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06.14.19

Links 14/6/2019: Xfce-Related Releases, PHP 7.4.0 Alpha

Posted in News Roundup at 5:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • CERN ditches Windows and embraces open source to save cash

    Last year, the company launched the ‘Microsoft Alternatives Project’ to examine ways that the company could work smarter by switching to Linux-based operating systems. Its initial goal was to “investigate the migration from commercial software products (Microsoft and others) to open-source solutions, so as to minimise CERN’s exposure to the risks of unsustainable commercial conditions.”

    Also to ‘seek out new life and new civilisations, to bol….

    Sorry, that’s Star Trek. Moving on then.

    CERN appears to be one of the first major organisations switching to Linux as an alternative to switching to Windows 10 ahead of Windows 7 reaching end of life next January.

  • CERN plans to ditch Microsoft’s software after losing its academic status [iophk: "long overdue"]

    CERN previously could use Microsoft’s software products such as Windows at a heavily discounted rate for decades thanks to its status as an academic institution. But the research organization said Microsoft’s decision to revoke that status has forced it to look elsewhere, as it reckons it simply cannot afford its standard license fees any more.

  • CERN is moving away from expensive Microsoft software and embracing open source

    CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research best known for its particle smashing Large Hadron Collider — has decided to eschew Microsoft in favor of open source software.

    For many years, CERN benefited from hefty discounts on Microsoft products, but this is coming to an end. Rather than paying hugely increased licensing fees, the organization is instead implementing its own Microsoft Alternatives project, known as MAlt. CERN says it is “taking back control using open software”.

  • CERN leaves Microsoft programs behind for open-source software

    We all use open-source software every day. What? You don’t? Have you used Google, watched a Netflix show, or liked a buddy’s Facebook post? Congrats, you’re an open-source user.

    But, true, most of us don’t use end-user open-source software every day. Even staffers at CERN, one of the world’s great research institutions, don’t — and they run the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator, on it. But, on the desktop, they use Microsoft-based programs like many users around the globe. That’s changing now.

    Beginning a year ago, CERN launched the Microsoft Alternatives project (MAlt). The name says it all.

    CERN wants to get away from Microsoft programs for a very prosaic reason: To save money.

  • CERN Is Looking At Microsoft Alternatives

    CERN is the home to the internet and also Higgs Boson, the ‘god’ particle. As we all know open source software is at the heart of all the scientific work that CERN does. It uses technologies like OpenStack and Kuberentes.

    However, when it comes to user-facing applications that are used by scientists, researchers, and employees – they run on Microsoft technologies such as Windows, Skype and so on.

    Microsoft offers a discount to academics and research organizations that brings the cost down as these organizations run hundreds, if not thousands of client machines. CERN has been using Microsoft technologies for over 20 years under a discount rate of being an academic institution”.

  • CERN Chooses Open Source And Ditches Microsoft Software

    Apart from the secure nature of the open source software, many organizations also make the switch to cut operating costs. Just last month, we reported that the Indian state of Kerala is saving about $430 million by using a Linux-based operating system in its schools.

    In a related development, The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) is all set to ditch Microsoft software and adopt the open source alternatives. This shift has been planned in the wake of the tenfold increase in Microsoft’s licensing costs. Earlier, CERN enjoyed discounted academic institution pricing, which expired in March.

    CERN has also published a blog post on its website that describes the organization’s plan to adopt open source software more widely and get things “back in control.” Notably, CERN has been working on a project called The Microsoft Alternatives project (MAlt) for over a year to look for the perfect alternatives.

    The post mentions that MAlt’s aim is to minimize CERN’s exposure to “risks of unsustainable commercial conditions” and help other public research institutions that also face a similar kind of situation.

  • Desktop

    • System76′s supercharged Linux-powered Gazelle laptop is finally available

      Today is Thursday, which is one of the worst days of the week. I mean, I suppose it is better than Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but it can’t hold a candle to Friday, Saturday, or Sunday — otherwise known as the weekend. So, yeah, Thursday is typically not something to get excited about.

      With all of that said, today is a pretty special Thursday for the Linux community. Why? Well, the System76 Gazelle laptop is finally available! This is a laptop we reported on last month, and at the time, System76 only promised it would be available in June 2019. Well, June 13 of 2019 is apparently the exact day it goes on sale, as you can get it now.

    • System76′s Supercharged Linux-powered Gazelle Laptop is Finally Available

      It ships with Ubuntu or Pop!_OS pre-installed and starts at $1099.

    • Best Linux-Centric File Managers for Chrome OS

      I recently covered how to install Linux on Chromebook and you can check it out here. Today, let’s divert our attention to the File Manager in Chrome OS.

      Chrome OS is a beautiful Operating System (as is expected of all Google products) and it houses a responsive file manager for navigating its file trees.

      While it works excellently on Chrome OS which it was designed for, navigating Linux directories with it doesn’t feel as “Linuxy” and it can be helpful to install a Linux-centric file manager to eliminate that need.

    • Proposed Chrome OS 78 change will use the Files app to restore Linux containers on Chromebooks

      Chrome OS 74 brought the ability to backup and restore Linux containers on a Chromebook. It’s handy and it works. However, to use it, you have to go to the Linux settings in Chrome OS, which isn’t ideal.

    • Lenovo’s 2019 ThinkPad P Series Lineup: OLED, RTX Quadro, Ubuntu, and More

      All P Series mobile workstations can also be configured with either Windows (up to Windows 10 Pro) or Ubuntu, making these a powerful mobile option for Linux users.

  • Server

    • RHEL 7.7 Beta Available

      Red Hat has announced the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7 beta. It’s the last update in the Full Support Phase of RHEL 7 branch.

      Key updates include support for the latest generation of enterprise hardware as well as remediation for the recently-disclosed Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS)/ZombieLoad vulnerabilities.

      RHEL 7 was released back in 2014 and full support is offered for 5 years, which includes all new features and software functionality.

    • Ruby 2.6 now available on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7

      Red Hat Software Collections supply the latest, stable versions of development tools for Red Hat Enterprise Linux via two release trains per year. As part of the latest Software Collections 3.3 release, we are pleased to share that Ruby 2.6 is now generally available and supported on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.

    • How Unicef Is Using Big Data To Close The Education Divide

      Given that challenges around education are only growing, Unicef and Red Hat hope to expand the platform over the coming months.

      Palau Montava says: “We have a pipeline of interested countries that want to be involved, so we anticipate the project will continue to grow. It’s an exciting time to be building these open source projects, and we think they will continue to change the world.

      The school mapping project forms part of the wider Magic Box platform that Unicef will continue to invest in. “Magic Box is an open source collaborative platform where partners like Red Hat share their data and expertise for public good. It’s this great place to harness real-time data generated by the private sector to give organizations like Unicef critical insights,” concludes Palau Montava.

    • UPS delivers Agile plan for legacy application modernization

      The switch from Db2 and mainframe application code allowed UPS to access the data through open source Linux systems and host the data on open source Linux container orchestration systems, namely Red Hat OpenShift. This platform is also easier to update frequently and iteratively, as applications change through automated Jenkins CI/CD pipelines, Jani said.

    • Red Hat Takes Home a Trio of CODiE Awards

      It was a big awards night for Red Hat, recently, as three of our products won best in category business technology awards. The 2019 SIIA CODiE Awards have been distributed for over 30 years, now. They are the only peer-recognized program in the business and ed tech industries. In the words of the awards body, “Each CODiE Award win serves as incredible market validation for a product’s innovation, vision and overall industry impact.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Zorin OS 15 + LineageOS | Choose Linux 11

      Zorin OS is described as “a powerful desktop you already know how to use.” It’s elegant, beginner-friendly and looks beautiful, too. Should we be paying more attention to it?

      Then in another first, Jason installs his first alternative mobile OS, and Joe gives advice on getting the most out of LineageOS.

      Unfortunately we end the episode by saying goodbye to Jason as he moves on to pursue several independent projects, but the show will go on with the same spirit of discovery and newness!

    • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S12E10 – Salamander

      This week we’ve been playing with tiling window managers, we “meet the forkers”, bring you some command line love and go over all your feedback.

      It’s Season 12 Episode 10 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

    • 2×53: The Route of All Evil
  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel Set To Expose Hidden NVIDIA HDA Controllers, Helping Laptop Users

      If you are a user of the open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” Linux graphics driver on laptops and have found no audio support, that is likely to be fixed by an upcoming kernel patch that should make its way to the Linux 5.3 kernel.

      Modern NVIDIA GPUs have an onboard HDA controller but primarily in the case of recent notebooks, they tend to be hidden — depending upon a bit in the GPU configuration space it’s possible to “hide” the controller. When it’s hidden, the controller won’t get initialized and you’ll lose out on functionality like HDMI audio.

    • Linux 5.3 Kernel Picking Up Support For ACRN Guest Hypervisor Support

      The Linux 5.3 mainline kernel will be picking up support for enabling Linux guests on the ACRN hypervisor.

      ACRN is the lightweight hypervisor announced by Intel last year during the Embedded Linux Conference. ACRN is a lightweight hypervisor focused on real-time and safety-critical workloads and optimized with IoT deployments in mind. Those unfamiliar with ACRN can learn more at ProjectACRN.org.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Apple Joins Open Source Organization CNCF

        It’s well known that Apple not only uses but also contributes to many open source projects. You may not know but Siri, the virtual assistant of Apple, is powered by Apache Mesos.

        Apple heavily contributes to the open source projects they use. Unlike many other companies, Apple doesn’t like to talk much about it.

        The first time I saw Apple booth at any Open Source conference was at KubeCon in Seattle last year.

    • Graphics Stack

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Picks Up Fixes For Vega M Hardware

        While Vega M has been on the market for several months as the Radeon graphics processor found on Intel Kabylake-G chips, interestingly in the past few days have been a number of improvements for using the open-source Linux graphics stack on this hardware.

        A few days ago I reported on Vega M support coming to the ROCm compute stack. The latest improvement now for Vega M with Linux graphics are some practical RADV Radeon Vulkan driver fixes.

      • New GFX1011 / GFX1012 Targets Appear In AMDGPU LLVM Compiler Backend

        To date the open-source AMD “Navi” graphics code inside their LLVM compiler back-end has been focused on the “GFX1010″ target but now it’s been branched out to also GFX1011 and GFX1012.

        We now know the initial Navi/GFX10 products to be the Radeon RX 5700 and Radeon RX 5700XT. We are still waiting to see the full open-source Linux driver code in full while over the past two days we’ve seen more AMDGPU LLVM GFX10 code continue to drop.

      • MoltenVK 1.0.35 Brings Many Additions & Improvements For Vulkan On macOS
      • It’s The Season For Cleaning & Restructuring Within The Intel Linux Kernel Graphics Code

        With Intel’s Icelake/Gen11 graphics support considered production-ready when on the latest Linux graphics driver components and ahead of the real enablement around their highly anticipated Xe Graphics discrete hardware, it’s making for a summer of clean-ups and restructuring within their kernel Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver.

        There’s still bug fixing and other minor work going into the Intel Gen11 Linux graphics driver code (along with new PCI IDs and the like), but now with the driver developers in the period between introducing major generational work and in particular Intel’s dGPU plans that will require a lot of new driver code, there’s been a lot of low-level code clean-ups and restructuring going on within the i915 DRM driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • What is new in KDE Plasma 5.16

        In this video, we look at some of the new features in KDE Plasma 5.16.

      • June 2019 Krita Development Update

        Time for another development update. The last one was in April. We skipped reporting on May, because doing a release takes a lot of time and effort and concentration! And then we had to do a bugfix release in the first week of June; the next release, Krita 4.2.2, will be out by the end of this month.

        We’re still fixing bugs like crazy, helped by long-standing community member Ivan Yossi, who started fixing bugs full-time in May, too.

        But then, we’re also getting a crazy number of bug reports. Honesty compels us to say that many of those reports are not so very valuable: there are many people with broken systems who report problems that we cannot solve in Krita, and many people report bugs without telling us anything at all. Hence we created a manual page on reporting bugs! But there are also many helpful bug reports that give us a chance to improve things.

      • June installment of KDE Plasma5 for Slackware, includes Plasma 5.16

        Sometimes, stuff just works without getting into kinks. That’s how I would like to describe the June release of Plasma5 for Slackware, KDE-5_19.06.

        I built new Plasma5 packages in less than two days. I did not run into build issues, there was no need for a bug hunt. The Ryzen compiled and compiled, and then the power went out in the building today… but still, moments ago I uploaded KDE-5_19.06 to my ‘ktown‘ repository. As always, these packages are meant to be installed on a full installation of Slackware-current which has had its KDE4 removed first. These packages will not work on Slackware 14.2.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • Educational Operating Systems: What Are They? [Ed: Seems like an old article. Plagiarism? Some of the named distros no longer exist.]

      To start with our list, let’s talk about one of the more popular educational operating systems, EduBuntu. Does the name sound familiar, well this OS is a variation of the popular Windows alternative, Ubuntu. It’s built on the reliable Linux system and is supported by a strong Linux community.

      The software was built from kids aged 6 to 18. The system was built in collaboration with Educators around the world to ensure that the system serves its purpose as a great education source for kids. The system is built for teachers in mind as well as you don’t need a lot of technical knowledge to set it up in your computer lab or PC.

      Edubuntu comes packed with a number of useful education programs such as the KDE Edutainment application suite. What we love about this OS is that there is no need to reformat your PC if it’s already running Ubuntu. You can simply turn the Ubuntu software into Edubuntu through a series of steps.

    • Reviews

    • New Releases

      • Endless OS 3.6.0 Released, which is based on the forthcoming stable release of Debian “buster”

        The Endless development team have proudly announced the new release of Endless OS 3.6.0 on 10 June, 2019. It is identical to 3.6.0~beta2.

        Endless OS is based on the Debian GNU/Linux distribution, which is featuring a streamlined and simplified desktop environment forked from GNOME.

        This release is based on the upcoming stable release of Debian “buster”. It is featuring GNOME 3.32, and Linux kernel 5.0.

        This brings new features, performance improvements, hardware support and bug fixes.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • New node.js LTS, GNU Debugger, libvirt Updates Arrive in Tumbleweed Snapshots

        One of those key packages was an update of the GNU Debugger, gdb 8.3, which was released in the 20190607 snapshot. The debugger enabled ada tests on ppc64le and riscv64; multitarget builds for riscv64 were also enabled. The snapshot also added unit test for Logical Volume Manager (LVM) over Modular Disk (MD) with the update of libstorage-ng 4.1.127. Several patches and bug fixes were applied with the update of libvirt 5.4.0, which also made an improvement to avoided unnecessary static linking that results in both the disk and memory footprint being reduced. Libvirt also introduced support for the md-clear CPUID bit. The python-libvirt-python 5.4.0 package added all new Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and constants in libvirt 5.4.0. Text editor vim 8.1.1467 had multiple fixes, but the Tumbleweed snapshot introduced some new bugs and is currently trending at an 86 rating, according to the snapshot reviewer.

