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05.21.19

Links 21/5/2019: China’s GAFAM Exit, DragonFlyBSD 5.4.3

Posted in News Roundup at 11:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Huawei Ban: Will Linux Replace Windows On Future Huawei Laptops?

    As I write this, Bloomberg has learned that other U.S-based tech giants like Intel, Qualcomm and Broadcom will cut off their supply of components to Huawei. Losing access to Intel processors will obviously affect future Huawei laptops, but what about the operating system Huawei will ship on these devices? What about the installation of Windows 10 you currently have on your Huawei laptop?

    [...]

    Linux Out Of The Box?

    We know that Huawei has prepared for this situation by developing its own in-house alternative operating systems to both Android and Windows, though the state of said development is unknown.

    Its Windows alternative is almost certainly a custom Linux distribution. And it’s not far-fetched to speculate that Huawei has it playing nicely on its own processors.

  • Huawei’s “plan B” smartphone OS: What it needs to succeed

    Vultures have been circling Huawei with a renewed fervor over the past six months, with flimsy claims of backdoors and the arrest of CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada last December. Last week, President Trump signed an executive order restricting US firms from doing business with the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer—prompting Google to suspend Huawei’s use of Play Services, a component that delivers Google’s proprietary services on Android devices.

    Likewise, US-based chipmakers Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Qorvo, Xilinx, Micron, and Western Digital have halted shipments following the order. German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon similarly stopped shipments temporarily to assess compliance requirements. While Huawei has reportedly kept a supply of chips on hand under the expectation of sanctions—and their HiSilicon division makes them better positioned to weather this storm than ZTE was when subjected to sanctions last May—the company is still extensively reliant on software and hardware from the US.

  • Desktop

    • South Korea’s Government is Switching to Linux

      The country’s Ministry of the Interior and Safety reckon that migrating away from Microsoft Windows will lower costs and reduce reliance on a single operating system.

      With 2020 bringing the end of “free” support for Windows 7, a system widely used throughout the South Korean government, the timing is prudent.

      There’s no word (yet) on what sort of Linux distribution South Korea might use (or whether the government would create its own) but let’s not put the cart before the horse: there are a few hurdles Linux needs to clear first…

    • South Korea eyes Linux as Windows 7 end of support nears

      As reported by the Korea Herald, the nation’s Interior Ministry last week announced plans for a potentially major Linux deployment as part of a plan to cut tech costs and reduce its reliance on a single operating system.

      It’s not known what mix of Windows 7 and Windows 10 the Korean government currently uses, however the plan to adopt Linux more widely comes as organizations around the world prepare for the end of Windows 7 support on January 14, 2020.

    • Kernel 5.2-rc1 Is Out, Xfce 4.14 Pre-Release Now Available, Microsoft Open-Sources Its SPTAG Algorithm, South Korean Government Switching to Linux and Arduino Launches Four New Nano Boards

      The South Korean government plans to switch to Linux as the end of Windows 7 support nears.

    • South Korean government plans to ditch Windows

      The South Korean government is planning to switch its operating system (OS) from Windows to Linux, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety has announced.

      According to the Korea Herald, the changeover will begin with a test-run of Linux OS on PCs within the Ministry of the Interior and Safety on private networked devices. Linux will be introduced more widely across government systems if a trial period passes with no issues arising with regards to security, or compatibility using software developed to run on Windows.

    • South Korea is switching to Linux ahead of the Windows 7 shutdown

      The Ministry of the Interior and Safety has confirmed it is making the change over cost concerns, as well as trying to stop the current stranglehold of a single operating system (ie Windows).

      It was fairly inevitable that we’d get some switch-outs over the coming months, given that Windows 7 machines will need to be upgraded to Windows 10 (at cost) during the rest of the year, ahead of the older OS reaching end-of-life in January.

      The document doesn’t talk in terms of timetables, nor of which Linux distro or distros are favoured. Its Northern neighbour already uses a customised Linux distro called Red Star, but it got more security holes than an Emmental Facebook.

      The cost of the changeover has been put at around $655m (£514m). It’s not clear how much that will save, and when the break-even point will be.

      Indeed, it’s not inconceivable that Microsoft will throw money at South Korea in an attempt to change its mind. That’s exactly what happened when Munich switched allegiance back in 2005-6.

    • South Korea moves from Windows to Linux

      In an effort to prepare for Windows 7′s End of Life early next year, South Korea has revealed that all of its government computers will soon make the switch from Windows to Linux.

      The official Windows 7 End of Life is set for January, 14 2020 and Microsoft has said that it will provide support for up to three years after that date though companies will need to pay.

      However, for governments such as South Korea which depend on Windows 7, the cost of extended support could quickly become too high to manage. For example, support for Windows Enterprise users using Windows 7 for the first year after the End of Life date will cost $25 per device. This price rises to $50 per device for year two and $100 for year three.

    • South Korean government opts for Linux instead of Windows 10

      The South Korean government believes Windows will be too expensive to support in the future, and in a bid to reduce costs the country plans to transition to the open-source Linux. While there will still be costs associated with support and new PCs, it’s believed there will be both cost reductions and a reduced dependency on a single operating system.
      Earlier this year, Microsoft signaled the end of support for Windows 7, which still powers many machines around the globe. Aside from shelling out serious cash for paid support, most users will have little choice but to migrate to a newer version of Windows.
      However, South Korea has opted to change operating systems entirely, perhaps to Microsoft’s dismay. The South Korean Ministry of Interior and Safety announced plans to migrate to Linux, starting with a trial of sorts to test for compatibility and security. Assuming there’s no mishaps, a broad rollout could commence shortly thereafter.

  • Server

    • CloudLinux OS Feature Survey – CLOSING SOON

      We’re closing this CloudLinux OS feature survey at the end of this month. We’ll publish the results after the survey has closed.

      Thanks to everyone who participated. If you didn’t, there’s still time to share your views on the direction of CloudLinux OS. It only takes a few minutes.

    • May 30 virtual event explores digital leadership in financial services

      Today’s financial services businesses are faced with the need to drive new and better digital products, services, and efficiencies to improve customer loyalty and competitive advantage. Payments, authorizations, and risk and fraud assessments are embedded as part of everyday events rather than an event unto itself, with the need for speed—now often in fractions of a second—blurring the lines between front office and back office operational processing. Financial services companies need to balance the costs of renewing systems with the costs of adopting new, innovative technologies, while seeking advantages from automation, real time assessments, embedded intelligence, and more.

    • CentOS 8 Release Map And It’s Details

      We already know that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 was released on 2019-05-07, and everyone is waiting for CentOS 8 release.

      Most of us doesn’t have active subscription to download Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 from the Red Hat Customer Portal.

      We have to wait till CentOS 8 release to test this out.

    • OpenShift 4: Red Hat’s on ramp for the hybrid cloud

      In this next generation of Red Hat’s Kubernetes platform, Red Hat explicitly stated OpenShift 4 is designed to deliver a cloud-like experience across the hybrid cloud by driving automated updates across Kubernetes deployments everywhere. Or, as Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst summed it up: “Make open hybrid cloud the default architecture.”

      In more detail, Ashesh Badani, Red Hat senior vice president of Cloud Platforms, said: “Enterprise IT’s future is driven by hybrid and multicloud computing, with Kubernetes acting as a bridge to seamlessly connect workloads between on-premise datacenters and public cloud footprints. Red Hat OpenShift 4 makes this vision of Kubernetes a reality, offering a consistent, self-managing enterprise Kubernetes platform that spans the hybrid cloud.”

    • Sudo + syslog-ng: two software at two conferences

      Recently I visited two conferences: LOADays and Red Hat Summit. They both focus on open source software, but similarities end there. LOADays in Antwerp is small, free and focuses on Linux administrators. The Red Hat Summit in Boston is huge, expensive and covers a wide variety of topics, including administration among many others. No matter of the differences, both are among my favorite events.

      Why sudo? Last year Balabit, the company where I work, was acquired by One Identity. Todd Miller, developer of sudo became my colleague. I was happy to see another open source software around. I read sudo and learned that it has many more features than I knew about, even if I have been using it for decades. So, next to syslog-ng I started to evangelize sudo as well, demonstrating how much more it can be than a simple prefix to administrative commands.

    • Software Defined Storage: The Next Killer App for Cloud

      It’s never going to be possible to completely disconnect software from hardware. Indeed, hardware development is having a bit of a rebirth as young developers rediscover things like the 6502, homebrew computing, and 8-bit assembly languages. If this keeps going, in 20 years developers will reminisce fondly and build hobby projects in early IoT platforms, using 2007-era cloud APIs with old refrigerator-sized storage arrays.

      In my experience, storage hardware has remained something of a legacy boat anchor in many enterprises: you don’t mess around when it comes to storing your company’s long term data or selecting storage providers for your lights-on, business critical applications. Governments demand it be retained, and data scientists are increasingly building new algorithms based on giant old datasets. For a time after the cloud revolution began in the late 2000’s it seemed that storage hardware wouldn’t be moving to x86 cloud-based virtual machines–much less Linux containers–anytime soon.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Batteries are Leaking | Coder Radio 358

      A strong argument against Python’s batteries included model exposes some bigger problems the community is struggling with. We chat about all of it.

      Plus lessons learned six years after a project, a new tool, and some feedback.

    • SMLR 307 Night of The Living Daemon
    • This Week in Linux 67 | Zombieload, Nextcloud, Peppermint 10, KDE Plasma, IPFire, ArcoLinux, LuneOS

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we’ll check out some Distro News from Peppermint OS, ArcoLinux, LuneOS & IPFire. We got a couple apps to talking about like Nextclou0…d and a new Wallpaper tool that has quite a bit of potential. We’ll take a look at what is to come with the next version of KDE Plasma. Intel users have gotten some more bad news regarding a new security vulnerability. Later in the show, we’ll cover some interesting information regarding a couple governments saving money by switching to Linux. Then finally we’ll check out some Linux Gaming News. All that and much more on your Weekly Source for Linux GNews!

  • Kernel Space

    • Some Btrfs vs Ext4 random-read/write performance observations

      I’ve been using XFS as a very conservative file system choice for the last four years or so after being burned by BtrFS file system corruptions a couple of times in a row. However, I’ve been working more with many small files lately to build this blog using a static website generator. Performance hasn’t been great and I’ve also found a need for recording file creation times, something which isn’t natively supported by XFS.

      My hardware setup have consisted of two old fashioned spinning software mirrored 4 terabyte hard drives for my home directory. I’ve used these drives as a backing drive with a Samsung 960 EVO NVMe solid state drive as a LVM cache drive for performance. I stopped using LVM cache disk a few months ago as I wanted to enable full-drive encryption and it also prevented my system from hibernating; a problem LVM caches share with BCache. I considered trying BCache anyway, but luckily decided against it just days before people started noticing drive corruptions with BCache on GCC 9 and Linux 5.

      After a careful review I decided to slim down my home directory and move over to the NVMe with an LUKS encrypted BtrFS file system. I’ve had bad experiences with this file system in the past, but surely something has happened in the last four years, right? I decided to give it a fourth chance in the interest of getting a more modern file system. I had to move a lot of files over to a separate drive, but cleaning up your home directory never hurt anyone (assuming you have proper backups).

    • Xen Developers Continue Work On CPU Core Scheduling Support

      Sent out earlier this month is the second version of the Xen core scheduling patches that allow for CPU core and socket-level scheduling by this virtualization hypervisor.

      The focus of this core/socket-level scheduling is to ensure the same VM(s) share the vCPU threads, which is more important these days in light of the various CPU speculative execution vulnerabilities that make Hyper Threading look particularly unsafe.

    • Do you know what IVBP, ROMB or UTOK are?

      First, thanks to everyone for the all the help with UEFI modules. There are a ton left, but also a lot done, so we’re getting there. If anyone is intimately familiar with ME firmware, I’d also really like some help with this Intel Management Engine document too. Thanks!

    • Purism and the Linux Kernel

      We’re especially proud of our kernel contributions – where 13 patches have made it into 5.1. Since this is our first installment, it also includes the changes that went into 5.0 and 4.20. Bellow is a list of our most recent contributions.

    • Creating and using a custom Linux kernel on Guix System

      Guix is, at its core, a source based distribution with substitutes, and as such building packages from their source code is an expected part of regular package installations and upgrades. Given this starting point, it makes sense that efforts are made to reduce the amount of time spent compiling packages, and recent changes and upgrades to the building and distribution of substitutes continues to be a topic of discussion within Guix.

      One of the packages which I prefer to not build myself is the Linux-Libre kernel. The kernel, while not requiring an overabundance of RAM to build, does take a very long time on my build machine (which my children argue is actually their Kodi computer), and I will often delay reconfiguring my laptop while I want for a substitute to be prepared by the official build farm. The official kernel configuration, as is the case with many GNU/Linux distributions, errs on the side of inclusiveness, and this is really what causes the build to take such a long time when I build the package for myself.

      The Linux kernel, however, can also just be described as a package installed on my machine, and as such can be customized just like any other package. The procedure is a little bit different, although this is primarily due to the nature of how the package definition is written.

    • Improved Logitech wireless device support in kernel 5.2

      The just released 5.2-rc1 kernel includes improved support for Logitech wireless keyboards and mice. Until now we were relying on the generic HID keyboard and mouse emulation for 27 MHz and non-unifying 2.4 GHz wireless receivers.

      Starting with the 5.2 kernel instead we actually look at the devices behind the receiver. This allows us to provide battery monitoring support and to have per device quirks, like device specific HID-code to evdev-code mappings where necessary. Until now device specific quirks where not possible because the receivers have a generic product-id which is the same independent of the device behind the receiver.

      The per device key-mapping is especially important for 27MHz wireless devices, these use the same HID-code for Fn + F1 to Fn + F12 for all devices, but the markings on the keys differ per model. Sofar it was impossible for Linux to get the mapping for this right, but now that we have per device product-ids for the devices behind the receiver we can finally fix this. As is the case with other devices with vendor specific mappings, the actual mapping is done in userspace through hwdb.

    • The Better Logitech Wireless Device Support In The Linux 5.2 Kernel

      Red Hat’s Hans de Goede who was involved in this latest Logitech support improvement work for the Linux 5.2 kernel has now blogged to share additional background information on the effort.

    • Graphics Stack

      • SiFive RISC-V SoCs Can Now Be Paired With A GPU… Imagination’s PowerVR

        If you want a SiFive SoC for the royalty-free, open-source RISC-V architecture it’s now possible to pair it with graphics. Unfortunately, the graphics option is about as far from open-source as possible.

      • WebRender newsletter #45

        WebRender is a GPU based 2D rendering engine for web written in Rust, currently powering Mozilla’s research web browser servo and on its way to becoming Firefox‘s rendering engine.

      • Mozilla GFX: Graphics Team ships WebRender MVP!

        After many months of hard work and preparation, I’m pleased to announce the general availability of WebRender for selected Windows 10 devices. WebRender is a major rewrite of the Firefox rendering architecture using the same kind of GPU-based acceleration techniques used by games.

      • SVT-AV1 0.5 Released As Intel’s Speedy AV1 Video Encoder

        While we have been reporting on and benchmarking the Intel SVT video encoders since February, they were only officially announced last month and this Sunday marks their first tagged release for the AV1 encoder in the form of SVT-AV1 0.5.0.

