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07.22.19

Links 22/7/2019: Linux 5.3 RC1, GNU Hyperbole 7.0.3, DebConf19

Posted in News Roundup at 6:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Server

      • 10 resources every sysadmin should know about

        Everybody knows that sysadmins are impossibly busy people. Consequently, it sometimes seems they are superhuman. The sysadmin’s dirty secret, the same one shared by many open source users, is that they don’t actually do all of the work it looks like they’ve done. One of the greatest tools in the sysadmin’s kit is their ability to reuse work someone else has already done for them.

        A good sysadmin knows where to turn when there’s a big job to be done but nobody available to do it. If you’re looking to work smarter, not harder, this is for you: a list of the top 10 resources every sysadmin should know about.

      • Kubernetes policy project takes enterprise IT by storm

        An open source compliance as code project has gained a groundswell of popularity over the last six months among enterprise IT pros, who say it simplifies and standardizes Kubernetes policy management.

        The Open Policy Agent (OPA), an open source compliance as code project founded by former VMware employees, was used at Netflix as early as 2017 and accepted into the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) as a sandbox project in March 2018. Netflix gave an OPA demonstration at KubeCon in December 2017, and Intuit and Capital One followed at KubeCon in December 2018. After the project advanced to the CNCF’s incubating stage in April 2019, and was demonstrated a third time at KubeCon EU in May 2019, it began to generate mainstream buzz.

        [...]

        As Kubernetes environments grow to encompass Istio service mesh and Knative event-based orchestration in what Google calls the open cloud stack, the fact that OPA lends itself to Kubernetes policy enforcement but can expand to include those adjacent utilities boosts its appeal.

      • System administrator responsibilities: 9 critical tasks

        System administrators are critical to the reliable and successful operation of an organization and its network operations center and data center. A sysadmin must have expertise with the system’s underlying platform (i.e., Windows, Linux) as well as be familiar with multiple areas including networking, backup, data restoration, IT security, database operations, middleware basics, load balancing, and more. Sysadmin tasks are not limited to server management, maintenance, and repair, but also any functions that support a smoothly running production environment with minimal (or no) complaints from customers and end users.

        Although sysadmins have a seemingly endless list of responsibilities, some are more critical than others. If you work in a sysadmin role (or hope to one day), make sure you are ready to follow these best practices.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Linux Action News 115

        We’re pleasantly surprised by a new Linux distro, EvilGnome malware spies on Gnome Shell users, and more good news for MacBook Linux users.

        Plus why RetroArch coming to Steam is a bit controversial, ubuntu-wsl is a cold drink for Windows users, and gpodder needs a new maintainer.

      • Problematic Privileges | TechSNAP 407b

        Wes takes a quick look at a container escape proof-of-concept and reviews Docker security best practices.

      • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 155 – Stealing cars and ransomware

        Josh and Kurt talk about a new way to steal cars because a service didn’t do proper background checks. We also discuss how this relates to working with criminals, such as ransomware, and what it means for the future of the ransomware industry.

      • gnu World Order 13×30
    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.2.2

        I’m announcing the release of the 5.2.2 kernel.

        All users of the 5.2 kernel series must upgrade.

        The updated 5.2.y git tree can be found at:

        git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.2.y

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

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

      • Linux 5.1.19
      • Linux 4.19.60
      • Linux 4.14.134
      • Linux 4.9.186
      • Linux 4.4.186
      • Linux 5.3-rc1
        It's been two weeks, and the merge window is over, and Linux 5.3-rc1
        is tagged and pushed out.
        
        This is a pretty big release, judging by the commit count. Not the
        biggest ever (that honor still goes to 4.9-rc1, which was
        exceptionally big), and we've had a couple of comparable ones (4.12,
        4.15 and 4.19 were also big merge windows), but it's definitely up
        there.
        
        The merge window also started out pretty painfully, with me hitting a
        couple of bugs in the first couple of days. That's never a good sign,
        since I don't tend to do anything particularly odd, and if I hit bugs
        it means code wasn't tested well enough. In one case it was due to me
        using a simplified configuration that hadn't been tested, and caused
        an odd issue to show up - it happens. But in the other case, it really
        was code that was too recent and too rough and hadn't baked enough.
        The first got fixed, the second just got reverted.
        
        Anyway, despite the rocky start, and the big size, things mostly
        smoothed out towards the end of the merge window. And there's a lot to
        like in 5.3. Too much to do the shortlog with individual commits, of
        course, so appended is the usual "mergelog" of people I merged from
        and a one-liner very high-level "what got merged". For more detail,
        you should go check the git tree.
        
        As always: the people credited below are just the people I pull from,
        there's about 1600 individual developers (for 12500+ non-merge
        commits) in this merge window.
        
        Go test,
        
                    Linus
        
      • Linux 5.3-rc1 Debuts As “A Pretty Big Release”

        Just as expected, Linus Torvalds this afternoon issued the first release candidate of the forthcoming Linux 5.3 kernel.

        It’s just not us that have been quite eager for Linux 5.3 and its changes. Torvalds acknowledged in the 5.3-rc1 announcement that this kernel is indeed a big one: “This is a pretty big release, judging by the commit count. Not the biggest ever (that honor still goes to 4.9-rc1, which was exceptionally big), and we’ve had a couple of comparable ones (4.12, 4.15 and 4.19 were also big merge windows), but it’s definitely up there.”

      • The New Features & Improvements Of The Linux 5.3 Kernel

        The Linux 5.3 kernel merge window is expected to close today so here is our usual recap of all the changes that made it into the mainline tree over the past two weeks. There is a lot of changes to be excited about from Radeon RX 5700 Navi support to various CPU improvements and ongoing performance work to supporting newer Apple MacBook laptops and Intel Speed Select Technology enablement.

      • Graphics Stack

        • The Status of Fractional Scaling (HiDPI) Between Windows & Linux

          There’s a special type of displays commonly called “HiDPI“, which means that the number of pixels in the screen is doubled (vertically and horizontally), making everything drawn on the screen look sharper and better. One of the most common examples of HiDPI are Apple’s Retina displays, which do come with their desktops and laptops.

          However, one issue with HiDPI is that the default screen resolutions are too small to be displayed on them, so we need what’s called as “scaling”; Which is simply also doubling the drawn pixels from the OS side so that they can match that of the display. Otherwise, displaying a 400×400 program window on a 3840×2160 display will give a very horrible user experience, so the OS will need to scale that window (and everything) by a factor of 2x, to make it 800×800, which would make it better.

          Fractional scaling is the process of doing the previous work, but by using fractional scaling numbers (E.g 1.25, 1.4, 1.75.. etc), so that they can be customized better according to the user’s setup and needs.

          Now where’s the issue, you may ask? Windows operating system has been supporting such kind of displays natively for a very long time, but Linux distributions do lack a lot of things in this field. There are many drawbacks, issues and other things to consider. This article will take you in a tour about that.

        • Vulkan 1.1.116 Published With Subgroup Size Control Extension

          Vulkan 1.1.116 was released today as the latest weekly update to this high performance graphics API and comes with one new extension in tow.

          Vulkan 1.1.116 includes the usual documentation corrections/fixes, but making this release notable is the introduction of a new extension for having control over the subgroup sizes.

    • Applications

      • [Old] Some Interesting Features In VLC!

        VLC is one of the best video and audio player applications that are open source. We can install this application on various existing operating systems such as Linux, MAC, Windows, and also Android.