        The two previous snapshots recorded an exceptional stable rating of 98 according to the snapshot reviewer.

        Snapshot 20190606 updated just two packages. The nodejs10 package put out a new upstream Long-Term-Support (LTS) version with nodejs10 10.16.0, which upgraded upgrade openssl sources to 1.1.1b and libuv to 1.28.0. The other package update in the snapshot was xfdesktop 4.12.5; the package for the Xfce 4 Desktop Environment fixed icon sizes in settings, reset the desktop icon order and fixed a timer leak.

    • Fedora

      • Modularity vs. libgit

        Fire! Libgit can’t be installed, module changes are being temporarily reverted, and one of our great contributors are thinking about moving their packages out of Fedora.

        This blog post has been written to summarize the problem, explain how we got here, offer potential solutions that would work right now, and to set a common ground for a discussion on the devel list about how to address this and similar problems properly.

      • The Fedora distribution Allows user to install multiple version of RPM packages using Modularity Repository

        The Fedora distribution has introduced a new concept called Modularity Repository, which enables Fedora users to install different versions of a package from the distribution’s repositories.

        This is not added recently in Fedora, it was shipped with Fedora 28 server edition as an optional repository with additional content.

        A lot has changed since then, and now Modularity is a core part of the Fedora distribution.

    • Debian Family

      • Bits from Debian: 100 Paper cuts kick-off

        Is there a thorny bug in Debian that ruins your user experience? Something just annoying enough to bother you but not serious enough to constitute an RC bug? Are grey panels and slightly broken icon themes making you depressed?

        Then join the 100 papercuts project! A project to identify and fix the 100 most annoying bugs in Debian over the next stable release cycle. That also includes figuring out how to identify and categorize those bugs and make sure that they are actually fixable in Debian (or ideally upstream).

        The idea of a papercuts project isn’t new, Ubuntu did this some years ago which added a good amount of polish to the system.

      • Candy Tsai: Outreachy Week 4: Weekly Report

        Just a normal weekly report this week. Can’t believe I’ve been in the Outreachy program for a month!

      • CVE-2019-0201 : Debian has Released Security Update for zookeeper

        Debian has released security update for zookeeper package.

        This release fixes vulnerability against zookeeper package.

      • Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, May 2019

        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Devs Testing Chromium Browser Transition From Deb To Snap Package

            Ubuntu will soon offer Chromium browser as a snap package instead of a regular deb package. This is not only for the upcoming Ubuntu 19.10 Eoan Ermine, but also for the already released Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo), and for LTS releases, like Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic Beaver).

            For a fist step, the Chromium deb package in Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) has been updated to install the stable snap on both upgrade or a new install. Once the transition is fully tested, “it will be rolled out to stable releases, starting with disco and then the LTSes”.

            After this, Chromium will no longer be available as a deb package for Ubuntu users, installing the snap package being the only option.

            Ubuntu developer Olivier Tilloy mentioned that the transition from deb to snap is not being debated though, as it’s “a firm plan that will eventually save a lot of engineering, builder and maintenance resources by removing the need to build every new version of chromium on all supported Ubuntu releases”.

          • Inkscape Founder & X.Org Veteran, Bryce Harrington, Rejoins Canonical

            As a win for the Ubuntu Server team, the founder of Inkscape and longtime X.Org/graphics developer Bryce Harrington has returned to Canonical.

            Bryce Harrington is the founder of the popular Inkscape vector graphics program, former engineer at the legendary Open Source Development Labs, and worked at Canonical for six years as the Ubuntu X.Org lead before joining the Samsung Open-Source Group a number of years ago where he worked on Wayland and more. On top of that, he’s a current X.Org Foundation board member. But with the Samsung OSG effectively dead and Bryce not being there since the end of 2018, he’s now found himself back at Canonical.

          • New release: Vanilla framework 2.0

            Over the past year, we’ve been working hard to bring you the next release of Vanilla framework: version 2.0, our most stable release to date.

            Since our last significant release, v1.8.0 back in July last year, we’ve been working hard to bring you new features, improve the framework and make it the most stable version we’ve released.

            You can see the full list of new and updated changes in the framework in the full release notes .

          • DJI incorporates Canonical’s Ubuntu operating system into new Manifold 2

            Canonical’s Ubuntu, the Linux operating system for IoT, has now been made available on the Manifold 2.

            As part of the offering, the Manifold 2 will also feature Canonical’s snaps technologies which are containerised software packages, designed to work perfectly across cloud, desktop, and IoT devices.

            DJI says the ability to add multiple snaps means a drone’s functionality can be altered, updated, and expanded over time.

            Depending on the desired use case, enterprises can ensure the form a drone is shipped in does not represent its final iteration or future worth.

            Snaps also feature enhanced security and greater flexibility for developers meaning drones can receive automatic updates in the field, which will become vital as enterprises begin to deploy large-scale fleets.

          • DJI & Canonical bring Ubuntu to the Manifold 2

            Drones, and their wide-ranging uses, have been a constant topic of conversation for some years now, but we’re only just beginning to move away from the hypothetical and into reality. The FAA estimates that there will be 2 million drones in the United States alone in 2019, as adoption within the likes of distribution, construction, healthcare and other industries accelerates.

            Driven by this demand, Ubuntu – the most popular Linux operating system for the Internet of Things (IoT) – is now available on the Manifold 2, a high-performance embedded computer offered by leading drone manufacturer, DJI. The Manifold 2 is designed to fit seamlessly onto DJI’s drone platforms via the onboard SDK and enables developers to transform aerial platforms into truly smarter drones, performing complex computing tasks and advanced image processing, which in-turn creates rapid flexibility for enterprise usage.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Customisable for the enterprise: the next-generation of drones

      Drones, and their wide-ranging uses, have been a constant topic of conversation for some years now, but we’re only just beginning to move away from the hypothetical and into reality. The FAA estimates that there will be 2 million drones in the United States alone in 2019, as adoption within the likes of distribution, construction, healthcare and other industries accelerates.

      Driven by this demand, Ubuntu – the most popular Linux operating system for the Internet of Things (IoT) – is now available on the Manifold 2, a high-performance embedded computer offered by leading drone manufacturer, DJI. The Manifold 2 is designed to fit seamlessly onto DJI’s drone platforms via the onboard SDK and enables developers to transform aerial platforms into truly smarter drones, performing complex computing tasks and advanced image processing, which in-turn creates rapid flexibility for enterprise usage.

    • 4-channel temp measurement HAT can be stacked eight high per Pi

      MCC has released a stackable, $149 “MCC 134 Thermocouple Measurement HAT” for the Raspberry Pi with 4x isolated, 24-bit thermocouple inputs and a thermocouple detection feature.

      Measurement Computing Corp. (MCC) has launched its third DAQ HAT for the Raspberry Pi, this time taking on temperature measurement. The $149 MCC 134 Thermocouple Measurement HAT follows its MCC 118 voltage measurement DAQ HAT with eight ±10 V inputs and sample rates up to 100 kS/s and its MCC 152 voltage output and digital I/O HAT with dual 0-5 V analog outputs at up to 5 kS/s and 8x configurable DIO.

    • Banana Pi M4 launches for $38 with M.2, 40-pin, and PoE

      SinoVoip has launched its previously revealed “Banana Pi BPI-M4” SBC for $38. The Raspberry Pi-like board runs Linux on a quad -A53 Realtek RTD1395 and offers HDMI, M.2, WiFi/BT, 40-pin GPIO, PoE, and 5x USB ports.

      When SinoVoip announced its Banana Pi BPI-M4 in February, it suggested the board would be coming soon. As it turned out, four months have passed, but the BPI-M4 is now available for $38 with 1GB RAM and 8GB eMMC on AliExpress.

    • Mini Type 10 and Compact Type 6 modules tap Apollo Lake

      Like Ibase’s Qseven form-factor IBQ800 module, its new COM Express modules are equipped with Intel’s Apollo Lake generation. As usual, Ibase makes no mention of OS support, but Linux should be right at home here. The ET875 and ET870 both have a wide temperature range and 15-year lifecycle longevity.

    • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • ‘He is innocent’: Assange ally Ola Bini imprisoned in Ecuador takes case to UN

    Mr Bini’s lawyers have since referred the case to the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which investigates arbitrary arrests and detention around the world.

    [...]

    “What the judge said when he was in court last was astonishing. He said that Bini cannot be released because he has not been able to determine what crime he has committed or who has been subjected to it,” he said.

  • 10 Best Free Human Resource Management Software

    It wasn’t too long ago that we published an article on the best open source accounting software for Linux. Today, we’re concentrating on software that’ll enable you to manage your Human Resources efficiently.

    Human resource management is difficult irrespective of whether you’re running a small or large business. Most HR tools require a subscription plan or one-time fee but there are a good number of alternatives that are available at little to no cost.

    As I usually do, here is my list of the best HR management software and they are all free.

  • Events

    • Learning by teaching, and speaking, in open source

      When Jenny Han wrote these words, I doubt she had the open source community in mind. Yet, for our group of dispersed nomads, the summer brings a wave of conferences that allow us to connect in person.

      From OSCON in Portland to Drupal GovCon in Bethesda, and Open Source Summit North America in San Diego, there’s no shortage of ways to match faces with Twitter avatars. After months of working on open source projects via Slack and Google Hangouts, the face time that these summer conferences offer is invaluable.

    • Linux Plumbers Conference: Live Patching Microconference Accepted into 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference

      We are pleased to announce that the Live Patching Microconference has been accepted into the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference! There are some workloads that require 100% uptime so rebooting for maintenance is not an option. But this can make the system insecure as new security vulnerabilities may have been discovered in the running kernel. Live kernel patching is a technique to update the kernel without taking down the machine. As one can imagine, patching a running kernel is far from trivial. Although it is being used in production today[1][2], there are still many issues that need to be solved.

    • Virtual event: Conquer complexity with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8

      Since the general release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, we’ve had great response from those of you who have downloaded the product and used our complimentary RHEL 8 resources. RHEL 8 is the most developer-friendly version ever, but you may still have questions.

      [...]

      In addition to development, topics will include management, scalability, performance, workloads and migration, security, and deploying to a hybrid cloud.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 76 Beta: dark mode, payments, new PWA features and more

        Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to the newest Chrome Beta channel release for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, macOS, and Windows. Find more information about the features listed here through the provided links or from the list on ChromeStatus.com. Chrome 76 is beta as of June 13, 2019.

      • Chrome 76 Beta Brings Dark Mode Media Query, Other Improvements

        Following last week’s release of Chrome 75, Google today issued the first public beta for the Chrome 76 web-browser.

        The Chrome 76 browser now supports the “prefers-color-scheme” media query that can be used if wanting to implement a dark mode for a web-site to match any dark theme/mode of the device / operating system.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Security Blog: Updated GPG key for signing Firefox Releases

        The GPG key used to sign the Firefox release manifests is expiring soon, and so we’re going to be switching over to new key shortly.

        The new GPG subkey’s fingerprint is 097B 3130 77AE 62A0 2F84 DA4D F1A6 668F BB7D 572E, and it expires 2021-05-29.

      • Happy BMO Push Day!
      • Extensions in Firefox 68

        In Firefox 68, we are introducing a new API and some enhancements to webRequest and private browsing. We’ve also fixed a few issues in order to improve compatibility and resolve issues developers were having with Firefox.

  • LibreOffice

    • Comparing LibreOffice 6.2 Versions: AppImage, Flatpak, and Snap

      LibreOffice for GNU/Linux nowadays is available in 3 different universal formats, as alternative to the native format (DEB and RPM). This is an advancement that benefits us all greatly. Those 3 are AppImage, Flatpak, and Snap formats, sorted alphabetically. We, GNU/Linux users in many different distros, can obtain latest LibreOffice safely from one same source, by using one among these AFS methods. It is interesting for me to compare LibreOffice 6.2, the latest stable version now, by installation procedures, size, execution time, menubar, theme, access rights, and drag-and-drop. To make this comparison, I use Ubuntu 18.04 64-bit installed in Minimum Mode (without LibreOffice). I hope this comparison gives everybody good sight to both LibreOffice (the program) and AFS (the package formats).

    • bibisect-linux-64-6.4 is available with KDE5 support!

      The LibreOffice Quality Assurance ( QA ) Team is happy to announce the bisect repository from libreoffice-6-3-branch-point to latest master is available for cloning from Gerrit. As a novelty, this repository adds support for KDE5 environment.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Rosanne DiMesio is Conservancy’s New Technical Bookkeeper

      We’re excited to announce that we’ve hired Rosanne DiMesio to be our new Technical Bookkeeper. Rosanne is a longtime volunteer with the Wine project ( which was one of Conservancy’s founding member projects) where she focuses her efforts on making things easier for users. She is also an Outreachy (also a Conservancy project) graduate who completed her internship working with Wine on improving their Applications Database (AppDB). Rosanne has done many different things during her career, including working as an English teacher and doing tech support for emergency response services. She brings her passion for free software and her care for new free software users to the role at Conservancy.

      “Rosanne has been an incredible force for good within the Wine project. I am delighted to know that my fellow Conservancy project members are going to get the benefit of her organization and insight; this is a huge win for Conservancy.” says Jeremy White, a member of the leadership committee for the Wine project and CEO of CodeWeavers.

    • Doom Remake 4 shuts down due to cease and desist from Zenimax [Ed: GPL compliance]
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open hardware for musicians and music lovers: Headphone, amps, and more

        The world is full of great open source music players, but why stop at using open source just to play music? You can also use open source hardware to make music. All of the instruments described in this article are certified by the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA). That means you are free to build upon them, remix them, or do anything else with them.

  • Programming/Development

    • PyCharm 2019.2 EAP 3 is here

      Third PyCharm 2019.2 EAP is out and we’re happy to share with you a whole bunch of new features and improvements.

    • Intel Itanium IA-64 Support To Be Deprecated By GCC 10, Planned Removal In GCC 11

      Intel announced at the start of the year their newest Itanium 9700 “Kittson” processors from 2017 would be discontinued with no planned successor for the IA-64 line-up. Given the IA-64 compiler support is already in rough shape for GCC, the GNU developers are planning to deprecate the support for the current GCC 10 cycle and to remove it entirely for GCC 11.

      It’s looking like the GCC compiler toolchain support won’t live much beyond next year, which is also when Intel will honor the last orders for the IA-64 9700 series processors. GCC 10 will debut around the start of Q2’2020 while GCC 11 with the IA-64 support likely removed would be out in Q2’2021 given their normal release cadence.

