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07.06.19

Links 6/7/2019: Wine 4.12, Wine-Staging 4.12, Debian Buster

Posted in News Roundup at 10:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop

      • The $199 PineBook Pro Linux Laptop Gets An Awesome Privacy Feature And July Pre-Order Date

        Frankly, this is a fantastic move especially for a $199 device. The addition of these privacy switches — and the way they’re implemented — compliments the Linux and FOSS ecosystem, and also bolsters Pine64′s commitment to the community.

        When can we pre-order this little marvel? July 25, 2019. Stay tuned to Pine64′s blog page or social media accounts for updates. And I encourage you to read the entire PineBook Pro update, as it also contains info on the custom Debian build for PineBook Pro and its strong media playback capabilities, plus a wealth of other tidbits.

        Pine64′s latest is a huge departure from the original PineBook in many ways. Let’s recap the key specs for this $199 laptop now that the last feature has been unveiled.

      • Mark Shuttleworth sold a tech startup he built in his garage for $575 million and used the money to visit space
      • Lubuntu Eoan Ermine Wallpaper Contest

        The Lubuntu Team is pleased to announce we are running an Eoan Ermine wallpaper competition, giving you, our community, the chance to submit, and get your favorite wallpapers included in the Lubuntu 19.10 release.

      • Linux Kodachi 6.1 Released, which is based on Xbuntu 18.04 LTS

        Warith Al Maawali has announced the release of Linux Kodachi 6.1 on July 27, 2019, which is based on Xbuntu 18.04 LTS.

        It will provide you with a secure, anti-forensic, and anonymous operating system considering all features that a person who is concerned about privacy would need to have in order to be secure.

    • Server

      • Linux Taking Over Everything! Surpasses Windows Usage on Azure
      • How Linux took over everything, including Microsoft Azure [Ed: CBS promotes lots of Microsoft marketing lies]
      • IBM

        • Red Hat: The thriving state of enterprise open source

          Enterprises across the globe are looking to transform their innovation models and create new value by taking advantage of major technological developments in big data, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

          However, the pace at which these innovations are emerging, and the scale of the implementation and integration requirements can be overwhelming for enterprise executives, especially when companies need to balance their desire to innovate with their need for stability and consistency.

          To modernise their IT approach, innovate and successfully facilitate digital transformation within the enterprise, a growing number of organisations are turning to open source tools and solutions.

          This was a key revelation in Red Hat’s recent annual “The State of Enterprise Open Source” report, which details how and why open source solutions are making their way into enterprises with such remarkable momentum.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

    • Games

      • You can try the awesome demo of Jupiter Hell again this weekend

        Jupiter Hell, the atmospheric and quite brutal roguelike from ChaosForge is opening the doors for another weekend, so you can try out the demo before it goes public.

        It’s absolutely worth doing so too, I’ve covered it numerous times here because I adore the style and the feel of the gameplay.

      • The next Humble Monthly is out, with two more interesting early unlock games

        Even with the Steam Summer Sale right now, Surviving Mars by itself is just under $11 so to get those two games, plus a bunch more when the rest unlock on August 2nd is a sweet deal. Surviving Mars is brilliant by itself, spent tons of hours in it!

        Additionally, it does also give access to the Humble Trove as always, which allows you to download a ton (47 Linux supported at last count) of DRM-free games.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • The Ultimate Adwaita Theme For Mozilla Firefox

          A new Firefox theme helps the browser integrated more clearlnyl with the desktop environment’s default theme.

          The suitably titled ‘Firefox GNOME Theme‘ for Firefox 60 (and up) adheres strictly to the look laid out by the ‘new’ Adwaita theme found in GNOME 3.32 and up.

          We’re talking the same gradients, colours, and button shapes. It supports Adwaita’s standard beige look and the optional (and soon to be more accessible) dark mode.

        • Richard Hughes: Fun with the ODRS, part 2

          For the last few days I’ve been working on the ODRS, the review server used by GNOME Software and other open source software centers. I had to do a lot of work initially to get the codebase up to modern standards, but now it has unit tests (86% coverage!), full CI and is using the latest versions of everything. All this refactoring allowed me to add some extra new features we’ve needed for a while.

          [....]

          For the last few years it’s been mostly me deciding on the ~3k marked-for-moderatation reviews with the help of Google Translate. Let me tell you, after all that my threshold for dealing with internet trolls is super low. There are already over 60 blocked users on the ODRS, although they’ll never really know they are shouting into /dev/null…

          One change I’ve made here is that it now takes two “reports” of a review before it needs moderation; the logic being that a lot of reports seem accidental and a really bad review is already normally reported by multiple people in the few days after it’s been posted. The other change is that we now have a locale-specific “bad word list” that submitted reports are checked against at submission time. If they are flagged, the moderator has to decide on the action before it’s ever shown to other users. This has already correctly flagged 5 reviews in the couple of days since it was deployed. If you contributed to the spreadsheet with “bad words” for your country I’m very grateful. That bad word list will be available as a JSON dump on the ODRS on Monday in case it’s useful to other people. I fully expect it’ll grow and change over time.

    • Distributions

      • OpenWrt 18.06.4 released with updated Linux kernel, security fixes Curl and the Linux kernel and much more!

        This month, the OpenWrt Community announced the release of OpenWrt 18.06.4, the fourth service release of the stable OpenWrt 18.06 series. This release comes with a number of bug fixes in the network and system and brings updates to the kernel and base packages.

        The official page reads, “Note that the OpenWrt 18.06.3 release was skipped in favor to 18.06.4 due to a last-minute 4.14 kernel update fixing TCP connectivity problems which were introduced with the first iteration of the Linux SACK (Selective Acknowledgement)vulnerability patches.”

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

        • Deepin 15.10.2

          Today we are looking at Deepin 15.10.2. It is a great point release for Deepin 15.10 and it should be the last point release before their next major release, which should be either Deepin 15.11 or 16 as it will be based on Debian 10 which will be stable by then. Which will be very exciting, as we can already see the extra amount of stability which Debian Buster is already bringing to the distro and Kwin.

          It uses about 1.3GB of ram when idling and Linux Kernel 4.15, as for some technical specs.

          Currently, the latest download link is for 15.10.1, so until then they update it please download 15.10.1 and just run your normal system updates and you will have the latest version.

        • Deepin 15.10.2 Run Through
      • Slackware Family

        • LibreOffice 6.2.5 packages available

          Earlier this week, the Document Foundation released version 6.2.5 of their office suite LibreOffice. I have built and uploaded sets of packages for Slackware 14.2 and also for -current, 32bits and 64bits.

          The Document Foundation themselves finally think that 6.2.x is production ready: “… Users in production environments can start evaluating LibreOffice 6.2.5…“. I was already happy with 6.2.4 and I find the capability to open and work with MS Office documents improving all the time.

      • Fedora Family

        • FPgM report: 2019-27

          Here’s your report of what has happened in Fedora Program Management this week.

          I have weekly office hours in #fedora-meetnig-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else.

      • Debian Family

        • Thorsten Alteholz: My Debian Activities in June 2019

          As you might have noticed as well, this month has been a month with the highest average temperature of all June so far. So I spent more time in the lake than in NEW. I only accepted 12 packages and rejected 1 upload. The rest of the team probably did the same because the overall number of packages that got accepted was only 22. Let’s see whether July will be the same …

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

          In June 2019, I did not at all reach my goal of LTS/ELTS hours, unfortunately. (At this point, I could come up with a long story about our dog’ish family member and the infection diseases he got, the vet visits we did and the daily care and attention he needed, but I won’t…).

          I have worked on the Debian LTS project for 9,75 hours (of 17 hours planned) and on the Debian ELTS project just for 1 hour (of 12 hours planned) as a paid contributor.

        • Jonathan Wiltshire: What to expect on buster release day

          The ‘buster’ release day is today! This is mostly a re-hash of previous checklists, since we’ve done this a few times now and we have a pretty good rhythm.

        • Niels Thykier: A decline in the use of hints in the release team

          When I surfaced from “stats-land”, I confirmed that we have a clear decline in hints in the past two releases[1].

          wheezy: 3301
          jessie: 3699 (+398)
          stretch: 2408 (-1291)
          buster: 1478 (-930)
          While it is certainly interesting, the number of hints on its own is not really an indicator of how much work we put into the release. Notably, it says very little about the time spent on evaluating unblock requests before adding the hint.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Atomic Lab Going Open Source after Dumping Microsoft over High Fees

        DumCan open source software cope with petabytes of data? We’re about to find out.

        Administrators at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), after moving in lockstep with Microsoft longer than their researchers have been smashing atoms with the Large Hadron Collider, appear to have reached the breaking point with the giant technology company.

        Rather than pay their vendor of long standing – Microsoft – a 10x increase to license mission-critical software, they’re developing their own.

        In a blog posted last week, Emmanuel Ormancy, a systems architect at the Geneva-based laboratory, said CERN’s Microsoft Alternatives project will take an open-source approach to wresting control of core functionalities and data from the software company. The project, known internally as MAlt, has run since 2018 and will trot out a pair of pilot platforms later this year.

        The reason: vendor lock-in, which occurs when users become over-reliant on providers of the proprietary products and support services needed to run their operations.

      • FreeDOS turns 25 (open source, DOS-compatible operating system)

        It’s been decades since Microsoft stopped developing MS-DOS, but there are thousands of old DOS applications that aren’t designed to run on newer operating systems like Windows 10. Enter FreeDOS, a free and open source operating system designed to be compatible with DOS applications.

        The FreeDOS project was officially announced on June 29th, 1994, which means that the project celebrated its 25th birthday over the weekend.

      • [Old] FreeDOS e-books

        Celebrate FreeDOS with this 24th anniversary e-book. This book includes how-tos on installing FreeDOS, essays about running DOS applications, and quick reference guides to FreeDOS commands and batch programming.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Tor Project Is Finally Fixing A DDoS Vulnerability In Onion Sites After Years

            While launching a DDoS attack on the targeted site, the attacker initiates thousands of connections to the website and leaves those connections hanging.

            But for each connection, the Onion service routes through a complex circuit in the Tor network to keep the connection secure between the server and remote user.

            Each process is CPU intensive, so whenever the site is bombarded with a huge number of connections, the server’s processor reaches its limit and cannot accept new connections.

          • Old known issue in Firefox allows HTML files to steal other files from victim’s system

            Opening an HTML file on Firefox could allow attackers to steal files stored on a victim’s computer due to a weakness in the popular web browser.

          • Say WHAAAT? Mozilla has Been Nominated for the “Internet Villain” Award in the UK

            Mozilla Firefox is one of the most popular browsers available out there. A lot of users prefer it over Chrome just because it encourages privacy protection and features options to keep your Internet activity as private as possible.

            But, one of the recently proposed features – DoH (DNS-over-HTTPS) which is still in the testing phase didn’t receive a good response from the UK’s ISPs trade association.

            So, the ISPA (Internet Services Providers Association) of UK decided to nominate Mozilla as one of the “Internet Villains” among the nominees for 2019. This is for an award ceremony to be held on 11th July in London by the ISP trade association of the UK.

          • Firefox 68 new contributors

            With the release of Firefox 68, we are pleased to welcome the 55 developers who contributed their first code change to Firefox in this release, 49 of whom were brand new volunteers! Please join us in thanking each of these diligent and enthusiastic individuals, and take a look at their contributions…

          • Mozilla’s Latest Research Grants: Prioritizing Research for the Internet

            We are very happy to announce the results of our Mozilla Research Grants for the first half of 2019. This was an extremely competitive process, and we selected proposals which address twelve strategic priorities for the internet and for Mozilla. This includes researching better support for integrating Tor in the browser, improving scientific notebooks, using speech on mobile phones in India, and alternatives to advertising for funding the internet. The Mozilla Research Grants program is part of our commitment to being a world-class example of using inclusive innovation to impact culture, and reflects Mozilla’s commitment to open innovation.

            We will open a new round of grants in Fall of 2019. See our Research Grant webpage for more details and to sign up to be notified when applications open.

      • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

      • BSD

        • Project Trident 19.06 is Released, which added a lot of changes from upstream FreeBSD and TrueOS

          Trident Project have announced the release of Project Trident 19.06 on July 28, 2019, which added a lot of changes from upstream FreeBSD and TrueOS.

