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05.15.20

Links 5/5/2020: BackBox Linux 7, MauiKit 1.1.0

Posted in News Roundup at 10:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Comic: Most Heroic Linux Process

      The Lunduke Journal is made possible, in part, through the support of Linode.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • This is the world’s slowest laptop, yet people can’t wait to buy it

        PC enthusiasts have flocked to crowdfunding platform Crowdsupply to back an ongoing campaign for a unique new laptop: the MNT Reform.

        In a nutshell, the device promises to be open, customizable, hackable and entirely transparent. It’s also the only notebook in existence that complies in full with the standards of the Open Source Hardware Association.

        At the time of writing, 108 backers have committed more than $124,600 – well over the initial goal of $115,000 and with 35 days left in the campaign.

      • People are lining up to buy the world’s slowest laptop; wait, what?

        In the world of technology, slower and inefficient machines and their high sales can be termed an oxymoron but for a new ‘MNT reform’, the pair of opposites seem to be working quite well.

        In a nutshell, the device promises to be completely transparent, open, customizable, hackable and it is also the only existing notebook that fully complies with Open Source Hardware Association standards. Until now, 108 supporters have committed to contribute a whopping sum of more than $124,600 which is well above the target $115,000 and with 35 days remaining in the campaign.

    • Kernel Space

      • Intel SGX Linux Patches Posted For Their 30th Round Of Review

        Weeks ahead of the Linux 5.8 kernel cycle kicking off it’s still not clear if the Intel SGX foundation patches will be ready for merging, but they were sent out today as version 30 of this long-running effort for supporting the Intel enclaves functionality on the mainline kernel.

        The Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX) enablement for Linux has been going on for years with different patch series. This work on the Secure Guard Extensions subsystem for the Linux kernel is about providing hardware-protected, encrypted memory regions with SGX enclaves. Intel SGX with Memory Encryption Engines (MEE) have been supported since Skylake CPUs on the hardware side.

      • Linux 5.8′s Multi-Queue Block Code Plumbed To Support Inline Encryption

        For a number of months now various Google engineers have been working on inline encryption support for FSCRYPT in order to offer better encryption performance on modern SoCs. That FSCRYPT side work is coming together and now also queued up for Linux 5.8 is plumbing inline encryption into blk-mq.

        The multi-queue block code (blk-mq) now has support for inline encryption in being able to communicate the encryption context down the stack.

      • Linux Driver Prepared For The Qualcomm Cloud AI 100 Accelerator

        Announced over one year ago was the Qualcomm Cloud AI 100 Accelerator as designed for offering superior AI inference performance in the cloud. Since then not much has been heard of this accelerator but their engineers did publish a Linux driver on Thursday.

        At least as of April 2019, Qualcomm believed their Cloud AI 100 offering could deliver 10x the perf-per-Watt of other inference solutions and would support PyTorch, TensorFlow, Keras, ONNX, and all the other popular deep learning solutions.

    • Applications

      • Linux at Home: Reduce and prevent repetitive strain injury

        In this series, we look at a range of home activities where Linux can make the most of our time at home, keeping active and engaged. The change of lifestyle enforced by Covid-19 is an opportunity to expand our horizons, and spend more time on activities we have neglected in the past.

        Given that we are told its our “civic duty” to avoid public transport, working at home is going to remain commonplace for a long time. Employers have a duty to assess the health and safety risks faced by their workers. An employer must systematically check for possible physical, mental, chemical and biological hazards. This inevitability entails a risk assessment. Part of this risk assessment involves ensuring that workers are protected from repetitive strain injuries (RSI).

        It’s much harder for an employer to conduct a proper risk assessment in an employee’s home. They can issue guidelines, best practice, and advice. But ultimately the employee needs to ensure they don’t injure themselves when working from home. Home workers face a lot of challenges. Prolonged user of computer equipment can result in upper limb disorders, notably in the wrist or the back. RSIs are a subset of musculoskeletal disorders. It’s easy for home workers to forget to take breaks.

        Fortunately, there’s excellent open source software that help to combat RSI. Here’s our recommendations.

      • Going above and beyond with Inkscape 1.0, interview with developers

        After almost 17 years in the making, Inkscape 1.0 is out. Let’s be fair: this is one of those cases when the humble version number doesn’t nearly represent what’s actually in the box. The software was perfectly usable right at the point of forking from Sodipodi back in 2003, I’m speaking as the eyewitness here. The v1.0 release should’ve happened years ago but the team took a very conservative approach.

        Personally, I stopped using Inkscape 0.92.x and switched to what later became v1.0 a year ago or so. So far, it’s been a good run. I still have personal beefs with some UI solutions but I realize it’s partially due to using a toolkit that is OK for generic desktop applications and not exactly stellar for specialized software.

        My personal impression, if you are interested, is that the current team is highly motivated to push this project in the direction of making it a better tool for illustrators. But user impressions are one thing and what developers actually do think is often a whole different thing. So this is an interview time.

        I guess there’s just one disclaimer left to tell. Answers to my questions arrived after final GSoC slots had been announced, so at least one of the questions might not make as much sense to you as you’d probably expect to. Oh, and all the illustrations below are close-up parts of the about screen for Inkscape 1.0, made by Bayu Rizaldhan Rayes.

        First of all, congratulations! This is a huge milestone. As a large project with a massive user base, I bet that you often feel overwhelmed because people expect so much of you. Some want Inkscape to become an animation tool, others want more CAD features (with constraints, no less), and the list goes on. But Inkscape started out with a mission to become THE editor of SVG files. I mean, even the version numbering scheme used to reflect the coverage of the W3C specification, like v0.50 for 50% coverage etc. (this never happened, I think). Now, the homepage doesn’t even mention the word “SVG”. So how do you actually market Inkscape these days?

        Bryce Harrington: After we’d released a few versions of Inkscape, one of our users posted a drawing of a glowingly photorealistic car — it’s the one you’ve probably seen on the Wikipedia page for Inkscape. Seeing how our users were employing Inkscape made many of us realize the scope for Inkscape was incredibly broad.

        Along with that, users appeared who hadn’t heard of SVG prior to Inkscape. SVG was just a file format, one of several possible ones they cared about. These users viewed Inkscape not as an “SVG editor” but something that solved even more general drawing needs.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Make your own planet pet in Planetfriend, now on Linux

        Planetfriend is a peculiar game, built by Laura Michet and Brendon Chung during the first few months of the COVID-19 quarantine. It just recently gained a Linux version too, thanks to porter Ethan Lee.

        Planetfriend is a desktop planet pet made by Laura Michet and Brendon Chung. We built it on the weekends over the first two months of Covid-19 quarantine. Let your pet planet grow over time, or intervene to push its development into strange directions more quickly.

      • Dwellers of the Gut has you rescue the townsfolk inside a giant

        Just like with Planetfriend, we’re continuing to highlight a few smaller experimental and outright weird games and another recent discovery is Dwellers of the Gut.

        The idea is that your townsfolk have been swallowed up by a giant, so what else can you do but jump down their throat and attempt to find them? Once you save them, they become available in the Hub area for a chat. It’s got a pretty outrageous style, one I can’t help but laugh at.

      • 2D dig ‘em up puzzler ‘Something Ate My Alien’ releasing June 18

        Platforming, puzzles and plenty of digging is what’s in store for you in Something Ate My Alien, and plenty of weird creatures too. Rokabium Games recently announced that it’s now going to be releasing on June 18, after a few delays.

        You take on the role of an AI named Antalasia, who controls a bunch of little Alien blobs to dig through different worlds in an attempt to pay off a pirate who hijacked your ship. During the adventure on each planet you have to battle environmental dangers, fight off wildlife, and solve secret puzzle chambers; all while surviving on a depleting oxygen supply and a threat far scarier than the local wildlife.

      • Deformed Doom lets you warp and distort classic Doom maps

        Ever wanted to play through any of the classic Doom games in something like GZDoom but have everything slightly different? Deformed Doom will let you warp levels in interesting ways.

        This time you’re stretching-out, swirling around and warping all you existing levels to make them feel either a little new or entirely different. The developer, Sunbeam, simply mentioned to us that it’s “ideal for any player who wants to experience their favourite maps in a new light”.

      • Poly Bridge 2 arrives on May 28 with fun Twitch integration

        Poly Bridge 2 is the next-generation of bridge-building puzzle sims, expanding on the original in plenty of new and interesting ways. It’s been announced as ready for release on May 28, with Linux support.

        Developer Dry Cactus managed to sell around 3 million copies of the first game, and now they’re back to twist our brains around some more. Poly Bridge 2 introduces new levels, new mechanics, a custom physics engine, workshop campaigns and much more.

