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05.22.19

Links 22/5/2019: Mesa 19.0.5, Huawei and GNU/Linux, Curl 7.65.0, End of Antergos, Tails 3.14, ownCloud Server 10.2, Firefox 67.0

Posted in News Roundup at 5:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Windows ban? Huawei laptops disappear from Microsoft Store

      Huawei laptops running Windows appear to have disappeared from the Microsoft Store online, following the decision by the US Commerce Department to put the Chinese firm on a list that forces it to seek permission to buy American products.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Dark Style Rises | LINUX Unplugged 302

      Can the Free Desktop avoid being left behind in the going dark revolution? Cassidy from elementary OS joins us to discuss their proposal.

      Plus we complete our Red Hat arc by giving Silverblue the full workstation shakedown, Drew shares his complete review, and we discuss the loss of Antergros.

    • mintCast 309 – Virtualization
  • Kernel Space

    • Linus Torvalds Kicks Off Development of Linux Kernel 5.2, First RC Out Now

      The two-week merge window is now closed and the first RC (Release Candidate) milestone has been released for public testing and early adoption to discover pesky bugs and other annoyances that might block the final release of the Linux 5.2 kernel series later this summer. Things looks normal for now and everything is on track for a calm release.

      “Things look fairly normal. Just about two thirds of the patch is drivers (all over), with the bulk of the rest being Arch updates, tooling, documentation and vfs/filesystem updates, of which there were more than usual (the unicode tables for ext4 case insensitivity do end up being a big part of the “bulk” side),” says Linus Torvalds in a mailing list announcement.

    • Sad News – Martin Schwidefsky

      We are devastated by the tragic death of Martin Schwidefsky who died
      in an accident last Saturday.

      Martin was the most significant contributor to the initial s390 port
      of the Linux Kernel and later the maintainer of the s390 architecture
      backend. His technical expertise as well as his mentoring skills were
      outstanding. Martin was well known for his positive mindset and his
      willingness to help.

      He will be greatly missed.

    • systemd Clocks In At More Than 1.2 Million Lines

      Five years ago today was the story on Phoronix how the systemd source tree was approaching 550k lines so curiosity got the best of me to see how large is the systemd Git repository today. Well, now it’s over 1.2 million lines.

      After surpassing one million lines in 2017, when running GitStats on the systemd Git repository today it’s coming in at 1,207,302 lines. Those 1.2 million lines are spread across 3,260 files and made over 40,057 commits from nearly 1,400 different authors.

    • Graphics Stack

      • mesa 19.0.5
        Hi List,
        
        I'd like to announce the availability of mesa 19.0.5. Just as a reminder the
        plan is to have one more release of the 19.0 series in two weeks, but that is
        subject to change base on the 19.1 release progress.
        
        Things have slowed back down from the last release, which is good for this late
        in the series. No one area has received too much work, with a little bit
        sprinkled in here and there in both core code and drivers.
        
        Dylan
        
        Shortlog
        ========
        
        Caio Marcelo de Oliveira Filho (2):
              nir: Fix nir_opt_idiv_const when negatives are involved
              nir: Fix clone of nir_variable state slots
        
        Charmaine Lee (2):
              st/mesa: purge framebuffers with current context after unbinding winsys buffers
              mesa: unreference current winsys buffers when unbinding winsys buffers
        
        Dylan Baker (5):
              docs: Add SHA256 sums for mesa 19.0.4
              cherry-ignore: add patches for panfrost
              cherry-ignore: Add more 19.1 patches
              bump version to 19.0.5
              docs: Add release notes for 19.0.5
        
        Eric Engestrom (1):
              meson: expose glapi through osmesa
        
        Gert Wollny (2):
              softpipe/buffer: load only as many components as the the buffer resource type provides
              Revert "softpipe/buffer: load only as many components as the the buffer resource type provides"
        
        Ian Romanick (1):
              Revert "nir: add late opt to turn inot/b2f combos back to bcsel"
        
        Jason Ekstrand (3):
              intel/fs/ra: Only add dest interference to sources that exist
              intel/fs/ra: Stop adding RA interference to too many SENDS nodes
              anv: Only consider minSampleShading when sampleShadingEnable is set
        
        Józef Kucia (1):
              radv: clear vertex bindings while resetting command buffer
        
        Kenneth Graunke (1):
              i965: Fix memory leaks in brw_upload_cs_work_groups_surface().
        
        Leo Liu (1):
              winsys/amdgpu: add VCN JPEG to no user fence group
        
        Lionel Landwerlin (1):
              anv: Use corresponding type from the vector allocation
        
        Marek Olšák (1):
              st/mesa: fix 2 crashes in st_tgsi_lower_yuv
        
        Nanley Chery (1):
              anv: Fix some depth buffer sampling cases on ICL+
        
        Samuel Pitoiset (1):
              radv: add a workaround for Monster Hunter World and LLVM 7&8
        
        
      • Mesa 19.0.5 Released As The Series Approaches The End

        Mesa 19.0.5 is now available as what is expected to be the second to the last release in the Mesa 19.0 series.

        Mesa 19.0.5 has just around two dozen fixes, mostly all minor items. There are random fixes throughout ranging from NIR and other core components to the Intel ANV / i96t5 / Radeon RADV drivers.

      • mesa 19.1.0-rc3
        Hello, list.
        
        The third release candidate for Mesa 19.1.0 is now available.
        
        Remind that right now there are two bugs blocking the final release:
        
        #110302 - [bisected][regression] piglit egl-create-pbuffer-surface and egl-gl-colorspace regressions
        #110357 - [REGRESSION] [BISECTED] [OpenGL CTS] cts-runner --type=gl46 fails in new attempted "41" configuration
        
        
        Caio Marcelo de Oliveira Filho (2):
              nir: Fix nir_opt_idiv_const when negatives are involved
              nir: Fix clone of nir_variable state slots
        
        Charmaine Lee (2):
              st/mesa: purge framebuffers with current context after unbinding winsys buffers
              mesa: unreference current winsys buffers when unbinding winsys buffers
        
        Dave Airlie (1):
              glsl: init packed in more constructors.
        
        Eric Engestrom (2):
              util/os_file: always use the 'grow' mechanism
              meson: expose glapi through osmesa
        
        Gert Wollny (1):
              Revert "softpipe/buffer: load only as many components as the the buffer resource type provides"
        
        Ian Romanick (1):
              Revert "nir: add late opt to turn inot/b2f combos back to bcsel"
        
        Jason Ekstrand (5):
              intel/fs/ra: Only add dest interference to sources that exist
              intel/fs/ra: Stop adding RA interference to too many SENDS nodes
              anv: Emulate texture swizzle in the shader when needed
              anv: Stop forcing bindless for images
              anv: Only consider minSampleShading when sampleShadingEnable is set
        
        Juan A. Suarez Romero (2):
              cherry-ignore: radeonsi: update buffer descriptors in all contexts after buffer invalidation
              Update version to 19.1.0-rc3
        
        Lionel Landwerlin (4):
              nir: fix lower_non_uniform_access pass
              vulkan/overlay-layer: fix cast errors
              vulkan/overlay: fix truncating error on 32bit platforms
              nir: lower_non_uniform_access: iterate over instructions safely
        
        Marek Olšák (1):
              radeonsi: remove old_va parameter from si_rebind_buffer by remembering offsets
        
        Nanley Chery (1):
              anv: Fix some depth buffer sampling cases on ICL+
        
        Neha Bhende (1):
              draw: fix memory leak introduced 7720ce32a
        
        Samuel Pitoiset (1):
              radv: add a workaround for Monster Hunter World and LLVM 7&8
        
      • Mesa 19.1-RC3 Brings NIR, Vulkan Driver Fixes & Other Changes

        If all goes well the Mesa 19.1 release will be happening in the next week or two. But for those wanting to help test this open-source graphics driver stack, Mesa 19.1-RC3 was released today as the newest weekly release candidate.

        Mesa 19.1-RC3 isn’t particularly exciting but brings a handful of changes throughout. Most of the changes this week pertain to fix-ups with the NIR code, the Intel ANV and Radeon RADV Vulkan drivers, a few core Mesa/GLSL changes, a lone RadeonSI code change, and some other minor work. The changes aren’t too noticeable for end-users but at least on the RADV front is a workaround for the Monster Hunter World game when using LLVM 7/8 AMDGPU code.

    • Benchmarks

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 Benchmarks On AMD EPYC – Big Speed-Ups Over RHEL7

        Since the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 at the start of May we’ve been running various benchmarks of this latest enterprise Linux platform. Our tests to date have been with Intel Xeon hardware where it’s been performing well and a nice speed-up over RHEL 7 with modern Xeon Scalable CPUs. Similarly, AMD EPYC is also much faster with RHEL 8.0 thanks to the much newer Linux kernel, compiler, and other software updates.

        AMD EPYC screams on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 compared to RHEL 7.6. The modern AMD server platform performs much better thanks to the GCC 8.2 compiler replacing the older GCC 4.8 compiler that came well before any Zen support. The Linux 4.18 kernel is also a blessing for newer AMD (and Intel/IBM/ARM) hardware compared to the heavily-patched Linux 3.10 kernel of RHEL7. RHEL 8.0 also shifted over to the MQ-Deadline scheduler for SATA SSDs compared to the non-MQ deadline scheduler and the plethora of upgraded packages compared to RHEL7 also means a big deal for performance at large.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • [GSoC – 1] Achieving consistency between SDDM and Plasma

        I’m very excited to start off the Google Summer of Code blogging experience regarding the project I’m doing with my KDE mentors David Edmundson and Nate Graham.

        What we’ll be trying to achieve this summer is have SDDM be more in sync with the Plasma desktop.

        What does that mean? The essence of the problem is quite simple: you can customize Plasma to no end, yet the only thing you can customize in SDDM is the cursor theme. As a customization-loving user, this has been a big pet peeve of mine. In my attempts to work around the issue I’ve already went as far as adding one too many config points to the Breeze SDDM theme. So to finish that project and thereby solve our GSoC issue, perhaps we could just hook up the respective KCM’s UI to those options…

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.34′s Mutter Lowers Output Lag On X11 To Match Wayland Performance

        Adding to the list of positive changes with GNOME 3.34 due out this September is lowering possible output lag when running GNOME’s Mutter on X11/X.Org.

        GNOME has experienced higher output lag on X.Org-based sessions rather than Wayland in some configurations. In particular, the higher output lag on X11 could be experienced when dragging around windows and seeing possible lag. Fortunately, as of today’s latest Mutter 3.33 series development code, that lag has been addressed.

  • Distributions

    • Antergos Linux Project Ends

      What started as a summertime hobby seven years ago quickly grew into an awesome Linux distribution with an even more awesome community around it. Our goal was to make Arch Linux available to a wider audience of users by providing a streamlined, user friendly experience including a safe place for users to communicate, learn, and help one another. There have been 931,439 unique downloads of Antergos since 2014 (when we began keeping track). We think it’s safe to say we’ve accomplished our goal.

      Today, we are announcing the end of this project. As many of you probably noticed over the past several months, we no longer have enough free time to properly maintain Antergos. We came to this decision because we believe that continuing to neglect the project would be a huge disservice to the community. Taking this action now, while the project’s code still works, provides an opportunity for interested developers to take what they find useful and start their own projects.

      For existing Antergos users: there is no need to worry about your installed systems as they will continue to receive updates directly from Arch. Soon, we will release an update that will remove the Antergos repos from your system along with any Antergos-specific packages that no longer serve a purpose due to the project ending. Once that is completed, any packages installed from the Antergos repo that are in the AUR will begin to receive updates from there.

    • Antergos Linux has been Discontinued

      Beginner-friendly Arch Linux based distribution Antergos has announced that the project is being discontinued.

    • Arch-Based Antergos Linux Distribution Calls It Quits
    • Manjaro Vs Ubuntu

      Everyone who is associated with technology and core programming must have heard of names like Ubuntu, Arch Linux, Debian, and Mint. While many of you have years of experience working on various kernels, switching platforms and developing software; there’s a fair amount of individuals, who don’t have enough knowledge regarding the smaller and currently emerging distributions. One such distro of Linux is Manjaro.

    • New Releases

      • Kali Linux 2019.2 Release

        Welcome to our second release of 2019, Kali Linux 2019.2, which is available for immediate download. This release brings our kernel up to version 4.19.28, fixes numerous bugs, includes many updated packages, and most excitingly, features a new release of Kali Linux NetHunter!

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Academic Support Center BiASC connects the SUSE Academic Program with Belgium and Luxembourg

        The SUSE Academic Program has taken significant strides in new territories with the help of trusted academic partners from different regions. BiASC is an academic support organization that connects with IT academies from higher and secondary education and from non-commercial and professional training institutions. Already working with a number of universities, including the University of Luxembourg and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, we hope to see our footprint spread with support from BiASC.

      • Raspberry Pi Close To Seeing CPUFreq Support

        Nicolas Saenz Julienne of SUSE has been working on CPUFreq support for the Raspberry Pi single board computers to allow for the Linux kernel to provide CPU frequency scaling controls.

        This CPUFreq support communicates with firmware running on a dedicated processor on the Raspberry Pi that is responsible for adjusting the CPU frequencies as well as that of the VPU and related blocks. The driver can request changes to the CPU frequencies though isn’t necessarily honored depending upon thermal factors and other criteria. The firmware also offers the ability to request a turbo mode, but that can boost up other clocks and appears to be causing issues at least with the current state of the Raspberry Pi kernel drivers.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Molly de Blanc: remuneration

    I am a leader in free software. As evidence for this claim, I like to point out that I once finagled an invitation to the Google OSCON luminaries dinner, and was once invited to a Facebook party for open source luminaries.

    In spite of my humor, I am a leader and have taken on leadership roles for a number of years. I was in charge of guests of honor (and then some) at Penguicon for several years at the start of my involvement in FOSS. I’m a delegate on the Debian Outreach team. My participation in Debian A-H is a leadership role as well. I’m president of the OSI Board of Directors. I’ve given keynote presentations on two continents, and talks on four. And that’s not even getting into my paid professional life. My compensated labor has been nearly exclusively for nonprofits.

    Listing my credentials in such concentration feels a bit distasteful, but sometimes I think it’s important. Right now, I want to convey that I know a thing or two about free/open source leadership. I’ve even given talks on that.

