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05.19.19

South Korea’s Government Will Show If Microsoft Loves Linux or Just Attacks It Very Viciously Like It Did in Munich

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 8:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Linux infestations are being uncovered in many of our large accounts as part of the escalation engagements.”

Microsoft Confidential

Summary: Microsoft’s hatred of all things GNU/Linux is always put to the test when someone ‘dares’ use it outside Microsoft’s control and cash cows (e.g. Azure and Vista 10/WSL); will Microsoft combat its longstanding urge to corrupt or oust officials with the courage to say “no” to Microsoft?

THIS MONTH’S news from Kerala (India) was very encouraging. Microsoft has long attempted to impose Windows on all children; Bill Gates himself lobbied endlessly to also take schools under his control (Charter Schools), fearing that future generations would not be enlisted into his cult. But that’s a subject for another day (recall EDGI and how it was used in India).

The latest news, which first emerged on Friday, comes from South Korea. It’s about a government and a rich nation long known to be imprisoned by Windows because of ActiveX. The original report [1], followed by more coverage citing it [2-6], sounded good. And then came Microsoft boosters, who even earlier today caught up with the news and did some damage-limiting doubt-shedding [7-8].

“Bill Gates has bribed so many publishers (where Microsoft is also a leading advertiser, i.e. client of the publisher), so they love deflecting all public uproar to companies like Google.”Will the migration happen? We sure hope so. But we’re also certain that Microsoft works hard to undermine this already (e.g. with typical tactics, such as ousting people). We already saw that in Munich, even after the migration. Microsoft would do anything to ‘demonstrate’ that GNU/Linux is a ‘failure’ on the desktop. It used the services of Gartner Group, HP and Accenture among others. A little marketing disguised as ‘studies’ can help morph perception and make success stories seem like failures. Not a word is being said by the rather useless Linux Foundation, which acts as though it signed a non-disparagement deal with Microsoft. Its own chief doesn’t even use GNU/Linux himself.

We shall be watching closely what happens next in South Korea. We expect mischief to follow. We covered many such examples in the past, including Microsoft bribery whose sole purpose was to undermine GNU/Linux.

According to the main article, “the ministry said it would test if the system could be run on private networked devices without security risks and if compatibility could be achieved with existing websites and software which have been built to run on Windows.”

Korea Herald makes “no mention of freedom, and does include some security FUD,” said one of our readers about the seminal report in English. And “therefore: probably just trying to talk Microsoft down on the price…”

Microsoft boosters have begun smearing or belittling this plan, so we shall be watching them too. Longtime Microsoft propagandists such as Bogdan Popa still try to maintain the lie/perception of “Microsoft loves Linux” while at the time time viciously attacking GNU/Linux (which Microsoft bribes governments to reject or — failing that — dump). Microsoft is still a highly abusive and corrupt monopoly. It just got too many officials in its pockets, so rarely if ever does it get punished. Bill Gates has bribed so many publishers (where Microsoft is also a leading advertiser, i.e. client of the publisher), so they love deflecting all public uproar to companies like Google.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. S. Korean government to switch to Linux: ministry

    The government will switch the operating system of its computers from Windows to Linux, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said Thursday.

    The Interior Ministry said the ministry will be test-running Linux on its PCs, and if no security issues arise, Linux systems will be introduced more widely within the government.

  2. South Korea will ditch Microsoft Windows for Linux

    Windows 7 support will end in January of next year, and that is a huge problem for both business and home users that are still running the aging operating system. Can’t these people just upgrade to Windows 10? Well, yeah, but many just don’t want to. Windows 10 has extreme telemetry that many people consider to be spying. As a result, they simply don’t trust Microsoft’s latest operating system. Not to mention, for businesses and organizations with many computers, the upgrade to Windows 10 could prove to be a costly affair.

    And now, as a result of the upcoming death of Windows 7 support, the South Korean government has reportedly decided to ditch Microsoft Windows entirely. According to The Korea Herald, the Asian country’s government will switch from Windows 7 to a Linux-based operating system.

  3. South Korean government planning Linux migration as Windows 7 support ends

    With just seven more months of support left for Windows 7, the South Korean government is planning to migrate to Linux, according to the Korea Herald, which notes that the Interior Ministry will begin “test-running Linux on its PCs, and if no security issues arise, Linux systems will be introduced more widely within the government.”

    The Herald quotes the Interior Ministry as indicating that the transition to Linux, and the purchase of new PCs, would cost about 780 billion won ($655 million), but also anticipates long-term cost reductions with the adoption of Linux. The report doesn’t mention a specific distro, instead “hopes to avoid building reliance on a single operating system.”

    “Before the government-wide adoption, the ministry said it would test if the system could be run on private networked devices without security risks and if compatibility could be achieved with existing websites and software which have been built to run on Windows,” the report stated.

  4. South Korean Government Planning Linux Migration as Windows 7 Support Ends

    With just seven more months of support left for Windows 7, the South Korean government is planning to migrate to Linux, according to the Korea Herald, which notes that the Interior Ministry will begin “test-running Linux on its PCs, and if no security issues arise, Linux systems will be introduced more widely within the government.

  5. South Korea Plans To Shift To Linux From Windows

    Until now, Windows 7 was being used on government machines but the government wants to be future-proofed. That’s because Microsoft will pull the plug on the free technical support for the popular OS in January 2020.

    For reference, Windows 7 was released back in 2009 and its mainstream support ended in 2015.

    According to the Ministry of Interior and Safety, the switch won’t be made right away. First, the Linux-based OS will be tested for thorough compatibility with the existing software that’s meant for Windows. After successful testing, it will be implemented across the entire system.

  6. South Korea Thinks Of Switching From Windows To Linux Platform

    The government has opted for Linux instead of Windows 10 to save a significant amount of money Windows is a paid OS whereas Linux is a free, open-source operating system. It would cost around 780 billion won or 655 million dollars for switching to Linus platform and buying new PCs.

    Another reason for this change is that the Linux platform has lesser security risks compared to Windows. This is the main factor that most of the enterprise networks around the world uses Linux based OS to run their machines.

  7. South Korea Government prefer Linux to Windows 10

    A report from the Korean Herald stated, “Before the government-wide adoption, the ministry said it would test if the system could be run on private networked devices without security risks and if compatibility could be achieved with existing websites and software which have been built to run on Windows.”

    It is not exactly clear which Linux distribution the South Korean Government are eyeing.

  8. Government Planning to Replace Windows 7 with Linux, Not Windows 10

    While specifics on what Linux distro they want to embrace are not available, it looks like the first step towards this migration to the open-source world is a security audit that should help the government determine if their data is protected or not.

Links 19/5/2019: KDE Applications 19.04.1 in FlatHub and GNU/Linux Adoption

Posted in News Roundup at 7:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Red Hat CTO: Scalability, usability key RHEL 8 components

    As data center infrastructure grows beyond on-premises facilities, admins and developers need ways to effectively manage hardware through software. With Linux as the standard for many data centers, organizations must find new techniques to use the OS beyond server deployments.

  • Desktop

    • South Korea will ditch Microsoft Windows for Linux

      Windows 7 support will end in January of next year, and that is a huge problem for both business and home users that are still running the aging operating system. Can’t these people just upgrade to Windows 10? Well, yeah, but many just don’t want to. Windows 10 has extreme telemetry that many people consider to be spying. As a result, they simply don’t trust Microsoft’s latest operating system. Not to mention, for businesses and organizations with many computers, the upgrade to Windows 10 could prove to be a costly affair.

      And now, as a result of the upcoming death of Windows 7 support, the South Korean government has reportedly decided to ditch Microsoft Windows entirely. According to The Korea Herald, the Asian country’s government will switch from Windows 7 to a Linux-based operating system.

    • South Korean government planning Linux migration as Windows 7 support ends

      With just seven more months of support left for Windows 7, the South Korean government is planning to migrate to Linux, according to the Korea Herald, which notes that the Interior Ministry will begin “test-running Linux on its PCs, and if no security issues arise, Linux systems will be introduced more widely within the government.”

      The Herald quotes the Interior Ministry as indicating that the transition to Linux, and the purchase of new PCs, would cost about 780 billion won ($655 million), but also anticipates long-term cost reductions with the adoption of Linux. The report doesn’t mention a specific distro, instead “hopes to avoid building reliance on a single operating system.”

      “Before the government-wide adoption, the ministry said it would test if the system could be run on private networked devices without security risks and if compatibility could be achieved with existing websites and software which have been built to run on Windows,” the report stated.

    • South Korean Government Planning Linux Migration as Windows 7 Support Ends

      With just seven more months of support left for Windows 7, the South Korean government is planning to migrate to Linux, according to the Korea Herald, which notes that the Interior Ministry will begin “test-running Linux on its PCs, and if no security issues arise, Linux systems will be introduced more widely within the government.

    • South Korea Plans To Shift To Linux From Windows

      Until now, Windows 7 was being used on government machines but the government wants to be future-proofed. That’s because Microsoft will pull the plug on the free technical support for the popular OS in January 2020.

      For reference, Windows 7 was released back in 2009 and its mainstream support ended in 2015.

      According to the Ministry of Interior and Safety, the switch won’t be made right away. First, the Linux-based OS will be tested for thorough compatibility with the existing software that’s meant for Windows. After successful testing, it will be implemented across the entire system.

    • South Korea Thinks Of Switching From Windows To Linux Platform

      The government has opted for Linux instead of Windows 10 to save a significant amount of money Windows is a paid OS whereas Linux is a free, open-source operating system. It would cost around 780 billion won or 655 million dollars for switching to Linus platform and buying new PCs.

      Another reason for this change is that the Linux platform has lesser security risks compared to Windows. This is the main factor that most of the enterprise networks around the world uses Linux based OS to run their machines.

    • South Korea Government prefer Linux to Windows 10 [Ed: Microsoft boosters have begun smearing or belittling Korea's plan to move to GNU/Linux]

      A report from the Korean Herald stated, “Before the government-wide adoption, the ministry said it would test if the system could be run on private networked devices without security risks and if compatibility could be achieved with existing websites and software which have been built to run on Windows.”

      It is not exactly clear which Linux distribution the South Korean Government are eyeing.

    • Government Planning to Replace Windows 7 with Linux, Not Windows 10 [Ed: Longtime Microsoft propagandists such as Bogdan Popa will have a dilemma; maintain the lie/perception "Microsoft loves Linux" or viciously attack Linux (which Microsoft bribes governments to reject or, failing that, dump)?]

      While specifics on what Linux distro they want to embrace are not available, it looks like the first step towards this migration to the open-source world is a security audit that should help the government determine if their data is protected or not.

    • The Envelope Please…….

      Those who have followed Reglue.org over the years know that we place a strong emphasis on STEM topics and education. “STEM” is the given acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Linux is superbly well-tooled for these purposes and every computer we place with a financially disadvantaged student is Linux-powered. Now, that might sound like a steroid-fueled buzzkill to most, but in researching the online STEM subject matter, we found that we could actually make it fun. Yeah. Science….go figure.

      [...]

      Just so you know the dynamics involved in presenting these topics to the Reglue kid, we enabled the bookmark bar under the URL bar in Chromium or Firefox. We offer both browsers and allow the student to choose the default. Within that bookmark bar, we place the links to the subject matter we choose for that student, depending on age and aptitude. Our pool of choices is vast, so narrowing it down took a good bit of time, years actually. With feedback from 388 students, we were able to draw down the most popular websites and personalities within the STEM subject matter we wished to provide.

    • Govt Schools In Kerala To Use Linux-Based Free OS, Saving Rs 3000 Cr

      Kerala, the first 100% literate Indian state is not only known for its beautiful backwaters but also for its education policy which benefits everyone and not just one sector. And now, undertaking one of the most progressive educational reforms, this South-Indian state has declared to welcome open source in a huge way.

      As per a report by The Hindu, more than 2 lakh computers in schools across the state will soon be powered by the latest version of the Linux-based free Operating System called as [...] that provides a variety of applications for educational and general purposes. The state-owned Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) has rolled out this new version which is based on the Ubuntu OS LTS edition and includes numerous free applications customised as per the state school curriculum such as DTP (Desktop Publishing) graphics, 3D animation packages, language input tools, video editing, Geographical Information System, image editing software, sound recording, database applications, open source office suite, and various others.

    • Google Extinguishes ‘Campfire’ Dual-Booting Windows 10 on Chromebooks

      Evidence from last year showed that Google was working on dual-booting Chrome OS alongside “AltOS,” a codename believed to be referring to Windows 10.

    • Meditations on First ThinkPad: How Lenovo adapts to changes in the PC industry

      Linux and ThinkPads go together, but not at the factory

      ThinkPads are often the laptop of choice for Linux users, as Lenovo does certify some ThinkPad models for Linux use. Unfortunately, buyers are typically subject to the Windows Tax, resulting in purchased, though unused, licenses.

      The question of getting Linux installed from the factory “comes up over and over with some of our very important customers, and it is taken very seriously,” Paradise noted, adding that Lenovo “provides drivers and a BIOS that is compatible,” reiterating that “we get that request a lot.”

  • Server

    • Instagram: What’s the Technology Behind This Social Media Platform?

      It runs “Natty Narwhal (Ubuntu Linux version 11.04) on Amazon EC2. Though the developers found out that lower versions of Ubuntu had varieties of random freezing incidents on Amazon EC2, they are certain the Linux 11.04 has been firm.

    • Four key tactics to better deliver APIs and improve customer experience through open banking

      Digital leaders are embracing open banking as a cornerstone to their banking distribution strategy. They are using APIs to connect with partners and bring innovative digital services to their customers who continue to seek better experiences.

      More broadly, customers want banking services that integrate into their digital life, explains Capgemini in its World Retail Banking Report 2018. “That’s why it makes strategic sense for banks to support the API-led economy and collaborate with third-parties to offer new-age services,” the report says.

    • Krazy Parties At KubeCon Barcelona

      Are you all set to attend the upcoming KubeCon in Barcelona? They have a jam-packed schedule for technical sessions, workshops, and great talks.

      But this KubeCon is special. “This year we’ll be celebrating Kubernetes’ 5th anniversary!,” said Janet Kuo, Software Engineer at Google, Co-Chair of KubeCon + CloudNativeCon.

    • Announcing Enarx for running sensitive workloads

      Running software is something that most of us do without thinking about it. We run in “on premises”—our own machines—or we run it in the cloud – on somebody else’s machines. We don’t always think about what those differences mean, or about what assumptions we’re making about the securtiy of the data that’s being processed, or even of the software that’s doing that processing. Specifically, when you run software (a “workload”) on a system (a “host”) on the cloud or on your own premises, there are lots and lots of layers. You often don’t see those layers, but they’re there.

    • Monitoring For Organizations At Scale With M3 And Prometheus

      For the past few years Prometheus has solved the monitoring needs of many and it is exceptional at what it does. Being the second project to graduate from CNCF incubation, Prometheus has exploded in popularity and is the monitoring tool of choice for many cloud native adopters. While Prometheus is great at real time monitoring, it was not designed to be a long term persistent store of metrics.

    • MANAGEDKUBE LAUNCHES NEW APPLICATION DEDICATED TO DEMOCRATIZING KUBERNETES INFORMATION, COLLABORATES WITH GOOGLE CLOUD
    • What’s The Right Ingress Controller For My Kubernetes Environment?
    • Top Linux Server Vendors

      This article offers a 2019 update on several of the world’s top Linux server vendors, a very important but often mysterious section of the IT world that many people know little or nothing about. This is because Linux and its various flavors, called “distros” (for distributions), are underlying operating systems that run applications on servers and PCs and aren’t adjusted or changed by users as a matter of routine.

      For public internet servers, Linux is dominant, powering about twice the number of hosts as Windows Server, which is trailed by many smaller players, including traditional mainframe OSes. The supercomputer field is completely dominated by Linux, with 100% of the TOP500 now running on various versions.

      Internet-based servers’ market share can be measured with statistical surveys of publicly accessible servers, such as web servers, mail servers or DNS servers on the Internet: the operating systems powering such servers are found by inspecting raw response messages. This method gives insight only into market share of operating systems that are publicly accessible on the Internet.

      The Linux OS started out as being exclusive to regular x86 desktop PCs, but it has since found its way into everything from Android phones to Google Chromebooks to those powerful super-servers mentioned above. IT decision-makers in the market for Linux servers should know that the very best Linux distros are tailored to specific types of users. Ubuntu, for instance, is very easy to use, because it’s designed for newbies. On the other hand, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, openSUSE, CentOS and others designed for the data center require a lot more expertise.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • LHS Episode #285: Hamvention 2019 Day One

      Thank you for tuning in to Episode 285 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode we wrap up our experiences with day one of the 2019 Hamvention in Xenia, Ohio. We would sincerely like to thank our supports who got us here and for everyone who has visited us in our booth at the show. We hope to see everyone before we leave town on Sunday.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.2 To Allow P2P DMA Between Any Devices On AMD Zen Systems

      With the Linux 5.2 kernel an AMD-supplied change by AMDGPU developer Christian König allows for supporting peer-to-peer DMA between any devices on AMD Zen systems.

    • KVM Changes Make It Into Linux 5.2 With Improvements For x86, POWER, ARM

      The Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) changes were sent out on Friday of the new feature updates for the Linux 5.2 kernel that is nearing the end of its merge window.

      New KVM material for Linux 5.2 includes support for SVE and pointer authentication for guests on the ARM front along with PMU improvements. Over in the POWER space is now the ability to directly access the POWER9 XIVE interrupt controller and various memory and performance optimizations. Meanwhile on the x86 front is support for accessing memory not backed by a struct page along with other fixes and refactoring.

    • DRM Fixes Head Into Linux 5.2 While Letting Nouveau Turing TU117 Support Slip In

      Following last week’s big feature update to the DRM graphics drivers, an initial batch of “fixes” has now been merged to the early Linux 5.2 development code for these Direct Rendering Manager drivers.

      These include AMDGPU SR-IOV fixes, Radeon R500 PLL fixes for that old X1000 series hardware, various Intel graphics driver fixes, Nouveau Turing mode-setting fixes, and fixes to several of the smaller drivers.

    • A Push Towards Firmware-less Video Decoding By Linux Kernel Media Drivers

      Veteran Linux multimedia developer Paul Kocialkowski summed up the current situation this week of many hardware platforms having a general purpose micro-controller running a non-free firmware blob for coordinating the video decoding work. It makes it easier to program with this firmware-based approach but makes the driver less free and now with recent Linux infrastructure improvements could better support dealing with the video hardware itself.

      While the firmware-based video decoding makes the driver work easier, it’s contingent upon the binary firmware blobs and the micro-controller running it doesn’t necessarily be wasting energy on that task. With recent work on the Linux kernel’s media interface, the kernel can now better support interfacing with hardware decoders directly.

    • Graphics Stack

      • The Open-Source / Linux Highlights From OSTS 2019

        We’ve had a number of articles covering the interesting news out of Intel’s 2019 Open-Source Technology Summit (OSTS) held at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington. Here’s a look back at the news out of the open-source event as well as some other smaller bits of information shared during the event.

      • PRIME GPU Offloading Improvement For GLXVND Merged For X.Org Server 1.21

        Work by NVIDIA to provide separate per-client vendor mappings for GLXVND were merged to X.Org Server 1.21 Git as another step towards improving the PRIME GPU offloading support when multiple GPU drivers are at play.

        The work merged on Friday is an alternative to an earlier GLX extension proposal for controlling GLXVND dispatching for PRIME GPU offloading. But this newly-merged implementation isn’t contingent upon a new GLX extension. GLXVND is the vendor neutral dispatch implementation for the X.Org Server with GLX similar to the GLVND OpenGL user-space bits.

    • Benchmarks

      • The Performance Impact Of MDS / Zombieload Plus The Overall Cost Now Of Spectre/Meltdown/L1TF/MDS

        The past few days I’ve begun exploring the performance implications of the new Microarchitectural Data Sampling “MDS” vulnerabilities now known more commonly as Zombieload. As I shared in some initial results, there is a real performance hit to these mitigations. In this article are more MDS/Zombieload mitigation benchmarks on multiple systems as well as comparing the overall performance impact of the Meltdown/Spectre/Foreshadow/Zombieload mitigations on various Intel CPUs and also AMD CPUs where relevant.

