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06.07.19

Links 7/6/2019: IceWM 1.5.5, IBM Layoffs, Kdenlive 19.04.2

Posted in News Roundup at 5:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • RHEL 7.7 Beta Comes With MDS/Zombieload Mitigations

      Arriving yesterday coincidentally on the Phoronix 15th birthday was the beta release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7

      While Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 has been under GA since early May, RHEL 7.7 is the latest continuation of RHEL7 as part of their ten-year lifecycle. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7 release will also mark the end of the “full support phase” for the RHEL7 lifecycle.

    • IBM is laying off more than 1,000 employees

      IBM confirmed on Thursday that it’s laying off a small percentage of employees, confirming reports that appeared earlier in the day on TheLayoff, an online message board.

      A person familiar with the matter said the cuts affect about one half of one percent of employees. IBM has more than 340,000 employees, according to its last proxy statement, which means the cuts would affect around 1,700 employees.

      “We are continuing to reposition our team to align with our focus on the high-value segments of the IT market, and we also continue to hire aggressively in critical new areas that deliver value for our clients and IBM,” a company spokesperson told CNBC in an email. The company’s jobs page lists 7,705 openings.

      The trim comes as IBM seeks to evolve its business through a major acquisition and meet its goal of growing profits.

      IBM shares are up 16% since the beginning of 2019. In April the company reported first-quarter revenue that was down 5% year over year and below analysts’ expectations.

      IBM is in the midst of a plan to acquire open-source software giant Red Hat for $34 billion. The deal is set to close in the second half of this year.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • LHS Episode #288: The Weekender XXIX

      It’s time once again for The Weekender. This is our bi-weekly departure into the world of amateur radio contests, open source conventions, special events, listener challenges, hedonism and just plain fun. Thanks for listening and, if you happen to get a chance, feel free to call us or e-mail and send us some feedback. Tell us how we’re doing. We’d love to hear from you.

    • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S12E09 – Great Giana Sisters

      This week we’ve been cabling and tinkering with RGB on Razer keyboards and mice. We discuss a new application for visually impaired users called Magnus, updates from Ubuntu MATE and LibreOffice plus a round up of news from elsewhere in the open source and tech world.

      It’s Season 12 Episode 09 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux’s Broadening Foundation

      First, 5G is real. Or it will be. The build-out is happening, right now, in real time, all over the place. I also doubt it’s a bubble. But we’ll see.

      Second, open source will enable it all. While Linux will support pretty much all of 5G’s build-out at the base level, most open-source development within 5G networks is happening at layers above Linux and below usage by you and me.

      Third, it’s all happening below mainstream media radar. Stories need character and conflict, and very little of either shows through all the acronymic camouflage. But I’m holding our own radar gun here, and what I see is beyond huge. I can’t count the number of open-source projects in those layers, or how many developers are involved within each of them, but I at least can see that their number and variety are legion.

    • Akraino Edge Stack Issues Premier Release, Sets Framework to Enable 5G, IoT Edge Application Ecosystem

      LF Edge, an umbrella organization within the Linux Foundation that aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system, today announced the availability of Akraino Edge Stack Release 1 (“Akraino R1”). Created via broad community collaboration, Akraino’s premiere release unlocks the power of intelligent edge with deployable, self-certified blueprints for a diverse set of edge use cases.

      Launched in 2018, and now part of the LF Edge umbrella, Akraino Edge Stack is creating an open source software stack that supports a high-availability cloud stack optimized for edge computing systems and applications. Designed to improve the state of edge cloud infrastructure for enterprise edge, over-the-top (OTT) edge, and carrier edge networks, it offers users new levels of flexibility to scale edge cloud services quickly, to maximize the applications and functions supported at the edge, and to help ensure the reliability of systems that must be up at all times.

      “Akraino R1 represents the first milestone towards creation of a much-needed common framework for edge solutions that address a diverse set of edge use cases,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Automation, Edge and IoT, the Linux Foundation.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • Benchmarks Of The Various Kernel Flavors Of Clear Linux

        Last month Clear Linux rolled out new kernel options as bundles for those wanting to run a mainline/vanilla kernel build on this Intel open-source distribution without their extra patches applied as well as other options. Here are some benchmarks of those different kernel flavors available to Clear Linux users.

        At the end of May I carried out some Clear Linux benchmarks of the different kernel bundles. The kernel results didn’t end up being all that interesting and since then they switched over to Linux 5.1, but here’s that data for those interested.

      • Benchmarking Five ~$30 USD Solid-State Drives Under Ubuntu Linux

        With falling memory prices, there’s multiple solid-state drives available for around the $30 USD price point that offer 240~256GB capacities. Here are benchmarks of five such drives, four of which are SATA 3.0 SSDs and even one NVMe SSD. There are also comparison points to more premium SSD products.

        All of these solid-state drives were tested on an Ubuntu 19.04 Intel Core i5 desktop running the Linux 5.0 kernel and all Spectre/Meltdown/L1TF/MDS mitigations to date. EXT4 was the file-system in use on each of these drives. Via the Phoronix Test Suite (https://www.phoronix-test-suite.com/) a wide range of open-source Linux storage benchmarks were carried out.

  • Applications

    • Quick List Of Best Database Management Systems For Linux

      Let’s dig into the list of some of the top and the best database management systems for Linux based operating system.

    • Why Ubuntu MATE 19.10 Is Ditching VLC for GNOME MPV

      GNOME MPV (now known as Celluloid) will be the default media player in Ubuntu MATE 19.10.

      The app supplants the versatile VLC meda player, which the MATE-desktop-toting distro has shipped with since a community poll back in 2017.

      So why the change now?

      Better desktop integration. That’s according to Ubuntu MATE’s Martin Wimpress who revealed news of the swap in the latest Ubuntu MATE monthly update on Patreon:

      “We will be dropping VLC from the pre-installed applications and shipping GNOME MPV instead. GNOME MPV will soon be renamed to Celluloid. The reasons for switching to GNOME MPV are similar to swapping out Thunderbird for Evolution; better desktop integration.”

      Size is another factor. GNOME MPV takes up a comparatively svelte 27MB on the ISO image, whereas Qt5-based VLC requires closer to 70MB.

    • Ubuntu MATE 19.10 Is Ditching VLC for GNOME MPV
    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Proton 4.2-6 Brings DXVK 1.2.1 Rebuild, Updated FAudio, Other Fixes

        The folks maintaining Proton as Valve’s flavor of Wine for use by Steam Play for running Windows games on Linux just released Proton 4.2-6.

        Proton 4.2-6 remains based on upstream Wine 4.2 but with this newest update it continues the trend of improving the Steam Networking API support. The latest benefactor of the Steam Networking API work is correcting multiplayer functionality for A Hat In Time.

    • Games

      • Shoot Spaceships In Another Classic Arcade Hyperspace Drifter

        Hyperspace Drifter is a classic arcade space shooter game. The game features beautiful 3D-like environment settings and cool flat-like spaceship art. It is lightweight too so the game does not require much computing resources unless you are playing it in maximized window mode.

      • Quake II RTX released with a demo along and the source code

        For those with newer NVIDIA GPUs, you can now try out Quake II RTX which just released with Linux support. Really nice to see Lightspeed Studios and NVIDIA make Linux a first-class citizen for this with same-day support.

      • Some thoughts on SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, the deck-builder from Image & Form Games

        Image & Form Games have done it again, crafting another SteamWorld game that’s worth playing although very different to what came before.

        Now that the publisher managed to fix my key issues, I’ve been able to dive in at the deep and and I’ve found it to be a very enjoyable game. It’s actually really great to see a developer put out sequels and stand-alone games in a similar world, while also trying something new and not playing it safe. Moving away from running along platforms and mining in SteamWorld Dig 1/2 and the tactical shoot-outs in SteamWorld Heist, SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is instead an RPG with turn-based battles involving punch-cards.

      • Humble are doing another 2K Build Your Own Bundle Sale, a good chance to catch some cheap games

        Time to build you own bundle and get access to a high discount, with the 2K Build Your Own Bundle Sale. With this special sale, each item is on sale by itself but if you buy 3-5 games you get an extra discount added at 3, 4 and 5.

      • Roguelike deck-builder ‘Roguebook’ announced set in the Faeria universe, will support Linux

        Looks like we have the next trend for developers to jump on, as another card game deck-builder has been announced. This time it’s Roguebook, set in the Faeria universe from Abrakam.

        They’re saying it’s a homage to titles like Slay the Spire or Dream Quest, as they “have established a new and exciting genre that we want to more fully explore”. Inspired by them but the gameplay seems to be very different. Each game, will be almost entirely random and that includes the cards themselves, encounters and so on. It will mix the card-based battles with free exploration across a map.

        If you’ve never played it, Abrakam’s previous game Faeria is a pretty-good card game where you build the board as you play so they already know their cards. Roguebook is taking a different approach though, as it’s a single-player experience (with online co-op as a stretch goal) that has you travel across a procedurally generated world.

      • Google Stadia’s E3 Event Reveals New Details For This Linux+Vulkan Gaming Service

        Back at GDC 2019 Google unveiled Stadia as their cloud gaming service powered by Linux, AMD graphics, and using the Vulkan API. More details were just revealed at their live broadcast event prior to next week’s E3 gaming conference in Los Angeles.

      • Info on Google Stadia from today’s Stadia Connect, Baldur’s Gate III announced too

        For those interested in trying out Google Stadia, the new streaming service, today Google held their first Stadia Connect to give out some details. Quick reminder: Stadia is the game streaming service powered by Debian Linux and Vulkan. It’s supposed to offer a “single click” experience with “no downloading required”.

        On the subject of pricing: They will have a Stadia Pro subscription at $9.99/£8.99 a month which gives you up to 4K resolution with regular free games and discounts. They will also do Stadia Base with no monthly sub that will come “next year” limiting you to 1080p, both allowing you to buy games whenever you want.

        However, it seems only those who purchase the special Founders Edition will get access sometime in November. This includes first access to Stadia, a Chromecast Ultra, limited edition Stadia Controller, 3 months of Stadia Pro, a guest pass to give access to a friend and the Complete Edition of Destiny 2.

      • DRM has been blown out the airlock, as X4: Foundations for Linux is now on GOG

        DRM-free GOG fans rejoice, you can now join the space race as Egosoft have put X4: Foundations for Linux up.

        Previously released on Steam, along with a little Beta period the latest space sim will take some time to learn, but it’s a thoroughly interesting (and at times quite beautiful) experience. An incredibly detailed game in many ways, although I still often have to look things up as it can be pretty confusing.

      • Handelabra Games are bringing the deck-builder Aeon’s End to Steam with Linux support

        Aeon’s End, a deck-building and card battling game based on the cooperative board game is being given the digital treatment from Handelabra Games (One Deck Dungeon, Sentinels of the Multiverse).

        Thanks to funding on Kickstarter, it is confirmed to be heading to Steam and it will be coming with Linux support…

      • Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York announced with Linux support

        While a lot of the current Vampire game hype is surrounding Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 another different game is coming called Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York.

        [...]

        The developer, Draw Distance (previously called iFun4All), who made Serial Cleaner say it’s going to be a “unique, atmospheric, single-player narrative experience, set in a rich, fully licensed, globally recognized universe of Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition”. They’re not giving a clear idea of what the gameplay will be like, so we will have to wait until they have more to show.

      • The next Rocket League event on June 10th will take you back to the 1980s

        Psyonix have been busy, with the next in-game Rocket League event coming on June 10th called Radical Summer and it sounds like their biggest event yet.

        The event will last a whole nine weeks and they say it will feature “free items, new Premium Licensed DLCs, limited-time game modes, and more! (shhh, it’s a secret)”. The event is going to be split across themes around Blockbusters, Culture, and Television with each lasting three weeks. When you play online, you will earn “Cassettes” and redeem them for items.

      • Dying Light is still seeing updates years after release and my love of it continues

        Dying Light is easily the best Zombie game I’ve probably ever played and Techland are continuing to tweak it over 4 years after the original release.

      • New Borderlands 2 DLC is on the way called Commander Lilith & The Fight For Sanctuary

        Thanks to Steam leaking it early (and now it’s been taken down), it’s basically confirmed that Commander Lilith & The Fight For Sanctuary is a new DLC coming to Borderlands 2.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • IceWM (Window Manager) 1.5.5 Released, which Contains many bug and Portability fixes

      IceWM team has anounced the new release of IceWM (Window Manager) on today (June 7, 2019).

      This release contains many bugfixes and many portability fixes compared with previous version of IceWM 1.4.2.

      Also, updated the translations.

      A new quickswitch, hotkeys, focus behavior FocusCurrentWorkspace and theme option TaskbuttonIconOffset which is used in theme Outside-ice.

      Quickswitch can be either horizontal or vertical.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Digital Atelier: Painter Brushes and Video Tutorials Now 50% Off

        To celebrate the new release, we’re doing a 50% off sale of Digital Atelier, Ramon Miranda’s painterly brushes and tutorials pack for the rest of this month! Get Digital Atelier in the Krita shop!

      • Akademy 2019 registration now open

        Once you have registered, take a look at our guide on how to travel to Milan and check out the accommodation we have arranged and recommend for attendees. We also have a guide on how to get from different locations within Milan to Akademy. This guide also includes information on how to move around the city in general — useful for sightseeing!

        IMPORTANT: All attendees are expected to read and required to follow Akademy’s Code of Conduct.

      • Kdenlive 19.04.2 is out

        The second minor release of the 19.04 series is out with 77 bug fixes and minor usability improvements. Among the highlights for this release are fixes for compositing issues, misbehaving guides/markers and grouping inconsistencies. The Windows version also comes with improvements such as slideshow import and dark themes have now white icons (enable “Force Breeze Icon Theme” under settings). See the full list of commits down below.

        As previously stated this cycle is focused on polishing the rough edges post the code refactoring and a whopping 118 fixes have been submitted in the last two months alone. We ask the community to keep testing and reporting issues on our gitlab instance or join us on IRC (#kdenlive) or Telegram.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.34′s Mutter Adds Mouse Accessibility Support For X11/Wayland

        Up to now the GNOME desktop has offered mouse accessibility support using the long-standing Mousetweaks program that allows for different actions to take place all from the lone input device for those that may be limited to manipulating only one button or other limitations around this primary input device. But GNOME’s Mousetweaks only works with X11 so now Mutter has picked up mouse accessibility support itself that works on both X11 and Wayland sessions.

      • GTK 3 Frame Profiler

        I back-ported the GTK 4 frame-profiler by Matthias to GTK 3 today. Here is an example of a JavaScript application using GJS and GTK 3. The data contains mixed native and JS stack-traces along with compositor frame information from gnome-shell.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • MX Linux Reinvents Computer Use

        MX Linux makes transitioning from any desktop operating system simple. It provides a computing platform that is a bit different and very reliable.

        MX Linux is a powerful, easy-to-use computing platform that goes beyond lightweight performance without filling your computer with software bloat.

        The latest MX Linux 18.3 ISO is a “refresh” release, not a major upgrade. It has all the recent updates, bug fixes and system updates. This distro does not offer rolling releases, however.

        You can perform a system upgrade from an existing MX Linux installation when new refresh releases are issued to get all the updates since the original MX-18 version release. There is no need to do a re-installation with each new release.

    • New Releases

      • Zorin OS 15 Released, Canonical Issues Security Updates for All Supported Versions of Ubuntu Linux, New RCE Vulnerability Discovered Affecting Email Servers, Khadas VIM3 Launching Soon and Krita’s Digital Atelier on Sale

        Zorin OS 15 Released, Canonical Issues Security Updates for All Supported Versions of Ubuntu Linux, New RCE Vulnerability Discovered Affecting Email Servers, Khadas VIM3 Launching Soon and Krita’s Digital Atelier on Sale

      • Zorin OS Becomes Even More Awesome With Zorin 15 Release

        Zorin OS 15’s main highlight is – Zorin Connect. If you have an Android device, you are in for a treat. Similar to PushBullet, Zorin Connect integrates your phone with the desktop experience.

        You get to sync your smartphone’s notifications on your desktop while also being able to reply to it. Heck, you can also reply to the SMS messages and view those conversations.

        [...]