          Project Trident is a desktop-focused rolling release operating system based on TrueOS. It uses the Lumina desktop as well as a number of self-developed utilities to provide an easy-to-use system that both BSD beginners and advanced system administrators.

          This release brings a lot of new packages and updated most of the existing packages to latest available version.

          Not only package updates also, they made few of changes in the base package.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Data

          • Introducing Qwant Maps: an open source and privacy-preserving maps, with exclusive control over geolocated data

            Last week, Betterweb announced the release of Qwant Maps, an open source and privacy-preserving map. In the current scenario where services like Google Maps are always tracking user data, Qwant Maps respects user privacy and proposes to give users exclusive control over their geolocated data. All components developed by Qwant Maps are open source, enabling users to improve their experience by contributing directly with the Qwant map. Qwant map uses OpenStreetMap as their main data source.

            OpenStreetMap is a free and collaborative geographical database supported today by more than a million contributors around the world. Any voluntary user can freely contribute to enrich their database with new places. Qwant Maps also uses OpenStreetMap data to generate its own vector tiles, base map, and web APIs.

      • Programming/Development

        • Fuzzing and tests

          For the last week, I’ve mostly been writing tests and fixing bugs. One or two bugs were new, caused by the switch to using the protocol unmarshaling code generator that I wrote a week ago, but most are older bugs that occur when waypipe is exposed to malformed protocol messages. For example, there used to be a use-after-free when a Wayland request to a given object was crafted to create a new object that would overwrite the existing object, but not replace all the references to the old object. Several such bugs were found by fuzzing, using AFL.

          AFL is a file-format fuzzer, so it’s not immediately obvious how to make it fuzz a pair of programs which use Unix socket connections as input. Furthermore, the Wayland protocol requires file descriptor transfers via sendmsg, and almost no fuzzers are set up to do that. The solution I chose for waypipe is to write an alternative frontend, which runs two linked copies of waypipe as distinct threads, and has a third thread which reads from a given input file and sends messages to the other two threads. The input files are structured with a simple header based format which the third thread can use to decide to which copy of waypipe it should send the next block of data. The headers also include a field indicating how large of a shared memory buffer, if any, to sendmsg to the next selected waypipe thread. To provide the initial test cases for AFL, I wrote a script which proxies a Wayland application and dumps its (formatted) protocol messages to a file.

        • EuroPython Society: List of EPS Board Candidates for 2019/2020

          At this year’s EuroPython Society General Assembly we will vote in a new board of the EuroPython Society for the term 2019/2020.

        • Episode #219: Take a Python tour of duty at the United States Digital Service

          In the US, we have a very interesting civil option that is quite new: The United States Digital Service. This service was created by President Obama to fix broken government software systems such as the rocky start of the healthcare system.

          Developers and designers can serve in this service for as little as 3 months or as long as 4 years and they pay roughly market rates.

        • Python: Sleep Function Explained

          In Python, or any other programming language, sometimes you want to add a time delay in your code before you proceed to the next section of the code.

          If this is what you want to do, then you should use the sleep function from the time module.

          First, I will start by discussing how to use Python’s sleep function. After that I will talk more about some frequently asked questions and how the sleep function is actually implemented under the hood.

        • The Python Help System

          When writing and running your Python programs, you may get stuck and need to get help. You may need to know the meaning of certain modules, classes, functions, keywords, etc. The good news is that Python comes with an built-in help system. This means that you don’t have to seek help outside of Python itself.

          In this article, you will learn how to use the built-in Python help system.

        • Andaluh-rs, a lib to transcript Spanish to Andaluh

          And there’s a group of developers that are working in some tools to provide direct translation from Spanish and other tools to ease the Andalusian writing.

          I like to write code and I’m always happy to find new problems to solve, to learn new languages, tools and to spend some time trying to code something that I’ve not done before. So I decided to write a translator from Spanish to Andaluh using rust, and I’ve created the andaluh-rs lib.

          The translator is more or less easy, there’re some rules that should be applied from top to bottom that basically replaces some group of letters. There’s a implementation in python that uses regular expressions for that. There’re a lot of regular expressions, so I thougth that it could be easy to use a parser, so I used the pest parser.

        • Leaving irc.perl.org

          A couple of folks will care about why I’ve retired. Everyone else can hop off the train now.

          Exit Interview

          Before we go any further, I want to make one thing clear. None of what follows is up for discussion. This post is not an attempt to start a conversation or facilitiate change. I’m going to lay things down as I see/saw them. This is my truth and these are my reasons.

  • Leftovers

    • Health/Nutrition

      • London’s knife crime victims are sewing themselves up, mayor says

        Khan continued: “The two main reasons given by people who are experts is: one, concern they themselves could be arrested, charged, prosecuted; but secondly, they are worried about somebody turning up at the A&E (emergency room) or the trauma center from gang B.”

      • Sisters Thought They Took Their Brother Off Life Support — Until He Walked Through The Front Door

        “I can’t conceive of how a budgetary issue would drive whether or not a person who was a John Doe would be fingerprinted before they’re taken off of life support,” said family attorney Cannon Lambert Sr. “If that’s the situation, something’s got to be done.”

      • Wrong Chicago family takes ‘brother’ off life support amid mistaken identity

        Both families are now suing the hospital and the city of Chicago for negligence and inflicting intentional emotional distress.

      • A raging TB epidemic in Papua New Guinea threatens to destabilize the entire Asia Pacific

        In Papua New Guinea, a TB epidemic threatens to turn into a disaster that could destabilize the Asia Pacific region. Situated about 90 miles from Australia in the Pacific Ocean, the island nation sees more than 100 cases of TB every day.

        Of these cases, five are drug-resistant strains, and 10 people will die, according to World Health Organization figures. Yet, in a nation where more than one-third of the population is illiterate, these figures grossly underestimate the actual number of TB cases due to underreporting. Additionally, 86% of the country’s 8 million citizens live in rural areas with little or no access to health care, further obscuring the numbers.

      • From the Green Revolution to GMOs: Toxic Agriculture Is the Problem Not the Solution

        Why did the European Food Safety Authority claim that glyphosate was not ecotoxic? This is the question environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason poses in her new 23-page report which can be accessed in full here.

        In places, the report reads like a compilation of peer-reviewed studies and official reports that have documented the adverse impacts of chemicals used in modern agriculture.

        Only a brief outline of Mason’s report is possible here. Readers are urged to consult the document to grasp more detailed insight into the issues she discusses as well as the evidence cited in support of her arguments and claims.

        Mason argues that the European Commission has consistently bowed to the demands of the pesticide lobby. In turn, she notes the fraudulent nature of the assessment of glyphosate which led to its relicensing in Europe and thus the continued use of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup.

        This ongoing support for the pesticide lobby flies in the face of so much evidence pointing to the detrimental effects of Roundup and other agrochemicals on the environment, living organisms, soil, water and human health.

    • Security

      • The Week in Tech: What Should Your City Do if It’s Hit by Ransomware? [iophk: No. Cities are seen as low-hanging fruit because many still run MS-Windows]

        Cities are now seen as low-hanging fruit by [attackers], because of “legacy systems and lack of budget” to upgrade, said Jennifer Daffron, a risk researcher at the University of Cambridge. They’re also great places to cause chaos, and [attackers], especially nation-state ones, “love to cause chaos to get street cred,” Mr. Falco said.

      • 4 chilling lessons from a tech hotline scam

        He had a few questions, did a Google search for Yahoo’s small business helpline and called. Little did he know the listed number wasn’t for Yahoo tech support at all. Scammers found a way to push their fake number to the top of his Google search, and Bob was tricked into calling a convincing-sounding technician. When the person on the other end asked for his login information, including password and home address, he didn’t question the request. [...]

      • [Old] Why [attackers] ignore most security flaws

        The reasons they wouldn’t can vary. Most [intrusion] is criminal, not espionage, and criminal [attackers] tend to make decisions based on hacking the most computers with the least amount of effort. Not all vulnerabilities are easy to use and not all of the easy to use vulnerabilities are in products that are widely deployed.

      • [Old] What’s the best approach to patching vulnerabilities?

        New research shows that most vulnerabilities aren’t exploited and those that are tend to have a high CVSS score (awarded on the basis of how dangerous and easy to exploit the vulnerability is). So, not surprisingly, the most easily exploited flaws are the ones exploited most frequently.

        What’s more surprising is that there’s apparently no relationship between the proof-of-concept (PoC) exploit code being published publicly online and the start of real-world attacks.

      • RDP Exposure To The Internet

        The Remote Desktop Protocol, commonly referred to as RDP, is a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft that is used to provide a graphical means of connecting to a network-connected computer. RDP client and server support has been present in varying capacities in most every Windows version since NT. Outside of Microsoft’s offerings, there are RDP clients available for most other operating systems. If the nitty gritty of protocols is your thing, Wikipedia’s Remote Desktop Protocol article is a good start on your way to a trove of TechNet articles.

        RDP is essentially a protocol for dangling your keyboard, mouse and a display for others to use. As you might expect, a juicy protocol like this has a variety of knobs used to control its security capabilities, including controlling user authentication, what encryption is used, and more. The default RDP configuration on older versions of Windows left it vulnerable to several attacks when enabled; however, newer versions have upped the game considerably by requiring Network Level Authentication (NLA) by default. If you are interested in reading more about securing RDP, UC Berkeley has put together a helpful guide, and Tom Sellers, prior to joining Rapid7, wrote about specific risks related to RDP and how to address them.

      • Golang Malware Targets Linux-Based Servers [Ed: Better headline would say something like, "malware written in some programming language (Go) wants people to foolishly install it on a server and it's compiled for or made compatible with GNU/Linux"]

        A cryptominer campaign has been targeting Linux-based servers using a new Golang malware, according to research published by F5 Labs.

        Though not often seen in the threat landscape, the Golang malware was first identified in mid-2018 and has sustained throughout 2019. Researchers noted the latest operation, which has infected an estimated several thousand machines, began around June 10. The first exploit requests were identified around June 16.

      • Microsoft wants to join private Linux security developer board [Ed: If Linux values security, then it will reject the company that started PRISM with the NSA]

        Microsoft has applied to join a private group of Linux developers responsible for reporting and discussing security issues before they go public.

      • Microsoft bids for behind-the-scenes access to Linux flaws [Ed: They have already taken over parts of the Linux Foundation, so why not this?]

        Request to join security lists come as the firm reveals Linux usage on Azure VMs outweighs Windows usage.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Are America’s Billionaires Turning Against Forever War?

        A new think tank is coming to Washington, D.C., this September, a development that might not elicit more than a shrug (or a groan) if not for the unlikely duo behind it. Two billionaires, George Soros, a liberal, and Charles Koch, a conservative, have teamed up to create the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, which will advocate for ending the United States’ forever wars. Stephen Kinzer of The Boston Globe, which first broke the story, calls the think tank “one of the most remarkable partnerships in modern American political history.”

        A statement on the institute’s website says, “The foreign policy of the United States has become detached from any defensible conception of U.S. interests and from a decent respect for the rights and dignity of humankind.”

        Aside from both being billionaires, at first glance Koch and Soros seem to have little in common politically. As Kelsey Piper explains in Vox, “Soros is, of course, widely hated on the right for his support of liberalized immigration and is frequently the target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Koch, meanwhile, has come under fire for his contributions to the Republican Party and his opposition to climate policies.”

        The institute, which will open in September before an official inauguration later in the fall, is named for former U.S. President John Quincy Adams who, Piper points out, “said in an 1821 speech that America ‘goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’ ” Koch and Soros contributed half a million dollars each to the institute, which has received an additional $800,000 in contributions from individual donors.

        “This is big,” Trita Parsi, former president of the National Iranian American Council and a co-founder of the new think tank, told the Globe. The institute will advocate for restraint and diplomacy instead of military intervention, which Kinzer calls “a radical notion in Washington, where every major think tank promotes some variant of neocon militarism or liberal interventionism.”

