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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.

05.28.19

Links 28/5/2019: Chinese Microsoft Exit, MX Linux 18.3 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 8:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • When the future isn’t clear, don’t make a plan

    For the past two years at Red Hat Summit, I’ve argued that traditional planning is dead. The increasing speed of technological innovation, as well as the shift to more open styles of production and organization, are forcing everyone to rethink how we go about setting, executing on, and measuring performance against goals.

    Those who’ve heard me talk about this have been sympathetic—but also skeptical. “I see your point,” executives tell me, “but I still need to do something to prepare my organization for the future. And isn’t that planning?”

  • Events

    • OpenSouthCode 2019 recap and new information added to my site

      The event tool place this year in a new venue, significantly better than the previous one, in my opinion. More than 300 people were registered which is not bad at all for a free of charge event about Open Source that does not require pre-registration to participate.

      Some workshops and talks were packed, although not the majority of them. Some people has commented that there did not feel a “sense of packed” which is was due to the fact that, during 2 days, the event offered 2 to 4 tracks and workshops simultaneously. Saturday was busier than Friday, I think.

      I don’t feel that there is anything bad in having only a few people at your talk if they are truly interested. With such an interesting and diverse offering, motivated participants is almost guaranteed. I understand though that if you come from far away or your company send you to give a talk, having a full room is a good thing.

      The event is little by little growing. The organization in general goes smoother, the quality of the talks and the speakers is better every edition, the workshops, specially those for kids, are gaining traction, the venue is better, there were sponsors this year… All signs are positive.

      As a suggestion for the 2020 edition, I would organise a closing keynote so participants can get together afterwards for some drinks. This would improve the sense of community and would provide a good opportunity to thank the sponsors.

    • Linux Plumbers Conference: Distribution Kernels Microconference Accepted into 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference

      We are pleased to announce that the Distribution Kernels Microconference has been accepted to the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference. This is the first time Plumbers has offered a microconference focused on kernel distribution collaboration.

      Linux distributions come in many forms, ranging from community run distributions like Debian and Gentoo, to commercially supported ones offered by SUSE or Red Hat, to focused embedded distributions like Android or Yocto. Each of these distributions maintains a kernel, making choices related to features and stability. The focus of this track is on the pain points distributions face in maintaining their chosen kernel and common solutions every distribution can benefit from.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • QMO: Firefox 68 Beta 6 Testday, May 31st

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, May 31st we are organizing Firefox 68 Beta 6 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on: Activity Stream and Pin Firefox shortcut to taskbar for Windows 10.

        Check out the detailed instructions via this etherpad.

        No previous testing experience is required, so feel free to join us on #qa IRC channel where our moderators will offer you guidance and answer your questions.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • What’s next on agenda for DataStax? APIs, Kubernetes, and *checks notes* a desktop distro?

      Data management biz DataStax chose the comfy surroundings of its annual user knees-up to open its kimono on near-future plans: a Kubernetes operator, a developer-focused API generator for Constellation – its newly minted database-as-a-service – and a desktop version of its flagship software suite.

      “DataStax Desktop is the easiest way to get started with DataStax Enterprise,” Jonathan Ellis, co-founder and CTO, said in a keynote.

      “With just a couple of clicks, you can download Docker containers – and DataStax Desktop will do that automatically. It pulls down the containers, it configures them to work together, so if you have DataStax Enterprise core, and DataStax Graph, and Developer Studio, it will configure all of those to work together seamlessly, and you don’t have to touch a single line of configuration files.”

  • LibreOffice

    • Best free Microsoft Office alternative software

      Thanks to the Open Document Format, you can easily access all files and edit and save them with no hassle.

    • LibreOffice Community Member Monday: Buzea Bogdan

      I am reporting bugs, verifying them, and helping with other bug reports. In addition, I created a channel on YouTube with short tutorials about LibreOffice.

      With the help of Xisco Fauli (LibreOffice’s QA engineer) and others in the LibreOffice groups on Telegram, I began to bibisect bugs. Also, with the help of others in the same direction, I may learn more about finding bugs and checking for fixes. I feel there are not so many technical videos about this.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Open Source Festival Congress 2019

      The event will feature exciting keynotes, inspiring panels and in-depth workshops on the main topics of Communities, New Work, Digital Transformation, Urban Development, and Sustainability.

    • Microsoft? Oh it’s just another partnership, insists GitHub CEO [Ed: GitHub is starting to understand that Microsoft is a liability, is scaring away users, and is likely to do to it what it did to Skype, Nokia, and LinkedIn (stagnation). Article by a decades-long Microsoft booster, who gets gifts from them.]

      “GitHub has to be both independent and neutral,” CEO Nat Friedman said at the company’s Satellite event in Berlin – despite its acquisition by Microsoft in October 2018.

      “We treat Microsoft as a partnership, we have great partnerships with Google and Amazon and we continue to do that because for developers choice comes first.”

    • Cloud remains a small percentage of IT spending, but its gravitation pull is huge [Ed: Mac Asay cannot stop promoting GAFAM surveillance complex and the outsourcing of company data and operations (worldwide) to the Pentagon (by proxy). Guess who employs him. He also sought a job at Microsoft.]
  • Programming/Development

    • Thoughts on how to start a PyData or Python meetup

      At PyConLT 2019 (Lithuania) we just had a 10-person meeting on “how to start a new PyData or Python meetup” with existing organisers and some potential new event organisers. The night before in the conference bar Radovan and I had spent an hour helping someone from Latvia figure out their plan to start a new Python meetup. Given that I’m a co-founder for PyDataLondon and after 6 years we’re at 9,500+ members, I have some opinions. Maybe sharing these will help others. All going well we’ll see a new PyDataVilnius start with what looks like a 7+ person volunteer group, all organised at PyConLT.

    • Click Through Rate Analysis using Spark

      In recent years, programmatic advertising is been taking over the online advertisement industry. To enable automatic selling and purchasing ad impressions between advertisers and publishers through real-time auctions, Real-Time Bidding (RTB) is quickly becoming the leading method.

      In contrast to the traditional online ad market, where a certain amount of impressions is sold at a fixed rate, RTB allows advertisers to bid each impression individually in real time at a cost based on impression-level features. Real-time Bidding (RTB) is a way of transacting media that allows an individual ad impression to be put up for bid in real-time. This is done through a programmatic on-the-spot auction , which is similar to how financial markets operate. RTB allows for Addressable Advertising; the ability to serve ads to consumers directly based on their demographic, psychographic, or behavioral attributes.

    • Analyzing the Stack Overflow Survey
    • How to Iterate Through a Dictionary in Python
    • Measuring API usage for popular numerical and scientific libraries
    • 5 Python Examples to Handle Exceptions using try, except and finally
    • A practical learning exercise for Git

      In an effort to get some practice using Git, I began reading the documentation and some articles here on Opensource.com, particularly Seth Kenlon’s introductions. Once I finished reading, it was time to do some actual practice.

      Like many undergraduate computer science students, I’ve done programming homework and labs. I saved all of this work, so why not use this code to create a practice Git repository? Then, I could run the code and fix any problems, which would let me practice making commits and creating branches. By doing so I could demonstrate basic Git proficiency.

      I’m not new to version control. I’ve used older tools, such as CVS and Subversion, and was once an administrator, many years ago, for Borland (now Micro Focus) StarTeam. However, my Git experience was limited to minor usage of Atlassian Bitbucket. I was not a Git Guru.

    • JupyterLab teaches Python developers magic

      The power of Jupyter projects comes in the form of kernels, which act as a “computational engine” to execute code contained in a document. The original kernel is for Python, called IPython, though there are many more available. As of today, 128 kernels are listed on the project wiki for everything from Ansible to Fortran.

    • How to Improve Efficiency by Testing Your Code with PyTest by Python

      Software Development has been a field that has grown over the period last few years, as with the improvement in the field of technology, it has become more important for the software development companies offering the latest and the best quality of software and application. Therefore, the software development companies are working very efficiently and putting their efforts to provide the best quality software compatible with the latest and updated version of the operating system to their clients and users.

      And for this, the python development companies started performing the testing of the software before launching them to the market. There was a time when testing the software was considered as an optional part of software development or we can say that testing of the software was not important in those days. But with the change in the many things changed, as the technology that is used to build or develop such software also improved and the competition among the companies also become that height which made the software development companies more concern about the quality and working of their software as every software company was working in way to get customer satisfaction with their work.

    • Python Software Foundation: The 2019 Python Language Summit [Ed: Microsoft staff there. Watch how they push Microsoft GitHub and also buy events to push Azure.]

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

      LWN.net covered the proceedings from 2015 to 2018; this year the PSF has chosen to feature summit coverage on its own blog, written by A. Jesse Jiryu Davis.

    • Mariatta Wijaya: Let’s Use GitHub Issues Already! [Ed: Python is infiltrated by Microsoft now. Too late to salvage?

      Core developer Mariatta Wijaya addressed her colleagues, urging them to switch to GitHub issues without delay. Before she began, Łukasz Langa commented that the previous two sessions had failed to start any controversies. “Come on, we can do better!”

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Industry, government need to embrace the power of open standards

      Contrary to OMB guidance and security recommendations, DoD and civilian departments often rely on proprietary technologies instead of open standard-based solutions. Proprietary technologies limit government agencies to specific vendors or brands with inflexible architectures, leading to higher accrued costs and reduced innovation.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • The Triggers That Make Us Check Our Phones Most Often… and How to Fight Them

      Reaching for your phone in moments of silence, or because you simply struggle to disconnect, can be socially rude and emotionally tiring (especially if you’re a news fan). University of Washington researchers believe they have identified four common triggers that prompt us to take our phones out, and they’re the same across all ages. So below we outlined what they are, how to anticipate them, and what you can do to change your habits and spend less time staring at a screen.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Megadonor’s threat wasn’t enough to stop Missouri abortion ban

      Wealthy Missouri businessman David Humphries on Thursday effectively threatened to pull financial support for Missouri Republicans if Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed the bill that would criminalize abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy, including in cases of rape or incest.

      Despite Humphries’ major financial support for Missouri Republican causes, Parson signed the bill Friday, adding Missouri to the growing list of states banning or restricting abortions.

      The Kansas City Star noted that Humphries has given more than $15 million to Missouri GOP causes since 2015, giving him serious clout with the party and making his threat a legitimate one. But that threat couldn’t stop a bill that passed the Missouri House 110 to 44, or stop the Governor from signing it. A source close to Humphries told the Star he would fund an effort to repeal the ban.

      Like most wealthy donors, Humphries exerts his influence at the federal level too. He and his wife Debra have given $8.6 million to Republicans and conservative groups since 1992.

      After supporting Josh Hawley’s run for Missouri Attorney General in 2015, Humphries was the guardian angel donor for Missouri Rising Action, providing nearly half of the funds for the super PAC that spent $2.3 million to support Hawley in his 2018 Senate bid. Hawley, for his part, said this month he has long believed Roe v. Wade is “wrongly decided.”

      Humphries was also a major donor to Marco Rubio, giving $2 million to the super PAC supporting Rubio’s failed 2016 presidential bid.

    • Why desperate Americans are driving to Canada in caravans for insulin

      She thought the U.S. Border Patrol would want to search her car. That she would be bombarded with questions. That they would demand she show her prescription for insulin.

      Worst of all, she was worried they would confiscate the small, cold vials of a life-saving drug that she had crossed the border to buy at a pharmacy in Fort Frances, Ont.

      But it didn’t happen. Not for Nystrom, not for anyone in her small group from Minnesota — calling themselves the Caravan to Canada — who were on a mission last weekend to buy insulin at one-tenth the price of what it’s listed in the United States.

      As the cost of insulin continues to skyrocket in the U.S., where pharmaceutical companies can dictate the price, people are making the trek north as an alternative to paying thousands of dollars to stay alive.

    • The new NAFTA’s assault on public health

      The negotiations were strained and at times it looked like it would be stillborn, but the USMCA (the new North American Free Trade Agreement linking the economies of the United States, Mexico and Canada) was signed in November 2018 and awaits ratification.

      Its future is still uncertain. Although U.S. President Donald Trump finally removed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Canada and Mexico, something both countries and even some congressional Republicans were demanding for the deal to be ratified, Democrats in the U.S. are unhappy with its costly monopoly protection for new pharmaceuticals and weak enforcement measures for labour and environmental protection.

      But beneath the political jockeying is a sleeper issue concerning public health that signals a bad agreement.

    • Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. v. Albrecht (2019)

      Justice Thomas writes in his concurring opinion that he believes “physical impossibility” for compliance with state and Federal law should not be the standard for determining that these laws “directly conflict,” thus implicating pre-emption. Rather, he thinks the founders were more concerned with “logical contradiction[s]” in the law, because in some instances it may be physically possible to comply with a Federal law that permits an action that state law prohibits, merely by refraining from the action (reasoning from Wyeth). Justice Thomas further asserts that mere compliance with FDA regulations and the FDCA does not give Merck (or any drug maker) “an unconditional right to market [a] federally approved drug at all times with the precise label initially approved by the FDA,” again citing Wyeth. Justice Thomas believes that Merck’s assertion of “hypothetical future rejections” of their amended label did not constitute a pre-emptive “law” under the Supremacy Clause, and he concludes that “[b]ecause Merck points to no statute, regulation, or other agency action with the force of law that would have prohibited it from complying with its alleged state-law duties, its pre-emption defense should fail as a matter of law.”

      Justice Alito’s opinion concurring in the judgment emphasizes the “back and forth” between Merck and the agency regarding evidence that Fosamax® treatment was associated with risk of AFFs, and asserts that the majority’s pre-emption analysis was “a skewed summary” of the law. In particular, he believes that enactment of 21 U.S.C. § 355(o)(4)(A), which imposes a duty on the FDA to initiate a label change if presented with new information that supports the change, is something ignored by the Court that should be considered by the Third Circuit on remand.

  • Security

    • 9 List of Best Free Penetration Testing tools

      Things you need to know about Pentesting: Penetration Testing or often called PenTesting tools are basic utility applications for any Ethical Hacker job. To be clear we are not promoting any hacking crime or breaking digital security rules, this article is completely for educational purposes.

      In this article, we will be discussing Penetration Testing methods and about the needed useful utilities for that purpose.

    • Bug fest
    • IPFire 2.23 – Core Update 132 is available for testing

      Two new types of vulnerabilities have been found in Intel processors. They cannot be fixed unless the hardware is changed, but can be somewhat mitigated through some changes in the Linux kernel (4.14.120) and an update microcode (version 20190514). Both is shipped in this release.

      Additionally, to mitigate this bug which cannot be fixed at all, SMT is disabled by default on all affected processors which has significant performance impacts.

      Please note, that Intel unfortunately is not releasing microcode for all processors any more and so you might still be vulnerable.

    • [Attackers] reportedly used a tool developed by the NSA to attack Baltimore’s computer systems

      Baltimore’s [Windows] computers were hit with the [Windows] ransomware attack earlier this month, and city officials have said that they won’t pay (via The New York Times) the $76,000 ransom demand. The city has begun to implement some workarounds, manually processing real estate transactions and setting up a Gmail system for city workers, which Google initially shut down, but has since restored. In the meantime, The Baltimore Sun reports that the city’s IT department is working to restore access to the city’s systems while improving their security while they do so.

    • Researcher Discovers Serious Vulnerability in Paper Crypto Wallet Site [Ed: This issue would not have been detected if it was proprietary software]

      A security researcher from MyCrypto.com, Harry Denley, has posted a detailed – and damning – analysis of paper wallet site WalletGenerator.net.

      The core of the analysis hinges on WalletGenerator’s original open-source code, available here. Until August 17, 2018 the online code matched the open-source code and the entire project generated wallets using a client-side technique that took in real random entropy and produced a unique wallet. But sometime after that date the two sets of code stopped matching.

    • Ransom.GandCrab

      Ransom.GandCrab is Malwarebytes’ detection name for a family of ransomware that encrypts important files and asks for a ransom to decrypt them. There are several versions of Ransom.GandCrab as the threat actors keep working on it. They all target Windows systems.

    • [Attackers] target MySQL databases to deliver the GandCrab ransomware [Ed: The headline says MySQL but actually it’s a Microsoft Windows issue (Windows has back doors, so nothing mission-critical should ever be put on it anyway)]

      Security experts at Sophos have detected a wave of attacks targeting Windows servers that are running MySQL databases with the intent of delivering the GandCrab ransomware

    • Kees Cook: security things in Linux v5.1

      Linux kernel v5.1 has been released! Here are some security-related things that stood out to me…

    • Headsup for those managing Windows 10 boxen: Microsoft has tweaked patching rules [Ed: Microsoft Windows/Vista 10 -- like all versions for 20 years now -- has got NSA back doors, so "patching" does not mean security]
    • The shortcomings of rootless containers

      In my previous articles on user namespace and rootless containers, I talked about how you can run and build containers using Podman and Buildah without becoming root.

      I showed how you could do some awesome stuff, including running containers with lots of different user IDs (UIDs), installing software, setting up networking, and running containers at Quay.io, Docker.io, or pretty much any other container registry.

      That said, rootless containers are not a panacea. There are a lot of shortcomings, and people need to understand what can go wrong.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Yes, My Fellow Soldiers Died in Vain

      Then he found a home in the army. He excelled, he loved it, and even made sergeant in record time. Most of all he was my friend. His story didn’t end well, of course. On January 25, 2007 his body was shattered by a massive improvised explosive device (IED) in East Baghdad, Iraq. He was 21. His 19-year-old wife was pregnant. His family buried him on Cape Cod. Such is life.

      We’re expected to honor such sacrifice each Memorial Day. At least that’s what tradition holds. But how best to do that? These days, most Americans, and especially their political leaders choose the vapid, simplistic path: “thanking” soldiers, flying flags, sticking yellow ribbons on car bumpers. There’s nothing inherently wrong with all this, of course, but let’s not pretend it helps anything. Stacy Fuller named Al’s daughter after him. My oldest son’s name is Alex. Many of us honor him with our memories, recollections, thoughts, and symbols such as memorial bracelets. But it’s not enough. It’s far from sufficient.

      This Memorial Day, spare us the flyover jets, flag-wielding honor guards, and other patriotic mush of 21st-century popular culture. Instead, I’d submit that now—after 18 years of endless, ineffective war—it’s a time for nuance, for a collective national self-assessment. What was it all for, Alex’s death and those of more than 7,000 others in uniform? Very little, it seems.

      Al died fighting Shia militiamen, who had nothing to do with 9/11, in a Baghdad ghetto. These largely impoverished and unemployed fighters only attacked my platoon because it was there, occupying their cities and inflaming nationalistic resentments. He died in a country that the United States only invaded as a result of lies, deceit, and intelligence mistakes. Al and the rest of us generally tried hard and mostly meant well, but in retrospect we brought not democracy and stability to Iraq, but chaos and civil war.

      Hundreds of thousands died, millions were displaced, and a once secular society became a theater for macabre sectarian murder. He died in a country that his commander-in-chief, George W. Bush, didn’t even understand. Most importantly, he and we did not, ultimately leave the place better than we found it. The Shia chauvinists the United States empowered only alienated the Sunnis, heightened Kurdish desires for autonomy, and led to the rise (in our prisons) of the Islamic State. Through it all our military is still there.

      Specialist James Smith was Texan to the core. He grew up just outside of Dallas, an all-American boy who played sports and raised hell throughout high school. Soon after, he enthusiastically joined the army, seeking the adventure of combat and the camaraderie of military life. Soon enough he became my Humvee driver.

    • North Korea Calls John Bolton a ‘War Maniac’ Who Is ‘Wrecking Peace and Security’ Across the Globe

      North Korea on Monday called U.S. national security adviser John Bolton a “war maniac” who is undermining global security and diplomacy after Bolton accused Pyongyang of violating international law with missile launches earlier this month.

      “Our military drill neither targeted anyone nor endangered the surrounding countries, but Bolton makes dogged claims that it constitutes a violation… impudently poking his nose into other’s internal matters,” a North Korean official said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

      “It is not a mere coincidence that criticisms are now being heard in the U.S. that Bolton is a warmonger whispering war to the president when he himself evaded military service,” the statement continued. “After all, it will be fit to call Bolton not a security adviser striving for security but a security-destroying adviser who is wrecking peace and security.”

