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06.25.19

Links 25/6/2019: Mesa Releases, Less Microsoft in Apache

Posted in News Roundup at 3:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Five Linux Server Administration Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

      In 2017, an employee at GitLab, the version control hosting platform, was asked to replicate a database of production data. Because of a configuration error, the replication did not work as expected, so the employee decided to remove the data that had been transferred and try again. He ran a command to delete the unwanted data, only to realize with mounting horror that he had entered the command into an SSH session connected to a production server, deleting hundreds of gigabytes of user data. Every seasoned system administrator can tell you a similar story.

      The Linux command line gives server admins control of their servers and the data stored on them, but it does little to stop them running destructive commands with consequences that can’t be undone. Accidental data deletion is just one type of mistake that new server administrators make.

    • Skytap Announces General Availability of IBM i in the Public Cloud, Leads Ecosystem to New Opportunities

      Skytap, a global, purpose-built cloud service, announces that its support for the IBM i operating system is now available in US-West, US-Central and EMEA-UK. Available for purchase in hourly, monthly and annual consumption models, this release broadens Skytap’s support for IBM Power Systems-based applications that can be developed, tested and run in production.

      In the 2017/2018 Logicalis Global CIO Survey, most CIOs indicated they are focused on digital transformation, with 44 percent citing complex legacy infrastructure as a main barrier in this transformation.

    • Instaclustr Releases Service Broker to Seamlessly Integrate Customers’ Kubernetes Applications within the Instaclustr Open-Source-as-a-Service Platform
    • MariaDB 10.3 now available on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7

      Red Hat Software Collections supplies the latest, stable versions of development tools and components for Red Hat Enterprise Linux via two release trains per year. As part of the Red Hat Software Collections 3.3 release, we are pleased to announce that MariaDB 10.3 is now available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.

    • Quarkus 0.17.0 now available

      Quarkus continues its cadence of delivering a release every 2-3 weeks. This latest release (0.17.0) contains 125+ changes that include new features, bug fixes, and documentation updates.

    • Recap of Kubernetes Contributor Summit Barcelona 2019

      First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who made the Kubernetes Contributor Summit in Barcelona possible. We had an amazing team of volunteers tasked with planning and executing the event, and it was so much fun meeting and talking to all new and current contributors during the main event and the pre-event celebration.

      Contributor Summit in Barcelona kicked off KubeCon + CloudNativeCon in a big way as it was the largest contributor summit to date with 331 people signed up, and only 9 didn’t pick up their badges!

    • The innovation delusion

      If traditional planning is dead, then why do so many organizations still invest in planning techniques optimized for the Industrial Revolution?

      One reason might be that we trick ourselves into thinking innovation is the kind of thing we can accomplish with a structured, linear process. When we do this, I think we’re confusing our stories about innovation with the process of innovation itself—and the two are very different.

    • Top Web Based Docker Monitoring Tools

      It is an open source platform and enables administrations to manage and run Docker in creation. It offers the whole program stack that is desired to achieve containers in production and it can be simply installed on any engine that can run Docker. After installation, all nodes can be easily configured and organized through the UI Web. You can get complex functions such as load and manage balancing out of the box after a few clicks.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.1.15

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.1.15 kernel.

      All users of the 5.1 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.1.y git tree can be found at:

      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.1.y

      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

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

    • Linux 4.19.56
    • Linux 4.14.130
    • Introducing people.kernel.org

      Ever since the demise of Google+, many developers have expressed a desire to have a service that would provide a way to create and manage content in a format that would be more rich and easier to access than email messages sent to LKML.

      Today, we would like to introduce people.kernel.org, which is an ActivityPub-enabled federated platform powered by WriteFreely and hosted by very nice and accommodating folks at write.as.

    • Deprecating a.out Binaries

      Remember a.out binaries? They were the file format of the Linux kernel till around 1995 when ELF took over. ELF is better. It allows you to load shared libraries anywhere in memory, while a.out binaries need you to register shared library locations. That’s fine at small scales, but it gets to be more and more of a headache as you have more and more shared libraries to deal with. But a.out is still supported in the Linux source tree, 25 years after ELF became the standard default format.

      Recently, Borislav Petkov recommended deprecating it in the source tree, with the idea of removing it if it turned out there were no remaining users. He posted a patch to implement the deprecation. Alan Cox also remarked that “in the unlikely event that someone actually has an a.out binary they can’t live with, they can also just write an a.out loader as an ELF program entirely in userspace.”

    • Intel UMWAIT Support Queued For Linux 5.3 – New Feature For Tremont Cores

      Adding to the growing list of features for the upcoming Linux 5.3 kernel is now Intel UMWAIT support for better power-savings.

      UMWAIT is a new feature for Intel Tremont CPUs cores. UMWAIT can help enhance power savings during idle periods with “user mode wait” functionality. UMWAIT allows for monitoring a range of addresses in a lightweight power/performance state or an enhanced mode that can still help with conserving power but less so in order to offer lower latencies. UMWAIT is intended to be used as an alternative to kernel spinloops when needing to wait/sleep for short periods of time when the system is idle.

    • Linux 5.3 Kernel To Bring Ingenic KMS Driver, Rockchip RK3328 Support

      A final set of drm-misc-next Direct Rendering Manager driver changes were sent out at the end of last week as the remaining feature work now queued up for the upcoming Linux 5.3 kernel merge window.

      A new DRM/KMS driver coming with Linux 5.3 is the Ingenic KMS/DRM driver for supporting the Ingenic JZ47xx SoC hardware. This is intended to replace the existing Linux frame-buffer driver for the same hardware.

      For Linux 5.3 the driver is quite basic but there are plans by its developer to support multiple planes, IPU integration for colorspace conversion, up/down scaling, support for DSI displays, and TV-out / HDMI outputs.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linus Torvalds Sees Lots of Hardware Headaches Ahead

        Linux founder Linus Torvalds, today at the KubeCon + CloudNative + Open Source Summit China conference, warned attendees that managing software is about to become a lot more challenging, largely because of two hardware issues that are beyond the control of DevOps teams.

        [...]

        In the meantime, Torvalds noted updates to the Linux kernel are still coming at a rate of every three months, and the Linux team is basically working on a six-month planning cycle—there is no master five-year plan the Linux team is working from. Roughly 1,500 developers work on contributions to the Linux kernel, with 100 maintainers overseeing the implementation of those contributions.

        Naturally, cybersecurity patches at the kernel level have significant implications for all of DevOps. Changes to the kernel need to be absorbed by all the various distributions of Linux, which in turn impacts all the stacks of software that depend on Linux. Jim Zemlin, executive director for The Linux Foundation, said that in the wake of the rise of these hardware issues and previous cybersecurity issues involving open source software such as the Heartbleed vulnerability, cybersecurity is the top priority for The Linux Foundation. As part of that effort, The Linux Foundation is researching various DevSecOps approaches to better securing the global open source supply chain, he said.

      • Linux Foundation to become home of WeBank’s FATE

        The Linux Foundation announced the inclusion of federated learning framework FATE into the organisation.

        The project has been contributed by Chinese digital bank WeBank, with organisations such as AI computing platform provider Clustar, e-commerce company JD.com’s subsidiary JD Intelligent Cities Research, and WeBank initiator Tencent already committed to the cause.

        Linux Foundation’s executive director Jim Zemlin explained the move in a canned statement, saying “A secure computing framework is critical for developers who are using data and models to build the latest applications across financial services, manufacturing, healthcare and more.”

      • MATRIXX Software Joins Linux Foundation Networking to Advance Next Generation of Telco Services

        MATRIXX Software, an innovation powerhouse committed to transforming global commerce, today announced it has joined Linux Foundation Networking (LFN) as a silver member. MATRIXX is participating in the foundation’s programs to provide guidance related to advancing a new generation of services inspired by web-scale best practices.

    • Graphics Stack

      • mesa 19.0.7
        Hi List,
        
        I'd like to announce the availability of mesa 19.0.7. This is the last release
        of the mesa 19.0 series, and all users are encouraged to migrate 19.1.x instead.
        
        I'd like to apologize for the lateness of this release, in my defence I was on
        vacation most of the 19.0.7 cycle and there were several patches that needed
        backport.
        
        There's nothing too crazy here for the final release of the series. It's pretty
        spread across the system except for radv which had a number of small bug fixes.
        
        Thanks again for the smooth sailing 19.0.x series, I'll see y'all again as
        release manager in October for the 19.3 cycle.
        
        Dylan
        
        Bas Nieuwenhuizen (5):
              radv: Prevent out of bound shift on 32-bit builds.
              radv: Decompress DCC when the image format is not allowed for buffers.
              radv: Fix vulkan build in meson.
              anv: Fix vulkan build in meson.
              meson: Allow building radeonsi with just the android platform.
        
        Charmaine Lee (1):
              svga: Remove unnecessary check for the pre flush bit for setting vertex buffers
        
        Deepak Rawat (1):
              winsys/svga/drm: Fix 32-bit RPCI send message
        
        Dylan Baker (4):
              docs: Add SHA256 sums for 19.0.6
              cherry-ignore: add additional 19.1 only patches
              Bump version for 19.0.7 release
              Docs add 19.0.7 release notes
        
        Emil Velikov (1):
              mapi: correctly handle the full offset table
        
        Gert Wollny (2):
              virgl: Add a caps feature check version
              virgl: Assume sRGB write control for older guest kernels or virglrenderer hosts
        
        Haihao Xiang (1):
              i965: support UYVY for external import only
        
        Jason Ekstrand (2):
              nir/propagate_invariant: Don't add NULL vars to the hash table
              anv: Set STATE_BASE_ADDRESS upper bounds on gen7
        
        Kenneth Graunke (1):
              glsl: Fix out of bounds read in shader_cache_read_program_metadata
        
        Kevin Strasser (2):
              gallium/winsys/kms: Fix dumb buffer bpp
              st/mesa: Add rgbx handling for fp formats
        
        Lionel Landwerlin (2):
              intel/perf: fix EuThreadsCount value in performance equations
              intel/perf: improve dynamic loading config detection
        
        Mathias Fröhlich (1):
              egl: Don't add hardware device if there is no render node v2.
        
        Nanley Chery (1):
              anv/cmd_buffer: Initalize the clear color struct for CNL+
        
        Nataraj Deshpande (1):
              anv: Fix check for isl_fmt in assert
        
        Samuel Pitoiset (5):
              radv: fix alpha-to-coverage when there is unused color attachments
              radv: fix setting CB_SHADER_MASK for dual source blending
              radv: fix occlusion queries on VegaM
              radv: fix VK_EXT_memory_budget if one heap isn't available
              radv: fix FMASK expand with SRGB formats
        
        
        
        git tag: mesa-19.0.7
        
      • Mesa 19.0.7 Now Available As The Last Of The Series

        Mesa 19.0.7 was released on Monday as the last Mesa 19.0 stable release, ending this quarterly update series from Q1.

        Mesa 19.0.7 is the end of the line and users are encouraged to move to Mesa 19.1 stable, which has been out since earlier this month. Mesa 19.2 is where all feature development is happening and it should be released around the end of August or more likely will end up being September due to blocker bugs often ending up delaying the releases.

      • Mesa 19.1.1
        Mesa 19.1.1 is now available.
        
        In this release we have:
        
        Mostly in fixes for different drivers (RADV, ANV,
        Nouveau, Virgl, V3D, R300g, ...)
        
        Also different fixes for different parts (Meson build, GLX,
        etc).
        
        
        Alejandro Piñeiro (1):
              v3d: fix checking twice auf flag
        
        Bas Nieuwenhuizen (5):
              radv: Skip transitions coming from external queue.
              radv: Decompress DCC when the image format is not allowed for buffers.
              radv: Fix vulkan build in meson.
              anv: Fix vulkan build in meson.
              meson: Allow building radeonsi with just the android platform.
        
        Dave Airlie (1):
              nouveau: fix frees in unsupported IR error paths.
        
        Eduardo Lima Mitev (1):
              freedreno/a5xx: Fix indirect draw max_indices calculation
        
        Eric Engestrom (3):
              util/futex: fix dangling pointer use
              glx: fix glvnd pointer types
              util/os_file: resize buffer to what was actually needed
        
        Gert Wollny (1):
              virgl: Assume sRGB write control for older guest kernels or virglrenderer hosts
        
        Haihao Xiang (1):
              i965: support UYVY for external import only
        
        Jason Ekstrand (1):
              anv: Set STATE_BASE_ADDRESS upper bounds on gen7
        
        Juan A. Suarez Romero (3):
              docs: Add SHA256 sums for 19.1.0
              Update version to 19.1.1
              docs: add release notes for 19.1.1
        
        Kenneth Graunke (2):
              glsl: Fix out of bounds read in shader_cache_read_program_metadata
              iris: Fix iris_flush_and_dirty_history to actually dirty history.
        
        Kevin Strasser (2):
              gallium/winsys/kms: Fix dumb buffer bpp
              st/mesa: Add rgbx handling for fp formats
        
        Lionel Landwerlin (2):
              anv: do not parse genxml data without INTEL_DEBUG=bat
              intel/dump: fix segfault when the app hasn't accessed the device
        
        Mathias Fröhlich (1):
              egl: Don't add hardware device if there is no render node v2.
        
        Richard Thier (1):
              r300g: restore performance after RADEON_FLAG_NO_INTERPROCESS_SHARING was added
        
        Rob Clark (1):
              freedreno/a6xx: un-swap X24S8_UINT
        
        Samuel Pitoiset (4):
              radv: fix occlusion queries on VegaM
              radv: fix VK_EXT_memory_budget if one heap isn't available
              radv: fix FMASK expand with SRGB formats
              radv: disable viewport clamping even if FS doesn't write Z
        
        git tag: mesa-19.1.1
        
      • Mesa 19.1.1 Released – Led By RADV & Intel Driver Fixes

        Mesa 19.1.1 is out as the first point release to this quarter’s Mesa 19.1 series that was christened earlier this month.

    • Benchmarks

      • Benchmarking The Experimental Bcachefs File-System Against Btrfs, EXT4, F2FS, XFS & ZFS

        Bcachefs is the file-system born out of the Linux kernel’s block cache code and has been worked on the past several years by developer Kent Overstreet. Our most recent benchmarking of Bcachefs was last year, so with the prospects of Bcachefs potentially being staged soon in the mainline Linux kernel, I ran some benchmarks using the latest kernel code for this next-generation file-system.
        Those unfamiliar with this copy-on-write file-system can learn more at Bcachefs.org. The design features of this file-system are similar to ZFS/Btrfs and include native encryption, snapshots, compression, caching, multi-device/RAID support, and more. But even with all of its features, it aims to offer XFS/EXT4-like performance, which is something that can’t generally be said for Btrfs.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.16.2 Desktop Environment Released with More Than 30 Bug Fixes

        Coming just one week after the first point release, the KDE Plasma 5.16.2 maintenance update is here to add yet another layer of bug fixes with the ultimate goal to make the KDE Plasma 5.16 desktop environment more stable and reliable for users. In particular, this second point release introduces a total of 34 changes across various core components and apps.

        “Today KDE releases a bugfix update to KDE Plasma 5, versioned 5.16.2. Plasma 5.16 was released in June with many feature refinements and new modules to complete the desktop experience. This release adds a week’s worth of new translations and fixes from KDE’s contributors. The bugfixes are typically small but important,” reads today’s announcement.

      • Plasma 5.16.2
      • An easier way to test Plasma

        Having the Plasma and Usability & Productivity sprints held at the same time and place had an unexpected benefit: we were able to come up with a way to make it easier to test a custom-compiled version of Plasma!

        Previously, we had some documentation that asked people to create a shell script on their computers, copy files to various locations, and perform a few other steps. Unfortunately, many of the details were out of date, and the whole process was quite error-prone. It turned out that almost none of the Plasma developers at the sprint were actually using this method, and each had cobbled together something for themselves. Some (including myself) had given up on it and were doing Plasma development in a virtual machine.

        So we put some time into easing this pain by making Plasma itself produce all the right pieces automatically when compiled from source. Then, we created a simple script to install everything properly.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Shell 3.33.3

        GNOME Shell provides core user interface functions for the GNOME 3 desktop, like switching to windows and launching applications. GNOME Shell takes advantage of the capabilities of modern graphics hardware and introduces innovative user interface concepts to provide a visually attractive and easy to use experience.

      • GNOME Shell & Mutter See Their 3.33.3 Releases With Notable X11/Wayland Changes

        Arriving late, a few days after the GNOME 3.33.3 development snapshot, the Mutter and GNOME Shell updates are now available.

