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05.23.19

Links 23/5/2019: Elisa 0.4.0, OpenSUSE Leap 15.1 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 10:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Some Difficulty That Are Often Experienced By New Linux Users

      On a Linux Users forum, I asked about the difficulties experienced by users. Apparently, I got many interesting and varied answers. Here are some of the difficulty that Linux users feel based on the opinions of people in the forum.

    • Huawei laptop extras driver
    • Huawei Linux Laptop Driver Improvements On The Way

      Huawei laptops have already worked well on Linux like the MateBook while further improvements are forthcoming, as is commonly the case for x86 laptops with various quirks and other non-standard support bits. A patch was sent out today for improving the Linux kernel’s existing Huawei laptop driver and extending it from being just a WMI hot-keys driver to now being a platform driver with extra functionality.

      The added functionality to this Huawei-WMI Linux driver includes controlling the mic/mute LED, controlling battery charging thresholds, adjusting the Fn-lock state, and related functionality.

  • Server

    • Bringing the Benefits of Linux Containers to Operational Technology

      Linux container technology was introduced more than a decade ago and has recently jumped in adoption in IT environments. However, the OT (operational technology) environments, typically made up of heterogenous embedded systems, have lagged in the adoption of container technologies, due to both the unique technology requirements and the business models that relied on proprietary systems. In this article, I explore recent innovation in open-source offerings that are enabling the use of containers in OT use cases, such as industrial control systems, IoT gateways, medical devices, Radio Access Network (RAN) products and network appliances.

      Enterprise IT leaders have adopted “cloud-native” computing architectures because of the innovation velocity and cost benefits derived by the approach. To leverage containers, developers segment applications into modular micro-services that enable flexible development and deployment models. These micro-services are then deployed as containers where the service itself is integrated with the required libraries and functions. On containerization, these application components have small footprints and fast speeds of deployment. The applications become highly portable across compute architectures due to the abstraction away from the hardware and the operating system.

    • Rook-Ceph storage Operator now on OperatorHub.io

      We are excited to announce the addition of the Rook-Ceph storage Operator to OperatorHub.io. Operators are design patterns that augment and implement common day one and day two activities with Kubernetes clusters, simplifying application deployments and empowering developers to focus on creation versus remediation. The Rook-Ceph Operator is an upstream effort that Red Hat is leading and is using as part of its work towards Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage 4.

      Developing and deploying cloud-native applications at scale can be complex and challenging. The new Rook-Ceph storage Operator is designed to automate the packaging, deployment, management, upgrading, and scaling of Ceph clusters that provide persistent storage to stateful applications as well as infrastructure services (logging, metrics, registry) in Kubernetes clusters. The release of Rook’s Ceph Operator augments Kubernetes scheduling with a complement of stateful storage services including block, filesystem and object storage.

    • Red Hat Satellite 6.4.3 has been released

      Red Hat Satellite 6.4.3 is generally available. The main drivers for the 6.4.3 release are a Request for Feature Enhancement (RFE) for capsule syncing control as well as general stability fixes.

      The capsule syncing control feature enables the user to have control over when capsule syncs occur. Traditionally the capsule sync occurs automatically after a content view is updated, but some customers may want more granular control over when the synchronization occurs. Satellite 6.4.3 introduces a new setting in Administer —> Settings —> Content —> Sync Capsules after Content View promotion.

    • Red Hat and the rise of RHEL

      If the success of the open source company Red Hat can be ascribed to one thing, it’s the Enterprise Linux operating system that it releases

      The company recently unveiled the general release of the latest version, RHEL 8, and it serves as a bellwether for how software development has changed over the years.

      Developers are now shouldering more operational responsibilities, which is largely due to the rise in the use of containers. This enables teams to use microservices to build applications. With RHEL 8, Red Hat has also placed container tools such as Buildah, Podman and Skopea directly into the operating system.

    • What Is New Features In Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (RHEL 8)?

      Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (RHEL 8) was released on 2019-05-07. The first beta was announced on 14 November 2018.

      There are lot of opportunities in Devops to improve the IT infra to next generation so, Red Hat is more focus on this area.

      To give more space to developers, they were added a lot of tools that developer-friendly capabilities.

      IT infra has been moved from Physical servers to Virtual servers. Now, we are migrating from Virtual servers to Containers & Kubernetes.

    • Distribution Release – Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8
    • The future of Docker containers

      Michael Crosby is one of the most influential developers working on Docker containers today, helping to lead development of containerd as well as serving as the Open Container Initiative (OCI) Technical Oversight Chair. At DockerCon 19, Crosby led a standing-room-only session, outlining the past, present and — more importantly — the future of Docker as a container technology. The early history of Docker is closely tied with Linux and, as it turns out, so too is Docker’s future.

      Crosby reminded attendees that Docker started out using LXC as its base back in 2013, but it has moved beyond that over the past six years, first with the docker-led libcontainer effort and more recently with multi-stakeholder OCI effort at the Linux Foundation, which has developed an open specification for a container runtime. The specification includes the runc container runtime which is at the core of the open source containerd project that Crosby helps to lead. Containerd is a hosted project at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and is one of only a handful of projects that, like Kubernetes, have “graduated”, putting it in the top tier of the CNCF hierarchy in terms of project stability and maturity.

    • Why Organizations Want A Kubernetes-based Container Service for Cloud
    • The technology that powers IG

      Instagram run in Ubuntu Linux 11.04 (“Natty Narwhal”). Engineers found past variants of Ubuntu had a wide range of flighty solidifying scenes on EC2 under high traffic, yet Natty has been strong and exceptional

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 810
    • The NAS Fleet | BSD Now 299

      Running AIX on QEMU on Linux on Windows, your NAS fleet with TrueCommand, Unleashed 1.3 is available, LLDB: CPU register inspection support extension, V7 Unix programs often not written as expected, and more.

    • FLOSS Weekly 531: Bareos

      Bareos is a reliable, cross-network open source software for backup, archiving and recovery of data for all well-established operating systems. It offers among other features LTO hardware encryption, bandwidth limitation and new practical console commands.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.1.4

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.1.4 kernel.

      All users of the 5.1 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.1.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.1.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      https://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-s…

    • Linux 5.0.18
    • Linux 4.19.45
    • Linux 4.14.121
    • Linux 4.9.178
    • BPF: what’s good, what’s coming, and what’s needed

      The 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit differed somewhat from its predecessors in that it contained a fourth track dedicated to the BPF virtual machine. LWN was unable to attend most of those sessions, but a couple of BPF-related talks were a part of the broader program. Among those was a plenary talk by Dave Miller, described as “a wholistic view” of why BPF is successful, its current state, and where things are going.

      Years ago, Miller began, Alexei Starovoitov showed up at a netfilter conference promoting his ideas for extending BPF. He described how it could be used to efficiently implement various types of switching fabric — any type, in fact. Miller said that he didn’t understand the power of this idea until quite a bit later.

    • The first half of the 5.2 merge window

      When he released the 5.1 kernel, Linus Torvalds noted that he had a family event happening in the middle of the 5.2 merge window and that he would be offline for a few days in the middle. He appears to be trying to make up for lost time before it happens: over 8,300 non-merge changesets have found their way into the mainline in the first four days. As always, there is a wide variety of work happening all over the kernel tree.

    • DAX semantics

      In the filesystems track at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit, Ted Ts’o led a discussion about an inode flag to indicate DAX files, which is meant to be applied to files that should be directly accessed without going through the page cache. XFS has such a flag, but ext4 and other filesystems do not. The semantics of what the flag would mean are not clear to Ts’o (and probably others), so the intent of the discussion was to try to nail those down.

      Dan Williams said that the XFS DAX flag is silently ignored if the device is not DAX capable. Otherwise, the file must be accessed with DAX. Ts’o said there are lots of questions about what turning on or off a DAX flag might mean; does it matter whether there are already pages in the page cache, for example. He said that he did not have any strong preference but thought that all filesystems should stick with one interpretation.

      While Christoph Hellwig described things as “all broken”, Ts’o was hoping that some agreement could be reached among the disparate ideas of what a DAX flag would mean. A few people think there should be no flag and that it should all be determined automatically, but most think the flag is useful. He suggested starting with something “super conservative”, such as only being able to set the flag for zero-length files or only empty directories where the files in it would inherit the flag. Those constraints could be relaxed later if there was a need.

    • A filesystem for virtualization

      A new filesystem aimed at sharing host filesystems with KVM guests, virtio-fs, was the topic of a session led by Miklos Szeredi at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit. The existing solution, which is based on the 9P filesystem from Plan 9, has some shortcomings, he said. Virtio-fs is a prototype that uses the Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE) interface.

      The existing 9P-based filesystem does not provide local filesystem semantics and is “pretty slow”, Szeredi said. The FUSE-based virtio-fs (RFC patches) is performing “much better”. One of the ideas behind the new filesystem is to share the page cache between the host and guests, so there would be no data duplication for multiple guests accessing the same files from the host filesystem.

      There are still some areas that need work, however. Metadata and the directory entry cache (dcache) cannot be shared, because data structures cannot be shared between the host and guests. There are two ways to handle that. Either there can be a round trip from the guest to the host for each operation to ensure the coherence of the metadata cache and dcache, or the guest can cache that information and somehow revalidate the cache on each operation without going to the host kernel.

    • Common needs for Samba and NFS

      Amir Goldstein led a discussion on things that the two major network filesystems for Linux, Samba and NFS, could cooperate on at the end of day one of the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit. In particular, are there needs that both filesystems have that the kernel is not currently providing? He had some ideas of areas that might be tackled, but was looking for feedback from the assembled filesystem developers.

      He has recently just started looking at the kernel NFS daemon (knfsd) as it is a lesser use case for the customers of his company’s NAS device. Most use Samba (i.e. SMB). He would like to see both interoperate better with other operating systems, though.

    • NFS topics

      Trond Myklebust and Bruce Fields led a session on some topics of interest in the NFS world at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit. Myklebust discussed the intersection of NFS and containers, as well adding TLS support to NFS. Fields also had some container changes to discuss, along with a grab bag of other areas that need attention.

      Myklebust began with TLS support for the RPC layer that underlies NFS. One of the main issues is how to do the upcall from the RPC layer to a user-space daemon that would handle the TLS handshake. There is kernel support for doing TLS once the handshake is complete; hardware acceleration of TLS was added in the last year based on code from Intel and Mellanox, he said. RPC will use that code, but there is still the question of handling the handshake.

    • Crazy Compiler Optimizations

      Kernel development is always strange. Andrea Parri recently posted a patch to change the order of memory reads during multithreaded operation, such that if one read depended upon the next, the second could not actually occur before the first.

      The problem with this was that the bug never could actually occur, and the fix made the kernel’s behavior less intuitive for developers. Peter Zijlstra, in particular, voted nay to this patch, saying it was impossible to construct a physical system capable of triggering the bug in question.

      And although Andrea agreed with this, he still felt the bug was worth fixing, if only for its theoretical value. Andrea figured, a bug is a bug is a bug, and they should be fixed. But Peter objected to having the kernel do extra work to handle conditions that could never arise. He said, “what I do object to is a model that’s weaker than any possible sane hardware.”

      Will Deacon sided with Peter on this point, saying that the underlying hardware behaved a certain way, and the kernel’s current behavior mirrored that way. He remarked, “the majority of developers are writing code with the underlying hardware in mind and so allowing behaviours in the memory model which are counter to how a real machine operates is likely to make things more confusing, rather than simplifying them!”

      Still, there were some developers who supported Andrea’s patch. Alan Stern, in particular, felt that it made sense to fix bugs when they were found, but that it also made sense to include a comment in the code, explaining the default behavior and the rationale behind the fix, even while acknowledging the bug never could be triggered.

      But, Andrea wasn’t interested in forcing his patch through the outstretched hands of objecting developers. He was happy enough to back down, having made his point.

      It was actually Paul McKenney, who had initially favored Andrea’s patch and had considered sending it up to Linus Torvalds for inclusion in the kernel, who identified some of the deeper and more disturbing issues surrounding this whole debate. Apparently, it cuts to the core of the way kernel code is actually compiled into machine language.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Automotive Linux Summit and Open Source Summit Japan Keynote Speakers and Schedule Announced

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source has announced the speaker line up for Open Source Summit Japan and Automotive Linux Summit. One registration provides access to all content at both events, which will be held July 17-19 at the Toranomon Hills Forum in Tokyo.

        Open Source Summit Japan (OSSJ) and Automotive Linux Summit (ALS) will bring together top talent from companies on the leading edge of innovation including Toyota Motor Corporation, Uber, Intel, Sony, Google, Microsoft and more. Talks will cover a range of topics, with ALS talks on everything from infrastructure and hardware to compliance and security; and OSSJ sessions on AI, Linux systems, cloud infrastructure, cloud native applications, open networking, edge computing, safety and security and open source best practices.

      • Linux Foundation Statement on Huawei Entity List Ruling

        Thank you for your inquiry regarding concerns with a member subject to an Entity List Ruling.[1] While statements in the Executive Order prompting the listing used language granting a broader scope of authority, the Huawei Entity List ruling was specifically scoped to activities and transactions subject to the Export Administration Regulation (EAR).
        Open source encryption software source code was reclassified by the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) effective September 20, 2016 as “publicly available” and no longer “subject to the EAR.”[2] Each open source project is still required to send a notice of the URL to BIS and NSA to satisfy the “publicly available” notice requirement in the EAR at 15 CFR § 742.15(b).

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMD Begins Queueing Graphics Driver Changes For The Linux 5.3 Kernel

        Being past the Linux 5.2 kernel merge window, AMD’s open-source Linux graphics driver developers have already begun queuing changes anticipated for Linux 5.3 via a work-in-progress tree.

        Given the short time that this 5.3 WIP tree has been around, there isn’t too much exciting about the changes — yet. But surely over the weeks ahead it will get interesting. Making things particularly interesting is that we are expecting initial Navi support to make it for Linux 5.3… In recent weeks AMD began pushing AMDGPU LLVM compiler back-end changes for GFX10/Navi and we expect the AMDGPU DRM kernel driver enablement to come for Linux 5.3. Linux 5.3 will already be arriving after the rumored release of the first Navi graphics cards so having to wait past 5.3 for mainline support would already be tragic. But given the recent LLVM activity, we expect AMD to push out the Navi kernel driver changes soon. For that likely massive patch-set to be reviewed in time, the Navi patches would need to make their debut within the next few weeks.

      • Hans de Goede: Wayland itches summary

        1. Middle click on title / header bar to lower the Window does not work for native apps. Multiple people have reported this issue to me. A similar issue was fixed for not being able to raise Windows. It should be easy to apply a similar fix for the lowering problem. There are bugs open for this here, here and here.

        2. Running graphical apps via sudo or pxexec does not work. There are numerous examples of apps breaking because of this, such as lshw-gui and usbivew. At least for X11 apps this is not that hard to fix. But sofar this has deliberately not been fixed. The reasoning behind this is described in this bug. I agree with the reasoning behind this, but I think it is not pragmatic to immediately disallow all GUI apps to connect when run as root starting today.

      • Hans de Goede: Better support for running games under Wayland (with GNOME3/mutter as compositor)

        First of all I do not want people to get their hopes up about $subject of this blogpost. Improving gaming support is a subjects which holds my personal interest and it is an issue I plan to spend time on trying to improve. But this will take a lot of time (think months for simple things, years for more complex things).

      • Problems Being Investigated Under Wayland Itches Program, Including Gaming Performance

        Last week we wrote about a “Wayland Itches” program being devised by prolific open-source contributor Hans de Goede of Red Hat. The goal of this program is to address itches/paper-cuts/problems in using GNOME Shell atop Wayland. He’s received a fair amount of feedback so far and has some early indications to share.

        Hans de Goede wrote two blog posts today outlining the early feedback to his Wayland Itches project. Two items he is going to look into initially are middle-click on title/header bar to lower the Window not working for native applications and sudo/pfexec not working on Wayland. For the sudo/pfexec support, Hans is planning to optionally support the ability for GUI apps to connect when running as root. That was rejected upstream before but his plan is for this to be an optional feature for enabling the xauth file for allowing XWayland as root by GNOME-Shell/Mutter.

      • NVIDIA 418.52.07 Linux Driver Wires In Two More Extensions

        NVIDIA today released the 418.52.07 Linux driver as an updated build intended for Vulkan developers with it introducing support for two more extensions.

      • Problems Being Investigated Under Wayland Itches Program, Including Gaming Performance

        Last week we wrote about a “Wayland Itches” program being devised by prolific open-source contributor Hans de Goede of Red Hat. The goal of this program is to address itches/paper-cuts/problems in using GNOME Shell atop Wayland. He’s received a fair amount of feedback so far and has some early indications to share.

        Hans de Goede wrote two blog posts today outlining the early feedback to his Wayland Itches project. Two items he is going to look into initially are middle-click on title/header bar to lower the Window not working for native applications and sudo/pfexec not working on Wayland. For the sudo/pfexec support, Hans is planning to optionally support the ability for GUI apps to connect when running as root. That was rejected upstream before but his plan is for this to be an optional feature for enabling the xauth file for allowing XWayland as root by GNOME-Shell/Mutter.

      • NVIDIA 418.52.07 Linux Driver Wires In Two More Extensions

        NVIDIA today released the 418.52.07 Linux driver as an updated build intended for Vulkan developers with it introducing support for two more extensions.

    • Benchmarks

      • An Early Look At Some PHP 7.4 Performance Benchmarks

        The initial PHP 7.4 Alpha 1 release is just two weeks away already… Curious about the performance of this yearly update to PHP7, I ran some benchmarks on the latest development code as of this morning compared to the earlier PHP7 releases and even PHP-8.0 that is in development on Git master.

        PHP 7.4 has been working on preloading options, short closures, custom object serialization, FFI work that didn’t end up making it for PHP 7.3, the null coalescing assignment operator has been added, and various other changes. The PHP 7.4 alpha releases are supposed to kick off on 6 June while the betas will then fire up starting on 18 July followed by at least six release candidates beginning at the end of August. If all goes well, PHP 7.4.0 will make its debut around the end of November or early December. PHP-7.4 has been branched since January while PHP-8.0 development is on Git master for that next major PHP8 release with JIT functionality and other changes in the works.

      • AMD Radeon VII Linux Performance vs. NVIDIA Gaming On Ubuntu For Q2’2019

        It’s been three months now since the AMD Radeon VII 7nm “Vega 20″ graphics card was released and while we hopefully won’t be waiting much longer for Navi to make its debut, for the time being this is the latest and great AMD Radeon consumer graphics card — priced at around $700 USD. Here are some fresh benchmarks of the Radeon VII on Linux and compared to various high-end NVIDIA graphics cards while all testing happened from Ubuntu 19.04.

        Fortunately, the open-source Radeon VII Linux support is in fact in great shape. There was some confusion for some weeks and a lack of benchmarks recently since I had been unable to get my Vega 20 graphics card running reliably. Under different OpenGL/Vulkan workloads and even some desktop tasks, the graphics card would freeze and spewing from dmesg would most often be a load of VMC page faults and other errors stemming from AMDGPU. But after a lot of testing, ultimately it was figured out the graphics card became defective in some manner. The original card was a pre-launch Radeon VII review sample and was my lone Vega 20 GPU but has now been fortunately replaced by AMD. I received a new Radeon VII last week and since then has been under near constant load/testing. This new card has been working out well and I haven’t encountered any issues with this retail card, unlike the woes I experienced with the original VII a few weeks after launch. It was a bit surprising the original Radeon VII failed especially without having done any over-clocking to it (granted was pushed very hard for a few weeks with all of my benchmarking workloads), but whatever the case, this retail Radeon VII is working out fine on Ubuntu 19.04 and various kernel/Mesa upgrades.

