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05.29.19

Links 29/5/2019: Mir 1.2.0 and Flatpak 1.4 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • 11 Tips On Firefox and Chrome: Passwords, Sync Bookmarks, and More

        Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are the most popular web browsers that are being used by people across the world, since quite some time now. Both browsers come with amazing features and hacks.

        There are times when you want to use both the browsers and switch between them. Do you think it is possible, considering the fact that we keep saving data in each of them separately? Yes. It is. Once the data among the two browsers are synced, you can easily switch between the two of them.

        In this article, we will share some useful tips on Firefox and Chrome web browsers: Sync, Bookmarks, Passwords and More.

      • Mozilla Open Design Blog: A glimpse of what’s to come.

        Today we’re presenting new brand marks for Firefox Monitor and Firefox Lockwise. Lockwise? Yes, that’s the official name for the service we’d nicknamed “Lockbox” during its product development phase. The new icons are meant to signal the functions these apps perform. Firefox Monitor, which helps you discover if your email address has been part of a data breach and can alert you about further breaches, is represented by a magnifying glass. Firefox Lockwise, which provides an easy way to store your Firefox passwords and protect your data, suggests both a lock and a profile. The marks reinforce that all of our Firefox products and services help you keep your personal life private.

      • Mozilla Addons Blog: Friend of Add-ons: Martin Giger

        Our newest Friend of Add-ons is Martin Giger! Martin is a leader and member of the Mozilla Switzerland community, an extension developer, and a frequent contributor to Mozilla’s community forums, where he helps people find answers to their questions about extension development. If you have ever visited our forums or joined one of our channels on IRC, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Martin kindly and patiently helping people resolve their issues. (He has also written a great blog post about how to effectively ask for help when you get stuck on a problem.)

        Martin began contributing to Mozilla in the early 2010s when he began localizing a Thunderbird extension into German and building his first Firefox extension. He also became involved with the Nightingle Media Player project, an open-source audio player and web browser based on the Mozilla XULRunner.

  • LibreOffice

    • Writing in Style With LibreOffice

      One of the most attractive aspects of FOSS is that it encourages self-reliance. Where Window users are discouraged from trying to solve problems with their system, FOSS users learn to research online, and then tinker until they find a solution. In many cases, all they need to do is edit a heavily commented text file to change the configuration. However, when I was writing “Designing with LibreOffice” a few years ago, I found one exception to this do-it-yourself tradition: FOSS users are no better than anyone else at learning how to use a word processor. Although the structure of word processors is now decades old, even today relatively few know how to take full advantage of that structure.

      At least two out of three users, in my estimation, approach a word processor as though it were a typewriter, never learning how to use it efficiently. Of course, if you want to work the hard way, there’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone is perfectly free to do things the hard way. I have actually heard people insist on their right to work inefficiently.

      Yet, as Robin Williams emphasizes in the title of a book, “A PC Is Not A Typewriter”, and it is especially unexpected that, in this one case, the hands-on approach of the majority of FOSS users deserts them.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • New “Ranger” Infrastructure On Tap For The GCC 10 Compiler

      Ranger is the on-demand ranger generator being worked on for the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) by Red Hat’s compiler experts for the past several years. Following a recent update on the effort, it looks like Ranger might land for next year’s GCC 10 release after failing to make it in time for GCC 9.

      Ranger allows for querying range information on-demand for SSA names/variables from within anywhere in the IL with minimal overhead, Ranger was originally brought up last year by Red Hat’s Andrew MacLeod and the discussion over it was reignited this past week following the latest status update. With their latest code, the Ranger’ed GCC compiler can build the entire Fedora package set. Using Ranger was found to help the performance in cases where checking the ranges were needed on just a few SSA names.

    • GNU Guile: Join the Guile and Guix Days in Strasbourg, June 21–22!

      We’re organizing Guile Days at the University of Strasbourg, France, co-located with the Perl Workshop, on June 21st and 22nd.

    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 18 new GNU releases in May!

      bison-3.4.1
      cssc-1.4.1
      emms-5.2
      gama-2.05
      gcc-9.1.0
      gdb-8.3
      gettext-0.20.1
      gnunet-0.11.4
      gnupg-2.2.16
      guix-1.0.1
      hyperbole-7.0.3
      libidn-2.2.0
      librejs-7.20.1
      mcron-1.1.2
      orgadoc-1.2
      parallel-20190522
      shepherd-0.6.1
      unifont-12.1.01

  • Programming/Development

    • Continuous Integration With Python

      In this course, you’ll learn the core concepts behind Continuous Integration (CI) and why they are essential for modern software engineering teams.

      Find out how to how set up Continuous Integration for your Python project to automatically create environments, install dependencies, and run tests.

    • EuroPython 2019: Please configure your tickets

      Since our website was updated this year, we would like to remind you how you can configure your tickets and profiles, so that we get the right information for printing badges and adjusting catering counts.

      We also had a few issues with the ticket configuration and assignments last week. As a result, some of the ticket name changes you may have made were lost. Please do consider assigning tickets to other rather than just changing the name on the ticket, since that way, we receive information about the new ticket owner’s preferences as well.

    • EuroPython: EuroPython 2019 Django Girls Workshop

      The workshop is aimed at women with little or no programming experience, but may also be useful if you’ve learned a different discipline (like data science) and would like to learn how to build websites with Django.

      The workshop is free to attend, but you have to apply and be accepted. We only have 30 seats available for the workshop, and we’ll pick the best applicants based on the information you provide you provide on the form.

    • It “officially” begins

      Throughout the summer I will be implementing a feature for GNOME Games. To be more specific, I will be implementing a “Savestates Manager”. The feature itself has already been designed and the details about how it should work are explained very well in this wiki page: https://wiki.gnome.org/Design/Playground/Games/Snapshots

    • Welcome to the Debian Kotlin GSoC blog

      I’ll be using this blog to track progress on packaging Kotlin and report on what I am doing during the GSoC period. So let me go on a head and start with the current progress in packaging Kotlin.

    • Ben Cotton: Pay maintainers! No, not like that!

      A lot of people who work on open source software get paid to do so. Many others do not. And as we learned during the Heartbleed aftermath, sometimes the unpaid (or under-paid) projects are very important. Projects have changed their licenses (e.g. MongoDB, which is now not an open source project by the Open Source Initiative’s definition) in order to cut off large corporations that don’t pay for the free software.

      There’s clearly a broad recognition that maintainers need to be paid in order to sustain the software ecosystem. So if you expect that people are happy with GitHub’s recent announcement of a GitHub Sponsors, you have clearly spent no time in open source software communities. The reaction has had a lot of “pay the maintainers! No, not like that!” which strikes me as being obnoxious and unhelpful.

      GitHub Sponsors is not a perfect model. Bradley Kuhn and Karen Sandler of the Software Freedom Conservancy called it a “quick fix to sustainability“. That’s the most valid criticism. It turns out that money doesn’t solve everything. Throwing money at a project can sometimes add to the burden, not lessen it. Money adds a lot of messiness and overhead to manage it, especially if there’s not a legal entity behind the project. That’s where the services provided by fiscal sponsor organizations like Conservancy come in.

