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Links 13/5/2020: LibreOffice 7.0 Now Available for Public Testing and Annual Report 2019 of Document Foundation (TDF)

Posted in News Roundup at 12:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Leftovers

    • Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Ego Decides That COVID-19 Must Be Why Quibi Totally Sucks And No One Wants It

      A few weeks back, we went into detail on why Quibi was such a total disaster from Day 1, which can pretty much be summed up by the fact that Hollywood thinks the way you build something people want is to throw tons of money at it (and fudge the books on the back end), while refusing to understand that getting people to actually like what you want — by making it convenient and building community — matters. Hollywood overvalues throwing money at big name content makers, and completely ignores the tech, community, and social side of things. And Quibi just makes that whole thing abundantly clear.

    • Twitter employees can work from home forever, CEO says

      The long-term work-from-home policies of these companies stand in stark contrast to much of the rest of the country, where states are slowly easing lockdown restrictions. Governors in several states, including California, where Twitter, Facebook and Google are based, have already started a phased reopening of their economies.

    • Twitter Will Let Employees Work From Home Permanently

      Twitter said most of its workforce will be able to work from home — if they choose to — even after the company reopens offices when conditions permit amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

      Silicon Valley companies were among the first adopters of work-from-home policies when the coronavirus spread, and they’re in no rush to bring workers back to campus. Facebook and Google told employees last week that they will have the option to work from home until the end of 2020 — with most workers expected to not return to the office until 2021.

    • Twitter Will Allow Employees To Work At Home Forever

      In his email, Dorsey said it’s unlikely Twitter would open its offices before September, and that business travel would be canceled until then as well, with very few exceptions. The company will also cancel all in-person events for the rest of the year, and reassess its plan for 2021 later this year. Finally, Twitter upped its allowance for work from home supplies to $1,000 for all employees.

  • Education

    • An Elementary School Repeatedly Dismissed Allegations Against Its Principal. Then, an FBI Agent Pretended to Be a 13-Year-Old Girl.

      For some parents, it was the gifts from the principal to young girls and their families that gave them pause. A few too many presents that cost a little too much money. Then began the late-night Facebook messages.

      Through most of it, the principal of one of the largest elementary schools in rural Alaska remained on the job and in close contact with students. Then, in December, Gladys Jung Elementary Principal Christopher Carmichael was arrested by the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force and later charged with possession of child pornography, attempted coercion of a child and sexual abuse of a minor.

    • Covid-19 Has Made Our Broken School System Worse

      Today, all we’re left with is a deafening silence that muffles the sound of so much suffering. The unfolding public health, mental health, and economic crisis of Covid-19 has laid bare the fragility of what was. The institutions charged with caring for and guiding our most valuable assets—our children—were already gutted by half a century of chronic underfunding, misguided curricular policies that prioritized testing over real learning, and social policies that favored austerity over taking care of the most vulnerable members of our society. Now that so many teachers are sequestered and alone or locked away with family, our bonds of proximity broken, we’re forced to stare into that void, scrambling to find and care for our students across an abyss of silence. The system is broken. The empire has no clothes.

  • Hardware

    • AMD Announces The Radeon Pro VII

      A day ahead of NVIDIA’s postponed virtual GTC keynote, AMD announced the Radeon Pro VII. The Radeon Pro VII offers 16GB of HBM2 memory, 3840 Stream processors, up to 6.5 FP64 TFLOPS / 13.1 FP32 TFLOPS, and can has six mini-DP display outputs.

      The Radeon Pro VII supports AMD Infinity Fabric Link for high-speed GPU-to-GPU communication for multi-GPU setups. The Radeon Pro VII supports PCI Express 4.0 and the card is rated for 1TB/s of memory bandwidth.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Finding Hope in Times of Despair: New World is Possible

      We are living in seemingly very dark times. I don’t need to tell you that. You know. We are all living through a pandemic, the likes of which few of us, if any, have ever seen in our lifetimes. The pandemic is being used, moreover, as an occasion for the super-rich and their friends in government to seize what they had yet been unable to steal from the rest of us. The pandemic is hitting African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans particularly hard, and our rulers seem elated by this fact, and thus willing to let the virus spread as it will. Meanwhile, the threats of nuclear holocaust and global warming continue to threaten our existence. Just to add icing to the cake, we are now being frightened with the prospect of “murder hornets” taking over.

    • Terminal Conditions

      As I write, the United States is approaching 80,000 deaths from COVID-19. Undoubtedly, this number will exceed 100,000 in the next few months. As a consequence of the incompetence and arrogance of the Trump Administration and the denial of scientific evidence by various Republican Governors, the situation will worsen, especially for the most vulnerable. Everyone from the working poor to shuttered populations in prisons, detention campus, and nursing homes to people of color will continue to suffer disproportionately.

    • Russia’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpasses 232,000 patients

      On the morning of May 12, Russian officials announced that the country had recorded 10,899 new coronavirus infections in the past day, bringing the nation’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 232,243 patients. According to the latest data, Russia has now overtaken Spain (which has 227,436 cases), to become the country with the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, after the United States.

    • Trump Labor Department Encourages States to Help Employers Report Workers Who Stay Home Due to Covid-19 Fears

      “There’s a plague outside but the Trump administration is strongly encouraging states to solicit employer tips on workers staying home.”

    • A ventilator short circuiting caused a fire at a St. Petersburg hospital. A device from the same Russian manufacturer caught fire in a Moscow hospital three days ago.

      A fire killed five people at St. Georgy’s Hospital in St. Petersburg on the morning of May 12. The blaze broke out on the sixth floor, in the department where coronavirus patients were being treated.

    • As Pandemic Rattles Global Food System, Report Deems Mass Malnutrition World’s Top Killer

      “The need for more equitable, resilient, and sustainable food and health systems has never been more urgent.”

    • As Covid-19 Devastates Navajo Nation, Doctors Without Borders Dispatches Team to Battle Outbreak

      “You’re telling people, ‘Wash your hands for 20 seconds multiple times a day,’ and they don’t have running water.”

    • ‘RT’ accuses ‘Meduza’ of publishing fake news about the scale of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak. Turns out, they reported the exact same news.

      In a post on Twitter, the Russian state-funded international TV network RT (formerly known as Russia Today), accused Meduza of spreading false information about Russia’s COVID-19 statistics.

    • Murderer in Chief: Donald Trump and the Tens of Thousands Coronavirus Dead

      Many argue that the U.S. president has blood on his hands. The question remains: just how much?

    • WATCH: Dr. Anthony Fauci Testifies Before the Senate on Covid-19 Pandemic

      “If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country.”

    • House Democrats Denounced for Covid-19 Relief Bill That Leaves ‘Door Wide Open’ for Fossil Fuel Bailouts

      “Democratic leadership must get this right,” warned one climate group, “because the fate of our habitable planet depends on it.”

    • Tyson is a Repeat Offender

      Even though 1,000 workers at Tyson’s slaughterhouse in Waterloo, IA have tested positive for the coronavirus, it has reopened. Tyson has said last week it would begin slaughtering pigs.

