Links 1/7/2019: KaOS 2019.07 and Mageia 7 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 2:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Microsoft asks to join private Linux security developer list

      All of which makes good sense. Besides, Levin revealed in a follow-up note to the discussion that: “the Linux usage on our cloud has surpassed Windows, as a by-product of that MSRC has started receiving security reports of issues with Linux code both from users and vendors. It’s also the case that issues that are common for Windows and Linux (like those speculative hardware bugs).” Greg Kroah-Hartman, the Linux stable branch kernel maintainer, vouched for Levin. “He is a long-time kernel developer and has been helping with the stable kernel releases for a few years now, with full write permissions to the stable kernel trees.” Indeed, Kroah-Hartman had “suggested that Microsoft join linux-distros a year or so ago when it became evident that they were becoming a Linux distro, and it is good to see that they are now doing so”.

    • Microsoft developer reveals Linux is now more used on Azure than Windows Server

      It’s now a Linux world — even at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 152 – Tavis breaks the world … again

      Josh and Kurt talk about the disclosure of security vulnerabilities. It’s still not a settled topic, we frame the conversation around a recent disclosure from Tavis Ormandy of Google Project Zero.

    • Linux Action News 112

      We’ve got the new Raspberry Pi 4 and share our thoughts, why Microsoft applied to join the linux-distros mailing list, and Ubuntu’s 32-bit future is clarified. Plus Mozilla’s big plans Firefox on Android, and the future of Steam on Linux.

    • Episode 72 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we have a massive show for you with a ton of great news! The Raspberry Pi 4 has arrived! Ubuntu Reverts their decision on 32-bit Packages, Valve. issues an Official Statement About their plans for Future Linux Support to reiterate their commitment. Valve also launched the highly anticipated and wallet frightening Steam Summer Sale. Mozilla announced a big update for their Android browser offerings with the new Firefox Preview. Mozilla also announced a new way to combat advertising trackers called, “track THIS”! Just in time for the Raspberry Pi 4, Kodi “Leia” 18.3 was Released this week. I recently was acquainted with some really cool projects called Drawpile for online collaborative drawing and RPCS3, a Linux emulator for the PlayStation 3. There’s also some potentially weird stuff that Microsoft is doing but let’s focus on the positive with a new central location for blogs from Linux Kernel Developers and a new Humble Bundle. All that and much more on Your Weekly Source for Linux GNews!

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma 5.15 and 5.16 on Kubuntu and Other Distros

        KDE Project released its latest desktop Plasma 5.15 at February and Plasma 5.16 at June this year. This article informs how to install the latest one on Kubuntu Disco 19.04 and –if you cannot upgrade– what other distros available for you preinstalled with either of both versions.

      • KDE ISO Image Writer – Windows Build

        One of the main goals of this GSoC project is to have a fully working build of KDE ISO Image Writer on Windows to allow people that want to install KDE Neon to easily write the ISO image onto a USB flash drive. In order to compile the code on Windows, I used Craft which is a cross-platform build system and package manager. With Craft, I could easily get the dependencies of KDE ISO Image Writer. I started by writing a Craft blueprint which is a Python file that describes an application (or library) and list its dependencies which allows Craft to fetch the necessary packages before compiling the application.

      • A Week in Valencia – the 2019 Plasma/Usability & Productivity Sprint

        For those that don’t know me, I’m relatively new to KDE and spend most of my time doing VDG (Visual Design Group) stuff . The Plasma/Usability & Productivity sprint in Valencia which took place from June 19th to June 26th, was my first ever KDE sprint. Although we were all working together, I was formally a part of the Usability & Productivity sprint. In this post I’m going to share what I worked on.

      • Quick update for Google Summer of Code

        So far I’ve been adventuring more and more into reading code and getting used to it, sometimes it can be quite hard, specially because I am reading code related to GBR brushes, which are not so simple, or even complex. I’ve been reading kis_imagepipe_brush.cpp and I’ve checking the classes related to it, like kis_gbr_brush.cpp and kis_brushes_pipe.h. Now, I have to recognize that using classes has been fun, but hard and confusing, sometimes I get a little frustrated, I feel like I am completely lost. The positive thing about this is that it means I am actually learning, and I am pushing my self.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Why Gnome 2 Continues to Win the Desktop Popularity Contest

        Gnome 2.0 was first released on June 26, 2002. Seventeen years and a couple of reincarnations later, it remains one of the most popular and longest-lived desktop environments for Linux. A handful of window managers, like IceWM and Ratpoison, are older than Gnome, but less widely used. Similarly, Trinity, the successor fork to KDE 3, is a year younger and much used by a few aficionados. Gnome 2, though, has a recognizable descendants in Gnome 3’s fallback mode, extensions through which it can be closely duplicated, and in Linux Mint’s Mate, which began as a fork of Gnome 2’s last release. Exactly how many use one of these descendants has never been tallied, but the total is likely enough to place them as a group among the half dozen leading desktop environments today. Looking at this continued popularity, I have to wonder why, and the possible answers suggest what a majority of users look for in a desktop environment.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • KaOS 2019.07

        As always with this rolling distribution, you will find the very latest packages for the Plasma Desktop, this includes Frameworks 5.59.0, Plasma 5.16.2 and KDE Applications 19.04.2. All built on Qt 5.13.0. Just days after Plasma 5.16.2 was announced can you already see it on this new release. Highlights of Plasma 5.16 include a completely rewritten notification system that comes with a Do Not Disturb mode, a more intelligent history which groups notifications together, and critical notifications in fullscreen apps. The Task Manager has better-organized context menus, and you can configure it to move a window from a different virtual desktop to the current one with a middle click. Wayland now features drag-and-drop between XWayland and Wayland native windows. Plasma 5.16 protects your privacy, too. When any app is recording audio, a microphone icon will appear in the System Tray warning you of the fact. You can then raise or lower the volume using the wheel on your mouse, or mute and unmute the mic with a middle click. The installer Calamares has undergone extensive changes. Among those, to avoid any legal issues, it is no longer needed to click on the NVidia license for use in non-free install mode, the License page was changed to display the needed licenses directly. The Welcome module can now do GeoIP lookups, which can help with language selections. The Partition module has additional checks for validity partition layouts.

      • KaOS 2019.07 Released For Delivering The Latest KDE Desktop Linux Experience

        The KaOS Linux distribution remains one of the best options for those wanting to check out a polished and bleeding-edge KDE desktop experience. Out today is KaOS 2019.07 as the newest stable ISO succeeding their earlier 2019.04 build. KaOS 2019.07 features KDE Plasma 5.16.2 along with the KDE Frameworks 5.59 and KDE Applications 19.04.2 while being built against the new Qt 5.13 tool-kit.

      • IPFire 2.23 – Core Update 134 in testing updated

        the kernel maintainers have added an additional patch for the TCP SACK fixes so we had to update the kernel again to 4.14.131 If you have installed core134 from testing please reinstall this of you are not already on kernel 4.14.131 by resetting /opt/pakfire/db/core/mine to 133 and run “pakfire upgrade” again.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Review: OpenMandriva Lx 4.0

        OpenMandriva is a desktop-oriented distribution that originally grew from the Mandriva family of Linux distributions. Like other community projects which rose from the ashes of Mandriva, OpenMandriva places a focus on providing a polished desktop experience that is easy to install. Unlike most other community distributions in the Mandriva family, OpenMandriva uses the Calamares installer, its own custom settings panel for managing the operating system, and builds packages using the Clang compiler instead of the GNU Compiler Collection. OpenMandriva 4.0 introduces some other changes too, including using Fedora’s DNF command line package manager and switching from using Python 2 to Python 3 by default. Python 2 is still available in the distribution’s repositories for people who need to use the older version of the language. The project’s latest release is available in two builds and both of them feature the KDE Plasma desktop and run on 64-bit (x86_64) machines. One build (called “znver1″) is for modern CPUs while the other is a generic 64-bit build. I was unable to find any precise information on what the minimal requirements were for running “znver1″ and so used the generic build for my trial. There are mentions of ARM support in the project’s release notes, but at the time of writing there is just one tarball for an ARM build on the distribution’s mirrors. Curiously, on release day, the release notes also mentioned a LXQt build of OpenMandriva and a minimal desktop build. Neither of these were available on release day and it seems the release notes are out of date (or premature). The release announcement also offers a link to torrent downloads, but there were no torrents available on the server, even a week after OpenMandriva 4.0 was launched. (The following week torrent files were made available.) All of this is to say the documentation did not match what was actually available when version 4.0 became available. The generic 64-bit build of OpenMandriva was a 2.4GB download. Booting from the project’s ISO seemed to get stuck for a minute after passing the boot menu, but eventually a splash screen appeared, followed by a welcome window. The welcome screen offers us information on package versions and displays links to on-line resources. The welcome window also offers to help us change settings, which we can probably skip until after the distribution has been installed.

      • Mageia 7 released

        The Mageia distribution has released version 7.

      • Mageia Magical (lucky?) release number 7 has arrived

        Everyone at Mageia is very happy to announce the release of Mageia 7. We all hope that the release works as well for you as it has during our testing and development. There are lots of new features, exciting updates, and new versions of your favorite programs, as well as support for very recent hardware. The release is available to download directly, or as a torrent from here. There are classical installer images for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures, as well as live DVD’s for 64-bit Plasma, GNOME, Xfce, and 32-bit Xfce.

      • Mageia 7 Sets Sail With Linux 5.1, KDE Plasma 5.15.4 Desktop

        The Mageia Linux distribution of Mandriva/Mandrake descent is kicking off July by shipping Mageia 7, two years after the debut of Mageia 6. Mageia 7 features a wealth of package upgrades compared to Mageia 6 including the Linux 5.1 kernel, KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop by default, the Mesa 19.1 open-source graphics drivers, DNF 4.2.6, Firefox 67, and many other updates.

    • Fedora

      • Ubuntu or Fedora: Which One Should You Use and Why

        Ubuntu or Fedora? What’s the difference? Which is better? Which one should you use? Read this comparison of Ubuntu and Fedora.

      • New badge, stickers, and software updates

        This post departs from the usual template, mainly because we have new artwork to show off and so will, for once, not use the logo in this post. I had only half jokingly suggested a “terminator panda” to give the badge a bit of a fun and was very pleasantly surprised when tanvi came up with a concept art! After an iteration or two, blackfile’s concept that included the logo was merged with the panda terminator to give us the final one that’s shown here.

      • Fedora 30 Release Party Managua

        For this event we did not produce means of installing Fedora on physical disks but we shared the iso images of Fedora with the attendees thanks to the Fedorator.

    • Debian Family

      • Paul Wise: FLOSS Activities June 2019

        All work was done on a volunteer basis.

      • Debian 10.0 “Buster” Release Images Are Up For Testing

        With Debian 10.0 aiming to release next weekend, the near-final release images have been uploaded with enthusiasts encouraged to test out these builds for spotting any lingering bugs. There is a call for “smoke testing” of these Debian 10.0 images for AMD64 (x86_64), i386, MIPS, MIPSEL, MIPS64EL, PPC64EL, and s390x. The Debian Developers are aiming to ensure there are no release critical bugs. In particular they are looking for more testing of their live images on bare metal PCs in both BIOS (CSM) and UEFI boot modes.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Thierry Carrez: Open source in 2019, Part 1/3

    Free software started in the 80’s by defining a number of freedoms. The author of free software has to grant users (and future contributors to the software) those freedoms. To summarize, those freedoms made you free to study, improve the software, and distribute your improvements to the public, so that ultimately everyone benefits. That was done in reaction to the apparition of “proprietary” software in a world that previously considered software a public good. When open source was defined in 1998, it focused on a more specific angle: the rights users of the software get with the software, like access to the source code, or lack of constraints on usage. This straight focus on user rights (and less confusing naming) made it much more understandable to businesses and was key to the success of open source in our industry today. Despite being more business-friendly, open source was never a “business model”. Open source, like free software before it, is just a set of freedoms and rights attached to software. Those are conveyed through software licenses and using copyright law as their enforcement mechanism. Publishing software under a F/OSS license may be a component of a business model, but if is the only one, then you have a problem.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice monthly recap: June 2019
    • LibreOffice Appliances project (GSoC 2019): Report 5.2

      So I managed to sort out the blog not building. The problem was a case of incorrect syntax in the _config.yml on this site.

      [...] >

      So I’m making progress with interfacing with LibreOffice, I can now start and run slideshows, which is what the project is about at its core. I’ll update with a screenshot/ photos of the project running on my Raspberry Pi as soon as possible.


    • GNU Guile 2.2.6 released
      We are delighted to announce GNU Guile release 2.2.6, the sixth bug-fix
      release in the 2.2 stable release series.  See the NEWS excerpt that
      follows for full details.
                                   *  *  *
      Guile is an implementation of the Scheme programming language.
      The Guile web page is located at https://gnu.org/software/guile/, and
      among other things, it contains a copy of the Guile manual and pointers
      to more resources.
      Guile can run interactively, as a script interpreter, and as a Scheme
      compiler to VM bytecode.  It is also packaged as a library so that
      applications can easily incorporate a complete Scheme interpreter/VM.
      An application can use Guile as an extension language, a clean and
      powerful configuration language, or as multi-purpose "glue" to connect
      primitives provided by the application.  It is easy to call Scheme code
      from C code and vice versa.  Applications can add new functions, data
      types, control structures, and even syntax to Guile, to create a
      domain-specific language tailored to the task at hand.
      Guile implements many common Scheme standards, including R5RS, R6RS, and
      a number of SRFIs.  In addition, Guile includes its own module system,
      full access to POSIX system calls, networking support, multiple threads,
      dynamic linking, a foreign function call interface, and powerful string
      Guile 2.2.6 can be installed in parallel with Guile 2.0.x; see
    • GNU Guile 2.2.6 released
    • GNU Rush Version 2.0

      Version 2.0 is available for download from GNU and Puszcza archives. This release features a complete rewrite of the configuration support. It introduces a new configuration file syntax that offers a large set of control structures and transformation instructions for handling arbitrary requests. Please see the documentation for details.

    • GNU Rush 2.0 Released For Restricted User Shell

      GNU Rush 2.0 is out today as the latest major update to this restricted user shell that allows administrators greater control over the command line support exposed to users as well as system resource control and running remote programs within a chroot.

    • GNU World Order 13×27

      Listener feedback, and a short review of GNOME 3.

  • Programming/Development

    • Python 3 GUI: wxPython 4 Tutorial – Urllib & JSON Example

      In this tutorial, we’ll learn to build a Python 3 GUI app from scratch using wxPython and Urllib. We’ll be consuming a third-party news REST API available from newsapi.org which provides breaking news headlines, and allows you to search for articles from over 30,000 news sources and blogs worldwide. We’ll use Urllib for sending HTTP requests to the REST API and the json module to parse the response.

    • Announcing git-cinnabar 0.5.2

      Git-cinnabar is a git remote helper to interact with mercurial repositories. It allows to clone, pull and push from/to mercurial remote repositories, using git.

    • Vim and Ctags

      Ctags is a very useful tool to navigate any source code of the programming language. Identifiers, methods, classes, etc. from the source code are parsed by using ctags and saved the index in a tag file. Each tag is stored in each line. Ctags is supported by many programming languages. This tool helps the user to search any method or function block to find out how it works. It is very useful to search for any variable in the large project. How ctags can be installed and used with vim editor for navigating the source code of any programming language on Ubuntu are shown in this tutorial.

    • Vim and git

      Vim is a very useful and helpful editor for creating and editing different types of files more efficiently. Many new features are added in this editor that makes it a powerful editor. Many plugins are developed by many coders for this editor to increase and configure its core functionalities. Some of them are Pathogen, Syntastic, indent guides, Fugitive, Git Gutter, etc. Git is a distributed version control system (DVCS) that helps the developers to manage the modified source codes over time. It is totally free to use. Using git command, the track changes and the revision history of the source codes can be easily traced. Git command works in the command line interface. The vim plugin named fugitive plugin is developed by Tim pope which is used to work with the git tool without terminating the editor. So, vim and git can work together by using the fugitive plugin. How you can install and use this plugin for vim is shown in this tutorial.

    • Vim for Python

      The improved version of vi editor is Vim that can be used for creating or editing source codes of different types of programming or scripting languages. It is a configurable text editor and works faster than other command-based text editors. It can also work with various plugins and vimscript. This editor can be configured for creating a development environment for python programming. Python is a very popular programming language now and used for developing different types of applications. The coder can write python code on vim editor very easily and fast if the editor is configured properly for writing python programming. How you can add setting and install vim plugins for creating python IDE is shown in this tutorial.

    • How to use to infrastructure as code

      My previous article about setting up a homelab described many options for building a personal lab to learn new technology. Regardless of whichever solution you choose, as your servers and applications grow, it will become harder and harder to maintain and keep track of them if you don’t establish control. To avoid this, it’s essential to treat your infrastructure as code. This article is about infrastructure as code (IaC) best practices and includes a sample project automating the deployment of two virtual machines (VMs) and installing Keepalived and Nginx while implementing these practices. You can find all the code for this project on GitHub.

    • PyDev of the Week: Scott Shawcroft

      This week we welcome Scott Shawcroft (@tannewt) as our PyDev of the Week! Scott is the lead developer of CircuitPython, a variant of the Python programming language made for microcontrollers. If you’d like to see what else Scott is up to, his website is a good place to start. Let’s take a few moments to get to know Scott better!

    • Django security releases issued: 2.2.3, 2.1.10 and 1.11.22

      In accordance with our security release policy, the Django team is issuing Django 1.11.22, Django 2.1.10, and Django 2.2.3. These releases addresses the security issues detailed below. We encourage all users of Django to upgrade as soon as possible. Thanks Gavin Wahl for reporting this issue.

    • Handling multipart/form-data natively in Python

      RFC7578 (who obsoletes RFC2388) defines the multipart/form-data type that is usually transported over HTTP when users submit forms on your Web page. Nowadays, it tends to be replaced by JSON encoded payloads; nevertheless, it is still widely used. While you could decode an HTTP body request made with JSON natively with Python — thanks to the json module — there is no such way to do that with multipart/form-data. That’s something barely understandable considering how old the format is. There is a wide variety of way available to encode and decode this format. Libraries such as requests support this natively without making you notice, and the same goes for the majority of Web server frameworks such as Django or Flask. However, in certain circumstances, you might be on your own to encode or decode this format, and it might not be an option to pull (significant) dependencies.

    • Get modular with Python functions

      Are you confused by fancy programming terms like functions, classes, methods, libraries, and modules? Do you struggle with the scope of variables? Whether you’re a self-taught programmer or a formally trained code monkey, the modularity of code can be confusing. But classes and libraries encourage modular code, and modular code can mean building up a collection of multipurpose code blocks that you can use across many projects to reduce your coding workload. In other words, if you follow along with this article’s study of Python functions, you’ll find ways to work smarter, and working smarter means working less. This article assumes enough Python familiarity to write and run a simple script. If you haven’t used Python, read my intro to Python article first.


  • Science

    • At 100, Gaia Faces its Biggest Challenges

      James Lovelock theorized Gaia while working for NASA in the 1960s when he was hired to determine if there was “life on Mars.” Gaia may be younger but James Lovelock, Mr. Gaia himself, turns 100 on his upcoming birthday, July 26th. For over 50 years, he has been Britain’s leading independent scientist. His independence from a formal relationship with an educational institution or governmental agency gives him a unique perspective. He’s one of the few scientists without an axe to grind, and of great interest, he’s been observing the scene for 100 years. He’s a living treasure trove of scientific knowledge whose reputation, at one point in time, withstood sharp criticism by the scientific community. Today, he’s a proven genius. His Gaia hypothesis, which contends that the earth is a single, self-regulating organism, is now accepted as a founding principle of most climate science. His theory proposes that the atmosphere, oceans, rocks, soil and all living things constitute a self-regulating system that maintains favorable conditions for life.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Arkansas Politicians Continue to Push Abortion out of Reach. So We Sued. Again.

      As long as Arkansas politicians keep passing unconstitutional laws, the ACLU will keep taking them to court. Across the country, extremist politicians emboldened by President Trump’s agenda have passed a tsunami of abortion bans and restrictions, each one more cruel and outlandish than the last. Elected officials in Arkansas have the shameful distinction of having been at the forefront of this nationwide crusade to criminalize abortion, and the ACLU has gone to court again and again to block these laws from taking effect. This year, Arkansas politicians sank to a new low with a trifecta of unconstitutional laws designed to eliminate access to safe and legal abortion in Arkansas — and once again, we’re taking them to court. The ACLU, the ACLU of Arkansas, and Planned Parenthood are suing on behalf of Little Rock Family Planning Services, Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and two physician providers to stop these laws from taking effect. Instead of taking steps to improve health care for Arkansas families, Arkansas legislators are again targeting abortion providers with medically unnecessary restrictions intended to close clinics and push abortion even further out of reach. In the state with the third highest maternal mortality rate in the country, it is shameful that Arkansas politicians are spending their time passing blatantly unconstitutional laws masquerading as an attempt to protect people’s health. The laws do nothing to improve the safety of abortion (which is already incredibly safe) and instead will decimate the ability of people to get care in a state that is already down to only three abortion providers. Unfortunately, Arkansas is not alone in attempting to shut down clinics in order to prevent people from getting the care they need. Our neighbor, Missouri, is down to just one clinic, and the state is using bogus restrictions to shut it down. And five other states have only one clinic providing abortion left.

    • How Capitalist Globalization Forecloses on Health Systems

      The groundbreaking 1970 book American Health Empire reported that health care conglomerates had jelled into a profit-making system notable for inflicting chaos on sick people. Someday, the authors wrote, health-care reformers would be facing off against “the empire at its core institutions.” For authors contributing to the recent Monthly Review Press book Health Care Under the Knife, that someday is now. Former academician and public health physician Howard Waitzkin, more recently a medical practitioner, edited the multi-author volume and contributed several essays of his own. The book includes essays from Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, co-founders and leaders of Physicians for a National Health Program, a prominent advocacy group on behalf of universal health care in the United States. They survey the political context of health care reform efforts in the United States and comment on the Affordable Care Act, enacted in 2010. The title evokes an image of a patient undergoing surgery for the sake of a decisive cure, except that the patient in question is our diseased health care system. The subtitle is “Moving beyond Capitalism for Our Health, which implies that the offending pathology, capitalism, was somehow removed or eradicated. Radical political change is surely on the agenda, if not actual surgery. This book is about antagonism between the neoliberal form of capitalism and decent health care. On display are capitalist-induced perversions that impinge on the delivery of care, interactions among the various health-care players, and the ideals and presumed mission of health workers. Corporations, institutions, and the state do the dirty work, mainly in the United States, but elsewhere too. A record emerges demonstrating that health care for all won’t happen under advanced capitalism.

    • Georgia Tried to Ban Abortion, So We Sued.