    • Debugging Krita on Android
    • The Digital Cat: The Digital Cat Youtube Channel

      The channel will host workshops and tutorial on Python and other languages, on operating systems, cryptography, and other topics that you can find here on this blog. I just finished recording the first part of my workshop “TDD in Python with pytest”, which was successfully presented at PyCon UK, PyCon IT, PyCon Ireland, EuroPython and PyLadies London, and the 4 videos are already available on the channel.

    • The ROCm Enablement Tool Makes It Easier To Setup AMD’s Open-Source Compute Stack

      While there are the Debian/RPM packages offered of the Radeon Open Compute (ROCm) stack for Linux users on supported distributions, the new “ROCm Enablement Tool” could assist in setting up this GPU compute stack on supported Linux distributions and elsewhere.

      The ROCm Enablement Tool, or RET for short, is a currently experimental tool for setting up the ROCm driver stack as well as associated software like TensorFlow.

    • Bash if..else Statement

      Decision making is one of the most fundamental concepts of computer programming. Like in any other programming language, if, if..else, if..elif..else and nested if statements in Bash can be used to execute code based on a certain condition.

    • Python Core Developer Mentorship
    • Stack Abuse: Image Recognition in Python with TensorFlow and Keras
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #370 (May 28, 2019)
    • For…in Loops: Changing between Javascript and Python.

      If you have come to the point where you have to do Javascript in addition to Python, or Python in addition to Javascript, welcome to modern programming. It’s the order of the day!

      You can barely survive with only one language, as frameworks are proliferating and the technology ecosystem is seeing more and more overlaps. The lines between backend, frontend, and mobile continue to blur. So it’s ok if you are combining Python and Javascript. However, if you are new to this combination, there are some subtle differences to note, else life can become hell.

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Patent case: Chrysostomos A. Kabanellas vs Republic Of Cyprus

      The Court held that the defendant had infringed the claimant’s patent for the removal of suspended particles and removal of boron from the polluted waters, through its installation of recycling systems of semi-clean (grey) water in several premises and had failed to compensate the claimant financially for the use without his consent.

    • I Had an Abortion. It’s None of Your Business Why.

      Last week, I attended a local Day of Action rally to support abortion rights. Along with pleas for donations and participation on the ground, the organizers asked those who had benefited from having an abortion to share their stories. The organizers theorized that by speaking about our experiences, we could personalize the act, humanize it. That perhaps, like sexuality or gender, we should define ourselves by our abortions.

      My social media feeds are filled with the stories of brave souls offering their traumas in sacrifice to the justification for abortion. For many, there is a profound emotional element in the decision to abort. They confess every reason for their decision as if begging for forgiveness. Rape victims. Incest victims. Abuse victims. Unviable fetuses. Potentially fatal complications for either mother or child.

      My heart aches for them, truly. I believe their motivations are noble. But their stories shift the focus from how this argument should really be framed.

      What about those of us who aren’t victims? What about those who simply happened to find ourselves pregnant? Abortion doesn’t have to be motivated by trauma.

    • Export of Banned US Pesticides Creates a Deadly Circle of Poison

      An astonishing double standard exists in the United States. When the federal government bans a pesticide, pro-industry loopholes allow agrochemical companies to recoup lost profits by manufacturing the same pesticide for use abroad. In 2013, data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed that pesticides — banned, restricted or unregistered in the U.S. — were manufactured in 23 states for export to other countries.

      With no comprehensive global regulatory framework to guide policy for transport, storage and use, the U.S. consciously subjects vulnerable agricultural workers overseas to chemicals known to cause harm and death, and widens international dependence of agriculture on pesticides. Every registered pesticide has a “tolerance” of how much residue can remain on a food product before it is deemed unsafe for human consumption. Pesticides deemed too dangerous or unregistered with the EPA cannot be sold in the U.S. Therefore, the same chemical should be deemed too dangerous to be used on foreign-grown food that will be eaten by Americans.

      In 2015, the six largest pesticide producers controlled 75 percent of the pesticide market; over the past three decades, collusion between government, regulators and powerful lobbyists have blocked all efforts to stem the steady tide of chemical pesticide use. The EPA has no mandate to collect comprehensive data on pesticide exports and cannot access corporate export declarations. The most recent data are from nearly two decades ago. An exhaustive study found that from 2001 to 2003, the U.S. exported 28 million pounds of banned, severely restricted or unregistered pesticides to foreign countries — nearly 13 tons per day.

      While the U.S. is required to inform countries when a pesticide is not registered in the U.S., there is no assurance that the receiving official will forward the data to the user of the chemical. Agrochemical companies can satisfy labeling requirements simply by placing labels on shipping containers rather than on the product container.

      The burden of regulatory precautions disproportionately falls on developing countries — such as Ecuador, Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia — located mainly in South America and Southeast Asia. An overwhelming number of fatalities, some 99 percent, occur in countries in the Global South, where regulations are weaker. Vulnerable to both acute and chronic poisoning, agricultural workers are routinely exposed to toxic pesticides via spray, drift, or direct contact with treated crops and soil and from accidental spills. Chronic exposure has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, hormone disruption, sterility, suicide and numerous neurological health effects. Acute health problems range from skin disorders to death, and include respiratory, gastrointestinal, circulatory and neurological disease.

    • EPA’s Proposal for Limiting Rocket Fuel in Drinking Water Is Dangerous to Public Health

      After a decade of delay, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally proposed a limit for levels of the toxic chemical perchlorate (a component of rocket fuel) in drinking water — except the newly proposed standard of 56 parts per billion is 10 to 50 times higher than what scientists recommend.

  • Security

    • Winnti’s Linux variant discovered bearing ties with Chinese hackers [Ed: This relies on servers that are already cracked. Has roots in Russia, too. It's a Windows 'thing'.]
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Introducing the Ubuntu security podcast

      The Ubuntu Security Podcast is a weekly podcast covering all the latest news and developments from the Ubuntu Security team. Each week the team discuss the various security updates that have been published across the Ubuntu releases, describing the technical details of both the security vulnerabilities as well as the fixes involved. Due to the expansive nature of the software packages provided by Ubuntu, each episode usually covers a diverse range of security issues, from buffer overflows, use-after-free’s and cache side-channel attacks; to cross-site scripting and cross-site request forgery. Whilst describing the various vulnerabilities, their impact is also covered, ranging from the low (denial of service, information disclosure etc) to the higher end of the spectrum (remote code execution, privilege escalation etc). Detailed show notes are also published along with each episode, referencing the particular CVEs discussed as well as their details.

    • Kernel 5.2-rc2 Is Out, Ubuntu Security Team’s New Podcast, the E Foundation’s Refurbished Phones with /e/ OS Available Soon, Mozilla Announces Firefox 68 Beta 6 Test Day and PostgreSQL 12 Beta Released

      The Ubuntu Security Team announces its new Ubuntu Security Podcast. The weekly podcast will cover “the various security updates that have been published across the Ubuntu releases, describing the technical details of both the security vulnerabilities as well as the fixes involved”. The podcast is available from iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts or RSS.

