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06.02.19

Links 2/6/2019: FreeBSD 11.3 Beta 2 and More Political News

Posted in News Roundup at 2:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Dell releases more high-end Ubuntu Linux laptops

      Canonical and Ubuntu Linux founder Mark Shuttleworth recently said, “We have seen companies signing up for Linux desktop support, because they want to have fleets of Ubuntu desktop for their artificial intelligence engineers.”

      Dell has noticed, too.

      Dell Senior Architect Barton George announced: “If mobile power is what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place. And if AI is your need, the Precision 7540 and 7740 might just be what you’ve been looking for.”

      Linux PCs may never catch up with Windows on consumer laptops, but they are starting to make a bigger impression on developer laptops. Even Microsoft is now building Linux into Windows with Windows Subsystem for Linux. Why? Because today’s developers are working on projects such as Kubernetes, AI, cloud-native computing, and machine learning, which live and die on Linux.

    • Dell’s Most Powerful Linux Laptops For DevOps Are Here

      The world literally runs on Linux, the kernel. But Linux is also the preferred platform for developers and sysadmins who use it build and manage the services that we all use.

      These IT professionals needs powerful – and at the same time elegant – hardware to run the most widely used technology in the world.

      Barton George, a Senior Architect at Dell saw this demand and started a project within the company called Project Sputnik. The goal of the project was to bring the best of the breed Dell systems to Linux users.

    • System76 Ubuntu Linux-powered ‘Gazelle’ laptop reborn! Gets 9th Gen Intel Core i7 and NVIDIA GTX 16-series graphics

      System76 is a computer maker and seller that has long been selling laptops, desktops, and servers running a Linux-based operating system. For years, it only offered Ubuntu, but more recently, it began also offering its own Ubuntu-based operating system called “Pop!_OS.” This distribution has proven to be quite popular in the Linux community, as it builds upon the greatness of Ubuntu while also making it better.

      As great as Pop!_OS is, today, System76 makes a big announcement regarding hardware rather than software. To the delight of many consumers, the company is refreshing its popular “Gazelle” laptop. To be honest, calling it a refresh is a bit of an understatement. Actually, Gazelle has been reborn as an entirely new powerful beast. It comes with a 9th Gen Intel Core i7 by default, and you can choose between an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 or 1660 Ti for graphics. There are two screen sizes available — 15.3-inch and 17.3-inch. Regardless of the display you opt for, the resolution will be 1080p.

    • System76 Is Making Progress On Open-Source Firmware For Their Laptops

      For the past number of months Linux PC maker System76 has been beginning to work on Coreboot support for their products and over the course of May they addressed more obstacles in order to begin having this open-source firmware implementation work on some of their laptops.

      When it comes to their firmware hacking efforts during May 2019, here is what they wrote in their monthly status report: “The camera toggle hotkey is now functional. The last remaining hardware issues with running open firmware on our laptops lie with Thunderbolt. On Whiskey Lake chipsets, the Thunderbolt controller is often not in a functional state after suspending/resuming the system. On Kaby Lake chipsets, the Thunderbolt controller is never visible…A new BIOS setup menu is also being designed for our open firmware so that the look and feel is consistent with the beautiful aesthetic you can expect from a System76 product. This will be implemented once the new firmware is ready for release.”

    • Fuchsia Friday: Android, Linux apps, and Fuchsia’s close relationship w/ Chrome OS

      Following along with the development of Google’s Fuchsia OS, it has become clear that it will be capable of running both Linux and Android apps. Chrome OS can also do both of these things, and that’s no coincidence, as the Fuchsia team has opted to use some of Chrome OS’s developments for their own benefit.

    • Christopher Davis: What is a Platform?

      Often when looking for apps on Linux, one might search for something “cross-platform”. What does that mean? Typically it refers to running on more than one operating system, e.g. Windows, macOS, and GNU/Linux. But, what are developers really targeting when they target GNU/Linux, since there’s such diverse ecosystem of environments with their own behaviors? Is there really a “Linux Desktop” platform at all?

      [...]

      To get a healthy app development community for GNOME, we need to be able to have the same guarantees. Unfortunately, we don’t have that. Because GNOME is not shipped by upstream, downstreams take the base of GNOME we target and remove or change core elements. This can be the system stylesheet or something even more functional, like Tracker (our file indexer). By doing this, the versions of GNOME that reach users break the functionality or UX in our apps. Nobody can target GNOME if every instance of it can be massively different from another. Just as no one can truly target the “Linux Desktop” due to the differences in each environment.

      How do we solve this, then? To start, the community idea of the “Linux Desktop” as a platform needs to be moved past. Once it’s understood that each desktop is target that developers aim for, it will be easier for users to find what apps work best for their environment. That said, we need to have apps for them to find. Improving the development experience for various platforms will help developers in making well-integrated apps. Making sure they can safely make assumptions is fundamental, and I hope that we get there.

  • Internals

    • Linux distributions without systemd

      I’ll be honest and say that I completely missed the systemd controversy back when it happened, and while I’ve tried reading up on the criticism of systemd, I clearly lack the technical acumen to say anything meaningful about it either way. But hey, for those of you out there who don’t like systemd – this one’s for you.

    • Clear Linux Moving Ahead With Blocking dmesg Access For Non-Root Users

      Most Linux distributions allow unfettered access to dmesg for seeing the kernel log outputs, but seeing as kernel addresses can be dumped to this output and could be exploited by bad actors, Clear Linux is joining the select few Linux distributions so far blocking non-root users from seeing this output mostly used for debugging purposes.

      Back in April I wrote about their plans for blocking dmesg access via the Linux kernel’s CONFIG_SECURITY_DMESG_RESTRICT Kconfig build time switch. After evaluating the plan, they indeed are going ahead with it where only root/sudo users will be able to see the dmesg output. This also impacts container users as well as there even if you are the root user in a container you will now no longer be able to see the kernel logs of the host.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • LHS Episode #286: Hamvention 2019 Deep Dive

      Welcome to Episode #286 of Linux in the Ham Shack. The hosts are back from Dayton Hamvention 2019 and have stories to share about their experiences. We touch on everything from booth visits from other podcasters to hedonism on the road to multiple cart crashes–and everything else under the sun. We want to thank everyone who listens to and supports our program for getting us to Hamvention for another successful conference in Ohio. We hope to do it all again in 2020.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.1.6

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.1.6 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 5.0.20
    • Linux 4.19.47
    • Linux 4.14.123
    • Linux 4.9.180
    • The Linux Kernel Is Moving Closer To Saying Goodbye To A Lot Of ISDN Network Code

      The Linux kernel will likely soon see a lot of old ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) subsystem/driver code deprecated and ultimately removed considering there aren’t even many (or any in some places) ISDN public data networks.

      Around the world most operators are abandoning ISDN in favor of VoIP over DSL lines or the like for combining voice and data on the same lines. With ISDN not having been popular for years aside from in some niche areas, the associated Linux kernel code has largely fallen into disrepair. On top of that, the Linux kernel has provided three different ISDN stacks but with two of them being at the point they should just be removed.

    • Benchmarks

      • The ClearFog ARM ITX Workstation Performance Is Looking Very Good

        If there’s one Arm hardware launch I am looking forward to this year of known products in the pipeline, it would certainly be SolidRun’s ClearFog mini-ITX workstation product.

        The SolidRun ClearFog was announced back in April and is the 16-core ITX-based workstation board that is trying to get in at the $500~750 USD price-point. This board is expected to have multiple 10GbE SFP+ connections, Gigabit Ethernet, mPCIe, SATA ports, and socketed DDR4 memory support. The 16 Arm cores are Cortex-A72s.

      • Resource Usage Comparison Between Ubuntu native packages(APT) and Appimage
      • Intel Bites Back At AMD For Misleading Rome EPYC Zen 2 Benchmarks Vs Xeon 8280

        AMD made some waves at Computex where it delivered its first keynote for the event. To kick things off, the company talked about its second-generation EPYC servers processors, codenamed Rome, and promptly demonstrated a pair of 64-core EPYC chips thrashing two 28-core Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 (Cascade Lake) CPUs in a benchmark that showed AMD’s hardware performing 2X better. That demonstration did not sit well with Intel, which has fired back with a more thorough comparison.

        How things actually shake out between AMD and Intel, both on consumer desktops and in the server space, will be made more clear once reviewers have had a chance to properly test and benchmark AMD’s new stuff. Make no mistake, though, both companies see the importance of holding the performance crown. The server industry in particular is huge—Intel pulls around half of its revenue from datacenter sales.

  • Applications

    • 5 Microsoft Powerpoint alternatives for Linux users

      Microsoft PowerPoint is essential in an office or school setting if you’re required to make presentations. But what if you use Linux and don’t have access to PowerPoint? What do you use? Well, let’s find out with the 5 best Microsoft PowerPoint alternatives for Linux users!

    • The Snap Store Desktop App is Available for Linux User

      Canonical has released the snap store desktop app, which allow users to manage the snap apps easily through GUI.

      Snap Store app is a fork of GNOME Software, which is dedicated to snap apps management.

      Don’t think that won’t support other apps. It’s not limited to only manage snap applications, users can install other regular applications like repo apps, AppImage, Flatpak apps, etc via snap store.

    • cloud-init 19.1 Released

      Version 19.1 is already available in Ubuntu Eoan and stable release updateds (SRU) to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic) and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial) are also complete.

    • WireGuard Snapshot `0.0.20190531` Available

      Hello,

      A new snapshot, `0.0.20190531`, has been tagged in the git repository.

      Please note that this snapshot is, like the rest of the project at this point in time, experimental, and does not constitute a real release that would be considered secure and bug-free. WireGuard is generally thought to be fairly stable, and most likely will not crash your computer (though it may). However, as this is a pre-release snapshot, it comes with no guarantees, and its security is not yet to be depended on; it is not applicable for CVEs.

      With all that said, if you’d like to test this snapshot out, there are a few relevant changes.

    • WireGuard Sees New Snapshot With Windows, Linux & BSD Updates

      WireGuard lead developer Jason Donenfeld has released a new snapshot of this secure network tunnel software to close out May.

      WireGuard 0.0.20190531 is now available for testing across all supported platforms. This latest snapshot brings improvements to the major platforms, including Windows and FreeBSD.

    • Publishing Online without WordPress: Instant, Libre, and Gratis

      This article presents several website publishing libre software, like Writeas and Hackmdio, with their own gratis services that you can instantly try as alternative to WordPress.com the service. They are instant (very easy to use), the software are libre (source code available in free licenses), and their official services are gratis (no cost to publish everything). As online writer, you may use their services to publish writings just like normal website but easier to access (no registration needed) and more private (you can write anonymously). As learner, you can try to install the software on your Ubuntu system, to tinker with the code. You can try them right now and find which one is the best for you. And further if you wish you can install them on Ubuntu.

    • podlators 4.12

      This release only fixes a test suite issue. I’ve been putting it off for ages because I was hoping to pick up some previous discussions and make some more substantive changes, but that hasn’t happened yet and I keep getting mail from failing tests. Worse, a few other people have investigated the problem helpfully, and I don’t want to waste more of anyone’s time!

      Also, I noticed I’d not posted anything but book reviews for this month, so wanted to do at least one software release, even if trivial.

    • GStreamer 1.14.5 stable bug fix release

      The GStreamer team is pleased to announce another bug fix release in the old stable 1.14 release series of your favourite cross-platform multimedia framework.

      This release only contains bugfixes and it should be safe to update from 1.14.x.

      The 1.14 series has now been superseded by the new stable 1.16 series, and we recommend you upgrade at your earliest convenience.

    • [Paywall] Ten useful LibreOffice extensions

      LibreOffice has hundreds of options and features, but these handy extensions make it even more convenient.

      LibreOffice (LO) is a familiar sight on most Linux desktops. The free office suite is capable of handling spreadsheets, presentations, word processing documents, drawings, and more. A powerful collection of capabilities is already built into the default configuration, but if you’re looking for more power – and more convenience – LO also supports an ecosystem of extensions. The LO project maintains an extensions page [1] with extensions available for easy download. The most popular extensions appear in the main window, and dozens of other extensions are available by browsing or searching.

    • [Paywall] Share input devices between computers with Barrier

      Barrier is a Synergy fork that lets you work with one keyboard and mouse pair on multiple Linux, Mac OS X, or Windows computers.

    • [Paywall] Comparing image viewers for photographers

      For today’s photographers, image viewer programs are an essential piece of equipment, because they can help you quickly load and sort your photo and video files. We compare some of the top image viewers.

      Imagine you’ve just returned from vacation and are sitting down to look at pictures from your trip. For anyone who enjoys photography, this can be a daunting task as you find yourself sifting through hundreds, or even thousands, of photos. However, this time-consuming process can go much faster if you use an image viewer rather than RAW developers or database-driven photo collectors, such as Darktable or Lightroom. What you want is an image viewer that can quickly load even high-resolution RAW images from full-frame DSLRs and that can also handle larger image collections.

      In the open source universe centered around GNU/Linux, there are numerous candidates for this task, from simple image viewers without further functions up to genuine all-rounders with numerous image processing functions. In this overview, we focus on image viewers in the narrower sense, excluding RAW developers with image databases for managing photos such as Darktable or RawTherapee.

    • [Paywall] Linux Voice
    • [Paywall] Zack’s Kernel News
    • [Paywall] FOSSPicks
    • [Paywall] On the DVD
    • [Paywall] Updates on technologies, trends, and tools
    • Authenticator, a 2FA Token Generator for Linux, Gets Updated

      If you’re big into two-factor authentication — and in this merciless rag-tag world of the internet, you dang well should be — keeping an app like Authenticator within easy reach is a smart move.

      As the name should already tell you, Authenticator is a desktop 2FA code generator for Linux desktops, like Ubuntu.

      Using it you can generate 2FA tokens for over 500 well-known providers, including Github, Gitlab, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Dropbox, and Twitch.

      This week a new version of Authenticator arrived. It adds a wealth of welcome improvements. Read on to find out more!

    • Proprietary

      • Top 30 Best Help Desk Software for Businesses That Leverage Linux

        Since a plethora of powerful service desk software exists in the Linux ecosystem, corporations often find it hard to select the most suitable option for their business. Different types of help desk software are required in different scenarios, and Linux offers plenty for each of your corporate need. Our experts have compiled this guide outlining a massive selection of 30 of the best tools of the trade to make your selection as flexible as possible.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Steam’s Linux Marketshare Ticks Up Ever So Slightly For May

        With the start of a new month, Valve has published their software/hardware survey numbers for the month prior. For May 2019, the Steam Linux usage did tick-up slightly on a percentage basis.

        For last month, the percentage of Steam users running Linux (according to the controversial Steam Survey) rose to 0.84%, or a 0.02% increase over April. The number is largely in line with expectations of around 0.8% that it’s been in that area recently and an increase over last year.

      • Zombie Panic! Source continuing work on their big update, Linux testers requested

        The v3.1 Beta Update 3 was released today which includes: new melee hit rays, a new work in progress score system, a new “warm-up” round, new unarmed survivor’s punch and push features, adjustments to firearms and zombie arms’ damage values, adjustments to survivor’s fatigue and inventory sorting cool-down, tweaks to the flashlight’s FOV and bright distance, 30 new Steam achievements and plenty of bug fixes.

      • Unity Editor will now officially support Linux

        Yesterday Martin Best, Senior Technical Product Manager at Unity, briefly announced that the Unity Editor will now officially support Linux. Currently the Editor is available only on ‘preview’ for Ubuntu and CentOS, but Best has stated that it will be fully supported by Unity 2019.3. Another important note is to make sure that before opening projects via the Linux Editor, the 3rd-party tools also support it.

        Unity has been offering an unofficial, experimental Unity Editor for Linux since 2015. Unity had released the 2019.1 version in April this year, in which it was mentioned that the Unity editor for Linux has moved into preview mode from the experimental status. Now the status has been made official.

        Best mentions in the blog post, “growing number of developers using the experimental version, combined with the increasing demand of Unity users in the Film and Automotive, Transportation, and Manufacturing (ATM) industries means that we now plan to officially support the Unity Editor for Linux.”

      • Verde Station, a short first-person sci-fi experience has gone free

        Taking place on board a space station, Verde Station is a short and lonely experience and it no longer has a price attached to it. Contributor Eike wrote about it for us previously, making it sound like quite an interesting walking and exploration sim.

      • What are you clicking on this weekend? Let us know your current favourites

        It’s the end of another busy week for Linux gaming, for many people the weekend is filled full of games.

        For me, I shall be likely diving into some more Total War: THREE KINGDOMS. It’s not perfect but it’s by far the nicest Total War game I’ve tried in a very long time. Feral Interactive have done some incredible work on the optimisations for the Linux version that I remain very impressed.

      • Tenacious, a fast-paced rogue-lite dungeon crawler that’s available on Linux

        For those who love a bit of fast-paced dungeon crawling action, Tenacious from Firebelley was released on Steam earlier this year. As it turns out, they added Linux support back in March too!

      • Linux and Client prediction

        Some time ago I started to port all the servers to Linux. This process is more or less finished now, it compiles fine with Clang (didn’t try GCC) and it even runs without any problems. For that I also had to port DirectXMath, which is used by the game server, to Linux.

        Even the client compiles and runs on Linux, but it doesn’t work well, it always loses the connection to the game server.

      • Unity Editor is Now Officially Available for Linux

        If you are a designer, developer or an artist, you might have been using the experimental Unity Editor that was made available for Linux. However, the experimental version wasn’t going to cut it forever – developers need a full stable experience to work.

        So, they recently announced that you can access the full-fledged Unity Editor on Linux.

      • Project Hospital, the more serious strategy sim just had a massive update

        Version 1.1 was released yesterday, which had a pretty huge focus on sorting issues as a result of feedback from players and it also adds in Steam Workshop support for sharing mods and scenarios. They’ve also made sure the first impression you get has improved, with a better menu, loading screen tips, lots of tweaks to the in-game UI, numerous improvements to the gameplay systems and a healthy looking list of bug fixes too.

        Also, they added a special launch option on Steam for those of you on NVIDIA GPUs to workaround a bug in the Unity game engine which causes the bottom part of the screen to have some distortions:

      • Incredibly silly action-RPG ‘Super Cane Magic ZERO’ has left Early Access with a big update

        Developed by Studio Evil, with character designs from Simone “Sio” Albrigi everything about it is completely ridiculous. The characters you can pick, the NPCs you meet, enemies and the items you find are all crazy. Super Cane Magic ZERO is so far away from being serious it’s pretty refreshing and quite amusing.

      • Card-based RPG ‘SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech’ is out with Linux support

        Mixing the gameplay up again, SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is a card-based RPG from Image & Form Games and Thunderful. Released today with same-day Linux support, it sure does look great!

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • April/May in KDE Itinerary

        A lot has happened again around KDE Itinerary since the last two month summary. A particular focus area at the moment is achieving “Akademy readiness”, that is being able to properly support trips to KDE Akademy in Milan early September, understanding the tickets of the Italian national railway is a first step into that direction.

      • Day 1

        Summer of Code has started, and I’ll try to document here my questions, problems and achievements.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • More little testing

        Back in March, I wrote about µTest, a Behavior-Driven Development testing API for C libraries, and that I was planning to use it to replace the GLib testing API in Graphene.

        As I was busy with other things in GTK, it took me a while to get back to µTest—especially because I needed some time to set up a development environment on Windows in order to port µTest there. I managed to find some time over various weekends and evenings, and ended up fixing a couple of small issues here and there, to the point that I could run µTest’s own test suite on my Windows 10 box, and then get the CI build job I have on Appveyor to succeed as well.

      • GNOME Shell & Mutter Can Now Be Extensively Profiled For Missed Frames, Other Metrics

        While we’ve seen a lot of performance optimizations land in GNOME over the past year or two, we’re likely to see more optimizations come now that Sysprof integration for GNOME Shell and Mutter has been merged that will allow profiling closely for missed frames and other performance metrics.

        Earlier this week Sysprof lead developer Christian Hergert talked about the latest profiling abilities for this tool and since then integration work led in part by Georges Stavracas has been merged.

      • Georges Basile Stavracas Neto: Profiling GNOME Shell

        As of today, Mutter and GNOME Shell support Sysprof-based profiling.

        Christian wrote a fantastic piece exposing what happened to Sysprof during this cycle already, and how does it look like now, so I’ll skip that.

        Instead, let me focus on what I contributed the most: integrating Mutter/GNOME Shell to Sysprof.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • GParted Live Linux Distribution Updated with the Latest GParted 1.0 Release

        After more than 14 years, the popular and open-source GParted partition editor reached 1.0 milestone this week, a release that finally ports the software to the latest GTK3 (Gtkmm 3) toolkit and the GNOME 3 yelp-tools documentation infrastructure.

        In addition, Gparted 1.0 comes with support for reading disk usage, grow and check on F2FS filesystems, support for enabling online resizing of extended partitions, better refreshing of NTFS filesystems, and lots of other bugs fixes and improvements.

      • GParted Hits 1.0 After 15 Years of Development

        GParted partition editor for GNU/Linux hits a milestone version 1.0 after nearly 15 years of development.

        GParted is a GTK based free and open source disk partitioning utility available for all GNU/Linux distribution. The graphical interface for Parted CLI application, GParted is very popular disk utility and is a go-to tool when making disk partitioning, resizing, naming a volume, erasing a volume and many more.

        This major release migrated the code base from gtkmm2 to gtkmm3 for porting to GTK3.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Leap 42.3 Linux OS to Reach End of Life on June 30th, 2019

        Launched on July 26, 2017, OpenSuSE Leap 42.3 was based on the SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) 12 Service Pack (SP) 3 operating system and it was powered by the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel series.

        openSUSE Leap 42.3 was initially supposed to be supported until January 2019, but the openSUSE Project decided to give users six more months to upgrade to the latest openSUSE Leap 15 operating system series.

        Now that openSUSE Leap 15.1 is here as the latest and greatest openSUSE Leap release, it’s time for openSUSE Leap 42.3 users to upgrade their installations, and they only have one month to do that, until June 30th, 2019.

      • openSUSE Leap 42.3 Reaches End of Life on June 30th 2019

        openSUSE Leap 42.3 Reaches End of Life on June 30th, 2019.

        openSUSE Leap 42.3 is based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 Service Pack (SP) 3, which was released on July 27, 2017.

        Usually openSUSE Leap minor versions will receive updates for about 18 months, but the minor version of Leap 42.3 is being extended.

        Since, SUSE has agreed to release an updates for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 Service Pack (SP) 3.

        So, the last minor version of the openSUSE Leap 42.3 was scheduled to be maintained until June 2019.

      • Best Windows 10 apps this week [Ed: They are calling SUSE "Windows app"]
      • An Early Adopters Story about SUSE Cloud Application Platform

        At the recent SUSECON conference in Nashville, Nicolas Christener and Lucas Bickel from our partner, Adfinis SyGroup AG, talked about their experience deploying and running SUSE Cloud Application Platform at the Swiss Federal Office of Information Technology, Systems and Telecommunication.

        They talk about the journey from containers to Cloud Foundry and what Cloud Foundry offers for developers on top of Kubernetes before explaining the requirements their customer had. Next, they describe the various use cases for the platform and how those map to the various types of users. The real meat of it in the lessons learned in using the platform, and the challenges in integrating it into an existing environment. Then they wrap it up with a discussion of how the platform can help enable devops.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 28 Officially Reached End of Life (EOL), Users are Advised to Upgrade Fedora 30

        Fedora 28 Linux operating system has officially reached End of Life (EOL) effective on May 28, 2019.

        Users whoever still using Fedora 28, they are advised to upgrade the latest release of Fedora 30, which was released on April 30th.

        It’s a good time to upgrade your system as this EOL version repositories won’t be get any updates from the Fedora community.

        I mean to say, no updates will be pushed to any of the Fedora 28 repositories such as security, bugfix, or enhancement updates.

        Also, they won’t add anymore new packages to Fedora 28 repositories.

      • Fedora Community Blog: FPgM report: 2019-22

        Here’s your report of what has happened in Fedora Program Management this week. Elections voting begins 6 June.

        I have weekly office hours in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else.

    • Debian Family

      • Jonathan Carter: Free Software Activities (2019-05)

        A relatively quiet free software month, I’m feeling the Debian Buster final freeze fatigue for sure. Also dealt with a bunch of personal and work stuff that kept me busy otherwise, and also, haven’t been very good at logging activities so this will be short one…

      • Molly de Blanc: Free software activities (May, 2019)

        I attended the two-day Open Source Initiative board of directors Spring face-to-face meeting where I joined the Staffing and Fundraising committees and was elected President of the board of directors. More details on this upcoming in my next OSI blog post.

      • Sylvain Beucler: Debian LTS – May 2019

        Here is my transparent report for my work on the Debian Long Term Support (LTS) project, which extends the security support for past Debian releases, as a paid contributor.

      • Paul Wise: FLOSS Activities May 2019
      • Derivatives

        • Deepin Linux: Security Threat or Safe to Use?

          Deepin Linux continues to show promise as a productive computing platform. This latest edition has fewer of the annoyances that plagued earlier releases.

          The menus and internal dialogue boxes still have some Chinese characters. The potential user base is limited by a short list of available languages.

          The ISO file on the standard download page is not a live session. It provides only a loadable interface to handle installation.

          To get the live session ISO file, use the download page link in the previous paragraph. Then scroll to the bottom of the download options to the “Live Session Download” label and click the “Live Official Release” button.

        • antiX MX Linux 18.3 Released with Latest Debian GNU/Linux 9.9 “Stretch” Updates

          MX Linux 18.3 is now available and ships with Linux kernel 4.19.37-2 and it’s fully synced with the software repositories of the latest Debian GNU/Linux 9.9 “Stretch” operating system release, which means that it is fully patched against the recently disclosed Intel MDS (Microarchitectural Data Sampling) security vulnerabilities found in Intel microprocessors.

          This release also includes an updated installer (mx-installer) that now lets users input system configuration selections during installation while the installer copies the system files to speed up the installation process. The UEFI boot installation was improved as well in MX Linux 18.3, which should now be compatible with more UEFI systems.

        • Sparky news 2019/05

          Sparky 4.10 based on Debian stable Stretch has been released

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Disco Dingo – Order and chaos

              Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Disco Dingo is a somewhat bi-polar release. It’s got a lot of goodies and many improvements, notably Samba support and smartphone support, plus Boutique looks and behaves better than ever. The performance and battery life can be better. But the big issue is customization. There are way too many layouts, which are all good and nice for the end user, for the dev team to manage effectively. With six or seven permutations, lots of little things can go wrong – and they did.

              I had to fight the dock, the menu, the global menu, the positioning of the panels, the fonts, all of it really. Shame, because Ubuntu MATE brings a lot of innovation, but it doesn’t gel. Then, hardware glitches. Video tearing, the Wireless disconnect. Not something I’ve seen with the rest of the bunch. All in all, this is a reasonable interim release, but it feels chaotic. Worth testing, and you’ll probably find it in line with Cosmic. Something like 6.5-7/10. Once the problems get resolved, it could really be a cushty one. Just look at how MX Linux progressed over the last years. So there. Testing, testing, one two dingo.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • nCine Is An Interesting Open-Source 2D Game Engine

    While there is Godot and other 2D game engines out there, nCine has been quietly developed since 2011 as an interesting 2D cross-platform game engine.

    This MIT-licensed game engine supports Linux / Windows / Android / macOS and while it has been in development since 2011 only exited a closed beta in 2016. A Phoronix reader tipped us off to the project today.

  • Web Browsers

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD’s Kernel Optimizations Are Paying Off – 3 BSDs & 5 Linux OS Benchmarks On Threadripper

      DragonFlyBSD lead developer Matthew Dillon has been working on a big VM rework in the name of performance and other kernel improvements recently. Here is a look at how those DragonFlyBSD 5.5-DEVELOPMENT improvements are paying off compared to DragonFlyBSD 5.4 as well as FreeBSD 12 and five Linux distribution releases. With Dillon using an AMD Ryzen Threadripper system, we used that too for this round of BSD vs. Linux performance benchmarks.

      The work by Dillon on the VM overhaul and other changes (including more HAMMER2 file-system work) will ultimately culminate with the DragonFlyBSD 5.6 release (well, unless he opts for DragonFlyBSD 6.0 or so). These are benchmarks of the latest DragonFlyBSD 5.5-DEVELOPMENT daily ISO as of this week benchmarked across DragonFlyBSD 5.4.3 stable, FreeBSD 12.0, Ubuntu 19.04, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, Debian 9.9, Debian Buster, and CentOS 7 1810 as a wide variety of reference points both from newer and older Linux distributions. (As for no Clear Linux reference point for a speedy reference point, it currently has a regression with AMD + Samsung NVMe SSD support on some hardware, including this box, prohibiting the drive from coming up due to a presumed power management issue that is still being resolved.)

    • FreeBSD 11.3-BETA2 Now Available
      The second BETA build of the 11.3-RELEASE release cycle is now
      available.
      
      Installation images are available for:
      
      o 11.3-BETA2 amd64 GENERIC
      o 11.3-BETA2 i386 GENERIC
      o 11.3-BETA2 powerpc GENERIC
      o 11.3-BETA2 powerpc64 GENERIC64
      o 11.3-BETA2 sparc64 GENERIC
      o 11.3-BETA2 armv6 BANANAPI
      o 11.3-BETA2 armv6 BEAGLEBONE
      o 11.3-BETA2 armv6 CUBIEBOARD
      o 11.3-BETA2 armv6 CUBIEBOARD2
      o 11.3-BETA2 armv6 CUBOX-HUMMINGBOARD
      o 11.3-BETA2 armv6 RPI-B
      o 11.3-BETA2 armv6 RPI2
      o 11.3-BETA2 armv6 PANDABOARD
      o 11.3-BETA2 armv6 WANDBOARD
      o 11.3-BETA2 aarch64 GENERIC
      
      Note regarding arm SD card images: For convenience for those without
      console access to the system, a freebsd user with a password of
      freebsd is available by default for ssh(1) access.  Additionally,
      the root user password is set to root.  It is strongly recommended
      to change the password for both users after gaining access to the
      system.
      
      Installer images and memory stick images are available here:
      
      https://download.freebsd.org/ftp/releases/ISO-IMAGES/11.3/
      
      The image checksums follow at the end of this e-mail.
      
      If you notice problems you can report them through the Bugzilla PR
      system or on the -stable mailing list.
      
      If you would like to use SVN to do a source based update of an existing
      system, use the "stable/11" branch.
      
      A summary of changes since 11.3-BETA1 includes:
      
      o The fsck_readdir() and dircheck() functions have been rewritten for
        clarity and correctness.
      
      o contrib/zlib has been moved to sys/contrib/zlib so that it can be used
        in the kernel.
      
      o The bhyve SMBIOS table has been made topology-aware.
      
      o Accessor function for vm->maxcpus have been added.
      
      o The bectl(8) jail with numeric boot environment (BE) names has been
        fixed.
      
      o OpenSSL has been updated to version 1.0.2s.
      
      o An update to prevent calling hw_mds_recalculate() from
        initializecpu().
      
      o An upstream LLVM fix has been merged to fix an assertion when building
        the graphics/mesa-dri port for PowerPC64.
      
      o A fix to the NDIS driver printing "(null)" when uninitialized when
        using the '-h' (help) flag.
      
      o An uart emulation bug has been fixed.
      
      o Increase the VirtIO segment count to support modern Windows guests.
      
      o A fix to prevent exposing the uptime via the TCP timestamps.
      
      o Expose the MD_CLEAR capability used by Intel MDS mitigations to
        guests.
      
      A list of changes since 11.2-RELEASE is available in the stable/11
      release notes:
      
      https://www.freebsd.org/relnotes/11-STABLE/relnotes/article.html
      
      Please note, the release notes page is not yet complete, and will be
      updated on an ongoing basis as the 11.3-RELEASE cycle progresses.
      
      === Virtual Machine Disk Images ===
      
      VM disk images are available for the amd64 and i386 architectures.
      Disk images may be downloaded from the following URL (or any of the
      FreeBSD FTP mirrors):
      
      https://download.freebsd.org/ftp/releases/VM-IMAGES/11.3-BETA2/
      
      The partition layout is:
      
          ~ 16 kB - freebsd-boot GPT partition type (bootfs GPT label)
          ~ 1 GB  - freebsd-swap GPT partition type (swapfs GPT label)
          ~ 20 GB - freebsd-ufs GPT partition type (rootfs GPT label)
      
      The disk images are available in QCOW2, VHD, VMDK, and raw disk image
      formats.  The image download size is approximately 135 MB and 165 MB
      respectively (amd64/i386), decompressing to a 21 GB sparse image.
      
      Note regarding arm64/aarch64 virtual machine images: a modified QEMU EFI
      loader file is needed for qemu-system-aarch64 to be able to boot the
      virtual machine images.  See this page for more information:
      
      https://wiki.freebsd.org/arm64/QEMU
      
      To boot the VM image, run:
      
          % qemu-system-aarch64 -m 4096M -cpu cortex-a57 -M virt  \
      	-bios QEMU_EFI.fd -serial telnet::4444,server -nographic \
      	-drive if=none,file=VMDISK,id=hd0 \
      	-device virtio-blk-device,drive=hd0 \
      	-device virtio-net-device,netdev=net0 \
      	-netdev user,id=net0
      
      Be sure to replace "VMDISK" with the path to the virtual machine image.
      