    • IPython is still the heart of Jupyter Notebooks for Python developers

      The fact that Jupyter Notebook and IPython forked from the same source code made sense to me, but I got lost in the current state of the IPython project. Was it no longer needed after The Big Split™ or is it living on in a different way?

    • “Python Workout” is Manning’s Deal of the Day!
    • Learn PyQt: Create custom Widgets in PyQt5 with this hands-on tutorial
    • Playing with Python strings, lists, and variable names — or, a complex answer to a simple question
    • Introduction to Bash Shell Parameter Expansions
    • Working around the BASH brace expansion rule

      Brace expansion in BASH is a neat way to build a Cartesian product, like all the combinations of a set of first names and a set of last names. Just put the sets inside curly braces as comma-separated lists.

    • Tensors: Are they scalars, vectors or matrices?
    • PHP 7.4.0 alpha 1 Released

      PHP team is glad to announce the release of the first PHP 7.4.0 version, PHP 7.4.0 Alpha 1. This starts the PHP 7.4 release cycle, the rough outline of which is specified in the PHP Wiki.

    • PHP 7.4 Alpha Released With FFI Extension, Preloading Opcache For Better Performance

      he first alpha release of PHP 7.4 is now available ahead of its feature freeze next month and after a period of betas and release candidates will culminate with the official PHP 7.4.0 release around the end of November.

      While we are looking forward to PHP 8.0 with its JIT and more as the eventual successor to 7.4, the PHP 7.4 release is bringing many notable additions to make for an exciting release. Among the work in PHP 7.4 at this point includes:

      - The preload feature that can significantly improve the performance of PHP on web servers by preloading functions/classes that will survive as long as the web server is active to avoid recompilation or checking to see if the source file(s) were modified. This can yield 30~50% speed-ups in initial tests.

    • You Can Build Games Without Programming With Google Game Builder

      Here’s a piece of great news if you love to play games and have a couple of kickass ideas for a new game — Area 120, Google’s internal workshop for experimental projects, has showcased its latest prototype called Game Builder to help you make your own game.

      What sets Google’s Game Builder apart is that no prior programming knowledge is needed to use this tool and turn your ideas into reality. Google calls it a way to enter a real world and create a game with your friends in real-time.

    • Building Restful API with Flask, Postman & PyTest – Part 1 (Read Time: 6 Mins)

      For the first part of the 3 part series of the building Restful API with Flask, Postman and PyTest.

      I will be covering the explanation of the libraries and tools used to create a expenses manager project based upon Testing Python Applications with Pytest so that you will understand why you might use these tools or libraries as part of your development process to develop APIs in Flask.

    • What is a Java constructor?

      Java is (disputably) the undisputed heavyweight in open source, cross-platform programming. While there are many great cross-platform frameworks, few are as unified and direct as Java.

      Of course, Java is also a pretty complex language with subtleties and conventions all its own. One of the most common questions about Java relates to constructors: What are they and what are they used for?

Leftovers

  • Robotic process automation (RPA) metrics: How to measure success

    You’ve identified a business process to streamline with robotic process automation (RPA) and decide it’s time to move forward. How will you know if it’s working as intended?

    As with any significant undertaking, you need to define how to measure your results. Assuming things go well and you’re beginning to achieve your intended goals, measurement will also be key to optimizing for additional gains – and bolstering the ongoing business case for automating additional processes, especially if you face skeptics in your organization.

  • Science

    • Paper publication prior to PhD thesis submission rule may go

      “The measurement of scientific success and its intertwining with the scientific publishing industry has changed the evaluation in science and scientific publishing,” Prof. VijayRaghavan says. “The large volume of publications and our self-imposed metrics of success has conflated quantisation with measuring quality, and precision with accuracy. How much and where you have published is what is looked at. This must change, bottom-up and top-down.”

    • On burnout, and getting past it

      Burnout is an interpersonal phenomenon. It stems from the interactions and relationships between people. Different people define it differently, but the short explanation from World Psychiatry sums it up well: “A clear link has been found between a lack of control and burnout.”

      The article goes on to say: “On the contrary, when employees have the perceived capacity to influence decisions that affect their work, to exercise professional autonomy, and to gain access to the resources necessary to do an effective job, they are more likely to experience job engagement.”

      In other words, when you work hard but feel ineffective, burnout takes over.

      Some burnout-prone careers include information technology, information security, and emergency medicine. In my early career as an EMT, there were plenty of outcomes that I felt I had no control over. I did my best and worked quickly but situations occasionally turned for the worse.

      Being busy is not a cure, but a symptom. A great article from the Harvard Business Review links busyness with a phenomenon called “tunneling,” where a person deeply focuses on one part of their work and loses sight of the bigger picture—or the “why” behind what they do. Research from the Scientific American Mind suggests that we lose 13 – 14 IQ points when we are stuck in this “busyness paradox.” That means an average person loses over 10% of their overall cognitive ability.

    • India Will Soon Launch Its Own Space Station, Says ISRO Chie

      As suggested by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)’s Chief K Sivan, India will soon get its own space station. The aim of launching an Indian space station is a part of the Gaganyaan mission and the announcement was made today.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • From Dollar Hegemony to Global Warming: Globalization, Glyphosate and Doctrines of Consent

      There has been an on-going tectonic shift in the West since the abandonment of the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971. This accelerated when the USSR ended and has resulted in the ‘neoliberal globalization’ we see today.

      At the same time, there has been an unprecedented campaign to re-engineer social consensus in the West. Part of this strategy, involves getting populations in Western countries to fixate on ‘global warming’, ‘gender equity’ and ‘anti-racism’: by focusing on identity politics and climate change, the devastating effects and injustices brought about by globalized capitalism and associated militarism largely remain unchallenged by the masses and stay firmly in the background.

      This is the argument presented by Denis Rancourt, researcher at Ontario Civil Liberties Association, in a new report. Rancourt is a former full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa in Canada and author of ‘Geo-economics andgeo-politics drive successive eras of predatory globalization and socialengineering: Historical emergence of climate change, gender equity, andanti-racism as state doctrines’ (April 2019).

      In the report, Rancourt references Michael Hudson’s 1972 book ‘Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire’ to help explain the key role of maintaining dollar hegemony and the importance of the petrodollar to US global dominance. Aside from the significance of oil, Rancourt argues that the US has an existential interest to ensure that opioid drugs are traded in US dollars, another major global commodity. This explains the US occupation of Afghanistan. He also pinpoints the importance of US agribusiness and the arms industry in helping to secure US geostrategic goals.

    • Humans eat a credit card-size amount of plastic every week: study

      Humans are gobbling up around 5 grams of microplastics in their weekly diets — or about as much as your ATM card, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Newcastle, Australia, and commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.

      “For the first time, this study offers precise estimations on the amounts of plastic ingested by humans,” Dr Thava Palanisami, who took part in the study, tells the Brussels Times.

    • Humans ingest one credit card worth of plastic every week

      Every week, the average human ingests around 2,000 particles of microplastics — or the equivalent in weight of a bank card, a new study published on Wednesday shows.

      Beer, shellfish, salt and water are the products found to contain the most quantities of microplastics by the study, which was led by researchers of the University of Newcastle, Australia and commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

      By analyzing over 50 different studies into plastic ingestion by humans, researches found that the average person is eating and drinking 5 grams of microplastics each week, or the weight equivalent of a regular credit card.

    • You May Be Swallowing a Credit Card’s Weight in Plastic Weekly, Says New Study

      It may not sound appetizing, but a new study found that the global average of microplastic ingestion could be five grams every week. That’s about the same weight as a credit card. Put another way, it’s a teaspoonful of plastic, 2,000 tiny bits of plastic; you are inadvertently swallowing every single week, according to CNN.

    • You could be swallowing a credit card’s weight in plastic every week

      Globally, we are ingesting an average of 5 grams of plastic every week, the equivalent of a credit card, a new study suggests.

      This plastic contamination comes from “microplastics” — particles smaller than five millimeters — which are making their way into our food, drinking water and even the air.
      Around the world, people ingest an average of around 2,000 microplastic particles a week, according to the study by the University of Newcastle, in Australia.
      These tiny particles can originate from a variety of sources, including artificial clothes fibers, microbeads found in some toothpastes, or bigger pieces of plastic which gradually break into smaller pieces when they’re thrown away and exposed to the elements.

    • Alabama’s Ashes Enlarge On Flint’s Lead

      Coal is mostly carbon. When burned it turns into carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that merely heats the planet and sends the climate into a gradual, though accelerating, death spiral. But the parts that don’t burn can attack you quicker.

      Mercury: can poison you in numerous ways including effects on your nervous system and brain that leave you stupider than you were born to be. Arsenic: can kill you outright so it doesn’t matter if you’ve become stupid. Radiation: low levels of “background” radiation occur everywhere, and burning away the carbon in coal concentrates any radiation it contains in the ash left behind. Also arsenic, also mercury, also other unhealthy whatevers.

      The output of coal mines goes mainly to power plants, which burn it to boil water into steam, to turn turbines, to generate electricity. These plants usually mix the residue of ash with water and pump the slurry into an adjoining pond. Because water can absorb the stray heat from all this burning, the plants like to perch along shorelines and suck in cooling water. That means the ash ponds are normally near shorelines too.

      This has two consequences. First: If the ashy pits are leaky—as they frequently are—the toxins in the ash seep into the neighboring waterbody or into ground water, then into the waterbody and into wells drilled for domestic uses. Second: If an ash pond breaches, its noxious contents are going into the bordering waterbody and then wherever the abiding currents care to take it.

      These ash dumps generally began decades ago at a handy nearby swamp or slough that received the gunk without complaint and without much regulatory concern. As the ash accumulated and threatened to overflow, the power plant operators erected retaining walls or dams to contain the slurry. They were often not rigorously engineered structures and were sometimes built of coal ash itself. As they rose higher and higher the ashy concoction contained by the dubious dams expanded to apocalyptic volumes.

    • Read @ATKearney: How Will Cultured Meat and Meat Alternatives Disrupt the Agricultural and Food Industry?

      A number of meat alternatives are evolving, each with the potential to disrupt the multibillion-dollar global meat industry.

    • Most Meat Will Be Plant-Based or Lab-Grown in 20 Years, Analysts Predict

      The future of meat consumption doesn’t lie with dead animals.

      That’s the conclusion drawn by a new report from consultancy firm AT Kearney, which predicts that 60 percent of “meat” in 2040 won’t come from slaughtered animals. Instead, it will come from either lab-grown meat or plant-based replacements like Beyond Meat or Impossible Burger.

    • What Are ‘Forever Chemicals’ And How Are They Getting in Your Food?

      A recent analysis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found chemical contamination of PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) at multiple levels of the U.S. food supply chain.

      However, the agency maintains that their findings don’t represent a likely health concern for consumers.

    • The Bitter Legacy of the East Chicago Lead Crisis

      Akeeshea Daniels once lived in the West Calumet public housing complex in the shadow of a former lead smelter in East Chicago, Indiana. She worried about the pervasive lead contamination in the area and hoped that the government would fix the problem. Officials tried — and are still trying — to clean up the mess, but in many ways their efforts have made life harder for residents like Daniels.
      After letting industrial pollution linger for decades, in 2016, city and federal officials forced residents of the housing complex to move — but they neglected to provide them adequate means to find new homes. Residents continued to pay rent at the contaminated complex even as they searched for housing elsewhere. Some ended up homeless or relocating to neighborhoods mired in violence.
      Daniels struggled to find somewhere she could afford. Every time she had applied to a new apartment, the landlord would run a credit check. The repeated credit checks put a dent in her credit score. “A lot of our credit scores took a hit after they were run at least 19 times total,” she said. “Nobody ever said anything about trying to help us build our credit back up.” Her lower credit score made it difficult to secure a lease.

    • Taiwan Recalls Quaker Oats Products Imported From U.S. After Detecting Glyphosate

      Quaker Oats products sold in Taiwan were found to contain glyphosate levels exceeding the legal limit following a random inspection from the country’s FDA. Photo credit: Standard Foods Corporation

      The 10 products, including those from the Quaker Oats brand, were found to have glyphosate residue levels between 0.1 parts per million (ppm) and 1.8ppm, the agency said, prompting a recall of nearly 62,000 kilograms of oatmeal.

      Taiwan does not permit residues levels of glyphosate to exceed 0.1 ppm, and the companies that violated the regulated standard may face fines between NT$60,000-$200 million (USD$1,800-$6 million).

      Taiwan’s FDA said that glyphosate is an herbicide often used in other countries, but because Taiwan does not produce their oats it has a zero tolerance policy on glyphosate residue in oatmeal products in the absence of a set maximum residue limits, the Taipei Times reported.

    • FDA says pesticide residue found in 10 oatmeal items

      A random inspection by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month found 10 of 36 oatmeal products tested contained pesticide residues exceeding legal levels, including Quaker Oats products, the agency said yesterday.
      The 10 were found to have glyphosate (pesticide) residue levels between 0.1 parts per million (ppm) and 1.8ppm, it said.

      They were “Old Fashioned Quaker Oats” and “Quaker Quick 1-minute Oats” sold at Carrefour Taiwan (家樂福), Costco Wholesale Corp and RT-Mart (大潤發), “Coach’s Oats” sold at RT-Mart, “Bob’s Red Mill Instant Rolled Oats” sold at Pacific Sogo Department Stores Co (太平洋崇光百貨), “Fifty50 Hearty Cut Oatmeal” and “McCann’s Imported Irish Oatmeal” sold at City’super, “Australia Fine Oat Flakes” by Fuyuan Food (富元食品) sold at Wellcome Supermarket (頂好超市) outlets and oatmeal (大燕麥片) by Fengyuan Food (逢元食品).

    • Pennsylvania Bill Aims to Shift Water Clean-Up Costs From Residents to Polluters

      In response to chemical contamination from a naval station in his district, Representative Todd Stephens, a Pennsylvania House Representative from Montgomery County, is pushing for legislation that would remove the financial pressure on citizens to clean their own drinking water.

      This push from Rep. Stephens is indicative of a larger problem — figuring out how to pay to clean drinking water from the confirmed 21 sites throughout Pennsylvania contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

      The chemicals are used in products such as stain- and water-resistant clothing, nonstick pots and pans, firefighting foam, carpets, and furniture, and have been linked to various cancers, thyroid problems, low birth weights, and other problems. They’re increasingly showing up in water throughout the U.S.

      The PFAS class of chemicals includes more than 5,000 individual chemicals with similar properties. PFAS don’t readily break down once they’re in the environment, and they can accumulate in animal and human tissues.

      PA House Bill 1410 would fund cleanup efforts using some state tax revenue generated by development on and around the original pollution site, Republican Rep. Stephens told EHN, and would also require the state to develop a statewide program to address PFAS contamination in drinking water.