    • What Red Hat learns at our Security Symposium events: a product manager’s point of view

      Recently, I was asked to speak at one of Red Hat’s regional events, the Security Symposium series, which was an absolutely easy decision to make : Yes, I would much enjoy attending, speaking and, most importantly, listening at this event. Which brings me to why I wrote this post: What have I learned from participating in these events? What might you learn by attending?

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Russian boy playing on swing as inferno rages nearby proves that ‘this is fine’ in Noyabrsk

      A two-story residential building recently burned to the ground in Noyabrsk, the largest city in Russia’s Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The building was evacuated in time, nobody was hurt, and the blaze attracted a small crowd of local gawkers. The spectacle didn’t impress everyone, however, as demonstrated by a now viral video showing a boy playing on a swing set (with his back turned to the inferno).

      The footage first appeared on a local VKontakte group. According to the website Ura.ru, the boy’s name is Dima and he’s nine years old. Dima’s relatives say he was out playing with his friends and “just really wanted to go on the swing for a bit.”

    • My Pentagon Regret

      Earlier this month, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group — the massive aircraft carrier itself with its dozens of warplanes and thousands of sailors and marines, a guided missile cruiser, and four destroyers — suddenly began to make its way from the Mediterranean Sea into the Persian Gulf, heading for the waters off Iran. Pentagon sources spoke of ominous but unspecified threats. The U.S. military moved into a showy state of readiness, with reports that a force of up to 120,000 troops might be mobilized and sent to the Middle East for a possible future war with Iran.

      In the Trump era, such American saber rattling, especially by hyper-hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton, feels so unnervingly routine that it might not have even made me sit up. Then I read that the latest Middle East deployment included a task force of — god save us from memory! — B-52s, the massive strategic bombers dating from the 1950s that wreaked such havoc in the first great war of my adulthood: Vietnam.

      Even as that now-ancient national trauma popped back into my mind, I chastised myself. Not every provocative U.S. naval deployment in sketchy waters off some distant coast is a set-up for a replay of the Gulf of Tonkin, that war-igniting North Vietnamese “attack” on U.S. destroyers that never was. I reminded myself as well that just because Bolton is sounding the alarm doesn’t mean his counterparts in Tehran are harmless or that Donald Trump, who years ago warned against a president launching an attack on Iran to win a future election, would be willing to go there. Why, oh why, I kept asking myself, won’t that antiwar trick knee of mine stop jerking?

      The Ghost Bomber Flies Again, or 12 Drummers Drumming

      But B-52s? I just couldn’t get them out of my mind. How could those aged monsters with their massive swept-wings, eight pylon-mounted engines, and 70,000-pound payloads of bombs still be flying?

      B-52s were brought into service in the 1950s as the emissaries of an orgasmic, potentially civilization-destroying nuclear assault against hundreds of cities in the Soviet Union and communist China. Thank god, it never came to that, but then the B-52 was reconfigured as the ultimate instrument of carpet-bombing in Vietnam, leveling vast numbers of mile-square “target boxes” across that land. Its crowning performance, however, didn’t come until near that war’s end: the “Christmas bombing” of 1972. From December 13th to December 29th, over the mythic 12 days of Christmas, like so many drummers drumming, wave after wave of those strategic bombers were sent against previously off-limit targets in and around the North Vietnamese cities of Hanoi and Haiphong. It would prove to be the biggest heavy bomber assault since World War II.

      Then an antiwar activist and a priest, I was among those who, as soon as we heard about the bombing campaign, assumed our country was engaged in a war crime of the first order — a modern Guernica, as the French newspaper Le Monde put it. Events would prove us right and, yes, the B-52 has haunted me ever since. That’s why the news of its latest provocative deployment against Iran takes me back across the years to a set of as-yet-unreckoned-with mistakes — ones that are distinctly the property of the Pentagon, but also, given the U.S. wars that followed, the American people. That’s why, as recent events began to unfold, I found myself returning to what I still consider my own mistake rooted in the absurdity of that distant moment almost half a century ago, one that I suddenly felt a need to revisit.

    • As US Rattles Its Sabers at Tehran, Where’s the Protest?

      Earlier this month, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group — the massive aircraft carrier itself with its dozens of warplanes and thousands of sailors and marines, a guided missile cruiser, and four destroyers — suddenly began to make its way from the Mediterranean Sea into the Persian Gulf, heading for the waters off Iran. Pentagon sources spoke of ominous but unspecified threats. The U.S. military moved into a showy state of readiness, with reports that a force of up to 120,000 troops might be mobilized and sent to the Middle East for a possible future war with Iran.

      In the Trump era, such American saber rattling, especially by hyper-hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton, feels so unnervingly routine that it might not have even made me sit up. Then I read that the latest Middle East deployment included a task force of — god save us from memory! — B-52s, the massive strategic bombers dating from the 1950s that wreaked such havoc in the first great war of my adulthood: Vietnam.

      Even as that now-ancient national trauma popped back into my mind, I chastised myself. Not every provocative U.S. naval deployment in sketchy waters off some distant coast is a set-up for a replay of the Gulf of Tonkin, that war-igniting North Vietnamese “attack” on U.S. destroyers that never was. I reminded myself as well that just because Bolton is sounding the alarm doesn’t mean his counterparts in Tehran are harmless or that Donald Trump, who years ago warned against a president launching an attack on Iran to win a future election, would be willing to go there. Why, oh why, I kept asking myself, won’t that antiwar trick knee of mine stop jerking?

    • If Trump really only wants ‘No Iranian Nukes,’ then he should just rejoin the Nuclear Deal

      Trump said at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister ABE Shinzo, “We aren’t looking for regime change – I just want to make that clear. We are looking for no nuclear weapons. I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to happen. It has a chance to be a great country with the same leadership.”

      Trump breached the treaty the US and other members of the UN Security Council signed with Iran in 2015, which aimed precisely at forestalling Iran from having nuclear weapons.

      Editors and journalists and US politicians seem perpetually confused about the difference between a civilian nuclear enrichment program and a weapons program.

      Iran has not had a weapons program since 2002, and that program was rudimentary. The cult-like People’s Jihadis (Mojahedin-e Khalq or MEK) outed the program in that year, and the Iranian government mothballed it. The People’s Jihadis are a small fanatical Iranian dissident group once hosted by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, which has carried out large terrorist attacks.

    • ‘It Is Not a Forum for Coup-Mongering,’ Venezuelan Official Says After US Walks Out of Arms Control Conference

      A U.S. official walked out of the United Nations-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday after a representative from the elected government of Venezuela assumed the rotating chairmanship of the forum.

      Robert Wood, the American disarmament ambassador, told reporters after leaving the conference that U.S.-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó “should be in this body, should be sitting in that chair right now.”