        SVT-AV1 0.5 is easily one of the fastest AV1 CPU-based video encoders and has been performing excellent in our tests, including continued daily benchmarks of it in keeping track of its performance.

      • Intel Graphics Compiler 1.0.4 Released With Fixes & Improvements

        Less than one month after releasing the Intel Graphics Compiler 1.0.3, the Intel team maintaining “IGC” today released version 1.0.4.

        The only changes to this LLVM-based graphics compiler for Intel GEN graphics hardware are “minor fixes and improvements.”

      • RadeonSI Primitive Culling Lands In Mesa 19.2

        The past few months AMD’s Marek Olšák has been working on primitive culling support for the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver and last week that code was merged into the Mesa 19.2 development code.

        Marek has been working on primitive culling via asynchronous compute prior to the vertex shader process to eliminate geometry that ends up being invisible. Marek found that this functionality helps in workloads like the workstation ParaView software we use as part of our OpenGL test suite.

      • X.Org’s XDC2019 Issues Call For Proposals On Wayland, Mesa, X.Org, Etc

        X.Org’s annual event, the X.Org Developers’ Conference, is running like a well-oiled machined these days. While there are still months to go until XDC2019 in Montreal, a Call for Proposals has been issued for those wishing to speak at this annual gathering that pertains to Wayland, Mesa, libinput, Cairo, and related components as well, yes, the X.Org Server.

    • Benchmarks

      • A Look At The MDS Cost On Xeon, EPYC & Xeon Total Impact Of Affected CPU Vulnerabilities

        This weekend I posted a number of benchmarks looking at the performance impact of the new MDS/Zombieload vulnerabilities that also included a look at the overall cost of Spectre/Meltdown/L1TF/MDS on Intel desktop CPUs and AMD CPUs (Spectre). In this article are similar benchmarks but turning the attention now to Intel Xeon hardware and also comparing those total mitigation costs against AMD EPYC with its Spectre mitigations.

        This article offers a look at the MDS/Zombieload mitigations on a 1st Gen Skylake Xeon Scalable server as well as a Kabylake Xeon E3 server for reference. Following that is a look at the total CPU vulnerability mitigation costs for 1st Gen Xeon Scalable, 2nd Gen Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake), and an AMD EPYC 2P server as well for its Spectre mitigations.

        As expected given Intel’s guidance last week of their latest Xeon processors being mitigated for MDS, indeed, the dual Xeon Platinum 8280 Cascade Lake server reported it was not affected by the MDS mitigations and thus not enabled. So for the MDS tests up first it’s just some reference results using a dual Xeon Gold 6138 Skylake server running Ubuntu 19.04 with the Linux 5.0 patched kernel and reference results side-by-side for a separate Xeon E3-1275 v6 server.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • The Two Solitudes of GNOME and KDE

      Novelist Hugh MacLennan once described Canada as “two solitudes” — an English-speaking one and a French-speaking one, neither of which had much to do with the other. The description is decades out-dated, and today a dozen solitudes might be more accurate. However, the phrase echoes in my mind whenever I think of the gulf today between GNOME technologies and KDE software compilations. Although both are based on the Linux kernel, the expectations and philosophies are different enough that they might almost be different operating systems.

      The difference has not always existed. When GNOME and KDE began in the late 1990s, both were scrambling hard to match desktops on other operating systems. Widgets aside, the differences were minimal. For years the two graphical interfaces regularly traded places on reader surveys, with perhaps a slight edge for GNOME, depending on the magazine or site conducting the survey. Flame wars could be fierce, but like many flame wars, the fierceness reflected how trivial the differences mostly were — at least, after KDE’s Qt toolkit became free software. The difference was largely one of branding.

      Still, GNOME and KDE each slowly developed its own ecosystem of applications. A few applications like OpenOffice.org were shared, presumably because developing alternative for large applications was difficult. Moreover, the popularity of some apps like Firefox overwhelmed native alternatives like KDE’s Konqueror. But in categories like music-players, archivers, and CD burners, each slowly started to developed its own set of tools.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • This Summer with Kdenlive

        Hi! I’m Akhil K Gangadharan and I’ve been selected for GSoC this year with Kdenlive. My project is titled ‘Revamping the Titler Tool’ and my work for this summer aims to kickoff the complete revamp of one of the major tools used in video-editing in Kdenlive, called the Titler tool.

        [...]

        After the backend is done with, we begin integrating it with Kdenlive and evolve the titler to use the new backend.

        A great long challenge lies ahead, and I’m looking forward to this summer and beyond with the community to complete writing the tool – right from the backend to the new UI.

      • Linux perf and KCachegrind

        If you occassionally do performance profiling as I do, you probably know Valgrind’s Callgrind and the related UI KCachegrind. While Callgrind is a pretty powerful tool, running it takes quite a while (not exactly fun to do with something as big as e.g. LibreOffice).

        Recently I finally gave Linux perf a try. Not quite sure why I didn’t use it before, IIRC when I tried it somewhen long ago, it was probably difficult to set up or something. Using perf record has very little overhead, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled by perf report. I mean, it’s text UI, and it just gives a list of functions, so if I want to see anything close to a call graph, I have to manually expand one function, expand another function inside it, expand yet another function inside that, and so on. Not that it wouldn’t work, but compared to just looking at what KCachegrind shows and seeing …

        When figuring out how to use perf, while watching a talk from Milian Wolff, on one slide I noticed a mention of a Callgrind script. Of course I had to try it. It was a bit slow, but hey, I could finally look at perf results without feeling like that’s an effort. Well, and then I improved the part of the script that was slow, so I guess I’ve just put the effort elsewhere :).

      • KDAB helps unu build Qt-based UI

        Those of you who’ve visited KDAB’s offices in Berlin, will know we have a fleet of electric scooters for our staff. You may have even tried one yourself!

        Today, unu, the Berlin-based mobility company that makes them, launches their latest electric scooter – the unu Scooter.

        The unu Scooter has been completely redeveloped, is more open to sharing and rental services and has the fastest acceleration you’ll find in any electric scooter, courtesy of its Bosch engine.

      • Help Test Plasma 5.16 Beta

        Plasma 5.16 beta was released last week and there?s now a further couple of weeks to test it to find and fix all the beasties. To help out download the Neon Testing image and install it in a virtual machine or on your raw hardware. You probably want to do a full-upgrade to make sure you have the latest builds. Then try out the new notifications system, or the new animated wallpaper settings or anything else mentioned in the release announcement. When you find a problem report it on bugs.kde.org and/or chat on the Plasma Matrix room. Thanks for your help!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Comparing Search between Nautilus and Nemo File Managers

        Personally, I like Nemo search better than Nautilus search as I need to sort everything I find and I cannot do that with Nautilus. I love sort by Date/Descending as I use it everyday.

        Apparently, not only me saying this. I don’t know why this once-existed feature removed in current versions of Nautilus, as normal interface provides sorting but search interface does not. I will not wonder if somebody ask “why not removing sort in the normal interface as well?” or such.

  • Distributions

    • 10 Best Linux Distros to Install on a USB Stick

      The GNU/Linux community is blessed with 100+ distributions and we do our best to cover only the best of them on FossMint so if you haven’t checked out titles like the Best Linux Distros for Laptops in 2019, 5 Operating Systems for the IoT, and the Top 10 GNU/Linux Distros for Privacy & Security then you probably should.

      Today, our attention is Linux distros that are perfect for running from USB sticks (and potentially other portable external storage devices) which means that we’ll be concentrating on portable Operating Systems.

      These are Operating Systems that are designed to be minimalist in their resource requirements i.e. they can run on hardware with little secondary storage space and/or little RAM.

      Portable Operating Systems also typically come in small enough sizes to fit on USB drives and CDs without losing the quality of their performance even when running on old machines. With that being said, here’s my list of the best portable Linux distributions.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

    • Fedora

      • Fedora Community Blog: GSOC 2019 – release-bot project

        On May 6, the selected students for Google summer of code 2019 were officially announced. We, as mentors of the release-bot project, would like to thank all applicants and provide insight into our decision process.

        Google summer of code is popular for the past several years which means that competition is really high. For our project, release-bot, this was definitely the case. We had several very promising candidates providing early contributions.

      • Manas and Marek: Improving Fedora release process

        Manas Mangaonkar (pac23) is working on the Change Management Tool, a tool for the Fedora Program Managers and contributors to propose, edit, and approve changes per Fedora’s change process. He was selected for Google Summer of Code 2019.

        We asked Manas a few questions as he prepares for his next three months working with Ben Cotton, his mentor for the summer.

    • Debian Family

      • Lenovo Hooks Up With Debian For DebConf 19

        Usually taking the top spot for DebConf sponsoring is the likes of Intel, HP Enterprise, or Google (to which the search/Android giant is back again this year at the platinum level). Interestingly, however, Lenovo has made the plunge to DebConf and have committed to being a platinum sponsor for this upcoming Debian GNU/Linux event. Platinum sponsors contribute at least $20,000 USD to Debian for the event.

      • Candy Tsai: Outreachy 2019 March-August Internship – The Application Process

        Really excited to be accepted for the project “Debian Continuous Integration: user experience improvements” (referred to as debci in this post) of the 2019 March-August round of the Outreachy internship! A huge thanks to my company and my manager Frank for letting me do this since I mentioned it out of the blue. Thanks to the Women Techmakers community for letting me know this program exists.

      • Derivatives

        • Linux distros without systemd

          If you are reading this post you’re very much likely not a fan of systemd already. So we won’t preach on why systemd is bad, but today we’ll focus more on what are the alternatives out there. Our approach is obviously not for settling for less but for changing things for the better. We have started the world after systemd project some time ago and the search isn’t over.

        • Linux Distros Without Systemd (2019)
        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Expands Its Kernel Uploader Team

            As a sign of the times with the Linux kernel being affected by an increasing number of CVEs (and particularly high profile ones at that), there are now more Ubuntu developers with upload rights for sending down new kernel upgrades.

            Ubuntu’s Kernel Uploaders Team approved adding Tyler Hicks (a longtime Canonical developer working as an Ubuntu kernel engineer) to the kernel uploaders group as well as Juerg Haefliger (having worked on stable kernels and recent high profile CVE issues already) and Khalid Elmously (another Canonical employee and existing kernel team member).

          • Design and Web team summary – 10 May 2019

            It was another busy iteration for the web and design team, trying to get a lot of work wrapped up before we head off to Lyon, France for our 19.10 Roadmap cycle kick-off.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 579
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • Fedora Mexico: Three months of activities

      The Fedora contributors and enthusiast in Mexico city has monthly meetings since February.

    • Linux Security Summit 2019 North America: CFP / OSS Early Bird Registration

      The LSS North America 2019 CFP is currently open, and you have until May 31st to submit your proposal. (That’s the end of next week!)

      If you’re planning on attending LSS NA in San Diego, note that the Early Bird registration for Open Source Summit (which we’re co-located with) ends today.

    • Kubeflow at KubeCon Europe 2019 in Barcelona

      Kubeflow, the Kubernetes native application for AI and Machine Learning, continues to accelerate feature additions and community growth. The community has released two new versions since the last Kubecon – 0.4 in January and 0.5 in April – and is currently working on the 0.6 release, to be released in July. The key features in each release are briefly discussed below.

    • Tracing Microconference Accepted into 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference

      We are pleased to announce that the Tracing Microconference has been accepted into the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference! Its return to Linux Plumbers shows that tracing is not finished in Linux, and there continue to be challenging problems to solve.

      There’s a broad list of ways to perform Tracing in Linux. From the original mainline Linux tracer, Ftrace, to profiling tools like perf, more complex customized tracing like BPF and out-of-tree tracers like LTTng, systemtap, and Dtrace. Part of the trouble with tracing within Linux is that there is so much to choose from. Each of these have their own audience, but there is a lot of overlap. This year’s theme is to find those common areas and combine them into common utilities.

    • YottaDB at LFNW 2019

      YottaDB was happy to sponsor and attend the 2019 Linux Fest North West in Bellingham, WA on April 26 -28, 2019.

    • YottaDB

      At the core of YottaDB is a daemon-less hierarchical key-value database engine that executes within the address space of the application process, which makes in-memory calls to a YottaDB API. Processes cooperate with one another to manage the database, and the achievable throughput is limited by the underlying computing platform, rather than the potential single-point bottleneck of a daemon. Combining the database engine and application logic in a single process yields robustness, security, simplicity and performance.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha1 is ready for testing

      The LibreOffice Quality Assurance ( QA ) Team is happy to announce LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha1 is ready for testing!

      LibreOffice 6.3 will be released as final in mid August ( Check the Release Plan ) being LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha1 the first pre-release since the development of version 6.3 started in mid November, 2018. Since then, 6390 commits have been submitted to the code repository and more than 1050 bugs have been set to FIXED in Bugzilla. Check the release notes to find the new features included in this version of LibreOffice.

      LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha1 is already available for downloading here, for Linux, MacOS and Windows.

  • Education

    • Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education to make physics experiments easier

      Higher secondary students will now be able to undertake physics experiments in digital form, courtesy the Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE).

      KITE will make available a free and open source software (FOSS) and hardware ‘ExpEYES’ (Experiments for Young Engineers and Scientists) that can be connected to laptops. This facility for physics studies is in addition to the Maths IT labs that will be introduced this year.

      At present, 36 practical activities have been stipulated for higher secondary students.

      In addition to lab experiments, students can easily undertake electronics, electrical, mechanical, thermal, and sound experiments through ExpEYES, a recent statement from KITE said.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • One billion Linux desktops? [Ed: Pushing the nonsense that Linux counts only when it's spied on]
    • Neil Williams: New directions

      Third, my job hunting has shown that the centralisation of decentralised version control is still a thing. As far as recruitment is concerned, if the code isn’t visible on GitHub, it doesn’t exist. (It’s not the recruitment agencies asking for GitHub links, it is the company HR departments themselves.) So I had to add a bunch of projects to GitHub and there’s a link now in the blog.

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD 5.4.3 Released With Various Fixes

      DragonFlyBSD 5.4.3 was released on Monday with just a hand full of changes over last month’s 5.4.2 point release.

      DragonFlyBSD 5.4.3 takes care of an SMP race condition within the PF code, fixes a FP bug in its kernel, restores the trim_enabled device sysctl, ensures the ca_root_nss certificate is installed, sets GID_TTY for non-root users by default, and stubs out pthread_equal() for its C library.

  • Programming/Development

    • Getting started with Source-to-Image for building container images

      Source-to-Image is an excellent tool for building container images for applications in a fast, flexible, and reproducible way. Usually abbreviated as S2I, Source-to-Image takes a base “builder” image with all the libraries and build tools needed to compile an application or install dependencies (like Python’s PIP or Ruby’s Bundler) and a set of scripts in predefined locations that are used to build, test, and run the application. Once the builder image is created, S2I can take code from a repository, inject it into the build image, compile or install dependencies, and generate an application image with the final application ready to go.

      I set out to learn how to build container images for applications written in Go (unofficially called Golang), and in over the next two articles, we will do so.

    • EuroPython 2019: Conference and training ticket sale opens today

      After the rush to the early-bird tickets last week (we sold more than 290 tickets in 10 minutes), we expect a rush to the regular and training tickets this week as well.
      We only have 300 training tickets available, so if you want to attend the training days, please consider getting your ticket soon.