      Alabama. Arkansas. Kentucky. Ohio. And today, Georgia. That’s the list of states where the ACLU has had to go to court over the last few months to challenge laws banning abortion. The Georgia law bans abortion at six weeks of pregnancy and is in clear violation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. In fact, that is the whole point of the law. Georgia politicians, including Governor Brian Kemp, emboldened by President Trump’s appointment of two new justices to the Supreme Court, think this is their chance to get the court to take away the constitutional right to abortion altogether. But we aren’t going back. Together, with a broad coalition of health care providers and advocates, including SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights, we’ve asked the court to block the law before it ever goes into effect. It’s important to know that the law is not in effect now. Abortion is still legal in Georgia and we intend to keep it that way. Taking away a person’s ability to get an abortion is inexcusable and unconstitutional. But Georgia lawmakers weren’t content to stop there. The law they passed also threatens access to a vast range of routine treatments that people need when they are pregnant. For example, a physician could face criminal prosecution for prescribing antibiotics that accidentally harm an embryo or fetus. Such a threat can only drive doctors away from treating pregnant Georgians.

    • Warren’s Medicare for All Moment Was Critical

      The most important moment in last night’s Democratic debate wasn’t a word or a phrase. It was the raising of Elizabeth Warren’s hand. When moderators asked who on stage would be willing to abolish the health insurance industry and enact Medicare for All her hand shot up, with only Bill de Blasio joining her. This was not a guaranteed activity. Of the many plans Warren has issued during the campaign, Medicare for All is not one of them, likely because she’s been a co-sponsor of Bernie Sanders’s bill in the Senate since 2017 (she’s also offered support for a state-level single-payer push in Massachusetts). But progressive critics—mostly Sanders supporters—have lobbed criticism at her for a few town hall moments where she has expressed that there are “many paths” to universal health care. This was not her stance tonight.

    • The Nonprofit Hospital That Makes Millions, Owns a Collection Agency and Relentlessly Sues the Poor

      In July 2007, Carrie Barrett went to the emergency room at Methodist University Hospital, complaining of shortness of breath and tightness in her chest. Her leg was swollen, she’d later recall, and her toes were turning black. Given her family history, high blood pressure and newly diagnosed congestive heart failure, doctors performed a heart catheterization, threading a long tube through her groin and into her heart. Her share of the two-night stay: $12,109. Barrett, who has never made more than $12 an hour, doesn’t remember getting any notices to pay from the hospital. But in 2010, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare sued her for the unpaid medical bills, plus attorney’s fees and court costs. Since then, the nonprofit hospital system affiliated with the United Methodist Church has doggedly pursued her, adding interest to the debt seven times and garnishing money from her paycheck on 15 occasions. Barrett, 63, now owes about $33,000, more than twice what she earned last year, according to her tax return.

    • Supreme Court Won’t Revive Alabama Ban on Abortion Procedure

      The Supreme Court won’t revive Alabama’s ban on the most commonly used procedure in second-trimester abortions. The measure has been blocked by lower courts. The justices on Friday rejected the state’s appeal in which it sought to enforce a law enacted in 2016 that bans the abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall calls the procedure “dismemberment abortion.” Courts have blocked similar laws in Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. Court records show 93% of abortions in Alabama occur before 15 weeks of pregnancy. For the 7% of abortions that occur later, almost all are by dilation and evacuation.

    • EPA Urged to Put Public Health Over Monsanto Profits by Banning Cancer-Linked Glyphosate

      As the Environmental Protection Agency moves to greenlight the continued use of glyphosate in the United States for another 15 years, a coalition of environmental and consumer advocacy groups on Wednesday delivered nearly 150,000 petitions urging the agency to ban the cancer-linked herbicide. The coalition’s call comes ahead of the July 5 deadline for public comment on the EPA’s interim registration review of glyphosate, which says the herbicide poses no health risks to humans.

    • Equity Must Be at the Heart of Marijuana Legalization

      With an equity-centered bill, Illinois just became the 11th state to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older.

    • Life Expectancy Falters in the UK: Slow Death but Fast Profits for the Agrochemical Sector

      A special report in the Observer newspaper in the UK on 23 June 2019 asked the question: Why is life expectancy faltering? The piece noted that for the first time in 100 years, Britons are dying earlier. The UK now has the worst health trends in Western Europe. Aside from the figures for the elderly and the deprived, there has also been a worrying change in infant mortality rates. Since 2014, the rate has increased every year: the figure for 2017 is significantly higher than the one in 2014. To explain this increase in infant mortality, certain experts blame it on ‘austerity’, fewer midwives, an overstrained ambulance service, general deterioration of hospitals, greater poverty among pregnant women and cuts that mean there are fewer health visitors for patients in need. While all these explanations may be valid, according to environmental campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason, there is something the mainstream narrative is avoiding. She says: “We are being poisoned by weedkiller and other pesticides in our food and weedkiller sprayed indiscriminately on our communities. The media remain silent.”

    • Low-Wage Workers Are Being Sued for Unpaid Medical Bills by a Nonprofit Christian Hospital That Employs Them

      This year, a Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare housekeeper left her job just three hours into her shift and caught a bus to Shelby County General Sessions Court. Wearing her black and gray uniform, she had a different kind of appointment with her employer: The hospital was suing her for unpaid medical bills. In 2017, the nonprofit hospital system based in Memphis sued the woman for the cost of hospital stays to treat chronic abdominal pain she experienced before the hospital hired her. She now owes Methodist more than $23,000, including around $5,800 in attorney’s fees.

  • Security

    • Poison certs imperils GnuPG checking of Linux software [Ed: The corporate media calls everything "Linux" when there's a chance to make it sound bad by association]

      GnuPG is used to verify downloaded software packages for Linux-based operating systems, and attackers could attempt to poison a vendor’s public certificate and upload it to the keyserver network. Doing so would make GnuPG choke, making it impossible to verify the authenticity of downloaded packages. Robert Hansen (rjh) who maintains the GnuPG frequently asked questions list and is the unofficial crisis communicator for the project said that unknown attackers had exploited a defect in the OpenPG protocol in order to poison his and high-profile contributor Daniel Kahn Gillmor’s (dkg) certificates.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Jonas Meurer: debian lts report 2019.06

      DLA 1817-1: Uninitialized read in XBM support of libgd2. Related CVE: CVE-2019-11038. Work on sqlite3 security update: Spent quite some time on working on two CVEs (CVE-2019-8457 and CVE-2019-5827) that are not easy to fix. Suggested to ignore CVE-2019-8457 and prepared packages that contain a (likely incomplete) fix for CVE-2019-5827. DLA 1837-1: Several vulnerabilities in the rdesktop RDP client. DLA 1837-2: Regression update for the 1.8.6-0+deb8u1 rdesktop upload.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Navy SEAL Court-Martial Witness Could Face Perjury Charges

      A Navy SEAL witness could face a perjury charge after testifying that he — and not Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher— had killed a young Islamic State prisoner in Iraq, according to an email sent to a lawyer for the witness. Officials are considering charging Special Operator First Class Corey Scott with lying under oath during Gallagher’s court-martial, said the email sent Tuesday by Navy Capt. Donald King, a lawyer for the senior commander who convened the war crimes proceedings. Scott “testified directly contrary to previous official statements — thus exposing him to prosecution,” the email said. Scott’s lawyer, Brian Ferguson, forwarded King’s email to The Associated Press, but did not immediately comment on its contents.

    • Fool Me Twice

      Yogi Berra experienced “deja vu, all over again”. Marx revised Hegel, saying history repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce. Bush the Lesser, riffing on who to blame for being fooled, got lost in his trope. Now unctuous, obtuse Pompeo is selling war on Iran, bringing all three to mind. You’d heard the one about the Gulf of Tonkin LBJ pitched? And the one about Iraqi WMD Step’nfetchit Powell sold, ominously shaking a vial of foot powder? And Obama’s somber rap about “Assad gassing his own people”? The question now is whether the American Public will do Charlie Brown to Lucy’s football trick again? Sophisticated tech makes it harder for psychos in power to just lie. They need plausible visuals to back their bullshit but, used to relying on lies alone, they’re not clear on the concept. In the silly video of Iran’s alleged tanker sabotage, a blurred, ghostly boat bears men said to be removing a dud mine from a tanker. Did they place it, try to set it off, fail, and hurry back? The tanker crew–drugged or dead?–didn’t hear them coming? At work..? A stealth boat, eh? The story is so patently phony it sinks itself. It would be comic if our Imperial Bozos were not fixated on provoking war with a country that, should an attack come, is able and sworn to inflict grievous damage on its attacker. Pompeo and Bolton are not concerned. The War Machine needs them and what they do because it needs its wars. America, under geopolitically obtuse presidents, has done economic and military violence to many poor, vulnerable nations. Profitability has solidified this as its only tactic, and even defeats–Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria–are gagged down without altering it. The reason is plain: America is not a country in the sense of a polity organized to benefit a people; it’s a vast War Machine built to gorge itself on the bounty of its citizenry. Outcomes be damned: all that matters is the continuity of its outrageous profit. This fact–impossible for most Americans to accept–makes them secondary victims of Empire’s depredations. What is be done? Nothing will induce a fuddled people to unplug from the vast propaganda web of entertainment, “news”, and social media to which they’re addicted, so they will continue to be rendered confused, inert, lost, indefinitely.

    • The U.S.-Iran Imbroglio: Dangerous Lessons To Be Learned

      The bizarre decisions and events over a 48-hour period between the United States and Iran outlined the dangerous times that we are confronting and point to Donald Trump as the most dangerous aspect of all. Iran is a problem for U.S. interests, but not a genuine threat. The same cannot be said for Trump whose instability and unpredictability threaten not only the United States but the entire global community. The fact that his key advisers—National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—are bellicose and even irrational worsens the situation. The absence of a genuine national security process and the decline of U.S. diplomacy contributes to a situation that finds the Department of Defense and the Pentagon, without adult or even civilian supervision, playing an outsized role. Ironically, pundits and politicians are ruing the current absence of the “adults in the room,” all general officers, who supplied a measure of stability for most of Trump’s first two years in the White House. Generals Jim Mattis, H.R. McMaster, and John Kelly brought some moderating influence to Trump’s risky and erratic behavior dealing with Syria, Russia, and the issue of immigration, respectively, during their time as secretary of defense, national security advisor, and chief of staff. Instead of Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly, we have a troika of Bolton, Pompeo, and CIA director Gina Haspel who strongly advocated the use of military force. This is particularly disconcerting in the case of Haspel, who does not head a policy organization and who should never be advocating policy. Haspel should not have been confirmed as a CIA director in the first place because of her active role in conducting torture and abuse, running a notorious secret prison, and drafting the cable that ordered the destruction of the 92 torture tapes. Pompeo, moreover, favors the return of torture as a means of “gathering vital intelligence.”

    • Iranian Families Are Caught in the Crossfire as Trump Flirts With War

      The first thing “Arvin Adams” does every morning is check the newsfeed on Google to see if the United States has bombed Iran. Adams (who prefers to use a pseudonym to protect his loved ones) is an Iranian American born in the U.S., but his fiancée and several members of his family live in Iran. Every day he worries they could be “blown up” if escalating tensions between the Trump administration and Tehran boil over into war. Adams said he is particularly concerned about his grandmother and her family living near the Strait of Hormuz, where the U.S. has accused Iran of sabotaging oil tankers and Iranian forces shot down an unmanned U.S. drone flying in Iranian airspace last week. President Trump approved a potentially deadly airstrike in retaliation for the downed drone but called off the strike in a last-minute decision Thursday evening. The move appeared to de-escalate tensions at first, but a fresh round of sanctions and the latest war of words between Trump and Iranian leaders has dashed hopes for a diplomatic solution for the time being. Military conflict remains a distinct possibility. Adams, a U.S. citizen in his late 20s, says he shouldn’t have to worry “every single day” about his own family becoming collateral damage of U.S. foreign policy. “It’s a situation where I feel like we are being robbed of our own basic dignity,” Adams told Truthout in an interview. “Especially my generation. We didn’t ask for the Islamic Republic, nor did we ask for this bigotry we are seeing from this current administration [in the U.S.].” Adams lives in a major city, works a job in finance and has plans to marry his fiancé. However, his life has been turned upside down by the policies of the Trump administration and its campaign of “maximum pressure” against the Iranian government, which has replaced a nuclear peace deal forged by President Obama. While the latest news coverage has focused on new sanctions against Iran’s leaders, Adams’s story is a stark reminder that real people are caught between the sparring governments, both at home and abroad.

    • The Honorable Course in Iran Starts With Ending Sanctions

      Last week, Elham Pourtaher, an Iranian graduate student at the State University of New York in Albany, wrote about how U.S. policies cause suffering and trauma far beyond U.S. borders. Her diabetic father, for example, is in danger of losing access to medicines because sanctions against Iranian banks make it nearly impossible to pay for imported goods, including medicine and food. Shortages could lead to thousands of deaths. Pourtaher described “the collective sense of fear caused by the increased sanctions.” President Trump expressed concern that 150 people could be killed if U.S. airstrikes against Iran had been carried out last week. We must ask how many people could die because of economic warfare against Iran. The economic war cripples Iran’s economy and afflicts the most vulnerable Iranian people — the sick, the poor, the elderly and the children. In more than seventy visits to Iraq from 1991 to 2003, Voices in the Wilderness, a team of peace activists I was part of, reported on deteriorating conditions as people struggled to find desperately needed goods, including medicines and medical relief supplies. By 1996, U.N. officials reported that the economic sanctions directly contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. Wasting away from curable diseases, thousands of children who entered pediatrics wards never left. In Baghdad, Mosul, Babylon, Amara, Nasiriyah, and Basra, we visited wards that became death row for infants. Those children were by no means criminal. They couldn’t possibly have been held accountable for the actions of Saddam Hussein and the ruthless dictatorship ruling Iraq. Their plight seldom appeared in U.S. news reports about Iraq. But they were brutally and lethally punished, ostensibly because Iraq might possess weapons of mass destruction.

    • The Democratic Party Can’t Escape Its Own Militarism

      The whole thing reeks of faux progressivism and policy minimalism. Consider it a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. I’m thinking, of course, about Beto O’Rourke’s recently proposed “war tax” on nonmilitary families. O’Rourke, the former punk rocker who dares to sport T-shirts at public appearances, is billed as cutting-edge cool—a millennial hipster from once solid-red Texas. To be fair, some of the former Texas congressman-turned-presidential-hopeful’s ideas on foreign policy ain’t half bad: emergency mental health care for veterans, better benefits for vets with “bad-paper” discharges and, most importantly, an end to the war in Afghanistan. But then his ideas get a bit quirky and far less bold. O’Rourke’s big-ticket item is his promise to form a veterans trust fund, the proceeds for which will be generated by modest taxes levied upon families without an immediate member in the U.S. military. We’re supposed to believe that this gimmick will somehow rein in the American military machine and teach all those nonmilitary-serving freeloaders a lesson or two about acceding to the deployment of other folks’ kids to our nation’s imperial conflicts. Not so long ago, I was taken with the idea of a war tax myself. I still believe Americans—especially the superrich—should be required to “pay-as-they-go” for nonessential wars of choice. It would sure beat the current alternative of throwing trillions on the national credit card without any real intention of paying these debts off.

    • G-20 Leaders Clash Over Once-Settled Values

      World leaders attending a Group of 20 summit in Japan that began Friday are clashing over values that have served for decades as the foundation of their cooperation as they face calls to fend off threats to economic growth. “A free and open economy is the basis for peace and prosperity,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his counterparts in opening the two-day G-20 meeting, which comes as leaders grapple with profound tensions over trade, globalization and the collapsing nuclear deal with Iran.

    • Why Is Booker Parroting Trump On Iran?

      Nine out of ten Democrats on the debate stage last night announced that they favor returning to the Iran nuclear deal, which should be commended. Trump’s efforts to kill the deal just brought the United States to the edge of a disastrous war. After staying in the deal for little benefit for over a year, Iran has begun to fray the edges of the nuclear accord. Moreover, the administration’s strategy is likely to get more extreme as National Security Advisor John Bolton and other hawks search for a pretext to enact their plans for war. Which is why it was so strange that Cory Booker refused to raise his hand and commit to returning to the nuclear deal. With Trump eroding American credibility by the day, getting back into the nuclear deal would help save the United States from the unmitigated disaster of Trump’s approach.

    • Trump Admin. Ratchets Up Tensions With Threat to Sanction Any Nation That Imports Iranian Oil

      President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Iran further stoked tensions between Iran and the U.S. on Friday when he said the United States will sanction any country that imports Iranian crude oil. Envoy Brian Hook, in his comments to reporters in London, said that there were no exemptions, reiterating a threat the Trump administration made two months earlier. “We will sanction any imports of Iranian crude oil,” Hook said, according to Reuters. “There are right now no oil waivers in place,” said Hook, who added the administration intends to “sanction any illicit purchases of Iranian crude oil.” Hook’s comments came four days after the Trump administration announced new economic sanctions against Iran and one day after Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told Trump on Twitter that “Sanctions aren’t [an] alternative to war; they ARE war.” “Negotiations and threats are mutually exclusive,” Zarif added. Special envoy Hook’s new statements came as representatives to the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear accord—the U.S. ditched it last year—met in the Austrian capital.

    • Iraqi President: US Has No Right to Use Iraq as ‘Staging Post’ for Attack on Iran

      Iraqi President Barham Salih said Tuesday that the United States has no right to use his country as a launchpad for a strike against Iran. Salih, in his interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, also talked about the adverse impacts his own country has felt as a result of U.S. imposed sanctions, stressed the need to prevent another war, and warned that tearing up the nuclear deal entirely “could be disastrous for the entire neighborhood as a whole.”

    • On Iran, Its Trump vs. Trump

      The ongoing conflict with Iran showcases all the reasons why Donald Trump remains a hit with his base. First of all, the guy tells a ripping yarn. While critics of U.S. policy drone on about complex agreements with opaque acronyms, Trump boils down the problem to a TV episode with a ticking clock. The bad guys shot down a U.S. drone. The good guys prepare to strike back. But the greatest president of all decides at the last moment — with only ten minutes to spare — to take his finger off the trigger and save the day. Or, at least, that’s how The Donald tells it. Trump also presents himself as all things to all people. He threatened Iran with war. But he also promised to restart negotiations with the country. He opposed the nuclear agreement that the Obama administration, among others, patiently negotiated. But he offered (however implausibly) to put a better one in its place. He decided to rescind his authorization of airstrikes on Iranian infrastructure. But he also went ahead with cyberattacks and additional economic sanctions, all of which add up to a war with Iran in everything but name. What should ordinarily be a defect — Trump’s rapid oscillation in positions — becomes a virtue in this era of instantaneous news. The country hangs on the man’s every tweet. Which Trump will emerge the winner in the battle among the president’s many avatars: Killer Trump, Dealmaker Trump, Madman Trump, Joker Trump? The man keeps you guessing, which is an indispensable element in this age of infotainment.

    • Childish Diplomacy: Donald Trump’s New Play Against Iran

      Diplomacy has been seen historically as a practitioner’s art, nurtured in schools of learning, tested and tried in the boardrooms of mild mannered summitry. Klemens von Metternich and Otto von Bismarck practiced it with varying degrees of ruthlessness and skill; the man who thought himself a modern incarnation of the Austrian statesman, Henry Kissinger, dedicated a text to the subject which has become the force-fed reading of many a modern student of international affairs. (Kissinger, for his part, was a pygmy shadow of his hero-worshipped subject.) The Trump administration is supplying another version: diplomacy, not as subtle art but as childish outrage and pressings, brinkmanship teasingly encouraging of war. The result of the latest round of bile-filled spats between Iran and the United States is that diplomacy has ceased to exist, becoming a theatrical show demanding the lowest admission fees. On Monday, Washington announced that another round (how many will they be?) of sanctions would be imposed. They are of a very specific, personal nature, though their effect is one of insult rather than tangible effect. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, deemed by Trump “ultimately responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime”, is the crowning glory of the list, as are his appointments and those in his office. An important aspect of the sanctioning lies in the allegation that the Ayatollah has access to a vast fund that showers largesse upon the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps.

    • Don’t Leave Nukes on the Shelf. Use Them!

      On June 20, the London Guardian ran a curious headline: “Nuclear Weapons: Experts Alarmed by New Pentagon ‘War-Fighting Doctrine.” Last week, a report from the Joint Chiefs of Staff was briefly available to the public on the Pentagon’s website. Titled “Nuclear Operations,” the report describes nuclear war in such upbeat terms that you will almost look forward to it. Before it was yanked, the report was captured and is available on the website of the Federation of American Scientists. A Pentagon spokesman told the Guardian that the report had been deleted because of a decision that the publication should be available “for official use only.” Translation: the public got to see the report because somebody in the Pentagon goofed. According to the Guardian: “Arms control experts say [the report] marks a shift in US military thinking towards the idea of fighting and winning a nuclear war.” No, it doesn’t. Although the US has not used nuclear weapons since its bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, it has come close several times. General Douglas MacArthur, the UN commander during the Korean War, asked for atomic bombs a mere two weeks into the war. Later, MacArthur asked President Truman for fifty or so atomic bombs to be dropped on the border between North Korea and China to create an impassable cordon unsanitaire.

    • LGBTQ Activists Demand an End to the Pinkwashing of Militarism

      Fifty years ago, the Stonewall uprising — whose leaders prominently included Black trans women and trans women of color — took the fight for LGBTQ liberation to the next level. It was a rebellion against police violence and the state-sanctioned oppression of LGBTQ people. This type of state-sanctioned oppression includes imperialism and war all over the world, which is why many LGBTQ activists are also challenging the actions of the U.S. military. Given this history, on the anniversary of Stonewall, it’s worth looking at whether the focus of many mainstream LGBTQ organizations matches the movement’s grassroots base. In 2017, Donald Trump deemed trans people “unfit” to serve in the military and disruptive to military service, and banned their enrollment, causing an uproar across the nation. Securing housing, work and livelihoods are major factors that motivate trans people to enlist. Yet for all recruits, and disproportionately for trans people, the military is fraught with dangers, including sexual assault. A recent study by the Society for Social Work and Research found that trans service members were 29 percent more likely to report being sexually assaulted than straight and cis personnel. Available data show that the armed services are the largest employer of trans people. Trans service members have spoken out about their relationships to the military and how Trump’s ban has made them more vulnerable. Some have been extolling countries that include trans people in the military. This scenario, in which trans people are enlisting in a hostile and deadly institution as a means of survival, is further complicated by the colonial role American militarism has played on the global stage. Activists opposing the ban tend to skirt discussing the fact that U.S. warfare more often than not is incredibly racialized. Queer, gender-nonconforming and trans people of color are often targeted by U.S. state violence — both domestically, via the police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and abroad by the military. What does it mean for politicians and mainstream LGBTQ organizations to be discussing the harm done by the trans military ban without also acknowledging the harm done by the military itself, which includes harm to trans people? Acknowledging that many trans people join the military for economic reasons, what does it mean for politicians to focus on the trans military ban without also recognizing the ways in which the U.S. keeps trans people in poverty, both at home and in the countries that its military targets?

    • NRA Breaks With Its PR firm, Lobbyist and TV Station

      Infighting at the National Rifle Association exploded Wednesday, when the powerful association severed ties with its longtime public relations firm, suspended operations of its fiery online TV station and lost its top lobbyist. The latest turmoil emerged just a year before the critical 2020 presidential elections when the NRA’s ability to influence the outcome could decide the fate of gun rights. Lobbyist Chris Cox, long viewed as the likely successor to longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre, was placed on administrative leave about a week ago by the NRA, which claimed he was part of a failed attempt to extort LaPierre and push him out.