      • After British Commandos Seize Oil Tanker, Iran Accuses UK of Committing ‘Maritime Piracy’ on Behalf of US

        Iran on Friday accused the United Kingdom of committing an act of “maritime piracy” on behalf of the U.S. after British commandos seized an Iranian supertanker they said was carrying oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

        In a statement, Iran’s foreign ministry called the U.K.’s move an “illegal” and “destructive” act of aggression and demanded “the immediate release of the oil tanker, given that it has been seized at the request of the U.S., based on the information currently available.”

        Mohsen Rezai, a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander, said Friday that Iran should retaliate by seizing a British tanker if the U.K. does not release the Iranian vessel.

        “If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities’ duty to seize a British oil tanker,” Rezai tweeted. “Islamic Iran in its 40-year history has never initiated hostilities in any battles but has also never hesitated in responding to bullies.”

        The U.K.’s seizure of the Iranian tanker in waters east of Gibraltar on Thursday came amid heightened military tensions between Iran and the United States, sparked by President Donald Trump’s violation of the nuclear accord last year and continued belligerent threats.

      • Can Trump Be Beaten, Regardless?

        He stands before tanks, alongside military leaders, under a sky filled with jets performing at his command. He’s been on his way to autocratic rule and the Congress has been pitiable in its efforts to stop him.

      • Bomb Iran? Pass.

        Other than for show, there is no reason to attack Iran. It is not the most dangerous regime in the Middle East. Not by any calculation. That title goes to Saudi Arabia, the country that’s been pounding Yemen back to the stone age, with American weaponry, threatening its neighbors, including Bahrain and Qatar, and financing the Taliban and ISIS—not directly of course, but the laundromats of Saudi sheikh’s finances are as oily as their bank accounts.
        Remember that Clinton memo from 2009, when she was Secretary of State? “More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” she wrote that December. Ten years later, Saudi Arabia’s hands are no less bloody.
        Saudi Arabia, not Iran, sends out goons to other countries to assassinate and dismember journalists, or kidnap dissidents who manage to flee the country, beat them, drug them and and imprison them. Saudi Arabia, not Iran, remains the title holder in originating terrorism and destabilizing the Middle East. But Saudi Arabia is supposedly an American ally. It has a lot of oil, so much of it needed to ensure that we keep cooking the planet, and it’s been deceiving American presidents since FDR. Now it’s pushing this country toward war with Iran, and too many people in Trump’s administration are eager to be Saudi Arabia’s lackeys. Trump and his son in law are too, but those two want to make money. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton just want to do what John McCain once stupidly laughed off: Bomb.

      • China Winning’s Hand: Huawei, Trade and North Korea

        There had been earlier skirmishes, threats, talk of retaliation and warnings of dire consequences, but the trade war between the United States and China started in earnest on July 6, 2018 when Washington implemented its first China-specific tariffs. It ended just short of a year later, and though Chinese officials are too polite to publically proclaim victory, from their point of view, the outcome can be viewed in a favorable light.

        At first glance, it hardly seemed a telling blow. No trumpets sounded, no flags were lowered, no treaties signed. But a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to resume trade talks that had broken down in May. So? Hardly a surrender. Just a brief lull, a pause before hostilities re-commence? No. This is a moment of far more significance and one that many in the West do not fully appreciate. If the deal had been just to postpone tariffs Trump had threatened to impose on an additional $300 billion annually in Chinese imports then it could be considered a strategic retreat. After all, Trump will not overhaul the relationship with the world’s second-biggest economy as the 2020 election looms.

        But lifting certain commercial restrictions in the US on Huawei, a computer firm seen as a Trojan Horse for the Chinese military, and reports that the Trump administration will allow North Korea to keep its nuclear weapons suggest a more defining moment has arrived. The Chinese have always denied that Huawei has links to its military. But then they would say that, wouldn’t they? But from the Chinese perspective, they believe many US companies operating in China have links to the US military. After all, did not Ike Eisenhower warn in his 1961 farewell presidential address of the threat posed by the industrial military complex. It hasn’t lessened since then.

      • Cocked & Loaded: Iranians are Not Our Enemies

        “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night,” Donald Trump tweeted about Iran on June 21, showing us just how close we are to yet another war.

        In light of the shooting down of a U.S spy drone, the tanker incidents just a few days prior, and a trajectory of other escalatory moves, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton aren’t waging a maximum pressure campaign to change the behavior of their enemy, but are paving a path toward war.

        Regardless of the clear facts about the incidents, one thing is clear — military escalation must not be the response.

        The consequences would be disastrous in terms of casualties on all sides, further destabilization of the Middle East, the increased risk of nuclear proliferation and war, and the waste of trillions of dollars. Now more than ever, diplomatic efforts need to be pursued at all costs.

        In addition to the tangible checklist for preventing war, I suggest that it is overdue to change the narrative around Iran and its people.

        First, however, the context in which these events are occurring needs to be understood.

      • US is a Classic Empire and Is Becoming a Repressive Police State at Home

        As I set out to fly home from the UK on Monday following a short film project in Cambridge, I found my boarding pass, which I had been blocked from obtaining online the night before, carrying a bold-faced SSSS stamp in the lower right corner. Asking about it I was told by the British employee at the United check-in counter, “That is because you are on a US Department of Homeland Security list, sir.”

        Later, after my son and I got the boarding gate, my name was called and I was ushered through a door in the wall behind the gate desk where two British security agents pawed through my bag and ran a cloth over computer, phone and all the zippers on my suitcase and computer bag looking for traces of explosives. After that I was politely told that I and my son (whose luggage was left uninspected) could board the plane. When I asked why I, a journalist with no criminal record, was being treated like a suspected terrorist, they laughed and said I would have to inquire of the DHS.

        It’s not the first time this has happened to me. The same thing happened when my wife and I flew to Vienna in March where she was playing a concert on Vienna State Radio. That time at a checkpoint between Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and Terminal 2, my boarding pass was rejected, and when I got it reprinted a red stamp saying “ICE Security” was added. As on Monday, I was subjected to a special search in a separate location near the gate by an apologetic British security officer.

        Today is July 4, and many American citizens will be bringing blankets and lawn chairs to local fireworks displays to celebrate American independence. Of course, those fireworks really hark back to the “rockets’ red glare” referred to in Francis Scott Key’s racist national anthem, which was largely a condemnation of the freed black slaves that the British employed in their effort to conquer Baltimore harbor during the War of 1812.

      • Provoking World War III with Iran and a U.S. History of Provocation

        In the history of the United States and its history of interventionism, the recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman seem to be foreboding and ominous signs of what may come—an inevitable war with the Islamic Republic of Iran? To many who are watching the region closely, it is still unclear if Iran is behind such attacks. Moreover, and, thankfully, President Donald J. Trump backed away from bombing Iran after the Iranians allegedly and recently shot down a U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

        Even so, the bellicose rhetoric between President Trump (threatening Iran’s “obliteration”) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (calling Trump “mentally retarded”) have continued. Watching from the sidelines, everyone hopes diplomacy will prevail.

        Let us examine U.S. interventionism past more closely. I know of four clear international instances where the United States intervened under dubious circumstances, initiating war.

        The first happened just before the beginning of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). President James K. Polk sent American troops to the Rio Grande River under the command of Zachary Taylor. The Mexicans had believed that the border had been at the Nueces River, not the Rio Grande, the Nueces being significantly north of the Rio Grande. This move was provocative and incited Mexican forces to attack the U.S. Army at its fortifications on the Rio Grande in 1846. As the attacks on U.S. soldiers were reported by Taylor to Polk, the U.S. Congress promptly declared war on Mexico.

      • Open Letter to President Donald Trump

        We see with increasing concern your efforts to start a military confrontation with Iran based on false premises. Such a move would only benefit the arms makers and would leave a trail of destruction the world has seen few times before. Although you are the most powerful man in the world, Sir, you don’t have the right to threaten world peace for reasons that are difficult to understand.

      • Trump-Kim III: Making History Without Making Progress?

        Taking a few steps onto North Korean soil, and posing for pictures with a friendly dictator, seem to fit Trump-era diplomacy better than a carefully laid out process. But unless the US changes its bargaining position—in fact, starts to bargain—nothing will be come of this sudden trip, and Trump will have given North Korea another PR victory: the US president accepting it as a nuclear state.

        The media’s focus on Trump making history is strange, and a distraction from the main issue: peace and security on the Korean peninsula. Whereas Trump took a few steps inside North Korea, Jimmy Carter (in 1994) and Bill Clinton (in 2009) made peace missions to Pyongyang that had substantive results. The only real history Trump is making is his consistent adoration of dictators and substitution of nice personal exchanges for problem solving.

        More noteworthy than Trump’s gambit is the NY Times report that Trump is considering a different tack with the North Koreans this time around, namely, a proposal for a freeze on the North’s nuclear weapon production (presumably meaning production of the materials for the weapon as well as the weapon itself). Critics are already jumping on that idea too, pointing out the obvious: North Korea would retain its nuclear weapon stockpile while continuing missile testing. The US is said to weigh proposing that in return, North Korea will agree to abandon perhaps two weapon production and testing sites under international inspection.

      • A Mostly Serious Response to the Semi-Satirical Ken Silverstein on Trump’s Second Term

        Clearly the essay is an exercising in trolling (looking for views and reactions) and a kind of gaslighting, where the author messes with his readers’ sense of reality. It’s not full-on satire ala The Onion, where the trick is to make an openly and unashamedly absurd premise seem almost plausible but in ways that leave no doubt that the whole thing is a put-on. In Silverstein’s piece, the line between what he believes and what he doesn’t is never quite clear.

        Online sources have reported different things on this. One informant, a Facebook commenter and French Revolution student named Shawn Parkhurst, told Street that Silverstein claimed to believe “eighty to ninety percent of what he wrote.” A different source, fellow Counterpuncher Andrew Stewart, reports Silverstein writing the following: “It seems like a perfectly practical, logical argument to me — and also one that was meant to be partly satirical and provocative and not meant in any way to suggest I support Trump for reelection. I don’t like him and have spent a great deal of the last year, when not working on Washington Babylon, covering his administration’s horrible immigration policies.”

        It’s nice to know that Silverstein “do[es]n’t like [Donald] Trump.” We certainly didn’t think he did. Still, in what follows, we respond to his essay (somewhat semi-satirically) as if Silverstein really does believe much if not most of his eight-point argument. This is perhaps somewhat unfair, but we think it is useful for a depressing reason. Whatever percentage of the “perfectly practical, logical argument” Silverstein would seriously defend, his presentation of that argument channels some very real pathologies on the nominal Left, part of which can strangely enough be called (despite its outraged protests and denials, frequently combined with statements of dislike and even hatred for Trump) a TrumpenLeft.

      • Absolute Proof that Trump Is Stupid

        However – even if his planned surgical missile-strikes against Iran’s (non-existent) facilities for manufacturing nuclear warheads ‘succeeded’ – how is it possible for anyone to be able to rule-out blowback that would require placing U.S. boots-on-the-ground?

        Or that none of the blowback would entail Iranian-and-allied retaliatory missile-strikes against, for example, water-purification facilities in the extremely arid lands of Trump’s friends, Israel and Saudi Arabia? And maybe even against U.S. air bases and other military facilities in the region?

        Of course, the answer is: There is no way for anyone to know that, and anyone who would trust Trump’s words to the contrary would be taking them on pure faith, just as religious believers believe the Bible, the Quran, or any other allegedly sacred Scripture.

        Maybe Trump knew that this is so and was merely talking to his base, the people who do still trust him, but a recent event excludes such mere lying, and can be explained only by his being, actually, stupid:

        One of the most important and highest quality news-reports to have appeared in the New York Times was by Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Thomas Gibbons-Neff on June 21st, and was titled “Urged to Launch an Attack, Trump Listened to the Skeptics Who Said It Would Be a Costly Mistake”.

      • We’re Not the Good Guys

        Note that “Iranian aggression.” The rest of the piece, fairly typical of the tone of American media coverage of the ongoing Iran crisis, included sentences like this: “The C.I.A. has longstanding secret plans for responding to Iranian provocations.” I’m sure I’ve read such things hundreds of times without ever really stopping to think much about them, but this time I did. And what struck me was this: rare is the moment in such mainstream news reports when Americans are the “provocative” ones (though the Iranians immediately accused the U.S. military of just that, a provocation, when it came to the U.S. drone its Revolutionary Guard recently shot down either over Iranian air space or the Strait of Hormuz). When it comes to Washington’s never-ending war on terror, I think I can say with reasonable confidence that, in the past, the present, and the future, the one phrase you’re not likely to find in such media coverage will be “American aggression.”

