rainfall, or torrents of storm-driven precipitation, account for somewhere between a fifth to 49% of yield losses for maize, rice, spring wheat and soy beans.

      And once international scientists had eliminated the effect of temperature averages across the whole growing season, they still found that heatwaves, drought and torrential downfall accounted for 18% to 43% of losses.

      In a second study, US researchers have a warning for the Midwest’s maize farmers: too much rain is just as bad for the harvest as too much heat and a long dry spell.

    • Ecocidal Populism

      We life in the age of rampant right-wing populism. And we also live in an age of a looming ecological genocide – ecocide. Together, they create ecocidal populism. The rise of populism during recent years may not have occurred unconnected to the environmental devastation caused by global warming. Nationalistic populism rose at a time of increased environmental vandalism and the awareness of it in some quarters. Nationalistic right-wing populism is commonly defined bysetting the so-called good peopleagainst a corrupt elite. Right-wing populism depends on what Le Bon saw as the mass. Unlike traditional conservatism’s elitism, nationalistic populism needs the mass as it engineers a massive amount of right-wing voters.

      Since the untimely demise of the last remaining left-wing populist– Hugo Rafael Chávez was buried in March 2015 – the field of populism is exclusively defined by nationalistic right-wing populism. Today, we see the populism of the nationalistic right in people like Donald Trump (Charlottesville Neo-Nazis are fine people), Brazil’s Bolsonaro (you should not only torture opponents, you also need to kill them), the Philippine Duterte (proudly killing drug dealers with his bare hands), Hungary’s Viktor Orbán (George Soros is behind everything), India’s Narendra Modi (Hindu nationalism), Israel’s Bibi (I protect you from an enemy that I have created), Turkey’s Recep Erdoğan, Italy’s Salvini, Austria’s deputy Neo-Nazi Strache, France’s Le Pen, Britain’s NigelFarage (crypto-Neo-Nazi Tommy Robinson, aka: Stephen Yaxley-Lennon is my friend)and Boris Johnson (de Pfeffel), the Netherland’s Wilders, Germany’s Björn Höcke and Gauland, and many more. On current predictions, there are more to come. Virtually all of them follow the propagandistic scripture of Hermann Goering:

      ‘That is all well and good, but voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country’.

      [...]

      Under corporate short-termism, the goal is still making money until the last moment. In reality however, avoiding the looming abyss means fundamental change and most likely the end of capitalism. Fundamental change might indicate the end of the current system or at least some very serious changes. Whatever these changes might look like, it does not look good for profit-making corporations. Yet unless very serious changes are being made, the earth faces extremely serious consequences.

      [...]

      All of this came not totally unconnected to capital’s second most existential threat and the rise of nationalistic populism. It is no accident that the rise of nationalistic populism that we have seen during recent times came when – despite the best lobbying efforts of media corporations and fossil fuel corporations – an increasing number of people have become aware of what we are facing. The first wave of nationalistic populism that defended an unsustainable system called capitalism from a rising working class has cost the world roughly 50 to 60 million people. Given what we are facing with the second existential threat, we might get away with 500 to 600 million deaths – and that means we will have gotten off lightly.

      Sadly but true, what has been said above explains the recent rise of nationalistic populism. It is capitalism’s global effort to take our attention away from the impending environmental annihilation caused by capitalism. That we see the global rise of nationalistic populism right now is a sure sign of the seriousness of what capital has understood is coming. The inevitable conclusion is nationalistic populism will continue to grow. And it will increase in ferocity. It may even end in a similar way to the first wave, outright Fascism. Given the recent history of capitalism, one should never totally discount such a possibility. This is not to argue that 2019 is 1933. It is not. What is coming will be worse. The looming fight will be worse and even if we win, the outcome will be horrendous.

    • The Mysterious “Sabotage” of Saudi Oil Tankers: a Dangerous Moment in Trump’s Escalating Conflict With Iran

      Saudi Arabia’s claim that two of its oil tankers have been sabotaged off the coast of the UAE is vague in detail – but could create a crisis that spins out of control and into military action.

      Any attack on shipping in or close to the Strait of Hormuz, the 30-mile wide channel at the entrance to the Gulf, is always serious because it is the most important choke point for the international oil trade.

      A significant armed action by the US or its allies against Iran would likely provoke Iranian retaliation in the Gulf and elsewhere in the region. Although the US is militarily superior to Iran by a wide margin, the Iranians as a last resort could fire rockets or otherwise attack Saudi and UAE oil facilities. Such apocalyptic events are unlikely – but powerful figures in Washington, such as the national security adviser John Bolton and secretary of state Mike Pompeo, appear prepared to take the risk of a war breaking out.

      Bolton has long publicly demanded the overthrow of the Iranian government. “The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” he said last year before taking office.

  • Finance

    • Why Outlawing Cryptocurrency Purchases is a Terrible Idea

      A member of the U.S. House of Representatives last week called for a bill outlawing Americans from making cryptocurrency purchases, aligning with anti-cryptocurrency policies in countries such as Iran and Egypt. There is no language for this potential bill or any explanation of whether such a bill would ban Americans from buying cryptocurrencies, using cryptocurrencies to make other purchases, or both. Nonetheless, it’s a good moment to remind everyone why a bill outlawing cryptocurrencies is a terrible idea.

      Attempts to ban cryptocurrencies are often rooted in fundamental misunderstandings. One common refrain is that criminals use cryptocurrencies to facilitate illegal activity, and thus we should ban cryptocurrencies to hamper that illegal activity. This is wrong for several reasons: first, it ignores the many entirely legal uses for cryptocurrencies that already exist and that will continue to develop in the future. Cryptocurrencies have been used for a decade to store and transfer value with near-zero transaction costs and no need for intermediaries like banks. As more applications make holding and exchanging cryptocurrencies easier, everyday consumers are using cryptocurrency regularly for innocuous activities like buying furniture on Overstock.com and sending money to family members overseas. And innovation related to cryptocurrency technology is giving rise to more use cases: for example, some cryptocurrencies enable programmers to write computer programs (so-called “smart contracts”) that automatically transfer cryptocurrency to others upon certain conditions being met. These are just a few examples of the many potential uses of this technology that a ban on cryptocurrency would undermine.

      The fact that a technology could be used to violate the law does not mean we should ban it. Notably, criminals have long used cash—which, like some cryptocurrencies, allows for greater anonymity—to aid in committing crimes. But we don’t call for a ban on cash as a result, and we don’t blame Ford when one of its cars is used as a getaway vehicle in a bank robbery. Nor would such a law likely stop criminals from using cryptocurrency, since criminals are, by definition, more willing to violate existing laws. Ultimately, banning cryptocurrencies would rob Americans of opportunities to access potentially significant technologies, and have no real impact on criminals abusing these tools.

    • Supreme Court Says iPhone Users Can Pursue Antitrust Claims Against Apple Over App Store

      Earlier today, the Supreme Court ruled (mostly as expected, though with some caveats) in Apple v. Pepper, a case concerning whether or not iPhone users could sue Apple for antitrust concerning how it controls pricing in the iOS App Store. Most of the news on this focuses either on how this could have a big impact on Apple and other marketplaces, or on how this case (somewhat oddly) split between the two Justices appointed by President Trump, with Justice Kavanaugh writing the majority opinion (joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor) and the dissent written by Justice Gorsuch (joined by Justices Roberts, Thomas and Alito).

      It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but my first impression is that this case may not prove to be that big of a deal long term. It is not saying anything, really, concerning whether or not Apple’s practices are an antitrust violation. It is merely letting a case go forward. And, to some extent, I think that Justice Gorsuch may be correct that all that this case will end up doing in the long run is getting Apple and other platforms to change their contracts in terms of how the money flow officially goes.

    • Denouncing DeVos, Warren Vows to Appoint Education Secretary With ‘Real Teaching Experience,’ Not Conflicts of Interest

      In her latest pledge to lead an administration that would fight for working Americans, Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday announced that she would only consider former public school teachers to be her education secretary should she be elected president in 2020.

      An official who would be able to identify with the thousands of teachers who have rallied at state capitols across the country over the past year, the Massachusetts Democrat argued, would fight for far better policies than those that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed.

      “Let’s get a person with real teaching experience,” Warren wrote in an email to supporters. “A person who understands how low pay, tattered textbooks, and crumbling classrooms hurt students and educators. A person who understands the crushing burden of student debt on students and young professionals and who is committed to actually doing something about it.”

      Warren directly attacked DeVos in the email and in a video she posted to social media.

    • Louisiana’s Million-Dollar Charter School Scam

      Since 2007, Carlie Care Kids has run a child care out of a couple of nondescript converted townhouses in Terrytown, Louisiana. Now it’s gearing up for a big switch: This fall it will become an elementary school for up to 39 kindergarteners and first graders.