      === Amazon EC2 AMI Images ===
      
      FreeBSD/amd64 EC2 AMIs are available in the following regions:
      
        eu-north-1 region: ami-010af11cb640a6dee
        ap-south-1 region: ami-02b1930180c7e1f84
        eu-west-3 region: ami-02c0fbb70c27140c9
        eu-west-2 region: ami-0a153ee6417cc762a
        eu-west-1 region: ami-0d408e28706df7df4
        ap-northeast-2 region: ami-06fb52e8cf793dd53
        ap-northeast-1 region: ami-0bf79180cdb0e6923
        sa-east-1 region: ami-0f4aff5453cb72b01
        ca-central-1 region: ami-056a0b9ce2bd839f5
        ap-southeast-1 region: ami-0f73e82a020a5137f
        ap-southeast-2 region: ami-06468078ec3e31029
        eu-central-1 region: ami-0a6e0eb4c2a169f66
        us-east-1 region: ami-0bc8f1f1ed85baa0f
        us-east-2 region: ami-041a4cee6e5445ee3
        us-west-1 region: ami-00c3ebed64c1338e2
        us-west-2 region: ami-01288513b23077913
      
      === Vagrant Images ===
      
      FreeBSD/amd64 images are available on the Hashicorp Atlas site, and can
      be installed by running:
      
          % vagrant init freebsd/FreeBSD-11.3-BETA2
          % vagrant up
      
      === Upgrading ===
      
      The freebsd-update(8) utility supports binary upgrades of amd64 and i386
      systems running earlier FreeBSD releases.  Systems running earlier
      FreeBSD releases can upgrade as follows:
      
      	# freebsd-update upgrade -r 11.3-BETA2
      
      During this process, freebsd-update(8) may ask the user to help by
      merging some configuration files or by confirming that the automatically
      performed merging was done correctly.
      
      	# freebsd-update install
      
      The system must be rebooted with the newly installed kernel before
      continuing.
      
      	# shutdown -r now
      
      After rebooting, freebsd-update needs to be run again to install the new
      userland components:
      
      	# freebsd-update install
      
      It is recommended to rebuild and install all applications if possible,
      especially if upgrading from an earlier FreeBSD release, for example,
      FreeBSD 10.x.  Alternatively, the user can install misc/compat10x and
      other compatibility libraries, afterwards the system must be rebooted
      into the new userland:
      
      	# shutdown -r now
      
      Finally, after rebooting, freebsd-update needs to be run again to remove
      stale files:
      
      	# freebsd-update install
    • FreeBSD 11.3 Beta 2 Brings Virtualization Updates, Exposes MD_CLEAR MDS Bit To Guests

      The second weekly beta of FreeBSD 11.3 is now available for testing.

      FreeBSD 11.3 should be released in July and offers up various bug fixes and other minor improvements compared to last year’s 11.2 release. FreeBSD 12 remains the current stable series while new development is happening for FreeBSD 13.

    • FreeBSD 11.3-BETA2

      The second BETA build for the FreeBSD 11.3 release cycle is now available. ISO images for the amd64, armv6, arm64, i386, powerpc, powerpc64, and sparc64 architectures are available on most of our FreeBSD mirror sites.

  • Programming/Development

    • metadsl: A Framework for Domain Specific Languages in Python
    • The Python String strip() Function
    • Wingware Blog: Using External Code Quality Checkers with Wing Pro 7
    • The Python zip() Function
    • Talk Python to Me: #214 Dive into CPython 3.8 and beyond
    • Golang Gets Cheaper Context Switching

      As good news considering how much longer it takes to perform a full context switch on Intel CPUs due to various vulnerability mitigations, the Go programming language run-time now has the ability for performing cheaper context switches.

      Landing in GCC 10 Git with the Golang code is a less involved context switching implementation for Linux x86_64 systems with the libgo run-time library.

    • Build an XML sitemap of XML sitemaps

      Suppose that you have so many thousands of pages that you can’t just create a single /sitemap.xml file that has all the URLs (aka ) listed. Then you need to make a /sitemaps.xml that points to the other sitemap files. And if you’re in the thousands, you’ll need to gzip these files.

      The blog post demonstrates how Song Search generates a sitemap file that points to 63 sitemap-{M}-{N}.xml.gz files which spans about 1,000,000 URLs. The context here is Python and the getting of the data is from Django. Python is pretty key here but if you have something other than Django, you can squint and mentally replace that with your own data mapper.

    • Generate a random IP address in Python

      I have a commenting system where people can type in a comment and optionally their name and email if they like.
      In production, where things are real, the IP address that can be collected are all interestingly different. But when testing this manually on my laptop, since the server is running http://localhost:8000, the request.META.get(‘REMOTE_ADDR’) always becomes 127.0.0.1 . Boring! So I fake it.

    • Looking at why the Meson crowdfunding campaign failed

      There were a total of 42 contributors to the campaign. Indiegogo says that a total of 596 people visited the project when it was live. Thus roughly 7% of all people who came to the site participated. It is harder to know how many people saw information about the campaign without coming to the site. Estimating based on numbers based on the blog’s readership, Twitter reach and other sources puts the number at around 5000 globally (with a fairly large margin of error). This would indicate a conversion rate of 1% of all the people who saw any information about the campaign. In reality the percentage is lower since many of the contributors were people who did not really need convincing. Thus the conversion rate is probably closer to 0.5% or even lower.

      The project was set up so that 300 contributors would have been enough to make the project a success. Given the number of people using Meson (estimated to be in the tens of thousands) this seemed like a reasonable goal. Turns out that it wasn’t. Given these conversion numbers you’d need to reach 30 000 – 60 000 people in order to succeed. For a small project with zero advertising budget this seems like a hard thing to achieve.

    • unifont @ Savannah: GNU Unifont 12.1.02 Released

      1 June 2019 Unifont 12.1.02 is now available. This version introduces a Japanese TrueType version, unifont_jp, replacing over 10,000 ideographs from the default Unifont build with kanji from the public domain Jiskan16 font. This version also contains redrawn Devanagari and Bengali glyphs. Full details are in the ChangeLog file.

    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxxx) stackoverflow python report
    • Learn PyQt: Using the ModelView Architecture in PyQt5
    • Using the PyQt5 ModelView Architecture to build a simple Todo app
    • The Easiest Way To Get Started on Python
    • Week1 Report

      This week I start implementation of the grammar of the new DSL language…

Leftovers

  • Science

    • IQ rates are dropping in many developed countries and that doesn’t bode well for humanity

      These days, however, Flynn himself concedes that “the IQ gains of the 20th century have faltered.” A range of studies using a variety of well-established IQ tests and metrics have found declining scores across Scandinavia, Britain, Germany, France and Australia.

      Details vary from study to study and from place to place given the available data. IQ shortfalls in Norway and Denmark appear in longstanding tests of military conscripts, whereas information about France is based on a smaller sample and a different test. But the broad pattern has become clearer: Beginning around the turn of the 21st century, many of the most economically advanced nations began experiencing some kind of decline in IQ.

    • Studies Don’t Support Elon Musk’s Autopilot Safety Claims

      For years, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been making bold claims that the “Autopilot” feature that allows Tesla drivers to drive hands-free is safer than traditional driving.

      In 2016, for instance, he said that “half a million” people would be saved if Autopilot were more widely available. In 2017, Musk tweeted that the latest Autopilot software update could reduce collisions by “90%.” And when a government agency found that equipping cars with Autopilot decreased the rate of crashes by 40%, Mr. Musk spread it enthusiastically.

  • Hardware

    • Huawei’s next high-end MediaPad tablet just leaked

      The MediaPad M5 was announced way back in February of last year, meaning Huawei’s high-end tablet line is in dire need of an update. A successor has been rumored for quite some time and, thanks to one online retailer (via India Shopps), we now know what it’ll look like.

      Overall, the new tablet doesn’t differ too much from its predecessor – slim side bezels and a thicker one above can be seen – but Huawei does appear to have reduced the size of the chin slightly. In addition to this, the physical home button has been removed and, in its place, sits the company’s logo. Like last year, Huawei’s next flagship tablet should be available to purchase in two versions. The smaller one is expected to offer an 8.4-inch display paired with a 4,500mAh battery while the larger alternative will default to a big 10.7-inch panel and a 7,500mAh cell.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Hemp Industry Calls for Updated State Law [Ed: A future for the US with trade war policy? A self-inflicted "opium war"?]

      A bipartisan group of lawmakers and representatives from Wisconsin’s burgeoning hemp industry are pushing for upfated regulations for the crop in Wisconsin.

      Wisconsin legalized industrial hemp — which is used to produce a variety of products, from rope to granola bars — in 2017. The law, which received bipartisan support, allows farmers to grow hemp under certain conditions.

      But, according to Larry Konopacki, general counsel for the Wisconsin Hemp Alliance, law governing hemp production in Wisconsin needs updating, thanks to Congress’ action in the 2018 Farm Bill.

    • These corporations backed the politicians who will murder women by banning legal, safe abortions

      Thanks to monopolism (another legislative favor that was bought at fire-sale prices by the ultra-rich), it may be impossible to boycott these companies.

      But to the extent that you would like to avoid funding the death of desperate women, AA Newton presents a guide to maximizing the efficacy of your boycott against these companies.

    • We’ll soon know the exact air pollution from every power plant in the world. That’s huge.

      In a nutshell: A nonprofit artificial intelligence firm called WattTime is going to use satellite imagery to precisely track the air pollution (including carbon emissions) coming out of every single power plant in the world, in real time. And it’s going to make the data public.

      This is a very big deal. Poor monitoring and gaming of emissions data have made it difficult to enforce pollution restrictions on power plants. This system promises to effectively eliminate poor monitoring and gaming of emissions data.

      And it won’t just be regulators and politicians who see this data; it will be the public too. When it comes to environmental enforcement, the public can be more terrifying and punitive than any regulator. If any citizen group in the world can go online and pull up a list of the dirtiest power plants in their area, it eliminates one of the great informational barriers to citizen action.

    • Penang fish breeders suffer heavy losses from water pollution

      He said the dead fish at the farms would have to be thrown away while those that were still alive would remain in the cages.

      “We have stopped sending our fish supply to customers since April,” he added.

    • Safe Or Scary? The Shifting Reputation Of Glyphosate, AKA Roundup

      The next glyphosate trial is set for August in St. Louis.

    • You May Need Less Than 10,000 Steps Per Day to Help You Live Longer, Study Says

      Fitness tracking apps and personal step counters like Fitbit often prescribe walking 10,000 steps per day as a benchmark for achieving better health, but longevity benefits may kick in well before that for older women, a new study has found.

      Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that older women who took even just 4,400 steps per day on average had lower mortality rates than those who only reached 2,700 or fewer steps each day. In all, women who hit at least 4,400 steps were 41 percent less likely to die during the more than four-year follow-up period compared with less active women, NPR reported.

    • Sale of bee-killing insecticide up big time in Denmark

      Imidacloprid was banned by the EU in 2013, and in 2018 that ban was further toughened, but the government decided to give Danish farmers the option to apply for dispensation.

    • Asian Carp DNA Found in Chicago Area Near Lake Michigan
    • The Other Reasons Kids Aren’t Getting Vaccinations: Poverty and Health Care Access

      “I see kids who show up, they’ve never been to our clinic before, and they were previously in Texas or they were in Maryland,” she explains. “So it leaves me guessing. I have no idea where you’re at with your vaccine status. Do I vaccinate you thinking you haven’t got them? Do I hold off and try and get your records, which may or may not make it — just fax machines and things?”

      Many times, she decides to assume the child hasn’t had any and start from scratch. She says that’s safe to do, but it takes months. “You have to bring them in very regularly to catch them up on a lot of missed vaccines,” she says.

    • NBRI: Arsenic bioremediation using two soil bacteria

      Several studies have pointed out that using arsenic-contaminated water for agricultural purposes can lead to increased concentration of arsenic in fruits and grains, proving toxic to humans.

      The researchers studied the two bacteria under different concentrations of arsenate and arsenite, the toxic forms of heavy metal. Arsenic treatment did not stunt or delay the growth of both the bacterial strains.

      B. flexus exhibited resistance to high levels (150 mmol per litre) of arsenate and A. junii to about 70 mmol per litre of arsenite. This is higher than previously reported arsenic tolerant bacteria and so were regarded as hyper-tolerant strains.

    • 33 of the most dangerous things science has strongly linked to cancer

      Cancer is the number 2 most common cause of death in the US, second only to heart disease.

    • Right-Wing Attacks on Sanders Show Misunderstanding of Single-Payer

      For as long as Bernie Sanders has been advocating for Medicare for All he has been consistent about how it would be funded: with progressive taxation. When he acknowledged his position at a recent town hall, right-wing critics flooded the media with scaremongering attacks.

      During the House Budget Committee Hearing on Single-Payer last week, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) made false claims about Medicare for All. “It means every American taxpayer and every American business has their taxes doubled, and it still doesn’t quite pay for it,” Stewart said, without citing any sources.

      Stewart’s statement was “counterfactual,” as left-wing YouTube talk show host Kyle Kulinski put it. It was grounded in nothing, but it was still echoed across right-wing media.

    • 5 ways female genital mutilation undermines the health of women and girls

      All women and girls have the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Those who are subjected to FGM have this fundamental right denied them, along with the range of other human rights that FGM violates.

      The harm FGM causes to girls’ and women’s health is manifold.

    • U.S. House Passes Resolution Officially Recognizing Female Genital Mutilation as a ‘Human Rights Violation’

      “Today we’re sending a clear message that every girl, no matter where she’s born, has a right to live free of violence,” Democratic Representative Lois Frankel, of Florida, who introduced the bill alongside Republican Representative Scott Perry, of Pennsylvania, said on Tuesday.

      “This bipartisan resolution recognizes that FGM/C is a gross human rights violation holding women and girls back from reaching their full potential,” she said.

      In their resolution, which passed unanimously with a 393 to 0 vote, which was co-sponsored by 28 congress members, lawmakers call on the U.S. government, as well as the international community to undertake coordinated efforts “to eliminate the harmful practice.”

    • Female Genital Mutilation in the United States: Estimating the Number of Girls at Risk

      The guesstimates of FGM prevalence vary greatly and range from 3 million to 70 million girls at risk for FGM worldwide (at any given moment in time), and between 125 million to 200 million girls and women who have already been genitally mutilated (Ali, 2019; UN General Assembly, 2016; UNICEF, 2018; World Health Organization, 2016). Most researchers agree that this atrocity is underreported and that their guesstimates are possibly only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

      None of the studies or surveys employ the same methodology (UNFPA-UNICEF, 2017). Also, researchers and advocates have done surveys or interviews in different countries and in different years.

    • FGM is a crime against humanity

      What steps might we take to abolish this practice? First, we must understand the size and scope of the problem both here and abroad. To do so, we need a plausible way to estimate ongoing and potential incidence rates. What do we really know? The guesstimates of FGM prevalence varies greatly and ranges from 3 million to 70 million girls at risk for FGM worldwide (at any given moment in time), and between 125 million to 200 million girls and women who have already been mutilated (Ali, 2019; UN General Assembly, 2016; UNICEF, 2018; World Health Organization, 2016).

      Most researchers agree that this atrocity is underreported and that their guesstimates are possibly only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. None of the studies or surveys employ the same methodology (UNFPAUNICEF, 2017). Also, researchers and advocates have done surveys or interviews in different countries and in different years.

    • ‘An utter disgrace’: 2020 Democrats denounce Alabama’s near-total abortion ban

      2020 Democratic presidential candidates are hitting back hard against Alabama’s near-total abortion ban, which was signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday. Several of the White House hopefuls are pointing to the need for better health care and to defend the Supreme Court’s precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade.

    • Our Fury Over Abortion Was Dismissed for Decades As Hysterical

      As it comes into view, I am of course livid at the Republican Party that has been working toward this for decades. These right-wing ghouls — who fulminate idiotically about how women could still be allowed to get abortions before they know they are pregnant (Alabama’s Clyde Chambliss) or try to legislate the medically impossible removal of ectopic pregnancy and reimplantation into the uterus (Ohio’s John Becker) — are the stuff of unimaginably gothic horror. Ever since Roe was decided in 1973, conservatives have been laboring to roll back abortion access, with absolutely zero knowlege of or interest in how reproduction works. And all the while, those who have been trying to sound the alarm have been shooed off as silly hysterics.

      Which is why I am almost as mad at many on the left, theoretically on the side of reproductive rights and justice, who have refused, somehow, to see this coming or act aggressively to forestall it. I have no small amount of rage stored for those in the Democratic Party who have relied on the engaged fury of voters committed to reproductive autonomy to elect them, at the same time that they have treated the efforts of activists trying to stave off this future as inconvenient irritants.

    • Louisiana’s Democratic Governor Signs Abortion Ban Into Law

      Louisiana’s Democratic governor signed a ban on abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy Thursday, a move that puts him squarely in line with the leaders of other conservative Southern states while provoking anger from members of his own party.

      With his signature, Gov. John Bel Edwards made Louisiana the fifth state to enact a law prohibiting abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, joining Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia. Alabama’s gone further, outlawing virtually all abortions .

    • Oregon, Awash in Marijuana, Takes Steps to Curb Production

      Oregon is awash in pot, glutted with so much legal weed that if growing were to stop today, it could take more than six years by one estimate to smoke or eat it all.

      Now, the state is looking to curb production.

      Five years after they legalized recreational marijuana, lawmakers are moving to give the Oregon Liquor Control Commission more leeway to deny new pot-growing licenses based on supply and demand.

    • Joining Wave of GOP Anti-Choice Attacks, Louisiana’s Democratic Governor Signs Abortion Ban Authored By Democrat

      As Republicans across the country launch legislative attacks on women’s reproductive rights with the ultimate goal of overturning Roe v. Wade, it was Louisiana Democrats who led the charge Thursday in enshrining the latest state-level abortion ban into law.

      Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, a long-time opponent of women’s right to choose, signed legislation Thursday that would bar abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy—before many women are even aware they are pregnant.

      The widely denounced bill—which easily passed the GOP-controlled state legislature on Wednesday with the support of more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers—was authored by Democratic state Sen. John Milkovich.

      In a statement, NARAL Pro-Choice America political director Nicole Brener-Schmitz warned Louisiana’s governor that he “won’t get a pass just because he is a Democrat.”

    • Missouri’s Last Abortion Clinic Safe for Now Under Judge’s Order, But Fight to Protect Roe ‘Far From Over’

      A federal judge in Missouri stepped in Friday to allow the state’s last remaining abortion clinic to continue operating.

      The 11th-hour decision followed mass protests in St. Louis on Thursday, with rights advocates demanding that Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region be permitted to stay open, lest Missouri become the first state in more than four decades to make it impossible for women to access safe, legal abortion care without crossing state lines.

    • Judge’s Order Means Missouri Clinic Can Keep Doing Abortions
    • Abortion Rights for All Means Your Access to Abortion Shouldn’t Depend on Where You Live or How Much You Make

      ACLU volunteers around the country are demanding presidential candidates commit to advancing abortion access for all.
      The headlines about the current state of abortion access seem to get worse every day.

      States like Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, and Kentucky have recently passed extreme abortion bans in an attempt to directly challenge Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court. And just this week, we learned that Missouri may become the first state without a health center that provides abortions since Roe was decided. Five other states — Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia — only have one abortion clinic left.

      But with our Rights for All campaign, ACLU volunteers can fight back.

      There is no question that state legislators opposed to abortion rights, emboldened by Trump’s two appointments to the Supreme Court, are rushing to pass laws that blatantly violate more than four decades of Supreme Court precedent. But this bleak landscape for abortion access is not new (in fact, the most recent headline-grabbing bans are all being challenged in court and haven’t actually taken effect). Rather, it’s the result of a decades-long strategy to push abortion out of reach completely with laws designed to make it impossible for people to access care.

      Since 2011 alone, state legislatures have quietly passed more than 400 such medically unnecessary and politically motivated laws, shutting down clinics and erecting so many barriers to care that the right to abortion is now a hollow one for many people across vast areas of the country.

    • Ask for Jane: Meet the Underground Feminist Group That Provided Abortions Before Roe v. Wade

      “Ask for Jane.” Those were the magic words that provided thousands of women access to safe abortions before the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 that guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion. With abortion services outlawed in most of the country, women often had to risk their own lives in order to terminate pregnancy. So, in 1969, a group of women in Chicago decided to take matters into their own hands and set up a hotline, offering counseling and eventually providing abortion services themselves. To reach the underground feminist abortion service, all you had to do was call a phone number and ask for Jane. We speak with two former members of Jane: Laura Kaplan and Alice Fox. Laura Kaplan is the author of “The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service.”

    • Citing “Safety Concerns,” FDA Cautions National Marketer of Unproven Stem Cell Treatments

      In a sign of its increasing concern about the marketing of stem cells as cure-alls, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week notified a major distributor of such products that they are considered drugs and must have FDA approval in order to be sold legally.

      The FDA wrote to R3 Stem Cell following a report this month by ProPublica and The New Yorker that the company’s chief executive officer, Dr. David Greene, was touting products made from birth tissue as therapies for a wide range of ailments despite a lack of scientific evidence. Similarly, the FDA’s review found that the Scottsdale, Arizona, company, which markets stem cells through a network of more than 50 clinics nationwide, encourages patients to use the unproven treatment for dementia, Parkinson’s disease, lyme disease, kidney failure, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions.

      The amniotic stem cell product marketed by R3 needs to be cleared by the agency as “safe, pure and potent” before being marketed to patients, the FDA said in the letter. “We note that your products are intended to treat a variety of serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions,” it continued. “Such unapproved uses raise potential significant safety concerns.”

    • Ady Barkan’s Dying Quest for Social Justice

      On April 30, activist Ady Barkan came to Capitol Hill from his home in California to advocate before Congress for a Medicare-for-all bill. The legislation, he said from his wheelchair, was “the only solution to what ails the American health care system.” It was the first-ever hearing for Medicare-for-all legislation, but that’s not what made this moment poignant. The voice wasn’t Barkan’s, but that of a computer, which read his testimony for him. One of the most important activists in America today can barely speak or move.

      In 2016, Barkan was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a terminal illness that kills motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, eventually impacting the sufferer’s ability to walk, to eat, even to breath. “I never thought I’d be in this position,” he explained in a CNN op-ed in 2017. “A year ago, I was healthy, taking morning runs on the California coast and looking forward to a new life with my newborn son, Carl.”

      Not knowing how much time he had left, Barkan threw himself into activism, turning, as a Politico profile described it, “his body into a kind of campaign tool, laying it in front of members of Congress, news cameras and activists to inspire action for health care, immigrants and the election of progressive Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”

      He traveled frequently to Capitol Hill—to defend the Affordable Care Act, advocate for immigrant rights and against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, and to protest against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 with a coalition of progressive groups including the Center for Popular Democracy, for which he is an organizer. He’d been an activist for years, but his work gained a new urgency; at the same moment his health was in danger, the government had begun actively working to dismantle funding and programs that millions of Americans like him depend on.

    • Why Is The US Government Letting Big Pharma Charge Insane Prices On Patents The US Owns?

      As we’ve discussed plenty of times in the past, when the federal government creates something that could be covered by copyright law, US copyright law requires it to be put into the public domain for the benefit of the public. I’ve never quite understood why the same is not true for patents. Instead, the US government does big business licensing off patents. While some may argue that this is a good revenue generation scheme for the US government (which theoretically should lower taxes elsewhere), it has significant downstream effects. And that’s especially true in the healthcare market.

      As we’ve discussed before, you’ll often hear big pharma insisting it needs patents because it takes some ungodly sum to research and bring a patent to market. That number goes up every year. By a lot. In the early 2000s, the numbers was clocked at $800 million. Last year, drug companies were now claiming $2.7 billion. But much of that is a total myth. Indeed, research shows that big pharma is often adding up the costs that the federal government itself spends on encouraging new drug development and adds it to the total cost as if that cost is borne by the pharmaceutical industry, rather than the taxpayer.

      And yet, even though the US taxpayer tends to pay for a significant share of the research and development in new drugs, big pharma companies which take over the project down the road get to keep 100% of the profits — and, thanks to a totally broken patent system that gives them a literal monopoly, they jack up the prices to insane levels (and this works because of our idiotic healthcare setup in which no one ever knows the cost of what we’re buying, and insurance companies act as weird middlemen).

    • Mired In Medical Debt? Federal Plan Would Update Overdue-Bill Collection Methods

      Elham Mirshafiei was at the library cramming for final exams during her senior year at California State University-Long Beach when she grew nauseated and started vomiting. After the 10th episode in an hour, a friend took her to the nearest emergency room. Diagnosis: an intestinal bug and severe dehydration. In a few hours, she was home again, with instructions to eat a bland diet and drink plenty of fluids.

      That was in 2010. But the $4,000 bill for the brief emergency department visit at an out-of-network hospital has trailed her ever since. Mirshafiei, 31, has a good job now as a licensed insurance adviser in Palo Alto, Calif. But money is still tight and her priority is paying off her $67,000 student loan debt rather than that old hospital bill.

      Once or twice a year she gets a letter from a collection agency. She ignores them, and, so far, the consequences have been manageable. “It’s not like electricity that gets cut off if you don’t pay it,” she said.

      Mirshafiei has plenty of company. At least 43 million other Americans have overdue medical bills on their credit reports, a federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report on medical debt found in 2014. And 59% of people contacted by a debt collector say the exchange was over medical bills, the most common type of contact stemming from an overdue bill, according to the CFPB.

  • Security

    • Davy Wybiral: Always Secure Your localhost Servers

      Recently I was surprised to learn that web browsers allow any site you visit to make requests to resources on localhost (and that they will happily allow unreported mixed-content). If you’d like to test this out, run an HTTP server on port 8080 (for instance with python -m http.server 8080) and then visit this page.

      You should see “Found: HTTP (8080)” listed and that’s because the Javascript on that page made an HTTP GET request to your local server to determine that it was running. Chances are it detected other services as well (for instance if you run Tor or Keybase locally).

      [...]

      As far as preventing fingerprinting and service discovery this way… I’m not entirely sure what the best way to prevent this would be other than ungracefully failing the requests (which a lot of HTTP frameworks probably don’t make easy).

    • [Paywall] A study in detecting network intruders
    • Suffering through Windows Update

      I use a lot of different desktop operating systems — Chrome OS, Linux, macOS and Windows — but there’s only one of them that worries me every time I upgrade it. That troublesome OS? Windows.

      Remember when people used to say that they couldn’t use desktop Linux because it didn’t support their printer, graphics card or scanner? Ha! With the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, Version 1903, Microsoft came right out and warned us it might not install on our PCs if we use external USB drives or SD cards.

      Not all my Windows 10 computers have external USB drives. Only all my desktop PCs.

    • CVE-2018-15664: docker (all versions) is vulnerable to a symlink-race attack
  • Defence/Aggression

    • A U.S. Army Tweet Asking ‘How Has Serving Impacted You?’ Got An Agonizing Response

      In addition to PTSD, another common theme on Twitter was the scourge of sexual assault while serving in the military. One woman wrote of suffering from depression and anxiety, and said she “still can’t deal well with loud noises. I was assaulted by one of my superiors. When I reported him, with witnesses to corroborate my story, nothing happened to him. Nothing. A year later, he stole a laptop and was then demoted. I’m worth less than a laptop.”

    • Attacks on Afghan schools nearly triple, warns UNICEF

      A sharp rise in attacks on schools in Afghanistan is preventing a generation of children from getting an education, UNICEF reports. Threats from the Taliban and “Islamic State” mean hundreds of schools remain shuttered.

    • How Lobbying Firms Helped Destroy Yemen

      Obviously, this is the case for the American defense companies that have been supplying weapons and equipment of all sorts to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their ongoing war. But it’s no less so for the little-publicized lobbying groups that represent them. In 2018, more than a dozen such firms were working on behalf of the Saudis or the Emiratis, while also providing their services to defense contractors whose weapons are being used in the conflict.

    • Angels and Demons: Imperialism and War, ‘Chavs’ and Jeremy Kyle

      The father of modern public relations and spin, Edward Bernays was a cynical manipulator of mass perception. He knew that by shaping people’s desires in a certain way, governments and corporations could sell just about any notion to the masses and manipulate them at will. Whether it was whipping up fear about the bogeyman of communism or selling the ‘American Dream’ of happiness through consuming goods, Bernays and the public relations/advertising industry, which took its cue from him, did exactly that.

      Bernays was an expert in stage managing events to capture the popular imagination. Among his various ‘accomplishments’ was to get women hooked on cigarettes by associating feminism and fashion with smoking. Calling cigarettes ‘torches of freedom’, he was instrumental in convincing women that cigarettes were trendy and that smoking symbolised emancipation. From getting people to change their diets to putting fluoride in drinking water, corporations knew who to turn to when they wanted to sell their dubious products.

      Thanks in large part to Bernays, politicians, the corporate media and opinion leaders learned to appeal to primitive impulses, such as fear, sex and narcissism, that have little bearing on issues beyond the narrow self-interests of a consumer society. The whole point of such a society is to distract people from the reality of the wider world and train them to desire and want new things that they don’t really need – or for that matter even really want – while stripping them of their ability to be self-reliant and independent.

    • At Least 11 Dead in Shooting at City Building in Virginia

      Police Chief James Cervera said Friday that a shooter opened fire and shot “indiscriminately” at workers inside an operations building in the Virginia Beach Municipal Building Friday afternoon.

      Cervera said police returned fire, killing the suspect. He said the suspect was a longtime employee of the city’s Public Works Department. One of the people shot is a police officer.

    • How Mainstream U.S. Media Is Failing Us On Trump And Bolton’s March To War With Iran

      The Trump administration and its allies are slow-walking the United States into war with Iran, and, with a few notable exceptions, mainstream U.S. media is helping them.

      Much of this assistance has been overt. Just like during the run-up to the Iraq war, outlets like CNN, NBC, and the New York Times have in recent weeks simply parroted without scrutiny claims from Bolton and other administration officials of a dire Iranian threat based on intelligence no one has seen (these claims would in turn compel officials within the U.S. intelligence community to tell reporters that the intelligence in question shows nothing new or that it was being blown out of proportion).

      But the media is also failing us in other, less overt ways, namely by quoting and promoting those pushing for regime change and/or war and presenting them as, at best, neutral “experts,” or at worst, proponents of a “strong” or “tough” U.S. policy vis-a-vis Iran.

      In a story earlier this week about how President Trump is showing signs of souring on Bolton, particularly because of Bolton’s quest for war with Iran, the Times gave Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) CEO Mark Dubowitz prominent billing to praise Bolton as the one giving Trump the “diplomatic space for him to go back and forth between a very hard-line position and holding talks.”

      Except the reality is that Dubowitz has no interest in the U.S. holding talks with Iran. In fact, over the past decade or so, he’s essentially been the titular head of the pro-regime change/Iran war movement that worked to prevent President Obama from reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran, and subsequently pushed to destroy it.

      Dubowitz himself has called for regime change in Iran and the organization he runs, FDD, has been underwritten by right-wing billionaire funders Bernie “I think Iran is the devil” Marcus, and Sheldon Adelson, who’s on record calling for the U.S. to nuke Iran. FDD has also been the leader in promoting the false narrative that Iran is in league with al-Qaeda, and its staffers regularly publish op-eds and papers pushing a militaristic approach or outright calling for war with Iran. Indeed, Bolton recruited one of his most hawkish staffers, Richard Goldberg, from FDD. Months before joining the administration, Goldberg wrote a piece urging Trump to attack Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

    • Values Are Weapons as Cuba Defends Doctors against US intervention

      The George W. Bush administration initiated the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program (CMPP) in 2006. The idea was to persuade overseas Cuban doctors to abandon their posts and relocate to the United States. Cuba’s medical solidarity programs, in place for half a century, would suffer. President Obama ended the CMPP in January, 2017. Now the U.S. government wants to reinstate it.

      Cubans defending medical outreach associate what the doctors do with ideals of human dignity and solidarity. U.S. rationales for their own interventions are either unconvincing as to humane purposes or not for public knowledge.

      The U.S. government thus speaks of bringing democracy to Cuba and Venezuela. That those nations are under U.S. siege brings to mind the Vietnamese town Ben Tre. U.S. forces destroyed it in 1968 in order “to save it.” Otherwise, what many regard as the actual purpose of U.S. interventions, the commandeering of power and wealth, is unmentionable in mainstream circles.

      Cuba demonstrates coherence between intervention in the health care of other peoples and values. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, speaking in Buenos Aires in 2003, stated that, “Our country is able to send the doctors that are needed to the darkest corners of the world. Doctors, not bombs!” He had just proclaimed Cuba’s unwillingness (and inability) to launch “preventative surprise attacks in any dark corner of the world.”

    • US Figure of Casualties in Iraq and Syria Hides True, ‘Devastating Scale’ of Civilian Deaths, Says Amnesty

      The U.S.-led coalition that launched airstrikes against Iraq and Syria against ISIS admitted Friday that those attacks killed civilians, but the number they reported—1,302 deaths in a nearly five-year period—was immediately dismissed as too low by the human rights organization Amnesty International.

      “While all admissions of responsibility by the U.S.-led coalition for civilian casualties are welcome, the coalition remains deeply in denial about the devastating scale of the civilian casualties caused by their operations in both Iraq and Syria,” the group’s senior crisis response advisor, Donatella Rovera, said in a statement.

      The coalition, in a statement announcing the findings of its internal review, said that of the “34,502 strikes between August 2014 and the end of April 2019″ it found that “at least 1,302 civilians have been unintentionally killed by coalition strikes.”

      That number, while 1,302 people too many, is still far below projections from other organizations over the past.

      “Even in cases where the coalition has admitted responsibility this has only happened after civilian deaths were investigated and brought to its attention by organizations such as Amnesty International and Airwars,” said Rovera.

      In April, a study by Amnesty and Airwars projected that 1,600 civilians died in coalition airstrikes in the Syrian city of Raqqa alone from June to October 2017, a number that, in four months, is higher than the coalition’s total findings for over four years across two countries.

    • Amid Report of North Korea Purge, Reasons for Caution

      A South Korean newspaper reported Friday that North Korea executed a senior envoy involved in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. as well as four other high-level officials. But as ever with North Korea, a country that closely guards its secrets, there are reasons to be cautious about the purported purge.

      While North Korea hasn’t used its propaganda services to comment, the report in the conservative Chosun Ilbo daily could be true. North Korea has previously executed scapegoats to atone for high-profile political flops, and the most recent summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump ended in failure, leaving Kim embarrassed on the world stage.

      But it’s important to note that both South Korean media and the government in Seoul have a history of reporting scoops about the inner workings of North Korea that turn out to be wrong. Supposedly executed officials have later appeared trotting alongside Kim on state TV.