    • All Criminal Charges Dropped in Flint Water Scandal

      Prosecutors dropped all criminal charges Thursday against eight people in the Flint water crisis and pledged to start from scratch the investigation into one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in U.S. history.

      The stunning decision came more than three years — and millions of dollars — after authorities began examining the roots of the scandal that left Flint’s water system tainted with lead. Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud, who took control of the investigation in January after the election of a new attorney general, said “all available evidence was not pursued” by the previous team of prosecutors.

      Officials took possession this week of “millions of documents and hundreds of new electronic devices, significantly expanding the scope of our investigation,” Hammoud and Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.

    • Justice Denied, Delayed, or Done Right? Serious Concerns as Prosecutors Throw Out Charges in Flint Water Crisis Cases

      Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel appointed Fadwa Hammoud as the state’s solicitor general in January and assigned her to take over the criminal cases related to Flint’s water crisis, which started five years ago when a governor-appointed emergency manager switched the city’s water supply to a polluted river.

      “We cannot provide the citizens of Flint the investigation they rightly deserve by continuing to build on a flawed foundation. Dismissing these cases allows us to move forward according to the non-negotiable requirements of a thorough, methodical, and ethical investigation,” Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who has been assisting with the cases, said Thursday.

      The prosecutors dismissed charges against former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director Nick Lyon; Eden Wells, the state’s former chief medical executive; former emergency managers Gerald Ambrose and Darnell Earley; DHHS officials Nancy Peeler and Robert Scott; Michigan Department of Environmental Quality official Patrick Cook; and former Flint Department of Public Works Director Howard Croft. Because the charges were dismissed without prejudice, “we are not precluded from refiling charges against the defendants,” the prosecutors emphasized, “or adding new charges and additional defendants.”

      Mary Grant, Public Water for All Campaign Director at Food & Water Watch, said in a statement that the decision “can only be acceptable if the prosecution team refiles and aggressively pursues new charges swiftly.”

      “Flint residents deserve a comprehensive and just investigation that results in appropriate restitution. We are outraged to hear about the political influence that muddied the previous cases through failure to seek all evidence,” Grant added. “We know one thing for sure: the Snyder administration and his emergency managers made the disastrous decisions that caused the Flint water crisis. We must hold them accountable and everyone who aggravated this public health calamity. There is no more time for dubious foot-dragging; it’s time for Flint to see some justice.”

  • Security

    • PHP version 7.2.20RC1 and 7.3.7RC1
    • The GoldBrute botnet is trying to crack open 1.5 million RDP servers

      The latest round of bad news emerged last week when Morphus Labs’ researcher Renato Marinho announced the discovery of an aggressive brute force campaign against 1.5 million RDP servers by a botnet called ‘GoldBrute’.

    • New Brute-Force Botnet Targeting Over 1.5 Million RDP Servers Worldwide

      The campaign, discovered by Renato Marinho at Morphus Labs, works as shown in the illustrated image, and its modus operandi has been explained in the following steps: [...]

    • 32 bit is dead – Long live 32 bit

      This is another follow-up post on the Intel processor vulnerabilities. Yay. With more bad news. Yay!

      Instead of a long build-up, I will just give you the point: 32 bit is broken

      Well, is that really news? Not really. The real news is that Intel processors are broken – but you already know that. You also know that there are fixes around. Patches for the kernel. Disabling Intel(R) Hyper-Threading.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • WSL2 and Kali
    • Security service tracks embedded Linux vulnerabilities

      Timesys has launched a Vigiles security monitoring and management platform with CVE tracking for embedded Linux available as free software or as a subscription service.

      Timesys Vigiles automates the identification, tracking, and analysis of vulnerabilities by comparing embedded Linux firmware with NIST’s daily Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) notifications. The software helps customers focus on vulnerabilities that pose the biggest threats to a customer’s specific software components, thereby “eliminating the need to manually monitor and analyze thousands of vulnerabilities,” says Timesys.

    • Vim devs fix system-pwning text editor bug [Ed: This requires obtaining and opening malicious files though]

      The attack exploits a vulnerability in a Vim feature called modelines, which lets you set variables specific to a file. As long as these statements are in the first few lines, Vim interprets them as instructions. They might tell Vim to display the file with a text width of 60 characters, for example. Or maybe you want to expand tabs to spaces to avoid another geek’s ire.

    • Mail servers running Exim come under attack

      Mail servers running the Exim mail transport agent are being exploited, with the attackers using a vulnerability disclosed a few days ago to run arbitrary commands as root, a security practitioner has warned.

      Exim, one of the four MTAs commonly used on Unix servers, is developed by Phillip Hazel at the University of Cambridge. It is the default on some Linux distributions, like Debian.

      [...]

      The original post about the vulnerability was released by Qualys Research Labs on 5 June, which said it was trivially exploitable in local and non-default cases, but with the default configuration an attack would take a long time to succeed.

    • Exim email servers are now under attack [Ed: The drama queen that CBS hired (Cimpanu) says "Almost half of the internet's email servers are now being attacked with a new exploit." It sounds a lot worse when in fact many are patched and the "half" refers to number of installs, not attacks. Misreporting. FUD. ZDNet is not a news site but a tech tabloid. It should be regarded as such.]
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Ratifying a Nuclear Test Ban Is a First Step Toward Non-Proliferation

      Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley recently accused Russia of violating the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in a move that can only serve to increase tensions between two nuclear-armed nations. Despite the gravity of these claims, there has been a lack of clarity on whether the allegations are more than hearsay.

      In a speech at the Hudson Institute on May 29, Ashley used language such as “probably” and “capability” rather than speaking with certainty. Despite this lack of firm evidence, the accusations were taken by some opponents of the CTBT as a sign that the U.S. should withdraw from the CTBT. This could not be more wrong.

      The CTBT, a multilateral treaty that would ban all forms of nuclear testing, was finalized in 1996. It has not entered into force because eight key states, including the U.S., have yet to sign and/or ratify it. The U.S. originally was a fierce fighter for the CTBT, with President Bill Clinton paving the way by being the first to sign the treaty.

      Now, however, the U.S. is one of the main countries preventing the full implementation of all the monitoring tools available under the CTBT. While the U.S. financially supports the organization developed to manage the globally used International Monitoring System, the U.S. has failed to make progress with ratification.

    • Extremism and Counternarratives

      Masood Ashraf Raja’s book ISIS: Ideology, Symbolics, and Counternarratives attempts to come to terms with the transnational practices of Islam and Islamism, constituted within historically and geographically specific points of origin and migration. The specific religion and the specific local and national contexts within which it is practiced shape the affiliations that Migrants can fashion with their countries of origin. For while transnational practices do traverse two or more national territories, they are forged within the enclosed spaces of “specific social, economic, and political relations which are bound together by perceived shared interests and meanings” (Stock 40). This issue of context generates an interesting question regarding relations created by transnational practices.

    • How the Pentagon’s Forever Wars Are Killing the Planet

      It’s been a harrowing couple of weeks for climate change observers. First, as Vice reported, there was an analysis from an Australian think tank, co-written by Ian Dunlop, a former fossil fuel company CEO, that posits that the planet is “reaching a ‘point of no return’ by mid-century, in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order.’ ”

      Then, on Wednesday, Brown University released a report revealing that the Department of Defense is “the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world.” According to the report, the DOD released approximately 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, between 2001 and 2017.

      Burning diesel and jet fuel for troop and weapons transport and usage causes 70% of the emissions, the report said.

      In other words, the same institution that has kept America at war since 2001 is not only killing people, but also the planet. As CNBC pointed out, “The findings showed that if the Pentagon was listed as a country, its emissions would make it the world’s 55th largest contributor of greenhouse gases”—bigger than Portugal or Sweden.

    • Two Iraqi Peace Activists Confront a Trumpian World

      There’s a dark joke going around Baghdad these days. Noof Assi, a 30-year-old Iraqi peace activist and humanitarian worker, told it to me by phone. Our conversation takes place in late May just after the Trump administration has announced that it would add 1,500 additional U.S. troops to its Middle Eastern garrisons.

      “Iran wants to fight to get the United States and Saudi Arabia out of Iraq,” she began. “And the United States wants to fight to get Iran out of Iraq.” She paused dramatically. “So how about all of us Iraqis just leave Iraq so they can fight here on their own?”

      Assi is among a generation of young Iraqis who lived most of their lives first under the U.S. occupation of their country and then through the disastrous violence it unleashed, including the rise of ISIS, and who are now warily eying Washington’s saber-rattling towards Tehran. They couldn’t be more aware that, should a conflict erupt, Iraqis will almost certainly find themselves once again caught in the devastating middle of it.

      In February, President Trump sparked ire by claiming that the United States would maintain its military presence — 5,200 troops — and the al-Asad airbase in Iraq in order to “watch Iran.” In May, the State Department then suddenly ordered all non-emergency government employees to leave Iraq, citing vague intelligence about threats of “Iranian activity.” (This so-called intelligence was promptly contradicted by the British deputy commander of the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS who claimed that “there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.”) A few days later, a rocket landed harmlessly in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the U.S. embassy. Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi then announced that he would send delegations to Washington and Tehran to try to “halt tensions,” while thousands of ordinary Iraqis rallied in Baghdad to protest against the possibility of their country once again getting dragged into a conflict.

      Much of American media coverage of rising U.S.-Iranian tensions in these weeks, rife with “intel” leaked by unnamed Trump administration officials, bears a striking resemblance to the lead-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. As a recent Al Jazeera piece — headlined “Is the US media beating the drums of war on Iran?” — put it bluntly: “In 2003, it was Iraq. In 2019, it’s Iran.”

    • Why Venezuela Is the Vietnam of Our Time

      On April 30, 1975, the United States learned an important lesson. The capture of Saigon by the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) would mark the defeat of the world’s most powerful military force by an army of guerrilla fighters. No matter the scale of its military, or the weight of the iron fist it used to maintain its power, brute force would not always be enough to win wars. The guerrillas possessed a key weapon that the U.S. did not: the support of the people.

      The U.S. defeat in Vietnam caused a cataclysmic shift in its strategy of warfare, which today has morphed into hybrid warfare. To avoid another embarrassing defeat, the United States would need to win over hearts and minds. Blowing people to bits would not be enough. This strategy combines “conventional” warfare—namely military force—with “unconventional” warfare—such as covert campaigns to destabilize the economy of targeted nations; misinformation campaigns that spread fake news and pave the way for intervention; and violent attacks taking the form of targeted assassinations, road blockades, and the incitement of violence.

      The result of these hybrid wars is seen clearly today as a series of right-wing governments sweeps across Latin America. Venezuela, however—which borders both Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil and Iván Duque’s Colombia—has remained a sharp thorn in the side of U.S. imperialism and, consequently, at the center of U.S.-led hybrid wars. It is the domino that will not fall.

    • The Gulf of Credibility

      I really cannot begin to fathom how stupid you would have to be to believe that Iran would attack a Japanese oil tanker at the very moment that the Japanese Prime Minister was sitting down to friendly, US-disapproved talks in Tehran on economic cooperation that can help Iran survive the effects of US economic sanctions.

      The Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous was holed above the water line. That rules out a torpedo attack, which is the explanation being touted by the neo-cons.

      The second vessel, the Front Altair, is Norwegian owned and 50% Russian crewed (the others being Filipinos). It is owned by Frontline, a massive tanker leasing company that also has a specific record of being helpful to Iran in continuing to ship oil despite sanctions.

      It was Iran that rescued the crews and helped bring the damaged vessels under control.

    • Tankers Struck in Strait of Hormuz; U.S. Blames Iran

      The U.S. blamed Iran for suspected attacks on two oil tankers Thursday near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, denouncing what it called a campaign of “escalating tensions” in a region crucial to global energy supplies.

      The U.S. Navy rushed to assist the stricken vessels in the Gulf of Oman off the coast of Iran, including one that was set ablaze. The ships’ operators offered no immediate explanation on who or what caused the damage against the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous. Each was loaded with petroleum products, and the Front Altair burned for hours, sending up a column of thick, black smoke.

    • I Don’t Trust This Administration* With a Lemon Zester, Let Alone a War With Iran

      I am not buying this in the least. I remember the Iraq lies. I know this administration is truthless from top to bottom and all the way out both sides. I don’t trust the Saudi government as far as I can throw a bone saw. And this president* feels very much like he’s being run to ground at the moment and needs a distraction. And his Secretary of State is a third-rate congresscritter from Kansas who once advised American soldiers to disobey lawful orders, and who’s fighting way above his weight class. Also, too, John Bolton is eight kinds of maniac.

    • ‘Deja Vu’ of Iraq War Lies as Mike Pompeo Blames Iran for Tanker Attack Without Single Shred of Evidence

      “This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high-degree of sophistication,” said Pompeo, who did not provide any details on the intelligence he cited.

      After asserting Iran was also behind a litany of attacks prior to Thursday’s tanker incident—once again without presenting any evidence—Pompeo said that,”Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security.”

      Pompeo—who has a long history of making false claims about Iran—did not take any questions from reporters following his remarks, which were aired live on America’s major television networks.

      “Mike Pompeo has zero credibility when it comes to Iran,” Jon Rainwater, executive director of Peace Action, told Common Dreams. “He’s long been actively campaigning for a confrontation with Iran. He has a track record of pushing bogus theories with no evidence such as the idea that Iran collaborates closely with al-Qaeda.”

      “Once again Pompeo is not waiting for the evidence to come in,” Rainwater said, “he is picking facts to suit his campaign for confrontation with Iran.”

    • Retired Russian colonel is freed in Afghanistan after a month in captivity

      Retired Colonel Alexander Lavrentyev, a member of Russia’s Cross-Agency P.O.W. Commission, spent a month in captivity in Afghanistan, the officer’s friends told the news website RBC.

      On March 26, 2019, Lavrentyev arrived in the province of Herat on an expedition to find and identify the remains of Soviet soldiers who went missing during the USSR’s war in Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989. On the way from the airport, Lavrentyev was taken hostage by assailants (presumably Taliban combatants) who were tipped off by his local Afghan fixer. Three days later, Lavrentyev’s interpreter came to Russia’s embassy in Kabul and delivered the kidnappers’ ransom demands.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Reporter at Tabasco daily newspaper shot and killed

      Sarabia is the 14th journalist killed in Mexico since President López Obrador took office in December, and the first woman journalist to be killed, according to the organization Reporteras en Guardia.

    • United Arab Emirates Says It Doesn’t [Crack] Dissidents or Journalists

      A top official in the United Arab Emirates told Motherboard his government doesn’t spy on its own citizens, and that he doesn’t know how much the country spends on cyberweaponry. The comments come despite several reports alleging that the wealthy Gulf state is employing ex-NSA hackers in its surveillance operations.