        Yes! Other major changes include the support for Flatpak, a touch layout for convertible laptops, a DND mode, and some redesigned apps (Settings, Libre Office) to give you better user experience.

        If you want the detailed list of changes along with the minor improvements, you can follow the announcement post. If you are already a Zorin user, you would notice that they have refreshed their website with a new look as well.

      • Zorin OS 15 nods at Ubuntu and welcomes Windows escapees

        While Microsoft may be shoehorning the Linux kernel into Windows 10, veteran Linux flinger Zorin has applied some buffing to its Windows-like distro with a version 15 release.

        Nearly a decade since its first emission, Zorin has given its latest Ubuntu-based OS a polish and added tools that its parent, well, really should have added some time ago.

        Opting to skip from 12.x directly to version 15, the OS sits atop Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS and includes the Linux kernel 4.18 and Gnome Shell 3.30. However, it is the fit and finish that makes Zorin OS 15 stand out.

        As with previous versions, the intention is that Windows users should feel at home in the occasionally alarming world of Linux.

    • Arch Family

      • 5 of the Best Arch Linux-Based Distributions

        Arch Linux is one of the most popular Linux distributions. It’s also one of the more challenging, with a steep learning curve that can put off even seasoned Linux users. If you’re looking to build your operating system from scratch, Arch Linux is a powerful choice.

        If you’d like to harness the power of Arch Linux but don’t want to have to build everything from the ground up, the good news is that there are plenty of Arch-based Linux distributions. They offer the simplicity of GUI-based installation, and each provides its own unique take on Arch Linux.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Mesa, VirtualBox, Ceph, NetworkManager Packages Update in Tumbleweed

        Three openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots have been released in the first four days of June, which bring several minor package updates to the rolling release.

        The 20190604 snapshot brought babl 0.1.64, which provided some code consistency, gitlab Continuous Integration (CI), autotools and meson build improvements. An accident in naming caused the 0.3.2 version of bubblewrap to become version 0.3.3. However, bubblewrap 0.3.3. did address a Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE), provided a few smaller fixes and added the JSON Application Programming Interface (API) that allows reading the inner process exit code. GNU Compiler Collection 8 had some updates that included a couple patches with one that makes builds without profiling reproducible. Generic Graphics Library gegl 0.4.16 also added gitlab CI and uses a custom allocator for tile data, which aligns data and groups allocations in blocks; this was achieved on Linux by using the GNU extension malloc_trim to permit forcing invocation of the glibc malloc/free allocators garbage collection function. Oracle’ virtualbox 6.0.8 had a minor maintenance release that fixed a crash when powering off a Virtual Machine without a graphics controller and xorg-x11-server 1.20.5 fixed some input. The snapshot is currently trending at a 96 rating, according to the snapshot reviewer.

        Snapshot 20190603 updated Mesa and Mesa-drivers to version 19.0.5 and took care of some core code and drivers. NetworkManager 1.16.2 fixed some wrong permissions of the /var/lib/NetworkManager/secret_key file. Ceph’s minor version update disabled Link Time Optimisation in spec when being used. GNOME 3.32.2 had several package updates and fixes including the fix of a regression that caused the fonts category to go missing. Tumbleweed skipped over the 1.3.0 series of Flatpak directly to version 1.4.0. The major changes since 1.2.4 is the improved I/O use for system-installed applications, and the new format for pre-configured remotes. Glib2 2.60.3 updated translations and provided various fixes to small key/value support in GHashTable. Scripting language php7 7.3.6 added a missing curl_version and fixed several other bugs. The snapshot is currently trending at a 95 rating, according to the snapshot reviewer.

    • Fedora

      • Keeping software in NeuroFedora up to date

        Given the large number of software updates we published recently, we thought this is a good chance to explain how the NeuroFedora team (and the Fedora package maintainers team in general) stays on top of all of this software that is constantly being updated and improved.

      • F30-20190605 Updated isos Released

        The Fedora Respins SIG is pleased to announce the latest release of Updated F30-20190605 Live ISOs, carrying the 5.1.6-300 kernel.

        This set of updated isos will save considerable amounts of updates after install. ((for new installs.)(New installs of Workstation have 1.2GB of updates)).

      • Council policy proposal: modify election eligibility

        Inspired by the request that we provide written guidance on time commitment expectations and some conversations from our meeting in December, I have submitted a pull request to implement a policy that anyone running for an elected Fedora Council seat not run for other elected boards at the same time:

        The reasoning is that we have an unspoken (for now) expectation that being on the Council, particularly as an elected representative, will not be a trivial commitment. This is an easier check than trying to determine post-election which body a candidate would rather serve on (and thus having to deal with alternates, etc).

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • 5 Easy Ways To Free Up Space (Unwanted or Junk Files) on Ubuntu

            Most of us may perform this action whenever we fall into out of disk space on system.

            Most of us may perform this action whenever we are running out of space on Linux system

            It should be performed frequently, to make space for installing a new application and dealing with other files.

            Housekeeping is one of the routine task of Linux administrator, which allow them to maintain the disk utilization is in under threshold.

            There are several ways we can clean up our system space.

          • Need to set up servers in remote locations?

            When deploying a small footprint environment such as edge computing sites, 5G low latency services, a site support cabinet or baseband unit, its critical to establish the optimal number of physical servers needed for set up. While several approaches exist, bare metal provisioning through KVM can often be the most reliable option. Here’s why.

            For every physical server in such a constrained physical environment, there is an associated cost.

          • Snapcraft confinement & interfaces

            Snaps. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the OSS Snapcraft. Its continuing mission, to provide snap users with simple, clear and effective tips and tricks on how to build and publish their applications.

            In this tutorial, we are going to talk about confinement and interfaces – how to restrict what your snaps can do, and then fine-tune the restrictions to make your applications both secure and useful.

          • Ubuntu Moving Ahead With Compressing Their Kernel Image Using LZ4

            Ubuntu will begin compressing its kernel image / initramfs using the LZ4 compression scheme to improve the experience around their installer and for cloud/core/classic devices. There is some concern over the performance to which they may do additional tweaking.

          • Ubuntu keeping up with GNOME stable updates

            Recently Michael blogged about epiphany being outdated in Ubuntu. While I don’t think that a blog ranting was the best way to handle the problem (several of the Ubuntu Desktop members are on #gnome-hackers for example, it would have been easy to talk to us there) he was right that the Ubuntu package for epiphany was outdated.

            [...]

            Again the reality is a bit more complex. Snaps don’t have depends like debs do, so by nature they don’t have problems like being blocked by missing depends. To limit duplication we do provide a gnome platform snap though and most of our GNOME snaps use it. That platform snap is built from our LTS archive which is on GTK 3.22 and our snaps are built on a similar infrastructure.

            [...]

            And as a conclusion, if as an upstream or user you have an issue with a component that is still outdated in Ubuntu feel free to get in touch with us (IRC/email/launchpad) and we will do out best to fix the situation.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Knowage Renews Sponsorship in Support of Open Source and Open Source Initiative

    Knowage, the open source suite for modern Business Analytics, combining traditional and big data sources into valuable and meaningful information, has renewed their sponsorship of the the Open Source Initiative® (OSI). Knowage (formerly SpagoBI) has a 14-years history of open source collaboration, where individuals and companies work together to meet the latest analytical needs, including collaboration with current OSI Affiliate Members Eclipse Foundation, OW2, and Engineering Group- one of the world’s leading specialist providers of services, software development and digital platforms that support both public and private companies or organizations through digital transformation.

    Powered by a strong international open source community, and released under AGPL3, Knowage code is freely accessible on GitHub.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • As Google Ponders Making Ad Blockers Less Useful, Mozilla Ramps Up Tracker Blocking

        Google found itself under fire last week after critics said the company was considering weakening ad blockers on the company’s Chrome browser. The changes were part of the company’s broader Manifest V3 roadmap for the browser, which Google claims is being considered to improve browser performance and extension security. But consumer groups and adblock extension developers weren’t buying Google’s claims, and say that the changes will make adblockers less effective by prohibiting them from pre-blocking ads, instead shifting blocking determination to Chrome itself.

        As it currently stands, many Chrome adblock extensions use Chrome’s webRequest API, letting users block ads before they even reach the browser. But Google’s proposal would require extensions use the declarativeNetRequest API, which leaves it to the browser to decide what gets blocked based on a list of up to 30,000 rules. While extensions like AdBlock already use the latter, developers say the overall result will be tools that simply aren’t quite as effective, and would erode consumer power to determine for him- or herself how stringent blocking actually is.

      • Firefox blocks third-party web trackers by default

        Sure, privacy has become a popular buzzword. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, for example, opened Build 2019 by saying, “Privacy is a human right.” And Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said, “The future is private.”

        But Mozilla is doing something about it. Whether or not you believe it, privacy is getting more lip service these days. Mozilla wants to do more than say the right thing. It wants to do the right thing. Instead of making online privacy an option, Mozilla is making it the default.

        As Peter Dolanjski, product Llad for Firefox, explained, as of “today, for new users who download and install Firefox for the first time, Enhanced Tracking Protection will automatically be set on by default, protecting our users from the pervasive tracking and collection of personal data by ad networks and tech companies.”

        Mozilla isn’t the first to make this move. Apple’s Safari web browser has blocked third-party cookies since 2014. But Safari is only available on iOS and macOS these days. The most popular web browser, Google’s Chrome, has started to limit cookies. But since Google’s business depends on web advertising, its plans for cookies aren’t as radical for Apple and Mozilla’s.

      • Quick start: Profiling local builds of Firefox for Android and GeckoView_example

        A noteworthy item in there is “–with-java-bin-path”. I’ve had trouble on Ubuntu with the system default Java not being the right version. This helps.

        Note that if you’re profiling, you really want to be doing a release build. The behaviour of release is different from an optimized build.

        If you’re debuging, you probably need –enable-debug. For details of how to debug, see GeckoView Debugging Native Code in Android Studio.

      • Next steps in privacy-preserving Telemetry with Prio

        In late 2018 Mozilla conducted an experiment to collect browser Telemetry data with Prio, a privacy-preserving data collection system developed by Stanford Professor Dan Boneh and PhD candidate Henry Corrigan-Gibbs. That experiment was a success: it allowed us to validate that our Prio data collections were correct, efficient, and integrated well with our analysis pipeline. Today, we want to let you know about our next steps in testing data collection with Prio.

        As part of Content Blocking, Firefox will soon include default protections against tracking. Our protections are built on top of a blocklist of known trackers. We expect trackers to react to our protections, and in some cases attempt to work around them. We can monitor how our blocklists are applied in Firefox to detect these workarounds.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.3 on Linux, a statement

      Following the availability of LibreOffice 6.3 Beta, there have been speculations about 32-bit compatibility based on a the missing 32-bit binaries for Linux.

      We have prepared a short and a long statement to clarify the situation.

    • Announcing a new website: What can I do for LibreOffice!

      Here at The Document Foundation, we’re always encouraging people to join our projects and community. Contributing to a well-known open source project is a great way to meet new people, have fun, build up skills and experience, and help to make the world a better place!

      However, large FOSS projects can be daunting too. Our Get involved page aims to make the on-boarding process for newcomers easier, by breaking the process down into smaller steps, and we plan other improvements to that page.

  • Programming/Development

    • Introducing QtCoAP

      CoAP was designed as a lightweight machine-to-machine (M2M) communication protocol that can run on devices with scarce memory and computing resources. It is based on the concept of RESTful APIs and is very similar to HTTP. CoAP has a client-server architecture and uses GET, POST, PUT and DELETE requests for interaction with the data. But unlike HTTP, it uses the lightweight UDP for the transport instead of TCP. Additionally, it supports some interesting features like multicast requests, resource discovery and observation.

      Thanks to the low overhead and simplicity, CoAP has become one of the popular IoT protocols to be used on the embedded devices. It acts as a sort of HTTP for the embedded world.

    • QtCoAP Added To Qt 5.13 To Increase Its Relevance For Internet of Things

      The Qt5 tool-kit continues entrenching into new areas for The Qt Company and one of those areas is IoT deployments. With Qt 5.13, a new “QtCoAP” component is being introduced in supporting a protocol designed for the Internet of Things.

    • LLVM’s New Fortran Compiler Previously Called “f18″ Will Be Take The Name Of Flang

      Earlier this year the LLVM Foundation formally approved making the f18 compiler part of the LLVM project to serve as a modern Fortran compiler for this effort led by NVIDIA, Arm, and others. The F18 compiler leverages modern C++ code and in pretty much all ways superior to the earlier LLVM Fortran compiler effort dubbed Flang.

      Flang was first talked about more than a half-decade ago and a completely separate project. After the new F18 compiler was accepted, there began talk of changing its name. At first they were just going to call it the LLVM Fortran compiler but with “fortran” as the name being too generic especially when it comes to executable names, they debated the name change further.

    • Twisted 19.2.1 Released

      On behalf of Twisted Matrix Laboratories, I am honoured to announce the release of Twisted 19.2.1!

    • Angular 8 Material Design Tutorial & Example
    • Getting Started with Python’s Wikipedia API
    • Why do Python lists let you += a tuple, when you can’t + a tuple?

Leftovers

  • The CEO of a pogo-stick rental service knows you won’t actually hop to work. Here’s what’s really going on at the viral Swedish startup.
  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Wonderful World of Free Market Drugs

      I write about the possibility of producing drugs without patent monopolies frequently for several reasons. First, drugs can be essential for people’s health or even life. It should not be a struggle for people to pay for them. Second, there is a huge amount of money at stake, way more than in almost any other realm of public policy. Third, it is such a great example where government intervention, in the form of patents and related monopolies, creates the problem. This is not a story where we need the government to correct an inequity created by the market, we need the government to stop intervening in a way that creates tremendous inequities and inefficiencies.

      I find that people (I mean people engaged in public policy work, not random people grabbed off the bus) have a hard time even understanding what the market for prescription drugs looks like in the absence of patent and related monopolies,[1] so I thought I would devote a blogpost to describing my view of such a world.

      The first and most basic point is that in nearly all cases drugs would be cheap. Drugs are very rarely expensive to manufacture. They are expensive for patients because drug companies have patent or related monopolies and they use these monopolies to charge very high prices to the people who need their drugs. If there were dozens of competing manufacturers producing the same drug, they would be no better positioned to get away with charging incredibly high prices than a supermarket could get away with charging incredibly high prices for food. (We need food to survive, too.) They would be welcome to try, but almost everyone would simply turn to a competitor, likely driving them out of business.

      We know that drugs are cheap in the absence of patent monopolies for two reasons. First, because generic prices in the United States are much less than brand prices. In addition, many of the high priced drugs sold with patent protection in the United States are sold as generics elsewhere in the world, in some cases for less than one percent of the price in the U.S.

      According to data from the Association for Accessible Medicines, the trade group for the generic industry, brand drugs accounted for 74 percent of spending even though they were only 11 percent of the prescriptions sold. By contrast, generic drugs accounted for just 26 percent of spending even though they were 89 percent of sales. This implies that the average generic prescription cost just 3.6 percent of the price of the average brand prescription, or $29.70 per prescription in 2017. This figure would mean that we could save 96.4 percent of the money spent on brand drugs if we immediately got rid of protections and allowed them to be sold as generics.

    • Citing Fears of Americans Getting ‘Screwed,’ Progressive Democrats Call Out Pelosi for Crafting Pharma-Friendly Drug Pricing Bill in Secret

      Amid concerns that the House Democratic leadership is crafting a drug pricing bill that is far too friendly to the pharmaceutical industry, progressives in Congress this week publicly called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for writing the legislation in secret and ignoring those who favor a more aggressive approach to lowering out-of-control prescription drug costs.

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was among the progressive Democrats who spoke out Wednesday, telling reporters that the House Democratic leadership has left “most members” completely in the dark on the details of the prescription drug bill.

      [...]

      As HuffPost reported last month, Pelosi and the Democratic leadership “have ignored Doggett’s bill,” which was endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) in April.

      Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chairs of the CPC, joined their fellow progressive lawmakers in raising alarm about Pelosi’s secretive process this week.

      According to Politico, Jayapal said Tuesday that she “sent Democratic leadership staff a list of questions about their drug pricing work, demanding details after the latest plan raised ‘lots of concerns’ about whether it would make a significant dent in the prices Americans pay for their prescription drugs.”