    • Too Fast, Too Soon

      Because grim times call for grim measures, members of the progressive group Indivisible laid body bags overseen by the Grim Reaper at Florida’s and Arizona’s statehouses and Texas’ governor’s mansion Tuesday to protest their GOP governors’ reckless moves to push ahead with re-opening their states despite grossly inadequate testing and rising COVID-19 cases and deaths – most notably as restrictions begin to be lifted. Indivisible said the coordinated, socially-distanced actions were aimed at urging their states’ respective governors to “listen to medical experts and not cave to pressure to (open) too fast” – an especially urgent message after Dr. Anthony Fauci’s testimony before Congress that re-opening too soon could cause catastrophic spikes in infections and deaths, which he warned are likely already far greater than the documented, surreal 81,000. The grisly demonstrations at three state capitols, each featuring a Grim Reaper surrounded by black, bulky, County Coroner body bags, came as all three governors mulishly forge ahead with reopening in the name of ungodly capitalism, and mass negligent homicide be damned.

    • Street Medics See Cuba As A Model For COVID-19 Response In Vulnerable Communities

      In Miami, Dr. Armen Henderson was outside of his home loading his vehicle full of tents and supplies to distribute to homeless people the week of April 12, something common for the doctor known for working with the homeless population, when he quickly found himself in handcuffs.

      A Miami police officer said Armen was stopped for trash in his yard, however the doctor pushes back against this, knowing it was because of his race. 

    • Michigan anti-lockdown protesters spread COVID-19 to rural areas, Whitmer tells Pence in leaked call

      Some of the protests were organized by well-funded groups linked to the Trump administration.

      But Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, agreed with Whitmer’s concerns that the protesters risked infecting others by gathering in large groups without masks or social distancing.

    • Sweden Cared More About Islamophobia Than Saving Elderly in Nursing Homes From Coronavirus

      There are no definitive answers as to the exact cause of the outbreak among Muslim immigrants. But Swedish authorities knew early on that it was more prevalent among certain immigrant groups and yet did nothing to protect the elderly Swedes living in care homes from a migrant care worker population.

    • Bluetooth may not work well enough to trace coronavirus contacts

      However, Doug Leith and Stephen Farrell at Trinity College Dublin concluded it will be “challenging” to correctly record contacts because Bluetooth signal strength varies so much depending on which way phones are facing, whether a body is between two phones and how much nearby materials reflect and absorb signals.

      The pair tested four scenarios – walking around streets, at a meeting table in an office, on a train and in a supermarket – using Android phones and a version of Singapore’s tracing app, TraceTogether. Generally, proximity could be established while walking. But at a meeting table, the signal dropped by 38 per cent if both phones were in pockets rather than placed on the table, making it hard to tell if two people had come into close contact.

    • Wuhan to test all residents after handful of new infections
  • Integrity/Availability

    • Proprietary

      • Microsoft Issues Windows 10 ‘Critical’ Update Warning

        Of these, in particular, Microsoft states that nine of the critical vulnerabilities (CVE-2020-1023, CVE-2020-1024, CVE-2020-1056, CVE-2020-1059, CVE-2020-1069, CVE-2020-1096, CVE-2020-1102, CVE-2020-1117, CVE-2020-1153) enabled hackers to remotely activate code on your computer to assume full control. This is the ultimate end game for any Windows 10 attack, so it’s vital you install these fixes as soon as possible.

        Needless to say, such a suggestion will send shivers down the spines of many Windows 10 users. The operating system has been notoriously unreliable for some time and deleting user data, breaking Chrome security and losing user profiles are just some of the recent highlights.

        On the flip side, Microsoft has promised important upgrade changes are coming to Windows 10, while the company is also reprioritizing plans to bring Windows 10X, an all-new platform, to laptop and desktop PCs. So yes, change is needed but it is coming.

      • Ransomware Forces Shutdown of Texas Judiciary Network [iophk: tweets in place of official communications :( ]

        Texas revealed on Monday that a ransomware attack has forced the shutdown of its judicial branch network, including websites and servers


        “The attack began during the overnight hours and was first discovered in the early morning hours on Friday. The attack is unrelated to the courts’ migration to remote hearings amid the coronavirus pandemic,” the notice reads.

      • The Confessions of Marcus Hutchins, the Hacker Who Saved the Internet

        Vinny wanted him to do the work of integrating the other programmer’s web injects into their malware, then test the rootkit and maintain it with updates once it launched. Hutchins says he knew instinctively that he should walk away and never communicate with Vinny again. But as Hutchins tells it, Vinny seemed to have been preparing for this conversation, and he laid out an argument: Hutchins had already put in nearly nine months of work. He had already essentially built a banking rootkit that would be sold to customers, whether Hutchins liked it or not.

        Besides, Hutchins was still being paid on commission. If he quit now, he’d get nothing. He’d have taken all the risks, enough to be implicated in the crime, but would receive none of the rewards.

        As angry as he was at having fallen into Vinny’s trap, Hutchins admits that he was also persuaded. So he added one more link to the yearslong chain of bad decisions that had defined his teenage life: He agreed to keep ghostwriting Vinny’s banking malware.

      • Security

        • Kali Linux 2020.2: New look, new packages, new installer options

          Offensive Security has released Kali Linux 2020.2, the latest iteration of the popular open source penetration testing platform. There are several cosmetic changes in this newest Kali Linux release…

        • Huawei Says Controversial Linux Kernel Patch Wasn’t Their Idea

          A Huawei engineer has decided to contribute a patch to the Linux kernel, trying to help bolster the security of the widely deployed open source project. The patch was called “Huawei kernel self protection” (HKSP), and it allegedly featured various security-hardening options for the Linux kernel. Thinking that this is coming from a controversial entity, the Linux kernel team thoroughly scrutinized the patch and found that it contains a “trivially exploitable vulnerability.” The discovery of that was the work of “GRSecurity,” an entity that has been contributing security hardening patches on Linux kernel for a long time now.

          GRSecurity has even provided a proof of concept (PoC) code on how to exploit the vulnerability as an unprivileged user. They called the HKSP patch a risk that creates new attack surface and introduces more problems than those it attempts to solve in the first place. Naturally, this discovery sparked rumors about the intention of the contributor, Huawei’s long-shot goal to try and weaken the security of the Linux kernel, and more. Huawei responded to this by saying that their employee contributed on his own and that the company had no involvement in this action whatsoever.

        • Understanding the DTLS all-zero ClientHello.random vulnerability

          A new vulnerability (CVE-2020-11501) has been discovered in the Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) implementation in GnuTLS, where clients always send a fixed value (all-zero bytes) instead of random bytes in the first handshake message (ClientHello). The GnuTLS releases from 3.6.3 to 3.6.12 are affected by this vulnerability.

          This vulnerability impacts Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 and has been rated as having a Moderate impact by Red Hat Product Security. A fix for this issue has been delivered as part of RHSA-2020:1998, shipped on April 30, 2020.

        • Securing Linux’s master sysadmin command: Sudo

          Sudo is one of the most powerful and dangerous tools in the Unix or Linux system administrator’s toolbox. With it, an ordinary user can run commands just as if he or she were the superuser or any other user. Now, One Identity, the company behind the utility, has released a new version of sudo, called sudo 1.9, which gives it better auditing, logging, and security than ever before.

        • Privacy/Surveillance

          • Even As The GOP Whines About Illegal ‘Deep State’ Surveillance, It’s Preparing To Give More Surveillance Powers To The FBI

            We’ve been pretty critical of federal surveillance powers going back, well, as long as we can remember. And while Trump’s biggest supporters like to insist that FISA warrant abuses were some sort of new thing that were just used against his campaign in a politically motivated manner, the reality is that it’s just been standard operating procedures for the FBI to abuse the same “backdoor warrants” that were first revealed in 2013, but go back years before that. While, yes, the problems with the Carter Page surveillance were concerning, they were no more concerning than tons of other crap the FBI has done in making use of so-called backdoor warrants to surveil tons of Americans without cause.