      Bolton’s claim that North Korea’s missile launches violated United Nations Security Council resolutions came Friday in Tokyo, ahead of President Donald Trump’s state visit to Japan on Monday.

      South Korea was quick to question Bolton’s assessment, noting that it is still analyzing the North Korean missiles in partnership with U.S. officials.

      “There’s no way for us to know why national security adviser Bolton made such comments,” an anonymous South Korean presidential official told the Associated Press on Monday. “There’s no change in our official stance that the South Korean and U.S. militaries under coordination are continuing to analyze the missiles.”

      The exchange between Bolton and North Korea comes as Bolton continues to escalate military tensions and threaten regime change in Iran and Venezuela.

    • Ukraine: Was the Overthrow of Yanukovych a ‘Coup’?

      This question is important, because it concerns the validity, or not, of the rationale for the economic sanctions against Russia, and of the NATO military buildup against Russia on Russia’s borders (which latter buildup now threatens World War III).

      On the American/NATO side of this dispute, both the sanctions and the military buildup against Russia have been alleged to be justified responses to Russia’s ‘seizure’ of Crimea, from Ukraine.

      However, Russia contends that there was no such ‘seizure’ of Crimea, and that Crimeans’ separation from Ukraine and joining Russia was instead an entirely voluntary act by Crimeans — a fulfillment by Crimeans of their fundamental right of self-determination of peoples — and that it was precipitated by what Russia alleges to have been a “coup” in Ukraine that created not only an illegitimate regime in Ukraine but a suddenly intensified desire of Crimeans to break away from Ukraine, and to rejoin with Russia, of which Crimea had been a part until Crimea was involuntarily transferred from Russia to Ukraine by the Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev in 1954.

      The Russian government claims that Russia has protected the right of Crimeans to make this crucial choice, and that Russia enabled Crimeans voluntarily to rejoin Russia, after Crimeans had been forced to become part of Ukraine in 1954 — and that, now, after the “coup” in Kiev, Crimeans intensely wanted to rejoin Russia.

      Russia contends that The West, not Russia, has been, and is, insisting upon dictatorship regarding the Crimean people, by The West’s refusing to respect the right of self-determination of peoples, to the Crimean population, whom Russia has protected and enabled peacefully to exercise that inalienable right, which any people possess the peaceful right to do.

      No one can deny that the overthrow of Victor Yanukovych — the democratically elected President of Ukraine, who had won 75% of the votes of the people of Crimea — led directly to the movement of the Crimean people to separate themselves from being ruled by the newly installed, post-overthrow, Ukrainian government.

      Without the violent overthrow of Yanukovych, there would have been no reason for Crimeans to have been in fear. But the question remains of whether the separation of Crimea from Ukraine was a legitimate act of self-determination of peoples, by the Crimeans, in response to a coup (such as Russia contends to have been the case), or was it instead a ‘seizure’ of Crimea by Russia — a seizure against which The West legitimately retaliated by economic sanctions, and now by sending arms (including nuclear weapons) and troops to Russia’s very borders?

    • No More Imperial War

      Commemorations, note Veterans For Peace, are “acts of choosing what to remember.” This Memorial Day, amidst the “hyperbolic salutations of soldierly valor – though valor there was,” they sought to present an honest accounting of the Vietnam War by delivering hundreds of “Letters to the Wall” from veterans, families, anyone touched by the carnage that killed at least 58,000 Americans and upward of three million Vietnamese. The letters are part of a “Vietnam Full Disclosure” project that began after Obama announced a 13-year, $65 million commemoration of the war in 2012 in tribute to “the valor of a generation that served with honor… fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans.” Yes, but, say many veterans and their families – including scores who responded last week to the Army asking what serving meant to them by documenting all the alcoholics and suicides and broken and sleepless who represent the true, grim reality of our wars.

      If every war is fought twice – once in fact, then in memory – many veterans argue we owe it to the dead and the living to remember their dark truth, despite the persistent attempts by those in power to hide it. In D.C. one Memorial Day, Vietnam Veteran for Peace Doug Rawlings saw too many Americans virtually wrapped in the American flag, “almost as if their willful ignorance of the real meaning of war, their silent acceptance of murder being committed in their name, was some kind of badge of honor.” He wore his own badge: A T-shirt with Eisenhower’s declaration, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can.” Quoting Francis Bacon – “Silence is the virtue of fools” – he argues that the “eerie moral silence,” if allowed to stand, “makes murderous fools of us all.” This year, every year, our commemoration needs to be a warning, say Veterans For Peace: “No more Vietnams, no more imperial war.”

    • U.S. Army: 0 — Internet: 1

      The U.S. Army tweeted a harmless rah-rah tweet and got hit with a burst of reality never encountered on corporate-controlled media. Score one for the internet.

      The Army asked: “How has serving impacted you?”

    • The Dismemberment of Yugoslavia 20 Years On

      Two decades ago Nato started it’s 78 day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. Using the language of peace and humanitarianism Nato dismembered Yugoslavia killing more civilians than they did soldiers. A non-stop aerial assault on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia using more than a thousand Nato warplanes delivering 2,000 air-strikes in 40,000 sorties and with over 20,000 bombs dropped on the country.

      The rabid imperialists shed crocodile tears of humanitarian concern for Albanians in Kosovo. Or so the press and it’s organs told us. In just a few months President Clinton bombed four countries: Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yugoslavia. Of the four Yugoslavia was to take the most ferocious bombing. The United States was also involved in proxy wars in Angola, Mexico, Colombia and East Timor.

      This selective humanitarian concern did not extend to a number of European countries for its continued oppression of the Roma. Britain remained exempt despite having had death squads in the no0rth of Ireland.(Secret Death Squads Backed by Thatcher Gov’t Killed Hundreds in N. Ireland, Sputnik, 06/2015) The United States did not work itself into a panic over the Hutu for their slaughter of half a million Tutsi in Rwanda. The US did not drop bombs for 78 days and nights on the French who were complicit in that massacre. Neither did they bomb Guatemala for the military’s systematic slaughter of tens of thousands of Mayan villagers. They did not moralise to the Indonesian people whose military generals were engaged in mass murder in the summer of 1999.

      The United States did not concern itself with the Sri Lankan civil war which took 100,000 lives over a 25 year period.

      [...]

      Yugoslavia was built on an idea. With their own federation it was hoped the southern slavs would not remain isolated and weak and prey for imperialism. The idea then was to live together in harmony, forming a substantial territory capable of independent economic development. The achievements of Yugoslav socialism were a life expectancy of 72 years, almost full literacy and a rate of 7 percent annual growth in the 1960s. Along with free medical and education, a guaranteed right to an income, one month vacation with pay. Yugoslavia also offered it’s citizens affordable public transportation, housing and utilities. The economy was mostly publicly owned in a “market socialist” economy. This form of ‘market socialism’ was to prove it’s downfall.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Pentagon Papers Whistleblower on Assange Indictment: “Freedom is at Stake”
    • Glam Shots for One, Not for the Other: Different Media Standard for Hope Hicks and Chelsea Manning Draws Backlash

      To journalist Soledad O’Brien, the photo choice and tone of the Times piece reflected “bias.”

      “A picture of a person who is considering not complying with a subpoena is basically a glam shot,” O’Brien said on Twitter, “and it’s framed as a thoughtful, perfectly equal choice.

      Critics pointed to the lack of glossy profiles and complimentary coverage for another woman who refused a subpoena: Army veteran Chelsea Manning. Manning has been held in federal custody for 75 of the past 82 days, with a brief seven day interlude.

      “Oddly, the NYT didn’t frame Chelsea Manning’s refusal to testify against Assange in the same way,” said journalist Dan Gilmor.

      The coverage contrast was pointed to by a number of journalists and activists, many of whom demanded that the paper treat Manning with the same respect as Hicks.

      Journalist Marcy Wheeler used her Twitter account to make the contrast clear, tweeting pictures of the relative coverage for each woman.

    • Assange’s Assault on Toxic Masculinist Militarism

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces U.S. extradition on computer hacking conspiracy and seventeen other Espionage Act charges, and no one knows what’s next except a series of state maneuvers and mind-numbing debates that say more about U.S. anti- imperialism’s stagnation than it does about him. A press freedom hero, a new technologies champion, a bizarre cult leader… you’ve heard it all. Across the political spectrum he’s called a misogynist driven by toxic masculinity. In Donald Trump’s Fortress America, Assange is the toxic one! The U.S. can’t tolerate WikiLeaks’ delivery of the documented cold hard truth: a direct assault on American militarism’s super-toxic hyper-masculinity.

      Regardless of which nation-state prison cell houses his body, Assange’s spirit resides in the center of resistance to U.S. Empire. This is why his possible precedent-setting U.S. trial reveals deep political divides. U.S. anti-imperialism’s unique imperial trappings have it big on anti-war appearances, but lacking in substance. To move past this stagnation, we have WikiLeaks’ dismantling toxic masculinist imperialism (and not just in the matter of Chelsea Manning’s transgender identity, either.)

      Assange’s case also helps shine light on the term “toxic masculinity,” which roundly condemns gender-based abuses. At issue here is who deserves the “toxic masculinity” charge. An individual accused of rape? Or an entire government performing routinely sanctioned militarist duties alongside dirty war actions, including rape, against civilian populations?

      “Toxic masculinity” rejects all patriarchal violence—from the more innocuously micro-focused “mansplaining” to harassment and rape. It is such an effective term because it communicates intolerance of all abusive behavior. More than describe, it rejectspatriarchal behavior institutionally expressed as aggressive masculinist militarism. To be sure, the term’s popularity is a refreshing change from a previous era lacking common anti-patriarchal language. This past rhetorical void results in today’s eager application of the new gender terminology, while nonetheless risking oversimplification.

    • We Must Defend Assange to Save Democracy from American Despotism

      On Thursday, the Department of Justice made an unprecedented move to file 17 Espionage Act charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. This indictment was what Assange and his legal team have been warning about since 2010 and the risk of extradition was the sole reason why Assange sought and was granted political asylum by Ecuador in 2012.

      Free press defenders condemned this aggressive prosecution of Assange by the Trump administration as “the most significant and terrifying threat to the First Amendment in the 21st century”. This attack on free press as a pillar of democracy was predicted long ago by a leading figure in America’s early development. Thomas Jefferson feared that there would come a time when the American system of government would degenerate into a form of “elective despotism”.

      Assange echoed this warning from one of America’s founding fathers in his message to his supporters: “I told you so”, which he delivered through his lawyer after he was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy. He was not only aware of this unaccounted power inside this nation, but also through his work with WikiLeaks, he shed light on its shadowy activities, and provided ordinary people means to counter this force that has now become tyrannical.

      WikiLeaks by publishing truthful information about the US government, revealing its war crimes, corruption and human rights abuses, came head to head with the Pentagon and the US State Department. Long before Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations, Assange alerted public about mass surveillance, informing people how the Internet “has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism”.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Australian rare-earth ore processor wants to build a plant in the US

      Though a Lynas/Blue Line processing plant in Texas could mitigate some of the threat associated with China’s hold on the rare-earths industry, such a plant would likely take a while to get up and running.

      Currently, the only rare-earths mine in the US is in Mountain Pass, Calif. But Trump administration tariffs, designed to protect US miners from competition with cheap Chinese raw materials, have actually been hurting Mountain Pass because its primary ore processing plants are in China. Mountain Pass must ship its ore to China to be processed, opening it up to retaliatory Chinese tariffs. According to the The Wall Street Journal, Mountain Pass currently pays a 10 percent tariff on rare-earth ore shipments to China, and on June 1, that’s set to increase to 25 percent.

    • What Would It Mean to Deeply Accept That We’re in Planetary Crisis?

      From 1996 until 2003 I climbed in Alaska’s mountains as a religion. My entire life revolved around training for, preparing around, and engaging in climbing trips and expeditions around Alaska’s mountains, the high volcanoes of Mexico, the Andes of South America and the Himalaya.

      During all those trips, I’d never fallen into a crevasse, despite having spent months of my life traveling across them en route to climbs. I’d even run crevasse rescue seminars in the Alaska Range, dutifully teaching others the tools they’d need for when they, or one of their rope-mates, punched through a snow bridge. Finally, it was my turn to take a fall, and I did so in style.

      During a trip in the Chugach Range of Alaska during April 2003, I punched through a fragile snow bridge I didn’t even know I was crossing, and fell into the depths. Call it fate, physics or just dumb luck: As I fell I dragged my rope mate, who was struggling to check my fall, across the surface of the glacier to just six inches from the edge of the crevasse, until the rope, having cut through the lip of the ice, pulled vertically rather than horizontally, and the weight of his body stopped my – or our – fall.

      Two hours later, he and our two other climbing mates managed to, very carefully, pull me, in a mild state of hypothermia, from the seemingly bottomless hole over which I’d hung. Once again atop the glacier, and acutely aware of how close I’d come to my death, everything had changed.

      The ruddy red alpenglow of the peaks in the setting sun, the wispy snow blowing off a nearby ridge, the smiles of my climbing partners, my boots atop firm ice and snow — every bit of it a gift. Deep gratitude for all of it was conveyed in the tears that streamed down my face as I howled and cried aloud and hugged each of them for saving my life.

      Near-death experiences, when we are aware of them, have this effect.

    • Tornadoes Cut Across Unusually Wide Swaths of US, Raising Alarm for Climate Scientists

      As the death toll in Oklahoma rose to six Monday amid an outbreak of nearly 200 tornadoes across the Midwest in recent days—as well as in areas far less accustomed to them—climate scientists said such patterns may carry warnings about the climate crisis and its many implications for extreme weather events.

      In Oklahoma, tornadoes touched down in at least two cities, including El Reno and Sapulpa, over the weekend, injuring dozens and leveling a number of homes. The tornado that hit El Reno, a suburb of Oklahoma City, was given an EF3 rating, with wind speeds up to 165 miles per hour. Only about five percent of tornadoes are given an EF3 rating or higher.

      The tornadoes hit after much of the state endured severe flooding last week, following powerful storms that overflowed the Arkansas River and damaged about 1,000 homes.

      Outside the Midwest, at least one twister touched down near Washington, D.C., with reports of tornadoes in Texas and Colorado, and Chicago facing a tornado watch on Monday.

      While tornadoes have long been a fixture in the Midwest, meteorologist Eric Holthaus tweeted last week that there is “reason to believe major outbreak days…are getting worse,” while climate scientists are examining links between the storms and the climate crisis.

    • Retired Oil Rigs Off California Coast Could Find New Lives as Artificial Reefs

      Offshore oil and gas drilling has been a contentious issue in California for 50 years, ever since a rig ruptured and spilled 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude oil off Santa Barbara in 1969. Today it’s spurring a new debate: whether to completely dismantle 27 oil and gas platforms scattered along the southern California coast as they end their working lives, or convert the underwater sections into permanent artificial reefs for marine life.

      We know that here and elsewhere, many thousands of fishes and millions of invertebrates use offshore rigs as marine habitat. Working with state fisheries agencies, energy companies have converted decommissioned oil and gas platforms into manmade reefs in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Brunei and Malaysia.

      Californians prize their spectacular coastline, and there are disagreements over the rigs-to-reefs concept. Some conservation groups assert that abandoned oil rigs could release toxic chemicals into the water and create underwater hazards. In contrast, supporters say the submerged sections have become productive reefs that should be left in place.

      We are a former research scientist for the U.S. Department of the Interior and a scholar focusing on the fishes of the Pacific coast. In a recent study, we reviewed the history of rigs-to-reefs conversions and decades of published scientific research monitoring the effects of these projects. Based on this record, we conclude that reefing the habitat under decommissioned oil and gas platforms is a viable option for California. It also could serve as a model for decommissioning some of the 7,500 other offshore platforms operating around the world.

    • How Citizens’ Assemblies Could Be Used to Tackle Climate Change

      In one mad sunny week over the Easter weekend, Extinction Rebellion brought public attention to the problem of climate change in a way that had rarely been achieved before. The group’s most ambitious demand – to cut greenhouse gas emissions completely by 2025 – is unlikely to be met. But another – for governments to be led by the decisions of citizens’ assemblies on climate and ecological justice – has a successful history in many parts of the world.

      Not to be confused with people’s assemblies (a more informal gathering, often of existing activists) citizens’ assemblies are a way of exploring public views on a particular topic and coming up with concrete solutions. They sit under the umbrella term ‘mini-publics’ as an example of deliberative democracy, alongside citizens’ juries, planning cells and consensus conferences.

      Sarah Allen, engagement lead at public participation charity Involve, is a big advocate of citizens’ assemblies as a tool for resolving complicated policy problems. She recently designed and ran assemblies on adult social care for a couple of House of Commons committees and on Brexit for a research project, and is now working on one for the National Assembly for Wales which will consider the main challenges facing the principality over the next 20 years.

      Citizens’ assemblies are a bit like focus groups, but usually larger and longer; they can take up a single weekend or up to a year in some cases. Allen explains on the phone that participants are chosen at random to represent the broader population and are paid for their time so that everyone can afford to take part.

      All citizens’ assemblies have three stages. The first involves learning about the problem, when everyone is given a primer in the subject and hears from people advocating different solutions. Then there is a period of consideration and discussion, often in small groups. The assembly as a whole then has to decide about what it would do to solve the problem at hand.

    • Football’s Euro finals will hurt the climate
    • The Bolsonaro Phenomenon May be Brief

      “Right now, there’s a good chance that the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, be very brief. The word impeachment is already part of the current language in the media and social networks in the South American giant.”

      At least that’s what Andrés Ferrari Haines, a professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil, wrote in an article published, on May 21, by the Argentinean newspaper “Página 12”.

      Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s son, warned in Buenos Aires that an electoral victory of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s would represent the risk of turning Argentina into another Venezuela.

      Curiously, says the newspaper, his father is achieving in Brazil what mercenary Juan Guaidó could not achieve in Venezuela: to have protests everywhere promoting the rule of law and opposition to the President.

      An historic march took place on Wednesday, May 15, in which nearly two million people took to the streets in 200 Brazilian cities to protest against the budget cuts in education. It was a turning point in the rejection of President Jair Bolsonaro, his children and several personalities close to him.

      Those who, during his electoral campaign, thought that his violent and bellicose style was part of an electoral strategy to attack his opponents are realizing that this is a trait of his personality.

      It seems that his capacity for dialogue is zero, and he can only express himself aggressively –even if this might not be his intention.

    • Europe: Green Surges, Older Parties Erode, Far Right Gains

      Green parties made stunning gains in the European Elections, due to the strength of many younger voters, the grass roots insurgency of ecological school strikes and marches, and the tenacity of Green Party activists.

      The older mainstream parties, both center-right and social democratic, received a mix of drubbing demotions and eroding support.

      The far right nationalists also made gains, notably in France and Italy. The far right also gained less dramatically in Germany. I have added links and stories below from France 24 and The Guardian.

      There are lessons here not only for European Greens and socialists, but for class conscious popular resistance in the United States. Any left party that is not also a party of ecosocialism deserves the dustbin of history. As for the Green Party of the United States, some harsh home truths are in order.

      The Green Party here has a solid program of peace, economic democracy, and ecological sanity. Howie Hawkins is a fine representative of the strongly socialist wing of this party, and deserves support as a presidential candidate.

      However, the Green Party must put its house in order. At the national level, there must be living wages for working members who have the job of getting the message out to the public and staffing the bigger campaigns. Donated labor can go only so far, and in electoral politics amateurism is fatal.

    • ‘Blatant Attempt to Politicize the Science’: Trump Reportedly Moving to End Long-Term Studies of Climate Crisis

      In what environmental experts warned could be President Donald Trump’s most dangerous assault on science yet, the White House is reportedly moving to end long-term assessments of the impacts of the climate crisis while pushing a polluter-friendly agenda that is making the planetary emergency worse.

      As the New York Times reported late Monday, “the White House-appointed director of the United States Geological Survey, James Reilly, a former astronaut and petroleum geologist, has ordered that scientific assessments produced by that office use only computer-generated climate models that project the impact of climate change through 2040, rather than through the end of the century, as had been done previously.”

      [...]

      In addition to attempting to severely limit the government’s climate science methodology, the Times reported, the Trump administration is also working “to question its conclusions by creating a new climate review panel” led by physicist William Happer, who once said the “demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.”

      Happer was brought on to the National Security Council by John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser.

