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05.27.19

Social ‘Studies’ and Sponsored ‘Articles’ Cannot Hide the Fact That EPO is a Terrible Employer Which Currently Harms Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

So-called ‘social’

The Glassdoor EPO overview

Summary: Superficial gloss and new glassy buildings won’t make staff happy; nor can they ensure that the EPO repairs itself in an age of patent maximalism and sheer disregard for human rights, the law, and even its very own staff

THERE IS no reason to take any pleasure in the sad fate of the European Patent Office (EPO). It was supposed to help Europe compete, it was supposed to make Europe look better and it was originally intended to become a factor of unity, predating even the EU. Over the past decade or so the EPO became a “model organisation” for dysfunction and abuse. The EPO thinks it can throw money at the problem, specifically a combination of public relations (PR) and self-serving ‘studies’ with which to complement the PR. It’s not working; in fact, it merely insults the staff (which feels like it’s being lied about in these PR campaigns).

Days ago Novagraaf (law firm) did this puff piece about the 'study' (paid for by the subject of assessment) on “link between IP and SME success,” as Novagraaf put it. When António Campinos came from EUIPO to the EPO (the two entities behind this ‘study’) he wasn’t shy to promote European software patents, no matter if they’re against caselaw, the EPC, SMEs and so forth. As recently as yesterday we still see tweets like this one: “What does the future look like for #blockchain and patenting?”

“The EPO cannot just carry on raising targets and lowering patent quality; a patent office with no sensitivity/priority for quality will perish. Its patents will, in due course, be perceived as worthless (invalid, inadmissible in courts). Applicants will stop applying.”Well, “blockchain” is being used as a weasel word for software patents with a database somewhere in the program. Team UPC is fine with it. One of these people has just said: “The @EPOorg has published comprehensive report on the blockchain and patenting conference held in The Hague on December 4, 2018″ (conference filled with patent trolls).

The EPO cannot just carry on raising targets and lowering patent quality; a patent office with no sensitivity/priority for quality will perish. Its patents will, in due course, be perceived as worthless (invalid, inadmissible in courts). Applicants will stop applying.

EPO staff is quite likely going on strike a month from now (less than a year after Battistelli’s departure). We saw 2 posts about it (except SUEPO’s own). There’s something curious about the post which allowed comments; after SUEPO had linked to it on Monday morning we noticed lots of troll-feeding; trolls need to be ignored. Provocation for attention is their goal. Comment #7 is pure provocation. It’s the pattern of golden cage — a term also used by this employee reviewer at Glassdoor. As an employer, the EPO scores really poorly there (2.6 stars). We mentioned this before. The polarity in the rankings, however, makes one wonder if some of these are fake (faked to make the EPO not average at less than 2 stars). “Approve of CEO” is at 3% and “Recommend to a Friend” at 27%. Even if one assumes that there’s AstroTurfing in there (better and safer to give the benefit of the doubt though), the score is still rather low. It’s hard to offset it.

Glossy brochures and EIA events won’t be enough to cover this shame. Maybe only distract from it.

Links 27/5/2019: EU Elections, Android Alternatives and Second RC of Next Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 10:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Intel Core i9 9900KS Allowing 5.0GHz All-Core, Icelake News Coming This Week

      Intel has jumped ahead of AMD and NVIDIA news expected tomorrow in their Computex 2019 keynotes with some pre-announcements.

      Intel will be revealing more news on Tuesday but in looking to steal some of the excitement ahead of the NVIDIA and AMD announcements on Monday, today they made some early remarks ahead of this annual Taipei trade show.

    • Running Deep Learning Models On Intel Hardware? It’s Time To Consider A Different OS

      Firstly, Intel has done extensive work to make the Xeon family of processors highly optimized for AI. The Intel Xeon Scalable processors outsmart GPUs in accelerating the training on large datasets.

      Intel is telling its customers that they don’t need expensive GPUs until they meet a threshold. Most of the deep learning training can be effectively done on CPUs that cost a fraction of their GPU counterparts.

      Beyond the marketing messages and claims, Intel went onto prove that their deep learning stack performs better than NVIDIA GPU-based stack. Recently, Intel published a benchmark to show its leadership in deep learning. Intel Xeon Scalable processers trained a deep learning network with 7878 images per second on ResNet-50 outperforming 7844 images per second on NVIDIA Tesla V100.

      Intel’s performance optimization doesn’t come just from its CPUs. It is delivered by a purpose-built software stack that is highly optimized at various levels. From the operating system to the TensorFlow framework, Intel has tweaked multiple layers of software to deliver unmatched performance.

      To ease the process of running this end-to-end stack, Intel has turned to one of its open source projects called Clear Linux OS. Clear Linux project was started as a purpose-built, container-optimized, and lightweight operating system. It was started with the premise that the OS running a container doesn’t need to perform all the functions of a traditional OS. Container Linux, the OS developed by CoreOS (now a part of Red Hat) followed the same philosophy.

      Within a short span, Clear Linux gained popularity among open source developers. Intel kept improving the OS, making it relevant to run modern workloads such as machine learning training jobs, AI inferencing, analytics and edge computing.

    • Open source and enterprise software unite

      Cripsey adds: “Open source tools predominate on the Dev part of the journey, but are less prevalent on the Ops part of the journey. The ability to automate across the value stream is a key element of any DevOps journey. Organisations allocate too much time and other resources on manual testing, which is why the automatic deployment of work coming out of the Dev environment is so important. Automation is more reliable, more effective and quicker than manual testing. If you’re going to be on a continuous Dev and continuous integration drive, automation is a prerequisite to achieve that. Robotic process automation is a part of that.”

    • The enterprise service mesh ecosystem comes into focus

      The service mesh is rounding into maturity in 2019, with all of the major cloud providers offering a means for developers to unify traffic flow management and access policy enforcement across their microservices, regardless of where they reside.

      As we predicted late last year, service mesh is set to be an increasingly important technology for companies looking to leverage cloud computing and, more specifically, containers and Kubernetes.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.2-rc2

      Hey, what’s to say? Fairly normal rc2, no real highlights – I think
      most of the diff is the SPDX updates.

      Who am I kidding? The highlight of the week was clearly Finland
      winning the ice hockey world championships.

      So once you sober up from the celebration, go test,

      Linus

    • Linux 5.2-rc2 Kernel Released As The “Golden Lions”

      Linus Torvalds has just released Linux 5.2-rc2 as the first kernel test release following the closure of the merge window last week and subsequent RC1.

    • Linux Plumbers Earlybird Registration Quota Reached, Regular Registration Opens 30 June

      A few days ago we added more capacity to the earlybird registration quota, but that too has now filled up, so your next opportunity to register for Plumbers will be Regular Registration on 30 June … or alternatively the call for presentations to the refereed track is still open and accepted talks will get a free pass.

  • Applications

    • 15 Best Free Linux Bioinformatics Tools

      Bioinformatics has been defined in many different ways, but it is common ground to regard this discipline as the application of mathematics, computing and statistics to the analysis of biological information. The objective of bioinformatics is to enable the finding of new biological insights, and to create a broader, more critical view from which unifying principles in biology can be perceived.

      Bioinformatics is very important in the field of human genome research. It has become crucial for large-scale measurement technologies such as DNA sequencing, microarrays, and metabolomics. The field of bioinformatics has been aided significantly by Linux-based hardware and software. There are a number of Linux distributions which offer an integrated bioinformatics workstation. The popular distribution Bio-Linux packages hundreds of bioinformatics programs spanning a number of different fields.

      There’s a wide selection of Linux bioinformatics tools released under an open source license. This article identifies our favorite tools which are extremely useful for anyone interested in sequence analysis, molecular modelling, molecular dynamics, phylogenetic analysis and more. We hope this feature offers a useful resource for biologists.

    • 10 Best Free Linux Docks

      Docks are utility software designed to basically make launching applications and navigating between app windows as easy as possible alongside beautifying the entire process.

      They implement animations, app icon shadows, customization options, widgets, etc. in different ways but they all aspire to one goal – boost productivity.

    • Iustin Pop: Corydalis v0.4 released!

      Today I managed to do two things that I’m proud of: first, I cast my vote in the Romanian Euro-Parliament elections and the referendum (it makes me cringe that we have to vote about such a thing, in 2019; or, it makes me happy we can vote about it, take your pick). Since this is not a political blog, let’s skip my rants about that, and move on to the subject at hand: second, after what seems like an eternity, I’ve finally managed to put together a new Corydalis release. Why so long? Well…

      At first, after the previous release (in March last year), I stopped for a while, which turned into ~6 months of no activity, and only in October I really started working on it again. And then, once I re-started working on it, I had three main things I was working on in parallel, and only now I managed to finish them all. April/May felt like a long, hard push to get things finished, and I’m very happy with the result.

    • Proprietary

      • Insync 3 Beta Release Brings OneDrive Sync to Linux [Ed: Should we celebrate the passage of files from GNU/Linux to Microsoft and the NSA (PRISM)?]

        It’s finally possible to sync OneDrive files on Linux using the third-party sync tool Insync 3.

        Developers behind the paid, proprietary cloud storage syncing tool, which has long boasted robust Google Drive integration, announced plans to support Microsoft OneDrive back in February this year.

        Fast forward a few months and that OneDrive support is ready for testing via a new dedicated beta build for Windows, macOS and Linux desktops.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Second Earth, the prototype base-building game from the developer of Broforce has a big new build up

        Free to play currently while in development, Second Earth is an incredibly promising base-building and defence game from Free Lives (Broforce).

        For those who’ve not heard of it, the basic idea is that you go through missions and build up your defences, to hold off against waves of alien bugs coming to destroy you. It’s something I briefly talked about back in March and I came away supremely impressed especially since they have Linux support in very early.

      • 2D dodge-em-up ‘JUMPGRID’ adds an addictive infinite mode, my fingers hurt

        JUMPGRID, the 2D fast-paced game where all you do is dodge obstacles is madly addicting and the new infinite mode is fantastic.

        [...]

        Infinite Mode gameplay on Ubuntu 19.04…

      • The latest ’7 Days to Die’ experimental build allows more graphics tweaking, running nicely

        The Fun Pimps have released a new experimental build of their survival game 7 Days to Die, with it some new options you can tweak to get a much better experience.

        It’s no secret that 7 Days has been a bit of a system hog, it hasn’t historically performed well but they’re finally making progress on that front. With the “Alpha 17.4 Experimental B4″ release put out a few days ago, it now allows you to disable SS Reflections and that one single option makes it perform much nicer while off (and it still looks good).

        Doing my own tests, turning it off gives an instant boost of 10-20FPS depending on where you are and what you’re looking at. Times where it would often dip down hard to 40FPS and below, are now mostly for me sitting around 55-60FPS and the way the game feels is a huge amount smoother. Thanks to that, I’ve been able to give it a run on High settings and have a very smooth ride.

      • AMDVLK 2019.Q2.4 Brings Steam Play Game Fixes, New Vulkan Extensions

        For open-source fans, adding to AMD’s exciting day also happens to be a new AMDVLK open-source Vulkan driver update.

        As it’s been several weeks since their last code drop, this latest routine code push for their official open-source Vulkan API driver sees several notable additions.

      • Quake II RTX to release June 6th, first 3 levels free for everyone and source code will be up too

        NVIDIA have announced that Quake II RTX, the ray-traced remaster of Quake II is going to release in full with Linux support on June 6th. They’ve said that anyone will be able to download it and try out the first three levels for free. If you own Quake II, you will be able to play through the campaign in full and play against others online.