      Pocan told reporters on Tuesday that he simply wants “to make sure that everyone is brought on board” and warned of the consequences of crafting milquetoast legislation that does little to tackling soaring drug costs, an issue that polls near the top of the public’s healthcare concerns.

    • People Eat 50,000+ Microplastics Every Year, New Study Finds

      A new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that the average person swallows about 50,000 pieces of plastic per year and inhales about the same amount. Microplastics — bits of plastic invisible to the human eye — are in our food, drinks, air, and increasingly in our stomachs and lungs.

    • ‘Largest Undercover Dairy Investigation in History’ Uncovers Shocking Abuse at ‘Disneyland’ of Farms

      Police are investigating after an animal rights group released disturbing video footage showing workers mistreating calves at an Indiana farm that Food & Wine once dubbed the “Disneyland of agricultural tourism,” The Associated Press reported.

      The Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) released the footage Tuesday after what they said was the “largest undercover dairy investigation in history” at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana. The farm is one of the largest dairy farms in the U.S. and produces the Fairlife milk brand in conjunction with the Coca-Cola company, according to The Indianapolis Star. The farm is also a popular field trip destination and draws more than 600,000 visitors a year.

    • The Latest: Video Spurs 3 Retailers to Pull Fairlife Items

      At least three retailers are pulling Fairlife products from their shelves after an animal rights group released video showing workers kicking and throwing young calves at an Indiana dairy farm.

      Fair Oaks Farms in northwestern Indiana is the flagship farm for Fairlife, a national brand of higher protein, higher calcium and lower fat milk.

      The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports that Strack & Van Til, Jewel-Osco and Family Express announced Wednesday they’re pulling Fairlife products after the animal rights group Animal Recovery Mission released disturbing video of calves being abused at Fair Oaks Farms’ dairies about 70 miles (113 kilometers) south of Chicago.

      Valparaiso, Indiana-based Family Express operates convenience stores across Indiana. The company says it’s pulling Fairlife products, saying that “the exposé of animal abuse in the Fair Oaks Farm network is chilling.”

    • The Neoliberal Disaster of US Healthcare

      Imagine if a political party in the UK included in its manifesto a pledge to increase public spending on the NHS by 55%! Such a pledge would be derided by Neoliberals as being delusional accompanied by the TINA claim that the only way forward is privatizing the NHS in order to improve its efficiency.

      Comparative studies between health care costs between the US and the UK show that it is the Neoliberal assumptions that are actually delusional and that private sector health care is astonishingly bad value for money.

      In 2018 the UK spent 18% (£145.8 billion) of the total government budget in order to provide free universal health care.

    • ‘Abortion Up to Conscience, Not Government,’ Declared Bernie Sanders… in 1972

      Amid intensifying focus on the overt and coordinated assault on abortion rights in the U.S. as a key 2020 campaign issue for Democratic presidential candidates, newly unearthed comments from a local Vermont newspaper in the early 1970s shows that Bernie Sanders has been a long and consistent defender of a women’s reproductive rights since before he first took public office more than four decades ago.

      “It strikes me as incredible that politicians think that they have the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body,” Sanders told the local Bennington Banner in 1972, months before the seminal abortion rights case, Roe v. Wade, was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court the following year. “This is especially true in Vermont where we have a legislature which is almost completely dominated by men.”

      [...]

      “Bernie Sanders has been fighting these battles for decades, even when it wasn’t politically advantageous,” David Sirota, a speechwriter and Sanders campaign aide, told Newsweek, emphasizing not only the quality of the position but the consistency that goes back more than forty years. “That tells you exactly where he will always be on these issues, even when the going gets tough—and that is important for voters to know.”

    • ‘Biggest Animal Disease Outbreak We’ve Ever Had on the Planet’: Swine Fever Spreads Like Wildfire Across Asia

      Officials across Asia are reportedly calling on farmers to diversify their farms to offset the effects of the rapidly spreading African swine fever, a virus that’s forced the region to slaughter millions of pigs in recent months.

      The fever, which is believed to be harmless to humans and is also known as pig Ebola, has been spreading across Southeast Asia at an alarming rate since last August, forcing pig farmers to cull the animals by the millions and causing the price of pork, a widely-used meat worldwide, to soar.

      The epidemic is “the biggest animal disease outbreak we’ve ever had on the planet,” according to Dirk Pfeiffer, an expert on African swine fever.

      “It makes the foot and mouth disease and [mad cow disease] outbreaks pale in comparison to the damage that is being done,” Pfeiffer told The Guardian. “And we have no way to stop it from spreading.”

      African swine fever (ASF) causes pigs to die from internal hemorrhaging, and passes easily across borders as the virus can survive for several weeks in vehicles used to transport pigs. There is no vaccine for the disease, and contaminated animals must be slaughtered to stop it from spreading.

      The culling of over one million pigs in China and two million pigs in Vietnam—six percent of the country’s supply—has caused global pork prices to soar by 40 percent.

    • Alarm as Trump Energy Dept Redefines ‘High-Level’ Nuclear Waste to ‘Low-Level’ in Order to Save Disposal Costs

      In a move that will roll back safety standards that have been observed for decades, the Trump administration reportedly has plans to reclassify nuclear waste previously listed as “high-level” radioactive to a lower level, in the interest of saving money and time when disposing of the material.

      The Department of Energy (DOE) plans to observe a new interpretation of which nuclear waste qualifies as “high-level waste,” which must be disposed of deep underground to avoid contaminating the surrounding environment. Under the new standards, radioactive materials at three nuclear sites will be classified as low-risk, enabling officials to dispose of the waste in shallow pits.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Severe vulnerability in Exim

      As per the distros list policy:

      Below is an abridged version of our advisory (with all the vulnerability
      details, but without exploitation details); we will publish the complete
      version in 24 hours, or as soon as third-party exploits are published,
      whichever happens first.

      We believe that it makes no sense to delay this any longer than that:
      this vulnerability is trivially exploitable in the local and non-default
      cases (attackers will have working exploits before that, public or not);
      and in the default case, a remote attack takes a long time to succeed
      (to the best of our knowledge).

    • Severe vulnerability in Exim
    • Election Security Is Still Hurting at Every Level

      The Russian meddling that rocked the 2016 United States presidential election gave the public a full view of something election officials and advocates have warned about for years: weak voting infrastructure and election systems around the US, and a lack of political will and funding to strengthen them. Two and a half years later, real progress has been made in key areas. But with a new presidential election less than 18 months away, glaring systemic risks remain.

      Many of those inadequacies show up in new report from the Stanford Cyber Policy Center, which breaks down the threats facing the 2020 election and beyond, and proposes paths to managing them. But as the report also makes clear, many of those necessary steps will not be completed before 2020. Smooth-running elections will require a clear-eyed view of those lingering deficiencies.

    • Warnings of world-wide worm attacks are the real deal, new exploit shows

      The video shows a module Dillon wrote for the Metasploit exploit framework remotely connecting to a Windows Server 2008 R2 computer that has yet to install a patch Microsoft released in mid May. At about 14 seconds, a Metasploit payload called Meterpreter uses the getuid command to prove that the connection has highly privileged System privileges. In the remaining six seconds, the hacker uses the open source Mimikatz application to obtain the cryptographic hashes of passwords belonging to other computers on the same network the hacked machine is connected to.

    • Baltimore’s bill for ransomware: Over $18 million, so far

      It has been a month since the City of Baltimore’s networks were brought to a standstill by ransomware. On Tuesday, Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young and his cabinet briefed press on the status of the cleanup, which the city’s director of finance has estimated will cost Baltimore $10 million—not including $8 million lost because of deferred or lost revenue while the city was unable to process payments. The recovery remains in its early stages, with less than a third of city employees issued new log-in credentials thus far and many city business functions restricted to paper-based workarounds.

    • Recent Security Innovations

      There have been some recent security innovations previously unreported here:

      New flag “MAP_CONCEAL” for mmap(2) allocations
      No syscalls from pages where PROT_WRITE is still enabled

    • China tightens South Korea visa rules ‘after Huawei rebuff’

      China has tightened business visa rules for citizens of US ally South Korea, after Seoul chose telecommunications providers other than Huawei for its upcoming network projects.

    • ANU breach due to the kind of data it held: security pro

      The Australian National University suffered a data breach because of the type of data it held, a security professional from privileged account management solution provider Thycotic claims.

    • Reproducible Builds in May 2019

      Welcome to the May 2019 report from the Reproducible Builds project! In our reports we outline the most important things which have been up to in and around the world of reproducible builds & secure toolchains over the past month.

      As a quick recap, whilst anyone can inspect the source code of free software for malicious flaws, almost all software is distributed to end users pre-compiled. The motivation behind reproducible builds effort is to ensure no malicious flaws have been introduced during this compilation process by promising identical results are always generated from a given source, thus allowing third-parties to come to a consensus on whether a build was compromised.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Instead of a US Peace Plan for the Middle East, How about a US Peace Plan for the US?

      US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo describes the Trump administration’s plan for peace between Israel and Palestinian Arabs as “unexecutable.” President Trump says Pompeo “may be right.”

      Good! As addiction counselors say, the first step is admitting you have a problem. With addiction, the way out is not “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” It’s admitting that the thing you’re addicted to will never solve your problems and giving up that thing.

      The United States suffers from a long-term addiction, since at least the end of World War 2, to trying to run the world.

      That addiction has cost American taxpayers trillions of dollars.

      It’s cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions of citizens of other countries.

      It’s empowered evil regimes to suppress human rights both at home and abroad.

      And it has never, ever “worked” in the sense of bringing about lasting peace, any more than booze saves marriages or methamphetamine repairs mental anguish.

      In fact, just like booze or methamphetamine, the US addiction to world “leadership” wrecks the lives of everyone around the addict too. Which means that if the US gets its act together, everyone else, not just Americans, will be better off.

    • Official records reveal that 170 Russian soldiers were deployed at the Ukrainian border on the day MH17 was shot down

      More than 170 soldiers from Russia’s 53rd Air Defense Missile Brigade, which was based near Kursk, were located near the Ukrainian border on July 17, 2014, the day Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down outside Donetsk, according to unclassified Russian Defense Ministry documents obtained by the newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

      International investigators say the Buk surface-to-air missile that destroyed the passenger plane and killed all 298 people on board was assigned to this same brigade. Based on the official findings, the Buk missile system that fired the missile arrived in Ukraine from Russia and then crossed back over the border.

    • The Quiet Killer at the Core of Patriotism

      What? Another mass murder?

      Almost missed this one: Virginia Beach. Twelve killed on May 31, plus the killer himself, who was a city employee—an engineer. He had legitimate access to the building where he shot people on three floors. His guns were legally purchased. Nothing about him, prior to the tragedy, indicated he was unhinged.

      Except, well, an anonymous source told the New York Times “the suspect had no history of behavioral problems until recently, when he had begun acting strangely and getting into physical ‘scuffles’ with other city workers.”

      So something had come loose—and the passing news coverage lurches into Lonerville. Another lost, isolated loser with a bunch of guns takes out his perceived enemies. We mourn, we shake our heads . . .

      Have you noticed that the only time there’s a reference to some sort of collective mindset in a mass shooting is if the shooter was a Muslim? Then it’s an act of terrorism. Otherwise, it’s lone nut or two, separate from the rest of the human race. How fascinating that we have so many lone nuts in the United States. According to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks the incidence of shootings in this country, we have—I kid you not—an average of one mass shooting a day.

    • Hacking Dirty Government Secrets Is Not a Crime

      British goon cops acting at the request of the United States government entered Ecuador’s embassy in London, dragged out WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and prepared to ship him across the pond. After this event last month most of the mainstream media reacted with spiteful glee about Assange’s predicament and relief that the Department of Justice had exercised self-restraint in its choice of charges.“Because traditional journalistic activity does not extend to helping a source break a code to gain illicit access to a classified network, the charge appeared to be an attempt by prosecutors to sidestep the potential First Amendment minefield of treating the act of publishing information as a crime,” reported a pleased The New York Times.

      At the time, the feds had accused Assange of hacking conspiracy because he and Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning allegedly discussed how to break into a Pentagon computer.

      Bob Garfield of NPR’s “On the Media,” a veteran reporter who should and probably does know better, was one of many establishmentarians who opined that we needn’t worry because Assange isn’t a “real” journalist.

      This being the Trump Administration, self-restraint was in short supply. It turns out that the short list of Assange charges was a temporary ploy to manipulate our gullible English allies. Now Assange faces 17 additional charges under the Espionage Act and a finally-concerned Times callsit “a novel case that raises profound First Amendment issues” and “a case that could open the door to criminalizing activities that are crucial to American investigative journalists who write about national security matters.”

      Corporate media’s instant reversal on Assange—from rapist scum to First Amendment hero within minutes—elevates self-serving hypocrisy to high art. But that’s OK. Whatever gets Assange closer to freedom is welcome—even the jackals of corporate media.

    • Ex-deputy in Parkland shooting out of jail on reduced bail
    • Trump dodges his own Benghazi: Pentagon quietly closes investigation into Niger ambush

      After a U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked and four Americans were murdered in 2012, the Republican-led House of Representatives ordered eight congressional investigations, including a special select committee whose two-year, $7 million probe lasted longer than the main Watergate investigation. But after four American soldiers were ambushed and killed in neighboring Niger five years later, House Republicans opened no such investigations. Nearly two years after the attack, the Pentagon has quietly closed its probe into the incident and declined to discipline any military commanders who ordered the troops into a danger zone with no plan and no backup.

      The Niger ambush was the largest loss of American lives in combat in Africa since the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” incident in Somalia. But what looked to be a major scandal for the new Trump administration was successfully masked by what some House Democrats call a coordinated “cover-up.”

      Although American military forces have never been sanctioned to an official combat mission in Niger — a landlocked West African nation about twice the size of Texas, with a population of just over 20 million people — around 800 U.S. troops have been sent to the region as part of the never-ending war on terror. On Oct. 4, 2017, four Green Berets were killed and two more injured after their group of a dozen U.S. soldiers was ambushed while conducting a joint patrol with about 40 Nigerien soldiers.

    • WSJ Says CIA Chief Wouldn’t Do Anything ‘Inappropriate’—Despite Record of Torture and Coverup

      A Wall Street Journal report (5/25/19) by Warren Strobel whitewashed CIA Director Gina Haspel’s career and put a positive spin on the CIA’s insulation from public accountability with its turn towards its greatest opacity “in decades.”

      While one might expect CIA officials to support greater secrecy around the organization, it’s odd that ostensibly independent journalists—with a mission to hold official organizations accountable by informing the public—would treat less information coming from the agency as a positive development.

      Yet that’s exactly what the Journal report did, depicting Haspel’s strategy of avoiding backlash from the Trump administration by not publicly contradicting its dubious claims as “protecting the agency” from “the domestic threat of a toxic US political culture.”

      “She and her agency have adopted their lowest public profile in decades,” Strobel writes—just before summing her up as a “CIA director who has been warmly received by the workforce she has spent her life among.”

      In other words, for the Journal, a public intelligence agency sharing its intelligence with the public is a bad thing, unless it supports US foreign policy by agreeing with whatever the Trump administration is saying. This position is echoed in the piece by official sources, like former CIA official and staff director of the House Intelligence Committee Mark Lowenthal, who assures us, “It’s not going to be any good for her [Haspel] to be out there attracting lightning bolts.”

    • Cuba Is Feeling John Bolton’s Wrath

      John Bolton hates the governments of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua—calling them the “troika of tyranny” and the “three stooges of socialism”—and is determined to use his time as National Security Advisor to eliminate the vestiges of socialism in our hemisphere. He has openly stated that the 1823 Monroe Doctrine is “alive and well,” conveying that the United States will dictate the terms of governance in the Western Hemisphere, by military force if necessary. Furious that he has been unable to successfully orchestrate a coup in Venezuela, Bolton is now lashing out at Cuba, explicitly punishing the nation for its support of Venezuelan President Maduro. The travel restrictions announced on June 4 represent another page from Bolton’s “regime change” playbook.