      • Amusing building sim Two Point Hospital gets a big update and discount

        Two Point Hospital continues building up more content with ipdate 1.20 – R.E.M.I.X V2 out now and there’s quite a big discount going on it. What’s basically Theme Hospital 2 under a different name, it’s a lot of fun to play through and see all the crazy illnesses you have to cure.

        With this fresh update they’ve added in remixed versions of the Mitton University, Tumble and Flemington levels. Each level is redone to provide more challenging, shorter, and punchier ways that retain the original level theme and identity and pull in other illnesses from other parts of the region the level is in to make it even more diverse. So you get extra free content, and they don’t take too long to finish if you’re short on time.

      • A 100$ Quest to Build a Linux Gaming PC

        Back in December 2019, I was going to be away from home for the holidays. What can a man do for a week without their gaming PC? Read a book? Binge watch Netflix? Nah. That’s too little involvement.

        How about a little challenge: could I build a (Linux) Gaming PC for less than 100 USD? Of course, with this kind of costs contraints, I was not going to build it from new shiny parts. Used parts only. Still, it made me think of how “cheap” I could go and still be able to play recent PC games nonetheless.

        When looking for hardware, most reviews out there are about the highest frame rates you can get with the newest and most expensive cards out there. I find it even more interesting to look at how capable the very low end of the Gaming PC spectrum is: this is where the largest market should be, as used hardware get recycled many times from one user to the next.

        And the result?

        Success!

      • Fighting game Skullgirls should now have much better online play

        Skullgirls might be multiple years old now and Lab Zero Games have since released Indivisible but they’re clearly not done improving Skullgirls. As one of the best fighting games available on PC, that’s great news!

        After being in Beta for a while which we covered recently, Skullgirls just pulled in a huge overhaul to the netplay which should make fighting others online a much smoother experience overall. This includes better quality gameplay when playing people farther away, the rollback system was fixed so founds don’t get messed up and Lobbies and Quick Match also now have ping values (as well as Jitter) that actually update.

      • Skullgirls Is Still Getting Updates 8 Years Later

        Yup, you heard that right. Yesterday Mike Zaimont announced a pretty big under-the-hood update for Skullgirls. Among the many improvements, the netplay code (powered by GGPO) has received a huge amount of optimization for less stutter and less lag. Sound that was cut off or otherwise repeated during rollbacks is no longer a thing. Playing against others from far away should now be possible with less hiccups.

      • Asymmetrical multiplayer game OBEY pits tiny rabbits against a huge weapon

        You’ve probably played multiplayer games with different team sizes before but probably nothing like OBEY. Released out of Early Access just this week, it’s a pretty amusing idea.

        All players control a tiny little rabbit, and you’re all trying to earn the most money by doing different things around the map. However, one of you can also control a massive weapon, and anyone can attempt to run in and kick the other player out of it. It’s all about being king of the hill, sort of anyway. Everyone sets up traps to try to take down other players, while also trying to make the most money and possibly control the almighty weapon to shoot other players.

      • Play Next is live on Steam to remind you of all your unplayed games

        After a short Beta period we wrote about previously, the Play Next feature is now live on Steam to remind you of your vast game library you’ve not touched.

        We’ve all been there. Not knowing what to play from 100s of games and when you build up quite a backlog it’s also easy to forget about games you actually own. This is the point of Play Next. Originally a Steam Labs experiment, then entering the Steam Client in a recent Beta and now it’s out for everyone in a stable release.

      • Dungeons 3 is getting a ‘Complete Collection’ in June

        Dungeons 3, the delightfully evil strategy game from Realmforge Studios and Kalypso Media is finally complete. After repeatedly saying they were done, then doing a new DLC and repeat they finally decided they were actually finished with it.

        Now they’ve announced the Dungeons 3 – Complete Collection, which will go live on June 26. This will give players a simple way to get the entire thing with all seven expansions: Once Upon a Time, Evil of the Caribbean, Lord of the Kings, Clash of Gods, An Unexpected DLC, Famous Last Words and A Multitude of Maps. So you will be able to build the dungeon of your evil dreams with all the content.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • MauiKit 1.1.0 Release

          Today, we are pleased to announce the launch of MauiKit and Maui Apps 1.1.0!.

          Are you a developer and want to start developing cross-platform and convergent apps, targeting, among other things, the upcoming Linux Mobile devices? Then join us on Telegram: https://t.me/mauiproject. If you are interested in testing this project and helping out with translations or documentation, you are also more than welcome.

          The Maui Project is free software from the KDE Community developed by the Nitrux team. This post contains some code snippets to give you an idea of how to use MauiKit. For more detailed documentation, get in touch with us or subscribe to the news feed to keep up to date with the upcoming tutorial.

        • Let’s get started! – GSoC 2020 with KDE and EteSync [Part 1]

          Akonadi is the backend framework providing APIs for storage and retrieval of the user’s personal info such as contacts, email and calendar. These APIs are used by applications like Kontact, Kmail, KAddressBook and other apps in the KDE PIM suite. Akonadi also allows one to sync this data via a number of services like Google, Microsoft Exchange, DAV servers and many others.

          My project is to add to this list a secure, end-to-end encrypted, FLOSS sync solution for contacts, calendars and tasks, called EteSync. EteSync clients are available for Android, iOS, the desktop (Cal/CardDAV bridge) and the web, and a Thunderbird plugin is in the works. The server too is open-source and can be self-hosted. As mentioned, EteSync utilizes end-to-end encryption, hence giving users the benefit of truly owning their data and respecting their privacy.

        • GSoC’20 Community Bonding Period

          As currently, the GSoC community bonding period is going on. I have interacted with my mentors about the design of the datasets which I am going to implement for the memory activities. As I am going to implement multiple datasets to about 11 activities so I have created a separate task on the phabricator for each of them. I have also finalized the description of the multiple datasets of few activities as Enumeration memory game Activity, Addition memory game activity, Subtraction memory game activity, and the Multiplication memory game activity. The main goal of all the memory game activities is to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. To make the Enumeration memory game more rich I also planned to add configurations to choose between different quantity representations as choose between dots, numbers, dices, etc.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • BackBox Linux 7 released!

          The BackBox Team, ten years after its first release, is happy to announce the new major release of BackBox Linux, version 7.

          As usual, this major release includes many updates. These include new kernel, updated tools and some structural changes with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • SUSE: The time for major tech change is now



          The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing technology. Remember when remote work was a radical idea? Not so much anymore. But Linux and cloud power SUSE. CEO Melissa Di Donato said in a recent survey of global IT leaders it was already deprioritizing the “legacy of complex applications, infrastructure, and processes.”

          Where are we going? To an outcome-focused IT approach relying on software-defined infrastructure, the hybrid cloud, and edge computing as fast as we can. And how fast is that? Within the next two years, according to 2,000 IT leaders and application developers who told SUSE and Insight Avenue.

        • How Data Defined SUSE’s Refreshed Brand

          A brand is more than a logo. For SUSE, our brand extends to great lengths. It’s customer care during the sales process, it’s on-site consultations, it’s the music video parodies, it’s our open source community, and much more. This is why a thorough, objective process was needed to evaluate our history, our superpowers, our competitors, and our future. And after months of testing, our new chameleon is ready to usher SUSE’s new brand experience to the world.

          For many, the creative process is largely an emotionally-driven one, where preferences and opinions compete for decision making. At SUSE, we’re committed to data-driven decisions that eliminate potential subjective biases in the creative process. This is why we approached our brand refresh with a team of neuroscientists. By combining creativity with science, we’re able to hypothesize and test our artistic assumptions to understand if the resulting designs match the intended purpose. Watch our behind-the-scenes video to get a closer look at the process and hear from the lead scientist on the project.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • The pieces of Fedora Silverblue



          Fedora Silverblue provides a useful workstation build on an immutable operating system. In “What is Silverblue?“, you learned about the benefits that an immutable OS provides. But what pieces go into making it? This article examines some of the technology that powers Silverblue.

          Spend some time exploring Fedora Silverblue and it will become clear how these components fit together. Like other Fedora variants, all these of tools come from open source projects. You can get as up close and personal as you want, from reading their docs to contributing code. Or you can contribute to Silverblue itself.

        • Fork Available as Red Hat Ends Life of CoreOS Container Linux

          A German company pitches a “friendly fork” as a drop-in replacement for the cloud native operating system whose end of life comes in less than two weeks.

        • Open source is the foundation of digital transformation

          Bitkom’s research report “Open Source Monitor 2019,” sponsored by Red Hat, provides robust figures for the importance of open source. It helps to illustrate that open source is the foundation of new technologies, which drive digital transformation.