    • Day of Bad Memory

      The frustration I experience with dishonest politics reached a peak with Memorial Day this year. I saw protest signs and memes to the effect of: “Some gave all. All gave something. Trump gave nothing.” While it perfectly captured my frustration, it was oversimplified and failed to articulate the real failures.

      Donald Trump, who dodged the draft with alleged bone-spurs, simultaneously gets it right and wrong. War is ugly and Vietnam was Kissinger’s and Nixon’s crime against humanity. I will not condemn anyone for refusing to carry out misdeeds. The problem is that he refused for the wrong reasons—cowardice and selfishness. A moral being does not say, as Trump has, that dodging STDs was his own personal Vietnam. A moral being might more closely resemble Anthony Bourdain who said, “Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands.” Not that I condone violence, I just understand that witnessing the aftermath and trauma from violence and war—even decades later—present existential challenges that shake a person to the core.

      For more than a decade I have taught students receiving post 9-11 GI Bill access to higher education. Many of these students have shared sentiments: “You’re the first civilian I’ve ever felt comfortable sharing these stories with” or “I wish everyone was as open minded about these things as you are.” By the end of the term they let me know, “I fought in the war, but now I understand why,” which I consider the highest praise.

      I think it is collective bad memory that makes it possible for Bush, then Obama, then Trump to ignore the consequences of waging war, and for society as whole to do so too.

      Lip service is paid to the fallen on Memorial Day, but any correction to the mythology being presented is almost immediately condemned. Why is that? Why do we allow politicians to use sacrifice for political stunts but cower the moment that the politics responsible for the sacrifice are exposed?

    • George Clooney: Amal and I ‘have real security issues on a daily basis’ due to ISIS case

      Based on interviews with Yazidi female refugees, Human Rights Watch concluded in 2015 that ISIS had operated a “system of organized rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery, and forced marriage.”

      Last month, Amal asked the the United Nation’s Security Council to prosecute Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria for rape, arguing that if the U.N.’s most powerful body cannot prevent atrocities of sexual violence from happening in wartime situations “then at least it must punish it” and make justice for victims a priority.

    • How climate change can fuel wars

      The most obvious cause of their suffering is ideological. The jihadists of Boko Haram want to establish a caliphate, snuffing out such sins as Western-style education and imposing a harsh form of sharia (Islamic law) as the sole system of government. To this end, they torch villages, behead aid-workers and enslave or strap bombs to young girls.

    • WHO: 20,000 Souls Lost to Boko Haram Crisis

      The World Health Organisation (WHO) has lamented that the Boko Haram crisis has led to over 20,000 deaths.
      The United Nations’ organ in its 2018 Annual Report just released said: “Ongoing crisis in North-east Nigeria has led to over 20,000 deaths in the past nine years.”

    • London teens sent to Africa to escape knife crime

      She estimates that out of every five Somalian families, two are taking their children back home.

    • What Would Democrat Candidates Do About Syria?

      Something peculiar happened along the way to stopping a war: in order to prevent U.S. soldiers from marching on Damascus—a real possibility according to people who don’t seem to follow such things—some decided that the cause of what they call “peace” required turning a blind eye to several wars that already existed. Neoconservatives, forever on the prowl for a casus belli, would have to be denied ammunition, and, principle being far too difficult an argument in a time of competing viral sentence fragments, it would instead be the realist task of denial—of atrocities, or at least the ability to do anything about them—to stop at least one party’s bombs.

      It was not necessarily sinister, this modus operandi; most who indulged in it probably have hearts that bleed liberally for the poor and vulnerable. But empathy is all about location, and given the option of “Another Iraq” or doing nothing, many quite sensibly chose the latter and, less wholesomely, concluded that the best way of preventing the former was to become a partisan of the Syrian Arab Army or a defense attorney for Bashar al-Assad, eager to sow doubt while also casting blame for every regime crime on a monolithically extremist opposition that only and confoundingly uses Sarin on itself.

      Regime change never came—not because any U.S. generals feared the CodePink mailing list, though. Rather, pacifists and militarists feared and desired the same things: avoiding a quagmire and preserving a status quo deemed better than any alternative, democratic or otherwise. There was an abundance of cause, and red lines crossed, but never the interest among Washington’s foreign policy elites to do the only thing the anti-war left ever organized against.

      When the (U.S.) airstrikes came, in 2014, they targeted non-state extremists, such as ISIS and al-Qaeda. Donald Trump did lob missiles at a vacated government runway, following a Sarin attack deemed a “false flag” by legendary reporter Seymour Hersh, but he also bombed a mosque in rebel-held Aleppo, killing dozens of civilians in a war crime that never made it to a poster board. As Hersh told me when I pointed out to him that his Syria reporting had been debunked by the United Nations, “[I] have learned to just write what I know and move on.”

    • Where are they now? Five years ago, the bloodiest European war of the 21st century began in eastern Ukraine. Here’s what’s become of those early separatist leaders.

      Full-scale combat started in eastern Ukraine on May 26, 2014, with the battle for Donetsk airport. The Ukrainian army faced off against separatists from two self-declared “people’s republics” in Donetsk and Luhansk, and by extension the Russian military, which offered its unofficial support. The “active stage” of fighting continued until February 2015, when the Minsk II agreement was signed. According to the UN, the conflict in eastern Ukraine has claimed at least 13,000 lives. Almost none of the figures who led the initial protests against the Ukrainian government or the subsequent fighting against Ukrainian troops remain in today’s separatist leadership. In fact, many of these men have been killed. To learn what happened to the first leaders of the Donbas, Meduza spoke to people who knew them and to others who witnessed the dramatic events of 2014.

    • The US and Its Glass House

      It sinks its claws into Latin America and the Caribbean, destroying its peoples, either through the seizure of power by servile oligarchies representing its interests (any resemblance to Chile, Brazil or the self-proclaimed Lima Group, is not purely coincidental); the destabilization of legitimately and democratically elected governments, such as Venezuela or Nicaragua; or its genocidal economic war against the Cuban Revolution.

      The Trump administration’s concern for the properties of those who lived in Cuba before 1959 is fanciful. Title III of the Helms-Burton Act and all its letter are just a pretext to end the Cuban model, humanist par excellence, which remains stuck like a thorn in the empire’s side, and has prevented it from continuing with what it started 174 years ago, in 1845.

      In that year, Mexico lost half of its territory, after Texas fell into U.S.. hands in 1836 following the unequal battle led by General Sam Houston. Fulfilling the ambitions of the eleventh President of the United States, James K. Polk (1845-1849), who had dreamed of that appropriation ever since coming to power, the area officially became part of the United States. The Texas bourgeoisie applauded the annexation, because it favored its cotton plantations, worked by African slaves.

      Rafael Escalante states on digital daily La Izquierdada Diario, that “It was then that the expansionist intentions of the American Union were revealed with greater force, and they set their sights on other Mexican territories.” In June 1846, the United States began another unequal war that ended in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), with the dispossession of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and part of Colorado and Wyoming. Already the U.S. had its sights set on making Mexico, and later Latin America, into its backyard.

      The total sum of those areas, including Texas, which today is the second largest State in the United States, is almost two million square kilometers. That is more than Mexico’s land area today, which stands at 1,959,248 km2, according to the publication México mi país.

    • 12 Victims Mourned in Shooting at Virginia Beach City Building

      The 12 people who were fatally shot in a Virginia Beach government building were remembered Saturday during a somber news conference and prayer vigil as officials sought to put the focus on those who died and not the gunman.

      Police Chief James Cervera identified the assailant as DeWayne Craddock, who was employed for 15 years as an engineer with the city’s utilities department. He declined to comment on a motive for Friday’s rampage, which ended with Craddock’s death in a gun battle with police. City officials uttered his name just once and said they would not mention it again.

      City Manager Dave Hansen said he had worked for years with many of the dead, 11 of whom were city employees. The 12th was a contractor trying to get a permit.

      Their names and photos were projected on a screen as Hansen read aloud biographical information that included their hometowns and years of service.

    • An Unabashed Tribute to ‘The Warriors’ on Its 40th Anniversary

      But in the spring of 1979, the critical establishment reacted as if a cold, wet corpse had been dumped on its doorstep; it was the rare occasion when critics from the mainstream New York Times and the alternative Village Voice were in full agreement: They hated “The Warriors.” Conservatives, particularly nationally syndicated columnist Max Rafferty, called the film “violence purely for the sake of violence.”

      An editorial by Desmond Ryan in The Philadelphia Inquirer called it “a sickening film that glorifies gang warfare and brutal violence … [and] has left a bloody trail of real-life mayhem and death in its wake. … In hundreds of cities across the U.S., the depraved violence shown in this movie has been blamed for inciting young people to fight, rampage and kill. …”

      The hysteria was fanned by a trailer that, to a background of the throbbing score from “The Terminator” (“The Warriors” score was still in progress), warned, “These are the armies of the night. They are 100,000 strong. They outnumber the cops five to one. They could run New York City.”

      “The Warriors” had just two high-profile defenders. In the March 5, 1979, issue of The New Yorker, film critic Pauline Kael stunned staid readers when she wrote, “’The Warriors’ is a real moviemaker’s movie: it has, in visual terms, the kind of impact that ‘Rock Around the Clock’ did behind the titles of ‘Blackboard Jungle.’ …The physical action is so stylized that it has a wild cartoon kick to it, like Yojimbo and the best Kung-Foo movies. The fighting is so exhilaratingly visceral, and so contrapuntal in the Oriental-martial-art-dancing manner that you have no thought of pain or gore.”

    • The Sound of Skyscrapers

      The attacks of September 11, 2001 reinstated for more than a decade the Empire State Building as the highest structure in New York City, a distinction it had held from its completion in 1931 until 1972 when the north tower of the World Trade Center supplanted its midtown rival. Rising in defiance of the Great Depression, the Empire State Building dwarfed the short-reigned emperor of the skies, the Chrysler Building.

      Chrysler had been on top for only a year from May of 1930 until May 1 of 1931, when President Hoover turned the electricity on for the Empire State Building from a switch in Washington, D. C. The lights of his skyscraper may have been on, but few were home: the building remained largely unrented, giving rise to the nickname the “Empty State Building,” which, in contrast to the successful Chrysler tower, didn’t become profitable until two decades later.

      The Empire State Building held its reclaimed primacy on the Manhattan skyline until 2014 when the new One Word Trade Center was finished: it stand 1,368 feet tall, exactly the height of the building it replaced. In recent years three more buildings have surpassed the the Empire State Building including, just this spring, the skinny Steinway tower, said to be the highest residential building in the world.

      The earliest footage of the Empire State Building is soundless, coming as it did in the first years of cinematic sound technology. Andy Warhol’s eight-hour Empire of 1964—a movie that doesn’t move—returns the building to silence and stasis with its one long shot of the skyscraper.

      Within two years of its opening the Empire State Building would be forever clad not just in limestone but also in music written by a Viennese émigré who virtually invented the classic Hollywood soundtrack. Max Steiner’s 1933 score for King Kong mixes modernist angst with the dreamy wisps of romance. Terror and redemption have been the twin towers of Hollywood’s movie music ever since.

      So symbolic of hubris, skyscrapers are lightning rods for disaster, both real and imagined. It now has the feel of the inevitable that the Empire State Building should have provided the setting for the first horror film of the skies and the impetus for Steiner’s seminal score.

      [...]

      Many a faux-documentary in the vein of the Blair Witch Project has exploited this paradox in artfully fabricating movies which feign reality by running without any music. The Dardenne brothers’ realistic Palme d’Or-winning films about life in post-industrial Belgium forsake a soundtrack and are all the more powerful and grueling for it. So central is music to our cinematic experience that stifling it can be as opportunistic as deploying the soaring strings.

      This also explains why news footage of the September 11 attacks are so difficult to watch. Those montage sequences of the attacks in which a soundtrack has been added turn the event into an action movie. It is no accident that compilations of visual “evidence” of the September 11th conspiracy to be seen in their hundreds on YouTube make abundant use of music. In one typical example the short overture resorts to portentous chromaticism and string haloes worthy of Wagner and his epigone Steiner, before bursting out in Orffian ostinatos as the planes smash into the towers.

    • Viking Ship Captain Arrested in Deadly Budapest Boat Crash

      A Hungarian judge on Saturday ordered the formal arrest of a captain whose Viking river cruise ship collided with a sightseeing boat on the Danube River, sinking the tourist boat and leaving seven South Koreans dead and 21 other people missing.

      Authorities said water levels in Budapest are expected to fall quickly in the coming days, helping efforts to salvage the wreckage that may still contain victims’ bodies.

      The judge ordered the 64-year-old Ukrainian captain of the Viking Sigyn cruise ship formally arrested for 30 days. He said the captain could be released on bail — subject to him wearing a tracking device and remaining in Budapest — but prosecutors are appealing that decision.

      The Viking ship collided Wednesday evening with a much smaller sightseeing boat carrying 35 people, most of them South Korean tourists, in Budapest, the capital. Seven people were rescued.

      Divers so far have been unable to even approach the wreckage of the 27-meter (88 ½ foot) tour boat due to high water levels, strong currents and murky waters. A Hungarian military ship has been anchored at the site to help the salvage operation.

      The captain is suspected of endangering water traffic causing a fatal mass disaster, which carries a sentence of 2 to 8 years.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • U.N. Special Rapporteur Calls for Julian Assange to Be Freed, Citing “Psychological Torture”

      The United Nations special rapporteur on torture is warning that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is suffering from the effects of “psychological torture” due to his ongoing detention and threats of possible extradition to the United States. The U.N. expert, Nils Melzer, also warned that Assange would likely face a “politicized show trial” if he were to be extradited to the United States. Melzer writes, “In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution, I have never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize and abuse a single individual for such a long time.” Julian Assange is currently serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail in 2012 at London’s Belmarsh Prison, after he was forcibly removed from the Ecuadorean Embassy by British police last month. Last week, the U.S. Justice Department announced it was charging Assange with 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act for his role in publishing U.S. classified military and diplomatic documents exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange, who had already been charged on one count of hacking a government computer, now faces up to 170 additional years in prison under the new charges—10 years for each count of violating the Espionage Act. Assange was due to appear by video link before a magistrates’ court on Thursday but failed to appear, reportedly due to health problems. We speak with U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer.

    • The Unrelenting State

      We are seriously worried about the condition of Julian Assange. He was too unwell to appear in court yesterday, and his Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelson, found him in a state where he was unable to conduct a conversation and give instructions. There are very definite physical symptoms, particularly rapid weight loss, and we are not satisfied that genuine and sufficient diagnostic efforts are being made to determine the underlying cause.

      Julian had been held for the last year in poor, highly confining and increasingly oppressive conditions in the Ecuadorean Embassy and his health was already deteriorating alarmingly before his expulsion and arrest. A number of conditions, including dental abcesses, can have very serious consequences if long term untreated, and the continual refusal by the British government and latterly the Ecuadoreans to permit him access to adequate healthcare while a political asylee was a callous denial of basic human rights.

      I confess to feeling an amount of personal relief after his arrest that at least he would now get proper medical treatment. However there now seems to be no intention to provide that and indeed since he has been in Belmarsh his health problems have accelerated. I witnessed enough of the British state’s complicity in torture to know that this may be more than just the consequence of unintended neglect. That the most lucid man I know is now not capable of having a rational conversation is extremely alarming.

    • Assange Indictments are Not About Assange: Democrats Need to Drop their Hate and Support him

      What media outlets will dare to be mavericks in this era of higher stakes? A reminder that over 90% of the U.S. news media is owned by just half a dozen corporations driven by the profit motive, with a web of interconnections with all the industries responsible for the sorry state of the planet: weapons, big ag, finance, etc. It won’t be them. Since 9/11, we have already been witnessing a narrowing of the spectrum of allowable discourse (i.e., voices critical of war are fired or quit) and that inertia is difficult to slow, let alone turn around. Only gadflies like Assange and the increasingly algorithmically-marginalized alternative media can be the watchdogs we need. So, we’re in the classic position of needing to defend the unpopular against the monolithic for the sake of the common good.

      No one wants to be next Assange. Who can blame journalists if they are concerned with holding down work in an industry that has shed 23% of its jobs between 2008 and 2017, the majority of those at newspapers? But we should bear this in mind when we consume what they produce.

      We can also assume that the chilling effects of these indictments on reporting have already started. From this point forward, investigative journalism of government activity in general, and reporting of secrets specifically, will likely become rarer. Such exposures were already getting fewer and farther between due to Obama’s unprecedented attacks on whistle-blowers (see The Nation, Mother Jones, Truthout, The Black Agenda Report and The Guardian). Speaking in 2012, Associated Press President and CEO, Gary Pruitt revealed: “The actions of the DOJ against AP are already having an impact beyond the specifics of this case. Some longtime trusted sources have become nervous and anxious about talking with us—even on stories unrelated to national security. In some cases, government employees we once checked in with regularly will no longer speak to us by phone. Others are reluctant to meet in person.”

      Indeed, like runners passing a relay baton, each US presidential regime has done its part to chip away at the quality of the press since at least Reagan, who led the way in dismantling the Fairness Doctrine. Some have done more damage than others, but none have reversed course. In the case of these indictments against Assange, Obama laid the groundwork and Trump only needed to take this one last step.

      Democrats have been among the shrillest critics of Assange and WikiLeaks since the release of the Podesta emails in 2016 (see my “DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks“), and after the election, they made bombastic claims about the supposed effects of the emails on the outcome. However, liberal-leaning FiveThirtyEight.com carefully parsed the numbers and concluded that “there just isn’t a clean-cut story in the data” and characterized “the evidence that WikiLeaks had an impact” as “circumstantial.” Methodical analysis like this hasn’t gotten much attention, though. What we see here are the toxic effects of partisanship. But this issue—the survival of the First Amendment—supersedes such loyalties and concerns. Any Democrats still holding on to hate for WikiLeaks need to drop it and give their support to Assange. This isn’t the time for such pettiness.

    • Swedish Sex Pistol Aimed at Assange

      In my article, Avoiding Assange, a month ago, right after the first US indictment was issued, I addressed two diversionary arguments that I knew would be used by those who want to hide their complicity with American imperialism under leftish cover—that is, those who don’t want to be seen as endorsing the United States government’s prosecution of Assange for, and intimidation of every journalist in the world from, reporting the embarrassing truth about American war crimes, but who also don’t really want to stand in the way of Assange’s extradition to the United States.

      The first of those arguments was the denial that the USG’s charge against Assange posed any threat to press freedom—that it was just about “hacking,” not publishing. Both the New York Times (NYT) and the Washington Post (WaPo) pretended to believe in, and celebrated, the Trump administration’s meticulous threading of the legal/constitutional needle to avoid endangering freedom of speech and the press. For the NYT: “The administration has begun well by charging Mr. Assange with an indisputable crime…not with publishing classified government information, but with stealing it, skirting — for now — critical First Amendment questions.” For the WaPo, the indictment was “not the defeat for civil liberties of which his defenders mistakenly warn,” but “a victory for the rule of law.”

      Well, that argument and pretense have now disappeared with the USG’s superseding indictment that uses the Espionage Act to threaten Assange with 175 years in prison. Even the most Assange-hating liberal media personalities and institutions—from the NYT and WaPo to MSNBC and the Guardian—have no way to deny the threat this poses to freedom of the press. As Alan Rusbridger, Assange-hating former editor of the Assange-hating Guardian, recognizes, the US indictment is an attempt “to criminalise things journalists regularly do as they receive and publish true information given to them by sources or whistleblowers.” And, for the NYT Editorial Board, the present indictment no longer “skirts,” but “aims at the heart of the First Amendment.”

      (Though, as if it just couldn’t help itself, in its statement, the NYT sneaks in a pernicious point, saying Assange was “a source, not a partner.” This actually ratifies the USG’s “he’s not a publisher” argument, and I foresee the possibility of the USG quoting and using this editorial against Assange.

    • Trump Against the First Amendment

      For a time it looked as if the federal government’s case against Julian Assange had it right: he was indicted on one count of conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer network. No matter what one may think about a whistleblower, a journalist or a crusader, breaking and entering is a crime, and it’s difficult to make the case that obtaining information through criminal means is justifiable. The government may have had trouble proving that Assange himself was hacking computers. He relied on former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to gain access to 250,000 diplomatic cables in 2010. The government claimed he was trying to help Manning break a code to do so. The government had an arguably reasonable case.

      That changed a week ago when the government filed an entirely different indictment, slapping Assange with 17 counts under the Espionage Act–not for breaking into a Pentagon computer, not for stealing information, but for publishing the 2010 documents.

      That’s a problem. Because suddenly, Assange, who is a remarkably distasteful narcissist with the morals of a worm, and who has no problems conspiring with Russian henchmen, is being turned into something of a hero again. Or at least an anti-hero, which amounts to the same thing. (The early years after Wikileaks’ founding in 2006 were classic if raw whistleblowing stuff, their worth measured by a reliable ratio: governments loathed the leaks in direct proportion to how much national papers and their readers devoured what Wikileaks gave them: banking, big oil, and climate change scandals, and of course the Pentagon revelations which, manner of acquisition aside, showed our government’s conduct in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo at its abject worst, as if Vietnam taught nothing better than how to better hide mendacity and war crimes. Wikileaks’ record during Assange’s confinement to his 350 square feet at the Ecuadorian embassy in London curdled as Assange did, his pronouncements–”The surest escape from the mundane is to teleport into the tragic realm”—his behavior and his morals trending more toward Alex Jones than any recognizable journalist. That was his intention: “We come not to save journalism but to destroy it,” he told a New Yorker reporter two years ago.)

      Who he is scarcely matters. The outlets Wikileaks provided and the journalism it enabled does, though he unwittingly may be the very means of journalism’s destruction at Donald Trump’s hands. You could always rely on the Trump Administration to overreact. It’s doing so in this case, not by protecting secrets, but by declaring war on journalists. Trump has spoken several times of wanting to rewrite libel laws and demolish long-standing First Amendment standards, even those that apply to speech about politicians. Maybe this is his way to challenge the law and get a radical ruling from his new buddies on the Supreme Court. It’s a potential calamity for the First Amendment and a free press.

    • Jeremy Hunt Works That Rogue State Status

      Professor Melzer is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. Professor Melzer is Swiss. He is an extremely distinguished lawyer and Professor of International Law at the University of Glasgow in addition to Professor of International Humanitarian Law at the Geneva Academy. He served 12 years as a Red Cross Delegate. There is no doubting either Professor Melzer’s expertise or his independence in this matter.

      When Professor Melzer says that “UK courts have not shown the objectivity and impartiality required by law”, people should sit up and listen. I have detailed judge Michael Snow calling Assange a “narcissistic personality” in a brief hearing in which Assange had said virtually nothing but “not guilty”, on the basis of prejudice Snow brought with him into the courtroom. Snow convicted him summarily of bail jumping and sentenced him to a virtually unprecedented 50 weeks. I have detailed Judge Arbuthnot, wife of a former Tory Defence Minister who co-owns a company with a former Head of MI6, mocking Assange and saying he can get all the exercise his health required on a Juliet balcony, as she dismissed a motion to have the bail charges dropped. I have detailed Judge Phillips of the Supreme Court choosing to rely on the French text and discount the English text of a treaty in arguing extradition was in order.

      The bias of the British courts has been palpable and stinking. Hunt’s response to being called out, by saying the UN “should allow British courts to make their judgements”, is a nonsense. British judges have shown themselves to be utterly untrustworthy.

      For almost ten years I have been documenting the incredible abuses of legal process and the barefaced displays of malevolent prejudice by the British judges who have been at the sharp end of the state’s persecution of Julian Assange. Yesterday I recommended an excellent summary of it all by Jonathan Cook. Yet every single episode has been entirely misrepresented by the corporate and state media to the extent that the ordinary population of the UK has been brainwashed into unthinking hatred of Assange. Those of us who have tried to explain the true situation have been systematically traduced by the state and “mainstream” media.

    • UN Special Rapporteur On Torture: ‘The Collective Persecution Of Julian Assange Must End Here And Now’

      In a blistering statement against democratic countries collaborating to prosecute and enable the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture condemned the “collective persecution” against him.

      “In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence, and political persecution, I have never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize, and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law,” Nils Melzer declared.

      On May 9, Melzer visited the Belmarsh prison, where Assange is confined. Two medical experts, who specialize in examining potential victims of torture and abuse, accompanied Melzer and conducted a medical assessment.

      “Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety, and intense psychological trauma,” one expert concluded.

      The expert added, “[He] has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.”

      The abusive treatment of Assange by the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, and Ecuador was condemned by the expert, who mentioned that they “seriously deplore the consistent failure of all involved governments to take measures for the protection of his most fundamental human rights and dignity.”

    • Sri Lankan Refugee Family That Hid Snowden in Hong Kong Now Trapped in Limbo

      The bipartisan vengeance of the US government and it’s pervasive intelligence apparatus, on display currently in its rabid hounding of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, appears to know no bounds.

      But as ugly as the full-court effort to bag Assange, already trapped by US the combined efforts of complicity government in Britain and Sweden and by US economic pressure on the government of Ecuador, are, what it is doing here to a lowly and powerless Sri Lankan refugee family is even worse.

      For six years, all the way back to 2013, members of the Kellapatha family have been prevented from uniting in Canada, where they had been seeking permanent asylum from oppression in their native Sri Lanka, with some members already in Canada, and others trapped in limbo here in this Special Administrative Region metropolis on China’s southern coast.

      Their problem? Back in 2013, at the request of their Hong Kong immigration lawyer Robert Tibbo, generously offered their tiny home in Hong Kong as shelter to another refugee from state repression named Edward Snowden.

      Snowden, the famous US National Security Agency contractor who blew the whistle and the lid off of the NSA’s massive and ubiquitous internet and telecommunications spying operation by releasing tens of millions of files on the program to the media, was on the run from US law enforcement and ended up trapped for weeks in Hong Kong, where he was forced to hide from authorities even to the extent of putting his shut-town electronic devices in a refrigerator to prevent them from being tracked down by NSA technology.

      While initially carefully protected from exposure, the family was eventually tracked down and publicly exposed in 2016 for their act of humanitarian generosity to another threatened refugee after release of the biopic film “Snowden.”

      Since then, they have found Canada to be unresponsive to their at that point still pending application for asylum.

    • Shattering the Context of War

      The U.S. government protects itself, not democracy. That’s what is most apparent about its 18-count indictment of Julian Assange, not to mention the ongoing imprisonment of Chelsea Manning, for the leaking and release of State Department and military documents and videos a decade ago.

      The current reporting on the indictment is mostly about Assange himself: his expulsion from the Ecuadoran embassy in London after he’d been holed up there for seven years; the sexual assault charges against him in Sweden; and, of course, his role as a “tool” of the Russians, along with his flip-flopping appeal to both the political left and right (depending on the nature of the controversy WikiLeaks is stirring up). What a story!

      Almost entirely missing is anything about the leaks themselves, except vague references to them, such as this comment by John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security: “This release made our adversaries stronger and more knowledgeable, and the United States less secure.”

      These words are remarkable bullshit and have resonance only to the extent that the actual leaked data is missing from the discussion, such as the infamous Apache helicopter video of 11 unarmed men (in U.S. military parlance, “insurgents”) — including a Reuters photographer and his driver — being shot and killed from above on a street in Baghdad, and two children being injured.

    • Chelsea Manning’s Legal Team Challenge Harsh Fines Levied Against Her By Federal Court

      The legal team for Chelsea Manning requested a hearing to challenge the harsh fines levied to force her to testify before the grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

      On May 16, Judge Anthony Trenga held Manning in civil contempt and ordered her to be sent back to the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria. The court also imposed a fine of $500 per day after 30 days, and then a fine of $1000 per day after 60 days.

      If Manning “persists in her refusal” for the next 16 months, her legal team points out she will face a total amount of fines that is over $440,000. This excessive amount may violate her Eighth Amendment rights under the Constitution.

      Manning’s legal team contends the court should launch an “inquiry” into the “punitive impact” of the fines, and she should not be subject to fines as well as jail.

      Furthemore, the motion asserts there is no “appropriate coercive sanction” because Manning will never testify. She should be released from jail and relieved of all fines.

      “Ms. Manning has publicly articulated the moral basis for her refusal to comply with the grand jury subpoena, in statements to the press, in open court, and most recently, in a letter addressed to this court,” her attorneys state. “She is suffering physically and psychologically, and is at the time of this writing in the process of losing her home as a result of her present confinement.”

      “She has made clear she prefers to become homeless rather than betray her principles. Her intransigence, at this point, is not reasonably in question. What is in doubt, however, is the government’s need for her testimony,” they add.

      Assange was indicted on 17 charges of violating the Espionage Act sometime between May 14 and May 16—before Manning had her second contempt hearing for refusing to testify.

    • JULIAN ASSANGE SUFFERING ‘PSYCHOLOGICAL TORTURE’ BY BRITAIN, US, AUSTRALIA, SAYS UN
    • Calling Treatment of Julian Assange ‘Psychological Torture,’ UN Expert Demands End to US Extradition Attempt

      After visiting Julian Assange in the London prison where he is serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail, a United Nations expert warned Friday that the WikiLeaks founder is showing “all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture” and demanded an end to U.S. extradition attempts.

      In a statement, Nils Meltzer—the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture—issued a scathing rebuke of the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ecuador, and Sweden for their treatment of Assange, who was reportedly too ill to appear via video at a scheduled extradition hearing on Thursday.

    • Chutzpah, Corporate Media Style

      American politics is awash in hypocrisy. It always has been, but the problem has become worse in recent years, mainly, but not only, since Donald Trump became president of the United States.

      The level of hypocrisy surrounding, say, charges of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election is staggering, but it seldom rises to the level of genuine, unadulterated chutzpah. There is a family resemblance, but the difference, though difficult to articulate, is readily discernible. Like “obscenity” for Justice Potter Stewart, you can’t define it, but you know it when you see it.

      Therefore, it is not exactly news that“chutzpah” doesn’t translate well into English. “Unmitigated gall” doesn’t quite cut it, and that is about as close as the English language gets.

      The term is usually explained not by definitions, but by stories: for example, the famous one about the little boy convicted of killing his parents who threw himself on the mercy of the court on the grounds that he is an orphan.

      The run-up to Russiagate, and then Russiagate itself, provide other examples worth pondering.

      To hear Democrats and their media flacks tell it, Russiagate was the big story of the 2016 election. They seem only to have discovered this in retrospect, however. As late as Election Day, the story line was only beginning to take shape.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • One of the largest environmental protests ever is underway. It’s led by children.

      Activists have their sights set on an even bigger global strike on September 20. That will come during the United Nations General Assembly, where Secretary General António Guterres will convene an international climate summit. Thunberg said she wants adults to join the next round of protests. “There are many different plans under way in different parts of the world for adults to join together and step up and out of your comfort zone for our climate,” she wrote. “This is about crossing lines — it’s about rebelling wherever one can rebel.”

    • It’s Not Entirely Up to School Students to Save the World

      Obviously, it’s not that simple for everyone: some bosses would fire you; too many people can’t live without a day’s wages; and firefighters can’t very well take a day off. That just increases the urgency for people who can act. The strikes may take a while to catch on, just as the school students’ strikes did. But, if the momentum builds, there’s a chance that we can shift the Zeitgeist toward the quick and transformative kind of action that science demands. We need to try. There’s something fundamentally undignified about leaving our troubles to school kids to resolve. It’s time for the elders to act like elders.

    • Sydney to get water restrictions this Saturday for first time in a decade

      “Basically with the lack of rain, with the lowest inflows into Sydney water storages since 1940, the Government has come to the decision that it is best to go into water restrictions,” Water Minister Melinda Pavey said.

    • Sydney’s water restrictions to kick in from June 1 as big dry worsens

      The formal trigger for such restrictions is when dam levels hit 50 per cent. On Tuesday, they were at 53.5 per cent – and losing 0.5 percentage points per week – down almost half in two years, according to WaterNSW.

    • Water restrictions to be enforced in Sydney

      However, there will be a three-month grace period before fines of $220 for individuals and $550 for businesses are imposed.

    • Why Sydney residents use 30% more water per day than Melburnians

      Water is far more expensive in Melbourne, which has variable pricing for residential water. The more water you use, the higher the progressive cost per litre.

      Each of Melbourne’s three water retailers charge more money for low and high water usage. For example, Yarra Valley Water charges A$2.64 (per 1,000 litres) for water use less than 440 litres a day. For more than 881 litres a day it charges A$4.62, which is 75% higher than the lowest water use charge. For intermediate amounts the charge is A$3.11. This sends an important price signal to residents – it pays to conserve water. In comparison, Sydney charges a flat rate for each litre of water, with no penalty for higher water users.

      Sydney is not alone in charging a flat price for residential water use. So do Darwin and Hobart. Canberra has the highest charge for higher water users (A$4.88 per 1,000 litres).

    • Shy fish no bigger than a pinkie provide much of the food in coral reefs

      These tiny species, called cryptobenthic fishes, may not look as if they amount to much among all the fishes swimming around reefs, says coral reef ecologist Simon Brandl. But new analyses show that these little species are like snack bowls that get quickly replenished. What keeps up the supply of snack-sized fishes is a stay-near-home tendency among many of their larvae, Brandl and colleagues propose online May 23 in Science.

    • Philippines Passes Bill Requiring Students to Plant 10 Trees Before Graduating

      House Bill 8728, or the ‘Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act’, has been proposed by two representatives, Gary Alejano and Strike Revilla. The bill is now to be passed on to the Senate for approval.

    • House passes bill requiring graduating students to plant 10 trees on final reading

      House Bill 8728, or the “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act,” is principally authored by MAGDALO Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and Cavite 2nd District Representative Strike Revilla.

      “With over 12 million students graduating from elementary and nearly five million students graduating from high school and almost 500,000 graduating from college each year, this initiative, if properly implemented, will ensure that at least 175 million new trees would be planted each year. In the course of one generation, no less than 525 billion can be planted under this initiative,” Alejano explained in the bill’s explanatory note. “Even with a survival rate of only 10 percent, this would mean an additional 525 million trees would be available for the youth to enjoy, when they assume the mantle of leadership in the future.”