    Other than my full-time job, my leadership positions come without material renumeration — that is to say I don’t get paid for any of them — though I’ve accepted many a free meal and have had travel compensated on a number of occasions. I am not interested in getting paid for my leadership work, though I have come to believe that more leadership positions should be paid.

  • ownCloud Server 10.2 Release – Power to the Users

    ownCloud 10.2 introduces advanced sharing permissions, automatic synchronization in federated clouds and improved rights for users.

  • How to advance your career by contributing to open source projects

    In 2017, I wrote my (so-far) most popular article of all time, “The Impact GitHub is Having on Your Software Career, Right Now…,” on Medium. In that article, I cast the vision for how you can develop your career through open source contributions. It clearly struck a nerve—it got 382 points and 237 comments on Hacker News. Many of the comments hated on it so hard—they disagreed with my main premise—but I felt they had missed the point. At the time I was a recruiter with 10 years of engineering experience, working at Red Hat.

    There is nothing I love more than a challenge, so I went “deep cover.” I quit my job as a recruiter and got a job as a software engineer in a pure closed-source company that uses BitBucket and has PCI-compliant security. Fourteen months later, I got hired by Camunda to work as the developer advocate for Zeebe, a workflow engine for orchestrating microservices, purely based on my open source contributions while working at that job. I just did everything I advised readers to do in the comments of my original Medium article.

  • Events

    • The Document Foundation and LibreOffice Online at OW2con 2019

      OW2con 2019 is the annual open source event bringing together the OW2 community, technology experts, software architects, IT project managers and decision-makers from around the world. The conference will be hosted by the Orange Gardens Innovation Center, Paris-Châtillon, on June 12-13, 2019.

    • Highlights Video of Red Hat Summit Keynotes

      If you missed Red Hat Summit, you should not despair: we’ve compiled a highlights video that captures the breadth and depth of what’s happening in the Red Hat OpenShift Ecosystem and beyond. From Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, to IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, the keynotes at the show demonstrated the widespread support and enthusiasm Red Hat has built across many technical domains. If you’ve got time, there will be dozens of videos from the show popping up on our YouTube Channel, keynotes or otherwise, over the coming weeks. For now, however, here’s the highlight reel featuring appearances from IBM, Delta, Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin, Volkswagen, Deutsche Bank, Microsoft, Kohl’s, OneMain, UPS, NVIDIA, HCA Healthcare, Boston Children’s Hospital, Optus, BP, Emirates NBD, and BMW. And there were a lot more customers speaking. Just take a look:

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Version 67.0, first offered to Release channel users on May 21, 2019
      • Latest Firefox Release is Faster than Ever

        With the introduction of the new Firefox Quantum browser in 2017 we changed the look, feel, and performance of our core product. Since then we have launched new products to complement your experience when you’re using Firefox and serve you beyond the browser. This includes Facebook Container, Firefox Monitor and Firefox Send. Collectively, they work to protect your privacy and keep you safe so you can do the things you love online with ease and peace of mind. We’ve been delivering on that promise to you for more than twenty years by putting your security and privacy first in the building of products that are open and accessible to all.

        Today’s new Firefox release continues to bring fast and private together right at the crossroads of performance and security. It includes improvements that continue to keep Firefox fast while giving you more control and assurance through new features that your personal information is safe while you’re online with us.

      • Firefox 67.0 Released, ownCloud Announces New Server Version 10.2, Google Launches “Glass Enterprise Edition 2″ Headset, Ubuntu Expands Its Kernel Uploader Team and Kenna Security Reports Almost 20% of Popular Docker Containers Have No Root Password

        Firefox 67.0 was released today. From the Mozilla blog: “Today’s new Firefox release continues to bring fast and private together right at the crossroads of performance and security. It includes improvements that continue to keep Firefox fast while giving you more control and assurance through new features that your personal information is safe while you’re online with us.” You can download it from here, and see the release notes for details.

      • Firefox 67.0 Released, Upgrading to Dav1d AV1 Decoder

        Mozilla Firefox 67.0 was released today with performance improvements and some new features.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 59
      • The Fastest Firefox Ever: Firefox 67 Now Available For Windows, Linux, And Mac

        ver since Mozilla developers released the much-anticipated Firefox Quantum in 2017, the open source company has been continuously working to improve the overall performance and security measures deployed in the web browser. The latest Firefox 67 release isn’t any deviation and the developers are promising big performance gains for the users.

      • Firefox 67.0 Released With Better Performance, Switches To Dav1d AV1 Decoder

        Mozilla set sail Firefox 67.0 this morning as the newest version of this web browser and the update is heavy on the feature front.

        Firefox 67.0 brings a number of performance improvements, the ability to block known cryptominers/fingerprinters, better keyboard accessibility, usability/security enhancements to Private Browsing, various ease-of-use improvements, switching to DAV1D as its AV1 video decoder, FIDO U2F API support, security fixes, and various JavaScript API additions.

      • Firefox 67 released

        The Mozilla blog takes a look at the Firefox 67 release.

      • Firefox 67 Is Here, And It’s “Faster Than Ever”

        A brand new version of the Mozilla Firefox web-browser is now available to download, and the release is being dubbed the ‘fastest yet’.

        Now, granted, every other release of Firefox seems to carry a similar claim, although few have felt as unequivocally speedy as the Quantum release in 2017.

        But in Firefox 67 the speed boosts are palpable.

      • Save and update passwords in Private Browsing with Firefox

        Private browsing was invented 14 years ago, making it possible for users to close a browser window and erase traces of their online activity from their computers. Since then, we’ve bundled in various levels of tracking protection and privacy control. While that’s great, some basic browser functionality pieces were missing from the Private Browsing Mode experience, namely giving you the option to save logins and passwords and giving you the power to choose which extensions you wanted enabled.

      • No-Judgement Digital Definitions: What is Cryptocurrency?

        Cryptocurrency, cryptomining. We hear these terms thrown around a lot these days. It’s a new way to invest. It’s a new way to pay. It’s a new way to be deeply confused. To many of us, crypto-things sound like technobabble from sci fi movie. If you’re used to thinking about money as something that is issued by your government, kept in a bank and then traded for goods and services, then wrapping your head around cryptocurrency might be a bit of work, but we can do it!

      • Let Firefox help you block cryptominers from your computer

        Is your computer fan spinning up for no apparent reason? Your electricity bill inexplicably high? Your laptop battery draining much faster than usual? It may not be all the Netflix you’re binging or a computer virus. Cryptocurrency miners may be using your computer’s resources to generate cryptocurrency without your consent. We know it sounds like something out of a video game or one of those movies that barely gets technology right, but as much as cryptomining may sound like fiction, the impact on your life can be very real.

      • How to block fingerprinting with Firefox

        If you wonder why you keep seeing the same ad, over and over, the answer could be fingerprinting.

        Fingerprinting is a type of online tracking that’s different from cookies or ordinary trackers. This digital fingerprint is created when a company makes a unique profile of your computer, software, add-ons, and even preferences. Your settings like the screen you use, the fonts installed on your computer, and even your choice of a web browser can all be used to create a fingerprint.

      • Firefox 67: Dark Mode CSS, WebRender, and more

        Firefox 67 is available today, bringing a faster and better JavaScript debugger, support for CSS prefers-color-scheme media queries, and the initial debut of WebRender in stable Firefox.

      • The Cost of Fragmented Communication

        Mozilla recently announced that we are planning to de-commission irc.mozilla.org in favour of a yet to be determined solution. As a long time user and supporter of IRC, this decision causes me some melancholy, but I 100% believe that it is the right call. Moreover, having had an inside glimpse at the process to replace it, I’m supremely confident whatever is chosen will be the best option for Mozilla’s needs.

        I’m not here to explain why deprecating IRC is a good idea. Other people have already done so much more eloquently than I ever could have. I’m also not here to push for a specific replacement. Arguing over chat applications is like arguing over editors or version control. Yes, there are real and important differences from one application to the next, but if there’s one thing we’re spoiled for in 2019 it’s chat applications. Besides, so much time has been spent thinking about the requirements, there’s little anyone could say on the matter that hasn’t already been considered for hours.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

    • What You Should Know About Contributor License Agreements In Open Source Projects

      An open source project comprises a community of software developers that agree to develop a common software-code base and make it freely available but subject to certain license requirements. The resulting software is typically vetted by multiple contributors to the open source project and may be further updated and improved based on their contributions. Open source software is prevalent in many popular software products, including Mozilla Firefox, WordPress, GNU/Linux, Android mobile devices, Open Java Development Kit (OpenJDK), and even commercial products like Apple’s OS X.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Flex PCB Fabrication

        I’ve gotten a few people asking me where I get my flex PCBs fabricated, so I figured I’d make a note here. I get my flex PCBs (and actually most of my PCBs, except laser-drilled microvia) done at a medium-sized shop in China called King Credie. Previously it was a bit hard to talk about them because they only took orders via e-mail and in Chinese, but they recently opened an English-friendly online website for quotation and order placement. There’s still a few wrinkles in the website, but for a company whose specialty is decidedly not “web services” and with English as a second language, it’s usable.

        Knowing your PCB vendor is advantageous for a boutique hardware system integrators like me. It’s a bit like the whole farm-to-table movement — you get better results when you know where your materials are coming from. I’ve probably been working with King Credie for almost a decade now, and I try to visit their facility and have drinks with the owner on a regular basis. I really like their CEO, he’s been a circuit board fabrication nerd since college, and he’s living his dream of building his own factory and learning all he can about interesting and boutique PCB processes.

  • Programming/Development

    • Python built-ins worth learning

      In every Intro to Python class I teach, there’s always at least one “how can we be expected to know all this” question.

    • Append Contents to a File

      In this article, we’ll examine how to append content to an existing file using Python.

    • The 2019 Python Language Summit

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

    • Petr Viktorin: Extension Modules And Subinterpreters
    • Episode #131: Python 3 has issues (over on GitHub)
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #369 (May 21, 2019)
    • Interactive Data Visualization in Python With Bokeh
    • OpenJDK 8 and 11: Still in safe hands

      In 2018, Oracle announced that it would only provide free public updates and auto-updates of Java SE 8 for commercial users until the end of January 2019. Java 8 is a very important platform, used by millions of programmers, so this was a big deal. The Java community needed to fill the gap.

      In February of this year, I was appointed as the new Lead of the OpenJDK 8 Update Releases Project. A couple of weeks later, I was appointed the new Lead of the OpenJDK 11 Updates Project. This is an important milestone in the history of OpenJDK and of Java SE because it’s the first time that a non-Oracle employee has led the current long-term OpenJDK release project. JDK 8 is still a much-used Java release in industry, and JDK 11 is the current long-term maintenance release.

      It’s now a couple of weeks after the first releases of JDK8u and JDK11u on my watch. I think the process went pretty well, although it was not entirely smooth sailing for the developers. Having said that, we got our releases out on the day, as planned, and so far we’ve seen no major problems.

Leftovers

  • TechnicalDebt

    Thinking of this as paying interest versus paying of principal can help decide which cruft to tackle. If I have a terrible area of the code base, one that’s a nightmare to change, it’s not a problem if I don’t have to modify it. I only trigger an interest payment when I have to work with that part of the software (this is a place where the metaphor breaks down, since financial interest payments are triggered by the passage of time). So crufty but stable areas of code can be left alone. In contrast, areas of high activity need a zero-tolerance attitude to cruft, because the interest payments are cripplingly high. This is especially important since cruft accumulates where developers make changes without paying attention to internal quality – the more changes, the greater risk of cruft building up.

  • Science

    • Huge New Study Finds Almost No Evidence That Social Media Makes Kids Unhappy

      Among the many narratives making the rounds these days about how terrible the internet and social media apparently are, one popular trope is the idea that using social media makes people depressed. Just last year there was a study purporting to show that limiting your social media use could limit depression. But that study was conducted by an undergrad at UPenn, based on just 143 other UPenn students. Not exactly the most rigorous of studies. A much more thorough, careful, and methodologically sound study was just released finding little impact on “adolescent life satisfaction” from using social media. The study was conducted by three researchers at Oxford’s well-respected Internet Institute, including Professor Andrew Przybylski, who has a history of very thoughtful work in this space.

    • Social media effect ‘tiny’ in teenagers, large study finds

      The effects of social media use on teenage life satisfaction are limited and probably “tiny”, a study of 12,000 UK adolescents suggests.
      Family, friends and school life all had a greater impact on wellbeing, says the University of Oxford research team
      It claims its study is more in-depth and robust than previous ones.
      And it urged companies to release data on how people use social media in order to understand more about the impact of technology on young people’s lives.
      The study, published in the journal PNAS, attempts to answer the question of whether teenagers who use social media more than average have lower life satisfaction, or whether adolescents with lower life satisfaction use more social media.
      Past research on the relationship between screens, technology and children’s mental health has often been contradictory.

  • Hardware

    • Apple Is Finally Fixing the Keyboards on MacBook Pros

      Apple’s newest MacBook Pros, which are being announced today and include significant bumps in power and performance, are still using Apple’s third-generation “butterfly” keyboard. But the company says these keyboards have a change in the physical material that exists within the butterfly mechanism that will address some of the issues that MacBook users have been experiencing. The company declined to say exactly what the material change was. [...]

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Research on Children’s Health Risks in Doubt Over EPA Funds

      Long-running research projects credited with pivotal discoveries about the harm that pesticides, air pollution and other hazards pose to children are in jeopardy or shutting down because the Environmental Protection Agency will not commit to their continued funding, researchers say.

      The projects being targeted make up a more than $300 million, federally funded program that over the past two decades has exposed dangers to fetuses and children. Those findings have often led to increased pressure on the EPA for tighter regulations.

    • Why We Must Legalize Marijuana

      The federal prohibition on marijuana has been a disaster. For decades, millions of Americans have been locked up and billions of dollars have been wasted. It’s also deepened racial and economic inequality.

      We must end this nonsensical prohibition.

      The facts are staggering. In 2017, more Americans were arrested for marijuana possession than for murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery combined.That’s one marijuana arrest every minute.

      The costs associated with enforcing this ban – including arrests, court costs, and incarceration – reach nearly $14 billion a year.

      Prohibition also hurts the economy in terms of lost wages. And Americans with criminal records have a harder time finding a job and getting the education they need.