          • ‘Smart’ Home Platform Wink Changes The Deal, Suddenly Imposes Subscription Fees

            Time and time again we’ve highlighted how in the modern era you don’t really own the hardware you buy. In the broadband connected era, firmware updates can often eliminate functionality promised to you at launch, as we saw with the Sony Playstation 3. And with everything now relying on internet connectivity, companies can often give up on supporting devices entirely, often leaving users with very expensive paperweights as we saw after Google acquired Revolv.

          • National Intelligence Report Shows The FBI Never Gets Warrants For Its Backdoor Searches Of NSA Collections

            The Intelligence Community’s latest transparency report [PDF] contains even more evidence of the FBI’s inability to follow the law when helping itself to the NSA’s collections. The infamous “backdoor searches” of the NSA’s Section 702 collections — which sweep up millions of electronic communications every year — have always been a problem for the FBI. (But it’s a problem the FBI likely doesn’t mind having.)

          • Governments Shouldn’t Use “Centralized” Proximity Tracking Technology

            Companies and governments across the world are building and deploying a dizzying number of systems and apps to fight COVID-19. Many groups have converged on using Bluetooth-assisted proximity tracking for the purpose of exposure notification. Even so, there are many ways to approach the problem, and dozens of proposals have emerged.

            One way to categorize them is based on how much trust each proposal places in a central authority. In more “centralized” models, a single entity—like a health organization, a government, or a company—is given special responsibility for handling and distributing user information. This entity has privileged access to information that regular users and their devices do not. In “decentralized” models, on the other hand, the system doesn’t depend on a central authority with special access. A decentralized app may share data with a server, but that data is made available for everyone to see—not just whoever runs the server. 

          • Facebook’s AI for Hate Speech Improves. How Much Is Unclear

            Tuesday the social network reported a big jump in the number of items removed for breaching its rules on hate speech. The increase stemmed from better detection by the automated hate-speech sniffers developed by Facebook’s artificial intelligence experts.

            The accuracy of those systems remains a mystery. Facebook doesn’t release, and says it can’t estimate, the total volume of hate speech posted by its 1.7 billion daily active users.

          • [Old] NSA Asked Linus Torvalds To Install Backdoors Into GNU/Linux

            Nils Torvalds’ revelation was presented in an episode which started (at 3:06:58) by me pointing out to the Microsoft representative in the panel, that in a system like GNU/Linux, built on open source, you can examine the source code to see that there aren’t any back doors. In Microsoft’s systems, this possibility is absent, since the source code is secret to outsiders.

            My question to the Microsoft representative was whether she’d be allowed to disclose if there are deliberate back doors in their systems, in the event that there are. She never responded to that question, but obviously, she didn’t have to. From other sources, we know that the NSA always prohibits the private companies they force into cooperation from disclosing any of it.

          • Experts: Fever-Detecting Cameras Won’t Really Stop Outbreaks

            While Amazon has touted the cameras as a technological safety measure for its warehouses, doctors and infectious disease experts told Wired that the cameras, even when supplemented with symptom questionnaires, are extremely unlikely to prevent further spread of COVID-19. In fact, they could let up to 50 percent of infected people go undetected.

          • Why Your Shrink Wasn’t Offering Virtual Therapy Until Now

            But the federal government released another memo in March essentially saying it would turn a blind eye to medical providers who want to use popular videoconferencing apps for telehealth during the pandemic. Doctors should feel free, the government said, to use everything from FaceTime to Skype to treat patients. It specified, however, that they may not use TikTok. Seriously.

          • Confidentiality

            • Taiwanese academics call for law regulating controversial digital ID

              At a press conference Tuesday (May 12), the Taiwan Association of University Professors lashed out at the government for implementing the policy hastily and recklessly. With the lack of dialogue as well as unresolved issues such as data security and accountability, citizens will be exposed to high risks, the association said.

            • How IoT is becoming the pulse of healthcare

              The Internet of Things is made up of small computing devices with unique IDs connected together through a network and performing specific tasks. In healthcare that can mean monitoring building temperatures, air flow, medical devices or even the health of a patient in or out of a healthcare facility.

              Because of their ability to independently communicate data, there’s potential for eliminating direct human interaction with systems equipped with IoT devices and central data respositories, automating processes and increasing efficiency and data accuracy.

    • Defence/Aggression

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • It took one question for a reporter to expose Trump’s latest baseless Obama conspiracy theory

        You might be wondering why this even came up during a press conference about coronavirus testing. The answer appears to be that with the US leading the world in deaths and the number of new cases in the country not yet showing a strong downward trend, Trump believes fresh conspiracy-mongering about Obama is politically useful for him — even if there is no basis for them.

        The rest of the press conference proved the point: After repeating misinformation about testing and the state of coronavirus cases, he abruptly ended the event and huffed off the stage when two female reporters asked him pointed questions.

      • Chinese State Media Pushes Conspiracy Theory That Coronavirus Escaped From Maryland Military Base

        Two government-run newspapers published op-eds on Monday and Tuesday attacking the U.S. response to the pandemic and defending Beijing against allegations of covering up news of the initial outbreak, failing to adequately warn the world, and purposely underreporting the number of infections and deaths in the country.

        The Chinese Communist Party is also refusing to allow an international probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite growing pressure from Western nations and the World Health Organization.

      • A Terrorist Challenges New UK Terrorism Law as Anti-Islam

        Khan’s activities paint a picture of an individual who presents a clear and present danger to the public if released prematurely.

        But his challenge of the current law preventing his release is not unusual.

        I have written about how incarcerated terrorists become “jail wise,” and learn to use the legal system to “demand their rights” and challenge their conditions of confinement. The charade that an incarcerated, radical Islamic terrorist has evolved into an advocate for human rights and the sanctity of life is absurd. This absurdity was crystallized when a French judge ruled last year that Islamic terrorist Salah Abdeslam, involved in the 2015 Paris attacks, had a right to privacy while in his prison cell.

        Khan’s case may be headed in that direction, as the judge in his case, Neil Garnham, allowed the lawsuit to go forward stating that Khan has an “arguable case” and it should be further examined. How long that will take we do not know.

    • Environment

      • Humanity’s immense impact on Earth’s climate and carbon cycle

        The same cannot be said of the increased flow into the ocean sink. More dissolved carbon dioxide makes seawater more acidic. How bad this acidification will prove is open to debate. But the process will probably be very damaging to some ecosystems, including reefs already stressed by rising temperatures. Even if fossil-fuel use were not warming the climate, this acidification would in itself count as a frightening global change.

        The growth of the two carbon sinks is also, left to itself, unsustainable. Warm water absorbs less carbon dioxide than cold water. So as the oceans warm their ability to offset emissions weakens. As to the land sink, higher temperatures speed up microbial respiration, especially in soils, more reliably than higher carbon-dioxide levels speed up photosynthesis.

      • The Trump Administration Is Rolling Back EPA Regulations During the Coronavirus Pandemic

        Yet as people are dying from this novel disease across the United States, our government officials are putting people like me at even higher risk by loosening environmental restrictions for the fossil fuel industry.