    • Is Climbing Mt Everest Ethical?

      Back to Everest, more than a third of those who have died on Mt Everest are Sherpas. Some claim that Sherpa’s job is the most deadly on Earth. They are there in much greater numbers than people from other countries, but more importantly, they spend much more time in the death zone.

    • Is Climbing Mt Everest Ethical?

      Back to Everest, more than a third of those who have died on Mt Everest are Sherpas. Some claim that Sherpa’s job is the most deadly on Earth. They are there in much greater numbers than people from other countries, but more importantly, they spend much more time in the death zone.

    • Schwarzenegger teams up with activist Greta Thunberg at climate summit

      Most people have no clue about the scale of the climate emergency because they “have not been told, or more importantly, told by the right people,” said Thunberg, who has inspired millions of young people across the globe to participate in the Fridays for the Future school strikes.

      People listen to, and are influenced by, politicians, celebrities, CEOs and journalists, giving them enormous responsibility, she told a top climate summit in the Austrian capital Vienna.

      “And let’s be honest, this is a responsibility most of you have failed to take,” she told the high-level crowd. “We are humans… We are a part of nature. We are social animals. We are naturally drawn to our leaders.”

      “You cannot rely on people reading between the lines or searching for the information themselves” about detailed climate change issues, Thunberg said, calling for an entire change in the way society deals with the issue.

    • Greta Thunberg Schooled World Leaders Again and Called On Everyone to Climate Strike at R20 Summit

      Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen who was the spark that lit the global movement of student climate strikes, told world leaders they’ve failed to address climate change and called on adults to join student strikers. The 16-year-old spoke twice at the R20 Austrian World Summit in Vienna on Tuesday, May 28 — once to world leaders inside the conference, organized by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and again outside, to a crowd of people in Vienna.

      “This is, above all, an emergency — and not just an emergency. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. This is not something you can like on Facebook,” Greta told the assembled dignitaries at the event inside. “Presidents, celebrities, politicians, CEOs, and journalists: People listen to you. They are influenced by you. And therefore, you have an enormous responsibility. And let’s be honest: This is a responsibility that most of you have failed to take.”

    • New York City’s War on Bikes Is Dangerous for Workers and the Environment

      In essence, regardless of how safe e-bikes are right now, existing research tells us that in order to make e-bikes safe, we need a place to put them on the streets. The solution isn’t policing e-bikes. It’s building cities that are more friendly to bikes and less friendly to cars.

      The transportation sector is one of the most pollution-heavy industries on earth. According to the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international panel of scientists dedicated to studying climate change, the sector accounts for 14 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. And emissions aren’t going down. Between 2000 and 2010, emissions from the transportation sector went up 11 percent.

      Last year, De Blasio committed to fully divesting the city from fossil fuels by 2023. But City Hall said the Comptroller’s Office has yet to hire a consultant to make specific divestment plans, and it’s crucial to make changes to city transportation systems in order to lower emissions.

    • A Sea Of Sagebrush Disappears, Making Way For Fire-Prone Cheatgrass

      Cheatgrass is an invasive grass with shallow roots and an aggressive, can-do survival strategy that helps it out-compete native plants like sagebrush and bunch grass. Cows will eat it for a short while when it’s first greening up in the early spring, but then want nothing to do with it when it dries out and turns the hillsides to golden tinder, ready to burn.

      Unlike sagebrush, which tends to burn every 50 to 100 years, cheatgrass burns every five to 10, and regrows faster after a fire.

      So, more fire means more cheatgrass and more cheatgrass means more fire.

      “And each time that fire gets a little bit bigger, gobbles up a little bit more native vegetation and so the cycle is perpetuating,” said Jolie Pollet, a fire manager with the Bureau of Land Management in Boise, Idaho.

    • What if Reporters Covered the Climate Crisis Like Edward R. Murrow Covered the Start of World War II?

      With no silver bullet, what do we do? We cooperate as kindred spirits on a mission of public service. We create partnerships to share resources. We challenge media owners and investors to act in the public interest. We keep the whole picture in our heads—how melting ice sheets in the Arctic can create devastation in the Midwest—and connect the dots for our readers, viewers, and listeners. We look every day at photographs of our children and grandchildren, to be reminded of the stakes. And we tell the liars, deniers, and do-nothings to shove off: There’s no future in nay-saying.

    • Biden under pressure from environmentalists on climate plan

      Biden’s position on climate could open him up to further attacks from the left wing of the party and create an obstacle to winning the party’s nomination, especially since the environment is the main concern for liberal voters.

    • European Elections: Leaders Need to Listen to Youth Like Us on the Climate Crisis

      While it may seem like an expression of optimistic, youthful exuberance, the idea of a better world is not childish. In our view, society has been working on the wrong beliefs, ethics, and values for a long time. We see capitalism, overconsumption, and individualism driving us, and we are destroying more and more of nature— and each other — because society doesn’t think systematically.

      We have to think about global systems that worsen climate change and measure the impact they have on our own lives, but also on the climate, air, water, animal species, and our fellow human beings. This means a structural change in our economies. We want to see evidence that those in charge care more about the earth and the people living on it than they do about money.

    • For the Midwest, Epic Flooding Is the Face of Climate Change

      In 2015, researchers at the University of Iowa parsed historical records of peak discharges from more than 700 stream gauge stations across the Midwest. Their analysis, reported in Nature, found that between 1962 and 2011, the magnitude of flood events hadn’t changed much. At a third of the locations, however, the number of floods was trending upward significantly.

    • Finland Is Warming at Twice the Global Rate

      In this edition of The Interview, Fair Observer talks to Satu Hassi, Finland’s former environment minister, about the northern European nation’s fight against climate change and its government’s policies to tackle global warming.

      The interview was conducted at the end of 2018. The text has been lightly edited for clarity.

    • A Growing Problem: Agriculture, Climate, and Trump [iophk: "it won't matter in a few years: the good soil is already being built over in many countries"]

      Just looking into soil preparation to grow crops opened up a huge can of worms, touching on so many different issues.

      Like culture — is some of the bias against no-till based in cultural identity which may prove resistant to change whether about farming techniques, agricultural policy, or the Green New Deal?

      Like education — how will we ever develop more and better approaches to efficient, fossil fuel-free crop production without more and better education?

      Like economics — can we provide enough incentives to pay farmers an offset for their reduced yields until they become practiced at no-till and other conservation farming techniques? Can we do it with carbon offsets?

      Like politics — can we push back against Big Ag and Big Pharma so that farmers can migrate toward more aggressive conservation farming without corporate-captured policy working against them?

      The worst part of this dive — which is by no means comprehensive and probably shot through with errors of my own understanding — is that the clock is ticking. We don’t have much time, like a handful of years. We don’t have enough research and we’re fighting the highly toxic combination of ignorance, bias, corporatism, and corruption to overcome this insufficiency.

    • As palm oil production ramps up in Africa, communities work to avoid problems plaguing other regions

      “Palm oil companies will not just displace [people in affected communities], but their culture, their history, their value, their traditional institutions, will all be completely altered,” says Alfred Brownell, founder of the Liberian lawyers network Green Advocates and currently a distinguished scholar in residence at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston. He lives in the United States in exile out of fear for his life, after he says he was threatened by private security guards protecting land being cleared of sacred sites to make way for palm oil development in Liberia. But he has represented indigenous communities in Liberia’s Sinoe County, where residents say that since the palm oil company Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) arrived in 2010, crops have been destroyed, shrines desecrated, burial grounds and grave sites denigrated, rivers diverted or dammed and precious wetland areas polluted.

    • World’s Biggest Palm Oil Planter Is Running Out of Space at Home

      The search for assets halfway across the world comes not only at a time when the industry is being plagued by weak palm prices, but also as intensifying global scrutiny over deforestation hamstrings the plantations that are predominantly in Southeast Asia. With Malaysia committing to stop expanding plantations, Sime Darby, the industry’s largest grower by acreage, has had to travel as far as Liberia and Papua New Guinea for more land to harvest.

    • Indonesia calls on palm oil industry, obscured by secrecy, to remain opaque

      The move away from transparency and toward greater opacity for an industry already widely criticized for a litany of problems — from deforestation to land grabbing to labor rights abuses — marks a setback in the pursuit for sustainability, said Asep Komarudin, a forest campaigner with Greenpeace Indonesia

      “While the more progressive parts of the industry are starting to try and clean up the palm oil sector, the government is actively blocking transparency efforts, destroying the chance for the palm oil industry to clean up its reputation and undermining any work by Indonesia to meet its climate targets,” he said

    • The UN Is Very Worried That a “Radioactive Coffin” May Be Leaking Into The Ocean
    • UN chief concerned nuclear ‘coffin’ leaking in Pacific

      The “coffin” is a concrete dome, built in the late 1970s on Runit island, part of Enewetak atoll, as a dumping ground for waste from the nuclear tests.

      Radioactive soil and ash from the explosions was tipped into a crater and capped with a concrete dome 45 centimetres (18 inches) thick.

      However, it was only envisaged as a temporary fix and the bottom of the crater was never lined leading to fears the waste is leaching into the Pacific.

    • Australian voters are increasingly concerned about climate change

      Few rich countries are as severely affected by climate change as Australia. Storms and cyclones strike the tropical north with increasing ferocity, and droughts are hitting harder and for longer. Since the last federal vote, warming waters have killed much of the Great Barrier Reef.

      This summer seemed particularly apocalyptic. A million native fish washed up dead in the Darling river, part of Australia’s longest river system, which is drying out. Flooding in northern Queensland killed several people and half a million cattle. Fires ripped through the southern island of Tasmania, destroying ancient forests.

    • Climate change may be intensifying China’s smog crisis

      Changing weather patterns linked to rising global temperatures have resulted in a dearth of wind across northern China, according to several recent studies, exacerbating a wave of severe pollution that has been blamed for millions of premature deaths. Wind usually helps blow away smog, but changes in weather patterns in recent decades have left many of China’s most populous cities poorly ventilated, scientists say.

    • Dead whale washed ashore in Italy with stomach full of plastic

      “I was not prepared for the amount of plastic. 40 kilos [88 pounds] roughly of rice sacks, grocery bags, banana plantation bags, and general plastic bags,” one scientist said at the time of the discovery. “Sixteen rice sacks total. It was so big, the plastic was beginning calcification.”

    • Islands in West Papua to ban plastic bags

      The head of the local environment authority, Iwan Ismulyanto, said the ban will be effective from 1 June.

    • Nearly every country in the world approves pact to reduce plastic pollution, except the U.S.

      Rolph Payet of the United Nations Environment Program said the “historic” agreement linked to the 186-country, U.N.-supported Basel Convention means that countries will have to monitor and track the movements of plastic waste outside their borders.

    • Now Ocean Plastics Could Be Killing Oxygen-Making Bacteria

      Now scientists have exposed a potential new consequence of the plastic menace: The toxins the material leaches into seawater inhibit the growth and photosynthetic efficiency of the bacteria Prochlorococcus, which is responsible for producing an estimated 20 percent of the oxygen we breathe. That means Prochlorococcus is also responsible for 20 percent of carbon capture on this planet (one molecule of carbon goes in, one molecule of oxygen goes out), theoretically spelling trouble for humanity’s quest to keep CO2 out of the atmosphere. This is early research that comes with several big caveats, and also exposes the challenges of studying a threat as new and omnipresent as plastic pollution.

    • East Timor to become world’s first plastic-neutral country

      In a region where seas are awash with trash, East Timor is set to become the world’s first country to recycle all its plastic waste after it teamed up with Australian researchers on Friday to build a revolutionary recycling plant.

      The US$40-million plant will ensure that no plastic, once used in the Southeast Asian nation, would become waste, but would instead be turned into new products.

    • East Timor at the forefront of fixing the global recycling crisis

      The ground-breaking Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (or Cat-HTR) plant, which will cost about $57.7 million to build if and when funding is secured, breaks down plastic waste into tiny pieces and allows it to be used again to create new plastics, hard waxes or fuels.

    • Abdicating climate leadership harms America’s security interests in Arctic

      Pompeo’s remarks focused on the need to counter growing Chinese and Russian influence over the region as the Arctic becomes more navigable. But he failed to acknowledge that the very reason our adversaries are seeking advantage in the Arctic is the changing climate­ — with melting sea ice, rising temperatures and collapsing permafrost. For the first time ever, the Arctic Council — which is dominated by America’s allies — failed to produce a comminque, or a joint declaration of priorities, because the U.S. refused to sign even a watered-down version of the document.

      This is what a leadership vacuum looks like, and America’s adversaries are rapidly filling that void.

    • Water every 10 days: The families on the front line of India’s environmental crisis

      They are given 600 liters (158.5 gallons) per household — barely enough to survive on until the next rations arrive.

      India is facing the worst water crisis in its history, with 600 million people dealing with high to extreme water shortages, according to a recent report by Niti Aayog, a policy think tank for the Indian government. An average of 200,000 Indian lives are lost every year due to inadequate supply or contamination of water.

      Twenty-one major Indian cities are estimated to run out of groundwater by 2020 — just a year away. As India develops and grows to support its 1.3 billion people, those on the front lines of the crisis say it’s only going to get worse.

    • Dead Whales Are Washing Up in Droves on California’s Beaches

      “If the ice melts too early, not enough phytoplankton food will sink to the sea floor and the amphipod populations could decrease,” Guazzo said. Over the past 30 years, scientists have seen amphipod populations—and, as a result, gray whale feeding grounds—move farther north, extending the distance of the whales’ migration route.

      In a statement, the Marine Mammal Center also blamed overfishing for reducing prey availability.

    • After 14 Years, The US’s Longest Offshore Oil Spill Is Finally Starting to Be ‘Contained’

      Luttrell entered into a contract with Couvillion last year after the company responsible for the spill, Taylor Energy, failed to follow her orders to do so on its own.

      The system’s success could be a serious setback to Taylor Energy’s efforts to stop the containment effort. The company filed a federal lawsuit in December, claiming that Couvillion lacked the expertise to install a system to capture oil leaking from its wells. They broke open when Hurricane Ivan caused the walls of a deep sea canyon to collapse and sink an oil platform.

      In a separate lawsuit, the company also claimed that Luttrell’s order to mount a more aggressive response to the spill was rash.

    • Oil Spill Seeping Into Gulf Of Mexico Contained After 14 Years, Coast Guard Says

      “We sued, we discussed, we pressured and perhaps finally the Gulf has won if this huge leak is stopped,” Marylee Orr, executive director of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network/Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, one of the groups leading the initial lawsuit against Taylor Energy, told NPR.

      According to the court documents, more than 30,000 gallons of oil have been collected since the new collection system was installed.

      Estimates of how much oil was leaking have varied widely, from as low as 1 barrel to 100 barrels’ worth of oil each day.

    • An Uncommon Victory for an Indigenous Tribe in the Amazon

      On April 26th, a parade of hundreds of Waorani men and women, members of an indigenous nation in a remote part of the Ecuadorian Amazon, marched triumphantly through the streets of Puyo, the regional capital of the eastern province of Pastaza. Many had come from villages in parts of the rain forest that have no roads—journeying by canoe and small plane. They were celebrating a new court ruling, which held that the Ecuadorian government could not, as it had planned, auction off their land for oil exploration without their consent. Nemonte Nenquimo, a Waorani leader, told me that they had come to Puyo to reclaim their right to self-governance and that the verdict had made them feel safer. “The court recognized that the government violated our right to live free, and make our own decisions about our territory and self determination,” she said, over WhatsApp. “Our territory is our decision, and now, since we are owners, we are not going to let oil enter and destroy our natural surroundings and kill our culture.”

    • How Indigenous Peoples Won a Landmark Victory Protecting the Amazon From Oil Drilling

      On May 16, hundreds of Indigenous peoples traveled from different regions of the Ecuadorian Amazon to the capital city of Quito to demand respect for the April 26 historic court ruling, in which the Waorani people of Ecuador successfully defended half a million acres of Indigenous territory in the Amazon rainforest from oil drilling. Coming after two weeks of deliberations, the landmark decision by the three-judge panel of the Pastaza Provincial Court immediately and indefinitely suspended plans to auction around 180,000 hectares of Indigenous Waorani territory to oil companies. It represents a major setback for the Ecuadorian government.

      The total land area that the ruling protects, at least for now, is much larger even than the land that was up for auction. According to Amazon Frontlines, a nonprofit advocacy group that assisted the Waorani’s legal case, “The verdict also disrupts the contemplated auctioning of 16 oil blocks that cover over 7 million acres of Indigenous territory by providing an invaluable legal precedent for other Indigenous nations across the Ecuadorian Amazon.”

      At the May 16 mobilization in Quito, Indigenous groups also denounced the government’s statements following the ruling. “We hope that in the appeal that sentence can be reversed,” said Minister of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources Carlos Perez. Disregarding Indigenous autonomy and rights, Perez added: “It is not possible to make regional or local decisions about certain things that have a national impact as in the case of hydrocarbons and mining.” In their ruling, the judges stood by the standards of the Constitutional Court of Ecuador and international law. Decisions about Indigenous territory simply cannot be made by the central government unilaterally.

    • Sanders Leads Top 2020 Contenders on Greenpeace Climate Scorecard While Biden Places Dead Last

      “In Congress, Sen. Sanders co-sponsored the ’100 by 50 Act’ and ‘Keep It In the Ground Act’ to cut off federal support for coal, oil, and gas while ushering in 100 percent clean energy by 2050,” said Greenpeace, which ranked candidates on the basis of their support for the Green New Deal, commitment to rejecting fossil fuel cash, and other metrics.

      “Sen. Sanders co-sponsored the Green New Deal resolution and has pledged to halt new federal fossil fuel projects if elected—but has yet to call for a full, managed phase-out of the fossil fuel industry,” Greenpeace said. “He also has yet to put forth a detailed plan to tackle the climate crisis. Keep it comin’, Sen. Sanders!”

      Biden, by contrast, has neither backed the Green New Deal resolution nor taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, a vow to reject “any contributions over $200 from the PACs, lobbyists, or executives of fossil fuel companies.”

      Greenpeace said that while Biden—who received a D- grade—”introduced the first-ever climate bill in Congress back in 1987, he has yet to release a plan that tackles the climate crisis if elected in 2020.”

    • These 4 Arguments Can’t Overcome the Facts About Carbon Offsets for Forest Preservation

      These initiatives — known as REDD, or Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation — allow polluters to offset a portion of their carbon emissions by paying to preserve trees that would otherwise have been cut down (some also reward preservation without giving others permission to pollute). In concept, at least, REDD offers an elegant, win-win solution for slowing climate change, preserving fragile ecosystems without sacrificing economic prosperity.

      But our story — based on firsthand observation of the world’s most renowned REDD program in the Brazilian state of Acre, interviews with dozens of scientists and a review of thousands of pages of studies, technical documents and other literature — presented evidence that, in actuality, such ventures have a poor record of delivering the emissions reductions and forest preservation they promise.

      Experts in the field are well aware of REDD’s dubious record over a 10-year period. Yet in an outpouring of tweets, press releases and personal messages, proponents insisted it just hasn’t been given the money, support and time it needs to succeed. “REDD is still basically in preschool, and you treat it like it’s just failed its sophomore year in college,” read one email from Neal Dikeman, a Libertarian who recently ran against Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke for a Texas Senate seat.

    • Remote, Barely Inhabited Islands Are Drowning in Millions of Pieces of Plastic Trash, Scientists Discover

      Scientists who surveyed the sparsely populated Cocos (Keeling) Islands, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, estimate it is dotted with 414 million pieces of plastic weighing up to 262 tons. The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

      The researchers documented the number of microdebris—measuring between 2 and 5 millimeters—and larger pieces, like wood, metal and plastic, on 25 beaches in 2017. The detritus littering the islands included approximately 977,000 shoes and 373,000 toothbrushes. Other disposable items, such as straws and plastic bags, were found to make up around a quarter of the total debris. And some 93 percent of all pieces were buried up to 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) under the sand.

    • Plastic Is Just as Destructive to the Climate as Oil and Gas

      The phenomenon of climate change invokes images of black smoke billowing out of smokestacks, emissions from exhaust pipes on an endless highway of bumper-to-bumper traffic, or the insect-like cranes of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and drilling operations dotting the landscape. We do not view our plastic shopping bags as part of the climate crisis — but we should. And just as the thirst for fossil fuel energy is an ugly symptom of runaway capitalism, so is plastic production and use. Both arise from the same problematic system, and both contribute to the same existential crisis humanity faces.

      Plastic pervades every aspect of our modern lives. From the keys that I tap on my laptop as I write this piece to the lid on my coffee shop latté, the packaging of the individually wrapped cookies on the countertop, and even the lenses on my sunglasses. While we may worry about the pollution that plastic — especially the disposable variety — creates in clogging our landfills, choking our marine life, entering our food chain and disrupting our endocrine systems, we are likely not considering the role of plastic production and disposal on climate change. There is indeed a direct link between the devastating tornadoes in the Midwest this week and the 128 billion plastic bottles that Coca-Cola churns out every year.

    • The Climate Crisis Likely Caused Mass Die-Off of Puffins

      “Mass mortality events (MMEs) are increasing in frequency and magnitude, potentially linked with ongoing climate change,” the team, led by Timothy Jones, a marine ecologist at the University of Washington, said in a paper published on Wednesday in PLOS ONE.

      “Seabird MMEs are perhaps one of the most frequently occurring and widely reported types of MME in the literature.”

    • Climate Change and Biodiversity Should Be Top Headline News

      When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report in October warning of how quickly we’re advancing toward irreversible climate chaos, it led the news—for a day. A massive study in May by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services about rapid wildlife extinction met a similar fate.

      In Canada, issues like legalization of recreational cannabis pushed aside the climate report, and news about the birth of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s baby buried the biodiversity report everywhere.

      In early April, I read front-page stories in the Vancouver Sun about Brexit and the SNC-Lavalin scandal. The third page had a single column headlined, “Grim climate report released,” about an Environment and Climate Change Canada review by 43 scientists showing Canada is warming at twice the global average rate, even faster in the North.

    • CO2 Concentration Is Higher Than Ever in Human History

      Neil Kaye, a climate data scientist with the U.K.’s meteorological office, generated a stunning graphic allowing people to see what percentage of global fossil fuel emissions have occurred in their lifetimes.

      You can view the graphic here. If you are 40 years old, 65 percent of all global fossil fuel emissions have been released in your lifetime, and if you are 85 years of age, the amount is over 90 percent.

      Kaye produced another stunning graphic demonstrating the global acceleration of atmospheric CO2 content, which can be viewed here.

      In the last decade, more CO2 emissions have been released into the atmosphere than any other decade in history.
      An animation produced by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences shows how the current dramatic rise of CO2 in the atmosphere is unparalleled in Earth’s history dating back hundreds of thousands of years, based on ice-core data.

      And there are, unfortunately, no signs of this acceleration abating.

    • The Media Have Missed a Crucial Message of the UN’s Biodiversity Report

      It is no mere coincidence that the 5 percent of the global population that are Indigenous are responsible for 80 percent of Earth’s biodiversity. The summary of the report says as much. Throughout it are references to the importance of Indigenous “paradigms, goals and values” along with examples of the “wide diversity of practices” that help nurture biodiversity. There is no denying, the authors write, that the destructive extinction trends, so visible across the planet, “have been less severe or avoided in areas held or managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities…. Nature managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities is under increasing pressure but is generally declining less rapidly than in other lands.”

    • A Million Extinctions Eclipsed by One Royal Grandbaby

      As many as 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades — according to the scientists and researchers behind a new UN report. The assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the most comprehensive review to date of the damage humans are causing to biodiversity.

    • Building the Sustainable Community: Reconciliation and “Sticking” Over Rights and Flight

      Louie is a parole officer with 3 years to go until retirement, a non-conformist thinker I’ve always thought of as “anarchist material,” though lacking a political philosophy as far as I know. He tells me once retired he is going to leave the U.S. for anywhere else. Everywhere he’s been – a half dozen countries or so – is better than here. Here, he says (meaning Utica, and the decidedly Trump-loving people who dominate his workplace), he cannot talk to anyone. I’m thinking, mulling this over, that my adult life has evolved and revealed its shape in the same environment but on its liberal end – in which I cannot talk to anyone (with a very few exceptions). Increasingly I decline to, because of the frustration of finding myself to be an “other” in liberal reality. Does Louie not know that this painful isolation and fragmentation is our post-industrial condition? Some of us consciously suffer it, others bypass it through accepting, in exchange for real community, bourgeois society’s increasingly pitiful rewards (Caribbean cruise, anyone? Netflix? ) Exiting-the-patria, like suicide, always is a choice for the one who despairs, perhaps an honorable one, though I cannot see how.

      With the precedent set by the companies and corporations that abandon our upstate communities when, following their profit imperative it is in their interest to do so, why should people be loyal to places or to each other? Though I can perfectly well imagine how that dream of the reward of escape can entice, after one has fulfilled one’s duty to the job, still I marvel (gasp?) at the complete lack of any moral considerations within neoliberal reality for making such decisions. Far from faulting Louie, I’m saying this is simply our context, which is nihilistic and inhuman.

      [...]

      Prophetic journalists like Dahr Jamail and Robert Hunsiker who see the dark truth of approaching climate collapse, species extinctions, etc., bring the information nobody wants: our collective stuckness on a doomed planet is a fact. It remains to be seen if – even if too late – more of us can become consciously stuck, and take up once again the humanizing work of building local lives in place over time. Must we not now adapt ourselves to that darker reality rather than keep pretending that if we can just stay on the highway, off of sheer rock cliffs, the darkness isn’t there?

    • Putting Values Into Action

      Earlier in May, two North Carolina Republicans intro’d state legislation that would place obstacles in the path of renewable energy development. Senate Bill 843, sponsored by Senators William Cook and Andrew Brock, leaves anyone with even semi-decent cognitive functioning asking WTF(?). Despite the unquestionable obviousness of the why of that What, you still can shake your head no, no, no in amazement, outrage, disbelief.

      Senate Bill 843 mandates the location—a distance at least 1½ miles from a neighboring property line—of solar and wind facilities. Additionally, the bill requires that solar panels and wind turbines are concealed by landscaping, trees, shrubs, flowers. Because green energy is ugly, so ugly it must be hidden from view.

      In contrast to the beauty (gasp) of a coal plant, like the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill Coal Plant. This plant is near campus, adjacent to a residential neighborhood, a block from more residences and businesses, and a little over one mile from a public school. Someone told me the UNC Coal Plant meets industry safety standards. It doesn’t.

      When coal burns, the following toxins are released: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, mercury and lead. Exposure causes respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and neurological disorders. And the pollutants degrade our home, this planet Earth.

    • Dealing With Climate Fear

      I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way, but here goes: I can’t deal with climate change. I can’t read about it, I can’t watch documentaries on it, and I can’t think about it. I feel too powerless, and it hurts too much.

      The result feels like apathy, but it’s not that I don’t care. I care too much, and it hurts more than I can bear it. It hurts being afraid that everything I love about the world could come to an end, and that unknown masses of humans will suffer and die while millions of species go extinct. Even worse is the feeling that I can’t do anything about it.

      Denying that it’s happening would be easier. I know it would.

      I could decide whether or not I want to have children based on the usual factors (Would I make a good parent? Can I afford to raise a child?) without wondering whether I’ll be bringing a child into a world that will be a global hellscape by the time she reaches middle age.

      I could just drive my car the way I want to, without thinking about my impact on the planet, without feeling guilty for not taking public transportation or walking instead.

      If I buy a gas guzzling car or leave appliances on at home, the biggest consequence to consider would be whether it costs too much money.

      The truth is that it is really happening, so denying it is unproductive. But so is placing that much pressure and blame on myself — or on friends and neighbors also struggling with the issue.

    • Ecological Importance and Human Rights Be Damned, Trump Admin Says Fossil Fuel Pillaging in Arctic Refuge Coming Soon

      Environmental and indigenous activists are hoping to make sure the Trump administration’s promise to soon sell oil leases in the previously protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is never fulfilled.

      Republicans laid the groundwork for the fossil fuel leases in the refuge’s 1.6 million-acre coastal plain in a “deplorable” provision in their 2017 tax law. The administration followed through in December with a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for granting the leases. And with a final draft EIS expected in August, an administration official said Thursday that an oil sale would happen before the year’s over.

      Speaking at an oil industry conference in Anchorage, Interior Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Joe Balash said, “Once we have a final EIS, we will be in a position to issue a record of decision and notice of lease sale. And that lease sale will happen in 2019.”

      Among the issues at hand: the land is sacred to Gwich’in; it is the site of the planet’s longest land-based mammal migration—that of the porcupine caribou herd; extraction and exploration would disrupt other wildlife; and it would add fuel to the climate crisis.

    • Environmental Justice Activists Are Leading a Green New Deal Revolution

      Even among observers who accept the grave reality of climate change, the Green New Deal is often described as an “ambitious” if nohttps://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/05/31/ecological-importance-and-human-rights-be-damned-trump-admin-says-fossil-fuelt overly broad proposal for a massive public investment in green infrastructure, with the dual goals of slowing climate disruption while growing a more just economy.

      However, for Indigenous people and communities of color facing the impacts of toxic pollution and climate destruction head-on, the Green New Deal is more than a lofty resolution championed by progressives in Congress and picked apart by cable news pundits. For activists on the frontlines, the Green New Deal is a call to organize around their lived experience and lead the nation toward a sustainable future, and they are not waiting for lawmakers to act.

      “Let’s add something that is going to mitigate the effects of global warming…. This area could be filled with industries that fulfill the Green New Deal,” said Rev. Gregory Manning as he marched along the Mississippi River in the Louisiana petrochemical corridor known as Cancer Alley on Thursday.

      Manning, a pastor and community organizer from nearby New Orleans, was marching with about 50 other activists toward the Dupont-Denka chemical plant in St. John the Baptist Parish. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Air Toxics Assessment estimated that the risk of cancer in neighborhoods closest to the chemical plant in St. John the Baptist Parish reached nearly 800 times the national average — the highest rate in the nation.

      Manning is one of several clergy and environmental justice activists leading the March Against Death Alley, a five-day march that kicked off at an elementary school near the Dupont-Denka plant, and is currently making its way through the petrochemical corridor to the state capital in Baton Rouge. For years, the area has been nicknamed Cancer Alley due to the large amounts of toxic pollution spewed by dozens of refineries, plastics plants and petrochemical depots. After years of controversy over the cause of rare illnesses and cancer clusters, the federal government finally released data in 2015 showing that communities here face some of the highest risk of cancer from air pollution in the United States.

      Activists say people have died from the pollution here and have given Cancer Alley the new moniker, Death Alley. With the March Against Death Alley, they are demanding the Dupont-Denka plant further reduce emissions of chloroprene, a likely carcinogen blamed for illness and increased risk of cancer for residents. An elementary school is less than a half mile from the facility.

    • Breaking: Environmental Justice March Hits Road Block in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley

      On May 30, around 100 people took part on the first day of a planned five-day march for environmental justice in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley. Amid sweltering heat, the march kicked off in St. John the Baptist Parish, but extreme obstacles have developed on their route to Baton Rouge, about 50 miles away. Today a judge ruled that the organizers did not have permission to cross two bridges along the route.

    • Russiagate Trumps Environmental Catastrophe for the Dismal Democrats

      The essentially eco-exterminist attitude of the Trump administration was nicely epitomized two weeks ago when Trump’s Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told a House Democrat “I haven’t lost any sleep over” over reports that carbon’s atmospheric presence has reached 415 parts per million, the highest level in more than 800,000 years. Bernhardt is a longtime energy industry and agribusiness lobbyist charged, of all things, with the federal management and protection of the nation’s public lands and natural resources.

      In the absence of a dramatic transformation to renewable energy and sustainable practices (something more “radical” than the good starting point of a Green New Deal), we are now speeding towards a not-so historically distant termination point for the planet’s basic life-support systems. Last fall the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that humanity has twelve years to cut carbon pollution by half if it wants to avoid true catastrophe. We are racing towards tipping points of no return.

      There’s a lot to hate about the vile, creeping fascist Trump administration, of course, but there’s a strong case to be made that the current White House’s worst characteristic is its determination to increase the rate at which the United States and the global capitalist order turn the planet into a giant Greenhouse Gas Chamber. The environmental crisis we face today (with the climate emergency in the lead) is certainly the biggest issue of our or any time in human history. If it isn’t properly addressed, nothing else we care about (including the real and/or alleged subversion of elections within or beyond the U.S.) is going to matter all that much.

      Why the wildly disproportionate liberal and Democratic fixation on Trump-Russia-Gate in a time when Trump and his party are putting the geocidal pedal to the metal, hastening the species’ passage over an environmental cliff? Part of the answer is partisan political calculation. Real and alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election has given Democrats a “dog [bear?] ate our homework” excuse for the demobilizing, neoliberal nothingness of the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign (and of the corporatist Barack Obama presidency) and a way for the Democrats to try to “patriotically” delegitimize Trump as the nation dives headlong into its next quadrennial election extravaganza. The RussiaGate fixation has also helped keep alive the flames of the (not-so) New Cold War with the United States “great adversary” Russia, a policy to which the Democratic Party establishment has long been strongly committed.

    • WWII Lessons for the Climate Emergency

      The New Deal and World War II are reminders of past transformative times, reverberating in many current hardships and extreme dangers. Emergencies can bring clarity and reason about what to do, though at the opposite end, crises can elicit the worst outcomes, such as outlined by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine. A rational and responsible response to the intersecting climate and political disasters is the rationing of energy. There are historical precedents. Yet rationing, moratoriums, and a range of measures that could immediately cut emissions and address intersecting emergencies are largely ignored in climate policy.

      As detailed in examples below, solutions to climate change proffered since the 1960s have not worked. Increasing greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions from multiple economic sectors and from amplifying feedbacks are rapidly driving the climate to a runaway state in which human interventions will not alter the physics, biology, and biochemistry of the climate system. An implicit illogic allows for the constant expansion of destructive high greenhouse gas emitting sectors until they can shift to renewables: the Kyoto-exempt military and international shipping and aviation, the agro-industrial complex, wide-ranging extraction, deforestation for biofuels, ever-increasing production of plastic and large vehicles, building codes favoring massive production of steel and cement. Logically, these sectors need to be stringently curtailed or eliminated until the basic needs of the world population are prioritized and met without adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, until GHG concentration is drawn down to a safe level, and until these sectors are actually fueled by renewables.