    • A Beacon of Hope: Nevada’s Women Lawmakers Pass Abortion Rights Bill

      On a day when most of the country was protesting a move back to the dark ages for women’s reproductive rights, Nevada became “the only state that had something to celebrate” by passing Senate Bill 179, also known as the #Trust Nevada Women Act, which decriminalizes abortion and removes several decades-old restrictions on it. The bill passed 27 to 13 in what since the mid-terms has been the country’s first majority-female legislature – in contrast, say, to Alabama, where men just banned abortion and women not coincidentally make up just 15% of lawmakers. In Nevada, observers say, the state’s old, white, sexist, brothel-owning, sexual-harassing guard are dying off, and increasingly yielding power to more young, racially diverse, Democratic women who once believed “politicians aren’t us” and then learned otherwise, in part thanks to newly galvanized political action groups recruiting and training women. The results are startling: Today, more than 17 pending bills deal with sexual assault and misconduct, bills to ban child marriage and study maternal mortality are on the docket, and women’s voices have joined policy debates on gun safety and prison reform. A few years ago, says Assembly Majority Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson, “None of these bills would have seen the light of day.”

    • 6 Reasons Impossible Burger’s CEO Is Wrong About GMO Soy

      Throughout the U.S., major food brands are trying to get rid of GMO ingredients—not necessarily for the right reasons, but because nearly half of consumers say they avoid them in their food, primarily for health reasons.

      But the CEO of Impossible Foods, purveyor of the Impossible Burger, is bucking that trend.

      The manufacturers of the controversial veggie burger just announced that in the future, due to “high demand” for the product, its plant-based patties will be made using GMO soy.

      The formula change was made to ensure the smooth rollout of the Impossible Burger in Burger King restaurants. The soy formulation is apparently better able to withstand Burger King’s trademark flame grilling. As a result, in early in 2019, Impossible Foods dumped the textured wheat protein it had been using and replaced it with soy protein concentrate instead.

      Pat Brown, founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, publicly defended the move. But a closer look reveals that Brown’s claims about the healthfulness and sustainability of “Impossible Burger 2.0” just don’t stack up.

      Here are six reasons the CEO of Impossible Burger is wrong when he claims that GMO soy is “the safest and most environmentally responsible option” for scaling up production of the fake meat product—a product that already uses a genetically engineered yeast, called heme, as its key ingredient.

    • Students learn about protecting water quality at Lake St. Clair Water Festival
    • Let’s Shut Down the Economy to Fight for Abortion Rights

      In recent weeks, several states have passed incredibly restrictive laws against abortion. The specifics of these laws vary, but the end result is the same: abortion is becoming illegal again. In many cases, these laws threaten anyone who gets or performs an abortion with prison time.

      The Alabama bill (HB 314) reclassifies performing an abortion at any stage of the pregnancy as a Class A felony, meaning that doctors will face a minimum of 10 years and up to 99 years in prison. The law states that people who seek or attain abortions will not face criminal or civil liability. There are exceptions for “serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” ectopic pregnancies, and pregnancies in which the fetus has a “lethal anomaly.” However, there are no exceptions for situations involving rape, incest, or pregnancy of a minor.

      The Georgia bill (HB481) is similar but does include exceptions for rape and incest. In contrast to the Alabama bill, the Georgia bill lacks a provision exempting the person seeking the abortion from prosecution. Currently, being found guilty of breaking abortion law in Georgia results in between 1 and 10 years of prison time. However, the language of the bill leaves room for prosecutors/judges to redefine abortion as homicide, meaning that pregnant people and their doctors could both be charged under criminal codes pertaining to murder and manslaughter.

      The Missouri state senate also passed a bill (HB126) early Thursday morning that bans abortions after eight weeks, without any exceptions for cases of rape and incest. The bill does include provisions for when the person seeking an abortion is a minor, but these provisions primarily take the form of making obtaining an abortion more difficult, not less.

    • ‘We’re Still Going to Be Making Sure People Have Access to Abortions They Want and Need’ – CounterSpin interview with Jill Heaviside and Oriaku Njoku on reproductive rights assaults

      Clyde Chambliss, Alabama senate sponsor of a law banning virtually all abortion, was asked whether the law would likewise criminalize in vitro fertilization clinics that discard embryos. His answer was clear: “The egg in the lab doesn’t apply. It’s not in a woman.”

      You could spend all day pointing out indications that the legislators seeking to curtail abortion access are not driven by concern for the sanctity of all (even potential) human life, but by the desire to exert authority over particularly some women’s lives and possibilities.

      Blowing away the fog around the anti-abortion movement is useful, not as an end in itself, but if it helps us see how to move effectively to ensure all women’s human rights, while protecting those made particularly vulnerable under the current onslaught.

    • Up next – Trial in Monsanto’s hometown set for August after $2 billion Roundup cancer verdict

      After three stunning courtroom losses in California, the legal battle over the safety of Monsanto’s top-selling Roundup herbicide is headed for the company’s hometown, where corporate officials can be forced to appear on the witness stand, and legal precedence shows a history of anti-corporate judgments.

      Sharlean Gordon, a cancer-stricken woman in her 50s, is the next plaintiff currently set for trial. Gordon v. Monsanto starts Aug. 19 in St. Louis County Circuit Court, located just a few miles from the St. Louis, Missouri-area campus that was the company’s longtime world headquarters until Bayer bought Monsanto last June. The case was filed in July 2017 on behalf of more than 75 plaintiffs and Gordon is the first of that group to go to trial.

    • State Duma passes bill allowing Russians with HIV to adopt children already living with them

      Russia’s State Duma has approved the third and final reading of a bill that allows people with HIV, hepatitis C, and other viruses to adopt children who are already living with them.

    • Trump Owns This Attack on American Women

      As Georgia, Ohio and Alabama have passed laws drastically restricting access to safe, legal abortion or even banning it outright, women’s health care and rights have jumped to the forefront of our nation’s political conversation once again. As a doctor, the leader of the most trusted reproductive health organization in the country and a mother, I am outraged and disgusted by the rhetoric that devalues women and the attacks that will cost us our freedoms, our health and our lives.

      But I also think President Trump and his allies have grossly overreached and made a huge political mistake. This is now a fight we can and will win, if Americans are ready to act on their convictions and make women’s health a priority. And by doing so, we will not only protect women’s health care and rights for this generation and generations to come, but we will also shine a spotlight on Trump’s disastrous overall agenda and cynical political style in a way that will resonate through the 2020 elections.

      For those of us who have been watching closely, the events of the past few weeks were expected. Trump promised his base that he would pack the federal courts with extreme judges, and he has done that. Politicians who have been plotting for years to ban abortion in the United States have promised to move outrageous and unconstitutional laws through their states to challenge Roe v. Wade, and they’ve done that, too. And now opponents of Roe, a decision that has been settled law for nearly 50 years, are prepared to take these state laws to a Supreme Court that Trump has swung to the right in anticipation of this very moment.

    • ‘It’s a Sure Winner—Except for the Profiteers’: 200+ Economists Send Letter to Congress Endorsing Medicare for All

      “Medicare for All will give us a system already proven in other countries: much lower costs with less hassle and worry,” Sachs said. “It’s a sure winner—except for the profiteers.”

      In their letter (pdf), the economists highlighted the fact that the United States spends far more on healthcare than other industrialized nations while achieving significantly worse results—a crisis they say can be remedied by transitioning to a single-payer system.

      “Evidence from around the world demonstrates that publicly financed healthcare systems result in improved health outcomes, lower costs, and greater equity,” the letter states. “For these reasons the time is now to create a universal, single-payer, Medicare for All healthcare system in the United States.”

      The economists’ endorsement of Medicare for All comes just 24 hours before the House Budget Committee is scheduled to hold just the second-ever congressional hearing on single-payer. The panel will discuss Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash.) Medicare for All Act of 2019, which currently has 108 co-sponsors.

      National Nurses United (NNU), which has been leading efforts to build grassroots support for Medicare for All nationwide, urged Americans to call members of the Budget Committee and let them know “we’re counting on their support.”

    • ‘We Need More DAs Standing Up Like This’: Georgia Prosecutors Vow Not to Charge Women Under State’s Unconstitutional Abortion Ban

      Women in Georgia’s four largest counties may be protected from the state’s recently-passed six-week abortion ban—which has been condemned as part of the Republican Party’s recent ramped-up attack on reproductive rights—even if the law goes into effect next year.

      The district attorneys of DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, and Fulton counties all told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday that they have no intention of prosecuting women who obtain abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, citing concerns with the constitutionality of the so-called Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act (H.B. 481).

    • Extremist Laws Will Make It Harder for Poor Women to End Pregnancies

      Alabama — led by utterly clueless male legislators — just passed the most restrictive ban on abortion in the country, with Georgia and Missouri piling on. Other states dominated by right-wing Republican politicians are jockeying to join in.

      Their aim is to get the courts, newly packed with right-wing judges appointed by Trump, to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark precedent that established a woman’s right to choose in the early months of pregnancy.

      The new laws generally deem abortion murder after six or eight weeks, no exceptions. This is often before women are even aware that they are pregnant. Some of the laws would imprison doctors; others lock up mothers. This is what the anti-abortion movement has demanded. It has been spurred on by cynical politicians like Donald Trump, who devoted part of his State of the Union address to a blood-curdling description of infanticide that came completely from his own ugly imagination.

      Now anti-abortion activists are on the verge of getting what they want — the ability to prosecute doctors and/or pregnant women for murder if they choose to abort a fetus early in their pregnancies. Even if the life of the mother is at risk, doctors would be loath to risk imprisonment by taking the necessary step to save her.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Google Joins The Evidence-Optional Assault On Huawei

      So we’ve noted several times now how the US efforts to blacklist Huawei from global telecom markets haven’t much in the way of, oh, supporting evidence. The Trump administration and FCC have taken all manner of actions to try and blackball the company, from pressuring U.S. carriers to drop plans to sell Huawei phones to the FCC’s decision to ban companies from using Huawei gear if they want to receive federal subsidies.

      The underlying justification for these moves has centered on the idea that Huawei operates as a surveillance extension of the Chinese government, something that still hasn’t been proven despite a decade’s worth of claims to this effect, and an eighteen month investigation by the White House.

      That’s not to say the Chinese government is an innocent little daisy. Nor is it meant to suggest that it’s impossible that Huawei spies on Americans. But the lack of any actual public evidence of spying remains troubling all the same, given that if the shoe were on the other foot, there’d be no shortage of face-fanning consternation on the part of American politicians and industry.

    • Nearly 20% of the 1000 Most Popular Docker Containers Have No Root Password

      Earlier this month, Talos released research showing that the Alpine Linux docker images were shipping with no (or nulled) root passwords. Alpine patched the docker files, and issued their response to the vulnerability here, noting that “an attacker who compromised your system via an unrelated security vulnerability, or a user with shell access, could elevate their privileges to root within the container.”

    • Let us subject MDS vulnerability to the glare of truth

      In the last three days, we’ve received a whole bunch of questions like Should I disable Hyper-Threading or not? and How Hyper-Threading disabling can impact performance? So, here we are with some important information about the point.

      But what is the problem? CPU has two execution threads per physical core. Both threads share the same resources inside the CPU. It means sibling cores can see the same data as the primary core can.

    • Is Linux Safer Than Windows and macOS?

      Cybersecurity is extremely important – now more than ever. If you start to do research, however, you’ll find a debate going on about which operating system is the safest. These days, more IT professionals and companies are preaching the benefits of Linux systems. There are definitely some security advantages to the platform. But like everything in the computer world, so much comes down to user training. Even if you have a very secure platform, a virus can still be a problem. So let’s take a look at Linux and some of the advanced security measures you need to take.

    • Spectre/Meltdown/L1TF/MDS Mitigation Costs On An Intel Dual Core + HT Laptop

      Following the recent desktop CPU benchmarks and server CPU benchmarks following the MDS/ZombieLoad mitigations coming to light and looking at the overall performance cost to mitigating these current CPU vulnerabilities, there was some speculation by some in the community that the older dual-core CPUs with Hyper Threading would be particularly hard hit. Here are some benchmarks of a Lenovo ThinkPad with Core i7 Broadwell CPU looking at those mitigation costs.

    • Fending off Zombieload attacks will crush your performance
    • List of MDS Speculative Execution Vulnerability Advisories & Updates
    • Linux version of Winnti malware found
    • WannaCry? Hundreds of US schools still haven’t patched servers

      But cities aren’t the only highly vulnerable targets to be found by would-be attackers. There are hundreds of thousands of Internet-connected Windows systems in the United States that still appear to be vulnerable to an exploit of Microsoft Windows’ Server Message Block version 1 (SMB v. 1) file sharing protocol, despite repeated public warnings to patch systems following the worldwide outbreak of the WannaCry cryptographic malware two years ago. And based on data from the Shodan search engine and other public sources, hundreds of them—if not thousands—are servers in use at US public school systems.

    • Google stored some passwords in plain text for fourteen years

      In a blog post today, Google disclosed that it recently discovered a bug that caused some portion of G Suite users to have their passwords stored in plain text. The bug has been around since 2005, though Google says that it can’t find any evidence that anybody’s password was improperly accessed. It’s resetting any passwords that might be affected and letting G Suite administrators know about the issue.

      G Suite is the corporate version of Gmail and Google’s other apps, and apparently the bug came about in this product because of a feature designed specifically for companies. Early on, it was possible for your company administrator for G Suite apps to set user passwords manually — say, before a new employee came on board — and if they did, the admin console would store those passwords in plain text instead of hashing them. Google has since removed that capability from administrators.

    • Notifying administrators about unhashed password storage
    • Google Disappoints Yet Again: Stored Some Passwords In Plain Text For 14 Years

      G Suite users were taken aback yesterday when Google disclosed that it stored some passwords for Enterprise G Suite users in plain text for 14 years.

      In a blog post, the search giant mentioned that the passwords were encrypted but not hashed, which means that Google employees had complete access to them. However, the company says that there is no evidence that passwords were illegally accessed by anyone or misused.

    • Stable Version Of Tor Browser For Android Now Available On Play Store

      After eight months of testing, a stable release for the Tor browser has arrived on the Play Store. The new Android browser now brings Tor features directly into a standalone browser, replacing the Orbot/Orfox as the main way to connect to the Tor network via Android devices.