    • Adding Pagination With Django

      While working on a modern web application quite often you will need to paginate the app be it for better user experience or performance. Fortunately, Django comes with built-in pagination classes for managing paginating data of your application.

      In this article, we will go through the pagination process with class-based views and function based views in Django.

    • Python’s Counter – Part 2

      Counter is an amazing tool that simplifies the task of counting items, but, No! it works only on iterables – there is more to this, so keep reading. In the meantime, what is an iterable? In basic terms, an iterable stores a sequence of values, or characters, which you can traverse.

    • Wing Tips: Selecting Logical Units of Python Code in Wing

      In this issue of Wing Tips we take a look at quickly selecting Python code in logical units, which can make some editing tasks easier.

    • Python 3.7.3 : Use the tweepy to deal with twitter api – part 002.
    • Python 3.7.3 : The google-cloud-vision python module – part 002.
    • Growth of a Population

      Hello and welcome back, in this episode we are going to solve a python related problem in Codewars. Before we start I just want to say that this post is related to python programming, you are welcome to leave your comments below this post if and only if they are related to the below solution, kindly do not leave any comment which has nothing to do with python programming under this article, thank you.

    • Overview of Async IO in Python 3.7
    • Test and Code: 74: Technical Interviews: Preparing For, What to Expect, and Tips for Success – Derrick Mar
    • Unicode & Character Encodings in Python: A Painless Guide
    • The google-cloud-vision python module – part 001.
    • The 2019 Rust Event Lineup
    • Qt Design Studio 1.2 Beta Offers Bridge With Sketch Vector Graphics Editor

      Qt Design Studio 1.2 Beta also introduces gradients support for shape-based items and other changes. More details on the Qt Design Studio 1.2 Beta over on the Qt blog.

    • Qt Design Studio 1.2 Beta released

      Qt Design Studio is a UI design and development tool that enables designers and developers to rapidly prototype and develop complex UIs. Both designers and developers use Qt Design Studio and this makes collaboration between the two a lot simpler and more streamlined. To get an impression, you should watch this video.

      The main addition for Qt Design Studio 1.2 is the Sketch Bridge. It is now possible to export your scenes from Sketch and import them to Qt Design Studio 1.2.

    • ESR Switches To Threadripper But His GCC SVN-To-Git Conversion Could Still Take Months

      It looks like the saga of converting the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) source tree from SVN to Git isn’t over yet and could still take months until completion.

      As written about last week, a Linaro developer worked on a Bash script leveraging Git-SVN for converting GCC’s SVN to Git as while Eric S Raymond has been working on the effort for many months using his homegrown “Reposurgeon” utility, it hasn’t yet panned out. Reposurgeon in last year’s form was too memory hungry and slow while ultimately he began rewriting the tool in Golang in hopes of addressing these issues.

    • digest 0.6.19

      digest creates hash digests of arbitrary R objects (using the md5, sha-1, sha-256, sha-512, crc32, xxhash32, xxhash64, murmur32, and spookyhash algorithms) permitting easy comparison of R language objects.

      This version contains two new functions adding new digest functionality. First, Dmitriy Selivanov added a fast and vectorized digest2int to convert (arbitrary) strings into 32 bit integers using one-at-a-time hashing. Second, Kendon Bell, over a series of PRs, put together a nice implementation of spookyhash as a first streaming hash algorithm in digest. So big thanks to both Dmitriy and Kendon.

    • Next C++ workshop: Binary Search Trees, 23 May at 18:00 UTC

      Learn C++ features with the help of LibreOffice developers! We’re running regular workshops which focus on a specific topic, and are accompanied by a real-time IRC meeting.

    • Apache Camel development on Eclipse Che 7

      Apache Camel development is improving on Eclipse Che 7 compared to Che 6. On Che 6, it is limited to XML DSL and without classical XSD-based XML support. With Che 7, Camel Java DSL is available and XSD-based XML support is working nicely with the Camel XML DSL support. Please note that Che 7 is still in beta.

    • level up yo py/js adhd af research blaggin
    • Episode 4: A Conversation with Steve George

      Steve joined Weaveworks in February 2017 as COO. In a career spanning 20 years, Steve has worked in a range of roles in the technology sector, most recently leading Canonical’s operations and corporate development. His interest and support for FOSS goes back to 1997, when he got hold of his first copy of Slackware on floppy disk.

    • Rule-Based Matching In Natural Language Processing

      SpaCy is an open-source software library for advanced Natural Language Processing, written in Python and Cython. Here it is used to build a rule-based matcher that always classifies the word “iPhone” as a product entity

    • Eclipse IoT Surveys Developer Community
  • Standards/Consortia

    • MIME type “text/vnd.sosi” for SOSI map data

      As part of my involvement in the work to standardise a REST based API for Noark 5, the Norwegian archiving standard, I spent some time the last few months to try to register a MIME type and PRONOM code for the SOSI file format. The background is that there is a set of formats approved for long term storage and archiving in Norway, and among these formats, SOSI is the only format missing a MIME type and PRONOM code.

Leftovers

  • Sony’s Deal With Microsoft Blindsided Its Own PlayStation Team

    Last week, the companies announced a strategic partnership to co-develop game streaming technology and host some of PlayStation’s online services on the Redmond-based company’s Azure cloud platform. It comes after PlayStation spent seven years developing its own cloud gaming offering, with limited success.

    Negotiations with Microsoft began last year and were handled directly by Sony’s senior management in Tokyo, largely without the involvement of the PlayStation unit, according to people familiar with the matter. Staff at the gaming division were caught off-guard by the news. Managers had to calm workers and assure them that plans for the company’s next-generation console weren’t affected, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing private matters.

  • A Decade of Remote Work

    So what have I learned over this decade of working and running remote teams? Let’s dive in.

  • Turning destructive arguments into productive dialog

    I loved having debates with my uncle. We’d debate a wide range of issues, but I’ll always remember one debate in particular.

    On this issue, we had very different opinions. I mentioned to him that no matter how different our opinions were, he couldn’t insult me. He didn’t agree, so I asked him to try.

    “OK,” he said. Then he started calling me names and swearing at me.

  • Science

    • RealTalk: This Speech Synthesis Model Our Engineers Built Recreates a Human Voice Perfectly

      It’s surreal for our engineers to be able to say they’ve legitimately created a life-like replica of Joe Rogan’s voice using AI. Not to mention the fact that the model would be capable of producing a replica of anyone’s voice, provided that sufficient data is available.

      As AI practitioners building real-world applications, we’re especially cognizant of the fact that we need to be talking about the implications of this. `

    • New Supercomputer Will Span Continents, Outrace World’s Fastest

      The fastest supercomputer in the world will soon be outpaced by a newer, swifter rival.

      Scientists recently completed the engineering design for the first of two paired supercomputers called the Science Data Processor (SDP). Together, these supercomputers will manage vast quantities of data collected by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a network of radio telescopes in Perth, Australia, and Cape Town, South Africa, SKA representatives said in a statement.

      An international team of researchers representing 11 countries collaborated for five years to produce the hardware, software and algorithms to drive the first of the two supercomputers, according to the statement. [9 Supercool Uses for Supercomputers]

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Creepy New Addition to McDonald’s Menu

      The great thing about corporate giants is that they’re such amazing business innovators. For example, in the category of “wheel-spinning” innovation — i.e., trying to change a corporation’s course without actually changing anything — it’s hard to top McDonald’s.

      For several years, the fast-food chain has been losing customers to younger chains with healthier, more stylish offerings. So CEO Steve Easterbrook has tried to recoup the losses with PR tricks, such as calling the menu “healthy” and “fresh.” But McNuggets and fries are still what they are, so people haven’t bitten the PR bait.

      [...]

      Far from helping customers, McDonald’s snazzy new AI ordering system will be helping the corporation by silently compiling personal information on you, ranging from your “movement patterns” to your license plate number. As Easterbrook admits, McDonald’s will use the technology to “make the most” of the data collected.

    • Abortion: White Panic Over Demographic Dilution?

      What is behind the bigotry masquerading as sanctimonious religiosity fervently opposed to abortion in the United States?

      One motivation for US conservatives’ opposition to abortion – “a woman’s right to choose” – as stated by demographer Ben Wattenberg (in his increasingly neoconservative later years, after the 1970s), and cited by the wonderful educator, Jane Elliott (“White Fear”, in her anti-racism teachings, is that white supremacists’ great fear is over demographic dilution.

      American conservatives’ opposition to abortion is not primarily concerned with preventing Blacks, Latinos, minorities and the poor from procreating too many — and “too costly” to the public purse — non-white babies, but in fact to prevent white women from producing too few white babies. 60% of the 1.6 million abortions annually in the United States are for white women.

      The banning of abortion was exactly the policy of the Nazi regime in Germany, when bounties were paid for high fertility by acceptably white – “Aryan” – women. The fertility rate of Whites in Europe, in the U.S.A., in South Africa, and in Israel with its captive and concentration-encamped Palestine, is the lowest of all ethnicities/races. Generally speaking, the poorer and darker people are, and the closer to the equator they live or come from, the more children they are likely to have produced and/or have in their families. There is a worldwide darkening of the complexion of humanity underway.

    • They’re Just About Ready to Destroy Roe v. Wade

      Militarism, consumerism, and racism have drawn alongside, and even to, misogyny and anti-immigrant hate. The juggernaut of greed, power, and hate may be impossible to stop at this point in U.S. history.

      Those of goodwill have been fighting the good fight against these regressive forces for decades. When the Vietnam War ended, only a brief hiatus of warmongering took place before the right was drawing up its vicious plans again.

      Racism has never had a vacation in the U.S. Slavery led to Jim Crow, and that turned into mass incarceration and white supremacy.

      Now, the landmark case from 1973, Roe v. Wade, is on the precipice, with the recently passed anti-abortion law in Alabama set to go into effect in six months. The Alabama law is only the latest in decades of attacks agains Roe. Challenges to that law that make it up to the U.S. Supreme Court may in fact close off a woman’s right to abortion guaranteed under Roe. States like New York, Massachusetts, and Maine, among others, have and will take strong action to protect a woman’s right to access abortion, but huge swaths of the U.S. exist as women’s health-care deserts, just as food deserts exist in many ghettoes.

    • Big Pharma Companies Accused Of Conspiring To Inflate Prices Of Over 100 Generic Drugs By Up To 1000%

      At the heart of patents lies a quid pro quo. In return for a time-limited, government-backed intellectual monopoly, companies place their inventions in the public domain after the patent has expired. The theory is that granting patents encourages innovation, although there is plenty of evidence that it doesn’t. In the world of drugs, this approach is supposed to allow other pharmaceutical companies to produce generics — low-cost versions of drugs — once they are off patent. People benefit because they can buy drugs at much cheaper prices than when they were still under patent.

      But as Techdirt has reported, for many years, Big Pharma companies around the world have been trying to renege on that deal with society. One of the main ways is through “pay for delay” schemes. A drug company holding an expired patent buys off manufacturers of generics so that it can continue to enjoy monopoly pricing. A new lawsuit brought by 44 states suggests another way Big Pharma may have been cheating the public.

    • Opinion | The Legislature’s abortion ban is a disgraceful political stunt that will cost Alabamians

      On Wednesday, Governor Ivey signed HB314 – one of the most extreme attacks on the right to abortion in recent memory – into law. HB314 outlaws virtually all abortions in the state and criminalizes doctors who provide this safe and constitutionally protected health care, threatening them with up to 99 years in prison. With her signature, Gov. Ivey has given her blessing to state law enforcement to insert itself into one of the most personal and private decisions a woman and her family can make. Indeed, these penalties are so draconian, there is no doubt the law would chill doctors from providing all manner of pregnancy-related care – even for women whose life and health are in danger – for fear of being accused of violating the ban. Given that Alabama already faces a severe shortage OB-GYNs, this is unconscionable.

    • Private Equity is a Driving Force Behind Devious Surprise Billings

      Surprise medical bills are in the news almost daily. Last Thursday, the White House called for legislation to protect patients from getting surprise doctor bills when they are rushed to the emergency room and receive care from doctors not covered by insurance at an in-network hospital.

      The financial burden on patients can be substantial — these doctor charges can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

      What’s behind this explosion of outrageous charges and surprise medical bills? Physicians’ groups, it turns out, can opt out of a contract with insurers even if the hospital has such a contract. The doctors are then free to charge patients, who desperately need care, however much they want.

      This has made physicians’ practices in specialties such as emergency care, neonatal intensive care and anesthesiology attractive takeover targets for private equity firms.

      As health reporter Bob Herman observed, acquisition of these health services “exemplifies private equity firms’ appetite for buying health care providers that wield a lot of market power.”

    • The war on women is still on

      That’s because the Alabama abortion ban is one of the most draconian revocations of women’s rights since women won the vote, a ban that would force even 11-year-old victims of rape and incest to carry to term.

      These forced birthers want to take down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that rendered abortion bans unconstitutional. And why not try to reverse it now, what with Donald Trump and his Republican-controlled Senate packing the bench with conservative judges?

      If successful, Alabama would bar “abortion and attempted abortion” by women “known” to be pregnant, whatever that means. The only exception is to “prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” As for doctors performing the procedure, they are looking at up to 99 years in prison.

      This latest vote follows other “heartbeat laws” in states across the South and Midwest. They essentially ban the procedure when a heartbeat is detected, usually about six weeks into pregnancy, a period when many women do not yet even suspect that they are pregnant and aren’t exactly rushing into clinics for ultrasounds.

      Indeed, so many states — Arkansas, Georgia, Ohio, Mississippi, North and South Dakota, Georgia, Kentucky and, now, Alabama and Missouri — have passed similar laws that the New York Times says abortion bans are now “mainstream.”

    • Bottle of Lies: How Poor FDA Oversight & Fraud in Generic Drug Industry Threaten Patients’ Health

      Generic drugs amount to 90% of all prescriptions filled in the U.S., most of them made in plants in India and China. Generic drugs can be more affordable, but in her new explosive book “Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom,” investigative journalist Katherine Eban works with two industry whistleblowers to expose how some manufacturers are cutting corners at the cost of quality and safety. This comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just issued its own update on the state of pharmaceutical quality that found the drug quality of factories in India and China scored below the world average. FDA officials say that’s because more robust inspections have uncovered problems and that “the quality of the drug supply has never been higher.”

    • Daily Dose of Protest: Voicemail For Jill – Amanda Palmer

      Alabama signed a law on May 15 which is almost a total abortion ban. The strict law does not include provisions for rape and incest victims. The law is expected to be challenged in the courts and may never take effect.

      But part of the purpose of the law was to induce litigation that would give anti-abortion activists a case that would be heard by the Supreme Court and potentially lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

      As expected, this resulted in heated debates on both sides of the aisle. When people discuss pro-life versus pro-choice the arguments are often along political or religious lines. What often gets overlooked is the humanity of those who must make the difficult decision of whether to have an abortion.

    • Racist Voter Suppression Made Alabama’s Abortion Ban Possible
    • Despite Inclusive Rhetoric, Corporations Back Extremist State Legislators Waging War on Women

      Legum took aim at six specific companies: AT&T, Walmart, pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Eli Lilly, Coca-Cola, and insurance corporation Aetna. Each corporation proudly promotes inclusion, equality, and concern for the health of women in company statements.