        On March 26, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would allow companies to monitor themselves, for the foreseeable future, due to the COVID-19 crisis. These companies will effectively be able to skirt environmental standards during the pandemic, and won’t be punished or fined for any violations of the EPA’s own regulations. Without enforcement or consequences, environmental groups say we’re almost certain to see an increase in pollution.

      • Plastic waste now litters Antarctic shore

        From the deep Mediterranean marine mud to the desolate beaches of the Southern Ocean, plastic waste now gets everywhere.

      • The Wet-Bulb Peril Has Arrived… Way Too Early

        The human body has limits. If “temperature plus humidity” is high enough, even a healthy person seated in the shade with plentiful water to drink will suffer severely or likely die. It’s the Wet-Bulb Temperature WBT effect.

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • The War Against the Wolves of Alaska
        • Deforestation and Monoculture Farming Spread COVID-19 and Other Diseases

          Over a year before COVID-19 was first detected, biologists at the University of Warsaw published “Bats, Coronaviruses, and Deforestation,” a paper that links the rapid destruction of the natural habitats of bats to the spread of coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.

        • Conservation’s Eyes in the Sky
        • Secret Chinese criminal societies make millions poaching abalone

          In parts of South Africa the impact of organized crime is visible. In early mornings, poachers can be seen flocking to the beaches of Western Cape. From Cape Agulhas to Cape Columbine, the turf is divided up and controlled by a prison-based gang known as the Numbers.

          “On certain days, whatever comes out of the sea — abalone, lobster, periwinkle — belongs to them,” wrote South African journalist John Grobler in Vrye Weekblad, an online newspaper. They “descend in broad daylight and in large numbers on the craggy beaches to strip out whatever abalone they can find without the police lifting as much as a finger.”

          But the true beneficiaries are the Chinese exporters who control the trade. Ninety percent of abalone exports are destined for Hong Kong. Since Chinese exporters often pay in drugs, addiction rates have skyrocketed. South Africa now has the highest rate of methamphetamine use of any country in the world. Chinese criminal groups also have corrupted some local enforcement officials through bribery, Grobler reported.

        • Canada zoo to send pandas home after bamboo shortage
    • Finance

      • ‘No Excuse for This’: House Dems Unveil 1,815-Page Bill That Would Bail Out Corporate Lobbyists But Omits Key People-First Priorities

        “Democratic leadership has had plenty of input from progressive thinkers over the past couple of months. They just care more about the input from corporate lobbyists.”

      • New York City’s Budget Must Stop Robbing Our Children to Pay the NYPD

        It’s that time of year again — New York City’s budget process is underway. Unfortunately, the proposed budget is $3.4 billion less than last year due to the lost tax revenue from COVID-19, as well as cuts in New York’s state budget, leaving a bigger hole for the city to backfill. What will New York City do to balance its expenses?

      • Rosneft CEO asks Putin for government support due to the ‘dramatic state’ of the oil market

        According to Sechin, the decision to reduce the investment program’s costs was made “taking into account the dramatic state of the global oil market as a whole,” and in connection with the decision to reduce global oil production. 

      • Warning Against Swift Reopening of Economy, Fauci Admits Covid-19 Death Toll ‘Almost Certainly Higher’ Than Official 80,000+

        Meanwhile, new poll shows majority of Americans believe federal government not doing enough to stop resurgence of outbreak.

      • The Trump Depression Could Be Worse Than the Great Depression

        Avoiding a dystopian future requires as a first step repairing the elements of fragility in our political economy.

      • Trump Labor Dept. Pushes States to Help Employers Report Workers Who Stay Home

        With the stated goal of rooting out “waste and fraud” in the unemployment insurance system, President Donald Trump’s Department of Labor is openly encouraging ongoing state efforts to help employers report workers who refuse to return to their jobs out of fear of contracting the coronavirus.

      • These Companies Got Millions in Tax Breaks to Bring Jobs to Youngstown. They Created Next to None.

        When the American steel industry collapsed in the late 1970s, few places were hit as hard as Youngstown, Ohio, a manufacturing powerhouse with a bevy of hulking mills. It never really recovered, and today the city’s name is shorthand for postindustrial decline. Desperate for investment, local officials tried a tactic that municipalities around the country have also embraced: awarding millions of dollars in property tax breaks to companies promising new jobs.

        But in Youngstown, those efforts have largely failed to deliver, an investigation by The Business Journal and ProPublica has found. The results are instructive for communities across the nation as they try in the coming months to cope with the crushing financial impact of the coronavirus epidemic. Ohio regulators, for instance, warn that so-called enterprise zone agreements should be “a tool of the last resort” for local communities because of the “far-reaching” effects of tax breaks.

      • Telegram founder announces cancellation of $1.7 billion blockchain project TON

        Telegram co-founder Pavel Durov has announced that plans for the launch of his $1.7 billion blockchain project TON have been cancelled.

      • Last Year America’s CEOs Said They Cared About Us…They Lied

        Last August, the nabobs of Corporate America — the nearly 200 top CEOs who make up the prestigious Business Roundtable — sort of asked for forgiveness.

      • ‘Disaster Capitalism at Its Worst’: Report Details Big Oil’s Efforts to Cash In on Coronavirus

        “Polluters fought hard for kickbacks in the first coronavirus stimulus package and they are undoubtedly up to it again.”

      • Why America Cannot Afford to Let the U.S. Postal Service Go Bankrupt

        Bill Boone was a fresh-faced 23-year-old in 1952 when he cast his first ballot for U.S. president, while proudly serving aboard an aircraft carrier off the coast of Korea.

      • Learning All the Wrong Lessons From the 2008 Financial Crisis

        I recently wrote a piece for FAIR (4/25/20) about how I felt more optimistic about media reporting on the economic aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite what I saw as a failure to clearly call out capitalist market reliance. The New York Times was calling for people to remember FDR’s Four Freedoms, and even the Financial Times was encouraging readers to think about Beveridge’s Full Employment in a Free Society.

      • The Pandemic’s Catastrophic Hit to the Labor Market

        Temporary layoffs make up 78.3 percent of unemployment.

      • Moscow’s first day ‘back to work’ in photos Photographer Evgeny Feldman’s snapshots of the Russian capital on the day after the end of the ‘non-working’ days

        May 12 marked the end of the “non-working” days in Russia, which were introduced at the end of March in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Construction workers and industrial companies went back to work, and the capital began operating under a “mask regime” — Moscow’s residents are now required to wear both masks and gloves in stores, on public transport, and at work, or face fines of up to 5,000 rubles (about $68). In a special photo report for Meduza, photographer Evgeny Feldman took a walk around Moscow during rush hour, to see what the capital looks like during its first day back to work.

      • ProPublica Joins News Organizations in Suing for Small Business Program Loan Info

        ProPublica, along with The Washington Post, Bloomberg, The New York Times and Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, sued the Small Business Administration on Tuesday over its refusal to release detailed information for loans provided through the $659 billion Paycheck Protection Program.

        The PPP, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses, was launched by the $2.2 trillion CARES Act as one of the central government programs to respond to the coronavirus crisis.

      • The Real Reason Trump Wants to Reopen the Economy

        Here’s the truth: The biggest obstacle to reopening the economy is the pandemic itself. Any rush to reopen without adequate testing and tracing – a massive increase from what we’re doing now – will cause even more deaths and a longer economic crisis.The first responsibility of a president is to keep the public safe. But Donald Trump couldn’t care less. He’s trying to force the economy to reopen to boost his electoral chances, and he’s selling out Americans’ health to seal the deal. No matter the cost, Donald Trump’s chief concern is and will always be himself.