    • Trump’s New Travel Restrictions Harm Both US and Cuban People

      < Escalating his policy to economically strangle Cuba, Donald Trump has imposed new restrictions on travel to Cuba by U.S. persons. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will no longer allow the popular “people-to-people” educational travel and they will deny licenses to cruise ships, the most common way people visit Cuba. “While this further escalation of the Trump administration’s economic war on Cuba is very harmful to the people of Cuba and its private sector, it also directly impacts U.S. people,” Art Heitzer, chairperson of the National Lawyers Guild Cuba Subcommittee, told Truthout. “It will limit their freedom to travel, disrupting the lives and jobs of many Cuban-Americans in south Florida.” Ironically, it is the voters in south Florida — many of them expatriated Cubans — whom Trump seeks to please with his shameful Cuba policy. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has long been angling for regime change in Cuba. The New York Times called Rubio “a virtual secretary of state for Latin America.” Early in his presidency, Trump told administration officials that his strategy on Cuba was to “Make Rubio happy.” In an unprecedented move last month, Trump, egged on by Rubio, decided to allow potentially thousands of lawsuits that will depress tourism and investment in Cuba. When announcing the administration’s new restrictions on travel to Cuba, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “This Administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime. These actions will help to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence, and security services.”/blockquote>

    • In Media’s Looking Glass, US Doesn’t Threaten Iran But Merely Responds to Iranian Threats

      US leaders have been threatening Iran for years, but US corporate media persistently and wrongly paint US escalations against Iran as defensive countermeasures.

      George W. Bush said in 2008 that “all options are on the table” in terms of the policies the US will consider toward Iran, which was a way of saying that the US might militarily attack Iran—even a nuclear first strike would fit under “all.” (Oddly, when officials talk about “all options,” options that involve killing people seem to be the only kind they have in mind.)

      President Barack Obama repeatedly made the same threat, vowing “we will do anything” to stop an Iranian nuclear weapons program that US intelligence agencies have long said Iran doesn’t have (FAIR.org, 10/17/17). Signing a nuclear accord with Iran did not end his administration’s belligerence, as Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, repeated the threat: “The president, this president or the next president, will have all options on the table, including military ones.”

    • D-Day: How the US Supported Hitler’s Rise to Power

      On June 6, 1944, Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, opening a second front against German fascism. The largest contingents of fighters were British, American, and Canadian. This battle has been depicted in movies and books as the decisive turning point of World War II, a ferocious struggle against a superior enemy. But as The Real News Network’s Paul Jay and author Peter Kuznick discuss, D-Day was also the moment where the United States’ opposition to communism could no longer outweigh its tacit acceptance of Nazism, and the U.S. industrialists who helped rearm Germany after World War I could no longer profit from Hitler’s Germany.

      “In the aftermath of [World War I], there was such strong anti-war sentiment throughout Europe and throughout the United States that people were very, very loath to get involved in another war, and they were willing to tolerate things they perhaps shouldn’t have,” Kuznick said. “The attitude in the United States was that the United States had been effectively suckered into the war by the munitions manufacturers and the bankers. That instead of it being a noble cause to make the world safe for democracy, to fight the war to end all wars, it was really a war to secure the vast Morgan loans to the British and the French and way to fatten the coffers of DuPont and the other munitions makers.”

      This opposition to war is why the U.S. and other countries tolerated German rearmament in the ’30s, and in the case of many American manufacturers, helped Germany rearm. GM, IBM, and Ford played a major role in rearming Germany. Jay mentioned that in 1938, Hitler even gave notorious anti-Semite and anti-unionist Henry Ford the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal a foreigner could receive from the Nazi party. Then, going into World War II, the U.S.’s “big underlying strategy,” Jay explained, was to allow Germany and Russia to fight and “kill each other,” even as the Soviet Union wanted “the British and the Americans and Canadians to join a united front or a broad front of alliance against Hitler as far back as 1939.”

    • Clemency for the Lowly

      Memorial Day has come and gone and President Trump did not issue his pardons after all. There was substantial evidence that he was planning to use the yearly moment honoring the country’s war dead to grant executive clemency to several U.S. soldiers and at least one military contractor. All have been accused, and one already convicted, of crimes in the never-ending war on terror. But apparently Trump received enough resistance from serving and retired senior military officers and former soldiers, including presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, to change his mind — for now.

      The Friday before Memorial Day, the president was evidently still undecided but moved, so he told reporters, by his compassion for former fighters who are being “really treated very unfairly.” After all, he explained, “Some of these soldiers are people that have fought hard and long. You know, we teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight…” — well, we’re sometimes cruel enough to hold them to the standards set by U.S. and international law. Of course, there are those, including ethics students of mine in the Reserve Officer Training Corps, who might argue that part of the training to be a “great fighter” is learning to obey the laws of war, including, for example, the Geneva Conventions.

      Trump has already pardoned one war criminal. On May 6th, he granted full executive clemency to Michael Behenna, convicted in 2009 of murdering an Iraqi prisoner named Ali Mansur Mohammed. Behenna served five years of a 25-year sentence and was paroled in 2014. What did Behenna do to Mansur? Guardian columnist Gary Younge offers some details: “On Mansur’s release Behenna was supposed to take him home, but instead took him to a secluded area, stripped him naked and shot him dead, later claiming Mansur had made a lunge for his gun.” Now, Behenna has a presidential pardon and Ali Mansur Mohammed is still dead.

      Who else is in line for a possible pardon? The list includes Nicholas Slatten, a former contractor for Blackwater, twice convicted of murder in federal court for his part in the infamous Nisour Square massacre of 14 civilians in Baghdad in 2007. Blackwater, you may recall, was a mercenary outfit owned until 2010 by Erik Prince, a Trump confidant and the brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

    • Whitewashing War Crimes Has Become the American Way

      Just after dawn on March 16, 1968, a company of U.S. Army infantrymen, led by Capt. Ernest Medina and spearheaded by Lt. William Calley, entered the small hamlet of My Lai in Quang Ngai province, South Vietnam. The villagers, mostly women and children, had no idea what was coming that day. If they had, they’d have fled.

      Despite facing zero resistance and finding only a few weapons, Calley ordered his men to execute the entire population. In all, some 500 Vietnamese civilians were executed, including more than 350 women, children and babies. Other senior leaders in the chain of command had advised the soldiers of Charlie Company that all people in the village should be considered either Viet Cong or VC supporters. Medina and Calley were ordered to destroy the village. They did so with brutal precision and savagery.

      The Army covered up the massacre for more than a year, until journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story in November 1969. Now obliged to conduct a public investigation into what was no doubt a major war crime, the Army’s investigating officer recommended that no fewer than 28 officers be charged in the killings and subsequent cover-up. Medina, Calley and most other participants in the slaughter chose to plead—just as Nazi soldiers had—that they were only following orders.

      That may well have been true. Still, military regulations—then and now—oblige a soldier or officer not to follow illegal or immoral orders. Nonetheless, in subsequent trials, all but one of the defendants were acquitted by sympathetic juries. Only Calley, the ringleader, received a life sentence. On appeal, that sentence was reduced to 20 years; later, President Richard Nixon ordered Calley transferred to house arrest at his quarters in Fort Benning, Ga., until finally, the lieutenant was paroled in 1974.

    • Sanctions Are Genocidal, and They Are the US’s Favorite Weapon

      After withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran last year and resuming sanctions last November, the White House in April announced that its goal was to “drive Iranian exports to zero.” To make this drive happen, the White House stopped allowing (my emphasis) countries like India, China, Japan, Turkey, and South Korea to import Iranian oil: dictating to sovereign countries whom they can trade with.

      The dictating doesn’t stop there. Last December the United States had Canadian authorities detain and imprison a Chinese executive, the chief financial officer of telecom company Huawei. Meng Wanzhou is currently on trial in Canada, on the allegation that her company violated U.S. sanctions against Iran. Not content with having told China that it cannot trade with Iran, the United States has gotten a third country, Canada, to take a Chinese corporate executive captive in what Trump suggested was leverage for a trade deal: “If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made, which is a very important thing—what’s good for national security—I would certainly intervene, if I thought it was necessary,” he told Reuters in December.

      The trade deal with China didn’t come through, and a “trade war” has begun. Meng Wanzhou is still stuck in Canada. And the blockade against Iran is still tightening. Economist Mark Weisbrot assessed some of the damage to the Iranian economy in a recent segment on the Real News Network, noting that when sanctions were imposed in 2012, oil production dropped by 832,000 barrels per day and GDP by 7.7 percent; when they were lifted in 2016 in the nuclear deal, production increased by 972,000 barrels per day and GDP increased by 12 percent that year. In 2018 when sanctions were imposed, oil production fell dramatically again and inflation rose by 51 percent; shortages of dozens of essential medicines, according to a study at the University of California, have followed.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Scott Morrison defends Federal Police raid on journalist Annika Smethurst’s Canberra home

      Prime Minister Scott Morrison has dismissed concerns about a police raid on a News Corp journalist’s home more than a year after a story she reported.

    • Federal Police rifled through journalist Annika Smethurst’s undies drawer in seven-hour raid

      Several officers arrived at the Canberra house of award-winning political editor Annika Smethurst yesterday with a search warrant and spent several hours inside rifling through her personal items, including her underwear.

      The News Corp Australia journalist, who works across the publishing company’s Sunday newspapers, including The Sunday Telegraph, was subjected to what her employer and the union has dubbed “intimidation” and “harassment”.

    • ‘Dangerous act of intimidation’: AFP raid home of News Corp journalist

      The actions are in connection to a story published in April 2018 which revealed internal government discussions about introducing new powers for electronic intelligence agency the Australian Signals Directorate.

    • Australian police raid journalist’s home in Canberra

      Reporters Without Borders (RSF) unreservedly condemns this morning Australian federal police raid on a News Corps journalist’s home in Canberra, the capital. Intimidation of this kind poses a grave threat to journalists’ independence and to respect for the confidentiality of their sources, RSF warned.

    • News editor live tweets raid on Australian broadcaster
    • Released Warrant Shows SFPD Started Monitoring Journalist’s Phone Weeks Before Officers Raided His Home

      This part of the warrant says the SFPD is only seeking phone records spanning two days in February. But on the next page, the court authorizes ongoing “remote monitoring” of Carmody’s phone “until the conclusion of the investigation.” This includes signals produced in “locations not open to the public or visual surveillance.”

      This warrant wasn’t handed to the SF Chronicle by the court or the SFPD, but rather by Bryan Carmody, who was finally notified of this particular search three months after it happened.

      The warrant also shows the SFPD had Carmody in its sights long before most of the public was aware he was the source of the leaked death report obtained by other reporters. As the Chronicle’s article points out, the first public statement on Carmody’s involvement came during a Board of Supervisors meeting in April in which the city’s public defender’s office revealed this information. The phone monitoring warrant was granted on March 1st, only days after news stations published the leaked document.

      Every new development makes the SFPD look worse. The department may not be making the hole any deeper at this point, but its prior groundwork has proven to have created a far deeper hole than early estimates indicated.

    • After Assange’s Espionage Act Indictment, Police Move Against More Journalists for Publishing Classified Material

      Following the arrest and Espionage Act indictment of Julian Assange a number of police actions against journalists for publishing classified information and other journalistic activity has heightened fears among mainstream journalists that they could be next.

      Police in Sydney, Australia on Wednesday raided the offices of the taxpayer-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, copying thousands of files related to a 2017 ABC broadcast that revealed allegations of war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

      Three Australian Federal Police officers and three police technicians entered ABC’s Sydney headquarters with a search warrant that named two ABC investigative journalists and the network’s news director. The police demanded to look through the journalists’ emails, ABC reported.

      David Anderson, the ABC managing director, said it was “highly unusual for the national broadcaster to be raided in this way”.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘This Is an Emergency. We Need the Democrats to Act Like It’: Outrage as DNC Announces It Will Not Host 2020 Debate on Climate Crisis

      News of the DNC’s decision was made public by 2020 presidential candidate and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who was the first Democratic contender to call for a debate focused solely on the climate crisis.

      “Today, my team received a call from the Democratic National Committee letting us know that they will not host a climate debate,” Inslee said in a statement. “Further, they explained that if we participated in anyone else’s climate debate, we will not be invited to future debates. This is deeply disappointing.”

      Inslee said he will pressure the DNC leadership to change its mind, arguing that the climate emergency “merits a full discussion of our plans” rather than the “short exchange of talking points” typical of past presidential debates.

      “The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time,” Inslee said. “The next president must make defeating this crisis the top priority of the nation. And I will continue to do everything I humanly can to ensure the climate crisis is at the top of the national agenda.”

    • What Will It Take to Stop Trump’s Climate Policy Insanity?

      The smoke began to roll into the Helena Valley late Thursday evening and by Friday morning it was so thick the surrounding mountains were invisible. It was coming from massive wildfires burning in Canada’s far north between Edmonton and Yellow Knife, and flowing inexorably down the east side of the Continental Divide and out into the plains. And no, all the phony excuses of “a century of wildfire suppression” or not enough logging and thinning have nothing to do with it.

      The Canadian boreal scrub pine forests are burning due to global warming that has caused higher early spring temperatures and a severe lack of rainfall. You can view the enormity of the fires in a YouTube video recorded by a helicopter flyover. As sea levels rise faster than even the worst-case estimates, a record number of species are driven to extinction, and the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide hits 415 parts per million — a level not seen on the planet for 3 million years — we have to ask: What will it take to stop Donald Trump’s climate policy insanity?

    • U.N. reform needed to stop companies fighting climate rules: Nobel laureate Stiglitz

      Multinational companies will increasingly file massive cases against host countries when climate change policies affect their profits, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said.

      To stop governments from weakening their environmental laws to avoid such disputes, reform of a little-known international trade process – the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) – is needed, he said.

      Under ISDS, a nation that hurts a company’s profits by imposing new rules that add to the cost of building a natural gas pipeline, for example, could be sued by the company, Stiglitz said.

    • HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ miniseries has enraged Russia’s state media and pro-Kremlin reporters. Here’s why they hate it.

      HBO has finished airing its critically acclaimed miniseries about the April 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. On the website IMDb, “Chernobyl” is currently the highest rated television program of all time, surpassing even other hits from the same network, including “Game of Thrones” and “The Wire.” In Russia, many journalists and film critics have praised the miniseries as a haunting and beautiful, albeit not entirely historically accurate, retelling of the 1986 accident. But HBO’s “Chernobyl” also has many critics in Russia, especially in the state media and various “patriotic” news outlets, where commentators have accused the show’s American filmmakers of trying to “reprogram” viewers and blacken the USSR’s historical memory. Meduza looks at some the the angriest reviews.

    • 5 Things to Know About the State of Our Oceans for World Oceans Day

      Saturday, June 8 is World Oceans Day, a chance to honor and celebrate our blue planet. Ocean lovers around the world will attend beach cleanings and other events or join a March for the Ocean to call for an end to activities that harm marine life, like offshore oil drilling and plastic pollution.

    • How to Protect Sharks From Overfishing

      How can we better protect sharks and rays from overfishing?

      These related species — which, along with chimaeras, are known collectively as chondrichthyans — include some of the most threatened marine fishes in the world. Sharks and rays face a variety of threats depending on where they live and swim, but the biggest risk comes from overfishing, which takes a noticeable toll on these slow-growing, slow-to-reproduce animals. As a result, nearly 1 in 4 species of chondricthyan fishes is estimated to be, or assessed as, threatened, according to the IUCN Red List.

      To fight this threat, nations have increasingly turned to a popular policy tool called a marine protected area — a part of the ocean where fishing is restricted or banned entirely. Between 2016 and 2018 the total area of ocean designated as MPAs to protect sharks and rays doubled to more than 8.1 million square miles.

      However, not all MPAs are created equal. Some ban all fishing, while some only ban certain types of fishing gear. Some are focused on a particular habitat, while others are enormous and aim to protect a large ocean area. Many actually fail to protect the ocean, often because of preventable problems that occurred when they were being designated.

      “There may be a lot of shark- and ray-focused MPAs, but very few of them have been demonstrated to be effective,” says marine scientist Cassandra Rigby of James Cook University.