      • NVIDIA Releasing Quake II RTX Open-Source In Two Weeks

        NVIDIA announced the EGX platform from Computex 2019 for accelerating AI at the edge. But if that news doesn’t interest you, they also announced in June will be the formal Quake II RTX ray-traced game port release and will be open-source.

        Since the start of the year we’ve seen work happening on an RTX / VK_NV_ray_tracing port of Quake II that pairs nicely with NVIDIA’s latest RTX Turing graphics cards. Back during GDC they were also teasing this Quake II RTX work while now they announced it will see a formal release on 6 June.

      • Intel Lines Up Initial Graphics Driver Changes Slated For Linux 5.3

        Being well past the period of submitting new feature material for Linux 5.2, on Friday the Intel Linux graphics driver developers sent in their initial slew of patches to DRM-Next of material they want to have in the Linux 5.3 kernel.

      • Kerbal Space Program is getting a big expansion named Breaking Ground, releasing this week

        I haven’t really kept up with Kerbal Space Program so I’m a little late on finding this out. On May 30th, the huge Breaking Ground expansion is going to be released.

        The theme of this expansion is all about exploration, experimentation and technological breakthroughs. It’s introducing a bunch of new equipment, some of which you will deploy onto the surface of a planet to do science which sounds fun. There’s also new features that will be scattered across the surface of planets for you to study, along with a bunch of new building parts for your craft like hinges, pistons, rotors and more.

      • Gaming-Focused WonderOS To Allow PC And Console Streaming On Android

        The gaming-focused WonderOS is finally in active development after tip-toeing for several years. The operating system belongs to the startup “Wonder”. According to the company’s CEO, Wonder is an “all-in-one” gaming platform. Almost everyone currently working on the team has a rich experience in the gaming industry.

        According to its website, Wonder currently has ex-employees from Google, Microsoft, SEGA, Razer, Xbox, Sony, etc. Together, the team wants to transform your Android smartphone into the only device you’ll ever play games on.

      • AMD Announces Ryzen 3000 Series, Radeon RX 5700
      • AMD Ryzen R9 3900x CPU Launched Along With PCIe 4.0 and X570 Chipset
      • AMD officially announce the “Zen 2″ Ryzen 3 series & new RDNA GPU architecture + Intel tease new CPU

        For those looking at their next upgrade, both AMD and Intel have made announcements recently and there’s a lot of big stuff coming.

        On the AMD side, they’ve officially announce the starting line-up of the Zen 2 core units that make up the Ryzen 3 series processors. To go along with this will be the new X570 chipset for the AM4 socket which supports PCIe 4.0.

      • 2D dodge-em-up ‘JUMPGRID’ adds an addictive endless mode, my fingers hurt

        JUMPGRID, the 2D fast-paced game where all you do is dodge obstacles is madly addicting and the new endless mode is fantastic.

      • The RPG ‘Pathfinder: Kingmaker’ is getting a free Enhanced Edition update next month + new DLC

        Pathfinder: Kingmaker, the party-based RPG from Owlcat Games and Deep Silver is going to expand with a free Enhanced Edition and another DLC.

        They say it’s going to include plenty of “gameplay-enriching content additions” along with the usual quality of life improvements to existing features, new abilities and ways to build your character, a new Slayer class, new items and weapons, improved balance especially in the beginning and last two chapters, an improved kingdom management system, an increased variety to the random encounters on the map and so on.

      • MidBoss, the unique body-snatching roguelike turns 2 with a big sale and future plans details

        MidBoss is a game we’ve covered here numerous times, mainly due to how unique it is. You take down enemies, take their body and it’s pretty amusing.

        The developer, Kitsune Games, has supported Linux rather nicely and now that MidBoss is over two years old they’ve decided to put it on a big sale. Not just that, they’ve also announced a fancy sounding DLC that’s coming along with a free update for everyone. The DLC will have brand new pixel-art for all of the monsters, which will include idle animations for them too so the DLC should make the game look a lot more interesting. Also being added in the DLC is a “randomizer mode”, to make repeated runs in the game vastly different.

      • FOSS game engine ‘CorsixTH’ for Theme Hospital update 0.63 is out

        The first major release for the FOSS game engine in some time, CorsixTH 0.63 is out following the recent release candidate build. CorsixTH might not be “finished” but it’s incredibly playable and does provide a better experience (mostly) over running the original Theme Hospital.

      • Railway Empire has another update and it’s off to France in the latest DLC out now

        There appears to be no stopping this train, Railway Empire continues to see plenty of post-release support and extra optional content.

        Firstly, the latest “Community Update” is out taking feedback from (you guessed it) the community of players. They’ve introduced modding support to DLC scenarios, increased the total number of trains and stations you can have, new tooltips, you can skip the current music track using the new “P” hotkey, the train list will actually show problems employees have, new train list filtering options, train speed reduced if they’re missing supplies and lots of other nice quality of life updates.

      • A Linux version of the mind-bending multi-dimensional ‘Unbound: Worlds Apart’ will come at release

        Unbound: Worlds Apart from Alien Pixel Studios is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, this hand-crafted puzzler looks like it could melt my mind with the portal system.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Krita Interview with Anna Hannon

        I opted for trying Linux Mint, and tested Krita as my Photoshop replacement. Love at first sight! I currently run Manjaro KDE and it continues to be my only painting software (even on my Microsoft surface).

      • KDE Developer Documentation Update: Far from the Endgame

        It has been nearly three months since I embarked on an adventure in the land known as dev docs. And while the set period for that work is coming to a close, the truth is that the journey has really only just begun. Just like the pioneers of old, the first important step is to get to survey the land and map it for future adventurers.

        The KDE community’s developer documentation isn’t exactly new territory but, through the years, it has grown from a garden to a huge forest with only a brave few doing the work to keep things from getting out of hand. They could use a helping hand.

      • KDE Craft Packager on macOS

        In Craft, to create a package, we can use craft –package <blueprint-name> after the compiling and the installing of a library or an application with given blueprint name.

        On macOS, MacDMGPackager is the packager used by Craft. The MacDylibBundleris used in MacDMGPackager to handle the dependencies.

        In this article, I’ll give a brief introduction of the two classes and the improvement which I’ve done for my GSoC project.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.34 Revamps the Wallpaper Picker (And Fixes a Longstanding Issue Too)

        The upcoming release of GNOME 3.34 will finally solve a long standing deficiency in the desktop’s background wallpaper management.

        Now, I’ve written about various quirks in GNOME wallpaper handling before, but it’s the lack of option to pick a random wallpaper from a random directory via the Settings > Background panel that is, by far, my biggest bug bear.

        Ubuntu 19.04 ships with GNOME 3.32. Here, the only wallpapers available to select via the Settings > Background section are those the system ships with and any top-level images placed in ~/Pictures — nothing else is selectable.

        So, to set a random image as a wallpaper in GNOME 3.32 I tend to ignore the background settings panel altogether and instead use the image viewer’s File > Set as background… option (or the similar Nautilus right-click setting).

        Thankfully, not for much longer!

      • Battle-cruiser operational !

        I’m currently an engineering student and during my free time I contribute to this cool open-source app called GNOME Games (or just Games for short).

        One would expect an app with that name to be some kind of collection of mini games for GNOME but you would be wrong. Games markets itself as a “games manager”, which means it automatically detects all of the games installed on your machine and lists them, such that you have all of your games nicely gathered together in one window.

      • Getting Selected for Google SoC’19

        Today is a every special day for me. In my very first try, I cracked the Google Summer of Code. I am very delighted to have been given an oppurtunity to work for GNOME Foundation.

        My task is to rebuild the GTK website. For those interested in technicalities of the project, the current website is made in PHP which is a great web language, however not so useful for creating static websites. So my job is to build a new website from scratch which uses the concept of Content Management System. I will be using Jekyll for this purpose and the website would be deployed using Gitlab’s Continuous Integration.

      • The Journey Begins

        This blog is gonna be about my journey of Google Summer of Code. It was just few months ago, when I had no idea what GSoC is or how open source development works. Randomly, I stumbled upon youtube talks about open source development. The scale and boldness of OSDG really intrigued me. My whole life I have always been fascinated by new ideas or technologies, and it is my biggest dream to be part of such flow. I always like to challenge myself with new problems and tasks. So I dived into world of open source. When I decided I wanted to contribute to some org, I started looking for different types of orgs, I came across many orgs which sounded interesting. One of them was GNOME. I have been GNOME user since I started using laptops. I have been fascinated by the vast scale of GNOME applications. I definitely wanted to contribute something to this org. I started exploring different projects within GNOME, since all of them were interesting, I filtered projects by the technology I am most comfortable with.

      • Google Summer of Code 2019 with Gnome-Gitg

        I am really excited to share with you all that this summer I will be working full-time with Gnome on the project Implement side-by side diff view on the Gitg application.

        I am really grateful to the community who considered me the right person for the job and gave me this wonderful opportunity.

      • Why you can and should apply for the board

        It’s GNOME board elections time!

        Community members can apply to become GNOME Foundation directors, and the process is quite easy, it’s just about sending an email to two mailing lists. We can improve on the number of participation though, and having a good amount of applicants is important for having a healthy foundation – the more applicants there are, the more likely that different views, skills and working areas are represented.

        I believe one of the big factors of not having high participation in elections is the lack of knowledge of what the board does and how much of a commitment it is. Because of that, we question whether we are ready for taking on the position. While minutes published by the board are an excellent tool (and I really need to thank Phillip and Federico here), minutes usually don’t tell the whole story.

  • Distributions

    • Antergos Linux Has Been Discontinued, All Users Will Be Migrated to Arch Linux

      The development behind the Antergos Linux operating system announced the discontinuation of the project, as they decided to step down from developing this Arch Linux-based GNU/Linux distribution.

      Created more than seven years ago by Alexandre Filgueira, Gustau Castells, and Dustin Falgout, Antergos Linux was first called Cinnarch as it aimed to be an unofficial Cinnamon flavor of the popular and powerful Arch Linux operating system. A year later, it was renamed from Cinnarch to Antergos, which is a Galician word meaning “to link the past with the present.”

      Antergos wanted to provide the Linux community with a modern, beautiful, and powerful computer operating system that is easy to install, configure, and use. Antergos Linux used its own graphical installer, as oppossed to Arch Linux, which still doesn’t have a GUI installed, those making the installation harder for newcomers, those bringing Arch Linux to the masses.

    • Reviews

      • Review: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0

        My experiment with RHEL 8 got off to a rough start. Going through the on-line registration process produced some errors and ended up with me getting the wrong ISO which, in turn, resulted in some confusion and delays in getting the distribution installed.

        Things then began to look up as RHEL 8 did a good job of detecting my system’s hardware, registered itself without incident and offered good performance on physical hardware. I was particularly pleased that the distribution appears to detect whether our video card will work well with Wayland and either displays or hides Wayland sessions in response. I did have some trouble with the GNOME Classic Wayland session and GNOME Shell on X.Org was a bit sluggish. However, the Classic session on X.Org and GNOME Shell on Wayland both worked very well. In short, it’s worthwhile to explore each of the four desktop options to see what works best for the individual.

        The big issues I ran into with RHEL were with regards to software management. Both GNOME Software and the Cockpit screen for managing applications failed to work at all, whether run as root or a regular user. When using the command line dnf package manager, the utility failed to perform searches unless run with sudo and occasionally crashed. In a similar vein, the Bash feature that checks for matching packages when the user types a command name it doesn’t recognize does not work and produces a lengthy error.