        I mean, forget the history of the second half of the last century and all of this one so far. Forget that back in the Neolithic age of the 1980s, before Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein turned out to be the new Adolf Hitler and needed to be taken down by us (no aggression there), the administration of President Ronald Reagan actively backed his unprovoked invasion of, and war against, Iran. (That included his use of chemical weapons against Iranian troop concentrations that American military intelligence helped him target.) Forget that, in 2003, the administration of George W. Bush launched an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq, based on false intelligence about Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction and his supposed links to al-Qaeda. Forget that the Trump administration tore up a nuclear agreement with Iran to which that country was adhering and which would indeed have effectively prevented it from producing nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future. Forget that its supreme leader (in fatwas he issued) prohibited the creation or stockpiling of such weaponry in any case.

        Forget that the Trump administration, in a completely unprovoked manner, imposed crippling sanctions on that country and its oil trade, causing genuine suffering, in hopes of toppling that regime economically as Saddam Hussein’s had been toppled militarily in neighboring Iraq in 2003, all in the name of preventing the atomic weapons that the Obama-negotiated pact had taken care of. Forget the fact that an American president, who, at the last moment, halted air strikes against Iranian missile bases (after one of their missiles shot down that American drone) is now promising that an attack on “anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force… In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.”

      • Trump Is Forcing Iran to Follow North Korea’s Dangerous Example

        “Axis of Evil” first appeared in former President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address in January 2002, describing Iraq, Iran and North Korea months after the Sept. 11 attacks. Fourteen months after the speech, the United States invaded Iraq. The U.S. remains at war there 16 years later.

        Now, President Donald Trump is threatening Iran with “obliteration” while he visits and showers praise on North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Why the different treatment of these two remaining countries in the “Axis of Evil”? It’s simple: North Korea has an estimated 20 to 60 nuclear warheads and the missiles to deliver them, and Iran lacks nuclear weapons. The lesson is painfully clear: To avoid a devastating war with the United States, develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

      • Seoul dissolves Japan fund for WWII sex slaves

        Japan insists this package permanently settled the past, but parts of South Korean society have repeatedly returned to the issue of compensation.

        While Tokyo has formally apologised for its actions, right-wing politicians have frequently equivocated, irritating Seoul and sparking demands for a more complete reckoning.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Fact Check: Picture of handcuffed woman in burqa goes viral with wrong claim

        Facebook user Riyaz Shaikh posted the picture along with a caption in Hindi that claims the woman was arrested in Australia for wearing a burqa. He appreciated the woman for showing courage in front of police and asked people to share the post as much as possible.

        The archived version of the post can be seen here.

        India Today’s Anti Fake News War Room (AFWA) has found the claim to be false. One, this photo is not from Australia but Spain. And more importantly, the woman was not arrested for wearing a burqa. A Spanish counter-terror police team arrested her in 2015 for allegedly recruiting women into Islamic State.

      • Doubling Down: The Military, Big Bankers and Big Oil Are Not In Climate Denial, They Are in Control and Plan to Keep It That Way.

        The ruling class may be an utter failure but that is not stopping them taking aggressive action on climate change. Their chief concern: maintaining power, control and profits at all costs.

        The plan is well underway and it sure ain’t the Green New Deal. Just imagine a more extreme version of the world that already exists: where healthcare is rationed; where wealth inequality strangles democracy; where austerity is a weapon of class warfare; where millions die prematurely from toxins in air and water; where war and incarceration is the solution of choice; where people are rounded up in concentration camps; where corporations rule unchallenged; where extreme weather wrecks havoc in an expanding circle of misery. The only new thing about their solution is the stench of fascism that grows ever stronger and more odious.

        The Bosses Want More of the Same

        When Trump and the Republicans deny climate change, when Pelosi, Pallone, Perez, Biden and Obama join with Trump in sabotaging the Green New Deal or dismissing climate action as too expensive, too dreamy, not practical or too pure — they are all bold-faced liars and frauds.

        The Republicans know full well that their partners in crime — oil companies, bankers and the military brass have known about climate change for decades. And, the corporate Democrats know that these same powerful players they too represent already have a risky plan to deal with climate change. From their shared perspective, even the Democrat’s Green New Deal, despite its weaknesses, must be marginalized since it competes with the establishment’s plans for our future.

      • U.S. Militarism and the One-Sided Class War

        Despite capitalism’s internal contradictions, it can sustain itself in various forms – even fascism is a capitalist construct – as long as the bourgeois class is a “class for itself” and the working class is subjectively reduced to non-existence as a political force because of its lack of class consciousness. The various methods with which the rulers are able to leverage ideological consent from the oppressed don’t necessarily require extensive study of Gramsci, although it would help. Rather, it is only necessary to remind ourselves of the very simple but accurate observation provided by Marx that the dominant ideas of any society reflect the ideas of its dominant class.

        While the modalities of how an increasingly small ruling element can sustain its rule in the midst of an ongoing capitalist crisis are an interesting and, indeed, critical subject, it is not the subject of this short essay. I will instead just focus on one issue unfolding in the public domain that I believe serves as an example of how this ideological feat is pulled off – the debate, or more actually, non-debate on militarism and the military budget.

        Last week, as the public was being prepped for the first Democrat party debates in that ESPN style of reporting that now dominates at CNN and other cable stations which frame such political events as the debates as entertainment spectacles, the Senate passed (with the support of 36 Democrats), the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 86 to 8 that gave the Trump administration $750 billion for the war machine – an increase that makes this military budget the largest in U.S. history. Only five Democrats voted against the bill; six others including Senator Sanders and Warren failed to vote because they were on the campaign trail running for President.

        [...]

        The NSS under Trump does not depart from the goals of previous administrations during the post-Cold War period. However, it does represent a more intense commitment to the use of coercive force to offset the gains being made by their capitalist rivals, mainly China and Russia. Though not directly referenced in the NSS, the Trump forces are now concerned with competition from the European Union, as it is being seen as an instrument and expression of the interests of German capital and the growing calls in Europe for an independent military force.

        But all of this still begs the question: if the Republicans are supposed to be the party of war and the Democrats the sophisticated global cosmopolitans committed to peace, multilateralism and international law, why wouldn’t the Democrat party’s popular base react more vigorously to oppose the obscene squandering of public resources for the military?

        There are two elements to this as an explanation. One I alluded to already, the diversionary impact of Russiagate, with the other element being the dramatic shift to the right in the consciousness of the Democrat party base as a result of the ideological influence of the Obama administration and Obama himself.

      • White Supremacist in Charlottesville Case Gets Life Sentence

        An avowed white supremacist who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters during a white nationalist rally in Virginia was sentenced to life in prison Friday on hate crime charges.

        James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee, Ohio, had pleaded guilty in March to the 2017 attack that killed one person and injured more than two dozen others. In exchange, prosecutors dropped their request for the death penalty. His attorneys asked for a sentence less than life. He will be sentenced next month on separate state charges.

        Before the judge handed down his sentence, Fields, accompanied by one of his lawyers, walked to a podium in the courtroom and spoke.

        “I apologize for the hurt and loss I’ve caused,” he said, later adding, “Every day I think about how things could have gone differently and how I regret my actions. I’m sorry.”

      • Creating a Climate for War With Iran

        Media outlets are creating a climate for a US military attack on Iran by hyping the idea that Iran is an imminent threat to peace, by failing to offer evidence that calls the US’s accusations against Iran into question, by amplifying warmongers’ voices and by naturalizing America’s supposed right to spy on every country on earth.

        Headlines are breathlessly suggesting to readers that Iranians are going to kill Americans if Americans don’t kill Iranians first.

        A Hill article (6/7/19) told readers “Why Congress Needs Accurate Intelligence on the Iran Threat”; Fox (6/14/19) explained “The Trump Administration’s Strategy to Meet Threat from Iran.” A New York Times article (6/17/19) by David E. Sanger called Iran one of the “nuclear crises” facing the US, even though the International Atomic Energy Agency has said that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program and hasn’t been close to having one since at least 2003, and there is reason to believe that it never has been close.

        Presenting Iran as a threat, nuclear or otherwise, over and over again carries the clear message that it must be confronted. Yet it’s much more accurate to say that the US is a threat to Iran than the opposite (FAIR.org, 6/6/19); after all, it’s the US government that is destroying Iran’s economy through sanctions that limit Iranians’ access to food and medicine, while surrounding Iran with military bases and land, sea and air forces. Iran has done nothing remotely comparable to the US.

    • Environment

      • Study Finds Holding Governments and Corporations Legally Accountable for Climate Crisis ‘Has Become a Global Phenomenon’

        The new report from the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science—entitled Global Trends in Climate Change Litigation: 2019 Snapshot (pdf)—focuses on the 1,328 legal actions related to the climate crisis filed between 1990 and May of this year, with cases launched in more than two dozen countries.

        The suits have been brought by citizens, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and local governments.

        Summarizing the study’s findings, report co-author Joana Setzer said in a statement that “holding government and businesses to account for failing to combat climate change has become a global phenomenon.”

        “People and environmental groups are forcing governments and companies into court for failing to act on climate change, and not just in the United States,” said Setzer. “Now the number of countries in which people are taking climate change court action is likely to continue to rise.”

        Though the United States accounts for the large majority of the cases—1,023, according to the report—multiple lawsuits also have been filed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Researchers also noted cases brought to the European Union, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, and the U.N. Human Rights Committee.

      • [Older] 83 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump

        President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration, with help from Republicans in Congress, has often targeted environmental rules it sees as burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other big businesses.

        A New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School and other sources, counts more than 80 environmental rules and regulations on the way out under Mr. Trump.

        Our list represents two types of policy changes: rules that were officially reversed and rollbacks still in progress. The Trump administration has released an aggressive schedule to try to finalize many of these rollbacks this year.

      • Trump to Tout America as Environmental Leader in a Speech on Monday

        Despite cutting more than 80 environmental regulations, appointing a climate change denier to the National Security Council and giving senior administration roles to people who worked for the fossil fuel industry, President Donald Trump will deliver a speech Monday that a White House spokesman said will “recognize his administration’s environmental leadership and America’s role in leading the world,” as the Guardian was the first to report.

        Trump intends to tout the country’s clean air and water. Although, he often boasts that the U.S. has the cleanest air in the world, statistics show otherwise. The nonprofit Health Effects Institute’s State of Global Air 2019 report ranked the United States 37th dirtiest out of 195 countries for ozone, also known as smog.

      • US air quality is slipping after years of improvement

        There were 15% more days with unhealthy air in America both last year and the year before than there were on average from 2013 through 2016, the four years when America had its fewest number of those days since at least 1980.

        President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed just the opposite, saying earlier this month in Ireland: “We have the cleanest air in the world, in the United States, and it’s gotten better since I’m president.”

      • The Crunch Question on Climate: How Can I Help?

        Working in climate and environment, you hear this question a lot. On one hand, environmental groups — including Greenpeace — will tell you that every action you take can make a difference. Every action counts! On the other, editorials and experts will tell you that it doesn’t matter what you do in your everyday life, because the problem can’t be solved by individual action. They may claim that its a cop out and lets corporations off the hook, because the problem lies with the broken but deeply entrenched system we’re caught in. After all, 70 percent of emissions are created by 100 companies, right?

        As this Vox piece laid out so well, as a climate campaigner, my friends also used to proudly tell me how much they recycle, or about their efforts to eat less meat or buy green products whenever they could afford them. It always broke my heart to tell them: sure… but to have a real impact you need to refuse and reduce first, join a climate strike, or become a politically active citizen who demands the mayor in your city launches an ambitious mobility plan or the government in your country starts holding corporations accountable.