      It will be done with the help of taxpayers. The school even advertises itself to parents as “free kindergarten.” Yet, like they do for dozens other private schools in Louisiana, state education officials asked Carlie Care to do very little to become eligible to take students paying with public vouchers.

      Its owners basically had to fill a 16-page document with straightforward questions, many satisfied with yes/no answers. By contrast, when Arise Academy in New Orleans recently applied to become a charter school, it had to prepare a 174-page packet with questions about financial soundness, curriculum and teacher’s qualifications that demanded encyclopedic answers.

      The discrepancy is by design. While public schools must meet rigorous standards and charters must face serious state scrutiny before being approved, the dozens of private schools in the Louisiana Scholarship Program faced barely a review from education officials in order to get public money, according to an investigation by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, WVUE Fox 8 News, WWNO and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

      Voucher-program schools and charters both offer the same promise: They give parents a publicly funded education, outside of the traditional public school system.

      The lack of scrutiny for private voucher schools is one of the reasons for problems with the scholarship program, according to Andre Perry, a Brookings Institution fellow who holds a doctorate in education policy and leadership and formerly led the University of New Orleans Charter School Network.

    • Trump’s mysterious casino tweet: He’s using racism to cover up his corruption

      For a while, a popular assessment of Donald Trump’s wild, early-morning rants and attacks on Twitter was that they served as a strategic distraction from even more sinister and potentially damaging goings-on. Eventually, however, political pundits accustomed to norms and decorum came to accept that while Trump may be a brilliant marketer, he is also just a stubborn old man whose worst habits can’t be tamed.

      Twitter, for Trump, is an effective medium to continue controlling media coverage — or to complain about “Fox & Friends” — from the comfort of his bed. Unlike during the presidential campaign, during his presidency, Trump’s Twitter feed has more often served as an outlet for daily narrative-setting than as a tool of distraction. Occasionally, however, some of the president’s tweets do indeed seem as if they were meant to cover up something more serious.

    • The So-Called “Middle Ground” and the Tyranny of Capitalism

      You read a lot these days about polls telling us why—gasp—socialist could never win the presidency, about how “radical” progressives will make it impossible for Democrats to take the Senate, or pretty much accomplish anything else.

      There are two things wrong with this. First, it’s simply not true. Polls clearly show that—at least on an issue-by-issue basis—people are overwhelmingly progressive. Second, it essentially freezes in place a de facto coup perpetrated by extremist free marketeers who accomplished it by decades’ worth of propaganda designed to move the nation to the right of center and keep it there.

      And it succeeded. Today’s Republican Party is a cult of know-nothings, xenophobes, racists, anti-vaxers, climate deniers and all-around anti-Enlightenment, anti-Jesus Christians, with a few true conservatives left to hang onto the crumbling edifice of a once rational political philosophy – or at least one that accurately reflected the rational self-interest of corporations and the uber-rich.

      Meanwhile, today’s Democratic Party is well to the right of where Republicans used to be in the first half of the 20th Century.

    • The Cost of Trump’s Trade War (and a Better Alternative)

      We are now in a trade war with the second-largest economy on Earth.

      On Monday, China said it would raise tariffs to 20 or 25 percent on some $60 billion of American goods – already being taxed at 10 percent, in retaliation for Trump’s previous tariffs on Chinese goods.

      China’s move came after Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 percent on Friday.

    • Escalating U.S.-China Trade War Sends Stocks Plunging

      U.S. stocks moved sharply lower Monday on Wall Street and extended the market’s slide into a second week as investors seek shelter from an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China.

      The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 index each fell more than 2% as investors sold trade-sensitive shares. Chipmakers led the big declines in technology while heavy equipment makers Deere and Caterpillar drove losses in the industrial sector.

      The world’s largest economies had seemed on track to resolve the ongoing trade dispute that has raised prices for consumers and pinched corporate profit margins. Investor confidence that the two sides were close to a resolution had helped push the market to its best yearly start in decades.

      Those hopes are now being dashed and replaced by concerns that the trade war could crimp what is otherwise a mostly healthy economy. Analysts have warned that failed trade talks and the deterioration in relations will put a dent in the U.S. and China’s economic prospects.

    • Uber Drivers Strike As Execs Make Millions Off IPO

      With the ring of a bell, controversial former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick became a billionaire on Friday when the ridesharing company made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange. But while Uber execs former and current cashed in on the IPO, the drivers that actually build the company’s wealth won’t see nearly that kind of payout.

      “On a bad day — and there’s too many of those bad days — you make less than minimum wage after expenses,” says Vincent Suen, a rideshare driver based in Los Angeles. That’s why Suen — along with drivers around the world — went on strike ahead of the public offering to show who actually generates Uber’s wealth.

      Suen is a member of Los Angeles Rideshare Drivers United, one of the labor groups behind the strike. Members of the organization, along with other California-based drivers, previously went on strike in March in protest of a change in Uber’s pay structure that effectively meant wage cuts for workers.

      Pay cuts are all the loathsome given how the company has recruited its drivers — a model Lenny Sanchez, a rideshare driver and co-founder of Chicago Rideshare Advocates, calls predatory. Among the company’s misdeeds was a controversial subprime car loan program, which garnered comparisons to indentured servitude. Sanchez says he’s seen Uber “targeting low-income minority neighborhoods — people who specifically do not have credit, do not have co-signers, do not have a job, do not have a car, but people that are about as desperate as can be,” Sanchez says. “They’re just in a deep hole. So Uber and Lyft present the solution to these people.”

    • Burgeoning Numbers of Cubans Trying to Enter U.S. via Mexico

      Burgeoning numbers of Cubans are trying to get into the U.S. by way of the Mexican border, creating a big backlog of people waiting on the Mexican side for months for their chance to apply for asylum.

      The surge over the past several months has been propelled in part by loosened travel restrictions in Central America and deteriorating living conditions in Cuba.

      As a result, about 4,500 asylum seekers, the vast majority of them Cuban, have descended on Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas — an influx that has raised tensions with some locals.

      “It’s a bottleneck with an opening that is getting smaller,” said Enrique Valenzuela, an official of Mexico’s Chihuahua state, which manages Juarez’s waiting list. “People keep coming.”

      For decades during the Cold War and beyond, Cubans tried to reach the U.S. by air, land and sea, many of them crossing the 90 miles to Florida in dangerously rickety boats and rafts.

    • The “We’re Overstating Inflation!” Story is Back!!!!!!!!”

      The Wall Street Journal’s opinion page has never been a place where reality is a binding constraint. Andy Kessler demonstrates this fact in a column that tells us that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) overstates the true rate of inflation by at least 2.0 percentage points annually and possibly as much as 5.0 percentage points.

      The immediate basis for this observation is an interview Alan Greenspan gave in which he said:

      “Because products are continuously changing, ….. when new products go on the market, they come in at relatively high prices. Henry Ford’s Model T came in at a very high price, and the price went down as technology improved. You didn’t start to pick up the price level until well into that declining phase.”

      “So there is a bias in the statistic. You’re getting statistics which are not correct. … If you had a 2% inflation rate as currently measured, it’s the equivalent of zero for actually what consumers are buying.”

    • Will Higher Pay for Uber Drivers Increase Productivity Growth?

      That’s what Sarah Jeong says in a New York Times column. The piece argues that if Uber drivers got a living wage then Uber would just turn to using driverless cars.

      It is an interesting possibility. The argument is that higher pay is a major driver of productivity growth, as it forces companies to use workers more efficiently and to invest in labor saving equipment. Many progressive economists have long made this argument, although it is rejected within the mainstream of the economics profession.

      It is possible that we are seeing some evidence of this story in recent productivity data, which show productivity had risen 2.4 percent over the last year. While this is still far below the 3.0 percent growth rate of the long Golden Age from 1947 to 1973 (and again from 1995 to 2005), it is a big improvement over the 1.3 percent rate from 2005 to 2017.

    • Why We Need a Wealth Tax

      The crisis of income inequality in America is well-known, but there is another economic crisis developing much faster and with worse consequences. I’m talking about inequality of wealth.

      The wealth gap is now staggering. In the 1970s, the wealthiest tenth of Americans owned about a third of the nation’s total household wealth. Now, the wealthiest 10 percent owns about 75 percent of total household wealth.

      America’s richest one-tenth of one percentnow owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

      Wealth isn’t like income. Income is payment for work. Wealth keeps growing automatically and exponentially because it’s parked in investments that generate even more wealth.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Danish politician takes out election ad on Pornhub

      “I know that some people will be aghast. You can’t say anything today without some people getting upset. I don’t take it very seriously. Those who know me as a politician know that I am serious, but I have a sense of humour and think this is a good laugh,” he concluded.

    • Fact Check: Misleading picture of cow deaths goes viral again on social media

      India Today Anti fake News War Room (AFWA) found that this is a misleading claim. Though there are news reports of cows’ death in several cow shelters in Rajasthan, this particular viral image is not from Rajasthan but from Kenya, East Africa.