    • Wanted for espionage – the hunt for Wikileaks

      Assange had sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 because, since losing his appeal against a Swedish extradition request, he believed it was his only chance to avoid ending up in U.S. custody. Sweden had applied for his extradition from the UK so that he could be questioned about sexual molestation allegations. Assange argued that he had already appeared for questioning in Sweden and had even received permission to leave Sweden from the Swedish authorities. He believed extradition to Sweden was the first step in a process that would lead to him spending decades of prison in the United States, where the US government and an active Grand Jury were investigating if Assange could be prosecuted for publishing evidence of American war crimes. Many observers considered Assange’s worries a paranoid self-serving lie and argued he could leave the embassy at any time. Assange was unlikely to face prosecution in the United States, one commentator argued, and the only reason he wouldn’t leave the embassy was pride.

      The government of Ecuador under Rafael Correa granted Assange asylum because they were convinced there was a danger that he could be extradited to the United States and tried for his journalistic work. Correa’s successor, Lenin Moreno, established closer ties to the United States and since becoming president of Ecuador in 2017 had been involved in increasingly hostile public disputes with Assange and Wikileaks.

    • UK signs Julian Assange’s US extradition papers

      The United Kingdom has signed an extradition request for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who faces charges in the US under the Espionage Act.

      UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he signed the papers on Wednesday, a day after the US Justice Department formally asked Britain to extradite the 47-year-old Australian.

      “First of all I am very pleased the police were able to apprehend him and now he is rightly behind bars because he broke UK law,” Javid told BBC Radio 4 on Thursday.

      “There is an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow,” he added.

    • Assange ‘won’t receive a fair trial’ in the US

      Julian Assange is set to face an extradition hearing in the UK on Friday, which could ultimately see him sent to the United States to face trial.

      The Australian Wikileaks founder was evicted two months ago after spending seven years as a political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

      Retired intelligence officer John Kiriakou has been in a similar position to Assange, spending two years in prison for leaking classified information.

      Mr Kiriakou told Sky News he does not think Julian Assange will receive a fair trial if he is extradited to the United States, and says ‘no national security defendant has ever won a case in this courtroom.’

      The former intelligence officer says if Mr Assange goes to trial ‘it will be a case that future generations of law students study.’

    • Daniel Ellsberg on the Release of the “Top Secret” Pentagon Papers
    • Daniel Ellsberg on the Release of the “Top Secret” Pentagon Papers

      On the occasion of the 48th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg describes the tension waiting for the publishing of the story: “The Times was on lock down with armed guards.. they were fearing an injunction”

    • Putin fires two Moscow police generals over Ivan Golunov’s arrest

      Vladimir Putin has signed an executive order firing two police generals, Moscow Counter-Narcotics Police Department head Yuri Devyatkin and Moscow Western Administrative Okrug Police Chief Andrey Puchkov.

      Earlier this week, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev demanded their dismissal, after he closed the criminal case against Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • This Instagram influencer says it ‘really sucks’ that she was attacked for posting from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster zone
    • Global Warming Morphs Into the Solar Minimum

      Since Climate Change (CC) has been a constant of life on Gaia with the evolution of photosynthesis 3.2 billion years ago and has more complexities than this one essay can address; ergo, this article will explore co2’s historic contribution to global warming (GW) as well as explore the relationship of Solar Minimum (SM) to Earth’s climate.

      Even before the UN-initiated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formed in 1988, the common assumption was that carbon dioxide was the key greenhouse gas and that its increases were the driving force solely responsible for rising climate temperatures. At that time, anthropogenic (human caused) GW was declared to be the existential crisis of our time, that the science was settled and that we, as a civilization, were running out of time.

      And yet, in the intervening years, uncertainty remained about GW’s real time impacts which may be rooted in the fact that many of IPCC’s essential climate forecasts of consequence have not materialized as predicted. Even as the staid Economist magazine recently noted “Over the past fifteen years, air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse gas emissions have continued to soar.”

    • Most protected areas lack proper policing

      Three-quarters of all the world’s protected areas – bits of ocean and wilderness nominally made safe for animals, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, plants and fungi produced by 500 million years of evolution – may not be sufficiently staffed or funded.

      And of 12,000 species of amphibians, birds and mammals whose ranges include protected areas, fewer than one in 10 are safely within properly policed and cared-for parks and reserves.

      Researchers report in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment that they looked at a sample of more than 2,100 protected areas in Africa, South America and Asia to see which could be classed as sufficiently funded and staffed.

    • Artifishal: New Film Asks, Have We Reached the End of Wild?

      “It’s about how we keep trying to control nature rather than allowing it to do what it does,” says the film’s director, Josh Murphy.

      Artifishal looks specifically at how fish hatcheries and fish farms threaten wild salmon populations, which in turn has ecosystem-wide effects — all because of our desire to eat these culturally significant species.

      “We fell in love with this wild thing and then we took too many of them and we degraded the environments that produce them,” explains Murphy of the genesis of the film.

      But instead of helping wild salmon recover, we’ve created hatcheries and farms to make more of them — at great cost, both economically and ecologically. The film explores the process, the tradeoffs, and what’s at stake if we continue down this path.

      As Artifishal and its filmmakers travel around the country conducting screenings with community organizations, we spoke with Murphy about what he learned making the film and why wild salmon are so important.

    • How to Handle Raccoons, Snakes and Other Critters in Your Yard (Hint: Not With a Thermos)

      Encounters with wildlife are becoming more common in towns and neighborhoods as urbanization increases, and people often do not know what to do in these situations. Many species of urban wildlife, such as butterflies, bees, beetles, lizards, bats and most birds, are benign or even beneficial, helping to control mosquitoes, pollinate flowers and trees, recycle nutrients, and provide many other hidden ecological services.

      But there can be also some associated health concerns, as some species bring the risk of parasites or disease. For example, some snakes like rattlesnakes or copperheads can be venomous. Habitat loss to fragmentation, urbanization and expanding agricultural production means suburban and urban spaces will increasingly become options for wildlife searching for new homes. It is not just snakes, but also coyotes, foxes, raccoons, deer and even bears.

      As a wildlife biologist and extension educator, my job is to help people more fully understand wildlife for the betterment of both people and animals. People generally enjoy wildlife. Renowned ecologist E. O. Wilson coined the term “Biophilia” (meaning “life fondness”) to describe this seemingly inherent affinity humans have for natural life. Rather than being too friendly or overly fearful, people should be aware and respectful of wildlife that may be in their neighborhood.

    • Fire and Flood: Politics as Usual Amid Planetary Destruction

      Can we still have inner weather when the outer weather changes so regularly and drastically? When 500 tornadoes rip through the country from Kansas to Pennsylvania in a matter of weeks? Or when 875,000 California acres burn down in the course of a summer? Rather than hear the message, we look into our smartphones or at our computer screens whose backgrounds may include breathtakingly lovely pictures of the planet — photos that show how beautiful a place it has been. As if we could have this Earth forever in reach, as if we could preserve it with a password or, by logging off, exchange it for another as lovely.

      What Benjamin Franklin is rumored to have said about the American Republic is now true of the planet as well: we have a world, if we can keep it. But so much of our interest is directed elsewhere — to the work of “renaming,” for example. There are scholars who think that by christening our age the Anthropocene, they are putting the fires and floods under a microscope. But does this human-centered word do much more than carve a new channel for pride? (“Just look around! It’s all us!”) The world, it seems, has become but one more link in the cyber-human chain by which we exit our natural bodies and turn into something rich and strange.

      Greenhouse effect, global warming, climate change, climate disruption. Think of the succession of words we’ve used to describe the gradual onset of catastrophe and you see at once how inadequate words can be. In our time, corporate lingo has even rendered “disruptive” an admiring adjective for tech innovations on a par with “transformative.” Think back to the way “creative destruction” was used in an age of trickle-down economics — the message was that the economic damage to so many people signaled a corporate creativity that would make the crooked places straight. Never mind the “destruction” part — the victims would find their recompense at a higher level.

      The destruction always seems to be happening elsewhere. Of course we know better. The issue that should dwarf everything in sight today is planetary climate destruction. It’s happening in plain sight and all around us, and most of us clearly can’t bear to think about it. Why not? Because we are creatures of habit and immediacy, because the imagination can’t fix for long on a distant and unbearable future. Habit disposes us to normalize the abnormal. It’s a human propensity as natural as the protective mechanism that helps us not get stopped in our tracks by the painful things we did or suffered.

    • 36 Die in India Heat Wave, Delhi Records Its Highest All-Time Temperature

      The four, aged between 69 and 81, had been returning from the holy city of Varanasi to Kerala in the south, The Independent reported. Railway official Manoj Kumar said they collapsed in their carriage and were pronounced dead by doctors waiting at the Jhansi station.

      The deaths come as the total number of fatalities in one of India’s most intense and longest-lasting heat waves has reached at least 36, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Temperatures have soared to 50.6 degrees Celsius (123 degrees Fahrenheit), and the high temperatures are expected to impact 23 states this year, up from nine in 2015 and 19 in 2018, India’s National Disaster Management Authority expert Anup Kumar Srivastava said.

    • Heat wave rages on; 4 elderly pilgrims die travelling on train

      Several parts of the country continued to reel under sweltering heat on Tuesday with mercury crossing the 45-degree mark, even as four elderly pilgrims travelling on a train from Agra to Coimbatore died due to extreme heat. Here is a look at how the intense heat wave conditions have affected people: DelhiA day after the mercury shattered all records in Delhi with parts of the national capital recording an all-time high of 48 degrees celsius, Safdarjung observatory – reading of which is considered official for the city – recorded on Tuesday a high of 44.5 degrees celsius, five notches above the season’s average. Humidity levels fluctuated between 52 per cent and 15 per cent in the city. The weatherman, however, has forecast that the mercury will see a fall in the city. A dust storm was forecast for Tuesday afternoon, but it is likely to reach Delhi by Tuesday night or Wednesday. It is hovering around Haryana currently, a MeT official said. Over the next few days, Delhi may experience thunderstorm or dust storm leading to slight rain, said a MeT department official. Another official said the maximum temperature is likely to be between 41 to 42 degrees celsius on June 12 and 13; 43 degrees celsius between June 14-16; and 39 degrees celsius on June 17 in the city.

    • India Heat Wave, Soaring Up to 123 Degrees, Has Killed at Least 36

      One of India’s longest and most intense heat waves in decades, with temperatures reaching 123 degrees, has claimed at least 36 lives since it began in May, and the government has warned that the suffering might continue as the arrival of monsoon rains has been delayed.

      India’s heat waves have grown particularly intense in the past decade, as climate change has intensified around the world, killing thousands of people and affecting an increasing number of states. This year, the extreme temperatures have struck large parts of northern and central India, with Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra among the worst-hit states.

    • India heatwave: Four people die in train carriage without air conditioning as temperatures hit 48C

      Four people have died in a packed train without air conditioning as temperatures soared to nearly 50C in India.

      The victims, aged between 69 and 81, were Hindu pilgrims returning to the southern state of Kerala after visiting the holy city of Varanasi in the country’s north.

      Dozens of people are reported to have died in the past month as a suffocating heatwave grips much of India.

    • Following Carcinogen Data Fiasco, Pressure Grows on Massachusetts to Revoke Enbridge Facility Permit

      In the wake of fresh revelations that a Massachusetts agency withheld critical air pollution data, calls on the state to retract a permit for a proposed natural gas compressor station in the greater Boston area have intensified this week.

      In a letter Thursday to a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) official presiding over an appeal on the permit for Enbridge’s facility in Weymouth, Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA) slammed the DEP for what he called “gaping insufficiencies” in granting the permit, which “compromise the integrity of the DEP process.”

    • House to Debate Amendment With Big Implications for Expanding Petrochemical Industry

      ove into the Ohio River Valley and start manufacturing plastics and chemicals in Appalachia.

      The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is currently considering extending $1.9 billion in federal loan guarantees to the Appalachia Development Group, which submitted an application for loan guarantees through the DOE’s Title 17 Loan Guarantee Program in 2017.

      The Appalachia Development Group would use that loan guarantee to build a $3.4 billion storage hub that could store over 10 million barrels of so-called natural gas liquids (NGLs), which can be used to make plastics and petrochemicals and are in high supply due to fracking in the nearby Marcellus and Utica Shales.

      Green groups supporting the amendment say that those DOE loan guarantees are meant for energy projects — specifically those that cut down on greenhouse gas emissions — not for the petrochemical industry.

    • This Grocery Store Shames Customers With Embarrassing Plastic Bags

      Forget your reusable bag at Vancouver’s East West Market and you will walk out telling the world you’re into some kinky stuff, the Guardian reports.

      Customers who use a bag from the store will leave toting their purchase in humorous and kitschy plastic bags emblazoned with embarrassing, fake store names, such as “Dr. Toews’ Wart Ointment Wholesale,” “Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium” or “The Colon Care Co-op.”

    • Store’s Bid to Shame Customers Over Plastic Bags Backfires

      A Canadian store’s attempt to help the environment and gently shame its customers into avoiding plastic bags by printing embarrassing messages on them has not gone quite as planned.

      Far from spurring customers to bring their own reusables, the plastic bags — variously emblazoned with “Dr. Toews’ Wart Ointment Wholesale,” “Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium” or “The Colon Care Co-op” — have become somewhat of a surprise hit.

    • Radiohead Responds To Extortionate Hacker By Releasing Hacked Recordings For Charity

      Radiohead has always taken a more thoughtful, less kneejerk approach to how it handles the kinds of situations that many others in the recording industry tend to respond to by freaking out. Back in 2007, in the midst of the worldwide freakout over piracy, Radiohead released a surprise album, telling fans they could pay what they wanted to download it (while also selling a more expensive “box set”, giving its biggest fans a good reason to pay extra. The band has also been supportive of file sharing and even leaked some of its own tracks via BitTorrent.

      So perhaps this following story shouldn’t be seen as too much of a surprise (though, I imagine it was a surprise to whoever hacked Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke). As noted in that parenthetical, someone apparently hacked Yorke, and somehow got access to a set of 18 minidiscs of somewhat random/eclectic material that Yorke had recorded in the 1996/97 timeframe, when the band was working on its seminal Ok Computer album. The hackers apparently then asked Yorke/Radiohead for $150,000 not to release the material. The band chose not to give in to the hackers, who then did leak the material. However, soon after the material was leaked, the band announced (via Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s Instagram) that the band was now officially “releasing” that material on Bandcamp for £18 (or more) and donating any funds raised to Extinction Rebellion (a climate change advocacy group).

    • Australia’s Controversial Adani Coal Mine Gets Final Government Approval

      The Adani Carmichael coal mine — one of the most controversial fossil fuel projects in Australia’s history — has been handed its final environmental approval.