      • Amid plastic deluge, Southeast Asia refuses Western waste

        The Philippines sent 69 containers of waste back to Canada at the end of June, after a five-year spat that symbolizes rising anger in Southeast Asia about imports of dirty waste. The shipment arrived weeks after Indonesia and Malaysia sent waste they say was contaminated back to Europe and the US. In all three cases, the country returning the trash said it had been labelled as recyclable — despite containing other rubbish such as used diapers and household waste.

      • ‘Unprecedented’ Wildfires Burned Across the Arctic Circle In June

        The fires have been burning across the Arctic Circle in Siberia and Alaska for weeks. Though fire is a natural part of some Arctic ecosystems, scientists are calling the wildfires “unprecedented” for the month of June based on their size and carbon dioxide emissions.

        “These are some of the biggest fires on the planet, with a few appearing to be larger than 100,000 hectares,” Thomas Smith, professor of geography at the London School of Economics, said in an email. “The amount of CO2 emitted from Arctic Circle fires in June 2019 is larger than all of the CO2 released from Arctic Circle fires in the same month from 2010 through to 2018 put together.”

      • Kwekwe city loses 55pc treated water to leaks

        Illegal gold panners have been singled out for breaking water pipes in search of water for their gold purification process.

      • Rick Snyder, Ex-Michigan Governor, Withdraws From Harvard Post Over Flint Uproar

        “The people of Flint, Michigan — and especially low-income black residents — have suffered acutely because of their poisonous water supply, and I have been deeply moved by the personal and thoughtful messages I have received from people in Flint,” Douglas Elmendorf, the Harvard Kennedy School dean, wrote in an email on Wednesday to students, faculty and staff members.

        “We appreciate Governor Snyder’s interest in participating in such discussions in our community,” he continued, “but we and he now believe that having him on campus would not enhance education here in the ways we intended.”

        Mr. Snyder, through a spokesman, declined to comment further.

      • Are parts of India becoming too hot for humans?

        Experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say that even if the world succeeds in cutting carbon emissions, limiting the predicted rise in average global temperatures, parts of India will become so hot they will test the limits of human survivability.

      • Energy

        • More Signs That Natural Gas Can’t Compete With Renewables on Cost

          From a natural gas industry conference to a major metropolitan area, more signs are emerging that natural gas is in a losing economic battle with renewables and battery storage. And considering recent news that existing fossil fuel projects are already enough to push the world past international climate goals, this emerging economic reality couldn’t come soon enough.

        • ‘Trump Is Not Above the Law’: New Lawsuit Aims to Defeat Keystone XL

          The lawsuit (pdf) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, the same court that halted construction on the dirty energy project last year, ruling that the administration hadn’t adequately considered the consequences of the pipeline when approving it. In response, President Donald Trump revoked the initial permit and issued a new one in March.

          “After we won in court, Trump tried to skirt the law,” Jackie Prange, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said in a statement Monday. “But as this new lawsuit shows, no president can, on a whim, unilaterally exempt the government from complying with our nation’s bedrock environmental laws.”

          Jared Margolis, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), vowed that opponents of the pipeline “won’t stop fighting Trump’s underhanded attempt to dodge the courts and ram this dirty fossil fuel project down America’s throat.”

        • Plotting Against Venezuela: Another Coup for Oil?

          After the publication of Dan Kovalik’s four books since 2017 (The Plot to Scapegoat Russia, The Plot to Attack Iran, The Plot to Control the World and now The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela), I am finally honouring my promise to him to write a review, made at the time his first book was published two years ago. However, the review is of this fourth text, which just arrived last week. Although one could say “better late than never,” in this case, being “late” is actually a great advantage, as what is happening in Venezuela is, at this time, perhaps the single most important international issue.

          It is no accident that commentators from Venezuela, Cuba, the rest of Latin America, the US itself and elsewhere are evaluating the Venezuelan experience as currently (and to differing degrees) occupying the epicentre of anti-imperialism or even the epicentre of the anti-imperialist left. The latter assessment is of great significance. Unlike Russia and Iran as the subjects of two of the three previous publications, the component of a new ideology – and the Venezuelan example with which we can identify – highlights the enormous international significance of this Latin American country for this entire hemisphere and beyond. A better world is indeed possible. This is not to underestimate or denigrate in any manner Iran, whose revolution I fully support, or Russia as a key player in support of a multi-polar world, one of whose key ingredients today is undoubtedly proud support for the Bolivarian Revolution and President Maduro. Irrespective of what one may think of these evaluations of Venezuela as the new epicentre, this country remains the focus of debate and discussion regarding international relations and, in particular, US policy toward the entire world.

        • Brazilians reject Bolsonaro’s nuclear plan

          President Jair Bolsonaro’s nuclear plan is leaving many of his fellow Brazilians distinctly unenthusiastic at the prospect not of pollution alone but also of perceptible risk.

          A few days ago a procession of men, women and children carrying banners and placards wound its way through the dry parched fields in the country’s semi-arid region in the north-east. It was a Sunday, and the crowd was led by the local bishop. But this was not one of the customary religious processions appealing for rain.

          This time, the inhabitants of the small dusty town of Itacuruba were protesting against plans to install a nuclear plant on the banks of the river where they fish and draw their water.

          The São Francisco river, which rises in the centre of Brazil and meanders its way 1,800 miles north and east to the Atlantic, is Brazil’s largest river flowing entirely within the country.

          Over the years five dams and a scheme to divert and channel water to irrigate the region have severely reduced its volume.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • The Battle for the Grand Canyon

          Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt said he has “no reason” to support lifting the Obama-era ban, but even if the administration denies the pending petition, experts say the topic of uranium mining around the Grand Canyon won’t go away anytime soon.

          The federal land around the Grand Canyon could hold roughly 12% of Northern Arizona’s untapped uranium, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates.

        • Critics Question Cost of Trump’s ‘Salute to America’ Production

          While the final price tag for Independence Day event is not known, The Washington Post reported Tuesday the National Park Service was diverting $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees to cover costs. Trump tweeted the cost “will be very little compared to what it is worth.” The National Park Service falls under the purview of the Department of the Interior.

          Two groups — the non-profit Democracy Forward and the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association — are urging the department’s Office of the Inspector General to investigate what they say may be a “potentially unlawful decision to divert” national parks funds for the July 4 event. In a recent statement, the groups said the move “potentially violates a federal law that allows these visitor fees to be used only for specific purposes related to enhancing visitor experiences…”

        • Hundreds of Sharks and Rays Entangled in Plastic Debris, Study Finds

          The research, published in Endangered Species Research by scientists at the University of Exeter, sought to bring light to a problem that is a major animal welfare concern, but has slipped under the radar compared to larger threats like commercial fishing, as a press release published by Science Daily reported. The entanglement causes tremendous suffering in animals that survive it.

          “One example in the study is a shortfin mako shark with fishing rope wrapped tightly around it,” said Kristian Parton, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall, as Science Daily reported.

        • Sharks and rays ‘starved and suffocated’ by plastic debris and ‘ghost’ fishing gear

          More than a thousand sharks and rays have become entangled in discarded fishing gear and plastic debris, potentially leading to starvation and suffocation, scientists have warned.

          Academics at the University of Exeter feared the issue was going “under the radar” compared to other threats such as over-fishing, and set out to assess the scale of the problem.

          Their study has become the first to use Twitter to gather such data, in addition to existing research.

        • Hundreds of sharks and rays tangled in plastic

          University of Exeter scientists scoured existing published studies and Twitter for shark and ray entanglements, and found reports of more than 1,000 entangled individuals.

          And they say the true number is likely to be far higher, as few studies have focussed on plastic entanglement among shark and rays.

          The study says such entanglement — mostly involving lost or discarded fishing gear — is a “far lesser threat” to sharks and rays than commercial fishing, but the suffering it causes is a major animal welfare concern.

          “One example in the study is a shortfin mako shark with fishing rope wrapped tightly around it,” said Kristian Parton, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

          “The shark had clearly continued growing after becoming entangled, so the rope — which was covered in barnacles — had dug into its skin and damaged its spine.

        • Global review of shark and ray entanglement in anthropogenic marine debris

          Numerous marine taxa become entangled in anthropogenic marine debris, including cartilaginous fishes (class: Chondrichthyes, e.g. elasmobranchs [sharks, skates and rays], holocephalans [chimaeras]). Here we review research that has been conducted on the susceptibility of these taxa to entanglement in marine debris by conducting a systematic literature review complemented by novel data collection from the social media site Twitter. Our literature review yielded 47 published elasmobranch entanglement events (N = 557 animals) in 26 scientific papers, with 16 different families and 34 species in all 3 major ocean basins affected. The most common entangling objects were ghost fishing gear (74% of animals) followed by polypropylene strapping bands (11% of animals), with other entangling materials such as circular plastic debris, polythene bags and rubber tyres comprising 1% of total entangled animals. Most cases were from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans (49 and 46%, respectively), with a bias towards the USA (44% of animals), the UK (30% of animals) and South Africa (10% of animals). While investigating Twitter, we found 74 cases of elasmobranch entanglement, representing 14 families and 26 species. On Twitter, ghost fishing gear was again the most common entangling material (94.9% of animals), with the majority of entanglement records originating from the Atlantic Ocean (89.4% of total entangled animals). Entanglement in marine debris is symptomatic of a degraded marine environment and is a clear animal welfare issue. Our evidence suggests, however, that this issue is likely a far lesser threat to this taxon than direct or indirect take in marine fisheries. We highlight a relative paucity of scientific data on this subject and recommend a standardisation of reporting in an attempt to accurately quantify elasmobranch entanglement risks and locate interaction hotspots.

    • Finance

      • Sanctions: Failure of U.S. Foreign Policy

        President Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un, on June 30th may turn out to be more than just another publicity stunt similar to the failed “summit” held in Vietnam in February – a political fiasco.

        The New York Times and other media report that Trump is planning to revise the terms of U.S. policy toward N. Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal. He is apparently planning to shift from insisting on total denuclearization to a freeze-in-place policy, thus permitting N. Korea to maintain its current nuclear arsenal. Such a revision would lead to a significant change in the sanctions the U.S. imposes on N. Korea to enforce its demand for complete denuclearization, one embraced by the previous three presidents – and that has not worked.

        In response to Trump’s meeting with Kim and a possible revision of the N. Korea policy, John Bolton, the National Security Advisor (NSA), freaked out. “I read this NYT story with curiosity. Neither the NSC staff nor I have discussed or heard of any desire to ‘settle for a nuclear freeze by NK,’” he tweeted. He added, its “a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the President.” In April 2018, shortly after assuming the role of NSA, Bolton called for a preemptive war with N. Korea.

      • US vs. China: From Tariff War to Economic War

        This past weekend, June 29, 2019 Trump and China president, Xi, met again at the G20 in Japan in the midst of a potential further escalating trade war. But the outcome looks eerily similar to that of the prior G20 meeting in Buenos Aires on December 2, 2018, when Trump and Xi also met.

        Once more, the same post-G20 ‘spin is in’: i.e. Trump declares publicly he has such a great relationship with Xi. There’s a great trade deal soon forthcoming between the two countries. US and China trade teams will now begin to thrash out the details on the remaining 10% or so of US-China trade differences. In the interim, once again, Trump announced he will withhold imposing more tariffs (this time on an additional $325 billion of China imports to the US). In other words, coming out of the latest G20 it’s almost an exact déjà vu all over again to the outcome which occurred at last December 2, 2018’s G20 meeting between Trump and Xi in Buenos Aires.

        Will it be different this time? Will there by an agreement? Or will Trump once again just be buying time—i.e. until just before the 2020 elections? Until he sees China’s economy softening further and he raises US demands further again? Or maybe Trump and his neocon trade advisers—Lighthizer, Navarro, Bolton who are now driving US trade (and most of US foreign) policy—don’t want to compromise and will accept nothing less than China’s capitulation on the nextgen technology issue that was at the core of the blow up of negotiations in May 2019?

      • We Have the Money to Fix Our Food System

        Poverty is expensive, but fixing it doesn’t have to be — at least not compared to the status quo.

        The Institute for Policy Studies and the Poor People’s Campaign recently released a Moral Budget, and it’s a veritable treasure trove of illuminating data proving that point.

        They propose we could easily cut $350 billion from the annual military budget — which would still leave us with a bigger budget than China, Russia, and Iran combined — and raise $886 billion by enacting fair taxes on the rich and corporations.