    • Facebook and Google Must Be Regulated Now

      While banks are too big to fail, tech giants are too big to manage. Facebook has accumulated over 2 billion users on its main platform, and also owns Instagram and Whatsapp. It is far too large to operate with any sensible degree of competent oversight.

      [...]

      The most immediate need for reforms cover three areas: 1) user privacy and control over data; 2) the role of Facebook and Google as media companies; 3) their economic and political power as monopolies.

    • Bipartisan groups call on Congress to reinstate the Office of Technology Assessment, which Gingrich killed in 1995

      As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has pointed out, lawmakers are shockingly ill-informed on the issues that they vote upon, largely because they pay sub-starvation wages to their staffers, requiring each to take on second and third jobs, leaving them without the time to research and prepare lawmakers ahead of key hearings and debates.

      This vacuum has (of course) largely been filled by industry lobbyists who brief lawmakers with stilted accounts of the world (though AOC’s answer, paying a living wage to every staffer, is obviously superior). Re-established the OTA would go a long way to filling in some of the gaps with neutral facts instead of parochial propaganda, and at $6m/year, it’s a fucking steal.

    • Arundhati Roy on the Indian Election and Narendra Modi’s “Far-Right, Hindu Nationalist” Agenda
    • If Classrooms Are “Free of Politics,” the Right Wing Will Grow

      A disconcerting number of academics and teachers in the current moment continue to join forces with right-wing politicians and conservative government agencies to argue that classrooms should be free of politics. Their shared conclusion? That schools should be spaces where matters of power, values and social justice should not be addressed.

      The scornful accusation in this case is that teachers who believe in civic education indoctrinate their students. Those who make this accusation suggest that it’s possible to exist in an ideologically pure and politically neutral world where pedagogy can be merely a banal transmission of facts in which nothing controversial is stated and teachers are forbidden to utter one word related to any of the major problems facing society more broadly.

      Of course, this view of teaching is as much a flight from reality as it is an instance of irresponsible pedagogy. In contrast, one useful approach to embracing the classroom as a political site while rejecting any form of indoctrination is for educators to think through the distinction between a politicizing pedagogy, which insists wrongly that students think exactly as we do as educators, and a political pedagogy, which teaches students through dialogue about the importance of power, social responsibility and taking a stand (without standing still). Political pedagogy, unlike a dogmatic or indoctrinating pedagogy, embodies the principles of critical pedagogy through rigorously engaging the full range of ideas about an issue within a framework that enables students to move from moral purpose to purposeful action in pursuit of a democratic polis.

    • Why the South Needs a Poor People’s Moral Action Congress

      Poor people across the nation will bring their demands to the nation’s capital next month at the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress, a gathering organized by the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival.

      In recent months, organizers with the campaign have led Truth & Poverty Bus Tours through nearly 30 states nationwide, including nearly every Southern state, to shine light on the impact of public policies on poor people. The tours have informed the campaign’s demands and helped it draw up what’s being called a “Moral and Constitutional Budget” that will seek to end poverty in America instead of proliferating it.

      I had the opportunity to participate in last week’s North Carolina Truth & Poverty Bus Tour as an executive committee member of the state’s Poor People’s Campaign* and as a researcher concerned with the connection between public policy and poverty. It’s one thing to read that in my home state nearly 9,000 people are homeless and nearly half of the state’s residents don’t make a livable wage, but it is quite another to hear people’s stories firsthand.

      The tour started in the Western North Carolina mountain community of Asheville. There we met members of the Beloved Community, which is likely the first group in the country to start a street medic team comprised of homeless and formerly homeless people. Their work underscores the fact that, in a state which has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, thousands of people lack access to health care, and it is often left up to community members to try to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

    • Facts Don’t Care About Ben Shapiro’s Feelings

      COMMENTS
      Last week, Ben Shapiro, the conservative commentator whom The New York Times once dubbed “the cool kid’s philosopher,” went on the BBC to promote his new book, “The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great.” There, he faced off against Andrew Neil, a ruddy, prehistoric Scottish Tory and former Rupert Murdoch protégé. The segment quickly went viral.

      Neil isn’t a cagey interviewer or a particularly incisive one, but whereas the American conservative tendency is toward mawkish, self-pitying grievance, the British conservative mode tends to relentlessly condescending hostility. American popular media has no such characters; some of its conservative figures—a Tucker Carlson, say—can be hectoring, but they lack the fetish for cringing awkwardness that the British seem to love so much, and in any case, they are professionally committed to providing a friendly forum for the Ben Shapiros of the world.

      Neil asked a few broadly challenging, although not especially pointed, questions. He did not ask his subject to explain the irony of his book’s hyperbolic title: Shapiro has at least twice disavowed the very notion of a “right side of history,” which he called “the most morally idiotic phrase of modern times.”

    • To Force ‘Congress to Do Its Job,’ Capitol Hill Sit-In to Demand Immediate Impeachment Inquiry for Trump

      Members of the U.S. public from all over the country are planning a major sit-in on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to demand that Congress begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

      Organizers with the grassroots group By the People will risk arrest by assembling in the nation’s capitol, hoping not only to convince lawmakers that many Americans want the president to be impeached, but also to ask the public to join the call.

    • Cozy Visit With Far-Right Autocrat Denounced as Trump Praises “Tremendous Job” of Hungary’s Viktor Orban

      President Donald Trump welcomed far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the White House Monday, drawing outrage from progressive quarters.

      “By meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán today,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), “Donald Trump is giving tacit approval for his racist, misogynist, ‘soft fascism.’”

      Orbán, as the New York Times reported, “was, in July 2016, the first foreign leader to endorse Mr. Trump’s candidacy for the presidency,” and is “a doyen of right-wing nationalists on multiple continents.”

      He’s also “rolled back democratic checks on his power, mused about creating a European ethnostate, and erected a razor-wire fence to keep migrants out,”as CNN noted.

    • Trump Tries to Bring Hungary’s Orban in From the Cold

      George W. Bush dodged it. Barack Obama refused it. But on Monday President Trump will grant Viktor Orban, Hungary’s far-right prime minister, his first private audience with a president at the White House since he met Bill Clinton there in 1998.

      Back then, Mr. Orban was a young centrist who praised Mr. Clinton for helping Hungary to escape Russian influence by joining NATO, but today he is a doyen of right-wing nationalists on multiple continents. He has enfeebled democratic institutions, strived to achieve a Hungarian ethnic homogeneity and pulled his nation closer to the opponents of American influence, Russia and China.

    • Trump welcomes Hungary’s far-right nationalist prime minister after past presidents shunned him

      He’s rolled back democratic checks on his power, mused about creating a European ethnostate and erected a razor-wire fence to keep migrants out, angering the rest of the European Union.

      So why was Hungary’s far-right prime minister Viktor Orbán meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Monday?
      “I know he’s a tough man but he’s a respected man,” Trump said during a friendly photo-op at the start of the talks on Monday. “Probably, like me, a little bit controversial, but that’s OK. That’s OK.”
      Administration officials say the invitation to the White House for talks — the first for a Hungarian prime minister in years — is part of a concerted strategy to re-engage Central European nations as Russia and China seek to exert influence in the region.

    • The Curse of Donald Trump

      I know that everyone’s talking about the final episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones and some are comparing our current woes to the battle for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms.

      Hell, even our hopeless tinpot dictator of a president has tweeted GoT memes and in his cabinet room admired a poster of himself that promoted the economic punishment of Iran, announcing “Sanctions Are Coming.” Apparently, Trump didn’t care that to normal people the Game of Thrones phrase from whence it came, “Winter Is Coming,” is about a cold and bitter threat to all of civilization’s survival. It was a picture of him and that’s all that mattered. HBO and series cast members have let their displeasure be known.

      But I keep thinking instead about another fantasy tale, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and the decades-long spell cast over good King Theodon of Rohan – the evil magic that clouds his judgment until the spell is broken by Gandalf the wizard and Theodon becomes a hero again.

    • So-Called “News Division” at Fox Has Not Had One Misinformation-Free Day So Far This Year: Study

      A new report released Monday from Media Matters For America found that not a single day went by in the first four months of 2019 when the “hard news” arm of Fox News didn’t lie to its audience.

      Fox has long assured viewers and advertisers that the network’s news and opinion wings are fundamentally different. But, as Media Matters president Angelo Carusone explained in a statement, that isn’t really based in facts.

      “Fox News likes to tout the ‘hard news’ side of its operation, setting up a false distinction between its right-wing prime-time hosts and its news anchors,” said Carusone. “The network pushes this fictional division as a defense against those who flag the propaganda, lies, conspiracy theories, and bigotry pervading the network.”

      Rather, as Carusone’s team found, the channel’s news nachors spread the same misinformation as its more opinionated primetime hosts—people like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson.