    • Arctic sea ice loss affects the jet stream

      Did you shiver in a winter ice storm? Could you wilt in a protracted heatwave this summer? German scientists have just identified the guilty agency and delivered the evidence implicating the jet stream.

      Blame it on Arctic warming, they conclude: the retreat of the sea ice over the polar ocean has distorted the pattern of flow of the stratospheric winds usually known as the jet stream.

      It is not a new idea. But this time, scientists have employed artificial intelligence and a machine-learning programme to accurately model the changes in the jet stream and then link these to changes in the chemistry of the upper atmosphere, and increasing patterns of twisting waves in the high altitude winds which then distort seasonal weather in the northern hemisphere mid-latitudes. They describe their research in the journal Scientific Reports.

      “Our study shows that the changes in the jet stream are at least partly due to the loss of Arctic sea ice. If the ice cover continues to dwindle, we believe that both the frequency and intensity of the extreme weather events previously observed in the middle latitudes will increase,” said Markus Rex, who heads atmospheric research at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany.

    • Climate Crisis Will Cost World’s Biggest Companies $1 Trillion

      More than 200 of the world’s largest companies see over $1 trillion in costs related to the climate crisis, according to a new analysis of corporate disclosures. Much of those costs are anticipated within the next five years.

      Large companies are facing pressure to disclose the financial impacts they could face as extreme weather becomes routine. The climate crisis has the potential to disrupt supply chains or diminish investments in fossil fuels, according to the New York Times.

    • Global Climate Change Analysis 2018

      The demand for climate-related information is growing. Understanding that inadequate information can lead to the mispricing of assets and a misallocation of capital, more and more financial decision makers are demanding information on the business risks and opportunities associated with climate change.
      In 2015, at the request of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and its chair Mark Carney established the industry-led Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
      In recognition of the Task Force’s vital work, CDP committed to align its information requests with the TCFD’s recommendations and support the generation of decision-useful climate information. In 2018, 6,937 companies reported through CDP. Below we analyse two groups of companies: 1) all of those disclosing through CDP in 2018; and 2) a smaller subset of 500 of the world’s largest companies by market cap.

    • Enbridge Is Behind This Front Group Pushing the Company’s Line 3 Oil Pipeline Project

      Minnesotans for Line 3, a group established last year to advocate for an Enbridge oil pipeline project, presents itself as a grassroots organization consisting of “thousands of members.”

      But a DeSmog investigation has found that behind the scenes, the Calgary-based energy giant is pulling the strings. Enbridge has provided the group with funding, public relations, and a variety of advocacy tactics.

    • New Greenpeace Report Breaks Down Why Next US President Has No Choice But to Prioritize Total ‘Fossil Fuel Phase Out’

      Greenpeace’s report, entitled Real Climate Leadership: Why The Next President Must Prioritize a Fossil Fuel Phase Out, outlines the need for “a transformative Green New Deal” in the United States to ensure “a clean and prosperous future” on a global scale.

      “For the next president and Congress, real climate leadership means not only saying yes to real solutions like a rapid transition to renewable energy with equitable ownership and participation, but also saying no to the destructive impacts of fossil fuel extraction,” the report declares.

      Just transitioning to clean energy sources in the United States, the report explains, is not enough to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels—a key target of the international Paris climate agreement.

      The United States could run on 100 percent renewable energy and still export enough oil to derail progress on cutting planet-warming emissions, according to an original analysis included in the report. “If steps are not taken to reduce domestic oil production,” it reads, “roughly half of any reduction in domestic oil consumption will be counteracted by increased oil consumption elsewhere in the world.”

    • Court to Big Fracking Company: Trespassing Still Exists — Even For You

      Seven years ago this month, Beth Crowder and David Wentz told natural gas giant EQT Corp. that it did not have permission to come onto their West Virginia farm to drill for the natural gas beneath neighboring properties.

      EQT had a lease that entitled the company to the gas directly beneath their farm, but it also wanted to use a new, 20-acre well pad to gather gas from 3,000 acres of adjacent or nearby leases.

      The company ignored their warnings. It built roads and drilled a well, and it put in horizontal pipes stretching for miles in all directions.

      [...]

      EQT said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon that the company was “disappointed in the court’s ruling” but didn’t “expect the decision to have a significant impact on our operations in West Virginia.”

      “We intend to maintain cooperative and mutually beneficial relationships with our customers, our partners, and residents in the regions where we do business,” EQT said.

      The West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, an industry trade association, said it is analyzing the ruling to determine how it may impact its member companies.

      In a statement, Charlie Burd, the executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, said the industry group would have preferred a ruling that encouraged horizontal drilling, but planned to comply with it.

      “IOGAWV members like to have good relationships with property owners,” Burd said.

    • Congressional Dems to EPA’s Wheeler: Stop Spreading Oil Industry Lies About Clean Car Rules

      Two Democratic Congressional leaders are calling out U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Wheeler for knowingly deceiving the public and Congress on the proposed Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule.

      Senator Tom Carper, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Representative Frank Pallone, Jr., Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, sent a letter to Wheeler expressing concern that the EPA head “[has] made numerous public statements, including statements to Congress, that directly conflict with the information and analyses prepared by EPA’s career experts.”

    • SEIU passes resolution in support of Green New Deal

      Members of SEIU’s International Executive Board passed a resolution in support of the Green New Deal at the union’s board meeting in Minneapolis today. SEIU is the first national union to declare its support for the groundbreaking measure that aims to address climate change while creating high-quality union jobs.

      “We’ve been inspired by the fearlessness and courage of the climate change activists whose direct action and bold demands for change have put this issue front and center in the national conversation,” said Mary Kay Henry, the International President of SEIU. “The Green New Deal makes unions central to accomplishing the ambitious goal of an environmentally responsible and economically just society.”

    • ‘Fantastic… Who’s Next?’ SEIU First National Union to Endorse Green New Deal

      That was progressive writer Naomi Klein’s response to news Thursday that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) endorsed the Green New Deal. The SEIU, one of the largest unions in the country with more than 1.1 million members, is the first national labor union to endorse the proposed legislation, which would radically revamp the U.S. economy in a bid to combat the climate crisis.

      The union’s international executive board passed the resolution at a Thursday meeting in Minneapolis.

      “We need to combat climate change while raising standards for all working people,” the union said in a tweet.

    • Hey, Psst, Prince Charles: Here are Some Graphs on Global Heating that maybe Even Trump could Understand

      Trump says that a meeting with Prince Charles that was supposed to last for 15 minutes extended to an hour and a half conversation as the prince attempted to convince him of the reality of climate change.

      Prince Charles may as well have saved his breath. There are nothing but squirrels running around inside Trump’s brain case and it should have been apparent some time ago to anyone bothering to look that Trump doesn’t change his mind based on rational and fact-based argumentation. Had Prince Charles offered to slap “Trump Tower” atop Buckingham Palace and pay a healthy licensing fee, the might have gotten some attention from the Trumpster.

      As it was, Trump then went on television to be interviewed by one of the more morally corrupt figures anywhere in broadcast television, the sleazy Piers Morgan. It was a pairing made in heaven.

  • Finance

    • Trump’s Tariff War Is Bad for Everyone But His Friends

      Since time out of mind, presidents have deployed the “Hey, look over here!” tactic to distract the public from politically damaging stories. In less than three years, Donald Trump has raised the practice nearly to the level of performance art. His latest wingding over tariffs against Mexico, however, could have lasting repercussions both for his political standing and the national economy at large.

      It began, as it so often has since 2017, with former special counsel Robert Mueller, who gave a nine-minute statement on May 29 that was altogether bland to anyone who has actually read his report. “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime,” Mueller essentially recited from the text, “we would have said so.” Trump, who actually thought the report exonerated him because Fox News told him so, immediately began decompensating.

    • France: The Yellow Vests’ Missed Opportunity

      The Yellow Vests movement (Gilets jaunes) began in November 2018. Prior to the first occupations of roundabouts across France, a petition taking a stand against the rise of fuel prices was posted on line by a member of the public. Almost a million signed the text which was the springboard for the launch of the longest social movement in post-war France. (At the time of publishing the piece, the weekly demonstrations across France were still going on).

      The government’s decision in 2017 to cut the speed limit on country roads from 90 to 80km per hour was another factor in the rise of the Yellow Vests. People sympathetic to the movement saw it as a failure on the part of the government to understand the needs of rural residents who are totally reliant on their cars.

      The movement soon made further claims of a ‘progressive’ nature centred around the high cost of living. The Yellow Vests demanded the reintroduction of the tax on wealth (arguing that taxation is unfair as it falls on the working and middle classes), the increase of the minimum wage, or the implementation of the Citizen’s Initiative referenda. Protestors immediately got personal and called for the resignation of President Macron.

    • Getting Worse Part 3: TurboTax Wrapped Its Veterans Site In The American Flag And Then Tricked Soldiers Into Paying

      One of the most irritating aspects of our politically polarized reality is how that polarization seeps into everything. An example of that can be seen in the ongoing coverage, here and otherwise, of the complete shitshow Intuit has found itself in over how it has handled its TurboTax free-to-file taxes system. With all the best reporting coming from ProPublica, the whole thing started by exposing Intuit purposefully hiding the free-to-file website as best it could despite its obligations to Congress, got worse when Intuit’s support reps lied to customers about that reporting, and then got worse still when internal communications to Intuit staff carried the theme that Intuit was hiding its actually free program, but did so for the public’s own good. The result of all of this is that many people who qualify to file for free instead paid Intuit tons of money to file their taxes, all because the non-free website — which was massively branded with the word “free” — told them they didn’t qualify.

      But here’s where the polarization comes in. This story should have been met with outrage from across the political spectrum. Instead, probably because one side of the aisle has been pitching having the IRS do free-to-file itself, while the other side has been fear-mongering having a government agency do what it absolutely could be doing already, the outrage is about half of what it should be.

    • The Same Old Scare Tactic about Socialism

      I keep hearing a lot about “socialism” these days, mainly from Donald Trump and Fox News, trying to scare Americans about initiatives like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, universal child care, free public higher education, and higher taxes on the super-wealthy to pay for these.

      Well, I’m here to ask you to ignore the scaremongering.

      First, these initiatives are overwhelmingly supported by most Americans.

      Second, for the last 85 years, conservative Republicans have been yelling “socialism” at every initiative designed to help most Americans.

    • Trump’s Mexico Tariffs: A ‘Foolish’ Policy
    • Groundbreaking Reforms Could Finally Grant Protections to Farmworkers

      Many harvests have passed since the passage of the nation’s first modern labor laws, and all that time, generations of farmworkers have been shut out of bedrock federal labor standards, such as overtime pay and collective bargaining. But New York’s farmworkers may soon see a new dawn for labor rights, as lawmakers consider groundbreaking reforms and the courts open the door to unionization.

      On May 23, a landmark appeals court ruling effectively extended collective bargaining rights to the agricultural workforce under state law. Advocates want to take it further: They are pushing for a total overhaul of state labor law. The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act (FFLP) would allow farmworkers overtime compensation, a standard workweek with one day off, disability pay, improved workplace health and housing standards, and unemployment benefits. The bill has been repeatedly introduced and failed, but there’s renewed hope that a new Democratic majority in both chambers, plus the boost from the court ruling, will finally bring the bill’s passage this year.

      The state appellate court’s decision effectively invalidated a blanket exemption of farmworkers from the State Employment Relations Act. Labor rights advocates had sued in 2016 to challenge the exclusion — imposed during the New Deal, when farm labor was mostly done by Black farmworkers — as a violation of the right to organize, as well as the constitutional rights of due process and equal protection. Agricultural workers have always constituted some of the poorest, most disenfranchised workers in the state. The groups that spearheaded the lawsuit, the Workers’ Center of Central New York and Worker Justice Center of New York, argued that collective bargaining rights for farmworkers were a matter of both constitutional imperative and social justice.

    • ‘In Everyone’s Best Interests’: New Hampshire 20th State to Call for Constitutional Amendment Limiting Political Spending

      New Hampshire on Thursday became the 20th state in the U.S. to call for a constitutional amendment to allow limits on political spending.

      The state Senate passed the measure in a 14 to 10 vote, following the lead of the state House, which approved the resolution on March 7.

      The resolution, which aims to roll back the infamous Citizens United 2010 Supreme Court case that largely erased any limit on campaign spending, allows for legislators at the state and federal level to “regulate the role of money in elections and governance to ensure transparency, prevent corruption, and protect against the buying of access to or influence over representatives.”

      “No such regulation shall be deemed in violation of freedom of speech rights in the Constitution of the United States or its Amendments,” the bill reads.

      New Hampshire joins 19 other states and 803 localities in passing a resolution calling for restrictions in political spending—the total amount representing 46 percent of Americans, 141 million people, according to advocacy group United for the People.

    • Boeing, Obama, a Gold Watch, and 346 Dead

      Democrats want to make Donald Trump the issue in 2020.

      If they do, they will lose again, the way they lost in 2016.

      Instead, the 2020 election should be about corporate power in all of its manifestations, its hold on the culture, our country and both major political parties.

      Take the case of the two Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane crashes—the Lion Air crash off the coast of Jakarta, Indonesia in October 2018 that killed all 189 on board and the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019 that killed all 157 on board.

      During his time as President of the United States, Barack Obama promoted the sale of Boeing planes—including the 737 Max 8 planes—around the world.

      In November 2011, in Bali, Indonesia, President Obama announced an agreement between Boeing and Lion Air.

    • How Neoliberalism & Privatization are Driving our Crises, from Guatemala to Moscow

      To the corporate media, history goes back only as far as yesterday. Thus the media portray the chaos and violence in Central America as though this is just a case of stuff happens. Or all of a sudden millions decided to come north in search of a better life. And these exculpatory views survived even amidst the elevation of Elliott Abrams, the war criminal architect of brutal Central American policy late last century. It is imperative for peace and social justice activists to fill this gap and to ask just what stake media and elites have in continued amnesia.

    • Sanders Demands McConnell Allow Senate Vote to Raise ‘Absurdly Low’ Federal Minimum Wage to $15

      Sanders pointed out that the bill is poised for a floor vote in the House after being favorably discharged by a key committee, and several states—including Connecticut, California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York—already have enacted similar local measures.

      Noting that workers nationwide “have experienced 40 years of wage stagnation and roughly 40 percent of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency,” the senator wrote, “I ask that you allow the Senate to take up the Raise the Wage Act to immediately begin improving the lives of working Americans across the country.”

      The legislation, introduced by Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) in January, would increase the federal hourly minimum wage to “a living wage” of $15 by 2024, bar employers from paying tipped workers below the nationwide rate, and set standards for pay increases for low-wage workers.

      An Economic Policy Institute (EPI) analysis released in February showed that the bill would, as Common Dreams reported at the time, “boost the incomes and improve the lives of an estimated 40 million Americans.” The EPI report also explained that “because lower-paid workers spend much of their extra earnings, this injection of wages would help stimulate the economy and spur greater business activity and job growth.”

      The letter from Sanders on Thursday came just a day after he traveled to Arkansas to advocate for Walmart workers at the retail giant’s annual meeting. During a speech Wednesday, he said, “Walmart pays many of its employees starvation wages—wages that are so low that many of these employees are forced to rely on government programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and public housing in order to survive.”

    • Bernie Sanders Shames Walmart Executives for ‘Starvation Wages’

      Walmart shareholders got a surprising guest at their annual meeting Wednesday in Bentonville, Ark.: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The presidential candidate demanded that the company pay employees at least $15 an hour, and advocated for a proposal to allow hourly workers to join Walmart’s board of directors.

      Politico reports that Sanders was there as a proxy for Cat Davis, a Walmart employee and leader of United for Respect, a worker advocacy group that devised the proposal.

      [...]

      Walmart, in its first-ever Environmental, Social and Governance Report, claims that an average full-time store associate makes $14.25 an hour as of 2018—double the federal minimum wage. The report also says that the starting salary for associates is $11 and hour, but, as Inc. pointed out in a May 9 article, the report is “not comprehensive: It doesn’t include how much part-time associates make, and it’s unclear how many of Walmart’s 1.5 million U.S. employees are full-time workers.”