      “The former Maduro regime is in essence dead, it just doesn’t want to lay down,” said Wood, who announced the U.S. will be boycotting the conference as long as Venezuela ambassador Jorge Valero is chairing it.

      According to Reuters, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile—which joined the U.S. in recognizing Guaidó as Venezuela’s “interim president”—are also boycotting the forum, which was designed to promote negotiations on nuclear disarmament and other arms control matters.

      Wood’s decision to walk out of the U.N. conference comes just weeks after Guaidó’s failed “military uprising” against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

    • The Deep State and the Doomsday Machine: A Conversation between Peter Dale Scott and Daniel Ellsberg

      This Project Censored episode presents the first recorded interview of Daniel Ellsberg and Peter Dale Scott together.

      [...]

      Peter Dale Scott is a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a poet, writer, and researcher. His prose books include The War Conspiracy (1972, updated in 2008), Crime and Cover-Up: The CIA, the Mafia, and the Dallas-Watergate Connection (1977), The Iran-Contra Connection (in collaboration, 1987), Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America (in collaboration, 1991, 1998), Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993, 1996), Deep Politics Two (1994, 1995, 2006), Drugs Oil and War (2003), The Road to 9/11 (2007), American War Machine (2010), and The American Deep State (2014). His chief poetry books are the three volumes of his trilogy Seculum, including Coming to Jakarta: A Poem About Terror (1989), Listening to the Candle: A Poem on Impulse (1992), and Minding the Darkness: A Poem for the Year 2000. In November 2002 he was awarded the Lannan Poetry Award. An anti-war speaker during the Vietnam and Gulf Wars, he was a co-founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at UC Berkeley, and of the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA).

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Lithuania arrests local ‘Sputnik’ editor-in-chief, barring him from country for five years as ‘national security threat’

      Marat Kasem, the editor-in-chief of the Russian state media network Sputnik Lithuania, was arrested at when arriving at the airport in Vilnius, where he was informed that he’s been barred from entering the country for the next five years. Kasem told the news agency RIA Novosti that the Lithuanian authorities have designated him as a national security threat.

    • The Indictment of Assange Is a Blueprint for Making Journalists Into Felons

      The U.S. government on Thursday unveiled an 18-count indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, charging him under the 1917 Espionage Act for his role in the 2010 publication of a trove of secret documents relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and diplomatic communications regarding dozens of nations. So extreme and unprecedented are the indictment’s legal theories and likely consequences that it shocked and alarmed even many of Assange’s most virulent critics.

      The new indictment against Assange bears no relationship to WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign documents or any of its other activities during the 2016 presidential campaign. Instead, it covers only publication of a massive archive of classified U.S. government documents that revealed a multitude of previously unknown, highly significant information about wars, government and corporate corruption, and official deceit. WikiLeaks, in 2010, published those materials in partnership with some of the largest media outlets in the world, including the New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El Pais, outlets that published many of the same secret documents that form the basis of the criminal case against Assange.

      With these new charges, the Trump administration is aggressively and explicitly seeking to obliterate the last reliable buffer protecting journalism in the United States from being criminalized, a step that no previous administration, no matter how hostile to journalistic freedom, was willing to take. The U.S. government has been eager to prosecute Assange since the 2010 leaks. Until now, though, officials had refrained because they concluded it was impossible to distinguish WikiLeaks’ actions from the typical business of mainstream media outlets. Indicting Assange for the act of publishing would thus make journalism a felony. By charging Assange under the Espionage Act, the Trump administration proved that the asylum Assange obtained from Ecuador in 2012 — offered in the name of protecting him from persecution by the United States for publishing newsworthy documents — was necessary and justified.

      The argument offered by both the Trump administration and by some members of the self-styled “resistance” to Trump is, ironically, the same: that Assange isn’t a journalist at all and thus deserves no free press protections. But this claim overlooks the indictment’s real danger and, worse, displays a wholesale ignorance of the First Amendment. Press freedoms belong to everyone, not to a select, privileged group of citizens called “journalists.” Empowering prosecutors to decide who does or doesn’t deserve press protections would restrict “freedom of the press” to a small, cloistered priesthood of privileged citizens designated by the government as “journalists.” The First Amendment was written to avoid precisely that danger.

    • Abuses show Assange case was never about law

      It is astonishing how often one still hears well-informed, otherwise reasonable people say about Julian Assange: “But he ran away from Swedish rape charges by hiding in Ecuador’s embassy in London.”

      That short sentence includes at least three factual errors. In fact, to repeat it, as so many people do, you would need to have been hiding under a rock for the past decade – or, amounting to much the same thing, been relying on the corporate media for your information about Assange, including from supposedly liberal outlets such as the Guardian and the BBC.

    • Federal Prosecutors Questioned The Assange Prosecution, But Their Concerns Were Ignored By The DOJ

      The DOJ spent several years toying with the idea of prosecuting Julian Assange for the publication of leaked documents. It finally pulled the trigger earlier this year, utilizing UK police to pick up the ousted Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy. There was only a single charge related to cracking passwords protecting classified documents. It wasn’t much of an indictment, but it initially appeared the DOJ might steer clear of the First Amendment… well, at least as well as it’s capable of doing.

      That all changed last week. The DOJ brought a new indictment, loaded with charges and First Amendment implications. It was no longer limited to some password-cracking attempts that went further than receiving sensitive files from a source. The new indictment basically turns journalism into treason. Things journalists do every day, like cultivating sources, seeking out leakers/whistleblowers, and publishing the results of these efforts are all treated as Espionage Act violations.

      The charges are so broad, they cover more than the day-to-day business of journalism. If all it takes is asking someone to hand over sensitive documents, it’s likely Donald Trump himself violated the Espionage Act while still on the campaign trail when he informally asked Russia to dig up 30,000 emails from then-State Department head Hillary Clinton’s servers.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • European Greens Surpass Mainstream Parties Over Climate

      Europe’s Green parties have emerged as potential kingmakers following the European parliamentary elections last weekend that saw Europe’s center right and center left parties lose their majority in the EU’s governing body, The Washington Post reported Monday.

    • High-tech fishing gear could help save critically endangered right whales

      Many fish, marine mammals and seabirds that inhabit the world’s oceans are critically endangered, but few are as close to the brink as the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Only about 411 of these whales exist today, and at their current rate of decline, they could become extinct within our lifetimes.

      From 1980 through about 2010, conservation efforts focused mainly on protecting whales from being struck by ships. Federal regulations helped reduce vessel collisions and supported a slight rebound in right whale numbers.

      But at the same time, growing numbers of right whales died after becoming entangled in lobster and crab fishing gear. This may have happened because fishing ropes became stronger, and both whales and fishermen shifted their ranges so that areas of overlap increased. Entanglement has caused 80% of diagnosed mortalities since 2010, and the population has taken a significant downward turn.

    • Why Don’t We Hear About More Species Going Extinct?

      We’ve been hearing it for years: The world is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis, with species going extinct at a rate 1,000 times faster because of human impact on the environment.