      “Mr. Happer and Mr. Bolton are both beneficiaries of Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the far-right billionaire and his daughter who have funded efforts to debunk climate science,” the Times reported. “The Mercers gave money to a super PAC affiliated with Mr. Bolton before he entered government and to an advocacy group headed by Mr. Happer.”

    • Under Massive Extinction Threat, Recreational Trapping Must End

      One million animal and plant species are at imminent risk of extinction.

      “The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” notes Professor Josef Settele, a contributor to the recent report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”

      It is clear that if we continue on our path of profit at any cost, consumerism, and massive trapping of wild animals for ‘recreation and profit,’ Montana will contribute to pushing some animal species over the cliff of no return.

      The United Nationa report urged “transformative changes needed locally and globally to restore and protect nature.”

  • Finance

    • New York City Moves Forward With Paid Vacation Measure

      This week New York’s city council will begin to consider a measure put forward by Mayor Bill de Blasio that would guarantee workers in the city at least 10 days of paid time off per year. This proposal is an important step toward bringing the United States inline with the other rich countries in guaranteeing its workers some amount of paid vacation.

      As a new report from Adewale Maye at the Center for Economic Research shows, the United States is very much an outlier from its peer countries in not guaranteeing its workers any paid vacation days or holidays. Countries in the European Union all guarantee workers at least four weeks of paid vacation (it’s a condition of EU membership). Many provide five weeks, in addition to an average of 10 paid holidays.

      Canada guarantees workers 10 days of paid vacation in addition to nine paid holidays. Even Japan, which has a reputation as being a workaholic country, guarantees workers 10 paid vacation days and 15 paid holidays. The 10 days of paid time off proposed by de Blasio would still be at the bottom of the list among wealthy countries, but it would at least be a step in the right direction.

      In the US, it is those at the bottom who are least likely to get paid vacation or holidays on the job. More than 90 percent of workers in the top quartile of the wage distribution get both paid vacation and paid holidays. Just over 50 percent of workers in the bottom quartile get these benefits.

      The United States was not always an outlier in the amount of time people worked in the course of a year. If we go back to 1970, the average number of hours people worked in a year in the United States was pretty much typical for wealthy countries. The average worker put in somewhat more time than people in Denmark and the Netherlands, but less than people in France, Finland, and much less than workers in Japan.

      However, over the next five decades, the average length of the work year fell sharply in all of these countries, while just edging down by 5.0 percent in the United States. As a result, workers in the United States now put in more time than workers in any other wealthy country, including Japan.

    • Former Coinbase CTO: “I don’t think any crypto can compete with Bitcoin”
    • Illinois Video Gambling Tax Hike Will Be Decided by Lawmakers With Financial Ties to the Industry

      With the Illinois General Assembly poised to consider a tax hike on video gambling, some key lawmakers and their family members have developed previously undisclosed financial connections to the industry, meaning the fate of any proposal could lie in part on votes of legislators with a stake in the outcome.

      They include two of the General Assembly’s most powerful figures, Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, a Republican from Bloomington, and Chicago Democrat Antonio Muñoz, the Senate assistant majority leader, according to Illinois Gaming Board records obtained by ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ.

      These ties, coupled with robust campaign giving by the industry, reveal how video gambling operators are building political influence at a time when the state is desperate to identify much-needed revenue to fund a capital program and balance the budget. Those operators hope to block a tax increase, pushing instead to raise the maximum bet from $2 to $4 and increase the number of machines allowed in each location from five to six.

      The video gambling industry has spent lavishly on a lobbying campaign to stave off Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s February budget proposal to raise $89 million for a capital campaign through a tax increase on video slot and poker machines. Last week, the governor’s office followed up with a plan, Rebuild Illinois, which calls for $90 million in funding from video gambling but doesn’t specify how it would be raised.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Americans Don’t Need Deepfakes to Believe Lies About Nancy Pelosi

      President Trump tweeted a video of House speaker Nancy Pelosi that was altered to make her look and sound drunk, with the speed slowed down to 75 percent.

    • Nihilist-in-Chief

      Last week, the House Intelligence Committee released transcripts of testimony by Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to Donald Trump and current guest of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In it, Cohen describes how one of his tasks as an employee of the future president was to stiff people who had done work for the Trump Organization, on his boss’ personal instruction. “Some of the things that I did was reach out to individuals, whether it’s law firms or small businesses, and renegotiate contracts after the job was already done, or basically tell them that we just weren’t paying at all, or make them offers of, say, 20 cents on the dollar,” he said. Cohen expressed remorse for his involvement in this combination of scam and strongarming, saying that as a result of Trump’s refusal to pay people who didn’t have the wherewithal to fight a wealthy developer, “many of these folks, you know, lost everything.”

      [...]

      In fact, what becomes more clear all the time is not just that Trump is lacking in principles or morals, let alone a vision of a better world he’s trying to create. It’s precisely his rejection of the idea of principles or morals that he believes gives him strength and makes him a winner.

      The world, then, is an ongoing zero-sum competition where all that matters is winning. And from where Trump stands, it is his willingness to do what others refuse to do that leads him to victory. Are his business competitors willing to engage in a massive tax fraud worth hundreds of millions of dollars? If not, they won’t be as successful as him. Are his political competitors willing to tell 10,000 lies in a little over two years? If not, they won’t be able to control the news agenda like he will. Were previous presidents bound by a respect for the office that prevented them from tossing out juvenile insults on Twitter? Did they have enough respect for the law and the Constitution not to act like they could simply refuse to comply with every congressional subpoena? What a bunch of losers.

      As for Donald Trump’s party, they had spent years preparing themselves for a leader like Trump. They too have been willing to go to nearly any length to win, whether it was refusing to allow Barack Obama to fill a Supreme Court seat or engaging in all manner of vote suppression to keep African Americans from getting to the polls. Try to imagine someone proposing a bit of procedural radicalism or a tactic that contradicts core democratic values, and ask yourself if leading Republicans would say, “We don’t care if that might help us; it’s simply wrong and we shouldn’t go that far.” The very idea is ludicrous.

    • Populists fall short of expectations in the European elections

      THAT RIGHT-WING populism has gained ground in Europe in recent years is a well-established fact. A glance at the continent’s recent electoral history shows that much: the Lega dominates Italy’s politics, Marine Le Pen made it to the run-off of the French presidential election in 2017, Law and Justice (PiS) runs Poland and elsewhere smaller parties from Alternative for Germany to the Danish People’s Party and Vox in Spain are shaping their countries’ politics. All of which is a far cry from the settled European party landscape of 15 or 20 years ago. But that much is known. The question now is: in what direction is European politics moving and at what pace?

      This evening’s result in the European elections provides some answers to that, and caveat the more excitable commentaries about the rise of nationalists in Europe. Turnout is up for the first time ever, and at 51% higher than in any European election since 1994. And yes, the right-populists have done well again. The Lega is first in Italy, Ms Le Pen’s National Rally has narrowly beaten Emmanuel Macron to first place in France, PiS came first in Poland despite running against a mostly unified opposition ticket. But it is also clear that the mighty, breakneck populist surge of a couple of years ago—with Britain voting to leave the EU, populists topping polls all over the continent and a cataclysmic nationalist takeover threatening—is over. Nationalists are now consolidating their gains and settling into a much broader pattern: that of fragmentation.

    • Thoughts on UK Politics

      3.1% of those eligible to vote bothered to go to a polling station and vote Tory in an important UK wide election last week. That’s 1 voter in every 33. Yet the Tory Party is shortly going to choose internally, from within its despised ranks, the next Prime Minister of the UK, even though that Tory Party does not even command a majority at Westminster. That is how dysfunctional the UK constitution has become.

      Meantime the SNP were runaway victors in Scotland and Sinn Fein topped the poll on first preferences in Northern Ireland. The UK is disintegrating before our eyes. I pray the SNP leadership finally discovers the courage to seize the moment.

      There is a huge amount of wishful thinking in the popular twitter meme that SNP, Libdem, Change plus Green votes just outweigh Brexit plus UKIP votes. This wilfully ignores the fact that a very high percentage of the residual Tory vote are Brexiteers- their Remainers have, like Heseltine, decamped their vote to the LibDems. Any Remainer voting Tory would be certifiable.

      The figures are also distorted by adding in Scotland. In Scotland the SNP, Green and Lib Dem vote outweighed the Brexit and Ukip vote by a massive four to one. Scotland being 11% of the total vote in this election, that tilts the overall calculation towards Remain by a full net 5% (duly allowing for the small Tory and Labour votes in Scotland). If you do the figures for England alone, it is absolutely plain that the people of England wish to Brexit. Nobody has the right to stop England from Brexiting as it wishes. What is needed is a mature and friendly acceptance that this means the UK must split.

      I stood twice for election in Parliamentary elections in England as an independent anti-war candidate. The first time, in Blackburn in 2005, the BBC broadcast a radio debate between the candidates but excluded me on the basis that I had “no evidence of popular support.” I polled 5.0%.

      When I stood later in Norwich, the same thing happened again, and I pointed out that I had obtained 5% in Blackburn. The BBC told me that 5% was not enough public support to be given airtime.

      I shall be fascinated to see if they apply that to Change UK and their 3%. Don’t hold your breath. I am rather proud that just on my own, with a few blog readers helping, I am more popular with the electorate than this massively hyped new political party.

    • Maduro: Glimmering Brake on Rhinoceritis

      Ignacio Ramonet, French author and journalist, former editor of Le Monde Diplomatique, sat recently with Nicholas Maduro.[1] Ramonet has known four Venezuelan presidents. In Miraflores, Caracus, seat of government, people converse, debate, talk on the phone and wait. All is normal.

      Visitors, business folk, journalists, civil servants, ministers and their aides pass through the corridors. Ramonet has not met Maduro since December. Since then, the US has attacked Venezuela more aggressively than in the country’s history.

      Maduro is calm. He has shown himself to be a tranquil leader. No minister has left his government. No commanding general has deserted. No rupture has occurred in the civic-military alliance. Ramonet and Maduro discuss all this. Maduro says: “Only dialogue can resolve the crisis. … Between Venezuelans of good will, we can find solutions without violence”.

      We expect Maduro to be a raving tyrant. We may dismiss Ramonet.

      Occasionally, precisely the unexpected creates imagination. It happened to Leroy Jones in 1960. He went to Cuba and returned politicized. In his widely reprinted “Cuba Libre”, he credits a “thin crust of lie we cannot even detect in our thinking”.

      He noticed it because of surprise. People were normal, tranquil, interesting, like Maduro. Jones looked for explanations, not just for why Cubans were as they were, but why he’d expected otherwise. He discovered the “thin crust of lie”.

    • Theresa May Was a Bad PM, But Her Resignation Will do Nothing to Arrest Britain’s Long-Term Decline

      There is a story about an enthusiastic American who took a phlegmatic English friend to see the Niagara Falls.

      “Isn’t that amazing?” exclaimed the American. “Look at that vast mass of water dashing over that enormous cliff!”

      “But what,” asked the Englishman, “is to stop it?”

      My father, Claud Cockburn, used to tell this fable to illustrate what, as a reporter in New York on the first day of the Wall Street Crash on 24 October 1929, it was like to watch a great and unstoppable disaster taking place.

      I thought about my father’s account of the mood on that day in New York as Theresa May announced her departure as prime minister, the latest milestone – but an important one – in the implosion of British politics in the age of Brexit. Everybody with their feet on the ground has a sense of unavoidable disaster up ahead but no idea of how to avert it; least of all May’s likely successors with their buckets of snake oil about defying the EU and uniting the nation.

      It is a mistake to put all the blame on the politicians. I have spent the last six months traveling around Britain, visiting places from Dover to Belfast, where it is clear that parliament is only reflecting real fault lines in British society. Brexit may have envenomed and widened these divisions, but it did not create them and it is tens of millions of people who differ radically in their opinions, not just an incompetent and malign elite.

    • Trump’s Upcoming Yankee Doodle Disaster

      Years ago, I was interviewing the college roommate of a famous politician who told the story of being sent to a shop by the pol to pick up a large impressive trophy. It would be presented at an official school dinner that night. Is this for the university president, the roommate asked? No, the politician replied, without missing a beat, it’s for me.

      That kind of 24-karat self-worth came to mind this Memorial Day weekend as I was watching Donald Trump present the first ever US President’s Cup, a four-foot high, 60-pound hunk of metal, at a sumo wrestling championship in Tokyo, part of his state visit. He violated several protocols of the highly formalized sport in the process and I distinctly got the impression that he would have preferred giving the prize to himself.

      As The New York Times’ Katie Rogers reported, “a large Trump 2020 sign greeted the president as he approached the arena. And Mr. Trump seemed to make an entrance similar to those at any ‘Make America Great Again’ rally—he clapped, fist-pumped and waved, greeting the attendees as if they had assembled on his behalf.”

      It was said of Teddy Roosevelt that he wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral, a supreme sense of self that has been far exceeded by Trump’s. (Although you have to wonder what TR might have been like in this age of social media: “Charge at San Juan Hill a cakewalk. Horses barely broke sweat. Cuba full of losers. #BigStick #Bully.”)

    • Nuanced Readings of the Politics of the Indian National Congress in the Wake of Elections in India

      About a year ago, I wrote an article on majoritarianism in South Asia, which is feared as much as monarchism. Several well-meaning people—academics, writers, intellectuals, and opinion makers—are worried, rightly so, about the overwhelming victory of the BJP in the recent general elections in India. But wouldn’t it behoove those opinion makers and intellectuals, some of whom are my friends, to hold the Indian National Congress (INC) just as accountable for having, historically, given short shrift to constitutional checks and balances, particularly in terms of center-state relations?

      We need more nuanced readings of national politics if we are invested in invigorating the very well written Constitution of India with the dignity and vigour that it deserves.

      Since Independence in 1947, the Indian polity has undergone dislocation and restructuring, with, as Aijaz Ahmad tells us, “contradictory tendencies towards greater integrative pressures of the market and the nation-state on the one hand, greater differentiation and fragmentation of communities and socioeconomic positions on the other” (191).

      [...]

      As I’ve said before, national parties will need to reconceptualize their politics in order to pay attention to the emergence of peace, political liberty, socioeconomic reconstruction, and egalitarian democratization, good governance, and resuscitating democratic institutions.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • China’s robot censors crank up as Tiananmen anniversary nears

      Censors at Chinese internet companies say tools to detect and block content related to the 1989 crackdown have reached unprecedented levels of accuracy, aided by machine learning and voice and image recognition.

      [...]

      Two employees at the firm said censorship of the Tiananmen crackdown, along with other highly sensitive issues including Taiwan and Tibet, is now largely automated.

    • Chinese Authorities Have Detained an Activist Filmmaker for Posting a Picture Referencing the Tiananmen Square Massacre

      Chinese authorities have detained Deng Chuanbin, an independent filmmaker and activist also known as Huang Huang, for tweeting a photo alluding to the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

      Early on the morning of May 17, just hours after posting the photo, authorities arrived at the filmmaker’s home in the Sichuan province with an arrest warrant. They confiscated his electronics—cell phones, computers, cameras, and memory cards—and escorted him to the Nanxi District Detention Center, where he has been held since, according to ArtAsiaPacific.

      Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a grassroots activist group, reported that authorities returned to Deng’s home at least one additional time after the arrest to collect more of his belongings.

    • In Memory of the Tiananmen Square Massacre

      Since the Tiananmen Square Massacre, June 4 has been considered a “sensitive” date for the Party. There has been steady pressure on the Chinese regime to correct the label of “riot” that was given to the 1989 student movement.

    • Photographer Releases Never-Before-Seen Tiananmen Protest Photos

      Liu was a 19-year-old university student at the time. As a professional photographer, he took 60 rolls of film of the students’ protest and citizens’ support, and washed them by himself—a process in developing film.

      Liu, however, didn’t print the photos and just kept the developed film. But recently, he printed and shared them exclusively with the Chinese-language editions of The Epoch Times and NTD television, a U.S.-based uncensored Chinese media outlet.

      While cameras weren’t uncommon in China in 1989, Liu said most of the film of the incident disappeared after the photographers sent them to photo studios for washing and printing, because the Chinese regime forced the studios to hand over any film with images of the protest and massacre.

      He said 80 percent of film capturing the Tiananmen Square protests was destroyed by the Chinese regime, making his photos even more precious.

    • Tiananmen Square: Why China’s Leaders Want to Erase ‘May 35’

      No government likes to be reminded of its atrocities. Within the Great Firewall, terms that are placeholders for June 4—including “May 35” and the concatenated Roman numerals “VIIV”—are scrubbed from the web by Chinese censors. Anyone who invokes the massacre in public discussion can be punished, even jailed.

    • China’s internet censors are on high alert ahead of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests

      Two employees at a Chinese firm said censorship of the Tiananmen crackdown, along with other highly sensitive issues including Taiwan and Tibet, is now largely automated.

    • Inflatable ‘Tank Man’ appears in Taiwan ahead of Tiananmen Square crackdown anniversary

      Outside China, “Tank Man” has become one of the 20th century’s most iconic images. After the initial standoff, famously captured by American photographer Jeff Widener from the balcony of a nearby hotel, the unknown man was filmed climbing up to the tank’s turret and speaking to a soldier inside, before dismounting.

      The image Widener shot for the Associated Press soon spread around the world, and is now the most recognized symbol of the bloody crackdown. It was taken the day after the so-called “June Fourth Incident,” in which China’s military cleared Tiananmen Square of protesters who had gathered to call for democratic reforms.

      The incident remains a sensitive topic in China, and the “Tank Man” image — along with recreations and parodies of it — are regularly subjected to online and media censorship.

    • Tiananmen Square a topic that still can’t be studied

      Since she conducted her research, “the control over history and memory has only tightened” in China, Lim said during an 8 May ‘Tiananmen at 30’ panel organised by Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Even private reminiscences are increasingly being penalised, she said.

      The Chinese leadership is going even further than controlling its own population. “We are increasingly seeing attempts to export that amnesia,” Lim said, pointing to attempts to censor content by overseas publishers, and include, for example, pressure on companies such as Apple which removed Tiananmen related songs from iTunes or the refusal by Columbia University’s CV Starr East Asian Library to host a donated bust of Chinese Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who was one of the last to leave Tiananmen Square in June 1989. Liu died in custody in China in July 2017.

      [...]

      Government censors are particularly active in the weeks before 4 June and delete any combination of the numbers 6 and 4, as well as any reference to Tiananmen, a major Beijing landmark. This year all language versions of Wikipedia have been blocked in China, not just the Chinese language version.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The Apple-Google Silent Fight Has Started [Ed: Both companies violate your privacy, so this is just a perceptions/PR game]

      Needless to say, privacy is one of those areas where recently tech companies are willing to give whatever it takes to maintain an image of a trustworthy company.

      Now, Apple and Google are possibly the strongest pillars of the smartphone industry. It’s expected from both the companies to harbor a positive attitude towards the privacy and security of users. But generally speaking, Apple is regarded as a better company when it comes to privacy.

    • Google Invests $670 Million to Expand Its Data Center in Finland

      Google will pay about 600 million euros ($670 million) to build a data center in Finland amid a push by its parent Alphabet Inc. to invest heavily in servers and feed demand for faster access to files and media.

      The new construction will add to Google’s existing data-center complex in Hamina on the south coast of Finland, taking the company’s total investment there to 1.4 billion euros, it said in an emailed statement on Monday.

    • Google to invest €600m in new data centre in Finland

      The new data centre will be located on the premises of the former Summa paper factory lot, just like the first data centre in Hamina that Google opened in 2011. This brings Google’s total investments in Hamina to 1.4 billion euros.

      Hamina, a town and municipality, is located about 145 kilometres east of the Finnish capital Helsinki and has a population of slightly over 20,000 people.

    • All the Ways Google Tracks You—And How to Stop It

      It’s worth emphasizing first that we’re really dealing with two topics: The amount of data Google collects on you, which is a lot, and what Google then does with it. Google would say its data collection policies improve its services—helping you find a restaurant similar ones you’ve liked previously, say—whereas users might disagree.

    • Exclusive: Behind Grindr’s doomed hookup in China, a data misstep and scramble to make up

      After taking full control of Grindr in January 2018, Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd stepped up management changes and consolidated operations to cut costs and expand operations in Asia, one former employee familiar with the decision said.