      “In their corporate literature, these companies present themselves as champions of women and gender equality,” wrote Legum. “But they have collectively donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians seeking to roll back reproductive rights.”

      Of the six companies, AT&T donated by far the most—$196,600, about three times as much as the next highest donor, Eli Lilly, at $66,250.

    • Ady Barkan, the Fed and the Liberal Funder Industry

      Earlier this month, New York Times reporter Binyamin Appelbaum wrote a moving piece on Ady Barkan. Ady is a lifelong activist who is now dying from A.L.S., often known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

      It is an incredibly sad story, Ady is just 35 years old. He is married with a young son. While I’m sure he would like to spend the time he has left with his loved ones, he is determined to use whatever energy he can to push for universal Medicare.

      I was sitting next to him last month when we were both testifying on universal Medicare. Ady was in a wheel chair, having lost control over most of his muscles. He could not speak and instead had a mechanical voice speak out the words he typed.

      It was clear that it was not easy for him to be there. He was sweating profusely in a room that was not particularly warm. It was a very impressive show of determination for a cause to which he is very committed.

  • Security

    • Why Are Cryptographers Being Denied Entry into the US?

      Is there some cryptographer blacklist? Is something else going on? A lot of us would like to know.

    • Security Engineering: Third Edition

      Today I put online a chapter on Who is the Opponent, which draws together what we learned from Snowden and others about the capabilities of state actors, together with what we’ve learned about cybercrime actors as a result of running the Cambridge Cybercrime Centre. Isn’t it odd that almost six years after Snowden, nobody’s tried to pull together what we learned into a coherent summary?

      There’s also a chapter on Surveillance or Privacy which looks at policy. What’s the privacy landscape now, and what might we expect from the tussles over data retention, government backdoors and censorship more generally?

    • Google halts some business with China’s Huawei: report

      Huawei will reportedly no longer be able to access Android updates, the Gmail app, the Google Play store and new versions of Google phones outside of China.

    • Google restricts Huawei’s use of Android

      Existing Huawei smartphone users will be able to update apps and push through security fixes, as well as update Google Play services.

      But when Google launches the next version of Android later this year, it may not be available on Huawei devices.

      Future Huawei devices may no longer have apps such as YouTube and Maps.

    • Forget Huawei, The Internet Of Things Is The Real Security Threat

      We’ve noted for a while how a lot of the US protectionist security hysteria surrounding Huawei isn’t supported by much in the way of hard data. And while it’s certainly possible that Huawei helps the Chinese government spy, the reality is that Chinese (or any other) intelligence services don’t really need to rely on Huawei to spy on the American public. Why? Because people around the world keep connecting millions of internet of broken things devices to their home and business networks that lack even the most rudimentary of security and privacy protections.

      Week after week we’ve documented how these devices are being built with both privacy and security as a distant afterthought, resulting in everything from your television to your refrigerator creating both new attack vectors and wonderful new surveillance opportunities for hackers and state actors.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • NetBSD 8.1 RC1 Released With MDS Mitigations, Option To Turn Off SMT/HT, Driver Updates

      The first and only anticipated release candidate for NetBSD 8.1 is now available for testing.

      The NetBSD 8.1 release candidate adds the necessary mitigations for the Microarchitectural Data Sampling / Zombieload vulnerabilities. With Hyper Threading looking increasingly insecure with these new CPU vulnerabilities, NetBSD has joined other operating systems in offering a new setting to disable HT/SMT support: the smtoff rc.conf option.

    • Outbound Traffic Filtering | Roadmap to Securing Your Infrastructure

      This week, we’re discussing outbound traffic filtering. This is filtering provided at the network edge by a firewall with rules (ACLs) restricting what internal users are allowed to access. Some firewalls have the ability to filter by an application (layer 7 firewalls), but we’re going to concentrate on standard packet-filtering firewalls and their capabilities. There are several reasons for wanting to restrict outbound communications, such as defeating malware, making data exfiltration harder, and the detection of infected hosts.

    • Bluetooth’s Complexity Has Become a Security Risk

      Fundamentally, both Bluetooth and BLE open up a channel for two devices to communicate—an extremely useful arrangement, but one that also opens the door for dangerous interactions. Without strong cryptographic authentication checks, malicious third parties can use Bluetooth and BLE to connect to a device they shouldn’t have access to, or trick targets into thinking their rogue device is a trusted one.

    • Huawei promises continued security updates and service to existing users post Google ban

      Google has shocked the world by banning Huawei from future OS versions and security updates, but existing Huawei handsets will continue getting Google Play app updates, while Huawei promises it will issue security updates instead.

    • Security Advisory: Kernel and Firmware Updates for Intel MDS Vulnerability
    • ICE Tops Its Old Record, Spends Another $820,000 On Cellphone-Cracking Tools

      As consecutive heads of the FBI have whined about the general public’s increasing ability to keep their devices and personal data secure with encryption, a number of companies have offered tools that make this a moot point. Grayshift — the manufacturer of phone-cracking tool GrayKey — has been selling hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of devices to other federal agencies not so insistent the only solution is backdoored encryption.

      ICE is one of these agencies. It led all federal agencies in phone-cracking expenditures in 2018. It spent $384,000 on these tools last year. It wasn’t just ICE. Other agencies like the DEA and [checks notes] the Food and Drug Administration have also purchased these devices. But ICE led the pack, most likely because ICE — along with DHS counterpart CBP — are engaging in more suspicionless, warrantless device searches than ever.

    • Security boffins uncover Linux variant of Winnti malware
    • Linux variant of Winnti malware spotted in wild
    • Linux variant of Winnti malware discovered by Chronicle cybersecurity experts
  • Defence/Aggression

    • NIAC Statement on Trump’s Tweet Threat to “End” Iran

      “President Trump’s saber-rattling about Iran has reached a dangerous new low with his threat to “end” Iran—a country of 83 million men, women, and children. Since the President reneged on the Iran nuclear deal last year, the administration’s policies have been geared towards provoking Iran into retaliation to give cover for a perilous escalation favored by administration hawks. There is no doubt that National Security Advisor John Bolton will use the slightest Iranian action—even bereft of reliable intelligence—as a pretext to push for the war he’s always wanted.

    • ‘Genocidal’: Trump—Who Claims He Doesn’t Want War—Threatens ‘Official End of Iran’

      As military tensions between the U.S. and Iran appeared to be gradually cooling despite dangerous provocations from the White House, President Donald Trump—who said publicly last week that he hopes there is not another war in the Middle East—took to Twitter Sunday to threaten “the official end of Iran,” a remark numerous critics condemned as “genocidal.”

      “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” Trump tweeted, without specifying how Iran threatened the United States.

      Matthew Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, speculated that Trump’s threat was prompted by a Fox News segment on Iran.

    • Targeting Iran

      A dangerous flashpoint has emerged in world politics at the moment. There is widespread fear that the United States and its allies might launch a military operation against Iran at any time. A US aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers are already deployed in the region. The alleged sabotage of four oil tankers, two of them Saudi, and the attack on a major oil pipeline are being linked in certain circles without an iota of evidence to Tehran. There is no need to repeat that scenarios of this sort are often manufactured to justify military aggression.

      For more than a year now since unilaterally repudiating the 2015 Iran nuclear deal forged between Iran and six world powers, the US has not only re-imposed economic sanctions upon Iran but has also forced other states that trade with Iran to reduce drastically their interaction with Tehran. US targeting of Iran is a grave travesty of justice for the simple reason that the UN’s nuclear inspection agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has reiterated over and over again that Iran has complied with the nuclear deal. It should not therefore be punished with old or new sanctions. This is also the position adopted by the other signatories to the deal, namely, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

    • The Violent History of the Venezuelan Opposition

      The West alleges that the Venezuelan opposition is peaceful and democratic; however, their extensive history of right-wing violence proves otherwise.

      The Venezuelan opposition is led by a predominately white bourgeoisie, the US state department and its allies. The US state department has provided at least $49 million since 2009 in aid for Venezuelan right-wing opposition forces who have sparked violent protests and murders of innocent civilians with the hopes of removing the democratically elected President Maduro. The US government has also provided $4.26 million for Venezuela through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2015 in order to fund organizations that engage in anti-government work.

      Contrary to Western narratives, these anti-government protestors have a history of escalating to extreme forms of violence, such as their burning of Venezuelan youth Orlando Jose Figuera, who was stabbed and set on fire on May 20th, 2018. This occurred in the Altamira neighborhood of Caracas, one of the wealthiest regions of the capital, after the anti-government protestors suspected he was a Chavista because he was Black. 80% of his body suffered burns and stab wounds as a result and he unfortunately died from this hate crime. This heinous act even drew the attention of Ernesto Vega, Venezuela’s Minister of Communication and Information, who issued a statement on his Twitter account following the death of Figuera, his statement is, as quoted: “Orlando Figuera, stabbed and burned alive by minds diseased by the hate in Altamira on May 20, just died of cardiopulmonary arrest,” he also elaborated that international mainstream media has failed to expose the opposition for how violent it truly is in its protests as opposed to “peaceful.”

    • From the Middle East to Northern Ireland, Western States are All Too Happy to Avoid Culpability for War Crimes

      When is a war crime not a war crime? When it’s committed by us, of course.

      But this truism is taking on a new and sinister meaning today – and not just because Trump and his crackpots may be planning another clutch of atrocities in the Middle East.

      For there is now a dangerous slippage becoming apparent in which western states are more ready than ever to countenance military crimes against humanity, to accept them, approve of them and to expect us to connive at these gross and sickening breaches of international law.

      I’m not just talking about the pathetic and grotesque behaviour of our latest minister of defence’s “amnesty on historical prosecutions” – which means we can murder Iraqis and Afghans and get away with it, but must be a bit more restrained in Northern Ireland. Not much more restrained, mind you, for just look at the snapping young Tory elites and the desiccated ex-generals who are yelping to extend this kill-by-permission to those who have killed British citizens in Belfast and Derry.

      Not only is this an insult to the humanity of Irish men and women in Northern Ireland who happen to have British citizenship; it is also placing them in a limbo-world between brown-eyed Muslims in the Middle East who can be forgotten 10 years after they have been liquidated, and blue-eyed Brits, whose murder would have squads of policemen and anti-terror squads racing through the streets of the nation to hunt down and bring to justice their killers.

      It’s not just a difference between the DNA of our victims, of course. It’s that word “historical”. For what Penny Mordaunt and her roughnecks are proposing is a statute of limitations on war crimes – something which thousands of ex-Nazis sought and prayed for after the Second World War.

    • From the Gulf of Tonkin to the Persian Gulf

      The number of world wars should bury the argument that history does not repeat itself. But the detail is different, and the devil is in the detail.

      Iran. Can warmongers again offer the arguments of weapons of mass destruction? No. The Iraq playbook can’t be repeated, but you don’t have to go too far back to find one that may suit.

      Question. Where is Iran.

      It’s in the Gulf.

      OK, Gulf, well, we obviously can’t have Gulf War or justify intervention over the invasion of an emirate.

      But we have had a Gulf before. True, different location, but it worked a treat. Dust down the Gulf of Tonkin scenario. The phantom attack on the USS Maddox in 1964 led to greater US military involvement in Vietnam.

      A Great playbook from 1964. A US ship, a new Maddox, only this time hit by Iranian bullets from a speedboat. And it’s in the Gulf. The real Gulf.

      National Security Adviser John Bolton announced on May 5 that the administration had ordered a carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf (short note on descriptions, it’s also called the Iranian Gulf or the Arabian Gulf, damn details). This was done on the basis of “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” of unspecified Iranian threats. Brilliant, nothing definite, nice and vague. Then, a week later four oil tankers (two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati) were damaged in an alleged “sabotage” attack. Again, few details have been released about the incident, which is said to have taken place early on May 12 within the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman, east of the key UAE oil terminal port in Fujairah, near the Straits of Hormuz

    • End of an era for ETA?: May Basque Peace Continue

      May 16thwe had news of the arrest of Josu Ternera, a.k.a. Jose Antonio Urrutikoetxea Bengoetxea, the former leader of Basque terrorist group, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna(ETA, Basque Homeland and Freedom) near Saint-Gervais-les-Bains in the French Alps. The operation was conducted by the Spanish Guardia Civil and the French General Directorate of Interior Security. As Ternera represents some of the ETA old guard, the news was welcome. Yet, some serious questions remain in the present. Where are the Basques and Spain in their peace process? Will further arrests of ETA commandos and ETA leadership ease enough tensions for the Spanish government to resume talks with the radical-Basque left (Batasuna)?

      It has been eight years since ETA declared a permanent and verifiable ceasefire and last year, Ternera as spokesperson for the group, declared ETA’s final dissolution.In those past eight years, many Basques have waited for a peace process and negotiations with the Spanish government along the lines of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. Even so, successive Spanish governments during this time, both conservative and liberal, have not wanted to negotiate with Basque political parties who in the past supported violence against Spanish security forces, the military and police, as well as contra Spanish politicians.

    • Iraq All Over Again? And Where Is Katharine Gun

      Some called her a traitor; others insisted she was a hero. Whatever, she blew the whistle ultimately revealing the truth behind the build-up to the Iraq War—regime change, disguised as terrifying threats of weapons of mass destruction.

      Exaggerating threats to provoke a war? Sound familiar?

      Never mind that invading another country for the purpose of regime change is illegal according to international laws to which the United States is a signatory. The team of hawks circling George Bush had long wanted to take out Saddam Hussein, as did Bush. Some of those same birds are still flapping wings in the skies above Washington. The concern among many Americans is that claims of an unprovoked, deadly attack by Iran are exaggerated. The issue is provocation. Who, one must ask, is provoking whom?

      Much to the distress of our former partners in the Iran nuclear deal, Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement and announced tougher sanctions. This, despite credible evidence that Iran was in full compliance with terms of the agreement. Provocation? Now, Trump says, he wants to see Iran back at the negotiating table. Iran, of course, isn’t interested in dealing with him. Perhaps they don’t trust him to keep his word.

    • There’s Far More Diversity in Venezuela’s ‘Muzzled’ Media Than in US Corporate Press

      The international corporate media have long displayed a peculiar creativity with the facts in their Venezuela reporting, to the point that coverage of the nation’s crisis has become perhaps the world’s most lucrative fictional genre. Ciara Nugent’s recent piece for Time (4/16/19), headlined “‘Venezuelans Are Starving for Information’: The Battle to Get News in a Country in Chaos,” distinguished itself as a veritable masterpiece of this literary fad.

      The article’s slant should come as no surprise, given Time’s (and Nugent’s) enthusiastic endorsement (2/1/19) of the ongoing coup led by self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó. Time’s report is based on a trope oft-repeated by corporate journalists for over a decade (Extra!, 11–12/06), namely that Venezuela’s elected Chavista government is an “authoritarian” regime that brutally suppresses freedom of expression. Corporate outlets frequently speak of “Chávez’s clampdown on press freedom” (New York Times, 4/30/19), “a country where critical newspapers and broadcast media already have been muzzled” and “much of Venezuela’s independent press has disappeared” (NBC, 2/3/19, 5/16/19), or the Maduro “regime” controlling “almost all the television and radio stations” (Bloomberg, 1/29/19).