      The stable version (v8.5) of Tor for Android routes your web traffic through the Tor network — a web of encrypted computers spread worldwide.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘We Will Not Be Complicit’: Protesting Assault on Yemen, Italian Dock Workers Refuse to Load Saudi Weapons Vessel

      In an act of defiance against Saudi Arabia’s brutal assault on Yemen—which is being carried out with the support of the United States and European nations—Italian union workers on Monday refused to load a Saudi vessel reportedly filled with weapons that could be used to fuel the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

      “We will not be complicit in what is happening in Yemen,” union leaders said in a statement.

      According to Reuters, dockworkers attempted to have the Saudi ship—officially called the the Bahri Yanbu—barred from entering the Port of Genoa.

      When that effort failed, Reuters reported, “workers refused to load two generators aboard the boat, saying that although they were registered for civilian use, they could be instead directed to the Yemen war effort.”

    • As Iran Tensions Rise, Congress Moves to Curb Trump’s War Powers

      Rep. Barbara Lee and other House Democrats are expected to announce bipartisan legislation this week to sunset the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) issued after the 9/11 attacks. The legislation would provide Congress with new tools for containing the Trump administration as it meddles in foreign conflicts and stokes military tensions with Iran.

      The latest effort in Congress to repeal the 2001 AUMF comes after lawmakers reacted to the escalating tensions between Iran and the unpredictable Trump administration, which boiled over on Twitter over the weekend after President Trump warned that Iran would face its “official end” if Tehran provokes the U.S. military. A rocket had landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, but it remains unclear whether Iran had anything to do with the attack. The White House and Tehran spent the last week trading jabs and engaging in military posturing, although leaders in both countries have said they do not want war.

      On Friday, 100 House Democrats urged Trump in a letter to “resist factions” in his administration that are “leading our country down a disastrous path to war” and warned that the White House cannot declare war with Iran without approval from Congress, including under the 2001 AUMF. Administration officials are reportedly building a case to declare Iran a terrorist threat in order to circumvent Congress and launch military strikes under AUMF authority if the administration decides to engage Tehran.

    • Locked in a Cold War Time Warp

      On Saturday May 18th, the New York Times ran a lengthy front-page article by Alexander Burns and Sydney Ember entitled “Mayor Who Brought the Cold War to Vermont,” which exemplifies how the poisonous political climate of the Cold War has not yet receded.

      The piece details presidential contender Bernie Sanders’ opposition to Ronald Reagan’s Central America Wars in the 1980s while Burlington Mayor, and Sanders’ travels to Nicaragua and meeting with Sandinista revolutionary leader Daniel Ortega.

      The article also mentioned Sanders’ travels to Cuba where he came away impressed by Cuba’s “free health care, free education [and free housing],” and a trip to Yaroslavi in the Soviet Union, a Burlington sister-city, whose health care system, Sanders noted, was “free or virtually free.”

      Sanders told the Times reporters: “I plead guilty to, throughout my adult life, doing everything that I can to prevent war and destruction.”

    • Trump is Making the Same Mistakes in the Middle East the US Always Makes

      In its escalating confrontation with Iran, the US is making the same mistake it has made again and again since the fall of the Shah 40 years ago: it is ignoring the danger of plugging into what is in large part a religious conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

      I have spent much of my career as a correspondent in the Middle East, since the Iranian revolution in 1979, reporting crises and wars in which the US and its allies fatally underestimated the religious motivation of their adversaries. This has meant they have come out the loser, or simply failed to win, in conflicts in which the balance of forces appeared to them to be very much in their favour.

      It has happened at least four times. It occurred in Lebanon after the Israeli invasion of 1982, when the turning point was the blowing up of the US Marine barracks in Beirut the following year, in which 241 US military personnel were killed. In the eight-year Iran-Iraq war during 1980-88, the west and the Sunni states of the region backed Saddam Hussein, but it ended in a stalemate. After 2003, the US-British attempt to turn post-Saddam Iraq into an anti-Iranian bastion spectacularly foundered. Similarly, after 2011, the west and states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey tried in vain to get rid of Bashar al-Assad and his regime in Syria – the one Arab state firmly in the Iranian camp.

      Now the same process is under way yet again, and likely to fail for the same reasons as before: the US, along with its local allies, will be fighting not only Iran but whole Shia communities in different countries, mostly in the northern tier of the Middle East between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean.

      Donald Trump looks to sanctions to squeeze Iran while national security adviser John Bolton and secretary of state Mike Pompeo promote war as a desirable option. But all three denounce Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Popular Mobilisation Units in Iraq as Iranian proxies, though they are primarily the military and political arm of the indigenous Shia, which are a plurality in Lebanon, a majority in Iraq and a controlling minority in Syria. The Iranians may be able to strongly influence these groups, but they are not Iranian puppets which would wither and disappear once Iranian backing is removed.

    • Trump’s “Genocidal” Tweets Against Iran Come With a Price

      Donald Trump threatened to wipe Iran off the map in a moment of yet-to-be-explained Twitter-rage Sunday night. “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” he wrote. After a few days of apparent de-escalation between the US and Iran, Trump managed to once again fuel fears of an impending war. Yet, Trump’s tweet is likely more a reflection of his frustration over the failure of his pressure and coercion strategy than a carefully thought-through plan for war.

      Trump is not the first U.S. official to threaten Iran with genocide. Back in 2008, then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton threatened to “obliterate” Iran. John McCain liked to sing songs about bombing Iran. George W. Bush never missed an opportunity to remind Iran that “all options are on the table.” In fact, this is not even Trump’s own first transgression into genocidal territory. Last July, he warned — in an all-caps tweet — that Iran “WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”

    • Bomb-Laden Drone From Yemeni Rebels Targets Saudi Airport

      Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels attack a Saudi airport and military base with a bomb-laden drone, an assault acknowledged by the kingdom as Middle East tensions remain high between Tehran and Washington. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

      The attack on the Saudi city of Najran came after Iran announced it has quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity, though still at a level far lower than needed for atomic weapons, a year after the U.S. withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

    • No War With Iran, Say 62 Groups in Letter to Congress

      The push to war has been led mainly by President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Trump himself has been noncommittal, expressing support and hesitance in nearly equal measure depending on the day.

      Nevertheless, a number of the letter’s signatories said in a statement, the administration’s actions require pushback from Congress.

      “Trump and his National Security Advisor John Bolton are taking this country to the brink of a completely avoidable military confrontation,” said Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian-American Council. “It’s time for Congress to turn its words into action by passing legislation to stop Trump and Bolton from starting an illegal war.”

      Under the Constitution, only Congress has the ability to declare war. But that right has been eroded over the last seven decades as presidents have used language like “police actions” and other euphemisms to go around Congress and start wars at will. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in the wake of the 9/11 attacks has been used (pdf) over 37 times by Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Trump in over 14 countries.

      Still, there’s a sense that Congress may finally be ready to take its duties seriously. The House has become progressively warmer in recent years to legislation by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)—the lone vote against war in the wake of the 2001 attacks—to restrict the use of the AUMF.

    • Why Jon Chait Can’t Read

      Chait is critiquing an imaginary study by FAIR that judged media on whether they “describe[d] Maduro as a strongman or authoritarian.” His problem with this imaginary study “is that Maduro is considered an authoritarian by the entire human rights community.” In other words, FAIR (and Taibbi) are complaining that commentary is one-sided—but commentary should be one-sided. Why would anyone disagree with “the entire human rights community”?

      In reality, of course, there is more to the human rights community than Chait imagines. There’s a statement, for example, signed by 70 Latin American scholars and humanitarian activists condemning “US support for an opposition strategy aimed at removing the government of Nicolás Maduro through extra-electoral means”—signed by leaders of such groups as the Alliance for Global Justice, the Center for International Policy, Code Pink, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the Institute for Policy Studies, the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research and Toward Freedom.

      Would Chait disagree with these human rights advocates’ take on Venezuela? Probably—if he had ever seen it. But because he shares the approach of elite media decision-makers—if I disagree with it, there’s no need for it to be heard—he’s very likely unaware of the arguments they make, and certainly has had no real need to ever engage with those arguments.

    • Dave Lindorff and Michael White

      Veteran journalist Dave Lindorff is the first guest; he describes the misrepresentations and complete falsehoods that US corporate media has been presenting about Venezuela. Then New York activist Michael White explains how real estate and other private interests have been attempting to close or shrink some of New York’s most important public libraries, and how citizens are fighting back.

    • The Time Has Come for Patriotic Dissent: Stopping War With Iran Is Essential

      What if they called a war and no one came? Well, now’s the time folks. The apparent march to war with Iran represents a pivotal moment in the historical arc – the rise and fall – of our republic come empire. This potential war is so unnecessary, so irrational, that it borders on the absurd. Still, since the U.S. now fields a professional, volunteer military, few citizens have “skin in the game.” As such, they could hardly care less.

      Unlike in past wars – think Vietnam – there is no longer a built in, established antiwar movement. This is unfortunate, and, dangerous for a democracy. See the US Government operates with near impunity in foreign affairs, waging global war without the consent of the people and, essentially, uninterested in what the people have to say at all. It should not be thus in a healthy republic. People should not fear their government; governments should fear their people.

      So let me propose something seemingly ludicrous. It’s this: since Americans only trust the military among various branches of government, and since that military is both over adulated and ultimately responsible for waging these insane wars, it is within the military that active dissent must begin. That’s right, to stop the war America needs clean cut, seemingly conservative, all-American soldiers and officers to start refusing to fight. The people will back them; trust me. These guys are heroes after all, right? I mean few will pay attention to some aging hippie protester – even if he or she is correct – but even Republicans might tune in to here what a combat vet has to say.

      Remember, we soldiers take an oath not to a particular president or a certain government but to the Constitution. And that constitution has been violated time and again for some 75 years as US presidents play emperor and wage unilateral wars without the required, and clearly stipulated, consent of Congress, I.e. the people’s representatives. Thus, one could argue – and I’m doing just that – that a massive military “sit-down-strike” of sorts would be both legal and moral.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Weather forecasters urge caution for Tuesday after 18 tornadoes across five states on Monday

      After 18 tornadoes swept through five states on Monday, forecasters say Tuesday’s severe weather threat warrants caution but lacks the same potential.

      At least some tornadoes, damaging winds and hail are possible Tuesday in parts of Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois, said Jared Guyer, lead forecaster at the Storm Prediction Center.

      More than a dozen severe thunderstorm warnings and a few tornado warnings remained active overnight, Guyer added. Flash flash flooding from torrential rains that accompanied the storms also posed a concern.

    • 18 Tornadoes Reported in 5 States Monday

      The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) had raised the probability of tornadoes in northwest Texas and central Oklahoma from 35 to 45 percent Monday afternoon. The last time chances were that high was April 14, 2012, when 122 tornadoes killed six people in Kansas and Oklahoma, according to USA Today.

      “I’d certainly label this the ‘nightmare scenario,’” meteorologist Mike Smith tweeted of Monday’s forecast, as USA Today reported.

    • Virtual Pipelines: A Dangerous New Way to Transport Fracked Gas by Truck

      For several years a mysterious fleet of tractor trailers loaded with natural gas cylinders has been crisscrossing U.S. roads, and in the dark early morning hours on Sunday, March 3, one drove off a highway near Cobleskill, New York, careened down an embankment, and flipped over. The driver had fallen asleep, according to a New York State police accident report, the truck was demolished, and “several tanks ruptured and were leaking” natural gas. Five nearby homes were evacuated.

      For retired New York Department of Transportation commercial vehicle inspector Ron Barton, an alarm bell he had been ringing for months suddenly grew even more urgent. “This is a catastrophe waiting to happen,” says Barton.

      The trucks are part of a little-known system of moving natural gas called “virtual pipelines.”

    • Worst Case Sea Level Rise by Century’s End Could Be Doubled, New Study Finds

      In its fifth assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted between 52 and 98 centimeters (approximately 1.7 to 3.2 feet) of sea level rise by 2100. But the new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Monday, put the range at 62 to 238 centimeters (approximately two to 7.8 feet).

    • Climate change: Global sea level rise could be bigger than expected

      Scientists believe that global sea levels could rise far more than predicted, due to accelerating melting in Greenland and Antarctica.
      The long-held view has been that the world’s seas would rise by a maximum of just under a metre by 2100.
      This new study, based on expert opinions, projects that the real level may be around double that figure.
      This could lead to the displacement of hundreds of millions of people, the authors say.

    • Ice sheet contributions to future sea-level rise from structured expert judgment
    • Trump Admin Pushes More ‘Clean Coal’ Spending as Justice Department Investigates Failed ‘Clean Coal’ Project

      In April, the Department of Justice informed Southern Company that it was under investigation “related to the Kemper County energy facility” in Mississippi, where Southern had spent $7.5 billion, including hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds from the Department of Energy, trying to build a coal-fired power plant that would capture carbon emissions.

      Former engineers and officials from the Kemper plant have described evidence of possible intentional fraud at the construction project, alleging that the company knew of design flaws early on but pressed forward with the project in the hopes that costs could be passed on to power customers even if the project ran severely over-budget.

      But the while the company remains under investigation, the Trump administration is doubling down by offering new funding — not just millions for more “clean coal” research and development, but also billions more for another construction project, which is also far behind schedule and over-budget, by the same company.

    • Trump’s EPA Is Changing Its Math to Make Clean Power Plan Rollback Seem Less Deadly

      When Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan in August 2018, its own estimates said the reduced regulations could lead to 1,400 early deaths a year from air pollution by 2030.

      Now, the EPA wants to change the way it calculates the risks posed by particulate matter pollution, using a model that would lower the death toll from the new plan, The New York Times reported Monday. Five current or former EPA officials familiar with the plan told The Times that the new method would assume there is no significant health gain by lowering air pollution levels below the legal limit. However, many public health experts say that there is no safe level of particulate matter exposure, which has long been linked to heart and lung disease.

    • E.P.A. Plans to Get Thousands of Pollution Deaths Off the Books by Changing Its Math

      The Environmental Protection Agency plans to change the way it calculates the health risks of air pollution, a shift that would make it easier to roll back a key climate change rule because it would result in far fewer predicted deaths from pollution, according to five people with knowledge of the agency’s plans.

      The E.P.A. had originally forecast that eliminating the Obama-era rule, the Clean Power Plan, and replacing it with a new measure would have resulted in an additional 1,400 premature deaths per year. The new analytical model would significantly reduce that number and would most likely be used by the Trump administration to defend further rollbacks of air pollution rules if it is formally adopted.