    • Social Media Footprints and Electioneering in Australia

      It has been an uninspiring election, punctuated by occasional moments of madness on the part of various candidates. Their sin was to be incautious in their previous use of social media, a form of communication that reveals everything and nothing about a person. In a political sense, the erring tweet and the injudicious remark on an online forum have laid waste to incipient political careers and ambitions.

      This is a far cry from the supposedly mighty role the use of social media was meant to have in participatory politics. Now, the chickens have come home to roost in various unexpected ways. Social media outlets are condemned for being platforms for misinformation and manipulation (the horror!) and tech giants are given daily tongue lashings by politicians and representatives for not being online Bobbies.

      Paradoxically, these are the same critics who have been more than happy to embrace such media to access voters at virtually no cost. As President Donald J. Trump once explained on his use of Twitter, “I like it because I can get my point of view out there, and my point of view is very important to a lot of people that are looking at me.” Various surges in the polls by presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders in 2016 were occasioned by a conspicuous and aggressive presence on social media relative to his rival, Hillary Clinton. In Britain, the rise of Jeremy Corbyn to the position of Labour leader was very much boosted by a dedicated social media following.

      Social media in this Australian federal election has done quite the opposite: rather than advancing profiles and improving visibility for the candidate, mistakes have been noted, and previous misbehaviour drawn out as grave errors of judgment. Bad speech has been picked up and prosecuted by the machine men and women of various parties. Resignations have been encouraged, and, in some cases, forced.

      This instances have provided marvellous distractions from policy, fitting for those who do not have any. “The offensive remarks,” noted The New York Times, “have forced at least six candidates for Parliament to quit, while many more linger like zombies – most of them from the conservative governing coalition and other parties on the right.”

    • House GOP Focusing on Women, Minorities for 2020 Challengers

      Top Republicans are hunting district-by-district for just the right candidates — women and minorities in many cases — to help them recapture the House six months after a political tidal wave swept Democrats into control of the most diverse majority in history.

      Among the recruits are a Republican woman in the Oklahoma state Senate and a black political novice from Houston with Iraq combat experience and three Ivy League degrees on his resume. They are part of the GOP drive to gain at least 18 seats in the 2020 elections to win the majority — historically a tall order for the party out of power in presidential election years.

      Finding women and minority candidates is an imperative for an overwhelmingly white GOP openly embarrassed that just 13 of its 197 House members are women. By contrast, 89 of the 235 House Democrats are women and nearly 90 are black or Hispanic.

      But Republicans want challengers with other qualities too, following a 2018 election that saw the GOP lose 31 districts that President Donald Trump had won just two years earlier, many in moderate suburbs.

    • The New Kid on the Nationalist Block: Thierry Baudet

      In the media, both local and international, this new kid is called a “political dandy,” a “flamboyant populist,” “not your typical populist,” “the naked populist,” “the far right’s rising star,” “a new face,” and the “Dutch far right’s new figurehead.” He is sure of himself, exposing his intellectual rather than physical muscles (though certain naked poolside Instagram photos are in circulation). He likes to smile at the cameras and everybody around him. He plays piano (often Brahms), enjoys chess, believes himself likable and believes his country to be right (as “right” as he is).

      Born in 1983, Thierry Henri Philippe Baudet is a Dutch politician, the founder (in 2016) and the current political leader of the right wing party Forum for Democracy (Forum voor Democratie, FvD). His party intends, among other things, to introduce a high tax-free bracket for everyone, abolish taxes on gifts and inheritance, introduce drastic changes in elementary and secondary education, expand the armed forces, and privatize the Dutch public broadcasting organization. The party promises direct democracy through binding referenda, as well as directly elected mayors and prime Minister. It also favors a government of apolitical experts, with top civil servants required to reapply for their positions when a new cabinet is formed.

      Apart from that, FvD strongly opposes the European Union and has called for a referendum on Dutch EU withdrawal. According to its nationalist viewpoint, Dutch culture should be protected and border controls reinstated to prevent what it perceives as mass, unchecked immigration. To that end, the party wants to introduce a “Dutch Values Protection Act” and ban Islamic face veils and other face coverings.

    • 6 Reasons Why the Labor Movement May Be Doomed

      A self-described “McGovern Democrat” (“Fay”) told me that, after a lifetime of supporting organized labor, she could no longer do so because, in her own stunning words, “unions have become too powerful.” A UCLA honors grad and longtime political activist (she marched with Cesar Chavez), Fay is probably the most traditional “left-wing” person I’ve ever personally known.

      She dropped this bombshell on me despite the fact (1) that labor is clearly outmanned, outgunned, and outflanked by management, (2) that private sector union density is barely 6.3 percent, (3) that the middle-class, which was “invented” by organized labor, is shrinking faster than the glaciers, (4) that thanks to some bad press and insidious propaganda, organized labor hasn’t been this unpopular since before the 1935 Wagner Act, and (5) that without some form of institutional resistance, businesses can be depended upon to run wild on the working class. My initial thought? If we lose the support of people like Fay, where does that leave us?

      On the other hand, there’s no denying that the labor movement has, for want of a better term, “stalled out.” Or as Susan Sontag succinctly (albeit unfairly) put it years ago, “The American labor movement rotted before it ever ripened.” Ouch.

      While there still seems to be a genuine—if weirdly idealized and unfocused—“pro-worker” sentiment in the country, there’s precious little codified social/political activism to go along with it. And in this era of well-crafted disinformation and Wall Street hegemony, evidence of an accompanying codified political activism isn’t simply a luxury. It’s a necessity.

      Listed in no particular order are six factors that have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the general decline of the American labor movement.

    • Haunted House: the Legacy of Residential Schools for Aboriginal Children

      “We are standing on the grounds of what once was Carcross Residential School (also known as Choutla Residential School). Here, concrete stairs that lead nowhere. There, a truck with the windows busted out. Beyond are some scattered buildings, sagging and decrepit. The site where the actual school stood is empty, save for trash and broken glass. There is heaviness here, and deep sadness. I have brought tobacco with me, but it doesn’t feel right to offer it to the ground. The space is empty, and not in a triumphant way. Not like a racist monument falling, not like a wall that divides being apart stone by stone. Empty like lungs after a desperate sigh. Empty like my hands. Empty like my mouth, with no words to offer into this space.”

      A member of the Tlingit Kwanlin Dun First Nation in Whitehorse, Yukon, Anne Spice tells the poignant and disturbing story of her mother, who testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), telling of her father’s suffering and demons that ransacked his tormented mind. “We watched our father—we watched our father be destroyed from the inside out. And that was his sacrifice to us, so that we could have a ‘normal’ -a normal life.”

      Spice tells us that her mother’s testimony accomplishes three things. First, she breaks the silence, releasing words into the formerly empty space. Second, she “reframes silence as both an enactment of suffering and an act of agency.” Her grandfather held his suffering tight to the ribs and it ripped him apart from the inside out. Spice, ever so tenderly, points out that her mother named his suffering as an act of sacrifice. “Silence is clearly not a simple or passive symptom of trauma, here. It is a powerful tool that both harms and contains. Third, Spice affirms that her mother’s testimony to the TRC “illuminates the inability of the TRC to account for those who did not survive by powerfully evoking my grandfather’s presence, by telling his story even though we do not know exactly what happened.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Report: China now blocks Wikipedia in all languages

      China is blocking Wikipedia in every language, reports the Tor Project, expanding its censorship to cover editions other than Chinese.

    • China is now blocking all language editions of Wikipedia

      OONI measurements show that many of these Wikipedia domains were previously accessible, but all measurements collected from 25th April 2019 onwards present the same DNS anomalies for all Wikipedia sub-domains. The few DNS anomalies that occurred in previous months were false positives, whereas the DNS anomalies from April 2019 onwards show that Wikipedia domains are blocked by means of DNS injection. Most measurements were collected from China Telecom (AS4134).

      Since OONI measurements collected from China suggest blocking by means of DNS injection, we can further measure the DNS-based blocking from outside of China as well. To this end, we ran the OONI Probe DNS injection test from a vantage point outside of the country, pointing towards an IP address in China.

    • Miami Plastic Surgeon Sues Two Patients For Negative Reviews After He Had Them Sign Illegal Non Disparagement Agreements

      What is it with plastic surgeons suing their former customers over negative reviews? We’ve written stories with that basic plotline over and over and over again. The latest involves Miami-based plastic surgeon Dr. Leonard Hochstein, who the article lets us know, has appeared on “The Real Housewives of Miami.” Except, now he’s getting attention for suing two of his former clients who left negative reviews online. Even though there’s now a law, the Consumer Review Fairness Act, that bars anyone from forcing customers to sign a non-disparagement clause, Hochstein did so anyway. He insists he only recently became aware of that law. But he won’t stop suing those customers.

      [...]