  • Applications

    • 8 Best Free Linux Video Converters

      Given there are many different video formats available, a free video converter is an extremely useful piece of software. The best video converters make the conversion process simple, and support a wide number of different codecs and formats.

      Video conversion is a narrower term for transcoding. Transcoding is the process of the conversion of digital data (typically video and audio files) from one format to another. It involves extracting tracks from a digital media file, decoding the tracks, filtering, encoding, and then multiplexing the new tracks into a new container. Transcoding will reduce the quality of the tracks unless lossless formats are used.

      There are many reasons to transcode media files. Some popular examples include the ability to convert files so that they are supported on a target device, and at the same time removing commercials, and reducing the file size. While transcoding is a very CPU intensive task, modern processors with a high number of cores offer impressive conversion rates provided the transcoding software supports multi-core architectures.

    • Amp Up Your Linux Music Library With DeaDBeeF

      There are a ton of great music players for Linux, and most of them have a pretty strong following. What makes DeaDBeeF stand out? In a word, it’s customization. DeaDBeeF is as close to a DIY music player as you’re going to get without making the jump to the command line.

      DeaDBeeF lets you customize the entire layout of your music player, how your library is arranged, and which information is displayed when you play a song. Plus, it’s highly extensible, and there are plenty of excellent plugins that open up even more options for how you can customize and control your listening experience.

    • Drill: New Desktop File Search Utility That Uses Clever Crawling Instead Of Indexing

      Drill is a new file search utility that uses “clever crawling” instead of indexing, for Linux, Windows and macOS.

      The application can locate files and folders, but it does not search file contents. It’s designed for desktops, using a Gtk GUI by default, but there’s also a command line frontend available, albeit quite minimal right now (a Ncurses backend is on the todo list as well).

    • ICQ Messenger Available to Install via Snap in Ubuntu 18.04/Higher

      ICQ, the popular chat application, is available for Linux as an official Snap package.

    • KDSoap 1.8.0 released

      KDAB has released a new version of KDSoap. This is version 1.8.0 and comes more than one year since the last release (1.7.0).

      KDSoap is a tool for creating client applications for web services without the need for any further component such as a dedicated web server.

      KDSoap lets you interact with applications which have APIs that can be exported as SOAP objects. The web service then provides a machine-accessible interface to its functionality via HTTP. Find out more…

    • Petter Reinholdtsen: Nikita version 0.4 released – free software archive API server
    • Dockly – Manage Docker Containers From Terminal
    • Olivia: Cloud-Based Music Player With YouTube Support And Over 25,000 Online Radio Stations

      Olivia is a fairly new free, open source Qt5 cloud-based music player for Linux. It can play music from YouTube, comes with more than 25,000 Internet radio stations, it supports themes, has a mini player mode, it can save songs for offline playback, and much more.

      The cloud-based music player is available as alpha software for testing right now. Even so, it works quite well, though lacking some features which I’ll mention later on.

      Olivia is well integrated with YouTube, allowing users to search for songs and add them to the play queue, browse trending YouTube music with the ability to change the country, and more. To save bandwidth, Olivia only plays the audio of YouTube streams.

    • MariaDB 10.3.15 Release And What’s New

      The MariaDB Foundation is pleased to announce the availability of MariaDB 10.3.15, the latest stable release in the MariaDB 10.3 series.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • The latest Steam Client Beta fixes Rumble support on Linux with Steam Input

        Seems Valve are on a bit of a roll lately fixing up some long-standing issues in the Steam Client for Linux.

        They’ve been released quite a number of Beta client updates recently with Linux improvements, like the one last week which had a fix for a this two year old issue where you were unable to move games around if they had files bigger than 2GB.

        The latest Beta, released today fixes another long-standing issue with gamepad Rumble support. Valve said they “Added support for rumble pass-through for virtual controllers. This fixes missing rumble support for any controllers opted into Steam Input, and rumble emulation support for the Steam controller.”.

      • We have some keys for ‘Tank Maniacs’ for those willing to test and give feedback

        Tank Maniacs, a crazy local multiplayer game that’s all about blowing each other up is coming to Linux “soon” and we have keys for those willing to provide the developer with feedback.

        For those who haven’t seen it before, check out the trailer below first to see if you would actually be interested:

      • Create your AI, pick your robots and prepare for battle as Gladiabots has left Early Access

        Gladiabots makes me feel dumb, very dumb. It asks you to create various AI and assign them to robots, to face off against another team of robots in a battle arena.

        It’s a strategy game of sorts, while also being a logic puzzle programming game at its heart as well. It offers up a single-player campaign, which realistically is just a (quite good) extended tutorial to get you ready to compete against other real people. This is where it really gets interesting, as it offers online play but it’s of the asynchronous sort so you’re not playing at the same time, meaning it doesn’t actually need people online to play which makes it pretty sweet.

      • Total War: THREE KINGDOMS is out and it comes with same-day Linux support

        Total War: THREE KINGDOMS, possibly one of the biggest Total War games yet is officially out. Developed by Creative Assembly and published by SEGA, it was ported by Feral Interactive and they managed to get Linux support in right away.

      • Total War: Three Kingdoms Sees Same-Day Linux Release

        Feral Interactive has managed to deliver a same-day release of their Linux and macOS ports to coincide with today’s Windows release of Total War: Three Kingdoms.

        This turn-based real-time tactics video game was developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega. Today marks the Windows release of this latest Total War game and surprisingly Feral has managed a same-day Linux/macOS release.

      • GOG are revamping GOG Galaxy, to help you manage multiple launchers and still no Linux support

        It’s like a much fancier version of Steam’s own ability to add games installed from other sources, as Galaxy 2.0 will also support cross-launcher friends lists and chat making it sound pretty darn handy. They do also state you can “Connect more platforms and add new features with open-source integrations.”. Those hoping that is some kind of olive branch being extended for Linux will likely be disappointed though, going by their FAQ on the newer dedicated Galaxy site it sounds more like it’s simply for adding other services into the client itself for those GOG haven’t yet done.

        This would have been the perfect time to finally announce the ridiculously long-overdue Linux support for GOG Galaxy (especially with the Epic Store also not supporting Linux), sadly GOG are continuing to leave Linux out. In response to a user question on Twitter about Linux, the GOG team simply said “GOG GALAXY 2.0 will be available for Windows and Mac.”. While an honest answer, it’s also pretty blunt. No mention of it coming, just a whole lot of nothing.

      • Zork And The Z-Machine: Bringing The Mainframe To 8-bit Home Computers

        Computer games have been around about as long as computers have. And though it may be hard to believe, Zork, a text-based adventure game, was the Fortnite of its time. But Zork is more than that. For portability and size reasons, Zork itself is written in Zork Implementation Language (ZIL), makes heavy use of the brand-new concept of object-oriented programming, and runs on a virtual machine. All this back in 1979. They used every trick in the book to pack as much of the Underground Empire into computers that had only 32 kB of RAM. But more even more than a technological tour de force, Zork is an unmissable milestone in the history of computer gaming. But it didn’t spring up out of nowhere.

        [...]

        While home computers were still scarce, the concept of selling software to regular consumers was also new. This was the time when the Atari 2600 had just gone on sale, starting the second generation game consoles that were expandable to play more that one game through the use of plug-in cartridges. It was a new market, with many questions among MIT, Stanford and other students regarding the open hacker culture versus the world of commercial software. Some, like Richard Stallman, not changing their stance on this much since their student days at MIT.

        As the Zork developers were graduating, they realized that with the success of Zork on their hands, they had this one chance to commercialize it, taking their lives and careers into an entirely different direction from their original goals. With little standing in their way, Infocom was founded on June 22nd, 1979.

      • Gaming Platform War Update: Epic Games Store Suspends Accounts…For Buying Too Many Games

        As we’ve talked about before, it seems an era of gaming platform wars is upon us. While Valve’s Steam platform mostly only had to contend with less-used storefronts like GOG and Origin, a recent front was opened up by the Epic Games Store, which has promised better cuts to publishers to get exclusive games and has attempted to wage a PR battle to make people mad at Steam. It’s all quite involved, with opinions varying across the internet as to who the good and bad guys in this story are.

      • Intel Iris Gallium3D Driver Gets On-Disk Shader Cache Support

        In helping to speed-up game load times when switching to the new Intel “Iris” Gallium3D OpenGL Linux driver and smooth out frame-rates for games sporadically loading shaders, Mesa 19.2-devel has added on-disk shader cache support for the driver.

        Intel’s existing “i965″ classic Mesa driver has long supported an on-disk shader cache along with the other Mesa OpenGL drivers while now the Gallium3D shader cache functionality has been extended for the new Iris driver.

      • 10 Unknown Google Search Games for You

        Google Search by default has games hidden in it, which is a fact, not many Google users are aware of. Google has compiled some really authentic and entertaining games over a period of time, that can be played in Google.com page itself without having to visit any other Web page.

        Most of these games were made to appear as Google Doodle, in relation with certain anniversaries that have been a remarkable day in history. While some of these games are not available easily because Google Doodle keeps changing.

        However, a few of them continue to be played even today. All you need is to search the game by its name in Google and hit “search” and Voila! The games will appear right in front of your eyes and you can play them right then and there.

        Read on to know about the playable games still available, though hidden within the Google Search.

      • Valve have released a new dedicated mobile Steam Chat application

        Now that Valve have upgraded the chat and friends system in the desktop Steam client, they’ve also rolled out a brand new dedication mobile application to do the same.

        This isn’t the normal Steam mobile application, instead they’ve oddly decided to split them in two. Touching on that, they said the original Steam mobile application is going to get some upgrades “focused on account security” including better Steam Guard options, like QR codes and a one-touch login.

      • Sci-fi first-person shooter ‘Interstellar Marines’ continues to live on, with a big update out now

        Interstellar Marines, a once promising sci-fi first-person shooter that slowly died is slowly making a comeback. Update 28 was released just recently, giving it an overhaul in a few places.

      • Valve working on a stand-alone version of the popular Dota Auto Chess

        Dota Auto Chess, a very popular custom game mode for Dota 2 is being turned into a stand-alone game by Valve.

        The Dota 2 arcade is full of interesting games but nothing has really come close to Dota Auto Chess, looking at it right now it has over 125K people playing just this one game mode. It also has over 8 million people subscribed to it, to give you another idea of just how popular it is. Based on player-count, if it manages to keep it for the stand-alone version it would put it into the top-5 games on Steam.

      • Blacksite returns alongside Sirocco for the latest Danger Zone update in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

        Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s newer Battle Royale mode, Danger Zone, continues to be tweaked and the original map has made a return.

        This should help spice things up a bit, as Blacksite is quite a good map but I’ve also immensely enjoyed playing on the newer and more open Sirocco map. Thankfully, Valve have now enabled Danger Zone for both maps together as a “time-based map rotation” as you can see below:

      • DXVK 1.2.1 really does improve Overwatch quite a lot on Linux with NVIDIA

        In the latest release of DXVK 1.2.1 that was released last week, it included a note about improved GPU utilization. They certainly weren’t kidding, with Overwatch now performing even better on Linux with Wine.

        When I previously wrote about it, I said I was in shock at how well you could play Overwatch on Linux thanks to Wine, DXVK and a little help from Lutris. I included a video in the previous article to show it off, which showed the framerate hardly going above 100FPS and often dipped down to around 60FPS. Checking back, previous versions of DXVK didn’t let my NVIDIA 980ti GPU utilization go above 80%.

      • The absolutely insane and pretty awesome twin-stick shooter ‘BulletRage’ is now on Kickstarter

        BulletRage is a game I firmly think is worth supporting, as the developer has had Linux support in very early and it does seem like a pretty awesome twin-stick shooter.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Elisa 0.4.0 Release

        I am happy to announce the release of 0.4.0 version of the Elisa music player.

        The new features are explained in the following posts New features in Elisa, New Features in Elisa: part 2 and Elisa 0.4 Beta Release and More New Features.

        There have been a couple more changes not yet covered.

  • Distributions

    • Antergos Linux Project Is Dead — Here Are Some Alternatives To Try

      A group of developers started Antergos as a hobby project in 2012 and pushed the first release in July 2012 under the name Cinnarch. Later, it got its name Antergos and gained popularity as an Arch Linux-based distribution created for all the users.

      In a development that will surprise the Antergos enthusiasts, the developers of the operating system have announced their plans to end the project. In other words, the Antergos 19.4 ISO refresh was the last release and the developers don’t wish to continue the project any further.

    • Yet another Linux distribution shuts down, and the Open Source community should be worried

      More and more people are trying Linux-based operating systems these days, and with Windows 10 being so hated, that should not be a surprise. Sadly, while the Linux community should be thriving from Microsoft’s missteps with Windows, it feels like the opposite is happening. The Linux Mint development team is experiencing turmoil, for instance, while Scientific Linux has shut down entirely.

      Unfortunately, things are getting even more dire, as yet another Linux distribution has shut down. This time, the operating system is the Arch-based Antergos.

    • Antergos Linux Project Discontinued

      Antergos project has been announced about their project ends on yesterday (May 21, 2019).

      Antergos is beginner-friendly Arch Linux based distribution, which started seven years ago (2012-13) and quickly became an awesome Linux distribution.

      Beginners are don’t like Arch Linux since the installation steps are very difficult for them.

      Antergos took the challenge and made Arch Linux accessible to everyone by providing a simple and user friendly installation steps.

      The project has gained popularity in 2014 and became a popular distribution.

      As per their records, it was downloaded close to a million times (931,439 unique downloads).

    • New Releases

      • Kali Linux Ethical Hacking OS Now Supports More Than 50 Android Devices

        Powered by the Linux 4.19.28 kernel, Kali Linux 2019.2 is here to introduce a new release of the Kali Linux NetHunter toolkit, which lets you run Kali Linux on Android-based mobile devices. The Kali Linux NetHunter 2019.2 release adds support for 13 new devices.

        These include the Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, OnePlus 2, and Galaxy Tab S4 (both LTE and Wi-Fi models). With this, the Kali Linux NetHunter toolkit now support more than 50 devices powered by a wide-range of Android OS releases, from Android 4.4 KitKat to Android 9 Pie.

      • The Antergos Distro Is Ending, HP Linux Imaging and Printing Software Updated to Version 3.19.5, Kail Linux 2019.2 Is Out, Tails 3.14 Released and openSUSE 15.1 Leap Is Now Available

        Kali Linux announces its second release of the year, Kali Linux 2019.2. 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!” You can download it from here.

        Tails 3.14 has been released. The release fixes many security issues, so you are urged to update as soon as possible. Some changes include an update to kernel 4.19.37, enabling “all available mitigations for the MDS (Microarchitectural Data Sampling) attacks and disable SMT (simultaneous multithreading) on all vulnerable processors to fix the RIDL, Fallout and ZombieLoad security vulnerabilities” and updating the Tor Browser to 8.5, among others.

      • Kali Linux 2019.2 released with updated kernel and Kali Linux NetHunter

        Three months after the last major release, it’s time for the second Kali Linux release of the year. Kali Linux 2019.2 is here, and in addition to an updated kernel, there’s also an updated version of Kali Linux NetHunter, complete with support for more Android devices.

        Offensive Security says that the Debian-based Kali Linux 2019.2 is primarily about tweaks and bug fixes, but there are still a number of updated tools included.

      • Kali Linux 2019.2 Release And What’s New

        The Kali Linux team is announced the availability of Kali Linux 2019.2. It’s second release of 2019, which is available for immediate download.

        This new release shipped with kernel 4.19.28, fixes numerous bugs, includes many updated packages, and more.

      • Kali Linux 2019.2 Released With NetHunter 2019.2 And New Kernel

        Offensive Security, the makers of Kali Linux, have shipped their second release in 2019. The new Kali Linux 2019.2 distribution is now available for ethical hackers and security researchers. This release brings along many bug fixes and updated packages that are surely worth upgrading.

        Before you move ahead to explore the new changes in Kali Linux 2019.2, let me tell you about our new list of best Kali tools for hacking and pen-testing. These tools are highly recommended if you are willing to kickstart a journey in the field of ethical hacking.

        Coming back to the latest Kali 2019.2. Offensive Security adopted a rolling release model a few years back and it continuously keeps updating the existing Kali installations. But what if a new user needs to perform a clean installation? To address this issue, the developers keep releasing fresh Kali builds from time to time and ensure that new downloads contain bug fixes, new Linux kernel, and other updates.

      • OSMC’s May update is here

        Last month, we released Kodi v18 for OSMC devices. Since then, we’ve been working on a number of improvements and bug fixes to keep things running smoothly.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Leap 15.1 Linux-based operating system available for download

        openSUSE Leap fans, prepare to be excited — the latest version of your favorite Linux distribution is here! Yes, openSUSE Leap 15.1 can now be downloaded.

        The YaST configuration tool is one of the most significant aspects of openSUSE, and with Leap 15.1, it is getting several improvements. Firewalld gets a new user interface, which will be appreciated by many users, I’m sure. When you need to divvy up the storage space on your hard drive or solid state drive, you will be treated to an enhanced Partitioner tool. YaST will even look prettier on HiDPI screens with this update. There are plenty of non-YaST changes in openSUSE Leap 15.1, of course.

      • openSUSE Community Releases Leap 15.1 Version

        Today’s release of the openSUSE Leap 15.1 brings professional users, entrepreneurs and Independent Software Vendors updated support for modern hardware.

        The release of Leap 15.1 improves YaST functionality and the installer.

        “Continuity and stability are what we are providing users with Leap 15.1,” said Haris Sehic, a member of the openSUSE community. “With Leap 15, we have introduced a huge number of new features and innovations in security, performance and tool/desktop area. Having in mind how stable, efficient and reliable Leap has become, with this release, we managed to keep the level of quality to the point that our private and Small Business users can, actually more than ever, profit from the enterprise background of an openSUSE Linux Distribution. Let’s continue to have a lot of fun!”

        Leap releases are scalable and both the desktop and server are equally important for professional’s workloads, which is reflected in the installation menu as well as the amount of packages Leap offers and hardware it supports. Leap is well suited and prepared for usage as a Virtual Machine (VM) or container guest, allowing professional users to efficiently run network services no matter whether it’s a single server or a data center.

      • openSUSE Leap 15.1 Officially Released, Based on SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1
      • OpenSUSE Leap 15.1 Released – Based Off SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1
      • The OpenStack User Survey is now open

        The 2019 OpenStack User Survey is now open and waiting for your input. Whether you’re a user of OpenStack, or an operator utilising it to power your offerings, the OpenStack Foundation (and the rest of the community) want to hear about your usage.

        2018 saw the 11th OpenStack User Survey unveiled at the Berlin OpenStack Summit, giving some fantastic insight into how and where people are using OpenStack across 63 different countries. Usage in Asia surged dramatically in 2018, with 48% of respondents based in that continent, with Europe 2nd at 26% and North America 3rd with 20% of respondents.

    • Fedora

      • Contributors are Empowered When They Know the Process

        There is a saying in the legal profession that you should never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to. Despite how this sounds, it is actually a rule most people follow in life. This is the source of that feeling you get when you’re too scared to raise your hand and ask a question. In Open Source we need to make sure that contributors feel like they already “know” the answers, so they will feel confident in making the request.