        While disabling Hyper Threading now is recommended by multiple parties if running untrusted code on the system, even if keeping HT/SMT active, the MDS mitigations do provide a very noticeable performance hit in many real and synthetic workloads with the updated Linux kernel patches paired with the newest Intel CPU microcode. Like the other mitigations to this point, the workloads affected most are those with lots of context switches / high interactivity between kernel and user-space.

        Before getting to the benchmarks looking at the overall impact of the mitigations to date, first is looking at the MDS on/off costs on various systems while keeping Hyper Threading active. These tests were done on Ubuntu 19.04 using its newest stable release updates bringing a patched Linux 5.0 kernel and the new Intel CPU microcode images.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Xfdesktop 4.13.4 Released On The Road To Xfce 4.14 Possibly This August

      Xfce’s Xfdesktop 4.13.4 was released on Friday as the newest stepping stone on the long and winding journey towards Xfce 4.14.

      Xfdesktop 4.13.4 restores the ability to move icons to other displays, matching the drag-and-drop behavior of Thunar, other clipboard related improvements, and a wide variety of other fixes.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma 5.15.90 (Plasma 5.16 Beta) Available for Testing

        Are you using Kubuntu 19.04, our current Stable release? Or are you already running our daily development builds?

        We currently have Plasma 5.15.90 (Plasma 5.16 Beta) available in our Beta PPA for Kubuntu 19.04, and in our 19.10 development release daily live ISO images.

      • KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 71

        Hot on the heels of last week, this week’s Usability & Productivity report continues to overflow with awesomeness. Quite a lot of work what you see featured here is already available to test out in the Plasma 5.16 beta, too!

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Peppermint 10 Ubuntu-based Linux distribution available for download

        Ubuntu is a great operating system; that’s why so many other Linux distributions are based on it. Hell, even Microsoft seems to be enamored with Ubuntu these days. What makes Ubuntu so good? The Linux distro is rock solid, has tons of compatible packages, and its online community can be very helpful (unlike snooty Arch users).

        Today, a lesser-known (but very good) Ubuntu-based operating system reaches a new milestone. Called “Peppermint,” version 10 is now available. Peppermint 10 should be particularly good for those with modest hardware, thanks to its use of the fairly lightweight Xfce desktop environment and available 32-bit variant. With that said, those with more powerful computers should have a positive experience with Peppermint 10 too.

      • Peppermint OS 10 Released, Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

        The newly released Peppermint 10 serves as the latest stable update to this lightweight distro, and is based on the current Long-Term Support release (LTS) of Ubuntu, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with the Hardware-Enablement (HWE) stack included.

        With this distro’s minimum recommended specs a lowly 1GB RAM and an Intel x86 processor, it won’t surprise you to hear that Peppermint OS pitches itself as a “lightning fast, lightweight Linux based OS” that “provide[s] the tools to make the system your own”.

        [...]

        Peppermint OS is a refreshing alternative to heavier, do-all distros. It’s also perfectly suited to older hardware thanks to low system requirements.

        Peppermint OS is even available to download as a 32-bit .ISO image (as well as 64-bit). While unlikely to stem the tide going on out 32-bit Linux distro support in general, it’s nice to see there are still options for the legions of antiquated netbooks and laptops out there!

      • A BIG “Thank You” to the Peppermint 10 Team.

        Team Peppermint would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in the planning, development, testing, and promotion of Peppermint 10.

        This includes all the forum moderators, trusted users, beta testers, website developers, graphic artists, and ANYONE else that contributed on any level .. without whom Peppermint Nine would simply not have been possible.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Teams Up with Veeam for Data Protection Support

        SUSE and Veeam are teaming up to offer a great solution for your data protection needs. Veeam has just granted their Veeam Ready-Repository (and soon, Veeam Ready-Object) designation to SUSE Enterprise Storage 5.5. Now enterprises get a high-performing and flexible backup target with high scalability. Together, SUSE and Veeam can deliver an extremely cost-effective, flexible, scalable solution for enterprise archive, backup and recovery implementations.

      • KubeCon Barcelona: The New SUSE, and SUSE CaaS Platform.

        In a short while, SUSE will become the largest independently operating open source company in the world. Some have branded this era, “The New SUSE and wow it’s time to see what “The New SUSE” looks like at KubeCon Barcelona. We are here to talk about modern, Kubernetes-based application delivery solutions that you need today. We’ve upped our sponsorship and we’re ready to rock.

      • What is a Kubernetes distribution, and why would you want one?

        Kubernetes (or K8s, if you want to be cool) is currently one of the fastest growing technologies in the world of open source. These days the technology in, and associated with, Kubernetes seems almost endless – and the innovation comes just as fast. Kubernetes was first introduced in 2014 as a brainchild of the citizens and people of Google-landia. 2017 saw Kubernetes start to take off in popularity largely due to an incredibly loyal following of contributors, and by 2018, Kubernetes was looking like a de-facto standard for container orchestration. As of recent, Kubernetes has seen advances in flexibility, governance, storage, and security. As with all things open source, you can just download it from the internet, too – what a time to be alive!!!

    • Fedora

      • Developers Start Debating Whether To Block Password-Based Root SSH Logins For Fedora 31

        While upstream SSH has disabled password logins for the root user as their default configuration the past number of years and that has carried over into being the out-of-the-box behavior for many operating systems, Fedora continues allowing password-based SSH root log-ins by default. But with the next Fedora release they are thinking about changing that default behavior.

        This would allow Fedora to have better security out-of-the-box particularly on servers where OpenSSH tends to be running. The configuration can still be toggled with the “PermitRootLogin” directive of the SSHD configuration.

      • FPgM report: 2019-20

        Here’s your report of what has happened in Fedora Program Management this week. Elections nominations are open through May 22.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian XMPP Team Starts a Blog

        The Debian XMPP Team, the people who package Dino, Gajim, Mcabber, Movim, Profanity, Prosody, Psi+, Salut à Toi, Taningia, and a couple of other packages related to XMPP a.k.a. Jabber for Debian, have this blog now. We will try to post interesting stuff here — when it’s ready!

      • Derivatives

        • Intro to Devuan GNU+Linux, A Great Operating System without Systemd

          Devuan GNU+Linux is the first free software operating system to promote Init Freedom campaign. Devuan is a modified Debian GNU/Linux without systemd init system. Devuan Desktop comes with XFCE and bunch of free applications such as LibreOffice and GIMP. Current Devuan release is 2.0 codenamed “Ascii” which is released in 2018. Devuan supports both PC 32-bit and 64-bit, as well as embedded computers like Raspberry Pi, Nokia 900, and so on. Devuan makes everything more interesting as it provides an SDK to enable programmers create new GNU/Linux distro and Refracta Installer to enable casual users create a remaster or a custom LiveCD. To make you even more interested, thanks to Devuan, now we see new distros like Etertics and Maemo Leste, both as desktop and mobile OSes, developed without systemd. This intro article explains in brief what is Devuan, where to get it, the init system used, the desktop, and several more things. Finally, I hope you will give Devuan a try and like it.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • AMD Zen-Derived Hygon Dhyana Appears To Be Working On Coreboot Support

    Chengdu Haiguang IC Design Co with its Hygon Dhyana processor that is based on AMD Zen IP appears to be pursuing Coreboot support.

    While AMD EPYC CPUs haven’t seen Coreboot support to date, it appears Hygon Dhyana support is being worked on as the Chinese company posted their first Coreboot patch.

  • OSI Board Evolution

    I spent last week in New York at the annual new-inductees face-to-face Board meeting of the Open Source Initiative Board (pictured below – Christine Hall is also a member but was unable to join us). Having spent the last 11 years working on refactoring OSI for a new generation, I had advised the Board in advance that I intended to step down as President to make way for fresh blood. The Board elected Molly de Blanc as the new President and Josh Simmons as Vice President, with Hong Phuc Dang bravely volunteering to be CFO. I agreed to serve as Board Secretary until someone else feels ready to play that role – no later than next April when my term ends.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • TenFourFox FPR14 available

        The font blacklist has also been updated and I have also hard-set the frame rate to 30 in the pref even though the frame rate is capped at 30 internally and such a change is simply a placebo. However, there are people claiming this makes a difference, so now you have your placebo pill and I hope you like the taste of it. :P The H.264 wiki page is also available, if you haven’t tried MPEG-4/H.264 playback. The browser will finalize Monday evening Pacific as usual.

        For FPR15, the JavaScript update that slipped from this milestone is back on. It’s hacky and I don’t know if it will work; we may be approaching the limits of feature parity, but it should compile, at least. I’m trying to reduce the changes to JavaScript in this release so that regressions are also similarly limited. However, I’m also looking at adding some later optimizations to garbage collection and using Mozilla’s own list of malware scripts to additionally seed basic adblock, which I think can be safely done simultaneously.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • OnePlus 7 Pro root achieved on global and Indian variants, kernel source codes released

      OnePlus phones are known for their developer friendliness as well as strong aftermarket development community. The Chinese OEM prefers to mandate GPL and push kernel source codes in a timely manner, which is a godsend compared to most of their competitors.

      The OnePlus 7 Pro is already available via open sales across the world, while the regular variant will make a delayed appearance in select markets. Clearly, the company is focusing on the beefier Pro model this time.

  • Programming/Development

    • Mozilla, Cloudflare & Others Propose BinaryAST For Faster JavaScript Load Times

      Developers at Mozilla, Facebook, Cloudflare, and elsewhere have been drafting “BinaryAST” as a new over-the-wire format for JavaScript.

      BinaryAST is a binary representation of the original JavaScript code and associated data structures to speed-up the parsing of the code at the page load time compared to the JavaScript source itself. The binary abstract syntax tree format should lead to faster script loading across all web devices. Numbers related today by CloudFlare range from a 4% to 13% drop in load times compared to parsing conventional JavaScript source. Or if taking a “lazified” approach to skip unused functions, it can be upwards of 98% less time necessary.

    • Better Unbound Python Descriptors

      Welcome back from another hiatus! This post is a facepalm post because I recently realized that I’ve been an idiot for so long. I have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be, as can be seen in my articles about instance properties.

      I’ve briefly mentioned unbound attributes (Class.attr returns a function that you pass an instance into to look up the the value of that instance’s version of the attribute) with descriptors a time or two and they always ended up using a whole new object to represent the unbound attribute. In the example given, I returned a local function to use as the unbound attribute; in the descriptor-tools library that goes along with the book, I implemented it with an UnboundAttribute type, which allowed it to easily carry extra data (such as the descriptor object reference); then I discovered attrgetter in the operator module, so I substituted that in instead. But there was one big obvious solution I was missing.

    • Python Program to Check If number is Even or Odd
    • Python program to check if a string is palindrome or not
    • Python Program to Find the Largest Among Three Numbers
    • Brief Introduction to OpenGL in Python with PyOpenGL
    • Python Program To Print Numbers From 1 to 10 Using For Loop
    • Abhijeet Pal: Python Program to Add Two Numbers
    • Python Program to Find the Smallest Among Three Numbers
    • Python Program to Swap Two Numbers
    • Idle hacking – part 1
    • Kushal Das: My talk at PyCon US 2019
    • Talk Python to Me: #212 Python in Web Assembly with Pyodide
    • Scott Shawcroft: History of CircuitPython

      Scott Shawcroft is a freelance software engineer working full time for Adafruit, an open source hardware company that manufactures electronics that are easy to assemble and program. Shawcroft leads development of CircuitPython, a Python interpreter for small devices.

      The presentation began with a demo of Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express, a two-inch-wide circular board with a microcontroller, ten RGB lights, a USB port, and other components. Shawcroft connected the board to his laptop with a USB cable and it appeared as a regular USB drive with a source file called code.py. He edited the source file on his laptop to dim the brightness of the board’s lights. When he saved the file, the board automatically reloaded the code and the lights dimmed. “So that’s super quick,” said Shawcroft. “I just did the demo in three minutes.”

    • The 2019 Python Language Summit

      The Python Language Summit is a small gathering of Python language implementers, both the core developers of CPython and alternative Pythons, held on the first day of PyCon. The summit features short presentations from Python developers and community members, followed by longer discussions. The 2019 summit is the first held since Guido van Rossum stepped down as Benevolent Dictator for Life, replaced by a five-member Steering Council.

    • Polymorphism and Implicit Sharing

      Recently I have been researching into possibilities to make members of KoShape copy-on-write. At first glance, it seems enough to declare d-pointers as some subclass of QSharedDataPointer (see Qt’s implicit sharing) and then replace pointers with instances. However, there remain a number of problems to be solved, one of them being polymorphism.

    • The magic of BASH string expansion

      Unfortunately AWK (GNU AWK 4.1.4) is confused by Unicode character codes in replacement commands, and so is sed (GNU sed 4.4):

    • Amber Brown: Batteries Included, But They’re Leaking
    • The 2019 Python Language Summit

      The Python Language Summit is a small gathering of Python language implementers, both the core developers of CPython and alternative Pythons, held on the first day of PyCon. The summit features short presentations from Python developers and community members, followed by longer discussions. The 2019 summit is the first held since Guido van Rossum stepped down as Benevolent Dictator for Life, replaced by a five-member Steering Council.

    • Python Program To Print Numbers From 1 to 10 Using While Loop

Leftovers

  • Science

    • This AI-generated Joe Rogan fake has to be heard to be believed

      Up until now, these voices have been noticeably stilted and robotic, but researchers from AI startup Dessa have created what is by far the most convincing voice clone we’ve ever heard — perfectly mimicking the sound of MMA-commentator-turned-podcaster Joe Rogan.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Lowering Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
    • Where Lyme Disease Came From and Why It Eludes Treatment

      Newby claims (in 2019) that if a scientist named Willy Burgdorfer had not made a confession in 2013, the secret that Lyme disease came from a biological weapons program would have died with him. Yet, in 2004 Michael Christopher Carroll published a book called Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Germ Laboratory. He appeared on several television shows to discuss the book, including on NBC’s Today Show, where the book was made a Today Show Book Club selection. Lab 257 hit the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list soon after its publication.

      Newby’s book reaches the same conclusion as Carroll’s, namely that the most likely source of diseased ticks is Plum Island. Newby reaches this conclusion on page 224 after mentioning Plum Island only once in passing in a list of facilities on page 47 and otherwise avoiding it throughout the book. This is bizarre, because Newby’s book otherwise goes into great depth, and even chronicles extensive research efforts that lead largely to dead ends, and because there is information available about Plum Island, and because Carroll’s best-selling book seems to demand comment, supportive or dismissive or otherwise.

    • Victory on Elder Care Equity Sets a Marker for 2020 Debates

      In 2035, the year seniors are projected to outnumber children in the U.S. population, I predict we’ll look back and credit Washington activists for being on the forefront of tackling America’s elder care crisis. On May 13, the state became the first in the nation to adopt a social insurance program for long-term care benefits.

      “This is a huge victory for organizing and people power, for care and caregiving, and for older adults and people with disabilities,” said Josephine Kalipeni, Director of Policy and Federal Affairs for Caring Across Generations, one of more than 20 groups that formed Washingtonians for a Responsible Future to push the path-breaking legislation.

      It was also a coup for Washington Governor and presidential candidate Jay Inslee. In the primary debates, he’ll now be able to claim some credit for action on a burning issue for older and disabled Americans and the people who care for them.

      Federal lawmakers who’ve thrown their hats in the presidential ring will not be able to claim concrete victories, but eight of the 11 have endorsed “Medicare for All” bills that include coverage for long-term services and supports. These benefits include assistance with daily activities, such as eating, bathing, preparing meals, and housekeeping, whether provided by nursing homes, professional home care workers, or a family caregiver.

      Among the presidential candidates who are sitting senators, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren have all endorsed the Bernie Sanders Medicare for All plan. Before he recently reintroduced the legislation, Sanders added long-term care coverage. Three contenders on the House side — Tulsi Gabbard, Tim Ryan, and Eric Swalwell — have endorsed a similar bill. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Bennet and Rep. Seth Moulton have not yet endorsed a far-reaching Medicare reform plan.

    • Rural Voter Project Is Tied to Medicare for All Opponents

      Last month, former Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., announced the launch of the One Country Project, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, to bring rural voters back to the Democratic Party. The group has already started working with the Democratic National Committee, according to Axios. Time Magazine reported that Heitkamp is using “leftover campaign funds” for the project.

      Records show the One Country Project’s website is registered to an executive at Forbes Tate Partners, a lobbying and public relations firm founded by former Clinton administration officials. The lobbying firm is leading the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), the health industry-backed nonprofit created to crush momentum for a comprehensive, universal health care system.

    • Ohio Lawmakers Ignored Us When They Banned Abortion. They Can’t Ignore Us in the Courtroom.

      When Ohio legislators decided to sign the bill into law, we knew we had to both continue to provide care and defend access to that care in the courts.

      Last month, Gov. Mike DeWine signed the Ohio Legislature’s abortion ban into law. The law recklessly prohibits abortions starting around six weeks. As an abortion provider, I can tell you this is, in fact, a ban on all abortions in Ohio. Approximately 90% of abortions in Ohio take place at or after six weeks. Before six weeks, most people do not even know they are pregnant.

      In defense of people across Ohio, I knew that our clinic couldn’t stand by and do nothing while politicians intrude on one of the most private and personal decisions an individual can make. That’s why this week, my clinic, Preterm in Cleveland, joined our partners at the ACLU and Planned Parenthood to announce that we are challenging Ohio’s law banning abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy on behalf of our physicians, staff, board, and patients.

      In banning abortion, Gov. DeWine and the legislature sent a clear message to Ohioans. They’re telling those who would seek or consider abortion that their personal decisions do not matter. They’re telling them that their futures do not matter. They’re telling them that their past traumas do not matter. They’re telling them that they do not matter.

      Every day at Preterm, women, pregnant people, and their loved ones walk through our doors needing compassion, empathy, support, and safe, affordable abortion care. They come to us because they know they will be cared for as whole people, without judgment or shame.

    • Will Burning at the Stake Come Next?

      We’re living in the most perilous time for abortion rights and reproductive freedom since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.

      While some erosion of abortion rights has occurred over the decades — parental consent laws, waiting periods, procedure curtailment — the fundamental right has largely been by ruled by the courts, and viewed by the public, as guaranteed under Roe. Around 60 percent of Americans support a legal right to the procedure.

      Now state legislatures are escalating their assault on that right — and on the women who attempt to exercise it.

      Yes, merely banning abortion isn’t enough for some on the rabid right — they want to criminalize it altogether. Alabama’s legislature just passed a bill that would make performing an abortion punishable by up to 99 years in prison. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

    • Thom Hartmann: The GOP Is Hellbent on Locking Up Women

      During Mike Pence’s first year as governor of Indiana, his state put a young woman in prison for having a miscarriage, alleging that she’d taken an abortion-causing drug. Purvi Patel didn’t have a trace of such a drug in her system, but Pence’s state sentenced her to 20 years in prison anyway. Just a few years earlier, Indiana had also held Bei Bei Shuai for 435 days in the brutal maximum security Marion County prison, facing 45 years to life for trying to kill herself and, in the process, causing the death of her 33-week fetus.

      Utah charged 28-year-old Melissa Ann Rowland with murder because she refused a C-section, preferring vaginal birth for her twins, and one of them died. Sixteen-year-old Rennie Gibbs was charged by the state of Mississippi with “depraved heart murder” when her baby was born dead because his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck: her crime was that she had cocaine in her bloodstream, according to prosecutors. Angela Carder was ordered to have a C-section to deliver her baby before she died of cancer; both she and the baby died from the procedure.

      These cases have exploded in recent years, as the GOP and the nation’s law enforcement system have embraced the American “Christian” version of fundamentalist Islamic law which dictates that women are the property of men and their principal purpose for existence is reproduction.

      According to Duke University’s Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, there were 413 documented—and probably thousands of lesser-known—cases of women being prosecuted for having miscarriages or attempting abortions between the time Roe v. Wade became the law of the land and 2005.