        The Mutter 3.33.3 window manager / compositor update is notable with preparations for running XWayland on-demand — a.k.a. just when needed for X11 client usage and not constantly. The Mutter update also now honors the startup sequence workspace on Wayland, fixes around fractional scaling, adds the new Sysprof-based profiling support, adds mouse and locate-pointer accessibility, consolidates the frame throttling code, improves screencasting support on multi-monitor systems, fixes running X11 applications with sudo under Wayland, adds initial KMS transactional support, and there are many bug fixes.

      • GStreamer Rust bindings 0.14.0 release

        Apart from updating to GStreamer 1.16, this release is mostly focussed on adding more bindings for various APIs and general API cleanup and bugfixes.

        The most notable API additions in this release are bindings for gst::Memory and gst::Allocator as well as bindings for gst_base::BaseParse and gst_video::VideoDecoder and VideoEncoder. The latter also come with support for implementing subclasses and the gst-plugins-rs module contains an video decoder and parser (for CDG), and a video encoder (for AV1) based on this.

      • Sysprof design work

        Since my last post, I’ve been working on a redesign of Sysprof (among other things) to make it a bit more useful and friendly to newcomers.

        Many years ago, I worked on a small profiler project called “Perfkit” that never really went anywhere. I had already done most of my UI research for this years ago, so it was pretty much just a matter of applying that design to the Sysprof code-base.

  • Distributions

    • 5 tiny Linux distros to try before you die

      There are plenty of Linux distributions out there to choose from when you’re deciding what to run on a daily basis, yet some are so small that they get little notice. But tiny Linux distributions are powerful innovations: having an entire operating system drive a computer with less than 1GB of storage and half as much RAM is the ultimate software hack.

      Tiny distros have many uses, such as…

    • Reviews

      • Zorin OS 15 Released – Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and Introduce Zorin Connect

        Zorin OS 15 is the latest release of Zorin OS, based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS with the HWE (Hardware Enablement) kernel and graphics stack from Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish). using GNOME 3.30 as default desktop environment with refreshed and refined the look and feel of the Zorin OS desktop with a new, more welcoming desktop theme.

        A new and refreshed look was given to Zorin OS 15 with a beautiful and welcoming desktop theme that adapts throughout the day, switching automatically between the Light and Dark modes, while also offering users no less than six color variants. The new desktop theme also comes with new animations for a complete experience.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 1 Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

        SUSE has announced the general availability of the first Service Pack (SP1) release for their latest and most advanced SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 operating system series.
        Released a year ago, the SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 operating system brought numerous new features and enhancements, along with an updated application delivery solution and software-defined infrastructure to help enterprises better adapt and transform their IT departments for their business models. Now, the first Service Pack release is here to further refine the world’s first multimodal operating system.

        “SUSE Linux Enterprise is a modern and modular OS that helps simplify multimodal IT, making traditional IT infrastructure efficient and providing an engaging platform for developers,” said Thomas Di Giacomo, SUSE president of Engineering, Product and Innovation. “As a result, organizations can easily deploy and transition business-critical workloads across their core on-premise and public cloud environments.”

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed vs leap: What is the Difference?

        Before talking about the differences between these versions of openSUSE, let’s have a brief look at its background and features. Earlier it was known as SUSE Linux but after a software company Novell acquired SUSE Linux in February 2004, Novell decided to release SUSE Linux Professional with 100% open source products, and as an open source project, this Linux got its prefix i.e Open. Later it split from Novell and became a separate brand.

        openSUSE inherits its properties from SUSE Linux Professional and the successor of the same. SUSE also offers open source-based enterprise-class OS known as SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

        openSUSE Linux community is backed by the SUSE for further research and developments. It uses the easy-to-use YaST package management system and has great advantages for a small and medium-sized enterprise server. Using YaST2 can make the configuration of the server simpler and faster. SuSE Enterprise Linux can be used for large server systems too. When it comes to Linux, everyone knows that Linux is a very secure OS, and openSUSE is not an exception. Apart from the YaST Package manager, it also supports self-developed Zypper (ZYpp) and RPM. It uses KDE5 as the default desktop environment and also provides the GNOME, MATE, LXQt, Xfce…

        Now come to the main agenda of the article which is the difference between openSUSE Tumbleweed and Leap?

      • SUSE provides platform for cloud-native
      • SUSE Refines its Platform for Cloud-Native, Containerized Applications as Enterprises Move to Hybrid and Multi-Cloud
    • Fedora

      • Fedora 31 Looking At No Longer Building i686 Linux Kernel Packages

        Not to be confused with Ubuntu’s varying stance on dropping 32-bit packages beginning with their next release later this year, Fedora 31 now has a proposal pending to discontinue their i686 kernel builds but they will still be keeping with their 32-bit packaging.

        This Fedora 31 change proposal by Justin Forbes, one of Fedora’s kernel hackers, is just about ending i686 kernel builds beginning with this Fedora release due out in October. The i686 kernel-headers package would still be offered in order to satisfy necessary dependencies for 32-bit programs needing those headers. Of course, users will have to be running off a 64-bit kernel. All 32-bit programs should continue to work on Fedora 31.

      • Fedora Workstation 31 Is Looking Great With Many Original Features Being Worked On

        Fedora Workstation 31 is shaping up to be another exciting release for this Red Hat sponsored Linux distribution. As usual, a ton of original upstream features are being worked on for this innovative desktop/workstation Linux spin.

        Christian Schaller of Red Hat has once again written an in-depth blog post outlining the different improvements being pursued this cycle by various Red Hat developers.

      • Fedora booth at Red Hat Summit

        Red Hat Summit — the annual conference for Red Hat customers, partners, and open source contributors — took place last month in Boston, Massachusetts. Fedora had space in the Community Central booth on the expo floor and we had a lot of great conversations with our community.

        As you might expect, the attendees were familiar with open source and Fedora specifically. We got a lot of questions about Fedora Silverblue. Some people were enthusiastic users who have adopted it as their main desktop. Others had heard of it, but didn’t know the details. Fortunately, we were happy to share with them.

      • GNOME Classic Mode is Getting Some Overdue Improvements in Fedora 31

        Red Hat’s Christian F.K. Schaller shares word of several changes to the session in a summary of work that’s underway ahead of the next major release of Fedora.

        Now, at this point you might be trying to remember what the GNOME Classic session is. When I first read about these improvements I thought “Oh neat, he means GNOME Flashback!”.

        Nope.

        GNOME Classic is its own thing. While similarly minded it’s technically different to the GNOME Flashback session that’s readily available in most distros’ repos (including Ubuntu’s).

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Give Ubuntu an Electric-Blue Look with StarLabs’ Theme

            Fancy giving your Ubuntu desktop a dark, electric-blue makeover? If so, then Linux laptop seller StarLabs has you covered.

            The company (who I’l admit I hadn’t heard of until recently) joins a surfeit of British-based Linux laptop vendors, with StationX and the (fabulous) Entroware being the best known.

            But we’re not here to talk about systems, we’re here to talk themes!

            See, aside from selling a small range of (seemingly decent) laptops preloaded with a selection of Ubuntu-based Linux distributions, StarLabs also maintain their own theme.

            And i’m going to show you how to install it Ubuntu.

          • Ubuntu Has Started Work On A New Desktop Snap Store

            Ubuntu’s software stores / software centers have gone through several revisions over the years and now a new Snap Store is in development.

            Developers at Canonical have begun committing to a new Snap Desktop Store. The first code commits were only last week, so it’s not yet something for end-users to get all excited about but presumably they’ll be aiming for it to be in good shape by next year’s Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

          • Ubuntu 19.10 drops 32-bit images, pledges to maintain some packages after user outcry

            Ubuntu 19.10 is scheduled for release in October, though controversy is already brewing following Canonical’s abjectly poorly-communicated plans to stop providing new 32-bit x86 (i386) packages in new Ubuntu releases. This move will prevent users from installing Ubuntu on older computers, and using certain applications only provided in 32-bit versions.

            In fairness to Canonical, the first x86-64 processors will be 16 years old when Ubuntu 19.10 is released, and this is a reckoning that other Linux distributions—as well as Windows and Mac OS—will eventually face, as the amount of engineering time needed to protract legacy platform support is approaching the negative end of a cost-benefit analysis.

          • Ubuntu Will Provide Select 32-bit Packages For Ubuntu 19.10 And 20.04 LTS

            As a result of constant feedback from the open source community — specifically gamers, WINE users, and Ubuntu Studio users — Canonical has decided to change its plans regarding ditching the 32-bit i386 packages for Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS.

            For those who don’t know, last week, Canonical announced that it’s going to completely abandon the support for i386 architectures in the Ubuntu 19.10 release. Due to the same reason, Canonical restricted the users from upgrading their 18.04 LTS installations to 18.10, so that they don’t end up running 32-bit applications on an interim release with just nine months of support.

          • The future of mobile connectivity

            Mobile operators face a range of challenges today from saturation, competition and regulation – all of which are having a negative impact on revenues. The introduction of 5G offers new customer segments and services to offset this decline. However, unlike the introduction of 4G which was dominated by consumer benefits, 5G is expected to be driven by enterprise use. According to IDC, enterprises will generate 60 percent of the world’s data by 2025.

            Rather than rely on costly proprietary hardware and operating models, the use of open source technologies offers the ability to commoditise and democratise the wireless network infrastructure. Major operators such as Vodafone, Telefonica and China Mobile have already adopted such practices.

            Shifting to open source technology and taking a software defined approach enables mobile operators to differentiate based on the services they offer, rather than network coverage or subscription costs.

          • Design and Web team summary – 25 June 2019

            This was a fairly busy two weeks for the Web & design team at Canonical. Here are some of the highlights of our completed work.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Statement by The Apache Software Foundation Board of Directors

    It is with a mix of sadness and appreciation that the ASF Board accepted the resignations of Board Member Jim Jagielski, Chairman Phil Steitz, and Executive Vice President Ross Gardler last month.

    As an ASF co-founder, Jim has held every officer position since the Foundation’s incorporation, with the exception of a one-year break in 2018. He has played a substantial role in the development and success of the organization and is a recognized advocate of Open Source at the developer and corporate levels.

    An ASF Member since 2005, Phil was instrumental in the adoption, growth, and ubiquity of Apache Java projects across many industries, most visibly financial services. He served as Vice President Apache Commons for four years, and as ASF Chairman August 2017 – May 2019.

    Ross has been championing The Apache Way to governments, corporations, and educational institutions for nearly two decades. Since becoming an ASF Member in 2005, he served as Vice President of Community Development (2009-2012), ASF Director and President (2015-2016), and ASF Executive Vice President October 2016 – May 2019.

    We laud their contributions to many of the ASF’s achievements over the past two decades [1]. Their motivation, vision, and passion is truly inspiring. Whilst we will greatly miss their day-to-day leadership at the executive level, we are heartened that the Foundation will continue to benefit through their participation as ASF Members.

  • Don’t make a FOSS: Apache Software Foundation Board bids farewell to co-founder and two big hitters [Ed: Richard Speed misses the point that those leaving were Microsoft employees and boosters inside Apache]

    To lose one board member may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness, but to lose three?

    The nature of the Board of Directors of open source foundations means churn is a normal part of life, indeed many open source board members can be swapped out at the whim of a community vote, as they should.

    However, the Apache Software Foundation saw three members of its board hand in their resignations last month: chairman Phil Steitz, executive vice president Ross Gardler and, perhaps most significantly, co-founder of the whole show Jim Jagielski.

    Jagielski had been approaching his quarter century of service and had enjoyed roles on the board including chairman and president over the years. He also laid claim to being the first new member after the original eight-member Apache Group.

    Gardler, who signed up to Apache way back in 2000, spent just over two-and-a-half years as executive vice president, is currently toiling away at Microsoft on the Azure Container Service, while Steitz, a veteran of American Express in the early part of the century, is vacating the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) Chairman’s chair after less than two years in the post.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Hitting the Reset Button on Hadoop

      Hadoop has seen better days. The recent struggles of Cloudera and MapR – the two remaining independent distributors of Hadoop software — are proof of.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.3 Beta2 ready for testing

      The LibreOffice Quality Assurance ( QA ) Team is happy to announce LibreOffice 6.3 Beta2 is ready for testing!

      LibreOffice 6.3 will be released as final in mid August, 2019, being LibreOffice 6.3 Beta2 the third pre-release since the development of version 6.3 started in mid November, 2018 ( See the release plan ). Since LibreOffice 6.3 Beta1, 226 commits have been submitted to the code repository and 106 bugs have been set to FIXED in Bugzilla. Check the release notes to find the new features included in this version of LibreOffice.

      LibreOffice 6.3 Beta2 can be downloaded from here, it’s available for Linux, MacOS and Windows. Besides, and it can be installed along with your actual installation.

  • Programming/Development

    • Fedora Update Week 23–24

      It’s been another two weeks, so time for another update. Package updates have been rather calm since the last post. I continue to work on adding R packages, and some new things, like glava, the OpenGL audio spectrum analyzer, which can produce cool things like…

    • util-linux v2.34 — what’s new?

      The code of the popular command lsblk(8) has been completely rewritten. The result is more extendible and readable code. Now lsblk(8) keeps all block devices tree in memory before it’s printed. It allows to modify and reorder the tree independently on the way how kernel (/sys filesystem) exports the tree to userspace.

    • libredwg-0.8 released

      This is a major release, adding the new dynamic API, read and write all header and object fields by name. Many of the old dwg_api.h field accessors are deprecated.

    • Reuven Lerner: Announcing: Python standard library, video explainer

      A month or two ago, I saw an online quiz that caught my eye: How much of the Python standard library do you know?

      Now, the “standard library” is the collection of modules and packages that come with Python. It constitutes the “batteries” that “batteries included” refers to in the Python world. And the standard library is big, with about 300 modules, each of which contains functions, classes, and values. Knowing the standard library, and how to use it, is essential to productive use of Python.

      And yet, a large number of the people responding indicated that they knew very little of the standard library. Which makes sense, given that each of us tends to focus on what’s important to our jobs.

    • Generating Random Data in Python

      In this course, you’ll cover several options for generating random data in Python, and then build up to a comparison of each in terms of its level of security, versatility, purpose, and speed.

    • New “-O1g” Optimization Level Proposed For The GCC Compiler

      A new “-O1g” optimization level has been proposed for the GNU Compiler Collection that would allow better performance but still relative ease for debugging the generated binaries.

    • Python: Vectors, Matrices and Arrays with NumPy

      In this lesson, we will look at some neat tips and tricks to play with vectors, matrices and arrays using NumPy library in Python. This lesson is a very good starting point if you are getting started into Data Science and need some introductory mathematical overview of these components and how we can play with them using NumPy in code.
      NumPy library allows us to perform various operations which needs to be done on data structures often used in Machine Learning and Data Science like vectors, matrices and arrays. We will only show most common operations with NumPy which are used in a lot of Machine Learning pipelines. Finally, please note that NumPy is just a way to perform the operations, so, the mathematical operations we show are the main focus of this lesson and not the NumPy package itself. Let’s get started.

    • KDAB at SIGGRAPH – 2019

      KDAB is sharing the Qt booth at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles. We’ll be showing some of our profiling and debugging tools as well as our latest QiTissue demo, a desktop Application developed for Quantitative Imaging Systems (Qi) to help cancer researchers efficiently handle gigabytes of data (see more about that here),

    • Jinja 2 Templates

      JInja2 is a widely-used and fully featured template engine for Python. Being modern it is hence also design-friendly language for Python, modelled after Django’s templates. Ansible uses Jinja2 templating to enable dynamic expressions and access to variables. Ansible controller, where JInja2 comes in picture, is where all the templating takes place before the command is sent and implemented on the target machine. Now, let us look at some syntax that will be helpful with Ansible.

    • Christopher Allan Webber: Let’s Just Be Weird Together

      Approximately a month ago was Morgan and I’s 10 year wedding anniversary. To commemorate that, and as a surprise gift, I made the above ascii art and animation.

      Actually, it’s not just an animation, it’s a program, and one you can run. As a side note, I originally thought I’d write up how I made it, but I kept procrastinating on that and it lead me to putting off writing this post for about a month. Oh well, all I’ll say for now is that it lead to a major rewrite of one of the main components of Spritely. But that’s something to speak of for another time, I suppose.