        As a university lecturer, I always encouraged my students to first think about what they thought the answer was and then ask the question. In some cases, I encouraged them to actually write down what they thought the answer was. In this way, they could judge both their skills and their ability to grow based on what the answer turned out to be. It created an additional feedback loop.

      • Alisha and Shraddha: Positive feedback loops in Fedora

        This post is the second introduction to the Fedora Summer Coding interns Class of Summer 2019. In this interview, we’ll meet Alisha Mohanty and Shraddha Agrawal, who are both working on Fedora Happiness Packets to promote positive feedback loops in the Fedora community.

      • Fedora 30 Workstation review – Smarter, faster and buggier

        Fedora 30 is definitely one of the more interesting releases of this family in a long-time. It brings significant changes, including solid improvements in the desktop performance and responsiveness. Over the years, Fedora went from no proprietary stuff whatsoever to slowly acknowledging the modern needs of computing, so now it gives you MP3 codecs and you can install graphics drivers and such. Reasonable looks, plus good functionality across the board.

        However, there were tons of issues, too. Printing to Samba, video screenshot bug, installer cropped-image slides, package management complications, mouse cursor lag, oopses, average battery life, and inadequate usability out of the box. You need to change the defaults to have a desktop that can be used in a quick, efficient way without remembering a dozen nerdy keyboard shortcuts. All in all, I like the freshness. In general, it would seem the Linux desktop is seeing a cautious revival, and Fedora’s definitely a happy player. But there are too many rough edges. Well, we got performance tweaks after so many years, and codecs, we might get window buttons and desktop icons one day back, too. Something like 6/10, and definitely worth exploring.

        I am happy enough to do two more tests. I will run an in-vivo upgrade on the F29 instance on this same box, and then also test the distro on an old Nvidia-powered laptop, which will showcase both the support for proprietary graphics (didn’t work the last time) and performance improvements, if they scale for old hardware, too. That’s all for now.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 3.14 Is Out And What’s New Features

          Tails 3.14 is out today (2019-05-21), this release fixes many security vulnerabilities.

          Tails team is advising users to upgrade the latest version as soon as possible.

          Tails or The Amnesic Incognito Live System is a security-focused Debian-based Linux distribution designed to be used from a USB stick or a DVD independently of the computer’s original operating system.

          All its incoming and outgoing connections are forced to go through Tor. It aims to provide anonymous access (users privacy).

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 17.x Reached End Of Life (EOL)

              We came to know from the Linux Mint monthly (April-2019) newsletter, the Linux Mint team reported that Linux Mint 17.x has reached the end of its supported life.

              After 5 good years of service, Linux Mint 17.x (i.e. 17, 17.1, 17.2 and 17.3) reached “End Of Life”.

              Although the repositories will continue to work they will no longer receive security updates.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • You’re Invited: Celebrating Powering Potential.

    OSI Affiliate Member Powering Potential Inc. (PPI) is currently preparing for their annual fundraising event scheduled for Wednesday, June 5, 2019, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at NoMad Studio, located at 29 W. 39th Street, 10th Floor, in New York City.

    This year PPI celebrates their 10 Year Partnership with the Segal Family Foundation. The close, long-time relationship has been a key factor in the amazing progress PPI has made in bringing their “Educating through Technology” programs to the rural students in Tanzania.

    Proceeds from this year’s event will go towards the Sazira Secondary School SPARC+ Lab Upgrade impacting 800+ students in rural Tanzania: an ambitious project needing $23,500. While this is significant, The Collegiate Churches of New York recently awarded Powering Potential a generous grant of $13,000 towards this goal.

    PPI has an incredible event planned for their guests. Back by popular demand, Tanzanian dancers performing traditional dance led by Justa Lujwangana, CEO and founder of Curious on Tanzania will provide entertainment for the evening. A buffet will also feature authentic Tanzanian dishes based on menus from Taste of Tanzania by Miriam Malaquais. The author has donated twenty of her books for sale at the event with proceeds going to PPI.

  • Open Source Hong Kong Becomes an OSI Affiliate Member

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI), the founding organization of the open source software movement, is excited to announce the Affiliate Membership of the Open Source Hong Kong (OSHK). For ten years OSHK has worked across Asia to support open source communities, foster open source development, and increase the use of open source software, their recent OSI Membership highlights both organizations’ desires to collaborate across communities.

    “OSHK mission is promoting Open Source Software projects in Hong Kong and foster its development by connecting to the global open source community. In joining OSI as an Affiliate Member, OSHK connects with OSI, and other open source organizations, to support the promotion of open source,’ said Sammy Fung, President of OSHK. “Open Source Software is not just about viewing the source code, it also guarantees the right to use the software, and modify it for our own use. By working together, I believe both organizations will be able to extend our reach and missions.”

    “We are excited to welcome OSHK as an OSI Affiliate Member,” said Molly de Blanc, OSI President. “The open source community truly is global, and their dedication to that idea is what inspires us as an organization. Our work for the future of open source is driven by that global community, and having the voices of OSHK in our affiliate membership helps us meet our goal in promoting and protecting open source and communities. We look forward to supporting their efforts and collaborating to help spread the message of open source even further.”

  • Google and Binomial Partner to Open Source Basis Universal Texture Codec

    Google and Binomial have announced a partnership to open source the Basis Universal texture codec to improve the performance of transmitting images on the web and within desktop and mobile applications, while maintaining GPU efficiency. This release fills an important gap in the graphics compression ecosystem and complements earlier work in Draco geometry compression.

  • Events

    • Register Now for the 2019 Introductory Linux Clusters Institute Workshop

      Registration is now open for the 2019 Linux Clusters Institute (LCI) Introductory Workshop,which will be held August 19-23, 2019 at the Rutgers University Inn & Conference Center in New Brunswick, NJ. This workshop will cover the fundamentals of setting up and administering a high-performance computing (HPC) cluster and will be led by leading HPC experts.

    • Additional early bird slots available for LPC 2019

      The Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC) registration web site has been showing “sold out” recently because the cap on early bird registrations was reached. We are happy to report that we have reviewed the registration numbers for this year’s conference and were able to open more early bird registration slots. Beyond that, regular registration will open July 1st. Please note that speakers and microconference runners get free passes to LPC, as do some microconference presenters, so that may be another way to attend the conference. Time is running out for new refereed-track and microconference proposals, so visit the CFP page soon. Topics for accepted microconferences are welcome as well.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 67 Web Browser Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

        After a one-week delay due to a major issue with its add-ons mechanism, Open Source company Mozilla officially released the Firefox 67 cross-platform web browser today for Windows, Linux, Mac, and Android.
        Mozilla Firefox 67 comes with numerous performance improvements and new features to make your Firefox browsing experience better. To improve the overall performance, Mozilla did a few internal changes, such as to lower the priority of the “setTimeout” function during loading of web pages, delayed the component initialization until after Firefox’s start up, as well as to suspend unused tabs.

        A key feature of the Firefox 67 release, which most users will love, it’s a built-in cryptominer blocker, which blocks fingerprinters as well. You can find it in the Custom settings page of the Content Blocking preferences, so if you notice that your Firefox web browser eats too much RAM and CPU, try enabling these functions immediately and restart the web browser.

      • New Release: Tor Browser 8.5

        Tor Browser 8.5 is the first stable release for Android. Since we released the first alpha version in September, we’ve been hard at work making sure we can provide the protections users are already enjoying on desktop to the Android platform. Mobile browsing is increasing around the world, and in some parts, it is commonly the only way people access the internet. In these same areas, there is often heavy surveillance and censorship online, so we made it a priority to reach these users.

      • Mozilla Firefox 67 Is Now Available for All Supported Ubuntu Linux Releases

        The Firefox 67 web browser arrived on May 21st, 2019, and promises to be the fastest Firefox release to date thanks to the numerous internal performance improvements implemented by Mozilla. Firefox 67 also comes with a built-in crypto miner and fingerprinter blocker, and a much-improved Private Browsing mode.

        One of the coolest new features of the Firefox 67 web browser is the ability to finally run different builds of Firefox at the same time. As such, users can now install and run the Firefox stable, beta, and nightly versions all side by side, or install and use both the latest stable and the ESR (Extended Support Release) version simultaneously.

      • Tor Browser 8.5 Release With Important Security Updates

        Tor project has release Tor Browser 8.5 on May 21, 2019.

        It is now available from the Tor Browser download page and also from our distribution directory.

        The first stable Android version is also available from Google Play and should be available from F-Droid within the next day.

        This release features important security updates to Firefox.

        Tor Browser 8.5 is the first stable release for Android Since Tor released the first alpha version in September.

      • Andy Wingo: bigint shipping in firefox!

        I am delighted to share with folks the results of a project I have been helping out on for the last few months: implementation of “BigInt” in Firefox, which is finally shipping in Firefox 68 (beta).

      • Mozilla GFX: WebRender newsletter #45

        Hi there! I first published this newsletter episode on May 21st and hitting the publish button at the same time as Jessie who wrote an excellent announcement post about WebRender on the stable channel. We decided to unpublish the newsletter for a couple of days to avoid shadowing the other post.

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

      • Mozilla Localization (L10N): L10n report: May edition

        Firefox 68 has officially entered Beta. The deadline to ship localization updates into this version is June 25. It’s important to remember that 68 is going to be an ESR version too: if your localization is incomplete on Jun 26, or contains errors, it won’t be possible to fix them later on for ESR.

        A lot of content has landed in Firefox 68 towards the end of the cycle. In particular, make sure to test the new stub installer in the coming weeks, and the redesigned about:welcome experience. Detailed instructions are available in this thread on dev-l10n. You should also check out this post on how to localize the new “Join Firefox” message.

        Partially related to Firefox Desktop: Facebook Container is quickly approaching version 2.0, adding several informative panels to the initial bare UI.

      • Firefox 67 Released With Improved Performance

        Mozilla team has released Firefox 67 (May 21, 2019) today. In this article, we will show you what’s new in Firefox 67.

        Mozilla Firefox (known as Firefox) is a free and open-source web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation.

        Firefox is available for Windows, OS X, Linux and mobile for Android.

      • Emblematic Group and Mozilla Team Up to Showcase Next Generation of Storytelling on the Web

        Everything you share on the internet is a story. You read blog posts and watch videos that make you feel connected to people across the world. Virtual Reality has made these experiences even stronger, but it wasn’t available to most people as a storytelling tool, until now.

        This breakthrough in accessibility comes from VR pioneer and award winning journalist, Nonny de la Peña, who is founder & CEO of the immersive technology company Emblematic Group. Their newest initiative was to launch a browser based platform that allows anyone to tap into the immersive power of virtual reality, regardless of their technical background. That is exactly what they did with REACH. With support from like minded partners such as Mozilla and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, de la Peña launched the platform at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. REACH completely simplifies authorship and distribution of virtual reality experiences using a simple drag and drop interface which anyone can access from any device, including a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

  • LibreOffice

    • The Document Foundation releases LibreOffice 6.2.4

      The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2.4, the fourth bug and regression fixing release of the LibreOffice 6.2 family, targeted at tech-savvy individuals: early adopters, technology enthusiasts and power users.

      LibreOffice’s individual users are helped by a global community of volunteers: https://www.libreoffice.org/get-help/community-support/. On the website and the wiki there are guides, manuals, tutorials and HowTos. Donations help us to make all of these resources available.

      LibreOffice users are invited to join the community at https://www.libreoffice.org/community/get-involved/, to improve LibreOffice by contributing back in one of the following areas: development, documentation, infrastructure, localization, quality assurance, design or marketing.

    • LibreOffice 6.2.4 Open-Source Office Suite Released with More Than 100 Bug Fixes

      The Document Foundation announced today the general availability of the fourth maintenance update to the LibreOffice 6.2 open-source office suite series for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows.

      Coming about a month after the LibreOffice 6.2.3 release, the LibreOffice 6.2.4 update is here to squash even more of those pesky bugs reported by users lately, in an attempt to make the LibreOffice 6.2 office suite as stable as possible for enterprise deployments.

    • Annual Report 2018: New releases of LibreOffice

      Thanks to your generous donations, and contributions from our ecosystem of certified developers, we released two major releases of LibreOffice in 2018: 6.0 on January 31, and version 6.1 on August 8.

      In addition, 14 minor releases were also made available throughout the year, for the 5.4, 6.0 and 6.1 branches. Meanwhile, several Bug Hunting Sessions were held in preparation for the new major releases. These typically took place on a single day between set times, so that experienced developers and QA engineers could help new volunteers to file and triage bugs via the IRC channels and mailing lists. The Bug Hunting Sessions for LibreOffice 5.4 were held on April 27, May 28 and July 3 – while those for LibreOffice 6.2 took place on October 22, November 19 and December 21.

    • The Document Foundation welcomes Adfinis SyGroup to the project’s Advisory Board

      The Document Foundation (TDF) announced today that Adfinis SyGroup – a Swiss FOSS company headquarted in Bern, with offices in Basel, Zurich and Crissier (Vaud) – has joined the project’s Advisory Board.

      Adfinis SyGroup is using LibreOffice for office productivity, in addition to providing professional consultancy to customers with SLA contracts to support migrations from proprietary software to LibreOffice. The company has helped to organize the LibreOffice Conference in 2014, when the event was hosted by the Bern University, is contributing patches to the source code, and is also hosting various TDF servers and buildbots on their infrastructure.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • parallel @ Savannah: GNU Parallel 20190522 (‘Akihito’) released

      GNU Parallel 20190522 (‘Akihito’) has been released. It is available for download at: http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/parallel/
      GNU Parallel is 10 years old in a year on 2020-04-22. You are here by invited to a reception on Friday 2020-04-17.
      See https://www.gnu.org/software/parallel/10-years-anniversary.html

  • Programming/Development

    • Team OpenCensus or OpenTracing? It’ll be neither and both now: Hello, OpenTelemetry

      Something odd happened at KubeCon 2019. Rather than snipe at each other from the safety of Twitter, two very similar open-source projects opted to pool their ideas into one: OpenTelemetry.

      The project is geared towards solving the problem of working out just what the heck is happening in today’s microservices or container-based apps. Logging without incurring a chunky overhead both in terms of generating useful telemetry and actually collating the output.

      Distributed tracing is a bit more than fancy logging, as one commentator put it. Think more a transaction log over all the containers, services and components used in an application.

      Two projects emerged to deal with the challenge – OpenCensus from Google and OpenTracing, co-created by Ben Sigelman of Lightstep.

    • PHP 7.4 as Software Collection.

      Version 7.4.0-alpha1 will be soon released. It’s now enter the stabilization phase for the developers, and the test phase for the users.

      RPM of this upcoming version of PHP 7.4, are available in remi repository for Fedora 29, 30 and Enterprise Linux 7, 8 (RHEL, CentOS, …) in a fresh new Software Collection (php74) allowing its installation beside the system version.

      As I strongly believe in SCL potential to provide a simple way to allow installation of various versions simultaneously, and as I think it is useful to offer this feature to allow developers to test their applications, to allow sysadmin to prepare a migration or simply to use this version for some specific application, I decide to create this new SCL.

    • HEIC / HEIF images support

      The HEIF image format (High Efficiency Image File Format) is now widely used, especially since iOS 11, so it make sense to be able to process these images.

    • EuroPython 2019: First batch of accepted sessions
    • Hello CodeGrades!

      This is a blog about CodeGrades, an experiment to help folks learn about programming (initially in Python). We’ll use it to celebrate the successes, learn from the failures and reflect upon the feedback of participants. We’ll also share project news here too.

    • Setting Up GitLab CI for a Python Application

      This blog post describes how to configure a Continuous Integration (CI) process on GitLab for a python application.

    • How OpenTracing & OpenCensus Merger Helps Users Like GitLab

      In this episode of Let’s Talk, Andrew Newdigate – Staff Site Reliability Engineer at GitLab talks about OpenTracing, OpenCensus, and the newly announced OpenTelemetry project.

    • This Week In Rust: This Week in Rust 287
    • Check if String Contains Substring
    • Kushal Das: Game of guessing colors using CircuitPython
    • Intel Icelake Brings New Top-Down Performance Counters

      Back to the Sandy Bridge days there have been “Top-Down” metrics for exposing CPU pipeline statistics around bottlenecks in the processor front-end, back-end, bad speculation, or retiring. Those metrics have been done using generic counters but with Icelake and Intel CPUs moving forward, there are in-hardware fixed performance counters for these metrics.

    • Intel Open-Source 19.19.12968 Compute Runtime Released

      For those making use of Intel’s OpenCL “NEO” Compute Runtime, a new tagged release is now available.

      The Intel 19.19.12968 Compute Runtime is this latest release consisting of the latest code around their OpenCL LLVM/Clang components with the graphics compiler, GMM Library, and related bits. With today’s release, they pulled in the Intel Graphics Compiler 1.0.4 update.

    • Running Python in the Browser

      Running Python in the web browser has been getting a lot of attention lately. Shaun Taylor-Morgan knows what he’s talking about here – he works for Anvil, a full-featured application platform for writing full-stack web apps with nothing but Python. So I invited him to give us an overview and comparison of the open-source solutions for running Python code in your web browser.

    • Python Logging: A Stroll Through the Source Code

      The Python logging package is a a lightweight but extensible package for keeping better track of what your own code does. Using it gives you much more flexibility than just littering your code with superfluous print() calls.

      However, Python’s logging package can be complicated in certain spots. Handlers, loggers, levels, namespaces, filters: it’s not easy to keep track of all of these pieces and how they interact.

      One way to tie up the loose ends in your understanding of logging is to peek under the hood to its CPython source code. The Python code behind logging is concise and modular, and reading through it can help you get that aha moment.

      This article is meant to complement the logging HOWTO document as well as Logging in Python, which is a walkthrough on how to use the package.

    • Enhance your AI superpowers with Geospatial Visualization
    • Kushal’s Colourful Adafruit Adventures

      Friend of Mu, community hero, Tor core team member, Python core developer and programmer extraordinaire Kushal Das, has blogged about the fun he’s been having with Adafruit’s Circuit Playground Express board, CircuitPython and Mu.

    • Kyma – extend and build on Kubernetes with ease

      According to this recently completed CNCF Survey, the adoption rate of Cloud Native technologies in production is growing rapidly. Kubernetes is at the heart of this technological revolution. Naturally, the growth of cloud native technologies has been accompanied by the growth of the ecosystem that surrounds it. Of course, the complexity of cloud native technologies have increased as well. Just google for the phrase “Kubernetes is hard”, and you’ll get plenty of articles that explain this complexity problem. The best thing about the CNCF community is that problems like this can be solved by smart people building new tools to enable Kubernetes users: Projects like Knative and its Build resource extension, for example, serve to reduce complexity across a range of scenarios. Even though increasing complexity might seem like the most important issue to tackle, it is not the only challenge you face when transitioning to Cloud Native.

    • A panel with the new Python steering council [Ed: Microsoft bought PyCon and and now it's stuffing/stacking Python panels to push proprietary software with back doors (or its 'free bait')]

      Brett Cannon is a development manager for the Python extension to Visual Studio Code at Microsoft.

      [...]

      [I would like to thank LWN's travel sponsor, the Linux Foundation, for travel assistance to Cleveland for PyCon.]

    • Testing a Go-based S2I builder image
    • EuroPython 2019: Monday and Tuesday activities for main conference attendees

      Although the main conference starts on Wednesday, July 10th, there’s already so much to do for attendees with the main conference ticket on Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th.