      According to United for Respect, half of Walmart’s workers are part-time employees.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Pelosi tells Dems she wants to see Trump ‘in prison’

      Speaker Nancy Pelosi told senior Democrats that she’d like to see President Donald Trump “in prison” as she clashed with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler in a meeting on Tuesday night over whether to launch impeachment proceedings.

      Pelosi met with Nadler (D-N.Y.) and several other top Democrats who are aggressively pursuing investigations against the president, according to multiple sources. Nadler and other committee leaders have been embroiled in a behind-the-scenes turf battle for weeks over ownership of the Democrats’ sprawling investigation into Trump.

    • Identity Groups = Market Shares = Class Division

      The divide and conquer tactics practiced by minority ruling powers are simply age-old class divisions forced on their majority subjects, but they have become more dangerous as imperial capitalism has entered a most critical period threatening more destruction than ever before. At a time when real global democracy is both more possible and necessary than ever, humanity is split into more sub-divisions than ever, with economic stratification disguised by group identity labels, most totally and a-scientifically as separate races. That is the way authority wants it and why it must be overcome before capitalism’s self-destructive roots become total reality and unity is finally achieved only to experience devastation with the belated realization that it is happening to all of us and not just some of us.

      The extreme emergency for the human race that has been given the brand name “climate change” and is a result of the compulsive over consumption exercised by perverse market forces under the control of minority private profiteering has been turned over to that same malevolent force for an alleged solution to the problem. This is like solving the problem of humans reduced to renting their bodies for sex by putting pimps in charge of the process. And further assuring that there will be no solution that doesn’t procure more private profits, the professional sex workers seeking liberation will be put into separate groups according to skin tones, religions, sexual sub-categories and any other measures of division to assure that they will not operate as a group confronting the same problems, no matter their alleged differences in how, where and under what circumstances the problems occur.

      The threat to humanity’s future by what is called climate change, originating in the nineteenth century at early stages of industrial capitalism and sited as long term danger to humanity by many at the time, has become far more obvious as the fossil fuel-carbon based economic engine of profit has spread further and farther than its European origins to represent a major threat to the future of the human race. This has made minority ruling power created divisions of the majority more important than ever, because in the past it only had to deal with rebellions in one nation at a time even if global philosophy was at their root, but now that capitalism has become a truly and obviously global system the opposition is also worldwide. But most important in the divisions created among us is the diabolically fictional and totally anti-scientific allegations of racial difference that exist to obscure our primary differences which are among economic classes.

    • Cults of Impeachment

      It is a giddy intoxicant, and making all who partake fall over in puddling nonsense. The Mueller Report is not turning out to be the cleansing agent any of its readers were hoping for. Originally encouraged to identify the cause behind Trumpland and its dark side, the agent of disaffection, the root of madness, it has done as much to disrupt as any Donald Trump show. The Democrats continue to fret about what to do, and find themselves squabbling.

      The Mueller Report, supposedly a document of deliverance, threatens to fracture the anti-Trump camp. A hard line on impeachment is being pushed by the snarlers, those of the Ocasio-Cortez camp, a reminder that youth and enthusiasm can lag behind wisdom and application. The centrists seem more uneasy about the whole thing, worried that such enthusiasm may serve to harden electoral resolve against them.

      Robert Mueller’s statement last Wednesday, announcing a closing of the Special Counsel’s Office and an overview of the report’s findings, was a brief recapitulation of furrowed ground. But, as ever, he left a few crumbs of excitement for those overly exercised about implications.

      As Mueller explained, indictments touching on Russian cyber intervention in the US elections of 2016 and a “social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to interfere in the election” did not entitle him to comment on guilt or innocence. Further investigation, he suggested, was required, leaving enough for Democrats keen on process to salivate.

    • A Second Israeli Election Proves Netanyahu’s Grip on Power is Slipping

      In a sign of how politically vulnerable he has rapidly become, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu plunged Israel into new elections last week – less than two months after his far-right bloc appeared to win at the ballot box.

      Netanyahu was forced to dissolve the 120-member parliament to block his chief rival, Benny Gantz, from getting a chance to assemble an alternative governing coalition.

      Gantz, a former army general who heads the Blue and White party, won 35 seats, the same number as Netanyahu’s Likud party, in the April election, but had fewer potential allies to form a majority. So in September, Israelis will cast their votes afresh.

      The ostensible reason for the parliament’s dissolution is a stand-off between Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, his former defence minister. They clashed over Lieberman’s insistence that ultra-orthodox Jews be drafted into the army.

      But Lieberman, it seems, chose to turn a relatively marginal issue into a full-blown crisis as a way to unseat the prime minister.

    • Ava DuVernay Captures the Atrocious Injustice of the Central Park Five Case

      It has been more than 30 years since a rape and attempted murder occurred in New York City that became known as the Central Park Jogger case. The crime itself was indescribably vicious; the miscarriage of justice that followed—with five African American and Latino boys who became known as the Central Park Five framed for the crime and sent to prison—remains a blight on the criminal justice system. The five boys spent years behind bars, losing their youth in the process. Eventually, their convictions were vacated after the actual perpetrator confessed in jail. His confession was supported by irrefutable DNA evidence. When the teens were first arrested, Donald Trump, then a New York real estate developer, actively campaigned for the death penalty for the young defendants, taking out full-page ads in all of New York City’s major newspapers. To this day, ignoring all evidence, President Trump maintains that they are guilty.

      [...]

      DuVernay spends significant time depicting how intensely the five boys were pressured by police to obtain coerced confessions. “This is about the criminal justice system,” DuVernay said on “Democracy Now!” “Each part of the series, or the four-part film, as I call it, is designed to take you deeper and deeper, to make you further acquainted with different aspects of the system as it stands today.”

      Linda Fairstein was head of the sex crimes unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. She is perhaps most known as the bestselling author of crime novels. In “When They See Us,” Fairstein, played by Felicity Huffman, is shown directing the coercion and attempting to block any due process for the powerless youths. After the series premiered on May 31, students at Vassar College, Fairstein’s alma mater, organized a petition drive that forced her to resign from the college’s Board of Trustees.

    • Does Biden Have Wrong Position on Anti-Choice Hyde Amendment? Warren: ‘Yes… It’s Been Wrong for a Long Time’

      Hours after Joe Biden’s presidential campaign reaffirmed the former vice president’s support for the anti-choice Hyde Amendment—which bars the use of federal funds for abortions—Sen. Elizabeth Warren made clear during an MSNBC town hall Wednesday night that she believes Biden’s position is wrong and deeply harmful to low-income women in particular.

      “Yes,” Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate, said without hesitation when asked by host Chris Hayes whether Biden’s position on the Hyde Amendment is wrong. “It’s been the law for a while, and it’s been wrong for a long time.”

      “Here’s how I look at this,” Warren said. “I’ve lived in an America where abortions were illegal. And understand this: Women still got abortions. Now, some got lucky on what happened, and some got really unlucky on what happened. But the bottom line is they were there.”

    • Does Truth Matter?

      Donald Trump has told 4140 false stories, made 12,538 untrue statements, and proposed 1177 unfulfilled promises as of late May 2019, according to PoltiFact, The Washington Postannounced that Trump reached the “unthinkable milestone” of 10,000 bogus claims on April 29, 2019. Yet, Trump continues to have 42% popularity ratings and a Yale economist, who predicted that Trump would win in 2016, predicts he will get 56.1% of the popular votes in 2020. And he is not alone in that prediction.

      Does truth matter? The obvious answer is yes. One of the basic fundamentals of the Enlightenment is the importance of truth. It is the basis of our Western educational system. It is what inspired the French philosophers to develop the Encyclopédie from 1751 to 1765. Its numerous articles on a wide variety of subjects opened a flourishing of reason that inspired the French Revolution. The Encyclopédists laid the groundwork for truth being an essential element in all aspects of our lives, including politics.

      In a fascinating recent article, historian Yuval Noah Harari explains “Why fiction trumps truth.” Harari’s point is that “we humans know many more truths than any other animal, but we also believe in much more nonsense. We are both the smartest and the most gullible inhabitants of planet Earth.”

      As opposed to the Enlightenment thinkers, Harari maintains it is not truth which is the basis of power. For him, fiction enjoys a comparative advantage over truth “in uniting people around a common story.” Since true stories may be disagreeable or even painful, fictional stories have the advantage of pleasing. “An American presidential candidate who tells the American public the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about American history has a 100 percent guarantee of losing the elections,” Harari wrote.

    • Cover Ups and Truth Tellers

      In a 22 May 2019 appearance in the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump declared that “I don’t do cover-ups.” Various news outlets immediately started to enumerate a long list of bona fide cover-ups associated with the president. What can one say about this bit of Trumpian nonsense? Can you accuse a person of lying who actually seems not to know the difference between truth and untruth? Trump’s inability in this regard is demonstrated daily, and the Washington Post fact checker puts the running count of presidential lies at 10,111, with no end in sight. When it comes to reality, the president appears to be a malignant version of Walter Mitty.

      Unfortunately, President Trump’s behavior is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cover-ups. One can surmise that just by virtue of being the head of the U.S. government, the president—any president—must be directly or indirectly associated with hundreds of such evasions. That is because, it can be argued without much paranoia, that every major division of the government is hiding something—particularly when it comes to foreign activities. Of course, being cover-ups by the government may make them appear acceptable, at least to a naive public. Many of them are rationalized as necessary for the sake of national “security.” And, of course, everyone wants to be “secure,” accepting the notion that ““people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” The fact that much of this violence is done to other innocent people trying to get a peaceful night’s rest is “classified” information. So woe be it to the truth tellers who defy these rationalizations and sound off. For they shall be cast out of our democratic heaven into one of the pits of hell that pass for a U.S. prison—or, if they are fleet-footed, chased into exile.

    • ‘Are You Kidding Me?’ Frustration Grows as Powerful House Democrat Refuses to Accept New York Offer of Trump Tax Returns

      Neal’s refusal to pursue Trump’s New York returns—which could contain similar information to the president’s federal tax returns—sparked anger from progressive activists and lawmakers, who argued the Ways and Means chairman should be using all of the power at his disposal to investigate Trump’s potential financial conflicts.

      “The Trump administration will stop at nothing to prevent the American people from seeing Donald Trump’s tax returns,” advocacy group Stand Up America told Common Dreams. “With Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin illegally blocking their release, Chairman Neal has no choice but to use every tool available to ensure that House investigators are able to uncover the truth about Trump’s conflicts of interests—including obtaining his state tax returns.”

      “As numerous tax experts and members of Congress have already laid out,” Stand Up added, “there is no reason for Chairman Neal to hesitate to use this law once it is enacted.”

    • The First Amendment Protects Ex-Politicians Too

      Most Americans loathe “lobbyists,” and most Americans think “bi-partisanship” sounds like a good, moderate idea representing compromise and common ground for the public good. So a surprise “bi-partisan alliance” between US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), with the proclaimed goal of passing a bill to ban politicians from working as “lobbyists” — maybe for life, maybe just for some long period — after leaving Congress was bound to get some good press.

      It’s a bad idea. It’s an unconstitutional idea. And it’s yet more evidence that “bi-partisanship” is almost always less about the common good than about the one value that America’s two largest political parties share: The desire to have the heavy hand of government make everyone else do things their way.

      What’s a “lobbyist?” Someone who “lobbies.” That is, someone who attempts to influence public policy.

      If you call your district’s US Representative or your state’s US Senator to ask for a yes or no vote on a bill, you’re lobbying that official.

      If you write a letter to the editor hoping to bring public pressure on government officials on an issue you care about, that’s lobbying too.

    • Warren and Jayapal Launch Probe into ‘Rapid, Cynical, and Unethical’ Profiteering Off Trump Child Detention Policy by Former Top Aide John Kelly

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) sent an open letter (pdf) to the head of Jim Van Dusen, the CEO of Caliburn International, which recently hired former Gen. John Kelly, who ran President Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security until January 2, 2019, and later became White House chief of staff.

      Caliburn manages Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. (CHSi). CHSi runs the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in Florida as well as three facilities in Texas. All four CHSi-run shelters are used to house child victims of President Donald Trump’s zero tolerance policy on migration. According to Warren and Jayapal, the Florida facility could receive $340 million in federal funding in just six months.

      In their letter to Van Dusen, Warren and Jayapal delivered a blistering assessment of Kelly’s time in the administration and questioned his role in the company.

      “General Kelly’s role in promoting and helping execute these cruel immigration policies remains a stain on his decades of public service,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is outrageous that he now appears to be cashing in on those same policies as a board member for the company that benefitted from his actions as a government official.”

      As Common Dreams reported last month, Kelly joined Caliburn in early May, a move that was described at the time by Ned Price, a former advisor to President Barack Obama, as “a new degree of cruelty and awfulness” in the revolving door between government and the private sector.

    • Pharma Giant Johnson & Johnson Continues Lobbying as Lawsuits Pile On

      The multi-billion dollar health and pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson went on trial in Oklahoma last week after the state accused the company of overproducing painkillers and contributing to the opioid epidemic that has claimed an average of 130 victims every day this year. In response to the pending litigation, the company on May 29 witnessed about a 4 percent plummet in shares.

      The pharmaceutical giant has been known to survive storms over its 133-year life — from links to cancer-causing asbestos in its talcum powder to the deadly 1982 sabotaging of Tylenol capsules. In an era of formidable scrutiny over the pharmaceutical industry’s complicity in the opioid epidemic, the supplier of household staples such as baby oil and powder, has continued to pour resources into lobbying and public campaigning to regain trust of both politicians and consumers alike.

      Although the pharmaceutical and health products industry has won the favor of numerous legislators in years past, the tide appears to be turning. At a Senate Finance Committee hearing in February, Senators grilled Johnson & Johnson executives alongside other pharmaceutical representatives over the skyrocketing price of drugs.

      The potential culture change in Congress comes as those in the pharmaceutical and health products industry contributed $16.9 million to members of the House and over $7 million to members the Senate just last year. That doesn’t include the $282 million spent on at least 1,450 registered lobbyists, making it one of the most commanding industries at the Capitol.

      Oklahoma’s lawsuit follows in the stead of other attempts by city and state governments to claim settlements from big pharma, or companies with hands in the production of the notorious OxyContin painkiller, including the Sackler family’s Purdue Pharma. For its part, the Oklahoma government contends it will use what it makes in the settlement for treatment programs and resources for its residents.

      This is not the first time Johnson & Johnson has battled lawsuits, accusing the company of failing to give consumers proper warnings of risks associated with their products. This year in St. Louis, a jury awarded $4.7 billion to 22 women who used Johnson & Johnson talcum powder and were later diagnosed with ovarian cancer, although the case is being appealed. A New York court followed on May 31, demanding the company pay $300 million in damages in another case related to the talcum powder.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube will remove thousands of videos supporting white supremacy, Nazis and conspiracy theories that deny the existence of mass shootings and other violent events

      The new policy, laid out in company blog post, will ban “videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.”

    • YouTube bans neo-Nazi and Holocaust-denial videos in push against hate speech

      YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet subsidiary Google and has been under pressure to ban more offensive content, said it will begin enforcing the updated policy today. “However, it will take time for our systems to fully ramp up, and we’ll be gradually expanding coverage over the next several months,” YouTube said.

    • Terrorist regulation: first assessment and next steps

      On Wednesday, April 17th, the European Parliament adopted on first reading the Regulation on online “terrorist content” censorship. By a very small majority, it refused to defend us against political censorship or to protect the free and open European web.

      The text still enables a judge or the police to ask any platform to delete contents within one hour, which no platform can do without using the automated filtering tools developed by Google and Facebook.

      Fortunately, the fight is not over: the text can still be modified in a second reading by the newly elected Parliament. It will be the decision of these new MEPs which will mark the end of the war. And we still have good reasons to hope that in the end, our freedom will prevail.

      To prepare this last battle, let us first take stock of the one that just ended.

    • Russian censorship agency threatens to block VPN services ‘within a month’ if they do not comply with its website blacklist

      Roskomnadzor head Alexander Zharov said in an interview with Interfax that nine VPN services may be blocked on Russian territory “within a month” if they do not comply with the federal censorship agency’s demands. Roskomnadzor contacted each of the VPN providers in question at the end of March 2019 to demand that they subscribe to its registry of banned websites within 30 business days. Only one, Kaspersky Secure Connection, has complied, Zharov said.