      • Playing the Blues

        I have been working very hard trying to get a government backed “Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan” for the music festival. It has been like banging my head off a brick wall, with a huge batch of documents and accounts to be in your hands before you are permitted to smash your head. Before the pandemic really took hold, I had written about the challenge of making music festival finances work and the need, given infrastructure costs, to reach a certain scale to become viable. At that stage my main worry was how to maintain the non-commercial, community vibe as we expanded; selling the tickets was not proving problematic.

      • German court decides to take back control with ECB ruling

        The 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany was May 8. The 70th anniversary of the Schuman declaration, which launched postwar European integration, was May 9. Just days before both, the German constitutional court launched a legal missile into the heart of the EU. Its judgment is extraordinary. It is an attack on basic economics, the central bank’s integrity, its independence and the legal order of the EU.

        The court ruled against the ECB’s public sector purchase programme, launched in 2015. It did not argue that the ECB had improperly engaged in monetary financing, but rather that it had failed to apply a “proportionality” analysis, when assessing the impact of its policies, on a litany of conservative concerns: “public debt, personal savings, pension and retirement schemes, real estate prices and the keeping afloat of economically unviable companies”.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • They Did It Once, Would They Do It Again?

        For those who may have forgotten, the Presidential election of 2000 was unlike any other.

      • Mission Imperative: Come November, Trump Must Go

        In case you needed a reminder, the pandemic reveals everything rancid about this presidency.

      • Biden Ridin’ the Pandemic to the White House, Trump to Take Hit for Neoliberalism’s Failures

        The world is amidst the COVID-19 crisis and in our corner of the planet a presidential campaign is reduced to a single issue: Trump/not Trump. Pick your poison.

      • Senate Staffer Warns Congress ‘Sleepwalking Toward a Gut-Wrenching, Painful Failure’ on Covid-19 Relief

        “Congress appears to be on its way to passing a half-assed bill that underachieves on public health, families/workers, state/local governments, businesses,” the senior Democratic aide fretted.

      • Ignoring Trump and Right-Wing Think Tanks, Red States Expand Vote by Mail

        On April 23, during the same week that Kentucky’s Republican secretary of state said he was contemplating a “significant expansion” of vote by mail, the Public Interest Legal Foundation emailed one of his employees under the subject line “28 MILLION ballots lost.”

      • ‘Our Democracy Can Never Be an Afterthought’: Congress Urged to Include Vote-by-Mail in Next Covid-19 Package

        “Congress must continue to invest in our democracy this year or else we’ll face potentially catastrophic consequences.”

      • Fauci to Senators: “We Risk Danger of Multiple Outbreaks” in Premature Reopening

        Anthony Fauci, a prominent member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force team and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, addressed a Senate committee on Tuesday about coronavirus and several states’ plans to “reopen” their economies in the midst of a pandemic, delivering to lawmakers a dire warning about the consequences of doing so.

      • What If Armed Terrorists Threatened the Prime Minister of Canada?

        Fortunately, Canada is not a country that has suffered continuous threats of coup d’etats as Venezuela has these last 21 years.

      • Ignoring Trump and Right-Wing Think Tanks, Red States Expand Vote by Mail

        On April 23, during the same week that Kentucky’s Republican secretary of state said he was contemplating a “significant expansion” of vote by mail, the Public Interest Legal Foundation emailed one of his employees under the subject line “28 MILLION ballots lost.”

        “Putting the election in the hands of the United States Postal Service would be a catastrophe,” wrote J. Christian Adams, president of PILF, a conservative organization that has long complained about voter fraud. His missive contended, with scant evidence, that “twice as many” mailed ballots “disappeared” in the 2016 presidential election than made up the margin of votes between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

      • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov hospitalized with COVID-19

        Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that he has been hospitalized after being diagnosed with the coronavirus.

      • Justice Thomas Said Forcing Trump to Release His Taxes Weakens the President

        The United States Supreme Court heard two different cases on a single matter: who may (or may not) have the legal right to access President Donald Trump’s financial and tax records.

      • President ‘Not Above the Law,’ Say Groups, as Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Trump Subpoena Cases With Vast Implications

        “The American people have the right to know whether the president is abusing power, concealing illegal activities, or dodging his taxes.”

      • Trump Is Using COVID-19 As An Excuse To Let Polluters Destroy
      • America’s pressure on China over Tibet will come to nought

        Exiles (like the protesters in India, pictured) will see the anniversary as a chance to remind the world of China’s brutality in Tibet and the hollowness of its promises of “autonomy” there. Like every other government in the world, America’s recognises Chinese sovereignty in Tibet. But China has always suspected it of encouraging a separatist movement there, which it sees as led by the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile after the suppression of an anti-China rebellion in 1959. In fact, the Dalai Lama has renounced the claim to independence, and seeks for Tibet only genuine autonomy.

        In Tibet itself, this month’s anniversary will pass without notice. The region has emerged from its covid-19 lockdown into the political lockdown that passes for normal life there. The official media are indulging in a propaganda blitz around a new law by the regional assembly that came into effect on May 1st: “Regulations on the Establishment of a Model Area for Ethnic Unity and Progress in the Tibet Autonomous Region”.

      • [Old] U.S. Airlines Spent 96% of Free Cash Flow on Buybacks

        The biggest U.S. airlines spent 96% of free cash flow last decade on buying back their own shares. American Airlines Group Inc. — which is not shown in the chart but is included in overall figures — led the pack, with negative cumulative free cash flow during the decade while it repurchased more than $12.5 billion of its shares. United Airlines Holdings Inc. used 80% of its free cash flow on buybacks, while the S&P 500 Index as a whole allocated about 50% for the purpose. As the industry reels under the weight of the coronavirus outbreak corporate leaders are seeking federal assistance to ease the burden.

      • [Old] Don’t Feel Sorry for the Airlines

        Instead, American blew most of its cash on a stock buyback spree. From 2014 to 2020, in an attempt to increase its earnings per share, American spent more than $15 billion buying back its own stock. It managed, despite the risk of the proverbial rainy day, to shrink its cash reserves. At the same time it was blowing cash on buybacks, American also began to borrow heavily to finance the purchase of new planes and the retrofitting of old planes to pack in more seats. As early as 2017 analysts warned of a risk of default should the economy deteriorate, but American kept borrowing. It has now accumulated a debt of nearly $30 billion, nearly five times the company’s current market value.

      • [Old] American Airlines spent $12 billion on stock buybacks during flush times. Now it says it needs a bailout

        But it comes after years of airlines stockpiling debt and spending billions to drive up stock prices through buybacks. American Airlines has spent about $12.4 billion on stock repurchases since 2014. Southwest has spent $10.7 billion buying back stock.

        “If there is so much as a DIME of corporate bailout money in the next relief package, it should include a reinstated ban on stock buybacks,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, in a Twitter message.

        In a letter to government leaders and lawmakers this week, American CEO Doug Parker and union leaders said that the airline needs aid “with appropriate conditions.”

        According to reports, Congressional leaders have been discussing $50 billion in government aid entirely made up of zero or low-interest loans.