      • What Sanctions Mean for My Iranian-American Family

        “What’s wrong?” I asked my mother, as I saw her broken expression. She was on the phone, speaking with my grandparents in Iran. “A terrible thing has happened,” she replied.

        My grandparent’s home in Tehran had been broken into. The thieves took everything they could carry — my grandmother’s jewelry, my uncle’s prized watch collection, his wedding band, and some cash. Perhaps the only thing left untouched was the grand, ornate Persian rug in their living room.

        My grandfather had left the house for 10 minutes for afternoon prayers at the mosque. Now, he swears to never leave his home unattended again. He takes turns leaving the house with my grandmother, both in constant dread of another break-in.

        Across Iran, such burglaries seem to be increasing as ordinary Iranian people face increased hardship from U.S.-imposed sanctions.

        As a dual citizen, I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, but I’ve been traveling to Iran regularly ever since I was four months old.

        I grew up in a household that taught me to love who I am, to see the wisdom in maintaining cultural intricacies, and to relish in the socio-religious traditions that keep life going. Words cannot do justice to the feeling of affinity that envelops me every time I step into my second home in Tehran.

        My mother, in efforts to ease her old parents’ anxious hearts, could only repeat tavakol be khoda, or as we like to translate it: “Your faith must be stronger than your fear.”

      • The IMF and World Bank: Partners in Backwardness

        It was set up basically by the United States in 1944, along with its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their purpose was to create an international order like a funnel to make other countries economically dependent on the United States. To make sure that no other country or group of countries – even all the rest of the world – could not dictate U.S. policy. American diplomats insisted on the ability to veto any action by the World Bank or IMF. The aim of this veto power was to make sure that any policy was, in Donald Trump’s words, to put America first. “We’ve got to win and they’ve got to lose.”

        The World Bank was set up from the outset as a branch of the military, of the Defense Department. John J. McCloy (Assistant Secretary of War, 1941-45), was the first full-time president. He later became Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank (1953-60). McNamara was Secretary of Defense (1961-68), Paul Wolfowitz was Deputy and Under Secretary of Defense (1989-2005), and Robert Zoellick was Deputy Secretary of State. So I think you can look at the World Bank as the soft shoe of American diplomacy.

      • Meet the Congressman Defending Questionable Tax Breaks for a Company Connected to His Rich Brother

        When New Jersey Rep. Donald W. Norcross appeared at a 2015 groundbreaking for a company building its new international headquarters on Camden’s waterfront, he called it the “perfect partner” to help the poverty-stricken city return to its midcentury prosperity.

        That same month, the Democratic congressman went to the House floor to praise Holtec International and its chairman, Kris Singh, a campaign contributor who was seeking federal approvals and funding for nuclear cleanup initiatives around the country. The company had promised to bring hundreds of new manufacturing jobs to South Jersey, including highly paid engineers to advance its nuclear technologies.

        Singh, the congressman said, had been looking for a place to manufacture advanced small modular nuclear reactors, known as SMRs, an innovation that could transform the global nuclear industry.

        “Dr. Singh is going to start out with 400 new employees and go to 1,000 after a few years, creating these new SMRs,” Norcross said. “He literally could have gone anywhere in the world, where many of his products currently go. He is coming to Camden, New Jersey, here in America.”

        Four years later, few besides Norcross have heaped such praise on Holtec.

      • Digital Jail: How Electronic Monitoring Drives Defendants Into Debt

        On Oct. 12, 2018, Daehaun White walked free, or so he thought. A guard handed him shoelaces and the $19 that had been in his pocket at the time of his booking, along with a letter from his public defender. The lanky 19-year-old had been sitting for almost a month in St. Louis’ Medium Security Institution, a city jail known as the Workhouse, after being pulled over for driving some friends around in a stolen Chevy Cavalier. When the police charged him with tampering with a motor vehicle — driving a car without its owner’s consent — and held him overnight, he assumed he would be released by morning. He told the police that he hadn’t known that the Chevy, which a friend had lent him a few hours earlier, was stolen. He had no previous convictions. But the $1,500 he needed for the bond was far beyond what he or his family could afford. It wasn’t until his public defender, Erika Wurst, persuaded the judge to lower the amount to $500 cash, and a nonprofit fund, the Bail Project, paid it for him, that he was able to leave the notoriously grim jail. “Once they said I was getting released, I was so excited I stopped listening,” he told me recently. He would no longer have to drink water blackened with mold or share a cell with rats, mice and cockroaches. He did a round of victory pushups and gave away all of the snack cakes he had been saving from the cafeteria.

        When he finally read Wurst’s letter, however, he realized there was a catch. Even though Wurst had argued against it, the judge, Nicole Colbert-Botchway, had ordered him to wear an ankle monitor that would track his location at every moment using GPS. For as long as he would wear it, he would be required to pay $10 a day to a private company, Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services, or EMASS. Just to get the monitor attached, he would have to report to EMASS and pay $300 up front — enough to cover the first 25 days, plus a $50 installation fee.

      • Solidarity and Manufacturing

        If there’s one thing the hotel workers’ and teachers’ strikes last year have driven home, it’s that the future of American labor does not lie with manufacturing. Most of those jobs are gone. And according to David Ranney in his new book, “Living and Dying on the Factory Floor,” they’re not coming back. “The height of manufacturing employment in the U.S.,” Ranney writes, “was in 1979 when 19.5 million workers or 22 percent of the U.S. workforce were employed in manufacturing jobs.” The steel mills of Southeast Chicago and Northwest Indiana have shut down. So have the related factories where Ranney worked in the 1970s and ’80s and which he describes in his new book. “Today only 12.4 million workers,” he reports, “or 8 percent of the national workforce, are in manufacturing.”

        This memoir describes “the exploitation of back breaking and dangerous labor and the often unhealthy and unsafe working conditions.” It is also about his South Chicago co-workers – white, black, Mexican – and how they divided along lines of race and nationality, until those rare moments when they defied management and their corrupt union and struck. As one worker, Lawrence, summed up this solidarity during a strike at Chicago Shortening: “There ain’t no justice…just us.” Or, as Ranney explains: “the strike exposed the fact that union, company and government institutions were united in opposition to a class-based ‘us.’ In the course of the strike…we overcame the divisive aspects of race, alcoholism and drug addiction in favor of solidarity.”

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Noam Chomsky: Trump Is Consolidating Far-Right Power Globally

        It is no easy task to make sense of U.S. foreign policy in the current era. Trump is wildly unpredictable and lacks any semblance of a coherent view of world affairs, appearing to believe that all it takes is “the art of the deal” to turn “enemies” into friends. Meanwhile, since Trump’s rise to power, the end of U.S. hegemony has come into sight.

        In the exclusive Truthout interview below, renowned public intellectual Chomsky — one of the world’s most astute critics of U.S. foreign policy in the postwar era — sheds considerable light on the current state of U.S. foreign policy, including Trump’s relations with the leaders of North Korea, Russia and China, as well as his so-called “Middle East Peace Plan.”

      • Noam Chomsky: Trump Is History Repeated as Farce

        Even for Donald Trump, the remarks were almost staggering in their density. Last month, in an exclusive interview with the Financial Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Western liberalism has “outlived its purpose,” adding that “it has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.” When asked during the G20 summit in Osaka if he agreed, Trump offered this gleaming ruby: “[Putin] sees what’s going on—I guess if you look at what’s happening in Los Angeles, where it’s so sad to look, and what’s happening in San Francisco and a couple of other cities, which are run by an extraordinary group of liberal people. I don’t know what they’re thinking.”

        Trying to deduce any kind of grand strategy from a president who confuses the West with California and believes the moon is part of Mars can feel like a fool’s errand, if not “the purest acid satire.” But as Noam Chomsky argues in an interview with Truthout this week, “there is a strategy”—one that has empowered the far right across the globe and ultimately endangers human life on earth. If Ronald Reagan’s presidency was a tragedy, he speculates, then Trump’s is history repeating itself as farce.

        “It’s understandable that the farce elicits ridicule, and no doubt some are relishing the coming photo-op of Trump and Boris Johnson upholding Anglo-American civilization,” claims the celebrated linguist and philosopher. “But for the world, it’s dead serious, from the destruction of the environment and the growing threats of terminal nuclear war to a long list of other crimes and horrors.”

        That list includes the administration’s escalating brinksmanship with Iran. While he acknowledges the president does not appear to share his cabinet’s lust for war, Chomsky contends that Trump’s hawkishness is nonetheless hugely destructive. “In the real world, the U.S. unilaterally decided to destroy the well-functioning nuclear agreement (JCPOA), with ludicrous charges accepted by virtually no one with the slightest credibility, and to impose extremely harsh sanctions designed to punish the Iranian people and undermine the economy,” he observes. “The [U.S. government] also uses its enormous economic power, including virtual control of the international financial system, to compel others to obey Washington’s dictates. None of this has even minimal legitimacy; the same is true of Cuba and other cases.”

      • After Supreme Court Refusal, It’s Up to the People to End Gerrymandering

        The Supreme Court has abdicated its responsibility to strike down partisan gerrymandering. This occurs when one party intentionally manipulates district boundaries to skew its voting power, notwithstanding the will of the voters. Although both parties engage in partisan gerrymandering, Republicans benefit from it far more than Democrats.

        Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the conservative 5-4 majority in Rucho v. Common Cause, admitted that excessive partisan gerrymandering is “incompatible with democratic principles” and “leads to results that reasonably seem unjust.” But, the Court held, challenges to the practice “present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.”

        In her passionate dissent, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan noted that extreme partisan gerrymanders “deprive citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights” — the rights of equal participation in the political process, “to join with others to advance political beliefs, and to choose their political representatives.” Kagan wrote, “For the first time ever, this Court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.”

      • The GOP’s Power Grabs Grow Bolder by the Day

        On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on two cases highlighting the collision between partisan power grabs and setting the ground rules for two of the most important elections in America—those for U.S. House and state legislative chambers.

        One ruling concerns whether the Trump administration can add a question to the 2020 census that asks if anyone residing in that address is not a U.S. citizen. The other concerns whether hyper-partisanship is unconstitutional when state legislatures run by a single party draw electoral districts to maximize their party’s likelihood of winning elections.

        Both cases pull back the curtain on political power plays that are built on segregating the public to determine which major party is more likely to win office, and which slices of society have elected representatives with power to act on their behalf. The Republican Party, more so than Democrats, has used the bluntest tactics on these fronts to shore up their power in recent years—and in anticipation of the decade beginning in 2020. Whether the U.S. Supreme Court will act to rebalance excessive partisanship is an open question. Most legal scholars are expecting the court’s conservative majority to side with the Republican Party.

      • State Redistricting a Target for “Dark Money” After Supreme Court Ruling

        Redistricting for the next decade will be up to the states after the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal courts do not have the power to rule on partisan gerrymandering, the practice by which lawmakers draw maps that flagrantly benefit their own party.

        The decision will make the control of state legislatures a priority for both parties in 2020, as — in the majority of states — the state lawmakers in power draw the maps for congressional districts. The ruling could also increase calls for nonpartisan congressional redistricting commissions, which more than a dozen states have adopted in some form.

        But support for nonpartisan redistricting processes often falls along partisan lines. And in recent years, state-level ballot initiatives designed to create more independent redistricting processes have been the target of out-of-state cash, often from groups that do not disclose their donors.

        In 2018, five states — Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Utah — passed ballot initiatives to reduce gerrymandering, which will take effect when the next round of redistricting begins in 2021.

        In those states, committees affiliated with each party, “dark money” groups from inside the Beltway and a nonprofit run by Texas billionaires were just a few of the players using their money and influence to sway the ballot.

      • Glenn Greenwald Targeted by Brazil’s Far-Right Government

        The Brazilian government is targeting one of its biggest critics, journalist Glenn Greenwald, in a move that has been decried by observers as an intimidation tactic designed to stifle opposition to right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

        The government’s finance ministry’s money laundering unit was asked by federal police to investigate Greenwald’s finances, O Antagonista reported Tuesday. The right-wing Brazilian news site said that the investigation would focus on whether Greenwald paid for access to leaked records he used in reporting on the Bolsonaro government’s “Operation Car Wash” sting.