    • James Fields, White Supremacist Who Murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Sentenced to Life in Prison

      The white supremacist who in 2017 plowed his car into a crowd of peaceful anti-racist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer was sentenced Friday to life in prison. James Fields pleaded guilty in April to 29 counts of federal hate crimes in a deal with prosecutors, who agreed to drop a charge that could have resulted in the death penalty. “In a separate case stemming from the deadly incident,” the Washington Post reported, “Fields was convicted of first-degree murder and other crimes in December by a Virginia jury that voted for a life term plus 419 years in state prison.”

    • Reverse Darwinian Selection Afflicts Trump’s Washington

      In the 1960s, at the very dawn of the New Right rebellion, William F. Buckley, Jr., declared that he would rather be governed by persons selected from the phone directory than the faculty of Harvard. Conservative egghead bashing has a long pedigree, and even Buckley, an aspiring patrician with one of the most laboriously affected accents ever heard, felt obliged to join in the populist trolling. Over the succeeding five decades, the conservative movement and its chosen vehicle, the Republican Party, have substantially achieved the goal of systematically devaluing expertise, thereby accomplishing one of their most cherished ideological goals: to prove to the American people that government doesn’t work. As I have written before, the Republican push for non-expertise got a big boost during the Gingrich speakership. It continued its long march through institutions during the riotously incompetent planning and conduct of the Iraq war under George W. Bush, and has reached ghastly perfection with Donald Trump. Just look at a few of the uniquely awful Trump personnel at the top tier: Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Stephen Miller, Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, departing Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Their unsuitability is matched by Trump appointees at lower levels.

    • Demanding End to ‘AIPAC-Created Status Quo,’ Progressive Jewish Group Pressures 2020 Democrats to Take Stand Against Israel’s Brutal Occupation

      In an effort to pressure Democratic presidential candidates to take a stand against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, the youth-led progressive Jewish advocacy group IfNotNow has launched a new campaign arm with the goal of bringing Israel’s brutal occupation “to the forefront of the 2020 elections.” As Politico reported on Saturday, IfNotNow is “training organizers in the early primary state of New Hampshire” and “plans to ‘bird-dog’ presidential candidates at public events to create viral moments and prod the Democratic Party leftward on the issue of Israel.” “In addition to pushing the candidates to adopt more progressive positions on Israel,” according to Politico, “the group said it is hoping to draw public attention to the Democratic Party’s changing attitudes on the topic and clarify candidates’ stances on particular issues.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) appears to have been the first 2020 presidential candidate confronted by IfNotNow members in New Hampshire. The group said the senator expressed support for their campaign.

    • Memories of Mohamed Morsi

      Former President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, had finished his 15-minute discourse in a courtroom, while being locked inside a sound-proofed cage. He read a poem about his love for Egypt, and then collapsed, and died. His demise sent shock-waves all over Egypt, the region and the Muslim world. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to accept the official story, claiming that the former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi “did not die, he was murdered”.

    • One Cheer for Trump on Iran

      On June 21, President Donald Trump informed the world (via tweet) that after getting US forces “cocked and loaded” to carry out strikes on Iranian targets the night before, he had canceled those strikes at the last minute rather than prospectively kill 150 people. “Not proportionate,” he wrote, “to [Iranian forces] shooting down an unmanned drone” earlier that week. Anti-interventionists (including me) cheered the move. US hawks moaned that Trump had suddenly and inexplicably gone soft by avoiding the war they want so badly. Pretty much everyone thinks the “proportionality” claim isn’t the true explanation, given Trump’s over the top predisposition on most things. But hey, I’ll take it, and I’ll thank Trump for it. Every time he avoids escalation toward outright war with the Iranians or anyone else, he’s doing the right thing and should get credit for it. As to the bigger picture, the question now is whether Trump will undo his earlier errors on US policy toward Iran instead of compounding them.

    • Correcting a Colonial Injustice: The Return of the Chagos Islands to Its Natives

      The correction of this injustice has been achieved through a long drawn fight, somewhat of a David and Goliath contest. The outcome, culminating in a spectacular opinion and vote, has a number of consequences that can impact a rules-based international order, a commitment promoted by the UN Charter which specifically seeks to ‘establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained…’. Last month, the United Nations General Assembly resoundingly voted (116 in favour to 6 objections and 56 nations abstaining), that the UK has a six-month deadline to withdraw from the Chagos Archipelago endorsing the opinion of the International Court of Justice (“the ICJ”). The ICJ delivered an opinion on 25 February this year that the process of decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when Mauritius acceded to independence and that the United Kingdom is therefore under an obligation to end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago “as rapidly as possible.” Some background to the involvement of the court is essential to understand how the loss of Chagossian people’s right to abode culminated in the General Assembly’s vote. The court was requested by the General Assembly in 2017 to respond to two questions; firstly, whether the decolonisation process of Mauritius was lawfully completed when Mauritius was granted independence in 1968; and secondly, a consideration of the consequences under international law arising from the continued administration of the Chagos Archipelago with a focus on the inability of the Mauritius government in resettling its nationals of Chagossian origin. The historical origin of the issue is located in its colonial roots. The islands had been a British colony since 1814. The British colonial administration of the time had permitted the United States to establish their military base on the islands in 1966. Prior to this arrangement, the UK government and the representatives from the colony of the Mauritius had agreed to the detachment of the Chagos Islands in return for, amongst other things, a sum of £3 million. The compensation sum came attached with a clause that state that the detachment will last to the point when the need for the facilities on the islands “disappear” (the verb was stated in its past tense in the text of the agreement), the islands should be returned to Mauritius.” Flowing from this agreement (known as the Lancaster House Agreement), a colony including the Chagos Islands was established as the British Indian Ocean Territory (“the BIOT”), which includes the Diego Garcia military base. With the establishment of the BIOT, without going into the details of the legal enactments, the current one being the BIOT (Immigration) Order 2004 – the result from the detachment of the islands from Mauritius was the prohibition of the inhabitants from entering or remaining on the islands. The Chagossian people who were displaced were resettled elsewhere, namely the United Kingdom, Mauritius, and Seychelles. In essence, the Chagossian people were deprived of their right to abode.

    • WATCH: No End in Sight (2007)

      America’s invasion of Iraq was exactly comparable to Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland, from a legal standpoint. No American ever had the legal right to step one foot on Iraqi soil. Iraq was a sovereign country, a principle that World War Two was fought to establish, costing upwards of 70 million lives. America thinks it’s above the law and has led the assault on any restraints to its exercise of force, Iraq being a most glaring example. No End In Sight says not one word about any of that. Far from it. They accept the US regime’s main argument that Saddam was a bad guy, and so somehow it was okay to invade his country. It was not. They knew it was not. That’s why they concocted phony “Weapons of Mass Destruction” lies to try and deceive the United Nations into granting Security Council approval for the attack–and their obvious lies failed. That made the entire war a breach of the UN Charter and the “Supreme International Crime,” Crimes Against the Peace.

    • Trump and Hitler: A Juxtaposition

      It is a sad day for our country when comparisons between the leader of Nazi Germany and the president of the United States are apt

    • So Who Is Reporting That Trump Sanctions Have Killed Thousands of Venezuelans?

      Also missing above is an excellent news article that Andrew Buncombe wrote for the UK Independent (4/26/19) the day after the study was released. Having followed Buncombe’s reporting (as well as his Twitter timeline) for many years, I wasn’t surprised. Aside from monitoring non-US outlets to catch important facts that are “missed” by the US media about Washington’s role in the word, readers would be well-advised to watch for individual journalists who, even within corporate media, are willing to break from the herd. Alternative outlets that covered the study (VenezuelAnalysis.com, The Canary, FAIR.org and Media Lens, for example) are obviously key to what Chomsky once called “intellectual self-defense.” And let’s not forget two of the big outlets from which we all need “intellectual self-defense”: The New York Times and the Washington Post. As I write this, a direct search on their sites turns up no mention of the study.

    • A World of Shadows

      For example, scientists recently (June 18, 2019) published a consensus statement in which they put humanity on notice about the crucial role of microorganisms in regulating climate change. These one-cell organisms are essential to life. They are also affecting climate change. Marine phytoplankton fixes as much carbon dioxide as terrestrial plants. This means that human activities that disrupt and diminish marine microbial photosynthesis, say pollution of the oceans, disturb the global carbon cycle and, therefore, exacerbate global warming. On the other hand, microorganisms are responsible for greenhouse gases in a big way. The key to balancing these positive and adverse effects of microorganisms is for humans to abandon the Mall: get their energy from the Sun, and raise their food the way their grandparents did. In other words, diminishing and eliminating our anthropogenic footprint on the global environment will make the beneficial effects of microorganisms all that much more sustainable in adapting to and diminishing the consequences of global warming.

    • The Failed Venezuelan Coup and the Decline of US Hegemony

      On June 19, The Washington Post reported that Trump has apparently lost interest in the Venezuela coup attempt and taken to attacking members of his own administration for their failure to oust the government of President Nicolas Maduro. The article quotes anonymous administration officials who claim that Trump believes John Bolton and other officials working on the Venezuela coup “got played” by both Venezuelan coup leaders and members of the Maduro government. Trump is said to have “chewed them out” at an angry meeting about the failure to topple Maduro. Apparently, Trump believed that doing so would be “low hanging fruit” and an easy win that he could “tout as a major foreign policy victory,”. This should come as no surprise, however. As Counterpunch reported at the time, the coup attempt was already stalling by late February – just a month after it had first been launched. Like Trump, the coup’s cheerleaders in the mainstream press have been scratching their heads as to why Washington’s puppet – so-called ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido – didn’t quickly succeed in seizing power. Certainly, the lasting popularity of the policies enacted by the late Hugo Chavez and the revulsion at the idea of US intervention held by most Venezuelans are major factors. But there is another more subtle, but also more significant factor at play – the decline of US power in the Trump era. Under his presidency, the US imperial apparatus has fallen into the hands of a child in an adult’s body who can’t stay on subject when talking, let along on point when acting. Indeed, Washington’s traditional foreign policy establishment – including Henry Kissinger – endorsed Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. She was the preferred option because she would be the more competent administrator of empire.

    • What It’s Like to Watch a War

      Sometimes war sounds like the harsh crack of gunfire and sometimes like the whisper of the wind. This early morning — in al-Yarmouk on the southern edge of Libya’s capital, Tripoli — it was a mix of both. All around, shops were shuttered and homes emptied, except for those in the hands of the militiamen who make up the army of the Government of National Accord (GNA), the U.N.-backed, internationally recognized government of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. The war had slept in this morning and all was quiet until the rattle of a machine gun suddenly broke the calm. A day earlier, I had spent hours on the roof of my hotel, listening to the basso profundo echo of artillery as dark torrents of smoke rose from explosions in this and several other outlying neighborhoods. The GNA was doing battle with the self-styled Libyan National Army of warlord Khalifa Haftar, a U.S. citizen, former CIA asset, and longtime resident of Virginia, who was laudedby President Donald Trump in an April phone call. Watching the war from this perch brought me back to another time in my life when I wrote about war from a far greater distance — of both time and space — a war I covereddecades after the fact, the one that Americans still call “Vietnam” but the Vietnamese know as “the American War.”

    • Istanbul Election Shakes President Erdogan’s Power

      Baris Karaagac discusses Ekrem Imamoglu’s victory in Istanbul’s mayoral election. President Erdogan had forced new elections after his party lost in March and now the governing party lost control of all Turkey’s major cities

    • A Wounded Erdogan is a Dangerous Erdogan

      For the second time in a row, Turkish voters have rebuked President Recep Tayyir Erdogan’s handpicked candidate for the mayoralty of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest and wealthiest city. The secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, swamped Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Binali Yildirim in an election that many see as a report card on the President’s 17 years of power. So what does the outcome of the election mean for the future of Turkey, and in particular, its powerful president? For starters, an internal political realignment, but also maybe a dangerous foreign policy adventure. Erdogan and his Party have been weakened politically and financially by the loss of Istanbul, even though the President did his best to steer clear of the campaign over the past several weeks. Since it was Erdogan that pressured the Supreme Election Council into annulling the results of the March 31 vote, whether he likes it or not, he owns the outcome. His opponents in the AKP are already smelling blood. Former Prime Minister Ahmet Dovutoglu, who Erdogan sidelined in 2016, has begun criticizing the President’s inner circle, including Berat Albayrak, his son-in-law and current Finance Minister. There are rumors that Dovutoglu and former deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan are considering forming a new party on the right. Up until the March election that saw the AKP and its extreme nationalist alliance partner, the National Movement Party (MHP), lose control of most the major cities in the country, Erdogan had shown an almost instinctive grasp of what the majority of Turks wanted. But this time out the AKP seemed tone deaf. While Erdogan campaigned on the issue of terrorism, polls showed most Turks were more concerned with the disastrous state of the economy, rising inflation and growing joblessness.

    • What Russia Rightfully Remembers, America Forgets

      On June 6, President Trump commemorated the 75th Anniversary of Operation Overlord, popularly known as D-Day, when approximately 160,000 U.S., British, Canadian and Free French soldiers landed in and around the beaches of Normandy, France. Speaking at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, where the remains of 9,388 American fighting men, most of whom perished on D-Day, are interned, Trump promoted the mythology of American omniscience that was born on the beaches of Normandy. “These men ran through the fires of hell, moved by a force no weapon could destroy,” Trump declared. “The fierce patriotism of a free, proud and sovereign people. They battled not for control and domination, but for liberty, democracy and self-rule. Those who fought here won a future for our nation. They won the survival of our civilization.” For Americans, D-Day stands out among all others when it comes to celebrating the Second World War. Immortalized in books, a movie starring John Wayne, and in the HBO series titled “Band of Brothers,” the landings at Normandy represent to most Americans the turning point in the war against Hitler’s Germany, the moment when the American Army (together with the British, Canadian and Free French) established a foothold in occupied France that eventually led to the defeat of Germany’s army. What Trump overlooked in his presentation was the reality that the liberation of Europe began long before the D-Day landings. And the burden had almost exclusively been born by the Soviets. In his defense, Trump is not alone in promoting an America-centric version of history; his speech was simply the latest in a series of historically flawed remarks delivered by a succession of American presidents ever since they began giving speeches at Normandy in commemoration of D-Day. President George W. Bush’s address on the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings was typical of the genre, maximizing American glory while ignoring that of the Soviets. “Americans wanted to fight and win and go home,” Bush said. “And our GIs had a saying: ‘The only way home is through Berlin.’ That road to VE-Day was hard and long and traveled by weary and valiant men. And history will always record where that road began. It began here, with the first footprints on the beaches of Normandy.”

    • Trump Is the Perverse Personification of American Exceptionalism

      As with so many of Donald Trump’s interactions, in his dealings with other countries, the U.S. president is a bull in a china shop, smashing through everything in his path. It is, to say the least, discombobulating. When the president of the United States doesn’t hesitate to wade into the domestic politics of allied nations, and goes into attack-dog mode against political figures in those countries, it sends a strong signal both that traditional alliances are breaking down, and also that in this new entertainment-as-politics era, anything goes and etiquette be damned. The U.K., the U.S’s closest ally over the past century, has borne much of this stunning breach of protocol. Trump has, in his verbal dealings with the U.K., repeatedly treated the country as a suzerainty, a fiefdom for which he assumes the right to “suggest” fundamental decisions, rather than as a sovereign state. Many of the president’s most scathing (and oftentimes bizarre) comments have been aimed at London’s progressive (and secular Muslim) Mayor Sadiq Khan. In May 2016, then-candidate Trump challenged Khan to see who had a higher IQ. He has, in the years since, tweeted that the mayor is a “stone cold loser,” a “national disgrace who is destroying the City of London!” and misquoted Khan in a tweet to make it appear that the mayor wasn’t concerned about a terrorist attack that had taken the lives of several Londoners. This isn’t the stuff of politics, but of the school playground — or of an absurdist novel by someone such as the Cold War-era Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal.

    • Trump’s Ministry of No Information

      The Trump administration has halted, without explanation, the routine practice of reporting the current number of nuclear weapons in the US arsenal, the AP and United Press International report. The new secrecy will make it nearly impossible to estimate the true cost of nuclear weapons, to show adherence to arms control treaties, or to pressure others nuclear weapons states to disclose the size of their arsenals. The secrecy decision was revealed in an April 5 letter from the Department of Energy’s Office of Classification to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). Hans M. Kristensen, director of the group’s Nuclear Information Project, said the FAS regularly asks for the information and that it’s been made public for decades. “The decision walks back nearly a decade of US nuclear weapons transparency policy—in fact, longer if including stockpile transparency initiatives in the late 1990s,” Kristensen wrote in an April 17 memo, according to the AP. There is no national security rationale for keeping the number secret, Kristensen told the AP, adding that it is “unnecessary and counterproductive.” “This is curious,” he reportedly said, “since the Trump administration had repeatedly complained about secrecy in the Russian and Chinese arsenals. Instead, it now appears to endorse their secrecy.”

    • Honduras at Ten Years After the Coup: a Critical Assessment

      On the morning of June 28, 2009, Honduran army units entered the home of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales and forcibly brought him to Palmerola, a joint Honduran-U.S. military air base where they put Zelaya on a plane and sent him into exile. This action was ordered by the Honduran Congress and the Supreme Court, in violation of due process set forth in the country’s Constitution. The head of Congress, Roberto Michelletti, assumed the presidency until elections were held five months later amid massive popular protests and heavy police and military repression. Since then, Honduras has been ruled by two post-coup governments of the National Party. While Latin American governments condemned what many called a coup, the Obama Administration at first hesitated, and then Secretary of State Clinton approved the removal of Zelaya, while carefully avoiding the term “coup.” United States support for the post-coup governments has not wavered in the ten years since 2009—perhaps until now. As the tenth anniversary arrives, many Hondurans see the coup of 2009 as a major turning point that began a downward spiral in the country’s troubled history. In recent weeks huge popular protests have once again filled the streets and plazas of most of the country’s major cities and have appeared also in rural areas, leading up to what are expected to be even larger protests around the June 28 anniversary. The immediate cause of the latest protests was the government’s passage of a set of laws that for many Hondurans signaled the privatization of the public health and education sectors and the layoff of thousands of workers. Leaders of major medical and teachers organizations have been the organizing force of these demonstrations that have tapped the widespread generalized anger of many Hondurans against the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez whom some call a dictator.

    • The Cuban Revolution and the National Bourgeoisie

      The demand of the Cuban-American Right for full implementation of Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton Law, announced by the Trump administration on April 17, is rooted in the 1959-1961 conflict between the Cuban Revolution and the Cuban national bourgeoisie; when the Revolution in power, with the overwhelming support of the people, took necessary decisive steps that the national bourgeoisie interpreted as incompatible with its fundamental economic interests. The relation between the Cuban Revolution and the Cuban national bourgeoisie did not begin as conflictual. Representatives of the national bourgeoisie were allied with revolutionary organizations in an anti-Batista coalition, and lawyers tied to the national bourgeoisie constituted the majority of the ministers of the Revolutionary Government established in early January 1959. These political dynamics reflected, in part, the Revolution’s goals of economic diversification and industrial development, which Fidel Castro conceived as ideally including the national industrial bourgeoisie. Reinforcing this orientation, a liberal sector of the bourgeoisie expressed a desire to develop toward an independent national bourgeoisie. Accordingly, the Revolutionary Government during its first eighteen months took no action against the class interests of the national bourgeoisie. The first property expropriations were enacted on February 28, 1959. As confiscations of the property of Cuban nationals associated with the Batista regime, they were not directed against the interests of the national bourgeoisie as a class. The Batista dictatorship of 1952 to 1958 was characterized by blatant corruption, repression, and brutality, and the popular thirst for justice could not prudently be ignored by the Revolutionary Government. The confiscated properties were converted into public buildings, such as primary schools, day care centers, medical clinics, multiple housing units, and embassies.

    • The Pinkerton Effect: The US Marines in Darwin

      Subordinates rarely have a good time of dictating matters to their superiors. In the webbed power relations that pass as realpolitik, Australia is the well behaved child in the front of the room, yearning to be caned and spoilt in equal measure. Ever since Australia’s Prime Minister John Curtin cast his eye to Washington in an act of desperation during the Second World War, fearing defeat at the hands of the Japanese and British abandonment, the United States has maintained its role, a brute to be relied upon, even as it careers into the next disaster. An underlying rationale since then has been dangerously simple: With the United States, right or wrong, sober or drunk. An important element in the relationship has been the forced belief that the US has no bases in Australia, preferring the untidy ruse of rotation. A base implies permanency, garrisons with darkened influences on the local populace, followed by the all-too-predictable requirement for courts martial. A rotation on exercise suggests a casual visit and a bit of sunny fun. The US armed forces, as Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, do this with callous freedom under the broader aegis of the alliance with Canberra, fucking the Oriental subject and departing, having impregnated the host, and propelling her to a despair that eventually kills. The metaphor carries over for what sounds, promiscuously enough, a classic military strategy: rotation, not occupation; movement, not garrisoned entrenchment. To that end, it follows that the US does not occupy Australia so much as penetrate it with convenience, use it, and discard if and when needed, all pimp, and occasionally reassuring plunderer. In 2014, US President Barack Obama fluted his views about the Pacific and the future role of US forces on a visit to Australia, yet another notch on the belt of the imperium’s move into the Asia-Pacific. “By the end of this decade, a majority of our Navy and Air Force fleets will be based out of the Pacific, because the United States is and always will be a Pacific power.” In 2015, Admiral Jonathan Greenert did his little Pinkerton expedition to Darwin, hoping to find suitable environs to seed further. The US, in his words, was “doing a study together with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to see what might be feasible for naval co-operation in and around Australia which might include basing ships”. (The horny Lothario must always sound cooperative and consultative.)

    • The ‘Trump Doctrine’ Is Sinking Fast

      Dariush’s mother requires regular injections of medicine. The cost of the drug has increased threefold in the past year, and he must buy it for her on the black market. He blames inflation on the US sanctions: “They are just hurting normal people.” I ask his reaction to Trump’s on-again, off-again threats of war against Iran. “If a war happens,” he says, “I will defend my country. I don’t like my government, but I will fight.” Over the past several weeks, the Trump Administration has managed to infuriate ordinary Iranians, traditional US allies, and US war hawks. The emerging “Trump Doctrine” uses economic sanctions and tariffs to bully other countries, accompanied by fiery threats of military action without actual attacks. Not only is the doctrine foolhardy, it isn’t working.

    • In Haiti, Washington Meddling Missed by Press

      Tens of thousands marching in the streets nationwide to denounce government corruption, reports of police and gang violence and murder and a downwardly spiraling economy. Calls for the government to step down. If this were Venezuela, as recent FAIR analyses pointed out, elite media journalists and commentators would be all over the story. After all, they’ve been endorsing Washington’s blatant and repeated imperialist designs and interventions in that country for over a decade. But this is not Venezuela. It’s Haiti. Not that Washington has always opposed regime change in the world’s first black republic. A decade ago, presidents Bush père et fils approved and backed coup d’états twice, in 1991 and 2004, against Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a left-wing populist chosen in the country’s first free elections. As with Iran and Venezuela, those were what The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill (2/20/19) called “Regime Change We Can Believe In.” But unlike Aristide, and unlike Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, President Jovenel Moïse is Washington’s “man in Port-au-Prince.” He was hand-picked by Michael “Sweet Mickey” Martelly, the previous Washington-approved president, and had pledged to follow his “Haiti Is Open for Business” neoliberal policies.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • From Cyber War to Omnicide?