        There were some security features or design choices that I think will mostly appeal to enterprise users, but are less favourable in home or small office environments. Allowing remote root logins by default on the Workstation role rubs me the wrong way, though I realize it is often useful when setting up servers. The enforced complex passwords are similarly better suited to offices than home users. One feature which I think most people will enjoy is SELinux which offers an extra layer of security, thought I wish the Cockpit feature to toggle SELinux had worked to make trouble-shooting easier.

        I was not surprised that RHEL avoids shipping some media codecs. The company has always been cautious in this regard. I had hoped that trying to find and install the codecs would have provided links to purchase the add-ons or connect us with a Red Hat-supplied repository. Instead we are redirected through a chain of Fedora documentation until we come to a third-party website which currently does not offer the desired packages.

        Ultimately, while RHEL does some things well, such as hardware support, desktop performance, and providing stable (if conservative) versions of applications, I found my trial highly frustrating. Many features simply do not work, or crash, or use a lot of resources, or need to be worked around to make RHEL function as a workstation distribution. Some people may correctly point out RHEL is mostly targeting servers rather than workstations, but there too there are a number of problems. Performance and stability are provided, but the issues I ran into with Cockpit, permission concerns, and command line package management are all hurdles for me when trying to run RHEL in a server role.

        I find myself looking forward to the launch of CentOS 8 (which will probably arrive later this year), as CentOS 8 uses the same source code as RHEL, but is not tied to the same subscription model and package repositories. I am curious to see how much of a practical effect this has on the free, community version of the same software.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations and Cloud Strategies Conference Frankfurt 2019

        In a week’s time, team SUSE will be heading to Frankfurt, Germany for this year’s Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations and Cloud Strategies Conference. Hundreds of attendees from all around Europe will be paying Kap Europa Congress Centre in Frankfurt a visit – to network, speak to exhibitors, pick up valuable nuggets of information from the Gartner analysts, attend sessions to learn more about the latest happenings in IT infrastructure and operations and enjoy all that the beautiful city of Frankfurt has to offer.

    • Slackware Family

      • April ’19 release of OpenJDK 8

        Early May I was confined to my bed, immobilized on my side and under medication, after I had incurred a second back hernia in four months’ time. And so I missed the announcement on the OpenJDK mailing list about the new icedtea-3.12.0.
        Why again is that important? Well, the IcedTea framework is a software harness to compile OpenJDK with ease. Andrew Hughes (aka GNU/Andrew) who is the release manager still did not update his blog with this announcment, but nevertheless: the new Java8 that we will get is OpenJDK 8u212_b04. This release syncs the OpenJDK support in IcedTea to the official April 2019 security fixes for Java.
        I built Slackware packages for Java 8 Update 212 so that you do not have to succumb to the official Oracle binaries which are compiled on God-knows what OS.

    • Fedora

      • 5 GNOME keyboard shortcuts to be more productive

        For some people, using GNOME Shell as a traditional desktop manager may be frustrating since it often requires more action of the mouse. In fact, GNOME Shell is also a desktop manager designed for and meant to be driven by the keyboard. Learn how to be more efficient with GNOME Shell with these 5 ways to use the keyboard instead of the mouse.

      • Matthew Miller (Fedora’s Project Leader) Fields Reddit Questions

        We got the following interesting news from Reddit website.

        Matthew Miller, Fedora’s Project Leader, has discussed with the community and answered all kind of questions via Reddit.

        he directly answered users questions in the public forum and it was happened for third time.

        He requested users to ask any questions except IBM deal.

        Users were asked many questions in various topics.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • KTorrent Available to Install via Snap in Ubuntu

            KTorrent, full-featured BitTorrent application by KDE, now is officially available as Snap package. Which means you can now easily install the latest KTorrent in Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 18.04, and higher, and keep it always updated.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 4 open source mobile apps for Nextcloud

    I’ve been using Nextcloud (and before that, ownCloud), an open source alternative to file syncing and storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive, for many years. It’s been both reliable and useful, and it respects my privacy.

    While Nextcloud is great at both syncing and storage, it’s much more than a place to dump your files. Thanks to applications that you can fold into Nextcloud, it becomes more of an information hub than a storage space.

    While I usually interact with Nextcloud using the desktop client or in a browser, I’m not always at my computer (or any computer that I trust). So it’s important that I can work with Nextcloud using my LineageOS-powered smartphone or tablet.

  • Kiwi TCMS needs your help winning OpenAwards 2019

    Thanks to you, our community supporters, Anton Sankov and Alex Todorov took the lead at OpenExpo 2019 CfP votes. We need your help one more time. Our team has submitted participation in ‘Best Tech Community’ and ‘Best Success Story’ categories.

    Unfortunately our submission into ‘Best Success Story’ has been pulled down! We used that category to share the story from a dead open source project into a thriving open source community with lots of users and contributors and to highlight some of our milestones.

  • How startups can grow their customer experience with an efficient open source technology

    - Omnichannel Digital Experience Platform (Liferay, Drupal, etc)
    - Web Server (Ngnix, Apache)
    - Application Server (JBoss, Glassfish),
    - RDBMS & NoSQL Database (MySql, Postgres, MariaDB, MongoDB, Couchbase, etc) and
    - Search Stack (like Elastic, Solar, Lucen, etc)

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Paris HackFest

      The LibreOffice Paris HackFest 2019 will take place on the weekend of July 5th-6th, at le 137, which is at 137 Boulevard Magenta, Paris 10e, France. The event is sponsored by INNO3, hosting the hackfest in their building, and The Document Foundation, providing reimbursement for travels and accommodations.

      LibreOffice Paris HackFest will start on Friday at 10AM. During the day there will be an informal meeting of the French community, to discuss local activities, while developers and other volunteers will hack the LibreOffice code. The venue will be available until 2AM. On Saturday the venue will open at 10AM, to allow people to continue working, and share hackfest results. The event will officially end at 8PM, but on Sunday there will be a city tour.

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD Is Seeing Better Performance Following A Big VM Rework

      DragonFlyBSD lead developer Matthew Dillon has been reworking the virtual memory (VM) infrastructure within their kernel and it’s leading to measurable performance improvements.

      This mailing list post outlines the work around the kernel’s VM pmap code being restructured that results in possible memory conservation, helps with processes sharing lots of memory, and enhances concurrent page fault performance.

  • Programming/Development

    • Keith Packard’s Snek Adopts More Python Scoping

      Python’s implicit variable declarations are tricky and Snek had them slightly wrong. Fixing this meant figuring out how they work in Python, then figuring out the simplest possible expression to make the result fit in the ROM.

    • Introduction to Python 3.8 new feature — “The Walrus Operator”

      Python 3.8 is in the development phase (currently in alpha phase) and it’s expected to be released in September 2019. You can read the full documentation here. As expected, it has included a lot of features — assignment expressions, position only parameters, a lot of additions to builtin modules (improved modules), etc.

    • PyDev of the Week: Sean McManus

      This week we welcome Sean McManus (@musicandwords) as our PyDev of the Week! Sean is the author of several books, including Mission Python: Code a Space Adventure Game!, which was reviewed on this site in March. There are free chapters from his book available here. You can learn more about Sean on his website. Let’s take some time to get to know him better!

    • Dirk Eddelbuettel: nanotime 0.2.4

      Another minor maintenance release of the nanotime package for working with nanosecond timestamps arrived on CRAN yesterday.

      nanotime uses the RcppCCTZ package for (efficient) high(er) resolution time parsing and formatting up to nanosecond resolution, and the bit64 package for the actual integer64 arithmetic. Initially implemented using the S3 system, it now uses a more rigorous S4-based approach thanks to a rewrite by Leonardo Silvestri.

    • PyCon Lithuania 2019 and a keynote on “Citizen Science with Python”

      I’ve had the great pleasure of attending PyConLT 2019 – my first trip to Lithuania. I had no idea what to expect (I’ve never been to this part of Europe) – Vilnius is a lovely city full of lovely Pythonistas. There’s a bunch of lovely art hanging underneath bridges, an amazing Soviet Palace of Arts and Sports and a number of castles – it really is very lovely here.

    • How to write a good C main function
    • What is your favorite music to listen to while coding?
    • Python time Module
    • Build Your Own Internet Radio Receiver

      When I get home at night, I like to tune into the world with the push of a button. I’ve lived in lots of different places—from Dunedin, New Zealand, to Santa Fe, New Mexico—and in each town, I’ve come to love a radio station (usually a community radio station) that embodies the spirit of the place. With the push of a button, I can get a bit back in sync with each of these places and also visit new communities, thanks to internet radio.

      Why build your own internet radio receiver? One option, of course, is simply to use an app for a receiver. However, I’ve found that the most common apps don’t keep their focus on the task at hand, and are increasingly distracted by offering additional social-networking services. And besides, I want to listen now. I don’t want to check into my computer or phone, log in yet again, and endure the stress of recalling YAPW (Yet Another PassWord). I’ve also found that the current offering of internet radio boxes falls short of my expectations. Like I said, I’ve lived in a lot of places—more than two or four or eight. I want a lot of buttons, so I can tune in to a radio station with just one gesture. Finally, I’ve noticed that streams are increasingly problematic if I don’t go directly to the source. Often, streams chosen through a “middle man” start with an ad or blurb that is tacked on as a preamble. Or sometimes the “middle man” might tie me to a stream of lower audio quality than the best being served up.

      So, I turned to building my own internet radio receiver—one with lots of buttons that allow me to “tune in” without being too pushy. In this article, I share my experience. In principle, it should be easy—you just need a Linux distro, a ship to sail her on and an external key pad for a rudder. In practice, it’s not too hard, but there are a few obstacles along the course that I hope to help you navigate.

    • Asynchronous Tasks in Django with Redis and Celery

      In this tutorial I will be providing a general understanding of why celery message queue’s are valuable along with how to utilize celery in conjunction with Redis in a Django application. To demonstrate implementation specifics I will build a minimalistic image processing application that generates thumbnails of images submitted by users.

    • A Data Catalog For Your PyData Projects

Leftovers

  • Science

    • The SAT’s New ‘Adversity Score’ Is a Poor Fix for a Problematic Test

      The College Board recently revealed a new “adversity score” that it plans to use as part of the SAT in order to reflect students’ social and economic background.

      The mere fact that the College Board sees a need for an “adversity score” is a tacit admission that the SAT isn’t fair for all students. But will the new score – formally called the Environmental Context Dashboard – truly capture the challenges that students face?

      As an education researcher who focuses on matters of equity, I believe the new adversity score will be an inadequate remedy for a test that has been inequitable from the start.

      Here’s why.

  • Hardware

    • Arm Announces Cortex-A77 & Mali-G77 Valhall

      In addition to AMD announcing their Ryzen 3000 line-up, Arm also used today at Computex 2019 to announce their new Cortex processor as well as a new Mali graphics processor and machine learning chip.

      The Arm Cortex-A77 is their newest processor that promises 20% better IPC performance over the A76. The Cortex-A77 is destined for smartphones and laptops while being mostly an incremental upgrade over the A76. More details on the Cortex-A77 via this blog post.