      In the process, some of the company’s engineers in Beijing got access to the Grindr database for several months, eight former employees said.

    • The FBI Went to Microsoft, not Trump Organization, for Emails Incriminating Individual-1

      That means Microsoft — and not (just) Trump Organization — controlled access to these accounts.

      This is something that has long been an unrecognized problem. If the government wants your email and your business or university has Microsoft or Gmail host email for them, the tech giants will get and respond to a law enforcement request, not the entity that might make privilege or First Amendment legal challenges to the subpoena. For example, the government would have gotten Xiaoxiang Xi and Ally Watkins’ Temple University email from Google, not the University, preventing both from making a First Amendment challenge to the warrant.

    • Facebook says Zuckerberg and Sandberg will defy Canadian subpoena, risking contempt vote

      Zimmer sent both executives summonses earlier this month. He said the company had submitted alternate names of people to attend in their place, but that he wants to hear directly from the social network’s top two executives. Their presence is important, he said, because, “Knowing the structure of Facebook and how it is micro-managed right from the top, any change on the platform is done through Mr. Zuckerberg or through Ms. Sandberg.”

    • Facebook’s Zuckerberg and Sandberg reportedly refuse Canadian hearing summons

      Zuckerberg and Sandberg were reportedly asked earlier this month to appear at an international committee meeting examining Silicon Valley’s impact on privacy and democracy.

      Facebook is sending Kevin Chan, its head of public policy for Facebook Canada, and Neil Potts, its director of public policy, the social media giant confirmed to The Hill.

    • London, Ont., court to decide if police can access Facebook messages

      But the social media giant says it doesn’t have to abide by Canadian production orders because it’s an American company that stores its data in the United States.

      Instead, it wants Canadian authorities to go through the so-called mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) process, usually used for physical evidence, which requires Canadian authorities to request that American authorities ask the FBI to compel Facebook to give up data. The American part of that process takes at least 10 months.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • San Francisco Police Union Demands Chief’s Resignation Over Raid Of Journalist’s Home

      In a statement, the union said, “Chief Scott not only followed every twist and turn of the investigation, but he knew every element of the investigation, directed the investigation and has clearly either come down with the most debilitating case of amnesia or is flat-out not telling the truth about his direct involvement and the horribly flawed direction he gave to find the leak of the police report.”

    • The Jeremy Kyle Factor

      If you saw him in the street, you might not notice him. You might not even give him a second glance. For Jeremy Kyle is non-descript now; a grey, withered middle-aged man somewhere in his fifties. But he is also centuries old. In him we detect all the things we thought we had left behind. The hunting of witches. The pelting of vagrants in stocks. The ritualised and public persecution of the poverty-stricken and wretched. The rising miasma of age-old medievalism, carried by shrieking, puritanical rants, belted out by a sinister figure, and set against the backdrop of a baying and enflamed mob. Jeremy Kyle is part of our modern cultural landscape, it is true; he is a symptom of austerity Britain, and its class hatred – the visceral loathing of ‘chavs’ and ‘benefit scroungers’ and single-mothers, the vulnerable and the isolated. But he is also a product of something much older.

      The witch finder general of yore was a specific and fascinating psychological proposition. A rigid ascetic with a military bearing, someone whose austere protestant morality was only ever capable of registering the one emotional tone, that of self-righteous rage. And yet, there was something else at work, something more. Behind the layers of righteous indignation and the religious spiel about preserving the community from the sinful and the wicked – behind the whole philosophy of purity and purification – one could always detect a long submerged sensuality. Deep down, always that repressed, sexualised demand whose energies had been sublimated into the furious drive to lay sin bare, to strip someone of all their defences, to reveal the guilt and corruption which lurks within.

      Watching Kyle berate his ‘guests’ – the beetle-browed host, his puckered face swollen in a sneer of contempt, barking out raw recriminations; behind all that manufactured moralism – all that contrived shock and outrage – you can’t help but feel he is enjoying it all a little too much. Look past his military-drill-style hectoring, and you can glimpse a strange, dark pleasure in the dull shine of Mr Kyle’s glinting, beady eyes. A modern day Matthew Hopkins, albeit one who has exchanged pulpit for TV studio.

    • Cruel and Unusual: A Guide to California’s Broken Prisons and the Fight to Fix Them

      A decade ago, so many inmates were crammed into California’s prisons that the sprawling system had reached a breaking point. Prisoners were sleeping in gyms, hallways and dayrooms. Mentally ill prisoners were jammed into tiny holding cells. There were dozens of riots and hundreds of attacks on guards every year. Suicide rates were 80% higher than in the rest of the nation’s prisons.

      The California prison population peaked at more than 165,000 in 2006 — in a system designed to house just 85,000. That dubious mountaintop came after years of tougher and tougher laws like mandatory sentences, juveniles prosecuted as adults and a “Three Strikes” initiative overwhelmingly approved by voters in 1994.

    • Diary: Hate / La Haine and the Hummingbird

      See that man over there, that woman, the dead black man and woman with a wooden cross in hand, one headed out to sea, the other to the mountains: they are ghosts of a life past, southern in character, pushed out of LA and onto the streets until only 9 percent of the city is still black, making up 39 percent of the unhoused.

      The hummingbird being the working class, beautiful, always tired from seeking food. As Anthropologist Alain Bertho writes in The Age of Violence, the roots of violence are found in concrete social and political situations. This was the case in 1992 in Los Angeles, during the LA Riots, as it is the case today in France with the Gilets Jaunes. Years before the Gilets Jaune, in 1995, Mathieu Kassovitz released La Haine about a different kind of working class violence, one not grounded in class struggle. Despite the police killings, despite the lack of human rights, the absence of black political violence is not a new political ethos (unfortunately) in Los Angeles, but a product of gentrification and of homelessness. The new infra-citizen of this politea Los Angeles is the black person and hanging on is what remains.

      Like in many other societies in the world, the coming to power of the French left through Francois Mitterand’s winning the popular vote over Giscard-D’estaing would slowly dissolve the potency of the dreams of leftists. Historians and political scientists, such as the conservative Fukuyama often argue that it is the fall of the Berlin Wall that dramatically gave way to hegemonic neo-liberalism but this is not true: internal contradictions and broken promises eroded the ranks of the international left around the world. From Jamaica to Hanoi, the dream was waning. As Alain Bertho argues in his book The Age of Violence, class struggle banlieu (working class neighborhoods) gave way to banlieu tout court or working class neighborhoods focused on survival and not on leftism.

      [...]

      Let us not romanticize political violence. Let us use it as a marker of something, a “phenomenon”. Watching La Haine, reading Alain Bertho, and thinking of two historical urban rebellions in LA and how they could possibly happen in much more globalized Los Angeles, it becomes obvious that the community necessary to revolt, the Gilets Jaunes of LA, no longer lives in LA. No, black persons are today jailed, pushed out, are part of the massive number of community members who are unhoused (53,000 as per not accurate LAHSA count). However, some, especially brown, remain often grandfathered into a living arrangement or living from paycheck to paycheck. The violence about black life would come from blackness but it does not, because the city of LA has reached a critical mass of in-existence that guides political culture.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patent Court Specialization

      A central issue in administrative law is how to balance power between executive-branch agencies and the courts that review their decisions, both to preserve separation of powers and ensure good decisionmaking. In patent law, however, such a balance does not exist. When Congress created the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) in 1982, it intended for the court to be a generalist institution that heard appeals from a variety of agencies. But since that time, the Federal Circuit has become a specialized court, with patent-related matters now comprising the overwhelming majority of its docket. Over the years, this specialization has led to various problems, including disregard for the Patent and Trademark Office’s (“PTO’s”) autonomy, political activism, and judicial legislating. The Federal Circuit has consolidated power to the point that no other branch of government serves as an effective check, raising separation-of-powers concerns. Consequently, it is important that Congress act to restore a balance of power in patent law. This could be accomplished by granting the PTO greater rulemaking authority to limit the Federal Circuit’s ability to engage in judicial legislation, to facilitate public participation, and to generally serve as a counterbalance to the powerful court.

    • Lawsuit alleges recycling equipment patent violation

      Optical sorting technology is at the center of a patent infringement lawsuit between equipment suppliers Green Machine and Machinex.

      New Hampshire-headquartered Green Machine on April 24 filed a civil suit against Machinex Industries and Machinex Technologies, claiming the companies incorporated technology into optical sorting equipment in violation of a patent held by Green Machine. Machinex Industries and Machinex Technologies are part of the wider Quebec-based Machinex Group, which was not named in the suit.

      The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. Machinex, which has its U.S. office in High Point, N.C., has not yet filed a response, but the company offered its take in an interview with Resource Recycling.

      The allegations relate to technology used in the Green Eye Optical Sorter, a Green Machine sorting system. The company claims Machinex is using the same features, despite Green Machine holding a patent to the technology. Although the disagreement has been going on for four years, it ramped up when Machinex introduced into the U.S. market an optical sorter that uses the technology in dispute, according to the lawsuit.

    • Trump’s Trade War With China and “Our” Intellectual Property

      Some events give extraordinary insights into the biases of the economics profession. The trade war with China clearly fit the bill.

      The origins of the trade war can be traced to campaign promises Trump made to go after China over its large trade surplus with the United States, which he attributed to “currency manipulation.” The argument was that by intervening in currency markets (buying up U.S. dollars), China was propping up the value of the dollar against its own currency.

      This makes Chinese goods and services relatively cheaper to U.S. consumers and makes U.S. goods more expensive to Chinese purchasers. The net effect is to increase U.S. imports of Chinese goods and reduce U.S. exports to China, thereby leading to a large trade deficit.

      While most economists now acknowledge that China was intervening in currency markets in the last decade (they did not acknowledge the currency intervention at the time), they insist that this is no longer an issue. China is no longer a large net buyer of dollar denominated assets, so the argument goes, therefore it is not currently keeping down the value of its currency against the dollar.

      As I have argued elsewhere, this argument ignores the effect of China holding well in excess of $3 trillion worth of dollar denominated assets. Its decision to hold a massive stock of dollar assets depresses the value of the Chinese yuan against the dollar, thereby maintaining the competitive advantage from a lower valued currency.

      This is the same logic that applies with the Fed’s decision to hold trillions of dollars worth of assets that it acquired as part of its quantitative easing program. Even though the Fed is not currently buying assets, most economists argue that its holding of assets still works to keep down interest rates. Perhaps in the next decade they will acknowledge that the same relationship holds with China’s massive stock of dollars and the relative value of the dollar and the yuan, but for now they insist that currency intervention was only an issue in the past.

    • Trademarks

      • Not quite “One in a Million”, says Court of Appeal

        A short but sweet judgment from Lord Justice Floyd in Media Agency Group Limited and Transport Media Limited v Space Media Agency Limited and Ors [2019] EWCA Civ 712 has overturned a rather generous first instance finding of passing off through cybersquatting.

        The Claimants (and Respondents in the appeal) are part of a successful outdoor media planning and buying group, trading under the name “Transport Media”, among others, since c. 2009. The First Claimant owns the domain transportmedia.co.uk and has owned a UK trade mark for TRACCOUNTABLE in class 35 since March 2014. The Defendants included a former employee of the First Claimant, Mr Shafiq. In October 2016 Mr Shafiq, together with Mr Buksh (the sole Appellant), incorporated the First Defendant, in which they were the sole shareholders. The First Defendant began to use the trading style “Transport Media Agency”, and Mr Buksh acquired several domain names for the business, including transportmwediaagency.co.uk [sic.] and trackaccountableadvertising.com.

        [...]

        dmission by the Defendants.

        This, said the Court of Appeal, was incorrect. The Particulars of Claim did not allege that the Claimants had acquired goodwill in “Traccountable”. The trial judge appeared to treat the fact of cybersquatting as proof in itself of passing off. This finding departed significantly from the leading case on this topic, British Telecommunications plc and Ors v One In A Million Ltd and Ors [1999] 1 WLR 903. Even if, as seemed to be the case here, the domain name in question was an instrument of fraud, this did not dispense with the requirement to prove a complete case in passing off (i.e. goodwill, misrepresentation and damage).

    • Copyrights

      • RIAA Subpoenas Target Yet Another Huge YouTube-Ripping Site

        The RIAA has obtained DMCA subpoenas designed to uncover the identity of the individuals behind yet another huge YouTube-ripping site. The subpoenas order Cloudflare and domain registrar NameCheap to hand over all relevant information about the operator of Y2Mate, a site with almost 64 million monthly visits.

Linux Foundation and the Big Surveillance Industry, Media Industry, Microsoft Azure

Posted in GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, OSDL at 5:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

James Clapper

Summary: The Linux Foundation has become a complex creature with intricate corporate ties and government ties as well (especially the US government); these relationships need to be better understood

IT HAS BEEN a while since we last wrote about the Linux Foundation. We habitually post links to news about it (in our daily links), but we haven’t had time to write articles on the subject. Partly because affairs at the European Patent Office (EPO) are heating up again, culminating in a likely strike next month.

“That undoubtedly disputes claims that the PAC exists merely to pay Mr. Torvalds his salary.”Quite a few things have happened at Zemlin’s PAC this past month. First of all, we came to discover that Amanda McPherson no longer works there. She was receiving about as much money (salary at around half a million dollars per year) as Linus Torvalds. For marketing. That undoubtedly disputes claims that the PAC exists merely to pay Mr. Torvalds his salary. More curious, however, is the background of her successor/replacement. It’s a former spokesperson of James Clapper, best known for lying and perjury (he is deeply connected to Edward Snowden’s employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, and US spying operations at a Federal level too, but to the public he is known as a famous liar because the media focused on it for years). About a week ago the somewhat crypic press release (lacking context) revealed that Huawei connections got the PAC in trouble with the US government, which possibly put direct pressure on the PAC. Here’s how this press release started: “Thank you for your inquiry regarding concerns with a member subject to an Entity List Ruling.[1] While statements in the Executive Order prompting the listing used language granting a broader scope of authority, the Huawei Entity List ruling was specifically scoped to activities and transactions subject to the Export Administration Regulation (EAR).”

Who did the Linux Foundation speak to when it said “Thank you for your inquiry regarding concerns with a member subject to an Entity List Ruling”?

Did some fellow members complain? The final words: “If there is a unique situation of concern, we encourage you to reach out directly to legal@linuxfoundation.org.”

Earlier today we wrote about the increasing likelihood of China's adoption of GNU/Linux at a much larger scale. What might the US government do next? It certainly has a lot of control over the PAC and ways to punish/blackmail it (e.g. removal of the non-profit status or revocation of licence to operate).

This post is a bit of a preview or a look behind the scenes; it’s the subject of ongoing research into the PAC’s strands of work, including the new initiative for “surveillance capitalism” in an ‘urban’ context (companies like Uber and Google, along with “smart cities” and “edge”). We posted many links about this in recent days, weeks and even months (when it was first announced with little additional details). We are also studying the PAC’s media ties (connections to external sites), which do exist but are difficult to decipher (especially money flow, if any, not just staff moves that are simpler to detect). More about training partners ought to be known too; it’s no secret that the PAC nowadays promotes Microsoft Azure at some capacity.

“There are many interests and various powerful corporations in the mix; it’s only rational to attempt to figure out what they want and what they do to their PAC.”We are still not sure why McPherson left (or was pushed out) and Clapper’s former spokesperson became the Linux Foundation’s. McPherson seems to be working in academia now; some colleagues of hers (also alumni of the PAC) moved to media companies. There’s growing suspicion and some evidence of a connection. The Linux Foundation (LF) links to sites of its alumni and these alumni, in turn, write many articles about Linux Foundation projects and sponsors. “I’m trying to find out why the push for Yocto,” one reader told us, “what push does LF have with members for involvement with these projects no one uses? The recent Forbes article about Clear Linux… is that paid for too? The push to use LF projects by partners/members, I guess is understandable. Buying magazine space to promote… seems shady. Need facts.”

We are certainly going to write more about these subjects in weeks or months to come. We also depend on readers’ input, however meager, so we welcome feedback if not leaks (the latter is rare). There are many interests and various powerful corporations in the mix; it’s only rational to attempt to figure out what they want and what they do to their PAC. Microsoft is only one of several [1, 2], so it would be wrong to focus only on this one company.

First South Korea and Now China: The Move Away From Microsoft Windows

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 2:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Obviously North Korea as well, straining the monoculture Microsoft heavily relies on

Terracotta Army

Summary: East Asia is putting Microsoft’s monopoly on desktops/laptops at great risk; there might be more discussion about this in days/weeks to come

THE Linux Foundation has said nothing about this (not even a link), but Microsoft’s predatory pricing and collusion with the NSA (new incidents related to this in Baltimore) may be costing it the biggest businesses and largest clients (governments). South Korea may already be yesterday's news; now it’s China. It’s not just about Huawei and about Android, either. There was an impact on Microsoft and Windows as well (mentioned in our daily links last week).

“China already has several of its own distributions and they are pretty well maintained. Some are RHEL based and in recent years Debian- and Ubuntu-based (Deepin and Kylin) distributions emerged as well.”China has, over the years, adopted GNU/Linux, but Bill Gates soob came there to sabotage such initiatives, under the auspices of his fake ‘charity’ (lobbying and tax evasion).

Perhaps we’ll know more about it in the coming days (it was a long weekend in the US). It seems like the world’s second-largest military (even largest based on some criteria) may be moving to GNU/Linux. Turkey’s military reportedly did something similar about a decade ago. Now China’s (but this goes beyond that, based on the report “Chinese Military Will Replace Windows Operating System“). They know that reliance on Free software isn’t just cost-saving but also a matter of national security. The article speaks of UNIX, which we assume means proprietary old UNIX, not GNU/Linux. To quote: “The group does not trust the “UNIX” multi-user, multi-stroke operating system either, which is used in some of the servers within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Kanwa reported. Therefore, Chinese authorities ordered to develop an operating system dedicated to the Chinese military.”

Will it be based on GNU/Linux? It does not say, but that seems rather probable. China already has several of its own distributions and they are pretty well maintained. Some are RHEL based and in recent years Debian- and Ubuntu-based (Deepin and Kylin, respectively) distributions emerged as well. There’s no lack of manpower.

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates about Chinese people

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.

05.26.19

Links 26/5/2019: GNOME 3.33.2 and OSS Catchup

Posted in News Roundup at 11:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • IBM Open Sources Razee CD Tool to Support Mega Kubernetes Scaling

      IBM open sourced its Razee continuous delivery (CD) tool that allows developers to manage applications in their Kubernetes-based cluster deployments. The move also continues to bolster IBM’s push into the Kubernetes space.

      Razee consists of two parts: Kaptain, which are components that handle the multi-cluster deployments; and RazeeDash, which is basically the control panel.

      The Kaptain component within Razee provides a pull-based deployment model that supports self-updating clusters. This helps in generating inventory and scripts that describe actions for each cluster or each application running in a Kubernetes environment.

    • Red Hat Open Sources 3scale Code

      Red Hat has completed open sourcing the API management software of 3scale, the company it bought in June 2016 for an undisclosed sum, saying it has been working on the project for the past three years.

      The company’s full code base has been released under the permissive Apache Software License (ASL) 2.0 licence, with the open sourcing process “much more than throwing code over the wall”, Red Hat said.

      In a short post by the company’s David Codelli on Thursday, he noted: “When Red Hat acquires 3scale it was only a matter of time until it would be open sourced in some fashion. “But the process isn’t instantaneous.”

    • Digital Ocean’s Kubernetes service is now generally available

      Like any ambitious cloud infrastructure player, Digital Ocean also recently announced a solution for running Kubernetes clusters on its platform. At KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe in Barcelona, the company today announced that Digital Ocean Kubernetes is now generally available.

      With this release, the company is also bringing the latest Kubernetes release (1.14) to the platform, and developers who use the service will be able to schedule automatic patch version upgrades, too.

    • Serverless and containers: Two great technologies that work better together

      Cloud native models using containerized software in a continuous delivery approach could benefit from serverless computing where the cloud vendor generates the exact amount of resources required to run a workload on the fly. While the major cloud vendors have recognized this and are already creating products to abstract away the infrastructure, it may not work for every situation in spite of the benefits.