    • Nationwide Protests and State Boycotts Planned Amid Wave of GOP Attacks on Abortion Rights

      Organizers of the #StopTheBans protests include the ACLU, All* Above All Action Fund, EMILY’s List, Indivisible, MoveOn, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, UltraViolet, and Women’s March.

      The state-level anti-choice laws have sparked national outrage in large part because of the potential consequences for reproductive rights throughout the United States.

      “The politicians behind these laws have one very specific end goal in mind: overturning Roe v. Wade,” MoveOn explained in an email to members Friday. “They all know that these laws will never go into effect as they are written; their express goal is for them to be challenged in the courts, land in the conservative-held Supreme Court, and serve as the catalyst for a complete ban on abortions in America.”

    • The GOP Is on the Road to Mass Lockups for Women Who Have Miscarriages

      During Mike Pence’s first year as governor of Indiana, his state put a young woman in prison for having a miscarriage, alleging that she’d taken an abortion-causing drug. Purvi Patel didn’t have a trace of such a drug in her system, but Pence’s state sentenced her to 20 years in prison anyway. Just a few years earlier, Indiana had also held Bei Bei Shuai for 435 days in the brutal maximum security Marion County prison, facing 45 years to life for trying to kill herself and, in the process, causing the death of her 33-week fetus.

      Utah charged 28-year-old Melissa Ann Rowland with murder because she refused a C-section, preferring vaginal birth for her twins, and one of them died. Sixteen-year-old Rennie Gibbs was charged by the state of Mississippi with “depraved heart murder” when her baby was born dead because his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck: her crime was that she had cocaine in her bloodstream, according to prosecutors. Angela Carder was ordered to have a C-section to deliver her baby before she died of cancer; both she and the baby died from the procedure.

    • As Abortion Restrictions Sweep the South, Look to Southerners to Lead

      On May 14, the Alabama Senate passed an outright ban on abortion with exceptions only for serious health risks to the pregnant person or a fetal diagnosis incompatible with life. It is the most restrictive anti-abortion measure in the nation, as it classifies abortion as a felony with a punishment of up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform the procedure. This comes shortly after Georgia joined Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio in passing a law that bans abortion as early as six weeks.

      Since 2011, state legislators across the country have passed more than 400 medically unnecessary and politically motivated restrictions on abortion. But in the last year, we have seen these restrictions grow more extreme. In fact, many proposed — and passed — laws are blatantly unconstitutional. Many have been concentrated in Southern states.

      I’m a Black woman who was born in rural Marion, Alabama, a small town in the Alabama Black Belt, which derives its name from the richness of the black soil in those areas, making it ideal land to produce cotton. Alabama has a long history of perpetuating injustice through systemic, institutional and state-sanctioned means, including Jim Crow laws that codified racial segregation, and more recently, the 2018 ballot measure Amendment 2 that altered the state’s constitution to outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. While this latest attempt to make abortion nearly impossible to obtain is alarming, it is not surprising.

      What also isn’t surprising is the amount of subtle and not-so-subtle shade being thrown at Southern states by progressives in “blue” states. In a tweet last week, actress Bette Midler called the state of Alabama “cruel,” “backwards,” “benighted” and “pathetic.” A friend of mine recently suggested that Roe v. Wade wouldn’t be in jeopardy if it wasn’t for the South.

    • What Does a Post-Roe America Look Like? As Anti-Choice Laws Multiply, Many Already Are Living In It

      Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer issued what many considered a dire warning from the bench this week, implying that Roe v. Wade — the landmark ruling that recognizes the constitutional right to an abortion — is in danger. He wrote the comments in a dissent for an unrelated case in which the court voted to overturn a 40 year-old precedent. Breyer wrote “Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.” We speak to journalist Robin Marty about what a post-Roe America would look like, and how many people are already cut off from abortion access across the country.

    • Alabama Is the Most Explicit Example of What’s Been Happening to Abortion Rights for Decades

      These abortion bans are brazenly unconstitutional and they know it. As Gov. Ivey herself admitted, the ban “may” be “unenforceable.” That “may” be the understatement of the year. But that is the whole point. The politicians pushing these laws are following the anti-abortion playbook, passing laws in the hopes that with two new Supreme Court justices appointed by President Trump, the Supreme Court will dismantle 45 years of precedent and take the extraordinary step of explicitly eliminating a fundamental constitutional right.

      My colleagues and I at the ACLU are hopeful that the courts will respect the precedent it established more than four decades ago. But it will be years before any of these cases make it to the Supreme Court, if at all, since the Court only takes a fraction of the cases presented to it each year.

      But even if the Supreme Court never takes another abortion case, abortion care can be made just as inaccessible as if Roe were overturned. Alabama is only the latest and most explicit example of what’s been happening to abortion rights across the country for decades. For millions of people in this country—predominantly people of color, young people and those struggling financially—the promise of Roe is already little more than an illusion.

      Abortion coverage bans mean that people struggling to make ends meet are denied coverage just because they’re poor. Laws that mandate forced waiting periods delay care and mean abortion is only available to people with transportation, childcare, paid leave from work and someplace to stay near a clinic. Those are just a few examples of what’s already been happening for decades. Where’s the outcry over that?

    • ‘Speak Up and Be Allies’: Men Asked to Join Women in Sharing Stories of Abortion

      As women on social media this week responded to the latest extreme anti-choice laws passed in Alabama and Missouri by sharing their own experiences with abortion, some rights advocates called on men to join in the campaign so that reproductive justice work doesn’t fall solely on women.

      Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) also called on men to speak out forcefully in opposition to Alabama’s near-total ban on abortion, the eight-week ban which passed Friday in Missouri, and six-week bans which lawmakers in Georgia and Ohio recently approved.

      “Women should not have to face this fight alone,” wrote Booker in an open letter published in GQ Friday. “Men, it’s on us to listen, to speak out, and to take action. Not because women are our mothers, sisters, wives or friends—but because women are people. And all people deserve to control their own bodies.”

    • Amid Wave of Anti-Choice Laws Across US, Warren Introduces Plan to Protect Abortion Rights

      “We must build a future that protects the right of all women to have children, the right of all women to not have children, and the right to bring children up in a safe and healthy environment.”

    • What Is Sole Water, and Does It Have Benefits? [Ed: Questionable]

      Countless health claims circulate around this product, and proponents suggest that it can help you lose weight, balance your hormones, decrease muscle cramps, and improve sleep.

      While these benefits sound impressive, there is no research to back them up.

      This article examines sole water, its purported benefits, and whether you should drink it.

    • Meet The Alabama Doctor Who Could Face 99 Years In Prison For Providing Abortions Under New Law

      Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban into law on Wednesday, effectively banning the procedure except in cases where a pregnant person’s life is at serious risk. The law does not make exceptions in cases of rape or incest and doctors could face 99 years in prison for performing abortions. We speak with Dr. Yashica Robinson, the medical director of the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives, one of only three clinics left in the state that offer patients abortion services. She is one of only two abortion providers living and working in Alabama. Under the new Alabama law, she could spend the rest of her life in prison for doing her job.

    • Oriaku Njoku & Jill Heaviside on Abortion Rights in Georgia and Beyond

      This week on CounterSpin: Republicans have been passing laws restricting access to abortion in various ways for years now, but Alabama has just passed what is effectively an outright abortion ban, stoking fear that one of these disputed cases will make it to the Supreme Court, and we’ll see the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

      Media are certainly covering the story, and often critically. But in a way, the conversation is sort of off-center, because people are talking about “banning” abortion, as if that means abortion disappears. But abortions will happen, as they always have. The question is what they’ll be like, for whom? If that’s your question about the future, it makes sense to talk with the people who are doing the work now—of support, advocacy and funding to allow women to access safe and affordable abortion care. We’ll talk with two today: Jill Heaviside is a lawyer and If/When/How HIV–Reproductive Justice Fellow with SisterLove, Inc. And Oriaku Njoku is co-founder and executive director of Access Reproductive Care—Southeast. They’ll join us to talk about abortion rights in Georgia and beyond.

    • Blistering Report Details Serious Safety Lapses at St. Luke’s in Houston

      When government inspectors descended on Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in March, they found a once-renowned hospital system beset with problems threatening the health and safety of patients.

      It was a place where some people were given medications not ordered by their doctors, where objects had been mistakenly left in patients after surgery, and where sewage backed up into a kitchen stocked with moldy vegetables.

      It was also a place where transvaginal ultrasound probes, the type used to examine a fetus during an early pregnancy, were not always disinfected properly before being used in subsequent patients, and where staff members weren’t always following protocols needed to prevent air from seeping into the blood of patients receiving dialysis, a potentially fatal complication.

      In area after area, from infection control to quality assurance, from the kitchen to the executive suite, inspectors found that hospital administrators didn’t have adequate processes in place to ensure the staff always followed safety standards and learned from serious mistakes.

      Those findings were detailed in a 203-page deficiency report from the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which was delivered to hospital leaders last month and made public Friday.

      The report follows months of scrutiny by federal regulators and comes one year after the start of an investigation by the Houston Chronicle and ProPublica that revealed a high rate of deaths and complications following heart transplants at St. Luke’s. Subsequent stories uncovered other concerns related to surgical outcomes, hospital management and nursing care.

    • Abortion Debates Prompt Rape Testimony From Female Lawmakers

      For more than two decades, Nancy Mace did not speak publicly about her rape. In April, when she finally broke her silence, she chose the most public of forums — before her colleagues in South Carolina’s legislature.

      A bill was being debated that would ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected; Mace, a Republican lawmaker, wanted to add an exception for rape and incest. When some of her colleagues in the House dismissed her amendment — some women invent rapes to justify seeking an abortion, they claimed — she could not restrain herself.

      “For some of us who have been raped, it can take 25 years to get up the courage and talk about being a victim of rape,” Mace said, gripping the lectern so hard she thought she might pull it up from the floor. “My mother and my best friend in high school were the only two people who knew.”

    • Missouri Republicans Rush to Criminalize Abortion Care

      The Republican-held Missouri house on Friday passed the omnibus anti-choice bill.
      Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) praised Alabama Republicans’ passage of the country’s most restrictive abortion ban and said that he would sign a Missouri bill placing draconian new limits on abortion.

      The anti-choice omnibus bill, known as the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act,” contains a cascade of abortion bans at various points in a pregnancy and would criminalize abortion at eight weeks’ gestation, with providers facing up to 15 years in prison. The legislation, one of the most restrictive policies in the United States, passed the state senate early Thursday morning and has to pass a final vote in the house before the legislative session’s 6 p.m. Friday deadline.

      Parson held a press conference Wednesday evening to support GOP lawmakers’ push to pass the omnibus bill.

      “The anti-abortion lobby is ramping up its coordinated effort to challenge women’s access to abortion, and Missouri is the latest target,” Michelle Kuppersmith, director of Equity Forward, said in a statement. “If Missouri legislators want to pass laws that control what should be a private decision between a woman and her doctor, we demand transparency around the creation of these laws.”

  • Security

    • ssh in https

      The wifi network at BSDcan, really the UOttawa network, blocks a bunch of ports. This makes it difficult to connect to outside machines using “exotic” protocols, basically anything except http or https. There are many ways to resolve this, here’s what I did.

    • These firms promise high-tech ransomware solutions—but typically just pay hackers [iophk: “Windows continues to enable entire cottage industries around grifting”]

      Proven Data promised to help ransomware victims by unlocking their data with the “latest technology,” according to company emails and former clients. Instead, it obtained decryption tools from cyberattackers by paying ransoms, according to Storfer and an FBI affidavit obtained by ProPublica.

      Another US company, Florida-based MonsterCloud, also professes to use its own data recovery methods but instead pays ransoms, sometimes without informing victims such as local law enforcement agencies, ProPublica has found. The firms are alike in other ways. Both charge victims substantial fees on top of the ransom amounts. They also offer other services, such as sealing breaches to protect against future attacks. Both firms have used aliases for their workers, rather than real names, in communicating with victims.

    • Google Starts Tracking Zero-Days Exploited in the Wild

      The new project, named 0Day ‘In the Wild’, is basically a spreadsheet that Project Zero uses to track vulnerabilities exploited before they became known to the public or the vendor.

      The spreadsheet currently lists over 100 vulnerabilities exploited in the wild since 2014. The table includes the flaw’s CVE identifier, impacted vendor, impacted product, the type of vulnerability, a brief description, the date of its discovery, the date when a patch was released, a link to the official advisory, a link to a resource analyzing the flaw, and information on attribution.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Looking Through the Screen at the World’s Suffering

      Their perilous conditions are sustained by imperial nations, led by the United States, who, together with its minions, buy and bribe and butcher overtly and covertly all around the world. The love of wealth and the fear of death drive these power-mad marauders and divert the gazes of their citizens from the slaughter. It’s an old story.

      If you are reading this, I am probably not telling you anything new. You know this, as do I, as I sit safely behind a screened-in table on a beautiful spring day in the hills of western Massachusetts. I have had some soup and bread for lunch and there are no bombers overhead or death-squads cruising the roads here.

      While my family and I live a simple life, compared to the world’s poor and persecuted, we are privileged. One does not have to be rich to be privileged. The advantages granted to those like me who can securely sit and pen words about the fate of the poor and persecuted victims of my country’s endless violence weighs heavy on my conscience, as they have done since I was young.

      I am ashamed to say that in the early morning of May 1, as I lay in bed musing, I thought I would like to stay in bed all day, a depressed feeling that I had never had before. Discouragement enveloped me: I was being forced out of my teaching job; I felt that my dissident writing and teaching made no difference in a world where injustice and violence are endemic and without end; and the forces of evil seemed to be triumphing everywhere. Self-pity mixed with an angry sadness that disgusted me. I disgusted myself. So I jumped out of bed and prepared to go and teach some of my last classes. But I was lost in gloom as I drove along the winding roads.

    • Modern Merchants of Death: the NSO Group, Spyware and Human Rights

      Arms manufacturers of old, and many of the current stable, did not care much where their products went. The profit incentive often came before the patriotic one, and led to such dark suspicions as those voiced by the Nye Committee in the 1930s. Known formally as the Special Committee on Investigation of the Munitions Industry, the US Senate Committee, chaired by US Senator Gerald Nye (R-ND) supplies a distant echo on the nature of armaments and their influence.

      The Nye Committee had one pressing concern: that the United States might fall for the same mistake it did in 1917 in committing to a foreign conflict while fattening the pockets of arms manufacturers. As Chairman Senator Nye promised, “When the Senate investigation is over, we shall see that war and preparation for war is not a matter of national honour and national defence, but a matter of profit for the few.”

      Despite the current sophisticated state of modern weaponry, along with modern offshoots (cybertools, spyware, the use of malware), the principle of ubiquitous spread is still present. Companies in the business of developing malware and spyware, modern merchants of disruption and harm, face charges that their products are being used for ill, a nastiness finding its way to hungry security services keen to monitor dissent and target contrarians. While the scale of their damage may be less than those alleged by Nye’s Munitions Committee, the implications are there: products made are products used; the ethical code can be shelved.

      The NSO Group, a tech outfit based in Herzliya, a stone’s throw from Tel Aviv, specialises in producing such invasive software tools as Pegasus. The reputation of Pegasus is considerable, supposedly able to access data on targeted phones including switching on their cameras and microphones.

    • Uncle Sam Needs Our Help Again?

      Earlier in 2019, the US Congress utilized its power to wage or not wage war and voted to end US involvement in the Saudi Arabian war in Yemen. Donald Trump vetoed the bill and it died.

    • Trump and the Middle East: a Long Record of Personal Failure

      Many American presidents have blundered in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, but Donald Trump’s personal involvement in the region has been particularly disastrous. President Eisenhower introduced the CIA to the world of covert action, when he ordered the overthrow of the legitimate government of Iran in 1953. President Reagan endorsed a U.S. troop presence in Lebanon in 1982 in order to pull Israeli chestnuts out of the fire there due to their war crimes in Beirut, offering proof to the Arab nations of Washington’s one-sided support for Israel. President George H.W. Bush went ahead with Desert Storm in 1991 although Soviet President Gorbachev had gained a commitment from Saddam Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait. Worst of all, President George W. Bush used phony intelligence to justify an invasion of Iraq in 2003 that has created sixteen years of disarray throughout the region.

      But Trump has made numerous decisions that have compromised U.S. interests in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. In doing so, he rarely consulted any members of his national security team or offered any explanation for his policies. The past two years have produced a random pattern of actions that have unnecessarily rewarded the bellicose behavior of Israel and Saudi Arabia; decertified a seminal arms control treaty with Iran and then threatened war with Iran; prolonged an unwinnable military engagement in Afghanistan; and worsened an intense multi-national struggle among non-Arabs in Syria. Trump now heads a long list of American presidents who believed that U.S. problems in the region were susceptible to a military solution.

      Trump is the first president since the Six-Day War to have no interest in promoting peacemaking between the Arab nations and Israel and particularly between Palestinians and Israelis. Ignoring the advice of an early national security team (Secretary of State Tillerson; Secretary of Defense Mattis; and national security adviser McMaster), Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; closed the American consulate in East Jerusalem; stopped aid to the Palestinians; closed the office of the Palestinian Authority in the United States; recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel; and seemingly endorsed Israel’s permanent grip on the West Bank. In making one of his bankruptcy lawyers the U.S. ambassador to Israel and assigning the so-called peace process to his inexperienced son-in-law, Trump demonstrated total support for Israel’s authoritarian president, Benjamin Netanyahu, who gave up nothing in return for numerous U.S. political and diplomatic “gifts.”

    • Iran Notes

      Gibbon in his The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire writes of the Romans, “They endeavored to convince mankind that their motive was not the temptation of conquest but was actuated by the love of order and justice.”

      West Asia, the Middle East is probably the most unstable part of the world – thanks largely to U.S. policy. And because of the region’s importance to U.S. hegemony people here are saturated with propaganda. Today, the drumbeats of war are getting louder and louder.

      Relentless media coverage of Iran is almost always negative. The breathless overpaid network anchors intone in somber tones: Iran denies, Iran refuses, Iran turns down, Iran won’t accept, etc. Iran is a piñata for the regime in Washington. It is blamed for everything from measles to arthritis to acne. I don’t use the word administration for the rulers in Washington but rather regime.

      Often U.S. people only become interested in the history of other countries when it’s too late. Iran is a case in point. History tells us that Iran has not invaded another country in at least 250 years.

      Ignorance about Iran is laced with hubris and arrogance. The U.S. destroyed democracy in that country in 1953 with the CIA-led coup, Operation Ajax then supported the autocratic Shah for the next 26 years. These were fatal first steps.

      Pompeo, when he represented Wichita, was known as the congressman from Boeing, demands that Iran “behave like a normal nation.” Does he mean, by any chance, the U.S. itself or its allies Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, all of whom violate international law?

    • Iran and the Coalition of the Weird

      However, just this once they may be on to something. Apparently, the current war scare with Iran is mainly the work of Trump’s chickenhawk advisers like John Bolton (who avoided Vietnam for the highly principled reason that he had no desire to die), and the president, for once, is the moderating force trying to rein them in (I never thought I would write that last clause). How is this affair likely to develop?

      Unfortunately, we have a template for U.S. policy in the Middle East that goes back half a century. Trump’s newfound moderation will likely last as long as it takes for Benjamin Netanyahu, or Sheldon Adelson, or maybe Mohammed bin Salman, to phone the White House. After all, much of the tension was ramped up by an alleged Israeli intercept of alleged Iranian skullduggery helpfully passed on to Washington. (Looking back on my career in national security, I recall that ever since the late 1980s, Israel was estimating Iran was six months away from developing an atomic bomb; they managed to be six months away for a couple of decades.)

      It is almost superfluous to say that igniting a war with Iran will be a colossal catastrophe, given that catastrophe has been the invariable outcome of our past misadventures in that region. Demographically, topographically, and militarily, Iraq was a pushover compared to what Iran would be, yet our “victory” in that country was the very definition of Pyrrhic. But any intelligent person knows that.

