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06.04.19

Links 4/6/2019: MapSCII, 4MLinux 29.0 and New Zenwalk

Posted in News Roundup at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Dell Launches Three New Dell Precision Developer Editions Laptops Preloaded with Ubuntu Linux

      Dell Senior Architect Barton George has announced about three new Dell Precision Laptops release.

      These Dell Precision will be shipped with Ubuntu Linux operating system preloaded.

      The new models are Precision 5540, Precision 7540 and Precision 7740.

      Linux operating systems are more powerful and top 500 supercomputers are running on Linux server operating system.

      However, very less users/customers are using Linux PCs & Laptops.

    • Get to know Linux desktop security best practices

      Linux workstations are just as vulnerable to attacks as any Windows desktop, so it is important for IT pros to protect their users’ desktops from security breaches.

      IT must ensure that Linux desktop security complies with an organization’s security standards for other desktops. These standards often range from identity and access management to endpoint security such as configuration and patch management.

    • Which Desktop OS Is Best for DevOps?

      For my money, Linux is the best OS for DevOps. But I say that only because I’m a die-hard Linux lover and I tend to think Linux is the best for everything.

    • The “From Mac to Linux” Issue

      What you are reading right now is a Linux magazine—with a focus on Apple computers running macOS. (Or MacOS. Or however Apple is doing the capitalization nowadays.)

      I know, it’s weird. It’s extremely weird—like cats and dogs living together weird.

      But we’re not here to bash on Apple. Neither are we here to sing praises to those down in Cupertino.

      The reality is, many within the Open Source and Free Software worlds do use Macintoshes—at least a portion of the time—and there are some unique challenges that pop up when you need to use both macOS and Linux on a regular basis. Likewise, many people have moved from Mac to Linux as part of their computing journey, and we’d like to offer some tips and ideas to help them out.

      (And if we help a few Mac users feel a bit more confident in making the switch over to Linux? Well, that’s just gravy on top.)

      Never used a Macintosh before? There’s some interesting technical tidbits held within these pages that might come in handy when interacting with co-workers that utilize a number of Mac-specific file types and programs. Or, at the very least, the various distinct differences between the platforms are sure to provide a bit of amusement. Who doesn’t want to know how Mac filesystems work? You’ll be the life of the party!

  • Server

    • The dangerous folly of “Software as a Service”

      The reason this ban has teeth is that the company provides “software as a service”; that is, the software you run is a client for servers that the provider owns and operates. If the provider decides it doesn’t want your business, you probably have no real recourse. OK, you could sue for tortious interference in business relationships, but that’s chancy and anyway you didn’t want to be in a lawsuit, you wanted to conduct your business.

      This is why “software as a service” is dangerous folly, even worse than old-fashioned proprietary software at saddling you with a strategic business risk. You don’t own the software, the software owns you.

      It’s 2019 and I feel like I shouldn’t have to restate the obvious, but if you want to keep control of your business the software you rely on needs to be open-source. All of it. All of it. And you can’t afford it to be tethered to a service provider even if the software itself is nominally open source.

      Otherwise, how do you know some political fanatic isn’t going to decide your product is unclean and chop you off at the knees? It’s rifles today, it’ll be anything that can be tagged “hateful” tomorrow – and you won’t be at the table when the victim-studies majors are defining “hate”. Even if you think you’re their ally, you can’t count on escaping the next turn of the purity spiral.

    • Create a CentOS homelab in an hour

      When working on new Linux skills (or, as I was, studying for a Linux certification), it is helpful to have a few virtual machines (VMs) available on your laptop so you can do some learning on the go.

      But what happens if you are working somewhere without a good internet connection and you want to work on a web server? What about using other software that you don’t already have installed? If you were depending on downloading it from the distribution’s repositories, you may be out of luck. With a bit of preparation, you can set up a homelab that will allow you to install anything you need wherever you are, with or without a network connection.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Announcing the general availability of the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 5 Update 2

      The Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) for Oracle Linux provides the latest open source innovations and key optimizations and security to enterprise cloud workloads. It is the Linux kernel that powers Oracle Cloud and Oracle Engineered Systems such as Oracle Exadata Database Machine as well as Oracle Linux on any Intel-64, AMD-64 or ARM hardware.

    • Oracle Releases Linux 4.14 Based “Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel R5 U2″

      Oracle today announced the general availability release of their Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 5 Update 2 that pairs with their RHEL-derived Oracle Linux for offering a Linux 4.14 based kernel with various features on top.

    • Intel’s ICE Driver Picks Up Forward Error Correction For Linux 5.3

      Intel’s “ICE” Linux kernel driver for supporting their high-end network cards has new features on tap come Linux 5.3 later this summer.

      A few days ago I wrote about ICE seeing some optimizations as well as fixes to this 100GbE wired LAN driver.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Sway 1.1 Released With Switch Event Support, Touch Support For Swaybar

        Three months after the release of Sway 1.0, Sway 1.1 is now available as the next feature update for this i3-inspired and increasingly popular Wayland compositor.

        Sway 1.1 adds touch support for Swaybar. support for manually inhibiting DPMS idle notifications via inhibit_idle, support for explicitly configuring output subpixel layouts, support for an overlay mode with Swaybar, support for switch devices/events like laptop lid switches, and pretty-printing support for Swaymsg.

      • Mesa 19.1.0 release plan
        Last week we published the RC4, which should be in theory the last RC.
        
        Unfortunately, there are still two issues blocking the release:
        
        - https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=110357: there's a general feeling
        that this shouldn't block the release. We are waiting to confirm if it is fine
        remove this issue from the blocking list.
        
        - https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=110302: seems Emil is working on
        a fix for this. So we need to wait for it.
        
        
        Hence, unless said the contrary, I'll go with another RC round (RC5) this week.
        Hope those issues are unblocked this week so we can make the final release next
        week.
      • Mesa 19.1 Now Aiming For Release Next Week With Its Many OpenGL/Vulkan Improvements

        Mesa 19.1 had been aiming to ship before the end of May but blocker bugs once again have dragged out the release cycle. The current plan is to now issue a fifth release candidate this week with hopes of the final release being in store for next week.

        There’s been two blocker bugs now for several weeks and while bisected haven’t been resolved. For one of the bugs they are now debating to just drop it has a blocker requirement so it won’t hold up 19.1.0. For the second bug, a fix is being worked on and we’ll hopefully see that fix land this week.

      • NVIDIA Releases 418.52.10 Vulkan Linux Beta Driver

        NVIDIA issued the 418.52.10 Linux beta driver this weekend (and version 425.62 for Windows) that offers their latest Vulkan API support.

        The updated NVIDIA Vulkan beta driver code introduces support for VK_EXT_fragment_shader_interlock, VK_EXT_calibrated_timestamps (Windows only), and VK_NV_shader_sm_builtins. There are also known fixes to take care of crashes when changing present modes between swap chains.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Slimbook & Kubuntu – Combat Report 8

        This eighth report is a summary of my worst overall Slimbook & Kubuntu session yet. On one hand, I’ve witnessed many useful, important, visible improvements in the system over the past six months, and we had hit a plateau of good, sweet stability. The latest wave of updates seems to upset that ever so slightly. Enough to make me miffed, because I really don’t want to need any of those crashes or annoyances.

        I’m still very happy with my choice, and occasional crashes happen everywhere. This isn’t Linux-specific, but that doesn’t mean we should settle for comfortable mediocrity. The one outstanding issue is the CPU temperature event, which to me looks like something in the firmware. I will keep an eye, because apart from that, the hardware has been rock solid, there were no other events of this type at all, and no visible problems as a result in any shape or form. Anyway, I think we’ve had enough excitement for one report. We shall soon convene for yet more thrill, uncertainty, fun, and adventure. Stay cool.

      • Krita 4.2 released, here are the exciting new features

        This vast number of features added make Krita an overall better program. Some essential features, such as HDR display support were long awaited. Artists can be even more productive and creative with these new features. Other then the mentioned ones, there have been even more minor feature updates. You can find the official list and release notes here.

        Aren’t the new features exciting? You can experience the new features by installing it on your Linux system. Krita 4.2 is already available in almost all software centers. If you are on Ubuntu, make sure you are installing the snap version to get the latest Krita. Other Linux distro users can download Krita from the official website.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • How to stream music with GNOME Internet Radio

        Internet radio is a great way to listen to stations from all over the world. Like many developers, I like to turn on a station as I code. You can listen to internet radio with a media player for the terminal like MPlayer or mpv, which is what I use to listen via the Linux command line. However, if you prefer using a graphical user interface (GUI), you may want to try GNOME Internet Radio, a nifty plugin for the GNOME desktop. You can find it in the package manager.

        Listening to internet radio with a graphical desktop operating system generally requires you to launch an application such as Audacious or Rhythmbox. They have nice interfaces, plenty of options, and cool audio visualizers. But if you want a simple, straightforward interface that gets your streams playing, GNOME Internet Radio is for you.

  • Distributions

    • 8 Linux Distros Kids Can Experiment With In 2019

      Linux is one of the most popular operating systems for its open source and versatile in nature. This operating system has proved itself that it is user-friendly not only for the developers or the experienced ones but also for the younger ones.

      In this article, we list 8 such Linux distros that can be used by kids…

    • Popular Linux Distributions for Security Testing

      Kali was first introduced in 2012 as a Debian-based distribution, released with over 300 specialized tools for penetration testing and digital forensics. It uses the rolling release model that makes sure that any tool you use for security testing will always be up to date. It is a rewrite of BackTrackand maintained and funded by Offensive Security Ltd.
      Kali is free to use and can run natively as a virtual machine or even as a live boot. The live boot is an exceptional advantage when using Kali for penetration testing and digital forensics. Kali supports a plethora of devices and hardware platforms, including VMware and ARM. It is rightly considered as one of the best and sophisticated penetration testing platforms available today, with a large and active community helping to make it better and more advanced.

    • New Releases

      • GParted Live (GNOME Partition Editor) 1.0.0-1 Reaches Stable Release After 15 Years of Development

        GParted (GNOME Partition Editor) is a free partition manager that enables you to check, create, delete, label, set new UUID, resize, copy, and move partitions without data loss.

        It is a free partition editor for graphically managing your disk partitions.

        It supports most of the file system types like btrfs, ext2, ext3, ext4, fat16, fat32, hfs, hfs+, linux-swap, lvm2, pv, nilfs2, ntfs, reiserfs, reiser4, udf, ufs, xfs.

        The GParted team is pleased to announce a new stable release of GParted Live 1.0.0-1 after 15 years of development.

      • 4MLinux 29.0 STABLE Released and most of the packages has been updated to latest version

        Zbigniew Konojacki has announced the new stable release of 4MLinux 29.0.

        4MLinux is a small, independent, general-purpose Linux distribution with a strong focus on the following four “M” of computing.

      • zenwalk current ISO for 02 06 2019

        New current ISO is ready !

        In addition to the hundreds of packages updates from upstream Slackware Current and Zenwalk native, you’ll get the new Firefox 67.0, latest XFCE 4.13, a new desktop theme, and a brand new Whisker applications menu.

        For complete changelog see both Slack changelog on slackware.com and Zenwalk changelog on this site.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • The June 2019 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the June 2019 issue. With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is released under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license, and some rights are reserved. All articles may be freely reproduced via any and all means following first publication by The PCLinuxOS Magazine, provided that attribution to both The PCLinuxOS Magazine and the original author are maintained, and a link is provided to the originally published article.

        In the June 2019 issue:

        * De-Googling Yourself, Part 2
        * Inkscape Tutorial: Creating An Avatar
        * PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: BillDjr
        * The Ruby Programming Language: Data Handling with Variables, Classes, Arrays and Strings
        * Casual Python, Part 5
        * ms_meme’s Nook: PCLOS Flyer
        * Gmail Eerily Tracks Your Purchases
        * Short Topix: Google, Other Tech Giants Buying Up Internet Undersea Cables
        * PCLinuxOS Recipe Corner: Crispy Whole Chicken & Vegetables
        * And much more inside!

        This month’s cover was designed by parnote.

        Download the PDF (13.7 MB)

        https://pclosmag.com/download.php?f=2019-06.pdf

        Download the EPUB Version (5.8 MB)

        https://pclosmag.com/download.php?f=201906epub.epub

        Download the MOBI Version (8.4 MB)

        https://pclosmag.com/download.php?f=201906mobi.mobi

        Visit the HTML Version

        https://pclosmag.com/html/enter.html

    • Arch Family

      • Introducing The Arch Linux Summer 2019 Community Challenge

        Welcome to the Linux community challenge you probably weren’t expecting. Arch Linux is notorious for being three things: ridiculously customizable. lightweight and difficult to install. Arch is a rolling release distro that eschews the simple, traditional GUI-based installer many of us are used to and relies on exclusive use of the command line to get the OS up and running. As such, this is going to be a challenge that lives up to its name!

        But is Arch as crazy difficult to install as we’ve all heard? How’s the documentation? What’s it like to customize every aspect of your Arch installation, and what are the day-to-day advantages? How does the available software — for example the Arch User Repository (AUR) — differ from other mainstream distros like Linux Mint and Ubuntu? Can we get better battery life using Arch on our laptops?

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Chameleon and the dragons

        Arriving to the conference venue on a bike was quite pleasant (thanks to bicycle paths almost everywhere in city and amount of parks). One thing which I forgot is the bike lock, but I met Richard Brown and he offered to lock our bikes together.

        First thing which brought my attention was some QR-code on the registration desk which says something like “This is not the first one, search better,” so I had to walk around and try to find correct one. There were 10 of them in different places of Biergarten, each is asking you some question about openSUSE (logos, abbreviations, versions and so on). Once you find all of them and answer correctly, you can pick up prize on registration desk. I really enjoyed this so I proposed this idea for our events.

        I have missed first half of the talks with fixing problem with dynamic BuildRequires and second half by talking with Michael Schröder about libsolv-related things. We’ve discussed what modularity would mean for libsolv, some known corner-cases and I promised to write document which describes how it is supposed to be handled (some kind of test cases).

        Then there was some kind of meetup of OBS (Open Build Service) community (both developers and users) where OBS-related things were discussed. I wish we could have something like “RPM buildsystems meetup” where people could discuss problems in different buildsystems (Koji, OBS) and share solutions.

    • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Mike Gabriel: My Work on Debian LTS/ELTS (May 2019)

        In May 2019, I have worked on the Debian LTS project for 23.75 hours (as planned) and on the Debian ELTS project for another 10 hours (as planned) as a paid contributor.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Powered Autonomous Drones for Hazardous, High Altitude Work

            With surveys in 2016 indicating that falls accounted for more than 16% of all workplace deaths in the United States Apellix the aerial robotics company took upon itself the challenge of devising ways to prevent people from having to work in dangerous, elevated environments by developing innovative drones that can take over hazardous, high altitude work – for instance measuring paint thickness on U.S.

            Navy ships or the wall thickness of a 100m flare stack at an oil and gas refinery. Built on Ubuntu, the drones leverage autonomous flight functionality to manoeuvre with pinpoint accuracy, making it fast, cost-effective, and safe to perform essential tasks at great heights targeting infrastructure, maritime and energy industries.