      Back to the imagery! Morgan was surprised to see the animation, and yet the image itself wasn’t a surprise. That’s because the design is actually built off of one we collaborated on together:

    • RcppTOML 0.1.6: Tinytest support and more robustification

      A new RcppTOML release is now on CRAN. RcppTOML brings TOML to R.

      TOML is a file format that is most suitable for configurations, as it is meant to be edited by humans but read by computers. It emphasizes strong readability for humans while at the same time supporting strong typing as well as immediate and clear error reports. On small typos you get parse errors, rather than silently corrupted garbage. Much preferable to any and all of XML, JSON or YAML – though sadly these may be too ubiquitous now. TOML has been making inroads with projects such as the Hugo static blog compiler, or the Cargo system of Crates (aka “packages”) for the Rust language.

      Václav Hausenblas sent a number of excellent and very focused PRs helping with some input format corner cases, as well as with one test. We added support for the wonderful new tinytest package. The detailed list of changes in this incremental version is below.

    • Things we learned about programming languages working on season three of Command Line Heroes

      One of the best things about working on a project like Command Line Heroes is that you get to learn a lot in the process. For example, while working on season three of Command Line Heroes (launching today!) we discovered a number of fun facts about programming languages that even we didn’t know before.

    • Explore the past, present, and future of Python on Command-Line Heroes

      A new season of the podcast Command Line Heroes launched today. I’ve grown to enjoy this series for both its deep storytelling and its excellent host, Saron Yitbarek. They also dive into fantastic themes, and this year is all about programming languages.

      The first episode of the new season explores Python, the language I’ve been spending more time on for data sciencey reasons. As a newer convert, I’ve wondered where the language, which is approaching its 30th anniversary, is headed.

    • Find Your Off-Ramp | Coder Radio 363

      We take on the issues of burnout, work communication culture, and keeping everything in balance.

      Plus Wes asks ‘Why Not Kotlin’ and breaks down where it fits in his toolbox.

    • Collections In Python | Introduction To Python Collections

      Python programming language has four collection data types- list, tuple, sets and dictionary. But python also comes with a built-in module known as collections which has specialized data structures which basically covers for the shortcomings of the four data types. In this blog, we will go through each of those specialized data structures in detail.

    • Swiss Perl Workshop 2019

      We are looking for speakers, if you have an idea for a talk or presentation then please submit a talk proposal. Because the venue has a few rooms we are also very open to any workshop-like ideas. This could be anything that 2-10 people can attend.

    • PerlCon 2019: Rīga, Latvia, 7–9 August

      PerlCon 2019 is the 20th edition of the annual European Perl Conference also known as YAPC::Europe and TPCiR.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Russian political scientist Valery Solovey says he lost his prestigious job in Moscow academia ‘for political reasons’

      Political scientist and historian Valery Solovey has left his position as the chair of the Public Relations Department at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). Solovey says he stepped down “for political reasons.” Though the decision was reached unofficially in late May, Solovey only announced it on June 19 in a Facebook post. Spokespeople for MGIMO have been guarded about the scholar’s departure. In his many lectures and public appearances, Valery Solovey has repeatedly predicted radical changes coming to Russia, such as Vladimir Putin leaving the presidency early, nationwide mass protests, and restrictions on Russians traveling abroad. Meduza’s Vladislav Gorin spoke to Solovey about being forced from MGIMO and his various prognostications, including his latest about a revolution coming next year to Russia.

      [...]

      Who was behind this meddling into academia? Solovey says he doesn’t know. It may have been the Foreign Ministry or it may have been the Kremlin, but he says he didn’t dig into the matter, in order to avoid “a messy trench war.” Solovey ties his ouster to the recent news that Moscow’s Higher School of Economics is disbanding its Political Science Department, which employs Alexander Kynev. Whoever has been orchestrating this academic purge, Solovey says, the “pressure” is never a direct order, but “happens in the form of persistent advice, opinions, and wishes.”

    • Universal solution will help grow tomatoes in the north and Arctic

      Staff of the TSU Biological Institute have developed a new solution concentrate for growing tomatoes without soil. This is optimal for critical farming areas—the northern regions and the Arctic. The biologists’ development differs from the many other compounds used for growing crops with the hydroponics method in that tap water rather than distilled water can be used in the preparation of the solution and aeration is not required, which simplifies cultivation and reduces the cost.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Insulin Racket

      In June 22, 2017, Alec Raeshawn Smith, a recently promoted restaurant manager with Type 1 diabetes, left his local pharmacy empty-handed. He’d gone in to pick up a month’s worth of insulin supplies, which he assumed would set him back around $1000—the amount he and his mother Nicole Smith-Holt had budgeted the month before when he turned 26 and, under Obamacare rules, had to drop off her insurance coverage.

      For Alec, that price was already steep: Even with his promotion, he was making $35,000 a year with no benefits. He and Smith-Holt had combed through Minnesota’s Obamacare marketplace for months in search of a decent plan, but the affordable ones all had sky-high deductibles. That meant that he’d be paying full price for his insulin for months before his junk insurance kicked in, on top of hundreds of dollars in monthly premiums—sucking up some 80 percent of his take-home pay once he paid the rent. So he made a rational decision: He’d go uninsured, save the cost of the premium, and just pay for his meds out of pocket, while racking up work experience that could serve as a springboard to a better position with health insurance.

      As it turned out, it wouldn’t have made a difference if Alec had been insured or not: The price of his insulin had apparently gone up again to $1300, which was more than he had in his bank account. Perhaps he felt embarrassed, too proud to borrow money so soon after finally moving out of his parents’ place. Perhaps he didn’t want anyone to worry about him, and figured he could keep his blood sugar down until payday.

      So he left. He never told his mother and he never told his girlfriend. Five days later, he was dead.

    • ‘Modified’: A Film About GMOs and the Corruption of the Food Supply for Profit

      Parts of the documentary Modified are spent at the kitchen table. But it’s not really a tale about wonderful recipes or the preparation of food. Ultimately, it’s a story of capitalism, money and power and how our most basic rights are being eroded by unscrupulous commercial interests.

      The film centres on its maker, Aube Giroux, who resides in Nova Scotia, Canada. Her interest in food and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was inspired by her mother, Jali, who also appears throughout. Aube says that when her parents bought their first house her mother immediately got rid of the lawn and planted a huge garden where she grew all kinds of heirloom vegetables, berries, flowers, legumes and garlic.

      “She wanted me and my sister to grow up knowing the story behind the food that we ate, so our backyard was basically our grocery store,” says Aube.

      During the film, we are treated not only to various outdoor scenes of the Giroux’s food garden (their ‘grocery store’) but also to Aube and her mother’s passion for preparing homemade culinary delights. The ‘backyard’ is the grocery store and much of Giroux family life revolves around the kitchen and the joy of healthy, nutritious food.

      When GMOs first began appearing in food, Aube says that what bothered her mother was that some of the world’s largest chemical companies were patenting these new genetically engineered seeds and controlling the seed market.

      In the film, Aube explains, “Farmers who grow GMOs have to sign technology license agreements promising never to save or replant the patented seeds. My mom didn’t think it was a good idea to allow corporations to engineer and then patent the seeds that we rely on for food. She believed that seeds belong in the hands of people.”

    • Russian regulator finds drop in quality of Georgian wines days after anti-Russian demonstrations begin in Tbilisi

      Russia’s Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor) issued an announcement saying that the quality of Georgian alcohol products has been in decline for several years.

      According to the agency, the quantity of substandard Georgian alcohol nearly tripled to 203,000 liters between 2014 and 2018, necessitating new quality controls for Georgian imports to Russia. Data from Georgia’s federal wine agency indicates that almost half of Georgian wine exports go to Russia, and Russian federal data indicates that Georgia is consistently the third- or fourth-largest exporter of wine to Russia in the world.

    • UN Expert Warns Inequality and Austerity Are Intensifying Global Mental Health Crisis

      The United Nations’ top health envoy warned Monday that inequality and austerity are fueling a global mental health crisis that can only be solved by government interventions to reduce economic insecurity and increase funding for crucial public services.

      Dr. Dainius Pūrasa, a Lithuanian psychiatrist and the U.N.’s special rapporteur on health, said in an interview with The Guardian that purely “biomedical” approaches to treating mental illness are not sufficient because they ignore the social and economic conditions that exacerbate depression, anxiety, and other conditions.

    • ‘A True Public Health Emergency’: 70+ Medical Groups Sound Alarm on Climate Crisis

      “Climate change is one of the greatest threats to health America has ever faced—it is a true public health emergency,” the groups state. “The health, safety, and well-being of millions of people in the U.S. have already been harmed by human-caused climate change, and health risks in the future are dire without urgent action to fight climate change.”

      Referencing the impacts of climate-related events and air pollution that have already claimed lives, the groups “call on government, business and civil society leaders, elected officials, and candidates for office to recognize climate change as a health emergency and to work across government agencies and with communities and businesses to prioritize action on this Climate, Health, and Equity Policy Action Agenda.”

      In addition to averting thousands of deaths annually in the U.S., they note, a far-ranging approach to tackling the climate crisis will improve communities’ well-being as well as that of the planet.

      But, they warn, “Without transformational action, climate change will be increasingly severe, leading to more illness, injury, and death; mass migration and violent conflict; and worsening health inequities. By mobilizing climate action for health and health action for climate, the U.S. can reduce climate pollution and build healthy communities that are resilient in the face of climate risks.”

    • Americans Continue to Eat Processed Meat Despite Serious Health Warnings

      But new research shows that despite increasing evidence on just how unhealthy processed foods are, Americans have continued to eat the products at the same rate.

      A study published in the July edition of Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics looked at trends between 1999 and 2016.

      Data on nearly 44,000 people shows that over this timespan the amount of processed meat consumed by adults in the United States has remained unchanged.

      Consumption of healthier meat options such as fish and shellfish also stayed the same.

      If there’s a silver lining, it’s news that Americans are eating more chicken and less red meat than they used to.

      Given the acknowledged health risks of consuming processed meats, the data would seem to suggest that Americans are unaware of these dangers.

      [...]

      To understand what makes these meats so unhealthy, it helps to look at what’s in it.

      “A lot of it has to do with the actual components associated with the processing of red meat,” explained Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN, a licensed, registered dietitian who manages wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

      One primary component of processed meat are nitrites and nitrates, components that prevent the growth of bacteria and add a salty flavor.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Sting Catches Another Ransomware Firm — Red Mosquito — Negotiating With “Hackers”

      ProPublica recently reported that two U.S. firms, which professed to use their own data recovery methods to help ransomware victims regain access to infected files, instead paid the hackers.

      Now there’s new evidence that a U.K. firm takes a similar approach. Fabian Wosar, a cyber security researcher, told ProPublica this month that, in a sting operation he conducted in April, Scotland-based Red Mosquito Data Recovery said it was “running tests” to unlock files while actually negotiating a ransom payment. Wosar, the head of research at anti-virus provider Emsisoft, said he posed as both hacker and victim so he could review the company’s communications to both sides.

      Red Mosquito Data Recovery “made no effort to not pay the ransom” and instead went “straight to the ransomware author literally within minutes,” Wosar said. “Behavior like this is what keeps ransomware running.”

    • Carbon Black adds Linux support and more to its endpoint protection solution

      Endpoint protection company Carbon Black is adding a number of features to its platform, including Linux support and Amazon Web Services and container protection.

      The cloud-native platform gives security and IT teams remote access to cloud workloads and containers running in their environment, making it easier to resolve configuration drift, address vulnerabilities in real time, confidently respond to incidents and demonstrate compliance with business policies and industry regulations.

      The cloud workload and container protection capabilities are available from the same universal agent and cloud-native platform protecting Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux endpoints.

      “The industry is quickly moving into the cloud era for endpoint protection and IT operations,” says Ryan Polk, Carbon Black’s chief product officer. “Carbon Black is proud to be at the front edge for cloud innovation and, with this latest release, our cloud-native EPP is now protecting some of the most important and emerging cloud real estate.”

      As well as supporting AWS workloads and nearly every Linux distribution released since 2011, Carbon Black’s platform extends direct access to more than 1,000 individual system artifacts across all major operating systems, including the ability to check the status of disk encryption, installed applications, kernel integrity, listening network ports, logged in users, OS versions, USB devices and more.

    • Top 10 Ethical Hacking Books

      Hacking is an ongoing process of information gathering and exploitation of any target. The hackers are consistent, practical and stay updated with daily appearing vulnerabilities. The first step to exploitation is always reconnaissance. The more information you gather, the better there are chances that you will make your way through the victim boundary. The attack should be very structured and verified in a local environment before being implemented on live target. The pre requisites are Networking skills, programming languages, Linux, Bash scripting and a reasonable workstation.Ethical hacking is the application of hacking knowledge for the benefit of society through good morals, and is usually defensive in nature, based on good knowledge of the core principles.
      Many books are available on hacking, but we will discuss today the top 10 which are appreciated and recommended by the hacking community. Note: The books are in no particular order.

    • Raspberry Pi used to steal data from Nasa lab [Ed: RasPi has a major new release (4), so MSBBC needs to spread some negative things/stories about it (googlebombing?). Microsoft failed to take over Raspberry Pi Foundation like it did OLPC. BBC (run by ex-Microsoft UK people) spreads anti-RasPi news belatedly (blaming it for something unrelated) only hours after a major product release.]

      A tiny Raspberry Pi computer has been used to steal data from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the space agency has revealed.

      An audit report reveals the gadget was used to take about 500MB of data.

    • VMware’s Dirk Hohndel On Container Security, Mental Health And Open Source
    • Trump Ponders Banning All Chinese-Made Gear From US 5G Networks [Ed: Mandating NSA back doors everywhere]

      We’ve already noted extensively how the “race to fifth generation wireless (5G)” is kind of a dumb thing. While 5G is important in the way that faster, better networks are always important, the purported Earth-rattling benefits of the technology have been painfully over-hyped. And they’ve been painfully over-hyped largely for two reasons: one, mobile carriers want to give a kick to stalling cellphone sales numbers, and network hardware vendors like Cisco want to drive the adoption of new, more expensive, telecom hardware.

      The “race to 5G” isn’t a race. And even if it were, our broadband maps are so intentionally terrible, we’d have no idea if and when we’d won it. Regardless, 5G has subsequently become a sort of magic pixie dust of tech policy conversations, justifying all manner of sometimes dubious policy. But the underlying desire to simply sell more kit has also infected the Trump administration’s protectionist attacks on companies like Huawei, which is based on about 40% actual cybersecurity concerns, and 60% lobbying efforts by US hardware vendors that don’t want to compete with cheaper Chinese hardware.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘They Despise Diplomacy, and Thirst for War’: Iran Accuses Trump of Closing Path to Peace With New Sanctions

      Iranian officials warned Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s new economic sanctions targeting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and top diplomat Javad Zarif could vanquish the possibility of peaceful negotiations and move the two nations closer to an unnecessary military conflict.

      “Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” said Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry. “Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.”

    • Instigators of a Persian Gulf Crisis

      Recent weeks have seen tensions between the United States and Iran soar, initially after a May 2019 incident in which four commercial vessels were struck in the Gulf of Oman (two Saudi oil tankers, one Norwegian and an Emirati ship), ebb thereafter and escalate yet again when a similar attack took place a month later on the Japanese Kokuka Courageous and Norwegian Front Altair tankers, also in the Gulf of Oman. Tellingly, when it appeared the war rhetoric had subsided after the first incident it quickly ratcheted up, and by several degrees, after the second, as if the May episode had failed to achieve its goal. President Trump’s apparent last-minute change of heart in calling off planned airstrikes when Iran downed a U.S. military surveillance drone last Thursday highlights the war footing Washington is on.

      Both tanker assaults were allegedly at the hands of Iran, that is, according to Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, albeit by unclear means and for dubious reasons.

      It did not take long for doubts to surface as to why Iran would attack a Japanese tanker in the midst of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Tehran in an attempt to mediate between it and Washington. The suspect authenticity of a grainy video released by U.S. Central Command purportedly showing an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded limpet mine from the tanker also raised skepticism (the crew indicated they were hit by a flying object, not a mine).

      Putting sloppy, poorly designed “evidence” aside, recent history makes clear who the vested parties keen to stoke a manufactured hostility between Iran and its neighbors are. Indeed, one such actor has for decades used a comparable strategy of deliberate provocation to justify vicious military campaigns in Gaza and Lebanon, not unlike the agitation Iran is experiencing today.