      When we calculate the potential effects here at home it gets even dicier, for there is an extremely volatile mixture of conflicting interests in the electoral coalition to which Trump panders. Not only could this kindle an intra-party feud in the GOP that would make the Democrats’ split over Vietnam look like a polite disagreement, it could threaten to tip the country (many of whose citizens I have argued before are not in the best of mental health) into something approaching civil war.

      The GOP sub-groups with the most direct stake in Iran are what I call the Coalition of the Weird.

      It may be objected that the following analysis of these groups is harshly derisive, and the possible outcome I project fancifully pessimistic. But over the last several years, keepers of the conventional wisdom consistently have underplayed the political and social meltdown in the United States, and their sugarcoating of the motives and methods of various interest groups has served neither truth nor social utility. As militaries claim to do (although they rarely do it), we might profit from positing worst-case scenarios.

    • Sanders Launches Petition Urging Lawmakers to Block Military Action Against Iran Without Congressional Approval

      As heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran continue to provoke warnings of potential war, Sen. Bernie Sanders released a petition Thursday calling on federal lawmakers to “pass legislation that would prohibit military action against Iran without congressional approval.”

      “A war in Iran would make the Iraq war look like a walk in the park. It will be an unmitigated disaster,” Sanders tweeted Thursday evening from his presidential campaign account.

      [...]

      Although Trump reportedly told Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan earlier this week that he does not want to go to war with Iran, his administration’s moves over the past two weeks suggest otherwise. Such moves, as Common Dreams reported, include Bolton using “the scheduled deployment of an American aircraft carrier and bomber task force to the Middle East to threaten Iran with military action.”

      Sanders, in his Thursday email, countered the Trump administration’s approach to Iran, writing that “real American power is not demonstrated by our ability to blow things up, but our ability to forge international consensus around shared challenges.”

    • U.S. Warns Airliners Flying in Persian Gulf Amid Iran Tensions

      U.S. diplomats warned Saturday that commercial airliners flying over the wider Persian Gulf faced a risk of being “misidentified” amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

      The warning relayed by U.S. diplomatic posts from the Federal Aviation Administration underlined the risks the current tensions pose to a region crucial to global air travel. It came as Lloyd’s of London warned of increasing risks to maritime shipping in the region.

      Meanwhile, oil giant ExxonMobil began evacuating staff from Basra, Iraq, where the U.S. Consulate has been closed for months following a rocket attack America blamed on Shiite militias backed by Iran, local authorities said. The island nation of Bahrain also ordered its citizens out of Iraq and Iran over regional tensions.

    • The Struggle Is The Meaning

      There is no conceivable interest of the ordinary people of the Western world being served by the crazed decision of their governments to firmly take the Sunni side in the Sunni/Shia tensions of the Islamic world, and to do so in a fashion which deliberately exacerbates points of armed conflict across the Middle East.

      It is even more extraordinary that, in doing so, the West is deliberately forwarding the interests of two nations which have philosophies that are entirely antithetical to the supposed tenets of Western philosophy. Those states are Saudi Arabia, an unrepentant despotism, which promotes and finances a theocratic ideology directly responsible for the major terrorist attacks on the West, and Israel, which is now an openly apartheid state. The USA/Saudi/Israel alliance is underpinned by the identification of a common enemy in Iran and other Shia communities.

      Of course the patent absurdities of the alliance point directly to the fact that the real motive is entirely different; this is all about the financial ties of the 1% and the permanent interest of the military industrial complex and their financiers in stoking the flames of war.

    • Bolton and the Road to the War He Wants

      Isn’t it obvious? A moronic president with no firm principles other than the preservation of his base’s support chose as his third national security advisor the notorious John Bolton. Bolton is using his position to try to guide the supposedly isolationist president into more wars of imperialist aggression. He is the Wormtongue in Trump’s court, allied not with Saruman and Mordor but Binyamin Netanyahu, Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the neocon cause for Middle East dominance. He presently tows the administration’s line in seeking peace with North Korea, but he has historically urged regime change in the DPRK. He was probably the one who at the last minute sabotaged the announcement of an already worked out agreement in Hanoi.

      He has long been a proponent of regime change in Venezuela, and deliberately threatened to post 5000 U.S. troops in Colombia to “assist” Venezuelans (and distribute food to them, and help in the coup). The planned coup fizzled however, much to the disappointment of the corporate media that was expecting high drama last week. Trump reportedly felt he’d been misled to think the clown Guaido would be able to seize power. He may blame Bolton for that.

      Bolton has been an advocate of regime in Syria, too, for over two decades. He has lied before to produce pretexts for U.S. actions (or to justify Israeli ones) against the Syrian state. Most of all he has demanded the bombing of Iran, on the basis of the Big Lie that Iran has ever had anything other than a peaceful, civilian nuclear program (initially supported by General Electric under the Eisenhower “Atoms for Peace” program in the 1950s). Now he is chomping at the bit, thinking his moment has come.

      Trump is besieged by investigations, embarrassing revelations about his rather pathetic business history, and fallout from the China trade war. Impeachment is a real possibility, if House hearings show criminality so obvious that Republicans will desert the president. (It is not as though all Republican Senators love him; they are simply too awed by his solid 35-40% to break with him publicly.) The president is no doubt distracted and troubled.

      In this context a National Security Council meeting was held in which the acting secretary of “defense” Patrick Shanahan (and Bolton) laid out options for a war with Iran. No fewer than six people present contacted the press afterwards to leak this news, indicating shock that such was even being considered.

    • Amid Murky Intel, Experts Say Time to Be Clear: Threat of War With Iran “Solely and Unequivocally” Trump’s Fault

      As “murky” intelligence reports swirl and the White House works overtime to establish its narrative with evidence-free warnings of a supposedly growing Iranian threat, foreign policy experts and analysts are attempting to set the record straight by establishing precisely who is responsible for the dangerously high tensions in the Middle East that could spark a catastrophic war.

      [...]

      Pillar’s assessment of the growing threat of yet another U.S.-led war in the Middle East seemed to be bolstered by a Wall Street Journal report late Thursday, which suggested that intelligence collected by the American government shows “Iran’s leaders believe the U.S. planned to attack them, prompting preparation by Tehran for possible counterstrikes.”

      “That view of the intelligence,” the Journal reported, “could help explain why Iranian forces and their allies took action that was seen as threatening to U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere, prompting a U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf region and a drawdown of U.S. diplomats in Iraq.”

      “There you have it,” Farnaz Fassihi, a senior writer for the Journal, tweeted in response to the new reporting. “Trump action provokes Iran reaction provokes U.S. reaction and suddenly march to another quagmire catastrophic war.”

    • Ignore the Propaganda: A US War Against Iran Would Be a Costly Mistake

      Last Sunday, four oil tankers at the UAE port of Fujairah were allegedly set ablaze in what authorities are calling an act of sabotage. Two of the vessels were Saudi, one of which was en route to the US.

      This is one in a series of escalations of tensions in the region, which began with an announcement by war hawk John Bolton that Israeli intelligence had warned of Iranian plans to attack US forces in the region.

      Though the provenance of the information around the attack in Fujairah, along with the target of the attack, is unclear, the US national security adviser ordered a US carrier task force to steam to the Gulf. He warned that any hostile act by Iran against the US would be met with overwhelming force.

      Plotting regime change

      Knowing Bolton’s enthusiastic endorsement of regime change, his actions appeared designed to foment such a result. All it might take would be a single incident, such as the UAE attacks, to launch B-52 bombers and a massive retaliatory strike against Iran. We may not be there quite yet, but we are well on our way.

      Earlier this week, anonymous US officials leaked to the media that Iran was believed to be behind the UAE attacks, with the New York Times noting: “American officials suspect that Iran was involved. Several officials cautioned, however, that there is not yet any definitive evidence linking Iran or its proxies to the reported attacks.”

    • What Makes Iran Look Like An Immediate Threat

      The current crisis atmosphere in U.S.-Iranian relations, in which the risk of open warfare appears greater than it has been in years, is solely and unequivocally due to the policies and actions of the Trump administration. To point this out does not mean that actions of the Iranian regime have not come to be part of the crisis atmosphere as well. It instead means that such an atmosphere would never have existed in the first place if the administration had not turned its obsession with Iran into the relentless campaign of hostility that has become one of the single most prominent threads of the administration’s foreign policy.

      Without that campaign, and without the administration’s assault on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the agreement that restricts Iran’s nuclear program—Iran would continue to comply with its obligations under the JCPOA, and all possible paths to an Iranian nuclear weapon would remain closed. The channels of communication established during the negotiation of the JCPOA would continue to be available to address other issues and to defuse any incidents that threatened to escalate into war (as was done during the previous U.S. administration). Whatever Iran has been doing for years in the Middle East, such as assisting Iraq in defeating the Islamic State and assisting its longtime ally in Syria, it would continue to do. In short, there would be no new threat and no crisis.

      Some of the current discourse about Iran nonetheless makes it sound not only as if there were something new and threatening but that the Iranian regime is the initiator of the threat. At least seven reasons account for this misconception.

    • The Pompeo/Bolton Tag Team

      There was little pretense that when former UN Ambassador John Bolton became President Trump’s National Security Adviser and former Rep. Mike Pompeo moved into the Secretary of State position, that either would bring a professionally credible and respectable presence to world diplomacy or foreign affairs.

      It is fair to say that both have surpassed any of the bleak expectations and proven to be more extreme in their ideology, more personally amoral and malevolent than previously feared. What we are seeing now is as if all constraints have been removed with free rein to fulfill their zio-neocon agendas specifically against Venezuela and Iran.

      * While speaking to a student audience recently at Texas A&M University, Pompeo revealed his utter contempt for a democratic government based on the rule of law when he bragged about “lying, cheating and stealing” as CIA Director. To an audience of undergraduates which clapped and laughed throughout, Pompeo offered

      “What’s the cadet motto at West Point? You will not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do. I was the CIA Director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. (laughing as if he had said something humorous) We had entire training courses.(Audience applause and cheers) It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.”

    • ‘Unfathomable Evil Recognizing Unfathomable Evil’: Trump’s Possible Pardons of War Criminals Provoke Outrage

      Progressives, human rights advocates, and journalists responded with outrage on Saturday to a New York Times report that President Donald Trump “has requested the immediate preparation of paperwork needed to pardon several American military members accused or convicted of war crimes.”

      Unnamed U.S. government officials told the Times that on or around Memorial Day, Trump may pardon multiple servicemembers involved with “high-profile cases of murder, attempted murder, and desecration of a corpse.”

    • For Corporate Media, Space Belongs to Washington

      The Wall Street Journal (5/10/19) published an excerpt from an upcoming book by CNN’s chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, which claims that despite a “Star Wars–like space service” being an “easy comic target,” “US commanders” are “deadly serious” about confronting “new threats in space.” These “commanders” were mostly anonymous—but such sources are often involved in a profitable revolving door relationship with military contractors.

      CNN (2/11/19) warned us of Russia and China’s “new” anti-satellite laser capacities, with breathless statements by government officials claiming that the two countries are “surpassing us” in space capabilities. NBC (2/11/19) claimed that both countries were “preparing to use space as a battlefield.” The Daily Beast (4/10/19) cautioned that although the US currently operates around 850 public and private satellites, compared with China’s 280 and Russia’s 150, Washington’s plans to launch 1,300 additional satellites to help the US “survive a sneak attack by China and Russia” might still be insufficient.

      While these alarmist reports about an endangered and inadequate military lagging behind its ambitious and innovative “adversaries” are nothing new (FAIR.org, 12/20/18), Sciutto’s excerpt is exceptional in its credulity towards official sources, and in how badly it misleads readers regarding the militarization of space and the “threats” posed by Russia and China.

      Going over several apocalyptic scenarios—“the internet would stop altogether,” financial markets would be “paralyzed” and the US might lose its indispensable capacity to “target anyplace on the planet, anytime, anywhere, any weather”—Sciutto warned that one thing is clear: “War is coming to space, and the US must prepare for it.”

    • Are Syrian “Rebels” Planning New False-flag Chemical Attack?

      Members of armed opposition groups are preparing to accuse Syrian and Russian military of using chemical weapons in Idlib to hamper an offensive carried out by the Syrian army, SMM Syria has learned from sources in the province.

      With this setup the opposition intends to increase international pressure on the Syrian authorities and Latakial the government’s offensive in the provinces of Hama and Lattakia on the borders with Idlib, where the Syrian troops have forced the militants withdraw from a number of areas.

      In Hama, since May 8th the Syrian army units have captured Kafr Nabudah, Qalaat Al Madiq, Shaykh Idris, Al Huwayz and the adjacent areas. The ground offensive was preceded by air strikes by Syrian and Russian jets that targeted positions of the armed groups near the aforementioned settlements in addition to suburbs of Khan Shaykhun and Kafr Nabl towns May 5th, 6th and 7th.

    • American History for Truthdiggers: Nixon’s Dark Legacy

      He was corrupt. He was petty, angry and resentful. He was also one of the most astute politicians in the annals of the American presidency. Time after time he overcame obstacles and defeats to rise again. His genius, ultimately, was this: He envisioned a new coalition and knew how to channel white resentment over the civil rights and antiwar movements into political triumph. This was his gift, and his legacy. Americans today inhabit the partisan universe that Richard Milhous Nixon crafted. Republican leaders to this very day speak Nixon’s language and employ Nixon’s tactics of fear and anger to win massive white majorities in election upon election. Indeed, though Nixon eventually resigned in disgrace before he could be impeached, the last half-century has been rather kind to the Republican Party. Only three Democrats have been elected president in that period, and Republicans have reigned over the White House for a majority of the post-Nixon era.

      For all that, Nixon remains an enigma. Though he crafted a lasting conservative majority among American voters, he also supported popular environmental and social welfare causes. He secretly bombed Laos and Cambodia and orchestrated a right-wing coup in Chile but also reached out to the Soviets and Chinese in a bold attempt to lessen Cold War tensions and achieve detente. A product of conflict, Nixon operated in the gray areas of life. Though the antiwar activists, establishment liberals and African-Americans generally hated him, Nixon won two presidential elections, cruising to victory for a second term. He was popular, far more so than many would like to admit. Although the 1960s began as a time of prosperity and hope, they produced a president who operated from and exploited anxiety and fear, and in doing so found millions of supporters. Nixon was representative of the dark side of American politics, and no one tapped into the darkness as deftly as he did. The key to his success was his ability to rally what he called the “silent majority” of frustrated Northern whites (most of whom traditionally were Democrats) and angry Southern whites (in what came to be known as his “Southern strategy”). It was cynical, and it worked.

    • The Options Trump Puts on the Table

      Is President Trump about to invade Venezuela? His advisors continue to say — in increasingly forceful terms that — “all options are on the table”, and that military intervention to restore Venezuela’s constitution” may be necessary.”

      For his part, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a news program last Sunday commented that President Trump could launch a military attack against Venezuela without Congressional approval because “he has all the authority conferred upon him by Article II of the Constitution and certainly any action that we take in Venezuela will be legal”. The man who just boasted of his lies, tricks and thefts, is providing new evidence that back up his confession.

      The truth is that the US president does not have the constitutional authority to start a war with Venezuela or anyother country that hasn’t attacked or credibly threatenedthe United States, without the approval of Congress. It’sas simple as that,” says Ron Paul, a former Republicancongressman for the State of Texas and presidential candidate in1988 for the now defunct Libertarian Party.

      It is ironic that Pompeo and the rest of the neoconservatives ofthe Trump Administration, who don’t care about theConstitution of their own country, are willing to attackVenezuela “in order to restore its constitution.”

      It is striking and hypocritical that while Washington wasparalyzed for two years by the disproved claims that the Russianshad meddled with the elections to elect Trump, Washingtondoesn’t even hesitate to support the actual revocation ofelections in another country!

    • The Washington Post’s “Cartel of the Suns” Theory is the Latest Desperate Excuse for Why the Coup Attempt in Venezuela has Failed

      With the attempted coup in Venezuela now nearing its four-month mark, commentators in the corporate-owned Western press are scratching their heads as to why Washington’s plan for its proxy, Juan Guaido, to topple the government of Nicolas Maduro has so far failed to materialize. Of course, all of the real reasons elude them because they have never so much as crossed their minds. It is beyond their mental world to consider the lasting popularity of the late Hugo Chavez’s policies and lasting suspicion toward the right-wing opposition amongst large swathes of the population – or the deep revulsion at the thought of US (and especially US military) intervention into their country held by the vast majority of Venezuelans (and, indeed, Latin Americans generally). Rather, both the coup attempt’s puppeteers in Washington and their ventriloquist dummies in the mainstream media have been coming up with ever-more desperate excuses for why Guaido’s attempt to take power has not been a swift and decisive success. The so-called “propping up” of the Maduro “regime” by the traditional the US boogeymen of Russia, China and Cuba seems to have been the most frequently touted explanation. This has manifested itself in increasingly bizarre ways, such as the recent claim by Mike Pompeo that Maduro was at the point of fleeing the country before being convinced otherwise by Russia.

      Now, the Washington Post’s notorious warhawk and deranged conspiracy peddler Jackson Diehl has come up with the latest labored rationalization for the failure of the coup attempt: the so-called “Cartel of the Suns.” According to Diehl, this shadowy organization is made up of “some of the most senior officials in the Maduro regime.” He claims that it “flies hundreds of tons of Colombian cocaine from Venezuelan airfields to Central America and the Caribbean for eventual distribution in the United States and Europe.” He furthermore claims that the Maduro government’s crimes also include skimming accounts used for importing food and medicine and “corrupt currency trading.” Describing the Maduro government as “less a government — much less a socialist one — than a criminal gang,” he claims that “the money it is reaping from criminal activity is serving as a prop that allows it to survive U.S. sanctions.” The only sources he provides to support these assertions are: an Associated Press article from September 2018 that reported on an unproven allegation made by a minor US Treasury Department figure, a January 2019 Wall Street Journal article that reports on another unproven allegation made by the US Treasury Department, and a link to one of his own Washington Postarticles published in 2015. Leaving aside the self-citation, allegations made by the Treasury Department can hardly be considered credible evidence. It is, after all, a branch of the US government, which has been attempting to destabilize Chavista administrations since their earliest days in office. The Trump administration that it currently answers to, meanwhile, has been the major driving force behind the attempted coup and makes no secret of basing the effort on the advancement of US corporate economic interests.

    • War’s Unanswered Questions

      You have the world’s largest military, you’re going to use it, right? Donald Trump and his team, led by National Insecurity Advisor John Bolton, are playing rogue right now with two countries not currently under U.S. control, Iran and Venezuela.

      For those who already know that war is not only hell but utterly futile, the raw question hovering over these potential new exercises in mass murder transcends the obvious question: How can they be stopped? The larger question begins with the word “why” and then breaks into a thousand pieces.

      Why is war the first — and seemingly the only — resort in so many national disagreements? Why is our trillion-dollar annual military budget sacrosanct? Why do we not learn from history that wars are based on lies? Why does the corporate media always hop aboard the “next” war (whatever it is) with such enthusiasm, with so little skepticism? Why does patriotism seem to require belief in an enemy? Why do we still have nuclear weapons? Why (as journalist Colman McCarthy once asked) are we violent but not illiterate?

      Let’s take a look at bad, bad Iran. As CNN recently reported:

    • The OPCW, Douma & The Skripals

      In view of the latest revelations from the leaked report, which seem to prove that at least some elements of the Douma “chemical attack” were entirely staged, we want to take look back at the chaotic events of Spring 2018.

      What was the agenda behind the Douma false flag?
      Why was the US response seemingly token and ineffective?
      Why was the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson fired?
      What agenda tied the Skripal case to the Douma attack?

      The following is an extract from an article by Catte originally published April 14th last year, which takes on a greater weight in light of certain evidence – not only that the Douma attack was faked, but that the OPCW is compromised.

    • Eyewitness in Venezuela: a 14-year Perspective

      I was in Venezuela from April 26 to May 5, 2019. It was the fifth time I have been there in a span of 14 years, so I was able to put things I saw on this trip in that context.

      My first visit was in 2005. I saw people begging, sleeping in doorways, street venders filling not just sidewalks, even whole streets in some areas.