      • The GOP Is Embracing More Ruthless Power Grabs in the Face of Huge Political Challenges

        On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on two cases highlighting the collision between partisan power grabs and setting the ground rules for two of the most important elections in America—those for U.S. House and state legislative chambers.

        One ruling concerns whether the Trump administration can add a question to the 2020 census that asks if anyone residing in that address is not a U.S. citizen. The other concerns whether hyper-partisanship is unconstitutional when state legislatures run by a single party draw electoral districts to maximize their party’s likelihood of winning elections.

        Both cases pull back the curtain on political power plays that are built on segregating the public to determine which major party is more likely to win office, and which slices of society have elected representatives with power to act on their behalf. The Republican Party, more so than Democrats, has used the bluntest tactics on these fronts to shore up their power in recent years—and in anticipation of the decade beginning in 2020. Whether the U.S. Supreme Court will act to rebalance excessive partisanship is an open question. Most legal scholars are expecting the court’s conservative majority to side with the Republican Party.

      • Joe Biden is a Collaborator

        It’s really quite simple: the rogue oligarchs and corporations who now run this country constitute the enemy. Since becoming a Senator in 1973, your favorite Irish uncle, Joe Biden, has actively collaborated in the extreme capitalism, racism, nationalism, and police state-ism that enable the oligarchs’ agenda; and while most ably empowered by their instrument, the Republican Party, between times, it is more than adequately carried out by the Democrats. What we see now, with a mostly pliant Trump, with a conservative majority Supreme Court, and with a divided Congress where stasis rules, is the Oligarchy’s ideal. But as the political calendar moves on – a proven collaborator must be installed, over the next twelve months, as the Democratic nominee in the 2020 tryst with their current champion – just in case.

        As has been demonstrated lately, juridical interpretations of a moldering and malleable document enable the Supreme Court to rule by decree. Indeed, in terms of command by capricious diktat, the Court, with the Constitution functioning as its Holy text is barely surpassed by the Ayatollah and the Koran. Democrats, Biden now apparently preeminent among them as the former Vice President and a Senator of Noachian longevity, stand by to facilitate this process. Not so long ago, Obama, the Appeaser-in-Chief, with the collaborationist Biden at his side, did sterling work on the oligarchs’ behalf. Obama’s failure to adequately press for the instatement of Justice Merrick Garland in 2016, ensured the Court’s conservative majority.

        Having just greenlit gerrymandering in the Rucho v. Common Cause decision, the Court has neatly bookended their earlier Citizen’s United decision which allows for unlimited corporate contributions to political parties. As parties are given free rein to engineer Congressional districts to maximize their advantage and be assured of ludicrous amounts of funding, the last vestiges of representative democracy fall away.

      • Gerrymander Dinner
      • Steven Rosenfeld on Gerrymander Ruling, Nathan Schneider on Alternative Economic Visions

        Corporate media often indulge in feel-goodism around Independence Day, presuming a shared, uncontested meaning attached to the day’s symbols, when for many the holiday in fact evokes the excoriating words of Frederick Douglass, who asked in 1852: “What to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license.” The distance between the democracy media talk about and the system we have is wrenching—and a recent Supreme Court ruling highlights right-wing efforts to increase that gap and set it in stone. We’ll talk about what the Court’s recent gerrymandering decision means for the whole idea of “one person/one vote” with Steven Rosenfeld, editor and chief correspondent at the Independent Media Institute’s Voting Booth project, and author of, most recently, Democracy Betrayed: How Superdelegates, Redistricting, Party Insiders and the Electoral College Rigged the 2016 Election.

      • The Dilemma of Vladimir Lenin

        Vladimir Lenin has two legacies. One is the brilliant revolutionary tactician. The second is Lenin the New Czar. He was, ironically, Russia’s most fervent champion of the very thing he eradicated—revolutionary anarchy. His pamphlet “The State and Revolution” was an unequivocal anarchist manifesto, with Lenin writing that “as long as there is a state there is no freedom; when there is freedom there will be no state.” But Lenin in power, like Leon Trotsky, was an opportunist who made promises, such as “all power to the soviets,” that he had no intention of keeping. He employed political terror, widespread arrests and executions to crush the autonomous, self-governing soviets and workers committees. He led a centralized, autocratic ruling elite. He criminalized dissent, outlawed competing political parties, muzzled the press and instituted a system of state capitalism that stripped workers of their autonomy and rights. He, like Maximilien Robespierre, may have thought of himself as an idealist, but one of his estranged comrades, Angelica Balabanova, playing on a line from Goethe, declared that he “desired the good … but created evil.” Stalinism was not an aberration. It was the natural heir of Leninism.

        In power, as Rosa Luxemburg pointed out in “The Russian Revolution and Leninism or Marxism?” Lenin became the enemy of democratic socialism. He turned to the fanatic Felix Dzerzhinsky, the head of the newly formed Cheka, which during the first year of the revolution officially executed 6,300 people, which I suspect is a huge underestimate. This was the same Lenin who in November 1917 said: “We do not apply terror as did the French revolutionaries who guillotined unarmed people, and I hope we shall not apply it.” The anarchist Mikhail Bakunin warned, presciently, that Marxists proposed to replace the capitalist with the bureaucrat. The Marxist society, he said, was nothing more than capitalism under centralized state management and it would, he said, be even more oppressive. This is why Noam Chomsky, correctly, calls Lenin the dictator a “right-wing deviation” and a “counter-revolutionary.”

        But there is no denying Lenin’s brilliance. He redefined the political landscape of the 20th century. Decades after the Russian Revolution, in Spain, China, Cuba, Vietnam and South Africa oppressed peoples looked to Lenin and the revolution for inspiration. The social inequality and destruction of democratic institutions wrought by neoliberalism and the corporate seizure of power in our own time give relevancy to Lenin, who was examining many of the same questions about despotism, imperialism and capitalism. Lenin the revolutionary has a lot to teach us. He, like John Dewey, understood that as long as the capitalist class has control of the means of production no real democracy will ever be possible.

        Lenin was acutely aware that revolutions occur because of spontaneous combustions that no one, including the revolutionaries, can predict. The February 1917 revolution was, like the French storming of the Bastille, an unexpected and unplanned popular eruption. As the hapless Alexander Kerensky pointed out, the Russian Revolution “came of its own accord, unengineered by anyone, born in the chaos of the collapse of Tsardom.” This is true for all revolutions. The tinder is there. What sets it alight is a mystery.

        The key to success—this too is true for all revolutions—is the refusal by the police and military, as occurred in Petrograd, to restore order and defend the old regime. Trotsky asserted that decayed regimes inevitably elevate leaders of stunning incompetence, corruption and imbecility, figures like Czar Nicholas II and Donald Trump. Even the elites, in the end, do not want to defend them. The ossified systems of governance—evidenced in the United States by our corporate-managed elections, our dysfunctional Congress, our commercialized press and our failed judiciary, which just legalized gerrymandering, an updated version of Britain’s 19th-century “rotten borough” system—are transparent puppets of the ruling cabal. Reform through these structures is impossible. This understanding creates a huge divide between the liberals, who hold out hope for reform—you can see them once again foolishly investing time and energy in the Democratic Party—and revolutionaries who seek not to placate or work within the system but to destroy it.

      • Top Five Lessons for Democrats in 2020 Elections

        If not for the ongoing debates that restrict the amount of presidential candidates for 2020, the Democrats will probably have more than 100 candidates. (Who knows, like Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky movie series, maybe Hillary Clinton will be tempted to make a comeback?) By having too many candidates, the Democrats are dividing up the finite political donations compared to Trump who is amassing a war chest without serious competition. At the current rate, by the Democratic nominee is selected, she or he will be at a major financial disadvantage compared to “The Hustler.” (This also includes the free media coverage that Trump has monopolized over the years, bulldozing his less media-savvy opponents.)

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Protesters say storming of legislature born of desperation

        “In China … you just speak one thing wrong, you will be put in jail,” Chan said. “Can you imagine in 28 years, what will Hong Kong be? Nobody knows.”

      • San Francisco to paint over historic George Washington mural [iophk: revisionism]

        “We on the left ought to welcome the honest portrayal,” Walker said, adding that destroying a piece of art “is the worst way we can deal with historic malfeasance, historic evils.”

      • Google Promising Real-Time Censorship

        Google has changed their algorithm so that it actively suppresses “misinformation” when “bad events” are taking place. This is pretty big news if you’re interested in free speech or the free flow of information. Nobody in the media treated it that way.

        In fact, you probably didn’t see it at all. Almost no papers covered it – and the major one that did, The Guardian, buried back in the “science and technology” section.

        The idea that Google suppresses “misinformation”, and boosts “authoritative voices” is not new. We already know they do that. The new part is that they will do it in real-time, they will respond to “tragic events” by focusing more on blocking “misinformation” at “criticial times”.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • As You Celebrate Your Freedom, Remember Julian Assange

        Whether we like it or not, Julian Assange is a dissident. He despises secrecy and cannot be tamed, bought or otherwise controlled. He has flooded the world with compromising disclosures, including evidence for war crimes, aggression and abuse, without ever resorting to violence or fake news. He has initiated a paradigm shift in public awareness and dried up safe havens of governmental impunity. And like everyone who endangers the perks of the powerful, he has been made to pay the price.

        But how do you break a political dissident, a promoter of truth and transparency? Well, first you attack his reputation and credibility, and destroy his human dignity. You maintain a constant trickle of poisonous rumors, first half-truths and then increasingly bold lies. You keep him suspected of rape without trial, of hacking and spying, and of smearing feces on Embassy walls. You portray him as an ungrateful narcissist with a cat and a skateboard, whose only aim is self-glorifying exceptionalism.

      • US Journalist Detained When Returning to US

        Pretty horrible story of a US journalist who had his computer and phone searched at the border when returning to the US from Mexico.

      • Suspects in Charlie Hebdo, Hyper Cacher terror attacks to go on trial in France

        A special Paris criminal court will hear the case against 14 people accused of helping the attackers, providing them with logistical support and the weapons to carry out the attacks.

      • Trial over France Charlie Hebdo attacks to begin in April

        The perpetrators were killed by police in the wake of the attacks. But 14 people charged with helping them, three of whom remain on the run, will go on trial from April 20 to July 3, over five years after the atrocities took place, a source close to the case told AFP.

      • Paris Trial Following Charlie Hebdo Attack to Take Place in 2020

        A trial linked to three distinct yet connected attacks in the city will be held April 20 and July 3, 2020 in a Paris court. The assaults in the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery killed 17 people before the police shot the three gunmen. A court official revealed the dates of the trial by phone.

      • An Hour with Noam Chomsky on Fascism, Nuclear Weapons, Climate Change, Julian Assange & More

        In April, hundreds of people packed into the Old South Church in Boston to hear the world-renowned dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky speak. In this hour-long special, we air an excerpt of Chomsky’s speech and his on-stage interview with Amy Goodman.

        [...]

        Today we do not—we are not facing the rise of anything like Nazism, but we are facing the spread of what’s sometimes called the ultranationalist, reactionary international, trumpeted openly by its advocates, including Steve Bannon, the impresario of the movement. Just had a victory yesterday: The Netanyahu election in Israel solidified the reactionary alliance that’s being established, all of this under the U.S. aegis, run by the triumvirate, the Trump-Pompeo-Bolton triumvirate—could borrow a phrase from George W. Bush to describe them, but, out of politeness, I won’t. The Middle East alliance consists of the extreme reactionary states of the region—Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt under the most brutal dictatorship of its history, Israel right at the center of it—confronting Iran. Severe threats that we’re facing in Latin America. The election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil put in power the most extreme, most outrageous of the right-wing ultranationalists who are now plaguing the hemisphere. Yesterday, Lenín Moreno of Ecuador took a strong step towards joining the far-right alliance by expelling Julian Assange from the embassy. He’s picked up quickly by the U.S., will face a very dangerous future unless there’s a significant popular protest. Mexico is one of the rare exceptions in Latin America to these developments. This has happened—in Western Europe, the right-wing parties are growing, some of them very frightening in character.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • How I became a victim of a modern slavery gang

        The five men and three women, who were members of a Polish organised crime group, enslaved hundreds of desperate and vulnerable people.