      • Excellent Utilities: Ulauncher – Sublime application launcher for Linux

        This is a new series highlighting best-of-breed utilities. We are covering a wide range of utilities including tools that boost your productivity, help you manage your workflow, and lots more besides.

        Ulauncher is a fast application launcher for Linux. It has a minimal design, dependent on only a few resources, very fast, and works on virtually all Linux desktops. The software is written in Python, using GTK+.

        This review is carried out with the latest beta release of the software.

      • Proprietary

        • Microsoft Teams client for Linux 0.4 Released with Stability Fixes

          Teams for Linux is an unofficial Microsoft Teams client for Linux using Electron. It uses the Web App and wraps it as a standalone application using Electron.

        • Dropbox Brings Back Support For ZFS, XFS, BTFS And eCryptFS On Linux [Ed: The NSA wants to slurp in all your files, irrespective of what file system you use]

          Dropbox stopped supporting folder syncing to drives with filesystems which it deemed “uncommon”, which on Linux meant anything but Ext4, upsetting quite a few users. The reason cited for this was that “a supported file system is required as Dropbox relies on extended attributes (X-attrs) to identify files in the Dropbox folder and keep them in sync”, which doesn’t really make sense since there are many filesystems that support xattr (extended attributes) on Linux.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • [GSoC – 4] Achieving consistency between SDDM and Plasma

          This blog post marks the landing of the initial implementation of theme syncing between SDDM and Plasma, which you may already have read about in Nate’s post.

          Those of you running master can test the feature out by going to the Advanced tab in the Login Screen (SDDM) config module.

        • Kate LSP Status – July 21

          The new LSP client by Mark Nauwelaerts keeps making nice progress.

          It will not be shipped with the KDE Applications 19.08 release, but in master it is now compiled & installed per default. You only need to activate it on the plugin configuration page in Kate’s settings dialog to be able to use it.

          For details how to build Kate master with it’s plugins, please take a look at this guide.

          If you want to start to hack on the plugin, you find it in the kate.git, addons/lspclient.

          Feel welcome to show up on kwrite-devel@kde.org and help out! All development discussions regarding this plugin happen there.

          If you are already familiar with Phabricator, post some patch directly at KDE’s Phabricator instance.

        • Second month progress

          So yes, we are gradually moving our way forward towards completely removing our dependence over KAuth. But there are some things which are yet to complete. To name one, I need to finish up QDbus communication from helper to application which sends dbus (Inter Process Communication) messages. Currently I had tried this in QDbus patch, but it is not yet fully complete. All this stuff is done by KAuth currently in master.

        • Plasma Mobile at Plasma Sprint Valencia

          In June month we gathered in Slimbook’s offices to work on Plasma. Along with Plasma developers, we were also joined by KDE Usability and Productivity team.

          During the sprint I mostly worked to create up-to-date image for Plasma Mobile, as from last few weeks Plasma Mobile image was quite out-of-date and needed update.

        • Somewhat Usable

          Adding a feature by yourself is a lot satisfying than requesting someone to add that for you, cause now you are both the producer and the consumer. But to be honest, I never thought I would be the one implementing the Magnetic Lasso for Krita when I requested it 4 years back, leave the fact that I even getting paid for doing so. So here are the first tests being done on it.

        • View and Examples

          This week I began learning about QML to try to fix the View that show the graphs and tools for manipulating graphs.

        • Month 2 in making the Titler – GSoC ’19

          From my understanding so far (forgive me for any mistakes that I might make – it’s a different codebase and different concepts – I wholeheartedly welcome corrections and suggestions) the whole producer boils down to two parts – the actual producer code (which is in C and which is the thing which does the ‘producer stuff’) and the wrapper code (which ‘wraps’, supplements and does the actual rendering part of the QML frames). The wrapper files are responsible for mainly rendering the QML templates that are passed to it and make it available for the actual producer to use. And consequently, most of the work is to be done in the wrapper files, as the producer in itself doesn’t change much as it will still do the same things like the existing XML producer (producer_kdenlivetitle.c) – such as loading a file, generating a frame, calling rendering methods from the wrapper files.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • What am I doing with Tracker?

          Some years ago I was asked to come up with some support for sandboxed apps wrt indexed data. This drummed up into Tracker 2.0 and domain ontologies, allowing those sandboxed apps to keep their own private data and collection of Tracker services to populate it.

          Fast forward to today and… this is still largely unused, Tracker-using flatpak applications still whitelist org.freedesktop.Tracker, and are thus allowed to read and change content there. Despite I’ve been told it’s been mostly lack of time… I cannot blame them, domain ontologies offer the perfect isolation at the cost of the perfect duplication. It may do the job, but is far from optimal.

          So I got asked again “we have a credible story for sandboxed tracker?”. One way or another, seems we don’t, back to the drawing board.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • Review: HexagonOS 1.0

          On the whole, Hexagon worked well for me. Hardware support was solid, performance was above average, the included applications worked well, and the settings were easy to adjust. I had very few complaints – just two really: my keyboard layout had to be adjusted and Hexagon did not automatically work well with VirtualBox. However, both of these issues were easily addressed.

          With that being said, Hexagon appears to bring relatively little, technologically, to the experience over its parent. While running this distribution I sometimes forgot that I was not simply running Xubuntu with a dock installed. The custom utilities Hexagon provides (the software centre and the backup tool) both function, but are quite limited in what they can do for the user and this makes me disinclined to use them over other solutions like Deja Dup and GNOME Software.

          It’s probably too soon to judge what HexagonOS will become. Right now it’s just at its 1.0 release, and appears to be a first attempt to take Xubuntu and customize it with a few changes. Hopefully future versions will try more new things, polish the custom applications and distinguish the distribution from its parent.

      • New Releases

        • [ArchBang] Change back to Openbox

          Did quite a bit of thinking regarding using i3 with ArchBang and it was starting to be obvious that many new users would be put off by tiling. Openbox is a comfortable window manager, easy to use and familiar. Its XML configs can be a pain but nothing that can be dealt with easily…

          Have switched Alt-F3 bind for dmenu to Super+d. Feels more natural and easier to reach. Removed Super+{h,v,c} from conky bind list too, really not sure of anyone needs them or even uses them. Can of course add in other binds.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

        • ArcoLinux 19.07.11

          Today we are looking at the latest snapshot of ArcoLinux 19.07.11. We are looking at the main, edition, the XFCE release. It is based on Arch Linux, Linux Kernel 5.2, XFCE 4.12 and it uses about 600MB of ram when idling.

          When I look at ArcoLinux, I can see just how much the developer loves this project and how much work he is putting into it. AcroLinux is clearly one of the best looking, and working great.

        • ArcoLinux 19.07.11 Run Through

          In this video, we look at ArcoLinux 19.07.11.

      • Fedora Family

        • Changing how we work

          As those of you who read the https://communityblog.fedoraproject.org/state-of-the-community-platform-engineering-team/ blog know, we are looking at changing workflows and organization around in the Community Platform Engineering team (of which, I am a member). So, I thought I would share a few thoughts from my perspective and hopefully enlighten the community more on why we are changing things and what that might look like.

      • Debian Family

        • DebConf19 starts today in Curitiba

          DebConf19, the 20th annual Debian Conference, is taking place in Curitiba, Brazil from from July 21 to 28, 2019.

          Debian contributors from all over the world have come together at Federal University of Technology – Paraná (UTFPR) in Curitiba, Brazil, to participate and work in a conference exclusively run by volunteers.

          Today the main conference starts with over 350 attendants expected and 121 activities scheduled, including 45- and 20-minute talks and team meetings (“BoF”), workshops, a job fair as well as a variety of other events.