      The proposed shift is the latest example of the Trump administration downgrading the estimates of environmental harm from pollution in regulations. In this case, the proposed methodology would assume there is little or no health benefit to making the air any cleaner than what the law requires. Many experts said that approach was not scientifically sound and that, in the real world, there are no safe levels of the fine particulate pollution associated with the burning of fossil fuels.

    • Presidential Candidate Michael Bennet Proposes $1 Trillion Climate Change Plan

      Colorado senator and 2020 hopeful Michael Bennet introduced his plan to combat climate change Monday, in the first major policy rollout of his campaign. Bennet’s plan calls for the establishment of a “Climate Bank,” using $1 trillion in federal spending to “catalyze” $10 trillion in private spending for the U.S. to transition entirely to net-zero emissions by 2050.

      The plan also calls for a state “climate challenge,” providing federal funds for states to slash emissions by 2030, as well as conservation of 30 percent of the country’s lands and oceans by 2030.

    • Big Polluters Hijack Shipping Talks to Slow Decarbonisation Progress

      UN shipping talks stalled last week as slow-moving players, including Saudi Arabia, Brazil and the US, obstructed attempts to decide how the sector should begin to decarbonise.

      The negotiations, which took place at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), are part of a global process on how to cut shipping’s large and growing emissions.

    • Outrage as Texas Senate Passes ‘Unconstitutional’ Bill That Would Hit Pipeline Protestors With Up to 10 Years in Prison

      Sparking outcry from indigenous tribes and environmental groups, the Texas state Senate on Monday passed industry-backed Republican legislation that would hit pipeline protestors with a third-degree felony and up to ten years in prison.

      “Here in Texas, members of the legislative body are looking to pass laws that harshly criminalize free speech and the right to protest,” Juan Mancias, Tribal Elder with the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, said in a statement.

    • Labor Leader Sara Nelson Says Workers of Disrupted Industries Must Be Engaged in Green New Deal Solutions

      That’s what the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, Sara Nelson, told Common Dreams in an interview Tuesday. Nelson believes that the airline industry needs to get on board with finding swift solutions to the climate crisis.

      “Let’s have lawmakers, scientists, and innovators get together to keep planes in the air,” said Nelson.

      Nelson sees a prominent role for her union in figuring out how to balance the demands of aviation with the deepening reality of the climate catastrophe and President Donald Trump’s policies. If the president won’t lead, said Nelson, others need to step forward.

      “We have to be engaged in the conversation about solutions,” said Nelson.

      For the airlines, that means taking a hard look at what can be changed in the industry to meet the goals of the Green New Deal. Air travel and shipping is indispensable to the U.S. economy, shuttling people and product across the country and the world.

      Thus there’s no time to waste, said Nelson, who believes that air travel will become unsustainable if nothing is done.

      “There are solutions that cut emissions,” said Nelson. “Airlines have already been doing that—we need to do it at a faster rate.”

      Among the solutions Nelson suggested are finding ways to power airplanes through less polluting fuels and using electric power, describing the push as both morally and financially incentivized.

    • Renewable Energy: the Switch From Drill, Baby, Drill to Mine, Baby, Mine

      The most penetrating criticism I’ve seen of renewable energy is that it’s being promoted at massive scale to reassure us that we can go on as before, with little if any change of lifestyle, no move beyond our comfort zones. That’s a comforting view, one that we’d all love to be true. And yet, it raises a big and uncomfortable question. Can we mine, baby, mine, to ensure no reduction of living standards, no uncomfortable change of lifestyle?

      Alas, the shift away from drill, baby drill has already become a shift to mine, baby, mine. Consumer demand for electric cars is a prime example. Heralded as next wave of personal transportation, electric cars will require little to no real change in personal comfort or lifestyle, but will require twice as much copper wire as today’s gasoline combustion vehicles. And building these cars will take yet a bit more mining to build the cars themselves.

      There will be millions upon millions of them. The mining industry sees it coming.

    • Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming

      A recent article in Arctic News on the outlook for global warming foresees a frightening scenario lurking right around the corner. Hopefully, the article’s premise of impending runaway global warming (“RGW”) is off the mark, by a lot. More to the point, off by really a lot in order to temper the sting expected when abrupt temperature increases hit hard, as projected in the article, which is entitled: “Greenhouse Gas Levels Keep Accelerating.” Oh, BTW… the worst-case scenario happens within one decade!

      Here’s a snippet: “… such a rise in greenhouse gas levels has historically corresponded with more than 10°C or 18°F of warming, when looking at greenhouse gas levels and temperatures over the past 800,000 years….” (Source: Greenhouse Gas Levels Keep Accelerating, Arctic News, May 1, 2019)

      Obviously, it goes without saying no sane person wants to believe, and likely won’t believe or accept, studies about killer temperatures locked, loaded, and ready to fire, right around the corner. That fact alone serves to christen the title “Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming.”

      Furthermore, and for journalistic balance, it is important to mention that mainstream science is not warning of imminent Runaway Global Warming (“RGW”), as outlined in the Arctic News article.

    • ‘This Is Not A Drill’: Amid GOP Attack, Pro-Choice #StopTheBans Rallies Take Place Nationwide

      A week after the Alabama legislature sparked outrage that spread across the country with its approval of a near-total ban on abortion care in the state, reproductive rights advocates across the country are holding “Stop the Bans” rallies on Tuesday to demand that state Republican lawmakers end their attacks on abortion rights.

      NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Women’s Law Center, and Planned Parenthood were among dozens of national groups that began planning a #StopTheBans Day of Action last week after extreme anti-choice laws were passed both in Alabama and Missouri. By Tuesday morning, more than 500 direct actions were planned in all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

      The organizations urged people nationwide to join demonstrations in their area which were planned throughout the afternoon and into the evening on Tuesday.

    • Global Sea Level May Rise Faster Than Previously Projected, With ‘Profound Consequences for Humanity’

      “If we see something like that in the next 80 years we are looking at social breakdown on scales that are pretty unimaginable,” lead author Jonathan Bamber, a professor of physical geography at the U.K.’s University of Bristol, told New Scientist.

      The structured expert judgement study, published Monday by the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), brought together 22 experts.

      Under the experts’ worst case scenario projection—based on global temperatures increasing to 5°C (9°F) above pre-industrial levels by 2100—rising seas would leave about 1.79 million square kilometers (691,123 square miles) underwater and displace up to 187 million people.

    • Playing Politics With Coal Plants

      The Anaconda Smelter was precipitously shut down at noon on “Black Monday,” Sept. 29, 1980. Suddenly, 1,200 smelter workers were without jobs.

      Just that morning Mel Stokke, the general manager of the smelter, had assured workers that the smelter would continue operating into the foreseeable future. But then the call came in from ARCO’s headquarters telling Stokke to immediately cease operations and, as Stokke’s son Chuck recalled 30 years later: “Quite frankly, he had no idea the closure was coming. A lot of people weren’t believers until they decided to just demolish the whole thing.”

      Almost 40 years later, the same “it won’t close” delusion exists at the Colstrip power plant — and it’s being played for political election-year gain by none other than Montana’s Republican senator, Steve Daines.

      An article by Tom Lutey late last week described the efforts by Daines to postpone Colstrip’s inevitable demise. NorthWestern Energy tried but failed to pass hundreds of millions of dollars in costs for the outmoded coal-fired power plants on to Montana’s utility consumers in the recent legislative session, so Daines now turns to the nation’s taxpayers for bailout funds through the dubious, extremely expensive and inefficient process known as “carbon capture and sequestration.”

      To accomplish his quixotic quest, Daines has co-sponsored a bill with the Orwellian title of the Enhancing Fossil Fuel Energy Carbon Technology Act. The measure would direct the Department of Energy to dump taxpayer money into retrofitting the power plants to capture their massive output of carbon dioxide and then pipe it to oil wells in southeast Montana, inject it underground at high pressures and force more oil out of the strata.

    • Over 1,351 Climate Strikes in 110 Countries Planned for Friday as Global Revolt Escalates

      Two months after what was reportedly the largest international climate demonstration ever, young people around the world are expected to make history again on Friday with a second global climate strike.

      Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, who began the global movement in which students around the world have walked out of their classrooms on a weekly basis since last fall to demand climate action, reported Tuesday that at least 1,351 separate strikes are now scheduled to take place all over the world on Friday.

  • Finance

    • The Legal Argument That Could Destroy Uber

      However, independent contractors, who can have limited liability corporations or other incorporated entities in their own right, do not have many of those rights, including the right to collectively bargain.

      But if ride-hailing drivers are “independent contractors” and not “employees,” and thus they are all “different corporations” for the purpose of this legal argument, that brings up a big problem.

      This is because we have a different label for when different corporations get together and determine the cost for their services. We call it price fixing. And price fixing, under the Sherman Antitrust Act, is illegal.

      “Uber is effectively trying to have it both ways,” says Sanjukta Paul, a law professor at Wayne State University who has been writing about the gig economy’s vulnerability to price fixing regulation for several years. “They’re setting a price for a product they say they don’t sell.”

    • Trade war rattles confidence among Southern California businesses

      The Foreign Direct Investment study from World Trade Center Los Angeles shows that about 10,305 foreign-owned firms were operating in Southern California in 2018, accounting for roughly 1.2 percent of all businesses in the region.

    • ‘Sick and Tired of Being Paid Poverty Wages,’ Walmart Workers Invite Bernie Sanders to Press Their Case at Shareholder Meeting

      Walmart workers seeking a seat on the company’s board invited Sen. Bernie Sanders, a longtime advocate for higher wages and better labor conditions, to present their shareholder proposal at the retail giant’s annual meeting next month.

      The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Independent senator from Vermont and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate will attend Walmart’s meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas on June 5 to advocate for the hourly workers behind the request. The proposal was filed by Cat Davis, a company employee and leader of labor rights group United for Respect.

    • Beware Trump’s Sneak Attack on Social Security

      Donald Trump’s recent budget proposal included billions of dollars in Social Security cuts. The proposed cuts were a huge betrayal of his campaign promise to protect our Social Security system. Fortunately for Social Security’s current and future beneficiaries, he has little chance of getting these cuts past the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats.

      So Trump and his budget director/chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who has long been hostile to Social Security, are trying another tactic to cut our earned benefits. They are pursuing a long game to reach their goal. In a divide-and-conquer move, the focus is not Social Security. At least, not yet.

    • Emails Show How Much Pull Political Bosses Had Over State Tax Breaks

      A law firm linked to New Jersey political boss George E. Norcross III enjoyed extraordinary influence over the state’s tax break program, crafting new rules and regulations in hundreds of calls, meetings and messages with top officials in Trenton, newly released emails reveal.

      The emails, obtained by WNYC and ProPublica through a public information request, provide a rare look at how the Norcross family machine leveraged its access to top state officials to advance the interests of clients and friends allied with the political leader. The lawyers pushed officials at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority for client concessions, pressed staffers for expedited reviews and went over their heads to appeal objections.

      Kevin Sheehan, an attorney with Parker McCay, where Norcross’ brother Philip is managing partner, focused on getting bigger tax breaks for the Philadelphia 76ers, Cooper Health System and nuclear services giant Holtec International, which won some of the most lucrative tax awards in state history. The companies were promising to move to downtrodden Camden as part of a renaissance pushed by George Norcross, a Democrat whose insurance brokerage was among the tax break recipients.

    • Bernie Sanders Is Bringing Back the Most Underrated Education Policy

      Over the past two decades, education reform has been a major topic of debate and policymaking, from President Bush’s No Child Left Behind bill to President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative. Reforms have generally followed the pattern of adapting mechanisms from the for-profit business world to “fix” supposedly broken aspects of the public education system: weakening teacher unions, replacing public schools with privately-run charters, tying teacher pay to test score results, and so on.

      Yet there is one idea that was once a major focus of reform efforts, but has been set aside for years: racial desegregation.

      That is, until now. Last week, Bernie Sanders released a plan to revitalize school integration efforts. It’s both an excellent plan and brings attention to a vitally important racial justice issue.

      Historical context is important here. For a couple decades after the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, the federal government put real effort into forcing school districts to integrate their populations. The main objective was to equalize educational opportunity, particularly in the South. Stuffing black populations into crummy, under-resourced institutions was one of the major mechanisms of the Jim Crow apartheid system — but if white and black children went to the same schools, then they should receive education of a similar quality (or at least a lot closer than before).

      Because cities across the nation were (and remain) extremely segregated, and whites violently resisted any attempt to integrate actual neighborhoods, the only realistic option was using transportation to achieve a decent demographic mix. But this led to an enormous white backlash across the country.

      It turned out northern schools were just as segregated as southern ones, if not worse, and northern whites were not any keener on integration than southern ones — indeed, an integration plan in Boston sparked violent riots. Centrist triangulators like then-Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.), seized on the issue, teaming up with southern segregationists to beat back integration efforts. (In 1977 Biden wrote to Dixiecrat Senator James Eastland of Missippi: “I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s committee meeting in attempting to bring my anti-busing legislation to a vote.”)

    • Debt is the Hidden Issue in The European Elections

      The citizens of the European Union are called to vote this week for the European Parliament. It is not a real parliament, and it lacks prospects for becoming one, since all important decisions are taken by the unelected heads of the European Commission and the European Central Bank, dubbed “the worst-run Central Bank in the world”.

      These elections capture however the general mood of exasperation with current policies. Conservative and extreme Right parties will rise, reflecting widespread scepticism as to the economic course of the EU and its lack of benefits for the common people. The mainstream Left unfortunately neglects these issues, and it will pay the price.

      The conservatives generally blame the weak and scapegoat the refugees, the immigrants, the women, and the poor, while promising to save the middle class from the onslaught of big capital. They create false hopes of easy reform, and they never denounce the exploitation inherent in today’s system. History shows however that small owners manage to resist financial stranglehold only when they make common cause with workers and the poor, and they are not afraid to fight.

    • How California Egregiously Failed Its Care Workers

      Across California, at least 20 companies providing care for the elderly, disabled and mentally ill continue to operate illegally after being cited for failing to pay their workers more than $1.4 million in back wages and penalties.

      “There’s no accountability,” said Hina Shah, an associate law professor at Golden Gate University who directs the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic, which represents low-wage workers on issues of wage theft, discrimination and harassment. “Many of the cases that are being brought by workers are challenging flat-rate pay for 24 hours of work, conditions that are akin to modern-day slavery.”