    • Despite Anti-American ‘Baiting’ by NYT, Sanders Makes ‘No Apologies’ for Opposing Reagan-Backed Death Squads

      In response to what one observer described as “anti-American baiting” by a New York Times reporter over the weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders refused to shy away from his record of opposition to Reagan-backed death squads and coup plotters in Nicaragua throughout the 1980s.

      During an interview published in the print edition of the Times on Sunday, journalist Sydney Ember repeatedly asked Sanders about supposed anti-American chants that rang out during a rally he attended in Managua in 1985, when the Reagan administration was funneling arms and money to the right-wing Contras in support of their brutal and deadly effort to topple the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

    • Fire the Nutcases Leading Us to War

      President Donald Trump claimed this week that he does not want war with Iran. If he really believes this, the president ought to look into what his subordinates are doing.
      Among their bellicose actions are deployment of the ‘Abraham Lincoln CVN-72’ carrier task force to the coast of Iran, massing a strike package of B-52 heavy bombers in Qatar, just across the Gulf from Iran, positioning more US warplanes around Iran, readying a massive cyber attack against Iran, and trying to stop the export of Iranian oil, upon which its economy depends.
      Plus repeated attempts to overthrow the government in Tehran – something the US already did very skillfully in 1953.
      If all this is not war, according to Trump, then what is? It’s war by another name. Just what the US did to Cuba, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea, Nicaragua, Syria, and, since 1979, Iran. Like a shark, the US warfare state has to keep moving. So it finds threats popping up all over.

    • Trump’s Iran Trap

      Remember President Trump’s tweet and accompanying statements by the Trump administration officials concerning Iran – as reported here by CNN on May 19, 2019.

      Trump’s statement amounts to a de facto declaration of war on Iran.

      Objectively speaking, it is a lie that Iran threatens the US. It is a lie that the US sends aircraft carriers to the region in self-defence. It’s lies as blatant as the one about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.

      You may think that this is just psychological warfare and positioning. It is not. Because: Over time, this type of statements develop its own dynamics and the US will not be able to back down from what it threatens to do without loosing face.

      President Trump’s statement is a blatant violation of international law, the UN Charter’s Article 2.4 which states:
      “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

      In this extremely worrying situation of years of step-by-step US build-up to war with Iran, every and each government that does not issue a formal public protest distancing itself from this type of rogue state behaviour that endangers world security must be considered co-responsible for a war on Iran if and when it breaks out.

    • Trump’s War In Venezuela Could Be Che’s Revenge

      Che Guevara had a dream. After decades of chasing the American Empire into guerrilla street fights from Guatemala to the Congo, Che dreamed of drawing that dreadful beast into an unwinnable quagmire on the graves of its first victims in the heart of Latin America, the treacherous mountain forests of Bolivia where the Conquistadors first struck it rich with Indio silver. Che dreamed of revenge for centuries of violence, of rape, genocide and colonialism. He dreamed of creating another Vietnam in the Western Hemisphere that would spread across Uncle Sam’s indentured colonies and liberate his people, all of his people, from Tierra del Fuego to Tijuana and beyond. Che chased this Quixotic dream into the rugged highlands of Bolivia in 1966 where he got more than he bargained for. Less than a year later he would be dead at the hands of a CIA death squad. But his dream remained, festering just beneath the flesh of a thousand banana republics.

      Flash forward to a half century later. Just a few jungles north-west of Che’s grave, in the embattled nation of Venezuela. May 1st, May Day in this year of our lord Satan, twenty-hundred-and-nineteen. Everything should have gone perfectly. Everything was in place for Washington’s latest Latino coup de tat. After softening up the oil rich left-wing pariah state with decades of crippling sanctions and economic sabotage, the stage was finally set. Uncle Sam’s latest camera-ready caudillos, Juan Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez, a couple of scrumptiously fuckable brown choir boys who appear to have been hand plucked from Manudo by the School of the Americas had secured the loyalty of a score of Venezuelan power brokers from the Supreme Court to the Presidential Guard. The night before, Guaido announced his final triumphant putsch in the form of a march to his master’s house at the American embassy in Caracas. A profound publicity stunt in which the entirety of Nicholas Maduro’s fiercely loyal army would join him in overthrowing their own democratically elected government. His Employer in Chief seconded the motion vis a vis Twitter. It all should have gone perfectly, like a thousand times before.

    • The Pompeo Bolton Tag Team from Hell

      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 fulfil 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

    • Fear the Mustache: Why Bolton Makes Even Donald Trump Nervous

      Even U.S. President Donald Trump, who is getting ready to pardon war criminals, fears John Bolton. Trump had hesitated to give Bolton a seat in his Cabinet (initially because of Trump’s distaste for Bolton’s bushy mustache). Bolton and General H.R. McMaster were both in line to become National Security Adviser (NSA). Trump went with H.R. McMaster, who lasted a year. Bolton, called “The Mustache” by Trump, slipped into this consequential post. The NSA is the main adviser to the U.S. president on foreign policy—often more important than the Secretary of State. Bolton has Trump’s ear. Trump, mercurial in his policy-making, therefore, has the world’s most dangerous man whispering at him.

      As his trigger finger tightened with Iran in the gunsights, Trump said of Bolton, “if it was up to John, we’d be in four wars now.” Bolton is on record saying that he would like to turn the immense force of the U.S. military against Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. These are likely the “four wars” that Trump mentioned. These would be additional wars, for the United States remains actively at war in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq and Syria. The United States currently operates over 100 military bases—many of them in active operations—around the world.

      The normal aggressiveness of the U.S. military force does not satisfy Bolton; he wants the United States to deepen its aggressiveness.

    • Maduro Gives Trump a Lesson in Ethics and Morality

      In clear violation of the Vienna Convention, the United States police entered by force, after 37 days of resistance, the premises that housed the Venezuelan Embassy and arrested the four activists protecting the diplomatic headquarters from the terrorist vandalism of the so-called “Venezuelan opposition.

      “The Venezuelan government will respond to the invasion of its embassy in Washington within the framework of international law,” declared Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. “Once again, Donald Trump’s administration has shown how much the truth hurts and has reacted with arrogance, in violation of international law.

      The Bolivarian Minister of Foreign Affairs reported on Thursday, May 16, that his country is evaluating its response to the illegal invasion of its Embassy in the United States, although he advanced that this will be within the framework of international law and protected by the principles of reciprocity.

      From his Twitter account, Arreaza had repudiated the illegal seizure of the diplomatic headquarters by the U.S. police on Thursday. He emphasized then that with this action Washington was not fulfilling its obligations under the Vienna Convention, to which the United States and Caracas are signatories.

    • Venezuela: Amnesty International in Service of Empire

      Amnesty International fails in its broadside to put its claims against the Maduro government in the context of a concerted regime-change campaign, which amounts to war, by the bully from the north. The US is waging an illegal war against Venezuela and Amnesty International’s broadside leaves out this inconvenient fact, egregiously even omitting any mention of sanctions.

      As human rights activist Chuck Kaufman of the Alliance for Global Justice noted about Amnesty International (AI): “They don’t seem to even care about their credibility anymore.” A more credible and honest account of what is unfolding in Venezuela, than the hatchet job presented in AI’s May 14th Venezuela: Crimes against humanity require a vigorous response from the international justice system, would have also noted along with the alleged transgressions of the Maduro government:

      Grave human rights violations. Economists Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University recently reported that US sanctions on Venezuela are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. This is the price being exacted on Venezuela, with a prediction for worse to come, for the regime change that AI is implicitly promoting.

      Shortages of medicines and food. Since 2015, when US President Obama first instituted them, the US has been imposing ever more crippling illegal sanctions on Venezuela expressly to create misery for the population in the hope that it would then turn against their own democratically elected government. The sanctions are specifically designed to suffocate the economy so that Venezuela cannot address its problems. The US government boasts about the impacts of sanctions. Playing the good cop to the US role as bad cop, AI laments the very conditions they are tacitly promoting in asking for ever increasing “punishments.” New US sanctions on Venezuela were imposed on May 10th.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Missing Step

      In Sweden, prosecutors have applied to the Swedish courts to issue a warrant for Julian’s arrest. There is a tremendous back story to that simple statement.

      The European Arrest Warrant must be issued from one country to another by a judicial authority. The original Swedish request for Assange’s extradition was not issued by any court, but simply by the prosecutor. This was particularly strange, as the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm had initially closed the case after deciding there was no case to answer, and then another, highly politically motivated, prosecutor had reopened the case and issued a European Arrest Warrant, without going to any judge for confirmation.

      Assange’s initial appeal up to the UK Supreme Court was in large part based on the fact that the warrant did not come from a judge but from a prosecutor, and that was not a judicial authority. I have no doubt that, if any other person in the UK had been the accused, the British courts would not have accepted the warrant from a prosecutor. The incredible and open bias of the courts against Assange has been evident since day 1. My contention is borne out by the fact that, immediately after Assange lost his case against the warrant in the Supreme Court, the British government changed the law to specify that future warrants must be from a judge and not a prosecutor. That is just one of the incredible facts about the Assange case that the mainstream media has hidden from the general public.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Desert dust cools vulnerable Red Sea corals

      Located between two of the hottest and driest places on earth, the Red Sea is being protected by the desert dust that the winds whip up in the lands that surround it.

      The dust so effectively blocks out the sun that the Red Sea is kept cool, saving its coral reefs from dangerous overheating and providing nutrients that keep its waters healthy.

      The sea lies between North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, the world’s largest region for generating dust, which strong summer winds pump down a narrowing mountain-fringed passage that forces it into the air over the widest southern portion of the sea.

      The research, carried out by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST, the first mixed-gender university in Saudi Arabia), is part of a wider programme to discover the effect of dust in the atmosphere in changing the weather and climate.

    • Hot Arctic and a Chill in the Northeast: What’s Behind the Gloomy Spring Weather?

      When temperatures hit the 80s Fahrenheit in May above latitude 40, sun-seekers hit the parks, lakes, and beaches, and thoughts turn to summer. By contrast, when temperatures lurk in the drizzly 40s and 50s well into flower season, northerners get impatient for summer. But when those 80-degree temperatures visit latitude 64 in Russia, as they just did, and when sleet disrupts Mother’s Day weekend in May in Massachusetts, as it just did, thoughts turn to: what is going on here?

    • Hydropower dams can harm coastal areas far downstream

      Thousands of hydroelectric dams are under construction around the world, mainly in developing countries. These enormous structures are one of the world’s largest sources of renewable energy, but they also cause environmental problems.

      Hydropower dams degrade water quality along rivers. Water that flows downstream from the dams is depleted of oxygen, which harms many aquatic animals. The reservoirs above dams are susceptible to harmful algal blooms, and can leach toxic metals such as mercury from submerged soil.

      We wanted to know whether dams also impact river systems farther away, at the coastlines where rivers flow into the sea. So we performed a natural experiment comparing four rivers along Mexico’s Pacific coast – two that are dammed and two that remain free-flowing. We found that damming rivers has measurable negative ecologic and economic effects on coastal regions more than 60 miles (100 kilometers) downstream.

    • Resources for Recreational Boaters

      Understanding nautical charts is critical to navigating waterways. The U.S. Chart No. 1 provides descriptions for the symbols, abbreviations, and terms found on both paper and electronic navigational charts.

    • Did the Earth Just Lose Australia’s Climate Election?

      Australia re-elected its conservative governing Liberal-National coalition Saturday, despite the fact that it has refused to cut down significantly on greenhouse gas emissions or coal during its time in power, The New York Times reported.

    • It Was Supposed to Be Australia’s Climate Change Election. What Happened?

      The polls said this would be Australia’s climate change election, when voters confronted harsh reality and elected leaders who would tackle the problem.

      And in some districts, it was true: Tony Abbott, the former prime minister who stymied climate policy for years, lost to an independent who campaigned on the issue. A few other new candidates prioritizing climate change also won.

      But over all, Australians shrugged off the warming seas killing the Great Barrier Reef and the extreme drought punishing farmers. On Saturday, in a result that stunned most analysts, they re-elected the conservative coalition that has long resisted plans to sharply cut down on carbon emissions and coal.

      What it could mean is that the world’s climate wars — already raging for years — are likely to intensify. Left-leaning candidates elsewhere, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, may learn to avoid making climate a campaign issue, while here in Australia, conservatives face more enraged opponents and a more divided public.

    • England to Plant 130,000+ Trees to Fight Climate Change

      The UK government will fund the planting of more than 130,000 trees in English towns and cities in the next two years as part of its efforts to fight climate change, The Guardian reported Sunday.

      The plan, announced Sunday, will allow individuals, local governments, non-governmental organizations and charities to apply for grants from the Urban Tree Challenge Fund. As a challenge fund, the grants will match what the applicants themselves are able to offer for the planting of trees and continued care during their first three years of life.

    • Can Congress Find the Political Will to Solve Our Flood Problems?

      It’s been the wettest 12 months on record in the continental United States. Parts of the High Plains and Midwest are still reeling from deadly, destructive and expensive spring floods — some of which have lasted for three months.

      Mounting bills from natural disasters like these have prompted renewed calls to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by Federal Emergency Management Agency and is now $20 billion in debt.

      The program was established in 1968 as a way to provide flood insurance to properties with high flood risk — some of which is subsidized by taxpayers — and to use management programs to help reduce risk.

      But Jessie Ritter, director of water resources and coastal policy at the National Wildlife Federation, says the program has unintentionally done the opposite over the years. By offering government-funded insurance where private companies wouldn’t, it’s made it easier to build in flood-prone areas. Local land-use decisions in some places haven’t helped, either.

      Most people agree that some reform of the National Flood Insurance Program is needed. Four former FEMA administrators recently sent a letter to Congress asking for just that. But legislators — who disagree how to accomplish that goal — have been kicking the can down the road by issuing short-term extensions since the program’s last five-year authorization lapsed in September 2017.

      Most recently the House of Representatives voted May 14 to approve the 11th short-term extension. If the Senate agrees, the program would then carry on as-is until September 30.

    • DOI’s Offshore Oil Regulatory Rollback Relies On Big Oil Doc

      Yesterday, Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt testified in front of the House Natural Resources Committee about his leadership of the agency, flanked by swamp monsters in the audience highlighting his corruption.

      When Rep Huffman asked Bernhardt for specific examples of times when he told former clients “no,” when they asked for a policy change, he struggled to name a single instance. Remember, this is the man with so many conflicts of interest he has to carry them on a card, so he has plenty of former clients to choose from. After being pressed further by Huffman to name something specific, Bernhardt makes a reference to a “well control” rule.

      That’s really where it gets interesting. Bernhardt’s industry clients actually praised the DOI’s well control rollback. And not only that, but the rule actually relies on the industry’s own guidance, effectively supplanting an Obama-era regulation with an American Petroleum Institute document.

      As E&E’s Dylan Brown reported yesterday, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has been monitoring the DOI as it seeks to undo rules put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 and polluted the Gulf of Mexico with millions of barrels of oil. POGO noticed that in the final version of the rollback, DOI advises industry to follow the advice in a document from the American Petroleum Institute. That document provides for drilling to continue when conditions might otherwise require them to stop, like when the well pressure is fluctuating outside safe parameters, as it does before a blowout.