          804 German companies with at least 100 employees among various industries were surveyed, including companies in the automotive, banking, insurance, commerce, IT, telecommunication, transport, and logistics industries. One of the positive results of the Bitkom study is that, at
          4 percent, only a tiny minority of respondents are skeptical of open source. Three quarters of surveyed companies are “interested and open-minded.” However, these figures still fail to correspond adequately with the “strategic incorporation of the topic in corporate practices” and with usage.

          Only every fifth company has a company wide open source strategy, whereas at least 69 percent of those surveyed use open source software.

          The surveyed companies use open source software in a wide variety of areas. The study also reports that the use of open source plays a vital role in new technologies and critical components of digital transformation, in areas such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence or big data and analytics.

        • Amazon Red Hat OpenShift announced for public cloud Kubernetes users

          Red Hat and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have long worked closely together. Now, with the release of Amazon Red Hat OpenShift, it’s become easier than ever to run Red Hat’s popular Kubernetes distribution on AWS.

          Amazon Red Hat OpenShift will be a jointly managed and jointly supported AWS enterprise Kubernetes service. This builds on Red Hat bringing OpenShift into AWS in 2017.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Why diagrams are critical to your open source project documentation



        If you’ve ever visited a project on GitHub (for instance) with the intention of understanding how it fits into a larger system, you’ll recognise the sigh of relief you experience when you find a diagram or two on (or easily reached from) the initial landing page. This is an article about the importance of architecture and specifically about the importance of diagrams.

        I’m a strong open source advocate, but source code isn’t enough to make a successful project, or even, I would add, to be a truly open source project: Your documentation should not just be available to everybody, but accessible to everyone. If you want to get people involved, providing a way in is vital.

      • Google Meet, GoToMeeting, and other Zoom alternatives in video conferencing apps

        Jitsi Meet is a free, open source, and fully encrypted video conferencing solution. You can host and join meetings even without an account. It offers unlimited meeting minutes, participants, and conferences. Jitsi Meet can also be added to Slack channels.

        It has high quality audio and video along with live chat and screen sharing features. You can install the Jitsi Chrome extension to log in to meetings from a browser too.

      • SaaS/Back End/Databases

        • OpenStack Ussuri Enhances Open Source Cloud Platform

          The latest release of the open source cloud platform improves life cycle management features to help cloud operators as they update hardware and transition workloads.

        • Let’s slip into something a bit more relational: SQL database crowd strikes back with brace of cloudy releases

          MariaDB, which counts Deutsche Bank, Nasdaq and telecoms giant Verizon among its users, has launched a DBaaS rendition of its relational database, adding options to configure and customise it.

          Amid a flurry of NoSQL releases earlier in the week, the relational world also got a fillip from the release of CockroachDB which promises to make cloud development, deployment, and management quicker and faster.

          While they might be a sign of a maturing market for open-source relational databases, the two releases solve different user problems.

          MariaDB launched its first full DBaaS in SkySQL Power this week, building on the March release of Kubernetes for container services to provide the same database build whatever the cloud provider.

      • FSF

        • Licensing/Legal

          • Pi-hole, ad blocking under EUPL

            Pi-hole, available under the European Union Public Licence (EUPL) is a very popular ad blocker that works on Linux servers independently of web browsers. It blocks advertising across the network by redirecting the servers from which the advertising or other unwanted content comes, at the DNS level. Because Pi-hole is DNS-based, it can also serve as a private DNS server. Pi-hole requires minimal resources and can easily run on small computers like the Raspberry Pi. It can also be installed on other Linux systems or operated as a Docker container.

      • Programming/Development

        • Git v2.27.0-rc0
          An early preview release Git v2.27.0-rc0 is now available for
          testing at the usual places.  It is comprised of 479 non-merge
          commits since v2.26.0, contributed by 53 people, 16 of which are
          new faces.
          
        • Git 2.27-rc0 Released – Still Working To Transition From SHA1 To SHA256

          Git 2.27-rc0 was released on Thursday as the first test release towards the next update on this leading version control system.

          With Git 2.27 development the transition continues in preparing the code-base in migrating from SHA1 to SHA256 hashes. Git for a number of releases has been working to move from SHA1 to SHA256 given the possibility of collisions for the former and thus potentially compromising security. Git 2.27-rc0 has seen more SHA256 preparations but isn’t yet over (or near) the finish line.

        • Help medical research with folding@home
        • Perl/Raku

          • CY’s unfinished Post on PWC#060: Numbers with Headache

            This is a part of Perl Weekly Challenge(PWC) #060 and the followings are related to my solution. If you want to challenge yourself on Perl, go to https://perlweeklychallenge.org, code the latest challenges, submit codes on-time (by GitHub or email) if possible, before reading my blog post

          • Paging for Fun and Profit

            Egad have been away for a while, it is not due to laziness on my part, I really have been stuck on a Paws problem over the past month+, add to that dozens of inside and out sided projects that I need to get done around the house time has just not been there. At least I have finally cracked it.

            I really went down a rabbit hole for this one and spend way too many hours trying to figure out how to test ‘Paws Pagination’ end to end.

            In my last post I started out with a new test suite ’30_pagination.t’ and a few test YAMLs. Just getting the YAML just right to God only knows how many iterations. I also had to create a completely new caller ‘TestPaginationCaller.pm’ to get the tests to work.

            So here is the 25c story on how it works. I start with the normal two YAML files, one for content and one for tests. The differace is that I have both the ‘request’ and ‘response’ content and tests in each.

        • Python

          • What is duck typing in Python?

            Python follows the EAFP (Easier to Ask Forgiveness than Permission) rather than the LBYL (Look Before You Leap) philosophy. The Python philosophy of EAFP is somewhat linked to its “duck typing” style of coding.

            When a programmer creates data in code, whether it’s a constant or a variable, some programming languages need to know what “type” of data it is. For example, if you set a variable to 13, a computer doesn’t know whether you mean for it to be used as a word (“thirteen”) or as an integer (as in 13+12=25 or 13-1=12). This is why many languages require programmers to declare data before it’s used.

          • Python 3: Process Command Line Arguments with argparse

            Python 3 provides a handy module, argparse, that makes it easy to get and parse command line arguments passed to your script.

            If you ever found argument parsing to be a tedious extra, then argparse might be just what you were looking for to simplify the process and focus on your code.

        • Rust

          • Five Years of Rust

            With all that’s going on in the world you’d be forgiven for forgetting that as of today, it has been five years since we released 1.0 in 2015! Rust has changed a lot these past five years, so we wanted reflect back on all of our contributors’ work since the stabilization of the language.

            Rust is a general purpose programming language empowering everyone to build reliable and efficient software. Rust can be built to run anywhere in the stack, whether as the kernel for your operating system or your next web app. It is built entirely by an open and diverse community of individuals, primarily volunteers who generously donate their time and expertise to help make Rust what it is.

          • Five years of Rust

            It seems that the Rust programming language has only been around for five years.

  • Leftovers

    • When the Truth is a Lie, an Image is an Ethical Selfie – Censored Notebook

      President Trump’s use of props to advance an inaccurate narrative creates a dilemma for media that once was just worst-case theory

    • Pornography is booming during the covid-19 lockdowns

      Despite such efforts by established producers, lockdowns are encouraging efforts by freelancers and smaller firms, too. Actors increasingly cut producers out of the loop by filming themselves on smartphones and uploading the homemade footage, which they own, to newish websites that host “adult” social media. On these so-called premium sites, fans aged 18 and older pay subscriptions to watch performers. The sites take a cut of transactions (20% or so is typical). But other than that, the system removes middlemen.

  • Education

    • I Criticized My University’s Ties to the Chinese Government. Now I Face Expulsion.

      Sadly, the experience of critics like myself in Australia, a country far more reliant on Chinese economic ties than Europe or the United States, shows that decoupling will not be an easy task. After being an outspoken campus critic of Chinese state human rights abuses, I now face expulsion from the University of Queensland (UQ), where I am a fourth-year philosophy student, on the grounds that I “prejudiced” the university’s reputation by using my position as an elected student representative to express support for Hong Kong’s democratic protesters.

      I am being threatened with this unprecedented move because of UQ’s particularly close relationship with the Chinese party-state; UQ enjoys perhaps the closest relationship of any university with the Chinese government in the Anglosphere. In addition to funding and controlling a Confucius Institute on campus, the Chinese government funds at least four accredited UQ courses that present a party-approved version of Chinese history to students, glossing over human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, and mainland China.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • A Quarter of the Residents at This Nursing Home Died From COVID-19. Families Want Answers.