      Cloud native, put simply, involves using containerized applications and Kubernetes to deliver software in small packages called microservices. This enables developers to build and deliver software faster and more efficiently in a continuous delivery model. In the cloud native world, you should be able to develop code once and run it anywhere, on prem or any public cloud, or at least that is the ideal.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Prefork Pitfalls | TechSNAP 404

      We turn our eye to web server best practices, from the basics of CDNs to the importance of choosing the right multi-processing module.

      Plus the right way to setup PHP, the trouble with benchmarking, and when to choose NGiNX.

    • Episode 68 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we’re going to check out a lot of Distro News from openSUSE, Antergos Kali Linux, BlackArch, and Tails. Xfce is getting close to releasing their next big version, 4.14 so we’ll take a look at the first Pre-Release. We also got some new App releases for Firefox, Tor Browser, KDE’s Elisa Music Player, and a new file search tool called Drill. Later in the show, we’ll check out some interesting news from GitHub and their new Sponsor program as well as some rather unfortunate news for the Android-related smartphone company, Huawei. Then we’ll finish out the show with deals for Linux Games and some interesting ebooks from Humble Bundle. All that and much more on your Weekly Source for Linux GNews.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.1.5

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.1.5 kernel.

      All users of the 5.1 kernel series must upgrade.

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

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

    • Linux 5.0.19
    • Linux 4.19.46
    • Linux 4.14.122
    • Linux 4.9.179
    • Systemd Now Has More Than 1.2 Million Lines of Code

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

      After surpassing one million lines in 2017, when running GitStats on the systemd Git repository today it’s coming in at 1,207,302 lines. Those 1.2 million lines are spread across 3,260 files and made over 40,057 commits from nearly 1,400 different authors… So far this year there have been 2,145 commits while last year saw 6,245 commits while 2016 and 2017 each saw less than four thousand commits total. Lennart Poettering continues being the most prolific contributor to systemd with more than 32% of the commits so far this year.

    • Linux 5.1 Hit By A Data Loss Bug Due To Overly Aggressive FSTRIM

      As a forewarning to those using LVM, dm-crypt, and Samsung solid-state drives, this combination in some manner(s) may lead to data corruption if using the Linux 5.1 kernel.

    • Linux 5.1.5 Kernel Fixes The Latest Data Corruption Bug

      For those concerned by the kernel’s most recent data corruption bug involving LVM, dm-crypt, and Samsung SSD drive combinations leading to FSTRIM/Discard wiping too much data, the issue should be resolved in the newly-minted Linux 5.1.5 kernel.

      The Linux 5.1.5 kernel debuted on Saturday with this fix as well as various other kernel fixes.

    • More HDR Display Bits On The Way For The Linux 5.3 Kernel

      For years there have been open-source developers working on plumbing support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) displays into the Linux desktop stack and it looks like the Direct Rendering Manager driver support is slowly but surely getting there.

      With the Linux 5.3 kernel cycle later this summer, there will be more HDR infrastructure support in place. As part of this week’s drm-misc-next pull request to DRM-Next for staging this Linux 5.3 material there are more HDR pieces.

    • Linux Foundation (KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, Blockchains and Surveillance)

      • Praqma puts Atlassian’s Data Center products into containers

        It’s KubeCon + CloudNativeCon this week and in the slew of announcements, one name stood out: Atlassian . The company is best known as the maker of tools that allow developers to work more efficiently, and now as a cloud infrastructure provider. In this age of containerization, though, even Atlassian can bask in the glory that is Kubernetes, because the company today announced that its channel partner Praqma is launching Atlassian Software in Kubernetes (ASK), a new solution that allows enterprises to run and manage as containers its on-premise applications like Jira Data Center, with the help of Kubernetes.

        Praqma is now making ASK available as open source.

      • Oracle Expands its Cloud Native and Open Source Solutions

        At KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2019 in Barcelona, Oracle open source projects and cloud services are helping enterprise development teams embrace cloud native culture and open source. With the announcement and open sourcing of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Service Broker for Kubernetes, Oracle continues to expand its commitment to open source and cloud native solutions targeted at helping move enterprise workloads to the cloud.

      • Project Genesis Pushing an Open-Source and Community Initiative to Supplement Cryptocurrency Growth

        The history of open-source community initiatives reveals just how powerful they are. The Linux Foundation has achieved some incredible feats over the course of its existence, the Internet was founded on community-driven open protocols, and cryptocurrencies are supplemented by open-source communities of developers and other professionals.

      • Hyperledger — Open Source Blockchain Technologies

        Blockchain is not just cryptocurrency, it is the whole decentralized ecosystem. In this field, Hyperledger is one of the key players.

      • New open source body to promote better, healthier cities [Ed: LF works for surveillance capitalism in the form of so-called 'smart' cities and here we have fools who twist this harmful agenda as "healthier cities". Now that the former spokesperson of James Clapper is the chief spokesperson of Linux Foundation it might not be long before the foundation sets up a "collaboration platform" for "openDrone strikes" (there's one for drones already).]

        The Linux Foundation has established the Urban Computing Foundation, whose goal is to make life more pleasant and sustainable in cities around the world.

        It is a result of growing recognition of the important role of technology in the development of sustainable urban living, which is plagued by such issues as congestion, traffic chaos, pollution and increasing energy consumption.

        Making the announcement earlier this month, the Linux Foundation said early sign-ups to the foundation such as Uber, Facebook, Google and IBM believe it is essential to accelerate open source software that improves mobility, safety, road infrastructure, traffic congestion and energy consumption in connected cities.

      • Linux Foundation forms Urban Computing Foundation to support connected cities [Ed: LF has surveillan cecapitalism in its Board; yes, the "Linux" Foundation is now a proponent and driver of surveillance everywhere. So much for freedom...]

        The initial contributors include developers from industry heavyweights such as Uber, Facebook, Google, and IBM, as well as HERE Technologies, Interline Technologies, Senseable City Labs, StreetCred Labs and the University of California San Diego.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel’s Linux OpenGL/Vulkan Drivers Seeing Minor Performance Gains With Mesa 19.1

        With Mesa 19.1 due to be released in the coming days as the quarterly update to this open-source OpenGL/Vulkan driver stack, here are some fresh benchmarks looking at how the current Intel (i965) OpenGL and ANV Vulkan drivers performance compare to that of the existing Mesa 19.0 stable series.

      • X.Org Server Closer To Better Handling On-Demand XWayland Startup

        Merged this week to the X.Org Server code-base was an EGL-based GLX provider for helping XWayland and allowing some games to run nicely now under this X11 code-path for Wayland compositors. While not yet merged, another interesting bit of XWayland code is now under review as a merge request.

        The code by Carlos Garnacho is for handling surface creation should the client come up before the compositor. This functionality is necessary for on-demand start-up of XWayland so it’s only running when actively used. The on-demand approach that jives better with this XWayland code pending is the compositor setting up a display socket, listening for incoming data, and only spawning XWayland when there are incoming requests from a launched X11 client.

    • Benchmarks

      • The RadeonSI/RADV Performance With Mesa 19.1

        If all goes well, Mesa 19.1 could debut as soon as next week. Here is a look at how the AMD Radeon Polaris and Vega performance is looking with Mesa 19.1 relative to Mesa 19.0 stable.

        These are some OpenGL (RadeonSI) and Vulkan (RADV) driver benchmark results I carried out earlier this month looking at the Mesa 19.1-devel performance around the RC1 release compared to Mesa 19.0.2 stable of the time.

        A Sapphire Radeon RX 590 (Polaris) and Radeon RX Vega 64 (Vega) were used in this testing to see how the RadeonSI/RADV driver performance has evolved over the past quarter. Via the Phoronix Test Suite a variety of benchmarks were carried out, including various Steam Play (Proton / DXVK) titles.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 72

        Week 72 in Usability & Productivity initiative is here and it’s chock-full of goodies! We continue to polish Plasma 5.16 ahead of its release in two weeks. There was one point in time when veteran KDE developer and author of the new notifications system Kai Uwe Broulik was literally committing fixes faster than I could add them to this blog post! In addition, features for Plasma 5.17 as well as many of our apps are starting to trickle in. Check it out…

      • KDE Plasma 5.17 To Properly Support Screen Sharing On Wayland

        Sadly it didn’t make it in time for the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.16 release, but come Plasma 5.17 there will be working screen sharing support under Wayland.

        KDE Plasma 5.17 is expected to provide full-functioning screen sharing under Wayland making use of PipeWire and XDG-Desktop-Portal. This solution allows full sharing of the KDE Plasma desktop under Wayland via PipeWire with similar functionality to VNC. KDE developers have been working on this for a while and it looks like the 5.17 all the ducks will be in a row with Krfb support.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Developers Plot Future Improvements For Pango

        The Pango layout engine library that’s been around for nearly two decades and used by GNOME’s GTK and other software hasn’t seen much love lately. Fortunately, Matthias Clasen and others are envisioning some improvements to this library and modeling it more around the HarfBuzz shaping engine work.

      • GNOME 3.33.2 released!
        Hello GNOME developers,
        
        GNOME 3.33.2 is now available. This is the second unstable release
        leading to 3.34 stable series.
        
        I had to disable gnome-contacts, gnome-calendar and gnome-maps because of the not-very-well coordinated evolution-data-server transition.
        
        If you want to compile GNOME 3.33.2, you can use the official
        BuildStream project snapshot.
        
        https://download.gnome.org/teams/releng/3.33.2/gnome-3.33.2.tar.xz
        
        The list of updated modules and changes is available here:
        
        https://download.gnome.org/core/3.33/3.33.2/NEWS
        
        The source packages are available here:
        
        https://download.gnome.org/core/3.33/3.33.2/sources/
        
        WARNING!
        --------
        This release is a snapshot of development code. Although it is
        buildable and usable, it is primarily intended for testing and hacking
        purposes. GNOME uses odd minor version numbers to indicate development
        status.
        
        For more information about 3.34, the full schedule, the official module
        lists and the proposed module lists, please see our 3.33 wiki page:
        
        https://www.gnome.org/start/unstable
        
        Cheers,
        
        Abderrahim Kitouni,
        GNOME Release Team
      • GNOME 3.33.2 Released As Another Step Towards The GNOME 3.34 Desktop

        GNOME 3.33.2 is now available as the latest development snapshot in the trek towards this September’s GNOME 3.34.

        GNOME 3.33.2 has a number of fixes to Epiphany, new GJS APIs, Glib-Networking’s OpenSSL back-end now defaults to the system trust store, GNOME Boxes has dropped oVirt support, librsvg continues with its Rust’ing, and various other fixes.

  • Distributions

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • The Man Behind OpenSUSE Conference – Douglas DeMaio

        In this episode of Let’s Talk, we sat down with Douglas DeMaio, the organizer of openSUSE Conference to understand what makes the conference so much fun.

      • SuSE storage spins-up Ceph

        Open source software platform company SuSE has announced SUSE Enterprise Storage 6, a software-defined storage solution powered by Ceph technology.

        Many would argue that storage on its own is snorage (i.e. enough to send you to sleep), but software -defined storage does at least drive us forward into the realm of the software developer.

        By way of a reminder, software -defined storage is a way of managing data storage resources and functionality that is essentially uncoupled from (i.e. has no underlying physical dependencies) the actual hardware resources that offer up the amount of storage being used.

    • Debian Family

      • Laura Arjona Reina: MiniDebConf Marseille 2019

        I’ve attended the MiniDebConf Marseille (France) during this weekend (25–26 May 2019).

        I’m very happy that I could meet new Debian and free software friends and meet again other Debian friends.

        I gave a talk about the Welcome team and some examples of non-packaging contributions to Debian. You can see the slides in the Welcome team wiki page and the video will be linked there when it is available (probably soon, thanks to our awesome Debian Video Team!).

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Top 15 Free and Open Source BPM Solutions

    Searching for BPM software (BPMS) can be a daunting (and expensive) process, one that requires long hours of research and deep pockets. The most popular BPM systems often provide more than what’s necessary for non-enterprise organizations, with advanced functionality relevant to only the most technically savvy users. Thankfully, there are a number of free and open source process management solutions out there. Some of these solutions are offered by vendors looking to eventually sell you on their enterprise product, and others are maintained and operated by a community of developers looking to democratize BPM.

    In this article we will examine free and open source BPM software, first by providing a brief overview of what to expect and also with short blurbs about each of the currently available options in the space. This is the most complete and up-to-date directory on the web.

  • Top 12 Free and Open Source Talent Management Software

    Searching for talent management software can be a daunting (and expensive) process, one that requires long hours of research and deep pockets. The most popular HR systems often provide more than what’s necessary for non-enterprise organizations, with advanced functionality relevant to only the most technically savvy users. Thankfully, there are a number of free and open source talent management solutions out there. Some of these solutions are offered by vendors looking to eventually sell you on their enterprise product, and others are maintained and operated by a community of developers looking to democratize HR technology.

    In this article we will examine free and open source talent management software, first by providing a brief overview of what to expect and also with short blurbs about each of the currently available options in the space. This is the most complete and up-to-date directory on the web.

  • Top 15 Free and Open Source ERP Solutions

    Searching for ERP software can be a daunting (and expensive) process, one that requires long hours of research and deep pockets. The most popular ERP systems often provide more than what’s necessary for non-enterprise organizations, with advanced functionality relevant to only the most technically savvy users. Thankfully, there are a number of free and open source ERP solutions out there. Some of these solutions are offered by vendors looking to eventually sell you on their enterprise product, and others are maintained and operated by a community of developers looking to democratize ERP.

  • The Power Of Open Source AI

    he open source software movement produced iconic innovations like the Firefox web browser, Apache server software and the Linux operating system—the genesis of the Android OS that currently powers 86% of the world’s smartphones. It also fostered a mindset around continuous improvement of tools that can be collaboratively shared, improved upon and distributed.

  • Apache Dubbo, the Java-based open source RPC framework becomes a Top-Level Project

    The Apache Software Foundation announced that the Java-based open source RPC framework used by giants like Alibaba, Apache Dubbo, is now a Top-Level Project. Let’s have a look at what this framework is all about.
    Apache Dubbo is a high-performance, Java-based Remote Procedure Call framework that has been in use at more than 150 companies, including giants like Alibaba Group or the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

    The Dubbo project was originally developed at Alibaba and open-sourced in 2011. It entered the Apache Incubator in February 2018 and the Apache Software Foundation announced that Dubbo is now a Top-Level Project!

  • Bridging divides with open source

    Application delivery is changing. At the risk of using buzzwords, it is being transformed – digitally. Continuous delivery has become the norm for DevOps (71 per cent plan on implementing, according to a study conducted by F5 and RedHat – NetOps Meets DevOps: The State of Network Automation), and continuous deployment must follow if business is to succeed in the era of Application Capital.

    While 73 per cent of organisations plan on pursuing continuous deployment, nearly half of them have yet to begin. A staggering 42 per cent have yet to automate a single component of the continuous deployment pipeline (according to a study conducted by F5 and RedHat – NetOps Meets DevOps: The State of Network Automation).

    [...]

    Applications themselves are mainly developed today from third-party components, a majority of them open source. Application infrastructure is increasingly built from open source components. From web servers to app servers, databases to ingress control, messaging to container runtimes and orchestration. IT operations are driven by open source tools like Puppet, Chef, Terraform, Helm, Kubernetes, and Ansible. These technologies are adopted because they answer multiple challenges: fast, frequent delivery and deployment along with a frictionless business model. They also encourage collaboration and innovation when entire organisations move to standardise on open source-based operations.

    None of that is possible without the passionate communities of developers who work tirelessly to improve their open source solutions.

    At F5, we appreciate the value of such communities. In a comparable example, our DevCentral community is based on collaborative innovation, guided by many of the same principles that drive open source projects. Code sharing and knowledge transfers across the community help the hundreds of thousands of members innovate and create new capabilities for our BIG-IP platform. With those solutions come new extensions, plug-ins, and libraries for open source projects like Puppet and Chef and node.js.

  • Open Source Analytics Platform Grafana Gets Update

    This week Grafana Labs announced the 6.2 release of its Grafana open source analytics platform…

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 68 Integrates BigInt Support

        In addition to Firefox 68′s WebRender slated to deliver much better performance, another headlining feature of this next Mozilla Firefox web-browser update is BigInt support.

        BigInts are a new JavaScript primitive for integers that are suffixed with an n and can handle values up to 253 in value. BigInt supports interoperability with systems using 64-bit numbers and has been supported similarly by Google’s Chrome web browser since last year.

      • Mozilla Revamps WebThings, its Open Source IoT

        Mozilla recently released its open source IoT platform, formerly called Project Things, as WebThings. Mozilla WebThings brings a series of logging, alarm, and networking features.

        Mozilla WebThings is an open source implementation of emerging Web of Things standards at the W3C. W3C Web of Things is an initiative that aims to reduce the IoT fragmentation, through the recently launched Web of Things Working Group. W3C started to develop the initial standards for the Web of Things, aiming to reduce the costs of development, lessen the risks to both investors and customers, and encourage exponential growth in the market for IoT devices and services.

  • Google

  • Databases

    • Couchbase pumps ups ‘Autonomous Operator’ function

      NoSQL database company Couchbase has moved off the sofa (the firm is no couch potato, get it?) and come forward with new features aligned to allow ‘deployers’ to build (and scale) applications.

      The new version of Couchbase Autonomous Operator is enables Kubernetes-based application deployers to bring in a database ready for flexibility and micro-services.

    • Databricks Open Sources Delta Lake to Make Data Lakes More Reliable

      Databricks recently announced open sourcing Delta Lake, their proprietary storage layer, to bring ACID transactions to Apache Spark and big data workloads. Databricks is the company behind the creators of Apache Spark, while Delta Lake is already being used in several companies like McGraw Hill, McAffee, Upwork and Booz Allen Hamilton.

      Delta Lake is addressing the heterogeneous data problem that data lakes often have. Ingesting data from multiple pipelines means that engineers need to enforce data integrity manually, throughout all the data sources. Delta Lake can bring ACID transactions to the data lake, with the strongest level of isolation applied, serializability.

    • DataStax CEO Bosworth : accelerating development on (and in) the cloud

      DataStax CEO Billy Bosworth started out as a database administrator (DBA), so one would hope that he knows how to build, compile, manage and deploy in all senses of those terms, right?

    • DataStax details road to Apache Cassandra future

      DataStax closed out the final day of its ‘Accelerate 2019’ conference by focusing on a selection of platform-level developments including its community development stream.

    • DataStax has stars in its eyes over Constellation, its latest tweak on Apache Cassandra

      DataStax, the business built around the Apache Cassandra open source database, is creating a new system-as-a-cloud service using the platform.

    • Open source is big in databases, but cloud is bigger [Ed: Adobe's Asay calls everything "cloud" (I wonder if he even understands what that means). Had Aasay ever set up a database or written a single line of code (he's a lawyer), he'd know "cloud" just means anything including a database hosted where you have no real control over it. It's outsourcing.]
  • CMS

    • How open source distribution accelerates Drupal development time by 30%

      Acquia released the latest version of Acquia Lightning, a flexible Drupal 8 distribution thousands of organisations are using to launch new Drupal sites and projects quickly.

      Acquia Lightning offers new capabilities for developers, site builders, site managers, and marketers to build sites faster and deliver richer digital experiences.

      As companies continue to elevate the role of content delivery across every channel, teams face pressure to build sites that are increasingly demanding.

    • Acquia delivers open source framework for contextual commerce
    • Acquia Delivers Open Source Framework for Contextual Commerce

      Acquia has unveiled the Acquia Commerce Framework, a set of open source Drupal modules that brands can use to deliver seamless, contextual commerce experiences. These open source modules provide flexibility to embed commerce components directly into content-driven experiences, helping remove friction from the commerce process. As a result rich, omnichannel shopping experiences can emerge from content building efforts quickly and easily, without having to assemble troves of data or build complicated navigation paths.

      Using the framework, brands can turn themselves into e-commerce powerhouses. Within Drupal, site builders can create as many virtual catalogues as they need using custom connectors, linking product data to content. Brands can tap the benefits of open source technology to create a smoother shopping experience – connecting customers with lively, useful content and clear, actionable checkout options. Authors can easily embed this product data directly into the content they are creating, which is the basis for contextual commerce.

    • GeekHive Open-Source Technical Lead Becomes a Pantheon Hero

      GeekHive proudly announces the acceptance of Technical Lead Drew Nackers into the Pantheon Heroes Advocacy Program for his valuable contributions to the Drupal and WordPress open-source development communities. The Pantheon Heroes Program honors programming professionals who voluntarily dedicate their time, expertise, and talents toward the continual advancement of the Open Web ecosystem.