    • Test and Code: 75: Modern Testing Principles – Alan Page
    • Shaily and Zubin: Building CI pipelines and helping testers

      This post is the third introduction to the Fedora Summer Coding interns Class of Summer 2019. In this interview, we’ll meet Shaily Sangwan and Zubin Choudhary, who are both working on projects to improve quality assurance processes in the Fedora community.

Leftovers

  • Dear UNB: please leave my email alone.

    Apparently motivated by recent phishing attacks against @unb.ca addresses, UNB’s Integrated Technology Services unit (ITS) recently started adding banners to the body of email messages an. Despite (cough) several requests, they have been unable and/or unwilling to let people opt out of this. Recently ITS has reduced the size of banner; this does not change the substance of what is discussed here. In this blog post I’ll try to document some of the reasons this reduces the utility of my UNB email account.

    [...]

    I don’t browse the web without an ad-blocker and I don’t watch TV with advertising in it. Apparently the main source of advertising in my life is a service provided by my employer. Some readers will probably dispute my description of a warning label inserted by an email provider as “advertising”. Note that is information inserted by a third party to promote their own (well intentioned) agenda, and inserted in an intentionally attention grabbing way. Advertisements from charities are still advertisements. Preventing phishing attacks is important, but so are an almost countless number of priorities of other units of the University. For better or worse those units are not so far able to insert messages into my email. As a thought experiment, imagine inserting a banner into every PDF file stored on UNB servers reminding people of the fiscal year end.

    [...]

    Unlike many people, I don’t generally read my email on a phone. This means that I don’t rely on the previews that are apparently disrupted by the presence of a warning banner. On the other hand I do send and receive OpenPGP signed and encrypted messages. The effects of the banner on both signed and encrypted messages is similar, so I’ll stick to discussing signed messages here. There are two main ways of signing a message. The older method, still unfortunately required for some situations is called “inline PGP”. The signed region is re-encoded, which causes gpg to issue a warning about a buggy MTA, namely gpg: quoted printable character in armor – probably a buggy MTA has been used. This is not exactly confidence inspiring. The more robust and modern standard is PGP/MIME. Here the insertion of a banner does not provoke warnings from the cryptography software, but it does make it much harder to read the message (before and after screenshots are given below). Perhaps more importantly it changes the message from one which is entirely signed or encrypted, to one which is partially signed or encrypted. Such messages were instrumental in the EFAIL exploit and will probably soon be rejected by modern email clients.

  • Science

    • Say Goodbye to the Physical Kilogram (and Perhaps much More)

      Once upon a time we lived in a society that was not only completely analog but infinitely simpler. A time when it seemed the physical world could be understood and described, perhaps even tamed, purely through the application of rational thought. Contemporaries dubbed that era the Age of Enlightenment and looked forward to the wonders that this brave new world would bring. This week, one of the last icons of that heady time was dethroned and retired to a museum in Paris.

      I am speaking, of course, about the kilogram, the last of the seven International System of Units measures to be represented by a physical object rather than an “invariant constant of nature.” But where did it come from? And why, after two hundred twenty years, has it been replaced?

      The story begins with the same school of humanists that provided the philosophic justification for the French revolution which began honorably before descending into a campaign of terror. When they decided to rationalize the multiple systems of weights and measures, the results were both more benign and long-lasting, perhaps because they took their inspiration from the grand canvas of the physical world around them. The metre became the fundamental unit of length and was fixed at one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole. Weight, in turn, would henceforth be calculated in reference to the kilogram, defined as the mass of one decimetre of pure water at sea level at a set temperature and barometric pressure.

    • Scientists find new periodic water cycle on Mars

      Scientists have discovered a new type of water cycle on Mars, which is a bit surprising given the generally severe lack of water on the planet. According to a new study, water vapor rises from the lower atmosphere to Mars’ upper atmosphere, and some of it even escapes into space, but this can only happen under very limited conditions. This finding may also help explain how Mars lost most of its water billions of years ago.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Abortion fight is about white patriarchy clinging to power. It’s time for decent men to speak up

      If you weren’t paying close attention, the prairie fire of strict anti-abortion laws jumping like flaming embers from red state to red state — punctuated by Alabama’s clearly unconstitutional (for now, anyway) straight-up ban that imposes a straight-outta-Gilead maximum sentence of 99 years on doctors performing the procedure — seemed to come out of nowhere.

      But inside the bubbling core of the reactionary political movement of extremists known, politely, as Trumpism, they get it. They feel it in their bones — that finally having a potty-mouthed president who “talks the way we talk” about immigrants, journalists and feminists and who hears their chants of “Build the wall!” and “Lock her up!” (even if her left the stage 3 years ago) and now the new chastity-belt politics are all moving them toward the same place. A restoration of the way things ought to be. Which to them is the way things used to be.

    • Starbucks Stores Exposed NYC Customers to Dangerous Pesticides for 3 Years, Lawsuit Claims

      The first claims that the coffee chain exposed customers over the last three years to Dichlorvos, or DDVP, a toxic ingredient in Hot Shot No-Pest Strips used against recommendations in Manhattan stores. In the second, a former employee and two pest control contractors say they were retaliated against for raising concerns about the use of the strips, NBC News reported.

    • Starbucks accused of exposing New York City customers to toxic pesticide

      Two lawsuits filed against Starbucks claim that several New York City stores exposed customers to a poisonous — and potentially deadly — pesticide toxin, and then fired a store manager who complained about them.

      In one class action suit, filed on Tuesday in state court in Manhattan, 10 Starbucks customers claim that they were “exposed to the toxic chemical” Dichlorvos, or DDVP, after making purchases in multiple city stores over the last three years.

      DDVP is an ingredient that is emitted into the air by a pesticide called Hot Shot No-Pest Strips, which are produced by Spectrum Brand Holdings.

    • House Democrats Hold Historic Second Hearing on Medicare for All

      After Democrats held the first-ever congressional hearing on Medicare for All last month, the House Budget Committee on Wednesday morning invited federal officials to testify at an historic second hearing on the costs replacing the nation’s current for-profit system with one that guarantees healthcare as a right for all Americans.

    • ‘Absolutely Nothing to Offer’: Beto’s Answer on Medicare For All at CNN Town Hall Angers Progressives

      Democratic presidential primary candidate Beto O’Rourke went on CNN for a town hall Tuesday evening in an attempt to breathe some life into his struggling campaign, but all he did was earn the ire of progressives after delivering a less than ambitious answer to a question on Medicare for All.

      O’Rourke declined to endorse the popular policy by host Dana Bash as a follow up to a question from the audience on drug prices. Bash asked the former Texas congressman why he supports the Medicare for America plan put forth by Democratic Reps. Rose DeLauro (Conn.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) instead of Medicare for All.

      “They don’t have time for us to get to the perfect solution,” O’Rourke said, referring to audience member Diane Kolmer, whose struggles with the disease multliple sclerosis prompted her to ask about healthcare, and a man O’Rourke claimed to have met named “Joey.”

      “If we were to start from scratch, maybe we would start with a single payer,” added O’Rourke, “but we’ve got to work with the system that we have here today.”

    • As Republicans Target Roe, New Poll Shows Majority of Americans Don’t Want Landmark Ruling Overturned

      As Republican politicians nationwide continue to mount a challenge to Roe v. Wade with a wave of anti-choice state laws, a new poll shows the majority of Americans don’t want the landmark Supreme Court ruling, which affirmed the constitutionally protected right to have an abortion, overturned.

      The CBS News poll, published late Monday, found that 67 percent of all respondents want the high court—if it reconsiders Roe—to “keep it as is.” By contrast, only 28 percent said they want the court to “overturn it.”

    • Abortion Laws in Saudi Arabia More Forgiving Than in Alabama: Report

      That’s according to a new study by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which compared new laws in the U.S. to restrictions in Muslim-majority countries in southwest Asia and North Africa. All have more lenient laws around abortion than the Alabama law.

      Alabama’s law, which was passed through the legislature last week and signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, bans abortions in the state at every point in pregnancy and carries sentences of up to 99 years for doctors that perform the medical procedure. The bill followed similarly restrictive laws in Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and Georgia, though none of the other states went as far as the Alabama legislation.

      By contrast, there are a number of abortion exceptions in the countries Haaretz looked at, and, in the cases of Turkey and Tunisia, legal through the first trimester.

      Different definitions of “risk” appear to be in play in the countries as well. In Iran, for example, “some contemporary religious rulings support abortion in cases of rape, fetal impairment, or where there is risk to woman’s life and health.” Both Iran and Iraq also allow abortion in the case of rape and incest; in Saudi Arabia, the procedure is also allowed for women “to protect her physical and mental health.”

    • Trump’s So-Called “Conscience Rule” Would Allow Dangerous Discrimination Against Marginalized Patients, State AGs Say

      Denouncing a Trump administration push to protect so-called “conscience rights in healthcare” as an attack on reproductive rights and marginalized patients, two dozen states and cities filed a complaint against the Health and Human Services Department and demanded that the rule be lifted.

      New York Attorney General Letitia James led states including Massachusetts, Oregon, Virginia, and cities like Chicago in filing the lawsuit Tuesday, two months before the rule is set to go into effect.

    • America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors

      By 2035, seniors are projected to outnumber children in the U.S. population.

      Maybe then we’ll look back and credit Washington state activists for being on the forefront of tackling America’s elder care crisis. On May 13, the state became the first in the nation to adopt a social insurance program for long-term care benefits.

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

      Nationally, our long-term care financing system is broken. Medicare doesn’t currently cover home care or nursing facility care, while Medicaid coverage varies widely by state. To qualify, you have to meet poverty criteria, which requires people to spend down nearly all of their savings before getting coverage.

    • Challenging Orthodoxies: Alabama’s Anti-Abortion Law

      It seems like a grand ploy of massive distraction. On the surface, the move by Alabama to place the most onerous restrictions on the granting of an abortion has become a lighting-rod of conviction for Democrat agitators. And not just them.

      The fear, and one with suggestive implication, is that various legislatures are paving the way to push Roe v Wade into the domain of a Supreme Court so conservative it is being touted as reactionary. Colorado lawmakers, earlier this year, made a similar attempt to pass a bill banning elective abortions every bit as nasty as the Alabama version. The feeling is that the 1973 decision will be terminated in the name of foetus worship taking way the injunction against states from interfering in a woman’s right to an abortion within the first trimester.

      Roe was never, in truth, such a radical innovation in the field of social reform. It, for one, heavily circumscribes the way choice operates for a woman in terms of her relationship with the foetus. It’s celebration of a woman’s autonomy leaves the designation of how it is used, not in the hands of the carrier, but the Supreme Court.

      What certain stone throwing conservatives have repeatedly disliked about it is that the decision was reformist at all. “Roe,” tut tuts Rich Lowry of the National Review, “is judicially wrought social legislation pretending to the status of constitutional law.” It was a product of such judicial activism that produced the Miranda and Griswold cases, “as much a highhanded attempt to impose a settlement on a hotly contested political question as the abhorrent Dred Scott decision denying the rights of blacks.”

      Lowry’s swipe belies the broader problem facing anti-abortion advocates, many of whom simply think that the legislators in that good red state have lost the plot. The Alabama move is being seen on the part of some on the right as too extreme, painting advocates who favour limiting abortion into a narrow, extreme corner. In the words of conservative pundit Jonathan V. Last, having such a law was the very counter-reproductive thing the movement feared, “the most damaging development to the pro-life movement in decades.”

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Illumos-Powered OmniOS Gets Updated Against MDS / ZombieLoad Vulnerabilities

      While it was just earlier this month that the OpenSolaris/Illumos-based OmniOS saw a big LTS release, it’s already been succeeded by a new release given the recent Intel MDS / Zombieload CPU vulnerabilities coming to light.

      There are new spins of OmniOS for all supported releases. These new OmniOS Community Edition releases mitigate against the Multiarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) vulnerabilities and also bundle in the updated Intel CPU microcode.

    • Hackers Hack A Forum For Hacked Accounts: Here’s How

      A group of hackers failed to deploy security mechanisms to secure the storage where they store hacked accounts and another hacker group hacked it.

      The story is indeed funny and real. Infamous forum named OGUSERS which is popular amongst hackers for obtaining “OG” Instagram, Twitter usernames, hacked accounts of Domino’s Pizza, Steam, PlayStation Network, and other online accounts was hacked by a hacker group and its data was published in another hacker forum.

    • Security Announcement: Disabling SMT by default on affected Intel processors

      This is an important announcement with an upcoming change in the next Core Update of IPFire.

      Because of the recent vulnerabilities in Intel processors, the IPFire team has decided, that – to keep systems as secure as possible – Simultaneous Multi-Processing (SMT) is automatically disabled if the processor is vulnerable to one of the attacks.

      SMT is also called Intel(R) Hyper-Threading Technology and simulates more virtual cores than the system has. This allows to perform faster processing when applications benefit from it. Unfortunately with networking, we benefit from that. Therefore the effect of disabling SMT will be a very signifiant performance impact of around 30% or more. Applications that will be affected in IPFire are the firewall throughput itself as well as other CPU and memory-bound tasks like the web proxy and the Intrusion Prevention System. On systems that are not vulnerable for this attack, SMT is being left enabled. If you still want to disable it, please do so in the BIOS of your firewall.

    • Report from the curl bounty program

      We announced our glorious return to the “bug bounty club” (projects that run bug bounties) a month ago, and with the curl 7.65.0 release today on May 22nd of 2019 we also ship fixes to security vulnerabilities that were reported within this bug bounty program.

    • OpenSUSE Adds Option To Installer For Toggling Performance-Hitting CPU Mitigations

      With the newly released openSUSE Leap 15.1 they have added an option to their installer for toggling the CPU mitigations around Spectre / Meltdown / Foreshadow / Zombieload to make it very convenient should you choose to retain maximum performance while foregoing the security measures. But it also allows disabling SMT/HT from the installer should you prefer maximum security.

      When installing openSUSE Leap 15.1 today, I was a bit surprised to see a “CPU mitigations” option that allows toggling the value similar to the mitigations= kernel command line option.

    • Equifax just became the first company to have its outlook downgraded for a cyber attack
    • Equifax just became the first company to have its outlook downgraded for a cyber attack

      Moody’s has just slashed its rating outlook on Equifax, the first time cybersecurity issues have been cited as the reason for a downgrade.

      Moody’s lowered Equifax’s outlook from stable to negative on Wednesday, as the credit monitoring company continues to suffer from the massive 2017 breach of consumer data.

      “We are treating this with more significance because it is the first time that cyber has been a named factor in an outlook change,” Joe Mielenhausen, a spokesperson for Moody’s, told CNBC. “This is the first time the fallout from a breach has moved the needle enough to contribute to the change.”

      Equifax could not immediately be reached for comment.

    • Kubernetes security: 4 strategic tips

      As with all things security-related, “fingers crossed!” isn’t exactly a confident posture. Kubernetes offers a lot of powerful security-oriented features, and the community has shown a strong commitment toward the security of the project. But it’s always best to be proactive, especially if you or your teams are still relatively new to containers and orchestration.

      The fundamentals of security hygiene still largely apply, as we noted in our recent article, Kubernetes security: 5 mistakes to avoid. There’s also some new learning to be done to ensure you’re proactively managing the risks inherent in any new system, especially once it’s running in production.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Has the New York Times declared War on Iran?

      The corporate media—and most memorably the US newspaper of record, the New York Times—thrust itself onto the PR frontlines by presenting as reality the unhinged claims of the George W Bush administration.

      A repeat performance

      Now, more than 16 years and an obscene quantity of Iraqi deaths later, it seems we may be witnessing a repeat performance of the same old media tricks, this time targeting Iran – although at least Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman has not yet decreed that the Iranians be made to “suck on this”.

      First off, of course, there’s the ongoing nuclear hysteria, which apparently can’t be put to rest no matter how many times we review the facts.

    • It’s New Hampshire’s Time to Repeal the Death Penalty

      The last state in New England with capital punishment is on the precipice of repeal.
      For over three decades in New Hampshire, there has been a rising call to repeal the death penalty. That call has, until recently, gone unanswered. In 2019 that could all change.

      Though the Granite State has come close to repeal in the past, too often we have missed the margin by just one or two key legislator’s votes, or were stifled by a gubernatorial veto, first by a Democratic governor, and later a Republican one. The state’s attempt at repeal last year fell just short, but since then, there had been an election. Going into this legislative session, the vote count was more promising than it had been in years.

      We entered the new year believing 2019 could, just maybe, be the year for repeal in New Hampshire. The night of the state elections, I was counting votes as the results came in. Some people count party seats or sit on the edge of their seats over a particular candidate. I was doing death penalty repeal math. Because of a recount in one senate district, the math was uncertain for a couple of weeks. When the race was finally called, the math added up to 16 – the magic number for overriding a gubernatorial veto in the State Senate. We were also hopeful about the vote count in the House, which has consistently shown stronger support for repeal than the Senate in past years. From the day House Bill 455 was introduced, there was hope in the air. Conversations in the hallways of the legislative building shifted from “if” to “when.” The word “veto” lost its pervasive vigor and air of absolutism, and was replaced by a new whisper, a new conversation, and finally a new call sign: “veto-proof.”

      New Hampshire, which is the last state in New England with the death penalty, is on the cusp of shaking off that unwanted distinction. It is not a credit to one party, but a recognition that in these partisan and divisive times, there is at least one issue that rises above party. Asking the government to take a life summons within us all our common humanity.

    • The Money in the Trump-Kushner Peace Plan

      This is obviously quite vague, but it might be helpful to readers to put this $68 billion figure in context. First, it is a bit more than half of the estimated fortune of Jeff Bezos.

      More importantly, if we take the total population of the four groups listed, it comes to roughly 120 million. This means that the sum that Trump and Kushner hope to raise to induce a commitment to their peace plan comes to $560 per person. This seems to be a one-time figure rather than any ongoing commitment of aid.

    • Mission Accomplished? Could US-Iran Conflict Tear Iraq Apart Again?

      The rising tensions between the Trump administration and Iran have the potential to roil the entire Middle East, and no country feels the heat more than Iraq, which has warm relations both with the US and Iran, as Egyptian journalist Islam Muhammad argues in a wideranging report.

      Iraqi nationalist and Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr made headlines earlier this week when he tweeted out that a US-Iran War would “finish off Iraq.” Al-Sadr, who stands for an Iraq independent of both American and Iranian influence, rejected the notion that Iraq should be dragged into the Trump-Iran confrontation.

    • Vicious Cycle: The Pentagon Creates Tech Giants and Then Buys their Services

      The US Department of Defense’s bloated budget, along with CIA venture capital, helped to create tech giants, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and PayPal. The government then contracts those companies to help its military and intelligence operations. In doing so, it makes the tech giants even bigger.

      In recent years, the traditional banking, energy and industrial Fortune 500 companies have been losing ground to tech giants like Apple and Facebook. But the technology on which they rely emerged from the taxpayer-funded research and development of bygone decades. The internet started as ARPANET, an invention of Honeywell-Raytheon working under a Department of Defense (DoD) contract. The same satellites that enable modern internet communications also enable US jets to bomb their enemies, as does the GPS that enables online retailers to deliver products with pinpoint accuracy. Apple’s touchscreen technology originated as a US Air Force tool. The same drones that record breath-taking video are modified versions of Reapers and Predators.

      Tax-funded DoD research is the backbone of the modern, hi-tech economy. But these technologies are dual-use. The companies that many of us take for granted–including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and PayPal–are connected indirectly and sometimes very directly to the US military-intelligence complex.

    • Albright & Powell to Speak at Major International Education Conference: What Were They Thinking?