      Unfortunately, despite “obtaining” those legal documents, The Blast didn’t actually post them, so we have to rely on what they claim. Similarly, the NBC article above doesn’t link to the actual court records, and a quick search of the Miami Dade court records online finds other unrelated lawsuits involving a Dr. Leonard Hochstein, but not the cases discussed here. So perhaps there are more details here, but doctors suing patients over reviews is never a good look — especially after having them sign a non-disparagement clause. Asking to lock up patients for their reviews is even worse. And since Hochstein claims he was unaware of the Consumer Review Fairness Act, he might also be unaware of Florida’s anti-SLAPP law. He might want to familiarize himself with it, because it certainly seems like he might run into some issues with that law as well.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • San Francisco Poised to Make History With Law Banning Use of Facial Recognition Technology

      Civil liberties advocates on Monday eagerly awaited the results of a vote by San Francisco officials on the city’s use of facial recognition technology—hoping the city’s Board of Supervisors would vote to ban the surveillance tool.

      The board is set to vote Tuesday on the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance, a law that advocates say would make history and potentially encourage other cities to ban the use of facial recognition technology, which is being used increasingly by police and private companies.

      Since San Francisco is the “most technologically advanced city in our country,” privacy expert Alvaro Bedoya told the Associated Press, the city’s rejection of cameras which can capture anyone’s image for use by the police or city agencies could send a strong message to other government officials.

    • Public Safety, Civil Rights Groups Battle Over Face ID Tech

      San Francisco is on track to become the first U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition by police and other city agencies, reflecting a growing backlash against a technology that’s creeping into airports, motor vehicle departments, stores, stadiums and home security cameras.

      Government agencies around the U.S. have used the technology for more than a decade to scan databases for suspects and prevent identity fraud.

      But recent advances in artificial intelligence have created more sophisticated computer vision tools, making it easier for police to pinpoint a missing child or protester in a moving crowd or for retailers to analyze shoppers’ facial expressions as they peruse store shelves.

    • Is Facebook Betting Big on Brexit?

      Facebook has chosen London as the center to expand the operations of its WhatsApp messaging service, as the company seeks to establish new methods of monetizing its operations, especially as existing revenue sources increasingly come under political and regulatory attack. The timing of the announcement is as interesting as the choice of venue. Perhaps Facebook is taking a view on the likely outcome of the longstanding Brexit divorce between the UK and European Union, as well as pointing to the kind of economy to which Britain will evolve once the separation is finalized. If the latter points to a country that may become known as a “European Singapore,” effectively embracing a widespread form of regulatory arbitrage, what does that mean for other sectors, notably financial services?

      Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Facebook has been under sustained attack. That the company has not yet encountered a direct legislative/regulatory threat to its overall business model stems largely from the fact that there has been no overriding consensus as to how best to deal with it. Certainly, in hearings with the Facebook CEO last year, Congress displayed complete cluelessness in terms of understanding the main business, let alone having any concept of constructing adequate regulation for the company.

    • Facebook’s ‘Please Regulate Us’ Tour Heads To France

      On Friday, Mark Zuckerberg went to France, just in time for the French government to release a vague and broad proposal to regulate social media networks. Similar to Zuckerberg’s pleas to Congress to ramp up its regulation of the company (and because he knows that any pushback on regulations will likely be slammed by the world of Facebook-haters), Zuckerberg tried to embrace the plans.

    • All Four Major Wireless Carriers Hit With Lawsuits Over Sharing, Selling Location Data

      We’ve noted repeatedly that if you’re upset about Facebook’s privacy scandals, you should be equally concerned about the wireless industry’s ongoing location data scandals. Not only were the major carriers caught selling your location data to any nitwit with a checkbook, they were even found to be selling your E-911 location data, which provides even more granular detail about your data than GPS provides. This data was then found to have been widely abused from everybody from law enforcement to randos pretending to be law enforcement.

      Throughout all this, the Ajit Pai FCC has done absolutely nothing to seriously police the problem. Meaning that while carriers have promised to stop collecting and selling this data, nobody has bothered to force carriers to actually confirm this. Given telecom’s history when it comes to consumer privacy, somebody might just want to double check their math (and ask what happened to all that data already collected and sold over the last decade).

    • Facebook sues app maker, says it made millions misusing Facebook user data

      The lawsuit has fueled speculation that Facebook is dealing with another problem similar to Cambridge Analytica, in which up to 87 million users’ information was improperly shared with a political consulting firm that did work for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The Cambridge Analytica scandal triggered a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Facebook that could result in Facebook paying a multibillion-dollar fine.

    • Botched software update breaks Dutch police ankle monitors

      The worst thing is this isn’t even the first time this has happened in the last 12 months. Back in August, a mobile telecom outage took out the system for a day, leaving 450 suspects without tracking.

    • US court throws out lawyer’s FaceTime eavesdropping lawsuit against Apple

      The glitch (below), first outed in January, allowed anyone to call an iPhone or Mac and listen in before the other person picks up by exploiting a bug Apple’s Group FaceTime feature.

    • Why Uber Is Fighting Cities Over Data on Scooter Trips

      Cities like LA want to master the mayhem. They want to keep streets safe for everyone, and traffic at bay. They want to fight pollution and climate change. They want to know where to spend money on infrastructure and where they can skimp. They want to ensure that companies allowed to use public streets and sidewalks make products available to as many residents as possible, regardless of income or color or community. And they want to ensure that the companies they’ve permitted to operate on their streets are following the rules.

      All of that requires data. And Los Angeles officials think they’ve found an unlikely place to begin collecting it: scooters. Scooters use public sidewalks, so they require permits from municipal officials. Data on where those scooters are parked, and where they travel each day, could help officials plan for the future. Over time, the data also could provide the foundation for an app offering residents real-time info about their favorite transit modes. Bike? Scooter? Jet pack? An air traffic control of the ground.

      But LA’s strategy for getting that data is making privacy advocates—and companies like Uber and Lyft, which operate both scooter and ride-hail services in the city—nervous. [...]

    • Encryption law: Labor says no repeal, but promises ‘urgent’ amendments

      The Australian Labor Party has ruled out repealing the encryption law that was passed last year if it is elected, but says it will speedily incorporate the 170-odd amendments that were drafted, but not included in the law.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • I’ve Been to Guantanamo. It’s No Place for Kids.

      The Administration’s proposal of sending immigrant children to Guantanamo Bay is dangerous and inhumane.
      Over the last year, the country has been shocked by reports of the inhumane treatment of children and families in immigrant detention. Now, the Trump administration appears to be increasing the scope and severity of its immigrant detention scheme by potentially detaining immigrants at Guantanamo Bay.

      News broke last week that the Defense Department awarded a $23 million dollar contract to construct a “Contingency Mass Migration Complex” at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station with capacity to detain 13,000 people and built to last “a minimum of 50 years.” In April, we also learned that the Department of Homeland Security considered sending migrant children to an old “dormitory facility” at Guantanamo.

      I’ve been to Guantanamo. I visited in 2015 as an observer of the military commission proceedings, staying in a dusty tent barrack for a week. With a stunning landscape and ugly history, it is full of contradictions—like selling Mickey Mouse-Guantanamo Bay souvenirs in the gift shop, mere miles from where men have languished in detention without fair trials, or even charges, for more than a decade. I left with a pit in my stomach, unsettled by this deeply strange place. It has been a site of torture, where our country’s leaders have long embraced or tolerated injustice. It is certainly no place for children.

      No child should grow up in jail, no matter where it is located. Studies show that kids in immigration detention suffer emotionally and physically, with traumatizing conditions including “sleep[ing] on cement floors,” “insufficient foods and water,” and “extremely cold temperatures.”

    • San Francisco PD Raids Journalist’s Home To Find Out Which One Of Its Cops Leaked An Autopsy Report

      Whoever leaked it, did it quick. The autopsy report appeared on newcasts only hours after the public defender collapsed in his apartment. An internal investigation was opened following some public criticism of the PD’s handling of sensitive info. The leaking of this document suggested someone in the force wanted to take a shot at the public defender (and fierce critic of the PD) only hours after his passing by letting the public know about the illegal substances found in Adachi’s system. City officials recognized this and came down hard on police officials.

      In response, the SFPD has apparently decided to externalize its internal investigation. While it’s possible this raid will ultimately result in the discovery of the leaker, this end does not justify the means. Law enforcement does serious damage to protected speech when it goes after journalists to out their sources. If the SFPD had restricted its investigation to its own officers, journalists wouldn’t be feeling a chill descending on their line of work.

      And this all came about because the SFPD can’t take “no” for an answer. Journalists should protect their sources. If they don’t, they soon won’t have any. Courts have recognized the need to protect sources, as have a handful of journalist shield laws around the nation.