          The full schedule at https://debconf19.debconf.org/schedule/ is updated every day, including activities planned ad-hoc by attendees during the whole conference.

        • Holger Levsen: 20190721-piuparts-was-not-down

          …I just said so, to make you attend my talk, as my last call for help at DebConf17 was attended by 3 people only…

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • 8 Best Open Source CRM Software

        CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. A CRM software enables the companies to interact with their potential and existing customers, understand and manage their requirement. This improved the relation of the organization with customer and you know that a happy customer brings profitability to the business.

        No matter how big your team is (small business or a big firm), a CRM software always comes in handy when you want to keep things organized in your business.

        You may avoid a CRM software for a couple of employees when you start a business. However, to streamline the process and make the work efficient and fast – you will eventually need a CRM software.

        But, what about the level of control (or security) in a CRM software? Do you want a transparent CRM software which you can take control of?

        Well, that is when an open source CRM software comes into play. You can host it yourself, and you can customize it as per your requirements. You may also opt for the hosted version where you don’t have to manage it yourself.

      • Synchronize bookmarks: Syncmarx is now Open Source
      • SuperFreezZ is an open source alternative to Greenify that kills apps running in the background

        Task managers are widely viewed as unnecessary on Android smartphones. Most of us may agree with that view, but the reality is there are still a lot of misbehaving Android apps out there, most task “killers” don’t actually do anything useful besides clearing the recent apps view (which doesn’t really “kill” apps anyway), and a lot of users have yet to upgrade to newer Android versions that have implemented more restrictions on background apps. That’s why, to this very day, apps like Greenify and Brevent remain incredibly popular. Many users swear by both Greenify and Brevent, but since they’re closed source, some users are wary of them. If you’re looking for an open source alternative, check out SuperFreezZ by XDA Junior Member hcur.

      • Events

        • Takeaways from PX4 Open-Source Drone Developer Conference

          Last month at ETH Zurich, Auterion sponsored the first-ever PX4 developer conference for those interested in the open-source-based operating system for enterprise drones. The event, held June 20-21, included 200 attendees from the open-source community, including developers, researchers, and technical thought leaders in the unmanned systems space.

          Here are three takeaway messages from the conference – for those interested in learning more about PX4 and ROS (the largest open-source drone and robotics communities), you can view all of the presentations on PX4’s YouTube channel.

      • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

        • GNU Hyperbole 7.0.3 is the latest release
          Hyperbole is an amazing hypertextual information management system 
          that installs quickly and easily as an Emacs package.  It is part of 
          GNU Elpa, the Emacs Lisp Package Archive. 
          Hyperbole interlinks all your working information within Emacs for 
          fast access and editing, not just within special modes.  An hour 
          invested exploring Hyperbole's built-in interactive DEMO file will 
          save you hundreds of hours in your future work. 
          
          
        • Sylvain Beucler: Planet clean-up

          Re-sync Debian base config, scripts and packaging, update documentation; the planet-venus package is still in bad shape though, it’s not officially orphaned but the maintainer is unreachable AFAICS

          Fetch all Savannah feeds using https

      • Programming/Development

        • Set_env.py

          A good practice when writing complicated software is to put in lots of debugging code. This might be extra logging, or special modes that tweak the behavior to be more understandable, or switches to turn off some aspect of your test suite so you can focus on the part you care about at the moment.

          But how do you control that debugging code? Where are the on/off switches? You don’t want to clutter your real UI with controls. A convenient option is environment variables: you can access them simply in the code, your shell has ways to turn them on and off at a variety of scopes, and they are invisible to your users.

          Though if they are invisible to your users, they are also invisible to you! How do you remember what exotic options you’ve coded into your program, and how do you easily see what is set, and change what is set?

        • RPushbullet 0.3.2

          A new release 0.3.2 of the RPushbullet package is now on CRAN. RPushbullet is interfacing the neat Pushbullet service for inter-device messaging, communication, and more. It lets you easily send alerts like the one to the left to your browser, phone, tablet, … – or all at once.

          This is the first new release in almost 2 1/2 years, and it once again benefits greatly from contributed pull requests by Colin (twice !) and Chan-Yub – see below for details.

        • A Makefile for your Go project (2019)

          My most loathed feature of Go was the mandatory use of GOPATH: I do not want to put my own code next to its dependencies. I was not alone and people devised tools or crafted their own Makefile to avoid organizing their code around GOPATH.

        • Writing sustainable Python scripts

          Python is a great language to write a standalone script. Getting to the result can be a matter of a dozen to a few hundred lines of code and, moments later, you can forget about it and focus on your next task.

          Six months later, a co-worker asks you why the script fails and you don’t have a clue: no documentation, hard-coded parameters, nothing logged during the execution and no sensible tests to figure out what may go wrong.

          Turning a “quick-and-dirty” Python script into a sustainable version, which will be easy to use, understand and support by your co-workers and your future self, only takes some moderate effort.

        • Notes to self when using genRSS.py
        • How to Split a String in Python
        • The 10 Best Software Engineering Books in 2019

          I’ll probably never forget my first day as a software engineer.

          Back in 2015, I got hired as a software engineer for a consulting company, in Luxembourg.

          I did not have much experience, but I was ready to tackle every single project I was assigned to.

        • GCC 10 Lands OpenRISC Support For Floating Point Instructions

          When it comes to open-source processor ISAs, RISC-V currently captures much of the spotlight but OpenRISC continues chugging along as another open-source CPU architecture. The OpenRISC GCC compiler back-end and other software tooling also continues to move along for this architecture that’s been in the works since 2000.

          The OpenRISC back-end/target landed just at the end of 2018 for the current GCC 9 stable series. This OpenRISC “or1k” support continues maturing. It took so long for the OpenRISC support to land into GCC as the original developers of the compiler support wouldn’t agree to their copyright assignment to the Free Software Foundation for getting the code merged. As a result, a clean-room rewrite of the GCC OpenRISC code was needed before it could be accepted into GCC.

        • Matthias Clasen: Westcoast hackfest; GTK updates

          old widget. It started out as a port of the tk text widget, and it has not seen a lot of architectural updates over the years. A few years ago, we added a pixel cache to it, to improve its scrolling, but on a high resolution display, its still a lot of pixels to shovel around.

          As we’ve moved widgets to GTK4’s rendering models, everybody avoided GtkTextView, so it was using the fallback cairo rendering path, even as we ported other text rendering in GTK to a new pango renderer which produces render nodes.

          Until yesterday. We decided to just have a look at how hard it would be to switch the text view over to the new pango renderer. This went much more smoothly than we expected, and the new code is in master today.

        • GTK4 Gets Smoother GPU-Accelerated Scrolling, Modern Cursor Blinking

          GNOME developers continue to be hard at work on GTK4 and trying to ensure this major tool-kit update will be a great success.

          Happening the past few days in Portland, Oregon was the “GTK West Coast Hackfest” where Matthias Clasen, Christian Hergert, and other GNOME developers took towards figuring out effectively last minute work for GTK 4.0.

  • Leftovers

    • Science

      • Chandrayaan 2 Launch Live Updates: Less than 2 hours left for the launch of India’s most powerful spacecraft

        The ISRO announced on Sunday that a 20-hour countdown for the launch began at 6.43 pm on Sunday. India’s second Moon odyssey comes 11 years after ISRO’s successful first lunar mission Chandrayaan 1, which had created history by creating as many as 3,400 orbits around Moon.