      • [Old] Trump, Fox News are trying to gin up a new Tea Party to distract you from their deadly failures

        It’s also worth noting (and probably worthy of a separate column) that these billionaires and millionaires have zero moral qualms about working with some of the worst white-supremacists or neo-fascists in order to make sure a crowd turns out, which would explain how swastikas and the like turned up at the DeVos-sponsored protest in Lansing. Here in Pennsylvania, the protest planned for Monday in Harrisburg by a rapidly growing Facebook group called Pennsylvanians Against Excessive Quarantine is led, curiously, by (ahem) a gun activist from (double ahem) Ohio. And just last August, that so-called gun activist, Chris Dorr, was investigated in Ohio after a Facebook rant in which he vowed that, after any effort to restrict the right to bear firearms, “there will be political bodies laying all over the ground … we gun owners will pull the trigger, and leave the corpses for the buzzards.”

        Dorr’s alarming words speak to one of the real risks here — the kind that experts call stochastic terrorism, in which a movement leader’s incitements, such as the president of the United States urging gun activists to “LIBERATE” Virginia, are translated into specific acts of violence by low-level and possible unhinged followers. If it sounds familiar, we’ve already seen it play out from El Paso to Germany, and now the danger in this time of coronavirus is very, very real.

      • Five Things Revealed by Democrats’ Rehabilitation of George W Bush

        For years rank-and-file Democrats have been giving the true Butcher of Baghdad a majority approval rating, running with the common narrative that while Bush perhaps made some “mistakes,” Trump is spectacularly worse. Here are five things that are highlighted by that common perspective: [...]

      • [Old] Google, Facebook spend big on U.S. lobbying amid policy battles

        Alphabet Inc’s Google disclosed in a quarterly filing on Tuesday that it spent a company-record $21.2 million on lobbying the U.S. government in 2018, topping its previous high of $18.22 million in 2012, as the search engine operator fights wide-ranging scrutiny into its practices.

        In its filing to Congress on Tuesday, Facebook Inc disclosed that it also spent more on government lobbying in 2018 than it ever had before at $12.62 million. That was up from $11.51 million a year ago, according to tracking by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

      • DHS memo: ‘Significant’ security risks presented by online voting

        The guidance, which is marked “For Official Use Only” and is not public, cites a theoretical “man-in-the-middle” attack, in which a [cr]acker intercepts and alters data, as one risk to voters who return ballots electronically. Other federal agencies involved in election security — the Election Assistance Commission, the FBI, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology — signed off on the document.

      • Unpublished Guidelines Show The DHS Is Steering States Away From Insecure Internet Voting Options

        The DHS has come out against internet voting. Sort of.

      • Taiwan, India universities jointly develop smart epidemic prevention system

        The smart epidemic prevention system has three main components, including automatic temperature sensing, facial recognition, and contact tracing history. The system was designed using AI technology developed jointly by professors and students in Taiwan and India, according to the ministry’s press release.

      • WeChat Surveillance Explained

        WeChat censors content server-side, meaning that all the rules to perform censorship are on a remote server. When a message is sent from one WeChat user to another, it passes through a server managed by Tencent (WeChat’s parent company) that detects if the message includes blacklisted keywords before a message is sent to the recipient.

        If a message is censored there is no notification given to the user sending or receiving the message. The screenshot below shows a conversation between two China-registered accounts. One user tries to send the keyword “法轮功” (falun gong) and is censored. No notification is given to either user that the message was blocked.

      • Paul Manafort released from prison due to virus concerns

        Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s onetime presidential campaign chairman who was convicted as part of the special counsel’s Russia investigation, has been released from federal prison to serve the rest of his sentence in home confinement due to concerns about the coronavirus, his lawyer said Wednesday.

        Manafort, 71, was released Wednesday morning from FCI Loretto, a low-security prison in Pennsylvania, according to his attorney, Todd Blanche. Manafort had been serving more than seven years in prison following his conviction.

        His lawyers had asked the Bureau of Prisons to release him to home confinement, arguing that he was at high risk for coronavirus because of his age and preexisting medical conditions. Manafort was hospitalized in December with a heart-related condition, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press at the time. They were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

        Manafort was among the first people to be charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, which examined possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election campaign.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Number 10 changes story after saying journalists would be excluded from daily Covid-19 briefing

        A Number Ten spokesperson said this morning that Boris Johnson would avoid questions from journalists today after announcing changes to the Government’s coronavirus strategy.

        Instead, they said, he would only take questions from the public.

        However two hours later, shortly after 1pm, Press Gazette was told by the Number Ten press office that they had given us incorrect information earlier on and that tonight’s Covid-19 briefing will have a mixture of questions from journalists and the public. The briefing will be held at the later than normal time of 7pm.

      • A Mysterious Death In Sweden Shocks Exiled Baluch Activists Across Europe

        But the possible links between Hussain’s death, his years of reporting on the unrest in Balochistan, and his ties to nationalist factions have now frightened exiled Baluch activists in Europe. Many say they no longer feel safe years after fleeing Balochistan.

        Since 2000, international and Pakistani rights watchdogs have documented hundreds of cases of illegal killings and forced disappearances in Balochistan. The region has seen thousands of civilians, soldiers, and guerillas killed in attacks by Baluch separatists, Pakistani forces, and Islamist militants.

      • Death of ‘Baloch Kafka’ in Sweden; body found in Uppsala River

        Husain had escaped Pakistan to save his life from the infamous kill and dump policy of the Pakistan army. He had fearlessly written about enforced disappearances in Balochistan. That, coupled with his expose on drug lynchpin named Imam Bheel, who works for the ISI in Balochistan, forced him to flee Pakistan. Traversing through a couple of countries he finally reached Sweden. He applied for asylum which was granted to him.

        Circumstantial evidence points out that Husain was killed at the behest of the notorious ISI. According to the News International, the attack on the blogger, Ahmad Waqass Goraya, was carried out by two men in Rotterdam, Holland, on February 2– exactly one month before Husain’s disappearance. “I was on the phone when a man appeared and began punching me in the face while I saw another man with him filming the attack,” he told Reporters San Frontiers (RSF). The ISI attackers told Goraya, a fierce critic of the Pakistan army, that they knew exactly where he lived.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Cardinal George Pell and the Victims of Child Sexual Abuse in Victoria.

        In the long and still unfinished search for justice, two agencies have been outstanding. The Victorian Police performed dogged investigatory work, and the Royal Commission over five years compiled damning evidence. On 12 November 2012, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox called for the establishment of a Royal Commission. He was a 30-year veteran in Newcastle, and wrote an open letter to the NSW Premier: “I can testify from my own experience that the church covers-up, silencing victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests.” None of that stops at the Victorian border. “The whole system needs to be exposed; the clergy covering up these crimes must be brought to justice and the network protecting paedophile priests dismantled” (quoted in David Marr, The Prince). Backed by many Labour party backbenchers, and federal centrist politicians, PM Julia Gillard, the country’s first woman leader, moved to establish a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Gillard faced constant misogynist attack from conservative figures, but did not flinch (Tony Abbott was ready to be photographed beside a huge poster, ‘Ditch the Bitch’). It was perhaps her ‘most lasting legacy’ (Louise Milligan, Cardinal). “It will change the nation”, Gillard claimed, as she left office.

      • How Do You Protest When You Can’t Take to the Streets?
      • After Seven Years And A US Supreme Court Victory, Tyson Timbs Is On Step Closer To Finally Getting His Car Back

        Tyson Timbs went all the way to the US Supreme Court to get his forfeited Land Rover returned to him. Represented by the Institute for Justice, Timbs took his case through every level of the Indiana court system before finding relief in the nation’s top court. Seven years after his vehicle was seized during his arrest for heroin dealing, he’s still waiting for the cops to return his car.