    • If Huawei Loses ARM’s Chip Designs, It’s Toast

      It’s important to clarify that nothing at this point is certain, or permanent. The BBC first reported ARM’s move Wednesday morning, citing an internal memo that noted ARM’s use of “US origin technology,” which makes it subject to a sweeping ban put in place by the Trump administration. ARM finally confirmed the ban Wednesday afternoon. As it did with Google, though, the US Commerce Department could grant a waiver that allows ARM to continue servicing Huawei. And broader tensions between China and the US could otherwise resolve, potentially taking some of the pressure off Huawei.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • 7 Reasons You May Want to Become a Vegetarian

      Global consumption of beef, lamb and goat is expected to rise by almost 90 percent between 2010 and 2050. But that doesn’t mean you need to eat more meat. In fact, recent news from Washington gives you even less confidence in your meat: Pork inspections may be taken over by the industry itself, if a Trump administration proposal goes into effect, putting tests for deadly pathogens into the hands of line workers.

      If that weren’t enough to make you think twice about your meat consumption, here are seven more reasons you might want to become a vegetarian — or at least move a little in that direction.

    • Why I Got Arrested For #MedicareForAll

      A few weeks ago I was in handcuffs, one of six People’s Action members arrested at Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office in Washington, D.C.. We engaged in a peaceful protest after we asked Mitch to step out of the way of #MedicareForAll, and he refused.

      Why was I there, willing to put my body on the line? Because I believe health care is a human right, and I don’t want to see any more lives sacrificed to health care profits.

      To those who say we can’t afford to offer universal health care, I say we can’t afford NOT to – because it’s not ok to let people die because they don’t have money for health care or medicine.

      I’m Mary Gerisch from Vermont, and this is my health care story.

      I grew up in Detroit, where my mom was a nurse, and my dad a cardiologist – he founded the first free clinic there in the 1940s, after a woman died on the lawn of a hospital. They wouldn’t take her because she couldn’t pay for services. He knew that wasn’t right.

      My parents – who spent their whole lives offering care to those who needed it – were also denied coverage after they were nearly killed in a deck collapse at a Salvation Army fundraiser in Atlanta. My dad’s head injury kept in him in the hospital for six months; my mom was wheelchair-bound with a severed spinal cord.

      Their insurance company called these “preexisting conditions.” My parents lost their house, and I lost mine, to pay for their medical bills. That’s not right.

    • Would Overturning Abortion Rights Turn Back Clock to 1973?

      A wave of state abortion bans has set off speculation: What would happen if Roe v. Wade, the ruling establishing abortion rights nationwide, were overturned?

      Although far from a certainty, even with increased conservative clout on the Supreme Court, a reversal of Roe would mean abortion policy would revert to the states, and many would be eager to impose bans.

    • Abortion Rights are Human Rights!

      A woman’s right to bodily autonomy is not to be trifled with. These regressive laws being passed by our out of touch state government to restrict women’s rights will not go by without hearing our voices!

      Sexism and women’s oppression are blights on our society that go deep. We are seeing them institutionalized in front of our very eyes. We show that SOLIDARITY is stronger than their repressive attacks on women! Women are not second class citizens!

    • Monsanto, Scientific Deception and Cancer

      Money may not be able to buy the purest love, but it can buy the best, life-ending cancer. For Monsanto, giant of rule and misrule in matters of genetically modified crops, known for bullying practices towards farmers, things have not been so rosy of late. Ever the self-promoter of saving the world an agricultural headache (biotech crops being the earth’s touted nutritional salvation), the company has run into a set of legal snags that have raided its funds and risk sinking it, along with Bayer AG, the company that bought it last year for $63 billion.

      A spate of legal cases have begun entering the folklore of resistance to the company. Central to it is the use of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used weedkiller marketed since 1974 as Roundup, and a core chemical in the agrochemical industry. In 2015, it was deemed by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) “probably carcinogenic to humans” in addition to being genotoxic and clearly carcinogenic to animals.

      The legal train commenced last August, when a state court in San Francisco found for Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a 46-year-old former school groundskeeper, ordering $289 million in damages. (The amount was subsequently reduced to $78 million.) The jury had been satisfied that the use of the Roundup weedkiller, with its glyphosate constitution, had, in fact, been the cause of Johnson’s cancer. They also found that the company had paid insufficient heed to warning the plaintiff of the impending dangers, also acting, in the process, with “malice or oppression”.

    • Monsanto is Evil: a Glyph
    • ‘Gaming Disorder’ Is Officially An Illness, Says World Health Organization

      There is always the possibility of having a gaming disorder wrapped up in depression and it can be difficult to separate the two.

      Several gamers get defensive about gaming disorder or discard the theory altogether. This is probably because they haven’t experienced the self-destructive dependence on gaming that actual gaming disorder patients suffer from.

      But with the inclusion of ICD-11, people who are actually suffering from it can get proper treatment for this kind of behavior, which is overall a positive thing for the world.

    • The Life-saving Work of Abortion Funds

      Amy Irvin had her first abortion when she was in college. Young and wanting to be near her support network of friends, she drove from Atlanta, Georgia, where she was working for the summer, back to her college town of Cincinnati, Ohio, for the procedure. Twenty years later, she would have another unplanned pregnancy, and another abortion, while she was living in New Orleans, Louisiana.

      The experiences, separated by two decades, as well as more income and stability on Irvin’s part, were starkly different. Though there were protesters in front of the Ohio clinic back then, she was struck by how much more difficult it was seeking an abortion in the South, even in the early 2010s.

      In the clinic that day, she remembers the women from Baton Rouge, a drive of about an hour and a half from New Orleans, worrying about their children at home. Because Louisiana has a required twenty-four-hour waiting period following the initial appointment (during which providers must complete an ultrasound, show the patient the picture, and provide counseling to discourage the abortion), the actual procedure would have to be done during a separate trip.

  • Security

    • Space: New cybercrime battlefield? [Ed: Space has already dumped Microsoft Windows and moved to GNU/Linux (Debian) for security reasons. The famous incident has just been mentioned here.]

      In the same vein, is it believable for a virus to infect a space station orbiting at a distance of over 330 km above the earth? It shocked astronauts on board to find their Windows XP-based laptops on the International Space Station (ISS) infected with a virus called W32.Gammima in 2008. Gammima.AG worm is a malware that gathers and transmits sensitive gaming data to an attacker. Investigations later revealed that unsuspecting Russian cosmonauts had inadvertently carried infected USB storage devices aboard the station spreading computer viruses to the connected computers. The damage by the malware to the computer systems of the ISS is unknown to date.

    • OnePlus 7 Pro Fingerprint Scanner Hacked By Classic Hacking Technique

      OnePlus has recently launched its much-awaited OnePlus 7 Pro which is considered as one of the best smartphones of 2019 by many. Packing the latest Snapdragon processor, triple camera setup, UFS 3.0 and a 30W Warp Charging, the smartphone is a complete package but how safe is it?

      Speaking of safety, a YouTuber has managed to hack the in-display fingerprint scanner of OnePlus 7 Pro within a few minutes. Going by the name Max Tech, this YouTuber deployed the classic print molding hacking technique to get past the fingerprint reader. If you have bought the smartphone or you’re a potential buyer then I must tell you that OnePlus 7 Pro is not the first device to be hacked by this technique.

    • Just how secure are mainframes?

      The days of mainframe security by obscurity are long gone. Everyone – especially hackers – knows that there are lots of valuable data sitting on mainframes. So, how aware are mainframe-using organizations about what it takes to secure all the components of a mainframe environment? Key Resources Inc has announced the findings from a new study conducted by Forrester Consulting carried out in February 2019. The survey questioned 225 IT management and security decision makers in North America.

    • Security updates for Monday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • For Trying to Stop Wars in Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Says Bernie Sanders, ‘I Make No Apologies’

      Bernie Sanders reaffirmed on Saturday that he makes “no apologies” for his opposition to the Iraq war—and a possible future one in Iran—and took a jab at one of the Iraq war’s star cheerleaders.

      The Democratic presidential candidate was in Vermont for his 2020 campaign’s first rally in his adopted home state, and spoke to a crowd of at least 1,500 on the steps of the state capitol.

      Sanders’s speech followed efforts by some corporate media outlets to portray his anti-war stance as worthy of apology, a narrative he shot down in a short video last week.

      “Yes, as a young man, along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others, I marched against the war in Vietnam,” Sanders said Saturday in Montpelier. “I make no apologies for having opposed that war.”

      “As a member of the House of Representatives,” he added, “I helped lead he opposition to the war in Iraq.” That war, said Sanders, “turned out to be the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of our country and has led to the destabilization of that entire region with more war, more death, and more suffering.”

      “I make no apology for leading the effort against the war in Iraq,” he said.

      Sanders pointed also to his recent action as a U.S. senator introducing a War Powers resolution to stop U.S. military support for “the horrific Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.”

    • US Army Tweet Inadvertently Triggers Responses Revealing ‘Real, Painful, and Horrifying Human Costs of War’

      Veterans for Peace also drew attention to war’s devastation

      “Our message for Memorial Day is to remember all who have died in war and to understand that no one wins,” said Michael McPhearson, the organization’s executive director.

      “There are people who profit from war, mainly those who invest in the defense industry or possibly the oil sector. But the veterans and civilians who survive war suffer for the rest of their lives,” said McPhearson. “And the entire society is robbed of billions of tax dollars which could be spent on jobs, education, healthcare, infrastructure and sustainable energy.”

    • As Trump Avoids Congress to Send More Bombs to Saudis, Airstrike Kills Seven Yemeni Children

      The head of the United Nations children’s agency on Sunday reiterated her call for peace in Yemen after a Saudi-led aistrike on a fuel station near the southern city of Taizz killed 12 civilians including seven children—an attack that came as the Trump administration used a legal loophole to sell more bombs to the kingdom.

      The latest casualties, said UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore, bring number of children killed or harmed over just the last 10 days to 27.

      “These are only the numbers that the United Nations has been able to confirm; actual numbers are likely to be even higher,” said Fore.

      “Nowhere is safe for children in Yemen,” she added. “The conflict is haunting them in their homes, schools, and playgrounds.”

      The latest airstrike took place Friday, and UNICEF’s figures represent an updated death toll. A medic and Houthi rebel forces had told Agence France-Presse Saturday that nine civilians were killed, with two children among them.

    • Another Empire’s Boot Stomps on Ireland

      Can a pair of U.S. military veterans and the Irish peace movement topple a key outpost of the American Empire entrenched on the Emerald Isle?

      That’s the question a new mini-documentary explores about former Marine Ken Mayers and former Army paratrooper, Tarak Kauff as they begin a third month of activist exile in Ireland following a peaceful act of civil disobedience at Shannon Airport on St. Patrick’s Day, walking onto the airfield with a banner that said, “Respect Irish Neutrality. U.S. War Machine Out of Shannon Airport.”

      Effectively using photos and film accounts of troop planes arriving and departing, as well as images of Ireland’s “Easter Rising,” the Action from Ireland production, “War Crimes Facilitated At Shannon Airport” lets the words of three veterans and Clare Daly an Irish Member of Parliament provide the narration. They explain how the U.S. military quietly turned the civilian airport into a major hub for troops and weapons en route to wars in the Middle East. Some three million troops have passed through Shannon since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.