      The rationality of rationing is readily apparent in times of extreme life threats, when distribution of basic necessities involves demonetizing life’s necessities and making them part of the commons. Venezuela, Cuba, and Ethiopia now ration in response to severe hardship. Rationing in the face of the climate crisis would also be a preventative measure to avert a spiralling human emergency by immediately cutting GHG emissions through restricting energy use to essential needs. Current and potential human fatalities linked to climate change include extreme weather events, high temperatures that are not survivable, impacts on food and water availability, the militarization of climate “security” and of borders, and eventually insufficient oxygen due to die-offs of forests and phytoplankton. The 2003 Pentagon Report projects Thomas Hobbes-scale violence requiring “‘no-regret (military) strategies’ for worst case, global warming-induced eventualities”. [1] In 2009 the Global Humanitarian Forum was already reporting the loss of 300,000 people/year due to climate change. It is only recently that the IPCC formed a working group on the human situation.

    • ‘Coalition Against Death Alley’ Kicks Off 5-Day March for Environmental Justice in Louisiana’s Petrochemical Corridor

      Activists in southern Louisiana kicked off a five-day march on Thursday that aims to bring environmental justice to Cancer Alley—the 85-mile stretch between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that’s home to poverty-stricken communities in the shadow of scores of petrochemical facilities.

      The march was organized by the Coalition Against Death Alley (CADA), which formed earlier this year and began planning “non-violent protests to pressure industrial giants and governments to stop the ongoing poisoning of majority-black communities” in the region, also known as Louisiana’s Petrochemical Corridor, which runs along the Mississippi River.

    • Global Rebellion to Save Our Planet

      “The greatest threat to the Earth is thinking someone else will save it.” The responsibility is ours; politicians and governments are complacent, dishonest and buried in the ideology of the past. Despite repeated warnings nothing substantial has been done and time is running out. No one else is going to Save Our Planet; a global movement of civil disobedience is needed to force governments to take the radical action needed.

      In 1992 the Union of Concerned Scientists (made up of 1,700 of the world’s leading scientists) issued the ‘World Scientist’ Warning to Humanity’. They stated that, “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” Their words fell on deaf ears. Decades of inaction and procrastination has allowed the crisis to escalate and escalate, leading to the point where we are now, the very edge of total catastrophe.

      Given the enormous scale of the issue, many people feel overwhelmed, hopeless. Eco-anxiety, defined as “a chronic fear of environmental doom”, is on the rise in many countries triggering feelings of rage, grief, despair and shame. Some people are so worried they are taking the extreme decision not to have children until climate change is dealt with. ‘Birth Strike’, The Guardian reports, is ‘a [UK based global] voluntary organization for women and men who have decided not to have children in response to the coming “climate breakdown and civilization collapse.” … It is a “radical acknowledgment” of how the looming existential threat is already “altering the way we imagine our future”.’

      The aim of BirthStrike is not to discourage people from having children, but to communicate the urgency of the environmental crisis. Many of its members are also involved with the groundbreaking movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR), a UK-based socio-political group using non-violence resistance to create a sense of urgency about tackling the environmental crisis. XR chapters now exist in dozens of countries including the US, the Solomon Islands, Australia, Spain, South Africa and India.

      Extinction Rebellion is calling for an ecological emergency to be declared by governments, the UK to lead the way and reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025 – ambitious certainly, but we need such targets, and for citizens assemblies to be established to devise a plan of action to tackle climate breakdown and biodiversity loss. They want to create ‘peaceful planet-wide mobilization of the scale of World War II’, only such a global response they say, ‘will give us a chance to avoid the worst case scenarios and restore a safe climate.’

      Consistent with other major social movements such as the Suffragettes, the US Civil Rights movement and the Freedom Movement in India led by Mahatma Gandhi, civil disobedience is at the heart of Extinction Rebellion’s methodology. In April this year the group mounted a major non-violent action in central London. Thousands of people occupied public spaces in the capital, closing bridges, causing disruption and staging a spectacle. ‘Dilemma actions’ were designed in which the authorities were faced with a choice – whether to allow the action to take place or not, to arrest and contain people or not. The demonstrations lasted for ten days and were part of an integrated global action with people in over 33 countries across six continents taking part.

    • Jay Inslee tops Greenpeace climate grades, Joe Biden gets a D-

      The rankings graded candidates on a 1-100 scale across two broad categories, each with their own sub-components. One, their support for the Green New Deal resolution and its demand for a rapid transition toward net-zero carbon emissions, and two, their support for phasing out all fossil fuel, a concept that was left out of the resolution and has divided 2020 Democrats. Only five candidates received even minor partial credit from the group for supporting a “managed phase-out domestic fossil fuel production” before 2050.

      They also graded candidates on whether they had pledged not to take money from organizations or executives tied to the fossil fuel industry.

      Inslee, who earned an A- grade, has made climate the primary focus of his campaign and recently released a $9 trillion climate infrastructure and jobs plan. Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. and Cory Booker, D-N.J., each earned a B+ while Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., earned a B, with the scorecard citing various pieces of legislation they’d signed onto, among other data points.

    • Which 2020 Candidates Make the Grade When it Comes to Climate Action?

      Washington Governor Jay Inslee is at the top of the class, and former Vice President Joe Biden is struggling near the bottom with a D minus. Those are the results of Greenpeace USA’s #Climate2020 Scorecard, the latest tool designed to rate the 2020 presidential candidates based on their plans for tackling the climate crisis.

      The scorecard, released Thursday, graded the candidates on a 1 to 100 scale based on two main criteria: their support for a Green New Deal and their commitment to ending the use of fossil fuels, NBC News reported.

    • Lessons From Yellowstone

      As we ponder the future of public lands in Montana, including what areas deserve protection as wilderness, it is worthwhile to look back in history to see how past protective measures were viewed.

      In 1872, with the establishment of Yellowstone National Park many Montana citizens were outraged. For example, the Helena Gazette opined: “We regard the passage of the act as a great blow to the prosperity of the towns of Bozeman and Virginia City.”

      In 1910, the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce opposed the creation of Glacier National Park suggesting the park would be a waste of trees that could logged.

      Upon the establishment of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, the local paper predicted that Jackson would soon be a “ghost town.” Has anyone been to Jackson lately? There are more than 16,000 “ghosts” living there.

      I go through this litany of responses to protected landscapes to demonstrate how wrong the local perspective has always been about the economic impact of protecting lands.

    • Fuel, Electricity Shortages Force Zimbabweans to Go Solar

      “As you can see almost 80 to 90 percent of all the components are imported,” he said. “But once you have that access to foreign currency, solar is quick to install, solar is easy to maintain. So it is really something needed for the country, but it is the issue of foreign currency access that is very important for the development of this power plant.”

      For now most Zimbabweans continue to endure long periods without power, a chronic problem analysts say it costing millions each day in lost productivity.

    • China has been emitting illegal greenhouse gas that destroys ozone layer, scientists find

      A study by scientists from the University of Bristol, Kyungpook National University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology finds China responsible for much of a recent spike in the emission of an illegal greenhouse gas.

      China accounted for 40% to 60% of the global increase in trichlorofluoromethane, or CFC-11, emissions between 2014 and 2017, the study says.

    • Study: Ozone-Killing Chemicals Traced to China

      In a report published Wednesday in the journal Nature, the scientists who monitor the planet’s atmosphere say the recent rise in the emission of the ozone-depleting chemical CFC-11 has been traced to two provinces in eastern China.

      Any production and use of CFC-11 is a violation of the Montreal Protocol, a 1987 agreement that phased out chlorofluorocarbons that cause damage to the ozone layer.

    • Ozone-Depleting CFCs Return

      In August of 1987 the world came together after a panic-attack over ongoing depletion of atmospheric ozone, aka: The Ozone Hole. Subsequently, global agreements to stop ozone depletion became the first ever “universally ratified treaties in UN history.” The world banned CFCs.

      Thereafter, an era of good feelings about ozone restoration swept the world community and 25 years afterwards Science News magazine reported: “Ozone Hole at Smallest Size in Decades” d/d October 26, 2012.

      Glory hallelujah! As a glorious Great Exhale spread across the land, similar to releasing pressurized air out of a humongous balloon, wheezing and hissing for days on end, in celebration of The Shrinking Ozone Hole! It was the first time in history that people celebrated a Shrinking Hole, and for good reason.

      Ozone molecules are crucial to sustaining life. Those feisty powerhouse molecules shield the planet from destructive Ultraviolet B or UV-B, which can become big-time killers if left unchecked. According to NASA: “Without ozone, the Sun’s intense UV radiation would sterilize the Earth’s surface” which is a gentle way of saying “Mass Extinction.”

    • Ohio Stumbles, With a Team Trump Nudge, Toward Nuclear and Coal

      Defying all laws of competitive economics, climate change, and technological progress, the Ohio House has voted in a ratepayer-funded bailout for two aging nuclear power plants on Lake Erie, and two even older coal burners, one in Indiana, but owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, based in Piketon. According to Politico, a senior adviser to the Trump reelection campaign, Bob Paduchik, pressured at least five members of the Ohio House of Representatives to vote “yes” on the bill.

      If it passes Ohio’s Senate next week, the astonishing multi-billion-dollar public handout will guarantee the Buckeye State a prime spot in the new millennium’s can’t-compete Rust Belt rumble seat for decades to come.

      Passing 53 to 43 on May 29, the bitterly contested House Bill 6 forces ratepayers throughout the state to fork over $190 million per year in over-market payments to keep the decaying Perry and Davis-Besse reactors in business. The money is to come from all Buckeye electric consumers, even though many get zero power from the plants being bailed out. Ten Democrats voted yes, guaranteeing the bill’s passage. Seventeen Republicans voted no, mostly on libertarian grounds.

      HB6 was originally marketed as a “clean air” initiative. But the bailouts for the coal burners have stripped even that thin veneer from the bill’s real purpose: saving Akron-based FirstEnergy from its ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. The bill strips state funding for renewable and efficiency programs that had saved Ohio millions in utility bills and inched it toward a modern green-based power supply.

      The bill also left intact a unique setback clause that prevented big privately funded wind farms from being built in the “North Coast” region along Lake Erie. Many farmers I personally visited in this flat, breezy stretch of agricultural land eagerly support new wind projects, whose lease payments can bring in hefty payments. The potential sites are near urban customers and are criss-crossed with transmission lines.

    • Rising Seas Could Generate 187 Million Climate Refugees by 2100
    • On Thin Ice: March Warming in Alaska Led to Eight Deaths, Disrupted Fishing

      That’s according to reporting in Hakai Magazine by environmentalist Tim Lydon, who looked at the effects of a warmer-than-average late winter in the northernmost state in the U.S.

      “March temperatures averaged 11 °C above normal,” said Lydon. “The deviation was most extreme in the Arctic where, on March 30, thermometers rose almost 22 °C above normal—to 3 °C [ed: 37.4 °F]. That still sounds cold, but it was comparatively hot.”

      The warmth is having a major impact on Alaskans, said climate specialist Rick Thoman, who works with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy.

      “It’s hard to characterize that anomaly,” said Thoman, “it’s just pretty darn remarkable for that part of the world.”

      In March, climate scientist Zach Labe shared a map on Twitter showing the warming.

    • This Tuesday, a US Federal Court May Decide the Fate of the Climate

      We need to talk about Juliana v. United States. Twenty-one young people are suing the federal government from causing climate change and every person in this country should know about it. It is the landmark case of the climate movement so far, and it has the potential to dramatically accelerate the U.S.’s role in containing the climate crisis. The case has a critical hearing coming up on June 4, and we need your support.

      Over the last few months, the world has watched as young people in the United States and across the world have found their voice in a way no generation ever has before. We are in the midst of a climate emergency, and now young people, who will be more affected than any other generation, are refusing to sit by as our futures are destroyed around us. We are striking, we are rallying and we are voting in record numbers. And it’s because we understand the destruction is already underway: the planet is warming, sea levels are rising, and natural disasters are happening more intensely and more frequently than ever before.

      Despite knowing all of this, we have hope. But we also understand clearly that the only way we’re going to see change is if we demand it. That is what is unfolding before everyone’s eyes in the streets and in the media right now.

      We are building a national and global movement of young people who are standing up for our right to a future safe from climate catastrophe. And while the world is only just starting to hear about us, our growing movement has been building now for many years. True social movements, ones that make real and lasting change, happen when there is infrastructure in place to sustain them. This isn’t just about one day of striking, or one sit-in a politician’s office. This is a multilayered, decentralized and rapidly growing climate revolution.

      When this chapter is added to U.S. history textbooks in 50 years, students will study the global strikes, sit-ins and rallies, and they will study the Juliana v. U.S. case. The legal battle began in 2015, when an Oregon nonprofit representing 21 young people from across the country filed suit in a federal court. The young plaintiffs are suing the federal government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by knowingly contributing to climate change for over five decades. The plaintiffs seek a court-ordered creation and implementation of a science-based climate recovery plan to put us on track to bring carbon dioxide levels back to 350 parts per million (ppm), or one degree Celsius of long-term warming. This would dramatically decrease the United States’s contribution to the climate crisis.

    • Youth Activists Holding Coordinated Press Conferences to Raise Awareness on Landmark Court Case

      Youth activists in the U.S. and around the world are using June 1 as a day of action to support a landmark court case that could affect the climate crisis, holding coordinated press conferences to draw attention to the litigation.

      The case, Juliana v. United States, was first filed in 2015 by now-college student Kelsey Juliana and 20 other youth plaintiffs. The lawsuit demands the government act to protect the climate and environment for the future by making the right to a stable climate constitutionally protected.

      The next hearing on the case will be Tuesday, June 4, at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

      Saturday’s conferences will announce new tactics in the fight against climate change, building on a growing youth movement that’s pushing for change on a global scale. In a statement, 19 year-old Katie Eder, the national leader of the June 1st campaign and the executive director of Future Coalition, a group leading coordinating efforts, put the push for climate justice into a generational context.

      “Climate change is the most pressing issue for our generation,” said Eder. “We’re supporting the Juliana plaintiffs as they fight for our future in court by fighting alongside them in our communities.”

      In a press release, Future Coalition laid out the program for Saturday’s events and the broader context of the Juliana case.

    • [Paywall] Evaluating the environmental impact of software

      It’s getting easier to measure the environmental impact of software. A new study suggests criteria for determining how the choice of software impacts resource use.

      For many years, enterprise organizations have been concerned with the efficiency of information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructures. Efficiency studies have mainly focused on hardware-specific problems. Devices with labels such as Energy Star, Blauer Engel, or the EPEAT eco label are particularly resource-friendly.

      Now more attention is turning to the environmental impacts of software. Researchers have discovered measurable differences in energy efficiency between different applications that perform the same task. And not only does the choice of software affect electricity usage, but it may also necessitate new hardware purchases at regular intervals.

  • Finance

    • Time Bombs: A Meditation on Walt Whitman’s 200th Birthday

      Trickle down theory applies here. America has a death penalty. America has the largest military in the world and in history. America will not stand being crossed. These moments of spasm and orgy are threads in a cultural fabric. Americans have a right to be enraged because of being crossed or challenged or humiliated.

      Of course the question to be asked and rarely answered: what prescription drug was this current killer on? Without an answer to that, the basic anthropological truth about human beings is they will strike depending on the perceived depth of a threat or insult. The intensity of the strike is ratcheted up based on a cultural citizenship where the phrase “shock and awe” has become a national cornerstone. It’s a phrase concocted because Americans would get it and accept it and in some cases make it part of their interior weapon stash.

      The hardware is always debated. The core nuclear reactor is the subtle and pernicious permission to access this aspect of human nature. Prior to a duel the classic phrase is “I demand satisfaction.” This phrase has not been retired in America. It’s not pistols at dawn it’s a weapon of war whenever.

    • Justice Department Readies Antitrust Probe of Google: Reports

      The U.S. Justice Department is readying an investigation of Google’s business practices and whether they violate antitrust law, according to news reports.

      The search giant was fined a record $2.72 billion by European regulators in 2017 for abusing its dominance of the online search market. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission made an antitrust investigation of Google but closed it in 2013 without taking action.

      Now the Justice Department has undertaken an antitrust probe of the company’s search and other businesses, according to reports by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Bloomberg News. They cited unnamed people familiar with the matter.

      Justice Department spokesman Jeremy Edwards declined to comment Saturday. Google declined any comment.

    • Puerto Rico’s Botched Disaster Relief, Unsustainable Debt, and Economic Failure Linked to its Colonial Status

      Here is a scandal: Puerto Rico has a Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB), created by the US Congress and appointed by the president of the United States, in charge of its finances. Its budget, financed by Puerto Rico’s taxpayers, is $1.5 billion over five years, or $300 million a year.

      How much money is that relative to Puerto Rico’s economy? Well, if it were the US economy, it would be more than $85 billion dollars a year. To be clear: this is not a government, but just a board that examines and projects the government’s finances. Imagine if the US Congressional Budget Office had a budget of $85 billion a year (its actual annual budget is $50.7 million).

      The vast majority of the FOMB’s budget ($1.1 billion) goes to advisers and consultants. And there are serious potential conflicts of interest among the board itself.

      How can this scale of corruption, overseen by the US Congress, even happen? It’s because Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States. Puerto Ricans are US citizens but they have no voting representatives in the US Congress. Yet they are bound by its decisions, and those of the executive branch.

      For the same reasons, Puerto Rico was vastly unprepared when Hurricane Maria hit the island on September 20, 2017. And the US government’s response to residents’ emergency needs was painfully slow and negligent. A video of President Trump tossing rolls of paper towels, as if they were puffy basketballs, at a press conference in a church in San Juan, on October 3, 2017, was hideously symbolic. An estimated 3,000 people died from the storm, many of them from lack of access to medical care that could have been provided with a proper response to the disaster. Electricity was only fully restored almost a year later.

      And for the same reasons, Puerto Rico still faces an unsustainable debt burden. Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz succinctly stated the crux of the problem last month:

      “The US government explicitly said because Puerto Rico was our colony, we will not allow you to … adopt your own bankruptcy law … but as a colony we have decided that our bankruptcy law won’t cover you either… And it’s a moral outrage.”

    • ‘’Only little people pay taxes.’’

      To understand the present, we must understand the past, and possibly the future direction of historical processes. Well where did it all begin?

      Well “it” (i.e., unbounded, rent-seeking, extractive capitalism) had existed for a long period of time dating back to the 19th century and perhaps beyond.

      Economic theories have always been little more than a rationale for what was essentially a conflict between classes and vested interests, and, whisper it softly, this is still essentially the case. The rentier regime based upon rent extraction on behalf of the land-owning aristocracy was historically pitted against the rising industrial manufacturing classes, the bourgeoisie in the manufacturing cities and towns.

      Additionally, the emerging working class was beginning to flex its economic, and in the fullness of time, its political muscles.

      Unexpectedly perhaps, what was to emerge was an (albeit unstable) marriage of convenience between bourgeois and proletariat against the rentier class. In the UK the liberal reformers of the 19th century, David Ricardo, J.S.Mill et al. and during the 20th century J.M.Keynes. [1] carried the struggle against the ruling rentier classes, but both lacked a mass movement and were ultimately superseded though not completely extinguished by radical socialist reformers, principally based around the Independent Labour Party, the Trade Union Congress, and the Fabian Society.

      These were to form the Labour Representation Committee, which eventually became the Labour Party in 1906. A similar process was apparent in Germany when the SPD increasingly took on the role of leader of the working class against the Bismarckian political ascendency, anti-socialist laws notwithstanding. The Fabian socialist Weltanschauung was systematically outlined in Fabian Essays in Socialism, first published in 1889, where the general evolutionist theme is clearly discernible.

    • These Americans fled the country to escape their giant student debt

      Outstanding student debt in the U.S. has tripled over the last decade and is projected to swell to $2 trillion by 2022. Average debt at graduation is currently around $30,000, up from an inflation-adjusted $16,000 in the early 1990s. Meanwhile, salaries for new bachelor degree recipients, also accounting for inflation, have remained almost flat over the last few decades.

    • Pain of Tariffs Tests Farmers’ Faith in Trump: ‘How Long Is Short-Term?’

      Her son and son-in-law have both come home to farm. “But neither of them wants to plant one grain because they see no future in it,” she said. “They would be seventh generation, but they’re tired of going to the bank and getting a loan and not being able to pay it back.”

      Each bushel of soybeans costs her about $10.35 to grow, she said. The sale price last week, when her family finished planting 1,500 acres of early beans, was $8.03. This month, after exhausting their credit, Ms. Overman and her husband had to borrow on their life insurance to pay the bills.

      “I’m feeling more like this short-term pain is already long-term pain,” she said.

      [...]

      “The happiest day of the year for me is when I get the crop loan paid off,” Mr. Goplin said. “That means I can live to farm another day. If I can farm another year, I won.”

    • Car trouble: How symbol of freedom became a ball and chain

      But the freedom of the open road comes with a growing cost: A report last week by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York notes that auto loan delinquencies of more than 90 days have been trending upward since 2012, ensnaring a record 7 million Americans. Since the global financial crisis 10 years ago, the amount that Americans owe on their cars has grown by a whopping 75%. Even as some Americans are driving less or ditching cars altogether, for many commuters an auto is a costly but burdensome necessity.

    • The UK’s austerity policies have left thousands without enough food, HRW says

      Monday’s report said austerity-motivated cuts to the country’s welfare system since the Conservative Party took power in 2010 have left thousands of families with children without adequate food. As a result, families have become reliant on aid organizations.

      “The UK is the fifth largest economy in the world. It really beggars belief that in this country increasing numbers, year on year, of families are going hungry,” Kartik Raj, HRW’s Western Europe researcher and author of the report, told CNN.

    • Theresa May’s Resignation Could Mean a Hard Brexit

      The chaos in Britain’s politics has only intensified in the wake of Theresa May’s resignation and the tremendous losses that Conservatives suffered in the European Parliament election. Prof. Leo Panitch analyzes the result

    • ‘It Would Mean a Trade War’: Mexico Warns of ‘Disastrous’ Consequences After Trump Tariff Threat

      Joining lawmakers, progressive critics, and economists in the U.S. who denounced President Donald Trump’s tariff threat against Mexico Thursday as a reckless move that will harm American consumers, Mexican trade negotiator Jesús Seade warned that the proposed duty on his country’s goods would have “disastrous” consequences.

      “This threat, taken to action, would be extremely serious, and Mexico will not stand with arms crossed,” Seade told reporters following Trump’s policy announcement.

    • How Capitalism Puts a Price on Everything

      Your first reaction to a book titled A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things that consists of 312 pages is to wonder if it is the first in a series of volumes since a single volume hardly seems capable of packing in everything from Ancient Egypt to the 2007 financial crisis. Yet, oddly enough, it does an excellent job by using a singular perspective, namely how “cheapness” has become the sine qua non for class society’s dubious advances over millennia.

      Co-authors Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore are exponents of what they call world-ecology. While I am not familiar with Patel’s work, I have been reading Moore ever since he was a graduate student and posting to the World Systems Network, a defunct mailing list that was home to scholars like Immanuel Wallerstein and Andre Gunder Frank. World systems theory always made a lot of sense to me since it was premised on the idea that Europe was responsible for what Frank called the development of underdevelopment in Asia, Africa and Latin America. What Moore contributed to this theory was the ecological dimension. Colonialism involved massive changes to nature that were universally destructive even though they helped to make cheap commodities available to the colonizers.

      As a paradigm of the co-dependency between ecological despoliation and the capitalist production of cheap commodities, Patel and Moore refer to the extraordinary history of the island of Madeira throughout the book. Known mostly today as a fortified wine that originated there, it was also a place where sugar was first produced at the expense of everything else on the island—including human beings and nature.

      Madeira was a small island off the northern coast of Africa that in the 15th century became the first specimen of the kind of ruin now present on a global scale that the UN called attention to this year. In 1455, a traveler from Venice wrote that “there was not a foot of ground that was not covered by great trees.” (Madeira means “wood” in Portuguese). By 1530, the island had become entirely deforested. Initially, the trees provided the lumber for Portuguese ships with the denuded forest being turned into wheat fields that provided cheap food for the mother country. But the real engine of capitalist growth was in sugarcane production.

    • Amazon mulls move for discarded Sprint assets

      Amazon could acquire assets divested as a result of the Sprint T-Mobile US merger, Reuters reported, with the online retail giant interested in buying prepaid brand Boost Mobile and any spectrum holdings put up for sale.

      Details of the company’s plans for any assets acquired are sketchy. However, the newswire’s sources said Amazon was partly interested in Boost Mobile as a deal would likely include guarantees it could use the combined Sprint T-Mobile network for at least six years.

      Other suitors for the mobile brand are rumoured to include: specialist US operator Q Link Wireless, a party conncected to MVNO FreedomPop; and Peter Adderton, the man who founded the US version of Boost Mobile as a joint venture with Nextel before cashing out in 2004.

    • Ohio Hospital Attempts to Divide Striking Unionized Workers

      Hospital workers at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio, are now in the midst of their fourth week on strike. The registered nurses, tech staff and support staff, all unionized through United Automobile Workers (UAW), walked out on May 6, in protest of exploitative working conditions that put patient safety at risk, and degrading employee benefits.

      It was just announced that negotiations took place over the holiday weekend, and each bargaining unit will be reviewing the new proposals.

      Some of the most pressing issues still on the bargaining table revolve around staffing and on-call hours. “We just want the basic necessities to do our job. We don’t want the sun and the moon,” Beth DenBesten, a registered nurse and strike captain for UAW Local 2213, told Truthout. “We just want to be able to take care of our patients without having to work a shift, come in on-call and then have to work a shift the next day as well.”

    • Applause for New Zealand ‘Wellbeing Budget’ That Dedicates Billions to Mental Health Care and Ending Child Poverty

      Pledging to follow through on her promise to form a new kind of government focused on benefiting those often overlooked by lawmakers, the prime minister of New Zealand on Thursday unveiled her proposed spending plan for the coming year—the world’s first “wellbeing budget.”

      The proposed 2019 budget includes billions of dollars for mental health services, support for indigenous people and victims of domestic violence, and funding to help pull children out of poverty.

      “We said that we would be a government that did things differently, and for this budget we have done just that,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “Today we have laid the foundation for not just one wellbeing budget, but a different approach for government decision-making altogether.”

      Ardern and her finance minister, Grant Robertson, shared a video on social media ahead of their budget presentation before Parliament, explaining how their budget will be different than those in past years.

    • Debscomic

      It wasn’t always this way, of course. Indeed, in the early decades of the twentieth century, socialism in the US was fundamentally understood to mean the end of capitalism and the rule of the capitalist class. In turn, that rule was to be replaced with the democratic rule of the workers. Revolutionary struggle was taking place in the streets of cities around the world; Russia had actually succeeded in overthrowing the Tsar and was in process of building a revolutionary socialist government. In the United States and much of the rest of the world, the ruling classes were truly concerned about their future. Men like Eugene Debs were considered genuine threats to the established order. In Debs’ case, this threat had grown to such proportions by the time World War One was in its full-on murderous mode he was imprisoned for opposing it. Still, he received around a million votes in the presidential election shortly after the war ended.

    • Decrying Policies That Serve the Powerful, Ocasio-Cortez Demands Housing Be ‘Legislated as a Human Right’

      “What does that mean?” the New York congresswoman continued. “What it means is that our access and our ability and our guarantee to having a home comes before someone else’s privilege to earn a profit.”

      Speaking in one of the New York boroughs she represents, Ocasio-Cortez—who garnered national attention for defeating a 10-term congressman in the 2018 Democratic primary—recognized the need to reform housing policies at all levels of government.

      “Housing is one of the most complicated policy issues that we have, period,” she said. “Because you have everything from city council, from how things are zoned, to state rent laws, to federal tax breaks, and all of it comes together to make a picture that all too often enriches people who are already powerful and impoverishes people who are already vulnerable, and we cannot allow that to happen anymore.”

    • Democrats Must Choose Between Teachers and Charter Schools

      For years, the safe havens for education policy debate in the Democratic Party have been expanding pre-K programs and providing more affordable college, but in the current presidential primary contest, another consensus issue has been added to the party’s agenda: salary increases for K–12 classroom teachers. Kamala Harris has gotten the most press for coming out strongly for raising teacher wages, but other frontrunners including Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Bernie Sanders have also called for increased teacher pay.

      But what will happen when a consensus issue like teacher salary increases comes into conflict with a lightning rod issue like charter schools? That’s a scenario currently playing out in Florida.

      A recent law passed by the majority Republican Florida state legislature and signed by newly elected Republican Governor Ron DeSantis will force local school districts to share portions of their locally appropriated tax money with charter schools, even if those funds are raised for the express purpose of increasing teacher salaries in district-operated public schools. (Charter schools in Florida, as in many states, do not receive funds that are raised through bond referendums, mill levies, or other forms of local funding initiatives.)

    • Celine McNicholas on Forced Arbitration, Ian Head on Freedom of Information

      This week on CounterSpin: Quaint as it may sound, the idea is still operative for many people that if you work, you earn wages and fair treatment. We can’t seem to shake the storyline that employers, graciously, offer this, and workers should, gratefully, accept it. But a new report outlines just how tilted the workplace balance of power has become in this country, and what we need to do to restore workers’ voice and power at work. Titled Unchecked Corporate Power: Forced Arbitration, the Enforcement Crisis and How Workers Are Fighting Back, the report comes from the Center for Popular Democracy and the Economic Policy Institute. We’ll speak with one of the authors, EPI director of government affairs and labor counsel Celine McNicholas.

    • A Lawsuit Over Ferguson’s “Debtors Prison” Drags On

      In January 2014, Tonya DeBerry was driving through an unincorporated area of St. Louis County, Missouri, when a police officer pulled her over for having expired license plates.

      After discovering that DeBerry, 51, had several outstanding traffic tickets from three jurisdictions, the officer handcuffed her and took her to jail.

      To be released, she was told, she would have to pay hundreds of dollars in fines she owed the county, according to her account in a federal lawsuit. But after her family came up with the money, DeBerry wasn’t released from custody. Instead, she was handed over to the municipalities of Ferguson and Jennings, and in each city, she was told she would be released only after she paid a portion of the fines she owed them, according to the lawsuit.

      It was as if she were being held for “ransom,” her lawyer would later say.

      The Supreme Court ruled almost 50 years ago that a person can’t be jailed for not being able to pay a fine. But like so many people in Missouri, DeBerry had ended up cycling through a succession of jails for that very reason, caught up in what critics have called modern-day “debtors prisons,” used by towns to keep fines flowing into municipal coffers.

      “It’s a cat-and-mouse game,” said her daughter, Allison Nelson, who has also spent time in jail for not being able to pay traffic fines.

    • Of Course This Happened in Illinois. Why Wouldn’t It?

      Lawmakers are making money from video gambling operators. A vote on gambling expansion may happen Friday.

      Hmmm. Maybe the reason Illinois has such a strong reputation for political corruption has something to do with inappropriate financial relationships like the ones we uncovered this week? Some of Illinois’ most powerful lawmakers — or their family members — are making money directly from doing private business with video gambling operators.

      Among our elected officials with ties to the video gambling industry are Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, a Republican from Bloomington, and Chicago Democrat Antonio Muñoz, the Senate assistant majority leader, according to records obtained by ProPublica Illinois reporter Jason Grotto and our collaborator Dan Mihalopoulos, a reporter at WBEZ Chicago.

    • Green Party Candidate in Canada Launches Boycott Boeing Campaign

      A Green Party candidate from Toronto, Canada has launched a campaign to boycott Boeing.

      Daniel Giavedoni said he was moved to launch the boycott after hearing of the two recent crashes of Boeing 737 Max 8 planes that killed all 346 people on board.

      Giavedoni posted a petition online calling on consumers everywhere to boycott all Boeing planes. He created a Twitter handle called Boycott Boeing and a hashtag #BoycottBoeing.

      Giavedoni said he initially defended Boeing to friends, but after reading details of the two crashes, seeing evidence of Boeing’s negligence, and hearing consumer advocate Ralph Nader on the radio call for a boycott, he decided to act.

      Giavedoni says Kayak has a flight selection tool that allows to deselect Boeing planes before searching for a flight.

      “If boycotting will cause a major inconvenience or additional cost, do not feel the need to boycott for that flight,” he writes. “A good boycott must be sustainable over the long term. Do it when you can, don’t worry about it when you can’t, even if you do it once every four flights, it will still have a meaningful impact if enough people do it. If you are unable to boycott Boeing, you can still sign and support the boycott by sharing this petition.”

    • Harriet Tubman Snub Is a Reflection of Trump’s Worldview

      In 2016 a poll was conducted to find out which American the country wanted to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. When it was all said and done, the person who had the most votes was the great abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

      As with every other Obama initiative, Trump has made it a point to delay or stop this from happening. He has called it an act of political correctness and suggested that her image should be on a $2 bill instead. (The $2 bill has not been removed from circulation, but the Federal Reserve System does not request the printing of that denomination as often as the others.)

      Now, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has announced that he is focused solely on the security features of the currency revamp and that what the currency would look like would be left for a successor. In his words, “It is not a decision that is likely to come until way past my term.” By that, he meant 2026 or even as late as 2028.

      I am not surprised that Trump is ordering Mnuchin to postpone the new design until he is out of office. Not only is Trump an avid fan of Andrew Jackson, but he has also shown on numerous occasions that he knows close to nothing about African American history (remember his embarrassing remarks about Frederick Douglass?).

    • If MLB Players are Getting Stiffed, Imagine What the Corporations Are Doing to You

      Major League Baseball has a problem on its hands: Teams are making record revenues thanks to massive regional cable deals. But more than ever, those teams aren’t signing players. They’re becoming cheapskates.

      Take, for example, Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel.