      Will the Justice Department and all those calling for the heads of Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange now demand that the publishers of the hallowed New York Times be punished for their transgression of revealing our government’s cyber warfare against Russia? The front page article is titled “U.S. Buries Digital Land Mines To Menace Russia’s Power Grid.” Many citizens undoubtedly feel that this is just payback for the long decreed turpitude of the Russians for interfering with our “democracy.” Of course there is nothing new about this…the cyber warfare that is. One could make the case that such has been ongoing and deepening since at least World War I and in some fashion probably as soon as electronics like the telegraph and telephone were invented. Modern computer science propels this latest installment of the deadly Great Game to new altitudes, however, and, unlike the case for nukes, there are no international treaties or agreements that bind nations in any regard when it comes to waging what is rapidly evolving into extremely hazardous subterranean warfare that can only increase the probability of far worse. Consider the scenario wherein an entire major city’s electric grid is brought down for three days or a week or more as the U.S. has undoubtedly caused in Venezuela and may soon in Iran. How many are dying in Caracas owing to a lack of potable water, or food poisoning due to spoilage, or in hospitals without power? Were such happening here in the states the government would surely see this as an act of war and would respond with terrifying violence. How do the Russians view matters? Is an escalation looming? When will such “gaming” result in some extreme catastrophe that does intensify to all-out war?

    • Western Moscow deputy police chief resigns in continuing law enforcement turnover following Ivan Golunov case

      Igor Petukhov, the deputy police chief for the Western Administrative District of Moscow, has submitted a resignation letter with a request for superannuated benefits. Two anonymous sources close to the Moscow police told RBC about the resignation. Petukhov’s former boss, Moscow police chief Andrey Puchkov, was fired on the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Internal Affairs Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev requested the firing after the release of Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov, who was arrested on fabricated drug charges and then cleared for lack of evidence.

    • Student Reporters Can Serve Their Communities When Administrators Aren’t in the Way

      Since last year, we have been answering ProPublica Illinois reader questions about how we do our work. Thoughtful, challenging questions have been rolling in ever since, and we’ve been answering them in an occasional series of columns. In this edition, web producer Vignesh Ramachandran answers a question about student media. I write for my school newspaper and often the topics we want to write about have to go through many levels of school administration in order to be approved. Is there a similar process in real-world journalism publications such as yours? — Arysha Madhani Not exactly. Most professional news organizations, like ProPublica, are editorially independent from any external oversight. Donors have no say in what we cover. We pursue and publish the stories that we think are important, that best serve our mission and that best serve you, our audience.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • California’s Early June Heat Wave Cooked Coastal Mussels in Place

      Bodega Marine Reserve research coordinator Jackie Sones has worked in or walked on the rocky shores of the North Coast almost every day for the last 15 years. But while she was surveying the reserve for sea stars in mid-June, she saw something new: strips of bleached algae draped across the rocks, like frost, and a swath of dead mussels, hundreds or maybe thousands of them, black shells agape, orange tissue shining in the sun, stretching across 500 feet of rocky tidepools. “It’s one of the first things you see, coming down the rocks into the middle of the intertidal zone,” she said. “They were very visibly dead.” In all her time in Bodega Bay, she wrote in her blog The Natural History of Bodega Head, she’d never seen a mussel die-off that size, or affecting so many individual mussels. She suspected immediately that the algae had bleached and the mussels had overheated earlier in the month. While many Bay Area residents fled toward fans or movie theaters or air-conditioned libraries to escape the record-breaking early June heat wave, the mussels, which attach themselves to rocks with super-strong threads and never look back, would have just roasted in place. The air temperature in Bodega Bay on June 11 hit an unusually warm 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The normal June sea breeze disappeared. A series of mid-day low tides stranded the tidepool animals out of the water for hours while the sun beat down from high overhead.

    • The Climate Crisis Is Now Cooking Mussels in Their Shells

      The carnage was first observed by Bodega Marine Reserve research coordinator Jackie Sones, who said she had never seen such a massive death toll in her years of field work along the Northern California coast. “In the past we’ve seen patches die, but in this case it was everywhere,” Sones told Bay Nature. “Every part of the mussel bed I touched, there were mussels that had died.”

    • Japan resumes commercial whaling after three decades; at least two taken on first day
    • Japan prepares to resume commercial whaling after 30 years, despite public outrage

      On Monday, Japan will resume commercial whaling for the first time in 30 years. Its withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which regulates whaling globally, formally takes effect July 1. In December, Japan withdrew from the IWC after failing to convince the commission to allow it to resume commercial whaling. “At the IWC general meeting… it became evident once again that those supporting the sustainable use of whale stocks and those supporting protection cannot co-exist, leading us to this conclusion,” top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said last September.

    • Japan whaling: Commercial hunts to resume despite outcry

      Japan is about to resume catching whales for profit, in defiance of international criticism. Its last commercial hunt was in 1986, but Japan has never really stopped whaling – it has been conducting instead what it says are research missions which catch hundreds of whales annually. But Japan has now withdrawn from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which banned hunting, and will send out its first whaling fleet this July.

    • Japan Begins Commercial Whaling for First Time in 30+ Years

      Commercial whaling ships set sail from Japan Monday for the first time in more than 30 years, The Guardian reported. Japan had been hunting whales in the waters off Antarctica for “research” purposes since 1987, according to BBC News. The hunts killed between 200 and 1,200 whales a year, and conservationists accused the Japanese government of using the hunts as a cover for commercial whaling, since much of the meat was eventually sold.

    • Hail storm buries parts of Mexican city of Guadalajara in ice

      “I’ve never seen such scenes in Guadalajara,” said the governor of Jalisco state, Enrique Alfaro. “Then we asked ourselves if climate change is real. These are never-before-seen natural phenomena,” he said. “It’s incredible.” At least six neighborhoods were covered in ice up to 2 meters (2 yards) deep.

    • With New ‘Imposed Contract,’ Trump’s EPA Tries to Neuter Worker Rights

      The Trump administration continued its attacks on federal workers this week with a new “agreement” that would kneecap the power of unions representing EPA employees. The development, as watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) noted Wednesday, is a new “Master Collective Bargaining Agreement” between the federal agency and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Far from an agreement, said PEER, the document is really an “edict.” It was not the result of negotiations. “In the Trump world, there is no bargaining, only ultimatums,” said PEER executive director Tim Whitehouse, a former EPA enforcement attorney.

    • Progressives Denounce Export-Import Bank’s Support for Fossil Fuel Industry as Congress Debates Reauthorization

      The House Financial Services Committee considered the bill for reauthorization after it was introduced by Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) without any commitments to end fossil fuel subsidies and with only five percent of the bank’s funding going to renewable energy projects under the proposed legislation. “Every coal power plant the Export-Import Bank props up brings us that much closer to climate catastrophe. This bank needs fundamental reform now,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “The bank should focus on spreading renewable energy around the world instead of funding dirty fossil fuels.” Friends of the Earth (FOE) thanked Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for introducing amendments to restrict the bank’s funding of fossil fuel projects.

    • Climate Chaos and Our Own Responsibilities

      On the last day of the UN Climate Change (June 17-27, 2019) meeting in Bonn the key IPCC report on 1.5 C was blocked from further discussion by Saudi Arabia and an unlikely set of allies: the US, Iran and Russia. The report as the saying goes has been deep-sixed meriting only a five-para watered down waffle at the end of the agreement, so what next? If the Paris Agreement was transformative in its democratic innovation, its voluntary aspects opened up the possibility of countries failing to meet their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) targets. These are at the heart of the Paris agreement and their voluntary nature invites democratic engagement — the example of Greta Thunberg and her mushrooming support comes to mind. Even more necessary after the Bonn meeting, democratic pressure on governments is vital to counter the fossil fuel lobby. Also the climate change debate is framed around two temperature figures, the famous 1.5 C and 2 C scenarios. We need a rallying cry but the fact is temperature is an amorphous goal. We cannot ask countries to reduce temperature by a certain number because the whole earth is involved and it is beyond individual capacities; hence the target NDCs, the rather dull but practical numbers. When the UN sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change first released its famous (now banished) 1.5 C report last October, it set off alarms. Comprising the work of hundreds of the world’s leading climate scientists, it predicted a grim future and a narrowing window of action. It examined a 1.5 C rise in mean global temperature from preindustrial levels, comparing it with a 2 C rise. We are already experiencing the effects of being 1 degree above, and according to the report should reach the 1.5 C level as early as 2040. The 1.5 C and 2 C figures result from simulation exercises, although by undoubtedly respected and expert scientists. At 1.5 C above, the report states, 70-90 percent of the world’s sea corals would be lost (with a 2C rise 99 percent would be gone); the Arctic sea ice would be in fast retreat threatening polar bears and raising sea levels; and with higher ocean temperatures we can expect worsened severe storms, rain and flooding.

    • Explosions! Floods! Cancer! What More Will It Take for Pa. to Ditch Fossil Fuels?

      The rusty old site hard by the riverbank used to be a dirty belching epicenter of this Pennsylvania city’s Industrial Revolution economy. Much like South Philadelphia’s iconic 19th-century oil refinery, the ancient Jones and Laughlin steel mill complex along the Monongahela River was part of a trail of smokestacks and smog that once defined Pittsburgh, but is now overgrown with weeds and the rust corroding its massive furnaces and rail yards. Today, though, the 178-acre site just three miles from the center of Pittsburgh’s downtown is called Hazelwood Green, and its developers are raising funds for the lengthy job of not just cleaning up the pollution but reinventing this prime real-estate as a tech center that will be powered by green-energy projects and criss-crossed with bike paths and riverside trails. The Pittsburgh project is both a vision of a cleaner future and an acknowledgement of the obvious: The era of Big Steel is over. It’s already way past time for Philadelphia and the rest of Pennsylvania to concede that the global fossil fuel revolution that started right here in the Keystone State (at the Drake well, in Titusville, in 1859) is also dead and gone, and that it’s time to start planning for a green 21st century.

    • Why You Can’t Trust the US Forest Service

      Tom Kuglin’s excellent article in The Missoulian on June 21 about the lawsuit the Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed to stop massive clear-cutting and road-building in Helena’s drinking watershed mentioned that the City of Helena organized a collaborative group of diverse citizens, Forest Service personnel and city employees called the Ten Mile Watershed Collaborative Committee to ensure that anything the Forest Service proposed in our watershed, actually protected our watershed. After all, we all drink water. The collaborative also wanted to ensure that the wildlife habitat in the watershed and its inventoried roadless lands, Lazyman and Jericho Mountain were protected. I was part of this committee. The collaborative was composed of a group of people with strongly held opinions that met many times over eight long months. Even though we disagreed on how to protect Helena’s watershed, in the end, we did what adults do. We compromised.

    • The Compelling Evidence of Global Warming

      After eight years of war “on terror” in the Middle East and war on public health and the natural world by Bush, Americans elected the first black American president, Barack Obama. However, Obama inherited a corrupt and collapsing Wall Street and fear of a global financial meltdown. He had the option of cleaning up Wall Street banking and injecting ethical standards in the US economy. Instead, he chose bailing out the very Wall Street bankers who nearly wrecked the economy of America and the world. The result was another calamitous administration, doing very little to put a break on global warming. The successor to Obama was Donald Trump, an open enemy of the environment and public health. In fact, Trump is so shameless and obedient servant of polluters and big business, he and his administration deny global warming. The consequences of this chronic political failure of Americans electing responsible ethical adults for the White House and Congress are approaching catastrophe. [...] As I said, the Obama administration did not distinguished itself, save for reviving the Wall Street thieves. But, at least, it made an effort to reduce the amounts of greenhouse warming gases from cars, trucks and power plants. EPA partnered with states, cities, car and electricity producers, mandating cuts in pollution. Electricity factories were about to reduce carbon emissions equivalent to the carbon pollution of 160,000,000 cars — representing 70 percent of cars in the US. This negotiated settlement came under the Clean Power Plan of the Clean Air Act. It was finalized in 2015. Yet, the Trump administration replaced this modest measure of reducing our national air pollution. Trump preferred full carbon pollution, the more the better. That way he would try bamboozling his followers that his administration created more jobs in hospitals and morgues and doctors’ offices “taking care” of sick and dying people.

    • ‘This Is Not How You Behave in an Emergency’: Demand for Climate-Focused Democratic Debate Grows After Second Night of Paltry Questions

      It wasn’t quite a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment, but it was close: Democrats in the second of the first primary debates on Thursday only spent eight minutes of the 120-minute debate on the climate crisis, an indication to many progressive groups and commentators that the planetary catastrophe just isn’t a major priority for the party. “This is not how you behave in an emergency,” Greenpeace U.S.A. climate campaign director Janet Redman said in a statement. “Despite the candidates’ acknowledgement of the existential threat that climate change represents to humanity, we heard next to nothing over two days about how they would actually address this monumental challenge,” Redman said. “Talking points and soundbites do not cut it anymore.” The Miami debate, which aired on MSNBC Thursday night, featured candidates referring to the crisis in response to questions from moderators Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow about halfway through the second hour. But, as The Guardian’s Emily Holden pointed out in her analysis of the contest, while the candidates “accurately conveyed the rapidly approaching deadlines scientists have said the world faces in limiting the most dangerous effects of the crisis,” the 10 Democrats “missed multiple opportunities to discuss how rising temperatures play into other hot button political issues.” The issue, wrote Holder, is that “the discussion largely pigeonholed the climate crisis as a single issue and an environmental problem.”

    • ‘Downright Irresponsible and Shameful’: DNC and NBC Ripped for Democratic Debate That Spent Less Than 10 Minutes on Climate Emergency

      After 2020 Democratic presidential candidates spent less than ten minutes on the global climate emergency during the first primary debate in Miami, Florida Wednesday night, environmentalists and progressive critics argued it is now clearer than ever that the DNC must agree to host a debate focused specifically on the crisis that poses an existential threat to human civilization.

    • Dear Trump: CO2 is Polluting our Atmosphere and Acidifying our Water: They aren’t “the Cleanest”

      There is probably not much point in arguing with Trump or fact-checking him, since whether as a ploy or because of whatever mental condition plagues him, he is not capable of revisiting his long-held opinions in the light of actual evidence. But just because this blog helps me keep my blood pressure down, let me address his comments. First, putting in wind and solar is not necessarily a burden on the US economy. The fuel for wind and solar is free. So the start-up costs of constructing a solar farm or a wind farm rather than depending on existing coal and gas plants to generate electricity is offset by the fact that you have to pay for coal and gas, whereas the wind and sunshine are free.

    • Democratic Debates Were Depth-Free. Will Future Rounds Be Better?

      In sinking south Florida, the calendrical start of summer always involves an amplification of ambient heat in ways that simply don’t apply anywhere else in the lower 48. But during the past week it’s seemed like the sun itself descended from the heavens to lick the ocean before our eyes. The air filled with a thick steam so enveloping, that walking outside was akin to drowning in an overheated Jacuzzi. Oh, and the Everglades are ablaze as well, lending a slightly acrid piquancy to the occasion. Why did the Democrats decide to host this event in Miami now? Florida is the fever dream of all would-be presidential candidates. Who wins here, wins, or so goes the lore — and with good reason. Florida has voted for the presidential loser only twice since 1928 (in 1960 and again in 1992). Somewhere along the way, Florida also became the fourth-largest state by population, with lots and lots of precious electoral votes. Since 2000, the legendarily close and often botched election process in Florida draws enormous attention from politicians and pundits alike. Into this mess, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), in its wisdom, delivered the top 20 of the approximately 11,623 candidates currently running for the honor of being spitballed by Donald Trump in the next attempt to elect an actual functioning president for the United States. Two nights of debates, including 10 candidates each night for two hours, less the amount of time Chuck Todd talked and talked and talked. Although the DNC’s representatives from all the campaigns reportedly witnessed a random drawing, it turned out that Elizabeth Warren got center-stage on night one, with no other top-tier competition. Instead, she was surrounded by the Texas upstart and table-walker Beto O’Rourke; earnest-sounding Cory Booker from New Jersey; serious person from the upper Midwest Amy Klobuchar; Washington State’s Jay Inslee, governor of a place he would clearly rename Utopia if he could; Julián Castro from Texas, who challenged the criminalization of immigration (though he’s careful to say he isn’t in favor of open borders); Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, who was there to increase her Google value; John Delaney from Maryland, who has been in the race since 2009, but has yet to clock support from his entire nuclear family; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was there to offer his height to America; and finally, Tim Ryan of Ohio, who apparently was there to assure a certain level of nincompoop douchiness to the affair.

    • Energy Commons: From Energy Transition to Climate Justice

      In 2019, only oil lobbyists and shabby orange politicians persist in denying the influence of human activities on the Earth’s climate. Scientific evidence is piling up and we know that we must change our ways. The concept of energy transition has become mainstream. However, governments have remained remarkably motionless. They are so inactive that kids have started school strikes and demand climate justice in front of the United Nations’ Conference of Parties. They are so immobile that citizen groups actually sue their governments for their lack of climate action. And when governments attempt to do something, it is so unjust that people take to the streets even during the coldest months of the year, screaming, filled with rage and frustration. Our leaders have forgotten that the poorer half of our societies should not have to clean up the mess produced by the richest half. That it should not be our kids cleaning up our mess.

    • Gov. Newsom’s Proposal to Pay for Wildfire Claims: Let Utility Ratepayers Pay, Not the Companies

      A proposal put forward by California’s Gov. Newsom to deal with liability claims arising from California wildfires caused by utility companies was reported on in a recent New York Times article. In the words of the reporters, “the key element” of Governor Newsom’s proposal is a $21 billion fund used to “shield the utilities’ ratepayers and the companies themselves” from liability claims. How will this fund be financed? From the reporters: “Half of the $21 billion wildfire fund would be covered by the utilities; the other half would be financed by bonds paid off by utility ratepayers.” This essentially means that ratepayers get to pay for both halves of this fund. 1. The half paid by the utilities: To pay for the fund, the utility companies’ rate of return which is “typically” 10.5 percent may decline. [1] However, the companies get all of their money from their customers or ratepayers paying their utility bills. 2. These same ratepayers will cover the other half of this $21 billion fund by paying-off the bonds used to raise funds to finance it. That amount will presumably come to much more than $10.5 billion since those who buy bonds expect to receive interest payments and/or for the bonds to increase in value.

    • Heat Records Tumble as Europe Bakes

      Torrid weather gripped large parts of western and central Europe on Wednesday, setting new June temperature records in Germany and the Czech Republic and forcing drivers to slow down on some sections of the famously speedy German autobahns. Authorities imposed speed limits on some autobahns due to concerns the high heat would cause expressway surfaces to buckle. Some French schools stayed closed as a precaution due to worrying hot weather. German weather agency Deutscher Wetterdienst said a preliminary reading showed the mercury reached 38.6 degrees Celsius (101.5 F) in Coschen, near the Polish border. That’s a tenth of a degree higher than the previous national record for June, set in 1947 in southwestern Germany.

    • Climate change blamed as Chennai runs dry

      Some of the poorest people of India’s sixth largest city are having to spend half their weekly income on water as Chennai runs dry: its four reservoirs lie empty and the government’s relief tankers cannot keep up with demand from citizens. Despite government claims that there is no water crisis, the taps are empty and many of Chennai’s nine million people are queuing from early morning, awaiting what water the tankers can deliver. Monsoon rains have failed for the last two years, leaving the city enduring a heat wave with no water. The government is delivering 10 million litres daily by train from 200 kilometres away in a bid to provide enough water for the poor to survive. In the richer areas private water tankers are maintaining supplies, charging double the normal rate to fill a roof tank. Businesses, particularly restaurants, have been forced to close, and children are not attending school because they are spending all day queuing for water for their families.

    • The Monkey’s Face

      What I am seeing of late is that the Climate Crises is destroying environmentalism. What I consider real environmentalism. The Climate discourse is quickly being taken over by monied interests whose desire is to save capitalism before they save the planet. They fly (in jets, often private) to conferences in which avacados (or whatever) are flown in from California (or wherever). And there is aristocracy, literally, in attendance. It feels amolst required. The British or Dutch Royals, if we’re talking carbon footprints, are tracking in with size 12 Florsheims– while the indigenous activists who toil and are persecuted in places such as Honduras, or Colombia, are not invited. They are of an other way of life, the life of actual concern for nature. These conferences are a kind of ceremonial environmentalism. And the branded progressives of the Democratic Party, Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, feint to the left with tepid rebukes to the establishment, but quickly tack to the right with praise for blood drenched ghouls like Madeleine Albright and even Gloria Estefan, whose father in fact was a bodyguard for Batista. Who “fled” Cuba (meaning fled the evils of communism) and thereby should be seen as a role model of some sort for young liberals and (yes) environmentalists… because brand loyalty being what it is, etc etc. Meanwhile back at the conference, there is the issue of packaging. And I want to examine the packaging industry for a moment. Everything comes in a package. That is mass production at work. You can buy small yogurts that amount to five spoonfuls and then you must throw out the plastic container. The world is awash in plastics. And not only are plastics destroying the oceans and marine mammals and fish, pliable plastic is downright poisonous to the human beings. And this has been known for some time now. I first read about BPA and the effects of plastics in the early 90s.

    • American Climate Change Policy: You Don’t Matter

      The pickin’ and the choosin’ of the winners and the losers of Climate Change was all set from the get-go. The Big Money was always going to win because the Big Money always does the pickin’. It’s the American Way. If there was ever any doubt among the blessedly naïve and trusting Demos Americanus about who counts and who doesn’t, then the spectacular publicly-funded deus-ex-machina salvation of the Wall Street Glitterati (WSG) from the financial cataclysm of 2008 should have forever laid to rest all such confusions. You don’t matter (you, because “they” don’t read here). Nuclear war breaking out? They’re got reservations in the shelters; you’re out to the Big Fry. Ebola Bird Flu Pandemic 2020 racing ‘round the world? They’ve got guaranteed pills and vaccines; you’ve got aspirin, Go-Fund-Me healthcare, and are designated anti-vaxxer by default. Climate Change hurricanes, floods, droughts and crop failures pouncing on you? They’ll stay fat, dumb, happy high-and-dry under Uncle Sam’s caressing wings; you’ll be a pioneer rugged individualist facing off against the sun, with act-of-god cancelled insurance, sucking dried marrow out of bones from drought-kills for your heroic survival (for a month or two). There is no such thing as Climate Change denial from the Trumpian Monarchy and the Royal Court of WSG’ers, it is all calculated Climate Change delay-ism, stalling propaganda, as Val Eisman remarked to me. In short: premeditated murder. This has been obvious for decades, but unseen by so many in the Demos Americanus with their touching wishful fantasies of caring and at worst benign bumbling rulers, clouding their persistently innocent eyes.