            Each U.S. Navy Destroyer and Aircraft Carrier requires five coats of paint, and each coat must be measured to ensure that it is the correct thickness for which corrosion engineers have to go up using cranes, lifts, or rope work to manually take more than 2,000 measurements across the hull. Even in good weather and without interruptions, measuring each coat of paint on ships needs a 7 person crew employed for six days, and costs more than $100,000.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter 581
          • Flavours and Variants

            • The Linux desktop’s last, best shot

              This rather surprises me. I’ve been using the Linux desktop for decades — I writing this on Linux Mint 19.1 — and while it’s great, the traditional, fat-client desktop has never gained much market share. The future of the Linux end-user experience, I would argue, belonged to Android and Chrome OS. But a combination of factors appears to be giving desktop Linux new life.

              First, governments are turning up their noses at Windows 10. South Korea is thinking of moving to Linux because it wants to cut costs and reduce its dependence on Microsoft software. Russia wants to move to Linux for security. China has announced they’ll be giving up on Windows as well because they fear being hacked.

              China is saying they will come up with their own operating system. I don’t believe that. Building a new desktop OS from scratch is hard work. It would be much easier to build on top of Linux. Besides, China already has popular Linux distros of its own such as Deepin and Ubuntu Kylin.

            • Wine 4.0 Backported to Linux Mint 19, Here’s How to Install It

              The latest stable Wine 4.0 release is now available to install on Linux Mint 19.

              Mint developers say users were finding the popular Windows computability layer “tedious” to install in Linux Mint 19 and that it “didn’t work well out of the box”.

              A number of other issues were also said to be affecting the Wine experience in Linux Mint 19, including out-dated and obsolete packages, 64-bit compatibility issues, and missing menu items.

              So, to solve the situation, Linux Mint has backported Wine 4.0 into the Linux Mint 19 repositories.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Federated conference videos

    So, foss-north 2019 happened. 260 visitors. 33 speakers. Four days of madness.

    During my opening of the second day I mentioned some social media statistics. Only 7 of our speakers had mastodon accounts, but 30 had twitter accounts.

  • Announcing Thorntail 2.4 general availability

    At this year’s Red Hat Summit, Red Hat announced Thorntail 2.4 general availability for Red Hat customers through a subscription to Red Hat Application Runtimes. Red Hat Application Runtimes provides application developers with a variety of application runtimes running on the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform.

  • Container-related content you might have missed at Red Hat Summit

    If you weren’t lucky enough to attend the recent Red Hat Summit or you went but couldn’t make it to all the container-related sessions, worry not. We teamed up with Scott McCarty, Principal Technology Product Manager–Containers at Red Hat, to bring you an overview of what you missed.

  • Aging in the open: How this community changed us

    A passionate and dedicated community offers few of these comforts. Participating in something like the open organization community at Opensource.com—which turns four years old this week—means acquiescing to dynamism, to constant change. Every day brings novelty. Every correspondence is packed with possibility. Every interaction reveals undisclosed pathways.

    To a certain type of person (me again), it can be downright terrifying.

    But that unrelenting and genuine surprise is the very source of a community’s richness, its sheer abundance. If a community is the nucleus of all those reactions that catalyze innovations and breakthroughs, then unpredictability and serendipity are its fuel. I’ve learned to appreciate it—more accurately, perhaps, to stand in awe of it. Four years ago, when the Opensource.com team heeded Jim Whitehurst’s call to build a space for others to “share your thoughts and opinions… on how you think we can all lead and work better in the future” (see the final page of The Open Organization), we had little more than a mandate, a platform, and a vision. We’d be an open organization committed to studying, learning from, and propagating open organizations. The rest was a surprise—or rather, a series of surprises:

  • May 2019 License-Discuss Summary

    The corresponding License-Review summary is online at https://opensource.org/LicenseReview052019 and covers extensive debate on the Cryptographic Autonomy License, as well as discussion on a BSD license variant.

  • May 2019 License-Review Summary

    In May, the License-Review mailing list saw extensive debate on the Cryptographic Autonomy License. The list also discussed a BSD variant used by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Master-Console license.

    The corresponding License-Discuss summary is online at https://opensource.org/LicenseDiscuss052019 and covers an announcement regarding the role of the License-Review list, discussion on the comprehensiveness of the approved license list, and other topics.

  • Events

    • An interview with Thomas Di Giacomo about the state of Kubernetes

      I recently attended KubeCon EU 2019 in Barcelona. While there, I got the chance to chat with our CTO, Thomas Di Giacomo, about the state of Kubernetes and its marketplace. We also talked about the community centered culture of Kubernetes as well as some his dreams for the tech world. It was a great conversation and I believe it highlights just why there is this incredible amount of hype surrounding Kubernetes:

    • Geekos, Containers, and Clouds… Oh my! (Case Study of SUSE’s Integrated Stack)

      At the recent SUSECON conference in Nashville, Rick Ashford and Nathan Nelson from SUSE demonstrated how the Global Sales Engineering team uses its geeko.land cloud to demonstrate the full stack solution of SUSE OpenStack Cloud, SUSE Enterprise Storage, SUSE CaaS Platform, and SUSE Cloud Application Platform, all fully integrated and working together. They provide an overview of the Sales Engineering lab infrastructure and lessons learned during deployment and integration of our private cloud deployment.

    • I was at the Libre Graphics Meeting 2019

      I had a nice surprise last Monday, I learned that the city where I live Saarbrücken (Germany) is hosting the 2019 edition of the nice Libre Graphics Meeting (lgm). So I took the opportunity to attend my first FOSS event. The event took place at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar from the Wed 29.05 to Sunday 02.06.

      I really enjoyed, I meet a lot of other Free Software contributors (not only devs), and discovered some nice programming and artistic projects.

      There were some really impressive presentations and workshops.

    • Recommended Open Source Compliance Practices for the Enterprise

      Recommended Open Source Compliance Practices for the Enterprise
      Open source software provides significant economies to be gained through shared and transparent development, which offers access to source code, the ability to customize the source code based on specific needs, results in faster time-to-market for products and services, and provides access to a large pool of innovators. As such, open source software provides major competitive advantages when used appropriately, and when users comply with its licensing terms.

      With an incredibly high adoption rate and the increasing rapid adaptation of source code, enterprises are often on the lookout for better ways to maintain proper license compliance for the hundreds and thousands of open source components included in their products and services. This paper offers practical recommendations to help them improve their open source compliance practices.

    • The Open Infrastructure Summit comes to Shanghai

      The Call for Presentations for the Open Infrastructure Summit in Shanghai is now open, closing on July 2nd. This is the first time that the Open Infrastructure community has descended en masse upon mainland China, so this is an exciting milestone for Open Infrastructure.

      At the recent Summit in Denver, we saw presentations given by community members from around the globe – sharing their stories, presenting alongside others working for competing organisations to share knowledge and find solutions to problems. As Jonathan Bryce’s keynote put it – collaborating without borders.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Pathfinder: a first look at the best fonts and vector graphics on VR/AR

        Second only to watching video, most of the time people spend on computing devices today involves reading text and looking at vector graphics in the toolbars and user interfaces of programs. Over the last 20 years, a great deal of focus has gone into improving the quality of those fonts and graphics: subpixel anti-aliasing, cached font maps, etc.

        Unfortunately, as you can see in the left image below, that work results in grainy and jagged text in modern AR headsets. Ideally, we would render text smoothly at all angles, as shown in the image on the right.

      • This Week In Servo 130

        In the past month, we merged 208 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

      • Mozilla’s Servo Beginning To Work On Linux Video Acceleration

        Mozilla developers working on the Servo browser engine code have begun implementing hardware-accelerated video playback for Linux.

        With Linux video acceleration for browsers often being neglected, it’s good to see Linux support now being worked on for Servo’s video acceleration code path.

  • Databases

    • Top 15 Best Database Management Systems for Linux in 2019

      Data plays a very crucial role in modern businesses. Both global enterprises and non-profit organizations depend on data to obtain their target in today’s world. A robust database management system is thus essential for storing, retrieving, and manipulating data. Several database systems exist for operating on different types of data, and robust data management mechanisms are also available to help with this process. Since Linux plays a significant role in modern-day business and software ecosystem, a vast array of robust database management systems for Linux exist to help developers leverage data effectively.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.3 Beta1 ready for testing

      The LibreOffice Quality Assurance ( QA ) Team is happy to announce LibreOffice 6.3 Beta1 is ready for testing!

      LibreOffice 6.3 will be released as final in mid August, 2019, being LibreOffice 6.3 Beta1 the second pre-release since the development of version 6.3 started in mid November, 2018 ( See the release plan ). Since LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha1, 683 commits have been submitted to the code repository and 141 bugs have been set to FIXED in Bugzilla. Check the release notes to find the new features included in this version of LibreOffice.

      LibreOffice 6.3 Beta1 can be downloaded from here, it’s available for Linux, MacOS and Windows. Besides, and it can be installed along with your actual installation.

  • Programming/Development

    • The Rust Programming Language Blog: The Governance WG is going public

      Hey all! Today we’re happy to announce the Governance Working Group is going public. We’ve been spending the last couple weeks finding our bearings and structuring the working group.

      You can find our charter outlining our main goals and priorities in our work repository. We are using the Github issues, milestones and projects to organise and track our progress. The readme in the repository explains our working process a bit more in detail. It also states how you can talk to us (hint, via discord) and get involved.

    • PyDev of the Week: Stefan van der Walt

      This week we welcome Stefan van der Walt (@stefanvdwalt) as our PyDev of the Week! Stefan is the creator of scikit-image, which is a collection of algorithms for image processing. You can see some of the projects that he is a part of on Github or on Berkeley’s website. Stefan also has his own website which is worth checking out. Let’s take a few moments to get to know Stefan better!

    • Why Python?

      The most obvious answer is that the folks involved in CodeGrades are professional Python programmers. But there are more fundamental reasons why Python makes a great choice when first learning to write software, especially when compared to other programming languages.

      A primary strength of Python is its readability. Python uses indentation to structure code, so how it looks and is presented tells us something about how the code works. Python also has remarkably few confusing special syntactic symbols to organise code.

    • Julien Danjou: Advanced Functional Programming in Python: lambda

      A few weeks ago, I introduced you to functional programming in Python. Today, I’d like to go further into this topic and show you so more interesting features.

    • Lambda Function with Examples
    • Python Requests Tutorial | Python Tutorial
    • How to set up virtual environments for Python on MacOS
    • pictie, my c++-to-webassembly workbench

      Hello, interwebs! Today I’d like to share a little skunkworks project with y’all: Pictie, a workbench for WebAssembly C++ integration on the web.

    • Anaconda Recognized as a May 2019 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for Data Science and Machine Learning Platforms

      The Anaconda team is excited to announce that we have been recognized as a May 2019 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for Data Science and Machine Learning Platforms.

    • Pablo Galindo Salgado: The Night’s Watch is Fixing the CIs in the Darkness for You

      Python is tested on a menagerie of “buildbot” machines with different OSes and architectures, to ensure all Python users have the same experience on all platforms. As Pablo Galindo Salgado told the Language Summit, the bugs revealed by multi-platform tests are “Lovecraftian horrors”: race conditions, bugs specific to particular architectures or compiler versions, and so on. The core team had to confront these horrors with few good weapons, until now.

    • Python Language Summit Lightning Talks, Part 1

      The Python standard library, Lehtosalo said, contains the modules that most programmers use by default, so it should be fast. The main optimization technique has historically been to write C extensions. So far, 90 standard library modules are partly or entirely written in C, often for the sake of speed, totaling 200,000 lines of C code in the standard library. But C is hard to write and error prone, and requires specialized skills. “C is kind of becoming a dinosaur,” he said, provoking laughter from the core developers.

      As an alternative, Lehtosalo proposes “writing C extensions in Python.” The mypyc compiler reads PEP 484 annotated type-checked Python, and transforms it into C extension modules that run between 2 and 20 times faster than pure Python. Some of Python’s more dynamic features such as monkeypatching are prohibited, and other features are not yet supported, but the project is improving rapidly.

    • Qt Design Studio 1.2 released

      Qt Design Studio is a UI design and development tool that enables designers and developers to rapidly prototype and develop complex UIs. Both designers and developers use Qt Design Studio and this makes collaboration between the two a lot simpler and more streamlined. To get an impression, you should watch this video.

    • Qt Design Studio 1.2 Released With Sketch Integration, Complex Gradients

      The Qt Company has released Qt Design Studio 1.2, the newest version of their commercial-focused software package aimed at both designers and developers for rapidly prototyping user-interfaces.

      Qt Design Studio 1.2 remains committed to offering an optimal workflow for prototyping and developing complex UIs powered by Qt. With Qt Design Studio 1.2 there is a Qt Bridge for Sketch, allowing you to import assets created in the popular Sketch program to open seamlessly within the Qt Design Studio. Qt Design Studio 1.2 also adds support for more complex gradients and fixes other bugs and issues.

    • Object-Oriented Programming in Python vs Java

      Java programmers making a move to Python often struggle with Python’s approach to object-oriented programming (OOP). The approach to working with objects, variable types, and other language capabilities taken by Python vs Java are quite different. It can make switching between both languages very confusing.

      This article compares and contrasts object-oriented programming support in Python vs Java. By the end, you’ll be able to apply your knowledge of object-oriented programming to Python, understand how to reinterpret your understanding of Java objects to Python, and use objects in a Pythonic way.

    • Registration (and early-bird pricing) is open for Weekly Python Exercise
    • Predicting Customer Ad Clicks via Machine Learning

      Internet marketing has taken over traditional marketing strategies in the recent past. Companies prefer to advertise their products on websites and social media platforms. However, targeting the right audience is still a challenge in online marketing. Spending millions to display the advertisement to the audience that is not likely to buy your products can be costly.

    • Accuracy: from classification to clustering evaluation
    • Start developing LibreOffice! Registering with Git and Gerrit, and local settings
    • Building A Business On Serverless Technology – Episode 214

      Serverless computing is a recent category of cloud service that provides new options for how we build and deploy applications. In this episode Raghu Murthy, founder of DataCoral, explains how he has built his entire business on these platforms. He explains how he approaches system architecture in a serverless world, the challenges that it introduces for local development and continuous integration, and how the landscape has grown and matured in recent years. If you are wondering how to incorporate serverless platforms in your projects then this is definitely worth your time to listen to.

    • Swift Kick In The UI | Coder Radio 360
    • They say a python tuple can’t contain itself…
    • Sentiment Analysis with TextBlob and Python
    • Evangelizing Python for Business

      On May 30th, I had the pleasure of presenting at the MinneAnalytics Data Tech Conference with @KatieKodes. Our talk was on “Evangelizing Python for Business”.

    • Why this developer wrote a music player in C++

      Recently I was listening to some newly purchased music downloads on my System76 Gazelle laptop through my Schiit Fulla 2 DAC, thinking how wonderful the music sounded and how much I enjoy using my favorite open source music players.

      I started wondering about what motivates the developers who create and maintain these excellent pieces of software, so I decided to reach out to a few of them. I’ve had some great conversations, which I’ll share on Opensource.com. But first, a bit of background on how I developed such an appreciation for open source music players, including Guayadeque, created by Juan Ríos and my first “serious” open source music player.

Leftovers

  • Google Cloud, Gmail, other services hit by massive outage in US Featured

    Google’s services have been affected by serious networking issues in the eastern part of the United States, affecting multiple services in Google Cloud, G Suite and YouTube, the company says.

  • How many browser tabs do you usually have open?

    Here’s a potentially loaded question: How many browser tabs do you usually have open at one time? Do you have multiple windows, each with multiple tabs? Or are you a minimalist, and only have a couple of tabs open at once. Another option is to move a 20-tabbed browser window to a different monitor so that it is out of the way while working on a particular task.