      In 2015, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Fair Day’s Pay Act, which aimed to thwart wage theft in California. It barred companies with outstanding wage theft judgments from conducting business in the state.

      But the state Department of Social Services’ Community Care Licensing Division, which is in charge of licensing facilities for the elderly and disabled, has not acted, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found.

      The agency received debtors’ names from the state labor commissioner’s office over the last year or so. However, the companies continue to operate despite their outstanding wage theft judgments, Reveal found. Meanwhile, employees who won tens of thousands in judgments remain unpaid.

    • Deutsche Bank Has Rolled on Donald Trump

      The opening salvo of The New York Times’s big Sunday story about Donald Trump and Deutsche Bank got straight to the point: The bank’s money-laundering watchdogs recommended that multiple overseas financial transactions by Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner be reported to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Executives at Deutsche Bank, however, made no such reports, and the bank took no action against its favored client.

      “The nature of the transactions was not clear,” reads the Times report. “At least some of them involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, which bank employees considered suspicious…. [F]ormer Deutsche Bank employees said the decision not to report the Trump and Kushner transactions reflected the bank’s generally lax approach to money laundering laws.”

      “You present them with everything, and you give them a recommendation, and nothing happens,” Tammy McFadden, a former Deutsche Bank anti-money-laundering specialist who has filed complaints against the bank’s money-laundering protections with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said in the report. “It’s the D.B. way.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Schiff: Amash criticism not enough to push Trump impeachment
    • Alarming Lessons From Facebook’s Push to Stop Fake News in India

      “Nobody checks,” says Noor. “They want to show off by just forwarding everything they receive.” This particular day she also vetted a photo claiming to be BJP men insulting Rohingya Muslim refugees in Kolkata city. The photo turned out to be of men from the other side of the country protesting India’s new taxation system. Noor’s family thinks her work is not just trendy but vital. “Because of my job, I’ve gained new respect in my family and friends’ circles,” she says.

      Whatever the result in India’s election, there’s no denying that fake news has amplified rage and polarization. The problem will outlast the election and worsen in the coming months, said Rajesh Upadhyay, editor-in-chief of Vishvas News.

    • Don McGahn Defies Subpoena for Testimony, Faces Contempt Vote

      House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler gaveled open a Trump-Russia hearing Tuesday with an empty witness chair and a stern warning that former White House Counsel Don McGahn will be held in contempt for failing to appear in defiance of the committee’s subpoena.

      “Our subpoenas are not optional,” Nadler said. The panel will hear from McGahn “one way or another,” he said. “This committee will have no choice but to enforce the subpoena against him.”

    • Election-Meddling Follies, 1945-2019

      In this country, reactions to the Mueller report have been all-American beyond belief. Let’s face it, when it comes to election meddling, it’s been me, me, me, 24/7 here. Yes, in some fashion some set of Russians meddled in the last election campaign, whether it was, as Jared Kushner improbably claimed, “a couple of Facebook ads” or, as the Mueller report described it, “the Russian government interfer[ing]… in sweeping and systematic fashion.”

      But let me mention just a few of the things that we didn’t learn from the Mueller report. We didn’t learn that Russian agents appeared at Republican Party headquarters in 2016 with millions of dollars in donations to influence the coming election. (Oops, my mistake! That was CIA agents in the Italian election of 1948!) We didn’t learn that a Russian intelligence agency in combination with Chinese intelligence, aided by a major Chinese oil company, overthrew an elected U.S. president and installed Donald Trump in the White House as their autocrat of choice. (Oops, my mistake again! That was the CIA, dispatched by an American president, and British intelligence, with the help of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, later BP. In 1953, they overthrew Mohammad Mossadegh, the elected prime minister of Iran, and installed the young Shah as an autocratic ruler, the very first — but hardly the last — time the CIA successfully ousted a foreign government.) We didn’t learn that key advisers to Russian President Vladimir Putin were in close touch with rogue elements of the U.S. military preparing to stage a coup d’état in Washington, kill President Barack Obama in a direct assault on the White House, and put the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in office. (Sorry, again my slip-up and full apologies! That was President Richard Nixon’s adviser Henry Kissinger in contact with Chilean military officers who, on September 11, 1973 — the first 9/11 — staged an armed uprising during which Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist president of that country, died and army commander-in-chief Augusto Pinochet took power.) We didn’t learn that, at the behest of Vladimir Putin, Russian secret service agents engaged in a series of plots to poison or in some other fashion assassinate Barack Obama during his presidency and, in the end, had at least a modest hand in encouraging those who did kill him after he left office. (Oh, wait, I was confused on that one, too. I was actually thinking about the plots, as the 1960s began, to do in Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.) Nor, for that matter, did we learn that the Russian military launched a regime-change-style invasion of this country to unseat an American president and get rid of our weapons of mass destruction and then occupied the country for years after installing Donald Trump in power. (Sorry one more time! What I actually had in mind before I got so muddled up was the decision of the top officials of President George W. Bush’s administration, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, to launch a “regime-change” invasion of Iraq in 2003, based on fraudulent claims that Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction, and install a government of their choice in Baghdad.)

    • Democrats in House Leadership Rebel Against Pelosi on Impeachment

      At the Time 100 Summit in April, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., played down speculation that the Democratic caucus was divided over whether President Trump should face impeachment proceedings. According to Roll Call, when asked whether support for impeachment was growing among House Democrats, Pelosi answered, “You would think so as far as how it is amplified, but I don’t think it’s a growing number.”

      On Monday night, her words seemed like wishful thinking. As The Washington Post reported, “Several members of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team pressed her to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump … an effort the speaker rebuffed each time.”

      According to the Post’s sources, at least five members of the leadership team advocated for beginning an impeachment inquiry. Four of them are on the House Judiciary Committee, which has authority over impeachment. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who heads the Judiciary Committee, followed up hours later with a separate plea, which Pelosi also rejected.

      Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I., who supports beginning impeachment proceedings, told the Post that such proceedings would strengthen ongoing investigations: “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.” Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., echoed Cicilline, adding, “We should be having the conversation about . . . how this will help us break through the stonewalling of the administration.”

    • ‘The Dam Is Breaking’: Progressives Say Pelosi ‘Running Out of Excuses’ Not to Impeach Trump

      “The dam is breaking, and the voices of people demanding impeachment are becoming impossible to ignore,” Heidi Hess, co-director of CREDO Action, said in a statement. “Nancy Pelosi is running out of excuses, and her ability to delay impeachment proceedings is getting weaker by the day.”

      “We need her to heed the growing calls of her colleagues and people across the country demanding she defend our democracy and protect us from Donald Trump,” Hess said.

      MoveOn, an organization with more than a million members nationwide, echoed CREDO, tweeting simply: #ImpeachmentInquiryNow.

    • Warren and Sanders Understand the Power of ‘The Bad Guy’

      Progressive activist Norman Solomon offers a succinct description of neoliberalism: an ideology that sees victims but never victimizers. Bad things just happen. They’re the product of mysterious, unaccountable and ill-defined “market forces.” Factories just close, endless wars just “erupt,” the Nasdaq just crashes and our 401K and home equity just evaporate. No one specifically is responsible. And when someone is, around the margins, it’s a handful of faceless Arabs off in a cave somewhere or, increasingly, anonymous “Russians.” Our military and intelligence services are off fighting those Bad Guys. Trust us.

      But intuitively we know this is inadequate. It’s clear neither Islamic State group nor the Russians caused the opium crisis, the housing bubble, racist policing, the predatory gig economy, massive college loans, endless wars or a host of other social ills. It’s human nature to seek out the causes of a crisis, name names and get a sense that, even if one accepts that terrorism and Putin are real and urgent threats, they’re small-time compared to those making us poor, overworked, drug-addicted, indebted and war-fatigued. We have victims—this much is obvious. But where are the victimizers?

    • Why Joe Biden is the Least Electable Democrat

      As one of the few pundits who correctly called the 2016 election for Donald Trump, it would be wise to rest on my laurels rather than risk another prediction, one that might turn out wrong.

      But how would that be fun? Let the 2020 political prognostications begin!

      The arithmetic of the 2016 Republican presidential primaries is repeating itself on the Democratic side in 2020: a big field of candidates, one of whom commands a plurality by virtue of name recognition—which implies higher “electability”—while his 20-or-so opponents divvy up the rest of the single-digit electoral scraps.

      The Trump 2016 dynamic will probably play out the same way when Democratic delegates are counted at the 2020 convention. But the outcome in November 2020 is likely to be the opposite: Trump gets reelected.

      Here’s how I see it playing out.

    • Tennessee House Speaker to Resign Amid Text Message Scandal

      Tennessee’s embattled House speaker, Glen Casada, said Tuesday that he plans to resign from his leadership post following a vote of no confidence by his Republican caucus amid a scandal over explicit text messages.

      The move is unprecedented in Tennessee’s modern political era. The last speaker resignation came in 1931 in the Senate.

      “When I return to town on June 3, I will meet with caucus leadership to determine the best date for me to resign as speaker so that I can help facilitate a smooth transition,” Casada said in a statement.

      The speaker announced the decision just a day after previously shrugging off a 45-24 secret ballot vote from his GOP caucus determining they no longer had confidence in his ability to lead the Tennessee House. Casada said he would work to regain his colleagues’ trust.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • TOSsed out: EFF catalogs the perverse ways that platform moderation policies hurt the people they’re supposed to protect

      TOSsed Out is a new project from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that catalogs the myriad of ways in which Big Tech platforms’ moderation policies backfire spectacularly, like the anti-terrorism policies that delete evidence of war-crimes needed by investigators and prosecutors.

      The project comes at a critical juncture, where the monopolies enjoyed by the platforms have made them irresistible targets for both bad actors (harassers, terrorists, white nationalists etc) and governments, who are willing to hand the platforms eternal dominance in exchange for taking on state-like duties to monitor and control all user-speech (a move that is too often cheered by progressives, who assume these policies will only be used against people they dislike, despite evidence to the contrary).

    • TOSsed Out

      We’ve been tracking the impact of social media content takedowns and account deactivations for many years. TOSsed Out highlights the various ways in which Terms of Service (TOS) and other speech moderation rules are unevenly enforced, with little to no transparency, against a wide spectrum of people.

    • The Euroskeptic plan for tech

      With Euroskeptic forces likely arriving in force at the European Parliament after the election this month, the tech community is getting nervous.

      The concern is not so much about what populist lawmakers — Euroskeptic far-right parties are expected to seize 250 seats during the May 23-26 vote — have planned, it’s that their agenda is largely unknown.

      To shed light on what the tech world should anticipate from the incoming anti-EU faction in Parliament, POLITICO spoke to campaigners and strategists for Euroskeptic groups around the bloc and analyzed their election programs on tech-related matters, ranging from digital industry to platform censorship, privacy and artificial intelligence.

    • Why We Can’t Support Modifications to Texas’ Anti-SLAPP Law

      Earlier this year, a critical free speech law in Texas came under attack. Texas bill H.B. 2730, as introduced, would have gutted the Texas Citizens Protection Act, or TCPA.

      The TCPA has been one of the strongest laws in the nation protecting citizens against SLAPPs. SLAPP is a shorthand way of referring to lawsuits in which the legal claims are just a pretext for silencing or punishing individuals who use their First Amendment rights to speak up on public matters. At EFF, we have supported so-called “anti-SLAPP” laws, like the TCPA, which allow speakers to quickly dismiss frivolous cases against them and often obtain attorney’s fees.

      The original bill, H.B. 2730, would have severely limited the average Texan’s ability to use the TCPA and allowed litigious businesses to once again use courts to intimidate their critics. But a broad coalition of groups spoke out against the bill, including journalism associations, environmental groups, and hundreds of Texas-based EFF supporters who emailed their state representatives.

      We’re grateful for that vocal opposition, which created momentum for big changes to be made to H.B. 2730. Through your activism, some of the biggest problems have been fixed. But despite those changes, EFF still cannot support the bill, because of two issues that remain.

    • Kremlin comments on forced resignation of ‘Kommersant’ journalists

      Kremlin representative Dmitry Peskov commented on the forced resignation of Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov from the major Russian newspaper Kommersant. Peskov, who lauded Safronov, called the matter “an exclusively corporate question.” He said the Kremlin sees no reason for government involvement to examine potential violations of Russian media laws or intimidation of journalists.

    • ‘Kommersant’ journalists who resigned in protest locked out of newsroom, escorted out of office building under guard

      The 11 journalists who resigned yesterday from the Russian newspaper Kommersant have had their passes into the publication’s newsroom blocked. One of the journalists, deputy politics editor Mariya-Luiza Tirmaste, wrote on Facebook that the newspaper’s head of human resources notified the group about their blocked passes at the apparent request of its editor-in-chief, Vladimir Zhelonkin. Tirmaste asked her followers to help her find a labor attorney.

    • What newspaper staff were told vs. what managers claim publicly

      On May 20, the public learned that Kommersant has forced out two journalists, special correspondent Ivan Safronov and editor Maxim Ivanov, at the insistence of the newspaper’s owner, Alisher Usmanov. The dismissals were reportedly the result of an article published on April 18 about Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko potentially stepping down to lead Russia’s Pension Fund, clearing the way for current Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergey Naryshkin. After Safronov and Ivanov were dismissed, Kommersant’s entire politics desk resigned in protest, plunging the outlet into a crisis. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief and the chairman of the board then accused Safronov and Ivanov of violating editorial standards, prompting a statement from the remaining staff that Kommersant’s shareholders “are right now destroying one of the best media outlets in Russia.” Meduza has learned more about how the situation with the Matviyenko story developed inside Kommersant’s newsroom, uncovering information that undermines claims from management that reporters broke any editorial standards.

    • Report: Freedom of Expression and Brexit

      The freedom to access and share information and to hold and express personal ideas and opinions has particular resonance in the digital age. As our digital ability to exercise rights of expression and information increases, challenges for protection and enforcement become more complex.

      Post-Brexit, the UK must decide what action it will take to continue to protect our rights to information and expression online, including evaluating whether we should continue to adhere to EU-wide laws and frameworks developed for this purpose.

      Open Rights Group are fighting for balanced copyright laws, researching the reach and impact of web blocking and censorship, and standing up for the respect of freedom of speech online.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Prince Harry Uses GDPR To Obtain Payout From Photographer Who Shot Photos Of His Rental Home

      The repeated answer to the question, “How does the GDPR work?” is: “Not well.” The privacy law enacted by the European Union is a regulatory omnishambles that was first greeted by non-European websites telling Europeans their business was no longer welcome.