      Standing outside a window at the Bria of Geneva nursing home one morning last week, 2-year-old Rosa Morrow tried to get her grandmother’s attention. She held her palm to the screen. She blew kisses. She counted slowly, “1 … 2 … 3 …”

      On the other side, 71-year-old Claudette Stasik, who has tested positive for COVID-19, sat in her reclining wheelchair, her eyes closed and her arms crossed against her chest, her gray hair braided to one side. A nurse, wearing gloves, gently rubbed her hand.

    • Government Watchdog Sounds Alarm Over Appointment of Former Pharma Executive to Trump’s Covid-19 Vaccine Task Force

      “If the Trump administration approaches vaccine development as it has Covid-19 prevention, testing and treatment, the world may be in for years of more extraordinary pain,” said Public Citizen. 

    • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Is Cracking Down on Cities’ Enforcement of COVID-19 Orders, but Many Already Took a Lax Approach

      A few days after Easter, the Police Department in Lubbock, Texas, received a call from a concerned employee of a car dealership on the southwest side of the West Texas town.

      Management had continued to flout safety orders imposed by Gov. Greg Abbott, part of an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, according to the employee who said he was about to self-quarantine after coming into contact with personal protective equipment a customer had left in a traded-in vehicle.

    • ‘We Are Going to Have More Deaths,’ Warns Wisconsin Governor as State Supreme Court Strikes Down Stay-at-Home Order

      “We are in the wild west,” said Democratic Gov. Tony Evers following the court’s ruling.

    • Downplaying Threat Covid-19 Poses to Children, Trump Calls Fauci’s Cautions Over Reopening Schools ‘Unacceptable’

      “This isn’t complicated. Dr. Fauci is a highly decorated scientist and doctor, a respected medical expert who spent his life leading American efforts to fight infectious diseases. Trump is a compulsive liar who suggested we could fight Covid-19 by injecting people with bleach.”

    • Survey says 83 percent of Russian doctors treating COVID-19 patients lack PPE

      According to the results of a joint survey, 83 percent of doctors working at Russian medical institutions where coronavirus patients are being treated reported a lack or absence of necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). The study, shared with Meduza’s editorial office, was conducted by the professional network “Doctors at Work” and the Russian television channel “Doktor.” The survey was conducted among 1,175 medical workers from May 2–5.

    • Coronavirus spread in Russia appears to slow, though new daily cases hover at 10,000

      On the morning of May 14, Russian officials announced that the country recorded 9,974 new coronavirus infections in the past day (up 4.1 percent from the day before) bringing the nation’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 252,245 patients. The only country in the world with more registered coronavirus patients is the United States, where nearly 1.4 million people have tested positive for the disease.

    • Moscow announces free mass testing for COVID-19 antibodies beginning May 15

      Beginning on May 15, Moscow will be offering its residents free mass testing for COVID-19 antibodies, RIA Novosti reports, citing Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin.

    • WATCH LIVE: Whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright Testifies on Failures of Trump Administration’s Covid-19 Response

      The ousted federal scientist is expected to offer damning testimony.

    • Everyone Agrees That Contact Tracing Apps Are Key To Bringing COVID-19 Under Control; Iceland Has Tried Them, And Isn’t So Sure

      Given the massive impact that the coronavirus is having on life and the economy around the world, it’s no wonder that governments are desperately searching for ways to bring the disease under control. One popular option is to use Bluetooth-based contact tracing apps on smartphones to find out who might be at risk from people nearby who are already infected. Dozens of countries are taking this route. Such is the evident utility of this approach, that even rivals like Apple and Google are willing to work together on a contact tracing app framework to help the battle against the disease. Although it’s great to see all this public-spirited activity in the tech world, there’s a slight problem with this approach: nobody knows whether it will actually help.

    • ‘Monstrous Cruelty: As Hunger Soars, Trump USDA Resumes Effort to Take Nutrition Benefits From More Than a Million People

      “The administration has decided that now—amid the most pervasive need in a century—is a great time to crack down on Americans who rely on food stamps.”

    • Demanding ‘Unprecedented’ Action From Congress, Sanders Says HEROES Act Must Include Medicare Expansion and $2,000 Monthly Payments

      “The Senate must improve this legislation if we are to adequately address the two most urgent needs facing working families right now: healthcare and economic security.”

    • Iranian Women Squeezed By US Sanctions, COVID-19 and Their Government

      “The Iranian women’s movement is more isolated today than it has ever been in all my years of activism.”

    • COVID-19: Why Iran Is Doing Better Than You Think

      So Iran’s going through its worst year and is hiding the true numbers of Coronavirus victims? It seems it’s also been digging mass graves because it can’t handle the increasing number of deaths, and people are collapsing on the street left and right because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

    • We Need ‘Single Payer Like Yesterday’: Medicare for All Case Made as 16.2 Million Lose Employer-Tied Insurance

      “While Americans may like their employer-provided coverage when they have it, contra Obama, they can’t always keep it.”

    • Deans of Public Health Schools to Trump: Triple Daily Covid-19 Testing Now or US ‘Doomed’ to Vicious Shutdown Cycle

      “All recommendations agree that the cornerstone for not only bending the curve, but bringing the virus to heel, is widely available intensive testing and the ability to trace and quarantine.”

    • When Patients Die Alone, How Do Families and Health Workers Relieve Suffering?

      We look at the tremendous emotional toll the coronavirus is taking on families when loved ones are forced to battle COVID alone in hospitals or at home, with Dr. Diane Meier, director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care and a professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She helped start a 24-hour palliative care hotline for COVID-19 patients in New York City that served nearly 900 people in a four-week period.

    • Amid Pandemic, Everyone Should Be Deemed “Essential” — and Protected as Such

      “When he first came home, it was tough.” So Aleha, the wife of an airman in Colorado, told me. She was describing her family’s life since her husband, who lives with chronic depression, completed a partial hospitalization program and, in March, along with other members of his unit, entered a pandemic lockdown. He was now spending full days at home with her and their four children, which offered needed family time and rest from the daily rigors of training. Yet the military’s pandemic lockdown had its challenges as well. Aside from weekly online sessions with his therapist (the third the military had assigned him in so many weeks), Aleha was left to provide her husband with needed emotional support, while homeschooling their older children and caring for their toddler.

    • Gender Equality Out of Reach During COVID-19?

      We don’t buy it.

    • Something Like Coronavirus Is Exactly What the Doomsday Clock Has Been Warning About

      While “social isolation” and other tactics being used today to combat the coronavirus pandemic are not those needed to address the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and climate change, the resolve now being exhibited to take major steps to bring about swift change is a model for dealing with these existential threats to the future of human life.

    • Coronavirus Pandemic Prompts Global Mental Health Crisis
    • Coronavirus Pandemic Prompts Global Mental Health Crisis

      Is the coronavirus pandemic generating a mental illness crisis? Millions face isolation, poverty and anxiety. We speak with psychology professor and author Andrew Solomon, as the United Nations calls on governments to put mental health “front and center” in their response to the crisis.

    • The Timeliness of Albert Camus’ “The Plague”

      We live in dangerous times! The number of people who have been infected and died from the Coronavirus Pandemic proves it. Our America is running at half-speed at the moment.

    • Leaked White House data shows infections spiking more than 1,000% in rural areas that backed Trump

      Dr. John Ross, a professor at Harvard Medical School, pointed out that all but one of the top 10 counties that saw the largest increases voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.

      The top 10 cities in the report, which was produced on May 7, saw cases increase by more than 72% over seven days. Some areas, like St. Louis and Central City, Ky., saw cases skyrocket by 650% over that span. St. Cloud, Minn., saw cases increase by more than 400%. Other cities like Gainesville, Ga., Racine, Wisc., and Nashville saw increases of more than 100% over a single week.

    • Unreleased White House report shows coronavirus rates spiking in heartland communities

      The spiking infection rates suggest that the pandemic is spreading quickly outside major coastal population centers that were early hot spots, while governors of some of the states that are home to new hot spots are following Trump’s advice to relax stay-at-home restrictions.

    • Can herd immunity help stop the coronavirus? Experts warn it’s not that easy.

      But herd immunity in relation to the coronavirus is far from a reality, particularly without a vaccine. Ryan said the term “herd immunity” emerged from veterinary epidemiology, typically involving business decisions of whether to let animals die for the overall health of a herd.

      “An individual animal in that sense doesn’t matter, from the perspective of the brutal economics of that decision-making,” Ryan said.

      “So I think we need to be really careful when we use terms in this way around natural infection in humans, because it can lead to a very brutal arithmetic which does not put people and life and suffering at the center of that equation,” he said.

    • It’s Still the Jungle Out There

      As the nation’s largest slaughterhouses and packing plants struggle and close, smaller slaughter and packing operations, on which independent butchers and small farmers depend, have been able to pick up some of the slack. “This has been just an absolute zoo,” says Christopher Young, executive director of the American Association of Meat Processors, which represents about 1,500 facilities with fewer than 500 workers. “I’ve had some of my members describe it as the week before Christmas on steroids.” Young attributes the boom to customers cooking more at home, avoiding crowds at grocery stores, and anticipating possible industrial meat shortages based on news reports.