      The last time I used this subtitle was when I first wrote about the morally noxious appointment of Bob Kerrey as chairman of the Fulbright University Vietnam board of trustees in 2016. I had the exact same gut reaction to this message, which appeared in my inbox earlier this year: NAFSA (Association of International Educators*) is pleased to announce that Dr. Madeleine K. Albright and General Colin L. Powell (retired) will be the Opening Plenary of the NAFSA 2019 Annual Conference & Expo in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, May 28.

      As one colleague opined, “They’re aiming to impress NAFSA attendees with Albright and Powell’s ‘star power’, lies and callousness notwithstanding. You can bet your bottom dollar that no questions from the audience that are not pre-screened will be taken.” Not surprisingly, NAFSA invited conference registrants to submit up to two questions in advance “for our distinguished guests.” Can you guess what types of questions will not survive the screening process? No doubt the “special conversation” that is the plenary will consist of softball questions lobbed by executive director and CEO, Esther Brimmer, and attendees who submitted theirs online.

    • A US War on Iran Would be Evil, Stupid, and Self-Damaging

      “If Iran wants to fight,” US president Donald Trump tweeted on May 19, “that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again.”

      The “threat” Trump appears to be responding to is a statement from Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that “[w]e are certain … there will not be a war since neither we want a war nor does anyone have the illusion that they can confront Iran in the region.”

      Some “threat,” huh? Let’s seek a little clarity as to just who’s threatening whom here:

      In 1953, US and British intelligence operatives orchestrated a coup d’etat, overthrowing Iran’s democratically elected government and promoting Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi from constitutional monarch to (increasingly absolutist) dictator.

      Twenty-six years later, the Iranian people rose up and toppled the Shah. Over the next few years, Islamists led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini defeated rival factions and consolidated their power over the country, replacing the monarchy with an “Islamic Republic” — more of a democracy than western propagandists acknowledge, with a representative parliament, but with extensive power residing in a Shiite “Supreme Leader” and associated clerical councils.

      The US government never forgave the Iranian people for overthrowing its puppet regime. For decades, US foreign policy toward Iran consisted entirely of demonization, sanctions, and calls for “regime change.” US atrocities of the period include the murder of 290 Iranians (including 66 children) aboard Iran Air flight 655, shot down by the USS Vincennes in 1988.

    • A US Foreign Policy in Three Simple Words: Do No Harm

      That’s putting it mildly. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Diamond writes, “Democracy faces a global crisis. We have seen 12 consecutive years of erosion in global levels of political rights and civil liberties, with many more countries declining than gaining each year, according to the nonprofit group Freedom House. Over the past decade, one in six democracies has failed. Today only a bare majority of the world’s larger states remain democracies.

      “Nor do the numbers capture the full extent of the danger. Behind the statistics is a steady, palpable corrosion of democratic institutions and norms in a range of countries. China, Russia and their admirers are making headway with a new global narrative, hailing strongman rule—not government by the people—as the way forward in difficult times.”

      When it comes to hastening this disastrous worldwide decay, Donald Trump, is, of course, an enabler supreme, patting on the back despots like Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, welcoming Hungary’s far right prime minister Viktor Orban to the White House (and calling him successful and “highly respected, respected all over Europe”), singing the praises of the Philippines’ Duterte and Brazil’s Bolsinaro, etc. And all the while yearning to yield that same kind of anti-democratic dictatorial power over his own United States.

      That’s why the president’s shambolic foreign policy can be both a curse and a sort of blessing. On the one hand, his inchoate fumbling and lack of coherent doctrine has us upending the planet and could at any moment walk us right off a cliff and down into major fresh hell. On the other, this same haplessness and uncertainty has kept some truly gruesome ideas from being implemented. Inertia often reigns because no one in this administration ever seems to know what the boss wants; his mind changes from moment to moment and he has the attention span of a toddler in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese.

    • Understanding NATO, Ending War

      On 4 April 2019, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, better known as NATO, marked the 70th anniversary of its existence with a conference attended by the foreign ministers of member nations in Washington DC. This will be complemented by a meeting of the heads of state of member nations in London next December.

      Coinciding with the anniversary event on 4 April, peace activists and concerned scholars in several countries conducted a variety of events to draw attention to, and further document, the many war crimes and other atrocities committed by NATO (sometimes by deploying its associate and crony terrorist armies – ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra – recruited and trained by the CIA and funded by Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries and the US directly or through one or other of its many agencies: see ‘NATO – No Need – NATO-EXIT: The Florence Declaration’), the threat that NATO poses to global peace and security as an appendage of the US military, and to consider ways that NATO might be terminated.

      These protests and related activities included several outlined in ‘No To NATO: Time To End Aggressive Militarism’ which also explains how NATO ‘provides a veneer of legality’ when ‘the US is unable to get the United Nations Security Council to approve military action’ and ‘Congress will not grant authority for US military action’ and despite the clearcut fact that NATO has no ‘international legal authority to go to war’, the grounds for which are clearly defined in the Charter of the United Nations and are limited to just two: authorization by the UN Security Council and a response in self-defense to a military attack.

      The most significant gathering of concerned scholars was undoubtedly the ‘Exit NATO!’ conference in Florence, Italy, which culminated in the Florence Declaration calling for an end to NATO. See ‘The Florence Declaration: An International Front Calling for NATO-Exit’.

    • How the OPCW Leak Makes Trump a War Criminal

      On May 13th, Tim Hayward of the Working Group on Syria made public on his website an utterly damning document that had been suspiciously excluded from the final investigative report by the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) regarding the U.S.-and-allied allegation that on 7 April 2018 the Syrian Government had sarin-attacked residents in its town of Douma and had killed a large number of non-combatants.

      Seven days after that alleged incident, the U.S. and two of its allies, UK and France, massively missile-invaded Syria on April 14th, in alleged international ‘response’ to that alleged national war-crime on the part of Syria’s Government.

      It now turns out that that alleged national war-crime was totally staged by America’s own proxy-soldiers, Islamic terrorists who were trying to overthrow Syria’s Government, and so the attack against Syria on 14 April 2018 by U.S., UK and France, constitutes an international war-crime, an unequivocal violation of the U.N.’s Charter.

      This excluded finding by the OPCW is proof that “the US Government’s Interpretation of the Technical Intelligence It Gathered Prior to and After the August 21 Attack CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT”.

      That’s the way an independent detailed study by the two top U.S. experts had concluded their study of the U.N.’s evidence concerning the U.S.-and-allied allegations that there had been a 21 August 2013 sarin-attack by the Syrian Government against its town of East Ghouta. Their finding then was virtually identical regarding that U.S.-alleged sarin-use by Syria’s Government — identical to this recent OPCW finding.

    • Michael Avenatti Charged With Defrauding Stormy Daniels

      Michael Avenatti, the attorney who rocketed to fame through his representation of porn star Stormy Daniels in her battles with President Donald Trump, was charged Wednesday with ripping her off.

      Federal prosecutors in New York City say Avenatti used a doctored document to divert about $300,000 that Daniels was supposed to get from a book deal, then used the money for personal and business expenses. Only half of that money was paid back, prosecutors said.

      Daniels isn’t named in the court filing, but the details of the case, including the date her book was released, make it clear that she is the client involved.

      Avenatti denied the allegations on Twitter.

      “No monies relating to Ms. Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled. She received millions of dollars worth of legal services and we spent huge sums in expenses. She directly paid only $100.00 for all that she received. I look forward to a jury hearing the evidence,” he wrote.

    • The “Forever Wars” Enshrined

      Earlier this month, I spent a day visiting Marseilles to videotape a documentary about recent American military history, specifically the ongoing wars that most of us prefer not to think about.

      Lest there be any confusion, let me be more specific. I am not referring to Marseilles (mar-SAY), France, that nation’s largest port and second largest city with a population approaching 900,000. No, my destination was Marseilles (mar-SAYLZ), Illinois, a small prairie town with a population hovering around 5,000.

      Our own lesser Marseilles nestles alongside the Illinois River, more or less equidistant between Chicago and Peoria, smack dab in the middle of flyover country. I have some personal familiarity with this part of America. More than half a century ago, the school I attended in nearby Peru used to play the Panthers of Marseilles High. Unfortunately, their school closed three decades ago.

      Back then, the town had achieved minor distinction for manufacturing corrugated boxes for Nabisco. But that factory was shuttered in 2002 and only the abandoned building remains, its eight-story hulk still looming above Main Street.

      Today, downtown Marseilles, running a few short blocks toward the river, consists of tired-looking commercial structures dating from early in the previous century. Many of the storefronts are empty. By all appearances, the rest may suffer a similar fate in the not-too-distant future. Although the U.S. economy has bounced back from the Great Recession, recovery bypassed Marseilles. Here, the good times ended long ago and never came back. The feel of the place is weary and forlorn. Hedge-fund managers keen to turn a quick profit should look elsewhere.

      Perhaps not too surprisingly, this is Trump country. Marseilles is located in LaSalle County, which in 2016 voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a hefty 14% margin. It’s easy to imagine residents of Marseilles, which is more than 96% white, taking umbrage at Clinton’s disparaging reference to The Donald’s supporters as so many “deplorables.” They had reason to do so.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • 18 Ways Julian Assange Changed the World

      Julian Assange is a dick. It’s important you understand that.

      Assange and WikiLeaks revealed the American military’s war crimes, the American government’s corruption and the American corporate media’s pathetic servile flattery to the power elite. So, if you’re a member of our ruling class, you would view those as textbook examples of dickery.

      In a moment I’m going to list all the ways Julian Assange changed the world by being a dick.

      In an evolved and fully realized society, the oligarchy would see Assange as a dangerous criminal (which they do), and the average working men and women would view him as justice personified (which they don’t). We would celebrate him even as the mass media told us to hope for his downfall—like a Batman or a Robin Hood or an Ozzy Osbourne (the early years, not the cleaning-dog-turds-off-his-carpet years).

      But we are not evolved and this is not Gotham City and average Americans don’t root for the truth. Many Americans cheer for Assange’s imprisonment. They believe the corporate plutocratic talking points and yearn for the days when we no longer have to hear about our country’s crimes against humanity or our bankers’ crimes against the economy. Subconsciously they must believe that a life in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains and know all about it thanks to the exhaustive efforts of an eccentric Australian is worse than one in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains yet know nothing about it.

      “Ignorance is bliss” is the meditative mantra of the United States of America.

    • Britain’s ‘Media Freedom’ is Smokescreen to Hide the Persecution of Journalists Who Expose War Crimes

      As Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, fights on from inside high-security Belmarsh prison, we see a stream of ‘Media Freedom’ campaign tweets from the Foreign Office. Jeremy Hunt’s campaign is apparently running parallel to Assange’s arrest and battle against extradition to the US by way of Sweden. But Hunt’s campaign cannot erase or hide the fact the British government is persecuting a journalist who has dared to empower people throughout the world with knowledge of their leaders’ war crimes. Nor can its shiny press releases blind us to its increasingly hostile and repressive position towards journalists and truth-tellers.

      On the day Wikileaks tweeted the first warning that Assange could have his asylum imminently withdrawn, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that the government’s new Media Freedom campaign which would be fronted by celebrity human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. It was a media circus. It was noticeable that despite Clooney’s previous role in Assange’s legal counsel, any connections between the two were effectively left out of mainstream media reports, so that without prior knowledge or research nobody would have known this was the case.

    • On the spot report: Ecuador’s government colludes with Washington to seize Julian Assange’s possessions

      The search took place 40 days after Assange was seized by a police snatch squad and dragged out of the embassy despite being granted asylum in 2012. He was forced to leave behind all his possessions, including personal, legal and medical documents, as well as electronic devices. Assange is locked up in Belmarsh maximum security prison, after being sadistically sentenced to 50 weeks’ imprisonment on May 1 for a minor bail violation dating back nearly seven years.

      Supporters of Assange began gathering by 8 a.m. yesterday outside the embassy to witness and denounce the search and seizure.

      [...]

      At around 10 a.m., a marked police car pulled up opposite the Embassy before driving off. Later, a Met police van arrived and parked adjacent to the embassy’s side entrance, before a number of officers marched to the front of the Embassy building. Assange supporters demanded to know what they were doing and chanted, “Shame on you!,” “Gangsters!,” “Julian Assange is innocent!,” and “This is theft, stop the crime!”

      Ecuador’s surrender of Assange’s personal possessions is an act of truly staggering criminality.

      WikiLeaks has reported that Assange’s entire legal defence against US extradition was left in the embassy. In a press statement issued early yesterday morning, WikiLeaks noted the timing of the search and seizure, just three weeks before the June 14 deadline for the US to file its final extradition request to the UK. Assange’s persecutors arrived to ransack his possessions with representatives of his legal team and even a United Nations official barred from being present.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • To Save Slow-Breeding Giants, Biologists Recommend New Method for Defining Endangered Species

      Typically, conservationists use a methodology called population viability analysis (PVA), a species-specific risk assessment that considers when a particular population will go extinct given certain perimeters. A new study published in the Journal of Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution suggests that basing conservation decisions simply on low population counts in slow-breeding animals could cause irrevocable decline.

      “Critical thresholds in so-called vital rates — such as mortality and fertility rates among males and females of various ages — can signal an approaching population collapse long before numbers drop below a point of no return,” said lead author Dr. Shermin de Silva, adding that conservation efforts for megafauna should be aimed at maintaining their “demographic safe space.” That is, a combination of key vital rates, such as offspring survival rate and habitat loss, that support population increases rather than short-term trends in population size and distribution

      To come to this conclusion, de Silva and his team analyzed endangered Asian elephants as a case study, whose populations are thought to have been halved in less than a century. Today there are fewer than 50,000 wild Asian elephants, in part because they breed extremely slowly — oftentimes just one calf every six years or more. Mathematical modeling of near-optimal reproduction and high survival rates for calves determined that Asian elephant populations cannot tolerate losing more than 7.5 percent of females annually.

    • Sea level rise may double forecast for 2100

      If you are among the many millions of people who live near the world’s coasts, it will probably be worth your while to read this: sea level rise could be much greater than we expect.

      A team of international scientists led by the University of Bristol, UK, has looked again at the estimates of how much the world’s oceans are likely to rise during this century. It concludes that the figure could be far higher than previous studies suggested.

      In an extreme case, the members say, sea level rise over the next 80 years could mean that by 2100 the oceans will have risen by around six feet (two metres) − roughly twice the level thought likely till now, with “pretty unimaginable” consequences

    • England to Ban Sale of Plastic Straws, Stirrers and Cotton Buds by April 2020

      From April 2020, the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds with plastic stems will be prohibited in England.

      The UK first announced it would work towards a ban in April 2018, saying it would consult manufacturers to find alternatives and make sure there was time to make the necessary changes before it was implemented. Now, UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) have confirmed a ban.

      “Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment,” Gove said in the government announcement. “These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life.”

    • A Steal of a Deal: How Ranchers Take Advantage of Public Lands

      The shocking thing is, ranchers now pay even less than they used to. Earlier this year the Trump administration lowered the monthly fee for grazing on public lands and national forests from $1.41 to $1.35 — the lowest price allowed by law.

      The fee covers one “animal month” — 30 days of grazing — for each cow, or cow with calf. The same fee applies for every five sheep or goats.

      These grazing fees — collected by the Bureau of Land Management — brought in only$16 million in 2018 (before the monthly fee was lowered). That sum doesn’t even cover the costs to administer the program or the environmental degradation caused by livestock grazing on public lands.

      “BLM’s own records reveal that much of the sagebrush West is in severely degraded condition due to excessive commercial livestock grazing,” Kirsten Stade, advocacy director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said in a press release when the new fees were announced. “Lowering already ultra-low grazing fees only encourages more abuse of public rangelands.”

    • Does Shopping Ethically Really Make a Difference?

      Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We’re far more familiar with the “tried and tested” methods of doing good, like donating our money or time.

      But while Americans generously donated $390 billion to charities in 2017, that number pales in comparison to the $130 trillion we spent on buying stuff in the same year.

    • The Victory of Small Visions: Morrison Retains Power in Australia

      Australian politics since the 1990s has been marked by a dedicated loathing of the “vision thing”. For those keen to see policies lasting beyond the life of the May fly, disappointment lies. Federal governments, at best, have shelf lives of three short years. Governments are effectively encouraged to be agents of small change if, indeed, they are to be agents of any change whatsoever. Anything beyond that is bound to be what Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister terms “courageous”, so brave as to be an act of folly and a discouragement.

      Opposition leader Bill Shorten of the Australian Labor Party never quite had it. He had, it is true, overseen the end of two prime ministers – Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull – and came close to sneaking in during the 2016 election. But his stewardship of the federal Labor Party never cured that sense of a permanent “trust deficit”. Not even a phalanx of credible female politicians, aided by his wife’s support, were able to protect him against a highly personalised campaign that stressed the simple, the visceral, and, the importance of self-interest. The world might be burning, but what did that matter to retirees concerned about their share income from franked dividends?

      Labor’s strategy had been geared towards a battle of details kept in a stuffing of income distribution. But the campaign got bogged down. Documents and policy statements were designed for the deposed Turnbull. With the coming to power of Scott Morrison after a palace coup in 2018, a sense of hopeless fun pervaded proceedings. This was not an election for him to win – keeping losses to a minimum would have been seen as an achievement of sorts.

    • An (Even More) Inconvenient Truth: Why Carbon Credits For Forest Preservation May Be Worse Than Nothing

      The state of Acre, on the western edge of Brazil, is so remote, there’s a national joke that it doesn’t exist. But for geochemist Foster Brown, it’s the center of the universe, a place that could help save the world.

      “This is an example of hope,” he said, as we stood behind his office at the Federal University of Acre, a tropical campus carved into the Amazon rainforest. Brown placed his hand on a spindly trunk, ordering me to follow his lead. “There is a flow of water going up that stem, and there is a flow of sap coming down, and when it comes down it has carbon compounds,” he said. “Do you feel that?”

      I couldn’t feel a thing. But that invisible process holds the key to a massive flow of cash into Brazil and an equally pivotal opportunity for countries trying to head off climate change without throwing their economies into turmoil. If the carbon in these trees could be quantified, then Acre could sell credits to polluters emitting clouds of CO₂. Whatever they release theoretically would be offset, or canceled out, by the rainforest.

      Five thousand miles away in California, politicians, scientists, oil tycoons and tree huggers are bursting with excitement over the idea. The state is the second-largest carbon polluter in America, and its oil and gas industry emits about 50 million metric tons of CO₂ a year. What if Chevron or Shell or Phillips 66 could offset some of their damage by paying Brazil not to cut down trees?

      The appetite is global. For the airline industry and industrialized nations in the Paris climate accord, offsets could be a cheap alternative to actually reducing fossil fuel use.

    • Washington Becomes First State to Legalize Human Body Composting

      Washington became the first U.S. state to legalize human composting Tuesday, offering residents a more environmentally friendly way to dispose of their remains, AFP reported.

      The bill, signed by Governor and climate-focused presidential candidate Jay Inslee, would allow people who die in Washington after May 2020 to forgo burial or cremation and have their bodies turned into soil through a process called recomposition.

    • Louisiana Law Turning Pipeline Protests Into Felonies Violates Constitution, New Lawsuit Alleges

      A lawsuit filed today in federal court in Louisiana challenges the state’s “critical infrastructure” law, used to press felony charges against fossil fuel pipeline construction opponents, as unconstitutional.