      Most recently a report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services estimated that as many as a million species risk extinction in the coming decades due to human-related activities.

      All of which raises the question: If so many species are going extinct, why don’t we hear about new extinctions every day?

      The answer to that question is more complex than you might think.

    • Trump Administration Is Restricting How Scientists Conduct Climate Science

      The Trump administration is changing the way some government agencies conduct climate science, The New York Times reported Monday, limiting them from assessing the future consequences and worst-possible outcomes of climate change.

    • Trump Administration Hardens Its Attack on Climate Science

      President Trump has rolled back environmental regulations, pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, brushed aside dire predictions about the effects of climate change, and turned the term “global warming” into a punch line rather than a prognosis.

      Now, after two years spent unraveling the policies of his predecessors, Mr. Trump and his political appointees are launching a new assault.

      In the next few months, the White House will complete the rollback of the most significant federal effort to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, initiated during the Obama administration. It will expand its efforts to impose Mr. Trump’s hard-line views on other nations, building on his retreat from the Paris accord and his recent refusal to sign a communiqué to protect the rapidly melting Arctic region unless it was stripped of any references to climate change.

      And, in what could be Mr. Trump’s most consequential action yet, his administration will seek to undermine the very science on which climate change policy rests.

    • From Nuclear Debris to Dying Coral, Scientific Panel Votes to Recognize the Destructive Impact of the ‘Anthropocene’

      In a step toward formally recognizing that humankind—with its incessant burning of fossil fuels, use of nuclear weapons, and more—has dramatically altered the state of planet Earth, a panel of prominent scientists voted last week to designate a new geological epoch titled the “Anthropocene.”

      The 34-member Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) is expected to submit a proposal to the International Commission on Stratigraphy to officially recognize the Anthropocene—which means “age of man”—by 2021.

      According to Nature’s Meera Subramanian, 29 members of the AWG voted “in favor of starting the new epoch in the mid-twentieth century, when a rapidly rising human population accelerated the pace of industrial production, the use of agricultural chemicals, and other human activities.”

      “At the same time,” Subramanian reported, “the first atomic-bomb blasts littered the globe with radioactive debris that became embedded in sediments and glacial ice, becoming part of the geologic record.”

    • After Years of Abuse, the Earth Has Sent Its Bill Collectors

      Does Mother Nature have a sense of irony?

      To answer that question, look no further than the lone star tick. Although the tick’s traditional range in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic includes the eastern half of the Lone Star State of Texas, it gets its name from a white, star-like “splotch” on its back. But thanks to climate change, this nettlesome little critter is on the move. It’s moving into the Northeast as far as Maine. And it’s gone well past its usual bailiwick in the Ohio Valley to make its way into the upper Midwest and into Wisconsin.

      It’s not surprising that ticks, like half of all species, are moving with the changing climate. What is surprising is what the lone star tick brings with it. No, it’s not Lyme disease, although warming-catalyzed deer ticks are spreading that debilitating malady into new areas. Instead, the lone star tick carries another little-known disease—alpha-gal syndrome.

      The term “alpha-gal” comes from name of the sugar molecule that, according to the Mayo Clinic, can lead to hives, eczema, swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, as well as wheezing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, headaches and even the potentially deadly interruption of normal breathing by anaphylaxis. However, these symptoms may not follow after a bite. In fact, it might take a while for an infected person to feel the full impact of a newly acquired syndrome.

      That’s because alpha-gal syndrome often expresses itself hours after the infected person eats a big, juicy steak. Or pork chops. Or a cheeseburger. Yup, the lone star tick is spreading a meat allergy. It’s severe, too. One unfortunate victim profiled in Mosaic cannot risk eating the “meat of mammals and everything else that comes from them: dairy products, wool and fibre, gelatine from their hooves, char from their bones.” Alpha-gal’s delayed trigger also makes it hard to diagnose. People often don’t connect their symptoms with eating a meal they’ve eaten without consequence throughout their whole lives.

      That’s a big deal in the U.S., where meat is king and it’s cheap and plentiful, thanks in no small part to industrial-grade agriculture. In 2018, Americans broke their previous record for meat consumption, gobbling down 222.2 pounds of meat and poultry per person, according a United States Department of Agriculture estimate. Americans’ beef consumption is four times higher than the world average, according to the World Resources Institute. The consumption of dairy was also on track to hit an all-time high in 2018.

    • Tear gas’ environmental toll

      In a garden just off the main drag in Bethlehem, a bright-eyed Palestinian man named Muhammad Saleh talked to a visiting group about a crate full of empty tear gas canisters.

      The canisters, manufactured in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, at Combined Systems, Inc., were a stark contrast to Saleh’s surroundings: dressed in a bright blue hoodie, he was serving visitors coffee and sage tea, showing off flowers and plants, ancient stone terraces, and jars of saved heirloom seeds behind a restored mansion called Dar Jacir that’s now a Palestinian-run art space. Emily Jacir, founding director of Dar Jacir, collected the canisters at her family’s home, which is frequently doused with tear gas.

      Saleh talked quickly, tangentially, explaining the need for permaculture—sustainable and self-sufficient agricultural practices—in Palestine. His parents were refugees from Tiberias, in the Galilee, removed from their land and agricultural practices after the 1948 war, referred to by Palestinians as the Nakba or catastrophe. He grew up a refugee in an urban environment, and it took him awhile to realize his need to connect to the natural world.

    • Green Party Wins Record Support in EU Elections as Youth-Led Climate Strikes Grow

      The Green Party soared in popularity in many nations in the European parliamentary elections, placing second in Germany and making gains in Finland, France and Ireland. The next president of the European Commission will likely be Bas Eickhout of the Dutch Green Party. We speak with Luisa Neubauer, a youth climate activist and member of the German Green Party, about the party’s next steps.

    • Plastic waste dumped in Malaysia will be returned to UK, US and others

      Malaysia will return 450 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste to the countries that shipped it, in a refusal to become a dumping ground for the world’s trash.

      Nine shipping containers at Port Klang, west of Kuala Lumpur, on Tuesday were found to contain mislabeled plastic and non-recyclable waste, including a mixture of household and e-waste.

      Yeo Bee Yin, minister of energy, science, technology, environment and climate change, said the plastic was shipped from the US, the UK, Australia, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, the Netherlands and Singapore.

    • Rare White Panda Photographed for First Time Ever

      Albinism does not impact the overall health of animals, but it can make it harder for them to survive, according to National Geographic. That’s because albino animals often have poor eyesight, which makes finding food more difficult. They also sometimes have a hard time finding mates and can stand out to predators or poachers. This panda seems to be doing well, however.

      “The panda looked strong and his steps were steady, a sign that the genetic mutation may not have quite impeded its life,” Li said, according to CNN.

      The panda is one to two years old, and the photographs did not reveal its sex, researchers said, according to The Guardian.

      Albinism is a recessive condition, which means both parents must have the gene and pass it onto their offspring in order for it to manifest. Scientists from the China Conservation and Research Centre therefore believe the condition must be present in the Wolong panda population. Authorities plan to install more cameras to track the panda’s movements and see if it passes the trait on to its children.