    • The Hydroponic Threat to Organic Food

      In the last 7 years there has been a quiet redefinition taking place in the USDA National Organic Program that oversees organic standards. Large scale industrial producers have insinuated themselves into organic certification to transform what the green and white label stands for. Original organic was based on a simple equation: Healthy soil = healthy plants = healthy animals = healthy planet. This equation leaves out the discussion of WHY these things are true, but it is a good roadmap for what organic agriculture is all about. The first given is always “healthy soil.” As we look deeper, we cannot study these parts separately, because plants and animals are integral parts of healthy soil system. No plants means no healthy soil. The same is true with animals. Soil and plants coevolved for 350 million years, and neither can be healthy in isolation from the other. The dance between plants, microbial life, and animal life in the soil is necessary for all. Western soil science got started with the work of Justus von Liebig (1803-1873). From Liebig’s perspective, soil was a passive storage bin for plant nutrients. However, in Charles Darwin’s 1881 book The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms, these ideas were challenged by a vision of the soil as a living ecosystem. But Liebig’s viewpoint dominated Western soil science until the 1980’s when the role of organisms in soil formation became better understood. Liebig himself even turned away from his “storage bin” paradigm in the later part of his life, but our agricultural sciences continued to follow his earlier writings.

    • The Green New Climate Deal

      The climate movement in the US and around the world has gone through two main phases and is entering a third. The first, starting with the confirmation of man-made global warming, was a movement of environmental organizations in alliance with governments and the UN focused primarily on lobbying governments for legislation and international agreements. The second, which gathered steam after the breakdown of climate protection efforts at Copenhagen, was a direct action movement, largely initiated by indigenous movements and 350.org, independent of governments, using civil disobedience targeting fossil fuel infrastructure to mobilize opposition to fossil fuel corporations. The third phase, pioneered by the Sunrise Movement and expressed in the massive activity around the Green New Deal (GND), is a complex phenomenon with several important novel aspects. “While the GND is wildly popular with the Democratic Party base, much of the leadership, influenced in part by large fossil fuel industry contributions, has treated it as a threat to be managed.”

    • Saudi Arabia Erases Science, Blocks Progress at Bonn Climate Summit, Pushing Dirty Oil

      The threatened small states wanted to highlight last October’s report by the International Panel on Climate Change chartered by the United Nations, and according to the BBC, the threatened countries wanted to “include reference to the scientists’ conclusion that carbon emissions would have to be reduced by 45% by 2030.” The US, Poland, Australia, Iran and Saudi Arabia swung into action in a bid that one attendee called an attempt to make the IPCC climate report “invisible” and cast doubt on its validity. Climate change denialism, in other words, is trying to take over the very international vehicle for addressing our climate emergency. Most of the governments meeting at Bonn sought implementation of the Paris climate accord and made preparations for the COP 25 climate conference this coming December in Santiago, Chile. Saudi Arabia was there only as a spoiler, since it is the world’s top petroleum exporter and is single-handedly responsible for 11% of the global emissions from the transportation sector. That is, this one country is helping wreck our planet with its poisoned product, and it wouldn’t even let the island nations it is sending to Davy Jones’ locker so much as complain about it. Meyer notes that Trump’s breach of the Paris Agreement meant that he pulled $2 billion in funding for climate initiatives, and that he left the US delegation ineffective. It is state governors, some businesses, and civil society who now carry on work on the Paris Accord, not the US federal government, which is pushing dirty, destructive coal.

    • Plastic, Insects, Salmon and Climate Change: The 13 Best Environmental Books of July

      Summer is officially upon us, which means it’s time to pick the season’s best beach reads. And there’s no rule that says beach reads have to be frothy and lightweight. Why not choose compelling and informative instead?

  • Finance

    • U.S., China Declare Truce in Trade War, but Tariffs Remain

      President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping agreed to a cease-fire Saturday in their nations’ yearlong trade war, averting for now an escalation feared by financial markets, businesses and farmers. Trump said U.S. tariffs will remain in place against Chinese imports while negotiations continue. Additional trade penalties he has threatened against billions worth of other Chinese goods will not take effect for the “time being,” he said, and the economic powers will restart stalled talks that have already gone 11 rounds.

    • The Devious Ways One Water Company Is Profiting From Poor Mexicans

      Water is becoming a coveted currency. As a basic need that is increasingly scarce in some regions due to climate disruption and abusive industrial and agricultural practices, it is the new gold that the wealthy want to get their hands on. Companies like Nestlé and even drug gangs in Mexico are harnessing the profit and power potential of water, with trails of violence and corruption left in their wake. In Puebla, two hours to the south of Mexico City, a private water company has plans to break up the streets of the historic city center, a world heritage site. The pipes here were changed 16 years ago and only need to be changed once every 90 years, but the company will risk damaging underground electricity, internet and sewage networks, as well as the colonial paved streets, to do unnecessary repairs. With an inflated budget of 270 million pesos (US$14 million), the company hopes to avoid the cancellation of its contract to manage the city’s water by meeting its terms to conduct a certain volume of repairs. Meanwhile, drains flood and large quantities of water leak from damaged pipes. Puebla’s water was privatized in 2013, and is now controlled by a consortium run by corrupt businessmen who allegedly launder money for some of Mexico’s biggest drug cartels. The company, Agua de Puebla, hasn’t conducted any studies to demonstrate the repairs are necessary, attorney Omar Jiménez told Truthout. Jiménez is a water rights activist who has won in court against Agua de Puebla for illegally disconnecting people’s water in nearly 400 cases.

    • Can You Say: “Exorbitant Privilege”? (If So, You Can Probably Write for the NYT)

      Ruchir Shamir again used a New York Times column to complain about plans put forward by Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump (more the former than the latter) to lower the value of the dollar to make U.S. goods and services more competitive in the world economy. While he raises a number of geopolitical arguments, the gist of his economic argument is that the U.S. is able to run large and persistent trade deficits because the dollar is the leading reserve currency in the world. (Hence the “exorbitant privilege.”) This ability to run large trade deficits could be a good thing, if we had an economy that was generally near full employment. In that case, the deficit on trade allows us to consume and invest more than would otherwise be possible. However, few serious economists would argue that we have been at or near full employment in the last decade. Many, if not most, mainstream economists have embraced the idea of “secular stagnation.” This is a more complicated way of saying insufficient demand. In other words, the U.S. economy has not been at or near full employment for the last decade because it has not had enough demand.

    • A Moment in History

      Sometimes we do not know when small actions could have the most momentous effects. The Archduke Franz Ferdinand loved his wife, which was most unusual for a Hapsburg. She was not of royal blood and strict protocol meant she could not appear in public ceremonies with him in Vienna. Which is why he chose to undertake a royal visit to the obscure Serbian provincial city of Sarajevo for her birthday. The rest, as they say, is history. AJP Taylor liked to list Franz Ferdinand’s love for his wife as a cause of the First World War, a reminder that history is the study of human beings. Of course the massive arms race between the imperial powers, and the nationalist and democratic forces acting on old heterogenous dynastic empires, lay at the root of the First World War. But Taylor’s absolutely correct point is that even the greatest store of paraffin will not ignite without a spark, and perhaps the spark may never come. I am with Taylor on this, against the rigid determinists. The vast transfer of wealth from everybody else to the bankers in the great banking collapse, and the huge growth in wealth inequality and obscene concentrations of wealth in a tiny number of private hands, are the underlying causes of the collapse in old political party structures across the western democracies and the rise of insurgent politics in all its various forms, mostly under the careful control of the elite using all their media control to misdirect popular blame for mass poverty against immigrants.

    • A Visionary Blueprint to End Poverty—A Moral Budget for 2020

      In 2018, the Poor People’s Campaign, led by Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, released an agenda addressing systematic poverty in the United States. On June 17, the Poor People’s Campaign along with the Institute for Policy Studies released a “Moral Budget” outlining how the government can not only pay to shift the system to address that agenda—but make a healthier and stronger nation. Indeed, the report also illustrates that continuing our current trajectory is actually more costly than making the shift. The report, “Poor People’s Moral Budget: Everybody Has the Right to Live,” details how we can extract ourselves from harmful systems, and invest in rebuilding our failing infrastructure, create jobs, provide health care and housing, and alleviate poverty—simply by making some basic moral choices on how we distribute the federal budget. Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis is co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “This budget flips the question of cost and raises the question of benefits. This budget looks at how much better we could be as a nation if we fixed inequality. We must invest now,” she says.

    • A Huge Tax Break Went to a Politically Connected Company in New Jersey Despite Red Flags

      In January 2014, as Holtec International explored sites for a new national headquarters and high-tech manufacturing center, the New Jersey company told state officials that the Garden State had stiff competition. A number of other states, including Ohio and South Carolina, had offered “robust proposals” to persuade the nuclear technology firm to relocate, said Holtec CEO Kris Singh in his sworn application to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. Generous tax breaks from New Jersey’s new economic development program, he argued, could place Camden “on a level playing field” with Holtec’s other suitors. In return, the firm pledged the retention of 160 jobs and the creation of an additional 235 positions. Six months later, the EDA awarded the company $260 million in taxpayer assistance — the second-largest tax break in state history. What Holtec didn’t reveal, though, was that just weeks before filing its application in New Jersey, Ohio had stripped the company of tax credits there for failing to create the jobs it had promised as part of a similar program. According to records obtained by WNYC and ProPublica, none of the 200 positions it had pledged in 2009 to bring to Orrville, a small town about 20 miles outside Akron, ever materialized. Holtec, in a letter to Ohio regulators, blamed its problems on the failure of new manufacturing equipment that led to a “major setback.” The company also said it was suffering an overall “decline in orders” caused by “lower quality overseas competitors.” In the same letter, Holtec asked Ohio to consider applying the old credits to its new plan to build a high-tech manufacturing center. But there is no record that the state ever granted that request.

    • Canceling All College Debt Will Make Us Smarter and Richer

      On Monday morning, I gathered with other members of the Debt Collective in Washington DC to endorse the College for All Act of 2019. Sponsored by Reps. Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the act would cancel all student debt and make all two- and four-year public colleges and universities tuition free, subsidized by a tax on Wall Street. The Debt Collective is a membership organization fighting for economic justice that has been advocating student debt cancellation and free college for years. Our demands were initially met with skepticism and incredulity. Now, we’re standing at the Capitol, winning the battle of ideas. A growing number of people agree that eliminating student debt will improve millions of lives, advance racial and gender justice, and be a boon for our democracy and our economy. But even though loan cancellation is now at the center of public debate, it’s far from a done deal. We need to continue to fight so that visionary proposals can become actual policy. “Our privatized debt-for-education system has got to go,” my Debt Collective co-founder Thomas Gokey said at the press conference where Sanders, Omar and Jayapal introduced the bill. Gokey warned that the proposed legislation is unlikely to become law unless the public turns up the heat. “No big change like this ever happens without mass mobilization; without ordinary people getting organized to take direct action and engage in civil disobedience,” he said.

    • How We Tallied Medical Debt Lawsuits and Wage Garnishments in Memphis

      We set out to determine how aggressively Memphis, Tennessee, hospitals, including market leader Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, use the courts to collect on unpaid medical debts. Once it became apparent that Methodist filed more lawsuits against patients and proportionately more garnishment orders, we also wanted to know how many Methodist employees have had their wages garnished by Methodist. Finally, we compared Methodist’s financial assistance policy with those of other hospitals across Tennessee and the country.

    • Intergenerational Warfare Is a Scam—We Need to Expand Social Security and End Student Debt

      President Franklin Roosevelt famously remarked about attacks on Social Security, “It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them.” We can see that strategy at work today. The “tyrants” are the billionaire class, ideologically opposed to contributing their fair share to the common good, and the politicians they finance. Those powerful forces are working surreptitiously to frame a narrative that so-called greedy geezers are to blame, selfishly taking for themselves at the expense of their grandchildren. Former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY), who has used the term “greedy geezer” so often that many think he coined the term, said about seniors fighting cuts to Social Security, “[W]ho are the people howling and bitching the most? The people over 60… Those people… don’t care a whit about their grandchildren… not a whit.” The goal of Simpson and his billionaire cronies is to convince younger generations to fight older generations over scraps, rather than joining together to demand more. A recent Twitter kerfuffle exemplifies the strategy to “delude their victims into fighting their battles for them.” Earlier this month, a story aired on NBC Nightly News about the Senior Citizen Education Program at the University of Minnesota. This program allows senior citizens to take college courses for only $10 a credit. Many people, particularly on Twitter, were outraged at the story. Why, they asked, are seniors taking classes for a nominal fee while young people are buried under a mountain of student debt? That’s the wrong question. The right question is, how can Americans of all generations come together to fight for greater economic security for all of us? That includes expanded Social Security; tuition-free college and cancellation of student debt. The truth is that younger workers are going to rely on Social Security even more than today’s retirees. The truth is that seniors are better off if their grandchildren can start their adult lives debt-free.

    • Kevin Kumashiro on Student Debt Cancellation

      This week on CounterSpin: Yes, US families have some $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. Yes, this debt has increased tremendously in recent years as a result of policy. Yes, student loan debt curtails opportunities, imposes hardship and drains the economy. But the New York Times wants you to know something: “Cancelling Student Loan Debt Doesn’t Make Problems Disappear.” The Times would have you believe their problem with debt forgiveness plans offered by various politicians is that they “would not eliminate future student debt—not even close.” Thus the paper seeks credit for saying the called-for changes don’t go far enough to change the status quo that, with their pish-poshing, they are implicitly defending. The piece ends with a virtual call to calm down, since “Although the nation’s $1.6 trillion outstanding student loan balance is shocking in the aggregate, it’s composed of many different kinds of borrowers and many different academic programs.”

    • Krasnoyarsk student expelled from university for thesis on regional government debt

      The thesis pointed to Accounts Chamber figures that showed the region’s government debts rose from 1.6 billion rubles in 2008 (then about $64 million) to 68.7 billion rubles in 2015 (then about $1.15 billion). When Miroshnichenko attempted to defend the thesis, university officials sent it to regional governor Viktor Tomenko and then expelled Miroshnichenko. After he complained to prosecutors and was reinstated, the student said, his advisor began criticizing his work despite initial positive feedback, and he received a failing grade.

    • America’s Biggest Economic Problem Isn’t China

      Xi Jinping might possibly agree this weekend when he meets Donald Trump on further steps to bring down China’s trade imbalance with the US, giving Trump a face-saving way of ending his trade war. But Xi won’t agree to change China’s economic system. Why should he? The American economic system is focused on maximizing shareholder returns. And it’s achieving that goal. Last Friday, the S&P 500 notched a new all-time high. But average Americans have seen no significant gains in their incomes for four decades, adjusted for inflation. China’s economic system, by contrast, is focused on maximizing China. And it’s achieving that goal. Forty years ago China was still backward and agrarian. Today it’s the world’s second-largest economy, home to the world’s biggest auto industry and some of the world’s most powerful technology companies. Over the last four decades, hundreds of millions of Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty.

    • Benefits for All or Just Some? Sanders Student Debt Plan Highlights 2020 Debate Over Universal vs. Means-Tested Programs

      “I believe in universality,” Sanders said when asked whether his free college plan would also apply to the rich. “That means if [President Donald] Trump wants to send his grandchildren to public school, he has the right to do that.” Sanders’s remarks brought into sharp focus an “internal rift” among Democratic presidential contenders over the most economically and politically effective way to design government programs, the Washington Post’s Jeff Stein reported Wednesday. While Sanders has long been a proponent of universal programs like free public college and Medicare for All—which benefit everyone regardless of income—other Democratic White House hopefuls have displayed a preference for means-tested policies that are tailored toward low-income or middle-class Americans, while disqualifying those in higher income brackets.

    • This Memphis Hospital System Flouts IRS Rules by Not Publicly Posting Financial Assistance Policies

      Nonprofit hospitals across the country offer patients vastly different financial assistance with their bills, but one rule applies to all of them: They must publicize those policies in areas accessible to the public, including the emergency room. When a person walks into a hospital, “you want to be able to see it,” said Marcus Owens, an attorney who used to run the IRS’ tax exempt organization division. “Having it on the underside of a desk wouldn’t be sufficient.” But at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s five Shelby County emergency rooms, there were no signs on the walls or displays that made reference to financial assistance during visits a reporter made to the ERs between May 28 and June 1. The visits were a part of MLK50 and ProPublica’s examination of how Methodist aggressively uses the court system to pursue patient debts.

    • As progressives call for student debt cancellation, loan companies flex influence in Washington

      Mere days before the first Democratic primary debate, senators and presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders (I-Vt..) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have unveiled dueling policies to tackle the trillion-dollar crisis of student debt. Flanked by progressive representatives outside the Capitol Monday, Sanders revealed his plan to cancel all $1.6 trillion of outstanding student debt and make all public colleges and universities free of tuition and fees. Warren’s proposal would eliminate tuition and other costs at public universities nationwide, but would only cancel the loans of debtors making less than $250,000 a year, an estimated total of $640 billion. Regardless of their differences, both proposals face fierce opposition from a number of financial firms that have fought to prevent meaningful student loan reform. These companies — student loan lenders and servicers alike — contribute hundreds of thousands to key congressional leaders through PACs and spend millions on lobbying annually to stymie pro-borrower initiatives and maintain a profitable status quo. The overwhelming majority — 89 percent — of educational loans are direct loans, with the Department of Education serving as direct lender to eligible students, setting the interest rate and terms, and disbursing funds. The remainder are provided through private financial institutions, with the majority coming from only three companies: Wells Fargo, Discover Company and Sallie Mae. Regardless of whether a loan is private or public, it is likely serviced by a different company that serves as a middleman between lender and borrower. These companies hande billing, refinancing, loan forgiveness, bankruptcy and other issues on behalf of the government. More than 90 percent of federal loans are managed by just three companies: Navient, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency and Nelnet, who bought out rival Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation in 2017. These companies profit by securing lucrative federal contracts and by earning commissions on each loan serviced. Servicers accused of misconduct

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald Trump, Rapist-In-Chief

      We’ve heard this 2005 clip of then-reality TV star Donald Trump so many times, it’s hard to remember just how shocking it was when we first heard it in October 2016. Like the backdrop din of car alarms, we’ve become so used to the weekly revelations of deviant Trump behavior that we barely look up anymore—just another alarm we’ve trained ourselves to ignore. For Trump, that’s fortunate, because just last Friday, a highly respected journalist revealed that she had been raped by Donald Trump. He followed the same modus operandi he had described in the 2005 Access Hollywood tape. The unsolicited “like a magnet” kissing? Check. The sudden “grab ‘em by the pussy”? Check. Sadly, the assault described by writer E. Jean Carroll progressed beyond Trump’s Access Hollywood tape to first-degree sexual assault. According to her account, published in New York magazine, Trump assaulted her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman.

    • Don’t Expect the Impeachment Process to Bring Real Justice

      Robert Mueller, in response to a subpoena, will soon appear before Congress to answer questions about his investigation into Donald Trump and Russian election interference. In anticipation of this — and in the interests of lowering expectations — it is worth recalling that only a few weeks ago, after keeping his mouth closed for more than two years, Mueller appeared before the press — no questions allowed — to restate the conclusions within his report. There was hope, again, that Mueller might shock the system and explicitly call Trump out for the laws he has broken. That hope, however, was quickly dashed when Mueller stuck to his script. Yes, Russian officials intervened in the election; yes, the matter of obstruction was fully scrutinized; but there was nothing he would do: “We concluded that we would — would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime.” For good measure, he blew a kiss to Attorney General William Barr, saying he did “not question the attorney general’s good faith.” All in all, it was an artful statement, amenable to many interpretations, but made clear Mueller was not going to get involved in accusing Trump of crimes. He may be fine with someone else doing so, but it won’t be him. Given the jolt he could have delivered, Mueller’s performance was as restrained as it was infuriating. Anyone understanding Mueller’s history ought not to have been surprised. He is a high-level bureaucrat known for fealty to the ruling structures he’s worked for. A man who served as FBI director for George W. Bush during the adoption of the repressive PATRIOT Act, who chimed in with his own support for the Iraq War of 2003, and commanded his people in the Bureau to stay away from the CIA’s torturing — not stop it mind you, just to stay away. When asked about this directive at a hearing in 2008, Mueller, careful to not use the word “torture,” allowed that there were certain CIA “activities that [we] were concerned might not be appropriate.” As for what he did about it as FBI director, he explained, “We would over a period of time say, ‘look we’ve noticed behavior that may be questionable’ and report it to the agency, that particular agency may be governed by legal opinions that are not applicable to us.” All of which sounds strikingly familiar to the rationale for his dodge in pursuing Trump. When it comes to bureaucratic politics, Robert Mueller is a careful man, if not a particularly brave one.

    • Florida Governor Introduces a Poll Tax, Curtailing Amendment 4

      The law forces returning citizens with criminal records to pay for the right to vote. On November 6, 2018, nearly 65 percent of Florida voters—more than 5 million people—resoundingly approved Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to over a million of their fellow citizens. By passing Amendment 4, Floridians successfully ushered in the largest expansion of the electorate in nearly 50 years. The people of Florida did it on their own, using a constitutional ballot initiative, to finally achieve change where Florida politicians had failed. Instead of celebrating this progress, Florida politicians are trying to destroy it. The Florida legislature passed, and today the Governor signed, unconstitutional legislation that requires people who are eligible to vote under Amendment 4 to pay the exorbitant court costs, fines, and fees levied against them at the time of their conviction, or lose their right to vote. In turn, the ACLU and partners filed a federal challenge seeking to block the law. The new law creates two classes of returning citizens: a group wealthy enough to afford their voting rights and another group who cannot afford to vote. But the right to vote should not come with a price tag. Florida’s new law is un-American and unconstitutional.

    • Mueller to Testify Publicly Before Two House Committees

      Former special counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify publicly before Congress on July 17 after Democrats issued subpoenas to compel him to appear, the chairmen of two House committees announced. Mueller’s unusual back-to-back testimony in front of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees is likely to be the most highly anticipated congressional hearing in years, particularly given Mueller’s resolute silence throughout his two-year investigation into Russian contacts with President Donald Trump’s campaign . Mueller never responded to angry, public attacks from Trump, nor did he ever personally join his prosecutors in court or make announcements of criminal charges from the team. His sole public statement came from the Justice Department podium last month as he announced his departure, when he sought to explain his decision to not indict Trump or to accuse him of criminal conduct. He also put lawmakers on notice that he did not ever intend to say more than what he put in the 448-page report.

    • ‘Fiasco for Democracy’ as Right-Wing Supreme Court Gives Green Light to Partisan Gerrymandering

      In a decision voting rights advocates warned could open the floodgates for even more extreme and undemocratic redistricting than what is already in place throughout the nation, the right-wing Supreme Court effectively condoned partisan gerrymandering Thursday by ruling that the practice is beyond its constitutional reach.

    • Supreme Court Refuses to Stop Partisan Gerrymandering

      The Supreme Court has brought an unfortunate end to the years-long fight to end extreme partisan gerrymandering. On Thursday, the court ruled that federal courts have no role to play in disputes over maps that were drawn on a purely partisan basis. The ruling is a setback for democracy, undoing a strong, recent string of victories by voters in trial courts around the nation. By refusing to let the federal judiciary tackle this critical issue, the court has set the stage for more attempts at extreme gerrymandering and raised the importance of enacting other reforms. Chief among them is H.R. 1, which was passed by the House in March but is being blocked in the Senate. It would ban partisan gerrymandering and require independent commissions to draw congressional lines in every state.