      But I also saw bundles of books being distributed house to house, following a campaign to teach everyone to read. I visited clinics in poor neighborhoods staffed by Cuban medical personnel. I saw independent radio stations run by people in their communities, broadcasting local news, and providing a platform for commentary on current events. Stores had basic foods at affordable, subsidized prices. “Missions,” funded directly by oil revenues so as to bypass government ministries, were addressing social problems that bureaucracies from the pre-Chávez government failed to resolve.

      In 2005, people eagerly told me stories of recent years. On April 11, 2002, a coup led by generals and business leaders had kidnapped President Chávez for two days. Massive demonstrations restored him to power. Soon after that, the owners of big businesses and the top management of the nationally owned oil company staged a “lock-out,” closing their own factories and stores and intimidating smaller businesses to join them. They shut down oil production. Their tactics didn’t work; people improvised and eventually the “lock-out” collapsed. All this did great damage to the economy in 2003 and 2004 and was one of the causes of poverty in 2005.

    • The Pompeo Smirk

      No wonder Mr. Pompeo awkwardly laughed or, as it was described by some observers, “smirked,” when asked about the reports of the execution of four of the people with whom Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo had been negotiating a few shorts months ago. Their roles might have been reversed.

      The smirk made its appearance when Mr. Pompeo was being interviewed on a Sunday news show, and was asked for his reaction to reports that life had not gone well for four of the people he had gotten to know during the two sessions North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump had conducted over the preceding 12 months.

      The first session had been a phenomenal success and the second, although cut short, did not extinguish the flame of love that warmed Mr. Trumps’ heart whenever he thought of Mr. Kim.

      After the first meeting in Singapore in June 2018, Mr. Trump said at a news conference that he and Mr. Kim had “developed a very special bond. People are going to be very impressed. People are going to be very happy. . . . I think our whole relationship with North Korea and the Korean Peninsula is going to be a very much different situation than it has in the past.” Describing Mr. Kim, Mr. Trump said he was: “a very talented man.”

    • The Hospital They Didn’t Bomb

      When I first set eyes on Douma Hospital a year ago today, it came as something of a surprise. As the scene of the notorious alleged chemical weapons attack only a month earlier, I was already quite familiar with its emergency ward, shown in “activist videos” around the world.

      Viewers of Russian and alternative media also got to see more of the same ward when their reporters visited it soon afterward in search of some verification of the claims before they led to the US-led missile strikes on Damascus of April 14th.

      The emergency ward looked like so many others that we’ve seen pictured over the last seven years in those videos “that can’t be independently verified” and – for all we would know – mightn’t even be in Syria, and mightn’t even be in hospitals.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • ‘This Is Unprecedented’: Judge Orders Chelsea Manning Jailed, Imposes Daily $500 Fine After 30 Days Behind Bars

      If Manning refuses to comply with the grand jury subpoena after 60 days, the fine will increase to $1,000 per day.

      During a court hearing on Thursday, Manning told Judge Anthony Trenga that she has no intention of giving in to government pressure.

      “I would rather starve to death than to change my opinion in this regard,” said Manning. “And when I say that, I mean that quite literally.”

      Manning’s imprisonment Thursday came exactly one week after she was released following a 62-day stint in jail—including a month in solitary confinement—for refusing to testify before a grand jury that, as the Guardian reported, “is presumed to relate to the criminal prosecution” of WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange, who is currently fighting the Trump administration’s attempt to extradite him to the United States.

      “This is unprecedented,” read a tweet from Manning’s official Twitter account.

    • Chelsea Manning Faces More Jail And Steep Fines To Force Compliance With Grand Jury Subpoena

      Unable to break Chelsea Manning’s spirit by jailing her, the United States escalated efforts to force her to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks by imposing steep financial penalties.

      Judge Anthony Trenga held Manning in civil contempt and ordered to be sent back to the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria. He also imposed a fine of $500 per day after 30 days, and then a fine of $1000 per day after 60 days.

      The grand jury term is likely to last for 18 months. If she were to remain in jail until the term expired, she would face a fine of more than a half million dollars.

      “While coercive financial penalties are commonly assessed against corporate witnesses, which cannot be jailed for contempt, it is less usual to see them used against a human witness,” Manning’s attorneys stated.

      Manning was released from jail after 62 days on May 9. She was issued another subpoena prior to her release.

      A motion to quash the subpoena, as well as other filings, were submitted in federal court. In particular, Manning’s attorneys urged the court to review her claims of alleged unlawful surveillance and instruct the government to disclose what they know about the surveillance.

    • The Truth-Teller: From the Pentagon Papers to the Doomsday Machine

      That night, I saw President Lyndon Johnson and my boss, Secretary McNamara, knowingly lie to the public that North Vietnam had without provocation attacked the U.S. ship. In fact, the U.S. had covertly attacked North Vietnam the night before and on previous nights. Johnson and McNamara’s claim that the U.S. did not seek to widen the war was the exact opposite of reality. In short, the Gulf of Tonkin crisis was based on lies. I was not yet moved to leave government, though I had come to view U.S. military action as ineffective, illegitimate, and deadly, without rationale or endgame.

      By 1969, as the war progressed under Richard Nixon, I saw such evil in government deceit that I asked myself, “What can I do to shorten a war that I know from an insider’s vantage point is going to continue and expand?” When the Pentagon Papers were released in 1971, the extent of government lies shocked the public. The retaliatory crimes Nixon committed against me out of fear that I would expose his own continuing threats—including nuclear threats—ultimately helped to bring him down and shorten the Vietnam War. This outcome had seemed impossible after his landslide reelection in 1972.

      Today, similar revelations do not occasion equal shock because in the current administration in Washington, lying is routine rather than exceptional. Whether we are headed for a turning point toward bringing liars to justice will become clear when the investigations of President Donald Trump’s administration are concluded.

    • Three Ways Chicago’s City Council Keeps Its Committees Out of the Public Eye

      This week, we went deep into the inner workings of Chicago’s City Council and how its 16 legislative committees often fail to provide basic oversight of city government. Stories like this one by my colleague Mick Dumke provide a vital look at how an entrenched political system, based on favor-trading and loyalty, has not only cost taxpayers money but has allowed Chicago’s mayors to rule like monarchs.

      I encourage you to read the story to best understand the system as a whole (I often joke with Mick that his stories are the most difficult to summarize because they’re so “big-picture”). Below, I’ve excerpted some of Mick’s reporting that highlights how the committee system is kept out of the public eye and how some aldermen have thwarted efforts to increase transparency.

    • New details reported in investigation of disastrous Moscow airplane fire

      The Sukhoi Superjet 100 airplane that caught fire upon landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on May 5 did not accelerate during touchdown as previous reports had claimed, but it was carrying a 1.6-ton overload, presumably of fuel.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Robert Macfarlane backs vote for the Green Party in European election

      Highly successful nature writer Robert Macfarlane has tweeted his support for the Green Party in the European election.

    • Green Party action at St Pancras today: Call for affordable, convenient European train travel

      Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack will today (Saturday 18th of May) join London Young Greens to demand that train travel from London across Europe be made more convenient and cheaper.

      They will be protesting outside St Pancras station, calling for improvements in rail travel, rather than cutbacks. This follows the recent announcement that sales of relatively cheap “through” tickets to German, Austrian and Swiss destinations will end. (1)

      Amelia said: “Huge numbers of young people don’t want to fly but want to take advantage of the free movement now available to them as citizens of the European Union. It is possible to travel by train to and from most destinations in Europe, as Nobel Prize-nominee Swede Greta Thunberg showed on her recent visit to Britain.

    • The Interlocking Crises: War and Climate Chaos

      Climate change is the apex crisis of all time and the US military is the prime crisis multiplier.

      As we approach the horizon of climate disaster it certainly looks like the predatory phase of human history — of which war is just the most glaring example — is related to our predatory relationship with nature. At the center of the storm is the interlocking crisis of militarism and climate destruction.

      We will evolve beyond perpetual war and global empire or face climate chaos.

      The climate crisis is rooted in a set of interlocking institutions with a common cause of power over others and a shared strategy of violence, plunder and deception. The military is the linchpin, playing a pivotal role intensifying the climate crisis.

    • No Longer in the Dark: 300 Navajo Nation Homes Get Electricity

      Miranda Haskie sits amid the glow of candles at her kitchen table as the sun sinks into a deep blue horizon silhouetting juniper trees and a nearby mesa.

      Her husband, Jimmie Long, Jr., fishes for the wick to light a kerosene lamp as the couple and their 13-year-old son prepare to spend a final night without electricity.

      They’re waiting for morning, when utility workers who recently installed four electric poles outside their double-wide house trailer will connect it to the power grid, meaning they will no longer be among the tens of thousands of people without power on the Navajo Nation, the country’s largest American Indian reservation.

      Haskie and Long are getting their electricity this month thanks to a project to connect 300 homes with the help of volunteer utility crews from across the U.S.

      The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority typically connects from 400 to 450 homes a year, chipping away at the 15,000 scattered, rural homes without power on the 27,000-square-mile (43,000-square-kilometer) reservation that lies in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

    • Springtime in the New Normal of Climate Disruption

      As I write this, there is a large flaming orb in the sky. Either I am running a fever, or it is emitting heat. All the newly bloomed plants and leaves are reaching for it as if it provides some sort of sustenance. If I look at it, my eyes water and burn, and I see spots after I avert my gaze. I will stop looking at it, but I am afraid. Perhaps it is angry. Have I displeased it somehow?

      Oh, wait. Right. It’s the sun. I had forgotten all about it. Even as I complete this sentence, it is gone again. I may have only dreamed it. The soft whisper of rain has resumed, a seemingly ceaseless soundtrack for this sodden spring.

      It rained during 21 of April’s 30 days here in southwest New Hampshire, and it has rained during all but two days so far this May. Neither number accounts for cloudy days without rain, which has been the standard state of affairs for both this month and the last. The flowers and trees love it even despite the cold, raw air that will not relent. My little corner of the world is all green and gray, and appears ready to stay that way until October.

      Last Sunday, the Boston Globe ran an article about all the normal citywide springtime activities that have been upended by this diluvial season. Little League games, carousel rides on the Greenway down by the harbor, street festivals, outdoor movie showings and even the Duckling Day parade for kids at the public garden have been postponed, cancelled or just plain soaked into frustrated oblivion.

      [...]

      More importantly, Jamail told us to be fully present in nature right here and now, because we can still do that much at least. Absorb all that has been taken for granted, see it with new eyes made stern with hard wisdom. If you try to see it all for the first time, your eyes and your mind will not fail you. Recall the words of naturalist Rachel Carson, who asked, “What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?”

      Yeah, it’s raining. Maybe it will never stop. The trees are devouring it. In my life, I have never seen it so green here, so lush, like you could run your hand across the grass and have your palm painted with life itself. I see tiny white flowers nestled between the tufts, the soil smells like love, and even the diminished birdsong is symphonic in my newly trained ears. I can see Mt. Monadnock out my window looking like a gloomed emerald in the distance, altogether strange and glorious beneath the clouds.

    • Time to Follow the Green New Leaders

      Last week, the first state of emergency in what many British Columbians now just call “fire season” got underway. And yet, with her Ottawa riding weeks into an epic flooding emergency of its own, our federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change urged us not to move too fast. “Climate action is a marathon, not a sprint,” she declared in an op-ed.

      We were born 30 years apart, one of us a veteran filmmaker and organizer, the other a newly graduated environmental science student. We met through our mutual support of The Pact for a Green New Deal. And here’s something else we passionately agree on: given the decades of failure by governments of every stripe, the fight against the climate crisis is now a marathon that must be run at the speed of a sprint.

      We’re pretty sure that Catherine McKenna knows this too. In 2015, she helped ensure the Paris text included the goal of holding global warming to 1.5 C. She’s read the followup report that gives humanity 11 years to cut global emissions in half, or put hundreds of millions more people at risk of starvation and death from climate-driven disasters.

    • New Lawsuit Challenges Energy-Intensive ‘Disaster for Climate, Wildlife, and Colorado River Basin’

      A coalition of conservation groups filed a legal challenge this week to the Trump administration’s approval of what would be the nation’s first commercial-scale oil shale mine and processing facility—a fossil fuel project the groups say would run roughshod over the environment.

      At issue is Estonia-based Enefit American Oil’s strip-mining South Project for eastern Utah’s Uinta Basin.

      In their lawsuit (pdf) filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Utah, the organizations say that the administration violated the law in approving several rights of way for utilities across public lands to enable the company to construct and operate its proposed 50,000-barrel-per-day project.

    • Does the Climate Movement Really Mean What It Says?

      Why do so many in the climate movement invoke climate science to demand a target of 350 ppm carbon in the atmosphere—and then turn around and support legislation and candidates that fall far short of that demand?

      That’s what is happening in New York. A bill that says right in its text that its target is 450 ppm may be enacted in the current legislative session that ends on June 19 with the support of much of the climate movement.

      If New York were a nation-state, its $1.7 trillion GDP in 2018 made it the world’s 10th largest economy, tied with Canada and ahead of Russia. New York is the world’s premier financial and media center. What New York does on climate policy in the next month matters to the nation and the world.

    • “Get Your Endangered Species Off My Bombing Range!”

      Such problems are to be resolved by the DoD Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program. Among the threatening encroachments are lights from residential and commercial development that reduce the effectiveness of night-vision training; restrictions imposed because of noise, dust and smoke of military activities; civilian use of the frequency spectrum; communication towers, wind turbines, highways, and energy transmission lines; construction or drones that enable observation into sensitive mission areas; foreign ownership of adjacent properties; acoustic monitoring in sensitive Navy areas; development in an explosive stand-off buffering area or accident potential zones; and land development that pushes endangered species onto military lands.

      The program employs “buffer partnerships” that include the DoD, private conservation groups, universities, and state and local governments. Also involved, often as additional funders, are other federal departments: Homeland Security, Energy, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce; and agencies, for example, the Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). REPI regards these as “win-win partnerships,” as they share the cost of land or acquire easements to preserve compatible uses and natural habitats, without interfering with bombing or other essential training exercises. In addition to the helpful funding, the military can muster impressive influence over local development authorities, town councils, and adjacent landowners.

    • New Jersey’s $300 Million Nuclear Power Bailout Is Facing a Court Challenge. Does It Have a Chance?

      When the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved $300 million in subsidies last month for nuclear plants operated by the energy company PSEG, it wasn’t a surprise. The company had pumped millions into lobbying, and it threatened to close the facilities, which are seen as a vital piece of the state’s clean energy agenda.

      But some of the board members who voted for subsidies had openly questioned the need for them, echoing concerns expressed by the board’s staff and objections raised by utility watchdogs.

      Now, the unusual circumstances around the vote are the basis of a legal challenge by the state-appointed utility advocate, who says the subsidies — and the surcharge financing them — should be cut off.

      In an appeal filed on Wednesday in state court, Stefanie Brand, the state’s rate counsel, said that by ignoring its own staff experts and providing little basis for the amount of the surcharge, the board had violated the law.

      “It’s very unusual and inconsistent with the statute,” Brand said.

      But will that argument persuade a court?

    • As Climate Crisis Threatens, Does Ford Have Something to Hide About Its Stance on Emissions Regulations?

      With warnings about the climate crisis becoming more dire at every turn, it’s clear that we have to act. And fast. Shamefully, iconic American brands like Ford are not demonstrating leadership in the face of this problem, rather they have remained intransigent. This year, shareholders looking for a sign from company leadership that they are taking climate change into account when positioning the company for the long term likely were deeply disappointed by leadership’s lack of accountability at the company’s annual meeting earlier this month.

      In the Trump administration, Ford has found an enthusiastic deregulatory ally. Last August, the administration proposed flatlining Obama-era vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards (called clean car standards) and revoking a longstanding Clean Air Act provision that allows states to set their own tailpipe pollution standards to protect public health. The administration admits that its rollback would cut up to 60,000 U.S. jobs and by 2050, would cause 299 pollution-related deaths every year. Outside analysis indicates it would cost consumers hundreds of billions more at the pump and generate an additional 2.2 billion tons of carbon pollution. It would eviscerate the most effective climate change program we have.

      Shortly before the Trump administration proposed its rollback, Ford worked to distance itself from the administration’s announcement with deceptive statements claiming it supports the clean car standards.

    • Why I’m on Climate Strike in Iowa

      The flash flood alarm signaled again last night.

      This is the 9th week of my climate strike in Iowa City. That’s nine weeks of not going to school on Friday from 11:50-4:05. I have been striking for real climate action at the Iowa City Public School Building because I wanted to start at the place where I spend eight hours a day of my life.

      All of my life I have heard and talked about climate change. When I was a little kid I was always hearing about coal mining, the reason coal mining is so bad, and how the coal companies strip-mined my family’s 200-year-old farm. But that was the way things went where my family comes from in southern Illinois. It seemed hopeless.

    • Climate Change was No Accident

      Years ago, tobacco companies discovered the link between their products and lung cancer. Did they warn their customers? No — they denied the link entirely, misleading the public for decades while killing their customers.

      Similarly, ExxonMobil scientists made startlingly accurate predictions about climate change as early as 1982 — and then spent millions of dollars on a misinformation campaign to sow public doubt about climate change.

      They didn’t need to convince the public that the climate crisis wasn’t happening. They just had to muddy the waters enough to prevent us from doing anything.

      They provoked uncertainty: Maybe the climate crisis isn’t happening. And even if it is, maybe it’s not caused by humans burning fossil fuels. (Of course, it is happening and it is caused by humans.)

      The result was inaction.

      If we aren’t even sure that a human-caused climate crisis is afoot, why should we wean ourselves off of fossil fuels? It would be highly inconvenient and very expensive to go to all of that trouble unless we’re absolutely certain that we need to.

      After all, the argument went, “only” 97 percent of scientists believe that human are causing a climate crisis.

      I’m a scientist. Let me tell you, when 97 percent of scientists agree on anything, the evidence must be overwhelming.

    • I Oversaw the US Nuclear Power Industry. Now I Think It Should Be Banned.

      Nuclear power was supposed to save the planet. The plants that used this technology could produce enormous amounts of electricity without the pollution caused by burning coal, oil or natural gas, which would help slow the catastrophic changes humans have forced on the Earth’s climate. As a physicist who studied esoteric properties of subatomic particles, I admired the science and the technological innovation behind the industry. And by the time I started working on nuclear issues on Capitol Hill in 1999 as an aide to Democratic lawmakers, the risks from human-caused global warming seemed to outweigh the dangers of nuclear power, which hadn’t had an accident since Chernobyl, 13 years earlier.

      By 2005, my views had begun to shift.

      I’d spent almost four years working on nuclear policy and witnessed the influence of the industry on the political process. Now I was serving on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where I saw that nuclear power was more complicated than I knew; it was a powerful business as well as an impressive feat of science. In 2009, President Barack Obama named me the agency’s chairman.

    • Grabby Joe and the Problem of Environmental Decline

      The American political establishment seems determined to go down in flames and take the rest of the world with it. Under the delusion that neoliberal, neoconservative corpse-in-waiting Uncle Joe Biden is ‘what voters want,’ the Democratic Party has once again substituted marketing logic for a political program. On the plus side, Grabby Joe’s ‘Make America Moral Again’ harkens back to the year 1492, or thereabouts, through its allusion to an earlier period in which it might have been applicable. In the detriment column, yet another well researched report has been released documenting catastrophic environmental decline, suggesting that the citizens of the world don’t have time for this nonsense.

      With the ascension of Mr. Biden as hair-transplant-apparent of the Democratic Party, the groundwork is being laid to return the nation to the militaristic, oligarchic state where the whims of capital determine the realm of political possibility. Should this sound vaguely familiar, like not at all a departure from the current state of affairs, you may be on to something. However, ‘our’ increasingly ossified political culture is targeted in its non-response. Of current interest is Mr. Biden’s bold plan to deny four decades of climate science through environmental inaction.