      • Lunar Mysteries That Science Still Needs to Solve

        The last three Apollo missions all took samples from three major impact craters—Imbrium, Serenitatis, and Nectaris. New evidence suggests that the samples used to date the age of each of these craters, which is crucial to determining whether a period of heavy bombardment occurred, may actually just be debris from the impact that formed the largest crater—Imbrium—about 3.9 billion years ago.

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availability)

      • Critical Flaw in VLC Media Player Discovered by German Cybersecurity Agency [Ed: Will dedicated Microsoft propagandists like Bogdan Popa also write about NSA back doors in Windows or always just focus on smearing FOSS security? There are security bugs found every day, but back doors are an actual conspiracy; yet corporate media sponsored by the conspirators likes to deflect all blame to those who find/exploit these back doors.]

        A critical security flaw in VLC Media Player has recently been discovered by German cybersecurity watchdog CERT-Bund, who warns that a successful attack would allow for remote code execution.
        The vulnerability exists in VLC Media Player version 3.0.7.1, according to the official CVE-2019-13615, which is the latest stable release of the application.

      • The Who, What, Where, When, and Why for Mainframe Security [Ed: IBM pays Ponemon for puff pieces]

        For most people, security is a bit of a nuisance. No-one likes having to keep updating their password and then needing to remember the new one. And then there’s all the different passwords that need to be remembered for different things. It all just seems like an administrative nightmare. It just makes getting a day’s work done harder. That’s what most users think right up until the moment there’s a breach. And suddenly the mood has changed. Now everyone wants to know exactly what’s happened. They want to know who has done what, where they’ve done it, when it occurred, how they got in, and a million other questions. Your phone is ringing off the hook. Your e-mail is filling up faster than usual. What can you do? Where can you access the information you need? How do you respond to the incident?

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Joe Biden: Protector of the Deep State

        Kamala Harris surged in the polls after attacking frontrunner Joe Biden during the first Democratic Party debate for opposing federal busing programs in the 1970s that were designed to desegregate public schools. Bernie Sanders in the debate also criticized Biden’s support for the Iraq War. Left overlooked, however, were some other skeleton’s in “lunch bucket” Joe’s closet, including his history of advancing the interests of the “deep state.”

        During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Biden sat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which was established upon recommendation of the 1975/1976 Pike committee to provide “vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Biden himself admitted that the Senate Intelligence Committee failed at this latter task, telling The New York Times in 1982 that its performance was “barely adequate. There is a lack of prudent and consistent oversight…. and a willingness to accept blanket findings and to give indefinite approval for conducting operations.”

      • Why the Canadian Government is Bullying Venezuela

        Since the attempted U.S. coup against Venezuela on January 23, backed by the Lima Group of which the Justin Trudeau government is an active member, Canada’s corporate media have joined in a chorus of hate and disinformation against the Bolivarian Revolution, with the criticism focusing on Nicolás Maduro, the country’s constitutionally elected president.

        In response to the nationalization of certain companies by the previous Chávez government, a number of Canadian companies have undertaken legal battles.

        At the same time, a debate has arisen among workers, trade unionists, and social and political activists. A few months ago, the Cuban daily Trabajadores reported the response of Canadian affiliates (over 5 million workers speaking through their unions) in support of Venezuela’s right to self-determination and to be free from interference by the United States and the Lima Group in its internal affairs. New actions and statements are still emerging from the grassroots.

        Examples include a series of articles that have appeared in the alternative press and on Canadian social networks, especially those representing left-wing and progressive forces; indeed, anyone who opposes foreign interference. These pieces lead us to wonder: what is Canada up to and why?

        These authors bravely question the traditional media, which only have space for writers who make sure to use key words like “contested elections” and to call Maduro an “authoritarian” in their pieces. Such phrases afford credibility to the narrative put forward by the United States and the Lima Group to the effect that interference in Venezuela’s affairs is a putative matter of “humanitarian” necessity.

        The corporate media suppress any attempt to give a serious answer to the question: why Canada? In this way, despite Canada’s pretense of being a paragon of freedom of expression and the press, the truth is being hidden from the public.

      • Why the US Puppet President of Venezuela is Toast

        Even the corporate media are losing enthusiasm for the US government’s ploy to replace the democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela with the US-anointed security asset Juan Guaidó. Reuters reports in a July 1 article, “Disappointed Venezuelans lose patience with Guaidó as Maduro hangs on,” that the US-backed “military uprising” has “unraveled.” A critical reading of the article explains why.

        Reuters correctly notes that “the 35-year old (Guaidó) had risen to prominence three months before,” though a little more background information would have been helpful. For instance, Guaidó was unknown to 81% of Venezuelans a little more than a week before he got a telephone call from US Vice President Pence telling him to declare himself interim president of Venezuela, which Guaidó dutifully did the following morning at a street rally flanked with US and Israeli flags. A member of a marginal far-right Venezuelan political party, Guaidó was not even in the top leadership of his own grouplet.

        For background, Reuters tells the reader that President Maduro “took office in 2013 following the death of his political mentor, Hugo Chávez,” but fails to mention that Maduro took office via a democratic national election. Guaidó has never stood in a national election. He was elected to the National Assembly but became head of that body through a mechanism where the political parties in the legislature rotate which party’s representative occupies the office.

        Reuters continues that after Maduro took office, he “has overseen an economic collapse that has left swaths of the once-wealthy country without reliable access to power, water, food, and medicines.” Not mentioned by Reuters is the economic war being waged against Venezuela by the US and its allies that has employed unilateral coercive measures – sanctions – responsible for taking the lives of some 40,000 people.

      • How Corporate Media Are Fueling a New Iran Nuclear Crisis

        The U.S. news media’s coverage of the Iran nuclear issue has been woefully off-kilter for many years. Now, however, those same outlets are contributing to the serious crisis building between Washington and Tehran.

        Iran has responded to Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal by resuming the stockpiling of low enriched uranium, removing the cap on the level of uranium enrichment and resuming work at the Arak nuclear reactor, while making it very clear that those steps would be immediately reversed if the United States agreed to full compliance.

        The major fact about Iranian nuclear policy before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was negotiated should shape public understanding of the current conflict: For more than three years, from 2012 to 2015, Iran could have enriched enough uranium at 20% enrichment level for one or more nuclear weapons, but it chose not to do so. Instead, it used the U.S.’s knowledge of that capability as leverage against the U.S. in negotiating what eventually became the JCPOA.

        The real nuclear crisis facing the United States is not that of an Iranian regime threatening a nuclear conflict. Rather, it’s a U.S. government policy that rejects the 2015 compromise and seeks to provoke Iran even further.

        Yet that’s not the way The New York Times and other news media have covered the story. From the start of the current phase of the conflict, corporate media coverage has overwhelmingly emphasized a presumed new Iranian threat to “break out” in order to obtain the enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon.

        A July 1 Times story by Rick Gladstone about Iran’s breach of the JCPOA cap on uranium stockpile stated that Iran’s latest move “does not by itself give the country the material to produce a nuclear weapon. … But it is the strongest signal yet that Iran is moving to restore the far larger stockpile that took the United States and five other nations years to persuade Tehran to send abroad.”

      • What Right Has Britain to Seize an Iranian Tanker Off Spain?

        What gives the UK the right to seize on July 4 an Iranian oil tanker in Spanish territorial waters, force it to Gibraltar, interrogate its four-man (non-Iranian) crew, and arrest its captain and chief officer?

        Why, the request of the U.S. of course.