    • Lewes Liberal Democrats hand power to Tories

      Zoe Nicholson, leader of the Green group of councillors on Lewes District Council, tonight expressed frustration and anger at the actions of Liberal Democrats in refusing to join an agreed co-ooperative alliance for the council, which included Labour and independent councillors.

      She said: “The Liberal Democrats actively obstructed the proposed move to put people, planet and place ahead of party politics, leaving control with the Tory Party administration.

      “Over the past two weeks Greens took the leadership and put people first and party second. We developed an agreement that met every one of the Liberal Democrat Group’s request for equality in decision making, to implement their manifesto and that of the other groups. We agreed to them taking over the leadership in a year. Every one of their ideas and needs we built into the agreement.

    • Greens rally against hate in Burnley today

      Green Party candidate for the North West region Gina Dowding, also a Lancashire County Councillor, will today be speaking at a rally in Burnley for a community preparing to resist messages of hatred and xenophobia.

    • Wilder world can slow climate change

      Imagine a wilder world where many of the species humanity has almost wiped out are instead protected, cared for and encouraged to thrive.

      No − it’s not Jurassic Park brought to life; it’s still largely an idea waiting to happen. But if it does ever become reality rewilding, as it’s known, could do a lot for us.

      Rewilding simply means re-introducing wild creatures which used to live in countries like the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe and North America. One example is the Eurasian beaver, hunted in the UK to near-extinction several centuries ago but now making a tentative return to Britain.

      They began their UK recovery modestly: two families were imported from Norway in 2001, with more animals following later to increase genetic diversity.

    • Untangling the Politics of Dam Removal

      We’ve spent a century in the United States feverishly building more than 79,000 dams. Two decades ago we started to undo some of that, dismantling nearly 1,000 dams, many aging and unsafe, and restoring the rivers they had impoverished.

      Despite this uptick in dam removal, there’s no blueprint for how it happens — the politics, engineering and ecology are unique to each case. Still, our experience so far can help guide future dam-removal projects. That’s the premise behind a new book, Same River Twice: The Politics of Dam Removal and River Restoration, by Peter Brewitt.

      Brewitt, an assistant professor of environmental studies at Wofford College, takes a close look at three dam-removal projects in the Pacific Northwest, digging into the political, social, regulatory and scientific aspects of removal. His three historic case studies are relevant to communities across the country.

    • Because ‘BP Fueling Climate Emergency’: Greenpeace Blockades London HQ With Massive Metal Containers

      “We’re shutting down BP’s HQ because business as usual is just not an option,” Greenpeace U.K. activist Paul Morozzo said in a statement. “BP is fueling a climate emergency that threatens millions of lives and the future of the living world. The science is clear: we must stop searching for new oil and gas if we want a livable planet. BP must clean up or clear out.”

    • Breaking: “I’ve shut down BP. Here’s why.”

      As you read this, I’m sitting in a big container outside BP HQ in London, blocking one of the main entrances to the building. Along with a team of climbers on the roof, and more people in containers like mine, we’ve shut down the building. This is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but I know it’s the right thing.

    • Pushing Pro-Coal Proposal, Trump’s EPA to Downplay Plan’s Danger Using Scientifically-Unproven Method

      In its latest effort to manipulate how the human impact of its pro-business policies are perceived, the Trump administration is preparing to throw out decades-old methodology used to determine the danger of air pollution. The EPA will now favor a new method under which it would drastically undercount the number of premature deaths that pollution causes, critics say.

      The New York Times reported Monday that as the White House prepares to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) plan, the Trump administration will bolster its case for the regulatory rollback by effectively rescinding the EPA’s own estimate that it could lead to 1,400 premature deaths per year.

      That estimate was made using a peer-reviewed methodology under which the existence of fine particles of chemicals—also known as particulate matter—in the air were found to be dangerous even if they were below the level considered to be toxic. Under the EPA’s new plan, only particulate matter which reaches that level will be considered a public health risk which could lead to premature deaths.

    • ‘The Fight Is Not Over,’ Say Groups, as Coal Lover Wins Re-Election in Australia

      Calling the results “horrifying,” NYU professor Kate Crawford said on Twitter: “We’re on the brink of climate catastrophe. Australia is one of the top carbon emitters per capita in the world. The new leader has no climate change policy, and walked into parliament waving a chunk of coal. Not even kidding.”

    • Bill to Ban Circus Animal Suffering Set for Introduction in US Congress

      Animal welfare advocates are praising soon-to-be introduced legislation in the United States that would ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.

      The measure, the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA), is set to be introduced Tuesday in the House of Representatives.

      Sponsored by Arizona Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D) and David Schweikert (R), TEAPSA would amend the Animal Welfare Act by restricting the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses and other traveling performances. The animals are kept prisoner and subject to tortuous treatment in the name of entertainment.

      “Confined, abused, and forced to perform, this is the sad reality of circus life for the animals,” said TEAPSEA backer and actor Ed Asner in a statement. “The suffering never, ever stops, until they die. Let’s finally say ‘no’ to these horror shows and ‘yes’ to TEAPSPA!”

    • From Greta Thunberg to Parkland: Young Activists and the Right-Wing Smear Industry

      I recently hit the age of 50, but let me tell you one thing I don’t think as I enter the second half-century of my life: that younger citizens around me are lazy, apathetic, entitled snowflakes, ensconced in cocoons of political correctness. Younger citizens—and, yes, they are citizens even though they can’t vote—must navigate a social universe of public-ness, information overload and surveillance unthinkable to those of us who grew up in the pre-Internet, pre-social media era. And, they must do this while dealing with all of the usual things that can make the pre-teen and teen years hard: school, family, friends, bullying, and status.

      It is for this reason that there are few things as cynical, cowardly and fundamentally damaging to the long-term prospects for democracy than adults who smear and denigrate young citizens engaging in activism and civic engagement. We call kids lazy and disconnected. Yet, when those same kids dare to engage with the adult world, many grown-ups respond with arrogance and disdain. It is a dissonant message.

      As a case in point, a report was spread recently in a number of European publications and on social media that the mother of the famous Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg—who this week appears on the cover of TIME magazine—had claimed her daughter was able to “see” carbon dioxide. Predictably, this “claim” was used by opponents as evidence of 16-year old Greta’s cult-like status. The report, of course, was nonsense (yes, her mother said she could “see” carbon dioxide…but only in the sense that she could “see” the problem with carbon dioxide) rooted in a combination of bad translations, lazy journalism and a whirlpool of social media bullshit.

    • As youth activists in multiple Russian cities plan to join global climate strike, Moscow leader struggles to obtain permit

      Arshak Makichyan, a Moscow student who has been picketing weekly to push for action on the global climate crisis, wrote on Twitter that he had been denied a permit to join an international climate strike on May 24. On May 20, Makichyan posted an image of an official document denying government approval for a protest in the Russian capital. The document claimed that there would be no suitable location in the city for 500 activists to gather without disturbing other citizens. Makichyan expressed doubt about that claim and argued, “it’s meaningless to protest in the forest.”

    • A Trojan Horse or a Change of Heart? Charles Koch Rebrands.

      A majority of Americans support raising taxes on the rich in some form, according to a February poll conducted by SurveyMonkey for The New York Times. Just weeks before, a similar poll by TheHill/HarrisX, asking specifically about Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for an annual 2% tax on people with assets over $50 million, found that 74% of respondents agreed with the idea.

      Supporters of wealth taxes generally, and Warren’s specifically, include Trump voters. “I think that raising taxes on the rich should have happened a long time ago,” Virginia Connolly, who voted for Trump and runs a home-cleaning business in Florida, told the Times. “The rich, what are they going to do with all that money?”

      As The Washington Post reports Monday, if you’re Charles Koch, billionaire head of Koch Industries, you might use it to rename and reorganize your right-wing empire—funded by you and around 700 of your closest wealthy friends, who pay at least $100,000 annually—into an organization called Stand Together, formerly known as The Seminar Network, emphasizing philanthropy toward such causes as poverty, addiction, recidivism, gang violence and homelessness.

  • Finance

    • Uber’s founders have cashed in. How about the drivers?

      The ride-hailing company Uber has made its long-awaited debut as a publicly traded stock, but investor demand for the May 10 initial public offering (IPO) fell short of the company’s hopes. Part of the reason is a lingering question about its workforce: Does the still-unprofitable firm deliver low-cost rides for passengers at the expense of decent treatment for drivers, and could the resulting discontent undermine Uber’s business model?

      The issue over whether Uber drivers are employees (entitled to company benefits such as sick pay and retirement) or contractors (entitled to nothing) has been at the center of the labor controversy since the company launched a decade ago. It is still largely unresolved.

    • Uber, Lyft drivers manipulate fares at Reagan National causing artificial price surges

      Every night, several times a night, Uber and Lyft drivers at Reagan National Airport simultaneously turn off their ride share apps for a minute or two to trick the app into thinking there are no drivers available—creating a price surge. When the fare goes high enough, the drivers turn their apps back on and lock into the higher fare.

    • Are Uber and Lyft Drivers Gaming Surge Pricing to Protest Getting Screwed Over on Pay?

      Drivers told WJLA that they have resorted to using the system because of falling pay, one of the foremost reasons Uber drivers around the world went on strike in May. According to multiple studies, Uber drivers can make less than minimum wage after accounting for expenses like gas and wear and tear on their cars.

    • Baidu Posts Its First Loss Since Its IPO — and Things Could Get Worse

      However, Baidu saw red ink for the first time since its 2005 IPO, with a net loss of 327 million renminbi ($49 million), versus a profit of 6.7 billion RMB a year earlier. Its adjusted earnings — which exclude divestments, acquisitions, and other charges — plunged 80% to 967 million RMB ($144 million), or $0.41 per American Depository Share (ADS), missing estimates by $0.16.

    • The Yellow Vests of France: Six Months of Struggle

      I am writing you from Montpellier, France, where I am a participant-observer in the Yellow Vest movement, which is still going strong after six months, despite a dearth of information in the international media.

      But why should you take the time to learn more about the Yellow Vests? The answer is that France has for more than two centuries been the classic model for social innovation, and this unique, original social movement has enormous international significance. The Yellow Vests have already succeeded in shattering the capitalist myth of “representative democracy” in the age of neo-liberalism. Their uprising has unmasked the lies and violence of republican government, as well as the duplicity of representative institutions like political parties, bureaucratic unions and the mainstream media.

      Moreover, the Yellow Vests represent the first time in history that a spontaneous, self-organized social movement has ever held out for half a year in spite of repression while retaining its autonomy, resisting cooptation, bureaucratization and sectarian splits. All the while, standing up to full-scale government repression and targeted propaganda, it poses a real, human alternative to the dehumanization of society under the rule of the capitalist “market.”

    • Getting Worse Part 1: Intuit Routinely Lies To Customers To Avoid Paying Refunds For Tax Prep Work

      It appears Intuit has decided to make things worse rather than better. Just after tax season, we discussed ProPublica’s excellent research article on the extreme lengths Intuit had gone to keep its Free File service an unknown to the public. This service is the result of an agreement the top tax prep companies out there reached with the IRS. Essentially, by promising to allow members of the public that earn under a certain amount of money to use their services to file their taxes for free, the IRS in turn has agreed not to pursue its own free to file service. It’s an extremely dumb deal for any number of reasons, one of which being how much more efficient it would be for the IRS to carry the weight here, given that it already has all the information most taxpayers need to file.

      The other reason, as it turns out, is because Intuit has decided to behave pretty much as cynically as it possibly can. As we detailed in our previous post, the company engaged in a strategy coupling the buying of ads for Google searches and hiding the free to file via the robot.txt file. As a result, something like 3% of eligible taxpayers file for free using the system, while Intuit set up a layer of websites and landing pages all designed to direct the public to paid services, without ever telling them they qualified for free to file tax prep.

    • Getting Worse Part 2: Intuit’s CEO Informs Employees That Free To File Was Hidden For The Public’s Own Good

      Like we said, Intuit apparently wants to keep digging this hole for itself. After our initial coverage of ProPublica’s excellent posts on how Intuit was going to crazy lengths to keep anyone from finding its free to file tax prep site, we followed up with reports of how many Intuit reps were lying to keep from giving people refunds. Those lies included claims that Intuit and TurboTax don’t even run the free to file program and that it was instead operated by the IRS itself with TurboTax branding. Another lie was that ProPublica’s reporting was all wrong and that the news organization was about to run a retraction. Spoiler alert: no they are not.

      But it seems that the Intuit brass aren’t content only to lie to the public. Intuit’s CEO managed to cobble together an internal video — which of course leaked — so that he could lie to his own staff as well.

    • Trump’s Trade War With China Is Waged to Make the Rich Richer

      Donald Trump seems determined to double down and keep pressing forward on his trade war with China. He promises more and higher tariffs, apparently not realizing that U.S. consumers are the ones paying these taxes — not China’s government or corporations.

      While tariffs clearly impose a cost on people in the United States, this cost could be justified as a weapon to change a trading partner’s harmful practices. During his campaign, Trump pledged to wage a trade war with China over its currency policy. He said he would declare China a “currency manipulator” on day one of his administration, putting pressure on China to raise the value of its currency against the dollar.

      The value of China’s currency matters, since it determines the relative price of goods and services produced in China and the United States. Ordinarily, the currency of a rapidly growing country with a large trade surplus like China would be expected to rise against the currency of a country with a large trade deficit like the United States. However, China’s government intervened in currency markets to keep its currency from rising, thereby keeping down the price of China’s goods and services.

      This was ostensibly the behavior that Trump was determined to change in his China trade war. But now that we are in the war, the currency issue has largely disappeared from the conversation. According to the published accounts, the big issue is over China’s respect for the intellectual property claims (i.e., patent and copyrights) of U.S. corporations.

    • Without Tax Hikes on Corporations and the Rich, Critics Warn, $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan ‘Another Empty Promise’ From Trump

      “If major tax increases are off the table, there is no way to pay for a $2 trillion infrastructure plan, it’s that simple,” Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), said in a statement. “Other options, such as raising the gas tax, might be part of the package, but by themselves won’t come close to reaching the $2 trillion that’s needed.”

      During his scheduled meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Trump is expected to unveil a plan to fund an infrastructure package.

      “It will be interesting to see what the president comes up with,” said Clemente. “But without asking more from the wealthy and corporations, the plan will be just another empty promise while our roads, bridges, rail lines, and public buildings continue to deteriorate.”

      Clemente pointed out that while Senate Democrats have proposed rolling back some of the tax cuts for the rich and corporations in the Trump-GOP tax law as a way to pay for an ambitious infrastructure plan, congressional Republicans have signaled they would oppose such a move.

      And, as The Hill reported last week, Republicans in Congress “have indicated they are unlikely to support an infrastructure package” with a $2 trillion price tag “unless they can reach a deal on how to pay for it without adding to the deficit.”

    • Deutsche Bank Officials Flagged Kushner/Trump Transactions as ‘Suspicious’ But Top Execs Killed Inquiry: Report

      According to the Times report, in 2016 and 2017 employees at the bank—specifically anti-money laundering specialist Tammy McFadden—flagged transactions from Kushner Companies and the Trump Organization that were suspected of being involved with money laundering and referred them to executives in the expectation that the transactions would then be sent to the Treasury Department.

      But the executives took no action, preferring instead to kill the matter. That has McFadden, and other former employees of the bank that the Times spoke to, fuming.