      The Israeli tactic has always been to make conditions so intolerable and unsustainable that a response of some kind by the affected group becomes inevitable. Whether it had been to starve and strangle Gazans by a stifling land, sea and air blockade and in effect imprisoning its population (who then responded by firing rather symbolic, fertilizer-based rockets) or the nearly two-decade long occupation of southern Lebanon to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization and then Hezbollah, the approach always fails but not without great civilian casualty.

    • Trump May Already be in Too Deep to Avoid War With Iran

      President Trump’s last-minute change of mind over launching US airstrikes against Iran shows that a military conflict of some description in the Gulf is becoming highly probable. His hesitation was most likely less connected with an Iranian surface-to-air missile shooting down a US surveillance drone than with his instinct that militarising the crisis is not in America’s best interests.

      If Trump had not pulled back and the strikes against Iranian radars and missile batteries had gone ahead, where exactly would that have got him? This sort of limited military operation is usually more effective as a threat than in actuality. The US is not going to launch an all-out war against Iran in pursuit of a decisive victory and anything less creates more problems than it resolves.

      Iran would certainly retain post-strike the ability to launch pin-prick attacks up and down the Gulf and, especially, in and around the 35-mile wide Strait of Hormuz through which passes 30 per cent of the world’s oil trade. Anything affecting this choke point reverberates around the word: news of the shooting down of the drone immediately sent the price of benchmark Brent crude oil rocketing upwards by 4.75 per cent.

    • Trump Keeps Talking About the Last Military Standoff With Iran — Here’s What Really Happened

      Just before sunset on Jan. 12, 2016, 10 American sailors strayed into Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, a navigation error with potentially grave consequences. On their way to a spying mission, the Americans had set sail from Kuwait to Bahrain. It was a long-distance trek that some senior commanders in the Navy’s 5th Fleet had warned they were neither equipped nor trained to execute.

      Surrounded by four boats operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the U.S. sailors, in two small gunboats, surrendered rather than opening fire. The officer in charge of the mission later said he understood that had a firefight erupted, it could well have provoked a wider conflict and scuttled the controversial nuclear deal the two countries were poised to implement in mere days.

      The Navy dialed up an elaborate rescue mission to free the sailors from tiny Farsi Island involving fighter jets and a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group. But the return of the sailors was ultimately secured peacefully. The nuclear deal went forward with the U.S. providing sanctions relief and unfreezing billions in Iranian assets in exchange for Tehran’s promise to curb its nuclear ambitions.

      President Donald Trump explicitly invoked the 2016 incident last week as he weighed actions against Iran amid rising tensions. Trump told Time magazine that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had mishandled the high-stakes confrontation, a mistake he would not make. “The only reason the sailors were let go is that we started making massive payments to them the following day,” Trump said. “Otherwise the sailors would still be there.”

      But a ProPublica investigation makes clear that Trump’s repeated claims about the captured sailors – Obama’s weakness; that the money was improper – obscure the more troubling realities exposed by the Navy’s 2016 debacle in the Persian Gulf. The Farsi Island mission was a gross failure, involving issues that have plagued the Navy in recent years: inadequate training, poor leadership, and a disinclination to heed the warnings of its men and women about the true extent of its vulnerabilities.

    • NIAC Statement on Trump’s Imposition of New Iran Sanctions

      Moments ago President Donald Trump signed off on an executive order imposing a new wave of sanctions on Iran following increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran last week. The sanctions target Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei and senior commanders from the Revolutionary Guard’s Navy, Aerospace, and Ground Forces, and aim to block Iran top leadership’s from accessing the international financial system.

    • Escalating “Crisis of His Administration’s Making,” Trump Imposes New Sanctions Against Iran

      After President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order imposing new economic sanctions against Iran, critics denounced the punitive measures as a dangerous intensification of the same “maximum pressure” strategy that pushed the U.S. to the brink of war in the first place.

      “Sanctions are what got us into this mess, more sanctions will not get us out of it,” Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said in a statement. “Donald Trump needs to put his ego aside and abandon the ‘maximum pressure’ strategy that [national security adviser] John Bolton and [Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo have foisted on the world.”

    • Trump Signs Order Imposing Sanctions on Iran Supreme Leader

      President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday targeting Iran’s supreme leader and his associates with financial sanctions, the latest action the U.S. has taken to discourage Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and supporting militant groups.

      The sanctions follow Iran’s downing of a more than $100 million U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz that has ratcheted up tensions. Trump pulled back from the brink of retaliatory military strikes on Iran last week, but is continuing his pressure campaign.

      The targets of the new sanctions include senior military figures in Iran, blocking their access to any financial assets under U.S. jurisdiction.

      “These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

    • Giving Trump Credit (But Not Too Much) on Iran

      The Donald made the right call. Now that’s a rare statement. Calling off – or at least delaying – a military strike on Iran was prudent. Nevertheless, there was something deeply unsettling about the whole thing. The system is broken, perhaps irreparably.

      The president never even considered seeking congressional approval before playing emperor and unleashing death and destruction on a sovereign nation. Why would he? Essentially every president, since Truman, has done the same thing one time or another. Unilateral executive action has been the American norm pretty much since World War II wrapped up. Seen in this context, Trump isn’t so anomalous as many would like to believe. Korea kicked off the trend. But the Vietnam advisory mission, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Bosnia, Libya, and Syria – to name the highlights – were all undertaken without the constitutionally mandated consent of the legislature.

    • Bill Clinton in Kosovo

      The Balkans has often been prone to seizures of mysticism, glum prediction and predation. But one character felt at home as he addressed his audience in Kosovo, himself having been afflicted by a certain evangelical urge. This month, former US President Will Jefferson Clinton, keeping company with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, were rubbing shoulders with officials and stage hands in Pristina to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Kosovo intervention by NATO in March 1999.

      It was a chance Kosovo’s president Hashim Thaçi was not going to let pass. In being awarded the Order of Freedom, Clinton was all praise. “I think the whole world today with all this turmoil, can look to Kosovo as an example of a democracy and a commitment to prove, grow, and live in peace with one’s neighbours.” Being Clinton, his words have a profound lightweight quality, albeit dressed up as grave and morally hefty.

      Nonetheless, they struck the appropriate, ceremonial note. Thaçi glowed with appreciation. “We thank you for the just decision to stop the Serbian genocide during 1999. We are very grateful for the support of the US to Kosovo. The story of Kosovo is a story of joint success. You are our hero.”

      Clinton duly responded, expressing pride at having been the “president of the United States when you needed someone to stand up and say no more ethnic cleansing, no more people running out of their homes, no more killing innocent civilians, there’s got to be another way.”

    • Is Mexico Winding Down or Winding up the Drug War?

      As Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador begins transitioning his country away from its decade-long drug war, which has killed more than 100,000 Mexican citizens since 2006, officials in the Trump administration have remained largely silent about his moves. Washington is continuing its public relations strategy of saying very little about the war while helping Mexican security forces continue to fight it.

      The Trump administration’s silence, which has been enabled by a lack of coverage in the U.S. mass media, has not gone entirely unnoticed. Some members of Congress have begun to question the Trump administration’s strategy, arguing that the administration does not have an effective plan for winning the war.

      “We are whistling by the graveyard if we don’t address and talk about an effective strategy for crushing the drug cartels,” Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) said during a congressional hearing in April.

      To say that the Trump administration has simply been “whistling by the graveyard” as violence increases is not entirely accurate, however. Although the administration has kept mostly quiet about the growing violence, it has been working closely with Mexican military forces to crush the country’s drug cartels, exactly as Senator Johnson demanded.

    • Trump’s Return to Full-Spectrum Dominance

      The United States is formally committed to dominating the world by 2020. President Trump’s Space Directive-4, on the production of laser-armed combat aircraft as possible precursors to space weapons and the possibility of nuclear warheads being placed in orbit, moves the clock forward.

      An interesting and credible paper by T.J. Coles in CounterPunch recently reported that in 1997, the re-established U.S. Space Command announced its commitment to full spectrum dominance by 2020, which means military control over land, sea, air and space to protect U.S. interests and investments.

      Protecting means guaranteeing the operational freedom of U.S. investments, which in turn means “corporate profits.”

      The journalistic work explains that, in the past, the Army was deployed based on the interests of settlers who stole land from Native Americans in the genocidal birth of the United States as a nation.

      A National Defense University report recognizes that, by the 19th century, the Navy had evolved to protect the newly formulated “grand strategy” of the United States. In addition to the supposed protection of citizens and the constitution, the guiding principle was, and continues to be, “the protection of American territory … and our economic well-being.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Interior Department Putting Even More Effort Into Dodging FOIA Request

      The Department of the Interior is still trying to remove the word “freedom” from “Freedom of Information Act.” The first step is removing the word “information.”

      Earlier this year, the DOI tried to sneak past a rewrite of FOIA by hiding a request in the federal register. It would only apply to the DOI, hence the lack of legislative noise or heads up to the public. Under the guise of “ensuring compliance” with the law, the DOI wanted the power to unilaterally reject any request it found “burdensome.”

      Faced with an influx of requests, the DOI decided to double down on non-compliance. Rather than route more staff to the overburdened FOIA response team, the DOI decided it would be better served by tossing as many requests in the trashcan as possible.

    • Justices Side With Business, Government in Information Fight

      The Supreme Court sided with businesses and the U.S. government Monday in a ruling about the public’s access to information, telling a South Dakota newspaper it can’t get the data it was seeking.

      The justices ruled against the Argus Leader, which is owned by USA Today publisher Gannett and is the largest newspaper in South Dakota. The paper was seeking to learn how much money goes annually to every store nationwide that participates in the government’s $65 billion-a-year Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, called SNAP.

      The federal government initially declined the paper’s request for the information. In response, the paper sued, arguing that the data is public and shows citizens how the government is spending their tax money. The government lost in a lower court and decided not to appeal. But a supermarket trade association, the Virginia-based Food Marketing Institute, stepped in to continue the fight with the backing of the Trump administration, arguing that the information is confidential and should not be disclosed.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour Raises $21.5 Million to Fight Climate Crisis in Guitar Auction

      David Gilmour, guitarist, singer and songwriter in the rock band Pink Floyd, set a record last week when he auctioned off 126 guitars and raised $21.5 million for ClientEarth, a non-profit environmental law group dedicated to fighting the global climate crisis, according to CNN.

      The auction lasted more than eight hours and had bids from over 66 countries, according to Christies, the London-based auction house, which hosted the sale in New York City, as CNN reported.

    • David Gilmour puts his guitars up for auction, raises $21.5M for a climate change charity

      An auction of David Gilmour’s guitars has raised a lot of “Money” — to combat climate change.

      Christie’s auction house says it raised $21.5 million Thursday, selling off more than 120 guitars owned by the Pink Floyd guitarist, singer and songwriter. Proceeds went to ClientEarth, a nonprofit fighting climate change.

      The items included guitars by Fender, Rickenbacker, Ovation, Gibson, C.F. Martin and Gretsch, including guitar cases, a banjo and amps.

      A black Stratocaster — dubbed the “Black Strat” — was the top item and was snatched up for $3,975,000, a new world record for a guitar at auction.

    • CEO of Major Shale Oil Company “Has Second Thoughts” on Fracking Rush, Wall Street Journal Reports

      On Monday, the Wall Street Journal featured a profile of Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, whose company is known among investors for its emphasis on drawing oil and gas from the Permian basin in Texas using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

      Back in 2014, Sheffield told Forbes that he expected Pioneer could produce a million barrels of oil a day from the Permian basin by 2024 – up from 45,000 barrels a day in 2011.

      Now, Sheffield, who left the helm of Pioneer in 2016 and returned this February, says that those million-barrel-a-day plans are looking increasingly doubtful as the industry has struggled to prove to investors that it’s capable not only of producing enormous volumes of oil and gas, but that it can do so while booking profits rather than losses.

      “We lost the growth investors,” Pioneer CEO Scott Sheffield told the Journal. “Now we’ve got to attract a whole other set of investors.”

    • Trump Administration Buries Government-Funded Studies Showing Dangers of Climate Change

      The Trump administration ratcheted up its open hostility to climate science in a move that may hide essential information from the nation’s farmers.

      The administration put the kibosh on publicizing work done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) own scientists that carried warnings about the long-term repercussions of the climate crisis, according to a report by Politico.

    • Ice-free Greenland possible in 1,000 years

      US scientists have just established that the long-term future may bring an ice-free Greenland, if melting continues at the current rate. By the year 3,000 it could simply be green, with rocky outcrops. Greenland’s icy mountains will have vanished.

      By the end of this century, the island – the largest body of ice in the northern hemisphere, and home to 8% of the world’s fresh water in frozen form – will have lost 4.5% of its ice cover, and sea levels will have risen by up to 33cm.

      And if melting continues, and the world goes on burning fossil fuels under climate science’s notorious “business as usual scenario”, then within another thousand years the entire cover will have run into the sea, which by then will have risen – just because of melting in Greenland – by more than seven metres, to wash away cities such as Miami, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Shanghai and New Orleans.

      “How Greenland will look in the future – in a couple of hundred years or in 1,000 years – whether there will be Greenland, or at least a Greenland similar to today, it’s up to us”, said Andy Aschwanden, of the University of Fairbanks, Alaska geophysical institute.

    • Germany: Climate activists end coal blockade in Garzweiler

      Police have cleared 250 climate activists who stayed overnight at the Garzweiler brown coal mine in western Germany, officials said Sunday.
      However, some protesters were still blocking nearby train tracks that usually serve as a coal transport route from one of Germany’s biggest open-pit mines, near the cities of Düsseldorf and Cologne.
      Spokeswoman Kathrin Henneberger confirmed the protesters had now left the mine.
      “In the morning, there was a brief escalation with the police. Officers encircled a group, although all participants intended to clear the area around 10 a.m. as agreed and announced,” Henneberger told Germany’s dpa news agency.

    • Women are rising in the conservation movement, but still face #MeToo challenges

      The #MeToo movement has caused profound shake-ups at organizations across the U.S. in the last two years. So far, however, it has left many unresolved questions about how workplaces can be more inclusive and equitable for women and other diverse groups.

      In its latest twist, over the last month a series of top executives have exited The Nature Conservancy, the largest conservation organization in North America. They left after an internal investigation, prompted by sexual harassment and workplace misconduct accusations, which found that the organization’s culture “can make it difficult for women to thrive.”

      We have been studying women in conservation leadership for the past several years, and unfortunately this news didn’t shock us. Our research shows that harassment is one of many gender-related challenges that frequently confront women conservation leaders.

    • What’s Next for the Youth Climate Lawsuit

      On June 4, Andrea Rodgers was in the front row of attorneys sitting before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court. The court session, held in Portland, Oregon, was to determine whether the climate change lawsuit (Juliana v. United States) brought by 21 young plaintiffs should be dismissed, as requested by the U.S. government, or go on to trial.

      It’s the latest of many delays for the lawsuit, which was first filed in 2015 by the then-youth plaintiffs. The judges’ decision on this most recent request to dismiss the case is expected sometime in the next few months.

      Rodgers is a senior attorney for Our Children’s Trust, the nonprofit based in Eugene, Oregon, that is supporting the young plaintiffs—the eldest of whom are now young adults while the youngest is 11—in making their case.

      They’re suing the United States government for endangering their future by supporting a fossil fuel-based energy system, despite knowledge of how that would contribute to the current climate disaster. Rodgers is also the lead attorney for climate-related suits on behalf of children in the states of Washington and Florida.

    • 70 Arrested at Extinction Rebellion Protest Demanding More Urgent Climate Coverage From New York Times

      Protesters briefly blocked traffic on Manhattan’s Eighth Avenue, between the Times building and the busy Port Authority Bus Terminal, The Guardian reported. Demonstrators staged a die-in on the street outside the paper’s headquarters. They also attached banners to the two buildings. The one affixed to Port Authority read “Climate Emergency,” and the banner suspended from the Times building read “climate change = mass murder,” with “change” crossed out and replaced with “emergency,” Reuters reported.

      “The lack of coverage of the climate crisis is completely unacceptable,” member of Extinction Rebellion’s press and fundraising teams Becca Trabin told The Guardian. “It’s a public safety crisis on a global scale.”

    • UPDATE 1-Police arrest 70 climate change protesters outside New York Times

      Police arrested 70 environmental protesters outside the New York Times headquarters who laid down in the street and climbed onto the building to demand the newspaper start referring to climate change as a climate emergency, police and media reports said.

      New York police arrested 67 people and Port Authority police arrested three others, a police spokesman said. Charges were pending.

      Protesters blocked the street by lying down in a “die-in” and affixed a banner to the skyscraper in midtown Manhattan saying “climate change = mass murder,” with the word “change” crossed out and replaced with “emergency,” according to pictures posted by the website of 1010 Wins radio.