    • Journalist and Educator Among Those Caught Up in YouTube’s Latest Attempt to Purge Online Hate Speech

      Wednesday’s purge came after days of sustained criticism over YouTube’s handling of bigoted content produced by fringe alt-right commentator Steven Crowder that targeted Vox media personality Carlos Maza. After nearly a week of online outrage, YouTube demonetized Crowder’s channel and then launched a site-wide cleanup of what the company defined as hate speech and targeted harassment.

      But the purge also caught journalists and historians up in its wake as the tech giant’s heavy-handed response to Crowder’s harassment didn’t allow for context in most of the content.

      The most prominent of those voices swept up in the purge thus far is Ford Fischer, a video journalist who reports on extremism in U.S. politics on his YouTube page, News2Share.

      Fischer’s page was demonetized Wednesday at 1:25 PM for promoting “harmful or hateful content,” though what that content was is unclear, he told Common Dreams.

      “Their explanation was extremely vague and offered no specifics,” said Fischer. “I haven’t heard from them since then.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Microsoft Deletes 10 Million Images Of Popular Celebrities [Ed: Microsoft is a #urveillance company; it could use this to get more ICE contracts for institutionalised racism]
    • Warning of ‘Surveillance Capitalism’ Nightmare, Big Tech Investor-Turned-Critic Pushes Toronto to Abandon ‘Smart City’ Waterfront Development

      The proposed 12-acre Quayside neighborhood is a project of Sidewalk Toronto, a partnership between Sidewalk Labs—a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet—and Waterfront Toronto, which was established by the governments of Canada, Ontario, and Toronto to shepherd development alongside Lake Ontario.

      Quayside would consist of both retail and housing, and serve as a sort of trial run for Sidewalk Toronto, which ultimately aims to construct similar developments that would supposedly “achieve precedent-setting levels of sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity” across more than 800 acres of the city’s Eastern Waterfront.

      In a letter Tuesday to members of the Toronto City Council’s executive committee—who discussed the project at a meeting Thursday—McNamee wrote that “the ‘smart city’ project on the Toronto waterfront is the most highly evolved version to date of what Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff calls ‘surveillance capitalism.’”

    • Same Problem, Different Day: Government Accountability Office Updates Its Review of FBI’s Use of Face Recognition—and It’s Still Terrible

      This week the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued an update to its 2016 report on the FBI’s use of face recognition. The takeaway, which they also shared during a Congressional House Oversight Committee hearing: the FBI now has access to 641 million photos—including driver’s license and ID photos—but it still refuses to assess the accuracy of its systems.

      According to the latest GAO Report, FBI’s Facial Analysis, Comparison, and Evaluation (FACE) Services unit not only has access to FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) face recognition database of nearly 30 million civil and criminal mug shot photos, it also has access to the State Department’s Visa and Passport databases, the Defense Department’s biometric database, and the driver’s license databases of at least 21 states. Totaling 641 million images—an increase of 230 million images since GAO’s 2016 report—this is an unprecedented number of photographs, most of which are of Americans and foreigners who have committed no crimes.

    • EU countries seek to revive controversial data retention law

      The saga began in 2014, when the CJEU struck down the EU data retention directive.

    • New York State’s Privacy Law Would Be Among The Toughest In The US

      A few years ago, you might (or might not) recall that telecom lobbyists convinced Congress to kill some fairly modest FCC privacy rules before they could even take effect. The rules would have required that broadband providers transparently disclose what consumer data is being collected and sold, and to which companies. It also required that consumers opt in to the sharing of more sensitive financial or location data. Those rules, had they survived, would have gone a long way in protecting consumers from the endless location data scandals that have plagued the industry in the two years’ since.

      In the wake of obvious federal apathy to crafting meaningful privacy rules for the location data and social media age, numerous states have begun crafting their own privacy rules… with mixed results. California’s privacy proposal, for example, is well intentioned but rushed and overcooked. ISPs have been quick to breathlessly complain about the rise of such state efforts, ignoring that they likely wouldn’t be happening if they hadn’t lobbied to crush the FCC’s privacy rules.

    • AG William Barr Doesn’t Want The Government Spying On The President But Thinks It’s OK If It Spies On Everyone Else

      Let me restate that: William Barr is opposed to certain, very narrow subsets of domestic surveillance. Specifically, Barr doesn’t think the government should have spied on Trump and his campaign staff, if that’s what actually happened, which Barr doesn’t actually seem to know.

      But if you’re literally anyone else, domestic surveillance is just another name for national security, whether you’re a random Verizon customer or one of the world’s most useful websites.

      The Wikimedia Foundation sued the federal government over domestic surveillance back in 2015. The suit lives on four years later, thanks to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recognizing the Foundation had stated enough credible facts to be granted standing. The fight continues, with Barr’s DOJ reiterating its original point that there’s nothing wrong with spying on Americans when national security is on the line.

    • 5 Best Facebook Alternatives to Protect Your Privacy in 2019

      When we talk about Social Networking sites, the first thing that comes up to our mind is “Facebook”. It is Facebook which in reality introduced millions of people to the Social Networking world. But, today a lot of people are deleting their Facebook account or have become inactive.

      The main reason behind this is privacy. While we already knew that Facebook uses our data, the recent Facebook-CA scandal has made a lot of us look for its alternative.

      So if you are one of those who love Social Networking sites but are scared about the privacy part, then you are at the right place!

    • How Apple’s New ‘Find My’ Tracks Your iPhone Even When It’s Offline

      As rumors suggested, Apple merged its ‘Find My Friends’ and ‘Find My iPhone’ app into a new app called ‘Find My.’ Today, Apple has detailed to Wired how the app works and how it tracks devices by deploying a genius cryptography even when they are offline. The new ‘Find My’ app uses Bluetooth signals from nearby Apple devices to track your device without any cellular connectivity.

      When Craig Federighi described the app and its functioning at WWDC 2019, he said that the app uses an “end-to-end encrypted and anonymous” mechanism that ensures that only you can track your device and not even Apple can identify its location.

    • Facebook’s Triple Woes Over Cambridge Analytica Data Harvesting Scandal

      Earlier this week, Techdirt wrote about a defeat for Facebook in the Irish courts. In fact, the case in question is not about Facebook itself, but about transatlantic data transfers. Facebook will certainly have some problems if the EU’s top court goes on to rule against the Privacy Shield framework — the real issue here — but it won’t be alone. Moreover, if that were the company’s only problem, it probably wouldn’t cause Mark Zuckerberg to lose much sleep. However, it is far from his only headache. Recently, no less than three decisions specifically about Facebook were handed down, all related to the by-now infamous Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal, and all going the wrong way for Zuckerberg.

    • Technotyranny: The Iron-Fisted Authoritarianism of the Surveillance State

      Red pill or blue pill? You decide.

      Twenty years after the Wachowskis’ iconic 1999 film, The Matrix, introduced us to a futuristic world in which humans exist in a computer-simulated non-reality powered by authoritarian machines—a world where the choice between existing in a denial-ridden virtual dream-state or facing up to the harsh, difficult realities of life comes down to a red pill or a blue pill—we stand at the precipice of a technologically-dominated matrix of our own making.

      We are living the prequel to The Matrix with each passing day, falling further under the spell of technologically-driven virtual communities, virtual realities and virtual conveniences managed by artificially intelligent machines that are on a fast track to replacing us and eventually dominating every aspect of our lives.

      Science fiction has become fact.

      In The Matrix, computer programmer Thomas Anderson a.k.a. hacker Neo is wakened from a virtual slumber by Morpheus, a freedom fighter seeking to liberate humanity from a lifelong hibernation state imposed by hyper-advanced artificial intelligence machines that rely on humans as an organic power source. With their minds plugged into a perfectly crafted virtual reality, few humans ever realize they are living in a dream world.

      Neo is given a choice: to wake up and join the resistance, or remain asleep and serve as fodder for the powers-that-be. “You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe,” Morpheus says to Neo in The Matrix. “You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

      Most people opt for the red pill.

    • Amazon’s helping police build a surveillance network with Ring doorbells

      While residential neighborhoods aren’t usually lined with security cameras, the smart doorbell’s popularity has essentially created private surveillance networks powered by Amazon and promoted by police departments.

      Police departments across the country, from major cities like Houston to towns with fewer than 30,000 people, have offered free or discounted Ring doorbells to citizens, sometimes using taxpayer funds to pay for Amazon’s products. While Ring owners are supposed to have a choice on providing police footage, in some giveaways, police require recipients to turn over footage when requested.

      [...]

      When police partner with Ring, they have access to a law enforcement dashboard, where they can geofence areas and request footage filmed at specific times. Law enforcement can only get footage from the app if residents choose to send it. Otherwise, police need to subpoena Ring.

    • The Haves and Have-Nots of Big Data

      The global dimension of Big Data is written into the very nature of the system. Because data-analysis systems need data on noncitizens, they require extensive data-sharing—after all, the whole point is to stop threats before they arrive at your door. This generates networks of exclusion. One data analyst, David Coleman at Novetta Mission Analytics, described this new kind of division to me in an interview as a global firewall—i.e., a virtual wall between states that share data and those that don’t.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Thirty Years After Tiananmen Square, China is Richer—But Not Remotely Free

      Three decades on from the nationwide crackdown that resulted in casualties and thousands of arrests, the families who lost children continue to face surveillance and harassment as the authorities continue to suppress their campaign for justice. Even the mere mention or commemoration on the internet of the Tiananmen crackdown risks heavy retaliation. Meanwhile, activists continue to be detained and denied their fundamental human rights because of vague charges of subversion of the state.

      Since then, you’d be hard pressed to find any serious analysts who still believe economic prosperity has led to a more liberated China. Instead, China has been emboldened to infringe on the rights of its own people at home and abroad, cracking down on burgeoning civil society and activists, and undermining international human rights institutions as a means of subjecting its people under its control.

    • A Saint, a German and the Kurdish Quest for Freedom

      First about a shop that serves falafels at Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington, DC. On one of its walls hangs a sign with a quote: “I love my country… but I think we should start seeing other people.”

      For Americans who have a country, the quote is whimsical. But for Kurds, who are forced to share their homeland with others, it reflects our reality. Kurds who live with Turks must learn Turkish (as a price of going out with Turks), but very few Turks bother to learn the language of our mothers.

      The same rule applies to Kurds with Arab neighbors in the South (although it is a bit relaxed right now) and Persians in the East. I don’t have definitive facts, but I suspect that more of us have married the daughters of our neighbors than our neighbors have married our sisters.

      This lopsided commerce in love and languages hasn’t ushered in the dawn of Kurdish freedom. If we aren’t learning liberty from our neighbors, isn’t it our right to look beyond them for alternative role models?

      The old Saint Christopher of Anatolia might be a good place to start. His story is apocryphal, but it provides lessons for Kurds who feel trapped between a rock and a hard place.

      He was born in Canaan before the birth of Mohammad, and after that of Christ. Turks were then living on the border of China and the Greek language was the lingua franca of Anatolia bordering our homeland.

      His parents named him Offero, some sources say Reprobus. He grew into a giant of a man with a fearsome countenance and developed an incurable desire to serve the most powerful man on earth.

    • Air Force Approves Historic Religious Accommodation for Active Sikh Airman

      It’s time for all branches of the military to fall in line and allow the faithful to serve without violating their religious beliefs.
      As we mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day this week, we honor the ultimate sacrifice that so many have made for this great country. The men and women who join our armed forces and put themselves in harm’s way to defend this nation are beacons of courage. Their gender, the color of their skin, or whom they love should have no bearing on their ability to serve. Nor should their religion.

      That’s why, today, we celebrate the latest milestone in our quest for true religious diversity and equality in the military: the U.S. Air Force’s recent granting of an accommodation to our client, Harpreetinder Singh Bajwa, to be the first Sikh active-duty airman to serve with a beard, turban, and unshorn hair.

      Even though Sikhs have long served in the armed forces of some of our closest allies — including Canada, Great Britain, and India — opportunities in the United States military today have been uneven at best. The Army has led the way in granting religious accommodations, though it took an ACLU lawsuit in 2015 to solidify that progress. After reviewing hundreds of pages of evidence, a federal court dispelled the myth that grooming and uniform accommodations granted to soldiers may impede the military’s ability to achieve its mission or cause any other danger or harm.

      Indeed, the U.S. military has already granted hundreds of thousands of exceptions to its appearance policies, allowing everything from full-sleeve tattoos to beards for those with a sensitive-skin condition. As a result, the court explained, the Army could not legally justify denying our client a religious accommodation.

    • “Massacre” in Sudan: Protesters Continue Call for Civilian Rule After Military Kills 100+ at Sit-in

      The death toll in Sudan has risen to more than 100 following a deadly military raid on a nonviolent sit-in in Khartoum Monday morning. According to doctors who have been taking part in the ongoing anti-government uprising, at least 40 bodies were dredged up from the Nile River in the aftermath of the carnage. Meanwhile, the state news agency reported Thursday that the death toll was no more than 46. On Wednesday, the Transitional Military Council said it had launched an investigation into the violence and offered to resume a dialogue on a transition to democracy, just a day after scrapping all agreements with an opposition alliance. But the opposition has rejected the military’s calls to negotiate, citing ongoing violence against civilians. Demonstrators from a range of civil society groups are continuing to demand a civilian transitional government following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in April, after a months-long popular uprising, and the military’s subsequent government takeover. We speak with Marine Alneel, a Sudanese activist recently back from Khartoum. She was at the sit-in just days before it was raided.

    • Meet the Animal Rights Activists Facing Prison Time for Rescuing Ducks, Piglets from Factory Farms

      Nearly 100 animal rights activists were freed today, after being arrested by police in riot gear for carrying out a rescue mission and protest at the Reichardt Duck Farm in Petaluma, California, which they accuse of engaging in animal torture. More than 600 activists with Direct Action Everywhere stormed the slaughterhouse Monday, fanning out in teams to chain themselves together at the entrance, freeing dozens of ducks and in some cases locking themselves by the neck to the slaughter line. Several of the activists made it inside the slaughterhouse, where they began trying to rescue ducks that were hanging upside down by their feet. Inside the slaughterhouse, the activists began using U-locks on their own necks, locking themselves to the metal duck slaughtering production line. An employee of the slaughterhouse then turned on the belt, threatening the lives of the activists and nearly asphyxiating Thomas Chiang, who was dragged by the neck and wedged against a metal pole. Chiang was later taken away by ambulance and treated for nerve damage and severe pain. He’s since been released from the hospital. We speak with Priya Sawhney and Wayne Hsiung, co-founders and lead organizers at Direct Action Everywhere. Hsiung was arrested during Monday’s action and was released late Wednesday. He is facing a total of 17 felony charges in jurisdictions around the country for his animal rescue actions. Sawhney is also facing felony charges.

    • Harvard Was Wrong to Dismiss its Dean for Representing Harvey Weinstein

      Last month, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana announced that Ronald Sullivan, a professor in the law school, would no longer serve as faculty dean of Winthrop House, a residential dorm at Harvard. Sullivan was the first African American to serve as a faculty dean and had served in that role at Winthrop House for a decade. But when he chose to join the legal team defending Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in his upcoming criminal trial on allegations of sexual assault, his decision sparked protests and sit-ins, as students demanded his ouster as dean. In the end, Harvard caved to the pressure.

      The decision sacrificed principles central to our legal system.

      The ACLU is committed to fighting sexual assault, in the workplace, the home, on campus, and in the world at large. At the same time, Weinstein, like every person accused of a crime, is presumed innocent in his criminal case unless he pleads or is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Commitment to that principle, and to the system mandated by our Constitution, means we are equally devoted to the principle that every criminal defendant, no matter how vilified, no matter how innocent or guilty, and no matter how poor or rich, deserves a lawyer. If the latter principle is to be respected, it is essential that society not conflate a criminal defense lawyer’s representation with his or her client’s acts.

      ACLU lawyers, for example, have successfully represented convicted sex offenders challenging the inhuman and onerous conditions imposed on them after they have served their time. We defend men held at Guantanamo accused of terrorism. We have defended dozens of men on death row who have been found guilty of brutal murders. And we have advocated for the First Amendment rights of Ku Klux Klan members, flag-burners, and Nazis.