  • Russian antimonopoly agency finds that ‘Avengers’ premiere reportedly delayed for Russian film was not, in fact, delayed

    Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has found that no violations were committed in granting Avengers: Endgame a Russian release date of April 29, four days later than the global release on April 24. The Telegram channel Povorot na Pravo, which submitted a complaint about the delay, reported on the FAS’s response.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • #NoMiddleGround Goes Viral as Sanders Backers Say Democrats Can’t Afford to Compromise on Medicare for All, Reproductive Rights, and Bold Climate Agenda

      Inspired by Sen. Bernie Sanders’s speech at the California Democratic Convention in California—in which the 2020 contender took a thinly veiled shot at fellow White House hopeful Joe Biden’s centrist policy approach—progressives made the Twitter hashtag #NoMiddleGround go viral on Sunday in an effort to make clear that there can be no compromises when it comes to confronting the global climate crisis, providing healthcare to all as a right, and battling inequality.

      “We have got to make it clear that when the future of the planet is at stake, there is no ‘middle ground,’” Sanders said, in a clear reference to Biden’s reported middle-of-the-road climate agenda. “We will take on the fossil fuel industry and transform our energy system.”

      “When it comes to healthcare, there is no middle ground,” Sanders continued. “When it comes to abortion, there is no middle ground. When it comes to mass shootings and the fact that 40,000 people were killed last year with guns, no middle ground.”

    • Would a Compromise on the Drug Pricing Bill Be a Victory or Defeat?

      When does it make sense to compromise as opposed to continuing to press for a principled position? This is a question that Democrats in Congress may have to deal with if Donald Trump gets over his temper tantrum about congressional investigations.

      Trump has apparently reached an agreement on the outlines of a prescription drug bill with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It would likely provide a limited amount of price reductions on a limited number of drugs. The question is whether it makes sense for Democrats to go along or to tell Pelosi to go back to the drawing board.

      There have been times in the past when compromise on this issue would have made sense, most notably the Medicare prescription drug benefit that President George W. Bush pushed through Congress in 2003. This is an example of a benefit that was structured in the worst possible way.

      The bill explicitly prohibited the Department of Health and Human Services from negotiating prices for drugs purchased under the plan. It also required that beneficiaries in the traditional Medicare system (as opposed to Medicare Advantage) buy a separate stand-alone insurance plan from private insurers.

    • ‘Industry Front Group’ Claims to Promote Public Health While Fighting Chemical and Food Safety Regulations, Study Finds

      A international so-called science institute has for years embedded itself on public health panels run by the European Union and United Nations, only to work against the goals of such bodies by pushing the profit-focused agendas of the tobacco, pesticide, and other industries, according to a new study.

      World Health Organization (WHO) consultant Simon Barquera tweeted Monday that it was “Black Monday” for the Washington, D.C.-based International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) after researchers at two universities and the U.S. Right to Know organization released a study showing that the group has received millions of dollars from the industries it’s meant to protect consumers from.

    • Ex-Governor’s Phone Seized in Flint Water Probe

      Authorities investigating Flint’s water crisis have used search warrants to seize from storage the state-owned mobile devices of former Gov. Rick Snyder and 65 other current or former officials, The Associated Press has learned.

      The warrants were sought two weeks ago by the attorney general’s office and signed by a Flint judge, according to documents the AP obtained through public records requests.

      Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who is helping with the probe, confirmed they executed a series of search warrants related to the criminal investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water in 2014-15 and a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

  • Security

    • June Content | Security in Infrastructure

      Can you believe we’re almost halfway through 2019? Where did the first 6 months go? It was this time last year that the Wi-Fi Alliance revealed (in more detail) the release of WPA3. “Why the need for WPA3?”, I thought. WPA2 was a quality, secure Wi-Fi, right? Many of us felt that way until something happened in early 2018. What happened, you ask? We’ll discuss that point and the new WPA3 in next week’s post about wireless security.

    • Django security releases issued: 2.2.2, 2.1.9 and 1.11.21
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Much @Stake: The Band of Hackers That Defined an Era
    • Blind SQL Injection Techniques Tutorial

      SQL Injection is a type of database attack in which an attacker tries to steal information from a web application’s database. This can even result to remote code execution depending upon web application environment and database version.

      SQL Injection happens due to poor sanitization of user input. If you take input from user in some coding language (PHP, ASP.NET) and pass it directly to server’s database without applying any filter on the input, this can result to SQL Injection vulnerability.

      For example, the following PHP code is vulnerable to SQL Injection attack because its directly passing the user input to database. Attacker can craft its own malicious database query to extract data from database.

    • New HiddenWasp Linux Malware Focused Solely on Achieving Targeted Remote Control [Ed: The media likes to frame this as a "Linux" issue even though it targets something else in order to take control of the underlying OS. Facts don't matter these days.]
  • Defence/Aggression

    • “Who Will Testify to Kosovo Tribunal?”

      In his report Marty (who is also on the board of Fondation Hirondelle, owner of JusticeInfo.net) pointed the finger at current President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, accused of being “one of the most dangerous sponsors of the Albanian criminal underworld”.

      The report says that the Kosovo president and his close aides “ordered, and in some cases personally oversaw a certain number of assassinations, detentions, attacks and interrogations in various regions of Kosovo, notably at the time of UCK (Kosovo Liberation Army) operations on Albanian territory between 1998 and 2000.”

      Dick Marty, who was mandated three times to investigate for the European Council on secret CIA prisons in Europe, crimes in the northern Caucasus and organ trafficking in Kosovo in 1999, got to view in the process the cynicism of Realpolitik and interests of State.

      This Wednesday evening he admitted he had been “shaken” by the production of these three reports which “destroyed many of the illusions and hopes that I had in justice. I discovered that governments lie and manipulate information, that people say one thing and do another. They talk about human rights on Sunday and on Monday they violate them.”

      With regard to the report alleging organ trafficking by UCK leaders including the current President of Kosovo, Marty said he was astonished that former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Carla del Ponte only raised the issue in her 2008 book Madame Prosecutor: Confrontations with Humanity’s Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity, i.e. four years after her office had failed to shine a light on these allegations.

    • The Navy’s War vs. Bolton’s War

      The recent White House decision to speed the deployment of an aircraft carrier battle group and other military assets to the Persian Gulf has led many in Washington and elsewhere to assume that the U.S. is gearing up for war with Iran. As in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, U.S. officials have cited suspect intelligence data to justify elaborate war preparations. On May 13th, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan even presented top White House officials with plans to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East for possible future combat with Iran and its proxies. Later reports indicated that the Pentagon might be making plans to send even more soldiers than that.

      Hawks in the White House, led by National Security Advisor John Bolton, see a war aimed at eliminating Iran’s clerical leadership as a potentially big win for Washington. Many top officials in the U.S. military, however, see the matter quite differently — as potentially a giant step backward into exactly the kind of low-tech ground war they’ve been unsuccessfully enmeshed in across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa for years and would prefer to leave behind.

      Make no mistake: if President Trump ordered the U.S. military to attack Iran, it would do so and, were that to happen, there can be little doubt about the ultimate negative outcome for Iran. Its moth-eaten military machine is simply no match for the American one. Almost 18 years after Washington’s war on terror was launched, however, there can be little doubt that any U.S. assault on Iran would also stir up yet more chaos across the region, displace more people, create more refugees, and leave behind more dead civilians, more ruined cities and infrastructure, and more angry souls ready to join the next terror group to pop up. It would surely lead to another quagmire set of ongoing conflicts for American soldiers. Think: Iraq and Afghanistan, exactly the type of no-win scenarios that many top Pentagon officials now seek to flee. But don’t chalk such feelings up only to a reluctance to get bogged down in yet one more war-on-terror quagmire. These days, the Pentagon is also increasingly obsessed with preparations for another type of war in another locale entirely: a high-intensity conflict with China, possibly in the South China Sea.

      After years of slogging it out with guerrillas and jihadists across the Greater Middle East, the U.S. military is increasingly keen on preparing to combat “peer” competitors China and Russia, countries that pose what’s called a “multi-domain” challenge to the United States. This new outlook is only bolstered by a belief that America’s never-ending war on terror has severely depleted its military, something obvious to both Chinese and Russian leaders who have taken advantage of Washington’s extended preoccupation with counterterrorism to modernize their forces and equip them with advanced weaponry.

      For the United States to remain a paramount power — so Pentagon thinking now goes — it must turn away from counterterrorism and focus instead on developing the wherewithal to decisively defeat its great-power rivals. This outlook was made crystal clear by then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in April 2018. “The negative impact on military readiness resulting from the longest continuous period of combat in our nation’s history [has] created an overstretched and under-resourced military,” he insisted. Our rivals, he added, used those same years to invest in military capabilities meant to significantly erode America’s advantage in advanced technology. China, he assured the senators, is “modernizing its conventional military forces to a degree that will challenge U.S. military superiority.” In response, the United States had but one choice: to reorient its own forces for great-power competition. “Long-term strategic competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”

    • Chris Hedges: Manufacturing War With Russia

      Despite the Robert Mueller report’s conclusion that Donald Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia during the 2016 presidential race, the new Cold War with Moscow shows little sign of abating. It is used to justify the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders, a move that has made billions in profits for U.S. arms manufacturers. It is used to demonize domestic critics and alternative media outlets as agents of a foreign power. It is used to paper over the Democratic Party’s betrayal of the working class and the party’s subservience to corporate power. It is used to discredit détente between the world’s two largest nuclear powers. It is used to justify both the curtailment of civil liberties in the United States and U.S. interventions overseas—including in countries such as Syria and Venezuela. This new Cold War predates the Trump presidential campaign. It was manufactured over a decade ago by a war industry and intelligence community that understood that, by fueling a conflict with Russia, they could consolidate their power and increase their profits. (Seventy percent of intelligence is carried out by private corporations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, which has been called the world’s most profitable spy operation.)

      “This began long before Trump and ‘Russiagate,’ ” Stephen F. Cohen said when I interviewed him for my television show, “On Contact.” Cohen is professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University, where he was the director of the Russian studies program, and professor emeritus of Russian studies and history at New York University. “You have to ask yourself, why is it that Washington had no problem doing productive diplomacy with Soviet communist leaders. Remember Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev? It was a love fest. They went hunting together [in the Soviet Union]. Yet along comes a post-Soviet leader, Vladimir Putin, who is not only not a communist but a professed anti-communist. Washington has been hating on him ever since 2003, 2004. It requires some explanation. Why do we like communist leaders in Russia better than we like Russia’s anti-communist leader? It’s a riddle.”

      “If you’re trying to explain how the Washington establishment has dealt with Putin in a hateful and demonizing way, you have to go back to the 1990s before Putin,” said Cohen, whose new book is “War With Russia? From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate.” The first post-Soviet leader is Boris Yeltsin. Clinton is president. And they have this fake, pseudo-partnership and friendship, whereas essentially the Clinton administration took advantage of the fact that Russia was in collapse. It almost lost its sovereignty. I lived there in the ’90s. Middle-class people lost their professions. Elderly people lost their pensions. I think it’s correct to say that industrial production fell more in the Russian 1990s than it did during our own Great Depression. It was the worst economic and social depression ever in peacetime. It was a catastrophe for Russia.”

    • Human Rights, The Expelled Chagos Islanders, and Britain’s Hypocrisy

      On May 20 the United Kingdom appointed its first human rights ambassador to the United Nations and two days later the General Assembly of the United Nations overwhelmingly condemned the UK for its continuing colonial treatment of the Chagos Islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, whose inhabitants it expelled fifty years ago.

      The irony escaped the UK’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who announced that the new ambassador “will be central to our work in defending human rights across the globe.”

      Hunt was spouting some of the most hypocritical garbage ever uttered by a representative of the present British government, which says a mouthful (as it were), because Britain’s conduct when it evicted the Chagos Islanders from their homes was brutal, and its continuing denial of their human rights is despicable.

      The Chagos Archipelago of some sixty islets was “depopulated” in the 1960s because Britain had agreed with America that there should be a US military airfield on the main island, Diego Garcia. As revealed in 2004, the head of Britain’s Colonial Office in 1966 wrote that “The object of the exercise is to get some rocks which will remain ours; there will be no indigenous population except seagulls who have not yet got a committee. Unfortunately along with the Birds go some few Tarzans or Men Fridays whose origins are obscure, and who are being hopefully wished on to Mauritius etc.”

      The sneering condescension so evident in that display of racist bigotry encapsulated the attitude of the British government which had refused to contribute troops to America’s war in Vietnam and was seeking to make up for this in some fashion. Prime Minister Harold Wilson, knew that sending British troops to Vietnam would be politically suicidal — but nobody cared about the fate of a couple of thousand “Tarzans or Men Fridays”, so he curried favor with Washington by handing over Diego Garcia.

    • Canada Against Cuba and Venezuela

      Ottawa faces a dilemma. How far are Trudeau’s Liberals prepared to go in squeezing Cuba? Can Canadian corporations with interests on the island restrain the most pro-US, anti-socialist, elements of the ruling class?

      Recently, the Canadian Embassy in Havana closed its Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship section. Now most Cubans wanting to visit Canada or get work/study permits will have to travel to a Canadian embassy in another country to submit their documents. In some cases Cubans will have to travel to another country at least twice to submit information to enter Canada. The draconian measure has already undercut cultural exchange and family visits, as described in a Toronto Star op-ed titled “Canada closes a door on Cuban culture”.

      It’s rare for an embassy to simply eliminate visa processing, but what’s prompted this measure is the stuff of science fiction. Canada’s embassy staff was cut in half in January after diplomats became ill following a mysterious ailment that felled US diplomats sent to Cuba after Donald Trump’s election. Four months after the first US diplomats (apparently) became ill US ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis met his Canadian, British and French counterparts to ask if any of their staff were sick. According to a recent New York Times Magazine story, “none knew of any similar experiences afflicting their officials in Cuba. But after the Canadian ambassador notified his staff, 27 officials and family members there asked to be tested. Twelve were found to be suffering from a variety of symptoms, similar to those experienced by the Americans.”

      With theories ranging from “mass hysteria” to the sounds of “Indies short-tailed crickets” to an “outbreak of functional disorders”, the medical questions remains largely unresolved. The politics of the affair are far clearer. In response, the Trump Administration withdrew most of its embassy staff in Havana and expelled Cuban diplomats from Washington. They’ve rolled back measures the Obama Administration instituted to re-engage with Cuba and recently implemented an extreme measure even the George W. Bush administration shied away from.

    • Tian’anmen – 30 years of sanctimony and cant

      generally describe Western attitudes to China as “a great big bag of arrogance, stuffed to the brim with ignorance, and tied with the string of prejudice”. Nothing embodies this better than Tian’anmen.

      Nobody really knows exactly what happened around Tian’anmen, and it is quite possible that we never will. But its anniversaries invariably provide a golden opportunity for Western middle-class posturing and sanctimony. Not once have I ever seen a Western journalist attempt to consider the incident from a Chinese perspective – then and now.

      The Guardian does not disappoint. This past weekend (Saturday 1st June), it provides us with the customary helping of hypocrisy and cant.

      Incredibly, the editorial is actually open for comments – always a sign that the editors are confident that the readership will toe the party line and parrot the party narrative.