      Louisiana’s critical infrastructure law is unconstitutionally vague and broad, the suit alleges, because it lets “any authorized person” exclude people from public places like sidewalks and roads if the state’s 125,000 miles of mostly unmarked pipelines cross there. The law could even be used to bring felony charges against a landowner for being on their own land, the lawsuit alleges.

      “And, as more than a dozen arrests of peaceful protesters under the new law demonstrate, its actual aim is to chill, and harshly punish, speech and expression in opposition to pipeline projects,” the complaint adds.

    • German candidate reflects on standing for the Green Party in the North West Region

      Astrid Johnson, 55, is a candidate in the Green Party in the North West region in tomorrow’s election.

      Writing for Metro, she’s reflected on the experience of being an EU27 candidate in these elections, and how she’s felt since the 2016 referendum result.

      She wrote: “I fell in love with England when I was 12 years old. I came for a language exchange, and immediately knew that I wanted to move to live here from my native Germany. I loved the easy-going politeness of the English people in comparison to the formalities of home.

    • Meduza reviews episode three of HBO’s miniseries ‘Chernobyl

      On May 21, the American premium cable network HBO aired the third episode of “Chernobyl,” a new miniseries about the catastrophic nuclear accident in April 1986 that rocked the Soviet Union. After two episodes, with the initial fire extinguished and early panic beginning to subside, the focus shifts to questions about why the reactor exploded and who was responsible for the disaster. Meduza shares its thoughts about the show’s latest installment, “Open Wide, O Earth,” and looks at some of the showrunners’ editing decisions.

    • What If We Covered the Climate Emergency Like We Did World War II?

      I have been asked to bring this gathering to a close by summing up how we can do better at covering the possible “collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world,” to quote the noted environmentalist David Attenborough, speaking at the recent United Nations climate summit in Poland.

      I don’t come with a silver bullet. And I’m no expert on the topic. Like you, I am just a journalist whose craft calls for us to explain things we don’t understand. There’s so much I don’t understand that journalism became my continuing course in adult education. The subjects were so fascinating, and the work so fulfilling, that I kept at it “full speed ahead” for half a century, until two years ago, at the age of 83, I yielded finally to the side effects of a long life and retired (more or less). This is the first opportunity I have had since then to be with so many kindred spirits of journalism, and the camaraderie reminds me how much I have missed your company.

      Many of us have recognized that our coverage of global warming has fallen short. There’s been some excellent reporting by independent journalists and by enterprising reporters and photographers from legacy newspapers and other news outlets. But the Goliaths of the US news media, those with the biggest amplifiers—the corporate broadcast networks—have been shamelessly AWOL, despite their extraordinary profits. The combined coverage of climate change by the three major networks and Fox fell from just 260 minutes in 2017 to a mere 142 minutes in 20l8—a drop of 45 percent, reported the watchdog group Media Matters.

    • Changing rainfall poses dilemma on dams

      For the builders of hydro-electric schemes – usually multi-billion dollar projects involving vast amounts of complex engineering work – changing rainfall is a serious problem.

      With climate change either on the horizon or already happening in many regions of the world, rainfall patterns, on which hydro schemes ultimately depend, are becoming ever more unpredictable.

      Christian Rynning-Tonnesen is CEO of Statkraft AS, Norway’s biggest power producer and a major player in the international hydro power business.

      In an interview with the Bloomberg news agency, Rynning-Tonnesen says his company has had to double its spending over the last 10 years to reinforce dams in order to cope with heavier rains. He says climate change is hard to ignore when you’re in the hydro-electric business.

    • After DeSmog’s Revelations, Enbridge’s Weymouth Gas Facility Air Permit in Jeopardy

      In a surprise move that threw a controversial fossil fuel project into a whirlwind, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) late last week revealed new evidence of toxins in the area of a proposed natural gas facility in the greater Boston area.

      The sequence of events leading to the disclosure was set in motion by DeSmog’s recent revelations that the state had not released air pollution data, including evidence of carcinogens, which were collected from the proposed site of Enbridge’s gas compressor station in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

      Now, DEP’s air permit for the compressor station, which is currently under appeal, is teetering.

  • Finance

    • Ending the Generational Abuse of Student Debt

      When I speak on college campuses, I ask students to write the amount of debt they anticipate graduating with on a slip of paper.

      In a recent class of 25 undergraduates at Boston College, just eight will graduate without debt, either because of full scholarships or family wealth. For the rest, an imposing debt looms — $40,000 on average, but with six reporting more than $150,000.

      Can you imagine being 22 and having $150,000 in debt? This is generational abuse.

      Previous generations were propelled forward by free or very low-cost higher education at land-grant universities and robust free college systems in states like California and New York.

      Entrepreneur Dariel Garner attended both undergraduate and graduate school at University of California, Berkeley, free between 1968 and 1975. “I got a world-class education for free,” he told me. Within decades, he’d amassed a multi-million dollar fortune from several enterprises.

    • It’s Not Brain Surgery: Oreos and Idiots and Arrogant Incompetence Oh My

      We know you don’t really need more evidence of the evil clown show that is our current government. But if you did: Check out the surreal appearance before the Democrat-led House Financial Services Committee of alleged Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who in a series of mind-bending exchanges veered between stupor, belligerence, smirking condescension and breathtaking ignorance about the basics of his job, prompting stunned observers on social media to offer, “Huge congrats on making Betsy DeVos look like she has her shit together.” The mumblecore former brain surgeon who manages to make brain surgery look bad – you gotta wonder how many of his patients survived – is also the guy who said slavery was the best thing to happen to black people and illegal immigrants who get caught voting should be stripped of their citizenship. So it’s little wonder that after two years he still has no clue what he’s doing other than, according to his Trumpian overlord, making housing harder to find for people he’s supposed to be helping, and occasionally confusing cookies with foreclosures.

    • Lucrative business of transporting tourists at heart of Uber-taxi dispute

      Taxi drivers in the tourism-oriented state have protested against the legislative proposal that seeks to regulate Uber and other ride-sharing services and allow them to operate legally.

      Uber already operates without formal authorization in Baja California Sur but taxi drivers fear that if it is given the go ahead to do so legally, it will further diminish their share of the tourism transportation market, which is worth tens of millions of dollars annually.

    • A False Answer, a Big Political Connection and $260 Million in Tax Breaks

      A company that won the second-largest tax break in New Jersey history gave a false answer about being prohibited from working with a federal agency in sworn statements made to win $260 million in taxpayer assistance for a new plant in Camden.

      A review by WNYC and ProPublica found that Holtec International CEO Kris Singh responded “no” on certified forms submitted to the state in 2014 that asked if the applicant had ever been barred from doing business with a state or federal agency. The forms were submitted to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority as part of its successful application for tax breaks.

      In fact, the international nuclear parts manufacturer was caught up in a contracting investigation at the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority. In 2010, Holtec was barred for 60 days from doing any federal business and paid a $2 million administrative fine to the TVA, according to an agency report. Holtec’s debarment marked the first time the agency had taken such action against a contractor.

    • TurboTax Uses A “Military Discount” to Trick Troops Into Paying to File Their Taxes

      In patriotism-drenched promotions, press releases and tweets, TurboTax promotes special deals for military service members, promising to help them file their taxes online for free or at a discount.

      Yet some service members who’ve filed by going to the TurboTax Military landing page told ProPublica they were charged as much as $150 — even though, under a deal with the government, service members making under $66,000 are supposed to be able to file on TurboTax for free.

      Liz Zimmerman is a mother of two teenage daughters and a toddler who lives with her husband, a Navy chief petty officer, in Bettendorf, Iowa, just across the river from the Rock Island military facility. When Zimmerman went to do her taxes this year, she Googled “tax preparation military free” and, she recalled in an interview, TurboTax was the first link that popped up, promising “free military taxes.” She clicked and came to the site emblazoned with miniature American flags.

      But when Zimmerman got to the end of the process, TurboTax charged her $60, even though the family makes under the $66,000 income threshold to file for free. “I’ve got a kid in braces and I’ve got a kid in preschool; $60 is half a week’s worth of groceries,” she said. “Who needs date night this month? At least I filed my taxes.”

      In the commercial version of TurboTax that includes the “military discount,” customers are charged based on the tax forms they file. The Zimmermans used a form to claim a retirement savings credit that TurboTax required a paid upgrade to file. If they’d started from the TurboTax Free File landing page instead of the military page, they would have been able to file for free.

    • Why Did Deutsche Bank Keep Lending to Donald Trump? — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

      Whispers of money laundering have swirled around Donald Trump’s businesses for years. One of his casinos, for example, was fined $10 million for not trying hard enough to prevent such machinations. Investors with shady financial histories sometimes popped up in his foreign ventures. And on Sunday, The New York Times reported that anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank internally flagged multiple transactions by Trump companies as suspicious. (A spokesperson for the Trump Organization called the article “absolute nonsense.”)

      The remarkably troubled recent history of Deutsche Bank, its past money-laundering woes — and the bank’s striking relationship with Trump — are the subjects of this week’s episode of the “Trump, Inc.” podcast. The German bank loaned a cumulative total of around $2.5 billion to Trump projects over the past two decades, and the bank continued writing him nine-figure checks even after he defaulted on a $640 million obligation and sued the bank, blaming it for his failure to pay back the debt.

    • The Rank Hypocrisy Of Rahm Emanuel

      Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel took advantage of his elite privilege and joined The Atlantic, a major media publication, as a contributing editor. He also was hired by ABC News to be a contributor.

      For months, The Atlantic has periodically published punditry from Emanuel, including when he was still mayor. He is now the latest high-profile person to benefit from the revolving door between public office and the news media.

      Emanuel’s first column since the end of his tenure as mayor centered on the college admissions scandal.

      “The outrage over the Varsity Blues investigation perfectly illustrates what may be the most important, least understood, and underappreciated political dynamic of our era: a full-on middle class revolt against the elites and the privileges they hoard,” Emanuel wrote.

      “For all the focus on inequality and social justice, this middle class revolt is the most important barrier standing between Democrats and the White House.”

      Emanuel is one of those elites who hoard privileges. For example, like most high-profile politicians, he sent his children to private schools instead of public schools.

    • Separated by Design: How Some of America’s Richest Towns Fight Affordable Housing

      A dirt field overgrown with weeds is the incongruous entrance to one of America’s wealthiest towns, a short walk to a Rodeo Drive-like stretch replete with upscale stores such as Tiffany & Co.

      But this sad patch of land is also the physical manifestation of a broader turf war over what type of housing — and ultimately what type of people — to allow within Westport’s borders.

      It started when a developer known for building large luxury homes envisioned something different back in 2014 for the 2.2 acre property: a mix of single- and multifamily housing that would accommodate up to 12 families. A higher density project is more cost efficient, he said, and would allow him to sell the units for less than the typical Westport home.

      But the site was zoned to hold no more than four single-family houses, so he needed approval from a reluctant Westport Planning and Zoning Commission, which denied his plan. Residents erupted in fury each time he made a scaled-back proposal, and it took the developer four years after purchasing the property to win approval to build two duplexes and five single-family homes.

    • Striking Ohio Hospital Workers Remain United, Head to Bargaining Table

      More than two weeks after walking off the job, the striking workers at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio, remain united. The overwhelming support the workers have received has shown Mercy Health that the hospital workers and the community they serve are united in winning contracts for the three bargaining units that put safety, patient care and good employee benefits first.

    • Russian investigative journalists find a $36-million mansion outside Moscow that’s guarded by Putin’s secret service and owned by firms tied to his rich friends

      Companies tied to two close friends of Vladimir Putin — Mikhail Kovalchuk and Gennady Timchenko — own a large plot of land in a prestigious residential area in Moscow’s western suburbs that’s guarded by the Federal Protective Service (FSO), according to a new investigative report by the website Proekt.

      Covering six hectares (almost 15 acres) in the village of Gorki-10, the real estate includes three houses hidden by tall pine trees, several manmade ponds, newly planted fir trees, and a helipad. The largest of the houses is 2,200 square meters (23,680 square feet), and the second biggest home is 1,200 square meters (12,916 square feet). (The size of the third house is unknown.) In 2012, according to Proekt, the property was valued at 2.3 billion rubles ($35.8 million). Since 2013, the owners have spent 733.5 million rubles ($11.4 million) on beautification improvements.

    • Deal or No Deal, the Rivalry Between the US and China Will Intensify

      The recent collapse of trade talks between the U.S. and China sent shock waves through the global capitalist system. Almost everyone had expected a deal to be struck, including President Trump, who had predicted it would be “epic.”

      When it all fell through, he blamed China for the failure and escalated what had been a low-intensity trade war into a full-blown one. He increased tariffs from 10 to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese exports to the U.S. and threatened to impose 25 percent duties on another $300 billion. Once those go into effect, all of China’s exports will be subject to tariffs.

      With the gauntlet thrown down, Beijing announced it would raise levies from 10 percent to as much as 25 percent on $60 billion worth of U.S. exports. A spokesperson on its state television warned, “If the U.S. wants to talk, our door is open. If the U.S. wants to fight, we’ll be with them till the end.”

      The threat of a trade war spooked investors throughout the world. In a massive selloff on stock markets around the world, they wiped a trillion dollars off the books. U.S. multinationals like Apple and Boeing, which are heavily dependent on China and would be affected by the new tariffs for the first time, were hammered particularly hard.

    • ‘No Amount of Legal Advice Will Stop the Lawlessness and Lies’: Leaked IRS Memo Says Mnuchin Must Hand Over Trump Tax Returns

      First obtained by the Washington Post, the memo states that federal law “does not allow the secretary to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met.”

      Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, has refused to release the president’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee on multiple occasions on the grounds that “the committee’s request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

      But the 10-page IRS memo (pdf)—reportedly prepared last fall “by a lawyer in the Office of Chief Counsel”—makes clear that the “secretary’s obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax writing committee… to state a reason for the request.”

      “The memo writer’s interpretation is that the IRS has no wiggle room on this,” Daniel Hemel, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, told the Post. “Mnuchin is saying the House Ways and Means Committee has not asserted a legitimate legislative purpose. The memo says they don’t have to assert a legitimate legislative purpose—or any purpose at all.”

    • WaPo Hypes ‘Space Capitalists’—One of Whom Owns the Paper

      The Washington Post (5/16/19) touts “the birthplace of America’s Space Age…bouncing back, fueled by private industry.”

      “NASA lost its ability to launch humans from US soil when the space shuttle retired,” read a starry-eyed subhead under “Companies in the Cosmos,” a special section of the Washington Post (9/11/18) dedicated to the business of outer space. “Now, companies and billionaire entrepreneurs are defining a new space age.”

      “The birthplace of America’s Space Age fell into decay once the shuttle retired,” another Post article (5/16/19) declared. “Now it’s bouncing back, fueled by private industry.”

      Therein lies the premise of the Post’s general coverage of space exploration: Businesses can, must and will shepherd the future of the US’s space-exploration program. By parroting the propaganda of an emergent class of “space capitalists,” the Post extols the virtues of the private sector, its repackaged press releases masquerading as inspirational musings on American scientific progress.

      Peppered throughout “Companies in the Cosmos” was a series of paeans to spaceflight firms: Boeing, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin. The last of those four, aptly, is owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and owner, since 2013, of the Washington Post. (The Post consistently discloses Bezos’ ownership in articles related to him, though not when the paper discusses the space business more generally.)

    • Federal Judge Refuses to Block Trump Bank Subpoenas

      A federal judge in New York is refusing to block congressional subpoenas seeking financial records from two banks that did business with President Donald Trump.

      U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos said during a hearing Wednesday that Trump and his company were unlikely to succeed in a lawsuit arguing that the subpoenas were unlawful and unconstitutional.

      Democrats in Congress have sought the information from Deutsche Bank and Capital One.

      Deutsche Bank has lent Trump’s real estate company millions of dollars over the years.

    • Blaming Dead Pilots Brought to You by Boeing

      The House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation held an oversight hearing last week on the two recent Boeing 7373 MAX airplane crashes

      Testifying were the heads of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

      Asking questions and making statements were 39 members of the House – 22 Democrats and 17 Republicans – who during the 2018 election cycle took in a total of $134,749 – or an average of $3,455 each from Boeing in campaign contributions.

      Inoculating their interests from responsibility, blame, shame, and liability were the Boeing lobbyists and lawyers swarming the Capitol.

      The chair of the subcommittee, Rick Larsen (D-Washington) ($7,048 from Boeing in 2018, $101,134 over his career), artfully steered the hearing away from Boeing’s corporate responsibility for the deaths of the passengers on the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines planes that crashed within five months killing all 346 passengers on board.

    • Four in 10 Americans Believe Socialism a ‘Good Thing’: Gallup

      Four in 10 Americans think socialism is a good thing for the United States, a shift in attitude that reflects the modern 21st century political landscape and changing social mores.

      Results from a Gallup poll released Monday show that 43 percent of U.S. adults polled from April 17-30 think socialism is a “good thing.” It’s likely not a coincidence that rise in popularity across all Americans came as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), both of whom identify as democratic socialists, became two of the most prominent politicians in the U.S.

      The 43 percent number is a jump in approval of socialism by 18 percent since a poll by Roper 1942, the historical date used by Gallup for reference to show the country’s evolving views.

    • Time for ‘New Vision’ Clear as UN Expert Gives Blistering Takedown of UK Austerity

      A United Nations expert on Wednesday issued a scathing rebuke to austerity policies implemented in the United Kingdom over the past decade.

      “It is hard to imagine a recipe better designed to exacerbate inequality and poverty and to undermine the life prospects of many millions,” said Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

      Alston’s remarks come alongside his new report on poverty, which pulls from hundreds of submissions and numerous meetings with stakeholders on his visit to the U.K. in November 2018.

      The new report, said Anela Anwar, Convenor of the Poverty Alliance, “lays bare the scandalous reality of poverty in the U.K.”

      “The policies pursued [by the government] since 2010 amount to retrogressive measures in clear violation of the country’s human rights obligations,” the report said. The austerity reflects a “harsh and uncaring ethos,” was pursued based on an ideological not economic agenda, and has pushed millions in the U.K. into misery.

    • To ‘Circumvent’ White House Obstruction, New York Passes Bill to Give Congress Access to Trump Tax Returns

      According to the New York Times, the TRUST Act would allow the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release Trump’s tax returns “to the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation for any ‘specified and legitimate legislative purpose.’”

      Trump’s tax returns in New York, the president’s home state and the site of his business heaquarters, “would likely contain much of the same information as the contested federal returns,” the Times reported.

      The legislation passed New York’s Assembly as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin—who last week refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for Trump’s tax returns—testified on Capitol Hill.

      As Common Dreams reported late Tuesday, a leaked IRS memo appeared to completely undermine Mnuchin’s justifications for withholding the president’s tax documents.

      New York state Assemblyman David Buchwald, the sponsor of the tax return bill, said during a floor speech Wednesday that the legislation is designed to overcome White House obstruction.

    • Gillibrand Introduces Sweeping Family Bill of Rights to Ease Financial Burdens and ‘Level the Playing Field for Children’

      Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday introduced her “Family Bill of Rights,” a five-point economic policy that aims to “lift many of the financial burdens on families and help level the playing field for children.”

      “The resources and care available at the start of a child’s life have a crucial impact on their health, safety, development, and future success — but not every child starts on equal footing,” the senator from New York wrote on a Medium post detailing her plan.

      “Families and kids face huge disparities in opportunity and resources depending on their income and zip code, and the gap is wider for families of color,” she noted. “That isn’t fair, and it isn’t acceptable.”