    • Massive Fire at South Philadelphia Oil Refinery Injures Five

      A fire broke out at a Philadelphia oil refinery Friday morning, starting with an explosion so massive it was felt as far away as South Jersey and Delaware County, Pennsylvania, CNN reported.

    • Fire that engulfed Philadelphia refinery has been extinguished, officials say

      A fire that engulfed a Philadelphia refinery and sparked air-quality concerns has been extinguished, according to city officials.

      The fire at Philadelphia Energy Solutions was put out on Saturday afternoon, according to a statement on the city’s website.

      The fire began with an explosion on Friday morning from a vat of butane and propane. Residents reportedly felt the explosion in South Jersey and Delaware County, Pennsylvania, according to CNN affiliate WPVI.
      Emergency medical services treated one individual on the scene, according to Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel. Four employees also suffered minor injuries, and all were treated on-site by a company medical team, according to Philadelphia Energy Solutions.

      The fire sent large plumes of smoke into the sky that could be seen for miles. Emergency management officials initially asked people east of the fire to shelter in place, but the order was quickly lifted.

    • We Have Less Than a Millisecond Left

      We have less than a millisecond left.

      You see, the planet we call home has existed for roughly 4.55 billion years. But numbers that large mean almost nothing to me, nor to most people, so I choose to break it down. If we lay the age of the Earth out over a calendar year, that would amount to 518,264 years per hour or 144 years per second. So if we have 10 or 11 years until the point of no return, as climate scientists have repeatedly told us, that means we have a millisecond left before midnight in which to change our society completely to avoid turning the Earth into a piping hot fajita. (If you want to be more generous and instead look at how long modern homosapiens have been walking around, it’s 315,000 years. So if you lay that over a calendar year, we have roughly 15 minutes before the stroke of midnight to combat climate change. Not sure that makes me feel much better.)

      None of us should be thinking about anything other than climate change. We all kind of know it even if we think we don’t know it. Even people who deny climate change exists probably secretly know it. They’re just confusing what they want to be true with what they subconsciously know to be true. I did the same thing when I was a child and tennis legend Jimmy Connors lost in the semifinals of the 1991 U.S. Open after his monumental run at the ancient age of 39. (For an 11-year-old, 39 sounds pretty close to mummified.) I was certain Jimmy would be playing in the finals. I knew deep within my bones that Jimbo would dazzle us with diving volleys and mid-court passing shots in the championship match because how could the powers that be allow the only character America genuinely cared about to bow out before the finals? In my mind it was akin to killing off Iron Man halfway through the movie “Iron Man.”

      Jimmy Connors did not show up to the finals. Climate change is the only thing we should be thinking about.

    • Protecting the Great Burn

      The Great Burn is Missoula’s best kept wilderness secret, a landscape lost for more than 50 years from the devastating effects of the fire that bears its name. Its recovery has been nothing short of remarkable. Yet, the Burn is under fire once again, this time by off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and mountain bikes that threaten to steal the spirit of this fragile and wild landscape.

      With an administration dead set on exploiting our public lands, time is of the essence to ensure protection for perhaps our wildest and least protected stretch of proposed wilderness: the 1.9 million acres that straddles Montana and Idaho, known as the Great Burn and String of Pearls.

      Since 1964, wilderness lands have remained vital for recreation, the protection of species, as pristine waterways or as important connectivity for wildlife to continue to move and migrate without interference. Within the Great Burn there are bears, wolves, native mountain goats, wolverines and so many other special creatures that bring soul to these public lands owned by all Americans. Wildlife biologists have made clear; the Great Burn may well be one of the most important remaining habitats in the lower 48, especially when it comes to grizzly recovery.

      These lands are rich in old growth western-red cedar and Douglas fir; in some parts the cedars have been determined by the Forest Service to be more than 500 years old. These were the lucky strands that avoided fire.

      When President Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot set aside millions of acres for national forests, those who had been exploiting the public lands were enraged and senators in some Western states cut funding to the bone for the new agency and did all they could to ignore the peril they were creating.

      Today history is sadly repeating itself. The Forest Service is woefully underfunded; the current administration has done more to remove lands from protection than any in our history. There continues to be an outcry from a radical fringe to get rid of public lands and turn our wildest lands into a waste pit of extraction, trapping and a machine-driven chaos.

    • In Far-Reaching Plan, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Proposes Radical Changes to Fossil Fuel Industry

      Washington Gov. Jay Inslee isn’t one of the top contenders for his party’s nomination for president in 2020, but his campaign, which focuses on climate change, is pushing to end U.S. fossil fuel dependence by hitting climate crisis-exacerbating companies where it hurts: the wallet.

      In Inslee’s “Freedom from Fossil Fuels” plan, the governor calls for ending subsidies for fossil fuels, ensuring any new energy infrastructure is put through a rigorous permitting process, and introducing fees for greenhouse gas emissions. The plan, which marks the most comprehensive approach to addressing the climate crisis presented by a 2020 Democrat to date, is part of what Inslee described in comments to HuffPost reporter Alexander Kaufman as working “in the only time period that’s consistent with our survival in the world.”

      “This will get us off fossil fuels in the only time period that’s consistent with our survival in the world as we know it,” said Inslee. “Don’t expect these people to go easily.”

      Inslee’s plan shows how the conversation around climate is moving, said Julian Brave NoiseCat, Green New Deal Strategy director for Data for Progress. NoiseCat told environmental news outlet Earther Monday that the plan’s “move toward an investment and accountability framework is a very notable paradigm shift.”

    • Hey, Oregon Senators: You Can’t Run Away From Climate Change

      This week Oregon stands on the cusp of approving historic cap-and-invest legislation, HB 2020, that experts have said will help grow the Oregon economy. After three years of legislative consideration, numerous studies, hearings, public meetings and debate, the Oregon House approved the legislation decisively (36-22) on June 18th, and the bill moved to the Senate Floor, where a vote was expected on June 20th.

    • Jay Inslee’s Latest Climate Plan Targets the Fossil Fuel Industry

      In his latest bid to be the 2020 climate candidate, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled a plan Monday to target the fossil fuel industry by both phasing out extraction and making it pay for the damage it has already done.

      The plan would end subsidies for oil, natural gas and coal companies, ban drilling on federal lands and waters, phase out fracking and institute a “Climate Pollution Fee,” The Hill reported.

    • Inslee unveils plan to fight fossil fuel pollution, ban fracking

      Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), a 2020 presidential candidate, unveiled on Monday his plan for tackling fossil fuel pollution, including ending subsidies for oil and gas companies and phasing out fracking.

      The proposal, Inslee’s fourth plan for addressing climate change, calls for taking on the oil and gas companies he calls “the greatest and most powerful special interests that are holding back our clean energy future.”

      Even as candidates compete to showcase their environmental credentials, Inslee’s latest plan stands out in its attempt to tackle the source of emissions from what is now the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions: transportation.

    • Plastics Pact announcement ‘wholly inadequate’, says Green Party deputy leader

      Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said:

      “Companies produce and sell about 76 kilogrammes of plastic that goes to waste each year in the UK for every women, man and child in the country.

    • Up in Arms: New Book Explores the Bundys, Militias and the Battle Over Public Lands

      When armed militants with a grudge against the federal government seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon back in the winter of 2016, I remember avoiding the news coverage. Part of me wanted to know what was happening, but each report I read — as the occupation stretched from days to weeks and the destruction grew — made me so angry it was hard to keep reading.

    • 77 Health Organizations Call for Climate Action to Fight Public Health Emergency

      More than 70 leading public health groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree that the climate crisis is also a health emergency.

    • ‘Historic moment’ for indigenous people at climate talks, new climate leader says

      Pasang Dolma Sherpa: Yes, this is a historic moment. When the UNFCCC was established in 1992, indigenous peoples did not have the same forum to interact.
      Now, the indigenous peoples’ continued hard work, their struggle, their work on the ground has been acknowledged and is reflected at the global level. And finally we have the platform, the facility working group, at the same level as said parties to present the important role of indigenous peoples.
      What is the state of rights for indigenous peoples right now?
      In the Paris Agreement as well as at COP24 [in Katowice], it’s explicitly stated that indigenous peoples’ rights be enshrined by the UNFCCC, particularly rights for protecting, enhancing and continuing with traditional knowledge and cultural practices in their territories.
      But these rights are hardly reflected at a national level. There are so many events in the name of conservation, in the name of protection of biodiversity, cultural practices. The role of indigenous peoples has hardly been acknowledged, when in fact indigenous peoples have been contributing to sustaining and managing and protecting the ecosystem’s biodiversity. This voice needs to be heard.

    • 10 things a committed U.S. President and Congress could do about climate change

      The federal government has available to it, should it choose to use them, a wide range of potential climate change management tools, going well beyond the traditional pollution control regulatory options. And, in some cases (not all), without new legislative authorization.

      There’s a big “if” behind that remark: It will take an exceptionally climate-savvy and climate-concerned Executive Branch to have the political will to initiate some of these steps. And there’s more: It likely will take supportive bipartisan majorities in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. More still: It will also take widespread and strong public support and citizen engagement, and, even then, strong leadership skills on the part of federal leaders.

      It’s not clear when or if that time will come, nor what kind of climate catastrophe could precipitate such a coming-together. It brings to mind a phrase often attributed, but with some uncertainty, to Winston Churchill: “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.”

  • Finance

    • Brief Impressions of the Japanese Conjuncture

      I was last in Japan 12 years ago. Japan is a study in contradictions.

      Economically, it should be regarded as a basket case. Japan’s 2019 debt-to-GDP ratio stands at 235.96% of its GDP.

      Even Greece, after a decade of troika (EU-IMF-ECB) “fiscal waterboarding”, has a ratio of 191.27%. The US’s ratio is at 108.02%, and the UK’s 85.92% (thereby giving lie to the Tory myth, in support of its austerity agenda, that the UK is “living beyond its means”).

      Japan, with greater debt levels than Greece and Venezuela, has however the same credit rating as the other major economic powers because of its large economy and stable political system. It would be an international economic pariah otherwise.

      The other factor causing a drag on Japan’s economy is its elderly population. Japan has over twice the number of centenarians per 1000 people than the US and UK: 48 per 1000 versus 21.5 (UK) and 22 (US).

      A 1998 United Nations demographic survey showed that Japan is expected to have 272,000 centenarians by 2050. Data recently released by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry showed that the 26.18 million people 70 or older accounted for 20.7% of Japan’s population.

    • Hopeful Things

      Abandoning religion wasn’t at all hard. I forgot the feasts, the priests, the dutiful drones, and the money-worshipping hordes of hypocrites that turned up and tuned out every Sunday, just as they had forgotten the Gospels and their communist implications – if ever they had read them. The decision to leave was political, not spiritual: any organised religion that supported capitalism – a system that by its fundamental principles thrives on inequality and exploitation, that reproduces itself through violence, that endlessly refines the means to render the human species extinct – must necessarily compromise its own fundamental principles.

      Right or wrong, that was my point of departure, a long time ago now. But despite my efforts, I found it devilishly difficult to drop the monstrously complex habit of praying. It is at times utterly exhausting: searching for ways to forgive your enemies, dead or alive, to find love in your heart and to send some sprinklings of goodwill in otherwise spiteful situations, to hate a person’s vile behaviour, but not the person. And if none of this is remotely possible, to focus on the context that created them – a very socialist take on the whole affair.

    • Why We Need to Break Up Big Tech

      The combined wealth of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Google’s Sergey Brin, and Larry Page is larger than the combined wealth of the bottom half of the American population.

      They are the leaders of a second Gilded Age – ushered in by semiconductors, software and the internet – which has spawned a handful of hi-tech behemoths and crushed competition.

      Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft now have the highest market values for all public corporations in America.

      As of today, only three countries in the world have a GDP higher than these companies’ combined market value of approximately 4 trillion dollars.

      America’s first Gilded Age began in the late nineteenth century with a raft of innovations – railroads, steel production, oil extraction – that culminated in mammoth trusts run by “robber barons” like J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and William Vanderbilt.

    • With Puerto Rico Still Waiting on Approved Emergency Food Aid, Sanders Condemns Trump for ‘Holding Funds in Red Tape Limbo’

      Amid reports that Puerto Rico has still not received the $600 million in emergency food stamp aid that President Donald Trump reluctantly signed into law more than two weeks ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday accused the White House of “holding the funds in red tape limbo” and said the money must be released “immediately.”

      Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, specifically called out U.S. Department of Agriculture chief Sonny Perdue and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney for withholding the funds as the people of Puerto Rico “are going hungry.”

      [...]

      “The situation is dire,” Glorimar Andújar Matos, secretary of Puerto Rico’s families department, told the Post. “Given Puerto Rico’s unfair treatment in federal programs, we are pushing to receive and utilize the funds as soon as possible.”

      The delay comes after Republican lawmakers and the Trump administration worked to block any new emergency funding for Puerto Rico. Trump reportedly told officials earlier this year that he “doesn’t want another single dollar” going to Puerto Rico despite the growing hunger crisis on the island.

      The president ultimately signed into law a $19 billion disaster relief package that included funds for Puerto Rico and U.S. states affected by hurricanes.

    • Ilhan Omar and Bernie Got It Right: Full Student Debt Cancellation Is the Best Approach

      Sen. Bernie Sanders, together with Representatives Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal, has introduced a dramatic reform package on college affordability. It goes far beyond anything proposed so far, both in its scope and in its potential to reshape the way Americans think about their society and government.

      One bill in the package, Rep. Omar’s Student Debt Cancellation Act, would cancel all outstanding student debt. That’s a $1.6 trillion burden affecting more than 45 million people. This bill will benefit people in all demographic groups, communities, and walks of life. That fact is illustrated by the fact that, as Sen. Sanders introduces the bill in the Senate, eight representatives of color (including Rep. Omar) will simultaneously introduce it in the House.

      The reform package also includes Sen. Sanders’ College for All Act, which provides tuition-free higher education to every qualified American without any additional work requirements, restrictions, or tests for family financial eligibility.

    • Sanders and Omar’s Plan Would Wipe Out Every Outstanding Student Loan

      Today, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota released a bill to cancel all student debt in the nation, called the Student Debt Cancellation Act. Sen. Bernie Sanders is also introducing companion legislation for complete student debt cancellation as a part of broader package he is introducing on college affordability. While Representative Omar’s Student Debt Cancellation Act isn’t the first bill ever to propose canceling all student debt, it comes at a time when wide-scale student debt cancellation as a policy proposal is finally being treated with the seriousness it’s always deserved.

      Representative Omar’s legislation would enact universal debt cancellation — which means every single outstanding student loan, federal or private, would be wiped out. The bill comes two months after presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren released a proposal to wipe out all student debt for 75 percent of borrowers. Omar’s bill goes further than Warren’s plan, which caps debt cancellation at $50,000. Over 7.8 million borrowers (17 percent of all student debtors) owe $50,000 or more on their student loans, according to data from the New York Fed Reserve. This includes many borrowers who’ve pursued graduate degrees, and not only lawyers and people with MBAs. The average debt load of those who completed a master’s of education degree from 2015-16 was $55,200; for a master of science, it was $62,300. And of those pursuing any kind of advanced degree, Black and Latinx graduates are the most likely to have borrowed $50,000 or more.

      There are also many parents like Christopher Raymond who’d benefit from universal debt cancellation. Raymond borrowed $136,000 toward his two children’s higher education using Parent PLUS loans. He’s not alone: As of 2014, 13 percent of parents with Parent PLUS loans owe more than $50,000, and 4 percent owe over $100,000. Those with high loan balances are also likely to struggle to repay: almost 30 percent of all dollars in default are held by borrowers who owe over $50,000.

    • Trump Attacks Federal Reserve Again, Wants Interest Rate Cut

      President Donald Trump is continuing efforts to pressure the U.S. central bank system, saying the stock markets and economic growth would be much higher if not for its actions.

      Trump says the Federal Reserve “doesn’t know what it’s doing” and raised interest rates too quickly.

    • Under Trump, Manufacturing Job Growth Slows to a Trickle

      Donald Trump put manufacturing jobs at the center of his economic platform in 2016. He endlessly harped on the loss of relatively good-paying manufacturing jobs.

      He blamed this job loss on “terrible” trade agreements and other countries “manipulating” the value of their currency to get an advantage in trade. He put China at the top of the list of bad actors, promising to declare them a currency manipulator on day one of his administration, which would directly lead to economic sanctions.