      One small point: a reader (Solentbound) asked if it was possible to access the Guardian and read the article in China without a VPN. Nobody actually bothered answering the question. Speaking as someone in China who read the article without my VPN, the answer is “Yes”.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Strange Defenders: Assange and the Press

      In recent days, in response to the Trump administration’s issuance on May 23 of a 17-charge indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a number of prominent liberal columnists and Democratic politicians have come out with highly critical comments. Understandably, many long-time supporters of Julian Assange have seized on these condemnations as a chink of light in the darkness of the U.S. Government’s decade-long pursuit of the trailblazing publisher, as a hopeful sign that, finally, it might be possible to move defense of Julian Assange into the mainstream.

      However, such rejoicing may be misplaced, at best, and dangerously deluded, at worst. Who are these liberal icons taking a stand on behalf of Assange? They included Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). They also included journalists such as Alan Rusbridger, former editor of the Guardian; Masha Gessen of the New Yorker; MSNBC host Rachel Maddow; and the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Washington Post. So, let’s take each of them, one by one.

    • The Final Punishment of Julian Assange

      I’m getting a bit tired of the US Espionage Act. For that matter, I’ve been pretty weary of the Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning saga for a long time. No one wants to talk about their personalities because no one seems to like them very much – even those who have benefited journalistically from their revelations.

      From the start, I’ve been worried about the effect of Wikileaks, not on the brutal western governments whose activities it has disclosed in shocking detail (especially in the Middle East) but on the practice of journalism. When we scribes were served up this Wikileaks pottage, we jumped in, paddled around and splashed the walls of reporting with our cries of horror. And we forgot that real investigative journalism was about the dogged pursuit of truth through one’s own sources rather than upsetting a bowl of secrets in front of readers, secrets which Assange and co – rather than us – had chosen to make public.

      Why was it, I do recall asking myself almost 10 years ago, that we could read the indiscretions of so many Arabs or Americans but so few Israelis? Just who was mixing the soup we were supposed to eat? What had been left out of the gruel?

      But the last few days have convinced me that there is something far more obvious about the incarceration of Assange and the re-jailing of Manning. And it has nothing to do with betrayal or treachery or any supposed catastrophic damage to our security.

      In The Washington Post this week, we’ve had Marc Theissen, a former White House speechwriter who defended CIA torture as “lawful and morally just”, telling us that Assange “is not a journalist. He is a spy … He engaged in espionage against the United States. And he has no remorse for the harm he has caused.” So forget that Trump’s insanity has already turned torture and secret relations with America’s enemies into a pastime.

      No, I don’t think this has anything to do with the use of the Espionage Act – however grave its implications for conventional journalists – or “reputable news organisations”, as Thiessen cloyingly calls us. Nor does it have much to do with the dangers these revelations posed to America’s locally hired agents in the Middle East. I remember well how often Iraqi interpreters for US forces told us how they had pleaded for visas for themselves and their families when they came under threat in Iraq – and how most were told to get lost. We Brits treated many of our own Iraqi translators with similar indifference.

    • San Francisco DA’s Office Whips Up Its Own Sunlight, Releases Data Sets On Arrests And Convictions

      A horrifically stupid and likely-illegal raid of a journalist’s house notwithstanding, San Francisco’s move towards greater law enforcement accountability and transparency has been monumental. Granted, this increase’s momentousness is relative. Most cities do nothing at all to increase law enforcement accountability and transparency, so any forward momentum becomes noteworthy for even exisiting.

      San Francisco recently became the first city in the nation to ban use of facial recognition tech by local government agencies. The tech’s problematic history and freedom-threatening growing pains should have produced similar bans elsewhere in the country, but so far, it’s only San Francisco. The fact that it did it before law enforcement even started using it deserves to be applauded. Legislators are rarely ahead of the tech adoption curve… if they’re even being informed at all about local law enforcement’s new tech toys by the agencies they’re supposed to be overseeing.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Question of the Century: Do We Have a Right to a Livable Climate?

      The climate is changing, the changes are human-caused, and most of them will be detrimental to people and ecosystems. But while public sentiment and plausible policy measures on these threats have been maturing in recent years, the law has not kept up.

      Today climate change as a legal matter remains blurry and disconnected from the principles our system of government aspires to follow. The question remains unanswered: Do we — including future generations — have a legal right to a climate in which we can pursue our rights to life, liberty, property and happiness?

      This is the question that a case called Juliana, et al. v. United States has thrown like a crowbar into the American legal system. If strong enough leverage is applied by the case and any resulting ruling, the whole edifice of environmental law and its position in constitutional law will undergo a deep shift.

      Juliana — better known as Youth v. Gov — was filed in 2015 in the U.S. District Court in Eugene, Oregon, on behalf of 21 young plaintiffs and climate scientist James Hansen, serving in this case as a guardian for future generations. Our Children’s Trust is the Eugene-based nonprofit sponsoring the case. Since it was filed, the defendant (the U.S. government) has made five appeals to higher courts — three to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and two to the U.S. Supreme Court — to throw the case out on various procedural and summary motions. Currently its third appeal to the Ninth Circuit hangs in the balance, with oral argument before a three-judge panel set for June 4 in Portland.

    • Compound heat waves have double impact

      Be ready for climate hazard in a new form – the compound heat waves that hit you, leave you, and come back again.

      As the world warms, say US scientists, the risk of economically devastating, physically debilitating and potentially lethal extremes of heat will multiply, and in unexpected ways.

      Researchers picture a world in which the most vulnerable – those already ill or elderly, housed in substandard buildings in crowded cities – are laid low and gasping by several days of extreme heat. Even if the temperatures drop a little, the buildings in which they live will still “store” heat to intolerable levels.

      And then, unexpectedly, the extremes of heat return. Hospitals could be overwhelmed. Electric grids might experience overload. Harvests could wither. And the weakest could dehydrate and die.

      “Averaged over time, heat waves are the most deadly type of disaster in the United States, in addition to causing many emergency room visits, lost working hours and lower agricultural yields,” said Jane Baldwin of Princeton University in the US.

    • Animal Rights Protester Grabs Mic From Kamala Harris on San Francisco Stage

      Harris was about to answer a question about her plan to address the gender pay gap when a male protester walked onto the stage, grabbed her microphone and began to speak.

      “We’re asking for a much bigger idea than — ” he said before the microphone was cut and he was escorted off stage, POLITICO reported. He was not charged.

    • WATCH: Inspiring You and 1 Billion People to Take Part in One Plastic Free Day

      Will you be a part of this solution? Campaigners and businesses united to launch one of the largest plastic pollution visual surveys ever conducted.

      On June 5, coincided with World Environment Day, A Plastic Planet urges you to join the challenge. It’s simple. Take a photo of anything you would like to see go plastic free. Post the photo to your social media channels and use the hashtag #OnePlasticFreeDay. Include where you are posting from and what the item or place is.

      EcoWatch teamed up with A Plastic Planet via Facebook live on Monday to amplify the voice of the exciting One Plastic Free Day in which people will unite locally and globally to take part in a landmark global visual survey on plastic.

    • Trump Lifts Summer Ethanol Ban Meant to Prevent Smog

      Just before the weekend, the Trump administration lifted a summertime ban on gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol, the New York Times reported. The move, which is a boon to Midwest corn and soybean farmers hurt by both Trump’s escalating trade war with China and catastrophic flooding, has made unlikely allies of the oil industry and environmental activists.

      Currently, gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol, commonly known as E15, is banned during peak driving season from June 1 to Sept. 15. The ban exists because ethanol evaporates easily, especially in higher temperatures, which scientists say produces more nitrogen oxide. That pollutant increases ground-ozone concentrations, or smog, which is hazardous to respiratory health, according to Green Car Reports.

    • Trump Administration Lifts Ethanol-Fuel Ban That Was Meant to Cut Smog

      The Trump administration said Friday that it has lifted a summertime ban on the use of E15, a gasoline blend made of 15 percent ethanol. The move is designed to help corn and soybean farmers harmed by President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs.

      Ethanol, made from corn and other crops, has been mixed into some types of gasoline for years as a way to reduce reliance on oil, among other things. However, burning ethanol-blended fuel in the summertime heat has a side effect of increasing smog — and for that reason the lifting of the ban raised objections from environmentalists. Oil companies also criticized the ending of the summertime ban because a wider use of ethanol will cut into their sales of gasoline.

      Nevertheless, the change has the potential to reap political benefits for Mr. Trump as he gives the agriculture industry a policy change it has long sought. The formal lifting of the ban follows through on a promise Mr. Trump made to farmers on a trip to Iowa last fall, as he sought to shore up support for Republicans in the Midwest. The ban has been in place since 2011 and Mr. Trump has criticized it as “ridiculous.”

    • Tornadoes and climate change: what does the science say?

      The US has recently experienced one of its worst tornado outbreaks of the past decade, with more than 500 reported over 30 days. The number so far this year is also more than 200 above average.

      This has raised the question of what role, if any, climate change may have played in this unusually intensive period of tornadoes. While some have suggested that climate change is driving the above-average numbers, the scientific community has pushed back on these claims.

      Scientists have relatively low confidence in detecting a link between tornado activity and climate change. They cannot exclude the possibility of a link; rather, the science is so uncertain that they simply do not know at this point.

      What is clear is that there is no observable increase in the number of strong tornadoes in the US over the past few decades. At the same time, tornadoes have become more clustered, with outbreaks of multiple tornadoes becoming more common even as the overall number has remained unchanged. There is also evidence that tornado “power” has been increasing in recent years.

      Some research has suggested that climate change will create conditions more favourable to the formation of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, but such effects are not detectable in observations today.

      Any role for climate change in affecting the conditions for tornado formation is still very much an open question and the subject of ongoing research by the scientific community.

    • This Sydney Restaurateur Couldn’t Find the Thai Ingredients She Needed, So She Started a Farm

      While her classmates hit the playground after school, seven-year-old Palisa Anderson would race home every afternoon to tend to the chrysanthemum she had given to her mother. The plant came to life and flowered. “I would talk to it,” says Anderson.

      Anderson’s love of plants translated into Boon Luck Farm, a coastal enclave near Byron Bay, about a seven-hour drive north of Sydney, that is connected to her family’s chain of Thai restaurants. But Anderson isn’t your typical rural Australian farmer. The daughter of Thai immigrants, she grew up in an apartment in a Sydney suburb before setting off for London and then returning home almost a decade ago to join the family business, a chain of cafés across Sydney, beginning with the now-iconic Chat Thai. Launched by Anderson’s mother, Amy, in 1989, Chat Thai stands out among a crowded field of Thai players in Sydney. The Anderson family’s restaurants are acclaimed for their authenticity and complexity. The New York Times has called Boon Cafe “iconoclastic,” and much of that has to do with the freshness of the ingredients.

    • The Top-Down Contamination of the EPA

      When former administrator Scott Pruitt stepped down and Andrew Wheeler took over, few who care about clean air, clean water, and climate change actually thought things were going to get dramatically better at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler, after all, came to the job after working as a coal lobbyist and a legislative aide to one of Congress’s most notorious climate deniers. Still, given that he’d actually begun his career as a special assistant in the EPA’s Pollution Prevention and Toxics Office, it wasn’t outlandish to wonder if Wheeler might represent at least some kind of improvement over his predecessor.

      Short answer: He doesn’t. As hard as it is to picture an EPA less willing to fight for public health and the environment than the one we endured under Pruitt, Wheeler’s EPA is emerging as a credible candidate. As some of us suspected, the main difference between the two directors appears to be a matter of style. Whereas Pruitt’s brand of corruption was bumbling and often transparently self-serving, Wheeler’s is polished and insidious. But through their bad-faith actions, both men have been exceptional at perverting the agency’s mission and cultivating mistrust among its staff.

      According to emails and other internal EPA documents received earlier this month by the Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin as part of a federal public records request, in 2018 Pruitt pressured EPA scientists to overlook their own informed opinions about smog pollution in order to pave the way for a heavily polluting and water-guzzling manufacturing plant in southeastern Wisconsin. If built, the Foxconn flat-screen TV factory could have theoretically added 13,000 jobs to the area, burnishing the reputation of Governor Scott Walker—a friend to the Trump administration—at a crucial political moment in the governor’s reelection campaign. (FWIW, Walker lost.)

    • It’s Time to Stop Calling Natural Gas a ‘Bridge Fuel’ to a Safe Climate, Says New Report

      Natural gas, marketed for years as a “bridge fuel” to cleaner energy sources, cannot be part of any climate solution, according to a new report from Oil Change International.

      While its authors outline a range of arguments, the report, Burning the Gas “Bridge Fuel” Myth: Why Gas is Not Clean, Cheap, or Necessary, highlights this simple reason: There is no room for new fossil fuel development — natural gas included — within the Paris Agreement goals. Therefore, plans to transition to a natural gas-based system are incompatible with international climate goals.

    • High Radiation Levels Found in Giant Clams Near U.S. Nuclear Dump Site on Marshall Islands

      New research found high levels of radiation in giant clams near a 42-year old nuclear waste site in the Central Pacific. The findings have scientists concerned that pollution from the site is leaving the enclosed structure and leaking into the ocean and the food chain, according to the Los Angeles Times.

      The radioactive clams were found near Runit Dome, which locals call “The Tomb,” on the Enewatik Atoll on the Marshall Islands. The clams are a local delicacy and popular in China, which has had a voracious appetite for them in recent years, according to the Los Angeles Times. Yet, the findings suggest that either radiation is oozing out of Runit Dome or the waste from past weapons testing was not adequately cleaned up.

    • High radiation levels found in giant clams near U.S. nuclear dump in Marshall Islands

      Researchers have found high levels of radiation in giant clams near the Central Pacific site where the United States entombed waste from nuclear testing almost four decades ago, raising concerns the contamination is spreading from the dump site’s tainted groundwater into the ocean and the food chain.
      The findings from the Marshall Islands suggest that radiation is either leaking from the waste site — which U.S. officials reject — or that authorities did not adequately clean up radiation left behind from past weapons testing, as some in the Marshall Islands claim.

      [...]

      Much of the fallout from those events is now entombed within Runit Dome. According to a photograph taken of Hamilton’s presentation slides, the 377-foot-wide crater in Enewetak Atoll contains groundwater samples with radiation levels 1,000 to 6,000 times higher than those found in the open ocean.
      Much of the fallout from those events is now entombed within Runit Dome. According to a photograph taken of Hamilton’s presentation slides, the 377-foot-wide crater in Enewetak Atoll contains groundwater samples with radiation levels 1,000 to 6,000 times higher than those found in the open ocean.
      Some Marshallese who attended the presentation are skeptical about the agency’s conclusion that the dome is not leaking into the lagoon.

      “What they’re saying is, here is the dome. And here, in the lagoon area, there is radiation. … But as far as leaking from the dome, we don’t think that’s the case?” said James Matayoshi, mayor of Rongelap Atoll, one of the atolls contaminated by fallout from the nuclear testing program. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

      Extending the incredulity further, Matayoshi and others noted that Hamilton presented a short animation of the dome, showing it rise and fall with the tide — suggesting seawater is freely flowing in and out of the containment zone.

    • Activists Stage Blockade to Block Work on Line 3 as Court Tosses Out Proposed Pipeline’s Approval From Regulators

      Enbridge’s Line 3 was dealt a setback by the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday while a trio of water protectors sustained strong resistance to the project by locking themselves to machinery to block work on the proposed oil pipeline.

      The three-judge panel, with one of the judges objecting, reversed the approval that the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) gave last year to the Calgary-based company’s environmental impact statement, calling it “inadequate because it didn’t address the potential impact of an oil spill into the Lake Superior watershed.”