      From there, the convoluted law the EU Commission itself can’t even comply with properly has been used to vanish everything from documents on US court dockets to trash cans inside an Ireland post office. When it’s not providing new attack vectors to cybercriminals, it’s being co-opted by the powerful to control what the public gets to see and hear about them.

      The latest repurposing of the GDPR into an offensive weapon occurred in the pre-Brexit UK, which may give the royal family a reason for remaining united with the rest of Europe. Britain’s literal ruling class has never shied away from dragging publications and paparazzi into court, but this latest case — involving photos of house being rented by Prince Harry — has a new GDPR twist.

    • Reddit Commenter’s Fight for Anonynmity Is a Win for Free Speech and Fair Use

      A fight over unmasking an anonymous Reddit commenter has turned into a significant win for online speech and fair use. A federal court has affirmed the right to share copyrighted material for criticism and commentary, and shot down arguments that Internet users from outside the United States can’t ever rely on First Amendment protections for anonymous speech.

      EFF represents the Reddit commenter, who uses the name “Darkspilver.” A lifelong member of the Jehovah’s Witness community, Darkspilver shared comments and concerns about the Jehovah’s Witness organization via one of Reddit’s online discussion groups. Darkspilver’s posts included a copy of an advertisement asking for donations that appeared on the back of a Watch Tower magazine, as well as a chart they edited and reformatted to show the kinds of data that the Jehovah’s Witness organization collects and processes.

      Earlier this year, Watch Tower subpoenaed Reddit for information on Darkspilver as part of a potential copyright lawsuit. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, a group that publishes doctrines for Jehovah’s Witnesses, claimed that Darkspilver’s posts infringed their copyright, and that they needed Darkspilver’s identity to pursue legal action. EFF filed a motion to quash the subpoena, explaining that Watch Tower’s copyright claims were absurd, and that Darkspilver had deep concerns that disclosure of their identity would cause them to be disfellowshipped by their community. Accordingly, Watch Tower’s subpoena could not pass the well-established “Doe” test, which allows a party to use the courts to pierce anonymity only where they can show that their claims are valid and also that the balance of harms favors disclosure. The Doe test is designed to balance the constitutional right to share and access information anonymously with the right to seek redress for legitimate complaints.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • You Don’t Own What You’ve Bought: Google Nest Edition

      Well, here we go again. One of the common themes here over the past few years is how in the digitization of everything, the very meaning of “ownership” and “property” has changed — and not necessarily in good ways. The latest example: last week Google more or less announced the end of its “Works with Nest” program, as it migrates Nest from a separate entity into the Google mothership, and trying to move other “internet-of-things” devices into the Google Assistant ecosystem instead. As the Verge notes, this will upset a bunch of systems that used to work one way, and no longer will going forward.

    • Russia’s Investigative Committee reportedly received a second claim of high-ranking FSB racketeering two months ago and has not responded

      Alexander Shestun, the former government head for Moscow Oblast’s Serpukhovsky District, is in jail awaiting trial for embezzlement, bribery, and other charges. He had told journalists before his arrest that high-ranking officials in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and in Vladimir Putin’s administration had threatened to bring a criminal case against him. Now, Shestun’s press secretary, Vlada Rusina, has told journalists that the former district head submitted a racketeering complaint against an FSB general two months ago.

    • Europeans Criminalized for Helping Migrants as Far Right Aims to Win Elections

      Five months ago, at 10 o’clock in the morning, German police arrived at the home and parish of Christian Hartung, a pastor in Rhineland-Palatinate. At the same time, they descended on the residences of four other Protestant pastors, seizing some of their cell phones, correspondence with lawyers and church records.

      It was an “attempt at intimidation,” Hartung told openDemocracy. The pastors have been under police investigation since 2018, after allowing Sudanese refugees to sleep in church buildings in rural, western Germany. It’s a region where the far-right AfD party is aiming for record votes in this week’s hotly-contested European Parliament elections.

      Hartung described an “emergency situation” in which church sanctuary was “the last lifeline” for these refugees, some of whom had life-threatening health problems. While he believes the investigation against him and his fellow pastors will eventually be dropped, he says that if it goes to court they “are ready to fight.”

      These pastors are among the hundreds of Europeans who have been arrested, investigated, or threatened with prison or fines over the past five years under a range of different laws that rights advocates say are “criminalising solidarity” with migrants, according to a new dataset of these cases compiled by openDemocracy.

    • A Question of Honor

      Diana Kader was in her early 20s and living in the U.K. in 2005 when her family took her on a holiday to Yemen, their country of origin. She met relatives, visited tourist sites and stayed in the village where her parents were born. Two of her sisters fell in love and married Yemeni men. A wealthy suitor approached Kader’s father, asking for her hand in marriage. Kader, who wanted to continue her studies in the U.K., refused. Her family supported her decision. The suitor persisted and even threatened the family. Eventually, however, he seemed to accept her decision.

      In May 2006, Kader set off on a road trip around Yemen, alone. On the highway, she was run off the road by a petrol tanker belonging to her suitor’s family. Her car flipped; she was thrown out. As she lay injured, her suitor, who had been driving the tanker, approached her and phoned her father. He said he would leave her to die by the side of the road “like a dog,” although he finally relented and took her to a hospital. Her arm and leg were broken, and her pelvis was shattered in four places.

      Her suitor claimed that the crash was an accident. The statement released by police and forensic officers regarding the incident clearly contradicts his claim. This translation has been verified by a neutral third party: “Police and forensic officers … found from the tread marks that the petrol tanker … had been driving on the wrong side of the road, heading in Diana Kader’s direction and forcing her off the road. Evidence also suggests that the petrol tanker had done a U turn in the road and chased Diana’s vehicle. … Our investigation shows that Diana Kader had been deliberately forced off the road, then hit. … Our investigation corroborates Diana Kader’s statement [that she was intentionally struck with the goal of killing her].”

    • This Is How Republics Die

      The American republic could die, just like Rome.

      Wavering for some time on the verge of becoming a complete oligarchy, America is on the verge of flipping from a democratic republic to a strongman or autocratic form of government, something that’s happened to dozens of democracies in the past few decades, but never before here. It’s possible we won’t recover from it.

      The death of a republic is different from the death of a nation; Rome was a nation for nearly 2,000 years, but its period of being a republic was only around 300 years long. For the rest, it was a brutal empire with a small but wealthy and corrupt ruling class and a thin patina of democracy-for-show.

      Trump is openly defying the norms and laws of our republic, while calling for the imprisonment of both his political enemies and members of the very law enforcement agencies that might hold him to account. And he’s only able to do it because billionaires like Rupert Murdoch, with Fox News, and the billionaires Republicans depend on to fund their re-elections are providing him with cover.

      And they’re largely able to do that because five “conservatives” on the Supreme Court empowered billionaires to own the political system with the 1976 Buckley and 2010 Citizens United decisions.

    • Yekaterinburg dismantles perimeter at controversial construction site ahead of citywide poll

      On the morning of May 21, crews in Yekaterinburg started dismantling a wall that went up a week earlier around the construction site for a new cathedral in one of the city’s few remaining public parks. The wall was erected after protesters repeatedly toppled the original perimeter: a chain-link fence. After nearly a week of demonstrations that attracted national news attention, at the suggestion of President Putin, local officials decided to conduct a citywide survey to determine the construction site’s future. In the meantime, the city’s diocese asked workers to remove the wall around the site, “for the sake of peace and harmony in the city.”

    • Government Generously Hands Back Two-Thirds Of The $626,000 It Stole From Two Men Driving Through Missouri

      A case out of Missouri is highlighting yet again the stupidity and vindictiveness that defines civil asset forfeiture. In January 2017, law enforcement seized $626,000 from two men as they passed through the state on their way to California. According to the state highway patrol, the men presented contradictory stories about their origin, destination, and the plans for the money found during the traffic stop.

      The complaint filed against the money made a lot of claims about the government’s suspicions this was money destined for drug purchases. Supposedly evidence was recovered from seized phones suggested the two men were involved in drug trafficking, utilizing a third person’s money. Despite all of this evidence, prosecutors never went after the men. They only went after the money.

    • Family of Jailed Saudi Feminist Loujain Al-Hathloul: She Was Waterboarded, Flogged & Electrocuted

      It’s been a year since women’s right activist Loujain Al-Hathloul was detained and jailed in Saudi Arabia for leading a movement to lift the kingdom’s ban on female drivers and overhaul its male “guardianship” system. Despite international outcry, she’s been imprisoned ever since. During that time, her family says, she’s been held in solitary confinement and faced abuse, including electric shocks, flogging and threats of sexual violence. The Saudi government has resisted calls from human rights groups and lawmakers from around the world to release Loujain and the other jailed activists. We speak with two of Loujain’s siblings, Walid and Lina Al-Hathloul.

    • Detained, Abused & Denied Medical Care: How Trump Immigration Policies Led to Child Deaths at Border

      A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died in U.S. custody Monday after spending a week in immigration jail. Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez was found dead at a Border Patrol station at Weslaco, Texas, just one day after being diagnosed with the flu. He was not hospitalized. This marks the fifth death of a Guatemalan child apprehended by Border Patrol since December. Before last year, it had been more than a decade since a child died in the custody of U.S. immigration officials. We speak with Fernando Garcia, the founding director of the Border Network for Human Rights, an advocacy organization based in El Paso, and Jennifer Harbury, a longtime human rights lawyer based in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • BREAKING NEWS: Federal Trade Commission wins antitrust case against Qualcomm in Northern District of California

      Judge Koh is amazing. Just like I noticed at the January trial, she’s totally focused on the facts and not interested in lawyers’ rhetoric. And her ruling explains the complex commercial and technical issues in this case as well as applicable antitrust case law in a very understandable form (though it’s obviously still a complex matter).

      I am now still studying the findings of fact and conclusion of law in detail, and will continue to update this post accordingly, but this is a resounding victory for the FTC–and totally consistent with my coverage of and commentary on the January trial in San Jose (here and on Twitter). And a defeat for Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, whose subordinates made a last-minute submission that failed to persuade Judge Koh.

    • Bitcoin Patent Trolling

      Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 266. This is my appearance in Episode 36 of the Did You Know Crypto Podcast, with host Dustin. We talked “about the possibility of using patents as an attack vector on Bitcoin.” As Dustin summarized in his show notes: Stephan and I talk about… What is a Patent? Differences in EU/US & China Why is it so “hallowed” Open Source Software and patents What is a “Patent Troll” Craig Wright’s patents Can Bitcoin developers be sued?

    • Germany: What happens when prior art is described in a patent?

      In the decision Scheinwerferbelüftungssystem (X ZR 16/17), the German Federal Court of Justice was concerned with the issue of claim interpretation in terms of prior art described in the patent. As a general principle, highlighted in the decision, it must be considered for claim interpretation that a patent with its teaching seeks to delimit itself from prior art described therein. In particular, if the content of a state of the art description is equated with the preamble of a patent claim, the features of the characterising portion must, in case of doubt, not be construed as being part of the subject matter of the state of the art from which they shall differ.

    • Unified Patents Real Party-in-Interest (RPI) Decisions (May 2019 Update)

      Unified’s status as the sole RPI was challenged in its first IPR where the Board held that Unified was the sole RPI. Unified Patents Inc. v. Clouding IP, LLC, IPR2013-00586, Paper 9 (Mar. 21, 2014) (members were not found to be RPIs, where there was no evidence of funding or control of the particular IPR; challenged claims were later cancelled in a Final Written Decision issued April 26, 2015). As catalogued below, Unified overcame every such challenge in the proceeding years. As a result, many times Unified’s RPI status was no longer being challenged.

      But in 2018, the Federal Circuit had their first opportunity to review the Board’s developing RPI jurisprudence in a case involving a different membership organization. That opinion endorsed the Board’s long standing RPI test set forth in the Trial Practice Guide, but outlined facts particular to that situation (including a potential time-bar) and characteristics of that different membership organization that merited further scrutiny on remand. See Applications in Internet Time, LLC v. RPX Corp., 897 F.3d 1336 (July 9, 2018) (“AIT”).

    • Inevitable Disclosure Injunctions Under the DTSA: Much Ado About § 1836(b)(3)(A)(i)(1)(I)

      When trade secret law was federalized in 2016, some commentators and legislators expressed concern that federalization of trade secret law would make so-called “inevitable disclosure” injunctions against departing employees a federal remedy, and negatively impact employee mobility on a national scale.

      In response to such concerns, the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) included a provision that is ostensibly designed to limit availability of inevitable disclosure injunctions under the DTSA. The limiting provision is codified in 18 U.S.C. 1836(b)(3)(A)(i)(1)(I), discussed further below.

      The DTSA has been in effect for just over three years. My preliminary observation is that courts do not appear to view Section 1836(b)(3)(A)(i)(1)(I) as placing novel limitations on employment injunctions in trade secret cases. They also do not seem to be wary of “inevitable disclosure” language.

    • Unified Launches CyberSecurity Zone with Industry Leading Members

      Unified Patents Inc., the world’s only membership organization dedicated to deterring Non-Practicing Entity (NPE) activity, today announced the launch of its Cybersecurity Protection Zone that seeks to deter unsubstantiated or invalid patent assertions within the ever-growing industry.

      Cybersecurity companies of all sizes are encouraged to apply for membership in the Cybersecurity Protection Zone, with complimentary membership for small-sized businesses and scaled pricing based on revenue for larger organizations. Membership already includes numerous industry leaders, including Cisco, McAfee, Palo Alto Networks, Rapid7, Red Hat and others.

    • Over 90% of Cybersecurity litigation is NPE related

      Unified is pleased to announce the creation of its Cybersecurity Zone, a new zone directed to protecting technology relating to network security systems. Similar to Unified’s other NPE Zones, the objective of the Cybersecurity Zone is to deter frivolous NPE assertions against companies that provide innovative solutions to cybersecurity issues using technologies such as threat detection and prevention, encryption, behavioral analytics, and authentication systems. A complete list of technologies covered by this Zone is available in the Cybersecurity Zone definition.