      While Trump has engaged in considerable bluster in his trade negotiations, they have not led to much of a payoff for U.S. manufacturing workers to date. At the most basic level, instead of shrinking, the trade deficit has gotten larger under Trump.

      In 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, the trade deficit was $502 billion. Through the first four months of 2019, the trade deficit was running at almost a $620 billion annual rate, more than $100 billion higher than the deficit Trump inherited.

      For all his screaming about currency manipulation, the value of the dollar relative to other currencies has barely changed since Trump took office. Needless to say, Trump did not declare China a currency manipulator on day one of his administration or on any subsequent day.

      While he has in fact started a trade war with China, currency values — which would directly affect our trade balance — are no longer a major issue of contention. Instead, Trump seems more focused on ensuring that China respects the intellectual property claims of Boeing and other multinational companies when they outsource factories to China.

      Although the story of negotiating whiz Trump winning terrific trade deals for U.S. workers has not quite panned out, he actually could point to an increase in manufacturing jobs under his watch. Manufacturing employment increased by 471,000 (3.9 percent) in the 28 months from January 2017 to May 2019.

    • Capitalist Workplaces Set Bosses Up to Be Authoritarian Tyrants

      Long before the growing interest in economic inequality facing contemporary capitalist societies, radical thinkers and union organizers were concerned about the authoritarian governance in workplaces. Unfortunately, this concern seems to have taken a back seat in political philosophy during the present era. Elizabeth S. Anderson, a professor of philosophy and women’s studies at the University of Michigan, is seeking to remedy this with her trenchant analyses of the coercive and hierarchical nature of capitalist firms and corporations. Her book Private Government offers an important reminder that bosses tend to be dictators and that workers’ lives are essentially at the mercy of private government.

    • UK Government’s Latest Take On Asset Forfeiture Is Pretty Much ‘You Can’t Afford That!’

      The UK government has adopted a spin on asset forfeiture so brazenly abusive of citizens, American cops are probably kicking themselves for not thinking of it first.

      Dutch law enforcement raised the bar for forfeiture-related audacity early last year when they promised to start taking the literal clothes off people’s back if it didn’t seem like they had the (legal) funds to afford high-end designer wear. Dutch officials said a lot of things about gaudy timepieces but made it clear shirts and pants might follow if deemed sufficiently expensive.

      The UK has this beat. As Walter Olson opines for the Washington Examiner, the UK plan does away with all the comparative politeness of American asset forfeiture. There will be no fishing expeditions masquerading as traffic stops. There will be no pre-dawn raids predicated on tips by informants whose trustworthiness is only exceeded by their willingness to commit crimes using taxpayer dollars.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Deep Fakes: Will AI Swing the 2020 Election?

      Imagine, on the day before the 2020 presidential election, that someone posts a video of the Democratic candidate talking before a group of donors. The candidate admits to being ashamed to be an American, confesses that the United States is a malevolent force in the world, and promises to open borders, subordinate the country to the UN, and adopt a socialist economic system.

      The video goes viral. It doesn’t matter that it sounds a bit suspicious, a candidate saying such things just before the election. A very careful observer might note some discrepancies with the shadows in the background of the video or that the candidate makes some oddly uncharacteristic facial expressions.

      For the average credulous viewer, however, the video reinforces some latent prejudices about Democratic Party candidates, that they never thought America was all that great to begin with and are not ultimately interested in making the country great again. And hey, didn’t Mitt Romney make a similar mistake by dissing the 47 percent just before the 2012 elections?

    • How the Media Will Pick the Next Democratic Presidential Candidate

      Democratic primary voters and caucus-attendees are of two minds about the 2020 presidential general election campaign.
      A majority of them want it to be like one of those hockey games where the players drop their gloves and start fighting the moment the puck is dropped. They want a candidate who welcomes a bench-clearing brawl with President Trump. And they want the melee to be about something big: an explicit and unapologetic liberal agenda, devoid of global-oney and neoliberal trims.

      At the same time, a greater majority of Democratic voters simply want to beat Trump and worry about the rest later. Anything that might endanger his defeat is therefore disqualifying. Whatever general-election voters in the key states need to hear to vote against Trump, that’s the Democratic platform.

      Back and forth it goes. The California State Democratic Party delegates boo Democratic presidential candidates who are critical of socialism. Joe Biden is talked up as the party’s surest bet in November 2020. Biden is lambasted for his past support of the Hyde Amendment. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth are described (again and again) as too liberal, a.k.a. “unelectable.”

      Enter the polls. Polls are the MRIs of “electability” and provide pseudo-scientific precision to forecasting future outcomes. They enable TV talking heads to winnow candidates out and, to paraphrase the late Senator Fred Harris, “winnow candidates in.”

    • How Immigration Changed A Small-Town Sweden That Never Existed

      How far can you stretch nostalgia before warm, harmless exaggeration transforms into weaponized dishonesty?

      This question is at the heart of a great deal of discussion on immigration in Europe, where the presence of new residents is often pitched by those opposed to immigration as ultimately undermining (and even eradicating) local history, cultures and traditions. Precisely what those local histories, cultures and traditions looked like before the arrival of immigrants, however, is far from agreed upon, and are very often altered and romanticized in the service of an anti-immigration agenda.

      Nothing better illustrates this dynamic than an opinion piece published a few days ago in the Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten. In the article, the author recounted the tale of searching late one dark winter night (in the relatively small Swedish town of Gävle) for an open food store. She eventually managed to find a shop run by an immigrant, and noted that the store sold meat marked “Halal” in Swedish and Arabic, had “small animals” in the meat freezer and pickled vegetables she considered “inedible”. She ended up buying the only thing she felt comfortable eating: a box of instant macaroni.

      The author’s reaction to this entire incident?

      “I am in Sweden, a Sweden that doesn’t feel Swedish. And I don’t like it.”

      The piece played on the familiar clichés of lost local cultures and feeling like a stranger in your own land. But, it also touched upon nostalgia over the death of small-town community and identity: the “Mom ’n’ Pop” corner store selling local food being replaced by stores selling supposedly “exotic” foreign food; and, small communities, once bustling with people and businesses, now reduced to ghost towns housing immigrants.

    • Every Day Is World Refugee Day

      Last week the U.N. declared World Refugee Day to shine a light on the record, almost 26 million poor, brown, defenseless souls our monsters in power keep using as political pawns in an unconscionable “death by a thousand cuts.” It’s always good to remind us of the human misery at the edges of our privilege, but the crimes, alas, mount. The horrific tales emerging of the conditions of “some suburb of hell” where thousands are now incarcerated – concrete floors, packed bodies, freezing dog-pound-style detention pens, flu, lice, shit, vomit, trauma, hunger, sexual abuse and dear God sobbing children – were best if gruesomely embodied by the spectacle of demon DOJ lawyer Sarah “Eichmann” Fabian struggling to explain to horrified judges why children don’t need soap, beds or toothbrushes to be “safe and sanitary” as required by law. One helpful observer to Fabian, “Your room in hell is ready.” Finally, lest we forget, greedy people are making money from these atrocities, and they are part of a long historical arc – yes we have locked up many innocents before – proving that, “Once there are concentration camps” – yes they are concentration camps – “it is always probable that things will get worse.”

      Still, many are fighting back to assert the fundamental human rights of refugees. They are telling their stories and citing their too-often neglected accomplishments. They are declaring themselves safe spaces and sanctuary states, counties, cities. They are vowing, as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker just did by signing several new laws, that private entities will not “profit off the intolerance of this president.” And they are finding new, humane ways to confront the crisis. Here in Portland, Maine, hundreds of new asylum seekers from Angola and the Congo just arrived en masse, bundled into buses from Texas after months making their harrowing way through South and Central America, mostly on foot. Portland has already absorbed several thousand African refugees and crafted an extraordinary, grassroots support network for them, but we’ve seen nothing like this – the big numbers at once, the horror stories, the desperation. Still, we have rallied. City and state officials found money, created decent shelter, reached out to other towns. People have raised over $400,000 and donated mountains of clothes, toys, baby food. African leaders organized volunteers, Angolan and Congolese women flocked to cook native meals, truckloads of diapers shipped, lawyers, doctors, translators stepped up. It’s neither easy nor complicated, but it’s doable. In the name of our common humanity, because this.

    • New Report Details the 15 House Democrats That Should Face Progressive Challengers

      As progressive candidates continue to announce their intentions to oust corporate Democrats, a new report names 15 House Democrats to unseat in primary challenges.

      Published Monday by the left-leaning group RootsAction, the new report is entitled Bad Blues: Some of the House Democrats Who Deserve to Be ‘Primaried.’

      The list, the report notes, “is by no means exhaustive—only illustrative.”

      “There may well be a Democratic member of Congress near you not included here who serves corporate interests more than majority interests, or has simply grown tired or complacent in the never-ending struggles for social, racial, and economic justice as well as environmental sanity and peace,” the report notes. “Perhaps you live in a district where voters are ready to be inspired by a progressive primary candidate because the Democrat in Congress is not up to the job.”

      Among the well-known names on the list: Rep. Eliot Engel of New York. He’s already facing two progressive challengers: educators Jamaal Bowman and Andom Ghebreghiorgis.

      Engel, the report says, has long been “affiliated with the corporate wing of the party” and is “notable for repeatedly breaking with his own party to support Republican foreign policy positions.” In Congress since 1989, Engel’s “support for hawkish Republicanism has continued into the Trump era.”

      Another primary-worthy House Democrat on the list: Illinois’s anti-choice Dan Lipinski.

    • Leader of Ingushetia resigns following extraordinary popular resistance to Chechen border deal

      Ingush government head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov announced his decision to resign before the end of his current term during a state-run regional television broadcast.

      “I have made the decision to request that President Vladimir Putin release me in advance from my duties as the head of the republic,” Yevkurov said, adding that he is “not blind” to the current political situaiton in his region. He argued that government, social, and religious organizations are all responsible for a state of division in Ingushetia.

    • Greed and Politics Should Not Drive Forest Policy

      The Custer Gallatin National Forest should withdraw its North Bridger Forest Health Project (2,296 acres of commercial logging, including 667 acres of clear-cutting). Despite the government’s claims, there is nothing particularly unhealthy about the public forest in and around Fairy Lake, Battle Ridge Campground and Brackett Creek.

      Yes, the snow is deep, growing season short and the soil is thin, but trees somehow make a living in challenging conditions. Clear-cutting in these amazing high-elevation, alpine environments demonstrates how far removed the Forest Service-USDA has become from the public values of a typical local resident. Most individuals and families who travel the short distance to the North Bridgers are expecting a quiet weekend of camping close to town, or a peaceful day of hiking, fishing, hunting or sight-seeing. These are the values important to locals. Out-of-town visitors come to enjoy similar experiences on their national forest. These are sacred places.

      It is self-evident that the Forest Service doesn’t value the forest in the same way. Why is this so hard for the Forest Service to understand? National (top-down) timber goals dominate the current system. Same as it ever was. Clear-cutting unroaded alpine forests defies common sense, is contrary to scientific knowledge, and lacks any sense of moral integrity to the public and the forestry profession. What a ridiculous place to manage a tree farm.

    • Elizabeth Warren’s Flawed But Well-Intentioned Proposal For Banning Private Prisons

      Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren published a policy proposal to ban private prison facility management and place stronger controls on the outsourcing of services in the criminal legal system.

      In making her case, Warren attempts to broaden the public’s limited understanding of privatization as a matter of facility management. She raises issues of extortion faced by prisoners and those who support them, and she highlights the growing lobbying influence of private companies searching for avenues to expand their reach into other areas of the system.

      “We need significant reform in both criminal justice and in immigration, to end mass incarceration and all of the unnecessary, cruel, and punitive forms of immigration detention that have taken root in the Trump administration,” Warren argues.

      Unfortunately, it does not seem that Warren’s proposal is adequate enough. Some of these issues relate to limitations any president faces in pursuing a top-down strategy on criminal punishment issues that are largely the purview of state and local governments.

    • New Draft of ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ Treaty Affirms Protection for Women and LGBTIQ Persons. The Fight Wasn’t Easy—and It Isn’t Over Yet

      When it comes to the letter of the law, a few words can mean the difference between having your rights protected – or not.

      Earlier this month, the International Law Commission (ILC) formally recommended a final draft of the new crimes against humanity (CAH) treaty for adoption by states—a treaty that promises to bring justice to victims of atrocities.

    • Most Democratic Candidates Still Afraid To Criticize Israel’s Violations Of Palestinian Rights

      The attitudes of Democratic voters toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have become decidedly more balanced in the past two decades. Favorable attitudes toward Palestinians are up while attitudes toward Israel appear to be in decline. While, overall views of Israel remain positive, substantial numbers of Democrats are opposed to Israeli policies – namely settlement construction and violations of Palestinian rights. Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is also viewed negatively by most Democrats.

      These shifts in opinion have placed many Democratic presidential candidates in a bind – especially those who have served in Congress or as Governors. As conscious as they may be of their base’s changing mood, they have also been schooled not to alienate pro-Israel donors or cross Israel’s lobbyists, who can, if aroused, distract their campaigns with a barrage of protests.

      It was against this backdrop that I watched the results of a months-long New York Times’ project in which they interviewed 21 of the Democrats running for president on a range of foreign and domestic policy issues that will confront the next president. There were questions on Afghanistan, handguns, health care, immigration, and the death penalty.

    • Trump’s swamp people: Shockingly, the administration’s vetting process was a total mess

      think most people believe that one of Donald Trump’s most important pledges during the 2016 campaign was to “Drain the swamp,” a slogan that has become one of his followers’ favorite chants. But unlike “Lock her up” or “Build the wall,” Trump didn’t even launch that phrase until Oct. 18, 2016, just a couple of weeks before the election.

      It was formally introduced with great fanfare in a speech on the eve of the first general-election debate in which he presented his “ethics reform” program.

    • To Create a New Deal That Works for Everyone, We Must Shun Centrism

      History has a way of crashing into itself on occasion. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s unrepentant praise for a white supremacist segregationist last week — which, according to the presidential candidate, was taken out of context and is not actually a reflection of his hidebound mid-20th century worldview so stop saying that — caused a multi-car pileup in history’s HOV lane. Untangling the wreckage informs us on not just where we’ve been, but where we could be headed in 2020.

      Biden’s kind words for Sen. James O. Eastland (D-Mississippi), one of the most ruthless defenders of Jim Crow in the South, ripped the scab off some uncomfortable truths regarding the Democratic Party, the New Deal, and institutional racism. Biden summoned Eastland into his argument as a means of praising a time when lawmakers could “get things done” even with terrible people in a bygone era of “civility.”

      As much as it was just and proper to confront Biden’s serial talent for missing the point, particularly when he summoned the racist slur “boy” with no apparent sense of its vicious context, the fact remains that the Democratic Party mollified its segregationist wing in order to pass the New Deal. By doing so, they deliberately left Black citizens out of the equation, even as they enacted new laws and regulations that remade the U.S. economic and political landscape.

      Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ambitious program, enacted in pieces over several years to end the long slog of the Great Depression, changed the way the country lived and worked. Minimum wage and child labor laws, protections for bank customers and new muscle for unions, strong stock market regulations, and new infrastructure for plumbing and electricity remade the nation from coast to coast and border to border. The establishment of Social Security meant that for many people, growing old did not have to mean growing destitute, and laid the groundwork for Medicare and Medicaid, two of the most successful government programs ever put forth.

      In passing his slate of reforms, however, Roosevelt placated the segregationist wing of his party, represented toward the end of his long administration by men like James Eastland. Many Black workers were denied the benefits of Social Security and the bargaining power provided by the National Labor Relations Act so Southern oligarchs could maintain their pool of cheap Black laborers. Black people were likewise denied government mortgage subsidies granted by the Federal Housing Act, also at the behest of those same Southern oligarchs.

    • Buttigieg Criticized at Emotional Town Hall After Shooting

      Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg faced criticism Sunday from angry residents of South Bend, Indiana, at an emotional town hall meeting a week after a white police officer fatally shot a black man in the city where he is mayor.

      Buttigieg (BOO’-tuh-juhj) said he would call for an outside investigation of the shooting of 54-year-old Eric Logan by Sgt. Ryan O’Neill.

      The 37-year-old mayor said he would send a letter to the federal Department of Justice’s civil rights division and notify the local prosecutor that he’d like an independent investigator appointed. He conceded that his administration had failed on two key initiatives.