      Lest the impression be conveyed that he really has no plan, Mr. Biden intends to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and work for higher vehicle emission standards. For the young, and the young at heart, this is the type of non-plan that allows the illiberal bourgeois to sleep well at night secure in the knowledge that Dad will be bringing gifts home from his trip to enslave the subcontinent. It’s almost as if Democrats have yet to acknowledge their own role in the rise of Donald J. Mussolini-Hitler. (The hyphen is a nod to his years spent sleeping through class at prestigious universities). Here Democrats can stand tall with Mr. Biden’s classier grabbage.

    • America’s Roadless Rules are Not Protecting Public Wildlands From Development

      Four percent of the nation’s forested public wildlands remain undeveloped today. These landscapes are either designated wilderness or lands that qualify for designation. Many lands not protected as wilderness are called roadless areas. There are approximately 60 million acres of unprotected roadless lands on our national forests. They provide crucial fish and wildlife habitat and support some of the richest biodiversity in our country. Roadless areas also offer a spectrum of recreation opportunities and drinking water for millions of Americans.

      The federal government established the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule in response to the potential development of these roadless landscapes and vast public sentiment calling for their protection. Public outcry resulted in over 600 meetings throughout the country and over 1.5 million comments — the vast majority of which supported permanent protection.

      Idaho then petitioned the Bush Administration for a separate rule, and the federal government obliged by developing one. This resulted in the 2008 Idaho Roadless Rule, which established a controversial five-theme approach to how America’s wildlands could be managed in Idaho. Four of five themes imposed fewer road building and logging restrictions than the national rule, resulting in 84% of the state’s roadless base (9 million acres) vulnerable to development. The Idaho Roadless Rule is a gift to the timber industry.

      Friends of the Clearwater, a forest watch group in Moscow, Idaho, just published a well-researched report titled “The Roadless Report: Analyzing the Impacts of Two Roadless Rules on Forested Wildlands.” According to the agency’s own preliminary data, the U.s. Forest Service has authorized the development of 40,000-50,000 acres of roadless wildlands in Idaho and Montana combined. Surprisingly, more logging has occurred in Montana than Idaho, despite the narrow exceptions in the national rule that permits such development. The broad permissions in the Idaho rule could change that in the near future.

    • Texas State Bill Would Make Protesting Pipelines a Felony on Par With Attempted Murder

      H.B. 3557, which is under consideration in the state Senate after passing the state House earlier this month, ups penalties for interfering in energy infrastructure construction by making the protests a felony. Sentences would range from two to 10 years.

      The legislation was authored by Republican state Rep. Chris Paddie. It passed the state House May 7 on a 99 to 45 vote, with two abstentions. The bill is being cosponsored in the state Senate by Republican state Sen. Pat Fallon.

      In remarks on the state House floor during the bill’s passage, Paddie sought to assuage the fears of those who believe the legislation will target non-violent protest.

      “This bill does not affect those who choose to peacefully protest for any reason,” said Paddie. “It attaches liability to those who potentially damage or destroy critical infrastructure facilities.”

      But opponents of the measure don’t agree, pointing to the bill’s language.

      “It’s an anti-protest bill, favoring the fossil fuel industry, favoring corporations over people,” Frankie Orona, executive director of the Society of Native Nations, told The Austin American-Statesman.

      The legislation is “is criminalizing conscientious, caring people who are the canaries for their communities,” activist Lori Glover told The Texas Observer.

    • Delegislating Wilderness

      I maintain many designated areas in the United States no longer meet the definition of the 1964 Wilderness Act and must be delegislated if the impacts of industrial recreation are not controlled to maintain an untrammeled state. These controls can only the placed by the Federal government from the consent of the governed, a difficult task as both capitalism and anarchistic freedom, collectively known as ‘Natural Rights,’ colludes with the myth of environmental education’s role in self control.

      A recent spate of Instagram is ruining the outdoors pieces have a central theme that geotagging locations increases visitation and natural/cultural resource impacts. The counter from the aggrieved ‘influencers’ who work alongside the Outdoor Industry Association (and who describe themselves as public lands advocates) has been that white men are gatekeeping, recreation is inherently a virtue and all we need is more infrastructure and education to accommodate more people, a failed refrain with no mention whatsoever of the Rights of Nature to exist unmolested.

  • Finance

    • Cannes: Amazon Studios Buys ‘Les Misérables’

      The sale comes following the movie’s world premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday evening, where it earned sterling reviews from critics who were dazzled by Ly’s look at a life in the projects. Netflix was also believed to be pursuing the film, with insiders pegging the final price for the pic at $1.5 million. It’s a major sale for a small French-language movie, an achievement that’s all the more remarkable, given that it marks Ly’s feature-length narrative film debut.

    • Foxconn Still Trying To Tap Dance Around Its Ever-Shrinking Wisconsin Promises

      If you hadn’t noticed by now, Trump and Paul Ryan’s once-heralded Foxconn factory deal in Wisconsin quickly devolved into farce. The state originally promised Taiwan-based Foxconn a $3 billion state subsidy if the company invested $10 billion in a Wisconsin LCD panel plant that created 13,000 jobs. But as the subsidy grew to $4.5 billion the promised factory began to shrink further and further, to the point where nobody at this point is certain that anything meaningful is going to get built at all.

      Reports last fall detailed the ever-shrinking nature of the deal, highlighting how Foxconn was using nonsense to justify its failure to follow through, showing that while the company hadn’t built much of anything meaningful in the state, it was still routinely promising to deploy a “AI 8K+5G ecosystem” in the state to somehow make everything better. Those empty buzzwords were accompanied by the promise of fully staffed “innovation centers” around the state.

    • Elon Musk Email To Tesla Employees: “Curb Your Spending”

      The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, along with the company’s CFO Zach Kirkhorn, recently raised around $2.7 billion dollars at an Investor call. During the event, Musk was confident that his company would become a $500 billion giant with the help of self-driving technology as it’d help Tesla cars appreciate in value.

      However, things are a little different behind the scenes. In an email that Elon Musk sent to his employees, the dire situation with Tesla was visible. Elon Musk has taken it upon himself to personally make sure that the spending of every one of his employees is under control.

    • Debunking Myths About Wealth and Race

      I don’t get that much hate mail — except when I write about race.

      This spring I coauthored a report called “Ten Solutions to Bridge the Racial Wealth Divide.” My coauthors and I found that the median white family today owns 41 times more wealth than the median black family and 22 times more wealth than the median Latinx family.

      To fix it, we proposed new public programs, changes to the tax code, and a commission to study reparations for slavery, among other things.

      The floodgates opened. My inbox, along with many comment sections at news outlets and on social media, overflowed with angry objections. Most of these blamed the wealth divide on poor individual decision making by people of color.

      Are black families are 41 times worse at decision making than white families? No — that’s a racist falsehood.

      In fact, here are the three most common racist falsehoods I heard about the wealth divide — with data to explain why they’re wrong. Feel free to bust this out at your next family get-together.

    • Our Problems are Deeper than “Capitalism” (and “Socialism” Alone Can’t Solve Them)

      Complaints about “capitalism” have become more common the last few years in the United States. This has been a welcome development. Anytime the collective perspective is widened, it’s beneficial to at least some degree. In a complementary way, calls for “socialism” have also become more frequent.

      We can credit these trends to social conditions. First, as such conditions have worsened by several measures — such as those that track economic factors and health statistics — more people have been willing to question the status quo. As the system falters, the number of folks no longer willing to play along goes up.

      Secondly, some credit is due to the activists, scholars, artists, etc., who have kept fringe ideas alive through the times that were leaner philosophically (though wealthier financially). Occasional eruptions of activity have provided necessary exercise for these ideas, such as the turn of the century Anti-Globalization movement, and Occupy.

      However, I put “capitalism” and “socialism” in quotation marks for a reason. The main issues that have been raised — income inequality (including falling wages and rising executive compensation) and a disintegrating social safety net (like lack of access to affordable healthcare, housing and education) — are grievances with Neoliberalism,* and the principal solutions, especially as enumerated in the Green New Deal (the Democratic party version) — such as increased government action and spending to create jobs, redistribute wealth and provide essential services — would not be Socialism, per se, but rather a return to, and ramping up of, Keynesianism.

      This is not about splitting hairs. This is about getting to the root of the matter.

    • Catalysts of Destruction

      Hans Christian Andersen is the Danish writer best remembered for children’s stories like “The Little Mermaid” and “Thumbelina,” but the only thing childlike about “The Snow Queen” is that the main characters are children. Beyond that, it is a disturbingly dark tale and it’s questionable that a “grown-up” version is even necessary. It starts when a demon manufactures a mirror that “had the power of making everything good or beautiful that was reflected in it almost shrink to nothing, while everything that was worthless and bad looked increased in size and worse than ever.” The mirror breaks into a million pieces and is blown across the world by the wind and whoever gets but a small sliver in their eye, or more disastrously their heart, falls under its wicked spell. In Andersen’s tale, a young boy named Kay gets a shard in his eye and the roses he used to admire with his little friend Gerda now look hideous. Under its spell, Kay is entranced and the Snow Queen whisks him away to her kingdom. Gerda goes on a mission to rescue him.

      Lauren B. Davis hews closely to Andersen’s story in “The Grimoire of Kensington Market,” her modern, adult retelling of “The Snow Queen.” To start, Davis homes in on the dark corners of the original and substitutes the curse of the broken pieces of mirror with the addiction to a magical drug called elysium, which inhaled through a pipe brings the user into an instant state of blind, blissful euphoria. And like the shards of glass in the original story, elysium “demanded a price for the beautiful visions. It burrowed into your darkest crannies—your memories, your heart—and found the things you feared, the things of which you were ashamed, and dragged them out into the world, first in dreams, and then in hallucinations.” Those under its addictive spell are called Pipers, and they are instantly recognizable by the silver swirls that appear on their skin.

      Just as in Andersen’s tale, a girl is rescuing a boy. In Davis’ adaptation, the girl is a young woman named Maggie, a recovering elysium addict herself. She looks after The Grimoire, the magical bookstore of the title, where books magically appear as a new story is told somewhere in the world and where the same books can disappear, if a story is forgotten. Maggie had stumbled through its doors years ago when she hit rock bottom and the bookstore and its owner, Mr. Mustby, had been her salvation. One day Maggie receives a cryptic message from her brother Kyle, who is still suffering from his addiction to elysium. A drug dealer has apparently taken Kyle deep into her lair in a place called The Forest, and now Maggie must travel into the lion’s den to save him, before he succumbs to elysium permanently.

    • Trotsky, Bukharin and the Eco-Modernists

      It seems that this kind of ecomodernism is contagious. To some extent, it is simply an adaptation to the capitalist system. Despite the ultraleft, Promethean language about harnessing technology to save the planet, it is essentially a defense of the status quo.

    • Citing Harm to Public Education, Bernie Sanders Calls for Ban on For-Profit Charter Schools

      “Charter schools are led by unaccountable, private bodies, and their growth has drained funding from the public school system.”

    • Bernie Sanders Unveils ‘A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education’

      Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday unveiled the public education plan for his 2020 presidential campaign, calling for “a transformative investment in our children, our teachers, and our schools, and a fundamental re-thinking of the unjust and inequitable funding of our public education system.”

      The senator’s “Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education” is named for the lawyer who successfully argued Brown v. Board of Education—the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that made racial segregation of public schools unconstitutional in 1954—before he joined the court as its first black justice more than a decade later.

      Recalling Marshall’s words from a dissenting opinion for Milliken v. Bradley—a case the high court ruled on in 1974—Sanders tweeted Saturday that he aims to “guarantee every person in our country a quality education as a fundamental human right.”

    • Progressives Demand House Dems Hold Mnuchin in Contempt for Defying Subpoena for Trump’s Tax Returns

      Progressive groups on Friday called on House Democrats to hold Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a subpoena for President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

      Last week, as Common Dreams reported, after Mnuchin repeatedly rejected lawmakers’ request for six years of Trump’s tax returns, the House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed both Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

      Mnuchin maintained his position in a one-page letter (pdf) to the committee’s chairman, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), on Friday, writing that the Justice Department has determined that “the committee’s request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

    • Six regional legislators in Russia report incomes below a living wage

      Russian regional legislators are required to submit income reports every year by April 1. This year, 60 of the country’s deputies reported receiving an income in 2018 that was lower than Russia’s nominal subsistence wage, RBC reported. Eleven deputies reported receiving no income at all.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • [Older] Who owns the law?

      In writing that article we cataloged the status of copyright assertions and publishing arrangements for the court opinions, statutory codes and administrative codes of all 50 states [links here and here, and we hope to make a more usable/readable version of this data soon]. We found that at least 20 states, in addition to Georgia, make some type of copyright assertion over their official statutory code. Many others make claims regarding their administrative codes and judicial opinions. Some of those assertions result in what seem like amusing oddities—for example, one must contractually agree to arbitration in New York to obtain free online access to the Arkansas code—but that have also resulted in real legal battles that can have a chilling effect on access and use.

      So what can we do? Our paper has some suggestions, specifically for law libraries, state legislatures, and the courts. But ultimately, the solution is likely as complicated and localized as the 50+ jurisdictions that produce the law. In the short term, pay attention to the Public.Resource.Org case before the U.S. Supreme Court. And if you’re a law student, solo practitioner, or legal educator, there is an awesome opportunity to join an amicus brief before that court in support of Public.Resource.Org, asking the court to take the case (but you’ll have to act fast; signatures are due by May 2).

    • Ajit Pai Warned Lying to Congress Is Bad

      Warning FCC Chairman Ajit Pai that “lying to Congress is a federal crime,” Congresswoman Anna Eshoo wrote there existed a “chasm” between what Pai told the committee and what Eshoo herself heard from other FCC officials following the meeting.

      Eshoo has pressed Pai for details about a purportedly ongoing investigation at the commission into the apparently unlawful sale of phone-location data to individuals and organizations with no legitimate reason to have it; a black market comprised of public and private businesses known only thanks to reporting at Motherboard and the New York Times, which triggered alarms up and down Capitol Hill.

    • Will Democratic Party Elites Dictate Its Primaries Again?

      A few months ago, an online message to Democratic registrants from the National Democratic Training Committee featured a 2020 election ticket of Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke. It asked what we thought of this “winning” 2020 pair.

      As a campaigner for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election, I was outraged by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the National Democratic Training Committee’s parent organization, lofting a trial balloon to subliminally embed its candidate choices on us more than a year before primaries.

      The Training Committee’s online pitch serves as a reminder that Americans have been denied the power of choosing candidates by the machinations of the party’s ruling class since the country’s founding. Like the DNC’s choice of Hillary Clinton for 2016, these party elites consider all of us a dangerous “basket of deplorables.”

      So it’s not surprising that despite Bernie Sanders then being listed as the most trusted and most popular political candidate in the country by many progressive pundits, Biden’s name was in that online poll. He’s always been one of the DNC’s elite, as the “Wall Street Joe” nickname suggests about the former vice president. None of the other candidates, it seemed, were able to qualify for that Training Committee’s consideration. Even after Biden officially became a nominee, a Harvard-Harris poll on May 1 showed Sanders’s favorable rating at 49 percent to Biden’s 52 percent by its 1,536 respondents.

    • Legal highs and crazy fools

      Some people have such a way with words, especially US presidents.

      These are my two personal favourites, priceless for different reasons, from Trump and Obama.

    • Springtime for Biden and Democrats

      Summertime is coming; the “debate” season is near. It will not taper off on until the primaries and party caucuses get underway. What a dreary prospect! Take heart, though, in the fact that, in this post-midterms world, with the Zeitgeist moving boldly and unashamedly to the left, some good could come of it.

      Also, if Joe Biden is still anything like a frontrunner by the time the debates get underway, they could be useful for damage control as well.

      Four years ago, when all the action was on the Republican side, the debates were hardly edifying. They did have some redeeming comedic value, however; they were low-grade goon shows that licensed liberal commentators to give their snarky sides free rein. That could be fun to watch.

      Some of those commentators had been practicing their moves since even before 2008. They were amusing at first, just as it was amusing, years ago, to see Rachel Maddow take twenty minutes to make some obvious or asinine twenty second point. But that gets old fast. Thus, by the time Trump had vanquished each and every rival, the Republican debates were nothing more than pathetic.

      This year, with Democrats going at it, the debates should be easier to bear for those of us who would like to see serious some politics in them. But it won’t all be sweetness and light. Trump will haunt the spectacles to come. He has that effect; he makes everything worse.

      But not to despair — with some twenty or more Democrats vying for their party’s nomination, nearly all of them running to the left of the dead center, there is reason to expect those debates to improve the national conversation and therefore, ultimately, the Democratic Party itself.

    • Social Carrying Capacity Politspeak Bamboozle

      As a scholar and social scientist I get annoyed when concepts are deployed for partisan purposes without regard for intellectual integrity. Having said that, I suspect that most politicians would find my distress silly, which is to be expected of a breed that exists to promote partisan ends using whatever rhetoric serves the immediate purpose. More to the point, politicians specialize in propaganda, one definition of which is: “Official government communications to the public that are designed to influence opinion. The information may be true or false, but it is always carefully selected for its political effect.” So, politspeak, in the spirit of Politburos and other perversions of public service.

      But I expect something quite different from public servants working for administrative agencies. These people are tasked with implementing legislated policy as honestly and faithfully as possible, and, through that, maximizing benefits for the broader public they serve. Policy-relevant information is to be obtained, used, and communicated openly, with as little prejudice as possible. In other words, public communications by folks working for government bureaus should not be in the form of propaganda—not politspeak, at least in a democratic society, at least ideally.

    • New York City’s Early Voting Plan Will Favor White, Affluent Voters, Advocacy Groups Say

      An analysis from three advocacy groups has found that New York City’s plan for early voting for the 2020 national elections is grossly inadequate and, as designed, will favor white, affluent voters.

      The New York Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause New York and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law this week sent a letter to the New York City Board of Elections decrying plans to staff 38 early voting locations in a city with some 5 million registered voters. The letter also claimed that the placement of the locations — seven in both Staten Island and Queens — “will impose a severe burden on many of the City’s low-income voters, particularly those who work long or inflexible hours and face transportation challenges, who are disproportionately minority residents.”

    • Australia’s Ruling Coalition Elected to Surprise Third Term

      Australia’s ruling conservative coalition won a surprise victory in the country’s general election on Saturday, defying opinion polls that had tipped the center-left opposition party to oust it from power and promising an end to the revolving door of national leaders.

      Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten conceded defeat late in the evening as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal Party-led coalition came close to a majority in the 151-seat House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to form a government. Vote counting was to continue on Sunday.

      “It is obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government and so, in the national interest, a short while ago, I called Scott Morrison to congratulate him,” Shorten told distraught Labor supporters.

      The tight race raised the prospect of the coalition forming a minority government. The conservatives became a rare minority government after they dumped Malcolm Turnbull for Morrison in an internal power struggle last August. The government then lost two seats and its single-seat majority as part of the blood-letting that followed.

    • Democrats still don’t want to impeach: It’s time for the people to force their hand

      Every presidential scandal has at least one memorable line that everyone recognizes immediately. Nixon had “I am not a crook,” while Bill Clinton will be forever remembered for “I did not have sex with that woman.” We’re still in the middle of the Russia scandal but I’d bet money that the line that will be most remembered is from the Mueller report, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions told President Trump that a special counsel had been appointed. He slumped in his chair and said, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”

      We don’t know at this moment whether that will have led to the end of his presidency or not. But it tells you something important about Trump’s mindset. This investigation had him in despair from the very beginning. In fact, we now know that he was so anxious about it that he spent the next year and a half secretly obstructing justice in a dozen different ways, publicly trashing everyone involved in it and destroying the reputations of the FBI and the Department of Justice. Whether that reflected his guilt over his behavior in the Russia matter or concern that the FBI was turning over other rocks he’d rather not be touched is still unknown. But these were not the actions of an innocent man.

      Mueller’s report validated all the reporting we’ve seen coming out of Trump’s leaky ship over these past two years, showing a president in over his head, consumed with the investigation, obviously rattled and off-balance, feeling that he was “fucked” one way or the other. He was nervous then and he’s even more nervous now that the investigations have moved to the House. After all, Mueller’s operation was secret. Congress operates in public.