      Advocacy group Environment Minnesota celebrated the development on Twitter, writing, “This is such great news.”

      The decision means the statement goes back to PUC, as the Star Tribune reported.

    • Sunrise Movement Vows to “Turn Up the Heat on Biden” as New Survey Details 2020 Dems’ Climate Policies

      “The former vice president has cast himself as an ardent environmentalist… But his campaign has not yet announced any concrete energy proposals,” the Post’s Dino Grandoni, who contributed to the survey report, wrote Monday.

      Although Biden is the front-runner based on recent polling, he has kept a low profile compared with his competitors.

      Juliet Eilperin, another journalist who contributed to the Post’s report, tweeted Monday afternoon that Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Andrew Yang “didn’t bother to respond” to the survey, initially published Friday and repeatedly updated with responses from campaigns since then.

    • Lobbying Against Key US Climate Regulation ‘Cost Society $60 Billion,’ Study Finds

      Political lobbying in the U.S. that helped block the progress of proposed climate regulation a decade ago led to a social cost of $60 billion, according to a new study.

      Environmental economists Dr. Kyle Meng and Dr. Ashwin Rode have produced what they believe is the first attempt to quantify the toll such anti-climate lobbying efforts take on society.

    • Political lobbying buys off climate law

      Big money talks loudest. A decade ago Washington saw political lobbying spend $700 million to influence the political shape and progress of the American Clean Energy and Security Act – and significantly reduce its chances of success.

      The reward for the investment was a 13% reduction in its chances of progress into law. The pay-off for the rest of humanity was, at a conservative estimate, an extra $60 billion worth of climate damages from future superstorms, droughts and heatwaves associated with global heating.

      The political initiative was at the time the most prominent and promising US climate regulation legislation so far on the books. It failed.

    • You Can’t Save the Climate By Going Vegan. Corporate Polluters Must be Held Accountable.

      “People start pollution. People can stop it.” That was the tag line of the famous “Crying Indian” ad campaign that first aired on Earth Day in 1971. It was, as it turns out, a charade. Not only was “Iron Eyes Cody” actually an Italian-American actor, the campaign itself successfully shifted the burden of litter from corporations that produced packaging to consumers.

      The problem, we were told, wasn’t pollution-generating corporate practices. It was you and me. And efforts to pass bottle bills, which would have shifted responsibility to producers for packaging waste, failed. Today, decades later, plastic pollution has so permeated our planet that it can now be found in the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench 36,000 feet below.

      Here is another Crying Indian campaign going on today—with climate change. Personal actions, from going vegan to avoiding flying, are being touted as the primary solution to the crisis. Perhaps this is an act of desperation in an era of political division, but it could prove suicidal.

      Though many of these actions are worth taking, and colleagues and friends of ours are focused on them in good faith, a fixation on voluntary action alone takes the pressure off of the push for governmental policies to hold corporate polluters accountable. In fact, one recent study suggests that the emphasis on smaller personal actions can actually undermine support for the substantive climate policies needed.

  • Finance

    • China’s Rare Earth Trade Card

      The United States sees the trade dispute it has with China as one of many. It’s been down this road before, with Japan, Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

      China views it differently. In Beijing the trade issue is seen as a threat to its further development and a possible cause of instability. The compact between the party and the people, growth without political reform, could be damaged.

      So, when the phrase, “don’t say we didn’t warn you” was used by state media last month it confirmed the gravity with which the situation is viewed from Beijing. This was not a throw-away line, though on the surface it seemed quite mild. That is until you realize the significance of it.

      The six-word phrase is associated with China going to war with India in 1962 and Vietnam in 1979. It could not have been used without the highest official clearance. Beijing considers this trade dispute as a clear and present danger.

      It must be stressed that war is not likely in the short term between China and the US, and the Thucydides trap, where an established power is challenged by an emerging power, is not pre-ordained. Besides, of all the causes to rally to the flag and take to the trenches, rare earths, hardly inspire thoughts of daring-do and bravery. Thousands will not take to the streets in either Beijing or Washington under banners in passionate defence of say, Lanthanum or Dysprosium. These minerals and others are, however, vital for modern lifestyles and technology and ironically, are not that rare.

      The methods use to extract them are heavily polluting. It’s a dirty business. Processing one ton of rare earths produces 2,000 tons of toxic waste.

    • Trump Companies Accused of Tax Evasion in Panama

      The owners of a 70-story Panama City hotel tower formerly managed by President Donald Trump’s companies are accusing them of stiffing the Panamanian government.

      In a legal filing Monday in an ongoing lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, private equity manager Orestes Fintiklis and the company he leads, Ithaca Capital Partners, claimed that two Trump companies failed to pay Panamanian taxes equal to 12.5% of the management fees they drew from the hotel.

      The Trump entities were allegedly supposed to withhold those fees in advance and pay them to the government regardless of whether the property was profitable or not. Instead, the Trump companies simply kept the money, the suit claims, “thus intentionally evading taxes.” That and other financial irregularities exposed Fintiklis and the companies he represents “to millions of dollars in liability,” according to the suit, which also claims Trump companies sought to cover up their actions. The filing does not say whether a tax penalty has been levied by Panamanian authorities.

    • Is the Government Finally Going After Google and Amazon?

      The U.S. Department of Justice is facing what Politico calls a “major test” of its antitrust abilities as it takes steps toward an initial investigation of Google, as The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. The Washington Post also reported Friday that the Federal Trade Commission is considering an investigation of Amazon. While these reports don’t mean official investigations have been opened, even small steps, as Politico writer Nancy Scola says, is “a clear signal that two years of a bipartisan anti-Silicon Valley backlash in Washington may be yielding concrete action.”

      Both moves, as the Post reported, are “the result of the FTC and the Department of Justice, the U.S. government’s leading antitrust enforcement agencies, quietly divvying up competition oversight of two of the country’s top tech companies.”

      On Monday, the Wall Street Journal also reported that the FTC will lead an antitrust investigation into Facebook, and the House Judiciary Committee will begin its own investigation into the technology industry, examining competition in digital markets. The process, the Journal reports, “will include multiple hearings, along with requests for information to the major businesses.”

      According to the Post, the new oversight is a sign that both agencies are attempting to improve their supervision of tech companies. Earlier this year, as the Post points out, “The FTC established a special task force it said would monitor tech and competition, including ‘investigating any potential anti-competitive conduct in those markets, and taking enforcement actions when warranted.’ ”

    • 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.

    • Neoliberalism Is Dead—But the Neoliberal Elite Didn’t Get the Memo

      The evidence keeps piling up. Neoliberalism is dead.

      Just look at the record. Trump—a cross between a carney barker and a conman—beat a neoliberal in 2016. Right-wing populists have scored big in Austria, Italy, Britain, and Brazil since then. Just recently, Australia’s right-of-center Labor coalition won their election. And in the European Union’s latest contest, Greens won big while right-wing parties made gains in some areas. All these victories came at the expense of neoliberal centrists.

      Bottom line: Across the world, people are finally wising up to the fact that neoliberalism has failed them economically, politically, and environmentally. In fact, the climate crisis—an existential threat to human civilization—is a direct result of the global neoliberal juggernaut that has swept the developed world. So are the record levels of income and wealth disparity, and the subversion of democracy by a powerful oligarchy—particularly in the US.

      The only folks who didn’t get the memo on this appears to be the neoliberal mafia that runs the Democratic Party and the mainstream media here in the US.

      At a time when neoliberalism is all but dead, Democrats and the mainstream media are pushing Joe Biden, a neoliberal with a track record of supporting corporations and financial interests above the people’s interests; a man who’s backed by PACs; a man whose small-bore response to the climate crisis amounts to mass genocide for people and the species we share the planet with.

      According to The Hill’s media reporter, Joe Concha, Biden is getting more media coverage than all the other Democratic candidates combined, and the month after he announced, in one week alone, Biden was mentioned 1400 times, to 400 for Sanders, who is running second in the polls. This kind of backing by the party and the press is reminiscent of how they treated Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the results will probably be the same. It’s hard for a true progressive candidate to compete when the majority of the liberal infrastructure—academia, think tanks, not-for-profits, the press, Wall Street, banks and wealthy backers—line up behind a candidate.

      But with people awakening to the consequences of neoliberalism, Biden is the wrong man at the wrong time.

    • Vanguard Patented a Way to Avoid Taxes on Mutual Funds

      Like flipping a light switch, Vanguard Group Inc. has figured out a way to shut off taxes in its mutual funds.

      The first to benefit was the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund. Investors’ end-of-year tax forms abruptly stopped showing capital gains in 2001, even as the fund went on to generate billions of dollars of them. By 2011, Vanguard had flipped the switch in 14 stock funds. In all, these funds have booked $191 billion in gains while reporting zero to the Internal Revenue Service.

      This astounding success gives Vanguard funds an edge over competitors. Yet the world’s second-largest asset manager has avoided drawing attention to it. Top executives at the Malvern, Pennsylvania-based firm don’t want U.S. policymakers looking too closely at how they’re doing it, according to a former insider.

      But a review of financial statements and trading data shows that Vanguard relies substantially on so-called heartbeat trades, which wash away taxes by rapidly pumping stocks in and out of a fund. These controversial transactions are common in exchange-traded funds—a record $98 billion of them took place last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News—but only Vanguard has used them routinely to also benefit mutual funds.

    • Congress Finally to Send $19B Disaster Aid Bill to Trump

      Congress is finally shipping President Donald Trump a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill, a measure stalled for months by infighting, misjudgment and a presidential feud with Democrats.

      The House is approving the measure in its first significant action as it returns from a 10-day recess. It is slated for a Monday evening vote in which Republicans whose home districts have been hit by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and fires are set to join with majority Democrats to deliver a big vote for the measure.

      Conservative Republicans had held up the bill during the recess, objecting on three occasions to efforts by Democratic leaders to pass the bill by a voice vote requiring unanimity. They say the legislation — which reflects an increasingly permissive attitude in Washington on spending to address disasters that sooner or later hit every region of the country — shouldn’t be rushed through without a recorded vote.

    • Congress: Stop Funding Duterte

      Election meddling has raised increasing alarm in U.S. politics since the election of Trump. Now, the same question racks the Philippines.

      Recently, in a wash of election fraud, candidates backed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte swept the country’s Senate — including Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, former police chief and architect of Duterte’s drug war. Strangely, now that Duterte has seized control over every branch of government, he’s also become increasingly absent, resurfacing questions of his health and stability to be president.

      But if there’s one thing that’s clear from this election, it’s this: Duterte’s administration has proved itself violent and corrupt once again, worsening a human rights record whose severity has long merited an end of U.S. support.

      On top of rampant vote-buying, evidence of dramatically increased voter fraud and suppression is mounting. Over 10 times the number of vote counting machines malfunctioned during this election compared to 2016. Voters who selected opposition candidates discovered that their voter receipts showed that their votes had been tallied for Duterte’s slate instead. Some ballots allegedly omitted progressive party lists altogether, while viral social media posts falsely claimed that these had been “disqualified” for “destabilizing the government.”

    • ‘Absolutely Disgusting’: West Virginia Senate Passes Bill That Would Ban Teacher Strikes

      “Already, we don’t have collective bargaining. It’s a right-to-work state,” Albert told Politico ahead of the bill’s passage. “This is just I think another stab at trying to punish us, making the law perhaps a little more severe with such language.”

      The legislation now heads to West Virginia’s House of Delegates, which is set to reconvene later this month.

      Public employee strikes are technically already unlawful under West Virginia state law, but previous court decisions haven’t detailed “possible consequences for teachers” who go on strike, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

      The GOP amendment, according to the Gazette-Mail, would “specify that public worker strikes are unlawful, that school workers can be fired if they strike, that school employees’ pay can be withheld on strike days, and that county superintendents can’t close schools in anticipation of a strike or to help a strike.”

      Republican state Sen. Charles Trump, the sponsor of the amendment, described the provision as “a codification of what is the current law of West Virginia.”

      Winnie Wong, senior political adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), called the measure “absolutely disgusting” in a tweet on Monday.

      In addition to walkouts over pay and benefits last year that shut down every school in the state, West Virginia teachers also went on strike earlier this year to protest Republican privatization efforts.

    • Apple Joins The List Of Companies Facing US Antitrust Investigation

      The US Department of Justice is about to add another name to the list for its antitrust investigation spree. This time, it’s Apple. So far, the company has managed to stay out of sight when authorities try to scrutinize tech companies on various grounds like privacy, security, and anti-competitive business practices.

    • The Banking Model That’s Bankrupting Americans

      Purchase in the Truthdig Bazaar

      In 2018, the Fed announced plans to raise rates by 2020 to “normal” levels — a fed funds target of 3.375 percent — and to sell about $1.5 trillion in federal securities at the rate of $50 billion monthly, further growing the mountain of federal debt on the market. When the Fed holds government securities, it returns the interest to the government after deducting its costs; but the private buyers of these securities will be pocketing the interest, adding to the taxpayers’ bill.

      In fact it is the interest, not the debt itself, that is the problem with a burgeoning federal debt. The principal just gets rolled over from year to year. But the interest must be paid to private bondholders annually by the taxpayers and constitutes one of the biggest items in the federal budget. Currently the Fed’s plans for “quantitative tightening” are on hold; but assuming it follows through with them, projections are that by 2027 U.S. taxpayers will owe $1 trillion annually just in interest on the federal debt. That is enough to fund President Donald Trump’s trillion-dollar infrastructure plan every year, and it is a direct transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy investors holding most of the bonds.

      Where will this money come from? Crippling taxes, wholesale privatization of public assets, and elimination of social services will not be sufficient to cover the bill.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Nancy Pelosi’s False Dichotomies

      The corporate Democrats can see through false dichotomies when it suits them to do so. When National Rifle Association Republicans ritually assert (after big mass shootings, like the recent one in Virginia Beach) that “people kill people, guns don’t kill people,” smart corporate Democrats point out that the extreme number of people killed by other people wielding guns in the United States cannot be understood without factoring in the weakness of gun laws and the remarkable availability of lethal weaponry in the nation. Most corporate Democrats rightly call out “the people kill people” vs. “guns kill people” dichotomy as dangerously false.

      When the Republicans identify themselves as the party of capitalism and the Democrats as the party of socialism, corporate Democrats reject the false dichotomy and claim correctly (if sadly) to be a party of capitalism. (Never mind that capitalism is systemically hard-wired: to devalue and exploit labor power; to concentrate wealth and power in ever fewer hands; to disable and pervert democracy; to purchase the misplaced allegiance of educators, intellectuals, and politicians; to capture government; to pollute and poison culture in service to endless commodification; to push livable ecology past disastrous tipping points of no return.)

      But corporate Democrats purvey richly false dichotomies of their own. For one recent example, take their notion that that the Democratic Party must choose between either (a) running the “socialist” presidential candidate Bernie Sanders or (b) electoral viability against Donald Trump in 2020. The argument recurs again and again among corporate Democrat hosts and panelists on CNN and MSDNC and among corporate Democrat reporters and pundits at the New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico, and elsewhere.

    • Trump Insults London Mayor as He Arrives for U.K. Visit

      President Donald Trump and his wife Melania were greeted on the grand lawn of Buckingham Palace by Queen Elizabeth II and inspected the Guard of Honor formed by the Grenadier Guards wearing the traditional bearskin hats.

      Royal gun salutes were fired Monday from nearby Green Park and from the Tower of London as part of the pageantry accompanying an official state visit, one of the highest honors Britain can bestow on a foreign leaders.