      Workers at small slaughter operations have stayed healthy compared to their counterparts at big plants. That’s by virtue of their size, says Debbie Farrara of Eagle Bridge Custom Meats, which slaughters for Gibson Family Farms. “I do believe it is ‘easier’ for us to make an attempt to keep our staff healthy and to social distance and still get our work done.” Her team of 20 is now spaced out more widely, and she’s also cut back on staff on some days, so that they can have less exposure to one another.

    • Loud talking could leave coronavirus in the air for up to 14 minutes

      Thousands of droplets from the mouths of people who are talking loudly can stay in the air for between eight and 14 minutes before disappearing, according to a new study. The research, conducted by a team with the US National Institutes of Health and published in PNAS Wednesday, could have significant impact on our understanding of covid-19 transmission.

    • The airborne lifetime of small speech droplets and their potential importance in SARS-CoV-2 transmission

      Speech droplets generated by asymptomatic carriers of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are increasingly considered to be a likely mode of disease transmission. Highly sensitive laser light scattering observations have revealed that loud speech can emit thousands of oral fluid droplets per second. In a closed, stagnant air environment, they disappear from the window of view with time constants in the range of 8 to 14 min, which corresponds to droplet nuclei of ca. 4 μm diameter, or 12- to 21-μm droplets prior to dehydration. These observations confirm that there is a substantial probability that normal speaking causes airborne virus transmission in confined environments.

    • A seventh Amazon employee dies of COVID-19 as the company refuses to say how many are sick

      The death brings the known total of COVID-19 deaths at Amazon warehouses to seven, but Amazon’s process for notifying workers makes the true number difficult to determine. Several workers at IND8 first learned of the death through rumors and say management began informing employees more widely only after being confronted.

      “They weren’t going to say anything if it wasn’t for people asking questions,” says a worker at IND8, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution.

    • Examining Amazon’s treatment of its workers

      But the company has come under fire for the way it treats those workers on the frontlines of delivery. In his latest earnings’ report, a week and a half ago, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos committed an additional $4 billion, at least, for COVID expenses, including more protections for his employees. He said it would require not just money, but invention and humility. Figuring out how to make this happen falls in great part on the shoulders of Amazon’s head of operations, Dave Clark.

  • Integrity/Availability

    • Proprietary

      • Security

        • The state of security in open source

          If you want to help grow awareness around securing open source software, take the State of Open Source Survey.

          Why it is important, you ask? Every year numerous security vulnerabilities are reported across multiple ecosystems. This report, since 2017, has been a go-to aggregation point of security concerns across application libraries in PyPi, Go (aka Golang), npm, Maven Central, and PHP Packagist.

          Analysis of last year’s report shows rapid growth of vulnerabilities across all of these programming languages (Python, Go, Node.js, Java, PHP). As part of our research, we turn to the community to share their perspectives through our State of Open Source Security survey.

        • Privacy/Surveillance

          • McConnell’s PATRIOT Act Expansion Would Hand Barr Unprecedented Spy Powers

            Sen. Ron Wyden was joined by privacy advocates Wednesday in forcefully condemning a new proposed amendment to the PATRIOT Act put forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that would greatly expand the U.S. attorney general’s surveillance powers under FISA.

          • Salami seller peddles his own meat to customer by using her contact tracing details

            A New Zealand woman went to a Subway restaurant for a regular purchase of a sub sandwich, but then went home to an unpleasant surprise: unwanted advances from the man who sold her the sub sandwich. How did he get her contact information to hit on her? During the course of her purchase, she had to write her personal information down on a contact tracing information list provided by the salami seller. The woman, who the media is calling Jess, described the situation to Newshub:

          • ‘No Excuse’: Senate Slammed for Reauthorizing Government Spy Powers Without Crucial Privacy Protections

            One advocate declared “it would be dangerously irresponsible for the House to pass this reauthorization.”

          • These are the 37 Senators that voted to let the FBI seize your internet history without a warrant

            A key amendment to the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020 that would have required authorities to obtain a warrant before gaining access to American internet browsing and search history just failed on the Senate floor by a single vote. For those that are unaware, key parts of the Patriot Act – namely the mass surveillance section – is currently unauthorized and needs to be reauthorized by Congress to stay in effect. The current bill under consideration to do that is called the US FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020 and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has snuck in an amendment that would allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to seize internet search and browsing history if they claim it is tied to an active investigation. To try and stop this, Senators Wyden and Daines introduced their own amendment that would stop the FBI from being able to get that information without a warrant – as makes sense. That amendment needed 60 votes to pass, and only received 59 Wednesday afternoon.

          • Richard Burr Steps Down From Chairmanship of Senate Intelligence Committee

            Sen. Richard Burr will be stepping aside as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee during the investigation into his stock trades, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday.

            “Senator Burr contacted me this morning to inform me of his decision,” McConnell wrote in a statement. “We agreed that this decision would be in the best interests of the committee and will be effective at the end of the day tomorrow.”

          • Richard Burr Steps Down From Intel Committee Following FBI Warrant; Feinstein Talks To FBI, While Loeffler Won’t Say

            Following the news that the FBI got a warrant and seized Senator Richard Burr’s phone as part of its investigation into his alleged insider trading, Burr has announced that he’s stepping down from being the chair of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, where he’s long been one of the biggest boosters of the surveillance state.

          • Singapore’s Temasek Joins Facebook-Backed Libra Association

            Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings Pte has joined the Libra Association — the organization behind Facebook Inc.’s proposed digital currency.

            Libra said in an emailed statement that San Francisco-based crypto investment firm Paradigm, as well as investor Slow Ventures, have also joined as new members.

          • Coronavirus speeds up Finns’ switch to paying by card

            Cash withdrawals from ATMs, bank branches and stores have nearly halved from the first quarter. At the same time, the use of payment cards in proportion to cash has increased, and the average value of card purchases has grown by 25 per cent. The statistics are based on data collected from the transactions of around 2.5 million cards, which covers most cards issued by OP.

          • Don’t rely on contact-tracing apps

            They are an attractive idea. Yet contact-tracing apps are also an untested medical invention that will be introduced without the sort of safeguards that new drugs are subjected to. Inaccurate information can mislead health officials and citizens in ways that can be as harmful as any failed drug. Governments should proceed with care.

            Coverage is one complication. Epidemiologists reckon that apps might be useful if around 60% of people use them. Yet even in Europe, where adoption is highest, only 76% of people have mobile-[Internet] subscriptions. That number is lower among the elderly, the most vulnerable to covid-19. A recent survey suggested less than half of Americans would use a contact-tracing app.

            Accuracy is an issue, too. Such apps are designed to listen out for nearby mobile phones, registering a contact if another device comes close enough. Yet the strength of the radio signals used to do this is affected by all sorts of things besides distance. Human bodies impede transmission, for instance, meaning a phone in a pocket will behave differently from one in a hand.

            That could make it hard to calibrate the system—and a mistake would have consequences. Too sensitive, and you risk a deluge of “false positives”: contacts deemed close and significant that were actually distant and irrelevant. Too forgiving, and genuine cases of viral transmission will go undetected.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘BBC Russian Service’ reports suspect in the downing of Flight MH17’s arrest in unrecognized ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’

      Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko — one of the four suspects accused in the trial for the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 — has been arrested in Donetsk, the BBC Russian Service reported. 

    • Michael McClure: Beat Poet and Playwright Helped Thaw Cold War American Culture

      Of the five American poets who performed their work at the Six Gallery in San Francisco in 1955 only one of them—Gary Snyder—is still alive and he’s 90. Michael McClure, who was born in Kansas in 1932, died in Oakland, California on May 4, 2020. He was 87. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who attended the landmark cultural event at the Six, is still alive, at 100, but he didn’t read his work. While Ferlinghetti published the Beat Generation writers he wasn’t really a Beat, but a bohemian, an anarchist and in a way petty bourgeois, as the owner of City Lights Books.

    • Celebrated to Death: the Betrayal of the American Soldier

      “Every day is a copy of a copy of a copy.” That meme, from the moment when Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club offers a 1,000-yard stare at an office copy machine, captures this moment perfectly — at least for those of us removed from the front lines of the Covid-19 crisis. Isolated inside a Boston apartment, I typically sought new ways to shake the snow globe, to see the same bubble — the same stuff — differently.

    • Greenlighting War: Iran and Yemen

      On May 7, Republicans proved yet again that most of them are perfectly happy allowing President Donald Trump unchecked discretion to make war.