    • States Move to Take Over Fight Against Gerrymandering

      The battle for political advantage in state capitols is poised to become more intense after the U.S. Supreme Court declared that federal judges have no role in settling disputes over partisan gerrymandering. The ruling this week could empower Republicans and Democrats who hold full control of state legislatures and governor’s offices to become even more aggressive in drawing districts to their benefit after the 2020 census. It could shift legal challenges against partisan gerrymandering to state courts and prompt more efforts to reform redistricting procedures through amendments to state constitutions. Ultimately, it also could mean that voters upset with the party in power must seek change the old-fashioned way — by electing different lawmakers, no matter how difficult that might seem in heavily gerrymandered districts.

    • ‘These Revelations Really Show the Election Was Fraudulent’ – CounterSpin interview with Brian Mier on Brazilian election fraud

      Readers learned that “friends and colleagues” described Moro as “deeply moral”. And he’s impartial: The Post cites Moro telling an audience, “The judge, as you all know, only judges following the law, following the facts and following the evidence.” The Post and others raised an eyebrow when Moro released secretly taped phone calls between then-President Dilma Rousseff and previous President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in which they spoke of Lula taking a government post. And at least once, the paper quoted someone calling Lava Jato a “witch hunt.” But Sérgio Moro and his anti-corruption crusade remained the heroes of the piece for years, even as, Lula’s imprisonment having cleared the field, fascist Jair Bolsonaro rose to take Brazil’s presidency—and then turned around and gave the famously impartial judge who made it possible a newly created, unprecedentedly powerful position in his government, and a promise of a spot on the Supreme Court. Interesting, then, to see how US media deal with exposés reported this month by Glenn Greenwald and others at the Intercept Brasil, including internal discussions of the Lava Jato task force that do more than suggest that Moro and his team were not the above-it-all ethical crusaders we were told about.

    • Rejecting White House Claims as ‘Contrived,’ Supreme Court Blocks Census Citizenship Question… For Now

      “The Trump administration’s attempt to politicize and manipulate this fundamental pillar of our democracy has failed. Our communities will be counted,” tweeted the ACLU. “This ruling is a victory for immigrants and communities of color across America. It is a victory for democracy itself.” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, argued the case before the high court. In a statement Thursday, Ho said that “this case has never been about a line on a form. It is about whether everyone in America counts. This ruling means they do.” The Supreme Court heard arguments for the case in April, after federal courts in New York and California ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s attempt to insert a citizenship question into the next census—which will be used to draw political voting maps—violated the Administrative Procedures Act. Critics charged that Ross’s effort was an illegal attempt to intimidate immigrant communities and undercount people of color to create an electoral advantage for the GOP. Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday joined with the court’s four liberal justices in the 5-4 decision, which denied a citizenship question for now while still granting the administration another opportunity to argue before a lower court its rationale for such an addition to the 2020 census.

    • Supreme Court Allows Partisan Gerrymandering, Blocks Census Query

      In two politically charged rulings, the Supreme Court dealt a huge blow Thursday to efforts to combat the drawing of electoral districts for partisan gain and put a hold on the Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. On the court’s final day of decisions before a summer break, the conservative justices ruled that federal courts have no role to play in the dispute over the practice known as partisan gerrymandering. The decision could embolden political line-drawing for partisan gain when state lawmakers undertake the next round of redistricting following the 2020 census.

    • Kushner Seeks to Complete Nakba: a Note to Israeli Ambassador Danon

      On Monday June 24th, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon laid out his case for Palestinian surrender to Israeli settler colonialism, white supremacy, apartheid and genocide in the land between the river Jordan, the Mediterranean Sea, and beyond. Danon’s article is impressive as a condensed version of Zionist propagandaand historical revisionism. He pleads with Palestinian leadership to submit to a “new approach” and details his reasoning for why the United States, with its economic, diplomatic, political, military and ideological ties to Israel should be, yet again, trusted by the Palestinians in forging a path toward their liberation.

    • Jared Kushner’s Bahrain Conference Won’t Work

      Twenty-five years ago, Vice President Al Gore asked the two of us to head up a project he was launching to promote Palestinian economic development in support of the still fledgling Oslo peace process. Our effort was called Builders for Peace and brought together an impressive group of American Jewish and Arab American business leaders. We understood that economic prosperity alone would not bring peace. That could be achieved only through a negotiated political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the same time, we realized that improvements in the Palestinians’ dire economic situation couldn’t wait until the end of the five-year period envisioned by the Oslo Accords. If the process were to be sustained, Palestinians needed to experience the benefits of peace even as negotiations moved forward. Given this background, one might conclude that we would be in favor of the U.S.-sponsored Peace to Prosperity Conference set for Tuesday and Wednesday in Bahrain. We are not. Our experiences during the three years we co-chaired Builders for Peace and what we have seen develop in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship in the intervening years have led us to conclude that the conference is an ill-conceived sideshow that will lead only to a dead end with neither prosperity nor peace as the outcomes. Our delegation was present at the first international economic summit in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1994. We will never forget the optimism of that gathering. It was so promising to see business and political leaders from across the Arab world, coming together with Israelis, Palestinians and Americans to discuss investment plans to support peace.

    • Hunting for a solution? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

      It seems apt that it was at this week’s ‘digital hustings’ for the Conservative Party leadership that Jeremy Hunt unilaterally came out in favour of online voting. Or at least, that is what elements of the press and Twitterati reported. What Hunt actually said was (slightly) more nuanced than a straightforward endorsement: “The big innovation that we need is to introduce online voting…if we can book out holidays online, surely we can find a way that is fool proof to have online voting, and that is the way the world is going, and I think that would encourage much more participation in our democracy.” There are four things to unpack in that statement that illustrate some core concerns about using the internet to help run elections.

    • Ingush government head who resigned after mass protests receives federal deputy defense minister post

      Sources close to Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, the embattled former governor of Ingushetia, have said Yevkurov will receive a federal government post in place of the regional one he quit yesterday. The sources told Kommersant that Yevkurov has been appointed as a deputy to Sergey Shoigu, Russia’s federal defense minister.

    • Kamala Harris Is Everything the Establishment Wants in a Politician

      California Senator Kamala Harris won the Democratic presidential debate Thursday night. It was not a close contest. She will win every debate she enters during this election cycle. If she becomes the nominee, she will win every debate with President Trump. Night two of the debates was just as vapid and ridiculous as night one. Candidates interrupted and talked over each other a lot, questions about foreign policy were avoided like the plague to prevent NBC viewers from thinking critically about the mechanics of empire, and Eric Swalwell kept talking despite everyone in the universe desperately wanting him not to. Buttigieg and Gillibrand did alright, Bernie played the same note he’s been playing for decades, and everyone was reminded how bad Joe Biden is at talking and thinking. Biden has been treated kindly by polls and regarded as a “frontrunner” in this race exclusively because for the last decade he hasn’t had to do anything other than be associated with Barack Obama. Now that he’s had to step out of that insulated role and interact with reality again, everyone’s seeing the same old garbage right-wing Democrat who sucks at making himself look appealing just as badly as he did in his last two presidential campaigns. By the end of the night, even Michael Bennet was slapping him around.

    • Reflections on Abbie Hoffman and Joshua Furst’s Novel, Revolutionaries

      oshua Furst’s novel Revolutionaries, which offers a fictional portrait of Abbie Hoffman, was published in April 2019 and was reviewed in the New York Times and the New Yorker. In the novel, the Abbie character is named Lenny Snyder. His son, Fred, tells his story. I read the reviews before I read the novel; the reviews colored my view of the characters and the plot. It wasn’t for fun or entertainment that I read Lenny’s story, but rather because my 1996 biography of Abbie Hoffman, For The Hell of It, will be translated into French and published in France in 2020. Curiously, or perhaps not, more biographies have been written about Hoffman than about any other white radical in the Sixties. Also more novels have been written about him than any of his contemporaries and his comrades. [...] Revolutionaries makes me wonder all over again about the ethics of fiction writing, and about what Hunter S. Thompson called the literary “cannibalization” of the lives of real people.

    • Warren Wins Praise for Plan to End ‘Rigged Game’ Plaguing US Elections by Expanding Voting Rights and Improving Security

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled on Tuesday her plan to reform the United States’ electoral system—a vision that one observer wrote would “totally transform” U.S. elections by making them far more accessible and equitable for all Americans. In an email to supporters and a post at Medium, Warren announced her latest policy proposal “to strengthen our democracy.” The plan includes provisions to outlaw gerrymandering, pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote, update and standardize states’ voting systems, and make it easier for Americans to vote by declaring Election Day a federal holiday and expanding access through other reforms. The reforms would force the government to stop treating voting “like it’s one of the least important things we do,” the Massachusetts Democrat wrote. “Democracy hangs on the idea that whoever gets the most votes wins,” she added. “Politicians are supposed to compete over how many voters they can persuade, not how many they can disqualify or demoralize. And we have a solemn obligation to secure our elections from those who would try to undermine them. That’s why the Constitution gives Congress the tools to regulate the administration of federal elections. It’s time to pick up those tools and use them.”

    • Tiffany Cabán Claims Victory in Close Queens DA Race

      The national fight between left-wing and moderate Democrats played out again Tuesday in New York City, where the closely watched Democratic primary for Queens district attorney was tantalizingly close deep into the vote count. Late on election day, political newcomer Tiffany Caban, a public defender who says the criminal justice system is rigged against the poor, held a narrow lead over Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, a seasoned politician who was the favorite of the state’s Democratic Party establishment. At Caban’s election night headquarters, raucous supporters celebrated as she claimed victory. “When we started this thing, they said I was too young. They said I didn’t look like a district attorney. They said we could not build a movement from the grass roots. They said we could not win. But we did it y’all,” she said. But the race might not be decided soon.

    • ‘Shocking Blow to the Queens Democratic Machine’ as Progressive Tiffany Cabán Declares Victory in District Attorney Race

      “They said I was too young,” Cabán declared during her victory party. “They said I didn’t look like a district attorney. They said we could not build a movement from the grassroots. They said we could not win.” “But we did it, y’all,” said Cabán, who is on track to become the first openly queer district attorney of Queens. While Cabán’s establishment-backed opponent Melinda Katz—the Queens borough president who benefited from a torrent of campaign cash from the real estate industry—did not concede defeat Tuesday night, Cabán’s campaign expressed confidence that the remaining ballots will not be enough to swing the election. As of this writing, Cabán is ahead by just over 1,000 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting. If Cabán wins, she is heavily favored to defeat Republican Daniel Kogan in the November general election. “I am a 31-year-old, queer Latina public defender whose parents grew up in the Woodside Housing projects,” Cabán said Tuesday night. “And I decided to run. I ran because for too long, too many communities in Queens hadn’t had a fair shot in our criminal-justice system.”

    • Lead architect in Yekaterinburg excludes square defended in mass protests from list of possible sites for cathedral construction

      Andrey Molokov, the lead architect for the city of Yekaterinburg, has created a list of five potential locations for a planned cathedral to honor the city’s patron saint. Previous plans to build the cathedral on a popular public square triggered widely publicized mass protests.

    • After Demanding ‘Human Decency, Plain and Simple,’ Highlights Magazine Commended for Powerful Rebuke of Trump’s Abuse of Children

      “When a 72-year-old, apolitical children’s magazine feels the need to speak out you know we are lost as a country.”

    • New Republican site WinRed seeks small donors to compete with ActBlue

      Republicans launched a new fundraising platform this week, aiming to attract small-dollar donors and convert President Donald Trump’s popularity into success for other GOP candidates. WinRed, which officially went live on Monday, has been hailed as the conservative alternative to ActBlue, the site that Democrats used to raise more than $1 billion during the 2018 midterm cycle. The site also goes beyond its liberal alternative in collecting data on donors, which it will add to Republicans’ already-robust Data Trust. The premise of WinRed is simple: The site is a conduit for donations, allowing individuals to contribute to a number of conservative candidates or causes. Individual donors may give to their favorite candidate, split contributions among several candidates or set up recurring donations for a period of time. Once a user makes a donation, the site suggests other candidates or causes the donor might want to consider. The platform is a joint venture of the Trump Campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Senate and House GOP party committees. It was immediately praised by conservative outside groups, including the Congressional Leadership Fund.

    • ‘It is a Stain on Our Country’: Warren Joins Protest Outside Child Detention Facility in Florida

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of the frontrunners for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, joined a protest in front of a migrant detention center Wednesday morning—hours before she was expected to join nine other members of her party for the first primary debate. “There are a lot of different ways that we get in the fight,” Warren said to supporters on social media. “And one of them is that you show up.”

    • Juan González: There Are Refugees in Desperate Need of Help in Airports Across the United States

      Co-host Juan González was at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport this past Sunday, where he encountered Central American refugee families recently released from detention centers. The families, who were from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, had been left there by Immigration and Customs Enforcement without guidance or a translator to help them navigate their flight information. The families were likely traveling to cities where they could reunite with loved ones already in living in the U.S. In the case of the Guatemalan families, most of them didn’t speak Spanish, but indigenous languages. None of them spoke English. They had no money and received no assistance from American Airlines employees. Several airport staff, mostly maintenance workers and others, said they have been trying to assist the stranded Central American refugees, providing them with food, blankets and other aid. This is a common scene at major airports around the country.

    • A Grim Border Drowning Underlines Peril Facing Many Migrants

      The man and his 23-month-old daughter lay face down in shallow water along the bank of the Rio Grande, his black shirt hiked up to his chest with the girl tucked inside. Her arm was draped around his neck suggesting she clung to him in her final moments. The searing photograph of the sad discovery of their bodies on Monday, captured by journalist Julia Le Duc and published by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, highlights the perils faced by mostly Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty and hoping for asylum in the United States.

    • Mass Arrests, Power Grabs and the Politics of Fear

      How do you persuade a populace to embrace totalitarianism, that goose-stepping form of tyranny in which the government has all of the power and “we the people” have none? You persuade the people that the menace they face (imaginary or not) is so sinister, so overwhelming, so fearsome that the only way to surmount the danger is by empowering the government to take all necessary steps to quash it, even if that means allowing government jackboots to trample all over the Constitution. This is how you use the politics of fear to persuade a freedom-loving people to shackle themselves to a dictatorship. It works the same way every time. The government’s overblown, extended wars on terrorism, drugs, violence and illegal immigration have been convenient ruses used to terrorized the populace into relinquishing more of their freedoms in exchange for elusive promises of security. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    • With the Tired and Hungry and Scared, Then and Now

      After Oscar Alberto Martínez and his 23-month-old daughter Angie Valeria and the rest – it turns out they were just two of dozens who’ve died in the Rio Grande this year thanks to state-sponsored barbarism that now even asylum officials oppose – we took a truth and beauty break with Willie Nelson. At a still-smooth-as-silk 86 years old, the great troubadour just released a poignant, mournful video with his recording of Guy Clark’s “Immigrant Eyes,” part of Willie’s new album “Ride Me Back Home.” Moving from Ellis Island to today’s horrors, Willie honors those pilgrims “bound by the dream that they shared,” then and now, “on fire with the hope of it all.”

    • Activism of the Millennial Generation

      On this episode, “Rallying Over Balloting: The Origins of Millennial Activism.” Nolan Higdon, university lecturer of media studies and history and cohost of the Along the Line podcast, joins the program again; he discusses his latest research with cohosts Mickey Huff and Chase Palmieri about the distinct approaches to politics and activism of the Millennial generation.

    • ‘I Think He’s Not the Pragmatic Choice’: AOC Joins Other Critics of Biden Ahead of Democratic Debate

      Progressives, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, continued to hammer former Vice President Joe Biden on his record and electability as the frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary prepares to take the debate stage for the first time Thursday. Ocasio-Cortez, the popular freshman congresswoman from The Bronx, said in an interview with Vogue published Wednesday that the popular view of Biden’s electability stems from a desire to reach a mythical supporter of President Donald Trump, a “dude in a diner” that the party appears ready to do anything to court. “If you pick the perfect candidate like Joe Biden to win that guy in the diner, the cost will make you lose because you will depress turnout as well,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “And that’s exactly what happened to 2016. We picked the logically fitting candidate, but that candidate did not inspire the turnout that we needed.” The comments weren’t a huge surprise coming from the left-leaning congresswoman, who identifies as a democratic socialist and has engaged in spats with centrist think tank Third Way in recent days. And she’s hardly the only progressive criticizing Biden and the Democratic Party’s allegiance to the former vice president. Nathan Robinson, writing in The Guardian on Sunday, took aim at Biden’s fetishization of bipartisanship and common ground.

    • Mitch ‘The Grim Reaper’ McConnell: Meet the Man Who Ruined the Senate

      On Thursday, the House is expected to vote on election security legislation (H.R.2272) to strengthen the security of ballot boxes, voter rolls and vote counts against future attacks on our elections by foreign adversaries. The legislation is important to efforts to protect the integrity of the 2020 national elections, which intelligence agencies have said are likely to be attacked again by foreign countries, just as Russia did in 2016. These efforts, however, will be met by a familiar refrain heard throughout 2019 — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says he won’t schedule the legislation. McConnell is literally holding hostage almost all bills passed by the House this year and he has scheduled minimal legislative work on bills offered by Senators, including bipartisan bills. Instead of legislating, McConnell is spending most of the Senate’s time ramming through President Trump’s executive branch and judicial nominees, regardless of their qualifications, after having blocked an unprecedented number of judicial nominations made by President Obama. McConnell has mockingly labeled himself the Senate’s “Grim Reaper,” but that is precisely what he is as he kills off the Senate’s constitutional role as a legislative body.

    • Only the Best People

      Today’s small shard of justice and redress was the spectacularly squalid spectacle of the perp walk of Paul Manafort at his arraignment in New York on Trump-proof state charges of mortgage fraud. The one-time Trump campaign chair and decades-long purveyor of guns, Ukrainian oligarchies and all-round skeeviness, 70, arrived at the lower Manhattan courthouse in handcuffs and prison garb. Presumably thanks to prison’s abundance of carbs and scarcity of Grecian Formula, he looked noticeably chubbier and older than his crass glory days when he owned seven homes, spent millions on renovations, landscaping and electronic toys, blithely paid his mistress’ $9,000-a-month rent, and paraded around in over a million bucks worth of tacky finery including an infamous $16,000 ostrich jacket, made from “numerous juvenile ostriches whose throats were slit and whose feathers were plucked out,” widely derided as making him look like “Mariah Carey in 2002 on MTV Cribs.” All his goodies, Robert Mueller found, were bought by millions in dirty, off-shore, pro-Russian money, which is why he was convicted last August on eight federal counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and money laundering – jurors deadlocked on 10 other counts – and sentenced to over seven years in prison.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • What Happened to Obscenity?

      The notion of obscenity has lost its subversive magic. It once signified pornography, something in word, image or physical representation that erotically excited, that was illicit, immoral, lewd, unacceptable if not illegal, smut. Today, obscenity is applied to a laundry-list of sex-related law-enforcement actions, often little to do with the erotically perverse. Three recent news reports are illustrative of how term “obscenity” is now (mis)used. One describes a Florida man getting busted for sporting an “I Eat Ass” sticker on his truck; another involves a couple having sex in a Louisiana courthouse; and a third involves a Houston County, TX, man busted for possessing too many sex toys. Numerous other stories about child pornography and sex trafficking add to an almost-endless list of “obscenity” reports. The constitution-scholar Geoffrey Stone acknowledged in Time magazine, “the legal concept of ‘obscenity’ has largely evaporated in recent decades because of the impact of technology, most notably the Internet. Today, prosecutions for the sale, distribution, or exhibition of obscenity have virtually disappeared.”

    • Antisemitism: what does that even mean?

      So why is AS in the political lexicon if it is no longer acceptable in the scientific lexicon? Are we not supposed to have a science based empirical paradigm? I would say that it’s principal usage is as an attack vector on perceived socialism and character masking of capitalism itself – in its current expanded usage and iteration. It is more than just covering the heinous war crimes and apartheid of the Israeli state and Zionist venture. It’s usage has been extended (I called it ‘definition creep’ of the IHRA) to defend the endemic and structural racism of capitalism itself. It is a morbid symptom of the move to curtail free speech, stifle debate and dissensus, and control the public fora …which can be extended to 9/11 truth and anti-capitalist critique – specifically of any cabal or oligarchical domination – as well as defending Israel itself. It can basically mean anything: when allied with the pernicious and weasel worded 11 ‘working definitions’. For me, the political universe of discourse is largely moribund. It is a capitalist-captured endocolonisation of any real discourse of freedom and liberation. And ‘democracy’: you can forget democracy …policy is about consensus narrative construction, behavioural change, and conformity. There is no such ideology as anti-capitalist ideology any more …there is only capitalist obedience conformity or capitalist obedience conformity binary constructivisms to choose from. One where you cannot critically unmask the core truths of capitalist institutional racism without being at risk of being branded a racist.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The History of NSA and FBI Snooping and Cyber-surveillance

      The FBI was founded in 1908 with the goal of protecting the rights and liberties of United States citizens while enforcing criminal law throughout the country. Their somewhat vague mission statement gives the FBI a large amount of latitude to carry out their tasks, which include everything from stopping organized crime to preventing terrorism. The original benefit to having an FBI is access to government intelligence and resources along with the ability to cross state lines without jurisdiction issues (something local police forces can’t do). The NSA was founded in 1952 and is responsible for global monitoring, information collecting, and protecting U.S. communications networks. This is carried out through surveillance efforts that include everything from physically bugging electronic systems to wiretapping and monitoring internet activity. The NSA’s job description is even less precise than the FBI’s, allowing it to bend an enormous number of rules in the name of protecting U.S. citizens and the integrity of the U.S. government. As cliché as it may sound, most of what the FBI and NSA can do is classified. The agencies operate under extreme secrecy, which has led to countless conspiracy theories over the years. FBI agents are spotted wearing dark glasses loitering in public parks, for example, and the NSA has electronic bugs placed in every commercially produced smoke detector. While there may have been truth to some of these rumors, nothing compares to the paranoia brought about by the internet. When ordinary people started using computers, going online, and carrying cell phones in their pockets, the NSA and the FBI took notice. Trillions of pieces of personal data were uploaded on a regular basis, all by willing participants using websites and social media. Tools were developed to capture and collect this information, which kicked off the age of data snooping and mass surveillance.

    • Russian censors send Internet providers data request under Internet isolation law that hasn’t yet taken effect

      Regional divisions of Roskomnadzor, Russia’s censorship and media regulation agency, have sent Internet service providers letters asking for information about their traffic transfer points, technology specialist Philipp Kulin wrote on his Telegram channel. One letter from the Northwest Federal District’s division said the request was made “for the purpose of fulfilling provisions of” Russia’s new Internet isolation law. Kulin wrote that providers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Tomsk have received similar letters.