        The Spanish government has stated that the British marines and Gibraltar port authority operated at the behest of Washington, after Trump threatened then called off airstrikes against the Islamic Republic. (Gibraltar authorities deny this.) The piratical act was naturally denounced by Iran, which threatens to seize a British tanker if London does not return its vessel. The Brits respond that they might return the ship if given assurances it was not headed to Syria; indeed, Foreign Minister Hunt had a “constructive” phone call with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif.

        Iran for its part denies that the ship was heading to Syria, but what if it was? What is wrong with any country selling oil to Syria, whose government is recognized by many large powerful countries and needs oil to recover from its horrific civil conflict?

        The EU has slapped sanctions on Syria since the Arab Spring protests and outbreak of war in Syria in 2011, in compliance with the U.S. decision to effect regime change through aid to armed rebels, and a concerted U.S.-Israeli campaign to isolate Damascus. The premise is that the U.S. determines a government’s legitimacy; when it withdraws it, Europe must go along.

        And when Europe tells Iran it must not sell oil to Syria, Iran must go along. Despite Iran’s extraordinary patience in the face of Trump’s provocations, its determination to stick to the JCPOA, its willingness to discuss with France some changes to the deal, it remains a pariah in Washington’s eyes.

        Despite the fact that Trump himself is deplored by world leaders generally and the U.S. has lost prestige in the world since his election, Britain still does its bidding. The British ambassador to Washington has been obliged to quit his post after the leaking of diplomatic cables accusing Trump of ineptness and incompetence, but still, London marches almost lock-step with Washington in foreign policy.

        Britain might have told Washington: “We don’t have any right to seize a commercial vessel in foreign waters engaging in legal activities. And why would we want to cooperate with you in exacerbating tensions with Iran?” Instead the British Marines act as Trump’s buccaneers.

      • United Arab Emirates Tanker Goes Silent in Strait of Hormuz

        A small oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz entered Iranian waters and turned off its tracker two days ago, leading the U.S. to suspect Iran seized the vessel amid heightened tensions in the region, an American defense official said Tuesday.

        Iran offered no immediate comment on what happened to the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah late Saturday night, though an Emirati official acknowledged the vessel sent out no distress call. Oil tankers previously have been targeted in the wider region amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

      • Iran Denies Trump Claim That U.S. Destroyed Iranian Drone

        Iran on Friday denied President Donald Trump’s claim that a U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone near the Persian Gulf in another escalation of tensions between the two countries less than a month after Trump nearly launched an airstrike.

        The Iranian military said all its drones had returned safely to their bases and denied there was any confrontation with a U.S. vessel the previous day.

        The country’s Revolutionary Guard said on its website it would release before-and-after images from the drone — it did not say when — to prove it was not destroyed.

      • Piddling in the Think Tank

        So let’s see if I’ve got this straight. Obama signed the JCPOA with Iran and other countries to get out of a tight spot. He was on the verge of being forced to go to war with Iran. That would have been a disaster. Signing this agreement was supposed to relax the tension. The agreement itself was a charade, for it was an agreement to control a nuclear program that didn’t exist. But by signing it Obama could dodge the pratfall of war. The agreement, signed in 2015, limited a program that all American spy agencies agreed had ended in 2003. This claim itself was a face-saving farce to give plausibility to their characterization of Iran’s villainy. In truth Iran never had a program to create nuclear weapons. By restricting this non-existent program Obama could say he got something in return for not going to war and so show that he was still tough in case anybody asked.

        The JCPOA gave a win to Hasan Rouhani whom Obama hoped was our man in Tehran because he had defeated Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an American bête noire, in Iran’s Presidential election. Rouhani had won on a promise to negotiate with the Former United States to ease sanctions on Iran. Ahmadinejad insisted it was a waste of time. Of course the real fuss was over dollar hegemony, the dollar monopoly over oil sales. Iran had rebelled from dollar hegemony and Obama thought that Rouhani, so westernized, would somehow herd them back into the corral.

        Months and months of negotiations followed in a farcical hammering out of a framework to hedge a program that didn’t exist. All of Europe, Russia, and China sent diplomats to chime in. Oh those negotiators hammered away at that framework. Imagine how hard it was for the Iranians to argue their side about limiting their non-existent nuclear weapons program. After all they didn’t want to look like they gave away too much. Everyone clambered into their clown suits just to save Obama’s face. I would love to know what the non-American negotiators said to one another when they were alone during this time. But they endured this ridiculous idiocy and publicly pretended they were actually doing something all in order to make Obama look good and so allow him to escape from the mess he had stupidly stepped in. The Iranians humiliated themselves and played in this farce in order to get the deal done and so ease sanctions. When everyone thought they had gone on long enough to look like hard-nosed negotiators they signed the JCPOA and Obama didn’t have to go to war with Iran and end civilization. If human existence is a good thing then this was a win for mankind. The fig leaf was in place. It was historic. The whole world breathed a sigh of relief. The sanctions the Iranians humiliated themselves to get lifted never were, thus proving, yet again, the perfidious nature of the Former United States.

    • Environment

      • Mumbai’s water stock crosses 50%; no decision yet on 10% water cut

        According to civic officials, the useful water level was 75.46% at this time last year and 71.05% in 2017 at the same point. Currently, the seven lakes (Modak Sagar, Tansa, Vehar, Tulsi, Upper Vaitarna, Bhatsa and Middle Vaitarna) have 7.35 lakh million litres of useful water (50.78%). This year, the level had gone down to as low as 4% owing to the delayed monsoon [longest wait in a decade]. However, the rainfall in the past 25 days helped recover the shortfall.

        The city needs 14.47 lakh million litres at the end of the monsoon every year so that it lasts till next monsoon.

      • Standing Rock Tribe, Allies, Oppose Planned Dakota Pipeline Upgrade

        “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has requested a (N.D. Public Service Commission) hearing and will be demanding that it undertake a thorough review of the significant risks created by the DAPL proposal,” said Hasselman in an emailed statement.”Remember that this is a proposal from one of the worst-run companies in the field, with an abysmal safety record.”

      • The Sea Is Consuming Jakarta, and Its People Aren’t Insured

        Jakarta is sinking, and at the worst possible time. As sea levels creep higher, the coastal megalopolis continues to pump too much water from its underlying aquifers, causing the land to collapse by almost a foot a year in some places. A modern city, home to 10 million people, is in danger of dis­appearing: According to one researcher’s models, 95 per­cent of north Jakarta could be submerged by 2050.

      • Energy

        • Database Reveals How Much Pollution Big Oil’s Top Execs Are Responsible for Each Year

          Thanks to recent analysis, we now know how much of global greenhouse gas emissions big oil companies like Exxon and Shell are responsible for. But it’s easy to forget that behind these corporate behemoths are powerful individuals, making decisions about where the companies should drill next.

          And thanks to a new database, we can now pinpoint how much of the companies’ pollution each executive is accountable for.

    • Finance

      • Betsy DeVos Is Getting Sued Over Student Debt

        Davis, a 36-year-old crime analyst from Orlando, was attending Florida Metropolitan University (FMU) in 2007 when the school was renamed by parent company Corinthian Colleges, a group comprised of dozens of for-profit schools that went belly-up in 2015 and was later fined $30 million for misrepresenting their job placement rates.

        “When…they became Everest University in 2007, they kind of just ghosted me, just dropped me out of all the classes and never talked to me ever again,” Davis said. “When I tried to transfer my credits to the community college here, not a single credit transferred.”