      The ceremony took place under clear blue skies on the spacious garden next to the 775-room palace that is the official residence of the queen.

      Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, and his wife Camilla welcomed the Trumps as they walked down the steps of their helicopter.

    • Snub Level: Majestic

      Leave it to the Brits, masters of passive aggression, to troll the clown of the western world into oblivion. From the moment he arrived to the sight of a giant penis mowed into a field, Trump – who with his usual class began by calling right-on critic and Mayor Sadiq Khan “a stone-cold loser” like the “very dumb and incompetent” Bill DeBlasio, and really, what kind of vicious buffoon does that?? – got what he deserved. He got an editorial declaring one more time he is “not welcome” and calling him “a demagogue who represents a threat to peace, democracy and the climate of our planet” whose vanity is “a joke.” He got the promise of Baby Trump blimp flying over London Tuesday – thanks Mayor Khan! – along with massive protests organized by Together Against Trump. From the queen, he got a tacky, abridged version of Winston Churchill’s history of World War Two, hopefully with pictures.

      And from a populace that really hates him, he got a giddy flood of in-your-face mockery: The subtle burn of no red carpet at the airport, the startlingly empty streets applauded as “negative turnout,” the deliberate posts offering damning evidence of his awfulness – him falling asleep as the Queen spoke at a state dinner, others grimly forced to listen to him babbling, his dead-eyed evil spawn – a favorite was Ivanka and Jared looking out a palace window, “haunted dolls…separated from the world by a pane of glass and the empty space where their souls used to be” – and the ghastly spectacle of him stuffed, fat penguin-like, into a tailcoat.

      Still, the truth-telling award went to Led By Donkeys, an anti-Brexit and anti-foolishness group that bombarded the city and hopefully Trump’s fragile psyche with giant projections on Big Ben, the Tower of London and other high-profile sites. They posted Mario Rubio’s earlier charges of Trump’s vulgarity. They displayed the respective approval ratings in the U.K of Trump and Obama – SAD! They projected onto Madame Tussaud’s a massive USS John McCain baseball cap with, “Welcome to London!” Perhaps most bitingly, they projected the former words of Brexit bad boy Boris Johnson, who Trump has praised as “a very good guy, a very talented person,” not least because “he has been very positive about me and our country.” Another SAD! especially ’cause ole Boris didn’t return the favor.

    • Hostility between voters over Brexit feels hopeless, but our research may show a way to bridge the divide

      It is a huge problem, and it goes a lot further than fractious Brexit discussions at the dinner table.

      We study this phenomenon across 27 countries through the Electoral Psychology Observatory (EPO) at the London School of Economics and Political Science. It is part of our project “the age of electoral hostility” (ELHO). We have launched a “hostility barometer” (jointly with survey company Opinium) which will report monthly for the UK and will track the negative feelings British people hold toward those who vote differently from them.

      Our first wave of findings from the 2019 European Parliament elections have shown that electoral hostility can have far-reaching consequences on a systemic, personal and societal level.

      Simply put, people are now less willing to pay taxes to protect those who voted differently from them. It is a troubling finding. After all, when a government gets elected, there is a tacit agreement that everyone will fund the policies it enacts regardless of their vote.

    • Mike Pompeo Destroys Jared Kushner’s ‘Deal of the Century’

      I can barely believe it. Mike Pompeo, who can believe 10 impossible things before breakfast every day, including the impending Rapture and Hilary Clinton’s responsibility for Benghazi, isn’t a complete Trumpbot after all.

      In private remarks to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that someone recorded and leaked to the Washington Post, Pompeo threw cold water on Jared Kushner’s still unrevealed “Deal of the Century.” There are things wrong with it, he admitted.

    • Mueller Talks and the Tyrant Walks

      Special counsel Mueller went before the cameras and in nine minutes essentially said his report was all he had to say and he wouldn’t go before Congress, even if subpoenaed, to say anything else.

    • Hawkish Trump White House Endangers our Collective Conscience

      The war drums in the White House have been beating louder in recent months. While Trump has shown himself willing to embrace bellicose rhetoric to further his political ambitions, until recently, it had been mostly all talk. However, the appointment of known war hawk John Bolton as national security adviser signaled a strong shift from mere rhetoric towards actual policy.

      It’s no secret that Bolton is pushing hard for a war with Iran—he has been advocating for intervention since 2002—but his current position of power in the Trump White House has significantly raised the stakes. The major concern, however, is not that this new policy—aggressive taunting and overt calls for war—is the status quo, but that it is seemingly being ignored by a large portion of the American population.

      Beneath a barrage of domestic issues and bickering on both sides of the aisle, the public seems to be less preoccupied with the prospect of war than they should be, which is itself a dangerous situation.

    • A Polar Bear, a Giant Penis, and This Message Greet Trump in UK: ‘Climate Change Is Real’

      Outlines of a giant human penis and a large polar bear were the iconographic symbols that accompanied the words, ‘Oi, Trump — Climate Change Is Real,’ in a message that was mowed into large fields near the Stansted airport in the United Kingdom with the hopes that the U.S. president would see it during his landing on Monday morning.

      With Trump’s arrival generating plans for massive street protests, the provocative greeting—similar to the giant ‘Baby Trump’ blimp which has become so popular in recent years—is additional evidence of how reviled and little-respected the president is among many in Britain.

    • A Reporter 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.

    • A Demagogue, Fascist, and Serious Threat: UK Mobilizes to Make Sure Trump Knows He ‘Is Not Welcome’

      Trump’s attack on Khan came after the London mayor—who granted permission for protestors to fly the Trump baby blimp during Tuesday’s mass demonstrations—accused the U.S. president of behaving like “the fascists of the 20th century to garner support” and said he would join the U.K. Labour Party in boycotting the state visit.

      “Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat,” Khan wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian on Saturday. “The far-right is on the rise around the world, threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than seventy years.

    • American History and the 2020 Election

      Whatever distractions candidates promote to win voters, some underlying issues will wield their influence on 2020 election outcomes in any case. The biggest of these are the historically accumulated anger and betrayal felt by millions of working class Americans. Since the 1970s, their relative position within income and wealth distributions has declined. Real wages stagnated while workers’ rising productivity made ever more profits for employers, widening inequality. That alone depressed the class, but US society is structured to add many political, cultural, and social demotions onto those whose relative economic position declines.

      As stagnant real wages constricted workers’ consumption growth, political supports (from government programs to politicians’ attentions) shrank. Shifting cultural norms (smart phones, fashionable bars, fancy sports arenas, etc.) entailed new costs that were increasingly unaffordable. Rising consumer debt (mortgages, car loans, and credit card balances) only partly offset the new costs. Yet that debt also raised new kinds and degrees of financial anxieties.

      A central social promise of post World War 2 America – that working class children could expect, prepare for and graduate from college – began to erode. Declining state support for higher education institutions forced more of their costs onto students just as working class families’ relative income and wealth positions fell. Student debt burdens exploded and stressed working class families from another direction. Debt-hobbled young people could not leave home, start new families, become self-reliant. Self-blame about that plus reliance on parents and fast-mounting debt anxieties further problematized working class households. Results included the opioid crisis, rising rates of suicide, mass shootings, and psychological depression.

      Working class feelings of betrayal and anger had an important historical roots that some understood but most only implicitly sensed. Something seemed to have changed in America, to have been different before. Trump’s caricature MAGA slogan touched a nerve even as it mystified what made that nerve so sensitive. Certain aspects of US history do matter deeply to the upcoming election.

      [...]

      Staying inside the Democratic Party is also dangerous for Sanders’ – or someone further left’s – chances. Running as a Democrat carries very negative associations for voters even if it benefits from what remains of the Party’s electoral machinery and from the hard core base that votes Democratic no matter what.

      Politics is changing fast in the US now. Lenin’s remark that for decades nothing seems to happen and then in a few months decades happen applies yet again. Socialism is being rediscovered and re-admired as Gallup and other polls show clearly. Given the US’s last half-century repression of teaching seriously about or even publicly expressing socialist ideas, debates, and programs, the rediscovery process is working quickly through the old left-Democratic Party ideas, the old left-Keynesian economics, etc. Newly excited young socialists are already testing and moving beyond those limits.

      Different ways of understanding and institutionalizing socialist movements will emerge soon as the initial celebration of “democratic socialism” matures into different socialist orientations. How the Democratic Party manages the 2020 election will not only show whether it understands the lessons of history. It will also influence the pace and details of the emerging new socialist left. Finally, because of that new socialist left’s size, momentum, and its support in the general population (especially among the young), what it becomes will importantly influence all the rest of US politics in ways not seen for the last half-century.

    • Why Joe Biden Was Afraid to Face California’s Democratic Party

      Joe Biden’s glaring absence from the California Democratic Party convention has thrown a national spotlight on his eagerness to detour around the party’s progressive base. While dodging an overt clash for now, Biden is on a collision course with grassroots Democrats across the country who are learning more about his actual record and don’t like it.

      Inside the statewide convention in San Francisco over the weekend, I spoke with hundreds of delegates about Biden while leafletting with information on his record. I was struck by the frequent intensity of distrust and even animosity; within seconds, after glancing at his name and photo at the top of the flyer, many delegates launched into some form of denunciation.

      I often heard delegates bring up shameful milestones in Biden’s political history—especially his opposition to busing for school desegregation, treatment of Anita Hill in the Clarence Thomas hearings, leading role in passage of the 1994 crime bill, career-long services to corporate elites, and powerful support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    • Why 2020 Is Starting to Feel Like 2004

      On March 15, 2003, Governor Howard Dean of Vermont, at the time a decidedly second-tier presidential candidate, took the stage at the convention of the California Democratic Party. The first thing he said, to a thunderous cheer, was this: “What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the president’s unilateral intervention in Iraq.” He then ran through a litany of his party’s failures to stand up to George W. Bush and the GOP, and finished with a rhetorical flourish that instantly made him a serious contender: “I’m Howard Dean, and I’m here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

      While Dean didn’t win the nomination, his candidacy shone a bright light on the way Democrats had become timid and fearful, always worrying that if they were too clear in their criticism of the war or the administration that the public would reject them. More important, he showed how disgusted so many in the rank-and-file were with the way their representatives had been acting, and what a hunger there was for a more forceful brand of opposition.

    • The SCOTUS Will Soon Decide if Republicans Can Cheat

      The Republican Party and rightwing groups have worked for years to solidify their hold on power at every level of government by cheating young people, minorities, and other likely Democratic voters out of their right to have their votes count.

      Very soon, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide on two cases that will determine whether the cheating can go on, or whether the government will enforce a more level playing field in the 2020 elections and beyond.

      One of these cases involves the Trump Administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

      We now know that the late Republican strategist Thomas B. Hofeller drafted Justice Department language claiming that the citizenship question would help protect minority voting rights at the same time as he authored a study showing the measure’s true intent was just the opposite: to suppress minority votes in a way “advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,” as Hofeller himself put it.

    • How Voter Suppression & Gerrymandering Cleared the Path for Unprecedented Abortion Bans

      As Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia attempt to outlaw abortions after six weeks, Missouri legislators approve an eight-week ban and Alabama passes a near total ban on abortions, we speak to journalist Ari Berman about how the widespread attack on abortion rights across the country is tied directly to voter suppression. He writes in a recent piece for Mother Jones, “These states have something else in common: a systematic effort to distort the democratic process through voter suppression and gerrymandering. These tactics have greased the way for near-total bans on abortion and for other extreme right-wing policies.”

    • The Supreme Court’s Harrowing New Lurch Right

      If you are looking for confirmation that the Supreme Court is moving ever further to the right, you don’t have to wait for its decisions in a pair of pivotal cases concerning partisan gerrymandering and the census.

      Those cases—which deal, respectively, with the constitutionality of carving up voting districts to advantage the party in power and the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census to give even greater political clout to red states—are the most closely watched of the current session. When they are resolved this month, they will clarify a great deal about the long-term future of the court’s five-member conservative majority that now includes Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

      In the meantime, two under-the-radar decisions that the court has already handed down—Bucklew v. Precthye on the death penalty, and Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt on the esoteric doctrine of “sovereign immunity”—signal where the court is likely headed.

      Decided on April 1 along party lines, the 5-4 majority opinion in Bucklew was written by Gorsuch, who constructs his argument along the principle of “originalism”—a legal theory that threatens to reverse decades of liberal court rulings in areas well beyond capital punishment.

    • More Suing Over Gerrymandered Maps, But the Supreme Court Not Likely to Step In

      Partisan gerrymandering is when a congressional or state legislative district map is drawn in a way the severely lessens the ability of one party, the minority party, to compete for seats in an election.

      The public is more aware of partisan gerrymandering than ever — and less supportive of it.

      Reform is happening. In 2018, five states reformed their redistricting processes to reduce partisan gerrymandering. There is the potential for redistricting reform in another seven states before the 2021 redistricting process begins.

      A handful of states may even need to redraw their congressional district maps for 2020, if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the lower courts’ decisions that certain redistricting processes produced extreme partisan gerrymanders.

      As a scholar of state politics, I believe that the public should understand how state governments influence citizens’ representation in Congress through redistricting and other voting and election laws.

      The Supreme Court decision due in June will determine exactly how much autonomy states have to make the rules for voting and elections.

    • Chomsky and Herman’s Propaganda Model Foretells a Weaponized Facebook

      The personal is now public. Consider Facebook. As the global leader in platforming interpersonal interactions with public discourse across boundaries, Facebook enjoys a virtual monopoly in reflecting power.

      Facebook’s massive global reach gives the platform immense influence to shape public perception, awareness and opinion. Notably, one of the platform’s creators, Chamath Palihapitiya, did admit that the team “knew something bad could happen,” having “created tools that are literally ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.” Still, public awareness of this subterfuge has changed nothing.

      The relevance of mediated social reality to everyday life has, for much of the industrialized world, never been as pronounced. Information technology and social media exist within political-economic contexts wherein ideas and information are routinely commodified for marketplaces. In 2001, researcher and author Edwin Black meticulously laid out the case of how publicly traded companies can (literally and figuratively) make a killing out of acquiring and managing private information for use in particular markets.

      Along with altruistic pretenses like its claims to respect the commons and connect the social world, Facebook also sells user data to advertisers and other institutions intent on managing public perception while simultaneously using personal data for private profit.

      The social is also now commodified. Facebook is strictly oriented around total profit in the commodification of user data. In fact, The New York Times detailed how Facebook has allowed its big tech partners to breach privacy rules to gather user data.

      Moreover, the very nature of corporatized social media makes users into active market actors, products to be sold. As professor and media theorist Robert McChesney points out in a C-SPAN interview, “Everything we do online is known by commercial vendors and the government to the extent it wants to know. We have no privacy at all.”

    • #NoMiddleGround Goes Viral as Sanders Backers Say Democrats Can’t Afford to Compromise on Medicare for All, Reproductive Rights, and Bold Climate Agenda

      Inspired by Sen. Bernie Sanders’s speech at the California Democratic Convention in California—in which the 2020 contender took a thinly veiled shot at fellow White House hopeful Joe Biden’s centrist policy approach—progressives made the Twitter hashtag #NoMiddleGround go viral on Sunday in an effort to make clear that there can be no compromises when it comes to confronting the global climate crisis, providing healthcare to all as a right, and battling inequality.

      “We have got to make it clear that when the future of the planet is at stake, there is no ‘middle ground,’” Sanders said, in a clear reference to Biden’s reported middle-of-the-road climate agenda. “We will take on the fossil fuel industry and transform our energy system.”