  • Healthcare

    • Iran & Iraq Are Embracing GNU Health Project | Dr Axel Braun

      In this episode of Let’s Talk, Dr Axel Braun talks about the new features and updates of the GNU Health project. He also talked about the increasing adoption of the project.

    • WELL Health Acquires Ontario Open Source EMR OSCARprn for $876k

      WELL Health Technologies Corp. (“WELL”), a Vancouver, Canada-based company focused on consolidating and modernizing clinical and digital assets within the primary healthcare sector has acquired Ontario-based EMR provider OSCARprn – Treatments Solutions Ltd. OSCARprn is a trusted provider of EMR software, support and other services that work with OSCAR, an open source EMR platform developed by McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Carnegie Mellon’s Massive Open Source Initiative – Interview With the Leader Behind It

      In March, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) announced an unprecedented initiative. Over the course of the year, they plan to release dozens of digital learning tools they have developed over the past decade on an open-source license. These include the learning analytics platform LearnSphere and their pioneering adaptive learning project the Open Learning Initiative (OLI). In all, CMU estimates $100 million in grants and university funding went into these efforts. The effort was spearheaded by the Simon Initiative, which continues the legacy of Nobel Laureate, Turing Award recipient, and CMU professor Herbert Simon.

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • Korean Public Sectors Begin to Incorporate Open-Source Software

      Major departments such as Ministry of Interior and Safety (MOIS), Ministry of National Defense (MND), and Korea Post announced one after another that they would introduce open-source software (SW) this year. As major departments that had been hesitant on adopting open-source SW are starting to introduce open-source SW, more public sectors are beginning to adopt open-source SW as well. Open-source SW draws spotlight from the fact that it reduces costs, avoids dependence on certain SW, and responds to Cloud environment. Stable support and actions are becoming more important as there are more examples of introduction of open-source SW in public sectors.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • André Laperrière: Executive Director at Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition

        Andre Laperrière is executive director at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) an initiative aiming to exchange ideas and knowledge to solve the world’s looming food crisis

      • Open-source gene expression platform could yield more efficient food, biofuel crops

        An open-source RNA analysis platform has been successfully used on plant cells for the first time — a breakthrough that could herald a new era of fundamental research and bolster efforts to engineer more efficient food and biofuel crop plants.

        The technology, called Drop-seq, is a method for measuring the RNA present in individual cells, allowing scientists to see what genes are being expressed and how this relates to the specific functions of different cell types …. [T]he freely shared protocol had previously only been used in animal cells.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Feather Plus Blackberry Equals Open Source Fauxberry

        The keyboard is a superior means of input, but to date no one has really figured out how to make a keyboard for small, handheld electronics. You could use tact switches, but that’s annoying, or you could use a touch screen. The best option we’ve seen is actually a Blackberry keyboard, and [arturo182] has the best example yet. It’s a small handheld device with a screen, keyboard, and WiFi that’s ready to do anything imaginable. Think of it as an Open Source Fauxberry. In any case, we want it.

        This project is actually a breakout board of sorts for the Adafruit Feather system, and therefore has support for WiFi, cellular, or pretty much any other networking of connectivity. To this blank canvas, [arturo] added an accelerator/magnetometer sensor, a single Neopixel, and of course the beautiful Blackberry keyboard. This keyboard is attached to an ATSAMD20G, a microcontroller with a whole bunch of I/O that translates key presses into I2C for the Feather.

      • Students from Stanford’s Robotics Club Releases Open-Source Robo-Dog Online

        Robotics isn’t cheap by any means, and no one knows this better than the students of the Extreme Mobility Team of Standford University’s Robotics Club (SEMT). The materials used by university robotics clubs can cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars, making it that much harder for many high schools and less well-funded colleges and universities to invest heavily in this important field of research.

      • Watch this open-source dog robot do backflips [Ed: This is more likely to be used in military rather than in aeronautics and astronautics (luxury of the rich)]

        “We’re hoping to provide a baseline system that anyone could build,” says Patrick Slade, graduate student in aeronautics and astronautics and mentor for Extreme Mobility.

      • Meet Doggo: Stanford’s cute open-source four-legged robot

        Doggo follows similar designs to other small quadrupedal robots, but what makes it unique is its low cost and accessibility. While comparable bots can cost tens of thousands of dollars, the creators of Doggo — Stanford’s Extreme Mobility lab — estimate its total cost to be less than $3,000. What’s more, the design is completely open source, meaning anyone can print off the plans and assemble a Doggo of their very own.

      • Stanford Students Built This Adorable, Bouncy, Open-Source Robot Dog

        Nearly all of the parts used to create Doggo were bought intact through the internet, while the rest can be easily 3D-printed. The total costs involved in building Doggo—including shipping and handling—amounted to less than $3,000, Kau and his team claim. Via the website Github, the team has also released all of the relevant information you would need to create your Doggo, including software coding, supply list, and manual instructions. From there, any enterprising roboticist could tweak the design to create an even more capable Doggo.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Science

    • 30-plus years of HyperCard, the missing link to the Web [Ed: Reposted]

      Sometime around 1988, my landlady and I cut a deal. She would purchase a Macintosh computer, I would buy an external hard drive, and we would leave the system in the living room to share. She used the device most, since I did my computing on an IBM 286 and just wanted to keep up with Apple developments. But after we set up the Mac, I sat down with it one evening and noticed a program on the applications menu. “HyperCard?” I wondered. “What’s that?”

      I opened the app and read the instructions. HyperCard allowed you to create “stacks” of cards, which were visual pages on a Macintosh screen. You could insert “fields” into these cards that showed text, tables, or even images. You could install “buttons” that linked individual cards within the stack to each other and that played various sounds as the user clicked them, mostly notably a “boing” clip that to this day I can’t get out of my mind. You could also turn your own pictures into buttons.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Trump Administration Announces Fresh Attack on LGBTQ and Reproductive Rights

      The existing rule was first enacted in 2016, six years after the ACA was signed into law. The rule prohibits any health-care entity who receives federal funding from discriminating in the delivery of care or services on the basis of sex, gender, or the termination of a pregnancy. Republicans have had their sights set on the rule since it was first enacted, filing a lawsuit in federal district court arguing that the Obama Administration lacked the authority to issue it. In late 2016, Judge Reed O’Connor agreed with Republicans, ruling that Congress had only intended to ban discrimination on the basis of “biological sex.” He issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the rule. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments in that lawsuit in early July.

    • ‘Stonewall Generation’ Confronts Old Age, Sickness — And Discrimination

      Two years ago, nursing professor Kim Acquaviva asked a group of home care nurses whether they thought she was going to hell for being a lesbian. It’s OK if you do, Acquaviva said, but is the afterlife within your scope of practice?

    • Pot Industry Owes Reparations to Those Criminalized for Drug Use

      Pot, grass, marijuana, cannabis — call it what you will, its recreational use is already legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia, with many more soon to follow. Among other things, that means big bucks are at stake. Here in New York, Governor Cuomo is now pushing the Democratic-controlled legislature to move forward on legislation. The market is estimated at more than $3 billion. New York City alone could see more than $300 million in taxes on top of an additional $400 million for the state. But who will benefit from this windfall? Will legislation legalization lead to corporate control and profit for a few? Or can we seize the opportunity to create a more equitable economy and even provide reparations to those largely Black and Brown people who were previously criminalized by the “war on drugs”?

      Here to help us avoid getting lost in the weeds are three leading thinkers and doers in the fight for cannabis economic justice: Kassandra Frederique is the New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance; Raybblin Vargas is a grassroots organizer on social justice campaigns and board member of the Green Worker Cooperative; and Mary Pryor is co-founder of Cannaclusive, created to facilitate fair representation of marginalized cannabis consumers.

    • Amid Fight to Stop Wave of Anti-Choice Bills, Cheers After Federal Judge Smacks Down Miss. Abortion Ban

      Healthcare advocates breathed a sigh of relief but said the “fight is not over” after a federal judge on Friday struck down Mississippi’s six-week abortion ban.

      The southern state’s law, which would have taken effect July 1, is one in a wave of state-level anti-choice measures recently passed that critics say are meant to provoke a challenge to Roe v. Wade.

      U.S. Judge Carlton Reeves—who ruled against the state’s 15-week abortion ban just six months ago—said Tuesday during arguments that the new law “smacks of defiance to this court.”

      Reeves also pointed to the law’s lack of exception for rape, according to the Clarion Ledger.

      “So a child who is raped at 10 or 11 years old, that child does not open their mouth, doesn’t tell their parents, the rapist may be in their home, nobody discovers until it’s too late—that is a fetal heartbeat has been detected—that child must bring the fetus to term under this statute, if the fetal heartbeat can be detected,” Reeves said.

      The law, he said in issuing the preliminary injunction on Friday, “threatens immediate harm to women’s rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortions services until after six weeks.”

      Reeves added that “by banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, the law prevents a woman’s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy.”

    • The Secret Money Behind the Push to Ban Abortion

      Rank of Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court among the reasons there’s a new push to ban abortion in state legislatures across the South and elsewhere: 1

      In the fiscal year before it spearheaded Kavanaugh’s confirmation, amount the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) — a secret-money 501(c)(4) “social welfare” nonprofit that promotes conservative judges — received in anonymous donations, according to a tax return recently obtained by campaign finance watchdogs: $22 million

      Size of a single anonymous donation JCN got during the period between July 2017 and June 2018, when abortion rights-protecting Justice Anthony Kennedy resigned, opening the door to Kavanaugh, who was backed by anti-abortion groups: $17 million

      Number of other anonymous donations JCN got that year, all of them at least six-figure: 9

      JCN’s spending in 2017 to support the confirmation of President Trump’s other Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, who has also shown hostility to the Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion: $10 million

    • Abortion Access Will Only Be Won Through a Broad Grassroots Movement

      The wave of absurdly restrictive abortion laws passed in recent weeks are assaults on our reproductive freedom. We need to go beyond challenging these restrictions and fight for an expansive vision of reproductive justice that includes free abortion on demand as well as free healthcare, free childcare, paid parental leave, and freedom from state violence and racial oppression.

      Alabama recently passed the most restrictive abortion ban in the country, outlawing abortion entirely excerpt in cases of a threat to a pregnant person’s life or a lethal fetal anomaly. It joins five other states–Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri–that have passed so called “fetal heartbeat” bills in 2019, which ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy and before many people know they are pregnant.

      Just days after Alabama’s abortion law was signed by the governor, the Missouri House approved a bill that would criminalize any abortion beyond eight weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of medical emergencies. Doctors in Missouri who perform abortions after eight weeks face five to fifteen years in prison while Alabama doctors who perform abortions could face up to 99 years in prison.

    • How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

      While enjoying an occasional alcoholic beverage is unlikely to harm your health, drinking in excess can have substantial negative effects on your body and well-being.

      You may wonder at what point your drinking becomes harmful to your health, and how much is too much.

      This article explores alcohol’s effects on your health and reviews intake limits and recommendations.

      [...]

      Excessive drinking affects your health and almost every part of your body. It can not only damage vital organs but also affect your mood and behavior.

  • Security

    • Serious Security: Don’t let your SQL server attack you with ransomware [Ed: Article focuses on things like Windows and RDP. SQL Server is proprietary software that runs on a platform with NSA back doors. So if you choose it, then you choose to have no security at all, only an illusion of it. Why does the article paint Windows issues as pertaining to MySQL?]

      Tales from the honeypot: this time a MySQL-based attack. Old tricks still work, because we’re still making old mistakes – here’s what to do.

      [...]

      As regular readers will know, one of the popular vehicles for malware crooks at the moment is Windows RDP, short for Remote Desktop Protocol.

    • How Screwed is Intel without Hyper-Threading?

      As it stands Microsoft is pushing out OS-level updates to address the four MDS vulnerabilities and you’ll get those with this month’s Windows 10 1903 update. However, this doesn’t mitigate the problem entirely, for that we need motherboard BIOS updates and reportedly Intel has released the new microcode to motherboard partners. However as of writing no new BIOS revisions have been released to the public. We believe we can test a worst case scenario by disabling Hyper-Threading and for older platforms that won’t get updated this might end up being the only solution.

    • SandboxEscape drops three more Windows 10 zero-day exploits

      SandboxEscaper also indicated that she was in the market to sell flaws to “people who hate the US”, a move made in apparent response to FBI subpoenas against her Google account.

    • Huawei can’t officially use microSD cards in its phones going forward

      The SD Association is also by no means the first to cut ties: Google, ARM, Intel, Qualcomm, and Broadcom are also among the companies that have stopped working with Huawei due to the ban. The Wi-Fi Alliance (which sets Wi-Fi standards across the industry) has also “temporarily restricted” Huawei’s membership due to the US ban, and Huawei has also voluntarily left JEDEC (a semiconductor standards group best known for defining RAM specifications) over the issues with the US as well, according to a report from Nikkei Asian Review. All this could severely hamper Huawei’s ability to produce hardware at all, much less compete in the US technology market.

    • Huawei barred from SD Association: What’s that mean for its phones and microSD cards?

      As such, companies that aren’t on the SD Association’s list of members can’t officially produce and sell devices with SD card support that use the SD standards. According to SumahoInfo, the member page showed Huawei a few weeks ago, but no longer lists the firm this week.

    • Inside the Government’s Open Source Software Conundrum [Ed: The cited examples don't show problems with Free software but with sysadmins who neglect to patch it for months, despite knowing the clear risks of this negligence. Proprietary software has flaws and back doors. The latter cannot be patched (it's not supposed to). With FOSS you have only flaws and patches are available immediately (you can also pay someone to write them for you ASAP).]
    • Open-Source Software Is Everywhere. What’s Your Maintenance Strategy?

      For years, open-source software has had a rep for being risky compared with managed alternatives. But perhaps the real problem is less about how it’s made and more about how it’s maintained.

    • Phishing Campaign Delivers Multi-Feature, Open-Source Babylon RAT

      Cofense observed that the Babylon RAT samples distributed in this campaign were written in C# and came with an administration panel written in C++. This control feature allows the malware to manage multiple server configuration options around port numbers, network keys for authentication and IP versions. Together, these features enable digital attackers to customize the malware according to their needs.

    • After ZombieLoad, Intel is running out of friends. Can Project Athena save it?
    • Georgia Hosts Inaugural Cyber Dawg Summit at New Center

      Four workgroups used Georgia-based Security Onion, an open source intrusion detection, enterprise security monitoring and log management tool, along with trials of Windows in a closed-network, virtual environment. Sam Blaney, director of Cyber Security and Governance Risk and Compliance in the Office of Information Security, said open source tools provide the adaptability agencies need to respond to cyberthreats like ransomware.

    • Website for storing digital currencies hosted code with a sneaky backdoor

      WalletGenerator.net and the mystery of the backdoored random number generator.

      [...]

      Researchers from MyCrypto, which provides an open-source tool for cryptocurrency and blockchain users, compared the code hosted on Github and WalletGenerator.net and found some striking differences. Sometime between August 17 and August 25 of last year, the WalletGenerator.net code was changed to alter the way it produced the random numbers that are crucial for private keys to be secure.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Outrage After Trump, Advancing “Alarming Desire to Sow Chaos Abroad,” Uses Loophole to Send US Bombs to Saudis

      Critics of the U.S.-supported bombing of Yemen rebuked the Trump administration on Saturday after it ducked congressional approval by invoking emergency powers to approve billions of dollars in American-made arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

      “Selling more weapons to Saudi Arabia doesn’t make America safer or align with our country’s values,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a tweet. “It only benefits defense contractors and @realDonaldTrump’s alarming desire to sow chaos abroad.”

      Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced on Friday the administration’s plans to utilize the emergency provision to bypass the 30-day congressional notification period for arms sales. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later confirmed the plan.

    • John Walker Lindh Spent 17 Years in Prison — and the War Rages On

      John Walker Lindh, the so-called “American Taliban” who was captured on an Afghanistan battlefield in November of 2001, was released on Thursday from the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence.

      After his capture, Lindh was indicted on a slew of charges that included supporting terrorism and aiding al-Qaeda. In 2002, Michael Chertoff, who was at the time head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, directed prosecutors to offer Lindh a plea bargain: supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony. Lindh accepted, and began serving his sentence in January of 2003.

      “I did not go to fight against America, and I never did,” Lindh said at the time. “I have never supported terrorism in any form, and I never will…. I made a mistake by joining the Taliban. Had I realized then what I know now, I would never have joined them.”

      “John is entirely innocent of any involvement in the [September 11] terror attacks, or any allegiance to terrorism,” wrote Lindh’s father Frank in 2011. “That is not disputed by the American government. Indeed, all accusations of terrorism against John were dropped by the government in a plea bargain, which in turn was approved by the U.S. district court in which the case was brought.”

      Lindh maintained a clean record in prison and remains a devout Muslim. “I once told him I felt he had always been a Muslim,” his father wrote, “and only needed to find Islam in order to discover this in himself. He remained the loving son and brother he had always been.”

    • Combat for West Point Graduates ‘a Virtual Certainty,’ Pence Says

      Pence did not serve in the military but noted that his late father served with the Army in the Korean War.

    • Trump sends 1,500 troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions
    • Our Schools Need Healing, Not More Guns

      When a shooter killed 10 people and wounded 13 others at Santa Fe High School on May 18, 2018, everything changed for our community. Since then, we have all been desperately trying to make sense of it, pick up the pieces and avoid a recurrence. I’m incredibly concerned that many lawmakers think the solution is putting more guns in our children’s schools. For children in communities like mine that have experienced gun violence, every gun in their school is another reminder of what happened that day, and what could happen if that gun gets into the wrong hands.

      My daughter was a seventh-grader at Santa Fe Junior High School when the shooting happened. I remember the texts she sent after I dropped her off telling me that she loved me, and there was a shooter in the high school. Our morning school routine used to be just that — routine. But now, I study her clothing before I drop her off. I squeeze her hand before she gets out of the car and hold my breath as she walks into school. For the first week after the shooting, I waited in the car until every child walked into school to make sure they didn’t come running back out.

    • Anti-occupation coalition grows stronger in the face of Israeli military violence

      I watched the Israeli Defense Forces throw several stun grenades — one right after the other — deep into a crowd of my friends earlier this month. I saw people dear to me get choked by soldiers, thrown forcefully onto the ground and dragged away by their limbs. Following this, the army arrested 17 people — including many Jewish activists from around the world, two Palestinian journalists and three Palestinian residents from the area.

      The crime? Presumably, the IDF’s harsh punishment would be because our protest turned violent. However, we were steadfastly nonviolent. We were simply fixing a dirt road that would enable Palestinians in the area to access food, water and basic supplies.

      The IDF’s behavior in this situation is sadly not shocking nor inconceivable, but to see it up close with my own eyes was deeply unsettling and upsetting.

      The rehabilitation of this road was planned by a broad coalition of groups. Palestinians from the South Hebron Hills assembled a wide array of Palestinian partners. Meanwhile, the anti-occupation collective All That’s Left organized diaspora Jews based in Israel-Palestine, and the Center for Jewish Nonviolence brought 40 North American Jews to the action as part of a nine-day delegation to Israel-Palestine to learn about the occupation.

    • No Fair! Iran Puts their Country Right next to US Military Bases in Gulf

      The Trump administration made a grand and empty show Friday of announcing the dispatch to the Middle East of 1,500 US military personnel, allegedly to signal Iran not to attack US troops in the region.

      Update: Actually, it is 900 new troops and 600 having their deployment extended. I.e. nothing.

      Except as bad theater, the announcement is meaningless. US bases in the region are not in danger of any significant attack by Iran, whatever the Man with the Angry Mustache says. Could Iran deploy mines or small unmanned undersea drones, or flying drones? Sure, but they’d be crazy to do anything more and they’d be careful not to have such incidents traced back to them. The Trump War Party seems to be counting on cult-like Shiite militias in Iraq to do some small katyusha attack so they can blame Iran for it (not all Shiites are on the same team, folks).