    • All Challenged Claims of Fall Line Patent Held Unpatentable; Unified Sole RPI

      On April 4, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. Fall Line Patents, LLC, IPR2018-00043, holding as unpatentable claims 16-19, 21, and 22 of U.S. Patent No. 9,454,748, owned and asserted by Fall Line Patents, LLC, an NPE. The final written decision was made publicly available on May 16, 2019. The ‘748 patent is generally directed to collecting data from a handheld computing device by means of a questionnaire on the handheld computing device and transmitting responses, including GPS coordinates of the handheld computing device, to a server. The ‘748 patent has been asserted against numerous companies including American Airlines, AMC Entertainment, Boston Market,Choice Hotels, Cinemark Theatres, McDonald’s, Papa John’s, Starbucks, Uber, and Zoës Kitchen.

    • Velos Media Patent Likely Unpatentable

      On May 16, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims against U.S. Patent 9,338,449. The ’449 patent is currently owned and alleged to be standard essential by Velos Media, LLC, and was originally owned by Qualcomm, Inc. The ’449 patent is directed to scan order techniques for coding transform coefficients and expires in 2032.

      This filing is part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its new SEP Video Codec Zone. Velos claims to have and seeks to license patents allegedly essential to the HEVC / H.265 standard. The ‘449 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is the third-largest family known to be owned by Velos. It represents approximately 5.5% of Velos’ total known assets (and 6.25% of its total known U.S. assets). To date, Unified has challenged over 30% of Velos’ known assets.

    • Federal Circuit Affirms $1.3M Attorney’s Fees Award Under Octane Fitness Standard

      In a patent infringement suit where non-infringement may be easily determined, a lack of an adequate pre-suit investigation may be sufficient to result in an award of attorney’s fees to the accused party.

    • Finnavations LLC v. Payoneer, Inc. (D. Del. 2019)

      In the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, motions for an exceptional case and attorneys’ fees were granted on the basis that the patent owner brought suit with a software patent having claims so “ugly” that they had no chance to survive a challenge under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The case is Finnavations LLC v. Payoneer, Inc. and Finnavations LLC v. Stitch Labs, Inc. Here, Defendant Payoneer Inc. filed a Motion for Exceptional Case and Defendant Stitch Labs, Inc. filed a Motion for Attorneys’ Fees after prevailing in the action by invalidating the asserted patent under § 101. The District Court granted each of these motions and offered some strong opinions on the invalidity of the patent. However, it’s difficult to see, based on current standards, how the patent claim is as “ugly” as the Court stated.

    • Hyper Search LLC v. Facebook Inc. (D. Del. 2018)

      In October 2017, Hyper Search brought a patent infringement action against Facebook in the District of Delaware, asserting U.S. Patent Nos. 6,085,219, 6,271,840, and 6,792,412. Facebook sought to dismiss the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), alleging that all asserted claims were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. While all three patents suffered a similar fate, the ’412 patent and the Court’s reasoning regarding this patent is of particular interest because the claims thereof specifically address machine learning.

      [...]

      Until a claim written in accordance with these techniques is subject of a § 101 challenge, the eligibility landscape of machine learning inventions will remain largely unmapped.

    • InterDigital expects to be able to license 5G tech to Huawei, despite U.S. ban

      InterDigital Wireless Inc said on Monday that it can license its 5G network technology to Huawei Technologies Co Ltd despite the threat of a U.S. ban on selling chips and software to the Chinese telecommunications firm, and patent attorneys said Qualcomm Inc likely also can do so.

    • United States: Paying Just Compensation for “Taking” Patents?

      Since the U.S. Supreme Court last year in Oil States rejected a constitutional challenge to the Patent Trial & Appeal Board’s authority to invalidate patents in post-grant reviews, patent owners in the United States have started exploring other constitutional challenges to these PTAB proceedings. Some patent owners have said that the PTAB violated their due process rights, and others have claimed that the PTAB’s Administrative Patent Judges were unconstitutionally appointed. Others have also raised the novel argument that the invalidation of a patent by the PTAB is an unconstitutional taking violating the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, which provides that private property cannot be taken for public use without the payment of “just compensation.” But a threshold question for courts to address is this – is a patent a private property right subject to protection by the Takings Clause in the first place? In the upcoming months, the Federal Circuit will get its chance to weigh in on this very issue.

      [...]

      Whatever the outcome, Christy is a case worth watching – and the Supreme Court’s penchant for both Federal Circuit and Fifth Amendment cases may mean the issue may ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Interested parties – particularly those who own U.S. patents – may wish to weigh in with amicus filings to help the Federal Circuit’s consideration of this issue of first impression.

    • Trademarks

      • “Total win” for licensees in SCOTUS TM-bankruptcy ruling

        The US Supreme Court’s finding that bankrupt trademark licensors may not revoke licensees’ rights is a resounding victory for licensees, according to lawyers

        The 8-1 decision yesterday answered a longstanding question related to IP rights and the bankruptcy code.

      • In Mission Product Ruling, Supreme Court Clarifies Longstanding Circuit Split on Effects of Bankruptcy on Trademark Licenses
      • A “Conveyed” Trademark License Cannot be Rescinded in Bankruptcy

        Today’s Supreme Court trademark case has several important nuggets for intellectual property owners. Here are two: First, TM licensing is somewhat clarified with the holding that a bankrupt mark-holder cannot simply cancel prior licenses as part of the bankruptcy. Second, the court’s holding here treats a TM license effectively as a property right that has been transferred rather than a contract with ongoing mutual obligations. In bankruptcy proceedings, ongoing contracts can ordinarily be rejected by the bankruptcy trustee while prior property transfers are only rarely rolled-back.

      • Maximizing Licensee Interests to the Detriment of the Bankruptcy Estate

        As a guest blogger on this site invited to talk a bit about Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC, I approach this topic with some consternation. The Supreme Court’s position in this case has broken the traditional understanding of § 365 of the Bankruptcy Code, and may have larger ramifications for how we read the Bankruptcy Code overall.

        Let me back up a bit. Bankruptcy provides some pretty fantastic opportunities for debtors to shift the traditional balance of power between them and their creditors, which is typically why companies are motivated to file. A struggling or insolvent company doesn’t need bankruptcy – they could attempt a creditor-by-creditor workout, use state court proceedings, or just throw in the towel and let the creditors snap up assets in a race to the courthouse. Provisions in the Bankruptcy Code are intended to preserve and maximize value, often by restraining creditors from invoking their rights under state law. For example, the automatic stay prohibits secured creditors from repossessing the debtor’s property, even if the debtor has clearly defaulted on its security agreement. As long as the debtor remains in bankruptcy, it retains control of the property and there is nothing the creditor can do about it, other than petition the court for so-called “adequate protection” to cover the risk of loss or depreciation, or for an order of relief from the automatic stay, which will only be granted if the debtor doesn’t need the property to reorganize. The stay gives a debtor the chance to make more of the property, which benefits all creditors of the estate. There are tons of other examples, all of which paint the picture of the Bankruptcy Code as a place where rights are reevaluated and often held in abeyance, so long as this reevaluation is in the interest of the debtor’s bankruptcy estate, and by extension, its creditors.

    • Copyrights

      • US Magistrate Judge Provides The Template To End Copyright Trolling With Ruling Against Strike 3

        While we’ve been busily pointing out that the practice of copyright trolling is a plague across the globe, it seems there is something of a backlash beginning to build. For far too long, copyright trolls have bent the court system to their business model, with discovery requests and subpoenas allowing them to unmask internet service account holders on the basis of IP addresses, and then using that information to send settlement/threat letters to avoid trials altogether. Put simply, that is the business model of the copyright troll. The backlash against it has been multi-pronged. Canada has begun restricting what types of threat letters trolls can force ISPs to send to their customers, for instance. Elsewhere, Swedish ISPs have have led something of a legislative crusade against copyright trolls. In the US, some courts are finally realizing how bad IP addresses are as evidence, pushing trolls to get something better.

        But the key to ending the plague of copyright trolling has probably been best outlined in a recent decision by a US Magistrate Judge against Strike 3 Holdings, in which the judge argues using Strike 3′s own statistical analysis that it is abusing the court system to the detriment of innocent people.

      • Monday Miscellany [Ed: After (only after) they sold a law to billionaires they merely discuss "implementation"]

        On 13th of June, the European Copyright Roundtable will take place in Brussels. It will focus on Article 17 (ex-13) DSMD that regulates online content sharing service providers. Academics and industry representatives will discuss interpretations and possible implementations of Article 17 DSMD and its various components. The event is structured into four panels: (a) General issues; (b) Licensing issues; (c) Preventive obligations; (d) Over-removal of the legitimate content. The event is organized and funded by Tilburg Law School (Martin Husovec) and CREATe, University of Glasgow (Martin Kretschmer).

      • Open Letter: Copyright Working Group Must Include NGO Voices

        Here is the open letter signed by Liberties and more than 40 other human and digital rights organizations calling for their inclusion in the implementation process of the EU Copyright Directive.
        Dear President Juncker, Dear First Vice-President Timmermans, Dear Vice-President Ansip, Dear Commissioner Gabriel, Dear Director General Roberto Viola,

        The undersigned stakeholders represent fundamental rights organizations, the knowledge community (in particular libraries), free and open source software developers, and communities from across the European Union.

        The new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market has been adopted and, as soon as it is published in the Official Journal, Member States will have two years to implement the new rules. Article 17, on ‘certain uses of protected content by online services’, foresees that the European Commission will issue guidance on the application of this Article.

      • Cross-border ‘illegal’ linking: questions of localization and choice of law

        In GS Media the CJEU found that, where it is established that the person linking knew or ought to have known that the hyperlink provides access to a work illegally placed on the internet, the provision of that link constitutes a communication to the public. How the CJEU characterized linking is unique in the sense that it presupposes the existence of two communications to the public: provision of the hyperlink and the publication of the linked content. The illegality of latter is a legal condition of the first.

        The most common form of linking concerns the situation where a hyperlink is posted on a website leading to content published on another website. More often than not, these websites have different connecting factors. The servers of the websites may be situated in different countries, the content and the languages may be different, and thus the intended audience may too be different. Furthermore, the acts of publishing committed by the individuals posting the link respectively material may take place in different countries.

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    Internationalists and patent trolls are those who stand to benefit from the 'globalisation' of low-quality and law-breaking patents such as patents on algorithms, nature and life itself; the EPO isn't equipped to serve its original goals anymore



  14. The EPO's Central Staff Committee and SUEPO (Staff Union) Respond to “Fascist Bills” Supported by EPO President António Campinos

    Raw material pertaining to the latest Campinos "scandal"; what Campinos said, what the Central Staff Committee (CSC) said, and what SUEPO said



  15. Storm Brewing in the European Patent Office After a Hot Summer

    Things aren't rosy in EPOnia (to say the least); in fact, things have been getting a lot worse lately, but the public wouldn't know judging by what media tells the public (almost nothing)



  16. Why I Once Called for Richard Stallman to Step Down

    Guest post from the developer who recently authored "Getting Stallman Wrong Means Getting The 21st Century Wrong"



  17. As Richard Stallman Resigns Let's Consider Why GNU/Linux Without Stallman and Torvalds Would be a Victory to Microsoft

    Stallman has been ejected after a lot of intentionally misleading press coverage; this is a dark day for Software Freedom



  18. Links 16/9/2019: GNU Linux-libre 5.3, GNU World Order 13×38, Vista 10 Breaks Itself Again

    Links for the day



  19. Links 16/9/2019: Qt Quick on Vulkan, Metal, and Direct3D; BlackWeb 1.2 Reviewed

    Links for the day



  20. Richard Stallman's Controversial Views Are Nothing New and They Distract From Bill Gates' Vastly Worse Role

    It's easier to attack Richard Stallman (RMS) using politics (than using his views on software) and media focus on Stallman's personal views on sexuality bears some resemblance to the push against Linus Torvalds, which leans largely on the false perception that he is sexist, rude and intolerant



  21. Links 16/9/2019: Linux 5.3, EasyOS Releases, Media Backlash Against RMS

    Links for the day



  22. Openwashing Report on Open Networking Foundation (ONF): When Open Source Means Collaboration Among Giant Spying Companies

    Massive telecommunications oligopolies (telecoms) are being described as ethical and responsible by means of openwashing; they even have their own front groups for that obscene mischaracterisation and ONF is one of those



  23. 'Open Source' You Cannot Run Without Renting or 'Licensing' Windows From Microsoft

    When so-called ‘open source’ programs strictly require Vista 10 (or similar) to run, how open are they really and does that not redefine the nature of Open Source while betraying everything Free/libre software stands for?



  24. All About Control: Microsoft is Not Open Source But an Open Source Censor/Spy and GitHub/LinkedIn/Skype Are Its Proprietary Censorship/Surveillance Tools

    All the big companies which Microsoft bought in recent years are proprietary software and all of the company’s big products remain proprietary software; all that “Open Source” is to Microsoft is “something to control and censor“



  25. The Sad State of GNU/Linux News Sites

    The ‘media coup’ of corporate giants (that claim to be 'friends') means that history of GNU/Linux is being distorted and lied about; it also explains prevalent lies such as "Microsoft loves Linux" and denial of GNU/Free software



  26. EPO President Along With Bristows, Managing IP and Other Team UPC Boosters Are Lobbying for Software Patents in Clear and Direct Violation of the EPC

    A calm interpretation of the latest wave of lobbying from litigation professionals, i.e. people who profit when there are lots of patent disputes and even expensive lawsuits which may be totally frivolous (for example, based upon fake patents that aren't EPC-compliant)



  27. Links 15/9/2019: Radeon ROCm 2.7.2, KDE Frameworks 5.62.0, PineTime and Bison 3.4.2

    Links for the day



  28. Illegal/Invalid Patents (IPs) Have Become the 'Norm' in Europe

    Normalisation of invalid patents (granted by the EPO in defiance of the EPC) is a serious problem, but patent law firms continue to exploit that while this whole 'patent bubble' lasts (apparently the number of applications will continue to decrease because the perceived value of European Patents diminishes)



  29. Patent Maximalists, Orbiting the European Patent Office, Work to 'Globalise' a System of Monopolies on Everything

    Monopolies on just about everything are being granted in defiance of the EPC and there are those looking to make this violation ‘unitary’, even worldwide if not just EU-wide



  30. Unitary Patent (UPC) Promotion by Team Battistelli 'Metastasising' in Private Law Firms

    The EPO's Albert Keyack (Team Battistelli) is now in Team UPC as Vice President of Kilburn & Strode LLP; he already fills the media with lies about the UPC, as one can expect


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