      “When it comes to healthcare, there is no middle ground,” Sanders continued. “When it comes to abortion, there is no middle ground. When it comes to mass shootings and the fact that 40,000 people were killed last year with guns, no middle ground.”

    • Donald Trump’s Zany British Vacation: How Badly Will He Screw This One Up?

      Almost from the beginning of his term, President Trump has been excitedly anticipating a fancy state visit to the United Kingdom. Unlike recent presidents Obama and Bush, who didn’t want to strain the security services, he particularly wanted to ride with Queen Elizabeth in the golden coach, as royal brides and heads of state do on such grand occasions. Normally, such visits happen early in a president’s term. Trump’s was postponed for a variety of reasons and he had to settle for that horrific short visit last summer during which he insulted Prime Minister Theresa May, yelled at the press, kept the Queen waiting for 15 minutes and then practically tripped the 92-year-old monarch while they were reviewing the troops.

      That trip was around the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice. I’m sure you will recall Trump’s petulant behavior in France where he refused to go outside in the rain and basically snarled his way through the ceremonies, with no apparent feeling for the event at all. This big state visit to England is timed for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, about which I’m sure he is equally clueless. But he will love all the pomp and circumstance. It’s his favorite part of being president. And he’s bringing the whole Trump crew — Jared and Ivanka, along with Tiffany, Eric and Don Jr., are reportedly tagging along.

    • We’re Flying the Trump Baby Blimp Again—Because the US President Doesn’t Deserve Our Respect

      Tomorrow, as Donald Trump proceeds with his state visit, I’ll be part of a team of people babysitting our Trump Baby blimp as he soars through the skies of London.

      Last year Trump Baby joined 250,000 people on the streets of London with a further 150,000 people around the UK to protest his visit. Upon seeing the balloon, Trump said “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London”. That’s exactly the point.

    • Report Shows How Koch Brothers Bankroll ‘Fox News of the Regulatory Policy World’ to Help Push Polluter-Friendly Agenda

      Providing yet another example of how the billionaire Koch brothers use their immense wealth to influence university research and spread their corporate-friendly ideology, a report released Monday detailed how George Washington University’s ostensibly neutral Regulatory Studies Center is in fact a “key cog” in the Koch family’s fight to slash government regulations designed to protect workers and the planet.

    • Iraq Combat Veteran: Pardon of War Criminals Sends Disturbing Message to U.S. Military, World

      President Trump is considering pardoning American military members convicted of war crimes. One of the requests for a pardon is reportedly for Navy SEALs Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, who is facing charges of shooting unarmed civilians and killing a wounded captive teenage fighter by stabbing him with a knife and then staging a re-enlistment ceremony over the dead teen’s body. On Thursday, a military judge in San Diego ordered Gallagher free from custody, citing prosecutorial misconduct in his murder trial for war crimes. The court has yet to rule on whether to remove prosecutors or to throw out the case entirely. One of the attorneys for Gallagher also represents the Trump Organization. Republican Congressmember Duncan Hunter, one of Gallagher’s most vocal supporters, recently admitted in a podcast to killing hundreds of civilians while serving in the U.S. military during his deployment to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004. This comes as Trump may also consider a pardon request for Blackwater contractor Nicholas Slatten, who was twice found guilty of first-degree murder in the deadly 2007 Nisoor Square massacre in Baghdad, which killed 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians. We speak with Waitman Wade Beorn, a combat veteran of Iraq and a Holocaust and genocide studies historian. In a May 9, 2019, opinion column in The Washington Post, headlined “”I led a platoon in Iraq. Trump is wrong to pardon war criminals.”

    • Pompeo Admits Kushner Peace Plan Likely Unworkable as Trump’s Son-in-Law Openly Dehumanizes Palestinian People

      Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted that the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan could be seen as “unexecutable” while Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, suggested that Palestinians aren’t capable of governing themselves.

      Kushner, who’s in charge of the administration’s supposed peace plan, made the comments in an interview that aired Sunday on “Axios on HBO.” He told interviewer Jonathan Swan that there is a “high bar” for Palestinians to be rid of Israeli interference.

      Kushner said that before Palestinians can be seen worthy of investors’ money, they “need to have a fair judicial system … freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions.”

      Asked if Palestinians were capable of governing themselves without Israeli interference, Kushner said: “That’s a very good question. That’s one that we’ll have to see. The hope is that they, over time, will become capable of governing.”

    • Facing U.S. ambassador boycott, Kremlin says it would like to see arrested American investor Michael Calvey at St. Petersburg Economic Forum

      Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov expressed restrained sympathy on behalf of the Kremlin for U.S. investor Michael Calvey’s bid to attend the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Calvey, who has denied the fraud charges against him, is currently under house arrest.

    • This May Feel Like the 1930s, But History Doesn’t Have to Repeat Itself

      In the 1930s, capitalism needed a ‘Plan B’. Faced with mass disaffection after the financial crash of 1929, and a growing communist movement which threatened to nationalise property and expropriate profits, capital faced an unprecedented, existential crisis.

      Fascism provided the escape route. Sure, some of the individual ‘strongmen’ of fascism might be crude, distasteful and erratic. But on the positive side, many leaders of finance and industry reasoned, at least they carried with them the power to crush resistance and put the state at the service of their economic interests.

      Today, history is repeating itself. Of course, we don’t have a left-wing movement on the verge of taking power across the developed world. But capitalism is nonetheless threatened as it hasn’t been for 80 years, brought to its knees by its own logic. The burning of the planet to make ever greater short-term profits cannot continue without catastrophic consequences, which most people will not tolerate. Even the very mild steps that have been taken to address climate change are bad news for profit-seekers.

    • Enough. Wake Up, Sheeple!

      George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “We are more gullible and superstitious today than we were in the Middle Ages, and an example of modern credulity is the widespread belief that the Earth is round. The average man can advance not a single reason for thinking that the Earth is round. He merely swallows this theory because there is something about it that appeals to the twentieth century mentality.”

      But one would think that Shaw, a deliberate controversialist who went on many sea voyages, might have reconsidered his witticism about the shape of the Earth merely by observing how ships sailing away toward the horizon gradually seem to disappear from the waterline up.

      Yet there is a sense Shaw undoubtedly never intended in which he might have been right. The credulity and superstition of the Middle Ages existed because science was primitive to the point of nonexistence, and there were no means for the mass diffusion of knowledge. That said, the peasant was likely to be an expert empiricist in his own work—knowing when to sow and when to harvest, how to smoke a ham, which herbs were beneficial and which ones would kill him. Not knowing these things meant death. Philosophical speculation he left to the parish priest.

      Today, with terrabytes of knowledge at our fingertips, huge numbers of people are plunged, not just in ignorance—the mere absence of knowledge—but in a confident and militant anti-knowledge. As the American humorist Josh Billings put it, “The trouble with people is not that they don’t know, but that they know so much that ain’t so.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Tiananmen Book Seller’s Fight Shows China’s Sway Over Hong Kong

      To see just how much China’s grip is strengthening over Hong Kong, try publishing a book about the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

    • Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Museum Takes on China’s Censorship Machine

      In 2016, it was forced to close in its previous location after a fallout with the building’s owners. The museum’s founders are betting that a brick-and-mortar monument will be harder to censor than history books and websites obstructed by what’s known as China’s Great Firewall, which can block online discourse and scrub sensitive historic events.

      The ruling Communist Party forbids commemoration of Tiananmen on the mainland. In the run-up to Tuesday’s 30th anniversary, the government has removed social media posts on Weibo and WeChat about the events and blocked Wikipedia.

    • How Tiananmen Square Cemented China’s Obsession With Control

      The engine of the change, and ultimately of much of the criticism it faces from the U.S. today, was China’s economic ascent, which allowed it not only to muzzle criticism from countries that relied on its trade, but also to gain the confidence to champion its system. This year China surpassed Japan as the United Nations’ second-biggest donor and Beijing has begun using its growing clout to undermine criticism of its human rights record, sponsor resolutions that reflect its world view and curb opposition to its policies at home.

      China’s law-enforcement agencies spend billions on facial-recognition technologies and big-data platforms to monitor citizens, especially in sensitive regions like Xinjiang and Tibet. The result is a boom for domestic companies and government agencies involved in security equipment and services, fostering artificial intelligence start-ups such as SenseTime, Yitu and Megvii.

    • Twitter takes down ‘a large number’ of Chinese-language accounts ahead of Tiananmen Square anniversary

      Twitter has suspended a large number of Chinese-language user accounts, including those belonging to critics of China’s government. It seems like a particularly ill-timed move, occurring just days before thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4.

      “A large number of Chinese @Twitter accounts are being suspended today,” wrote Yaxue Cao, founder and editor of the U.S.-based publication China Change. “They ‘happen’ to be accounts critical of China, both inside and outside China.”

      Cao then went on to highlight a number of the suspended accounts in a Twitter thread.

    • Shallow Fakes: Why Facebook Was Right Not To Delete The Doctored Video Of Nancy Pelosi

      We live in a Manichean political world where every person and institution is said to be either good or evil. Facebook used to be in the good column; since November 2016, they are listed among the evil ones, oddly by both left and right. The truth: Facebook is a tremendously successful and innovative business that nevertheless makes mistakes. But beyond making its users happy, Facebook also does good. By defending free speech, for example, at a difficult time.

      The case may be familiar to you. (The fact that the case is likely familiar to you is important as we shall see). Recently someone created a distorted video of House leader Nancy Pelosi. Many thought the distortions suggested Pelosi was drunk. She was not. The video warped her image for political purposes (or perhaps, just for fun). More bluntly, the speech in question – the edited video – was a lie.

      The question is not whether political speakers lie. They do and always have. Of course, everyone believes their team upholds truth while the other team lies. As Morrisey sang, “Everyone lies, nobody minds.” Well, everyone minds the other team’s lies and somehow ignores their own.

      Political speech comprises lies, truth, and much uncertainty. Who should decide which speech falls into which category? Not the elected officials and unelected bureaucrats we call “the government.” The First Amendment and the courts preclude the government from determining truth (and lies). Elected officials want to be popular and win re-election; speech critical of them works against attaining those goals. Elected officials tend to see such criticism as “lies.” I would if I were an elected official. So would you. The incentives are terrible. Censorship would be a natural response. Hence we have a First Amendment, an unnatural state-of-affairs undergirded in the United States by fifty years of tradition, that is, of judicial doctrine.

      So who separates truth and lies (and the in-between) in our unnatural state of free speech? Listeners, citizens, and voters. That’s our democratic faith, or our liberal faith, or whatever you want to call it. It’s a real source of national pride, our unnatural state of speaking freely. It’s a foundation of any American nationalism worth honoring.

    • Twitter And Liz Mair Explain Why Devin Nunes’ Lawsuit Doesn’t Belong In Virginia

      As you’ll recall, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Snowflake) has sued some online critics and Twitter. While most of the attention has been focused on the satirical “Devin Nunes Cow” Twitter account named in the first lawsuit, he also sued political consultant Liz Mair. The fact that he sued Mair in two separate lawsuits suggested a bit part of his intent with these lawsuits was to stifle her free speech.

      Last month, both Mair and Twitter filed to have the lawsuit dismissed (it’s not clear if the Cow has filed anything, and because it’s in a state court, it’s a pain in the ass to get those records). Both filings are worth reading, though both focus on pretty basic procedural arguments for why the case should be tossed. As we noted when the cases were first filed, it seemed fairly obvious that Nunes chose to file them in Virginia state court, rather than California (where he’s from and where Twitter is based) to avoid California’s strong anti-SLAPP law that would likely leave him on the hook for the defendants’ legal fees. Virginia, in contrast, has a terrible anti-SLAPP law, which is missing nearly all of the important procedural elements of a good anti-SLAPP law to protect defendants from being bled dry through legal process.

    • Iowa Man Sues Over Charge Stemming From Facebook Post

      Jon Richard Goldsmith, 50, of Red Oak, was charged with third-degree harassment in response to a profanity-laced Facebook post that excoriated what Goldsmith considered to be police misconduct by Adams County Deputy Sheriff Cory Dorsey during a traffic stop he witnessed in Corning on July 27, 2018.

      The charge was subsequently dismissed in state court, but Goldsmith claims in his lawsuit filed Tuesday in Des Moines federal court that besides violating his constitutional rights under the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments, the criminal charge caused him distress, including a spike in blood pressure that required medical treatment.

      Goldsmith’s complaint was filed by Des Moines attorney Glen S. Downey and Rita Bettis Austen, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa. The complaint names as defendants Adams County, Dorsey and Adams County Sergeant Paul Hogan.

    • Sheriff’s Deputy Sued After Arresting Man For Criticizing Him On Facebook

      A good way to get yourself sued if you’re a law enforcement officer is to treat a heated Facebook post like it’s an actual crime. Law enforcement officers remain the most delicate of snowflakes, unable to let a citizens blow off verbal steam without effecting arrests for contempt of cop. This case involves digital contempt, but it was treated as though the plaintiff was up right in the deputy’s face and screaming.

      Plaintiff Jon Goldsmith was attending an outdoor festival in Corning, Iowa when he saw deputies pull over Ed Avila for a supposedly faulty brake light. This turned out to be pretextual stop, as stops for minor traffic violations often are. This is from Goldsmith’s lawsuit [PDF], filed with the assistance of the ACLU of Iowa. (I will preserve the misspelling of brake light which, unfortunately, is found throughout the lawsuit.)

    • YouTuber Who Gave Tootpaste-Filled Oreo To Beggar Banned For 5 Years

      Two years ago, YouTuber ReSet became more famous (or rather infamous) when he gave a beggar toothpaste-filled Oreo cookies and created controversy around him. The YouTuber has now been banned from using the Google-owned video platform for five years.

      According to a report by El Pais, Kanghua R. (now 21) has also been sentenced to 15 months in jail along with a fine of €20,000, serving as punishment for his crime against ‘moral integrity.’

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The Hypocrisy of William Barr’s Spying Claims

      Discussing the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation, Attorney General William Barr recently claimed that “Government power was used to spy on American citizens.” He went on to say, “I can’t imagine any world where we wouldn’t take a look and make sure that was done properly.”

      As some were quick to point out, the comments were rich coming from an architect of our government’s modern spying apparatus: As attorney general during the George H.W. Bush administration, Barr played a key role in developing a secret program that served as the blueprint for the NSA’s mass surveillance of Americans’ phone records.

      But the hypocrisy of Barr’s comments goes well beyond his past. On Thursday, lawyers from Barr’s Justice Department tried to block a federal court from taking a look at the government’s surveillance of Americans.

      The case—brought by the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, one of the world’s most-visited websites—challenges the constitutionality of the U.S. government’s warrantless spying on Americans’ international internet communications, known as “Upstream” surveillance. (The American Civil Liberties Union, Knight First Amendment Institute, and Cooley LLP are representing Wikimedia in this challenge.)

      With the help of companies like AT&T and Verizon, the National Security Agency conducts surveillance on U.S. soil by tapping directly into the internet’s backbone—the physical infrastructure that carries our emails, photos, personal chats, and web browsing. The agency then copies and searches a vast pool of internet communications flowing into and out of the United States. It does all of this without a warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

      Wikimedia’s case could mark the first time a public court weighs in on the constitutionality of this decade-old spying operation. But in stark contrast to Barr’s public expressions of concern over the privacy of Americans, his Justice Department has thrown up a series of litigation roadblocks in an effort to prevent the court from ruling on the legality of this surveillance dragnet.