      • U.S. Dishonors Navajo with Death Penalty

        Amidst the coronavirus devastation, it’s important not to overlook the fact that, at the end of April, two federal appellate judges called out the U.S. government for continuing to dishonor the Navajo Nation – the second largest Indigenous tribe in America – through its pursuit of the death penalty for Lezmond Mitchell.

      • Cheyenne River Sioux Refuse Governor’s Demand to Remove COVID Checkpoints

        Image Credit: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement

      • COVID-19 Took Chicago Black Lives First and Exposed Structural Racism

        We look at the coronavirus pandemic’s disproportionate toll on African Americans through the story of Chicago’s first 100 recorded deaths. A report by ProPublica found that 70 of the first 100 people to die were African American. Black people account for 30% of Chicago’s population and 72% of COVID-19 deaths. We speak with ProPublica reporter Adriana Gallardo, who contributed to the report “COVID-19 Took Black Lives First. It Didn’t Have To.” She says the story paints a picture of “sophisticated structural racism” in Chicago.

      • Trump Dismisses Chinese American Reporter’s Question Saying, “Ask China!”

        President Donald Trump made a questionable remark on Monday during a press briefing at the White House, telling an Asian American reporter to “ask China” in response to a question she asked.

      • Are we being conditioned to limit our Bill of Rights?

        Are we being conditioned to willingly restrict — in the name of security — the rights guaranteed to us under the Bill of Rights?

        Have we compromised our rights against unreasonable searches, abridging freedom of speech and prohibiting the free exercise of religion or the right of the people peaceably to assemble?

        I recall walking up to an airline counter at JFK Airport many years ago, buying a ticket for a flight, then taking the ticket to the counter at the gate where a ticket agent exchanged it for a boarding pass with a label for my seat assignment. Entering the door to the jetway, you could hug your family or friends goodbye while the ticket agent tore off your boarding pass receipt as you then proceeded down the jetway to the plane — no magnetometer to walk through, no x-ray of your carry-on items, no x-ray of your luggage. No search at all was conducted. Not only could you leave your shoes on, people dressed up for the trip!

      • Ahmaud Arbery’s Mother Wants to Know Why the Person Who Filmed Her Son’s Killing Didn’t Do Anything to Help

        “If he was a good Samaritan, he would have honked his horn,” Merritt said. “It’s worth noting that on the video, he doesn’t even flinch. He doesn’t gasp. Shot after shot. He simply takes it all in.”

      • Black woman shot and killed after Kentucky police entered her home as she slept, family says

        A black woman was asleep in her Louisville, Kentucky, home when three police officers forced their way inside, “blindly fired” and killed her, according to a lawsuit filed by the woman’s family.

        Breonna Taylor, an EMT worker, died on March 13 after officers with the Louisville Metro Police Department executed a search warrant at the wrong home, the suit states.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • ISPs Finally Lifted Data Caps. It Only Took A Global Pandemic

        During the catastrophic 2018 wildfires in California, Verizon made a painful and memorable gaffe: It throttled the Santa Clara Fire Department’s supposedly “unlimited” broadband data, causing the department to have to pay twice as much as usual to restore internet speeds that allowed it to deploy critical wildfire response.

      • House Democrats want $5.5 billion for pandemic broadband funding

        The over 1,800-page HEROES Act would bolster the health care system and the economy with $3 trillion in additional funding, with around $5.5 billion of that going toward closing the digital divide at least until the pandemic is over. If approved, the bill would “immediately” provide $1.5 billion through the Federal Communication Commission’s E-Rate Program for schools and libraries to purchase hot spots and “connected devices” to help facilitate distance learning throughout the length of the emergency.

        Additionally, the stimulus would create a pool of $4 billion to provide up to $50-a-month subsidies to low-income families or laid-off and furloughed workers in order to help pay their internet service bills throughout the end of the pandemic.

      • [Old] Only in the USA: ISPs get tax dollars to build weak broadband

        In rankings of the world’s fastest internet speeds, the United States lags badly, coming in 20th for average speed and 22nd for average peak connection speed. Bruce Kushnick, author of “The Book of Broken Promises,” denounces the continuing transfer of taxpayer money to telecom giants that have repeatedly reneged on promises to build out and update infrastructure.

        The United States has “paid over and over and over again for upgrades that were never done, including the wiring of schools. We collectively paid about $400 billion to have the phone networks upgraded to fiber optics, and the cablecos’ collected over $50 billion extra since 2000 under something called the ‘Social Contract,’ which was supposed to wire the schools,” Kushnick writes.

      • Working Together While Apart

        The RIPE NCC has been working remotely since mid-March. In this article we take a look at how we are maintaining our operations as we adapt to a world that has changed completely.

        On 18 March 2020, our staff in Amsterdam left the familiar surrounds of the office and began life working remotely, followed shortly afterwards by our Dubai office. By now, this is not news – just change the date, city and company name and this basic story would probably apply to most of you reading this article. Many of us are in the same boat, adapting to a new situation while trying to maintain or even improve the services we offer. And the services we offer are now more essential than ever, at a time when staying connected over the Internet is widely recognised as being important to people’s well-being.

        In this article, we wanted to give you a look into how the RIPE NCC is managing its work and adapting, and especially some of the changes we’ve had to take make to continue dealing with all the old challenges in addition to some new ones.

    • Monopolies

      • Facebook will pay $52 million in settlement with moderators who developed PTSD on the job

        n a landmark acknowledgment of the toll that content moderation takes on its workforce, Facebook has agreed to pay $52 million to current and former moderators to compensate them for mental health issues developed on the job. In a preliminary settlement filed on Friday in San Mateo Superior Court, the social network agreed to pay damages to American moderators and provide more counseling to them while they work.

        Each moderator will receive a minimum of $1,000 and will be eligible for additional compensation if they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or related conditions. The settlement covers 11,250 moderators, and lawyers in the case believe that as many as half of them may be eligible for extra pay related to mental health issues associated with their time working for Facebook, including depression and addiction.

      • Twitter will flag tweets that contradict public health officials on coronavirus

        In a blog post, Twitter’s head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, and director of public policy strategy, Nick Pickles, said that depending on the severity of the erroneous information, tweets will be accompanied by a link encouraging readers to “Get the facts about COVID-19.” More obvious examples of wrong information will be hidden entirely behind a note saying “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet conflicts with guidance from public health experts regarding COVID-19.”

      • Uber uses Zoom to layoff about 3,700 as coronavirus pandemic puts brakes on business

        In the leaked video, Ruffin Chevaleau, the head of Uber’s Phoenix Center of Excellence in Scottsdale, Arizona, is seen telling viewers that Uber’s business is down by more than half. “With trip volume down, the difficult and unfortunate reality is there is not enough work for many front-line customer support employees,” she said. “As a result we are eliminating 3,500 front-line customer support roles. Your role is impacted and today will be your last working day with Uber.”

        Viewers would remain on payroll until a date in their severance package, she said. Overall, the 3,700 employees worked in 46 countries; with offices closed due to the pandemic, the decision was made to notify employees via Zoom.

      • Twitter to label disputed Covid-19 tweets

        The new rule is the latest in a wave of stricter policies that tech companies are rolling out to confront an outbreak of virus-related misinformation on their sites. Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, have already put similar systems in place.

        The announcement signals that Twitter is taking its role in amplifying misinformation more seriously. But how the platform enforces its new policy will be the real test, with company leaders already tamping down expectations.