      • How the Blockchain Stops Cheaters: Cryptocurrency and Provably Fair Gaming

        Online casinos and betting sites have proliferated since the first of their kind came on the scene in 1994. Thanks to the convenience of playing from home, the allure of winning real money, and a degree of privacy, these popular sites continue to evolve. There have been major problems, though, regarding perceived fairness and randomness of play. Blockchain technology offers a solution in provably fair gaming, taking trust out of the picture almost entirely.

      • The Numbers Are In, and Trump’s Tax Cuts Are a Bust

        The most commonly heard refrain when Donald Trump and the GOP were seeking to pass some version of corporate tax reform went something like this: There are literally trillions of dollars trapped in offshore dollar deposits which, because of America’s uncompetitive tax rates, cannot be brought back home. Cut the corporate tax rate and get those dollars repatriated, thereby unleashing a flood of new job-creating investment in the process. Or so the pitch went.

        It’s not new and has never really stood up to scrutiny. Yet virtually every single figure who lobbied for corporate tax reform has made a version of this argument. In the past, Congress couldn’t or wouldn’t take up the cause, but, desperate for a political win after the loss on health care, Trump and the GOP leadership ran with a recycled version of this argument, and Congress finally passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on December 22, 2017. The headline feature was a cut in the official corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

        So did reality correspond to the theoretical case made for the tax reform bill? We now have enough information to make a reasonably informed assessment. Unless you think that tax havens like Ireland, Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, all of which continue to feature as major foreign holders of U.S. Treasuries, have suddenly emerged as economic superpowers, the more realistic interpretation of the data shows the president’s much-vaunted claims about the tax reform to be bogus on a number of levels. Even though some dollars have been “brought home,” there remain trillions of dollars domiciled in these countries (at least in an accounting sense, which I’ll discuss in a moment). If anything, the key provisions of the new legislation have given even greater incentives for U.S. corporations to shift production abroad, engage in yet more tax avoidance activities and thereby exacerbate prevailing economic inequality. Which, knowing Donald Trump, was probably the whole point in the first place.

        This tax bill was constructed on a foundation of lies. To cite one obvious example, the real U.S. corporate tax rate has never been near the oft-cited 35 percent level. As recently as 2014, the Congressional Research Service estimated that the effective rate (the net rate paid after deductions and credits) was around 27.1 percent, which was well in line with America’s international competitors.

        But even the new and supposedly more competitive 21 percent rate has not been as advertised. As Brad Setser (a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations) has illustrated, the new tax bill also included a provision that enabled “companies that shift their profits abroad to pay tax at a rate well below the already-reduced corporate income tax…Why would any multinational corporation pay America’s 21 percent tax rate when it could pay the new ‘global minimum’ rate of 10.5 percent on profits shifted to tax havens, particularly when there are few restrictions on how money can be moved around a company and its foreign subsidiaries?” The upshot, as Setser concludes, is that “the global distribution of corporations’ offshore profits—our best measure of their tax avoidance gymnastics—hasn’t budged from the prevailing trend.”

      • Noam Chomsky: “Worship of Markets” Is Threatening Human Civilization

        We live in dangerous times — no doubt about it. How did we get to such a state of affairs where democracy itself is in a very fragile condition and the future of human civilization itself at stake? In this interview, renowned thinker, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at MIT and Laureate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona Noam Chomsky, sheds light on the state of the world and the condition of the only superpower left in the global arena.

      • Reparations for Millennials

        I’ve been waiting for Elizabeth Warren to collapse. When will people see she is an opportunist? Seriously. A Republican through the first Clinton term and a Clinton supporter just two years prior. Warren is running on Bernie Sanders’ coattails from two years prior. Let’s face it: there’s a large portion of the country hungry for left-wing politics. I am not normally one to get offended by identity politics but her claim to be Native American while sitting on her hands during Standing Rock fit with the larger picture: Warren is an opportunist. On her politics. On her race. On her life story.

        This was the strength of Sanders in 2016 and one of the many reasons he is losing his luster now. Sanders never brought a personal narrative with him in 2016. He was all about the country. And it was very appealing. Warren brands herself as a working class warrior with sob stories and race-baiting but really one has to ask: where has she been? She is picking up on a few progressive issues but only widely popular ones.

        She cherry picks plans on specific issues and everyone is blown away. But no one is a threat with this approach. Sanders at least says he is a socialist. He at least has the claim that he wants to turn this entire thing on its head, via a revolution, or whatever. Sanders, while measly when it counts, is out of Warren’s league, way out. The left feels betrayed by Sanders kissing Hillary’s ring but that is no reason to spite him and go to Warren—who is just another Hillary who Sanders will be chivalrous to when she hasn’t earned it.

        Elizabeth Warren—a woman of below-average intelligence, above-average enthusiasm and charisma below the Sanders line. Frankly I find the amazement with her to be a little bit offensive to any serious person’s sensibilities. A woman can walk, chew gum and say Wall St. has made mistakes at the same time. It shouldn’t be that impressive.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Spain will give Morocco €30 million to curb irregular immigration

        The funding is on top of the €140 million the EU has pledged to provide the North African country

      • Former NSA contractor sentenced to 9 years for theft of government info

        Last year, Reality Winner, a contractor for Pluribus International Corp., was sentenced to more than five years in prison after leaking a classified report on Russian spearphishing in the 2016 election cycle.

      • Britain Grovels: the Betrayal of the British Ambassador

        Here in Ukania, where I’ve been for the past week, many things are going on: Wimbledon tennis, the cricket World Cup, the British Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Brexit fiasco, the shitty drama that is the Tory party leadership contest, revived interest in the “friendship” between the Queen’s son Prince Andrew (“Randy Andy”) and the sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, and the resignation of the UK’s ambassador to the US at the instigation of Donald Trump.

        The UK ambassador, Kim Darroch, was thrown under the bus by the soon-to-be prime minister BoJo Johnson, who, when asked repeatedly on TV, refused to give his support to the ambassador after the latter’s unflattering memos to the Foreign Office, on Trump and his administration, were leaked anonymously.

        Darroch’s assessment of Trump was spot-on, simply because it was fully in line with numerous other such assessments, As such, it was a repetition of what is now conventional wisdom. Darroch said: “We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction-riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”

        Darroch also asked whether the White House “will ever look competent”.

        Far more scathingly accurate accounts have been given of Trump and has administration. Nonetheless, Darroch’s commonplace memos sent Trump into a rage.

      • Ten Questions for Robert Mueller

        On page 2 of his report, Mueller makes it clear that his investigation was about “conspiracy,” not “collusion”:

        In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of “collusion.” In so doing, the Office recognized that the word “collud[e]” was used in communications with the acting attorney general to confirm certain aspects of the investigation’s scope, and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation. But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. For those reasons, the Office’s focus in analyzing questions of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy as defined in federal law.

        Apart from anti-trust violations,“collusion” isn’t an element of any federal crime. I don’t know how, or when, the term crept into the national discourse and spread thereafter like a disinformation meme.

        A writer from the website Lawfare posted an article in June 2018 that traced the use of “collusion” to a July 2016 article published by the Washington Examiner. The term was picked up later the same day by ABC, and in short order was repeated by other media outlets, mainstream politicians and such late-night comics as Trevor Noah.

      • National Polls Don’t Mean Much. Here’s Why.

        “Here we go with the Fake Polls,” President Donald Trump tweeted on July 15. “Just like what happened with the Election against Crooked Hillary Clinton.” He’s complaining about several polls that show him losing the national popular vote to various Democratic presidential aspirants, in some cases by double digits.