      “The effort to recruit more minority officers to the police department and the effort to introduce body cameras have not succeeded and I accept responsibility for that,” Buttigieg said.

      Prosecutors investigating said that the shooting was not recorded by O’Neill’s body camera.

    • Billionaires to 2020 Presidential Hopefuls: ‘America Has a Moral, Ethical, and Economic Responsibility to Tax Our Wealth More’

      “Those of us who have signed this letter believe it is our duty to step up and support a wealth tax that taxes us,” the letter reads. “It is a key to both addressing our climate crisis, and a more competitive, stronger economy that would better serve millions of Americans. It would make America healthier. It is a fair way of creating opportunity. And it strengthens American freedom and democracy. It is not in our interest to advocate for this tax, if our interests are quite narrowly understood. But the wealth tax is in our interest as Americans.”

      The letter is signed by 18 named individuals from 11 incredibly wealthy families, including Robert S. Bowditch Jr., founder of real estate development firm MB Associates, and his wife, Louise Bowditch; filmmaker Abigail Disney; philanthropist George Soros and his son Alexander Soros; Arnold S. Hiatt, chairman of the Stride Rite Charitable Foundation; Regan Pritzker, president of the Libra Foundation; and Liesel Pritzker Simmons and Ian Simmons, co-founders of the impact investment organization Blue Haven Initiative.

      “We thought it would be a good idea,” Ian Simmons explained to the Times. “Liesel and I decided to reach out to some other folks to see if they thought it was a good idea, too.”

    • An Open Letter To My Fellow American, Civil Servant Jared Kushner

      I do hope it’s okay with you that I dropped the salutation formalities. I just read in Medium an article by Aaron Gell, their contributing editor, titled Jared Kushner Was My Boss, so I really feel I personally know you now, plus, I’ve been writing about you for several months, so let’s be friends.

      I just read your Peace to Prosperity Economic Plan. I must give it to you. You did it. You produced 136 pages of nothing, in full color and with photos too.

      I read this on my veranda, the one facing the illegal Israeli settlement of Psagot across the valley. Every time I looked up to take a sip of water, I looked at the settlement lights glaring down on me and then looked down to your plan to see where it fits; I see it fits perfectly since you don’t even hint that it exists. I know, we Palestinians should not get bogged down with inconvenient facts on the ground.

      I really liked the part of the plan’s vision that notes that it can only be achieved, “following a peace agreement” and that “Only through peace can the Palestinians achieve prosperity.” You are spot on here, Jared, but isn’t that what the Palestinian leadership and people have been saying to you from the outset, show us the political parameters and then we can talk economy? Isn’t that how “business plans” are built; you ask about the applicable laws and regulations, then you build your plan?

    • Advocates Say Illinois Ban on Private Immigrant Detention Centers, a ‘Firewall’ Against Trump’s Attacks on Immigrants, Should Be Model for Country

      In addition to making Illinois the first state to outlaw private immigrant detention facilities, the state’s new legislation also prohibits local law enforcement agencies from engaging in federal immigration enforcement with ICE and allows undocumented and transgender students to receive Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants and other aid at public education institutions.

      “We will not allow private entities to profit off of the intolerance of this president,” said Pritzker. “We will not allow local police departments [to] act as an extension of ICE. And we will ensure that every student in this state who wants to go to college should be able to do so without saddling themselves with debt for the rest of their lives.”

    • EFF to the California DOJ: Enforce the Prohibition on Assisting Immigration Enforcement

      In response to the looming threat of mass deportations, EFF has sent a letter to California’s Department of Justice (DOJ) asking it to enforce the standing prohibition on using the state’s law enforcement network for immigration enforcement.

      In February 2019, the DOJ updated its regulations to prohibit federal agencies from accessing the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS) for the purposes of immigration enforcement. This change was part of the implementation of the California Values Act, a 2017 law that generally prohibits California law enforcement from using its resources to assist in deportation efforts.

      Databases can qualify as such resources. CLETS is a network that allows law enforcement agencies to search through a person’s criminal history, driving and parking violations, and driver license and vehicle registration. While the California Values Act made an exception for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) access to criminal histories to comply with federal law, all other uses should be off limits for immigration enforcement.

    • Hearing Wednesday: California Should Audit Use of License Plate Data

      Sacramento – On Wednesday, June 26, at 10 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to approve an audit on the use of automated license plate readers (ALPR) by state law enforcement.

      ALPRs are camera systems that scan the license plates of vehicles in order to track people in real time and create search databases of driver’s historical travel patterns. As a mass surveillance technology, ALPR captures information on every driver, regardless of whether their vehicle is under suspicion. Several years ago, California lawmakers passed legislation to regulate ALPR use, including requiring publicly available usage policies and guidelines for how the information is accessed. State Sen. Scott Wiener, who previously supported EFF legislation to protect drivers’ from ALPR surveillance, filed the request for the audit.

      At the hearing Wednesday, EFF Senior Investigative Researcher Dave Maass will explain that many California law enforcement agencies are not complying with this law. Researchers have found that ALPR data is routinely shared with hundreds of other entities without safeguards or proper legal process. A probe by the California State Auditor will help the public and policymakers learn more about how state agencies are protecting their data.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Indian Gov’t Uses National Security Law, Bad Information To Block Twitter Accounts All Over The World

      US social media companies are continuing to act as proxy censors for governments around the world. This is adding some bizarre twists to stories of social media content takedowns as governments target posts by non-citizens located thousands of miles away.

      India may have abandoned a fake news law, but it still acting as though unverified news is a threat to national security. In a case covered by Kevin Poulsen for The Daily Beast, an American college student’s tweets were targeted by the Indian government, which claimed the student was engaging in spreading propaganda.

    • Supposedly Disadvantaged Conservatives Not Exactly Rushing To Support Josh Hawley’s Anti-Section 230 Bill

      Senator Josh Hawley’s ridiculous and unconstitutional bill to remove CDA Section 230 protections from internet giants was clearly designed to appeal to conservative voters who have been fed a nonstop myth that the big internet platforms are “targeting” them for their conservative views, when the reality is that the platforms are mostly targeting trolls, harassers, Nazis, and assholes. If those factors are disproportionately impacting Republicans, then perhaps that’s more an issue for the Republican party than the internet platforms.

      Either way, given that the myth that platforms are “targeting” conservatives has some traction, it seems likely that Hawley thought the conservative movement and conservative organizations would likely rush in to support his nonsense bill. It appears he miscalculated. FreedomWorks, the organization closely associated with the Tea Party movement put out a tweet mocking Hawley for thinking “conservatives are too stupid to realize he’s trying to kill free speech online.”

    • Congress Should Not Rush to Regulate Deepfakes

      The House Intelligence Committee held a hearing earlier this month examining the issue of “deepfakes,” a term coined to describe images or videos created with a machine learning algorithm that allows people to make false footage that appears real. There is real potential for fake or manipulated images or video to be dangerous or harmful. University of Maryland law school professor Danielle Citron pointed during her hearing testimony to the horrifying story of journalist Rana Ayyub. An online mob spread a false pornographic video featuring Ayyub’s image, forcing her to hide for her own safety. As a society, we must acknowledge the harmful uses of deepfakes and hold the people who produce them accountable for their actions. EFF has acknowledged the harms of online harassment—including how people use harassment to chill the speech of marginalized people. Yet Congress must tread carefully if it seeks to address the actual problem without censoring lawful and socially valuable speech—such as parodies and satires.

      Before Congress drafts legislation to regulate deepfakes, lawmakers should carefully consider what types of content new laws should address, what our current laws already do, and how further legislation will affect free speech and free expression.

    • Australia Says Media Companies Can Be Sued Over User Comments On Facebook

      It’s no secret that Australia has taken a very different view towards intermediary liability than the US, saying (for example) that search engines can be responsible for search results it had nothing to do with, and even that they can be held liable if you are offended by the images that show up next to yours in an image search. So perhaps the latest such case in Australia shouldn’t be a surprise. A court has ruled that media companies can be held liable for comments on their news stories. And not just the comments on their own pages… but on Facebook.

    • Don’t Shoot The Message Board: A Data Driven Look At The Impact Of Section 230 On Innovation And The Economy

      We’ve obviously been talking a lot about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act over the past few years — and it is often credited as being the most important law for the internet. Jeff Kosseff’s recent book calls it “the 26 words that created the internet,” while David Post once declared that Section 230 probably “created a trillion dollars or so of value.” We’ve talked a lot about how the real benefits of Section 230 are not to the internet companies themselves, but to the public’s free speech rights, but over the last few years it’s bugged me that there wasn’t a better attempt to measure the actual economic impact of Section 230 and other intermediary liability regimes.

      Today, in partnership with NetChoice, we’re launching our new report: Don’t Shoot the Message Board, that attempts to explore what the data shows concerning the economic benefits of Section 230. We chose the name because it’s perfectly fitting. Section 230 was, literally, written and pushed by (then) Reps. Chris Cox and Ron Wyden in response to the awful ruling in the Stratton Oakmont case, which suggested that any company hosting a message board could be found liable for any of the content on that message board. Similarly, the common phrase is “don’t shoot the messenger,” which is very much about not blaming the party merely delivering the message, as opposed to creating or causing the message. Putting liability on intermediaries is very much about blaming the messenger for actions of someone else.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Opinion: New generation of tech firms urges stronger privacy laws

      Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently wrote about the importance of privacy in the New York Times, joining Facebook and others as purported converts to the cause. But while Big Tech publicly claims a change of heart about consumer privacy, it is at the same time quietly attempting to dismantle California’s new privacy law before it even goes into effect. This kind of duplicity is why the tech industry is increasingly being viewed with suspicion.
      Last year California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act, which requires large companies to respect basic personal information rights.
      These include the rights of individuals to know what types of information about them are collected sold, or shared, and the right to stop businesses from trading their information.
      As an industry that depends on public trust and touts itself as improving our lives, we need to stop sharing intimate information with unscrupulous brokers and building systems that manipulate users’ preferences and actions. These are serious mistakes that may generate short-term profits but hurt consumers, our communities, and the industry as a whole.
      Secretly, our colleagues in Big Tech worry about privacy violations too. That’s why so many of them prohibit their own children from using the products and services they push on an unwitting public.
      We represent a new generation of privacy-focused companies that believe we should not build things we wouldn’t let our own kids use. We support strong privacy protections, not just token “regulation” that doesn’t really protect consumers. That’s why we (and others) have called on the legislature to actually strengthen California’s consumer privacy law.
      Big Tech, though? They’re calling for something else entirely: watering down California’s law as much as possible.
      For example, Big Tech has called for an exception for online advertising tracking and other changes that would narrow the range of information protected by the new law.
      They also successfully killed SB 561, which proposed that Californians should be able to hold tech companies accountable when they commit serious privacy violations, as well as AB 1760, the Privacy for All Act, which would have strengthened the CCPA in numerous ways.

    • The New Generation of Tech and Stronger Privacy Laws

      Read all about how Todd Weaver and Brendan Eich reject Big Tech’s efforts to weaken California’s privacy law.

      In a nutshell, what you can read in The Mercury News is how every Big Tech company seems to care about privacy now—while quietly attempting to dismantle the California Consumer Privacy Act before it even goes into effect. Why? California’s new privacy law requires large companies to respect basic information rights: what is collected, sold, traded or shared.

      Sharing intimate information and manipulating users’ choices and actions are serious mistakes.

      Our colleagues in Big Tech worry about privacy violations too… and that’s why so many of them don’t allow their own children to use the products and services they sell.

      Regulate us. Seriously.

      We don’t believe in building things we wouldn’t let our own kids use, and that’s why we want to strengthen California’s consumer privacy law. Our industry knows how to innovate and adapt, we thrive in the startup mindset of tackling new challenges, we know how to conquer what seems impossible. Regulation that helps civilians is critical; regulation that creates a barrier to entry for competition and protects technology giants is not.

    • “Somebody Is Going to Die”: Lawyer Describes Chaos, Illness & Danger at Migrant Child Jail in Texas

      Outrage is mounting over a shocking Associated Press report published late last week revealing that at least 250 migrant infants, children and teenagers have been locked up for nearly a month without adequate food, water or sanitation at a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, near the city of El Paso. Lawyers who visited the facility described a scene of chaos and sickness, with children unable to shower or change into clean clothes for weeks on end. The AP report came the same week that the Trump administration argued in federal court that the government is not required to provide toothbrushes, soap or beds to children detained at the border, and as other reports found similarly squalid conditions at a number of immigration jails. We speak with Warren Binford, a lawyer who interviewed children detained at the Clint, Texas, facility.

    • Children Continue to Die in Government Custody, and DHS is Dodging Accountability

      In recent months, at least seven children have either died in custody or died after being detained by federal immigration agencies at the border. These children came to the United States desperate for shelter and safety, but found inhumanity and suffering, under our government’s care, instead.

      Their deaths reveal just how dire the conditions are under which U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are holding hundreds of children. Detention facilities are dangerously overcrowded, where migrants are forced to wear soiled clothes for days at a time. To make matters worse, CBP also appears to be holding children for extended periods of time in direct conflict with the Flores agreement, a set of legal guidelines that provide humane conditions for immigrant children in detention — guidelines the Trump administration is now attempting to dismantle, arguing in court that it doesn’t require CBP to provide basic toiletries to keep children clean.

      The government may argue that their hands are tied by a lack of resources, but the truth is that these horrors are simply the latest attempt to dehumanize asylum-seekers and migrants, including children, and deny them basic care and dignity.

      U.S. Border Patrol, the law enforcement arm of CBP, has more than doubled in staff and funding since 2003. CBP has dealt with even higher levels of border crossers arrivals in the past and has 17 times the budget it did in 1990.

      And yet, the department continues to have a heinous track record of rampant reported abuses in detention facilities, with adults dying on their watch as well as children, all with almost no accountability standards. There have been 97 fatalities at the hands of CBP agents since 2004, including the murder of Claudia Gomez Gonzalez, an unarmed, indigenous 20-year-old woman who was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent in May 2018.

      The department has had ample time and resources to figure out their processes and be more forthcoming with a plan to address influxes of asylum seekers, particularly families, at the U.S.-Mexico border. Yet, they continue to be opaque in their answers to members of Congress and push misleading data about border crossings.

    • If China Is A Glimpse Of Our Future Surveillance Nightmare, Maybe Hong Kong Shows How To Fight It

      Techdirt has been covering the roll-out of the extraordinarily comprehensive digital surveillance systems in China for many years. It’s hardly news that the Chinese authorities continue to deploy the latest technologies in order to bolster their control. Many of the same approaches to surveillance are being tried in the special administrative region of Hong Kong. A British colony for 156 years, it was handed back to China in 1997 on the understanding that there would be “one country, two systems”: Hong Kong would be part of China, but it would retain its very different economic and administrative systems for at least 50 years.

      Well, that was the theory. In practice, Xi Jinping is clearly unwilling to wait that long, and has been asserting more and more control over Hong Kong and its people. In 2014, this provoked the youth-led “Umbrella Movement”, which sought to fight interference by the Chinese authorities in Hong Kong’s political system. More recently, there have been even bigger protests over a planned law that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to China.

    • Why is the US government using social media to monitor the public?

      A series of recent reports—based on documents obtained from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filings and other leaked information—have revealed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is violating the First Amendment right to free speech and assembly by gathering social media data for surveillance purposes and targeting organizations and individuals for harassment, intimidation, deportation and arrest.

    • Ola Bini, Privacy Activist and Julian Assange Friend, Speaks Out After Release from Ecuadorian Jail

      Last week, an Ecuadorian judge ordered the release of Swedish programmer and data privacy activist Ola Bini, who spent more than two months in jail without charge. Bini is a friend of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. He was arrested in Quito on the same day that Assange was forcibly taken by British authorities from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. We speak with Ola Bini in Quito, where he remains under investigation for allegedly hacking the Ecuadorian government. He says, “Through the whole process, 70 days in prison, and all of the days since, we’ve been asking the prosecution to tell us what it is I have done. And they still have not actually given us any single answer.”

    • Targeted for Being a Friend of Julian Assange? Ola Bini Released After Two Months in Ecuadorian Jail

      Web-only conversation with Swedish programmer and data privacy activist Ola Bini following his release from over two months in an Ecuadorian jail. Bini was arrested on the same day that Julian Assange was forcibly taken by British authorities from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How Moscow and St. Petersburg protested against police overreach and political repressions on June 23

      On June 23, demonstrators gathered around Russia to protest political repressions and police fabrication of criminal cases. In central Moscow, a march organized by the Libertarian Party and the Union of Journalists and Media Workers attracted between 1,800 and 3,900 people according to police and organizers, respectively. Six protesters, including artist Artyom Loskutov, were arrested at the end of the event. In St. Petersburg, protesters had not received a permit from local authorities, and three of them were arrested. Sasha Sulim and Pavel Merzlikin observed the day’s goings-on in Moscow and St. Petersburg, respectively.