      Kimbrel is one of the greatest relief pitchers of all time — he’s the youngest player to reach 300 saves in MLB history — and as of today, he remains unsigned. Keuchel won the Cy Young award given to the best pitcher in the league in 2015, and won a World Series with the Houston Astros. But he too remains unsigned.

      Even players like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the marquee free agents of this past year, got slightly shafted out of deals that would’ve truly paid them what they’re worth.

      MLB teams waited and put off signing them to drive their price down — which might seem absurd, seeing as those two ultimately signed deals paying them $300 million or more. But their value to their teams is so high that they could’ve been paid more.

    • If Democrats Want to Beat Trump, They Better Not Nominate a ‘Free Trade’ Candidate

      How could Democrats guarantee a second Trump term? Come out in favor of so-called “free trade.”

      When Walter Mondale was nominated by the Democratic Party to take on Ronald Reagan in 1984, he uttered, in his acceptance speech, a single line that did more than anything else that year to lose him the election.

      He said, “Mr. Reagan will raise taxes and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”

      The Republicans turned it into a campaign ad, and it played over and again, dragging Mondale so far down that he lost every state in the country except his home state of Minnesota.

      What Mondale said was true, and Reagan did raise taxes on working people—eleven times—but that was still the moment when Mondale signed his own political death warrant. Americans had been bitten badly in the previous decade by inflation and the Reagan Recession, and were in no mood to give more of their hard-earned money to the government or anybody else.

      In 2020, trade will be as potent an issue as taxes were in 1984.

    • Lonmin’s Murder, by Money: Autopsy Reveals the British-South African Corpse’s Poisoning by Microfinance, ‘Development Finance’ and Corporate Finance

      The death of the 110-year old mining house Lonmin at a London shareholders meeting on May 28 occurred not through bankruptcy or nationalisation, as would have been logical at various points in time. It was the result of a takeover – generally understood as a rip-off of investors and workers – by an extremely jejune (7 year-old) South African corporation, Sibanye-Stillwater. The latter’s chief executive, Neil Froneman, is known for extreme aggression in both corporate takeovers and workplace cost-cutting, with by far the highest fatality rate in the mining industry.

      In the spirit of the Lonmin-onomics looting skills pioneered by the firm’s notorious leader Tiny Rowland during the 1950s-80s transition from colonialism to neo-colonial neoliberalism, Froneman engineered the deal for a measly $383 million, and $460 million than South Africa’s Standard Bank estimated Lonmin’s worth. It was less than a mere tenth of a percent of Lonmin’s peak 2007 London Stock Exchange valuation.

      But through Froneman is celebrating and Sibanye’s shares soared by nearly 10% on May 28, the firm’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange price is still only 45% as high as it was in mid-2016. And the takeover did nothing to resolve underlying problems that caused Lonmin’s 2012 Marikana Massacre, and that have persisted ever since.

      After all, Froneman “never left the learnings of Cecil Rhodes. He was groomed and brought up under those circumstances,” as his nemesis, trade union leader Joseph Mathunjwa vividly expressed it during a March 2019 mineworkers-v-Sibanye battle. Moreover, said Mathunjwa, “The State – Cyril Ramaphosa’s government – is helping Sibanye to break the strike. We have evidence of this. They have this toxic relationship as if they have never learnt anything from Marikana.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump’s Prodigious Lying Threatens Our Democracy

      Even after Trump’s 10,000 lies in office, many in the media still find themselves paralyzed by journalistic practices that prevent them from calling a lie a lie or a president who tells lies a liar. And so the media continue to enable him. The day after the rally, The New York Times reported that what Trump had done was to “revive…a standard, and inaccurate, refrain about doctors ‘executing babies.’” That’s not quite the same as saying Trump lied.

    • Fueled by Ambitious Policies and High Favorability, Progressives Celebrate an Elizabeth Warren Campaign ‘On the Rise’

      Progressives on Thursday pointed to new polling by a number of sources which suggest that after months of polling in the single digits in many national surveys, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign is growing in popularity with Democratic primary voters.

      In a poll released Wednesday by The Economist/YouGov, the Massachusetts Democrat was shown with a 42 percent favorability rating, coming in second behind Joe Biden’s 45 percent rating. Sen. Bernie Sanders was behind Warren by one point in overall approval among Democrats.

      Fifty-three percent of respondents identifying themselves as “liberal” said they were currently supporting Warren in the primary, with Sanders coming in second with a 47 percent rating.

      “Warren has withstood the entry of 20-some competitors, and after mediocre polling led to media insinuations she couldn’t sustain a campaign, she still ranks in the top handful of candidates,” wrote Dylan Scott at Vox last week. “She has two supremely obvious things in her favor: She’s very well-known and Democratic primary voters like her. Warren has distinguished herself with a very thoroughly prepared policy platform.”

    • Democrats’ 2020 Policy Blitz Largely Lacking on Immigration

      Democratic presidential contenders are in a feverish battle to one-up each other with ever-more-ambitious plans to beat back global warming, curb gun violence, offer universal health care coverage, slash student debt and preserve abortion rights. Largely left out of the policy parade: immigration.

      The field of 24 candidates is united in condemning President Donald Trump’s support for hard-line immigration tactics, particularly his push to wall off as much of the U.S. border with Mexico as possible, roll back asylum rights for refugees and since-suspended efforts to separate immigrant children from their parents. But only two contenders — ex-Obama Housing Secretary Julián Castro and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke — have released detailed, written policies addressing the future of the immigration system.

    • AOC Calls for Ban on Revolving Door as Study Shows Two-Thirds of Recently Departed Lawmakers Now K Street Lobbyists

      One of Capitol Hill’s most popular new Democrats on Thursday called for a total ban on the revolving door that allows lawmakers to jump from Congress into K Street lobbying firms as soon as they leave office.

      In a tweet, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said that former members of Congress “shouldn’t be allowed to turn right around and leverage your service for a lobbyist check.”

      “I don’t think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you’ve served in Congress,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “At minimum there should be a long wait period.”

    • Burlington, Vermont, Jared Kushner and the Conspiracy of Capital

      There’s a hole in the heart of Burlington, Vermont’s downtown. The result of a currently halted project to build a new shopping mall, it is currently a muddy hole that might well end up taking millions of dollars to fill. Many of those millions could well end up coming from the pockets of Burlington residents. Indeed, they’ve already committed ten million to the project that hole represents. Despite the hype from City Hall and its business associates, the reconstituted Town Center Shopping mall is not being done for the benefit of Burlington’s residents. Indeed, the only certain benefactors of the project whether it’s completed or not are the billion-dollar investment firms whose spokespeople convinced Burlington voters to cough up ten million dollars in the last election.

      The front man for the investors is a man named Donald Sinex. He and his company Devonwood Investors LLC are the minority investors in this project. Their percentage is just under fifty percent (49 % to be exact). The majority investor, Brookfield Assets management, owns fifty-one percent of the project. Both companies pride themselves on their deal making. Indeed, Donald Sinex not only takes company pride in its ability to smell out a deal, he redundantly describes himself as an “opportunistic real estate investor” on his personal LinkedIn account. It is Sinex who has been the face of the deal that the hole in downtown Burlington represents.

      The barely visible partner in the Burlington Town Center project is another even larger investment company called Brookfield Assets Management. This entity is also known simply as Brookfield. It has offices around the world, including its headquarters currently in Toronto, Canada. Its operations involve hundreds of employees and over three hundred billion dollars. Besides its real estate business, Brookfield also invests in infrastructure, private equity and “renewable energy.” Although the latter involves solar, hydro and wind energy projects, it is the company’s recent purchase of Westinghouse Electrics bankrupt nuclear energy division that demands the addition of the quotation marks around the phrase renewable energy. This recent purchase becomes even more interesting after discovering that Brookfield hopes to be involved in an ill-advised project being pushed by the Trump administration to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia.

    • Did the Left Betray Israel and Zionism?

      Israel and the Zionist ideology that its founding is based on have been topics at the heart of global politics for decades. On the left, progressives, especially Jewish intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, have become increasingly critical of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. At the same time, the self-defined Jewish state has lurched further right with each election. The plight of Palestinians is moving center-stage in global human rights discussions, and the questions of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution are continually debated on all sides of the political spectrum.

      In her recent book, “The Lion’s Den: Zionism and the Left from Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky,” New York University professor Susie Linfield traces the history behind what she views as a leftist abandonment of Zionism. Acknowledging that the occupation of the West Bank is part of the reason leftist thinkers are critical of Israel, the Jewish cultural journalism scholar tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer that she believes “there is more to the story.”

      “What I was really interested in was getting beyond just a discussion of the occupation—although that’s important, but that is written about, and still written about, including by Israeli journalists, a tremendous amount,” Linfield says in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence.” “[I was] trying to understand why the idea of Zionism—which I identify as a democratic state for the Jewish people, not a Jewish religious state—[has] always really been such a thorny, thorny issue for left-wing intellectuals.”

      Scheer, a Jewish journalist who himself has been critical of the Israeli occupation, disagrees strongly throughout the discussion with Linfield’s extreme condemnations of Chomsky, Arendt, I.F. Stone and others he views as having presaged the contradictions inherent in Zionism at an early stage.

    • Society Is In Decay–When the Worst Is First and the Best Is Last

      Plutocrats like to control the range of permissible public dialogue. Plutocrats also like to shape what society values. If you want to see where a country’s priorities lie, look at how it allocates its money. While teachers and nurses earn comparatively little for performing critical jobs, corporate bosses including those who pollute our planet and bankrupt defenseless families, make millions more. Wells Fargo executives are cases in point. The vastly overpaid CEO of General Electric left his teetering company in shambles. In 2019, Boeing’s CEO got a bonus (despite the Lion Air Flight 610 737 Max 8 crash in 2018). Just days before a second deadly 737 Max 8 crash in Ethiopia.

      This disparity is on full display in my profession. Public interest lawyers and public defenders, who fight daily for a more just and lawful society, are paid modest salaries. On the other hand, the most well compensated lawyers are corporate lawyers who regularly aid and abet corporate crime, fraud, and abuse. Many corporate lawyers line their pockets by shielding the powerful violators from accountability under the rule of law.

      Physicians who minister to the needy poor and go to the risky regions, where Ebola or other deadly infectious diseases are prevalent, are paid far less than cosmetic surgeons catering to human vanities. Does any rational observer believe that the best movies and books are also the most rewarded? Too often the opposite is true. Stunningly gripping documentaries earn less than 1 percent of what is garnered by the violent, pornographic, and crude movies at the top of the ratings each week.

      On my weekly radio show, I interview some of the most dedicated authors who accurately document perils to health and safety. The authors on my program expose pernicious actions and inactions that jeopardize people’s daily lives. These guests offer brilliant, practical solutions for our widespread woes (see ralphnaderradiohour.com). Their important books, usually go unnoticed by the mass media, barely sell a few thousand copies, while the best-seller lists are dominated by celebrity biographies. Ask yourself, when preventable and foreseeable disasters occur, which books are more useful to society?

      The monetary imbalance is especially jarring when it comes to hawks who beat the drums of war. For example, people who push for our government to start illegal wars (eg. John Bolton pushing for the war in Iraq) are rewarded with top appointments. Former government officials also get very rich when they take jobs in the defense industry. Do you remember anyone who opposed the catastrophic Iraq War getting such lucrative rewards?

      The unknown and unrecognized people who harvest our food are on the lowest rung of the income ladder despite the critical role they play in our lives. Near the top of the income ladder are people who gamble on the prices of food via the commodities market and those who drain the nutrients out of natural foods and sell the junk food that remains, with a dose of harmful additives. Agribusiness tycoons profit from this plunder.

      Those getting away with major billing fraud grow rich. While those people trying to get our government to do something about $350 billion dollars in health care billing fraud this year – like Harvard Professor Malcolm K. Sparrow – live on a college professor’s salary.

    • Reporter in Spain

      Eighty years ago this April, Spain fell under a thirty-year dictatorship after Right beat Left in a brutal civil war. That history feels acutely alive to me today, and not just because, for the first time in my life, I’m in Spain.

      General Franco’s rebels, backed by Mussolini and Hitler and the religious extremists of the day, defeated the Republic and its cobbled-together army of anarchists, communists and internationalists over three years (1936-39). My grandfather, Claud Cockburn, was there with the fighting in Spain’s central plains and in the city of Barcelona as it was hanging on, watching bombs hit the northern mountains that I’ve been looking at for days.

      Today, Spain is holding steady. Prime minister Pedro Sanchez and his socialist party expanded power in regional and national elections and became the biggest social democrat block in the EU. The nationalist populists did less well than they bragged they’d do in most of Europe, but the Left’s parties generally did the same, and progressives are relying on the Spanish and Portuguese to hold the bigots at bay in Brussels while, from Brazil to Bethlehem and Bombay to DC’s Beltway, the stink of fascism is in the air.

      It was windy yesterday, and between rain showers, we talked about being buffeted by old tensions: nationalism vs internationalism, authoritarianism vs democracy, elitism vs cooperation, patriarchy and racism vs intersectionality and the common good.

      “The story of resilience resonates,” said Loren Harris, a program officer with the education-focused Kenneth Rainin Foundation in Oakland. History is part of what draws internationalists like Harris back to this region. Another is its experiment in solidarity.

      “In the twentieth century, it was monarchy that was crashing. Today, it’s the rule of capital,” said the Democracy Collaborative’s Marjorie Kelly,* who, with Harris, was part of a delegation to study the area’s co-operatives.

      Claud described the co-ops and free clinics that helped Barcelonans survive under siege. For the past four years, Barcelona en Comu has been continuing that tradition, expanding public assets and public decision-making under the city’s first female mayor, activist Ada Colau. Here in Basque country, which was occupied and punished by Franco, a liberation theologian preached job creation through cooperation and birthed the Mondragon Federation, now the biggest network of worker-owned cooperatives in the world. Recently, the OECD reported that this co-op rich community has one of the narrowest wealth gaps on the continent, which is to say, the rich extract less relative to the poor—or put another way, the place is more fair.

      In Barcelona, Claud read from the wall posters: “We want prosperity for the whole people and we know this is possible within our democratic republic; that is why we defend the Republic, just as we defend the rightful liberties of Catalonia, the Basque country, Galicia and Morocco.”

    • A Dead Republican Strategist’s Work Could Destroy Voting Rights in America

      A Common Cause court case opposing Republican gerrymandering in North Carolina revealed that Trump officials lied about the 2020 census citizenship question in order to maintain “White” and “Republican Power”

    • Russia Wins

      On May 29th, Robert Mueller, Special Counsel of the Department of Justice told us: “If we had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

      It was a truth we already knew.

      Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) expressed it in concrete terms: “I think it’s really important that we do our job as a Congress, that we not allow misconduct to go undeterred. That we not just say, someone can violate the public trust and that there are no consequences to it…”

      Amash notes that reaching the conclusion that Trump needs to be impeached only required two things: taking his oath of office seriously and reading the Mueller Report. He is “confident that if you read Volume II, you’ll be appalled at much of the conduct,” and I agree. There is no means by which one can take their oath seriously and reach any other conclusion. There is no doubt about the findings in the report.

      To Mueller and Amash I owe a debt of gratitude. I hope that they do not carry the weight of regret in the future—it is the citizens who must own the irresponsibility that we—as a whole—needed to do more. But it is not necessary to give up; as clear as it is that Trump has committed crimes, and that he is unlikely to face consequences from spineless elected officials, there is power in the hands of the people.

      Mueller and Amash have reminded the public and placed emphasis on the truth: Russia attacked American democracy on behalf of Donald J. “I love Wikileaks” Trump.

    • New Hampshire Becomes 21st State to Abolish the Death Penalty

      Legislators in New Hampshire voted Thursday to do away with the death penalty, joining 20 other states that have made capital punishment a thing of the past. In a 16-8 vote, the state’s Senate overrode Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of a measure to abolish the practice, which state Sen. Melanie Levesque called “archaic, costly, discriminatory and violent.”

      The death penalty repeal bill passed New Hampshire’s House and Senate last year, but lawmakers couldn’t muster enough votes to override Sununu’s veto.

      According to Mother Jones, “New Hampshire is the latest to join the growing trend of states abolishing or putting a moratorium on the death penalty. Last year, Washington’s supreme court ruled the practice unconstitutional, and in March California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a moratorium, providing a reprieve for the 737 inmates on California’s death row.”

      New Hampshire’s death penalty—unlike California’s—was largely in name only. The last person executed in the state was Howard Long, who was hung in 1939 for the sexual abuse and murder of children. The state’s death row has only one inmate—Michael Addison, a black man, who has been on death row since 2008 for the 2006 murder of Michael Briggs, a white police officer.

    • Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz Agree: The Revolving Door Between Congress and Washington’s Lobby Industry Has Got to Go

      Better still, after Ocasio-Cortez and Cruz’s unexpected breakout of comity, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.), former chief of staff for Cruz, also chimed in with support.

      By going through Washington’s “revolving door,” lawmakers are effectively trading in on their relationships and knowledge to help companies profit and to enrich themselves – a pattern that has been in place for many years.

    • To Europe: A Love Letter

      While the world speaks of crisis I see the dawning of great opportunity for the of Europe. Western leaders hang their heads in shame and discomfort when instead they should charge bright eyed and confident towards the new future serendipitously just handed to them. Yes the old order is dying. But what shall emerge from it; what shall be called “good” and what “bad” has not been decided yet.

      Since the end of the Second World War Europe has dreamed a dream of plenitude and peace without conflict and sorrow. This is understandable given the egregious errors of the first half of the twentieth century. The prime locus of those errors was of course unbridled selfish nationalism better referred to as blind idiotic chauvinism. Anyone who wishes to return to that era should first visit the graveyards at Verdun and then the gas chambers at Auschwitz while pondering their continued allegiance to the ‘old faith’.

      Of course there is no stepping into the river of time twice for anyone, not even nation states. We cannot return to a twenty-first century version of the nineteenth century and expect a better outcome than before. Even if we could claim to be infinitely wiser than those who went before, such an unstructured competition between nations would soon lead to misunderstandings between relative equals and finally to a test of strength between the ever growing fearful. No we have danced this waltz before and the violin player has always been Mephistopheles himself. This time we shall sit this one out.

      The good news of course is: that the European project has worked.

      Yes it has worked. Throughout Europe nation states and their peoples have, even if at times ever so slightly, chosen Europe over their own national, narrow interests. Throughout Europe millions of people of widely different backgrounds and beliefs have shown themselves ready to make sacrifices for a common European destiny. While the elites dither, the people have dug in. Their leaders have asked much of them, maybe too much, and yet they have responded. In Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and in all the other members of the union, both big and small, there has been a great if silent outpouring of support for the European Union and the dream of cooperation and prosperity that stands behind it. This crisis has tantalizingly shown us that a European people have already been born.

    • The Left Should Direct the Impeachment Effort

      When, hours after being sworn in, democratic socialist Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib told an audience, “We’re going to impeach the motherfucker,” she put herself at the center of a heated strategic debate that is currently fracturing alliances among liberals and the left.

      “The Resistance” — the self-described coalition of moderate (mostly Democrat) voters that coalesced as formation in the frantic weeks following Hillary Clinton’s loss — is made up of the most activated people in the Democratic and progressive base. They hate President Trump, see that he has committed impeachable offenses, and want to see politicians take him to task, including through impeachment. But many in the Democratic Party leadership are hitting the brakes, and the left — socialists and long-term progressive activists — should see this as an opportunity. It is the job of socialists and progressives to change what is politically possible by directing existing political currents, rather than accepting them as a given.

      House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is forcefully making the case that Democrats should tamp down impeachment expectations and focus on elections. By pitting electoral success against impeachment hearings, Pelosi is creating an artificial binary that limits the political possibilities of impeachment while sidelining, and potentially demobilizing, a highly activated power base of Democratic voters. Inherent within this “pragmatic” style of politics is the notion that it is better to not fight than to take on a fight you might lose (regardless of merit). This approach to politics has a dismal track record and represents an all-too-familiar dynamic of Democrats in power abandoning, undercutting and disempowering their activist base.

      A left-wing impeachment plan can sever the base from the party leadership. It can allow the left to take initiative both in mobilizing the Democratic base to defeat Trump, and helping to shape the political character of that base. We can use impeachment to turn the animosity of regular Democratic voters against the oligarchs, demonstrate that socialists and our structural critiques are the strongest bulwark against the far right, and begin to realign the balance of power away from the imperial presidency while building a constituency for radical democratic reform.

    • The Bush Leagues: the College Admissions Scam

      When I hear the phrase “college admission scam” I reach for my copy of George W. Bush’s resume. This gem started to circulate not long after his first interviews when he ran for President, straining to recall the names of foreign leaders and stuttering through a series of painful contortions about the issues of the day. His alleged C-average at Yale hardly demeans the quality of this institution which like many private ones keeps slots open for legacy admissions. But his quite-average resume, earned before being elected President, offers the opportunity to reflect on the myth about the supposed superior value of an elite education.

      The obsession with scoring an elite school is to a great extent about rubbing noses with future Presidents and banking the blue pigment in as many institutions as possible through life, getting admittance to a rarefied culture that dispenses extraordinary privileges.

      Of course this all comes with no guarantee, but if you play your cards right your resume lines with bad business ventures, like Mr. Bush’s, might convert like alchemy into entrepreneurial gold for well-connected financial wizards, even lead to early golden parachutes.

      Studies show that the cream of the upper class, the relatively small number of mostly males who wield the power to influence the direction of the country, is overwhelmingly educated at elite private schools, and they constitute a virtually inbred family (Kloby, Dye). They attend the same prep schools that are bridges to the Ivy League. They major in wealth-maintenance subjects to manage their significant inheritances. They hang at the same exclusive clubs and intermarry. They command the kind of wealth that gives them perpetual lobbying power to make sure the rules stay the same.

      If you want to be a Supreme Court justice don’t go to a state college or university. The vast majority of appointments to this prestigious institution since its inception have been from five Ivy League schools.

      Studies also reveal the value of the elite sheepskin in competing for positions. A lower GPA and lesser-resume applicant from an Ivy League school will tend to get the job nod over the more qualified one with a mere public-school diploma. A less-credentialed ivy doctorate will often get the edge in academic appointments.

    • A Compulsive Matter: Mandatory Voting and Its Discontents

      The session is on Radio National, Australia’s effort at highbrow airings on the wireless. And, to be fair, it often does not disappoint. But on this occasion, there was a general sense of bonhomie amongst the participants on the Big Ideas segment, a glee about living in a glorious country far in advance of any on this terminally doomed earth. It sounded, in many ways, like the fond, electoral reiterations of the lately victorious prime minister, Scott Morrison: Australians live in a glorious country of few imperfections, so boo to the rest of you, savages of distant lands.

      The theme of the jovial self-congratulation of the panellists, featuring historians Judith Brett and Clare Wright, with jolly ABC moderator Annabel Crabb, was Suffragettes, referenda and sausages: the history of democracy in Australia, recorded at the Sydney Writers Festival on May 2 this year. The smug sense of the topic could be gathered from Radio National’s introduction to the program. “Australia was head of the pack with votes for women, an electoral commission and compulsory voting.”

      The fact that Australia, along with New Zealand, was a pioneer in voting systems is undeniable. The secret ballot was born down under, as it were. But what becomes clear in the themes of such panellists, and their publications, is a self-satisfied sense that compulsory voting is the indispensable tool to keep the enthusiastic nutters out and keep the beige and maliciously dull in. The “minority” are not in charge in Australia, goes this claim. Compulsory voting, as Crabb et al would have us believe, does away with the chance Australia might get a Donald Trump, for instance, victorious on the crest of an indignant white wave that flooded the polling booths when it mattered most.

      Section 245 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 is a delightful bit of drafting that brings the policing power of the state to bear upon an elector’s choice. It is condescending, the parent’s rebuke, a grand wrap across the knuckles of the disobedient. Not voting without a “valid and sufficient reason” means a sanction. Not voting often means a very stiff fine indeed. Cognates are to be found in countries such as Brazil, which punishes the non-voter by denying work in the public sector, loans from public banks or obtaining a passport.

    • The Kremlin’s lightning-fast flip-flop on Putin’s approval rating: A timeline

      VTsIOM, a state-owned polling agency, published a survey that placed Vladimir Putin’s approval rating at 31.7 percent, the lowest figure since Putin came to power in 2012.

    • State pollsters took care of Putin’s falling numbers single-handedly — by changing their questions

      VTsIOM, a fully state-owned Russian polling agency, changed the methodology behind its presidential approval rating surveys after Vladimir Putin’s approval numbers fell to their lowest point in history. Both versions of the poll measure approval in terms of “trust,” but formerly, the agency’s employees asked respondents an open-ended question: “Which of the following politicians do you trust?” In its most recent poll, VTsIOM asked multiple close-ended questions instead, requesting that each respondent offer an opinion on each politician listed in turn. The change enabled the agency to ask respondents directly, “Do you trust Vladimir Putin?” The president’s ratings under the old and new methodologies are radically different.

    • Mueller’s Dispute With Barr Is a Turning Point on the Road to Impeachment

      It’s too soon to tell for sure, but a couple of events this week may turn out to have been turning points in the Trump era. First, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a conservative Republican held a town hall meeting in his district to explain to his constituents why he has decided the president should be impeached. He was surprisingly well received. We learned that even some conservatives appreciate someone who has the courage to buck the party leadership on an issue of principle. Perhaps there’s a lesson in that for Democrats.

      The other event was the first comment anyone has heard from the sphinx-like special counsel Robert Mueller. More than few reporters and pundits called it a “game-changer,” if only because Mueller’s appearance proved that personal testimony is much more effective at telling a story than expecting people to read a 400-page report. If Mueller didn’t say anything on Wednesday that he hadn’t already said in the report, what he said was received very differently.

      Some of that was understandable, since Attorney General William Barr’s interpretation of the report was highly misleading and he has repeatedly put himself in front of the cameras to muddy the waters ever since the report was turned over. Barr even raced to a TV studio while on vacation in Alaska to respond to Mueller’s comments, clearly intending to get in the final word.

      As Salon’s Amanda Marcotte observed, the right-wing punditocracy (and Donald Trump) are very well aware of what Mueller said, and what he meant. They reacted with the vitriolic hysteria one would expect. The reason is obvious. They know that in his restrained way, Mueller made one thing very clear on Wednesday: His report was intended to be taken up by the Congress as an impeachment referral.

      But Mueller’s statement on Wednesday, summing up his investigation with a focus on his reasons for not charging Trump with a crime — despite all the evidence of criminal behavior documented in Volume II of his report — showed once again that Mueller and Barr have very different points of view about the obligations of a special counsel and the responsibilities of the Department of Justice. We now know for sure that Mueller does not agree with Barr’s decision to declare that Trump did not obstruct justice.

    • Sen. Lindsey Graham Faces Challenge From Ex-Podesta Group Lobbyist

      Already backed by fundraising money from lobbyists and foreign agents, a former Podesta Group lobbyist launched his campaign to unseat Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on May 29.

      Jaime Harrison, a longtime revolving door member with a lengthy lobbying history, announced he would seek the Democratic nomination to challenge President Donald Trump’s rival-turned-top supporter in 2020.

      Harrison seized upon Graham’s transition from a feuding 2016 primary opponent and staunch critic of Trump into one of the president’s strongest defenders in the Senate.

      “Lindsey Graham can’t lead us in any direction because he traded his moral compass for petty political gain,” Harrison said, announcing his run against the incumbent Senator.

      Two other Democrats are running, lawyer William Stone and economist and professor Gloria Tinubu, though neither have reported raising any money yet. Tinubu is the South Carolina state director for Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Democratic presidential campaign.

      Harrison started his career in D.C. as a staffer for Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). He became the first African-American chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party in 2013. His first turn toward the national spotlight was an unsuccessful run for Democratic National Committee chairman in 2017. The eventual chairman, Tom Perez, then made Harrison the associate chair of the DNC.

    • Bernie Supporters Say DNC Sabotaging Him Again By Promoting Biden

      Biden’s early domination over the rest of the Democrats – when Sanders had consistently been polling as the lead contender – smacks of 2016, when the DNC and Clinton campaign worked together to ensure that Sanders was left in the dust. Sanders, as some may recall, came to heel and rallied behind the former Secretary of State in her losing bid to Donald Trump.

      “The mainstream media and the DNC are colluding against the American people. That’s what it feels like. It’s the same thing all over again,” said Massachusetts neuroscientist and Bernie Sanders supporter Laurie Cestnick, who founded Occupy DNC in order to protest Clinton’s nomination during the party’s 2016 Philadelphia convention.

    • Russian trolls fueled anti-vaccination debate in U.S. by spreading misinformation on Twitter, study finds

      Russian Twitter trolls have attempted to fuel the anti-vaccination debate in the U.S., posting about the issue far more than the average Twitter user last year, a study out of George Washington University has found. The “sophisticated” bots shared opinions from both sides of the anti-vaxxer debate, which took the U.S. by storm and prompted tech companies to crack down on the spread of misinformation surrounding vaccinations.

      In the study, professor David Broniatowski and his colleagues say the Russian trolls’ efforts mimic those used in the past. Such trolls ramp up controversial issues in the U.S. by inflating different viewpoints, the study says.

      The U.S. is in the midst of the worst measles outbreak in the country in 25 years. Health officials say misinformation and anti-vax messages have led more people to avoid vaccination, allowing the disease to spread.

    • “Get Out of the President’s Way!”

      am totally convinced by the arguments David Cole and Elizabeth Drew make in the above quotations, as well as by Elijah Cumming’s remark that if the Congress failed to do its checks and balances Constitutional role, they might as well close up and go home.

      The President’s continued unflagging support, however, regardless of what sense and reasoning is presented tells us that he, his supporters and the entire American culture is deep within a “Do What Thou Wilt” mindset, more a mass delusion than anything to do with mind. What happens when you are dealing with an autocrat “wannabe” is that the “thou” is translated as “Do What I Will.”

      The President doesn’t mock rational and empirical ways of knowing alone; none of this post-truth attitude is original with him. It has long settled into the American cultural imaginary and so his assertion of his own will in the face of any and all opposition and contradiction is an heroic act, one that, judging by the way unyielding ignorance and idiocy cries out on social media, multitudes are striving for in their own lives.

      I propose that we let this string run its willful course and see where we wind up.

      I propose that we allow the President to have his own way at every turn, for Congress, coastal Elites, Liberal members of all courts, “fake news” of the Liberal media, House investigations, and all other impediments and obstructions to his will to get out of his way.

      “Lock her up!” might be a start, or at very least put Hillary under house arrest. We should respect the perspicacity of the President, who is an “extremely stable genius” when he tells us that Speaker Pelosi, “Crazy Nancy,” had “lost it.” So, she also, needs to be locked up after an intervention is made on her behalf.

      The President’s priority in regard to investigating Russian tampering with the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and any obstruction of this investigating is to investigate those who began such an investigation and who were mounting obstruction of justice charges against him.

    • White Nationalism and the Neoliberal Order

      Two related tendencies have sown confusion over the crisis of liberalism that continues to unfold across the U.S. and Europe. On the one hand, the forces of the political right are ascendant. Right-wing leaders are being elected as an apparent rebuke of the serial failures of neoliberalism. On the other, the will of the polity is increasingly irrelevant to the formulation and concerns of nominally public policies.

      In the U.S., the political establishment continues to put forward candidates which its functionaries appear to believe can best perpetuate this illusion of democracy. Befuddlement at the rise of reactionary forces is met with an increasingly strident insistence that there is nothing to react against, that all is well if people would only shut up and follow the directions of their betters.

      Despite the conspicuous failures of the existing order here and abroad— a series of murderous vanity wars intermingled with economic crises of increasing scale and scope, the seemingly unstoppable trajectory toward full-blown environmental crisis, nuclear weapons that serve as background psychic violence and political economy that is organized to milk the polity dry at every opportunity, the political powers-that-be seek to perpetuate this radically dysfunctional status quo.

      In this environment, the rise of illiberal, reactionary forces seems not only predictable, but to be the ugly cousin of the neoliberal resolve that all is well. Adding insult to injury is the insistence that the neoliberal order, the bi-partisan governance that fronts for the oligarchs, bears no responsibility for the consequences of four decades of neoliberal rule. It is the polity’s unwillingness to comport with the dictates of rule by and for the oligarchs that is the point of contestation, goes the chide.

    • WATCH: Israeli Diplomat offering MP £1 million

      The Labour Party have suspended Pete Willsman, a member of their National Executive Committee, for being “antisemitic”.

      The charge is that Willsman was recorded claiming that the antisemitism charges against the Labour party were all lies, and that a member of the Israeli embassy staff had been caught covertly giving money to Labour Friends of Israel, as well as planning to “take down” anti Israeli MPs.

      The recording was released to LBC radio. It sparked outrage in all the predictable places.

    • Trump’s Policies Are Harming Refugees Worldwide

      Since the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. resettlement program has provided safe harbor to more than 3.4 million refugees. This number might look large, but it represents relatively few of the millions of refugees in the past four decades who were fortunate enough to be thrown this life preserver.

      Resettlement is not only about rescuing individuals. It’s a critical tool, among others, the U.S. government has used to leverage support for countries on the front lines of refugee crises, and to convince them to uphold the rights of the vast majority of refugees living in camps and ghettos who may never be resettled.

      President Donald Trump’s slashing of resettlement numbers to the lowest point in the program’s history has upended the delicate burden-sharing equilibrium between the United States and front-line countries that has sustained millions of refugees during their protracted exile. Hundreds of thousands of refugee lives hang in that teetering balance.

      Plummeting resettlement numbers have had an enormous impact on all refugee groups — among them Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, and Sudanese — but perhaps on none more so than Somali refugees, nearly a million of whom live in austere and precarious conditions in Kenya, Yemen, and Ethiopia.

    • To Make Sure ‘No President Is Above the Law,’ Warren Calls for New Measure Enabling DOJ to Indict a President

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday set out to change a decades-old rule which allows a U.S. president to abuse power in any number of ways without being held accountable.

      In a Medium post titled “No President Is Above the Law,” the Massachusetts Democrat called on lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow for the indictment of a sitting president—a measure that would have allowed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to act on his decision not to exonerate President Donald Trump.