      • UK slavery network ‘had 400 victims’

        They were transported to the UK by bus, but when they arrived they were housed in squalid homes around West Bromwich, Smethwick and Walsall, forced to sleep up to four in a room on filthy mattresses and had their wages “farmed” from bank accounts on payday.

      • Interview: No religion promotes an inclusive society

        Q: Thank you for joining us Maryam! Tell us what is One Law for All initiative all about? And why is it important to have such an initiative?

        A: One Law for All was established to oppose Sharia and religious courts because they are inhuman and abuse human rights. This is the case whether the courts are in Iran and Saudi Arabia or in Britain. One’s religion or belief is a basic right and a private matter.

        Religious courts, however, have nothing to do with the right to religion and are part of the Islamist project to control and manage women, minorities and dissenters. We know Sharia’s criminal code includes the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy and stoning to death for gay sex or sex outside of marriage. It is unbelievably brutal.

      • Wahhabism confronted: Sri Lanka curbs Saudi influence after bombings

        The outcry in Sri Lanka is the latest sign that Wahhabism, which critics deem a root cause of the extremist threat, is under pressure internationally.

        Radical organisations, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – which claimed responsibility for the Easter bombings – follow an extreme interpretation of Islam’s Salafi branch, of which Wahhabism was the original strain.

        Saudi Arabia rejects the idea that Wahhabism is problematic and defends its record by pointing to the detention of thousands of suspected militants. Riyadh in June sent back five Sri Lankans allegedly linked to the Easter attacks.

      • It’s time to break up the Department of Homeland Security

        As we head toward the 2020 election, and as horrific conditions in prison-like facilities run by the immigration agencies of DHS are headline news, it’s long past time to take a sober look at the post-9/11 moment and find ways to fix some of those mistakes.

      • Swedish Woman Arrested at UK’s Gatwick Airport on Suspicion of Terrorism

        The woman was detained on Thursday afternoon on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism after arriving on a flight from Italy.

        No further details were immediately available.

      • This region of Indonesia was known for its religious harmony. Now, Catholics face growing intolerance.

        Despite repeated calls from Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, who is also the governor of Yogyakarta, to uphold religious freedom, incidents of religious intolerance are on the rise in Yogyakarta — from contested burial grounds to a Catholic church attack prosecuted as terrorism.

        SETARA Institute for Democracy and Peace, an Indonesian human rights think tank, placed Yogyakarta Province among the least-tolerant cities on its 2017 Tolerant Cities Index.

      • An Epidemic of Corruption

        There’s an old saying about why public officials so often misuse taxpayer funds: “It’s easy to spend other peoples’ money.” And wow, seems like on both a national and state level, the ease with which our public “servants” abuse taxpayer money is now epidemic.

        Thanks to the Montana Legislative Auditor’s investigation, it was revealed that Corey Stapleton, who has stumbled his way through his term as secretary of state, was regularly taking a large state truck to drive to Billings — in violation of state law. His office has claimed he was “tele-working,” which, I guess, means he was putting in his eight hours on his cell phone when he was supposed to be in his Helena office. And the 27,000 miles he put on the truck that taxpayers bought, maintained and kept full of gas? Surely Montanans will understand the importance of this small sacrifice to obtain such valuable “service” from Stapleton.

        Or how about Attorney General Tim Fox deciding to take a staffer along and fly down to the Mexican border so he could see what he believes is the source of drugs coming into Montana? There’s not a thing he could do about federal border security one way or another. But hey, the public picks up the tab for the flight and other expenses, so why not take the opportunity to garner some press and put the “mission” on his campaign website — which is exactly what he did. Mind you, the same week Fox was flying to the Mexican border, the largest drug bust in the nation’s history confiscated an estimated $1 billion in cocaine from a ship in Philadelphia, not Mexico.

      • Millionaire CEO of Nonprofit Hospital That Sues the Poor Promises Review of Policies

        As criticism mounts about the aggressive debt collection practices of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tennessee, the nonprofit hospital system’s chief executive officer promised to reevaluate its financial assistance policies in the coming weeks.

        “Over the next 30 days we will be reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure we are doing everything possible to provide every Memphian with the care and assistance they need,” said Dr. Michael Ugwueke, Methodist’s CEO and president, in a guest column published online Sunday in The Commercial Appeal.

        An investigation published last week by MLK50 and ProPublica found that Methodist uses the courts as a hammer against low-wage patients who can’t afford their hospital bills. From 2014 through 2018, the hospital system affiliated with the United Methodist Church filed more than 8,300 lawsuits, according to an MLK50-ProPublica analysis of Shelby County General Sessions Court records. That’s more than all but one creditor during that five-year period.

      • Patriotism Is Too Small For My Family

        Ending bigotry has gone mainstream among the enlightened people of the developed world.

        Did you spot the acceptable bigotry in that sentence?

        We’re against racism, sexism, and more kinds of bigotry than I could ever list.

        But the 96 percent of humanity that’s not within the United States is hardly worthy of concern.

        Millions of lives in Yemen lack the value of one Washington Post reporter dismembered with a bone saw. A third of the United States would gladly murder a million innocent North Koreans, the pollsters tell us. Not a million handicapped Americans, not a million atheist Americans, not a million gay Americans. We’re above all that. A million North Koreans. Or a half million Iraqi children, judging by the respect still afforded to Madeleine Albright to this day.

        On the Fourth of July I’m expected to celebrate a bloody, moronic, hubristic, and laughably failed attempt to take over Canada that instead got the White House burned, because at a battle in Baltimore lots of people died yet a flag survived, and somebody who owned other human beings as slaves wrote a poem glorifying the murder of people who dared to escape from slavery or who happened to be Muslims.

      • Working in Prison, I Witnessed the Inhumane Conditions of Solitary for Incarcerated Women

        Solitary confinement can amount to torture. One practitioner witnessed this first hand, and shares her story and her journey to action.
        At the first checkpoint at Tennessee Prison for Women, there was a large, scrolling television screen behind the desk displaying the image of two pairs of hands – one pair with a key and one pair in handcuffs. The message read, “You can either be one of us or one of them.” I had been working in the facility for less than a year, but this message exemplified an uneasiness I had long felt without articulating: The prison’s façade of “rehabilitation” masked a system so blatantly punitive and practically ineffective that the choice itself was impossible, offensive, and encapsulated all that was wrong with this failed iteration of the carceral state.

        As a senior clinical therapist at the prison, I provided mental health services to women in solitary confinement. Initially, and admittedly somewhat idealistically, I viewed my job as stabilizing my patients, improving their ability to cope, and ideally moving them toward healthier living and functioning as part of a multidisciplinary team.

        Over time, however, I found myself in the unfortunate position of “sounding board” – of becoming a receptacle for the dark energy that saturated their life experience in agonizingly inhuman conditions.

      • I Spent 16 Months in Solitary Confinement and Now I’m Fighting to End It

        A new report proves that the degrading conditions in solitary confinement continue to harm people and communities.
        I was just 17 years old when I was sent to solitary confinement in “Camp J,” one of the most severe lockdown units at one of America’s most brutal prisons, the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. I languished in solitary for 16 months.

        Back then I didn’t know that Louisiana was the solitary confinement capital of the world. All I knew was that I’d been convicted of a crime I didn’t commit, and I had to maintain my humanity in one of the most dehumanizing places on earth.

        It’s called “23 and 1” because you spend 23 hours alone in your cell, with one hour to take a shower or make a phone call, if allowed. There are no educational programs. You are stuck in your cell with just the voices in your own head and the cries of men who have already gone mad. Most of the other people in my unit were suffering from severe mental illness. I remember how they would ram their heads into the bars, play with their own defecation, or throw urine or feces.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • EFF, OTI Respond to UK’s Online Harms Legislative Proposal

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) have published their combined response to the UK government’s Online Harms White Paper. The white paper, published in April 2019, with a public consultation period ending July 1, 2019, proposes legislation designed to increase the safety of users online.

        The proposed legislation is intended to target any company that allows users to share or discover user-generated content or interact with each other online. While this obviously includes large social media sites, it will also include small niche sites that allow users to comment on articles. The white paper specifies “a very wide range of companies of all sizes, including social media platforms, file hosting sites, public discussion forums, messaging services and search engines.”

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

    • Monopolies

      • What’s keeping the FBI’s IP chief up at night

        Steven Shapiro tells Managing IP his concerns about modern IP crime, but also shares his strategies and reasons for hope

        Steven Shapiro, IP unit chief at the FBI, says that lack of IP crime awareness is his biggest concern. When consumers encounter counterfeit products, they often believe they’re getting a deal. “

      • Tim Wu rebuts Zuck’s reasons for exempting Facebook from antitrust enforcement

        Competition scholar and cyberlawyer Tim “Net Neutrality” Wu’s (previously) latest book is The Curse of Bigness: a tight, beautifully argued case for restoring pre-Reagan antitrust approaches.

        Wu isn’t just good at laying these arguments out in static fashion: if anything, he’s even more convincing when he’s arguing with the most ardent defenders of monopoly.

      • Tim Wu Explains Why He Thinks Facebook Should Be Broken Up

        Last week, at the Aspen Ideas Festival, I interviewed Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and author of a new book called The Curse of Bigness. We talked about antitrust and innovation, and he addressed arguments on the topic made by Facebook. An edited transcript follows.

      • Patents and Software Patents

        • Update from the Compendium of Federal Circuit Decisions

          We recently launched an updated version of the Compendium of Federal Circuit Decisions that contains information on decisions posted to the Federal Circuit’s website for all origins, not just appeals arising from the USPTO and District Courts (although the richest data is still for appeals from those sources). Data is current through June 28, 2019.

          For those who aren’t familiar with the Compendium, it’s a database designed specifically to support quantitative empirical research about the Federal Circuit’s decisions. We’ve coded an array of basic information about Federal Circuit decisions to make it as easy as possible for anyone to do their own empirical studies. There’s data on document type to panel judges to authorship information and more. We’re constantly working on adding new types of data, so if there’s something specific that you’d like empirical data on, just let me know.

          Below are a few basic highlights through the first six months of 2019. As always, the usual disclaimers when working with quantitative data about court decisions apply. Large-scale quantitative overviews only provide one perspective into judicial decisions and are subject to various selective forces that are described in various sources including this one.

        • Predictability and Criticality in the Written Description Analysis

          In its reissue application, Global IP asked the PTO to broaden its carpeted-car-floor patent by changing the “thermoplastic” requirement to simply “plastic.” The PTO rejected the reissue application on written description grounds — noting that the specification only discloses the use of thermoplastics and not parts “formed generally from plastic materials.” According to the examiner, the broader scope constituted “new matter.” The PTAB made clear that the, although “plastics” might be enabled and within the skill of someone in the art, the patent document does not show possession of that invention:

          [....]

          In other words, a variation predictable to PHOSITA is more likely to covered by the written description (as compared with an unpredictable variation). Likewise, variation of a non-critical component of the invention is more likely to be covered by the written description (as opposed to a component at the point of novelty).

          Note here that in this case the Examiner/Board raised a standard written description challenge. On remand, they might achieve better results by focusing on the heightened written description standard for broadening reissues.

      • Copyrights

        • Spotify Settles Two Copyright Infringement Lawsuits With Initial Damages Exceeding $365 Million

          In short, Spotify streamed their songs without permission.

          After checking streamed works dating back to April 2015, Bluewater realized that Spotify hadn’t paid any mechanical royalties. In fact, the streaming giant hadn’t negotiated a direct mechanical license.

        • Masters matter: Taylor Swift’s feud shows why ownership can be crucial to musicians

          A master isn’t just the physical original recording; it’s often also the copyright that goes along with that, meaning whoever holds the master also controls the ability to license it to third parties, whether that be a streaming service, a radio station or for use in television, film or commercials.

          “It’s just the ultimate in creative freedom — and also financial freedom,” said Juno-nominated singer/songwriter Emm Gryner.

          But it’s a freedom that few artists — superstars included — have, as master recordings are typically owned and controlled by music labels, which have traditionally put up the money for an artist’s recording sessions.

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