    • When War Crimes are Pardoned

      When I became a war resister during the Vietnam War, a sign attached to a high-rise off I-95 in Connecticut was a constant reminder of how right wing and militaristic a segment of the U.S. had become during the Vietnam War. The sign read: “Free Calley.” Lieutenant William Calley was the officer convicted of murdering 22 unarmed men, women, and children in the hamlet of My Lai in March 1968. The assault by U.S. forces at My Lai killed hundreds of unarmed men, women, and children. They were left murdered by the side of a road and in a ditch, among other places in the Vietnamese hamlet. The investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, (“Seymour Hersh on My Lai and the state of investigative journalism,”Columbia Journalism Review, April 1, 2015) wrote the definitive account of that massacre through his exhaustive work.

      My Lai was not a case of a few “bad apples” seeking revenge for an earlier attack on their unit. War crimes were common in Vietnam. In August 2006, journalists Deborah Nelson and Nick Turse uncovered scores of cases of torture in units of the U.S. Army that were contained in material unearthed from the National Archives (“A Tortured Past,” Los Angeles Times, August 20, 2006). The government did not seek wide-ranging hearings or court-martial charges against most of those who allegedly took part in these incidents of murder and torture. Other incidents of units acting with impunity in their conduct during the war have been published.

    • The Geography of War: No Iraq…? No Iran!

      No other country in the Middle East is as important in countering America’s rush to provide Israel with another war than Iraq. Fortunately for Iran, the winds of change in Iraq and the many other local countries under similar threat, thus, make up an unbroken chain of border to border support. This support is only in part due to sympathy for Iran and its plight against the latest bluster by the Zio-American bully.

      In the politics of the Middle East, however, money is at the heart of all matters. As such, this ring of defensive nations is collectively and quickly shifting towards the new Russo/ Sino sphere of economic influence. These countries now form a geo-political defensive perimeter that, with Iraq entering the fold, make a US ground war virtually impossible and an air war very restricted in opportunity.

      If Iraq holds, there will be no war in Iran.

      In the last two months, Iraq parliamentarians have been exceptionally vocal in their calls for all foreign military forces- particularly US forces- to leave immediately. Politicians from both blocs of Iraq’s divided parliament called for a vote to expel US troops and promised to schedule an extraordinary session to debate the matter. “Parliament must clearly and urgently express its view about the ongoing American violations of Iraqi sovereignty,” said Salam al-Shimiri, a lawmaker loyal to the populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

    • Pardoning War Criminals is a Terrible Way to Honor Veterans

      How are you spending Memorial Day? Ordinary people may attend parades, host cookouts, or take the long weekend to visit loved ones.

      Donald Trump, on the other hand, may pardon a few war criminals.

      The president recently requested the files of several accused and convicted U.S. war criminals, a possible step toward expedited pardons for individuals who’ve done unspeakable things.

      There’s SEAL chief Edward Gallagher, who senselessly shot to death a teenage girl and an elderly man in Iraq. Gallagher also brutally stabbed a wounded 15-year-old to death — and then posed for photos with the body, which he texted to friends.

      Trump also requested the files of Nicholas Slatten, a Blackwater contractor convicted of shooting dozens of Iraqi civilians in the notorious 2007 Nisour Square massacre, and of Mathew Golsteyn, who confessed to murdering an unarmed Afghan captive U.S. soldiers had released.

      Trump has already pardoned Michael Behenna, who took an unarmed Iraqi captive into the desert, stripped him naked, and shot him in the head and chest. Behenna was supposed to be returning the man to his home village.

    • After Pat’s Birthday

      Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

    • The Evidence We Were Never Meant to See About the Douma Gas Attack

      We like to take the Big Boys on trust. No longer do we believe in our meretricious little leaders with their easy lies and twitters: the Trumps and Mays and now all the nationalists of Europe. We certainly don’t put any credit in Arab dictators.

      But when, despite all its bureaucracy and corruption, the UN tells us that the world faces climate change, we largely believe what it says. If the International Red Cross warns us of a humanitarian catastrophe in Africa, we tend to take their word for it. And when the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – which represents 193 member states throughout the world – reports on chlorine attacks in Syria, we assume we are hearing the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

      Until now. For in the last few days, there has emerged disturbing evidence that in its final report on the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime in the city of Douma last year, the OPCW deliberately concealed from both the public and the press the existence of a dissenting 15-page assessment of two cylinders which had supposedly contained molecular chlorine – perhaps the most damning evidence against the Assad regime in the entire report.

    • Military Families’ Rights Are at Risk Thanks to This Law

      When our loved ones join the military, we know that wearing the uniform could cost them their lives.

      Military family members do all kinds of calculations about the potential price of serving this nation. We run the numbers and wargame the risks; we bargain with God and make deals with the devil hoping our service member never becomes a casualty.

      But what most of us don’t know is that when our family members sign up, they sign away some of their rights — and ours.

      Under what’s called the Feres Doctrine, members of the Armed Forces and their families are prohibited from filing claims against the government for death or injury arising from military service.

      But it doesn’t just apply to military settings or deaths in the field. The Feres Doctrine also shields military medical providers from malpractice suits by troops — and their dependents.

      Feres has been around since a 1950 Supreme Court ruling, but military recruiters never tell the families that it applies to them, too.

      Tricia Radenz found out in the worst way possible. On June 9, 2009, her 11-year-old son, Daniel, hanged himself at home.

    • The Western Media Is Key to Syria Deceptions

      By any reckoning, the claim made this week by al-Qaeda-linked fighters that they were targeted with chemical weapons by the Syrian government in Idlib province — their final holdout in Syria — should have been treated by the western media with a high degree of scepticism.

      That the US and other western governments enthusiastically picked up those claims should not have made them any more credible.

      Scepticism was all the more warranted from the media given that no physical evidence has yet been produced to corroborate the jihadists’ claims. And the media should have been warier still given that the Syrian government was already poised to defeat these al-Qaeda groups without resort to chemical weapons—and without provoking the predictable ire (yet again) of the west.

      But most of all scepticism was required because these latest claims arrive just as we have learnt that the last supposed major chemical attack — which took place in April 2018 and was, as ever, blamed by all western sources on Syria’s president, Bashar Assad—was very possibly staged, a false-flag operation by those very al-Qaeda groups now claiming the Syrian government has attacked them once again.

    • This Memorial Day, Let’s Learn From Our Mistakes and End Illegal War

      A grieving, unnamed woman stood outside a funeral parlor awaiting the arrival of the remains of one of the latest U.S. servicemembers killed in the Afghanistan War. She was wearing a vest adorned with a variety of military-style patches, one identifying herself as a Gold Star mother, her son being another of the 2,426 U.S. servicemembers killed thus far in what has become the U.S.’s longest war, now in its 18th year.

      When interviewed by one of the plethora of news reporters covering the wake and funeral, she responded that though she did not know the deceased or his family personally, she felt compelled to be there to privately commiserate with their pain and suffering, and to pay her respects. She concluded her remarks by providing insight into the coping mechanism she and many others resort to when struggling to make sense of a devastating and otherwise senseless loss of a loved one in war: “Freedom isn’t free, you know.”

      The implication of this tired expression is, of course, that the precious freedom we all enjoy, nay the very survival of our beloved nation, comes at a steep price that must be paid with the lives, blood and sacrifice of selfless young men and women and their families.

      As a former Marine and veteran of the U.S. war in Vietnam, I understand firsthand how difficult it is to live with the inevitable trauma, moral injury, pain and suffering of losing comrades in war. I can only imagine the insufferable grief and anguish of family members, a mother who has lost her child, or a child who cannot understand why only fond memories remain of a loving parent.

      Like the Gold Star mother and the many family members and friends in attendance, I also grieve the young man’s tragic and untimely death as well as the loss of the almost 7,000 other U.S. servicemembers sacrificed to the post-9/11 conflicts. In addition, for those of us who participated in this and other wars, I believe our pain is compounded by a realization of our culpability and responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis and others — many of them civilians.

    • Trump, Japan’s Abe at Odds Over North Korean Missile Tests

      President Donald Trump said Monday he is not “personally” bothered by recent short-range North Korean missile tests and doesn’t believe they violated U.N. Security Council resolutions, breaking with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is hosting the president on a four-day state visit full of pageantry and pomp.

      Trump also continued his attacks against former Vice President and 2020 Democratic hopeful Joe Biden, siding with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who recently criticized Biden as having a low IQ.

      The visit was designed to highlight the U.S.-Japan alliance and showcase the warm relations between the leaders. Trump said he and Abe deliberated over economic issues, including trade and Iran, during hours of talks at the Akasaka Palace. But North Korea’s recent firing of short-range missiles emerged as an area of disagreement at a press conference Monday.

      Asked if he was bothered by the missile tests, Trump said: “No, I’m not. I am personally not.”

      Japan has long voiced concern about short-range missiles because of the threat they pose to the Island nation’s security.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • San Francisco police chief concedes raid on journalist was wrong — ‘I’m sorry’

      After two weeks of growing outrage, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott apologized Friday for raiding a journalist’s home and office in a bid to unmask a confidential source, admitting the searches were probably illegal and calling for an independent investigation into the episode.

    • Trump Justice Department Crosses New Line, Charges Assange With Publishing U.S. Secrets

      In a stunning escalation of the Trump administration’s war on the press, the Justice Department has indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for revealing government secrets under the Espionage Act. It’s the first time a publisher has been charged under the World War I-era law.

      The indictment charges Assange with 16 counts of receiving or disclosing material leaked by then-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2009 and 2010. The charges invoke broad provisions of the Espionage Act that make it a crime to disclose or retain any defense information knowing it “could be used to injure” the U.S. The act has no exception for reporters or publishers, but prior administrations have balked at invoking the law against journalists for fear of colliding with the First Amendment.

    • Trump DOJ becomes first to charge publisher with espionage

      The Trump Justice Department has added to the indictment of Julian Assange a charge related to publishing the classified material given to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning in 2010. Joy Reid and her panel discuss how many believe this charge is intended to deter national security reporting.

    • Washington Post: Two prosecutors connected to Assange case argued against espionage charges
    • Some federal prosecutors disagreed with decision to charge Assange under Espionage Act

      Two prosecutors involved in the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange argued against the Justice Department’s decision to accuse him of violating the Espionage Act because of fear that such charges posed serious risks for First Amendment protections and other concerns, according to people familiar with the matter.

      The previously undisclosed disagreement inside the Justice Department underscores the fraught, high-stakes nature of the government’s years-long effort to counter Assange, an Internet-age publisher who has repeatedly declared his hostility to U.S. foreign policy and military operations. The Assange case also illustrates how the Trump administration is willing to go further than its predecessors in pursuit of leakers — and those who publish official secrets.

      The internal Justice Department debate over how, or whether, to prosecute Assange stretched back to the Obama administration, which ultimately decided that such charges were a bad idea but did not formally close the case.

    • The Assange Case Could Prove The Most Important Press Case In 300 Years

      For over a decade, there has been a raging debate over precisely what Julian Assange is – whistleblower, journalist, or spy.

      Now that question will have to be answered after the United States hit him with 17 new counts under the Espionage Act for receiving and publishing information from Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

      The Trump administration has now crossed the line that many counselled it to avoid – and may have triggered the most important press freedom case in the US in 300 years.

      While the status of Assange has long been hotly debated, his actions in publishing classified information on Wikileaks is a common component of journalism. Indeed, the most celebrated cases in history – such as the failed attempts to stop the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 – were based on the publications of classified evidence.

      Assange’s supporters note that his publications revealed alleged war crimes in places like Afghanistan and Iraq that were unlikely to have been exposed otherwise. If it was a crime for Assange to receive and publish such information, much of the journalism in the US would become a de facto criminal enterprise.