      Based in Queensland, the Indian-owned mine has been beset by controversy after gaining its first set of approvals back in 2014, sparking a nationwide “Stop Adani” movement and multiple legal challenges.

  • Finance

    • Why Elizabeth Warren is Right on Currency Values

      The implication is that if the trade deficit were lower than we would be forced to cut back consumption. But the major problem the United States has faced over the last decade, according to many economists, is “secular stagnation,” which is an obscure way of saying, not enough demand.

      Contrary to what Smith tells us, U.S. consumers are not living beyond their means, rather we actually need them to spend more money to bring the economy to full employment. To be more precise, we need them to spend more in the domestic economy, to increase demand here as opposed to in our trading partners. (We can also bring the economy to full employment by having the government spend more money on things like health care or a green new deal.)

      Smith also disagrees with Warren’s mechanism for getting the dollar down, which involves a mixture of negotiations and threats of countervailing measures. The idea is that the biggest actor is China, who for some reason it is assumed would never agree to raise the value of its currency. CNN raises similar concerns. This view seems badly off the mark.

      First, it is assumed in both pieces that China is no longer acting to deliberately keep down the value of the yuan against the dollar, even though most economists now concede that it deliberately depress the value of its currency to maintain large trade surpluses in the last decade. (They did not acknowledge China’s currency management at the time.)

    • ‘Massive Win for Working People’: Nevada Governor Signs Bill Giving Over 20,000 State Employees Collective Bargaining Rights

      “This is a historic day for state employees and all Nevadans, as collective bargaining rights will mean a voice on the job to make meaningful changes in our workplaces and communities,” said Harry Schiffman, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 4041, which represents over 17,000 Nevada public workers.

      AFSCME President Lee Saunders applauded Sisolak for enshrining collective bargaining rights for public employees into Nevada law and said it’s “time to make it easier all across the country for working people to join in strong unions.”

      “By signing this bill, Governor Sisolak demonstrates his understanding of the importance of giving working people a seat at the table and the voice on the job they deserve,” Saunders said in a statement. “Americans are looking for an answer to a rigged economy that favors the wealthy, and it’s clear that they are turning to unions in growing numbers.”

    • Bernie Sanders Proposes New Economic Bill of Rights

      Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivered a full-throated defense of democratic socialism in his June 12 speech at George Washington University. Sanders quoted FDR’s 1944 State of the Union address: “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”

      Sanders, like FDR, proposed an Economic Bill of Rights, including the rights to health care, affordable housing, education, a living wage and retirement.

      “Economic rights are human rights,” Sanders declared.
      Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivered a full-throated defense of democratic socialism in his June 12 speech at George Washington University. Sanders quoted FDR’s 1944 State of the Union address: “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”

      Sanders, like FDR, proposed an Economic Bill of Rights, including the rights to health care, affordable housing, education, a living wage and retirement.

      “Economic rights are human rights,” Sanders declared. “That is what I mean by democratic socialism.”

      Sanders cited figures of vast wealth disparity in the United States, where “the top 1 percent of people own more wealth than the bottom 92 percent.” He said there is higher income and wealth inequality today than at any time since the 1920s. And, Sanders stated, “despite an explosion in technology and worker productivity, the average wage of the American worker in real dollars is no higher than it was 46 years ago and millions of people are forced to work two or three jobs just to survive.”

      He also noted, “in America today, the very rich live on average 15 years longer than the poorest Americans.”

      Sanders cited figures of vast wealth disparity in the United States, where “the top 1 percent of people own more wealth than the bottom 92 percent.” He said there is higher income and wealth inequality today than at any time since the 1920s. And, Sanders stated, “despite an explosion in technology and worker productivity, the average wage of the American worker in real dollars is no higher than it was 46 years ago and millions of people are forced to work two or three jobs just to survive.”

      He also noted, “in America today, the very rich live on average 15 years longer than the poorest Americans.”

    • Japan Facing Nightmare Scenario of Longer Lives, Low Unemployment, Less Crowding

      Oh no, Japan is running out of people!

      That’s what Robert Samuelson tells us in his latest column (Washington Post, 6/12/19). That might seem a strange concern for a country that is ten times as densely populated as the United States, but Samuelson apparently sees it as a real nightmare.

      After all, if its population keeps shrinking, Japan will face a severe labor shortage. They may have a hard time getting people to fill lower-paying, lower-productivity jobs. For example, it might be hard to find workers to shove people onto Toyko’s overcrowded subways.

      [...]

      Yes, and the burden of this debt is absolutely crushing to the Japanese people. According to the IMF, Japan’s debt service burden will be equal to 0.1 percent of GDP this year, which is equal to roughly $20 billion in the US economy. And if the country continues on its current course, its debt service burden will turn negative in two years.

      The issue here is that Japan has negative (nominal) interest rates. Lenders pay the Japanese government to borrow their money. As a result, the interest burden on Japan’s “highest ever recorded” debt is no burden whatsoever.

    • Democratic Socialism: ‘There Is No Alternative’

      From a certain angle, Bernie Sanders’s case for socialism is the same as Margaret Thatcher’s for “free market” capitalism: “There is no alternative.”

      In a speech at George Washington University on Wednesday afternoon, the Vermont senator made several arguments for his political philosophy. Many of these aimed to dispel the misconception that the self-avowed socialist and his “political revolution” are trying to do anything “particularly radical.” Rather, Sanders suggested that what he calls “democratic socialism” is akin to 21st-century New Deal liberalism. Seventy-five years ago, the United States had a president who insisted that “true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence” and proposed the establishment of a “Second Bill of Rights” — one that would guarantee all Americans health care, housing, and “a useful and remunerative job.” In a sense, Sanders’s modest ambition is to revive and update the conventional wisdom of the Democratic Establishment circa 1944.

      This is a sound rebuttal to the claim that Sanders’s vision is extreme or un-American. Though, for that reason, it does little to clarify why the senator insists on branding his ideology with a term that much of the American electorate still associates with Soviet communism.

      Nevertheless, by coopting the right’s expansive definition of “socialism”—which holds that any major government intervention in the economy (that conservatives don’t like) is a fulfillment of Marx’s vision—Sanders was able to recast the terms of America’s economic debate.

    • Greens support National Pensioners Convention protest against introduction of over-75s TV licence

      Astrid Johnson, Manchester Green Party member and candidate in the European elections, said: “That our most senior citizens should face the worry and concern, and potential loss of an essential bulwark against loneliness, a crucial entertainment in many people’s lives, cannot be accepted.

      “But the blame needs to be laid where it is due: at the government that pushed responsibility for funding the fee on to the BBC, when it had previously been accepted as a government responsibility.

      “A further concern is that while the BBC has attempted to help some of the poorest older pensioners through sparing those in receipt of the pension credit, this is a blunt instrument that will miss many who need it most.

      “Estimates are that 1.3 million pensioners who are eligible to get pension credit don’t get it, and so will also miss out on a free TV licence.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Who’s Done More Damage to America, Fox News or Twitter?

      At this point, it is laughable to even refer to Fox News as a news outlet. Despite its name and branding, the vast majority of programming on the network is not news at all. It is political opinion, commentary, and entertainment programming that reflects a right-wing ideology. Unfortunately, most viewers do not make a distinction between this sort of programming and the few shows still dedicated to hard, if conservative-slanted, news. Overall, Fox News has become little more than a purveyor of propaganda and disinformation.

      This social threat was on full display following a recent town hall meeting hosted by Justin Amash, the only Republican member of Congress to call for impeachment of the president, when Fox News viewer Cathy Garnaat noted: “I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump. I hadn’t heard that before. I’ve mainly listened to conservative news and I hadn’t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump has been exonerated.”

      Despite the serious dangers posed by Fox News, as someone who has spent more than 20 years studying the media and its social, cultural, and political influence, I believe Williams’ comments deserve closer scrutiny. In particular, I wish to highlight two points.

    • Trump waved an alleged ‘secret’ Mexico deal around. A photographer got a picture of it.

      Once the president started waving around what he called his “secret agreement,” an enterprising Washington Post photographer, Jabin Botsford, managed to get a picture of it at just the right angle and lighting to make the text faintly visible.

    • Warren, Sanders Lead Calls for Immediate Impeachment Hearings After Trump Says He Would Welcome Dirt From Foreign Power in 2020

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) echoed his 2020 rival, saying Trump’s comments—which came during an ABC News interview that aired Wednesday—demonstrated once more that “[w]e have a president who thinks he is above the law.”

      “The House should immediately begin impeachment inquiries,” Sanders tweeted.

      Democratic presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) also called for impeachment hearings in response to Trump’s remarks.

      The renewed calls for impeachment proceedings against the president came after Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he would accept damaging information on his 2020 opponents from a foreign power.

      “I think I’d take it,” Trump said.

      “I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen a lot of things over my life. I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI,” the president added, expressing disagreement with FBI director Christopher Wray’s insistence that the agency would want to know about attempted election interference by a foreign power.

      “You don’t call the FBI,” Trump said. “Give me a break—life doesn’t work that way.”

    • Manufacturing Coma

      Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s Manufacturing Consent, published in 1988, was a ground-breaking, comprehensive analysis of the processes used by American government to persuade citizens to approve whatever witches’ brew of deceit, crime, and murder the ruling elite elected to perpetrate.

      Today that idea has a quaint, nostalgic charm since no serious person would now contend that our government requires anything resembling consent from its people. It rules imperiously an intellectually lobotomized public it has rendered torpid, quiescent, inanimate. You are now told what it has done or is doing, if you are told anything at all.

      While the stupefied, comatose condition of Americans that allows them to opt out of the moral universe and assuage their guilt with petitions, donations, and memberships in faineant feel-good drum circles is not necessarily permanent, an awakening is most unlikely since all forces that could break that trance are devoted to maintaining it.

      Government, which Plato, Burke and the Federalist argue will always work to aggrandize itself against all restraint, has triumphed over the people who theoretically empower it, but Government is only a device, a giant toy, a Rube Goldberg machine, and the wholly-owned subsidiary of Capitalism, and the dirty, tattered cover for its absolute rule. With apologies to Clausewitz, American government is the continuation of Capitalism by other means.

    • Ukraine: Far Right Parties Unite for Parliamentary Elections

      Avis Krane, via Essence of Time Six ultra-right and extremist organizations have formed an alliance led by Ukrainian nationalist Svoboda party leader Oleg Tyagnibok, the Svoboda party’s press service reports on June 9.

    • The Twin Dangers of Exceptionalism and Mindless Bi-Partisanship

      The United States is the most powerful nation on earth. There is no nation nor even a group of nations that can match the combined political, economic, and military power of the United States. Nevertheless, the United States faces an international arena that has become increasingly resistant and opposed to U.S. initiatives. The blundering of Donald Trump and his mediocre national security team is largely responsible for the setbacks over the past two years. But U.S. exceptionalism and even political bipartisanship carry a heavy responsibility as well.

      The problem of U.S. exceptionalism is conventional wisdom in many circles. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is well known for her arrogant description of an exceptional United States that “stands taller and sees further than other nations. If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation.” In his State of the Union address in January 2012, President Barack Obama echoed Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in labeling the United States the only “indispensable” nation. The misuse of American force over the past five decades in Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan speaks to the tragedy of our self-proclaimed status of exceptionalism.

      Unlike exceptionalism, which bears particular responsibility for U.S. militarism, we are told that greater bipartisanship is needed in U.S. foreign policy to avoid the blunders of the recent past. But bipartisanship has become part of the problem, and not a key to a solution. There is a tendency to view bipartisanship as nonpartisanship, enabling the forces of cooperation, compromise, and agreement to reach favorable political outcomes. Sadly, bipartisanship has contributed significantly to the current bankruptcy in American national security policy.

    • As deficit skyrockets, author of GOP tax bill admits cuts may not pay for themselves

      The lead architect of the 2017 Republican tax law contradicted his party’s repeated promises that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.

      Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the former chairman of the House Ways and Means and taxation committees, admitted that it was “hard to know” how much of the cuts were fully paid for at the Peterson Foundation’s annual Fiscal Summit in Washington.

      “We will know in year eight, nine or 10 what revenues it brought in to the government over time. So it’s way too early to tell,” Brady said.

      The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cost of the tax cuts is around $1.9 trillion, even when taking into account additional growth.

      Brady insisted that even if they do not pay for themselves, the tax cuts were a good investment.

    • Texas Progressive Jessica Cisneros Announces Primary Challenge to Unseat “Trump’s Favorite Democrat” in Congress

      One of the Democratic Party’s most right-wing members of Congress will have a primary challenger next year, making him the latest incumbent confronted by a progressive insurgency that’s not waiting for change.

      Jessica Cisneros, an immigration and human rights lawyer from south Texas, announced Thursday that she will take on Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) in the 2020 primary. Cisneros was recruited by Justice Democrats, the progressive group behind the 2018 campaigns of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

      In comments to HuffPost, Justice Democrats executive director Alexandra Rojas made clear there’s a target on Cuellar.

      “Our grassroots progressive movement has an opportunity to build a more accountable Democratic Party by unseating one of the worst amid our ranks and ushering in a new generation of leaders,” Rojas said.

      In her announcement video, Cisneros said that the differences between her and Cuellar were stark and that Cuellar’s right-wing voting record shows that the incumbent is not the kind of Democrat that his constituents need.

    • Sarah Sanders to Leave White House Post, Trump Says

      White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, whose tenure was marked by a breakdown in regular press briefings and questions about the administration’s credibility, as well as her own, will leave her post at the end of the month, President Donald Trump announced Thursday.

      Sanders is one of Trump’s closest and most trusted White House aides and one of the few remaining on staff who worked on his campaign.

      “After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas,” Trump tweeted just before she accompanied him to a White House event on prison reform.

    • Sarah Huckabee Sanders, A Liar, to Resign as White House Press Secretary

      Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving the White House at the end of June.

      One of the longest-serving members of the President Donald Trump administration, Sanders began her time in the press office as deputy White House press secretary. She took the full-time position on July 26, 2017, taking over for the beleaguered Sean Spicer.

    • So, What’s the Difference Between Warren and Sanders?

      Last time he ran for president, Bernie Sanders found himself odd man out in a race against Hillary Clinton, whose establishment bona fides and years of White House experience propelled her, in the end, to the nomination. But this cycle’s primary map is unfolding along more nuanced lines, with two very progressive candidates, among 21 others, on offer. And it is becoming one of the key questions in the race: What is the difference between Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)?