      “You present them with everything, and you give them a recommendation, and nothing happens,” said McFadden, who was fired in 2018 for performance issues.

      Also fuming was President Donald Trump, who attacked the Times using one of his favored insults, “fake news.” In a lengthy Twitter thread, Trump went after the Times for its reporting on Deutsche Bank. Notably, the president didn’t address the central claims of Sunday’s article.

      “The Failing New York Times (it will pass away when I leave office in 6 years), and others of the Fake News Media, keep writing phony stories about how I didn’t use many banks because they didn’t want to do business with me,” tweeted Trump.

    • Revolting Against Speaker’s Inaction, Pelosi’s Own Leadership Team Demands Trump Impeachment Proceedings

      After the Trump administration instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to refuse to comply with a Judiciary Committee subpoena to testify, several members of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team privately confronted the Democratic leader late Monday and demanded impeachment proceedings against the president immediately in response to the latest attempt to stonewall congressional oversight.

      According to the Washington Post, at least “five members of Pelosi’s leadership team—four of whom also sit on the House Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over impeachment—pressed Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a closed-door leadership meeting to allow the panel to start an [impeachment] inquiry, which they argued would help investigators attain documents and testimony that Trump has blocked.”

      [...]

      “There’s no doubt that opening an inquiry strengthens the hand of Congress in forcing compliance with subpoenas, whether it’s for documents or individuals,” Cicilline told the Post.

      Raskin reportedly made a similar case during the meeting, arguing that impeachment hearings “would allow leadership to streamline and centralize all of the investigations into one—and let everyone else focus on the Democratic agenda items that won them the majority in 2018,” the Post reported.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • A Kompromat Mystery: Collapsing the Austrian government with a video

      The Austrian vice chancellor, HC Strache an extreme right wing politician, was exposed in a brilliant piece of kompromat that has collapsed a government in a weekend. When deploying weaponised kompromat the correct channel is via the most damaging source. Politicians are most exposed to public perceptions, a shared knowledge base primarily influenced by public mainstream media. Strache’s political capital was no match against the double barrelled blast from SZ and Der Spiegel – two major German language newspapers with Pulitzers and reputations for good journalism.

    • Finland is winning the war on fake news. What it’s learned may be crucial to Western democracy

      The course is part of an anti-fake news initiative launched by Finland’s government in 2014 – two years before Russia meddled in the US elections – aimed at teaching residents, students, journalists and politicians how to counter false information designed to sow division.

    • GOP Congressman Who Calls for Impeachment Stands Alone

      He was known in the Michigan statehouse as “Mr. No” for voting against some Republican legislation. But now in Congress, on the question of whether President Donald Trump should be impeached, Rep. Justin Amash is the lone Republican saying “Yes.”

      In tweeted remarks over the weekend, Amash wrote that he’s read special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Trump’s conduct during and after the 2016 presidential election. Mueller did not find evidence of conspiracy with Russia, but he revealed startling details about Trump’s efforts to shut down the probe and made no recommendation on obstruction. Amash did, becoming the only Republican in Congress to call for the House to formally charge the president.

      “Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” Amash, a longtime Trump critic, tweeted on Saturday after reading the report. Specificially, Amash tweeted, the findings identify “multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice.”

    • Trump Critics Call on Democrats to Heed GOP Rep. Justin Amash’s ‘Wake-Up Call’ and Begin Impeachment Proceedings

      Trump critics on Monday pointed to what they said was the latest evidence that congressional Democrats must begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump: the fact that the move now has the support of at least one Republican.

      Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) became the first Republican to publicly call for the House to draw up articles of impeachment against Trump in a Twitter thread on Saturday, arguing that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the president’s campaign offers ample evidence that Trump obstructed justice.

    • Bob Hawke: Misunderstood in Memoriam

      He became an exaggeration of the common man with gifts, the everyday man with other worldly talents. But many of his instincts were standard political attributes: vanity, a lust for power, a desire for the top position. As the Labor government of Gough Whitlam shuddered through its short burst of occupancy between 1972 and 1975, Hawke was having meetings with US embassy sources.

    • Trump Baby Must Fly, Because Friends Don’t Let Friends Play Host to Lying Whoremongering Authoritarians

      Finally getting the grown-up hoopla he was inexplicably promised two years ago by P.M. Theresa May, Little Donnie will make his first and God willing last state visit to the U.K. June 3 to 5 to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day and what the White House calls “the steadfast and special relationship” between our two countries. No doubt to honor his illustrious military career, Private Bone Spurs will attend an elaborate D-Day ceremony in Portsmouth complete with a flyover of 26 types of RAF aircraft and “one of the greatest British military spectacles in recent history”; he will also dine with the Queen, meet with May, and travel to Normandy with President Macron to pretend he actually knows something about the history he’s supposedly celebrating. During his trip last year across the pond, Trump avoided London and its massive protests, but he also missed out on the shiny, hollow pomp – the carriage ride! the ranting to Parliament! – his fragile-yet-imperial ego craves. This year, with even more atrocities under his belt, it seems unlikely he’ll be greeted with the adoring crowds of his fever dreams given that Brits are responding to his “bonkers” visit with comments like, “kissing his despotic a** is out of the question,” “The entire UK denounces Trump for what he is: simply put, an international embarrassment,” and “friends don’t let friends play host to lying whoremongering authoritarians.”

    • ‘This Is the Cover-Up’: Trump DOJ Instructs McGahn to Disregard Subpoena by House Judiciary

      The Trump administration on Monday, via a legal opinion issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, has directed former White House counsel Don McGahn to disregard a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee meant to compel testimony about the president’s alleged efforts to obstruct justice by thwarting the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

      According to the DOJ memo (pdf), authored by the Office of Legal Counsel, “Congress may not constitutionally compel the President’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties. This testimonial immunity is rooted in constituional separation of powers and derives from the President’s independence from Congress.”

      Independent journalist Judd Legum said the order from the White House was a “pivotal moment” in the ongoing battle between the president and House Democrats. “This is the cover-up,” he said.

    • The Disinformationists

      So, the election-meddling Putin-Nazi disinformationists are at it again! Oh yes, while Americans have been distracted by Russiagate, Obstructiongate, Redactiongate, or whatever it’s being called at this point, here in Europe, we are purportedly being bombarded with Russian “disinformation” aimed at fomenting confusion and chaos in advance of the upcoming EU elections, which are due to take place in less than two weeks.

      The New York Times reports that an entire “constellation” of social media accounts “linked to Russia and far-right groups” is disseminating extremist “disinformation,” “encouraging discord,” and “amplifying distrust in the centrist parties that have governed for decades.”

    • Why Are Democrats So Scared of Impeachment?

      Why haven’t congressional Democrats moved to impeach Donald Trump? Is their failure to act due to an inexcusable lack of courage and political will, or is the inaction attributable to an understandable fear of failure?

      The answer, unfortunately, is a bit of both. Given the president’s thoroughgoing corruption and reckless disregard for the rule of law, impeachment is imperative.

      But impeachment is a two-step process, and that’s where the fear sets in. Even if the current Democratic majority in the House votes to impeach Trump, there is little prospect that the Senate will convict the president and remove him from office following an impeachment trial conducted in the upper chamber.

      Sooner rather than later, Democrats will have to find the fortitude to set aside their fears. The president and his new attorney general, William Barr, are daring them to initiate impeachment proceedings, refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas and document requests seeking, among other items, Trump’s tax returns, and the full, unredacted report by special counsel Robert Mueller.

      As New York Times reporters Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt recently noted, “As the White House and Congress escalate their constitutional showdown, President Trump and his team are essentially trying to call what they see as the Democrats’ bluff. The message: Put up or shut up. Impeach or move on.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • TOSsed Out: Highlighting the Effects of Content Rules Online

      Today we are launching TOSsed Out, a new iteration of EFF’s longstanding work in tracking and documenting the ways that Terms of Service (TOS) and other speech moderating rules are unevenly and unthinkingly applied to people by online services. As a result of these practices, posts are deleted and accounts banned, harming those for whom the Internet is an irreplaceable forum to express ideas, connect with others, and find support.

      TOSsed Out continues in the vein of Onlinecensorship.org, which EFF launched in 2014 to collect reports from users in an effort to encourage social media companies to operate with greater transparency and accountability as they regulate speech. TOSsed Out will highlight the myriad ways that all kinds of people are negatively affected by these rules and their uneven enforcement.

      Last week the White House launched a tool for people to report incidents of “censorship” on social media, following the President’s repeated allegations of a bias against conservatives in how these companies apply their rules. In reality, commercial content moderation practices negatively affect all kinds of people, especially people who already face marginalization. We’ve seen everything from Black women flagged for sharing their experiences of racism to sex educators whose content is deemed too risqué. TOSsed Out will show that trying to censor social media at scale ends up removing legal, protected speech that should be allowed on platforms

    • Flip Side To ‘Stopping’ Terrorist Content Online: Facebook Is Deleting Evidence Of War Crimes

      Just last week, we talked about the new Christchurch Call, and how a bunch of governments and social media companies have made some vague agreements to try to limit and take down “extremist” content. As we pointed out last week, however, there appeared to be little to no exploration by those involved in how such a program might backfire and hide content that is otherwise important.

      We’ve been making this point for many, many years, but every time people freak out about “terrorist content” on social media sites and demand that it gets deleted, what really ends up happening is that evidence of war crimes gets deleted as well. This is not an “accident” or such systems misapplied, this is the simple fact that terrorist propaganda often is important evidence of war crimes. It’s things like this that make the idea of the EU’s upcoming Terrorist Content Regulation so destructive. You can’t demand that terrorist propaganda get taken down without also removing important historical evidence.

      It appears that more and more people are finally starting to come to grips with this. The Atlantic recently had an article bemoaning the fact that tech companies are deleting evidence of war crimes, highlighting how such videos have actually been really useful in tracking down terrorists, so long as people can watch them before they get deleted.

    • EFF Project Shows How People Are Unfairly “TOSsed Out” By Platforms’ Absurd Enforcement of Content Rules

      San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched TOSsed Out, a project to highlight the vast spectrum of people silenced by social media platforms that inconsistently and erroneously apply terms of service (TOS) rules.

      TOSsed Out will track and publicize the ways in which TOS and other speech moderation rules are unevenly enforced, with little to no transparency, against a range people for whom the Internet is an irreplaceable forum to express ideas, connect with others, and find support.

      This includes people on the margins who question authority, criticize the powerful, educate, and call attention to discrimination. The project is a continuation of work EFF began five years ago when it launched Onlinecensorship.org to collect speech takedown reports from users.

      “Last week the White House launched a tool to report take downs, following the president’s repeated allegations that conservatives are being censored on social media,” said Jillian York, EFF Director for International Freedom of Expression. “But in reality, commercial content moderation practices negatively affect all kinds of people with all kinds of political views. Black women get flagged for posting hate speech when they share experiences of racism. Sex educators’ content is removed because it was deemed too risqué. TOSsed Out will show that trying to censor social media at scale ends up removing far too much legal, protected speech that should be allowed on platforms.”

    • Kazakhstan Cops Protect Citizens’ Free Speech Rights By Arresting A Protester Holding A Blank Sign

      Sometimes it sucks to be right. Sagutdinov hoped to point out the “idiocy” of his country and its laws. Protesting nothing in particular, he was arrested by police and taken to the station. So far, there’s been nothing reported as to which charges, if any, he’ll be facing. But it’s too late for the cops and his idiotic country. The point has already been made.

      The police argued — via an official statement — that order must be maintained or something. According to the police, officers had “received a report” of an “unknown male” holding a blank placard and drawing a small crowd of curious onlookers. Rather than align themselves with the content of Sagutdinov’s placard and do nothing, officers chose to something. And that “something” was to drive their irony-proof squad car to the scene and detain the protester.

    • ‘Meduza’ responds to censorship scandal at ‘Kommersant’

      Kommersant’s billionaire owner, Alisher Usmanov, has forced out two of the newspaper’s journalists, Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov, after they wrote a story claiming that Valentina Matviyenko might step down as Federation Council chairperson, to clear the way for Russia’s current Foreign Intelligence Service director, Sergey Naryshkin. You can read the article here.

      Kommersant’s editor-in-chief and CEO, Vladimir Zhelonkin, told the newspaper Vedomosti: “We have parted ways with these journalists because our editorial standards were violated during the preparation of this story.” In other circumstances that are sadly absent in today’s Russia, Zhelonkin might have to explain exactly what editorial standards were broken, given that the newspaper’s entire politics desk resigned in protest, after Safronov and Ivanov were fired.

    • Two top Russian journalists are forced to quit, and an entire department follows

      On May 20, two top journalists at the Russian newspaper Kommersant announced their resignation. Special correspondent Ivan Safronov and editor Maxim Ivanov left the newspaper at the request of the company’s owner, Alisher Usmanov, after they published an article claiming that Russia’s Federation Council chairperson Valentina Matvienko might leave her post. Eleven other journalists, including Kommersant’s entire politics department, soon quit their jobs as well to protest the owner’s intervention.

    • A statement by Kommersant’s employees following the mass resignation of their colleagues

      Today, our newsroom received official notice that the Kommersant Publishing House broke off its working relationship with two of our coworkers, special correspondent Ivan Safronov and deputy politics editor Maxim Ivanov. On paper, the resignations followed an “agreement among all parties involved,” and representatives for Alisher Usmanov, a businessman and Kommersant shareholder, told Vedomosti that Usmanov “does not interfere in editorial politics, let alone make decisions about firing or hiring journalists.” One representative clarified, “Mr. Usmanov found out about the resignations of Kommersant’s employees from subsequent press coverage.”

    • ‘Kommersant’ board chairman says journalists were fired for refusing to reveal their sources

      Ivan Streshinsky, Kommersant’s board chairman and publishing house owner Alisher Usmanov’s representative, told the website The Bell that the firing of journalists Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov is not connected to the content of an article published on April 18 about Federation Council chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko stepping down to clear the way for Russia’s current Foreign Intelligence Service director, Sergey Naryshkin.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Millions of Instagram influencers had their private contact data scraped and exposed

      The database, hosted by Amazon Web Services, was left exposed and without a password allowing anyone to look inside. At the time of writing, the database had over 49 million records — but was growing by the hour.

      From a brief review of the data, each record contained public data scraped from influencer Instagram accounts, including their bio, profile picture, the number of followers they have, if they’re verified and their location by city and country, but also contained their private contact information, such as the Instagram account owner’s email address and phone number.

    • Contact Details Of 49 Million+ Instagram Celebrities Leaked Online

      massive trove of data containing contact information of more than 49 million Instagram influencers and celebrities has surfaced online. As reported by TechCrunch, the database existed on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and was not encrypted or protected by password, making the details visible to anyone.

    • Surprise! Police are allegedly abusing facial recognition software
    • Garbage In, Garbage Out

      There are no rules when it comes to what images police can submit to face recognition algorithms to generate investigative leads. As a consequence, agencies across the country can—and do—submit all manner of “probe photos,” photos of unknown individuals submitted for search against a police or driver license database. These images may be low-quality surveillance camera stills, social media photos with filters, and scanned photo album pictures.3 Records from police departments show they may also include computer-generated facial features, or composite or artist sketches.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • News of two foreign journalists missing in Saudi Arabia

      Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has obtained confirmation that the Saudi authorities are holding Marwan Al Muraisi, a Yemeni journalist missing in Saudi Arabia since June 2018, and Abdel Rahman Farhaneh, a Jordanian journalist who disappeared in the east of the country in February of this year.