        He has a point. In 2016, most polls showed Hillary Clinton winning handily and most Americans seem surprised when Trump emerged victorious.

        On the other hand, Trump’s future isn’t quite as indisputably bright as he’d have you believe.

        We’re looking at two separate problems.

        The first problem is the false perception that there’s a “national popular vote” or, concomitantly, “winning nationally.” There isn’t.

        The second problem is that in recent years polling techniques just haven’t produced very accurate results.

        First, the “national popular vote”: Hillary Clinton received more votes nationwide than Trump did in 2016, but lost the election because all of each state’s electoral votes go to the winner of the popular vote in that state (except Nebraska and Maine, which apportion their electoral votes by congressional district). A narrow win in a state gets you exactly as many electoral votes as a landslide and vice versa.

        Clinton won California, beating Trump by more than 4 million votes. Clinton received nearly 3 million more votes than Trump nationwide. But Trump racked up 304 electoral votes to her 227 with small-margin wins in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Nationally, the election turned on fewer than 80,000 individual votes in those last three states.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Pakistan tries to silence critics ahead of Imran Khan-Trump meeting

        Blank editorial spaces have been appearing in Pakistani newspapers ahead of Khan’s visit as articles critical of his military-backed regime have been culled even, as the pro-government media is drumming up enthusiasm for a visit that the Trump administration is terse and business-minded about.

      • Bangladeshi Hindu woman to be tried for sedition for telling Trump minorities being persecuted

        A Bangladeshi Hindu woman will be tried for sedition after she told US President Donald Trump in Washington that the minority communities in her country were being persecuted, according to a minister.

        Priya Saha, organising secretary of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (HBCUC), attended a meeting at the White House on July 19 and a video of the meeting with Trump subsequently went viral on social media and sparked widespread controversy back home.

      • Tech critics on both sides have it wrong: Section 230 is not a special privilege

        But in a new Mercatus Center at George Mason University working paper, we discuss why Section 230 is about accelerating sound legal precedent and free speech protection, not special privilege. It emerged as the codification of a pro-speech legal principle that had been developing since the 1930s: Media distributors should very rarely be liable for the content they transmit.

      • Google Fined Again For Not Removing Banned Sites From Search Results

        For the second time in less than a year, Google has been fined by Russian authorities for not removing banned sites, which include pirate portals, from its search indexes. After failing to connect to the country’s national ‘blacklist’, the search giant has reportedly been selectively removing content, but not to the levels required.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • Why Online Dating Can Feel Like Such an Existential Nightmare

        Online dating’s rapid success got an assist from several other demographic trends. For example, college graduates are getting married later, using the bulk of their 20s to pay down their student debt, try on different occupations, establish a career, and maybe even save a bit of money. As a result, today’s young adults likely spend more time being single. With these years of singledom taking place far away from hometown institutions, like family and school, the apps are acting in loco parentis.

      • Google Settles Privacy Case Over Street View for $13 Million

        Google agreed to pay $13 million to end long-running litigation over claims that it violated a U.S. wiretapping law when vehicles used for its Street View mapping project captured data from private Wi-Fi networks.

      • What happened when I opted out of face scanning at Hong Kong International Airport

        I was surprised at how mentally and emotionally difficult opting out was for me. Opting out of privacy-invading surveillance in an airport required that I ignored instincts developed from decades of training to “respect authority” and social pressure to not “cause problems.” Given how much effort it was, it isn’t surprising that more people don’t do it.

        In software product development, there’s a saying that the power of defaults is strong. Most people will use the default option – defaults become the status quo and the de facto standard. The power of defaults is even stronger in social and political realms.

        People come to the airport to go on a trip, not to make a political statement. They take cues from the behaviour of other people. If the default option is to have their privacy invaded, only a small minority will go through the trouble and emotional stress of opting out.

      • Israel spyware firm can [crack] data from social media: report

        The London-based newspaper wrote that NSO group had “told buyers its technology can surreptitiously scrape all of an individual’s data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, according to people familiar with its sales pitch”.

      • Israeli Spyware Firm Accused Of [Attacking] Apple, Facebook And Google Responds (Updated)

        That [attack] was first reported by the Financial Times, and the same newspaper has continued to investigate, publishing a report today (July 19) that exposes sales claims being made by NSO that “its [Pegasus] technology can surreptitiously scrape all of an individual’s data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft.” According to the FT, NSO “did not specifically deny that it had developed the capability,” described in documents seen by the newspaper.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Protesters in Hong Kong incur the Communist Party’s wrath

        Some of the anti-government protesters had argued, however, that demonstrating outside central-government offices in Hong Kong would be pointless and possibly counter-productive. They fear it would anger the party and stiffen its resolve to tighten control in the territory. Better, they said, to keep up pressure on the local government to scrap the extradition law entirely and launch an independent investigation into police violence against protesters. Tactics, however, appeared to shift at the protest on July 21st—a sign, perhaps, of demonstrators’ frustration with what they see as the Hong Kong government’s failure to offer satisfactory responses to their demands.

      • Justin Bieber: I appreciate Trump helping A$AP Rocky, but ‘can you also let those kids out of cages?’ [iophk: corporate tweets in place of official communication]

        Trump has not responded to Bieber’s tweet, but said Saturday morning he had spoken with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to discuss A$AP Rocky’s case.

      • The top brass is not in your DMs

        “For content creators and official accounts, the department has a successful regiment for reporting fraud,” Smith said. “Individual military users can submit incident/cases via the platform’s help center. If the issue persists, individual members can contact their local public affairs office who may bring the issue to military branch liaisons.”

      • Alwar: Dalit man beaten to death after his bike hits a Muslim woman, family alleges mob lynching by Umar Sher and associates

        Harish’s family have alleged that after his bike hit Hakiman, Harish was brutally beaten up by a man named Umar Sher and his associates. The family has lodged an FIR under sections 323, 343 and the relevant sections of the SC/ST (prevention of atrocities) Act.

      • Polygamy in Aceh: what Indonesian women fear about law granting men more wives

        Plan being considered in Aceh province could make it legal for men to have up to four wives

      • ‘They gave you a Nobel prize for what?’ Trump asks ex-Daesh sex slave

        Murad, one of thousands of Yazidi females abducted and taken as sex slaves by Daesh during their campaign of expansion from 2014 to 2018 and who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, was part of a group of survivors of religious persecution who met Trump in the Oval Office on the sidelines of an important meeting with the State Department.

      • Trump meets 27 survivors of persecution in Oval Office, learns about their plight

        Among those who participated in the visit were American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was freed from prison in Turkey last year; Nadia Murad, a Yazidi advocate and Nobel Peace Prize winner; and Mariam Ibrahim, a Christian mother who was freed from death row in Sudan in 2014.

      • Iraqi refugee Nadia Murad to Trump: ISIS killed family. Trump responds: ‘Where are they now?’[iophk: further signs of how advanced the dementia has gotten]

        She also explained how she and 95,000 other Yazidis became refugees due to the area still being in turmoil despite ISIS being gone.

      • Media Just Can’t Stop Presenting Horrifying Stories as ‘Uplifting’ Perseverance Porn

        “THIS IS AWESOME!” That’s how Fox 5 DC described its story (5/28/19) about Logan Moore of Cedartown, GA, a disabled two-year-old whose parents were unable to afford to buy him a walker, so employees at Home Depot fashioned one together themselves for him.