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The U.S. Media Is in the Crosshairs of the New Assange Indictment

      I have written a lot on how hard it is to distinguish WikiLeaks from the New York Times when it comes to procuring and publishing classified information. One implication of the comparison is that any successful prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would have adverse implications for mainstream U.S. news publications efforts to solicit, receive and publish classified information. The May 23 indictment of Assange makes clear that these concerns are real. As Susan Hennessey said, “[I]t will be very difficult to craft an Espionage Act case against him that won’t adversely impact true journalists.” I don’t think this is an accident. I think the government’s indictment has the U.S. news media squarely in its sights.

      [...]

      There are other similarities. The government thought it significant that the WikiLeaks website states: “WikiLeaks accepts classified, censored, or otherwise restricted material of political, diplomatic, or ethical significance” (emphasis in indictment). This sounds very much like the public interest standard that U.S. editors use to decide when and how to publish classified information. Former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie once told me, “‘Highly classified’ doesn’t mean anything to me …. The question is, is it important for the American public to know that its government is acting in its name in this particular way?” Or as the Times’s former executive editor once said, “As journalists in a robust democracy, our responsibility is to publish information of interest to the public, and that includes publishing secrets when we find them.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Where the Forest Has No Name

      Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco, you approach the world’s largest contiguous temperate rainforest. But don’t look for any markers or directions. There aren’t any. In fact, the rainforest, which stretches 2,500 miles from Northern California all the way to Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska – almost as far as the distance as from New York to Los Angeles – doesn’t even have an official name.

      “There’s no official name in the national names database,” says Bruce Fisher, president of the Oregon Geographic Names Board.

      But what should we call it? We asked James Meacham, a professor of geology at the University of Oregon and an author of the Oregon Atlas.

      “Great question,” he said. “I don’t have definitive answer for you.”

      Only parts of this anonymous rainforest have any legal protection from logging and other development, including Redwood and Olympic National Parks in California and Washington, the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia and 5 million roadless acres in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.

      But outside these protected areas, most of the rainforest was cut down over the last century and replaced with industrial tree farms, which possess none of the diversity of a natural forest. The rainforest’s scant remaining unprotected old growth is rapidly disappearing from ongoing logging on Vancouver Island. The losses will likely accelerate if the Trump administration allows logging in roadless areas on the Tongass, which would require eliminating a policy on the books since 2000, as it plans to do.

      About two hours north of the Golden Gate Bridge you cross the Russian River, which the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center, an arm of the University of Alaska, defines as the coastal rainforest’s southern perimeter. Ecotrust, a conservation group based in Portland dedicated to protecting the rainforest, draws a similar boundary.

      Massive ancient redwoods, some soaring 350 feet above the ground, tower overhead. Redwoods are the world’s tallest trees, but as you drive further up the coast, you encounter Douglas fir, cedar, hemlock and spruce trees almost as grand.

    • Creating a Home through the Green New Deal

      Near where I live, in Pacifica California, there is a big piece of land right at the ocean that was once slated to be the site of a giant freeway interchange. That plan was stopped by local people who saw no need for increased freeway capacity.

      When I moved to town 14 years ago it was covered in dirt bike trails, almost inaccessible to walkers, and overgrown with invasive weeds. A few years after that, the land was acquired by the federal government and replanted with native plant species, and developed with trails. It is now a thriving home for countless bugs and butterflies which rely on the native plant species to survive, and it is becoming a better home for the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake, one of the most beautiful snakes in the world. From the blufftops of Morey Point you can see lines of Brown Pelicans, those iconic birds which were taken to the brink of extinction by DDT, and brought back by regulation that was inspired by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.

      The park is also a place of refuge for a racially and economically diverse group of people who come from far and wide to walk, get a break from the city, exercise, and enjoy spectacular views of the ocean. The park’s open spaces are free, and open, and belong to everyone. The park uses federal tax money to hire a very diverse set of employees, and to help paid interns on their paths to meaningful careers.

      One of my favorite things in life is watching a devastated landscape be turned back into something thriving, beautiful, and socially sustainable. It helps heal me from the sense of hopelessness I often feel in the face of the climate crisis. I take heart in Arundhati Roy’s statement that “another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.“ And I hear that other world breathing in the ideas put forward in Green New Deal.

      And yet, political work aimed at achieving the Green New Deal takes place in a broken political system which is embedded in a devastated public sphere, where people are, for a variety of reasons, deeply cynical and mistrusting, where a sense of fear and hatred permeates much political discourse. On the Republican side is the one third of the US population who are living in fear of being replaced by a racialized others, and who have come unmoored from traditional discourses based on fact. On the Democratic side is a liberal consensus which is wedded to growth, progress, and a rationalist worldview which sees nature as something to be used for production. Achieving a Green New Deal requires a realignment of politics toward a set of goals that will offer all of us a sense of home and belonging, which will develop a sense of trust in shared institutions, and which will position people in the US as members of a global community, fighting for well-lived lives for everyone in all parts of the Earth that is our home.

    • It’s Too Late for a Green New Deal; Can Other Radical Plans Work?

      We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who have articulated the Green New Deal (GND), especially Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise Movement. We needed something that focused attention on how serious climate change has become and the need for government action. The GND has shattered the neoliberal insistence upon incremental, market-oriented climate mitigation.

      But, considering the emerging climate science and our diminished carbon budget after at least three decades of denial, and with carbon concentration in the atmosphere higher than it has been in 3 million years, it is too late to speed up the slow transition from fossil fuels to renewables with government facilitated renewable building; too late to build renewables under a Keynesian plan that employs all the workers in transition; too late for a transition that makes money and lets us keep living our present lifestyles.

      The GND challenged neoliberalism with a “Big Government Plan” for climate mitigation, but as presently envisioned, these policy actions remain completely within a market transition where renewables will only replace fossil fuels by out-competing coal, oil and natural gas.

      The GND could greatly speed up this slow transition, but it’s still a plan to let fossil fuels compete for far too long; it still doesn’t regulate production and distribution; it still envisions supplying 100 percent of today’s energy, plus projected growth. The GND is ultimately predicated upon a growing GDP in a business-as-usual scenario where there is enough created wealth to redistribute to marginalized populations.

    • Magnitude-8 Earthquake Strikes Amazon Jungle in Peru

      A large earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 8.0 struck the Amazon jungle in north-central Peru early Sunday, the U.S. Geological survey reported.

      The quake, at a moderate depth of 110 kilometers (68 miles) struck at 2:41 a.m., 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of the village of Lagunas and 158 kilometers (98 miles) east-northeast of the larger town of Yurimaguas.

      There were no immediate reports of casualties, although some buildings collapsed and power cuts were reported in a number of cities. Earthquakes that are close to the surface generally cause more destruction.

      In a tweet, President Martín Vizcarra called for calm and said that authorities were checking the affected areas.

      The mayor of Lagunas, Arri Pezo, told local radio station RPP that the quake was felt very strongly there, but it was not possible to move around the town because of the darkness.

      In Yurimaguas, a number of old houses collapsed, and the electricity was cut, according to the National Emergency Operations Center, which gave the magnitude of the quake as 7.2.

    • Op-Ed: Climate Change: ‘We’ve Created a Civilization Hell Bent on Destroying Itself – I’m Terrified,’ Writes Earth Scientist

      The coffee tasted bad. Acrid and with a sweet, sickly smell. The sort of coffee that results from overfilling the filter machine and then leaving the brew to stew on the hot plate for several hours. The sort of coffee I would drink continually during the day to keep whatever gears left in my head turning.

      Odours are powerfully connected to memories. And so it’s the smell of that bad coffee which has become entwined with the memory of my sudden realization that we are facing utter ruin.

      It was the spring of 2011, and I had managed to corner a very senior member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) during a coffee break at a workshop. The IPCC was established in 1988 as a response to increasing concern that the observed changes in the Earth’s climate are being largely caused by humans.

    • ‘They’ll give me a detention but it’ll be worth it’ – a climate scientist interviews his climate striking daughter

      Extinction rebellion, the climate strikes, Greta Thunberg and even the BBC and Netflix have changed the conversation on climate change. Even more than I expected – there’s now a groundswell of public concern that human impact on the planet is unacceptable and we’re smart enough to correct it.

      I’m a climate scientist – and have been for 25 years – but I rarely take my work home. You don’t want to be the dad that goes home telling the family the world is screwed. So I was taken aback and pleasantly surprised when my 13-year old daughter Abbie said she wanted to go on the climate strike and asked if I would go with her.

      Brilliant, I thought – and then there was that moment of doubt. Is this because of me? Have I influenced her in some way and she is doing this to please her dad? I decided to have a chat with her to find out why she is going to strike.

  • Finance

    • Palantir’s Hotly Anticipated IPO Set to Slide to 2020

      By some measures, things are going very well for the company right now. Its software integrates and analyzes data for a client list that includes dozens of global government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, along with an increasing number of private sector giants like Merck KGaA and Airbus SE.

    • Palantir was expected to IPO in 2019, but that dream is now reportedly on hold until next year

      The startup, which sells secretive data-analytics tools to clients like the US government, grew its revenue by 40% last year up to about $1 billion and has about $30 million in losses, according to the report, which cited anonymous sources.

    • Trump Opens State Visit, Needles Japan Over Trade Issues

      President Donald Trump opened a state visit to Japan on Saturday by needling the country over its trade imbalance with the United States. “Maybe that’s why you like me so much,” he joshed.

      Trump also promoted the U.S. under his leadership, saying “there’s never been a better time” to invest or do business in America, and he urged corporate leaders to come.

      The president’s first event after arriving in Tokyo was a reception with several dozen Japanese and American business leaders at the U.S. ambassador’s residence. He said the two countries “are hard at work” negotiating a trade agreement.

      “I would say that Japan has had a substantial edge for many, many years, but that’s OK,” Trump said, joking that “maybe that’s why you like me so much.”

    • Fight for $15 Protests McDonald’s Over Workplace Violence

      This week, thousands of McDonald’s workers went on strike in 13 U.S. cities to demand higher wages, a union, and an end to rampant sexual harassment and other forms of violence in the workplace. The cities included Durham, North Carolina, and Florida’s Miami, Orlando, and Tampa.

      The mass protests were held just days after the Fight For $15, American Civil Liberties Union, and Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund announced they were bringing more than two dozen sexual harassment charges and lawsuits against the company on behalf of workers nationwide who claim that McDonald’s failed to protect them from sexual harassment and violence in the workplace.

      Showing the growing power of their movement, the workers were joined on the picket lines by several 2020 presidential candidates including Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, and Jay Inslee. Sen. Bernie Sanders joined the action in Dallas by video conference and urged his supporters to participate in person.

      “We work! We sweat! Put $15 on our check,” chanted the hundreds of workers and allies including Castro who marched to the McDonald’s in downtown Durham.

      McDonald’s worker Lois Jones was among those who spoke at the Durham protest. Jones talked about experiencing sexual harassment at the company, and how when she complained about it she experienced retaliation with cuts to her work hours and paycheck.

      “Sexual harassment should not be tolerated,” Jones said. “So what McDonald’s needs to do is sit down and talk to us and let us let know what is really going on at their stores, and then maybe, sexual harassment will stop.”

    • Cities Are Convincing Voters to Pay Higher Taxes for Public Preschool

      Seattle — One frigid morning, on a playground outside a red-painted modular classroom, a preschooler with wispy blonde hair folded her arms across her chest and looked at the ground, the slightest pout forming on her face. “I’m staying out here today,” Ali, 4, said to her father. Hoping to distract her, he kicked a ball. Ali laughed and ran after it. A few minutes later, he had coaxed her inside where it was warm, and she approached a classmate reading a book on the rug.

      “Ali has made leaps here,” said the girl’s father, Ryan Price, 41, a sporting goods sales manager. “She used to hang on to my leg when I tried to leave and then spent most of her time in the ‘upset room.’ Now she’s interacting with the other kids and doing her routines.”

      The school where Ali is thriving is Creative Kids Learning Center in Northwest Seattle — and it’s cheaper for her parents than most preschools in the neighborhood. In fact, Price said they pay just $1,790 in tuition for the school year. The average cost of center-based care is $14,208 in Washington. That’s because Creative Kids is one of 20 preschools that has joined a city program that not only offers reduced fees, but also mandates class size, length of school day, and curriculum in exchange for higher pay, training, and tuition assistance for teachers. In the absence of adequate federal and state funding, Seattle is building a top-ranked preschool program by subsidizing tuition on its own.

      Who’s footing the bill? Taxpayers. And a broad majority are doing so willingly. Five years ago, Seattle residents voted for a ballot measure to raise property taxes, generating $58 million to fund an overhaul of existing preschools, some of which are run by nonprofits or out of homes, and create new ones. The effort has been a success in the classroom as well as at the ballot. By the 2017-18 school year, students in Seattle Preschool Program (SPP) schools had made significant gains on vocabulary, literacy, and math tests given at the start and end of the school year, compared with a nationally representative sample of kids who took the same tests. This past November, 68.5 percent of Seattle voters agreed to continue the tax hike in order to fund even more preschool seats.

    • Democratic Chesco politicians call for increase in minimum wage

      Three state representatives pushed for a $15 an hour minimum wage, at a Thursday rally.

    • What’s Keeping Open Finance From Competing With Institutional Products?

      Conversely, narratives around open finance – decentralized financial products built on the blockchain – have also gained attention. However, concepts predicated on the maxims of decentralization and democratizing financial opportunities have struggled to attract adoption and scale so far.

    • Trump’s Support of American Workers Is a Blatant Lie

      What’s the matter with Donald and The Trumpeteers? Why won’t they stand up for the American workers and business owners who make their products right here in the United States?

      Oh, yeah, I know they talk a good game. Trump himself even issued a bold, star-spangled executive order promoting the purchase of “American-made goods” produced by American labor.

      We consumers respond positively to that pitch, generally preferring to buy everything from mattresses to hockey pucks that are manufactured here at home.

      For example, take Patriot Puck. What’s not to like about this corporation, which literally wraps its hockey pucks in American flag packaging and proudly advertises that they are “the only American-made hockey puck”?

      Well, sadly, one thing not to like is that the puck-seller’s pitch was a lie. Its product actually turned out to be made in China. Such a deceptive sales scam is not just unethical — it’s a federal crime.

      Saddest of all, though, is that when honest competitors and defrauded consumers protested the firm’s blatant deceit, Trump’s Federal Trade Commission appointees proved to be Made-in-America wimps.

    • We Have the Means to Fund Reparations. Where Is the Political Will?

      Fact: The $147,000 median wealth of a white household is 41 times the $3,600 median wealth of a Black family.

      Many Americans may believe that in the wake of the country’s first Black president, we had moved past race-based inequality. Many others may see the divide as the result of individual behavior choices, like getting an education or saving carefully.

      As co-authors of the report “Ten Solutions to Bridge the Racial Wealth Divide,” we disagree.

      Our research points to a multigenerational legacy of white supremacy in asset building and wealth concentration — a history that includes the African slave trade, Jim Crow and systematic discrimination in wealth-building opportunities right on up to the present.

      That trend is getting worse, not better.

      Between 1983 and 2016, the median net worth for Black Americans actually went down by 50 percent. Paired with a growing Latinx population that also lags far behind whites in household wealth, the U.S.’s overall median wealth trended downward over those decades, even as median white wealth increased.

      These trends go hand-in-hand with the rigging of the overall economy. Over the last 30 years, the wealthiest 20 percent of households have captured almost 97.4 percent of all increases in wealth, leaving only scraps for the rest.

    • Law and Disorder: Why Corporatism Will Dominate US Policy for Decades to Come

      Remember when Republicans ran on a law and order platform? Well, nowadays, we’ve got a President – in fact an entire Party — at war with the idea of the rule of law in general, and any constraints on corporations in particular. Democrats console themselves with the idea that this can all be righted in the next election. Vote Trump out, retain the majority in the House, and win the Senate. Problem solved.

      Except it isn’t. McConnell and Trump are doing everything they can to hand over the Judiciary — lock, stock and barrel — to a collection of extreme partisans who have no regard for the rule of law and regardless of who wins the election, that could leave us with a country which is firmly in the hands of the oligarchy. Since 1801, when Marbury v Madison established the right of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution, the Judiciary has had the power to strike down laws, statutes, and some government actions such as executive orders. As long as this power remains in the hands of extremist ideologues, democracy and the rule of law are threatened, and corporations and monied interests will continue to get a free pass.

      With issues such as gerrymandering, limits on money in campaigns, and regulatory authorities covering everything from the climate crisis to Wall Street excesses, democracy itself is in jeopardy. It was Roberts’ and crew who took Citizen’s United from a simple question about a nonprofits’ legal rights in an arcane part of the McCain Feingold Campaign Finance Law and converted it into a case that called the entire law into question. Having performed that bit of evil legal alchemy, they then declared the whole thing illegal.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • EU citizens in the UK say they’ve been denied the right to vote

      “But then they could have run a social media campaign, or tweet a link to the document, they could also email all electoral officers and say please contact EU citizens or please consider extending the deadline,” she said.

    • The Terrifying Implications of India’s Elections for People and the Planet

      A cloud of suspicion still hangs over Modi himself for his role in instigating, or at least tacitly endorsing, massacres of Muslims as chief minister in his home state of Gujarat. Modi failed to use the state law enforcement machinery to stop the 2002 pogrom, and systematically covered up the inaction.

      Not unexpectedly, the Modi and the BJP’s ascent to national power in 2014 has had terrifying consequences for Muslims nationwide since then. Brutal mob killings of Muslims and Dalits (Hindus who are low in the caste hierarchy) in the name of “cow protection” have become common in India.

      Hindus consider cows sacred, and most observant Hindus don’t eat beef — which, as a personal religious or dietary choice, is fine. But some states in the nominally secular country have legislated Hindu religious beliefs by banning the slaughter of cows and the sale and consumption of beef. Worse still, mobs of vigilante “cow protectors” have murdered Muslims suspected of killing cows or consuming beef. Dalits belonging to castes who have historically performed the work of disposing of dead animals have been murdered as well.

      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.

    • May Ends in June

      History will not be kind to Theresa May. By the standards she forthrightly set herself at the outset of her premiership, she has been a dismal failure. She proposed that, contrary to most impartial expectation, she would be a socially liberal prime minister who would strive to relieve the economic pressure on the poorest members of British society (the briefly famous “just about managing”), but the only small concessions towards the relief of poverty that have been wrung from her government have done nothing to reduce the incidence of homelessness, food banks and wage rates that undershoot the demands made by private landlords, services starved of funds and price rises.

      [...]

      The social media commentator Aidan Daley summed her up admirably: “Mayvis: a political nonentity of such crushing mediocrity and insignificance that even when standing in direct sunlight she casts no shadow. A third-rate office manager elevated light years beyond her intellectual capacity, professional capabilities and pay grade. A national embarrassment and global laughing stock”.

      This unsparing but unarguable buttonholing raises a historical problem for the Conservative Party that shows no sign of quick resolution. When May was elected Tory leader and hence prime minister, the field of choice was notable for its lightweight uniformity. Given the length of her cabinet experience, May clearly outshone her rivals, if not in charisma (a quality conspicuously lacking from the field). But the quality of leadership of the party has been modest at best for years. Among Tory leaders since the war, only Margaret Thatcher has managed to catch the climate of her time and impose her personality on a discernible period, however much one may deplore that climate and that period.

    • Israelis protest moves to grant Netanyahu immunity, limit Supreme Court

      Thousands of Israelis protested on Saturday against legislative steps that could grant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution and limit the power of the country’s Supreme Court.

      [...]

      Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing, calling the allegations a political witch-hunt. The right-wing leader has said that with a renewed public mandate to govern he has no plans to resign, even if charged.

      Although the prime minister is under no legal obligation to step down if charged, Netanyahu loyalists in his Likud party have pledged to seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution for him while he is in office.

      Expecting legal challenges, they also have been advocating legislation that would annul any Supreme Court ruling rescinding immunity.

      Since the election, Netanyahu has not said whether he would seek immunity.

    • The DNC’s Dumb-Down Opinion Survey

      In its recent Official 2020 Issues Survey, DNC Chair Tom Perez solicited input on the ‘top’ issue for the upcoming June debate as the Dems will use that “feedback to shape our electoral strategy.” In other words, the following identified issues will conceivably become questions at the debate and presumably will become the basis for the Dems 2020 platform which its Presidential candidate and down-ticket slate will campaign on.