    • Op-Ed: Exxon’s Climate Denial Again Under Pressure at Investors Meeting

      The world was recently stunned to see the highest ever recorded concentration of carbon dioxide in our planet’s atmosphere: 415 parts per million, and rising. This figure, the highest in the millions of years that humans have existed, is unthinkably ominous to most of us. Yet it was no surprise for the company responsible for emitting a good share of that CO2: Exxon’s own scientists predicted this grim milestone with eerie accuracy way back in 1982.

      If Exxon knew back then, what is the company doing to tackle the growing greenhouse gas emissions that are already causing a climate and extinction crisis? ExxonMobil investors, and the public, deserve to know. The company’s response has been to bury its head in the sand and continue with business as usual. But that is not cutting it, and this week’s annual general meeting (AGM) is a major test, with the company facing a push by some of its investors such as New York state pension fund to oust the entire board.

    • With Viral Tweet, Activist Urges Defeat of Massive Grand Canyon Development That Threatens Local Tribe’s Water

      A grassroots campaign is calling on anyone who opposes a huge new development just a few miles from Grand Canyon National Park to make their objections known to local officials as the government of a nearby town prepares to vote on the building of a new housing, retail, and entertainment complex.

      A Twitter thread by a grassroots activist called “Jack” went viral Monday, gaining more than 100,000 re-tweets in about 24 hours as users read about an Italian development company’s plans to build a convention center, a spa, more than 2,000 homes, and potentially a water park just 10 miles from the beloved national landmark.

      In addition to changing the landscape of the Grand Canyon’s southern rim, the thread explained, the creation of such an expansive development would threaten the sole water source used by the local Havasupai Tribe.

      “If any of my tweets ever go viral I hope it’s this one,” wrote Jack. “There’s no national news coverage about this and some very rich people want to keep it that way.”

  • Finance

    • An Anti-Trust Reboot Could Give Democrats Traction in Rural America

      Democrats need to study history and follow the example of Theodore Roosevelt, in other words, become “trust busters.” Roosevelt was a Republican and his willingness to confront the monopolists of his day earned him scorn from some, yet enough support to win the Presidency in 1904. Eventually, the Democratic Party took up the gauntlet of Progressivism from Roosevelt and other courageous and successful politicians, like Bob LaFollette – finally passing it to Franklin Roosevelt, a man of wealth accused of being “a traitor to his class”.

      Progressivism is growing within the Democratic party. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Jon Tester (D-MT) and Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) have coauthored a bill to place an immediate moratorium on large acquisitions and mergers in the food and agriculture sector. Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have insisted it is long past time to break up agribusiness giants.

      The problems are clear – overall, farm incomes in 2018 reached a 12-year low. As 2019 unfolds, a positive turnaround is uncertain. In Wisconsin, farm bankruptcies continue, and the ongoing trade dispute with the Chinese government led by the Trump administration continues to pull down grain prices.

    • The Kochs Are Rebranding Themselves as Do-Gooders. Don’t Be Fooled.

      There’s a new Koch organization in town. Instead of trying to buy politicians to do the bidding of billionaires, as Charles and David Koch have historically done, their rebranded network now says they will support community groups trying to cure the miseries of eons – everything from poverty to addiction.

      And they’ve got some street cred, having successfully worked with liberal commentator Van Jones to secure legislation to reduce mass incarceration. Billionaire Charles Koch says the mission is this: “We must stand together to help every person rise.”

      That is some good stuff, right there. It’s what labor unions have always preached – workers must stand together to gain the collective power essential to pull every one of them up. It works, too. In the middle of the last century, collective bargaining created the great American middle class.

      There’s an important difference, though, between the work of labor unions and billionaire-funded organizations. Labor unions are created and controlled by workers. Billionaire-funded organizations are beholden to billionaires.

      What could be so bad, though, about accepting gifts from billionaires? Just last week, billionaire Robert F. Smith promised to pay off the student loans of 396 graduates of Morehouse College. That means these young people get to launch their careers without the burden of debt. Smith granted the loan forgiveness with no stipulations other than urging every member of the class of 2019 to do what they could to pay it forward – that is, help others achieve as well.

      [...]

      Here’s the thing: Maybe it’s nice that some billionaires are willing to give. But billionaires’ “gifts” too often bear self-dealing strings. And handouts make many workers queasy anyway. They’d rather earn their own money and make their own decisions.

      For Americans to achieve real freedom and self-governance, some of the billions that flow into the pockets of the already rich must go instead into the paychecks of the workers whose sweat creates profits. Political bribes, like the $500,000 the Kochs gave Ryan, must be outlawed. And the rich must be properly taxed so that the nation can afford to pave its roads, send its youngsters to affordable, properly government-supported technical schools and colleges, and restore its once-great middle class. American workers want autonomy, not charity, to help every person rise.

    • Connecticut Workers Fought for a $15 Minimum Wage — and Won

      Takara Gilbert has long worked in Connecticut for the minimum wage, which has been $10.10 an hour since the beginning of 2017. She currently works at McDonald’s, but she’s also worked at retail stores like Home Goods and Marshall’s.

      In every job, she’s put in her “blood, sweat and tears,” she said, but has still made the same pay. “Each job is different and unique, but you still make the same.” And it’s made life for her and her family very difficult.

      “It’s a catastrophe,” Gilbert said. She’s currently helping pay the bills for her father because a couple of months ago he had a stroke and has been out on disability, but his checks weren’t stretching far enough. But her minimum wage paycheck also doesn’t go far enough. “It’s hard to pay bills on time,” she said, noting her family is “extremely behind” on the electric bill. She buys the minimum amount of groceries needed to get through each week. “My family, we’ve never been out to a restaurant, we’ve never had the luxurious things,” Gilbert said.

      “It’s so sad, honestly sometimes I cry myself to sleep because I feel like I’m not doing enough to provide for my family,” she added. “It literally kills me inside.”

      But Gilbert is one of more than 330,000 workers in Connecticut who will soon be getting a raise. After the state legislature passed a bill to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023, Gov. Ned Lamont signed it into law on Tuesday, May 28, 2019.

      The push to increase Connecticut’s minimum wage to $15 an hour began five years ago, with the inception of the Fight for 15 movement that has staged a series of increasingly large strikes across the country to demand that wage floor. But in Connecticut, the movement hit “many years of frustration,” said Juan Hernandez, vice president of 32BJ SEIU in Connecticut, because “politics got in the way.” Lawmakers stood opposed, and the business lobby fought against increases, even arguing that raising it to $10.10 an hour would make companies flee the state.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • EU Parliamentary Elections: Left and Far-Right Parties Gain as Centrists Falter

      The European Union elections concluded over the weekend, with centrist parties losing dozens of seat while far-right and Green candidates made significant strides. In France, the far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen narrowly beat the centrist alliance led by French President Emmanuel Macron. In Italy, the far-right nationalist League party placed first, winning 34% of the vote. The party is led by Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. While right-wing euroskeptic parties slightly increased their power in the EU assembly, about 75% of voters still backed parties that support Europe. We speak with David Adler, the policy coordinator for the Democracy in Europe Movement, or DiEM25.