      Trump may not know much, but he knows the power of television and he’s used it very effectively. He knows that public hearings will be blockbusters, particularly those featuring Robert Mueller and former White House counsel Don McGahn. The AP reported that the president “stewed for days” over the prospect of Mueller’s testimony since he believes the special counsel has been “unfairly lionized” by the media, and knows Mueller hasn’t spoken in public since he was given the assignment.

    • It’s Even More Terrible Than You Thought

      Liberal journalist and author David Cay Johnston, a frequent cable news commentator, was right to title his 2018 book on the Trump presidency “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America.” Trump is a creeping fascist train-wreck – an authoritarian disaster whose lawyer recently argued in federal court that Congress has no right to investigate wrongdoing by the President of the United States (take that, Watergate heroes and Whitewater fans!).

      But it’s even worse than Johnston and his admiring CNN and MSNBC interviewers and co-panelists want us to know. The Democrats were neoliberal partners in Trump’s ascent; now they seem determined to ensure the second term of a presidency that could ring the death knell for what’s left of U.S.-American democracy. Loathe to impeach the impeachment-worthy Trump since they think (correctly perhaps) that action would enhance his chances for re-election in 2020, establishment Democrats are working hard again, as in 2015-16, to undermine the presidential candidacy of the Democratic contender who is most able and ready to rally the disadvantaged constituencies who will have to turn out if the orange monster is going to be removed by ballot in 2020.

      That candidate is the neo-New Deal progressive-populist Bernie Sanders. He is the target of a multi-pronged “Stop Sanders” movement within the Democratic Party and across its many establishment media and non-profit outposts. This reactionary operation includes at least ten related lines of attack:

      +1. Flooding the primary campaign with such an absurdly large number of candidates that Sanders will likely be unable to garner the majority of primary delegates required for a first-ballot nomination at the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.

      +2. Coordination among the Democratic Convention superdelegates—the more than 350 county and state party bosses and elected officials who are granted delegate status without election—to vote as a bloc to stop Sanders on the convention’s second ballot. (These superdelegates exist precisely for the purpose of blocking challengers to the party’s corporate establishment.)

      +3. Ongoing efforts to change state party elections from caucuses to primaries, as caucuses are friendlier to progressive challengers. (Sanders won 11 of the nation’s 18 caucus states three years ago.)

    • Europe’s Far-Right Parties Target Youth Vote

      They are strikingly young, but emphatic that they should not be considered newcomers. Rather, they are claiming the mantle of Old Europe at its most traditional.

      Several of this year’s far-right candidates in Europe are well under the age of 30 — just like some of their most ardent supporters. In Belgium, the telegenic Dries Van Langenhove, who is among the top picks on the list for the far-right party Vlaams Belang, is 26. In France, the head of the far-right National Rally slate for the upcoming European Parliament elections is 23 and has been a card-carrying party member since the age of 16. In Denmark, the lead candidate from the Danish People’s Party is a 29-year-old who is already a veteran campaigner. And in Spain, the chief spokesman for the Vox party is 27 and was elected to parliament last month.

      These candidates are part of a growing attempt by Europe’s far-right parties to gear their anti-migration, euroskeptic message to the young, with everything from beer nights for adults and bouncy castles for kids to an outsized presence on social media, the Associated Press has found. Young European voters are responding with a rightward shift sometimes faster and farther than their elders — as illustrated by voting results or party rolls from Italy, France, Spain and Austria.

      The trend could have major implications for this month’s elections , which decide the makeup of the European Parliament as well as some national governments, as in Belgium.

    • ‘Game of Thrones,’ an American Parable

      Even if you’re one of the few television viewers not watching “Game of Thrones,” you’re probably at least dimly aware of Dany and her dragons. From the merch to the memes to the rising number of babies who bear her name, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is undoubtedly the most talked-about character on the show, her journey from meek and abused teen bride to conquering queen endearing her to the show’s most devoted fans. In an op-ed for New York Magazine last month, Massachussetts Sen. and 2020 Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren called her “my favorite from the first moment she walked through fire.”

    • Austria to See Early Election After Scandal

      Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for an early election after his vice chancellor resigned over a covertly shot video that showed him apparently promising government contracts to a prospective Russian investor.

      Kurz said he would ask President Alexander Van der Bellen to set a date for a new election “as soon as possible.”

    • Bill de Blasio Can’t Run for President as a Progressive If He Doesn’t Fire Daniel Pantaleo

      Bill de Blasio cannot possibly run for president as a progressive. In 2014, after years of Republican mayors, de Blasio ran on a criminal justice platform, was elected, and promised to be a transformational, progressive mayor for America’s largest and most diverse city. In my 25 years as a criminal justice reformer and organizer, I can tell you that he has not lived up to that promise.

      When de Blasio started as mayor, there was hope that he would enact meaningful criminal justice reform in New York City. But de Blasio slowly but surely backpedalled on this promise over the years. Nothing is more representative of this than how de Blasio has handled the case of Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

      Despite knowing we have a criminal justice system that refuses to punish white officers and having seen indisputable video evidence that Eric Garner was killed by a chokehold, the mayor has not yet fired Daniel Pantaleo, instead waiting on the CCRB to make that decision for him. Pantaleo is a City Employee and under the mayor’s jurisdiction. He has and has always had the legal authority and moral obligation to fire Daniel Pantaleo.

    • Hedge Fund Billionaires Were Democrats’ Main Bankrollers in 2018

      In the 2018 midterms, Democrats benefited more than Republicans from election spending by outside groups for the first time in recent history. Now, thanks to a new report from Public Citizen, we have a better understanding of where much of that money backing Democrats came from: wealthy individuals who earn their livings as hedge fund founders, bank executives, and other key positions in the financial industry.

      The report, named “Plutocrat Politics: How Financial Sector Wealth Fuels Political Ad Spending” and authored by Public Citizen’s Alan Zibel, analyzed the 100 individuals who gave the most money to outside political spending groups in the 2018 cycle and found that about half of that money came from people with financial industry backgrounds. Roughly three-quarters of the money donated by financial industry donors was spent supporting Democratic candidates. The finance industry donors in the top 100 gave $264 million to Democrat-supporting outside groups in 2017-18, according to the report.

      “By lavishing spending on both Republicans and Democrats, the ultrawealthy receive access and influence to block the aggressive, progressive policy agenda that Americans favor by overwhelming margins,” Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said in a press statement. “Our democracy can’t function if the plutocrat class maintains an iron grip on American election campaigns.”

      While donations to outside spending groups backing Democrats was dominated by individuals from the financial industry, donations to outside groups supporting Republicans came from donors connected to a wider range of industries.

      “The financial industry represented 74 percent of funding for pro-Democrat outside spending efforts, followed by inherited wealth (8 percent), technology (6 percent) media (5.5 percent) and real estate (3 percent),” reads the report. “The sources of funding for pro-Republican outside spending efforts reflected far more industries, including gambling (41 percent), finance (25 percent), industrial supply and distribution (13 percent), energy (6 percent) and technology (2.6 percent).”

    • Elizabeth Warren Was Smart to Tell FOX to Go to Hell

      Elizabeth Warren’s decision to turn down an invitation from FOX News to appear on a town hall event has become something of a controversy on the left. It seems odd but there seem to be a not insignificant number of people who believe that Warren, and anyone really, should simply jump at the opportunity to go on FOX and, I don’t know, convert the right wing audience to a more humane politics? Perhaps it’s to establish some baseline of sanity within the discourse on the right? Simple strategy to challenge right-wing talking points on every platform possible?

      While it’s probably all of the above and then some, there is something rather revealing in these reactions, something that often goes unacknowledged in the incestuous and insular world of online punditry on the left: That many of these people literally do not understand the basic facts of the situation that inform Warren’s decision, and instead simply denounce it based on mostly nothing.

    • What Happens When Conspiracy Theories Go Mainstream?

      Conspiracy theories can seem so absurd they’re almost funny: major politicians are actually 12-foot lizard people, the U.S. government was responsible for 9/11, the fluoride in our drinking water is there not to strengthen our teeth, but to control our minds. It’s easy to dismiss such ideas as nonsense.

      Sometimes, however, theories escape the confines of online message boards and social media and turn dangerous, even fatal. No one laughed when a man named Edgar Welch drove from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., and fired shots at innocent people in a pizzeria because he was a “believer in Pizzagate,” a theory spread by people like right-wing radio show host Alex Jones that Hillary Clinton and her close advisers ran a pedophilia ring out of the pizzeria’s basement. There also was no laughter when James Alex Fields drove his car into a crowd at a 2017 white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Va., killing anti-racist protester Heather Heyer.

      As journalist Anna Merlan explains in her new book, “Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power,” “While conspiracy theories are as old as the country itself, there is something new at work: people who peddle lies and half-truths have come to prominence, fame, and power as never before,” thanks to the Trump administration’s outward embrace of some of their biggest boosters.

    • 2020 Elections: It’s Militarism and the Military Budget Stupid!

      U.S. ships are involved in provocative “freedom of navigation” exercises in the South China Sea and other ships gather ominously in the Mediterranean Sea while National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo along with convicted war criminal Elliot Abrams conspire to save the people of Venezuela with another illegal “regime change” intervention. But people are drawn to the latest adventures of Love and Hip-Hop, the Mueller report, and Game of Thrones. In fact, while millions can recall with impressive detail the proposals and strategies of the various players in HBO’s latest saga, they can’t recall two details about the pending military budget that will likely pass in Congress with little debate, even though Trump’s budget proposal represents another obscene increase of public money to the tune of $750 billion.

      This bipartisan rip-off could not occur without the willing collusion of the corporate media, which slants coverage to support the interests of the ruling elite or decides to just ignore an issue like the ever-expanding military budget.

      The effectiveness of this collusion is reflected in the fact that not only has this massive theft of public money not gotten much coverage in the mainstream corporate media, but also it only received sporadic coverage in the alternative media. The liberal-left media is distracted enough by the theatrics of the Trump show to do the ideological dirty work of the elites.

      Spending on war will consume almost 70% of the budget and be accompanied by cuts in public spending for education, housing, the environment, public transportation, jobs trainings, food support programs like food stamps and Meals on Wheels, as well as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Most of the neoliberal candidates running in the Democratic Party’s electoral process, however, haven’t spoken a word in opposition to Trump’s budget.

    • Can Jerry Nadler Take Down Trump?

      Having been a journalist for 57 years now, I’ve gotten to know many public officials. The smartest person in politics I’ve ever known—and I’ve told this to folks for years—is U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler. In Jerry Nadler, chairman of the key panel now investigating President Donald Trump and his administration, Mr. Trump has a quite an adversary.

      “Jerry Nadler Was Born to Battle Trump,” was the headline of an article this month in The New Republic. It concluded speaking about his “mandate to counter the momentum toward autocracy and to shore up democratic institutions and practices under siege.”

      “We’re now in a Constitutional crisis,” Mr. Nadler has just declared, accusing Mr. Trump with his claims of executive privilege of an attack on the “essence of our democracy.”

      Mr. Nadler has been in Congress since 1992. He represents much of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. From 1977 to 1992 he was a member of the New York State Assembly.

      I got to know Congressman Nadler in the 1990s when I authored books, wrote articles and presented TV documentaries on the use of nuclear power in space by the U.S. and also the Soviet Union and then Russia. A decade earlier, in 1986, I broke the story in The Nation after the Challenger space shuttle disaster about how its next mission was to loft a space probe containing plutonium fuel. If the Challenger exploded on that launch, in May 1986, and the plutonium was dispersed, far more people than the seven brave astronauts who died in the January 1986 catastrophe would have perished.

    • Analysis of Undecideds Suggests Biden’s Support May be Exaggerated

      A strong plurality of voters, 8-12% more than prefer Joe Biden first, are undecided ahead of the 2020 Democratic primary according to a YouGov Blue poll fielded and released quietly after Joe Biden’s entry into the race. YouGov’s partner, Data for Progress, helpfully took the rare step of releasing the raw data for the poll when it was published online at Rolling Stone last week. Dem primary voters with no first choice made up 33.8% in the raw sample, 30% as I have weighted the poll to match age, gender, and race/ethnicity data from the 2016 Democratic primary.* Meanwhile, just 21.4% in the raw sample, 22.4% by my weighting, selected Biden first.

      A number of other polls have put Democratic undecided figures between 20% and 35% over the last month: USC (27%), Monmouth (20%), Ipsos/Reuters (21%), ABC/Washington Post (35%), all nationally, and then the state polls from Suffolk in New Hampshire (27%), Firehouse/Øptimus in South Carolina (20%), andTel Opinion Research in Florida (28%). Several polling firms simply do not report undecideds, culling them from the sample before reporting on decided voters, while others press initially undecided respondents hard for which way they are leaning. CNN (7%) and Quinnipiac (8%) represent the very lowest end of those reporting undecided numbers.

      As I have argued previously, in accurately projecting the 2017 United Kingdom general election, undecided voters matter enormously. Simply excluding them, particularly when they are large in number, is a way to artificially boost the leading candidate or party.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Last Days at Hot Slit—A Review

      In my 2016 book Porn Panic!, I traced today’s anti-free speech, identity-preoccupied Left back to its roots in the pro-censorship, anti-sex feminism of the 1970s/80s and, in particular, to the writing of Dworkin and her sister-in-arms Catharine Mackinnon. Although I dealt in passing with Dworkin’s writing, as well as works from the contemporaneous liberal feminists who opposed her, I opted to focus more on her successors, especially Gail Dines, a Women’s Studies professor who has established herself as one of today’s preeminent campaigners for the censorship of sexual expression. At a time when feminism seems to be moving in an increasingly censorious direction, a new anthology of Dworkin’s writing, Last Days at Hot Slit, published earlier this year, offers a useful insight into the writing and thinking of one of the movement’s most influential, radical, and controversial writers.

    • Trump’s Social Media Bias Survey Is a Craven Data Collection Ploy

      It’s also not clear where the data is stored or who has access to it. The site isn’t even hosted on a government server, but was created with Typeform, a Spain-based web tool that lets anyone set up simple surveys.

    • Bangladesh: New Arrests Over Social Media Posts

      Bangladesh authorities made a series of new arrests in their crackdown on the right to free speech, Human Rights Watch said today. The arrests were based on vague charges such as “hurting religious sentiment” or undermining “law and order.”

      Those arrested include Abdul Kaium, a human rights activist; Henry Sawpon, a well-known poet; and Imtiaz Mahmood, a lawyer. All three were detained and charged under section 57 of the draconian Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Act or its more abusive successor, the Digital Security Act 2018.

    • Has Freedom of the Press Become an Illusion?

      “How can you have a free press if you don’t have free sources?” asks Edward Wasserman, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence.” The question strikes directly at the heart of journalism ethics during an era in which sources and—in the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange—publishers are being persecuted or prosecuted for speaking truth to power. Wasserman’s April op-ed for The New York Times, “Julian Assange and the Woeful State of Whistle-Blowers,” makes a strong case for enshrining the rights of media sources in the Constitution, alongside freedom of the press. His powerful defense of Assange is based on his belief that “the First Amendment is no better than the willingness of people to come forward.”

      “What good does it do to the public if the sources who have provided [information to media] are subject to that kind of fierce and harsh reprisal [that Assange faces]? So that’s the question I was kind of raising,” the scholar tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer. “And I was trying to sort of stiffen the spine of the media when it comes to looking at the fate of sources.”

    • The Christchurch Pledge and a Regulated Internet

      It had to come. A massacre, broadcast in real time and then shared with viral automatism; the inevitable shock, and the counter from the authorities. The Christchurch shootings, inflicting fifty-one deaths upon worshippers at two mosques in quiet New Zealand on March 15 this year, have spurred Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Laws have been passed regulating guns in her country. Interest has increased in monitoring white nationalist groups. But Ardern was never keen keeping the matter local.

      In Paris, the NZ Prime Minister, meeting French President Emmanuel Macron, brought other leaders and US tech giants to make a global pledge to “eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.” The cheer squad feel behind the “Christchurch Call to Action” was unmistakable. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted the “deadly consequences” of “hateful content online” and his enthusiasm behind the project. “Together, we can create a world where all people – no matter their faith, where they live, or where they are from – are safe and secure both on and offline.” Stirring stuff.

      The opening of the pledge starts with a description: “On 15 March 2019, people looked on in horror as, for 17 minutes, a terrorist attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, was live streamed.” The emphasis is significant here: not merely the atrocity itself but the means of its dissemination. Stress falls upon the fact that “the live stream was viewed some 4,000 times before being removed.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Exiting the European Union Committee

      1. Open Rights Group is a UK organisation focusing on the respect and protect for human rights in the digital age. Open Rights Group works on issues of privacy, freedom of expression and surveillance.

      2. As the United Kingdom prepares to exit from the European Union it is vitally important that the public are given opportunity through Parliament to influence debates on future agreements. The United Kingdom will be new to trade negotiations and further digital trade is only just coming to prominence in the international trade sphere.

      3. Open Rights Group’s response will focus on digital trade, a topic that is only just beginning to gain prominence in the international trade sphere. Digital Trade is more than just selling consumer electronics. It involves setting data flows, agreeing standards of data localisation, intellectual property, algorithmic transparency. It was only at the beginning of this year 76 World Trade Organisation members launched talks on e-commerce.

    • San Francisco Is The First City In The World To Restrict Government Use Of Facial Recognition Technology. Hopefully It’s Not The Last.

      We welcome the city of San Francisco’s decision to ban the use of AI-enabled facial recognition technology by police and other municipal agencies. Facial recognition technology is prone to misidentification and biased targeting, particularly among members of vulnerable communities. It also opens the door to intrusive surveillance — beyond the scope of existing technology. Until the technology improves to avoid such harms, its use should be heavily restricted. And even with improvements, the public must confront tough questions about how closely governments should monitor their behavior.

      Regrettably, global trends are headed in a reverse direction from San Francisco’s decision. From Azerbaijan to Singapore, governments are enthusiastically embracing facial recognition technology. Led by China, such systems are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Facial recognition has been incorporated into smart city platforms. Cities are placing them on public lampposts and integrating them into security operations centers. While there is greater public awareness of China’s surveillance strategy – particularly its establishment of artificial intelligence-powered facial recognition repression in Xinjiang — few realize that numerous other countries are developing facial recognition capabilities as well.

    • Google is scanning your Gmail inbox to keep a detailed list of your purchases, and there’s no easy way to erase it

      The list doesn’t include a complete history of what you’ve bought, though, and only includes purchases that come with a digital receipt sent to your Gmail account. Essentially, Google is mining your inbox to compile this list in one place.

    • Google uses Gmail to track a history of things you buy — and it’s hard to delete

      A page called “Purchases ” shows an accurate list of many — though not all — of the things I’ve bought dating back to at least 2012. I made these purchases using online services or apps such as Amazon, DoorDash or Seamless, or in stores such as Macy’s, but never directly through Google.

      But because the digital receipts went to my Gmail account, Google has a list of info about my buying habits.

    • Google has been tracking nearly everything you buy online — see for yourself with this tool

      Because I made my Gmail account nearly a decade ago, my purchase history stretches back as far as 2010, including purchases I made while I was a college student and those through Apple’s App Store, which has been linked to my Gmail account since its inception. It also includes some real-world transactions made using my credit card, thanks to point-of-sale software providers like Square and others that link your credit card number and name to an associated email account to deliver receipts, offer rewards programs, and, in some cases, collect valuable purchase data.

    • The Google city that has angered Toronto

      Sidewalk Labs, a sister company to Google, had acquired disused land in Toronto, Canada for this bold urban experiment, which it hoped would become a model for other cities around the world.

      The fact that it would be collecting a lot of data from sensors placed all around the harbourside development unsettled some.

      Now many are asking whether a private firm should take charge of urban improvement at all.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Independent Forensic Investigation Undermines Houston Cops’ Narrative About Fatal Drug Raid

      Everything about the raid points to a drug unit that loves to raid houses but no so much the due diligence that goes with it. This, shall we say… “zealous” enforcement of the law ended with the deaths of two drug users — not dealers — at the hands of cops who have proven to be entirely unreliable when it comes to the “investigation” part of drug investigations.