    • Yle analysis: Fake news accounts active on Twitter ahead of EU Parliament elections

      The project found that among hundreds of thousands of tweets, the most popular sharers deliberately disseminated distorted information. The Yle analysis corroborated suspicions that a growing number of EU citizens are being exposed to distorted or fake news.

    • Facebook says it will not remove doctored Pelosi video

      The video, which has reached millions of viewers, has been altered to make it seem as though Pelosi is sick or drunk, and it has accrued thousands of comments from viewers who seemingly do not realize it has been manipulated. Multiple right-wing groups and online personalities have been pushing the video across a broad swath of online platforms.

      The video was first reported by The Washington Post on Friday.

    • Distorted Nancy Pelosi videos show platforms aren’t ready to fight dirty campaign tricks

      Altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) circulated across social media networks this week in what appeared to be a right-wing attempt to discredit and embarrass her. One of the clips, which was shared by President Donald Trump on Twitter, was edited in a way that muddled and repeated her words, making her appear confused or even ill.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Here are all the major US tech companies blocked behind China’s ‘Great Firewall’

      Meanwhile, US tech companies have been largely banned from doing business in China for years. Communist-ruled China has long maintained strict regulations on which websites and social media platforms are accessible in the country — and which are blocked behind China’s so-called “Great Firewall” of [Internet] censorship.

    • Why Is Audible Still Featuring Far-Right Author Jack Donovan?

      Massive media companies are being pressured by organizers and consumers alike on how they are going to deal with the home white nationalists have made on their social media and e-commerce platforms. The access that companies like Facebook, Twitter and Amazon have given to small-time content producers has provided a major boon to niche publishing and commentary, mainly because they can share the same platform as actors and politicians. The “alt-right” could not have skyrocketed in popularity without this support, and they have exploited this fact, flooding YouTube with videos, Twitter with troll accounts and Amazon with books.

      But in the process of shuttering racialism, these companies are focusing on easy targets like neo-Nazi skinheads, while neglecting more influential voices. Audible, the popular audio book company owned by Amazon, tends to be known for a high degree of gatekeeping. Because audio books take a certain amount of capital to actually produce, and because Audible is picky about what it will include, it is a lot rarer to see insurgent, nationalist books populating the platform.

      In the midst of Amazon’s recent push to remove white nationalist content from its platforms, the company has already removed “alt-right” books from publishers like Arktos Media. But there has been one glaring exception: Audible is still hosting several books by “male tribalist” far-right author Jack Donovan, a figure so central to the rise of the alt-right that it seems like more than a shocking oversight.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Apple has patented an in-bed health tracking system

      The system integrates sensors that lie beneath a consumer’s mattress or pillow and collect health data, which is sent to a processor for analysis and used by the consumer or their healthcare providers. The approach is likely still a far-off concept, but if it materializes, it could have huge implications for Apple’s health play.

    • CrossFit storms off Facebook and Instagram, citing long list of grievances

      CrossFit, the branded workout regimen, deleted its Facebook and Instagram pages earlier this week and explained the reasoning through an impassioned press release. The announcement lists various reasons for the indefinite suspension of its accounts, including accusations that Facebook’s News Feeds are “censored and crafted to reflect the political leanings of Facebook’s utopian socialists.”

    • CrossFit, Inc. Suspends Use of Facebook and Associated Properties

      CrossFit, Inc., as a voluntary user of and contributor to this marketplace, can and must remove itself from this particular manifestation of the public square when it becomes clear that such responsibilities are betrayed or reneged upon to the detriment of our community. Common decency demands that we do so, as do our convictions regarding fitness, health, and nutrition, which sit at the heart of CrossFit’s identity and prescription. To this end, all activity on CrossFit, Inc.’s Facebook and Instagram accounts was suspended as of May 22, 2019, as CrossFit investigates the circumstances pertaining to Facebook’s deletion of the Banting7DayMealPlan and other well-known public complaints about the social-media company that may adversely impact the security and privacy of our global CrossFit community.

      These publicly sourced complaints include but are not limited to the following: [...]

    • Palantir Should Not Sponsor Privacy Conference at Berkeley

      Update: The Privacy Law Scholars Conference and Berkeley Law School responded to our letter and offered to let Oakland Privacy-affiliated activists attend the conference on a no-fee basis and to faciliate a meeting with Palantir Technology. Oakland Privacy respectfully declined. We reiterate that corporations complicit in violations of the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, United Nations charters and basic principles of racial justice and human rights should not be acceptable sponsors of academic privacy law conferences hosted at the University of California at Berkeley.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The World: What is Really Happening

      If you want to understand what is really happening in the world today, a mid-ranking official named Ian Henderson is vastly more important to you than Theresa May. You will not, however, find anything about Henderson in the vast majority of corporate and state media outlets.

      You may recall that, one month after the Skripal incident, there was allegedly a “chemical weapons attack” in the jihadist enclave of Douma, which led to air strikes against the Syrian government in support of the jihadist forces by US, British and French bombers and missiles. At the time, I argued that the Douma jihadist enclave was on the brink of falling (as indeed it proved) and there was no military advantage – and a massive international downside – for the Syrian Army in using chemical weapons. Such evidence for the attack that existed came from the jihadist allied and NATO funded White Helmets and related sources; and the veteran and extremely respected journalist Robert Fisk, first westerner to arrive on the scene, reported that no chemical attack had taken place.

      The “Douma chemical weapon attack” was linked to the “Skripal chemical weapon attack” by the western media as evidence of Russian evil. Robert Fisk was subjected to massive media abuse and I was demonised by countless mainstream media journalists on social media, of which this is just one example of a great many.

    • Trump’s ‘Big, Beautiful’ Wall Crumbles in Court

      For the first time, a federal judge made clear to President Trump he couldn’t get his wall by illegally diverting taxpayer money.
      From the beginning of his campaign for president, Donald Trump claimed that he was going to build a wall along the southern border. He said “nobody builds walls better than me.” He said the wall would be “big” and “beautiful.” He said someone else would pay for it. And he said it would be built so fast that “your head would spin.”

      Last night, for the first time, a federal judge made clear to President Trump he couldn’t get his wall by illegally diverting taxpayer money.

      The judge’s ruling comes in an ACLU lawsuit on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC). Together, the Sierra Club and SBCC represent the communities who live in, protect, and treasure the lands and communities along our southern border. For years, these communities have engaged in the democratic process and successfully persuaded their congressional representatives to deny President Trump funding to build his wall.

      Our lawsuit centers on the question of whether the president abused his power to divert funds for a border wall Congress denied him. Unfortunately for President Trump, the Constitution is clear on the matter: only Congress has the power to decide how taxpayer funds are spent. And Congress, like border communities, said no to the President’s wall.

    • Child migrants around the world are being denied their human rights

      Abed – not his real name – had been in Paris after a treacherous overland journey from Afghanistan. He is one of many youngsters whose families fear the situation in their own country enough to send their children alone to a safer land. With his father already dead and his brother disappeared, Abed’s uncle and mother sold land to pay nearly US$20,000 to an agent to escort him to the UK.

      The agent agreed to take the boy the whole way, feed him well and make comfortable travel arrangements. Instead Abed was passed from agent to agent, travelled in often unbearable conditions, witnessed intimidation and beatings by authorities, and was sometimes lucky to eat at all. When refused help by the Paris police, the consequences were not disastrous. He at least hadn’t been detained, and ended up reaching the UK hiding in a container ship, then applying for asylum and being granted temporary leave to remain.

      But all too often, child migrants end up in the hands of traffickers who force them into sexual exploitation or slavery, often accompanied with violence or even torture. Many more end up in state detention, often used by authorities as an alternative to care, with long-term effects on their mental and physical health. In the US, for instance, six child migrants from Guatemala and El Salvador have died in custody since December. The most recent, an unnamed 16-year-old boy, was “found unresponsive” during a routine check.

    • Judge Blocks Some Border Wall Funding; Trump Plans Appeal

      A federal judge has blocked President Donald Trump from building key sections of his border wall with money secured under his declaration of a national emergency, delivering what may prove a temporary setback on one of his highest priorities.

      U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr.’s order, issued Friday, prevents work from beginning on two of the highest-priority, Pentagon-funded wall projects — one spanning 46 miles (74 kilometers) in New Mexico and another covering 5 miles (8 kilometers) in Yuma, Arizona.

      On Saturday, Trump pledged to file an expedited appeal of the ruling.

      Trump, who is visiting Japan, tweeted: “Another activist Obama appointed judge has just ruled against us on a section of the Southern Wall that is already under construction. This is a ruling against Border Security and in favor of crime, drugs and human trafficking. We are asking for an expedited appeal!”

      While Gilliam’s order applied only to those first-in-line projects, the judge made clear that he felt the challengers were likely to prevail at trial on their argument that the president was wrongly ignoring Congress’ wishes by diverting Defense Department money.

    • In the Face of Right-Wing Strongmen and an Economy Rife With Insecurity, We Must Reject the Politics of Despair

      Maude Barlow, Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, delivered the following remarks Thursday at the Seventh Annual Tommy Douglas Institute at George Brown College in Toronto. Her keynote speech explores the interconnections between poverty and populism and its implications for the environment.

      It is a great pleasure and honour to be here with you today and to speak in the name of one of my all-time heroes. In reading your on-line description of the moment we are in, I became a bit overwhelmed at our collective task and, frankly, my ability to address it.

      You described the “unprecedented display of wealth inequality” both globally and here in Canada; the historic numbers of people fleeing the ravages of war, extreme poverty and human rights violations; the rise of “strong men” bully-boy leaders (my term, not yours); the post-truth reality of fake news; the poisonous use of the internet by hate-filled trolls; and the rise of right-wing populism and its evil older sibling, white supremacy.

      All this, you said, “against the backdrop of a planet whose ability to sustain life is daily sacrificed to an unforgiving economic ideology that promotes the cancerous mission of growth for growth’s sake, while sacrificing the health and dignity of everything around it. Our industriousness,” you note, “has ushered in the anthropocene and the sixth age of mass extinction.” Disturbingly and beautifully said.

      [...]

      Capital was going global and Canadian companies could see how much more money they could make in countries without our minimum wage and social programs.

      Deeply influenced by the rise of Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain and Ronald Reagan in the United States, consecutive Canadian federal governments granted tax breaks to corporations and cut unemployment insurance to their workers.

      The first thing Brian Mulroney did when he came to power in 1984 was to fly to New York to announce to a blue chip group of American business leaders that Canada was “open for business” and promised to tear down the rules on foreign investment and remove the barriers to our energy, timber and mineral resources. Canada became a leader in promoting economic globalization and promised that its core tenets of deregulation, privatization and free trade would bring prosperity for all.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • 47 Democrats cave on net neutrality after GOP calls bill “dead on arrival”

      While Republican lawmakers often support bans on blocking and throttling, they’ve also proposed laws that would allow paid prioritization, letting Internet service providers charge online services for faster access to Internet users. GOP-proposed laws would also prevent states from issuing net neutrality rules stricter than those enforced by the federal government.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Claims of Uniloc Patents Covering a Software Distribution System Found Patent Eligible by Federal Circuit

      Today the Federal Circuit issued an opinion addressing patent eligibility of the claimed subject matter of four Uniloc patents.[1] The Federal Circuit found two of the four representative claims to be patent eligible under the Alice two-step patent eligibility test. The Court distinguished the claims patent eligibility based in-part on whether the claims merely described functional subject matter or whether the claims recited particular improvements over then-existing computer and network functionality.

      The first claims addressed by the Court were found to be directed to centralized software distribution. The district court found the claims to be ineligible because the specification described use of the claimed subject matter in the context of an existing software distribution system and considered the claims to be directed to conventional computer functionality. The Federal Circuit found this to be an incorrect analysis of the claims because, while the claims could be used as part of a conventional system, the claims recited an improved software distribution system using file packets in a specific way to accomplish centralized software distribution in an unconventional matter. Thus, the Court found the claimed subject matter reciting a particular improvement to computer functionality not to be directed to an abstract idea under Alice step one. The Court cited to Finjan and McRO to support the conclusion that claims reciting a particular improvement to prior art renders the claims patent eligible.

    • Cartel Control of Attorney Licensure and the Public Interest

      The purpose of licensure is to assure competent practitioners, particularly where irreparable harm to clients may occur in its absence. At the same time, there may be an advantage to greater supply, because that can lead to lower prices. In the case of attorneys, additional supply can improve attorney access not just to the poor, but to the middle class now lacking it. Regrettably, the legal profession –which openly operates in cartel fashion as its own public regulator — has violated thesebasic precepts in extemis, with California serving as a preeminent example.

      First, state bars — in combination with the American Bar Association national cartel — require 4 years of largely irrelevant higher education for law school entry, most of which have little or nothing to do with law and include subjects ranging from “Sex and the human body” to “yoga.” Meanwhile, the rest of the world requires 1 or 2 years of lead-in). Second, the entire 7 year total travail — driven by high tuition increases lacking competitive check — now costs from $190,000 to $380,000 in tuition and room &board per student. Third, attorneys will practice in one of 24 dispararate areas of law, from admiralty to probate with different applicable law and often entirely disparate courts. 1 But attorney training focuses on traditional subjects only partially relevant to the majority of them, with scant attention to legislation and administrative proceedings. Even less attention is paid to the actual area of law a student will choose and have to know in order to practice competently. Upon graduation, students take an increasingly expensive preparatory course — to pass a supply constricting bar examination that only tangentially relates to underlying competence. In the largest state of California that examination then flunks about 2/3 of its takers.

    • The Intersection Of Octane Fitness And Alice

      A recent Delaware decision highlights the need for a realistic pre-suit assessment of patent eligibility. Stephen McBride and Michael West explain.

      A recent ruling from Delaware underscores the need for plaintiffs to exercise caution when alleging infringement claims that may be ineligible under Alice. In Finnavations LLC v Payoneer Inc, No 1-18-cv-00444 (D Del 2018), the court granted defendant Payoneer’s 12(b)(6) motion to invalidate Finnavation’s patent under 35 USC 101.1 What makes Finnavations interesting is that the court subsequently awarded Payoneer attorneys’ fees under 35 USC § 285 based solely on the substantive weakness of Finnavation’s Alice defence without any evidence that Finnavations had otherwise acted unreasonably.2

      Under § 285, there are two requirements for awarding attorney fees: 1. that the case is “exceptional” and 2. that the party seeking fees is a “prevailing party.”3 Before Octane Fitness, the Federal Circuit had held that a case was exceptional only if there had been materially inappropriate conduct by a party or the case was both objectively baseless and brought in subjective bad faith.4 In Octane Fitness, the Supreme Court of the US abandoned this standard, holding that an “exceptional” case is “simply one that stands out from others with respect to the substantive strength of a party’s litigating position (considering both the governing law and the facts of the case) or the unreasonable manner in which the case was litigated.”5 Thus, under Octane Fitness, an objectively weak claim can be exceptional without any subjective bad faith.

    • Samsung and Huawei end years-long patent battle

      Samsung and Huawei have agreed to settle a long-running legal battle that saw the two companies dueling over smartphone patents in more than 40 lawsuits, according to Nikkei, which says the settlement was reported in local Chinese media. Terms of the settlement haven’t been announced, but the companies appear to have reached a general agreement that’s supposed to move them closer to a cross-licensing deal for their patents. They’ll also be dropping all lawsuits against one another.

      The settlement comes as the smartphone industry is facing a number of shifts. Phones will be moving over to 5G in the next year and on, and some smartphone manufacturers have seen declining shipments, as they struggle to sell phones to markets already saturated with them. Huawei has managed to avoid that trend — its shipments were up 50 percent from last year in the first quarter of 2019, according to IDC — but Samsung has not. Coupled with being on the losing side of this patent battle so far, there may have been good reason for the company to settle.

    • Trademarks

      • Trademark Transactions in Common Law Countries: Liberalisation and Its Limits

        Historically, common law countries took a restrictive approach to transactions involving trademarks. This restrictive approach was said to flow from the reasons for granting protection for trademarks in the first place. If a trademark communicates information to consumers as to the origin and quality of a particular trader’s goods or services, it was thought that any dealing with a trademark, such as an assignment of the mark or the grant of a licence to a third party to use the mark, would disrupt the source and quality guarantee functions of the mark and potentially cause confusion among consumers. In other words, the very reasons that a trademark receives legal protection were thought to justify constraining an owner’s ability to deal with the mark. Initially, these sorts of concerns were highly influential, and the law either proscribed or imposed strict limitations on the exploitation of trademarks. However, over the course of the last century there was a gradual liberalisation of these rules. Consequently, in most common law countries we have now reached a position where the law recognises registered trademarks to be personal property, which can be exploited with fewer restrictions than in the past. This liberalisation has to a large extent reflected changes in business practices, as brands have come to be recognised as valuable commodities in their own right and as trademark licensing, merchandising and franchising have become large and lucrative industries. Notwithstanding this, the tension between the idea of the mark as “property” and the mark as a badge of origin remains. This chapter, published in an edited collection on international and comparative trade mark law, explores how this tension is reflected in common law countries in the retention of restrictions on trademark transactions in cases where marks have been or might be used in such a way as to deceive consumers. Working out when a badge of origin can be transferred to an unrelated third party whilst not falling into the category of a “deceptive transaction” remains more difficult than is often appreciated, as our analysis of key doctrines in Australian, UK and US trademark law reveals.

    • Copyrights

      • “Obituary piracy” and what it could mean for archival institutions

        Earlier this month, a court in Canada delivered a judgment against the operators of a website – Afterlife Network Inc. – which publishes and profits from publishing obituaries and photographs. The Court found that the Defendant’s act of posting the obituaries and photographs authored by the Applicant and other persons, amounted to copyright infringement.

        The Court ordered the defendant to desist from further acts of infringement and awarded statutory ($10million) and aggravated damages ($10million) to the Applicant.

      • An American’s perspective on Pelham v Hütter and the role of fundamental rights in sampling

        The AG in Pelham v Hütter described the distinction between copyrights and the related rights in phonograms on the basis of what the rights are intended to protect; copyright protects the “author’s own intellectual creation” whereas a phonogram is the fixation of sounds and the related right protects the “financial investment” of the producer. Thus, the related right for phonograms is a right to the financial gain from the phonogram, while copyright protects any intellectual creation that may underlie the recording. I would argue, therefore, that related right could be well protected through a compulsory licensing mechanism, providing a royalty schedule that ensures producers equitable renumeration for any downstream creative use of their recording.

        The AG contended that the freedom of the arts cannot guarantee “free use of whatever is wanted for creative purposes.” Compulsory licensing would still ensure that unlicensed use is infringement; in fact, simplifying the process of clearing samples may prevent artists from using infringing samples in ways that are more difficult to detect. In 1996, DJ Shadow released the critically acclaimed “Endtroducing…..” which was almost entirely composed of samples; at the time, he discussed seeking obscure source material as a way to avoid lawsuits when sampling. Rather than preventing the behavior, prohibitions on sampling may drive samplers to infringe such obscure works, shifting the damages to those producers who presumably receive lower return on their investment anyway due to the obscurity of the recording. A compulsory license system would provide these producers with renumeration and credit for their investment, while removing the incentive for samplers to conceal the source of their material.

      • Poland files complaint with EU’s top court over copyright rule change

        Poland has submitted a complaint to the European Union’s top court against copyright rules adopted by the bloc in April to protect Europe’s creative industries, which Warsaw says may result in preventive censorship.

        Google will have to pay publishers for news snippets and Facebook filter out protected content under copyright rules aimed at ensuring fair compensation for the EU’s $1 trillion creative industries.

        Poland has said the overhaul was a step backwards, arguing that the filter requirement could lay the foundation for censorship.

      • Movie Company Uses DMCA Subpoena Shortcut to Identify Pirates

        When copyright holders want to identify pirates in the US, they have to file a lawsuit. However, in Hawaii, the people behind the film “Hunter Killer” have used a shortcut by requesting a DMCA subpoena. This is unusual, as many legal experts thought this was no longer an option.

      • Reddit KOs Piracy-Focused MMA Community, Ex-UFC Fighter Gets The Blame

        Piracy of UFC and other live MMA events got a little bit harder this week after Reddit banned its popular /r/mmastreams sub-Reddit. Following numerous copyright infringement complaints, the 165,000 member community must now find a new home. After a controversial Twitter outburst, some believe that an ex-UFC fighter should shoulder some of the blame.

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