    • Can Socialism Save American Democracy?

      It was all but a formal declaration of his re-election strategy. “Here in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” President Donald Trump bellowed during his State of the Union address in February. “Tonight, we renew our resolve that this will never be a socialist country.” (It should be noted that the line earned applause from several congressional Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.)

      Since then, such declarations among Republicans have only gotten louder and more febrile, culminating in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recent call to make 2020 a “referendum on socialism.” McConnell’s remarks beg the question: Amid the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in American history, is this still the reliable line of attack the GOP seems to think it is?

      In the preface to his new book, “The Socialist Manifesto,” Jacobin founder and editor Bhaskar Sunkara argues that “it’s obvious things are changing,” and data would appear to support his claim. According to the latest Gallup poll, “43 percent of Americans say socialism would be a good thing for the country,” between 1% and 2% more than approve of the president’s job performance. Among people of color, that number climbs to 57%.

      Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a self-described democratic socialist, is one of the top contenders for the Democratic nomination, and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has emerged as one of the leading voices within the party (her national approval ratings have remained relatively low, thanks in no small part to Fox News’ coverage of her every utterance). Meanwhile, the Democratic Socialists of America has seen its membership soar from around 6,000 between 2011 and 2015 to 56,000—a modest number that nonetheless reflects a growing interest in its politics.

    • After Attempted Voter Purge, Texas Secretary of State Resigns

      Elections have consequences — but even some losers eventually see long-term wins.

      While Beto O’Rourke’s campaign for the U.S. Senate ultimately ended in his defeat last fall, the Democratic challenger to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, oversaw such a massive surge in voter turnout that his coattails allowed several state Senate seats to flip to the Democrats. Those stage legislators just blocked the confirmation of Texas’ chief voter suppressor.

      The ill-fated and short-lived tenure of Texas Secretary of State David Whitley officially came to end on Monday after months of controversy. Whitley was appointed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on an interim basis after the previous secretary of state resigned. Whitley left his job as Abbott’s deputy chief of staff in December and immediately began a campaign to purge nearly 100,000 voters from the Texas voter rolls. His botched suppression effort pulled Texas into three federal lawsuits, prompted a congressional investigation over concerns of voting rights violations, and frayed the relationship between the state’s election office and local election officials.

      In January, just one month after taking the job as Texas’ top election official, Whitley announced that an investigation by his office had identified almost 100,000 potential non-citizens who had illegally registered to vote, including nearly 60,000 Texans who had cast at least one ballot since 1996. Whitley also said he referred the list of names to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and county election administrators, urging them to investigate the names on the list for possible prosecution. President Trump, to no one’s surprise was quick to use Whitley’s claim as evidence of widespread election fraud.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Local bureaucrat who body-slammed a journalist says the reporter committed Russia’s felony offense of insulting a state official

      The head of the Shirinsky District in Khakassia, who attacked an interviewer earlier this month, has filed a police report against the television film crew that came to his office. Sergey Zaitsev accuses the reporters of the felony offense of publicly insulting a state official. According to the TV station 360, the district political council of the party United Russia met on May 28 and endorsed Zaitsev’s complaint.

    • Germany’s AKK accused of calling for ‘censorship’ during election campaign

      Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is often referred to by the initials AKK, the leader of Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is facing heavy criticism after proposing a debate on the regulation of political views on the internet during election campaigns.
      The plan was broached on Monday following the party’s battering in the weekend’s European Parliament elections. The CDU and its CSU ally won 28% of the vote — a drop of seven percentage points from 2014.
      Just days before the election, German YouTube star Rezo released a video in which he urged voters to punish the CDU and its coalition partner the Social Democrats (SPD) over climate inaction. The clip went viral and led to 70 other influential YouTubers reiterating his message in another video aimed at young voters.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Fines Aren’t Enough: Here’s How the FTC Can Make Facebook Better

      The Federal Trade Commission is likely to announce that Facebook’s many violations of users’ privacy in recent years also violated its consent decree with the commission. In its financial filings, Facebook has indicated that it expects to be fined between $3 and $5 billion by the FTC. But punitive fines alone, no matter the size, are unlikely to change the overlapping privacy and competition harms at the center of Facebook’s business model. Whether or not it levies fines, the FTC should use its power to make Facebook better in meaningful ways. A new settlement with the company could compel it to change its behavior. We have some suggestions.

      A $3 billion fine would be, by far, the largest privacy-related fine in the FTC’s history. The biggest to date was $22.5 million, levied against Google in 2012. But even after setting aside $3 billion to cover a potential fine, Facebook still managed to rake in $3.3 billion in profit during the first quarter of 2019. It’s rumored that Facebook will agree to create a “privacy committee” as part of this settlement. But the company needs to change its actions, not just its org chart. That’s why the settlement the FTC is negotiating now also needs to include limits on Facebook’s behavior.

    • Data Science vs. Machine Learning: 15 Best Things You Need To Know

      We observe the contribution of artificial intelligence, data science, and machine learning in modern technology like the self-driving car, ride sharing app, smart personal assistant, and so forth. So, these terms are now buzzwords for us that we talk about these all the time, but we don’t understand these in depth. Also, as a layman, these are complex terms for us. Though data science covers machine learning, there is a distinction between data science vs. machine learning from insight. In this article, we have described both of these terms in simple words. So, you can get a clear idea of these fields and distinctions between them. Before going into the details, you might be interested in my previous article, which is also closely related to data science – Data Mining vs. Machine Learning.

    • If Regulators Won’t Stop The Sale of Cell Phone Users’ Location Data, Consumers Must

      A Motherboard investigation revealed in January how any cellphone users’ real-time location could be obtained for $300. The pervasiveness of the practice, coupled with the extreme invasion of people’s privacy, is alarming.

      The reporting showed there is a vibrant market for location data generated by everyone’s cell phones—information that can be incredibly detailed and provide a window into people’s most sensitive and private activities. The investigation also laid bare that cell phone carriers AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, and the many third parties with access to the companies’ location data, have little interest or incentive to stop.

      This market of your personal information violates federal law and Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules that protect people’s location privacy. The market also violates FCC rules prohibiting disclosure of extremely sensitive location information derived in part from GPS data that is only to be disclosed when emergency responders need to find people during an emergency.

      We expected the FCC to take immediate action to shut down the unlawful location data market and to punish the bad actors.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Ken Wyatt: Australia’s first indigenous cabinet minister

      Ken Wyatt was chosen this week to be Australia’s minister for indigenous Australians, the first Aboriginal person ever to hold the role.
      It’s a historic appointment which also makes him the first indigenous Australian to sit in cabinet.
      Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcements as part of his revamped ministry, following a surprise election victory on 18 May.
      Many indigenous Australians are celebrating the elevation of Mr Wyatt, a 66-year-old conservative MP.
      But deep challenges lie ahead for the newly appointed minister, as Australia grapples with major debates over indigenous recognition and inequality.