        The story closely resembles another recent CNN report (4/1/19): “A Two-Year-Old Couldn’t Walk on His Own. So a High School Robotics Team Built Him a Customized Toy Car.” That piece noted how Minnesotan toddler Cillian Jackson couldn’t walk due to a genetic condition, and how his parents couldn’t afford treatment. It described the ingenuity of the school children who built him a car, and Cillian’s new found freedom, but did not explore why a baby with a disability had been abandoned by US society.

        The clear implication in these stories was that those children would have been left permanently unable to move if not for the help of underpaid employees or the kindness of other children. How many disabled American children with poor parents were not so lucky? The articles did not ask. Instead, they were presented as “uplifting” human interest pieces.

      • Bruce Dixon: A Giant Walks On

        At the 2016 Green Party Convention in Houston, he explained that during a Georgia prison strike, the Atlanta party had needed space and more phone lines to field all the calls it was getting from prisoners and their families.

      • Trump May Be a White Nationalist, but American Racism Is Bipartisan

        The wealthy, white, establishment-Democrat Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, had no choice but to outwardly defend the House’s four leftish first-term women of color against the nation’s white nationalist president. Donald Trump had just used his Twitter account to launch a vicious nativist assault on Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. On the same day his administration had marked for a major round-up of undocumented immigrants, Boss Tweet weighed in on “the Squad’s” recent conflict with Pelosi over border security legislation:

        “So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe … now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came? Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

        This was worse than the usual eye-rolling filth out of the president’s Twitter feed. It was the malicious rant of a frothing white nationalist.

      • I Know What It’s Like to Be Told to ‘Go Back’ to My Own Country

        Let’s set aside that Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley were born in the U.S., if only for a moment. Regardless of where you were born, if you’re a person of color in America, it’s likely that you or someone you love has been told a variation of “Go back to where you came from.” I’ve lost track of how many stories I’ve heard, but a personal experience immediately springs to mind watching the most powerful man in the country attack four women of color.

        Just after the 2016 election, I was home in the U.S. for an extended period to work and visit my family. My partner, brothers and I were driving through rural Illinois, where I was born, to Chicago, after a wedding in Wisconsin when we stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts. There, a group of young white men started making loud comments about how we should “immigrate here legally, and then you could vote for Trump” as, I assume, they just had. It’s hard to know if it was my partner’s British accent, or the color of my brothers’ and my skin that made them assume we were not from the country, let alone that very state, but it struck straight to the core of my frustrations that the U.S. had just elected an unabashed nativist as president.

        “I was born here. Not voting for Trump makes me no less of a U.S. citizen than you,” I replied through gritted teeth. The kids backed off immediately, and ultimately, they didn’t seem intent on attacking us. While I tell myself it could’ve been worse, and I have indeed heard much worse, their remarks have stayed with me. While I was no stranger to American racism, this was the first time my citizenship status had been openly questioned by a stranger who wasn’t a U.S. border patrol officer. (It should be noted that these officials have had no trouble asking me, repeatedly, why I was re-entering the U.S., unwilling to accept my answer that I was born here.)

        What became clear to me at that Illinois Dunkin’ Donuts, its surrounding roads littered with red Trump/Pence signs, was just how emboldened the most racist and xenophobic elements in the country have come to feel under Trump. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that counties that have hosted Trump rallies have been seen a 226% rise in hate crimes.

      • Scott Warren of No More Deaths Faces Retrial for Providing Humanitarian Aid to Migrants in Arizona

        Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday they will retry humanitarian aid volunteer and immigration rights activist Scott Warren on two charges related to aiding migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. This comes just a few weeks after a jury refused to convict Warren for providing water, food, clean clothes and beds to two undocumented migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona. Eight jurors found Warren not guilty; four said he was. Federal prosecutors will make their case against Warren again in an 8-day jury trial in November. They have dropped a conspiracy charge against him. If convicted on the two felony migrant harboring charges, Warren faces up to 10 years in prison.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents and Software Patents

        • Whether Enhanced Damage Judgment is Required for a “Final Decision”

          In papers recently filed with the Supreme Court, Brigham & Women’s has indicated its intent to petition for writ of certiorari on the final decision question — arguing that the Federal Circuit’s decision lacks authority and is contrary to several Supreme Court decisions, including Budinich v. Becton Dickinson & Co., 108 S. Ct. 1717 (1988) (a decision is final even without considering attorney fee motions — “A question remaining to be decided after an order ending litigation on the merits does not prevent finality if its resolution will not alter the order or moot or revise decisions embodied in the order.”); and Ray Haluch Gravel Co. v. Central Pension Fund, 134 S. Ct. 2205 (2014) (The fact that attorney fees are authorized by contract does not change the usual rule that attorney’s fees “do not remedy the injury giving rise to the action” and therefore not part of a merits decision.)

          One key way that the Federal Circuit distinguished enhanced damages from attorney fees was by looking at the statutory structure and recognizing that enhanced damages are part of the regular damages statute 35 U.S.C. § 284 while attorney fees are separately codified in 35 U.S.C. § 285. “The source of authority to award damages is the same source of authority that authorizes enhanced damages.” I’ll note that this exact type of reasoning was rejected by the Supreme Court in Budinich and Ray Haluch Gravel.

      • Copyrights

        • Rome Court finds videosharing platform directly liable for content uploaded by users

          A few days ago, the Rome Court of First Instance (Tribunale di Roma) issued what might be one of the first, if not the first decision (RG 24711-2012, decision 14757/2019) in Europe, which has found a hosting provider – other than piracy-focused ones like The Pirate Bay – directly liable for content uploaded by users of the platform.

          [...]

          Somehow, the Rome court overlooked to consider that it is unclear how to interpret the concept of active/passive hosting provider and it is still uncertain whether the conclusion in Ziggo, that is that the operators of The Pirate Bay would be directly liable for the doing of copyright-restricted acts, could extend to the operators of other platforms.

          Currently, there is a case (C-682//18 YouTube) pending before the CJEU concerning the direct liability of YouTube (a platform similar to Dailymotion) (see here), and a new case (C-442/19 NSE) concerning the direct liability of platforms for the doing of acts of communication to the public and the availability of the safe harbour in Article 14 of the E-commerce Directive was also referred a few days ago.

          A request was made in the Rome proceedings to refer the case to the CJEU for guidance, but the Rome court refused, finding that no interpretive doubt would subsist.

        • Guest post: YouTube shifts the burden: requires manual copyright claimants to timestamp the allegedly infringing material; simplifies the rectification process

          Readers may recall my recent post regarding one YouTuber’s difficulties with remedying automatic copyright claims against his videos uploaded to the site. User complaints were not contained to the automatic copyright claim system, however, as YouTube announced revisions to its manual copyright claim system last week.

          Until recently, YouTube users faced the possibility of defending against or rectifying copyright claims with the burden of independently identifying and removing the infringing material. Following criticism from popular users regarding manual copyright claims in which claimants had not needed to specify the allegedly infringing portion of the subsequent work nor the allegedly infringed portion of the original work, YouTube began to revise their copyright system.

          YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki told creators that the company was considering improvements to the system of manual copyright claims on the site in April 2019; on July 9, product manager, Julian Bill unveiled a timestamp requirement for claimants and a method for possible infringers to expeditiously resolve these claims.

        • Alleged KickassTorrents Founder Continues to Fight US Extradition

          Three years ago today, the popular torrent site KickassTorrents was shut down following a criminal investigation by the U.S. Government. While the site is now a distant memory to most people, alleged founder Artem Vaulin remains in limbo, fighting an extradition request from the U.S. in Poland.

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