    • Charging Julian Assange Under the Espionage Act Is an Attack on the First Amendment

      It’s a sad day in America when the most appropriate thing to say is the line often misattributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” When basic rights are under attack from the government, the arguments that are called for are neither original nor subtle. On Thursday, the Justice Department announced that it was charging the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act, for his connection to the leak of some seven hundred and fifty thousand confidential military and diplomatic documents, in 2010. The indictment of Assange is an offensive on the First Amendment that is as banal as it is blunt.

      Let’s get the “I disapprove” part out of the way first. Assange is a fundamentally unappealing protagonist. He keeps terrible political company. He is, apparently, terrible company himself. In his writing and interviews, he comes across as power-crazed and manipulative. Most important, when he published leaked classified documents, he shared information that exposed people to danger. He is the perfect target precisely because he is unsympathetic. One has to hold one’s nose while defending Assange—and yet one must defend Assange.

      The use of the Espionage Act to prosecute Assange is an attack on the First Amendment. Carrie DeCell, an attorney with the Knight First Amendment Institute, summed up the threat in a Twitter thread on Thursday. “The government argues that Assange violated the Espionage Act by soliciting, obtaining, and then publishing classified information,” she wrote. “That’s exactly what good national security and investigative journalists do every day.”

      The government has argued that Assange is not a journalist. Most journalists would probably agree: the indiscriminate publication of classified information (or any other information, for that matter), with neither a narrative nor regard for people’s safety, is not journalism in any conventional understanding of the word. But journalism—unlike, say, medicine, law, or architecture—is a profession that any person can practice. There are no licensing or education requirements, and we journalists generally think that this is a good thing: the public can decide which journalists are worth reading or watching, and the law can intervene in those rare cases when journalism causes harm. The last thing we want the U.S. government, or any government, to do is to start deciding who is and who is not a journalist. “For the most part, the charges against him broadly address the solicitation, receipt, and publication of classified information,” DeCell tweeted. “These charges could be brought against national security and investigative journalists simply for doing their jobs, and doing them well.”

    • Guillaume Long on Ecuadorian President Moreno’s betrayal of Assange and the Citizens Revolution

      There are a number of violations of international and national law that Moreno engaged in by handing Assange over to the British authorities. I think that is why it took him so long. He wanted to do it earlier but he knew that by handing in Assange he would have to violate international asylum law. I was in the foreign ministry so I obviously have information that they were very worried. International law is very specific about non-refoulement – the technical term that means non-devolution. You cannot take away somebody’s asylum once you’ve granted it. You can deny someone asylum on request. When it is requested you can say “no we will not give you asylum” and you don’t have to give any reason. You can just say no, but once you’ve granted someone asylum there is a sacrosanct institution called non-refoulement which is a French word they use in international law. It applies unless the case for political persecution is not there anymore. Clearly there was no change because the major motivation for the asylum was a US request for extradition. Whenever there has been any ambiguity the institution of non-refoulement has been strengthened.

      For example, in 2018 the Inter-American Human Rights Court – which is quite a powerful institution for those who have ratified the San Jose pact including Ecuador – warned Ecuador not to violate non-refoulement. The Ecuadorians were nervous about that. That’s why they had to really prepare by trying to pathologize Assange, making him into a crazy man smearing feces on the walls and all these lies. They really had to work on that for several months to push their international law violation through.

    • Demonstrating for Assange in NYC or Life on Pluto

      Thursday, mid-afternoon, April 11, 2019 I was sitting in a NYC Starbucks bent over my laptop getting ready to return home to grab some sleep to recover from a late-night work shift.

      I was delayed due to my processing the fresh horror of the brutish arrest and removal of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

      Suddenly at 2:30pm an email popped up in my inbox announcing two New York City demonstrations both scheduled for 4:30pm at UK establishments to protest extradition of Assange by the UK to the United States.

      I was relieved to see there was activism happening in NYC already on Assange’s behalf and reasoned that if I weren’t so sleep-deprived I would assuredly be attending one of them myself.

      “Yadda, yadda, yadda” … my sleep-craving brain commenced wrestling with my conscience. I wondered which would prevail.

      Assange had sacrificed his own quality of life for seven hard years and God and/or the devil only knew the fresh hells he would now be facing from a global neoliberal mafia that had no hesitation killing millions of innocent human beings for profit and power, and hadn’t liked at all being called out on that by whistleblowers like Manning and Assange.

      This mafia was supported by a corporate media propaganda crusade so saturatingly effective and mendacious that reality was getting harder and harder for ordinary people to keep track of, as well as communicate about. Especially thanks to the neo-McCarthyism currently conflating any critics of the criminality of leaders of western countries or their allies with a traitorous collusion with Russia, except for the times when to criticize collusion with or enabling of apartheid and murderous Israel was conflated with anti-Semitism.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Can legislation help diversify solar workforce? Illinois hopes so

      Chris Williams is a success story of Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act.

      The expansive 2016 legislation aimed to not only ramp up renewable energy development in the state, but to do so in a way that spread the benefits to include low-income, minority and rural communities.

      The law helped Williams launch a job training program from his black-owned solar business in Chicago’s far south suburbs. The Millennium Solar Electric Training Academy in two years has graduated more than 50 people who might not otherwise have had access to the skills training needed for the industry.

      Across the country, the solar industry’s workforce is largely white and male. A report released Monday by the Solar Foundation and Solar Energy Industries Association shows its workforce is 74% male and 73% white. White men also earn more and are more likely to be in leadership positions.

      State-level data wasn’t collected, but anecdotally there’s little reason to think the workforce in Illinois, despite its efforts, is significantly more diverse.

      Read more: Solar groups call for more inclusive hiring methods to improve diversity

      Illinois has been a leader in trying to address diversity gaps in clean energy, but while the Future Energy Jobs Act created new training opportunities, some advocates say the programs are too little, too late. In total, the law funded training for about 200 people — enough to fill just a sliver of the estimated 3,000 solar installer jobs in the state.

      [...]

      In two years the two training programs combined have yielded 71 graduates, including 40 African Americans, 16 Latinos, 12 women, and 36 returning citizens, according to Elevate. That’s shy of the law’s goal of 100 total in that time period, but a good start, as many see it.

    • France’s nuclear industry struggles on

      EDF, France’s nuclear industry leader and the last European company trying to build large reactors, has had further setbacks to its flagship project that make the company’s future prospects look bleak.

      The giant Flamanville-3 European pressurised water reactor (EPR), in Normandy in northern France, has difficult-to-repair faulty welds that will delay its start-up, possibly for years, and add to an already overstretched budget.

      The French nuclear regulator ASN is yet to decide exactly how EDF must repair 66 faulty welds that currently render the nearly completed 1,600 megawatt reactor too dangerous to load with nuclear fuel. Eight of the welds are inside the reactor’s containment and extremely difficult to reach and fix.

      The company is due to meet ASN on 29 May to discuss the best way of tackling the problem that will require specialist skills and equipment. It makes EDF’s current start date for the reactor, March 2020, extremely unlikely to be met, and will probably put the whole project back at least a year, probably two.

    • Greens celebrate 2 million votes in England and Wales as Green Wave rolls across Europe

      Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley has this morning celebrated his party’s total vote in the European election topping 2 million.

      Jonathan said: “The result of this election, with 12 per cent of the vote, a tally of more than 2 million, shows huge support for our message of ‘yes to Europe, no to climate change’.

      “To beat the Tory Party in a national election for the first time is just the icing on the cake.”

      Jonathan added: “The result in the UK is a reflection of what has happened across Europe. The Greens/EPA group in the European parliament is leaping to be the third-largest group, with great results from the German, French, Finnish and many other European green parties.

      “The pollsters did not see approaching the 50% boost in the group to 75 seats that the voters have delivered.

      “As our European parliamentary co-president Ska Keller told the BBC last night, we want to deliver on transformational climate action and the promise of social action in Europe.

    • ‘A Green Wave Has Swept the European Parliament’: In Show of Demand for Climate Action, Green Parties Surge in EU Elections

      “The Green Wave has swept across Europe. We want to thank everyone who has voted for change and climate action,” Ska Keller, a German MEP and one of the Greens’ leading candidates for European Commission president, said in a statement Sunday following four days of continent-wide voting.

      “This trust given to us by voters is both a task and a responsibility to put green polices into action,” said Keller.

      As The Guardian reported, the “Greens’ surge was strongest in Germany, where Die Grünen finished second behind Angela Merkel’s center-right CDU with almost 21 percent of the vote, according to provisional estimates—nearly double their 2014 total.”

    • Toward a Culture of Animal Protection in Cuba

      The main veterinarian of the Clinic located in the Quinta de los Molinos ecological park, attached to the Office of the City Historian (OHC), Dr. Leyssan Cepero Fiallo infuses the love he feels for animals to pet owners and colleagues. Under his responsibility various projects for the care of flora and fauna, aimed mainly at children and young people, are implemented. Among the most important actions that the Clinic carries out every year are the campaigns of sterilization and deworming of pets and urban animal colonies. This initiative has contributed to fostering a culture of animal protection in the population of Havana.

    • Secrecy Versus Sunshine: Efforts to Hide Government Records Never Stop

      It’s spring, and in America’s state capitals legislatures are winding up their business and, too often, bringing out the padlocks.

      All 50 states give the public the right to see government records and documents, but many state legislatures are weighing changes in their open-records laws.

      These changes rarely end up making our government more transparent. Instead, lawmakers often try to conceal public records from the people who own them — that is, you and me.

    • How rural areas like Florida’s Panhandle can become more hurricane-ready

      When Hurricane Michael roared onto northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast in October 2018, its 160 mile-per-hour winds made it the strongest storm ever to hit the region. It was only the fourth Category 5 storm on record to make landfall in the United States.

      Thousands of residents, from the coast to 100 miles inland, were left without housing, power, food or water. Schools, stores, businesses and many government buildings shut down for weeks. Hospitals had to temporarily stop services.

      Months later, many locals were still trying to survive in battered, tarp-covered homes or living in tents, relying on local food banks for survival. Lacking customers, some business owners shuttered their doors and left town.

      In Michael’s aftermath, it gradually became apparent that Florida’s Panhandle experienced more severe damage than many urban areas around the state that are relatively better prepared for behemoth storms. I have seen firsthand how this was due to lack of preparedness and infrastructure that was aging, limited and substandard.

      I have studied hurricane resilience for the past 13 years and know that better preparation can help make communities more resilient in the face of major disasters. As the high-risk months approach, I and other Florida State University scholars from many different fields are working with local communities to help them get ready and improve their response plans.

    • Residents of Welsh Village Set to Become UK’s First Climate Refugees As Soon As 2042

      Gwynedd Council determined in 2013 that defending Fairbourne from the effects of the climate crisis would not be possible in the long term. The council, along with the national agency Natural Resources Wales, funded a $6 million flood management plan over the past four years.

      According to Wales Online, “there will be no money spent on defending this community of around 400 homes and 850 people after 2054,” leading the council to decide recently that decommissioning the town must be considered and that “relocating residents is a certainty.”

      A relocation scheme could go into effect as early as 2042. After the town is evacuated, all buildings, roads, and utilities will be dismantled, with Fairbourne converted into a tidal salt marsh, according to The Guardian.

      “Climate change is happening, and it is unfortunately only a matter of time before it has a very real human impact on coastal communities like Fairbourne,” councillor Catrin Wager told Wales Online.