      • Facebook Apologizes for Role in Sri Lankan Violence

        Facebook’s poor track record on human rights in international markets has been a black mark on the company for years. As it expanded rapidly, it staffed local operations in far-off countries with skeleton crews or not at all, making it unresponsive to the specific forms of local manipulation, according to the reports. Facebook’s decision to design algorithms that encourage more engagement also made it vulnerable to disinformation and incitement to violence. Human rights advocates have pushed the company to release assessments like the ones it shared Tuesday.

      • Remdesivir Part I: Incentivizing Antiviral Innovation

        The antiviral drug remdesivir, developed by California-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences in collaboration with government scientists, has emerged as the new standard of care for COVID-19 patients. The drug has also been beset by controversy, from Gilead’s withdrawn orphan drug application to conflicting reports of clinical trial results to an opaque and haphazard distribution process. We examine the role of legal institutions in the remdesivir rollout in two posts focused on the two (separable) parts of innovation policy. This week focuses on the innovation incentives for producing information about remdesivir and other COVID-19 treatments, including the FDA’s role in deciding whether and under what conditions a new drug can reach the market. Next week we will turn to pharmaceutical allocation mechanisms, including payment and distribution.

      • Trademarks

        • Say It With Me Now, Australia: Beer And Wine Are Not The Same Thing, Not Even For Trademarks

          While I’ve done a fair share of posts here on the topic of trademarks and the alcohol industries, one of the most frustrating sub-types for those posts is the sort where the dispute exists between one wine maker and one brewery. There appears to be some misconception that alcohol is one big market or industry for the purposes of trademark. While it is true that far too few countries explicitly recognize that wine and beer are different markets in their trademark laws, most of the countries do still have customer confusion as a key test for infringement. And, I feel it’s safe to say, the general public can tell the difference between beer and wine, and typically know enough about each’s crafters to tell their branding apart.

        • Goats on the Roof at the Supreme Court

          Todd Bank’s effort to save the dignity of goats has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. The respondent in the case is Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant — a Door County Wisconsin mainstay. “Al Johnson’s is an authentic Swedish family owned restaurant where you can find goats grazing the sod roof.”

          Al Johnson’s registered trade dress “consists of goats on a roof of grass.” When Bank petitioned the USPTO to cancel the mark, the TTAB refused — holding that Bank did not have standing to file the petition. On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed. Unlike the no-injury-required approach an AIA-review petitioner on the patent-side, the trademark law requires that a cancellation petitioner “believe[] that he is or will be damaged” by the mark’s registration. Here, Bank was not particularly injured, although he does claim to be disparaged by the mark…

      • Copyrights

        • ‘Viral’ Pirate Site Nites.tv is Back From the Dead Following ACE Seizure

          After rocketing into the mainstream, highly-polished pirate streaming site Nites.tv went offline in April after its domain was taken over by the MPA and the Alliance For Creativity and Entertainment. Now, however, the site appears to be back under a new domain, raising questions over who is responsible for this almost identical resurrection.

        • ‘Come Over’ Lets You Stream Videos Together with Friends Through BitTorrent

          Enjoying a video with friends can be a challenge in the midst of a pandemic. However, with the torrent-powered service “Come Over,” anyone can turn a web browser into a streaming platform. Just select a video, share the URL with friends, and enjoy it together with the option to chat as well. Totally free and without any technical skill required.

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    Microsoft Windows, with NSA back doors, continues to take hospitals offline (with records copied by criminals if not stolen by effectively locking the originals out of reach for ransom money); but guess who’s being punished for it…

  14. They Came, They Saw, We Died...

    It cannot be overstated that we're under attack (or a "Jihad" against Linux as Bill Gates himself put it) and failing to act upon it will be costly as time may be running out and our groups are being 'bought off' by Microsoft in rapid succession, as per the plan/strategy

  15. The GitHub Takeover Was an Extension of Microsoft's War on GPL/Copyleft (Because Sharing Code to Anyone But Microsoft is 'Piracy')

    Licences that make it easier for Microsoft to 'steal' (or a lot harder for Free software to compete against proprietary software) are still being promoted by Microsoft; its GitHub tentacles (see GitHub's logo) further contribute to this agenda

  16. ZDNet is Totally a Microsoft Propaganda Machine

    The site ZDNet has become worse than useless; it lies, defames and launders the reputation of famous criminals (that's the business model these days)

  17. When Microsoft's Mask Falls (or When Times Are Rough)

    Microsoft loves Linux in the same sense that cats love mice (they might play with them until they get hungry)

  18. Careers in Free Software Aren't Careers in the Traditional Sense

    With historic unemployment rates and people 'stranded' inside their homes there's still demand and need for technology; these times of adaptation present an opportunity for Software Freedom

  19. Embrace, Extend, Extinguish 2020 Edition

    Embrace, Extend, Extinguish (E.E.E.) is alive and well, but the corrupt (paid by Microsoft) media isn't talking about it anymore; in fact, it actively cheers and encourages people/companies to enter the trap

  20. Links 26/5/2020: SHIFT13mi GNU/Linux Tablet, Linux Kodachi 7.0 and Some Qt Releases

    Links for the day

  21. EPO Propaganda on Steroids (or on EPO)

    What EPO management is saying and what is actually happening

  22. Breton (EU) 'Joins' Team UPC to Help His Buddy Battistelli... Again

    As expected, Breton acts as little but an EPO tool, looking to prop up supremacy of patent litigation over science and innovation

  23. Removing Free/Libre Software as an Inadequate Response to Microsoft Windows (With Back Doors) Getting Compromised, Killing People

    GNU/Linux takes the blame (in a sense) for incidents that are purely the fault of Microsoft and its deficient software with deliberate back doors; it's believed that this boils down to opportunistic retaliation against those looking for a solution to the problem (or merely speaking about the problem)

  24. IRC Proceedings: Monday, May 25, 2020

    IRC logs for Monday, May 25, 2020

  25. Under Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Lately, But We're Too Robust For Those

    Efforts to take Techrights offline have been ramped up lately; but it's not working and it hardly even distracts us from publishing

  26. The Art of Giving: Why Free Software Will Inevitably Survive Attacks Against It

    Societies that share and look after their peers/neighbours will always be better off than predatory societies, which breed exploitation, distrust, discord and eventually systemic collapse

  27. 'Journalism' in 2020: Far More Articles About What Computer Linus Torvalds Bought Than About Linux Releases

    Yesterday's (or late Sunday's) Linux announcement (RC7) is symptomatic of a broader issue we've long spoken about; it restricts people's ability to express an opinion, which can cloud any meritorious and substantial debate about technical matters journalists cannot grasp or comment on (it takes more effort and research)

  28. Links 25/5/2020: Wrapland Redone, DebConf20 Plans, Many More Games

    Links for the day

  29. Media Covers WSL Like People Actually Use This Trash (a Failed Distro Which Only Works With Windows)

    Lots of abundantly redundant puff pieces have appeared in paid-for (by Microsoft) media this past week covering WSL/2, but that's grossly disproportional to the people who care and actually use those types of things (because money talks, not technical substance)

  30. Working From Home on Patent Monopolies Would Lower Their Quality and Perceived Legitimacy

    The patent system wherein people grant monopolies from their sofas and bedrooms isn't helping the already-eroded perception/image of patent offices that mostly grant patents to massive multinationals (and far too many patents overall)

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