    • And Scene: Suburban Express To Shut Down In Mere Months

      To take you back through the entire history since Suburban Express made it onto the Techdirt radar would take more words than I care to spend, but we’ll do the short version. Suburban Express runs van lines between Chicago and a couple of local universities. It also, somewhat oddly, regularly goes to war with its own customers, as well as the wider internet. The internet side is mostly well-worn assholery: bitching about review sites, bitching about Reddit, and threatening everyone in between with legal actions. Where the company blazes new trails is when owner Dennis Toeppen gets arrested for harassing critics and customers online, sends out blatantly racist advertisements, and gets itself sued by the Illinois AG for roughly all of the above.

      This whole saga of stupid has featured guest spots like government employees, law enforcement officers, and even Ken “Popehat” White. But, as all such sagas go, it had to eventually come to an end. And that end comes in the glorious form of Suburban Express shutting down.

      [...]

      In the end, the fact that Suburban Express is shutting down in this way does serve a positive purpose. That purpose would be as a warning for other businesses that want to go on anti-consumer, anti-internet tirades simply due to legitimate complaints about the business itself and the people running it. Thin skin is not an asset in any part of life, but it must certainly be least useful when running a business.

      Maybe if Toeppen had bothered treating people like human beings, he and his business wouldn’t have ended up in the business gutter.

    • Suburban Express shuts down

      Local bus company Suburban Express shut down all operations Tuesday, according to a court filing from owner Dennis Toeppen posted late in the day.

      Suburban Express’ website was unreachable Tuesday afternoon except for a refund submission form, as required by the consent decree Toeppen reached last month with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

      [...]

      “Although Mr. Toeppen has informed the court that Suburban Express has ceased operations, the defendants are still obligated to comply with the consent decree,” she wrote. “Our office is currently reviewing Mr. Toeppen’s filing to determine its impact on the consent decree and Suburban Express customers.”

      In his filing, Toeppen didn’t shy away from taking a parting shot at his competition.

      “We have decided not to facilitate or aid in replacement of Champaign-Urbana service,” he wrote. “Instead, we prefer to sit on the sidelines and watch as competitor’s fares rise, frequency falls, and passenger injuries and fatalities increase.”

      [...]

      Madigan filed a 39-page lawsuit in April 2018, attaching 182 pages of exhibits filled with screenshots of Yelp comments on negative reviews, Suburban Express’ notorious “Page of Shame,” emails, copies of the email advertisements, a copy of the contract customers must agree to and an internal list of banned customers.

    • US Border Patrol Is the Most Brutal Militia of All

      The militia group was hunting for border-crossers near the U.S.-Mexico boundary. Soon it encountered a group of migrants. Its members made them “take off their shoes and walk for half an hour in their socks,” then “lie face-down in the dirt for an hour.” The militia’s members stole the migrants’ food and fed it to their horses. They took the migrants’ sweaters, tossing them dirty blankets covered in cactus spines to use against the cold.

      Actions like these have made the militia infamous. Human rights researchers log its many crimes. Legal organizations record thousands of its abuses. But the militia, defiant, is digging in.

      “We are America’s frontline,” their manifesto reads. “We safeguard the American homeland at and beyond our borders. We protect the American people against terrorists and the instruments of terror.”

      Its members dismiss detractors. One man, recently retired, said he was “completely positive” about the outfit, stressing that “they’re doing the best that they can,” especially given some politicians’ efforts to restrict militia activity. “I wish all those guys in Washington would spend just one day down here to see what the hell they’re talking about,” a long-serving member declared.

      But charges against the group have accumulated in recent years. They range from legal violations to physical, psychological and sexual abuse.

    • The US Labor Market Is Deteriorating for Black Men

      The April jobs report was, for the most part, pretty good news. The overall unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent, a level not seen in almost 50 years. The survey of businesses showed the economy generated more than 260,000 new jobs in the month — a very strong pace of job growth.

      While not great, the average hourly wage grew 3.2 percent. That is more than a percentage point above the 2 percent inflation rate, meaning that wages are at least rising faster than prices, and workers are getting their share of the gains from productivity growth. This was not true earlier in the recovery when the labor market was weaker.

      But the situation for Black Americans, and especially Black men, is disturbing. While the data are erratic, we now have enough of it to indicate that the employment prospects of Black men may actually be deteriorating even as the overall labor market continues to improve.

      As a rule of thumb, the unemployment rate for Black people is twice the unemployment rate for white people. That is not a pretty story, but the implication is that Black folks disproportionately benefit from a drop in the unemployment rate. A 1 percentage point drop in the white unemployment rate is typically associated with a 2 percentage point drop in the Black unemployment rate.

      Furthermore, there is a tendency for the ratio to tighten when the unemployment rate gets low. We saw this in 2018 when the unemployment rate for white folks averaged 3.5 percent, while the unemployment rate for Black folks averaged 6.5 percent. A 6.5 percent unemployment rate hardly seems like cause for celebration, but that compares to unemployment rates of more 16 percent at the trough of the recession in 2010.

    • NYU Hires Law Firm to Investigate Behavior of Steinhardt, a Prominent Donor

      NYU said on Monday that it had hired a prominent law firm to investigate whether the namesake of its school of education, Michael H. Steinhardt, had engaged in inappropriate conduct with students, faculty or staff.

      The review will be headed by Joan McPhee, a lawyer who last year helped lead an investigation of Lawrence G. Nassar, a USA Gymnastics team doctor who last year was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing young women. McPhee was hired by NYU as part of its response to a New York Times-ProPublica article that alleged a pattern of crude and demeaning sexual comments by Steinhardt toward women over decades.

      Steinhardt, a hedge fund pioneer and philanthropist, denied many of the specifics of the allegations, saying that his behavior was always meant in jest, and never involved physical contact.

      The NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, the largest graduate school at the university, got its name after Steinhardt and his wife, Judy, donated $10 million to the school in 2001. It was the largest gift NYU had ever received.

    • “I Now Have the Perspective of Both Sides”: 18 Voting Officials Take Civil Rights Tour

      The exuberant greeter, who said her name was Wanda, hugged each of the secretaries of state as they walked through the doors of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. “Thank you for being here,” she said as each crossed into the small, orange-brick building.

      It was, she said, “hallowed ground.” Martin Luther King Jr. had preached here for six years and organized the Montgomery bus boycott in the church’s basement. The church is only feet away from the Alabama State Capitol, on whose steps Jefferson Davis was sworn in as president of the confederacy. At the end of Dexter Avenue is the Court Square Fountain, once the site of a slave trade.

      Wanda greeted those arriving on the second day of the “Democracy Tour” organized by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill — a three-day visit to Alabama’s most historically significant civil rights monuments and museums for the chief election administrators of 18 states. It was the first time election administrators had done such a tour, and they made clear to note there were 11 Republicans and seven Democrats in attendance.

    • Police reportedly use tear gas against Yekaterinburg residents protesting planned cathedral construction

      URA.ru and MBK Media reported that police officers deployed tear gas against protesters in Yekaterinburg. Around 2,000 people had reportedly gathered around a city square on the evening of May 13 to voice their objections to plans for a cathedral to be built in place of the square. Together, the protesters pulled down fencing around the square and seemed prepared to occupy it overnight.

    • Standing against church construction in public space, Yekaterinburg protesters face beatings from opponents and pressure from police

      On the evening of May 13, Yekaterinburg residents organized a protest against plans to build a cathedral to replace a city square. That morning, fencing was installed around the square in preparation for construction work to begin. After photographs of the fencing spread on social media, opponents of the construction project began gathering around the square to protest. They were able to knock down the fencing, and once inside the square, the protesters erected a tent to remain there overnight. Several activists attempted to block a nearby road but stopped after facing resistance from police.

    • Hundreds of Yekaterinburg residents knock down police barriers and occupy square to protest planned cathedral construction

      The protest began at 7:00 PM local time. Journalists reporting from the site of the demonstration told Meduza that about 2,000 people gathered around the square. According to Yekaterinburg Online, the protesters formed a human chain around the fence closing off the area and then knocked the fence down together. People poured onto the square and began to demand that Yekaterinburg mayor Alexander Vysokinsky make an appearance. They also began setting up tents to spend the night occupying the area.

    • “Saving Syria’s Children”: Response to the HuffPo

      Evidence that sequences in Saving Syria’s Children were fabricated is set out on my blog. Readers are free to make their own topographical analogies.

      During the programme’s making BBC Panorama reporter Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway were embedded with then ISIS partner group Ahrar al-Sham – a group described elsewhere by the BBC as “hard-line Islamist”. Less than three weeks earlier Ahrar al-Sham, ISIS and other groups together killed over 190 civilians, including women, children and elderly men, and kidnapped over 200 mostly women and children.

      In the programme’s climactic scenes of the aftermath of an alleged incendiary attack the BBC crew filmed at close quarters an ambulance prominently bearing the ISIS emblem and its militarily attired occupants, at least one of whom was armed.