      “By talking to the community sooner rather than later, our aim is to work through these difficult issues together in order to give ourselves as much time as possible to come up with viable options and the best possible solutions,” she added.

      The possibility of compensation will likely be discussed at the town meeting planned for June 26. As The Guardian reported last week, Fairbourne residents are not expected to receive financial aid from the Welsh government when they are forced to leave, making them the U.K.’s first climate refugees.

    • Green Wave: Europe Wakes Up to Climate Concerns After Vote

      Green parties in Germany, France, Britain and elsewhere were celebrating big gains in elections for the bloc’s 751-seat European Parliament amid growing voter concerns over climate change, expressed in large-scale student protests over recent months.

      Provisional results Monday showed the left-leaning Greens’ bloc coming fourth in the election with 69 seats, an increase of 17 compared with 2014. If confirmed, the results could put the Greens in a position to tip the scales when it comes to choosing the next head of the European Commission.

      “Whoever wants legitimacy from us and the legitimacy of the many who went onto the streets will need to deliver now,” said Sven Giegold, a leading candidate for the German Green party that scooped up more than 20% of the vote nationwide, an increase of almost 10% compared with 2014.

      Armin Laschet, the governor of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, and a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc, called the outcome “a wake-up call for politics.”

      The drift from the traditional heavyweight parties to the Greens in Germany was particularly pronounced in large cities such as Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, and among young voters, where the party beat its bigger rivals among all voters under 60.

      In neighboring France, 25% of voters aged 18-25 voted for the Greens, compared with 15% for the far-right National Rally and 12% for President Emmanuel Macron’s Republic on the Move, according to the Ifop polling organization. Overall, the French green party EELV received almost 13.5% of the vote, coming third.

  • Finance

    • Facebook is planning its own cryptocurrency for 2020

      Internally it’s being referred to as GlobalCoin, rather than the infinitely preferable ‘Facebook Fun Buckz’, and testing will begin this year before it’s launched in around a dozen countries in 2020. The company has already been sounding out the likes of Western Union for a cheap and fast way for people without a bank account to send and receive money.

      Apparently wannabe bank manager and actual CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already met with various officials about the logistics of launching a cryptocurrency, including Bank of England governor Mark Carney. Presumably via phone, so as to avoid the risk of being pulled before parliament – or maybe he just took one look at the governmental chaos and fancied his chances of going by unannounced.

    • Facebook plans to launch ‘GlobalCoin’ currency in 2020

      A small group of co-founders are expected to launch the Swiss-based association in the coming weeks.

      Facebook is also reportedly in talks with a number of online merchants to accept the currency as payment in return for lower transaction fees.

    • New China cyber security law could be used to block US firms

      China has unveiled new cyber security regulations calling for “secure and controllable” technology in its networks, raising the possibility that it could be used to block American technology companies on national security grounds.

    • 75% of FTC Officials Worked for Corporations It’s Supposed to Be Regulating

      The US government frequently fails to hold giant corporations accountable for bad behavior, in no small part thanks to the “revolving door” between posh positions as corporate lobbyists or lawyers, and key government jobs that present conflicts of interest.

    • China Is Not the Source of Our Economic Problems—Corporate Greed Is

      China is not an enemy. It is a nation trying to raise its living standards through education, international trade, infrastructure investment, and improved technologies. In short, it is doing what any country should do when confronted with the historical reality of being poor and far behind more powerful countries. Yet the Trump administration is now aiming to stop China’s development, which could prove to be disastrous for both the United States and the entire world.

      China is being made a scapegoat for rising inequality in the United States. While US trade relations with China have been mutually beneficial over the years, some US workers have been left behind, notably Midwestern factory workers facing competition due to rising productivity and comparatively low (though rising) labor costs in China. Instead of blaming China for this normal phenomenon of market competition, we should be taxing the soaring corporate profits of our own multinational corporations and using the revenues to help working-class households, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, promote new job skills and invest in cutting-edge science and technology.

      We should understand that China is merely trying to make up for lost time after a very long period of geopolitical setbacks and related economic failures. Here is important historical background that is useful to understand China’s economic development in the past 40 years.

      In 1839, Britain attacked China because it refused to allow British traders to continue providing Chinese people with addictive opium. Britain prevailed, and the humiliation of China’s defeat in the First Opium War, ending in 1842, contributed in part to a mass uprising against the Qing Dynasty called the Taiping Rebellion that ended up causing more than 20 million deaths. A Second Opium War against Britain and France ultimately led to the continued erosion of China’s power and internal stability.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump Asks Citizenship and Immigration Services Head to Quit

      President Donald Trump asked the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to resign, leaving yet another vacancy within the Department of Homeland Security.

      Lee Francis Cissna told staff on Friday that his last day would be June 1, according to a copy of the email obtained by The Associated Press.

      Cissna leads the agency responsible for legal immigration, including benefits and visas. With his departure, there are more than a dozen vacancies of top leadership positions at the sprawling, 240,000-employee department. Some are being temporarily filled, including secretary and inspector general. Cissna’s position, like others, requires Senate confirmation.

    • Europe’s Voters Elect New Parliament as Nationalism Mounts

      Pivotal elections for the European Union parliament reached their climax Sunday as the last 21 nations went to the polls, with results to be announced in the evening in a vote that boils down to a continent-wide battle between euroskeptic populists and proponents of closer EU unity.

      Right-wing nationalists who want to slash immigration into Europe and return power to national governments are expected to make gains, though mainstream parties are tipped to hold onto power in the 751-seat legislature that sits in both Brussels and Strasbourg.

      Leading the challenge to the established order is Italy’s hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini, head of the League party, who is assembling a group of like-minded parties from across Europe.

      “We need to do everything that is right to free this country, this continent, from the illegal occupation organized by Brussels,” Salvini told a rally in Milan last weekend that was attended by the leaders of 11 nationalist parties.

      [...]

      Projections released by the European Parliament last month show the center-right European People’s Party bloc losing 37 of its 217 seats and the center-left S&D group dropping from 186 seats to 149. On the far right flank, the Europe of Nations and Freedom group is predicted to increase its bloc from 37 to 62 seats.

      Proponents of stronger EU integration, led by French President Emmanuel Macron, argue that issues like climate change and reining in immigration are simply too big for any one country to tackle alone.

      [...]

      Sunday promises to be a long day and night for election watchers — the last polls close at 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) in Italy but the European Parliament plans to begin issuing estimates and projections hours earlier with the first official projection of the makeup of the new parliament at 11:15 p.m. (2115 GMT).

    • EU election: Surge for Greens and euroskeptics, losses for centrist blocs

      Millions of voters across the EU cast their ballots on the final day of voting for the European Parliament elections, in a poll that will shape the continent’s politics for the next five years.

      Preliminary results early Monday morning showed the grand coalition between the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the center-left Socialist and Democrats (S&D) blocs will lose their majority in 751-seat legislature.

      The results indicate the European Parliament will have a new balance of power, with the centrist Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), far-right euroskeptic parties and the Greens/European Free Alliance all making gains.

      The parliamentary arithmetic will make for complex jostling for the EU’s top five posts when the 28 national European leaders meet in Brussels on Tuesday.

      [...]

      The European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) secured 38 seats, down 14, while Others/Non-attached won the remaining 35 seats.

    • The Right and the Greens Gain Ground in EU Elections

      The hardest-fought European Parliament elections in decades drew to a close Sunday with the anti-immigrant far right and the pro-environment Greens both projected to gain ground at the expense of the continent’s longtime political center.

      Turnout was estimated at a two-decade high over the four days of balloting across the 28 European Union countries. The elections were seen as a test of the influence of the nationalist, populist and hard-right movements that have swept the continent in recent years and impelled Britain to quit the EU altogether.

      While pro-EU parties still were expected to win about two-thirds of the 751-member legislature that sits in Brussels and Strasbourg, other contenders appeared headed for significant gains, according to projections released by Parliament.

      Exit polls in France indicated that Marine Le Pen’s far-right, anti-immigrant National Rally party came out on top in an astonishing rebuke of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has made EU integration the heart of his presidency.

    • Le Pen’s Far-Right Wins Over Macron’s Centrists

      The green party EELV came in third position with 12.8% support.

      France’s traditional parties, which were eviscerated by Marcon’s presidential win in 2017, were still far behind in Sunday’s vote, getting 8.3% for The Republicans conservative party to 6% for the Socialist party.

    • Greens more than double number of MEPs in spectacular European election result

      The Green Party is tonight celebrating a spectacular election result that has seen its number of members of the European parliament in England double, rising from three to seven.

      The first Brussels Green Party representatives were elected in the Eastern, North West, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber regions. Greens seats were retained in London, the South East and the South West, where MEP Molly Scott Cato was re-elected.

      The party finished fourth in the total vote, above the Conservative Party, the first time the Greens have beaten the Tories in a national election.

      Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “Following on from our spectacular local election results where we more than doubled our representation, tonight’s result is proof of the size and power of the Green Wave that is sweeping across the country.

    • Democracy vs. The Putin-Nazis

      Back in January 2018, I wrote this piece about The War on Dissent, which, in case you haven’t noticed, is going gangbusters.

      As predicted, the global capitalist ruling classes have been using every weapon in their arsenal to marginalize, stigmatize, delegitimize, and otherwise eliminate any and all forms of dissent from neoliberal ideology, and in particular from their new official narrative … “Democracy versus The Putin-Nazis.”

      For over two years, the corporate media have been pounding out an endless series of variations on this major theme, namely, that “democracy is under attack” by a conspiracy of Russians and neo-Nazis that magically materialized out of the ether during the Summer of 2016.

      The intelligence agencies, political elites, academia, celebrities, social media personalities, and other organs of the culture industry have been systematically reifying this official narrative through constant repetition.

    • Impeach Trump? Most 2020 Democrats Tiptoe Past the Question

      Democratic leaders in Congress have argued that impeaching President Donald Trump is a political mistake as the 2020 election nears. Most of the candidates running to succeed him seem to agree, for now.

      Fewer than one-third of the 23 Democrats vying for the nomination are issuing calls to start the impeachment process, citing evidence in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report they believe shows Trump obstructed justice . Most others, including leading contenders Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, have found a way to hedge or search for middle ground, supporting investigations that could lead to impeachment or saying Trump’s conduct warrants impeachment but stopping short of any call for such a proceeding.

    • Green Party says case for the People’s Vote is now overwhelming

      Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, tonight said that the result of the European elections was a clear direction that the UK should call a People’s Vote now, giving voters the chance to choose between remaining in the EU and leaving under a deal agreed with the EU.

      Sian said: “Giving the people the final say over the country’s direction is now clearly the only way forward, the way to draw a line under the Brexit chaos.

      “The vote tally for clearly Remain parties is higher than for that of the Brexit Party and Ukip. The people have spoken.

      “We are in a state of political crisis in the UK. But to understand that we need to look at the causes of the anger and frustration in Leave majority areas, Westminster austerity, our archaic Victorian voting system, and the concentration of power in London.

    • UK Brexit Party Scores Big as Conservatives, Labour Falter

      Veteran politician Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party scored big gains in European elections, with his party and several anti-Brexit parties dooming the governing Conservative Party and opposition Labour to humiliating defeats.

      With results announced early Monday for all of England and Wales, the Brexit Party had won 28 of the 73 British EU seats up for grabs and almost a third of the votes. The Liberal Democrats took about 20% of the vote and 15 seats — up from only one at the last EU election in 2014.