    • What on Earth is the U.S. Doing by Bombing Somalia?

      The Trump administration has quietly ramped up a vicious bombing—and covert raiding—campaign in Somalia amid a global coronavirus pandemic. Neither the White House nor the Pentagon has provided any explanation for the deadly escalation of a war that Congress hasn’t declared and the media rarely reports. At stake are many thousands of lives.

    • My Israeli Nemesis Is Moving to America

      The soon-to-be ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, made clear his lack of regard for international law and global opinion, stating that: “We are telling the world that it doesn’t matter what the nations of the world say.”

    • The U.S. Military is Hell-Bent on Trying to Overpower China

      On April 1, Admiral Philip Davidson—the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command—told the U.S. Congress that he would like $20 billion to create a robust military cordon that runs from California to Japan and down the Pacific Rim of Asia. His proposal—titled “Regain the Advantage”—pointed to the “renewed threat we face from Great Power Competition. … Without a valid and convincing conventional deterrent, China and Russia will be emboldened to take action in the region to supplant U.S. interests.”

    • The Venezuela Kerfuffle and the Secret Team

      The recent snafu of the covert Venezuela operation echoes the account of the Bay Of Pigs fiasco in Col L. Fletcher Prouty’s repressed book, The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World first published in 1973. After good early sales,100 positive reviews and a printing of 100,000 copies of a paperback by Ballantine books, it disappeared from bookstores, libraries, and even the Library of Congress. It was “sanitized,” in CIA speak. Recently it has been reissued.

    • Life With the Muslim Brotherhood: One Woman’s Story

      Lorenzo Vidino, director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, has studied the Muslim Brotherhood closely since the days before 9/11. In The Closed Circle: Joining and Leaving the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, recently published by Columbia University Press, Vidino profiles a dozen individuals who abandoned the Muslim Brotherhood following periods of deep involvement with the group in Europe and North America—including, the Swedish woman whose story is the subject of the book excerpt that follows.

    • Turkey: Erdogan’s “Leftovers of the Sword”

      “Leftover of the sword” (kılıç artığı in Turkish) is a commonly used insult in Turkey that often refers to the survivors of the Christian massacres that mainly targeted Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians in the Ottoman Empire and its successor, Turkey.

      As the head of state, Erdoğan using the phrase publicly is alarming on many levels. The phrase not only insults the victims and the survivors of the massacres but also endangers the safety of Turkey’s dwindling Christian community, who are often exposed to pressures that include physical attacks.

    • Heavily Armed Protesters Gather Again At Michigan’s Capitol Denouncing Home Order

      And tensions have been brought to a boil between Whitmer and Republican leadership in the state after the governor not only rebuffed Republican plans to re-open the economy in favor of following advice of epidemiologists from the University of Michigan, but also extended the stay-at-home order through May 28.

    • [Older] Revealed: major anti-lockdown group’s links to America’s far right

      AR2 presents itself as a grassroots network, but the recordings and other materials reveal its allies include a well-connected Tea Party co-founder and a family of serial online activists who have rolled out dozens of “reopen” websites and Facebook groups.

      [...]

      The Dorr brothers have orchestrated online campaigns which stake out positions to the right of established pro-gun groups such as the NRA, and state-based right-to-life groups. The campaigns then encourage rank-and-file conservatives to donate money and sign petitions on websites that harvest their data.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • QAnon Is More Important Than You Think

      Taking a page from Trump’s playbook, Q frequently rails against legitimate sources of information as fake. Shock and Harger rely on information they encounter on Facebook rather than news outlets run by journalists. They don’t read the local paper or watch any of the major television networks. “You can’t watch the news,” Shock said. “Your news channel ain’t gonna tell us shit.” Harger says he likes One America News Network. Not so long ago, he used to watch CNN, and couldn’t get enough of Wolf Blitzer. “We were glued to that; we always have been,” he said. “Until this man, Trump, really opened our eyes to what’s happening. And Q. Q is telling us beforehand the stuff that’s going to happen.” I asked Harger and Shock for examples of predictions that had come true. They could not provide specifics and instead encouraged me to do the research myself. When I asked them how they explained the events Q had predicted that never happened, such as Clinton’s arrest, they said that deception is part of Q’s plan. Shock added, “I think there were more things that were predicted that did happen.” Her tone was gentle rather than indignant.

    • Rejection of Detained Iranian Journalist’s Pandemic Release Requests Upsets Wife

      Moghadam has been serving a 12-year sentence, upheld by an appeals court in March 2019, at the Greater Tehran Penitentiary on charges of “spreading propaganda against the government.” A lower court imposed the sentence in August 2018 after authorities detained him earlier that year while he covered street protests by other Gonabadi Dervishes in Tehran.

    • Protesting Trump Supporters ‘Berate’ and ‘Practically Chase’ TV Reporter

      The protesters were there to send a message about their displeasure with the safety policies put into place by the state due to the coronavirus. But if they truly want their reopen message to be heard, you’d think some media coverage would be welcome. The reason to rally or protest, one would think, is to draw enough attention that would then exert pressure on local officials to make changes. But that does not appear to be their aim, and their distrust of the media seems to be so entrenched that they don’t take that into consideration. Instead, they resort to what their leader has mastered — simply airing grievances.

  • Environment

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Judge Tells Devin Nunes’ Dad (And Lawyer Stephen Biss) To Put Up Or Shut Up In Defamation Lawsuit Over Esquire Article

      Remember, Rep. Devin Nunes really doesn’t want you to read this Esquire article entitled, Devin Nunes’s Family Farm Is Hiding a Politically Explosive Secret. He’d be super duper upset if you read it. The article is about how Nunes, who frequently refers to his prior job as a “dairy farmer” in Tulare, California, probably doesn’t want the world to know that his family up and left California to take their farm to Iowa. The article is a worthwhile read, detailing how the information about the location of the Nunes’ family farm seems to stay hidden — including how an article that reveals the Nunes’ family presence in Iowa, published in the publication Dairy Star in 2009, suddenly disappeared from Dairy Star’s website when Lizza showed up in Iowa asking questions. The article also discusses how many farms in the area employ undocumented workers, but that’s almost a side plot.

  • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Journalists say Sechin to remain CEO of ‘Rosneft’ for five more years

      The Russian government signed a directive to extend “Rosneft” CEO Igor Sechin’s contract for five more years, Vedomosti reported on May 13. The newspaper cited three sources familiar with the oil company’s leadership, and a federal official.

    • “The American friends”: New court files expose Sheldon Adelson’s security team in US spy operation against Julian Assange

      As the co-founder of a small security consulting firm called UC Global, David Morales spent years slogging through the minor leagues of the private mercenary world. A former Spanish special forces officer, Morales yearned to be the next Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder who leveraged his army-for-hire into high-level political connections across the globe. But by 2016, he had secured just one significant contract, to guard the children of Ecuador’s then-President Rafael Correa and his country’s embassy in the UK.

      The London embassy contract proved especially valuable to Morales, however. Inside the diplomatic compound, his men guarded Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, a top target of the US government who had been living in the building since Correa granted him asylum in 2012. It was not long before Morales realized he had a big league opportunity on his hands.

      In 2016, Morales rushed off alone to a security fair in Las Vegas, hoping to rustle up lucrative new gigs by touting his role as the guardian of Assange. Days later, he returned to his company’s headquarters in Jerez de Frontera, Spain with exciting news.

    • UK Government blind to common sense over Julian Assange

      Andrew Wilkie MP and George Christensen MP, Co-Chairs of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group, are deeply disappointed with the unsatisfactory response from the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice in the Government of the United Kingdom, the Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP, which advised that Julian Assange will not be granted compassionate release from prison on the basis that he does not meet the criteria and he also presents as a flight risk.
      “The fact that Julian Assange is in prison in the first place is complete nonsense,” Mr Wilkie said.
      “All he did was expose hard evidence of US war crimes, corruption and the inhumane treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. He should be lauded as a hero, but instead the UK Government is digging in its heels and kowtowing to the Trump administration.
      “The risks Mr Assange faces during the COVID-19 pandemic make it even more important that his extradition to the United States be dropped and that he be returned to Australia. If the British and American Governments won’t entertain that, then surely they can demonstrate the most basic human decency and release Mr Assange into community detention in the UK.”
      “It is very disappointing to see that we have been sent little more than a form letter from the head of the UK Justice committee following our approaches for the compassionate release of Julian Assange into home detention due to the current health concerns,” Mr Christensen said.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Racism and the National Soul

      The nation’s racism has manifested itself over the centuries in countless ways, politically, socially, economically. The racism is deeply embedded in the country’s institutions, its legal system and—oh so discretely and between the lines—in our founding documents.

    • Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service admits to ‘use of force and police instruments’ during prison riot in Siberia

      Employees of Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) admitted to the “use of force and police instruments” during a riot at Penal Colony No.15 in the Siberian city of Angarsk on April 9. Information about the treatment of the prison’s 415 inmates was issued in response to a request from Vladimir Osechkin, the founder of the human rights project Gulagu.net.

    • The Sanders Campaign Was About “Us”—Not Bernie—Remember?

      It is vital that grassroots activists in upcoming primary states take the initiative and get out the vote for Bernie.

    • Wisconsin Is “Wild West” After Supreme Court Ruling Against Shelter-in-Place

      A ruling from the state Supreme Court in Wisconsin on Wednesday has effectively ended Gov. Tony Evers’s stay-at-home order throughout the entire state.

    • Our Continuing Terror: the Murder of Ahmaud Arbery

      Today there is a national outcry about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. The public condemnation has forced a belated response.

    • Amnesty International USA urges President Trump to release whistleblower Reality Winner

      Amnesty International USA urges President Trump to release whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner. The COVID-19 pandemic and Winner’s underlying medical conditions underscore the urgent need for President Trump to act without delay. Winner has filed a petition for commutation of her sentence, and it should be considered immediately.
      Winner is an Air Force veteran and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who pled guilty to “unlawful retention and transmission of national defense information” and was sentenced in August 2018 to over 5 years in prison, with credit for time served since her arrest in 2017. She shared a classified NSA report about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with The Intercept.
      According to The Intercept, the NSA report showed that “Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before” the election. According to The Intercept, “Russian hacking may have penetrated further into U.S. voting systems than was previously understood”. Yet, despite its clear public interest, the government had failed to make this information public.
      The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty the U.S. has ratified, protects the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to seek, receive and impart information of all kinds. While international human right law allows governments to place certain restrictions on their employees to prevent unauthorized disclosures of confidential information, national security cannot be a blanket justification to withhold information about wrongdoing or other information of public interest.

    • NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Files Appeal For Compassionate Release During COVID-19 Pandemic

      NSA whistleblower Reality Winner appealed a federal court decision, which rejected her request for compassionate release from Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. “The entire basis for Reality’s motion—and so many like hers—is that she cannot afford to wait until she is removed from FMC Carswell in a stretcher, or worse, before she is afforded relief,” Winner’s attorneys declared [PDF]. Winner’s legal team further contended the appeal may force the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to clarify how courts throughout the United States should apply the First Step Act. That could help numerous individuals seeking release during the coronavirus pandemic. “A favorable decision will pave the way for other prisoners to seek relief in accordance with the clear intent of the First Step Act,” according to her attorneys. Winner pled guilty in 2018 to one count of violating the Espionage Act when she disclosed an NSA report to The Intercept. She believed the report contained evidence that Russian hackers targeted United States voter registration systems during the 2016 election.She has served more than half of her 63-month sentence, and her attorneys believe she should be released to home confinement to serve the remaining 19 months of her sentence.But Judge Randal Hall sided with the Justice Department on April 24 and contended the “medical prison,” where Winner is incarcerated, is “presumably better equipped than most to deal with any onset of COVID-19 in its inmates.” Hall argued Winner had not “carried the burden of demonstrating that her specific medical conditions” placed her “at a risk substantial enough to justify her early release.” The motion for an appeal, which was filed in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, contends the district court’s ruling was “erroneous” because it was “based on sheer speculation, ignored the contrary evidence, and denied Reality the ability to [present] additional supporting evidence at hearing.”“In holding that Reality failed to meet her burden to demonstrate ‘extraordinary and compelling’ circumstances justifying her release, the trial court went out of its way to speculate, without any evidence at all, that FMC Carswell is ‘better equipped’ to handle the global pandemic.”Furthermore, Winner’s attorneys insisted the court “ignored the evidence provided by Reality that BOP’s response on the whole, and FMC Carswell’s response in particular, is and has been, woefully inadequate.”Reacting to the appeal, Billie Winner-Davis told Shadowproof, “I hope that the [appeals] court will seriously consider releasing my daughter, Reality Winner, from prison at this time.” “Every day I fear for her health and safety. I fear that she may actually become sick with COVID-19, and I fear that she will not have the necessary care.”

    • The pandemic exposes the truth: Right-wing “individualism” is just selfish garbage

      This moment, in other words, was another reminder that Trump doesn’t even grasp the basic concept of caring about people other than yourself. In his mind, the only factor that should determine whether a student goes back to school is the personal risk to that student. It doesn’t even occur to him that students might have concerns about other people’s health — possibly even members of their own families.

      But this problem extends beyond Trump. For decades, conservatism has preached a gospel of “individualism,” disdaining the idea — which is backed by considerable scientific evidence — that humans are deeply interdependent pack animals whose survival depends more on cooperation than on individual striving. That right-wing gospel is being rapidly exposed as not but silly, but meaningless and even dangerous in the age of coronavirus.

    • Food Insecurity Amidst a Pandemic

      Currently, in the US, 11.1% of Americans are food insecurity in 2018, although this doesn’t sound like a lot, 11.1% equates to 14.3 million people as such it is recognized as a major health crisis.

    • ‘I Know You’re Angry With Me Right Now Because You’re Hungry’

      In a national survey by Hunger Free America, a nonprofit organization based in New York City, 37 percent of parents reported cutting the size of meals or skipping meals for their children because they did not have enough money for food between mid-March and mid-April, when the survey was released. This represents a fivefold increase since before the coronavirus crisis began. “Before all of this started, we had a bigger hunger and poverty problem in this country than any industrialized nation on the planet,” said Joel Berg, the chief executive of Hunger Free America.

      Now, with more than 30 million Americans unemployed since the start of the pandemic, families who already qualified for food assistance need more help than ever, and many families are finding themselves newly in need. Advocates say the government response has not been swift or sweeping enough. Emergency increases to SNAP benefits don’t help the poorest Americans — who are disproportionately families with young children — already receiving the maximum benefits.

    • Coronavirus is exacerbating America’s hunger crisis

      One of the main problems this crisis has emphasized is just how tenuous America’s social safety net really is — and this is certainly the case with SNAP.

      Even before the crisis, the amount SNAP was providing to individuals and families receiving benefits was often not enough to cover a month’s worth of groceries. This shortage is by design: the help is intended to be “supplemental” in nature. Because of this, however, many people have had to turn to food banks in the past to make up the difference. According to a 2016 study from the USDA, almost a third of SNAP recipient families visited a food bank every month. Currently, even more must do so.

    • Racial battle fatigue and the pandemic: A modern-day lynching in Georgia

      These disparities of race and class exist among front-line health care workers as well: For example, Filipino and Filipino-American nurses, nurse’s assistants, home health care workers, doctors and other health providers are dying from the coronavirus at disproportionate rates, compared to other racial and ethnic groups.

    • The disturbing ideology lurking behind Trump and anti-lockdown protesters’ calls to return to normal

      Ending lockdowns too early will kill more Americans—it’s that simple, and even the government’s own agencies project such a scenario. President Donald Trump has admitted it, saying, “Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.” Except that ending the lockdowns now will specifically kill far more African Americans than any other demographic. The health news website MedPage referred to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on blacks as a, “Wildly disproportionate mortality.” Research shows that African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a rate that is, “2.3 times higher than the rate for Asians and Latinos, and 2.6 times higher than the rate for Whites.” In fact, whites are the least impacted demographic in the nation. In New York City, the national epicenter of the disease, the same racialized outcomes are observed, with more African Americans being hospitalized and dying from the disease than any other racial group, followed by Latinos.

    • Defend Mark Hirst

      Mark Hirst, a former senior SNP staffer at Westminster, is being criminally prosecuted under the 2003 Communications Act for saying this…

      [...]

      The Crown Office has been briefing its favourite tame journalist at the Times on the charges against Mark Hirst. You will recall that when I was charged with Contempt of Court, I was contacted by the Times immediately after the police left my home.

      As the Times reports, the Crown office are briefing that Mark Hirst has been charged for stating that Salmond’s accusers would “reap the whirlwind”. Both the Times and the Crown Office are guilty of gross dishonesty in presenting that phrase out of the context, which context you can now see plainly in the above full quote. The Crown Office is dishonestly attempting to convey the impression that “reap the whirlwind” implied some personal or even violent vendetta against the conspirators, whereas what Mark Hirst was actually referring to was a political campaign to take back control of the SNP from scheming careerists.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Forced To Fine Sinclair $48 Million For Bullshitting Regulators

      Last year when Sinclair attempted to acquire Tribune Broadcasting for a cool $3.9 billion, you might recall the company was accused of some highly dodgy behavior in order to get the deal done. Despite the FCC doing its best to neuter most media consolidation protections to help move the deal forward, the union would have still resulted in the merged company violating media ownership limits and dominating local broadcasting in a huge number of new markets.