      “Donald Trump believes that he can violate the law, and he believes that the role of the Department of Justice is to help him get away with it,” Warren wrote. “That’s not how our country is supposed to work.”

    • If Pete Buttigieg Is the “Opposition” to Trump, We Are Screwed

      In a Democratic presidential nomination field crowded with questionable candidates, Pete Buttigieg stands out as uniquely compromised.

      The only millennial on Earth to sincerely describe themselves as a “laid-back intellectual,” Buttigieg has made it impressively far on identity alone. His website has a meme generator, for example, but no actual platform, leaving journalists to cobble one up out of tweets and interviews.

      What’s emerged in the past six months is a brazenly conservative agenda.

      To start, he doesn’t want single-payer health care because he can’t imagine a world without private insurance — one of the highest-profile symbols of the inhumanity of privatization. Instead, he wants “Medicare-for-all-who-want-it” to compete in the marketplace. “I don’t think we have to make it that complicated,” he says, sounding unnervingly like our current president.

      The rest of his policies are likely informed by his personal life (same-sex marriage) or his military career, the latter of which dominates his worldview. If he’s for gun control, it’s only because he “didn’t carry an assault rifle around a foreign country just to come home and see them used to massacre my countrymen.” Indeed, Buttigieg carried an assault rifle to oversee the murder of Brown people, not his own electorate.

      Buttigieg’s decorated service transforms him from a bootlicker into an actual boot-on-the-ground. He abandoned his elected duties to go to Afghanistan over a decade after everyone knew it was a phony war. Few “laid-back intellectuals” volunteer for war; fewer still come back believing in it. But Buttigieg can’t get enough: He’s afraid of Iran, blames Hamas for the devastating conditions in Gaza and thinks the U.S. has a lot to learn from how Israel “handles threats.”

      He abandoned his elected duties to go to Afghanistan over a decade after everyone knew it was a phony war.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • At a Moscow university focused on openness to innovation, censorship accusations roil a student-run talk show

      Lyubov Sobol is an attorney for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, a Russian investigative organization run by opposition politician Alexey Navalny. On May 29, Sobol said she had been invited to an interview with To the Point! Persona, a talk show run by journalism students at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE), only to have the interview cancelled two days before it was set to air. The rector of the prestigious university, which was established after the collapse of the Soviet Union to train Russian students in previously suppressed social scientific disciplines, said the student show was suspended in March. He claimed that no one had invited Sobol to the program and went so far as to say that the interview would have gone against the university’s political neutrality policy because Sobol is running for a seat in the Moscow City Duma. Sobol herself, on the other hand, has argued that the whole controversy is a result of the rector’s own City Duma campaign.

    • Russian version of new Elton John biopic, ‘Rocketman,’ removes all gay scenes

      Moviegoers in Russia won’t see the full version of “Rocketman,” a new biopic from Paramount Pictures about the musician Elton John, starring Taron Egerton. At the film’s premiere in Moscow on May 30, journalists learned that the Russian edit of the movie cuts all scenes showing men kissing and engaging in sexual intimacy. All scenes showing the use of illegal narcotics have also been removed.

      [...]

      “Rocketman” is scheduled for release in Russia on June 6. The film is restricted to adults.

    • A censored edit of ‘Rocketman’ premieres in Moscow, unleashing a meme war

      The world-famous musician Elton John has been openly gay for more than a quarter of a century, and at one time drugs were also an integral part of his life. Naturally, all this features big in “Rocketman,” the new biopic from Paramount Pictures, starring Taron Egerton. The film even features an epilogue before the closing credits, where audiences learn that John ultimately fell in love. There’s also a photograph showing the happy couple together.

      But not in Russia, where the film’s distributor, “Central Partnership,” decided to cut all the scenes of drugs and gay sex “to comply with the laws of the Russian Federation.” The company even removed the text from the epilogue about John falling in love with a man. The Russian version of the movie is being censored like this, even though it’s rated “18 and older” for audiences. Federal officials at Russia’s Culture Ministry insist that they never asked Central Partnership to delete anything from the film.

    • Russian experimental theater director arrested on Red Square for holding poster that reads ‘Against the Stanislavsky method’

      Alexey Yershov, the director of Theater To Go, was arrested on Red Square after he stood at the Moscow landmark holding a poster with the slogan “Against the Stanislavsky Method,” journalist and Pussy Riot member Pyotr Verzilov reported.

      Verzilo told Mediazona that Yershov’s picket was part of a “theatrical laboratory” run by the Taganka Theater. Pussy Riot member Veronika Nikulshina also stood with an identical slogan in Moscow’s Elk Forest nature preserve.

    • Minds, the ‘Anti-Facebook,’ Has No Idea What to Do About All the Neo-Nazis

      A social network described as the “anti-Facebook” has become a haven for neo-Nazis connected to militant hate groups, Motherboard has found.

      Minds is a US-based social network that bills itself as being focused on transparency (its code is open source), free speech, and cryptocurrency rewards for users. Much of the recent media coverage around Minds, which launched in 2015, has focused on how it challenges social media giants and its adoption of cryptocurrency, while also noting that the site’s light-touch approach to content moderation has led to a proliferation of far-right viewpoints being shared openly on its platform.

      [...]

      Under-scrutinized sites like Minds—which often have less rigorous moderation rules and practices than some social media giants—allow hate groups to exist unfettered online, even when platforms with millions of users like Facebook and Twitter deplatform them. Minds is working on letting users moderate content using a “jury system” that lets users vote on whether content should be allowed on the site.

      Motherboard was led to Minds after tracing the online footprints of far-right groups including Atomwaffen Division (an American hate group connected to several murders) and the Europe-based Feuerkrieg Division, which bills itself as an underground paramilitary group and has called for political assassinations. On Minds, social media profiles connected to these groups maintained accounts.

      In addition to these self-styled paramilitary groups, there are Minds accounts linked to Patriot Front, a white nationalist organization associated with the neo-Nazi who killed Heather Heyer at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, and the Canadian chapter of Generation Identity, a global hate group that came under fire after it was revealed the Christchurch terror suspect had donated money to one of its European chapters.

    • Russian Science and Education Ministry defends controversial changes in attestation commission as prominent academics protest

      This week, a new roster was announced for Russia’s Higher Attestation Commission (VAK), which is charged with forming dissertation committees and reviewing defended dissertations. The roster triggered a heated controversy among many of the country’s leading academics. On May 31, for example, an influential group of Russian Academy of Sciences scholars called the July 1 Club expressed frustration at the fact that the new VAK member list includes many individuals who have already served two terms, which is the limit designated in the commission’s charter. The scholars called for the Russian Academy of Sciences to take control of the VAK and “completely reorganize its work.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Not wanting to share Facebook’s fate, Google puts devs on data diet, tightens lid on cookie jar

      Google on Thursday announced plans to tighten its requirements for developers of Chrome extensions and apps that utilize the Drive API as part of a previously announced re-evaluation of third-party access to Google user data.

      The Chocolate Factory said that in the fall Chrome extensions will only be allowed to request the narrowest possible permissions to implement app functions, a change intended to preclude the sort of unrestrained data harvesting evident in Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.

      Concern about Facebook-scale victimization at the hands of disingenuous app devs led Google to enact Project Strobe, an audit of developer API access that put the final nail in the Google+ coffin last year.

      The permission limitation, implemented as a Chrome Web Store policy, echoes similar measures that have been applied to Android and Gmail developers. For example, it will prevent a developer from creating a Chrome extension that declares the “bookmarks” permission in order to have access to the chrome.bookmarks API if the plug-in app has no legitimate need to access that data.

    • State Department Requiring Visa Applicants to Reveal Social Media Accounts, Raising Deportation Concerns

      The State Department Friday put new regulations in place for visa applicants, requiring disclosure of social media accounts, a move that critics worry could lead to an easier path for deportations.

      Applicants for visas will be required to provide a list of their social media account usernames, email addresses, and phone numbers upon applying. These restrictions, which AP reported will affect up to 15 million people a year, were previously only used for applicants who were flagged by the department.

      In an interview with Common Dreams, Dan Feidt, a reporter with Unicorn Riot and privacy advocate, speculated that the new rules could be used to expedite deportation proceedings.

      “They can falsely attribute some social media activity to you and claim you lied about it,” said Feidt.

      Feidt added that he believes the new rules could provide a bigger “attack surface” for the government to target applicants with—giving more of a chance that the government could find inconsistencies to then use as the justification for deportation.

      “It’s a much larger set of info they can claim you potentially lied about and get at you with,” said Feidt. “Before, you had to provide less info to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, so there was less to get attacked about.”

    • There Are Cameras Everywhere. It’s Time to Reject the Surveillance State.

      My little corner of the world is a spaghetti bowl of winding two-lane country roads, the sort of meandering double-yellow blacktops adored by Autumn leaf-peepers and car commercial producers. Those twists and turns also make great defilade for speed-trapping police cars: Come ‘round the bend with a shade too much speed, ah shit.

      This is where the high-beam flip comes in handy.

      The high-beam flip came into common usage in the 1970s, when new steering column configurations incorporated a stem control which allowed drivers to easily and quickly switch from regular headlights to high beams and back again; before the design change, you turned on your high beams with a switch on the floor by the pedals.

      The trick is simple: Pass a cop parked for a speed trap, and flip your high beams on and off at oncoming cars to warn them. If, like me, you believe that speed traps are dangerous because they make people abruptly slam on the brakes, and if you also believe pushback against authority is a healthy necessity in any free society, the beam flip is for you.

    • Group Seeks Investigation of Deep Packet Inspection Use by ISPs

      European Digital Rights (EDRi), together with 45 NGOs, academics and companies across 15 countries, has sent an open letter to European policymakers and regulators, warning about widespread and potentially growing use of deep packet inspection (DPI) by internet service providers (ISPs).

      In simple terms, DPI is the analysis of the content of a packet. This is far more than is required by the ISP to perform its basic purpose — to provide user access to the internet, and route that access to its required destination. It is therefore by its nature privacy invasive, and not strictly legal within the EU.

      Nevertheless, EDRi is concerned that its practice and use within Europe is growing, and that “some telecom regulators appear to be pushing for the legalization of DPI technology.” One of the drivers appears to be the growing use of ‘zero-rating’ by mobile operators. “A mapping of zero-rating offers in Europe conducted by EDRi member Epicenter.works identified 186 telecom services which potentially make use of DPI technology,” writes (PDF) EDRi. Zero-rating is the inclusion of specified services where any use counts as zero usage of the purchased bandwidth.

    • Facebook: “There Is No Invasion Of Privacy At All, Because There Is No Privacy”

      Facebook is doing whatever it takes to curb any repercussions from the Cambridge Analytics scandal. Still, the list of lawsuits the company hasn’t ended yet.

      Right now Facebook is defending itself against a class-action lawsuit related to the scandal. According to a report by Law360, the company’s CEO Orin Synder has made a comment that people who use social media sites “have no expectation of privacy.”

      “There is no invasion of privacy at all, because there is no privacy,” he said on Wednesday in an attempt to wrap up the case.

      Synder argued that Facebook is more of a “town square” where people come and share personal information.

      He added that you need to closely guard something closely to have “a reasonable expectation of privacy.” However, he did try to assure that Facebook has a focus on privacy for the future.

      District Judge Vince Chhabria was quick to turn down Synder’s argument and said it was contrary to Facebook’s stance on privacy.

    • US Military To Use Fish For Underwater Surveillance

      fter deploying robots for surveillance on the ground and air, the US military is planning to recruit fish to strengthen under-water surveillance. An ongoing study funded by DARPA is testing whether the army can rely on marine animals like Goliath Grouper and bioluminescent plankton to detect enemy oceangoing drones and underwater weapons.

      The project is called Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors (PALS) and it leverages marine animals’ ability to respond to the changes in sound, optical, chemical and electromagnetic fields in the water they live in.

    • Foreign spies may be hiding in your VPN, warns DHS

      Many people do trust their VPN provider. A lot. Unfortunately, some of them shouldn’t, going by what a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) higher-up recently said.

      In a letter sent to Senators Ron Wyden and Marco Rubio on 22 May 2019, Chris Krebs, director of DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), wrote that foreign adversaries are interested in exploiting VPN services.

    • Introducing Librem Social

      Librem Social is part of a network of social network servers already boasting over 2,000,000 users!

      Two Million!

      Follow friends. Make new ones. Share stories, pictures, and videos with them. Librem One is ready and growing. Fast.

    • San Francisco Police Union Steps Up To Criticize Police Chief Over His Handling Of The Leak Investigation

      This is fantastic. Not in the way something amazing and pure is fantastic, but fantastic in the way that only an oft-maligned profession feeding on itself can be. It could be lawyers or debt collectors or Instagram influencers. In this case, it’s law enforcement.

      Someone in the San Francisco Police Department tried to disparage a dead public defender/police critic by leaking a police report on his death. The person apparently on the receiving end — stringer Bryan Carmody — shopped it to a few local journalists. The SFPD decided the leak investigation should wend its way through Carmody’s house. So, officers raided his place and walked off with $10,000-worth of laptops, phones, tablets, and other electronics.

      Sidestepping the state’s journalist shield law has not worked out well for the SFPD. After some momentary commiseration from San Francisco public officials, the SFPD is now surrounded by critics. And it’s not just the normal critics. Even the District Attorney has publicly stated he doesn’t see how this search could possibly have legal — a surprising turn of events considering most prosecutors tend to support the local PD (or stay silent) when the PD fucks things up.

      The chief of police has also issued an official apology for the actions of the officers he oversees. Chief Bill Scott turned over the leak investigation to an outside department and said the warrant obtained to search the journalist’s home lacked “clarity” and was “concerning.”

    • Internal Report Says DOJ Did Nothing Wrong Targeting Journalists’ Communications To Hunt Down Leakers

      The DOJ’s current prosecution of Julian Assange threatens the profession of journalism. By turning cultivating sources and publishing classified documents into acts of treason, the DOJ is undermining protections supposedly guaranteed by the First Amendment and shored up by years of case law.

      But the DOJ has been undermining these protections for years. Six years ago, news surfaced that the DOJ had issued 30 subpoenas for AP journalists’ phone records. The fallout from this continues, which includes the DOJ modifying (very slightly) its rules for obtaining journalists’ communication records.

      When it comes to leak investigations, all bets — and all Constitutional protections — are off, apparently. The rules have exceptions and justifications to allow the DOJ to do what it wants to do anyway: spy on journalists until it can find the leak source. A new Office of Professional Responsibility report obtained by the Freedom of the Press Foundation FOIA request shows the DOJ convincing itself that threatening press freedoms is a responsible use of its powers.

    • Edward Who? The Snowden Affair Ends with a Whimper

      It’s been more than six years since Edward Snowden went public. After all the breathless headlines, Hollywood movies, book deals, Pulitzer prizes, and glossy primetime biopics. What, pray tell, has come of it? For the average American – bupkis. In fact, mass surveillance is actually growing by leaps and bounds. Such that those who wish to salvage the remnants of their individual privacy will be forced to make some tough choices in the years ahead.

      Ed Snowden, holed up in Russia, has faded into history. At the forefront of the Snowden disclosures, the news outlet known as The Intercept has officially shuttered its archives. They made their moulah and moved on. And what of the considerable streak of confidential sources who’ve been thrown in the pokey? The editors aren’t talking much about how that happened. In fact they seem more interested in selling people email servers in a box. Hey, is this web page supposed to be an advertisement or an article? In the era of social media it can be hard to tell the difference.

      History offers a glimpse behind the curtain. During the early days of the Cold War it was common practice for the political leaders in the Soviet Union to purge the KGB every so often. Because over time Russian spymasters accrued enough political dirt and power that they threatened to take over. With the ascendance of Vladimir Putin one might argue that the rebranded KGB finally succeeded.

      In a similar manner, American intelligence escaped the Snowden revelations largely unscathed. That, dear reader, ought to tell you something. Sure there was lots of grandstanding and feigned outrage. Sure CEOs made bold statements of renunciation (ahem, after being caught in bed with spies). Keeping the kayfabe alive, as Jesse Ventura might say. Rest assured, claims Apple CEO Tim Cook, your iPhone would never ever spy on you. Yeah, and the relationship between Silicon Valley and government spies is completely adversarial, they can’t stand each other. Just like the blood feud Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan back in the late 1980s. Uh-huh, just like that. A total farce which the media enables because that’s what they’re paid to do.

      But ultimately what matters is concrete institutional change. And there’s been zero of that, as in nada. Because genuine privacy threatens advertising revenue, quarterly returns, and spy power. And the elites want to keep the money train chugging along. Perhaps it no surprise then that the legislative response to Snowden was so watered down that one former spy chief publicly lampooned it. Let’s hear three cheers for state capture.

    • Edward Snowden: With Technology, Institutions Have Made ‘Most Effective Means of Social Control in the History of Our Species’

      NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said Thursday that people in systems of power have exploited the human desire to connect in order to create systems of mass surveillance.

      Snowden appeared at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia via livestream from Moscow to give a keynote address for the Canadian university’s Open Dialogue Series.

      Right now, he said, humanity is in a sort of “atomic moment” in the field of computer science.

      “We’re in the midst of the greatest redistribution of power since the Industrial Revolution, and this is happening because technology has provided a new capability,” Snowden said.

      “It’s related to influence that reaches everyone in every place,” he said. “It has no regard for borders. Its reach is unlimited, if you will, but its safeguards are not.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How One Man Survived Syria’s Gulag

      Like thousands of others, Omar Alshogre was repeatedly tortured in Bashar al-Assad’s prisons—but unlike so many, he got out. Now he’s telling the world about the regime’s industrial-scale brutality.

    • German court orders fines for ‘Shariah police’ vigilantes

      Members of a “Shariah police” vigilante group have been handed fines for donning illegal uniforms. The men had attempted to impose a “Shariah controlled zone” in the western German city of Wuppertal.

    • Nusrat Jahan Rafi: 16 charged in Bangladesh for burning girl alive

      Nusrat Jahan Rafi, 19, was doused with kerosene and set on fire on the roof of her Islamic school on 6 April, days after filing a complaint.

      Headmaster Siraj Ud Doula, targeted in the complaint, is among those charged.

      Police say he ordered her murder from prison when she refused to withdraw her accusations against him.

    • Bangladesh to charge 16 over murder of teenager burned to death

      Nusrat Jahan Rafi was 18 when her killers poured kerosene over her and set her on fire on the roof of her school after she refused to withdraw a sexual harassment complaint against the head teacher.

    • Two West Papuan people tortured to death by Indonesian prison guards

      The Free West Papua Campaign calls upon Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and all human rights groups to help investigate and document this terrible case.

    • Iran’s Regime Bans Women From Riding Bicycles in Isfahan

      The Iranian regime’s official news agency IRNA quoted Prosecutor Ali Esfahani as saying: “As per the attestation of Muslim scholars, and based on the law, cycling by women in public is haram (prohibited).”

    • Stamp featuring local church sparks debate in Malaysia

      Each stamp features a landmark building of one of the five main religions in Malaysia, including the St George’s Church in Penang, which was singled out by the Isma chief.

      Civil rights lawyer Syahredzan Johan wrote on Twitter: “According to Aminuddin Yahaya, the president of Isma, Islam is being bullied because now there is a stamp with a church. But in 2016, (Malaysia) was under Barisan Nasional. Isma kept quiet then.

    • Expert Explains Why Daesh Referred to Specific “Caliphate” in India for 1st Time

      To some extent India is now succeeding in cornering and eliminating the sources of cross-border terror that flourish in Pakistan, however the intervention of Daesh in this theatre is a new dynamic, and India will take strong steps to pre-empt any hooks that Daesh may try to get in Kashmir.

    • Painting of Muslim Men Sexually Enslaving White Women Triggers Outrage

      “We are strongly opposed to the use of this work to advance any political agenda,” objects Olivier Meslay, director of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, which houses the original painting. He said his museum had written to AfD, “insisting that they cease and desist in using this painting.” Despite the rather legal tone, the painting is in the public domain; even Meslay acknowledges that “there are no copyrights or permissions that allow us to exert control over how it is used other than to appeal to civility on the part of the AfD Berlin.”

    • Germany: Leading politicians call for a ‘European Islam’

      The topic of burkas is one of particular concern for both Spahn and Günther. “When women and girls appear fully-veiled at universities and schools, then we do not just have the option to resist, we must resist,” they wrote.

    • Ayaan understands Islam’s Jew-hating Jihad for the prophet

      Speaking at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal, on May 13, 2019, Somali ex-Muslim conscientious objector to Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, warned her capacity audience that the “scale and scope” of Islamic Antisemitism remains incomprehensible to most Westerners, rendering this ugly, burning hatred even more dangerous.

      “Little attention is paid (to it) and that is a pity because it is the most zealous, most potent Jew hatred. It both condemns Jews wholesale and seeks to destroy the State of Israel.”

      She further maintained that the majority of Muslims have not learned “to think for themselves” and are fearful of disagreeing with what Islam’s prophet Muhammad dictated. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali clearly suggested, it is the deep abiding hatred for Jews Muhammad instilled in Islam, which even present day Muslims “fear” rejecting, that animates both the global pandemic of extreme Muslim Antisemitism which hard survey data confirm, and the relentless jihad to annihilate Jewish Israel.

    • ‘Spiritual healer’ arrested for throwing acid on maid

      During 2018, at least 16 incidents of acid attacks and cases of the burning of women were reported in Faisalabad. In most cases, women were either attacked with acid or set ablaze over honour. In total, six of the victims lost their lives. However, the irony is that cases of six out of 16 such brutal incidents were dropped due to an agreement between the two parties and owing to the flexibility in law.

    • Budapest Chronicle

      The median GDP per capita of Western Europe is approximately $50,000, while that of Africa is likely around $3,000 — which results in a differential of 17 to 1.

      According to a recent Gallup poll, one in every three Africans dreams of moving to and settling in Europe.

    • Tlaib turns history on its head with ‘safe haven’ comment – analysis

      On Saturday, US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib claimed that she thought it was her Palestinian ancestors who provided a “safe haven for Jews.” According to a report, she claimed that while Palestinians had “lost their land and some lost their lives,” it was done “in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-Holocaust, post-tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time. And I love that it was my ancestors that provided that in many ways.” One problem. That’s the opposite of what happened.

    • The Supreme Court stands up for the Crow Tribe’s right to hunt in Wyoming

      The story behind the case began in the winter of 2013, when Clayvin Herrera and a group of Crow hunters tracked a small herd of elk from Montana across the Wyoming state line into the Bighorn National Forest. After killing three animals, Mr Herrera and his fellow hunters carried the meat back to their reservation in Montana to feed their families and other members of the tribe. Wyoming soon charged and convicted Mr Herrera of illegal hunting, but the Crow member believed he was well within his rights under the Reconstruction-era Treaty of Fort Laramie. In exchange for ceding 30m acres of land to the United States, the Crow would enjoy “the right to hunt on the unoccupied lands of the United States so long as game may be found thereon, and as long as peace subsists among the whites and Indians on the borders of the hunting districts”.

    • From drinking wine on a plane, to calling someone a ‘horse’ on Facebook: Here are 5 times Westerners got in trouble with Dubai’s strict legal system

      Radha Stirling helps many of these foreigners with her NGO Detained in Dubai. She told Business Insider that foreigners often don’t appreciate the risk they are taking when traveling to Dubai.

    • Turkey: Erdogan Describes Armenian Genocide as ‘Reasonable Relocation’

      “Erdogan’s statement was factually flawed, deceptive and insulting,” Vicken Babkenian, an independent researcher for the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, told Gatestone in a recent interview.

      Babkenian, a descendant of genocide survivors on both sides of his family, explained: [...]

    • When Turkey Destroyed Its Christians

      From 1894 to 1924, a staggered campaign of genocide targeted not just the region’s Armenians but its Greek and Assyrian communities as well.

    • Photos of the Tiananmen Square Protests Through the Lens of a Student Witness

      For years, he tried to forget the bloodshed he had seen and locked away his memories in the 60 rolls of film — about 2,000 photos — he had shot using an analog camera.

      By releasing his images publicly, Mr. Liu joins a small group of Chinese historians, writers, photographers and artists who have tried to chronicle the chapters in Chinese history that the party wants erased from public memory.

      “Reflection is only possible in a democratic and peaceful place,” he said. “Under autocratic rule, it is impossible for you to discuss this.”

    • Tiananmen Square photos China never wanted the world to see, 30 years later

      Thirty years ago, from April 15 to June 4, 1989, the world was gripped by coverage of some of the largest protests in modern Chinese history. As many as a million people occupied the central Tiananmen Square in Beijing in protest against inflation, government corruption, and restrictions on freedom of speech and political participation.

      Eventually, the State Council declared martial law and mobilized 300,000 soldiers to the Chinese capital. On June 4, troops armed with assault rifles and tanks fired into the crowds of demonstrators and bystanders, killing thousands.

    • Glavin: Tiananmen Square – China’s 30 years of denial and suppression

      The man in the photograph was alone, standing in front of a line of tanks. He was wearing a white shirt and black trousers. He was carrying a shopping bag. It was the morning of June 5, 1989, the day after Chinese troops massacred thousands of pro-democracy protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

      The image has come to serve as a kind of symbolic, final act of defiance, the last tragic gesture in a non-violent uprising that lasted nearly two months and brought millions of people into the streets of more than 300 Chinese cities before it was brutally crushed in a mayhem of state-organized mass murder.

      In the days leading up to the June 4 atrocities, as many as one million people were gathering every day in Tiananmen Square. It is not known how many people were eventually slaughtered. Over the years, leaked documentary evidence has pushed the death toll upwards from a Chinese Red Cross report that put the tally at 2,700 civilians, to a secret British diplomatic cable uncovered two years ago that puts the death toll in excess of 10,000.

    • Why China suddenly blocked Wikipedia in all languages

      The full Wikipedia ban comes on the cusp of the Tiananmen Square protests’ 30-year anniversary, when Chinese authorities killed thousands of students protesting. It’s not uncommon for China’s government to add heightened censorship ahead of major political anniversaries or milestones, reports the South China Morning Post.

    • 30 years on from Tiananmen Square crackdown, why Beijing still thinks it got it right

      Three decades have passed since the Tiananmen Square crackdown when troops fired on student-led pro-democracy protesters

    • The Tiananmen Massacre, 30 years on: The troubled history of the Goddess of Democracy

      The first replica, according to the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, was made on June 18, 1989, by more than ten artists and 60 students of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. It was created so Hong Kong people could visit Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and mourn the dead.

      The creators were unable to find a permanent home for this replica, and – by the end of 1989 – it had been dismantled.

      Another replica was made with barbed wire in the early 1990s, which was used in commemorative events during Ching Ming Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, as well during the anniversary of the massacre.

      But the most prominent replica may be the one created with fibreglass in 2004. At 2.4 metres tall, it has been used during candlelight vigils on the anniversary of the massacre.

    • MOSTYN: Al Quds Day march an embarrassment to Toronto

      The city’s failure to stop this outrage – and its instance on subsidizing this hate rally at taxpayers’ expense – is an unmitigated municipal embarrassment.

    • CAIR-Philadelphia’s Distorted View of Children Singing about Beheadings and of the San Diego Synagogue Attack

      And though it is true that white supremacy is a real danger to both Jews and Muslims, after the world witnessed the video that went viral of Islamic leaders in Philadelphia teaching their children to chop off the heads of Jews, is it also abundantly clear that Islamists are a danger to Jews and other people Islamists call “infidels.” Yet such activities in Philadelphia, while far more relevant to CAIR-Pennsylvania’s purview, do not garner the same level of condemnation by the staff of CAIR Philadelphia.

      While this may have been the first such video to be produced and seen in Philadelphia, videos such as this have been produced and shown on Hamas and Palestinian Authority TV for over twenty years. It wasn’t an “oversight,” as the Muslim American Society’s Philadelphia chapter claims, it was deliberate.

    • Don’t Call Socially Conservative Political Parties “Christian”

      None of those issues are specifically Christian. None of them are mentioned directly in the New Testament. I even think Christians can be for some version of all of them (though it makes sense to me that most Christians would oppose the first two at least). Therefore “social conservative” is a much more accurate label than “Christian” for a party focused on opposing those changes.

    • Promoting a toxic modesty culture does a disservice to Muslim women

      This modest way of life obsessed with a dangerous purity culture, honour and virginity denigrates a women’s worth as a human being and reduces their existence to a sexual object that is only created to serve men.

      Many women comply with this toxic modesty culture under duress across the Muslim world, where they are treated as a man’s property.

      This modesty culture perpetuates victim blaming, honour killing and the overall subjugation of women by putting the onus on women to protect themselves from harassment and assault. Hijab, burqa and niqab are the visible pillars upon which this misogynistic system is upheld.

    • Vigilantes Attack Tehran University Students Protesting Strict Hijab

      Posts by students on social media reported that pressures on female students have been redoubled during recent days as the beginning of Ramadan coincided with the start of an early summer weather. Both occasions usually trigger vigilante groups to campaigns for strict Islamic dress code.

    • CAIR Report Conflates Anti-Muslim Bigotry with Opposition to Islamism

      Why does CAIR consider legislation aimed at violent Islamist movements to be “Islamophobic?” Even the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates have designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. Are these prominent Islamic nations “Islamophobic,” too?

      With this report, CAIR seeks to bully critics of radical Islamism into submission by conflating anti-Muslim bigotry with any legitimate concerns about Islamist extremism — to the detriment of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

    • John Walker Lindh: What happens when you release a ‘traitor’?

      John Walker Lindh and hundreds more have been sent to prison for terrorism, treason and other crimes. The release of the “American Taliban”, scheduled for Thursday, shows how little the US has done to prepare for the moment they are set free.

    • Academe’s Extinction Event

      All around them, the humanities burned. The number of jobs in English advertised on the annual MLA job list has declined by 55 percent since 2008; adjuncts now account for all but a quarter of college instructors generally. Whole departments are being extirpated by administrators with utilitarian visions; from 2013 to 2016, colleges cut 651 foreign-language programs. Meanwhile the number of English majors at most universities continues to swoon.

      None of this shows any sign of relenting. It has, in fact, all the trappings of an extinction event that will alter English — and the rest of the humanities — irrevocably, though no one knows what it will leave in its wake. What’s certain is that the momentum impelling it is far past halting; behind that momentum lies the avarice of universities, but also the determination of politicians and pundits to discredit humanistic thinking, which plainly threatens them. They have brought on a tipping point: The stories they have told about these disciplines — of their pointlessness, of the hollowness of anything lacking entrepreneurial value — have won out over the stories the humanists themselves have told, or not told.

      [...]

      Her thesis was unsparing. “We have rhapsodized demolition as liberation while literally laying ruin to the university,” she argued, “a horror to be beheld by future historians — in the unlikely event there are any.” Literary theorists, by prizing an ethos of destruction in the name of freedom, had ironically aligned themselves with the external forces — political, administrative — that had for years conspired to obliterate the institution in which they work.

    • Iraq’s Christians ‘close to extinction’

      In an impassioned address in London, the Rt Rev Bashar Warda said Iraq’s Christians now faced extinction after 1,400 years of persecution.

      Since the US-led invasion toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003, he said, the Christian community had dwindled by 83%, from around 1.5 million to just 250,000.

      “Christianity in Iraq,” he said, “one of the oldest Churches, if not the oldest Church in the world, is perilously close to extinction. Those of us who remain must be ready to face martyrdom.”

    • Genocide of Christians Reaches “Alarming Stage”

      Many of the world’s most persecuted Christians have nothing whatsoever to do with colonialism or missionaries. Those most faced with the threat of genocide — including Syria’s and Iraq’s Assyrians or Egypt’s Copts — were Christian several centuries before the ancestors of Europe’s colonizers became Christian and went missionizing

    • ‘God, Please Help Her’: Indian Parents Agonize Over Radicalization Of Their Children

      ISIS recruitment has not been concentrated in northern India, though, where most of the country’s Muslims live. It’s happening in the south, which has stronger labor ties with the Persian Gulf. Millions of southern Indians work in the Middle East and send money home.

      Kasaragod, the area of northern Kerala where Sampath’s daughter is believed to have been radicalized, is prosperous, flush with remittances from the Gulf. From centuries-old spice routes to modern-day migrant workers, Kerala has historic and continuous ties to Gulf countries. Remittances, mostly from the Gulf, make up more than a third of the state’s economy.

      With Gulf money often comes Gulf values — especially for area Muslims, Kadakkal notes.

    • Asia Bibi’s plight retrains the spotlight on Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law

      This “black law”, Pakistan Penal Code’s (PPC) Section 295-C, inserted into the Penal Code by an Act in 1986, has made hundreds rot in jail. It seeks to punish with death individuals who insult the Holy Prophet in “word gesture or innuendo” — it typically targets the minorities in Pakistan.

      The Ahmadis, declared a non-Muslim minority in 1974, collectively insult the Prophet by allegedly violating the doctrine that he was the last prophet. All Christians, by reason of their belief in the Old Testament, attract death penalty because the Old Testament, which the Muslims believe is fake, contains insulting references to the prophets mentioned in the Quran. All the Shia community, who disagree on the status of the Companions of the Prophet, by innuendo insult the Holy Prophet, and therefore may be collectively liable to be punished under the law.

    • Is It Too Late to Save Christianity in the Middle East?

      Some of the residents of Karamles view ISIS as an extreme expression of a hostility that predated the terror group’s rise, and remains after its defeat. In Iraq, discrimination is written directly into the constitution. Drafted two years after the 2003 U.S. invasion, the document declares Islam the country’s official religion and forbids any law that “contradicts the established provisions of Islam.” This shapes life in mundane yet meaningful ways. ID cards designate citizens as Muslim, Christian, Mandaean, Yazidi. Non-Muslim men cannot marry Muslim women. Children of mixed parentage are automatically classified as Muslims if one of their parents is Muslim, even if they are born of rape. For many Christians living in northern Iraq, discrimination is a part of life: Many non-Christians won’t hire Christians at their businesses. Families closely monitor their daughters out of fear that they’ll be targeted for sexual violence.