      In a sense, Sanders’s speech Wednesday in defense of democratic socialism seemed to answer that question at a moment when it feels most urgent. Warren has been gaining in polls lately, sealing her spot as a top-tier candidate in the crowded field and even running ahead of Sanders in a pair of new national polls. Though her campaign stumbled through a rocky start, she has steadily earned a reputation as a dogged performer and a candidate with a plan—or with several plans, routinely offering up detailed policy proposals for solving problems from student debt to unaffordable child care. She also supports Medicare-for-all and has forsworn big campaign donors.

      With all of those policy positions, there’s little for a progressive stalwart to object to in Warren. But there’s still a distinction to be drawn between her approach and Sanders’s, and much of it comes down to the matter of regulation vs. revolution.

    • ‘It Need Not Be Jail… But Get Her Out of the White House’: Groups Celebrate Call by Govt Watchdog for Trump to Fire Kellyanne Conway Over Repeated Ethics Violations

      The firing of Kellyanne Conway, one of President Donald Trump’s most loyal and longest-serving top White House aides, was recommended on Thursday by an internal government watchdog who said her blatant and repeated violation of the Hatch Act—which bars government employees from making political statements while operating in their official capacities—made a mockery of the statute.

    • Federal Watchdog Agency Recommends Kellyanne Conway Be Fired

      Taking unprecedented action, a federal watchdog agency recommended Thursday that President Donald Trump fire one of his most ardent defenders, counselor Kellyanne Conway, for repeatedly violating a law that limits political activity by government workers.

      The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which is unrelated to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, said in a letter to Trump that Conway has been a “repeat offender” of the Hatch Act by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.

    • Defining Democratic Socialism

      On Wednesday, in a major speech dedicated to democratic socialism, Bernie Sanders recalled the legacies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal by introducing a “Twenty-First-Century Economic Bill of Rights” meant to universally guarantee “the right to a decent job that pays a living wage, the right to quality healthcare, the right to a complete education, the right to affordable housing, the right to a clean environment, and the right to a secure retirement.”

      Sanders remarked, “What I believe is that the American people deserve freedom – true freedom… While the Bill of Rights protects us from the tyranny of an oppressive government, many in the establishment would like the American people to submit to the tyranny of oligarchs, multinational corporations, Wall Street banks, and billionaires… democratic socialism to me requires achieving political and economic freedom in every community in this country.”

      This likely represents Sanders’ most in-depth and full-throated articulation of what he means by democratic socialism and why it is so vitally important to combat the “right-wing forces of oligarchy, corporatism, nationalism, racism and xenophobia.”

      Sanders’ focus on defining democratic socialism as an antidote to right-wing extremism, as the natural economic extension of our universally embraced political Bill of Rights, and as the “unfinished business” of FDR and the Democratic Party is brilliant politics. He is placing democratic socialism firmly within the American political tradition and connecting it to widely held American political values in order to push back against a more than century-long smear campaign waged against the terminology and politics of socialism.

    • Democrats Worry as Trump Unleashes Money on 2020 Digital Ads

      While Democrats wage a wide open primary , President Donald Trump is blanketing battleground states with online advertising that could help set the narrative heading into the 2020 campaign.

      The blitz of ads run recently in states including Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania alarms some Democrats. They’re worried by the more than $10 million Trump and his allies have already spent on digital advertising, a drop compared with the $1 billion his campaign could spend by Election Day.

      For now, the ads are going largely unanswered as Democrats focus on their primary that’s just getting into full swing. But Trump’s early head start combined with his massive fundraising operation has stirred concern that it could be difficult for the eventual nominee to catch up.

    • How Russia’s ruling political party ‘abandoned’ the Moscow City Duma elections

      Among the politicians running this September for seats in the Moscow City Duma, there’s not a single candidate from the country’s ruling political party, United Russia, even though it held primaries in May to determine its favorites from among its members and supporters. Belonging to United Russia has become a liability for politicians in the capital, though the party’s leadership says candidates are merely trying to avoid “taking the easy road” in this fall’s elections (candidates from political parties with parliamentary representation don’t have to collect signatures to get on the ballot).

    • Trump Broadcasts Free Ad via Disney to Thuggish Regimes, requesting Hacked Dirt on Dems

      Trump revealed again on Wednesday that he has no legal or ethical compass. In an interview with ABC news Chief Anchor George Stephanopolous, Trump was asked if he would go to the FBI if a foreign government contacted him with dirt on his Democratic opponent or if he would accept the information and use it in the campaign. (See video at bottom of this page).

      Trump began by being cautious, saying he would do “both.”

      Some pundits are suggesting that Trump is becoming bold and more or less confessing to colluding with Putin against Hillary Clinton in 2016 because he smells fear on the Democrats and knows that Nancy Pelosi won’t impeach him.

    • The US Senate of Mitch the Impaler

      Comparisons are odious, Shakespeare wrote, and maybe so, but these days, virtually everything to do with Washington has become so foul-smelling that a mere comparison now and then seems like a tiptoe through the tulips.

      Comparisons: Recently, Donald Trump has been referred to as Fat Nixon, although I see him more in the mold of moldy old Andrew Johnson; corrupt, racist and about to be impeached.

      In a June 9 New York Times profile, Attorney General William Barr was compared by a former Justice Department official to “the closest thing we have to Dick Cheney,” a thought that should send a shiver up the spine of any sentient or quail-hunting American.

    • “Electability” Is Astrology for Pundits

      When Ayanna Pressley was first elected to the Boston City Council in 2009, she wasn’t the image of an “electable” candidate. In the 100 years of the Boston City Council, there had never been a woman of color.

      Fast forward eight years, and “electability” in Boston looked pretty different. In 2017, six of the 13 councilors elected were women of color, and the Council is more willing to defy the mayor and push for progressive policies. It’s possible that, come 2020, the Council will be majority female and majority people of color.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Third TV Journalist Arrested For ‘Defamatory Content’ Against Yogi Adityanath

      This is the third arrest in the case in which the district administration and the police themselves had taken cognizance to lodge two FIRs and also reported the matter to the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting after it emerged during the probe that the Noida-based news channel did not have the requisite licence to operate.

    • ‘Urinated In My Mouth’: Journalist Thrashed, Abused By Railway Police In Uttar Pradesh

      A journalist covering a train derailment in Dhimanpura, Uttar Pradesh, was beaten up by Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel in the early hours of Wednesday.

      GRP personnel, who were present on the spot, abused, kicked and beat up Amit Sharma of News 24. They snatched his camera.

      The journalist said that the cops refused to listen to him and continued to beat him.

    • Say Goodbye to the First Amendment

      “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech or of the press,” reads the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Yet, for the first time ever, a publisher is being prosecuted under the World War I-era Espionage Act. Julian Assange, co-founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, is facing 170 years in prison if he is extradited to the U.S. from the United Kingdom. The case could deal a monumental blow to the free press in the United States.

      The U.S. first charged Assange in April with attempting to help a U.S. Army whistleblower break into a military computer system, for which Assange would face up to five years in prison. Then, on May 23, the Justice Department released a superseding indictment, with the additional 17 espionage charges. The new charges, The New York Times editorial board wrote on the day they were announced, “could have a chilling effect on American journalism as it has been practiced for generations. It is aimed straight at the heart of the First Amendment.”

      The New York Times was one of many news organizations that partnered with the whistleblower website WikiLeaks in publishing material that it was provided anonymously. From its launch in 2007, WikiLeaks proved to be a reliable source for critical, documentary evidence of corporate and government malfeasance.

    • Cleansing the Platforms: YouTube, Censorship and Grievance

      Stripping the altars, burning the heretics and cleansing the stables are the usual fare of a morally crazed order. The engaged agents think they have found the reason for existence and need to bother everybody else about it. Some of this can be a very dangerous thing indeed – at least historically. Those who claim to know the truth are the very sort who are happy to fill the morgues, ban the theatres and destroy musical instruments. But when it comes to matters of social media, we are dealing with more mediocre fare. Currently, there is a spurting, childish wonder at the moves by YouTube to excise, cut and move the stuff that might be considered naughty, offensive, indoctrinating and what not.

      A burning issue centres on weeding out milk white supremacist content, merely another part of the recent surge against what might be described as extremist content (these terms remain infuriatingly vague). The Christchurch pledge, an understanding reached by heads of state and Silicon Valley tech giants last month to target such unsavoury content, proved catalytic.

      [...]

      YouTube did acknowledge in these changes that “some of this content has value to researchers and NGOs looking to understand hate in order to combat it”. This, as ever, remains the problem when a platform dictates the content of the conversation and what is permitted to circulate in it. Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Centre’s Intelligence Project mentions the obvious technical problem. “It indicates that [YouTube] have not refined well enough the difference between someone who is exploring issues of racism and hatred and someone who’s promoting it.”

      The censoring mentality is not merely dangerous towards content, but attitude. It encourages contrived fragility and the aggrieved to strike back at the disagreeable and unpleasant, not in terms of ideas but in terms of neutralisation. Carlos Maza of Vox, for instance, is making a case that the platform should be rigorously structured and censored to avoid offence on matters of sexual orientation, race and gender. He naturally makes the case that he has “pretty thick skin when it comes to online harassment” but proceeds to claim to being so bothered, he needs YouTube to take action.

    • Court Says Section 230 Shields Twitter From Revenge Porn Bro’s Stupid Lawsuit

      Former revenge porn extortionist and current pro se litigant, Craig Brittain, is one severely-narrowed complaint away from having his lawsuit against Twitter tossed. Brittain sued Twitter over the deletion of several accounts, including those he had whipped up for his Senate run.

      The court’s first pass at the lawsuit moved it to California, a venue shift Brittain explicitly agreed to each time he created another alt account. Terms of service say suing Twitter means suing in California, even if you’re an Arizonan Senate hopeful with a closet that contains nothing but skeletons.

      Contrary to Brittain’s fervent and litigious belief, there’s nothing illegal about deleting Craig Brittain’s multiple Twitter accounts. Brittain’s lawsuit tried to make it possible by treating Twitter as both a provider and a publisher, depending of which description worked out better for his arguments. The court decides to let Brittain have it both ways — and lose both ways.

    • Orwell Prize: Who Made the Cut

      The Orwell Foundation has announced the shortlist for the 2019 Orwell Journalism Prize, we thought it would be interesting to simply list the nominees and some examples of their work (The Orwell Foundation has not yet released what works were considered).

    • Content Moderation Is Impossible: You Can’t Expect Moderators To Understand Satire Or Irony

      If you’re unfamiliar with that particular Twitter account, it is a popular account that pretends to tweet pithy statements from “God” that attempt (often not very well, in my opinion) to be funny in a sort of ironic, satirical way. I’ve found it to miss a lot more than it hits, but that’s only my personal opinion. Apparently, Twitter’s content moderation elves had a problem with the tweet above. And it’s not hard to see why. Somewhere Twitter has a set of rules that include that it’s a violation of its rules to mock certain classes of people — and that includes making fun of people for their sexual orientation, which violates Twitter’s rules on “hateful conduct.” And it’s not difficult to see how a random content moderation employee would skim a tweet like the one flagged above, not recognize the context, the fact that it’s an attempt at satire, and flag it as a problem.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Russian lawmakers want to raise the fines on Twitter and Facebook more than 1,000-fold

      A bill has been submitted to Russia’s State Duma that would impose multi-million-ruble fines on Internet companies that refuse to store Russian users’ personal data on servers located in Russia, and on tech companies that repeatedly fail to surrender encryption keys to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

      Under the draft legislation, legal entities that fail to comply with Russia’s data-localization requirements would risk fines between 2 and 6 million rubles ($30,980 and $92,930) for first offenses, and fines as high as 18 million rubles ($278,820) for repeat violations. Repeat refusals to surrender user-correspondence encryption keys to the FSB would result in fines between 2 and 6 million rubles.

    • Google: We’re not killing ad blockers. Translation: We made them too powerful, we’ll cram this genie back in its bottle

      Google on Wednesday defended its pending work-in-progress updates to Chrome that will change the way extensions filter out web adverts and other content.

      The US tech titan insisted that its still-hazy browser extension API revision, known as Manifest v3, won’t kill ad blockers, and that it will make them safer… albeit without offering any evidence that ad-blocking extensions specifically represent a threat.

      Of course, ad blockers do pose a threat to one thing close to home: Google’s bottom line, and that’s according to its own financial filings. While the online advertising giant may rightly see ad-blocking extensions as a revenue risk, it hasn’t established they’re a security risk – in fact, the extensions can defend against malicious JavaScript code, typically loaded via bad ads, by blocking it.

    • New Hampshire, ACLU Fighting Back Against DEA’s Warrantless Access To Sensitive Medical Records

      The DEA regulates controlled substances, including medications containing controlled substances. The DEA has taken this to mean any number of medical privacy laws don’t apply to it. If the DEA was forced to respect the law, well, it might just mean some drug dispensation wouldn’t be quite as closely regulated as the agency wants it to be.

      Since drugs have a war on them, the DEA has been given a long leash to investigate drug use/abuse. The DEA has argued in court that federal law overrules state-level privacy provisions. It has also done less legal things, like impersonate medical board investigators to gain access to denied records and ignored warrant requirements instituted by state legislatures.

      This last tactic worked — up to a point — in Oregon. It resulted in the state suing the DEA for ignoring state warrant requirements when pulling records from Oregon’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The same thing is happening in New Hampshire. The fed DOJ got stiff-armed by the state DOJ when seeking warrantless access to medical records.

    • Lawsuits Claim Amazon’s Alexa Illegally Records Children

      Many people these days add an Echo device to their kitchen to help them with certain tasks throughout the day such as news, weather reports, information requests, recipe help, communication, etc. Kids like to use Alexa, too, asking to hear their favorite song perhaps.

      But a pair of lawsuits against Amazon claim it’s not all that safe for children and that the Alexa voice assistant is illegally recording children without their consent.

    • Facebook Worries Emails Could Show Zuckerberg Knew of Questionable Privacy Practices

      Within the company, the unearthing of the emails in the process of responding to a continuing federal privacy investigation has raised concerns that they would be harmful to Facebook—at least from a public-relations standpoint—if they were to become public, one of the people said.

      The potential impact of the internal emails has been a factor in the tech giant’s desire to reach a speedy settlement of the investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, one of the people said. Facebook is operating under a 2012 consent decree with the agency related to privacy, and the emails sent around that time suggest that Mr. Zuckerberg and other senior executives didn’t make compliance with the FTC order a priority, the people said.

      It couldn’t be determined exactly what emails the agency has requested and how many of them relate to Mr. Zuckerberg.

    • Zuckerberg’s Old Emails Could Reveal He Knew About Flawed Privacy Practices

      Facebook’s fate now involves controversies that have ignited after the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. Following all the data-breach issues, Facebook could now land up in a new one — courtesy — Mark Zuckerberg’s old emails.

      According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook’s employees (close to the matter) have found old emails that suggest that CEO Mark Zuckerberg was aware of the problematic privacy practices.