    • Russia Demands Tinder Give User Data to Secret Services

      Russia is requiring dating app Tinder to hand over data on its users — including messages — to the national intelligence agencies, part of the country’s widening crackdown on internet freedoms.

      The communications regulator said Monday that Tinder was included on a list of online services operating in Russia that are required to provide user data on demand to Russian authorities, including the FSB security agency.

      Tinder, an app where people looking for dates swipe left or right on the profiles of other users to reject or accept them, will have to cooperate with Russian authorities or face being completely blocked in the country. The rule would apply to any user’s data that goes through Russian servers, including messages to other people on the app.

      Tinder, which is based in West Hollywood, California, said Monday that it has registered to be compliant with Russian authorities but added that it has “not handed over any data to their government.” But the company did not say whether it plans to do so in the future.

      Russia adopted a flurry of legislation in recent years tightening control over online activity. Among other things, internet companies are required to store six months’ worth of user data and be ready to hand them over to authorities.

      Russian authorities last year issued an order to ban messaging app Telegram after it refused to hand over user data. Some top Russian officials, including the FSB chief, attacked Telegram, claiming “extremists” used the platform to plot terrorist attacks.

    • Research Shows Publishers Benefit Little From Tracking Ads

      Advertising industry lobbyists have long argued that tracking users is necessary to power a publishing industry that makes its content available to users for “free”— despite a heavy privacy cost. Right now, a majority of publishers make money by working with advertisers that collect personal information about users as they move from site to site. Ad companies then combine that information with additional data bought from other sources, such as data brokers, to create detailed profiles they claim are necessary to tailor effective ads to an individual’s interests.

      But new research, based on publisher data, has found that using this invasive tracking technique brings publishers just 4% more in revenue — or just $.00008 per ad — than ads based on context (for example, ads for sporting goods placed next to the sports scores).

      New research, based on publisher data, has found that using this invasive tracking technique brings publishers just 4% more in revenue— or just $.00008 per ad—than ads based on context

    • German Officials Think German Citizens Need Less Security, More Encryption Backdoors

      There’s another player on the world’s anti-encryption stage. Some German government officials apparently feel it’s OK for people to have encryption, but not secure encryption. The German government is exploring the idea of asking forcing tech companies to backdoor their encrypted communications platforms, presumably for the greater good of insecure humanity.

    • “Spying”: Comey Doth Protest Too Much

      “We didn’t ‘spy’ on anyone’s campaign,” writes former FBI director James Comey in a recent Washington Post op-ed.

      “We asked a federal judge for permission to surveil” former Donald Trump campaign adviser Carter Page,” but that’s not “spying.”

      Before that (unmentioned in the op-ed), we infiltrated an informant into the campaign to gather information on its operations, but that’s not “spying.”

      What a strange allergic reaction from Comey, and others associated with US intelligence and counterintelligence operations, to US Attorney General William Barr’s simple statement before the US Senate: “Spying on a campaign is a big deal … I think spying did occur. The question is whether it was adequately predicated.”

      Comey insists that the spying was indeed “adequately predicated,” and that for some reason this makes it not spying.

      It was spying.

    • US demands social media details from visa applicants

      Previously, only applicants who needed additional vetting – such as people who had been to parts of the world controlled by terrorist groups – would need to hand over this data.

      But now applicants will have to give up their account names on a list of social media platforms, and also volunteer the details of their accounts on any sites not listed.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Caught in the Net: The Impact of ‘Extremist’ Speech Regulations on Human Rights Content

      New Report from EFF, Syrian Archive, and WITNESS Examine Content Moderation and the Christchurch Call to Action
      San Francisco – Social media companies have long struggled with what to do about extremist content that advocates for or celebrates terrorism and violence. But the dominant current approach, which features overbroad and vague policies and practices for removing content, is already decimating human rights content online, according to a new report from Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Syrian Archive, and WITNESS. The report confirms that the reality of faulty content moderation must be addressed in ongoing efforts to address extremist content.

      The pressure on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to moderate extremist content only increased after the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand earlier this year. In the wake of the Christchurch Call to Action Summit held last month, EFF teamed up with Syrian Archive and WITNESS to show how faulty moderation inadvertently captures and censors vital content, including activism, counter-speech, satire, and even evidence of war crimes.

      “It’s hard to tell criticism of extremism from extremism itself when you are moderating thousands of pieces of content a day,” said EFF Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian York. “Automated tools often make everything worse, since context is critical when making these decisions. Marginalized people speaking out on tricky political and human rights issues are too often the ones who are silenced.”

    • The Impact of “Extremist” Speech Regulations on Human Rights Content

      Today, EFF is publishing a new white paper, “Caught in the Net: The Impact of ‘Extremist’ Speech Regulations on Human Rights Content.” The paper is a joint effort of EFF, Syrian Archive, and Witness and was written in response to the Christchurch Call to Action. This paper analyzes the impact of platform rules and content moderation practices related to “extremist” speech on human rights defenders.

    • Russian cleric receives government anti-extremism award for leading attacks against stagings of Wagner’s ‘Tannhäuser’

      Alexander Novopashin, the abbot of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Novosibirsk, has received an award “for counteracting extremism.” The head of Russia’s federal Anti-Extremism Center (Center E) personally gave Novopashin the award at a ceremony in Novorossiysk.

    • Connecticut Set to Become 7th State With Family Leave Law as US Still Lags Behind Rest of Developed World’s Policies

      Connecticut’s Democratic governor is poised to sign the nation’s most generous paid family and medical leave bill into law as pressure on policymakers builds to prioritize paid leave as a labor issue.

      Following a six-year campaign by women’s and workers’ rights advocacy groups in Connecticut, the state House passed a bill last Friday guaranteeing 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents and workers who need to take time off to attend to family members’ or their own health.

      Advocates applauded state lawmakers and Gov. Ned Lamont, who says he plans to sign the bill, but noted that Connecticut’s step forward highlights how far behind the U.S. is compared to family leave laws in other developed countries.

      “Paid leave is a critical step forward for women’s economic security, especially for low-wage workers and women of color who are an increasing number of primary breadwinners for their families,” Catherine Bailey of the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund told the Connecticut Mirror. “We are proud to join the rest of the world and become just the seventh state in the U.S. to create a system of paid leave.”

    • Disappearances and Murders of Indigenous Women and Girls Amount to ‘Canadian Genocide,’ National Inquiry Finds

      The Canadian government’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls concluded in a final report published Monday that “this violence amounts to a race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples.”

      The Indigenous Peoples referred to in the report include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis—with a specific focus on women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, which stands for Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual.

      The report—entitled Reclaiming Power and Place—was unveiled at a Monday morning ceremony at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec, but several news agencies published details from a leaked copy over the weekend. The inquiry also released a supplementary report (pdf) about the province of Quebec.

    • #MeToo in Indian Country: “We Don’t Talk About This Enough”

      Sexual harassment in Indian Country is an inconvenient and deeply uncomfortable truth.

      Most media coverage of sexual violence and harassment focuses on the high rates of non-Native perpetrators and Native victims. While important, these articles fail to reveal the equally troubling stories about Native perpetrators who target Native victims.

      Framing Native peoples as victims and focusing on the fact that Native women are 2.5 times more likely than any other ethnicity in America to be sexually assaulted is a common thread in legacy media. The broader story, however, is decidedly messy and deeply human; 30-35 percent of perpetrators in sexual assaults against Native women are Native men.

      Indian Country Today spent the past nine months investigating sexual harassment issues. In the process of reporting, we learned about the lack of accountability, and procedures for reporting harassment in tribal, nonprofit and federal government agencies. We also found high rates of unreported incidents, negative consequences for victims and a culture of protecting perpetrators.

      This investigation has been a time of furtive, late-night phone calls from a vast cross section of women. Some are well-educated and lauded both in and outside of Indian Country; some are ordinary, hard working women laboring in obscurity. The alleged perpetrators are similar in their diversity. Some are employed at the highest levels of tribal and government leadership; some work in more prosaic jobs. They all, however, share attitudes of entitlement and impunity from the consequences for their behaviors.

    • After media executive accused of sexual assault wins defamation lawsuit, Russian social media users unleash mocking hashtag campaign

      On May 30, Vladivostok journalist Yekaterina Fedorova and her attorneys announced that a court had found against her in a defamation lawsuit brought by Alexey Migunov, the co-founder of the PrimaMedia conglomerate. In January of 2019, Fedorova publicly accused Migunov of beating, biting, and raping her in her apartment. Following public backlash that led Migunov to take a temporary leave of absence, the media executive sued Fedorova for the “protection of [his] honor and dignity” and denied her accusations. Court documents quoted by Fedorova, her attorneys, and her supporters on Facebook indicated that a judge sided with Migunov, reasoning that “The subjective opinion of E.A. Fedorova about the alleged rape was expressed in a negative manner that went beyond the acceptable bounds of her right to express her opinions and beliefs freely.”

    • San Francisco Joins National Push to Abolish Youth Prisons

      It’s happening in Minneapolis. New Jersey. Arkansas. Upstate New York. Durango, Colorado. One by one, juvenile prisons are closing, or are slated to close, in response to child abuse reports, sustained pressure from activists and a halving of national juvenile confinement rates since 2002.

      San Francisco is on the verge of joining the national trend, following decades of organizing led by Black and Brown activists, and a San Francisco Chronicle report that documented stable spending on its juvenile prison, despite a 50 percent decrease in its population since 2011.

      On May 16, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted eight to three — a veto-proof majority — to advance legislation that would close the city’s youth prison (“Juvenile Hall”) by 2021. A sponsor of the bill, Shamann Walton, who spent time in Juvenile Hall when he was a child, aims to close youth prisons altogether. Some on the board have framed their arguments in economic terms. Bill co-sponsor Hillary Ronen told a local CBS station that, in regard to the prison, the city was spending an enormous amount of money on an “ineffective system.”

      A legislative committee will hear the full proposal on June 4. If it passes, Juvenile Hall, open since 1950, will shut its doors.

    • Lawyers Deem European Union Migrant Policy a Crime Against Humanity

      More than 40,000 people have been intercepted in the Mediterranean and taken to detention camps and torture houses under a European migration policy that is responsible for crimes against humanity, according to a legal document asking the International Criminal Court to take the case Monday.

      The request filed with the ICC alleges that European Union officials are knowingly responsible for deaths of migrants at land and sea, and their widespread rape and torture at the hands of a Libyan coast guard funded and trained at the expense of European taxpayers. It names no EU official but cites an ongoing ICC investigation into the fate of migrants in Libya.

      Officials with the European Commission, Germany and Spain defended EU policy and efforts to help migrants in Libya. France dismissed the accusations as “senseless” and lacking “any legal foundations.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Broadband Report: What Broadband Competition Problem?

      By law, the FCC is required once a year to issue a report indicating whether quality broadband is being deployed on a “reasonable and timely basis.” If not, the agency is supposed to, you know, actually do something about it. Unsurprisingly, the Pai FCC last year issued a glowing report declaring that everything was going swimmingly, despite some glaring evidence to the contrary. After all, the nation’s phone companies have effectively stopped upgrading their DSL lines, leaving cable giants like Comcast with a quietly growing monopoly over faster broadband speeds (no, 5G won’t magically fix this).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Tanzanian farmers are facing heavy prison sentences if they continue their traditional seed exchange

      n order to get developmental assistance, Tanzania amended its legislation, which should give commercial investors faster and better access to agricultural land as well as a very strong protection of intellectual property rights.

      ‘If you buy seeds from Syngenta or Monsanto under the new legislation, they will retain the intellectual property rights. If you save seeds from your first harvest, you can use them only on your own piece of land for non-commercial purposes. You’re not allowed to share them with your neighbors or with your sister-in-law in a different village, and you cannot sell them for sure. But that’s the entire foundation of the seed system in Africa’, says Michael Farrelly.

      Under the new law, Tanzanian farmers risk a prison sentence of at least 12 years or a fine of over €205,300, or both, if they sell seeds that are not certified.

    • Qualcomm Used Patent Monopolies To Shake Down The Entire Mobile Phone Industry For Decades

      Just a few weeks ago, Qualcomm and Apple settled a massive patent dispute on the eve of a trial. In the run-up to the settlement, Apple had made a really compelling case that Qualcomm’s practices involve blatant abuse of its patents to jack up prices to insane levels and to limit any real competition. Just recently we wrote about how media-tracking giant Nielsen was abusing patents for anticompetitive purposes, but they looked like blatant amateurs compared to Qualcomm. As we noted in that post, our founding fathers worried quite a bit about the impact of patent monopolies and how they would stifle innovation and competition.

    • Amazon enforcement action forces ink cartridge sellers to close

      Patent-trolling techniques deployed by printer manufacturing giant Epson have escalated in severity this week with small ink cartridge resellers being informed that due to excessive numbers of takedown notices, their Amazon marketplace accounts have been indefinitely suspended. Resultant loss of sales is expected to lead to business closures.

    • Copyrights

      • Will Marvel Studios face copyright infringement claim for using Ghanaian kente designs in the Black Panther movie?

        The protection of what has been termed as “traditional cultural expressions” (TCEs) and “traditional knowledge” (TK) within the realm of IP has always generated debate around suitability and enforcement thereof. The World Intellectual Property Organisation, the World Trade Organisation and other international organisations have continued to discuss a suitable international regime for the recognition and/or protection of TCEs and TK. African countries with their share of cultural heritage and cultural production “perceived” as falling within the definition of TCEs and TKs have come up with national regimes to recognise and/or protect TCEs and TKs. Such national recognition has either taken the form of sui generis protection (for instance, Kenya’s Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions Act, 2016 discussed on the IPKat) or recognition within formal IP realms (for instance, Ghana’s Copyright Act 2005). Recently, Ghana has beamed its legal searchlight on the use of its traditional kente designs in movies.

        [...]

        It appears the foregoing provisions inspired the Board’s thoughts. However, it is important to ask the question of who made or wove the kente designs used in the Black Panther movie. This is because section 76 (Interpretation) of the Copyright Act defines “folklore” as follows:

        “…the literary, artistic and scientific expressions belonging to the cultural heritage of Ghana which are created, preserved and developed by ethnic communities of Ghana or by an unidentified Ghanaian author, and includes kente and adinkra designs, where the author of the designs are not known, and any similar work designated under this Act to be works of folklore (emphasis mine).

        If the author of the kente designs in the Black Panther movie is known, it seems the use of the kente designs will not be covered by the definition of folklore and by extension would not be within the control/ownership of the President of Ghana and/or the Board. My prediction is that either the “legal dossier” informs a tactical withdrawal or this will be settled at the negotiating table, following the pattern of other attempts to situate TCEs with the realms of the formal IP regime, which is a shame because there has to be a better outcome in finding TCEs and TKs a home! Whatever happens, it will be good for the Board to make the “legal dossier” publicly available. That will aid the cause of TCEs and TKs.

      • Apple has cleared out its Facebook and Instagram pages for iTunes

        MacRumors notes that Apple appears to have migrated its iTunes accounts over to their Apple TV counterparts on Facebook and Instagram. Its Twitter account remains untouched for now.

      • Veteran Pirate With Millions of Downloads Says “Sharing is Caring”

        A veteran uploader of cracked software to sites like The Pirate Bay and 1337x says that nine years of uploads have resulted in millions of downloads. ‘Thumper’ began on TPB in April 2010, later achieving ‘Trusted Uploader” status. The motivation? “Sharing is Caring,” she insists.

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