    • Meet the Moscow teen trying to educate women about their rights when sexually assaulted, as she faces felony charges for protecting herself

      A 19-year-old woman in Moscow named Darya Ageniy has launched a new campaign on social media in support of victims of sexual violence. She says she survived an attack last summer in the city of Tuapse, where an intoxicated local man tried to rape her. In self-defense, Darya stabbed the man with a pencil sharpening knife, leading to an investigation in which she is a suspect. If convicted, she faces time in prison. The man in question denies forcing himself onto Darya, saying that he only wanted to read poetry to her. Meduza special correspondent Pavel Merzlikin spoke to Darya Ageniy about the felony case against her and about how her Internet project might change Russians’ perceptions of sexual violence.

    • Citing CIA’s Dark History, Librarians Protest Agency’s Recruiting at Their Conference

      A group of librarians demanded the American Library Association abide by its values on Friday as they staged a protest of the CIA’s presence and recruitment at the professional organization’s annual conference.

      At the convention, which is taking place June 20-25 in Washington, D.C., the CIA is among the hundreds of exhibitors.

      Being an exhibitor at one of its gatherings, the American Library Association (ALA) says, “provides the best and most comprehensive opportunity to reach decision makers in the library field.”

      The protesters say the CIA’s track record provides ample evidence it should not be provided that opportunity.

      “The CIA is recruiting at #alaac19,” said organizer and Library Freedom Project founder Alison Macrina on Twitter. “Everything they stand for is a violation of the values of librarianship, so we protested.”

    • The Largest Migrant Shelter Is a House of Horrors, Report Finds

      President Trump announced and then quickly called off Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids targeting undocumented immigrants this weekend, but it’s little relief for the migrants already in government custody.

      The Texas Tribune reported Sunday that the McAllen, Texas-area Customs and Border Patrol shelter, the largest of its kind in the U.S., was so overcrowded that immigrants were forced to sleep outside. Toby Gialluca, an immigration lawyer, told the Tribune the water in the facility “tastes like bleach,” adding, “It was so bad that the mothers would save any bottled water they could get and use that to mix the baby formula.”

      Children don’t have clean clothes, advocates say, and are not receiving sufficient medical care. “Unable to clean themselves, young mothers reported wiping their children’s runny noses or vomit with their own clothing,” the Tribune reported.

      The McAllen facility is separate from the Clint, Texas, one that most of the 300 children that were there were moved from, according to reports Monday from the Associated Press, via Texas station KVIA.

      “Basic hygiene just doesn’t exist there,” Gialluca told the Tribune. “It’s a health crisis … a manufactured health crisis.”

    • State Duma proposal would protect entrepreneurs from recent law criminalizing mafia leadership

      State Duma Deputy Rifat Shaikhutdinov has introduced a proposal to block a relatively recent law that penalizes organizing or participating in a “criminal community” from being applied in cases of financial crimes. The law in question, Article 210 of the Russian Criminal Codex, was designed to lock up those who hold a high rank in the Russian organized crime hierarchy even if they cannot be charged under other statutes.

    • Post Office loses bid to have judge in case removed

      A group of 557 former post office staff, including Telford’s Tracy Felstead, are taking legal action against the company in an attempt to clear their names.

      Miss Felstead, 37, from Brookside, was jailed for six months in 2001 after being convicted of stealing £11,500 when she was a 19-year-old counter clerk. She protests her innocence, and says a glitch with the Post Office’s Horizon computer system created the shortfall.

    • Horror At The Border

      While reading it, I realized I was painfully naive about what really goes on via CBP. It’s no man’s land for privacy and other rights — in a way that’s terrifying.

      I’ve said that the TSA (which is not security by any stretch of the imagination…missing 95% of mock weapons in tests) is really about obedience training for the American public, training us to be docile as our rights are yanked from us.

      I don’t know — but I have to wonder — if CBP has long been like this or has grown more and more Soviet Secret Police, etc., since the TSA was installed in airports across the country.

    • New Policy: Do Not Post In Support of Trump or his Administration

      We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.

    • New Ban: Do Not Post In Support of Trump or his Administration

      We are banning support of Donald Trump or his administration on the RPGnet forums. This is because his public comments, policies, and the makeup of his administration are so wholly incompatible with our values that formal political neutrality is not tenable. We can be welcoming to (for example) persons of every ethnicity who want to talk about games, or we can allow support for open white supremacy. Not both. Below will be an outline of the policy and a very incomplete set of citations.

    • AOC Is Right — They’re Concentration Camps

      What, then, is the meaning of a phrase like “never again” when the institutions that proselytize it also argue that Holocaust memory cannot be sullied by the present tense? “Never again” is the common refrain that young Jews are taught, particularly by leaders at groups like the JCRC and tour guides at Yad Vashem. But by the time many of these young Jews become adolescent or twenty-something Jews, the mantra becomes a question: “Never again, for whom?”

      Rather than broaden the scope of the lesson to include injustices not committed by Nazis against Jews, Jewish institutions would rather instead police the boundaries of Holocaust memory. Jewish leaders like the JCRC, like Foxman, like Wolpe, and like many others, in giving the Republicans cover for such a putrid policy, have given their answer: Just us.

    • John Kiriakou: CIA Seeking More Impunity

      The CIA doesn’t care about a free press, though. The proposed provision in the authorization bill would save the CIA the trouble of having to explain itself to the likes of the media, to members of the congressional oversight committees, or even to the courts. And it raises far more questions than it answers. Why is such a provision necessary in the first place? What exactly is it supposed to protect? What was the precipitating event?

      There are, of course, no legitimate answers to those questions. No CIA officers have been exposed. None have been threatened. None have had their lives put in danger by unauthorized disclosures. That’s a red herring. This new provision is a power grab. It is an attempt to get a pass on crimes even before they’re committed. It’s prior restraint. It’s un-American and we have to fight it.

    • Report Says DHS Can’t Manage Internal Misconduct Because The DHS Just Doesn’t Do Anything About Internal Misconduct

      The long history of abuse and misconduct by DHS components stretches back for years. Agencies like ICE, CBP, and the TSA have never not been abusing their power to violate rights, circumvent the protections of the legal system, or just treat everyone like garbage for national security reasons.

      Why has nothing gotten better? Well, if you’re the DHS, you’ve tried nothing and you’re all out of ideas. The latest report [PDF] by the DHS Inspector General understates the issue. The title says the DHS needs to “improve” its oversight of misconduct and discipline. Start with the baseline low enough and any incremental forward motion is an improvement.

      Reading through the report, it’s apparent the DHS simply doesn’t care what abuses happen on its watch. No one in the agency — not even those specifically tasked with following up on allegations of misconduct — seems to think it’s their job to follow up on allegations of misconduct.

    • Aggression Detectors: The Unproven, Invasive Surveillance Technology Schools Are Using to Monitor Students

      Ariella Russcol specializes in drama at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, New York, and the senior’s performance on this April afternoon didn’t disappoint. While the library is normally the quietest room in the school, her ear-piercing screams sounded more like a horror movie than study hall. But they weren’t enough to set off a small microphone in the ceiling that was supposed to detect aggression.

      A few days later, at the Staples Pathways Academy in Westport, Connecticut, junior Sami D’Anna inadvertently triggered the same device with a less spooky sound — a coughing fit from a lingering chest cold. As she hacked and rasped, a message popped up on its web interface: “StressedVoice detected.”

      “There we go,” D’Anna said with amusement, looking at the screen. “There’s my coughs.”

      The students were helping ProPublica test an aggression detector that’s used in hundreds of schools, health care facilities, banks, stores and prisons worldwide, including more than 100 in the U.S. Sound Intelligence, the Dutch company that makes the software for the device, plans to open an office this year in Chicago, where its chief executive will be based.

      California-based Louroe Electronics, which has loaded the software on its microphones since 2015, advertises the devices in school safety magazines and at law enforcement conventions, and it said it has between 100 and 1,000 customers for them. Louroe’s marketing materials say the detection software enables security officers to “engage antagonistic individuals immediately, resolving the conflict before it turns into physical violence.”

    • Methodology: How We Tested an Aggression Detection Algorithm

      This companion article to our main story describes the testing and data analysis ProPublica conducted for the Sound Intelligence aggression detection algorithm on the Louroe Digifact A microphone. Here, we discuss the data and methodology used for our research, as well as the results of our testing and analysis. Those results raise concerns about the device, particularly for the school environments for which it is marketed and sold.

      We first tested the device in simulated situations to measure its performance in real-world scenarios and collected spontaneous and simulated vocalizations from high school students. We then analyzed the types of sounds that the algorithm found to be aggressive and determined, for those sounds, some common audio characteristics. We view this analysis as an initial exploration of the algorithm, using sound it would likely encounter in operation, rather than a definitive evaluation.

    • Japanese-American Internment Survivors Protest Plan to Jail Migrant Kids at WWII Prison Camp

      Democracy Now! was there when five Japanese-American elders, survivors of U.S. internment camps, engaged in civil disobedience Saturday outside the Fort Sill Army post in Oklahoma, where the Trump administration plans to indefinitely detain 1,400 immigrant and refugee children starting next month. Fort Sill was an internment camp for 700 Japanese-American men in 1942. It was one of more than 70 sites where the U.S. government incarcerated about 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, including one of 14 U.S. Army bases. President Obama first used Fort Sill in 2014 to detain migrant children seeking asylum from violence in Central America. Descendants of internment camp survivors were also present at the peaceful protest. We feature a video report from Fort Sill and speak with Mike Ishii, co-chair of Tsuru for Solidarity. Ishii was at Fort Sill Army Base Saturday and helped organize the act.

    • U.S. Moves Migrant Kids After Facility’s Poor Conditions Exposed

      COMMENTS
      The U.S. government has removed most of the children from a remote Border Patrol station in Texas following reports that more than 300 children were detained there, caring for each other with inadequate food, water and sanitation.

      Just 30 children remained at the facility near El Paso on Monday, said Rep. Veronica Escobar after her office was briefed on the situation by an official with Customs and Border Protection.

      Attorneys who visited the Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, last week said older children were trying to take care of infants and toddlers, The Associated Press first reported Thursday. They described a 4-year-old with matted hair who had gone without a shower for days, and hungry, inconsolable children struggling to soothe one another. Some had been locked for three weeks inside the facility, where 15 children were sick with the flu and another 10 were in medical quarantine.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The FCC Is Siding With Landlords and Comcast Over Tenants Who Want Broadband Choices

      In December of 2016, the city of San Francisco boldly enacted the “Occupant’s Right to Choose Communications Services Provider” ordinance (also known as Article 52) that hinders a payola scheme cooked up between big cable companies like Comcast and landlords. In just a few short years since its enactment, a great number of apartments in San Francisco have at least four options for broadband service, including affordable gigabit fiber service. Fearing that other cities would follow suit, a whole range of associations and corporations that represent landlords and the cable industry pushed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hard to block these local efforts. For a federal agency tasked with promoting competition, it shouldn’t be a close call to simply ignore these groups. But that is not what the FCC plans to do next month.

    • Robocalls Swamp Hospitals As The Trump FCC Pretends To Fix The Problem

      As we just got done explaining, the Pai FCC has been getting a lot of press for what it claims is a bold, new plan to help rein in the robocall menace by “suggesting” that carriers offer free robocalling tools by default, and recommending that they quickly adopt call authentication technology to thwart spoofing (faking the originating call number). But the Pai FCC proposal isn’t actually new, and offers absolutely no penalty for carriers that fail to comply.

      And while Ajit Pai has promised to hold carriers accountable if they don’t, there’s absolutely nothing in Pai’s tenure so far that suggests he’s actually capable of standing up to carriers. The press likes to beat around the bush on this front, but there are two major reasons this FCC hasn’t done more to thwart robocalls. One, carriers don’t want to have to pay for it, and the Pai FCC has proven to be a mindless rubber stamp to carrier interests. Two, a lot of “legitimate” telemarketing and debt collecting agencies utilize these exact same tactics, and the FCC doesn’t want to upset them either.

      What we get as a result is a government that pays a lot of lip service to the problem, but doesn’t actually do much of anything for fear of upsetting campaign contributors in the telecom and marketing industries. They’re quick to go after smaller robocall players that are easy to prosecute, but they’re terrified of holding larger, legitimate companies accountable for their own role in failing to implement technologies that could have put the problem to bed years ago. Again because while a lot of “robocalls” are perpetuated by illegal scam operations, a lot of them are perpetuated by industries using the exact same tactics (this 2018 testimony by Margot Saunders (pdf) explains this in great detail) to harass and spam consumers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Qualcomm Faces Second EU Fine as Vestager’s Last Big-Tech Target

      Qualcomm Inc. faces another European Union antitrust fine a year after being ordered to pay 997 million-euro ($1.13 billion) penalty for thwarting rival suppliers to Apple Inc., according to three people familiar with the latest case.

      The chip giant may be fined as soon as next month, said the people, who asked not to be named because the process isn’t public. That would make it the last U.S. technology firm to get a large antitrust penalty from Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

      Vestager is due to step down later this year after punishing Google with more than $9 billion in fines and ordering Apple to pay more than 14 billion euros in back taxes. She warned in May she was “definitely not done yet” with big tech as she weighs potential new probes into Amazon.com Inc., Google and Apple.

      The EU’s current Qualcomm investigation targets 3G chips for internet mobile dongles sold between 2009 and 2011. Regulators allege these were sold below cost in order to push Icera, now owned by Nvidia Corp., out of the market. The EU took the unusual move of sending an extra antitrust complaint to Qualcomm last year to bolster its arguments of a “price-cost” test it used to show how far below cost the prices were.

    • Trademarks

      • Oops I Did it Again: Time to Register those Scandalous Marks

        In an interesting free speech opinion, the Supreme Court has sided against Congress and the USPTO — finding the statutory prohibitions on registering immoral or scandalous trademarks to be an unconstitutional limit on free speech. The decision here follows Matal v. Tam (2017) where the court similarly held unconstitutional a parallel provision restricting disparaging marks.

        Justice Kagan wrote the 6-person majority opinion that was joined by Justices Thomas, Ginsberg, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh. The remaining justices agreed that the First Amendment requires the government to register immoral marks, but argued that at least some scandalous marks can be properly prohibited. In the minority viewpoint, the court should have narrowly construed that aspect of the statute to a Constitutional scope while retaining some of its effectiveness.

        This case involves the mark “FUCT” that Brunetti has been using for many years in association with his product line for wealthy rebellious skaters. However, when he decided to register the mark, the PTO rejected his application as directed toward immoral or scandalous matter as required by the Lanham Act. Brunetti appealed.

    • Copyrights

      • This is original broadcast, says the Finnish Market Court on IPTV transmissions

        Do collecting societies have standing to sue for copyright infringement and do internet access providers commit acts of communication to the public when they give access to their customers of TV programs that are also broadcasted simultaneously free to air?

        Both these issues were at the centre of a recent judgment issued by the Finnish Market Court.

      • Copyrighting the Official Annotated Statutes: Georgia v. Public.Resource.org

        The Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the important public access case of Georgia v. PublicResource.org Inc. The case focuses on Georgia official statutory code with official annotations (the “Official Code of Georgia Annotated” or “OCGA”). OCGA includes the statutes, section titles, statutory histories, guidance from the Georgia Code Revision Commission, judicial summaries, and opinions by the State AG, for example. PublicResources.org bought a copy of the OCGA, copied it, and uploaded it to the internet so that the public could have free access to the law. Georgia then sued for copyright infringement.

        The district court held OCGA copyrightable and the 11th Circuit reversed that decision — finding that the “government edicts doctrine” prohibits copyright in this case. One difficulty with with that doctrine is that it was last discussed by the U.S. Supreme Court 130 years ago in Callaghan v. Myers, 128 U.S. 617 (1888) and Banks v. Manchester, 128 U.S. 244 (1888).

        [...]

        OCGA is published by LEXIS, but its contents are particularly controlled by the Georgia General Assembly and the Commission (a division of the Assembly). The appellate panel found particularly that “the Commission exercises direct, authoritative control over the creation of the OCGA annotations at every stage of their preparation.”

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