    • Albanian Prime Minister leading the country toward civil conflict

      Tens of thousands of anti-goverment protesters have clashed with Albanian state police in Tirana. The rally resulted in dozens of protestors injured, many arrests, and the uncontrolled use of gas by the police in the vicinity of dwelling houses and apartments endangering the health and lives of protestors and inhabitants of Tirana. Opposition leaders accuse Edi Rama’s government of graft and election fraud. They seek the withdrawal of the Prime Minister and the establishment of a transitory government which will ensure a fair and democratic election process.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • 1.28 Million US Residents Cut The TV Cord Last Quarter

      It seems like only yesterday that the TV sector was busy insisting that TV cord cutting was a “fiction.” Once that claim was proven hollow by the data, plenty of industry folks shifted toward claiming that the trend was being over-hyped and only temporary. Many claimed the trend would reverse itself once the housing markets stabilized (didn’t happen) or Millennials started to procreate (didn’t happen). Often, angry users who cut the cord (usually due to high prices or terrible customer service) were brushed side by executives and analysts as being irrelevant nobodies.

      And while many in the TV sector now like to insist they saw the problem coming all along, it’s genuinely embarrassing how many industry execs tried to wish the rise of additional competition away, believing that if they stuck their head deeply enough in terra firma, this major industry trend would just somehow go away.

    • Don’t Let California’s Legislature Extend Broadband Monopolies for Comcast and AT&T

      Californians have successfully pushed the state’s legislature to restore two-thirds of the 2015 Open Internet Order through state laws. Stopping legislation from Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez—backed by AT&T and Comcast (A.B. 1366)—is the final piece to bringing back those critical protections to promote broadband choice.

      The California Assembly will soon take up this bill, which would renew a 2011 ISP-backed law that expires this year. That law had the stated goal of promoting choice and competition for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. In practice, however, it has sidelined state and local governments from exerting authority over broadband and led to fewer choices for consumers at higher prices.

      Today, most Californians face a monopoly for high-speed broadband access. If we let the 2011 law expire, California could instead choose to empower state and local governments to create policies to eliminate local monopolies. Doing so now is even more crucial than it was in 2011, as the FCC no longer oversees the broadband industry.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Does a “Launch At Risk” Automatically Exclude the Right to Appropriate Compensation for a Wrongfully-Issued Preliminary Injunction?

      A wrongfully-issued preliminary injunction (PI) is a case where a PI is given, only to be later revoked, typically because the underlying right turns out to be invalid or not infringed. The latest referral to the European Court of Justice (C-688/17, opinion of AG Pitruzzella available here in French) under the Enforcement Directive (2004/48/EC) addresses the intriguing question of whether a “launch at risk” (i.e. the commercialization of a product without first suing for cancellation of any relevant patents prior to market entry) should exclude any compensation in the event that a PI is wrongly issued.

    • Mr Justice Nugee and the Superhose: The potentiality of disclosure

      In a recent UK High Court case (Emson v Hozelock), Mr Justice Nugee, in a follow-up to the classic UK case Windsurfing, considered the issue of when a disclosure may be considered public. Mr Justice Nugee assessed whether the prior use of an invention by the inventor in his own private garden was a public disclosure, given that the garden was visible from the public road.

      The case concerned the alleged infringement and invalidity of a UK and EP patent for an expandable garden hose – the XHose. Licencees of the patent, Emson, sued Hozelock for infringing the patent by manufacture of their own expandable hose – the Superhoze. Hozelock counterclaimed that the patents were invalid. Hozelock argued that the Patents were obvious in view of the inventor’s manufacture and use of XHose prototypes in his private garden. Hozelock argued that the prior use by the inventor was a public disclosure, given that the inventor’s activities could potentially have been seen from the public road.

    • Although Motivated to Try; No Reasonable Expectation of Success

      West-Ward (now known as Hikma) is seeking to make and sell a generic version of the Novartis chemotherapy drug everolimus (Afinitor). After filing its Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA), Novartis sued, alleging infringement of its U.S. Patent 8,410,131.

      Following a bench trial, the district court sided with the patentee – finding the claims enforceable – not obvious. Novartis Pharm. Corp. v. West-Ward Pharm. Int’l Ltd., 287 F. Supp. 3d 505 (D. Del. 2017). On appeal, the Federal Circuit has affirmed.

      The claims at issue are method-of-treatment claims with one step — “administering … a therapeutically effective amount” of everolimus. The preamble of claim 1 indicates that the treatment is for “inhibiting growth of solid excretory system tumors.” Dependent claims 2 and 3 add limitations that the treatment is for a kidney tumor or “advanced solid excretory tumor.”

      At the time of the patent filing, the compound (everolimus) was already known as an mTOR inhibitor; and mTOR inhibiors were known to inhibit tumor growth. Everolimus a derivative of rapamycin and structurally similar to temsirolimus — both of which were already identified as chemotherapy treatments for similar cancer types.

      The district court took this evidence and agreed that a person of skill in the art would have been motivated to pursue everolimus as a potential treatment for advanced solid tumors. However, the court’s opinion then seemed to contradict itself by saying that there was no motivation to combine the prior art. The district court also found that everolimus was one of many different research paths and that the prior art was not sufficient to create “a reasonable expectation of success in using everolimus” to treat advanced kidney tumors.

      [...]

      Note here that the requirement is an “expectation” of success — would PHOSITA have expected that the drug would work? In this case, at the time of the invention, there was no clinical data on everolimus (as an anti cancer agent) and no completed trials for the other similar compounds (only phase I safety-focused data). And, the district court noted that there had been many many past attempts to find a compound that works — most of them starting with some promise.

    • Analysis: USPTO “opens the door” for some cannabis marks

      The USPTO’s examination guidelines for cannabis trademarks – in response to the 2018 Farm Bill – present a path forward for some brands, but leave much up to the FDA

      The USPTO issued the examination guidelines for cannabis-related goods and services on May 2. The office previously had a practice of “outright denying any application with a whiff of cannabis,” according to Sarah Robertson…

    • The Agreement on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – Protocol on IP

      Part VI of the AfCFTA Agreement (Protocol on Dispute Settlement) introduces the Protocol on the Rules and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes. The Dispute Settlement institutions and processes are quite similar to those of the WTO. There is a Dispute Settlement Body consisting of representatives of Member States, which will take decisions by consensus. The Dispute Settlement Body has the powers to establish Dispute Settlement Panels, and an Appellate Body. See Article 5 of the Protocol. Whether the Dispute Settlement mechanism can assure a level playing field or actually settle IP disputes remains to be seen and may also depend on the contents of the Protocol on IP.

    • Trademarks

      • How does the average consumer perceive the term “SPA”?

        As I took a look at the EUIPO’s index of pending Grand Board cases, the above proved to be the case in an interesting referral (by way of an interim decision) from the EUIPO First Board of Appeal.

        The EUIPO First Board of Appeal was asked to decide over the relevant public’s perception of the term “SPA” which is polysemic: on the one hand, the term “SPA” is the designation of the Belgian town Spa, where there is also a health spa, well-known to the Belgian public; on the other hand, it is also the common name that designates a spa-facility (a hydrotherapy facility).

        [...]

        The First Board of Appeal considered the issue of consumer perception to be of importance to the case and therefore, pursuant to Article 1(b)(a) of the Rules of Procedure of the EUIPO, referred the case to the Grand Board for further assessment.

      • ‘Guns ‘N’ Rosé’ Beer: Sounds Familiar?

        In 1984, GNR’s co-founders Tracii Guns and Axl Rose, combined their respective bands– ‘LA Guns’ and ‘Hollywood Rose’, to form the band ‘Guns N’ Roses’. Since the formation, GNR has achieved national and international fame and commercial success, which has earned for its name world-wide recognition. GNR is the owner of three federal trade mark registrations for the mark GUNS N’ ROSES, including for Class 25 (clothing, namely, T-shirts, shirts, hats, caps, bandannas, sweatpants, and thermal shirts).Since 2018, a Colorado brewery, Oskar Blues, has been marketing and selling throughout the United States ‘Guns ‘N’ Rosé’ beer and associated memorabilia containing the ‘Guns ‘N’ Rosé’ logo, such as hats, t-shirts, pint glasses, stickers, buttons, and bandanas. GNR has not given approval, a license, or consent to such uses.

        In 2018, Oskar Blues tried to register GUNS N ROSE name for beer but the band intervened requesting that, inter alia, the brewers cease using GUNS N ROSE or any other marks “confusingly similar” to the GUNS N’ ROSES mark, and abandon their trade mark application. Following GNR’s opposition filed before the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, the application was abandoned but the beer, clothing and other products remained on the market. After multiple requests to cease sales and marketing, the brewers agreed to stop, but not until March of 2020.

    • Copyrights

      • Judge: Number of ‘Unprovable’ Piracy Cases is Alarmingly High

        Copyright-trolling outfit Strike 3 has suffered a severe blow in a New York federal court. U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein has thrown out over a dozen cases, signaling a variety of problems. Among other things, the Judge noted that the frequency of improperly accused pirates, more than one in three, is alarmingly high.