    • Bill Would Ban Broadband Shutoffs Until COVID-19 Pandemic Eases

      A few weeks back, the Trump FCC put on a big show about a new “Keep America Connected Pledge.” In it, the FCC proudly proclaimed that it had gotten hundreds of ISPs to agree to not disconnect users who couldn’t pay for essential broadband service during a pandemic. The problem: the 60 day pledge was entirely voluntary, temporary, and because the FCC just got done obliterating its authority over ISPs at lobbyist behest (as part of its net neutrality repeal), it’s largely impossible to actually enforce.

    • Faster Internet Coming to Africa With Facebook’s $1 Billion Cable

      The undersea cable sector is experiencing a resurgence. During the 1990s dot-com boom, phone companies spent more than $20 billion laying fiber-optic lines under the oceans. Now tech giants, led by Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, are behind about 80% of the recent investment in transatlantic cable, driven by demand for fast-data transfers used for streaming movies to social messaging.

    • House Legislation Guarantees Internet Access for Those Affected by COVID-19

      The House of Representatives has introduced new COVID-19 emergency response legislation to address the largest public health and economic calamity the United States has faced in generations. Like the crisis it is meant to address, the bill is massive. One provision deserves particular attention: guaranteeing free Internet access if you have been economically harmed by COVID-19 (as originally envisioned in legislation promoted by Congressman Marc Veasey).

      Internet access is more important than ever, as those who can work from home, kids are attending school online, and people in general rely on the Internet for information. People are losing jobs at almost unprecedented rates—the U.S. is facing the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression.  No one can afford to lose Internet access on top of all the other economic stress we are facing.

  • Monopolies

    • Phone data identify travel hubs at risk of a second wave of infections

      Teralytics, a Swiss technology firm, has compiled data from Germany, Italy and America that support this hypothesis. Each time a mobile phone leaves one location and arrives at a new one for an hour or more—whether such travel is within a city or for longer distances—Teralytics logs the journey. In the week before lockdowns began, the firm recorded 5.7bn trips. Travel fell by 40% once they were implemented.

      To test how interconnectedness affects vulnerability to covid-19, we built two statistical models to predict local infection rates during the period just before lockdowns. The first relied solely on each area’s population density and income. The second added on two measures of propensity for travel: its number of journeys and its “network centrality”, or how many other places it tends to exchange visitors with.

    • These disinformation researchers saw the coronavirus ‘infodemic’ coming [iophk: Facebok != Internet]

      For Donovan, the coronavirus and the accompanying deluge of misinformation have laid bare a truth about the [Internet] itself: The early notion that users could be both producers and consumers of information has turned platforms into information landfills, where people are forced to sift through increasingly dangerous garbage in the search for real information.

      “Information is extremely cheap to produce,” she said. “That’s why misinformation is a problem, because you don’t need any evidence, you don’t need any investigation, you don’t need any methods to produce it. Knowledge is incredibly expensive to produce. Experts are sought after, and they aren’t going to work for free. So platform companies can’t rely on the idea that the web is something we build together.”

      Donovan is watching coronavirus misinformation that goes unnoticed or undocumented because its virality is hidden — spread inside private messaging apps and within secret groups or by users who employ tactics to evade detection like web archivers.

      The volume of misinformation and its potential for widespread harm is unprecedented, and the only real solution would have to be, too, Donovan said, suggesting that the platforms should move beyond moderation to a kind of curation.

    • The Anti-vaxxers Are Winning the Battle on Facebook

      As social media sites struggle to purge misinformation and conspiracy theories from their platforms, including campaigns relating to COVID-19, a study has now shown how differing stances on vaccination have evolved and competed over time. The project, led by Neil Johnson, professor of physics at George Washington University, analyzed Facebook communities containing close to 100 million individuals, grouping them into “clusters” to map how members interact, shift and share links.

      The clusters were color coded, mapped and analyzed. And the results were surprising, Johnson told Newsweek, describing the current situation as a “perfect storm” that could see legitimate information drowned out by fringe, fake, science.

    • [Old] Her Mother Isn’t Pleased As Daughter Rips Gates

      Parental disapproval did not carry the day. ”It’s hard enough to control Gates,” the elder Ms. Edstrom said, ”much less your daughter.” She responded with a terse ”no comment” when asked about the book. And a publicist, Claire Lematta, of the public relations firm Waggener Edstrom in Bellevue, Wash., said: ”There’s been very little discussion of this. There’s nothing to say on this.”

    • Patents

      • Big Win for Copycat Products

        The setup begins with the clear statement that Ja-Ru copied the design and then Dolgencorp and TRU stopped buying from Lanard and started buying from Ja-Ru. The question then is whether this setup is simply fair competition or is it somehow unfair or unlawful.

        Here, Lanard made its chalk-pencil product look like a well-known unprotectable product — a pencil with an eraser. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprised that its associated exclusive rights are quite thin.

        The trial court ended the case on summary judgment holding that (1) Ja-Ru’s product does not infringe the asserted design patent, D671,167; (2) that the asserted copyright over the pencil is invalid and not infringed; (3) Ja-Ur’s product does not infringe Lanard’s trade dress; and (4) there was no unfair competition since no IP rights were violated.

        [...]

        Infringing the Design Patent: The design patent is directed toward the “ornamental design for a chalk holder” as shown in the drawings. 35 USC 289 calls out design patent infringer as someone who as “applies the patented design, or any colorable imitation thereof, to any article of manufacture for the purpose of sale …” Here, the court did not cite the statute, but went straight to the test in Egyptian Goddess that asks – what is the scope of the patented design? In that case, the court explained that the scope of a design patent will depend upon how it differs from the prior art.

      • 140+ Global Leaders Call for Free “People’s Vaccine” to Put Human Lives Above Corporate Greed in Fight Against Covid-19

        “Diplomatic platitudes are not enough—we need legal guarantees, and we need them now.”

      • World Leaders, Experts Sign Unprecedented Letter Urging Govts to Back Free COVID Vaccine, Treatments

        urrent and former world leaders, economists and public health advocates have signed an open letter urging the governments of all countries to make a free COVID-19 vaccine available to all people.

        The letter, coordinated by UNAID and Oxfam, bears the signatures of 140 eminent people including President of South Africa and Chair of the African Union, Cyril Ramaphosa, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, the President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall and the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

        It demands that all vaccines, treatments and tests be made patent-free, distributed fairly and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge.

        UNAID, in its press release, has called the letter “the most ambitious position yet set out by world leaders on a COVID-19 vaccine.”

      • Software Patents

        • Prior Art found on SISVEL ’123

          Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winner, Candy Khemka, who received a cash prize of $2,000 for prior art submitted on U.S. Patent 8,490,123. The ’123 patent generally relates to an invention that can “generate a user profile and recommendations on the basis of the user’s previously created playlists and properties derived from them.” The patent is owned by SISVEL SPA, a well-known NPE, and has been asserted in district court litigation against Rhapsody and Spotify.

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Making Sure That MTV Remains An Irrelevant Relic, Rather Than A Cultural Icon

        For those of us of a certain age, MTV defined culture. It was where we learned about not just music, but wider pop culture. Of course, MTV lost its cultural place atop the mountaintop with the rise of the internet, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a key source of culture in the 1980s. Historically, the way that society preserves and remembers culture is to share it and spread it around. This is actually how culture is created. Yet copyright is the opposite of that. Copyright is about locking up content and denying the ability to create shared culture around it. And the best evidence of this is the fact that someone (it is not entirely clear who…) with the power to do so, demanded that the Internet Archive take down a bunch of old MTV videos that were uploaded.

      • MPA/ACE Wants Cloudflare to Identify Operators of Nites Pirate Streaming Site

        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. This week the site was resurrected under a new domain name, Nites.is. Via an application for a DMCA subpoena filed at California court Tuesday, the Motion Picture Association is now demanding that Cloudflare hands over the identities of its operators.

      • Music, Publishing and Sports Industries Back Canada’s Pirate Site Blockades

        Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal has to decide whether the country’s first pirate site blocking order can stay in place. It’s a far-reaching decision that has gained the interest of a wide range of copyright holder groups. A few days ago, representatives from the music, publishing, and sports industries requested to be heard as well.

      • Grant for the Web’s Call for Proposals Is Open Now

        The Web Monetization ecosystem includes wallets, providers, and tools.  Grant for the Web was established to encourage, support, and promote ambitious projects that use and experiment with Web Monetization, and this CFP is a big step towards making the dream of better web business models a reality.

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