      Another investigation has been opened. An independent forensic review — headed by a former NCIS supervisor — of the crime scene has been conducted and the results are jaw-dropping. Not only do they indicate the officers’ narrative of the raid is highly-dubious, it shows the Houston PD’s forensic team is possibly no better at its job than the officers behind the botched raid.

    • Review: Ziya Tong’s “The Reality Bubble”

      There’s a lovely passage in the book you may already be familiar with: chimpanzees greeting each other, joining hands, and then sitting down to watch a beautiful sunset. Tong’s take on this? “Indeed, we are not the only problem-solvers, not the only communicators, and not the only animals capable of love or the appreciation of beauty.” And then she continues, “But the other way of looking at the chimps’ behavior may be even more astonishing, because, though we can guess at the thoughts or emotions of our fellow primate on that hillside, the truth is their experience is completely unknowable to us. That is, even our closest evolutionary relative might see and perceive a world completely different from our own.”

      Mostly, Tong wants us to stop seeing ourselves under the guise of “human exceptionalism.” That’s difficult, of course, for people who believe in “American exceptionalism.” We think we can see everything because “We have the technological lenses to see into vast distances of outer space, to see the tiniest microscopic organisms, to see right through the human body, to see the very atoms that make up the material world. But there is one fundamental thing that we do not see. When it comes to how our species survives, we are utterly blind.”

    • ICE Arrests at New York Courts Have Increased 1,700 Percent

      Everyone’s favorite federal agency is in the news again.

      While Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have a long history of hanging out at courthouses to pick up undocumented immigrants who are there for completely unrelated reasons, they’re getting a whole lot more bold.

      The agency claims it has become necessary to step up activities at courthouses in a petulant FAQ, complaining about “increasing unwillingness of some jurisdictions” (i.e., sanctuary cities).

      And step up activities it has. According to an Immigrant Defense Project report, ICE arrests and sightings have increased by roughly 1,700 percent at New York courthouses since the Trump administration took office.

      The problem is getting so bad that the New York state government just issued a policy designed to restrict the authority of ICE in state courts. It’s not the only state trying to put the agency in check, arguing that ICE is overstepping its bounds and creating problems with the legal system. And to ICE’s dismay, judges keep agreeing with these arguments.

    • Anarchism & Reconciliation, Part II

      The article by David Rosen on Counterpunch reveals a real-life example of unrelieved-unrelievable American despair, a despair even darker from my perspective in that the only people Billy G. could turn to for help were medical professionals! It’s really not a secret that it’s no longer possible, for growing numbers of people, to rely on family or community for the necessary support for being alive and human. At the bottom of all of this dysfunctionality, are the fact that families no longer know what they are for, and that practically nobody in the enlightened modern liberal context considers this to be a problem (for “us,” that is!)

      The failure of liberalism to have a stand on the most significant human relationships, which surely are being steadily devalued and destroyed under capitalism, and not only for the poor, the black and the immigrants, is the failure to take a stand on the significance of being human, as opposed to the robots it would be more convenient for everyone if we would become! This failure, in turn, is consequence of a successful and totalitarian denial of the reality of “the other within” (the soul), the only reliable line of defense existing between our human selves and robothood. Family well-being, as well as its natural “local” authority cannot be defended in liberal reality; along the way to modernity, the connection to the soul was lost, traded away for participation in the exciting and increasingly rootless modern industrial society that promises more and better for those who will make the necessary exchange, i.e., the lowly imaginative creative indigenous soul for social standing and identification with power in the Oneness of neoliberal techno-wonderful sterility.

    • At White House Iftar, Trump Continues Whitewashing State Violence

      The annual White House iftars, initiated under the Clinton administration, are a theoretical effort to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims. This year, anyone listening to President Trump’s speech at the White House iftar on May 13 might have thought there was no Muslim ban in place, that the U.S. wasn’t bombing Muslim-majority countries, and that the Muslim community both domestically and abroad wasn’t being targeted in the “war on terror.”

      Those present might have also forgotten about the fact that Trump’s day started by attacking a Muslim Palestinian member of Congress, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, two weeks after attacking another Muslim representative, Ilhan Omar, who faced death threats after Trump maligned her on Twitter.

      Trump and his administration have made no secret of the fact that they have targeted Muslims in both domestic and foreign policy. Thus, the iftar, rather than being a celebration of the Muslim fast, was instead a disingenuous attempt at convincing the public that Muslims aren’t being uniquely targeted — something that couldn’t be further from the truth.

      However, instead of focusing on the inherent irony involved in honoring a fundamental part of Islam — fasting — while at the same time targeting the adherents of Islam, some critics have focused instead on the fact that, for the last two years, the Trump administration has evidently excluded U.S. Muslims from the iftar.

      This sentiment is highly misplaced for anyone who is concerned about the Trump administration’s rampant and deeply embedded policy platform of Islamophobia. Instead of asking why U.S. Muslims weren’t invited to the iftar, we might ask instead why any Muslim would opt to go, knowing the harm this administration has caused their communities, both in the United States and abroad.

      To be clear, however, this criticism has long applied to iftars. Those attending them when they first began under the Clinton administration, or even under the Bush or Obama administrations, might have reasoned that all three made reasonable efforts to reach out to the Muslim community.

    • Asylum Seekers Are Being “Disappeared” in Private Louisiana Jails

      Some names in this story have been changed to protect those criminalized for migration.

      There isn’t much to see around the River Correctional Center, a small, privately run jail near the Mississippi River and the tiny town of Ferriday, Louisiana. Farmlands and fields stretch in either direction beyond the jail’s barbed wire fence. In the 19th century, enslaved people worked cotton and sugar cane fields here, enriching white plantation owners with their daily labors. The local economy is still extracting profit from maintaining the captivity of people of color today.

      River Correctional Center is one of several local jails and state prisons in Louisiana, Mississippi and beyond that have lucrative contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to incarcerate hundreds of people detained in the federal immigration detention system, which has swelled under Trump administration policies that prioritize the “indefinite detention” of thousands seeking refuge in the United States. The 600-bed, medium-security facility is run by LaSalle Corrections, a for-profit prison firm based in Louisiana and Texas that originally built the jail for the local sheriff. In small towns across central and northern Louisiana, sheriffs and one mayor have recently signed fresh contracts with ICE to secure a new source of income.

    • As Irish PM Says Public Protest ‘Welcome,’ Trump Pushes for Private Meeting at His Own Golf Club

      President Donald Trump’s unofficially planned visit to Ireland in June is reportedly “in doubt” due to the Trump’s insistence that his meeting with Irish leader Leo Varadkar be held at one of the president’s golf courses in the European country.

      Varadkar, Ireland’s Taoiseach, or prime minister, is inclined to meet with Trump—but the president, according to The Irish Times, is insisting that any meeting be at his golf resort in Doonbeg, County Clare. If not, the president’s team told Irish officials, Trump will go to one of his resorts in Scotland.

    • It’s “Xenophobia and Racism,” Says Sanders, as Trump Threatens “Removal Forces” for Immigrants

      Right-wing news outlet The Daily Caller first reported Thursday that, among other moves, Trump plans on invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807 to boot undocumented immigrants from the country.

      Last invoked by President George H. W. Bush in response to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the act allows for the deployment of federal troops in response to “unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion.”

      On Friday morning, the administration had an opportunity to refute the reporting, but did not.

      “Is the administration considering the Insurrection Act?” asked “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy of deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidle.

    • The Deadly Perils of Traffic Stops in America

      If you’re nervous about traffic stops, you have every reason to be.

      Trying to predict the outcome of any encounter with the police is a bit like playing Russian roulette: most of the time you will emerge relatively unscathed, although decidedly poorer and less secure about your rights, but there’s always the chance that an encounter will turn deadly.

      According to the Justice Department, the most common reason for a citizen to come into contact with the police is being a driver in a traffic stop.

      On average, one in 10 Americans gets pulled over by police.

      Indeed, police officers have been given free range to pull anyone over for a variety of reasons.

      This free-handed approach to traffic stops has resulted in drivers being stopped for windows that are too heavily tinted, for driving too fast, driving too slow, failing to maintain speed, following too closely, improper lane changes, distracted driving, screeching a car’s tires, and leaving a parked car door open for too long.

    • Searches of arrested FSB officials’ properties reportedly reveal more than 12 billion rubles in questionable assets

      More than 12 billion rubles ($185.6 million) in rubles, dollars, euros, and valuable material assets have reportedly been found in the possession of Federal Security Service colonel Kirill Cherkalin and two of his subordinates, Dmitry Frolov and Andrey Vasilyev. All three men have been jailed as their embezzlement and bribery cases proceed.

      Anonymous sources within Russia’s security services told Kommersant and Rosbalt about the assets, which were reportedly seized during searches. Kommersant also suggested that assets worth about 12 billion more rubles are still in the possession of dummy companies and accounts belonging to the three defendants.

    • New York Passes a Bill to Ensure No One Loses Their Home for Calling the Police

      Americans shouldn’t be threatened with losing housing because they called for help.
      In cities and towns across New York state — and around the country — you can be evicted just for calling for police or emergency assistance. Fortunately, that’s about to change in New York. The State Legislature recently passed a bill — unanimously in the Assembly and 58 to 1 in the Senate — to protect tenants from eviction based on their calls for help.

      Cities often enact local laws called nuisance ordinances that label certain properties as “nuisances” based on the amount of 911 calls or emergency responses at that property, regardless of the reason for the call, the tenant’s role in the dispute, or whether the person was requesting medical assistance.

      When a property is the site of “too many” 911 responses, the city may punish the property owner with penalties such as fines, revocation of rental permits, or orders of closure. In order to avoid these consequences, landlords often evict or threaten to evict the tenants who called 911, refuse to renew their leases, or tell them to stop calling for help.

    • Photo: Police arrest anti-homophobia demonstrators in St. Petersburg

      Residents of St. Petersburg took to the streets to mark the 2019 International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia on May 17. According to attorney Ksenia Mikhailova, seven people were arrested at the demonstration, including herself. Police said the event had not received government approval although it took place in an area set aside for collective public expression. Mediazona reported that a group of young men with their heads shaved followed and intimidated the demonstrators while police stood aside and did nothing to stop them.

    • Yekaterinburg protesters get a survey, but not a referendum. What difference will it make?

      “If we go for a referendum, the situation will be suspended for a year. It would mean really major preparations, really major costs. That’s why, right now, we have to put maximal efforts into making sure this survey is maximally correct in procedure, in form, and in representativeness,” Yekaterinburg mayor Alexander Vysokinsky said on May 17. After several days of protests against the city’s plans to build a cathedral for its patron saint that would replace a central square, he was explaining the local government’s decision to run a survey instead of a referendum to gauge public opinion on the project.

    • How politics, money, and racism turned Irkutsk against a Chinese bottling factory at Lake Baikal

      The construction of a bottling facility in the Lake Baikal area has been suspended, and the project’s Chinese investors might lose their lease on land that’s now home to a half-finished factory. For the past two months, the Irkutsk region and Moscow have witnessed a sustained mass campaign against the facility, even though there are other similar enterprises already operating at Lake Baikal. The factory’s opponents include singer and cosmetic artist Sergey Zverev and television presenters Victoria Bonya and Elena Letuchaya, and there are more than 1 million signatures on a Change.org petition calling for an end to the project. Even Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has weighed in against the bottling facility. In a special report, Romb Story journalist Natalya Telegina explains how a Chinese factory became the target of a mass protest, and how this campaign benefits both local politicians and oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

    • Episode 28: Safe Spaces; Anti-immigrant sentiment; The world police; Mexico’s President – Listener Questions Episode

      On this very special episode of Along the Line, the listeners control the show. Listen as Dr. Dreadlocks Nicholas Baham III, Dr. Nolan Higdon, and Janice Domingo discuss listener questions.

    • For Black Americans, “Jury of Your Peers” Is a Hollow Phrase

      If you are accused of a crime in the U.S., you are guaranteed the right to a jury of your peers.

      This promise dates to the signing of the Magna Carta, when people were assured that their peers — not the king or someone from a different class — would determine suitable punishment for misdeeds.

      The ideal is noble enough in theory, but due to systemic racism, it is not always played out for African Americans. For African Americans in general, systemic racism creates a chain reaction that impacts virtually every area of life.

      Both Black men and women face unique challenges. Black women are increasingly facing incarceration, and even when they are not, they are often in the position of supporting incarcerated family members and friends. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, their overall health suffers as a result.

      Meanwhile, Black men carry a unique burden where the criminal legal system is concerned. A by-product of systemic racism is discriminatory policies and practices such as the war on drugs, stop-and-frisk policing and “three strikes” policies — all of which disproportionately impact Black men.

    • Human rights activists fined for holding livestream with former oil executive and Putin rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky

      The Moscow branch of Open Russia, a human rights organization with ties to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, held a live call with the former oil executive and opposition politician on February 27. During the event, police officers entered Open Russia’s office and recorded the identifying information of all 60 audience members present.

    • ‘Resegregation Has Happened Because of Intentional Decision-Making’ – CounterSpin interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones on school resegregation

      Janine Jackson: Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruling demanding the racial desegregation of the country’s public schools, will turn 65 this month. The ruling spotlighted racial inequities in education, and spurred civil rights activism and legislation. It did not, however, lead to desegregation, such that Congressmember Bobby Scott, chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, recently held a hearing titled “Brown v. Board of Education at 65: A Promise Unfulfilled.”

      We talked about resegregation on Brown’s 2014 anniversary with Nikole Hannah-Jones. Now at the New York Times Magazine, Hannah-Jones was then a reporter at ProPublica, where her series “Segregation Now” appeared. Here’s CounterSpin‘s Peter Hart speaking with Nikole Hannah-Jones in May of 2014.

      Peter Hart: You chose to tell this story through the experience of one town, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Why did you think Tuscaloosa’s story was so instructive?

      Nikole Hannah-Jones: Well, there were a few reasons. I really felt that I didn’t want to just cover that resegregation was happening, that there are lots of reports to show it’s happening and say it’s happening, but kind of leave it up in the air as to how it happens. And I think when you do that, then you give people the opportunity to fill in the blanks, that it’s kind of “natural,” or it’s just “the way things have to be,” and it’s no one’s fault. I really wanted to show that the resegregation has happened largely because of intentional decision-making, and that there actually are people who are at fault. So that was one of the reasons I chose Tuscaloosa.

    • How convicted nationalist agitator Dmitry Demushkin left a prison colony for a gig as the mayor of a Moscow suburb

      In May of 2019, the Russian nationalist Dmitry Demushkin was released from Russia’s prison colony system and almost immediately became the mayor of Barvikha, a wealthy suburb of Moscow. He had to do the job remotely: municipal consolidation efforts in Moscow Oblast have threatened to merge Barvikha into the Odintsovo Urban Okrug, and the district government considers Demushkin’s appointment illegal. Nonetheless, the town’s communist activists, who took over the local government in 2016 and then invited the nationalist to lead it, don’t intend to give in without a fight, and Demushkin himself plans to try and take over the entire district next. Meduza set out to tell the story of how Barvikha, where some of the richest people in Russia have homes alongside the president himself, turned from a symbol of capitalism into a “red town” with an avowed Russian nationalist and convicted extremist at its head.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Three big reasons why Americans aren’t upgrading their phones

      Last month, Verizon and AT&T made official something you’ve probably been aware of for a while: American smartphone owners are upgrading a lot less than they used to. In fact, they’re hitting record lows at the two biggest US carriers, with people apparently more content than ever to keep hold of their existing device. This is a global trend, as the smartphone market is reaching maturity and saturation in many developed nations, and yet it’s most pronounced in the United States for a few reasons particular to the country.

    • Man sentenced to over 18 months in prison after threatening to kill Ajit Pai

      Allegedly, the first email accused the net neutrality repeal, and therefore Pai, of causing a teenager to die by suicide. The next email reportedly made explicit threats to kill Pai and his family, including specific addresses in and around Arlington, Virginia. The final one contained images of the chairman and his family.

    • 5G Networks Could Throw Weather Forecasting Into Chaos

      On Capitol Hill Thursday, NOAA’s acting chief, Neil Jacobs, said that interference from 5G wireless phones could reduce the accuracy of forecasts by 30 percent. That’s equivalent, he said, to the quality of weather predictions four decades ago. “If you look back in time to see when our forecast scale was roughly 30 percent less than today, it was 1980,” Jacobs told the House Subcommittee on the Environment.

      That reduction would give coastal residents two or three fewer days to prepare for a hurricane, and it could lead to incorrect predictions of the storms’ final path to land, Jacobs said. “This is really important,” he told ranking committee member Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma).

    • Huawei banned from using US components without approval

      The US has placed Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies and 68 of its affiliates on a list that means it will have to obtain government approval in order to buy American-made components.

    • China’s Huawei, 70 affiliates placed on U.S. trade blacklist

      Under the order that will take effect in the coming days, Huawei will need a U.S. government license to buy American technology. Huawei did not immediately comment.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • The Looming Constitutional Impact Of A Naughty Trademark

        The U.S. Supreme Court heard argument on April 15 in Iancu v. Brunetti,[1] involving the respondent’s failed attempt to register his “Fuct” trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office…

      • Likelihood of Confusion: Is 15% The Magic Number?

        David Bernstein, Partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, gave an interesting presentation yesterday at NYU Law Engelberg Center’s “Proving IP” Conference on the origins of the “fifteen percent benchmark” in trademark likelihood of confusion analysis. (The subject of the panel was “Proving Consumer Perception: What are the best ways to test what consumers and users perceive about a work and how it is being positioned in the market?”)

        In trademark law, infringement occurs if defendant’s use of plaintiff’s trademark is likely to cause confusion as to the source of defendant’s product or as to sponsorship or affiliation. Courts across circuits often frame the question as whether an “appreciable number” of ordinarily prudent purchasers are likely to be confused. But evidence of actual confusion is not required. There is not supposed to be a magic number. Courts are supposed to assess a variety of factors, including the similarity of the marks and the markets in which they are used, along with evidence of actual confusion, if any, in order to asses whether confusion is likely, at some point, to occur.

        In theory.

    • Copyrights

      • Accused of ‘Terrorism’ for Putting Legal Materials Online

        The case, Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, No. 18-1150, concerns the 54 volumes of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, which contain state statutes and related materials.

        The state, through a legal publisher, makes the statutes themselves available online, and it has said it does not object to Mr. Malamud doing the same thing. But people who want to see other materials in the books, the state says, must pay the publisher.

        This is part of a disturbing trend, according to a new law review article, “Who Owns the Law? Why We Must Restore Public Ownership of Legal Publishing,” by Leslie Street, a law professor and librarian at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., and David Hansen, a librarian at Duke. It will be published in The Journal of Intellectual Property Law.

      • Judge rules Pepe the Frog copyright lawsuit against InfoWars will go to trial

        Matt Furie, the creator of the popular frog, which has largely been coopted online by conservatives, sued InfoWars for copyright infringement over a poster it sold depicting Pepe the Frog with right-wing figures including President Trump, activist Milo Yiannopoulos and conspiracy theorist and InfoWars founder Alex Jones.

        District Judge Michael Fitzgerald, who is overseeing the case in federal court in California, ruled in favor of Furie on several counts. But he said the issue of comments made by Furie on his ownership of Pepe the Frog is disputed enough to advance it to trial.

      • YouTuber Sends Lawyer After UFC to Stop ‘Unfair’ Takedown Notices

        The owner of a popular post-fight boxing commentary channel on YouTube is demanding that the UFC stops taking down his videos, which only use still images from fights. With help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Boxing Now’s John MacKay points out that his videos are fair use, adding that unwarranted takedown notices harm his business.

      • MPAA / ACE Shut Down ‘Pirate’ IPTV Service, Seize Domain

        An IPTV provider offering thousands of movies and around 600 live TV channels has been shut down following action by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment. As One Step TV’s subscribers complain on the service’s Facebook page, its domain now redirects to ACE after being taken over by the MPAA.

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