      • Google “De-Indexes 832 Pirate Sites” From Australia Search Results

        Google has voluntarily agreed to remove 832 pirate sites from its search results after reaching a “voluntary” agreement with content owners and ISPs in Australia. That’s according to Village Roadshow chief Graham Burke who described the move as “Google doing the right thing”. The news appears to come with some caveats, however.

Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 1: Urgent Shitstorm Alert

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Guest post

Shitstorm coming

Summary: Experts at the European Patent Office’s (EPO) weather observation station have just issued an urgent alert warning about a major shitstorm looming on the horizon

Experts at the EPOnia weather observation station have just issued an urgent alert warning about a major shitstorm looming on the horizon. There are signs that a routine tendering procedure is about to turn into Operation Charlie Foxtrot for Team Campinos.

“There are signs that a routine tendering procedure is about to turn into Operation Charlie Foxtrot for Team Campinos.”The first signs of the predicted shitstorm were noticed a few weeks ago when document CA/F 10/19 was released on 17 April in the middle of a “slow news” month in EPOnia when most people were already off enjoying the Easter break or getting ready to go on leave.

So it wouldn’t be surprising if the contents of CA/F 10/19 have slipped under the radar of most of the EPOnian peasants – or campinos (with a small “c”) as they are known in Portuguese!

“…the contents of CA/F 10/19 have slipped under the radar of most of the EPOnian peasants – or campinos (with a small “c”) as they are known in Portuguese!”At first sight CA/F10/19 is a completely unremarkable document with the rather mundane and prosaic title “Award of Agreement 2019/3055 pursuant to Article 58(1) FinRegs for the provision of Security Services for EPO buildings in Munich”.

The document was prepared by the President of the European Patent Office for submission to the EPO’s Budget and Finance Committee for decision.

The BFC is due to meet later this month on 21 and 22 May so it is important to be aware that the matter hasn’t been finally decided yet.

However, in the normal course of events it can be expected that the BFC will sign off on the decision which will then be officially rubber-stamped by the Administrative Council when it meets on 26 and 27 June. If this happens, insiders are confidently predicting that a major shit-storm could break loose.

A shitstorm brewing

According to informed sources it’s still not too late for Campinos to take preventative action to avert what promises to be a major PR disaster but it’s by no means certain that he and his team have sufficient “nous” to react in time.

“…insiders are confidently predicting that a major shit-storm could break loose.”Whether or not he realises it, Antonio the Unready is walking towards a PR minefield.

Or to put it another way, he is in great danger of falling victim to unexploded ordnance UXO. This term refers to those “explosive remnants of war” that lurk beneath the surface or in the undergrowth until they surface by chance causing mayhem and disruption as the bomb-disposal experts quite literally try to “defuse” the situation.

An unexploded bomb

It has to be admitted that there are no overt signs of potentially explosive material in CA/F 10/19 but appearances can be deceptive.

This document reports in dry-as-dust technocratic language on the outcome of a tender procedure for the provision of security services for the EPO’s Munich buildings.

The current contract with a local Munich-based company Bewachungsdienst Dipl.-Kfm. Helmut EHRL GmbH is due to expire on 30 September 2019.

“Subject to extension over a total of five years, this contract has a potential value of close to EUR 30 million.”During the bidding procedure for the new contract, EHRL offered the highest price, whereas a rival bidder going under the name of Kötter SE & Co. KG Security offered the second lowest price out of the 5 contenders considered technically capable and also scored the second best in the technical evaluation with the best references.

And so CA/F 10/19 informs us that it is proposed to award the new contract to Kötter. Subject to extension over a total of five years, this contract has a potential value of close to EUR 30 million.

Viewed through the eyes of a technocrat like Campinos, the choice of Kötter as the most “competitive” bidder undoubtedly makes perfect sense.

The price is right and what else counts in today’s fact-moving globalised world? So far so good. It all seems to be just another non-story.

“But in the enigmatic looking-glass world of EPOnia the real story is often buried beneath the surface and it is necessary to dig down deeper to get to it.”In fact, you can almost hear Team Campinos shouting from the sidelines: “Move along now folks, nothing to see here…”

But in the enigmatic looking-glass world of EPOnia the real story is often buried beneath the surface and it is necessary to dig down deeper to get to it.

In Part 2 we will take a closer look at the Kötter Group.

Patents That Were Gleefully Granted by the EPO Continue to Perish in Courts

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Putting in doubt the collective legitimacy of such patents.

EPO delivery

Summary: The decreasing quality of granted European Patents already becomes a growing problem if not a crisis of uncertainty

THE European Patent Office (EPO) very well knows that it is granting a lot of fake patents or IPs (Invalid Patents) rather than European Patents. Like the USPTO, especially in recent decades (35 U.S.C. § 101 has slowed things down a bit), the EPO does not seem to mind patent quality, only raw numbers. António Campinos even promotes illicit software patents in his blog.

“In the European courts, citing the EPC as usual, more European Patents turn out to be invalid.”Years ago we heard stories about European patent examiners who had granted Apple patents against their will (management’s pressure), knowing that Apple is a “big client”, so even though evidence suggests applications ought to be rejected patents get granted anyway. Yesterday a Web site dedicated to Apple patents said this:

Earlier today Patently Apple discovered a patent application from Apple in the European Patent Office database. Digging deeper into the documentation I discovered that Apple had acquired the entire worldwide right, title and interest in the listed patents from Tueo Health Inc. as noted in-part from the document presented below.

Some corporate media then followed, e.g. this one from CBS (ZDNet, a tabloid covering technology):

Apple has acquired a new patent which describes technology able to monitor your health conditions while you are asleep outside of a standard mobile device or smart watch.

As spotted by Patently Apple, a patent registered by the European Patent Office (EPO) reveals the acquisition of a design from Tueo Health Inc.

Part of it is software, but notice how they say “mobile” and “smart”. Innovation, right? What other buzzwords can be added? “Insight for searchers and patent information professionals focuses on AI,” the EPO wrote yesterday. Whenever the EPO says “AI” it typically means invalid/bogus software patents that must not be granted (they would be in violation of the EPC). Sometimes “AI” refers to search (of patent databases), but only sometimes…

“One thing isn’t in doubt though; the lawyers are loving it because they profit from the war.”Another term the EPO likes to name-drop (in the context of search or patenting) is “blockchain” and for this too — like “AI” — the EPO set up a whole event featuring patent trolls. Speaking of trolls, Watchtroll continues to pretend — as recently as yesterday in fact — that software patents are magically OK if one rides hype waves like “blockchain”. And also on the subject of trolls, the patent trolls’ boosters from Bristows (Annsley Merelle Ward) are again pushing the agenda of a Microsoft-armed patent troll (in IP Kat yesterday), MOSAID/Conversant. She gave away her bias in a recent blog post. They — like the EPO — want the trolls of the world to come to Europe; it’s not their problem when innocent parties get dragged into court. The more litigation, the better, irrespective of the underlying merits (or lack thereof).

In the European courts, citing the EPC as usual, more European Patents turn out to be invalid. Vidal-Quadras & Ramon’s Oriol Ramon has just given this example:

By virtue of a Judgement dated 29 March 2019, the Court of Appeal of Barcelona upheld the Judgement of 20 February 2017 ruled by the Commercial Court No. 1 of Barcelona that revoked the Spanish part of European patent EP 1 379 220 (EP’220).

The plaintiff filed proceedings for revocation of EP’220 due to lack of novelty and inventive step.

In the reply to the revocation suit, the patentee did not defend the patent as granted by the EPO but filed a counterclaim based on Article 138.3 EPC limiting the patent and requesting the revocation action to be dismissed and the patent to be maintained as amended.

The plaintiff then petitioned the counterclaim to be dismissed because the patent in its limited version did not meet the requirements for added subject-matter (Article 123.2 EPC) and inventive step (Article 56 EPC), as, according to the prior art, it was still obvious to a person skilled in the art.

[....]

Neither the Order dated 15 October 2018 nor the Judgement mentioned hereby assessed a further issue: Whether a voluntary request for limitation of a European patent can be filed in the national patent offices or whether it must be filed in the EPO in order to preserve, when possible and as a general principle, the unitary text of the European patent (Article 118 EPC). In fact, the Act revising the EPC introduced a central procedure for administrative limitation by the EPO (Article 105 bis EPC): “At the request of the proprietor, the European patent may be revoked or be limited by an amendment of the claims. The request shall be filed with the European Patent Office in accordance with the Implementing Regulations”.

The judgement is not yet final as an appeal in cassation and an extraordinary appeal for procedural infringement have been lodged by the patentee with the Supreme Court.

How much money has already been wasted and will be wasted in the future because of these dubious patents? One thing isn’t in doubt though; the lawyers are loving it because they profit from the war.

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