    • Securing The Nation With Insecure Databases: CBP Vendor Hacked, Exposing Thousands Of License Plate, Car Passenger Photos

      US Customs and Border Protection has suffered an inevitability in the data collection business. The breach was first reported by the Washington Post. It first appeared to affect the DHS’s airport facial recognition system, but further details revealed it was actually a border crossing database that was compromised.

      The breach involved photos of travelers and their vehicles, which shows the CPB is linking people to vehicles with this database, most likely to make it easier to tie the two together with the billions of records ICE has access to through Vigilant’s ALPR database.

      The breach involved a contractor not following the rules of its agreement with the CBP. According to the vendor agreement, all harvested data was supposed to remain on the government’s servers. This breach targeted the vendor, which means the contractor had exfiltrated photos and plate images it was specifically forbidden from moving to its own servers.

    • Big Mood Machine

      In appealing to advertisers, Spotify also celebrates its position as a background experience and in particular how this benefits advertisers and brands. Jorge Espinel, who was Head of Global Business Development at Spotify for five years, once said in an interview: “We love to be a background experience. You’re competing for consumer attention. Everyone is fighting for the foreground. We have the ability to fight for the background. And really no one is there. You’re doing your email, you’re doing your social network, etcetera.” In other words, it is in advertisers’ best interests that Spotify stays a background experience.

      When a platform like Spotify sells advertisers on its mood-boosting, background experience, and then bakes these aims into what it recommends to listeners, a twisted form of behavior manipulation is at play. It’s connected to what Shoshana Zuboff, in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for A Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, calls the “behavioral futures market”—where “many companies are eager to lay their bets on our future behavior.”

      Indeed, Spotify seeks not just to monitor and mine our mood, but also to manipulate future behavior. [...]

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Among Some Hate Groups, Porn Is Viewed as a Conspiracy

      “In any sort of fundamentalist culture, there is a desire to control sexuality, and this one’s no different,” he said.

    • Aadhaar Amendment Bill gets Cabinet approval, to be introduced in upcoming Parliament session

      The Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a Bill to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar as identity proof for opening bank accounts and procuring mobile phone connections.

      The Bill — which will be in form of amendment to Aadhaar Act 2016 and other laws and will replace an ordinance issued in March, 2019 — also proposes stiff penalties for violation of norms.

      The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 will be introduced in the ensuing session of Parliament, beginning June 17.

    • This College Student Used Snapchat’s Gender Filter to Catch an Alleged Sex Predator

      “Earlier today, a San Mateo Police officer was arrested by the San Jose Police Department for alleged crimes that occurred while he was off-duty in another county,” the San Mateo Police Department wrote in the statement, which was posted on Facebook. “As soon as we became aware of the investigation by San Jose, the officer was placed on paid administrative leave and remains on administrative leave. While the criminal investigation is still running its course, this charge, if true, is disturbing and the conduct alleged violates the very values and principles of this department.”

    • Why Hong Kong’s protesters are braving tear gas and rubber bullets

      In fact, there was no omission, says Margaret Ng, a barrister who represented the legal profession in Hong Kong’s legislature from 1995 to 2012, under first British then Chinese rule. When drafting an extradition law before the handover in 1997 officials took a deliberate decision to maintain a firewall between Hong Kong’s justice system and that of the mainland, “to protect the rule of law in Hong Kong and confidence in Hong Kong as an international hub free from China’s much mistrusted system.”

    • Coming Out—Again—in the Trump Era

      Challenging times call for challenging actions, and we are living in such a time.

      Globally, we are facing multiple challenges—environmental, economic and otherwise—but I am focusing here on social conditions in the United States, and since it’s Pride Month, specifically on sexual identity.

      Two and a half years into the Trump administration, there’s no doubt that expressions of bigotry have increased, online and IRL. Rhetoric against anyone not white, straight, male and a U.S. citizen has been growing more vile. Not just words have been thrown, but punches too. Violence has ticked up.

      The U.S. has never been an accepting and inclusive place, of course. The nation was founded on the theft of land from Native Americans. Much of its wealth was built on the enslavement of Africans. The domestic sector was (and remains) dependent on the unpaid labor of women of all colors.

      However, thanks to a nexus of demographics, wealth and awareness, following decades of dedicated activism, something called the Sixties happened, and society softened a bit. This phenomena happened throughout the industrialized nations of the time. The result was a period of more openness in culture and increased rights under the law.

    • There Has Been an Explosion of Homicides in California’s County Jails. Here’s Why.

      Deadly violence has surged in county jails across California since the state began sending thousands of inmates to local lockups instead of prisons, the result of a dramatic criminal justice transformation that left many sheriffs ill-equipped to handle a new and dangerous population.

      Since 2011, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to overhaul its overcrowded prisons, inmate-on-inmate homicides have risen 46% in county jails statewide compared with the seven years before, a McClatchy and ProPublica analysis of California Department of Justice data and autopsy records shows.

      Killings tripled and even quadrupled in several counties.

      The increase in violent deaths in jails began soon after California officials approved sweeping reforms called “realignment” in response to the court ruling. The result has meant the conditions in many jails now mirror those in the once-overcrowded prisons, with inmates killing each other at an increasing rate.

      Inmates have stabbed, bludgeoned or strangled their cellmates, moved bodies and wiped away blood before guards noticed, autopsy reports show. Staff at the jails have missed several of the crimes entirely, only finding the bodies hours later.

    • Wyden Bill to Strip Tax Breaks From Private Prison Industry Profiting From Child Detentions

      President Donald Trump’s administration continues to detain migrants at the southern border in conditions that one expert believes approximate concentration camps, but those that profit off of migrant detentions may find the spigot of government cash isn’t a renewable resource.

      A bill proposed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Thursday would strip private prisons of the ability to be considered real estate investment trusts (REITs). REITs allow for a special tax exemption that sees companies taxed at the individual rather than corporate level—or at the point of dividend payments for shareholders, but not at the point of profits for the companies.

      In a statement, Wyden explained why he believed the move was necessary, citing the moral imperative of the moment.

      “The private prison industry is booming, particularly with the Trump administration holding more immigrants in detention than any time over nearly the past 20 years,” said Wyden. “Companies that profit off of putting children in cages shouldn’t get tax breaks.”

    • Elderly Russian scientist jailed on treason charges is denied house arrest over an email the U.S. embassy says is spam

      A court has refused to grant house arrest to Viktor Kudryavtsev (the 75-year-old Russian scientist charged with treason for allegedly sharing secret information with a Belgian institute), citing an email he received that claims he’s been pre-approved for a green card in the United States. Ivan Pavlov, the scientist’s attorney, told Meduza that this message was only spam.

      Catherine Holt, the consular section chief at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, told Pavlov that the American government never transmits decisions to “Diversity Visa” lottery participants by email. Scammers often send messages like the one found in Kudryavtsev’s inbox, Holt explained in a letter, adding that the Russian scientist never applied for a U.S. green card.

    • No More Deaths: Mistrial Declared After Jury Refuses to Convict Scott Warren for Aiding Migrants

      In Tucson, Arizona, a jury has refused to convict humanitarian activist Scott Warren, who faced up to 20 years in prison for providing water, food, clean clothes and beds to two undocumented migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona. Warren’s trial ended Tuesday in a mistrial after a deadlocked jury was unable to deliver a verdict. Eight jurors thought Warren was not guilty; four thought he was guilty. A status hearing is scheduled for July 2. Prosecutors have declined to comment on whether they would seek a retrial against Warren. We speak with Ryan Devereaux, a staff reporter at The Intercept who has covered Warren’s case extensively.

    • Review: Chris Arnade’s “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America”

      Sometimes we give them a dollar or so, afraid to give them more than that for fear that they’ll spend the money on drugs. We may hand them a granola bar or something else we keep in our cars to make us feel good about what we do.

      Arnade quickly learned that many of these people congregated in and around their local McDonald’s, often for warmth and safety. “Most people didn’t ask for money, even the most desperate.” What they wanted was someone to talk to, someone who listens to them. My son is a social clinician, who has told me the same thing: people need someone to listen to them. Arnade bought them meals at McDonald’s, sometimes a package of cigarettes; sometimes he gave them a few dollars, but not enough for drugs. After a while at Hucks Point, he moved on, mostly to black neighborhoods in Buffalo, Selma, and Milwaukee. Then, finally, for balance to “poor white communities, like Prestonburg, Kentucky; Briston, Tennessee; and the Ozarks.” He put 150,000 miles on his car. He is opaque about his family’s reaction to his work and his obvious absence, presumably for lengthy periods of time.

      This is how he concludes his introduction: “What [these communities] had in common was that all were poor and rarely considered or talked about beyond being a place of problems. All had been described as left behind, despite some, like Hunts Point, being adjacent to rich and successful neighborhoods…. Despite their differences—black, white, Hispanic, rural, urban—they were all similar to Hunts Point in one important way: despite being stigmatized, ignored, and made fun of, most of the people I met were fighting to maintain dignity.”

    • Staten Island’s Liberal Complicity Killed Eric Garner

      Not long ago, I wrote in Counterpunch that the “Forgotten Borough” Staten Island, New York is not like the rest of the city, noted Professor of Political Science Richard Flanagan at College of Staten Island CUNY. On November 6, 2018 however, the night that Max Rose (D) defeated Dan Donovan (R) to represent New York’s 11th congressional district in the US House of Representatives, a member of Staten Island Women Who March (SIWWM) cried tears of joy, prompting the owner of Errigo’s to ask, “congratulations, is he your son?” She replied, “No” but the conversation that followed involved voting, civic duty, the limitations of electoral politics, and the difficulty of turning a red district blue, with all of the emotions that might entail.

      Meanwhile Democracy Now! featured political activist and organizer Linda Sarsour, journalist Jeremy Scahill, and commentator Ryan Grim. Although Staten Island remains a Republican stronghold, and Rose was only the second Democrat to win the seat since 1981, Barack Obama received 48% of Staten Island’s vote in 2008 and won the island outright in 2012. As it turned out, Rose won in stunning fashion, and outperformed the incumbent in both Brooklyn and Staten Island respectively.

      Since New York’s 11th is Sarsour’s district, Scahill asked her to tell the audience about Dan Donovan, the incumbent that Max Rose had just defeated. She responded with, “Dan Donovan was the district attorney at one point, who could not indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who choked Eric Garner on video for the whole country to watch, for the whole world to watch. And he actually immediately after that won a seat in Congress. He beat a Democrat (Vincent Gentile in a special election) to get into Congress. He was almost rewarded for the non-indictment of officer Pantaleo.”

      Sarsour continued with, “And today he was beat. He was beat by a very young man, a young Democrat, Max Rose, and in a district that has changing demographics. It’s longtime been like the “Mississippi of the North.” But new immigrants, new Americans, young progressives, people of color, black people on the North Shore, [and] a large Latino community has come together and Dan Donovan is out of a job. And we were the only district in New York City that gave a Republican to Congress. And now New York City has become fully, a Democratic delegation.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Here’s Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends report

      Meeker first crafted a report of this kind, which underlines the most important statistics and technology trends on the internet, in 1995.

      This morning, Meeker highlighted slowed growth in e-commerce sales, increased internet ad spending, data growth, as well as the rise of freemium subscription business models, telemedicine, photo-sharing, interactive gaming, the on-demand economy and more.

    • Google Stadia Is About To Show Everyone Why Broadband Usage Caps Are Bullshit

      We’ve noted for years how broadband providers have increasingly imposed arbitrary, confusing, and punitive usage caps and overage fees to cash in on the lack of competition in US broadband. Not only have industry executives admitted these limits aren’t technically necessary, they’ve increasingly been abused to hamstring competitors. AT&T, for example, doesn’t impose the limits on its broadband customers who use its streaming video service (DirecTV Now), but will impose the added charges if you use a competitor like Netflix.

      For more than a decade ISPs have slowly but surely imposed such limits hoping that consumers wouldn’t notice (think of the frog in the pot of boiling water metaphor with you as the frog). But as video streaming services have increasingly embraced high-bandwidth 4K streaming, consumer usage has started to collide with this arbitrary restrictions.

    • FCC Pats Itself On The Back For ‘New’ Robocall Plan That Isn’t New, Has No Real Teeth

      The Ajit Pai FCC has been making the rounds the last few weeks patting itself on the back for its new anti-robocall initiative. But while the tech press has kind of tripped over itself to suggest the plan is a dramatic departure from FCC robocall policies of the past, the reality is there’s little to nothing in the plan that’s actually new. The biggest change is a new FCC rule adjustment that would let wireless carriers install robocalling blocking tools on consumer devices by default, in contrast to the current paradigm where consumers have to opt in (assuming the tools are offered at all).

      [...]

      Here’s the thing though. While the plan urges wireless carriers to offer robocall blocking technology by default, and encourages them to deploy anti-spoofing tech to help prevent robocallers from hiding their real numbers, there’s absolutely nothing in the plan that actually requires they do so. And while Pai has suggested he’ll take “regulatory action” if carriers don’t, there’s little to nothing in Pai’s history that suggests he’s capable of standing up to carriers should they lag on such adoption. In the two years since being appointed by Trump, Pai has yet to stand up to carriers on a single policy proposal of any real measure. As in: ever.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Aussie Blocking Juggernaut Continues With 105 More ‘Pirate’ Domains

        Village Roadshow, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox and several other studios have obtained yet another injunction to block pirate sites in Australia. The order, handed down by the Federal Court this week, lists 104 domains spread over 76 sites, all of which must be blocked by the country’s ISPs.

      • LaLiga’s app listened in on fans to catch bars illegally streaming soccer

        Using a Shazam-like technology, the app would record audio to identify soccer games, and use the geolocation of the phone to locate which bars were streaming without licenses. El Diario reports that fans have downloaded that app more than 10 million times, essentially turning them into undercover narcs. The league claims that the app asks for permission to access the phone’s microphone and location, and that the data — which is received as a code, not audio — is only used to detect LaLiga streams. The app does explain in the terms of service that by giving the app permission, users are consenting to LaLiga using their phones to detect fraudulent behavior, like pirated soccer games.

      • Countries with longer copyright terms have access to fewer books (pay attention, Canada!)

        Rebecca Giblin (previously) writes, “We’ve just dropped a new study we’ve been working on for a year. You know how it keeps being claimed that we need longer copyrights because nobody will invest in making works available if they’re in the public domain? Heald and some others have done some great work debunking that in the US context, but now we’ve finally tested this hypothesis in other countries by looking at the relative availability of ebooks to libraries. It’s also the first time anyone has been able to compare availability of identical works (by significant authors) across jurisdictions. The books we sampled were all in the public domain in Canada and NZ, all under copyright in Australia, and a mix in the US (courtesy of its historical renewal system).”

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