    • Heat And Violence Pose Twin Threats For Asylum-Seekers Waiting At Border

      It wasn’t even May before thermometers hit 100 degrees in this Mexican border city. Tania was washing clothes for her two daughters when she started to feel queasy and weak. She lay down in a bed at the stifling migrant shelter where she’d taken refuge with her fiance and children.

      But the throbbing pain and nausea wouldn’t go away, and she fainted. She was taken to a Mexican Red Cross hospital, one of the few places where asylum-seekers like her, waiting at the U.S. border to plead their case, can go in an emergency.

      “Where I’m from, we don’t have heat like this,” she told California Healthline from her hospital bed.

      Tania and her family are among thousands of Central Americans living in uncertainty in Mexican border cities as a result of Trump administration policies that require migrants to wait out asylum requests on the southern side of the border.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Report Says EU ISPs Are Happily Ignoring Net Neutrality Rules

      A few years ago, the European Union passed some fairly decent net neutrality rules that went notably further than the FCC’s 2015 rules we just discarded here in the States. They not only prohibited ISPs from unjustly blocking, throttling, or restricting access to services the ISP may compete with, they imposed some basic protections governing zero rating — a practice ISPs here in the US have increasingly been using anti-competitively.

      The problem for the EU is that after the European Union’s Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) crafted the guidelines, it was up to individual countries to interpret and enforce them, something that apparently hasn’t been going all that well. According to a new coalition of 45 academics, nonprofits, and private companies, European ISPs are routinely tap dancing around the restrictions. Under the current rules, European ISPs are allowed to inspect and shape traffic using “deep packet inspection” (DPI) tech, but only if it’s to optimize the network. They can’t utilize DPI to track user activity for money making purposes.

  • DRM

    • Denuvo is anti-piracy tech that was once seen as uncrackable but is now viewed as more of a nuisance than anything. While tests have proven inconclusive, some believe it has a notable impact on games’ performance. It’s also the de facto DRM software of our time, and nobody, except big business, likes DRM. When Rage 2 players discovered it was tagging along for the ride in the post-apocalyptic shooter’s Steam version, they were not pleased.

      They didn’t have to wait long for a solution. Rage 2′s latest Steam patch touts that it “removes Denuvo DRM” because its developers “saw a few requests”—emphasis theirs. Rage 2 came out on May 14, meaning that player complaints got it stripped of Denuvo mere days after release.

    • Rage 2 Drops Denuvo In Record Time After Customer Outcry

      I have avoided writing posts every time Denuvo’s DRM, once thought un-crackable, ends up being very, very crackable. At some point, everyone basically agrees that the dragon has been slayed and we all ought to stop poking it with pointy sticks. The most recent story involving Denuvo, however, deserves to be highlighted, if only to recognize that the neutering of this once-vaunted antipiracy tool has reached a stage that requires a different time measurement. Let me explain.

      As Denuvo’s technology unraveled, both the company and its defenders retreated to a position of claiming that even if Denuvo could protect a game for mere weeks, or even days, then it was still worth it. A huge chunk of a game’s total sales, goes the theory, occur in the initial release window, so protecting that timeline is vital. As Denuvo began to be cracked more quickly, that useful time for protection went from months to weeks to days. As a result, I began updating you all here with posts detailing the dwindling timeline for major game titles’ protected status. It became a useful unit of measurement right up until a game was cracked before its public release.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • In memoriam Grumpy Cat: IP and beyond

        While this Kat, largely oblivious to the outside world, was putting in his 15-hour days at the INTA Annual Meeting, the feline world was saddened by the announcement that Grumpy Cat had passed away on May 17th at the age of seven. Cause of death was a urinary tract infection.

        It was this Kat’s youngest offspring who sent him a WhatsApp message, together with a link and a message that only the son of an IP practitioner could write—”The cat that had her intellectual property stolen over and over.” His comment got this Kat to think exactly about the role of IP in Grumpy Cat’s improbable commercial and media saga.

        First, a recap of Grumpy Cat’s history (here, here and here). She was born in Arizona on April 4, 2012, and was named Tardar Source ” (“tarter sauce”, get it?) by her owner, Tabatha Bundesen. Grumpy Cat became a social media phenomenon shortly after her owner’s brother posted on September 22, 2012 on Reddit her iconic picture plus caption. Grumpy Cat’s anthropomorphic expression of “grumpiness” reportedly was due to a combination of feline dwarfism and malocclusion (underbite).

        Whatever the reason for Grumpy Cat’s facial appearance, Lolcats and parodies that were created from her photograph went viral. She rapidly became the subject of a wildly popular Internet meme (she won the 2013 Webby Award as the Meme of the Year). All of this turned her distinctive facial features into the basis for seemingly endless expressions of cynicism and despair (Kafkaesque phrases such as “existential angst” and “nihilism” were used). In 2015, she earned a place at Madame Tussauds in San Francisco. By March 2019, Grumpy Cat was reported to have 8.3 million followers on Facebook, 2.4 million followers on Instagram and 1.5 followers on Twitter.

      • A True Story Of ‘Copyright Piracy’: Why The Verve Will Only Start Getting Royalties Now For Bittersweet Symphony

        For all of the traditional recording industry’s claims of how important copyright is for “supporting artists,” the most egregious examples of legacy industry folks screwing artists over tend to involve copyright — and especially cases involving sampling. The law around sampling is particularly stupid, and has been for decades. Musicians can pay a compulsory license to cover a song, but if you just want to sample a bit, that’s a whole different story. And even if you try to do it right… well, copyright will fuck you over. Perhaps the most egregious example is what happened with the Verve’s hit song Bittersweet Symphony. Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past two decades, you’ve heard this song. And you may have heard variations on the story of how it used a sample from the Rolling Stones, who were then credited as co-songwriters, giving them a cut of the publishing (which has become a common practice these days when songs are sampled). At least that was the story I initially heard years back. But the full story is truly despicable, and it’s back in the news now because, more than two decades later (also, two decades too late), the Rolling Stones have given back the rights. We’ll get to that in a second. Because the background here is worth understanding.

        There are a few different versions of the story floating around — and not all of the details match. But at the very least, the Verve’s Richard Ashcroft wrote the song Bittersweet Symphony, and the recording used a barely noticeable sample of a recording by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra. That recording was an orchestral cover of the Rolling Stones’ song The Last Time. Andrew Oldham had been an early manager of the Stones, and the Andrew Oldham Orchestra was a side project (that sometimes involved the Stones themselves). The sample that the Verve wanted for Bittersweet Symphony wasn’t even the same as the Rolling Stones song. It was part of the original arrangement for the Oldham Orchestra, apparently done by composer David Whitaker, who is credited in none of this. Also, the opening violin solo that is so iconic and so identified with Bittersweet Symphony is not actually from that sample. It was done by the Verve themselves, designed to flow right into it the part with the sample.

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