    • What Happens When Native Women Come Forward With Harassment Complaints

      Manning began working in 2010 as a social sciences instructor at the Tiospa Zina tribal controlled Bureau of Indian Education school on the Sisseton Wahpeton Reservation in South Dakota. She is a member of the Shoshone Paiute Tribes of Nevada and Idaho. As one of only a handful of Native teachers among “TZ” school’s certified instructors, Manning taught classes in tribal government, American Indian history, sociology and psychology. Passionate about teaching from an Indigenous perspective, she advocated for greater inclusion of culture and language in classes and supported student efforts to challenge the use of Native mascots in neighboring school districts. She served on the School Improvement Team for three years, working closely with school superintendent Roger Bordeaux who was hired in 2015. Bordeaux of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe holds a Ph.D. and Master of Arts degree from the University of South Dakota in Education Administration and is a well-known figure in Indian education with a history of pushing for inclusion of Native language and culture in schools. He is also the director of the Commission for Oceti Sakowin Accreditation, an organization that provides Native-focused accreditation for tribal schools.

      Manning worked closely with Bordeaux, meeting with him weekly as part of the School Improvement Team. Together they drafted a resolution urging schools to drop the use of Native mascots for the South Dakota High School Activities Association. The association adopted the resolution in 2016. Bordeaux praised Manning’s work and asked her to collaborate with him on other projects such as calling attention to Native needs on education bills before the state legislature.

      “He made me feel valued and supported,” Manning said.

    • The Unbearable Cluelessness of Being: En Route To the Hague!

      It was bad enough the whole tacky grifter clan crashed the palace party in the U.K. on the taxpayers’ dime – to the gaudy tune of at least $3.5 million – prompting many to wonder why the oafish Beavis, Butthead, Tiffany et al were all there, primping and posing in their gauche Dynasty-cum-Beverly Hillbillies outfits and setting new records in the annals of white trash nepotism. It became that much more heinous when the Sociopath-In Chief, in his ongoing quest to inflict cruelty on poor brown people, moved to strip English classes, legal aid, recreation programs and anything else “not directly necessary” from kids held in our concentration camps for (entirely legally) seeking a better life – with many wondering when food and water would be next.

      [...]

      Ivanka was heading to an entrepreneurs’ summit, because she plays one on TV. She evidently had no clue the Hague is home to the International Criminal Court, where most of the civilized world, devoutly wishing it to be, think she and her venal family belong. Thus, was she deliciously pilloried: “Fingers crossed…So you waived extradition…What are the charges…Voluntary surrender – didn’t see that coming…Nice! Hopefully next stop will be Rikers…I hope the trial is swift and justice is served… Criminals incoming. Detain at once. We need you, Signed America…Where you actually belong, you fauxministic, fraudulent, sweatshop-owning shanda spawn. Shame on you all.” In the wake of the latest three deaths in three days of innocent people in U.S. custody – a 40-year-old Honduran woman, a 33-year-old Salvadoran man, a 25-year-old transgender woman from El Salvador – the most devastating response came from Walter Shaub, honoring the youngest victims of this vile regime: “Juan de León Gutiérrez (age 6); Jakelin Caal Maquin (age 7); Felipe Gómez Alonzo (age 8); unidentified Guatemalan girl (age 10); Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez (age 16); and unidentified Guatemalan child (age 2).” Truly, the Hague is too good for these monsters.

    • FSB arrests members of 15 Jehovah’s Witnesses communities in Dagestan

      FSB employees have arrested the leaders and members of 15 Jehovah’s Witnesses groups in the Northern Caucasian republic of Dagestan.

      Representatives of the agency claimed that those arrested had organized “conspiratorial gatherings with the aim of studying extremist literature and coordinating actions to spread the organization’s ideology” for several years.

    • NYPD Apologizes for ’69 Raid of Stonewall Inn

      Nearly 50 years after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn catalyzed the modern LGBT rights movement, New York’s police commissioner apologized Tuesday for what his department did.

      “The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong, plain and simple,” Commissioner James O’Neill said during a briefing at police headquarters.

      “The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive,” he added. “And for that, I apologize.”

      The apology comes weeks ahead of the milestone anniversary of the raid and the rebellion it sparked the night of June 27-28, 1969, as patrons and others fought back against officers and a social order that kept gay life in the shadows.

      Organizers of what is expected to be a massive LGBT Pride celebration in the city this year had called this week for police to apologize. So had City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is gay.

      The Pride organizers cheered O’Neill’s remarks.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Siemens asserting Chinese wireless patents against four local mobile firms
    • Solicitor General Weighs-In on Prior Art Date of Provisional Applications

      The basic answer that we received from the Federal Circuit is “sometimes.” A provisional application will only count as “prior art” as of its filing date if the later published application (or issued patent) sufficiently supports all of the claims in the resulting non-provisional application as published (or issued patent).

      This impacts a large number of US patents: Although I have not recently measured, I my expectation is that most non-provisional patent applications add some amount of new matter beyond their provisional priority documents. If that new information makes it into some of the claims — the result is that the provisional filing date will be immaterial with regard to prior art (under current Federal Circuit precedent).

      CVSG: The petition for certiorari is well written, and the Supreme Court called for the views of the Solicitor General. The SG has now submitted his brief — joined by the USPTO — suggesting denial of cert.

    • The ‘Non-Discriminatory’ Prong is ‘Essential’ to FRAND Evaluation – Unwired Planet v Huawei – Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf

      In its latest FRAND judgment the Düsseldorf appeal court confirmed that in the context of FRAND evaluation the emphasis shall be – in contrast to English practice – on the ND (‘non-discriminatory’) prong of FRAND. The decision was rendered on 22 March 2019 in the appeal proceedings between Unwired Planet and Huawei (OLG Düsseldorf, court docket: I-2 U 31/16). The written judgment is now available.

      The Düsseldorf appeal court found that Unwired Planet did not comply with its FRAND obligations because it had not sufficiently shown that its license offer to the defendants was non-discriminatory compared to previous licenses granted for the SEP. The approach of the German court on FRAND issues is different from that of the English court which in the parallel litigation between the same parties determined the terms of a FRAND royalty itself, taking a more generous view on the aspect of different treatment of licensees and putting a particular emphasis on the ‘fair and reasonable’ prong of FRAND (see Kluwer post from Pat Treacy, Sophie Lawrence, Francion Brooks and Helena Connors). Unlike courts in other jurisdictions, the German courts have so far never determined the FRAND royalty themselves. Rather, German judges have expressed the view that the parties are in the best position to negotiate FRAND royalty rates, and only their compliance with the Huawei v ZTE negotiation framework as set out by the CJEU (case C-170/13) will be reviewed by the German courts.

    • Lawyers say German compulsory licences will remain difficult after ruling

      Germany’s top court has refused a request for a compulsory licence, a decision that reaffirms the high bar that must be met, according to German and UK lawyers

      Germany’s Federal Court of Justice refused Sanofi’s request for a compulsory licence for a cholesterol treatment that it produces, a ruling that goes against speculation that such licences might have become more common in Germany.

    • Xlear, Inc. v. STS Health, LLC (D. Utah 2019)

      Plaintiff Xlear initiated the dispute between the parties when it filed suit against STS for infringement of the ’143 patent. In response, STS filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the asserted claims were directed to the naturally occurring product xylitol, which was administered using well-understood, routine, conventional activity previously engaged in by researchers in the field. The District Court denied the motion, finding that the ’143 patent did not claim the naturally occurring product xylitol/xylose, but rather was directed to a method for delivery of the xylitol/xylose to clean out the nasopharynx in a human. The Court also found that STS had not presented evidence of similar applications of xylitol prior to the ’143 patent. STS then filed its motion for summary judgment that the asserted claims were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 for failing to recite patent eligible subject matter, citing seven issued patents as evidence that the nasal administration of xylitol/xylose was well-known, conventional, and routine when Xlear filed the application that issued as the ’143 patent.

      [...]

      The District Court concluded its opinion by noting that “[a]s the Previous Order determined under the first step of the Alice Framework, the claims of the ’143 patent do not point to patent ineligible subject matter,” and finding that “[t]he ‘143 Patent is therefore not invalid under § 101.” The Court therefore denied STS’s motion for summary judgment.

    • Supreme Court to Revisit Abrogation of State Sovereign Immunity From IP Infringement [Ed: Patent extremists still hope this case can help prop up a #patent scam of charlatans and frauds (one that landed a legal threat on my door)]

      17 U.S.C. § 511(a). In doing so, the District Court broke with the Fifth Circuit and several district courts throughout the country that have ruled the statute is invalid.

      The Fourth Circuit reversed. The Fourth Circuit found that its “conclusion is required by Florida Prepaid.” 895 F.3d 337, 351 (4th Cir. 2018). As in Florida Prepaid, the Fourth Circuit ruled that Congress did not have the authority to abrogate immunity from copyright infringement under the Copyright Clause, Commerce Clause, and Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

      The Fourth Circuit rejected Allen’s reliance on a 2006 Supreme Court case, Central Virginia Community College v. Katz, 546 U.S. 356, in which the Court upheld abrogation of state sovereign immunity under the Bankruptcy Clause. According to the Fourth Circuit, Katz’s holding “was made in a completely distinguishable context that was unique to the Bankruptcy Clause.” 895 F.3d at 348.

      It is interesting that the Court decided to grant cert. in Allen v. Cooper. Lower courts that have addressed copyright abrogation appear to have uniformly followed Florida Prepaid. But the composition of the Court has significantly changed since Florida Prepaid was decided. Florida Prepaid was decided by a 5-4 majority in 1999 and only one Justice from the majority, Justice Thomas, remains on the Court. Similarly, only two of the dissenting Justices in Florida Prepaid remain on the Court, Justices Ginsburg and Breyer.

      The Court’s grant of cert. in Allen v. Cooper also stands in contrast to the Court’s denial of cert. in April in the tribal immunity case Saint Regis Mohawk v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, No. 18-899. There, the Federal Circuit ruled that the Tribe was not immune from inter partes review in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

    • Trademarks

      • ASUS Banned From Selling ‘ZenFone’ And ‘ZenBook’ Devices in India

        As part of a lawsuit filed by Telecare Network, Taiwanese company ASUS has been banned from selling its devices — smartphones and laptops — under its ZenFone and ZenBook series in India.

        As per the lawsuit, it is suggested that Zen and Zen Mobiles are trademarks owned by Telecare Network since 2008 and have been selling the devices under the series.

      • Activision Shouts ‘First Amendment’ Over Humvee’s Trademark Lawsuit For Call Of Duty Depictions

        If we were to judge the success of a video game by just how many times a particular series had appeared in Techdirt posts, Call of Duty would be one of the contenders for the top rank. Publisher Activision has been on both ends of absurd IP issues, facing publicity and trademark attacks from historical figures over depictions in the game series, while also occasionally mulling trademark actions against non-competitors over poo-puns.

        Well, Activision once again finds itself on defense in a trademark lawsuit over the game series, this time brought by famed military auto-maker Humvee. In its warfare series, which aims to be a realistic artistic expression of armed conflict, Humvees of course make regular appearances. The vehicles are ubiquitous on any battlefield in which America participates. Activision, in a motion for summary judgement, has asked the court to view all of this as an attack on the First Amendment rights the publisher enjoys.

    • Copyrights

      • New Canadian Report Offers Balanced Recommendations for Progressive Copyright Reform

        The INDU report is a breath of fresh air for copyright policy making, especially considering the recent adoption of the backward-looking reform in the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which included the provision that will require nearly all for-profit web platforms to get a license for every user upload or otherwise install content filters and censor content, lest they be held liable for infringement.

        Creative Commons and Creative Commons Canada provided input into the consultation on the copyright reform in Canada. In May 2018 we submitted comments to INDU. First, we said the Canadian copyright term should stay where it is; there is no reason to consider any further extension of copyright. Second, we urged the government to protect and strengthen limitations and exceptions to copyright, as these important measures ensure balance in our legal framework. Third, we advocated for Canada to maintain and maintain and improve its existing safe harbour protections with regard to intermediary liability and copyright, noting that a healthy commons requires a healthy ecosystem of platforms and infrastructure for sharing. Finally, we urged the government to continue to support policy efforts to ensure open access to publicly funded resources, including clarifying that we have a right to use and re-use works produced by our government.

        Additionally, in October 2018 Creative Commons Canada appeared before the Committee to provide testimony and answer questions on recommended changes to copyright that would promote creativity and expand the commons. In addition to the issues mentioned above, CC Canada touched on other areas for copyright intervention, including permitting creators to reclaim control of copyright in their works 25 years after assignment, protecting fair dealing, especially for education, expanding user rights to kickstart cutting-edge research related to machine learning and artificial intelligence by ensuring that “the right to read is the right to mine, and reforming the Crown Copyright regime to ensure that all Canadians have the right to access and re-use government produced works.

      • Sampling Mumbo Jumbo: Minecraft YouTuber receives copyright claims on hundreds of videos in a matter of hours

        In the early morning hours of May 19, 2019, popular Minecraft YouTuber, Mumbo Jumbo received a torrent of email notifications which alerted the YouTuber that his videos were facing copyright claims. The emails persisted until more than 400 videos were claimed; the claims were likely automated, coming from Warner Chappell Music at a rate of 30 claims per minute. Mumbo Jumbo initially disputed these claims, noting that he had a written agreement to use the allegedly-infringing intro song, Can’t stop me by ProleteR. ProleteR, however, had sampled Gene Chandler’s 1967 song, Nothing Can Stop Me, which Warner Chappell owns; he did not receive sample clearance for use in online videos (perhaps not at all) and Mumbo Jumbo’s videos were claimed as a result. Now, Mumbo Jumbo must begin the laborious process of rectifying his catalogue of videos, one at a time.

        [...]

        Google addresses copyright claims on YouTube through a variety of tools. While copyright owners may file takedown notices directly, qualifying copyright owners, “like a record label” may take advantage of an automated service that seeks to identify content that incorporates the claimed work. The aptly-named Content ID will scan YouTube automatically for possible infringement, prompting the copyright owner with the option to block, monetize, or merely track the videos that the service identifies. Owners may also mute the sound in the video, geo-block the video, or restrict the devices on which the video can be viewed.

        In response, the allegedly-infringing creator may remove or replace the music (if applicable), agree to share revenue with the claimant, dispute the claim, or accept the claim and do nothing. Disputing the claim gives the original claimant 30 days to respond, otherwise the claim expires; if the claimant upholds the claim, they may either issue a takedown on the video subject to an appeals process. If a takedown is issued, the infringing creator receives a copyright strike; while YouTube states that these strikes act “as a warning,” they may affect a creator’s “ability to monetize” and prompt a 90-day ban on livestreaming and archived livestreams if the infringement took place in such a stream.

        Repeated copyright claims have more significant consequences: creators who receive three copyright strikes are subject to a permanent ban from future uploading, their channels are subject to termination, and their videos are subject to removal. Much like in baseball, three strikes means “you’re out!” After 90 days, copyright strikes expire if the infringing creator completes YouTube’s Copyright School; the program consists of a Happy Tree Friends animation focused on U.S. copyright law and a four-question multiple choice quiz regarding infringement and licensing. As Article 17 of the new Digital Single Market directive may require some degree of “preventative or repressive action regarding copyright infringement” on the part of Google, and as YouTube continues to grow, the efficiency and effectiveness of current copyright enforcement measures is in need of close examination.

        [...]

        He also recommends considering the possibility that the sampled work itself sampled another prior work; American rapper, Logic faced this problem when sampling Can I Kick It by A Tribe Called Quest, which itself sampled Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side. Although traditionally a concern for music producers, Mumbo Jumbo shows us that sample clearance has necessarily become the purview of YouTube creators as well.

      • Terminating Subscribers Doesn’t Stop Pirates, Charter Argues

        Charter Communications has responded to the piracy liability lawsuit filed by a group of prominent record labels. The ISP filed a motion at a Colorado federal court, asking it to dismiss the vicarious liability claims. Charter argues that it doesn’t directly profit from copyright-infringing subscribers, nor does it have the ability to control them.

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