    • How Selective Empathy Can Chip Away At Civil Society

      Then, more than a decade ago, a certain suspicion of empathy started to creep in, particularly among young people. One of the first people to notice was Sara Konrath, an associate professor and researcher at Indiana University. Since the late 1960s, researchers have surveyed young people on their levels of empathy, testing their agreement with statements such as: “It’s not really my problem if others are in trouble and need help” or “Before criticizing somebody I try to imagine how I would feel if I were in their place.”

      Konrath collected decades of studies and noticed a very obvious pattern. Starting around 2000, the line starts to slide. More students say it’s not their problem to help people in trouble, not their job to see the world from someone else’s perspective. By 2009, on all the standard measures, Konrath found, young people on average measure 40 percent less empathetic than my own generation — 40 percent!

    • Islamic State militants involved in Jakarta riots, say Indonesian police

      Jakarta governor, Anies Baswedan announced on Wednesday an increase in the death toll to eight, adding that 700 had been injured. The dead included three teenagers and 737 people were injured in the rioting, he said. Police did not immediately confirm the casualty figures.

      Iqbal said the Islamic militants captured were from a group called Garis, which he said had sent some representatives to Syria to fight with Islamic State. Investigations were still underway into two more radical conspirators who were believed to still be at large.

    • Rocks, rubber bullets fly in 2nd night of post-election clashes in Indonesia

      Analysts have said Widodo’s double-digit margin of victory means the opposition does not have a strong case to claim rigging. However, Islamist supporters of Prabowo could cause considerable disruption.

      Islamist groups have in the past been able to mobilize mass support.

    • Malaysian officials go undercover to spy on fasting Muslims

      Malaysian officials are disguising themselves as cooks and waiters to catch Muslims who don’t fast during Ramadan, with a rights group Thursday blasting the “disgraceful act of spying”.

    • ‘Islam and Christianity Are Not…Cousins’: UK Church Offered to Cover Up Cross and Image of Christ for Ramadan

      “They realise that the vicar made a silly mistake, but I’m glad it happened because it raises in the public eye some important issues which people need to work through,” he said. “Islam and Christianity are not Abrahamic cousins in Middle Eastern religion. They’re actually antithetic to each other.”

    • Man kills daughter on ‘refusal to observe fast’

      Reports said Gulzar Ahmed awoke her daughter Umme Samina at Sehr and forced her to observe fast. The girl refused to do so on health grounds. As a result Gulzar got infuriated and shot her dead. Gulzar is said to be an addict and has a criminal record. He was indicted in a criminal case and served two-year imprisonment.

    • Prominent Muslim head of free school seized by security police

      But according to the Swedish news site Doku, which investigates Islamic extremists, Säpo is probing whether el Nadi has any links to a network of Islamic militants.

      In an article published last October, the site alleged that El Nadi’s activism was part of the reason that so many young men from Gothenburg had travelled to fight for the terror group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

    • Revealed: UK propaganda unit has secret plans to target French Muslims

      A shadowy UK government propaganda unit that privately declares that it works to “effect behavioural and attitudinal change” among British Muslims has drawn up plans to begin operating in France.

      The Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU), which is based at the Home Office in London, generates films, social media, websites, leaflets and news stories that are intended to influence public opinion while concealing the British government’s role in their creation.

      Now, documents seen by Middle East Eye show that RICU has awarded a contract to a consortium of communications companies which had demonstrated its ability to operate in France.

    • ‘You don’t know my name’: A Texas deputy tried to arrest the wrong black man, viral video shows

      In the Facebook video shared last week by Clarence Evans, a white deputy says he has an arrest warrant from Louisiana. In the five-minute-long clip shared over 20,000 times as of Wednesday night, the law enforcement officer grabs Evans in front of his Houston home and calls him “Quentin,” the name of the fugitive.

    • I toured an immigration detention center. The prison-like atmosphere was mind-numbing.

      Why are U.S. taxpayers paying a private company to provide housing, food and 24/7 security for individuals, the majority of whom pose no security threat and have a right under U.S. law to seek protection?

    • Donald Trump Has Done Less to Destroy Democratic Norms Than Mitch McConnell

      No one should be surprised that Mitch McConnell has promised that any potential 2020 Trump Supreme Court nominee will not get the Merrick Garland treatment — i.e., be held up until after the presidential race is decided. While McConnell and his Republican colleagues have tried to frame their 2016 obstructionism on Garland’s nomination and prospective 2020 decision in various forms of Senate tradition, he has, in this instance, been more-than-normally forthright: Supreme Court nominations are all about partisan politics, nothing more, nothing less.

      In that, McConnell is the living, breathing, calculating face of everything that is wrong with our current politics. To the extent to which our system has become dysfunctional, McConnell is the single chief architect of that sclerosis. President Donald Trump is a dangerous, blundering wrecking ball, but McConnell was undermining the system well before (and is likely to outlast) him.

      Nothing exemplifies McConnell’s role as norm-wrecking partisan warrior than the Garland affair: Almost as soon as word of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death emerged, McConnell had promised to block anyone President Barack Obama might nominate. “The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” the pious, pompous McConnell said then, noting that Obama was at the time a lame duck president.

      But the American people had had a voice in that selection when they elected Obama less than four years earlier to serve as president. The Senate hadn’t confirmed an election-year high court nominee “for the better part of a century,” McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley pointed out, ignoring the fact that the last time such a circumstance had arisen, more than a century earlier, the Senate did both vote, and voted to confirm.

    • Brexploitation and the Future of Transnational Data

      Since 2016, Brexit has taken many manifestations—from the early Brexodus of those individuals worried about the safety of their family where one partner is a EU citizen to university researchers in the field of science concerned about their future employment with EU grants in the balance of Brextinction. The most recent chapter has us looking at a Brexathon that may last at least until the end of this year, or even beyond.

      The latest revelation in what I call “Brexploitation” is how Brexit will impact travel. One of the biggest issues facing travelers is the future of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which gives British citizens free or discounted medical treatment at general practitioners and state hospitals in EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. This means that if you are on holiday in Spain and your child is injured, the same payment policies for nationals in-country will apply to the British traveler. The NHS has posted specific information on its website alerting everyone about the potential changes to the EHIC after Brexit.

      Travel restrictions are another obstacle in a post-Brexit Britain. Last month the EU Parliament approved visa-free travel for Brits traveling to the EU; yet, travel to other countries may not be so easy or affordable. For instance, the US and Britain recently negotiated a new “Open Skies” agreement that ensures “the continuation of the vital transatlantic routes used by tens of millions of passengers a year.” What this means is that the terms of the older EU–U.S will be observed between the US and Britain. That’s the good news. The bad news is this: discount airline Flybmi has gone bankrupt clearly placing the blame for its demise on Brexit. As a result easyJet, Ryanair and IAG have drafted plans for a no-deal Brexit situation why easyJet has created a subsidiary in Austria called easyJet Europe.

    • Condemning Trump’s “Racist Attacks on Immigrants,” Sanders Calls for Bans on Mass Raids and For-Profit Detention Centers

      In a major immigration speech in Nevada on Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders condemned President Donald Trump’s ongoing “dehumanization of undocumented people” and outlined his alternative agenda, which calls for an end to mass immigration raids and a ban on for-profit detention centers.

      “The time is long overdue for us to stand up and to tell this president and his Republican allies that we will no longer tolerate demagogic and frankly racist attacks on immigrants,” Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, told the crowd gathered at Martin Middle School in Las Vegas.

    • Begging for Readmission…to Humanity

      My bedridden grandfather used to say, a Will Rogers twinkle in his eyes, “If you’re not a little wacky today, there’s something wrong with you.” That was back in the ‘60s, in the days of ‘Nam and Love, when everyone seemed to have a little jungle floating around in their heads, and you were either grooving on the stench of Napalm in the Morning or the sweet aroma of Reefer Madness mournings.

      I kept grandpa’s wisdom in mind throughout my undergraduate years as a philosophy student. Through the study of Hamlet and his problematical disposition(s). Through my Sanity and Madness class, featuring Foucault, the Ship of Fools, and the world seen as an upstairs-downstairs Titanic without icebergs and going down in the Flood. And through Jung and Freud, the Human Condition as an archetypal rainbow leading the seeker to a pot of gold of selfhood versus the grumpy old self-destructiveness of the Id-bound human mess never to be sufficiently “sublimated” as depicted in Civilization and Its Discontents.

      Nietzsche really did me in though, when it came to a vision of madness. Who was. Who wasn’t. In Beyond Good and Evil, he wrote, “Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.” If that was true in 1886, before the War to End All Wars and the One That Followed, etc., then it’s even truer today, now that we’ve taken to declaring a global war on an abstract noun: Terrorism. When you have such an open word (one man’s ceiling, another man’s floor), can it be very long before the leathered-up verbs wake from their dogmatics slumbers and reified concepts start disappearing at freefall speed into their own footprints?

    • Trump’s New “Fundamentally Cruel” Policy Would Effectively Bar Central American Refugees From Seeking Asylum

      Immigrant and human rights advocates responded with alarm Thursday to a report that the Trump administration “is considering sweeping restrictions on asylum that would effectively block Central American migrants from entering the U.S.,” condemning the proposed policy as both inhumane and unconstitutional.

      “This latest policy is a disgusting example of the lengths the Trump administration will go to deny people protection,” Charanya Krishnaswami of Amnesty International USA said in a statement. “To effectively close the border to Central Americans and the vast majority of people seeking asylum not only violates human rights obligations, but is also fundamentally cruel.”

    • Over 200 Allegations of Abuse of Migrant Children; 1 Case of Homeland Security Disciplining Someone

      From 2009 to 2014, at least 214 complaints were filed against federal agents for abusing or mistreating migrant children. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s records, only one employee was disciplined as a result of a complaint.

      The department’s records, which have alarmed advocates for migrants given the more aggressive approach to the treatment of minors at the border under the current administration, emerged as part of a federal lawsuit seeking the release of the names of the accused agents.

      Last month, attorneys for DHS argued before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that disclosing the names of the federal agents would infringe on their right to privacy. A district judge had earlier ordered the department to make the names public.

      The fact that only a single case of discipline apparently resulted from more than 200 complaints of child abuse clearly worried the district judge, John Tuchi, of Arizona, who ruled on the matter in the spring of 2018. In his order demanding the release of the names, Tuchi faulted DHS for failing to vigorously investigate claims of misconduct, stating that “completed investigations were almost nonexistent.”

    • There’s a Simple Explanation for Racial Disparities in Terrorism Prosecutions: Racism

      Terrorist attacks by white supremacists have been on the rise. But federal law enforcement agencies aren’t simply failing to respond. In many cases, they’re failing to event count white supremacist attacks as such.

      Two recent congressional hearings—one on the rise of domestic terrorism and the other on white supremacy—gave the impression that there was a lack of resources to blame, particularly when it comes to which acts are considered “hate crimes” and which are “terrorist attacks.”

      Yet throughout the hearing, it felt like the distinction between the two was essentially a matter of who committed the crime, not what the crime was. While violence by Muslims is almost automatically labeled “terrorist,” similar violence by politically motivated white supremacists seldom gets the same treatment.

      In short, rather than applying justice in a manner that’s colorblind, the FBI has done the exact opposite. That’s racist, and it’s high time we called the FBI out for it.

      Rather than acting as bystanders or adjudicating violence rooted in racism, state institutions are often the very ones creating a climate ripe for these abuses to happen in the first place. Instead of simply failing to prosecute white supremacy, all too often the white supremacy is emanating from within the government.

    • U.S. Workers Are Standing Up for Their Rights. A New Law Would Back Them Up.

      More workers engaged in collective action last year than in any other year in the past three decades. In 2018, 485,000 people participated in work stoppages—from teachers to hotel workers to workers in the telecommunications industry and more.

      In 2019, working people’s appetite for collective action shows no signs of slowing down. And they’re getting results.

      In April, workers at Stop & Shop ended the largest retail strike in nearly two decades, when their employer finally agreed to back off of proposed cuts to their paychecks and pensions. That same month, over 10,000 nurses in New York state threatened to strike for better nurse-to-patient ratios and won. Major teacher strikes and work actions have drawn attention from lawmakers and school boards across the country to the chronic underinvestment in our nation’s schools.

    • ‘Beyond Barbaric’: Internal Govt Report Reveals Migrants Forced to Stand on Toilets for Breathing Space at Overcrowded US Detention Center

      According to CNN, the inspector general visited the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center unannounced earlier this month and found that the Border Patrol facility—which has a maximum capacity of 125 people—was holding around 750 migrants on May 7 and 900 on May 8.

      The report—which observers described as “absolutely appalling” and “horrific”—also detailed overcrowding in the detention center’s individual cells.

      CNN, citing logs from the inspector general, reported that a “cell with a maximum capacity of 12 held 76 detainees, another with a maximum capacity of eight held 41, and another with a maximum capacity of 35 held 155.”

      “We also observed detainees standing on toilets in the cells to make room and gain breathing space, thus limiting access to the toilets,” states the report.

      When Trump administration officials were notified of the watchdog’s findings, they appeared to place blame on the immigrants themselves.

      “The current situation on the border represents an acute and worsening crisis. Our immigration is not equipped to accommodate a migration pattern like the one we are experiencing now,” DHS said in a written response to the inspector general obtained by CNN. “The speed with which illegal migrants are transiting through Mexico to reach our southern border is frustrating our best efforts to respond quickly.”

    • Dear John Cleese: Why Was My White, Nordic Immigrant Family Never Accused of Making England Less English?

      In 1979, my family moved from the United States to England. The four of us were born in four different countries, and held three different nationalities: US, Danish, Swedish. I lived in England for close to 15 years, and my parents stayed on until their deaths, with my mother living there for what turned out to be half of her life. In all of that time, not once were my parents accused of making England “less English” by their presence. Not once were we called “immigrants.” Not once we accused of taking jobs or occupying beds in the National Health Service reserved for “real” citizens. Not once were we told that we eroded national culture by bringing in our own, outside habits, languages and experiences.

      So, when comedy legend and British “ex-pat” (code for “white immigrant”) John Cleese decided to lament the declining Englishness of the city of London due to immigration – and to then double-down on his comments with tweets about having specific cultural preferences – I couldn’t help but wonder if my own family had, in fact, damaged England by our presence. Cleese was celebrating Englishness, so, logically, any non-English influence (however that is defined) would damage the seemingly delicate English cultural ecosystem. I wondered if we had played a part in the erosion of that ecosystem. I wondered if we accelerated the process of turning England’s green and pleasant land into a leftist, multicultural dystopia.

      In short, I wondered if those who rail against immigration saw us as a problem.

    • Fantasy and Fatality in the Facebook Era

      Seven weeks ago, my father died—abruptly, unexpectedly, and prematurely. I say that as a simple matter of fact because despite my utter heartbreak, no amount of euphemisms or platitudes will change the reality of the situation.

      Some people might find it odd to state that my father died prematurely considering he was 72 years old, but my dad was a young, active, and agile 72. Throughout his adult life he always appeared about 10 years younger than his age. Everyone he knew was shocked by the news. The cause of death was determined to be stenosing coronary arteriosclerosis (narrowing of the heart vessel due to plaque) which apparently led to cardiac arrest. The medical examiner’s office stated that his death was due to “natural causes,” but there was nothing natural about his death, just as there is nothing natural about the way we are forced to live our lives.
      [...]

      My father spent a great deal of time helping others in his community, whether through his volunteer work with local non-profit and civic groups or just through interpersonal interactions. Undoubtedly a constructive, generous, and kind way to vent some of his emotions, it was also a way to keep too busy to think about them. What he didn’t do was directly acknowledge, confront, and share his own problems.

      I discovered that my dad, like many, sought comfort by reading the type of shallow clichés circulated all over social media to remain hopeful: suggestions like “Life is going to get better at the proper time and you will be stronger and more at peace than ever before,” or “When life is dragging you back with difficulties it means it is going to launch you into something great.” That peace and greatness never came for my dad. These platitudes may help one get through the day, but they are generally hollow at their core, which is why they can be contradictory and do little to truly assist people in need.

    • In Your Dreams: The Stupid Wall Is “Very Very On Its Way,” Except for Losing In Courts and Cease & Desist Orders and Anyway It Won’t Work

      Annals of Grifting Chap. 476: Hey, remember that stupid wall? Seems Trump’s tax cut – billed as economic “rocket fuel” not the fat-cat gift it was – isn’t the only nefarious scam he’s been running. Despite fatuous boasts his “beautiful wall” to fix our imaginary national emergency is “very, very on its way” and “tremendous work is being done,” the wall has dissolved into a dud, a chimera, an over-priced, underwhelming, laughably dysfunctional figment of his fevered dreams doggedly willed into existence for gullible rubes that in reality has suffered so many fails and lost so many court battles a recent headline touted, “The Judges Who See Through Trump’s BS.”

      Last week, in its most recent drubbing, a federal judge blocked the theft of an “emergency” $1 billion from the Pentagon because, “The position that when Congress declines the Executive’s request to appropriate funds, the Executive nonetheless may simply find a way to spend those funds ‘without Congress’ does not square with the fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic.” On Wednesday, DOJ minions appealed – the ruling will “irreparably harm (the) public” by not letting them take “critical steps to stop the flow of illegal drugs” even though it’s universally agreed the wall never would or could do that – even as the ACLU, riding the momentum, sued to block not just the money but the construction in the name of protected federal land.

    • In 1943 Jews found refuge in Sweden. In 2019 Jews are attacked there

      Not so long ago, in 1943, the Jews arrived in Helsingborg fleeing from Nazi round-ups and deportations. Sweden also took in Jews in need of medical assistance after the concentration camps were liberated. In 2019 the Jews in Helsingborg are at risk and are taking the opposite path. Fleeing an Islamicized Sweden.

    • Sudanese Islamists protest against power handover to civilians

      “There are people in the military junta who contacted us and they reject the agreement to hand over power,” he said alluding to ongoing talks between the Council and the opposition groups over power handover.

    • Christian Student Forced to Write Islamic Conversion Creed Appeals Case to Supreme Court

      While some instruction in Islam is certainly defensible, many of these teachings crossed the line into advocacy for Islam. Some are also just false. For instance, Muslims believe God directly revealed the Qur’an word for word. This is emphatically not the case with the Jewish and Christian scriptures, which believers say were inspired by God but written by humans in history. In fact, Christians consider the Gospels historical, journalistic documents recounting events the writers personally witnessed.

    • Coca-Cola’s Islam-Themed ‘Ramadan Soda’ Sparks Outrage in Norway

      Norway’s Islamic community has been growing exponentially since the 1960s. At present, Muslims are estimated to constitute 5.7 percent of Norway’s population of 5.2 million.

    • The History of Black Women Championing Demands for Reparations

      The American media has paid increasing attention to the legacies of slavery. The new National Museum of African American History and Culture features a huge exhibition on the history of slavery. Many US universities are studying their links with slavery and the slave trade. In several cases, schools decided to provide symbolic reparations by renaming buildings and/or creating memorials and monuments to honor enslaved men and women.

      But these measures do not seem to suffice: several activists and ordinary citizens are calling for financial reparations. Students of Georgetown University recently voted to pay a fee to finance a reparations fund to benefit the descendants of the 1838 sale of enslaved people owned by the Society of Jesus. The Democratic presidential candidates are routinely asked if they would support studies to provide financial reparations for slavery to African Americans. What is often missed is that these calls started long ago. Writers and readers also forget that Black women championed demands of reparations for slavery.

      Belinda Sutton is among the first Black women to demand reparations for slavery in North America. Her owner, Isaac Royall Junior, fled North America in 1775, during the American Revolutionary War. He left behind his assets but his will included provisions to pay Belinda a pension for three years.

      After Royall Junior’s death, we assume Sutton received the pension determined in his will. When three years passed, the payments stopped. Belinda petitioned the Massachusetts legislature and requested her pension continue. Emphasizing she lived in poverty and had contributed to the wealth of the Royalls, Sutton successfully obtained an annual pension. Belinda’s story is memorialized at the Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford, Massachusetts.

      Like today, the political context shaped these early demands for reparations and the responses petitioners received. Unlike other former slaves, Sutton’s odds to get restitutions were greater because her former owner was a British Loyalist. Moreover, he had already determined in his will to pay her a pension.

      Freedwomen and their descendants continued fighting for reparations in later years. They knew more than anyone else the value of material resources because they lacked them. They were those providing hard work to maintain their households and to raise children and grandchildren.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • DOJ Floats A Truly Stupid Idea To Salvage The Sprint, T-Mobile Merger

      While the Pai FCC is chomping at the bit to approve T-Mobile and Sprint’s competition and job killing megaunion, rumors are that DOJ staffers remain highly skeptical about the purported benefits of the deal. The sticking point remains the same: that the merger would reduce overall competition in the space by 25%, a move that historically almost always results in higher consumer prices, and less effort and innovation overall. Unions and Wall Street analysts also believe the deal will eliminate anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 jobs as redundant positions are inevitably eliminated, something T-Mobile continues to deny.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Chinese Intellectual Property Theft: The Indictment of Huawei Is an Embarrassment

      With its criminal indictment at the beginning of the year the US government has successfully made Huawei the poster child for technology theft by China. But the indictment is an embarrassment. Huawei is not a thief.

      Huawei is charged with stealing technology for a robot that T-Mobile-USA uses to test phones. The robot, “Tappy,” taps phones repeatedly to determine their durability. Huawei wanted T-Mobile to offer its phones to its subscribers, and eager for its phone to pass the test, sent engineers to T-Mobile’s lab to learn how Tappy works. One of the conditions T-Mobile set for permitting Huawei to examine Tappy was that the robot would not be photographed. But a Huawei engineer did photograph it, and the indictment alleges that this was a breach of a trade secret. It first tells to what length T-Mobile went to keep Tappy a secret, and then it recounts how the Huawei engineer went about photographing it secretly. Reporting about the indictment NPR told its readers “[w]e would like to include a photo here of Tappy, but photographing the robot is expressly prohibited by T-Mobile, and Tappy is kept under very tight security in a lab at T-Mobile headquarters in Bellevue, Wash.” What the indictment does not say is that Tappy is not a secret but a sales-prop. T-Mobile invites customers to “Say Hello to T-Mobile Tap Happy” in a video that displays it in operation. Huawei did sign a confidentiality agreement that prohibited it from photographing Tappy, but when it did, it was not photographing a secret.

      The indictment also misleads when it claims that a Huawei employee removed an arm of the robot from the lab in order to take its measurements. T-Mobile’s video shows that Tappy is an Epson robot (M.S.R.P. $7,495) with an arm that operates a short rod. T-mobile covers the tip of the rod with a rubber cup, and the cup taps the screen of the phone that is being tested. Huawei did not remove the arm of the robot (it did not need to, all it had to do is buy an Epson robot); it removed the rubber cup. Huawei was concerned because it was unable to replicate T-Mobile’s test results, and suspected that the discrepancy was due either to the dimensions or degree of softness of the tip. Huawei did this without permission, but describing Huawei’s action as removing an arm of a robot so secret that no photographs of it exist is dishonest because it makes it appear to be a lot more sinister than the actual removal not of an arm but of a rubber tip.

    • Henry Carr J refuses Abbott’s mitral valve preliminary injunction

      Edwards claims that Edwards’s PASCAL product – a medical device for treating life-threatening mitral regurgitation – infringes two of its patents. Pascal’s product and Edwards’ product – the MitraClip – are implanted during a procedure known as transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVr). The TMVR market in the UK is very small as it is not currently funded by the National Health Service (NHS). It is anticipated that NHS England will soon fund a type of TMVr operation, which could implemented by MitraClip or PASCAL, but the date of this decision is unknown.

      Edwards wants to start a controlled launch of a small number of its PASCAL device between October 2019 – February 2020, and then a larger roll-out until June 2020. This controlled launch is to enable Edwards to properly compete with MitraClip as and when NHS England decides to reimburse or fund the relevant type of operations. Abbott argued that if this roll-out is permitted, it will suffer irreparable or unquantifiable damage between now and judgment in the expedited trial (judgment would be expected end of January 2020), whereas if Edwards’ plans are put on hold for a short period of time no such damage will occur.

    • This Case is Controversial: Competitor Standing Insufficient for IPR Challenge

      In this case, the Federal Circuit dismissed AVX’s appeal — holding that the patent challenger lacked standing to appeal after losing on the merits in the Inter Partes Review (IPR).

      AVX (its subsidiary ATC) and Presidio are competitors in the electronic components market, including sales of capacitors — the subject of Presidio’s patent here. See U.S. Patent No. 6,661,639. These companies have repeatedly battled in court over capacitor patent rights — albeit different patents. In one case, Presidio won a $3.3 million judgment and permanent injunction against ATC/AVX for its 545L capacitor; Later, Presidio sued again on ATC/AVX’s redesigned 545L capacitor (550 series) — that lawsuit is still pending. Despite their ongoing competition, AVX apparently has no concrete plans to make a product covered by the patent.

    • Sound View patent challenged as likely invalid

      On May 28, 2019, Unified, represented by Finnegan Henderson, filed an IPR against U.S. Patent No. 6,034,621. The ‘621 patent is related to synchronization of data between a computer and a mobile device.

    • Upcoming conferences (U.S., EU) on chipset-level patent licensing and the royalty base in automotive and other high-tech products in light of FTC v. Qualcomm

      While I routinely talk to professional investors about key IP and antitrust developments (such as on a highly successful conference call hosted by Susquehanna International Group last week), I haven’t spoken at, much less organized, conferences in a long time. But Judge Lucy H. Koh’s FTC v. Qualcomm antitrust ruling in the Northern District of California is–while this kind of clear-cut guidance was overdue in my view–a watershed moment for patent licensing practices and damages theories. By virtue of having followed FRAND licensing issues since 2010 and FTC v. Qualcomm from the get-go (including that I attended the entire January trial) it’s fair to say that I’m uniquely positioned to discuss the impact, implications and ramifications of the decision as well as related matters, such as certain antitrust complaints Daimler and its suppliers lodged with the European Commission and a Continental complaint against the Avanci patent pool company in the Northern District of California.

      Judge Koh’s ruling is now being appealed. The notice of appeal was filed on Friday, and a motion to stay enforcement is pending as well. But even if Qualcomm obtained some kind of enforcement stay, there will be important developments in various jurisdictions, and Judge Koh, arguably the world’s leading technology judge by now, has the potential for thought leadership not only in other U.S. federal districts and circuits, but even overseas.

    • Contracting Around AIA Trials

      Later, MerchSource stopped paying the agreed-upon royalties (arguing that the patents are invalid and so no money need be paid); Dodocase subsequently sued for infringement and breach in N.D.Cal. Federal Court. MerchSource then filed for inter partes review (IPR) and post grant review (PGR) of the patents at issue. Those proceedings are still pending before the PTAB as is the District Court case.

      In response to the IPR/PRG filings, the district court issued a preliminary injunction ordering MerchSource to withdraw the PTAB petitions. MerchSource did not do that, but rather appealed to the Federal Circuit who affirmed.

      A particular question on appeal was whether the forum selection clause applied in this case because it was limited to disputes ” arising out of or under this Agreement.” On appeal, the Federal Circuit agreed that the invalidity contentions did indeed arise from the contract. Quoting its prior Texas Instruments decision, the court explained: “There may be an issue, as here, of whether … the licensee may elect to challenge the validity of the licensed patents. . . . Thus, the governing law clause in the present case, as in any patent license agreement, necessarily covers disputes concerning patent issues.” Texas Instruments Inc. v. Tessera, Inc., 231 F.3d 1325 (Fed. Cir. 2000).

      The decision here by the court is non-precedential and essentially quotes Texas Instruments for its holding. However, the case involves two important transformations of that prior case. First, as reiterated here, the Federal Circuit appears to make it almost a rule-of-law that validity challenges will be covered by a standard contractual forum selection clause. Second, and importantly, the cicumstances in the present case are different because of the advent of AIA proceedings. In TI, a party was prevented from litigating its infringement case in the USITC — here the question is whether the forum selection clause keeps the case out of the PTAB.

    • Tangelo IP, LLC v. Tupperware Brands Corp. (D. Del. 2019)

      Last week, in Tangelo IP, LLC v. Tupperware Brands Corp., District Judge Richard G. Andrews of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware denied a motion for exceptional case filed by Defendant Tupperware Brands Corp., finding that Tupperware Brands had failed to establish that the case was exceptional under 35 U.S.C. § 285. Plaintiff Tangelo IP, LLC had filed suit against Tupperware Brands, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,429,005. Tupperware Brands responded by filing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that the ’005 patent was invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The District Court granted the motion, and Tupperware Brands then moved for a finding of exceptional case and requested attorneys’ fees under § 285.

      In determining that the case was not exceptional, the District Court noted that although it had found the ’005 patent to be invalid under § 101, “that does not mean Plaintiff’s contrary position was unreasonable.” In support, the Court cited SFA Sys., LLC v. Newegg Inc., 793 F.3d 1344, 1348 (Fed. Cir. 2015), for the proposition that “it is the substantive strength of the party’s litigating position that is relevant to an exceptional case determination, not the correctness or eventual success of that position” (emphasis in opinion).

      In response to Tupperware Brands’ argument that Tangelo had “ignored substantial precedent dismissing analogous claims directed to concepts long-practiced in society,” the Court noted that Tupperware Brands had “identifie[d] no precedent addressing claims analogous to those in the ’005 patent, at least beyond the broad category of claims directed to ‘concepts long-practiced in society.’” Judge Andrews also noted that he had not identified any cases in which analogous claims had been found to be patent ineligible.

    • INTA 2019: Amazon “very excited” about pilot patent dispute programme

      Amazon quietly launched a utility patent neutral evaluation programme in February 2019. It aims to make utility patent infringement disputes faster and cheaper, which will help small and medium-sized businesses in particular.

    • Trademarks

      • UK, American Breweries Show How The Craft Beer Industry Should Be Handling Trademark Issues

        Any brief review of the posts we’ve done here on the craft beer industry’s recent heel-turn on all things trademark would give you the impression that there are few good guys any longer and all potential trademark disputes become disputes dialed to eleven in every case. The industry, which has exploded in last twenty years or so, initially developed a tradition for cooperation and congeniality. This was largely to do with the craft industry being heavy on very small startup breweries coupled with the tradition for creative names of brews and artistically inspired label designs. The end result was breweries that quite often swept aside what would be trademark disputes in other industries in favor of camaraderie.

        That tradition has unfortunately largely disappeared over the past decade. In its place is what’s become the steady corporatization of the craft beer industry, which has dragged expensive legal teams into the ranks. Those legal teams too often treat trademark concerns differently than the old guard did, opting for protectionism and aggression rather than cooperation.

        But the old ways are not entirely gone, as demonstrated by UK and American brewery teams that chose instead to work with rather than against one another.

    • Copyrights

      • Looking forward and back: Five years at Creative Commons

        This month, I’ll mark five years as CEO at Creative Commons. That makes me the longest-serving CEO in the organization’s history, and it’s also the longest I’ve served with the same job title. Every day I get to work with some of the brightest, most dedicated staff and community members in the open movement. Anniversaries are a good time to reflect, and as we head into the annual CC Summit in Lisbon, I wanted to share a few reflections on where we’ve come from, and where we’re headed.

      • Sprint Electric v Potamianos: High Court finds an implied copyright assignment based on equitable title

        The dispute arose between Sprint Electric Ltd (SEL), the claimant in this case, and Dr Aristides Potamianos, a former director of SEL and the author of the source code of the software used by SEL in digital direct current motor controllers, which SEL was in the business of designing, developing and selling. Dr Potamianos had been working on digital drives long before his engagement with SEL, starting with his work for the PhD thesis.

        Buyer’s Dream Ltd (BDL), Dr Potamianos’s service company, entered into three written agreements with SEL for the provision of programming services. In effect, the defendant was solely responsible for the development of all digital aspects of SEL’s products.

        BDL controlled access to the source code, providing to SEL only compiled object code sufficient so as to enable SEL to load and execute the firmware on the motor controllers. However, in order to enhance, modify or fix bugs in the program, it is essential to have access to and the right to edit the source code. When Dr Potamianos ceased debugging and development work, lack of access to source code became an existential threat to SEL’s product viability and indeed to the survival of the company itself. SEL sued Dr Potamianos and BDL, claiming breach of contract and SEL’s right to an order for delivery up of all the source code and associated documentation.

        The question before the court was whether Dr Potamianos and BDL were obliged to provide SEL with access to the source code for the computer software and related documents. If so, who held the copyright to such software (both source and object code) in light of relationship between the parties and the contracts entered into between them.

      • Federal Court Issues A Very Good Very Bad Decision Where Copyright And Free Speech Meet

        It’s hard to know exactly what to say about this decision involving a subpoena seeking to unmask a Reddit user. There are some notably good things about it, and still plenty bad. The bad: that a subpoena seeking to unmask a critic was upheld. The worse: that their First Amendment right to anonymous speech ultimately took a backseat to a copyright claim. On the other hand, there is some good in the decision, too, particularly in the discussion considering the First Amendment implications of upholding the subpoena, which may be helpful for future anonymous speakers. Also, while the subpoena was upheld, it was upheld with conditions that will somewhat minimize, but certainly not eliminate, the chilling effect of its enforcement.

        In this case a user known as “Darkspilver” had criticized the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization on Reddit. He chose to do it on Reddit in significant part because Reddit allowed him to post his criticisms anonymously. [p. 2] In his critical posts he included two items that the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization claims violate its copyrights: an ad the Jehovah’s Witnesses had run to solicit donations, and a chart he made from data found in one of the organization’s Excel files. The organization then propounded a subpoena to find out the identity of the Reddit user it alleged had infringed its copyrights in posting these things.

        We’ve written many times before about the concerns raised when discovery demands can cause online speakers to lose the anonymity the First Amendment entitles them. These discovery demands can come in many forms – state civil subpoenas, federal grand jury subpoenas, NSLs, etc. – but while the procedural rules governing how each one may be balanced against the speaker’s First Amendment right to anonymous speech can vary, that First Amendment right does not. All of these instruments should be equally, and adequately, protective of this constitutional interest. But in practice the protection they afford are not. An online speaker whose anonymity might end up protected in the face of certain types of discovery demands might find it trumped by others.

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