    • Violent Voyeurism: Surveillance, Spyware and Human Rights

      Surveillance is merely a variant of violent voyeurism, the human behind the camera or visual apparatus observing behaviour in a setting, often private. Its premise is privacy’s violation; its working assumption is privacy’s irrelevance; officially tolerated such a concept is unofficially repudiated. Studies on surveillance do as much to reveal its problems as accommodate them: the great, all seeing commissar of email, letters and conversations remains persuasive. Those who have put pen to paper on this have not always been very sympathetic. Judith Jarvis Thomson tended to see matters of privacy as a secondary interest: privacy rights are bundled up, as it were, with others, a second order of concern. The violation of privacy comes after more salient breaches. But mass market surveillance, much of it manufactured in the private sector, the ubiquity of spyware, and the ease with which such material can be acquired, has eclipsed such quibbles. The innovations on the market have proven to be devastatingly effective. Canadian privacy research group Citizen Lab’s work in this field has shed light on a range of manufacturers pushing such products as FinFisher, the Remote Control System (RCS) of Hacking Team, and Israel’s own NSO Group’s Pegasus. As Sarah McKune and Ron Deibert observed in 2017, “business is booming for a specialized market to facilitate the digital attacks, monitoring, and intelligence-cum-evidence-gathered conducted by government entities and their proxies.” Pegasus spyware remains one of the NSO Group’s most damnably and dangerously effective products, used to target individuals in 45 countries with impunity. Human rights activists such as Ahmed Mansoor can testify to its spear-phishing qualities, having been a target of various SMS messages with links intended to infect his iPhone. Had he actually clicked on those links instead of passing them on to experts at Citizen Lab and the cybersecurity firm Lookout for examination, surveillance software would have been installed.

    • Unhappy With Social Media? Join Wikipedia Co-Founder In Social Media Strike

      Larry Sanger, the co-founder of Wikipedia, has called for a social media strike to demand decentralized social media platforms. He has urged users who are unhappy with social media websites to boycott the platforms on July 4 and 5 (at least one day). The motive behind the strike is to demand big corporations to give users back their privacy, control over data, and user experience.

    • As World Reliance on Biometric Technology Grows, So Does Opposition

      Sports enthusiasts heading to Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics beware: Japan intends to install hundreds of thousands of facial recognition cameras to identify everyone in attendance. The software, initially used when Tokyo hosted the Paralympic games in 2018, is meant to weed out, in real time, people suspected of being potential terrorists — and anyone with a criminal record or questionable immigration status. Japan is hardly alone in using this technology. School kids in Sweden are photographed to verify attendance. China, meanwhile, already has 176 million facial surveillance cameras and expects to have installed a total of 450 million by next year. What’s more, many department stores throughout the U.S. rely on facial recognition cameras to tag — and sometimes ban — people convicted of shoplifting. Supermarkets wishing to verify that shoppers are old enough to buy cigarettes and beer also utilize them. Yes, it sounds like a 21st century incarnation of Big Brother, but facial recognition software has been in development since the 1960s and is now ubiquitous. The technology maps an individual’s facial features using mathematical algorithms. Once stored, these images, called “faceprints,” can be used to verify a person’s identity. Photos can be taken using drones as well as more conventional cameras, from a distance of about 50 feet — something that civil libertarians charge can have a chilling impact on public protest, assembly and speech since the folks being filmed typically have no idea that this is happening.

    • Communications Ministry drafts proposal to pre-install Russian-made apps on smartphones and tablets before sale

      Russia’s Communications Ministry has developed a proposal that would amend Russian communication laws to mandate the pre-installation of Russian-made apps on mobile devices sold within the country. Vedomosti received a draft of the proposal and reported that it would soon be released for public comment. The document argues that it would provide equal access for Russian apps to the global market. The details of the plan, including the specific apps and devices involved, would be set by the Russian executive branch.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Medellín Diary: The Hermeneutics of Tear Gas

      I often tell people that Medellín’s where Blade Runner meets Mad Max, but despite the prevalence of the indigent and destitute, the proximity of war zones, and the chokehold of organized crime, the middle-class bubble in which I live is rarely punctured. Right now, the sinister thwacking of helicopter rotors interrupts my concentration, but for the most part the involution of Medellín’s much-touted urban miracle into a twenty-first century dystopia is something I observe from the distance afforded by professional routine. Although that routine included nine protest marches during the second semester of 2018, I missed the skirmishes between the aptly-named riot police (who cause riots) and the radical rump of masked street fighters. These confrontations were marginal to our movement and came after most of us, students and professors, had already dispersed after massive marches that shut the city center down. And they generally took place across the river from the well-heeled, genteel Universidad Nacional, where I work, at the more radically democratic Universidad de Antioquia, which, for better or worse, has an unmatched tradition of masked street fighting, and set off the nationwide strike in 2018. That was last year, however, before the Venezuelan border crisis became a geopolitical flashpoint, and Colombian and hemispheric politics shifted even more sharply to the right, as witnessed by the General Assembly of the OEA currently being held in Medellín, the focus of which is of course Venezuela. Perhaps not coincidentally, I’ve been teargassed twice this week: the first time was on June 25, outside my new, bunker-like university gate (cost: US $627,000), when students tried to block Carrera 65, a major artery running north-south near the Medellín River. They had earlier tried to block a key intersection outside the university’s other entrance near the Coca Cola bottling plant, with the result that dozens of riot police corralled students back into the university, and then entered university grounds, which is technically illegal, firing tear gas liberally from the soccer fields into classroom areas. This led students to flee through the entrance on Carrera 65, and to regroup outside of it. Not fifteen minutes had passed when the riot cops’ tank-like vehicle came tilting around the corner of a narrow street that separates the university and the neighboring ghetto, nearly running over a student. Riot police then began firing tear gas into the university at random although there was no opposition from students. Needless to say, plans for a march and vigil for martyred social movement leaders fell apart, and rage, shock, and despair replaced them. Since the Colombian government signed Peace Accords with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) in Havana in November 2016, more than 130 former FARC combatants and 700 social movement leaders have been murdered, so far with near-total impunity. Yet conditions for holding a vigil do not exist.

    • 20 Ways You Can Help Immigrants Now

      Immigrant children are dying in federal custody. Children in detention are being denied basic supplies like soap and blankets—and the Trump administration says that’s fine. Trump threatened then delayed mass immigration raids across the country, using the plan as a bargaining chip with Congress, while families are left in an ever-heightened state of uncertainty. While Congress is continually being called to act, you can take other kinds of actions to help immigrants in transition, in detention, and in crisis. Here are 20 ways.

    • The Problem With Child Detention Isn’t That It’s Private. It’s That It Exists.

      The House passed a bill on Tuesday that would allocate $4.5 billion to cover the burgeoning costs of Trump’s internment of migrant children, teens and adults along the border. While the legislation was characterized as an “aid package,” Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ihan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib voted against the bill. In a statement explaining her position, Omar stated, “Throwing more money at the very organizations committing human rights abuses — and the very Administration directing these human rights abuses — is not a solution.” This congressional drama occurred on the same day that 100 migrant children were returned to a facility in Clint, Texas, that they had been removed from on Monday due to reports of squalid and torturous conditions. It was also announced on Tuesday that the acting head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection would be stepping down amid the growing scandal around the conditions at the Clint facility. As these events unfold at a chaotic pace, tensions are high and outrage abounds. Outrage is an appropriate response to this administration’s depraved acts of violence and abuse. Unfortunately, the public narratives being spun around these events have often been woefully incomplete, and have too often echoed half-truths about the nature of what’s playing out in these despicable facilities. One of the frequently repeated oversimplifications of these atrocities involves the claim that camps that the government has established and employed along the border are private detention facilities. In reality, these facilities are operated by Border Patrol, meaning these conditions are being imposed under the direct supervision of government employees and officials. While there are private currents of profit running through all of these facilities, the same can be said of every government-run prison and detention facility in the country. While politicians often depict “for-profit” as the primary problem with incarceration in the United States, usually citing the profit motive of companies operating prisons as being responsible for the egregious conditions therein, such conditions are commonplace throughout the prison-industrial complex, which includes immigrant detention facilities. As journalist Tina Vasquez has documented for years, immigration detainees have long been subject to solitary confinement, sexual abuse, the deprivation of adequate food and hygiene products, a lack of access to critically needed medical care, premature death, and a reckless disregard for their mental health, including conditions that have encouraged suicide.

    • American Concentration Camps

      These words alone set off the alarm — the fascism alarm, you might say. Donald Trump is by no means the sole source of America’s democracy nosedive, but he’s its current, deeply troubling manifestation. Should I write this week about the wars he wants to wage or the refugee border cages he continues to fill? They’re all connected, by their domination and punishment mindset, their subservience to war profiteering and the geopolitics of empire, their ignorant certainty that American exceptionalism is the cornerstone of national security, their indifference to human suffering and need. “We were in American concentration camps. We were held under indefinite detention. We were without due process of law. We were charged without any evidence of being a threat to national security, that we were in an unassimilable race, that we would be a threat to the economy.” The speaker is Satsuki Ina, a woman who spent part of her childhood at a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II and who, with fellow childhood internees, recently stood in protest at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, a U.S. military base slated to become a detention center for 1,400 immigrant children.

    • ‘This Is the Horrendous Truth’: Images of Father and Daughter Who Drowned Seeking Refuge in US Spark Sorrow and Outrage

      A horrifying and heartbreaking series of photographs of a father and his young daughter from El Salvador who drowned while attempting to seek asylum in the United States—similar to an image of a young Syrian boy, a refugee, whose lifeless body washed ashore in Turkey in 2015—is stirring sorrow and outrage overnight, much of it directed at the Trump administration for intentionally creating conditions in which refugees simply seeking a better life are forced to put their lives at risk.

    • At #WayfairWalkout Actions, Workers Denounce Company Profiting From Child Detention

      Protesters filled Boston’s Copley Square Wednesday afternoon as part of the “Wayfair Walkout,” where the company’s employees staged a work stoppage to protest the retailer profiting from President Donald Trump’s child detention policies. Hundreds of Wayfair workers and supporters took part in the Wednesday action both in Boston and in Brunswick, Maine. The Boston Globe reported that management “indicated there will be no retaliation for employees who participate in the walkout.”

    • ACLU Sues Pennsylvania State Police, Alleging They’ve Overstepped in Acting as Immigration Authorities

      Pennsylvania State Police troopers have routinely violated the law by stopping and holding people based solely on their Latino appearance, terrifying drivers and passengers while usurping federal authority to investigate supposed immigration violations, the ACLU claims in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday. The troopers’ conduct, the suit says, has sent a clear message to communities across Pennsylvania: The state police are in the immigration-enforcement business. The 10 Latino plaintiffs — family members traveling to visit loved ones, farm workers finishing their day, a victim of a car accident — are challenging what they contend is a pattern of police misconduct that follows a common script. Latino motorists, the suit says, were pulled over by troopers who immediately sought to ascertain the immigration status of the car’s occupants.

    • House Sends Trump $4.6B Border Bill, Yielding to Senate

      The Democratic-controlled House voted Thursday to send President Donald Trump a bipartisan, Senate-drafted, $4.6 billion measure to care for migrant refugees detained at the southern border, capping a Washington skirmish in which die-hard liberals came out on the losing end in a battle with the White House, the GOP-held Senate and Democratic moderates. The emergency legislation, required to ease overcrowded, often harsh conditions at U.S. holding facilities for migrants seeking asylum, mostly from Central American nations like Honduras and El Salvador, passed by a bipartisan 305-102 vote. Trump has indicated he’ll sign it into law.

    • Yes, They’re Concentration Camps

      “The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border,” US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) pointed out in an Instagram video on June 18. Republicans quickly ducked into phone booths and emerged wearing sackcloth, ashes, yarmulkes and Star of David armbands to wail in unison that AOC was disrespecting victims of the Holocaust by comparing the concentration camps where the US government holds immigrants to the concentration camps where Hitler killed millions of Jews. There’s really only one place to begin analyzing this kerfuffle: Yes, the detention facilities in which the US government forcibly holds large numbers of immigrants are concentration camps. Yes, most Americans in this day and age associate the term with the Holocaust — and AOC certainly encouraged the comparison. But words mean things and inflammatory comparisons from either side don’t change the meaning of the term “concentration camp.” It dates from 1897 (for camps operated by the British during the Boer War in South Africa), and the practice it describes is far older than that. In America, concentration camps date to at least as early as the 1830s, when US troops rounded up Cherokee natives and confined them in such camps before forcing them west along the Trail of Tears. If you’re rounding up large numbers of people and concentrating them in camps, you’re operating concentration camps. Period.

    • Supreme Court Finds that Wilbur Ross Lied To Put Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census

      This morning, the Supreme Court told the country what we and our clients have long known: that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross provided a false reason for his decision to add a citizenship question to the Decennial Census. The court explained that the Trump administration’s stated reason for adding a citizenship question—enforcement of the Voting Rights Act—was “contrived.” The justices could not “ignore the disconnect between the decision made and the explanation given.” Bottom-line, this decision prevents addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Census based on the administration’s lies. As we explained in our complaint and as the district court’s decision found, Secretary Ross “was determined to reinstate a citizenship question from the time he entered office.” He adopted the Voting Rights Act as the reason “late in the process” after already having “made up his mind” to add a citizenship question for other, unstated reasons. Ultimately, “the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the Secretary gave for his decision.” In other words, the Secretary’s decision was a solution in search of a problem. The implications for this decision are huge for immigrants and people of color across the county whose census participation the administration sought to suppress with this question. The ruling affirms that our clients—the New York Immigration Coalition, Make the Road New York, CASA, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee—would be injured by the addition of this question. Striking this question will remove a major barrier to allowing a full count of all people residing in the United States and prevent the use of the census as a political weapon to harm the representation and funding interests of affected communities.

    • Trump Admin Moves 100 Migrant Kids Back to “Child Jail” Despite Concern over Inhumane Conditions

      The Department of Homeland Security has moved 100 migrant children back to a Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, where infants and toddlers have been locked up without adequate food, water, sanitation or medical care, with older children having to care for the younger ones. Around 300 kids were removed from the facility Monday following widespread outrage over the reports, but Customs and Border Protection said some of the children are being sent back, claiming that the facility is no longer overcrowded. Lawyers who recently visited the facility described a scene of chaos and sickness, with children unable to shower or change into clean clothes for weeks on end. We speak with Clara Long, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. She was part of the monitoring team that visited Border Patrol facilities last week, including Clint.

    • Trump’s Lies Destroy Immigrants’ Lives

      The downtown courtrooms are at the center of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant drive, designed to stir up the conservative white nationalists who constitute much of the president’s electoral base. I’ve found this bureaucratic treadmill, with an infamously huge backlog of cases, a good place to observe the president’s team at the ground level. By chance, I had picked an opportune time. Trump’s announcement, trumpeted through the internet, radio, television and the newspapers all the next day, spread terror through the country’s large communities of Central American and Mexican immigrants. Then, on June 22, the unpredictable president delayed the arrests of those scheduled for deportation. But the fear continued unabated. Trump promised to begin the arrests in two weeks unless his version of a $4.5 billion immigrant aid appropriation passes through Congress. “Every enforcement causes trauma, especially to children,” said Victor Narro, an immigrants’ rights advocate, project director at the UCLA Labor Center and a law professor at the university. “We have traumatized an entire generation of children, and this will plague them the rest of their lives.” Judy London, directing attorney of Public Counsel’s Immigrant Rights Project, told me what awaits the immigrants if the arrests and deportation orders are carried out. They will be taken to a room in the basement of the federal building and then to a detention center far from home. From there, they will be deported. Their families can give them a single suitcase for the journey.

    • Trump Is Deregulating the Nation Toward Disaster

      While Trump’s xenophobic and protectionist agenda, thankfully often blocked by the courts, has received the lion’s share of media attention, his henchmen have enacted a whole series of game changing initiatives in the area of federal regulation. Deregulating such domestic concerns as transportation, occupational health and safety, the environment is hardly new. At least since the Reagan Administration every Republican President has promised to remove regulations. What is unusual if not literally unique about the Trump presidency is the scope of the deregulatory initiatives, the willingness to expand federal power in behalf of its deregulatory agenda, and the explicit, emphasis on profits as the goal of deregulation. One little corner of the regulatory universe illustrates the logic—and the dangers—of the deregulatory agenda. The Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration has repealed one of the last Obama era regulations still on the book, a requirement that freight and passenger trains have two engineers on each. Justin Mikulka, DeSmoog Blog reported that freight rail corporations, along with the American Petroleum Institute argued that the companies running the trains are in the best position to assess safety requirements and should be given the flexibility to do so. Worker, safety, and environmental advocates maintain that modern technology makes the engineer’s job more stressful and that fatigue is a major risk factor for long distance shipments, making a second engineer indispensible Freight corporations did concede that in the event of a crash, the second engineer would be helpful. Nonetheless they countered that first responders could fill any vacuum there.

    • Syrian Refugee Terror Plot or Latest in Pattern of FBI-Manufactured Terrorism Cases?

      On the surface, the story of 21-year-old Syrian refugee and Pittsburgh resident Mustafa Mousab Alowemer has the elements to strike fear in many Americans and give ammunition to the Trump administration for its war on immigrants and refugees, especially those who would dare to flee violence in countries like Syria. With much fanfare but no apparent imminent danger, the FBI announced on Wednesday last week that it had foiled a purported plot by Alowemer, an accused ISIS supporter, to bomb a local church in Northview Heights on the north side of Pittsburgh. To increase the spectacle of Alowemer’s arrest, police shut down the entire block on which he lived and even knocked on neighborhood doors to alert residents to stay inside. The results of the months-long FBI investigation was the indictment of Alowemer, who was charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS and two counts of distributing information about making explosives. Although Alowemer’s alleged plot to bomb the Legacy International Worship Center was set for July, the arrest was carried out on June 19, the eve of Global Refugee Day. This year’s theme encouraged people to stand in solidarity with refugees.

    • Calling Trump’s Rationale “Contrived,” Supreme Court Halts Citizenship Question
    • The Kremlin comments on a poll showing one in 10 Russians has been tortured by police

      Today is indeed the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The president has commented multiple times on the Set’ case (a terrorism case against a group of young people who say they confessed under torture), so a trial is ongoing in which the defendants are describing how they were tortured, giving their version of events. First, has this information reached the president? Second, the president said he would attempt to deal with this situation — is he studying it at all? Given that today, people are talking [about torture] around the world. Perhaps there will be a statement of some kind?

    • Leading women’s rights attorney Mari Davtyan explains the domestic violence case that’s bringing Russians out into the streets

      In mid-June, Russia’s Investigative Committee released its final draft of the charges against Krestina, Angelina, and Maria Khachaturyan. In a case that has lasted about a year so far, the sisters are facing charges of murder committed by a conspiracy of multiple individuals: they stabbed their father after surviving years of constant abuse at his hands. The statute that was used to charge the Khachaturyans carries a sentence of eight to 20 years in prison. The sisters’ attorneys have submitted an appeal to Investigative Committee Director Alexander Bastrykin. They argue that the Khachaturyans committed an act of “necessary self-defense” against their father, Mikhail, to escape confinement, potentially fatal assaults, and rape. In Russian jurisprudence, this means they should be charged with a lesser crime that carries a far lower sentence. An international campaign for the sisters has accompanied the case, with protesters around the world joining artists like Armenian-American musician Serj Tankian in calling for the Khachaturyans to be released. Meduza special correspondent Sasha Sulim discussed the case with attorney Mari Davtyan, who co-authored a bill to prevent intimate partner and family violence that activists are still pushing Russia’s government to consider.

    • Russian contemporary writers announce reading to support Khachaturyan sisters on trial for killing their abusive father

      The murder case against the Khachaturyan sisters, who killed their father after facing years of constant emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at his hands, has drawn widespread attention from contemporary Russian writers from its inception. Women writers and especially women poets have played a central role in the public resistance to the case. On July 5 from 6:00 to 10:00 PM, sixty of those writers and poets will perform in a public reading at the Moscow club Avangarden 2.0.

    • Supreme Court to Rule on Trump Bid to End ‘Dreamers’ Program

      Adding a high-stakes immigration case to its election-year agenda, the Supreme Court said Friday it will decide whether President Donald Trump can terminate an Obama-era program shielding young migrants from deportation. The justices’ order sets up legal arguments for late fall or early winter, with a decision likely by June 2020 as Trump campaigns for re-election. The president ordered an end to the program known as DACA in 2017, sparking protests and a congressional effort to salvage it. That effort failed, but federal courts in California, New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C., have blocked him from ending it immediately. A federal judge in Texas has declared the program is illegal, but refused to order it halted.

    • Captain of Refugee Rescue Ship Arrested in Italy, Faces Up to 10 Years in Prison

      The German captain of a ship that rescued 53 refugees at sea was arrested Saturday after she attempted to dock at Italy’s Lampedusa port. Italy’s far-right, anti-immigrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini accused 31-year-old Sea-Watch 3 captain Carola Rackete of attempting to “sink” a police boat while docking her vessel, which he described as “an act of war.” As the Associated Press reported, Rackete could face up to ten years in prison if convicted. Salvini’s refusal to allow Rackete to dock resulted in a tense 16-day standoff in the Mediterranean, with Rackete urging the Italian government to allow her desperate passengers off the ship. “This is not a game, we’re not playing. We need to get these people off this ship,” said Chris Grodotzki, spokesman for the humanitarian organization Sea Watch, which operates the rescue ship. “We will not wait another night. We are prepared to disembark them ourselves if the authorities continue to neglect their responsibility.”

    • Claiming Trump Is Forcing Them to Commit ‘Widespread Violation’ of International Law, Asylum Officers Back Lawsuit Against President’s Policy

      Expressing grave objections to an immigration policy which has forced them to violate international law, U.S. asylum officers filed a federal court brief demanding an end to President Donald Trump’s so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy under which asylum seekers have been turned away at the U.S.-Mexico border. Ordering people who are exercising their legal right to seek asylum to turn back and endure a months-long or years-long wait for their applications to be processed is “fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our nation and our international and domestic legal obligations,” wrote the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924, the union which represents asylum officers.

    • We are Fighting for Immigrants’ Rights. Here’s What You Can Do.

      The images of Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Valeria, who lost their lives trying to seek refuge in the United States, have left us haunted. They serve as an ever-important reminder of the urgency of the fight for immigrant justice on our southern border and the need to stand up to the Trump administration’s policies denying humanitarian protection and basic due process to families fleeing for their lives. We remain at the frontlines of the family separation fight. In early 2018, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit to stop the separation of families at the border and to require the immediate reunion of all separated children and parents. And last June, a federal judge issued a national injunction in our lawsuit, requiring the reunification of thousands. We have continually fought the administration’s efforts to stonewall the reunification and continue their zero-tolerance policy toward people who come to the United States seeking asylum. We are in court working to block President Trump’s abuse of emergency powers to secure funds for a border wall Congress denied (thanks in part to our advocacy in D.C.). In May, a federal judge ruled in our lawsuit, which we filed on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), that President Trump couldn’t get his wall by illegally diverting taxpayer money. The Sierra Club and SBCC represent the communities who live in, protect, and treasure the lands and communities along the southern border. The Trump administration appealed that decision, and we await the next steps from the 9th circuit. But we’re not just responding to the moment — we’re building for immigrant justice in the future. The ACLU is a nationwide organization, with an on-the-ground presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Because we have a vibrant presence in every state, we at the ACLU are not only able to push back against abuses and litigate, but also work to enact pro-immigrant rights laws.