      Gillibrand vowed Wednesday that, if she is elected president, she will implement her proposal, which “guarantees a set of fundamental rights to give every child the chance to succeed — no matter what block they grow up on,” during her first 100 days in office.

    • Making Struggling Workers and Families Foot the Bill, Corporate America Paying Lowest Share of Taxes Since Eisenhower Era

      “Businesses contributed 7.6 percent of the $3.5 trillion in total tax revenue collected for fiscal-year 2018… a two percentage point decline from the previous year,” CBS News reported.

      According to CBS, that is the smallest share of federal income taxes corporations have paid in “nearly 60 years.”

      With U.S. companies paying less, and in some cases zero, in federal taxes thanks to the Trump-GOP law—which slashed the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent—individuals are now taking on a larger share of the nation’s tax burden.

      Individuals accounted for 57 percent of federal tax revenue in 2018, compared with 54 percent the previous year, CBS reported.

    • Labeled ‘No Vacation Nation,’ US Still Lags Behind Other Wealthy Countries in Giving Workers Paid Holidays

      Just ahead of Memorial Day, a new report out Wednesday reveals that workers in the U.S. continue to lag far behind those in other wealthy countries when it comes to paid vacation and holidays.

      The report—titled “No Vacation Nation, Revised” (pdf) and published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)—updates the center’s two earlier studies on paid vacations, compiled in 2007 and 2013. Like the previous research, CEPR found that the U.S. is the only rich economy where a significant portion of the workforce receive no vacation pay.

      Twenty-two percent of American workers don’t receive any holiday pay, and the average employee can take 10 paid vacation days and six paid federal holidays per year—far less than paid time off that’s offered to the majority of workers in Europe, where governments and employers have been forced to prioritize time for workers to recharge and relax.

      “In the U.S., paid vacation and holiday benefits are based on luck in the boss lottery, not federal policy,” said Eileen Appelbaum, co-director of CEPR. “Since we did this study in 2007, there’s been no progress on the national front to catch up with other rich countries. We can’t depend on the largesse of employers to do the right thing.”

    • Watch: Congresswoman Pressley Presses Mnuchin to Explain Delay of Harriet Tubman’s $20 Bill

      “#RepresentationMatters,” tweeted Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Wednesday, after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that a planned redesign of the $20 bill—which would have featured abolitionist and suffragist Harriet Tubman—will not meet an initial 2020 deadline as planned.

      In 2016, the Obama administration announced the new design, which would have booted former President Andrew Jackson, a slaveholder who signed the Indian Removal Act, to the backside and put the Underground Railroad hero to the front. The planned launch for 2020 was to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

      Mnuchin suggested it would come eight years later, if at all.

      During a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, Pressley pressed Mnuchin about whether the 2020 deadline would be met.

      “The primary reason we have looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues,” Mnuchin told the Massachusetts Democrat.

      “Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028,” he said. “The $10 bill and the $50 bill will come out with new features beforehand.”

    • ‘A Small Tax on Wall Street to Make Big Change’: Bernie Sanders and Barbara Lee Introduce New Financial Transaction Tax

      The Inclusive Prosperity Act (pdf) was introduced in the Senate by Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and in the House by Lee, a Democrat from California, and a dozen of her colleagues.

      “Wall Street gets away with no taxes, even when conducting high-risk financial transactions,” Lee said in a statement. “This has to stop. It’s past time to make sure Wall Street pays their fair share so that we can provide funding for things that make us a better nation like jobs, housing, infrastructure, and college education.”

      The tax is a tiny levy on the hundreds of billions of transactions on Wall Street each day.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • As 2020 Democrats Cozy Up to Wall Street Donors, Warren and Sanders Refuse to Play Big-Money Game

      While characterizing their campaigns as “grassroots” operations fueled by the people, many 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls have reportedly been spending a significant chunk of their time on the trail cozying up to Wall Street executives and raking in checks at big-dollar events across the nation.

      Two major presidential candidates, however, are eschewing the lavish fundraisers and donor meetings that have come to encapsulate the widespread corruption of the American political system: Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

      “In the past, there was no candidate who didn’t come to New York, Chicago, L.A. for money,” Marc Lasry, the head of Avenue Capital Group and a major bundler for Hillary Clinton in 2016, told Bloomberg.

      “Today,” said Lasry, “there are two candidates who aren’t doing that—Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.”

      Bloomberg reported Tuesday that while many major Democratic candidates are “trying to outdo each other with promises to finance their campaigns with grassroots contributions,” Wall Street executives say they have seen little change in candidates’ eagerness to ask them for cash.

    • Ocasio-Cortez Won’t Be Endorsing Joe Biden Any Time Soon

      This month, CNN also reported that AOC (as she is widely known) is leaning toward Sanders or Warren. Ocasio-Cortez has teamed up with both leading progressives on a number of efforts, including a recent proposal she drafted with Sanders to cap credit card interest rates. While she still hasn’t given an official endorsement, her preferences have been clear for some time now.

      “What I would like to see in a presidential candidate is one that has a coherent worldview and logic from which all these policy proposals are coming forward,” she told CNN. “I think Sen. Sanders has that. I also think Sen. Warren has that.”

    • Founders Of News Review Site Plan To Accelerate Shift In Media From Clicks To Credibility

      The ability to critically evaluate news content is an important skill, but up until now, building this muscle has been an isolating experience. A new platform called Credder seeks to create a community and develop a collective memory around journalists and media outlets that will empower news consumers.

      Chase Palmieri, co-founder of Credder, said, “Back in 2016, we saw the amount of clickbait and sensationalism in online news growing as a percentage of news coverage, and we were looking at the solutions being proposed. And a lot of the times it was Google and Facebook will censor stories on our behalf or an AI for news will come and save the day.”

      Palmieri, along with Jared Fesler and Austin Walter, examined other industries struggling with what they call the “producer-consumer alignment.” They determined a review platform for news would be one way to hold the news industry accountable and help consumers “find the best sources and articles on any topic.” Importantly, it would not require any censorship at all

      Credder was in private beta development for the last months, and it already has 900 users and 300 journalists signed up on the platform. It opens to the public on May 27.

    • Discuss: European Elections

      Labour is making losses too, according to the polls, but whether that’s due to the various smear campaigns launched against the leadership, or their vague equivocating stance on Brexit, is unclear.

      All this time Corbyn has been told he should be making Labour a remain party, but polls suggest there was a massive leave vote waiting for a party to appeal to its wants.

      Meanwhile the “resurgent” Lib Dems, fresh off their huge gains in the local elections, seem to have safely captured the majority of the Remain vote. But since they won’t do anything with it, except what someone more powerful tells them to, does anyone really care?

    • Vote SNP Today – Chagos Just One Example of the Need to Dismantle the Imperial Entity

      In Scotland I urge everybody to go out and vote SNP today, as the priority must be to send an unequivocal signal of support for Independence. I have respect for those who will vote Green and intend to send the same message, but it is not what I recommend you to do.

      In the rest of the UK, I recommend people to vote Labour or Green as your analysis dictates. I am afraid I still have not seen sufficient evidence that my old party the Lib Dems has recovered from its sharp Orange Book lurch to the right to be able to recommend it.

      The Chagos Islands vote at the UN yesterday illustrated why everybody should be ashamed of the label “British”. By a thumping 116 votes to 6, the UN General Assembly voted to uphold the International Court of Justice and demand that the UK return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius.

      In the entire world, the only five countries allied with the UK are Donald Trump’s USA, apartheid Israel, ScoMo’s climate change denying Australia, Viktor Orban’s near fascist Hungary and the ultra corrupt Maldives. The fact that in the EU only the far right racist pariah Orban was prepared to support the UK, shows exactly the kind of far right rogue state the UK has become.

    • The Belligerence of Empire

      Empire understands nothing except ruthless expansion. It has no other raison d’etre. In the past this meant the violent acquisition of lands and territories by a militarized system where caste was very apparent and visible. But today the dealings of empire are far more duplicitous. The ruling order of this age expands empire via the acquisition of capital while using the military industrial complex to police its exploits. But there is an insidious social conditioning at work which has led the general public to where it is today, a state of “inverted totalitarianism” as political philosopher Sheldon Wolin explained. Indeed, capitalism has morphed into the unassailable religion of the age even among the working class. Its tenets are still viewed as sacrosanct.

      Violence is the sole language of empire. It is this only currency it uses to enforce its precepts and edicts, both at home and abroad. Eventually this language becomes internalized within the psyche of the subjects. Social and cultural conditioning maintained through constant subtle messaging via mass media begins to mold the public will toward that of authoritarian conformity. The American Empire is emblematic of this process. There is mass compliance to the dictates of the ruling class and this occurs most often without any prompting or debate whatsoever. In this dictatorship of money the poor are looked at with ridicule and contempt, and are often punished legally for their imposed poverty.

      But the social conditioning of the American public has led toward a bizarre allegiance to its ruling class oppressors. Propaganda still works here and most are still besotted with the notion of America being a bastion of “freedom and democracy.” The growing gap between the ultra-wealthy and the poor and the gutting of civil liberties are ignored. And blind devotion is especially so when it comes to US foreign policy.

      Most Americans still believe they live in the greatest country on the planet. They believe the American military to be noble and that they always reluctantly go into or are forced into war. Indeed, both the Democrats and Republicans possess an uncanny ability to bridge their ideological distances when it comes to defending US militarism, the Pentagon and the war machine of imperialism. But this is tied to the defense of capitalism, the ruling class, and the ultimate reason for war: the protection of that class’s global capital investments.

      The persecution of Chelsea Manning, much like the case of Julian Assange, is demonstrative of this. It is a crusade against truth tellers that has been applauded from both sides of the American establishment, liberal and conservative alike. It does not matter that she helped to expose American war crimes. On the contrary, this is seen as heresy to the Empire itself. Manning’s crime was exposing the underbelly of the beast. A war machine which targeted and killed civilians and journalists by soldiers behind a glowing screen thousands of miles away, as if they were playing a video game.

    • What and Who Gave Us Trump?

      Donald J. Trump’s presidential ambition has simmered for decades. He was and is a regular TV watcher and saw the changing political landscape. One by one, previous presidents diminished the integrity of the presidency and violated the rule of law, paving the way for Trump’s candidacy.

      Bill Clinton was exposed for serial adulteries and abuses of women and lied under oath. This perjury led to him being impeached in the House (though he was acquitted in the Senate). “Hmm,” thought Donald, a serial abuser of women, “Clinton got away with it and was elected twice.” One potentially career-ending violation no longer had the weight it once did.

      Then came George W. Bush – selected by the Electoral College and a Republican Supreme Court. “Hmm,” thought Donald to himself, “Even though Gore won the popular vote, Bush won because of Electors in swing states.” Despite Gore’s crushing loss, the Democratic Party refused to support ongoing Electoral College reform (see nationalpopularvote.com). Once in office, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied repeatedly to start an unconstitutional illegal war with Iraq, which caused huge Iraqi and U.S. casualties and wreaked havoc on the U.S. budget. Bush and Cheney not only got away with these atrocities, but were reelected. A majority of voters believed their lies. Violating the laws did not matter. “Hmm,” thought Donald to himself, “The President is above the law.” Positions of power and the trampling of laws appealed to Trump, a lawless, failed gambling czar.

      Then along came Obama. He too got away with all kinds of slaughter abroad without authority of the Constitution, statutes, or international treaties. He too was reelected. Domestically, Obama did not prosecute any of the big Wall Street crooks that brought down our economy in 2008-2009, even though a vast majority of the population loathed these reckless financiers. With all of these misdeeds and violations of law on full display, Trump a big business crook himself, must have thought that he would not be held accountable. Even better, he knew how to use television to manipulate the media to his advantage. These examples are just some of the major ways that past presidents, Democrats especially, handed Trump his opportunity. I describe these and other presidential abuses of power in my recent book, To the Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency, and Why It Isn’t Too Late to Reverse Course.

      Given these inoculations for breaking social norms and laws, Trump felt he could break additional norms and laws and still secure the Presidency. It almost didn’t work – Hillary Clinton’s campaign bungling lost three key states, which provided Trump a path to the White House. The crazy, antiquated Electoral College sealed the deal.

    • Dilution of “Kashmiriyat” and Regional Nationalism

      I am highly skeptical of the attempts of various political organizations to either communalize or demonize the notion of “Kashmiriyat” to serve their vested interests.

      The various communities in the state of J & K – Kashmiri Muslims, Kashmiri Pandits, Dogras and Ladakhis – have tried time and again to form a national consciousness in order to name a cultural alterity through the nation. The construction of “Kashmiriyat,” or a syncretic cultural ethos, by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s NC involved culling selected cultural fragments from an imagined past that would enfold both the Pandits and the Muslims.

      Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, with his socialist politics, sought to challenge the domain of privilege and power which had disenfranchised the Muslim majority, reinforced the seclusion of Kashmiri women, and made their support irrelevant for the Dogra sovereigns and later for the regimes installed by New Delhi. Interestingly, it was the Kashmiri Muslims led by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who rallied around the notion of regional nationalism.

      The notion of “Kashmiriyat” was not handed down to me as an unachievable and abstract construct; on the contrary, it was crystallized for me as the eradication of a feudal structure and its insidious ramifications. It was the right of the tiller to the land he worked on. It was the unacceptability of any political solution that did not take the aspirations and demands of the Kashmiri people into consideration; the right of Kashmiris to high offices in education, the bureaucracy and government. It was the availability of medical and educational facilities in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. It was the preservation of literatures, shrines and historical artifacts that defined an important aspect of “Kashmiriyat.” It was the fundamental right of both women and men to free education up to the university level; equal opportunities afforded to both sexes in the workplace. It was the nurturing of a contact zone in social, political and intellectual ideologies and institutions. “Kashmiriyat” was pride in a cultural identity that was generated in a space created by multiple perspectives.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook Restricts Live Streaming After New Zealand Shooting

      The company said that starting Tuesday, anyone who breaks certain rules in broadcasting content on Facebook Live will be temporarily barred from using the service, with the possibility of a 30-day ban on a first offense. Previously, it did not typically bar users until they had broken these rules multiple times.

      Multiple offenders, or people who post particularly egregious content, could be barred from Facebook.

    • EFF Highlights Stories Of Bad Content Moderation With New TOSsed Out Site

      We’ve pointed out for many years that content moderation at scale isn’t just hard, it’s impossible to do well. At the scale of giant platforms, there needs to be some level of moderation or the platforms and users will get overwhelmed with spam or abuse. But at that scale, there will be a ton of mistakes — both type I and type II errors (blocking content that shouldn’t be blocked and failing to block content that probably should be blocked). Some — frankly dishonest — people have used a few examples of certain content moderation choices to falsely claim that there is “anti-conservative bias” in content moderation choices. We’ve pointed out time and time again why the evidence doesn’t support this, though many people insist it’s true (and I’ll predict they’ll say so again in the comments, but when asked for evidence, they will fail to present any).

      That’s not to say that the big platforms and their content moderation practices are done well. As we noted at the very beginning, that’s an impossible request. And it’s important to document the mistakes. First, it helps get those mistakes corrected. Second, while it will still be impossible for the platforms to moderate well, they can still get better and make fewer errors. Third, it can help people understand that errors are not because someone hates you or has animus towards a political group or political belief, but because they fuck up the moderation choices all the time. Fourth, it can actually help to find what actual patterns there are in these mistakes, rather than relying on moral panics. To that end, it’s cool to see that the EFF has launched a new site, creatively dubbed TOSsed Out to help track stories of bad content moderation practices.

    • Laying Out All The Evidence: Shiva Ayyadurai Did Not Invent Email

      As you may have seen, last week we settled the lawsuit that Shiva Ayyadurai filed against us in early 2017. No money exchanged hands, but we did agree to post a link at the top of the 14 articles that he sued over. The text of that link says, “Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai’s Response to this Article and Statement on the Invention of Email.” You can read his link, and you can read our articles. As I’ve said in the past, I urge you to read both and make up your own mind.

    • The Moscow government sent out warnings that a popular teen band might be dangerous for kids. Even the censors say otherwise.

      On May 21, Moscow’s Labor and Social Welfare Department sent a memo to various district governments and social welfare agencies recommending that they warn adoptive parents and guardians about the dangers of listening to the teen pop duo Friendzone. The memo followed Moscow ombudswoman Tatiana Potyaeva’s decision to take her concerns about the group to prosecutors and police. Potyaeva told Meduza that she only asked for an expert evaluation of the group’s music. Russia’s communications regulation agency, Roskomnadzor, already investigated Friendzone’s lyrics this year and found no potentially harmful material. Despite its charming high school vibe, Friendzone has faced resistance since November, when complaints from parents’ groups and local authorities shut down two of the group’s concerts.

    • Former protest organizer and independent journalist Ekaterina Vinokurova explains why she took a job at ‘Russia Today’

      The independent media journalist and protest organizer Ekaterina Vinokurova began working for the state media channel RT (formerly called Russia Today) in the spring of 2019. She now leads a project “The Regions,” which aims to increase RT’s influence among Russian viewers. In an interview with Meduza special correspondent Ilya Zhegulev, Vinokurova explained why she joined a state-run channel and how opposition politician Alexey Navalny affected that choice. This interview was recorded while Vinokurova was in Russia’s Ural region covering protests in Yekaterinburg.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Here’s Why London Tube Will Track Riders From July 8

      If you’re one of the riders of the London Underground (aka Tube), then in the coming days you’re going to be a part of its data collection program.

      Transport of London (TfL) which manages Tube’s operations said it will start tracking riders from July 8, 2019. It will set up Wi-Fi access points at 260 stations to understand the flow of riders across the network.

    • The Government Is Expanding Its Social Media Surveillance Capabilities

      Federal government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have dramatically expanded their social media monitoring programs in recent years, collecting a vast amount of user information in the process — including political and religious views, data about physical and mental health, and the identity of family and friends. DHS increasingly uses this information for vetting and analysis, including for individuals seeking to enter the United States and for both U.S. and international travelers.

      But while the government has justified its expansion in the name of national security, there is little indication that social media monitoring programs — or the algorithms that sometimes power them — are effective in achieving their stated goals. Additionally, there is evidence that DHS is using personal information extracted from social media posts to target protestors and religious and ethnic minorities for increased vetting and surveillance. In a new report, Social Media Monitoring, the Brennan Center provides an overview of DHS social media monitoring programs and the new set of challenges that they are surfacing.

    • As San Francisco Bans Facial Recognition Tech By Local Cops, New York City’s Legislators Stall On Transparency Reforms

      Earlier this month, the San Francisco city council passed the first ban on facial recognition tech use by city agencies in the US. While other cities have scaled back government use of surveillance tech by introducing measures requiring public input periods and approval by city legislators, San Francisco is the only one to ban the tech outright. And it did so prior to any deployment by local agencies, managing to be one of the few governments to have ever have closed a barn door while horses were still in the barn.

    • DARPA Is Working On A Wearable Neural Tech For Mind Control

      Later, the two methods will require 18 months each and include both animal and human testing.

      While it remains to be seen where this research will lead us a decade or two later, or maybe even before that, as Elon Musk’s company Neuralink is also working on brain tech that can connect your brain to computers very soon.

      DARPA’s N3 project will certainly create a deep impact on both military and civilian life if this project comes to fruition.