      Labour came third with 10 seats, followed by the Greens with seven. The ruling Conservatives — apparently blamed by voters for failing to deliver Brexit in March as planned — were in fifth place with just three EU seats and under 10% of the vote.

    • The Mass Media Is Poisoning Us With Hate

      In “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,” published in 1988, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky exposed the techniques that the commercial media used to promote and defend the economic, social and political agendas of the ruling elites. These techniques included portraying victims as either worthy or unworthy of sympathy. A Catholic priest such as Jerzy Popiełuszko, for example, murdered by the communist regime in Poland in 1984, was deified, but four Catholic missionaries who were raped and murdered in 1980 in El Salvador by U.S.-backed death squads were slandered as fellow travelers of the “Marxist” rebel movement. The techniques also included both narrowing the debate in a way that buttressed the elite consensus and intentionally failing to challenge the intentions of the ruling elites or the actual structures of power.

      “Manufacturing Consent” was published on the eve of three revolutions that have dramatically transformed the news industry: the rise of right-wing radio and Fox-style TV news that abandon the media’s faux objectivity, the introduction of 24-hour cable news stations, and the creation of internet platforms—owned by a handful of corporations—that control the distribution of news and information and mine our personal data on behalf of advertisers, political campaigns and the government. The sins of the old media, bad though they were, are nothing compared with the sins of the new media. Mass media has degenerated into not only a purveyor of gossip, conspiracy theories and salacious entertainment but, most ominously, a purveyor of hate. Matt Taibbi, the author of “Hate Inc.: How, and Why, the Media Makes Us Hate One Another,” has dissected modern media platforms in much the same way that Herman and Chomsky did the old media.

      The new media, Taibbi points out, still manufactures consent, but it does so by setting group against group, a consumer version of what George Orwell in his novel “1984” called the “Two Minutes Hate.” Our opinions and prejudices are skillfully catered to and reinforced, with the aid of a detailed digital analysis of our proclivities and habits, and then sold back to us. The result, Taibbi writes, is “packaged anger just for you.” The public is unable to speak across the manufactured divide. It is mesmerized by the fake dissent of the culture wars and competing conspiracy theories. Politics, under the assault, has atrophied into a tawdry reality show centered on political personalities. Civic discourse is defined by invective and insulting remarks on the internet. Power, meanwhile, is left unexamined and unchallenged. The result is political impotence among the populace. The moral swamp is not only a fertile place for demagogues such as Donald Trump—a creation of this media burlesque—but channels misplaced rage, intolerance and animosity toward those defined as internal enemies.

      The old media sold itself as objective, although as Taibbi points out, this was more a reflection of tone rather than content. This vaunted objectivity and impartiality was, at its core, an element of a commercial tactic designed to reach the largest numbers of viewers or readers.

      “Objectivity was when I was told I couldn’t write with voice,” Taibbi told me when I interviewed him on my television show, “On Contact.” [Part one of the interview; part two.] “I couldn’t write with a point of view. Objectivity was to write in a dull, flat, third-person perspective. Don’t express yourself. Don’t be too colorful. This actually was, if you pick up The New York Times today, that same writing style. The original idea behind it is you didn’t want to turn off people on the start because they’re trying to reach the widest possible audience. This also infected radio, television. That’s why you have this Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather-style delivery, which was monotonal, flat, unopinionated. A lot of people thought this was some kind of an ethical decision that news organizations were making. In fact, what they were trying to do is reach the greatest number of people to sell the greatest number of ads. That’s how we developed that idea.”

    • The Terrifying Global Implications of Modi’s Re-Election

      In a sweeping victory, the far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Narendra Modi has returned to power in India’s elections. It’s a profoundly disturbing development.

      The most pressing concern about the BJP government is its systematic persecution of India’s minorities, particularly Muslims.

      [...]

      None of this should be surprising for a government and political party that have emerged from what many historians call a fascist movement that was inspired by European fascism of the 1920s and 30s — ties that they’ve never convincingly repudiated.

      What’s even less known about the Modi government outside India is its abysmal environmental record. Under BJP rule, India’s ranking in the Environmental Performance Index — an assessment of countries’ performance on indicators of environmental health and ecosystem protection — has fallen to 177 (out of 180 countries examined), compared to 155 in 2014 under the prior government.

    • Congress is Being Punked: Will They Find Their Backbone?

      No one suggests Donald Trump is not “smart.” He has certainly figured out how to succeed in the corrupt culture we live in. But does that mean he should be allowed to preside in office until January 2021?

      On a Radio Free Kansas radio show recently I had an exchange with a Trump supporter who was convinced Congress was thoroughly and irrecoverably corrupt. I did not disagree with him. “Yeh. But no one is more corrupt than your man Trump.” He didn’t disagree with me. He just felt Congress’ corruption made the body inert and irrelevant to the question of Trump’s culpability. It may be the case that corruption is the major challenge of our times; after all, those who benefit so richly from corruption tend not to see it as corruption; they see it as entitlement. It’s those at the bottom scrambling and conniving for scraps who are corrupt.

      I’m of the school virtually everyone in this culture is, from the moment the doctor smacks your little pink or brown ass, complicit in the “swamp” to some degree. Even the most saintly get a bit of it on them just waking up in the morning and living life in this circus. We can debate this in theory, of course. My response to the Trump caller was, just because Congress may be corrupt (“the best money can buy”) doesn’t mean citizens should not ask — demand! — that members of Congress find their backbone and do the right thing. The caller and I did not come to a meeting of minds; but we parted on friendly terms.

      Years ago, I photographed the constitutional scholar Robert Hayman (quoted above) who had just written a dense, thoughtful book on intelligence and the law, a book I read end to end and heavily underlined. Hayman’s book was partly motivated by Charles Murray’s controversial book The Bell Curve, which argued, according to Hayman, “smart folks get ahead and not so smart folks don’t.” The book suggested that those “not so smart folks” didn’t deserve to get ahead; it also walked through a minefield of racial (some said “racist”) sociology and history. This would seem to explain why Donald Trump repeatedly dog-whistles Maxine Waters, the tough African American congresswoman from California who advocates impeachment, as “a low IQ individual.”

      As I was photographing Hayman on a street corner for a magazine, I was jumping around snapping frames and making small talk. I said something about current events and the US Constitution and Hayman remarked with a smile and a symbolic patronizing pat on my head.

    • Ukip being turned into ‘anti-Islamic party’ that could soon have Tommy Robinson as leader, defectors say

      Ukip is being turned into an “anti-Islamic party” that could soon have Tommy Robinson as one of its leaders, according to alarmed defectors.

      Three MEPs have resigned in a little over two months, amid infighting over leader Gerard Batten’s shift towards the far right.

      Robinson is currently banned from becoming a member by party rules, but has been inciting his supporters to join Ukip so they can influence its policies.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • #DeleteFacebook: Twitter Users Urge People To Deactivate Accounts After Fake Nancy Pelosi Video Goes Viral

      This is just the latest in a series of gaffes Facebook has faced. Despite the spread of misinformation, they have a problem with fake accounts. CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently revealed the platform removed more than 2 billion bogus accounts between January and March, but he left out there are more active fake accounts operating than before, as Buzzfeed News reported. In the past six months, 5 percent of active Facebook accounts are phony, where, in the past, an estimated 3 to 4 percent of accounts were false.

      Then there’s also Facebook’s problem with protecting users’ data, with the company being hit with three investigations over its privacy practices last month. The investigation came after “hundreds of millions” of Facebook and Instagram user passwords were breached.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Apple Accused of Selling ITunes Customers’ Listening Data

      Apple Inc. was sued by customers who claim the company is unlawfully disclosing and selling information about people’s iTunes purchases as well as their personal data, contrary to the company’s promise in advertising that “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.”

      Three iTunes customers from Rhode Island and Michigan sued Friday in federal court in San Francisco seeking to represent hundreds of thousands of residents of their home states who allegedly had their personal listening information disclosed without their consent.

      The disclosure of iTunes customers’ personal data isn’t only unlawful but can also be dangerous because it allows for targeting vulnerable members of society, according to the complaint.

      “For example, any person or entity could rent a list with the names and addresses of all unmarried, college-educated women over the age of 70 with a household income of over $80,000 who purchased country music from Apple via its iTunes Store mobile application,” the customers said. “Such a list is available for sale for approximately $136 per thousand customers listed.”

      They seek $250 for each Rhode Island iTunes customer whose information was disclosed and $5,000 for each one in Michigan, under the states’ respective privacy laws.

    • Apple Faces Lawsuit For Selling iTunes Data To Third Parties

      Now, when almost every company is facing the privacy heat, the latest one to face the dirt is Apple. A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the company for “intentionally and unlawfully” disclosing people’s iTunes listening data to third parties.

      The suit was filed by 3 people, two of them living in Rhode Island and one in Michigan. First reported by Bloomberg, it alleges that Apple has or is sharing the listening data without users’ consent. The said data could include details like name, age, address, and the history of iTunes music preferences.

    • Karl Dubost: The illusions of privacy (What about intimacy?)

      We have read in the news that big platforms are willing to tackle head on privacy. The word “privacy” became an act of marketing, a way to sell a brand, to grow market shares, to renew or increase trust. This became an object of commerce. We even see debates on who could provide the best solution for a privacy oriented platform or that privacy is a hype.

      For a long time, we know that the amount of data collections by any platforms is humongous.

      In the same time, another topic of concerns has increased : security with different angles.

    • Georgia Supreme Court Rules that State Has No Obligation to Protect Personal Information

      Almost exactly one year after the stringent European General Data Protection Regulation came into effect (May 25, 2019), the Supreme Court of the state of Georgia has ruled (May 20, 2019) that the state government does not have an inherent obligation to protect citizens’ personal information that it stores.

      The ruling relates to a case that dates back to 2013. A Georgia Department of Labor employee inadvertently emailed a spreadsheet containing the names, Social Security numbers, telephone numbers and email addresses of 4,457 people who had applied for benefit to about 1,000 people.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Opposition proceedings before the EUIPO: a lesson from the General Court

        On 2 October 2013, the applicant, KID-Systeme GmbH, filed an application for registration of an EU trade mark with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), for the word sign SKYFi in classes 9 and 37. On 18 February 2014, British Sky Broadcasting Group filed a notice of opposition on the basis, inter alia, of its EU word mark SKY registered on 22 May 214 in classes 9 and 37 and its UK word mark SKY registered on 7 September 2012 in classes 9 and 37.

        The opposition division upheld the opposition, supported also by Article (1)(b) of Regulation 207/2009 while the EUIPO Board of Appeal (BoA) dismissed the appeal against the opposition.

        The applicant filed and appeal against the BoA decision’s based on eight pleas in law.

Organising Techrights

Posted in Site News at 12:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BroomSummary: We’re tidying up the site so as to make it easier to find past material (by clustering topics programmatically)

THIS site is turning 13 in autumn. The IRC channels are over a decade old as well. We have over 5 GB of text in this site (spread across three content management systems) and it has gotten hard to find some things.

A programmer who avidly uses the site has decided to make this list of blog URLs (there are about 25,000 of them in total) and is analysing the contents of all posts using computer programs that take hours to run. The results will soon be made available in the Wiki and maybe, taking bandwidth into account, we shall also make static copies of the site available for download (e.g. for offline reading). Sometimes one needs to pause and tidy up past work. This is what’s happening at the moment (the programmability of it is limited as it’s keywords-based rather than syntactic). Updates on this and some early results will hopefully be available soon.

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