    • Border Policies from Hell

      Who was not rightly moved by the photograph of a Salvadoran father and his daughter drowned and laying on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande River?The father, Óscar Martínez Ramírez, was only 25 years old and his daughter, Valeria, was almost 2, with her dainty and diminutive white-arm draped over her father’s nape, both faced down in the muddy river bank—and were both yet more unnecessary U.S.-Mexican borderland deaths as both Democrats and Republicans continue debating how to deal with our so-called “Southern Border Crisis”. The photo was taken by Mexican photo-journalist, Julia Le Duc for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada,but making the Associated Press (AP) circuit. It is a shocking and unsettling photo—reflecting a something, which should not be. The young man’s wet-black t-shirt pulled up nearly over his head and above his daughter’s head, his shorts more like swim trunks. And comparable to all photos of the newly dead, the father-daughter appeared to be just resting along the river bank—as if exhausted from an arduous swim, a momentary repose perhaps—but nonetheless, reflecting the eternal in their deaths, a disquieting stillness, never to awaken in their final embrace. How much more can the American people accept about our border policies from hell? And this Trump Administration separating children from their parents and holding them in unconscionable conditions in less than adequate border facilities—how much more? Last year, there were almost three-hundred borderland deaths.Moreover, it was only a month ago, we learned from various news reports that a sixth child had diedat the US-Mexico border. And instead of ameliorating the situation, the Trump Administration will be making it worse if current borderland policies endure by cutting off a significant portion of U.S. development aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This will have the opposite effect on these countries than as an intended foreign policy punitive measure. From a recent Congressional Research Service reportin March, 2019, it is clear the Trump Administration is trending to limit the amount of U.S. aid to Latin America and the Caribbean compared with previous administrations. Contrary to Trump, development aid to Central America may staunch the flow of migration through funding for ceasing gang violence, alleviating food insecurity, providing viable labor opportunities, and reducing poverty.

    • Congress Is Funding the Destruction of Kids’ Lives

      I came to this country from Mexico as a small child because my mother was escaping poverty and wanted to give my sisters and me a better life. She worked hard to make sure we had food on our table and a roof over our heads, often doing two and three jobs at a time. Because of poverty and systemic racism, undocumented families like mine must work multiple jobs and get paid under the table, and that often comes with mistreatment and discrimination on the job. To get by, people in our community have to develop our own survival methods, such as getting together with neighbors to share meals or take care of each other’s kids. This difficult situation is made worse by the threat of detention, deportation, and family separation. Reports of sickening conditions in children’s detention facilities, along with renewed threats by the administration to attack migrant families, have cast a dark shadow over the lives of families like mine.

    • Dems Cave on the Border

      While attention has been focused on the Democratic debate – in which most contenders are pushing progressive policies – congressional Democrats have moved in the opposite direction. They caved on an emergency border supplemental appropriation that can now be used by Trump to make the border situation worse, not better. This is how it happened, folks. The House had been working on a $4.5 billion emergency border supplemental appropriation designed to respond to the inhumane conditions in migrant holding cells. The goal was to use the funds to improve standards for migrants, and include safeguards to prevent Trump from using the money to finance deportation raids or his border wall.

    • Don’t Send Refugees Back to Danger

      Tijuana, where I live and work, has been thrust into the center of the Trump administration’s attack on migrants. It’s the first site of the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their U.S. claims are processed. Since January, more than 15,000 people have been returned to Mexico after requesting asylum in the U.S. — many to Tijuana. The administration is now extending that policy all along the southern border. These roadblocks in the asylum process — along with U.S. pressure on Mexico to crack down on Central American migrants — are intentionally designed to deter people from exercising their internationally protected right to seek asylum. The U.S. is turning its back on its legal obligation to protect people fleeing persecution. Instead, it’s sending vulnerable people back to some of the world’s most dangerous cities to wait indefinitely. I regularly visit the shelters in Tijuana to meet with migrants, offer aid and support, and monitor the human rights situation. There I met Lya, a young trans woman from El Salvador who was frequently detained by the police and discriminated against because of her identity.

    • Fund Head Start, Not Internment Camps

      Because of poverty and systemic racism, undocumented families like mine must work multiple jobs and get paid under the table, and that often comes with mistreatment and discrimination on the job. To get by, people in our community have to develop our own survival methods, such as getting together with neighbors to share meals or take care of each other’s kids. This difficult situation is made worse by the threat of detention, deportation, and family separation. Reports of sickening conditions in children’s detention facilities, along with renewed threats by the administration to attack migrant families, have cast a dark shadow over the lives of families like mine. Much of this is made possible by misplaced spending priorities. I recently traveled to Washington, D.C. from my home in Los Angeles to testify before Congress. This was an opportunity to tell members of the House Budget Committee that they have tremendous power to shift U.S. priorities to help millions of families lead better lives. They could decide, for example, that it’s more important to put children into Head Start than into detention centers. Last year, one of the corporations that operate detention centers got $234 million to buy beds for children. With that money, we could instead fund Head Start for more than 26,000 children. One policy gives children lifelong benefits. The other destroys lives. In fact, at least five migrant children have died in detention this year. Many thousands more will be traumatized.

    • Governors Can Succeed in Criminal Justice Reform Where Legislatures Fail

      Gubernatorial power is an untapped resource in the fight against structural racism and mass punishment. With legislative sessions winding down across the country, states have an opportunity to explore an often untapped resource for ending mass incarceration and addressing racism in the criminal justice system: the power of Governors. The power of the executive presents significant and often untapped opportunities to shrink the jail and prison population. Unlike state legislation, policy decisions by a governor are less vulnerable to political infighting or trading. To address this problem, here are the top three ways a state’s governor should utilize their authority to end mass incarceration and address racism in the system. First, clemency: We must shrink the incarcerated population system through pardons and commutations. Governors have the ability to lessen the severity of criminal penalties, leading to early or immediate releases. This is an opportunity for governors to impact thousands of lives. And there are various forms of clemency. Pardons cancel or nullify a legal consequence and declare the individual not guilty. Commutations are sentence reductions, but do not declare innocence. A governor may commute individuals that were handed extreme or unjust sentences—making this a mechanism to remedy race-based sentencing disparities—, provide relief to people wrongfully convicted, and release categories of people based on offense or status. And efforts to utilize the clemency power should be coupled with a discussion around oversight and transparency. If governors or administrative bodies have the unrestricted right to deny clemency applications, it is nearly impossible to hold them accountable for unjust or discriminatory practices.

    • History Has Taught Us That Concentration Camps Should Be Liberated. We Can’t Wait Until 2020.

      “Yes, we do have concentration camps,” began the stinging critique of the Trump administration’s immigration detention facilities. It was written earlier this week by the editorial board of the Salt Lake Tribune, in the reliably conservative state of Utah. Andrea Pitzer, author of the definitive book on the global history of concentration camps, agrees. So do people who were once forced to live in another era’s concentration camps. But amid the debate about what to call immigration detention facilities, few people have disputed the truly terrible conditions that exist within them. Migrants have long reported awful experiences in immigration custody, but in recent months, an increase in the number of people, especially families and children, crossing the border and being detained has led to severe overcrowding. Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier was granted access to a Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas, and wrote in her report about it that “the conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities.” They “felt worse than jail.” The kids she examined were forced to endure “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food.” Over the past year, seven children have died in U.S. immigration custody or shortly after being released. These deaths occurred after 10 years during which not a single child died. Elora Mukherjee, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, told The Atlantic that the stench in some detention facilities is so horrible that it was hard for her to even have a focused conversation with the children. Babies didn’t have diapers. Young kids were forced to care for infants who they didn’t even know. Clothes were covered in snot and excrement. Baby bottles were used without being properly cleaned and sterilized. All of these conditions have created environments where sicknesses and diseases spread like wildfire. In one facility, lice spread from child to child, and when the children were forced to share “lice combs,” and one somehow got lost, dozens of kids were punished by having their bedding removed. They had to sleep on the cold concrete floor.

    • Barr Moves to Combat Violent Crime Plaguing Alaska Natives

      Attorney General William Barr declared a law enforcement emergency in Alaska on Friday, clearing the way for the Justice Department to award more than $10 million to combat crime in rural communities. The announcement comes a month after Barr visited the state and met with Alaska Natives, who described disproportionately high rates of violence and sexual assault in Native communities and other problems, including not having any law enforcement presence in some villages.

    • At Last, Robert Mueller Will Testify Before Congress

      There’s a scene in the film “Goodfellas” where the main character, Henry Hill, explains the economic ethos of his compatriots: “Business bad? F–k you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? F–k you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? F–k you, pay me.” I’ve been muttering something similar at Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and the House Democratic committee chairs since Robert Mueller released his Russian election interference report on April 18: “Nervous about the election? F–k you, subpoena Mueller. Oh, not enough support in the polls for impeachment? F–k you, subpoena Mueller. Capitol dome flew into space, huh? F–k you, subpoena Mueller.” Millions of other Americans have, no doubt, been mumbling some version of the same. Maybe someone was listening.

    • Before Occupy, There Was People’s Park

      There is nostalgia for Ronald Reagan in 2019. He is widely viewed in the media and elsewhere as a sensible Republican, a mainstream conservative, a reasonable man—the polar opposite of Donald Trump, the dangerous buffoon now occupying the presidency. Many pundits pine for the “Gipper,” the genial, affable president who chatted with reporters and sipped drinks with some of his political adversaries. That view is tragically wrong. Reagan and his odious chief of staff and later attorney general, Ed Meese, were central players in some of the most horrific suppressive acts of the rebellious 1960s in the United States. They and various local officials in Berkeley and Alameda County, California, were responsible for some of the most egregious and systematic acts of violence directed against peaceful demonstrators and protesters in recent American history.

    • Retailer Workers Plan Walkout Over Detention Center Contract

      Employees at online home furnishings retailer Wayfair have planned a walkout to protest the company’s decision to sell $200,000 worth of furniture to a government contractor that runs a detention center for migrant children in Texas. More than 500 employees at the company’s Boston headquarters signed a protest letter to executives when they found out about the contract. Wednesday’s walkout was organized when Wayfair refused to back out of the contract.

    • How Do You Celebrate a Flawed Nation?

      As the Fourth of July rolls around, I think plenty of us are eager for barbecues, corn on the cob, watermelon, and fireworks, but our feelings about our country are somewhat more complicated. How do you love and celebrate a country that’s so obviously flawed? A country that’s currently committing atrocities against innocent children? Is criticizing America unpatriotic? Some would say it is. I say no. For me, loving this country means making it better. It means taking a good hard look at our mistakes, learning from the ones in the past, and correcting the ones in the present. That’s something we don’t do enough. When I teach sociology at the college level, again and again my students say things like, “This isn’t the country I thought I lived in.” Sadly, though, we are that country. When you examine the full extent of the poverty, inequality, racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on in this country, it can feel crushing. We still have a lot of work to do. But there’s a quote from Bill Clinton — himself a deeply imperfect president — that says it all: “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America.”

    • Online Database Is Tracking and Exposing Police Officers’ Racist Facebook Posts

      This was the Facebook post of a Phoenix police officer. In a different post, a Philadelphia police lieutenant recounted a courthouse scene in which a defendant and his family walk off an elevator: “… indignant about the fact that those of us actually working are going the other way. I fucking hate them.” Another lieutenant commented: “I fucking hate the [sic] too.” An online database called the Plain View Project has collected more than 5,000 bigoted, racist, sexist, Islamophobic Facebook postings and comments like these by former and current law enforcement officers in jurisdictions across the country. The database was started two years ago by attorney Emily Baker-White, who was investigating a police brutality claim as a fellow in the Federal Community Defender Office in Philadelphia when she came across vitriolic public Facebook posts by several police officers.

    • How a Top Chicken Company Cut Off Black Farmers, One by One

      After years of working as a sheriff’s deputy and a car dealership manager, John Ingrum used his savings to buy a farm some 50 miles east of Jackson, Mississippi. He planned to raise horses on the land and leave the property to his son. The farm, named Lovin’ Acres, came with a few chicken houses, which didn’t really interest Ingrum. But then a man showed up from Koch Foods, the country’s fifth-largest poultry processor and one of the main chicken companies in Mississippi. Koch Foods would deliver flocks and feed — all Ingrum would have to do is house the chicks for a few weeks while they grew big enough to slaughter. The company representative wowed Ingrum with projections for the stream of income he could earn, Ingrum recalled in an interview. What Ingrum didn’t know was that those financial projections overlooked many realities of modern farming in the U.S., where much of the country’s agricultural output is controlled by a handful of giant companies. The numbers didn’t reflect the debt he might have to incur to configure his chicken houses to the company’s specifications. Nor did they reflect the risk that the chicks could show up sick or dead, or that the company could simply stop delivering flocks. And that growing concentration of corporate power in agriculture would only add to the long odds Ingrum, as a black farmer, faced in the United States, where just 1.3% of the country’s farmers are black. The shadow of slavery, sharecropping and Jim Crow has left black farmers in an especially precarious position. Their farms tend to be smaller and their sales lower than the national average, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While white farmers benefited from government assistance such as the Homestead Act and land-grant universities, black farmers were largely excluded from owning land and accumulating wealth. In recent decades, black farmers accused the USDA of discriminating against them by denying them loans or forcing them to wait longer, resulting in a class-action lawsuit that settled for more than $1 billion. Along with these historical disadvantages, black farmers say they have also encountered bias in dealing with some of the corporate giants that control their livelihood. In complaints filed with the USDA between 2010 and 2015, Ingrum and another black farmer in Mississippi said Koch Foods discriminated against them and used its market control to drive them out of business.

    • If Elected in 2020, Bernie Sanders Vows First Executive Orders Will ‘Reverse Every Single Thing President Trump Has Done to Demonize and Harm Immigrants’

      In response to a new report detailing how children and young mothers are going hungry and often being given “inedible” food at federal detention centers in Texas, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday vowed to immediately move to reverse President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies if elected in 2020. “This is a disgrace,” wrote Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. “No child should go hungry in the United States of America. My first executive orders will be to reverse every single thing President Trump has done to demonize and harm immigrants.”

    • Image of Migrants Should Stir Our Outrage and Our Compassion

      The image is haunting and heartwrenching: A father and his 23-month-old daughter lying lifeless, face down in the murky water on the bank of the Rio Grande near Brownsville, their heads joined together, hers tucked inside his T-shirt, her tiny arm wrapped around his neck in their final moments alive.

    • Immigrants’ Rights Aren’t Possible If We Don’t Stop Criminalizing Border Crossing

      Last night’s Democratic presidential debate shined an unlikely spotlight on a little-known section of the federal code — 8. U.S.C. 1325. This law makes crossing the border without legal authorization a federal misdemeanor. Its counterpart, 8 U.S.C. 1326, makes re-crossing the border a felony. They are the laws the Trump administration has leveraged to take thousands of children from their parents at the border. Recall their explanation: They claimed they had no choice but to take children from their parents because they were criminally prosecuting the parents pursuant to a zero-tolerance policy. And they claimed that necessitated placing the parents in U.S. Marshals custody and sometimes in federal prison, while their children were transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services. The laws they were using to prosecute the parents? 8 U.S.C. 1325 and 1326. The Trump administration is not the first to use these laws, though they are the first to use them against parents on a large scale. The federal government began to rely heavily on the laws that criminalize migration in 2005, in a program called Operation Streamline. Until then, crossing the border without legal authorization was typically treated as a civil offense, not as a crime — migrants apprehended near the border would usually face quick deportation, but no criminal penalties. Since 2005, though, criminal prosecutions for unauthorized border crossing have skyrocketed, and in 2017 and 2018, they comprised 57 percent of all federal criminal case filings nationwide.

    • I’ve Lived on the Border My Entire Life. The Courts Must Shut Down Trump’s Border Wall

      Communities, public lands and property are threatened by the president’s abuse of emergency powers. The ecological destruction of Arizona, New Mexico, and California hangs in the balance as courts decide whether to block President Trump’s abuse of emergency powers to secure funds for a border wall Congress denied. On Feb. 15, 2019, President Trump declared a national emergency so that he could raid the military budget for billions of dollars for border wall construction. The declaration came after the president put the country through the longest government shutdown in U.S. history over Congress’s refusal to fund his border wall. It also came after Congress allocated a small portion of the money that Trump demanded and imposed restrictions on where and how quickly any border barriers could be built. We at the Sierra Club, along with the Southern Border Communities Coalition and American Civil Liberties Union, sued immediately. Allowing the president to illegally divert military funds for a border wall that Congress denied places millions of borderland residents at exponentially heightened risk of environmental and societal catastrophe. It also violates the clearly defined separation of powers inscribed in the Constitution. At risk are public lands like the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the San Pedro River, San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, and the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to the endangered Sonoran pronghorn. These pearls of nature host endangered wildlife and could be decimated by border wall construction. The construction would undermine years of cooperative conservation efforts by the U.S. and Mexico, jeopardize wildlife, and destroy this country’s national heritage. If President Trump can get away with this, what’s then stopping him, or a future administration, from doing the same along the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Corridor and the Rio Grande itself? Those of us fighting the border wall in South Texas are defending the little-remaining biodiversity along the Lower Rio Grande delta, which to us is a community and a national treasure. Since 1979, the Friends of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Corridor have worked to maintain this stretch of native habitat, which spans from Falcon Dam to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s critical for a rich variety of resident and migrating wildlife species, and the region itself hosts 17 species that are federally listed as endangered or threatened. The corridor is also essential for residents’ aesthetic and recreational rights, which our lawsuit defends. We must do all we can do to protect our environment. Our communities along the border feel the same way.

    • Voter Disenfranchisement in Toronto

      Alabama of the 50s and 60s has migrated to Toronto. The ghost of South Africa has a consulate here. Israel’s apartheid government must be jealous over how well Toronto’s NDP runs its elections. So what the hell happened? On June 23, 2019 a particular riding (similar to a Congressional district) had its election for the New Democratic Party (once one of the most left parties recognized by Election Canada) to represent the riding in Ottawa if it were to win the general election. Saron Gebresellassi, an Eritrean lawyer, and speaker of 7 languages, was one of 3 candidates for the position. Unlike the other two candidates, her base is the disenfranchised, the new immigrants to Canada, people of color, the disabled, the people on government assistance, and of course, all others who support her humanity. Saron and her team personally registered nearly 400 new voters to the NDP for this election. She personally delivered it to the NDP brass before the deadline. But because her registration forms were on paper, not on-line, and paid with cash, not credit card, the executive committee of the NDP in Ottawa did not register them, as they said they would. Jagmeet Singh, leader of the NDP was notified and was asked to intercede, but to no avail. So Saron’s voters come out to vote. So many for the first time in any national election, had to stand in line with screaming babies, old people not able to, people in wheelchairs, just to go through all 400 sheets of registration forms to match their names, while the near lily-white audience sat comfortably not having their registration challenged.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • SPC manufacturing and stockpiling waiver comes into force

      Earlier this year, the European Parliament adopted legislation introducing a Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC) manufacturing and stockpiling waiver (amending Regulation (EC) No 469/2009). The waiver comes into force today, 1 July 2019. The full text of the adopted legislation can be seen here. Controversially, the legislation provides a waiver not only for the manufacture of generics and biosimilars for export, but also provides a waiver for stockpiling for day-1 release following expiry of an SPC. The SPC manufacturing waiver regulation was first proposed by the European Commission back in the summer of 2018 (IPKat post here). The waiver allows EU-based companies to manufacture a generic or biosimilar version of an SPC-protected drug, if done exclusively for exporting out of the EU to markets where IP protection for the drug has expired or never existed. In the words of an EU press release, the aim of the waiver is “to foster the competitiveness of EU producers of generic medicines and biosimilar products”. Particularly, the aim is to respond to the growth of the generics and biosimilar industries by creating a level playing field between EU-based generic and biosimilar manufacturers and manufacturers based elsewhere in the world. The hope of the EU is that the waiver will remove the need for EU biosimilar and generic manufacturers to move out of the EU in order to take advantage of the global generic and biosimilar market.

    • If Congress does not act on Section 101, has the PTAB hinted at a path forward? [Ed: Anticipat now linking to and boosting Watchtroll. Stay classy, folks… you’re giving away with terrible a firm you are (and your patent trolls-leaning agenda). Anticipat tacitly admits Coons will accomplish nothing with his lies and acknowledges software patents are dead, albeit it pretends it’s just “flux”.]

      Last week, we published updated data of appeal outcomes for abstract idea rejections in April 2019. Now we delve into one of the more interesting trends for these reversals since the 2019 revised Subject Matter Guidance. This is the growing disparity of PTAB panels relying on step 2A (Step 1 of Alice/Mayo) versus step 2B (Step 2 of Alice/Mayo). [...] In times of flux, it is great to push for change and progress. But in the meantime, having the best patent prosecution data can dramatically improve your advocacy and ability to show patent-eligibility.

    • Trademarks

      • The Apple of Discord, Swiss Edition

        The apple for the day, just to be sure you keep the doctor away, is Apple Inc v. Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IGE) (the original language of the decision is German; decision No 4A_503/2018 of 9 April 2019), which saw the Cupertino-based company at the centre of a trade mark registration dispute in Switzerland concerning the “APPLE” sign. By its decision, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court granted the registration of the mark after a 7-year long dispute.

    • Copyrights

      • The Streaming TV Sector Still Doesn’t Realize Exclusives Will Drive Users Back To Piracy

        So we’ve noted a few times now that the rise of streaming video competitors is indisputably a good thing. Numerous new streaming alternatives have driven competition to an antiquated cable TV sector that has long been plagued by apathy, high rates, and comically-bad customer service. That’s long overdue and a positive thing overall, as streaming customer satisfaction scores suggest. But as the sector matures, there’s a looming problem it seems oblivious to. Increasingly, companies are pulling their content off central repositories like Hulu and Netflix, and making them exclusive to their own streaming platforms, forcing consumers to subscribe to more and more streaming services if they want to get all the content they’re looking for. AT&T, for example, will soon make all of its owned content, like Friends, exclusive to its looming new streaming platform. Disney, similarly, has been pulling its content off of Netflix and Hulu to ensure it’s exclusive to its own, looming Disney+ streaming service that arrives next year.

      • Gigi Hadid, Smile for the Copyright

        Readers may remember a previous post about model Gigi Hadid being sued for copyright infringement after posting picture of herself on Instagram. Photo agency Xclusive brought a civil complaint against Hadid in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York seeking a trial by jury and damages for copyright infringement. In the claim Xclusive argued that Hadid wilfully and intentionally infringed their copyright in disregard of their rights. Hadid took to social media to voice her anger, arguing that it was wrong that fan accounts are taken down and photographers were demanding money for the photo she had found on twitter. These types of disputes are on the rise with other starts such as Ariana Grande being persued for the same. Kim Kardashian has faced the issue by hiring her own photographer and granting her fans permission to freely repost those photos. Hadid, on the other hand, is taking the issue head on. In a 20 page motion to dismiss Hadid’s lawyers argued the use of the photograph was permissible under fair use and consistent with an implied license. However, Xclusive wasted no time in filing an opposition to the motion. Here are the main arguements from both sides:

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