    • Russian police reportedly begin testing compact face recognition cameras

      Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry has begun testing cameras with facial recognition capabilities, Vedomosti reported. The devices were developed by NtechLab, which also created an algorithm called FindFace that generated controversy in Russia after it was used to recognize users’ social media photos. A representative for the company confirmed that it had created a new facial recognition gadget for Russia’s law enforcement agencies but denied that the Internal Affairs Ministry was involved in testing. The representative said tests were being conducted in collaboration with private security companies.

    • Court Rejects FBI’s Argument That Discussing NSLs With Lifted Gag Orders Would Threaten National Security

      The FBI uses National Security Letters like regular people use copy paper. It issues thousands of these every year. It works out great for the FBI because it gets to bypass judicial review. If it wants some identifying info, it just writes out its own subpoena, signs it itself, and slaps on an indefinite gag order preventing the company receiving the NSL from informing the targeted users, much less the rest of its customers that the FBI is poking around in its innards.

      The passage of the USA Freedom Act made things a bit more difficult for the FBI. It now has to review its gag orders periodically to make sure they’re still necessary. Of course, the FBI more often than not decides they are and recipients must ask a court to make the final determination.

      When this happens, the FBI likes to rely on its national security arguments. These arguments also tend to bypass judicial review as many courts are willing to grant the agency deference on these issues, assuming the FBI knows more about the national security implications of lifting a gag order than the courts do.

      But it doesn’t always work. Some courts are probably just tired of the FBI shouting “National security!” every time someone wants to talk about its NSLs. The federal court in the northern district of California is one of these courts. It likely sees far more challenges than any other court in the land, thanks to its coverage of the Silicon Valley. As Nicholas Iovino reports for Courthouse News Service, this FBI request for indefinite silence has been shot down.

    • An Australian worker won a landmark privacy case against his employer after he was fired for refusing to use a fingerprint scanner

      Jeremy Lee from Queensland, Australia, was fired from his job in February 2018 after he refused to use the company’s newly-introduced fingerprint scanners to sign in and out of work. He later sued his employer for unfair dismissal, citing his right to deny consent to the collection of his biometric data.

    • “Digital strip-searches”: police increasingly downloading everything from smartphones – including from crime victims

      Cardinal Richelieu is alleged to have said: “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.” Imagine, then, what can be done with six Gigabytes of your most private data, extracted from your phone. Given the incredible richness of that material, it is no wonder that there is a clear trend among the authorities to demand mobile devices when they can, and to download and use as much data as possible. But that very richness means that it imperative to improve both the standard security of mobile devices, so that brute-force extraction tools don’t work, and the legal protection for their contents when governments do manage to gain access to them.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Down in Juárez

      At the protest (against the separation of immigrant children from their adult fellow travelers) there were never more than fifty people at any given time. The speakers and performers represented the diversity of El Paso and Juárez. Nancy Green spoke of how she was born in El Paso but has gone to live in Juárez twice. The first time was because her mother was Mexican and her father was black, and in the 1950s that was illegal. (Similarly, Langston Hughes wrote about the “invisible line” across which he and other black people could buy a beer in Juárez and drink it next to white people who would not do so in Texas.)

    • Foreign Aid That Costs an Arm and a Leg — Literally

      My friend Andrew Rubin is an amputee. He’s lost his right hand, lower arm, right foot, and lower leg.

      He used to be an avid runner and cyclist. He can’t do much of that anymore, although his walking is getting much better. Soon he might be able to run with his artificial leg.

      Andrew is incredibly lucky.

      The medical catastrophe that left his hand and foot so terribly damaged didn’t kill him. But when his limbs never healed even after a decade, he decided to undergo the amputations. It was his choice, and it was made much easier because he knew what lay ahead: the most advanced artificial limbs ever imagined. The kids call him Bionic Man now.

      Andrew is lucky for another reason: He doesn’t live in Gaza.

      According to the United Nations, 1,700 young Gazans are facing amputation, mainly of their legs, in the next two years. They’re among the 7,000 unarmed Palestinians in Gaza shot by Israeli snipers over the last year.

      Since last spring, thousands of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied Gaza have poured out of their teeming refugee camps and houses every Friday to join nonviolent protests, demanding an end to the siege that’s destroying their lives, and the right to return to the homes Israel displaced them from.

    • New performance indicators for Kremlin employees reportedly include social optimism and decreased protests

      Six Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been formulated for certain divisions of the Kremlin’s staff, two sources close to Russia’s presidential administration told RBC. The list of KPIs includes a decreased potential for protests, political stability in Russia’s regions, increased numbers of patriotic youth, and increased social optimism.

    • One of 30 concertgoers injured by Moscow police at May 1 hip-hop festival requests criminal charges

      Maxim Sidorenko, a 22-year-old student of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, has petitioned Russia’s Investigative Committee to bring criminal charges against an unnamed police officer who beat him with a club at the Hip-Hop Mayday festival. Sidorenko’s attorney, Dmitry Julai of the human rights organization Zona Prava, told Meduza about the young man’s complaint.

    • How ICE Is Using Solitary Confinement to Punish Asylum Seekers, Including LGBT & Disabled Immigrants

      Since 2012, ICE has used solitary confinement as a routine punishment for thousands of immigrants and asylum seekers locked up in immigration jails across the country. We look at a new, damning investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that has revealed this widespread abusive use of solitary confinement in immigration jails overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The United Nations special rapporteur on torture says solitary confinement should only be used in exceptional circumstances, and defines extended use of solitary as “inhuman and degrading treatment.” Despite this, a review of more than 8,400 reports of solitary confinement in ICE detention found that immigration officers repeatedly used isolation cells to punish gay, transgender and disabled immigrants for their identities and to target other jailed immigrants for actions like kissing consensually or hunger striking. Almost a third of the people held in solitary confinement suffered from mental illness. In at least 373 cases, immigrants were put in isolation for being potentially suicidal. In nearly 200 instances, immigrants were held in solitary confinement for more than six months. The investigation is called “Solitary Voices.” We speak to one of its lead authors, Spencer Woodman.

    • ‘This Is Criminal’: Whistleblower Reports Thousands of Gay, Trans, and Disabled Immigrants Have Been Held in Solitary Confinement by ICE

      New reports surfaced on Tuesday about the Department of Homeland Security’s use of solitary confinement, where it has placed thousands of immigrants in solitary confinement due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, and disabilities.

      Ellen Gallagher, a DHS policy adviser-turned-whistleblower, shared her knowledge of what she called the “torture” of more than 8,000 immigrants by the U.S. government with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a group which includes NBC News and The Intercept.

      At least 8,488 immigrants in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention between 2012 and 2017 were held in solitary confinement under both the Obama and Trump administrations, according to Gallagher and documents that were obtained by the ICIJ through the Freedom of Information Act.

    • Following ‘Appalling’ Deaths of Migrant Children in CBP Custody, Sen. Elizabeth Warren Demands Answers From White House

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren took aim Tuesday at the “appalling” string of deaths of migrant children in U.S. custody and demanded to know what plans the Trump administration has to protect those detained at the southern border.

      “I have been and continue to be extraordinarily concerned about this administration’s treatment of immigrant children,” the Massachusetts Democrat wrote.

      Her questions came in a letter (pdf) to John P. Sanders, Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), dated Tuesday—one day after the death of a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy who was in government custody.

      He was fifth migrant child to die since December after being detained.

      That child, Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez, “had been held by immigration authorities for six days—twice as long as federal law generally permits—then transferred him to another holding facility even after he was diagnosed with the flu,” The Associated Press reported.

      Warren, in her letter, noted that the teen’s death came less than a week after the death of a two-year-old who’d migrated with a parent and had been detained by border authorities. The toddler died after weeks spent in the hospital with pneumonia.

      The heartbreaking list goes on: 16-year-old Juan de León Gutiérrez died on April 30. Two younger children died in December 2018—seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin and eight-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo.

    • Trump’s War on the Constitution Has Reached a Breaking Point

      Much of the nation is focused on the growing constitutional conflict between the Trump administration and the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. Words like “unprecedented” are being bandied about in the press to describe the slow-rolling legal calamity unfolding before us. While it is true that many elements of the current situation are peculiar to history, there is nothing new here save, perhaps, for the danger represented by this preposterous president.

      It was, in fact, former Vice President Dick Cheney who started this fight in earnest, way back when he got angry at what all those meanie Democrats were doing to Richard Nixon, Cheney’s first presidential boss. Nixon, of course, attempted to put the presidency beyond the reach of the law and failed in spectacular fashion. The members of his legal team fell short because they were basically making up their arguments as they went along. No president in a century had been so eager to flout the Constitution in broad daylight.

      Cheney — a protégé of Nixon White House official Donald Rumsfeld — learned many lessons from the Watergate experience. He bided his time, gathering to himself enough power and influence such that when Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush tapped him to choose a running mate in 2000, Cheney chose himself.

      The rest is odious history. Over the eight years of the second Bush administration, Dick Cheney became the most powerful vice president in U.S. history, and used that power to deploy what became known as the Unitary Executive Theory. The theory argues that, to all intents and purposes, the rule of law does not apply to the president of the United States (unless that president happens to be a Democrat).

      The Bush White House, under Cheney’s behind-the-scenes stewardship, flagrantly ignored lawfully issued subpoenas from House Democrats. In many instances, these subpoenas wound up getting slammed in court. “The executive’s current claim of absolute immunity from compelled Congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law,” ruled Judge John D. Bates in August of 2008 regarding subpoenaed testimony from administration officials Joshua Bolten and Harriet Miers.

    • President Donald Trump ‘Engaged in a Cover-Up,’ Says House Speaker Pelosi

      Under increased pressure from progressive members of the Democratic caucus and constituents to move more aggressively toward impeachment proceedings, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday morning used her strongest language to date against President Donald Trump as she accused him of being “engaged in a cover-up.”

      “We do believe that it is important to follow the facts,” Pelosi told reporters in the nation’s capitol following a closed-door meeting with House Democrats. “We believe that no one is above the law, including the president of the United States, and we believe the president of the United States is engaged in a cover up, in a cover up.”

    • “We Don’t Want a Monarchy”: Rep. Al Green Says Democrats Have No Choice But to Impeach Trump

      A growing number of House Democrats are calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Pelosi has called for a closed-door special caucus meeting this morning to discuss the impeachment question, which has deeply divided House Democrats. The House speaker has long opposed opening an impeachment inquiry, arguing that focusing on impeachment could hurt the chances of Democrats winning in the 2020 election. But she is facing growing pushback from other members of the House as President Trump continues to block congressional oversight efforts by refusing to hand over documents and by barring officials from testifying. On Tuesday, former White House counsel Don McGahn defied a congressional subpoena and skipped a House Judiciary Committee hearing at the request of the White House. Earlier this month, Attorney General William Barr also skipped a House Judiciary Committee hearing. We go to Capitol Hill to speak with Democratic Congressmember Al Green of Texas. In 2017, he became the first member of Congress to call for President Trump’s impeachment.

    • Regional governor says Yekaterinburg cathedral should not be built in contested square

      Sverdlovsk Region governor Yevgeny Kuvaishev has announced that “a new location must be found” for the planned cathedral that Orthodox Church supporters hoped would be built in a central square. In mid-May, thousands of protesters converged on the square for several days because they saw the area as a rare and valuable section of green space in the city.

    • Impeachment Will Succeed If It Demonstrates Very Publicly That Trump Is a Tyrant Unfit for Office and GOP Lawmakers Are His Enablers

      Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi continues to temporize, almost to the point of absurdity, resisting House Democrats clamoring for impeachment, and meeting for a second time with Trump and Chuck Schumer to discuss infrastructure. But the pressure on her appears to be building, with most Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee now moving towards support for an impeachment inquiry, a position articulated with stunning clarity by Rep. Jamie Raskin in a recent Washington Post interview.

      At the same time, much of the public discussion of impeachment in the media continues to obscure the fact that impeachment is not so much a legal move as it is a necessary, constitutionally-prescribed political response to a dangerous president, which can only be justified as part of a political effort to weaken and then defeat this president.

    • Trump Stalks Out on Democrats, Demands End to Russia Probes

      President Donald Trump abruptly stalked out of a meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday with a flat declaration he would no longer work with Democrats unless they drop all investigations in the aftermath of the special counsel’s Trump-Russia report.

      Democrats said the walkout seemed scripted. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it all “very, very, very strange” and said she was praying for Trump and the nation.

      After turning and leaving the three-minute non-meeting with the Democratic leaders, scheduled for a discussion of U.S. infrastructure problems, Trump strode to the Rose Garden where aides had gathered reporters and TV cameras for his demand that Congress drop its investigations that are increasingly leading to talk of what he called the “i-word” — impeachment.

      Trump assailed Pelosi in particular for her comment earlier in the morning on Capitol Hill that she believed the president was engaged in a “cover-up” of the Russia probe.

    • New York just made it harder for President Trump to abuse his pardon power

      A new bill passed in the New York state legislature would curb President Donald Trump’s ability to abuse his pardoning power in order to hinder investigations into potential criminal misconduct.

      The law passed by New York’s General Assembly would make it easier for state prosecutors, in specific situations, to target individuals who had received a presidential pardon for federal crimes for which they were convicted, according to NBC News. Empire State law currently does not permit state prosecutors to pursue individuals who have been tried for the same crime by the federal government. The revisions would not change most of that, but they would allow New York prosecutors to pursue investigations into pardoned individuals who worked in a president’s administration, campaign, transition team or a non-profit or business headed by a president if a crime occurred in the state of New York.

      New York Attorney General Letitia James has pushed for this bill, arguing that it would prevent Trump from abusing his pardoning power in order to avoid accountability for alleged crimes committed within the Empire State. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also indicated he would sign the bill, which was passed by a margin of 90-52 in the General Assembly, into law.

      “The rule of law is a core pillar of our nation’s democracy, and my primary role is to uphold it and ensure that no one is above it,” James said in a statement regarding the legislative measure.

    • We’re Suing Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery to Release the Records He’s Hiding From Arizonans.

      Prosecutorial transparency serves everyone. But in Maricopa County, Arizona, secrecy trumps transparency, and the people suffer for it.
      Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery claims to be a big believer in data. As reported last year, Montgomery has blocked effective, commonsense criminal justice reform proposals from becoming law in part by criticizing them as having “no data to support” them, and as being “pet projects” “based on myths and rhetoric.”

      Given this insistence on evidence-based policy, it would be reasonable to assume that Montgomery would happily comply with a public records request seeking exactly the sort of data he wishes folks would utilize. He’s done the exact opposite.

      In October 2018, the ACLU of Arizona and investigative journalist Sean Holstege (a consultant that the ACLU of Arizona hired to write a report on Arizona prosecutors) sent Montgomery and his office a request seeking basic information about how the office functions: policies, procedures, staff rosters, budget figures, and data on how the office disposes of criminal cases.

      This was a large request, to be sure. But rather than accept Holstege’s offers to receive information on a rolling basis, Montgomery’s office delayed, stonewalled, and provided platitudes rather than answers.

    • ‘Dangerous and Disgraceful’: HUD Proposal Would Let Homeless Shelters Turn Away Trans People

      “This is a heartless attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), said in a statement denouncing the plan.

      HUD’s new proposal would revise the Equal Access Rule, first published in 2012, that bars housing programs from discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

      If the revision takes effect, operators of federally funded sex-segregated shelters can consider factors such as “privacy, safety, practical concerns, religious beliefs” and sex designations on government documents when making a determination about a person’s sex for housing purposes.

      In a Twitter thread Wednesday, NCTE noted the high rates of trans individuals who experience homelessness in their lifetime and the “disproportionate levels of discrimination” they face at shelters.

    • Swede Complains About Death Threats Over ‘Ramadan Pork and Booze’ Joke

      The joke went viral after being quoted by several popular accounts, and his Instagram page has gathered hundreds of hateful comments, apparently from Swedish Muslims that include personal insults against himself and his mother and even death threats. The latter are not limited to Fredrik himself, but also include his family. While some of the posts are racial in nature, others describe in detail how Fredrik, his family and relatives are to be raped and killed, according to Samhällsnytt. Following the outbreak of verbal abuse, Fredrik’s Instagram account switched into closed mode.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Unsurprisingly, Ajit Pai’s FCC Thinks The T-Mobile Sprint Merger Will Be Wonderful

      For the last year, Sprint and T-Mobile have been pushing a large number of bogus claims justifying their $26 billion competition and job-eroding megamerger. One, that the deal will create jobs (false). Two, that the deal is necessary to deploy fifth-gen (5G) wireless (false). Three, that reducing the number of major wireless competitors from four to three will somehow create more competition (false, just ask Canadians or the Irish how that works out in practice).

      There’s really no debate over whether such significant consolidation is bad for the market, consumers, and employees. You need only look to 30 years of US telecom history to discover that such growth for growth’s sake uniformly results in less competition, in turn resulting in higher prices, fewer jobs, and worse customer support. It’s a major reason everybody hates Comcast. It’s also easy to find a long, long list of companies that made all manner of pie in the sky promises pre-merger, only to fail utterly to adhere to any of them.

      It’s a major reason why similar deals–both AT&T’s attempted acquisition of T-Mobile in 2011 and Sprint’s attempted merger in 2014–were blocked by regulators, something that helped drive more competition to market.

    • DOJ Staffers Think T-Mobile’s Merger Benefit Claims Are Nonsense

      History and antitrust data is pretty clear on this point: when you reduce the overall number of major competitors in telecom, the end result is almost always higher prices, fewer jobs, and worse service. Growth for growth’s sake may be wonderful for investors and executives over the short term, but over the longer term it’s immensely harmful. You need only look at the US Telecom sector; one of the most despised, uncompetitive, and aggressively terrible sectors in all of American industry. That we refuse to learn that mindless consolidation is harmful directly reflects our refusal to learn from history.

      Time and time again, telecom companies promise that somehow this merger will finally fix the universe of sectors problems caused by…mindless merger mania. And time and time again, these telecom giants fail utterly to follow through on their promises, using the reduction in consolidation (and regulatory apathy) to jack up prices and lag on innovation and network expansion.

      The fact that T-Mobile CEO John Legere plays a hip Millennial on Periscope and sometimes says “fuck” on Twitter doesn’t change this equation. A major reason T-Mobile was so competitive and disruptive is (and “government is incapable of ever doing good” folks like to ignore this bit of history) because the DOJ blocked AT&T’s attempted 2011 acquisition of the company, a decision based not only on the evidence that such consolidation would hurt consumers, but because the companies involved made a wide variety of merger benefit claims that were downright preposterous.

    • Broadband Monopolies Are Acting Like Old Phone Monopolies. Good Thing Solutions to That Problem Already Exist

      The future of competition in high-speed broadband access looks bleak. A vast majority of homes only have their cable monopoly as their choice for speeds in excess of 100 mbps and small ISPs and local governments are carrying the heavy load of deploying fiber networks that surpass gigabit cable networks. Research now shows that these new monopolies have striking similarities to the telephone monopolies of old. But we don’t have to repeat the past; we’ve already seen how laws can promoted competition and broke monopolies.

      In the United States, high-speed fiber deployment is low and slow. EFF decided to look into this problem, and we now have a research report by the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic (TLPC) on behalf of EFF that details the history of our telecom competition policies, why they came into existence with the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and the FCC’s mistakes—starting in 2005—that eroded the law and has given us a high-speed broadband access monopoly that disproportionately impacts low income and rural Americans.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Judge finds Qualcomm violated anti-trust law; company to appeal

      American multinational semiconductor and telecommunications equipment company Qualcomm has been found to have illegally suppressed competition for smartphone processors by holding out the threat of limiting supplies and obtaining excessive licensing fees.

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