    • Petition to abandon United States as a venue for computer science conferences.

      Here is a petition if you want to support researchers of Machine Learning who are struggling to get visas to go to the AI conferences (ICML, NeurIPS, ICLR, etc.) that are often held in the United States. Basically it is really frustrating when you work for a year or so on the research and finally get accepted at the top conferences but then cannot present it because software engineers and computer scientists are suspicious to the US government and always require administrative processing. This happened to me this year (5th time already in total) and to another author of the paper, so neither of us can go to present our work at ICLR 2019. This happens more frequently than you might think (especially if you never applied for US visa) and impacts a lot of scientists around the globe.

    • We’re losing foreign students due to Trump immigration rules, N.J. college presidents lament

      Delays in processing visa applications and “staggering” requests for more and more paperwork are threatening to drive foreign students and professors away from New Jersey universities, the presidents of 25 of the state’s four-year colleges said in a letter sent Thursday.

      The colleges took the unusual step of writing a joint letter — signed by the presidents of all 25 schools along with the chancellors of each of Rutgers University’s campuses — to New Jersey’s congressional delegation saying the “log-jammed” immigration system is costing them students and money.

    • Hearing Wednesday: Can Criminal Defendants Review DNA Analysis Software Used to Prosecute Them?

      Fresno – On Wednesday, May 22, at 9 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will argue that criminal defendants have a right to review and evaluate the source code of forensic DNA analysis software programs used to create evidence against them. The case, California v. Johnson, is on appeal to a California appeals court.

      In Johnson, the defendant was allegedly linked to a series of crimes by a software program called TrueAllele, used to evaluate complex mixtures of DNA samples from multiple people. As part of his defense, Johnson wants his defense team to examine the source code to see exactly how TrueAllele estimates whether a person’s DNA is likely to have contributed to a mixture, including whether the code works in practice as it has been described. However, prosecutors and the manufacturers of TrueAllele claim that the source code is a trade secret and that the commercial interest in secrecy should prevent a defendant from reviewing the source code—even though the defense has offered to follow regular procedure and agree to a court order not to disclose the code beyond the defense team.

    • Can It Happen Here?

      Can it happen here? Absolutely it can. Even in a liberal bastion. A few weeks ago, a handful of white supremacists marched into a bookstore in Washington D.C., temporarily disrupting a talk by Jonathan Metzl, the author of Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland.

      To put this in context, this was in Politics and Prose, in hip DuPont Circle, during an Antiracist Book Festival, on the same day that a 19-year-old white supremacist shot up a California synagogue, killing one person and injuring three others.

      Around the same time, two members of the same group, calling itself the American Identity Movement, dressed up in clown suits to disrupt a story hour for kids led by drag queen performers at a New Orleans public library.

      These aren’t isolated events. The Washington Post reports that white nationalists have been targeting bookstores and libraries across the country for a while, in one instance, going so far as to threaten to burn the store down. Elsewhere, progressive groups are facing threats of violence and intimidation on campus; for example in Portland, where white so-called Patriot groups have targeted meetings of the DSA and the ISO and vandalized an office of the IWW.

    • Palace: DFA to extend assistance to Morales, family after HK travel ban

      Malacañang on Monday said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) would extend assistance to former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales after she was stopped from entering Hong Kong.

      “I already called up Usec [Ernesto] Abella as Secretary [Teodoro] Locsin is in Myanmar, and requested him to give assistance to former Ombudsman Morales and her family. He already replied and said they are already on it,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a text message to reporters on Tuesday.

      “We will render assistance to every Filipino in need of assistance abroad regardless of their political persuasion,” he added.

      Morales was barred entry to Hong Kong on Tuesday for being a “security threat.”

    • Head of Program Profiling Muslims in Chicago Steps Down Amid Pressure

      Have you ever been angered by U.S. and Western foreign policy? Been at a transitional time in your life? Grown facial hair? Worshiped at a mosque? If you said “yes” to any of these questions — you might be considered a potential violent extremist by the U.S. government.

      The Obama-era Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program claims to identify people who might be vulnerable to “radicalization” by using indicators such as “difficulties in school, searching for a sense of belonging, and acculturation difficulties experienced by refugee youth” that range from vague to overtly racialized. This approach is not backed up by social science, and the program’s indicators disproportionately target Muslim and Arab communities, effectively criminalizing everyday behavior.

      Chicago’s StopCVE coalition won a major victory against this racist program this month, when the head of the local iteration of CVE, Junaid Afeef, stepped down, and there are no current plans to replace him — as verified by the Arab American Action Network in a phone call with the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), which administers the CVE program in Illinois, and which has received a $187,000 Department of Homeland Security grant. No press statement was released by the organization.

      Because controversy surrounded CVE from the very beginning, recent iterations of the program have rebranded, using progressive-sounding frames to obscure their true intent. In Illinois, CVE was rebranded as the “Targeted Violence Prevention Program” (TVPP), which engages in “bystander-gatekeeper” trainings and holds “hate crime focus groups.”

    • Protest art group Voina’s leader arrested in Germany

      The performance art group Voina announced on Twitter that the group’s leader, Oleg Vorotnikov, has been arrested in Germany. The group also posted a message on its website saying that Vorotnikov is in urgent need of an attorney in Berlin.

      The news of Vorotnikov’s arrest has not yet been confirmed by the German government.

    • Embattled Yekaterinburg cathedral sponsors plan to remove wall from contested park ‘in the name of peace’

      Alexander Andreyev, the director of Yekaterinburg’s St. Catherine’s Foundation, announced that a wall erected around the planned construction site of a new cathedral in the city would soon be taken down. For several days last week, protesters occupied the site in hopes of preserving the green space already present there.

    • Border Patrol Museum Demonstrators Targeted In Crackdown On Immigrant Rights Protests

      Four activists turned themselves in to El Paso police on May 13 after the police issued warrants for their arrest related to a nonviolent demonstration inside a United States Border Patrol museum.

      The 15-minute action in February highlighted the stories of Jakelin Caal Maquin, Felipe Gomez Alonzo, and Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, three migrant youth who died in Border Patrol custody between May and December 2018.

      The four activists—Amanda Tello, Nicolas Cruz, Monica Chan, and Skylar Ruch—are among 16 people who face charges related to the demonstration. Three of those are charged with trespassing, while 13 are charged with felony criminal mischief – an alleged crime that carries a prison sentence of up to two years.

      Before entering the police department on May 13, Tello, Cruz, Chan, and Ruch, who are part of the coalition “Tornillo: the Occupation,” read statements about the spirit of their work.

      The activists were released after several hours in custody. Two other activists previously surrendered to police.

    • 5th Migrant Child Dies in U.S. Custody

      A 16-year-old Guatemala migrant who died Monday in U.S. custody had been held by immigration authorities for six days — twice as long as federal law generally permits — then transferred him to another holding facility even after he was diagnosed with the flu.

      The teenager, identified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection as Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, was the fifth minor from Guatemala to die after being apprehended by U.S. border agents since December.

      Advocates demanded that President Donald Trump’s administration act to safeguard the lives of children in detention as border crossings surge and the U.S. Border Patrol detains thousands of families at a time in overcrowded facilities, tents, and outdoor spaces.

      “We should all be outraged and demand that those responsible for his well-being be held accountable,” said Efrén Olivares, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project.

    • Another Federal Magistrate Says Compelled Production Of Passwords/Biometrics Violates The Fifth Amendment

      In another judicial rarity, a magistrate judge has rejected a warrant request by the federal government to compel a criminal suspect to unlock a phone found during the search of his residence. It won’t set precedent but it does present some arguments suspects will find useful when faced with orders for compelled production of passcodes or passwords.

      Earlier this year, a California magistrate came to the same conclusion, finding that compelled production of fingerprints or faces to unlock phones violated the Fifth Amendment rights of the suspects targeted by the warrant. Equating biometric security features with passwords, the judge denied the warrant request, stating that if it’s a Fifth Amendment violation to compel password production, it’s a Fifth Amendment violation to force someone to apply their fingerprints to a locked device.

      The device in this case is apparently secured by a swipe pattern. This would require more input from the suspect than simply applying a finger to the device. The court finds [PDF] that this act would be testimonial — covered by Fifth Amendment protections against self-implication. But it goes further, finding that attempting to violate Fifth Amendment rights causes violations of Fourth Amendment rights.

    • Soon You May Not Even Have to Click on a Website Contract to Be Bound by Its Terms

      If you’re like most people, you’ve probably clicked “I agree” on many online contracts without ever reading them. Soon you may be deemed to have agreed to a company’s terms without even knowing it. A vote is occurring Tuesday that would make it easier for online businesses to dispense with that click and allow websites that you merely browse — anything from Amazon and AT&T to Yahoo and Zillow — to bind you to contract terms without your agreement or awareness.

      As public outcry mounts over companies like Facebook collecting and selling user information, the new proposal would prime courts and legislatures to give businesses even more power to extract data from unwitting consumers. If the proposal is approved, merely posting a link to a company’s terms of service on a homepage could be enough for the company to conclude that a user has agreed to its policies. That includes everything from provisions that allow the sale of customer data or grant the right to track visitors to policies that limit consumers’ legal rights by barring them from suing in court or in class actions. Some courts have already given their blessing to this practice. But the proposal up for a vote Tuesday is set to make those kinds of business-friendly rulings all the more common.

      The proposal has outraged consumer advocates, state attorneys general and other constituencies. They see it as improperly tilting the scales in favor of business interests. They argue that the solution is creating clearer, simpler contracts rather than lengthy, confusing ones that are harder to find. The proposal’s authors counter that they have simply summarized trends in American law.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The Bullshit Reason Ajit Pai Is Using to Back the T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

      Consumer rights groups including Free Press objected to Pai’s announcement.

      “The digital divide isn’t just about rural buildout — though as others opposing the deal have shown, the merged companies’ spectrum wouldn’t allow for decent rural coverage at 5G speeds,” said Free Press Vice President of Policy and General Counsel Matt Wood. “Both T-Mobile and Sprint are already building 5G networks without the deal. The digital divide the FCC should focus on is the affordability crisis. It leads to an adoption gap that makes it hard for poorer people to get online, and it keeps people of color disconnected more often than other demographic groups. People who rely on prepaid services won’t see any benefits from the conditions the FCC is touting with such glee this morning.”

    • Leaving Google Fi

      About a year ago I tried to get my parents to switch from AT&T to Google Fi. I even made a spreadsheet for my dad (who likes those sorts of things) about how much money he could save. He wasn’t interested. His one point was that at anytime he can go in and get help from an AT&T rep. I kept asking “Who cares? Why would you ever need that?”. Now I know. He was paying almost $60 a month premium for the opportunity to able to talk to a real person, face-to-face! I would gladly pay that now.

    • Trump’s FCC Chair Accused of Betraying Public Interest Mandate by Backing T-Mobile/Sprint Mega-Merger

      Consumer advocates rebuked FCC chairman Ajit Pai on Monday after the Trump appointee backed the proposed mega-merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.

      “Ajit Pai doesn’t even try to pretend that he works for the public,” said Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer. “He seems to take smug pleasure in being a blatant telecom shill.”

      Pai’s approval followed what Engadget put as “a fresh round of promises [from the companies] to win regulators’ hearts.”

      Those promises—which the advocacy groups say do nothing to prevent the harms of the proposed merger—include Sprint divesting from Boost Mobile; the deployment of nearly-nationwide 5G network within 6 years; expanding high speed wireless service; and facing billions in fines if the agreement is violated. Pai’s statement also referenced the “prior commitment not to raise prices for three years” made by the two companies.

      “In light of the significant commitments made by T-Mobile and Sprint as well as the facts in the record to date, I believe that this transaction is in the public interest and intend to recommend to my colleagues that the FCC approve it,” Pai said in a statement.

  • DRM

    • We Are Tenants on Our Own Devices

      Today, we may think we own things because we paid for them and brought them home, but as long as they run software or have digital connectivity, the sellers continue to have control over the product. We are renters of our own objects, there by the grace of the true owner.

    • DRM and terms-of-service have ended true ownership, turning us into “tenants of our own devices”

      Tufekci’s analysis points out a serious problem in the “Surveillance Capitalism” critique that says that paying for devices and services (rather than getting them through an advertising subsidy) would restore dignity and balance to the tech world. When Apple charges you $1,000 for a phone and then spends millions killing Right to Repair legislation so that you’ll be forced to buy repair services from Apple, who will therefore be able to decide when it’s time to stop fixing your phone and for you to buy a new one, then it’s clear that “if you’re not paying for the product” is a serious misstatement, because in a world of Big Tech monopolies, even when you’re paying for the product, you’re still the product.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • EU Blocks ‘Brexit Beer’ Trademark, First As ‘Offensive’, Then As Non-Distinctive

        Brexit, as most of you will know, is still a full on mess. And, frankly, it’s been a mess since the historic vote was taken and the British public rode a wave of nationalism draped in false promises to decide to economically scuttle their own country. In the nearly three years since, the British government has managed to put on an impressive performance piece on dysfunctional government, managing to refuse to agree on how to actually implement the will of their own people.

        At the same time that all of this has been going on, some opportunistic folks have been attempting to cash in on the Brexit story by trademarking the term, without even having a plan for how to use those marks. As we’ve pointed out in past posts, this sort of attempt to cash in is fully annoying, but not illegal. Which makes it sort of strange to watch the EU throw everything against the wall just to see what’s sticky enough to deny a UK brewer his trademark for Brexit Beer.

        Upon first reviewing the application, the EU’s IPO denied it on the insane grounds that the term “Brexit” is offensive.

    • Copyrights

      • 8 Best Torrent Search Engine Sites To Find Any Torrent [2019 Edition]

        If you have been living close to the torrent ecosystem, you might realize that there exist tons of torrent sites where you can search torrent files. But if you remember, when the FBI nabbed the operators of KAT, many people heard the term torrent search engine for the first time.

      • Italian Version of Article 17 Requires LEGAL Content to Be Filtered Out

        Last Friday the text of the new EU Copyright Directive was published on the Official Journal of the EU. However, due to glaring error, the Italian translation of Article 17 (formerly 13) requires online platforms such as YouTube to prevent the availability of works “that do not infringe copyright”, even in cases where such works are “subject to an exception or limitation”.

      • 15 Best Sites to Watch Movies and TV Shows Online in 2019

        Old days of watching TV together with the family members and sometimes even with your neighborhood is long gone! Once we struggled to get a cable connection, and now most of the people do not bother about having one, because now the TV has gone far beyond it. The only thing people need to entertain themselves is a computer/Mobile device and an internet connection.

        With no time to watch our favorite TV shows, most of us have happily switched to watching TV on our computers or smartphones. There are various sites today that not only features all the TV serials currently running, but also features some famous old TV series. Some sites also have their original web series and movies to make sure that you can find something to match your taste.

        With numerous sites available, each trying to offer the best of service, it is important for you to create your top watch-to list. Here are our picks for the same so that you utilize your time in watching TV rather than struggling to choose one!

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